Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: May 15, 2016
By: Laura Deni


In a run up to the 2016 Tony Awards on June 12, Broadway To Vegas continues reviewing nominated shows.

Blackbird currently mounted at the Belasco Theatre in New York City, is a play written in 2005 by Scottish playwright David Harrower. It was inspired in part by the crimes of sex offender Toby Studebaker and depicts a young woman meeting a middle-aged man fifteen years after being sexually abused by him when she was twelve.

Toby Studebaker is a former U.S. Marine who abducted a 12-year-old British girl in 2003 after romancing her via the Internet and was jailed for four and a half years.

The case is credited with encouraging the creation of a law against Internet grooming in Scotland, after criticism that British courts were unable to consider offenses involving sexual intercourse because the activity happened abroad.

Harrower's play premiered at the Edinburgh Festival and has been performed around the world. During a 2011 mounting in Los Angeles it was explained that the title Blackbird is British slang for a jailbird.

In the spring of 2007, the play had simultaneous American premieres by the Manhattan Theater Club off-Broadway and at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. The New York production was directed by Joe Mantello, and featured Jeff Daniels and Alison Pill in the lead roles. That production, stars and creatives received numerous off-Broadway theatrical nominations.

This engrossing 2016 Broadway revival has Joe Mantello returning as director and Daniels reprising his role, this time joined by Michelle Williams. Both leads are nominated for Tony Awards, while Blackbird is also up for Best Revival of a Play. Scott Pask who designed the 2007 production also serves as scenic designer for this production.

This two person plays stars brilliant actors Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams.

Long again Daniels proved he could mature from an actor who had a lock on the 13-year old teenage boy market in Dumb and Dumber to being nominated for a Tony Award for the play God of Carnage.

The actor, musician, and playwright, has a career whose roles include films, stage productions and on television, for which he has won an Emmy Award. He also founded the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan. It's impossible to find an instance where he has turned in a bad performance.

His co-star is Michelle Williams She gained wide recognition for her role as Jen Lindley on the The WB series Dawson's Creek from 1998 to 2003. She has gone on to be nominated three times for an Academy Award.

In 2014 she made her Broadway debut in a revival of the musical Cabaret. Her co-starring role in Black Bird is awesome.

Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams in Blackbird. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe
The play takes place late in the day at the workplace of 55-year-old Ray who is shocked to be visited by a young woman, 27-year-old Una. Fifteen years earlier, he had sexually abused her. This relationship, which included several forms of intercourse - some of which were painful for her - began and ended when Una was 12 and Ray was 40. Ultimately, they ran off together, and Ray abruptly ditched Una at a motel in a location that was not familiar to the twelve-year-old. Ray was then arrested and imprisoned for statutory rape, while Una was ostracized from her community after the incident.

Upon his release, Ray managed to establish a new life now going by the name of Peter, but Una recognized him in a photograph and tracked him down.

Blackbird is a deeply complex portrayal of two people whose ruined lives are inextricably intertwined. The play delves into their complex feelings for each other.

Child abuse victims frequently have developed a bond with the pervert. That causes even more profound emotional damaged that what was caused by the physical act. The child can lie or withhold information to protect the person that they thought loved them. There is no greater betrayal. That causes a lifetime of damage - of forever being a victim. Not wanting to believe that somebody who should have loved them actually was a predator.

So it is with Una who lied to protect her violator and now seeks answers and closure to what happened to her. For her to move forward she needs to know that he really did care for her.

In some respects time has stopped for Una. Although Una is closer to thirty, than 20, she dresses like a teenager. In an outfit by Ann Roth, there is a red jacket trimmed in black. Una's wearing high heels and a short, sheer dress; the statement making pattern appears to be that of small, red, cherry blossoms.

Ray, or Peter as he is now known, is terrified to discover Una has found him. He takes her to the office break room where the eating table serves as a physical barrier between them. The work day is ending and he's frightened that his co-workers might enter the room. He's panicked that his past will be discovered and his new life destroyed.

Scott Pask’s set is a dull, utilitarian oppressive gray. The opaque windows confine and shield, offering glimpses of clarity only through murky shadows. It's the confrontation turf for two people who haven't come to terms with themselves or each other.

Fitz Patton has designed the sound. Like a bastardized mash of a prison break warning and the sizzle of an electrical current system about to short circuit, an unnerving, menacing, piercing sound occasionally swirls over the action. Lighting by Brian MacDevitt is a cross between police interrogation illumination and nauseating fluorescent.

Powerful complete sentences can be delivered in single words - "yes," "now," "wait," "shock," "you were busy."

Words can also tumble out like jagged pieces of glass. Overlapping dialogue, broken cadences and repeated words.

Una's voice has the range and timbre of a child. Her walk is unsophisticated. Her attitude is naive yet underscored with unresolved rage.

The two engage in a conflicted emotional boxing match. Her feelings pivot between anger, curiosity, confusion, a desire to hurt and embarrass him; and even a persistent attachment to Ray, whom Una loved - and believed that he loved her. There is a trace of sarcasm when she, not so much asks, but taunts a speculation that he is really the office janitor.

The dismal break room has overflowing garbage cans. Both Una and Ray verbally and literally throw emotional trash. In a convoluted fight, each grabs and throws the only objects available, trash from the large waste bin. The luncheon garbage is lightweight and flies around the room, while their emotional baggage is heavy and weighs them both down.

They physically connect on the table. He sticks his hand down her underpants, and then his hand rests on her crotch. They break away and the face off continues.

