Tuesday, October 18, 2011


"We need to realize that we only have one economic asset, it's the creativity of ALL our people"

Happy Tuesday!
I have often said how lucky I am. I am always surrounded by music. My day began today by listening to a rough cut of one of the tracks to Peggy Herman's upcoming CD, Herman on Herman. I cannot wait! So today I am writing about those that continue to make the world a better place with their talents.
I saw Peggy Herman's show at The Metropolitan Room and fell in love with Peggy all over again. I have devoted several blogs to Peggy. She was a fixture on the cabaret scene for years. Then she left New York for a while and made a splashy comeback this summer.
Musical directed by Alex Rybeck (next to me above). Here's hoping this cd is released before the end of this year...which happens to be Jerry Herman's 80th year!
For quite a while this Herman could actually say “I’m Mrs. Jerry Herman . . . not that one! But what’s in a name.” Seems she was married, for a while, to Jerry Herman, a carpet salesman. After splitting with the rug guy, she got back to doing what she was obviously born to do . . . sing! After a hiatus from the cabaret scene, and with a natural affinity and love of the Jerry Herman songs, her latest club act sparkles with the brilliant and unique arrangements of Musical Director Alex Rybeck and under the direction of Peter Glebo, and nine-timeTony Award Winner Tommy Tune.
Wherever this Herman has been hiding, who knows? But the packed houses this past June at the Metropolitan Room and other cabaret enthusiasts have a good thing going with her return. She possesses a rich mezzo quality, with smatterings of all rainbow colors, and knows precisely how to use its subtleties.

Stories about her name, the mix ups and husbands are sprinkled throughout. The most essential, however, is how many familiar, and some unfamiliar, Jerry Herman tunes have been creatively presented. It’s like listening to his songs for the first time with Alex Rybeck’s distinctive arrangements. Paired with “No Tune Like a Showtune,” “It’s Today” as a slow bossa became a sexually suggestive rendition. The unforgettable “Mame” was a slow swing into quick double time, the name never even mentioned until the last breath. The poignant pairing of “Song on the Sand” and “And I Was Beautiful” presented an engaging story with a dusting of soft touches.
And speaking of Jerry Herman, there are LOTS of Jerry Herman happenings happening around NYC.
On the occasion of the Manhattan concert presentation of Jerry Herman's first Broadway musical, Milk and Honey, here's a conversation with the composer-lyricist, reflecting on his first brush with Broadway. Thank God for Angela Lansbury, Jerry Herman, and 'We Need a Little Christmas'! Check out he video clip below of Jerry receiving the MUCH DESERVED Kennedy Center Honor for his legacy of work)
In early 1960, following a performance of his revue Parade at the Players Theatre in Greenwich Village, 28-year-old Jerry Herman — the future composer-lyricist of Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage aux Folles — was playing exit music on the piano (yes, he was his own band) when he was approached by a well-dressed man bearing a business card. The stranger, Gerard Oestreicher, was looking for a songwriter for a musical he wanted to produce on Broadway. Forty-eight years later, in April 2008, in anticipation of DRG Records' re-release of the original cast album of Milk and Honey — the musical that came of that meeting — Herman reflected on the creation of his first Broadway show, which marked his graduation from topical revuer to musical dramatist. And Broadway legend.
This conversation between Herman and Playbill.com managing editor Kenneth Jones first appeared in the liner notes of DRG's 2008 reissue of the original cast album.

You were playing piano at the Players Theatre when the stranger — producer Gerard Oestreicher — approached you?
Jerry Herman: It was so out of a Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney movie, somebody coming up to a piano-player and saying, "I'm going to be doing a musical on Broadway next year and I'd like to talk to you…" I didn't really take it seriously, I thought this is some strange guy. But he handed me his card, and called the next day and made an appointment and I went. And he was for real. He was a major real-estate person. [Oestreicher later owned Broadway's Uris Theatre, now called the Gershwin.]

He wanted to produce a show about the young nation of Israel, which was just 12 years old at the time.
JH: He said, "Do you know anything about Israeli music?" And I said, "Oh, yes, I know everything about it," and of course I knew nothing about it. [Laughs.] But I told him I came from a Jewish home. I frankly really went into this blindfolded — I had no idea what music sounded like in Israel, or anything about Israel. He sent me with a book writer [Don Appell], who I had never met, into Israel and we were really wined and dined by the Israeli government because they wanted good publicity about the new country.

Nov 12
LOCAL 802 MUSICIAN'S HALL, 322 West 48th Street, NYC
An Afternoon Celebrating The Legacy of Jerry Herman
I host along with Klea Blackhurst, Ken Bloom, Marge Champion, Amber Edwards (Words and Music, the award winning documentary on Jerry Herman), Sondra Lee (Hello Dolly!'s original Minnie Faye), Miles Phillips, Donald Pippin, Lee Roy Reams with John Fischer on piano.

