Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: October 30, 2016
By: Laura Deni


Langston Hughes leaves no doubt that he is a master at delivering profound social commentary in a subtle, entertaining way - in this case - a musical format. Simply Heavenly is a musical folk comedy with music by David Martin. The book and lyrics are by Hughes, based on the novel Simple Takes A Wife and other Simple stories by Hughes.

First produced in New York Off-Broadway May 21 1957 at the 85th Street Playhouse for a run of 44 performances. A Playhouse Theatre, New York mounting beginning August 20, 1957 ran for 62 performances. After the Broadway run it opened Off-Broadway November 8, 1959 at the Renata Theatre, and closed December 31,1957 after 63 additional performances. Total for all engagements: 169 performances. Considered a Broadway flop, short Simple stories written by Hughes turned out to be one of his most financially successful play-writing ventures.

The original, delightful Broadway cast recording has been released by Masterworks Broadway.

The story line is a vehicle for social commentary messages delivered in sweet flowing musical syrup, rather than caustic rhetoric.

At that period in time racial equality was called Black Pride. It was a movement in response to dominant white cultures and ideologies that encouraged black people to celebrate black culture and embrace their African heritage. Later, phrases such as Black is Beautiful and I'm Black and I'm Proud would be coined.

A strong advocate of Black Pride, Hughes skillfully uses Simply Heavenly to get his philosophy across in one of the most politically and statement making musicals to ever be mounted. That fact that it came to be at a pivot point in history when Black Pride was the hue and cry among black males. That Hughes crafted a social statement in such an entertaining and captivating musical listen is impressive. As the saying goes - there's a message in the music.

The plot is a medium for the message, which doesn't overpower, but weaves the point into the listener's brain.

Hughes was considered one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. He was also known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City. He famously wrote about the period that "the negro was in vogue", which was later made politically correct "when Harlem was in vogue".

During the late 1950s and 60s, Hughes' popularity among the younger generation of black writers varied even as his reputation increased worldwide. With the gradual advancement toward racial integration, many black writers considered his writings of black pride and its corresponding subject matter out of date. They considered him a racial chauvinist.

Simply Heavenly didn't last on Broadway probably because it played to the choir - Black Pride followers - and considering the time frame - could have turned off white paying ticket buyers - the people whose buying habits kept productions open.

According to the original liner notes penned by Cal Lampley, "The action is concerned with Jesse Simple, an honest, easy-going man trying to raise enough money to divorce a wife he does not love in order to marry his new love, Joyce Lane; his experiences with the neighborhood characters and his unsuccessful attempts to escape a hussy who is bend on leading him astray. In short, Simply Heavenly is about many aspects of Harlem - the jazz, the humor, and the universal problem of paying the rent and buying a shot of gin."

I don't know anyone who saw the Broadway production. It's highly doubtful there would ever be a revival. To fully enjoy the clever Broadway cast recording it's helpful to know the hidden messages in the basic story, learn about the cast and have an inkling about the morays of that time.

The setting is primarily Paddy's bar, a refuge whose regulars are mostly African-American, hard working or jobless - both considered good enough reasons to drink and sing the blues away.

Married Jesse Simple (Melvin Stewart) is in love with Joyce (Marilyn Berry) but can't resist the advances of a man-eater Zarita (Anna English). The luckless Citfiddle (Brownie McGhee) picks out the most heartrending blues on his guitar, while queen of the drinking hole is the big-busted, short-tempered Mamie (Claudia McNeil).

A muted horn, which leaves no doubt that the location is a bar in a broken dream section of town, opens this statement making production.

Joyce (Berry) asserts that Love Is Simply Heavenly but is putting off sex with Simple (Stewart), not really because they aren't married; rather because he is married to somebody else. In an era before the pill, a pregnancy by a married man would be a disaster.

The ever optimistic Gitfiddle (McGhee) is a guitarist with a glass half full outlook. A guitar string breaks - no problem. Another string gives way - keep on pluckin'. He sings about his survival approach in Broken Strings.

The CD contains dialogue and some of the songs are spoken, or talk/sung.

One of the most powerful political statements on the racial temperature in American is delivered by Simple (Stewart) proffering the Flying Saucer Monologue. He's "broke, busted and disgusted." He's spent his last nickle on a newspaper and carps that there "ain't no news about colored folk." He laments that unless a Negro commits rape, robbery or gets chased by a mob he doesn't get newspaper coverage. Then there are flying saucers: "everybody has seen a flying saucer in the sky, except a Negro. . . . They probably won't even let a flying saucer fly over Harlem just to keep us (Negros) from seeing one." He's irate that he wouldn't be permitted to see a flying saucer, even if he wanted to.

