Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: April 30, 2017
By: Laura Deni


Come From Away is a sensitive, moving, heart-tugging and even funny documentary/musical which will stay with you long after you leave Broadway's Gerald Schoenfeld Theater.

Written by Canadian husband-and-wife writing team Irene Sankoff and David Hein the title is based “come from aways” which is the Newfoundland term for “visitor”.

Sankoff and Hein wrote the book, music and lyrics, and it's expertly directed by Christopher Ashley, the artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse.

This sung-and-spoken narrative is based on interviews with the participants and was originally developed at the Canadian Music Theatre Project.

The performers, all in multiple roles, include Jenn Colella, Chad Kimball, Rodney Hicks, Petrina Bromley, Geno Carr, Joel Hatch, Kendra Kassebaum, Lee MacDougall, Caesar Samayoa, Q. Smith, Astrid Van Wieren and Sharon Wheatley.

After the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were hit on 9/11 airspace was shut down and all airplanes in the sky were ordered to land at the nearest airport.

38 planes instituted emergency landings at a large airport in Northeast Canada, located near the small village of Gander, Newfoundland.

6,579 stranded passengers deplaned, instantly almost doubling the population of the usual 9,000 Gander residents.

All luggage remained on board, leaving the passengers with only the clothes on their backs and no personal items.

Immediately villagers provided the agitated, stressed, stranded, confused passengers with shelter, food, phones, showers and moral support.

Come From Away is a musical to be cherished. Sure, there are more elaborate musicals on Broadway with jaw dropping name stars, bigger budgets and elaborate special effects - but no current Broadway musical has more heart and carries a more important message than Come From Away.

The musical is of such historical importance that on the first night of previews, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ivanka Trump and some 120 ambassadors from around the world attended the musical which celebrates Canadian compassion and openness to international travelers following the 9/11 attacks.

They gave the show a well deserved standing ovation, as have other audiences.

Those in the audience also included U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, Jean Chretien, a former Canadian prime minister, and the mayor of Gander and Beverley Bass, the first female captain at American Airlines, who was at the helm of Flight 49, going from Paris to Dallas-Fort Worth, when she ended up in Gander on 9/11. She was interviewed by the musical's creators for her story and is portrayed onstage by Jenn Colella.

Retired Capt. Beverley Bass attends Come From Away.
Beverley Bass, a now retired pilot has had a most unusual career. She became the first woman to win her captain's stripes for a commercial airline. She was the third woman hired as a pilot at American Airlines and the first to make captain, at age 34. She retired in 2008.

She's had more than one interesting experience.

On December 30, 1986 it was first reported that an American Airlines flight from Washington, D.C., to Dallas is believed to have made aviation history as the first commercial jetliner to carry an all-female crew. A crew of seven women commanded both the cockpit and cabin of Flight 412 as the Boeing 727 touched down at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in fog. About 150 passengers and spectators crowded around Gate 35 to greet the crew.

Bass, co-pilot Terry Claridge and flight engineer Tracy Prior all wore red roses on their lapels.

On September 11, 2001 Bass was the pilot of what started out as an almost ordinary flight. She had left Paris and was flying westbound to Dallas.

Bass had reported that when the airplane came to her in Paris, it came out of Kennedy and four of its eight lavatories were out of service. She requested that they be fixed in Paris but, as she put it in a Q&A article published in the Dallas Morning News on September 10, 2011 and reprinted in Airline Biz, "you usually can't get anything fixed in an international station. They always wait until the airplane comes back home. So I had to leave Paris with four lavs inope(rable,) not realizing at the time that we were going to be on the airplane for 27 hours."

Jenn Colella as Beverley in Come From Away. Photo: Carol Rosegg)
There was only one meal service left on board - the food that would have been served to the passengers as the plane headed into Dallas.

The flight was perfect. Bass was in the cockpit eating her lunch at 35,000 feet when the first reports came in of trouble and that there would be an immediate, emergency landing.

The first thing that passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 49 heard about the attacks was an announcement from Bass.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Bass. We've been advised that there has been a crisis in the United States. All of the airspace has been closed, and we will be landing our airplane in Gander, Newfoundland," as recalled on Primetime November 29, 2001.

The plane was overweight, meaning that Bass had enough fuel to fly safely to Dallas. Diverting to Gander meant she had to make a fast decision. Landing overweight with fuel is considered dangerous, something "that's unacceptable." According to the rules if you land over-weight, you have to have an inspection by qualified maintenance personnel, and Bass didn't know the status of the Gander airport.

There was a time when Bass would have been confident that Gander could have handled any problem.

At the time of its completion in 1938, the then Newfoundland Airport was the largest airfield on the planet, with four huge paved runways covering a combined area of one square mile.

It's a flying friendly town.

Nearly all of Gander's streets are named for famous aviators, from the Wright brothers, Alcock and Brown, Lindbergh and Earhart, to more modern pioneers like Canadian astronauts Marc Garneau, Roberta Bondar and Chris Hadfield.

Air Traffic Controllers at Gander handle all North Atlantic air traffic - an average of 1,000 return flights daily - whether those aircraft land at Garder or not. Photo: Gander
Gander was a refueling stop on the early transatlantic flights of the 1940s and 1950s. The first refueling vehicle at Gander's airport was a 45-gallon drum lashed to a sled and towed to waiting aircraft by an enthusiastic Newfoundland dog named Pal.

Pal later became the mascot of the Royal Rifles of Canada and the only Canadian dog to be awarded the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross. Renamed 'Gander', our furry hero "engaged the enemy" on three documented occasions on Hong Kong Island in December, 1941. As stated in his citation, "Twice, Gander's attacks halted the enemy's advance and protected groups of wounded soldiers. In a final act of bravery the war dog was killed in action gathering a grenade.

