Friday, March 18, 2016

John Kander, Edward Everett Horton, NY's Next Top Drag Queen Contest...and MORE!

There is a kind of classlessness in the theater. The rehearsal pianist, the head carpenter, the stage manager, the star of the show-all are family
-John Kander


Happy March is Cabaret Month, everybody!
Today is March 18 is the 78th day of the year. There are 288 days remaining until the end of the year. There is a lot to celebrate. John Kander was born on this date in Kansas City, Missouri. How appropriate that his birthday falls in March, which is now considered Cabaret Month here in New York. John Kander, the Broadway composer and half of the songwriting team of Kander and Ebb is celebrating a birthday today.
He is the composer of a number of musicals as part of the songwriting team of Kander and Ebb. Kander composed the music for the stage musical Cabaret, for which he and Fred Ebb won the Tony Award for Best Original Score of a Musical in 1967. Kander and Ebb received the Kennedy Center Honors award for Lifetime Achievement on December 6, 1998.

I received this very special testimonial from Randye Sundel:
Randye Sundel
In the mid to late seventies, I was working with my vocal coach, Joe Baque, at his Seventh Avenue studio. I had an idea for a novel rendition of 'Tomorrow.' I started singing, and Joe followed my lead on the piano. We performed the song through a few times to achieve the right nuance.
Suddenly we heard a knock on the door. Standing there was man who introduced himself as John Kander. Unbeknownst to me, he worked from the studio next door. He said how much he enjoyed our rendition of his song. I became uncharacteristically lost for words. I was so thrilled and surprised that he would make the effort to give us his feedback.  I cherish that memory to this day. 


Leslie Snow
And from Leslie Snow:
When I lived and worked in NYC in the 70's I had the great privilege of meeting and spending a tiny bit of time with the sublimely kind and genteel John Kander.
Whether we were actors or dancers or both we all  took voice lessons every week.  John agreed to have me over and played for me while I shared my tiny little voice with him.  He was so helpful and sweet.  He directed me to the great John Mace for further study. 


It is also the birthdays of two of my favorite actors from the golden age of Hollywood: Edward
Edward Everett Horton
Everett Horton and Robert Donat.

You mean to sit there and tell me that that girl slapped your face in front of all those people for nothing?
 -Edward Everett Horton in Top Hat

It is also the birthday of Peter Graves.

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
 —Bill Gates

Other Notable Birthdays Today
The extraordinary George Plimpton was born on this day in 1927.
1927 – Lillian Vernon, German-American businesswoman and philanthropist, founded the Lillian Vernon Company (d. 2015).
Phil Silvers "DO RE MI" Nancy Walker / Jule Styne 1961 Envelope / Ticket Stubs
Lillian Vernon is an established leader in personalized gifts, gifts for kids and unique home decor products.
1932 – John Updike, American novelist, poet, and critic (d. 2009).
Charley Pride, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.
Happy Birthday Irene Cara! I first saw her on The Electric Company.
Vanessa L. Williams, American model, actress, and singer, Miss America 1984. She appeared in Kander and Ebb's Kiss of the Spider Woman on Broadway.
Next Appearance is March 22nd at The Parker Playhouse with Seth Rudetsky. Click HERE for more info.
Queen Latifah, American actress, singer and rapper. She was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Mama Morton in the film adaptation of Kander and Ebb's Chicago.
Sutton Foster
Birthday wishes today to multi-talented "Broadway Baby" SUTTON FOSTER‬, a two time Tony Award winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes.

Notable Transitions on This Date
Peggy Wood (February 9, 1892 – March 18, 1978) was an American actress of stage, film and television. She is best remembered for her final screen appearance as Mother Abbess in the The Sound of Music, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She was actually dubbed in The Sound of
Peggy Wood
Music
, she could no longer sing Climb Ev'ry Mountain. Margery McKay sang the song.
 2009 – Natasha Richardson, English actress (b. 1963). Natasha starred in the 1998 Broadway revival of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret. Tomorrow marks the anniversary of that opening on Broadway.
2010 – Fess Parker, American actor, singer, and businessman (b. 1924)

Broadway Shows that Opened On This Date
This day in Broadway History, 1963: Tovarich opened at Broadway Theater for 264 performances; Vivien Leigh won a Tony for her performance.
Rodgers and Sondheim's Do I Hear a Waltz? Opened March 18, 1965 at the 46th Street Theatre, NYC.
Tryouts began January 30, 1965 at the Shubert Theatre, New Haven CT. Ran through February 13, 1965.
Closed September 25, 1965; Ran for 220 performances.
Produced by Richard Rodgers
Come Summer starring Ray Bolger opened on Broadway (1969).
Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields's Seesaw opened on Broadway (1973)

Today, I celebrate Susan Winter!
Susan Winter
I began by asking Susan what this time means to her.
What this time means to me...
We all live on borrowed time, though we never really think about it in those terms.
Or should I say, we rarely think about it; because every once in a while we are particularly grateful or we feel humbled by some event or another. I sing. I get to work with incredible musicians who share my love of the art. I get to stand up in front of people who pay money to see and hear what I do. And I even got to read or hear someone say nice things about my work that make me feel glad I went through the effort that it takes to make it come together. It's truly a special time in my life.