Two time Tony Award nominee Claudia McNeil would go from starring in Simply Heavenly to originating the role of Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun. Photo: 1960 publicity photo.
Melon (John Bouie) is a victim of social change and technology. He used to play guitar in the bar, which has replaced him with a jukebox. Melon, who has a powerful, full bodied voice, sings about that and gals who done him wrong in Did You Ever Hear the Blues, beginning with that muted horn slowly revving to high octane jazz.

Simple (Stewart) also speaks up for the Black man in I'm Gonna Be John Henry. Jesse, like Africa-American folk hero John Henry, trudges on no matter what.

When I’m in a Quiet Mood is an up-tempo comedy relief song duo. Mamie (Claudia McNeil) is tired when she gets home from work. All she wants is five minutes to call her own; but Melon (Bouie) is possessive. He wants her to be at his beck and call. She constantly finds him on her doorstep, relents and lets him in.

Zarita (English) delivers a 50s style ballad Look for the Morning Star, followed by Joyce (Berry) singing a sappy duet ode to Simple (You’re the) Gatekeeper of My Castle, in which she declares that she trusts him with her heart.

Zarita cuts loose in a raucous song of seduction Let’s Ball Awhile. If the off the wall tempo is any indication of Simple's loving making ability, he doesn't last long.

Hopkins (Duke Williams) Beat It Out 'Mon is a nod to the musical craze of that era - the calypso. Zarita (English) asserts female equality by announcing that Simple is nothing more than just one of The Men in My Life. She'd also be willing to hook up with Sammy Davis, Jr., then-Congressman Adam Clayton Powell or Jackie Robinson, pondering whether the retired Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman could still be an "active player." The double entendre lyrics muse what would happened if his bases got loaded.

Good Old Girl deserved to be a showstopper with critics raving about the voice of Claudia McNeil as Mamie. She sings about making her way through thick and thin and warns about letting a strange man getting his hands on you; "they're no telling, baby, what a strange cat will do."

That is followed by another statement making social observation about the military becoming integrated in Mississippi Monologue. Simple commenting that there are no colored generals in the Army. He fantasizes about being the first colored general. In World War III Simple wants to be in the Army commanding white guys who he knows won't obey him. He says he'd do what all the other generals do - stay waaay in the background and let others do the fighting. His platform is that he'd be willing to let bygones be bygones - referring to when white faces called him toast and promised that after the fighting is over he'd instruct the troops: "let's be Americans for once . . . let's all be from the same group."

The cast inclusive finale sings of a country where there is peace and equality.

The cast includes:

Twice nominated for a Tony Award, Claudia McNeil made her New York stage debut in 1953, playing Tituba in The Crucible at the Martin Beck Theater. Four years later, Langston Hughes chose her to sing in Simply Heavenly. She won critical acclaim for this role. Listen to her boozy, bluesy booming voice and you'll understand why.

Seventeen months later McNeil would originate Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun - the play that took its title comes from the poem Harlem (also known as A Dream Deferred) by Hughes.

McNeil was married when she was 19 to a husband whom she described as a "very wonderful man." She had two sons, but lost her husband in World War II. Both her sons were killed in the Korean War.

Mel Stewart began his acting career in 1959 with small roles in TV and films. In the early 1960s, in addition to Simply Heavenly, Stewart appeared on Broadway in Purlie Victorious, The Hostage, and The Cool World.

He appeared in numerous films and television shows from the 1960s to the 1990s. He is best known for playing Henry Jefferson on the popular television series All in the Family and for playing section chief Billy Melrose on the television series Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Stewart recorded an album of Langston Hughes' poetry on Folkways Records: Langston Hughes' The Best of Simple.

Anna Whitsitt English as the saucy Zarita in Simply Heavenly was the opposite of her upbringing. According to the Mount Clemens, Michigan Public Library Local History Sketches African American History. "Among the many families that have worked hard for the betterment of the community is the Whitsitt family. Every member of this large family has been talented and has shared his or her gifts and talents with others. The father was pastor of Turner Chapel CME Church and his wife taught music, dramatics and fine arts. Their son Terrell was the first black graduate of Mount Clemens High School. He was the recipient of a scholarship to the University of Michigan and later distinguished himself in the field of urban renewal. Anna, the eldest daughter, made good on Broadway as an actress."

The era of this Broadway production was significant for Marilyn Berry who appeared to have been active in both equality and power for black women. The Black Pride movement afforded men their first thrust of assertion, sometimes to the detriment of black women.

