Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Richard Skipper Celebrates JohnTrujillo and Three Sisters

John Trujillo

“Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” – Frederick B. Wilcox

Happy Tuesday April 4th, 2017!
April 4 is the 94th day of the year. There are 271 days remaining until the end of the year.
The day started out very rainy here in New York but the rain is subsiding. As I sit down to begin today's blog, I'm listening to Johnny Cash singing I Walk The Line in the background.
It seems to be my lot today! I'm truly overwhelmed with so much! 
Still dying to be at the opening night of Hello, Dolly! I have been putting that out to the universe since it was first announced. Don't
Only the Universe knows if I will be at The Shubert Theater on April 20th!
think I have a 'connection' with this musical, check out CallonDolly.com.

A friend of mine has been bidding through Charity Buzz for opening night tickets. As of this writing, they are going for $10,000! She tells me, "it's not over till it's over", but I'm trying to protect myself from a huge disappointment. 
On top of that, I spent an entire weekend for a photo (that doesn't exist) for an article that SOMEONE ELSE is writing on the subject! When does that stop in my life?

I wear my emotions on my sleeve. What you see is what you get. I had a publicist tell me yesterday that some outlets won't pick up my press release with my name attached!
Another Dolly! (Just for the fun of it!) Betty Grable
It seems that I may have burned some bridges behind me. There are some who might question my putting this out there but if it is not addressed, it continues. My sole mission in life is to celebrate others. If I have hurt anyone, or offended anyone, or perhaps you just don't like me on my journey, I apologize. I am only trying to do the best I can. If I have made mistakes along the way, I'm sorry. As I move forward, I hope we can ALL celebrate each other and stop putting obstacles out there that are not needed. 

Tonight, I celebrate Scott Barbarino at The Metropolitan Room in This Is Your Night. Tomorrow, I fly to LA to celebrate Jezebel as the kick off to the Turner Classic Movie Film Festival. On Saturday, I celebrate E. Y. (Yip) Harburg. But before all of that, today, I celebrate John Trujillo and his current production of The Three Sisters. Enjoy his journey!

The cast of Three Sisters featuring John Trujillo at The Russian Arts Theater and Studio through Sunday.
John grew up in Palo Alto, CA. Graduated 1992 from San Diego State with a BA History, MA in Political Science in 2002 from San Francisco State University. Started out performing stand-up in 2002. 
Came to NYC in 2005. Taught political science at CUNY schools, mostly BMCC for 10 years. Studied improv at UCB and Magnet Theatre. Shifted focus to acting and singing in 2010. 

Has performed 2 solo cabaret shows here in NY: "From NY to NY and Back Again," and The Ties that Bind." Performed Off-Broadway musicals Honestly Abe as Tom Lincoln, Yankee Peddler as Papa. Also George, and in Tchaikovsky as Rubenstein. played Scrooge in the 13th St Rep's production of A Christmas Carol and La Muse Venale's production of Guns, Shackles, and Winter Coats as the Vietnam Vet. Can currently be seen in the Russian Theater's production of Three Sisters, and in KBO Productions upcoming WWII musical Seven Day's Between Heaven and Hell.
Three Sisters: Photo by Asya Danilova — with Reanna Armellino, Olga Ginzburg, Roman Freud, Michael Donaldson, Kseniya Vesenniya, Conor Martin Mulligan, John Trujillo, Jo Anne Ligon Sellers, Boris Brownstein, Ekaterina Golovina, David A. Russell, Maiia Gorohova and Ariel Polanco.

Tell us about this this production of Three Sisters
Why THIS project?

Well, like many productions, it's just an opportunity I took...but there is a little backstory to it. A few years ago, I was cast in a production of  Three Sisters as Vershinin. It was with a relatively inexperienced director, though, who was probably in over his head with this production...
We had rehearsed for three weeks, and I was falling in love with the character, Vershinin...Well, the production was cancelled three weeks into rehearsal...No money.

