Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Great Parade: A Belated Valentine to Peter Filichia, Michael Lavine, American Popular Song Society...AND an AMAZING CAST!

Lesley Ann Warren and Scooter Teague
Photo Credit: Henri Dauman Studio cast Recording of 110 in the Shade
Group conformity scares the pants off me because it's so often a prelude to cruelty towards anyone who doesn't want to - or can't - join the Big Parade.
Bette Midler

Happy February 16th, 2016!
Today's blog is a blog that I desired to write over the weekend but my performing schedule kept me from doing so.

Don't forget today to be inspired! 

It's so much more than wishing.
I hope that ALL who see this today today are feeling love or, at the very least have the capacity of loving.
It seems to be a lost art in today's world.

My horoscope begins today with, Suppressing your hope is nearly impossible now, but you might be struggling to wrap words around your current optimism.
It's true!
Today, I celebrate the creative process, a great author, a great Broadway season, a wonderful organization, and how they all merged together this past weekend in the perfect storm.
Let's start with American Popular Song Society (formerly the New York Sheet Music Society).
The New York Sheet Music Society was established in 1980. It began with a small but dedicated group of collectors, who, through the courtesy of the late Sammy Cahn, president of the Songwriters' Hall of Fame, met at One Times Square to exchange sheet music and stories about songwriters, singers, and songs. Now a thriving non-profit corporation, the Society has over 400 members spread across the nation.
When I first became familiar with the Society, it was through Linda Amiel Burns, who is still president.
They meet, now at Musician's Hall, Local 802, on the second Saturday of every month from October through June.
Michael Kostroff was part of our celebration yesterday
The doors open at 12:30 and members and non-members come together for something we all have in common, the love of the Great American Songbook.
It is free for members and a small admissions price if you are not. It is only $50.00 to be a member for the year (Best Bargain in town), $15.00 at the door, otherwise. It is a great networking opportunity.
There are tables filled with sheet music, which is yours for the taking, for a contribution of your choice for the Society. You are on the honor system. There are also CDs to purchase and an opportunity, for artists to mix, mingle, and network. I am surprised that more don't take advantage of this.
At 1:45, Linda sits down to welcome everyone and to make informal announcements of events happening around town that involves friends, family, and fellow artists.
Diane J. Findlay closed the show with a brilliant poignant Before The Parade Passes By
I call it the three 'F's of cabaret! Then the program starts at 2PM. I have been fortunate over the years to perform as myself and I have produced a few events that I am very proud of.
The last big event I held was in January 2014 when I brought many of the original cast members to discuss their involvement and the  legacy of this show. How lucky to get a call from Jerry Herman the night before to personally thank me for carrying the torch on Hello, Dolly! That one call will last me a lifetime.
I love American Popular Song Society. Linda and the rest of the board, of which I am now on, are striving to build the past with the present.
Klea Blackhurst, Stephen, Barbara Minkus and my Australian pal, Doug Kingsman
Last month I was lucky enough to bring in Julie Budd and her band. She did a mini concert and then she sat down with Bill Boggs to discuss her process and her career, It was a great afternoon and the appreciative audience got a lot for what they paid for the afternoon. 

 Richard Skipper produced a marvelously entertaining program of performances and interview with musical theater expert/author Peter Filichia - sponsored by the American Popular Song Society. 
Anita Gillette opened the program with The Secret Service from Mr. President (which she starred in!)
"Skipper" (my fond nickname for this all-around theater talent) packed the house, conducted the interview, introduced the talented singers, promoted Filicihia's book "The Great Parade" and exceeded our expectations. Hugs2U Dr Sue

Today, I'm going to focus on this past Saturday's event . I have to start with Peter Filichia.
Peter Filichia

