Saturday, December 31, 2011

THE END OF ANOTHER YEAR




Today is the last day of 2011. It's been a strange and odd year: a year in which I've officially retired from work but certainly not from real living. I think since I've retired, I've written more creative things with my amazing partner John Nugent than at any point in my life. I call John "The Gift" because he truly is. He is bar none the most creative and kindly soul of all time. I have written many songs, but I write so much better with him. He is patient, kind, incredibly romantic and he brings things out of me that no one has ever brought out of me before. Together we've revitalized the television pilot for "First Mother" and created the pilots for "Senior High Dropouts", "Irish Leftovers", "Taxing Laughter", The Goldilocks Boys" and just in the the last three days a new comedy pilot called "A Muse- Ing- Ly Yours" which as they say in the trades "ain't bad." We've completed four musicals and have entered four musicals in the ASCAP- Dreamworks competition. We produced a stage show called "We Are Different Now" that was an artistic success( the picture from which you can see on this page.) My dad used to say "Don't let the moss grow under your feet." Well I can honestly say that we haven't. This is the year also that I re-discovered a cousin (Randy Parole) and found out just how supportive they are. My incredible friend Tim Doran I think has finally battled his last health conflict and it looks like he's going to go forward with a great year. I will always be grateful to this amazingly talented and kind man: without him I simply would not be a songwriter today. I look forward to 2012 the year in which we may have a new president and a year in which my status with John Nugent may finally change and God will allow us to enjoy a few years of success and prosperity. I am grateful to God for all of his many blessings. he is the center of my life and the King of my heart. We had a quiet but lovely Thanksgiving and Christmas and I know that the Dear Lord is right by my side at every single moment. John and I have made some very lovely new friends because of "We Are Different Now" and learned some great life lessons. So come forward New Year: do your best and shine like a diamond. It's Leap Year after all!

Friday, December 30, 2011







Today is a very special day. It's a birthday celebration for our dear friend Judy Egan and we are holding a party in her honor in Sherman Oaks today. We met Judy while doing "We Are Different Now" in September and most of the cast from that show will be in attendance. There are still a few I haven't heard from, but I'm sure we'll have a wonderful time. Christmas was private but lovely this year. I had to delay it a bit because the money wasn't in the bank until Social Security came in on the 28th. I did learn that I'll be getting a cost of living increase. starting in January 2012. My dear friend David Holmes turned sixty on December 27th. What a very special friend he has been: a friend who literally changed my life for the better. He had tried out and auditioned for a part I had advertised back in the old DramLogue paper back in May of 1981 in a Wizard of Oz type musical that we would be recording in Orange County and was living in Van Nuys (where I live now) He was of course wonderful as the Cowardly Lion and we thought we had a wonderful new personality. But at that time I was living in Rowland Heights and even with a freeway help that was still a very long forty-five minutes away. In these days before the internet, he phoned me and said the next day that he had enjoyed the audition but the distance was simply too far away.

Something inside me told me not to let this man go. I wanted to impress upon him how much I liked him. Believe it or not, I sent this relative stranger what Western Union called a "Night Letter" It was just like a telegram but because it was mailed and not physically delivered, it was much cheaper-- one hundred and twenty-five words for $75.00. That was a lot of money back then, but I used those one hundred and twenty-five words to the very best of my persuasional best and encouraged him not to worry about the distance: that distance was what you made of it. It worked. And the result has been a thirty year friendship that has been simply incredible. He turned out to be the director of "Skylark" and "The Invitation" as well as the original version of "A Moment With Mister "C". I had some nice presents from John: a bathrobe, a $40 movie pass and some beautiful roses which I cherish. My writing partner John Nugent and I entered the ASCAP- Dreamworks competition with four entries. So we shall see what happens there. Well, on to the party! Have a great New Year!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

ON A CLEAR DAY GETS A BRAND NEW LOOK



















The new version of On a Clear Day includes most of the original Tony Award-nominated Broadway score, adds songs from the film version, and interpolates Lerner and Lane numbers from the M-G-M film "Royal Wedding."
Tonight on Broadway, a classic Broadway show gets a second chance and a new look. The show was written by the late greats Burton Lane ("Finian's Rainbow") and Alan Jay Lerner ("My Fair Lady." The original production in 1965 ran only 280 performances (from October 1965 to June of 1966) Boy, have these guys turned this story around. Harry Connick Jr. plays the lead. The new version of On a Clear Day includes most of the original Tony Award-nominated Broadway score, adds songs from the film version, and interpolates Lerner and Lane numbers from the M-G-M film "Royal Wedding.". Originating producer Liza Lerner (Alan Jay's daughter) joins with Tom Hulce (the voice of Quasimotto in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and Ira Pittelman and Broadway Across America (John Gore, Thomas B. McGrath, Beth Williams) to bring the show to Broadway.

