Monday, April 2, 2018

Happy April: Jillian Laurain

Don’t think. You already know what you have to do, and you know how to do it. What’s stopping you? — Tim Grover

 April 2 is the 92nd day of the year.  There are 273 days remaining until the end of the year.
 It is a SNOWY day here in New York.
As I  sit down to begin today's blog, I'm listening to Christine Pedi's show on the Broadway channel on Sirius XM, a guilty pleasure.
Happy Dyngus Day, sometimes also known as Wet Easter Monday, is a Polish holiday popular in Poland, Ukraine, and in Polish communities in the United States. Similar celebrations are held in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The celebration takes place after the Lenten season.

Be sure to add a bit o' #MUSIC to YOUR Monday !!!  🎹
As I listen to the music of Broadway, which will always be relevant, today I celebrate Bistro Award winner Jillian Laurain.
Jillian and I met when I was hosting Wednesday Night at The Iguana with Dana Lorge.


JILLIAN LAURAIN, the award-winning concert artist, appeared first in New York City at Rick Newman’s “Catch A Rising Star”, and The Improv. She later performed with the Eddie Chamblee Quartet at Sweet Basil’s and with the Hey Jackson Trio at Jimmy Weston’s.
She produced her successful one-woman shows at Danny’s Skylight Room which she later took on the road.
Ms. Laurain went on to enjoy an international career performing at Ronny Scotts in London and La Scimmia in Milan. Her work in Musical Theatre was at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, Long Island, in productions of The Sound of MusicThe Most Happy Fella, and Gypsy.

She performed in regional theatre throughout Westchester County and other Summer stock productions as Maria in West Side Story, Babe in The Pajama Game, and Nellie Forbush in South Pacific.
Two of her outstanding dramatic roles include Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf?
She is best known for her stirring portrayal as Aldonza in an Off-Broadway production of Man of La Mancha.
Jillian played the Queen of the Night in Hypatia at the Actors Studio.

Prior to crossing over onto the musical theater stage, Jillian enjoyed a successful career as an opera singer. She received her training from the Juilliard School of Music studying under Madame Marion Freshl. She later studied with Vincent LaSelva, founder of New York Grand Opera. She continued her studies in Modena, Italy where she was a favored pupil of Maestro Campogalliani, renowned teacher of Pavarotti and Tebaldi.
In Italy, critics agreed, “Ms. Laurain gave a sultry and commanding performance as Carmen.
Her rich mezzo sound was daring and seductive.”
Ms. Laurain has performed at the 92St Y, Iguana VIP Lounge, Triad NYC and The Metropolitan Room.
In 2011, she brought her show Hello, Gorgeous!: A Tribute To Barbra Streisand to the Laurie Beechman Theatre and the Metropolitan Room.
In 2012, she was seen again at the Metropolitan Room with her show Rhythmic Infusion and with her quartet at Jazz at Kitano in Kitano Hotel on Park Avenue in NYC.
Jillian appeared at The Town Hall in Christmas of 2013 with Marilyn Maye, Christine Andreas, and Leslie Uggams. She was awarded the 2014 Bistro Award for “Outstanding Vocalist” for her hit show My Broadway: 100 Years Of The Great White Way. More recent shows have included, The Rhythms Of My Life and Romanza.
Broadway Her Way garnered her even more top reviews in recent seasons.
Currently, Jillian is in rehearsals for another one of her one-woman shows with her stellar trio, An Evening of Musical Infusion premiering May 19, 2018. She continues to teach all aspects of proper vocal usage targeting breath support, diction and musicality in her studio in Manhattan.

Enjoy our Interview...

When you first got the idea for An Evening of Musical Infusion, what was your initial goal? 
That was not the initial name of the show but I changed pianist and since my current pianist is a jazz pianist I wanted to mix both our genres together...Classical and Jazz.
My goal is to entertain and make people feel good. Of course, the ultimate goal is them wanting to see and hear more of you!

Tell us about An Evening of Musical Infusion
My pianist and I are crossing, or melding, or "infusing" both our musical worlds into one show. So he will play most of the Bdwy songs as written and bringing his own jazz interpretations into some of the others. I will also be including a few numbers that are in his wheelhouse.

