Friday, December 28, 2007

THE END OF ANOTHER YEAR APPROACHES


It's been awhile since I've written something here, but my days as retail manager have been long and hard. Christmas 2007 was a bit disappointing because my store did not beat last year's figures which I really wanted to accomplish. But we did beat a few store stores and sold 144 point and shoot digitals and twenty one digital *SLR'S. Maybe now, I will now have some time for writing. John Nugent and I are finishing songs for "The Runaway Heart" and have even done some work on "The Wild Swans"-- another story from the late great Hans Christian Andersen. Meanwhile Tim has completed the bass and guitar book for "The Traveling Companion" and we plan to go into the studio in January to record some tunes for "Seven" John goes for an interview today for Bed Bath and Beyond. All fingers and toes crossed and a special prayer to God today. With all that goes wrong in our lives, I was reminded by a scripture reading this morning of that grand old phrase "No crown without the cross" We must all bear it and get through it. More later.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A BIRTHDAY FOR BEETHOVEN AND SIR NOEL




Well, friends, today is the birthday of Ludwig Van Beethoven, the master composer. What an amazing life. Here was a master: a man who's genius came from a very troubled life. His strict father was unbelievable-- rousing the young master out of bed at night in order to practice. He dreamed of studying with Mozart at the age of sixteen only to have his mother become ill and that dream shattered with the death of Mozart, himself. The story of Beethoven's custody fight over his young nephew could make a fascinating musical all by itself. Today is also the birthday of Sir Noel Coward. And in American History this is also the anniversary of The Boston Tea Party. It also marked Lucille Ball's premiere on Broadway in 1960 with "Wildcat" ("Hey, Look Me Over!) And the final project of classic songwriter Jules Styne with "The Red Shoes". Interesting day. I am going to a family Christmas party today-- should be great fun. In honor of Sir Noel, here are some trivia facts about his work:
The character of Beverly Carlton in the 1939 Broadway play The Man Who Came to Dinner was based on Coward. He was portrayed by Reginald Gardiner in the 1942 film of the play.
In the sixth season of Frasier in an episode entitled "How to Bury a Millionaire, Niles Crane purchases a pen once owned by Coward.
In the third season of Frasier, Frasier gives a Christmas gift to his father, that he says "Noel Coward would love it, but it's not you."
Charles and Fiona (Dame Celia Molestrangler and Ageing juvenile Binkie Huckaback), characters in Round the Horne.
In the 1982 film Better Late Than Never, David Niven played Nick Cartland, an ageing cabaret artiste, whose showpiece is I've Been To A Marvellous Party.
Jon Wynne-Tyson's play Marvellous Party, about a middle-age reunion in Las Vegas of Coward and his collaborator Esmé Wynne-Tyson was broadcast by the BBC World Service in May 1994, starring Stanley Baxter as Coward and Dorothy Tutin as Wynne-Tyson.
In 1998 Twentieth-Century Blues: The Songs of Noel Coward was released. The album contains Coward's songs performed by Sting, Elton John, Pet Shop Boys, The Divine Comedy, Vic Reeves, Paul McCartney and others.
Coward appeared as a regular character in the fifth and sixth series of the BBC sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart.
Coward is the leading figure in Jeremy Kingston's comedy, Making Dickie Happy, also featuring Agatha Christie and Louis Mountbatten (the 'Dickie' of the title), first staged at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in London in September 2004'
The name of the men's clothing line 'Godspeed the Well-Dressed Man' came from the closing of one of Coward's letters.
Monty Python parodied Noel Coward in the Penis Song segment of their 1983 movie, The Meaning of Life and in their album Monty Python Sings as Penis Song (Not the Noel Coward Song).
The Doctor Who novel Mad Dogs and Englishmen features a version of Coward who has allied himself with alien poodles and gained time travel technology.
The opening to the song "The Lady Is a Tramp" includes the line "Alas, I missed the Beaux Arts Ball, and what is twice as sad I was never at a party where they honored Noel Ca-ad (Coward)".
Coward's play "Private Lives" is parodied in the off-Broadway musical revue "Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know" in a short scene entitled "Private Wives."
Marcy Kahan's Noel Coward quintet for BBC Radio 4 dramatises Coward as a detective in "Design For Murder" (2000), "A Bullet at Balmain's" (2003) and "Death at the Desert Inn" (2005), and as a spy in "Blithe Spy" (2002) and "Our Man In Jamaica" (2007). The cast of the quintet includes Malcolm Sinclair as Coward, Eleanor Bron as his secretary and Tam Williams as Cole Lesley.
'Two Old Queens' (2007), Perth, Western Australia, starring Edgar Metcalf as the Queen Mother and John Michael Swinbank as Coward. A conversation between the two at the unveiling of the statue of Coward in Poets' Corner.
In the (1969) classic English film Kes a man inquires about his interest in Coward's autobiography Present Indicative.
'The Actors Nightmare' contains a scene from 'Private Lives'

Sunday, December 09, 2007

MARGARET HAMILTON'S BIRTHDAY




The lyrics to that wonderful song "Young At Heart" has a line which reads "And if you should survive to one hundred and five. Think of all you'll derive, just by being alive". Well, Margaret Hamilton, aka, The Wicked Witch of The West in the MGM classic movie "The Wizard of Oz" may not have survived actually to the age of one hundred and five, but she most certainly has achieved that in all of our hearts. I adored her. I thought she had more class than many. Today would have been her One Hundred and fifth birthday! She is loved and endeared by so many fans still even today! Not even her roles as Cora, the Maxwell House housewife spokes lady surpass the fame she gained as a misunderstood green witch. And just think, the creator the Witch character, Mr. L. Frank Baum only created a minor character of her in the original book. Of course, take a look at how that witch character is endeared now. Margaret would have been happy. Lyman Frank Baum would be simply beside himself. This kind and good author was an absolute failure in his lifetime. He went totally bankrupt and lost just about everything- several times. He had never intended to write any more than one Oz story. Well so much for what we plan! Because the children of the world had different ideas. He was inundated with letters from them "More Oz!" And dear Margaret Hamilton who had wonderful memories but she very bad experiences while making the movie, never dreamed that she would forever be famous because of that ONE movie role oh so long ago. I wrote a musical back in the 1980's that depicted this entire scene. I think Margaret and L. Frank Baum would be oh so happy to see that the Land Of Oz is as popular today as it was back then. Well, it rained like hell here over night and I go to work later. being a manager is certainly different than i expected it to be. Today my youthful employees are as independent as hell. They want things their way and are willing to walk away (in unison, if necessary) if they can't. Well, I must be smart. this is Christmas, the busiest season of all for retail. I must bide my time and not allow my own pride to act. I will get more with sugar than vinegar any day!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY MARTIN,WOODY ALLEN, BETTE MIDLER AND CYRIL RICHARD







