Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Doris Day, Sierra Rein, and MORE!

Happy Birthday, Doris Day!
The really frightening thing about middle age is the knowledge that you'll grow out of it.
-Doris Day

Happy Doris DAY, April 3rd, 2018!
April 3 is the 93rd day of the year. There are 272 days remaining until the end of the year.
Today is a national holiday for me. It is Doris Day's  96th Birthday! She happens to be one of my all-time favorite entertainers. My dream has always been to have the opportunity to tell me what she means to me. Her movies and music, thank God, have always been a part of the soundtrack of my life.
Every year on this day, I devote my listening to Doris Day, not that I don't hear her on other days as well. Today also happens to be American Circus Day! One of my favorite films is Billy Rose's Jumbo. How appropriate!
Today is also the birthday of the late great Ervin Drake. I was lucky enough to call him a friend and I
me with Edith and Ervin Drake
miss him tremendously.
Conservationist Jane Goodall is 84.Songwriter Jeff Barry is 80.
Actress Marsha Mason is 76.
Singer Wayne Newton is 76.
Singer Tony Orlando is 74.
My horoscope tells me today that Although I might attempt to suppress my vivid fantasy life now, true success depends upon reactivating my subconscious mind. I'll take it!
There is so much to Celebrate! It is National Humor Month.
Last night, I went to see Broadway Backwards thanks to BFF Russ Woolley!

Our dates were KT and Stacy Sullivan.
What a great time. The show-stopping-est musical number last night at BROADWAY BACKWARDS was Jay Armstrong Johnson with John Glover doing If They Could See Me Now with Johnson meticulously and magnificently dancing every step of Bob Fosse’s original choreography for Gwen Verdon.
Fosse’s choreography was recreated by Mimi Quillin, who was the dance captain and a dancer in Fosse’s last production of SWEET CHARITY.  It was the BEST “If They Could See Me Now” I’ve seen since video clips of Gwen Verdon's original choreography.  Beyond WOW!
Remembering Georgie Jessel on his birthday:
b. April 3, 1898, New York City, NY
d. May 23, 1981, Los Angeles, CA

I LOVE Celebrating those that have gone before us but I also celebrate today's players. One such entertainer is Sierra Rein. (Note: If you’ve ever said her name out loud, you probably mispronounced it – it’s spelled like “Reindeer,” but pronounced like “Rhinestone.”Sierra has enjoyed bringing battleax spunk, high dramatic soprano notes, and tight-harmony alto skills to theater roles across the US and seas.
She waved tentacles, wands, and other objects as Ursula, Fairy Godmother, a sword-wielding Pirate, and various high-strung Mom characters for three Disney Cruise Line ships, and recently performed at the Ogunquit Playhouse and Goodspeed Musicals.
She also played the “big bad” villain in the multiple award-winning short film Better Dead Than Red.

A Californian “Port-a-jew” (half Portuguese, half Jewish), Sierra applies her granola skillset of camping, fishing, and shooting tin cans in the desert to the urban jungle of the Big Apple. There, Sierra’s love of singing jazz harmony led to the development of the award-winning vocal group Marquee Five.

Heralded as “The Manhattan Transfer for the new millennium*,” the group has been seen in tours around the country and can be heard on their album, “8-Track Throwback.”

A huge Jim Henson fan, she regularly appears in person and in online comedy videos with her puppet, Kay The Pal.

She lives with her husband, Pete, and together they practice
their puppeteering skills, geek out over sci-fi movies, snuggle with their cats, and put tons of garlic in their stir-frys. Her favorite quote can be found in a New Yorker Cartoon.

Enjoy our interview...

