Friday, May 13, 2011

Alison Arngrim, Ken Greves’ Arlen Project,Leslie Orofino, and Barbara Porteus!

Happy Friday the 13th! What a frustrating Friday, the 13th this has been. Blogger has been down all day! I was ready to start my blog at 6:30 this AM. At 12:43PM, I am just able to log on! My blog from yesterday is STILL missing. I hope it is not gone. I'm proud of that blog! This is from BLOGGER:
"What a frustrating day. We’re very sorry that you’ve been unable to publish to Blogger for the past 20.5 hours. We’re nearly back to normal — you can publish again, and in the coming hours posts and comments that were temporarily removed should be restored. Thank you for your patience while we fix this situation. We use Blogger for our own blogs, so we’ve also felt your pain.
Here’s what happened: during scheduled maintenance work Wednesday night, we experienced some data corruption that impacted Blogger’s behavior. Since then, bloggers and readers may have experienced a variety of anomalies including intermittent outages, disappearing posts, and arriving at unintended blogs or error pages. A small subset of Blogger users (we estimate 0.16%) may have encountered additional problems specific to their accounts. Yesterday we returned Blogger to a pre-maintenance state and placed the service in read-only mode while we worked on restoring all content: that’s why you haven’t been able to publish. We rolled back to a version of Blogger as of Wednesday May 11th, so your posts since then were temporarily removed. Those are the posts that we’re in the progress of restoring.

Again, we are very sorry for the impact to our authors and readers. We try hard to ensure Blogger is always available for you to share your thoughts and opinions with the world, and we’ll do our best to prevent this from happening again.

Posted by Eddie Kessler, Tech Lead/Manager, Blogger"

I want to start my blog today with a major shout out to Erik Piepenburg for his article in The New York Times, What Good Is Sitting Alone in Your Room? Cabaret Is a Steal
(http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/arts/music/cheap-cabaret-duplex-laurie-beechman-and-other-sites.html). It is VERY RARE to get coverage in the Times for Cabaret unless it is a review.
And, for the most part, it seems to be the SAME people being reviewed in the higher end rooms.
Please write to Erik (he is on FACEBOOK) and THANK HIM and encourage him to give more of our artists the coverage they deserve. Today, I'm going to write about four artists who have upcoming projects in cabaret.
The first is someone most of us (at least those of us of my generation grew up with. (Lee Meriwether & Alison Arngrim)
The one and only Nellie Oleson! Alison Arngrim! What a life she has led. Her father was the manager of Liberace. Her mother was the voice of SWEET POLLY in the Underdog Cartoons (as well as other voices from some well known cartoons) and of course, she was/is Nellie Olson on Little House On The Prairie!
I saw Alison when she was at The Laurie Beechman last summer.

I saw Alison again in late August when I followed her at The Vixen at The Pilgrim House. We went out for dinner (which late at night in Provincetown is Pizza!)after her show and I LOVED to hear up close her stories! And, boy, does she have stories to tell! I highly recommend CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE BITCH: HOW I SURVIVED NELLIE OLESON AND LEARN TO LOVE BEING HATED
The following is from Laura's Little Houses, A blog dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder and the shows based on her famous children's books, "If you are looking for a book that is funny, irreverent, and courageous, look no further than Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim. In a style you come to expect from the woman who portrayed Nellie Oleson for many seasons on Little House on the Prairie, Arngrim shares her story from her childhood, the years she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a relative, her years on Little House, and beyond. This is a woman who isn't shy about opening up, and you'll love her for it."
You can hear Alison tell these stories LIVE in NY next month! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
The Laurie Beecham Theatre
Presents
ALISON ARNGRIM
IN “CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE BITCH”

And you thought she was out spoken on that damn Little House on the Prairie? Join Alison Arngrim (formerly Nellie Oleson from the hit series Little House on the Prairie) as she gives audiences a reality check on “the facts of life” like no one else has ever done before, but sure as hell should have in CONFESSIONS OF A PRAIRIE BITCH. Ms Arngrim's recent release of her memoir's similarly titled, "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated," through Harper Collins became a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Seller. Harper Collins, proudly announce last week that the book (Listed as one of the best TV Books on Amazon) will be released in paperback on June 18th.
WHERE: Laurie Beechman Theatre - 407 West 42nd Street

WHEN: Friday, June 17th & Sat June 18th - 7:30 PM

TICKETS: $20 + $15 food or beverage minimum (212) 352-3101 or www.spincyclenyc.com

