Thursday, July 30, 2009

WEDNESDAY NIGHT OF THE IGUANA IS A HIT!



Wednesday Night Of The Iguana is the place to be on a Wednesday Night! We have been averaging between 50-80 people in the audience each week over the past five weeks! Thank you, Nino, and the staff of The Iguana for working with us so closely each week to make it as wonderful as we possibly can make it.
Thank you, Joan Crowe, for giving us this wonderful gift. Thank you Dana Lorge for making this SO MUCH FUN! Thank you Barry Levitt and Saadi Zain for keeping the music flowing each week.
NEXT WEEK WE CELEBRATE MY 30th ANNIVERSARY IN NY!
August 5th: Sandi Durell (http://www.durellproductions.com), Bobbie Horowitz, Carolyn Ohlbaum, Brent Winborn,
and Yaffa

Last night, we called it DIVA NIGHT! We were very fortunate to have Deb Burman, who won this year's BISTRO AWARD for Outstanding female debut.
She is phenomenal. I can't wait to have her join us again. She lifted the roof off the place and it didn't let up till we walked out. It may have been raining outside but it was hot inside. She then introduced her friend Susan Winter (who also won a Bistro Award this year). I'm now a fan! Then they joined forces on Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand's famous GET HAPPY/HAPPY DAYS medley. They made it their own.
We then had 5 performers from the audience perform a solo each ending ACT ONE with Stewart Brodian on keyboard with a hot ragtime selection.

We got ACT TWO off with Dana Lorge doing a hilarious parody of THE MAN THAT GOT AWAY not knowing that Jana Robbins who was our first featured performer of ACT TWO was opening with that song! What a segue-way! It was thrilling to see and hear her again. It's been way too long.
We were then treated to Joan Crowe, who continues her show at The Metropolitan Room on Thursday nights at 9:45. Our next featured performer was another favorite of mine, Maureen Taylor. I am looking forward to her tribute show to Bob Merrill in October.Maureen was followed by Sarah Rice who will be one of our featured performers September 16th. We then brought up Jenna Esposito who brought the house down with a couple of highlights from her Connie Francis show. We then drew a lucky singer from the audience to perform before our closing number. Carol Shedlin!




Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price! Joan Crowe
started this Wednesday night series. Dana Lorge and I have
now put our OWN spin on it and are now hosting this weekly variety show in
NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge (http://www.iguananyc.com) in the heart of
NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission). WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT
THE IGUANA! What they are doing is NOT being done anywhere else! Each week
will showcase 5 entertainers. Other entertainers that show up will be
inserted throughout the show as time permits/this is done by lottery! AND each are
joined by the maestro Barry Levitt on keyboard and Saadi Zain on
bass.Each week will be different. The price is ONLY $10.00 with NO food or drink
minimum (although the food at The Iguana is top notch).CASH ONLY TO BE PAID AT DOOR! This is a nice night out with the family! The show will also be done with class and elegance. A
"throw back" to the variety shows we grew up with. For more info, please
call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_
(http://www.richardskipper.com/) . RESERVATIONS A MUST!!!!!!!!! 212-765-5454. No one admitted before
7:30.



August 12th: Arianna, Barbara Gurskey, Barbara Porteus, Rachel Stone and
MAC HANSON AWARD WINNER Leslie Orofino

August 19th: Helene Feldman, Helena Grenot, Jillian Laurain, Travis Moser,
Alan Palmer

August 26th Dana Lorge hosts! (Richard Skipper is out of town). Special Guest stars Val Ryder, Tanya Mobley, Bryn Holdsworh!

September 2nd: Dana Lorge hosts. Guests Scott Albertson Steve DePasse, Laura Hull, Laura Slutsky,

SEPTEMBER 9th: Richard returns from Malibu! Special guest star: John Demarco, Jackie Draper, Robin James, Sue Matsuki!

September 23rd: Stewart Brodian returns for a full set!
GO SEE A LIVE SHOW THIS WEEK! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/Foundation.htm

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper

Saturday, July 25, 2009

THE BEST IS YET TO COME...


Cy Coleman’s music has a way of sounding chipper even when the lyrics from one of his songwriting partners are scathingly sardonic.
This spritzy irony between words and notes is part of Coleman’s signature showmanship.
Just because you’re jangled and jaded doesn’t mean you don’t deserve an old-fashioned orchestra kick.

That brassy fullness is on dapper display in “The Best Is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman,” which is receiving its world premiere at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura. A celebratory revue devised and directed by lyricist David Zippel, who won a Tony for the original score he and Coleman wrote for “City of Angels”, the production surveys Coleman’s catalog, plucking out glittering pop standards, sparkling Broadway tunes (including a few deliciously bawdy ones) and a number of songs Coleman completed before his death in 2004 that are being theatrically unveiled for the first time.
Popping in and out of musical theater attitudes, the performers reflect the various moods and styles of Coleman and his collaborators, who include such notables as Carolyn Leigh, Dorothy Fields (pictured) and Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Jason-Sally More choreographed than a cabaret yet less dramatically structured than a musical, the production spins about in a pleasant enough limbo.


Clearly, the performers would like it, to paraphrase Coleman and Fields' “Sweet Charity” classic, if their friends (including Liza Minnelli, who was in attendance on Sunday night) could see them now.

Those who don’t have to break a sweat to convey essentials fair best. Billy Stritch, parked behind his piano with a cabaret king’s imperturbability, seems to embody the very soul of Coleman’s cool as he leads the company in a bubbly opening rendition of “The Best Is Yet to Come.”
(Stritch’s singing, by the way, is as strong as his musical supervision and arrangements.)

Lillias White starts off slow yet simmers into a steady boil for “The Oldest Profession” from “The Life,” the Coleman-Ira Gasman show in which she won a Tony. Softly purring or belting at full blast, White seduces (wigged or wigless) with a readily available sassiness, which is put to good effect in "Never Met a Man I Didn't Like," from Coleman and Comden and Green's "The Will Rogers Follies."
Sally Mayes and Julia Murney deliver a bouncy version of Coleman and Zippel’s “What You Don’t Know About Women,” one of the many numbers diagnosing the darker side of love.

Jason Graae, who strains at moments with bug-eyed campiness, memorably croons “Witchcraft”, the indelible ditty Coleman wrote with Leigh. Graae is no Frank Sinatra, but he has a swanky voice that suggests the right amorous ambiance even when he’s signaling a mischievous smirk.

(Graae's understudy, Tom Lowe, will be filling in for him for the rest of the run, though Graae will return if the show extends beyond its scheduled Aug. 2 closing date.)
In the romantic lead department, there’s David Burnham, an eager-to-please charmer with a winsome air. He seems young and occasionally goofy, but he certainly makes beautiful music with Murney in “Only the Rest of My Life,” a song Coleman wrote with Zippel that’s bound to have a healthy posthumous life.


In "The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty," Wilfrid Sheed connects Coleman’s “master strategy for somehow staying both hip and out of date” with the eternal inspiration he found in “great old radio songs.”
Incorporating this kind of critical assessment could transform this buffet of musical appetizers into a more nourishing theatrical meal.
Thanks to Charles McNulty for the info on this show (based on his review)


“The Best Is Yet to Come: The Music of Cy Coleman,” Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Aug. 2. $39 to $65. (805) 667-2900. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.


"Drop Dead Diva" is hands down summer's best new show thanks to its perfect cocktail of wit, charm, heart and brains. And it certainly doesn't hurt that "Diva" has lined up so many amazing guest stars, "Will & Grace" is crying in a corner over losing its crown.
The two biggest names lending their star power to the Lifetime series are Liza Minnelli and Paula Abdul.



The "American Idol" judgess appears as herself in a Sept. 13 dream sequence when Jane is feeling a little blue.
In swoops Paula, bringing along a few of the inspirational encouragements she perfected on the reality show. Here's hoping they have nothing to do with ripping off Jane's head and hanging it from her rear view mirror!
As for Liza, she continues her small screen hot streak -- "Arrested Development," "Saturday Night Live" -- as a sister-sparring psychic on Sept. 20. But they're just two of the amazing celebs crossing paths with our beloved Jane!


