Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: September 25, 2016
By: Laura Deni


Recently Broadway Records has released two offerings which in content are totally different - both are delightfully entertaining.

Jay Armstrong-Johnson is not (possibly yet) a household name. He works steady in his chosen profession which is more than 80 percent of theatrical professionals can boast.

He's got a lot going for him, including a CD aptly titled Jay Armstrong-Johnson recorded live at Feinsteins 54 Below and released by Broadway Records.

A combination of fun, emotional, interesting and beautiful songs. His conversational segments are clever. He can make eating chicken fascinating and - his description of, fortunately, not being killed when he was a passenger in a car which careened into a guard rail is hilarious.

He also brings on, as guest artists, performers who are major players in his cabaret chats.

Those are important, distinctive aspects of this CD - aspects which aren't usually present in most cabaret CD recordings, thus elevating this recording.

While he has never had his name above a title, he's been cast in several productions including, at the age of 13, being cast as John Darling in Cathy Rigby's Peter Pan. He credits that as being the moment his passion also became his career. It was while performing as Mark in A Chorus Line at the Casa Mañana Theate in Fort Worth, Texas that Texas native Jay earned his equity card. In 2008 Jay accepted the role of Mark in the first national revival tour of A Chorus Line. After seven months on the road, Jay returned to the Big Apple. In 2009 he auditioned for the 2009 revival of Hair as was cast as Gavin Creel's understudy.

At age 21, Jay Armstrong Johnson made his Broadway debut, without having even one rehearsal, when Gavin became ill in Hair's third week of previews. After Hair, Jay was cast as the standby for Aaron Tveit as the lead role, Frank Abagnale Jr. in the 2011 musical Catch Me if You Can.

Then he landed roles off-Broadway and regionally. Frederick in Pirates! or Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder 'd at the MUNY in Saint Louis, Wild Animals You Should Know at MCC, Working at Prospect Theater Company, Romeo in The Last Goodbye at The Old Globe in San Diego.

In 2012 he was cast as Greg Wilhote in the short-lived but heartfelt Broadway musical Hands on a Hardbody, which was met with positive reviews.

After HOAH closed, Jay's first audition was for the role of Chip in On the Town at the Barrington Stage Company in the Berkshires. The production transferred to Broadway in the fall of 2014 and Jay spent a year in his first leading role on Broadway.

During the transition, Jay played Anthony in the New York Philharmonic's staged concert of Sweeney Todd, which was broadcast on PBS. The production starred Emma Thompson, Bryn Terfel and Audra McDonald.

His performance as Herman in Encores' The Most Happy Fella was hailed by The New York Times as "a standout."

Jay's theatrical credits are relevant to this CD because he includes musical selections from those performances. The CD kicks off with a hard driven Love Runs Out. While Jay's childhood idol was Reba McEntire, he started singing gospel in church. When Sister Act, Two came along Jay was in heaven. He dedicates the emotional gospel medley to his mother. The songs begin with the a cappella His Eye Is On The Sparrow, while the backup singers wail and the band cuts loose on Oh! Happy Day.

He celebrates his Texas roots with the Rascal Flats' boot stompin' Banjo. Jay and Lindsay Mendez, who appeared in Wicked as the 10th Anniversary Elphaba, duet on I Don't Need Anything But You from Annie with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, The arrangement is by Jeff Blumenkrantz. Josh Plotner on saxophone is a standout.

Jay's rendition of Joanna, from Sweeney Todd, with words and music by Stephen Sondheim, is beautiful.

The Chicken Song follows a delightful story about eating - or not eating - before a performance of On The Town.

He introduces childhood friend Todrick Hall, who will assume the lead role of Lola in the hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots on November 1, 2016. He will be replacing Alan Mingo Jr. Hall duets with Jay on The Chicken Song with music and lyrics by Logan McWilliams and an arrangement by Charlie Rosen.

Jay's ability to effectively tell a story is significant.

Nearly all cabaret shows involve the star telling personal recollections about their lives; or why the songs in the program have meaning to them. Too often those chatty moments are delivered in too much of a hodgepodge, breathy, too casual, non professional way of speaking. The stories are funny or interesting to the performer and to their most intimate of associates. To others - not so much.

Not so in the case. Jay, who has a fondness for bacon, Sushi, and Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies, has potential as a stand-up storyteller. He doesn't deliver cheap rim-shot jokes. Although his patter is delivered with a youthful exuberance, his stories build with a beginning, middle and end, making for wider appeal; also contributing to making this CD all the more interesting.

