Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: February 5, 2017
By: Laura Deni


It's been a long road for August Wilson's 1982 powerful play which has finally arrived on Broadway at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater.

The spectacular and moving production directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson with an ensemble cast, is as relevant today - perhaps even more so - that it was when first performed.

August Wilson, who died in 2005, is considered the definitive chronicler of Black America. Reflecting the 1970s, Jitney was the eighth play Wilson wrote in his great 10-play cycle portraying 10 decades of history in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.

Another in the cycle, Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences, mounted on Broadway in 1987 is the basis for the current film directed by and starring Denzel Washington.

Jitney is set in a worn-down jitney cab station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during an early 1977 autumn, set two years before it was written in 1979. It was first produced at the small Allegheny Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1982.

Wilson continued polishing the script which opened Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre on April 25, 2000 and closed on September 10, because another play had already been contracted for the venue. The play next moved to the Union Square Theatre on September 19, 2000 where it closed on January 28, 2001.

At that time it failed to transfer to Broadway, reportedly because Wilson's previous play had lost money. Investors turned reluctant.

I first saw the thought-provoking play 16 years ago - and it stayed with me - mulling it over - discussing it afterwards. The same can be said for this current presentation.

Actor/director Ruben Santiago-Hudson, in his first turn steering a Broadway production, received the 1996 Tony for his performance in August Wilson's Seven Guitars, which was fifth in the cycle. When Wilson became ill, Santiago-Hudson promised him that he would mount Jitney on Broadway. He's a man of his word.

It's impossible for a theatergoer to watch this Manhattan Theater Club production without the patron's emotions being pricked. You develop - if not an empathy for - at least an understanding - of their particular plight.

The story setting was based on the fact that regulated taxi cabs refused to service the Pittsburgh Hill District of the 1970s, and so the residents had no choice but to rely on jitneys - unlicensed taxi cabs. This layered play portrays the lives of the jitney drivers at the station owned by Becker. Success for them is - getting by.

When the city threatens to board up the business and the boss’ son returns from prison, tempers flare, potent secrets are revealed and the fragile threads binding these people together may come undone at last.

A young jitney driver is advised: “You just have to shake off that ‘white folks is against me’ attitude. Hell, they don’t even know you’re alive.”

No single character dominates Jitney. It's Wilson's use of conversational language that is the backbone.

There are nine characters in Jitney, and each has their own story and an intertwining of relationships with their lot in life.

In addition to Wilson experiencing what he wrote about, there is a faint whiff of Sanford and Son a sitcom that ran on the NBC television network from January 14, 1972 to March 25, 1977. Time called it One the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time. The show was known for its edgy racial humor. The series was adapted by Norman Lear and considered NBC's answer to CBS's All in the Family. Sanford and Son has been hailed as the precursor to many other African American sitcoms. Throughout its entire six-season run, it was a ratings hit.

Sanford and Son stars Redd Foxx as Fred G. Sanford, a widower and junk dealer living in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, and Demond Wilson as his son Lamont Sanford.

The cast is explained as "While the role of Fred G. Sanford was known for his bigotry and cantankerousness, the role of Lamont Sanford was that of a conscientious peacemaker.

The give and take between father and son and the regular characters in the Sanford and Son plot-lines, have the same tension and vocal layers as Jitney, although Sandford an Son played for laughs and Jitney doesn't. It is interesting that Wilson was writing this play during the time frame Sanford and Son aired.

Brandon J. Dirden as Booster and John Douglas Thompson as Becker. Photo: Joan Marcus.
The effective David Gallo sets on Jitney look like they came from Sanford's junkyard or a similar provider of used goods.

The reality set is an extension of the life conditions experienced by the people in Jitney.

The jitney cab company operates out of a downtrodden room. Their link to customers is a rotary pay phone. Needing to go somewhere, locals ring the phone on a regular basis - which means needed income. Food is kept in an antiquated refrigerator, which is on the last of its legs. A coffee table with legs too short sits on concrete blocks. It's an office.

Their footing in life is precarious with Gallo emphasizing that by using a raked stage - the most dangerous type of stage for a performer. It's effective. The audience may not realize why they feel the way they do, but that sloped stage giving a constant possibility of disaster is how the characters in this play are forced to navigate life.

All of the actors are veterans of Wilson penned productions.

John Douglas Thompson and Brandon J. Dirden deliver phenomenal performances as estranged father and son.

Former mill worker turned jitney boss Becker (Thompson), has an excellent work ethic. He's always believed that if you keep your nose clean and work hard you'll get your just due. He's fond of his employees and attempts to placate and ignore minor squabbles. He's a carefully-pick-your-fight type of guy, managing to survive by ignoring all indignities which has been thrown his way.

Then his son Clarence, nicknamed Booster, (Dirden) is released after spending 20 years in prison for murdering his lover, a white woman who had falsely accused him of raping her. Becker never visited his son in prison and is still humiliated by the shame he feels Booster has brought to the family.

Compounding that is that the conviction took place when Booster's biological mother was dying. Booster shows up at his father's jitney station wanting to make amends. Becker's hidden rage flares as he argues with Booster and then disowns him.

Death has a funny way of altering the situation.

