TOP HAT ARRANGER CHRIS WALKER TIPS HIS HAT
TO MUSICAL THEATRE
- - PRINCESS DIANA WALLPAPER AT KENSINGTON PALACE
- - BOXING GREAT ALI FETED AT
VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM GALA - -
NEW JAMES BOND GIRL STEALS OLYMPIC SHOW - -
8 GETS READING - - BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL - -
WILL THE SUNSHINE BOYS AND THE NUTTY PROFESSOR MAKE IT TO BROADWAY?
- - ALL THE WAY OPENS AT OSF - - DONATE . . . Scroll Down
Once upon a time a talented man - who now lives in a literary enchanted forest - had dreams of becoming a television director. One who helmed serious, important dramatic programs.
Then one night he took a pretty lady to dinner . . . .
Chris Walker has for over twenty years been associated with many West End and Broadway
shows including Godspell, Oliver!, Side by Side by Sondheim, My Fair Lady, Tomfoolery, Me and My Girl, Cabaret, Follies and Hot Shoe Shuffle, as either Musical Director or Orchestrator.
He was responsible for writing the dance arrangements for the Royal National
Theatre/Cameron Mackintosh production of My Fair Lady and was also the Musical
Director for the Donmar Warehouse Theatre’s production of Privates on Parade.
Other credits include writing the orchestrations and dance arrangements for the West End
Production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which ran at The London Palladium and
opened on Broadway in March 2005. He was also the Musical Director for the London
production of Ragtime.
He served as Orchestrator/Musical Supervisor in the Stephen Sondheim musical
It Together for Cameron Mackintosh at the Manhattan Theatre Club,
producer of the original London cast recordings of City Of Angels and
Carousel together with a national tour as Musical Director of The Sound
Tom Chambers is cast in the Astaire role of
Jerry Travers. Production photo
He currently serves as Orchestrator for the West End musical Top Hat.
Over lunch he spoke with Broadway To Vegas about his career and musical theatre in general.
"There is something about Broadway which is very special and I think it germinates
from the fact that Americans invented musical theatre. The expectations
in America are very high," he stated.
While it might appear that Broadway is dominated by shows which transferred from
the West End, Walker pointed out that, "before Lord Andrew (Lloyd Webber) came on the scene the reverse was true. I think it beginning to even out."
"Now I think it's gotten to the
point where no one really knows where musical theater is going, but I don't think
there is much difference between American and English audiences. The British
and the American ear are the same," he declared.
When questioned about cabaret he indicated that; "Cabaret has never flourished in England the same way it has in America."
The first thing a patron notices in entering a West End theatre is that there are no Playbills and no ushers who lead customers directly to their seats.
"No, no Playbills, and there are ushers, but they just point you in the right
direction. It's always been that way," he said indicating the absence of those American expected accompaniments are not cost saving devices.
The Top Hat ensemble. Production photo
"If you want a program you have to pay for it," he said referring to the
elaborate souvenir program booklets, which are also sold at Broadway
At Top Hat two monitors are attached to the balcony ledge with a camera fixed on the
conductor, helping the musical performers to stay in sync with the orchestra.
"The production pays for it, so you don't
see it at every show," he said indicated there would be no need for
monitors during the run of a play.
He admitted that, as in American, there are occasional problems between musicians and theatrical producers.
"The rules are slightly different," he explained. "In New York you have
theatre orchestra minimums. In New York if the show doesn't need that number of musicians
have to talk to the union about reducing the number. Whereas, in
England, the orchestra can be any size in any theatre."
The AFM has no control over musicians performing on the West End. "They
are a lot stricter in New York," he admitted. "In American there are a lot of branches.
In England it's a much smaller country, so there is just one."
As a union he indicated, "they aren't
as weak as Equity."
Top Hat is a singing and dancing delight. Bill Deamer is the choreographer. Production photo
"The main problem with musicians in general is that there is no pay scale," he charged.
"If you're a rank and file veteran musician, you don't necessarily get more
money than somebody who just came out of music school."
Top Hat utilizes 14 musicians "which is a good size for London," he stressed.
"It is augmented by a synthesizer. I don't think you can tell when you listen to it," he hastened to add.
