Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: February 12, 2017
By: Laura Deni


Glenn Close is reprising her Tony Award-winning role as Norma Desmond, 22 years later in a revival of Sunset Boulevard, directed by Lonny Price at Palace Theatre. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Desperately needy. Vulnerable. Obsessed.

Glenn Close as Norma Desmond in the revival of Sunset Boulevard currently at the Palace Theatre in New York City.

Almost a quarter century ago Close took home her third Tony for her portrayal of the has been movie star in the original version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, which is based on the Billy Wilder film.

I saw that original, visually stunning and dramatic show which featured - and still does - the songs With One Look and It's As If We'd Never Said Good-bye.

In this revival, seen in previews, the 40-excellent musicians are not in an orchestra pit, but on stage - a trend that may have picked up steam when Patti LuPone (who has also played Norma Desmond) starred in Sweeney Todd, which even required the performers to play an instrument. Since then more and more productions have put the musicians in the stage spotlight.

The stars easily work around the human music stands.

Sunset Boulevard is a London West End transfer and Close and her three London co-stars are Michael Xavier as handsome hunk Joe Gillis, Fred Johanson cast as Max von Meyerling, Norma’s submissive first husband who has been downgraded to devoted driver and butler, and Siobhan Dillon as Betty Schaefer, studio gal and Joe’s young love interest.

For those not familiar with the actors who crossed the pond to make their Broadway debut:

Possessing a superior voice, Michael Xavier is excellent as Joe Gillis. Xavier is a two time Laurence Olivier nominated actor and singer. Some of his previous roles include: Miss Saigon, My Fair Lady, The Phantom of the Opera, Oklahoma!, and The Sound of Music. He played Sid Sorokin opposite Joanna Riding in The Pajama Game at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London, John Wilkes Booth in Assassins at the Menier Chocolate Factory, and prior to bringing Sunset Boulevard to Broadway he appeared as Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Xavier won the London Coliseum Voter Poll as Best Actor in a New Production of a Musical for his role in Sunset Boulevard.

With an imposing appearance and strong voice, Fred Johanson is a London-based Swedish stage, film and TV actor and musical theatre performer and songwriter. He's noted for appearances in the musicals Fame, Les Miserables, Notre Dame de Paris, Cyrano, Jesus Christ Superstar and Cats. He has also played the role of the Beast in the musical Beauty and the Beast.

As a songwriter Johanson has not only written for himself, but other artists such as Steve Balsamo, Frida (Abba), Meja. He composed the No.1 hit single for the Australian Popstars “Scandal’us” which topped the charts as No.1 for three weeks and sold double platinum together with the follow up album that sold platinum.

Siobhan Patricia Dillon is an English actress and singer, who rose to fame when she performed in the British talent show-themed television series How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? on BBC One in 2006. Since then she has performed in the West End, playing the roles of Sandy in the musical Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre and as Vivienne Kensington in the musical Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre. Her other theatre credits include Ghost the Musical and Miss Saigon.

Glenn Close as Norma Desmond and Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Since the original Broadway production, much has changed in Sunset Boulevard but not the plot revolving around the emotionally desperate, bitter and longing world Norma Desmond lives in, enabled by her co-dependent butler.

“In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, lives in a fantasy world. Down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis tries to hustle up some work at Paramount Studios. His appointment with a producer goes poorly when the executive rejects both Joe's proposed script and a loan to bring his car payments up to date. Joe does, however, meet Betty Schaefer, a pretty, young script editor who suggests they collaborate to rework one of his earlier screenplays. As they chat, Joe is spotted by car repossession agents and makes a quick escape.

During the chase that ensues, Joe evades his pursuers by pulling into the garage of a palatial but dilapidated mansion on Sunset Boulevard. Beckoned inside the house, Joe encounters Norma Desmond, the "greatest star of all" who ruled the silent film era but didn't make the transition to sound movies. Taken aback, Joe comments, "You used to be in pictures; you used to be big," to which Norma retorts, "I am big — it's the pictures that got small!"

Persuaded to work on Norma’s ‘masterpiece’, a film script that she believes will put her back in front of the cameras, he is seduced by her and her luxurious life-style. Norma lavishes him with gifts that include a wardrobe makeover and he becomes her kept man. Joe becomes entrapped in a claustrophobic world until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free, with dramatic consequences.”

Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis and the cast of Sunset Boulevard. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Sunset Boulevard is a Hollywood love and betrayal story.

While it may not seem fair, because Close starred in the original and much has been made about her return, comparisons beg to be made.