The cast includes:

Gossip monger Turnbo (Michael Potts) who is obsessed with meddling into the life's of others which causes trouble. He also has a violent streak which leads to an unexpected showdown with the temperamental Vietnam veteran Youngblood (André Holland) who works multiple jobs while trying to figure out the GI Bill. He frequently jumps to conclusions and has misplaced outrage towards Rena (Carra Patterson - the only female cast member) who is haunted by the memory of her husband Darnell's cheating.

There’s the alcoholic, Fielding (Tony nominee Anthony Chisholm) whose life is seen through bottle tipping excuses. We discover that before Fielding became viewing life through the bottom of a bottle, he was a sought after tailor to Billy Eckstine and Count Basie. Then there is a proverbial numbers runner, the outrageous Shealy (Harvy Blanks - a veteran of all 10 Century cycle plays) whose life - or at least the sexual aspect - was forever rendered ackward by a woman who cursed him, causing him to have trouble relating to any other woman, since he keeps seeing her face on that of any other lover. The soft-spoken, cautious Doub (Keith Randolph Smith) is coping with PTSD as best he can. In the Army he stacked dead bodies in Korea.

The even-keeled Doub (Keith Randolph Smith) prefers mediation to solve conflict, but his approach isn't always the choice of others.

Philmore (Obie-winner Ray Anthony Thomas), a hotel doorman, makes occasional appearances as he heads to his mother's house. A heavy drinker, he's been thrown out by his wife, and has nowhere to go but back to Mommy. He laments: “Mama don’t like to see you comin’. But she will take you in.”

Conversation becomes performance art. The characters do what few people do today - actually listen to each other.

Flawless directing, acting, sets, costumes and lighting. The writing is so powerful, eloquently spoken, showcasing the voice as an art form that one understand why New York Public Radio took the unprecedented move of recording of all 10 Century Cycle plays in 2013

Adding much to the production are the costumes by Toni-Leslie James who gets the layers right, both in the attitude of the era as well as the style of the clothes which range from dumpster shopping or rummage store sale items to over-the-top neon flash suits, shoes and shades.

Original Music: Bill Sims, Jr. is effective without being distrcating. Associate Director: Awoye Timpo. Lighting Design by Jane Cox; Sound Design by Darron L. West; Hair and make-up design by Robert-Charles Vallance; Associate Scenic Designer Ann Beyersdorfer; Associate Lighting Designer Solomon Weisbard; Associate Sound Designer Charles Coes.

A don't miss, important Broadway production.


It's the first and only Cirque du Soleil musical spectacle. It's the organization’s first musical created specifically for Broadway. It's Paramour, currently in performances at the Lyric Theatre in New York City through April 16, 2017.

The first Cirque show I saw was Mystere in Las Vegas and I became mesmerized. I carted people to the show who carped: "I hate circuses." I responded: "You won't hate this one." They loved it.

The Cirque organization has changed with the times - always experimenting, always inventive and always featuring the best in graceful athletic ability with costumes and lighting to take your breath away. My favorite became The Beatles Tribute Love. It's now in its second version at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. A don't miss it show.

Cirque officials are always game to stage another show, attempt to reinvent themselves. Sometimes it's best to stay with what you know works.

Conceived and directed by French stage director and choreographer Philippe Decouflé. Music by the team of Bob & Bill (a.k.a. Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard). Andreas Carlsson is lyricist and co-composer. The creative director is Jean-François Bouchard.

Ruby Lewis, Jeremy Kushnier, and Ryan Vona in a traditional scripted scene from Paramour. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Paramour is billed as "inspired by the wonderful world of classic cinema. Meet the director searching for his next big hit, the small-town actress he grooms for fame, and the composer she falls for."

The Paramour book is by West Hyler; Cheography by Daphné Mauger.

As with other Cirque productions the performers are always the best in the world. Olympic medalists and world champions find employment at Cirque. 13 countries are represented in this production. The costumes, lighting and aerial design never disappoint.

The strength of Cirque shows is the ability to transport the audience into the surreal. Escapism at a high bar level. That is where Paramour sets itself apart from the other Cirque shows I've seen. With Paramour Cirque has tried too hard and the audience is stuck in with the reality of a familiar story line. Because of a well worn plot line, set in a cabaret, with actual songs, it's difficult to stay focused with all of the frenetic Cirque movement - including - literally - swinging from the light fixtures.

Tom Ammirati, Fletcher Blair Sanchez, and Jeremias Faganel in a classic surreal Cirque performance in Paramour. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The use of projections seems to be the new Broadway trend. However, the overhead multi-screen projections in this show have too much of a good thing. Many times less is more.

With the production full throttle on uppers, it's the audience which suffers the confusing side effects. The dialogue would be predominately a blank page were it not for the clichés.

This production even has principal characters. Jeremy Kushmer is cast as the egotistical big shot Hollywood director AJ; aspiring singer Indigo is played by Ruby Lewis; and the songwriter Joey is played by Ryan Vona.

The cast also features Bret Shuford, whose Broadway credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Amazing Grace as Robbie the Choreographer, Sarah Meahl who is making her Broadway debut as Gina, a Marilyn Monroe inspired Friday to the movie director, and Kat Cunning plays Lila.

