Sunday, January 24, 2016

Jerry Maren, Sharon Tate, and Tom Toce..Oh My!

Jerry Maren (center)
We represent the Lolly pop Guild,
The Lolly pop Guild,
The Lolly pop Guild
And in the name of the Lolly pop Guild,
We wish to welcome you to Muchkinland.
We welcome you to Munchkinland, Tra la la la la la la
Wizard Of Oz - The Lollipop Guild 

Happy January 24th, 2016!
We survived "snowmageddon 2016"! While we all sit warm and safe in our homes during the blizzard, let's not forget all those poor people who had tickets for Broadway musicals that got cancelled yesterday. Thoughts and prayers!
 Tu B’Shvat starts tonight at sunset.  Traditionally, it’s the birthday of trees.  It’s the beginning of planting season in Israel.

Its meaning is metaphysical.  It’s all about potential we don’t see or feel in the moment, but is there, nonetheless.

In North America Tu B’Shvat occurs deep in the winter.  The trees look dead, particularly this year in New York City, when they are covered with snow.
Tu B’Shvat is here to remind us that although they look dead, there are very much alive. Deep below the snow and the hard ground, the sap knows that. The sap is starting to reawaken to prepare for Spring. Yet there is no outward manifestation.  
Many times I work at things that do not have immediate results or rapid gratification.  It’s seed-planting time, followed by nurturing and waiting.  Tu B’Shvat reminds us that during waiting time, something is happening. Tu B’Shvat celebrates that something yet unseen.
    Happy Tu B’Shvat!  Spring is just a few months away. Thank you, Josh Ellis, for this.

Today, I am celebrating the man who welcomed all of us to Oz 77 years ago!

Most people may not recognize the name Jerry Maren, but would definitely know his face and image, at least an image of many years ago. More than 77 years ago, Jerry Maren acted in his first movie – one of the most famous movies of all time, The Wizard of Oz. He went onto a spectacular career acting in radio, more movies, TV and commercials. But after all these years, it’s his time in Oz that makes Jerry Maren forever cherished among his legion of fans.The man who once represented the Lollipop Guild and welcomed Dorothy to Munchkinland made his mark with me from an early age. I don't know what it was about this film
Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images
when I was a small kid, but I lived and breathed for this film.
I watched it with eager anticipation year after year and feared each time that it might be the last. I never dreamed that it would be as accessible as it is today. Jerry Maren is the center Munchkin who hands a lollipop to Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) and welcomes her and us to Munchkinland and the marvelous events and citizens of of Oz.
 Gerald Marenghi (born January 24, 1920), known as Jerry Maren, is an American former actor and the only confirmed surviving Munchkin of the classic 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz.
He became the
last survivor of the original Munchkin cast (there are some other actors that appeared in the film that are living, including some child Munchkins) following the death of fellow Munchkin Ruth Duccini on January 16, 2014.Ruth died in January of 2014. She was 95.

He took dancing lessons when he was young and aspired to be an actor.
In November 1938, standing just three foot four, he met up with the Oz-bound group of little people in New York and went by bus to California.
There he was chosen to be the Munchkin who hands Dorothy a welcoming lollipop.
The Munchkins are the natives of the fictional Munchkin Country in the Oz books by American author L. Frank Baum.
They first appear in the classic children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).

They are described as only wearing shades of blue clothing, as blue is the Munchkins' favorite color,
and the predominating color that officially represents the eastern quadrant in the Land of Oz. They and the non-Munchkin Witch, the Good Witch of the North who accompanies them upon Dorothy Gale's first arrival to Oz, are described as being the same height as Dorothy, who is hinted to be no older than twelve-years-old.The Munchkins are the natives of the fictional Munchkin Country in the Oz books by American author L. Frank Baum. They first appear in the classic children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).
Maureen Constance photographs Jerry Maren, the "Lollipop Kid" from "The Wizard of Oz" with a group of golfers who participated in the Lollipop Kid Tournament at the Woodcrest Golf Course June 3, 1999. Frank Ordonez | The Post-Standard

Sharon Tate was born on this date

It is the constant references to color, which contrasts with Dorothy's bleak world of Kansas, which inspired EY Harburg and Harold Arlen to write Over the Rainbow for Judy Garland in the film adaptation in 1939.

