Sunday, January 10, 2010


(Judy Kreston, pictured, with her husband David Lahm)

Judy Kreston, Singer and Cabaret Owner, Is Dead at 76


Published: December 31, 2009

Judy Kreston, a fixture as a New York cabaret singer and, for a time, a cabaret owner, died Dec. 23 in Manhattan.
She was 76. The cause was cancer, said her husband, the pianist David Lahm.
Ms. Kreston, whose wide repertory included popular songs from the 1940s on, performed for more than two decades with her husband, and their signature as a duo was their clashing yet somehow complementary musical temperaments.
“One of the odder couples of the New York cabaret world,” Stephen Holden called them, writing in The New York Times in 1988.
He added: “With her small, quirky voice and confessional stage manner, Ms. Kreston is a cabaret singer who exudes a hypersensitive awareness and vulnerability.
Mr. Lahm, her accompanist and musical director for the past eight years, is a jazz composer and arranger whose cool pop-jazz arrangements make an effective grounding wire for her edgy anxiety.”
They were regular performers at Jan Wallman’s, a club in the Iroquois Hotel on West 44th Street in Manhattan.
The club’s name was later changed to be a tribute to singers named Judy — notably Garland and Holliday; it was either Judy’s, as a spokesman for the Iroquois said, or Judys, as Mr. Lahm, with proper punctuation on his side, recalled.

In any case, the club lost its lease in 1998, and the next year Mr. Lahm and Ms. Kreston helped revive it, moving it downtown, to Eighth Avenue between 18th and 19th Streets, and renaming it Judy’s Chelsea (definitely with an apostrophe).
It closed for good in 2003. Ms. Kreston and Mr. Lahm released an album, “Medleyfyin’,” the following year.
Rachel Judith Cottle was born in Chicago on Nov. 22, 1933. Her mother, Gitta Gradova, was a noted concert pianist.
Her father, Maurice, was a doctor specializing in rhinology.
She began singing in clubs as a teenager in Chicago. Later she attended Sarah Lawrence, where she majored in psychology while also studying voice with the opera star Marian Anderson.
She also earned a doctorate in statistics from Columbia. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, she provided psychological counseling to the workers in the wreckage.

In addition to her husband, whom she met in 1979 when she attended a club gig he was playing and whom she married in 1990, she is survived by a brother, Thomas Cottle, of Brookline, Mass.; a daughter, Elizabeth Shankin Morehouse, of Manhattan; and two grandchildren.

Georgia Engel to Star in TheatreZone's HIGH SPIRITS; Opens 1/7

Broadway star Georgia Engel, last seen in the production of The Drowsy Chaperone as Mrs. Tottendale, will star in the Theatre Zone's production of HIGH SPIRITS in Naples, Florida.
The production is a limited engagement, playing January 7th through 17th. High Spirits is a musical adaptation of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit.

High Spirits is a musical comedy and was nominated for 8 Tony Awards. It is based on Coward's play Blithe Spirit and includes a charming score by Hugh Martin & Timothy Gray. The musical features a fussy, cantankerous novelist named Charles Condomine, who is re-married but haunted (literally) by the ghost of his late first wife, the clever and insistent Elvira. Elvira is summoned by a visiting "happy medium", Madame Arcati, played by Georgia Engel of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. As the worldly and un-worldly personalities clash, unlikely twists and turns continue throughout the musical.

Engel first appeared in musical productions with Washington's American Light Opera Company. She moved to New York City in 1969, appearing off Broadway in Lend an Ear, and for a year as Minnie Fay in the Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!. A 1971 off Broadway production of The House of Blue Leaves eventually played in Los Angeles, where Engel was seen by Mary Tyler Moore and her husband, producer Grant Tinker.
Engel is probably best known as Georgette Franklin Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, on which she appeared from 1972 until the show ended in 1977. The role won her two Emmy nominations.
After that series ended, she teamed up with former Mary Tyler Moore Show co-star Betty White for The Betty White Show during its first and only (1977-1978) season. She then co-starred on the short-lived 1980 sitcom Goodtime Girls, as Loretta Smoot. She also has been seen in the recurring role of Ezmeralda the good witch on the NBC soap opera Passions.

Engel received consecutive Emmy nominations as outstanding guest actress in a comedy series in 2003, 2004, and 2005 for her role on Everybody Loves Raymond as Robert Barone's mother-in-law, Pat MacDougall.

In 2006, she appeared on Broadway in the musical The Drowsy Chaperone, with Sutton Foster and Edward Hibbert.
She created the role of Mrs. Tottendale, which she continued to perform as of early 2007.
In September 2007, she reprised the role in Toronto for the North American tour.
She recently performed the role at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco, an engagement that ended on Sunday, August 17, 2008. In recent years, she has been appearing at The Muny Theater in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri.
Performances for High Spirits take place January 7th through 9th at 8:00pm, January 9th and 10th at 2:00pm, January 13th through 16th at 8:00pm and January 17th at 2:00pm.
Tickets for High Spirits range in price from $38 to $43 and may be purchaed online at
Performances take place at the G&L Theatre at the Community School of Naples.

For more information, visit


"What is it that makes an artist an artist, and what is it that makes us, as
an audience, respond to this creature with such vital intensity and with
such emotion?
Is it only the sound of their voice, or is it what they have
to convey and how they are able to convey this to us?"
- Karen Ashley

OPERA JAM will be opening it's doors in March of 2010. Opera Jam is a newly
formed company created by Tania Themmen and Debra Friedman Knudsen to
provide valuable services to emerging and established opera singers.
services will include Jam Sessions and Master Classes with webinars and
publicity services to follow. OPERA JAM is a place of performance and
With OPERA JAM, singers will have the opportunity to experiment and
promote themselves in a supportive and relaxed environment which we believe
is imperative to every artist.

Opera Jam Sessions are the perfect place to try things out. This
relaxed and supportive atmosphere will allow the singer more freedom than
the traditional performance or audition.

Opera Jam Sessions will meet weekly at various locations starting in NYC and
expanding to other locations depending on demand.
It will be a place where
singers can work out arias, prepare for auditions or just share their
talents. This unique forum is guided by Allegra Themmen-Pigott who is a
Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Music Therapist, with a
Bachelor of Music from the Manhattan School of Music and a Masters of Arts
in Expressive Therapies from Lesley University.
Ms. Themmen-Pigott has
lectured at St. Thomas Aquanas College, Barnes and Noble, Hall-Brooke
Behavioral Health Services and the American Music Therapy Association.

Although these jam session are not designed to be directly therapeutic,
with Ms. Themmen-Pigott's expertise, the jam session will strive to be
supportive and non-competitive so that the singer can freely express his or
her musicality.

Opera Jam will offer Master Classes with some of the best in the business.
Whether fellow artist, agent, or arts administrator, Opera Jam Masterclasses
will help singers with professional development and carrier building skills.

