A Masterworks Broadway Christmas

As a special thank you to its fans, Masterworks Broadway will be giving away free downloadable Christmas samplers this holiday season. A Masterworks Broadway Christmas includes 4 holiday-themed tracks:

“Christmas in Hampton Court” (Rex)
“A New Deal For Christmas” (Annie)
“Christmas Child” (Irma la Douce)
“Be A Santa” (Subways Are For Sleeping)

As an added bonus, “Be A Santa”, performed by Percy Faith and his Orchestra, is not available anywhere but this sampler.

All that is required to receive this special gift is to have signed up for the Masterworks Broadway newsletter before November 29. Fans who are currently on the mailing list are already set to receive their sampler via email.

We all need a little Christmas, and Masterworks Broadway is delighted to help spread some holiday cheer!

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival Announces 2010 Season!

Just in time to celebrate Shakespeare’s 446th birthday on April 23, founding Artistic Director Terrence O’Brien has announced the line up for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s 2010 season. Considered to be one of the best nights out at the most reasonable price, the Festival offers something for everyone from high comedy and romance to betrayal, battlefields; iambic pentameter and hip-hop rap.

This season will take the audience to the Trojan War where love turns to infidelity in the bedroom and on the battlefield. A cast of celebrated Greek heroes bring intrinsic values of honor and love into question with Troilus and Cressida. From classic war time battlefields to the battle of the sexes, the question ‘who’s taming whom?’ will be answered with classic wit in the comedy, The Taming of the Shrew. And what would a season at HVSF be without an all out irreverent takes on Shakespeare, in this case The Bomb-itty of Errors, a comic hip-hop rapping romp through The Comedy of Errors?

The Bomb-itty of Errors, directed by Associate Artistic Director Christopher Edwards, opens the season on Saturday June 19 (previews begin Tuesday, June 15). The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Kurt Rhoads opens on Saturday, June 26 (previews begin Friday, June 18). Terrence O’Brien, Founding Artistic Director of the Festival, directs Troilus and Cressida which opens Saturday, July 3 (previews begin June 16).

Performances begin at 7pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (grounds open for picnicking at 5pm); 8pm Friday and Saturday (grounds open at 6pm); and 6pm on Sundays (grounds open at 4pm).

“I am very excited about this season. It’s a great mix of plays and a real exploration of men, their views on women and the world. It should offer some interesting dialogue with our audience. As I work on Troilus and Cressida I am struck by the fact that the play doesn’t really seem to fit into any true Shakespeare “categories”. It seems to defy what we’ve come to expect – taking on somewhat of an experimental form said Mr. O’Brien. “I am also very happy to welcome Festival veterans Chris Edwards and Kurt Rhodes back this season as directors of our two other shows.

The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival has inspired and delighted audiences with its vigorously original interpretations of the great works of William Shakespeare for twenty-three seasons to much critical acclaim from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, The Poughkeepsie Journal, The Journal News and numerous other national and regional publications. Founding Artistic Director Terrence O’Brien has maintained a commitment to making the timeless plays accessible to all audiences, relieving the burden of heavy language and over-dramatization that so many equate with Shakespeare. “We want the audience to feel the same way about the plays as we do,” explained O’Brien. “The stories are timeless and we work to eliminate the affectation so often associated with Shakespeare. Our productions are lively, fast-paced and reflect our own excitement. You know it’s working,” he continued, “when you not only have people return season after season but every year they bring more new friends.”

The region’s only professional resident Shakespeare Company, HVSF, makes its home under an open-air tent theater perched high up on the banks of the Hudson River on the grounds of the historic 19th Century Boscobel estate in Garrison, New York. Using the dramatic views of the Hudson Highlands and the sweeping vistas from the elegant lawns of Boscobel as near-perfect stage scenery, the critically acclaimed Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival presents unparalleled productions with the perfect marriage of theater and nature. Audience members are invited to arrive two hours early in order to enjoy a picnic meal – with one of the most spectacular al fresco views – on the grounds of the estate.

