Saturday, April 23, 2011

Leslie Orofino, Carol Channing: Larger Than Life, and The Blue Bird (1976)

Last night, we went to see Leslie Orofino at The Laurie Beechman theatre in her latest cabaret show. Yes, Leslie is a friend. Yes, I've known her a looonnngggg time. Yes, I've seen many of her shows. But I have to say here and now, this is her best work to date. There is a sultry-ness in her voice that reminded me of Baby Jane Dexter. Leslie was definitely in control of her game last night. Her arrangement of WHAT'S THE USE OF WONDERING? (one of my favorite songs) and SOMETHING WONDERFUL was one of the best renditions of these song I have ever heard. She was joined by the delightful Daryl Kojak on piano and Boots Maleson on bass. Together, they all made great music. Louis Pietig is director. The show covers the songs of things that make everyone's heart beat a little faster ... Romance, Latin Dancing, Five Star Hotels, Your First Child, Dear Friends ... all through the songs of Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Tony De Sare, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Lowe and many more (a perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day). PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE record this show! I desire it on my Ipod! In Leslie's audience last night was Francesca Blumenthal, Glen Charlow,Richard Holbrook, George Marcy,Julie Wilson, and Ken Urmston.
Leslie has been enchanting sold out audiences with her sultry voice from New York City's legendary Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room to Napa Valley's Silverado Country Club for the last 20 years.
A few of Leslie's other New York City nightclub engagements include the Waldorf Astoria, The Plaza Hotel , Opia, Danny's Skylight Room, and the Hideaway Room at Helen's, and The Laurie Beechman Theatre.

After seeing Leslie in Red Hot And Blues at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, International Cabaret Star, Julie Wilson exclaimed, "I had such a great time, I had to go back again...She's a winner! Leslie has a certain elegance mixed with sex appeal that sells each and every song.
She's also a great comedian."

Of a benefit at Fairfield University's Quick Center in which Leslie was the opening act for singer/songwriter Paul Williams, the organizer of the event, Gary Stromberg remarked, " Leslie is a magnificent performer with a heart to match her talent...unforgettable evening!"

Leslie's musical theatre credits range from lead roles in the St. Bart's Players in N.Y.C. as Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, Miss Hannigan in Annie, Sharon in Finian's Rainbow, Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, Meg Brockie in Brigadoon to the Westport Country Playhouse as Kay Goodman in Nite Club Confidential.

After a successful run of her show at the Algonquin's Oak Room Leslie released her CD, Moonlight Cocktails. Critic Dave Nathan from All Music Guide remarked," Leslie manages to impart such a high degree of eloquence to the songs she sings that one can picture her singing these tunes live and in person. She delivers each and every song with ease and aplomb. Solid cabaret and is highly recommended."

Leslie recently said: "I have always loved the music of the '30s and '40s mainly because my dad filled our home with his gorgeous tenor voice singing those songs and passed his love of them on to his first born of four daughters....me. I love performing and was so blessed to have appeared across the country and for a few years had the honor of having my darling dad as my very special guest singer at the Algonquin's Oak Room. "
Leslie is a 2007 Hanson Award Winner
Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs
Leslie returns SATURDAY, MAY 7, 4:00 pm

Affairs of the Heart
Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 W. 42nd St., NY, NY
Daryl Kojak - Piano / Boots Maleson - Bass
Reservations: 212.695.6909

"With voice robust and energy percolating, Leslie Orofino infects the Metropolitan Room with Manhattan Madness, and she does it with her usual panache, optimism, and personality. Orofino works that stage, clicking on to her audience with natural ease. She is having fun and it shows."
Elizabeth Ahlfors
Cabaret Scenes
September 23, 2007

"Leslie Orofino's new show at The Hideaway Room is great fun. Her theme is clear: it's Spring Fever, and Orofino is restless. Enough of these winter doldrums, she espouses. Spring marks the resurgence of plants, flowers and - for Orofino - desires. Following her opening with Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart and It Might as Well Be Spring, Orofino lets out the stops with a spirited Spring Cleaning, complete with feather duster and accompanying wiggles as she dusts off everything and everyone on stage."
Peter Leavy,
Cabaret Scenes
April 14, 2007


"Let's Do It, by Gershwin and DeSylva, was one of the songs Leslie Orofino offered in her recent show, titled Let's Misbehave, at Helen's Hideaway Room. The number, delivered with her rich vibrato and playfully sultry style, echoed the sentiments of her packed-housed audience, which didn't want the performance to end. With her warm voice, clarity and intelligence in interpreting and communicating a lyric, and sense of fun, Leslie filled the room with refreshing professionalism and style. Among highlights: her lush treatment of My Foolish Heart, a wise-cracking Daddy, her Banderas-style version of Let Yourself Go, and musical homages to two great ladies of song, Julie Wilson and Alberta Hunter. With Keith Ingham on piano, Boots Malleson on bass, and Steve Little (subbing one evening for Rex Benincasa) on drums, the evening is classic, classy cabaret. You, too, should "let yourself go" to wherever Leslie is performing next."
Peter Haas
Cabaret Scenes
May 21, 2006
Review by Dave Nathan, All Muisc Guide

