Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: March 5, 2017
By: Laura Deni


Ian Fleming enjoyed swimming naked, bedding woman, drinking, smoking, listening to Hawaiian music and wanted to change the alphabet.
James Bond creator Ian Fleming was a womanizer who wanted to change the alphabet.


Fleming wrote the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, at the mid-life age of 44 and went on to write books which racked up sales of over 100 million worldwide.

The first Bond film, Dr No was released in 1962 and began one of the greatest accomplishments in film history - a franchise that would have ladies drooling over - and men wishing they were - Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig as the dapper Bond - James Bond.

Fleming created Bond to resemble the composer, singer and actor Hoagy Carmichael. It is reported that Fleming also endowed Bond with many of his own traits, including an identical golf handicap, his preference for scrambled eggs, the love of gambling, and use of the same brand of toiletries.

Bond was always surrounded by a host of famous beauties such as Ursula Andress, Jane Seymour, Honor Blackman, Halle Berry and Eva Green, known as the Bond Girls.

The first ever Bond girl, Vesper Lynd of Casino Royale, was named after a cocktail - a mix of frozen rum, fruit and herbs - which Flaming had enjoyed in Jamaica. Two of his other famous heroines, Solitaire from Live and Let Die, and Domino from Thunderball, are named after rare Jamaican birds.

The most recent Bond Girl was Queen Elizabeth II who made her debut opposite Daniel Craig during the 2012 Olympic ceremonies. She wasn't given a Bond named, although she could have been dubbed Royal Gold.

When he wasn't putting pen to paper Fleming was engaged in sexual pursuits which tripped up his plans to add a 27th letter to the alphabet.

He was serious about re-doing the alphabet and we'll get to that in a moment.

Most of Fleming's writing was done in an 18th-century, 5-bedroom Jamaican plantation which was Fleming's retreat. It's where he wrote more than a dozen novels and short stories including the children's book Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang which was published in October 1964, two months after his death. The book would inspire the 1968 Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews film.

When not writing, he enjoyed swimming naked, bedding woman, drinking, smoking and listening to Hawaiian music - and - apparently, trying to reinvent the alphabet.

In 1952, the year Casino Royale was first published Fleming launched a quarterly magazine called The Book Collector. It permitted Fleming to write what he pleased, featuring news, reviews, obituaries, and everything else in between. Fleming was the journal's principal shareholder from 1955 until his death in 1964. Fleming’s friend John Hayward, friend and muse to famed poet T.S. Eliot served as the original editor.

The journal has had only four editors since it was founded. After the death in 1965 of John Hayward, it was edited for fifty years by Nicolas Barker, sometime publisher and first head of conservation at the British Library. In 2015 he stepped down and James Fergusson, founding Obituaries Editor of The Independent, 1986-2007, took his place.

Recently it was purchased by Fleming's nephew James Fleming. The Book Collector has been redesigned, and now comes full circle with its March 2017 special issue, which is on Fleming himself. Featured articles include:

James Bond Invades America, a country Fleming reportedly held in disdain.

According to historical accounts, Fleming called America: “A society that fails to establish a clear moral definition of right and wrong," and opined that Americans were “Totally unprepared to rule the world that is now theirs.”

According to the 007 Museum, during the Cuban missile crisis, Fleming offered President Kennedy advice on how to handle the escalating situation.

Fleming had served in the British military as a strategist, devising inventive ways for British Intelligence to operate. His most famous idea was Operation Mincemeat, in which a corpse dressed up as a British Major with fake Allied-invasion plans was thrown into the ocean to be washed up on shore, and found by Nazi-allied Spanish soldiers. The news was relayed to Nazi leadership, who were initially skeptical. Not wanting to take any risks, they adjusted their defensive strategy to the fake invasion plans. It was enough of a distraction to make the Allied invasion of Sicily a success.

Thus, Fleming's opinions were taken seriously - or not.

Nobody was sure if Fleming was joking, but during a meeting between Ian Fleming and JFK in 1960, Fleming advised taking advantage of Cuban superstitions through religious propaganda. He suggested that a huge cross be projected into the night sky from Guantanamo Bay. That would cause the Cubans to gaze heavenward and be distracted. Air Force General Edward Lansdale, who helped lead The Cuban Project's operations, adopted this idea into a plan that called for propaganda to be distributed announcing the second coming of Christ, while simultaneously publicizing Fidel Castro as the anti-Christ. However, the plan was never implemented.

On a more humorous note, according to the 007 Museum, when Fleming was at a Washington, DC dinner attended by JFK he told Kennedy that he had a "way to get rid of Fidel Castro, the Communist leader of Cuba. This piqued Kennedy's interest, since Castro had been a thorn in the side of Kennedy. Fleming said that Castro's beard was the key . . . It was his trademark. So, Fleming said that the U.S. should announce that they found that beards attract radioactivity. Any person wearing a beard could become radioactive himself as well as sterile."

Kennedy laughed.

Other articles in the March 2017 issue of The Book Collector are Collecting Ian Fleming, and You Only Live Twice, the dust-wrapper. The issue also resurrects a Fleming-conceived contest to come up with a 27th letter of the alphabet.

