Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dana Lorge and Richard Skipper: OUR Story!

Richard Skipper Celebrates May 25th!
Everything popular is wrong. Oscar Wilde

Happy Tuesday, May 17th, 2016!
It is hard to believe that we are halfway through May and this time next month we will be halfway through the year!
It is also hard to believe that in 10 days I will be returning to the stage after an almost five year absence.
I am very excited about this show. It is a culmination of everything that I have learned up to this point. It will be a celebration of LIFE
and those that have added to our lives on so many levels. I want it to be a chance to bridge the past with the present. I am reminded daily of how fleeting Life is. People, events, things are only temporary. As much as we try to hold on, it is a daunting task.
Let's celebrate! We need to! I hope you'll join us! We HAVE TO SEIZE THE DAY!

Today's blog is very personal to me. In the last few weeks, one of my best friends transitioned. This woman touched everybody that came into contact with her. She was a force of nature. So much, in fact, that I still feel her presence. I feel that she is still among us...and she is! I'm convinced that she is just in Florida. I am talking about Dana Lorge. I hope that all who will read this will see the intent with which I am writing this. I LOVED HER. When people become TRUE "family", they experience the ups and downs of any true family. That is what this blog is about. This was OUR relationship.
There must me some karmic path that I am on. My husband is Dan. My on stage "wife" for a long time was Dana! Dan...Dana!
I met Dana in the summer of 1995. I was appearing as Judy Garland at Don't Tell Mama.
My publicist at the time was Philis Raskind. We were invited to an open house at her one Sunday afternoon. It was like a party at Mame Dennis's with ALL of the denizens that you probably would have found at one of her soirees. Although it was a crowded party,
I was drawn to one particular person, Dana!
She was dressed to the nines with the largest lashes I had seen since Carol Channing, glitter lipstick, and bright red acrylic nails. We introduced ourselves and laughed our heads off about silly things. I felt like I knew this woman my entire life. I felt as if I had found a soulmate. There was a man sitting at the piano and a few people got up to sing. I said to her, "Why don't you get up and sing?" She said, "How do you know I'm a singer?" I said, "You look like a singer. Why don't you get up and sing?" She said, "No, I only do special material and obscure songs." I went over to the man sitting at the piano
and encouraged him to get  her up to sing.
He tried as well. She said the same thing as well. He said, "What kind of obscure material." He answered with, "Such as?" She responded with "I'd Love to Hate Myself in the Morning". He said, "I wrote that". She started laughing and said, "Of course you did!" He began to play and she almost fell over! The man was John Meyer who WROTE THE SONG!
She, of course, brought the house down, and we were on the path to a long friendship.
I was told by a close friend recently that Dana once told her I was her clone. For a long time, the strangest thing would happen. With no planning, we would sometimes show up wearing the SAME EXACT color!
Dana and I won TWO MAC Awards for Wednesday Night at the Iguana
One time, we both showed up at an Easter party wearing the SAME EXACT shade of canary yellow!
I was wearing a BRIGHT YELLOW shirt and tie and Dana had a matching dress with yellow fur around the sleeves. Everyone was convinced that we had planned it. Over the course of the next few years, from time to time, Dana and I would get the opportunity to do a number or two at a party or special event. She was a frequent guest at our home and I'm going to miss that larger than life presence that always added so much to our home and parties. Her presence is all around me. As I sit here, there is a photo of Dana and I directly across from me with both of OUR MAC Awards on either side of the photo.

