Monday, October 24, 2011


Happy Birthday, BD Wong
The arts--visual and musical--are our only shared language, understood by everyone, regardless of their spoken vocabulary. It never ceases to amaze me that politicians see them as the most expendable. But then, why should it?
From A Post on Facebook by Pat Esgate

Happy Monday!
hope you had a great weekend and are gearing up for a great week. 
I'm looking forward to seeing Jason Graae's Perfect Hermony show tomorrow night at The Laurie Beechman. 

We have a great party attending. If you would like to join us, please let me know. Yesterday, my blog was about Julie London and Roberta Sherwood. Afterwords, we went to Ned Kelly's in Piermont for the launch of Marc Rosen's latest creation, a book! "Glamour Icons" about his life and career surrounded by glamour and his work in the perfume packaging industry. A GORGEOUS book and a great holiday gift idea if you are looking for the perfect gift. I may even be able to get him to autograph it with you?

What does EVERYTHING I've written about so far have in common?   
They ALL involve or are part of art! 
Can you imagine a world without art? As you read this blog today, I want you to imagine the world without any of the names you read about here.
If some of our politicians have anything to do with it, we won't have any art in the world. With budget cuts happening EVERYWHERE, the first thing to get cut is the arts. I treasure all of my art, drama, and music teachers I had in school. 

Here in Rockland County, where we were able to call Helen Hayes our own (she lived in Nyack), where I live, the county executive is schedule to cut all funding for the arts! Miss Hayes must be spinning in her grave.
If any of you ever did a school play, you know that this opportunity builds a very strong sense of community. Kids working together for a common goal AND realizing that it truly does take a village. Those working on stage in roles of different sizes. 
(I don't dare say big roles and "small" roles!) and that's it's not only what happens on stage but what happens behind the scenes! 
Building costumes and sets requires math skills (see they are intertwined).

Years ago, I got involved with a high school in Weston, Connecticut. 
I got involved because of their production of "Hello, Dolly!". I received a "google alert" because of Hello, Dolly!
There upcoming high school production was looking for costume pieces. 
Being the pro-active person that I am (Sidney Myer calls me a stand-up person in a sit-down world), I called them. I spoke with Helen Story, the head of the costume department, and told her what I do, and offered to donate several pieces to their upcoming production. I arranged a meeting to come and meet her with what I had to offer and even got a chance to speak to the cast and drama department headed by the very talented Mr. Damian Long.  
Carol, 90, and Harry 91, have devoted their lives to Arts in Education (Photo credit, Patricia Gay)
That, I loved. Samantha Rehr, who played Dolly, wore my headpiece for the famous Harmonia Gardens scene (which, of course, includes the title song). 
My Dolly gown was too big for Samantha so it was on display in the school auditorium. Carol Channing even wrote a letter to be published in the school program. Patty Gay of The Weston Forum wrote about this. I was able to show my appreciation to Patty by arranging an interview for Patty to interview Carol Channing and Harry Kiullijian for their Foundation For The Arts. I have followed Samantha's trajectory into college and her pursuit of a career as an actress. I have seen her as Hedy LaRue in How To Succeed..., Rosalind in As You Like It,  The Mayor in Anyone Can Whistle. I see great things for this woman. I have become friends from her family. I envy the support this young woman has. I never had that.  I have enjoyed the growth of all of these kids and I am so proud of all of them. Subsequently, Patty and her husband have become friends ALL from a google alert for a high school production of Hello, Dolly!  
Patty joined me for the premier of Dori Berenstein's Carol Channing: Larger Than Life (which I am in!) which premiered earlier this year at The Tribeca Film Festival.  
AND Patty and Jerry were at our wedding. All of these things have ALL happened as a result of a google alert for a high school production of Hello, Dolly!

I think of the film, "It's A Wonderful Life. One of my favorite films. We are able to see firsthand what the community and lives would have been like if George Bailey had never lived. Imagine my life if Carol Channing had never lived! It's the same way I feel about the arts. What happens to our culture, our FUTURE, our society if we lose all funding for the arts. When Weston High school needed new bleachers for their football stadium, a generous doaner had it done! When they needed the seats for the auditorium redone, they had to do bake sales, magazine drives, ect. to raise the money. Why do so many people think that the arts are a luxury rather than a necessity?

With Rockland County facing a budget deficit, County Executive Scott Vanderhoef has indicated that he will ELIMINATE funding for ALL arts and cultural organizations in his proposed budget for 2012. This includes The Rockland Center for the Arts among other fine professional and volunteer arts organizations in the County. For most arts organizations the loss of funds will jeopardize more jobs and programs already affected by several years of recession. 
While non-profit arts organizations are tax exempt, the staffs, artists and arts educators they pay are not. Arts organizations contribute to the county's tax base. They purchase from local vendors and merchants as do their visitors, artists, performers, art educators, students, and audiences 