The cast performing as aerial strap artists, Chinese pole, contortion, juggling, Russian beam, teeterboard, tumbling, trampoline, trapeze includes:

Tom Ammirati, Andrew Atherton, Kevin Atherton, Chelsey Arce, Lee Brearley, Yanelis Brooks, Samuel William Charlton, Martin Charrat, Nate Cooper, Myriam Deraiche, Kyle Driggs, Jeremias Faganel, Amber Brooke Fulljames, Steven Trumon Gray, Tomasz Jadach, Rafal Kaszubowski, Justin Keats, Reed Kelly, Denis Kibenko, Joe McAdam, Raven McRae, Amber J. Merrick, Sheridan Mouawad, Amber Pickens, Justin Prescott, Fletcher Blair Sanchez, Matthieu Sennacherib, Blakely Slaybaugh, Sam Softich, Amiel Soicher, Amber van Wijk, Bruce Weber, Tomasz Wilkosz and Zhengqi Xia (Da Qi).

It's the performers who save this production. The aerial ballets sparked by dreams or nightmares are splendid. A unicycle act will have you holding your breath. Cirque at what it was meant to be with acrobatic design by Shana Carroll.

You won't be able to take your eyes off of them - muscular, shirtless, handsome, blond identical British twins Andrew and Kevin Atherton - dazzling aerial straps artists. They represented the UK in five World Championships, two European Championships and the Commonwealth Games. Together they developed and created the famous duo-straps act for cirque shows Varekai, Iris, Zarkana and Paramour.

Creative changes were made the last week of August 2016 giving the characters more depth. Still, while the story line is more interesting, it's really two shows in one and the audience is required to exert mentally duality - paying attention to words and the plot line of a book musical while being immersed in the ethereal world of the original cirque concept - which for some could range from difficult to mutually exclusive.

Despite the improved changes, the show is as convoluted as the menu at your seat where selections include both popcorn and wine. It's as though the menu doesn't know what it wants to be, either.

Paramour will have a more receptive audience playing outside of Broadway where patrons can't compare it to a multitude of other shows within a five block area.

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A terrible crime has been committed. Victorian London's most celebrated detective needs your help to find out "whodunit!" Sherlock Holmes and the Clocktower Mystery is a clever, interactive exhibition at the Fleet Science Center in San Diego, CA that will challenge your powers of observation and deductive reasoning as you work to solve a baffling mystery.

Grab a Detective Guide and enter the exhibition. You'll find yourself transported back in time, experiencing the sights, sounds-and even the smells!-of turn-of-the-century London. First, you'll visit the clocktower, where a murder has taken place. Then you'll walk through seven other locations, including a carnival sideshow, a séance room and a caretaker's room. In each, search for clues ... but beware of red herrings that might lead you off track.

When you think you know the name of the murderer, enter Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's study. There, you'll be questioned about your conclusions, and the mystery will be solved in a dramatic finale.

Sherlock Holmes and the Clocktower Mystery is open February 11 through June 4, 2017, at the Fleet Science Center in San Diego, CA.

Mrs. Waldorf by Kehinde Wiley
offers an overview of the artist’s prolific 14-year career.

His signature portraits of everyday men and women riff on paintings by Old Masters, replacing European aristocrats in those paintings with contemporary black subjects and drawing attention to the absence of African Americans from historical and cultural narratives.

The exhibition also features a selection from the artist’s ongoing World Stage project, which he started in 2006 by establishing a satellite studio in Beijing; several bronze portrait busts and new stained glass “paintings.”

The touring exhibition is organized by Eugenie Tsai, the John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum where it was shown last year.

February 10–May 14, 2017 at the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio.


TOM PETTY will be honored as the 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year in celebration of his extraordinary creative accomplishments and significant charitable work. Proceeds from the annual Person of the Year tribute - now in its 27th year - provide essential support for MusiCares, which ensures music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical, and personal need.

The 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year gala will begin with a reception and silent auction followed by a gala dinner, a tribute concert featuring renowned musicians and other artists, and the award presentation.

Performances by multi-Grammy-winning artists Jakob Dylan, Foo Fighters, Don Henley, Norah Jones, Taj Mahal, Randy Newman, Stevie Nicks, and Lucinda Williams; Grammy-winning artists Gary Clark Jr., Jeff Lynne, and George Strait; Grammy-nominated singer/songwriters Jackson Browne, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, Elle King, and Regina Spektor; Grammy-nominated band the Lumineers; and artists the Bangles, Dhani Harrison, the Head And The Heart, the Shelters, and Kristen Wiig. Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers will close the evening's performances.

Multi-Grammy-winning artist and producer T Bone Burnett will serve as musical director.

Attendees will include Neil Portnow, President/CEO of MusiCares and The Recording Academy; Alexandra Patsavas, Chair of MusiCares; Bill Silva, Chair Emeritus of MusiCares; and John Branca, Honorary Chair of MusiCares. The event's Tribute Chairs are Olivia Harrison, MusiCares Board Member; Ringo Starr, multi-Grammy-winning artist; and Cameron Strang, chairman/CEO of Warner Bros. Records.

Friday, February 10, 2017 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

SONNETS & CHOCOLATES Endstation Theatre Company's pivotal fundraiser is an evening of Romance and Performance.

February 11, 2017 at The Academy Warehouse Theatre in Lynchburg, VA.

The black tie optional evening begins with hors d'oeuvres, dinner with complimentary wine, beer, and cocktails followed by performances by Endstation and Friends and a live auction.

FIFTH ANNUAL PAUL RUDD ALL-STAR BOWLING BENEFIT to support The Stuttering Association (SAY). The event will be held Monday, February 13, 2017, at Lucky Strike Lanes, New York City.

