Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: October 31, 2010
By: Laura Deni


Would people still have fun at a party if all the trappings were missing?

Singalong Sound of Music is a no frills version of the elaborate audience participation event Sing-a-Long Sound of Music.

No costumes, no goodie bag, no host, no contests.

Does that mean no fun?

Not at all.

Elaborately produced movie sing-a-alongs have been a lucrative, popular, fun attraction ever since smart folks in England decided to stage Sing-a-Long Sound of Music a decade ago. It became a cinematic phenomenon and now plays at venues like the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, and at a private celebrity parties like the 2001 Sing-a-Long Sound of Music hosted by Elton John, in which John and 40 of his friends dressed up as nuns to ‘sing-a-long with Julie’ to celebrate then boyfriend David Furnish’s birthday.

Other over-the-top produced sing-alongs include The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Grease, Fiddle on the Roof, Annie and Abba.

The format is the same: a host, ticket buyers receive a goodie bag which contained props - in the case of Sing-a-Long Sound of Music things like some edelweiss, curtain material and a party popper which is launched at the precise moment Maria and the Captain kiss.

The fancy dress competition has almost become a show in its own right as more inventive creations appear. Trusty favorites include nuns, Marias, brown paper packages tied up with string and the occasional Nazi - a really bad choice.

Celebrating the 45th anniversary of the movie, the film has recently been digitally remastered and restored for its high definition Blu-ray Disc debut November 2; unites new fans and old through the amazing Singalong Sound of Music events nationwide; and the soundtrack CD is one of the best selling soundtracks of all time, having gone Platinum more than 12 times. Its landmark score includes some of the most beloved songs in the American songbook including My Favorite Things, Edelweiss, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, Do Re Mi, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, and the title song.

Broadway To Vegas was invited to check this out.

The week night patrons appeared to be a neatly groomed, middle-aged crowd.

From left to right: Duane Chase (Kurt), Heather Menzies Urich (Louisa), Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich), Christopher Plummer (Captain vonTrapp), Oprah, Julie Andrews (Maria), Charmain Carr (Liesl), Angela Cartwright (Brigitta), Kym Karath (Gretl) and Debbie Turner (Marta) in their first ever reunion interview. Credit: Harpo, Inc./All Rights Reserved/George Burns.
Comfy in a cozy seat, a couple entered carrying plastic water bottles and sat down directly in front of me.

"Don't you think they should have given us water bottles to squirt each other during the rain?" a woman asked her companion.

Her reference was to the famous singing while getting drenched scene in which Liesl is caught in a downpour and sneaks back into the house through Maria's (Julie Andrews) window. The thought of getting squirted with water to the tune of Sixteen Going on Seventeen resulted in changing seats and scoping out the nearest Exit sign.

Instead of cartoons or pitches to go buy popcorn and candy, there are live theatre event promos. One was for Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion which, unfortunately, had already taken place. The promo for National Theatre Live is timely and glorious. ( See Broadway To Vegas column of September 26, 2010 )

With people watching videos on hand held devices boasting a screen the size of a postage stamp, larger than life is making its comeback.

There is something about the massive movie screen that is overpoweringly impressive. High definition permits colors, costumes, lighting to grasp the audience, holding them as willing captives so lifelike performances can enthrall. With Broadway tickets easily topping the $100 mark, tickets for these events seem a bargain.

After whetting the appetite for more big screen shows of something other than the normal release movies, there were two short, interesting bits. One was a tempting look at Austria as a vacation destination, while another features a grandson of the Trapps talking about the Trapp Family Lodge. Located in Stowe, Vermont the Austrian inspired resort offers everything from time share homes to affordable vacations and wedding packages.

Julie Andrews as Maria and Christopher Plummer as Captain vonTrapp. When they kiss the audience applauded.
Rebecca Luker narrates a fascinating segment on the making of the classic film and how this priceless treasure has been restored - including details about lighting the church during the marriage scene, the importance of the viewer being able to distinguish even the fabric weave in the costumes, down to the desire for the customer to be able to notice the different shades in a blade of grass.

The attention holding preview led into the main feature Singalong Sound of Music.

Many in the audience instinctively got into an upright, breathe-from-the-diaphragm, project-that-singing-voice posture.

The first major musical number has the nuns heading into the chapel to pray. Displayed on the screen are the words they are singing. They are in Latin.

People slump back in their seats and giggling is heard throughout the theater.

From the second Christopher Plummer as Captain Von Trapp sang one note, it was as though permission had been given for the men to participate. From that note on it was full bore singing -- nothing raucous, showoff or obnoxious. Just a more enthusiastic version of what you might hear in church.

The only song not part of a group sing-in was the magnificent Climb Ev’ry Mountain which had the audience sitting in total silence - almost reverence - with several clapping at the song's end. The song is sung by the Mother Abbess played by Peggy Wood. However, Wood's singing voice is actually that of mezzo-soprano Marjorie McKay, the wife of the rehearsal pianist Harper McKay.

Romantics needn't fret. That kiss between Maria and The Captain - which causes the poppers to be set off in the fully staged version - elicited cheers and clapping.

Some of the Nazi figures got booed and the nuns who stole the car parts were cheered. At the movie's end people didn't rush out of the theater. Many left softly singing.

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follow the ancient Egyptians' journey from death to the afterlife in this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition focusing on the Book of the Dead, a compilation of spells designed to guide the deceased through the dangers of the underworld and ensure eternal

Hidden in the British Museum's vaults for two centuries, they are finally seeing the light of day.

The Book of the Dead, used for over 1500 years between c. 1600 BC and 100 AD, is not a single text, but a compilation of spells on scrolls thought to equip the dead with knowledge and power which would guide them safely through the dangers of the hereafter and ultimately ensure eternal life.