Who blazed the trail for you?
In the live music world over the years, I saw female solo singers like Marnie Klar, Tanya Moberly, Julie Reyburn, Sarah Rice, and Janice Hall continually produce show after show, and marvel at their work in person.
This job of creating a show, promoting it, and laying it out there for potential praise and criticism by one's peers is hard.
I mean, Tanya's ability to offer six shows in as many weeks boggles my mind - I'm concentrating on memorizing the lyrics of one show, let alone six! When it comes to Musical Theater, the goddesses I idolize are women who balance humor and pathos in character-driven roles on stage.
I love Judy Kaye, Faith Prince, Patti LuPone, and Stephanie J. Block. When I was in Los Angeles, I did a show with Stephanie before she did Boy From Oz, and as a performer, she gained a huge amount of respect from me. Between rehearsals and performances, she was flying back and forth between LA and New York, auditioning for the first Broadway production of "Wicked" even after having done Elphaba in workshops. Not being the first Broadway Elphaba was a big disappointment to her. But, even as we comforted her, she told the cast that she had two goals in her life plan: originate a role on Broadway, and fully perform Elphaba with full production value.
Within two years, she was originating Liza in "Boy From Oz," and only a few years later down the yellow brick road, she got to perform Elphaba as well. And now she's originating the role of Cher on Broadway - she's killing it, and still the nicest person you could ever meet; both on talent and professional grace, she certainly leads by example.

Tell us about your upcoming gigs
I am excited about my NYC solo debut show, Running in Place - April 12th and April 29th at 7pm and May 12th at 2pm, all at The Laurie
Beechman Theatre.
My Music Director is Bill Zeffiro, my Director is James Beaman, and I have Matt Scharfglass on bass and Rex Benincasa on drums. I have a variety of songs: some American Songbook standards, classic and contemporary musical theater, and contemporary pop, all culminating in an exploration of what it feels like to push through the morass of this world...a "rundown," if you will, about dreaming against all odds. I'm putting all my musical theater training and vocal styles into this work, and I think some of the choices will be exciting for the audience to see! www.sierrarein.com/running

After those shows, I'm working with my vocal group, Marquee Five, in presenting a new show on
June 15th at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. Marquee Five Sings Sondheim will feature Sondheim works from Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Company, West Side Story, and more.
We get to shine individually in solo moments, then come together in lush and exciting new harmonies to bring some of Sondheim's famous works (and some lesser known pieces) into a new musical light.
I absolutely love singing with Marquee Five, and I adore Sondheim for his lyricism and character-driven melodies, so performing new arrangements with four other amazing vocalists will be a real treat that night.

Years ago, we started creating Sondheim arrangements for Phil Geoffrey Bond's "Sondheim Unplugged" series at Feinstein's 54 Below, and have continued to add to our Sondheim repertoire with each appearance.
The time came that we had half a show already arranged and rehearsed, so we pushed forward into creating even more arrangements just for our own show. We'll be back at 54 Below with "Sondheim Unplugged" on Friday, May 18th, if anyone wants to get a taste of what we'll do for our own show. www.marqueefive.com

In addition, I'm singing a song for SheNYC Arts' benefit concert "NOTEWORTHY: A Night Celebrating Female Songwriters" on April 7th at Green Room 42, singing from Gabrielle Wagner Mann and Jan Roper's show "City of Light." I'm also soon laying down a demo recording of a new musical by Darryl Curry and Arianna Johns. On Sundays, I usually sing in the morning with the choir of St. Clement's Episcopal Church each Sunday on West 46th Street and at night at Mark Janas' The Salon Open Mic! www.markjanasthesalon.com

If you had limitless funds, what's one purchase you would instantly make and why?
Land rights and tools/material for the development of a "swiss army knife" of creativity: a complex that includes a large theater and two small blackbox theaters, rehearsal rooms, warm up kiosks for singers, a television studio, an audio recording room, a large warehouse for filming, prop/wig/costume/makeup and set building facilities, a gym, and of course coffee shop with wifi and an area for safe "capsule" naps for those between rehearsals. 24 hour creativity open all year round. And since my funds are limitless, the ability to keep it free for the creative artists I want to support, promote, encourage and allow to prosper

What is the most interesting fact you learned
The waters that lie at the border of Maryland and Virginia have been the location of many "Oyster Wars," where oyster pirates and oyster merchant/fishing ships would get into skirmishes over the oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, lasting from the Civil War thru the 1950s. Been listening to a podcast called "Food Stuff," and they had an episode all about the history and biology of Oysters.

Tell us a secret.
I have a punk/goth side to my personality that comes out every now and then. I would love to bleach and color my hair blue, purple, or keep it platinum white. If I was cast in a long-running film shoot or theater project that allowed for that character angle, I would jump at the chance.