Our first Master Class is scheduled for January, 2010 in New York City with
Ms. Karen Ashley. Ms. Ashley, former Director of the Domingo-Thornton Young
Artist Program for the Los Angeles Opera and VP of the Opera Division at
Columbia Artist¹s Management, Inc., has worked closely with such
international artist as Marilyn Horne, Teresa Stratas,and Aprile Millo. As a
manager of opera singers, Ms. Ashley specialized in discovering new vocal
talents and guiding them into international careers. Ms. Ashley has an
international reputation as a director of master classes in opera
performance and auditioning. She belongs to several esteemed professional
organizations including, the board of advisors for the Marilyn Horne
foundation, consultant to Gerda Lissner Foundation, a member of the League
of Professional Theatre Women, adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera
Auditions and the Spotlight Awards, and an affiliate of the Renata Scotto (pictured)
Opera Academy in Savona, Italy.

As the demand arises, we will provide Publicity Services and Webinars. Our
web based publicity services are a unique way for the singer to publicize
himself. By hosting of resumes, photos and bios as well as our professional
singer videos in our exclusive Singers' Directory, our participants will be
seen and heard by agents, opera companies, young artist programs and
colleagues. Our Webinars will provide international opportunities of study
and wellness for singers.

For more information, please visit our web site at

Get Real About Your New Year's Resolutions by Kendra Fried

I like to stir the pot from time to time. I could write something pithy and Pollyanna about seizing the moment to make a grandiose resolution and “have the life you’ve always dreamed of!”
But instead, I invite you to seize this moment and question… look inward to the motivations beneath the process of making a resolution.
First, why? Why resolve to change at the beginning of the calendar year? My experience personally and in working with thousands of clients is that a resolution is only as effective as the awareness with which you make it.
Let’s use the examples of weight loss, smoking, or other addictions.
It is important to ask, “Why now?” What makes your chance of long term success any greater by choosing January 1st to start?
Another question to ask: “Why this particular resolution?” It is one thing to know intellectually that you need lose 10 lbs or quit smoking, or to respond to the pleas of your family or partner to take action. However, it is infinitely more powerful to make a commitment from a place of self-awareness and a felt experience of the consequences of your current actions. From this presence comes the possibility of lasting change. True transformation comes from an internal reference point of self love, self awareness, and ideally, compassion for the self, rather than from a place of beating yourself into submission (and I’m not talking erotically here, folks).

The reason our resolutions lose steam after a month or even a week is that they are lacking the fuel of compassion and curiosity! Commit to really looking at the suffering that your condition or actions are creating in your life. Then feel the suffering fully.
How does it feel to inhale smoke all day long? Notice all the pieces of the experience, the pleasant and not so pleasant. From the relief of the first puff or bite, to the shame that may follow after. How does it feel to eat too much sugar?
Before, during, after? How does the extra weight or smoking affect your body, your moods, your dreams and goals?

This practice is called “conscious, compassionate awareness.” When you become fully present to your life and the suffering you may be creating it becomes natural to do something about it in the present moment as well. If you are of the mindset that you will continue to abuse your body or choose suffering “until a certain date” at which time you will suddenly stop, I urge you to consider that you may not be ready to make that particular change.
And you know what? That’s okay. Because when you are truly ready, the change will be for good.
Getting curious and asking deeper questions-tilling the soil of your being- can be uncomfortable and messy, downright crappy feeling. But discovering what motivates you and what calls you to action is a gift worth working towards.

And from the fertile ground of presence and compassionate awareness, you can plant seeds that grow into the life you want for yourself.
Recommended reading: There is Nothing Wrong With You, by Cheri Huber

Kendra Fried is dedicated to empowering you to live a radiant life as a strong and successful LGBT individual. Her wellness programs are a powerful, transformational experience of discovering your authentic self in order to express optimal health and well-being. Kendra is a board-certified holistic health and nutrition counselor, hypnotherapist, Reiki Master Teacher, massage therapist, and yoga instructor. She brings the utmost enthusiasm along with 14 years of experience to create a new resource for Planet Out readers.

To learn more about her work, visit Kendra's website,, for additional information on wellness programs, Yoga BOOTCAMP, monthly and archived newsletters, or to listen to guided meditations and yoga podcasts. Sessions are provided in person and nationwide by phone or SKYPE.


Tom Stajmiger, who is producing the 2010 MARCH IS CABARET MONTH GALA on
THEATER (407 West 42nd Street, NYC - 212-695-6909 - ) on Tuesday, March 2nd at 7:00 pm announced
that long-time cabaret performer Richard Skipper will be the MC of this
year's event.
The Gala is the kick-off event of the 3rd Annual MARCH IS
CABARET MONTH celebration. Tickets will go on sale shortly. Meantime,
sponsors are being sought to defray expenses of the world-wide promotion
offers and the gala. (see related item below)

Richard Skipper has received artistic and critical acclaim over the past 15
years as Carol Channing.
2009 found Richard getting back to his roots and
appearing more as himself. In July, he and Dana Lorge launched WEDNESDAY
NIGHT AT THE IGUANA at The Iguana Restaurant in NYC, a weekly variety show
harkening back to the variety shows of our youth, which has become a popular
weekly event in the cabaret community, featuring a number of performers each
week, as well as open-mic opportunities for those attending.

Stajmiger is currently contacting a number of performers from the world of
cabaret and Broadway to perform at the show, and names will be announced as
arrangements are made.

The original MARCH IS CABARET MONTH promotion, which ended several years
ago, was an attempt by cabaret venue owners to increase the awareness - and
attendance - of cabaret events during the slow months of January and
February. And here in NYC, folks who were nominated for MAC awards, in those
days usually given at the end of March or beginning of April, were urged to
produce reprises of their shows of the previous year duing January and
February, so that voters could more intelligently make their choices on the
preliminary and final ballots. In its early days, the month of March used to
begin with the annual BACK STAGE BISTRO awards gala and end with the MAC
AWARDS gala.
However, as MAC began to reschedule its awards show later in April and into
May, and the BISTRO AWARDS show for several years became a private event for
winners and their friends only the concept of MARCH IS CABARET MONTH faded
In January of 2008, CABARET HOTLINE ONLINE took upon itself the task of
resurrecting MARCH IS CABARET MONTH and with the support of performers,
venues and cabaret organizations, is once more attempting to make the public
more "cabaret aware" during this period. Special MARCH IS CABARET MONTH
events are held around the world, highlighted by a special MARCH IS CABARET
MONTH event presented in NYC during the month of March.

Our hope it to
continue MARCH IS CABARET MONTH as an annual month-long event promoted
around the world to make people aware of the art and artists of cabaret.

Click here to read all about MARCH IS CABARET MONTH including all the benefits
of sponsorship.

MARCH IS CABARET MONTH 2010 is co-sponsored by
Dr. Garrett Bennett ( )
Teresa Fischer
Miranda Music ( )

Ann Walker is best known for her role as LaVonda Jean Dupree, the eldest daughter of Peggy and big sister to Brother Boy and Latrelle. And if you're not familiar with any of these fabulous characters, then you have been missing out on one of the funniest families ever. LaVonda and her sprawling Texas clan made their first public appearance in Del Shores' 1996 stage play, Sordid Lives, which became a movie in 2000 and later a "cult classic" as gay fans embraced the "black comedy about white trash". Then in 2008 LaVonda and company returned in Sordid Lives: The Series, a TV prequel which ran for 12 episodes on LOGO, and Shores is hoping to bring everyone back for two film sequels in the future. Through all these wonderful incarnations, Ann has entertained us as the kindhearted and straight-talking LaVonda, whose unconditional love for her cross-dressing brother and gay nephew has made her a beloved icon of the LGBT community.