Billy Lewis Jr. joins in on an effective Hair medley: What a Piece of Work is Man/Lay Me Down/How Dare They Try.

The story about a true auto accident comes next with Jay introducing backup singer Amanda Williams Ware, a best friend with whom he once took a disastrous road trip. Funny story. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured or killed. A secondary story is - always make sure your lights work. You need to listen to the CD to understand.

Amanda, who possesses a beautiful voice, joins Jay on Thank U.

A well crafted and entertaining CD which showcases a man with talent - Jay Armstrong-Johnson.

Music Supervision by Rodney Bush. Mixed by Derek Lee. Mastered by Oscar Zambrano.

The musicians include: Music director/piano Rodney Bush. Bass: Mark Van Ziegler. Drums: Trey Ware. Guitar: Matt Sangiovanni. Violin: Kiku Emomotor. Cello: Allison Seidner. Reeds: Josh Plotner. Trumpet: Enrique Sanchez. Guest Banjo: Andrew Zinsmeister.

The Back-up Singers are: Allison Robinson, Amanda Williams Ware, and Billy Lewis Jr.

is a star-studded studio cast recording also released by Broadway Records. Like You Like It is the award-winning musical based on the Bard's As You Like It, set at a mall in the 1980s. With music by Daniel S. Acquisto and words by Sammy Buck, the studio cast RADcording features Alison Luff, Derek Klena , Patti Murin, Robin De Jesús , Nick Cearley, Bonnie Milligan, Kate Rockwell, Sam Underwood and Lesli Margherita, with a special bonus track performed by Laura Osnes and Nathan Johnson.

The ensemble features Elisabeth Ness, Chandler Reeves, Aaron Riesebeck, Emily Rogers and Patrick Shelton. Students from groups such as Broadway Workshop, the 1214 Foundation and Kidz Theater perform as a special teen ensemble in a song written specifically for the Like You Like It High School Edition: Hillary Fisher, Michael Nigro, Joshua Spencer and Lexi Tobin.

This is a revved up, intense, mostly hard beat, teen target audience musical. The story-line is conveyed by the lyrics, so it is possible follow the plot by listening to the CD.

The official description states:

"All the world's a mall in Like You Like It, a totally awesome blend of As You Like It and the John Hughes movies of the 1980s. Winner of Best Musical at the 2009 NY Innovative Theatre Awards for the critically-lauded Gallery Players production, and a festival favorite in the inaugural New York Musical Festival (NYMF), Like You Like It has been performed extensively in regional theaters, international festivals, colleges and high schools,

"It's 1985 and the brand new Arden Mall is hosting a high school dance. Bookworm babe Rosalind wants to go with varsity wrestler Orlando, but she's never had the guts to talk to him. Rosalind disguises herself as a frat dude named Corey and learns Orlando's true feelings for her. But things get tricky when "Corey" complicates the lives of three other couples at Arden. Rosalind will do anything to get Orlando, even if it means showing up at the dance as both herself and Corey.

"Filled with memorable tunes, a hip sense of humor, pure joy and a huge heart, it all works out Like You Like It if you take the biggest risk of all: being yourself."

Productions aimed towards a youth market can be pushed aside as not significant by those who forget that what performing arts activity a school age child is involved in (even as an audience member) can set the foundation as to whether they will enjoy that art form.

Since this is a CD, to fully appreciate and understand the music, it's important to be cognizant of the intent and restraints upon Daniel S. Acquisto, who wrote the music.

He has penned an informative tutorial geared towards those interesting in staging the production. Understanding the motive and goal helps to appreciate the score. Part of Acquisto's instructions state:

"The music of Like You Like It is a theatrical 1980s pop/rock score and should be approached with an 80s mindset. Most of the time, the music is meant to sound not like a specific 80s song, but rather an amalgamation of several 80s pop songs at once. My attempt was to create a score that would tap at the back of the listener's psyche making him/her wonder if they had heard this song before or not. In other words, I was trying to write music that sounded familiar and brand-new simultaneously not to mention dramatically serving the scene on stage.

"I could include a list of songs that were an inspiration to this score; but most of the time, each number of Like You Like It was inspired by a few or more. Most notably is the opening number; there are several moments that pay homage to several artists of that era. Even the song Complicated gets its inspiration from Hit Me with Your Best Shot and Gilbert & Sullivan's Modern Major General.

"The orchestration has a fairly normal pop/rock configuration: keyboard 1/conductor, keyboard 2, two guitars, electric bass (with round-wound strings), and drums. . .