Queen Elizabeth II officially opened Gander's new airport terminal building on June 19, 1959. But the advent of long-haul jets in the 1960s ended its life as an aviation hub.

According to the Toronto Star: "The airport drew defectors, movie stars and world leaders, such as Fidel Castro" who, according to the town of Gander "once tobogganed with local youngsters on the slopes overlooking Gander Lake."

The Gander airport still had a large runway, but enormous jets touched down less often. On 9/11 there was a plane traffic jam as dozens of big jets in the area all needed to land - immediately.

In the space of three hours, Gander's cracker-jack air traffic control team landed 38 jets, packing them onto the tarmac.

Official Gander 911 Logo
In order not to land overweight, Bass opted to jettison 4,000 pounds of fuel over the Atlantic. Then they came in on a 95-mile final approach to Gander.

Bass was the 33rd wide-body to land. She barely had room to squeeze in.

The general public might think that once the planes landed the passengers simply walked off the plane and waited to be told what to do.

Not so fast.

Fearing additional terrorism, authorities kept everyone on the planes.

"The customs and the people from Gander came on the airplane right after we landed," Bass told the press. "We landed at 10 in the morning, roughly. They told us we would not get off the airplane until the next day.

"We were on the ground in Gander about 21 hours in the airplane. We'd already flown six hours and 45 minutes or something. So about 27 hours in the airplane."

In the musical that is explained in the song 28 Hours/Wherever We Are.

For some flights the lock down took 30 hours.

As the hours went by, food became scarce, toilets overflowed and nerves were frayed.

One distraught passenger asks: "Is it World War Three?"

Passengers got drunk on mini bottles of booze.

Bass reported that the passengers were cooperative and excellent with the exception of one lady.

None of the passengers or crews on any of the planes were fully cognizant of why they had been diverted to Gander.

This was before widespread cellphone use. It wasn't until they had landed and gotten to land line phones that they began to learn details of the terrorist attacks.

"We did not realize the severity of it because we were insulated from details of what was actually happening. When you're on the airplane for nearly 30 hours without ever seeing it on TV, all you've done is hear things. And it's so different when you got a visual," Gander had reported.

In the musical the passengers' faces express horror as they watch television coverage.

As they become informed of the situation a pilot sings that the “thing I loved more than anything was used as the bomb.”

How they were treated in Gander becomes the backbone of Come From Away.

"The people of Gander were just phenomenal," Bass told the press. "I can't say enough nice things about them. They brought smoking patches to the airplane. They brought diapers of every size. They brought baby formula.

"They filled 2,000 prescriptions in the middle of the night because people packed their heart medicine in their baggage. It's in the belly, and they can't get to it - their asthma medicine and God knows what else."

At 7 a.m. the next morning the immigration processing began. Languages were varied including Spanish, French and two who speak Swahili and are absolutely scared beyond belief at being shepherded by volunteers in Salvation Army uniforms.

Affable Mayor Claude Elliott has been mayor of Gander since March 6, 1996. He's retiring and announced that he will not be running for re-election this year's municipal election.
Deplaning were orthodox Jews, observant Muslims; gays Kevin T. (Chad Kimball) and Kevin J. (Caesar Samayoa) whose relationship is affected by stress; vegetarians; a middle aged couple, divorced Texas housewife Diane (Sharon Wheatley) and Nick (Lee MacDougall) a nervous, bumbling Brit who have a hurried romance thanks to stress; and one cynical, young New York black man Bob (Rodney Hicks) who is suspicious of any and all hospitality, including that of the Gander Mayor Claude Elliott (Joel Hatch) who takes him into his home.

Noted for swearing at traffic violators, Gander's Constable Oz Fudge "helped pull off a birthday party after learning there was a plane from England carrying sick kids destined for Disney World," according to the CBC. He enlisted his daughter and her friends who dressed as fairy-tale princesses and managed to come up with the money to purchase a birthday cake to feed 350 people.

Everybody had to process through the Red Cross. Gander had less than 500 hotel rooms. People were placed in assorted locations within a 200-mile radius and the Red Cross was required to know the exact location of everybody no matter if they were crew or passengers.

"When we got off, they had tables and tables set up," Bass explained to the Dallas Morning Press. "The people of Gander had cooked all night long. They made all kinds of sandwiches. They gave us a bag. It was kind of like Halloween. You went from table to table and just picked up what you want. They had fruit and brownies and pies and cakes - they had made everything."

Although Newfoundland is considered the poorest province in Canada, everyone shared. When calls went out for food and bedding, Ganderites emptied their cupboards and closets and went to the airport.

That is brought to life in the song Blankets and Bedding.

"They had been there all night long bringing food and standing at the tables, passing it out," Bass told NBC.

The tables were manned by the grocer, postman, the pastors. "They were your everyday citizens of Gander who just came out."

The locals opened their schools, churches and homes to the visitors they called 'the plane people.' The town's school bus drivers, who had been on strike for weeks, came off the picket lines to shuttle passengers to their new quarters.

The local telephone company set up long-distance phone banks so that passengers could call home. Wires and cables were strung so that television and Internet connections were available, reported Primetime.

The 'plane people' become aware. An actor impersonates George W. Bush, delivers a broadcast announcement.

"The flight crew and I were able to go to the Comfort Inn in Gander," Bass told NBC, "We were one of the lucky ones. My passengers were at the Knights of Columbus lodge, so I had them take blankets and pillows off the airplane so they would have something to use.

While the passengers and crew may have been placed in different sleeping locations - everyone had to technically remain together.

"If we came in with 158 passengers, we had to leave with the same amount of passengers," Bass stressed in that 2001 interview. "Nobody could defect. They couldn't rent a car and drive home.

