Tuesday, March 30, 2010

MITZI GAYNOR, THE BISTRO AWARDS, JIM CARUSO...AND MORE!


Mitzi Gaynor's still got some 'Razzle Dazzle'

Ed Sullivan once said he tried for years to get movie and nightclub star Mitzi Gaynor on his Sunday night variety show.
In late 1963, the glamorous singer-dancer finally said yes to an appearance to be broadcast live the next February from Miami Beach's Deauville Hotel.
Gaynor, who will be receiving the BOB HARRINGTON LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD at THE BISTROS on April 13th at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC, recalls asking Sullivan who else would be on the telecast.



``From Liverpool, The Beatles, a rock-and-roll group,'' Sullivan told her. ``I said, `Ed, an English rock-and-roll group? OK.' That was October 1963.
Then the world stopped. But I got top billing over The Beatles.''


Best known for starring in the 1958 film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, Gaynor, now 78, is one of Hollywood's most enduring stars. She downplays being cast as World War II nurse Nellie Forbush in South Pacific.


``I got it because I was, No. 1, the right age,'' Gaynor says. ``And I sang all the songs in the same key that [original Broadway star] Mary Martin did.''
Gaynor, whose roots trace back to Hungarian nobility, starred in other '50s film hits including Anything Goes with Bing Crosby, The Joker is Wild with Frank Sinatra and Les Girls with Gene Kelly.
Gaynor's ``most important picture'' as a contract player at 20th Century Fox: 1954's all-star There's No Business Like Show Business, opposite two other legends, Ethel Merman and Marilyn Monroe.
``Ethel would say, `All right, where's the blonde?' '' Gaynor recalls. ``She was always late. Then she'd come in and say, `I can't find my motivation,' '' Gaynor says doing a breathy Monroe impersonation.


``Ethel said, `What the f--- is motivation?' I said, `Hell, I don't know. Mine is money.
[Merman] said, `Now, you're talking!' ''

After film tastes changed, Gaynor worked steadily through the '70s on television and in Las Vegas.
Bob Mackie has designed her sequined gowns since the early '60s.



She resumed her stage act after the 2006 death of her husband and longtime personal manager, Jack Bean.

``It came to me in a vision that Jack wanted this more than anything,'' she said of her comeback. ``If I can't be with him, the only time I'm really happy is when I'm entertaining people.''
-- (SOURCE:STEVE ROTHAUS)

Mitzi Gaynor, Elaine Stritch, Michael Feinstein (http://www.michaelfeinstein.com) to be honored at 2010 Bistro Awards in New York City

I am co-producer of the 2010 Bistro Awards (along with Sherry Eaker),



More than 20 of cabaret's brightest stars will be honored at the 25th Annual Bistro Awards which will take place on Tuesday, April 13 at Gotham Comedy Club. Legendary singer-dancer-actress Mitzi Gaynor, star of such films as South Pacific, Les Girls, Anything Goes, and a longtime headliner in Las Vegas and the nightclub circuit, making her first NY night club appearance in years in May at Feinstein's at Loews Regency, will be honored with the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award.
Elaine Stritch, the uniquely sensational actress and singer and star of stage, film, and TV, will be recognized in the category of Extraordinary Cabaret Artist, noting her recent conquests of the cabaret stage.
The evening, under the direction of Eric Michael Gillett, will feature performances from most of the Bistro-winning artists and shows and will feature guest presenters singer-actress Klea Blackhurst, comic Jim David, and actress-comedienne Marilyn Sokol.

Celebrating its Silver Anniversary of awards presentations to the cabaret community, and the first-ever award in the industry, the Bistro Awards will this year honor three individuals for their 25-plus years of artistic
accomplishments: multiple-award-winning actress-singer Tovah Feldshuh, musical director-arranger and conductor Paul Trueblood, and singer-pianist-songwriter Ronny Whyte.

The ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Outstanding Duos goes to Michael Feinstein and co-stars Cheyenne Jackson, Christine Ebersole, and David Hyde Pierce, with whom he appeared in separate shows at the cabaret venue that bears his name, Feinstein's at Loews Regency. For Outstanding Director, the BMI Award will go to Peter Napolitano, a BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop participant.

Some of the shows honored pay tribute to musical styles. Sarah Rice reflects on songs from old Hollywood (Outstanding Theme Show), the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players puts a twist on operettas (Special Award), Loli Marquez-Sterling puts the accent on the Latin Big Band sound (Outstanding Entertainer), while Lee Summers delivers standards and classic R&B (Outstanding Entertainer). Singers such as Liz Callaway (Outstanding Major Engagement), Nicole Henry (Outstanding Jazz Vocalist), and Anne Steele (Outstanding Vocalist) croon various musical styles in their shows.

The Bistro Awards Committee has named two recipients in the Outstanding Recording category: Alan Cumming for his "I Bought a Blue Car Today" CD, and Julie Reyburn for her "Live at Feinstein's" recording. The Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award, given to an outstanding performer on the rise, and named after Back Stage's co-founder, co-publisher and first cabaret critic, goes to Danielle Grabianowski.
The gala event will be held on Tuesday, April 13 at Gotham Comedy Club,

208 W. 23rd Street. A champagne reception for the Bistro recipients and Premium ticket holders begins at 5 pm, followed by the awards presentation and show starting promptly at 6:30 pm. Producer Sherry Eaker will be hosting the annual event, along with members of the Bistro Awards Committee.

The Bistro Awards Committee comprises Elizabeth Ahlfors (Cabaret Scenes, CurtainUp.com, and BistroAwards.com), David Finkle (Village Voice, HuffingtonPost.com, and BistroAwards.com), Rob Lester (Cabaret Scenes, NiteLifeExchange.com), Erv Raible, executive/artistic director of the Cabaret Conference at Yale University, Roy Sander (BistroAwards.com), and Sherry Eaker, formerly the Editor in Chief of Back Stage.
The Bistro Awards are sponsored by ASCAP and BMI, with additional sponsorship from Branson B. Champagne and StageBuddy.com, and media sponsorship from Back Stage.

Ticket prices are: General Admission at $45.00; $75.00 for a Premium seat, which includes a pre-show Champagne reception and preferred seating. There is a two-drink minimum. A food menu is also available. Details and ticket information about the After Bistros party will be posted on Bistro Awards website. To purchase show tickets, go to www.bistroawards.com, or for more information, call: 917-239-5467.
A complete list of the winners follows:

THE BISTRO SILVER ANNIVERSARY AWARDS FOR ONGOING ARTISTIC ACCOMPLISHMENT/ Tovah Feldshuh; Paul Trueblood; Ronny Whyte
ANNE STEELE/ Vocalist/ The Metropolitan Room

NICOLE HENRY/ Jazz Vocalist/ The Metropolitan Room
DANIELLE GRABIANOWSKI/ Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award/ The Metropolitan Room, Don't Tell Mama
LOLI MARQUEZ-STERLING/ Entertainer/ The Triad, The Metropolitan Room

LEE SUMMERS/ Entertainer/ The Triad

LIZ CALLAWAY/ Major Engagement/ The Metropolitan Room

GRETCHEN REINHAGEN, "Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard"/ Tribute Show/ The Metropolitan Room
SARAH RICE, "Screen Gems - Songs of Old Hollywood"/ Theme Show/ Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN and...CHEYENNE JACKSON; CHRISTINE EBERSOLE; DAVID HYDE PIERCE/ ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Duo Shows/ Feinstein's at Loews Regency
CELEBRITY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: In Their Own Words, created by Eugene Pack/ Comedy Series/ The Triad

I'VE GOT A LITTLE TWIST, conceived, written, and directed by David Auxier, musical direction and arrangements by Mark York, produced by Albert Bergeret/ Special Award/ The Triad, Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café

THE CONCERTS AT TUDOR CITY GREENS/ Special Award/Created and produced by Raissa Katona Bennett

PETER NAPOLITANO/BMI Award for Director (Mark Janas, Robert Bartley, Peter Napolitano)

THE SALON/ Special Award/Created and hosted by Mark Janas / The Algonquin Hotel, Etcetera Etcetera
ALAN CUMMING/Recording, "I Bought a Blue Car Today"

JULIE REYBURN/ Recording, "Live at Feinstein's"

BRETT KRISTOFFERSON/ Songwriter

RICHARD EISENBERG/ "Two Again"/Special Material

ELAINE STRITCH/ Extraordinary Cabaret Artist

MITZI GAYNOR/ Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award


With one of the greatest pedigrees in broadway history, Lee Roy Reams won critical acclaim as Roger DeBris in the First National Tour of Mel Brooks’s musical hit, “The Producers” as well as Lumiere in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Albin/ZaZa in “La Cage Aux Folles,” Cornelius Hackl in “Hello Dolly!” and Henry Spofford in “Lorelei” (both starring Carol Channing), Duane Fox in “Applause” starring Lauren Bacall, Will Parker in Richard Rodgers’s revival of “Oklahoma!” Bob Fosse’s “Sweet Charity” starring Gwen Verdon, and “An Evening With Jerry Herman.” His regional theatre roles include Captain Hook in “Peter Pan,” Toddy in “Victor/Victoria,” Alfred P. Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” and Phil Davis in “White Christmas.” On Broadway, he directed “Hello, Dolly!” (Tony Nomination/Best Revival) and “An Evening With Jerry Herman.” He also directed “Anything Goes” starring Chita Rivera and productions of “Hello, Dolly!” starring Madeline Kahn, JoAnne Worley, Michelle Lee and Nicole Crosille in Paris.




