Friday, June 30, 2017

Don't Defer IT Until Tomorrow!

Used with Permission From The Margo Feiden Galleries
47 Days In Search of a Book Deal: CallonDolly.com
I believe the future is only the past again, through another gate.
- Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, English Dramatist  (1855-1934)

Happy Friday...Last Day of June! (June 30th, 2017)
June 30 is the 181st day of the year.
There are 184 days remaining until the end of the year. It is 9:39 AM to be exact as I start today's blog. I am winning because I am a good person.
The day that I am having has been created by design. The same can very much be said of the life I have created for myself. I pretty much had a knowledge of this 40 years ago. I still do but I need daily reminders and I still have to convince myself of this fact.
Approaching others with optimism allows me to connect with others and live happily.
I am not the person those who did not love me deemed me to be. That is one of the lessons of today's blog. 


My horoscope tells me that talking about everything I'm going to do actually gets in the way of my doing it. The 'WORD' for the day is INTERESTED . Think of this word as your mantra for the day. First apply the word to yourself, THEN apply this word to EVERYONE YOU meet. Think of this word as you respond to EVERY PERSON you see throughout the day. The 'word 'for TODAY is INTERESTED ! Please pay it forward...

Everything takes longer than I expect, leaving me short on time constantly.

I am stepping back from my commitments, reevaluating my recent plans, and reassessing the steps I must take to reach my
goals.

Words are meaningless without intent and determination. It is social media day. There are pluses and minuses to where this has brought us. I absolutely love social media and how much it has connected all of us.
I also despise social media and how it has absolutely thrown a monkey wrench into human interaction. I hate it, for example when I CALL someone and they respond with an email or text message!

Human interaction is what I crave! That's one of the main reasons I pursued the career that chose me and why I do what I do.

Today is a summer day in the greatest city in the world!

I still love this city 37 years after arriving here for the first time (August 5th, 1979). As I sat down to begin writing my blog today, I was listening to Nell Carter, Armelia McQueen and Charlayne Woodard sing "Off Time" on the 1978 Tony Awards. Ms. Carter won for Best Actress in a Musical that year.
It takes me right back to 1978 and '79 when it was on Broadway.

Interesting thought: June 30th, 1978 was also a Friday.
I was 18 and still living in South Carolina. I had a one way ticket to New York and in 36 days I would be leaving on a jet plane never to look back. As an 18-year-old in 1979 dreaming of a life in the theater, I was given valuable lessons in the respect of the theater.
Those lessons stay with me to this day and actually have a huge bearing on the work I do.
I've written about her in the past, but I had a great mentor in Miss Florence Epps. She took me under her wing after she first saw me on stage.
She had a playhouse in her backyard and I used to go after school on Wednesdays and Thursdays. If I had gone to my parents to tell them that I wanted to take drama and elocution lessons, they would have laughed and stood in the way, their usual response.
I don't say this asking for empathy or sympathy. It is simply a fact and part of the fabric of my life. My parents never supported my dreams nor did they ever take any interest in any aspect of my life.

My father passed away in 2002. I regret that we resolved our differences. As far as my mom is concerned (and family and relatives), I have accepted it as my lot in life. Years ago, I interviewed Carol Lawrence.
She told me that being in this business is the greatest elixir in the world. The more we get, the more we desire. The rub is whether or not the general public is buying. My family never bought what I'm selling.

Wayne Dyer  said, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."


Speaking of the way you look at things, the Quad Cinema in Manhattan is showing a Barbra Streisand film festival next week.
On Wednesday night, one of my favorite Streisand films, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, is being shown.

I love seeing these films in the manner in which they were meant to be seen.: in a movie theater with an audience!

When I first came to New York in the summer of '79, it was in the days before VCRS, DVDs, and Turner Classic Movies.
There were revival houses all over NYC, the Regency, Carnegie Hall Cinema, the Thalia, the Film Forum, to name a few.   I would go through the papers to see what was playing where and would plan my week around these great classic films.
 
