Sunday, May 31, 2009


I am told that this remarkable fellow is known in literature as "Father Courage". Courage is an interesting word. Here's what great minds have said about it:

Helen Keller:
We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world.

Henry David Thoreau:
When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.
James Freeman Clarke:
Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave let him obey his conscience.
John Quincy Adams:
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.

Of course I love Thoreau's and John Quincy Adams the best. It took a lot of it to put on "A Little Bit of Broadway" I invested a lot, gained a lot of courage and wisdom, but I also lost a big one. In all the effort to invest in the show, including refreshment funds, tickets, nice programs, props etc. etc, I neglected to make the payment on my second car and on Tuesday, they came to re-possess it. In all of my life, I have NEVER had a car or anything else for that matter re-possessed. Now true, it was an older car, a 2003 Ford Focus-- yes, that same Ford Focus that was in that accident back in October of 2006 , hit by a lady without a license and insurance and the one that I invested so much repair money into, but it was a big, big devastating blow. I've barely left the house since. My credit is now shot. Now, it's true, by walking away I will save $257.00 a month in car payments and $49 a month in insurance, but it's still a big blow for me. Blame the show? Well, I almost did-- but it was ME-- not that show. I managed to pay for the playhouse rental, but let too many other expenses do me in. Well, lesson learned the hard way. I am trying to motivate myself into continuing, but its very hard. Guess, I'll be stuck in this apartment a long time unless I win the lottery. I can't even motivate myself to go to church today. But, maybe this is just another way to show me that "God Draws Straight With Crooked Lines". I need for Him to show me that just about now. A little sign from Him would sure help. I guess it will take some time and I really need to find a job, but I can't even get an interview and all applications are handled on line these days! Maybe an answer will come along. I sure the hell hope so.

Monday, May 25, 2009


This was the logo that we used for our extended production of "A Little Bit of Broadway at the Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica. There were many lessons learned here. One of the biggest we learned is that Santa Monica, California-- at least the folks walking up and down the Third Street Promenade are not theatre folk. One guy actually walked up to me and asked me what a musical was! Another wanted to know what "Broadway" was. People are there to shop, eat, go to a movie and talk incessantly on their cell phone. I am beginning to realize that the economy will be able to recover only because of the cell phone which (maybe some law I don't know about was passed) they can actually go outside and not be without one minute without talking incessantly to some one. Men, women, kids, grandmothers-- dear God, the regular telephone company will be going out of business because of the cell phone. But there is no one there or damn few at best that will or can be enticed to see any kind of play in a playhouse-- be it musical, be it drama, be it anything but a stand up comics show. And the comic show gets an audience of about seventeen or eighteen out of sixty-three seats. Only okay because these guys pay no rent to the theatre because early on they did lots of labor at the playhouse, itself when it first opened to make it all a reality in the first place. We did better in Hollywood-- with all of its congestion, traffic, street closures because of a Jimmy Kimmel special or a movie premiere or Even a Hollywood Blvd street fair. Santa Monica parking is an absolute breeze if you park in the PARKING GARAGES and not the PARKING LOTS. If you enter at 6pm, you can literally park all night (yes, the garages are open twenty-four hours) for a flat rate of $3. Al day is only $7.00 and there are LOTS of parking garages. As far as the production itself, we were proud of our efforts, the show got even better than before and we know how to rewrite it now. There were lots of people involved with the show who quit, broke their word and didn't keep commitments and promises. But for the most part we had a sterling cast. Amazing performers who gave their all. Good people like Brice Oates, Megan Cordero, Nick Sweet, Robert Wiener, Sarah Jane Marsh and especially dear Walt Hochbrucker. There were many expenses that just about did me in, but I'm happy I at least tried to get this mounted. I was simply amazed at the people who make a commitment and then quit when they can't have their own way. The human ego is simply amazing.In the play, I have a line that goes "Ego is for getting out of bed and performing IN bed --and everything else is bullshit!" Other lessons learned? Never let a con man into your life. Don't allow people to give you an ultimatum and you go folding like an accordion. And when some one makes a promise to you-- get it in writing. But okay-- maybe find a better venue or find a great way to market and promote it better. And a great big thank you to Adam Sowers who literally came in at the last minute and made the show so refreshing and wonderful. So there it is and I thank all of those who did attend. My family didn't for the most part and the one sister who did come left at half time because of a babysitter-- oh well-- guess you just can't rely on family for support anymore. That was very hurtful. My sisters simply want me to change to their way of thinking or they are going to simply walk away emotionally claiming they are far too busy with their own lives. How sad is that! Maybe when I'm gone they will regret this decision. What they don't realize is that if I were famous, rich, well-off, etc and "perfect", why the hell would I need them? I wouldn't call except maybe at Christmas-- and they would say "My brother is famous!" What would that get them?