In 1947, while assisting his friend Robert Harling at the typographical magazine Alphabet & Image, Ian Fleming conceived the idea of a competition for the best interpretation of a 27th letter of the alphabet.

For nitpickers out there - According to Mental Floss: "By the early nineteenth century, & was the 27th letter in the alphabet, coming right after Z. Without a title yet, it was still read as just "and," which made reciting the end of the alphabet a little confusing—"X, Y, Z and and." Kids starting inserting the phrase "and per se and" to distinguish it, and over time, this all got blended together to sound more and more like "ampersand." The mondegreen name for the centuries old symbol first appeared in the dictionary in 1837."

The 2017 competition follows the Fleming rules - the letter must conform to the alphabet as known in English-writing countries and must represent a recognized sound or combination of sounds. Further, each entry must display merit in the following fields:

· decorative
· philological
· typographical

Fleming had decided that the entries would be judged by him alone and the winner would receive a book token to the princely sum of five guineas. Unfortunately he was unable to judge the competition - he was pursuing his future wife in Jamaica instead.

That would have been Ann Charteris who was married to her first husband when she began an affair with Fleming. When her husband died in World War II, she expected to marry Fleming, but he dawdled. She reacted to being stalled by marrying the second Viscount Rothermere on June 28, 1945 - while continuing her affair with Fleming. She traveled to Jamaica to see Fleming under the pretext of visiting his friend and neighbor Noël Coward.

Though married to Lord Rothermere she gave birth to Fleming's daughter, Mary, who was stillborn. When Lord Rothermere finally figured out what was going on between his wife and Fleming he divorced her in 1951.

Ann and Fleming married on March 24, 1952 in Jamaica, shortly before their son Caspar was born in August. Both Fleming and Ann had affairs during their marriage, she, most notably, with Labour Party politician Roy Jenkins and it is reported that she carried on an life-long affair with Hugh Gaitskell, the leader of the Labour Party.

Not to be outdone, Fleming had a long-term affair in Jamaica with one of his neighbors, Blanche Blackwell, considered the love of Ian Fleming's later life, becoming the James Bond author's muse and the inspiration for the character Pussy Galore in Goldfinger.

She is also the mother of Chris Blackwell (fraternally related to the Cross and Blackwell food dynasty) who founded Island Records on May 22, 1959. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 where he was credited as "the single person most responsible for turning the world on to reggae music." Turning 80 on June 22, 2017, he is credited with "forg(ing) the careers of Bob Marley, Grace Jones and U2." He also created Outpost a Jamaican resorts and hotel company.

That's why Fleming dropped out of judging his own 27th alphabet creation contest. He was too busy screwing around.

This time entries will be judged by a panel of five judges selected in part from The Book Collector's editorial team, the final decision being made by Sir Peter Blake.

James Fleming, Ian's nephew says: “I was intrigued to hear about the alphabet competition and I thought it was a good idea to give this another go. Creative heads don't need a professional qualification in order to enter. Anyone with an idea as to how the English language could be improved in a way that complies with the competition rules can take part world-wide.

"Last time submissions included '-sion', 'th' and 'st', but alternatives are yours to explore. Given that most people embrace the fast moving world of social media, perhaps this time the new letter will become part of the alphabet.”

The competition will open on March 15, 2017 and close on April 25, 2017, and the winner will be announced at the ABA Olympia Book Fair on June 2, 2017. The winner will be awarded £250 plus a modest trophy and The Book Collector will donate £500 to a registered charity.

The rules are:
· The letter must be relevant to the Latin alphabet as used by English-speakers and to current diction. The sounds represented by other alphabets are precluded.
· Characters from the English Pronouncing Dictionary will not be considered.
· The 27th letter must fulfill a distinct purpose that the present alphabet lacks.
· Entrants may come from any country and must have reached the age of sixteen. Entrance is free. Only one submission per applicant will be considered. Automated entries, bulk entries and third party entries will be disqualified.
· The judges' decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.
· The judges will be headed by Professor Phil Cleaver, Professor in the Creative Industry at Middlesex University; James Fergusson, Editor of The Book Collector; Ian's nephew, the author Fergus Fleming, and Lilian Lindblom Smith, Head of Graphic Design at Middlesex University. The final selection will be made independently by Sir Peter Blake.

As for Fleming, the son of a Conservative MP, who was educated at Eton and Sandhurst before pursuing careers as as a journalist and military intelligence officer, he died suddenly of a heart attack in the early hours of August 12, 1964. It was his son Caspar’s 12th birthday. On October 1975, Caspar, aged 23, committed suicide by drug overdose and was buried with his father. In 1991 Fleming's widow, Ann Charteris, died and was buried with her husband and their son.

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1930’s Burmese ruby and diamond cluster panel necklace by Cartier, New York.
a perfect opportunity to pick up trinkets to place in Easter baskets; a way to spend your anticipated income tax refund - or - let's face it, you're worth it - buy something for yourself.

Besides with one pound equaling only around $1.24 it's almost bargain basement shopping.

Go on, break open that piggy bank.

You don't have a piggy bank? Then just look and drool.