Reams is also the resident director of “Theatre Guild’s Theatre at Sea” whose stars include Patricia Neal, Gena Rowlands, Rosemary Harris, Zoe Caldwell, Ed Asner, Cliff Robertson, Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson among others. His television credits include: “Jerry Herman at the Hollywood Bowl” (PBS and Bravo), “Showboat” (PBS), “In Performance at the White House” (PBS), three Tony Award Shows, “Night of 100 Stars II,” and “The Tonight Show.” Concerts and Cabaret have taken him to the White House and around the world: Venice’s Teatro La Fenice, Brazil’s Manaus Opera House, The Istanbul Hilton, New York’s Carnegie Hall (New York Pops and Cincinnati Pops), New York’s Town Hall, Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center, London's Palladium, Manhattan’s Firebird Cafe and Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow & Stars. He’s had the honor of performing for four U.S. Presidents: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush and Bill Clinton.

The Magic Castle offers yet another great Broadway star to the stage of Cabaret at the Castle with Lee Roy Reams. The man who columnist Liz Smith called “Broadway’s Darling” and the New York Times hailed as “Broadway’s song and dance man nonpareil” is scheduled to appear for one night only. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Sealed With A Wish Foundation, Inc. sealedwithawish.org

Tuesday, April 13 - Doors 7 p.m. - Show 8 p.m.
The Inner Circle at the Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, Calif. 90028

$35 for reserved tables $30 for non-members, Call 323-851-3313 x434

The Magic Castle is the showplace for some of the greatest magicians from around the globe. The magnificent Hollywood landmark known today as the Magic Castle recently celebrated in centennial.

LIZA MINNELLI JUST CELEBRATED HER 64th BIRTHDAY AT BIRDLAND!
By the time Liza Minnelli took the stage at Birdland, just after midnight, the party was in full swing: Michael Feinstein hugged the Broadway legend and a bubbly, upbeat crowd sang happy birthday to her.
Parker Posey performed a wild, gyrating dance to “Fever,” as TV and movie stars Judith Light (“Ugly Betty”) and Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical”) cheered from their tables. Miranda, the Internet singing sensation, closed out the three-hour bash with an atonal rendition of “Orange Colored Sky.”

“Good night, folks, it’s just another night at ‘Cast Party,’ ” said host Jim Caruso, with a deadpan smile. “We’ll do it all again next Monday.”

For the last seven years, Caruso — a genial, wisecracking emcee who just might be Dick Van Dyke’s lost son — has hosted “Cast Party,” one of New York’s most popular and distinctive open-mike nights.
His weekly show at the historic club presents a sparkling A-list features a jaw-dropping mix of top Broadway, jazz and cabaret talent, plus rising stars and a parade of wannabees whose cringe-worthy acts rival anything on “American Idol.”
It’s a showbiz mecca, a place where the golden era of musical theater lives on.
Now, Caruso is bringing the party to Los Angeles. On April 1, he and pianist Billy Stritch will host the West Coast debut of “Cast Party” at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Although the final lineup is still being put together, Caruso sponsors hope to make the Southern California shows a regular monthly affair.

“There’s obviously a tremendous amount of talent in Los Angeles, and we’re trying to duplicate what we’ve been able to do in New York,” said Caruso, 52, whose ultimate goal is to turn “Cast Party” into a reality TV show. To read it all about it, click on my Sunday Arts & Books article.


(SOURCE: Josh Getlin)



I'm happy to tell you that once again, maestro Billy Stritch and Jim Caruso have put their open-mic act together, and are taking it on the road!


First stop...Hollywood! Swimmin' pools...movie stars! On Thursday, April 1,
they will be at the historic Magic Castle at 8pm! You just can't believe some of
the diverse (read: bizarre) supah-stars who have consented to join them!
And
there will be some crazy-talented vocalists singing their gorgeous heads off,
too! (Check out Josh Getlin's fantastic feature in Sunday's LA Times
and watch them at the crack of dawn on the KTLA Morning Show with Ally McKay that
day!)

Then...on April 16 and 17, they will be hosting the Provincetown Cabaret Fest for
the second time! On Friday night, some amazing local talent will join them at The
Crown & Anchor for a Cast Party to kick off the fun. On Saturday night, Billy
and Jim will perform their duo show that has thrilled dozens all across this great
land of ours!

On May 20 and 21, they will be making their third trip
to the Austin Cabaret Theatre.
(They are both from Texas, don't you know?)

If you're a singer (and who isn't?), join in on the fun with a
terribly upbeat ditty. Bring your sheet music (in the correct key), and you'll
be in show-biz together!
(SOURCE: Jim Caruso)

Every Monday at 9:30 PM:
BIRDLAND
315 West 44th Street (between 8th & 9th), NYC
212.581.3080
"...an extreme open mic!" -- ABC-TV

"Jim Caruso is uber-talented!" -- Entertainment Weekly

"Pianist Billy Stritch is thrilling...guaranteed to send you into orbit."
-- Rex Reed, New York Observer
"A vital pulse point of the musical-theater bloodstream: Every week a star or
standard might be born." -- Time Out New York

"Bassist Steve Doyle gives firm support and swings solidly." -- Jazz Times

BEST OF NEW YORK Issue -- New York Magazine

"Starrier than the Hayden Planetarium... a hotspot where Broadway and Hollywood
tip, twirl and hit the mic. It's become the place to cruise, schmooze, sing and
be seen." -- Playbill

"The Broadway at Birdland series is a talk of the town carnival of talent, and
is like no other happening in Manhattan It's evolved into an integral part of
New York nightlife." -- John Hoglund, TheaterScene.net





Copyright Jim Caruso's Cast Party®, All Rights Reserved, 2006-2008.

http://www.birdlandjazz.com/


Ricky Martin is now publicly gay: “The word happiness takes on a new meaning for me as of today.”
(SOURCE: Greg Hernandez)


Ricky Martin has announced in his Web site that he is a gay man and details some of the process he went through to get to the point where he finally felt comfortable enough to share this with the world.

I feel so happy for him that he’s gotten to this place and that he is publicly acknowledging his sexuality on his own terms. I think he’ll find himself even more embraced by fans gay and straight in a way he never could have been before.

Here is his statement in its entirety:

A few months ago I decided to write my memoirs, a project I knew was going to bring me closer to an amazing turning point in my life.
From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time. Things that were too heavy for me to keep inside. Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth. And thisis something worth celebrating.

For many years, there has been only one place where I am in touch with my emotions fearlessly and that’s the stage. Being on stage fills my soul in many ways, almost completely. It’s my vice. The music, the lights and the roar of the audience are elements that make me feel capable of anything. This rush of adrenaline is incredibly addictive. I don’t ever want to stop feeling these emotions. But it is serenity that brings me to where I’m at right now. An amazing emotional place of comprehension, reflection and enlightenment. At this moment I’m feeling the same freedom I usually feel only on stage, without a doubt, I need to share.

Many people told me: “Ricky it’s not important”, “it’s not worth it”, “all the years you’ve worked and everything you’ve built will collapse”, “many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature”. Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions.

If someone asked me today, “Ricky, what are you afraid of?” I would answer “the blood that runs through the streets of countries at war…child slavery, terrorism…the cynicism of some people in positions of power, the misinterpretation of faith.” But fear of my truth? Not at all! On the contrary, It fills me with strength and courage. This is just what I need especially now that I am the father of two beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook teach me new things every day. To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids where born with. Enough is enough. This has to change.
This was not supposed to happen 5 or 10 years ago, it is supposed to happen now. Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment.


