Saturday, May 15, 2010

LIZA MINNELLI, CABARET CONVENTION, WHITE'S LIES...AND MORE

"Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree, & I will spend the 1st four sharpening my axe." -Abraham Lincoln (stay inspired)



Liza Minnelli to Perform at St. George Theatre in November
(SOURCE:Andy Propst)

Liza Minnelli will offer a one-night only performance of Liza Minnelli in Concert at the St. George Theatre on November 20.
In the concert, Minnelli will offer a selection of American standards, accompanied by her quartet.
Minnelli's most recent Broadway show, Liza's at the Palace, won a 2009 Tony for Best Special Theatrical Event, and Minnelli has also won Tony Awards for Best Actress in a Musical for Flora the Red Menace and The Act.

She also won a special Tony Award in 1974 "for adding lustre to the Broadway season."
She was Tony- nominated for The Rink and additional Broadway credits include Victor/Victoria and Chicago.
She won the Academy Award for Cabaret and the Emmy Award for Liza With a "Z".

For further information, visit: www.stgeorgetheatre.com.

Liza Minnelli Cancels Toronto Concert
(SOURCE: Adam Hetrick, PLAYBILL.COM)

Liza Minnelli has canceled her Oct. 21 concert at Toronto's Sony Centre due to scheduling conflicts.
Minnelli, who will be performing her latest show from Chicago to Tucson in the coming year, has not announced plans to reschedule the Toronto engagement.
The Sony Centre is currently contacting ticket holders for the cancelled date.
She presented a tribute to her late father Minnelli on Minnelli at the Palace, and has appeared in the films "The Sterile Cuckoo," "Arthur," "New York, New York" and "Stepping Out."


She was most recently seen on Broadway in her Tony-winning show Liza's at the Palace.


PLAYBILL.COM EXCLUSIVE: Cabaret Convention Sets Fall Dates; Elaine Stritch to Host Noel Coward Evening
(SOURCE:Andrew Gans)

The 21st Annual New York Cabaret Convention, which salutes the best in Manhattan cabaret, will be held Oct. 7-9 at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
The Friday, Oct. 8 performance will celebrate the songs of the late Noel Coward. Tony and Emmy winner Elaine Stritch, who appeared on Broadway in Coward's Sail Away, will host the evening, which is titled If Love Were All: Celebrating the Timeless Words and Music of Noel Coward.


The evening will also include the presentation of the first Noel Coward Cabaret Award: A grant of $5,000 will be given to the cabaret performer chosen to receive the award, which is funded by the Noel Coward Foundation and administered by the Mabel Mercer Foundation.



Details about the other two cabaret evenings will be announced at a later date.
Elaine Stritch received Tony and Emmy Awards for Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which traces a stellar career that boasts roles in Company, The Little Foxes, Bus Stop, A Delicate Balance, Sail Away and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

For more information about the upcoming convention, visit www.mabelmercer.org or call (212) 980-3026.


Produced by the Mabel Mercer Foundation, the first annual Cabaret Convention was mounted in 1989.
Donald F. Smith is executive director of the Foundation, which is the "first to perpetuate the American popular song through the art of cabaret."
White's Lies May Become a Sitcom

(SOURCE: Andrew Gans, PLAYBILL.COM)

Although reviews for the new Ben Andron comedy White's Lies at Off-Broadway's New World Stages were mixed, the author is currently in negotiations to turn his new play into a situation comedy.

In a statement White's Lies producer Aaron Grant said, "I can't get into specifics for obvious reasons. "But it's not surprising, especially since so many people likened the play to a sitcom, our audiences rarely stop laughing and the cast list reads like a who's who of television talent and history."

Bob Cline directs a cast that boasts Tony winner Betty Buckley, Tuc Watkins, Peter Scolari, Christy Carlson Romano, Rena Strober, Andrea Grano and Jimmy Ray Bennett.
"He's a divorce lawyer, representing one of his many ex-girlfriends and above all else, he's a bachelor who wouldn't have it any other way.
So when his mother desperately wants him to start a family, he'll do the next best thing: make one up!
What could go wrong?"

The production features set design by Robert Andrew Kovach, lighting design by Solomon Weisbard, costume design by Michael Bevins, sound design by Nathan Leigh and video design by Ron Eyal.
Producers are Grant, Jeremy Handelman, Jana Robbins, Jeff Davis, Alan Laytner, Craig Haffner & Karl E. Held with Sneaky Pete Productions.

New World Stages is located in Manhattan at 340 West 50th Street. For tickets, priced $60 and $75, call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.whitesliesonstage.com.