The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, an arts education service organization, today released results from two surveys, both attesting to the enormous contribution the city's cultural organizations make to arts teaching and learning in the city's schools.



The Roundtable's annual Impact Survey reveals that in aggregate New York's arts organizations spent more than 15% of their budgets on educational programs and raised tens of millions of dollars in 2007-08 for education programs in New York City public schools. The Roundtable's first-ever Teaching Artist Census indicates that teaching artists, who deliver instruction and programs in the schools for these groups, greatly outnumber licensed school-based arts specialists.
Recently, Johns Hopkins University sponsored a one-day Roundtable on Arts and the Brain, based on a report released by the Dana Foundation that demonstrates how the arts light up parts of the brain like nothing else does. This was followed in Washington, DC by the tenth annual conference on Learning and the Brain. The Roundtable was an invitation-only event and included 200 researchers, teachers, educational leaders, superintendents, principals, and policy makers.



According to Patrice Maynard, leader for Outreach and Development for the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, who attended both events, one particularly moving presentation described the effects of music on the ability of the brains of children to receive and comprehend math concepts, offered by Dr. Elizabeth Spelke, from Harvard University. "Dr. Spelke stated that she has demonstrable evidence that in babies and young children the making of music (not the listening, but the singing, composing, playing an instrument) illuminates parts of the brain, as visible in fMRI imaging, that helps the comprehension of math to accelerate.
She emphasized that the use of the playing of instruments should not be a substitute for the teaching of math, but rather, that understanding math concepts is easier for children who play a musical instrument."

The Dana Foundation research report shows how arts activities influence cognition.
The results demonstrate levels of brain activity that reflect engagement or attentiveness during learning, including the kinds of arts activities (music, dance, painting, etc.) that hold children's attention.

The report validates scientifically what Waldorf educators observe on a daily basis in their classrooms: Artistic activity encourages motivation. Highly motivated children stay engaged in activities. Artistic activity stimulates both hemispheres of the human brain and deepens learning. The language of Waldorf teachers differs from that employed in the Dana report, but the report supports Rudolf Steiner's statements, made in the early part of the twentieth century, that modern science would catch up with his view of education and confirm the remarkable benefits it provides.

The difference between the approach of the Dana Foundation and Waldorf education is the difference between materialistic science and a spiritual - or anthroposophical - view of human beings. The first proceeds from cause to effect; the second begins with the wholeness of the child, which it allows to develop at its own pace, knowing that all learning must be digested artistically, and that the engagement of a child in education is essential.

Dr. Jerome Kagan, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, "made an impassioned plea for wholeness in human beings, ethical standards in child rearing and in the world, a remembrance of what real play was like, and less dependence on external things," states Ms. Maynard.
The Dana report includes suggestions for to how to improve test scores and increase brain capacity through use of the arts, supporting a current "outcomes based" approach to education. Waldorf educators might also use the report as scientific verification of their practices and continue the important task of enthusiastically approaching the human being as a mystery to unfold, not a product to generate. The arts are among the best educational means to assist in just that task.

For more information on Waldorf Education or to read more about the Dana Research Report, visit www.whywaldorfworks.org.

About The Association for Waldorf Schools of North America
The Association for Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) is a not-for-profit membership organization that supports independent Waldorf schools, initiatives, and teacher training institutes, and promotes Waldorf education throughout North America.Waldorf education is a holistic and developmental approach that integrates academic, practical and artistic elements as it addresses the changing needs of the growing child and maturing adolescent. Waldorf schools engage the heart and hands as well as the mind with a lively, experiential curriculum rich in the basics, literature, history, languages, the arts, the social and natural sciences and technology.
The Impact Survey data (copy attached) are based on responses from 61 cultural organizations, ranging in size from major Manhattan-based institutions like the New York Philharmonic and the Guggenheim Museum to smaller groups in other boroughs like Youth on Target in Queens and Ten Penny Players on Staten Island. Their aggregate 2007-08 budgets amounted to over $500 million dollars, out of which they provided approximately $35 million (7%) in services to New York City schools.
The organizations themselves raised $20 million for these education programs. The remaining $15 million was paid by the schools as fees to the groups.
In other words, these programs were subsidized by the providers at a rate of almost 1.5 to 1; thus, on average for every $1 a school paid for services from a cultural organization, it receive roughly $2.50 worth of services.


The annual survey was sent to 253 New York City arts and cultural institutions in May.
Responses from the 61 groups that completed the questionnaire were analyzed for the report. According to Roundtable analysts, a conservative extrapolation from the completed forms to the entire survey pool suggests that the cultural community raises more than $85 million annually for New York's schools.

The Teaching Artist Census represents the Roundtable's effort to determine the size of the cohort delivering arts instruction in the schools.
To date, 54 groups have responded to the census; the census shows that 1,976 unique individuals work as teaching artists for these groups. To avoid a duplicated count, groups were asked to report names rather than simply the number of teaching artists on their rosters. The Roundtable de-duplicated these reports.

This number compares with roughly 2,500 arts specialists currently teaching in the New York Public Schools.
In other words, these 54 groups alone employ almost the same of number of arts instructors as are currently employed by the entire school system. The census was sent to 243 groups. As additional reports are submitted, the data will undoubtedly show that the number of teaching artists working in the schools clearly outnumbers arts specialists by several multiples.


According to David Shookhoff, Chair of the Roundtable, "These two surveys clearly reflect the enormous impact the arts community continues to have on teaching and learning in the arts in New York City. Despite the economic downturn, the cultural community has remained steadfast in its commitment to bringing high-quality instruction and programs to the city's children."

Representatives of the Roundtable maintain that these reports constitute the most accurate, scientifically rigorous effort to date to capture this kind of data; indeed a teaching artist census has never before been undertaken in New York City. In addition to news organs, the Roundtable is disseminating its survey results to the Department of Education, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Council Members, the Mayor's Office, and to other appropriate government offices and agencies. Education officials have used past surveys to advocate effectively for additional city funding for arts programs.

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable is an information-sharing consortium serving arts organizations that provide arts education programs in the New York City schools and the community. In addition to its annual conference, Face to Face, the Roundtable regularly holds Educational Forums around topics of interest to the arts education field. It also sponsors seminars with narrower focuses, of interest to specific constituencies within the arts community. The Roundtable provides information about arts education to the media, government, and general public. Currently, 120 organizations hold full memberships in the Roundtable; an additional 32 organizations and individuals hold associate memberships.
For further information, contact Brad Raimondo, Roundtable Coordinator at coordinator@nycaieroundtable.org or by phone at (212) 642-5979 or visit the organization's web site at www.nycaieroundtable.org.Johnny Depp says his dream role is to play Broadway legend Carol Channing in a biopic -- and now Channing has offered her blessing.


"It is not a new concept to me,” Channing said. “Not at all. Men have been imitating me for as long as I can remember. In fact, most of the impersonations I have seen have had a five-o'clock shadow. I imagine, when or if Johnny should portray me, he will succeed. Because a true artist, such as himself, is one who loves his or her creation and therefore represents their honest view of that which they are creating. I think he is a gifted performer and I would be very proud, as well as interested in seeing what his vision of me would be. Johnny is someone I would very much like to help me and my foundation (ChanningARTS.org) to bring the arts back into the public school system in America."
Depp said in an interview last week that he would love to play Channing. “I love her, I really do, she's amazing. With all the digital technology these days, I could probably pull it off!"

In its glorious opening tableau, "Ragtime" finds its purest, most exhilarating expression. To the Scott Joplin-style syncopation of the title song, the characters who compose the musical's three intertwining ethnic groups -- white Anglo-Saxons, blacks and immigrant Jews -- converge onstage to lay out the evening's conceptual thrust: the revolutionary changes coming to America circa 1906.
"The music," as the characters put it, "of something beginning."
For the Kennedy Center's stirringly intelligent revival of the 1998 show, this beginning is indeed auspicious. Director-choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge arranges the huge cast, nearly three dozen strong, in formations that snake with goosebump-raising authority around the Eisenhower Theater stage. They're on a conga line to the future, the new pieces of a patchwork nation dancing inexorably into place.

