Broadway To Vegas


Copyright: January 25, 1999
By: Laura Deni


When Donny Osmond guested on shock jock Howard Stern's show, the singer admitted that in over 20 years of marriage he and his wife, Debbie, have never had oral sex. America was shocked, simply shocked! Placed into the perspective of the Oval Office, no oral sex seems almost un-American.

As a teeny-bopper idol the singer had a passion for purple socks. He stripped down to a loin cloth to star in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. An admission of no oral sex all but flummoxed America.

Just when we were all beginning to get our lives back together comes word that Stern has invited himself on the new Donny and Marie talk show, to delve more deeply into the bedroom habits of Donny and Debbie.

Donny recently divulged on Donny and Marie that his 8 year old son still sleeps in bed with him. The youngster is getting a bit big - HE'S EIGHT YEARS OLD!!! Donny is now urging the lad to move out by making him sleep on the floor next to the bed. Osmond recommends this method to other parents who have children who wish to also snooze in the parent's bed. According to Osmond, the child will get tired of sleeping on the floor and eventually move closer to the door and eventually into their own bedroom.

Having an eight year old in the room should also be considered a hindrance to oral - or any other kind - of sex.

Stern wants Donny's wife present so he can question both of them about their cohabitation habits.


Chita Rivera
Two time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera has signed to star in Chicago the premiere entertainment offering of Mandalay Bay, the new resort opening March 3 in Las Vegas.

The energetic and seemingly ageless 68-year-old beauty will portray Roxie Hart, a nightclub dancer who gets away with murder, thanks to her shyster lawyer.

Rivera first appeared in Chicago after Bob Fosse lured her to star as Velma Kelly opposite Gwen Verdon's Roxie Hart.

As soon as Chita arrived in New York she learned that the show's rehearsals were postponed because Fosse was ill. Eventually Chicago opened to glorious reviews.

All was smooth sailing until Verdon had to leave the cast for five weeks for a throat operation.

It was then that Chita first worked onstage with Liza Minnelli, who stepped in for Verdon.

The Vegas version of Chicago is the latest attempt to turn Sin City into Broadway West and will be the uncut two hour production and include an intermission.

In previous attempts at putting Broadway musicals into Vegas showrooms, hotel bosses were more concerned about getting the customers into the casino and only abridgment versions were presented.

In packing up her tap shoes and tights Rivera joins fellow Broadway veteran Tommy Tune in moving to Las Vegas.

Both Tune and Rivera have bounced back after leg breaks that would have permanently ended the careers of most dancers.

Tune fell down a flight of steps. Rivera was in an auto accident.

She'd gone out to dinner with friends and offered one of them - a limo driver- a ride home. The actress made a bad U-turn in her sports car, did a bump-and-grind routine with a NYC taxi and cracked her left leg in 12 places. Rushed to Lenox Hill Hospital she could have lost her leg.

She gives a lot of credit to her doctor, John Carmody and her therapists, Armando Zettina and Debbie Baker. She'd prefer to forget about the leg except the screws set off airport metal detectors.

Born Conchita Figueroa del Rivero in Washington, D.C. the sexy sexagenarian set out to become a ballet dancer.

Bajour by Walter Marks and Ernest Kinoy The show opened November 23 1964, at the Sam S. Shubert Theatre in NYC running for 232 performances. Starred Chita Rivera and Herschel Bernardi.
She auditioned with a broken blister and kept dancing when blood oozed through her shoe.

George Balanchine was impressed - so impressed that he personally bandaged her bloody foot.

"The three years I spent at Balanchine's School of American Ballet - the training I got there - was the basis for all the dancing I've done ever since. I call upon that technique in every show."

"I wonder all the time about what would have happened if I'd stayed at Balanchine's. I never did ballet. Which, I suppose, means that I never did what I originally set out to do," reflected the star who gave up the tutu after a friend convinced her to try-out for Call Me Madam in 1950.

Jerome Robbins hired her for the show's national company.

"I certainly don't regret the way my life turned out," she stressed - then added - "But I do wonder what kind of ballet dancer I would have been."

Rivera is self effacing about her accomplishments.