Happy Birthday to Woody Allen who turns Seventy Two this day, Bette Midler who turns Sixty-two this day and to the memory of Mary Martin who was born on this date in 1913 (The same year as my dear mother) and the best captain hook of all time: Mr. Cyril Richard who was born on this date in 1897. Great performers all! Working a Christmas season in a mall again after twenty years is certainly interesting. It's amazing our store is either dead or crazy with customers. There does not seem to be a fine line between the two extremes. It turns out that the character name that is being used in the new Broadway show (the last Kander & Ebb) has a protagonist (the show business loving detective) with the last name of Cioffi. That name was the real last name of my aunt and godmother-- imagine that because Cioffi is a very uncommon italian last name. By the way take a listen to a particular song from that show called "I Miss the Music" which was written by John Kander (both music and lyrics) in loving tribute to his own late musical partner Fred Ebb. I promise you this: it will make you cry! This was a partnership of over forty years and this was the team that gave the world the Broadway "Cabaret" "Chicago" (among so many others) and a little ditty of a song called "New York, New York" Well have a great weekend!

Friday, November 30, 2007

THE STRIKE IS OVER AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARK TWAIN




Three cheers! The Broadway Strike is over! The longest strike in Broadway history is over--thank God. Broadway lost two million dollars a day. I am very happy that the two sides resolved all of their many differences. As a guy who writes musical theatre I support the unions 100%. Creativity can not be compromised -- no matter what. Today is also the birthday of the great Samuel Clemens-- otherwise known as "Mark Twain". Of course, this is a special birthday because of the discovery of the lost comedy play written by this amazing genius called "Is He Dead?" The premise is so wonderful: imagine that an artist fakes his own death in order to drive up the price and demand for his own art work and paintings. It just "smells funny" as dear Danny Simon used to say. I was amused this morning about that poor teacher in the Sudan who is being imprisoned for two weeks and being deported back to England because she allowed her students to name a classroom teddy bear "Mohamed" . Now if that isn't the silliest thing I have ever heard. After all, dear friends shouldn't the Arab children have known better even to ask her to do this? Lose a gifted teacher because of that? Silly! Mark Twain said it best when he said "I think God created man because he was disappointed in the monkey" Oh well, it kind of ranks right up there with that idiot who tried to open a bank account with a million dollar bill. The government has never MINTED a MILLION DOLLAR BILL. Oh well, man is certainly the folly some creature that Mr. twain always declared that he was. Today also marks the anniversary of the opening of the huge Rodgers and Hammerstein musical called "Pipe Dream" based on John Steinbeck's "Sweet Thursday. Maybe I'm crazy, but an R&H musical that takes place in a brothel is just not going to fly-- not then -- and certainly not now. And good news, my all time favorite composers: The Sherman Brothers who had a musical called "Busker Alley" that was all set to go to Broadway back in 1995 but was doomed by its producers and Tommy Tune "breaking his ankle" will play Broadway in 2008 starring my all time favorite star-- Mr. Jim Dale-- who of course played in "Barnum" and Walt Disney's "Pete's Dragon". Well more later!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

THE GRINCH WINS


YES! THE GRINCH HAS WON-- GOD BLESS HIM! The Grinches of Broadway actually decided NOT to appeal the Federal Judge's ruling. So now all the children of the world can go and see Patrrick Page as "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas". Isn't it nice to know that something heartwarming and classic actual WINS at the holiday season. So come on Broadway! Let's end this silly strike!

Friday, November 23, 2007




Yes, today is "Black Friday" the busiest day in retail-- and I am managing a store in the mall for the first time in twenty years. I vowed I would never again work in a mall and here I am-- oh well, the opportunities of life are strange indeed. You need to accept things that you don't expect! Today is also the 120th birthday of dear old Boris Karloff (born in 1887) and if coincidence isn't strange enough on this very day the Broadway production of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" re-opens on "the Great White Way" despite the strike that goes on after fourteen days-- ordered to do so by a federal judge because the production had indeed made a pivotal pre-strike agreement with the stagehands union. Keep your word, boys. Of course we know that this role was made famous by the good kind and wonderful Boris Karloff. Here is some things that you might not know about the old boy: In 1931, Boris Karloff took out insurance against premature aging from his fright make-up. #2: The 1931 Frankenstein 6-sheet movie poster, featuring Boris Karloff as the monster, is considered to be the most valuable movie poster in the world. There is only 1 copy of the poster known to exist.#3 Despite his great performances in many classic horror movies, there's reason to think he never took such roles seriously. He once said, "My wife is a woman of very great taste. That's why she's never seen any of my films." #4:In the 1940's, Karloff was frequently on the radio program "Information Please", which showed his incredible knowledge for facts and trivia, as well as his pleasant personality, something never seen in his films.
#5: Boris Karloff made numerous appearances on the CBS
television program Suspense. The episode titled "The Yellow Scarf" was broadcast June 7, 1949 and "A Night at an Inn" was broadcast April 26, 1949. They are not yet available commercially on DVD. There is a public film showing at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in September 2007 in Aberdeen, Maryland. #6: Karloff always credited film star Lon Chaney with giving him the best advice of his career, when the elder Chaney told the then-struggling Karloff to "find something that no one else can do, and then do it better than anyone else can do it, and you'll leave your mark." #7: Karloff was bow-legged, had a lisp and stuttered as a young boy. He conquered his stutter, but not his lisp, which is noticeable all through his career. Due to the years of difficult manual labor in Canada and the U.S. while trying to establish his acting career, he suffered back problems all of his later life. #8 Karloff had a very soft and warm voice. A line from the play "Sir Henry at Rawlinson End" by Viv Stanshall describes a character as being "Karloff soft spoken”. #9 Boris had one daughter, Sara Karloff, by his fifth wife (b.1938). #10: Beginning in 1940, Karloff dressed up as Santa Claus every Christmas to hand out presents to crippled children in a Baltimore hospital. That last fact sure did not suprise me-- but it just shows how great an actor he truly was. Happy shopping everyone!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL




Today of course is Thanksgiving Day and I am so grateful to God for his many blessings. I am grateful for my health, my amazing partner John, who has stuck it out with me for the last eight years. I am also grateful to my dear friend Tim Doran-- who this year at long last has found reading glasses he can use to play the piano at night or in a dark studio--Hurray! And I am very grateful to God for allowing me to find my newest writing partner John Nugent. John is an amazing guy. He has the same passion for Broadway theatre that I do, has a memory and knowledge of Broadway history that rivals an elephant's and holds the same dreams that I do. We are working on several Broadway musicals together. WE finished SEVEN and we are finishing up THE RUNAWAY HEART, based on the story of the girl in the news two years ago who dumped several bridegrooms in a short amount of time in her rural Georgia hometown, but we also have "LITTLE BIT OF BROADWAY",(with a most unique plot) "BROADWAY ANGELS" (which tells the tale of Dominican Sisters who win the lottery with heaven's help and buy a Broadway theatre, and "KNOCK KNOCK ON HEAVEN'S DOOR" which examines musically what might have happened when certain famous people of history rang the "doorbell" at the Pearly Gates. What might have been the reaction that theyu all received. And what might have been their arguments about not getting in-- at all or at first! John has a real sense of story too. Today is also the birthday of Hoagy Carmichael the composer of "Star Dust" and "Up A Lazy River" amoung many other tunes. Well, it's off to my sisters. "Black friday" in my new store is tomorrow. We open at 7:30 am-- Yikes!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CABARET, AND THE PASSING OF MR. WHIPPLE




Another icon has passed away. Dear Dick Wilson, television's "Mr. Whipple" passed away at age ninety-one. How many times did I laugh at this amazing comic genius. i was reminded that Dick Wilson was also the famous drunk on the "Bewitched" television series. Whenever his "drunk character" saw something magical that the Samantha character would do, he would throw away the drink he was enjoying and swear off alcohol . Too bad that couldn't have been a real motivator. Today is also the anniversary of Cabaret, The Musical.What a grand and wonderful show that had a very successful opening production in 1966 and then went on to two new revivals. I loved anything that Kander and Ebb wrote-- they were simply magic together. God love you Fred Ebb wherever you are! John Nugent and I continue to put musicals ideas around. We're composing a new one called "A Little Bit of Broadway" and just came up with a wonderful new idea called "Broadway Angels" -- in which dear old Dominican nuns win the lottery and become the angels to a new Broadway show-- but there are complications and help arrives from a most unexpected place. I was raised by Dominicans all throughout my school days, so it won't be hard to make this real and wonderful. We are also aiming for an ASCAP grant, but we need to work out some bugs before the next deadline. Christmas fast approaches and my "big little store "in the fashion Square Mall in Sherman Oaks is getting busier and the decorations are going up! Thanksgiving will be at my sister Annette's this year. Well, off to work.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO THE LION KING


Well, friends, today marks the 10th anniversary of "The Lion King" on Broadway, but sadly due to the strike (now in its fourth day) there will be no 10th anniversary performance tonight. How sad, that all of these Broadway producers could not negotiate with a union that makes these amazing productions possible anyway. I was a little surprised to discover that out of seventeen songs, Elton John and Tim Rice have only written nine, without others being written by Ed Mancia and Julie Taymor (the director) herself."The Lion Sleeps Tonight" which was in the movie version seems to be excluded from the official Broadway list of the score's songs. Well today is the anniversary in 1965 of the only Broadway musical to be penned by Sammy Cahn, the great lyricist and Sammy Fain (the amazing composer. It was called "Skyscraper" and starred Julie Harris and Peter Marshall (of "Hollywood Squares" fame) and also the late lovable Charles Nelson Reily. I guess the story of a female Walter Mitty just didn't wow anybody in the cynical mid 60's as it only played 242 performances. Neither composer nor lyricist attempted another Broadway show. Well, John Nugent wasn't having any luck getting a job so I hired him, myself and put him in the lab. He seems to be adapting well here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A SEARCH FOR A LITERARY AGENT


With strikes in Hollywood for the writers and strikes in New York City over Broadway, Tim Doran and I will begin a search for a literary agent for "The Traveling Companion" the musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story that we have written over the last two years. The music and lyrics are incredible and the libretto is now in very good shape. Perhaps now, during these strikes, we might have a chance to really pitch this to some otherwise unopen ears and minds. We recorded one additional song for this show called "It Must Be Destiny". In the meantime, John Nugent and I are working on several musicals together. "Seven" is now completed. This show is a great spoof that involves the Seven Deadly Sins, Lucifer, himself and the Seven Cardinal Virtues. We've recorded the first two songs "I Love Broadway" and "It's A Farce" both by an incredible voice by the name of Brian Martin. John and I are also now working on a second show called "The Runaway Heart" with three songs completed there and one song for the new Hans Christian Andersen musical called "The Wild Swans". John and I love musical theatre-- and even though this is my busiest time in retail, he and I found time last night to work again on "The Wild Swans". Well another busy day at work. It's amazing how many hours I have put into this job since I took over as manager of the Sherman Oaks store. But such is the life of retail. Well onward!. Today is also the anniversary of the first Lerner & Lowe collaboration in 1943: a forgettable little show with the unlikely title of "What's Up". Of course, it failed big time, but hey, even genius has to start somewhere

Thursday, November 08, 2007

JOB TRAINING AND DISCOVERING ANYONE CAN WHISTLE




Today I had to attend a seminar on sexual harassment for my company as a new manager for Ritz Camera. I never knew there were that many categories of this work problem.Beware kind friends-- you are personally liable for any mistakes you might make in this arena-- and believe it or not, you can actually go to jail in certain cases. On the way there, I got to listen to a CD recorded version of a concert version of "Anyone Can Whistle" written by Steven Sondheim-- his first solo musical. This is one strange Broadway musical story. The production lasted nine performances on Broadway. The reviews were worse than horrid: people in the audience actually yelled back at cast members still performing on stage as they stormed out of the theatre. Wow! Sondheim must have been a real trooper to come back from that little fiasco. But one thing for sure, some of the songs from this work are downright brilliant. I have always loved the title tune but "Everybody Says Don't" and "There Won't Be Trumpets" are equally amazing. Also on this day back in 1926 came the premiere of "Oh Kay" written by George & Ira Gershwin. It starred the amazing Gertrude Lawrence. It is of course the "Someone to watch Over Me" musical. So the challenge of being a manager for Ritz Camera goes on and we prepare for the store's planogram conversion-- not one of my favorite things to do, but oh well.

