Thursday, March 1, 2018

Cabaret Month: Part Three! John McDaniel, Bobbie Horowitz, Heather Villlaescusa...and MORE!

Be Prepared
-The Boy Scout Motto

Happy March 1st, 2018!
March 1 is the 60th day of the year. There are 305 days remaining until the end of the year.  It's here. Cabaret Month in New York.  I am continuing today a series showcasing those that are making a difference in our cabaret community.  Today, I celebrate three of the best. They are ALL winners. 
One, a prolific theatre producer, composer, conductor, and pianist, AND Grammy Award winner,  a 2018 MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) nominee and previous winner, and the winner of the MAC Award-winning The Next Big Act debuting her new show. 

John McDaniel
He is known as the lead composer and producer of the 1996 television talk show The Rosie O'Donnell Show, for which he received six Daytime Emmy Award nominations, winning two.


John with Barbara Jungr
McDaniel is also known for his collaborations with Patti LuPone, most notably her 1995 concert Patti LuPone: Live!, which debuted on Broadway after a Los Angeles engagement.He won a Grammy Award for producing the cast album of Annie Get Your Gun (1999), as well as a Tony Award for producing the Broadway production of the latter.

What does THIS time in your life mean to you?  
It means time to choose the projects that excite and interest me.  Life is short and one learns to savor the moments.
What Are you reading now?
I'm reading an 'airport' book by John Grisham - it's not as good as some of his earlier ones!

What is your bookstore wish list?
Gosh, I buy so many books that I have a stack in my bedroom - on the top is John Lahr's book, "Joy Ride".

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career? 
Choosing the favorite anecdote is like Sophie's choice - but I do often think about the week and the night I won my Grammy.  I stayed at the Chateau Marmont and the whole experience was absolutely magical.

How do you give back your art/passion to younger artists and the community? 
I head the Cabaret and Performance Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, where I run
and supervise the Fellows program, which selects and trains a group of up and coming artists each August.  It's one of the most fulfilling things I do.

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 create and tour often nowadays with Barb Jungr, my chum from London.  We have a new collection of Sting songs that we've just recorded in the UK - it will be released in June and we'll be touring it all over the world, including Berlin in August!  Our Beatles collection is now available on Amazon & iTunes.

Come Up with one question I did not ask you for next interview
My question is:  who is reading this blog?  I hope that whoever has gotten this far will 'like' my John McDaniel page on Facebook and follow me on Instagram @johnmcd123.

Bobbie Horowitz
Nominated for RECURRING SERIES
IT'S JUST A NUMBER
Created, produced, and directed by Bobbie Horowitz
Metropolitan Room, The Triad 

Bobbie has been involved in several different areas in the 77 years she’s lived thus far. 
She now realizes, related. She's become aware that her mission has always been to bring joy into people’s lives and thereby help people love themselves. "Be the Star You Truly Are" is her motto!

What Are you reading now?
Can You See Us Now? by Cheryl Benton

What is your bookstore wish list?
That my book, Fit and Fabulous From Fifty Forward!,  is carried in most bookstores and selling “ big time" -and it is beginning to happen.
To find more books that intrigue me about the development of life on our planet and other planets and universes. I’ve recently realized that science is related to everything. 

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career? 

There have been so many!  For this let’s say:
Thomas A. Edison said: "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to success is always just one more try."  
I tried one more theater to inquire about their helping to produce The Betrayal of Nora Blake. I’d given up in the USA. I wrote to The Jermyn Street Theatre in London asking if they’d be interested. Guess What? Our run was fabulously reviewed and extended. Not only that – wonderful Princess Diana (I send my love to her in heaven so often) became real friends. I was invited to and attended adorable Prince Harry’s 13th Birthday party!  (I’ve not been able to reach him personally since his mom was killed. I did, recently, try and my letter may have reached him. I don’t know how often he reads the mail he gets there. 

(By the way: in the "Trying One More Time" category I’m also beginning work on a new musical.   PLUS, Balboa Press will be putting an ad for my book "Fit and Fabulous From Fifty Forward!"  both on Amazon and on Ingram Press!)

What has been your greatest experience in this profession?  
LOVE and learning that I can contribute to the planet. (We all can!)
All of the positives I’ve received have helped me contribute to the world in the way I which I can. I’m getting reports from people that I’ve changed the
way they look at aging since I’ve been producing It’s Just a Number! 
Writing for cabaret and winning the MAC Award with Spector and now being so honored because I’m honoring people who deserve to be honored who are in an age group that has been going through some discrimination (because people didn’t understand that older people can contribute) 
The above experience in London was great too. 