At one point Daniels sits motionless, looking at Williams as her pent up feelings burst forth. She laments, questions and berates. Not a muscle in his body moves. Yet, you know his mind isn't wandering; he's listening to every word she is saying - a perpetrator for the first time giving his victim respect - that of listening to her.

They pick each other's wounds which have festered under fake shells created by the passage of time. The thorny dialogue is nervous and searing as guilt and innocence and blurred boundaries are bandied about.

Una needs to know that she wasn't used, that Ray really cared for her. Instead he offers excuses. He says he is currently living with a woman who knows about his past, which he calls "a terrible, terrible mistake."

That isn't comforting or what Una needs to hear. She persists, wanting to know if Ray really loved her. She questions if he has ever touched another youngster. He denies that he has.

The ending, which needs to be experienced, is horrific.

The performances of both Daniels and Williams are chilling. This isn't casting of who can upstage the other or who can emote the most. This is a powerfully written, directed and acted play which captivates the audience from the moment Daniels sets foot on stage. Both Daniels and Williams deliver performances of layered insight, displaying a mastery of words and emotions. At the end of the show both are emotionally and physically drained.

Leaving the theatre workmen were using a jackhammer next door. It was the same feeling that Una and Ray projected. Powerful, piercing, repetitive, seriously damaging. The audience sat spellbound then erupted in a standing ovation. At the Belasco Theatre New York City through June 11.

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The Center for Asian Art. Architect: Machado Silvetti. Photos Anton Grassl/Esto
opens its newest addition to its storied campus – The Center for Asian Art in the Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Gallery of Asian Art – on Sunday, May 15, with a lively and enriching festival of Asian arts and cultures. The new Center for Asian Art fosters the exploration of historical and contemporary Asian art through exhibitions, research and programs, while celebrating the breadth and depth of Asian artistic achievements.

“The new Center for Asian Art represents The Ringling’s long-term investment in Asian art and culture, which extends beyond its walls and is reflected across the organization,” said Ringling Executive Director Steven High.

The event will feature engaging performances, storytelling, art-making activities, games, demonstrations and gallery guides, and visitors of all ages will have the opportunity to experience the deep cultural traditions and vibrant contemporary directions of one of the most diverse and exhilarating regions in the world. In addition, a variety of foods will offer a culinary tour of Asia. The festival builds on relationships that The Ringling has developed with Asian cultural organizations in the region over many years of presenting Asian-themed exhibitions, programs and performances.

Among the highlights of the day will be a scavenger hunt in the galleries, a performance of Taiko Japanese drummers, a pan-Asian martial arts demonstration, a family yoga workshop, a Kimono presentation and a live exhibit of silk worms.

The 25,000-square-foot, jade-green tiled Center for Asian Art includes galleries dedicated to rotating installations of The Ringling’s Asian art holdings, a 125-seat lecture hall, an object and print study room and open storage spaces to increase public access to the collections.

The Ringling is a center for art and history, situated on 66 magnificent acres on the shores of Sarasota Bay. It is built on the remarkable legacy of circus entrepreneur, collector of art and financier John Ringling and his wife Mable.

Designed by Machado Silvetti, The Center for Asian Art in the Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Gallery of Asian Art will foster the exploration of historical and contemporary Asian cultures through research, exhibitions and programs celebrating all aspects of Asian arts and cultures. The Ringling commissioned the internationally renowned architecture firm Machado Silvetti to design a new building and renovate a portion of the existing Museum of Art, which together will provide approximately 25,000 square-feet for the new Center.

The project includes the renovation of approximately 18,000 square feet within the Museum of Art's 1966 expansion, as well as creation of a new 7,500 square-foot pavilion. The Center includes 6,800 square feet of gallery space for the display of rotating selections from The Ringling's collection of Asian art, a 125-person lecture hall, a print/study room, a seminar room and open object storage, all linked by a new bridge connecting the pavilion to the Museum's West Wing. The renovations to the existing Museum of Art respect the original architecture while enhancing the interior space to open up currently under-utilized areas as gallery space and improve the visitor experience.

The new pavilion's design draws inspiration from Asian art and architecture, creating a distinctive addition to The Ringling campus, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Developed from a lead gift of $4.1 million from Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt, followed by several key gifts from area foundations and individuals, the new $10.2 million Center will further The Ringling's commitment to Asian art and position The Ringling as a scholarly destination and resource for the study and appreciation of Asian art and culture.

The new three-story pavilion, which will connect to the existing Museum of Art on every floor, also includes an open loggia on the ground floor, with shaded space for rest and contemplation, a gallery on the second floor, and a flexible space on the third level for meetings and events, overlooking The Ringling's beautiful grounds and Sarasota Bay. Extending out from the Museum of Art to the west.

The new pavilion is itself a work of art, its façade a mosaic of large terra cotta tiles that respond to the tonality and textures of The Ringling?s architecture and landscape. The tiles,which are covered in a custom green glaze, inspired by the shades of jade found in Asian art, garden ornaments, and pavilions are designed to evoke colors found in The Ringling's lush natural gardens and grounds. Terra cotta was selected for its beauty, durability, and moisture resistance as well as for the fact that it has been used elsewhere on The Ringling's campus, most notably at the historic mansion. Terra cotta is also one of the oldest and most reliable building materials in the history of architecture and has been used in traditional Eastern architecture for millennia.

is an exhibition which opened on May 13 and runs through September 11, 2016 at the Helsinki City museum in Helsinki, Finland.