Monday, November 05, 2007

HAPPY 20TH ANNIVERSARY TO "INTO THE WOODS"


Twenty years ago tonight, a landmark Broadway musical opened. It was of course "Into The Woods" with the amazing songs "No One Is Alone" and "Agony". This show has an amazing twenty-six songs-- which I never realized numbered that many. So for those who have forgotten: here they are all again:\
Musical Numbers "Into The Woods"
Act I
Prologue: Into the Woods - Narrator & Company
Cinderella at the Grave - Cinderella & Cinderella's Mother
Hello, Little Girl - Wolf & Little Red Riding Hood
I Guess this Is Goodbye - Jack
Maybe They're Magic - Baker's Wife
Our Little World - Witch & Rapunzel (added during the Original London Production)
I Know Things Now - Little Red Riding Hood
A Very Nice Prince - Cinderella & The Baker's Wife
First Midnight - Company
Giants in the Sky - Jack
Agony - Cinderella's Prince & Rapunzel's Prince
It Takes Two - Baker & Baker's Wife
Stay with Me - Rapunzel & Witch
On the Steps of the Palace - Cinderella (with Jack & Little Red Riding Hood in 2002 Revival)
Ever After - Narrator, Witch, Florinda, Lucinda & Company

Act II
Prologue: So Happy - Narrator & Company
Agony (Reprise) - Cinderella's Prince & Rapunzel's Prince
Lament - Witch
Any Moment - Cinderella's Prince & Baker's Wife
Moments in the Woods - Baker's Wife
Your Fault - Jack, Baker, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood & Witch
Last Midnight - Witch
No More - Baker & Mysterious Man
No One Is Alone - Cinderella, Baker, Little Red Riding Hood & Jack
Finale: Children Will Listen - Witch & Company

In most productions of Into the Woods, including the original Broadway production, several parts are doubled. Cinderella's Prince and the Wolf, who share the characteristic of being unable to control their appetites, are played by the same actor.
Similarly, the Narrator and the Mysterious Man, who share the characteristic of commenting on the story while avoiding any personal involvement or responsibility, are played by the same actor. Granny and Cinderella's Mother, whose characters are both matriarchal characters in the story, are also typically played by the same person.

Stephen Holden writes that the themes of the show include parent-child relationships and the individuals responsibility to the community. The witch isn't just a scowling old hag but a key symbol of moral ambivalence. She is also the only character in the show who always tells the truth. James Lapine said that the most unpleasant person (the witch) would have the truest things to say and the "nicer" people would be less honest.

The show covers multiple themes: growing up, parents and children, accepting responsibility, morality, and finally, wish fulfillment and its consequences.

William A. Henry III wrote that the play's "basic insight... is at heart, most fairy tales are about the loving yet embattled relationship between parents and children. Almost everything that goes wrong — which is to say, almost everything that can — arises from a failure of parental or filial duty, despite the best intentions."The musical makes heavy use of syncopated speech. In many instances, the characters' lines are delivered with a fixed beat that follows natural speech rhythms, but is also purposely composed in eighth, sixteenth, and quarter note rhythms as part of a spoken song.
Like many Sondheim/Lapine productions, the songs contain thought-process narrative, where characters converse or think aloud.
The score is also notable in Sondheim's output because of its intricate reworking and development of small musical motifs.
In particular, the opening words, "I wish", are set to the interval of a rising major second and this small unit is both repeated and developed throughout the show, just as Lapine's book explores the consequences of self-interest and "wishing." Sondheim drew on parts of his troubled childhood when writing the show; in 1987, he told Time magazine that the "father uncomfortable with babies [was] his father, and [the] mother who regrets having had children [was] his mother."
WELL ANOTHER DAY MANAGING MY STORE-- BOY ARE THESE EMPLOYEES SPOILED BY PAST AND EASY GOING MANAGEMENT STYLES. STAY TUNED FOR MORE.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A MERMAID FINDS HER VOICE AGAIN




Well, tonight on Broadway, a mermaid finds her voice again as "The Little Mermaid" opens on Broadway tonight with all of the original songs from the animated amazing movie and about twelve new songs. Of course everyone should know the story originally written by dear Hans Christian Andersen:"a beautiful young mermaid named Ariel longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. But first, she'll have to defy her father — the king of the sea — escape the clutches of an evil sea witch and convince a prince that she's the girl with the perfect voice." The musical is based on both the Disney animated film (written and directed by John Musker & Ron Clements) and the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Amazingly enough (and this shows how much writers must adapt and not adopt Hans christian Andersen, the mermaid in the original story dies. Oh my! Tim Doran and I have gone through much rewriting of Hans Christian Andersen in the last two years with our own musical "The Traveling Companion".The Little Mermaid features songs penned by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman (God love you, Howard!) for the Disney film ("Part of Your World," "Under the Sea," "Kiss the Girl," among others) as well as 11 new tunes by Menken and Glenn Slater. Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife, Grey Gardens) wrote the book.
Song titles include "Fathoms Below," "Daughters of Triton," "The World Above," "Human Stuff," "I Want the Good Times Back," "Part of Your World," "Storms at Sea," "She's in Love," "Her Voice," "Under the Sea," "Sweet Child," "Poor Unfortunate Souls," "Positoovity," "Beyond My Wildest Dreams," "Les Poissons," "One Step Closer," "Kiss the Girl," "If Only," "The Contest" and "Finale Ultimo." Twenty songs in all. Today is also the 50th anniversary of the opening of "A Connecticut Yankee" by Rodgers and Hart. From that show we all received "Thou Swell" and "To Keep My Love Alive". Today is also the 47th birthday of the opening of Meredeth Wilson's "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" which features the songs "I'll Never Say No To You" and "Belly Up to The Bar, Boys", "I Ain't Down Yet" and "Beautiful People of Denver" My managership continues--wow what a challenge. It takes a lot of time, but I'm having fun too! Well, until next time!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A RECORDING SESSION


