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Copyright: February 19, 2017
By: Laura Deni
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CONCEPT ALBUMS ARE TRICKY BUT SERVE A PURPOSE: A SONG OF SOLOMON REVIEWED
A concept album is - precisely that - an idea. The songs - or for that matter the story line - can undergo extensive revisions before it ever reaches a stage.
Concept albums are tricky releases. If a mega hit musical releases their concept album after the fact,
it can become a treasured addition to a person's enjoyment of the successful show. It shows the history
of the production.
To release - to the general public - a concept album of a show which is still in the concept stage can be
a dangerous crossing on a perilous bridge. If that concept album has to do with a Biblical story - it's a double
edged sword which can easily impale the production.
The release of a concept album only to potential investors can be an important monetary tool.
Song of Solomon with music by well known percussionist Andrew Beall and lyrics by Neil Van Leeuwen with
the book co-written by both, is an original concept album, based upon a Biblical figure, has been released by Broadway
Records to the general public.
Beall has performed on Broadway in The Lion King, Les Miserables, Spiderman, In The Heights,
and A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder.
Neil Van Leeuwen is a philosopher, lyricist, and musician. He received his PhD in philosophy in 2007 from Stanford University, where he also studied creative writing. His bio states that his "lyrical and story writing is heavily influenced by his training in classical languages and literature at University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Oxford University (M.St., Christ Church). At Oxford, he wrote his thesis on Aristotle’s Poetics. Van Leeuwen’s musical background is primarily in percussion and piano."
This CD features a stellar, full orchestra and exquisite singers. Both Tony nominated Ramin Karimloo as Solomon and Alison Luff as Almah have exceptional voices. There is excellent capturing of spoken word segments which are distinct.
In addition to Karimloo and Luff, the studio recording includes the talents of Casey Manning as Benjamin, Alexander Gemignani as Ruben, Hayden Tee as Nathan, Jessica Foster as Leah, Alessandra Baldacchino as Maya, and Desi Oakley as Dina.
The ensemble includes: Richie Abanes, Adam Bashian, Nicole Renee Chapman, Erin Clemons, Jason Forbach,
Jessica Foster, Siri Howard, Evan McCormick, Melissa Mitchell. Adam Monley, Desi Oakley, and Preston Yates,
Additional background vocals by: Kyle Cater, Chantal Chapoteau, Artie Dibble, Victoria Medina, Tony Paterniti,
Joshua Samuels, and Matthias Winter.
Productions based upon scripture are regularly mounted. Christmas pageants are always successful annual
events because the story line is easy to understand and the productions always sticks to the script.
Most people don't have the time to actually study the Bible, making it easy to confuse patrons
when scripture becomes part of the performance.
Ramin Karimloo will return to Broadway in stage musical adaptation of the movie Anastasia
as General Gleb Vagonov. The show will begin previews March 23, 2017 and opens on April 24, 2017
Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre.
Nowhere in the CD booklet does it state that the story line is fiction.
If you're going to attempt to rewrite the Bible expect blow-back.
The Song of Solomon CD contains a script based upon historically accepted fact and a boat load of fiction.
An interpretation of the Bible's book Song of Solomon takes the word 'almah',
which has long been debated as to whether it means 'virgin' or 'young girl' and turns that into a real character which
the musical The Song of Solomon would lead listeners to believe was Solomon's great love who inspired him to write the Biblical book The Song of Solomon.
Misleading and/or inaccurate.
If you're going to merge fact and fiction - make that clear up front.
The scripture book Song of Solomon, is accepted by in many religions. It's the last section of the Tanakh or Hebrew
Bible. It is also the fifth book of Wisdom in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The Song
of Solomon also known as The Song of Songs is read on the Sabbath during the Passover, marking the beginning of the
grain harvest and commemorating the Exodus from Egypt.
There are 8 Chapters in the Song of Solomon book of the King James Version of the Bible.
Not once is the name Almah or the word 'almah' mentioned in any form.
Scripturally, the Song of Songs is unique in its celebration of sexual love. It gives "the voices of two lovers,
praising each other, yearning for each other, proffering invitations to enjoy".
The two each desire the other and rejoice in their sexual intimacy, according to works published
by Richard Alfred Norris (2003 Eerdmans) Song of Songs: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators and Tanak: A Theological and Critical Introduction to the Jewish Bible (2011) by Fortess Press.
Jewish tradition reads it as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel. Christian tradition,
in addition to appreciating the literal meaning of a romantic song between man and woman, has read the
poem as an allegory of Christ and his "bride", the Christian Church.
Alison Luff stars as the fictional character Almah in Song of Solomon. She starred in the lst
National Tour of Wicked. In 2015 she transformed from a gravity-defying Wicked witch Elphaba
to the kindest, most-loving school teacher Miss Honey in Matilda. From
February 4, 2016 - September 4, 2016 she played Fantine in Les Miserables on Broadway.
Historical records indicate no such woman with the specific name Almah existed. Solomon's love life was one of scandal.
The only wife mentioned by name is Naamah the Ammonite, mother of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam.
This Beall and Van Leeuwen musical, which fails to disclose the merging of fact and fiction, is - musically - what
a violence heavy plot.
In the CD, Almah is the sister of Leah which the musical names as one of the prostitutes who fought over the baby.
According to this musical, Leah was determined to be the real mother. In Biblical scripture recounting the
Judgment of Solomon event, as it is frequently called, neither woman is named. Both are referred to as "women" with
footnotes indicating that "women" in Hebrew meant prostitute.
"Like many other women in the Hebrew Bible, the two women in this story (Judgment of Solomon)
are anonymous. Perhaps their names have not been mentioned so that they would not overshadow Solomon's wisdom,
which is the main theme of the story. The women seem to be poor. They live alone in a shared residence, without servants. As prostitutes, they lack male patronage and have to take care of themselves in a patriarchal society," according to
Athalya Brenner, The Israelite Woman: Social Role and Literary Type in Biblical Narrative
(The Biblical Seminar 2), Sheffield, UK: JSOT Press, 1985, p. 81-82.