The book Black Power TV by Devorah Heitner published by Duke University Press chronicles the emergence of Black public affairs television starting in 1968. The book lauds Berry and Anna Horsford for a television performance before a well dressed all female Black audience in which the actresses read poems about empowering Black woman. The poems criticized Black men for "using their newly felt empowerment to form relationships with white women."

From 1948-1957 John Bouie was a Broadway regular. In addition to Simply Heavenly he also appeared in Finian's Rainbow, Remains to be Seen, The Green Pastures, Tobacco Road and Set my People Free.

Walter Brown "Brownie" McGhee was an African-American folk music and Piedmont blues singer and guitarist, best known for his collaboration with the harmonica player Sonny Terry. Prior to Simply Heavenly McGhee appeared in the original Broadway production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

Duke Williams was a fixture on Broadway from 1936 through 1960. During the 40s he also appeared in several movies.

An interesting group of performers who were active on Broadway during an era which was a pivot point for their heritage. They deliver those Black Pride messages in Simply Heavenly with the intent Hughes intended.

David Martin's music hits all the right notes - from wailing blues, rhythmic jazz, and Broadway or movie production numbers. Martin also did the orchestrations and conducted the orchestra and chorus.

Available on Masterworks Broadway, this CD is delightfully clever with an enjoyable score offering social commentary as relevant today as they were 50-years-ago.

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


includes work in diverse mediums, including animation, participatory intervention, and video.

The artists in this exhibition challenge the conventional understanding of place. By portraying often-overlooked cultural and historical narratives, Chia-En Jao, Kan Xuan, Sun Xun, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, Tsang Kin-Wah, Yangjiang Group, and Zhou Tao explore concepts of geography and nation-state. Their artworks address specific locations, such as their hometowns, remote borderlands, or a group of uninhabited islands, as well as abstract ideas, such as territory, boundaries, or even utopia. China, too, is presented here, not only as a country but also as a notion that is open for questioning and reinvention.

"Tales of Our Time is not a monolithic report on the state of contemporary art in China, nor does it encapsulate any artistic trends or phenomena. Instead, it highlights the unique aspects of each artist’s perspective. The artworks - all of which are new commissions - are not just about China; they examine social and political tensions experienced worldwide, exploring themes such as individual and collective memory, migration and urbanization, cultural inclusion and exclusion, and the contradiction of technological development. The tales told in this exhibition consider our seemingly more connected, globalized world as one that is still filled with fractured land, fragmented history, and upended traditions, but, at the same time, they also propose ways to imagine culture differently."

The second exhibition of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, Tales of Our Time is organized by Xiaoyu Weng, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Associate Curator of Chinese Art, and Hou Hanru, Consulting Curator, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative. Kyung An, Assistant Curator, Asian Art, provides curatorial support. All commissioned works will enter the Guggenheim’s collection.

Opening November 4 at the Guggenheim in New York City.

Tom Wesslemann, Great American Nude #74, 1965. Gripflex on molded plastic. Photo: The Ringling
will open several permanent galleries devoted to modern and contemporary art in all media on November 4, 2016.

The Ringling is the State Art Museum of Florida. Affiliated with Florida State University, it is one of the largest university art centers in the nation.

This major commitment to modern and contemporary art caps the five-year anniversary of The Ringling’s Art of Our Time initiative to present and commission new works by contemporary artists in the visual and performance fields. Located in Sarasota, Florida, the new galleries will showcase The Ringling’s growing 20th-and 21st-century collections and demonstrate its increased support of contemporary interdisciplinary work.

Modern and contemporary art has enjoyed an important presence at The Ringling since its first director, A. Everett (“Chick”) Austin, Jr., ensured it was an essential component of the institution’s offerings. Building on this legacy, The Ringling revitalized this commitment to modern and contemporary art with the hiring of Dr. Matthew McLendon as curator of modern and contemporary art and the subsequent 2011 installation of James Turrell’s meditative Skyspace Joseph’s Coat.

Four galleries in the Museum of Art’s Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing have been permanently reassigned to showcase rotating selections from The Ringling’s modern and contemporary collection, and a new flexible installation space underwritten by Keith and Linda Monda will debut. In addition, The Ringling’s American and European studio glass holdings are set to be unveiled in the Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion in 2017. The Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion will also serve as the formal entrance to the Historic Asolo Theater, The Ringling’s active contemporary performance venue.