More successfully than the lavish Broadway original -- a muscular melody machine that delivered ably on the rich-as-a-milkshake score but still left some theatergoers cold -- Dodge manages to make the idea of a turbulently evolving America the star. Perhaps as we've rounded the corner on another century, and the country is experiencing an acutely stressful testing of both its resolve and its way of doing business, a musical tracing the nation's core values strikes an even more resonant chord.

But despite its prescient survey of such relevant topics as immigration, racism, celebrity and capitalism, the adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's sprawling 1975 novel remains at times a victim of its own grand ambitions.

The musical's parade of octave-scaling ballads, for instance, may have a salutary effect on the applause meter.

And yet, this $4.4 million revival looks and sounds so good, the moments that prompt complaint are ultimately drowned out by sheer musicality.
It's the best-sung show the Kennedy Center has mounted in years, and the choral numbers, like the gorgeous "New Music" and gospel-inflected "Till We Reach That Day," fill the auditorium with harmonies nothing short of heavenly. William David Brohn's orchestrations, voluptuously rendered by conductor James Moore and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, spoil you for the evenings to come when you must endure the equivalent of 98-pound-weakling accompaniments.

Dodge's ensemble is exceptionally well balanced; the show has been cast without brand names. (The original featured Audra McDonald and Brian Stokes Mitchell.) That's not meant to suggest the production is devoid of exceptional turns. The revelatory Manoel Felciano in the role of Tateh, the penniless Latvian Jewish immigrant who ends up inventing a signature American art form, unearths a heretofore unexplored depth and sensuality.
(Sarah Rosenthal, as his young daughter, strikes just the right mournful chord.) In the part of Mother, the archetypal frustrated suburban homemaker, Christiane Noll embodies a lovely sense of a trapped woman's awakening.
Christopher Cox, who plays her son, is a sharp little actor, too.) And Jennlee Shallow's Sarah, the story's martyred victim of racist brutality, proves to be a plaintive powerhouse.


For the in-the-spotlight role of Coalhouse Walker Jr. -- whose fiery reaction to Sarah's death propels the evening's central plot -- Quentin Earl Darrington has the necessary vocal artillery; he sings with Shallow a vibrant version of the crowd-pleasing "The Wheels of a Dream." Though he lacks some of Mitchell's menace and magnum-force magnetism, the deficit is turned to narrative advantage. "Ragtime" seems to work a bit better when the intermingling subplots, expertly knitted together by the librettist, Terrence McNally, are accorded equal weight. The notion of the musical's historical scope -- of individuals, fictional and real, caught up in the wave of the American Century -- gets more persuasive support.

The excellent efforts of set designer Derek McLane and lighting designer Donald Holder have ensured that this "Ragtime" evinces visual appeal.
The action occurs on and around a soaring piece of architecture that looks like the skeleton of a turn-of-the-century mansion, with an assortment of fixed and movable stairs and ladders. The actors, illuminated in Holder's captivating reds and violets, appear on any of the structure's five levels, reinforcing the idea of a great American beehive.


In the interwoven stories, black, white and Jewish, the musical chronicles a moment at which the dominant culture is losing its exclusive grip and the nation is loosening up, becoming truly polyglot. A culture immersing itself in new ways of thinking is emerging, too, symbolized by the presence of historical figures, from intellectual heavyweights such as Emma Goldman (Donna Migliaccio) and Booker T. Washington (Eric Jordan Young), to wizards such as Henry Ford (Aaron Galligan-Stierle) and Harry Houdini (Jonathan Hammond), to tabloid sensations like the scandalous Evelyn Nesbit (Leigh Ann Larkin). All the costumes, by the way, are from the closet of the original Broadway production.

The spareness of the portable set pieces aids Dodge in her fluid staging; it's all in service to an era that itself is picking up speed.
To lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty's period tempos, the actors perform in the unison of a newfangled assembly line, or dance the sensuous steps of a rag.
Because the myriad characters are drawn as emblems, it's a challenge to develop strong feelings for any of them. (A couple of numbers in the second act, like the comic-relief baseball number "What a Game!" come across as mere time-fillers.) In the major roles, Felciano is the most successful at conveying a flesh-and-blood personality. When he sings about his American success in "Buffalo Nickel Photoplay Inc.," the actor manages to pull back a curtain on the character's soul.


It's the soul of a nation, however, that "Ragtime" really wants you to see. And if your heartstrings are tugged by songs like "The Wheels of a Dream," it may be because this depiction of a young country struggling to overcome its flaws will have you too dreaming about better days to come.


Ragtime, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, book by Terrence McNally. Directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge.
Costumes, Santo Loquasto and Jimm Halliday; sound, Jonathan Deans and Garth Helm; flying effects, Flying by Foy; music director, James Moore.
With Bobby Steggert, Ron Bohmer, Dan Manning, Sumayya Ali, David Garry, Mark Aldrich.
About 2 hours 50 minutes. Through May 17 at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Visit http://www.kennedy-center.org or call 202-467-4600.


In addition to round-the-clock show tunes, Playbill Radio offers the following special programming.

The schedule for the week of July 28-Aug. 3 follows.

Center Stage
July 28: Playbill Radio host Robert Viagas puts on some insulated boots this week to go inside rehearsals for the new Broadway dance revue Burn the Floor, featuring interviews with "So You Think You Can Dance" judge Carrie Ann Inaba and the international cast of the Latin and ballroom dance spectacular, which opens this summer at the Longacre Theatre.

Each week's new "Center Stage" show debuts at 7 PM ET Tuesday, with repeats scheduled for (all times ET) 2 AM Wednesday, July 29; 11 PM Wednesday, July 29; 2 PM Thursday, July 30; 11 AM Saturday, Aug. 1; 4 PM Sunday, Aug. 2.

Edited versions of the "Center Stage" programs are available as podcasts, including:
"The Tin Pan Alley Rag" stars Michael Boatman and Michael Therriault
The Magic of Disney on Broadway: Drew Seeley
Next to Normal orchestrator Michael Starobin and music director Charlie Alterman

First lady Michelle Obama addressed the Cooper Hewitt National Design Awards Friday during a luncheon in the East Room of the White House. A transcript of her remarks, as provided by the White House, follow:

Thank you. Thank you, everyone. (Applause.) Good afternoon and welcome to the White House! (Laughter.) Tonight's house is a little warm in here. (Laughter.) But it is a pleasure to be here with you today to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the National Design Awards and to honor some of the country's most compelling innovators. And I got to meet them all. They are terrific, and we are just thrilled to have you with us today.

Congratulations to all of you -- our honorees and those of you just working hard getting the job done.



You are scientists and artists. Your work is both practical and poetic, educational and inspirational. You represent diverse fields of disciplines but you share the common thread of superior design.

What I love about design is the artistic and scientific complexity that also becomes useful: a laptop, a bridge, an outfit -- (laughter) -- a garden, all drawn from a thousand wells of inspiration and yet grounded in the basic principles of math or science.

Great designers also pursue a mission. Great designers design with mankind in mind. Building on the innovations of the past, you help to shape a better future. Like your lifetime achievement honoree Bill Moggridge, what would we do without our laptops! (Laughter.) My kids would die. (Laughter.) They'd be -- they wouldn't make it through the summer. I don't know whether to thank you, Bill, for that. (Laughter.)

But that future and our ability to solve the great challenges of our time will depend on how we educate and engage the current generation.

That's why the President has made such a strong commitment to ensuring access to high-quality education for all children, particularly in math and science.

And today the President and Secretary Duncan are announcing the "Race to the Top," which is a competitive grant to spur education reform across the country and encourage educators and leaders to embrace innovative approaches to teaching and to learning.
As part of the Recovery Act, Congress has allotted more than $4 billion for this competition -- funding that'll be used for competitive grants to states, school districts, and non-profit partners that are most successful at raising standards, improving student learning, and turning around struggling schools. That is very exciting.