"In an ideal performance, the drum set would be an electronic/synth drum set, such as the Roland V-Drums, so that it can recreate all the electronic/synth drums sounds as well as acoustic sounds used throughout the 1980s. Also, the synth patches and guitar effects should sound of that era. . .

"Also, the bass part sometimes has a synth-bass indicated. My original intent was to have the bass player double on synth at those moments for a more authentic 80s synth-bass sound. . .

"There is a debate regarding the approach to the vocal technique used in this show. Since it is a musical, one can argue that proper vocal technique and intonation would be the best approach. However, since we want this to sound as 80s as possible without ruining the integrity of the performance, approaching the score with some of the more colorful vocals may be a better idea. . . Not everything is beautiful; not everything is in tune. Often there are pop grace notes, scoops, and drop-offs. (Every decade has its own specific vocal stylings. For example, the 80s didn't use long melismatic improvisation like it does today on American Idol.) . . .

"Currently, due to performance restrictions, the orchestration has only one guitar. To really capture that time period's sound, I want to add one more guitar. To really make it authentic, I would like to add some tenor and soprano sax to some of the songs as the sax was could be heard in a number of songs in the80s. Until the day arrives where we can add a second guitar and sax, the five-piece band will have to suffice."

One number deviates from the hard rock beat - Be With Me, which is lovely.

The Musicians are: Daniel S. Acquisto on keyboards and percussion. Brian Koonnin on guitar. Jonathan Hughes is credited with bass and guitar on bonus tract All of the Above.

Produced and recorded by Michael Croiter at Yellow Sound Lab in New York City. Mixed by Matthias Winter. Orchestrations by Daniel S. Acquisto. Music direction is by Beth Falcone. Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper. Casting is by Robin Carus.

The colorful booklet contains a "synposis" or "synfosis" (sic), plus lyrics and notes from the authors.

Both of the CDs reviewed in this column utilized crowd funding donations in order to produce the product. Donors are listed by name in either a tasteful half or full page section of their respective booklet. That may become the trend, since recordings are expensive and more financial obligations are being shouldered by the performer.

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Thank you for your interest.


the popular game show hosted by Alex Trebek featured the World War I Museum and Memorial as a category on the Friday, September 23 episode of the Emmy Award winning television show.

The Museum was thrilled to have been part of the show.

The entire category of video clues was filmed on-site at the Museum with Jeopardy! Clue Crew members Jimmy McGuire and Kelly Miyahara visited the Museum and participated in the filming of the clues.

McGuire is from Pittsburgh and has been traveling around the world to provide Jeopardy! viewers with clues since 2001. Miyahara has also participated in Trebek's two most recent USO Tours to Japan and Europe.

"The crew filmed/toured at the Museum in December of 2015 and they were here for about half a day," Mike Vietti, Director of Marketing, Communications and Guest Services told Broadway To Vegas.

As to whether the Museum had contacted Jeopardy or vice versa, Vietti replied; "They actually contacted us about appearing on the show and then we worked out the details. We found out about the air date earlier this month."

All of the clues were eventually answered correctly and the segment was a lovely showcase for the Museum.

“With millions of viewers across the world, Jeopardy! provides a tremendous opportunity to educate the public about the Great War and its enduring impact,” said Dr. Matthew Naylor, National World War I Museum and Memorial President and CEO. “We are thrilled that the team at Jeopardy! chose to recognize the importance of the First World War by traveling to our nation’s official World War I museum and memorial.”

Jeopardy! is hosted by Emmy winner Alex Trebek and recently began its 33rd season in syndication. Since its syndication debut in 1984, more than 7,300 episodes featuring more than 448,000 clues have aired. The show holds the Guinness World Records mark for the most Emmy Awards won by a game show - 33 Emmys.

Located in Kansas City, MO the National World War I Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. The Museum holds the most diverse collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and experiences of the war.

Andrea di Bartolo (Sienese, 1360/70–1428). The prophet Isaiah at the Gates of Jerusalem (detail from an antiphonary), about 1401–4. Italian, Siena. Tempera, gold and ink on parchment. Terra Sancta Museum, Bibliotheca Custodialis, Jerusalem
This exhibition will illuminate the key role that the Holy City played in shaping the art of the period from 1000 to 1400.

While Jerusalem is often described as a city of three faiths, that formulation underestimates its fascinating complexity. In fact, the city was home to multiple cultures, faiths, and languages.

History records harmonious and dissonant voices from many lands. Persians, Turks, Greeks, Syrians, Armenians, Georgians, Copts, Ethiopians, Indians, and Europeans passed in the narrow streets of a city not much larger than midtown Manhattan.

