Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: September 19, 2010
By: Laura Deni


In the Broadway To Vegas column of September 5, a Song of Norway CD review of a re-release by Sony/Arkiv/Masterworks Broadway of the famed Jones Beach production crabbed that while the recording was fine, the booklet wasn't. ( See Broadway To Vegas column of September 5, 2010 )

You needed a map to try to figure out the performers and we questioned who was somebody called 'Peryne Anker,' who sang on Freddy And His Fiddle. In trying to track down the person with the unusual first name we wrote - 'The closest we could come in sniffing out the singer was to discover a Cantor Perryne (two r's) Anker who received her Bachelor of Science degree from the Juilliard in New York City. She's credited with helping to "pave the way for women in the cantorate." Broadway To Vegas left a message for Cantor Anker to see if she might be related to the '1r' Perryne. As of deadline we hadn't received a response.'

We wondered if they were related.

One and the same.

"They spelled my name wrong on the album itself," Cantor Perryne Anker told Broadway To Vegas. I was in the production at Jones Beach. Nobody ever bothered to proof read and when the album came out I was shocked and very disappointed because at that age - early 20s - everything is very, very important. It was the first recording I ever got credit on. I had done other recordings in choirs but I was never singled out for a solo or got album credit. This was my first solo and they spelled my name wrong!"

"It was devastating. I said -'Look at my name, it's spelled wrong.' They said - 'Well, if we ever do it again, we'll spell it right.'"

"But they didn't. Nobody contacted me. I knew nothing about the album being re-released," she declared.

"I've had problems with my name all along, except people usually ask me about the spelling because it is so unusual," continued Anker.

"I was suppose to be named Perry after my grandfather. But I was a girl. My father said - ' Let's name her Perryne.'"

By any spelling, Perryne Anker has had an interested life.

A native of Cleveland, her parents were not musicians. "My mother was a home maker and my father sold men's wear. I was raised in a Jewish household and I sang in synagogue."

With the aftermath of the Second World War, the Anker neighborhood was as close to American as you could imagine. "It was just normal. We were a very non segregated neighborhood. There were Jews, Italians, all religions and it wasn't a problem for me at all. It was wonderful."

The woman who would go from being a misspelled name to one of the most innovative and respected cantors in the world always had a dual love - with music and her faith.

"I was very connected to all kinds of music," she continued. "My school, Cleveland Heights High, has a fabulous a cappella choir and I was the soprano soloist. We traveled throughout the United States. I grew up singing Christmas carols and Jewish religious music."

She auditioned for Julliard and was accepted, receiving a five-year scholarship.

left to right Ruth Schumacher, Perryne Anker, Marie Crittenden, Shirley Leinwand in the Jones Beach production The Song of Norway. Photo courtesy Cantor Anker
"They didn't have dorms at that time. I lived in an apartment with two other women and they are still my friends. In fact, they were both in The Song of Norway."

That would be Carol Bergey whose married name is Skarimbas. The other, Ellen Berse, became Ellen Fiorito.

Carol Bergey appeared on recordings made by Beverly Sills and, as Carol Bergey Skarimbas, has sung at the New York City Opera, in Europe and in regional houses across the United States. In the December 5, 1982 issue of the New York Times Bernard Holland gave her concert performance a rave review. In 1984 New York Magazine did the same.

"Carol still sings and has been in many operas and revivals of Sondheim musicals at the Roundabout Theater," happily related Anker about her former roomie.

Ellen Berse appeared in the original Broadway productions of Milk and Honey and The Happiest Girl in the World. She successfully made the transition into the competitive world of modeling. In 1967 Ellen Berse married John Fiorito. Their engagement announcement stated both "had been members of the Metropolitan Opera National Company which for two consecutive years toured the United States, much of Canada, as well as Mexico."

During those late 50s and early 60s, Anker recalled she "sang in the Episcopal church on Sunday and in the Synagogue on Friday and Saturday."

Le comte Ory, an opéra written by Gioachino Rossini in 1828, performed in March, 1959 at Julliard. standing left. Judith Raskin seated Barbara Miller, Perryne Anker. Photo courtesy Cantor Anker.
Just because you have a scholarship doesn't mean you don't need money. Many don't realize that a form of steady part-time work for singers is employment in church choirs.

"That is how I put myself through school," Anker explained about the Episcopal gig.

That decade was a time of great social unrest, but for Anker and her friends their attention was towards "studying, singing - we were too busy for anything else. Music was to me - music. I was very proud to be a Jew, but I never thought of being a cantor because women didn't do it."

At that time being a rabbi or a cantor was basically a closed door, good-old boy network.

"The cantor at my synagogue in Cleveland, Saul Meisels, was my mentor, but I don't think he ever dreamed that I would become a cantor," recalled Anker. "He thought I would be an opera singer. As the years went on, I corresponded with him. He was from a conservative synagogue. I don't think he really embraced the fact that I became a cantor, because to him women just didn't do that. But, he loved me just the same."

"It took a long time for women cantors to be accepted," she said softly, thoughtfully. "People wonder how it was for me, because I became a cantor so long ago, the schools didn't accept women."

The future cantor got her musical training wheels doing summer stock.

Summer stock production of South Pacific. Second from left is Louise O'brien (as Nellie Forbush), Cathy Gale, (seated) Perryne Anker and Lainie Kazan. Photo courtesy Cantor Anker
"I was in Julliard and I had wonderful experiences. I did a lot of musical theater in summer stock. I worked really hard - everyone did. Summer stock was very grueling. It was not just being on the stage and being applauded. In those days we had tents, and no air conditioning. They were just regular tents. They would put those flaps down when we performed and it was hot in there. The tents were all raked," she said referring to being sloped upwards away from the audience, which is both difficult and dangerous to navigate.