Nov 28
THE TRIAD, 158 West 72nd Street
This is the launch of a new series. Once a month, Richard will be celebrating a different theme. A Benefit for Carol Channing's Foundation for the Arts. (www.ChanningArts.org) Anna Bergman,Diane J. Findlay, Peggy Herman, Sue Matsuki, Miles Phillips, Jana Robbins, Richard Skipper, Lee Roy Reams, Walter Willison, Bob Mattern, John Patrick Schutz, Sara Rice. RESEVATIONS A MUST! $25 show, $50 includes champagne reception with cast.RESERVE TODAY! This show is selling out!

In other musical news, also CD related, I am thrilled that Jane is on the pre-nominating ballot for her new CD "Don't Look Back" which I LOVE!
Jazz Arrangement for vocals:       Eleanor Rigby   (arr. Jane Stuart)
                                                          Experiment  (arr. Dick Oatts) 

"Don't Look Back" available at CDBaby.com / iTunes / Amazon.com
Bruce Lindsay for All About Jazz

Traditions are beautiful, and traditions must change ... as sunrise follows sunset. The wedding classic "Sunrise, Sunset" has been revised to suit all couples' needs: 

 "I've been doing same-sex weddings since New York law permitted it in July," said Rev. Joshua Ellis, whose new career as a New York-based Interspiritual minister was preceded by many years as a theatrical press agent in New York City. "And something was missing. Nobody was singing 'Sunrise, Sunset.' It's sung all the time in weddings of mixed couples. I guessed it was because they talk about a little boy and a little girl. So I contacted [lyricist] Sheldon Harnick."

 Ellis continued, "Within a few days, he wrote a note back. He'd contacted Richard Ticktin, who was best friend of Jerry Bock and his representative. Attached to that email were revised lyrics of the song." Ellis then gently asked Harnick if he could also write a set of lyrics for a female couple. Those arrived soon after.
There are now versions for opposite-sex and same-sex marriage. Isn't that lovely, and wholly within the spirit of "Fiddler on the Roof"? Brings a tear to this little yenta's eye, I tell you what. . 

In gay Jewish weddings, who steps on the glass?
FREE ENTERTAINMENT TIP From Bobbie Horowitz's Blog!
T’is the season for many new shows and musicals to be given showcase in not for profit theaters around the country. NYC has a plethora of them opening very shortly. If you are in the city, do check out one or more shows in the “Musicals In Mufti” series presented by The York Theatre. With Broadway performers in them they’re a great deal. Visitors should also know about Musical Mondays Theatre Lab. Tickets to shows they present are very inexpensive. The AMAS Musical Theater and plays at The Woman’s Project can, also, be excellent.  While promises can’t be made for the showcases, industry members who are looking for their next commercial project often attend presentations given by these and other not for profits.

I LOVE when I hear Good news about my friends and colleagues and yesterday, I heard some really good news. First of all, a new musical is in the works based on The Honeymooners. This is going to be directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. There is an upcoming reading in the works. Yesterday, my friend, Michael Walters (who has been appearing as Jackie Gleason for over 20 years) flew up to New York yesterday and floored Mitchell and Bernie Telsey. In this business, you never know how these things unfold. However, I want to commend Michael for flying up yesterday just for this audition. I love those that take chances!
Michael Walters is the world's foremost Jackie Gleason tribute artist. 
During his many years of performing as Gleason, Michael has earned prestigious engagements such as performing a live tribute to The Jackie Gleason Show at the Gleason Theatre in Miami, Florida. 
He was also given the rare chance to perform for both June Taylor (Jackie's sister-in-law and the creator of Gleason's "June Taylor Dancers") and Marilyn Taylor Gleason (Jackie's wife) at Jan McArt's Royal Palm Theatre as Jackie's character Uncle Sid in the critically acclaimed live production of “Take Me Along.” Following the performance, Miss Taylor remarked "Anyone can yell like Jackie, but (Michael) talks and even whispers like him." Recently, Michael was contacted for a developing reality series revolving around the classic film "Smokey and the Bandit" in which Walters would have portrayed the infamous character Buford T. Justice during produced segments of the series. Michael's image was even approved by Universal film corporation as Jackie's likeness for commemorative "Smokey and the Bandit" merchandise. Always a true Gleason fan, Michael masterfully emulates the charisma, passion, and comic timing for which Jackie Gleason became known as "The Great One." 