This is the first exhibition to unravel the various cultural traditions and aesthetic strands that enriched and enlivened the medieval city.

Over two hundred works of art will be gathered from some sixty lenders worldwide. Nearly a quarter of the objects will come from Jerusalem.

Among these are key loans from the city's many religious communities, some of which have never before shared their treasures outside their walls. Every People Under Heaven will bear witness to the crucial role that Jerusalem has played in shaping world culture, a lesson vital to our common history.

On exhibit through January 8, 2017 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.


THE MUSICCARES FOUNDATION one of the affiliated charities of The Recording Academy - announced new elected leadership and Board members.

The MusiCares Board elected former Vice Chair Alexandra Patsavas, founder of Chop Shop Music Supervision, as Chair; Board member Michael McDonald, founder and CEO of artist management company Mick Management, as Vice Chair; and Board member Stasia Washington, managing director of First Foundation Advisors, as Secretary/Treasurer. MusiCares' departing Chair Bill Silva, president of Bill Silva Entertainment, has been named Chair Emeritus. Former Board member, Chair, and Chair Emeritus John Branca, partner and head of the music department at Ziffren Brittenham LLP, has been announced as the Honorary Chair.

Newly elected MusiCares Foundation Board members include Jeffrey Harleston, general counsel and executive vice president of business and legal affairs for Universal Music Group; Tamara Hrivnak, director of music partnerships for YouTube and Google Play; Rob Light, partner and managing director/head of music of Creative Artists Agency; and Andie B. Simon, president of Andie B. Simon Inc.

Established in 1989 by The Recording Academy, MusiCares provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares' services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical, and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality.


The Cambridge family aka Prince William, Duchess Kate and their children Charlotte and George arrive in Canada aboard a RCAF_ARC which they thanked for flying them safety to Victoria. Photo: Kensington Palace.
The fashionable statement making Kate arrived in Canada on Saturday, September 24, 2016 wearing a royal blue Jenny Packham suit with a matching hat and Queen Elizabeth II's diamond maple leaf brooch. She carried daughter Princess Charlotte who wore a light blue dress with a matching bow in her hair. William and Kate both held Prince George's hands as they deplaned. The cute little boy wore a blue sweater and shorts with knee socks.

The Canadian visit will encompass over 30 engagements including an important visit to Canada's First Nations communities where the British royals will celebrate First Nations' arts and culture.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and their three children, Xavier (8), Ellan Grace (7) and Hadrien (2) will join the Cambridge family for several events.

The Trudeaus also have reportedly arranged that 3-year-old Prince George will have his favorite food - spaghetti Bolognese.

THE NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE IN OTTAWA, CANADA officially re-opens their Southam Hall on Sunday, October 2.

"The beautifully updated space, includes the addition of aisles on the orchestra level for greater accessibility, hardwood floors that are both visually appealing and contribute to improved sound, and of course, brand new seats."

The Official Opening and Ribbon Cutting will be followed by an open house with light refreshments.

GEORGE STREET PLAYHOUSE will host a special event to preview its groundbreaking 2016-17 season and celebrate the 20th anniversary of David Saint’s tenure as artistic director on Tuesday, September 27, 2016. The evening will be highlighted by a performance from members of the cast of Daddy Long Legs and a meet-and-greet with cast members from the season-opening Mama’s Boy.

The free event is open to the public. The sneak preview will also feature behind-the-scenes discussions about the Playhouse’s upcoming shows, ticket giveaways and discount offers. Light refreshments will be provided.

THE PASADENA PLAYHOUSE in Pasadena, CA has announced that it will move the second production of its 2016-2017 Season to a later date in 2017 and will be cancelling M. Butterfly, which was scheduled to run October 25 – November 20, 2016.

The decision was made after The Playhouse was unable to secure rights to present the play later in its season due to the Broadway revival in spring 2017. Due to several production elements and without the rights for a later date, The Playhouse cancelled M. Butterfly and has begun the planning to replace the production later in the 2016-2017 season.

NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR MUSICAL THEATRE has announced its Line Up of Directors for its 28th Annual Festival of New Musicals At New World Stages on October 27 - 28, 2016.

Those selected to helm the productions are: Jack Cummings III, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Christian Barillas, Michael Perlman, Griffin Matthews, Portia Krieger, Michael Berresse, and Kareem Fahmy.



STEVE MARTIN'S new play Meteor Shower, which finished its highly acclaimed world premiere run last week, has broken multiple Old Globe in San Diego, CA box office records and has become one of the most successful shows in Globe history.

