Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The Last of the Bad Girls and CA Jr Philharmonic honors Charles Fox & Carol Channing
-Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States (1743-1826)
London, England-Princess Anne giving Diane Ladd her award-1993.
I AM going to talk about what I did last night. It was one of those magical New York nights. Again, I am reminded daily how fortunate those of us who live in New York are with all the opportunities to get out of our apartments, our comfort zones, our homes and take advantage of all the riches New York has to offer. Just say say yes. Last night, we were invited to a special reading of a new play subtitled "Welcome to the Sugar Chateau" THE LAST OF THE BAD GIRLS. Book by Diane Ladd & William Jack Sibley.
Diane Ladd is a MUST experience.
I have been a fan of hers since ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
To be in her presence is a gift. She has IT. That light. No pretense. A real broad and that is not sexist but a compliment to a woman who knows who she is. She shines brighter in person than I ever thought possible.
The evening began with her gushing over her cast and creative team that was genuine and not pretentious. She went on to talk of her upbringing in Biloxi, Mississippi and going, as a little girl to a theater very much like the one depicted in this show.
A celebration of LIVE theatre.
Diane Ladd puts a mirror to her heart as she shares her deeply profound insights into that world. The show opens with Cheray Donahue, played by Amanda Kaleigh, a silktese (aerialist)singing about BURLESQUECheray is the daughter of Vita Donahue played by Diane Ladd, the last of the bad girls (a burlesque queen) holding on the last vestiges of The sugar Chateau which we are about to find out owes A LOT of back taxes AND is now in the hands of Eddie Bertini, played by Mark Cambell, who is the "nephew" of a man who was lover to both Vita Donahue and Noreen St. Claire, Vita's co-star and best friend, played by Connie Stevens! (Yes, THAT Connie Stevens!)
Mark Campbell has just finished a mustachioed run as El Gallo in The Fantasticks at the Fireside Theatre. Prior to that, he spent a year and a half on the road covering all three dads in Mamma Mia. NEW YORK: From Gershwin to Berlin, Algonquin Theatre; Vincent, Wings Theatre; Villa Diodati, Theatre 315; Twelfth Night, Pulse; King Lear, Hudson Guild; and the Lingoland workshop, York. REGIONAL: The Beast in Beauty and the Beast, Harold Hill in The Music Man, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Ravenal in Showboat, and Phantom in Yeston’s Phantom.
"When you know WHO YOU ARE, you understand that all energy is from the creative force, that there is no seperation, only choices to be made."
Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God
That is what makes the Charles Karels,Diane Ladds, and Connie Stevens' of the world who they are and why they stand out and succeeed.
Everyone is born in the Light and Light takes the form of unique gifts.
Then we meet Myles Bingham, played with zest and vigor by my dear friend Charles Karel (our connection to the evening).
Charlie is the real deal; irreverent, focused, and profound; he will shift you in the blink of an eye.
Charles Karel has had an extremely varied career spanning virtually every facet of the entertainment industry, including opera, the legitimate stage (musical, comedy and drama), screen, television, radio and cabaret. In his operatic career, he has mastered 21 leading baritone roles and has performed at The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera and several major operatic venues throughout Europe and this country. On Broadway, he was featured in the original Hello Dolly with Carol Channing and Ginger Rogers, Milk and Honey with Robert Weede, Golden Rainbow with Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Dear World with Angela Lansbury and Zorba, in which he understudied the great Anthony Quinn. He has also starred and been featured in many major regional theater and Off-Broadway productions, including the title role in Frank Loesser’s brilliant musical, THE MOST HAPPY FELLA at the prestigious Sacramento Music Circus (California Music Theatre). This production, combined with several others throughout the country, totaled more than 150 performances of that role for Mr. Karel. Vincent and American Ma(u)l were his latest efforts Off-Broadway in New York City. On television, he has appeared with such names as Ed Sullivan, Ethel Merman, Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett, as well as in numerous soaps, radio and television commercials and voice-overs. THE KARELS, the cabaret act he does with his wife, Christine Kelley Karel, has been performed in New York City and throughout the country. Mr. Karel was also featured in the film version of The Music Man with Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. Phone: 212-757-8157 Cell 917-345-8156 Phone/Fax 212-459-0687 -- firstname.lastname@example.org
I also played Dolly Levi opposite Charlie as Horace Vandergelder!
In this glorious show, Diane Ladd inspires us to show up in our lives as our authentic selves. She knows who she is as Vita. She knows of her past, her present, and she knows what she needs to do for her survival.
