Wednesday, October 27, 2010

JIMMY JAMES, FLORIDA'S BAN ON GAY ADOPTIONS LIFTED, CAROL CHANNING..AND MORE!

Happy October 27th! It has been exactly one month since my last blog. A LOT has happened since then! I went to Palm Springs for Carol Channing's induction into the Palm Springs Walk of Fame. I stayed at their home! I left Wednesday Night At The Iguana! Which is KILLING ME...but had to be done! I dealt with our sick dog, Horace! We almost lost him! But he's great now!
And like Dolly Levi, I feel like I'm just now rejoining the human race! I cannot believe it has been one month since my last blog! Where did the time go !?!?! This is the 300th day of the year! There are 65 days remaining until the end of the year. It blows my mind to think that in two months, we will have celebrated the holidays again and approaching a new year.



As I do each morning, I get up, start my coffee, and sit down to read my e-mails. I get google alerts on various topics: Carol Channing, Jerry Herman, HELLO, DOLLY!, Liza Minnelli, Provincetown, and ME!
This keeps me in the loop when anything is in the news about any of these subjects. Because of a google alert about Provincetown, my first e-mail this morning was about Jimmie James (pictured here). It made me think about the first time I saw him perform. It was on my first vacation to Provincetown in August 1989. I arrived in Provincetown in the middle of Carnival to spend a few days with someone I was seeing at the time. Getting off the bus on Commercial Street, passing Cafe Blase on my way to The Crown and Anchor (where we were staying) as the sun was setting, made me instantly fall in love with P-town. There was an excitement in the air that is not there anymore. Don't get me wrong, I STILL love Provincetown. But somehow something is missing. I really felt that tug when I was there last month after 8 years. Getting back to that first trip, I went to see a different show each night. They ALL were great.
But the one that stands out was Jimmy James as Marilyn Monroe. To this day, it is the gold standard with which I aspire to. Two things happened as I watched Jimmy: I knew that I wanted to do what he was doing AND I wanted to perform my show in Provincetown! That relationship that I was in in 89 did not work out (he has since passed on). A year later, I met Danny (we have been together going on 21 years!). We met in 90, in '91 we went on vacation in Provincetown. Getting up at an open mic, I met Steve Heath. We began a collaboration (with me as Judy Garland!). I performed for several years in Provincetown at The Ocean's Inn (which is no longer there). The owner, Mark Cross, recently passed away. I ended up going to Provincetown several years later (this time as Carol Channing)as a headliner for CabaretFest. As a result of that show, I got a run at The Crown and Anchor! Be careful what you wish for!
That was 8 years ago. I was back last month, this time at The Madera Room/Vixen at The Pilgrim House.
As I wrote in a previous blog, it was different. I guess you can't go home again. But that memory of Jimmy James will always stay with me and I dedicate this blog to him. If he is performing anywhere, GO SEE HIM! Check out his website at: http://www.jimmyjames.com.

LOVE YOU, JIMMY!

GOOD NEWS! Florida's ban on adoption by gays comes to end
The only law in the United States prohibiting gays from adopting effectively came to an end Friday with Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum announcing his decision not to go to court to maintain the state’s 33-year-old ban. The issue played out in Florida courts in the name of Frank Martin Gill, a North Miami man seeking to adopt two brothers, now 6 and 10, that Gill and his partner had been raising for nearly six years as foster children. Florida had allowed gays to serve as foster parents but not to take the ultimate step of adoption.
"I know that gays and lesbians can be good parents," Gill, 49, said Friday afternoon. "I really was just doing what was best for my kids ... but as of today, there is no state that has a categorical ban on gays adopting. Florida was the only blanket ban and now it’s gone. I’m hoping there’s no going back. Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Children & Families opted not to ask the state Supreme Court to rule on a loweourt decision allowing Gill to adopt the boys who came to him when they were 4 months old and 4 years old A Miami appellate court had ruled the law unconstitutional, relying on experts who said "gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents," Judge Gerald Cope wrote for the three-judge appellate panel in a 28-page decision. The Florida law, which branded gays as unfit parents, was based on "junk science" that is being disproved nationwide, said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which fought the ban over 18 years and five lawsuits. "The finality that we have today is an important part of bringing down this edifice of inequality," Simon said. Leslie Cooper, an ACLU attorney who argued the case on Gill’s behalf before the appellate court, said: "This victory means that the thousands of children in Florida who are waiting to be adopted will no longer be needlessly deprived of willing and able parents who can give them love and support of a family."