Silver dealer Koopman Rare Art will exhibit silver masterpieces including a highly important, monumental three-piece centerpiece, dated 1817 (asking price £750,000 or about $928,242.75), together with superb pair of George III four-light candelabra, dated 1811 both by virtuoso silversmith Paul Storr (asking price £390,000 or about $482,700.14 ).

Among the precious objects dealer S.J. Phillips Ltd will exhibit include a superlative 1930’s Burmese ruby and diamond cluster panel necklace by Cartier, New York.

The necklace features five dominant, graduated and articulated oblong panels, set with a luscious profusion of rubies and diamonds, all lavishly interspersed with connecting links of yet more rubies and diamonds. The design curves perfectly with the lie of the necklace, whilst the great variety of different cuts of stone used from brilliant, round, square, baguette, kite and trapezium, as well as sugar-loaf and cabochon, combine to catch the light and sparkle with such intensity when worn. This is an exceptional example of the outstanding craftsmanship for which Cartier, in the first half of the 20th century, was so renowned (asking price: £4,200,000 or about $5,198,409.40).

It's so sad that the necklace is the wrong size for my neck.

Also made in New York, in around 1927, is a bracelet made by American jeweler Raymond Yard and inspired by Cartier’s iconic tutti-frutti bracelet, the first of which was unveiled by Cartier at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris and instantly caused a stir. Not surprisingly other jewelers were quick to offer their own interpretations. Raymond Yard’s bracelet has two principal round cabochon emerald and diamond clusters interspersed with tutti-frutti leaf carved gems and white and yellow colored diamonds. This classic Art-Deco design, which was hugely popular in the 1920s and into the 30s, is even more desirable today (asking price: £800,000 or about $990,179.43 ).

For those on a budget, consider this - an exquisite early 20th century plique à jour enamel and diamond butterfly brooch by Boucheron. The butterfly has long been a favorite motif of the jeweler and the Paris firm of Boucheron excelled in creating some of the most exotic and imaginative butterfly brooches. The design for this particularly delicate butterfly exists in the archives of Boucheron and dates the piece to 1907. The markings of the butterfly’s wings are picked out in delicate pastel tones in shades of blue and pink and defined by lines of grain-set diamonds. The combination of the striking iridescent enamel and the wings being mounted en tremblant all heighten the effect of shimmering movement. A one-off commission, this butterfly brooch is clearly the work of one of Maison Boucheron’s most highly skilled master enamelers (asking price only: £190,000 or about $235,137.58).

Queen Charlotte, by Johann Joseph Zoffany 1771, Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
This exhibition explores the story of three remarkable German princesses: Caroline of Ansbach, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, and Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz, all of whom married into the British royal family in the eighteenth century. Caroline and Charlotte became queens consort to George II and George III respectively; Princess Augusta never achieved this distinction but held the titles of Princess of Wales and Princess Dowager, and was mother to King George III.

Through their wide-ranging intellectual, social, and political interests, Caroline, Augusta, and Charlotte helped to shape court culture and the age in which they lived, and would leave a lasting legacy. They encouraged the greatest philosophers, scientists, artists, and architects of the day; and they brought art, music, dance, enlightened conversation, and experimentation into the palaces and royal gardens, and supported industry, trade, and imperial ambition.

The exhibition includes many important works of art and manufacture, which belonged to these women and their families, or were commissioned by them. Works by Hans Holbein, William Kent, Allan Ramsay, Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs, Thomas Gainsborough, Johan Zoffany, and many more are on display. It also features a new work by the artist Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA) (b. 1962) specifically for this exhibition.

The lead curator is Joanna Marschner, Senior Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, assisted by Samantha Howard, Curatorial Assistant. The organizing curator at the Center is Amy Meyers, Director, who is assisted by Lisa Ford, Assistant Director of Research; Glenn Adamson, Senior Research Associate; and Tyler Griffith, Postdoctoral Research Associate.

The exhibition can be enjoyed at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut through April 30, 2017 before arriving at Kensington Palace in London where the exhibit will be staged June 23 – November 3, 2017.


THE ELTON JOHN AIDS FOUNDATION'S 25th annual Academy Awards Viewing Party raised a record-breaking $7 million for the global effort to end AIDS.

BEN VEREEN the Tony Award winning actor, dancer and singer will headline the 37th annual Dominican University Gala March 11 at the Lund Auditorium in River Forrest, IL.

Vereen will be performing music from his storied Broadway career.

Dominican University’s Annual Trustee Benefit Concert and Gala raises much-needed scholarship support, celebrates world-class artists, and honors those who champion the performing arts in the Chicago metropolitan area.


Stephen Colbert and Aubrey Plaza holding Molly and Luna. Photo: CBS/North Shore Animal League.
puppy adoption on the Thursday, February 23, 2017 Late Show With Steven Colbert Rescue Dog Rescue segment, featured a bevy of adorable, adoptable puppies hawked by Colbert and former Parks and Recreation actress Aubrey Plaza. The pups were each presented in a stream of elaborate lies. “Because if you’re not willing to lie for an adorable puppy, then you belong in a shelter,” Colbert joked.

It worked.

The North Shore Animal League America told Broadway To Vegas that within hours of the show's airing, "We are thrilled to say all but one pup have found loving homes!"