The British Museum has one of the most comprehensive collections of Book of the Dead manuscripts on papyrus in the world, and this exhibition will be the first opportunity to see so many examples displayed together. The exhibition will include the longest Book of the Dead in the world, the Greenfield Papyrus, which measures 37 metres in length and has never been shown publicly in its entirety before.

Also on display will be the famous paintings from the papyri of Ani and Hunefer, together with selected masterpieces on loan from major international collections. These treasures will be exhibited alongside a dazzling array of painted coffins, gilded masks, amulets, jewelry, tomb figurines and mummy trappings. State-of-the-art visualization technology will provide new ways of accessing and understanding this key source in the history of world religions.

The Book of the Dead opens a window onto the complex belief systems of the ancient Egyptians where death and afterlife were a central focus. Though the name may be familiar today, the wealth of magical images and texts is actually much richer than is generally known.

Beautifully colored illustrations graphically show the fields and rivers of the Netherworld, the gods and demons whom the deceased would meet, and the critical ‘weighing of the heart’ ritual the judgment which would determine whether the soul was admitted into the afterlife or condemned to destruction at the hands of the monstrous ‘Devourer’.

Although the earliest texts appeared on the mummy shrouds of royal families and high officials, papyrus became the texts’ main medium and remained so for more than 1,000 years.

The exhibition runs November 4-March 6, 2011 at the British Museum in London.


Joy Behar
The View is a highly regarded television show which has been airing for 14 years. In all those years I've probably seen the entire show no more than a dozen times. I've tried to watch it, but really can't tolerate more than a few minutes, at most. One reason is because the panelists have apparently been instructed to scream over each other and it's difficult - if not impossible - for me to understand what any of them are saying. It's nerve wracking and annoying. Same can be said for any show in which the participants are encouraged to interrupt, talk over and louder than somebody who is already speaking. Sends the message that it's okay to be rude and the only important thought is the one rattling around inside your own head. Not my kind of entertainment.

The ladies on The View - Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck - are not vicious, mean-spirited creatures. Rather, they are intelligent, savvy to television; people with opposing views possessing the ability to effectively articulate their feelings.

Last week Joy Behar commented about a political ad run by Nevadan Sharron Angle, who is trying to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Behar's comments - which included the words "bitch" and "hell" - were picked up, creating a life of their own and a subsequent controversy.

I didn't see any part of that show. I did happen to see the first few minutes of The View which aired last Wednesday, in which Behar had received an expensive bouquet of flowers and a thank you note from Sharron Angle.

Sharron Angle
Joy Behar doesn't need me to beat her drum. However, I happen to be a voter in the Angle/Reid race, which gives me the right to weigh in.

Joy Behar responded to a totally reprehensible political ad run by Sharron Angle.

What was out of line was the Angle ad.

If you want to take apart Behar for using the words "bitch" and "hell" or "going to hell," then you have to chastise all talk show participants who use those words. Not considered polite society expressions, "bitch" and "hell" are heard every day on highly rated, respected television shows. It may be a relevant conversation to consider whether the word "bitch" - for instance - should be allowed in daytime/early evening time slots. However, as long as the usage is permitted, then you can't single out and viciously condemn one person for using it.

CBS's new daytime show The Talk with panelists Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Leah Remini, Sharon Osbourne and Holly Robinson Peete, is an enjoyable show which, at least at this point, does respect each other's right to speak and be heard. All members of The Talk are intelligent, savvy to television; people with opposing views possessing the ability to effectively articulate their feelings.

Like Behar, Osbourne is an extremely bright woman with multi-faceted accomplishments.

On last Wednesday's show Osbourne, responding to Marie Clare blogger Maura Kelly's vile comments about fat people, called Kelly a "discredit to other women" and a "bitch" - which some markets may have attempted to bleep, but you knew exactly what she was saying.

Sharon Osbourne
Osbourne received some backlash - not for calling Kelly a "bitch," but because she stated she was canceling her subscription to Marie Clare.

An interesting double standard response, due to one comment being made within a political arena, where organized supporters are always in a jump start position to attack.

Sharron Angle won't answer questions from the press, but will take the time to write Joy Behar a sassy note and wire her hundreds of dollars worth of expensive, exotic flowers. Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Did sending those flowers help keep a Nevada flower shop in business? If the order even went through a Nevada based flower shop, the most that store would have received would be a small percentage. The real profit went to the New York City store that provided, arranged and delivered the bouquet. How does that help Nevada residents? Also, were those exotic flowers grown in America or imported?

In a troubled economy, what percentage of your bank account should be spent on gifts? There are struggling people in Nevada who can't afford to send even cheap flowers to a funeral, wedding, anniversary, birthday or birth of a baby, much less the expensive kind, and as childish game play, no less. If Angle collected so much in campaign contributions that she can pony up for high-ticket posies, when she is trying to take over national representation of the country's most oppressed state, then lady - man up - you need some lessons in how not to waste money.

Those flowers were a smart aleck statement, not a socially required, appropriate 'thank you.'

Joy Behar may have been raised in a neighborhood where she no longer lives, but she is not herself a street fighter. She understands street fighters. That's a milieu who use any tactic to win - intimidation, manipulation, lies, threats, character assignation through innuendo, with some even resorting to violence and crime being acceptable as long as you don't get caught.

Countering intimidation, manipulation, lies and character assignation through innuendo are the toughest to fight. It's a serious, adult form of bullying. The high school bully of today is the future adult who uses those tactics in the business world.

