Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: February 14, 2016
By: Laura Deni


Melissa Errico
The dying art of cabaret has a chance for revival thanks to Broadway Records intending to release DVDs of 54 Below performances. It's a modern take on how to combine almost the lost world of cabaret with a popular format.

The Exclusive Opening Night DVD of Tony Award-nominated singer and actress Melissa Errico's performance from 54 Below in New York City What About Today? released by Broadway Records in what they call the very first DVD in their Live at 54 Below series is joyous news for cabaret performers - and patrons.

Utilizing DVD is the shot in the arm which cabaret has sorely needed. The difference between radio and television.

Cabaret used to be a mainstream form of entertainment. Intimate venues which were patronized by well dressed swells sipping champagne went out of vogue years ago as cable television and rock concerts demanded their share of attention. Cabaret fell into the category of something your parents or grandparents did for a night out.

Venues shut. Singers could no longer make a living performing cabaret shows.

Watching a DVD also helps the viewer feel closer to a performer who is relating an anecdote which isn't personally relatable to the listener. It's like hearing a friend or neighbor tell you what happened to them, which then becomes intresting to you. A CD doesn't convey that transfer of emotion as well as a DVD.

What you gain by watching the DVD is a feeling of being there. For many, seeing a cabaret DVD is the closest they'll ever get to a cabaret room. For others, it will inspire a nightclub visit. For venue operators and performs having a DVD of the show significantly broadens the fan base.

What About Today? - Live at 54 Below captures the opening night performance of Errico's most recent gig at the nightclub, which is owned by people who know and love the business - not merely in it as an investment.

Broadway To Vegas reviewed the CD. See CD Review Melissa's voice is gorgeously golden. She excels on numbers ranging from swinging to thoughtful. This review is about the DVD concept.

If you can't be there, a DVD is the next best thing. If you caught the show, a DVD is a perfect way to bring back happy memories. Getting Married Today is musically a dual personality ditty. Melissa uses a bridal veil as a prop - putting it on her head during the rapid speed bars and removing it during the operatic segments. Simple, effective and a cute gimmick which is lost on a CD.

The conversational parts are so much more entertaining when you can see Melissa's expressions and mannerisms.

The accompanying informational flyer containing a song listing, credits and a message from Melissa who downplays the quality - "the audio is "live" "raw" and "in the moment."

Directed by Richard Jay-Alexander the event was filmed and edited by Gary Gardner. The two camera capture sets a rather high bar for future cabaret DVDs. The audio is excellent.

The room is dimly lit, which adds to the atmosphere. Occasionally, a person here and there in the crowd momentarily blocks the camera, which only adds to the feeling of intimacy.

If there is any production quarrel it is with the solo piano segment in which the camera stayed on Melissa. Heard is Tedd Firth deftly plays those 88 keys. Put the camera on the piano player! Musicians - Firth, David Finck on bass, and Mark McLean on drums - could be seen from time to time. They clean up well and were nicely dressed. When any musician has a solo, they should get the camera shot. When a musician is executing a solo, many nightclub performers even turn their back on the audience and look at the musician, so as not to distract. Audiences look at the musician performing. A DVD should also capture that musical experience.

In black shorts and a white peasant/pirate blouse, the mother of three daughters has great legs. The disco shorts also permit Melissa to execute quick squats to play to the ringside patrons.

This excellent DVD of Melissa Errico at 54 Below could - and should - be the beginning of a major marketing concept that goes a long way to revitalize the cabaret industry.

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Jimi Hendrix
opened in London on February 10, 2016. Located at 23 Brock Street, in 1968 the rock guitarist and his girlfriend moved in to the small Georgian townhouse.

The correct name of the museum is the Handel and Hendrix Museum, part of the Handel House trust.

The Hexdrix abode is next door to where Handel called home. Both are the only homes of Hendrix and Handel that still exist.

The Handel House Museum at 25 Brook Street, opened in 2001. At that time the neighboring house was acquired and eventually the wall separating the two homes was knocked down.