The actress began her acting career in theater productions in her hometown of Houston, Texas. She later studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City before moving to Los Angeles, where she has appeared in many television shows, films and plays over the years. But it was Ms. Dupree and Sordid Lives that gained her a legion of devoted fans who adore her--including myself. I am tickled pink to have the lovely Ann Walker here on the Dish to discuss her career and answer a few pop culture questions (and FYI, the first gorgeous pic of her is by photographer Alan Mercer).

We, of course, have to start with Sordid Lives. How did you first meet Del Shores and get cast in the role of LaVonda Dupree?
Del Shores and I first met in 1986 when he saw me in a play, and then in 1987 he called me in to read for Daddy’s Dyin' (Who’s Got the Will?) for the part of Sara Lee Turnover. I didn’t get that part, but he remembered me and called me in when he wrote Daughters of the Lone Star State. He asked me to be Carole Cook's understudy, and I politely told him I didn't do understudy work. As I would find out over our years together, his persistence would reign supreme. He wouldn’t take no for an answer, and when Ms. Cook was going to be gone for two weeks doing her one-woman show, I agreed. As I found out years later, most all of Del's understudies go on to become the stars in his future productions. Well, I did the two weeks, Del got to see me in a great role, and no one seemed to miss Ms. Cook, at least that's the way I remember it.

After that, we became friends and I was now considered part of the unofficial Del Shores White-Trash Acting Ensemble. As such, in 1995, Del called to ask if I would read a short one-act called Nicotine Fit. Little did I know at the time what that phone call would mean in my life. That one-act turned into the world famous Sordid Lives! I was honored to originate the role of LaVonda Dupree and get to re-create Del's real-life Aunt Rita, who gave him unconditional love and understanding for his future goals as an actor and writer. We opened Sordid Lives in a 64-seat theatre in Hollywood in 1996 and received rave reviews.
And the play ran for one and a half years to packed houses.

After our very successful run ended, as all plays do, I went on with my career and didn't think too much about what was going to happen with Sordid Lives. HOORAY...but not so fast, they needed "star names" for some of the roles. Of course, Ann Walker, was--at that time--not a "star name". So Del, being the loving and loyal person that he is, created the role of Juanita Bartlett for me.
I have to say, I was not happy! In fact, to be honest, it was one of the biggest disappointments of my career. I wasn’t "right" for Juanita but, being a good soldier, I agreed to accept it and watch while Beverly D'Angelo did the role of LaVonda.

Well, as Hollywood stories go, maybe mine doesn't rank up there with finding Scarlett O’Hara, but for me, it would change my life forever.
With just three weeks before shooting started, I got the call from Del. He said, "Ann, are you sitting down?" I said, "I am now." "Would you play LaVonda for me again?" I’m sure they could hear me scream "YES!" all the way to Hollywood and Vine. He had wanted me all along so when Beverly D’Angelo got a new pilot and pulled out, they (the suits) made him see lots of other stars for the role. But the big tide turned when another one of our "ensemble" had to drop out and Delta Burke came in as Noleta.

Now there was the required 5-star name and I could get back into my role as LaVonda. And Del got to cast Sarah Hunley as Juanita, who is and was unforgettable in the role. We made the movie, we were invited to many festivals, and we always won the audience award. Everyone loved us and Del, but the people of Palm Springs were our biggest fans. The movie ran there almost three years.

What a great career Del has helped me to achieve. To be able to continue playing LaVonda is a rare and priceless gift.
As an actress, I count myself one of the lucky few who have been given the honor of bringing these rich characters to life. I hope I can continue on this journey of life with Del and that little white trash ensemble that started out together so many years ago.

What has been your favorite Sordid Lives scene?
Episode 6 of the series--"Call Waiting". Love it!

You grew up in Houston, and you've lived in both New York City and Los Angeles. In three words, how would you describe each place.
Houston - Home, Family, Goodbye
NYC - Education, Electric, Exciting
L.A. - Career, Forever, Happiest

You've acted in many theater productions over the years. What is the most memorable moment you have had while performing onstage?
Performing in a play around 1997/98 called Ballad by Tyler Hansen. It was a tour de force role and the biggest challenge I've had as an actress to date.

You've appeared in many interesting films and television shows over the years. What's the first thing that pops into your mind about:

Jagged Edge?
Disappointing. My part was edited down to one line. I had three days work on it and played Glenn Close's personal secretary. I go to the cast and crew screening and discovered only one line was left.

The Young and the Restless?
Promising. I thought "oh great, finally a chance for a contract part", but they gave my boss a heart attack and I was back to being a day player.

Designing Women?
Lovely experience. All the ladies were great to work with.
A big deal. The entire cast was in the scene with me. I was giving a welcoming speech at a masquerade party. Turned out to be fun.

In high school I was:
Not very attractive. I was in the B group. The A group were the cheerleaders and majorettes and class officers. But when I started acting seriously in my twenties, I got pretty. Who knew? And I’ve never looked back.

My favorite comfort food is:
Mac 'n' Cheese.

The last good book I read was:
Water for Elephants. Great book.

When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
I Love Lucy, Soupy Sales, All My Children, Who Do You Trust?, any serial with Roy and Dale, and The Ed Sullivan Show.

Today I never miss a television episode of: The Amazing Race, Glee, Modern Family, The Good Wife, The Mentalist, Nip/Tuck, and Castle.

The very first record album that I purchased with my own money was:
An Elvis Presley record.

If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:
Andrea Bocelli, Bonnie Raitt, K.T. Oslin, The Eagles, Elvis, and The Phantom of the Opera.

Four of my favorite movies are:
Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Sordid Lives and NINE.
If I could star on Broadway in any role in any musical or play, I would be:
Maggie in Ballad by Tyler Hansen.

If I could have anyone in the world--living or dead--be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following three people:
Bette Midler, Eve Arden and Clark Gable.

What's next for Ann Walker?
I am currently writing a one-woman show or stand-up act (whatever it turns out to be) entitled ANN WALKER...GOD CREATED HER TO HAVE A GOOD TIME! I'm also continuing to tour around the country with the Sordid Lives stage show, which is great fun for all of us.
Next stop: Atlanta on January 8, 9 and 10th.

Thank you, Ann, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish, and I look forward to someday seeing LaVonda again on the silver screen.
To learn more about Ann Walker, check out her website at

Rufus Wainwright And Karen Olivo Perform At The True Colors Cabaret 1/11

Thursday, January 7, 2010; Posted: 01:01 PM - by BWW News Desk

The True Colors Cabaret is excited to announce its fifth show in its winter monthly series at Feinstein's at Loews Regency. Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright and Tony Award winning actress/singer Karen Olivo (West Side Story, In The Heights) will perform at the True Colors Cabaret on Monday, January 11th at 8:00 pm and 10:30 pm.
Film and Broadway actress Piper Perabo will host the evening.