In the original version the Tony award winning, statement making set by John Napier was the co-star. That incredible staging depicted how Desmond lived in her heyday.

In this revival James Noone’s set is a stripped skeleton of implied former grandeur, showing how Desmond's career has decayed. Jutting industrial scaffolding requires one to imagine what it must have once been. Beams form and allude to buildings. A cluster of chandeliers, heavy colors and furniture styles in the Desmond era. Of course, there is a staircase, but it's not a grand heavy one - but actually two composed of scaffolding and wrought iron.

There is a car, which is important to the story, and a floating corpse which will hang overhead in a statement making reminder of what has happened.

Desmond is also a remnant of what she once was. A box office draw, always in demand, who traveled up the ladder of stardom into oblivion.

Desmond may be fictional, but she is the poster person for "entertainer" - so many emotionally needy, yet egotistical performers in a range of genre whose self worth and identity are controlled by their popularity. Their teeter totter life is balanced by their perceived image. Delusions constructed on foundations of grandeur, applause and attention are their life support systems.

Fred Johanson in Sunset Boulevard. Photo: Joan Marcus
Glenn Close's performance is the scenic design that gives the (perhaps rusted iron) scaffolding dimension and color. Her interpretation of the part this time around is deeper, even more thoughtful. Her character is desperate and aged. She recognizes she is past her prime but clings to hope - perhaps the most powerful word in the dictionary. Clergymen have gotten rich and famous preaching hope to congregants. Patients demand treatment from doctors hoping something works. Lines snake around blocks to buy a mega bucks lottery ticket, hoping to win. Gambling casinos rack in millions on the same premise. You hope the job works out or hope the marriage lasts. Hope is all some people have. Unrealistic hope is all that's left for Norma Desmond.

Directed by Lonny Price, Close's acting this turn is more heartfelt, a deeper portrayal of a woman inwardly anxious, yet depressed. Desmond is living in the nightmare reality of fickle fans and agents who once loved her who no longer remembering her name. All of the characters are complicated and Close acknowledges Desmond's emotional layers in a performance which will touch your heart.

Adding depth to the creation of Norma Desmond are the opulent costumes by Anthony Powell. Incredible, era appropriate ensembles of vibrant jewel tones, sequined black, luscious gold, silver satin with white fur and animal prints. The trademark turbans are worn like a coronation crown.

Close's pale make-up by designers Dave Bova and J. Jared Janas, is a reminder - that death is near - and of the days, beginning with 16th Century's Queen Elizabeth I, when royal court women dusted their faces with white powder. Pale skin was considered a sign of nobility and wealth. Once others considered Norma Desmond royalty in the Hollywood sense of the word, although the faded actress never acccepted the assention of another. As Desmond has aged her "royal court Elizabethian" make-up stayed the same while increasing in layers in an attempt to fool, if not the world, at least herself. The team of Boya and Janas also created the wig, and hair designs.

Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis & Siobhan Dillon as Betty Schaefer in Sunset Boulevard. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Lighting design by Mark Henderson is excellent, taking advantage of the venue as well as the stage.

Ideally this is a production meant for those who have never seen the movie, nor the original Broadway production, so that the production can be enjoyed on its own, substantial merits.

Close doesn't steal the show as much as she rightfully claims ownership from the moment the tremendously powerful and gorgeous overture concludes. The orchestra is led by music director Kristen Blodgette.

The production has younger actors, costumed in assorted, colorful extra and bit player costumes, singing about desiring their own fame, exhibiting the energy and stamina of youth. But it is Close as Desmond that leaves no doubt that she, too, once was enthusiastic. Now, she is desperate.

Obviously, the music is a key ingredient. Close is not the best Broadway singer who has ever trod the boards. In this minimalist version of Sunset Boulevard Norma Desmond shouldn't be a totally on key, belt it to the back row songbird. In previous versions that vocal strength and clarity may have been a requirement to - if not compete - at least hold one's own against Napier's opulent sets.

In this version the voice needs to be more representative of an emotionally detached, aged performer who almost trips into crazy with her need to once again be in the spotlight.

When Norma Desmond returns to visit her old studio and a spotlight shines of her face, it's jarring to see Desmond rejuvenated as she misleads herself into thinking she has made a come-back.

Close singing As If We Never Said Good-bye is show stopping.

Close closes the show in a bring-em to their feet movement number.