Now, somebody get in there and give that remaining ball of fur a home. Also, the North Shore League has a lot of other dogs looking to become your best friend and secure confident. Want to be loved? Get a dog. People disappoint - dogs don't.

Love a pup but don't forget that old dogs need love, too.

North Shore Animal League is the world's largest no-kill rescue and adoption organization and has saved the lives of over 1 million dogs, cats, and puppies. If you don't live near the North League Animal League, don't despair, all across this country there are dogs looking for loving homes.

THE UNOFFICIAL HAMITOUR is the latest tour addition to the Broadway Up Close Walking Tours which welcomed its 10,000th tour-goer at the end of February 2017. Their brand-new walking tour is designed for all those obsessed with Hamilton: An American Musical or simply seeking to learn more about this cultural phenomenon and the man whose life inspired it.

The Unofficial Hamitour invites guests onto Alexander Hamilton's 1700s sidewalks and explores his legacy and historical sites from the musical. Packed with never-before-heard stories and secrets from the creation of the record-breaking musical, the half-mile, 1 h 45 min HamilTour begins at Stone Street and leads tour-goers to Fraunces Tavern, Bowling Green Park, 26 Broadway, the NY Stock Exchange / Wall Street, Federal Hall and Trinity Church, culminating at the grave-site of Alexander and Eliza Hamilton.

Each guide utilizes an iPad featuring rare photos that bring Hamilton's New York City to life. Tour-goers also watch exclusive video clips of original cast members sharing their experiences working on the show and have the opportunity to view rarely seen set designs and prop sketches bringing the artistry of the musical to life. All tour-goers receive a Broadway Up Close HamilTour souvenir and a high-definition photo as a memento.

Public tours take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Private tours can be arranged for any date and time.

I've taken part in a Broadway Up Close Walking Tour and highly recommend them. See Broadway To Vegas column of May 15, 2016.

GROUNDHOG DAY CAST has spent this week-end in the studio to begin work on recording the new album, which will be released this spring. Masterworks Broadway and Broadway Records proudly announce their partnership with Groundhog Day The Musical for this original Broadway cast album. The album will be produced by Chris Nightingale, Tim Minchin, and Michael Croiter. The Broadway premiere of Groundhog Day, the new musical featuring music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and a book by Danny Rubin, and directed by Matthew Warchus, is now in rehearsals ahead of previews beginning Thursday, March 16, at the August Wilson Theatre in New York City. Opening night is set for Monday, April 17.

Groundhog Day cast album features Andy Karl, who stars as Phil Connors in the Broadway production, and newcomer Barrett Doss as Rita Hanson. The ensemble cast features Rebecca Faulkenberry, John Sanders, Andrew Call, Raymond J. Lee, Heather Ayers, Kevin Bernard, Gerard Canonico, Rheaume Crenshaw, Michael Fatica, Katy Geraghty, Camden Gonzales, Jordan Grubb, Taylor Iman Jones, Tari Kelly, Josh Lamon, Joseph Medeiros, Sean Montgomery, William Parry, Jenna Rubaii, Vishal Vaidya, Travis Waldschmidt, and Natalie Wisdom.

OPERATION: ROMANOV Join the World War I Museum for their latest offering in the Operation series, Operation: Romanov! At the centennial of the Russian Revolution, imbibe in a vodka infused revolutionary look at prohibition in Russia during WWI and the rise of local distilleries.

Join Museum President and CEO Dr. Matthew Naylor, author/historian Patricia Herlihy and Tom’s Town Distillery’s David Epstein in an evening with drinks.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at in the J.C. Nichols Auditorium at the World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO.

MELISSA GILBERT who, as a child, starred as Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. From 2009 to 2010, Gilbert appeared as Caroline "Ma" Ingalls in the touring production of Little House on the Prairie, the Musical. In 2012 she was a contestant on season fourteen of Dancing with the Stars. A former president of the Screen Actors Guild, Gilbert has spent the past few years suffering from a lot of pain associated with a broken back, which didn't sound like a lot of fun.

It appears that she's on the road to recovery, moving around and looking fabulous. She also knows a good recipe when she sees one. On her Twitter account she posted "Oscar night monkey cheese bread. Recipe courtesy of bonappetitmag . Soooooo yummy!"

I look it up, made it, and then - ate it. Melissa Gilbert is totally correct. That woman knows her monkey bread.

Timothy Busfield
Melissa Gilbert
Now a proud grandmother living in Howell, Michigan with her husband Timothy Busfield, both remain active in performing arts. On March 13 Gilbert and Busfield take part in the celebration of Minneapolis' Pantages Theatre 100th anniversary,

Hennepin Theatre Trust and the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) School of Fine Arts are partnering to present a performance of The 24 Hour Plays. This event brings together the extraordinary talent of local and nationally-known artists to create and perform brand-new theatrical works within 24 hours. Proceeds from the performance go to support Spotlight Education - the flagship education program of the Hannepin Theatre Trust that engages Minnesota high schools in the performing arts - and scholarships for students enrolled in the UMD School of Fine Arts.