The True Colors Tour continues its partnership with Feinstein's at Loews Regency,
Broadway Impact and the True Colors Fund to present the True Colors Cabaret, a winter monthly series in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. Each show intertwines performers from the world of Broadway and popular music, along with a celebrity host. 100% of the net proceeds from each show will go directly to the True Colors Fund and Broadway Impact.

The first four True Colors Cabarets, which premiered in September 2009, all sold out, including the upcoming Monday, December 21st show with Jason Mraz and the Broadway inspirational Voices.
Past shows have featured performances by Cyndi Lauper, Sara Bareilles, Lea Michele & Jonathan Groff, Gavin Creel, Melinda Doolittle and Stephanie J. Block. The line-up and date for the True Colors Cabaret in February will be announced soon.

Sponsors of the True Colors Cabaret include the Loews Regency, American Airlines, Eccentricity Designs and Get Services.

The True Colors Tour was conceived by Cyndi Lauper stemming from her desire to celebrate the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community and advocate for the basic values and freedoms that should be shared by all Americans. Fans experience these values through the music of both legendary icons and the newest and coolest acts this generation has to offer.
The Tour has traveled across North America the past two years to critical acclaim and wildly enthusiastic crowds. For more information please visit
The True Colors Fund, the non-profit arm of the True Colors Tour and co-founded by Cyndi Lauper, seeks to inspire and engage everyone, particularly the straight community, to become active participants in the advancement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) equality and ensure a strong and vibrant GLBT community.

Broadway Impact is a grassroots organization of the Theatre community and its fans, mobilizing in support of marriage equality. Co-founded by Gavin Creel, Rory O'Malley and Jenny Kanelos, it aims to educate and inspire the community into action towards equality.
For more information please visit
Feinstein's at Loews Regency, the nightclub co-founded by five time Grammy Award nominated entertainer and archivist Michael Feinstein and Jonathan Tisch the Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, was established in 1999 as New York's home for the American Popular songbook. It has since been labeled and "an invaluable New York institution" by The New York Post. The club presented its inaugural season in 1999 with the special engagement of American icon Rosemary Clooney. Since then, a multitude of luminaries from the worlds of pop, jazz and Broadway have graced its stage from Carol Channing and Ben Vereen to Melissa Manchester and Garrison Keillor. Their 10th Anniversary season featured the debut of Tony and Emmy Award winning actress Tyne Daly, the return of platinum-selling husband and wife team Ashford and Simpson, and the return of Broadway legend Barbara Cook.

The shows have a $40.00 cover with a limited number of $60.00 premium seats available, both with a $25.00 food and beverage minimum. VIP ticket package includes a front row table of 4 for $500 that comes with a meet & greet with at least one of the performers or host. Feinstein's at Loews Regency is located at 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street in New York City. Jackets are suggested but not required. For tickets, please visit or call (212) 339-4095.

Pearl Bailey is in the spotlight at Stackner

The late singer Pearl Bailey, a distinctive blend of sassy and swinging, gets her due in a new cabaret production from the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.

In "Pearl Bailey . . . By Request," Roz White salutes the performer who made "Takes Two to Tango" a hit and starred in an all-black production of "Hello, Dolly."

This weekend's performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday. The production runs through Feb. 28 at the Stackner Cabaret, 108 E. Wells St. Tickets: $30-$45. Call (414) 224-9490 or visit

“La Cage aux Folles” Comes to Jupiter Florida!
JUPITER — There are pink feathers, sequins and heart-wrenching songs. There are big production numbers, 10 changes of wigs and elaborate scenery. More importantly, there is a love story — between two men and their family.

“La Cage aux Folles,” the largest and most expensive show ever produced by the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, opens Tuesday.
“It’s a spectacle,” said John Scherer, who stars as Albin and his alter ego, a flamboyant drag queen called Zaza. “It was the first musical that told a love story between two men that was not treated as a political statement.

“There is something really sweet and really funny about the show. People are moved by it no matter their political beliefs, They get hooked into the love story and the meaning of family.”

The plot is what is by now a familiar sitcom setup, a freaky “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Georges (Mark Jacoby), the owner of the St, Tropez nightclub La Cage, and his partner Albin/Zaza have a straight son, Jean Michel, who arrives home to announce not only his engagement to Anne, the daughter of a homophobic right-winger, but also a dinner between in-laws.

Albin is banished from the apartment and Jean Michel’s biological mother is asked to step in.
When she can’t make it and Albin steps in appropriately dressed as a middle-aged matron, the dinner begins to go wrong.
When their cross-dressing maid ruins the dinner and the group goes out, Albin/Zaza is asked to sing at the supper club and in a moment of passion pulls off his wig, revealing his true identity.

“The honesty and love between the two leads is the heart of the show,” said Andrew Kato, producing artistic director for the Maltz, who chose “La Cage” to bring color to the season. “You really need an actor who has amazing chops for singing and dancing but the real strength comes out in the acting.

“That’s what we have with John.”

Scherer won over the team at his audition, not only when he sang the show-stopping “I Am What I Am,” but for his choice of apparel. He arrived wearing an Audrey-Hepburn-”Breakfast-at-Tiffany’s” hat and a long, flirty scarf.

“I walked in the room gayer than gay and said, ‘Don’t you hate it when people get all gimmicky and wear costumes for auditions,’” Scherer said. “Then I threw off the hat and underneath I was wearing a tiara. They fell out of their chairs laughing.”

“La Cage” is based on a 1973 French farce by Jean Poiret that was adapted in the U.S. as a musical in 1983, with a book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. The six-time Tony Award-winning show has had sequels on stage and a screen version, “The Birdcage,” starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
With its dazzling chorus “girls,” nine-piece orchestra, exuberant dance numbers and award-winning actors, “La Cage” promises to be a joyful experience,

“I think love and understanding are universal truths that speak to everyone,” Kato said. “‘La Cage’ is a timeless piece with a lot of heart.”

World Premiere Musical WONDERLAND Moves to Alley Theatre; Opens 1/20

Tuesday, January 5, 2010; Posted: 09:01 PM - by BWW News Desk

Alley Theatre presents the world premiere of the new musical Wonderland about Alice, a children's book writer in Manhattan who is suffering through a creative block, estranged from her husband and alienated from her daughter. It takes a trip to a strange-yet-familiar Wonderland for her to regain her life's balance and again find the love and everyday magic that reside in us all - if we know how to look.

With a book by Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy (The Civil War), lyrics by Jack Murphy, music by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlett Pimpernel, The Civil War), and directed by Gregory Boyd, Wonderland begins previews Friday, January 15, opens officially Wednesday, January 20 and runs through Sunday, February 14.

The principal cast of Wonderland includes Julie Brooks (Fiddler on the Roof national tour) as Chloe, Janet Dacal (In the Heights, Good Vibrations) as Alice, Jose Llana (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as El Gato, Karen Mason (Sunset Boulevard, Mamma Mia!) as the Queen of Hearts, Darren Ritchie (Dracula: The Musical) as Jack/White Knight, Nikki Snelson (Legally Blonde) as the Mad Hatter, Ed Staudenmayer (Forbidden Broadway) as the Rabbit and Tommar Wilson (Hair) as The caterpillar.
The design team for Wonderland includes choreography by Marguerite Derricks, music direction and vocal arrangements by Ron Melrose, costume design by Susan Hilferty, set design by Neil Patel, lighting design by Paul Gallo, sound design by Jon Weston and video and projection design by Sven Ortel. Judith Lisi, president and CEO of the Straz Center is the producer.