The creative team also includes choreographer Stephen Mear, costume designer for other than Miss Close is Tracy Christensen, well balanced sound design by Mick Potter, fight directors Rick Sordelet and Christian Kelly-Sordelet, and associate director Matt Cowart.

In comparing Glenn Close to Glenn Close in the previous and current versions it is - as if we'd never said good-bye.

The cast also includes: Paul Schoeffler as Cecil B. DeMille with Nancy Anderson, Mackenzie Bell, Preston Truman Boyd, Barry Busby, Britney Coleman, Julian Decker, Anissa Felix, Drew Foster, David Hess, Brittney Johnson, Katie Ladner, Stephanie Martignetti, Lauralyn McClelland, T. Oliver Reid, Lance Roberts, Stephanie Rothenberg, Graham Rowat, Andy Taylor, Sean Thompson, Matt Wall, and Jim Walton.

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NEW STAGES SERIES PRESENTED BY THE RINGLING launches the next phase of its New Stages series with New Sincerity, featuring artists who seek to redefine the parameters of performance and contemporary art. New Stages, an integral piece in The Art of Our Timevisual and performing arts initiative at The Ringling, “brings unique works from genre defying artists,” said Steven High, executive director. “Our entire campus is the stage in these performances created in unusual spaces throughout the grounds and galleries.

“In New Stages: New Sincerity, each performance group is focused on community with a desire to make performance art accessible to all,” said Sonja Shea, project coordinator. “For each performance in the series, The Ringling was able to work with artists who have created meaningful and unique performances that exemplify community and allow the visitor to truly feel like part of the performance.”

The New Stages season opens on February 17, 2017, with acrobatic theater artists Wise Fool New Mexico performing SEESAW.

"Artists work in the air and on stilts inhabiting an ever-changing environment of kinetic sculpture, drawing in, disarming and instilling the audiences with wonder and compassion as they open the door for new ideas in movement and performance."

Performances February 17-18 at The Ringling situated on 66 acres on Sarasota Bay, Florida.


THE STARLIGHT THEATRE IN KANSAS CITY asked patrons attending Sister's Christmas Catechism to clean out their storage closets and help a good cause by bringing non-working and unused holiday lights to Starlight Theatre to be recycled.

Starlight participated for the first time in a holiday lights recycling program sponsored by Southeast Enterprises, a Kansas City nonprofit sheltered workshop. For the sixth straight year, Southeast Enterprises collected the lights to be sorted, disassembled and recycled by its 160 employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

During this year’s campaign, which ran November 13, 2016 through January 7, 2017 Southeast Enterprises collected 41,561 pounds of lights from 160 Kansas City area locations.

Diverted from local landfills, the strands of lights instead are disassembled by Southeast Enterprises’ employees, who remove the light receptacles from each strand. The strand’s wire, which contains copper, is then sent to City Scrap Metal in Lee’s Summit. Southeast Enterprises receives a rebate on the copper and uses the funds to cover the majority of its employees’ wages. The separated light bulbs are sent to Systech (formerly LaFarge) to be burned for energy recovery.

“All lights collected provide employment opportunities for a team of our workers,” Amanda Moses, business development director at Southeast Enterprises, explained. “Challenging employment opportunities help our workers develop and capitalize on their motivation, confidence and determination. All proceeds are used to pay the team as well as fund future employment opportunities.”

Starlight Theatre thanked their patrons and staff who contributed to this charitable effort.


with the tag line Sometimes love has to lick you in the fact is an original off-Broadway cast recording which has been released on Broadway Records.

A tail wagger of a musical with clever lyrics by Gayland D. Morgan who also did the music.

You need to know the story-line to appreciate the CD.

A Dog Story is a charming new musical comedy about Roland, a career-driven New York lawyer, who thinks that if he’s ever going to make partner, he’s got to be married, like other partners at his firm.

So he follows the advice of his best buddy, Guy, and gets a puppy named Cupid as a chick magnet for his Hamptons vacation.

The plan works - he's thrilled when Cupid leads him to beautiful businesswoman Blair. . .not so thrilled when Cupid leads him to Miranda, a dog trainer who is patient with puppies but not their owners.

But through first dates, angry tangos, and a sudden disappearance, Roland ends up discovering there's more to life when you "get a dog!"

Starring David Perlman as Roland, Lindsie VanWinkle as dog trainer Miranda, Brian Ray Norris as Guy, and Stefanie Brown as Blair, with swings Chris Blem (Roland/Guy) and Alex Kidder (Miranda/Blair).