In  2009, Joan Crowe was hosting a Wednesday Night series upstairs at The Iguana Restaurant called Hump Night at The Iguana.
I'm not exactly sure how long she hosted it before it fell into my lap. One day, Joan called me up and asked if I would take over for a few weeks while she launched a series of shows at The Metropolitan Room in celebration of her latest CD. I said to Joan that the first thing that I wanted to do was change the name from Hump Night at The Iguana to Wednesday Night at The Iguana. She gave me the go ahead and I immediately contacted Dana and asked her if she would like to co-host together. Before I could get it out, she said a resounding YES! We then both agreed on calling Barry Levitt to be our musical director. We also asked Saadi Zain to be our bass player.
We decided that we wanted it to be a
with Paul Wayne
"controlled" show and not an "open mic" where we would not know who are guests were each week.
We started putting our show together and started getting the word out. The response was so overwhelming right from the start. I was taking our own reservations with the plans to call them in to the Iguana. We got up to 125 reservations and I called the Iguana to let them know to be prepared for the onslaught and to have proper waitstaff on hand.
Unfortunately, they did not heed my warning. The night we started, there was literally a line up the stairs and out on to the street. Our friend Sue Matsuki was collecting money at the door. She, unfortunately, had to deal with the ire of those waiting that could not get seated fast enough.
Our Christmas show with Frank Basile, Eileen Fulton, and Celeste Holm
There weren't even enough tables and chairs. Nor did the owners care! When I told the older owner, "I told you so." His response was, "You didn't do me any favors." The place was packed! People were, justifiably so, unhappy.
As a matter of fact, Jan Wallman (now passed on) threatened to send out a "review" urging people to stay away! I begged her to give me three weeks to turn everything around. She agreed to grant me that. I told Dana that we needed to set up a meeting with the owners. Dana's first response was, "Oh no! I don't want to lose this!" I told her that it was obvious that we were on to something and if the Iguana did not want us, we would take it
somewhere else.
I called the owners and they agreed to meet us the following Tuesday. I thought long and hard about what I would say to them. Dana was both excited and scared about the fate of our future.
I asked her to let me do the talking. We would make this work!
We came in and they could not have been nicer. I began by saying that the last thing that we would ever do would be to come in and tell them how to run their business. However, there were several things that we desired in order to make what we were bringing to the table to make it work. The first was to put in more tables upstairs and to drape those tables with table clothes and candles.
Then we wanted REAL stemware. Believe it or not, due to the clientele that they were used to attracting, drinks were served in plastic cups! There is a completely different vibe on weekends. Fights would ensue with glasses being broken on a regular basis! I ensured them that that would probably not happen unless a singer was unhappy about their placement in the show! They agreed to all of our requests and we were off and running. Dana left there and Dana was practically giddy with excitement. As word got out, we became a happening place very quickly!
After a few weeks, Joan called me back and said that she had heard about the big crowds we were attracting and felt that we should continue hosting but that if she ever desired to come in to showcase anything new that we would afford her that platform. That was more than fair. Once again, Dana was thrilled that we had this platform. We both were.
I am not sure that those who participated realized how hard it was and how hard we worked to keep the energy going on for as long as we did. Dana and I, together, did it for eighteen months. Once Wednesday night's show was over, we were in a constant grind in prep for the following week.
with Naomi Miller
We only charged $15.00 at the door (no minimum). Once the musicians were paid, Dana and I split the rest. We never knew from week to week how we would do the following week.
We hit the ground running on Thursday morning. We would begin the day sending out thank yous to the artists who performed at the previous night's show. Dana and I would always talk between 9AM and 10AM assessing what last night's show was like. What worked? What didn't work? What could we do differently next week. We had 21 guests in EVERY show. The phone calls and e-mails were non-stop from those that wanted to be on the show...and then where their placement would be in the show.
Our phones always rang from as early as 7AM till midnight and beyond.
We went on to win TWO MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Awards for Variety Show and for Hosts.
On stage, we were having the time of our life! Off stage, the demons that plague most artists began to creep in. We were always trying to top what we had done previously. Dana and I both were very strong personalities and we began to clash on various issues...mostly about trying to accommodate everyone else. We called it the "Mommy/Daddy" syndrome. Someone would call either of us to ask to be in the show.
with Natasha Castillo
If one of us said there was no room in the show, they would call the other and beg and plead until we gave in...just for peace of mind!
There were some that even lied to each of us. They would tell one of us that the other promised them a spot in the following week's show. ALL of this led to tension between Dana and me. Dana also expressed concern that some people were pretending to be our friends just to be in the show. That bothered her a lot. I don't know if that was/is true or not, but the calls DID stop after I moved on from The Iguana. The tension continued to escalate. There was a lot of "gimme' gimme'" instead of "What can we do to help?" among the participants...with few exceptions, of course.
I want to set the record straight with today's blog about the events leading up to our on stage break-up and the after math. I worked hard to maintain our friendship in the weeks/months directly after. I did not want to lose Dana as a friend over a show.
In September 2010, I was going to Palm Springs to Celebrate with Carol Channing when she was getting her star on the Palm Springs Walk of Fame.
By this time, the tension was really rising with Dana and I. She began to find fault with everything I was doing. After the show on September 29th as I was getting ready to leave, Dana pulled me aside and told me that she didn't think it was fair that I was going away. She felt that she would be left taking care of everything. I assured her that everything was already in place for the following week's show. The line-up was in place.