Guest host is Hamilton's Brandon Victor Dixon.

The event will include a cocktail reception, followed by bowling with stars and kids from SAY’s programs.

Stars currently expected to attend include: Erich Bergen, Emily Bergl, Alex Brightman, Alexander Chaplin, Maddie Corman, Nadia Dajani, Gilbert Gottfried, Jenna Leigh Green, Mariska Hargitay, Jeremy Hays, Peter Hermann, Seth Herzog, Cady Huffman, James Monroe Iglehart, Richard Kind, Alex Lacamoire, Keira Naughton, Greg Naughton, Michael Oberholtzer, Kelli O’Hara, Steven Pasquale, Nicki Richards, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Betsy Wolfe and Frank Wood.

The Paul Rudd All-Star Bowling Benefit raises crucial funds that help send young people who stutter to Camp SAY. Last year’s event raised more than $160,000 helping children from families–in-need benefit from this life changing camp experience.

More than 70 million people stutter, including 5% of all young children, and approximately 1 in every 100 adults. “Young people who stutter often face fear, ridicule and bullying, and may eventually silence themselves to hide their stutter. They may also feel isolated and alone,” noted Noah Cornman, SAY Executive Director. “This annual event helps kids and teens understand that stuttering shouldn’t hold them back from anything they dream of doing.”


Their fans may live and breathe football, but for the players it's their occupation. Off the field they have other interests and interesting backgrounds.

A spot check shows that:

Danny Amendola Patriot wide receiver began dating Olivia Culpo in 2016.

Martellus Bennett tight end for the Patriots is a children's book author who created the Hey, A.J. series. He not only did the writing but also the sketches. As a child he wanted to be Willie Wonka.

Tom Brady quarterback for the New England Patriots, at one point early in his career, hired a sports psychologist to help him cope with frustration and anxiety. In 2016, he launched his own line of vegan snacks.

Malcolm Butler corner back for the New England Patriots, until six years ago was employed at Popeyes in Vicksburg, Virginia where he worked his way up the ranks and was considered an outstanding employee. He used his salary to help his mother pay the bills.

Falcons' running back Tevin Coleman at 6'1" 210 pounds was a three-and one-half pound premature baby given a 20 percent chance of surviving.

Julian Edelman Patriots' wide receiver has been called by Hollywood Life a "notorious bachelor and party boy who refuses to settle down." This past July cameras caught him holding hands with Victoria’s Secret supermodel Adriana Lima.

Another Falcons' running back Devonta Freeman is a role model for all young boys - especially if they live in a ghetto and are tempted towards drugs and crime. The oldest of 7 children, Freeman saw family and friends end up in prison. He took the opposite route. To pay for things he needed, such as shoes, he'd pump gas, wash cars, rake leaves and any other odd job that was legal. As an adult he's the bread winner for his mother and siblings.

Stephen Gostkowski place kicker for the New England Patriots played hockey which earned him the nickname "Beav"; because he lost two front teeth playing hockey and his replacement teeth were too large for his mouth. Gostkowski appeared in a Pepsi commercial during the 2017 playoffs.

Chris Hogan wide receiver for the Patriots is a master chef. He regularly uses social media to post details of his meal prepping to sharing recipes.

Julio Jones wide receiver for the Falcons plays ping-pong on one of the three ping-pong tables in the Falcons' dressing room where he is reportedly "humbled." He'll celebrate his birthday on Wednesday, February 8.

Malcolm Mitchell wide receiver of the Patriots learned how to read, at an adult level, thanks to joining a woman's book club. When he was a student at the Univeristy of Georgia he was browsing a Barnes & Noble when he spotted a woman - Kathy Rackley, mother of five and grandmother of eight. Mitchell asked her to recommend a book. She recommended that he join her book club the Silverleaf Book Club. He accepted her invitation, becoming the only man in the group. Now, in addition to being a football star, he's also an author. His book The Magician's Hat encourages children to read.

Aldrick Robinson wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons married Bianca Samples on Wednesday, June 7, 2011, which surprised many of his family and fans. Before the wedding he got both a manicure and a pedicure. At that time he posted on his Facebook page: "I'm a be good with just ONE girl #thatsallineed
— Aldrick Robinson (@AldrickRobinson) June 8, 2011
"She accepted my past, so I made her my future."

Matt Ryan quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons is an avid golfer and has participated in such tournaments as the American Century Celebrity Golf Classic.

Mohamed Sanu Atlanta Falcons receiver grew up in Sierra Leone, which is where his mother lives. Last Wednesday she flew from Sierra Leone to Texas to watch her son play in the Super Bowl.

Patriots' running back James White calls his father and grandfather his role models. The last report on his personal life is that he's been dating Dana Civi since college. She's a University of Wisconsin/Madison graduate.


STAYIN' ALIVE: A GRAMMY SALUTE TO THE MUSIC OF THE BEE GEES will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the landmark soundtrack to the film Saturday Night Fever with a live concert taping on Tuesday, February 14, 2017, at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The Grammy Awards, Recording Academy produced special will broadcast on the CBS later this year.

Paying tribute to five-time Grammy winners and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients the Bee Gees will be:

10-time Grammy winner John Legend, five-time Grammy winner Celine Dion, four-time Grammy winner Keith Urban, two-time Grammy winners Little Big Town, and Pentatonix who is also a current nominee along with previous Grammy nominees Andra Day, Nick Jonas, Tori Kelly, multi-platinum pop-funk band DNCE, and current Grammy nominee Demi Lovato.