Sen. Harry Reid
For Nevada, Las Vegas in particular, Harry Reid is credited with single handedly saving the massive CityCenter Project - protecting 22,000 jobs. On a smaller scale, he stepped in to stop the closing of four local post office substations, which would have inconvenienced middle to lower class residents. With people complaining about American jobs goes overseas, Reid was the force behind bringing to the Las Vegas area, just this past month, a China based LED plant which will hire 1,000 workers by the end of this year. On a national level the Senate Majority Leader is important. While Reid isn't perfect, he's tried to do what was best for his constituents and, in turn, the country.

Should Sharron Angle win, she will be the lowest ranking on the splintered totem pole. Nobody is going to seek out her opinion. She will need hands on guidance to just navigate. Those in her support position haven't been identified.

When Harry Reid was first elected to office I riled feathers by publicly stating that he had - in effect - a weak, ineffective sounding voice and ought to take speaking lessons. Some in his camp turned that comment into a personal war and, to this day, have nary a kind work on my behalf. When President Obama came to Nevada to stump for Reid he made reference to Harry's soft spoken voice and suggested he needed vocal lessons.

Harry Reid is not charismatic and that trait can't be taught. Unfortunately, we're entrenched in a society which navigates on tweets and sound bites. Voting for personality is wonderful if you're voting for that category in a beauty contest. Going into a voting booth is a different matter. You're not going to become buddies with your elected official. You're not going to travel on vacation with them or be invited to their home for Thanksgiving dinner. You're not in their will. It's nice if a person possesses movie star looks, charisma, ethics and is brilliant. You don't see much of that.

While some polls are predicting that Angle will score an upset over Reid, both sides are gearing up for a re-count.

Etiquette books don't state what type of floral bouquet is proper decor for that event.

NOTE Harry Reid won re-election.


Michelle Hensley
offering free Shakespeare To Audiences With Limited or No Access To the Arts. The Inaugural Production Measure For Measure produced in association with acclaimed Minneapolis company Ten Thousand Things Theater will stage a two week tour which will play correctional facilities, homeless shelters, facilities for battered and abused women, drug rehab facilities, senior centers, centers for youth-at-risk, and other social service organizations that support the disadvantaged, underserved, and marginalized before performing at New York's Judson Memorial Church, December 6-11.

Directed by Michelle Hensley who is the founder and artistic director of Ten Thousand Things Theater, which for the past 20 years has brought productions of Shakespeare and other works to underserved audiences and institutions throughout the Twin Cities, and has become a nationwide model for such work.

The Mobile Unit's inaugural tour will take place November 22 through December 4 at the following venues:

Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, Staten Island, a medium-security New York State men’s prison (November 23)
Susan’s Place, Bronx, a shelter for battered and homeless women (November 26)
Bayview Correctional Facility, Manhattan, a medium-security New York State women’s prison (November 30)
Jamaica Service Program for Older Adults (JSPOA), Queens, a center for the elderly (December 1)
Fortune Society, Queens, a provider of services for recently released convicts (December 2)
Central High School / Boys & Girls Club of Newark, Newark, NJ, a major inner-city high school and a service organization for youth-at-risk (December 3)

The cast features Rob Campbell, Carson Elrod, Meg Gibson, Shalita Grant, William Jackson Harper, Jackie Sanders Hayes, Ruy Iskandar, Lanna Joffrey and Nicole Lewis.

Measure for Measure tells the story of a Duke who goes undercover to investigate the behavior of a deputy and to observe the lives of the assorted citizenry, from prostitutes and bawds to high level judges and administrators. The play is a look at the vexing difficulties that attend the fair administration of justice. Ten Thousand Things first performed Measure for Measure in the Twin Cities 12 years ago and found that its low-income audiences, most of whom must daily endure the judgments and injustice of others, deeply connected with Shakespeare’s tale.

LUCKY TO BE ME: THE MUSIC OF LEONARD BERNSTEIN Directed by Ted Sperling. Choreographed by Peggy Hickey.

An all-star lineup of musical theater greats join dynamic cast members from A Quiet Place to celebrate the diversity of Bernstein's work, including music from the Kaddish Symphony, Mass, Songfest, Wonderful Town, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, On the Town, West Side Story, and more.

Scheduled to appear: Michael Cerveris, Victoria Clark, Darius de Haas, Christina Ebersole, Christopher Feigum, Joshua Hopkins, Sara Jakubiak, Joshua Jeremiah, Donna Murphy, Kelli O'Hara, Patricia Risley, Talise Travigne, and Michael Urie along with Sara Jakubiak, Patricia Risley, Talise Trevigne, Dominic Armstrong, Christopher Feigum, Joshua Hopkins, Joshua Jeremiah and Sidney Outlaw.

Marty Thomas will host intermission and post-show festivities at the November 6 performance. November 6-7 at the David H. Koch Theater, NYC.

BORDERS COLUMBUS CIRCLE in New York City has a busy week. Ricky Martin will appear on Wednesday, November 3, to promote his memoir, Me. Martin has slated to play Che Guevara in the upcoming Broadway revival of Evita in 2012. He was previously seen as Marius in the Broadway production of Les Miserables.

Actress Shannon Doherty will take part in a readings/signings on November 2 while comedian Jeff Dunham does the same on November 3 and comedian Adam Carrolla takes his turn on November 6.

OSCAR AND EMMY WINNER LOUIS GOSSETT, JR will discuss his memoir, An Actor and a Gentleman, and his long stage and screen career November 8 as part of the Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University in Boston.

The free discussion is open to the public and will be moderated by Gossett's co-author, Phyllis Karas. A book signing will follow.

With writer Karas, he relates his fifty-plus years in the entertainment world, including his struggle to get fair pay as a black man in Hollywood, his addictions that took years to overcome, and his current work to eradicate racism and violence. He'll discuss his early success in the original Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun, through his success in Hollywood, winning an Emmy for the miniseries Roots and an Oscar for An Officer and a Gentleman.