We were there to celebrate his amazing book, The Great Parade: Broadway's Astonishing, Never to be Forgotten 1963-64 Season.  
Sally Mayes delighted in Friendliest Things from Ervin Drake's What Makes Sammy Run?
It was the Broadway season when Barbra Streisand demanded Don't Rain on My Parade and Carol Channing heard the waiters at the Harmonia Gardens say "Hello, Dolly!". From June 1, 1963
Michael Lavine sang the title number
through the final day of May 31, 1964, theatergoers were offered 68 different productions: 24 new plays, 15 new comedies, 14 new musicals, 5 revivals of plays, 3 revues, 3 plays in Yiddish, 2 in French, 1 double-bill and even 1 puppet show.
We had a packed house on Saturday despite the frigid weather!
Peter Filichia's The Great Parade looks at what a Broadway season looked like a half-century ago analyzing the hits, the flops, the trends, the surprises, the disappointments, the stars and even how the assassination of JFK and the arrival of the Beatles affected Broadway. The Great Parade is a chronicle of a Broadway season unprecedented in the star power onstage: Barbara Streisand, Carol Channing, Claudette Colbert. Colleen Dewhurst, Hal Holbrook, Mary Martin, Christopher Plummer, Robert Preston, Julie Harris, Jason Robards, Jr., Carol Burnett, Tallulah Bankhead, Alec Guinness, Kirk Douglas, Albert Finney, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Richard Burton, Mary Martin, Beatrice Lillie, Hermione Gingold, Robert Redford and many more. Neil Simon and Stephen Sondheim burst on to the Broadway stage with Barefoot in the Park and Anyone Can Whistle. The '63-'64 season was one of Broadway's greatest and in The Great Parade, Peter Filichia gives us another classic.
I have been a fan of Peter's for many years. I love all of his writing. He CELEBRATES the theatre rather than tearing it down.
Peter and I first met officially in 2008 when he was going to write an article on me. We hit it off and I was very pleased with the end result.
Next month Lynn DiMenna Celebrates Dinah Shore
As Linda was putting the season together this year for APSS, I suggested my interviewing Peter on this book, which I love. She said she was interested and that it would be fun to have some songs from that season. Little did I know that the end result would be so spectacular, if I do say so myself. I am not patting myself on the back because this was a TRUE COLLABORATION!
When Linda gave me the "go ahead, I immediately contacted Peter Filichia. I was thrilled when he said YES! I asked Peter if there was anyone in particular that he would love to musically direct. Without hesitation, he said Michael Lavine. Michael is THE "go to" person for anything having to do with sheet music. As soon as we were all in place, Michael asked Peter what songs he desired to be included from that season.

Richard, that was such a terrific show Saturday!  All I could think was that there were more stars there, on stage as well as in the audience, than there were in the heavens (to borrow a phrase). Your enthusiasm mated with your genius talent always make for magic!

- Jacqueline Parker

Once we knew what the songs were, Michael and I began furiously emailing the names back and
Stephen Cole seen here with Klea Blackhurst who performed Don't Rain on My Parade
forth. I am blown away by everyone who said YES and to their commitment.
We began with Anita Gillette performing The Secret Service from Mr. President. Technically, Mr. President opened on Broadway the previous season, but when you've got Anita, why not?
Mr. President is a musical with a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse and music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. The story
focuses on US President Stephen Decatur Henderson, who runs into political trouble following a disastrous trip to the Soviet Union and his problems with his children. Bored with life as a civilian after his presidency ends, he decides to return to political life. The original 1962 Broadway production ran for 265 performances. The piece was Irving Berlin's last musical.
 From HERE’S LOVE, Here’s Love was performed by Michael Lavine. The Broadway production, directed by Stuart Ostrow and choreographed by Michael Kidd, opened on October 3, 1963 at the Shubert Theatre, and closed on July 25, 1964 after 334 performances and 2 previews. The cast included Laurence Naismith, Janis Paige, Craig Stevens, Lisa Kirk, Fred Gwynne, Kathy Cody, Michael Bennett, and Baayork Lee. The original director, Norman Jewison, was replaced by Ostrow, the producer, during rehearsals.
THE STUDENT GYPSY (1963) was represented by Michael Kostroff performing It's a Wonderful
Danny Gardner and Aleka Emerson performed Come Play Wiz Me from Anyone Can Whistle
Day to do Nothing
Music, Book, and Lyrics by RICK BESOYANA follow-up to Besoyans smash-hit operetta-spoof LITTLE MARY SUNSHINE, THE STUDENT GYPSY is a wacky hybrid: a Romberg-esque operetta crossed with a zany Marx Brothers farce.Cast – Eileen Brennan, Dom De Luise, Shannon Bolin, Don Stewart, Dick Hoh, Mitzie Welch, Donald Babcock.
JENNIE was represented by Before I Kiss the World Goodbye sung by Anita Gillette. Jennie is a musical with a book by Arnold Schulman, music by Arthur Schwartz, and lyrics by Howard Dietz, and starred Mary Martin.

