Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hal Holbrook, Kathleen Freeman, Patricia Routledge...and MORE

Hal Holbrook
Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.
Hal Holbrook

Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day!
February 17 is the 48th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 318 days remaining until the end of the year.
If you’re familiar with my work, you know I’m a huge believer in the Law of Attraction. - See more at:
If you’re familiar with my work, you know I’m a huge believer in the Law of Attraction. I believe that ALL of the artists in my blog today have exemplified that in their own lives.

Did you know it was Random Acts of Kindness Day?
Tweet or Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people right now.
I'd like to begin the day by saying a big Happy Birthday to fellow Aquarian, Hal Holbrook! I have ALWAYS been a fan.
I know that if Mr. Holbrook is in a project, be it stage, film, television, that we all can count on a quality production.
Hal Holbrook is an Emmy and Tony Award winning actor, best known for his portrayal of Mark Twain.  After serving 3 years in World War II, Holbrook resumed his college education where the Mark Twain characterization grew out of an honors project at Denison University in Ohio.  Holbrook’s first solo appearance as Mark Twain was at the Lock Haven State Teachers College in Pennsylvania in 1954.  By now he was pounding the pavements in New York searching for work as an actor and the Twain show was his desperate alternative to selling hats or running elevators to keep his family alive.

That same year, fortune struck by way of a job on a daytime radio and television soap opera, The Brighter Day.  At night Holbrook pursued the Twain character in a Greenwich Village night club while doing the soap daytime.  He developed his original two hours of material in the curve of a baby grand piano and learned timing.  Finally, Ed Sullivan saw him at the club and gave his Twain national television exposure.
Today is also the birthday of Kathleen Freeman, one of my favorite character actresses. She did it all; film, television, and stage actress. In a career that spanned more than fifty years, she portrayed acerbic maids, secretaries, teachers, busybodies, nurses, and battle-axe neighbors and relatives, almost invariably to comic effect.
Repeat after me - Tah, Tey, Tee, Toe, Too. -Kathleen Freeman as Phoebe Dinsmore in Singin' in the Rain

Patricia Routledge
It is also the birthday of the wonderful Patricia Routledge. Miss Ruddock in A Lady of Letters and Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet!) in Keeping Up Appearances.  (1990–95), for which she was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Light Entertainment Performance in 1992 and 1993. Her film appearances include To Sir, With Love (1967) and Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River (1968).
Daughter of Catherine and Isaac Routledge. Her father was a haberdasher, and, during WWII, the family lived weeks at a time in the basement of her father's shop.
She attended Birkenhead High School, where she sang in the choir and ran the Sunday School. She studied English at Liverpool University, and, after graduation, worked without pay at the Liverpool Playhouse. She was asked to join the company, and she later studied at Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol. She then moved to London, where she built an impressive stage career over the next several years, also appearing on Broadway 1966-1968. Patricia has worked in TV since the early 1950s, most recently in Keeping Up Appearances (1990). She also recorded an album, "Presenting Patricia Routledge", and worked in film and radio. She has never married or had children, has said that she will not retire, and lives in Kensington and Surrey when not working.

Josh Ellis posted this AM:There are certain injustices in the world that I find hard to accept.  Topping the list are Patricia Routledge not yet being named a “Dame” by Queen Elizabeth II, and Carol Channing not yet receiving a Kennedy Center Honor.  Two weeks ago, Carol turn 95, and today Ms. Routledge turns 87.  The Powers That Be better get moving!!! 
It is also the birthday of Alan Bates and Barry Humphries, Australian comedian, actor, and author; alter ego of Dame Edna Everage. I could not get an interview with Mr. Humphries, but I did get an interview with Michael Walters who does a dead-on interpretation of Mr. Humphries most beloved alter ego, Dame Edna! Michael is taking Dame Edna to my hometown of Conway, South Carolina next month at the theatre where I got my start, The Theatre of the Republic. I hope that all from my hometown will go and support a great artist and theatre. Please spread the word, possums, Michael Walters as Dame Edna is coming your way!

It’s been something like fifteen years since Michael first donned the wisteria-colored wig and rhinestone glasses and he is still performing his parody tribute to Dame Edna in cabarets and small theatres across the U.S.

with Joyce Randolph (The Honeymooners' original Trixie)
Here is our interview:
One upcoming show I’m excited about is the chance to host a show called The Final Illusion which has been an annual revue in Richard Skipper’s very own home town of Conway, South Carolina! I get to emcee the evening and watch a bunch of really fantastic young drag artists wow the audience. That’s happening on March 12 and 13 of this year. After that, there’s some action happening with a new Broadway adaptation of The Honeymooners which I can’t spill the beans about yet, But I play Jackie Gleason in the show alongside TONY Winner Michael Mcgrath as Ralph Kramden (both Gleason and Ralph exist in the show’s universe) and Hank Azaria as Norton.  Just wait until you hear this beautiful music and watch Michael and Hank work true magic with the show’s genius comedy scenes. 
Michael Walters as The Great One, Jackie Gleason
Look out for the show on Broadway sometime soon!