While Leah is a legitimate Biblical name, Leah was never a prostitute and wasn't involved in the baby feud solved
In the Old Testament Leah was the elder, plain daughter of Laban who, by deception, married her to Jacob,
to whom she bore six sons and a daughter. Rachel was her beautiful sister and the woman Jacob loved
for her beauty and intended to marry. When he got to the alter he discovered that the girl's father had substituted Leah.
Leah turned out to be a loving devoted wife and mother, while Rachel was self possessed. The moral is that beauty is only skin deep and that one should not judge another merely by their appearance.
Biblical stories are noted for their moral lessons.
There have been successful biblical based musicals.
Jesus Christ, Superstar should be in everyone's memory bank. Prior to that,
the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was crafted. It's the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors tale from the Bible's Book of Genesis. It started out as a production for a church group and expanded into a gigantic musical hit.
Its family-friendly story line, universal themes and catchy music have resulted in numerous productions of
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; according to the Really Useful Group, by 2008 more
than 20,000 schools and amateur theatre groups had successfully put on productions. By 2017 consider
that number substantially increased.
Various stories from the Old Testament have become the basis for films, television shows and live
productions - such as Noah' Ark, The 10 Commandants, Jonah and the Whale, Samson and Delilah, and
David and Goliath.
All successful stage productions based on material from the Old Testament have a few things
in common; they start out with a singular, simple, family friendly story premise - they all contain
an applicable moral lesson and they don't take artistic liberties with Biblical teachings.
Too many watch dogs will call you out if you do.
In 1992 I saw Al Pacino as King Herod, Sheryl Lee as Salome and Suzanne Bertish as Herod's
wife Herodias, and Salome's mother in the Broadway play Salome. Oscar Wilde's take
on the seven veils story at Circle In The Square. While Wilde put his own spin on the subject matter, he
distort the Biblical version
in which King Herod lusts for his stepdaughter, Salome, who asks him to bring her the head of John the Baptist
in exchange for her favors.
Those are some of the problems with the concept musical Song of Solomon.
In 2011 Pacino made Wilde Salomé an American documentary-drama film written,
directed by and starring Al Pacino. An exploration of Oscar Wilde's play Salomé, the film premiered
at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. At the festival, Pacino was presented with the Glory to the Filmmaker
Award and the film won the Queer Lion award.
The official CD description of the Song of Solomon story line: "an epic love story. In ancient Israel,
David's bloody wars are coming to an end, and the road is treacherous and uncertain for Israel's future. ... Song of Solomon is the King's quest to find Almah while he struggles for peace, redemption, and humanity."
I'm not sure in whose religious scripture that "peace, redemption and humanity" sentence can be found.
The creators of this CD may be well meaning and sincere. However, when anyone attempts to create an artistic piece based
upon religious dogma, scripture or teachings, you've got to be careful. Such an effort might even be held to a higher
standard. There are those who might feel that either deliberately misleading, or lying by omission, isn't - kosher.
Solomon, was, according to the Bible, a fabulously wealthy and wise King of Israel and a son of David,
the previous king of Israel. Solomon wasn't a one dimension guy. Everyone knows about the "wisdom of Solomon," the
event when two women claimed to be the mother of the same baby, and Solomon's "wisdom" tricked the ladies by asking for
a sword and saying he'd cut the baby in two and give each woman half. One woman though that would be fine with her,
while the other woman was emphatically said not to kill the baby but to go ahead and give the baby to the other
woman. Solomon determined that the woman who would give up the child, rather than see it killed, was the real mother. The story has come down through the ages as an archetypal example of argument to moderation and that of an impartial judge displaying wisdom in making a ruling.
Another aspect of Solomon is that he had several wives.
The Old Testament states that a man could take a second wife while still married to his first wife,
provided his first wife was ill. The condition was that he had to take care of his first wife and treat
her with respect. That gave rise in the modern age of polygamy which became mistress.
King Solomon had his own version of philandering. Some accounts of Solomon's conquests would put
today's sports stars to shame.
According to Bible Gateway:
Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. The wives were described as foreign princesses,
including Pharaoh's daughter and women of Moab, Ammon, Sidon and of the Hittites. The only wife mentioned by name
is Naamah the Ammonite, mother of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam. The Biblical narrative notes with disapproval that
Solomon permitted his foreign wives to lead him astray.
He might even have had a sexual encounter with the Queen of Sheba. According to (I Kings: 10-10)
The fame of Solomon's wisdom and wealth spread far and wide, so much so that the queen of Sheba decided
that she should meet him. The queen is described as visiting with a number of gifts including gold,
spices and precious stones. When Solomon gave her "all her desire, whatsoever she asked," she left satisfied.
According to religious scholars, whether the passage is simply to provide a brief token, foreign witness of Solomon's
wealth and wisdom, or whether there is meant to be something more significant to the queen's visit is unknown;
nevertheless the visit of the Queen of Sheba has become the subject of numerous stories.
All of that womanizing is amazing.
Another and dominate side to Solomon was that he had an iron hand and was an absolute ruler.
According to My Jewish Learning:
"After David’s death (c. 967 B.C.E) Solomon began to strike out at his opponents. Some were executed (Adonijah, Joab); others were banished from Jerusalem (Abiathar). The key positions in the kingdom were handed to his loyal servants–Benaiah was made commander of the army, and Zadok was installed as high priest to the Lord (and destined to become the forefather of an illustrious line of high priests).
"Solomon’s iron hand soon convinced potential rebels that there was no hope of undermining his absolute rule over all the tribes. Indeed, the internal stability attained by Solomon ensured his dynasty four centuries of rule in Jerusalem."