"One summer I did two musicals at the same time. One was South Pacific and the other was The Student Prince. That was for Guber Ford Gross," she recalled referring to Lee Guber, Shelly Gross and Frank Ford who were credited with building the largest group of year-round superstar theater chains in the country.

"We performed in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. That summer I was in The Student Prince in long period dresses and South Pacific in shorts and bathing suits, running up a raked stage and aisle. It was just hard. We performed at night and rehearsed during the day."

"Hot and hard, but we loved it. It was a great experience," she gushed. "Then I went back to school and was immersed in classical music. I was fortunate at Julliard that I did a lot of performances."

After graduation Anker traveled west to visit her parents for a summer and has called Los Angeles home ever since,

Cantor Perryne Anker, and The Honorable Robert Schnider, Ret. Photo: courtesy Cantor Anker
Her longtime marriage to Robert A. Schnider is a happy one. "He is my biggest fan. No, he doesn't sing, but he appreciates music. Between us we have four sons."

Wanting to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren was the reason Schnider gave when he announced in 2008 that after 27 years on the bench, the Los Angeles Superior Court Judge said he was hanging up his robe. He officially stepped down December 15, 2008 and has since served as a private judge with the mediation firm Alternative Resolution Centers.

A specialize in family law Judge Schnider made rulings in high-profile custody, paternity and other disputes involving celebrities such as Michael Jackson, David Hasselhoff, Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin, and Anna Nicole Smith.

Anker, now a deep-rooted California transplant, decided she "wanted to follow what I had done as a youngster in terms of singing in synagogue. I had the opportunity to sing for High Holy Days. I was at Stephen S. Wise Temple singing there as the soprano soloist. Then I began teaching music. Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin suggested that I further my studies in cantoral music."

The fact that she was a woman, seeking entrance into what was then a 99.9 percent male profession, meant she needed the same dexterity and stamina she expended when navigating that raked tent.

"What I did was what cantors did in days of old," she recalled, "I went to different colleagues and asked if they would teach me, because there was no school."

"Actually," she emphasized, "until the AJRCA (Academy for Jewish Religion in California) opened - where I am now - there was no cantorial school on the West Coast."

"I was very fortunate. I had wonderful teachers and it took many years of on the job training."

Is their rivalry in the profession - 'I can sing the Kol Nidre better than you?'

"Oh, I think there is rivalry in every profession, whether you want it or not," she answered.

If there is rivalry, then does peer teaching work? Will the student be taught correctly or will the peer teacher secretly be protecting their own turf?

"They'll be taught correctly," was her quick reply. "I was very fortunate. Maybe I made good choices of teachers. I can't say that I was received with open arms, but I think people realized that I was earnest about what I was doing. And, that I was very respectful of the people who were willing to teach me," she reasoned.

"I kind of was accepted without people realizing that they were accepting me. I think it had to do with the way I approached it - with respect and consideration," she reiterated.

Cantor Anker has served as cantor at Stephen S. Wise Temple in Bel Air, Beth Shalom in Santa Monica, and Temple of the Arts in Los Angeles. She is a leading voice teacher and coach as well as a member of the American Conference of Cantors.

Today the singer with the unusual first name is the Associate Dean of the Cantorial School of the Academy for Jewish Religion in California.

"We are a pluralistic school, meaning that we train rabbis, cantors and chaplains in different branches of Judaism - so it isn't just Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. It embraces all the branches of Judaism. As a result, out students are exposed to a great deal. Our school now has a program with the Claremont School of Theology where we are working together."

Affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Claremont School of Theology has a long history of educating religious leaders. Founded in 1885, the School embraced an ecumenical vision upon its move to Claremont, California, in 1957. Today, it is making a similar adjustment of vision, to meet the cultural and religious demands of a world in transition.

While maintaining a strong School of Theology to prepare Christian ministers, Claremont is developing other schools to prepare teachers, counselors, scholars and community leaders for the interreligious realities of the 21st Century in a plan called the University Project.

"So, here we are with Imams, ministers, rabbis, cantors and we are really trying to not only be respectful of other religions, but learn about other religions, so that we can go out into congregations and teach," stressed Anker. "I really believe we are doing very important work."

"Music is a bridge - to peace, to the soul and to the brain. There is one God. Prayers can be heard through different sources. It's a small seed of a beginning, but it is the first of its kind," she emphasized.

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Renato Guttuso, Massacre (detail), 1943 © DACS 2010
While several major exhibitions have been devoted to exploring the propaganda imagery of Fascist Italy, art produced by those hostile to the regime has perhaps received less attention.

This exhibition brings together works produced in Italy and abroad in the aftermath of Mussolini’s initial fall from power in 1943 and throughout the period of civil war and resistance, chronicling the demise of a personality cult.

Many reflect a demonisation of the man who had been hailed as a demi-god, while others represent meditations on the tragedy of the Nazi occupation and civil war.

Together they offer a unique insight into the way the visual arts responded to a period of transition that remains controversial today.

September 22- December 18, 2010 Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in London.

Lydia Sokolova, Anton Dolin, Bronislava Nijinska, Léon Woizikowsky in costumes for Le Train bleu designed by Chanel . Photo: Sasha1924 Victoria & Albert Museum
an exhibition of works celebrating one of the world's most influential ballet companies will open at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London on September 25.