Last night we recorded one more song for "The Traveling Companion" called "It Must Be Destiny" sung by the characters of Princess Evermore and Prince Sterling in order to compete and follow the rules for The Richard Rodgers Academy of Fine Arts Musical competition. The contest's VERY specific rules require forty-five minutes of music and within that forty-five minutes of music there must be a minimum of eight consecutive songs as they appear in lyric form in the libretto. Tim and I were one song short for this requirement and beyond that we would be required to add the overture to come any where close to 45 continuous minutes. The recording got done with difficulty because the singers lacked some training, but certainly had the proper attitude and spirit. So I do thank Jenny and Eric. Robert (our engineer at Smooth Sounds Studios) was kind enough to knock off one hour of recording time cost--($40) what a sweet gesture! There is certainly an argument into the hiring of pro singers (and we certainly have before) But singers come at a minimum of $100 apiece and a more professional studio is at least $85 an hour plus gasoline costs, but "blue sky" ambition does not fund your checking account. We got a song recorded, got a $40 credit, and while it was not the very best result, the recording in my current budget crunch will satisfy the contest requirements. I had two others singers scheduled but they never showed because they were involved in a fender bender. But Jeremy and Natalie who was coming by pure surprise hit another car-- and well, fate and God had another plan. But the great singers have agreed to come back and Jeremy (who called me this morning early) wants to give ME $40 for "being at fault"-- that's what I call classy. Someone pro offers to sing for free and has a fender bender that's his fault. He tries to call but has a cell phone that goes straight to recording. Then he calls to apologize this morning and wants to give ME at least one hour of recording time because he has had a fender bender with minor injuries that was his fault. So we've agreed to another date. We also recorded the first two songs from "SEVEN"-- the musical romp that I've co-written with John Nugent. Brian Martin was brilliant and did both songs in ONE TAKE plus recorded some narration-- wow! Both songs sound great and Tim's accompaniment was right on the money for the type of situation the show called for. Thank you, Tim. Well, now I must get these contest materials together for a November 1st deadline. But if we can win this contest, Tim and I will have made it-- a fully subsidized production of the musical in NYC for about twenty shows and a cash prize. Not bad for something without an entry fee. Keep your fingers and toes crossed, friends. This is one beautiful show: Hans Christian Andersen would have loved it!

Monday, October 22, 2007


Well, today is a brief entry, but I just had to commemorate the birthday of one of my very favorite comedy stars from the "golden age" of comedy. On this day in 1903, JEROME HOWARD better known as good old CURLY was born. How many hours of pure laughter did this gentle giant provide to all of us. Oh how I laughed as a kid! He was portrayed brilliantly on a television movie by Michael Chicklas-- who I was privileged to meet once. Happy Birthday Curly-- I can only imagine that you are keeping the angels in constant laughter-- and God knows they need it after dealing and protecting the likes of us. My sympathy for all the fire victims in the Malibu area this morning. Much was destroyed and many lives were lost. May God be with you all! Another day in my new post as manager-- wow-- what a lot of work to do. Plano grams are not my favorite thing to accomplish

Sunday, October 21, 2007


So you think you're too old is a phrase that should be booted on it's ear. And the reason is this: Mr. Tony Martin, singer and entertainer seen here in a publicity photo from 1954 is going to star in a show at Feinstein's at Loew's in NYC at the amazing age of-- no, not 80-- not 85-- not even 90!-- guess again, you guys-- but fricking AMAZING 95 years old. He will sing and reminice about the grand old days of his career. Wow! It just goes to show you how true those amazing words of George Burns was: "Getting old is mind over matter-- if you really don't mind-- it really doesn't matter" Go for Tony. I remember you well-- especially one of all time favorite movies "Till The Clouds Roll By"-- the fictional accounting of composer Jerome Kern. It would have been my mom and dad's fifty-fifth wedding anniversary on October 19th. Imagine that. Wow! What great parents I had. My mother was my best friend. And my dad was the kindest, most honest and sweet men of all times. The 20th century befuddled him-- I guess just as much as the 21st century befuddles and frustrates me. Tim and I are going to enter the Richard Rodgers competition-- for "The Traveling Companion" We need forty-five minutes of music including eight songs-- thank God we recorded the overture! But it's deadline looms-- so wish us luck

Thursday, October 18, 2007

AMAZING WISDOM FROM GEORGE CARLIN




Dear George Carlin lost his dear wife of many years this week. The man who gave me my favorite saying "I want to know something-- why is it that the caterpillar does all the work and the butterfly gets all the publicity" gave an eulogy at her funeral that has absolutely made me cry this morning. It is perhaps the most beautiful and eloquent statement about living that I have ever read in my life of sixty years. Who would guess that a guy who has made me laugh for the last thirty-five years at least could be this poetic and this amazing. I suggest that you read it and take these words very much to heart because ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, life is far too short. It ticks away second by second and we all rush around taking it for granted. My mom and died both died very suddenly. My father was fifty-eight and was taken by a heart attack so quickly that the doctor claimed minutes later that he couldn't have saved him if had been on the operating table at that very moment-- with his heart open. My mom was killed in an automobile accident-- she simply never had a snowball's chance in hell. My mother was very best friend in the world and my dad was an amazing loving, giving super father whom the seventeen year old me at that time was just beginning to know and appreciate. So here are George Carlin's words at his wife's eulogy-- word for word-- nothing cut. Get a hanky ready, kids, you're gonna need one. These words are amazing. I may even put them to song.
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.
We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less.
We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it.
A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you
.Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there.Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
George Carlin

Sunday, October 14, 2007

MY FIRST DAY AS A MANAGER AND BROADWAY DATES TO REMEMBER




I assume my post as manager of the Ritz Camera store in Sherman Oaks this day. The store is located in the "Fashion Square" mall on Riverside Dreive in Sherman Oaks. Imagine that, I haven't worked in a mall in twenty years. This should be interesting! Of course the big stagehand strike looms over Broadway this week and guess what? They've released two classic Broadway soundtracks. The first is "By Jupiter" from the 1967 reprise production off Broadway. Ray Bolger did the title role in the original. And believe or not Groucho Marx in "The Mikado" -- boy is that special. Here are some other mazing things that happened in Broadway history today:
In 1930 The Gershwin Brothers, George and Ira, are at it again tonight with the opening of their new musical, Girl Crazy. The show provides an outlet for several unknown stars, both on stage and in the orchestra pit. Ethel Merman stops the show singing "I've Got Rhythm" with an incredible 16-beat hold on the "I." She is later reported as being able to "hold a note longer than Chase Manhattan." Ingenue Ginger Rogers was also in the cast, singing "Embraceable You." In the orchestra are unknown musicians Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Gene Krupa. The show will run more than 34 weeks, racking up 272 performances.
And in 1958 Pre-"Star Trek" William Shatner plays an American coping with the emotional issues of having an Asian girlfriend (France Nuyen) in Paul Osborn's The World of Suzie Wong, directed by Joshua Logan.