From a personal perspective, I was introduced to the HVSF last year as I had the opportunity to sit in at the rehearsal studio and also ventured up to Garrison-Cold Spring to take in their season, which was only enhanced by the jaw dropping view of the Hudson Valley (God has a way with scenic design). For those who find Shakespeare lofty and elitist, I have to ask “What gives?” (Reader, you’d be surprised). Go see a Shakespeare play. If you’re in the Hudson Valley this summer, go up to Boscobel. If not, find out what’s playing nearest you. Shakespeare is meant to be seen, not read and you’d be amazed how one can be thoroughly transported by his writing 400 years removed.

Ticket prices for all performances are $29-$47. Tickets are available through the HVSF Box Office, which opens May 3: 845-265-9575 and are now available online. Discounts are available on most nights for groups, students, senior citizens and children 12 and under. The Festival offers several special packages, including a tour of the Boscobel mansion and Exhibition Gallery plus tickets. In addition discounts at local hotels and restaurants are also available. For packages and information visit the Festival website, www.hvshakespeare.org and are available through the box office. On-line sales are currently available. The Box Office opens on May 3.

For more information about the 2010 Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, as well as information about their ongoing Education and Community Outreach Programs, contact the Festival at (845) 265-7858.

Mitzi Gaynor to Make NY Debut in May

It seems unbelievable that Mitzi Gaynor has never played the Big Apple, but finally after decades of television, film and touring, the South Pacific star is excited to make her New York performance debut. The star will bring her one woman show Razzle Dazzle: My Life Behind the Sequins in an intimate setting like Feinstein’s to get up close and personal with her fans. In her show, Ms. Gaynor will bring her incomparable brand of showmanship to the stage in a glittering multimedia one woman tour-de-force of music and memories from her show-stopping life and career.

Gaynor says “over the years I’d been asked to play New York on numerous occasions but the stars never quite aligned. That’s why I was thrilled when Michael Feinstein asked me to bring my show to his club and said I could have the Regency’s Ballroom so I’d have more room to play. I really can’t wait to be there. There’s no city in the world like New York.”

It’s interesting that Mitzi has never played Broadway, yet has done so many great roles in tour and in stock. I, for one, think she would have been a fantastic replacement in the original production of Mame (among many other shows). But it’s better late than never. I’m going to be with there with a certain Elsa-in-crime. And whenever Miss Mitzi is onstage, it’s bound to be an event.

Gaynor will play five engagements at Feinstein’s at the Regency from May 18 to May 22. Tickets are available online or via phone (212-339-4095) and mention the code MG101 for complimentary presale seating upgrade.

Some Interesting Off-Off Broadway Statistics

This information came across my desk this evening and I felt compelled to share. I don’t venture Off-Off Broadway as much as I would like, but I do feel I need to pay more attention to what’s happening in theatre outside of the Broadway realm. Here goes…

The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation presents the findings of “Demographic Study of Off-Off-Broadway Practitioners”. The study, conducted during September 2007 through February 2009, recorded and analyzed the specific population characteristics of the artists working in New York’s Off-Off-Broadway theatre sector.

Some of the highlights include:
• 85% of the OOB population holds a college degree. This is 58% higher than the national average.
• 86% voted in the 2004 presidential election. This is 22% higher than the national average of 64%.
• 68% of respondents are age 21-40
• 53% of respondents are female
• Income level of Off-Off-Broadway artists is near the national average, and slightly below the NY state average
• 91% of respondents live in New York City

“These reports help to shed light on the Off-Off-Broadway community and the significant contributions it makes to New York City’s cultural environment,” says Shay Gines, Executive Director, New York Innovative Theatre Foundation. “The demographics report in particular looks at the individual artists that make up the community and shows them to be highly educated voters who are involved in civic and community activities.

