Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lina Koutrakos, Henny Youngman, Pat Nixon...and MORE!

Lina Koutrakos
If at first you don't succeed... so much for skydiving. Henny Youngman

Happy Wednesday, March 16th!
March 16 is the 76th day of the year. There are 290 days remaining until the end of the year.
Today, there is so much to celebrate.
I'll begin by acknowledging Henny Youngman on the anniversary of his birth. He was born 110 years ago today. I only met him once when I appeared at Joey Adams' 85th birthday party at Le Cirque.

Other Notable Birthdays today
Pat Nixon: American educator, 39th First Lady of the United States (d. 1993).
1916 – Mercedes McCambridge, American actress (d. 2004).
Chuck Woolery:  Hollywood Conservative, Love Connection Host, Back in Two and Two, Fisherman, Navy Vet, Political Activist. Restart Congress Founder.

Henry Enrique "Erik" Estrada is an American actor, voice actor, and police officer known for his co-starring lead role in the police drama television series CHiPs, which ran from 1977 to 1983.He later became known for his work in Spanish-language telenovelas, his appearances in reality television shows and infomercials and as a regular voice on the Adult Swim series Sealab 2021.
Victor Joseph Garber is a Canadian film, stage and television actor and singer. He is known for playing Jesus in Godspell, John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, Jack Bristow in the television series Alias, Max in Lend Me a Tenor, Thomas Andrews in James Cameron's Titanic, and Ken Taylor, Canadian Ambassador to Iran, in Argo. He currently guest stars as Dr. Martin Stein on The Flash and stars as a regular on Legends of Tomorrow.
Kate Nelligan

Kate Nelligan: Patricia Colleen Nelligan is a Canadian stage, film and television actress, known professionally as Kate Nelligan. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 1991 film The Prince of Tides, and the same year won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Frankie and Johnny. She is also a four-time Tony Award nominee for her work on Broadway, receiving nominations for Plenty (1983), A Moon for the Misbegotten (1984), Serious Money (1988) and Spoils of War (1989).

Notable Transitions on this date
In 1971, Bebe Daniels died on this date in London, England, UK.
1983 – Arthur Godfrey, American actor and television host (b. 1903).
 You know, if you don't do nothin, you don't do nothin.  
-Arthur Godfrey
On this date in 1961, President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy attend a ceremony at the Department of State in honor of the 100th anniversary of Italian unification. Click HERE

Lina Koutrakos
I would also like to celebrate Lina Koutrakos today.
She is one of my favorite people in this business.

She also holds a very special place in my heart.
She was my first director in cabaret.
In 1995, I was going from showcase to showcase as an actor. I was working a lot but I was burning out fast. I had become familiar with the world of cabaret several years before. Don't Tell Mama was in the mid to late Eighties my favorite hangout. The vibe of Don't Tell Mama TODAY is no where near where it was at that time. It was like Cheers. It was one of
those places where everyone did know your name. It was also there that I saw Lina perform the first time. Well getting back to 1995, I was contemplating my next move in the world of entertainment.
I went to a career coach and after discussing what I was feeling and my still very strong desire to continue performing, she suggested my doing my own cabaret
Richard Skipper as Judy Garland
show. She planted that seed. I then proceeded to spend three months seeing as many cabaret shows as possible. If I liked a show, I made a notation of who the director was. Over and over, Lina's name kept popping up. Not only was she directing a lot at that time, she was consistent as far as the quality of work in terms of what I was seeing. I called her up and told her that I wanted her to direct my show but that I had no idea what I was doing or what I desired to say with my show.
 We decided to meet the following Saturday afternoon which was a week away.
On the Friday night before meeting Lina, I went to Rose's Turn on Grove Street to see Tommy Femia's tribute to Judy Garland. Although I loved HIS version of Judy, I felt there was another side that I desired to explore. I called Lina when I got home that night and said, "Don't laugh but I think I want to do a show as Judy Garland". Lina suggested that if that the route we were going to take, that we should try and find a unique way to present it that had not been presented before.
She also confessed that she truly didn't have a frame of reference on Judy beyond The Wizard of Oz. I
said I would help educate her. I arrived the next day with many video tapes (VHS) of episodes of The Judy Garland Show.We sat down and I showed her some of my favorite clips. She went into the kitchen for some frozen grapes and I swear on my life that the following happened! We both said at the same time that we had an idea on a show concept. Lina suggested we both write down our ideas and compare notes. We both wrote down essentially the same thing.
We would show a behind the scenes look at a fictitious episode of the Judy Garland Show. This was a period in Judy's life where she was at the top of her game. The issues were the brass at
CBS, not Judy Garland. Once we had our concept, we began shaping the show and putting our team together starting with musical director Jim Bassi and Eric Stephen Jacobs who designed my look. WE booked the show at Don't Tell Mama and we opened at MIDNIGHT on November 5th, 1994. Can you imagine? We had a sold out show. It was the beginning of a difficult time for me. Critics and some in the cabaret community gave me a very hard time. There were some who felt that I was encroaching on Tommy Femia's turf. That was never my intent. With the ups and downs of this tumultuous time in my artistic career, one thing never wavered, Lina Koutrakos' amazing support. I don't know if I have fully thanked her for what she means to me. She opened the door for my entree to the world of cabaret and, for that, I will always be grateful.