"Some of the airlines did have people who did that. But if they did that, then they pulled off the bags off the airplane and blew them up. They would not allow the airplane to depart with bags in the belly if any passenger defected.

"I went to brief my passengers a couple of times every day, and that was the one thing I begged them; 'Please stay with me. Do not leave.' And they did. They stayed."

Bass emphasized that 6,565 passengers and crew has arrived without notice to Gander within a three-hour period. The good people of Gander fed all 6,565 three hot meals a day for the four days they were there.

They also tried to make the 'plane people' comfortable. That is depicted in Come From Away.

In the show, a cast of a dozen play both residents and marooned passengers, telling true stories of generosity, compassion and acceptance, while fear and suspicion engulfed America.

Petrina Bromley as Bonnie who cared for the animals which had been on the planes. Those included: 11 dogs, nine cats including one with epilepsy and two Bonobo apes - one of whom was pregnant. Photo: Carol Rosegg.
A chorus of Ganderians describe their homeland in Welcome To The Rock "They say no man is an island, but an island makes a man.”

A woman, played by Kendra Kassebaum, says: “Thank you for coming to Walmart. Would you like to come back to my house for a shower?”

Passengers sing along to My Heart Will Go On (made famous by Las Vegas resident Celine Dion) when the movie Titanic is screened for the passengers and later during a karaoke session at the Legion hall.

Bonnie Harris (Petrina Bromley) the Gander and Area SPCA manager cared for the animals which had been on the planes. Those included: 11 dogs, nine cats including one on medication for epilepsy (a pill was taped to its cage) and two Bonobo apes - one of whom was pregnant.

Proprietors of a local bar keep their personal opinions private and make a nervous gay couple (Chad Kimball and Caesar Samayoa) feel welcome. In the bar the 'plane people' experience a spirited initiation, where the visitors are urged to kiss a cod and down a local rum called screech. A band of eight plays the spirited, Celtic-accented score, with emphasis on the fiddle, bodhran and flute.

Sharon Wheatley as Diane and Lee MacDouglass as Nick finally kiss after Nick refused to smooch a fish. Photo: Carol Rosegg.
The afore mentioned middle aged couple Diane (Sharon Wheatley) and Nick (Lee MacDougall) finally kiss when he declines to smooch the fish.

You do get the feeling, though, that there are hidden suspicions of Muslims. An adult Muslim male correctly senses that he is facing increased scrutiny and prejudice after he's heard speaking Arabic over the telephone. A local food specialty, cod au gratin, is explained to an appalled Middle Eastern traveler as “fish with cheese.” When Muslim Ali (Caesar Samayoa) offers to help with the cooking he is rebuffed until - exasperated - he lets it be known that he's a world-class chef. Suddenly, appetites trump prejudice. At the end, though, he is subjected to a humiliating body search when it's time for the 'plane people' to leave Gander.

In the play a rabbi (Geno Carr) whose plane was also diverted meets Eddie (Joel Hatch), a Holocaust survivor who has kep that hidden from his wife. One of the play’s characters declares, “We have all kinds of people living in Newfoundland: Protestants, Baptists, Catholics, Salvation Army-ists - but not a lot of Jewish people.”

The rabbi quips: “The next thing I know I’m set up at the faculty lounge, making a kosher kitchen for any other Jewish passengers - but also for two Hindu women, some Muslims.”

The rabbi's cooking is also considered acceptable by the vegetarians.

Actor Carr, who grew up a Methodist in New England, was coached for the show by a rabbi. Actor Hatch grew up Lutheran on a farm in Minnesota and told that he "never knew a Jew until he attended college."

Hatch told the publication that after reading the script he sensed that the character of Eddie "feels he’s on the outside in the community he’s in. All people experience that at some point or another, particularly people of other races or religions or sexual identities, who probably feel that with more intensity.”

Rabbi Leivi Sudak. The role of the rabbi portrayed by Geno Carr in Come From Away was inspired by Rabbi Leivi Sudak. Photo: Chabad Edgware.
The rabbi in Come From Away is based on Rabbi Leivi Sudak as first disclosed in The NY Jewish Week and Jewcy. Sudak, who is in charge of Chabad of Edgware, near London, was flying to New York to visit the grave of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson in advance of Rosh Hashanah in 2001, when he was turned into one of the 'plane people' after his flight was also diverted to Gander.

As an aside, Rabbi Leivi Sudak's father was the famed Rabbi Nachman Sudak who was personally award an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II in her New Year's Honors List of 2001 in recognition of his wide-reaching Lubavitch UK activities concerning Youth.

In Come From Away the rabbi patterned on the younger Sudak (who was educated in Morristown, New Jersey and in Brooklyn) says: "There is a man here in town - He’s lived here nearly his entire life. He heard that there was a rabbi diverted here. He came to find me and tell me his story.”

"I was born in Poland, I think," Eddie discloses. "And my parents - they were Jews - they sent me here before the war started - I still remember some prayers they taught me. As a boy, I was told I should never tell anyone that I was Jewish - even my wife. But after what happened on Tuesday - so many stories gone - just like that. I needed to tell someone."

The pair then sings the Kaddish, which mourners say to show that despite the loss they still have faith. In the play's program the musical selection is titled Prayer.

Beulah Cooper (Astrid Van Wieren) made trays of sandwiches. According to the CBC she was called "the Florence Nightingale of the group." They stated that, "streams of people were welcomed into Cooper's home for showers. She took people shopping for clothes and helped make food."