But when it comes to innovation, you all know full well that an educational foundation is only part of the equation, right; that in order for creativity to flourish and imagination to take hold we also need to expose our children to the arts from a very young age.

Even Albert Einstein knew better, right? He knew that there is only so much that a good education could do. These were his words. He said, "I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination." "Imagination," he said, "is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." That's from Einstein, so I think he knew what he was talking about.

We need to ensure that our children have both -- knowledge and imagination. I know I want that for my girls. They deserve to have access to a good education and access to ideas and images that will spark their creativity.

And as First Lady, I have spent a lot of time trying to break down barriers that too often exist between major cultural establishments and the people in their immediate communities.

So we've been sending a lot of role models out there in the far reaches of this city and then inviting kids to come back here to the White House. That's been a big part of the messages of every single event that we've done here at the White House. These kids who are living just inches away from power and prestige and fortune and fame, we want those kids to know that they belong here, too.
We want them to know that they belong here in the White House and in the museums, and in libraries, and laboratories all over this country.

And I want to thank you all today for helping carry that mission out by going out today into the community and making sure that kids know that they belong on the cutting edge of design just the same; that they belong in the world of discovery and science, reminding them that they belong in the presence of great art and beauty; that it is theirs just as much as anyone's in this nation.

And earlier today you shared your visions, your ideas, your experiences and expertise by leading workshops at Smithsonian locations across Washington D.C. And I am grateful to all of you for taking the time to make that happen. From type fonts to technology, from silks and satins to sustainability -- you brought science to life at these seminars. And I've heard glowing reviews about them, and I hope you found them fun, as well.

And I want to thank you for inspiring the next generation of artists and scientists, architects and engineers, innovators and educators and for your contributions to the advancement of design. Thank you so very, very much.

And as I mentioned, the crossroads of science and art, innovation and inspiration are what I love about design. So I'm honored to introduce a man who represents the combination of both.

Wayne Clough, the man who leads one of our nation's premier cultural institutions as Secretary to the Smithsonian, is a trained civil engineer. His years at Georgia Tech planted him firmly on the science and technology end of the spectrum. But here he is, ably leading, right -- he's doing a good job -- (laughter and applause) -- he is ably leading the organization famous for housing the treasures of both science and art, the wonders of nature and mankind, and the marvels of the heavens and the earth. He is the perfect example of the symbiotic character of science and art. And I am so honored to introduce him to you today, our wonderful guest, our host, someone who make my life easier as we explore the Smithsonians with my kids, Wayne Clough. Thank you all. (Applause.)


The one and only Liza Minnelli, an icon of stage and screen and winner of virtually every major award, including an Oscar, four Tonys, two Golden Globes, a Grammy and an Emmy, will present a holiday concert at 8 p.m. Nov. 22 in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

Tickets for her concert, which will benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Buffalo, are $126.50, $111.50 and $86.50, and will go on sale at 10 a.m. on July 31.

Tickets will be available in the Center for the Arts box office from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and at Ticketmaster outlets and ticketmaster.com, or may be charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

For more information, go to http://www.ubcfa.org.

First lady Michelle Obama carried the president’s commitment to higher-quality education to an awards ceremony for prominent designers this afternoon, saying that design, though rooted in inspiration, is grounded in the basic principles of math and science.

“That future and our ability to solve the great challenges of our time will depend on how we educate and engage the current generation,” Mrs. Obama said just before President Obama unveiled the Race to the Top program honoring innovative schools. “That’s why the president has made such a strong commitment to ensuring access to high-quality education for all children, particularly in math and science."

The National Design Awards called the Oscars of the design world by a Smithsonian spokeswoman, celebrated its 10th anniversary with a series of seminars on interior, product, communication, landscape, and architecture design held at Smithsonian museums throughout Washington.

Mrs. Obama said these events are crucial for children living in the nation’s capitol because being in the presence of great art and beauty adds to their learning and development.

“These kids who are living just six inches away from power and prestige and fortune and fame,” Mrs. Obama said. “We want those kids to know that they belong here, too. We want them to know they belong here in the White House, and in the museums and laboratories all over this country.”
Bill Moggridge, who helped design the first laptop computer, was the day’s big honoree, receiving the Lifetime Achievement award.

“What would we do without our laptops?” Mrs. Obama asked to a chorus of laughter. “My kids would die. They wouldn’t make it through the summer.”

FLOTUS fashion watch: Mrs. Obama didn’t wear a design by honoree Fransico Costa for Calvin Klein, instead opting for a canary yellow Michael Kors ensemble -- a capped sleeved jacket and matching skirt.


And the victory-lap comments come from Malcolm Smith, Pedro Espada Jr. and John Sampson, in that order. As expected, the Senate expects to vote on the deal in a session “before school begins,” which probably means early to mid-Augist.

The press release:

The New York State Senate Majority Conference has reached an agreement with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on New York City school governance. The Senate is expected to vote on and pass S.5887 with a chapter amendment designed to increase parental input, promote enhanced arts education, address concerns relating to school safety procedures and strengthen the oversight role of the community superintendents.

Senators Shirley L. Huntley and Martin Malave Dilan were instrumental in negotiating the terms of the chapter amendment, and provided critical leadership to resolve concerns of Members in the Majority Conference.
The draft chapter amendment to S.5887 includes four basic provisions:

* 1) Creation of a Parent Training Center: Increases the capacity of parents to participate and engage in the educational system through training and support programs.
* 2) Establishment of an Arts Advisory Committee: Advises, makes recommendations and issues an annual report on educational policy involving arts education.
* 3) Clarifies Review Process of Principals by Superintendents: Includes quality of curriculum and instruction as part of superintendent review of principals.
* 4) Requiring Schools to Hold Open Public Meetings Concerning School Safety: Directs each school to conduct meetings at least annually, open to parents, to discuss safety concerns including matters related to school safety officers.

“Delivering a quality education for all our children is a moral imperative,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm A. Smith. “Establishing greater avenues for parental input in our schools will better prepare students to contribute as our next generation of thinkers, workers and leaders. The more engaged parents are, the better an education our children receive. We now have a system designed to serve their needs and provide the education our children deserve.”

“This agreement will hold Mayor Bloomberg accountable for the performance of the city’s public school system, and equally important it will provide greater parental involvement in their children’s education, increased curriculum oversight by senior officials, and decision-making input at the school level by superintendents, principals and parents on transportation, school safety, nutrition and other issues,” said Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, Jr. “It will enhance areas that need improvement and further strengthen areas that have experienced success. This agreement, which creates a network of support for our children, will result in greater student achievement.”

“I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Senators Shirley Huntley and Martin Dilan, as well as our partners in the education community for working together to improve the education of the City’s 1.1 million students,” said Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson. “To provide our children with the tools they need to succeed in life requires a partnership between parents, educators and policy makers. Today, we have taken a significant step toward realizing that goal.”

The Senate is expected to return to Albany to vote on the legislation before schools open. Also helpful in reaching a final agreement were Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Deputy Chancellor Chris Serf, Randi Weingarten, President American Federation of Teachers and President United Federation of Teachers; Michael Mulgrew, Vice President, United Federation of Teachers; Jon Kest, Head Organizer NY ACORN (part of the Campaign for Better Schools); and Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education and Organizer with the Campaign for Better Schools.
GO SEE A LIVE SHOW THIS WEEK! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/Foundation.htm

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper


AND DON'T FORGET:



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NYC
Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price! Joan Crowe
started this Wednesday night series. Dana Lorge and Richard Skipper have
now put their OWN spin on it and are now hosting this weekly variety show in
NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge (http://www.iguananyc.com) in the heart of
NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission). WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT
THE IGUANA! What they are doing is NOT being done anywhere else! Each week
will showcase 5 entertainers. Other entertainers that show up will be
inserted throughout the show as time permits/this is done by lottery! AND each are
joined by the maestro Barry Levitt on keyboard and Saadi Zain on
bass.Each week will be different. The price is ONLY $10.00 with NO food or drink
minimum (although the food at The Iguana is top notch).CASH ONLY TO BE PAID AT DOOR! This is a nice night
out with the family! The show will also be done with class and elegance. A
"throw back" to the variety shows we grew up with. For more info, please
call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_
(http://www.richardskipper.com/) . RESERVATIONS A MUST!!!!!!!!! 212-765-5454. No one admitted before
7:30.