The plot focuses on actors and married couple Jennie Malone and James O'Connor, who tour the country in popular melodramas. Much of the action consists of elaborate spoofs of the type of entertainment offered to audiences in the early 20th century.
The musical opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre on October 17, 1963 and closed on December 28, 1963, after 82 performances and four previews. Directed by Vincent J. Donehue, choreographed by Matt Mattox (official IBDB credits) and with costumes by Irene Sharaff, the cast included George D. Wallace as O'Connor, Robin Bailey as Cromwell, Jack De Lon as Abe O'Shaughnessy, Jeremiah Morris as The Bear, Sydney Harris, and Indian Fakir, and Ethel Shutta as Nellie Malone.
110 IN THE SHADE was represented by Leah Horowitz singing Simple Little Things. -PREVIEWS: October 23, 1963 (2 prev.)
OPENING: October 24, 1963
CLOSING: August 9, 1964 LENGTH OF RUN: 330 perf.
110 in the Shade is a musical with a book by N. Richard Nash, lyrics by Tom Jones, and music by Harvey Schmidt.

Based on Nash's 1954 play The Rainmaker, it focuses on Lizzie Curry, a spinster living on a ranch in the American southwest, and her relationships with local sheriff File, a cautious divorcé who fears being hurt again, and charismatic con man Bill Starbuck, posing as a rainmaker who promises the locals he can bring relief to the drought-stricken area. Nash's book is faithful to his original play, although all the interior scenes were
Leah Horowitz
moved outdoors to allow for the addition of townspeople for ensemble numbers and dances. Many of Jones' lyrics come directly from Nash's play.

"Faith is knowing...with your heart." - N. Richard Nash
THE GIRL WHO CAME TO SUPPER was represented by Jim Brochu and Steve Ross performing a British Music Hall Medley  After four previews, the Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Joe Layton, opened on December 8, 1963 at The Broadway Theatre, where it ran for 112 performances. The cast included Florence Henderson as Mary, José Ferrer as Charles, Irene Browne as the Queen Mother, Sean Scully as Nicholas, Tessie O'Shea as Ada Cockle, and Roderick Cook as Peter Northbrook.
Camile Saviola
RUGANTINO was represented by Camile Saviola performing Roma Non Fa La Stupida Stasera
The show opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre (now a church!)
    First Preview: February 5, 1964 

    Opening Date: February 6, 1964 

    Closing Date: February 29, 1964  Previews: 1 

    Performances: 28 

Lyrics: Pietro Garinei, Sandro Giovannini

Book: Pietro Garinei, Sandro Giovannini

Music: Armando Trovaioli

Next up was FOXY which was was tailored specifically for the talents of Bert Lahr, although his tendency to ad lib and insert slapstick antics into the proceedings were stifled by the creative team, a mistake given there wasn't much humor to be found within the dialogue. The tryout was scheduled not for venues in more traditional cities like Philadelphia or Boston but the practically unreachable Palace Grand Theatre in Dawson City. Co-produced by the Canadian government, which was anxious to promote tourism to the remote area, it ran for seven weeks in the summer of 1962, usually to a practically empty house, and its producers lost their $400,000 investment.
Lahr took home the 1964 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his work in this 72-performance show- Talk To Me, Baby was sung by Sean McDermott.