Just days ago, a Boston third-grader's admission to a Catholic school was rescinded – solely because his parents are lesbians.
But here's the worst part – this is no isolated incident. Just a few months ago, a Catholic elementary school in Colorado expelled two preschoolers (that's right, preschoolers) for the same reason.


And these are just some of the cases we know about.
Has the Church hierarchy apologized? No. Have they come out and said it was wrong to target the children of LGBT families? No. Have they said that they won't discriminate against LGBT families in the future? Not one bit.
Now, we understand that our constitution protects the right of religious institutions to make decisions that may be inconsistent with state nondiscrimination laws. But that doesn't make it right. The Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you – should apply to us all. Will you help us take a stand against the Catholic Church hierarchy's deeply hurtful rejection and exclusion of those children's parents?

Please, send a letter to Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urging him to not make this a nationwide trend and to end these hurtful practices targeting LGBT parents and their kids.
For five years, HRC's Religion and Faith Program has worked with faith communities across the country to create a culture of acceptance for their LGBT members. By engaging religious leaders in difficult, yet faithful, conversations about LGBT equality, we've seen that transformation is possible, one congregation and one community at a time.

Please, send your letter today.
Thank you for taking the time to fight this terrible injustice.
Sincerely,

Harry Knox
Director, Religion and Faith Program



Crane's Madoff Memories Make Off With Cabaret Cashout

(SOURCE: Andrew Martin, NITELIFE EXCHANGE)
CynthiaBy now, so much has been said about cabaret legend (and 2010 MAC Award nominee) Cynthia Crane, that it's almost impossible to think of where to begin. But with the most recent performances of her show John Denver, Bernie Madoff, and Me at Don't Tell Mama, those who were already fans find themselves once again sailing along on the beautifully moonlit bay of her talents as a vocalist and communicator. And those who were previously unfamiliar have, as always, gotten a firm shot to the brain to let them know that this is a cabaret artist who, now and for always, will remain at the top of her game.
A most unfortunate victim of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, in which she and family were taken for a great deal of money, Crane has taken the lemons handed her by life and turned them the sweetest pitcher of lemonade in town on any cabaret stage, before or since.

Crane is home before she begins when, aided by musical director Mark Janas at the piano and Bobby Kneeland's exquisite technical direction, she opens with the Duke Ellington/Marshall Barer composition "Spider & The Fly," which is still as marvelous as when she recorded it for her first CD, The Secret Life Of A WASP.
Her medley of such songs as Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Who's Sorry Now?" is as delectable as chocolate mousse, and her poignancy on Rodgers & Hammerstein's "How Can Love Survive" is as potent as a trip to Utopia and back. She also touches beautifully on love and marriage, as with "I'm Your Girl," sung as a love letter to husband Ted Story (who also directed the show, and gorgeously at that, to say the very least).
By the time she gets around to "Pleurer des Rivieres" (a rendering of "Cry Me A River" en Francais), the audience is virtually weeping. And the little-heard Broadway gem "No, I Don't Think I'll End It All Today" (from Jamaica, written by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg) may possibly be even more heartfelt than when Jeff Harnar premiered it in his Algonquin show, The 1959 Broadway Songbook, some years ago.
Special mention must be made herein for guitarist Sean Harkness, in particular for his work on Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" besides a thoroughly-solid job throughout.
Cynthia Crane, and the show, both serve as true testament that the cream always rises. Because, this time around, ladies and gentlemen, she is the cream of the crop and the top of the heap. Please take note if you hear she might be performing the show again somewhere soon.

Steinway Society Welcomes Board Members Clint Eastwood, Carol Channing

(SOURCE: John Hussar/PRNewsWorks)




The Steinway Society of Riverside County and the Coachella Valley has announced that actor-director Clint Eastwood, wife Dina and legendary entertainer Carol Channing have joined Advisory Board.

"We are so excited to have The Eastwoods and Channing on our advisory board because they are so dedicated to our mission to provide music to our children," said Ruth Moir, Steinway Society president and founder.

Attending the recent Sixth Annual Festival Winners Concert, Channing said, "I'll never forget this afternoon and the young performers' individual expressions of the most wonderful force in the world - music!"

Other distinguished members of the 13-member Advisory Board include Broadway songwriter Jerry Herman, actress Florence Henderson, conductor Carlo Ponti Jr. and pianist Bill Marx. The honorary chairman is the great entertainer Roger Williams.

In another exciting announcement, Moir said that The Steinway Society has received a $7,500 grant for their "Classics Concerts in Schools Program" from The Community Foundation serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

The Steinway Society of Riverside County, a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization, is the premier music educational provider and serves more than 9,000 children annually.