The creative team includes American Idiot Tony Award winner Christine Jones (sets), five-time Tony Award winner Catherine Zuber (costumes), American Idiot and Spring Awakening Tony Award winner Kevin Adams (lighting), Peter Hylenski (sound), Tom Watson (hair), Lawrence Yurman (music director and arrangements), and three-time Tony Award winner Doug Besterman (orchestrations).

Here's how the producers characterize the romantic musical comedy: "Love blooms in unexpected places in the delightfully reimagined world of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Still in love with his deceased wife, Dr. Mark Bruckner (Harry Connick, Jr.), a dashing psychiatrist and professor, unknowingly takes on the case of his life with David Gamble (David Turner), a quirky gay young florists' assistant. While putting David under hypnosis to help him quit smoking so he can move in with his perfect boyfriend Warren (David Gehling), Dr. Bruckner stumbles upon what he believes to be David’s former self — a dazzling and self-possessed 1940s jazz singer Melinda Wells (Jessie Mueller). Instantly intrigued by Melinda, Dr. Bruckner finds himself swept up in the pursuit of an irresistible (and impossible) love affair with this woman from another time and place, who may or may not have ever existed."

The score includes the songs "Come Back To Me," "What Did I Have That I Don't Have Now?," "She Isn't You," and the title song, plus "Love With All the Trimmings" and "Go to Sleep," as well as "Ev'ry Night at Seven," "You're All the World To Me," "Open Your Eyes" and "Too Late Now."

I love the title song and many of the others and I congratulate the team and wish it so much success.! Now the show has real conflict that it never had before. The score will take some songs from the film version and also from Lerner and lane's musical movie "Royal Wedding that starred good old Fred Astaire who also starred in Burton Lane's film version of "Finian's Rainbow"

My friend Tony Westbrook confirmed to me yesterday that he did indeed go for the audition of chorus in the new musical "The Book of Mormon." There's another show I absolutely love" That opening number is absolutely classic. It's a beautiful fall day here and this coming Saturday, we're having a re-union holiday party for the cast of "WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW". We also have started the process of a recording session that we'll hold the third week of January 2012. We're getting some pretty amazing singers who are applying this time. Yesterday, I finished the re-wrirte of the pilot script for my newest TV effort "SENIOR HIGH DROP OUTS". This is going to be one hell of a funny show.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

SOMETHING" FANTASTIK", SOMETHING FLOP


REMEMBER "The Yearling"? Not the novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Pulitzer Prize, 1939).Not the M-G-M motion picture which starred Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman and, in an Oscar-winning performance, Claude Jarman Jr., 1946).But the Broadway musical version (that lasted two days and three performances, back in 1965). It opened on this fateful day at the Alvin Theatre where the musical "Annie" played so many years in te same venue. The show was produced by Lorre Notto, the famed producer of the Off-Broadway champion "The Fantastiks" with all of its many hit songs. This show had a score by Michael Leonard who also wrote the tunes to "How To Be A Jewish Mother" which ran only twenty one performances in 1967. Loree Notto after this disaster vowed that he would never again produce a Broadway show and he didn't.. This composer was reportedly the uncredited composer of songs that were associated with Duke Ellington's melodies in "Pousee Cafe" Only One song from the score became famous and that was Barbara Streisand's standard "Why Did I Choose You? With a Broadway track record like that, it's no wonder that Mr. Leonard is referred to as "one of the entertainment world's best kept secrets in advertisements for a revue of his songs. The young star of this fiasco was Jody Foster later to become a presidential press secretary for Ronald Reagan. I find it amusing that this composer wrote a score for "How To Be A Jewish Mother" and I am writing a TV series about a Jewish Mother who becomes the "First Mother" of the United States when her vice president son suddenly becomes the next president after the elected president dies of a heart attack. John Nugent and I have now constructed seven episodes and I've already done a re-write of the first three punching them up and maker them any funnier than they were. My training of five years with Danny Simon back in the 1980's is really paying off this time. Christmas is fast approaching and John and I really cleaned up the kitchen so that we can do some baking of cookies and bunt cake. We put light all over the outside and as the great old Meredeth Wilson song goes "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas." That great old Christmas standard actually comes from an obscure Broadway Musical called "Here's Love" even though it's based on the classic Macy's story "Miracle on 43rd Street" Also enjoying Christmas this year with two cats: our beloved Joshua: a rag doll Siamese mix and Dusty an older tabby cat. Boy are these guys characters in every sense of the word. I was amused at reading the story of the guy who faked his mother's funeral so that he could get some paid bereavement time off from work. He even put the notice in the paper where it was read by guess who-- that's right his very alive mother and her friends who all went down to the newspaper office to show off that mom was very much alive. As Mark Twain used to say "I think God created man because he was disappointed in the monkey!" So now this guy faces criminal charges, a lost job and the consternation of his mother all in one Christmas. I don't know about you man is the amusing guy of all creation.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAMMY DAVIS JR AND POOR OLD NICK AND NORA