If you have ever had a dog adopt you as their pet parent - if you have ever loved a dog - if you have ever realized that a family dog is really the boss of the family - then this CD is for you. If you are sick of current headlines, tensions, and a nation divided then you'll relax and smile listening to this CD. People love their dogs.

This is a sweet musical, with a love of romance - and dogs.

A very pleasant listen; which is really a variation of a spoken word recording with musical backing.

Just because this CD has few numbers which require a genuine singing voice doesn't mean the cast doesn't possess singinge ability.

For instance -

Stefanie Brown has been in numerous regional musical productions and portrayed Nessarose in the first national tour of Wicked.

With an extensive background as a cruise ship performing, Van Winkle was Eliza Doolittle in a production of My Fair Lady at the Arts Center of Costal Carolina in South Carolina, Betty Haynes in White Christmas at the Westchester Broadway Theatre in New York, Fantine in Les Miserables at the Ocean State Theatre Company in Rhode Island, and Mary Poppins at the Lyric Theatre's mounting of the musical of the same name.

David Perlman's credits include playing Rotelli in the York Theatre Company Production of the musical Yank! and was in the US tour of Madagascar Live!

Married Over Labor Day has spoken dialogue backed by an energetic piano. Roland (David Perlman) has excellent enunciation. In fact, all of the performers have excellent enunciation making every word easily understood and thus the ability to follow the plot-line.

The third selection Freedom performed by Blair (soprano Stefanie Brown) is sung - beautifully sung. It's Cuz Of You is energetic, sung by Roland to a "piddlin' pooper" dog who is credited with making it possible for a first date with the girl of his dreams. It's All About the Dog, a duet with Roland and dog trainer Miranda (Lindsie VanWinkle), explains how difficult it is for a dog to train their human.

The lyrics are clever. The music is pleasant, excellent use of the instruments and the sound is well balanced - never overpowering or making it difficult to understand the lyrics.

Because of Her another duet by Roland and Miranda explains that the dog isn't a "distraction" but "the key to all his dreams."

Vacation/Training Tango is a vibrant Tango beat duet in which Miranda and Roland debate whether the dog needs too much care, constant attention and love to allow for the wooing of a girl. Perhaps Roland is even sloughing off at the office.

Cupid's Lullaby performed by Miranda and Roland is gentle, leading into The Nightmare which is about the care in the training of man's best friend. Let's Make Some Noise is a bluesy lament by Blair and Roland - that dog wants to get down and dirty. Better Saturday Nights performed by Guy and Miranda, is a toe tapper with a slight hillbilly undercurrent about the dreams of dates hoping to "never drinking solo again."

Please Come Home is poignant. It's dark outside and Cupid the dog is missing. Roland is worried that Cupid might be hurt, cold or hungry. Roland discovers how much he has always loved Cupid - never realizing he'd ever care half a much as he does. He admits that the dog "opened up my heart." It's beautiful song which will resonant with anyone who ever loved a dog.

Cupid returns and Get a Dog - Reprise ends the CD.

Dylan Marcaurele synth/conductor. Mike Livingston clarinet/flute/sax. Lou Garrett acoustic and electric guitars.

Orchestrations by Frank Galgano and Matt Castle.

Recorded by John Kilgore Studios, NYC. Engineered by John Kilgore. Mixing by Michael J. Moritz, Jr. Mastering by Greg Reierson at Rare Form Mastering. CD booklet package design by Robbie Rozelle. Photography by Jeremy Daniel.

A sweet, fluffy, funny score, ably performed by a talented group of singers and musicians. Buy and enjoy.


Harry Connick, Jr. host of the talk show which bears his name pulled off a first last Friday.
the congenial host of the talk show bearing his name pulled off a first. His show that aired last Friday was shot - not with television cameras - but with smart phones. The results were impressive, professional, interesting, inventive and - from a viewer's POV - totally successful.

In the hands of professional cameramen who knew how to use the device, the pictures were clear and, for the most part, the moves were smooth. When a close up was needed of cupcake decorating, the camera guys capturing each other scrambling for the right angle only added to the down home appeal of the show.

Compared to a television camera the smart phone used as a television camera could revolutionize the television industry. While there are bugs do be worked out, such as the border, the ability to successfully tape a talk show is the 'yeah, it can be done' building block.

An analogy might be how computers changed the workplace through the invention of the laptop and then the creation of the memory stick.

Compared to the equipment needed for an ordinary television taping, the smart phone concept is considerably cheaper, mobility especially for location shoots, no warehouse or large storage areas needed, less security. Whether this is the beginning of a new era will be heavily influenced by the opinions of Harry director and cameramen.

