Happy Thursday, February 22nd, 2018!
February 22 is the 53rd day of the year . There are 312 days remaining until the end of the year
As I sit down to write today's blog I'm listening to the soundtrack of Gone With The Wind.
Right now as I write this, it is 43 degrees with a chance of sleet in the forecast. As I enjoy the music of the past, I celebrate the next generation. On Monday night, I went to see Linda Purl at Birdland. WOW! A 16 piece band. THIS is the way this music was meant to be celebrated.
Today's blog is devoted to Paul Dooley who's birthday is today.
Today in 1965, the first television remake of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella - the only Rodgers and Hammerstein musical written for television - starring Lesley Ann Warren premiered on CBS!
Here is a blog I wrote about this three years ago. As I celebrate the past, I honor and look forward to the future.
Writing gives me opportunities let close friends know how I feel about them.
Taking the time to let the special people in your life know how important they are to you serves to bring joy to everyone. This blog offers me the same opportunities.
I have a platform to celebrate great artists. Three such artists are Emily Ellet, James Gavin, Nicole Zuraitis.
Emily Ellet is a New York City-based, SAG/AFTRA actor, singer, and audiobook narrator. She is the 2017 MetroStar Talent Challenge winner at the Metropolitan Room in New York City.
She earned her Bachelor of the Arts in Theatre, with minors in music and dance, from Principia College, has performed regionally and off-Broadway, and was the original Cat in Stephen Schwartz's Magic To Do on the Ruby Princess. She has studied with Craig Carnelia, DB Bonds, Matt Farnsworth, and Sally Wilfert. She has worked as an audiobook narrator since 2009, with a list of over 140 audiobooks completed. Emily is a proud member of P.E.O., a philanthropic educational organization providing scholarships to enable women across the world to pursue their educational goals.
Jeff Cubeta, the show features musical theatre, jazz, and pop favorites from Jerry Herman to Sara Bareilles, including what BroadwayWorld called her “dazzlingly original interpretation” of the 80s disco anthem “It’s Raining Men,” which clinched Ellet's win in the Metropolitan Room’s 2017 MetroStar Talent Challenge cabaret competition.
What trends in the entertainment world do you see, and where do you think the industry is heading?
Oh, that's a tough question! I feel somewhat unqualified to answer it, given my age.
But even in my handful of years here in NYC and on a cruise ship, I've definitely noticed the trend towards jukebox-style cabaret shows. They're so much easier to sell because the audience knows they like the music before they even buy a ticket. I confess that even as an audience member, I find it much simpler to decide on seeing a "Bruce Springsteen" or "Doris Day" show than the more standard, vaguely titled cabaret show. Which is no comment on the quality of the show - just on the ease of decision-making! So I doubt that will go away anytime soon. I also see the world of cabaret embracing a lot more pop in general! Standards are classics for a reason, but there really are a lot of pop songs that have become equally beloved nowadays, and as the younger generation (like myself) comes into the industry, we'll probably bring with us a lot more of the music WE know as standards.
I love it! Seeing the light go on in someone's eyes when they connect to the material they're singing on a personal level is almost more addictive than performing. It's also so rewarding to mentor younger singers, whether that's giving them information about the various aspects of the business (for example, how many different types of careers you can have within the big umbrella of show business) or offering them an overview of New York City apartment hunting if they're just moving here. I struggled to find mentors when I began in this business, and so I've always got an eye out for others who hunger for more information about this world. As far as the community goes, I've done a few concerts at retirement homes, and I would absolutely love to do more.
It's just hard to find a pianist who's equally interested in volunteering their time and skills!
Wow, you're coming at me with the big guns!
Hmmm, well, I guess I would like to be remembered as someone who touched people emotionally - as a performer, as a coach/mentor, and just as a person. Those moments of connection are what we're all thirsting for, so I'd love to think that I succeeded once or twice in my lifetime.
What great challenges did you have in creating your current project?
The hardest thing about creating "Uncharted" with Jeff and Stearns was allowing myself to create the show without any preconceived notions (which is very "meta," haha). Jeff and I spent several months throwing musical spaghetti at the wall - I'd bring in ten to fifteen really disparate songs, and we'd just sing through things to see what we liked. I had a panic moment when we first presented our "final" list to Stearns, though! I thought, oh my gosh, there's no show here!
Fortunately, that's what a wonderful director and musical director can help you find. We just kept digging until the show appeared. The other great challenge was letting go of material that I just LOVED. We spent a long time trying to figure out how to get the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song into the show, for example, and in the end, we just had to let it go. But it formed the spine of the show, even if we never play a note of it.