The axe you used to trash all the belongings of a former loved one. A suicide note from your dead mother. Nasal spray to prevent your partner from snoring; now, a broken heart keeps you from sleeping. A soldier’s artificial leg that lasted longer than love.

The Museum of Broken Relationships consists of items donated anonymously and their stories, related to broken relationships.

The items tell the universal story of love and loss. The visitor can get absorbed in the texts ranging from a couple of words to several pages in length. The atmosphere varies from bitter accounts and fitting crystallizations to humor and deep sorrow. It is easy to relate to memories of love and giving away, which makes the visitor a part of the common separation story themselves.

The museum grew out of the separation anxiety of two Croatian artists, Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubiši, and contains items and stories from all parts of the world. The exhibition has been met with enthusiasm - it looks like the museum has found a functional, comforting way of dealing with failure, letting go, and strong emotions. At the same time, it also emphasizes that not all broken relationships are a failure.

At the beginning of the year the Helsinki City Museum began co-organizing the collection after soliciting donations from the public. The plea: Have you ever had your heart broken? Do you own an object that won’t let you forget? Here’s your chance to give it the perfect new home! All donations are exhibited anonymously and are non-returnable.

Not all donated objects will be on display. However, all of them will become part of the Museum of Broken Relationships permanent collection located in Zagreb, Croatia.

Mel Roman, detail, Nature/Nurture, 1998. Laminated pigment print mounted to board with wood frame and neon; 96 x 96 inches. Collection of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Gift of the artist and the Arizona Human Rights Fund
artist, civil rights activist and clinical psychologist Mel Roman (American, 1927 – 2002) had an accomplished 50 year-career uniting provocative visual art, explicit political critique and the scientific study of the human psyche.

A straight, white man, Roman’s life’s work focused on achieving social justice for the disenfranchised.

During his 50-year career, Roman’s artwork addressed the human psyche and social inequity, racial discrimination, gay rights, gender equity, the right to die, intentional communities, and paternal custody rights. In 2000, SMoCA presented the artist’s controversial exhibition, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which confronted US military policy towards gay service members.

Coming Out Under Fire is the first presentation of this challenging series of artworks since the congressional repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in 2010.

SMoCA is proud to present this ground-breaking exhibition on the first anniversary of the Marriage Equality Act. On exhibit Opened yesterday and is on display through October 2, 2016 at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art At in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Close-up view of Apollo Photo: Christie's.
Apollo by Mark Bradford (B. 1961) Photo: Christie's.
a special commission by The Steinway Commission art and music work by The Steinway Commission was graveled down during Christie’s Post War & Contemporary day sale held on May 11, 2016 in New York at Rockefeller Center.

Listed as Lot 433, it was sold for $365,000.

In collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Steinway is commissioning three influential visual artists over three years to create their own individual works using a Steinway Spirio as the medium. Each of these artists will also be paired with a Steinway Artist, who will compose a musical score specifically for that piece.

The completed works will then be sold at auction, with the proceeds benefiting the partner art organizations in equal measure. The first artistic pairing is between visual artist Mark Bradford and Steinway Artist Robert Glasper. Bradford’s Steinway Model M, transformed with paper and bleach to recall his time spent working at his mother’s salon as a hairdresser, is titled Apollo. Glasper’s four-movement suite for Apollo, recorded on Spirio, is Still Shining.

"On the Steinway Spirio Bradford has reimagined the iconic instrument. Using the Steinway piano as his base, Bradford altered its presentation with bleach and paper to create his Apollo.. The chemical reaction on the finish captures the moment of conversion and change, effecting a golden tone that seemingly makes the instrument fiercely glow," according to Christies.

"Where black meets white and visual meets sound, Bradford and Glasper’s artistic union subtly comments on the subject of race and conflict while making a clear statement on the expectations of art. Art knows no boundaries and has no limitations," continued the auction house.

Steinway & Sons CEO Michael Sweeney noted that “so many of the artists that we work with today are pushing boundaries and defying easy classification.... We find classical artists playing jazz and jazz artists dipping into popular music. We see visual artists creating performances and composers creating visual art. The only descriptor that seems relevant anymore is ‘Artist,’ and that's the best description for Mark and Robert. It was our pleasure to introduce them and to facilitate their collaboration.”

Mark Bradford's Apollo is a representation of artistic beauty inspired by an ever-changing social landscape. Bradford elaborates: "My use of paper and bleach in the work originates from my time working as a hairdresser at my mother's salon in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, where I would take end papers and soak them in bleach to dye clients' hair. I liked the end papers. I liked the social fabric they represented. Here, I am interested in the pattern of flux created by this bleaching effect.”

Robert Glasper’s score Still Shining, adds an immersive dimension to the work as a whole. Glasper adds, "Mark’s inspiration for Apollo immediately drew me to the project. I’ve been exploring the subject matter of race and unrest in my own work, so this was an unbelievable opportunity to express these themes in a three dimensional way." He continued, "Collaborations are always complex and personal interpretations of ideas can diverge over time. But Mark and I were always on the same page with this project. We share the same fear, the same anger, and the same hopes for a better future."

Still Shining is brought to life through the Steinway Spirio - high-resolution player piano technology that provides the most accurate reproduction of a live performance on a Steinway & Sons piano.


GEORGE STREET PLAYHOUSE ANNUAL GALA BENEFIT takes place Sunday, May 22, 2016 at The Heldrich in New Brunswick, NJ.

The Black-Tie fundraiser will feature performances from stars of stage and screen.

