Friday, March 31, 2017

Judi Mark, Lucille Carr-Kaffashan, The Chita Rivera Awards...and MORE!

If you're not having fun, you're doing something wrong.
Groucho Marx

Happy Friday, March 31st, 2017!
March 31 is the 90th day of the year. There are 275 days remaining until the end of the year.
It is a rainy day here in New York and I am listening to Jenny Burton and The Jenny Burton Experience singing I Want My Life Back as I embark on today's blog. Today is the last day of Women's History Month - There have been and are many women who inspire me. Some of those women are mentioned in this blog in bold.
Jenny was someone I knew in the early days of my cabaret career.
Our paths were always crisscrossing at Don't Tell Mama, a place where I made my cabaret debut.
I frequently find myself 'going home'.

This past Sunday night, I went to see Sharon McNight who was doing a show celebrating her beginnings at Don't Tell Mama in 1987, a few years before I began.
Tomorrow night, I head back for a double header, Leslie Orofino at 5PM and Lynne Charnay, celebrating her 90th birthday, at 7PM.
with Leslie Orofino and her fabulous trio
Sat., April 1 at 5:00 and Thurs. April 20 at 7:00 at Don't Tell Mama's.
Daryl Kojak ~ piano, John Loehrke ~ bass and Rex Benincasa on drums. Beloved Sidney Myer will be their guest singer on April 1. Directed by Louis Pietig.
Dedicated to Miss Julie Wilson.
Reserve today after 4pm call 212-757-0788 or

Actress/Singer, Leslie Orofino has been enchanting sold out audiences with her sultry voice from New York City's legendary
Algonquin's Hotel's Oak Room (now defunct) to Napa Valley's Silverado Country Club for over 20 years. Ms. Orofino has several critically acclaimed
cabaret acts and appears with her trio in nightclubs, theaters and benefits.
International Cabaret Star, Julie Wilson exclaimed, " She's a winner...Leslie has a certain elegance mixed with sex appeal that sells each and every song. She's also a great comedian."

Some of Leslie's s musical theater credits range from lead roles as Sharon in Finian's Rainbow, as Mother Abbess in the Sound of Music, Miss Hannigan in Annie, Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, Meg Broke in Brigadoon at the St. Bart's Players in N.Y.C. to the Westport Country Playhouse as Kay Goodman in Nite Club Confidential.

Dave Nathan said of Ms. Orofino's CD , Moonlight Cocktails, "She delivers each and every song with ease and aplomb. Solid cabaret
and highly recommended." Available on

This has been an exciting month for Lucille Carr-Kaffashan! Lucille Carr Kaffashan is an interesting cabaret performer who understand lyric. She is also smart in her singing choices. Her material is from currant female singer/songwriters of the day and I have to admit, I did not know most of this material, which is rich in context and melodic in tone. She is backed by an incredible band consisting of Musical Director and Pianist, Jeff Cubeta, Sean Harkness on Guitar and Matt Scharfglass on Bass, the audience was transported into the emotionality of the material without worrying about vocal techniques or arrangements. Ms. Kaffashan has a wonderful range and a voice that soothes.  (Source: Times Square Chronicles)

Lucille and musical director Jeff Cubeta were both honored with Bistro Awards at the 32nd annual Bistro Awards show and ceremony on March 13th. Jeff’s award is for “Musical Direction”, and her was for Outstanding Theme Show for her most recent cabaret production, Unwritten, Celebrating 21st Century Female Singer-Songwriters.

To celebrate their awards, and just because this show is so much fun, they are bringing Unwritten
Jeff Cubeta
back to Don’t Tell Mama for two performances, on Saturday, April 29 and Thursday, May 4, at 7 pm. Please join them and and their incredible musicians Sean Harkness and Matt Scharfglass. Unwritten features a mix of joyful, touching, thought-provoking and laughter-inducing 21st century songs written by outstanding artists such as Adele, Sara Bareilles, Susan Werner, Meghan Trainor and Tracy Chapman.