Michael Lavine and Anita Gillette
Next up was WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN? Opened February 27, 1964, Steve Lawrence opened at the 54th Street Theatre in a Broadway musical version of What Makes Sammy Run? which ran for 540 performances, closing on June 12, 1965. Robert Alda played Al Manheim and Sally Ann Howes played Kit Sargent. The music and lyrics were by Ervin Drake and Budd Schulberg and his brother, Stuart Schulberg, wrote the book. Abe Burrows directed. -Friendliest Thing sung by Sally Mayes. Sean McDermott then returned to the stage to sing A Room Without Windows from the same show.
Then we had three great artists represent Funny Girl
FUNNY GIRL after seventeen previews, the Broadway production opened on March 26, 1964 at the Winter Garden Theatre, subsequently transferring to the Majestic Theatre and The Broadway Theatre, where it closed on July 1, 1967 to complete its total run of 1,348 performances. The musical was directed by Garson Kanin and choreographed by Carol Haney under the supervision of Jerome Robbins. In addition to Streisand and Sydney Chaplin, the original cast included Kay Medford, Danny Meehan, Jean Stapleton, and Lainie Kazan, who also served as Streisand's understudy. Later in the run, Streisand and Chaplin were replaced by Mimi Hines and Johnny Desmond, and Hines' husband and comedy partner Phil Ford also joined the cast. -
I’m The Greatest Star was performed  by Barbara Minkus (who understudied Mimi Hines in the original production and went on as Fanny a few times!)

 The Music That Makes Me Dance was performed by Steven Brinberg

Don’t Rain on My Parade - Klea Blackhurst .

Next up was Anyone Can Whistle.  After multiple revisions, the show opened on Broadway on April 4, 1964 at the Majestic Theatre, where it closed after 9 performances and 12 previews, unable to overcome the generally negative reviews it had received. Scenic design was by William and Jean Eckart, costume design by Theoni V. Aldredge, and lighting design by Jules Fisher. Choreographer Herbert Ross received the show's sole Tony Award nomination. - Come Play Wiz Me  was performed by Danny Gardner and Aleka Emerson.

Maureen McNamara represented HIGH SPIRITS  by performing You'd Better Love Me.
Originally, Coward had mentally cast Keith Michell as Charles, Gwen Verdon as Elvira, Celeste Holm as Ruth, and Kay Thompson as Madame Arcati, with Bob Fosse as director. Coward's dream cast failed to materialize, but he continued with the project.
The musical opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on April 7, 1964, and closed on February 27, 1965, after 375 performances and fourteen previews. Gower Champion aided Coward in directing the musical.
The cast featured Edward Woodward as Charles, Tammy Grimes as Elvira, Louise Troy as Ruth, Beatrice Lillie as Madame Arcati and Carol Arthur as Edith. Christopher Walken, billed as "Ronnie Walken" was in the chorus. Fred Werner was Music Director, scenic and costumes design were by Robert Fletcher, lighting design was by Jules
Fisher and Tammy Grimes costume was by Valentina. The production was nominated for eight Tony Awards but did not win any. Other major musical nominees that same year (1964) were Funny Girl and Hello, Dolly! and most major Tony wins went to the latter.

Sarah Rice performed Make the Most of Spring from Cafe Crown.

It’s Good to Be Back Home was performed by Danielle Erin Rhodes from FADE OUT FADE IN The musical opened on Broadway on May 26, 1964 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, and closed on April 17, 1965, after 274 performances and six previews. Directed by George Abbott and choreographed by Ernest Flatt, the cast included Carol Burnett as Hope Springfield, Dick Patterson as Rudolf, Lou Jacobi as Lionel Z. Governor, Jack Cassidy as Byron Prong, and Tina Louise. Cassidy was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Dick Shawn replaced Cassidy in February 1965.

Diane Findlay closed the afternoon with a moving Before The Parade Passes By from HELLO, DOLLY! which Opened January 16th 1964. Director Gower Champion was not the producer’s first choice to direct Dolly!;  Hal Prince, Jerome Robbins, and Joe Layton had all turned down the job of directing the musical..  - On August 7th, 1965, Carol Channing closed her original run in Hello, Dolly! This was a Saturday night. Enter GINGER ROGERS: Opening Aug 9, 1965.  This was a MONDAY night.Martha Raye, Betty Grable, Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller, Ethel Merman would follow making it the longest running musical at that time.  
The cast all joined back on stage for a rousing rendition of Hello, Dolly!

Read Josh Ellis' review her (It is a recap of what has all been posted here.)