As part of the celebration, the Thomas H. Kean Arts Advocacy Award will be conferred upon The Actors Fund and its President and Chief Executive Officer, Joseph P. Benincasa, by the former Governor himself. The inaugural award was given to Governor Kean in 1990 and was named in his honor to pay tribute to an individual, corporation or foundation whose dedication to the arts enhances the cultural life of the citizens of New Jersey.

The Actors Fund is a national human services organization that helps everyone — performers and those behind the scenes — who works in performing arts and entertainment. Serving professionals in film, theatre, television, music, opera, radio and dance, The Fund’s programs include social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and employment and training services. The Actors Fund has been - for 134 years - a safety net for those in need, crisis or transition.

Benincasa joined The Actors Fund in 1989 and oversees innovative programs, including comprehensive social services, health care services, employment and training, and affordable, supportive and senior housing. He is also President of the Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation which builds affordable, supportive and senior care residences for artists in major urban centers.

He serves on the boards of directors of several organizations; including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Learning Ally, and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, among others. He has been recognized with several honors, including The Actors Fund Medal of Honor, Tony Honors Award, New Jersey Legislature Excellence in Arts Award and inaugural Made in New York Award.

Kenneth M. Fisher, Jr. serves as Benefit Chair. Commemorative Journal Chairpersons are Jocelyn Schwartzman and Lora Tremayne. James Heston and Penelope Lattimer serve as co-chairs of the Sponsorship Committee, and Janice Stolar is Tables Chair.

Janice Haggerty and Gabrielle Vajtay serve as Auction Co-Chairpersons. The silent auction is one of the highlights of the Playhouse’s Annual Gala, and offers luxury vacation trips, home furnishings, tickets to hard-to-get Broadway shows, fine dining experiences, top sports venues and much more.

In the 42 years since its founding, George Street Playhouse has become a nationally recognized theatre, presenting an acclaimed mainstage season while providing an artistic home for established and emerging theatre artists. Its leadership consists of Artistic Director David Saint, Resident Artistic Director Michael Mastro and Managing Director Kelly Ryman.

Founded in 1974, the Playhouse has been well represented by numerous productions both on and off-Broadway – recent productions include the Outer Critics’ Circle Best Musical Award-winner The Toxic Avenger; the Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Drama League nominated production of The Spitfire Grill; and the recent Broadway hit and Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning play Proof by David Auburn, which was developed at GSP during the 1999 Next Stage Series of new plays.

In 2015, George Street Playhouse has been represented by two productions in New York: the recent Broadway production of It Shoulda Been You, and Joe DiPietro’s Clever Little Lies, which opened off-Broadway in October. Both shows received their premieres at the Playhouse.

KEEP MEMORY ALIVE GALA takes place at the new Las Vegas Arena on May 21 as an early birthday party for mentally fit as a fiddle Tony Bennett, who turns 90 on August 3.

The 20th anniversary gala benefits the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.


This original cast album released on Masterworks Broadway is a rarity - an original Broadway cast recording that wasn't recorded in a studio. Rather, it was recorded live during performances at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway.

Cuban-American singer and actress Ana Villafañe, makes her Broadway debut as Gloria Estefan opposite Josh Segarra in the role Emilio Estefan. The cast also stars Drama Desk Award winner Andréa Burns as Gloria's mother, Gloria Fajardo; Alma Cuervo as Gloria's grandmother, Consuelo; Alexandria Suarez as Little Gloria; and Eduardo Hernandez as Nayib/Young Emilio.

Rounding out the ensemble are Fabi Aguirre, Karmine Alers, Yassmin Alers, David Baida, Natalie Caruncho, Henry Gainza, Linedy Genao, Carlos E. Gonzalez, Nina Lafarga, Genny Lis Padilla, Omar Lopez-Cepero, Hector Maisonet, Marielys Molina, Felix Monge, Doreen Montalvo, Liz Ramos, Eliseo Roman, Luis Salgado, Marcos Santana, Martín Solá, Jennifer Sanchez, Brett Sturgis, Kevin Tellez, Eric Ulloa, Tanairi Vasquez and Lee Zarrett.

A high energy salsa beat driven on stage party effectively transferred to a CD. Every Miami Sound Machine fan will want to own a copy. It's also a perfect souvenir for those who have seen the show; and as close as you can get to experiencing the show if you haven't seen it.

Based on fact On Your Feet! follows seven-time Grammy Award-winning global superstar Gloria Estefan and her husband, 19-time Grammy-winning producer, musician, and entrepreneur Emilio Estefan on their journey to superstardom, set to their chart-topping, smash hits, including Rhythm Is Gonna Get You, Conga, 1-2-3, Get On Your Feet, Mi Tierra, Don't Want To Lose You Now, and Reach, in addition to an original song, If I Never Got To Tell You, written by Gloria and her daughter Emily Estefan.

When Someone Comes Into Your Life is beautiful.

The vibrant, heavy on a beat music lends itself to dancing and propelled choreographer Sergio Trujillo to a Tony nomination.

Because this CD is an actual live recording, taken from the stage production, the spoken lines vary in loudness and clarity. That only adds to the intimacy. Audiences responses also contribute to the enjoyment.

The vast majority of the numbers are the salsa beat sound made famous by the Miami Sound Machine. The actors do have Cuban accents and much of the dialogue is speedy. However, the important argument and controversy over whether to put Gloria in the Sound Machine is left intact and distinctly spoken.