The adult comedy now ranks as the highest-grossing show in the theatre’s in-the-round space (which includes both the original Cassius Carter Centre Stage and the current Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, part of the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center). It took in $862,236.50 in ticket sales, besting the previous record holder, 2015’s Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. Meteor Shower, which extended before first preview not once but twice due to popular demand, also broke Baskerville’s record for ticket sales in the White Theatre, selling 12,889 tickets throughout its celebrated run. Meteor Shower now ranks second all-time in tickets sold for the in-the-round space, behind only a 1996 production of A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, whose run included a considerably greater number of performances.

THE REVIVAL OF HELLO DOLLY! starring Bette Midler as matchmaker Dolly Levi and David Hyde Pierce as Horace Vandergelder set a new Broadway record for first day sales bringing in $9,082,497 at the box office. The revival will begin Broadway previews March 15, 2017, and open April 20 at the Shubert Theatre in New York City.

THE LATIN RECORDING ACADEMY has announced nominations for the 17th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards in all 48 categories. Leading with four nominations each are Julio Reyes Copello, Djavan, Fonseca, Jesse & Joy, and Ricardo López Lalinde. Reflecting an international blend of talented music makers, this year's nominees were selected from more than 10,500 submissions that were registered during the eligibility period (July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016). The Latin Recording Academy is composed of 3,300 members in more than 34 countries.

The preeminent award for excellence in Latin music is the only peer-based music accolade, voted on by a membership body. The winners will be revealed November 17, 2016, live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and broadcast on the Univision Network.

Two of the top awards are Album of the Year and Record of the Year. Nominated in those two categories are:

Tour Terral Tres Noches En Las Ventas - Pablo Alborán
Cinema (Edición En Español) - Andrea Bocelli
Mil Ciudades - Andrés Cepeda
Vidas Pra Contar - Djavan
Conexión - Fonseca
Los Dúo 2 - Juan Gabriel
Un Besito Más - Jesse & Joy
¿Dónde Están? - José Lugo & Guasábara Combo
Buena Vida - Diego Torres
Algo Sucede - Julieta Venegas

Cuestión De Esperar - Pepe Aguilar
Se Puede Amar - Pablo Alborán
Me Faltarás - Andrea Bocelli
'Si Volveré - Buika
Vidas Pra Contar - Djavan
Duele El Corazón - Enrique Iglesias Featuring Wisin
Ecos De Amor - Jesse & Joy.
Lado Derecho Del Corazón - Laura Pausini
Iguales - Diego Torres
La Bicicleta - Carlos Vives & Shakira

FALSETTOS Music and Lyrics byWilliam Finn. Book by William Finn and James Lapine.

Directed byJames Lapine.

Featuring (in alphabetical order): Stephanie J. Block, Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, Anthony Rosenthal, Tracie Thoms, Brandon Uranowitz, and Betsy Wolfe.

The groundbreaking, Tony Award-winning musical revolves around the life of a charming, intelligent, neurotic gay man named Marvin, his wife, lover, about-to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son, their psychiatrist, and the lesbians next door. It’s a hilarious and achingly poignant look at the infinite possibilities that make up a modern family… and a beautiful reminder that love can tell a million stories.

Previews begin September 29 at the Walter Kerr Theatre, New York City.

DON GIOVANNI Mozart's creation in a new translation by Roddy Doyle, commissioned by Opera Theatre Company.

Directed by Pan Pan’s Gavin Quinn.

Featuring RTÉ Concert Orchestra, conducted by Fergus Shell.

Don Giovanni is a legendary nobleman and the greatest seducer of all time. He loves women. Not individual women, no, he loves all women regardless of their size, shape or marital status.

One of Mozart’s operatic masterpieces, Don Giovanni tells the tale of a ‘womaniser’, his thirst for pleasure and his complete lack of regard for the human consequences. A huge hit with audiences in its day, Don Giovanni presents a thrilling story to audiences, weaving the enduring themes of guilt, regret, love and death.

Starring Welsh baritone David Kempster in the title role together with an outstanding cast of Irish and international opera stars, including mezzo soprano Tara Erraught as Donna Elvira, bass baritone John Molloy as Leporello and tenor Alexander Sprague as Don Ottavio.

Design by Bruno Schwengl and lighting design by Sinead McKenna, this brand new production of Don Giovanni marks Opera Theatre Company's first presentation at the Gaiety Theatre and is part of the company’s 30th anniversary program, celebrating 30 years of opera for everyone.