Talk About Your Holiday Garland! Lorna Luft Will Star in Paper Mill's White Christmas! (Source Kenneth Jones, Playbill.com)
Broadway, recording and concert star Lorna Luft will play salty New Englander Martha, a showbiz veteran who keeps the books at a Vermont inn, in Paper Mill Playhouse's holiday-season run of Irving Berlin's White Christmas, running Nov. 16-Dec. 24.
Full casting will be announced in the near future.
Luft appeared in as Fran in the original run of Broadway's Promises, Promises, and toured as Adelaide in the Jerry Zaks-directed revival of Guys and Dolls.
At 16, she shared the bill with her mom on Broadway in Judy Garland: At Home at the Palace in 1967.
Following the 2004 West End debut of her one-woman show Songs My Mother Taught Me, she starred in the 2006 U.K. premiere production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas.
She returned to her role in White Christmas for the 2007 winter season at the Edinburgh Playhouse and the Wales Millennium Centre.
In 1998, Luft added a new dimension to her multi-faceted career, that of New York Times best-selling author upon the release of her critically acclaimed memoir, "Me and My Shadows."
It was optioned by ABC-TV and broadcast as a four-hour miniseries starring Judy Davis in February 2001.

She served as co-executive producer on "Life with Judy Garland: Me & My Shadows," which garnered the highest ratings of the season and won 5 Emmy Awards.
Lorna Luft (born November 21, 1952) is an American television, stage, and film actress and singer. The half-sister of singer and actress Liza Minnelli.

She also created the acclaimed multi-media production called Songs My Mother Taught Me — A Celebration of the Music of Judy Garland, melding Garland's signature songs with personal memories.
It won two Los Angeles Theatre Alliance Ovation Awards (Best World Premiere Musical & Best Musical Direction.) A CD based on the concert, produced by Barry Manilow and Colin R. Freeman, was released in 2007 on First Night Records.
Luft was born in Santa Monica, California to Judy Garland (who was of Irish and Scottish descent) and her third husband, Sid Luft (who was of German and Russian descent). She made her show business debut at age 11 singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" on the 1963 Christmas episode of her mother's CBS television series, The Judy Garland Show. Siblings Liza Minnelli and Joey Luft also appeared in this episode.
She soon joined the family act on a summer concert tour, the highlight being Garland’s third and final appearance at New York City's famed Palace Theatre on Broadway in 1967.
In this month-long engagement, Judy Garland "shared" the bill with Lorna (then 14 years old) and son Joey (12 years old). The show was recorded live and released on ABC Records as Judy Garland: At Home At The Palace.
Luft is married to her second husband, musician Colin R. Freeman.

I have been fortunate enough to call among my friends several celebrities. The one thing that I've gleaned from them beyond their bodies of work is their humanness.

Thank you to all of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you ALL have given to the world!

Nov 15
ARTS COUNCIL OF ROCKLAND, 185 North Main Street, Spring Valley, New York 10977
Join the Arts Council and critically acclaimed, multi-award winning performer/director Richard Skipper for this 'how to' workshop on building audiences and creating a following for performers, visual artists, writers and any other individual or group looking to expand their fan base and reach beyond their borders. Skipper, a career consultant and co-producer of the 2010 and 2011 Bistro Awards brings years of experience to this workshop. Beyond the 3 F's (friends, family, fellow performers/artists) will focus on how to get you the attention that you need. Topics include how to use the Internet to your advantage in marketing; how to get your name "out there"; cold calling; creating a contract specific to your needs; how to create a press kit that shows you to your best possible advantage and more! Attendees are surveyed before the workshop to determine their needs. Richard customizes the workshop so that each participant gets their questions answered.
The workshop is free for members of the Arts Council and $25 for non-members. Space is limited. Reservations can be made by calling 845-426-3660, e-mailing info@artscouncilofrockland.org or by visiting www.artscouncilofrockland.org.
The Arts Council strives to be a fragrance-free workplace. Attendees are asked to please refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes or other strong scents. This event is co-sponsored with Arts in Orange and made possible, in part, with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency and with a generous grant from KeyBank.

Thank you for joining me on these nostalgic journeys! I've added a new aspect to my blog.. I am now answering a question on video that YOU send to me. You can ask me ANYTHING and I will answer your question on video within my blog. Send your questions to

Next question will be answered tomorrow! (Thank you, once again, Stephen Artist)

"Richard, for supporting the ARTS and calling attention to the STARS of yesterday. You are a STAR in your own right!! With admiration and friendship"
Arlene Dahl

Amber Edwards and Jerry Herman

Thank you to all who have encouraged me! Thanks to all who have tried to stifle my art. I have learned from ALL of you!
Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL!


Director Peter Glebo and Peggy Herman

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Tomorrow's blog will be YOU TELL ME I'm open to suggestions!


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com


  1. I so wish I could be there. I know it will be a magical night.

  2. Richard - I am marking November 28th on my calendar.....and starting a Novena that we can make the show. It sounds amazing and falling shortly after Thanksgiving, something to be really thankful for. Here's hoping.
    Paul Brogan