Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Geoffrey Mark and Ella Fitzgerald and More!

Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't
think you can go wrong.
-Ella Fitzgerald

Happy Wednesday, April 18th, 2018!
April 18 is the 108th day of the year. There are 257 days remaining until the end of the year. It is a gorgeous day here in New York. As I sit down to begin today's blog, Barbra Streisand Collection: Greatest Hits...and More is playing in the background.
In addition to writing today's blog, my day is also devoted to paperwork and getting my financial affairs and budgets in order. Today is also all about the music, most notably Ella Fitzgerald and the guy to help us celebrate that music is Geoffrey Mark.
Geoffrey is an Emmy Award winner and Grammy Award nominee. He has been called a “walking encyclopedia of show business history.”

with Tippi Hedren
A singer/stand-up comedian in nightclubs and cabarets, and an Off-Broadway veteran, Geoffrey has hosted radio series, written comedy for several stand-up comedians, and writes and produces documentaries and reality shows for cable television. Mark has three best-selling books, including The Lucy Book and is the producer of Nigel: Come Back to Me, a CD with a seventeen-piece Big Band.
Geoffrey has recently authored Ella: A Biography of the Legendary Ella Fitzgerald.

Ella Jane Fitzgerald became an internationally celebrated cultural force who has been called the greatest female singer in history.
with Paul Petersen
ELLA chronicles the ultimate rags-to-riches embodiment of the American dream, whose personal life was one of the best-kept secrets in show business. In her lifetime, the “The First Lady of Song” sold over 40 million albums, wrote hit songs, devoted herself to philanthropy, and amassed countless awards and commendations, including 13 Grammys, honorary doctorates from Harvard and Yale, the National Medal of Arts, France’s Commander of Arts and Letters, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Enjoy Our Interview...

with Bruce Villanch
Why did you decide to write this book about Ella Fitzgerald?
I like to write about people who are the absolute best at what they do. As with Lucille Ball and EthelMerman, Ella is the high-water mark by which every other singer is compared. Andre Previn once remarked, "Musicians play a game backstage in the green room before going on, listing their favorite trumpeters or pianists or drummers. But if the category becomes favorite singers, the game cannot go on for even one more moment unless someone says, 'You mean besides Ella'"?

How has the Trump era affected your art?

I think I am even more choosy with my words because they get so distorted in the hands of other people. I believe I am also more passionate about writing things that have import and are not pieces of fluff. This is no time to be silent. Our voices must be heard. It is the same with my singing -- there seems to be more passion these days as I try to bring layers of meaning to my songs. I think each of us has a call of duty to speak out against injustice, evil and selfish, greedy politicians.

Has your perspective of Ella changed any since I started writing the book?
My feelings about her art and work have not changed, but I see her completely differently as a woman. Ella overcame physical and mental abuse, rape and torture -- all before she was sixteen -- and did not allow her bitterness or bad memories to interfere with taking her God-given talent and doing with it the absolute most that she could. I always sensed a connection to her, not knowing that our teenaged years had tremendous parallels. I, too, was on my own at fifteen. I, too, had to make a conscious decision not let the pain of my childhood keep me doing things with my talents.

with Randy West and Dawn Wells
Tell me about yourself and How You Got Started
Although I was born in Brooklyn, NY and mostly raised there and in a suburb of Baltimore, I was talent-scouted when I was eight (we had briefly moved to Los Angeles) to appear on Art Linkletter's House Party, The Danny Kaye Show and to sign a contract with Desilu Studios. My parents did not allow any of this to occur, but the seed had been planted.
I have always been a self-starter, teaching myself to read and write when I was two.
I did my first professional job when I was fifteen, at The Colony 7 Dinner Theatre just outside of Washington, D.C.
By the time I was eighteen, I had made my first film, done two off-Broadway show, worked at The Playboy Club in New York City and was singing jazz and doing comedy stand-up all over the city. Things progressed from there.

What sets you apart from others in the business?

Several things. I have an encyclopedic knowledge of show business history and great respect for it. One cannot create without knowing what came before. I have been fortunate to be taught and mentored by the best the industry has to offer, including Milton Berle, Steve Allen, Jack Carter and William Asher. I was a member of the Beverly Hills Friar's Club, as well as a member of Yarmy's Army, a group of comedians, comedy writers and comedy directors. Also, I am not greedy or snobby. Money has never been the motivating factor in my work.
If it were, I would be a very wealthy man today. For matters of ethics and good taste, I have turned down huge sums of money to betray loyal friends or create things to which I would be ashamed to attach my name. Talent turns me on, not fame -- although I have been fortunate enough to enjoy some of both.

Is doing what you do at all difficult?
Of course, it is. Singing at my age takes great concentration and much more physical effort than it did when I was twenty.
And yet, I sing better today than at any other time in my life. Writing and doing comedy is never easy, either. It all takes a delightful recipe of equal parts talent, adrenalin rush, huge amounts of time and dedication. I love all of it. Except for the business part of the business. That is the hardest part of all for me, and the only part that I never enjoy.