Hendrix, who was thrilled to discover out that Handel had once lived next door, insisted he had once seen the composer’s ghost step through the wall, “an old guy in a night shirt and grey pigtail”.

A temporary Hendrix exhibition five years ago was such a success the museum directors were inspired to create the permanent museum which came to fruition thanks to a Heritage Lottery grant, National Lottery money and private donations.

Main adviser for the display was Hendrix’s then girlfriend, London's first female DJ Kathy Etchingham who lived with Hendrix in the house from 1968-69. She stressed that Hendrix was a neat freak. You might question the hippy, funky style, but the rocker was meticulous, insisting that in bed sheets have . hospital corners and the pillows and cushions squared up. That was credited with living skills he acquired while serving in the U.S. Army.

Guitarist Tom Attah posted about his involvement in the project:

"I met deputy director Martin Wyatt and musicologist Christian Lloyd in what was Jimi and Kathy’s bedroom, and as we talked about how the space was laid out during the sixties and its many iconic musical guests, I played through ideas on my acoustic guitar. What sort of blues would Jimi play at home? How might he have approached pulling together chords and ideas for songs? What were the sounds at the time which influenced Jimi’s music? From the blues to psychedelia to British soap opera theme tunes, we explored avenues and possibilities. Martin confided later that I was one of the few – if not, the only – person to have played guitar in the flat since 1969. All I can tell you is that I was glad he shared this with me after our warm and productive conversation. Working with my musical partner Ari Rannus, we made plans to create music that evoked a creative guitarist at home during a pivotal time in popular culture. We hope that our music adds to the ambience of this wonderful exhibition and allows the many future visitors to 23 Brook Street to step into Jimi’s private world for a few moments."

Although the flat contained a kitchen, it was rarely used, with food obtained through room service by Mr Love’s, the restaurant downstairs. On a regular basis waiters managed to carry orders of steak and chips, a bottle of Mateus rosé, and 20 cigarettes up the narrow stairs. Nights were late and noisy, with the flat regularly filled with whatever musicians were in the neighborhood. Hendrix entertained and played records so loudly his two giant speakers kept breaking.

By the following afternoon order would be restored. His girlfriend taught him to enjoying drinking tea with milk and two sugars and watching Coronation Street on television.

“It was very tidy, very homely, not a mess at all - unlike my place,” the photographer Barrie Wentzell said. The beautiful black and white photographs he took for Melody Maker in January 1969 have also been used to help recreate the room.

The bedroom has been carefully restored. Persian rugs on the floor, Hendrix’s favorite Victorian shawl hangs above the bed, a tea set, two telephones, a television on the floor, the board game Monopoly on top of one of two massive speakers, an acoustic guitar lies on the bed, a Bob Dylan LP on the turntable; feather plumes on the mantelpiece, and a bottle of cheap-and-cheerful Mateus Rose wine nearby.

The mirror and coffee table are original.

On the bedside table are a handwritten page and a portable tape recorder. After all his was the location where Hendrix penned some of his best-loved songs

Another room at the museum has a wall of album covers, and an index of the music played on the Bang & Olufsen turntable. Remnants from Hendrix’s own collection are coming to the museum on loan this autumn, including a copy of Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited stained with Hendrix’s blood from cutting his hand on a broken wine glass.

The albums include records by Acker Bilk, the Beatles, the Band, Ravi Shankar and Bob Dylan - whose track Like a Rolling Stone Hendrix said “made me feel that I wasn’t the only one who’d ever felt so low”.

Born in Seattle, Hendrix died on September 18, 1970 aged 27 following a sleeping tablets overdose.


DAVID OGDEN STIERS who became a household name starring as Dr. Charles Winchester III on M*A*S*H serves as Resident Conductor of the Newport Symphony in Newport, Oregon. In that capacity he'll set the stage for coastal kids to take the baton with The Battle of Batons II.

Funds will be applied to the NSO Endowment. February 20, 2016 at The Newport Symphony.