NEXT WEEK! July 29th: 2009 Bistro Award Winner for Outstanding Debut: Deb Burman,
Kristopher Monroe, Jana Robbins, Maureen Taylor, and Susan Winter.

August 5th: Sandi Durell, Bobbie Horowitz, Carolyn Ohlbaum, Brent Winborn,
and Yaffa

August 12th: Arianna, Barbara Gurskey, Barbara Porteus, Rachel Stone and
MAC HANSON AWARD WINNER Leslie Orofino

August 19th: Helene Feldman, Helena Grenot, Jillian Laurain, Travis Moser,
Alan Palmer

August 26th Dana Lorge hosts! (Richard Skipper is out of town). Special Guest star Steve Depass!


SEPTEMBER 9th: Richard returns from Malibu! Special guest star: Jackie Draper, Sue Matsuki!





THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS ARE FROM RECENT SHOWS
"What a bright, warm, funny host you are! Thank you so much for allowing me to jump up and enjoy my craft last night. Looking forward to the next one!” –Sierra Rein”



“That was a great evening, glitches or no glitches. My friend Deb Mayer (who I introduced you to, and is a fabulous actress) said she absolutely loved the format you have devised. XXXOOO Diana LaBlanc

“Such a deal!! 3 hours of excellent live entertainment for $10 deserves SRO every week!!!!” Carolyn Kalmus

“I just had to tell you what a great time we all had last night, July 22, with you, Dana, and so many other wonderful entertainers at The Iguana. Keep doing what you're doing....it was a smash. Will be there again soon to see what's up your sleeve next.”

Monday, July 20, 2009

Johnny Depp has played a pirate, a boy with blades for hands and a man who loved a blade or two himself, Sweeney Todd, but Depp reveals to the UK...



Johnny Depp has played a pirate, a boy with blades for hands and a man who loved a blade or two himself, Sweeney Todd, but Depp reveals to the UK Mirror that his dream role would be to play a beloved Broadway icon. The actor told the Mirror that he would love to portray singer/actress Carol Channing in a biopic.
Depp has regularly donned a series of bizarre outfits for his movie roles, he even dressed up as a woman for his starring part in the 1994 Tim Burton comedy Ed Wood. And by all accounts he wants to to go even further by playing the 88-year-old Channing.

He remarked to the paper that, "My dream role would be to play musical legend Carol Channing in a biopic of her life.
I love her, I really do, she's amazing. With all the digital technology these days, I could probably pull it off!" To read more in the Mirror click here.

Films featuring Johnny Depp have grossed over $2.2 billion at the United States box office and over $4.7 billion worldwide.
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, Screen Actors Guild Awards four times and Golden Globe Awards eight times, Depp won the Best Actor Awards from the Golden Globes for his role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and from the Screen Actors Guild for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Depp's newest film, Public Enemies is currently playing in movie theaters. Depp plays outlaw John Dillinger in the motion picture.
On July 18th, for one night only, Carol Channing returnrd home to where she belongs in her first appearance after having to cancel late last year due to fracturing her hip.

The program was in San Francisco at San Francisco State University.





Since her Broadway debut in Blitzsteins' For An Answer and a Time Magazine cover story, which hailed her performance as Lorelei in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Miss Channing has been a star of international acclaim. Her Broadway appearances include some of the most memorable characters in theatrical history, winning three Tony Awards® including one for her legendary portrayal of Dolly Levi in Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly! as well as one for Lifetime Achievement.
Carol's career has been varied and continuing. During her first film role in The First Traveling Saleslady starring opposite Ginger Rogers, she also gave newcomer Clint Eastwood his first on screen kiss. Among her numerous TV and Film successes was the madcap Muzzy in Thoroughly Modern Millie, which earned her an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award. In 2008, Carol was inducted into the Smithsonian Institute in D.C., along with eight other legendary ladies of stage and screen. She still performs with the gusto of a young aspiring actress and has recently committed her life to bringing a refocus on the Arts to the public educational system. Through the Carol Channing/ Harry Kullijian Endowment for the Arts Foundation, Carol offers lectures and performances, hoping to engage the public's support for education in the Arts while also creating scholarships.

After the surprising news of Johnny Depp revealing that his dream role would be to portray Carol Channing, star of stage and screen for most of the 20th century, on film, BroadwayWorld wanted to know what the legendary Channing thought of the announcement.

Ever the gracious delight, Carol Channing was happy to comment on Depp's desire to "dance in her shoes", she remarked, "It is not a new concept to me. Not at all. Men have been imitating me for as long as I can remember. In fact, most of the impersonations I have seen have had a five o'clock shadow.
I imagine, when or if Johnny should portray me, he will succeed.
Because a true artist, such as himself, is one who loves his or her creation and therefore represents their honest view of that which they are creating. I think he is a gifted performer and I would be very proud, as well as interested in seeing what his vision of me would be. Johnny is someone I would very much like to help me and my foundation (ChanningARTS.org) to bring the Arts back into the the public school system in America."

The celebrated actor told the UK Mirror that he would love to portray Broadway beloved icon Carol Channing in a biopic. Depp has regularly donned a series of bizarre outfits for his movie roles, he even dressed up as a woman for his starring part in the 1994 Tim Burton comedy Ed Wood. And by all accounts he wants to to go even further by playing the 88-year-old Channing.

He remarked to the paper that, "My dream role would be to play musical legend Carol Channing in a biopic of her life.
I love her, I really do, she's amazing. With all the digital technology these days, I could probably pull it off!" To read more in the Mirror click here.
Films featuring Johnny Depp have grossed over $2.2 billion at the United States box office and over $4.7 billion worldwide.
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times, Screen Actors Guild Awards four times and Golden Globe Awards eight times, Depp won the Best Actor Awards from the Golden Globes for his role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and from the Screen Actors Guild for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Depp's newest film, Public Enemies is currently playing in movie theaters. Depp plays outlaw John Dillinger in the motion picture.





BWW thanks Harlan Boll for his efforts in helping to report this article.


In recent weeks, the folks who run the Tony Awards have defriended future Will Ferrells and Liza Minnellis, along with several score journalists.

In a recent e-mail, Tony Award Productions informed the 100 or so journalists who cast ballots for the annual prizes that our voting privileges had been canceled.

This dictat came hard on the heels of a ruling that shed “Special Theatrical Event” from the awards.
That’s the category in which Minnelli was a Tony winner in June over Will Ferrell, both of whom had lucrative, popular limited runs on Broadway last season.
So Carrie Fisher’s highly anticipated solo show, “Wishful Drinking,” which arrives in the fall, will have to compete for Tony recognition against full-scale, well-populated new plays like Tracy Letts’s “Superior Donuts” and David Mamet’s “Race.” Poor Carrie won’t stand a chance.
Such head-in-the-sandism is business-as-usual for people who as individuals can be very smart but in concert tend to perform with all the savvy of Shakespeare’s rustics.

The Tonys show no sign of recognizing plays that don’t open on Broadway real estate, for example. Such as “Ruined,” the powerful Lynn Nottage war drama still running at the Manhattan Theatre Club long after many a Tony-nominated show has closed.



And now, in dumping the press, the Tony brains have eliminated the only voting group with no axe to grind beyond personal quirks and taste. The 700 other voters are the producers themselves and members of the various Broadway unions -- people who can generally be counted on to vote for their own shows (or ones their friends are in).


Tony Award Productions said the reason for dropping journalists is because voting represents a conflict of interest for us.
That’s quite a fantastic argument: Restricting the votes to only those with a true conflict of interest, the logic seems to go, somehow sanitizes the voting process.