Music direction and arrangements by Lon Hoyt. Orchestrations by Emilio and Gloria Estefan. Additional orchestrations by Jorge Casas and Clay Ostwald. Music coordinator Patrick Vaccariello.

The Orchestra includes several members of Miami Sound Machine. Musicians are:

Lon Hoyt, conductor. Clay Ostwald associate conductor.

Edwin Bonilla and Javier Siez - Percussion. Olbin burgos - Drums. Jorge Casas -Bass. Paul Livant and J. J. McGeehan - Guitars. David Fernandez and Tom Timbo - Reeds. Barry Danielian and Manuel Ruiz - Trumpet. Teddy Mulet - Trombone. Lon Hoyt and Clay Ostwald - Keyboards.

Production Sound Engineer Andrew Keister. Front of the House Engineer Julie Sloan. Sound design Steve Kennedy and Andrew Keister. Mixed by Izzy Meccio and Emilio Estefan. Editing Engineer Danny Ponce. Additional Engineering by Ron Taylor. Mixed at Crescent Moon Studios in Miami, Florida. Mastered by Bob Ludwig for Gateway Mastering Studio, Inc.

The accompanying booklet is a glorious picture book of performance photographs by Matthew Murphy with the cover photo taken by Chad Griffth. Cabana designed by album packaging.

Because the photographs are such an important element of the CD booklet it's only fitting to acknowledge that the costumes are by Tony-nominated Costume Designer Emilio Sosa. Lighting by Tony Award-winning Lighting Designer Kenneth Posner Tony Award-winning Sound Designer Steve Kennedy makes everything easy on the ears. Hair & Wig Design by Chuck LaPointe.

Likewise, because important dialogue is a part of this CD, credit must be given to an original book penned by Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris.


Why did the Jewish David Belasco always dress as a Catholic priest? Why will a female performer wears blue? Why did the mistress of Florenz Ziegfeld drink poison and why do casting directors prefer to hire small adults to play children and what is the shove of love?

Over the years I've taken just about every walking tour available in New York City, but none more enjoyable or informative than Broadway Up Close. The brainchild of Tim Dolan, a working actor who spent six years starring in the hilariously clever, off-Broadway smash hit Altar Boyz, as well as the national tour. In the sassy musical the nice Irish Catholic boy played a nice Jewish boy named Abraham.

Dolan appeared in the hit show Boardwalk Empire, and has such regional credits to his name as Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

Dolan was recently seen in the Transport Group's NYC revival of Once Upon A Mattress starring Jackie Hoffman and Lypsinka at Abrams Arts Center. As an arts educator Tim is on faculty at Rosie's Theater Kids, Rosie O'Donnell's arts organization, as well as Dream Makers Performing Arts.

These tours aren't just for people who love Broadway. They are perfect for residents or visitors who: enjoy historical tours, are into architecture, like to learn about the gossip associated with the people who lived or worked on The Great White Way, or just have a couple of hours to kill.

Broadway Up Close Walking Tours Inc. started six years ago as a seed of an idea after Dolan returned from touring the country in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. At each tour stop Tim was fascinated by the ghost stories and legends told by local stagehands at different Vaudeville and touring houses each night. Upon returning to New York City, Tim started to explore the history and legends that have taken place in New York's Broadway theaters. Unearthing truly fantastic stories from over the past 100 years, Tim started his company. In addition to theater history Tim and his guides also share the inner workings of the life of an actor and other theater professionals, giving patrons a comprehensive tour that provides a deeper understand of how a production takes shape.

Being actors, Dolan and his 14 associates know how to communicate. They not only have the facts, they deliver their information in an interesting and memorable manner. Broadway Up Close tours are divided into three: known as Acts I, II and III which explore the southern, middle and northern portions of Broadway, respectively.

The tour I went on centered around seven theatres and their street surroundings.

The places where we stopped I've been to countless times. I've traveled those streets on a daily basis. Yet, Dolan pointed out something I had never noticed, or imparted information that I didn't know, making a totally enjoyable experience.

Broadway Up Close have tours worth taking.

Stopping at the Belasco Theatre on 44th Street, he draws attention to the Gothic, duplex apartment above the venue and discloses odd idiosyncrasies about the theatre's founder David Belasco. During his lifetime, the womanizing Belasco, who was raised Jewish, always dressed in the religious garments of a Catholic priest causing him to be called "The Bishop of Broadway." He had Catholic pews outside his office where those waiting to see him would sit.

His apartment is considered one of the most haunted places in New York, where eye witnesses often report seeing a priest in the building on opening nights. Doland discloses how he once got inside the storied residence.

In addition to Belasco haunting his own theatre, there is a second ghost: the “blue lady”. To appease her spirit, during every show at least one actress who performs at the Belasco will wear a blue dress. Currently at the Belasco is Blackbird where female lead Michelle Williams wears a red patterned dress. However, in the show's poster she is wearing a blue dress.

There are also anecdotes on why you enter some theatres on one street, but are tricked because there is a walkway covered-up through the use of mirrors, pictures, or perhaps a bar, because the actual theatre is located on the next street.

Insider information on rehearsals, choreography, and what is known as "a shove of love" - when a new cast member isn't quite on their mark and a performer behind them gently puts their knee in their back. Theatres which are noted for flops and, of course, which ones are haunted and why.

Fascinating information concerns salaries and why casting directors hire young looking adults who can play the parts of children, so that the production doesn't have to undergo the expense of hiring tutors and child wranglers.