The Ford Hall Forum in this nation's oldest continuously operating free public lecture series.

Tim Robbins
presents its new counter-programming Axis Mundi Series, a year-round program of arts and culture events, on Monday and Tuesday evenings beginning Monday, November 1.

The Axis Mundi Series is composed of open forum discussions, screenings of films and documentaries with talk backs, comedy, and spoken word, all curated by Actors' Gang artistic director, Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins, and featuring noted celebrities from across the spectrum.

On Monday nights, The Gang will present a series of conversations with authors and experts on subjects ranging from politics to social issues. Tuesday night programming will vary, including documentary film, cinema, music, poetry and comedy. On the first Tuesday of every month, comic provocateurs Paul Provenza, Robert Dubac and Dan Dion will host ¡Satiristas!, a live version of the irreverent book.

"It's time to stir things up and gather community in a public forum that allows for illumination, dissection, and discussion of contemporary issues," explains Robbins. "Nothing is out of bounds."

Axis mundi is a term representing the center point of the compass, a symbol that crosses human cultures, expressing a point of connection between the sky, the earth and the four directions.

The series kicks off November 1 with Monday Night Grind - Authors and experts dish it out on subjects ranging from the legalization of marijuana and corporate corruption to the role of educators in society. Mark Haskell Smith (Baked), Sarah Diesel (Cannabis Planet), and Michael Backes (Cornerstone Research Collective) will be featured panelists. The night will be moderated by the comedian and marijuana advocate Tere Joyce.

On November 2 - election night - it's a cadre of provocateurs and proud comic voices targeting political hypocrisy, media distortion and the institutionalized ignorance infecting America, chew the fat of tradition and eat the press for ninety minutes - all courtesy of the First Amendment.

Documentary film screenings are free; all other events are Pay-What-You Can. Any proceeds will be used to benefit the many community outreach programs at The Actors' Gang including theater residencies in public schools; a free Summer-in-the Park family theater series; free holiday shows; and a theater in prisons program focused on rehabilitation through the arts. A portion of the proceeds will also go to The Veteran’s Project, a nonprofit group managed by social and environmental entrepreneurs helping military veterans reintegrate into society when they come home. The Actors' Gang is located in the Ivy Substation in Culver City,CA.


Martin Short. Photo by Laura Deni
an evening of comedy and song with Tony Award winner Martin Short.

This world premiere event features old friends, and former castmates from The Producers, Martin Short and Reprise Theatre Company Artistic Director and Tony Award winner Jason Alexander.

They'll be doing what they do best – making people laugh!

This one-night-only performance at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on Monday, November 1 is a benefit for the Reprise Theatre company.

VIP tickets holders ($300 level) will be able to attend a post-show champagne toast with Martin Short and Jason Alexander.

The mission of the Reprise Theatre Company "is to produce musical theatre of the highest quality for Southern California audiences while making this unique American art form accessible to new audiences through education and outreach programs."

They "produce an annual subscription season of musical theatre revivals, ongoing concerts, staged-readings, and special events as well as education and outreach programs."

ROCKERS ON BROADWAY DANCE PARTY benefiting Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, Broadway Dreams Foundation, Broadway in South Africa, and The Bendheim Performing Arts Center Scholarship Fund takes place Monday, November 8, at BB Kings Blues Club in New York City.

Donnie Kehr will direct the evening, which will feature some of the hottest dance tunes from Elvis to GaGa, performed by Broadway stars and the rock stars who made them famous.

Alice Ripley, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Chad Kimball, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Chris Barron from Spin Doctors, Randy Jones from The Village People, Fred Schneider from The B52s and Sirius Radio Star "Cousin Brucie" Morrow will headline

Additional performers include Kathy Brier, Tituss Burgess, Ben Cameron, Te'Rea Campbell, Jessica Dillan, Anika Ellis, Felicia Finley, John Arthur Greene, Steve Gouveia, Emma Hunton, Adam Kantor, Donnie Kehr, James Kinney, Jeremy Kushnier, Jay Leslie, Ian Liberto, Michael Longoria, Alex Nordin, Jermaine R. Rembert, Sara Schmidt, Jeremy Schonfeld, Nikki Snelson, Wendi Stoltzfus, Doug Storm, Alena Watters, and Tommar Wilson.

TOM WOPAT AND RODNEY HICKS will perform at the American Friends of Rabin Medical Center Best Of Israel / Best Of New York gala. Charlie Rose will host the event which will also feature an appearance by Tony Award winner Chita Rivera.

Wopat and Hicks will be performing a tribute to honor Broadway producers Barry and Fran Weissler, who will be receiving the Award of Excellence. Peter Riguardi, president of Jones Lang LaSalle, will also be honored at the event, which will feature additional performances by violinist Shlomo Mintz and the band Hadag Nachash.

November 1 in the Empire Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt New York City.

THE 2010 NOTHING LIKE A DAME BENEFIT CONCERT will throw A Party for Comden and Green, celebrating the work of late Tony Award-winning musical theatre writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green on November 1 at the Laura Pels Theater in New York City.

The all-star concert is presented each year as a benefit for the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative.

Carl Andress will direct the evening starring Nancy Anderson, Polly Bergen, Jennifer Barnhart, Charles Busch, Mario Cantone, Victoria Clark, Debbie Gravitte, Amanda Green, Larry Grossman, Hunter Ryan Herdicka, Marc Kudisch, Aaron Lazar, Rick Lyon, Victoria Mallory, Howard McGillin, Donna McKechnie, Jessica Molaskey, Julia Murney, Phyllis Newman, Nancy Opel, John Pizzarelli, LeeRoy Reams, Mary Testa and Zakiya Young.