If you are like me, instant images immediately come to mind as well as a myriad of emotions and memories.
Jerry placed his hands in wet cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood on September 18, 2013.
Maren and 95-year-old Ruth Duccini were the last two surviving munchkins from the 1939 film.   You may have also seen him as 'Mayor McCheese' or the 'Hamburglar' in McDonalds ads, or as 'Buster Brown' or 'Little Oscar' in Oscar Mayer ads.Today is also the birthdate of Sharon Tate.
The world of Sharon Tate and Judy Garland ALMOST collided in 1966 when filming began on Valley of the Dolls.

When the book came out, there was a lot of speculation that the lead character, Neely O'Hara, was based on Judy Garland.
When Judy was announced that she was going to be in the film, tongues began wagging in Hollywood. However, Judy was not going to portray Neely O'Hara, she was going to play Helen Lawson, rumored to be based on Ethel Merman.

I know the film has gotten short shrift as time has gone on.
However, I love this film. I have heard many reasons as to why Judy did not continue with the film. She was replaced with Susan Hayward who I LOVE in this film. I can't help thinking of what Judy would have been like in this film. We can only speculate. Jed Ryan has his own thoughts on Sharon: Ahhh... Sharon Tate! What a classy, beautiful presence she was on the screen. Like most people, I first saw her in "Valley of the Dolls". I watched that movie dozens of times. Most of that film was campy fun, but Tate's performance as a tragic showgirl seemed like it came from a different movie altogether. That final scene still makes me cry. About 10 years ago I acquired a bootleg VHS copy of the 1966 movie "Eye of the Devil", which was her film debut. At that time it had not been "officially" released on video. It was a mediocre supernatural thriller, but I had to see it because Sharon Tate was in it. She played a beautiful and mysterious witch. What happened to Sharon Tate was awful... but the one silver lining is that we have her memory on video, where her beauty stays eternal. (Check out my interview with Jed Ryan in my next blog)


Today is also the birthday of Tom Toce.

Tom Toce Bio

Tom Toce is a New York City-based songwriter, active in the musical theater and cabaret genres. A compilation of his work Hopelessly in Love: The Lyrics of Tom Toce, enjoyed an extended run at the fabled Metropolitan Room in New York, and featured the talents of cabaret stars Carole J. Bufford, Jack Donahue, and Jennifer Sheehan. Tom’s song “Shalom, Santa,” with music by Douglas J. Cohen, won the 2014 MAC Award for Best Comedy Song. Other MAC nominations include one for Best Recording in 2014 for the cast album of Hopelessly in Love and another Best Comedy Song in 2013 for “Bye-Bye, Aloha, Yo!,” with music by Jeff Lazarus. Tom produced and directed Marissa Mulder’s 2014 solo cabaret show Living Standards, which played to packed houses at the Metropolitan Room and received rave reviews.
- See more at: http://www.tomtocemusic.com/category/about/#sthash.5poU4MzK.dpuf

Tom and I are both on the board of American Popular Song Society.
Tom Toce is a New York City-based songwriter, active in the musical theater and cabaret genres.
A compilation of his work Hopelessly in Love: The Lyrics of Tom Toce, enjoyed an extended run at the fabled Metropolitan Room in New York, and featured the talents of cabaret stars Carole J. Bufford, Jack Donahue, and Jennifer Sheehan. Tom’s song “Shalom, Santa,” with music by Douglas J. Cohen, won the 2014 MAC Award for Best Comedy Song.
Other MAC nominations include one for Best Recording in 2014 for the cast album of Hopelessly in

Love and another Best Comedy Song in 2013 for Bye-Bye, Aloha, Yo!, with music by Jeff Lazarus. Tom produced and directed Marissa Mulder’s 2014 solo cabaret show Living Standards, which played to packed houses at the Metropolitan Room and received rave reviews.
I first of all asked him to weigh in today's famous birthdays. 
Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine - Photo: Archive Photos / Getty Images

It is also the birthday of Neil Diamond (good entertainer and songwriter, sometimes could be schlocky) and Ernest Borgnine. I love Ernest Borgnine. Would love to know more about the marriage to Merman! I've learned that it's hard to tell how well a song meant for performance is going to work until you've seen it live.
Just how much are you willing to pay for a premium ticket to Hamilton?
I have some connections, so I have seen Hamilton.
I go to the theater a lot, and I don't have to be on top of all new things, so I probably wouldn't pay a premium to see Hamilton. But I do think it's brilliant.