What makes a theatre Broadway, off-Broadway has nothing to do with the location. It's the seat count. To be considered "Broadway" there has to be at least 500 seats. Minimum pay scales are also based on the size of the venue. Dolan has funny stories about pay scales for performers.

You'll learn that Times Square was known as Longacre Square and how the area got dubbed The Great White Way; plus getting a peak at the famous Ball Drop from the Times Square Building which began in 1907. You'll learn about the transformation of Times Square from an area full of manure and horse stables to one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world.

Discover that major players - The Nederlanders, the Shuberts and Jujamcyns - with a history of not always getting along. While Nederlander and Shubert are family surnames, Jujamcyns is a combination of the names of the original owner's grandchildren Ju[dith], Jam[es], and Cyn[thia.

There is also the ghost of actress Olive Thomas at the New Amsterdam. The one-time mistress of Florenz Ziegfeld, Olive accidentally poisoned herself and died on September 10, 1920, in Paris at age 25. A stagehand saw her ghost, wearing the green sash of a Ziegfeld girl, walking through the back wall of the theatre. Those working at the New Amsterdam never forget to remember her birthday.

In the past six years the Broadway Up Close team has won numerous travel industry awards. Their cumulative experience encompasses Broadway, Off-Broadway, national tours, regional theater, and film and television both onstage as well as behind the scenes. In addition to their work in the theater, each of the guides is licensed as a tour guide by the city of New York which requires tour guides to pass a knowledge test and be licensed.

Unlike New York City and other major cities, Las Vegas doesn’t have a required test that people have to pass before they can work as a tour guide.

Broadway Up Close currently offers public tours daily lasting approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. For the summer season when many travel agencies, schools or community theatres offer New York City vacation packages, including this tour in the itinerary would be a smart thing to do.


E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, the master lyricist who was "Broadway's Social Conscience," fought for social and economic justice for all people throughout his whole life. His songbook includes such milestone songs of the Great Depression as Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? The Yip Harburg Foundation was created after his death to carry on his legacy and to promote educational opportunity, social/economic justice and world peace.

Responding to the heightened mood of this election year, SUNY's Empire State College (ESC) Metropolitan Center and The Yip Harburg Foundation (YHF) have joined together to inspire existing and prospective students with the power of songs of conscience as part of their educational/entertainment partnership by co-producing a concert, I Hear America Singing: The Immigrant's Journey, Monday, May 16 at Empire State College Metropolitan Center SUNY, in New York City.

The show is a revue featuring songs by E.Y. "Yip" Harburg and friends and some works by later songwriters, all devoted to the ongoing struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

The concert is the kickoff event of a series of concerts to be presented by YHF which will ultimately include new works devoted to 21st century challenges.

Subsequent editions of this revue may feature commissioned works.

As it programs an ensuing concert this fall, The Yip Harburg Foundation is considering having new music written for unpublished Yip Harburg lyrics and inviting an outstanding composer/lyricist team to submit an original song based on the 2016 election season.

The YHF) and ESC presently have a unique resource partnership in musical theater education. Through this partnership, students of ESC's Metropolitan Center are offered an opportunity for specialized undergraduate study in the arts and a personalized interdisciplinary degree that reflects their interests in Musical Theater.

ESC is billed as "ideal for students who need maximum flexibility, including older students returning to college after a hiatus and those who are studying part time around work or family commitments."

In this partnership, YHF offers varied workshops for ESC credit. They are not exclusively designed for performers, but appeal to a wide variety of students, for example a performer who wants to direct, a student of the music business who wants to learn songwriting, or a student of economics who wants to learn acting. The workshops are led by the highest level of Broadway and Entertainment professionals. New workshops in 2015/16 include: Afro-Latin Musical Theater and Its African Origins (conceived by Elizabeth Ruf-Maldonado and Deena Harburg) and Musical Theatre Retrospective: American Musical Theater Songs from the 20th to 21st Centuries. YHF is also offering an array of customized internships that place students into non-profit theater companies and other venues around NYC.

Among its varied themes, Monday's presentation will feature unknown Yip Harburg songs, some written for historic elections, and other songs offering Harburg's views on immigration and migration. The revue will culminate in a performance of Over the Rainbow. Deena R. Harburg, Yip's daughter-in-law, points out that the song, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Harburg, expresses the dream of an immigrant - or a would-be immigrant - for a better life in a far away land. This classic is under-appreciated for this original intent, says Ms. Harburg.

The performing cast includes ESC alumna Lisa Brescia, current ESC student Ben Harburg (who is currently appearing as The Tin Man in Harlem Repertory Company's current stage production of The Wizard of Oz, and professionals Eric Poindexter, Jane Blass and Reanna Armellino, founder of Greenhouse Ensemble.

Musical directors are David Brunetti and David Gaines.


Ellington purchased this beautiful white piano in the 1920s. Photo: Guernseys
250 of them go up for auction with free previews May 17 and 18; the auction titled Forever Ellington, is in the evening on the 18th, gaveled down by Guernsey's at Harlem's newly relocated National Jazz Museum in NYC.

Fans can bid on the white 1920 baby grand piano Ellington used to compose Sophisticated Lady. It's estimated to sell for up to $1 million.

The possessions were put up for auction by Ellington's nephew, Stephen James, who inherited the items from his mother, Ruth Ellington, Duke's sister.

The product of divorce, Ellington was a surrogate father to Stephen who accompanied the musicians on summer tours during school vacations.