Leslie Orofino has taken the cabaret act she dispatches at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room as the foundation for her first album. The play list is loaded with tunes in support of the album's theme, namely moonlight and all matters romantic or despairing associated with the light given off by that orb. Most of the tunes will be well-known to listeners. Others are not so familiar, including the rarely recorded "Blue Fool" and "Full Moon at Half Price." The latter is a classic torch song complete with the soulful sax of Aaron Heick moaning in the background. This track also features some very jazzy piano by Ross Patterson, who is also responsible for the arrangements. Orofino is a mature mezzo, who takes an occasional foray into the higher range. She has a noticeable vibrato which she uses to her advantage, especially on slow ballads which give added warmth to make her already-rich voice sound even fuller and more dynamic. The singer manages to impart such a high degree of eloquence to the songs she sings that one can picture how she comes across singing these tunes live and in person. There will likely be gestures which help to frame the mood she wants to impart to the audience with each song. Whether it be with a flamboyant, upbeat "Down With Love"; a hushed, heartfelt "My Foolish Heart"; or with a touch of the blues, as on "Is It Hot in Here," Orofino delivers all with ease and aplomb. Throughout the session, she is expertly backed by the similarly expressive and facile pianism of Ross Patterson with the now and then, but telling, appearance of Heick on tenor or flute. This album is solid cabaret and is recommended.

Moonlight Cocktails is now available on
CD Baby

To download Leslie's press kit, go here: http://www.leslieorofino.com/pdf/orofino_press_kit_2010_B.pdf
Please visit Leslie's website at www.LeslieOrofino.com

In February of last year, Dori Berenstein came to our home to interview me as part of a documentary on Carol Channing's life and career. That film opens today at The Tribeca Film Festival. I cannot wait and I am excited to share in the love that Dori and I have for Carol Channing with the rest of the world! If there ever was a secret recipe for crafting entertainment in its purest and truest form, Dori Berinstein most likely has it. The Tony-winning producer and Tribeca alum (ShowBusiness, TFF '05; Gotta Dance TFF '08) is back with another inspiring story—and she couldn't have chosen a more appropriate subject or captured one more affectionately. With every lyrical word, movements akin to the grace of choreography, and a rich and rarefied storyline that rivals that of any heroine of the Great White Way, Carol Channing's life could itself be a Broadway musical.

Footage from the archives—television appearances, song and dance numbers, and stage performances—show Carol at her best (not that there is a "worst"). Without batting a false eyelash, she effortlessly charms audience after audience with her hilarity, relentless energy, and unique beauty, reminding us that before Barbra or Marilyn, there was Carol. Perhaps the most brilliant thing about Berinstein's bubbly biopic is that you don't need to love Broadway or even theater itself to love or to be mesmerized by Carol. Theatrics aside, Larger Than Life proves that Carol Channing—as a person—is very much worth knowing about.

(Source: Ashley Havey and Caroline Tran)
From Carol Channing's one woman show "The First Eighty Years are the Hardest" - Sophie Tucker
Film Director Dori Berinstein's latest project, "Larger Than Life," looks at the career of Broadway star Carol Channing, who at 90 years old is still performing. It premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday.

"Carol is one of a kind, she is totally iconic, she is a legendary Broadway performer, but she is this spectacular vivacious person on stage and off," says Berinstein.

The film is Berinstein's third entry in the Tribeca Film Festival. She is also a Tony award winning producer of Broadway shows whose credits include "Legally Blonde," "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Crucible." She says she was hooked on theater at the age of five after seeing a production of Hello Dolly with Channing.

"I remember it vividly, and my mother tells me after I saw that I was just dancing around the house pretending to be in a parade, it really did change my life because I was just obsessed with theatre from that point on," recalls Berinstein.

In the film, Channing talks about just some of the many people she worked with and met over the years, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her children.

Berinstein says she recently showed Channing the film, and the performer gave it rave reviews.

"I wanted her to at the end, to tell me this is honest, this is real, this is my life, and that's what she told me," says Berinstein.

Berinstein hopes everyone will enjoy the film, and says Tribeca is the perfect place for it to make its debut to the public.

"In terms of how they take care of and nurture the film makers that are here and really support the work and give you so many opportunities to really showcase your film in a very, very special way," says Berinstein.

Berinstein adds the festival is an event you look forward to, because there is something there for everybody.
(Source: Tribeca Entry Examines Life And Times Of Channing
By: Roger Clark, NY1)

When I was a teenager, I was addicted to Rona Barrett's Hollywood. I read all the articles about George Cukor's THE BLUEBIRD with an all star cast including Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Jane Fonda, Cicily Tyson, among others. I was obsessed with this film. I could not wait to see this film. It disappeared as quickly as it came. I never saw it! I have dreamed of seeing this film for 35 years! It is being aired on the Fox movie channel on Monday night in a very rare showing. I cannot wait!

Don't forget The 26th annual Bistro Awards Tuesday night at The Gotham Comedy Club in NYC! (www.BistroAwards.com)
Please click on the banner ads on our Bistro Award site and support our advertisers.

Tomorrow's blog will feature a review of CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE premiering today at The Tribeca Film Festival, and YOU TELL ME. I will do a profile on the first two suggestions I receive today!

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

TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED WEEK!


Richard Skipper, Associate producer of the 26th annual Bistro Awards , Richard@RichardSkipper.com

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