Do you remember an occasion when a stranger did something nice for you for no reason at all?
 Just the other day, a young lady passed forward a bag I put in the overhead bin several rows behind me in a flight.
It was one of the sweetest things anyone's ever done.

What’s one song that you’ve played or sung over the years to lift you up when you are a bid glum, disappointed with personal developments in your life?

My daughter got grazed by a truck a few years ago. I was with her. She broke her arm badly, but could have been killed. A few days after that, I was driving down the highway listening to a Rosemary Clooney CD. I had to pull over and finish weeping a little bit into Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep). I've counted on that song ever since.

Why do you do what you do? 
Lew Spence

When my old friend Lew Spence had a mild stroke several years ago, I wrote him a lyric to set (and then sing), because I thought a songwriter should write a song to recover from an illness.
I thought it was about him, but it was also about me. It went: "On my good days, I'm a has-been/On my bad a never-was/You may wonder why I bother anymore/Why I spend my time composing songs that no one wants to sing/The reason's existential/(Have you heard that song before?)  . . . Because I can/Because I must/To prove there's something in the air besides the dust/Tou say you want a crafted tune, well, I'm your man/Because I must/Because I can/Because I must/Because I can/Because I tried and couldn't paint like Paul Gaugin/Because I've done this sort of thing my whole life long/and there you are/Another song."

Anything else you would like me to include?
I'm the most optimistic person I've ever met.
Please visit Tom Toce at TomToceMusic.com
Sally Darling

My mini interviews today begins with Sally
Darling.
Sally returns to Don't Tell Mama on April 17th with a brand new show celebrating Noel Coward. The following is based on questions I proposed to Sally.


What makes Sally admire her subjects more?
Dedication. The seemingly effortless results were ALWAYS the product of endless hours of toil.

The one thing I would change about the profession today would be re-emphasize the actor's training and preparedness.
Take away the microphones and learn how to pitch your voice. In my last cabaret, one evening the mic suddenly gave out. I raised my vocal volume...and the mic came back on. I adjusted, and the mic gave out again. This went on for awhile. I wonder how many would know to do this?

Learn your craft and respect it!

My last appearance was at Don't Tell Mama with Matthew Martin Ward in Perspectives. The next event will be in April, again at Don't Tell Mama with Matthew Martin Ward, and it will be an all- Noël Coward program called "Totally Noël". I hope to give people a richer view of that extraordinary man, as well as performing a few of his famous works and a number less well known. I'm going back to my revue and cabaret roots, as I've created shows featuring his songs since the '70s. And after "Totally Noël", I'll present another of my themed shows, title as yet undecided! Sally's last appearance was at Don't Tell Mama with Matthew Martin Ward in "Perspectives".  The next event will be in April, again at Don't Tell Mama with Matthew Martin Ward, and it will be an all- Noël Coward program called Totally Noël.
I hope to give people a richer view of that extraordinary man, as well as performing a few of his famous works and a number less well known.
I'm going back to my revue and cabaret roots, as I've created shows featuring his songs since the '70s.  And after Totally Noël, I'll present another of my themed shows, title as yet undecided!  -Sally Darling

Work hard for what you want. All good things are upstream.

Each day, work on your mission and your mind set.

Pamela Lewis (aka Champagne Pam)
Entertainment News 

Bloomfield’s own music series, “Music at the Mansion” is celebrating its five year anniversary on Sunday, January 31 with a Victorian Tea at 1pm followed by an all-star line up of singers at 2:30pm all to be held at the beautiful Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center.
Click HERE to read MORE.