Seven-time Grammy winner and Bee Gees co-founder Barry Gibb, who released a solo album late last year, will also be on hand to perform a selection of hits from Saturday Night Fever—Soundtrack, which won Album Of The Year at the 21st Annual Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2004.

Don't look for the performers to be imitating the Bee Gees. "Presenting new versions of these great songs promises an evening of true highlights, both for the artists themselves and millions of music fans," said Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of AEG Ehrlich Venture.

Stayin' Alive: A Grammy Salute To The Music Of The Bee Gees is produced by AEG Ehrlich Ventures, LLC. Ehrlich and Rac Clark are the executive producers, Ron Basile is the producer, and David Wild is the writer.

1984 a George Orwell novel published in 1949, turned into a British stage adaptation will open on Broadway this June in an announcement by producers Sonia Friedman and Scott Rudin.

The adaptation was created by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan. The play will open on June 22 at the Hudson Theater.

92Y’S LYRICS & LYRICISTS Presents Let's Misbehave: The Sensational Songs of Cole Porter, Saturday February 11-Monday, February 13, 2017 at 92Y in New York City.

Night and Day, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, You’re the Top: Behind Cole Porter’s famous wit and sophistication lay an artistic genius’s mastery of the American popular song. How did this wealthy scion from Peru, Indiana thwart familial legal-career expectations to join Berlin, Loesser, and Sondheim on the very short list of iconic composer-lyricists?

Artistic director David Loud leads a stellar Broadway cast - Allison Blackwell, Lewis Cleale, Nikki Renee Daniels, Rebecca Luker and Matthew Scott - through Porter’s most exquisite creations, including songs from such smash-hit shows as Anything Goes and Kiss Me, Kate.

David Loud: Artistic Director, Writer & Host. Noah Racey: Stage Director.

ANCHORAGE CONCERTS in conjunction with Billy Elliot the Musical being staged February 14-19 at Atwood Concert Hall in Anchorage, Alaska is presenting a free Billy Elliot moving showing on Monday, February 6, 2017.

THE LILLIAN HELLMAN FESTIVAL at The Arena in Washington, DC. The Arena will host free programming designed to explore and celebrate the iconic playwright, author and political activist.

The full festival includes readings of her plays Toys in the Attic presented by Taffety Punk Theatre Company, The Children’s Hour presented by Howard University’s Department of Theatre Arts, and Another Part of the Forest.

There will also be a screening of Julia, panel discussions, a video series highlighting Hellman’s cookbook recipes with all-star chefs, and a community-wide reading of her memoir Pentimento.

THE MARTIN E. SEGAL THEATRE CENTER at the Graduate Center CUNY staged an Open Call and open Forum last Friday, February 3, 2017 - for artists, philosophers, students and faculty from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria to share their thoughts and reactions to the recent changes in U.S. immigration policy.

The event was free and open to the public.

A PANEL DISCUSSION on conflict resolution takes place on Thursday, February 9, at the World War I Museum in Kansas City.

In a timely blueprint for conflict resolution of every stripe: at home, abroad and in our communities, the Museum hosts this free lively conversation on how human potential is unleashed and new possibilities created.

Filmmakers Stephen Apkon and Marcina Hale and political scientist Dr. Gary Armstrong join former Israeli and Palestinian combatants turned peacemakers for a panel discussion about creating peace out of conflict in conjunction with the award-winning documentary film Disturbing the Peace, which will show at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, February 7.

QUEEN ELIZABETH who normally doesn't have time to watch a lot of television, recently took advantage of recuperating from a cold to catch up on some Laurel and Hardy films and other flicks starring Sid James and Dora Bryan, according to the London Express..

The paper printed that she watched movies she had first enjoyed as a girl.

Dora Bryan, who passed away in 2014 at age 91, was featured in Last of the Summer Wine, which airs in America on PBS. Her Majesty revealed her fondness for the program when she awarded an OBE to actor Peter Sallis, who played Norman "Cleggy" Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine from its 1973 inception until its final episode in 2010, making him the only actor to appear in all 295 episodes. He is quoted as saying; "As she was sticking the medal on me, she said 'I love Last Of The Summer Wine.'"

Sallis also gained worldwide fame as the voice of Wallace in the Academy Award-honored Wallace and Gromit films.

WILLIE NELSON has his own brand of marijuana - which should come as no surprise to followers of Nelson's musical or legal confrontational career, since he's been arrested several times for marijuana possession. The first occasion was in 1974 in Dallas, Texas.

Following the legalization of marijuana in different states, Nelson announced in 2015 through spokesman Michael Bowman the establishment of his own marijuana brand, Willie's Reserve.

Now Willie's Reserve is making serious inroads in states which can legally sell Nelson's favorite cannabis.

In Nevada Redwood Cultivation is the exclusive cultivator and distributor for Nelson's pre-rolled joints which are sold in eight Las Vegas area medical dispensaries.

WAYNE BRADY garnering rave reviews for his portrayal of Aaron Burr in the Chicago mounting of Hamilton. Brady will be in the production through April 9.

FEBRUARY 5 is World Nutella and National Frozen Yogurt Day. Tuesday is National Fettuccine Alfredo Day. Friday is National Have a Brownie Day and Saturday is National Peppermint Patty Day.