What do you do when you are not writing?
If I am not writing or singing or directing or doing comedy, then I am mentoring young people. Just about everything I do is in some way connected to show business, except for my spiritual life.
That alone is separate and apart.

Come Up with one question I did not ask you for next profile 
No one ever asks me how I obtained my knowledge of show business history. The answer to that alone would fill an entire blog!

Name one person you would like to see profiled on my blog 
I would like to see Dawn Wells interviewed in your blog. Few people realize that she has toured with dozens of plays all over the country and has many stage stories to share that have nothing to do with Gilligan's Island.

Anything else you wish included? 
Please mention that I will be performing at Germanos in Baltimore on April 25th and at The Triad Theatre in NYC on April 29th.

Richard Skipper Also Celebrates...
The 84th annual Drama League Awards will herald in a particularly distinguished group of theatremakers, judging by the list of nominees announced this morning. Read MORE.

Spring is the most wonderful time of the year—for New York City thespians, that is. As a final wave of Broadway and Off-Broadway productions open in time to qualify for prestigious accolades, honors, and other theater-related trophies, voters from a variety of organizations will be in attendance, tasked with choosing this season’s best stagecraft. Read MORE

I just got this from Equity: This season will be the last for the name "Gypsy Robe."
The tradition and the ceremony before opening night of a Broadway musical, in which Equity honors the chorus member with the most Broadway Chorus credits, will continue, but the name will change.
The word "Gypsy" originates as a slur employed against the Romani people. Romani (also called Roma) people didn't travel from place to place because they wanted to. Historically, they traveled because no one, no country, no sovereign state, accepted them. Still today they suffer persecution and are treated as second-class citizens.
They obviously didn't have a union behind them negotiating their time or travel conditions or overtime rates.  To my fellow actors?Your thoughts? Chrissy Fournier, Lee Roy Reams, Jana Robbins...Are Gypsy, Gypsy In My Soul, and She's No Longer a Gypsy now offensive? Have we gone too far? Read MORE

The complete cast is now set for the pre-Broadway engagement of The Cher Show. Bringing the music icon to the stage are three women who will play Cher at various stages of her life: the previously reported Tony nominee Stephanie J. Block, Teal Wicks (Wicked, Finding Neverland), and Micaela Diamond (NBC’s recent live Jesus Christ Superstar). Read MORE

Legendary Broadway and screen actress Carole Cook makes her New York cabaret debut at the age of 93. After receiving rave reviews in Los Angeles and San Francisco, this fabulous evening of memories and song comes to Feinstein’s/54 Below. Carole sings numbers from Sondheim to Coleman – from Billy Barnes to Jerry Herman.
She recalls a scrapbook of memories, from being Lucille Ball’s protege to working with Ethel Merman. Order your tickets HERE.

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




May 20th, 2018 

Russ Woolley Proudly Presents
Richard Skipper Celebrates Liberace and Friends

1 PM Brunch Show Laurie Beechman Theater 
As we Celebrate (Russ' Birthday!), we celebrate Leanne Borghesi, David Maiocco (as Liberace), David Sabella, Jim Speake*, AND Those Girls* (Karen Mack, Eve Eaton, Rachel Hanser, Wendy Anne Russell) Tickets are now on sale! Reserve TODAY and Let's Celebrate!

So — Order your tickets now online…
RESERVATIONS A MUST!

Musical Direction Joe Goodrich with Don Kelly on Percussion, Matt Scharfglass on bass, and Erik Lawrence on Sax
*Steven Ray Watkins will accompany Jim Speake and Those Girls 
With music, reminisces and an afternoon of fun and show business! 90 minutes of merriment and excitement …Right on the heels of the 4/8 Richard Skipper Celebrates Life in the Theatre

When and Where:
Sunday, May 20th - 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 Celebrate and honor … 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… 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…
RESERVATIONS A MUST!

https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10248067

A Few Audience Testimonials about Richard Skipper Celebrates
Richard Skipper Celebrates Carol Channing on Her 97th Birthday was a party with a marvelous host
Sondra Lee, Beth Fowler, Lee Roy Reams
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.

-Joshua Ellis, NYC

As someone relatively new to the world of cabaret, I absolutely loved Richard Skipper Celebrates. Not only was the talent amazing and the venue and atmosphere delightfully engaging, but the date we attended also happens to be my birthday so many, many thanks for making it a truly wonderful celebration of "my day" in music!

Kimberley Player, Portland, OR

It was my pleasure to be celebrated in a unique interview with Richard Skipper. He is the consummate host. I had a wonderful time! 
Medium Tracey Lockwood, https://traceylockwood.com
This Show Is Also Made Possible by  Wright Bros. Real Estate, Nyack New York

With grateful XOXOXs,

 

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NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!

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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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY

Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com





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