The evening is dedicated to legendary actress Lynn Redgrave, who was a long time trustee and supporter of The Actors Fund and a close colleague and friend of Ms. Newman's . The Special Guest of Honor is Hal Prince, who will speak about his collaboration with the legendary team.

MARGARET WHITING AND TONY AWARD WINNING DIRECTOR MICHAEL MAYER will be honored by The American Songbook Project, a non-profit dedicated to presenting the American popular songbook in schools, at a special Name That Tune charity masquerade event at the Edison Ballroom in New York City on November 6.

Among those appearing at the event will be actress Jane Kaczmarek, Tony-nominated lyricist-librettist Dick Scanlan and Tony-nominated actress Kate Baldwin. Whiting's friend, actress Carol Woods, will introduce a special tribute to her.

At the Name That Tune benefit everyone comes dressed as a song title. Costumes can be elaborate or simple street clothes with a novel accessory thrown in. So when guests enter the party, everyone has a reason to talk to everyone else there, trying to guess what their song title is. A natural ice-breaker.

The evening will feature live entertainment and dancing, cocktails and dinner, a silent and a live auction, as well as a juried costume fashion show.

The American Songbook Project was founded in 1999. It brings singers from Broadway and cabaret into New York City schools and community organizations to introduce young people to some of the beautiful melodies and meaningful lyrics of the American songs that are part of their heritage.

11th ANNUAL ONLY MAKE BELIEVE GALA will be hosted by Sir Ian McKellen. The non-profit organization that creates and performs interactive theatre for children in hospitals and care facilities, The November 1 event takes place at Broadway's Shubert Theatre and will feature the casts of Memphis and Billy Elliot: The Musical as well as Josh Lucas, Euan Morton, Brad Oscar, Seth Rudetsky and The Glamazons.

The Gala will also feature the presentation of the James Hammerstein Award to Laura Armitage "for her outstanding dedication to children in need both on a local and global level" and the presentation of the Founders' Award to philanthropist and author Cathy Lasry for her "exceptional commitment to children’s causes."

VH1 SAVE THE MUSIC FOUNDATION'S ANNUAL GALA will honor Julie Andrews, John Legend, John Mayer and The ASCAP Foundation at the event to be held on November 8 at New York's Cipriani.

Cheyenne Jackson will serve as the host of the event. Kristin Chenoweth will perform a special tribute to the 45th anniversary of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. Natasha Bedingfield will also perform. The presenters for the evening will include Pete Wentz, Lauren Conrad, Jason Mraz, Common, Billy Burke and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Angela Lansbury
takes place November 8 at New York City Center. A new song, I'm Really Dancing, penned by Marvin Hamlisch and Rupert Holmes will be premiered - performed by host five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury and others. The song will feature a musical arrangement by David Caldwell with choreography by Ann Marie DeAngelo, who also directs.

The evening will offer highlight moments from past galas.

Currently scheduled to entertain are Hamlisch, Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking, Chita Rivera, Karen Ziemba, Charlotte d'Amboise and Edward Villella as well as artists from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, MOMIX, National Dance Institute and Parsons Dance.

The evening will also feature the presentation of several awards: The 2010 Rolex Dance Award will be presented to Twyla Tharp; The Career Transition For Dancers' Awards for Outstanding Contributions to the World of Dance will be presented to the organization's four union founders (Actors’ Equity Association, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, American Guild of Musical Artists, Screen Actors Guild) as well as an award each to The Barth Family and to the CTFD President Cynthia G. Fischer; and the Capezio Ballet Makers Dance Foundation's 59th annual Capezio Dance Award will be presented to Trisha Brown.

Following the entertainment an anniversary supper with the stars takes place at The Hilton New York.

Career Transition For Dancers (CTFD), with offices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, has helped over 4,600 professional dancers in 47 states identify their unique talents in preparation for establishing new careers when dance is no longer an option. Since its founding in 1985, the organization has provided more than 46,000 hours (equivalent to over $4 million) of one-on-one career counseling and program services - at no cost - and has awarded millions of dollars in scholarships for education, entrepreneurial grants, and certification programs.


Martin Freeman
it was officially announced by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. The squabble over whether two movies based on The Hobbit would be made in Kiwi Land or elsewhere, after acting unions threatened to boycott the films, reached the highest ranks of government. Key's announcement came after two days of talks with Hollywood executives from Warner Bros and New Line.

"Making the two Hobbit movies here will not only safeguard work for thousands of New Zealanders, but it will also follow the success of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy in once again promoting New Zealand on the world stage."

All three films in that blockbuster series were shot in New Zealand, the homeland of their director Peter Jackson.

Filming on the two-part prequel, which Jackson will direct, is set to begin in February. British actor Martin Freeman will take the lead role of Bilbo Baggins, played by Ian Holm in the original films.

As part of the arrangement, the New Zealand government passed legislation which clarifies that film industry workers are independent contractors rather than employees. The union had wanted local actors and other production workers to be hired as full-fledged employees on union contracts. The legislation was passed by 66 votes to 50.

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER'S REALLY USEFUL GROUP has announced that they are selling four of their theatres to a new consortium led by former TV executive Michael Grade and theatrical agent Michael Linnit. The four theatres have a combined seating capacity of 4900 seats and are referred to as “mid-sized” music houses.

In a press statement, Lloyd Webber, 62, commented, “It has been a totally gut-wrenching decision for me to decide to sell the four theatres. However, following my illness last year I was advised to reduce the debt in the family company”.

He underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 2009 and suffered post-surgical complications.