Tell us something about Michael Walters that might surprise us most.
Well, when I greet my audiences after the Dame Edna show people are usually surprised to find out that I’m not Australian like she is, and in fact I’m from a noted little town called Hope, Arkansas. Another fun fact related to my birth is that my Grandmother, a delivery nurse, brought me into this world. She also delivered the eldest son of her good friend Virginia Clinton Kelley. I like to think both of those ventures turned out pretty well.

What is the greatest thing about being Michael Walters?
A: I feel very lucky. I suppose the greatest thing about being me is that I get to do pretty much what I want to do. I have a fantastic and supportive partner and I make my living on stage. I think that’s all I ever really wanted. Well, that and a TONY. Baby steps.

Name what you admire the most about Barry Humphries and what you would like us to discuss if I
Barry Humphries
got the opportunity to interview him!

To me it’s obvious that Barry Humphries’ most admirable quality is his absolutely ingenious comedic mind. I’ve spent fifteen years studying his work and trying to really figure out what makes him tick. I’m probably nowhere close in that effort because he’s just one of those people who was blessed with a fascinating lens through which to view the world. He says everything you wish you were thinking. I admire his ability to manipulate an audience and make it seem like it was all their doing. Clearly his talent fills a void because he’s been on the stage for over 65 years with Dame Edna and people young and old still howl with laughter. It’s part comedy, part magic. Were you to interview him, you’d find him charming yet enigmatic. He delights in keeping an interviewer on their toes. If you were to interview Dame Edna, you’d quickly find that it was you who was being interviewed. She’s a meddler rivaled only by your friend Dolly Levi. She would know all about your family and your career. My sincere guess is that after 65 years of people asking “Is your hair really purple?” and “What makes you so funny?” she prefers to be the one asking the questions.

What can audiences expect with your show and your thoughts on song selections
My own tribute to Dame Edna is a small cabaret show. We make it feel big with live projections and glittering replica gowns. Of course you’ll hear the type of comedy you’ve come to love from Dame Edna, but in the second act (oh yes, there’s a second act) I have a lot of fun with my own spin on the character. My version was once Australia’s leading female vocalist who found she’d lost the will to sing following the kidnapping of her daughter Lois. I reveal that Lois has been found (her identity will shock you!) and that I can sing again. It’s a twist no one expects. I love to watch people’s eyes fly open when Dame Edna starts to sing Broadway classics in Baritone. I choose two kinds of songs for the show. The first are ones that you’d really want and perhaps expect to hear from a Broadway diva like Dame Edna. Ladies Who Lunch and Bacall’s One of the Boys are two examples. The other songs I select are a hilarious but somehow perfect juxtaposition to the character. Songs like Old Man River (a relic from her early days as head of Australia’s first All-female theatre troupe) give me a chance to flex my vocal muscles, and turn out to be very much in keeping with Dame Edna’s zany and unpredictable style. Do I throw gladdies at the end like the real Dame Edna does? How could I not!

Finish this sentence: I think it would be great if…
I think it would be great if our collective sense of humor was vibrant again. I think people miss out on a lot when they enforce phrases like “trigger warning” instead of observing the world around them with a sense of fun and appreciation. We’ll get back there some day. Everything in life is ebb and flow.

What is YOUR daily motivation?
Good question! For someone like me it changes from day to day. Sometimes I’m motivated by my rent. Other days I’m motivated by my constant love of performing and being in show business.
Carol Channing and Harlan Boll

Did you know it’s random acts of kindness today? Compliment three people right now.
It will surprise none of my friends to know that Random Acts of Kindness day had slipped past my radar. I’d like to compliment Harlan Boll. He manages a number of my favorite showbiz ladies with such care, and he’s so damned handsome!  The second compliment goes to Bruce Vilanch. Funny (duh) but also extremely perceptive to the ways of the world, which some would argue is the key to comedy. Proud to know him. If I have to pick just one more person (aside from you, Richard) I’ll go for is Jennifer Ashley Tepper. She’s doing great work documenting Broadway stories before they’re forgotten, not after. Richard, you and others do great and important work digging into Broadway’s Golden Era, but what if someone like Jennifer had been there to collect the stories as they were happening? We’d have even MORE memories to enjoy.

For more information on Michael Walters, please visit his Website.

Hilary Kole
My other mini interview is with Hilary Kole. Hilary Kole's new CD, The Judy Garland Project, includes stunningly fresh collection of performances of songs from the well-worn repertoire of Judy Garland, but she reveals and brings new life to the emotional core of each tune while revealing herself as a consummate interpreter. While never attempting to imitate Garland, Hilary tells Judy’s story — relaying the joy of falling in love, the hope that love will prevail, the heartbreak when love fails. And most importantly, the gathering of the will and desire to pick oneself up again to give it one more try. What a match. BOTH are two of my favorite singers.