The concept recording of Wonderland is available for purchase at the Alley Theatre gift shop and online at when a ticket is purchased.

Produced in Association with the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center), Wonderland will be transferring to the Alley Theatre the first week of January for rehearsals before going into technical rehearsals and previews. This will be the second play of the Alley's New Play Initiative.

Wonderland is generously sponsored by Premiere Sponsor The Humphreys Foundation. Additional support is provided by Lead Sponsor Enbridge Energy Company, Inc. and Supporting Sponsors Cameron, KPMG LLP and Porter & Hedges LLP. The Alley Theatre is supported by the 2009-2010 season sponsor Continental Airlines, the official airline of the Alley Theatre.


Julie Brooks (Chloe) is thrilled to be part of this production. Brooks was most recently seen in the current tour of Fiddler on the Roof starring Topol, as Bielke/ Grandma Tzeitel. She is a recent graduate of the Maggie Flanigan Studio.

Janet Dacal (Alice Cornwinkle) Credits include on Broadway: In the Heights (four 2008 Tony Awards®), Good Vibrations. Off-Broadway: In the Heights (Drama Desk Award), Byzantium. Regional: Señor Discretion, Himself (Arena Stage); 5 Course Love (Carbonell Nomination); Four Guys Named Jose; Annie and others (Actors' Playhouse). Recordings and tours for various Grammy®-winning artists including Gloria Estefan, Jon Secada and Luis Enrique.

Jose Llana (Hector/El Gato) Broadway: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee original Chip Tolentino (Drama Desk Award), Wang Ta in Flower Drum Song, Angel in RENT, Jessie-Lee in Streetcorner Symphony and Lun Tha in the 1996 Revival of The King and I. Off-Broadway: Gabey in On the Town and Adam Guettel's Saturn Returns, both at The Public Theater. Regional: Martin Guerre (Guillaume, Guthrie Theater), Ballad of Little Jo (Steppenwolf Theater, Jefferson Nomination), Candide (Prince Theater, Barrymore Nomination). Workshops: Melchior in Spring Awakening (Sundance Lab) and Tales of the City (O'Neill), among others. TV/film: Sex and the City and Hitch. Cast albums and solo album, VIVA Philippines label.

Karen Mason (Mrs. Everheart/The Queen of Hearts) Broadway: Hairspray, Mamma Mia (2002 Drama Desk nomination as Best Actress), Sunset Boulevard, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, Torch Song Trilogy. Off-Broadway: And The World Goes 'Round, Carnival. (Drama Desk nomination for Best Supporting Actress). Concert/cabaret: Carnegie Hall, Rainbow & Stars, Lincoln Center, Feinstein's, The Kennedy Center.
Mason is a nine-time Mac Award winner. She has six solo CDs including her most recent Right Here/Right Now (2009 Mac Award for Best CD).

Darren Ritchie (Jack, The White Knight) Credits include Broadway: Wildhorn's Dracula, Little Shop of Horrors, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Bells Are Ringing and Les Miserables; National Tours: Fame; Regionally he has worked at the Music Theatre in Wichita, Goodspeed Playhouse, North Shore and Pittsburgh Music Theatre; TV: Law & Order, SVU, Half Hour News Hour, Days of our Lives, Guiding Light. Numerous commercials and workshops around the world.

Nikki Snelson (Madeline/The Mad Hatter) Credits include Broadway: Legally Blonde (original Brooke Wyndham), Annie Get Your Gun with Bernadette Peters (Winnie Tate), Sweet Charity; Off-Broadway: How to Save the World (Violet), Have a Nice Life (Best NYMF Ensemble); National tours: A Chorus Line (Cassie), tick, tick ... BOOM! (Susan), Show Boat, Hello, Dolly! with Carol Channing, Beauty and the Beast; Film/TV: Desperate Housewives, All My Children, Reefer Madness, Julie Taymor's Across the Universe.

Edward Staudenmayer (Richard/ The Rabbit) recently starred in Spamalot, Las Vegas and on Broadway in Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me. Staudenmayer has a 15-year association with the Tony Award-winning, Forbidden Broadway.
Other: Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Noises Off, The Producer's, Little Shop of Horrors and voices for MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch. He's a Barrymore and National Theatre Award nominee, and Soloist with the Baltimore, Syracuse, Bartlesville and Adelaide Symphonies. AEA, SAG, AFTRA, AGVA member

Tad Wilson (Jabberwock, Ensemble) Broadway: Rock of Ages. Off-Broadway: Rock of Ages. Regional credits include: Les Miserables, The Full Monty, For the Glory and The Civil War for Ford's Concert for the president.

Tommar Wilson (Theo/The caterpillar) Broadway: Hair, Hairspray, Lestat, Never Gonna Dance, The Music Man, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and national tours of Mamma Mia and Ragtime. He's also been honored to perform with The Public, The Alliance Theater, Actors Theater of Louisville, Trinity Rep., Playwright's Horizons, Papermill Playhouse, The MUNY, and the Vineyard Theater among others. BFA Carnegie Mellon University.

The ensemble includes Tad Wilson, who will also take on the featured role of the Jabberwock, along with Grady McLeod Bowman, Sae La Chin, Carrie Cimma, Colleen Craig, Dan Domenech, Krystal Ellsworth, Mallauri Esquibel, Lori Eure, Derek Ferguson, Ashley Galvan, Laura Karklina, Mary Mossberg, Stefan Raulston, Julius Anthony Rubio, Melinda Sullivan and Danny Stiles.


Gregory Boyd (Director/Book) became the artistic director of the Alley Theatre in 1989. During his tenure, the Alley has risen in national and international prominence, winning the Special Tony® Award and experiencing record growth in its Houston audiences, while also transferring its productions to major European festivals (including two in one season at the Venice Biennale), Broadway and on tour to 40 American cities. Boyd's addition of artistic associates such as Edward Albee, Robert Wilson, Frank Wildhorn and Vanessa and Corin Redgrave, has enhanced the Alley's visibility and reputation worldwide; while his commitment to maintaining a resident company of actors has made the Alley unique among American theater companies. At the Alley, Mr. Boyd has produced more than 100 new productions of the widest ranging repertoire in the country. His Alley premieres have been nominated for eight Tony Awards-among them the premieres of Not About Nightingales by Tennessee Williams (Alley, London, Broadway), Jekyll & Hyde, (Alley, national tour, Broadway), The Civil War (which he also co-authored). In addition, Boyd directed the recordings of The Civil War and Jekyll & Hyde for Atlantic Records. At the Alley, he has appeared as an actor in Danton's Death (Tom Paine) and Cyrano de Bergerac (Cyrano) and directed more than 40 productions including: Treasure Island, Subject to Fits, Hitchcock Blonde, Hapgood, Jekyll & Hyde, In the Jungle of Cities, After the Fall, The Greeks, Macbeth, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night's Dream. His recent directing project outside the Alley have included Our Town at Hartford Stage (HAl Holbrook), Coward's Design for Living at Williamstown (Marisa Tomei, Campbell Scott, Steven Weber), Tom Stoppard's Travesties at Long Wharf (Sam Waterston, Tom Hewitt) and the premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan's Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Boyd has served as Panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Massachusetts Council for the Arts. He has taught on the faculties of Carnegie-Mellon, Williams College, the University of Houston and the University of North Carolina, where he headed the Professional Theatre Training Program.
He was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is a Distinguished Alumnus, and at Carnegie-Mellon.