Today would have been the 86th birthday of one of the most remarkable singers, dancers, comedian and genuinely amazing human being. His name was Sammy Davis Junior. I found this remarkably sharp picture of him photographed in a pensive mood, but pensive or not, he was simply a talent whose excess in drink and drugs were his mighty downfall. But let's not dwell on what brought him down. Instead let's focus on what he was and what he meant to others. His great good heart was legendary. Here then are some quotes by this remarkable man many of which I found fascinating:




"I wasn't anything special as a father. But I loved them and they knew it."


I'd learned a lot in the Army. I knew that above all things in the world I had to become so big, so strong that people and their hatred of any one black could never touch me"

".
If you want to get known as a singer you hire five sexy chicks and let them fight over you onstage and for the cameras. That's publicity, man."

" Marilyn Monroe and I were rumored to be an item. We were friends. Nothing more. Marilyn was one of the sweetest creatures that ever lived."

" My wife May was young and beautiful, we were legally married, but she was caught in the prison of my skin."

"My home has always been show business Part of show business is magic. You don't know how it happens."

Also on this day in 1991 after 71 lumbering previews in New York City, the musical "Nick and Nora" finally opened on Broadway at the Marquis theatre, During all the preview time the poor musical underwent extensive script rewrites, multiple song replacements, and a major cast change. (It was surpassed by a record of 15 weeks of previews for the Broadway musical Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark which finally opened on Broadway in June 2011.)

The Broadway production, directed by Laurents and choreographed by Tina Paul, was simply unable to overcome the bad publicity and brutal reviews, it ran for only nine performances. The cast included Barry Bostwick (Nick Charles), Joanna Gleason (Nora Charles). The show was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Original Score. An original cast recording was released on That's Entertainment Records and was re-released on Jay Records in 1997. In his memoir Original Story By, Laurents confessed he didn't realize until the show was in previews that the characters of Nick and Nora Charles were identified so closely with William Powell and Myrna Loy that the public would have difficulty accepting anyone else in the roles. He also felt the lengthy preview period, during which theatre gossips and newspaper columnists spread largely unfounded rumors about the show's mounting problems, helped destroy any chances of success it may have had. Charles Strouse (the composer of "Annie and "Bye Bye Birdie" has had more flops than hits on Broadway.



Wednesday, December 07, 2011

REMEMBERING PEARL HARBOR AND HARRY MORGAN



Well besides the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, we also remember the late great Harry Morgan who passed from this life at the grand old age of 96. He was of course the co-star of Dragnet with Jack Webb and the loving but strict Col. Harry Potter on the classic television series MASH. He was an amazing character actor who got sidelined from becoming a lawyer in Santa Barbara in the 1940's and wound up being one of the busiest actors in Hollywood who was able to learn an entire script in one night's study at home. I used to always enjoy watching Harry's performances on both television and the big movie screen. He leaves three children one of whom became that lawyer that Harry didn't quite make. I want to remind readers of my blog that I've release a double CD album on CD Baby that has forty-seven songs from my songwriting career, all remastered and sounding as good as ever. There are songs from "Skylark" and "A Moment With Mister "C" and "The Invitation" which has a new improved libretto that can be purchased at LULU press. Go to www.CDbaby.com, for the CD and www.lulu.com for the new libretto. look under Creative Horizons. I'd sure appreciate friends picking up a copy of each. In conclusion, God keep the memory of our lost servicemen lost at Pearl Harbor: a senseless tragedy that led to the fiercest world war of all times, so far. and oh yes, almost forgot-- happy belated birthday to my cousin Sue Alan in Texas. This was a day of some accomplishment as well. I finished the second episode of a "First Mother" episode called "Martha Monovitz Saves The World." Can you imagine? I created this wonderful story and character back in the early 1990's and just now we are getting some interest from the networks? The second thing I accomplished today ? How about seventeen loads of laundry. I think I washed every shirt and pair of pants that myself and John Long owns. Wow! That laundromat guy surprised me today, I must say. For the very first time since I've been going to his place since he bought it seven years ago he actually said "Thank You". I guess it must be Christmas, after all.