The press releases would be sent out automatically the next morning. I also would have my lap top with me and would devote time daily until the next show.
I left the next day on my way to Palm Springs. I had to change planes in Dallas. While waiting, I checked emails and phone calls. There was a call from someone requesting to be in our Halloween show three weeks away. I assured her that she would be in the show. She wanted to know where she would be in the line up and I explained that I would not know until I put that week's show together on the preceding Thursday. She seemed to accept that.
When I arrive in Palm Springs, there was an urgent message from Dana to call her.
I called her and she wanted to know where this person would be in the line-up. Once again, I explained that that show was three weeks away and that we would address this the week before. Dana snapped at me and I said I wasn't going to argue and that we would address this when we returned. Over the next two days, I received five calls on this issue.
When I received that fifth call, I said to Dana that if I got one more call on this issue, I would NOT return to the Iguana. She said, "That's fine with me!". I said, "It's yours; I will not be returning to The Iguana. Did she mean it? I don't know. I don't think that she took me seriously. I am, however, a man of my word. I called Danny to tell him of my decision. He thought I was making the right decision. I loved Dana but the tension was too much. I'm sure on her end as well.
When I returned to New York, I called Dana the
next day and asked if she had everything she needed, that I would not be returning. I then posted on Facebook that if anyone had any questions or anything, to address them to Dana, that I would not be returning. A few people called me to get my reasons behind this. I was honest with them...from MY point of view. Many did not check in. They formed their own opinions. That's OK. People process all of this in different ways.
Dana believed that I broke up with her on Facebook, For all of you who have felt that I did all these years, let me assure you, that is not correct.
Barry Levitt, our musical director, called me to try and convince me to return. He knew what was going on. I told him that I would return on two conditions. She would have to ask me back AND mean it. Barry convinced us all to meet at the now defunct Edison Diner to hash out everything and to possibly reconcile our differences.
Barry and I arrived before Dana got there. We agreed not to talk about anything until she got there. We made small talk until she arrived, about ten minutes later. It was obvious that she was very angry. Barry asked which of us wanted to go first. I said, "Ladies first." She was so angry and felt that I had hurt her so much. She is the last person I would ever want to do this. I said to her that she would probably be better off without me.
Dana Lorge, Valerie Lemon, Karen Wyman, Camille Saviola, Barbara Minkus, Lauren Schaffel, Rabbi Jill
When she got up to leave, Barry and I continued to talk for a while and he thanked me for making all of this happen.
It was time for me to move on.
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It was also time for Dana to soar on her own. Dana had a very successful career prior to our working together and she rose to even higher heights after I moved on. She found her sea legs. She continued on at the Iguana for some time before she moved on to the Metropolitan Room with her very successful Dana Lorge Variety Show.
Dana's last night at The Iguana, Dana asked me to appear. It was as if time had stood still. It is a moment that always will remain in my heart. I was even one of Dana's guests at the Metropolitan Room.
Sadly, I did not know of Dana's illness till almost the end. She wanted it that way. Warren Schein, who long time friend and co-host at The Metropolitan Room, told me that Dana told him she would kill him if he told me.
My last social night out with Dana was in November at our friend Esther Goodheart's Birthday Celebration. In January, I was told that Dana had pneumonia.
Dana Lorge and Warren Schein Photo by Stephen Sorokoff, BroadwayWorld.com
Rumors were circulating around about the severity of Dana's illness. At the MAC Awards in March, I asked Sue Matsuki and she told me that Dana was ill and that's all she could tell me. I called Dana every couple of weeks and she never let on to how sick she was.
A few weeks ago, I was told that Dana had been moved to hospice at Calgary. Our mutual friend, Ann Dawson, reached out to Paul and I reached out to Warren and we were both told that if we wanted to see Dana that we should. We planned on going on Wednesday night. Danny and I, Ann Dawson, and Peggy Eason went to see Dana. As we arrived, Esther Goodheart was
arriving at the same time. We all went up together. When we got upstairs, Bernie and Joanne Furshpan, managers of the Metropolitan Room, were there. Joanne told me they had been there an hour and that Dana had been sleeping the entire time and they had not been able to wake her. I said "I have the magic touch. Watch me." I went over and took Dana's hand and said, "It's Richard." She mumbled "hello". I told her who was in the room. She said, "You're joking." I said, "Open your eyes". She opened her eyes and said, "Oh my God, I've got to get dressed." I said, "You're fine just the way you are." And she was! She had her trademark lashes on. Her nails were perfect, and SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL!
She sat up and had some chicken soup that Esther brought her. We sang, told stories, and most of all, laughed for ninety minutes. When it was time to leave, I went over to Dana, kissed her, and said "I Love You Very Much." She said, "Me too! I always have."