A CONCERT VERSION OF THE SECRET GARDEN will take place February 21-22 at David Geffen Hall in New York City. It is presented by Manhattan Concert Productions.

Tony Award winner Daisy Eagan, who won the 1991 trophy for her performance as Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, will returns to the production only this time in the role of determined housemaid Martha.

Tony nominee Sydney Lucas has been cast as Mary Lennox. Jere Shea asumes the role of gardener Ben.

Stafford Arima will direct the concerts, which will include a chorus of over 200 singers and the New York City Chamber Orchestra. Michael Kosarin will conduct.

Manhattan Concert Productions is an educational performance company dedicated to excellence in music making, hospitality and travel details. Its focus is placed on the selection and preparation of visiting musicians, guest conductors, professional bands and orchestras and soloists.

BRITs WEEK 2016 TOGETHER WITH O2 Get ready for an exciting week of music events in London to celebrate the prestigious BRIT Awards 2016.

BRITs Week 2016 together with O2 takes place February 16-23, 2016 presenting a selection of gigs taking place across the capital, including performances from British rock outfit Bring Me The Horizon and British electronic-pop innovators Public Service Broadcasting.

A portion of all tickets sold will go to the War Child charity.

The event also sees a pop-up stage at Topman’s flagship store on Oxford Street, February 18-20, which moves to the Museum of London on February 21. The pop-up stage will host emerging talent from the BRIT School and the Mayor of London’s Gigs program.

Some of the events are: Jack Garratt, Universal Music show at Heaven, Feb 16 - Bring Me The Horizon, Sony Music Show at Electric Brixton, Feb 18 - Public Service Broadcasting, independent label show at Brooklyn Bowl, Feb 19.

Coldplay will perform at Indigo at The O2 as part of this year’s Passport to BRITs Week together with O2. Taking place on February 24, this is Coldplay’s smallest and most intimate gig for years, and will raise money for War Child.

The BRIT Awards take place on February 24 at The O2 in London.

TONY NOMINEE ROBERT FAIRCHILD Robert Fairchild, dances out of An American in Paris at the Palace Theater on Broadway on March 13, 2016, returning to the New York City Ballet, located at Lincoln Center, where he is a principal dancer.

Garen Scribner, who performs in the role of Jerry Mulligan on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons, will take over full-time beginning March 15. Dimitri Kleioris of the Royal New Zealand Ballet will star on Scibner's days off.

Original principal cast members Leanne Cope, Veanne Cox, Jill Paice, Brandon Uranowitz and Max von Essen, will remain with the production.

Scribner will also star as Jerry Mulligan in the U.S. national tour of An American in Paris which begins this fall.

THE 400th ANNIVERSARY OF SHAKESPEARE'S DEATH will be commemorated by Kean University’s Department of Theatre with an innovative production of Julius Caesar.

Inspired by historical events, Julius Caesar charts the conspiracy to murder Caesar, the iconic Roman general and statesman, and the power struggle that inevitably followed his death.

Directed by associate professor of theatre Ernest W. Wiggins, Julius Caesar will run February 19 - 27 in Kean’s Wilkins Theatre, located on the University’s main campus in Union, NJ.

“This show is about political ambition, corruption and betrayal,” stated Mr. Wiggins. “At its heart, Julius Caesar is also about power, how it’s won and how it’s lost. Think of a situation where suspicion rules, regime change is always a possibility, and ambition is the motive for action. Ultimately Julius Caesar asks us to consider envy, jealousy and murder.

“I've cast the character of Brutus [Caesar’s primary assassin] as a female because historically women are not listened to,” Wiggins continued.

TONY AWARD WINNING PRODUCER AND AUTHOR STEWART LANE will be hosted by the Tony Award winning The Drama Book Shop for a discussion and signing of his new book Black Broadway. Monday, February 22, 2016.

FEBRUARY 14 is National Creme-Filled Chocolates Day while February 18 is Drink Wine Day.


MY FAIR LADY DIRECTED BY JULIE ANDREWS is a hit before it even opens at Australia's Sydney Opera house in August. Additional tickets have been made available to the public by the venue.