Six Playwrights - Alan Berks, Julia Jordan, Heather Jean Meyer, Melanie Marnich, and Harrison David Rivers - Six Directors - Jamil Jude, Lauren Keating, Christy Montour-Larson, Peter Rothstein, and Bill Payne - 24 Actors and musical guest David Darrow create six new short plays in the course of a single day - and perform them in front of a live audience that night. All of the participants are volunteering their time and talent.

In addition to Gilbert and Busfield, actors on board include: Justin Kirk, Devin Kelley, Ryan McCartan, Sasha Andreev, Michelle Barber, Serena Brook, Michael Brindisi, Reese Britts, Warren C Bowles, Denzel Belin, Ann Michels, Kasano Mwanza, Tyler Michaels, Tod Petersen, Stacia Rice, Rachel Williams, Sally Wingert, Tony Vierling, and Osh Ghanimah, Michael Gruber, Hope Nordquist, and Kory Pullam.

If the last name Gilbert seems familiar, Melissa is the older sister of Sara Gilbert who, as a child, played Darlene Conner in the hit - and socially important - sitcom Rosanne. That show is significant because it was the first sitcom to feature a blue collar family with script themes based on everyday problems that lower middle class families' experience, while showing common sense problem solving and always family love and loyalty.

Sara grew up and developed The Talk chat show on which she appears. Whether she knows it or not, by being a daily member of the panel, and making comments which are always thoughtful and intelligent, the Yale graduate has made an important contribution to establishing that same sex couples can love, break-up, marry or re-marry and raise children - gracious! - just like everyone else. I'd speculate that she is the best mother, ever - although she probably doesn't make monkey cheese bread.

NATIONAL CHEESE DOODLE DAY takes place today, March 5. Tomorrow is National Oreo Day. March 8 is National Peanut Cluster Day and March 10 is National Ranch Dressing Day.


In June 2016 Luke Hsu, 26, won the 41st annual Houston Symphony Ima Hogg Competition, receiving a gold medal and $25,000 cash. He currently plays on a Joseph Gobbetti violin made in 1713, generously loaned by the Colburn Foundation. Luke currently resides in Boston, Massachusetts.
The foremost competition of its kind in the world, Windsor Festival International String Competition seeks out the exceptional string soloists of tomorrow. The 6th Windsor Festival International String Competition will take place March 12-18 2017 with Prince Edward in attendance on March 17.

The Festival welcomes all violinists, violists and cellists from every corner of the globe between the ages of 16 and 26 to who compete to win this prestigious competition and to launch their international career.

Semi-finalists travel to Windsor to participate in this competition, as well as associated concerts, master classes and schools visits to the heart of the local Windsor community.

The Festival simultaneously hosts the Berkshire Young Musician of the Year competition in partnership with Berkshire Maestros – enabling everyone to get involved and join us in discovering the stars of tomorrow and seeking out, nurturing, and inspiring today's young people.

The semi-finals take place in the historic Windsor Guildhall while the finals take place in Windsor Castle, which is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, and one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth.

The Windsor Festival International String Competition 2017 Semi-finalists were selected from over 170 applicants coming from over 44 countries of the world.

Nathan Meltzer, 16, studies with Itzhak Perlman and Li Lin at Juilliard Pre-College, where he is a Starling scholar. He joined the "Violin Virtuosi" at Indiana University in 2011, and entered the Perlman Music Program in 2013. Nathan plays an 1844 Italian violin by Johannes Pressenda on generous loan from Juilliard.
The semi-finalists are:

Karolina Errera, 23, (viola) from Russia
Rose Hsien, 23, (violin) from Taiwan
Luke Hsu, 26, (violin) from USA
Zornitsa Ilarionova, 24, (violin) from Bulgaria
Jonian Ilias Kadsha, 23, (violin) from Greece
Mon Puo Lee, 23, (cello) from Spain
Nathan Meltzer, 16, (violin) from USA
Arsenis Selalmazidis, 26, (violin) from Greece

Prizes for the competition are valued at over £20,000 ($25,000 approximately) with a unique opportunity for the First Prize Winner to return to Windsor to play a concerto with the world renowned Philharmonia Orchestra, during Windsor Festival in September and a fine bow from Bishop Instruments and Bows, as well as a solo recording opportunity with the Festival's recording partner Champs Hill Records.


Fifth and sixth from the right, The Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar and his wife in the reception line waiting to be greeted by Duchess Kate and then Prince William. Photo: Kensington Palace
Most people never receive an invitation to attend a party at Buckingham Palace, so The Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar can be forgiven for thinking it was a joke.

It wasn't.

Nayyar is the British-Indian actor who stars as Rajesh "Raj" Koothrappali in the hit television series. He and his wife model Neha Kapur, a former Miss India, attended the grandest of British royal events honoring The British year of saluting India. The glam event took place at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip serving as the hosts.

"It was overwhelming," Nayyar is quoted as saying. "The evening has just been overwhelming as I got to meet the Queen and to promote UK-Indian culture, which gives me so much pride. I did get to speak to the Queen," he told the press adding "The Queen is the Queen and has done such wonderful things for communities all over the world. Its not just the aura, it is what she has done for trade, building bridges, building relations. It can get lost sometimes in gossip magazines but the truth is that the good they do is remarkable. It is not just pomp and circumstances."