The Monda Gallery will open with a site-specific installation by the American artist Anne Patterson. Entitled Pathless Woods, which references a line of Byron’s poetry - “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods” - the interactive, multi-media installation invites visitors to find their own path through a forest of ribbons. Each directional choice leads to a unique experience. Pathless Woods continues Patterson’s exploration of synesthetic environments, which began with her acclaimed 2013 project Graced With Light at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

The work at The Ringling will feature the musical piece, The Garden of Cosmic Speculation by Michael Gandolfi as well as projections by the artist Adam Larsen. On Thursday evenings a scent evocative of a forest and created specifically for the installation by Beau Rhee, will be sprayed in the galleries. Patterson believes the resulting experience will leave visitors feelings as if they are “swimming through color.”

Facts about the exhibition: This is an interactive, family-friendly, hands-on exhibition in which visitors can immerse themselves with contemporary art as they may never have before.

All ribbon is satin to best reflect light.

14 different colors of varying thickness (all under 1”) are used, resulting in 19 types of ribbon.

8472 strands of ribbon at 184” creating more than 24 miles of ribbon.

740 hours of volunteer help cutting and assembling ribbon is needed to create the work.

Curated by Matthew McLendon, Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art. Opening Friday, November 4 at The Ringling in Sarasota, Florida.


The always stylish Duchess Kate will attend a movie premiere for A Street Cat Named Bob.
will attend the UK film premiere of A Street Cat Named Bob, based on James Bowen's autobiographical bestselling book of the same name. It's the true feel good story of how James Bowen, a young homeless busker, played by Luke Treadaway and a stray ginger cat.

Bowen found the injured cat and despite his dire conditions nursed the cat back to health. The story follows how they ultimately save each other and transform their lives. Other stars of the film include Joanne Froggatt who played lady's maid Anna Bates in all six seasons of Downton Abbey and Anthony Head who played Uther Pendragon in Merlin, Ruta Gedmintas and, of course, Bob the Cat.

The film is directed by Roger Spottiswoode and was written by Tim John and Maria Nation. Music by David Hirschfelder and Charlie Fink.

The red carpet film premiere is in aid of Action Addiction and takes place in Curson Mayfair, London, on November 3, 2016. The wife of Prince William is Patron of the charity.

The Duchess of Cambridge will walk the red carpet and meet representatives of Action on Addiction and also meet the stars, cast and crew of A Street Cat Named Bob.

Action on Addiction “brings help, hope and freedom to those living with addiction and those living with people who suffer problems of addiction” according to a press release from Kensington Palace.

It is the only UK charity that covers all fields of addiction from treatment, basic education to honors degree level education, research, campaigns and support for families of those addicted.

The film will be released in the United States on November 18, 2016.

PRINCE WILLIAM husband of the above mention always stunning Kate, also has busy schedule. As patron of Centrepoint he will attend the gala November 10, 2016 at Kensington Palace in London. The star-studded fundraising gala and awards evening is in aid of homeless youth and those in risk of being homeless.

Multi-Grammy winner Phil Collins, Ellie Goulding, Craig David and Dirty Vegas will entertain.

Hosted by Centrepoint Ambassador Jonathan Ross, the night will also include the Centrepoint Awards, a ceremony recognizing the achievements of five homeless young people who have turned their lives around.

The awards will be presented across five different categories and a VIP guest will also receive The Centrepoint Youth Inspiration Award; previous winners include Jon Bon Jovi and Novak Djokovic.

TECTONIC AT 25 celebrating 25 years of groundbreaking theater. A benefit production directed by Moisés Kaufman, hosted by Jane Fonda, takes place November 7, 2016 at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

This is a one-night-only theatrical event featuring excerpts from Tectonic's plays, including: Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
The Laramie Project
33 Variations
I Am My Own Wife
The Tallest Tree in the Forest
Carmen: An Afro-Cuban Jazz Musical
El Gato con Botas
London Mosquitoes

Plus a sneak peek at a new play in development.

AN ENDURING VISION GALA the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) 15th annual gala will take place on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Grammy-winning performer Diana Krall is the special musical guest.

This year’s honorees are United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and philanthropists Frank Giustra and Steve Tisch. Emmy award-winning producer and popular talk show host Andy Cohen will serve as emcee for the event.

This year’s honorees have a long history of supporting EJAF and the global fight to end HIV/AIDS.

ITALIAN OPERA GALA a night of enchantment with the most beautiful arias and duets of the romantic Verdi & Puccini melodrama.