Who gave you your break in this business?

There is no single person who gave me what is proverbially called 'a break' in this business. Actually, I think I'm still waiting for it to happen. But there have been lots of wonderful folks along the way who encourage. Funny, but I never thought about the word encourage until I just wrote it. It certainly takes courage to to get up in front of people and sing.
Watching the people who come to Open Mic at The Metropolitan Room each week, I am reminded of that constantly. But to EN-courage means some stands by and helps you gain that courage that may be lacking in yourself.
I am grateful to all who encourage me and to all those whom I can encourage as well.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
Embarrassing things happen in a live performance.
The fact that anything can happen is part of what performing live it so exciting. It's also how we handle those moments that can make or break a performance.
I remember watching Carol Burnett and Steve Allen or even Sid Caesar when I was VERY young...and I'd wait for the moment they would break up in a skit. Each time it was handled with such aplomb that I felt I was part of the action and I laughed heartily right along with them. The first time I performed A Woman for All Seasons, I went up on my lyrics to a particular song. What made it so embarrassing was they were lyrics that I personally wrote to make the song more timely. Being in the moment, I "lala-ed" my way through it. Literally, I sang, La la la..." As I could not remember a single word.
Finally the song ended to much laughter and applause, thankfully. I then told the audience to email me and I would send them a copy of the lyrics, and went on to the next song. It sure doesn't sound funny now, but at the time, it was the best I could do. Yikes! I can only hope it was one of those Carol Burnett moments.

Do you consider yourself competitive? 
I certainly have drive and like to do the best I can at most things. I am also continually trying to learn more, challenging myself to do even better, go even deeper.
So I guess that's competitive. The pejorative nature of the word however suggests a contest of sorts.
with Deb Berman and Marilyn Maye
This business can be ruthless and we need to develop a tough skin to take part in it. But to compete with others? Then I end up comparing myself to others and that never works. The competition part I need to keep on track is competition with myself, to be the best I can at that moment, working to fine tune my own skills. It's tough not to look over my shoulder at the other guy, but there will ALWAYS be someone who sings better or who is younger, older, taller, prettier or who has that gig you were dying for. Sometimes it's kicks, then it's kicks in the shins. I guess this time the army got it right when it says, "be all that you can be," and make that be enough. For now.
Susan Winter
Which brings us to the next question of what Susan thinks it takes to be successful in this business.
It starts with talent, certainly. But that is only a small part. There are so many talented people. It takes discipline, guts, drive, the right people guiding you, timing, humility, and talent all mixed up with just the right dosage of each ingredient repeated over and over again. And if the flame that cooks it all is too high, you can make it big and burn out, as too many do. It's no wonder so many people walk away even after being successful. And then all this needs to be repeated over and over again. It's a flavor of the month sort of business even though most people still order the vanilla.

Why do you keep doing what you do? 
I didn't do it for a very long time. With two sons, a husband and a teaching career, I had very little time left over to sing. I took small gigs here and there or got up at parties, but that wasn't satisfying and simply reminded me of what I was NOT doing. I knew I wasn't going to run away to join the circus, so to speak. I had already done that before the kids came along. I had to wait until it was my turn. And fortunately, I have a husband who enjoys my performing and
with Meg Flather
encourages me to keep on doing it.
There's that word again! I regret nothing but I also have no illusions. I love what I do. I love the rehearsal and the performance. I love the collaboration of putting it together. I don't love the self promotion. In the seventies and eighties, I had performed in clubs for audiences who were there, doing six gigs a week, working from 9 to 3. That a lot of songs and a lot of singing. And I was paid for my work. What a concept! But watching Lady Gaga reinvent herself has taught me much. Tastes change, audiences are fickle, the business adjusts. And so must I adjust. In, " Here's to Life," there's a line that says, " and even though I satisfied, I'm hungry still..." I guess that describes very succinctly why continue to do it and I try find new ways to make it happen.
In summation, and to answer the last question,

What do you still desire...
To find ways to work it... And simply to work. I remember seeing Lena Horne on stage in her one woman Broadway show years back and being amazed that "at her age" she could do what she was doing. Well, I'm that age now and I still feel the same age inside that I always did. And I'm very I'm grateful. I thank you, Richard, for a chance to explore myself a bit and answer these questions.
I intend to find ways to keep doing what I do till I can't do it anymore. And I mean sing. After all, I still play tennis and I intend to do that until I can't do it anymore.
Please follow Susan on Facebook and catch her next time around


This is always a busy time for me. Here's a reminder of what's coming up!

