Broadway To Vegas
SHOW REVIEWS CELEBRITY INTERVIEWS GOSSIP NEWS
Copyright: May 27, 2001
By: Laura Deni
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PARTY TIME ON BROADWAY
JOHN RITTER AND HENRY WINKLER
Photo By: Laura Deni
This is the time of year when Broadway stars - receiving awards for shows they helped to make
famous - must undertake the grueling task of attending awards parties, meeting and greeting their
friends and competitors and generally permitted to walk ten feet off the ground without being
accused of having an ego or a funny walk.
HENRY WINKLER and MARJORIE GUNNER.
Photo By: Laura Deni
Last Thursday's Outer Critics Circle Award Banquet at Sardi's was no exception.
The delightful John Ritter and Henry Winkler served as co-hosts charming the crowd as they
introduced presenters as well as taking home their own special award for their ensemble
production of Neil Simon's delight The Dinner Party.
Marjorie Gunner, who has served as president of Outer Critics Circle for 21 years, was
flabbergasted by the graciousness of Winkler.
The following morning she told us that Winkler had
just called to thank her for his lovely award and appreciated being asked to
JOHN RITTER relaxing with a beverage
is about to be relaxing in Hawaii. Photo By: Laura Deni
REBA McENTIRE Photo
By: Laura Deni
Winkler, who reached stardom early and could have an ego as big as a garage, has never let
success warp his perspective
John Ritter who co-stars with Winkler in The Dinner Party surprised his co-star and best
friend by dropping the news that they are both leaving on the same jet plane
when they depart the
Both men love New York and it's painful for them to leave, but they need some
time. Ritter will be taking his children on an extended Hawaiian vacation.
When Oklahoma born Reba McEntire took over from Bernadette Peters as the star of Annie
Get Your Gun she revitalized the production. It is almost unheard of for the replacement star
to ever be acknowledged for their contribution.
McEntire turned the role into what it should have been all along and thus, in a rare presentation,
received a special achievement award.
CHRISTINE EBERSOLE of 42nd Street fame
and heartthrob CHRIS NOTH who made his Broadway debut his season. Photo By:
SUSAN STROMAN. Photo By: Laura
Reba will be leaving Annie Get Your Gun for Las Vegas. The cute redhead told us
she's looking forward to returning to Las Vegas where she will be starring at Mandalay
The mega talented Susan Stroman who will have four - that's right- four shows on Broadway
season has a right to be smiling.
She is one of the geniuses behind The Producers picking
up awards as both director and choreographer.
Her baseball cap is going to need more sides. She needs to be able to flip it around so
that words like "director", or "choreographer", thus enabling the listener to know which persona is
GARY BEACH and CADY HUFFMAN Photo By:
NATHAN LANE Photo By: Laura Deni
Gary Beach and Cady Huffman are hanging on to their share of the awards for their roles in
Beach plays the over the top queen, director Roger DeBris sashaying
around singing Keep It Gay in a 45-pound evening dress by award winner William Ivey
Long and, later, as Adolph Hitler leading a corps of Nazis in Springtime for
Huffman, who isn't Swedish, is a stand out as the overly endowed, typewriter challenged Swedish
Nathan Lane is always a quick witted charmer.
He first suggested that a collection be taken up so
that the Outer Critics Circle could find homes, thus making them Inner Critics.
His heartfelt plea
to let the Outer Critics come Inside resulted in pledges but so far no hard cash.
In accepting his award Lane was humble and gracious, bestowing accolades on his co-star
Matthew Broderick, stressing that the entire cast is family and the production - a team
SWOOSIE KURTZ with her long time friend, PR man
and Tony voter JIM BALDASSARE. Photo By: Laura Deni
VIOLA DAVIS Photo By: Laura Deni
Swoosie Kurtz has won two Tony Awards for Fifth of July and The House of Blue
She recently took part in the Lincoln Center presentation of John Guare's The
House of Blue Leaves as a reading with the original cast members.
Joining Swoosie were
Stockard Channing and Christopher Walken.
It's nice to have Swoosie back in New York. She
recently completed a film in Australia.
Viola Davis received an award as Outstanding Featured Actress in King Hedley II, the
August Wilson play which also stars Leslie Uggams and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Theatrical legend MARIAN SELDES
currently staring in The Play About The Baby Photo By: Laura
In her acceptance speech she emphasized that success doesn't change everything.
She stressed that
her own parents still have the not easy task of raising five of their grandchildren.
We all loved her as Mother Olivia Walton on The Waltons but you should get a load of
glamorous Michael Learned today!
