Friday, November 30, 2007


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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."

Saturday, November 03, 2007


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!