Upcoming Entertainment News
Tuesday, March 29th: The 30th ANNUAL MAC AWARDS

Join us at BB King's for our 30th annual MAC Awards ceremony! Tickets are going fast, so get 'em while they're hot!
CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS. I'm a presenter! I hope you'll be there!

Metropolitan Room HOSTS 4th ANNUAL “NEW YORK’S NEXT TOP DRAG QUEEN CONTEST” STARTING MARCH 28

LAST SINGER-ENTERTAINER STANDING (ON HIGH HEELS) AFTER SIX GRUELING weeks WILL BE CROWNED ON MAY 2.
For six weeks starting Monday March 28, the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, will be drag queen heaven, as it hosts the 4th annual “New York’s Next Top Drag Queen Contest,” the MOST CHALLENGING DRAG CONTEST on the planet. Judged not by what’s on the cover but by what’s inside, and how well they sing and entertain, this year’s crop of 12 vigorously pre-screened drag queen artistes is not to be believed.  There’s not a shrinking violet in the lot!
Ladybird Johnson

All the Way starring Bryan Cranston, will premiere May 21 on HBO.
Additional cast:  Stephen Root (J. Edgar Hoover), Marque Richardson (Bob Moses), Melissa Leo (Ladybird Johnson), Frank Langella (Senator Richard Russell) and Anthony Mackie (Dr. Martin Luther King).

Nicky Ciampoli will portray entertainer Carol Channing in a March 17 musical revue at Polish American Club in Holiday. POLISH AMERICAN CLUB - See more at: http://www.suncoastnews.com/su/list/news-pasco/revue-to-showcase-carol-channing-20160317/#sthash.RSCo4kyF.dpuf

*********************

Concert 12  Linda Purl in concert will take place Tues. Mar. 22 at 7 PM at NYC’s Metropolitan Room.

The Life and Times of Mickey Rooney AUDIO BOOK
By Richard A. Lertzman and William J. Birnes
Read by Pete Cross
The Life and Times of Mickey Rooney Audio book (from Dreamscape) is over 18 hours and on 12 CD's. It is narrated wonderfully by the talented Pete Cross. There is also an MP3 Version from Amazon Audible Audio.
Below is a link to more information about the narrator, Pete Cross.
The book, also sold in hardcover and Ebooks (Kindle, Nook, etc.) is a definitive biography of the iconic actor and Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney.

Covers everything...Lertzman and Birnes are deeply and appropriately sympathetic biographers.
- The New York Times
Thanks for your support and LIKE of this Facebook page!
https://www.dreamscapeab.com/person/4267602

The New Yorker Cover - March 18, 1961
The answer lies within ourselves. If we can't find peace and happiness there, it's not going to come from the outside. - Tenzin Palmo

Thank to ALL of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts they have given to the world and continue to give!

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!    
            

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

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Bridging the Past with the Present
 
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com


PLEASE JOIN ME ONE SATURDAY NIGHT AT 7PM! MARCH 19th in NYC


The Metropolitan Room Presents...
David Meulemans returns in Lucky To Be Me! Directed by the incredible Sally Mayes with great musical direction by Tex Arnold. David will take all of us on a great musical romp through the ups and downs of his life.David Meulemans combines a love for the American Songbook with his classically trained voice to entertain audiences from Miami to New York, London and around the nation.  In a recent review, Charles Truenski describes David’s performance of Lucky to Be Me at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Room, as “a perfect night of cabaret” stating this is the kind of cabaret New York City needs more of. 

A popular leading man in South Florida musical theatre, David brings his comfortable style, passion for music and remarkable vocal talents to every project he tackles, with humor, heart and joy.    This show WILL sell out! So reserve today and be a part of his star studded audience!
This is a CD Release Event! ALL in attendance will receive complementary copy of Lucky To Be Me: Recorded LIVE at the Metropolitan Room August 22nd, 2015
http://metropolitanroom.com/event.cfm?id=222431
$5.00 OFF COVER OF ALL MAC MEMBERS
Richard Skipper Celebrates is the publicist for David Meulemans and Lucky To Be Me at NYC's Metropolitan Room. ! For press reservations, interview requests, or more information, contact Richard Skipper at Richard@RichardSkipper.com or 845-365-0720
 








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