Have you ever considered teaching a class?  
I have taught classes – many classes.
I attended graduate school at  Columbia Teacher’s College.
Bobbie Horowitz and Matthew V. Baram at the Cornelia St. Cafe - May 24, 2012
For about twenty years I’ve been giving Image Workshops.  I call mine Dress To Get YES! workshops. I‘m a licensed Image Consultant. 
I also formed oneand co-ran a not-for-profit company with my son, David F. Slone called the Times Square Group. We held classes in public and a few private high schools and junior high schools.  We taught and we also hired others to teach for our group.  
We taught our students how to find auditions, how to attain auditions and how to audition to get a performing job. I also instructed them in dressing for their auditions and interviews.
Many of the schools we worked in served underprivileged students and weren’t arts schools 'per se' but realized it would help their students to get this type of training.
David Sloan

The Performing Arts Schools we taught at were: 
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music andArt and Performing Arts. 
Frank Sinatra School Of The Arts High School. 
Talent Unlimited High School


What is it about performing in small, intimate venues that draws you to perform in cabarets?
I can literally feel the heartbeat of the audience and link into the minds of the people in the room. I feel as though we’re all one being and it’s very joyful to me – even when the song or words being said are  dealing with sadness.   I feel a human connection in a small venue.
Who is your chief musical inspiration?
My Mom and Dad, had me listening to and attending Broadway Musicals since I was 4! (Song of Norway when I was four – followed by four Rodgers and Hammerstein greats – Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, State Fair, Flower Drum Song.  Then I 1950 they took me to the Broadway opening night of “Guys and Dolls”.
My Grandma Fanny had neighbors in on Weekend afternoons to sing along to songs as she played the piano! 
I also learned to love Stephen Sondheim when I was part of a group he spoke with. 
I also was greatly inspired by Mel Stecher and Norman Horowitz, the counselors in charge of musicals at Camp Reena and Mohican, when I was a teen. They’re now in their i90s and still train young people!!!!  They have a Foundation with an office on West 57th St.

A final statement for my blog: 
I know I go on and on…and my final statement is that music, lyrics, and musicals are "the food of love” and we should all play on. 
Parents – take your kids to musicals and shows.
“If music be the food of love, play on” (the Duke of Orsino in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, which I was blessed to be cast in during my junior year at New Utrecht High School in 1956. 
Order Tickets HERE for The 2018 MAC Nominated IT'S JUST A NUMBER. March 25th 3PM. DON'T TELL MAMA. 


Heather Villaescusa
Heather was a late bloomer to performing.  As an AirForce Brat, she moved every 2 years to a new state.  All her time was spent trying to fit in and swimming on the swim team. But thanks to her lazy tendencies, she stopped swimming.  As she entered High School her mom pushed her to audition for Guys n Dolls.  She was cast as a siteseer.  Was she hooked?  Nope.  She thought that walking across the stage in the opening number and not again until the end of the show was a bit lame.   But her mom pushed her again, this time it was a play called See How They Run.  
She was cast as Penelope Toop and this time she was hooked and never looked back. Heather has performed regionally all across the country with favorite shows being, Jesus Christ Superstar, Ragtime, Guys and Dolls, Crazy for You
Heather’s cabaret debut was in 2004.  Shortly after that, Heather decided to take a break from the business.  She married in 2006 and in 2010 had a beautiful daughter which became her main focus.  In 2014, however, it was clear that Heather needed to set foot on stage again. 
The Top Five (L-R) Lauren Stanford, Gracie Lee Brown, Toddy Phillips, Justin Nastro, Heather Villaescusa
She began working with Lennie Watts and Steven Ray Watkins once again.  In 2015, she completed her run of her 2nd show, “What I Did For Love” at Don’t Tell Mama.  Then, in 2017, was crowned the 3rd Season winner of Mama’s Next Big Act.  

Congratulations on your upcoming show! What does THIS show mean to you? 
Thank you!  
It’s been a crazy ride.  This show has come out of winning 2017 Mama’s Next Big Act this past summer.  My goal over the entire contest was to not take myself too seriously, enjoy the ride, seek the joy and sing.  I built the show around that experience…wrangling my inner gremlins and really live in the moment and experience the happiness I have for performing.  (not let those pesky gremlins steal the spotlight)
Heather Villaescusa, Lennie Watts, Lauren Stanford

What Are you reading now?
I have a few books going at one time.  When I don’t fall down a Twitter or Facebook hole, I’m finishing Jenny Lawson’s, Furiously Happy.  She speaks my language.  I’m also reading You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and I just started, The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’m looking at these books while mounting my show The Happiness Project (a 10-week guide).   
I also appear to be a bit distracted that I am working on three books at one time and have yet to finish one in over a year.

