Sunday, April 15, 2012

Randie Levine-Miller!

Tough times never last. Tough people do.
Rev. Robert Schuller

Happy Sunday, April 15th!
Today, I am celebrating a true friend in this business as she brings a show to Feinsteins two weeks from tonight that she has been perfecting at The Friar's Club for the past 10 years! Now, it is for all to enjoy! Today, I am celebrating Randie Levine-Miller!

Many years ago, Randie publicized Rev. Robert Schuller's best selling book, of Crystal Cathedral fame, in her PR business. The thing that stayed with her was when she was given the title, Tough times Never Last; Tough People Do. This was a year before the book came out. Randie promised him that she would get this book on the best seller's list...and she did. That also became Randie's credo in life. 
Another credo that Randie has adopted for her own came from another client. It was a woman who had gone to school with Nancy Regan and a member of the DAR. Randie says she lives by this all the time or she could not deal with some of the negativity that has been flung her way in this tough business. There is negativity that is thrown at so many of us. We just have to get past it. That credo is "Keep moving. Moving targets are hard to hit."
She has yet another credo that comes from her mother that refers to living in the past or even yesterday. Randie's mother has always told her, "Randie, what was, was. Now, deal with what is." Randi's mother is still a vivacious 96 years old. She is in the mold of my friend 91 years old, Carol Channing.

Carol Channing and Selena Gomez
That brings Randie to Carol Channing. When Randie was a young girl, she saw Carol do her nightclub act at The Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC. Randie never forgot that when Carol performed Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, she threw "diamonds" out into the audience. Randie caught one of those prizes and held on to it for years. Randie cannot believe that Carol has not received the Kennedy Center Honor. Carol HAS been inducted into the Theater  Hall of Fame. "She truly is one of the FEW icons." She is a survivor. She is a spiritually centered person. Also, "a very disciplined person throughout her lifetime". When Randie was in her music classes, when she got up, everyone would ask her to do her impressions. Of course, Carol would be one of those impressions. She was doing that constantly. Especially early in the morning! Our "national anthem, especially for those in the theatre is "Heellloooo, Carol..." "We LOVE you, Carol! You so richly deserve this award."  Randie is in her corner. She loves her.

Sondra Lee with Tiger Lily Bear
Randie had a life changing experience that so many of the people in the arts beyond a certain age that I've interviewed share. That is seeing Mary Martin in Peter Pan. Sondra Lee, Tiger Lily, is a dear friend of mine. Randie recently had the pleasure of sitting next to Sondra at David Kaufman and Ken Geist's wedding celebration.
Randie also had a connection with the show. Randi's uncle, Herb Saturn was Mark Charlap's counselor at Camp Onibar. Herb named him "Moose" which stuck. Moose Charlap composed some of the songs for Peter Pan. Then there's the theme of Peter Pan...Who wants to Grow up? "Not me, Not I"

When Randie was a little girl, her parents gave her acting, dancing and singing lessons. She was the only kid from Mosholu Parkway in the Bronx with a British accent at age 12. They sent Randie to the American Theatre Wing to meet Helen Menken, one of Humphrey Bogart's wives. She was running the American Theatre Wing and Randie went there for speech and elocution lessons. The following year, armed with a thick British accent because she was like a sponge soaking up everything,  Randie's parents sent her to The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. June Burgess taught there and was considered one of the best singing teachers around. She taught privately at The Ansonia Hotel. She taught Randie how to perserve the vocal chords. Before she began every lesson, she would hide her vodka inside the baby grand. June began every lesson with a "hidden schnaps." 
Randie even took tap dancing lessons  with Penny and Gary Marshall's mother, Marjorie on the Grand Concourse.
Bernadette Peters
Randie's mother took her to "Startime". Her singing lessons were at 3PM, at 4PM Bernadette Lazzara, better known as Bernadette Peters, would share a class in what is now The Ed Sullivan Theatre. Several agents from the fordible William Morris Agency were friends with Randie's parents at the Dellwood Country Club. The late great Harry Kalcheim wanted to groom Randie and thought that if she were professionally nurtured, she could really make it on Broadway. By the way, Harry was the Broadway impresario that signed Elvis Presley. Unfortunately, Randie suffered from tremendous stage fright. 