The V&A will recreate the glory of the Ballets Russes and its founder Serge Diaghilev with original costumes, set designs, props and musical scores.

The exhibition will also include the largest-known canvas with Picasso's name on it, Le Train Blue. which is 33ft by 33ft in size. This was the stage curtain for the touring ballet of the same name.

It was signed by Picasso but was completed by screen painters, who reproduced his work Deux Femmes Courant Sur La Plage. Picasso was so impressed with the image, which has not been shown in the V&A for more than 30 years, that he signed the reproduction.

Diaghilev imaginatively combined dance, music and art to create 'total theatre'. A consummate collaborator, he worked with Stravinsky, Chanel, Picasso, Matisse and Nijinsky.

Diaghilev's dramatic performances transformed dance, reawakening interest in ballet across Europe and America. Celebrating the company's key period of activity, this major exhibition reveals Diaghilev's enduring influence on 20th-century art, design and fashion and includes more than 300 objects including giant theatre cloths, original costumes, set designs, props and posters by artists and designers including Léon Bakst, Georges Braque and Natalia Goncharova. These tell the story of a company which began in the social and political upheaval of pre-Revolutionary Russia and went on to cause a sensation with exotic performances that had never been seen before.

The V&A has the world's biggest collection of Ballet Russes designs, costumes, props and archive material, and is also borrowing from private collections for the exhibition which will be open to the public to January 9, 2011.


They off and rowing. Photo: SF Dragon Boat Festival
The 15th Annual San Francisco International Dragon Boat Festival - the largest dragon boat festival outside of Asia - brings together the best athletes from around the Bay - and beyond - for this historic and traditional sporting event which takes place September 25 and 26 on Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

If you row it, they will come. And row they do and come they will – by the thousands. Entrance to the Festival is free and open to the public, as is viewing of the races.

In 1996 a handful of paddlers came together with the vision to build an organization to foster the growth and development of dragon boating in the San Francisco Bay Area. Each had little experience in starting up a non-profit organization most were relatively new to the sport themselves. With only commitment and their faith in dragon boating becoming a great activity for the community they moved forward to promote a sport people knew little about in an area already saturated with team sports.

Heading under the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: SF Dragon Boat Festival
So, what exactly is Dragon Boating?

For those unfamiliar with the sport, dragon boating simply put, is a boat of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steers person paddling to cross the finish faster than their competition. It's a team sport in its purest form that encompasses the elements of power, speed, synchronization and endurance.

With its beginnings in Southern China, dragon boating today is the fastest growing international team water sport. Each year, race festivals are held around the world in Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States. One of the largest festivals in the North America is held in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“The appeal to dragon boating is mainly contributed to the sport’s ability to accommodate a wide spectrum of skill levels ranging from novice to competitive,” Jeanie Lee, President of the California Dragon Boat Association and also a longtime crew member of dragon boats explains. “At the novice and recreational level, teams often form as a means of social outlet, team building and an alternative means of exercise. For the spectator, the true display of the sport’s intensity and skill is witnessed in the competitive ranks.”

All boats are elaborately carved. Photo: SF Dragon Boat Festival
Dragon boat racing is one of the earliest known forms of aquatic competition and is celebrated at festivals and races throughout the world. This mythical celebration is a symbol of Chinese culture and spirit and is one of the three largest festivals in that country, with its roots going back over 2,000 years.

Legend has it that Qu Yuan, a scholar and advisor to the emperor of the Chu Kingdom, jumped into the Mei Lo (Mi Luo) River in despair and protest against government corruption. Local fishermen raced out in their boats to save him. They beat drums and pounded their paddles on the river's waters and threw rice dumplings wrapped in silk into the river to distract the water dragons and keep them from trying to snack on Qu Yuan. Dragon boating evolved from the re-enactment of this legend.

The California Dragon Boat Association also oversees the largest high school and college dragon boat program in the nation. “No one who has discovered dragon boating – either on the water or as an on land volunteer leaves unchanged,” said Linda Cheu, Festival Director of the California Dragon Boat Association which sponsors the event. “Only recently are people outside of Asia beginning to see and experience the magic team and community building aspects of this ancient sport.”


and Grand Auction is set for Sunday, September 26. The day-long event takes place the theatre district's Shubert Alley and West 44th Street. The event benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Celebrities scheduled to appear at the 2010 Celebrity Autograph Table and Photo Booth in exchange for donations to BC/EFA include: Kate Baldwin, Bryan Batt, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Mario Cantone, Kathleen Chalfant, Terri Colombino, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Jason Danieley, Ellen Dolan, Richard Easton, Malcolm Gets, Mandy Gonzalez, Montego Glover, Julie Halston, Ann Harada, Jessica Hecht, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Matthew Hydzik, Gregory Jbara, Andy Karl, Chad Kimball, Levi Kreis, Dan Lauria, Aaron Lazar, Judith Light, Lorna Luft, Robert Britton Lyons, David Andrew MacDonald, Marin Mazzie, Jerry Mitchell, Donna Murphy, Phyllis Newman, Kelli O'Hara, Denis O'Hare, Orfeh, Patrick Page, Austin Peck, Vanessa Ray, Alice Ripley, Chita Rivera, Elizabeth Stanley, Bobby Steggert, John Tartaglia and Colleen Zenk. All appearances are subject to change.