Top Hat was a risky show to mount. The iconic movie starred Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - a one of a kind dancing duo.
"We had to make the decision early on that we weren't trying to imitate Fred and Ginger.
You can't compare or copy. We had to concentrate on the music. I think people know they
going to see Fred and Ginger," he emphasized.
I think that the theatre audiences for this show are slightly older," Walker mused. "Grandparents are bring their grandchildren. This show is introducing a whole new
generations to the music."
"The jokes are as corny as hell," he admitted.
Ricardo Afonso as Alberto Beddini does a hilarious strip. Production photo.
"One night somebody yelled from the front row 'take a little more off,'" laughed Walker.
favorite Strictly Come Dancing winner Tom Chambers is cast in the Astaire role of
Jerry Travers. According to Walker, Chambers is "a well known TV actor whose name sells
Even with a ticket selling name, a big plus is that it is cheaper to put the show on in
England than on Broadway.
The preparation is no less arduous.
"To prepare I watched the film - many times," Walker divulged. "One of the reasons that I was
so thrilled to do this show is because, when I was growing up, every
Saturday afternoon my mother and I used to watch
Fred Astaire movies."
"She was mental over him," he laughed. "She wanted
to be a dancer and would watch his movies and fantasize. My father,
unfortunately, couldn't put one foot in front of the other without knocking
something over. So, I've loved the music since I was a kid."
"My mother instilled in me a love for the theatre. It was a rare
privilege, really, to be working on this project."
The flick also featured few musical numbers. Set in 1935 it is antiquated
and the jokes have cobwebs.
Berlin songs fuel the production. Dan Jackson is the musical director. A cast album has been recorded and will be
released in two weeks. Production photo.
In this effort, the silly, musical delight of a show is fueled by the Berlin songs.
"The producer and the director saw places in the show where music was
needed," continued Walker. "They talked to people at the Irving Berlin and Rodger
and Hammerstein companies who worked their way through the Irving Berlin catalogue. They
came up with
perhaps three to four songs that could work in each scene. Then they sent them
to us. We went over them with the musicians and picked the songs that
worked the best."
Walker's biggest problem was "to take musical material which was written in
several decades and make it sound as if it came from the same period.
Berlin started writing during World War One and he lived to be 101, so he
wrote for over 60 years, in several periods. Their songs reflect the ages in which he was writing and there are several styles."
To make the musical selections decade friendly Walker didn't need approval.
"No, not really. There has to be a level of trust."
"When the show was on tour we had a different opening number which worked
partially well, called Don't Brush Me Off. That got the show off to
a reasonable start. But we wanted something stronger. So, we did ask if we
could use Puttin' On The Ritz. They didn't say 'yes' right away," he admitted.
"There were reservations because that song is so well known. They said to put together what we wanted to
do with it and they'd have a look. The Berlin daughters and Ted Chapin and Bruce Pomahac
from the Rodgers and Hammerstein office in New York, who administer the rights to the
Berlin catalogue, said it was great and we could use it. They have been very supportive."
Walker has produced and mastered a cast recording of Top Hat, which will hit the stores in August.
The musicians were picked by a committee, although they don't sound like the preverbal joke of a committee designed camel.
"There were a number of people who picked the musicians. I had some input,
There is a musical supervisor, the director, the conductor. We have a
He doesn't think England has any more of a good ole boy musical network than America.
"For musicians you're only as good as your last show. You don't get many
Walker who is a piano player, started out his career as an arranger. An
English major at Cambridge he intended to become a television director
specializing in drama.
"All through my university I wanted to be a television director. I was
an English graduate. I wanted to join a graduate director trainee scheme that
the BBC had."
During his second year in school, one of his school contemporaries, who
would eventually become a literary editor for a university publication,
dabbled in song writing. He found a producer who was not only willing
to pay for a recording session but to foot the bill for an arranger.
The friend asked Walker. "I didn't even know what to
charge," he confessed.
Then when he was in his final year, the BBC dealt a serous blow to his aspirations by
curtailing their director trainee program. At the same time, his friend's musical group
was asked to make another album. Walker was again hired to serve as a paid arranger.
"I got sucked into the theatre," he divulged.
"I took this lady to dinner.