Who’s your number one fan?
Aw man, beyond my husband, Pete, and my family and in-laws? I would have to say I have two really amazing supporters, especially during my fundraising campaign and promotion for my show over the past year.
First is Jaz Davison, who directed me in a show in Los Angeles a decade+ ago, who now is an author in the UK (her book "Once Upon a Mouse" just got published!). J.A. Zarifian or "J.A. 'Jaz' Zarifian" was so amazing while I was raising money, retweeting my tweets and commenting and asking her own fans to take a glance at my work. Her energy in person is just as positive and fun and spritely, and her online presence was a great boost to me.
The second fan is a friend of a friend named Doug S., who is flying in from out of state to see my show (plus a few fancy Broadway shows). His donation to my campaign put me smack dab at my goal in the final hour, and he and his wife are music producer/singers, so they supported me with good online encouragement. Doug is also the kind of guy who sends gifts and CDs in the mail "just 'cause," and is always looking for ways to help his friends; I joked that if we can clone Doug so every city had one of him, the world would be a more peaceful place. Everyone needs a "Doug" in their life.

with Fred Barton
Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? 
I have a fantasy of doing a co-project between myself (or Marquee Five) and big band arranger/music director Fred Barton. He is the MD of powerhouse vocalist Jesse Lutrell, who I saw perform at APAP this past year, and the big band sound live in person just made my heart swell. To sing solo, or to have Marquee Five's Manhattan Transfer-esque musicality, combined with Fred and his band would be amazing. I've already reached out to him and he would love to explore possibilities, too; we just have to find a Producer with the money to make it happen! Those horn players are an investment.

Have you ever considered teaching?
I have in the past as an after-church Drama Teacher for a group of middle schoolers in the Upper East Side! I've also considered going back to school to get a Masters in music or to seriously learn to play the piano, so I can eventually teach voice, or perhaps even go into directing. But I'm having too much momentum with my current career trajectory to switch vocations. But if it came my way again, I'd consider it.

Who among colleagues you haven’t yet worked with would you want to collaborate with on a theater project?
If you dis-include my Director, James Beaman, dividing the solo singer stage from the theatrical stage, I would love to perform with him in a Regional Theater production. He just performed in rep at Orlando Shakespeare and I just know that performing with him on stage would mean not only a lot of fun, but I would also learn a lot about acting by actually working the craft with him in a fully narrative piece. I would love to continue our working relationship with bigger stages!
Michael Kostroff

In that same vein, my friend Michael Kostroff (who has toured and performs regionally as well as on Television), would be a great person to perform and absorb the craft of acting from. Michael has a great "reality-based" attitude towards auditioning - he has an "Audition Psych 101" book and workshop all about it - that has brought me into a less stressful mindset when going into auditions.
Would love to work opposite him at some point.

How do you see proceeding with your career? Do you have an upcoming project in mind after this one?
Audition season is winding down as the weather improves, but I'm still auditioning for concert tours and regional theater, and working on events booked with Marquee Five. I also have a few short scripts in mind to shoot, one involving puppetry with my husband. If I don't have a theater project lined up by the time my shows are done, I'll definitely be looking towards producing and acting in a few of them over the summer.
Mick Bleyer, Adam West Hemming, Vanessa Parvin, Sierra Rein, and Lynsey Buckelew
We're talking a few 5-10 minute comedy shorts and one longer, two-person, character-driven short film.

Is doing what you do at all difficult?
"Art isn't easy," as Sondheim wrote. I think the most difficult aspects of being an artist is the amount
of self-management dedication it takes. That and learning that each audition or project is not the beginning or end of a career. My show "Running in Place" shines a light on this, the feeling like you're not going anywhere. But I also use it to encourage my audience that it's worth it to stay involved, passionate, and present in the things that make you happy, regardless of where you "feel" your life is heading.

What’s the next step for you?
Take my own damned advice, and keep moving on with my passions in life, and to continue to do so even when I feel like I'm running in place. I look forward to seeing some Broadway shows with the visiting in-laws, learning more audition monologues, taking part in new musical readings, and making some final and definite plans to save up for a trip to Japan with my husband.