Monday, December 05, 2011

WALT DISNEY'S BIRTHDAY


Today, the amazing Walt Disney would have been one hundred and ten years old. He's now officially been gone more years than he was ever here guiding his company. I called Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland today just to remind them. They had no idea what today was. Well, I'm not surprised. I worked for Disneyland because it was on my bucket list-- something I wanted to do before I died. I loved my fellow cast members. They were all friendly and kind and thoughtful. Disney managers? Well, poor things they are far too absorbed in what i call "the business of magic." I traveled forty-three miles one way to get there. I worked all of the grad nights in one year. I loved waiting on the guests because I know so much about Walt and his company. The highlight of my day came at the end of that work shift when I would briefly stop at the base of Walt's old Disneyland apartment on Main Street and I would look up at his window on main street and say "Goodnight, sir, thanks for starting all the magic." This was especially wonderful during the Christmas season when the small lamp was always replaced by a small Christmas tree. All of Main street was deserted. It was after two o'clock in the morning as we cast members on the late late shift were all going home. I was the only one ever there. Was I the only one who cared? Walt Disney was one of the greatest gifts God gave this weary planet. He was very special to me for many reasons some of which I've shared in this journal since June of 2006. I really wonder sometimes what he might say if he were alive today. They're still guessing what he would have done. Imagine that: a simple boy from the Mid-West without a high school diploma who was so intrinsically connected with every creative step of this company that he knew when a song worked for a movie. He knew what the public would love in entertainment. He knew everything. Sure, Walt made a few mistakes in his days on this planet: a few pictures that flopped. But not like the studio does today. I happen to respect Bob Iger. He really tries. He seems to keep Walt's memory alive. I know that Walt's current Imagineering stagg really tries, but there is far too much politics in the Disney organization today: far too many "sharp pencil boys". Disneyland was not created for that, ladies and gentlemen and while the word "profit" is not a four letter word, it should not also be everything that you hang your hat on, While I worked at the Emporium and The Candy Palace cash registers (among others) I watched people spend money in a bad economy with money they really didn't have. But they seemed to spend it as if being loyal to the creations of this most amazing man. Walt used to say "We never do anything twice" and "You can't top pigs with pigs!" Those were the first philosophies the Disney organization threw out. Imitation is rampant in the company and big attractions (like the new "Little Mermaid") on which lots of money is spent just don't fufill Walt's legacy. It just disappoints. Please, Mr. Iger, you'll make lots of money-- Walt taught you how-- but please don't make money everything. There's no magic in that.

Friday, October 21, 2011

NOTABLE EVENTS AND DIZZY GILLESPE'S BIRTHDAY



Happy Birthday to a wonderful musician of our past: Mr. Dizzy Gillespe: American trumpeter, composer and band leader . And on this day in 1879, dear old Thomas Edison first saw the light by inventing the first workable light bulb in 1879. It's been an interesting few days. The world has lost a blood thirsty dictator (thank God) The President has decided he's going to keep a campaign promise he made in 2007 and bring home the troops from Iraq and end this senseless war. It's interesting that the president made this decision or declaration of this decision on the same day that our troops first saw action of World War One. Interesting coincidence ninety four years apart. And I'm quite sure that God had a good laugh today because the promised rapture didn't happen ether. Mark Twain was so right "Man is the only animal that blushes or needs to". Oh yes, its also the birthday of one of favorite poets: Mr. Samuel Coleridge. He lived only sixty one years, but he wrote enough poetry like the "The Rhine of the Ancient Mariner" that certainly taught me a lot about poetry and eventually all the lyric that I've written in my life. Eight hundred songs and counting and my three sisters probably couldn't name one of them. They just don't understand creativity and the certainly don't understand what I do and the special gift that God has given me all of these many years. Maybe we can get Edison to come back to earth on a future birthday so that he can make a larger light bulb so that they can. Oh well, I love them. And good to hear that Zsa Zsa Gabor has made it out of the hospital alive once again. She may be down to one leg, but she's got some real ballsy spirit-- you gotta admit that one. I find it amusing that Ghadaffi's family is demanding his body back. Hey guys, I'm pretty sure he's dead already. I'm sure he and Bin Laden are walking the streets of hell right now. Oh well, so much for that promised reward of forty precious virgins!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NOT SO HAPPY HALLOWEEN