EDITORS: The Laurie Beechman Theatre is proud to offer audiences an amazing evening of entertainment with one of America's greatest pop culture icons-Ms Alison Arngrim. Fans worldwide remember Alison Arngrim as hateful Nellie Oleson, the acid-tongued hellcat for seven years on TV's Little House on the Prairie. Arngrim has gone on to successes in many arenas, but Nellie has remained a centerpiece of her public acclaim. Alison says “Even now strangers sometimes shy away from me until they realize that I'm not going to hurt them.”
At least, not when she's offstage. In Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, audiences can expect the unexpected and more than a little Nellie Oleson-style wickedness on this hilarious ride through the twisted heartland of America.Alison guest-starred on such television classics as The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, and lampooned her own status as “ex-child star” on the month-long parody, “Hollywood Survivor,” on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. She can also be seen in numerous independent films, including For the Love of May, with RuPaul, and The Last Place on Earth, co-starring Billy Dee Williams and Phyllis Diller. A talented stand-up comedian, Alison has created quite a name for herself on the professional comedy circuit, headlining such venues as The Comedy Store and Laugh Factory, as well as comedy clubs across the U.S. Since the launch of her memoirs, Alison has been on a whirlwind tour including Philadelphia, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Boston, New York, Denver, Knoxville, and even Walnut Grove, as well as a broad to Paris, London and Venice. Now, one year to the date, the bitch is back by popular demand she returns to NY.
After the passing of her “Little House” co-star Steve Tracy, who died of AIDS in 1986, Alison became a national AIDS Activist for organizations like APLA, providing AIDS education to doctors, nurses, prison inmates, service clubs, churches and schools. Alison stunned viewers of The Larry King Show in 2004 when she revealed her own history of childhood sexual abuse, becoming a advocate on legislature preventing child abuse by joining the advisory board of the National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT.org). "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated," - http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061962141/Confessions_of_a_Prairie_Bitch/index.aspx


WHAT FRIENDS & COLLEAGUES ARE SAYING

“Courage, moxie, chutzpah, cajones. Alison Arngrim has them all in spades. She also has extraordinary heart and a wicked sense of humor.
Thus explains why she will always be one of my dearest friends. My soul sister. I read her book in two days. Devoured it and I admire her more than ever. She bares her soul and manages to share her story with grace, dignity and her inimitable humor. Simply put, I lived this book and I love her. ”
Melissa Gilbert/New York Times Best Selling Authour, wife, mother, actor and advocate.



“I first met Alison when she was a just a little girl. She has become a fine actress, a true comedienne and a respected woman. She has always been the kind of “Bitch” who tells it as it is. So, readers beware, you are in for an eye full of reality told with a remarkable sense of humor.” - Carol Channing/Best Selling Author, Actress and Comedienne

GO SEE ALISON WHEN SHE COMES TO NY! TELL HER I SENT YOU!

(Alison Arngrim & Daisy Eagan)
And just this past week, It was an all star rotating line-up at the CAP Theatre ("Complete Actors Place") in Sherman Oaks from Sunday, May 8th - Tuesday May 10th as noted screen, TV and stage personalities tackled various theatrical renditions, made famous by Eve Ensler, from what has become the most effective exercise in reclaiming feminine power —“The Vagina Monologues.
(Barbara Van Orden & Alison Arngrim)
Among the illustrious cast were introductions by Barbara Van Orden, and readings by Daisy Eagan (“Asked The Following Question”), Marcia Wallace (“The Vagina Workshop”), Susan Olsen (“Reclaiming C!@#”), Geri Jewell (“Hair”), Sally Kirkland (“The Flood”), Mother Love (“Because He Liked To Look At It”), Debra Wilson (“The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could”), Lee Meriwether and Adrienne Barbeau who shared scheduled performances reading “Myriam," Ilene Graff, Linda Purl and Michael Learned(Michael Learned). Michael Learned (born April 9, 1939) is an American actress known for her role as Olivia Walton on The Waltons.
The actresses rotated evenings with “I Was There In The Room,” as well as Kim Rhodes and Kent Kim delivering “My Vagina Was My Village” on different nights. A particularly noteworthy performance, was a recitation of “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vagina's Happy” by Alison Arngrim that would have made Meg Ryan (When Harry Met Sally) blush. Not to be left out, was the productions producer and talk radio personality, Sheena Metal, who tackled “My Angry Vagina.”(Susan Olsen & Debra Wilson)
Ms. Ensler's “The Vagina Monologues” is a rare combination of both contemporary and classic as well as awareness raising yet entertaining, with any cast. However, the outstanding menagerie of brilliant talents gathered by Ms. Metal for these special engagements was truly inspiring.
As is often the case, the performances benefited Eve Ensler's "V-DAY" organization and for these programs, the National Association to Protect Children (http://www.protect.org).
(SOURCE: Photo Credits: Bob Schoonover)