Getting to meet my niece (our family's first grandbaby), and spending as much time with her as possible. She's officially the cutest, sweetest, happiest, laughiest baby I've known.
I adore her!
What's your favorite place to escape to within NYC?
Tryon Park off the 190th stop of the A-line. I used to live up there and every morning, I went running up the stairs in the park, then stopped to breathe in the charming Heather Garden at the top, then continued running through the huge trees with the gorgeous view up the Hudson River and finally ran down past the Cloisters. You are utterly transported out of Manhattan, and it's quiet and beautiful and has the most gorgeous views of the sunset through the George Washington Bridge. I can't recommend it highly enough. It's truly an escape!
“Gavin numbers among the rare breed of biographer capable of tremendous style and substance, meticulous about detail and accuracy yet blessed with exceptional storytelling élan.” (Christopher Loudon, MacLean’s)
Called “a killer biographer” in the Hollywood Reporter, James Gavin is the author of four acclaimed books and dozens of New York Times features; he is a worldwide public speaker, a Grammy nominee, and a recipient of two ASCAP Deems Taylor-Virgil Thomson Awards for excellence in music journalism. In her New York Times review of his most recent book, Is That All There Is?: The Strange Life of Peggy Lee (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, 2014), Anita Gates called Gavin’s biography “eminently readable ... fascinating, suspenseful, musically detailed and insightful.” Publisher’s Weekly pronounced it “raucously entertaining, full of evocative scenes, wry humor, and exasperated sympathy.” The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Appelo chose it as one of the top ten music books of 2014.
Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne (Atria Books, 2009), was termed “magnificent ... gripping, marvelously written” by Liz Smith, who added: “[It] may just be one of the best biographies about show business, race, love, sex, and music ever written.” Oprah Winfrey chose it as one of her Top 25 Summer Reads. On May 12, 2010, Los Angeles District Councilman Bernard C. Parks honored Gavin with a proclamation from the city that had made Horne famous.
In the New York Times, David Hajdu described Gavin’s Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker (Knopf, 2002; republished by Chicago Review Press in 2011) as “almost unbearably vivid.” The Hollywood Reporter proclaimed it “a landmark in entertainment biography”; while in Salon, Greil Marcus called the book “a singular work of biographical art ... There is not a page that is not engaging, alive, demanding a response from a reader whether that be a matter of horror or awe.” Deep in a Dream has been published in England, Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, France, and Brazil as well as in the U.S.
Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of New York Cabaret (Grove Weidenfeld, 1991; Back Stage Books, 2006) won Gavin his first ASCAP Deems Taylor-Virgil Thomson Award, along with raves from Liz Smith (“a treasure trove … a real beat of the heart of New York”), John S. Wilson of the New York Times (“vividly reported ... etched in acid”), and Gerald Nachman of the San Francisco Chronicle (“Wild and wistful ... a remarkably informed, insightful, definitive look at Manhattan nightlife”).
Manhattan-born and a graduate of Fordham University, Gavin is a much-published freelance journalist.
Aside from the New York Times, he has written for Vanity Fair, Time Out New York, the Daily Beast, and JazzTimes. His subjects have included Annie Lennox, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, John Legend, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Miriam Makeba, Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, Ned Rorem, Edith Piaf, Karen Carpenter, and Jacques Brel. Gavin's 2015 feature for JazzTimes, “The Gates of the Underworld: Inside Slugs’ Saloon, Jazz’s Most Notorious Nightclub," earned him his second ASCAP Deems Taylor-Virgil Thomson Award.
He has contributed liner notes to over 500 CDs; his essay for the GRP box set Ella Fitzgerald – The Legendary Decca Recordings was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Gavin has appeared in several documentaries, including an E! True Hollywood Story on Doris Day and Anita O’Day: The Life and Times of a Jazz Singer. He wrote and narrated a French TV documentary, Chet by Claxton, on legendary jazz photographer William Claxton and his muse, Chet Baker.
Gavin has made hundreds of radio appearances, including multiple interviews on NPR, the BBC, and Australia’s ABC Network; he has been seen on the Today show, Good Morning America, and PBS NewsHour. Since 2011, Gavin has toured as narrator, host, and author of Stormy Weather: The Life and Music of Lena Horne, a show that stars former Supreme Mary Wilson.