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Our difficulties were great at the Hollywood Fight Club. We will exit here with the joy that we got through it despite censorship that threatened to close us down after Friday night to moving on up... to the Third Street Promenade and playing three additional performances at the really beautiful Promenade Playhouse at 1404 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. It's well lit and very cozy and three times the size of the Fight Club Theatre. It actually has two full bathrooms available to ether cast or crew or public. At the Fight Club, there was no public restrooms except way upstairs and down a dark hall. There really wasn't an actor's bathroom because that bathroom was loaded with props-- YES PROPS-- you had to literally crawl around furniture and stools and drops etc to somehow squeeze your poor butt on a toilet seat. But now we are moving on up to the Promenade Theatre which is two blocks from the Santa Monica pier. I came up with the idea of renting a theatre and dividing the cost equally among our ten cast members-- then we gave them tickets at $20- 22 each for them to sell or give away at a discount and keep the money. Immediate return on your $100.00 investment. And so, now, "A Little Bit of Broadway" will play in a very swanky place where hundreds of tourists will be enjoying the Memorial Day Weekend. I was really amused by the fact that the owner of the Fight Club Theatre who had threatened to close us down on last Friday night--if we did not cut our show to be less than two hours. Well we cut three scenes, three songs and a finale and made it.
Now with our move, we can add the stuff back in that we cut and we control the box office and the Refreshment Counter/ We will go down on Friday and put out banners and posters and try to attract the tourist public. We will not return to the Fight Club Theatre--it held a few blessings-- like our amazing cast but it also held more problems than you could ever imagine. Thank God for our lead Brice Oates--he's absolutely amazing. So id you're in the area we will play at "The Promenade" on Friday, May 22, 23rd (8pm) and Sunday, May 24th 7pm) Come on down! WE will restore some of our cuts!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Upon this little stage on Friday, May 8th arrived the premiere of our original musical "A Little Bit of Broadway". By its second performance the following day, it was finally good, but that opening night was a bit disastrous. Not exactly a train wreck, you understand, but "technical difficulties" over the sound made it pretty bad. We had recorded all the tracks from SONIC files and some were WAV files. Warning: you simply can not mix the two on one CD--it will not play. What seemed like a sure cancellation of the show was averted only by God Himself. Now to set this up properly, this theatre simply will NOT spend any money on itself except at its once a year improvement drive. We had two huge old speakers in which we were getting monaural sound out of at best. It crackled and hissed and spat if you raised the volume and from certain parts of the theatre, you simply could not hear the actors on stage and when you lowered it, the actors couldn't hear the music to sing with. So I knew that I had to take matters in my own hands. This theatre charges each actor $285.00 to be in show unless you "earn a membership" by being a stage manager once a year and an audition monitor six times in one year and a "house manager" six times in one year and attend a weekend cleanup, twice a year. After that you qualify to be in any play for free. Well that winds up (when you add up all the hours in those projects) being about 4 months of hard work in one calendar year. A big investment. However you are allowed to bring in as many industry comps as you want for free (instead of the usual two to three comps per actor) . This theatre makes big bucks whether or not an audience shows up at the door. Well, I knew by the morning of "opening night" that the sound was going to be a VERY big problem. I went out with a guy whom I had cast in the show, but ended up not being able to attend rehearsals. Now, here is a lesson to be learned by all. Because God indeed "draws straight with crooked lines"-- if I had simply fired this man because I got tired of hearing "I have to attend this gig, because I need the money!", the show would have simply been the entire train wreck that seemed coming. But something (the Dear Lord whispering in my ears) "Don't judge a man's inability to help you NOW, when he might be able to help you a LOT more later." Everyone in the cast was laughing at this man who wants to act and perform more than anything else in the world, had committed to a part, didn't have to pay the fee because he was replacing another actor who had (no money back if you quit a show) and yet was not able to show up for an entire nine days of rehearsals to earn some income. So I wrote him a nice note when anyone else would have sent a Dear John letter to and ladies and gentlemen reading this blog, Joey Vitale saved the day. First he tried to get the theatre owner to buy something to replace the sound with-- absolutely no go. When a guy is CHEAP-- dear God-- get out of the way! So I could close the show and have zero credibility for the future or do something. So Joey and I went shopping -- I knew I couldn't buy anything new. But again, the Good Lord came through and planted a word in my brain-- that