Yesterday, I wrote about ONE FOR MY BABY, the new Harold Arlen musical by Fred Barton and Scott Thompson. I got a lot of response to that blog because of the incredible music of Harold Arlen. It is obvious that we are ready for that musical! Today, I would like to continue talking about Harold Arlen because my friend Ken Greves also has his own Harold Arlen project in the works!Ken Greves is a passionate interpreter of the Great American Songbook and a specialist in the music of Harold Arlen.
“Arlen’s music resonates profoundly with my musical sensibilities,” says Ken. “Arlen considered himself a jazz composer and wanted to be a vocalist himself. He was unique in that he was unafraid to break out of the standard 32-bar form.”
Another important influence on Ken was the voice of Judy Garland.
“My fascination with Garland was her uncanny ability to musically shape a song while acting and telling a story. She demonstrated that a song has a beginning, middle and end.”
Ken grew up in Nassau County, on the south shore of Long Island, NY. Neither of his parents were musicians, but they noted early on their son’s fascination with music, theater, and dance.
I am thrilled to announce a new, grass-roots fundraising on-line engine - kickstarter.com - on which Ken is launching "The Harold Arlen Project". 'Kisckstarter.com' claims has a viewership of over one million sets of eyes each month.
I am very passionate about this project because of my life-long affinity with Arlen's music. The project aims to record almost a quarter of his output. As such, the life of the project will be over a series of years.
For the first volume in the project, Ken has set his target goal at a realistic level due to the way 'kickstarter.com' has been designed. He must raise his target goal within 90 days or none of the pledged donations will be received. I am affirming that Ken will exceed this goal by a long shot.
So I ask each and every potential angel to look into your own heart's passion and support this project as you would your own; as well as insuring that this fantastic new avenue for raising capital continues for all the artists, creators and entrepreneurs of the world.
The musicians on the project are: Wells Hanley, piano and music director; Peter Donovan, bass; Vito Lesczak, drums, Ken Greves, vocals and executive producer; and Gerry Geddes, associate producer and creative consultant. It is being recorded in NYC at The John Kilgore Sound & Recording Studio.
The composer of such classics as "Let's Fall in Love," "Stormy Weather," "One for My Baby (One More for the Road)" and others created some of the most beloved and enduring music of the 20th century.
The target street date for Volume 1 is projected for late Fall 2011.
For your generous and most appreciated donation, you will receive a signed CD of volume one of "Vintage & Rare: The Songs of Harold Arlen".
Please visit www.kickstarter.com and search for Harold Arlen or Ken Greves.
Here is the direct link: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/946005213/vintage-and-rare-the-songs-of-harold-arlen?ref=live
As a greatly appreciated courtesy, I ask all of you to pass this blog onto your social networks to support this worthy project as well as this fantastic new grass-roots fundraising channel.

Born Hyman Arluck, February 15, 1905 Buffalo, NY, (died April 23, 1986 New York, NY of Parkinson's disease); son of Samuel Arluck, a Jewish cantor and Celia (born Orlin); married Anya (died March 9, 1973); children: Samuel Arlen. Education: Studied piano with Arnold Cornelisson, Conductor of the Buffalo String Orchestral Society. All the best wishes to
Ken Greves President Jazz Cat Productions, Inc.
PLEASE VISIT Ken's BLOG at www.jazzcatblog.com


Barbara Porteus is opening a BRAND NEW SHOW NEXT WEEK!Barbara Porteus, rising cabaret star and musical theater veteran, is proud to be reunited with Musical Director and piano virtuoso Barry Levitt and award-winning Director Peter Napolitano for Barbara Porteus & Barry Levitt in I Wish It So playing at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 West 42nd Street, for two performances: Wednesday, May 18th and Wednesday, May 25, both at 7pm. This will be a showcase for both Barbara and Barry, with solos and duets that stem from a very universal theme: Wishes, Hopes and Dreams. From the title song by Marc Blitzstein from the cult Broadway musical JUNO to standards by Billy Barnes (who I also wrote about yesterday), Rodgers & Hart, Frank Loesser, Kander & Ebb, Martin & Blane, Sherman & Hague, etc. to contemporary material written by Ray Jessel and Levitt & Napolitano, join Barbara and Barry as they sing and play about all of our wishes and make them come true! $15 COVER/$15 MINIMUM ($5 discount for MAC and AEA members) Reservations: 212.695.6909Barbara Porteus's last club engagement was her acclaimed debut at Feinsteins at Loews Regency in March 2010, with a return engagement in July. Concentrating in recent years on her night club/cabaret appearances, Porteus has performed in productions of The Sound of Music with Marie Osmond, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying with Donald OConnor, The Wizard of Oz with Phyllis Diller, Peter Pan with BD Wong and David Ogden Stiers, The Music Man with Gary Sandy and Fiddler on the Roof with Jan Peerce.
She has opened for and toured with Eddy Arnold, Petula Clark, Sid Caesar and many others.
Regarding the recent release of her critically praised first CD, Barbara Porteus, Daryl Glenn on Nitelife Exchange.com writes Interesting and diverse song choices, fresh arrangements and a lovely voice that is right at home with each of the varied styles of music. Joe Regan Jr. of Cabaret Scenes Magazine writes that Barbara gives great depth to the meaning of the lyrics while mesmerizing you with her clear, bell-like sounds and Roy Sander of Bistro Awards.com states that Barbara Porteus commands the stage like a pro.