Astrid van Wieran (Beulah) and Q Smith(Hannah) in Come From Away. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
According to the CBC it was Beulah who comforted Hannah O'Rourke, (Q. Smith) a stranded U.S. passenger who was distraught that she couldn't get in touch with Kevin, her missing NYC firefighter son. Buelah tried to comfort her by telling really bad jokes. Later it was learned that Kevin had been killed while responding to the attack on the twin towers.

Stress does cause some flyers to experience hallucinations which are colorfully presented.

In every sense of the phrase, this is a Rubic's Cube of an ensemble piece. It's not easy to fit together but when seamlessly entwined the results are perfect - from the music, staging, costumes, directing, emotionally charged lighting by Howell Binkley, excellent sound by Gareth Owen and acting so flawless that they make changing roles look easy.

Kudos to director Christopher Ashley and his musical staging director, Kelly Devine who has choreographed this in nano seciond precision. The Dance Captain is Josh Breckenridge. Beowulf Boritt's set accurately reflects the time and place in its rustic simplicity. The infectious band is on stage.

The set is a turntable. Even the costumes by Toni-Leslie James need to be judged differently. On the surface the costumes can look like they were done on a budget of $21.50; perhaps borrowed after asking high school kids to go home and see what their moms had in their closets. It's creative genius to be able to take ordinary outfits and give them a defining vocabulary.

Likewise, some actors effectively change character through accent, thanks to Dialect Coach Joel Goldes.

Come From Away is not a sheered velvet Broadway presentation. There are no bring 'em to their feet, stand alone closing act numbers. No sweeping violins or a horn section which can be heard in the next building. This is a rough hewed factual recollection, which makes it all the more powerful. Any attempt to gloss it up would have been destructive.

The lively blue collar rock and Celtic score is an important cog in moving along the character-based story. The only solo Me and the Sky is sung by pilot Beverley, played by Jenn Colella. The lyrics tell of her dreams, discrimination at being a woman, family, and respect.

Orchestrations are by August Eriksmoen with musical arrangements by Ian Eisendrath, who also supervised the music, conducts and plays the Keyboard/Accordion/Harmonium: Whistles/Irish Flute/Uilleann Pipes: Ben Power; Fiddle: Caitlin Warbelow; Electric/Acoustic Guitars: Alec Berlin; Acoustic Guitar/Mandolins/Bouzouki: Nate Lueck; Electric/Acoustic Bass: Carl Carter; Bodhran/Percussion: Romano Di Nillo; Drums/Percussion: Larry Lelli. The Musical Coordinator is David Lai. Associate Musical Director is Chris Ranney.

When they 'plane people' are permitted to leave, there is both relief and letdown experienced on both side as sung in Something's Missing.

Gander was presented with two pieces of steel recovered from New York's World Trade Center buildings in appreciation of the Town's extraordinary compassion and generosity. Photo: Gander.
According to NBC, soon after, the town began receiving cards, gifts and thank-you notes in the form of donations. Even though the citizens of Gander neither asked for nor expected anything in return, their grateful guests raised (at that time) more than $60,000 for the town. Many of the town's new friends even promised to come back for vacation, under better circumstances.

The Gander based North Atlantic Aviation Museum covers 1935 to 2001, from the time when Gander was a strategic base during the war to the 9/11 attacks on America that brought so many people to Gander. The Museum houses a piece of steel from the World Trade Center and a binder full of thank you letters from those stranded travelers.

Overall - 38 planes carrying passengers from dozens of countries practicing numerous religions, suddenly descending on your town could have been viewed as frogs and locusts falling from the sky. Legally, the good people of Gander weren't obligated to do anything. They had their own lives, responsibilities and problems. Morally - responsibility resonates from within the core of the person.

Come From Away is an example of how people should behave.

This show doesn't have an anthem number. You're not going to leave the theater humming a particular tune or skipping down the block. As Bass once said: "It was an eerie time. A terrible one."

You're going to leave the theatre feeling affirmed. When one of the more horrific of events to ever strike the United States took place, there was the kindness of strangers

In keeping with the Broadway To Vegas tradition, beginning in last week's column and continued to Tony time, at least one Broadway review will be published each week. Next week will be the Hello Dolly! review of the Broadway revival.

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Thank you for your interest.


© Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, Paris. Photo Alexandre Guirkinger
Drawn from the archives of the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent and other private collections, this breathtaking exhibition offers an intimate and comprehensive look at the lifetime achievement of Yves Saint Laurent, one of history’s most radical and influential fashion designers.

Featuring 100 examples of haute couture and ready-to-wear garments - some never shown publicly before - this exhibition reveals Saint Laurent’s artistic genius, as well as his working process, and the sources of his design inspiration.

VMFA is the only East Coast venue for the exhibition, which has been organized by the Seattle Art Museum in partnership with the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent in Paris.

In addition to haute couture ensembles and ready-to-wear clothing, Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style also includes accessories, photographs, drawings, films, and video from the Fondation’s vast archive.

The exhibition traces the trajectory of Saint Laurent’s style as it developed over the course of his career, beginning in 1953 with the “Paper Doll Couture House” that he created as a teenager, which is being shown for the first time in the United States.

Ensembles early in the exhibition focus on his formative years at the House of Dior, including an example of a short evening dress from his successful “Trapeze” collection, which marked his debut as a fashion designer when it was shown in Paris in 1958. The exhibition continues with his groundbreaking designs of the 1960s, which revolutionized the fashion industry. During this decade, Saint Laurent liberated modern women from the constraints of strict gender codes by creating garments, such as the safari jacket, the pantsuit, and the tuxedo, which he borrowed from the male wardrobe. Visitors will also see how Saint Laurent was inspired by the work of other artists, including Piet Mondrian and Tom Wesselmann, as well as ancient Greek vase painting and African art.

Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style is curated by Florence Müller, the Denver Art Museum’s Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Curator of Fashion, in collaboration with Chiyo Ishikawa, Seattle Art Museum’s Deputy Director of Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture. Barry Shifman, VMFA’s Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Decorative Arts, 1890 to the present, is the organizing curator for VMFA.

May 6-August 27, 2017 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA.


The Fleet Science Center's 2017 annual fundraiser event, presents a night of food and wine pairings with wine expert Gary Parker of The WineSellar & Brasserie and culinary guru Andrew Spurgin. The event takes place on Saturday, May 6, 2017, at the Fleet Science Center in San Diego, CA.

Guests will begin the evening with fine wines and tasty hors d'oeuvres. All can partake in the silent auction featuring a variety of impressive wine lots, travel and dining packages and other exclusive experiences. More competitive guests can try their hand at the Wine Ring Toss, while the curious can explore a number of food- and wine-related science demos.

The reception will be followed by world-class wines curated paired with a sumptuous sit down, multi-course dinner.

The Uncorking the Mysteries of Wine fundraiser will directly support the Fleet Science Center's education programs, exhibits and ongoing initiatives.

BROADWAY AT BIRDLAND Jamie deRoy & friends Celebrate the Tony Awards in an event to benefit The Actors Fund.

Performers include, Chuck Cooper, Penny Fuller, Mandy Gonzalez, Rupert Holmes with special guest Patti Cohenour, Doreen Montalvo and Paulo Szot.

Barry Kleinbort directs the one-night-only event with musical direction by Ron Abel and Tom Hubbard on bass.

At Birdland in New York City on Sunday, May 7, 2017.

10th EDITION OF ROBIN'S NEST starring Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez, best known for her current role as Angelica Schuyler in the smash hit, Hamilton and a cast of performers including Joshua Lance Dixon, Beau Howard, John Koprowski, Wendy Scherl and Don Scime will be giving their time and talent in support of, an organization that defrays the high cost of adoption and helps create families.

Robin’s Nest is about great entertainment with a cause, presented through song and stories shared during compelling on-stage interviews with Robin’s Nest Creator and the evening's host, Robin Westle. “Many of the performers who participate in Robin’s Nest,” says Westle “have ties to adoption and are very aware of the need for financial and moral support in the adoption process.”

Robin’s Nest is directed by 6-time MAC Award-winner Eric Michael Gillett. Music Director for the evening is pianist Tracy Stark, featuring Owen Yost on bass and Arei Sekiguchi on percussion. May 7, 2017 at the Laurie Beechman Theater, New york City.


Yoko Ono’s Film No. 4 (known as Bottoms’) was famously banned by the Royal Albert Hall and UK film censors in 1967. Fifty years later, with Ms. Ono’s permission, the venue will screen the film in its entirety for the first time, as part of their counterculture season Summer of Love: Revisited.
The screening on May 3, 2017 in the Halls’ Elgar Room will be followed by an expert panel discussion in response to the film and the censorship of artists during the counterculture movement, hosted by Mia Bays, the Oscar winning producer and Director of Birds Eye View, a charity dedicated to turning up the volume of the female voice in film.
The panel discussion will also feature Dr. Devorah Baum, lecturer in English Lit & Critical Theory at the University of Southampton and co-director of documentary feature film The New Man, and Suzanne Keyte, archivist at the Hall.
A celebration of sixties counterculture.

Fifty years after the Summer of Love rediscover the freedom and rebellion of a pivotal moment in cultural history.

In this series of talks, screenings and performances held in London's Royal Albert Hall, come celebrate the iconic artists and creative minds so strongly linked with the building’s history, who together pushed pop culture to its limits.

The Summer long revisit begins May 1. Events this week include:

Four special events at Royal Albert Hall will showcase the work of subversive filmmaker Peter Whitehead as part of the venue’s Summer of Love: Revisited series.

This special evening will celebrate the Blu-Ray launch of the new HD restoration of Whitehead’s 1967 feature Tonite Lets All Make Love in London.

The film, named after a poem recited at the Hall by Allen Ginsberg, is driven by the pulsing psychedelia of Pink Floyd and punctuated by interviews with the likes of Michael Caine, David Hockney, Mick Jagger and other Sixties ‘faces’. It also captures the moment when the Rolling Stones’ concert here at the Hall in 1966 was interrupted by a rioting audience.

The film will be introduced by distributor Tim Beddows and De Montfort University’s Professor Steve Chibnall, who will return for a post-film discussion hosted by music writer Jon Savage, also featuring co-curator of the Peter Whitehead Archive, Dr. Alissa Clarke.

The screening of Let's All Make Love in London will be followed by a discussion.

On Tuesday, it's a screening of London ’66–‘67, Whitehead’s film based on the early Pink Floyd EP of the same name.

The 30-minute film shows Pink Floyd recording at Sound Techniques London and performing at the legendary UFO Club, a key venue of the counterculture movement which defined the city in the late 1960s.

The screening will be accompanied by talks from early Floyd producer Joe Boyd and key counterculture figure Jenny Spires, alongside further discussion, chaired by music writer Jon Savage, from Peter Whitehead’s Assistant Director Anthony Stern, and the Royal Albert Hall’s Richard Dacre.

Next Sunday, May 7, The International Poetry Incarnation, a landmark event of the 60s counter-culture revelation held at the Hall in June 1965, will be re-imagined at this third event celebrating the work of Peter Whitehead.

The immersive afternoon will recall the atmosphere of that hazy evening in 1965, and will include a rare screening of Wholly Communion, Whitehead’s documentary filmed at the event, alongside live performances by Michael Horovitz.