Aside from his Stormy Weather show, he has created and hosted shows based on all his other books, featuring Blossom Dearie, Nellie McKay, Jane Monheit, Mark Murphy, Andy Bey, Mx. Justin Vivian Bond and Kenny Mellman (something known as Kiki and Herb), Spider Saloff, Oscar Brown, Jr., and others.
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (West Palm Beach, FL), the Miller Outdoor Theater (Houston, TX), the Castro Theater (San Francisco, CA), and Joe’s Pub (NYC).
Tell me something about yourself that I don't know.
There's a lot about me you don't know! :)
But to go back to the beginning, I was adopted at the age of two and a half months from the New York Foundling Home in Manhattan, where I was born. I don't know all the details, but I do know that my mother was unwed.
The first great rejection in life! It left its mark, believe me. I have never tried to find my birth parents. I find it much safer to investigate the lives of other people.
According to ancestrydna.com, though, I am 96% Eastern European - probably a mixture of Polish and some Croatian. For a moment there I thought I might actually be a Jew, and some of my Jewish friends were quite pleased, as was I; it seemed like an exciting new adventure. Alas, it now seems unlikely, so I remain a recovering Roman Catholic and a former altar boy.
What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the industry is heading?
For a while, it seemed as though the physical object of a book was verging on extinction, because of the convenience of e-books.
But the actual book has proven to be far harder than the CD, and e-book sales dropped the year before last. turning the pages and perhaps even the weight that adds to the experience.
To read a book requires one's full attention. Recorded music, I think, is now more than ever a part of multitasking; it's become an ephemeral thing that's part of the air and no longer synonymous with a disc in a cover, although I'm happy about the vinyl revival and hope it lasts for a long time.
In general, though, we're living in an age of sensory overload, of bombardment by the internet, and our cell phones are more alluring to us than almost anything else in life.
America has the attention span and the memory of a gnat. My industry, book publishing, while tightening its belt financially, is hanging in there.
How do you give back your art/passion to younger writers in your profession?
Many younger and older people ask me for advice and opinions on their writing, which is very flattering.
I spend quite a bit of time reading pieces by other writers and offering whatever guidance I can.
|with Jeanne Moreau|
It's my responsibility to be helpful.
From the time I undertook my first book until today, I have received so much help from friends, acquaintances, strangers. We have to keep that good karma circulating. When I come across a young writer who's truly talented, who cares about language and can tell a story, it gives me hope.
How would you like to be remembered?
As the years tick on, that subject occurs to me with greater frequency, although in many ways I feel I'm just beginning, and that everything I've done up to this point was just a rehearsal for what I'm doing now, or will do.
|with Mart Crowley|
My subjects will not be forgotten anytime soon.
To the extent that anyone remembers me, I would love to be regarded as an accomplished writer who worked hard to get at the truth, who could tell a good story, and who had compassion.
What would you like the public to take away from your work?
I would like readers of my books or articles to understand the fallible human being inside the great artist. To know that the flaws, as well as strengths of character, are essential to the humanity of the work. My greatest goal has always been to reach out to people with my offerings and if possible, to touch some hearts. To tell stories that people can identify with. Empathy is essential in our work, Richard, as you know.
Who would you like to see profiled?
I just saw Brian Gari at Don't Tell Mama and was very moved by his show. He's got a story - many of them, from being Eddie Cantor's grandson to being a striving teenage songwriter in the early '70s to have had a couple of successful revues to still being at it today, when the pop songwriting world he grew up in no longer exists.
Anything else you wish included?
Yes. Thank you so very much for asking, Richard, and most of all, thank you for caring.
If recently you happened upon Greenwich Village’s 55 Bar and were enchanted by the seismic talent of inspired vocalist, keyboard player, and songwriter Nicole Zuraitis, you’re officially part of this songbirds burgeoning fan club. Nicole Zuraitis blends bountiful songwriting skills, an effervescent presence and dazzling vocals in a consummate package that has thrilled audiences across Manhattan and across the world.
Nicole is the 2016 New York City Songwriting Competition Coffee Music Project Winner, 2015 second runner-up in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and the 2014 Herb Albert ASCAP Young Composer Awards Winner.
National American Traditions Vocal Competition.
Nicole has headlined the Blue Note (NYC) and maintains residencies at the 55 Bar (every second Thursday of the month), Rockwood Music Hall (with the Dan Pugach Nonet), and Redeye Grill.
Audiences love Nicole’s limitless enthusiasm, but that’s only part of her story; only part of her talent.