Musical Director Barry Levitt has been an active, forceful, award-winning presence within the New York musical community for over three decades. He was the music director and arranger for Catskills On Broadway and Swinging On A Star on Broadway as well as Langston in Harlem, Little Shop Of Horrors and Taking My Turn Off-Broadway. He has been Music Director, Pianist and Arranger for numerous night club and cabaret artists such as Ben Vereen, Bernadette Peters, Faith Prince, Eartha Kitt, Nell Carter, Margaret Whiting, Rosemary Clooney, Melba Moore, Julie Budd, Julie Wilson, Connie Francis, Sergio Franchi, Jack Jones, Billy Eckstein, Marilyn Michaels, Carol Woods, BJ Crosby, Chuck Cooper and Pia Zadora.


Director Peter Napolitano has received two MAC Awards (Song [Lyrics] and Open Mic [Producer]), and the BMI Bistro Award for Outstanding Direction for his cabaret work at venues such as Feinsteins at the Regency, The Oak Romm at The Algonquin Hotel, The Metropolitan Room, Dont Tell Mama and The Laurie Beechman Theater. His lyrics have been performed by theatre and cabaret artists such as Liz Callaway, Nancy Dussault, Tovah Feldshuh, Marni Nixon, Christiane Noll, Faith Prince and many more. He is a member of the Advanced Songwriting and Librettist Units of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop and Producing Consultant for the prestigious non-profit theatre Urban Stages. He also writes and performs spoken word essays, one of which was published in the New York Times Modern Love Column.




A few weeks ago, I saw Leslie Orofino's latest show. Actress/Singer, Leslie Orofino 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 New York City nightclub engagements include the Waldorf Astoria, The Plaza Hotel , The Laurie Beechman Theatre (where I saw Leslie's latest show), Opia, Danny's Skylight Room, and the Hideaway Room at Helen's.
In 2010 Leslie appeared at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City with her sow, Red Hot And Blues... the songs of vamps, tramps, heartbreakers, mantakers and the girl next door....songs of Alberta Hunter, Eartha Kitt, Carolyn Leigh, Peggy Lee, Edith Piaf, Sophie Tucker and many others.
I think it is Leslie's latest show is her best work to date. After seeing Leslie in AFFAIRS OF THE HEART at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, International Cabaret Star, Julie Wilson joined us for dinner. She exclaimed, "Leslie leaves you high on life and love...and she's so much fun!"

I agree!
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 first CD, Moonlight Cocktails in 2002. 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."

"...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."
Dave Nathan, All Music Guide

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. "
She is taking AFFAIRS OF THE HEART to New Hope, Pennsylvania on June 10th and Darian, Connecticut on June 25th! Day trip anyone?
Details www.Leslieorofino.com and on Facebook xox
I really do recommend this show! Much fun!!AFFAIRS OF THE HEART.....
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 and Hart,
Tony De Sare, Rodgers and Hammerstein,
Lerner and Loewe and many others.
A little rock, jazz, comedy, tender ballads
and just in time for the summer!

Review by Dave Nathan, All Music Guide for COCKTAILS AND MOONLIGHT

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."
(Leslie Orofino accompanied by Daryl Kojak on piano
and Boots Maleson on bass)
Friday, June 10 at 8:30 at Bob Egan's New Hope
6426 Lower York Rd. ( Rte 202 ) New Hope
Tickets on www.bobegansnewhope.com and 215-794-7716


Saturday, June 25 at 8:00 at Darien Arts Center
2 Renshaw Rd., Darien, Ct.
Tickets: www.arts.darien.org
203-655-5414


All you have to do today is bask in the LOVE and talent that surrounds you!
(Buy Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated at Amazon)

Tomorrow's blog will be YOU TELL ME...the first three suggestions I receive!

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, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

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