Mary Adams, she was in a musical and asked if I'd ever thought about working in musical theatre and then wanted to know why not. It was a Thursday night and the musical she was in needed a musical director. I went in on Friday and auditioned. The musical was Godspell and I started work that Monday."
Eighteen months after university Walker was the Musical Director of a national tour of Godspell.
Over the years arranging has been influenced by the computer age.
Decades ago arrangers were limited to writing only on lined musical paper.
If the employer wanted last minute
changes the arranger could be up all night re-doing the lined paper.
who worked repeatedly with specific clients and got to know their temperament, would put
masking tape over the original ink notes and copy changes onto the masking tape. Then when the employer changed they mind and decided to go back to the original, all the arranger had to do was remove the masking tape.
"We used to do that, too," he said of the masking tape. "Now it is cut and paste.
It still takes the same amount of time to do the original but changing it, is easier.
I still do arranging a symphony in pencil and I do a through job. I write it all out
- how I feel it should be orchestrated. However, when I come to the changes, then it
is cut and paste."
He'd encouraged musicians to enter his profession, but "nobody ever really sets out to
become an arranger/orchestrator."
"I enjoy what I do, he emphasized. "I never thought I'd be able to do something
I enjoy as much as I do and get paid for it as
Walker is a charming, affable professional who doesn't display the type of star
ego that can enter a room before the person.
"It's very much a team effort," he reasoned. " If you go into rehearsals and
the only thing you hear are the clashing of egos, it's counter-productive - major counter-productive."
When Walker isn't writing notes for others to perform, he collects wine for others -
and himself -to drink. He's part of a
cooperative where members share the storage use of a temperature controlled
Happily married, he met his wife Annie over thirty years ago. He was the arranger for
Godspell and she came in as a sub French Horn player. When Chris walked
into the room Annie perked up but one of the musicians told her not to
bother to even look - that he had just come back from his honeymoon -
which he had.
Annie married another but the two worked together on many occasions and
became friends. Decades passed and both of their marriages ended. They
contemplated dating but she didn't want to run the risk of ruining a
good friendship. He persuaded her to give it a try.
He proposed in Brooklyn, getting down on one knee. Instead of
immediately saying 'yes', she asked him to get down on one knee again and do it all over, so
she could take a picture. He did.
They've been married for over a decade and live
in a house about 40 miles outside of London in Ashdown Forrest in Sussex,
which is where Winnie the Poo is set. A voracious reader, he
uses the train commute time to read.
So the big question is - Have you seen Winnie-the-Poo?
"No," he replied. Then, with a twinkle quickly added, "but I have seen Christopher Robin."
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ART AND ABOUT
DIANA WALLPAPER AT KENSINGTON PALACE
The wallpaper illustrations capture historic moments snapped by cameras including the birth of
Prince William and her famous portrait session with Mario Testino not long before her tragic death.
Photo by Laura Deni
The whimsical wallpaper made from the most famous photographs of Diana's life, transferred
into sketches by Julie Verhoeven, then printed as wallpaper by interiors firm Cole and Son. Photo by Laura Deni
is what people leave the palace talking about - that wallpaper.
The official title of the display is Diana: Glimpses Of A Modern Princess an exhibition in Apt 1A of formal gowns worn by Prince William's mother which has been designed by interior stylist Finola Inger.
While visitors do pay attention to the gowns, it is that wallpaper that is causing the buzz.
Not just wallpaper but wallpaper leading to a rest room and also to the dress collection. The area is so dimly lit that many are fixated upon the dresses and don't realize the wallpaper is even there.
Creating the lovely, colorful, faithful to the photographs sketches into wallpaper
is - odd. Why the glorious sketches weren't turned into silk scarves or jewelry pins
could have been sold to benefit Diana's charities (Kensington Palace has a gift shop
which sells just about everything else) or posters or even colorful lawn flags is puzzling.
In this whimsical display some of the most famous photographs of Diana's
life have been made into sketches by Julie Verhoeven, who was born in 1969 in Sevenoaks, Kent
and received her BTEC Fashion Diploma from Kent Institute of Art & Design. Her sketches
were then printed as wallpaper by interiors firm Cole and Son, who have a royal warrant from the Queen and are renowned for printing authentic period wallpapers.