Performed by internationally acclaimed artists, Italian soprano Monica De Rosa McKay and the tenor Gian Luca Pasolini accompanied by Larisa Capatina & Vitali Mihailiuc Piano Duo that will also perform some solo pieces. This prestigious event, under the patronage of the Italian Industry and Commerce Office in the UAE, is one of the key events in the calendar of the Italian Festival Weeks 2016, the annual cultural, social and economic forum organized by the Italian Industry & Commerce Office in the UAE.

Purchase of VIP ticket includes a post-concert cocktail reception.

November 10, 2016 at the Centrepoint Theatre at Mall of the Emirates Dubai, UAE.


Who gets credit is more than merely ego. That has never been more apparent that the current feuding between the Off-Broadway non-profit, developmental space Ars Nova Theatre which first commissioned the Dave Malloy project Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and the Broadway producers of the production now at the Imperial Theater on Broadway.

The production stars Josh Groban and was a sensational hit off-Broadway. Nobody is discussing either Groban or the show's track record. It's the billing that is getting all of the ink and gossip.

The man in the street isn't going to even barely comprehend this problem or pending lawsuits. It's an insider dispute, the results of which can impact other small nonprofits whose wish on a star is to be the incubator for a Broadway show.

The successful Off-Broadway world premiere in October 2012 has now transferred to Broadway in a $14 million show with Howard and Janet Kagan as the show’s commercial producers. The Kagans are reportedly contractually required to list the production as “The Ars Nova production of . . .” . Much to the dismay of Ars Nova, when the first night of previews arrived on October 18, 2016, they discovered that the words “production of” were omitted and Ars Nova was listed last among 38 other above-the-title producers in the Playbill.

Ars Nova is promised 1.5 percent of the weekly gross box office which would increasing to 2 percent once the show recoups its capitalization.

That financial agreement seems secure and not under discussion. What is currently important to Ars Nova is to be recognized as a springboard for young artists and productions.

This is the first time Ars Nova has seen a show it developed transfer to Broadway. That type of success is crucial for small developmental theaters in order to gain traction as somewhere to nurture a success.

After numerous heated discussions, as reported first by both the New York Times and NY Post the Kagans barred Ars Nova officials from the theater and threatened to prevent cast members from performing at Ars Nova's annual fund-raiser by scheduling the cast album recording on the same day, according to Ars Nova.

The billing credit war boiled over when Ars Nova founding artistic director Jason Eagan and managing director Renee Blinkwolt, through their publicist John Wyszniewski of Blake Zidell & Associates, LLC, sent out a lengthy and impassioned E-mail on October 28, 2016, explaining the situation and why they have - or intend to - file a lawsuit.

In part the e-mail states:

"With seemingly no other alternatives to seek remedy for this lost value, our Board voted unanimously last night to file suit for breach of contract to compel the commercial producers of The Great Comet to honor their contractual obligation to bill the show as "The Ars Nova Production Of". We are devastated that it has come to this, but steadfast in our belief that the billing we are owed is both valuable, and deserved.

"It is for this reason that we are so grateful to you all for standing with us while we fight for the credit we deserve. Ars Nova’s remarkable Board of Directors have looked the face of adversity in the eye and carried us through. We’ve heard from donors and industry leaders here at home and across the country who have offered to help in any way they can. We’ve also heard from experienced commercial producers who have ongoing, respectful relationships with not-for-profit theaters and have voiced their support for our position."

Ars Nova is represented by attorney Richard A. Roth who reportedly sent the Kagans a "blistering" letter on Wednesday, October 26, 2016. The letter reportedly accused Howard Kagan of breach of fiduciary trust, accusing him of threatening to stage “a smear campaign in the press in order to irreparably harm Ars Nova’s reputation” as well as by destroying its gala. The letter also accused Mr. Kagan of attempting to defame Blinkwolt.

As first reported by the New York Times on Friday, October 28, 2016, Ars Nova stated they are filing two complaints: one, with the American Arbitration Association, accusing Kagan’s production company of breach of contract; and another, with a New York state court, accusing Kagan of interfering with a contract and breaching his fiduciary duty.

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY November 2, 2016: In a joint announcement: "Ars Nova and the producers of The Great Comet deeply regret that a contractual dispute became public, and are pleased to share that the matter has now been resolved, privately, and will continue to work to achieve success for The Great Comet on Broadway.


Jennifer Lopez appearing in Las Vegas 2016.
who regularly performs at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas with her show, Jennifer Lopez: All I Have, will star in the NBC production of Bye Bye Birdie Live! set to air late in 2017.

Lopez will play Rosie and serve as an executive producer on Birdie, which is based on the Tony Award-winning musical.