While pursuing a career that has spanned jazz, pop and classical, Nicole has collaborated with Cyrille Aimee, Thana Alexa, Dave Stryker, Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin, Omar Hakim, Melanie Safka, Elise Testone and Bernard Purdie. She’s performed at festivals nationwide and has recorded two albums: 2013’s Pariah Anthem and 2009’s Spread TheWord, both releases featuring the cream of New York’s jazz hierarchy.
Nicole’s new recording, Hive Mind (Dot Time Records), chronicles themes close to her heart, including an unflinching love of family and friends delivered with a sincere spirit that finds release in eight intimate original compositions (and two covers) which span genres.
After hearing HiveMind, you’d expect nothing less from this NYU trained classical vocalist and Connecticut born songwriter who swings hard as she brings listeners under her enveloping musical wings. Don't forget to check out her singles “Long Meadow Vine” (Featuring Cyrille Aimee and Thana Alexa) and “For the Lonely".
Nicole is a proud faculty member of the Litchfield Jazz Camp.
She has taught songwriting and jazz vocal workshops worldwide, including the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in India, Israel Embassy, Australian consulate and the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She was featured in a video interview by Columbia News Tonight as "New Yorker of the week" for her work with music and shelter animals and hopes to continue giving back by raising awareness for the mental health stigma. For more visit www.nicoleZmusic.com
Why do you feel that celebrities are such an important part of our lives?
From the entrepreneur perspective, celebrities provide an important reminder of setting goals and achieving them.
I do not believe that striving for fame makes you a bad artist or a sell out: I think it keeps the bar high and makes you innovate and create art at a competitive level.
The few celebrities I've had the pleasure of meeting are just average slightly broken souls who seized a stroke of luck or great opportunity and ran with it. I do however idolize art and the power of a beautifully crafted song. Most of the time the celebrity is a celebrity for a reason and they are making their mark in history on the industry which should be respected.
If you could perform with one person, who would that be?
Carole King. As a singing pianist and songwriter, I would be floored to share a stage with one of my biggest inspirations.
She also seems like a hoot and totally down to earth! I love hearing her sing the songs she wrote that other people made famous.
What person do you most admire, living or dead?
Ellen DeGeneres. She is brave, kind, compassionate, hilarious and successful. If I am to ever achieve a status where I have the ability to help people and animals monetarily and through spreading awareness using my celebrity platform, I would try to follow her footsteps.
I didn't always play piano and sing and the way I got started is pretty hilarious. I attended an audition for a club date agency back in 2010 when I first moved to the city. I was hostessing on Central Park and desperate to sing for a living. For those who don't know me, I'm a glasses wielding slightly awkward woman with a big voice and two left feet. The people at the audition asked me to sing, and when I was done said "Wow. Great. Can you sing and dance a number for us?"
The Plaza Hotel, and I was hired to wear a gown and sit on a piano that was suspended over the audience and FAKE PLAY piano with a live string quartet.
Then I had to go to the lobby with 14 violin plays and attempt to play accompany them while they played excerpts from the Sound Of Music, etc. Long story short, all the stress and embarrassment paid off because over the last 8 years I've taught myself how to play piano at a pretty decent level.
But boy, if you could have seen me in 2010.....
What are you currently working on? How did this project come about? What is it that you like most about doing what you are currently doing?
I just released my third album Hive Mind on DotTime Records. It's a 10 track album in which I wrote 8 of the songs with two covers on the album (Jolene by Dolly Parton and Pure
I want to help change the mental health stigma for the better by being able to talk freely about it rather than brush it under the rug. I've been workshopping the songs on the album every month during my residency at the 55 Bar jazz club in Greenwich Village for the past few years (every second Thursday of the month) and am excited to release the songs into the world as I've been writing completely new and (happy) music these days. I love being a versatile songwriter and arranger, and my current project besides touring
I like You a Latte and Long Meadow Vine- The wine song. You may see a food theme in there..... I love singing silly songs for audiences and making them smile.
What is your most useful tool for overcoming a creative block?
Well, besides the obvious life-changing event or deep heartache to get my songwriting chops moving, I like to try to emulate another artist that I admire. For example, my song "The Inscription" was written after I listened to Stevie Wonders "Songs in the Key of Life" many times. I loved his sense of harmony, the modulations, the rhythm. I was in a bit of a funk creatively and decided I would sit at the piano and write a song based on those three key elements. Next thing you know you have a samba-funk song that I recorded on my album Hive Mind, and the Dan Pugach Nonet performs it regularly. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMavAc6Oa2Y). I'm thinking the key to breaking the block finds inspiration in the obvious.
Who would you like to see profiled?