MICHAEL LEARNED Photo By: Laura Deni
The talented lady who has returned to Broadway
is one of the
few stars who still gets a kick out of signing autographs for her fans.
Michele Lee always looks so fab in her trademark red, took control of the microphone and did
her share of the award presenting.
Lee along with Linda Lavin and Tony Roberts star in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife
which has been nominated for three Tony Awards.
Photo By: Laura Deni
Penny Fuller has the meaty role of Gabrielle Buonocelli in The Dinner Party, which has
garnered her a Tony nomination.
She already has an Emmy for The Elephant Man.
She's sincere when she says she doesn't get bored repeating the same words night after night and
is always anxious to hit the theater each night.
Ironically, she began her Broadway career with a
Neil Simon play Barefoot In The Park. She is also a founding member of the Matrix
PENNY FULLER Photo By: Laura Deni
Christine Ebersole recalled that when she was first on Broadway the production closed after
The New York Times panned it.
Thinking her Broadway career was over she packed up
and headed out to Hollywood intending to set that town on fire.
Instead, she got one guest starring role on The Love Boat.
Although long time in coming, success can be great revenge. 16 years later she's returned to The
Great White Way as star of 42nd Street
When she's not taking home performance honors, she collects bowling trophies.
Ebersole is a
member of a show biz bowling league that tries to knock the pins down at the Port
ELIZABETH ASHLEY AND CHRISTINE
EBERSOLE Photo By: Laura Deni
MARY-LOUISE PARKER Photo By: Laura
Mary-Louise Parker broke down in tears in accepting her Outstanding Actress in a
Play award for
She tearfully thanked her niece, Kirstin Parker, who is her most ardent supporter
and best friend.
Gazing towards her niece Mary-Louise told her - "I've loved you since the day you were
TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT OR
BREACH OF ORAL CONTRACT?
Was money obtained and spent under a false promise for television exposure on the Tony
It's Tony Award time and that means another award broadcast. For years the Tony
Awards were considered the classy show - geared for the theatrical crowd that dressed up.Only
snobs watched PBS, cable didn't exist and award shows weren't spit out on a conveyor belt. Not
a lot of people tuned in but nobody really seemed to care. After all - it was about
PBS does a brilliant job of broadcasting the first hour of the Tony Awards and then CBS becomes
the flag waver. That means commercial time and ratings become the object. It still can be a classy
show and theater folk tend to bathe and put on glamour duds. It will never rival the Super Bowl
ratings. But a respectable number of people tune in and a lot of people do care about what they
It's possibly the one time when that old bromide - it's an honor and thrill just to be nominated -
is taken very seriously.
This year's flap became two fold and a Broadway version of a dangling chad is still
Originally the opening number was heavy on 42nd Street which got the competing shows
in the Best Revival Category wanting their share of the opening segment. Their feelings were
asserted. A restructuring was done which placated that sector.
Next came a fight over Jane Eyre that makes the dark drama pale in comparison to the real
hysteresis versus hysteria.
The problem: Jane Eyre, which I have seen twice and enjoyed, as well as personally
liking and respecting the cast members, has had enormous difficulty achieving box office success.
It was ready to fold.
Along comes Tony nominations which can equal a box office boost. Generally a nomination
without a win will not plug up the leaks. However, a win may help to turn a show around or at
least put some financial spring into a tour.
Those who are nominated expect to be equally showcased on the Tony broadcast. They want an
on par representation and nobody can blame them. If they are good enough to be nominated, they
have earned a right to a level televised playing field.
No television executive has ever claimed that a commercial television show on a major network
where viewers translate into advertising dollars - cares about the theater, the feelings of the
nominees or balancing somebody's equal meter.
The problem became something more than just hurt feelings when Paul Gordon, the Tony
nominated composer and co-lyricist of Jane Eyre charged that respected, veteran Tony
Award Show producer Gary Smith "initially told us that we would have three minutes and 32
seconds for our segment." According to Gordon that was based upon the condition that
the show not close prior to the Tony Awards. Wanting that three minutes and 32 second of
national CBS airtime Gordon actively solicited an infusion of money, to keep the show open.
Keeping a show open and turning a profit are two separate things. In this case, obtaining more
money to keep the show open also increased the debt. Gordon obtained funds from good friend Alanis
Reportedly, after the money had been appropriated and spent Smith informed the Jane
Eyre show that their segment had been cut to one minute, 36 seconds.
Gordon's hue and cry took on headline stature.
The question becomes - would the additional funds have been solicited from Morissette or
anyone else had Smith not purportedly promised Gordon three minutes and 32 seconds of air
time on CBS?