It is still something she suffers from but has a little bit more control over it. A few years ago, Randie was at a Friars Foundation dinner honoring Tony Orlando. Songwriter Toni Wine, who is also musical director for Tony Orlando and who wrote A Groovy Kind of Love, Candida, and many other hits, had gone to the High School of Music and Art, now LaGuardia,  with Randie,  said to Randie "We ALL thought you were going to be the biggest Broadway star!" Frankie Avalon, a childhood fave of Randie's, was there and Toni introduced Frankie to Randie by saying, "Randie is quite a talent. We all thought she was going to be a star."

Randie also misses, as do I, the glamor days when people actually dressed up to go to the theatre. 

The most glamorous nights, other than the opening nights, were the  Sunday night Actors' Fund Benefit. Everybody would dress to the nines. Randie remembers her parents taking her to see Gypsy with Ethel Merman. Randie was a kid and remembers the risque-ness of it with the strippers! This was at the Broadway theatre, where Sister Act currently is, and she remembers it as one of her most exciting nights in the theatre. Seeing Tammy Grimes in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. The night she attended Molly Brown, it was also a Sunday Night Actors' Fund Benefit. She remembers meeting William Shatner and Anthony Quinn that evening. When she asked Anthony Quinn for an autograph, he responded by saying, "Go away you rotten kid." Years later as a hot sexy young woman, when they became fellow Friars, Quinn assured Randie that he would never reject her again.

With Dominic Chianese and  Ervin Drake
Randie has booked so many entertainers over the years, first at The Friars, and now she is embarking on a new chapter with her association with Feinsteins. I asked who the "holy grail" is for Randie, that entertainer that she has not booked but would love to. Polly Bergen is someone that Randie adores. Donna Murphy, Randie considers the greatest. Raul Esparza and Liev Schreiber, Randie considers to be two of the finest actors working in the business today. Of course, Raul sings. Randie finds that more and more of today's generation of performers don't carry "attitude" for the most part. There is a humility and there is an accessibility about them.
Edith and Ervin Drake, Ann Hampton Callaway, Randie, Mark Nadler, KT Sullivan

Randie has found that being respectful is the key to making relationships lasting and resourceful in this business. Being kind and caring also plays into this. Also facilitating ways for these entertainers to get to know each other. Randie tries to create a party atmosphere wherever she goes and a sense of camaraderie. Randie has started a series of performer round tables at Sardi's. I've already attended one and will be attending another this Tuesday. I, for one, wish that I could be at all of them! 
She very often invites people that have appeared in her shows. Some know each other. A lot of networking has happened as a direct result.

Marty Richards, Randie, Marvin Hamlisch
As most of my readers know, Arts in education is my platform. I asked Randie for her thoughts on Arts in Education. Randie went to the High School of Music and Art.She feels that she is one of the "privileged people" having gone there in its heyday. There needs to be more federal funding as well as funding on a state level to support our arts programs. These young kids so richly deserve it. The acting schools should also give kids who cannot afford to  "pay retail" for their lessons to get more of a break in the private sector so they can flourish.

The advice that Randie would give to kids interested in pursuing a career in the arts is to try and come up through the ranks "behind the scenes." Try to come in as an apprentice. Get involved in a summer theater. Take some classes. Get an "in" with some of the producing offices or some of the PR firms here in NYC. In today's market and if you have the talent, you better hit a home run every time. There is so much competition out there now. It's a very difficult life. There are people that Randie knows who are very, very happy being "journeymen" actors. They work all the time. "Stardom" alludes them. The unfairness of becoming an instant celebrity via reality TV verses these extraordinary talents. 
Randi Levine-Miller, Ted Miller
photo by Rob Rich © 2008 robwayne1@aol.com 516-676-3939
The young kids that are starting out today, if they know and have been told that they are exceptional talents, they SHOULD go for it. If they do not fall into that category, they should take a look at the fact that they love the arts, and maybe think about going behind the scenes. Of course you also have to be brilliant to be a choreographer or a director. It still is a little different from being on the stage. It HAS to be your life. Randie doesn't think in those instances that you can't do anything else. You have to be totally driven. You sometimes don't even have time for a personal life to make it today.

