The Suncoast AIDS Theatre Project, June, Moon, Spoon in Wurtsboro, Stephen Sondheim's COMPANY...and more!

"Frailty, thy name is no longer woman."
-Victor Riesel, American labor journalist (1913-1995)

Happy Saturday!

I hope this finds you well. Today, I am covering the Suncoast AIDS Theatre Project. I received a letter from them asking if I could bring attention to their upcoming event.
That's what I desire this blog to me.

A chance for me to promote others.
After all, what are we here for if not to help each other?
Here's to a great day!
And a great weekend, and the next five days!
What's YOUR forecast?
In other words, what three things are you doing today to ensure a sunny forecast over the next five days?

Greetings from the Suncoast AIDS Theatre Project.

We are about to produce our 7th Annual Prelude To Pride AIDS Benefits and since I admire what you gentlemen write and the high esteem I hold for gay theatre, I was wondering if you could post this or help me get the word out to kindred spirits.

Keep up the great work and I hope that this finds you both in the very best of health and spirits!

Theatre People, Performing Artists and AIDS.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of artists at an AIDS benefit in 1985.

Every Theatre, professional and community was represented.
There was an exuberance of love backstage and in the house.
I felt that I had finally found a good and loving family.
Most theatre people have felt this way.

Over the years there have been fewer and fewer AIDS Benefits. But when one does arrive, there they are - those theatre people.

You see them in New York post-performance asking for donations for Broadway Cares Equity fights AIDS.

When asked to give up their day off, they never say “no.” Their compassion and caring for People with HIV/AIDS survives. Maybe it’s because most theatre people have been affected by HIV/AIDS, lost loved ones or know others who are infected. Maybe it’s because like PWA’s theatre people have felt rejection or had to relinquish dreams of grandeur. Maybe it’s because we have a place, a world to take those who are hurting and celebrate our humanness for a couple hours.

It’s that spirit that overwhelms me 30 years later.

The Suncoast AIDS Theatre Project would appreciate your mentioning to your friends and colleagues the following two AIDS Benefits. There is still a need. Thank you.

Prelude To Pride: Charles Busch’s hilarious comedy, “The Divine Sister” Monday, June 20th, 7:30 pm American Stage Theatre, St. Petersburg,

“Divas Do Garland In Concert”

Monday June 27th, 7:30 pm.
FreeFall Theatre, St. Petersburg,

Garry Allan Breul

Artistic Director
The Suncoast AIDS Theatre Project is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization whose mission is to raise awareness, provide assistance, and perpetuate a life of dignity for those affected and infected by HIV and AIDS.

If you are in the vicinity of this event, PLEASE support them! They do great work! If not, please pay it forward to those who can!

Tonight in Wurtsboro,NY, enjoy great music from great singers! Sarah Rice, David Vernon, John Babcock...and that's just for starters!

Bridging the gap between theatre, television and film in a thrilling and revolutionary new way with this week's premiere of Stephen Sondheim's COMPANY, in select movie theaters nationwide Wednesday through Saturday (with a return engagement already scheduled for early July), director Lonny Price has introduced Sondheim's seminal concept musical comedy to a whole new generation of gleeks, as well as reverently keep the flame of the fire in the heart, soul and mind of this complex, rich and rewarding show for Broadway babies who already know its genius.

Additionally, Neil Patrick Harris, Christina Hendricks, Stephen Colbert, Jon Cryer, Katie Finneran, Aaron Lazar, Martha Plimpton, Patti LuPone and the rest of the cast are absolutely perfect for their roles and bring a live spontaneity and verve to their material - the kind which you usually only see in the very best shows on Broadway - and that sense of timing, precise editing and overall polished presentation style is a sure credit to Price's positively sublime direction of the live stage production with the NY Philharmonic, as well as - and maybe even more so - the movie version of the live show in theaters now. It bursts with energy and, well, aliveness, just like A real BROADWAY show. Make that: Just like A real BROADWAY smash hit.