The following lots are included in the auction and will be up for bidding: a walk-on role in Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera, Mamma Mia!, In the Heights, Rock of Ages and Wicked; one of the prosthetic headpieces worn by Brian d'Arcy James in Shrek The Musical, signed by the entire original Broadway cast; "Good Morning Baltimore" musical phrase from Hairspray, handwritten and signed by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman; the last pair of tickets to the sold out New York Times "TimesTalks" featuring Frank Rich and Stephen Sondheim on Nov. 22, with the chance to meet Rich and Sondheim afterward; the chance to conduct the orchestra of The Phantom of the Opera during the exit music at one performance; dinner with Anthony Rapp; "When You're an Addams" musical phrase from The Addams Family, handwritten and signed by Andrew Lippa; "Walk Like A Man" musical phrase from Jersey Boys, handwritten and signed by Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli; "For Good" musical phrase from Wicked, handwritten and signed by Stephen Schwartz; the opportunity to have Jonathan Freeman, who voiced the villainous "Jafar" in the Aladdin film, to record your phone message; Daniel Craig's tank top that he wore during a performance of A Steady Rain, autographed by Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman; a poster from Susan Sarandon's Exit the King dressing room that was signed by over 50 celebrities who visited her backstage during the show's run; a 2010 Tony Awards poster signed by all of the presenters and nominees.

Also, autographed items from celebs such as Antonio Banderas, Corbin Bleu, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Gavin Creel, Raul Esparza, Green Day, Marvin Hamlisch, Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli, Bernadette Peters, Daniel Radcliffe, Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave, Stephen Sondheim, John Stamos, Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Eaton Travis, Vanessa Williams and many more.

A CONVERSATION WITH MEL BROOKS for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. An evening of laughs as Mel Brooks takes the stage with BBC Creative Director, Alan Yentob, to discuss his life, career and answer questions from the audience. While funds from this one-night event solely benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Geffen Playhouse is proud to support this organization for the betterment of the community.

VIP ticket holders are invited to an intimate champagne and dessert reception hosted by Mel Brooks immediately following the show.

September 27, 2010 at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.

THALIANS RED CARPET BENEFIT Debbie Reynolds and Ruta Lee have championed the charity as President and Board Chairperson and continue to raise money for mental health from pediatrics to geriatrics. This evening will start with a silent auction and will also include appetizers, cocktails and a the show Debbie Reynolds: Alive & Fabulous starring the legendary Debbie Reynolds with Musical Director Joey Singer. The award-winning actress whose career spans six decades, brings her one-woman show to the historic El Portal Theatre Mainstage in North Hollywood for nine performances only, September 23 - October 3 with the opening night of September 24, staged as this benefit.

a celebration of duets to benefit breast cancer research takes place Saturday, September 26, at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center in Santa Monica, CA.

The includes a pre-show cocktail party, red carpet, an after party dinner, cocktails, silent auction.

Entertainers include: Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Emily Bergl, Nikki Crawford, Madelyn Deutch, Conchata Ferrell, Tricia Leigh Fisher, Lisa Foxx, Davis Gaines, Erica Gimpel, Elaine Hendrix, Anne Heche, Julie Janney, Arden Kaywin, Sharon Lawrence, Vicki Lewis, Melissa Manchester, Lesli Margherita, Mary Ann Mobley, Sara Niemietz, Nicole Parker, Valarie Pettiford, Amy Pietz, Marcia Strassman, Tierney Sutton, Lea Thompson, Lisa Ann Walter, Jennifer Leigh Warren, Maggie Wheeler, Kathleen Wilhoite, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Charlayne Woodard, Jo Anne Worley and Leslie Zemeckis.

A VERY MUSICAL EVENING to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust takes place September 26 at the oldest Grand Music Hall in the world, Wilton's Music Hall in London.

Aled Jones will host an outstanding evening of musical talent as various celebrity artists from the worlds of pop, jazz, musical theatre and comedy come together in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. The evening will also include a Prize Auction as well as a Word Auction, where multi-award winning theatre composer and lyricist duo Stiles and Drewe will create a song during the interval based on words provided by the audience.

The confirmed line up is Jonathan Groff, Gareth Gates, James Bourne, Hannah Waddingham, Charlotte Riby, Emma Lindars & Portia Emare, Stiles and Drewe, The Casablanca Steps, Lawrence Layton and Roachford, plus a few more star guests to be discovered on the night.

Every year 2000 teenagers in the UK are diagnosed with cancer. Teenage Cancer Trust focuses on the needs of those with cancer, leukemia, Hodgkin's and related diseases by providing specialist teenage units in NHS hospitals. Units cost over $6.2 million each to build and Teenage Cancer Trust aims to complete at least 22 units in the UK. All monies raised by this event will go towards initiatives to make that happen.

BREAK A LEG! sneak peek the annual event showcasing the theater season in Rochester, NY honored Emmy winner Michael Park best known as Jack on As The World Turns a soap whose final show aired last Friday. The event of September 13 featured a tribute to Park and a performance by him, as well as a preview of productions by area theater groups. The event was staged at the 100+ year old proscenium theater stage German House Theater, in Canadaigua, NY, which is Park's home town. Proceeds from tickets sales and an on-site silent auction will benefit Artists Unlimited, a theatre program for individuals with special needs.

The evening also featured the presentation of the 4th Annual City Newspaper Spirit Award to Park, an award bestowed upon a Rochester native who has made a career in theatre.

Park began his career on the stage is returning to that medium. On October 13 he opens at the Vineyard in The Big Apple starring in Middletown written by Will Eno and directed by Ken Rus Schmoll.

The production also stars Heather Burns, Linus Roache, and Georgia Engel.