What is the most interesting fact you learned recently?  -
The interesting fact I learned recently...That I can still have the openness and capacity to learn new musical techniques.

Tell us a secret.
If I tell you then it isn't a secret anymore :)

Has your perspective changed any since starting this project?
Perspective has changed somewhat. Have decided to take out a number or two and replace it with a number or two that works best for both me and my pianist.

Do you think about revising a show after you've opened it?
Revising a show after you have done it is not a bad thing.
When you actually perform it in a professional setting you learn what worked in the show and what didn't. The space, the audience, the energy and/or reaction from the audience tells you a lot.

How do you see proceeding with your career?
Do you have an upcoming project in mind after this one?
I always plan two shows a year - sometimes three if I repeat one of two. I spend months preparing for each show and always hire the best in the business. It takes time because of everyone's availability. Proceeding with my career involves getting to perform with top-notch musicians and in top-notch venues.

Is doing what you do at all difficult?
I would not call what I do "difficult." It does take discipline along with the willingness to put in the time and money if you want to present yourself as professionally as you would like.
You have to be willing to give some things up in order to give what is needed to pursue the life of a singer.

What do you do when you’re not performing?
I am always working on the next show - looking for songs, perfecting ones I have done. I sing every day no matter how I feel. I also am a Vocal Technician.
I work with singers who have had damage done to their vocal chords. I also work with new talent guiding and nurturing the next generation of singers.

Can you tell us how the project came about, and where the source materials came from?
Originally, it was going to be only Broadway songs, but changing pianists I wanted to also bring in some more carefree numbers with more jazzy rhythms using the talents of my current piano player.

Anything else you wish included?
I guess what I would add is...I have found that the songs of Broadway work well for me at this period in my life, so I always want to include them in a show I do.
My classical training enables me to continue taking on some pretty tour-du-force numbers. In 2014 I was awarded the Bistro Award for Outstanding Vocalist and I will always continue to uphold that title and give the audience the best of me.
I also was told by a friend many many years ago when I was going through a hard time, "Never let anyone steal your joy." She is still my friend! 
And finally this one - "God never gives us more of a burden then we can handle." 
Jillian Laurain 
An Evening of Musical Infusion 

Bringing together some of the greatest songs the Broadway stage and the world of Jazz…  On May 19th these two genres share the same stage  Please join Jillian along with her Trio, 

Matt Baker, Marco Panascia, Kenny Hassler 
Don’t Tell Mama 
at 8pm 
$20 cover/2drink min 
 $15 MAC members 
“Jillian Laurain is a consummate performer 
 in the style of which it can be said, 
“they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.” 
Marilyn Lester, Theater Pizzazz 
“A rare blend: A beautifully trained voice 
and classic supper-club elegance, 
meshed with perceptive interpretation.” 
Roy Sander, 
Jillian Laurain Concert Artist/Vocal Technician, Pianist, Director  
Backstage Bistro Award Winner for Outstanding Vocalist  
 email: web: 

Richard Skipper ALSO Celebrates...

Hilary Kole is preparing a brand new show for The Iridium on Sunday, April 29th. It’s called Hilary
Kole’s SONGBIRDS and will consist of All female Singers/Songwriters only - what/ who are your favorites?? 

Irving! The Irving Berlin Revue
April 15, 2018   3:30-5:30pm
Lang Hall – Hunter College
(between 69th Street & Park and Lex Ave)
Gen Adm-$25    Seniors-$17     Students-$12
Buy your tickets now online at 
or Call 917-371-5509 to pay with credit card.
AND....the number address in the Narnia Festival section is incorrect.  It is 400 East 58th Street.
This will be part of the Narnia International Festival.  Please contact or Lucy Kerman (917-371-5509) if you would like to help a child. You can donate with your credit card on their website or by phone (917-371-5509).  If you would like to pay with a check, please mail it to The Ziegfeld Society, 400 East 58th Street, Suite 16C, NY NY 10022.

The Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, a department within the College of Fine,
Add caption
Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State University, will honor legendary Broadway lighting designer, Natasha Katz, with the 2018 Apple Award on Thursday, April 19, 2018 during an invitation-only ceremony at the Fisher Theatre prior to that evening's performance of Broadway's School of Rock, for which Ms. Katz designed the lighting.

“Forever Plaid” started right here at the West Bank nearly 30 years ago before
transferring uptown for nearly 2000 performances,” stated
creator/director Stuart Ross. “The show has played on every continent
(except the South Pole!) but The Plaids miss New York and knew the Laurie
Beechman would make the perfect place to return for the BC/EFA benefit
performances.” The Plaids will be played by: Sean Bell as Smudge, Nick
Cearley as Sparky, Joshua David Cavanaugh  as Frankie, and Michael Buchanan as Jinx.

Special Guests: members of the Original New York and National Touring Cast
Members: Paul Castree, David Engel, Drew Geraci, Javier Ignacio, Nick
Locilento, Rodney Peck, Ryan Perry, Kilty Reidy, Justin Sargent, Clif Thorn,
Michael Winther, Garris Wimmer and more.
This Night of a special harmonic convergence is produced by Richard Martini, the production is
directed by Stuart Ross with David Hancock Turner serving as music director, David Engel is the
associate director and Jason Buell as production coordinator.
The performance schedule for Forever Plaid at The Beechman Theatre (407 West 42 nd  Street -
located in the lower level of the West Bank Café) is as follows: Thursday, April 5 th  (7PM); Friday, April
6 th  (7PM); and Saturday, April (7 th  PM). Cover charge $35 plus a $20 food/beverage minimum.

For reservations log on to

Bernadette Peters is garnering praise in Hello, Dolly!, following in the footsteps of Bette Midler. But who will step into the role after Peters hangs up her corset? Read MORE

The veteran Broadway chorus boy Bradley Jones, who segued into a career as a psychoanalytic clinician and author, is currently in the midst of a crowd-pleasing comeback to the stage.  His cabaret debut, which took off in a sold-out, one-night stand at The Metropolitan Room last year, continues for three nights this spring.  Dr. Bradley’s Fabulous Functional Narcissism: The Solo Show, Jones’s raucously funny and insightful coming of age story that rockets through the ‘60s of his childhood, through the ‘70s and ‘80s of his Broadway years, all the way to the present, get started for two nights at The Laurie Beechman at the West Bank Café, 407 West 42nd Street, on Friday May 11, at 7pm and Saturday May 19, at 1pm.  The fun continues for a third date at Don’t Tell Mama, 343 West 46th Street, on Friday, June 15 at 8pm. Jones is supported by a quartet, The Freudians, led by Mike Pettry, the show’s music director, on piano, with Alden Banta on woodwinds, Jacob Silver on bass, and Zack Eldridge on percussion.
Now, go and do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return!

Born on this day in 1891 Max Ernst

Here are a Few Testimonials for Richard Skipper Celebrates: Next One March 18th 1PM Laurie Beechman Theater:
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

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 2/11 Russ Woolley's CELEBRATES Richard Skipper's’ BIRTHDAY…SELL-OUT Extravaganza…

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
There's nothing I love better than doing a lot of show tunes with a lot of superior performers – and that's what I got to do last week in the John Kander Birthday Tribute, thanks to Richard! It was such a pleasure to work with each other at long last, after knowing each other for 35 years! I have three words of advice, next time you hear of a Richard Skipper event with this level of talent: Don't Stay Home
-Fred Barton, NYC

If you have never been to one of Richard and Russ’s shows, you have missed out on one of the most joyous occasions! The talent unmatched and the venue intimate. Richard brings the whole audience in and if he could fit us all up on that stage, he would🤗I’ve got my tickets for April 8th!
Kathleen Hochberg, Bethlehem PA

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
 Add your own comments HERE
Check out our promo video:
-->  The show is also made possible by Wright Bros. Real Estate. 

With grateful XOXOXs,


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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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Richard Skipper, 

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