"There are no magic secrets. I'm a strong animal. For what I've been doing all these years, I've had remarkably few problems. My Mom and Dad gave me good genes. I don't smoke. I exercise. Just as important, I exercise my sense of humor."


Bob Fosse
Bob Fosse was a creative genius and moral reprobate. When he died in 1987, at his request, there was no funeral. Now the greatest eulogy Fosse could ever have hoped to receive is a gift to Broadway presented by his long suffering wife, Gwen Verdon and his equally long suffering mistress, Ann Reinking.

The two women loved Fosse. He demonstrated his love for them by making their lives miserable.

As a young teen-ager Fosse experienced his first sexual encounter in the strip joint where he was working. From that day until his death he was drawn to strippers. He'd make a pass at almost anything that walked by. Women who truly loved him were of a different variety -- i.e. Verdon and Reinking. Why they put up with his antics only somebody who has ever been madly in love would understand.

When Fosse made his autobiographical movie All That Jazz he even forced Reinking to audition to play herself in the movie. He dangled and tormented her, requiring her to return for call back after call back.

He cheated on both his wife and mistress. Yet, when he was having another affair with Jessica Lange he came totally unpinned when he discovered that she had cheated on him ...with Mikhail Baryshnikov by whom she bore a daughter.

As one of the world's best choreographers he brought to the stage a bowler hat and white gloves, a hip thrust movement that was probably picked up in a sexual escapade. Fosse's stylistic inventions were not so much artistic creativity as they were a cover up for his own emotional problems.

Fosse was losing his hair. He hated going bald. So much so that it bothered him to see beautiful hair. To salve that neurosis he preferred his dancers wear hats.

Fosse hated his hands. He thought they were ugly. Therefore, it bothered him to see hands that he felt were beautiful. He waltzed around that neurosis by, whenever possible, putting gloves on his dancers.

Valarie Pettiford
Sex was a big part of Fosse's life and that hip thrust meant a lot to the man. Back arched, hips forward. Every Fosse dancer - and bed partner - knew the move. In this production 37 dancers grind out 925 of those pelvic bumps.

From Fosse's own emotional problems - abetted by every drug he could con a doctor into prescribing, was culled some of the most creative choreography to ever strut on a stage.

Perhaps to work through their own pain, perhaps to truly honor him - or a combination of both - Verdon and Reinking created a musical tribute to Bob Fosse. The musical at the Broadhurst theater in New York is one of the highlights of this season. Credit must also be given to Chet Walker, Richard Maltby, Jr., with designs by Santo Loquasto and lighting by Andrew Bridge.

Jane Lanier
That doesn't mean it's perfect.

The best Fosse work is watching a Fosse show. What Fosse attempts to do is provide a retrospective revue of the man's dance steps. Devotees of Fosse will love the show. Dancers will relish the evening. Fans of Fosse musicals will also be enthralled - although there is a good change everyone will not like everything. Whether routines are too long or should have been cut out during the try out stages pivot on personal taste rather than performance quality. The cast consumes a minimum of 800 Advil tablets a week. Pulling their muscles and stretching to grab an inch higher are some excellent performers including;Valarie Pettiford, Christopher E. Kirby, Elizabeth Parkinson, Michael Paternostro, Desmond Richardson, Alan Sanchez, Jane Lanier and Scott Wise.

The strongest segments of the production are taken from the Fosse musical Dancin although I enjoyed Big Spender from Sweet Charity, - to the point that I wanted to go home and watch the movie, which starred Shirley MacLaine.

Ditto with Steam Heat from The Pajama Game. I longed to pull out the movie video and enjoy the entire production.

Desmond Richardson
Scott Wise could have been more effectively showcased. Dancing In The Dark is his only good number Desmond Richardson is a fabulous, athletic dancer who nails a number titled Percussion 4.

Friends in the business saw Fosse in Canada and thought the critics were way too kind and that the production was basically a flop. A work in progress, a lot of tightening took place by the time the production reached Los Angeles. The show I saw in New York was vastly improved. Fosse on Broadway is in some ways a glossed over love letter from Verdon and Reinking about the man who consumed their lives. There was never anything fluffy about Fosse. He was dark and manipulative.