It provides measured data to back up funding requests in this sector. It allows us to identify and leverage our strengths when negotiating for resources or advocating for the needs of this important arts community. It is proof that an investment in the Off-Off-Broadway community is an investment in NYC.”

Ben Hodges, Editor in Chief, Theatre World publications comments, “As an archivist and a theatre historian, I understand the importance of this kind of study. It is immediately useful as well as historically significant. It simultaneously elucidates the value of the Off-Off-Broadway community while creating an historical record for posterity of Off-Off-Broadway.“

"Ragtime" to present Monthly Talkbacks starting 12/15

Ragtime is pleased to announce a new monthly “Talkback Tuesday” series, Ragtime Talk Time, beginning Tuesday, December 15th. Ragtime Talk Time is free to anyone attending Tuesday evening performances when the talkbacks are scheduled.

The debut installment of Ragtime Talk Time will feature Tony Award® winning songwriting team Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty discussing their process of creating the score for Ragtime, which garnered them Broadway’s triple crown – the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, as well as their celebrated 26-year collaboration as one of the foremost theatrical songwriting teams of their generation.

Based on E.L. Doctorow’s epic acclaimed novel, Ragtime features direction and choreography by Marcia Milgrom Dodge, a majestic 28-piece orchestra led by musical director James Moore, and features a company of 40, starring Ron Bohmer (Father), Quentin Earl Darrington (Coalhouse Walker Jr.), Christiane Noll (Mother), Robert Petkoff (Tateh), Bobby Steggert (Mother’s Younger Brother), Stephanie Umoh (Sarah), with Christopher Cox (The Little Boy), Sarah Rosenthal (The Little Girl), Mark Aldrich (Willie Conklin), Aaron Galligan-Stierle (Henry Ford), Jonathan Hammond (Harry Houdini), Dan Manning (Grandfather), Michael X. Martin (J.P. Morgan), Mike McGowan (Stanford White), Donna Migliaccio (Emma Goldman), Josh Walden (Harry K. Thaw), Savannah Wise (Evelyn Nesbit), Eric Jordan Young (Booker T. Washington).

Ragtime is produced by Kevin McCollum, Roy Furman, Scott Delman, Roger Berlind, Max Cooper, Tom Kirdahy/Devlin Elliott, Jeffrey A. Sine, Stephanie McClelland, Roy Miller, LAMS Productions, Jana Robbins, Sharon Karmazin, Eric Falkenstein/Morris Berchard, Wendy Federman, Jamie deRoy, Sheila Steinberg, Lauren Stevens, Independent Presenters Network, Held-Haffner Productions, HRH Foundation and Emanuel Azenberg in association with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

At the dawn of the century, everything is changing…and anything is possible. Based on E.L. Doctorow’s celebrated epic novel and set in the volatile melting pot of turn-of-the-century New York, Ragtime weaves together three distinctly American tales — that of a stifled upper-class wife, a determined Jewish immigrant and a daring young Harlem musician — united by their courage, compassion and belief in the promise of the future. Their personal journeys come alive as historic figures offer guidance and diversion – among them escape artist Harry Houdini, auto tycoon Henry Ford, educator Booker T. Washington and infamous entertainer Evelyn Nesbit. Together, their stories celebrate the struggle between tradition and independence all in pursuit of the American dream.

The celebrated production team includes scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Santo Loquasto, lighting design by Donald Holder, sound design by Acme Sound Partners, hair and wig design by Edward J. Wilson and orchestrations by William David Brohn.

RAGTIME tickets prices are $46.50, $86.50 and $126.50 (including $1.50 facility fee) and available by calling Ticketmaster at 212-307-4100 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com.

31 Days of Oscar: 2010 Edition

It’s an annual TV event that I take great pleasure in every winter, and I’m not even talking the Oscar ceremony. Every year to celebrate the annual Academy Awards, Turner Classic Movies has its “31 Days of Oscar.” Here’s some further info direct from TCM:

The 2010 edition of the month-long event will feature 360 Academy Award®-nominated and winning movies, all presented uncut and commercial-free. The month’s schedule is designed so that each movie is linked to the next movie in the lineup through a shared actor or actress.