HIP HOP STAR 50 CENT had his bankruptcy case dismissed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ann Nevins last Thursday, February 2, 2017, in Hartford, CT. The approval came after 50 Cent paid more than $22 million to settle his debts.

The rapper filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in 2015, citing debts of $36 million and assets of less than $20 million.

ANDRE SALAMAN BAUTISTA who won a Daytime Emmy in 2015 as a producer for the online soap opera The Bay was found guilty Thursday, February 2, 2017 of attempted murder in connection with a stabbing during an argument over the Academy Awards at his Studio City, CA home, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Bautistawas also convicted of assault with a deadly weapon with allegations that he used a knife and caused great bodily injury.

Bautista is scheduled to be sentenced in Van Nuys, CA on March 22, 2017. He faces up to 13 years in state prison.

According to court testimony, Bautista stabbed his tenant in the chest on September 8, 2015, after the victim laughed when Bautista bragged that he would eventually have won n five Academy Awards.

According to evidence presented in court, Bautista had previously written and starred in an independent movie about a landlord who killed his tenants.

WINNERS OF THE 19TH ANNUAL ENTERTAINMENT LAW INITIATIVE writing content have been announced.

They are:

Stephanie Beach Seton Hall University School of Law
Paper Title: Born To Run: Amending Right Of Publicity Statutes To Address The Use Of Music In Political Campaigning

Runners-Up Leslie DeGonia Washington University School of Law
Paper Title: This Is My Fight Song, Take Back My Termination Rights Song.

Andrew Smith Pepperdine University School of Law
Paper Title: Festival State Of Safety: Amending The IDAPA And Preventing Future Drug-Related Deaths At Electronic Music Festivals.

Trevor Maxim USC Gould School of Law
Paper Title: Giving Copyright Holders a Fair Shake: How The Music Industry Can Manage DMCA Takedowns Under Lenz.

Mary Catherine Amerine William & Mary Law School
Paper Title: Searching For A Sound: A Proposal For Creating Consistent De Minimis Sampling Standards In The Music Industry.

The 19th annual Entertainment Law Initiative Luncheon & Scholarship Presentation will take place during Grammy Week featuring a keynote address by Marc Geiger, head of music/partner at William Morris Endeavor. Elliot Groffman, a partner at Carroll, Guido & Groffman LLP, will be the recipient of the 2017 ELI Service Award. The honor is awarded to an attorney who has demonstrated a commitment to advancing and supporting the music community through service.

Other program participants include Henry Root, ELI Executive Committee Chair; Ken Abdo, ELI Program Chair and top music industry attorney (Lommen Abdo); and Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy and Grammy Foundation. Grammy Foundation Vice President Scott Goldman will be the host. Daryl P. Friedman, Chief Industry, Government & Member Relations Officer for The Recording Academy, will also be in attendance.

The ELI Writing Competition is open to law students, who are asked to write a 3,000-word essay on a compelling legal issue facing the music industry. A cash scholarship of $5,000 will be awarded to the winner of the ELI Writing Competition and $1,500 will be awarded to each of the four runners-up. The winners of the ELI Writing Competition will be awarded at the luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on Friday, February 10, 2017.

All competition finalists receive airfare, hotel accommodations and a ticket to the 59th Annual Grammy Awards as well as invitations to other Grammy Week activities. The 59th Annual Grammy Awards will be held at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 12, and broadcast on the CBS Television Network.

The Recording Academy, in concert with some of the nation’s most prominent entertainment attorneys, established the Entertainment Law Initiative to promote discussion and debate about the most compelling legal issues facing the music industry today. The Entertainment Law Initiative Luncheon & Scholarship Presentation is one of the most prestigious events held during Grammy Week.

Established in 1998 to recognize and further the connection between the legal profession and the recording community, the ELI program seeks to address legal issues confronting the music industry. ELI also endeavors to support future careers in entertainment law by seeking out the nation’s top law students and giving them invaluable networking and educational opportunities.

THE 2017 BISTRO AWARD WINNERS have been announced by producer Sherry Eaker.

They are:

Darlene Love / Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award
Carol Woods / Enduring Artistry
Jason Kravits / Musical Comedy
Spider Saloff / Ongoing Jazz Artistry
Natalie Douglas / Recording: Human Heart
Matt DiPasquale / Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award
Meg Flather / Vocalist
David Vernon / Vocalist
Lucille Carr-Kaffashan / Theme Show: Unwritten: Celebrating 21st Century Female Singer-Songwriters
Lauren Stanford / Musical Portrayal: Helen Morgan in More Than You Know
Sally Darling / Tribute Show: Totally Noël
Courter Simmons / Characterization: Cacophony Daniels
David Maiocco and Chuck Sweeney / Musical Comedy Duo: Lee Squared
Anya Turner and Robert Grusecki / Songwriters
Sam Bolen, Mark Sonnenblick, and Max Friedman / Book Musical: Midnight at the Never Get
Jeff Cubeta / Musical Director

As is the Bistro Award tradition, the evening will feature performances by the winners.

Directed by Shellen Lubin the awards will be presented March 13, 2017 at the Gotham Comedy Club in New York City.

The Bistro Awards is the oldest award of its kind in the industry.

THE NAKED MAGICIANS "sleeves up, pants down" is how this production is billed.