On February 6th The Dill Pickle Club Orchestra and Charles V. Baran will be heating things up at The Metropolitan Room when RECIPES FOR DISASTER! returns for an encore performance!  Dan Furman​ on the keys, Chris Clark​ on Bass, Amy Griffiths on Reeds, and Joe Cogen​ on Percussion. Saturday February 6th at 4pm.  Use PROMO code "Friend" and get $10.00 off the cover charge. For tix or call (212) 206-0440.  34 West 22nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue.


Pamela Lewis (aka Champagne Pam) has been singing professionally since 1995, when she joined the traveling cast of Joey and Mary’s Irish/Italian Comedy Wedding.
In 2000, Pamela became the lead singer for a 10-piece orchestra for hire, CODE BLEU, Long Island’s leading party and event band.
She firmly landed on the radar of New York Cabaret and nightclub critics during her 2010 debut show at the Metropolitan Room. Cabaret Scenes Magazine raved that, “Champagne Pam is undeniably bubbly . . . a solid, vibrant voice . . .”
Pam pays homage to fellow Islander Billy Joel with her critically acclaimed show New York State of Mind.
Pamela considers his songs to be the soundtrack of her life…

After performing sold-out shows throughout 2015, Pamela again brings her unique interpretation of icon Billy Joel’s songbook for one FINAL performance at The Metropolitan Room on Saturday, February 6th at 7 pm. “she was always organic, smooth, compelling, and vocally on target.
Often it seemed as if we were hearing the songs for the first time. . . If you care at all about the art of cabaret and its ability to illuminate a life we beg you not to miss it”–Bistro Awards

Here's a YouTube link of the classic Nat King Cole songs The Lonely One/Nature Boy as performed by Jerry Costanzo.

Linda Purl
Metropolitan Room Presents  LINDA PURL
UP JUMPED SPRING!
….Celebrating Life’s Unexpected Turns
With Musical Director Tedd Firth

 March 22, 2016  7:30 pm
34 West 22nd

(doors open at 6:15)

 Reservations 212-206-0433

www.metropolitanroom.com
“Purl cuts loose with all the authority of a seasoned jazz vocalist…she is mesmerizing."
London Times

“Riveting…a gifted song stylist. “
LA Times

 “She is merely marvelous.”  Rex Reed


Thank to ALL that are mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give! 

Make 2016 the year of YES!

With grateful XOXOXs ,
 



 

Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly!

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!


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

As someone who knows DOLLY intimately (seven different productions with 6 different Dollys) , I look forward to seeing Bette in the role. She's a great comedienne, a fabulous singer and has a ton of warmth onstage. However, I fear that they won't use Gower's original staging (which is what helped make it the blockbuster it originally was) but IMHO, they will be REQUIRED to keep 4 things: a passarelle (circular runway), a white dress for the bows, a stairway, and a lady in a red dress making an entrance at the top of that staircase. They are iconic.
-Stephen DeGelder

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
Please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook


Jeanne Moreau

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
 
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY

Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

Diane J. Findley
Sarah Rice, Broadway's original Johanna of Sweeney Todd, will sing a Valentine's Day concert of songs from the operetta, classical and musical theatre repertoire, with Paul Jackel, in upstate New York, Feb. 14. - See more at: http://www.playbill.com/news/article/kiss-me-sweeney-todds-sarah-rice-sings-of-love-with-paul-jackel-feb.-14-111546#sthash.bYCP2Q2p.dpuf





February 13th, Peter Filichia in conversation with Richard Skipper at American Popular Song Society 

with Musical Director Michael Lavine
Diane J. Findley and an all star cast
join  Peter Filichia and Richard Skipper
to celebrate the 1963/64 Broadway Season
Talk/Performance/Book Signing




Call Richard Skipper Celebrates at 845-365-0720 if you need more details.
Many surprises are in store. 
Please contact me if any questions.
Please LIKE Richard Skipper Celebrates on Facebook
Admission is Free for Members/$15.00 for Non-Members .

Doors open at 12:30 for those who want to buy sheet music Also members can take tables and sell their stuff. 2:30 -1:30 "Flea Market" 1:30 seating - showtime: 1:45 - 3:30.










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