“31 Days of Oscar” will begin Monday, Feb. 1, at 6 a.m. (ET) with Kevin Bacon and James Coco in Only When I Laugh (1981). Coco and Harry Andrews will then be featured in Man of La Mancha (1972) at 8:15 a.m., followed by Andrews in 55 Days at Peking (1963) at 10:30 a.m. The festivities will continue linking from movie to movie, one star at a time, throughout the month. The final movie in the festival, Diner (1982), starring Bacon, will bring the entire month full circle.

TCM host Robert Osborne, who is also the official biographer of the Academy Awards and the Academy’s red carpet greeter, will host 31 DAYS OF OSCAR, which will mark its 16th year on Turner Classic Movies. The 2010 edition will feature 22 films making their debut on TCM, including Gladiator (2000), Titanic (1997), Mrs. Brown (1997), A Room with a View (1985), Trading Places (1983), Frances (1982), Only When I Laugh (1981), Alien (1979), Julia (1977), Serpico (1973), Lady Sings the Blues (1972), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), An American Dream (1966), Morituri (1965), Summertime (1955), Call Me Madam (1953), The Snake Pit (1948), Moonrise (1948), Kiss of Death (1947), Kitty (1945), Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938) and One Hour with You (1932).

The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be presented live on Sunday, March 7, 2010, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Click here for the complete schedule.

Collegiate Chorale presents "A Jubilant Song" Gala on 12/1

The Collegiate Chorale, led by Maestro James Bagwell in his inaugural concert as The Chorale’s newly appointed Music Director, presents A JUBILANT SONG, a celebration of the organization’s remarkable history of exceptional conductors, noteworthy commissions and premieres, and multi-faceted choral programming on December 1, 2009 at 7pm at Carnegie Hall. Tickets are $25-$125 and are available through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, or online at www.carnegiehall.org. For more information, visit www.collegiatechorale.org.

As the new Music Director, Mr. Bagwell will give tribute to his predecessors and usher in a new era of The Collegiate Chorale. Tony® Award winner Roger Rees will host the evening. A JUBILANT SONG will feature Salvatore Licitra, tenor (who debuted at Carnegie Hall with The Collegiate Chorale in 2003 in Verdi’s La forza del destino); Jenny Lin, piano; Erin Morley, soprano; Emily Pulley, soprano; Anita Johnson, soprano; Krysty Swann, mizzo-soprano; Vale Rideout, tenor; Robert Mack, tenor; Daniel Mobbs, bass-baritone; Kalif Omari Jones, boy soprano; and the American Symphony Orchestra. A benefit dinner with Mr. Bagwell and the artists at Carnegie Hall’s Rohatyn Room will follow the concert.

“Before coming on board with The Chorale, one of the things which attracted me the most was its rich history of musical and programming diversity, going all the way back to the ideals of founder Robert Shaw and continuing steadily through the tenures of all subsequent Music Directors, particularly the late Robert Bass – and so I wanted this first concert under my baton to capture the essence of that diversity. We will perform works from Gabrieli to Dello Joio, and from Kopylov to Bernstein and Lerner. The programming will include Verdi and Meyerbeer arias, the beloved Beethoven Choral Fantasy, a couple of exquisite a cappella choral pieces, and musical theater excerpts from Bernstein and Lerner’s A White House Cantata. Many of the works we will perform hearken back to earlier concerts, including the Kopylov Heavenly Light, which was on The Chorale’s very first public program in 1942,” said James Bagwell, music director of The Collegiate Chorale.

