Saturday, March 22, 2014

Carole Demas: Let's start at the very beginning...Part ONE

"Tomorrow Belongs to Me"

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I'm thrilled to announce an event that is taking place two weeks from tonight. 

Most people who know me think of me as someone who works to make his voice heard.
Actually, most of my energy is spent on making the voices of others heard.
Say the word 'cabaret' and many things pop to mind. Pre-war Germany, Joel Grey, Liza Minnelli. To seperate the art form from the movie is a challenge for some. 
Recently, I have been reminiscing about my early days in cabaret. Thanks to Neil Berg, I'm about to share a stage with a couple of people who were there at the very beginning.
My friendships back then were special. and I rejoice in what they are now doing in show business.I do so admire all of the entertainers that will be joining me on April 5th. I want to publicly thank them NOW for joining me.
Bryon Sommers with Ellen Bullinger
Last month, when impresario and producer Neil Berg contacted me to put together a show for a new supper club, Pier 701 Restaurant and Bar, I had no idea of the journey I was about to embark upon.Support your favorite theater, arts center, museum, gallery, symphony, dance company and of course cabaret!
When putting together a show like this, the first step is to find a great musical director and I brought in my dear friend Bryon Sommers.
 I have known Bryon more years than I can remember. As a composer/pianist and musical director he has had the pleasure to work with many cabaret and stage and television performers including  Eartha Kitt, Betty White, Bea Arthur, Tony Award winners, the original Annie, Andrea  McCardle and Liliane Montevecchi , star of Grand Hotel and Nine, as well as having played and coached many NYC cabaret personalities.

As a composer, Bryon has written Tusk, the Musical and Bring Back the Spirit, a musical review with
lyricist Norman Rea and was a contributing composer to David Zippel’s  “Better with A Band”, the Tony award winning lyricist for City of Angels.
He wrote many songs the most notable being Why Don’t We Run Away, recorded by Nancy Lamott on her first album, Beautiful Baby and since recorded by Cybill Shepherd and Tres Hanley-Millman, and is published by Williamson Music a division of Rodgers and Hammerstein Publishing.  His tune, Merry Xmas
Wishes with lyrics by Norman Rea, was recorded by the A Cappella Pops of Philadelphia and was also sung by them at the White House.  For Disney he wrote the opening and closing songs, I’ve Fallen In Love With You sung by Andrea McArdle for the Hall of Fame Awards produced by the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences which also produce the annual Emmy Awards. How's that for a great start? Over the next few days, I would like all of my readers to become familiar with the cast of our upcoming show.
Their talent, timing, and technique are all unique to each individual. Don't miss out -- Please Reserve Today! Let's let the world know that Richard Skipper Celebrates is the best showcase around.
Thousands clamoring to be there is my goal! Get Complete details HERE.
Spread the word and ask your friends to support the arts they love!
Thank you from the bottom of our collective hearts!

I am excited to be appearing with all of them, but today, I'm going to focus on the early career of Carole Demas. Over the next two weeks, you'll get to know more about all of them.
I would have to write a book to encapsulate her entire career.

She has had an amazing career, but things have not always been pleasant....yet, another book.
On Broadway she created the leading role of  “Sandy” in the hit musical Grease.
Forget Olivia Newton-John. Carole is the ORIGINAL Sandy. Most people in New York will also remember her from WPIX's The Magic Garden, which she hosted along with Paula Janis. It was a highly acclaimed and popular TV show which enjoyed a 12 year run on WPIX-TV, New York.

They are still loved and remembered by a generation of children and their families.

Friends since their student days in the Mixed Chorus at Midwood High School in Brooklyn, they have an impressive list of credentials, both as educators and entertainers.During their years as teachers in the New York City School System, Carole and Paula combined their teaching and performing talents.
They formed a quartet “The Festival Line Singers,” with their brothers, and sang nightly concerts as part of the New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park for several seasons.
 Carole continues her distinguished career as an actress and singer in theatre, television and film. She guest-starred on numerous television shows, including Kojak, Mannix, Barnaby Jones, Edge of Night and As The World Turns.

Off-Broadway she starred in The Fantasticks and other productions.
Original Grease star Carole Demas with the show's original Broadway producer Ken Waissman.

On PBS Carole was a featured guest on Great Performances’ Best of Broadway.She has been a principal performer in over 200 commercials for TV, on jingles and voice-overs for radio and television and has starred in her own cabaret act and in regional theatre productions across the country. Carole has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Vermont and Masters Studies in Early Childhood Education at New York University.

Carole and I sat down earlier this week to discuss the early makings of her career.
I hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane and glean some interesting information about Carole's early progress.
Considering that she has maintained a 55 year career, it is difficult to encapsulate it in a blog. It is obvious that God gave Carole a gift. She has always been grateful for that. She also believes that when one is given such a gift in their life, they should use it.
From the time she was a small child, it was clear that she had a voice that was pleasant on the ears and was TRUE.
Carole, like me, is the oldest of four children. In her case, all sang. Neither of her parents were professional performers. No one else in Carole's family took the career path that she did. All four of Carole's grandparents came from Europe.
Her father's parents were from Greece and her mother's parents were from Poland.
They all spoke their native language as kids at home. They all carved their way in America. Carole's mom became an RN and her father became a lawyer. Both of them had pretty natural voices and both of them loved music.
Her father sang in a quartet in a Glee club. Her mother ultimately sang in a women's Glee Club.