DANA IVEY will direct a reading of Karel Capek’s influential science fiction comedy R.U.R. on Monday, February 13th at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at the West Side YMCA, New York City.

The event is part of The Acting Company's 2016-2017 John McDonald Salon Series.

The social satire that introduced the word ‘robot’ to the world, R.U.R. chronicles a mechanized creation’s revolt against its inventors. Under the direction of five-time Tony nominee Dana Ivey, this classic play finds new relevance in an age in which technology - both its promise and its pitfalls - is an increasingly inescapable part of our lives.

Tony Award nominee Dana Ivey directs a cast including Matthew Amendt, Freddy Arsenault, Rebecca Brooksher, Caleb Carlson, Todd Cerveris, Ian Gould, Patricia Hodges, Carl Howell , Angela Janas, David Lansbury, David Manis, Lisa Tharps, Richard Topol, Andrew Weems and Daniel Joseph Yaiullo.

THE SAN JOSE JAZZ WINTER FEST is set to feature 28 free and ticketed concerts throughout the California South Bay between February 14 and March 3, 2017.

Winter Fest billed as "a more intimate counterpoint to our flagship Summer Fest, presents jazz’s leading voices and emerging talents in club-like settings. This concert series showcases living legends alongside buzzing artists who are pushing the boundaries of jazz in new and exciting ways."

San Jose Jazz Winter Fest 2017 features Roy Ayers, Donny McCaslin, Kim Nalley and Kalil Wilson, the Cookers, Wallace Roney with Patrice Rushen and Lenny White, Ben Allison and Think Free, the Villalobos Brothers, the John Abercrombie Quartet, Mary Stallings, Reva DeVito, International String Trio, Emily Day, and more.

LADY GAGA will headline for the first time the opening night of Rock in Rio festival which takes place September 18th, 19th, 20th, 24th, 25th, 26th, and 27th.

The stop will coincide with Lady Gaga's Joanne World Tour.

Celebrating its 32nd anniversary this year, the Rock in Rio festival will be held in Barra da Tijuca’s Cidade do Rock at the Olympic Park.

Rock in Rio was first held in 1985 in Rio de Janeiro and during the last three decades, the festival has expanded into an international concert with editions held in Lisbon, Portugal, Madrid, Spain, and "for the first time this year in Las Vegas, Nevada." The official "first time" assertion is a bit confusing since a Las Vegas Rock in Rio event was announced in a New York Times Square press conference in September 2014 for a 2015 happening on the MGM Grand Festival Grounds in Las Vegas. Afterwards, organizers promised something bigger and better in 2017.

The 2017 Sin City Rock in Rio Festival taking place at the T-Mobile Arena is slated for May.

WORKS & PROCESS ROTUNDA PROJECT a new initiative, commissioning site-specific residencies and performances for the iconic Guggenheim rotunda. The Michelle Dorrance Rotunda Project will feature MacArthur Fellow Michelle Dorrance, one of the most sought-after tap dancers of her generation. Culminating a three-week rotunda residency, Dorrance leads a large cast of dancers and musicians from her company Dorrance Dance using dance and percussion to create a performative soundscape incorporating the rotunda as a musical instrument.

This 30-minute performance will be viewed from the ramps and requires audience members to stand for the duration of the program.

Thursday, February 16, 2017 at the Peter B. Lewis Theater, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City.

THE PEANUTS GANG APOLOGY PHILOSOPHY last week ABC aired Charlie Brown Valentine specials Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown / A Charlie Brown Valentine.

Be My Valentine has a scene which should be a behavior guide for offering an apology.

In one scene while in the company of Shroeder, Charlie Brown receives a used Valentine as an apology from Violet, who has scratched her name off of the Valentine.

Shroeder (voice of Greg Felton) steps forward and eloquently to powerfully blasts Violet. His comments about when an apology isn't an apology should be used as a life lesson guide. More people should heed the wisdom of the Peanuts gang.

FEBRUARY 12 is National Plum Pudding Day and National PB&J Day. Monday is National Italian Food Day. Wednesday is National Gumdrop Day. Friday is National Cafe’ Au Lait Day and Saturday is National “Drink Wine” Day.


WALT DISNEY CO in keeping with their annual tradition of raising prices at their theme parks has announced that admission prices will increase by as much as $5 for some single-day tickets starting Sunday, February 12, 2017.