What is your bookstore wish list?

My big wish is to get back to spending more time in bookstores.  With everything electronic now, I miss feeling the book covers and the smell of the pages as you explore a brand-new book.  My favorite thing is to take my 7-year-old daughter to a bookstore and watch her explore. 
But for an actual list – I’d like to walk out of the store with Becoming by Michelle Obama and The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career?
Many moons ago, I spent a year working on a cruise ship.  And 2 months into the contract we were sailing through the English Channel in the middle of the night heading back to Dover, England.  And at 2:00am, the boat started to list (tilt).  It happens often on a ship.  But this was severe.  We all started falling to the side.  The furniture started crashing around us and we knew something was very wrong.  Then we heard a horrible crunching sound. 
The captain got on the loud speaker and was shouting, “CODE DELTA!  CODE DELTA!”  The ship crashed into a cargo ship in the English Channel.   I thought we were a goner.  I’m happy to say there were only minor injuries and we didn’t have to abandon ship in the middle of the night, but it truly was a pretty scary moment. 

What has been your greatest experience in this profession? 

My best memory is about a moment in time when I was standing in line at a chorus call for a Broadway show.  
I was waiting to go in the room and I thought, “I’m about to audition for my favorite show.”  
If you had told me a year prior that, that’s where I would be, I would have laughed at you.  I had the happiest feeling wash over me.  Follow your passion!

Have you ever considered teaching a class? 
I have…and am thinking more and more about it now. 

What is the most favorite song you have ever performed? Why?
I have a few favorites to sing, but I think the top is The Bacon Song.  I love a really good comedic song and this one seems, for me, to take the cake.  (or bacon)  I love the internal struggle of trying to do what is right, in the character's mind, but turning towards the passion instead.  

Who is your chief musical inspiration?
She is more contemporary, but I really love Sara Bareilles.  She just lays it all out there and seems completely fearless.

A final statement for my blog
Seek the joy.  Things feel tough right now in the world, so what better time to focus on yourself and find your happy place.  I’ve been lucky to have found Lennie Watts and Steven Ray Watkins who help me do that anytime I’m ready.
Order Tickets HERE for Heather Villaescusa. March 3rd 4PM. DON'T TELL MAMA. 

Also...
The Broadway at Birdland presented the Manhattan return of singer Lorna Dallas, who appeared on the historic stage on Monday night. After a two-decade absence, internationally acclaimed West End and New York legend Lorna Dallas returns to the world of cabaret with her new show, Home Again. Click HERE for MORE
Thank you, to ALL who are mentioned in this blog for gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give

Now, go and do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return!


Next Stop...

Here are a Few Testimonials for Richard Skipper Celebrates: Next One March 18th 1PM Laurie Beechman Theater:
Wow! After interviewing Richard Skipper on our podcast Behind the Curtain: Broadway's Living
Legends, I was on Cloud 9. Well, his show put me on Cloud 11! How he is able to create such magical events, time and time again astounds me. He is a national treasure and no one can really call themselves a New Yorker until they have seen a Richard Skipper show.
Robert W Schneider,robertwschneider.com

What a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season! My daughter Jamie and I felt the the Christmas magic, and for me I took a wonderful stroll down memory lane. Thanks Richard for all that you do and for putting together such a wonderful show, we'll be back!
Rich Braaten, Ridgefied, CT

I commented on Facebook, but I wanted to write you a personal note to let you know how much my wife and I enjoyed your show Wednesday night. You are a consummate entertainer! And it was obvious from watching you onstage how generous you are and how delighted you were to offer your talented friends an opportunity to entertain a full and enthusiastic house.
I also loved the opening montage—especially the extended clip from What’s My Line? How cool!
I wanted to reciprocate your support for my York Theatre show last year, but I got far more out of attending your show than I could have imagined! Congratulations!
Best regards,

Charles Troy

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 WhiteDonna 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


With grateful XOXOXs ,

 

with Donna Murphy and Russ Woolley after her last performance as Dolly


CallonDolly.com
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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com






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