September 29, October 1 & 2, Gaiety Theatre as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival 2016 in Dublin, Ireland.

NO'S KNIFE a selection of Samuel Beckett’s Texts For Nothing Conceived and performed by Lisa Dwan.

Co-directed by Lisa Dwan and h The Old Vic’s Season 2 Baylis Director Joe Murphy.

‘Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be, what would I say, if I had a voice, who says this, saying it’s me?’

A lone figure. A voice searching in the dark for who it is and why it speaks. Lisa Dwan, considered the foremost interpreter of Samuel Beckett, offers a searing personal and political vision of his most original work: Texts for Nothing.

A giant of the theatre and a leading member of the literary avant-garde, Samuel Beckett was an Irishman who lived most of his adult life in Paris. His many plays, including Waiting for Godot, Happy Days and Krapp’s Last Tape, changed the face of modern theatre. No’s Knife is a live show of Beckett’s previously unperformed writings taken from his Texts for Nothing, a collection of short stories dealing with displacement and the unknown. Digging deep into the void, No’s Knife examines Beckett’s thoughts on the resilience required to remain alive after one’s dreams and love for life fade.

"Filled with piercing insight, rage, wit and humor, No’s Knife is an extraordinary journey into the heart of Beckett, unlocking his contemporary relevance to gender, identity and the human condition. It is an invitation to look at ourselves, and to ask who, or whom, am I?"

Christopher Oram: Designer - Hugh Vanstone: Lighting - Mic Pool: Sound.

The Old Vic presents the world premiere of No’s Knife. September 29 through October 15, 2016.

London theatres have announced that "For your comfort and security, you may be subject to additional checks on your visit to London theatres – we appreciate your patience and understanding while these are taking place."

Jai Rodriguez stars in Buyer & Cellar
written by Jonathan Tolins.

Directed by Dimitri Toscas.

Starring Jai Rodriguez the "Culture Vulture" host of the Emmy Award winning Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

Inspired by Barbra Streisand’s book My Passion for Design, this Off-Broadway hit comedy stars Rodriguez as Alex More, a struggling actor in LA, who takes a job working in Barbra Streisand’s Malibu basement, as a solo shopkeeper of sorts for her mall-like collection of memorabilia. What is true? There is a galleria in the basement of Streisand’s home. Tolins takes this truth and creates what has been called "a hilarious world where one man services the whole mall for a single customer, Babs herself."

October 5 - November 6 at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, CA.

THE LION a musical memoir written and performed by award-winning songwriter Benjamin Scheuer.

Directed by Sean Daniels.

"Throughout the production Scheuer plays six different guitars, including a 1929 Martin, a Les Paul, and a Froggy Bottom H-12. Tracing his quest to better understand the emotional intricacies of his father, leading the audience on his heartfelt journey to manhood, sharing the ups and downs of his life through beautifully poignant melodies in an autobiographical 15-song cycle. Much like its hero, The Lion roars."

The creative team is comprised of Neil Patel (Scenic Design), Jennifer Caprio (Costume Consultant), Ben Stanton (Lighting Design), Leon Rothenberg (Sound Design), Dom Ruggiero (Production Supervisor), Mind the Gap Productions (Technical Supervisor).

The Lion was originally produced in the United States by the Manhattan Theatre Club, Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director, Barry Grove, Executive Producer, on June 10, 2015. It was developed in part at a retreat at the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company; and at Goodspeed Musicals.

The Lion will play September 29 – October 30, 2016, in the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, part of the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center. The Old Globe in San Diego, CA.

HEISENBERG written by Simon Stephens.

Directed by Mark Brokaw.

Starring Denis Arndt and Tony and Emmy winner Mary-Louise Parker.

"Amidst the bustle of a crowded London train station, Georgie (Mary-Louise Parker) spots Alex (Denis Arndt), a much older man, and plants a kiss on his neck. This electric encounter thrusts these two strangers into a fascinating and life-changing game. Heisenberg brings to blazing, theatrical life the uncertain and often comical sparring match that is human connection."

The creative team includes Mark Wendland (scenic design), Michael Krass (costume design), Austin R. Smith (lighting design), David Van Tieghem (sound design), Stephen Gabis (dialect consultant) and Sam Pinkleton (choreography).

Currently in previews, Heisenberg opens Thursday, October 13 at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, New York City.

AN OCTOROON by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.

Directed by Nakkiah Lui.