It's called "the world's naughtiest and funniest magic show."

Starring Christopher Wade who brags about his long tongue and Mike Tyler who has quick hands.

Direct from Australia, the show features magic, mirth and more than a touch of mayhem as these two hot and hilarious magicians say abracadabra and take magic to a whole new level. Left without sleeves or pockets, their saucy magic is baffling and entertaining, bringing a new meaning to “now you see it”.

This boisterous R-rated magic show, strips away the top hats and capes, promising full frontal illusions. Good magicians don’t need sleeves and great magicians don’t need pants. This show proves just that.

You nust be 18 or over to attend the show which contains coarse language, sexual references and nudity.

The boys are currently on an American tour. This week they can be enjoyed: February 10 and 11 at the Performing Arts Center in Des Moines, Iowa and next Sunday, February 12, at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, MN.

SUNSET BOULEVARD a revival of the Tony Award winning production with a celebrated book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The acclaimed score include, With One Look, As If We Never Said Goodbye, and Perfect Year.

Based on Billy Wilder’s classic Academy Award-winning film, Sunset Boulevard.

Directed by Lonny Price.

The Broadway production will feature an on-stage 40-piece orchestra, the largest to play on Broadway in over 80 years.

Starring in her Broadway return the three-time Tony Award-winner Glenn Close in her most iconic role, Norma Desmond.

In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, lives in a fantasy world. Impoverished screen writer, Joe Gillis, on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into her reclusive world. 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. Joe becomes entrapped in a claustrophobic world until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free with dramatic consequences.

Sunset Boulevard co-stars Michael Xavier as Joe Gillis, Siobhan Dillon as Betty Schaefer, and Fred Johanson as Max von Mayerling. Additional cast members include, Nancy Anderson, Mackenzie Bell, Barry Busby, Preston Truman Boyd, 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, Paul Schoeffler, Andy Taylor, Sean Thompson, Matt Wall and Jim Walton.

The official opening takes place Thursday, February 9, 2017 at the Palace Theatre in New York City.

ZOOT SUIT written and directed by Luis Valdez.

Songs composed by Lalo Guerrero.

Music director Daniel Valdez.

Starring Academy Award nominee Demian Bichir as El Pachuco.

With: Brian Abraham, Mariela Arteaga, Demian Bichir, Melinna Bobadilla, Oscar Camacho, Stephani Candelaria, Raul Cardona, Fiona Cheung, Tiffany Dupont, Caleb Foote, Holly Hyman, Kimberlee Kidd, Rocío López, Jeanine Mason, Tom G. McMahon, Andres Ortiz, Michael Naydoe Pinedo, Matias Ponce, Rose Portillo, Gilbert Saldivar, Richard Steinmetz, Evan Strand, Bradford Tatum, Raphael Thomas, and Daniel Valdez.

When Zoot Suit opened at L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum in 1978, it was the first Chicano play to become a mainstream hit. Luis Valdez’s fictionalization of the Sleepy Lagoon murder and the so-called Zoot Suit riots of the 1940s went on to inspire a generation of theater artists.

Los Angeles, 1942. A young Chicano man struggling with the divide between his Mexican heritage and his American upbringing puts on his zoot suit and goes out dancing.

The next morning, accused of a crime he did not commit, he becomes a media sensation as he fights for justice.

Zoot Suit returns to the Mark Taper as part of Center Theatre Group’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

Featuring a company of 25 actors, singers, and dancers and the much loved music of Lalo Guerrero.

Zoot Suit is called "a thrilling theatrical celebration of the cultural, political, and human forces that shape the City of Angels."

Choreography by Maria Torres. Scenic design by Christopher Acebo. Costume design by Ann Closs-Farley. Sound design by Pablo Santiago. Sound design by Philip G. Allen. Projection design by David Murakami. Associate director Kinan Valdez.

Through March 19, 2017 at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, CA.

BEWARE OF PITY an adaptation of Stefan Zweig’s 1939 novel Beware of Pity.

Directed by Thomas Ostermeir.

Starring Lars Eidinger playing this vile, devious and cruel king in this theatrical thriller.

A Barbican first - a co-production from two of Europe’s most boundary-pushing theatre companies, Complicite and Schaubühne ensemble.

A devastating account of a young man’s decline from honor via love and betrayal.

February 9–12, 2017 at the Barbican in London.


ISAAC MIZRAHI the famed fashion designer is also a singer (who knew!) well, those who have been attending his debut performances of Does This Song Make Me Look Fat at Cafe Carlyle in New York City, running through February 11, 2017. He's performing classes backed by Ben Waltzer and his band of jazz musicians. Mizrahi breaks up the repertoire by relating stories and even re-gifts items he’s obtained from fans, business associates and gala dinner-swag bags.

ARIANA GRANDE stars at Century Link Center in Omaha, NE on Tuesday, February 7. Thursday's show is at the BOK Center in Tulsa, OK.

CASABLANCA LIVE! with the NAC Orchestra conducted by Jack Everly. The classic Oscar-winning film like you’ve never experienced it before - with the lush Max Steiner score performed live. Here’s looking at you, kid. February 9 - 11, 2017. NAC in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

CHER is returning to the stage with a new extravaganza Classic Cher performing at the 5,300 seat Park Theater at Monte Carlo Las Vegas, opening February 8.