Jack Murphy (Book/Lyrics) has worked on a wide variety of projects as both lyricist and composer. Collaborating with Frank Wildhorn, he wrote lyrics for Linda Eder's EMI CD And So Much More, as well as songs on her Atlantic CDs It's Time, It's No Secret Anymore, Christmas Stays the Same and Gold. In collaboration with Mary Bracken Phillips, he composed the score for the musical Silver Dollar, which debuted at the Goodspeed Opera House, with a second production at the Stage One Theater in Wichita, Kan., directed by Scott Schwartz. In collaboration with Wildhorn and Gregory Boyd of the Alley Theatre in Houston, he wrote the lyrics for The Civil War, which garnered him a Tony® nomination for Best Score when it debuted on Broadway at the ST. James Theater. He was back on Broadway again at the ST. James Theater with two songs penned for the hit show Swing. Once again in collaboration with Wildhorn, Murphy has written the book and lyrics of a musical about a 1920s American author and his wife, suggested by the lives of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, titled Zelda, directed by Vincent Marini at the Lenape Regional Performing Arts Center in Marlton, N.J. Wildhorn and Murphy had a world premiere in Budapest, Hungary, in May of 2006, of a musical about the tragic "Mayerling Affair" titled Rudolf: The Last Kiss. Another production of the show opened at the Imperial Theater in Tokyo in May of 2008. The show also just experienced yet another successful premiere in Vienna, Austria, on Feb. 26, 2009. Another show, The Count of Monte Cristo, had its world premiere in St. Gallen, Switzerland, on March 14, 2009.

Frank Wildhorn (Music) In 1999, Frank Wildhorn became the first American composer in 22 years to have three shows running simultaneously on Broadway: Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and The Civil War, which altogether garnered eight Tony nominations. Also on Broadway, Dracula and Victor/Victoria. He has enjoyed international success with The Count of Monte Cristo in St. Gallen, Switzerland, Rudolf: The Last Kiss in Budapest, Tokyo, and Vienna, Carmen in Prague (Karlin Theatre's biggest hit), Never Say Goodbye and The Scarlet Pimpernel for the famed Takarazuka Revue in Japan, and Cyrano in Tokyo. Artists who have recorded and/or performed Wildhorn's music include Whitney Houston (with the international #1 hit "Where Do Broken Hearts Go?"), Natalie Cole, Kenny Rogers, Sammy Davis, Jr., Liza Minnelli, Julie Andrews, Trisha Yearwood, Clay Aiken, BeBe Winans, Larry Gatlin, Jennifer Holliday, FrEddie Jackson, Deana Carter, Tracy Lawrence, John Berry, Trace Adkins, Patti LaBelle, BRyan White, Amy Grant, Ben Vereen, Regina Belle, The Moody Blues, Jeffrey Osborne, Stacy Lattisaw, Dennis DeYoung, Molly Hatchet, Brenda Russell, John Raitt, Anthony Warlow, Stanley Turrentine, Johnny Mathis, Colm Wilkinson, and Linda Eder. For Linda, recordings, television shows, and concerts. Wildhorn wrote all the music and served as Music Director for the Opening Ceremonies of the Goodwill Games in 1998. He was a producer and co-creator of Harlem Song, the first open-ended theatrical run at the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem. He also produced and was Creative Director for the television program Broadway's Best on the Bravo television network. Wildhorn wrote the song "Gold", which was used in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics. He is honored to be an Associate Artist at the Alley Theatre in Houston, where he launched Jekyll & Hyde, Svengali, and The Civil War. Upcoming: Bonnie & Clyde (La Jolla Playhouse), Havana (Pasadena Playhouse), Tears From Heaven in Seoul, Frank Wildhorn & Friends in concert, Zelda, Camille Claudel and Jekyll & Hyde all over the world.

Marguerite Derricks (Choreographer) Her remarkable choreography has enhanced hundreds of films, television, commercials, music videos and stage productions. Derricks received the prestigious Emmy® Award for three consecutive years. Her first was for the long-running television series 3rd Rock from the Sun. She won her second Emmy® Award for Fame LA, and a third for the 1998 Goodwill Games Opening and Closing ceremonies. In addition, she was honored with the NAACP Award for Best Choreography for Sister Act, the Musical. Her films include the FAME remake, Little Miss Sunshine, Spiderman 3, Donnie Darko, Charlie's Angels, the Austin Powers trilogy and Mr. & Mrs. Smith, earning her MTV Movie Awards and American Choreography Award nominations. Also in demand for commercials, Derricks has choreographed memorable ad campaigns including Old Navy, GAP, Pepsi and Jack in the Box. Derricks' choreography can also be seen in Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity, now in it's eighth sold-out year at the New York, New York Hotel in Las Vegas.

Ron Melrose (Music Direction and Vocal Arrangements) Music direction: Jersey Boys (Broadway and six additional companies), Imaginary Friends, Scarlet Pimpernel (Broadway), Radio City Sinatra, First Wives Club, The Wiz, Caraboo and Zelda (Broadway-bound). Broadway dance/vocal arranging: Sweet Smell of Success, Jekyll & Hyde, Perfectly Frank, The Act, Marilyn: An American Fable, Woman of the Year and Cabaret. Associate producer, Jersey Boys original cast album (certified platinum). Composing: Superdimensional Microbabes (upcoming anime-based musical); Fourtune (off-Broadway); The Silver Swan (National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship); theatrical CDs (The Missing Peace, Early One Morning, Songs I Won't Be Singing); Harvard Hasty Pudding shows (Tots in Tinseltown, Bewitched Bayou); a gospel-based Requiem; songs for church, choir, cabaret and Saturday Night Live. Degrees from Harvard (philosophy) and Westminster (choral conducting).

Neil Patel (Set Design) is a New York-based scenic designer who works in theater, opera, dance and film.
He has designed Sideman, [title of show], 'Night Mother and Ring of Fire for Broadway. Off-Broadway credits include productions at prominent theaters such as Second Stage, Manhattan Theater Club, Roundabout Theatre Company, BAM, New York Theater Workshop, Vineyard Theater and Playwrights Horizon, having designed productions of [title of show], Living Out, Here Lies Jenny, Dinner With Friends, The Long Christmas Ride Home, Quills and The Grey Zone. His regional work has been seen at the Guthrie Theater, Mark Taper Forum, McCarter Theater, Arena Stage, Center Stage, Steppenwolf and Chicago Shakespeare Theater among many others. His work with Anne Bogart and the SITI Company has been seen throughout the world, including the Holland Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Exit Festival in Paris and BAM. Opera credits New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Tokyo Nikikai Opera Theater and the Minnesota Opera. In Tokyo, his credits include Candide, Bent, Torch Song Trilogy and Take Flight at Parco Theater. London credits include Sideman (West End), A Question of Mercy (Bush Theater) and Henry IV (RSC). Awards include the Helen Hayes Award, the 2000 EDDY Award, numerous Drama Desk nominations and the 1996 and 2001 Obie Awards for sustained excellence in set design.