Although, it was probably for the best...I could see how difficult the classic material of the great
Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov was...and I don't think we would have done it justice...

Well, last December, a director friend of mine, Aleksey Burago (whom I had studied with at HB Studio) mentioned he was doing the play this spring and needed a Vershinin, I jumped at the chance at redemption!...And I thought that this was the right man to handle this material (And, as it turns out, I couldn't have been more right!). Aleksey, a Russian native, is such a purist when it comes to theater - and especially Chekhov!...He was trained in Moscow Academy of Theater Arts (GITIS).

Aleksey BuragoWith John Trujillo, Di Zhu, Michael Donaldson, David A. Russell, Ariel Polanco and Roman Freud.

John auditioned for him and Di Zhu for the role of Vershinin...but alas, as he says, "fell just short".Aleksey liked his audition, but said he decided to go in another direction...Well, as we've all learned with theater, it's never over until it's over...John, like any classy actor, wished him good luck and said if anything changes let him know.

Well, in late January, Di Zhu contacted John and said, someone dropped out, and he needed someone to play, Kulygin, another character in the play...It wasn't Vershinin, but John still just wanted to be a part of this wonderful play.

And that's how John ended up in this show playing Kulygin...And he says that he is glad it turned out this way. He absolutely LOVES the actor they have playing Vershinin, Roman Freud. John says that he is amazing. According to John, he brings a combination of strength, vulnerability, and playfulness to the character that is so beautiful and John feels like Kulygin is just a better role for himself.

And this production has exceeded even my lofty expectations...This play is not for inexperienced hands...Aleksey's direction and understanding of Chekhov has been so vital...It is such a beautiful production...I have actually seen people leaving the theater in tears...
Three Sisters — with Jo Anne Ligon Sellers, Michael Donaldson, Toni Goldman, Di Zhu, John Trujillo, Reanna Armellino, Ekaterina Golovina and Ariel Polanco.
Finish this sentence: I'm very bad at... Learning my lines...It's the least fun part of acting...but it's critical, obviously...I always wait until someone gives me a deadline before really committing to be off-book...Although, it's always so freeing once you really get your lines down and you can bring action and subtext to your words...and that's when you really start to meld with the character...
With Michael Donaldson, Reanna Armellino, Roman Freud, Toni Goldman, Hazen Cuyler, John Trujillo, Aleksey Burago, James fordyce, Ekaterina Golovina, LuisaPuma Mua, David A. Russell and Jo Anne Ligon Sellers.

If you could be any person for one day, who would you be and what would you do?

I wish I could be one of the Beach Boys singing Don't Worry Baby on American Bandstand. I've watched that performance over and over again, and I always think how amazing that moment must have been. Art is about touching people's hearts and souls and I find that song - and so many of their songs - so moving, their incredible harmonies and the songs about young love inspired me and made me want to be a singer.

I used The Warmth of the Sun in my first cabaret show, From New York to New York and Back Again. Having grown up in California, it always makes me nostalgic for my life there when I was young.

If you had the opportunity to stand up for the NEA, what would you say?

A world without great artists is a dull world...Even places like China and Russia use public dollars to nurture artists...even they understand the need for art...We need to do MORE to encourage the arts!

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 that the proliferation of social media and sites like YouTube and SoundCloud have given artists platforms to find their audiences
better...and it nurtures and encourages more artists.
Getting his NYPD on. On the set of an independent film, Accommodations,with his co-partner Officer Galagara.
And while I love to see a great Broadway show where no expense is spared, I think the higher the costs rise to get a good show to stage, the more risky it becomes, and the less willing producers have been to take chances...

There are still great stage shows that take lots of risks - Hamilton is the latest example, and of course, it's been a huge success...but too many shows are trying to overthink what they think audiences will want to see...I think we all like to see something new and different...and I applaud those risk takers.

How important are the arts to you personally? 

Art is my life now. It's amazing to me to think that I would have thought the last thing I would have been was an actor, singer, and an artist. I did act and sing when I was young, but I always just saw it as something to do while I was in school. Professional acting and singing was for other people.