According to production notes: "From Pulitzer Prize-finalist Will Eno comes a deeply moving and funny new play, exploring the universe of a small American town. As a friendship develops between longtime resident John Dodge (Linus Roache) and new arrival Mary Swanson (Heather Burns), the lives of the inhabitants of Middletown intersect in strange and compelling ways. A powerful and poignant meditation on birth, death and points between."

L-R: Honoree Stephen Schwartz, Richard Thomas, who performed at Westport Country Playhouse in “Whose Life Is It Anyway?” in 1980, and Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. Photo courtesy: Westport Country Playhouse
celebrated their 80th season at the theater's annual fundraising gala, on September 13, when an audience of over 500 attended The Magical Music of Stephen Schwartz, honoring the musical theater composer.

Gala proceeds will support artistic and education programs of the Playhouse - with a special focus this year on the Woodward Internship program.

The evening’s performance, recognizing Schwartz’s innumerable songwriting contributions to American theater and film, featured Broadway artists Kate Baldwin, Katie Clarke, Darius de Haas, Andrew Lippa, Julia Murney, Christiane Noll, Carole Shelley, Max Von Essen and Ben Vereen. In addition, Schwartz himself performed.

Schwartz thanked the audience for their support of the Playhouse over the years, “which has meant that I could come and enjoy the wonderful shows I have seen here.”

He related that he first attended the Playhouse at age 15 to see Threepenny Opera. His first professional song was for a show that premiered at the Playhouse, Butterflies Are Free. He and his wife, Carole, brought their children to the Playhouse, and their association culminated with their son, Scott, directing the Playhouse production of tick, tick...BOOM! last year.

Gene Wilder, who appeared at Westport Country Playhouse in Don’t Make Me Laugh in 2002, with his wife, Karen. Photo courtesy Westport Country Playhouse.
Edward Herrmann, who has performed at Westport Country Playhouse, was a gala guest with his wife, Starr. Photo courtesy Westport Community Playhouse
“I have a long and happy history with Westport Country Playhouse and am really honored to be here and help support them under the new visionary leadership of Mark Lamos and Michael Ross,” stated Schwartz. “I know we’re in for many wonderful theatrical experiences ahead.”

The performance was produced by Kevin Duncan, directed by Joe Calarco, with music direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell and Joel Fram, and musical staging by Tim Federle.

Honorary gala chairs were Kate and Bob Devlin of Southport; gala chairs were Kim and Niv Harizman of Westport.

In honor of Westport Country Playhouse 80th anniversary season, several Playhouse alumni artists returned as guests, including A.R. Gurney, Edward Herrmann, Dana Ivey, James Naughton, Frances Sternhagen, Richard Thomas, Gene Wilder, David Wiltse and Joanne Woodward.

Ben Vereen sang Magic to Do and Corner of the Sky from Schwartz’s Pippin, for which Vereen won a Tony Award. Photo courtesy Westport Community Playhouse
The Gala Committee included: Kate & Bob Devlin, Gala Honorary Chairs · Kim & Niv Harizman, Gala Chairs · Karen Parrella, Auction Chair · Stacy & Howard Bass · Ania Czekaj-Farber · Sandy & Neil DeFeo · Jill & Alex Dimitrief · Missy & Fred Feuerhake· Michele & Marc Flaster · Katia & John Friend · Angela & Mark Graham · Jane & Ian Warburg · Joyce Hergenhan · Bitsy & Mitch Higgins · Annie Keefe & David Wiltse · Darlene Krenz · Mary Ellen & Jim Marpe · Elisabeth & Stanley Morten · Joan & Sam Nevin · Marjorie Peterson & Robert Cenci · Jane & David Preiser · Candy & Bill Raveis · Jody & Peter Robbins · Danna & Don Rogers · Barbara & John Samuelson · Carol & Peter Seldin · Ann Sheffer & Bill Scheffler · Melissa & Alon Shein· Carmen & Howard Sosin· Carlyn & Robert Stonehill· Barbara & John Streicker· Kanika & Mark Taylor · Johnna Torsone & John McKeon · Margie & Joel Treisman · Judy M. Witt & Scott Phares · John Vaccaro.

The Board of Trustees: Elisabeth Morten, Chair · Sandra DeFeo, President · David Fiore, Vice President · Kate Devlin, Vice President · Richard Slavin, Secretary · Michael Klingher, Treasurer · Howard Aibel · Harold Bailey, Jr. · James P. Bradley · Michele Flaster · Jay M. Forgotson · Mark S. Graham · Kim Harizman· Joanna Heimbold · Helen Lee Henderson · Joyce Hergenhan · Theron S. Hoffman · James Earl Jones · Anne Keefe · Darlene F. Krenz · Roger Leifer · Arthur Levitt · Joan D. Nevin · Jeffrey Peterson · Marjorie Peterson · Janet Plotkin · Christopher Plummer · Cherie Quain · Judith Resnick · Jody Robbins · John Samuelson · Carol West Seldin · Ann Sheffer · Barbara K. Streicker · Sharon Sullivan · Johnna G. Torsone · Marjorie Treisman · John A. Vaccaro · Joanne Woodward.


SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER starring Tony Award-nominated actress Dana Ivey as Mrs. Venable in a one-night-only reading at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival on September 26. In addition to Ivey, the Williams one-act will feature Robert Bogue as Dr. "Sugar" Cukrowicz. Jodie Markell will direct.

AMERICAN MUSIC MASTERS TRIBUTE in conjunction with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's tribute to Fats Domno and Dave Bartholomew. The Museum has partnered with the New Orleans Ponderosa Stomp for this event.