With Bill Boggs and Susan Lucci
I asked Randie how she chooses her material. It has to have heart. "All you really need is heart..." It has to hit Randie in an emotional level. She has to relate to it. It has to have passion. Everything about Randie is passion. Passion and enthusiasm.

You can see all of those elements come together on Sunday, April 29th, at Feinsteins with the continuation of a theme that has been done for years at The Friars as well as the Actors Temples benefits she has produced over the past few years featuring the best of Broadway and cabaret. (The next  star studded Actors Temple benefit is scheduled on Sunday, November 18th). Randie has produced Divo and Diva nights. 
Alice Levine, Trudi Mann, Randie Levine-Miller, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Rena Strober, Beth Leavel, Christine Pedi, Ann Anello and Paul Chamlin
The 29th will celebrate the "Divos". 
This will be Randie's Feinsteins debut with "A Swell Party!" It will be a party. The wonderful thing is unlike a bar mitzvah or  a wedding, you don't have to bring any gifts! All you have to do is come with a smile and be ready to leave Feinsteins with "a spring to your walk, a smile on your face, and a song in your heart." It truly is a great deal. Randie has booked five of the greatest talents around. They each are brilliant. Everyone of them is different from each other. That's what makes Randie's shows very unique.

Randy Levine-Miller and Mike Renzi
One of the best nights of Randie's life centered around one of the first things she ever produced. This was a night that she produced for Marty Richards at The Friars.
She had her old friend, her music camp counselor, Marvin Hamlisch act as master of ceremonies. It was like "Hey, let's put on a show."  It was a total collaboration between Randi and Marvin and he made her feel as if they were back at Camp Geneva. Marty Richards said "What Randie has done for me is better than winning the Academy Award!"

People not being who they appear to be have been the result of some of the lowest lows that Randie has experienced in this business. This brings us to yet another credo, "Expectation is the death of serenity." That is a direct quote from Dr. Joy Browne. We all have our own expectations and our own "values". Randie is a very nurturing, very kind person. Every once in a while that nurturing leads to being stabbed in the back. Jealousy is prevalent in this business. You just have to "pick yourself us, dust yourself off, and start all over again." You just end up reinventing yourself.

I asked Randie what one change she would like to see in today's business. Randie is reminded of the song, "Let's get back To the Waltz". It might be from The Girl Who Came to Supper. Randie would certainly like to see lower ticket prices. She would like to see theatre more affordable. For people coming in from out of town to have "package" prices so that they don't have to take out a second mortgage on their homes. Going to the theatre today is almost prohibitive. Randie would like to go back to musicals that have "beginnings, middles, ends". Get rid of the esoteric. Bring back the Gypsys and the Funny Girls.

Divo Night at The Friars
I asked Randie if she considers what she wears on stage as "clothing" or "costuming". "Whatever makes you feel beautiful" 

Is Randie happy at this point in her career? She has just shifted gears. Her INTENTION is to go back and do what she started out to do in the first place. She is putting together an act that she hopes to debut in the fall. When she was a young girl, she had the William Morris Agency behind her. Unfortunately, she had horrific stage fright. Doing over 85 events over the years, Randie has been able to push through that stage fright. Hopefully, Randie will be able to now OWN that stage and "go for it"! 