Name one person you would like to see profiled on my blog
I'm going to throw it to my friend Adam Shapiro if he hasn't been interviewed/featured yet. He's has been a staple in the Cabaret, Regional and New York Theater communities, and has also navigated to film and television quite successfully. He's always a joy and comes to open mics with surprising song choices that he truly makes his own. Plus, he's a good audition pal to talk to in the waiting rooms.

If he's already been profiled, consider Erin Cronican, who is also a Blogette at The Salon. She is a powerful woman in her own right: she runs a Theater company, performs in it year-round, works at The Salon, auditions, do staged readings and Off-Broadway performing, coaches
Actors and other creatives in their careers and has done it all through a lot of personal struggle. I deeply admire her for what she's gone through over the years and how she seems to have come out even more powerful on the other side.

Anything else you wish included?
On May 8th, I'll have been living in New York City for 10 years. If anyone has a good idea for a truly New York City celebration for the tin/aluminum anniversary, have them email me ;)

Richard Skipper Also Celebrates...
One last chance to see GOLDEN TICKET: The Songs of Leslie Bricusse starring Stearns Matthews tomorrow night, Wednesday the 4th, at 7pm!

Use the code STEARNSMAC for $5 off the cover!
Stearns Matthews in
GOLDEN TICKET: The Songs of Leslie Bricusse
Musical direction by Warren Helms
Wednesday, April 4th at 7pm
The Laurie Beechman Theatre
407 West 42nd Street (at 9th Avenue)
New York, NY
$20 cover ($15 for MAC members!)
$20 food/beverage minimum

Did you see Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC Sunday night? I LOVED IT!
Why did “Jesus Christ Superstar” work so much better on TV on Easter Sunday night than I have ever seen it work onstage? (I include, perhaps unfairly, the Brophy College Preparatory production of the mid-1980s, in which I appeared as a disciple.) We have to give credit to the cast, of course—John Legend as a silky, sulky Jesus, Sara Bareilles as a sensitive Mary Magdalene, Brandon Victor Dixon as an anguished Judas—and to the director, David Leveaux, who staged the show on a multileveled runway between scaffolds in a Brooklyn warehouse, making maximum use of the setting in three interlocking guises: as concert stage, theatrical playing area and live television studio. Read MORE.

Did you see my Blog on Saturday on Club Bonafide? 
Artfully combining the “hush hush” exclusivity of a classic speakeasy with a vibrant contemporary approach to showcasing an array of today’s hottest music and other curated arts, Club Bonafide – located on storied 52nd Street in midtown Manhattan – is where the “jazz age” meets a new age of live performances.

Fast becoming an “open secret,” an enigmatic gem that no one officially is aware of yet everyone in
the know knows about, the venue offers a beautiful space designed to cultivate intimacy – a lush, retro-minded 70-seat room with state-of-the-art sound and lighting where artists connect profoundly with patrons and patrons forge lasting bonds with one another. True to its name, the venue is a nightly happening, offering a diverse, ever-expanding range of authentic music – jazz, Latin, funk, soul, blues, rock, world music and more – in a transformative family-style atmosphere. It’s a perfect place to bring clients, colleagues and lovers – and the ideal setting to meet new ones!
As one regular club-goer astutely observed, “It is a home for REAL ARTISTS and REAL MUSIC in all its forms.”

With one long row of adjoining tables in the center of the room nestled between two bookending rows against the walls in a subtle, red-lit room, Club Bonafide is designed to instantly immerse club-goers in the music, inviting them to be part of the shaping of sound as it lays the foundation for a lively evening. The bands play in the front of the room before a draped backdrop, ­encouraging a seamless soul connection between musicians and patrons. The separate cocktail area that patrons encounter as they
step off the small elevator sports a décor reminiscent of the dark, rich vintage décor of the speakeasy era, with exposed brick and warm sunset, dimmed lighting. Bonafide has a full specialized cocktail, wine, and beer menu, in addition to lite-bite options; it will soon be introducing a full menu.

For proof that Club Bonafide is the most happening and fresh NYC hot spot despite its being “hidden” on the third floor of a nondescript building between a restaurant and hotel (with only small indicator and no ­official marked entrance), look no further than the recent
moments when Sting hopped up from the crowd and joined performers onstage and when Harry Belafonte joined the musicians performing a tribute concert for his 90th birthday. The participation of these and other legends is a testament to how comfortable and at home everyone feels in the room, not simply to perform but also to be in the company with fans as peers.