I found this really cute picture on the Internet and i thought I would share it with you all. It looks like the poor pumpkin had way too much to drink. But I really love creative expression like this. It's the kind of picture that could replace that proverbial thousand words. John and I are hoping that this is our last holiday in the same place for eleven years. John Nugent and I really are so eager for "First Mother" to be accepted by Fox Network. It's so crazy, but this property actually dates back to the early 1990's back when everyone we talked to was saying that it was impossible for a Jew to become President of the United States. Well that was long before Obama and here we are! I find the presidential debates absolutely fascinating. The Herman Cain 999 plan sounds very problem solving, but here's the big wicket in the plan: Herman Cain says that it will be an even 999 plan or twenty-seven percent. The national sales tax is an interesting idea but what about the states (like Oregon, Nevada and New Hampshire) who at this moment don't have a sales or income tax. All of a sudden they are going to have one. You can't count that the lack of payroll taxes will make up for that because you shouldn't be using that money anyway. You are going to pay 9% income tax and 9% national sales tax. It's like spending the money you have saved for property taxes which aren't going away ether or your kids college funds And remember, friends the interest that you pay on your home or condo now WILL NOT be deductible under Mr. Cain's plan. Only charities. Now that sounds wonderful for charities, but there's only so much that you can give away. It's interesting also that the plan excludes used goods. That means the sale of used cars, boats, furniture and clothing is going to sky rocket. But what about new cars whose sales are sluggish today at best? Now consider states like California. Do you really think that the Golden State is going to give up it's precious sales or income tax? ADD IT UP 999 plus 8.75% plus 8-10% personal income tax? That's almost 46%. Now lets say that the states get 50% of the national sales tax. That's cool. Maybe California will lower it's sales tax? It's only a maybe. Now here's a solution that would penalize only the folks who break the law. If you're a resident of North Carolina you may already know about this because it is currently the law there. Suppose that every time you got a ticket for speeding (let's say we give a first timer a break) that you owed the same money to the United States government? Or even 50%. Imagine if you will just how many actual speeding (not parking) tickets are given daily throughout the nation? In California, it's six hundred thousand per anum. The average ticket is $330.00. Add just 50% of that amount due to the Federal Government and you wouldn't need 9% national sales tax. And only those who break the law are penalized. Your insurance goes up every ticket that you get. Nobody howls about that changes anything. Amazing just how simple that would be. The state would collect the money for the Federal Government. Justification-- who supplied most of the money for the interstate highway system in the first place? You choose to break the law? You endanger lives on the highway? You clog up the courts appealing your cry baby amount that you pay and guess what you bear the tax burden. The Post Office can't pay its costs-- the solution is to charge a $25.00 per anum delivery tax. Don't want to pay the tax? Go to the post office rent a post office box. Better yet, use the Internet to pay bills on line-- all FREE. It's time that each American pays a fair share to run the country. This is the greatest country on Earth. But freedom isn't FREE. Only blue sky and sunsets and rainbows. We need to stop cry babying about what things cost and do our best to contribute to it. Otherwise we're like the guy who goes in for a group lunch or dinner and the dining place only takes a maximum of three credit cards. This happened at my own birthday party. The attitude with four of the invited guests was "Well, it's not my fault that they only three credit cards per group. I don't carry cash any more. " I actually had people who "snuck out" without paying using this as their justification to do so. Thank goodness the tip was already included in the bill or the poor waitress would have made damn little. Let's concentrate on sharing the weight and not sitting down on the weight while the poor country tries to move it along!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ELEVEN YEARS TOGETHER




I can't believe that soon John Long and I will be celebrating our 11th anniversary together. That date is October 31st. Halloween Day. We had a formal ceremony with a big party and Rick Carlson and Jimmy Chapel and Mara were there. And it was a grand event. This picture was taken that day. John has been my true soul mate and friend and partner and the odds against our meeting were one jillion gillion to one. After all my last man in my life turned out to be a disaster and was from Arizona. John was from Arizona and had just broken up with his current boy friend. What amazing progression the Gay movement has made in eleven years. John is my perfect partner and is the most


amazing balance. I turned sixty four on September 24th and I've been writing this blog for six years. I haven't written for a while. The WE ARE DIFFERENT SHOW was an artistic success, and did make a $500 profit, but the theatre (THE CAP THEATRE) turned out to be a very crooked and cheatful experience. They took over my box office, wanted a cut of my caterer's fee (which we made no profit on in the first place) and were unbelievably rude to my actors, staff and manager. I had a mild heart attack because of the bad experience and as my partner has said he wouldn't walk back into that theatre with a Molotov Cocktail-- it will spoil the reputation of the Molotov Cocktail. These guys are so slick they could grease a cake pan without Crisco. Stay away from these people in Sherman Oaks, Ca. I am going to try and write more here from now on as this represents a great therapy for me. John Nugent and I are awaiting word on our "First Mother" TV series which has Lainie Kazan attached to star. We've written seven episodes of the series together. Also on the creative menu is four episodes of a new series idea called "SENIOR HIGH DROP OUTS". The idea is simple. A gay third grade teacher is fired for spanking a little girl after she sets fire to a picture of George Washington. He begs for a second chance and finally gets one teaching senior citizens so that they can get their long neglected high school diplomas. Funny stuff. Great potential.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A MUSICAL MIS ADVENTURE THAT NOW FLIES