The four theatres are the Palace, the New London, Her Majesty's and the Cambridge. The selling price is reportedly in the region of $80 million. The Really Useful Group will retain its ownership of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the London Palladium, as well as its 50 percent stake in the Adelphi, co-owned by Nederlander. Lloyd Webber previously disposed of four more theatres, the Lyric, Apollo, Garrick and Duchess, to Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer, who formed Nimax Theatres to operate them.

ALLIANCE OF NEW YORK STATE ARTS ORGANIZATIONS aka NYSArts has announced that the organization will immediately cease operational activities and pursue a legal dissolution.

In part a statement signed by Veronica Claypool, President of the Board of Directors reads:

"This decision has been very difficult. . . . After a pain-staking review of our (financial) situation and prospects we were left with no choice but to discontinue operations."

THE DRAMATISTS GUILD OF AMERICAN will present their annual awards Monday, November 1 at the Hudson Theater in New York City.

Playwright Lynn Nottage will receive the 2009 Hull-Warriner Award, which recognizes an author or team of authors in recognition of their play dealing with controversial subjects, for her play Ruined.

John Kander will be bestowed the Frederick Loewe Award, which is given to a composer recognizing achievement in a theatrical score presented in New York during the previous theatrical season, for The Scottsboro Boys.

The Dramatists Guild will also present the Flora Roberts Award, which both recognizes distinguished work in the theater and encourage the continuation of that work, to playwright Michael Weller.

In addition to these three awards, the Dramatists Guild will present Lifetime Achievement Awards to the songwriting team Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick, and to playwright Terrence McNally.


LUCIANA AND MATT DAMON became parents of Stella Zavala Damon on Wednesday, October 20 in New York City. Big sisters welcoming the baby into the family are Isabella, 4, and Gia, 2, as well as Luciana's daughter Alexa, 11, from a previous marriage.

RENE-CHARLES ANGELIL 10, has become the proud big brother to fraternal twin boys born Saturday, October 23, in West Palm Beach, FL. Proud parents are Celine Dion and Rene Angelil. A working mom, Celine returns to the Las Vegas Caesars Palace stage in March.

by Paul Capsis and Julian Meyrick, with associate writer Hilary Bell. Merrick also directs.

‘I think about my grandparents walking along this road - And now I am here. I’m in Malta. I’m looking at absolutely everything and trying to drink it in. I feel connected. I feel like I am home.’

In 1948, Angela left Malta. Having gathered up five children, she sailed out on the Strathnavar, leaving poverty and the war behind. Her destination: Australia. In Surry Hills, she could build a bright new life.

If only she could first learn the language, finish shoring up their dilapidated house, find new friends, get the racist neighbor off her back and keep her son away from sly grog queen Kate Leigh’s kids.

Back in Malta, someone else has made a journey. Making his way along Kalkara’s glistening harborside, a young man with flowing black hair has returned to claim his past. Paul Capsis is walking home.

A journey that begins at a kitchen table becomes a sprawling family history and a fitting tribute to a much-loved matriarch. Told simply and truthfully, Angela’s Kitchen is bill as "an astonishingly evocative piece of autobiographical theatre from one of Australia’s most versatile performers.

To promote the upcoming production, The Great Sydney Spoon Hunt! was launched October 22. The theatre let 1000 wooden spoons loose on Sydney to start their journey, and find themselves a home in your kitchen drawer. Look for spoons in the streets around Sydney and your favorite Maltese Cafe in the city to win great prizes.Each spoon contains a code to indicate the prize.

In explaining the event the theatre states: The wooden spoon is a traditional kitchen utensil that has been around for centuries. It represents the core essence of a family kitchen and is a common link between generations and families across all cultures. It triggers memories of cooking up a feast with your grandmother, of waiting excitedly for the spoon to lick every last bit of icing off it. Angela’s Kitchen focuses on Angela’s journey and Paul’s exploration of Angela and this journey.

November 5-December 18, 2010 at the Griffin Theatre in Sydney, Australia.

THE LITTLE FLOWER OF EAST ORANGE Stephen Adly Guirgis. The west coast premiere is directed by Elephant artistic director David Fofi.

The cast will feature Katherine Helmond and Michael Friedman, along with LeShay Tomlinson Boyce, Kim Estes, Alejandro Furth, Kate Huffman, Timothy McNeil, Marisa O’Brien, Mark Adair-Rios, Tom Stanczyk, and Tim Starks. The Little Flower of East Orange, first produced at New York’s Public Theater in the spring of 2008, is an unconventional family drama centering around Therese Marie and her anxious, angry children. The events of the play unfold mostly in Therese Marie’s hospital room, where she very well could be on her death bed.

She contends with visits from a patronizing doctor, a friendly police detective, and an assortment of apparitions, most notably the ghost of her father. She also fights to maintain her dignity as her son Danny, recently out of rehab, insists on making her confront the ugly secrets of her past.

Performances begin Thursday, November 4, and opening night is set for Saturday, November 6, for a limited engagement through December 19. Presented by the Elephant Theater Company at Elephant Space in Hollywood, CA.

ANNIE based on the famed comic-strip character with a book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin.

Directed by Steven Glaudini with musical direction by Daniel Thomas and choreography by Roger Castellano.

Andrea McArdle who earned a Tony nomination for creating the title role is cast in the part of evil Miss Hannigan. Appearing with her are Jeff Austin as Oliver Warbucks, Shannon Warne as Grace Farrell, Michael Paternostro as Rooster, Bets Malone as Lily St. Regis, Mark Capri as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Melody Hollis as Annie. Rounding out the cast as the orphans are Paige Befeler as July, Alexa Freeman as Pepper, Grace Kaufman as Molly, Madison Milledge as Tessie, Jenna Rosen as Duffy and Danielle Soibelman as Kate.