Club Bonafide was originally conceptualized two years ago by veteran musician Richard Bona and ­restaurateur Lolo Dantonio, whose aim was to re-
create the “Swing Street” era of 52nd Street. Bonafide’s new team of owners are leading the club into a dynamic new era of live performances, drawing on the bustling energy of street life in Midtown that followed the Prohibition Era. Since its launch, the venue has hosted a wide variety of music – and moving forward, the performances will continue to embody the aesthetic of diversity and cultural and theatrical significance. Bonafide is also a wondrous find for those wishing to host signature events, drawing in all that is creative in a space that fosters and supports tastemakers and influencers
who want to use music as a lure for audiences. With a backdrop and décor ideally suited to support the dreams and visions of the ­imaginative, the club has enduring appeal for curated events with art, performance art, and fashion.
www.facebook.com/clubbonafide ▪   twitter.com/clubbonafide ▪   www.instagram.com/clubbonafide ▪www.yelp.com/biz/club-bonafide-new-york

Read my BLOG Here
Check out this VIDEO

It is almost beyond the fashion world’s wildest imagination, but the chatter coming out of Condé Nast and the publishing industry has reached a deafening crescendo — Anna Wintour could be on her way out of Condé and Vogue as artistic director. Read MORE.

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

April 8th, 2018

Russ Woolley Proudly Presents
Richard Skipper Celebrates
Broadway and off-Broadway Firsts...and More!

1 PM Brunch Show Laurie Beechman Theater 
Lane Bradbury created the role of Dainty June in the original Broadway production of the classic show Gypsy starring Ethel Merman.
Annie Hughes off-Broadway Closer Than Ever
Lauren Mufson Broadway and National Touring companies of Mamma Mia!
Marta Sanders Best Little Whorehouse In Texas Original Company
AND Stephanie Pope Chicago, Fosse, Pippin

Musical Direction Joe Goodrich with Rex Benincasa on Percussion, Steve Doyle on bass, and Erik Lawrence on Sax
With music, reminisces and an afternoon of fun and show business! 90 minutes of merriment and excitement …Right on the heels of the 3/18 Richard Skipper Celebrates John Kander SOLD OUT Show!

When and Where:
Sunday, April 8th - 1 PM, Doors open 12:15

THE LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATRE, 407 West 42nd Street (lower level of the WEST BANK CAFE) Producer: Russ Woolley $30 ticket plus $20 food/beverage minimum - exquisite and reasonably priced food and drink

Richard Skipper has assembled a great cast to entertain and honor Broadway and off-Broadway artists… RICHARD SKIPPER has become synonymous with “feel good entertainment of the highest quality”. For decades Richard has entertained thousands and celebrated the careers of many of Theatre Row’s finest and most honored stars… It is now our turn to honor artists and the roles they created and/or made their own… The afternoon will prove to be an event where all will arrive and leave with smiles! This will be similar to the old-fashioned TV specials and series where we get to chat with and honor this Entertainment Icon.

So — Order your tickets now online…


A Few Audience Testimonials
I had the pleasure of being a part of Richard Skipper's Birthday celebration for John Kander. What I noticed immediately was the amount of passion Richard has for what he does! You are guaranteed a great time if you go to one of his shows. So go!
Donna Marie Asbury, Bloomfield, NJ

Richard Skipper and Russ Woolley, Tom and I were thrilled to see Richard Skipper Celebrates...John Kander 3/18/18- what an afternoon! My second one, Tom's first, and he is now a convert/addict too! Such talent, imagine all those wonderful performers doing a number together? The roof would blow off! Thank you for a terrific afternoon, and we can't wait for the next one! XOX
-John Oakley Higgins

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. Richard Skipper 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
Check out our promo video: https://youtu.be/pvvOuNJtYSA
The show is also made possible by Wright Bros. Real Estate. 

With grateful XOXOXs,


Please LIKE (if you do!) and SHARE!


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!
Please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook
Keeping Entertainment LIVE!


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com 

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