This from a group which, after more than half a century, still won’t police its members to be certain they bother to see the shows they vote for. While other entertainment industries are busily breaking down barriers and opening up doors, Obama- era inclusionism seems to have escaped the notice of the producers and landlords who run the country’s best-known theater awards.




I was hoping the Oliviers, London’s big theater prizes, might show us how it’s done. Unfortunately, they’re even more Byzantine than the Tonys. British journalists don’t vote. And nobody cares about them (possibly because the press has no stake in them, and anyway they don’t even rate a TV show).

One British press agent told me the Tonys get more play in London than the Oliviers.

Still, at least the Brits have a special events prize to cover oddball entertainments, and forward-looking venues like the nonprofit Donmar Warehouse are right in there competing with commercial shows in the West End. The Tony managers, meanwhile, are protecting a brand whose sell-by date is long past, rather than creating a whole new model.




(Jeremy Gerard is an editor and critic for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this column: Jeremy Gerard in New York at jgerard2@bloomberg.net. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/jul/18/wynton-marsalis-interview



What happens to child stars when they mature? It's too early to tell about Daniel Radcliffe, but some, like Shirley Temple, can't make the transition to grown-up parts, yet aren't forgotten. Others, like Gary Coleman, are forgotten but not gone. A few, like Elizabeth Taylor and Natalie Wood, become even more successful as adults. And others, like Mickey Rooney, keep working without ever regaining the fame they once had.
Patty Duke enjoyed early acclaim, then honed her craft by steady appearances that expanded her range. She became an award-winning actress with an enviable career. Currently portraying Madame Morrible in Wicked at the Orpheum Theatre, she will appear at the Castro Theatre on Monday, July 20, in a tribute arranged by San Francisco's legendary impresario Marc Huestis. Following a reception and an onstage interview with Duke conducted by Bruce Vilanch, Huestis will screen her best-known film, Valley of the Dolls (1967).

Born (1946) in Elmhurst, New York to an alcoholic father and a mother who suffered from clinical depression, Anna Marie Duke began acting on television in 1957. Her film debut was playing the young Emily in The Goddess (58). She attained Broadway stardom in 1959 as Helen Keller opposite Anne Bancroft's Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker.
Both repeated their triumphs in the acclaimed 1962 film, and each won an Oscar, Duke beating Angela Lansbury's fierce mother in The Manchurian Candidate in the Best Supporting Actress category. At that time, she was the youngest actress to win a regular Academy Award.

She starred as look-alike teenage cousi
Patty Duke as Madame Morrible in Wicked .
ns in a television series, The Patty Duke Show (1963-66), then made the transition to an adult in the infamous Valley of the Dolls, based on Jacqueline Susann's tawdry, bestselling roman a clef.
Duke was Neely O'Hara, loosely modeled on Judy Garland. She gets fired from a Broadway show because her singing threatens veteran musical comedy star Helen Lawson (Susan Hayward), a character inspired by Ethel Merman. Neely becomes a major star and a pill-popping egomaniacal diva, every bit as monstrous as Lawson. (Garland was originally cast as Lawson, but was fired when she failed to appear on the set – probably because she had second thoughts about playing such a bitch.) Barbara Parkins and Sharon Tate co-starred with Duke. Despite horrendous reviews, the picture was a box office smash. Its notoriety, however, haunted Duke, much like Faye Dunaway was tarnished after her portrayal of Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest (81).
Until recently, Duke disowned Dolls and her performance in it, both of which became camp classics beloved by contemporary gay men. Four decades later, the film is a fascinating take on an era, and Duke's gutsy, over-the-top emoting is riveting and completely in keeping with the sensationalist material. In a featured role, Hayward, well-known for intense characterizations, matches Duke. But the lovely Parkins and the stunningly beautiful, doomed Tate are too restrained.

After Dolls, Duke worked steadily and restored her luster. For the big screen, she starred in Me, Natalie (69), as a young woman struggling to find herself and romance in Manhattan during the Go-Go years. It won her a Golden Globe Award. Television, however, gave her far more opportunities.
She guested on countless hit series and starred in small-screen movies, playing melodrama, suspense, and comedy with growing assurance. From 1974 to 1999, she garnered eight Emmy nominations, winning three times, for My Sweet Charlie (70), Captains and Kings (76), and, most memorably, as Annie Sullivan in a remake of The Miracle Worker (80). She was also touching as Sook in the 1997 television version of Truman Capote's moving A Christmas Memory.

Her first marriage ended in divorce, and a second was annulled. In 1972, she wed actor John Astin, and for years was billed as Patty Duke Astin. They had two children, but divorced in 1985. Since 1986, she has been married to Michael Pearce.
They have one son. She became the first woman President of the Screen Actors Guild (1985-88). Her autobiography, Call Me Anna, was filmed for television (90), and she played herself starting at age 30. For years, she had battled bi-polar disorder, and wrote courageously about it in 1992's A Brilliant Madness: Living With Manic Depressive Disorder. She has been an early and tireless advocate for people with AIDS.

During the 60s, Duke had a modest recording career, and in 2005 played Aunt Eller in the Broadway revival of Oklahoma!. Madame Morrible in Wicked adds another memorable character to her remarkable career. Her appearance at the Castro should be among the most exciting ever arranged by Huestis.GO SEE A LIVE SHOW THIS WEEK! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/Foundation.htm

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper


AND DON'T FORGET: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NYC



WE WERE SRO LAST WEDNESDAY NIGHT (7/8/09)!
Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price!
Richard Skipper, along with Dana Lorge, is hosting a weekly variety show in NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge in the heart of NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission). WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA! What they are doing is NOT being done anywhere else! Each week will showcase 5 entertainers. Other entertainers that show up will be inserted throughout the show as time permits/this is done by lottery!
AND each are joined by Barry Levitt on keyboard and Saadi Zain on bass.Each week will be different. The price is ONLY $10.00 with NO food or drink minimum (although the food at The Iguana is top notch). This is a nice night out with the family! The show will also be done with class and elegance.
A "throw back" to the variety shows we grew up with. For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit www.RichardSkipper.com. RESERVATIONS A MUST!!!!!!!!! 845-365-0720. No one admitted before 7:30.
TONIGHT (July 15th) guests include: Suzannah Bowling, Diana LeBlanc, Mitch Kahn, Gretchen Reinhagen, and Kim Schultz Improv Group... and a few other surprises as well! Remember $10.00 Cover/No food or drink minimum!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT! July 22nd: Jonathan Long, Sue Matsuki, Maria Ottavia, and Felicia Strassman AND Sharon McNight


July 29th: 2009 Bistro Award Winner for Outstanding Debut: Deb Burman, Kristopher Monroe, Marcus Simeone, Maureen Taylor, and Susan Winter.


August 5th: Sandi Durell, Bobbie Horowitz, Carolyn Ohlbaum, Brent Winborn, and Yaffa

August 12th: Barbara Gurskey, Rachel Stone and Leslie Orofino confirmed (Others TBA)



THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS ARE FROM 7/8/09
"What a bright, warm, funny host you are! Thank you so much for allowing me to jump up and enjoy my craft last night. Looking forward to the next one!” –Sierra Rein”



“That was a great evening, glitches or no glitches. My friend Deb Mayer (who I introduced you to, and is a fabulous actress) said she absolutely loved the format you have devised. XXXOOO Diana LaBlanc

“Such a deal!! 3 hours of excellent live entertainment for $10 deserves SRO every week!!!!” Carolyn Kalmus

“Thank you so much for last night! And thanks to Dana also! I had an absolute ball! Looking forward to coming back on August 5, and hopefully sooner.”
Carolyn Ohlbaum

Friday, July 10, 2009

This "Funny Girl' is a guy


When it came time to line up their annual benefit production, ReVision Theatre had their stage — that majestic bit of living history known as the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park.
They had their director, the young Broadway vet and choreographer Connor Gallagher. And they had their show — "Funny Girl," that 1964 Styne-Merrill musical of showbiz fantasies fulfilled and real-world relationships failed; the singing, dancing biography of vaudeville stage star Fanny Brice that introduced such enduring songs as "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" — not to mention, in her first starring role, a dynamic young force of nature named Barbra Streisand.