The ensemble includes Jef Canter, Amberly Chamberlain, Sean Clifford, Amy Gillette, Brian Michael Hoffman, Damon Kirsche, Nick Lorenzini, Melissa Mitchell, Todd Nielsen, Jennifer Strattan and Mikey as Sandy.

The Tony Award winning production features such tunes as Tomorrow, Maybe, Little Girls, Easy Street and It's the Hard Knock Life.

Performances through November 14 for Musical Theatre West in Long Beach, CA.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY will welcome Roger Rees to the cast as Gomez, when Nathan Lane leaves the show after his contract expires on March 6. He will be playing opposite Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia Addams, who has agreed to extend her contract through the summer months.

by Noah Haidle. Directed by Adam Lenson. Every thirty years, the planet Saturn returns to the same place in the universe it occupied on the day of your birth. Its arrival is said to herald pivotal events in a person's life.

In Saturn Returns, we follow one man, Gustin Novak, at the ages of 28, 58 and 88, as he reaches a series of crossroads with three key women and comes to understand how the echoes of the past have defined the orbit of his life.

Billed as "An enthralling time-bending structure allows us to watch Gustin over a period of sixty years in a series of deftly interwoven scenes. Moving from wry humor to touching poignancy, this new play from one of American theatre’s brightest new voices unashamedly looks for answers to life's big questions."

Saturn Returns marks Haidle's UK debut, and he is working directly with the director to develop and expand the piece for this London staging. Saturn Returns was first produced in 2008 where it had a sell-out run at Lincoln Center Theater, New York City.

The production features Lisa Caruccio Came, Richard Evans, Nicholas Gecks and Christopher Harper.

Designed by Bec Chippendale. Lighting by James Smith. Sound by Sean Ephgrave.

November 2-27 at the Finborough Theatre in London.

A RAISIN IN THE SUN will return to Los Angeles for its first fully-staged production in over twenty years with Phylicia Rashad making her Los Angeles dirctorial debut. Presented by Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT), preview performances begin on March 23, 2011, with the official press opening on March 25, 2011 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles.


Every year since Emancipation, the Nacirema Society of Montgomery, Alabama introduces six elegant African-American debutants to a world of wealth, privilege and social responsibility. This year, at its 100th anniversary, with young love brewing, old flames simmering and national media attention on hand. . . what would dare to go awry? A sparkling new romantic comedy.

The audience is invited into this glamorous world where folks still dress for dinner. For the ladies of the Nacirema Society, bus boycotts and freedom marches don’t hold a candle to the importance of making the perfect entrance… or plotting the perfect blackmail.

Starring Tony Award winner Trazana Beverly and Jasmine Guy. The cast also features Kevin Alan Daniels, Chinai J. Hardy, Tonia Jackson, Karan Kendrick, Naima Carter Russell and Neda Spears.

Produced in association with Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Atlanta performances at the Alliance Theatre continue to November 14.

Julia Garcia Combs in Hyperbole. Photo by Rogue Artists Ensemble.
written and developed by the Rogue Artists Ensemble, with special contributions by Sean T. Cawelti, Miles Taber, and Nina Silver. Directed by Sean T. Cawelti.

Starring Kris Bicknell, Julia Garcia Combs, Brian Kuwabara, Alex Levin, Shannon MacMillan, Diona Reasonover and Thu Tran, with Christina Aimerito and Gedaly Guberek understudying.

Scenic Design is by Logan Wince; Lighting Design is by Ian Garrett; Costume Design is by Kerry Hennessy; Puppet Design is by Caitlin Lainoff; Sound Design and Music Supervision are by John Nobori; Choreography is by Nate Hodges; Video Design is by Dave Mickey; Mask Design is by Katie Polebaum; and Properties Design is by Sarah Krainin. Original music is being composed by Ego Plum, Ben Phelps and John Nobori.

Rogue Artists Ensemble differs from other theater companies in that it's run by a collective of multi-disciplinary artists and designers rather than by actors, writers or directors. By combining ancient storytelling techniques (music, dance, masks, puppetry) with modern technology (digital media, special effects and theatrical illusions), the Rogues cultivate a unique style of live performance unlike any other. They define the combined use of these and other underrepresented art forms as Hyper-theater. This production is billed as "a celebratory theatrical event that examines ancient and modern stories of origin. In this world premiere Hyper-theatrical show, myths and science collide with masks, puppets, music and cutting-edge technology to create an exhilarating experience."

"See the amazing Origin Machine and experience the fantastic Origin-torium. Witness a performance drawing from myth, science, humanity, and faith and set to an eclectic soundtrack from around the world, including contributions from Animal Collective, Josiah Wolf, The Very Best, Deerhoof, Oh No Ono, Max Tundra, The Ditty Bops and more. It's the birth of the universe - live on stage."

Performances through December 12 at [Inside] the Ford in Hollywood, CA.


STEPHEN SONDHEIM 80th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION billed as Billed as "Carnegie Hall’s only concert in celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday," presented by The New York Pops, the evening will boast the talents of Broadway actors Kate Baldwin, Aaron Lazar and Christiane Noll as well as Essential Voices USA (Judith Clurman, music director). Steven Reineke will conduct the famed orchestra. November 1 a Carnegie Hall, NYC.

JONAS BROTHERS perform Monday, November 1, at the Estadio Olimpic Atahualpa in Quito, Ecuador. On Tuesday the show is at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, China. Thursday's performance is at the Estadio River Plate in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On Saturday they are in the spotlight at the Caninde in San Paulo, Brazil. Next Sunday they can be enjoyed at the Praca da Apoteose in Rio De Janeiro.