People that are unhappy and aren't well makes Randie unhappy. The fact that we don't have peace in the world makes Randie unhappy. Religion has become a negative. Once again, Randie brings up Carol Channing. She was raised a Christian Scientist. To be spiritually centered, you can get through anything. Seeing vital people losing their ability to remain vital in later years makes Randie sad. Randie mentions her mother. Randie also just appeared at The Actors Home in Englewood (I was there yesterday to see Gordon Connell). To see these people who were not just journeymen performers who peaked in our industry and then ebbed and eventually tanked away saddens Randis. To Randie, that is beyond sad. The thing is that we have to embrace life and to hold on to every second. She feels like Jerry Herman singing "The best of times is now..." This is all we have. 

The biggest change that Randie has seen in this business since she first began is all this "reality" stuff. It is overwhelming. These competitions are pretty awful in Randie's mind. 

with Karen Oberlin and Tony Robers
Another big change is that there are fewer media outlets than there were when Randie started over 30 years ago. She had a business where she would GUARANTEE her clients that she could get them a certain amount of radio and television coverage in each market. She guaranteed it or they didn't have to pay her. She could not do something like that today. The media is increasingly a tougher nut to crack. They are now all deluged and bombarded by so many people. You can no longer saturate a market with so many interviews and plugs as you could years ago. It doesn't work that way anymore. When Randie does an event, such as the recent one she did for The Actors Temple, she knows now it is the luck of the draw. She has a huge e-blast list. She cannot count on anyone else in terms of promoting these events. 
Honestly, we have so many choices these days in terms of what we decide to see. You may not desire to go out every night of the week. Again, it is also expensive. That's why, when Randie produces an event, she knows in her heart of hearts, she has booked the best entertainers. They are all going to be audience "pleasers". She doesn't like performers that engage in what she calls "musical masturbation." Those that are more interested in pleasing themselves than the audience. I call it a "masturbatory exercise in futility." Then, there are those performers who sing off-keeyyy! 
A genie pops out of a lamp and grants Randie three wishes. Her wishes is that she finally gets to play Mama Rose, a role that she has been preparing for since three years old. When she runs into people from "yesteryear", they inevitably ask Randie if she is still singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses."  Her response is, "Yes! I'm still singing it!!" The only difference is that Marvin Hamlisch is no longer accompanying her at Camp Geneva. 
Randis's second wish is that she could go back and transform her life in such a way that she doesn't make the same "mistakes." 

Her third wish would be that she be more embracing and more confident.

I asked Randie what her favorite song is. She could only name one. Everything's Coming Up Roses!

The last stage show Randie saw was BEST MAN on Thursday night. We saw it together. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Randie and The Showstoppers!
I asked Randie what she does to prepare for a performance. She really thinks it through. Everything is pacing, pacing, pacing. Randie freely admits that she has ADD. She hopes that if she likes something, others will like it as well. She doesn't believe in shows being ballad heavy. She believes in putting together a show of great audience pleasers. 
Something they can either relate to or they know. 

Again, my question from Marilynn Wick of Costume World, "
You do an iconic role. Do you think you should on to an iconic costume piece as a memento OR donate it to a museum for others to enjoy?
Randie says, "Of course, you donate!" 

Randie says finally, as a baby boomer, she's LIVING! Now, she's really living.

The best compliment that Randie receives in this business is that she produces the BEST of these kinds of events because of the caliber of talent she is able to book. Barbara and Scott Siegel had the following to say about Randie when they came to see one of her Diva nights, that she was a revelation, true show business, and that she performs with verve and sass. 

Please join me on April 29th as we celebrate Randie Levine-Miller and her Divos in person at Feinsteins!





Myles Savage and his wife Karin
FEINSTEIN’S AT LOEWS REGENCY
PRESENTS
RANDIE LEVINE-MILLER’S
SHOWSTOPPER DIVOS - A SWELL PARTY
A SPECIAL EVENT ON SUNDAY, APRIL 29
STARRING
STEPHEN BOGARDUS, JIM BROCHU, NICOLAS KING, MYLES SAVAGE AND KEVIN SPIRTAS