These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed.


What will happen from now on? It doesn’t matter. I can only focus on what’s happening to me in this moment. The word “happiness” takes on a new meaning for me as of today. It has been a very intense process. Every word that I write in this letter is born out of love, acceptance, detachment and real contentment. Writing this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution.
I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.


June Havoc, immortalized in `Gypsy,' dies at 97

By BOB THOMAS (AP)

Actress and writer June Havoc, whose childhood in vaudeville as Baby June was immortalized in the musical "Gypsy," has died in Connecticut at age 97, her publicist said Monday.

Havoc, the younger sister of famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, died Sunday of natural causes at her home in Stamford. Her death was confirmed by Shirley Herz, her publicist and friend.

While she never reached the fame of her sister, Havoc had a varied, successful theater career that stretched from 1918 into the next century.

With music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents, "Gypsy" is considered one of the best musicals ever written. The original 1959 production starred Ethel Merman, and it has been revived several times since. It also became a 1962 movie starring Rosalind Russell, with Natalie Wood as the grown-up Gypsy.

It focuses on the archetypal stage mother, Mama Rose, who ferociously pushes her daughter "Baby June" into vaudeville stardom at age 6 while her older sister struggles to compete.

The play was based on a memoir of the older daughter, Louise, who grew up to be Gypsy Rose Lee. Havoc made no effort to obstruct the show, though she detested it.

"It meant so much to (Gypsy), her precious illusion; it made her into an ingenue at last," Havoc remarked bitterly in 1998. "And I loved my sister, but I loathed her life."

She defended Mama Rose: "Mother was very prim, and she was tiny and lovely with big blue eyes. ... She was endearing and alluring beyond belief. If she had drive and ambition, what's wrong with that?"

Havoc was born June Hovick on Nov. 8, 1912, in Seattle.
(Some sources give other years, but Havoc herself specified that date in 2006.)

Her mother, who had an unhappy marriage, plotted an escape. Her second daughter, June, was cute and outgoing, and at 18 months she was dancing in vaudeville and appearing in movie comedy shorts.


"I earned $1,500 a week when I was 6, and I knew exactly how I got the laughs and applause," she said in 1978.

Mama Rose kept June in vaudeville until she was far beyond her baby cuteness. Frustrated and weary of constant travel, June escaped at 13 by marrying a boy in the act. She gave birth to a daughter, April Hyde Kent, and later divorced. Another marriage to advertising man Donald S. Gibbs ended in divorce. She was married to radio and TV director William Spier from 1947 until his death in 1973.

The early 1930s were a grim period for Havoc, the spelling she adopted from her birth name. Vaudeville was dead and she had entered the "awkward stage" between child actress and ingenue. She competed in seven dance marathons, a Depression spectacle in which couples danced around the clock until they collapsed; the last pair standing won a cash prize.


In 1963, Havoc wrote and directed a Broadway play about her experience, "Marathon '33," garnering a Tony nomination as best director. Julie Harris, starring as a young vaudevillian named June, also picked up a Tony nomination.

Havoc wrote three other plays and two memoirs, "Early Havoc" (1959) and "More Havoc" (1980).

By 1936, she had evolved into a statuesque blond beauty, and she began appearing in Broadway plays and musicals. In 1940, Havoc portrayed the conniving Gladys Bumps in Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Pal Joey" and her performance brought Hollywood offers.

She played feature roles in 26 films including "My Sister Eileen," "Gentleman's Agreement," "Red Hot and Blue" and "Chicago Deadline." (Her sister also appeared in some films in the 1930s billed as Louise Hovick.)

But Havoc's major work was on the stage. She appeared in more than a dozen productions on Broadway, including Cole Porter's "Mexican Hayride" (1944) and "Sadie Thompson" (also 1944), a musical based on a W. Somerset Maugham short story. Her last Broadway appearance was in the early 1980s, one of the many replacements as the evil Miss Hannigan in "Annie."

In her later years, Havoc helped restore Cannon Crossing, a historic Connecticut village near her home.

Associated Press Drama Writer Michael Kuchwara contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



Among all the birthday tributes to Stephen Sondheim this month, there was one from an eminent American radio journalist, who recounted the first time he saw Sunday in the Park With George, Sondheim's musical inspired by a Georges Seurat painting. It opened on Broadway in 1984 to – typically for a new Sondheim – critical division, audience confusion and, from this particular commentator, an experience so profound he had to leave the theatre at the interval, because it was "too much".

It's a telling detail: you don't turn to Sondheim for comfort, or at least for the comforts traditionally associated with musical theatre. "Everybody dies," sings a character in Company, a musical about a single man with commitment issues, and that's pretty much the Sondheim consolation: you get cheered up by facing things, rather than evading them, even if they're dreadful; knowing is all. Like opera, Bergman and the hardcore blue cheeses, you are supposed to grow into Sondheim, not only because the music is choppy and difficult and you don't, at first, know what you are listening to, but because he is so uncompromisingly grown-up. People in Sondheim are sly with unhappiness, neurotic, cutting, self-aware. His lyrics could only have been written in the age of generalised anxiety disorder.

Often overlooked, the humour is so layered with irony that his songs at times seem almost back-combed, their lyrics running against the grain of the melody and vice versa. He is often accused of being too clever, of putting thought before feeling, as if the two weren't connected, and so the biggest surprise when you first encounter Sondheim is the force of it all: he can make you cry more efficiently than Erich Segal. (My friend Julie, the biggest Sondheim fan I know, suggests looking on YouTube for the song Move On, from Sunday in the Park, as it was performed at the Tonys two years ago, if you want "to sob like a baby who was just born".)


You have to know something inside-out before you can subvert it, and so it was with Sondheim, whose early professional years were spent working with the great writing teams of the American musical. As a teenager, he spent a lot of time with Oscar Hammerstein, a family friend and father figure after his parents divorced. After college, he auditioned for Leonard Bernstein and was taken on as the lyricist for West Side Story, and after that for Gypsy (he was originally offered the job of composer, too, but Ethel Merman thought him too green; the job went to Jule Styne).

In the meantime, he developed a style and approach that would, when he began to write shows single-handed, take the principles of the old-fashioned musical and radically modernise them. Sondheim's tricky, compact, dense lyrics work almost like puzzles (he is a big cryptic crossword fan), and draw from his earliest instincts about music and art. He was a maths student at college and only took a course in music because the tutor promised to strip it of romanticism and approach it, said Sondheim, as a "mathematical art". The geometry of things, how they connect and draw attention to their own composition, is a presiding interest, as is technical precision – good pronunciation is all in the work of Sondheim.

He has said the biggest influence on his professional life was the failure of Allegro, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that came after Oklahoma! and Carousel. He worked as production assistant for the original 1947 Broadway production; on its opening night, an actor caught his tap shoe in a track, ripped every ligament in his leg, and had to be carried, screaming, from the stage. It proved that even the best in the business could still make mistakes. As he told Radio 3 last week: "I've spent my life trying to fix Allegro."

The notion of failure ("the sand in the oyster that isn't a pearl", as he wrote in Anyone Can Whistle) was quickly incorporated as a theme, along with ambivalence, mild irritation, petulance and panic – states and sentiments that traditional musicals shove aside for the bigger, blowsier ones.
"There is someone in this dress, George," huffs Dot, as he paints her that Sunday on the island in the Seine.
In "Company", the chorus, with its superficially cheerful tone, becomes progressively madder and more sinister as it tries to pull Bobby, the single man, into the unhappy life of the couples around him.
The anti-love songs – lines such as "deeply mal-adjusted/never to be trusted"; or, in A Little Night Music, the song Every Day a Little Death – are Sondheim at his best, their music managing, through a grinding chirpiness, to comment on modern life before you even get to the lyrics.


The performers of these songs are of a recognisable type, reflecting the writer's preference for the doyenne over the ingenue.
You certainly wouldn't start a fight with any of Sondheim's leading ladies: Judi Dench, Angela Lansbury, Carol Burnett; the latter's Ladies Who Lunch is a boozier, more desperate affair than Elaine Stritch's more famous version.
Five years ago, Stritch appeared at Sondheim's 75th birthday gala and, fists clenched and grimacing, sang Broadway Baby from Follies, at the age of almost 80. There's a cold fury and a furious delight in Sondheim, the two mingling and shifting.
Ladies Who Lunch, from Company, turns from a slight, frivolous number into a rage against the darkness in a way that puts you in mind of Stevie Smith's poem Thoughts About the Person from Porlock, in which the person from Porlock is not, as one is encouraged to believe in the opening lines, an annoying neighbor, but death itself.