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

No. I started out as a stand-up comedian and I haven't done stand-up in over 10 years, but that doesn't matter to me. The more I explore the arts, the more it takes me to places I would have never expected and you just have to take the opportunity where it comes and run with it.

with Andrew Gruden
How would you describe the arts scene where you grew up?

I wouldn't say it was great...I grew up in Palo Alto, California...and we were lucky to attend what I would consider good public schools...but there was a nurturing of the arts...Classes were always putting on plays...singing in class...I was asked to join an All-City Choir of kids from all different schools in the district when I was in the 5th grade because I had earned a reputation as a good singer, I guess...and I never took it all that seriously, but we had a wonderful teacher...we sang 2-part harmonies...and I was always amazed at how good we sounded.

Who was the most influential person on your work?

So many of course...Singers: Cat Stevens, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Barry Manilow, Barbra Streisand...Actors: Matthew Broderick, Paul Newman, Jimmy Stewart...Comedians: Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Brian Regan, Ellen Degeneres..Directors: Frank Capra, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen.

Do you recall some great parties in real living rooms where people got up and sang and told stories?

I don't remember much singing...but I grew up in a big family and extended family...and in my father's family people are less reserved...and we like to tell stories...
Judith Ann Graham, Lauren Stanford, John Trujillo, Jessica Grové, Robin Dicker Westle, Cookie Stark, Sage Melcher and Andrew Gruden.

Do you feel like you’re playing a party in somebody’s living room when you are on stage. 

I can't say that. When I am on stage as an actor, I just try to live in the moment as if what were happening on stage was really happening. .I don't even think about the audience. I know they are there, but my character doesn't, so I try to live in my character's shoes..When I have done cabaret shows, I just try to be honest and real.

What are you most proud of?

I think I am most proud of the fact that I have learned to be a risk taker.. I was never one in high school or college. I was always playing it safe but I started to see that to succeed in significant ways you had to take risks and it was a great risk I took to come to New York City and I have struggled every step of the way but yet, I have persevered and am still pushing.

What is the one song that resonates most with you?
I was very moved by the song, No One is Alone by Sondheim from Into the Woods. I've never actually seen the show, but I didn't feel I needed to. The song is universal. I used it in my last cabaret show, The Ties that Bind. I sang it after talking about my oldest sister. There are five of us kids in  our family, but there is a bit of gap in ages between her and the rest of us who are all bunch in age. She said it sometimes made her feel alone..Whether people admit it, or not, the fear of being alone is in us all and sometimes we may feel it but yet.we are never alone but sometimes we need to be reminded.

What has most surprised you about being in a stage production (cabaret show, singing, etc)? 

I think it's wrong the stereotype of actors being vapid, not very smart. Actors arereally complicated and difficult, this line of work is.
Understanding complex characters, plays, and songs requires a great deal of study and the people you work with are quite sharp and often well educated and navigating your way through this
John and his musical performance teacher, Tony Award nominated actress, Lorraine Serabian
world is so much more complicated than being a college professor ever was for me..
Three Sisters has exceeded even my lofty expectations. This play is not for inexperienced hands. Aleksey's direction and understanding of Chekhov has been so vital. It is such a beautiful production. I have actually seen people leaving the theater in tears.

 Go This weekend to see John Trujillo and Three Sisters at The Russian Arts and Theater Studio.

They don't have the cast quite right on that site, though...Here is the updated cast list:

Andrey Sergeyevich Prozorov (Andrey).............David A. Russell
Olga Sergeyevich (Oldest of the three sisters)..Toni Goldman
Masha (Middle sister).........................................Di Zhu
Irina (Youngest sister).........................................Reanna Armellino
Natalya Ivavnova (Natasha)................................Ekaterina Golovina
Fyodor Ilyich (Kulygin)........................................John Trujillo
Alexander Ignatyevich (Vershinin).......................Roman Freud
Baron Nicholai Lyvovich (Tuzenbach).................Ariel Polanco
Vasily Vasilych (Solyoni)......................................Hazen Cuyler
Ivan Romanich (Chebutykin)...............................Michael Donaldson
Aleksey Petrovich (Fedotik)................................Boris Brownstein
Ferapont.............................................................James Fordyce
Anfisa.................................................................Jo Anne Sellers