The Incarnation, held in front of an audience of 7,000, was one of the first British ‘Happenings’, where beatnik poets met emerging hippie culture, and featured the leading lights of American and European beat poetry, including Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Adrian Mitchell and Horovitz.

Rising talents from poetry slam pioneers Hammer & Tongue will also be in person to present original poems in response to works recited at the 1965 event, which is seen by many as the night that kick-started the London counter-culture scene.


HARRY CONNICK, JR made a return last Friday to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival appearing on the Acura main stage for the first time in 10 years. When he's not helping celebrate jazz month he's the host of the charming, eponymously named NBC Harry talk show.

THE VISIBLE THEATER: THE ARTISTS WHO MAKE THE ONSTAGE MAGIC a new series of panel discussions with Broadway Historian/Producer Harvey Granat and Guests. Up next on May 3 will be The Directors.

Guest are Jack O’Brien: The Coast of Utopia (Tony Award), Henry IV (Tony Award); Hairspray (Tony Award), The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; inductee to The American Theater Hall of Fame.

Bart Sher, My Fair Lady (upcoming), The King and I, Fiddler on the Roof (Tony Award),The Bridges of Madison County, South Pacific (Tony Award),The Light in the Piazza; Resident director of Lincoln Center Theater.

Diane Paulus, Waitress, Finding Neverland, Pippin (Tony Award), The Gershwins Porgy and Bess, Hair; Artistic Director of The American Repertory Theater at Harvard University.

The event takes place at 92Y in New York City.

SONGBOOK CLASSICS BY UNSUNG LYRICISTS is the latest presentation of Lyrics & Lyricists. Rob Fisher serves as Artistic Director & Piano with Sheldon Harnick is the writer and host.

Vocals by Aaron C. Finley, Judy Kuhn, Elizabeth Stanley, and Sal Viviano.

Scott Faris is the Stage Director and John Bell is the Associate Music Director.

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, The Nearness of You and As Time Goes By… the songs are standards, but who wrote them? This event celebrates the unsung wordsmiths behind some of the world’s greatest songs - stellar artists like Leo Robin, Mack Gordon, Al Dubin and more - in the latest Rob Fisher (An American in Paris) and Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof) collaboration for L&L. The Broadway talents bringing their words to life: Aaron C. Finley (Kinky Boots) Judy Kuhn (Fun Home), Elizabeth Stanley (On the Town) and Sal Viviano (The Full Monty).

Says Rob Fisher: “Certain lyrics persist in our brains, and often we know exactly how the song became a part of us, as well as who wrote it. But there are songs that have endured where we know almost nothing about the writers who have managed to permanently plant those words in our heads and hearts. We’ll explore the lives of those lesser-known creators, and celebrate their achievements through anecdotes and the personal insights of our host, Sheldon Harnick.”

May 6-8 at 92Y in New York City.

THE IVORYTON PLAYHOUSE in Ivoryton, CT has announced their second annual Women Playwrights Initiative which develops new one-act plays by and about women, and the issues that shape their lives - friendship, political and economic advocacy, sexual satisfaction, aging, gender equality, racial issues, marriage, singlehood, motherhood, careers, and power.

The Initiative provides a safe, nurturing environment for play development, including a week of intensive rehearsal with the playwrights, directors, and actors. Writers whose works are chosen will be invited to Ivoryton for a week to work with directors and actors on their play. They will also receive a small stipend. The week will culminate in a staged reading festival in February/March 2018, with interactive talkbacks with the playwrights, directors, actors, and audience.

Ten minute plays are acceptable, and all plays must run no more than one hour.

Ivoryton Playhouse will accept completed manuscripts by email only until June 30, 2017.

OSCAR WINNER CATE BLANCHETT is set to star as Margo Channing in a stage version of the 1950 film All About Eve. Tony award winner Ivo Van Hove will adapt the script and direct the production, which is expected to open on London's West End in spring 2018.

Blanchett recently made her Broadway debut in The Present.

NATIONAL OATMEAL COOKIE DAY is today, April 30. Wednesday is National Raspberry Popover Day. Thursday is National Candied Orange Peel Day, National Homebrew Day and National Hoagie Day Saturday is National Crepe Suzette Day.


It's not a theatrical stunt - water from air.

Nor is it particularly focused at the entertainment community, although those in the arts' industries need the wet stuff as much as the next person.

Thanks to MIT, you can imagine a future in which every home has an appliance that pulls all the water the household needs out of the air, even in dry or desert climates, using only the power of the sun.

Not science fiction.

This month a demonstration took place of a water harvester that uses only ambient sunlight to pull three gallons of water out of the air each day over a 12-hour period, in conditions as low as 20 percent humidity, a level common in arid areas.

No water shortage - not even in the desert.

The solar-powered harvester, reported in the journal Science, was constructed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology using a special material - a metal-organic framework, or MOF - produced at the University of California, Berkeley.

According to a report from The Kavli Foundation: "This is a major breakthrough in the long-standing challenge of harvesting water from the air at low humidity,” wrote Omar Yaghi, one of two senior authors of the paper, who holds the James and Neeltje Tretter chair in chemistry at UC Berkeley and is a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “There is no other way to do that right now, except by using extra energy. Your electric dehumidifier at home ‘produces’ very expensive water.”

This new method is - if not dirt cheap - water cheap.

The water harvester, built at MIT. Sunlight entering through a window heats up the MOF and drives the bound water toward the condenser, which is at the temperature of the outside air. The vapor condenses as liquid water and drips into a collector. (MIT photo by Hyunho Kim.)
According to the Kavli report, rooftop tests at MIT confirmed that the device works in real-world conditions.