A single-day, adult pass to the Magic Kingdom will cost between $107 to $124 depending on the time of year, in keeping with the company's three-tier structure that charges customers more during peak periods in an attempt at crowd control.

At Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, the new single-day prices range from $97 to $124.

However, a two-day ticket at Walt Disney World will drop by $3 to $199.

GLENN WEISS for winning a Director's Guild Award in the category of best directing Variety/Talk/News/Sports - Specials for helming The 70th Annual Tony Awards.

THE BAFTA AWARDS will be presented tonight, Sunday, February 12, 2017 hosted by Stephen Fry.

Prince William who has served as President of BAFTA since 2010, and his wife Kate, will walk the red carpet at London’s Royal Albert Hall and attend the awards ceremony.

William will also present the BAFTA Fellowship, the awards’ lifetime achievement award to EGOT Mel Brooks. The actor, director and producer will follow in the footsteps of film royalty including Helen Mirren, Martin Scorsese and Michael Caine in receiving the award.

Presenters for the ceremony and other attendees are: Riz Ahmed, Ewan Bremmer, Noel Clarke, Penelope Cruz, Jamie Dornan, Carmen Ejogo, Luke Evans, Holliday Grainger, Bryce Dallas Howard, Isabelle Huppert, Felicity Jones, George MacKay, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thandie Newton, Simon Pegg, Ella Purnell, Noomi Rapace, Andrea Riseborough, Mark Rylance, Rafe Spall, Julia Stiles, Russell Tovey, Sophie Turner, and Stanley Tucci.

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are fantastic supporters of BAFTA. We very much look forward to welcoming Their Royal Highnesses at the EE British Academy Film Awards on Sunday, February 12 ,” said Amanda Berry OBE and Chief Executive of BAFTA.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public.

In addition to its Awards ceremonies, BAFTA has a year-round, international programme of learning events and initiatives that offers unique access to some of the world’s most inspiring talent through workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes, connecting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the UK, Los Angeles and New York.

For a complete list of nominees and winners see See 2017 BAFTA Nominees and winners

THE 59TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS takes place the Staples Center in Los Angeles and hosted by award-winning television personality and performer James Corden on Sunday, February 12, 2017.

The Grammy Awards will be broadcast live on the CBS Television Network.

For a list of nominees and winners click here

KEITH HOWARD of Tesoro High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., has been announced as the recipient of the 2017 Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. In addition, nine music teachers have been announced as finalists for the award. Initial nominations were submitted from all 50 states.

Each year, one recipient is selected from 10 finalists and recognized for their remarkable impact on students' lives. Hancock, the 2017 honoree, will be recognized during Grammy Week. He will attends the 59th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony and a range of Grammy Foundation events. In addition, he will receive a $10,000 honorarium. The nine finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists will receive matching grants.

The finalists include:

Erica Brietbarth of Reagan IB High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
David Dehner of Monte Vista Christian School in Watsonville, California
Jose Diaz of MacArthur Senior High School in Houston, Texas
Elizabeth Hankins of Lakewood high School in Lakewood, Ohio
Keith Hart, Sr. of KIPP Believe College Prep in New Orleans, LA,
Henry Miller of Sierra Vista Middle School in Irvine, California
Richard Nickerson of Windham High School in Windham, Maine
Ulli Reiner of Bernardo Heights Middle School in Poway, California
Nicole Thompson of Taylor Road Middle School in Johns Creek, Georgia.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers. Adapted by Aaron Carter and directed by Hallie Gordon.

by Walter Dean Myers. Adapted by Aaron Carter

Directed by Hallie Gordon.

This New York Times 1999 bestselling novel and National Book Award nominee tells the story of Steve Harmon, a 16-year-old aspiring film-maker in juvenile detention. His life has been turned upside down by his alleged participation in a robbery gone awry and now he might spend the rest of his life behind bars on a charge of felony murder. As the prosecution makes its case, Steve writes his story as a screenplay, trying to understand if he’s really the monster they say he is.

Featuring Cheryl Graeff, Kenn E. Head, Daniel Kyri, Tevion Devin Lanier, Chris Rickett, Namir Smallwood, Ginneh Thomas and Ensemble Member Alana Arenas.

Scenic Design Joanna Iwanicka. Costume Design Samantha C. Jones. Lighting Design J.R. Lederle. Sound Design Christopher Kriz. Casting Director JC Clementz. Stage Manager Brian Maschka.

February 15 - March 9, 2017 at Steppenwolf in Chicago.