(Carol Channing speak to CSU costume designers)
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF CAROL CHANNING

While individuals half her age are barely surviving the rigors of 9 to 5, musical comedy legend and icon, Ms. Carol Channing (along with husband, Harry Kullijian) starts her day on Oct 23rd with a 6:00am flight from Palm Springs , CA, to appear at a Barnes & Noble to speak and sign copies of her new CD entitled “For Heaven Sake” in Fort Collins, CO, followed by department tours and a sold out master class before the students and facility of Colorado State University (CSU) and wrapping her evening by hosting an exhibit unveiling dedicated to the fashions and life of her dear friend, the late Mr. Blackwell. Denver Post Theatre Critic, John Moore caught up with Ms. Channing backstage for his podcast (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlzzpJHOHzA) and All About Fashion highlights Carol Channing taking Center Stage (http://ispey.com/fashion/2010/10/25/carol-channing-takes-center-stage-at-colorado-state-university).

While touring the facility she remarked, “The students here are so wonderful. They ask such interesting questions and seem so eager to learn. They are alive with a desire to absorb information,” and added, with regard to her dear friend, Mr. Blackwell, “it was an exciting and career confirming honor to be put on Mr. Blackwell's list in 1964. You knew you hadn't truly made it when you appear on “The List.” David Merrick would say sales were climbing anyway, but I think that Blackwell's remarks caused the public to buy DOLLY tickets to see the fashion fiasco he was talking about.”
(Walt Jones conducts interview)
Ms Channing's number one goal is to get the arts securely put back in the public school system. “The arts teach kids confidence, teamwork and communication skills, and you just know that the student who communicates best and relates well with others, will wind up getting those jobs in the fields of math and science.” When asked about politicians who want to eliminate Arts programs in schools, she remarks “It will be like the fall of the Roman Empire all over again. History will repeat itself.” adding, “President Obama said 'The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.”
(Carol Channing addresses the audience)
First Lady Michelle Obama adds "Learning through the arts reinforces critical academic skills in reading, language arts and math and provides students with the skills to creatively solve problems." And even US Education Secretary, Arnie Duncan, adds "It's important to me that we give our students a reason to be excited to come to school everyday. The only way that happens is if children have the exposure to a broad range of activities, and music is a huge, huge piece of that. What worries me the most is that children who often need the most access often have the least."

For more information on how to help, visit ChanningArts.org
--

Photo Credits: CSU Photography Services
(SOURCE: HARLAN BOLL)

On November 29th, Broadway Speaks OUT! will host it's 2nd Annual A Very MARY Holiday event in New York City at Dixon Place (www.dixonplace.org).

This event will benefit the Ali Forney Center (www.aliforneycenter.org) and we will be honoring Actress Judith Light.

To put on a gala of this magnitude, they are asking for additional "Producers" to help sponsor the event. All money raised will go into venue costs ($1000) and production costs (Ranging between 3k and 4k). The names of each person who donates will be placed in their programs and be verbally named in their sponsor section of their show, if you so choose.


Proceeds will NOT be used for anything other than the cost of the venue, and production costs which include purchasing of the actual award for Mrs. Light, a small elevated stage, step-and-repeat, and any additional technical aspects required to put on the gala this year.