The wallpaper illustration capture historic moments snapped by cameras
including Diana's engagement and wedding to Prince Charles, the birth of
Prince William and her famous portrait session with Mario Testino for Vanity Fair
in 1997, not long before her tragic death.
The dresses, which are displayed alongside fashion illustrations and photographs,
reflect some important and memorable moments in Diana’s public life.
The small but significant display includes the famous black strapless evening gown by
Emanuel which Diana worn on her first official engagement with the Prince of
Wales on March 9, 1981. This gown has never been on public display before.
There is also a stunning sleek black silk cocktail dress by Gianni Versace which she
wore to the 1995 premiere of Apollo 13.
There is an amazing ivory silk formal dinner dress by Catherine Walker, a fuchsia and
purple silk chiffon sari dress also by Walker and worn on a tour of
Thailand, and a black and white cocktail dress by Bellville Sassoon
complete the set.
The exhibition is curator by Deirdre Murphy and is only on display through October 28.
After that Queen Elizabeth reclaims Apt 1A at Kensington Palace, which has been operated by
Historic Royal Palaces which is also responsible for the upkeep of The Tower of London,
Kew Palace, The Banqueting House and Hampton Court.
In April 2003, responsibility of Apartments 1A and 3 - the latter used by
Princess Margaret as her office - were transferred from the Royal Household to
Historic Royal Palaces. It was opened to the public for the first time in
its 300 year history in 2004.
Princess Margaret was the last resident of the apartment, living there
until her death in February 2002, which marked the end of three centuries
of private residential use.
Her Majesty is taking steps to reclaim Apt 1A because she has given
what was the apartment lived in by her sister
Princess Margaret and her husband Lord Snowdon to Prince William and Kate.
More about those Apt 1A living quarters later.
BARRY MANILOW offered a
free ticket to see his show last night (July 28) at the Bridgestone Arena
in Nashville. All you had to do was donate a gently used musical
instrument - anything including a used kazoo or a dusty guitar. Manilow
wasn't picky. He accepted any type of a musical instrument.
All of the donated musical instruments will go to his charity The Manilow
Fund for Health and Hope's Manilow Music Project, which will distribute
the instruments to
music students in Nashville public schools. To kick off the drive Manilow
donated a Yamaha piano.
Most recently, he donated three truckloads of instruments to the students
in Joplin, Mo., who lost their school in a tornado. Manilow has also
donated trucks of instruments to schools in Las Vegas.
JOHN STAMOS currently
starring in The Best Man at the George Shoenfeld Theatre on
Broadway, is the national spokesperson for Project Cuddle, a non-profit
organization that offers safe and legal alternatives to baby abandonment,
rather than putting the baby in the trash or toilet. The agency runs
a confidential toll-free 24-hour hotline for pregnant girls and women
who are more than three months pregnant.
On September 7 a fund raiser will be held, with a limited number of
tickets to The Best Man being set aside to benefit Project Cuddle
in its fight to stop baby abandonment. Tickets must be purchased before
After the play an intimate Q&A with some of the cast members will take
On July 18, 2012 in Las Vegas a deceased
baby girl was found in a dumpster.
The following day it was announced that Las Vegas Homicide detectives
had located the juvenile mother who had concealed the pregnancy from
friends and family, and had given birth to the baby girl at home. For a
month she hid the body of the infant in her residence until placing it
into the dumpster. Whether the baby was born alive or stillborn wasn't
It is this type of tragic situation that Project Cuddle tries to
FORMER LAS VEGAN MUHAMMAD ALI
FETED AT PRE-OLYMPIC GALA
Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Photo: Laura Deni
Known as The Greatest, boxing legend Muhammad Ali was the center of attention last Wednesday, July 25, at a gala in his honor at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The black tie soirée attendees entered the building under an artistic canopy created from
208 suspended white traffic cones - part of the Heatherwick Studio: Designing the
Extraordinary exhibition - which is on display through September 30, 2012.