On Friday, September 24th, the Rock Hall's Dr. Lauren Onkey and Jason Hanley will host the Third Annual American Music History Conference at the Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans. An array of iconic musicians will be interviewed at the conference including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Duane Eddy, Eonnie Spector and Dave Bartholomew, along with Jimi Espinoza, the original bassist of Thee Midniters, who ignited Chicano rock in 60's East L.A. with cruising anthems like Whittier Blvd.

Additionally, the Trashmen, the wild 60's Minnesotans behind the iconic rock song Surfin' Bird will be interviewed as well.

The Ponderosa Stomp is an American roots music festival dedicated to recognizing the architects of rock-n-roll, blues, jazz, country, swamp pop, and soul. Founded in New Orleans and produced by the non-profit Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau, a diverse group of music fanatics who have presented over 50 concerts with over 200 musical legends, the Stomp always succeeds in exposing rare musical icons to their adoring fans and to new audiences. The Stomp itself has now become legendary in reviving careers and giving a new lease on musical life to so many performers.

FIRST THROWS PLAY READING SERIES at The Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College presents The Master Forger by David Wiener. First Throws is the theater's unique playwriting salon that presents new plays exploring issues of justice from an artistic perspective. The Master Forger tells the true story of the ingenious Dutch art forger Han van Meegeren. Taking place in the shattered city of Amsterdam after World War II, van Meegeren is arrested for selling a priceless Vermeer to the Nazis and charged with treason. But the investigation takes a bizarre turn when van Meegeren claims that the Vermeer in question is his own forgery. The authorities challenge him to prove his ridiculous claim or face the gallows. Now, the master forger must create his own greatest fake - or die. The Master Forger is directed by Susan Einhorn and the cast of six features David Little as Han van Meegeren.

Monday, September 27, 2010 at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College for Criminal Justice, NYC. Admission is free and no tickets are required.

A SALUTE TO TONY ORLANDO'S 50th anniversary in show business takes place Wednesday, September 29 at The Paley Center in Los Angeles.

The Paley Center for Media presents this exclusive and intimate conversation with the entertainer on the occasion of his fiftieth anniversary in show business. This multimedia celebration will include classic moments from his groundbreaking weekly variety series, The Tony Orlando & Dawn Show, the first multiethnic variety series on television.

The recipient of three American Music Awards and a People’s Choice Award will reflect on a life in entertainment including two shows on Broadway, friendships with Bob Hope and Freddie Prinze, and headlining appearances in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and on concert stages throughout the world.

There is also a private reception with Tony Orlando for Paley After Dark patrons.

QUEEN ELIZABETH AND PRINCE PHILIP attended a production of Les Miserables during their visit September 14 to the Gordonstoun School in Moray where they opened a sports center. The musical performance wasn't a red carpet affair with megawatt stars in the leading roles. Rather, the royal couple were treated to a school production of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber/Tim Rice hit.

Later the press was told: "The queen clearly enjoyed her taste of the West End."

Apparently the queen enjoys musical theater. Prior to President Obama visiting the Queen, the White House inquired as to what might be a gift Queen Elizabeth would enjoy. Obama followed through on the suggestion and presented her with an iPod loaded with hit tunes from Broadway shows.

DAS RHEINGOLD PANEL DISCUSSION General Manager Peter Gelb of the Metropolitan Opera speaks with Robert Lepage and Bryn Terfel, who is singing his first, much-anticipated Met Wotan, about the new production, sure to be a theatrical highlight of the year. All performances of Das Rheingold are currently sold out

The panel discussion takes place Wednesday, September 22, at the Met in NYC.

based on the 1983 Paramount Pictures film - screenplay by Tom Hedley and Joe Eszterhas, story by Tom Hedley - is written for the stage by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary. Nikolai Foster directs. The choreographer is Arlene Phillips.

Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Matt Willis lead the West End cast.

Also in the cast are Sarah Ingram (Hannah), Charlotte Harwood (Gloria), Hannah Levane (Keisha) and Twinnie-Lee Moore (Jazmin), with Brendan Cull, Russell Dixon, Sam Mackay, Ricky Rojas, Andrew Spillett and Robbie White, as well as Ivan Blackstock, Tyman Boatwright, Myles Brown, Joseph Conner, Natalie Edmunds, Nicholas Gilligan, Zoe Green, James Hall, Ben Harrold, Emily Hawgood, Kirby Huges, Sia Kiwa, Lindsay Shaw, Maria Swainson, Amy Thornton and Daniel Uppal.

Set in Pittsburgh, it tells the story of 18-year-old Alex, a welder by day and ‘flashdancer’ by night, who dreams of obtaining a place at the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy.

The score includes the tracks Maniac, Manhunt, Gloria, I Love Rock And Roll and the Oscar-winning title track Flashdance… What A Feeling, as well as 10 original songs written by Cary and Robbie Roth for the stage musical.

The West end set designer is Morgan Large. West end costume designer is Sue Blane. Paul Farnsworth serves as the UK Tour Set & Costume Designer. Lighting Design by Howard Harrison. Sound design by Bobby Aitken. Orchestrations and Musical Supervision by Phil Edwards. Projection Designer is Ian Galloway.

Performances begin September 24 with the official opening set for October 14 at West End's Shaftesbury Theatre, London.

DYING IS EASY...COMEDY IS HARD written by an starring Nick Ullett. Directed by Lisa James.