"A provocatively hilarious interrogation of identity. It’s the story of historical Louisiana. Or historical Far North Queensland. Or it’s the story of a black playwright. Or how race is portrayed on stage. Or, maybe ... it’s about how they’re all the same story. Brash and provocative, the satirical comedy An Octoroon can trace its roots back to an 1856 novel, then a stage melodrama by crowd-pleasing Irish impresario Dion Boucicault. When the story of a man who scandalously falls for a slave on his Louisiana plantation premiered in New York in 1859, it helped fan the flame of the American Civil War.

"Today - with race still as incendiary a global issue as it was then - dazzling and radical African-American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has torn apart and rebuilt the original text as a towering, immersive and wildly funny theatrical experience like no other."

Billed as "a version subtly recontextualised to uncover and skewer Australia’s shameful history of slavery."

Featuring Miranda Tapsell.

Co-produced with Brisbane Festival. On stage through October 8, 2016 at the Bille Brown Studio, Queensland Theatre, Queensland, Australia.


ELTON JOHN and his band returns to London, Ontario for a performance at Budweiser Gardens on September 29. The show will feature iconic hits and classic album tracks as well as selected tracks from his latest album.

TONY AWARD WINNER LAURA BENANTI in the spotlight September 27 to October 8, 2016 at Cafe Carlyle in New York City.

ADELE closes out a New York stand at Madison Square Garden on Monday, September 26. She opens a two night stand on Friday, September 30 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.

JUSTIN BIEBER opens a two nighter on Monday, September 26, at the Hartwell Arena in Helsinki, Finland. On Thursday he opens another two night stand at the Teke2 Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. Next Sunday, October 2, he performs at the Telia Parken in Copenhagen, Denmark.

BEN FOLDS performs Monday, September 26, at the Hart Theatre in Albany, NY. On Thursday he begins a two night gig at the Majestic Theatre in Madison, WI. Sautrday finds him at the First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN.

THREE DOG NIGHT appears at the South Plains Fair in Lubbock, Texas on Tuesday, September 27. On Thursday's they're on stage at the Central National Bank Center in Enid, OK. Friday finds them at the Arena Theatre in Houston, TX. On Saturday their tour stops at the Choctaw Casino in Grant, OK.


CHARMIAN CARR an American actress and singer best known for her role as Liesl, the eldest Von Trapp daughter in the film version of The Sound of Music died Saturday, September 17, 2016 at a private care facility in Woodland Hills, Calif. from a rare form of dementia. She was 73.

In a Zanesville, Ohio Times Reporter article published November 9, 1964, Carr related the story behind the tryout as follows:

I was going to college and getting extra spending money by modeling in fashion shows in one of the stores. One of the girls who modeled with me knew that Robert Wise, producer-director of The Sound of Music had been conducting a four-month search for someone to play the part of 16-year-old Liesl. My friend, without my knowing it, sent in my picture and explained in a note that I sang and danced. I received a call from Mr. Wise to come for a tryout. It took me completely by surprise.

She won the role of Liesl over Geraldine Chaplin, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Lesley Ann Warren and Sharon Tate.

Carr appeared in Evening Primrose, a one-hour musical written by Stephen Sondheim, which aired on ABC Stage 67 in 1966. Carr worked with Van Johnson on a pilot for a television program, Take Her, She's Mine.

She owned and operated an interior design firm, Charmian Carr Designs, in Encino, California. Her clients included Ernest Lehman, screenwriter for The Sound of Music; Michael Jackson, who hired her because he was a fan of the film; and other cast members from the film. She also wrote two books. She reunited with many of her co-stars from The Sound of Music on The Oprah Winfrey Show in October 2010 to celebrate the film's 45th anniversary. In 2014, Carr recorded Edelweiss with the great-grandchildren of the von Trapps on the album Dream a Little Dream by The von Trapps and Pink Martini.

Ted Chapin, president of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization spoke for himself and "everyone at Rodgers & Hammerstein" when he issued the following statement:

"We mourn the passing of Charmian Carr. It's always sad when a member of the family passes away - and in the case of the 'family' of the movie The Sound of Music, it's especially sad when it is the first of the group to go. Charmian Carr was Liesl to the world, and she maintained her position as the oldest 'child' in real life - guiding, cheering, supporting and generally being there for the rest of her 'sisters' and 'brothers.' She was a great ambassador, and we had so many good times together celebrating the movie that meant so much to so many through the years. I will also remember arranging for her to be a special guest at New York's Symphony Space's Wall to Wall Stephen Sondheim, reminding that audience that Charmy did, in fact, star opposite Anthony Perkins in the 1967 Sondheim TV musical Evening Primrose.