BON JOVI performs Wednesday, February 8, at the Bon Secours Wellness Center in Greenville, SC. On Friday he stars at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA. Next Sunday, February 12, he's on stage at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. FL.

MASTERVOICES’ 75TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON is staging St. John Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach. Featuring Michael Slattery, Jesse Blumberg, Adam Lau, Latonia Moore, Tamara Mumford, Ben Bliss, and Daniel Okulitch. MasterVoices, with New York Baroque Incorporated conducted by Ted Sperling, February 9, 2017 at Carnegie Hall, New York City.

STEVE MARTIN, MARTIN SHORT and the Stone Canyon Band perform Saturday, February 11, at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL.

THE SUMMIT: THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER MEETS TAKE 6 combining forces for the first time, two of the most acclaimed, award-winning vocal groups in pop music - create an unforgettable concert event that will thrill audiences of all ages. Between them, the two groups boast a remarkable 20 Grammy Awards. As The Manhattan Transfer mark the 40th anniversary of their debut recording on Atlantic Records, original members Tim Hauser, Janis Siegal, Alan Paul, and Cheryl Bentyne will roll out a career retrospective, while Take 6 shares their crystal clear harmony, innovative arrangements, and funky grooves, demonstrating why this sextet is recognized as the pre-eminent a cappella group in the world. Wednesday, February 8, at Sunset Center in Carmel, CA.


MARTA BECKET of the famed Amargosa Opera House died at her home in Death Valley Junction, CA on Monday, January 30, 2017. She was 95.

She was born August 9, 1924, in New York City. She began ballet lessons at age 14, which eventually led to performances as a ballerina. She was in the corps de ballet at Radio City Music Hall and on Broadway she appeared in Show Boat, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Wonderful Town. Later, she took her one-woman show across the country, performing in small theaters and school auditoriums. She married in 1962, and she was on her way with her husband to an engagement in 1967 when, due to a flat tire they were forced to stop in Death Valley Junction. While the tire was being changed she discovered an abandoned theater in Death Valley Junction, just across the Nevada border.

The theater was part of a company town designed by architect Alexander Hamilton McCulloch and constructed in 1923–25 by thePacific Coast Borax Company. The U-shaped complex of Mexican Colonial-style adobe buildings included company offices, a store, a dorm, a 23-room hotel, dining room, lobby and employees' headquarters. At the northeast end of the complex was a recreation hall used as a community center for dances, church services, movies, funerals and town meetings.

Becket rented the recreation hall, then known as Corkhill Hall, began repairs and changed the name to the Amargosa Opera House. In 1970, journalists from National Geographic discovered Becket doing a performance at the Amargosa Opera House without an audience. Their profile and another in Life led to an international interest in Becket and her theater. She began performing to visitors from around the world, including such notables as Ray Bradbury and Red Skelton.

Amargosa (2000), Todd Robinson's documentary about Marta Becket, won a 2003 Emmy Award for cinematographer Curt Apduhan, in addition the film won numerous festival awards and nominations.

She personally created the murals and sets. The performances were the sole source of income for both the Opera House (now owned by Marta's non-profit organization) and the entire town. Becket gave her final performance on February 12, 2012, before turning her theater over to a series of visiting performers under the direction of her nonprofit group.

FRANK PELLEGRINO actor and restauranteur died Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City of lung cancer. He was 72.

Pellegrino appeared on HBO's The Sopranos as FBI New Jersey bureau chief Frank Cubitoso. He also had roles in the Martin Scorsese movie Goodfellas and on the TV series Law & Order.

He was a member of an early 1960s singing group called the Holidaes.

Pellegrino co-owned the well-known Italian restaurant Rao’s, which is popular with celebrities. Martin Scorsese was a frequent customer and used the restaurant location in his movie Wolf of Wall Street.

Branches of the eatery are located in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

He is survived by his son Frank Pellegrino, Jr.

TONY SACCA a Las Vegas entertainer and television personality for over 30 years died Monday, January 30, 2017 from a heart attack at Spring Valley Hospital.. He was 65.

He performed daily in an afternoon show at Bally's hotel.

He was preceded in death by his twin brother and performing partner. Robert Sacca who died in 1999.

He is survived by his wife Josette Leblond.

MAX WILCOX a classical record producer and engineer who won five Grammy Awards died January 20, 2017 in Seattle, Washington from complications of a stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. . He was 88.

Wilcox produced some 60 of his recordings for RCA Victor Red Seal. He counted Rubinstein’s recordings of Chopin’s repertoire among his favorite productions.

In addition to the Grammy Awards Wilcox won as a producer, the recordings that he produced won 17 awards.

His marriages to Carol Thompson and Judith Sherman ended in divorce. He is survived by his son, Scot, and a daughter, Jennifer Wells, both from his first marriage, and he is survived by two grandchildren. Another son, David, died recently.

Neil Portnow President/CEO of The Recording Academy issued the following statement: "Max Wilcox was long regarded as one of classical music's most versatile contributors. His notable advancements in sound engineering enhanced the replication of concert hall acoustics. As a producer and engineer, he won four GRAMMY Awards and was best known for his memorable collaborations with pianist Arthur Rubinstein. Wilcox also worked with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Tokyo Quartet, Dawn Upshaw, and many other notable names in classical music over the course of his storied career. Our deepest condolences go out to Max's family, friends, and creative collaborators.

Next Column: February 12, 2017
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Laura Deni

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