Eventually Solomon was punished for his sexual appetite, love of great wealth and being power mad.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Israelite monarchy gained its highest splendor and wealth during Solomon's reign
of 40 years. In a single year, according to 1 Kings 10:14, Solomon collected tribute amounting to 666 talents
(39,960 pounds) of gold. Solomon is described as surrounding himself with all the luxuries and the grandeur of an
Eastern monarch and his government prospered. He entered into an alliance with Hiram I, king of Tyre, who in many ways greatly assisted him in his numerous undertakings.
King Solomon sinned by acquiring many foreign wives and horses because, although he was aware of the Biblical
prohibition, he thought did not apply to him. When King Solomon married the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh, a sandbank formed which eventually formed the "great nation of Rome" - the nation that destroyed the Second Temple (Herod's Temple). Solomon gradually lost more and more prestige until he became like a commoner. Some say he regained his status while others say he did not. In the end however, he is regarded as a righteous king and is especially praised for his diligence in building the Temple, according to "tractate Sanhendrin", Talmud Bavli, p. 21b.
According to 1 Kings 11:30–34, it was because of Solomon's sins that "the Lord punishes Solomon by removing 10 of the 12 Tribes of Israel from the Israelites.
The King James Version of the Bible has a book Song of Solomon which follows Ecclesiastes and comes
before Isiah. It's a short Book of the Bible with only eight brief chapters.
It is an unusual collection of poetry interspersed with verse, whose interpretation is either literal (i.e., a romantic and sexual relationship between a man and a woman) or metaphorical (a relationship between God and his people).
Some sections are romantic. Some are bigoted.
"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine."
"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away."
Those sound pretty good. Now, how about . . .
"Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept."
What to bring that to the stage? You might want to think twice.
The story line on this CD Song of Solomon is skewed. Also, it - obviously - has nothing to do with the 1977
novel of the same name by Toni Morrison.
Handel composed an oratorio entitled Solomon in 1748. That composition follows the basic Biblical plot. This musical does not.
As for the music, which is the basis of the CD, it's intense. Too intense.
Not enough musical variation. Most of the arrangements sound too similar.
The marvelous inclusion of instruments such as the marimba, bamboo flute, shofar,
and Middle Eastern hand percussion, not normally heard in theatrical orchestras, are diminished by the predominately
intense take on the numbers.
To listen to this CD gives the impression that the majority of the music sheets have the directive
of fortississimo. Or, is this score really a competition to see if it can surpass Shostakovich
using 5fs in his fourth symphony or the 5fs in Gustav Mahler's third movement of his Seventh Symphony.
It all starts to sound the same.
By listening to the music, it appears that the story line, in addition to being a cloistered amalgamation of
Biblical fact and sonnet fiction, attempts to cover too much. Judging from the music there seems to be a lot
of skimming the surface without giving depth to principle characters, secondary roles or the actual occurrences
as related (truthfully) in the Bible.
The CD begins with a dramatic, ominous overture. "Get in line! The King is coming!" The orders are barked. The music shakes the rafters. Bad things are happening in Israel. We're in Solomon's court where Solomon is judging that previously mentioned baby case in which "two harlots claim one child."
Anger, dramatic, serious, over-the-top angst. Nobody wants to listen to that style of music for lengthy periods of time.
The music does take on a softer tone, for a few bars, when Solomon begins to issue his decision and then almost immediately returns to hysterical overload.
Track Two - Rose of Sharon finds Almah working in a vineyard, romantically dreaming about Solomon.
The song begins softly and then - after those proverbial few bars - gets loud and intense, almost but not
quite hindering the appreciation that some interesting instruments - marimba for one - are
used in the orchestration.
Track 3 - Falling With You has Ramin Karimloo as Solomon and Alison Luff as Almah secretly meeting at night.
It's a tender song, but not really a total love song - ruling Israel is always at the front of Solomon's mind.
The song quickly leads into Solid Rock another dramatic, histrionic song in which he's
thinking about Israel "there will always be allies to win," and "I will lead your nation." He wants to build
"your house of rock."
Solomon was power mad with a take no prisoners approach.
However, historical evidence of King Solomon, other than the biblical accounts, has been so minimal that some scholars have understood the period of his reign as a 'Dark Age' (Muhly 1998).
It isn't until the 6th track, Light of the Moon, that the tender sides of the characters Karimloo and Luff portray are
permitted to shine. Even a harp can be heard. Then the revved up intensity returns. This is not a soft
perfumed candle romance. You almost expect them to bring out the whips. Solomon even claims "I will marry no other than
you" which should come as a shock to his other wives and mistresses. This is literary license taken too far. This production is not billed as a "re-imagining" of anything,
Track 7 - Bring in the Stones is overly theatrical and manic anger, in which the good town folk are whipped
into frenzy after false claims are made that Almah is both a prostitute and adulterous. The mob rule is
encouraged to attempt to stone her to death - which seem to be a regional pastime - then and now.
Track 8 - Dance of the Temple has a few bars of softness, followed a large section of intensity. Karimloo
as Sampson then
goes from dramatic to soft to express his love, then segues back into a long, riot implied segment.
Track 9 - Palace Encounters is violent anger. Too much of this recording delivers that negative emotion.
Track 10 - Alone has a marimba in the musical mix, and brings on a lovely and powerful solo by Luff as Almah. It's a pleasant relief from all of the previous monotonous intensity.
Track 11 - Final Confrontation leads into the finale which has a few tender lyrics, but proves to be an extension of determination and anger.
There is a lot of talent is on this CD. The predominately one dimensional aspect of the music is a detriment.
The story line between Solomon and Almah is fabricated - which some might view as a questionable literary license taken about Solomon, a well documented biblical figure.
The Bible book Song of Solomon 6:8, classifies Solomon's women into three categories: wives, concubines and virgins,
which has led
many historians to determine that the word "almah" means young woman.
As for Almah - again - Almah is not a
Biblical name for an actual, specific woman.
Yet, in this musical,
Almah is not only named as a real woman, but depicted as Solomon's one true love. In this production she is
poisoned to death.