Lina Koutrakos' In Town will be gracing the stage of The Iridium on Sunday March 20th one show only at 4:00PM. Joining her on stage will be her long time musical director Rick Jensen along with special "out of town guests," Katie McGrath, Jeffrey M. Wright and Caitlyn Fahey.

“Part earthmother, part earthquake” Time Out New York

For tickets visit
Here is my celebration of Lina!
Name six things you could not live without :
 Singing. My nieces. The sun. The water. The summer. The good old fashioned car radio!
Erv Raible

Who gave you your break in the business?  
Many people. Erv Raible gave me a TON of opportunities. And the magnificent Allan Pepper who owned and ran NYC's legendary BOTTOM LINE. With that said, I had a lot of wonderful folks help me along the way. From managing me from their heart and soul to funding my concerts and albums. I've been lucky.

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What was your favorite toy when you were a kid and why?
Slinky. Now you know how old I am! Loved watching it go down the stairs with my little sister. Oh and wait...silly putty. Got it stuck in my hair once cuz I took it to bed with me. Chopped off a chunk of my hair the next morning so no one would see the wad of it. Guess what? Everyone noticed. That was the beginning of me having short hair for a time!

Why do you keep doing what you do?
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Cuz I cant not do it. It is the relationship I have had the longest in my chops and without hearing them make noise I truly lose a part of my identity. It is my life's passion, of that I am very sure.

Finish this sentence: I smile today because...
I've got a few bucks in the bank, I'm stickin to my food plan, Ive got my guy, my health and I can sing.

What is your unique value proposition?
The sum of my parts. I mean I was thinking well, I'm passionate, compassionate, straight forward, empathetic, funny, smart, sexy, and strong. I'm also a procrastinator, I'm usually never on time, I talk a lot, I'm my own special brand of worry wart etc...but everyone of these qualities can be anyone else in the world too, so I'd have to say what my unique value is is that I am the particular sum of my parts!

What is your secret passion?
Singing...but its no secret.

Where do you fall in birth order and how has that affected your life?
 The oldest. I am miss "bossy pants" and I have turned that in to a living by being a director!

Don't miss Lina at The Iridium Sunday Night in NYC!
Another artist I would like to celebrate tonight is Tracy O'Farrell.
Tracey O'Farrell  studied voice, theatre and dance extensively, performing all over New England and beyond. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from The Hartt School, and spent many years performing professionally in touring productions, regionally and for Spirit Cruises.  After a decade long break, Tracey returned to performing and teaching theatre and dance at Boston's  Riverside Theatre Works in 2012. Credits included Velma (Hairspray) and Gymnasia (Forum).  She has performed in NYC as part of reviews at The Metropolitan Room in Dana Lorge's Variety Hour and Bobbie Horowitz's It's Just a Number.  Tracey made her solo debut there this fall in a one woman show co-written and directed by legendary director and composer David Friedman titled Bless The Broken Road.  Last summer, Tracey attended and performed in The Professional Track of The Cabaret Conference of St Louis, where she was selected to perform as the opening act for Christine Ebersole.  She also was a featured performer at Cabaretfest 2015 in Provincetown, MA.  Tracey was a cast member of Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston's cast of Remembering the 1940's in October and was a featured
singer in their Christmas Show in December. In March, Tracey brings Bless the Broken Road back to NYC for multiple dates at Don't Tell Mama after a sell out performance at Boston's Club Cafe. 