The evening’s program follows:
Beethoven, Choral Fantasy; Gabrieli, In ecclesiis; Kopylov, Heavenly Light (part of the first public program presented by The Collegiate Chorale on March 8, 1942); Dello Joio, A Jubilant Song; Shaw/Parker, Set Down Servant; Meyerbeer, O Beau Pays, from Les Huguenots; selected arias from Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera; and La forza del destino; excerpts from Bernstein and Lerner’s A White House Cantata (which received its New York Premiere in March 2008 by The Collegiate Chorale); and the Brindisi from La Traviata.

The Collegiate Chorale, among New York’s foremost vocal ensembles, has added to the richness of the city’s cultural fabric for more than 65 years. Founded in 1941 by the legendary conductor Robert Shaw, The Chorale achieved national and international prominence under the leadership of Robert Bass. The Chorale has established a preeminent reputation for its interpretations of the traditional choral repertoire, vocal works by American composers, and rarely heard operas-in-concert, as well as commissions and premieres of new works by today’s most exciting creative artists. In the summer of 2009, The Chorale performed for the fourth season at Switzerland’s Verbier Music Festival. In July 2008, The Chorale toured with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem.

"Forbidden Broadway" on the Page

Forbidden Broadway is now in book form! And they are celebrating the release with several different parties:


In celebration of the release of Forbidden Broadway, the first portion of Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland on Monday, November 23rd will be dedicated to the Forbidden Broadway musical. This show-tunes themed open mic night will include performances by Gerard Alessandrini, Nora Mae Lyng, pianist David Caldwell, and more. Books will be available for purchase at the event, and Alessandrini will be signing copies.

Monday, November 23
9:30 PM
Jim Caruso’s Cast Party
315 West 44th Street
$10 Cover + $10 food/drink minimum


Merkin Concert Hall presents an evening with Gerard Alessandrini, the comic genius behind Forbidden Broadway. Hosted by Sean Hartley, the evening includes interviews with Mr. Alessandrini and performances by Forbidden Broadway veterans James Donegan, Donna English, Gina Kreiezmar, Nora Mae Lyng, Jeanne Montano, and Bill Selby along with surprise guests. The concert is followed by a book signing with Mr. Alessandrini. Books will be available for purchase at the event alongside the author signing.

Monday, December 7, 2009
8:00 PM
Broadway Close Up: Gerard Alessandrini, Creator of Forbidden Broadway
Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center
129 West 67th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam)
New York, NY 10023
Single tickets: $40
Tickets at 212 501 3330 or www.kaufman-center.org


Michael Portantiere hosts a book signing with Gerard Alessandrini, creator of Forbidden Broadway. Alessandrini and other cast members will also perform songs from the show. Afterward, the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions in a Q&A. Books will be available for purchase at the event. This event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday January 12, 2010
7:30 PM
Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Triangle
1972 Broadway
New York, NY 10023
Free & open to the public.

Forbidden Broadway: Behind the Mylar Curtain (Applause Theater and Cinema Books), written by Gerard Alessandrini with Michael Portantiere, is a hilarious, loving, no-holds-barred chronicle of the revue that has enthralled and delighted audiences in New York City, Los Angeles, London, and all around the world for three decades, spoofing shows from Les Misérables to Wicked and stars from Ethel Merman to Hugh Jackman. This journey through the creation and history of Forbidden Broadway offers a dazzling, whimsical inside glimpse at the evolution of the show in its 20 incarnations to date, with zany parodies, hilarious lyrics and behind-the-scenes stories—and there’s no better person to tell the tale than the creator/writer/director of Forbidden Broadway, Gerard Alessandrini.

Mr. Alessandrini is best known for creating, writing and directing all the editions of Forbidden Broadway and Forbidden Hollywood in New York, Los Angeles, London, and around the world. Also a member of the original cast of Forbidden Broadway, he is the recipient of an Obie Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, two Lucille Lortel Awards and six Drama Desk Awards for Forbidden Broadway as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Drama League. In 2006 he received a special Tony Award Honor for Excellence in Theater.