In 1961 Just like its forerunner, Guys and Dolls, a musical by the same team, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, opens tonight and triumphs with a story about life in the big city. This time, Abe Burrows and Frank Loesser look not at the lowlife underground, but at the high life and the goings on within a high-rise office building. The story follows a young man's progression from window washer to CEO of a major company in New York. Although Hugh Lambert is credited with choreographing the show, Bob Fosse is on the bill as having done the "musical staging". Robert Morse co-stars with Donna McKechnie and Rudy Vallee in this musical comedy satire, which got rave reviews and ran for more than 1,400 performances.
And finally in 1967 One of the largest theatrical empires in the world loses its patriarch as David Nederlander, who founded the Nederlander Organization in 1912, dies today. He founded the organization first as a small theatre in Detroit, Michigan. It grew to represent theatres, producers, and shows around the world. Today, the organization is responsible for housing such shows as Beauty & the Beast and Rent. Well, wish me well, today!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A BIG BROADWAY EVENT AND A FATIMA MEMORY




Broadway comes to television today as the very first currently running Broadway show is broadcast on MTV. The show is "Legally Blonde". Lawrence O Keefe (The Bat Boy) is the composer. Could this be the way to keep shows on Broadway that may be faltering in box office sales? Maybe. The show itself only opened in April of this year. But hey, if this is the way to keep musical theatre going on Broadway-- why not? The stagehand union's threatened strike won't happen this weekend, thank goodness, but still looms as a real Broadway show stopper. The only two MAJOR musical shows that would NOT be shut down completely should a strike be declared is MARY POPPINS at the New Amsterdam and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at the Hilton. Those shows are covered by separate contracts. This is my last day at the Studio City Ritz Camera store and I go on to manage the Sherman Oaks store on Sunday, October 14th. A big challenge, but with God's help, I will be successful. Today is also the 90th anniversary of the last appearance of the Blessed Mother at Fatima. "The Miracle of the Sun" happened on this day and hundreds of thousands witnessed it. The Mother of God is my strength, my pathway and light on the dark roads of life. She has rescued me more times than I can ever tell you. We Catholics don't "pray to Mary" instead of God. We ask the Mother of Jesus to intercede for us with God and her Son. It was the dear Mother of Our Savior who got His public life started with the Miracle of Cana. Who could deny their own Mother's request? Well, it isn't any different with Jesus. And so Dearest Mother of God watch over me always and forever!

Friday, October 12, 2007

CALL ME MADAM AND A SUPERSTAR PREMIERES




Well, today came the premiere of two great but amzingly different Broadway musicals. The first was Irving Berlin's "Call Me Madam" and the other was Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ, Superstar" which of course originated the phrase "What's the buzz?" "Superstar" got its backing by releasing a phonograph album of its soundtrack on RCA records prior to its Broadway production-- this was what obtained the financing to put on the show on Broadway in the first place! Ethel Merman played the lead in Madam and simply wowed the critics. One of them suggested that that the show actually be renamed "Call Me Merman". Ethel Merman was one amzing lady. The funny story was that RC Victor had the rights to record the original Broadway soundtrack, but Ethel was under contract to Decca Records who refused to allow her to participate in the Original cast recording. They Threatened a big law suit if she did. So Etherl (believe it or not) was replaced in the soundtrack recording by Dinah Shore and Etherl Merman released a one artist cast recoirding of Call Me Madam" on Decca Records in which she sang ALL of the score-- even those songs she never sang in the Broadway show! Wow! And you though legal issues were only interesting today! Of course those songs were:

Act I
Mrs. Sally Adams
The Hostess With the Mostes' on the Ball
Washington Square Dance
Lichtenburg
Can You Use Any Money Today?
Marrying For Love
The Ocarina
It's a Lovely Day Today
The Best Thing For You (Would Be Me)
Act II
Lichtenburg (Reprise)
Something To Dance About
Once Upon a Time Today
They Like Ike
You're Just in Love

The Best Thing For You (Would Be Me)
(Reprise)
It's a Lovely Day Today
(Reprise)
Mrs. Sally Adams (Reprise)
Finale

Saturday, October 06, 2007

MACK AND MABEL AND TOOT TOOT TOOTSIE


Today, my very favorite musical, "Mack and Mabel" written by the great Michael stewart (book) and the amazing Jerry Herman premiered today at the Majestic Theatre in New York City. It had received rave reviews in Los Angeles during previews there, but had succumbed on the Great white Way after only 65 performances. Tood sad an ending? Perhaps. Audiences could not tolerate unhappy endings in the mid 1970's. But bar none Jerry Herman's score was so wonderful. "I Won't Send Roses" is simply beautiful. And I love "Tap Your Troubles Away". I sincerely hope this amazing show finds a re-birth somewhere. Today al;so on this date Al Jolson starred in a little known musical called "Bombo"-- there were three great and amazing songs in this lottle known Broadway musical. One was "My mammy", the second was "April Showers" and the third:
TOOT TOOT TOOTSIE
written by the great Gus Kahn
Yesterday I heard a lover sigh"Goodbye, oh me, oh my"
Seven times he got aboard his train
And seven times he hurried back
To kiss his love again, and tell her.....
Toot, toot, Tootsie, goo'bye
Toot, toot, Tootsie, don't cry
The choo choo train that takes me
Away from you, no words can tell how sad it makes me
Kiss me, Tootsie, and then
Do it over again
Watch for the mail,
I'll never fail
If you don't get a letter then you'll know I'm in jail
Tut, tut, Tootsie, don't cry
Toot, toot, Tootsie, goo'bye!
When somebody says goodbye to me
I'm sad as I can be,
Not so with this loving Romeo
He seemed to take a lot of pleasure
Saying goodbye to his treasure.....
Toot, toot, Tootsie,goo'bye
Toot, toot, Tootsie, don't cry
The choo choo train that takes me
Away from you, no words can tell how sad it makes me
Kiss me, Tootsie, and then
Do it over again
Watch for the mail, I'll never fail
If you don't get a letter then you'll know I'm in jail
Tut, tut, Tootsie, don't cry
Toot, toot, Tootsie, goo'bye!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A BUSTER BIRTHDAY AND BEAVER TURNS FIFTY