MARLA SCHAFFEL winning awards for her starring
role in Jane Eyre Photo By: Laura Deni
"No one ever said three minutes," heatedly responded associate producer Randy
Kirschner, "because we never said amongst ourselves that we had a time limit. What we always
said was - How long is the number, how well does it work within the time that it is in the show
and the time that we have in our show.
"Basically we were very up front when the nominations came out this year. In the past every
musical has gotten four minutes and every revival has gotten three minutes. We were very up
front with the Broadway community that this year things were going to be different," Kirschner
"In the past people have said - Oh I have three minutes or I have four minutes so I'm going to
stretch my time because they look at three or four minutes as a network commercial. So, they
would stretch numbers in their show to get four minutes. We would have a stopwatch and if it was
four minutes, eleven seconds we'd say - No!
"This year from the get-go we said - we're not going to do that," Kirschner stressed. "We said
we're going to do what works best for our show and what works best for your show because not
always does three or four minutes score better than two minutes. So, no one ever said
three minutes," he reiterated.
The Morissette money permitted Jane Eyre to remain open another week. During that
time Marla Schaffel won both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for best actress
in a musical. That picked up the box office enough to keep the wolf at bay literally on a day to day
"I'm not going to take a position that I don't care. I am totally understanding that the Tony
Awards is absolutely one of the most important vehicles for letting the country know what is
happening on Broadway, especially if a show is nominated," admitted Smith and
"Sometimes A Class Act needs more than The Producers which doesn't need
anything. Jane Eyre is still at the point where we're still not sure whether they will be open
on Tony night. We'll have to see what happens then," he said about the show that as of last
Wednesday was slated to shut today and then was staying open on a day to day basis, depending
upon ticket sales. Latest reports have the show staying open until June 10.
"The original musicals are not all exactly alike," continued both Smith and Kirschner. "There is a
tendency to look at it from the pocket of commercialism. If the number can last and be effective
and work for the show in 40 seconds less, that's fine, the time is cut. Sometimes a show needs
more time just to get its point across. Contact is a good example of that," they said
referred to the hit show with a substantial box office that was given a longer television segment.
There has been a Tony Awards show that wasn't preceded by some flap. One of the
more recent butchering was Smith axing a number from Smokey Joe's Cafe.
Nobody should think artistic integrity is even in the building much less the same room. This show
airs on CBS. The ad money needs to be on the table.
ANDRE DE SHIELDS outstanding featured actor in
The Full Monty Photo By: Laura Deni
"The Tony Awards will never compete with the other three major awards shows, the Oscars, the
Emmys and the Grammy's. We know that," concedes Smith.
"That doesn't mean it isn't equally as accessible because it has demographics that really is
advertiser friendly. We are always sold out, but it's not only about the ratings.
Television advertisers tend to gear their money spending to the guys who work 40 plus hours a
week, come home to flop on the sofa in front of the boob tube with a can of beer between their
legs. This year the eyeballs in TV land will be straining to see what's between some other guy's
"This year we intend to do The Full Monty the way it is done in the theater. Maybe the
ratings will soar," speculated Smith.
"That's right,"added Kirschner, "the X-rated Full Monty just like they do it in their show on
Broadway." He admits that what will keep the show being kicked off of television is how the
lighting is handled. "And, shooting it in such a way that CBS will leave us on the air."
Then again, if you've seen one ...
ENTERTAINERS THE BACKBONE OF
Since 1941, the United Service Organization - USO- has been bringing entertainment and a
"touch of home" to the men and women of our Armed Forces. The year 2001 is the 60th
anniversary of the USO, which was born in New York.
Currently Fleet Week in New York City is taking place. Even Bruce Springsteen got into
the act and shot some pool with seamen at Milady's in SoHo.
Last Thursday the USO Woman of the Year Luncheon at the Pierre Hotel honored Joan
Historically, few events have left a more lasting emotional impression on soldiers, sailors,
aviators, Marines, and their families than USO celebrity entertainment. United Service
Organizations has brought top quality entertainment to millions of U.S. military personnel
throughout the world since 1941.
Bob Hope performs for service members and their
families at a USO Center in Fairbanks, Alaska, on his first USO tour, 1942. Photo Credit:
The USO followed the troops everywhere they went in World War II to extend a "touch of home"
to servicemen and women and help them forget the horrors of combat, if only for a few hours.
Cultural icons like Bob Hope, Glenn Miller and his Orchestra, the Andrews Sisters, and the
brightest stars in wartime Hollywood were enlisted by the USO to accomplish their wartime
morale boosting mission.