All the details are in the flyer (pictured) . If you’ve seen the show before and would like to see it again, contact Lucille and she'll happily arrange to waive the cover charge for you!

Times Square Chronicles:  “…Ms. Carr-Kaffashan has great interpretation that brings the music alive in so many ways…definitely a singer to catch and to follow to see where she goes next… She has the chops…the talent and…the charisma that audiences will fall in love with.”

Theater Pizzazz: “…a witty and moving musical exploration”

Also coming up in April:

April 30th 4pm – Lucille will be a guest performer in the Ann McCormack/Woody Regan show “Groovin” at Don’t Tell Mama

There's a lot happening in the world of entertainment and I want to share some of it with you today.
Fred and Adele Astaire Awards Renamed to Honor Broadway Legend Chita Rivera by Andy Lefkowitz - The formerly named Fred and Adele Astaire Awards will be re-established as The Chita Rivera Awards for Dance and Choreography, the nonprofit American Dance Machine announced. ... Now carrying the namesake of a two-time Tony-winning dance icon, the Chita Rivera Awards will be presented under the auspices of American Dance Machine, an organization dedicated to the preservation of great musical-theater choreography. (Source: Broadway Briefing)

Highly Recommended: SALON – that unique, MULTIPLE AWARD WINNING, Weekly Open Mic Event, created and hosted by Mark Janas will return to Etcetera, Etcetera - 352 West 44th Street, NYC 10036 – on Sunday, April 2nd from 7-10:00PM. (Sign-Up Begins at 6:15.)songs written by outstanding artists such as Adele, Sara Bareilles, Susan Werner, Meghan Trainor and Tracy Chapman.

Scott Barbarino has truly been an asset in the NYC entertainment scene AND to ME and deserves the honor and respect by his friends and fellow entertainers. I'm even singing a song! Come and celebrate the life and contributions made by Mr. Barbarino on Tuesdaynight, April 4th. Show your support by calling Metropolitan Room at 212.206.0440
$10 OFF for MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs)  Members.
Up On The Marquee: THE LITTLE FOXES.
 Manhattan Theatre Club's new Broadway production of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes under the direction of Tony Award winner Daniel Sullivan, is currently in previews at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Laura Linney (Time Stands Still, Sight Unseen) and Cynthia Nixon (Rabbit Hole, Wit), will alternate playing the roles of Regina and Birdie, appearing opposite each other at every performance. (Source:

I think Robert Osborne is smiling down on me! OMG! Look what just happened to me. I normally don't win things!

"Hello Richard! Congrats! You were picked by our judges as the winner of the TCM Backlot “Introduce a Movie at TCMFF” contest. "'They really liked your video – your clear love of Jezebel, your ease in front of a camera, your natural stage presence – and your jacket, I must add."
Yacov Freedman TCM Backlot Manager Thank you

If you happen to be in South Florida tomorrow (No Fooling!) Saturday April 1
JayCee Driesen will be performing at The Festival Marketplace
2900 W Sample Road Pompano Beach Showtime 1:00 pm

This is a Free Concert so bring your friends!
Singing And Shopping makes her a Happy Girl!!

A fun afternoon will be had by all...

Today, my Featured Artist Is Judi Mark!

Judi Mark returns to the Boca Black Box Theater with an EXCITING new show: an evening of song, dance, and special guest artists with the Phil Hinton Trio!
Buy Tickets Here

Please save the date: April 5, Wednesday, 7-9 PM in Boca Raton, Florida.

Over the course of her long career in show business, performer Judi Mark has sung and danced her way through dinner theaters, cabarets and distinguished venues like The Algonquin and The Copacabana. Mark pulled together many of her experiences on the stage into her one-woman show, 'Judi Mark: Dancing Through Life," which paid tribute to the singers and dancers who inspired her throughout her career. Now, Mark is back with her newest one-woman show, I Feel a Song Coming On.
This tribute to old Broadway and Hollywood nostalgia at the Boca Black Box in Boca Raton features music by The Phil Hinton Trio, among other special guests.