Step to the Rear: "How Now, Dow Jones" receives Fringe revival

With all the Fringe shows being presented, this one caught my eye as I consider Ken Mandelbaum’s Not Since Carrie a personal Bible. The release tells you all you need to know about the show, so I won’t go into detail. While the original production failed after six months, one song in particular managed to find a life of its own: the act one production number “Step to the Rear.” The song has been used in political rallies, Dodge car commercials and has even been adapted into the University of South Carolina Fight song (“The Fighting Gamecocks Lead the Way” – I kid you not). Here is star Tony Roberts (then still just Anthony) leading the cast in the song on the 1968 Tony Awards. Anyway, here is the press information on the revisal of this long neglected musical:

The new developmental production of How Now, Dow Jones (www.HowNowDowJones.com) starring Cristen Paige (Spelling Bee, The Visit, Cry-Baby), Colin Hanlon (Rent, I Love You Because) and Fred Berman (The Normal Heart, Room Service) will begin performances this Saturday at the Minetta Lane Theatre (18 Minetta Lane) as part of the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival. This new production will also restore an Elmer Bernstein-Carolyn Leigh cabaret favorite to the show: “Shakespeare Lied”.

In a statement, director Ben West (Old Acquaintance) said, “We are thrilled to be developing this new version of How Now, Dow Jones as part of the NY International Fringe Festival. Though it was written over forty years ago, Dow Jones remains wonderfully timely particularly given the current state of the economy and the sexual politics that dominate Washington and big business. As the project has developed, we have included previously unused lyrics by Ms. Leigh, previously unused dialogue by Mr. Shulman, and just recently restored ‘Shakespeare Lied’ to the score. With its extraordinary original material – reshaped in this new version – I look forward to returning Dow Jones to the American musical theatre canon.”

With book by Max Shulman, music by Academy Award winner Elmer Bernstein and lyrics by Tony Award nominee Carolyn Leigh, this new version – revised and directed by Ben West (Old Acquaintance) – plays the following dates and times:

*Saturday, August 15 at 12 Noon

*Monday, August 17 at 10:30 PM

*Tuesday, August 18 at 8 PM

*Thursday, August 20 at 8:15 PM

*Sunday, August 23 at 5:45 PM

How Now, Dow Jones is a zany 1968 musical comedy that follows Kate, the voice of Dow Jones, whose fiancé won’t marry her until the Dow Jones Averages hit 1,000! Bribery, adultery and neurotic Republicans abound in this madcap and timely tale set in the heart of Wall Street.

This new version will be performed without an intermission by a cast of eight. The Tony-nominated score will feature three new songs: “Don’t Let a Good Thing Get Away”, “Where You Are” and “Touch and Go”; all cut from the original Broadway production. Four major roles and the ensemble have been eliminated while five musical numbers have been cut. Additionally, the musical’s signature song “Step to the Rear” will take its own advice and close the show, replacing the previously existing finale.

The production also stars Shane Bland (Bombay Dreams), Jim Middleton (Goodspeed’s 1776), Dennis O’Bannion (White Christmas), Elon Rutberg (The Black Monk) and Cori Silberman (Movie Geek). Choreography is by Rommy Sandhu (Applause, Mary Poppins) with music direction and arrangements by Fran Minarik (Sessions, The J.A.P. Show).

Tickets are currently on-sale by visiting www.FringeNYC.org or calling 866-468-7619. Visit: www.HowNowDowJones.com. The Minetta Lane Theatre is located at 18 Minetta Lane in Greenwich Village, NYC.

The original Broadway production of How Now, Dow Jones opened on December 7, 1967 starring Tony Roberts, Marlyn Mason and Brenda Vaccaro. The David Merrick production was directed by George Abbott with choreography by Gillian Lynne (and an uncredited Michael Bennett). It played 220 performances and was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Musical, winning one for co-star Hiram Sherman. The musical, originally presented with a cast of over 40 actors, has been rarely performed since.