"It's anyone's guess whether the public will be shocked or delighted," wrote a critic in the New York Times in 1984, after the first production of Sunday in the Park With George. People are allowed to be sad in Sondheim and they are allowed to break the rules – most notably to sing up against the ceiling of a note and tip, occasionally, into flatness, as will happen in life – but they are also infused with the essentially romantic American spirit.
The characters might be cynical, but the net result is not cynicism, nor desiccated wordiness, nor mathematics.

"Anything you do, let it come from you, and it will be new," sings Sunday's Dot to her grumpy lover, who, despite his grumpiness, tyranny and solipsism, is motivated by love.
So is everyone else in a Sondheim production – and, as the writer has said himself, so is he.




The response to KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler's new Gershwin show at
the Algonquin has been overwhelming.
People are saying it's the best
show they've ever seen KT & Mark do.
Some are even saying it's the best show
they've ever seen from ANYONE at the Algonquin. There are only two numbers in the show that were in AMERICAN RHAPSODY.

If you haven't seen it yet, please make your reservations PRONTO!!





MUSIC REVIEW | 'GERSHWIN ... HERE TO STAY'
‘The Happiness Stuff’ That Makes Embraceable Music Irreplaceable


By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: March 15, 2010
You don’t have to be depressing to be deep. The upside-down notion
that happy, energetic music may be more profound than Mahleresque
harmonic gloom is suggested by a scene from Walter Rimler’s 2009
biography, “George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait (Music in American
Life),” quoted by the piano man Mark Nadler in “Gershwin ... Here to
Stay,” the wonderfully buoyant tribute he is performing with K T
Sullivan at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel.




When Gershwin’s friend Kay Swift observed him playing “dark, doom-
laden chords” and asked him what he was composing, he said: “Oh,
nothing. I was just working off some of the dreary music that lies
near the top of a composer’s mind. Then I’ll dig down to the happiness
stuff, with any luck.”

A similar belief in joy as the artistic mother lode in popular music
drives the show, in which Mr. Nadler and Ms. Sullivan are joined by
the Chicago jazz pianist Jon Weber, whose feathery touch on the
keyboard balances Mr. Nadler’s crunching percussiveness. A high point
on Thursday night was their furiously propulsive four-handed reduction
of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, embellished with some physical
clowning.
Immediately after, Ms. Sullivan slipped into a comic vamp mode and
sidled to the piano to sing “Sam and Delilah” in a campy dialect and
tug playfully at Mr. Weber’s ponytail.

A decade ago Ms. Sullivan and Mr. Nadler performed another, more
conventional (and uneven) Gershwin tribute, “American Rhapsody,” that
ran off Broadway for nine months. In the 10 years since, they have
grown exponentially in confidence and mutual understanding. The show’s
astute musical pairings include “Who Cares?” with “They All Laughed”;
“Sweet and Lowdown” with “Shall We Dance?”; and “’S Wonderful” wound
around excerpts from “Rhapsody in Blue.” Their rendition of “How Long
Has This Been Going On?,” the Gershwin ode to delirious, nonplatonic
kissing, is one of the few I’ve heard that emphasizes what the song is
really about.

Mr. Nadler’s exegesis on how the internal rhythms and syntax of the
chorus of “Embraceable You” express an image in the verse of the heart
skipping a beat, is another example of the show’s microscopic focus.
Only once, in a climactic “I Got Rhythm,” did Mr. Nadler allow his
hammy impulses to run amok.

K T Sullivan and Mark Nadler perform through April 10 at the Oak Room
of the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, Manhattan; (212) 419-9331.


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 Friday! 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:
Richard, thank you so much for the opportunity to sing (and dance with you!) tonight at the Iguana. You and Dana make the night so fun and full of laughter -- you really ARE the Steve and Edie of 54th St.! xoxo Jennifer Pade, http://www.jenniferpade.com





Thanks so much for a terrific show last night! All of us girls had a wonderful time. Wish there were a night of just Richard and Dana!!
LORNA DRAKE






Thank you Richard for a fun-filled night of entertainment, I didn't want it to end. How wonderful to see so many talented people in one evening. Kudos to you and Dana.
SANDRA DAVIS





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 (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!
NOMINATED FOR TWO 2010 MANHATTAN ASSOCIATION OF CABARETS AND CLUBS AWARDS (MAC) FOR OUTSTANDING VARIETY SHOW AND OUTSTANDING HOSTS!

For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_
RESERVATIONS A MUST!!!!!!!!
212-765-5454.
No one admitted before
7:30.



















TOMORROW NIGHT: March 31st: JENNIFER PADE returns after wowing the audience last week! Frank Basile (seen here with Celeste Holm) , Deb Berman, Annie Dienerman, Stearns Matthews, Allegra Thieman ...

April 7th: Wear BLACK & RED as we celebrate Helena Grenot's Birthday!Esther Beckman Group, Sina Lewis, Cindy Marchionda, RJ Shaw, Susan Winter


April 14th: Naomi Miller, Karen Oberlinjoins us!

April 21st: Anaiza, Henry Dee, Rita Ellis Hammer, Jim Speake, Susan Eichhorn Young

April 28th: Hector Coris, Kecia Craig and Frank Stern!

May 5th: Anton Van Der Merwe and Julie Reyburn

May 19th: Adrienne Haan, Barbara Gurskey returns.


May 26th: Michelle Collier

June 2nd: D'Yan Forest and Tod Hall





June 16th: 2010 Julie Reyburn, Lisa Raze returns!


May 19th: Michelle Collier, Barbara Gurskey
TILL NEXT WEEK...HERE'S TO A MUSICAL APRIL!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

JACK HIRSHBERG, LIZA MINNELLI, LOU URSONE...AND MORE!


Jack Hirshberg, the iconic publicist who worked on dozens of films and chronicled a golden age in Hollywood, died at his home in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on March 7 after a brief illness.

He was 92.
His death was announced Friday by family spokesperson Spooky Stevens.

A native of Montreal, Hirshberg began his career as a newspaper reporter in the 1930s, becoming a syndicated columnist with "Hirshberg's Hollywood," which ran throughout Canada.
He was a founding member of the Publicists Guild of America in 1937 and worked on such films as "The Ten Commandments," "Some Like It Hot," "Play It Again, Sam," "All the President's Men" and "Ordinary People."


Hirshberg also represented such notables as Frank Sinatra, Jack Benny, Gary Cooper, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Martin & Lewis and Cecil B. DeMille.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences maintains a special collection of the Hirshberg Papers, Spanning the years 1953-80, they include hundreds of articles, tape-recorded interviews and memorabilia collected throughout his career and is comprised of nine linear feet of interviews.
Hirshberg's joined Paramount in 1940 to handle special promotions for young actors.
An American citizen through his parents, he joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, then returned to the studio and handled campaigns for dozens of films, notably DeMille's "Ten Commandments" (1956) and Stanley Donen's "Funny Face" (1957).


He left Paramount to work as an independent publicity director on "The Vikings" (1958), followed by "Kings Go Forth" (1958), "Some Like It Hot" (1959) and other pics.
In the early '60s, Hirshberg supervised publicity for the motion picture department at Rogers & Cowan, then created and executed campaigns for the firm's TV division. He then shifted to Arthur P. Jacobs' company, APJAC Prods., supervising publicity for all its productions, including "Doctor Dolittle" (1967), "The Planet of the Apes" series that began in 1968, "Tom Sawyer" (1973) and "Play It Again, Sam" (1972).
At Fox, he served as the publicist on such pics as George Cukor's "Justine" (1969), Gene Kelly's "Hello, Dolly!" (1969) and Martin Ritt's "The Great White Hope" (1970).

Hirshberg retired in 1973, but at the request of Robert Redford, he came back to handle the publicity on Redford films "All the President's Men" (1976), "The Electric Horseman" (1979) and two from 1980, "Brubaker" and "Ordinary People."
Hirshberg also was a ghost writer for Hollywood notables and wrote two books, "The Making of 'All the President's Men' " and "The Legend of the Lone Ranger."