“One vision for the future is to have water off-grid, where you have a device at home running on ambient solar for delivering water that satisfies the needs of a household,” said Yaghi, who is the founding director of the Berkeley Global Science Institute, a co-director of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute and the California Research Alliance by BASF. “To me, that will be made possible because of this experiment. I call it personalized water.”

If Trump can have his own brand of bottled water - so can you. Drink up.

Yaghi invented metal-organic frameworks more than 20 years ago. Since then, more than 20,000 different MOFs have been created by researchers worldwide. In 2014, Yaghi and his UC Berkeley team synthesized a MOF and suggested to Evelyn Wang, a mechanical engineer at MIT, that they join forces to turn the MOF into a water-collecting system.

It looks like a toaster oven.

“This work offers a new way to harvest water from air that does not require high relative humidity conditions and is much more energy efficient than other existing technologies,” Wang emphasized.

Co-authors of the paper with Yaghi and Wang are Eugene Kapustin and Hiroyasu Furukawa of UC Berkeley and Hyunho Kim, Sungwoo Yang, Sameer Rao, Shankar Narayanan and Ari Umans of MIT. The work was supported in part by ARPA-E, a program of the U.S. Department of Energy. The work on MOFs in Yaghi’s laboratory is supported by BASF and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


THE ROGER REES FUND FOR MUSICAL THEATER has been established by Master Voices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) to honor the late stage, film and television actor and celebrate the company's long, warm and fruitful artistic collaboration with him.

Rees served as MasterVoices' Artistic Advisor from 2002 until his untimely death in 2015. Rees created new kinds of concert evenings for the group that were met with resounding critical and popular success, Thanks to his vision, dramatic text and musical theater have become a regular and much-anticipated part of the MasterVoices season.

The Rees Fund will support the group's future musical theater projects, devised and selected by artistic director Ted Sperling, who was introduced to the organization by Rees himself. Like Rees, Sperling is committed to presenting music that is inherently dramatic, in highly theatrical productions set to the highest standards of excellence. Recent projects have featured Kelli O'Hara, Victoria Clark, Bill Irwin, Christopher Fitzgerald and Lauren Worsham.

A multi-talented artist who appeared in and/or directed an extraordinary number of plays, musical theater works, films and television program, Roger Rees was a versatile actor who moved effortlessly between the classical theater and Broadway, between serious dramatic roles and the best of comedic characters. Some of his best known work includes performances in London and New York of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby, for which he won both the Olivier and Tony awards; Peter and the Starcatcher, for which he won an Obie award; Waiting for Godot; The Addams Family and his final role in The Visit. The television series in which he starred included Cheers and The West Wing and perhaps his best-known film was Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

THE WORLD'S BIGGEST HOOTERS located at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas is set to close. The 15,200 square foot facility opened less than two years ago in June 2015 and could seat more than 500. The hotel says Hooters will close in mid-May.

TAYLOR MAC American actor, playwright, performance artist, director, producer, and singer-songwriter last Friday evening was presented with the 2017 Edwin Booth Award, given annually by the CUNY Graduate Center's Doctoral Theatre Students' Association (DTSA) to honor outstanding contributions to the New York City theatre community.

Hosted by MC Salty Brine, the event featured guests Tigger!, Matt Ray, Machine Dazzle, Crystal Lucas-Perry, Morgan Jenness, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Paul Zimet & Ellen Maddow.

The speakers include Frank Hentschker, Executive Director of the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, Niegel Smith, and Sean Edgecomb.

Past Edwin Booth Award honorees include: The Royal Shakespeare Company ('83), Ellen Stewart ('84), Joseph Papp ('89), Tony Kushner ('02), Karen Finley ('08), The Living Theater ('09), Elevator Repair Service ('14) and Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir ('16).

The evening celebrated the groundbreaking work of Taylor Mac, Mac's 24-hour, 246-song marathon performance. Mac was recently named the 2017 recipient of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History.

The evening was presented by the GC CUNY Doctoral Theatre Students' Association (DTSA; Elyse Singer, Second Vice President), in collaboration with The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, and GC Public Programs (Karen Sander, Director).

THE 2017 TONY AWARD NOMINATIONS will be announced May 2 by Hamilton's Christopher Jackson and She Loves Me's Jane Krakowski.

The 2017 Tony Awards will take place June 11 at Radio City Music Hall. The 71st annual ceremony will be hosted by Oscar and Tony Award winner Kevin Spacey.

Broadway To Vegas will published a list of the nominations shortly after they are announced. See Broadway To Vegas list of Tony nominations


GWEN STEFANI who suffered a ruptured eardrum during a plane flight last Tuesday from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in order to perform at the 21st Keep Memory Alive Power of Love gala at the MGM Grand Garden Arena The singer was admitted into Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and is under doctor’s orders not to fly or sing.

The incident was first reported by John Katsilometes in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The gala played a video of Stefani apologizing for not being able to attend. Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson to stepped in for her.

MONSOON WEDDING a world premiere musical with a book by award-winning film director Mira Nair. Music by Vishal Bhardwaj. Lyrics by Tony Award nominated Susan Birkenhead.

Directed by Mira Nair.

The perfect storm starts brewing when family members from around the world descend on Delhi for a nonstop four-day celebration of an arranged marriage between a modern upper-middle-class Indian family’s only daughter and an American guy she’s never met. But the bride is having an affair, her father’s financial troubles deepen, and dark family secrets surface. The forecast calls for drama, love, hope, laughs, and a whole lot of rain.