Imagine bidding on any of two dozen original music manuscripts - written in Duke's own hand - for titles including Paris Blues, Let the Good Times Roll and the Ellington classic, Mood Indigo. The word "dapper" might well have been coined when describing Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington; this will be well evident when viewing the many dinner jackets, tuxedos and suits in the sale. Most have Duke's name discreetly written on the inside of his jacket pockets.

In addition to creating great tunes, Duke also took pride in his paintings. Considered one of his finest efforts, the auction will include his oil on canvas titled, for obvious reasons, Satin Doll. (Lot 132), expected to sell for $20K-$30K.

Another artistic entry, Duke's portrait of close friend and collaborator Billy Strayhorn, (Lot 152) will have meaning for many, as will the other Strayhorn-related objects in the auction.

Without question, one of the most significant lots in this, or any other music-related auction, will be Duke Ellington's personal white baby grand piano - expected to fetch as much as $1M. Although it is known that Duke owned two additional pianos, the one in this event (and the only one likely ever to be sold) is the one he used when composing much of his music.

Other items include Pulitzer Prize Statuette, Gold Bohemia Dinner Plates, letters, and monogrammed cuff links. A diamond-encrusted Swiss pocket watch is estimated to bring in $8-$10K.

ARABIAN BUBBLE CELEBRATION starring Guinness record holders the brother and sister team of Melody Yang and Deni Yang appearing for the first time in Dubai. They are part of the family which starred on Broadway in the Gazillion Bubble Show.

the Arabian Bubble Show is a family friendly event with some spectacular and mind blowing visual spectacle experiences including bubble, laser and 3D in a 70 minute entertainment capsule.

12 performances between May 19-21 at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, UAE.

KRIS VERDONCK Listen to the Bloody Machine takes place May 25 at The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, located at The Graduate Center, City University of New York. From Flanders, Berlgium, Kris Verdonck’s creations are eclectic works that utilize visual arts mediums, theatre, performance, installations, dance, and architecture. Verdonck will showcase his body of work and discuss its impact on the contemporary stage with Professor Peter Eckersall (The Graduate Center, CUNY) and Kristof van Baarle.

I HAVE CONFIDENCE: RODGERS AFTER HAMMERSTEIN Richard Rodgers earned his place in the pantheon of American composers through his heralded partnership with Larry Hart. He went on to cement his position as Broadway’s greatest thanks to a seemingly impossible second act with Oscar Hammerstein. For his unprecedented third act, Rodgers wrote lyrics himself, and partnered with an amazing array of talent - including Stephen Sondheim and Sheldon Harnick - on such classics as The Sweetest Sounds, I Have Confidence, I Do Not Know a Day I Did Not Love You, Do I Hear a Waltz? and Something Good.

R&H authority Ted Chapin closes the Lyrics & Lyricists season with I Have Confidence: Rodgers After Hammerstein, delving deep inside these rich third-act collaborations in a show that includes rarely-seen video interviews with Sheldon Harnick, John Cullum and Martin Charnin, among others, discussing what it was like to work with Rodgers. The production also includes special readings of some newly unearthed writings by Rodgers.

Ted Chapin, Artistic Director, Writer & Host.Joseph Thalken, Music Director. Lorin Latarro, Stage Director & Choreographer.

Performances by Ben Crawford, T. Oliver Reid, Betsy Wolfe , Karen Ziemba and Guest Artist Larry Pine.

Five performances May 21-23 at 92Y in New York City.


ANASTASIA the stage adaptation of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's 1997 animated feature. with a book by Tony Award winner Terrence McNally.

Directed by Tony Award winning Darko Tresnjak, who is artistic director at Hartford Stage.

The stage musical incorporates characters not seen in the film.Songs include Journey to the Past" was Oscar-nominated for Best Original Song, and Once upon a December which received a Golden Globe Award-nomination.

Six songs from the movie are in the new musical with the remaining film songs have been extensively revised and rewritten for the stage plus 16 new numbers.

Anastasia is billed as "the romantic and rousing story of one brave young woman attempting to discover the mystery of her past while finding a place for herself in the rapidly changing world of a new century. With a rich and sweeping musical score that evokes the opulence of Russian aristocracy and the energy of Paris street life, Anastasia is the ultimate journey of a woman caught between the pull of the past and the promise of the future."

Featuring: Christy Altomare as Anya - Lauren Blackman as Tsarina Alexandra, Isadora Duncan - John Bolton as Vlad Popov - Riley Briggs as Anastasia, Age 6, Prince Alexei Romanov (Understudy) - James Brown III as Suitor, Hotel Manager - Max Clayton as Suitor, Prince Siegfried In Swan Lake - Janet Dickinson as Comrade, Coco Chanel - Manoel Felciano as Gleb - Constantine Germanacos as Tsar Nicholas Ii, Count Ipolitov - Rayanne Gonzales as Comrade, Gertrude Stein - Derek Klena as Dmitry - Ken Krugman as Gorlinsky, Pablo Picasso - Kevin Ligon as Comrade, Ernest Hemingway, Count Leopold - Alida Michal as Maria Romanov, Marfa, Odette In Swan Lake - China Ann Morris as Tatiana Romanov, Tatyana, Josephine Baker - Comrade, Russian Doorman - Caroline O’Connor as Countess Lily Malevsky-Malevitch - Mary Beth Peil as Dowager Empress - Molly Rushing as Anastasia, Age 17, Anna - Nicole Scimeca as Anastasia, Age 6, Prince Alexei Romanov - Johnny Stellard as Von Rothbart In Swan Lake, Django Reinhardt, Dance Captain - Samantha Sturm as Olga Romanov, Comrade, Cygnet In Swan Lake and Katherine Mclellan and Maxwell Carmelis are the Swings.