Hirshberg was preceded in death by his wife Lois, to whom he was married for 40 years; she died in 1992. He is survived by daughters Susan Davis and Jill Zinner; son Robert Purvin; his loving companion of 17 years, Madelyn Kamins; four grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a nephew, a niece and several cousins.

For more than two decades, Hirshberg was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and a supporter of the Pacific Symphony of Orange County, among other organizations.

A celebration of his life will take place April 24. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made in Jack's memory to the Motion Picture and TV Fund, the Blind Childrens Center in Los Angeles or the City of Hope.

Gay Support Group Honors Minnelli
By PATRICK HEALY
Pflag National, a group for parents, families, and supporters of gay people, is naming Liza Minnelli the second recipient of its Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award, which recognizes an ally of gay rights who is not herself gay.
Ms. Minnelli, who has been honored for her acting and singing with Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Awards, has spoken out for decades in favor of causes like gay marriage and in support for gay men and lesbians, and has donated money to AIDS research.

Both she and her mother, Judy Garland, have been cultural touchstones for generations of many gay artists and others by dint of their talent and their own personal struggles.

The award will be presented at a gala at the New York Marriott Marquis on May 1. The first recipient of the award, in 2009, was the actress Sigourney Weaver.

When actor Lou Ursone of South Salem, N.Y., became executive director of Curtain Call, a community-based theater in Stamford, 10 years ago, he knew there were many challenges ahead, including audience and performing space development.

Curtain Call, at the Sterling Farms Theatre Complex off Newfield Avenue, includes the 40-year-old Kweskin Theater, The Dressing Room Theatre (a smaller performing space), and an outdoor theater (modeled after The Globe) for summer Shakespeare productions. As he observes his 10th year with Curtain Call, the executive director is spreading the good news that a 6,000-square-foot major renovation of the Kweskin Theatre has provided a new lobby, dressing rooms that previously did not exist, a rehearsal hall, a basement wardrobe facility, and enlarged restroom facilities. The 184-seat auditorium, updated in 2002, did not change in size.
In addition to ongoing theater workshops for children and adults, productions are increasing from three annually to 14 or more, says the executive director, who’s a member of Actor’s Equity, SAG and AFTRA and has performed with the Connecticut-based Stepping Out Entertainment Group for 25 years.


Talking about the progress that has been made at Curtain Call, Mr. Ursone said, “Now in my 10th year here, I can’t think of anything more exciting than to see my dream coming true.




“For almost 40 years, actors performing at Kweskin Theater had to cross a driveway to another building for costume changes, but the next time we do The Wizard of Oz, the Cowardly Lion won’t be wearing garbage bags on his feet to keep his fur from getting wet during a rainstorm.

“The Kweskin is an amazing facility already; we have kept it active year-round with the help of hundreds of volunteers, and now with more space, it will be just about perfect,” Mr. Ursone said.

Currently on the boards at the Dressing Room Theatre is Driving Miss Daisy, featuring Nancy Thode of Greenwich.
It follows the Kweskin Theater musical, The Full Monty, a shared production with Playhouse on the Green in Bridgeport, where it’s now running. Upcoming productions at Curtain Call include Hello Dolly!, starring Carole Claps of Darien, April 2 to May 1; and The Graduate, April 16 to May 2.


Auditions for The Full Monty attracted many experienced actors, Mr. Ursone said. The cast, now performing in Bridgeport, includes Dom Lettera, Ruth Lettera, Laura Naramore, Sean Ormond, Jim Ringel, Robbie Sherwood, Kevin Thompson and Danny Ward of Stamford; Richard Cummings and Melinda Zupaniotis, Norwalk; Jenifer Condon, Darien; Lianne DeFabio and Jacqueline MacLean, Stratford; Molly Garbe and Jim Nassef, Fairfield; Jacqueline Goodwin and Ruth Anne Ring, Westport; Eli Newsom, Bridgeport; Kevin Pelkey, Beacon Falls; Bill Warncke, White Plains; and Peter Dell Uomo, Mamaroneck.

While living in southern California, Jenifer Condon played the role of Sandy in Grease, The Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Dreamcoat, Lily in Secret Garden, and toured internationally as Frida in the ABBA tribute band Bjorn Again.

An actor and director, Eli Newsom recently moved to Connecticut from California. He is currently teaching tap dancing.
Jim Nassef recently finished national tours of The Rocky Horror Show and Bye Bye Birdie and has appeared in children’s productions at the Bridgeport Downtown Cabaret Theater. He is currently teaching dancing and acting at Playhouse on the Green.

The Kweskin Theater is a special place for Melinda Zupaniotis, formerly of Darien, who has been active in theater since she attended school in Darien. Ms. Zupianotis, who has also had a career as a talent agent in New York City representing many celebrities and up-and-coming actors, was last seen at the Kweskin as Sister Robert Anne in Nunsense.

The production team of The Full Monty features director/choreographer Douglas Shankman; musical director Stephanie Gaumer; scenic designer Peter Barbieri, Jr.; lighting designer Aaron Meadow; and costumes by Solveig Pflueger. Stage management is by Tom DeSalvo assisted by Linda Wilson.


For The Full Monty reservations at Playhouse on the Green in Bridgeport, Friday and Saturday at 8 and 3 on Sunday, through March 28, call 203-333-3666. Tickets are $29; $26 for seniors and students.
(TOVAH FELDSHUH pictured)
25th ANNUAL BISTRO AWARDS GALA

At Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd St., NYC – Tuesday, April 13 at 6:30 pm



Evening Honors Mitzi Gaynor and Elaine Stritch



Bistro Silver Anniversary Awards to Tovah Feldshuh,

Paul Trueblood, and Ronny Whyte


Michael Feinstein(pictured with Frank Decaro) and Peter Napolitano Receive ASCAP and BMI Awards






NEW YORK, MARCH 9, 2010 – More than 20 of cabaret’s brightest stars will be honored at the 25th Annual Bistro Awards which will take place on Tuesday, April 13 at Gotham Comedy Club.
Legendary singer-dancer-actress Mitzi Gaynor, star of such films as South Pacific, Les Girls, Anything Goes, and a longtime headliner in Las Vegas and the nightclub circuit, making her first NY night club appearance in years in May at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, will be honored with the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award. Elaine Stritch, the uniquely sensational actress and singer and star of stage, film, and TV, will be recognized in the category of Extraordinary Cabaret Artist, noting her recent conquests of the cabaret stage.


The evening, under the direction of Eric Michael Gillett, will feature performances from most of the Bistro-winning artists and shows and will feature guest presenters singer-actress Klea Blackhurst(Klea Blackhurst and Bistro Award winner Christine Ebersole), comic Jim David, and actress-comedienne Marilyn Sokol.



Celebrating its Silver Anniversary of awards presentations to the cabaret community, and the first-ever award in the industry, the Bistro Awards will this year honor three individuals for their 25-plus years of artistic accomplishments: multiple-award-winning actress-singer Tovah Feldshuh, musical director-arranger and conductor Paul Trueblood, and singer-pianist-songwriter Ronny Whyte.



The ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Outstanding Duos goes to Michael Feinstein and co-stars Cheyenne Jackson, Christine Ebersole, and David Hyde Pierce, with whom he appeared in separate shows at the cabaret venue that bears his name, Feinstein’s at Loews Regency. For Outstanding Director, the BMI Award will go to Peter Napolitano, a BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop participant.

Some of the shows honored pay tribute to musical styles. Sarah Rice reflects on songs from old Hollywood (Outstanding Theme Show), the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players puts a twist on operettas (Special Award), Loli Marquez-Sterling puts the accent on the Latin Big Band sound (Outstanding Entertainer), while Lee Summers delivers standards and classic R&B (Outstanding Entertainer). Singers such as Liz Callaway (Outstanding Major Engagement), Nicole Henry (Outstanding Jazz Vocalist), and Anne Steele (Outstanding Vocalist)(ANNE STEELE PICTURED) croon various musical styles in their shows.



The Bistro Awards Committee has named two recipients in the Outstanding Recording category: Alan Cumming for his “I Bought a Blue Car Today” CD, and Julie Reyburn for her “Live at Feinstein’s” recording. The Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award, given to an outstanding performer on the rise, and named after Back Stage’s co-founder, co-publisher and first cabaret critic, goes to Danielle Grabianowski.



The gala event will be held on Tuesday, April 13 at Gotham Comedy Club, 208 W. 23rd Street. A champagne reception for the Bistro recipients and Premium ticket holders begins at 5 pm, followed by the awards presentation and show starting promptly at 6:30 pm. Producer Sherry Eaker will be hosting the annual event, along with members of the Bistro Awards Committee.