"All of us at Rodgers and Hammerstein will miss her. The world will have a little less sparkle without our friend Charmian."

Divorced, she is survived by two daughters Jennifer Svensson of Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Emily Watkins of San Diego; two sisters; a half-brother; a stepbrother; and four grandchildren.

JOHN D. LOUDERMILK One of the most productive Nashville songwriters in the 1960s, died from a heart attack on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at his home in Christiana, Tenn. He was 82.

His best-known songs include Indian Reservation, a 1971 #1 hit for Paul Revere & the Raiders; Tobacco Road, a 1964 top 20 hit for The Nashville Teens; This Little Bird, a UK #6 for Marianne Faithfull in 1965, and Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye, a top ten hit in 1967 for The Casinos and also a #1 country hit for Eddy Arnold the following year.

Neil Portnow President/CEO of The Recording Academy issued the following statement: "John D. Loudermilk had an uncanny ability to create songs that crossed genres and to draw fans in with captivating stories. Tobacco Road, one of his best-known tunes, has been covered nearly 200 times and remains a testament to John’s ability to connect with audiences through authentic lyrics. John came from humble beginnings. The first instrument he learned to play was a ukulele made from a cigar box, but it proved to be the start of a career that included a Grammy win and many hits. He is a reminder that talent can come from anywhere and music must be nurtured. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and fans."

His first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by three sons from his first marriage, Mike, Rick and John, and by his wife, the former Susan Chollette.

STANLEY "BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO" DURAL, JR the accordionist and ambassador of zydeco music who performed under the stage name Buckwheat Zydeco, died Saturday, September 24, 2016 at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana from lung cancer. He was 68.

Buckwheat Zydeco performed with a large number of famous musicians from Eric Clapton (with whom he also recorded) and U2 to the Boston Pops. The band performed at the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics to a worldwide audience of three billion people. Buckwheat performed for President Clinton twice, celebrating both of his inaugurations.

Neil Portnow President/CEO of The Recording Academy issed the following statement: "Buckwheat Zydeco embodied a genre and represented a community with his signature playing style that brought distinctly creole zydeco music to fans across the globe. Buckwheat played both for and with legends, performing at both Clinton inaugurations, touring with Eric Clapton, and collaborating with a seemingly endless list of artists over his 40-plus year career. He won an Emmy for his work in TV and a Grammy in the genre he helped define. The world lost a music heavyweight today. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends."

A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF PHYLLIS CURTAIN will take place Saturday, October 1, with reception to follow at the Tsai Performance Center in Boston, MA.

BU College of Fine Arts and the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Cente celebrates the remarkable life and legacy of Dean Emerita Phyllis Curtin. Through music, words, and imagery, the event will reflect on the work, reach, and spirit of an exquisite artist, a gifted teacher, and a masterful leader. Open to all, this special evening will bring together members of the BU community including alumni, students, colleagues, friends, and family to honor Phyllis Curtin's legacy.

Curtin was an American classical soprano who had an active career in operas and concerts from the early 1950s through the 1980s. In 1953 Curtin joined the roster of principal sopranos at the New York City Opera at the invitation of Joseph Rosenstock. She remained committed to the NYCO through 1960. Among her numerous roles were two in operas by Carlisle Floyd with the NYCO that she had previously created in their world premieres: the title role in Susannah (which she sang at Florida State University for its 1955 world premiere) and Catherine Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights (which she sang at the Santa Fe Opera for its 1958 premiere).

She sang Fiordiligi for the NBC Television Opera Theatre in 1960. She sang several roles at the Vienna State Opera from 1960–61, including Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, Fiordiligi, Salome, and Violetta. In 1961 she made her debuts at the Oper Frankfurt, the Staatsoper Stuttgart, and the Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi. She made her first appearance at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1965 and her debut at the Seattle Opera in 1969. In the same year she sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne.

Curtin made her Metropolitan Opera debut on November 4, 1961 and returned frequently as a guest artist. Her last Met appearance was on July 6, 1973 in the title role of Giacomo Puccini's Tosca with Enrico Di Giuseppe as Cavaradossi and Ignace Strasfogel conducting. Curtin taught at Yale University and was Artistic Advisor at the Opera Institute at the Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Music, where she held a Deanship of the Schools for the Arts, as well as Artist-in-Residence at the Tanglewood Music Center. She was named Boston University's Dean Emerita, College of Fine Arts in 1991.

Phyllis Curtin died on June 5, 2016. She was 94 and had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and circulatory ailments.

Next Column: October 2, 2016
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Laura Deni

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