Susan Hilferty (Costume Design) has designed more than 300 productions from Broadway to across America and internationally including Japan, London, Australia, Germany and South Africa. Recent designs include Wicked (2004 Tony®, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama Desk awards and Olivier nomination), Spring Awakening (Tony nomination) August Wilson's Radio Golf and Jitney, Lestat (Tony nomination) Assassins, Into the Woods (Tony and Drama Desk nominations; Hewes Award), Manon at LA opera and Berlin Staatsoper, Richard Nelson's Conversations in Tusculum, Caryl Churchill's Drunk Enough to Say I Love You and Christopher Durang's The Marriage of Bette and Boo. She works with such well-known directors as Joe Mantello, James Lapine, Michael Mayer, Walter Bobbie, Robert Falls, Tony Kushner, RoBert Woodruff, JoAnne Akalaitis, the late Garland Wright, James Macdonald, Bart Sher, Mark Lamos, Frank Galati, Des McAnuff, Christopher Ashley, Emily Mann, David Jones, Marion McClinton, Rebecca Taichman, Laurie Anderson, Carole Rothman, Garry Hynes, Richard Nelson and Athol Fugard (the South African writer with whom she works as set and costume designer and often as co-director since 1980). Hilferty also designs for opera, film and dance, and chairs the Department of Design for Stage and Film at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She was awarded a 2000 OBIE for Sustained Excellence in Design.
Paul Gallo (Lighting Design) Last fall Gallo designed his 50th Broadway show with the revival of Pal Joey at Studio 54. In his 29 years on Broadway, his designs for musicals include Pal Joey, Never Gonna Dance, Man of LaMancha, Dreamgirls, 42nd Street, The Rocky Horror Show, The Civil War, On The Town, The Sound Of Music, Triumph Of Love, Titanic, Big, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Smokey Joe's Café, Guys And Dolls, Crazy For You, City of Angels, Anything Goes, Smile, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood and Tintypes. He has also designed many award-winning plays on Broadway which include November, A Bronx Tale, Mauritius, Losing Louie, Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, Three Days of Rain, The Crucible, 45 Seconds From Broadway, The Man Who Came To Dinner, Epic Proportions, Skylight, The Tempest, I Hate Hamlet, Six Degrees of Separation, Lend Me A Tenor, Spoils of War, The Comedy Of Errors, The Front Page, The House of Blue Leaves, Heartbreak House, Beyond Therapy, Come Back To The Five And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Grown Ups, Kingdoms, Candida, The Little Foxes, John Gabriel Borkman and Passione. Gallo is the recipient of eight Tony nominations, 10 Drama Desk nominations (winning one), six Outer Critics Awards, two Obie Awards and the 1986 Obie for Sustained Excellence of Lighting Design. He is a graduate of Ithaca College and the Yale School of Drama.

Jon Weston (Sound Design) Broadway credits include 13, Les Miserables, The Color Purple, The Glass Menagerie, Caroline, or Change (AUDELCO Award), Nine, Imaginary Friends, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Green Bird, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, On the Town, Company in concert at Lincoln Center and Man of La Mancha. His off-Broadway and regional credits include Rooms, Family Guy Sings! at Carnegie Hall, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Little Night Music (L.A. Drama Critics Award), Himself & Nora, The Thing About Men, tick, tick...BOOM! and Bright Lights, Big City. He began his audio career at T.T.G.studios in Los Angeles, recording the music for such television shows as The Love Boat and Dynasty.

Sven Ortel's (Video & Projection Design) work has been seen all over the world. His collaborators are some of the most established and celebrated artists in the industry including directors Matthias Hartman, Jonathan Kent, Robert Lepage, Trevor Nunn, Deborah Warner and David Leveaux, choreographer Helgi Tomasson, conductor Valery Gergiev and set designer George Tsypin. His recent projects include Deuce directed by Michael Blakemore on Broadway, Complicite's A Disappearing Number directed by Simon McBurney, Disney's The Little Mermaid on Broadway, directed by Francesca Zambello, Swan Lake for the San Francisco Ballet and the Theatre for a New Audience's off-Broadway production of Hamlet. His current and future projects include the re-staging of the Kirov Opera's Ring Cycle under maestro Gergiev in St. Petersburg, Russia, and at the Royal Opera House in London. He is also working on a project in cooperation with the Guggenheim about "The Blue Rider" art movement. Since 2001, Ortel has been an associate of Mesmer, a collective of like-minded people that explore and further the use of imagery and projection in the live arts. With Mesmer, he conceived the video system and process that realized the technologically groundbreaking musical The Woman in White. Ortel is based in New York and London.

Judith Lisi (Executive Producer/ David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts President) is the President of the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, which she joined on Oct. 1, 1992. With a background in theater that includes performing as both a singer and an actress, Lisi has also directed more than 40 productions and written six plays, including Stage Door Canteen, Speakeasy, Busby and WAISTWATCHERS, The Calorie-Free Musical. Before joining David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, she served as Executive Director of the prestigious Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, Conn. Prior to her work at the Shubert, Lisi served from 1979-1984 as Artistic Director of the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Connecticut. As the Executive Producer of all David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts productions, she has produced many highly successful shows, including Florida's longest-running musical, Forever Plaid, which has toured the state. Other successes include the grand opera that Lisi brought to David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, from the first production, Madame Butterfly in 1996 to the world premiere of Anton Coppola's highly dramatic Sacco & Vanzetti in 2001 to the most recent production of Faust in 2009. She holds a master's degree in Theatre from St. Louis University and has done doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota. She also studied opera at the Juilliard School of Music. Lisi has been the recipient of many national and international awards, including the Broadway League Award for Best Presenter and the International Society for the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award.

The creative team of Wonderland also includes Additional Dialogue by Phoebe Hwang, Hair and Wig Design by Tom Watson, Associate Director Kenneth Ferrone, Associate Choreographer Michelle Elkin, Conductor Greg Anthony, Orchestrations Kim Scharnberg, Associate Set Design by Caleb Levengood, Associate Costume Design by Tricia Barsamian, Associate Lighting Designer Craig Stelzenmuller, Associate Video and Projection Design by S. Katy Tucker, Stage Manager Kenneth J. David, Assistant Stage Manager Terry Cranshaw, Casting by Dave Clemmons Casting, Technical Supervisor Christopher Smith, Special Effects by Chic Silber and Managing Producer Judy Joseph.