Judi tells me that it's time for a NEW show with the focus on

Entertainment, SONG, DANCE SPECIAL GUESTS, A TRIO…  The more the merrier!

Finish this sentence: I'm very bad at... promoting myself.

Who are Judi's artistic heroes – who have had an impact on her and your work? Liza Minnelli inspired Judi in her early days.  Also triple threat and comedic dancers like Shirley MacLaine. And, SHE LOVES LUCY!

One thing Judi would like to change about this profession and why.

I question if it is a “Profession”. 
The business seems extremely political, driven by money and exploitation of artists. Equity, SAG-AFTRA and others protect their members but Cabaret artists are not protected.
I heard that in the good old day there used to be agents and managers that really nurtured and helped performing artists and then got paid for their work.  
Now, an artist is vulnerable and exploited for the amount of money they can bring to the agent already packaged.

What is it about the business that Judi thinks has changed for the better...and for the worst since she began in it?

Performing opportunities and venues have increased throughout the country. And that is good.  The worst is trying to get an agent who will be helpful and motivated.

How important are the arts to you personally?

Very important.  It has been my life’s work. 

Are you making the kind of art that you envisioned you'd be making?

It is always evolving in a creative and fun way.

How would you describe the arts scene where you grew up?

My mother was a pianist so live music was a daily listening and bonding experience. Classical ballet was a must for me but a trek to get to classes from the suburbs to downtown in Chicago. Community musical theater was a place for me to perform.  My father was an electronic engineer and owned a recording company and label. He managed singers when I was young and they played in ‘grown up venues’ in Chicago. It seemed mysterious, glamorous and intriguing to my young self.
Judi Mark and Jeff Harnar. Photo by: Rose Billings/
Who was the most influential person on your work?

My mother. Her grace, style and touch of the piano keys was something I admired as a young girl.  I liked her taste in music too-from classical to show tunes and popular.  She also wrote songs.

Do you recall some great parties in real living rooms where people got up and sang and told stories?
No.  We had to remove our shoes.  No parties there.  It was more like a museum.  I remember a statue of THE Venus De Milo in the living room. I realized at a young age that it was important to keep my figure.

Do you feel like you’re playing a party in somebody’s living room when you are on stage.
Not yet but I’m going in that direction! 

What are you most proud of?
I have accomplished so much as a performing artist: dancing, singing, acting, teaching, producing concerts and event.  I take pride on being independent.  I am also proud of my work teaching literally thousands of students that have become successful in the performing arts.

What is the one song that resonates most with you?
Today’s song: I Feel A Song Coming On

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

Maureen Kelley Stewart had her own successful show celebrating EY Harburg
Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.” — E. Y. “Yip” Harburg

Let's Celebrate: Richard Skipper Celebrates E.Y. (YIP) HARBURG ON HIS BIRTHDAY! April 8th at 1PM at The Laurie Beechman Theater. 

Russ Woolley proudly presents Richard Skipper Celebrates...EY (YIP) HARBURG ON HIS BIRTHDAY!

Richard will be joined by Karen Oberlin, Leslie Orofino, Maureen Kelley Stewart AND...A MYSTERY GUEST

All under the musical Direction of Daryl Kojak with Rex Benincasa on percussion and Jeff Carney on bass. This is a 1PM SHOW! (90 minutes) At The Laurie Beechman Theater Reservations a Must! Please ReserveToday

Nobody celebrates legends like Richard Skipper.
The interior of the Laurie Beechman Theatre
If one of your faves is being feted, there's nowhere on earth more fun to be. And honestly even if you don't care about the honoree, master showman Richard and his talented crew serve up a fabulously good time.
-Ben Rimalower

$30 Cover and $20 Minimum per person

You Never Know Who You Might See There and what might happen!


Sit Back! A New News Cycle Is About to Begin!

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!  

Keeping America great through Art!     

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

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