Saturday, she was gone. When I walked out of that room that night, I never imagined this would be the last time I would see her. As a matter of fact, Maureen Taylor and I were planning on going back to see her the following Monday. Somehow, I feel it isn't the last time I will see Dana.
Dana had such a presence that it can still be felt by me.
Looking back, would I have done anything differently, I don't know. I will always hold on to the great times that we shared both on stage and off. They far outweigh that period of time when two egos got in the way. I Love You, Dana! I always will!

Here are two Stories I Would Like To Share with Dana anecdotes 
When I first saw Dana, I said to myself "She must be a Movie Star... Oh she must be a snob!" Dana
Maria Ottavia, Bryon Sommers, Dana
commanded the room without even trying!  it was before we met through Richard Skipper.  I had seen Dana on many occasions with Richard. But we did not officially meet until 2007 or 2008.  Getting to know Dana, I was right about one very important thing, She's a star !
Dana could make a phone book sound hysterical. She would always tell a story with such emotion, I could not stop laughing at her stories. I would choke and laugh at the same time. She first heard me choke and was very concerned and thought I needed help. I told her "No! I can't stop laughing!  Then she would laugh too and  comment "you laugh at the stupidest things!"  I always told Dana she had a very special gift , healing hearts through laughter! I had heard the news of a relatives sudden passing. I was sick all day.  I needed so desperately to connect with a creative force to comfort me. Patricia Fitzpatrick, Helena Grenot and Dana Lorge were performing their show at Don't Tell Mama; Barry Levitt was the Music Director .  I made my reservation.  I arrived early.  Dana was nervous. They did not know what the show was about.  In her panic, I could not stop laughing. I told Dana it's the best place to be and with the seasoned line up and Maestro Barry, this will  be an