Putting together a retrospective of a distinctive dance style is difficult at best. Nobody could have done a better job. This is a marvelously enjoyable show, which most people will find 80% perfect. Which twenty percent will cause the fight on the way home depends upon personal taste. What leaves no doubt is that one of the definitions of creative genius is that a person's work lives on without them. Bob Fosse's choreography has endured with a life of its own.


Alison Fraser as Lizzie Borden
Photo: Gerry Goodstein
We were delighted to hear from Christopher McGovern, one of the authors of Lizzie Borden. The man who penned the music and co-wrote the lyrics reports that the production at American Stage Company, starring two time Tony nominee Alison Frazer enjoyed "a really successful run." McGovern was burning the midnight oil as the cast album was being duplicated for release on Original Cast Records.

The musical was based on one of the most infamous and bizarre unsolved murder cases in American history.

On a sweltering morning in August, 1892, in the small town of Fall River, Massachusetts, one of the wealthiest citizens, Andrew Borden, and his second wife, Abby, were viciously hacked to death with a hatchet.

Panic swept the town at the idea of a brutal murderer on the loose. However, authorities soon turned their sights to a most unlikely suspect: Andrew's own daughter, Lizzie.

Lizzie Borden, circa 1892
She was arrested amid a swirl of controversy. Her alibi was filled with contradictions and her hatred for her step-mother was hardly a secret. The deaths also made Lizzie and her sister the benefactors of a sizeable fortune.

The press became obsessed with the case. Sometimes the first 10 pages of the newspaper were devoted exclusively to the trial. Public opinion, however, was sharply divided. Acquitted by an all male jury, she remained socially isolated and ostracized, until she died in 1927, a town legend of the most shameful sort.

"Lizzie Borden took an axe/And gave her mother forty whacks/When she saw what she had done/She gave her father forty-one." This children's rhyme was turned into a hit song by the Kingston Trio. Books continue to be written and new theories advanced.

Alison Fraser
McGovern, a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Temple University's Jazz and Commercial music program teamed up with Amy Powers who wrote the book and co-wrote lyrics for Lizzie Borden. A Harvard Law and Columbia Business School graduate, Ms. Powers was a practicing attorney until 1990 when she switched her efforts from a courtroom to the legitimate theatre.

The cast album features 16 songs, and an 8-page booklet. Recently Alison Fraser performed I Cry Alone from Lizzie Borden as part of the MAC/ASCAP songwriter series in New York City. Fraser was last seen on Broadway as Dorine in Tartuffe: Born Again at Circle in the Square.

She is the recipient of the first-ever Barrymore Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of the Blonde in Gunmetal Blues at the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia.

She has played the role of Lizzie Borden since the projects' first living room reading in the fall of 1996.


Willow Cabin Theatre Company, will present its first offering of the current season when it produces the New York premiere of Darrah Cloud's The Sirens, directed by Mark Wade, at Intar. Performances begin Friday, Feb. 5

The Sirens explores the lives of women living with and escaping from abuse. The play follows them from their homes to the prisons in which they find themselves and ultimately to their release - psychological and physical. Using humor and imagery to explore the realities, Illinois native Cloud has written a play which celebrates the resilience and strength of the human spirit.


NEW SHOWROOM the Rio Hotel, Las Vegas is building a 102,000 square-foot showroom complex scheduled to open next year.

The $35 million project will include a 1,500-seat theater with a balcony.

Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. which owns the Rio also announced that they are moving their 50 top executives from Tennessee to Las Vegas, which is where the company will now be based.

MGM GRAND, INC will develop a $700 casino resort in Detroit. The project includes donating $50 million towards developing businesses owned by women and minorities.


STEPHEN SONDHEIM who has spent the past five years refusing to accept the prestigious Johnny Mercer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame has finally relented. He'll be presented with the honor this spring.

BILLY CRYSTAL has sanctioned the Billy Crystal Endowment for Peace Through Performing Arts, the American Friends of the Hebrew University announced.

The endowment will train educators to use theater, dance and music to teach children from Israel and Palestine tolerance and peace.