But where to find their Fanny? Was there a singing actress available with the larger-than-life skills to take on the signature role of a living legend? A figure who could command the stage of the Paramount and help the Asbury-based ReVision team realize their goals in iconic style?
Calling Steven Brinberg!

An actor and singer whose uncanny impersonation of Streisand has won him a devoted international audience, Brinberg steps into the lead role of "Funny Girl" on Saturday night as the first-ever male Fanny Brice in a legitimate professional production of the show.
The star of the cabaret show "Simply Barbra" thus joins Richard Skipper, the Carol Channing channeler who pulled off a similar feat as the star of last year's ReVision fundraiser, "Hello Dolly!" — the musical that bested "Funny Girl" at the 1964 Tony Awards.

"It's a little scary," says Brinberg of stepping into a part so closely identified with Streisand. "She's completely identified with it — those songs are her signature songs."


"You don't try to exaggerate or out-do her in any way," the performer says of his approach.
"The only answer is not to forget what she's about; to re-create her in ways that people respond to."

Although it's being staged for a single performance only Saturday night, this is no drag-show trifle with taped music and an air of winking parody.
The live orchestra is under the direction of John Fischer, and the producers have stacked the cast with a fairly amazing array of Broadway veterans, including Grant Norman ("Phantom," "Beauty and the Beast") as Brice's unlucky gambler husband Nicky, Loni Ackerman ("Evita," "Cats") as Mrs. Brice, and a host of others representing such shows as "Sunset Boulevard," "Oklahoma!," "Cry-Baby" and "Gypsy."


They've even got a secret weapon — none other than Lainie Kazan, the star of movies ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding," "My Favorite Year"), TV ("The Nanny," "Veronica's Closet") and of course, the stage — where she was actually a member of the original cast of "Funny Girl," understudying and eventually going on for Streisand when the star fell ill. Ms. Kazan will open Saturday's 8 p.m. show with some personal memories of the 1964 production, as well as her own rendition of "His is the Only Music That Makes Me Dance."


It's all for the benefit of the ReVision company and the slate of education programs for children and adults that this group of good neighbors runs from their headquarters inside the city's downtown VFW building. A limited number of tickets ($25-$100) are still available at this writing, for a one-time event that promises to be one of the most talked about in N.J. stage history.
Call 732-455-3059 or visit www.ReVisionTheatre.org to reserve.


Orchestras, theaters, museums and other arts organizations in the nation's suburbs are facing additional challenges in the recession.
THIS ARTICLE IS BY TOM CHESEK FROM ASBURY PARK PRESS

I’d like to pass on a column by Susan Burack I read in the Houghton, Michigan, Daily Mining Gazette (July 3, 2008 issue).

As we get ready to celebrate this country’s independence, and perhaps do some reflecting on what it stands for, I am reminded of the trip I took to Washington, D.C. several years ago to advocate for the arts.

”It was my first visit to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

”John Kennedy said, ‘There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts. The age of Pericles was also the age of Phidias. The age of Lorenzo de Medici was also the age of Leonardo de Vinci. The age of Elizabeth was also the age of Shakespeare. And the new frontier for which I campaign in public life, can also be a new frontier for American art.’
”When Bill Ivey, Calumet native and fellow high school band member with Oren Tikkanen, was Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, he maintained that it was a government agency as important as the Department of Defense.

”Imagine if their budgets were aligned!

”Arts advocacy is about speaking up for funding for the arts. It means contacting our senators and our representative to request their support for funding the National Endowment for the Arts.

”It means being sure that our local school boards understand the value of arts in education when they are working on their budgets.
”Funding for the arts may be difficult to justify in a tight economy.

”However, there are many ways to advocate for the arts. As JFK pointed out, a culture is judged by its arts as much as by its history. What are the arts by which our age will be remembered? What do we value? As my late friend Sally Hruska maintained, ‘Budget is policy.’

How we spend our money indicates what we care about.

In economic development, we know that quality of life, located in a community like ours where the arts thrive, is a factor in business growth.

”What is know as ‘cultural tourism’ generates more dollars for local economies.

”In arts education, there is a strong sense that children who are engaged in the arts are not likely to engage in destructive behavior.
”If all of our schools provided arts education to all of our students before third grade, our prisons might not consume more of the state budget than education.
Frank Rich, now an OpEd columnist, then a drama critic, was a speaker at that advocacy conference in DC. I was thrilled to be introduced to him as one of his fans.

”He was eloquent about the need to support the arts, ‘to provide the cultural nutrients to counteract the junk food of popular culture.’

”Support the arts!”

Pam Hanson

The White Plains Performing Arts Center established a nonprofit musical theater 22 miles from Manhattan in 2007. It had to cancel "Hello, Dolly!" this spring because a lot of corporate and municipal grants dried up.

But board Chairman John Ioris expects to announce a new season shortly. He notes that the tickets are less expensive than Broadway - and come with inexpensive parking.


Our Way, Your Way, Broadway!” New Showtune Open Mic Series Tuesdays 9:30pm – 12:30pm, starting July 7th The new voices of don’t tell mama
Hosted by Dave Foley, Jr. & Michael Kirk

Don’t tell mama is at the heart of New York Cabaret and the New York
Theater district. stablished in 1982, this venue carries on offering
the joyous combination of live music, comedy and fine dining that
epitomizes the best of New York Nightlife. After 27 years in the
business, there is cause for celebration! – don’t tell mama is adding
another color to its rainbow with a special one night a week event
series.
Every Tuesday, beginning July 7th, in the original cabaret room, we
will present “Our Way, Your Way, Broadway!” A Showtune Open Mic
Series featuring the talents of our new restaurant, cabaret and piano
bar staff. Hosted By Dave Foley, Jr. & Michael Kirk with Joe Regan and
Nate Buccieri at the piano. Audience members are invited to perform
in the same spirit as our legendary piano bar which continues 7 nights
a week.

There will be no cover charge - only a 2 drink minimum. Cash only,
please. No reservations are necessary.

The poster-lined walls of don’t tell mama are a testament to numerous
acts that started here and went on to mainstream careers on Broadway,
television and motion pictures. Performers who have graced don’t tell
mama stages have gone on to become the $100,000 Grand Prize Winner on
Star Search, and win the Emmy, Grammy, Tony, Oscar and Pulitzer Prize
– as well as countless MAC, Bistro and Nightlife Awards.

don’t tell mama is a show business landmark, famed throughout the
world, located at 343 West 46th Street, Restaurant Row, between 8th/
9th Avenues.
For performer schedule and more information visit their website at:
www.donttellmamanyc.com. Telephone: 212-757-0788.


Carol Channing will perform her show Carol Channing and Friends on July 18 at San Francisco State University and on August 31 at the Sacramento Music Circus.
For both programs she will be joined by actress Carole Cook and singer Joyce Aimee. Magician Walt Anthony will be part of the July 18 program, while JoAnne Worley will be on hand to emcee the August 31 performance.

During the shows, Channing offers memories and humorous stories and sings several of her signature tunes, including "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," " Little Girl From Little Rock" and, "Hello, Dolly!"
For more information, visit www.channingarts.com. GO SEE A LIVE SHOW THIS WEEK! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/Foundation.htm

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper


AND DON'T FORGET: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NYC



WE WERE SRO WEDNESDAY NIGHT (7/8/09)!
Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price!
Richard Skipper, along with Dana Lorge, is hosting a weekly variety show in NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge in the heart of NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission). WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA! What they are doing is NOT being done anywhere else! Each week will showcase 5 entertainers. Other entertainers that show up will be inserted throughout the show as time permits/this is done by lottery!
AND each are joined by Barry Levitt on keyboard and Saadi Zain on bass.Each week will be different. The price is ONLY $10.00 with NO food or drink minimum (although the food at The Iguana is top notch). This is a nice night out with the family! The show will also be done with class and elegance.
A "throw back" to the variety shows we grew up with. For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit www.RichardSkipper.com. RESERVATIONS A MUST!!!!!!!!! 845-365-0720. No one admitted before 7:30.
NEXT WEDNESDAY’S (July 15th) guests include: Suzannah Bowling, Diana LeBlanc, Michael Hopewell, Mitch Kahn, and Kim Schultz Improv Group... and a few other surprises as well! Remember $10.00 Cover/No food or drink minimum!