The Bistro Awards Committee comprises Elizabeth Ahlfors (Cabaret Scenes, CurtainUp.com, and BistroAwards.com), David Finkle (Village Voice, HuffingtonPost.com, and BistroAwards.com), Rob Lester (Cabaret Scenes, NiteLifeExchange.com), Erv Raible, executive/artistic director of the Cabaret Conference at Yale University, Roy Sander (BistroAwards.com), and Sherry Eaker, formerly the Editor in Chief of Back Stage.



The Bistro Awards are sponsored by ASCAP and BMI, with additional sponsorship from Branson B. Champagne and StageBuddy.com, and media sponsorship from Back Stage.


Ticket prices are: General Admission at $45.00; $75.00 for a Premium seat, which includes a pre-show Champagne reception and preferred seating. There is a two-drink minimum.
A food menu is also available. Details and ticket information about the After Bistros party will be posted on Bistro Awards website. To purchase show tickets, go to www.bistroawards.com, or for more information, call: 917-239-5467.




A complete list of the winners follows:


THE BISTRO SILVER ANNIVERSARY AWARDS FOR ONGOING ARTISTIC ACCOMPLISHMENT/ Tovah Feldshuh; Paul Trueblood; Ronny Whyte



ANNE STEELE/ Vocalist/ The Metropolitan Room



NICOLE HENRY/ Jazz Vocalist/ The Metropolitan Room



DANIELLE GRABIANOWSKI/ Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award/ The Metropolitan Room, Don’t Tell Mama

LOLI MARQUEZ-STERLING/ Entertainer/ The Triad, The Metropolitan Room



LEE SUMMERS/ Entertainer/ The Triad



LIZ CALLAWAY/ Major Engagement/ The Metropolitan Room



GRETCHEN REINHAGEN, “Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard”/ Tribute Show/ The Metropolitan Room



SARAH RICE, “Screen Gems – Songs of Old Hollywood”/ Theme Show/ Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café



MICHAEL FEINSTEIN and…CHEYENNE JACKSON; CHRISTINE EBERSOLE; DAVID HYDE PIERCE/ ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Duo Shows/ Feinstein’s at Loews Regency



CELEBRITY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: In Their Own Words, created by Eugene Pack/ Comedy Series/ The Triad



I’VE GOT A LITTLE TWIST, conceived, written, and directed by David Auxier, musical direction and arrangements by Mark York, produced by Albert Bergeret/ Special Award/ The Triad, Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café


THE CONCERTS AT TUDOR CITY GREENS/ Special Award/Created and produced by Raissa Katona Bennett



PETER NAPOLITANO/BMI Award for Director



THE SALON/ Special Award/Created and hosted by Mark Janas / The Algonquin Hotel, Etcetera Etcetera



ALAN CUMMING/Recording, “I Bought a Blue Car Today”



JULIE REYBURN/ Recording, “Live at Feinstein’s”



BRETT KRISTOFFERSON/ Songwriter


RICHARD EISENBERG/ “Two Again”/Special Material


ELAINE STRITCH/ Extraordinary Cabaret Artist



MITZI GAYNOR/ Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award



Show tribute to 'Liza and Judy'

Suzanne Goulet as Liza Minnelli and Denise Rose as Judy Garland will present "Liza and Judy -- Together Again" at 7:30 p.m. April 10 at the Ritz Theatre, 30 S. Washington St.

Goulet and Rose look, sing and dance like the legends they portray. Theatergoers will see a re-creation of "Get Happy" and "Swanee" from Garland's movies plus Minelli's famous "Bye Bye Blackbird" from "Liza with a Z" and "Cabaret." Together, they perform several duets, "Hello Dolly," "Alexander's Ragtime Band" "Be a Clown" and a medley of their most famous songs. Other numbers will include their standards "New York, New York" and "Over the Rainbow."

Tickets are $40, $30, $20 and $10. To purchase tickets by phone call 419-448-8544 or 1-800-586-7382 or visit www.ritztheatre.org. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. It opens one hour before each performance.Lorna Luft to honor her mom in show at McCallum






Lorna Luft will return to the McCallum Theatre on Friday for a hometown concert.

The daughter of Judy Garland and half-sister of Liza Minnelli has performed several times in the desert, but she leased a Rancho Mirage home last year, so this will be her first show as a local resident.

Luft, 57, will perform “Lorna Luft Celebrates Her Mother, Judy Garland.” She recently spoke to Desert Post Weekly at one of her favorite Rancho Mirage restaurants, P.F. Chang's, with topics including:

Judy Garland, who died after abusing prescription drugs when Luft was 16: “My mother was really smart and incredibly funny. That's one thing I talk about in the show. It has driven me nuts over the years. She's known as this tragic figure. She wasn't tragic. She had tragedies in her life, but she wasn't tragic.”

Living in her mother's shadow: “I never got out from it. I've embraced it. You can never run away from your shadow. But what you can learn to do is be grateful and say thank you and then keep working as your own person. I have done things that my mother didn't. I did a Broadway show. My mother never did a Broadway show. I've done a television series as an actor (“Trapper John, M.D.”). My mom never did. I'm really, really lucky because I never forgot about my roots in the Broadway theater. I just finished a big tour of Irving Berlin's “‘White Christmas.'”

What might have happened if Garland had lived until the Betty Ford Center had opened: “I think about it a lot. I've been sober 26 years. At first it made me totally sob. Then I thought to myself, how fantastic that (the Betty Ford Center) has given so many generations a way forward if they choose to stay sober. With the Ford (Center), we have the knowledge, the technology, the education and the facilities so you have a choice. My mom didn't have a choice.”

Tension with Liza: “It's not even tension. I think we have a pretty normal relationship. We don't live on the same coast, so we don't see each other. But when we're in the same vicinity, we e-mail one another. I think the media has made it out to be something it really isn't because, if they made it out to be really normal, who's going to read that? We sit back and laugh at it. ‘Do you realize we're not speaking to one another?' That's how we grew up.”


(Photo: at Truman's Inauguration. L-R Bess Truman, Perle Mesta, Harry Truman, Margaret Truman)Documentary offers a toast to Perle Mesta

By Marylynne Pitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Joe Mastruzzo/International News Soundphoto
In 1956, Perle Mesta greeted Jacqueline and Sen. John Kennedy at a party she hosted for the elite of the Democratic Party in Chicago.

An heiress of two industrial fortunes, Perle Mesta moved to Washington, D.C., in 1941, became its reigning social hostess and entertained a long list of luminaries, including her good friends Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S Truman.
Her whirlwind life inspired the smash hit Broadway musical "Call Me Madam," which starred Ethel Merman. A teetotaler who drank Coca-Cola, her festive parties included music and vintage champagne; dinners featured partridge or guinea hen. In 1949, President Truman appointed her the first U.S. minister to Luxembourg.

"Call Her Madam," a documentary about this rather unorthodox but always hospitable pioneer diplomat, will be shown tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Homewood Cemetery's main administration building in Squirrel Hill. This is the first time the film, made in 1997, will be shown in the United States. Admission is $5.

Researched and directed by Paul Lesch, a film and history professor at the University of Luxembourg, the 55-minute documentary focuses on Mrs. Mesta's Washington career as well as her tenure, from 1949 to 1953, in the grand duchy of Luxembourg. Along with archival newsreels and still photographs, there are concise interviews with Mrs. Mesta's niece, Washington journalists, Luxembourg diplomats and an embassy staff member who sometimes found madame minister difficult because she was so demanding of herself and her staff.

Mrs. Mesta died in 1975 at the age of 85. She rests in Homewood Cemetery in the family mauseoleum of George Mesta, the handsome Italian engineer she married in 1917. Founder of Pittsburgh's mighty Mesta Machine Co. in West Homestead, he died at age 63 in 1925, leaving a $78 million fortune to his young widow. Mrs. Mesta's other fortune came from her father, William B. Skirvin, an oil millionaire.

While in Luxembourg, Mrs. Mesta befriended everyone from Grand Duchess Charlotte to her charming, trusted butler. She hosted holiday parties for hundreds of children from Luxembourg orphanages. U.S. soldiers stationed in Europe visited her residence monthly, knowing they would find good food and liquor.
Soldiers signed a guestbook, giving their home addresses. Afterward, Mrs. Mesta personally wrote to their parents to assure them of their sons' well-being.