The actor was born in Hounslow, West London, before moving as a child to New Delhi with his parents. A graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he received a Master of Fine Arts in Acting. He now calls Los Angeles home. Thanks to his role on The Big Bang Theory, he was listed as third on the Forbes list of World’s Highest-Paid TV Actors for 2015 with earnings of $20 million.

An incredible projection of a moving Peacock totally covers the front of Buckingham Palace. The projection was designed to mark the start of the 2017 UK-India Year of Culture. Photo: The Kensington Palace.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip went all out for the party. Even the outside of Buckingham Palace was resplendent with the projection of a giant peacock - the national bird of India - covering the front side of the building. The artwork was a join commission by the British Council and the Indian High Commission.

The royals greeted a glittering line-up of high-profile sports stars, actors, musicians, politicians and diplomats at the festive affair, which was described as being "brought to life with the sights, smells and tastes of India."

Actress Ayesha Dharker, Indian cricket legend Kapil Dev, sitar player Anoushka Shankar – daughter of the legendary Ravi Shankar – and her husband, director Joe Wright, actresses Preeya Kalidas, Ayesha Dharker, and former EastEnders actress Nina Wadia were among those who attended. The royals included Prince William and his cousin Princess Eugenie and their uncle Prince Edward. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Alexandra and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent were also in attendance.

As to who wore what; Kate, The Duchess of Cambridge wore a mid-length, pleated, gold metallic and pink silk dress by the Canadian-Turkish designer Erdem, earrings by Indian designer Anita Dongre, who attended the party, and platinum lamé Oscar de la Renta stilettos. The Queen looked lovely in a purple Stewart Parvin dress and jacket woven with gold threads. Princess Eugenie selected a dignified long-sleeved black dress.

Guests sampled both British and Indian canapés created by Mark Flanagan, head chef at Buckingham Palace's kitchens, and Uday Salunkhe, executive chef at Veeraswamy, said to be the UK's oldest Indian restaurant, and Chef Ayetar Nayak who guided the crew of pastry chefs who spent six weeks creating the menu.

The team of 15 palace staff and five from the restaurant made almost 5,000 canapés for the guests.

A few of the types offer included Pineapple and Almond Halwa Tart with Raspberry - Raj puri which is vegetarian fried unleavened bread with yogurt and herbs - boondi chocolate rock, fried chickpea flour kernels covered in chocolate - Rosettes de Saumon Fume, Blinis au Citron - Miniature Venision Cottage Pie - Rhubarb and creme brulee tartlets - Paneer Square in Herb Crust described as a vegetarian homemade cheese in a Herb Crust - and Soya Gujjia which is a "brightly colored sweet dumpling with Spiced Soya Filling."


Sheryl Underwood
Sheryl Underwood can have a vulgar mouth which injects a strange sub-text into The Talk, the daytime panel television talk show, which specializes in discussing daily gossip headlines and celebrity interviews.

On Friday, February 24, in a conversation about extremely large individuals being asked to purchase two airplane seats instead of one, she let loose with an almost violent, vulgar tirade which resulted in her semi-standing, spewing forth so many forbidden words that the censor buzzer delivered multiple sounds.

I don't fill up an entire seat, but if I paid for the seat, I wouldn't want anyone else's body parts visiting. If you're too big to fit into one seat, either buy two seats or see if you fall into a handicapped category where you might be entitled to a more comfortable accommodation.

What The Talk was discussing isn't important. The issue is the use of vulgar language in any discussion during a daytime broadcast. What makes Underwood's vulgarity more offensive is that she frequently wraps herself in religious self-righteousness.

Vulgar language and religious proselytizing are generally considered mutually exclusive.

I don't know the woman. The impression she gives to viewers is that she seems to enjoy foul mouth speech. After the Friday melt down I deliberately made it a point to watch last Monday's show, to see if there was going to be an apology or an explanation. Neither. As expected, the panel discussed the Oscar debacle and Underwood felt compelled to say 'ass', which wasn't bleeped.

While I'm not able to watch the show on any kind of a regular basis, I managed to catch Thursday's, March 2, 2017 show in which Underwood uttered the word 'damn', which is no longer bleeped.

I don't mean to sound like a prude but there might be better word choices for The Talk, a daytime aired show whose big eared listeners may also include young children.

In the past I have seen the show when other panel members have cursed, most notably Sharon Osbourne who knows precisely what she is saying, usually using her vulgarity as a punctuation mark, or to emphasis what has just been said about a specific celebrity. She then either puts her hand over her mouth, or apologizes. Osbourne also acknowledges that she is on medication and has admitted her basic role on the panel is to "stir the pot".

Panelist Aisha Tyler can be an X-rated comedian who brilliantly knows how to compartmentalize her various roles - stand up comedian who can say what she wants on cable TV or in a comedy club while executing an excellent job of tackling serious dramatic parts, such as her reoccurring role on CSI Crime Scene Investigation. While I don't always agree with what she has said, as a panelist on The Talk, she usually knows how far to go and when to bite her lip or apologize.

While every member of that panel is entitled to their own, strong opinion on any of the discussion topics, Underwood tends to loudly, high-and-mighty preach, rather than express her views in a conversational tone. Coupled with vulgarity, that mode of speaking is off putting, especially when a comment about her religious beliefs has preceded or followed profanity.