Whether there is a market for this musical is best left in the hands of others. It doesn't appear to be family friendly. There is a predominance of violence. It's theatrically over dramatic. Again, I can't find a moral lesson which can be applied - which is extremely important in staging a religious based production - especially if young people are encouraged to attend.
It skewers the truth as has been established by religious scholars of various faiths.
Every once in awhile a few bars in several numbers such as the Finale remind the listener
of Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, only set as high octane, hyper drama.
Music director/Conductor is James Lowe.
Piano: Paul Masse.
Keyboard, Piano - Eugene Gwizda.
Harp - Kathryn Andrews
Nylon and Steel String Acoustic Guitars - Tom Monkell
Concertmasters - Artie Dibble
Violin - Roy Lewis
Viola - Orlando Wells
Cello - Diana Golden
Double Bass, Electric Bass - Steven Moran
Flute, Piccolo, Alto FLute, Bamboo Flute - Karen Bogardus
Oboe, English horn - Keve Wilson
Clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano Sax, oboe, English horn - Chris Reza
French horn - Aleks Ozolins and Ric Davis
Trumpet, Shofar, Flugelhorn - Chris Scanlon
Bass Trombone, Tuba - Jen Kinkle
Drums, Percussion - Joshua Samuels
Percussion - Mariana Ramirez
Middle-Eastern Hand Percussion - John Hadfield
Timpani - Jeremy Levine
Marimba - Andrew Beall
CD mixed by Matthias Winter. Edited by Michael Croiter and Matthias Winter. Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper.
CD photography by Victoria Medina. CD package design by Robbie Rozelle. Original artwork by Shelbie Mac.
Recorded and mixed at Yellow Sound Lab, NYC between June-September 2016. The accompanying booklet is well put
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ART AND ABOUT
POSTERS AS MUNITIONS, 1917
This Blue Cross Fund poster from Great Britain won the vote and will be on display in the
Posters as Munitions exhibit. is the
debut of a new exhibition showcasing World War I posters. Soon after the outset of World War I, the poster,
previously the successful medium of commercial advertising was recognized as a means of spreading national
propaganda with unlimited possibilities. Its value as an educational or stimulating influence was more
and more appreciated. The poster could impress an idea quickly, vividly and lastingly.
The Blue Cross Fund, originally called Our Dumb Friends,
was launched to care for horses. It still exsists today.
By the armistice in 1918, the Blue Cross Fund
had raised nearly £170,000 – the equivalent of almost £6.5 million today – to care for the animals used in WWI.
Over 50,000 horses were treated in Blue Cross hospitals in France, and the charity had sent vital veterinary supplies
to 3,500 units of the British Army.
Donations to the Fund enabled the charity to also care for more than 350,000 animals during
the Second World War, many of who were wounded during the Blitz.
The name of the appeal fund became
more widely known than the official charity title and the league officially changed its name to "The Blue Cross" in 1950.
In 2011 the charity dropped "The" from its name and is now simply known as "Blue Cross."
Opening Tuesday, February 21, Posters as Munitions, 1917 showcases the depth and breadth of the collection
through a series of works on exhibition for the first time at the World War I Museum in Kansas City.
Posters from France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the United States and more are featured, providing a sense of the global nature of this form of communication.
Historian Pearl James wrote “when World War I began in 1914, the poster was a mature advertising tool and artistic medium.” Lithography, paper rolled over a treated and inked stone, had evolved from the first uses in the late 18th century. By the mid-19th century, chromolithography was in use. Improvements in printing techniques allowed for large numbers of posters in World War I to be produced.
In almost every country involved in the war, the poster played its part as a munition of the war.
The posters of 1914-1918 illustrate every phase and difficulty and movement: from recruiting to munitions work to war loans to the Red Cross to women’s work.
British historian Martin Hardie succinctly stated in 1920 the poster’s place in World War I history:
“They had their story to tell and message to deliver. Their business was to waylay and hold the passersby
and to impose their meaning upon them.”
The Museum offered the unusual opportunity for the public throughout the world to vote to choose a poster to be featured alongside the upcoming exhibition. People could choose among five different posters and vote for their favorite.
Individuals from more than 40 countries across the world participated in the two-week long contest, which closed January 31, with 1,812 votes cast (people could only vote one time). Ultimately, with 70% of the vote, the Great Britain Blue Cross Fund for Wounded Horses poster was selected.
“We’re thrilled with the international turnout and overall participation,” said Dr. Matthew Naylor, President and CEO at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. “World War I was the first truly global war in that it featured participants from every inhabited continent. Similarly, this contest featured individuals interacting from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, which is absolutely terrific.”
The American U.S. Navy Recruiting Poster finished in second place, followed by the French One Last Effort
and We Will Get Them poster, the French Bastille Day Commemoration poster and the
French Exposition of Propaganda Materials About Germany poster.
In Great Britain, the first official recognition of the poster’s value was during the late 1914 recruiting campaign.
The Parliamentary Recruiting Committee gave commissions initially for more than 100 posters with 2.5 million copies
distributed throughout Great Britain.
British posters, while not generally flashy or well executed,
were always right to the point. They illustrated such campaigns as for the War Savings certificates, war bonds,
conservation, food economy, and the Lantern Lecture Series giving views of the war, sponsored by the War
French posters illustrate deep-felt emotion and the poignant appeal of the artists available to the poster
production industry. From the early posters for the Journee du Poilu (Soldier’s Day), French war posters
had the stamp of genuine understanding of the purpose in view. They exhibit hard-edged gaiety, nationalism and
imperialism, humor and sex appeal, tragedy and victory. Even the futuristic made its appearance with a poster
showing a machine riding high above the trenches that would “finish the war.”
The Central Powers found posters to be necessary as well. They urged “caution in conversation” and appealed to
their peoples for aid in men and money. Posters stimulated love of country and urged German women to sell
their hair for the good of the country and trade in their “gold for Iron.”