Aside from her leadership and diplomatic skills, the native Oklahoman was an accomplished pianist and singer, a smart businesswoman and a feminist active in politics and the National Women's Party.

And what would a gathering that honors her memory be without festivities? After the screening, a local women's history group called Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails will host a fund-raising reception with champagne, black Russian cake and Mrs. Mesta's recipe for peppermint cremepuffs. Proceeds benefit the Homewood Cemetery Historical Fund.
Homewood Cemetery is at 1599 S. Dallas Ave., Pgh., 15217. Information: 412-421-1822 or www.homewood.org. Marylynne Pitz can be reached at mpitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1648.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10079/1044210-60.stm#ixzz0ikvZgIsF


Peter Scolari Joins Cast of WHITE'S LIES At New World Stages, Opens 3/22
(SOURCE: BROADWAYWORLD.COM)

Producer Aaron Grant has announced that actor Peter Scolari has joined the cast of WHITE'S LIES, a new comedy by Ben Andron & directed by Bob Cline, is scheduled to open on March 22, 2010, at New World Stages. Mr. Scolari will play the role of Alan, Joe White's best friend & law partner.

Peter Scolari is best known to TV audiences as Michael Harris, the bumbling TV producer on "Newhart." He has appeared in numerous TV shows such as "Big Love," "ER," "The West Wing," "Ally McBeal," & "The King of Queens," as well as the feature film Polar Express, which starred his old "Bosom Buddies" co-star, Tom Hanks. He has appeared on Broadway in the revival of Sly Fox, as Wilbur Turnblad in Hairspray & in the Encores! productions of Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 & Out of this World. He is also one of the founding members of the Collonades Theatre Lab in NYC.

Joe White's got it all. He's handsome, he's charming, he's got a great career & a killer smile that manages to land him a different girl every night. But all that changes when his mother drops a bombshell on him: she's got cancer & her dying wish is to have a grandchild. With his bachelorhood threatened, Joe is faced with a choice. He could give up his womanizing ways and find a nice girl to settle down and have kids with... OR... he could convince his bitter, angry ex-girlfriend from college - who just happens to have a daughter in her early twenties - to pretend that her daughter is his daughter. As their tangled web of lies unravels, Joe and company find themselves on a hilarious journey full of unexpected twists and turns that will have you looking at cancer and commitment in a whole new way!
DATES: Previews: March 8, 2010 Opens: March 22, 1010

THEATRE: New World Stages ~ 340 West 50th Street


TICKETS: $75 & $60

WEBSITE: www.whitesliesonstage.com

RESERVATIONS: (212) 239- 6200 (telecharge)


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 Friday! 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:
Richard, thank you so much for the opportunity to sing (and dance with you!) tonight at the Iguana. You and Dana make the night so fun and full of laughter -- you really ARE the Steve and Edie of 54th St.! xoxo Jennifer Pade, http://www.jenniferpade.com





Dear Richard and Dana,
Last week's show was terrific! I have been away for a few weeks and I really missed the wonderful friendly atmosphere, comfortable surroundings, and fabulously talented entertainers. Keep up the great work. You have both created a place to "make mention about," and I mention it whenever I can.
Marlene Sampson






I wish BROADWAY for you. You would fill the Theatre. Can I have a front row seat though? You are BROADWAY!

Love, Jillian Laurain
http://www.jillianlaurain.com






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 (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!
This is a nice night out with the family!

For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_
RESERVATIONS A MUST!!!!!!!!
212-765-5454.
No one admitted before
7:30.




















March 31st: Frank Basile (seen here with Celeste Holm) , Deb Berman, Annie Dienerman, Stearns Matthews, Allegra Thieman ...

April 7th: Esther Beckman Group, Sina Lewis, Cindy Marchionda, RJ Shaw, Susan Winter


April 14th: Naomi Miller, Karen Oberlinjoins us!George Stella returns!

April 21st: Anaiza, Henry Dee, Rita Ellis Hammer, Jim Speake, Susan Eichhorn Young

April 28th: Hector Coris, Kecia Craig and Frank Stern!

May 5th: Anton Van Der Merwe and Julie Reyburn

May 19th: Adrienne Haan


May 26th: Michelle Collier

June 2nd: D'Yan Forest and Tod Hall





June 16th: 2010 Julie Reyburn


May 19th: Michelle Collier, Barbara Gurskey
TILL NEXT WEEK...HERE'S TO A MUSICAL SPRING!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

BEEF AND BOARDS DINNER THEATRE, MICHAEL FEINSTEIN, DAME EDNA...AND MORE!


Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre Presents HELLO DOLLY 3/25-5/2
(Source: BROADWAYWORLD.COM)


Love is in the air this spring as Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre presents the famous matchmaking musical Hello, Dolly!
The beloved Broadway show, which won 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical, is live on stage March 25 through May 2.
Based on the play "The Matchmaker" by Thornton Wilder, Hello, Dolly! is the story of Dolly Levi, who is filled with personality and an agenda. A turn-of-the-century matchmaker, Dolly is supposed to be arranging a match for the wealthy Horace Vandergelder - but she'd much prefer to keep him to herself.
Horace has his sights set on a pretty young widow, but Dolly doesn't give up on getting her man.


Award-winning composer Jerry Herman's score includes such great songs as "It Takes A Woman," "Put On Your Sunday Clothes," "So Long Dearie," "Ribbons Down My Back," "It Only Takes A Moment," and of course, "Hello, Dolly!"

Renowned Chicago actress Iris Lieberman stars as the meddling title character, while Mark Goetzinger of Indianapolis reprises the role of half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder.
There are 43 performances of Hello, Dolly! scheduled in the intimate space of Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre.
Tickets range from $35 to $58, and include Chef Odell Ward's specially prepared buffet with a fruit & salad bar, unlimited coffee and tea. Ample free parking is available.

For reservations, call the Box Office at 317.872.9664. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays.

Hello, Dolly! is sponsored in part by Indianapolis Woman magazine.

For complete show schedule, visit www.beefandboards.com.

Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, located on the Northwest side of Indianapolis, has been providing food and fun for everyone since 1973.



Feinstein and Dame Edna are B'way's new odd couple

By MICHAEL KUCHWARA, AP Drama Critic



In this theater publicity image released by Jeffrey Richards & Associates, Michael Feinstein, left, and Barry Humphries as Dame Edna are shown in "All About Me," playing at Broadway's Henry Miller's Theatre in New York.





Not since Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison moved in together has Broadway had such an odd couple on the boards.

But there they are: Michael Feinstein, cabaret sophisticate with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Great American Songbook, and the purple-coiffed Dame Edna Everage, that audacious Australian housewife channeled by Barry Humphries, sharing the stage at the Henry Miller's Theatre.


Their 90-minute show, which opened Thursday, has the feel of a glossy Las Vegas revue, well put-together but unsurprising, especially if you have seen both performers before.

Feinstein, dressed in a spiffy tuxedo, gets to demonstrate his formidable musical-theater expertise, particularly in a lovely rendition of the classic Rodgers and Hart tune "My Romance." He caresses the lyrics, making each word count. And when the lyricist is of the caliber of Lorenz Hart, the words are straight from the heart, pure and truthful.

Other songs are given more of a hard sell, from the Burton Lane-Alan Jay Lerner "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?" to the Charles Strouse-Lee Adams "A Lot of Livin' to Do." Both numbers are pumped up to maximum volume by the on-stage orchestra under the athletic direction of Rob Bowman.


The conceit for the show, which was written by Feinstein and Christopher Durang, is that each performer doesn't know the other will also be appearing.

After an argument — and a solo turn by Dame Edna — they agree, under the mediation of the revue's stage manager (Jodi Capeless) to become a double act.

Dame Edna, in a splendid array of gaudy costumes by Anna Louizos, knows how to interact with an audience. It's a unique skill, and Dame Edna is a master practitioner. Deftly peppering them with questions, she can extract information from even the most recalcitrant theatergoer and then use the material to get laughs.

There are other performers, too. When both Feinstein and Edna are in the wings, Capeless delivers a gutsy rendition of "And the World Goes 'Round," the John Kander-Fred Ebb anthem closely associated with Liza Minnelli.
And both stars are ably assisted by a couple of well-built chorus guys, Gregory Butler and Jon-Paul Mateo.


"All About Me" has been directed by Casey Nicholaw, one of Broadway's most savvy showmen. He's schooled in old-fashioned razzmatazz, and his knowledge of making a musical move comes in handy as the show builds during its final half-hour and celebrates the stars' more-or-less peaceful coexistence.

