Monday, March 12, 2018

Cabaret Month! Happy Birthday, Liza Minnelli...and Celebrating Award Winners Dan Ruth and Stacy Sullivan

In skating, I think it’s taboo to be gay. I know when I was younger I tried to be everything but gay. Everyone calls you gay when you’re young: “Oh you skate, you’re gay.” You’re like, “No I’m not!” But inside you’re like, yes you are, you’re very gay.
-Adam Rippon

Happy March 12th, 2018!
March 12 is the 71st day of the year. There are 294 days remaining until the end of the year.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge Hubert de Givenchy, the French couturier and nobleman who upheld a standard of quintessentially romantic elegance in fashion for more than four decades, dressing the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly and memorably Audrey Hepburn, in a little black dress, in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,”. He transitioned on Saturday. He was 91.
For me, it is Liza Minnelli Day! Today is her birthday and I am celebrating her and her body of 'worth'!
Can you imagine Liza's career without John Kander! One year ago today, we celebrated Liza Minnelli's Birthday! On Sunday, we celebrate John Kander on his 91st Birthday! It will also a day of wearing green, John's favorite color! Make it a bigger celebration by joining us!
Richard Skipper Celebrates John Kander's 91st Birthday!
Reason number 6 to buy your tix today: Songs initially introduced by Liza Minnelli will be sung by Lucia Spina, Lillias White, and ME.
You also never Know Who You Might See There and What Might Happen!
We will celebrate John and his body of 'worth' six Days from today! Russ Woolley Proudly Presents Richard Skipper Celebrates John Kander. Go to and click on the yellow star to order your tix!
Click Here To See Our Promo.
And don't forget this year's MAC Awards on March 27th!
Today, Be open to unexpected ideas and opportunities.
Speaking of Liza Minnelli and Awards, in 2009, the Bistro Awards honored Charles Aznavour and Liza Minnelli. I won mine at the 14th annual! Bobby Short won the same year.

Tonight is the 33rd annual Bistro Awards. One of the recipients tonight is Dan Ruth. He is receiving for his solo play, Life Behind Bars.
Today, I also celebrate Dan!
According to his press release, "Fermented in over two decades of booze, bars and New York City gentrification, A Life Behind Bars, directed by
multiple-MAC and Bistro Winner, Tanya Moberly, is an unapologetic, dark and funny look at what can happen when you reach for the stars and grab for the bottle instead."

What are you reading now? 
My First Hundred Years in Show Business by Mary Louise Wilson. Richard Holbrook gifted it to me when he came to the opening of my run at The Laurie Beechman Theatre last year. It’s become my inspiration-at-leisure book.  I’m so grateful to be writing a great deal myself lately.  I have a new solo show underway, I’m also writing a column called What the Bartender Saw for W42ST Magazine and a short film.  It’s not easy to find time to read but when I need inspiration, I grab for the book.

What is your bookstore wish list?
My go-to author is Greg Iles but I love The Strand’s rare book room and I’m always looking for old Victorian hard-back books and works that are out of print.  I know it’s shock and awe but I
do have a dark side, lol.  I love books that deal with the unknown; classic ghost stories, books on the industrial revolution and 18th an19th-century antiques are always on my list.  I was also recently gifted Among the Bohemians by Virginia Nicholson.  It studies and documents society life in the Edwardian era.  I’m a nut for the Victorian and Edwardian eras.  I love my rock and roll and old vinyl records but I’m also an avid collector of Victoriana, art, antique glass, mourning jewelry and other hand-made finery, so I love collector books.  With so many people giving me literature however, I think it’s a sign that I should find time to read more novels!

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career? 
I love stage stories.  I have a great fascination, admiration and respect for Charles Ludlam and the Ridiculous Theatrical Company.  I love that he designed his plays and characters to match the “large” acting style that he possessed and over the years, I’ve recognized similar styles within myself.
I’ve gathered much inspiration from his world, including the process and stage magic of performing more than one character at a time.  I’ve been lucky enough to perform his multi-character, quick-change Victorian melodrama, The Mystery of Irma Vep on three separate occasions.   The first was at my Alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University, where the show also traveled to the South Eastern Theatre Conference in Tampa, Florida the year I graduated.
In Tampa, during the entr'acte, the play changes from gaudy Mandacrest mansion, to an Egyptian tomb where I play an Egyptian guide who sells the master of Mandacrest a Mummy case.  Well, I also played the female mummy in the case so after the stage trickery, I was supposed to re-emerge from just behind the mummy case, through a trap door just stage right of the leg.
When the crew moved the Mandacrest mansion set from the first act however, they set it right on top of the trap door exit where I was supposed to re-emerge from.  After disappearing as the large-breasted mummy in the mummy case, I was literally trapped in the dark, under the set with a packed audience waiting for my “quick-change” back into the tour guide.  Fortunately, the SETC main stage was built to allow about a foot of room between stage right and the main wall of the building, so I was able to see the light emerging
from onstage.  It probably took a minute, but it felt like an hour to scramble through the dirt and dust, squeeze myself out from under the stage, change and finish the scene.