Thank goodness for the great people of theatre like dear Judy Eglan here. She and husband Kevin and their grandson Harley, Grant Measures and all the others still in the cast of our "We Are Different Now" are such joys to work with. I haven't written on this blog for awhile because John and I have been so absolutely consumed by this 9/11 tribute musical and our first independent production where we have been the producers. It's been a downright roller coaster of the century ride. You can not believe the egos of actors and wannabee musical directors who have done the things they've done to stop us. The first director named Bruce whom we thought was our friend of four years turned into a controlling monster who had no respect for authors. The second named Paul who had a medication issue and literally went off the deep end. Good old Jay was another nightmare who was an absolute control freak and knew nothing about musical theatre and equally nothing about staging. Our next director was struck by a sudden illness and stress and Tatianna simply had no idea what actors would accept or not and treated them mostly like children. And then I took over and employed a cast member's help and we turned it around. And yesterday, finally it began to breathe on its own and just may survive and be strong. I have learned that some actors will say absolutely anything to get out of a show and to make excuses why they can't be there for rehearsal. Things were different back in 1983 when we cast our first show, Skylark. Then there were over a hundred actors in line for audition. And this was Equity-Wavier back when Equity didn't even have a minimum per day stipend . Nobody quit. Nobody put money over their art. Nobody used a million excuses or had more problems than a daytime soap opera. Nobody tried to betray you. And not everybody thought themselves to be a director. But all the problems, I hope seem to be behind us now. And now this little show at the Cap Theatre at 13752 Ventura Blvd can finally go on on the 9/11 weekend (Fri, Saturday and Sunday nights) at 8pm

with a 4pm show on Sunday afternoon. It's a dinner theatre presentation with Yankee Pot Roast, Liberty potatoes, Colony vegetables, rolls and butter, Boston Baked Beans and dessert.

I want to thank the good and noble members of this cast who have gone out of their way to smooth the path. It's been one hell of a ride. I think I could write a book about John and my misadventures. Wow! So thank yopu Vicki M and Vicki C. Thank you, Buddy and Kaye and Robert and everyone for holding on for dear life and making "We Are Different Now" fly.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A NEW THEATRE AND NEW POSSIBILITIES


Well, it's been a month since I have written here and so much has happened. With the grace of God, my writing partner and I have found a theatre to perform our musicals in the city of Sherman Oaks. It's a really beautiful theatre and no, it's not the grandeur of the stage in the picture,but it is a stage that is twenty four feet wide and thirty feet deep with an electronic curtain, spots, special effect lighting and amazing beautiful cabaret seating. This theatre is a little gem and the Good Lord led us to it and I am so grateful to Him. The rental is modest and we have a an amazing publicist named Bill Hooey for whom we are turning his novel into a musical for a trade in services . It's an unusual tale let us just say that and its a great irony that we are turning this type of subject into a musical show, but we already have forty-five pages written and several songs. Our plans is to turn this venue into a self contained dinner theatre utilizing a caterer serving well drinks and wine and rewarding the cast with our profits. Our dinner theatre price will be thirty-three dollars ans will include a main course like Yankee Pot Roast, potato, veggies, bread, salad, dessert plus bottled water or ice tea and one well drink. We're thinking of adding three or four four dollars for a second helping option. All in all, with God's help we will put on a 9/11 Memorial show plus a review show with many of musicals in that show being previewed. And now also we are very close to making a deal for our TV series "First Mother" with Lanie Kazan set to star as the title character. I want this so much to happen and finally make my sisters proud of me. It's tough being related to a dreamer, especially when these same three sisters (two older, one younger) never really had a big dream of their own. Raising a family is wonderful, trust me, but the gift of having a dream and sticking with that dream until it has been realized is a joy I can not begin to describe to you. When God gives you a special talent, He expects you to carry through with that talent and see it trough to it's grand big conclusion. My manager Jimmy Chapel understands this and my partner John Nugent certainly understands this. We've been plugging away for the same amount of time. So now with God's guidance and help, we can get these first two projects cast and staged. This time John and I are not trying to direct. Thank goodness! We heard yesterday that a big TV director is interested in our musical "Brothers Laughter". So everyone who reads my blog (it's been going on for five years and a month) say a little prayer that things go right and smooth. If we can sell some ads and get a corporate sponsorship, we will really be ahead. And belatedly may I wish Neil Simon a Happy Birthday. He turned eighty-four on the Fourth of July. Amazing guy. Complex-as he brother Danny called him, but amazing.