incredible show!  They literally did not know the storyline.
As I sat in the lobby while the ladies and Maestro rehearsed behind closed doors , I anxiously awaited the result.
The storyline, Three ladies on a Gay Cruise.  All of these amazing people blew the audience away!  Dana stole the show!  Her Facial expressions, her delivery and the songs. I was choking so much from laughing, my drink sprayed out my nose!! I told Dana how much the show meant to me and she was so glad I was there to have the amazing experience I had ! She was a healer of the heart!
Life is such a gift. Our gift was taken away from us!  She was a very private person who wanted you to laugh and be glamorous. I cannot believe she is gone. She was very supportive of me and came to my shows. Her feed back was always the expression on her face and her eyes. The moment her eyes rolled I knew I had some work ahead of me. I love Dana and miss her terribly. I terrible loss!! I wish life were forever.  There was so much more to learn from Dana and so much she needed to give the world!  She now lives in all of us!
I love you Dana!

Maria Ottavia

JayCee Driesen and Dana
Hi Richard When I saw that bling bib around Dana's neck, I fell in love with it!! She was my bling sista!! She gave me a necklace very similar!! That's just one of the many ways how thoughtful she was!! She is so missed!! Thank you for keeping her memory "alive".
JayCee Driesen
Barry Levitt and Dana Lorge

Dana and my family seeing Cinderella on Broadway

In other Entertainment News
From Publicist Harlan Boll:
"Baby" Rose Marie - View the Kickstarter here (Enjoy the clips from Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner, Tim Conway, etc etc). The home movies Rose Marie and her then husband (Bobby Guy) took behind the scenes on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Doris Day Show, The Monkees and even opening The Flamingo Hotel in Vegas are

truly the most historic archival records I have ever seen - And as you know, Ive been through MANY of my clients storage and archives. What Jason Wise has done here is truly amazing and equally as important to this industry's history. From Child Star to Vaudeville and Broadway to television and the first all talking movie short, etc., she has done it all. PLEASE share and/or contribute - Thank you and Bless you all. But above all else enjoy!!!!!


Beckoning you to follow her lead… it was impossible to resist the invitation; Ms. Rivera is still moving confidently to the rhythm of life. - The New York Times

Experiencing the charisma, stagecraft, and undeniable glamour of a theatrical legend in a cozy night spot like this is not soon to be forgotten. - The New Yorker

Chita Rivera blows away all the competition… you feel grateful to have her right here. - The Huffington Post

She remains timeless… Don’t miss this one. - TheaterMania

Café Carlyle is pleased to extend Broadway legend Chita Rivera’s acclaimed, sold out Café debut with four encore performances, May 18-21.
An accomplished and versatile actress/singer/dancer, Chita Rivera has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and has received eight additional Tony nominations for an exceptional 10 Tony nominations. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, The Rink (Tony Award), Chicago, Jerry’s Girls, Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony Award), The Visit and the original Broadway casts of Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven and Mr. Wonderful. Additionally, she has toured in Born Yesterday, The Rose Tattoo, Call Me Madam, Threepenny Opera, Sweet Charity, Kiss Me Kate, Zorba and Can-Can with The Rockettes. At The Carlyle, Chita Rivera will be joined by music director Michael Croiter (percussion and guitar), associate music director Michael Patrick Walker (piano), Jim Donica (bass) and Dan Willis (reeds).

Encore performances will take place Wednesday – Saturday at 8:45pm. Reservations can be made by phone at 212.744.1600 and online via Ticketweb.
Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue).
Chita was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009. She received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in Washington, DC in 2002 and is the first Hispanic woman ever chosen to receive the award. Chita’s current solo album is entitled And Now I Swing. WNET/Thirteen recently aired the Great Performances special Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do, a retrospective on her extraordinary
life and career nationally on PBS.
For more information, follow Chita Rivera on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow The Carlyle Hotel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For Ms. Rivera, reach out to Merle Frimark: Merle@merlefrimarkpr.com, 212 819 1133.