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN on stage Friday, November 5, at Knight Concert Hall in Miami. On Saturday the show is at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ.

SIR JAMES GALWAY entertains next Sunday, November 7 at the PAC Hall in Brisbane, Australia.

JACK JONES stars at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC through November 13.

MARTY ALLEN WITH KARON KATE BLACKWELL longtime Las Vegas residents perform Thursday and Saturday at Feinstein's at Lowe's Regency in NYC.


Joseph Stein photo by Stephen Lovekin/GettyImages
Tony-award winning playwright died October 24 in New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center. He was 98.

He graduated in 1935 from CCNY, with a B.S. degree, then earned a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia University in 1937. He began his career as a psychiatric social worker from 1939 until 1945, while writing comedy on the side.

A chance encounter with Zero Mostel led him to start writing for radio personalities, including Harry Morgan, Hildegarde, Tallulah Bankhead, Phil Silvers, and Jackie Gleason. He later started working in television for Sid Caesar when he joined the writing team of Your Show of Shows that included Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Larry Gelbart.

Stein made his Broadway debut contributing sketches written with Will Glickman to the 1948 revue Lend An Ear. His first book musical came about when Richard Kollmar, husband of columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, asked him to write a musical about Pennsylvania that would promote the state. Stein and Glickman were drawn to the Amish community of Lancaster County. They purchased a 50-cent tourist book filled with Pennsylvania Dutch slang and returned to New York to write Plain and Fancy, which opened on Broadway on January 27, 1955 and ran for 461 performances. It was an "old-fashioned, low-pressure alternative set among the Pennsylvania Dutch. It was pleasant and certainly suitable for the family trade." The musical has been playing at The Round Barn Theatre a Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana annually since 1986, and surpassed 2,000 performances as of 1997. Richard Pletcher, founder and producer, dedicated The Round Barn Theatre stage to Stein in 1997 during its production of The Baker's Wife. The theatre has produced eight of Stein's musicals since then.

His greatest success came from writing the book for the 1964 musical play Fiddler on the Roof, for which he won two Tony Awards. He later wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation.

Stein's additional Broadway credits include Alive and Kicking, Mr. Wonderful, The Body Beautiful, Juno, Take Me Along, Irene, Carmelina, Rags, Enter Laughing and its musical adaptation, So Long, 174th Street. He also wrote the plays Mrs. Gibbons' Boys and Before the Dawn. He co-wrote, with Carl Reiner, the screenplay for the film adaptation of Enter Laughing. With Stephen Schwartz he co-wrote The Baker's Wife, which was directed by Trevor Nunn in London in 1989 where it was nominated for an Olivier Award for Musical of the Year.

Stein wrote the book for the musical All About Us, with a score by Kander and Ebb, based on The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder. It premiered at the Westport Country Playhouse in April 2007

A member of the Theater Hall of Fame, Stein lived in Manhattan with his wife Elisa, a psychotherapist. He was a member of the Dramatists Guild Council from 1975 until his death. He was honored by The Dramatists Guild of America with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Stein had three sons, Daniel, Harry and Josh, from his first marriage to Sadie Singer Stein, who died in 1974. From his marriage to Elisa Loti, he also had a daughter, Jenny Lyn.

The marquees of Broadway theatres in New York were dimmed in his memory on Thursday, October 28, at exactly 8:00pm for one minute.

Paul Libin, Chairman of The Broadway League and Executive Vice President/Producing Director of Jujamcyn Theaters, said, “Joe Stein was one of the great luminaries of the Broadway theatre. A lifelong New Yorker who grew up in the Bronx, he combined humor and life experience to write memorable books for over 25 of the greatest musicals ever presented on Broadway.”

James MacArthur
actor and son of late actress Helen Hayes and famed playwright Charles MacArthur, died October 28 with his family by his side. He was 72.

MacArthur starred as Det. Dan Williams in the 1970s TV series Hawaii Five-O, saying the show's catchphrase: "Book 'em, Danno!"

He was a board member and longtime supporter of the Hayes Awards, named in honor of his mother, which recognize excellence in DC-area theatre.

Since 1983, MacArthur presided over the annual presentation of the Helen Hayes Awards' Charles MacArthur Award, the prestigious new-plays award category named for his father.

MacArthur made his Broadway debut playing Aaron Jablonski opposite Jane Fonda in Invitation to a March, which won him the 1961 Theatre World Award for Best New Actor.

On Broadway, he appeared in Under the Yum Yum Tree, The Moon Is Blue, John Loves Mary, Barefoot in the Park and Murder at the Howard Johnson's before returning to Hollywood

He returned to the live stage in regional productions of The Hasty Heart with Caroline Lagerfelt, The Front Page, and played Mortimer in the national tour of Arsenic and Old Lace with Jean Stapleton, Marion Ross and Larry Storch. He appeared in Las Vegas, starring as Stanley Parker in A Bed Full of Foreigners at the Union Plaza Hotel December 21, 1990 through March 30, 1991.

He is survived by his wife, LPGA tour player and teacher, Helen Beth "H.B." Duntz and four children Charles P. MacArthur (Jenny), Mary McClure (Kevin), Juliette Rappaport (Kurt), James D. MacArthur and seven grandchildren; Ruby Johnstone, Riley Kea MacArthur, Ford and Daisy McClure, Jake, Luke and Julia Rappaport.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, DC; the Helen Hayes Hospital in Nyack; the Solebury School MOM Fund in New Hope, PA; the Palm Desert Community Presbyterian Church, Palm Desert, CA; and the Hawaii Theatre in Honolulu.

Next Column: November 7, 2010
Copyright: October 31, 2010. 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.
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