The A-listers walking under the creative plastic cones included
Rahman Ali, former boxer and younger brother of Muhammad Ali,
Formula One McLaren boss Ron Dennis, actress Rosario Dawson,
Former President Bush's niece, Lauren Bush and her husband David Lauren,
son of Ralph Lauren who designed the Team USA Olympic uniforms,
Lily Becker in a captivating, strapless, purple draped Grecian inspired outfit
and Boris Becker, Lady Victoria Hervy in a backless and
boxer Wladimir Klitschko, Sir Bob Geldolf, British Formula One driver
Lewis Hamilton who tweeted photos of Ali during the ceremony as the pair
shared the same table, Meredith Ostrom in a plunging neckline silver gown,
Jemima Kahn, dapper Christopher Lee with a walking stick,
Colin Jackson, Ron Dennis, Annabelle Wallis, and Nancy Dell'olio in a
silver halter top gown.
208 suspended white traffic cones create the Victoria & Albert Museum canopy.
Photo: Laura Deni
The evening commenced with a reception in one of London’s most beautiful gardens and
was followed by a black-tie Gala dinner and ceremony in the prestigious Raphael
Gallery which houses some of the most important surviving examples of Renaissance
art in the world including seven Raphael cartoons dating back to 1516.
It's status to hold an event at the V&A where Assistant Press Officer Elinor Hughes
told Broadway To
Vegas, "We are extremely careful that such happenings do not pose any threat to the works
or fabric of the building."
A far cry from the man who grew up in the 1940s with
the basic 8 color Crayola box not the 1949 rich kid's box of 48 shades and hues.
All of Ali's shades and hues were toasted at the benefit where table prices ranged from $23,280 to $155,000 with individual tickets
purchased at prices ranging $3,900 to $15,520.
Raphael Gallery in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London set for a banquet.
Photo: White Light. Photography by James McKenzie
Those at the $155,000 table were promised an introduction to Ali
and having their picture taken with
the boxing legend.
Ali wore a black suit with a open-collar white shirt, and sat beside his wife Lonnie.
Also at the Ali table were Boris Becker, actor Sir Christopher Lee; Lewis Hamilton, accompanied by his mother and
father; Bob Geldof, and the current IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko.
As the guests ate dinner, Ali was introduced by Sir David Frost, who interviewed the boxer in 1974. Ali who arrived in a wheelchair briefly stood to wave to the
The evening celebrated Ali's Six Core values as they relate to the Olympic ideals:
respect, confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and spirituality.
The boxer who famously 'floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee' is fighting Parkinson's
After dinner, the guests bid for lots in an auction to raise money for the Muhammad Ali Foundation and Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease.
Winning bids included $19,000 for Olympics opening ceremony tickets, $31,500 for earrings designed by Angelina Jolie and Robert Procop, $33,000 for a tennis lesson with Becker and $79.000 for a weekend of driving with Hamilton.
Ali won gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics when he was known as Cassius Clay, Jr. The boxer
went on to become the first and only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.
His record includes 61 title fights, with 56 winds, 37 of those by knock outs.
WONDERFULLY QUIRKY OLYMPIC
CEREMONY FEATURED NEW BOND GIRL
Daniel Craig as James Bond and Queen Elizabeth as the latest Bond Girl in a scene shot at Buckingham Palace.
Nobody ever thought it was going to be easy - following the stunning Olympic Opening Ceremony
put on four years ago in Beijing by House of Flying Daggers director
Many wouldn't even have attempted the task.
Danny Boyle, the English director
of Trainspotting and the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire
not only took on the challenge, but got it
right when he created and directed the Opening Ceremony for the London
He didn't attempt to imitate. He went original. He did quirky and he made the British proud.
A casting coup was co-starring Daniel Craig as James Bond
and Queen Elizabeth as his latest Bond Girl in a production entitled On
Her Majesty's Service.
With her corgie dogs Monty and Holly serving as background extras, Her Majesty displayed
a sense of humor and a natural flare for acting in scenes shot at
Buckingham Palace last March and April. We don't know if this part qualifies her for her SAG
card, but she did steal the show.
It was also buzzed about that the fledgling actress did her scenes
in one take.
As is customary, a stunt double was used during the helicopter skydiving
scene. Then the real deal appeared at the Olympic Games wearing the same
gorgeous peach satin lace dress she was wearing during the Buckingham
The crowd howled and cheered.