For more information about becoming a proud sponsor of The Steinway Society of Riverside County, please call (760) 341-4130 or visit online at www.SteinwayRiverside.org

The Steinway Society of Riverside County, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is the premier music education provider in Riverside County and the Coachella Valley and serves more than 9,000 children annually. The Classics Concerts in Schools Program showcases live, concert-level classical and jazz performances. The Piano Labs Program provides piano classes during daytime and after-school programs. The Outreach Program gives private piano lessons and provides pianos at home to deserving children with a financial need. The Docent Program teaches music appreciation classes at elementary schools. The Steinway Society of Riverside County, based in Palm Desert, Calif.. sponsors an Annual Festival Competition & Winners Concert. This exceptional competition features world-class judges, master classes, study awards and performance opportunities for piano students ages 7-18 from Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.



Now That You Mention It, Rock Hudson Did Seem Gay (EDITORIAL NOTE: THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS ARTICLE AREN'T NECESSARILY MY OWN, RS)


This is a sentence I never thought I would type: I'm coming to the defense of a theatre critic.

Newsweek's Ramin Setoodeh wrote an article last week titled "Straight Jacket" in which he argues that gay actors can't and shouldn't play straight characters. His "Exhibit A" in the piece is Sean Hayes, the stunningly gifted actor who came to our attention playing Jack MacFarland on the much beloved NBC half-hour comedy Will and Grace. (This was back when NBC broadcast television shows.) Mr. Hayes just opened in the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises, a 1968 musical by Neil Simon, Burt Bacharach and Hal David that was based on The Apartment, the Academy Award-winning film by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. (Izzy) Diamond that starred Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Are you following so far?

It doesn't really matter, because all you need to know is that Sean Hayes plays C.C. Baxter in this great show, and that C.C. Baxter is a man who is attracted to women.
Ramin Setoodeh, unlike the overwhelming majority of the people in the audience at the two preview performances I attended, was unhappy with Sean Hayes' performance.
This reaction was not due to Mr. Hayes' acting, singing, dancing, comedy, unique charm and exceptional rapport with the audience.

Mr. Setoodeh's problem with the star's performance was that in real life, Mr. Hayes is gay. And as if the studio had given the screenwriter a note that the story had to be spicier, Mr. Setoodeh is gay as well.
Much is being made of the Newsweek piece. Much should be. I'm proud to say that my friend, Kristin Chenoweth, who stars opposite Mr. Hayes in the show (and about whose performance I can't possibly be objective -- she's sensational and we'll leave it at that) led the charge -- posting an online rebuttal to Mr. Setoodeh in which she called him homophobic.
For an actress who makes her living and her reputation on Broadway, throwing down with a prominent theatre critic isn't something you do as a career move.
In her response to Setoodeh, Ms. Chenoweth made good point after good point after good point...
...and missed the point.

So did Setoodeh.
First things first. An actor, no matter which sex they're attracted to, can't "play" gay or "play" straight. Gay and straight aren't actable things. You can act effeminate and you can act macho (though macho usually ends up reading as gay), but an actor can't play gay or straight anymore than they can play Catholic.

The most disturbing thing to me about this episode is that the theater critic for Newsweekdidn't know that. Of COURSE gay actors can play straight characters -- it's impossible to believe that Mr. Setoodeh would prefer if Ian McKellen would stop doing King Lear.

But with sincere respect to Ms. Chenoweth and the hundreds and hundreds of Internet posters who've crashed down on Setoodeh in the last few days -- some understandably passionate and some unfortunately hostile -- I don't think Setoodeh was being homophobic. Just wrong.


The problem doesn't have anything to do with sexual preference. The problem has everything to do with the fact that we know too much about each other and we care too much about what we know. In one short decade we have been reconditioned to be entertained by the most private areas of other people's lives. We've become the family dog who's allowed to eat anything that falls on the floor, and the press is the little kid in the family who keeps dropping food.

Sandy Bullock's life falls apart? That's for us. A golfer gets caught with strippers?
We'll take that, thank you. Lindsay Lohan's an alcoholic? Mmm, mmm good! When Jennifer Aniston plays a movie character who's looking for love, her performance -- always sublime -- doesn't stand a chance against the real story we've been told it's okay to pay attention to, which is that Jennifer Aniston is looking for love.
I can't hum a single John Mayer song but I can name five women he's slept with. Sean, for Setoodeh, the show began before you even showed up to the theater that night.
The volcanic eruption of tabloids, Internet insanity and -- you better believe it -- reality TV, has made the private lives of public people -- in the vocabulary of television writers -- the "A" story. And in a not-so-convoluted way, the "A" story has an author -- thousands of authors in an extraordinary collaboration. When I need the audience to know that a piece of information they're about to hear is important, I can use words, a close-up, a push-in, music... when the authors of the no-longer-private-lives "A" story want the audience to know that something's important, it shows up on our Yahoo homepage. (The third story on my homepage yesterday was that Britain, our closest ally, has a new Prime Minister. The first story was about Justin Bieber. Unless the new Prime Minister is Justin Bieber, something's obviously gone wrong.) Is Sean Hayes' sexuality relevant to his performance? It has to be -- the "authors" told us it was important. (Though Setoodeh would have done well to have asked himself if Mr. Hayes' performance would have been any different if C.C. Baxter was in love with a man instead of Ms. Chenoweth's Fran Kubelik. It wouldn't have been.)