Today is the birthday of a "Buster"-- Buster Keaton to be precise. What an amazing gifted man whom I discovered about halfway into my life when I was running old movies on sixteen milameter to help raise money for the Alhambra Public Library. He was a most amazing performer born on 1895 on Piqua, Kansas-- while his parents were employed doing a tent show with Harry Houdini. It was dear old Harry who gave Mr. keaton his stage name after a six month old Keaton fell down a flight of stairs. Houdini shouted out "What a buster!" And the name stuck. Today is also the fiftirth anniversary of the first eposode of "Leave it To Beaver" woth June, Ward, Wally, Eddie and of course-- The Beav. Boy, do I remember those classic episodes. Great old memories!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I BECOME A MANAGER


Put on a happy face, today I get my promotion and start as the manager of the Ritz Camera store in Sherman Oaks in the Westfield Mall. I haven't worked in a mall in twenty years-- and I thought I never would again, but we will see what happens here. There's a lot of challenges and I leaving a very busy store to do this, but I need to trust the Lord and allow Him to lead me to a new challenge. I am hoping that I can create some really exciting new things and give the store a new look. It will involve more hours, but again it's a wonderful opportunity-- so we will see what happens. My first training is this morning at 9:30am-- so everybody say a Little prayer for me-- please! The "Seven" libretto is finally finished and now John Nugent is writing the orchestration. And this Friday, we get the word on "The Traveling Companion and whether Tim and I can get a shot at pitching this to the Disney brass. Fingers crossed. Toes too!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GROUCHO


Today would have been the birthday of the greatest comedian this country has produced! Bar none-- no one has ever matched or beaten Groucho-- EVER! In tribute for his birthday today, here are some quotes that he made famous. Happy Birthday, Groucho, wherever you are!
Witty remarks by Groucho Marx
Note that several of these come from his films and although spoken by Groucho were written by the various films' screenwriters.

A man's only as old as the woman he feels.
A woman is an occasional pleasure but a cigar is always a smoke.
Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.
Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.
From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I
convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend on reading it.
Go, and never darken my
towels again.
I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.
I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book.
I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.
I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.
I remember the first time I had sex - I kept the receipt.
I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
In
Hollywood brides keep the bouquets and throw away the groom.
Marriage is a wonderful
institution, but who wants to live in an institution?
Marry me and I'll never look at another horse!
Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.
Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you.
One morning I shot an elephant in my
pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I don't know (often misquoted as "I'll never know.")
Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.
There is one way to find out if a man is honest; ask him! If he says yes you know he's crooked.
Those are my
principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.
Whoever named it
necking was a poor judge of anatomy.
Why, I'd horse-whip you if I had a horse.
Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
I thought my razor was dull, then I heard his speech.
Today is also the birthday of Bud Abbott-- who was the greatest straight man this country ever produced!
Happy Birthday, Mr. Dinklepuss (the character he played in "Jack In The Beanstalk") wherever you are. You are on "first" Now.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

MANHATTAN TRANSFER SOLD AND BACK TO WORK


Many years ago when I was in the agency business I represented an amazing novel by John Stith called "Manhattan Transfer". John is an amazing author and this book is a simply incredible adventure. For four and a half years : From 1992 through November 1996 I represented this book to the Hollywood community. The story is great: Imagine if you will that an alien world has created a Doomsday machine that is destroying every other world it encounters. Their many efforts to stop it or destroy it is simply fruitless. And they feel badly (as only aliens might feel badly) that they are responsible for the destruction of other worlds in the universe. They decide that they will visit each world in advance of the Doomsday device and take a piece of it (whole cities etc) and place that "souvenir" in a big galactic "zoo" on their own well developed planet. The aliens come to Manhattan, New York City one quiet Sunday morning and literally steal Manhattan Island and take it into their humongous space craft where they enclose it a giant glass dome, pumping water and air into it. No no one in NYC who is captured here will ever have to go to work. Nobody will ever have any bills to pay. Nobody will have traffic to fight over. But as any New Yorker might tell you, they couldn't stand NYC in a utopia state. People of New York City want it just the way it is-- warts and all! So the people of New York who are captured break into the alien mother ship and after a great battle with each other decide to work together with the aliens to find a way together to destroy the doomsday machine for all time to come. Wow! What a story! We pitched this novel to many studios and the option was finally picked up by (believe it or not) Dodi Fayed's company Allied Stars)-- yes, Princess Dianna's Dodi Fayed. Dodi's company had made FX 1 &2, Hook (with Dustin Hoffman) and The Scarlett Letter. Dodi's company also held the motion picture film and television rights to the character of Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie. The great author in the 1930's had willed all rights to the Sick Children's Hospital in London, but in 1984 had transferred those particular rights to very rich Dodi Fayed in exchange for a guaranteed payment by him to them of ten million dollars a year. This was guaranteed. They had to do nothing to earn this money. They had reasoned that they were in the business of getting and keeping children well and didn't have the means or the time to administer and tend to the business side of promoting James Barrie's famous property to the motion picture and television markets properly. Dodi had produced Hook to good if not spectacular results. At any rate. Dodi's company through Melissa Henning and Allied Stars had optioned the property for all of these years paying John Stith about twelve thousand dollars a year for the option to the property. The option expired and I was out of the agency business and ten years passed. I was informed yesterday that John Stith has sold the film rights for $100,000 dollars. So there you are: almost fifteen years for something to sell. Time can be our enemy sometimes and sometimes it can be just what we need when we need it. So patience is an amazing word. In other news, I go back to work day after a few days off and negotiate with Ritz about becoming manager of the Sherman Oaks store. I wonder how this will turn out? Well, I am simply going to put this into God's hands and trust him completely. He is the center of my life and hasn't done me wrong yet! John Nugent and i are sending "SEVEN" off tomorrow for an ASCAP sponsored contest.