In my opinion, The Talk, a well rehearsed show, is one of the most lawyered shows on CBS daytime television. Thus, if the powers that be didn't want Underwood using crude language they would have stopped her. Therefore, in a broad brush statement, while Americans, as a whole, have gotten ruder and cruder, it is disappointing that The Talk is beginning to give the impression of openly pandering for the lowest common denominator of viewers.

Underwood's propensity for vulgarity coupled with religious statements could also bring down The Talk - or guarantee that the person whose job is to man that censor button has job security.


GREY GARDENS IS FOR SALE that's the East Hampton house made famous by the former occupants Edith Bouvier Beale, better known as Little Edie, and her mother, known as Big Edie, the former socialites and relatives of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Their stories about living in that house were turned into the Broadway musical Grey Gardens. There was also an Albert and David Maysles 1975 documentary of the same name and a 2000 HBO movie.

The abode is owned by Sally Quinn, the widow of Ben Bradlee, of The Washington Post, bring down Nixon fame. Quinn bought the fixer upper from Little Edie in 1979 for $220,000. Quinn proceeded to fix it up. The results can be yours for $19.995 million. That half cent makes it sound so much cheaper than $20 million.

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER the two-time Tony and Oscar winner will receive the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television's Lifetime Achievement Award, at the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards, which will be broadcast on CBC March 12.

The awards celebrate Canadian productions and talent who excel in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes in Canadian film, television, and digital media.

“Christopher Plummer is one of the greatest actors of his generation, who has delighted audiences with his iconic performances. We are elated to have him as this year’s distinct guest of honor,” said Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television chair Martin Katz in a statement.

Plummer was raised in Montréal.

KUDOS TO OSCAR WINNERS comes from a variety of sources related to Broadway.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago e-mailed: "Congratulations to (Steppenwolf) ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins on their Oscar win for best adapted screenplay for Moonlight (screenplay by Jenkins; story by McCraney). And to Moonlight's big, emotional win for Best Picture of the Year.

The iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival which celebrates student-driven theater productions and the transformative power of theater penned:

"iTheatrics… and "all the kids who sing in the rain" congratulate Oscar-winning songwriting team Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Justin Hurwitz who shared the Music (Original Song) Academy Award for City of Stars, from La La Land.

"Just this month, Pasek and Paul performed City of Stars to 1,500 young people, parents and educators at their headlining concert at the iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival West (JTF West), February 10-12, 2017 in Sacramento, CA."

THE AMERICAN THEATRE CRITICS ASSOCIATION (ATCA) has selected six finalists for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, recognizing playwrights for the best scripts that premiered professionally outside New York City during 2016.

The top award of $25,000 and two citations of $7,500 each, plus commemorative plaques, will be presented April 8 at Actors Theatre of Louisville during the Humana Festival of New American Plays. At $40,000, Steinberg/ATCA is the largest national new play award program of its kind.

The finalists, alphabetically by play:

in a word by Lauren Yee – received a rolling world premiere via the National New Play Network at the San Francisco Playhouse, the Cleveland Public Theatre, and Chicago’s Straw Dog Theatre.

The Ice Treatment by Nate Eppler – had its world premiere at Actors Bridge Ensemble in Nashville, TN.

Man in the Ring by Michael Cristofer premiered at Chicago’s Court Theatre.

Mary Page Marlowe by Tracy Letts premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.

Time is On Our Side by R. Eric Thomas premiered at Philadelphia’s Sympatico Theatre.

Visiting Edna by David Rabe had its world premiere at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.

These six finalists were selected from eligible scripts recommended by ATCA members from around the country. They were evaluated by a committee of theater critics, led by Lou Harry of the Indianapolis Business Journal/

Since the inception of ATCA's New Play Award, honorees have included Lanford Wilson, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Arthur Miller, Mac Wellman, Adrienne Kennedy, Donald Margulies, Moises Kaufman, Craig Lucas, and Robert Schenkkan. Last year’s honoree was Vietgone by Qui Nguyen.

2017 PROFILE IN COURAGE HONOREE ANNOUNCED by President John F. Kennedy's grandson Jack Schlossberg who in a release stated, in part:

"My grandfather, President John F. Kennedy, believed that at its best, politics is a noble profession. He upheld that promise himself, and recognized others who did the same in their time.

"On behalf of the Profile in Courage Award Committee, I'm honored to tell you that this year, as we celebrate the centennial of President Kennedy's birth, we have chosen a man who has elevated the standard of political courage in a new century: President Barack H. Obama.

"Faced with unrelenting political opposition, President Obama has embodied the definition of courage that my grandfather cites in the opening lines of Profiles in Courage: "Grace under pressure." Throughout his two terms in office, he represented all Americans with decency, integrity, and an unshakeable commitment to the greater good.

"Our country owes a debt of gratitude to President Obama, not just for the many important policy achievements made during his tenure, but also for the example of leadership he provided all of us, which we may draw upon in the years to come."

The Profile in Courage Award is a private award given to recognize displays of courage similar to those John F. Kennedy described in his book Profiles in Courage. It is generally awarded each year around the time of Kennedy's birthday, May 29, at a ceremony at the Kennedy Library in Boston.