In the United States, posters began to make their appeals to the “American sense of right and wrong” quickly after the
country officially entered the war on April 6, 1917. The First Liberty Loan posters made their appearance in the
early summer of 1917.
The Second drive came in the fall. When it completed, a publication stated “while the campaign lagged a little at times,
the great tide of publicity carried it forward to a triumphant close.”
In all, over 7 million posters were displayed throughout the country for the Second Liberty Loan drive.
One observer noted: “posters literally deluged the country. On every city street, along the rural highways,
the posters were to be found repeating their insistent messages day and night.”
The winning British Blue Cross Fund poster will be featured in the Museum’s upcoming special exhibition
Posters as Munitions, 1917 which opens
Tuesday, February, 21, at The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City. The exhibit
will be on display through February 18, 2018.
DUCHESS KATE HAS A COLORING BOOK
it seems last year her husband Prince William let it slip that his wife enjoys adult coloring books,
a popular pastime among grown-ups.
Capitalizing on that - for charitable purposes - Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which runs several royal abodes,
including Kensington Palace where William, Kate and their children call home, has released a coloring book
Colour In Kate which boasts 31 pages of some of Kate’s most memorial events.
"A truly royal coloring book for girls of all ages to complete and create. Filled with beautiful, partially colored
illustrations of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in some of her most stylish outfits, girls can customize
Kate's wardrobe by adding color and pretty patterns of their own. From taking to the water on the royal barge
for the Queen's Jubilee or attending a glamorous charity dinner, to watching athletes compete at the Olympic Games
or taking Lupo the puppy for a walk in the park, there are outfits for every occasion."
There is even a coloring page which includes Prince William alongside his Duchess, pictured in Honiara,
A spokesperson for Historic Royal Palaces said: “We stock a wide variety of products for all ages in our palace shops
and online. Our range celebrates the history of the palaces in our care and the public lives of their royal residents.”
Having been there, the gift shop at Kensington Palace is the most modern and youthful of all the palace gift shops,
featuring the best selection of stylish souvenirs. Many of the jewelry pieces are based upon what
Prince William's mother, Princess Diana, wore. The coloring book ought to do quite well.
The coloring book, published by Buster Books, retails for £5.99 or about $7.48.
You can purchase a copy of Colour In Kate from the Historical Royal Palaces website.
SIR ELTON JOHN AND DAVID FURNISH host their annual Oscar viewing party
February 26, 2017 at West Hollywood Park in West Hollywood, CA.
This hot ticket event raises money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The menu will be created by chef
Gordon Ramsay. The e
live telecast of the 89th Academy Awards will be followed by a live auction conducted by Alexander Gilkes of Paddle8,
and exclusive musical performances by St. John and the Broken Bones, led by dynamic front man Paul Janeway.
This year’s event co-chairs are Mahershala Ali, Tim and Jane Allen, Alessandra Ambrosio, Beck, Carrie Brownstein,
Naomi Campbell, Jim Carrey, Ciara, Chris Colfer, John Demsey, Jennifer Kelly Dominiquini, Michael Douglas,
Ava DuVernay, Stéphane Gerschel, Fin Gray and Michael Melnick, Miranda Harper, Luke Hemsworth, Tommy Hilfiger,
Gaby Hoffmann, Stephanie Horbaczewski, Diana Jenkins, Caitlyn Jenner, Quincy Jones, Heidi Klum, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter,
Diana Krall and Elvis Costello, Ryan Kwanten, Padma Lakshmi, Amy Landecker, Fred Latsko, Shelley Lazar,
Sandra Lee, Jared Leto, Judith Light, Eugenio Lopez, Rob and Sheryl Lowe, Eric and Janet McCormack,
Joe McMillan, Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Daniel Paltridge, Katy Perry, Tyler Perry,
Andrew Rannells, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Zoë Saldana, Jane Seymour, Steve Sims, Kevin Spacey,
Britney Spears, Sharon Stone, Steven Tyler, and Denzel and Pauletta Washington.
Over the past quarter century, this annual event has raised more than $56 million.,
These funds help the Foundation to make a real difference in the lives of people at risk for or
living with HIV/AIDS, including urgently needed medical care in the Caribbean,
innovative treatment and prevention programs in the Southern United States,
and national initiatives addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, Canada, and Latin America.
BROADWAY BELTS FOR PFF!
a benefit for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, hosted by Broadway’s Julie Halston.
Directed by Carl Andress. Performances by Stephanie J. Block, Mandy Gonzalez, Mario Cantone,
Robert Creighton and Randy Graff.
Monday February 27, 2017 at the Edison Ball Room in New York City.
The event raises money to fight Pulmonary Fibrosis, an unforgiving, progressive disease involving scarring in the
With no cure, many live only two or three years after diagnosis. There is no known cure for PF.
This one-of-a-kind evening of Broadway stars performing some of their favorite songs began as a tribute to Michael
Kuchwara, the beloved Broadway theater critic of the Associated Press, who died suddenly of pulmonary fibrosis in 2010.
Coincidentally, Ms. Halston’s husband, the venerated newscaster Ralph Howard, was also diagnosed with pulmonary
fibrosis a short time later, eventually receiving a lung transplant. People of note who have died from PF include Robert Goulet, Marlon Brando, Evil Knievel, Peter Benchley, John Palmer, James Doohan and numerous First Responders at the World Trade Center on September 11.
To date, Broadway Belts For PFF! has raised nearly $500,000 for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, and is the
largest single fundraiser for the organization, based in Chicago.
Ms. Halston notes that while pulmonary fibrosis is a growing health concern throughout the world, and while the disease
is frequently misdiagnosed, two leading pharmaceutical companies are making considerable progress in developing drugs
that may not provide a cure for pulmonary fibrosis, but have shown success in slowing the growth of the disease.
PRINCE CHARLES attended The Prince's Trust Invest in Futures
reception on February 6 at London's elegant Savoy Hotel,
along with actors Joanna Lumley and Rob Brydon, who were hosting the event for his charity The Prince's Trust.