Here we get an idiosyncratic and often funny rendition by Dame Edna of Stephen Sondheim's "The Ladies Who Lunch," even after Edna had previously proclaimed that the show would be a "Sondheim-free zone."
And the section includes some of the show's more original material, including an outrageous little ditty (penned by Feinstein and Humphries) called "The Dingo Ate My Baby," and sung, of course, by Dame Edna.

Feinstein also has written a number celebrating Edna's signature flower, the gladiola. It wouldn't be a Dame Edna show without those posies being thrown into the audience at the finale and getting theatergoers on their feet. Talk about a ready-made standing ovation.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/03/18/entertainment/e150514D01.DTL#ixzz0iZzXqzcg


On Monday, March 15th, The Actors Fund presented the next in their series of Musical
Mondays in the lobby of the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. This time offering
audiences a chance to get Up Close and Personal with Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The
evenings special guests included the incomparable talents of Maureen McGovern and
Lari White with the evenings moderation by Michael A. Kerker, ASCAP. The truly
enchanting evening was produced by John Bowab and Martin Wiviott. The, oh so very
important, Sponsors included Continental Airlines, Sunset Marquis and the
Nederlander Organization.

Among those in attendance for this evening of reflection upon music we grew up with
were Ilene Graff, Florence Henderson, Jane A. Johnston, Roslyn Kind, Patricia Kelly,
Kate Linder, Rose Marie, Donna Mills, Patricia Morrison, Eve Plumb, Stefanie Powers,
and Charlotte Rae.

Alan and Marilyn Bergman are two of the most distinguished figures in music today.
Nominated for sixteen Academy Awards, they have won three Oscars, four Emmys, two
Grammys and a Cable Ace Award. Patrons were heard to say more than once ... "I
remember where I was when I first heard ..." as they listened in rapt attention to
songs such as “The Way We Were”, “The Windmills of Your Mind”, “Papa, Can You Hear
Me?” from “Yentl”, “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?”, “Nice 'n' Easy”,
“That Face”, “It Might Be You”, “The Summer Knows”, “Where Do You Start?”, “How Do
You Keep the Music Playing?”, among many others. The audience was stunned to hear
that Ms Barbra Streisand had in fact recorded 50 of their songs. For television,
they won Emmys for “Sybil' and for the TV musical “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom”
which was later adapted for the Broadway stage as “Ballroom”. Television theme songs
include "Maude," "Good Times," "Alice" , "Brooklyn Bridge" and “In the Heat of the
Night.” Their first collaboration with Cy Coleman, “Portraits in Jazz: A Gallery of
Songs” was commissioned by and performed in 2002 at The Kennedy Center in
Washington, D.C. and received widespread acclaim. The show, expanded with text by
Larry Gelbart, ran for a sold-out, limited engagement at the Mark Taper Forum in Los
Angeles. Now titled “Up Close and Musical”, it is being prepared for Broadway. Alan
and Marilyn are currently working on several projects with Michel Legrand and Marvin
Hamlisch. Their musical “Queen of the Stardust Ballroom” with music by Billy
Goldenberg, new music by Marvin Hamlisch, book by Jerry Kass, directed by Jerry
Mitchell and starring Tyne Daly is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2010. Their
current film Steven Soderbergh's “The Informant!” starring Matt Damon, includes
their song “Trust Me”, with music by Marvin Hamlisch. They are also working on
“Visions of America” - a photo symphony celebrating the sights and sounds of America
- for which they have written four new songs with composer Roger Kellaway. It had
its premiere performance in January 2009 with the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra.
“Lyrically, Alan Bergman” a CD of their songs sung by Alan with the Berlin Radio
Orchestra is in current release on Verve Records. Other collaborators of Alan and
Marilyn's are Dave Grusin, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mandel, Quincy Jones, John Williams
and James Newton Howard, collaborations which have resulted in countless important
works for film, television and recordings. Their many awards and honors include
induction into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame and its Johnny Mercer Award, the
Clooney Foundation Singers Salute to the Songwriter Award, the Songwriter's Guild
Aggie Award, the National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award, the
first Johnny Mercer Award by the Johnny Mercer Foundation and ASCAP's Founders
Award. Marilyn served as President and Chairman of the Board of the American Society
of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for fifteen years and continues to
serve on the ASCAP Board. She is also the Chair of the Library of Congress National
Sound Recording Preservation Board. Alan serves on many boards including the
Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board, the National Academy of
Songwriters, the Johnny Mercer Foundation, the Artists’ Rights Foundation and the
Jazz Bakery Board of Directors. They both serve on the Executive Committee of the
Music Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. They were born in the
same hospital in Brooklyn, NY. Marilyn was a music major at New York's High School
of Music & Art, going on to study Psychology and English at New York University.
Alan holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of North Carolina,
continuing study toward a Masters Degree at UCLA.

The only complaint for the audience members was that there wasnt enough time to hear
more from Maureen McGovern and Lari White.
Two brilliant performers who captivated
the audience.

Taking control of the evening from the stage was Michael A. Kerker. Kerker has been
Director of Musical Theatre for ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and
Publishers) since 1990. In addition to coordinating ASCAP's Musical Theatre Workshop
in New York (which is led by composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz), he works with
Disney Theatricals to produce the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop in Los
Angeles (also led by Stephen Schwartz). Together with Michael Feinstein, Kerker
produces a regular series of concerts at Carnegie Hall highlighting the catalogue of
both legendary and contemporary songwriters. Michael is also producing a regular
series of interview programs entitled “Broadway: Up Close and Personal” for the
Kennedy Center. Michael's on stage conversations with some of our nation's most
prominent songwriters have included evenings with Jerry Herman, Alan and Marilyn
Bergman, Charles Strouse, Sheldon Harnick, Marvin Hamlisch, and Stephen Schwartz.
Michael produces an annual songwriter's cabaret as part of the Chicago Humanities
Festival. (Source: Harlan Boll)

Liza Minnelli to Offer Chicago Concert in June

By Adam Hetrick
17 Mar 2010

Award-winning entertainer Liza Minnelli will perform a one-night-only concert June 6 at the historic Chicago Theatre.


Minnelli, who was most recently seen on Broadway in her Tony-winning show Liza's at the Palace, will be joined by a quartet of performers and musical director Billy Stritch for the 7:30 PM concert. Tickets go on sale March 20.

An Oscar winner for her performance in the film "Cabaret," Minnelli has also earned Tony Awards for her performances in Flora, the Red Menace and The Act, as well as a special 1974 Tony. 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." The singer is also a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress.

For tickets visit TheChicagoTheatre.


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 Friday! 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:
Thank you for a lovely and festive St. Patrick's Day show at the Iguana! You and Dana were visions in green. :)
Sally Swallow





Dear Richard and Dana,
Last week's show was terrific! I have been away for a few weeks and I really missed the wonderful friendly atmosphere, comfortable surroundings, and fabulously talented entertainers. Keep up the great work. You have both created a place to "make mention about," and I mention it whenever I can.
Marlene Sampson






Hi Richard! Thank you again for a wonderful and entertaining evening at The Iguana on Wednesday night! You and Dana are so terrific and truly a delight to watch and hear. What an interesting line-up of singers, as well! Lots of fun! I thoroughly enjoyed the variety and the positive energy in the room. Looking forward to seeing you Wednesday! Best Always, Lisa Raze






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 (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!
This is a nice night out with the family!

For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_
RESERVATIONS A MUST!!!!!!!!
212-765-5454.
No one admitted before
7:30.


















March 24th, Jackie Draper Marquee Five, and Diana Templeton returns!


March 31st: Frank Basile (seen here with Celeste Holm) , Deb Berman, Annie Dienerman, Stearns Matthews, Allegra Thieman ...


April 7th: Esther Beckman Group, Sina Lewis, Cindy Marchionda, RJ Shaw, Susan Winter


April 14th: Naomi Miller, Karen Oberlinjoins us!George Stella returns!

April 21st: Anaiza, Henry Dee, Rita Ellis Hammer, Jim Speake, Susan Eichhorn Young

April 28th: Kecia Craig and Frank Stern!

May 5th: Anton Van Der Merwe

May 19th: Adrienne Haan


May 26th: Michelle Collier

June 2nd: D'Yan Forest and Tod Hall





June 16th: 2010 Julie Reyburn


May 19th: Michelle Collier, Barbara Gurskey
TILL NEXT MONTH...HERE'S TO A MUSICAL SPRING!