I went to see a classic film or two almost every Sunday and sometimes as well during the week.
What memories!At my very first audition in New York, for Woody Allen's Stardust Memories (I did not get a part), I met Millie Brown. I've written about her in previous blogs. She became one of my frequent movie partners. As a matter of fact, the first time I saw On a Clear Day..., it was with Millie.
Melinda Winifred Tentries, but I gravitate towards Daisy Gamble
I saw so many movies this way.
I don't even remember which theater it was or where exactly it was located. I know it was in the West Village and I practically flew home after seeing this film.
Not only did you have a perfect trifecta with Streisand, costumes, story, and songs, but most of the film is set against the backdrop in the seventies.


The Daisy Gamble character is what resonated with me. She also had an ability to look into the past with accute clarity!
Being that age in the 70s in NYC is something that is, of course, glamorized in the film. Where does the time go?
47 years ago, in 1970, I was 8 years old and living in South CarolinaNew York, at that time, may or may not have been in my scheme of thinking.

New York, and the world, was changing. 1970 would be the year of the first Gay Pride March. It was before Studio 54 and the Disco Era, it was long before AIDS.
My sweetness was not a weakness when I first arrived in NY. It may be slightly coarser now due to life experiences but it is still there. When I arrived in New York at the age of eighteen, there was no one greener or more naive! That naivety, I believe saved my life.
Knowing the person I am today, it might be hard for anyone who knows me personally to believe that I did not know I was gay! I was the most asexual person to ever emerge out of Conway, South Carolina. I never went on a date. My last year in SC, and thanks to getting involved with the Upstage Company at Coastal Carolina, I had somewhat of a social life. That was the year I met Beth Mahar, still one of my best friends and one of the greatest people I have ever known.
From the moment she met me, she accepted me for just being me!
 
According to her, she had seen me the previous year as Roberts, the butler, in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, with The Theater of the Republic, our hometown theater.
I did a slow turn to the audience that stopped the show and brought down the house.

She said at that moment, she knew she had to work with me.
 Move forwards a year. As a result of my role as Roberts, I started getting cast in larger, mostly character, parts. I would go on to do The Night of January Sixteenth by Ayn Rand, one of my favorites, Cheaper By The Dozen, and Oliver!One afternoon, going home on the bus, Victoria Kujala, a friend told me about a play she was doing at the college called Marat/Sade.
I had never heard about it. She told me they were looking for a lot of people to play the inmates in the asylum.
That was something I could do. She told me that night that there would be a read through and that I should just show up. She was sure there was something in it for me.

I went home and the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was. I walked to the college, about 25 minutes away.As I was walking up the steps into the small performance space, Beth, whom I had never met before, came running in my name yelling, "Are you Ricky Skipper?"
When I acknowledged who I was, she told me to apologize for my mom for hanging up on her.
She had called my mom to ask me to come and audition for the show. When my mom told me I was already on my way to the theater, she dropped everything to get there. Beth was going to be the stage manager of the show, and having remembered me, thought I would be great for The Herald, which is essentially the narrator and story teller of the show.
Beth had more faith in me than I ever would have! This role was the antithesis of everything I had done up to this point AND was in verse!
I was introduced to the director, Cynthia, and asked to stick around and they would hear me read.
It was very different than anything I had ever experienced with Theater of the Republic!
Before any type of a read or run through, we all sat in a circle and acknowledged each other. A golden chalice was also passed around with white wine in which everyone took a sip. I had definitely moved to a whole new realm, on many levels. After everyone left, Beth, Cynthia, and myself stuck around so I could read through it. It was more a formality than anything else.
I think the decision had already been made based on Beth's recommendation.
Loved Judy Garland and the world of Musical Comedy!
I barely read a few lines when I was asked if I would like to play the part. I was excited and scared at the same time. That has always been the case with anything new that I try in life. I went home that night and read through the script and had no idea what I was reading! I started committing everything to memory.
I can still recite the opening monologue to this day because of the amount of work I put into this character. The more I worked on it, the more anxious I became as to whether or not I would be able to pull it off. One of the things that I LOVED about Cynthia Hodel's approach as a director was that we spent weeks in improvisation before we even got to the script.
By the time we got to the script, we had a solid handle on as to who we as these characters were.
My biggest fear was what if THEY didn't like me. It consumed every waking and sleeping moment of my life.
Thank God for Beth. She kept assuring me that I was going to be great.
She spent hours grilling me on my lines and never once complained. The entire script was in verse.
What if I forgot a line!?!?!
Well, that's exactly what happened! Opening night, the actor portraying Fran├žois Simonet de Coulmier comes out to welcome the audience. The entire company comes bounding out on stage to take our places. As soon as I took my first position, my mind went completely blank! I don't think I could have told anyone my name if I had been asked!
A childlike curiosity has always propelled me forward