Talking all aspects of COMPANY on film while still in the thick of editing it last month, Price was kind enough to open up about what the rehearsal process was like, filming it live and working with the all-star cast, as well as much, much more - all coming on the heels of last year‘s rapturously received Ellen Krass production of SONDHEIM! THE BIRTHDAY CONCERT, undoubtedly the finest Broadway concert capture of our age, as well as the live broadcast of Sondheim's PASSION for PBS LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER. Price discusses his affection for the material and the man behind the music, as well as his smashing leading ladies. Plus: what's next?

Be sure to stay tuned for the complete in depth interview featuring Price's recollections of Sondheim's MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG (and his forthcoming documentary about it), A CLASS ACT, directing DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, and news about the feature film version of Athol Fugard's MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS coming later this year - a play which he starred in on Broadway twenty-five years ago. Actor, producer, director, and, now, filmmaker - Price can certainly do it all!

Lonny, Come On Over For Dinner


The SONDHEIM! Birthday concert is one of the finest live performance captures I have ever seen - thank you for that.
LP: I was so thrilled that I got to do it. It means so much to me to be able to present something like that to the world as the director - and, as someone who loves theatre so much. It was so rewarding to give back to someone who has given so much to me as an actor and as a director like he has. It was important to me to do it justice and I am glad it turned out so wonderfully.

PC: What was it like getting the cast together? A Herculean feat if there ever were any - just for the seven ladies in red alone!

LP: Well, you know, when I do any of these things - everybody just jumped at the chance to do it.
PC: Why do you think that is?

LP: Well, first of all, it's the greatest material ever written.

PC: Indeed.

LP: And, of course, since it was his birthday, I think everybody kind of wanted to be at the party to celebrate him.
It was hard, logistically, sometimes, to get certain people in certain places at the right time - but, nothing overly difficult.

PC: You have it down to a science coming after SWEENEY TODD and CANDIDE and CAMELOT and so many live show tapings, it seems.
LP: I've got this amazing team - Matt and Josh and my whole team.
I've got such a great team - I do not do it alone. It is a group effort. Also, Paul Gemingani and the orchestra. Plus, you get to work on the best material ever written with the most amazing performers alive - and, you get to be in the room with them - so, how bad is all that? (Laughs.)

PC: Were the reactions of the ladies in red rehearsed?

LP: A little, yes. Obviously, like with George and Michael and Patti, we went over how they would all play off each other. They were so great, just to see those ladies all watching each other with so much respect. It was such a magical night and I am so glad it was on DVD.

PC: Did any songs not make the cut for the concert?

LP: A lot. But, it had to meet the time limit and I actually think limitations and boundaries are helpful. I mean, I could have had it go on for four hours, but I think we came up with a good balance of Steve's contributions.

PC: Was Patti doing GYPSY considered?

LP: Of course. But, it became a question of balance and not too many songs with just lyrics. I am certainly not unhappy with how it turned out, so it worked out fine. I wish it could have been four and a half hours, though.

PC: You and me both! Ellen Krass broke the news in this column that COMPANY would come after the SONDHEIM! Concert.
What is your relationship with her like?

LP: Everything I've ever done - all of these tapings and this film - has been with Ellen. I am so grateful to her. She makes them all happen - and, she is incredibly effective. They are not all huge money-makers for people, but she makes them happen. They would simply not exist if it was not for her - you would not hold a DVD in your hands of any of these shows without Elllen Krass.
PC: Or, in the case of COMPANY now - a movie ticket! And, someday, a Blu-Ray.

LP: Right! Right.

PC: The Sondheim! Concert was such a success, so COMPANY seems the ideal first full Sondheim show film to make.

LP: Yeah, the SONDHEIM! DVD sold something like twenty-two thousand units in the first month or two. That's pretty great.

PC: And on PBS.
LP: For the birthday concert, over 850,000 people watched it the first time on PBS, and more than a million watched it, including the rebroadcast - so, that's a huge amount of people exposed to Steve's work. There's a lot of people out there who love him and love what he's done.

PC: And you also recently presented PASSION, broadcast live.

LP: Yeah, that was particularly nerve-wracking. (Pause.) That's not my favorite thing - shooting it live is hard enough! But, broadcasting it live is so much work. A lot of editing usually goes on.
I love to be in the editing room. You can really make it beautiful, I think, when you have time to edit - so, I don't particularly enjoy the live broadcast thing. I don't think I will be doing too much more of that! (Laughs.)

