Wednesday, March 22, 2017

John Ainsworth, Young Actors' Theatre Camp, Deborah Stone, Jana Robbins

Today's Blog is Dedicated to Chuck Barris who has passed away today
Nothing is as obnoxious as other people's luck. - F. SCOTT FITZGERALD

Happy Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017!
March 22 is the 81st day of the year . There are 284 days remaining until the end of the year.
Ricky and Debbie Skipper
I'd like to begin today by acknowledging a few people who have added to the landscape of my life. First and foremost, my only sister. Debbie and I are thirteen months apart. We are what are referred to as Irish Twins. I'm the oldest and she has been by my side my entire life. Although she is in South Carolina and I am here in New York. We are still side by side. 
Speaking of Side by Side, today is Stephen Sondheim's Birthday. 
In honor of Sondheim, I'm celebrating my artist friends who celebrate and honor him in their shows with a song or two...or maybe even more! 
Deborah Stone
With each, I came up with three questions just to make it a little more interesting. First up is Deborah Stone.
I met Deborah when I hosted The Salon last year. I was immediately taken with her poise and sense of style and we have been friends ever since. You see, folks, it pays to get out of the house!
In October, Deborah guested in Richard Skipper Celebrates...Halloween and October 31st at The Triad. In honor of Sondheim's birthday, here is a clip of Deborah singing In Buddy's Eyes.  Deborah will be at Don't Tell Mama in NYC tomorrow night(March 23rd) at 7:30 PM and again on Saturday, April 15th at 4PM. Directed by Ann McCormack and musically directed by Woody Regan. To all of my readers, please join me on the 15th and let's do dinner after! Let's sell out her house!
Deborah tells me that her favorite Sondheim experience would have to be the way she's transported whenever she sings In Buddy's Eyes.  His insight into the very human and mostly feminine experience of contentment and desire, for better or for worse, is stunningly apt. As for why she chose Anyone Can Whistle in her current show, it's simply a beautiful song which brings forth so pertinently a common feeling. We've all experienced that feeling of being left out at some point, of being less than. In that song, also, there is the happy resolution of reaching out for help. 
To clarify, when Deborah said contentment and desire, it is the dichotomy, the pull between the two; that even when we are content with our current partner, visions of those desired in the past or perhaps even in the present, feeling it could've or could be something else, Is felt by many of us. She says she is speaking for herself of course. She's also speaking for me. Go HERE to order tickets. 

Jana Robbins
Another friend of mine will be doing HER Birthday show at Feinstein's/54 Below on April 12th! Who knows? I may even get up and sing a song myself! That is Jana Robbins. Jana and I met, I think, through a Bob Ost benefit. She is one of those friends that just seems seamless when she and I met. 
When Jana's father passed away from Parkinson's Dis-Ease, I offered to do a benefit with her to raise money for Parkinson's and we have been friends ever since. She even sang at our wedding! 
Jana will be singing Sondheim at her birthday celebration and I hope you'll join us as well. 

Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?
Chita Rivera

I was always a big fan of Chita Rivera. Her talent, her Charisma, the passion that came through everything thing she did. I was thrilled to play some of the rolls she had created early in my career. The other was Barbra Streisand. I'd sing along to her first album when I was still in high school and thrilled that I got to play Fanny Brice in FUNNY GIRL.

Produced by Jana Robbins
Name one thing you would like to change about this profession and why
Now that I'm also a Broadway producer I would like to change the fact that in the theater it is not yet recognized that you can be an actor and producer on a project as in television and film where indeed Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler and many others produce films they they are in. It's also done a lot in TV series.

What is it about the business that you think has changed for the better...and for the worst since you began in it?
I think it is easier to follow what is going on in Broadway and who the people are behind the shows with the advent of the internet. So it is much easier to try to break into the business. When I first came to Broadway there was no way to know what was going on or who was who.

Order your tickets now for Jana Robbins' Birthday Show

John Ainsworth stars as Billy Bibbit in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at the Rubicon Theatre Company.