word was "Pawn Shop". I can not even begin to remember the last time that I bought ANYTHING in a pawn shop. The first one on La Cienga had NOTHING. The second on Santa Monica Blvd had a great receiver for $160.00 plus tax. Now what I know about electronic gear you could not fill a thimble with. But then again, there was God-send Joey Vitale. He examined this device from top to bottom and sideways-- and when it would connect up to a woofer, but was okay for our purposes, we got it reduced to to $120.00 plus tax. Then dear Joey brought his own speakers from home and made a surround sound set up in that theatre that you simply had to hear to believe. Then he fixed the non operative DVD player in the sound booth. Another hidden blessing on its way. Okay, I thought, we are ALL SET. But be careful please of over confidence, because these actors save TWO and three quarters of another were simply not ready line wise. Then the CDS would not play on the CD player. The only solution was to play them on the DVD player-- (which you will recall Joey fixed as well) which was okay for what we recorded, but not for commercial tracks-- and of course a DVD player will skip over any track that has an interference path in it of any kind. So the sound was a true disaster with the wrong tracks playing at the wrong time. That really spooked the actors. Who says horses are the only creatures who spook easily? And then the show was too long-- a problem that has visited me before. Okay -- opening night was pretty bad-- the show with sound delays went three hours with intermission and of course since this theatre books rehearsals and auditions around the clock we ran into a scheduled rehearsal for a director who had won three Emmys-- OMG-- We thought it was over. But again with God's help, we transferred everything over to an I POD and we cut the show significantly by at least three scenes and one song and we did much better on the second night. By not having anyone move things off stage during breaks , we shaved off twenty minutes. Then the song was three minutes and the scenes were a total of eleven minutes-- big difference. We still need to cut one song and perhaps the opening which features an EMCEE. But at least the CAST was happy and we had a great cast party last night at Micelli's- who gave us 25% off all our food. Micellis' is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year and in honor of that every Monday and Tuesday in May and June, they are offering one entree at regular price and a second at equal or lesser value at sixty cents. Not too bad. So today we have performance number three at 7PM and all fingers are crossed. Today is also the birthday of Fred Astaire and auspiciously enough the birthday of John Wilkes Booth. Did you know the last role that Booth played before he assassinated Lincoln in April of 1865 was to play Marc Anthony In the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar in November of 1864 with his other world famous brother Edwin. Fascinating. The lesson-- choose a cast more carefully and TRUST GOD-- He will ALWAYS come through eventually. He might need to teach you a lesson, first, but He is always there before you CRASH. More later. God Bless us TONIGHT.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Today is the 50th anniversary of one of the best musicals of all time. Yes, "The Fantastiks" premiered today at the Sullivan playhouse, Off Broadway, New York City. Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones proved you could take a giant story and play it in an Off-Broadway house to great success. It is also the birthday of Betty Comden. Together with Adolph Green they made Broadway history.Their stage work of the 1950s included the revue Two on the Aisle, starring Bert Lahr and Dolores Gray, with music by Jule Styne; Wonderful Town, a musical adaptation of the play My Sister Eileen with music by Bernstein; and Bells Are Ringing, which reunited them with Judy Holliday and Jule Styne. The score, including the standards "Just in Time", "Long Before I Knew You", and "The Party's Over", proved to be one of their richest. Comden and Green contributed additional lyrics to the 1954 musical Peter Pan, translated and streamlined Die Fledermaus for the Metropolitan Opera and collaborated with Styne on songs for the play-with-music Say, Darling.
In 1958, they appeared on Broadway in A Party with Betty Comden and Adolph Green, a revue that included some of their early sketches. It was a critical and commercial success, and they brought an updated version back to Broadway in 1977.Comden and Green's Broadway work in the 1960s included four collaborations with Jule Styne. They wrote the lyrics for Do Re Mi, and the book and lyrics for Subways Are For Sleeping, Fade Out - Fade In, and Hallelujah, Baby! Their Hallelujah, Baby! score won a Tony Award.Comden and Green wrote the libretto for the 1970 musical Applause, an adaptation of the film All About Eve, and wrote the book and lyrics for 1978's On the Twentieth Century, with music by Cy Coleman. Comden also played the role of Letitia Primrose in that musical when original star Imogene Coca left the show. Comden and Green's final musical hit was 1991's The Will Rogers Follies, providing lyrics to Cy Coleman's music. Our rehearsal for "Little Bit Of Broadway" yesterday at the Fashion Square Mall's Community Room was very very good and very promising. All fingers and toes are crossed for the grand opening on Friday, May 8th at 8pm.