Here are a list of A Very MARY Holiday's speakers and performers:
Anthony Rapp, Rent
Sandra Bernhard
Jack Mackenroth, Project Runway (pictured)

Kate Shindle, Legally Blonde
Matt Doyle, Spring Awakening; Bye Bye Birdie
John Arthur Greene, West Side Story
Matt Shingledecker, West Side Story
Tracy McDowell, Rent
Annie Golden, The Full Monty; Xanadu
Michelle Dowdy, Hairspray
Krystina Alabado, Spring Awakening
Malan Breton, Project Runway
Billy Bell and Ariana Debose, FOX's So You Think You Can Dance
Scott Alan, Composer
Scott Nevins
The New York Voices
Kate Pazakis
Megan Reinking
Alex Ellis
Taylor Mac
Marcus Simione

With special messages from Broadway divas, Alice Ripley (Next To Normal) and Orfeh (Legally Blonde)


Project location: New York, NY

AND HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THIS WEEK: Review: The songs of Marlene Dietrich in Montgomery


By MARCUS KALIPOLITES
For the Times Herald-Record


MONTGOMERY — Marlene Dietrich, one of the most enduring and endearing screen and stage performers of the 20th century, was paid homage by opera singer Janice Hall in a special addition to the Grand Montgomery Chamber Music and Theatre Series on Sunday afternoon.

In the cabaret format that the icon herself used late in her career, Hall presented some of Dietrich's most memorable favorites, including "Falling in Love Again." But while this signature song brought the entertaining program to a warm close, Hall also included the breakthrough song that brought international fame and stardom to Dietrich. It was in 1928 at the age of 26 that Dietrich used "You're the Cream in My Coffee" to audition for, and win, a career-changing role in the German movie "The Blue Angel."

Beckoned to Hollywood, she went on to make screen history, followed by a stage career of cabaret shows from the 1950s to the '70s. She died a recluse in Paris in 1992.

Now, since there could only be one sultry and sexy Marlene Dietrich, Hall made no attempt to imitate her style in either body-clinging garments, seductive looks or German accent. And even as she recalled episodes of the star's life, she chose to relate them all in the third person.

Character acting aside, Hall brought to her performance the professional voice of an opera star born out of leading roles here and in Germany. Though Hall is listed as a soprano, many of her songs were actually delivered in Dietrich's own contralto range.

Especially intimate in delivery was "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," the musing ballad accompanied only by the pizzicato strokes of Ritt Henn on the acoustic bass. As in a duet of voices, Hall and Henn counterpointed their respective lines with feeling, and with a touch of longing to close out the warm song, the voice alone faded to nothing.

Equally moving was "Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?," a wartime song that Hall sang both in German and in English. Adding drama to the performance was the punctuated piano playing of Paul Trueblood. Here, as in the entire concert, accompanists Trueblood and Henn were mood-perfect.

In a wholly different style, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" began with a pizzicato bass background in slow tempo as Hall softly emoted, before the whole mood changed to double time, jazzy figures on the piano and a burst of enthusiasm by the vocalist.

Following their well-attended premiere performance at the Montgomery Senior Center, Hall, Trueblood and Henn continue their tribute in cabaret with several performances next month at Manhattan's Metropolitan Room.

THE FOLLOWING ARE RECENT COMMENTS FROM
http://www.richardskipper.com/guestbook.html

It was great to see you again - this time in Provincetown. What a wonderful show!!
Sam Sagenkahn, New York, NY

Enjoyed Richard Skipper's performances in Malibu;
both as himself and as Carol Channing !!!
(the Most Amazingly Accurate Characterization in the world !!!)
keep on keepin' on ...David Dean, Phoenix, AZ

On Tuesday nite (7/27/10), I saw something at St Luke's theater I am still thinking about today.
I saw Richard Skipper transform himself into one of the Grand Dames of American Theater, Ms. Carol Channing.
From the moment he stepped on the stage, I BELIEVED I was watching Ms. Channing. This wasn't your typical tribute show. This was a show that was put together with love and respect and it showed. I learned more about Carol Channing from this show than I ever knew!
This show was about music and life. The life of Carol Channing and all of the wonderful music she brought to the world and put her signature on. Who could imagine the role of Dolly Levi or Lorelei Lee with anyone besides Carol Channing...maybe Richard Skipper!
Richard gives performers something to aspire to. He gives audiences something to enjoy. He gives the world the gift of Carol Channing with a touch of Richard Skipper thrown in for good measure. Thank you.

Fran Giannini Leonardis, Ringwood, NJ


. . . 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!"~ Carol Channing

www.RichardSkipper.com

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Please contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/foundation.htm



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

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

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