Michelle Obama greets Kate, Duchess of Cambridge at a pre-Olympic Buckingham Palace reception. Photo:
United States First Lady Michelle Obama and US Ambassador to the UK, Louis
Susman attended a reception at Buckingham Palace for Heads of State and
Government prior to the opening ceremony.
Mrs. O wore a white viscose techno
crepe tailored jacket with overlapped side panels and silver embroidery
from the J. Mendel 2013 Resort collection, along with a J. Mendel ivory
silk satin faced chiffon pleated skirt, accessorizing with metallic pewter
pointed toe pumps.
She was greeted by Queen Elizabeth who appeared in a
pale blue dress, accessorizing with white gloves, pearl necklace and
earrings and a brooch over the left shoulder as well as a black handbag
and matching black leather pumps.
The First Lady and Ambassador Susman also met Prince William and
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who wore a pale blue grey belted long
sleeved coat dress by Christopher Kane.
Prince Harry, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex and Princess Beatrice were
Mrs. Obama embarrassed neither herself nor her country.
Not faring as well - Mitt Romney who should have acted like a polite guest
in another country, rather than voicing opinions about the British
ability to prepare for the Olympics.
DANNY DE VITO PLAYS IT COY WHILE
JERRY LEWIS COMES ON STRONG
Two veteran performers - Danny DeVito and Jerry Lewis - may be headed towards Broadway.
Lewis makes no bones about it - that's his goal, while DeVito is playing it coy.
DeVito recently made his West End acting debut co-starring with Richard Griffiths in
Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, (which closed July 28) at the Savoy Theatre.
Directed by Thea Sharrock, the excellent acting gave life to Simon's script -
touching, funny, entertaining.
Seen in London, curmudgeon DeVito and British favorite Griffiths were a perfect match. Whispers immediately circulated that the production would transfer to The Great White Way, which would be a Broadway debut for De Vito, known for his television and movie roles.
Getting Richard Griffiths to transfer over would take permission.
Then there is the issue of the play. It's not flashy or high tech. It's about getting past your prime, egos and needing a purpose. It's about half remembered old issues.
Broadway is dominated by productions where the sets and special effects get star billing.
In The Sunshine Boys, comedians Willie Clark and Al Lewis aka The Sunshine Boys haven’t spoken to each other in years. When CBS call for the vaudevillian greats to be re-united for a nostalgic History of Comedy, past grudges resurface as they take center stage once more.
The Sunshine Boys premiered on Broadway in 1972. Directed by Alan Arkin, the show starred Jack Albertson as Willie Clark and Sam Levene as Al Lewis. The show received three Tony nominations: Best Play, Best Director, and Best Actor in Play Jack Albertson.
It was revived on Broadway in 1996. Directed by John Tillinger, the revival starred Jack Klugman as Clark and Tony Randall as Lewis.
An MGM movie adaptation of The Sunshine Boys was released in 1975 starring Walter Matthau as Clark and George Burns as Lewis.
Shouting loud and clear that Broadway is in his cross-hairs is Jerry Lewis who is
making his stage directing debut helming The Nutty Professor at the Tennessee
Performing Arts Center in Nashville.
Broadway To Vegas has not seen a performance of The Nutty Professor,
but the fact that Lewis has a musical version of his hit movie mounted has proved his point - with talent and
tenacity - he did it.
Lewis has never kept it secret that he wants this show on Broadway. His
biggest problem was getting it produced anywhere. The number of
venues which turned down buying into this effort may have established a
Undaunted, Lewis, 86, charged onward - although in a motorized
The production stars Michael Andrew as the awkward professor Julius Kelp and Marissa McGowan as student Stella Purdy.
McGowan originated roles in Bonnie & Clyde and the revival of A Little
Night Music on Broadway, as well
as performed Eponine and Cosette in the revival and national tour of Les
The stage version of The Nutty Professor is the love child of Andrew who has protected and nurtured the project from the beginning. He is the one who brought it to Lewis, basically telling the iconic performer that it was his creation although
Andrew was raising it in a different theatrical religion - the stage.
The plotline stays faithful to the 1963
film - Julius Kelp,
creates a potion that turns him into the smooth talking - albeit obnoxious -Buddy Love to gain Purdy's attention.