Multiple Tony award winner and American Theater Hall of Fame member Harvey Fierstein, who is starring in NBC's December 7 production of Hairspray Live!, will write the teleplay adaptation.

MULTI-GRAMMY WINNER JACK WHITE will be honored at The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing Grammy Week celebration on Wednesday, February 8, 2017, at The Village Studios in West Los Angeles.

The annual event, now in its milestone 10th year, will celebrate the artistic contributions of the P&E Wing's 6,500-plus professional members, and will highlight White's accomplishments and ongoing support for the art and craft of recorded music.

Grammy Week culminates with the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, February 12, 2017.

ASSISTED LOVING a special reading based on Bob Morris' memoir True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad.

Directed by Gordon Greenberg and featuring Richard Kind, Alex Brightman, Alix Korey and Quinn Mattfield.

What would you do if your 70-year-old father dragged you into his search for new romance after 40 years of marriage? 92Y presents an exclusive reading of Assisted Loving, called a "heartfelt and hilarious true tale of a year of dating dangerously" which centers on David, a resolute bachelor, who learns more about love than he bargained for - and as his father's wingman and screener - sees some things he'd rather forget.

Assisted Loving was first staged at MCC Theater , Dixon Place and Daryl Roth Theatre’s D Lounge as a solo show starring Bob Morris. This new stage version has its world premiere at the Capital Repertory in Albany, NY as part of their Next Act! New Play Summit.

Monday, November 7 at 92Y in New York City.

MOST BROADWAY SHOWS have chosen to not perform on election night performance on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - opting instead for a normally dark Monday night show. The Tuesday dark night is meant as an encouragement for people to get out to vote and a realization that citizens are going to have a mind set of wanting to watch the voting results, rather than applauding for a show encore.

OCTOBER 31 is National Trick or Treat for UNICEF Day.


17th ANNUAL SPIRIT OF IRELAND GALA honoring Ursula Burns, the first African American woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, Xerox; Jean Butler, the iconic dancer and choreographer; and Hozier, the international recording star raised a record $1.25 million towards the IAC's annual programming and included a major announcement about the Almost Home campaign, which is nearing completion. The Center has now raised $53 million towards the $62 million in capital required for the construction of a brand new, vastly expanded home for the Irish arts and culture in New York City.

Honoree Hozier (aka Andrew Hozier-Byrne), whose debut single, Take Me to Church, reached quintuple-platinum status and was nominated for the 2015 Grammy for Song of the Year, attended with his parents and extended family and performed two songs: Angel of Small Death and Take Me to Church, accompanying himself on guitar.

Gabriel Byrne, an Honorary Co-Chair of the gala, presented IAC's Spirit of Ireland Award to Jean Butler, recognizing her historic role in Riverdance, "a show that meant so much for the evolution of our culture and the confidence of our country," but adding, "it is where she has gone from there as an artist that I find so compelling."

Ursula Burns, the groundbreaking Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation spoke of her deep love of Ireland, which has grown over years of visiting her best friend, whom she formed a bond with at the start of her remarkable career and who later moved to Ireland.

Paul Muldoon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet and New Yorker Poetry Editor and pop music lyricist, wrote a song for the occasion, Our Name in the Song and performed it live with his band Rogue Oliphant. The evening also featured a performance from the extraordinary Irish duo fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill.

LES LIAISONS DANGEREUES by Christopher Hampton.

Directed by the Donmar’s Artistic Director Josie Rourke.

Starring Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber,

In addition to Janet McTeer as La Marquise de Merteuil and Liev Schreiber as Le Vicomte de Valmont, the cast includes Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Madame de Tourvel, Raffi Barsoumian as Le Chevalier Danceny, Ora Jones as Madame de Volanges, Elena Kampouris as Cécile Volanges, Katrina Cunningham as Émilie, Josh Salt as Azolan, Joy Franz as Victoire, David Patterson as Major-domo, Laura Sudduth as Julie and Mary Beth Peil as Madame de Rosemonde.

Former lovers, La Marquise de Merteuil and Le Vicomte de Valmont compete in games of seduction and revenge. These merciless aristocrats toy with the hearts and reputations of innocents. Merteuil incites Valmont to corrupt the convent-educated Cecile de Volanges before her wedding night but Valmont has other designs. His target is the peerlessly virtuous and happily married Madame de Tourvel.

The Donmar Warehouse production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses will open on Broadway on Sunday, October 30th at the Booth Theatre, New York City.

PARTY PEOPLE developed and directed by Tony Award nominee Liesl Tommy.

Music composition by UNIVERSES and Broken Chord, and choreography by Millicent Johnnie.