The world premiere of Wonderland is the second play in the Alley Theatre's New Play Initiative. The Alley Theatre's New Play Initiative facilitates the creative collaboration between playwrights, directors, actors, designers and dramaturgs during all stages of a new play's development. Central to this Initiative are readings, workshops, and residencies that allow writers the unique opportunity to work with and write for Alley Theatre Actors in a concentratEd Manner over an extended gestation period. Three world premieres are being developed through this Initiative this season: Rajiv Joseph's Gruesome Playground Injuries, Jack Murphy, Gregory Boyd, and Frank Wildhorn's Wonderland, and Kenneth Lin's Intelligence-Slave, which will be on the Neuhaus Stage in May and June of next year.

To read more about the development of Wonderland and hear some of the music visit

Tickets to Wonderland start at $21. All tickets to Wonderland are available for purchase at, at the Alley Theatre Box Office, 615 Texas Avenue, or by calling 713.220.5700. Groups of 10 or more can receive special concierge services and select discounts by calling 713.315.3346. The added convenience of reservations by phone or Internet is available for a nominal fee. Tickets purchased in person at the Alley Theatre Box Office have a $1 building restoration fee.

OSITO FOUNDATION $10 TIX (Replaces Pay-What-You-Can)
Saturday, January 16, 2:30 PM
Partnering with other social non-profit organizations, the Alley seeks to generate in-kind donations and reward patrons with $10 Tix for the matinee performance. The $10 Tix are available in person, the day of the performance only and are limited to two tickets per person. Purchase in person at the box office (615 Texas Ave.) on the day of the performance only. Cash or check only. Limited availability. Bring donations of a new teddy bear to the box office starting at noon (new time).

Saturday, January 16, 2:30 PM
The Alley Theatre is pleased to offer open captioning and audio description for many of our productions throughout the season.
To ensure that your seats will accommodate your needs, please call the box office 713.220.5700 when ordering tickets to this performance. Discounted tickets are available for groups of ten or more. Call 713.315.3346 for more information.

CLUB 615 (replaces Mix & Mingle)
Thursday, January 21, 6:15 - 7:15 PM
Starting at 6:15 PM at 615 Texas in the Alley Theatre, Club 615 is a new pre-curtain mixer for young professionals. Enjoy a fabulous pre-performance reception with music, socializing, complimentary cocktails and appetizers, and specially priced theatre tickets. A-section seats are $35 and B-section seats are $25. This pre-curtain event is free with your ticket to the Thursday, January 21, 7:30 p.m. performance of Wonderland, but must be purchased for the performance using the promo code: Club615.

Saturday, January 23, 2:30 PM
Following the 2:30 PM performance, the Alley Theatre will present an Affinity Series Symposium featuring the artist team to discuss the genesis of the musical, the rehearsal process, and the issues raised by the musical.

Thursday, January 28, 6:00 - 7:15 PM

Houston's premiere theatre group for gay and lesbian theatre fans and their friends celebrate the Alley Theatre's production of Wonderland. To find out more visit For tickets call 713.220.5700 and mention "ActOUT." Participants must have a ticket to the performance in order to attend this pre-show event.

Tuesday, January 26, 7:30 PM
Members of the cast return to the stage following the performance to take questions from the audience. TalkBacks are led by a member of the Alley Artistic Staff.
Tuesday, January 26, 6:30 - 7:15 PM
Alley Theatre is pleased to partner with the Houston Public Library for this new pre-curtain event. The perfect evening for the book worm in every theatre buff, this event combines the imagination of the written word with the excitement of live theatre. Patrons read a book that has been specially selected to complement each Hubbard Stage production, then enjoy a pre-curtain discussion group and then attend the performance. For Wonderland, the selected readings are Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. Light refreshments will be served. After the performance, readers can stay for an additional Talk Back led by Alley artistic staff. This pre-curtain event is free with your ticket to the Tuesday, January 26, 7:30 PM performance of Wonderland.

Support THE ARTS! LIVE THEATRE! Go see a show this week! Send me your reviews and suggestions and I will put them in my next blog coming out next Tuesday! Here's to an ARTS-filled week! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS:

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!

Richard Skipper

Follow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper

Hi Richard & Dana!
Great to meet you and see you both in action!!!!
You have the best thing going in town! What a marvelous
evening to see wonderful singers, great performers;
a true entertainment! The crowd is friendly and ecouraging. A good time had by all!
Thank You! and CHEERS To You Both!!!
marTina vidmar

On Wednesday evening, I headed over to the Iguana for the weekly singers' showcase, aptly named Wednesday Night at the Iguana! Hosted by Richard Skipper and Dana Lorge, this weekly event has attracted a great following of performers and non-performers alike, and each week features 5 or 6 "featured performers," each of whom performs a 3-song set. The rest of the slots in the three hour show are filled in by pre-planned special guests (who perform one song each) and, if time allows, other singers from the audience, whose names are randomly drawn out of a hat! Part variety show, part showcase, part open mic, the show is never the same twice! This week's "featured performers" were Kelly Esposito-Broelmann (my sister!), Marya Zimmet, Travis Moser, J. Michael Reeds, and Jack Di Monte. Each of them did a terrific job, and it was a really special treat for me to watch my sister performing! I also very much enjoyed husband-and-wife team David Alpher and Jennie Litt, who performed one of David's original tunes, "Two Apples," an enchanting song which tells the story of two apples growing up together on the same branch of a tree! Richard Skipper and Dana Lorge were fabulous hosts, and Barry Levitt and John Miller (on piano and bass, respectively) did a great job of backing up the various guests. Overall, a quite enjoyable night!
The Cabaret Chronicles, Jenna Esposito

Richard, this was my 2nd time there and I was not disappointed. Yet another fun evening with the both of you and great talent. Your energy is endless and you are so kind to everyone - performers AND audience. Thanks for giving so much of yourself: energy, talent, and humor. I'll be back! Mary Lahti

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NYC Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price! Dana Lorge and I have put our OWN spin on the variety show format and are now hosting every Wednesday night in NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge ( in the heart of NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission).

Cover: $12 - no food or drink minimums – but remember – the food is great!
This is a nice night
out with the family! A
"throw back" to the variety shows we grew up with.

For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_

212-765-5454. No one admitted before

January 13th: Steve Carey as Phyllis Diller, Jon Burr & Lynn Stein, Jack Cosgrove, Barbara Gurskey, Janice Hall, Bobbie Horowitz ...

January 20th: Douglas Davidian, Cait Doyle, D'yan Forrest, Greta Heron, Catt John, Alegra Themmen

Feb 3 : Michael Austin, Christopher Gerrard, Lucia Mozzola, Jane Schechter, George Stella, Jane Stuart

February 10th: MY BIRTHDAY SHOW! Glen Charlow, Jenna Esposito, Helene Feldman (who shares a birthday with Richard), Jeanne MacDonald, Stearns Matthews, Jim Speake, Maureen Taylor ...
...and a few other surprises as well!

February 17th : James Alexander

March 10th: David Alpher & Jenny Litt, Louise Quick (pictured), Nicholas Tamagna, Pam Tate, Maureen Taylor

March 17th: Cindy Marchionda returns!

March 24th, Julie Reyburn returns!

April 28th: Kecia Craig and Frank Stern!
Keep checking for upcoming entertainers and shows!



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