The production has some excellent support beams. Marvin Hamlisch
wrote close to
20 songs for this musical. Rupert Holmes contributed the
musical book and lyrics.
Currently in previews, the musical officially opens July 31. Lewis will be in the audience but his vision is fixed on Broadway.
SPREADING THE WORD
JONATHAN MARTIN who
spent four years with the Charlotte Symphony, after serving as general
manager of the Cleveland Orchestra has been
named to lead the Dallas Symphony Orchestra as president and CEO,
effective in early September. Terms of the five-year agreement were not
Martin replaces David Hyslop, who has been Dallas Symphony Orchestra's
interim president and CEO since May 2011.
BONNIE FRANKLIN who
debuted on Broadway in 1970 in the musical Applause, earning a
Tony Award nomination and has extensive stage credits is
best known for her portrayal of divorced mother Ann Romano on the
television sitcom One Day at a Time 1975-1984. The talented lady
has been added to the cast of the soap The Young and the Restless.
The episodes are set to be broadcast in August. The actress is cast as
a nun, Sister Celeste, who comes to the assistance of Victor Newman who
is portrayed by actor Eric Braeden.
THE OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL with license from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) and Broadway Impact, will stage a one-night-only reading of 8, a play chronicling the historic trial in the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black.
The reading will be held at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, August 5 in the New Theatre. Tickets are $5.00 and will go to support the American Foundation for Equal rights.
The production will be followed by a talkback where cast and audience members can discuss the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial. AFER Plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier will be present on the panel.
The OSF cast features: Richard Howard, Cristofer Jean, Jackie Katzman, Christopher Livingston, Jadele McPherson, DeLanna Studi, Lisa Tejero and Matthew Whitfield.
8 is an account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry. 8 is based on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.
8 had its Broadway world premiere on September 19, 2011, at the sold-out Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City. The production brought in over $1 million to support AFER’s efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality.
8 had its West Coast premiere reading at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on March 3, 2012, in Los Angeles. The reading featured an all-star cast led by Golden Globe Award-winner and Academy and Emmy Award-nominee Brad Pitt, Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee George Clooney and Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Martin Sheen. That benefit reading was directed by AFER Founding Board Member Rob Reiner, and raised more than $2 million for the fight to secure full federal marriage equality.
On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark decision upholding the historic August 2010 ruling of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit concluded:
“Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”
ALL THE WAY
President Lyndon Baines Johnson (Jack Willis, foreground) and Senator
Hubert Humphrey (Peter Frechette) watch the latest news about Freedom
events in Mississippi during the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way. Photo: Jenny Graham/Oregon Shakespeare Festival
a new play
by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan. The world premiere is
directed by Bill Rauch, OSF artistic director.
This is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's fourth commission from
American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle.
According to the production: "In 1964, the year that LBJ is looking
toward an election, he has also dedicated himself to the passage of the
Civil Rights legislation that has languished in Congress, stirring the
hopes, passions and fears of a country headed toward monumental
Pushing the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress, in an
election year no less, calls for hard-core politicking, complete with
egos, intrigue and uneasy alliances.
The cast of 17 takes on 61 named/speaking roles and an additional 40
non-speaking roles. Jack Willis plays President Lyndon Baines Johnson and
Kenajuan Bentley plays the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Other cast members
include Richard Elmore as J. Edgar Hoover, Mark Murphey as Robert
McNamara, Jonathan Haugen as Gov. George Wallace, Peter Frechette as Sen.
Hubert Humphrey, David Kelly as Sen. Everett Dirksen, Douglas Rowe as Sen.
Richard Russell, Christopher Liam Moore as Walter Jenkins, Daniel T.
Parker as Stanley Levison, Tyrone Wilson as Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Derrick
Lee Weeden as Roy Wilkins, Kevin Kenerly as Bob Moses, Wayne T. Carr as
Stokely Carmichael, Terri McMahon as Lady Bird Johnson, Erica Sullivan as
Lurleen Wallace and Gina Daniels as Coretta Scott King.
All the Way is staged in repertory with another American
Revolutions commission, Party People, a "highly theatrical
production [that] uses music, poetry and dance to tell stories of the work
and politics of the Black Panthers and Young Lords, parties that emerged
in the mid to late-1960s."