Following its four-week run at Steppenwolf and working in collaboration with Storycatchers Theatre, Steppenwolf for Young Adults will tour its production for a week to three Juvenile Justice Facilities in Illinois. This tour will provide detained and incarcerated youth a chance to see the production and share their stories with professional artists involved with the play. A series of workshops for youth who have read the book and seen the production will be hosted to further explore the play’s themes. In addition to the tour, Steppenwolf will host Storycatchers alumni, who participated in Storycatchers programs while incarcerated or detained, on the Steppenwolf stage for a series of special events featuring these incredible young people and their stories.

Storycatchers Theatre, winner of the 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, is a youth development arts organization that prepares court-involved and otherwise marginalized young people to make thoughtful life choices through the process of writing, producing and performing original theatre inspired by personal stories.

WAKEY, WAKEY written and directed by Lucille Lortel and Obie Award-winner Will Eno.

What are we here for? Is time a friend or an enemy? Do we all eventually end up in the same place, but take different routes to get there? "This funny, moving, and thought-provoking new play challenges the notion of what really matters and recognizes the importance of life’s simple pleasures. (All of which might sound dreary, but there’s a chance this will be a really good experience.)"

The cast includes Emmy Award-winner Michael Emerson and January LaVoy.

The creative team includes Christine Jones (Scenic Design), Michael Krass (Costume Design), David Lander (Lighting Design), Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design), and Peter Nigrini (Projection Design). David H. Lurie is the Production Stage Manager. Casting by Telsey + Company..

Presented by Signature Theatre Company the production is currently in previews and runs through March 19, 2017 with a February 27 opening night in The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, New York City.

FOREVER PLAID Written by Stuart Ross.

Musical arrangements by James Raitt.

Directed by Scott Dreier and Kurtis Simmons,

Musical direction by Brian Baker.

Starring Jackson Hinden, Travis Leland, Robert Petrarca, Nick Tubbs.

A goofy, charming, totally feel good musical escape. Miraculously revived from the dead, four young singers killed in a car crash on the way to their first-ever big concert get to fulfill their dream and perform the show after all - even though now it’s more than 50 years later.

The crowd-pleasing score consists of unforgettable classics including Three Coins in the Fountain, Catch a Falling Star, Chain Gang, Cry, Heart and Soul, Rags to Riches, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and many more.

The creative team for Forever Plaid includes set designer Christopher Scott Murillo, lighting designer Stacy McKenney, costume designer Kim DeShazo, sound designer Dave Mickey, props designers Patty and Gordon Briles and hair and wigs designer Anthony Gagliardi. Casting is by Michael Donovan and the production stage manager is Molly McGraw.

February 15 - March 5 at the International City Theatre, in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Long Beach, CA.


MATTHEW MORRISON the Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe-nominated performer brings his talents to the Wheeler Opera House on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 in Aspen, Colorado.

BON JOVI entertains Tuesday, February 14, at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. On Thursday his tour stops at Legacy Arena at the BJCC in Birmingham, AL. Saturday's gig is at the Bridgetone Arena in Nashville, TN.

ARIANA GRANDE delivers a Valentine's Day show at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. Friday's stop is at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.

JACK JONES the legendary crooner delivers a special performance Valentine's Day, February 14, 2017 at the Peabody in Daytona Beach, Florida.

BLAKE SHELDON performs Thursday, February 16, at the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, CA. Friday's gig is at the Forum in Inglewood, CA.

KRISTIN CHENOWETH delivers a Valentine performance Tuesday, February 14, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL On Wednesday she's in the spotlight at the Kravis Center for the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL.

BEN FOLDS opens a two night stand Saturday, February 18, at Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, MO. On Friday he appears at the Peter Kiewit Concert Hall in Omaha, NE.

CHERISH THE LADIES a Grammy-nominated, Irish-American group opens a two night stand on Valentine's Day at The Barns, Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia.

KINGS OF LEON entertain Wednesday, February 15, at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany. Thursday's performance is at the Barclay Card Arena in Hamburg, Germany. Next Sunday, February 19, the stop is at First Direct Arena in Leeds, UK.

CHRIS ROCK has a busy week funny stories Monday, February 13, he opens a three night gig at the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham, NC. On Thursday he begins a two nighter at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Cincinnati, OH. On Saturday it's the start of a two night stand at the Palace Theatre in Columbus, OH.

RICHARD MARX AND RICK SPRINGFIELD perform at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, MI on Thursday, February 16, 2017.