The 50th anniversary mounting of the Lerner and Loewe classic will play at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House, beginning August 30, 2016.

THE RECORDING ACADEMY'S PRESIDENT'S MERIT AWARD was presented on February 11, 2016 to Sun Nan, this year’s winner of China Star, a pop music TV show authorized by The Recording Academy in China.

The honor also marked the successful partnership between The Recording Academy and China Recording Association of building an effective channel for Sino-US cultural exchange.

China Star was produced by Starry Production, in partnership with Dragon TV, China Recording Association and The Recording Academy. It provided an outlet for Chinese musicians to receive international attention and introduce them to the world by building a platform for international music and cultural exchange. An international judging panel was formed with judges from China Recording Association and The Recording Academy, including Peter Asher, Harvey Mason Jr., Mindi Abair and Beth Cohen.

After 12 rounds of competitions, Sun Nan won the championship, garnering the President’s Merit Award presented by Neil Portnow, the President and CEO of The Recording Academy.

Sun Nan, a well-known singer of China, released his first album, the moon, in 1990. He sang the end-title song for the 1999 film Be There or Be Square directed by Feng Xiaogang. Awards received by Sun Nan include the CMA best male singer and CCTV-MTV best male singer. He's performed eight times on China's most important entertainment event , the Spring Festival Gala. In his over 20 years career, Sun Nan devotes himself to public welfare undertaking, helping the poor and young.


JUBILEE the last of the elaborate Las Vegas showgirl revues strutted their long legs for the last time at Bally's Hotel on February 11, 2016 after a run of 34 years. An end of an era.


Ken Watanabe
postponed his return to the role of the King of Siam in Lincoln Center Theater's Tony-winning Broadway revival of The King and I for two weeks, after undergoing laparoscopic surgery for stomach cancer, which was diagnosed at an early stage.

He was scheduled to return to the production for shows March 1-April 17. Now he will make his return on March 17. Hoon Lee, who is currently playing the King of Siam, will play his final performance March 16.

Jose Llana, who succeeded Watanabe in the role last fall, is slated to step into the star slot April 19-May 1.

Daniel Dae Kim will make his Broadway debut in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic for a further eight weeks, May 3-June 26.

BARRY MANILOW while on tour in Tennessee suffered complications from undergoing two emergency oral surgeries.

He was flown to a Los Angeles hospital and told not to sing, talk or rap for 48 hours, meaning he'll miss singing at Clive Davis' Grammy party.

Beginning Wednesday Manilow has a full week of performances planned including stops in Houston and Dallas, Texas and Wichita, Kansas.

musical comedy with a book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Jerry Bock.

Directed by Scott Ellis.

Choreographed by Warren Carlyle with musical direction by Paul Gemignani.

Starring Tony Award winner Laura Benanti (Amalia) and Zachary Levi (Georg), along with René Auberjonois (Maraczek), Gavin Creel (Kodaly), Michael McGrath (Sipos), Jane Krakowski (Ilona), Nicholas Barasch (Arpad) and Peter Bartlett (Head Waiter). The ensemble includes Cameron Adams, Alison Cimmet, Justin Bowen, Preston Truman Boyd, Benjamin Eakeley, Sara Edwards, Michael Fatica, Gina Ferrall, Jenifer Foote, Andrew Kober, Laura Shoop and Jim Walton.

She Loves Me, which I fell in love with when I saw the Roundabout's mounting in 1993 at the Criterion Center Stage Right is a "heartwarming musical comedy classic about finding love the good old-fashioned way. It follows Georg (Levi) and Amalia (Benanti), two parfumerie clerks who aren’t quite the best of friends. Constantly bumping heads while on the job, the sparring coworkers can’t seem to find common ground. But little do they know, the anonymous romantic pen pals they have both been falling for happen to be each other! Will love continue to blossom once their identities are finally revealed?"