However, the moment that I was given my cue, as if by magic, the words began to flow. I felt as if I were flying! It was a zen moment that I have felt many times since then on stage, but at that moment it was a feeling that I can't describe.

It was there and I'll never forgot the ovation we all received at the end of the evening.
One thing that I had forgotten about until I started writing this blog today.
Before we opened, because of the nature of the play, we had to give a special performance for the board and faculty to deem whether or not we could open the show. Thank God, they gave us the go ahead.
If You Believe

This show came along at the right time in my life. It was the perfect storm in terms of building self esteem in me. It convinced me that I WAS truly an actor. Also, because of the friends that I made and worked with on this show, it gave me a sense of belonging.

All through school, I never fit in. No one knew what to make of me. Even when I was at Theater of the Republic, with every role I played, I felt like I was constantly trying to prove myself. The funny thing is that 37 years later, I still feel this.
Writing The Next Chapter!
As I type these words, I am in an office surrounded by awards, accolades,photographs, and testimonials. Those don't really mean anything to anyone but me. It does show me, however, of where I've been. It also tells me that I can go forward and be prepared for the next chapter! I'm ready!

I never gave up! Persistence and stubbornness are underrated tools for lifelong success.
I'm throwing back the curtain and showing my followers the little man behind the Wizard who is always trying to put forth a positive image of a man. 

Let's Be Friends! I promise you a great experience!

Today's blog is dedicated to Susan Hayward who was born on this date in 1917.

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

Though I have not have the great fortune to see Richard's show's live (Please come to
Vegas!!!)   I do have the great fortune of calling him one of my dearest friends. And that dear ones, is  a great blessing indeed.   Richard is a blessing to all who he encounters.   His positivity   will help you through the hardest of days.   Truly one in a million :)  May God continue to bless all you do! 

Love,
Jamie Farrar

With Annie 'Equalty' Hughes

Congratulations Richard Skipper and Russ Woolley on another wonderful "Richard Skipper Celebrates" production at the Laurie Beechman Theater on 6/18/17. Wonderful production, wonderful host, and wonderful guests. How can it get better than that? It can't! See you in September.
Craig Witham, Philadelphia, Pa

Big congrats to Richard Skipper and Russ Woolley on another terrific show (6/18/17)! It seems impossible, but the shows just keep getting better and better! How to improve on perfection??! Such an amazing group of talented performers and an audience that is enthralled and exhilarated. And you, Richard Skipper, are the icing on the proverbial cake. You are not only talented, handsome and passionate, but you have an uncanny ability to bring people together,and make us all want to be the best selves we can be. The love and respect in the room is palpable. It is a pleasure and honor to be part of your shows!
Pamela Singer, NYC 

 
Russ Woolley proudly presents Richard Skipper Celebrates – September 10th celebrating the birthdays of Adele Astaire,  Robert Wise , Harry Groener, AND SO MUCH MORE! Sunday, September 10th 1 pm at The Laurie Beechman Theatre below The West Bank Cafe at 407 West 42 Street. Richard will be joined by Ann Dawson, Emily McNamara, Ben Rimalower...AND a Mystery Guest! This is a 1PM SHOW! (90 minutes) At The Laurie Beechman Theater Reservations a Must! Please SAVE THE DATE .$30 Cover and $20 Minimum per person.

From fabulous musical direction Rich Siegel and The Richard Skipper Celebrates band (Jeff Carney on bass and Rex Benincasa on percussion ). Do yourself a favor and CELEBRATE!
The afternoon is also made possible by Wright Bros. Real Estate.
https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/968230 

 

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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Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com









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