About Café Carlyle at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel
Originally opened in 1955, Café Carlyle is New York City’s bastion of classic cabaret entertainment, a place where audiences experience exceptional performers at close range in an exceedingly elegant setting. Since composer Richard Rodgers moved in as The Carlyle’s first tenant, music has been an essential part of The Carlyle experience.
No place is that more evident than in the Café Carlyle.

Café Carlyle is known for talents including Woody Allen, who regularly appears on Monday evenings to play with the Eddy Davis New Orleans jazz band. For three decades, Café Carlyle was synonymous with the legendary Bobby Short, who thrilled sell-out crowds for 36 years. His spirit lives on through the music at Café Carlyle.

Continuing the tradition of the 1930s supper club, Café Carlyle features original murals created by French artist Marcel Vertès, the Oscar-winning art director of the 1952 Moulin Rouge.

For more information, please contact Blake Zidell or Ron Gaskill or Matt Gross at Blake Zidell & Associates, 718.643.9052, blake@blakezidell.com, ron@blakezidell.com or matt@blakezidell.com.

Randi-Levine Miller's annual Showstopper Diva Concert to benefit The Actors Fund is on Wednesday, 6/15 at 7PM at The Triad, starring Broadway veterans Beth Fowler and Lee Roy Reams, as well as the winners of Tomatoes Got Talent, Karen Nason, Susan Vardy and Kathleen Waters.  They'll all be performing standards and show tunes. Paul Chamlin music directs.

She promises you A Swell Party!  Hope to see you on 6/15... Click on the link to reserve. I'll be there!

Tony and Emmy winner David Hyde Pierce ( Curtains, Frasier) will join Bette Midler in the forthcoming Broadway revival of the blockbuster 1964 musical Hello, Dolly!

From Lucille Carr-Kaffashan
Many thanks to the audience members who packed the house for my opening show on May 7! We had a great time together. My amazing band and I have two more performances scheduled for this run, on Thursday, May 19 and Friday, May 20. This BistroAwards.com “Bistro Pick” show features a diverse collection of 21st century songs written by outstanding artists such as Adele, Annie Lennox, Sara Bareilles, Susan Werner, Meghan Trainor and Tracy Chapman. The program reflects the voices of women in their early 20’s as well as those in their 60’s, and every decade in between, opening a window to the hearts and minds of contemporary women. 

Janet Dacal, George Merrick, Donna English and More to Lead Goodspeed's Fresh Take on BYE BYE BIRDIE This Summer
The exuberant cast of BYE BYE BIRDIE will "spread sunshine all over the place" in this summertime sensation directed by Jenn Thompson. Ms. Thompson's new take on this youthful classic includes two new songs, "BYE BYE BIRDIE" from the 1963 film and "A Mother Doesn't Matter Anymore" from the 1995 television presentation along with crisp new dance arrangements by accomplished composer of Broadway, film and television David Krane. (Read MORE)
Thank you, to all of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Dolly Gallagher Levi!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!   

PLEASE CELEBRATE WITH Richard Skipper MAY 25th in NYC at The Triad!
Richard Skipper Celebrates May 25th! A New Talk/Variety Show! To throw a great party you need great guests...AND he's got them! He will be joined by Carole Demas (celebrating her Birthday!), Kristoffer Lowe, Carolyn Montgomery-Forant, Gretchen Reinhagen, Adam Shapiro, Leslie Orofino, Wendy Scherl, Carol Skarimbas (accompanied by Larry Woodard), and a Mystery Guest! celebrating the many gems of May 25th 8PM Show! Who Will Be OUR MYSTERY GUEST! You'll Have To Be There To See Who It Is!
Reservations a MUST! You Never Know Who You Might See There! http://www.richardskipper.com/celebrates.html
What would YOU like to celebrate on May 25
Call 888 596-1027 to purchase tickets or YOU can also do it on THEIR website. http://www.triadnyc.com/
Check out Our Promo: https://vimeo.com/166498510

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
Please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook

Thank you, Barry, for the contributions that you have made to both Dana's and my own Life...and continue to do so!

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!

Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com

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