Jim Brochu
FEINSTEIN’S AT LOEWS REGENCY, the nightclub proclaimed “Best of New York” by New York Magazine and “an invaluable New York institution” by The New York Post will continue its Spring 2012 season with Randie Levine-Miller’s “SHOWSTOPPER DIVOS – A SWELL PARTY” on April 29 starring Tony Award nominated actor Stephen Bogardus, Drama Desk Award winner Jim Brochu, Bistro Award winner Nicolas King, star lead singer from The Platters Myles Savage, and acclaimed vocalist/actor Kevin Spirtas. With musical direction by Richard Danley and Mike Renzi, “SHOWSTOPPER DIVOS – A SWELL PARTY” presents an extraordinary night of entertainment with an all-inclusive dinner, show and after-party. The special event will be held at the Loews Regency Hotel (540 Park Avenue at 61st Street).
STEPHEN BOGARDUS
RANDIE LEVINE-MILLER has produced, hosted and/or performed in over 80 star-studded events featuring celebrities from legendary composers Charles Strouse, Marvin Hamlisch and Ervin Drake, Tony and Oscar winning producer, Marty Richards to award winning entertainers Tovah Feldshuh, Jim Dale, Len Cariou, Tony Roberts and Lee Roy Reams. Her Showstopper Divos and Divas, spotlighting the crème de la crème of Broadway and cabaret, always draw a sell-out crowd and is consistently a fun-filled party atmosphere. Randie’s shows at the prestigious Friars Club earned her the reputation as a modern day "Hostess with the mostess"! As Director of Special Events for the Drama Desk and Drama Desk Awards, this is her 16th year producing the Drama Desk Nominations and Breakfast, to be held at Feinstein's at Loews Regency for the first time, with Donna Murphy and Brian d’Arcy James on Friday, April 27.
STEPHEN BOGARDUS is a Tony nominated theater veteran. Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include White Christmas, Falsettos, Les Miz, Love! Valour! Compassion!, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland.
JIM BROCHU is a multiple-award winning actor/author and director. He authored and stars in Zero Hour for which he received every major theatrical award, including the coveted Drama Desk Award. He also wrote and directed the Off-Broadway Hit Musical, The Last Session, as well as The Big Voice -- God or Merman?, in which he co-starred with composer/partner Steve Schalchlin.
Nicolas King
NICOLAS KING is a cabaret wunderkind. At age 20, as an opening act for his mentor, Liza Minnelli, he's one of the fastest rising young musical performing talents in the U.S. He will open for her Ms. Minnelli in Las Vegas in May. As an actor, Nicolas is a veteran of three Broadway shows, Beauty & The Beast, A Thousand Clowns and Hollywood Arms. King was honored this season with a 2012 Bistro Award.
MYLES SAVAGE the star lead singer from The Platters (1990 Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame inductees) is proud to be part of their legacy. Myles is known as the International Ambassador of Romance! Broadway credits include The Wiz and Bubbling Brown Sugar.
Kevin Spirtas
KEVIN SPIRTAS, who starred for seven years as Dr. Craig Wesley on NBC's "Days of Our Lives", first appeared on Broadway in A Chorus Line. Immediately after co-starring in Hairspray in Las Vegas, Kevin was cast as Hugh Jackman's standby in The Boy From Oz! Currently touring the country, as well as the high seas, Kevin stars in his one-man show, "Night and Days".
FEINSTEIN’S AT LOEWS REGENCY will present Randie Levine-Miller’s “SHOWSTOPPER DIVOS – A SWELL PARTY” on Sunday, April 29 with dinner at 6:30 PM and the performance at 8:00 PM. The all-inclusive evening costs $125.00, which includes tax, gratuity and service charge. Festive attire is suggested. The club is located at 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street in New York City. For ticket reservations and club information, please call (212) 339-4095 or visit us online at Feinsteinsatloewsregency.com and TicketWeb.com.

Thank you, to Randi, for the gifts you have given and continue to give to the world.

Your devoted fan,


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Tomorrow's blog will be..Part Two of My Conversation with Stephen Crowley!



Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!







  Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!






  
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com                            

This Blog is dedicated to Al Koenig! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!!
 



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