THE GLASS MENAGERIE by Tennessee Williams.

Directed by Tony Award winner Sam Gold.

The Glass Menagerie is the play that brought a brilliant young writer named Tennessee Williams to national attention, and, in his own words, “changed my life irrevocably” when it first premiered on Broadway in 1945. More than seventy years later, Williams’s most personal work for the stage continues to captivate and overwhelm audiences around the world.

The Glass Menagerie stars two-time Academy Award winner Sally Field and two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello. The production also . stars Finn Wittrock and Madison Ferris, who makes her Broadway debut in the role of Laura Wingfield.

Scenic design by Andrew Lieberman.

Officially opens Thursday, March 9, at the Belasco Theatre, New York City.

HAMILTON the mega successful musical with book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, based on Ron Chernow’s biography of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

Directed by Thomas Kail.

Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler.

Musical direction and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire.

Two-time Tony Award nominee Joshua Henry will play Aaron Burr, Michael Luwoye will be Alexander Hamilton and former Book of Mormon star Rory O'Malley will assume the role of King George III.

The cast will also include Rubén J. Carbajal as John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton; Jordan Donica as Marquis De Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson; Amber Iman as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds; Isaiah Johnson as George Washington; Solea Pfeiffer as Eliza Hamilton; Emmy Raver-Lampman as Angelica Schuyler; and Mathenee Treco as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison.

Completing the cast are Ryan Alvarado, Raymond Baynard, Amanda Braun, Daniel Ching, Karli Dinardo, Jeffery Duffy, Jennifer Geller, Jacob Guzman, Julia Harriman, Afra Hines, Sabrina Imamura, Lauren Kias, Yvette Lu, Desmond Newson, Desmond Nunn, Josh Andrés Rivera, Raven Thomas, Ryan Vasquez, Keenan D. Washington, and Andrew Wojtal.

Hamilton features scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Paul Tazewell, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe and casting by Telsey + Company, Bethany Knox, CSA.

The production's national tour begins in San Francisco with shows March 10-August 5, 2017 at the Orpheum Theatre. The tour then moves to Los Angeles. Hamilton visits Las Vegas but not until the end of the 2017-2018 tour with performances May 29-June 24, 2018. At least Las Vegas was in the stops during the first year of the tour, which is booked well into the 2018-2019 season.


Directed by Edward Hall.

"When you’ve got no nation, no government, no place in the world what have you got? Family. You can’t depend on anything else."

Sara Kestelman stars as matriarch Yetta Solomon.. The full cast of also includes Vanessa Babirye, Jack Bannon, Callie Cooke, Stephen Critchlow, Edmund Derrington, Elizabeth Hill, Louis Hilyer, Dorian Lough, Tunji Lucas, Mairead McKinley, Keenan Munn-Francis and Callum Woodhouse.

Opens on the Main Stage of the Hamstead Theatre in London March 10 with performances through April 22, 2017.



ISAAC MIZRAHI AND THE BEN WALTZER QUARTET hosted by Works & Process Young Friends in Café 3, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in NYC performs Friday, March 10, 2017. The evening begins with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres followed by the performance during which the famed designer/singer will perform a number of his favorite tunes and will tell (mostly) true stories in his quest to be loved by the audience. He will also re-gift items he's picked up from overzealous fans, business associates and gala dinner swag bags.

ARIANA GRANDE headlines the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada on Monday, March 6. Thursday's stop is at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH. Saturday finds her at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN. Next Sunday, March 12, she's in the spotlight at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, MI.

BON JOVI performs Wednesday, March 8, at the Forum in Inglewood, CA. On Tuesday the show is at the Pepsi enter in Denver.

KRISTIN CHENOWETH entertains Monday, March 6 at the Lied Center of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Next Sunday, March 12 she can be found at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota, FL.

THE TEN TENORS entertain Thursday, March 9, at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. Saturday's show is at the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center in New Bedford, MA. Next Sunday, March 12, they be delighting audience at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH.

PINK MARTINI entertain Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at the Devos Performance Hall, Grand Rapids, MI.

CHRIS ROCK wraps up a two night stand Monday, March 6, at the Altria Theater in Richmond, VA. On Friday he opens a three night comedy romp at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN.

RICHARD MARX AND RICK SPRINGFIELD entertain Tuesday, March 7, at the Hard rock Cafe in Orlando, FL.

NORAH JONES stars at the Saenger Theatre in Pensacola, PA on Monday, March 6. Tuesday's stop is at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL. On Wednesday she performs at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in Orlando. Friday's show is at the Performing Arts Center in North Charleston, SC. On Saturday she can be enjoyed at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA.

ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY opens a two day gig Wednesday March 8 in Palm Desert, CA at the McCallum Theatre.

AN EVENING WITH MARILYN MAYE DEDICATED TO THE AMERICAN SONGBOOKhas a two nighter Friday, March 10 and Saturday, March 11 at the Purple Room in Palm Springs, CA.

STEVE TYRELL the Grammy-winning vocalist performs begins a two week engagement at The Colony Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Florida on March 7, 2017.

Next Column: March 12, 2017
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Laura Deni

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