Among the stars attending were Dame Joan Collins, Colin Salmon, Felicity Kendal, Alexander Armstrong, Helen McCrory
and her husband Damian Lewis, Pixie Lott, her mother Beverley and sister Charlie-Ann.
Interior designer to the stars Kelly Hoppen, rapper Tinie Tempah, TV presenters Philip Schofield,
Tess Daly and husband Vernon Kay and singer Laura Mvula, who are all Prince's Trust ambassadors,
also turned up to show their support.
At the event, which raised £1.2million for the charity last year, it was revealed that one man who turned his life around with The Prince's Trust has donated £100,000 to the charity.
Now an award-winning entrepreneur Duane Jackson, 35, grew up in children's homes in London's East End and by his teens he was already involved in a life of crime.
At 19 he was arrested at an airport in Atlanta, Georgia for drug smuggling and served a two year prison sentence for it back in the UK. He said: "On release from prison there was a big black hole on my CV. I couldn't get a job.
"I wanted to start a business but I couldn't afford a computer, business cards or a desk and that's where The Prince's Trust helped."
After getting a loan from the charity he was able to set up his own web developer business KashFlow, which provides accounting software for small businesses.
He is now starting to mentor other young offenders like him.
He said: "Making this donation to The Prince's Trust means the world to me. "They were there for me when I was at my worst - I was a young offender who was unemployed, with no qualifications and, having grown up in the care system, no family to offer financial or moral support.
"The Trust saw past all of that and helped me to see that I could be a success. I am delighted to be able to support the amazing work they continue to do with young people up and down the country."
During his speech The Prince said: "Duane is a classic example of what the business start up program can do. The Prince's Trust has been going for 38 years now and it really is what I always hoped to create all those years ago."
SPREADING THE WORD
FAMED FASHION DESIGNER OSCAR DE LA RENTA was commemorated by the U.S.
Postal Service with the release of a series of stamps on February 16, 2017.
In honor of the occasion, the fashion house hosted a first-day-of-issue ceremony at New York’s Grand Central Terminal.
Speaking before the event, Alex Bolen, chief executive officer of the company and the husband of De la Renta’s
stepdaughter Eliza, explained how he was informed. He quipped. “I got a call from the U.S. Postal Service, and I
literally thought some package had gotten waylaid.”
Secretary Hillary Clinton, former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and Anna Wintour,
Artistic Director of Condé Nast and Editor in Chief of Vogue, were guest speakers.
Anderson Cooper served as emcee.
According to the USPS: "As one of the world’s leading fashion designers for 50 years, Oscar de la Renta (1932-2014)
created glamorous, sophisticated clothes that showcased the distinctively feminine attributes of the women who
wore them. His innovative designs and close attention to detail elevated American style and brought international
attention to New York as a world leader in fashion."
With Art Direction and Design by Derry Noyes the stamp art includes 11 images-an evocative black-and-white portrait
of de la Renta by Inez and Vinoodh and 10 details from some of his most exquisite gowns.
A FIRST DAY OF ISSUE stamp dedication ceremony for the John F. Kennedy commemorative stamp, with special guest Senator Edward Markey takes place Monday, February 20, 2017 at the JFK Museum and Library in Boston.
The Stamp Dedication ceremony will take place at the start of the 6th annual Presidents' Day Family Festival. The Festival includes
presidential storytelling, creative activities, musical performances, and Museum tours and hands-on programs.
THE OUTER CRITICS CIRCLE the organization of writers covering New York theatre for out-of-town newspapers, national publications and other media beyond Broadway, is pleased to announce two new award categories, Outstanding Sound Design and Outstanding Orchestrations will be added to its current roster of 25 honors.
"The Executive Committee met recently and voted to include these two additional categories moving forward to
recognize and celebrate high quality work in these fields which contribute to the success
of so many productions,” stated Outer Critics Circle president Simon Saltzman.
This year’s 27 award nominations, the first major Broadway/Off-Broadway Awards of the 2016-17 season will be announced on Tuesday, April 25th ( in the Oak Room at New York’s renown Algonquin Hotel, New York City.
The winners will be announced on Monday, May 8th. The annual Gala Awards Dinner and presentation of awards to the winners will be held on Thursday, May 25th at the legendary Sardi's Restaurant.
FEBRUARY 20 is
National Muffin Day. Tuesday is
National Sticky Bun Day and
National Biscuits and Gravy Day. Wednesday is
National Cherry Pie Day (in honor of George Washington?) Saturday is
National Chocolate-Covered Peanuts Day.
BIG APPLE CIRCUS TO EXIT BANKRUPTCY and reopen thanks to a sale
of tents, equipment and intellectual property to Big Top Works. Last Tuesday a judge approved the sale to
Big Top Works, an affiliate of Compass Partners, LLC., which had previously placed the winning bid of $1.43m in an asset auction
The nonprofit, artsy, one-ring Big Apple Circus filed a Chapter 11 petition in November, 2016. The circus said its debts totaled $8.3 million, against assets of $3.8 million, in its Chapter 11 filing.
At that time the official release indicated that the goal was to sell "to a buyer committed to preserving the organization."
That goal was achieved.
Neil Kahanovitz, a partner at Big Top Works who is a former circus performer, in a statement called the Big Apple Circus “a cultural gem” and said, “We couldn’t let this beloved American pastime just disappear.”
The circus will now be able to perform its 40th year. Negotiations are taking place for the circus to return to its longtime home at Lincoln Center this fall.
THE STORIED FRIAR'S CLUB IN NEW YORK CITY noted for their
comedy roasts isn't laughing over the recent raid by the U.S. Postal Service which had the agents removing computers and boxes of files.
According to NBC-NY federal prosecutors were tipped off by club members to a possible embezzlement scheme.
Postal Inspection Service spokeswoman Donna Harris confirmed that agents served a search warrant but wouldn't divulge details.
John Catsimatidis, a former New York City mayoral candidate and a Friar indicated that "Concerns were strong enough that members decided they should report the alleged theft to the U.S. Attorney's office."