Then we meet Maxine Bingham, the sister of Myles, and the richest woman in Biloxi. She has lived well and continues to do so. Noreen and Vita swallow their pride and go to Maxine for $64,000 to pay their back taxes so they can at least claim ownership of The Sugar Chateau.
The Last Of The Bad Girls is a delightful show that feels as though Vita is speaking directly to our hearts and our lives.
Maxine is written with Lanie Kazan in mind. However, due to the fact of an accident (Lanie's foot is in a cast), Maxine was played last night with the proper gusto by Chris Bennett.
Chris Bennett's newest CD, SAIL AWAY - THE TAHITI SESSIONS, is available for purchase or download at CD Baby or iTunes. Produced by Chris Bennett and Eric Doney and recorded on the island of Tahiti.
The CD includes a live string ensemble.
Read the reviews of SAIL AWAY at:
Jazz Times Logo Pop Matters Logo
JAZZ TIMES' Christopher Loudon writes, "Throughout Sail Away, Bennett sounds as vibrant and pure as when she first ventured into the jazz arena, and her songwritinig skills remain sharply impressive." Sail Away was recorded in Tahiti at Studio 540 with Laurent Crosasso and a trio of local musicians - saxophonist Armando Castagnoli, bassist and pianist Felix Vilchez,and percussionist Ariel Cruz. With co-producer Eric Doney on piano and string arrangements, Bennett opens with a tender These Foolish Things, then seques into a hauntingly good A Day In The Life of a Fool, superbly embellished by Castagnoli's horn. Most intriguing of the album's six covers is her dove-soft, balladic interpretation of the typically fervent Perfidia." This is Chris's 11th and most powerful release to date, showcasing the artist at the peak of her powers.
Her collaboration with Moroder also produced the hit RED LIGHT for THE THREE DEGREES, BODY SHINE by MUNICH MACHINE, SUZI LANE's OOH LA LA, and the classic IN MY WILDEST DREAMS from Giorgio's E=MC2.
I have to mention Bellina Logan who played Yvette, Monique, and a protester and sang "A Maid's Life". What a great actress!
She is known for her roles as Nurse Kit in ER and Janice Mayfield in the sitcom Daddio.
Bellina is currently playing the recurring character of Fiona in Sons Of Anarchy.
A great night, Diane and Charlie! Thank you!!
Bellina is a graduate of The Juilliard School doing a lot of theater and just starting to get film and television roles when she met David Lynch through Laura Dern (Diane's daughter) who had already done 'Blue Velvet' with him. David was aware of Bellina's close friendship with Laura and when it came time to cast the role of Beany Thorne (Lula's best friend), he asked Laura to ask her if she would be interested in playing the part. Thank God, she jumped at the chance. She hadn't even read the script. She flew out to L.A from New York, read the script the night before shooting and was fascinated with the script. It was a real page turner and David had adapted it into a screen play from the book beautifully. They shot the scene in a smoky bar that was supposed to be anywhere but it actually was the San Fernando Valley.
On the other coast,
CA Jr Philharmonic honors Charles Fox & Carol Channing
From Tchaikovsky to "Hello, Dolly!"
The Jr. Philharmonic Orchestra was the dream and creation of one man, Dr. Ernst Katz, who dedicated his life to young people in music. His philosophy was to “Give Youth A Chance To Be Heard.” He never accepted government subsidy nor commercial sponsorship. He never charged an audition fee nor a membership charge to the more than 70,000 young musicians who auditioned or the more than 10,000 who became members. On December 13, 2001, the President of the United States bestowed on him the nation's highest honor for volunteerism at a White House ceremony. Ernst Katz' legacy continues with his nephew, Gary S. Greene, now conducting the Jr. Philharmonic.
Among the evening's highlights was Grammy and Emmy winning and iconic TV Theme Composer, Charles Fox, who conducted many of his hit compositions from Nine to Five
The Los Angeles Philharmonic has invited the Jr. Philharmonic to be a partner in a major initiative to cultivate the next generation of professional musicians. As part of this program, the LA Phil provides its world-class musicians, conductors and guest artists to mentor the musicians of the Jr. Phil at rehearsals, in master classes and in concerts.
Photos: Courtesy of the Jr. Philharmonic (Source Harlan Boll)
I'm lucky enough to cherish the gifts of last night, a friendship with Harlan Boll and Carol Channing, and the opportunity to share the stage with so many incredible people as I did last month in the Zani's Furry Friends benefit.
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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED SUMMER!
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com