How'd you meet the person you love?
I met him on the 2/3 stop on the 72nd street subway platform.  It was a Saturday in the summer and no one was in the city- kind of like a movie set. He walked down the stairs and started chatting me up. He was so smooth I didn't even know he was flirting with me until he asked me out.  I was going to buy my piano at Beethoven Pianos.  He asked me to coffee and I told him he better hurry up and take my number because we were at my stop.  We now have a seven month old daughter, so I am very glad we said yes! And, I found a beautiful baby grand that day as well!

Finish this sentence: If I had Trump's money...I wouldn't be running for president! Our changing climate is what keeps me up at night- especially since I now have a child.  I would try to educate people about the things we can do as consumers and as citizens- there is a ton of misinformation about it.  I would also have a fabulous wardrobe.

Could you tell me what your creative process is like?
It happens mostly when I am at the piano and there is quiet.  I look through music, or even just improvise on the piano....I never know where I am going to go or what I will come up with- but that is always the fun of it.  I do most of my arrangements that way, and those arrangements are part of my interpretation of that song.  The singing and the arranging for me all go together.

Finish this sentence: I always get annoyed when...people make assumptions or judgments when they don't know the whole story. Unfortunately that happens a lot.
Please visit Hilary Kole's website for more info.

In Entertainment News
For a change, an orchestra playing lively show tunes will not be in a pit, invisible to the audience. The musicians instead will be the main attraction on Saturday, Feb. 20, when the "Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Goodspeed Celebrate the Best of Broadway" at The Bushnell in Hartford.This is not the first time the 72-year-old HSO and the East Haddam-based musical theater have joined forces for a concert of show tunes. It is, however — according Goodspeed Resident Music Director Michael O'Flaherty, who's conducting Saturday's show — "the first one that's not an anniversary." Three years ago, for instance, there was a symphony event to honor 50 years of the Goodspeed.  (Click HERE for more Info)

Mark Nadler is playing the Cabaret at Germano’s in Baltimore’s Little Italy.  When he was there a half year ago, they had a BLAST and I see no reason why this won’t be even more fun!!!
Mark Nadler seen here with Julie Budd (who returns to NYC's Metropolitan Room on May 3rd with a new show)
GERMANO'S WELCOMES THE Extraordinary Mark Nadler
Saturday 2/27  6:00 pm
$20.00  Buy Tickets!
Mark Nadler is an internationally acclaimed singer, pianist, tap-dancer and comedian. His recent off-Broadway hit, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, has been honored with the 2013 Nightlife Award and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and two Broadway World Awards.
The show was presented at The Adelaide Cabaret Festival in Adelaide, Australia, where it was nominated for the prestigious Helpmann Award. Additionally, Mark Nadler's Broadway Hootenanny has become a staple of the Adelaide Festival, where Mark has performed an unprecedented six times.
Mr. Nadler has performed at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra and has been a soloist with the Baltimore Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Oregon Symphony, National Arts Centre Symphony in Ottawa and others. At Philadelphia's 14,000 seat Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Mark did a solo two-act evening with the New York Pops, as well as Three Singular Sensations with Marvin Hamlisch and Martin Short.
He starred in and co-wrote the off-Broadway Gershwin revue, American Rhapsody, which was nominated for a Drama Desk and two Lucille Lortel Awards and received the Manhattan Association of Cabarets (MAC) Award for Outstanding Musical Revue. Additionally, he received the MAC Award three years in a row for outstanding Musical Comedy Performer and additionally, Mark was given the MAC Award for his performance of five different interacting characters in his one man Opera in Honky-tonk, Red Light, co-written with Dawn Hampton.
This will be a a special night for cabaret afficionados!

Mark Nadler gets my vote for Mr. Show Business...An immensely talented latter day Al Jolson.
Stephen Holden, The New York Times

Thank you, to all of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

Laughter is much more important than applause. Applause is almost a duty. Laughter is a reward.
-Carol Channing

With grateful XOXOXs ,


Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Jerry Herman's Hello, Dolly!
Patricia Routledge was Irene Molloy in this Company!


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!
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Keeping Entertainment LIVE!

Richard Skipper,

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:

Next Wednesday in NYC
Feb 24
March 2nd

Anita Gillette and Penny Fuller return in a sequel to their critically acclaimed, Sin Twisters! This is Sin Twisters, Too! Directed by the incredible Barry Kleinbort with great musical direction by Paul Greenwood. They will take all of us on a great musical romp through their Broadway careers, which have criss crossed from time to time, resulting in confusing the two!...even though they don't look a thing alike! 
This show WILL sell out! So reserve today and be a part of their star studded audience!
Richard Skipper is the publicist for Sin Twisters, Too! For press reservations, interview requests, or more information, contact Richard Skipper at or 845-365-0720 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me and to celebrate Barry as well as all the other fantastic Birthday honorees in this blog! Your writing is always such fun to read!