Monday, June 06, 2011

FAREWELL WALLY AND BETTY AND ED SULLIVAN'S LAST SHOW



We lost two Disneyland icons last Friday and they both died on the same day. The show was "The Golden Horseshoe Revue" and the performers were Wally Boag (my comedic hero) and his lovely and wonderful co-star, Betty Taylor. I used to love going to see this show every time I went to Disneyland. When I was a kid, I had written a Walt Disney tribute poem and got to know a man by the name of Robert Lilienwall. Bob was always so super to me and he always would call down to the Horseshoe to get me reserved seats for that day's performance. Without those reservations, guests would wait for two hours in line. Wally was a brilliant comedian who had the most amazing comic timing of all time. Walt Disney personally signed Wally for a two week contract way back in 1955. That grew to a gig that lasted until 1982 or almost thirty years. Betty was a beautiful and amazing entertainer who can really sing a wonderful song. In the show Wally (who played Pecos Bill) was supposed to Betty's boyfriend. The routine was as flawless and Abbott and Costello's classic "Who's on First!" Wally was also the voice of Jose, the parrot in Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room", the very first Audio animatronic attraction at Disneyland. We've created a new poster for our latest musical "Father Dreamer" which joins our incredible roster of thirty original musicals in our Creative Horizons catalog. Today is also a milestone in entertainment because forty years ago, today, the last "Ed Sullivan Show" was broadcast on CBS.Sunday nights, 8:00 pm, CBS. Ask almost any American born in the 1950's or earlier what television program ran in that time slot on that network, and they'll probably know the answer: The Ed Sullivan Show. For more than two decades, Sullivan's variety show was the premiere television showcase for entertainers of all stripes, including borscht-belt comedians, plate-spinning vaudeville throwbacks and, most significantly, some of the biggest and most current names in rock and roll. Twenty-three years after its 1948 premiere, The Ed Sullivan Show had its final broadcast on this day in 1971. In its first eight years of existence, there was no such thing as rock and roll to be featured on the program originally called Toast of the Town, yet even its first broadcast made music history when Broadway composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II gave the world its first taste of the score from their upcoming musical, South Pacific. Over the years, live performances of new and current Broadway shows were featured regularly on Ed Sullivan, including Julie Andrews singing "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" from My Fair Lady and Richard Burton singing "What Do The Simple Folk Do?" from Camelot. Classical and opera performers also made frequent appearances, but of course The Ed Sullivan Show is now remembered most for providing so many iconic moments in the history of televised rock and roll. Elvis Presley's first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, in September 1956, was actually one of his most restrained and least thrilling. It was notable, however, given Ed Sullivan's assertion earlier that year that he'd never allow "The King" on his show. By the time the Beatles rolled around, Sullivan was far more comfortable with the hysteria young Elvis had caused. In fact, it was Ed Sullivan personally witnessing Beatlemania up close at London's Heathrow airport in 1963 that led the Beatles being booked for their historic February 1964 American television debut. Through the rest of the 60s, The Ed Sullivan Show continued to host the day's biggest rock acts: The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, The Doors, The Mamas and the Papas, Janis Joplin and more. Gladys Knight and the Pips were the musical guests on the final episode of The Ed Sullivan Show, which was cancelled shortly after its rerun broadcast on this day in 1971.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

PHIL SILVERS 100TH BIRTHDAY AND WONDERLAND TO CLOSE




One of the greatest natural clowns and incredibly funny men would have turned one hundred years old today. His name was Phil Silvers: the absolute master of in your face, but honest comedy. His Sgt. Bilko character was the best and I'm sorry to say can not be imitated-- even though dear Steve Martin tried. Funny funny man. Known as the "King of Chutzpah" Phil was born on Thursday, May 11, 1911, in Brooklyn, New York where he was the eighth and youngest child of Russian- Jewish immigrants, Saul and Sarah (née Handler) Silver. His brothers and sisters were Lillian, Harry, Jack, Saul, Pearl, Michael, and Reuben Silver. His father was a sheet metal worker, helped build the early New York skyscrapers. Dear Phil Silvers started entertaining at age 11, when he would sing in theaters when the projector broke down (a common occurrence in those days). Two years later, he left school to sing professionally, before appearing in vaudeville as a stooge. He then landed work in short films for the Vitaphone studio, burlesque houses, and on Broadway where he made his debut in the short-lived show Yokel Boy. Critics raved about Silvers, who was hailed as the bright spot in the mediocre play. He then wrote the revue High Kickers, until he went to Hollywood to appear in films.He made his film debut in Hit Parade of 1941 in 1940 (his previous appearance as a 'pitch man' in "Strike Up The Band" was cut). Over the next two decades, he worked as a character man for MGM, Columbia , and 20th Century Fox in such films as Lady Be Good , Coney Island Cover Girl and Summer Stock. When the studio system began to decline, he returned to the stage.

Silvers wrote the lyrics for Frank Sinatra's "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)". Although he was not a songwriter, he wrote the lyrics while visiting composer Jimmy Van Heusen. The two composed the song for Van Heusen's writing partner Johnny Burke, for his wife Bessie's birthday. Substituting Sinatra's little daughter's name Nancy at her birthday party, the trio impressed the singer to record it himself. The song became a popular hit in 1944 and was a staple in Sinatra's live performances. Silvers scored a major triumph in Top Banana , a Broadway show of 1952. Silvers played Jerry Biffle, the egocentric, always-busy star of a major television show. (The character is said to have been based on Milton Berle. .) Silvers dominated the show and won a Tony Award for his performance. He repeated the role in the 1954 film version that was originally released in 3-D. Phil Silvers became a household name in 1955 when he starred as Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko in You'll Never Get Rich, later retitled The Phil Silvers Show. . The military comedy became a huge television hit, with the opportunistic Bilko fast-talking his way through one obstacle after another. Most episodes of the series were filmed in New York . The series ceased production in 1959, not owing to any decline in popularity, but because of the high production costs of a show with a huge ensemble cast.