PC: It's too limiting?

LP: Yeah, every mistake you make is there forever. There are certainly things in live broadcasts that I've done that I wish I could have gone back to edit and make better. It's hard, because you want it to be perfect, and it just isn't. Even in the edited ones, it's not everything you want it to be - but, it's closer.

PC: That PASSION reinvented the piece in many ways. It was much more visceral and alive than the Broadway production.

LP: Thank you, I really appreciate that. The three of us - Patti, Audra and I - worked on it a lot and the more we worked on it the more I grew to appreciate all the things in it. That was a learning experience on that one. I really learned a lot from it.

PC: What is your relationship with Patti LuPone like?

LP: Well, Patti and I have known each other for a really long time.
We actually acted together - I think it was in the early eighties - in this series of original musicals for PBS.

They only ended up doing one, but they had formed this little rep company and Patti and I were in it and each of us was supposed to get a lead role in one.
Patti was in it and Priscilla Lopez and Ellen Foley were in it, too.
We just got along famously. I just have such great respect for her. I think she is one of the most brilliant performers ever - and, certainly, one of the most accomplished actors or actresses of our time.
Read more:

Memorial Planned for Former Theatre By The Sea Producer Tommy Brent
Plans are underway for a memorial performance celebrating the life of former Theatre By The Sea producer Tommy Brent, who passed away June 4. The event, entitled SONGS ON THE SAND: A Broadway Concert Celebrating Tommy Brent, will take place at Theatre By The Sea on July 25, 2011.
(I appeared at Theatre By The Sea in the summer of 1996 in Little Rhodie's Burleaque Review directed by Richard Sabellico)
During his years at Theatre By The Sea, Mr. Brent helped many artists get their start in the business. He introduced up-and-coming performers such as Cherry Jones, Tovah Feldshuh,
Michael McGrath and Frances Sternhagen.
He also started the career of Fred Barton,
Broadway conductor, TV composer and co-creator of the internationally acclaimed revue, Forbidden Broadway, which ran for 27 years off-Broadway and around the world.

"In 1977, Tommy took a chance on an 18-year-old novice, then, in 1979, made me his youngest musical director ever, and that gamble paid off for us both. He tutored me both sternly and gently, and never let me get away with anything less than better-than-my-best," said Mr. Barton. "He didn't just start my career, he made it, and this sentiment is held by countless other theatre professionals. We want to put on ‘one more show' just for Tommy."
(Karen Murphy, Fred Barton, Christine Pedi)

The cast of SONGS ON THE SAND will feature alumni of Tommy Brent's productions, including Mr. McGrath, Gary Lynch, Karen Wilder, Mr. Barton and many others.
Mr. Barton, Mr. McGrath and other alumni are producing this memorial with the support of Mr. Brent's family and in cooperation with Ocean State Theatre Company (OSTC), the not-for-profit producing entity at Theatre By The Sea. OSTC is also working with the family to set up a directed fund in Mr. Brent's honor. Any performing alumnus/alumna of the Tommy Brent years interested in participating should contact Mr. Barton at

The concert will be free and open to the public. Specific details regarding the celebration will be released shortly and will also be made public at

Friends are also invited to a celebration of Mr. Brent's life to be held on Saturday, June 18 at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, 2315 Brinkley Road, Fort Washington, MD from 10 am until a Mass of Christian Burial is celebrated at 11 am Interment Cedar Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for contributions to be made in Tommy's name to Ocean State Theatre Company, c/o Amiee Turner, Producing Artistic Director, P.O. Box 302, Wakefield, RI 02880 or online at

Mr. Brent was first introduced to Theatre By The Sea in the late 1940s, when he worked on a documentary about theaters in New England. He returned in 1958 for a one-year stint as the theatre's press agent. Ten years later, learning of the theatre's imminent demolition, Mr. Brent galvanized the local community and saved the theatre. He produced over 100 musicals and plays there from 1967 through 1988.

Mr. Brent credited himself with helping save the theatre a second time, in 2007, bringing together Amiee Turner, Joel Kipper, and Bill Hanney to reopen Theatre By The Sea after it stood dark for four years.


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