What has been your greatest experience in this profession?  
Taking the proper turn in my path.  After years of focusing on my health and doing lots of personal work on myself, I decided that it was time to return to theatre.  The day I opened up Facebook and saw that David Drake was offering a solo show class at The Abrons Center in the spring of 2014 it all changed.  Working with people like David who is, by his nature, a nurturing person was a revelation compared to the over-all cutthroat acting climate I had left back in the 1990’s.  David allowed me to break down the wall of fear that had built up after so many years; he opened the door and I jumped through with the beginnings of A Life Behind Bars.

Have you ever considered teaching a class?  
Absolutely.  I am all about sharing.  My work in itself, is meant to inspire people from all walks of life to brush themselves off and move toward working harder at what they do best.  I taught voice for the stage years ago, along with directing and character development but any class I would teach today would be far more fleshed out than my earlier teachings.

What Awards have you won and what does that mean to you to be honored by your peers? 
Well, I just won the 2018 Bistro Award for outstanding “Solo Play” and I’m also so grateful to be nominated by the MAC family for “Spoken Word Artist” and “Show of the Year.”  I feel as though I started a free-fall in 2014, I’m still in that
free-fall and it’s always at times like these when I try and focus on sticking to my path.
I am so grateful that people have supported A Life Behind Bars and have come out to see my work and what it is that I do.  Thanks to my director, collaborator and friend Tanya Moberly, I’m learning to enjoy the “moment” a little more each time because I’m usually too busy juggling hats.   Who knows, maybe she’ll convince me to start singing again because I do sing, but that's the next fear wall to come down.  Last year after I attended the MAC Awards, I was invited back to the Laurie Beechman and it was clear that I was surrounded by the crème de la crème of an incredible performance community but it was before any of them had seen my work.  I felt out of place.  This year, even if I remain a nominee, I
will be able to attend as someone who has performed, toured, crafted and shared a very personal part of my life and with the knowledge that it was embraced.  I’m looking forward to the experience!

A final statement for my blog
We need more voices and more words of inspiration both spoken and sung.  We need to constantly remind ourselves and each other of our humanity and as performers, we certainly have to ability to give, to inspire and to lift each other up.  In a world of sound-bites, fake news and phone apps that can airbrush your face and take away your flaws, I think it’s about time we start to remove our masks and show our flaws; to learn, move on and hold our light high in this increasingly dark, cold, pessimistic world.  As artists and people, I do believe that is our call.

Stacy Sullivan is one of my favorite people and singers. I've interviewed her before but she is always worth revisiting.
Vocalist Stacy Sullivan grew up in Oklahoma, the seventh of eight children in a wildly musical family, where she began performing in venues across the south and midwest at the age of five. Graduating Cum Laude from Tulsa University with her degree in Music, she left home to follow her musical and acting dreams in Los Angeles.
She appeared in numerous film, commercial, and television projects in Hollywood, (memorably creating the role of Sissel Jorgensen on the award-winning series, “Christy,” starring Tyne Daly) but career took a backseat to children for many years, leading her to keep the musical drive alive by recording five, critically acclaimed, self-produced albums.

With a move to New York in 2012, career dreams took flight in the creation of It’s a Good Day-A Tribute to Miss Peggy Lee, the live show, and recording that would change her life.
Stephen Holden, of  The New York Times referred to her performance as “Spellbinding,” Darkly Sultry,” and “Compelling.”
Clive Davis of The Times (London) wrote, “A commanding, willowy presence, Sullivan captures that rare combination of vulnerability and worldliness.”

“On the Air,” the show she wrote and performs for Piano Jazz creator, Marian McPartland, caught the eye (and ear) of legendary radio personality and music connoisseur Jonathan Schwartz, who presented it to New York City at WNYC’s The Greene Space, which led to a run at The York Theatre in Manhattan and the recording, “Stranger in a Dream.” The Wall Street Journal called it “Cabaret for Thinking People,” and The New York Times raved, “Sullivan transports you to a twilight zone of wistful reflection that recalls the dreamier side of Peggy Lee.”

Since You’ve Asked, her most personal live musical offering is a meteorologically themed family history spanning several decades, described by The New York Times in April 2015 as “Thrilling,” “Audacious,” “Spellbinding,” and “Stretching cabaret into a previously unexplored territory.”
Numerous awards, including The MAC Award (2015) for “Major Artist,” The Nightlife Award (2014) for “Best Female Vocalist, and The Lamott Friedman Award for “Best Recording” for “It’s a Good Day-A Tribute to Miss Peggy Lee” give her the opportunity to tour the world with her band, as well as in a duo setting with Piano Jazz Host and Famed Pianist, Jon Weber.