The cast includes: Monsoon Bissell (Shashi), Meetu Chilana (Grandmother), Emielyn D. Das (Aliya), Namit Das (Dubey), Sharvari Deshpande (Ria), Palomi Ghosh (Vijaya / Naani), Rohan Gupta (Varun), Jaaved Jaaferi Lalit), Dani Jazzar (Ensemble), Mahira Kakkar (Pimmi), Namita Kapoor (Ensemble), Krystal Kiran ·(Saroj Rai), Michael Maliakel · (Hemant), Ali Momen (Vikram / Congress), Anisha Nagarajan (Alice), Andrew Prashad · (Mohan Rai / Tameesuddin), Alok Tewari (Tej), Levin Valayil (Lottery), Kuhoo Verma (Aditi), Sorab Wadia (CL Chawla).

May 5–June 25, 2017 at Berkeley Rep in Berkeley, CA.

OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS by Stephen Brown, base on the memoir by Rory Stewart.

Directed by Simon Godwin.

"It’s democracy. Everyone is equally unhappy. It’s the defining feature of the system,"

Henry Lloyd-Hughes stars as British diplomat Rory Stewart in this extraordinary true story about the moral conflicts, dangers and comic absurdities inherent in foreign occupation.

The cast also includes Nezar Alderazi, Waj Ali, Silas Carson, Amy Cudden, Vangelis Christodoulou, Vincent Ebrahim, Aishya Hart, John Mackay and Johndeep More.

September 2003. Rory Stewart, a thirty year old former British diplomat is posted to serve as governor in a province of the newly liberated Iraq. His job is to help build a new civil society at peace with itself and its neighbors - an ambitious mission, admittedly, but outperforming Saddam should surely not prove too difficult… Yet, freedom from repressive tyranny has allowed centuries of tribal conflict, sectarian tension and ethnic division to burst into the open once more. These sharp local realities plunge Stewart into a dangerous whirlpool of political intrigue in which the double-dealing of opposing interest groups creates intensifying confusion and chaos. As pressure for a settlement mounts from all sides he comes to realise that all politics is indeed local, and that Washington may have to rethink its dreams of Iraqi democracy.

The sold out engagement runs through June 3 at the Hampstead Theatre in London.

BECOMING DR. RUTH by Mark St. Germain.

Directed by Tom Holehan.

Filled with the humor, honesty and life-affirming spirit of Karola Ruth Siegel, the girl who would later become Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Most everyone knows Dr. Ruth Westheimer from her career as America’s foremost pioneering sex therapist. However, very few know her backstory

She joined the Haganah, the Jewish underground freedom fighters in Jerusalem first as a scout and then a sniper, and struggled to succeed as a single mother after coming to America.

Born in 1928 in Germany to Orthodox Jewish parents, less than five years before Hitler became chancellor. She was one of the lucky ones, because she was sent at age 10 to live in Switzerland as part of Kindertransport, a program that saved thousands of Jewish children. When she moved to the United States, all it took was a radio show (Sexually Speaking, which began in 1980) to make her a star. Audiences fell in love with the idea of a petite matronly lady with a high-pitched, German-accented voice speaking frankly about personal sexual matters on the radio.

Becoming Dr. Ruth features Alice McMahon as Dr. Ruth.

Opens on Thursday, May 4 and continues Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Sunday, May 21 at the Stratford Academy in Stratford, Connecticut.


MAGIC AT THE MUSICALS this brand new show, complete with a 60-piece orchestra backs performances from leading cast members from the West End’s most celebrated shows including: Dreamgirls - On The Town - La Cage Aux Folles - Evita - The Wedding Singer - Disney’s The Lion King - School Of Rock! - Jesus Christ Superstar - Disney’s Aladdin - Blood Brothers - Mamma Mia! - The Wind in the Willows takes place Thursday, May 4, 2017 at Royal Albert Hall in London.

BRUNO MARS begins a two nighter Tuesday, May 2 at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. On Friday the show is at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, UK. Saturday finds him at the Sheffield Arena in England.

NEIL DIAMOND stars at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA on Tuesday, May 2.

FAITHFULLY: A SYMPHONIC TRIBUTE TO THE MUSIC OF JOURNEY performed by the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra. Experience hits like Don't Stop Believing, Faithfully, Any Way You Want It, Open Arms, Wheel in the Sky, and many more. Friday, March 3-4 at the Atwood Concert Hall in Anchorage, Alaska.

ED SHEERAN has a three night stand beginning Monday. May 1, at The 02 in London.

JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER playing great as usual on Wednesday, May 3, at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, NJ. They'll do it again the next night at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, NJ.

TIM McGRAW AND FAITH HILL perform Thursday, May 5 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ On Friday they open a two night stand at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.

JANE AUSTEN'S MUSIC ROOM 200 years after Jane Austen’s death, Flauguissimo Duo present hidden gems from music books compiled by the novelist herself, including music by Paganini. Flauguissimo Duo are Yu-Wei Hu (flute) and Johan Löfving (guitar). May 4, 2017 at the Handel and Hendrix Museum in London.


MARTHA LAVEY pioneering director of Chicago's Steppenwolf's Theatre from 1995 to 2014, died in hospice care at Illinois Masonic Hospital on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, after suffering her second major stroke in two years. She was 60.

Lavey earned her doctorate degree in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, was later a recipient of an Alumni Merit Award from that school, and served as a member of the National Advisory Council for the School of Communication at the university. She became a Steppenwolf ensemble member in 1993, and performed in more than 30 of its productions.

She served on grants panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, The Theatre Communications Group, Three Arts Club, USA Artists and the City Arts panel of Chicago.

Lavey is survived by her parents, Robert and Patricia Lavey, as well as by her sister Michele Dragisity, (of Bloomfield Hills, MI); and five brothers — Kevin Lavey (Baltimore, MD); Matt Lavey (West Babylon, NY); John Lavey (St. Louis, MO); Patrick Lavey (Newton, MA); Jim Lavey (Oakton, VA.).

Next Column: May 7, 2017
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Laura Deni

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