On September 21, 2016 Showbiz 411 broke the story that the 50c-3 charity had serious financial issues. Showbix 411 printed that the Friar's
"Contributions to the foundation went from $676,216 in 2013 to just $47,198 in 2014. Hence, the Friars’ donations to outside groups went from $351,896 to a startling $8,685.”
The famed club has recently had problems. Club president Bruce Chare was sued for sexual harassment by
an employee and then, according to published reports, "a number of veteran members of the club left."
GOING TO COST MORE ten Las Vegas resorts in the Caesars Palace stable
of properties are raising resort fees. Those are daily charges which are in addition to the price of the room and
taxes. Resort fees cover a variety of items, which the customer pays for whether they use them or not. Items include
in-room Premium Wifi for two devices per day, fitness center passes for two per day and all local telephone
A sampling of the new daily resort fees which go into effect March 1 are: Caesars Palace, including Nobu Hotel,
The Cromwell, Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino will change to $39.68 per night which includes
Resort fees at Bally’s Las Vegas, Flamingo Las Vegas, Harrah’s Las Vegas, LINQ Hotel & Casino, and Rio All-Suite Hotel &
Casino will charge $34.01 per night, which includes tax.
In November, 2016 MGM raised resort fees at five of its properties.
Resort fees do not include vehicle parking fees.
SHOULD YOU INVEST IN A BROADWAY SHOW? if you are in the tax bracket
where you need
a tax write-off,
you might want to consider it. All Broadway investors should receive a K1 at the end of every year - same as any
investment. A K-1 reports each shareholder's share of income, losses, deductions and credits.
The shareholders use the information on the K-1 to report the same thing on their separate tax returns.
Sinking money into a Broadway production is a great way to lose money. Almost a given.
According to the Broadway League which tracks such things, 80% of all Broadway shows don't recoup their investment - or
about 1 in 5 do recoup - which ever version you prefer.
Like all forms of gambling - don't invest what you can't afford to lose.
GET WELL SOON TO . . . .
CHER who had to cancel her shows last February 18-19 at the Monte Carlo Hotel in Las Vegas due to the flu.
The singing icon posted that she has been suffering from the flu and is doing her best to get better visiting her doctor daily.
THE BLAMELESS a world premiere by Nick Gandiello.
Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch.
The Blameless is called "a compassionate and moving look at the power of familial bonds in the most extraordinary of circumstances. The boisterous Garcia family has always tackled their days with warmth, humor, and tough love. But today is no ordinary day. Struggling to recover from a painful event in their past, they must find a way to hold everything together as they welcome to dinner the one man who might help them heal - or reopen their wounds. "
The cast includes Amara James Aja as Howard Harper, Liza Colón-Zayas as Amanda Garcia, Antoinette LaVecchia as Diana Garcia, Frank Pando as Alex Garcia, Stephen Barker Turner as Drew Davis, and Carmen Zilles as Theresa Garcia.
The creative team includes Andrew Boyce (Scenic Design), David Israel Reynoso (Costume Design), Bradley King (Lighting Design), Ryan Rumery (Sound Design), Caparelliotis Casting (Casting), and Amanda Salmons (Production Stage Manager).
The Blameless, which was developed in a reading in the Globe’s Powers New Voices Festival last year,
will play February 23 - March 26, 2017 in the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, part of the Globe’s Conrad Prebys
Theatre Center in San Diego, CA.
SCARLETT by Colette Kane.
Directed by Mel Hillyard.
Scarlett has escaped. She is starting afresh in the idyllic Welsh countryside; far away from the city, far away from her job and far away from her overbearing family. She is searching for something new, something different. But what is it that she is looking for? And does it even exist?
Colette Kane’s arresting new play asks if family ties can ever truly be cut and whether the grass is really greener on the other side.
February 23 - March 25, 2017 at Hampstead Theatre in London.
WILLIAM INGE IN REPERTORY
Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba
Directed by Artistic Director Jack Cummings III.
The OBIE-award winning Transport Group returns to the master playwright by presenting two of his greatest works both
timeless, mid-century, mid-American plays from one of the canon’s most insightful and underestimated playwrights. Inge, an archeologist of American loneliness, writes with an aggressive empathy for the triumphs and failures of the heart at a time in our country’s history when the possibility of greatness was alluringly just at the fingertips.
The men and women of Inge's America are sexy. They are heartbreaking. They are alarming. They are ruthless. They are afraid. They are hopeful.
In Picnic when a gorgeous drifter arrives in a small Kansas town, no one is prepared. He brings with him the possibilities and promises - some true, some false - of a life with real options. His instant and incendiary chemistry with a local 18-year old unexpectedly destroys the illusions of comfort harbored by everyone in this heartland’s physically expansive and emotionally suffocating landscape. Inge's legendary Pulitzer-prize winning play is over 60 years old but the American questions of sex as currency, of class as possibility, and youth as opportunity are timeless.
In Come Back, Little Sheba, a Midwestern middle-aged couple lives one day to the next - Lola, breathless with fear of silence and solitude, and Doc, a recovering alcoholic. Into their tired lives comes Marie, their boarder, so flush with the riches of her youth that they can no longer deny how they spent their own. Their fragile acceptance of their own stifling reality is suddenly and brutally tested as Inge mercilessly exposes the pain and regret of the past that can be unmasked by the mere presence of youth and possibility of the future. Inge's play explores the endless and inevitable disappointments of the ever-seductive American dream.
Scenic design for Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba is by Dane Laffrey; costume design is by Kathryn Rohe; lighting design is by R. Lee Kennedy. Performances begin Thursday, February 23 and run through Sunday, April 23 at the Gym at Judson, New York City.
INFINITY by Hannah Moscovitch,
with original music by Njo Kong Kie.
Directed by Ross Manson.
Choreography bt Kate Alton.