On the homefront, the USO organized dances, established canteens, community centers and travel
support offices and continued providing quality entertainment from cultural landmarks like the
Hollywood Canteen and Radio City Music Hall to hand-rigged recreation centers on remote
military bases from Maine to Alaska.
After World War II, the USO built upon its previous successes and continued to provide
entertainment and support to troops around the world. When new conflicts arose in Korea and
Vietnam, the USO again provided top quality entertainers like Judy Garland, Ann-Margret, and
REBA McENTIRE entertaining during her recent USO
tour in Italy
Operation Desert Storm saw the USO once again follow our troops to set up shows in the desert
with the indomitable Bob Hope, along with Steve Martin, Dolly Parton, Jay Leno, and many other
While the USO is best known for bringing the biggest celebrities to the troops, its mission
continues to be boosting morale and providing support across a wide spectrum of services. Nearly
120 USO Centers around the world, from Germany, Italy and France to Israel, Japan, Okinawa,
and Korea serve over five million patrons annually.
Recent tours include Salma Hayek, Terry Bradshaw, Christie
Brinkley, Veronica Webb, Reba McEntire, Robert Cray, Joan Jett, Sheryl Crow, and Hootie
and the Blowfish.
December of 1966 found Bob Hope and his
indefatigable USO Show troupers - Phyllis Diller, Joey Heatherton, Vic Damone, Anita Bryant,
Diana Shelton, The Korean Kittens, Les Brown, and Miss World, Reita Faria - entertaining off
the shores of Vietnam. Photo Credit: USO
Master of the one-liner and the USO's tireless morale-booster for the troops, Bob Hope, who
celebrates his 98th birthday on Tuesday, is the USO's "Ambassador of Good Will."
Hope's USO career spans six decades, during which he headlined approximately 60 tours.
Old Ski Nose's first performance for service members was at March Field, California, on
May 6, 1941. Hope's first USO tour went to Alaska and the Aleutians in 1942. His first combat
zone USO tour in 1943, visiting U.S. forces in North Africa, Italy and Sicily.
The first Bob Hope Christmas USO tour was in 1948, where the group performed for the GIs
who participated in the Berlin Airlift. The Bob Hope Christmas USO tour became a USO
tradition, and he visited military bases and veterans hospitals every December for the next 34
Bob Hope performs in Sicily on his 1943 USO
tour. Photo Credit: USO
In 1969, President Lyndon Johnson bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom
the performer for his service to the men and women of the Armed Forces through the USO.
Hope made his final USO tour in December 1990, bringing Christmas cheer to the troops
enforcing Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
In 1997, the USO successfully worked with Congress to designate Bob Hope the first and only
Honorary Veteran of the United States Armed Forces.
At the 1997 USO Holiday Gala, the USO unveiled the Spirit of Hope Award. It is a portrait
bas-relief of Bob Hope, created by St. Louis sculptor Don F. Wiegand, and major donor to the
USO, Michael Fagin of The International Group, Inc
Currently taking place is the NBA Entertainment League Tour, which traveled to several
spots in Korea to entertain our troops from May 20 through tonight. Once in Korea, the group
will played basketball games, met with the troops, signed autographs and toured
The NBA Entertainment League included; Jessica Biel star of Seventh Heaven, Joshua
Morrow the 5-time Emmy nominee for the Young and the Restless, Antwon Tanner an
Emmy-nominee for Boston Public, The Wood and, Sunset Park, Bill Bellamy of
The Brothers, Any Given Sunday and MTV VJ, Glenn Plummer from Speed 2, Up
Close and Personal and Menace II Society, Coolio the Multi-platinum and
Grammy-winning rapper/movie star.
Adam LaVorgna star of Seventh Heaven, Blast and Outside Providence, Kym
Hampton - WNBA Player (New York Liberty), Joe Torry - Poetic Justice, Commitments,
Fled, Lockdown and Sprung Cherokee Parks - NBA Player Dule Hill - West Wing,
Men of Honor, She's All That and Color of Justice, Orlando Jones from
Bedazzled, The Replacements and Magnolia, Larenz Tate - Why do Fools Fall in
Love and Menace II Society, Boyd Kestner - G.I. Jane and Entertaining
Angels, Jon Huertas - Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Why do Fools Fall in
Love, Donald Faison - Remember the Titans, Felicity and Josie and the
Pussycats, Zach Bryan star of Home Improvement, Boston Public and First
Free tickets to some Broadway and off-Broadway shows are distributed, when available, at 5:00
PM on the day of the performance. Tickets are also frequently available for other shows, discos
Nearly 120 USO Centers around the world. Overseas centers located in Germany, Italy, France,
the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Iceland, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Okinawa, Korea, and
the Virgin Islands. 33 independent affiliated USO corporations are located throughout the United
States. An average of over 5,000,000 patrons are served annually.