I would never presume to -- and those words are almost always followed by whoever said them proceeding to do exactly what they just said they would never presume to do -- but I would never presume to tell someone how they should feel about something. I can only imagine that Setoodeh's piece felt like a solid kidney punch, not to just Mr. Hayes and the other actors tagged in the story, but to teenagers -- kids who live in daily fear of what their parents are going to say, of getting the hell beaten out of them at school, of being an oddity. Gay actors, you'll forgive the expression, are caught between a rock and a hard place. Only criminals and adulterers should have to hide who they are.
And in addition to living their own lives in sun and not shadow, these actors want to -- admirably -- be role models for these kids. But they also know the blanker their canvas the better their chance of marginalizing the "A" story. They know that even in 2010, there's still no such thing as an actor who's gay, a movie star and alive all at the same time.

So while I would never presume to tell someone how to feel, if it were me, I would re-direct my energy away from Mr. Setoodeh. (Ryan Murphy-- the very gifted creator of Glee whose cast member, the invaluable Jonathan Groff, was also smacked in the teeth by Setoodeh-- has called for a boycott of Newsweek. I get it completely, but I say please don't boycott Newsweek -- it's still one of the very last places left where we can find news. Boycott the red carpet instead. You're going to win the Emmy, Ryan, and you're going to get the whole publicity bump that comes with it. You and your cast should proudly walk past every microphone that's shoved in your faces.
The people holding the microphones are writing the "A" story and you don't have script approval. Boycott In Touch and Us Weekly and Brangelina Daily and every other piece of crap that makes us feel like we're all sitting under hairdryers.)

Gay actors are in absolutely no danger of losing parts in Broadway shows, so if it were me, I'd re-direct my anger to the real problem. The honest-to-God, no kidding around, small-minded, mean-spirited, hysterically frightened, pig-ignorant bigots who don't think homosexuals are fit to get married, adopt children or fight and die for their country. The ones who hold signs saying "God Hates Fags." Those people aren't in the backwoods of Idaho, they're in Congress. Fight THEM. I'll help.

And you know who else will help? Ramin Setoodeh. I promise you he's on the side of the good guys.



I'LL RELAX WHEN I'M DEAD.
A reluctantly prolific cabaret.
Music & lyrics by: Seth Bisen-Hersh.

Sat, 5/15 at 5:30; Sun, 5/16 at 7:15; Mon, 5/17 at 9:15

With: Elyse Beyer, Allison Linker, Gordon Maniskas, Ryan Neller, Jace Nichols, Rori Nogee, Mary Orzano & Brian Shaw

Directed by Laura Pestronk

$12 Cover/ 2 Drink Minimum (Cash Only)
Don't Tell Mama, 343 W. 46th St.
Call for reservations after 4: 212-757-0788 or online at donttellmamanyc.com

Seth Bisen-Hersh, composer of six cabarets including "Neurotic Tendencies," "Why Am I Not Famous Yet?" and "Writer's Block" returns to Don't Tell Mama this May to premiere his 7th cabaret: "I'll Relax When I'm Dead." With direction by Laura Pestronk and co-starring Elyse Beyer, Allison Linker, Gordon Maniskas, Ryan Neller, Jace Nichols, Rori Nogee, Mary Orzano & Brian Shaw, "I'll Relax When I'm Dead" features 10 new songs as well as 2 mini-musicals developed at The Small Pond Musical Theatre Writing Lab last fall.

"My New Computer" (book by Zachary Drummer) explores the exciting and exhilarating journey switching from PC to Mac.

"What If...?" (book and co-lyrics by Michael DiGaetano) follows the loves and lives of 4 New Yorkers at a crossroads.
The ten new songs include both comedy numbers and tearjerkers: "Um, Yeah..." about an awkward okcupid first date, "Can You Believe I Was Ever Sad We Broke Up?", "To My Grandparents" and "The Wedding Song" which was dedicated to and performed at Bisen-Hersh's best friend's wedding last summer.