The creative team for includes scenic designer Christopher Acebo, costume
designer Deborah M. Dryden, lighting designer Mark McCullough, projections
designer Shawn Sagady and original music and sound designer Paul James
Prendergast. Tom Bryant is dramaturg and Rebecca Clark Carey is voice and
text director. Emily Sophia Knapp is associate director.
The last of the 11 full productions of this year's season, runs in rep
though November 3 at Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Angus Bowmer Theatre
in Ashland, OR.
BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL
a new Broadway musical comedy with a libretto by Tony Award winner Jeff
Whitty, music and lyrics by Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel
Miranda, music by Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt and
lyrics by Broadway lyricist Amanda Green.
Directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler.
Bring It On:The Musical "tells the story of the challenges and
unexpected bonds formed through the thrill of extreme competition. With a
colorful crew of characters, an exciting fresh sound and explosive dance
with aerial stunts, this hilariously universal story is sure to be
everything you hoped for and nothing like you expected."
Starring Taylor Louderman and Adrienne Warren, and features Ryann
Redmond, Elle McLemore, Jason Gotay, Ariana DeBose, Gregory Haney, Neil
Haskell, Janet Krupin, Kate Rockwell, Nick Womack and an ensemble of 25,
including some of the nation's most skilled competitive cheerleaders with
over 25 national and 50 team titles in gymnastics and
The creative team includes David Korins (Sets) Andrea Lauer (Costumes),
Jason Lyons (Lighting), Brian Ronan (Sound), Jeff Sugg (Video), Charles G.
LaPointe (Hair), and music supervision by Tony and Grammy Award winner
Opens at the St. James Theatre in New York City on Wednesday, August
MIKE TYSON: UNDISPUTED TRUTH
the boxer's “raw” one-man show, which got its start in Las Vegas
opens at the Longacre Theatre for a limited run of six performances, starting July 31.
The mounting is directed by Spike Lee and was co-written by Tyson and his wife,
JOHN PIZZARELLI AND ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY appear at the Ravinia Festival Sunday, August 5.
Ravinia Park in Highland Park, IL.
performs at the CMA Songwriters Series on Tuesday, July 31 at the Royale
Nightclub in Boston, MA.
PAUL ANKA celebrates his birthday July 30 2012
by performing at the Starlite Festival in Marbella, Spain. On August 2 he'll be on stage at the Jardins De Cap Roig, Girona, Spain and on
August 4 he performs at the Club Lio in Ibiza, Spain.
AEROSMITH in the
spotlight on Wednesday, August 3, at the Pepsi Center in Denver. On
Saturday the show is at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA.
THE CANADIAN TENORS
will perform songs from their new album
and film a new PBS special in an afternoon show at The Smith Center in Las
Vegas on August 5.
THE EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE in Scotland begins August 3 and runs through August 27. The Edinburgh
Festival Fringe (The Fringe) is the world's largest arts festival, with
the 2012 event spanning 25 days totalling over 2695 shows from 47
SHERMAN HEMSLEY the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actor,
most famous for his role as George Jefferson on the television series
All in the Family and The Jeffersions died on July 24, 2012 at his home in Texas. He
He made his Broadway debut in Purlie and toured with the show for a year.
In the summer of 1972 he joined the Vinnette Carroll musical Sorry, I
Can't Cope ensemble in Toronto, followed a month later in the American
Conservatory Theatre production at the Geary Theatre. In this production
with arrangement with Edward Padula & Arch Lusterg with music and lyrics
by Micki Grant had Hemsley in Act I performing the solo Lookin' Over From
Your Side and in Act II Sermon.
While Hemsley was on Broadway with Purlie, Norman Lear called him in 1971
to play the role of George Jefferson on his burgeoning new sitcom, All in
the Family. Hemsley was reluctant to leave his theatre role, but Lear told
him that he would hold the role open for him. Hemsley joined the cast two
In 1986 he starred in Norman, Is That You? at what was then the
Hacienda Hotel in Las Vegas. Hemsley also served as host to three up-and-coming stand-up comics in a
Comedy Jackpot special taped at the Sahara Hotel.
There are no close survivors.
Next Column: August 5, 2012
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