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MABEL MERCER FOUNDATION
benefit on June 6 will feature Australia singer Judi Connelli at Town Hall, NYC.
For over three-quarters of a century Mabel Mercer mesmerized audiences with her cabaret
singing and musical personality.
The Mabel Mercer Foundation is a non-profit arts organization that perpetuates the memory and
spirit of the beloved cabaret star Mabel Mercer, by stimulating and promoting public interest in
the fragile and endangered art of cabaret.
The Foundation sponsors performances and broadcasts
by both new and established cabaret artists. Most dramatically, the Mabel Mercer Foundation
presents the annual Cabaret Convention at New York City's Town Hall.
Since its inception in
1989, the Convention has hosted more than 1,000 performers. In 1996 and 1997, the Foundation
presented the West Coast Cabaret Conventions in San Francisco, to great critical and public
success. Since the Foundation must take steps to institute cabaret in other cities to ensure the
future of the art form, plans are underway for Cabaret Conventions in Boston and Chicago as
All proceeds and contributions go directly to finance activities and projects that promote the
endangered art of cabaret. The projects include the first-ever London Cabaret Convention and a
celebration of the words and music of Noel Coward at Carnegie Hall on December 1,
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
starring Billy Crudup, Sanaa Lathan and John Pankow begins previews June 5 .Public Theatre
production at The Delacorte in Central Park, NYC.
JEFFREY June 1-10. Civic
Center's Stoner Theater, Des Moines, Iowa.
THE CIVIL WAR Charlotte, NC -
June 5 - June 10.
CINDERELLA Starring Eartha
Kitt May 28-June 3 in the 3,000 seat San Diego Civic Theatre.
THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS starring Ann-Margret May 29-June 10 in Dallas, Texas at the
FOSSE Buffalo, NY Shea's PAC
May 29-June 3.
STARS IN THE ALLEY a free
Broadway concert presented by Continental Airlines and JP Morgan Chase this Wednesday 45th
Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue. Featuring live performances by Broadway's hottest
stars - come rain or come shine.
LINDA EDER May 31-June 3 in
Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall.
BERNADETTE PETERS June 8-9 in
JERRY SEINFELD June 2.
Orpheum Theater, Minneapolis, Minn.
ARCI'S PLACE in New York City
spotlights 15 Tony nominees and/or winners beginning May 29. First in the spotlight is the
Tony-winning star of A Chorus Line, Donna McKechnie, who takes center stage on
Tuesday. On Wednesday it's Priscilla Lopez followed on Thursday, May 31 by Tovah Feldshuh.
On Friday and Saturday the spotlight falls on what is billed as "Sibling Revelry" with Ann
Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway.
THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS who
regularly perform in Las Vegas haven't done that in New York City in 23 years. That changes on
May 29 when Tom and Dick open at Feinstein's at the Regency with performances through June
DAVID COPPERFIELD Caesars in
Atlantic City June 1-2.
JOHN ENTWHISTLE Trump's
Marina in Atlantic City on June 2.
DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER two time
Grammy winning vocalist appears at The Blue Note, NYC May 29-June 3.
THIS AND THAT
NORA EPHRON chose to roll the
dice in Las Vegas at the Bellagio Hotel as her way to celebrating her 60th birthday with family
BOBBY KOSSER a Los
Angeles-based stand-up comic, is teaching a four-week comedy course that ends June 8 at the
University of Utah's department of theater. Kosser, who has opened for such celebrities as Tina
Turner, Juice Newton, Ray Charles, the Pointer Sisters and Dolly Parton, is well-known for his
offbeat (but not off-color) humor. He's been described as "a cross between Woody Allen and
Jerry Seinfeld." He's appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman and the
Tonight Show with Jay Leno, has performed in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Hollywood.
The University isn't kidding around. They're charging $536 for the class which earns passing
students three upper-level credit hours.
SUITE HOME CHICAGO an
International Exhibition of Street Furniture, opens June 1 and will include 500 professionally
decorated pieces of furniture - from sofas to ottomans to televisions - lining the streets from
Michigan Avenue, through the Loop and out to Midway and O'Hare International airports.
Next Column: June 3, 2001
Copyright: May 27, 2001. All Rights Reserved. Reviews,
Interviews, Commentary, Graphics or
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