Originating two decades ago at the 13th Street Theatre in New York's Greenwich Village, the show that started out as an autobiographical account of Nick's arrival in America as one-half of an English comedy team during the swinging '60s morphed into something else entirely when fate stepped in, altering his life with a diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Nick incorporated his fight against cancer into the show, never shying away from the reality of the battle - but always mining the humor that kept him going. The result is stimulating, funny, and thought-provoking theater.

Mondays September 27- October 25, 2010 at the Matrix in Los Angeles.

FDR the solo play based on Dore Schary's Tony-winning drama Sunrise at Campobello, starring Ed Asner.

The production explores the life of one of America’s best-loved presidents and the events and decisions that shaped a nation. This powerful play follows the iconic president as he reflects on his years in office, from inauguration to the trials of World War II. One night only, September 25, at the Bolton Theater at the Cleveland Play House, Cleveland, OH.

subtitled A Play with Cartoons by Brenden Jacobs-Jenkins. Nataki Garrett directs the West Coast premiere.

Have you seen the new neighbors? Richard Patterson is an upwardly mobile African-American academic. The family of black actors who has moved in next door is rowdy, tacky, shameless, and uncouth. They are not just invading his neighborhood - they're infiltrating his family, his sanity, and his entire post-racial lifestyle.

"Branden is a part of a growing group of New York-based writers of color who have started a previously taboo conversation about identity politics in America," says Garrett. "In the play, Richard has cut himself off from major aspects of his identity. The family who moves in next door embodies his worst nightmare. They represent everything he's tried to deny in himself."

"I see Neighbors as the continuation of the dialogue about race in America," asserts Stern, who first workshopped Neighbors at the Matrix last December, before it went on to premiere in New York as part of The Public Theatre's LAB series in February.

The ensemble cast includes Baadja-Lyne, Keith Arthur Bolden, Leith Burke Julia Campbell, James Edward Shippy, Rachae Thomas, Daniele Watts, and Derek Webster.

Set Design is by John Iacovelli; Lighting Design is by J. Kent Inasy; Costume Design is by Naila Aladdin Sanders; and Sound Design is by John Zalewski.

Performances through October 24 at The Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles.

CANDIDE with a new book penned by Tony Award and MacArthur "Genius" Grant-winning director Mary Zimmerman.

Music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Richard Wilbur, plus additional lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, John Latouche, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Leonard Bernstein. Musical directed by Doug Peck has tailored the score for the cast of 19 and orchestra of 12.

This outrageous musical satire tells the story of the naïve Candide, who is banished for romancing the Baron's daughter only to be plagued by a series of absurd hardships that challenge his optimistic outlook of life and love.

Rather than utilizing the existing book by Hugh Wheeler, Zimmerman decided to base her adaptation on Voltaire's original 1759 Candide Or Optimism. She decided to align the sequence of events in Candide's adventure to those in the novella's original structure.

The musical features Geoff Packard (Candide), Lauren Molina (Cunegonde), Larry Yando (Pangloss), Hollis Resnick (Old Lady), Jonathan Weir (Governor), Erik Lochtefeld (Maximillian), Margo Seibert (Paquette), Jesse Perez (Cacambo), and Tom Aulino (Martin), along with ensemble members Spencer Curnutt, Rebecca Finnegan, Govind Kumar, Rob Lindley, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Emma Rosenthal, Thomas Adrian Simpson, Joey Stone, Tempe Thomas, and Joseph Tokarz.

The design team includes Daniel Ostling (set), Mara Blumenfeld (costumes), T.J. Gerkens (lighting) and Richard Woodbury (sound). Danny Pelzig choreography.

Candide, is at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago extended through October 31.

Austyn Myers as Eugene Jerome and Karen Ziemba as Kate Jerome in Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs
by Neil Simon. Directed by Scott Schwartz.

The second half of The Old Globe in San Diego's fall Neil Simon repertory. Tony Award winner Karen Ziemba stars as Kate Jerome in both plays. In addition to Ziemba, Brighton Beach Memoirs cast includes: David Bishins (Jack Jerome), Bonnie Black (Blanche Morton), Sloan Grenz (Stanley Jerome), Austyn Myers (Eugene Jerome), Allie Trimm (Nora Morton), Julia Vanderwiel (Laurie Morton).

Broadway Bound cast: David Bishins (Jack Jerome), Bonnie Black (Blanche Morton), Howard Green (Ben Epstein), Joseph Parks (Stanley Jerome), Brandon Uranowitz (Eugene Jerome).

Brighton Beach Memoirs - Coming of age is never easy—but it can be a hilarious. Meet Eugene Morris Jerome: he’s 15, living in late-1930s Brooklyn, and thinks of little else but playing for the Yankees… and girls. But he’s more suited to being a writer than a shortstop, and the girl of his dreams could never be the girl of his reality. His witty, perceptive commentary about his life, and the struggles of his overworked father, overbearing mother, overconfident brother, overcrowded house, and overly-gorgeous cousin, make this journey through puberty poignant, insightful and delightful.

Broadway Bound - Should Eugene Morris Jerome, of the Brighton Beach Jeromes, put family ahead of career? The career path he’s on is writing rather than baseball, but he is still obsessed with un-gettable girls, and what were once the innocent musings of a teenage boy are now the bread and butter of his writing career. When he and his brother Stanley get their big break as radio writers, and their family’s struggles become writing-fodder for anyone to hear, he is forced to face the reality that even living at home, with adulthood, comes consequences.

Ralph Funicello (Scenic Design), Alejo Vietti (Costume Design), Matthew McCarthy (Lighting Design), Paul Peterson (Sound Design), Michael Holland (Original Music), Jan Gist (Dialect Coach) and Diana Moser (Stage Manager).