On Thursday Crystal will be honored with the Scopus Award. The gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, L.A. will have Robin Williams and Garry Shandling providing the entertainment. Jason Alexander will emcee and Whoopi Goldberg will thrown in a few comments of her own.

CUBA GOODING, JR AND MAURY POVICH will be honored by the Tourette's Syndrome Foundation. Gala is Feb. 4 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Los Angeles.

EDWARD ALBEE AND TIM ROBBINS team up for an evening of reading and reminiscence titled Who's Afraid of the Millennium. The Feb. 4 event at the Theater for the New City NYC is to help raise money to pay down the mortgage. Tickets are $100. Call (212) 592-3992 or (212) 254-1109

Broadway To Vegas is supported through advertising and donations. Priority consideration is given to interview suggestions, news, press releases, etc from paid supporters. However, no paid supporters control, alter, edit, or in any way manipulate the content of this site. Your donation is appreciated. We accept PAYPAL.
Thank you for your interest.

HAMLET Shakespeare's first great tragedy is the Frog and Peach Theatre Co's second production of its fourth season of presenting free Shakespeare on the Upper West Side at The Theatre at the West-Park Church. The production will feature Ted Zurkowski as Hamlet and guest artist Austin Pendleton - last seen on Broadway in The Diary of Anne Frank as Claudius and The Ghost. The production will be directed by Lynnea Benson and will begin performances on Thursday, January 28 and run through Sunday, February 21.

MARK RUCKER who previously directed The Cryptogram, and Twelfth Night at Yale Rep and who is a 1992 graduate of the Yale School of Drama, returns to stage Measure for Measure by Shakespeare, a special project of the Yale School of Drama featuring the graduating acting class, running January 28 through February 20. Rucker is an associate artist at South Coast Repertory and recently directed the premiere of Anna Deavere Smith's House Arrest at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

ROLLIN' ON THE T.O.B.A a new musical saluting the last days of Black vaudeville opens Thursday, January 28 at the 47th Street Theatre, NYC. The production stars Sandra Reaves-Phillips, Rudy Roberson and Jeffrey V. Thompson. More on this show next week.

PERFECT CRIME continues through January 31 at the Gothic North Community Theater, Reno, Nevada. with shows through February 21. I Remember You follows with performances February 5-21

ARKANSAS REPERTORY stages an opening night tomorrow, Tuesday, January 26 for Cookin at the Cookery: The Life and Times of Alberta Hunter by Marion Caffey. Performances through February 14.


TONY DANZA returns to Broadway April 8th joining Kevin Spacy in the revival of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh. Performances begin March 29 at the Brooks Atkinson Theater. The run is limited.

MAYNARD FERGUSON a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and winner of numerous Downbeat and Playboy jazz polls, brings his trumpet to the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas on Tuesday for a one nighter. Ferguson has a new band, Big Bop Nouveau, composed of young, with-it musicians.

PHYLLIS NEWMAN who is married to Broadway lyricist Adolph Green, stars as a Jewish widow in the rival of A Majority of One which opened last week at the Jewish Repertory Theater. The play written by Leonard Spigelgass, was first produced in 1959. Newman first appeared on Broadway in the 1953 musical Wish You Were Here. She took home a Tony award for her performance in Subways Are For Sleeping.

ART is being re-framed at the George Theater, Chicago. Tomorrow, January 26, replacing Michael Gross as Serge, the art collection who purchased an all white canvas painting, is Richard Pope, an actor with extensive Broadway and TV credits. Kevin Dobson, best known for his starring role on Kojak will be Marc, the man who vigorously challenges Serge's taste. Colin Stinton, who now plays Marc, will switch roles, taking over for Zach Grenier as Yvan, the man on the edge of a breakdown.


Remember to enter our free Valentine drawing for the piano telephone. When you dial, music plays "Do, Re, Mi..." Can be used as a piano. Hearing aid compatible. Just E-mail us your name and post office mailing address. One entry per person per week. See January 11th column for complete rules and regulations.

NEXT COLUMN: February 1, 1999
Copyright: January 25, 1999. All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary, Photographs and any graphics from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, utilized as leads, or used in any manner without permission, compensation and/or credit.
Link to Main Page

Laura Deni

For the snail mail address, please E-mail your request.