Director: Aleksey Burago
The Balcony Theater
West Park Presbyterian Church
165 W86th Street
New York, New York 10024

Follow John on Twitter

I also Recommend the following shows

Craig Pomranz Reserve seats now - Craig @Cafe Noctambulo
Friday - April 7th - 7:00 PM (dinner served from 6:00 PM)
Friday - April 14th - 7:00 PM (dinner served from 6:00 PM)
Cafe Noctambulo at Pangea
"Tenor of the Times" * GQ Magazine * One of New York's most critically-acclaimed saloon singers"* New York Magazine * "The BEST male singer...his four-octave voice is alternately affecting, powerful, and nuanced; one of the finest instruments in the city.” * New York Post*
Craig Pomranz: Winner- MAC Award New York’s “Best Male Vocalist 2012”
is back from London and Los Angeles with his NEW show!

Sunday,April 9
12:00 noon - 2:30 pm
Doors open at 11:30 am
To Be Announced
34 West 22 Street, NYC
$15 Cover (CASH) & $10 Minimum
To be guaranteed a number to sing, simply make a phone reservation and arrive at the club by 11:50 am
Call for reservations any day after 1:00 pm
 212 206 - 0440.

Joshua Lance Dixon pays tribute to the infamous Rat Pack with his new show, PACK OF ONE. From the Hollywood beginnings to the swingin' lounges of Atlantic City and Las Vegas, The Rat Pack dominated show business for over 3 decades.
Back in the days when Vegas was dangerous and everybody smoked and drank, the Rat Pack ruled. The songs performed by Sammy, Frank and Dean, (no last names necessary) are some of the most beloved to come out of The Great American Songbook. Bistro Award winning vocalist, Dixon, breathes new life into classic hits from Fly Me to the Moon, and Luck Be a Lady, to Mister Bojangles and Everybody Loves Somebody, while capturing the white dinner jacket sophistication of a bygone era. With Direction by Lennie Watts and Musical Direction by Steven Ray Watkins, PACK OF ONE shows why Dixon took the top prize in Mama's Next BIG Act, 2016.

Praise for PACK OF ONE:
"Joshua lance Dixon has presence, charm, movie star looks, a glorious voice and lots of talent"

"Dixon has scored a winner."

"The singer who has great belt, has the sense to know when to use it....to get the most out of a lyric."

"Dixon is capable of great depth in communicating the story of a song."
        -Marilyn Lester from Cabaret Scenes Magazine
 Saturday, April 15th at 7:00 PM
Don't Tell Mama
343 West 46th Street
212-757-0788 or www.donttellmamanyc.com for reservations
$20 Cover ($15 for MAC members) plus 2 Drink Minimum (CASH ONLY)

Paul and Rochelle at the Movies - just 2 weeks away! April 17th at 7pm.
Paul and Rochelle Chamlin's new show is coming up soon so please reserve now if you plan to attend.
Reserving on The Metropolitan Room website is the preferred way -  there is a $5 discount when reserving online using the code "friends." Reserve HERE
or call 212-206-0440
$20 Cover/$25 food and beverage minimum.

Paul has mined his considerable sheet music "stash" and come up with some terrific songs from movies both familiar (Meet Me in St. Louis, Royal Wedding) and obscure (A Date With Judy, Agatha). The show is directed by the legendary Marilyn Maye, with Tom Hubbard on bass and Daniel Glass on percussion.
Visit www.thechamlins.com for videos, reviews, and more.

Save The Date: Frank Frizalone will be performing his Songs of Sinatra show at The Met RoomNYC
June 28th 7:PM Reservations required. Limited seating.

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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Keeping Entertainment LIVE!

Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

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