Scenic Design by Alexander Dodge. Costume Design by Linda Cho. Wig & Hair Design by Charles G. LaPointe. Make-Up Design Joe Dulude II. Lighting Design by Donald Holder. Sound Design by Peter Hylenski. Fight Choreographer Jeff Barry.

Music Director is Thomas Murray. Orchestrations by Doug Besterman. Vocal Arranger Stephen Flaherty. Dance Music Arranger David Chase. Vocal & Text Coach Claudia Hill-Sparks. Music Preparation by Joann Kane Music Russell Bartmus & Mark Graham. Associate Music Director Steven Malone.

Video & Projection Design by Aaron Rhyne. Associate Video and Projection Design Bart Cortright. Lead Video and Projection Animator Gabe Aronson. Video Programmer Matthew Mellinger. Assistant Video and Projection Design Nick Graci.

Dramaturg Elizabeth Williamson. Production Stage Manager Bonnie Panson. Stage Manager Trey Johnson. Casting Telsey + Company Craig Burns, CSA.

Musicians: Conductor Thomas Murray - Keyboard 1 Steven Malone - Keyboard 2 Gary Chapman - Drums/Percussion Bruce Doctor - Violin Martha Kayser - Violin/Viola Lu Friedman - Cello Katie Kennedy - Reed 1 Fred DeChristofaro - Reed 2 Michael Schuster - Trumpet John Thomas - Horn Jaime Thorne - Trombone George Sanders - Bass Joseph Messina - Keyboard Programmer Randy Cohen - Associate Keyboard Programmer Taylor Williams - Assistant Keyboard Programmer Jeremy King.

Currently in previews with performances through June 19, 2016 at Hartford Stages in Hartford, CT.

LET IT BE The international musical sensation jam-packed with over forty of The Beatles’ greatest hits. Relive The Beatles’ meteoric rise from their humble beginnings in Liverpool’s Cavern Club, through the heights of Beatlemania, to their later studio masterpieces, with live performances of early tracks including Twist and Shout, She Loves You and Drive My Car, as well as global mega-hits Yesterday, Hey Jude, Come Together and, of course, Let It Be. Travel back to the magical sixties when all you needed was love, and a little help from your friends.

May 18 - June 11 at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, ME.

THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT — THE SMELL OF THE CROWD book, music and lrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.

It's a brand-new wonderful day! In a world turned upside down, a rag-tag group relies on humor, song and dance to try to build a new life. But can show tunes and music hall merriment revive the human spirit? On the highway of life, hope is just around the bend in this arresting reinvention of the vivacious Broadway hit. Their world may have ended, but songs like Who Can I Turn To?, The Joker, Feeling Good and A Wonderful Day Like Today echo on, welcoming new love and another dawn.

Presented by Goodspeed May 20 - June 26 on the Terris Theatre, in Chester, MA.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM A Play for the Nation by William Shakespeare.

Directed by Erica Whyman.

On a Midsummer’s night, four young lovers find themselves wrapped in the mischievous arms of an enchanted forest where sprites lurk and fairies rule.

With a feuding Fairy King and Queen, Quince and his friends presenting their play within a play, and chief mischief-maker Puck on hand, games of fantasy, love and dreams ensue in Shakespeare’s most beguiling comedy.

Presented by The Royal Shakespeare Company in association with Tower Theatre Company Part of a nationwide tour, this production combines eighteen RSC professional actors and fourteen amateur theatre companies from around the UK, selected to play Bottom and the Mechanicals. In London, members of Tower Theatre Company perform these popular roles.

Beginning May 17, 2016 at the Barbican in London.


THE WHO will be performing their hits Tuesday, May 17, at the Moda Center in Portland, OR. On Thursday they'll be at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. Next Sunday, May 22, they'll be delighting the crowds at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.

RIHANNA entertains Tuesday, May 17, at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Wednesday's show is at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA. On Saturday she can be found at the Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND entertain Tuesday, May 17, at the Estadio de Anoeta in San Sebastian, Spain. They appear at the Rock in Rio in Lisbon, Portugal on Thursday, May 19. Saturday's gig is at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain.

IL DIVO continues their European tour with a show on Tuesday, May 17, at the 3 Arena in Dublin, Ireland. Wednesday's performance is at The SSE Arena in Belfast, Ireland. On Friday they can be enjoyed at the Aalborg Hallen in Aalborg, Denmark.

SELENA GOMEZon Monday, May 16, brings her tour to Rexall Place in Edmonto, AB. Tuesday's stop is at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. Thursday finds her at the Tel Centre in Saskatoon, SK. On Friday she stars at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, MB. Next Sunday, May 22, she can be found at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, ON.

JOHN PIZZARELLI on Thursday, May 19, begins a four night romp at Blues Alley in Washington, DC.

TRACY MORGAN will be telling funny stories Friday, May 20, at the Riverdome at Horseshoe Bossier City in Bossier City, LA. On Saturday, May 21, he'll be entertaining at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL.

MICHAEL FEINSTEINa two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated performer returns to Feinstein at the Nikko in San Francisco for five performances Wednesday through Sunday, May 18th through 22nd with a special celebration of Academy Award-winning lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

TIM MINCHIN is playing a rare solo show at The Old Vic in London on Sunday, May 22. The show will be a combination of songs from his comedy touring years and bits from musicals and other places.

Next Column: May 22, 2016
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Laura Deni

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