NORAH JONES appears at Neil Fest, Saturday, February 18, at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas and next Sunday, February 19, at the Granada Theater in Dallas.


SONNY GERACI who had national hits as lead singer of The Outsiders in the 1960s and Climax in the 1970s, died February 5, 2017. He had had been in ill health since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2012. He was 69.

The Outsiders enjoyed four singles which charted during the late 1960s, including Time Won't Let Me, Girl in Love, Help Me Girl and Respectable (What Kind of Girl Is This), a remake of the Isley Brothers tune.

Geraci left the band in 1970, forming the band Climax. That group later scored a Top 3 single with Precious and Few, which spent three weeks at number 3 on the Billboard chart and sold over one million copies.

Later in his career he would sing with The Grass Roots and became an honorary member of the band.

After his brain aneurysm he required intensive care. According to WEWS-TV on November 15–16, 2013, a benefit concert for Geraci was held at the Z-Plex at Stringz 'N Wingz in Streetsboro, Ohio. The benefit featured several musicians and groups including The Rip Chords, Dennis Tufano, Gary Lewis, Frank Stallone, Gary DeCarlo, Joey Molland, Terry Sylvester, Billy Joe Royal, Ron Dante, Pat Upton, Jim Gold, The Shadows of Knight, The Michael Weber Show, Johnny Farina, The Vogues and the 1910 Fruitgum Company.

RICHARD HATCH actor who gained fame as Captain Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica television series died February 7, 2017 from pancreatic cancer. He was 71.

Hatch began his theatrical career with the Los Angeles Repertory Theater, as well as shows in Chicago and Off-Broadway.

He is survived by his son Paul and his brother John.

IRWIN COREY a double talk comedian known as Professor Irwin Corey and billed as "The World's Foremost Authority on Everything" died February 6, 2017 in New York City. He was 102.

In 1938 he got a job writing and performing in Pins and Needles, a musical comedy revue about a union organizer in New York's garment district. He claims he was fired from this job after he attempted to organize a union. Five years later he was working in New Faces of 1943 and appearing at the Village Vanguard, doing his stand-up comedy routine.

An activist he was blacklisted in the 1950s, the effects of which he stated lingered throughout his life.

Corey was married for 70 years to Fran, who died in May 2011] The couple had two children, the late Margaret Davis, née Corey, an actress, and Richard Corey, a painter who survives him as do two grandsons Amadeo Corey and Corey Meister.

ALEC McCOWEN Tony nominated British stage and film actor died at his home on February 6, 2017. He was 91.

McCowen first appeared on stage at the Repertory Theatre, Macclesfield, in August 1942 as Micky in Paddy the Next Best Thing. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in September 1962, appearing at Stratford-upon-Avon playing Antipholus of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors and the Fool to Paul Scofield's King Lear, subsequently appearing in both plays at the Aldwych Theatre in December 1962 – performing these roles again for a British Council tour of the Soviet Union, Europe and the United States from February to June 1964.

His career breakthrough took place at the Mermaid Theatre in April 1968 as Fr. William Rolfe in Hadrian the Seventh, winning his first Evening Standard Award as Best Actor for the London production and a Tony nomination after the transfer to Broadway.

At the Royal Court in August 1970, McCowen was cast to play the title role in Christopher Hampton's sophisticated comedy, The Philanthropist. It transferred to the Mayfair Theatre where it ran for a further three years, making it the Royal Court's most successful straight play. McCowen and his co-star Jane Asher went with it to Broadway in March 1971 where he won the 1971 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Performance.

His next big successes were in National Theatre Comnpany productions at the Old Vic. In February 1973 he co-starred with Diana Rigg in Molière's The Misanthrope for which he won his second Evening Standard award; followed in July 1973 by the role of psychiatrist Martin Dysart in the world premiere of Peter Shaffer's Equus.

McGowen devised and directed his own solo performance of the complete text of the St. Mark's Gospel, for which he received international acclaim and another Tony nomination. It opened first at the Riverside Studios in January 1978 before beginning a long West End season at the Mermaid Theatre then at the Comedy Theatre. Taking the production to New York, he appeared at the Marymount Manhattan and Playhouse theatres.

McCowen gave a portrayal of the British poet Rudyard Kipling in a one-man play by Brian Clark. McCowen appeared in the play on Broadway and on British television.

In 1986 he was appointed a CBE.

His partner, the actor Geoffrey Burridge, died in 1987 from AIDS complications. He is survived by his sister Jean, two nephews and two nieces.

Next Column: February 19, 2017
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Laura Deni

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