The celebrated score features Vanilla Ice Cream, A Romantic Atmosphere, Dear Friend and She Loves Me. The musical is based on a play by Miklos Laszlo, whose well-known romantic story was the basis for the 1940 James Stewart film The Shop Around the Corner and the 1998 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film You’ve Got Mail.

The creative team includes David Rockwell (sets), Jeff Mahshie (costumes), Don Holder (lights), Jon Weston (sound), Larry Hochman (orchestrations) and David Krane (dance arrangements and incidental music).

The Roundabout Theatre Company's Studio 54 revival begins preview performances on February 19, 2016, with the official opening March 17 with performances to June 5, 2016.

Trezana Beverley
the World Premiere of the dramatic story with music about the life of the famous cabaret chanteuse, Mabel Mercer, written and performed by Tony Award Winner Trezana Beverley.

Co-directed by Frances Hill and Peter Napolitano with musical direction by Tuffus Zimbabwe.

Mabel Madness will feature classic songs from Ms. Mercer’s repertoire as well as original songs written by the award-winning team of Barry Levitt (composer) and Mr. Napolitano (lyrics).

The creative team includes Christina Watanabe (Lighting Designer), Nicholas Blade Guldner (Projection Designer), Gail Cooper-Hecht (Costume Designer), Antoinette Mullins (Dramaturg) and Jill Woodward (Production Stage Manager).

Mabel Madness begins its Off-Broadway run at Urban Stages Theatre beginning February 19, opening on Thursday, February 25 and running through March 20, 2016.

HUGHIE by Eugene O’Neill.

Directed by Tony Award winner Michael Grandage.

Summer, 1928. New York City. Beyond the bright lights of the Great White Way, a small-time gambler and big-time drinker returns to the faded hotel he has made his home. He encounters a new night clerk at the front desk and as the early hours of the morning give way to another dawn, he continues to chase the American Dream in order to survive.

Starring Oscar winner Forest Whitaker in his Broadway debut as Erie Smith, and Tony winner Frank Wood at the Night Clerk.

The creative team includes Tony Award winner Christopher Oram (Sets & Costumes), Tony Award winner Neil Austin (Lights) and Tony Award winner Adam Cork (Composer & Sound).

The revival is in previewed at the Booth Theatre in New York City with the opening on February 25, 2016 and a limited engagement through to June 12, 2016.


JENNIFER NETTLES stars at the Lea County Events Center in Hobbs, NM on Wednesday, February 17. On Friday she performs at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, AZ. On Saturday she can be found at the Yavapai College PAC in Prescott, AZ.

WELLINGTON INTERNATIONAL UKULELE ORCHESTRA Sharing DNA with Flight of the Conchords and hailing from the home of The Hobbit movies, New Zealand’s Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra are in hot demand for their winning combination of charming Kiwi humor, disarmingly small instruments and sublime musicality. The band’s number one rule is: “If you know the words, sing along. If you don’t know the words, sing along!” Sunday, February 21, at the Temple Theater in Des Moines, Iowa.

JOSH RITTER singer/songwriter, backed by The Royal City Band, performs February 20, 2015 at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.

THE TENORS have a Valentine's show at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, OR. On Saturday they can be enjoyed at The Smith Center in Las Vegas.

JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA with Wynton Marsalis and special guest Wayne Shorter perform to a sold out audience on February 18, 2016. Friday's show is hosted by Vincent Gardner with Wynton Marsalis plus special guests in their Next Generation of Jazz show. Saturday's offering is Our Love is Here to Stay The George Gershwin Songbook. Performances are at the Barbican in London as part of their Barbican International Residency.

BILL MAYS TRIO the master pianist has honed his craft for the last five decades, accompanying legends like Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Dionne Warwick, and the Percy Faith Orchestra. Mays will be joined on stage by Adam Nussbaum, one of the top jazz drummers in the world, and dynamic bassist Paul Shewchuk. Friday, February 19, at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach, FL.

Next Column: February 21, 2016
Copyright: February 14, 2016 All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary, Photographs or Graphics from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, utilized as leads, or used in any manner without permission, compensation and/or credit.
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Laura Deni

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