Years ago, I was appearing in Provincetown.Any of the artists reading this who have appeared there know that the worst part of that experience is the debilitating "hawking" that we have to do in order to get an audience in to see us. It doesn't matter if you are just starting out or a seasoned veteran. We are ALL in the same boat. Yes, there are the "gay icons" that everyone feels obligated to see...if for no other reason to talk about it afterwords. And, yet, there are so many options to choose from.
I remember about 10 years ago when I was appearing at The Crown And Anchor in P-Town. 
Yes, I was appearing as Carol Channing. So every afternoon around 5PM, which is prime time. People have left the beaches. They are now deciding on their evening plans. I am sitting on a high director's chair, dressed as Carol, posing for pictures, and encouraging people to spend "An Evening With Carol Channing".
As I was saying hello to people (I never came right and asked them to attend UNLESS they took a picture with me...THEN, I would encourage them to come and take more! 9 times out of 10, it worked!) 
My shows did very well that run. 
One particular incident stands out in my mind.A "lady" passed me and all I said was Hello. She threw up her right hand as if to halt me and said, "No, thanks, I'm a local!". I asked if I could have five minutes of her time. She said, "Sure. Why not? I have nothing to lose but five minutes". I asked what kind of a business she ran in town. She told me it was an art gallery. I told her that I knew for a fact of five women who were coming in that night from Rhode Island specifically to see ME!
They would be shopping, dining out, staying in a B&B or guest house, perhaps visiting galleries. She very well could benefit from my appearing in Provincetown! We are ALL interconnected. She came to see my show that night and continued to promote me while I was in town. 

Granting entities such as corporate and foundation funders want to know if the local community supports the arts, so local gov't funding sends the message that we add value to the community, and that in turn generates non-government funds for arts programs. We all need to realize that we are ALL connected. Cutting funding for the arts will have a spiral down effect that can affect every citizen or business. 
Here in Rockland, one of the most successful theatres continues on, now in its 35th season! Even though I live in Rockland County, when we go to see a show at Penguin Rep, we always eat out at a nearby restaurant. 

RoCA has served Rockland County for 64 years with quality exhibitions, performances, a fine School for the Arts, and a quality Day Camp that is still affordable for the middle class. Our education programs reach far into the community and serve the poorest school districts. Our grounds and sculpture park provide a destination for individuals and families at no charge. RoCA and many other arts organizations are productive contributers to Rockland's quality of life, and a reason that this County has a rich and diverse artistic heritage.
Imagine the landscape of New York cabaret without Metro Jam
The Salon, Wednesday Night at The Iguana, The Concerts at Tudor City Greens,  and Bronwyn Rucker's Frollics? 
This affects ALL of us and we ALL have to be pro-active! 
MetroJam, the open mic at The Metropolitan Room hosted by Jenna Esposito, continues its WEEKLY run at the Metropolitan Room on Friday, October 28th with its first ever HALLOWEEN BASH! Every MetroJam promises a highly entertaining and unique evening of entertainment, and this Friday will be more fun than ever, with Halloween-themed cookies and cocktails, as well as a costume contest! As always, MetroJam will be helmed by host Jenna Esposito and feature the fabulous MetroJam Band: John DiPinto on piano, Bobby Sher on drums, and Ritt Henn on bass!
Imagine if we never had those wonderful Rock Hudson Doris Day movies?

We ALL EVERY day benefit from the arts! We lost a great artist this week.  
 Kevin McVey sketched hundreds of performers, from Carol Channing to Harvey Fierstein, in his 26 years with the newspaper. Opera glasses at the ready, he made preliminary drawings while attending preview performances, and then fleshed out the sketches back at the office.

"Lord, make us ALL instruments of your PEACE". 

If you've been thinking of joining The Singing Experience - now is the time!  
After 34 years, 452 workshops, 400 acts and over 5000 grads,
Linda Amiel Burns is thinking of taking off some time in 2012 and there might not be another workshop for a while.....
Make this one the best ever!

Craig Pomranz goes to LA once again with his NEW SHOW "Love and the Clock!" November 4th & 5th! SALOON SINGER CRAIG POMRANZ grew up in St. Louis, graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High school, attended Nusach Hari B'nai Zion shul with his parents and all by himself appeared on stage at the Muny and the JCC. Then he was off to the Big Apple where he has lived since the early 1980s and where he has become a successful cabaret singer, modeled he says, after his idols Sammy Davis Jr. and Mel Torme.

Below are new reviews for "Love and the Weather" click link or scroll down...
Times Square Chronicle click here
Alix Cohen/ review click here
Love and the Weather/Sue Matsuki Review click here

Please help keep the arts thriving in your community by writing your legislators today!

The Legislature has 5 weeks to make changes before their final vote on Dec. 5th.

And Please Reserve Today:  
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 or by visiting
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.

Have your voice heard – You can make a difference!

Here’s what you can do:
1. Write paper letters or emails (sample attached) to County Executive Scott Vanderhoef (11 New Hempstead Road, New City, NY 10956, or

2. Call the County Executive (845-638-5122) and urge him to restore funding for the arts contract agencies.

3. Send letters to all Rockland County legislators (see attached sample letter) and send cc to County Executive Scott Vanderhoef (11 New Hempstead Road, New City, NY 10956). It is important that you lead off as in the letter saying that you are a taxpayer and a voter. This is an election year!

4. Call all Rockland County legislators (845-638-5100) to urge them to support restoration of funding for contract agencies.

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!

LOCAL 802 MUSICIAN'S HALL, 322 West 48th Street, NYC
An Afternoon Celebrating The Legacy of Jerry Herman
Richard Skipper hosts 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.

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

"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

Rock musician Bill Wyman is 75 today

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!


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

Actor F. Murray Abraham is 72 today


Richard Skipper,

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