July 22nd: Michael Austin, Jonathan Long, Sue Matsuki, Maria Ottavia, and Felicia Strassman AND Sharon McNight


July 29th: 2009 Bistro Award Winner for Outstanding Debut: Deb Burman, Kristopher Monroe, Marcus Simeone, Maureen Taylor, and Susan Winter.


August 5th: Sandi Durell, Bobbie Horowitz, Carolyn Ohlbaum, Brent Winborn, and Yaffa

August 12th: Barbara Gurskey, Rachel Stone and Leslie Orofino confirmed (Others TBA)



THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS ARE FROM 7/8/09
"What a bright, warm, funny host you are! Thank you so much for allowing me to jump up and enjoy my craft last night. Looking forward to the next one!” –Sierra Rein”



“That was a great evening, glitches or no glitches. My friend Deb Mayer (who I introduced you to, and is a fabulous actress) said she absolutely loved the format you have devised. XXXOOO Diana LaBlanc

“Such a deal!! 3 hours of excellent live entertainment for $10 deserves SRO every week!!!!” Carolyn Kalmus

“Thank you so much for last night! And thanks to Dana also! I had an absolute ball! Looking forward to coming back on August 5, and hopefully sooner.”
Carolyn Ohlbaum

Sunday, July 5, 2009

TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT!


TONIGHT IN ASBURY PARK!

FAREWELL PERFORMANCE OF "CAROL CHANNING IN CONCERT STARRING RICHARD SKIPPER!"

After 15 success-FULL years, I am hanging up the sequins to focus on other projects! I hope that you will help me go out with a bang tonight!

Tim McLoone's, Asbury Park to Present Carol Channing Tribute July 5th
BOB EGAN ENTERTAINMENT in association with ELEGANT DIAMOND PRODUCTIONS presents Carol Channing in Concert Starring Richard Skipper, "a loving musical-comedy tribute to Carol Channing," will play one performances at Tim McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.
Show time is 8PM . Paul Stephan wrote the show's arrangements with additional charts by Seth Weinstein.
I will be backed by Jon Weber on piano, Marc Daine on banjo/guitar, Laura Dryer on saxophone, Steve Bartosik on drums and Frank Wagner on bass. I am also joined by singers Rocco Arrigo, Michael Hopewell, Kristopher Monroe.

This show was conceived, written and produced by me.
Variations of this show has won 2 MAC Awards and a Back Stage Bistro Award. For more information visit www.richardskipper.com.
In this intimate evening with one of Broadway s greatest treasures, I take my audiences back to a time of clean wholesome entertainment, featuring highlights from two of Channing' s greatest hits, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Hello Dolly!

THIS IS IT!, TONIGHT! July 5th, 2008 at 8:00 pm. Tim McLoone s Supper Club, 1200 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ. Reservations: (732) 774-1155.

According to Carol Channing, ". . . the first time ever I have been shown with such love, respect and polish. Richard Skipper is a true musical comedy star! He is fabulous as me!"
Copyright ©2008 Richard Skipper. All rights reserved.


Darling! Sorry it has taken me so long to get to your guest book. So, what did I think of your set at the Because we Care Tribute to Sharon McNight? Being a Carol Fan, I was thrilled and delighted with the accuracy of your portrayal.
When I saw you come out as yourself earlier in the program I thought, "How the hell is this guy going to be Carol Channing?" To which your impersonation replied, "Very well, Thank you!"
I don't know if there's anything I would change, or that I didn't like. I love that you interact with the audience and pick them out. I love that you don't need a mic. That really rocks my world to hear great, trained voices without a mic.I'd love to see you do the Jam Song from Alice in Wonderland!
Taken from GUESTBOOK at www.RichardSkipper.com


CHECK THIS OUT:
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/video/video.php?v=97652037030&oid=10566877729


For an overview of images of me as Carol over the years, go here:http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=Richard+Skipper&gbv=2&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=GZxQStW8OJT7tgfZgqWiBA&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4




I will continue to celebrate Carol Channing!
Broadway legend Carol Channing, who in 1964 won a Tony Award for her iconic portrayal of matchmaker Dolly Levi in "Hello! Dolly," will give a benefit performance at Wells Fargo Pavilion on Aug. 31, the night after the curtain falls on the final Music Circus production of the season.

Proceeds from "Carol Channing and Friends," a song-and-dance revue emceed by Jo Anne Worley and featuring actress Carole Cook and singer-actress Joyce Aimée, will be divided between California Musical Theatre, which produces Music Circus, and the Carol Channing & Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts, which supports arts education in schools.

Channing, 88, will formally announce the benefit event to patrons attending Tuesday's opening night of "Thoroughly Modern Millie," the first production in Music Circus' summer schedule.

"Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore and I did the (1967) movie 'Thoroughly Modern Millie.' I got the Golden Globe Award," Channing said Thursday while in Sacramento for the day with Kullijian, her husband of six years. "The Broadway show got the Tony Award, but I never saw it, and I wanted to see this 'Thoroughly Modern Millie.' So they said I could introduce it."

Channing will use the opportunity during her "curtain speech" to reminisce about the movie version of "Millie," which inspired the Broadway show, and to talk about the foundation her husband founded two years ago.

"I'm his spokeswoman," she said.

"You're more than that, baby," Kullijian said, grinning. "This is a part of our life that's so important. The arts is the missing link in our country. The arts have been removed from public schools. We're launching the foundation in California and will be taking it national next year."

Channing, who has appeared in nearly a dozen Broadway shows, was honored in 1995 with a lifetime achievement Tony Award. She began her career in the early 1940s as an understudy to Eve Arden in "Let's Face It."

As part of "Carol Channing and Friends," Channing will reminisce about her days on Broadway and the famous people she knew.

"I'm thrilled she was interested to do it," said Richard Lewis, executive director of California Musical Theatre. "Somebody with that rich theatrical tradition, on a stage in Sacramento with a rich theatrical tradition, is great."

California Musical Theatre shares the mission of arts education with the Channing-Kullijian foundation, he said.

And now Johnny Depp wants to get into the act!
The Hollywood star portrays John Dillinger in 'Public Enemies' and insists the notorious bank robber was watching over him while he was filming scenes.

He told BANG Showbiz: "It was magical to be able to literally walk in the same steps that he took.
You could almost feel him. I did feel him, not to be spooky or anything, but there were moments when I felt his presence. There were moments when I felt a certain level of approval from the guy.
"To be able to fire my Thompson gun out of the very window Dillinger was firing his Thompson out of during the gun battle at Little Bohemia - you can't put a price on that."
After playing a string of charismatic male leads Johnny is now ready for a totally different challenge - and is keen to portray an 88-year-old American singer-and-actress.
The 46-year-old hunk explained: "I would like to play Carol Channing next. I do like Carol Channing, I really do."

Johnny is so determined to test his acting skills he has set his sights on portraying another unlikely character.

He laughingly explained: "In the digital age you can do anything. I could even play a 12-year-old girl at this point."
GO SEE A LIVE SHOW THIS WEEK! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/Foundation.htm

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper


AND DON'T FORGET: July 8
8pm
IGUANA VIP LOUNGE, 240 West 54th Street, NYC
WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA
Dana Lorge and Richard Skipper host this new comedy and musical variety show alomg with Barry Levitt on piano and Saadi Zain on bass. Tonight's guests include: Ann Dawson, Rob Hoover, Sierra Rein, Emmy Rivera, and Camille "Cacciatore" Savitz... and a few other surprises as well! $10.00 Cover/No food or drink minimum!