Follow Tracey on Twitter
"Tracey O'Farrell's voice is beautiful, but her heart is even more so. You will want to hear more."
Carla Gordon
Cabaret Scenes Magazine
Tracey will be at Don't Tell Mama on March 26th in Bless the Broken Road. 
Here is our interview.
Name Six things you cannot live without
I can't live without my Toyota Corolla that has over 120,000 miles on the odometer.   Through road trips, snow storms, and overdue tune ups, it has never given me an ounce of grief.  It was my first purchase as a new divorcee and single mom.  It has been trusty, reliable, and although I certainly could use something bigger and perhaps more sophisticated, I'm not ready to part ways.
My iPhone.  I'm an addict!  I love feeling connected to people I can't see or talk to in everyday life. 
Coffee.  Again, I'm an addict!  I try to limit myself to two a day...gallons...
My grandmother's marinara sauce. I don't look it, but I'm
Part Italian.  My grandmother taught me to make her sauce when I was a teenager, and I like it when I make it, but nothing beats hers. 
Singing.  I sing constantly.  There was a very long period where I stopped singing.  I found my voice again, and the whole world is like a musical in which I am constantly assigning the soundtrack. 
My family.  We are a combination of a Nicholas Sparks novel and a modern day version of The Brady Bunch. My husband and kids are my world and my inspiration.
Who gave you your break?
Baby Feel So Right
My big break came when David Friedman came to teach a masterclass in Boston.  He saw something in me and encouraged me to pursue perform professionally.  Before I knew it, we were co-writing my one woman show, Bless the Broken Road. Opportunities began to spring up, and I have felt like I'm living a dream.  I have learned so much, grown tremendously, and continue to, working with David.  Aside from that, he is an amazing person, and I am so glad that he is a part of my life.

What Was Your Favorite Toy when You were a Little Girl?
My favorite toy was Baby Feel So Real...the jingle was...Baby Feel So Real, feels just right, not too heavy, not too light.  You could feed her a bottle and baby food! Her diapers get dirty!God, I loved that doll.
Why Do You Keep Doing What You Do?
I keep doing what I do because I love it! I love it so much.  I love performing.  I love story telling.  I love learning and watching others tell their stories and share who they are. 

What Do You Desire That You Don't Have?
I want to have a show with a six piece band.  It's on the vision board:)

What Do You Fear About The Election?
I fear that voters will get what they are asking for on Election Day.  I fear

Please impart some Wednesday wisdom for my readers
It's never too late.  To make a change.  To say you're sorry.  To try again.  To find love.  If you,think it is, give it time, and try again.
Click HERE to Order Tickets

In other Entertainment News
Asian Academy members protest Oscar night's racist jokes: Click HERE to read more.

Metropolitan Room - 34 West 22 Street (Between 5 & 6)
Reservations: 212-206-0440 or
$20.00 Cover Charge / 2 Beverage Minimum
(Desserts & snack platters available)

Joseph Macchia Production’s Cabaret Cares/Help is on the Way, Today is proud to announce the St. Patty’s Day cast of: Joan Crowe, Sue Matsuki, Sidney Myer, Julie Reyburn, Lauren Stanford & Christopher Zelno with Tracy Stark on the keys! The evening will be signature tunes of and personal stories about Julie. All the proceeds go to support children living with HIV/AIDS. A great show for a great cause! AND…there will be a special FREE raffle of a signed photo of the great Miss Wilson!

Break a leg to the company of  Shuffle Along. Previews began last night.

Urban Stages to extend Mabel Madness
The dramatic story with music about the life of Mabel Mercer
Written by and Starring Tony Award Winner
Trezana Beverley

Directed by Frances Hill and Peter Napolitano

with Musical Direction by Tuffas Zimbabwe


Performed by Tony Award Winner Trezana Beverley (For Colored Girls...) tells the dramatic story with music about the life of the famous cabaret chanteuse, Mabel Madness began performances on February 19 and was originally set to end its run on March 20, will now play Wednesday nights at 7PM and Sundays at 3PM and 7PM through April 10, 2016. Tickets are $40 and are available at or by calling 1-866-811-4111.

Seth Sikes returned to FEINSTEIN'S/54 BELOW on Saturday, March 12th in a brand new show. Seth Sikes Sings Liza Minnelli, an evening of Minnelli's most popular songs was performed on the legendary entertainer's 70th birthday. Click HERE to read and see MORE.

Get ready Palm Springs! Ben Vereen is bringing Steppin Out With Ben Vereen to Palm Springs Art Museum on March 19th! Get more Info HERE

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!
It sings (even without the usual songs): at Goodman's "The Matchmaker" a comic gem. Review:


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

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

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!

Richard Skipper,

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

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 or 845-365-0720
Read Jed Ryan's Interview with David in Late Night Lavender  Click HERE

1 comment:

  1. Richard, thank you so much for keeping your finger on the pulse of the Cabaret Community, and celebrating the past, present and future of entertainment! I'm so honored to be included in your blog.

    Tracey O'Farrell