"Complicated legacies of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords Org/Party, UNIVERSES created Party People based on dozens of interviews with members of these groundbreaking, society-changing groups. Party People imagines a present-day reunion at an art opening curated by two young counter culturalists; but the curators themselves have complex relationships with the Party members, who fought injustice and provided free food and medical care for their communities - often at the expense of the people who loved them most. Old wounds and generational divides collide in this astonishing, multi-media theatrical event about the price of being a revolutionary, and what it means for those who come after."

The complete cast features Oberon K.A. Adjepong (Blue); Michael Elich (Marcus, FBI Agent); Gizel Jiménez (Clara); Ramona Keller (Amira); Christopher Livingston (Malik); Jesse J. Perez (Tito); Sophia Ramos (Maruca); Robynn Rodriguez (Donna, Fina); Horace V. Rogers (Solias); William Ruiz a.k.a. Ninja (Jimmy “Primo”); Mildred Ruiz-Sapp (Helita); and Steven Sapp (Omar).

Party People begins performances on Tuesday, November 1 and runs through Sunday, December 11, 2016 at The Public in New York City. . UNIVERSES is known for their fusion of theater, poetry, jazz, hip-hop, politics, down home blues and Spanish boleros.

NOT THAT JEWISH written and performed by Emmy award winner Monica Piper.

Directed by Mark Waldrop.

"This autobiographical ride of a Jew...'ish' woman's life. From her show business family in the Bronx, to a WASP wedding, to her first step on a comedy club stage and life as a single mom, Piper shares the milestones and moments that shaped her life with the same signature wit found in her writing on Roseanne, Mad About You, and her Emmy Award winning work on Rugrats. In 90 lightning fast minutes, the audience travels with Piper from innocence to individuality, reliant to resilient, sharing both the hilarity and the heartache along the way."

Set design by Michael Carnahan, lighting design by Julie Duro, sound design by Ian Wehrle, and projection design by Zachary G. Borovay.

Playing through January 2017 at New World Stages in New York City.

SWEAT a New York premiere by Lynn Nottage.

Directed by Kate Whoriskey.

"With warm humor and tremendous heart, Sweat tells the story of a group of friends who have spent their lives sharing drinks, secrets and laughs while working together on the line of a factory floor. But when layoffs and picket lines begin to chip away at their trust, the friends find themselves pitted against each other in the hard fight to stay afloat. This stunning new play about the collision of race, class, family and friendship, and the tragic, unintended costs of community without opportunity."

The complete cast features Carlo Albán (Oscar), James Colby (Stan), Khris Davis (Chris), Johanna Day (Tracey), John Earl Jelks (Brucie), Will Pullen (Jason), Miriam Shor (Jessie), Lance Coadie Williams (Evan), and Michelle Wilson (Cynthia).

Runs through Sunday, November 27, at The Public Theater in New York City.

’TIL BETH DO US PART by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten.

Directed by Mike Rademaekers.

Career-driven Suzannah needs help in her Cincinnati home. Enter Beth, a gregarious, highly-motivated daughter of the South, who explodes into the household and whips it into an organized, well-run machine. Things go uproariously awry just as Suzannah's boss arrives for that all-important dinner.

The cast includes: Kay Baker as Suzannah, Patrick Lescarbeau as Gibby, Wendy Ferrell as Beth, Laura Gisi as Margo, Guy Gober as Hank, and Sally Stemac as Celia Carmichael.

Thursday November 3, 2016 to Sunday November 20, 2016 at the Hill Country Community Theatre in Cottonwood Shores, TX.

WILDERNESS a World Premiere written by Anne Hamburger and Seth Bockley.

Directed by Seth Bockley.

Wilderness explores the way that families struggle to survive the extraordinary pressures and complexities that accompany coming of age in 21st Century America. The work is anchored by six real families’ stories, narratives that elucidate issues of mental health, addiction, and gender and sexual identity, inspired by firsthand interviews and field research conducted by En Garde Arts’ Executive Producer, Anne Hamburger, and co-writer, director Seth Bockley. Wilderness is inspired by Hamburger’s own personal journey with her son.

Promoted as "six adolescents stand at the brink of emotional chaos, lost in social stigma, insecurity, aggression and anger. Parents risk losing their children forever. Thoughts race. Emotions fire. Isolation intensifies. One question emerges: how do we persevere when we feel most alone in the world?