Congratulations on your MAC nomination! 
Thank You!

What does THIS nomination mean to you?  
with Jeff Brown

This MAC nomination comes at a perfect time and for shows that are close to my heart. Last year was a year of extremes for me and my family, higher highs and lower lows. Our daughter got married in April to a wonderful guy, but then, we lost my brother suddenly in July. I was scheduled to perform our new Cole Porter show in September and thought about canceling. When I realized our opening night was Danny's birthday, Sept. 14th, I thought, "The show must go on. We'll drink a toast to Danny and celebrate the best way I know how...with music." Our other new show, "Fever" is a show of 16 of Peggy Lee's biggest hits, using her original arrangements. Our first Peggy Lee show was full of songs that Peggy had written and some of her "lesser known" songs.
This was a real challenge and a benefit for The Rosarito Beach "Boy's and Girl's Club," AND we raised a bunch of money for kids. So yeah, this nomination means the world to me.

What Are you reading now?
I just finished Willie Nelson's autobiography, It's A Long Story. Great read about a great musician and honest man. Oddly enough, Willie Nelson introduced me to the Great American Songbook through his Stardust album.

What is your bookstore wish list 
I'm excited about the new Joni Mitchell biography, Reckless Daughter.

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career? 
My favorite cabaret moment is Sidney Myer walking up to me in 2007 after a benefit and saying, "You must do a Peggy Lee show." I had never met Sidney, but I was a huge fan. Luckily, I took his advice and began my journey into the life of Peggy Lee, a decision that changed my life.

What has been your greatest experience in this profession? 
with son in law Robert Peluso

Opening the Late Night Series at Cafe Carlyle was pretty awesome. Peter Gallagher made that happen and I will be forever grateful. My mom was there and Peggy Lee's Grand-daughter, Holly Foster Wells came out from Los Angeles. Marilyn Maye showed up and gave her blessing. It was a thrill. I'm still getting work from some of the people who came to those shows.

Have you ever considered teaching a class?
I'm teaching this summer! For the first time ever!
I'm very excited about it. June 7th-13th.
The Retreat at Herons Landing
Cabaret's Newest Professional Spa Retreat
Hosted by Carolyn Montgomery
with Lennie Watts, Karen Mason, Stacy Sullivan and Tracy Stark

What Awards have you won and what does that mean to you to be honored by your peers.
Nightlife, Bistro, Broadway World, MAC, Lamott/Friedman
It's a thrill to be honored, always...period.

A final statement for my blog
There have been many times in my life when cabaret and the people who support it have given me a safe place to share my stories, my joys, sorrow...and music!
Thank you, to ALL who are mentioned in this blog for gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give

Now, go and do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return!

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

Most of the things I do musically are stylistically quite different than this but still very much the same
in one important way. Richard Skipper and the performers he chooses get right to the heart of these songs we all love. It’s our life’s breath and it is what makes us human and makes being human very special. In case I don’t get to say it over the holidays, I am truly grateful to Richard Skipper and Russ Woolley for adding my voice to what they hold so dear. It’s the greatest compliment and it always feels like my honor when someone entrusts me to hold the energy of the stage for them. Erik Lawrence,

My mom, sister, daughter and I were lucky enough to see Richard Skipper and his stellar guests. We all highly recommend Richard 'a shows!
Christine Milton, Bronx NY

I have been watching Richard Skipper perform for over 25 years now and must say that there are not
many people in the entertainment business with the passion and talent that Richard has. His shows are beautifully composed and extremely entertaining! I look forward to seeing him again! We love Richard Skipper, Go Richard!!
Monica Murray, Oakland NJ
March 18th, 2018 

Russ Woolley Proudly Presents
Richard Skipper Celebrates
John Kander... On His 91st Birthday!

1 PM Brunch Show Laurie Beechman Theater  
Confirmed to perform are Tony Award winner Lilias WhiteDonna Marie Asbury currently in Chicago on Broadway, Jana Robbins (Zorba with two separate tours with Georgio Tozzi and Theodore Bikel), Lucia Spina (Kinky Boots), David Sabella (originated Mary Sunshine in the current revival of Chicago on Broadway), and Karen Ziemba (Curtains and Steel Pier)
Click HERE to see our Promo Video. 
If you have attended Richard Skipper Celebrates, and if you haven't already, Please add your thoughts in Richard Skipper's Guest Book at
You never Know Who You Might See There and What Might Happen!

2018 Bistro Award Winner joins us for RSC 4/8/18 seen here with Booking Agent Kenny Bell

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,


  1. Thank you, Richard, it's a great feeling to be celebrated! Thank you for taking time out to count me in! DR

  2. Goodness, I LOVE these interviews. Another great job, Richard Skipper!