Monday, September 24, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME




Today is my 60th birthday! Wow! What a great birthday this was. First my writing partner and best friend sponsored a visit to a big banquet at Charlie Brown's restaurant. There was food for the gods and the Holy Angels, themselves. Prior to that Tim had totally surprised me with a recording that he had produced and paid for one of the newest "Traveling Companion" songs entitled "Was There Any Room For Me? The singers he chose were absolutely perfect and his orchestration was such a thrill. I was so happy! What an amazing and incredible present! Then Sunday night I had a great party at The Robin Hood Restaurant in Sherman Oaks. Randy and Patty Ames were there and dear Greg Lastrapes and his wife Karissa and his two beautiful daughters: Scarlett & Piper. Great food! We even had a great singer. Then tonight my nephew and his new wife took me out to dinner and i heard from two great friends that I haven't heard from in ages. Jaime Silos and I had been very close friends and room mates when we both lived in Hacienda Heights. And John Stith was a great friend who was my client during my agency days. I even heard from all of my sisters! How grand! Very happy last two days! I ought to turn 60 more often! Ha!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICKEY ROONEY

EARLY MICKEY ROONEY SCENE


A VERY SHORT MICKEY ROONEY ACCEPTING THE GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD FROM JAYNE MANSFIELD -- MICKEY'S QUOTE WAS
"AM I STANDING IN A HOLE?"
Today is Mickey Rooney's 87th birthday! A true legend of Hollywood hits another milestone birthday! Happy Birthday Mickey! In other news, I am holding a party tomorrow in honor of my 60th birthday on Monday at the Robin Hood Pub in Sherman Oaks. Tim Doran, Greg Lastrapes, Randy and patty Ames and John Nugent are expected to attend. In the early afternoon Tim Doran is hosting a party in my honor at Charlie Brown's restaurant in Montebello. I am very honored and excited about that! The Traveling Companion script is ready to go to Disney-- Tim and I are very excited! Casting continues for "Seven" and john and I are planning a new bizarre ending for it. Could be great fun!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

FAY WRAY'S 100TH BIRTHDAY AND A BIRTHDAY FOR ROBERT BENCHLEY

"The Reluctant Dragon" released in 1941 was the only motion picture to feature Walt Disney himself. In it, the great Robert Benchley is given a tour of the then new Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. What a hoot!


Robert Benchley at an NBC radio broadcast in 1940. Robert was the father of famous children's writer Nathaniel Benchley and the grandfather of Peter Benchley, the author of JAWS.

Perhaps only a true Hollywood fan like I am would ever enter a blog entry like this but I am that Hollywood affectionado of all time. Today would have been the 100th birthday of a true Hollywood legend: Miss Fay Wray: the girl who answered the question: What could you possibly give a four hundred pound gorilla that he'd appreciate. Who doesn't remember King Kong's FAMOUS climb of the Empire State Building with the character of Jean Darrow clutched in his mighty hands? It was the role of a lifetime-- "one for the angels-- as I like to say. Fay was going to play a cameo in the latest version of King Kong released just a few years ago, but she died in her sleep the night before she was going to film her scene. In honor of her demise, the lights of the Empire State Building were extinguished for fifteen minutes in her honor. Fay probably did more promotion of that New York landmark that anything else in the world. It is also the birthday of the great humorist and comedian, Robert Benchley. Benchley was simply an amazing guy: a great writer , humorist and one hell of a funny actor. Even Walt Disney knew this when he hired Robert to star in "The Reluctant Dragon" --one of my all time favorite Disney films. Ward Kimball, Pinto Colvig, Clarence Nash (the voice of Donald Duck) and even the very young Alan Ladd star in this picture. Casting efforts continue for Seven. John and I are receiving some incredible resumes from some really talented young people: some with singing ranges of three and four octaves-- the Internet is where we receive most of these replies and their singing voice is right there to hear. I also entered for myself and Tim Doran The Edward Kleban Award Contest under the librettist category. They have a lyric contest as well, but you can only win in one category-- so with time constraints, I felt it was better to focus where there might be less competition. Many more people attempt to write lyrics then attempt the book of a Broadway type musical. My 60th birthday approaches quickly-- it does seem very strange. Well more later!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A NEW MUSICAL : LOOKING FOR SINGERS




Today the ad goes out formally in Backstage West for the upcoming musical recording of the new musical I am writing with John Nugent called "Seven" -- a delightful and fun musical romp and spoof about the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Cardinal virtues. We have already received about thirty two responses from the Internet listing of the piece. The premise in this spoof is simple: imagine that the promised Millennium has arrived and the devil is about to be locked up by the Archangels (Gabriel, Michael, etc) for the promised one thousand years. Imagine also that the Seven Deadly Sins gather themselves in a panic meeting in the old Garden of Eden, under the mistaken assumption that one of them needs to take the devil's place in the world during these one thousand years. Who will be in charge? On the other side of the garden another meeting is taking place with the Seven Cardinal Virtues. They figure that if these "Deadlies" can't decide what to do, they may all scatter and do what they will in the now peaceful world. The solution is diversion. Divert these guys into a harmless place where they can't cause any trouble. That place is a "twilight zone" type fictional town called "Temptation, Ohio" Of course the Deadlies fall for this like a stack of dominoes. There are complications when the devil escapes his Millennium prison and a vice and a virtue fall in love. Great songs and a funny script. In case you don't know what the Seven Deadly Sins are: Listed in the same order used by both Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century AD, and later by Dante Alighieri in his epic poem The Divine Comedy, the seven deadly sins are as follows: Luxury (extravagance, later known as Lust), Gula (gluttony), Avaritia (better known as Greed), Acedia (Sloth), Ira -- more commonly known as anger), Invidia (Envy), and Superbia (Pride). Each of the seven deadly sins has an opposite among the corresponding seven cardinal virtues (sometimes also referred to as the contrary virtues). In parallel order to the sins they oppose, the seven holy virtues are chastity, abstinence, temperance, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. Some of the talent interested here is pretty amazing. So we will see what happens. The songs are pure fun such as Greed's song "You've Gotta Love Your Money Like A Dame" or the devil's lament at his millennium imprisonment called "It's Only A Thousand Years" In other great news THE TRAVELING COMPANION" is now completely re-written (with a much better libretto and a much defined score) Tim Doran and I are very proud of this latest effort. MARKETING BEGINS IMMEDIATELY!