"Wilderness is set in the high desert of southern Utah, where peers share their thoughts and feelings with one another and try to unearth the courage to change. Video and projection design combines sweeping video landscapes with documentary footage of parents, as the show veers from familiar domestic confines to the harshness of the high desert. An evocative folk rock score by Kyle Henderson and his band Desert Noises, Kyle Miller with his band Towr’s, and Gregory Alan Isakov accompanies visceral and emotionally charged movement by Devon de Mayo and Patrick McCollum."

The cast includes Holly Demorro, Caitlin Goldie, Taylor Noble, Riley Suter, Welker White, Jake Williams, and Luke Zimmerman.

The creative team includes Devon De Mayo and Patrick McCollum (co-movement directors), Carolyn Mraz (sets), Claudia Brown (costumes), Scott Bolman (lights), Mike Tutak (video & projection design), Mikhail Fiksel (sound), Michael Hunter (music director), Morgan Jenness (dramaturg), Lory Henning (production manager), and Spencer Armstrong (assistant director and production stage manager).

Performances at Abrons Arts Center in New York City through November 13, 2016.


ADELE opens a two nighter Tuesday, November 1, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. On Friday she begins another two night gig at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

THE CAPITOL STEPS, a Washington DC-based comedy troupe that began as a group of Senate Staffers, will present a show based on songs from their current album Mock the Vote at the Constant Center of the Virginia Arts Festival on Thursday, November 3.

KRISTIN CHENOWETH performs her new show My Love Letter to Broadway: For Good, 12 performances only beginning November 2 at the Lunt–Fontanne Theatre in New York City.

TONY BENNETT crooning his hits Tuesday, November 1, at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle. On Wednesday the ageless icon will be at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, CA. Friday's stand is at Harrah's in Valley Center, CA. On Saturday he can be enjoyed at the City National Civic in San Jose, CA.

ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY opens a five night gig Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at Birdland in New York City.

RUMER WILLIS brings her Over the Love Tour to the Cabaret Jazz Room of The Smith Center in Las Vegas November 4-5, 2016.

OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN in the spotlight Friday, November 4, at Bluesville at Horseshoe Tunica in Robinsonville, MS. Saturday's stop is at the Riverdome in Bossier City, LA. Next Sunday, November 6, she's on stage at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, Texas.


CECILIA HART stage and screen actress and wife of actor James Earl Jones, died Sunday, October 16, 2016 in Westport, CT after a yearlong battle with ovarian cancer. She was 68.

She appeared on Broadway in revivals of The Heiress (1976) and Design for Living (1984). She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her performance in the premiere production of Tom Stoppard’s Dirty Linen & New-Found-Land (1977).

Hart and Jones reportedly met when they starred together in the CBS series Paris, which was Jones’ first starring role. He played Police Captain Woody Paris, who supervised a team of young detectives. Hart played one of those detectives, Stacy Erickson. The show ran for one season, 1979 – 1980.

The two later played opposite one another in a theatrical revival of Shakespeare’s Othello. They married in 1982. It was the second marriage for both.

She was formerly married to actor Bruce Weitz from 1971 to 1980. Hart is survived by Jones and their son, Flynn Earl Jones.

HOWARD DAVIES three time Tony nominated British theatre director, died from cancer on October 25, 2016. He was 71.

. The award winning Davies directed for the stage since the early 1970s. He was most associated with the Old Vic and the Royal National Theatre.

He served as an associate director for both the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he directed Les liaisons dangereuses, Macbeth, and Troilus and Cressida. He also did extensive work for the Royal National Theatre, where his projects included Hedda Gabler, The House of Bernarda Alba, Pygmalion, The Crucible, The Shaughraun, and Paul, and where he directed Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard which opened in May 2011 and was broadcast on June 30, 2011 as part of National Theatre Live. At the Almeida Theatre he directed Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Play About the Baby. While at the Hampstead Theatre he directed the 2012 premiere of 55 Days.

Davies' award-winning productions included The Iceman Cometh, for which he won the Laurence Olivier Award and London Critics Circle Award, and All My Sons, for which he won the Laurence Olivier Award and the Evening Standard Award.

Davies made his Broadway debut with Piaf in 1981. His Broadway credits also include Les liaisons dangereuses, the 1990 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the 1993 revival of My Fair Lady, Translations, the 1999 revival of The Iceman Cometh, the 2002 revival of Private Lives, and the 2007 revival of A Moon for the Misbegotten.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to drama.

Davies is survived by his wife, actress Clare Holman.

Next Column: November 6, 2016
Copyright: October 30, 2016 All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary, Photographs or Graphics from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, utilized as leads, or used in any manner without permission, compensation and/or credit.
Link to Main Page

Laura Deni

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