Friday, May 01, 2009


Today, May 1st would have been Kate Smith's one hundredth birthday. There is not one performer in the world who ever thrilled and influenced me more than dear Kate. If you made it on to her daily variety show on NBC television "you had definitely arrived" in your career. There was not one performer who could hit the last note of "The Impossible Dream" from "The Man Of La Mancha" (as it was written originally by composer Mitch Leigh) as she could. As a little boy, I was so mesmerized by this enchanting and wonderfully warm individual. She thrilled me as no other performer had thrilled me before-- and bar none none of this age except perhaps Josh Groban even comes close. Kathryn Elizabeth Smith was born May 1, 1909, in Greenville, Va., and grew up in Washington, D.C. Her father was a wholesale magazine distributor. As a baby, she failed to talk until she was 4 years old. But a year later she was singing in church socials and by the time she was 8 she was singing for the troops at Army camps in the Washington area during World War I. Alarmed by his daughter's evident penchant for the stage, William Smith made her take up nursing at George Washington University Hospital. She stuck it out a few months, quit and got herself on the bill at Keith's Theater as a singer. Heading the bill there was the actor and producer Eddie Dowling who signed up the young singer for a revue he was preparing. It was called ''Honeymoon Lane,'' and it opened in Atlantic City on Aug. 29, 1926. A month later it moved to Broadway. A review in The New York Times on Oct. 31, 1926, under the heading ''A Sophie Tucker Rival,'' said: ''A 19-year-old girl, weighing in the immediate neighborhood of 200 pounds, is one of the discoveries of the season for those whose interests run to syncopators and singers of what in the varieties and nightclubs are known as 'hot' songs. Kate Smith is the newcomer's not uncommon name.'' She was actually only 17 at the time.From ''Honeymoon Lane,'' dear Kate went into the road company of Vincent Youmans's ''Hit the Deck,'' where she won acclaim singing ''Hallelujah!'' Back in New York she took the company lead in George White's ''Flying High,'' which opened at the Apollo Theater on March 3, 1930, and ran for 122 performances. Portraying a character known as Pansy Sparks, Miss Smith's role was to be the butt of Bert Lahr's (yes, the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard Of Oz) often cruel jibes about her girth. She said later that she often wept with humiliation in her dressing room after the show. One evening, Ted Collins, a representative for Columbia Records, saw the show and heard Kate Smith sing for the first time. He sent a note backstage and asked her to see him in his office. When she appeared a few days later, it marked the beginning of a show-business association that lasted 34 years, ending with Mr. Collins's death in 1964. Kate Smith was baptized as a Roman Catholic in 1965. In 1976, my dear friend Tim Doran played "God Bless America" at a benefit for the last time. He didn't realize what a legend she had become and still was. She have him a note that basically said "why, I have I never met you before" and complimented my dear friend very much. I would have given my eye teeth to have met her. Today, I'm going to offer a little prayer to dear Kate. Maybe she'll send a blessing or two towards our little show that has encountered every little conflict you could imagine. God love you, dear Kate Smith! Happy one hundredth birthday wherever in heaven you may be!