Performances through November 17 at The Old Globe in San Diego, CA.

WEST SIDE STORY welcomes Sarah Amengual to the Broadway production in the leading role of Maria on Tuesday, September 21 She is replacing original cast member Josefina Scaglione, who will play her final performance in the role on Sunday, September 19.

TRANS-EURO EXPRESS by Dublin playwright Gary Duggan.

Directed by Chris Henry.

An aspiring filmmaker, a singer-songwriter, an actress and an artist embark on a fast-paced Eurorail mission to shoot a debut music video - an epic journey that will test the limits of friendship, allowing no one to return home the same.

Starring: Patricia Buckley, Roderick Hill, Charlie Kevin and Katy Wright-Mead.

This US premiere is at The Donaghy Theatre in NYC through October 3 as part of the 1st Irish Theater Festival, NYC.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL will debut a major new acrobatic spectacle next summer at the legendary Radio City Music Hall in New York. Created especially for the landmark theater, the production will be directed by François Girard.

The new show takes place in an abandoned theatre and follows a magician who has lost his love and with her, his magic has disappeared. As he cries and begs the Gods for her return he is plunged into a world inhabited by surreal creatures. The diverse cast of 71 international artists transports the audience into a fantastical and suspenseful world, blurring the boundaries between the real and imaginary.

Along with François Girard, the creative team consists of 12 creators under the artistic guidance of Cirque du Soleil Founder Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix. They are: Nick Littlemore – Composer and Musical Director. Littlemore is an Australian musician and producer, who is a protégé of Sir Elton John who will be guiding him through the creative process of this new production. Line Tremblay - Director of Creation: Stéphane Roy – Set and Props Designer: Alan Hranitelj – Costume Designer: Debra Brown – Choreographer: Elena Kolyadenko – Choreographer: Alain Lortie – Lighting Designer: Raymond St-Jean – Image Content Designer: Steven Dubuc – Sound Designer: Florence Pot – Acrobatic Performance Designer: Danny Zen – Rigging and Acrobatic Equipment Designer: Eleni Uranis – Makeup Designer.

whose opening at The Court Theatre in Christchurch, New Zealand was delayed because of the earthquake, raised the curtain last night, Saturday, September 18.

Penned by Michelanne Foster and helmed by Ross Gumbley, the production is billed as "A joyously emotional tribute to one woman's strength inspired by the true story of Thilde Forster, the playwright's grandmother."

It centers on a headstrong young Jewish woman's turbulent relationship with Academy Award winning director Michael Curtiz. In addition to Casablanca the Hungarian-American has directing credits on over 100 films, including The Adventures of Robin Hood, Angels With Dirty Faces, Yankee Doodle Dandy and White Christmas.

He was also noted for his affairs.

Filled with vividly-drawn characters - including the infamous Curtiz - Don't Mention Casablanca is called "a powerful and resonant testament to the power of family by one of New Zealand's leading playwrights."

"This is Michelanne Forster's most autobiographical play to date and was very warmly received at our 2009 rehearsed readings in The Forge. Personal and universal, I believe this is Forster's finest work yet." - Ross Gumbley.

The cast includes: Lara Macgregor, Jonathan Martin, Paul McLaughlin, Steven Ray, Sandra Rasmussen, Tim Bartlett, Jake Metzger and Georgia-Kate Heard.


AVERY SOMMERS who starred on Broadway in the long running critically acclaimed musical Ain’t Misbehavin’ replacing Nell Carter, as well as appearing in Showboat as Queenie brings her cabaret act You're Gonna Hear From Me to Club Caldwell on Saturday, September 25. Caldwell Theatre Company in Boca Raton, FL

1st FUNHILL MUSIC FESTIVAL kicks off in Beijing’s Fangshan District during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday from September 21-23. The festival promises to be three days and three nights of "outdoor fun featuring a strong line-up of national and international bands."

At the time of writing, the line-up included English bands Mr. Hudson and Zero Seven. Major Chinese bands and musicians include Zhang Chu, Free the Birds, Xie Tianxiao, Brain Failure, Steely Heart, Wang Wen, Zhou Yunpeng and Ruins, Ma Tiao etc. The electronic stage is also a magnet for Beijing’s best DJ’s including the folks from Meiwenti Soundsystem, Sulumi, iLoop, Mickey Dee, Dead J, England’s Zero 7 & many more.

JOSH RITTER and the Royal City Band. The Idaho-born singer, songwriter and guitarist performs Thursday, September 23, at Barbican Centre, London.

JASON ROBERT BROWN the Tony Award-winning composer will make his West End concert debut for two nights only on Friday September 24 and Saturday September 25 at the Garrick Theatre, joined for the first time outside of the US by Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose. Jason will be performing brand new, previously unheard material, as well as a selection of songs from his shows Songs for a New World, Parade, The Last 5 Years and 13. Jason will be accompanied by his own band The Caucasian Rhythm Kings, as well as a fabulous four-strong French horn section.

ELAINE PAIGE will make her Atlantic City concert debut in The Music Box at The Borgata Resort on September 25.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA with hosts Dana Lorge and Richard Skipper. Barry Levitt on keyboard and Saadi Zain on bass. Wednesday's guests include: Cynthia Crane, Jackie Draper, Diana LaBlanc, Marcus Simione and Maureen Taylor. Wednesday, September 22 at the Iguana VIP Lounge in NYC.

TONY ORLANDO performs at the South Point in Las Vegas September 24-26.

Next Column: September 26, 2010
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Laura Deni

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