Today, I would also like to celebrate John Ainsworth and the work he is doing with Young Actors
John Ainsworth
Theater Camp
Located in the San Francisco Bay area, the Young Actors Theatre Camp (YATC) gives each student an exclusive opportunity to learn from professional instructors and famous faces in the acting world. For aspiring young actors and singers, the camp provides inspiration, training, and preparation for a career in the limelight, but the chance to meet face-to-face with well-known actors makes it even more exciting.
Tell us about Camp 2017...  
We have been doing it for 15 years and it’s a great way to give back, educate, nurture, and inspire the future generations of artists and creators. 
Finish this sentence: I'm very bad at…Delegating.     
Who are your artistic heroes – who have had an impact on you and your work?
My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hollinger. She was someone that saw the creative talents within me at an early age and nurtured me, as well as gave me the strength to pursue my own individual path as an artist.    
Name one thing you would like to change about this profession and why
As a Producer, one thing that I wish was more present in the film and television industry as a whole across all mediums of artistic expression - we need to celebrate and encourage diversity.

We are not just a homogeneous society and we need diverse voices to tell diverse stories.     
What is it about the business that you think has changed for the better...and for the worst since you began in it? 
In many ways the camp was my film school and the children and many of the teachers that we’ve worked with over the 15 years have educated me and inspired me as a film maker to challenge myself. And in doing so, it expanded my own horizons, not just the horizons of the camp or the kids.

Going from starting a YouTube channel, that now has over 10 million views and creating hundreds of short films with our students, that led me to produce two award winning short films with my husband, Shawn Ryan as well as two feature films. The forth coming film, “Sleep Away” was filmed at camp with students in the lead roles and multiple celebrity actors who lent their talents to the project.   

How important are the arts to you personally?
The arts are my life and throughout my life being able to find and express my own voice across multiple mediums like visual arts, acting in film and

TV, and even sculpture have all been things that allowed me to try different things and experiment in ways that I think many people are afraid to attempt because they are afraid of failing. But you have to be willing to fail, in order to succeed. 
Darren Criss (right) talks with John Ainsworth at a YATC master class in 2010.
Shawn Ryan And John Ainsworth
Are you making the kind of art that you envisioned you'd be making? 
Honestly, yes. At a young age, around 16 I had a vision and a dream of becoming a film maker. But growing up in small town Reno, Nevada it wasn’t really something that I thought I could accomplish. But the path of living one’s dream is very circuitous.

How would you describe the arts scene where you grew up? 
Limited. But it has gotten better in the last 20 years with the Reno Arts Council funding and supporting a burgeoning arts community.

Who was the most influential person on your work?


Do you recall some great parties in real living rooms where people got up and sang and told stories?
Yes. They tend to be in our living room and around the holiday and usually spurred on because of my talented husband.         

What are you most proud of?
My life, my love, and my family.        

What is the one song that resonates most with you?
I’m Glad There is You
I heard about your project, Sleep Away. Tell Me More! 
Sleep Away…it’s about CAMP! It’s a film that will take you back to those amazingly awkward tween-age years of everyone’s life. Children will find that it resonates to their daily experiences and parents will find themselves transported back in time to those truly special memories of their youth.

Holy moly! YATC is so excited to announce that Andrew Keenan-Bolger will be joining the Teaching Team at Camp this Summer!
Bringing his own experiences as a Broadway Star and as a Director, we are thrilled to have Andrew coming to work with our Campers! I saw him at Broadway Backwards last week and he stopped the show with Sixteen Going On Seventeen from The Sound of Music.  

From Newsies to Tuck Everlasting to Mary Poppins - this guy has
done it all and now will teach us his ways on the Great White Way!

In closing, I'd like to say that my intent is never to offend but we have to stop giving those who do, a free pass!

Life is so much better when you stop caring about what everyone thinks, and start to actually live for yourself!!

Sit back! A new news cycle is about to begin!

I Can Get It For You Wholesale opened on this date on Broadway (1962)

Thank you, to ALL who are mentioned in this blog for showing me that it is up to ME to lead by example!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

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

Richard Skipper Celebrates...The Birthday of EY (Yip) Harburg.

The cast includes Karen Oberlin, Leslie Orofino, Maureen Kelley Stewart,A MYSTERY GUEST...and a few more surprises! With musical direction by Daryl Kojak (with Rex Benincasa on percussion, and Jeff Carney on bass). The Laurie Beechman Thater 1PM April 8th.

Keeping America great through Art!

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


Richard Skipper, 

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