"The cynical, skeptical daughter of a theoretical physicist and a composer, Sarah Jean’s clinical approach to love
meets with little success. In this absorbing drama infused with science and classical music, three exceptional
minds collide like charged particles in an accelerator. Sarah Jean’s hugely talented yet severely
dysfunctional family will learn that love and time itself are connected in unimaginable ways. Infinity
is the highly-anticipated NAC debut of Ottawa-raised Hannah Moscovitch, one of Canada’s most exciting playwrights."
Featuring Paul Braunstein, Vivien Endicott-Douglas, Amy Rutherford, and
Winner of the 2015 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play, Infinity "is a story about the seeming
impossibility of love and the idea that what time offers us is more than we realize.
It has been crafted with close input from world renowned physicist Lee Smolin, and internationally acclaimed composer Njo Kong Kie."
A Volcano Theatre (Toronto) production February 25-March 11, 2017 NAC English Theater in Ottawa, Canada.
MICHEL LEGRAND winner of Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Grammy’s, BAFTA’s and Palm D’or’s, having also worked with other legends like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Ray Charles and Barbra Streisand to name a few.,
marks his 85th birthday on February 24, 2017 with an 85 live performance tour across the globe. He performs February 23, 2017 at the Dubai Opera in Dubai, UAE, which also marks his Dubai debut.
KRISTIN CHENOWETH performs
Friday, February 24, at the North Iowa Community Auditorium in Mason City, IA. On Saturday she brings her glorious voice to the
Des Moines Performing Arts - Civic Center, Des Moines, IA.
BON JOVI stars at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, OK on Tuesday, February 21. Thursday's stop is at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. On Saturday he's in the spotlight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.
BLAKE SHELDON appears Thursday, February 23, at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. On Friday he's in the spotlight at the Arena in Spokane, WA. Saturday's show is at the Dome in Tacoma, WA.
TOBIN'S RUN ON 51: FROM RAGLAN ROAD TO GREEN DOLPHIN STREET is the
first installment of New York City's Irish Arts Center new series of jazz nights curated by
singer/songwriter Christine Tobin and guitarist Phil Robson will explore through words and music Ireland’s
own storied jazz journey, including an homage to one of the world’s greatest jazz guitarists, Louis Stewart.
The evening's lineup: Justin Carroll and Simon Jermyn Trio and David O’Rourke Trio. Thursday, February 23,
at The Irish Arts Center in New York City.
THE TEN TENORS bring their harmony to the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in LaMirada, CA on Saturday, February 25. Next Sunday, February 26, they are on stage at the California Center fot the Arts in Escondido, CA.
JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER center stage at
the Stand-Capitol Performing Arts Center in York, PA on Saturday, February 25.
ARIANA GRANDE performs Tuesday, February 21, at the Key Bank Center in Buffalo, NY. On Thursday she opens a two nighter at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Next Sunday, February 26, she appears at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH.
KINGS OF LEON are in England this week with a show Monday, February 20, at the Genting Arena in Birmingham. Friday's stop is at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. On Saturday they are in the spotlight at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.
CHRIS ROCK begins a three night stand Tuesday, February 21, at the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Friday's laugh fest will be at the Events center in Reno, Nevada. On Saturday he'll perform at the Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, AZ.
AL JARREAU 7 time Grammy award winning jazz singer died February 12, 2017 in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 76.
n 1978, Al won his first U.S. Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for his album,
Look To The Rainbow.
One of Jarreau's most commercially successful albums is Breakin' Away (1981), which includes the hit
song We're in This Love Together. He won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for
Breakin' Away. In 1984, his single After All reached 69 on the US Hot 100 chart and number
26 on the R&B chart. His last big hit was the Grammy-nominated theme to the 1980s American television show
Moonlighting, for which he wrote the lyrics. Among other things, he was well known for his extensive use of scat singing, and vocal percussion.
Jarreau was married twice. His first marriage, to Phyllis Hall, lasted from 1964 to 1968. His second wife
was model Susan Elaine Player, whom he married in 1977. Jarreau and Player had one son together, Ryan.
He is survived by his wife and son.
BARBARA CARROLL famed jazz pianist, singer and composer died February 11, 2017. She was 92.
Her stellar career began in 1947 when she played her first New York engagement at the Downbeat Club opposite Dizzy Gillespie. Throughout the 1950s, she and her trio, which included Chuck Wayne on guitar and Clyde Lombardi on bass, played venues around the country, including working briefly with Benny Goodman.
Later Charlie Byrd replaced Wayne and Joe Shulman replaced Lombardi.
She recorded her first album for Atlantic Records in 1951; among her numerous discs are Something to Live For, I Wished on the Moon, One Morning in May, Everything I Love, This Heart of Mine, All in Fun, Old Friends, and more.
Her one Broadway outing was in the 1953 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Me & Juliet playing a rehearsal pianist named Chris.
After the birth of her daughter she took time off from performing. In 1978 she returned to the New York jazz scene and became a resident performer at the Carlyle's Bemelmans Bar for 25 years. Carroll performed in midtown venues in her last years, playing the Oak Room of the Algonquin and, more recently, the jazz venue Birdland, performing regularly with bassist Jay Leonhart.
In September 1954 Carroll married Joe Shulman, a member of the trio. Less than three years later he died of a
heart attack in 1957 at age 33. She subsequently married bandleader Bert Block and had a daughter,
Suzanne who survives her. Block died in 1986 of emphysema.
HARVEY LICHTENSTEIN respected theatre administrator died February 11 at his home in New York. He was 87.
He is best known for his 32-year tenure (1967–99) as president and executive producer of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, or BAM, as it became known under his leadership. He led the institution to a renaissance, championing contemporary performance, establishing the Next Wave Festival, and providing a vital venue for dance, theater, music, and collaborations that bridged disciplines. When Lichtenstein retired, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation made the decision to honor his considerable accomplishments by foregoing its own naming rights and dedicating the BAM Harvey Theater in his honor.
Next Column: February 26, 2017
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