My friend Elise Testone is a wonderful vocalist who I work with in a 3 part harmony collaboration called Voxy NYC. She was on American Idol is a fierce soul and singer.
My husband Dan Pugach has a nonet which I sing with and we have a CD release April 21st at the Cutting Room in NYC! Also, I play the piano and sing solo at different venues around the city such as the Redeye Grill and from that I've developed a new one-woman show that I'm beginning to tour: Generations of Her- Women Songwriters of the last 70 years. I would love for my website and social media to be listed so I can connect with people to hear more about all the projects I'm a part of: www.nicoleZmusic.com and nicoleZmusic on all social media platforms.
In other News...
Tommy J. Dose, Michelle Dowdy, Erica Lustig, Tara Moran, Aaron Morishita. Sidney Myer, Jay Rogers, Luis Villabon, Lennie Watts. Kristine Zbornick, performing songs from ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, GREASE and NEW GIRL IN TOWN. RESERVATIONS 212-757-0788 or www.donttellmamanyc.com.
Tony Award nominee Santino Fontana will soon step into the role of Cornelius Hackl in the current Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!, filling in for Gavin Creel as he recovers from back surgery.
Even celebrities sometimes need to do a little spring cleaning.
Profiles in History recently announced "Love Liza: The Auction," featuring more than 1,000 lots with items from Oscar-winning actress Liza Minnelli, as well as from her famous parents, Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. Read MORE
sings HAROLD ARLEN
THURSDAY, MARCH 8 at 7pm
SUNDAY, APRIL 8 at 7 PM
The Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 W. 42 nd Street @ 9th Avenue, NYC 10036
$25 Cover ($15 MAC)
$20 Food-Drink minimum
Musical Director: JOHN M. COOK
Bass: TOM HUBBARD TRUMPET: STEVE SMYTH
2017 Margaret Whiting Award winner JOSEPHINE SANGES taps into the Academy Award- winning songbook of HAROLD ARLEN (“I’ve Got The World on a String,” “Stormy Weather,” “Over the Rainbow, “Blues in the Night”) with songs from Hollywood (“The Wizard of Oz,” “A Star is Born”) and Broadway (“St. Louis Woman,” “House of Flowers”) in her new show COME RAIN OR COME SHINE.
Now, Go out and Do Something Nice For Someone Tonight Without Expecting Anything in Return!
Here are a Few Testimonials for Richard Skipper Celebrates: Next One March 18th 1PMLaurie Beechman Theater:
“Richard Skipper Celebrates Carol Channing on Her 97th Birthday" was a party with a marvelous host and a group of his very talented friends. I wasn’t just an audience member, I was a fellow celebrant. The wonderful stories and songs and a sensational video made it feel like Carol was in the room with all of us.
Mr. Richard Skipper's Show was beautiful!!!
It was far greater then I imagine.
Looking forward to the next show.
If you have not experienced his events, you owe it to yourself!! You will not be disappointed.
He is a rare Gem!!
Darnell Collier, Buffalo, New York
I was so happy that Judy Ferber and I attended Richard Skipper's Christmas cabaret on Sun. 12/3, thanks to Arlene Jacks, who recommended it very highly.
What a great experience - it was fun, heartwarming and sentimental. Great performers and great audience! What a treat to see Kathryn Crosby - that really took me back in time to all the Bing Crosby Christmas specials. I can't wait to attend the celebration of Carol Channing's 97th birthday on Jan. 31 with another friend of ours as well as Richard's birthday celebration in Feb. Richard: you and your team are a class act!
Diane Merklinger, Briarwood, New York
March 18th, 2018
Russ Woolley Proudly Presents
Richard Skipper Celebrates
John Kander... On His 91st Birthday!
1 PM Brunch Show Laurie Beechman Theater
Confirmed to perform are Tony Award winner Lilias White, Donna Marie Asbury currently in Chicago on Broadway, Jana Robbins (Zorba with two separate tours with Georgio Tozzi and Theodore Bikel), Lucia Spina (Kinky Boots), David Sabella (originated Mary Sunshine in the current revival of Chicago on Broadway), and Sandy Stewart (My Coloring Book) and two-time Grammy nominee Bill Charlap. All under the musical direction of Fred Barton with Rex Benincasa on percussion, Erik Lawrence on Sax, and Steve Doyle on bass. $30.00 cover/$25.00 Food Drink Minimum https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10230842
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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NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED. FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!
I can't believe what you say, because I see what you do. James Baldwin
Keeping America great through Art!
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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com