The Most Entertaining Broadway Entertainment of the Year

This past weekend the bar was raised very high for the most entertaining Broadway entertainment of the the year — and it’s only February.  If you didn’t hear about it in advance, I’m sorry.  If I had any idea how terrific it was going to be, I would have shouted the news from rooftops for friends to attend.
The event was the American Popular Song Society’s celebration of Peter Filichia’s wonderful new book, “The Great Parade: Broadway’s Astonishing, Never-To-Be-Forgotten 1963-1964 Season.” 
The format was simplicity itself:  Host Richard Skipper asked Peter Filichia about each of the musicals that opened during that season.  Peter offered brief, fascinating anecdotes and Michael Lavine, the musical director, played the piano, sang a little, and accompanied most of the performers who performed songs from EVERY show of the 1963-64 season.

The greatness of the afternoon was in the details, starting with the material from which that trio made their musical selections.  Their cup runneth over because of the quality and quantity of the musicals that debuted that season:  HELLO, DOLLY!, FUNNY GIRL, 110 IN THE SHADE, HIGH SPIRITS, ANYONE CAN WHISTLE, FADE OUT-FADE IN, THE GIRL WHO CAME TO SUPPER, HERE’S LOVE, WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN?, JENNIE, and the lesser known, RUGANTINO, THE STUDENT GYPSY, FOXY and CAFE CROWN.

Here are some of the highlights:
*  Steve Ross and Jim Brochu doing a delicious medley of songs from THE GIRL WHO CAME TO SUPPER including Tessie O’Shea’s four LONDON showstoppers. 
*  Leah Horowitz doing a meltingly beautiful “Simple Little Things” from 110 IN THE SHADE.
*  Michael Kostroff’s absolutely hilarious “It’s A Wonderful Day To Do Nothing” from THE STUDENT GYPSY.
*  Camille Saviola's zany and screamingly funny “Roma Non Fa La Stupida Stasera” from RUGANTINO.
*  Danielle Erin Rhodes doing zesty justice to “It’s Good To Be Back Home” from FADE OUT-FADE IN.
*  Anita Gillette’s poignant “Before I Kiss The World Goodbye” from JENNIE.
*  Diane Findlay doing “Before the Parade Passes By,” including the “Ephram/Oak Leaf” monologue, from HELLO, DOLLY! — both of which brought tears to my eyes.
*  Barbara Minkus doing “I’m the Greatest Star,” which she did on Broadway when she was Mimi Hines’s standby, and melted away 50 years.
*  Steven Brinberg, in mufti, doing “The Music That Makes Me Dance,” proving he doesn’t need Streisand drag to do full justice to this torch song.
*  Klea Blackhurst blasting a perfect “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and in doing so, making me crazy with delight.  WOW!!!!
    I’d list everyone, but I’m stopping here.

The weather may have been frightfully cold yesterday, but over on West 48th st, at the Associated Musicians of Greater NY, there was a warm and toasty program was taking place. Hosted by the always debonair and charming Richard Skipper, a cast of talented and accomplished singers helped celebrate Peter Filichia's new book, 'The Great Parade: The Astonishing, Never To Be Forgotten Season of 1963-1964.' Peter is as knowledgeable and articulate an expert on theatre if there ever was one. It was a pleasure to listen to Richard, Peter, and the incredibly talented singers that helped illustrate that incredible Broadway season. Alas, it was still freezing when we left, but a great time was had by all.
-Pamela Singer

Order The Great Parade: Broadway's Astonishing, Never-to-Be-Forgotten 1963-1964 Season HERE and Don't Forget to join American Popular Song Society on March 12th as Lynn DiMenna and Will Friedwald Celebrate the Centennial of Dinah Shore. Go HERE for more info.

SAVE THE DATE! I just booked the Triad for May 25th 8PM Richard Skipper Celebrates: A Musical talk/Variety Show with Michael Lavine AND SURPRISE GUESTS! My return to performing on a cabaret stage after six years! I hope you'll save the date and join us. You'll never know who you might see there! Tickets go on sale in three days!

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!


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, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

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

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 Richard@RichardSkipper.com or 845-365-0720

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