Several of Carole's family members sang in the church choir.
Her brother, Alex, was one of the greatest boy sopranos this country has ever had.
His early recordings are actually in the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Genetically, and through no effort of their own, they were given this musical gift.
Growing up, Carole was very small. She always looked about ten years younger than she was. She still does!
In high school, in the early fifties, the tom boy look was not in. Curves WERE in. She was 4'9". She looked as if she was eight years old. She went to a Midwood High School in Brooklyn. She believes that if it wasn't for her physical appearance, she probably would have pursued a professional career earlier than she did. She had no confidence at all. She just desired to look like a woman as those other girls did. That was a long time in coming.
Her only form of singing early on was in church. Her physicality and the fact that she wasn't growing" scared her so much that she could neither sleep or eat.
She was always sure that she wasn't going to be good enough.  The choir master at their church, who was a brilliant man, advised her parents that he didn't think she should start studying voice until she was about sixteen when her voice would have a chance to settle
in more. THAT was when it all began. Carole had a coloratura voice in which an F sharp was no challenge. Carole began taking the train from Flatbush into Manhattan to study with a man named Burton Cornwall who had an apartment in the West 50s.
That terrified Carole. It was very dark and it had heavy "everything".
There was a heavy piano and very thick rugs. It was dark and filled with memorabilia and piles and piles of music. He, however, was a very kind man and Carole began to learn something about her instrument. She studied voice throughout high school. After graduating high school, Carole went to the University of Vermont to become a writer. She was an English Major. Up to this point, she had never done anything professionally with her singing or even her acting ability. She was just beginning to understand that she had these gifts. She couldn't imagine releasing the fear enough to pursue being a professional. She started studying voice at the University of Vermont. It certainly didn't harm her. That was where she met her first mentor. His name was Rick Falls. He was the head of what theatre department existed at that time. This was 1957. The University of Vermont is completely different now. Her mentor who created the Champlain Shakespeare Festival felt that Carole had great promise and that she would have a great career in the theatre ahead of her. He tried to convince her that she should go for it. She started working in the Champlain Shakespeare Festival with a lot of student actors from Carnegie Tech.

To be continued...

More about Carole can be found at

A Testimonial from Richard Skipper's most recent event
 I had the pleasure of seeing Richard Skipper Celebrates at the Metropolitan Room on Sunday, Feb 16th.  His guest was Eileen Fulton, best known to the television viewing audience as Lisa Grimaldi from the CBS soap As The World Turns.  It was a worthwhile event, not only to see Eileen, but proceeds from the event went to Habitat for Humanity NYC (
After a short video explaining Habitat for Humanity’s mission, Richard took the stage and introduced the Guest of Honor.  Eileen looked as beautiful as the last time we saw her on our television sets.  She received a standing ovation as she walked down the center aisle to the stage.  She was ready to talk and we were ready to listen.
Richard’s 60 minutes Q and A had the feel of James Lipton’s Inside the Actor’s Studio.  He did what he does best … talk and ask interesting questions, ranging from her start in show business to the end of As The World Turns in 2010, and everything in between.  Rather than juicy gossip or disparaging stories, Richard celebrated Eileen's extensive body of work.

Injecting humor in the stories, the audience laughed along with Eileen as we learned things that most of us never knew.  She talked about the period of time when she was performing ATWT live on TV, then darting out the studio across town to co-star in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, followed by co-starring in the long-running, off-Broadway show The Fantastiks every evening.  Everyone was equally surprised when we discovered Colleen Zenk, aka Barbara Ryan of ATWT, was sitting in the audience, supporting and cheering her long-time friend.At the end of his questions, similarly to comic legend Carol Burnett, Richard instructed the crew to “bump up the lights” to take questions from the audience.  Once again, nobody asked anything mean-spirited; each person who asked a question respected the soap legend sitting just twenty feet away from us.  Eileen entertained us with some more funny stories, like an accidental fire she started during a cooking scene on a live episode of ATWT.  
Neal Hetherington (Habitat for Humanity), Colleen Zenk, Eileen Fulton, Richard Skipper. Photo of the day: AS THE WORLD still TURNS with EILEEN FULTON ...
After the last question was asked, following another standing ovation, Eileen made herself approachable, sitting down at one of the tables, shaking each person’s hand and thanking them for attending her show.
 (Richard Guestbook)

Let's start celebrating artists again rather than tearing them down.

Thank you ALL of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
 With grateful XOXOXs ,
Check out my site celebrating the FIRST Fifty years of  Hello, Dolly! 

I desire this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!
If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    

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

Dennis Allen asks Clifton Davis and Carole Demas for their votes in William F. Brown and Oscar Brand's How To Steal An Election (1968)

                                                               Keeping LIVE entertainment LIVE!
Carole and Paula.Richard Skipper Celebrates Carole Demas at Pier701 in Piermont NY on April 5th with all star cast.

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