For more info, please visit: http://www.sethbh.com/relax .


Well, Hello, Cady!: Tony Winner Huffman to Star in Summer Dolly!

(SOURCE: Andrew Gans, PLAYBILL.COM)




Cady Huffman, who won a Tony Award for her performance as Ulla in The Producers, will star in Theatre By The Sea's upcoming production of the Tony-winning Jerry Herman musical Hello, Dolly!

Directed and choreographed by Kevin Hill, performances are scheduled to begin at the Rhode Island venue June 23. The creative team will also include musical director Bob Bray, lighting designer Aaron Meadow, set designer Kimberly Cox, costume designer Lou Bird and sound designer Ryan P. McGinty.

Opening night is June 25; performances will continue through July 11.

Hello, Dolly!, suggested by Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker, features a score by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart. Directed and choreographed by Gower Champion, the original production opened in January 1964 at the St. James Theatre, playing 2,844 performances before closing Dec. 27, 1970. The original cast featured Carol Channing, Eileen Brennan, David Burns, Jerry Dodge, Alice Playten, Charles Nelson Reilly and Ken Ayers. The musical won ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Actress in a Musical (Channing).


(THIS CLIP CAME FROM YOU TUBE; I DID NOT TAKE IT)
Cady Huffman received Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for her performance in The Producers. She has also appeared on Broadway in The Will Rogers Follies, Steel Pier, Big Deal, La Cage aux Folles and Dame Edna: The Royal Tour and Off-Broadway in Surface to Air. Huffman has been seen on screen in "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "One Life to Live," "Sunday on the Rocks," "Hero," "Space Marines," "Itty Bitty Titty Committee" and "Romance & Cigarettes."

The theatre is located at 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck, RI. Tickets are $35 for preview performances and $39-$49 for all other performances. Discount rates for groups of 20 or more are available by calling (401) 782-3800, ext. 18. For more information visit www.theatrebythesea.com.


Scott Nevins, the "hilarious hottie" from truTV's hit show "The Smoking Gun Presents" brings his critically acclaimed one man comedy show to Key West for one night only!

Tickets are only $15

760-322-3554

www.bourbonlivekw.com


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 May 15th Here's to an ARTS-filled 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
HERE IS WHAT AUDIENCES ARE SAYING ABOUT MY WORK:


Sandee and I love Richard and Dana, We always have a good time at Iguana. The food is good and reasonable. Richard and Dana are the best host and Hostess in town. The talent is top notch, the jokes can make you laugh, and one can get home at a decent hour...
Michael Janin, Long Beach New York


Every time I go to the Iguana it just gets better! It's always a fabulous night of amazing entertainment, and such a warm and supportive community that gathers there. Thank you for inviting me to sing! You can bet I'll be back soon.
Catt John, http://www.cattjohn.com

Richard, Another evening of non-stop talent and non-stop fun. You and Dana were dripping with charm, humor and pizazz as usual and kept things moving and grooving. After missing two Wednesdays, I felt like I had missed a whole month. It's a wonderful way to break up the middle of the work week and regain some spirit to last the rest of the week. Thanks and congratulations again on your nomination. --Mary Lahti



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NYC THE AWARD WINNING WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA STARRING DANA LORGE, RICHARD SKIPPER, AND FRIENDS!
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 (http://www.iguananyc.com) 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!
WINNER OF TWO 2010 MANHATTAN ASSOCIATION OF CABARETS AND CLUBS AWARDS (MAC) FOR OUTSTANDING VARIETY SHOW AND OUTSTANDING HOSTS!
or more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_
RESERVATIONS A MUST!!!!!!!!
212-765-5454.









May 19th: Dana Lorge will be hosting without me due to a prior commitment. Jack Demonte, Adrienne Haan, Barbara Gurskey, Bobbie Horowitz, Evan Lawrence

May 26th: We celebrate 2010 MAC AWARD WINNER SUSAN WINTER'S BIRTHDAY!Michelle Collier, 2010 Bistro Award winner Danielle Grabianowski, and Catt John

June 2nd: D'Yan Forest and Tod Hall, Pam Palmieri



June 16th: 2010 Julie Reyburn, Lisa Raze returns and Lorinda Lisitza joins us for the first time!


JUNE 23rd: Sigali Hamberger, Pam Tate




June 30th: KEVIN DOZIER!, TRAVIS MOSER RETURNS!

JULY 7th: JON BURR & LYNN STEIN RETURN!


JULY 27: PAULETTE DOZIER RETURNS


TILL NEXT WEEK...HERE'S TO A MUSICAL WEEK!

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