Throughout the 1960s he appeared internationally in films such as It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and 4o Pounds of Trouble . He was featured in Marilyn Monroe's last film, the unfinished Something's Got To Give" . In the 1963–1964 television season, he appeared as Harry Grafton, a factory foreman interested in get-rich-quick schemes, much like the previous Bilko character, in CBS's 30-episode The Phil Silvers Show. Today is also the birthday of Irving Berlin: the father of American music. Amazing guy. He never read a note of music and he could only play the black keys on the piano. One of his early arrangers was George Gershwin. Early on, Irving sent him away saying "George, you are much too talented to be regelated as a note taker for me. Sorry alsdo to hear about Frank Wildhorn's musical "Wonderland" which will be closing after only thirty-three performances on May 15th. It's sad: Frank hasn't had much success lately on Broadway in the last ten years. but somehow I knew intrinsically that this musical was just not going to make it. It wasn't "large" enough in the high concept department and in my humble opinion just didn't pass the public's "Who Cares?" test that we've talked about here. It cost an average of $125.00 and $150.00 to see a Broadway show today-- so guess what? Today's Broadway musical has to be really top of the hill in high concept. Movie titles help, but are no guarantee. That pitch has got to contain the who, what, where, when and how in two sentences-- and those are the two sentences that need to resonate in the minds of the public. John and I continue to write as many high concept shows that we can. We're writing one on Saint Valentine and Jack The Ripper that looks at the story from Jack's Point of view. By the way, I found some funny signs that you might enjoy also. It's crazy how people don't realize what kind of message they are delivering!





Monday, April 25, 2011

REMEMBERING BEA ARTHUR







Bea Arthur was an amazing comic actress, singer and Broadway star. We lost her to cancer two years ago today. She could deliver a line like Bob Hope, Jack Benny and many other comedians combined. Her portayal of "Maude" was classic and incredibly funny as Dorothy on the Golden Girls. I was priveleged to have written one episode for the Golden Girls show many years ago. Dear Bea was married twice.



Her first marriage took place during her time in the military, when she married fellow Marine Robert Alan Aurthur, a screenwriter, television, and film producer and director, whose surname she took and kept (though with a modified spelling). Shortly after they divorced, she married director Gene Saks from 1950 to 1978 with whom she adopted two sons, Matthew (born in 1961), an actor, and Daniel (born in 1964), a set designer.
In 1972, she moved to the Greater Los Angeles Area and sublet her apartment on Central Park West in New York City and her country home in Bedford, New York. Bea
Arthur was a committed animal-rights activist and frequently supported People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals campaigns and joined PETA in 1987 after a Golden Girls anti-fur episode. She appeared on Judge Judy as a witness for an animal-rights activist, and, along with Pamela Anderson insisted on a donation to PETA in exchange for appearing on Comedy Central. In Norfolk, Virginia near the site of the PETA headquarters, there is a dog park named (Bea Arthur Dog Park) in her honor. Arthur's longtime championing of civil rights for women, the elderly, and the Jewish & LGBT communities—in her two television roles and through her charity work and personal outspokenness. Arthur died at her home in the Greater Los Angeles Area in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 25, 2009. She had been ill from cancer,and her body was cremated after her death. Her ashes were given to either a friend or relative.On April 28, 2009, the Broadway community paid tribute to Arthur by dimming the marquees of New York City's Broadway theater district in her memory for one minute at 8:00 P.M. Bea Arthur's co-stars from The Golden Girls, Rue McClanahan and Betty White, commented on her death via telephone on an April 27 episode of Larry King Live as well as other news outlets such as ABC. Longtime friends Adrienne Barbeau (with whom she had worked on Maude) and Angela Lansbury (with whom she had worked in Mame) released amicable statements: Barbeau said, "We've lost a unique, incredible talent. No one could deliver a line or hold a take like Bea and no one was more generous or giving to her fellow performers"; and Lansbury said, "She became and has remained my "Bosom Buddy" I am deeply saddened by her passing, but also relieved that she is released from the pain".
Arthur bequeathed $300,000 to The Ali Forney Center, a New York City organization that provides housing for homeless LGBT youths. Dear Bea won the American Theatre Wing's Tony Award (The Tonys) in 1966 as Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance that year as Vera Charles in the original Broadway production of Jerry Herman's musical Mame. Arthur has received the most Emmy nominations for Leading Actress in a Comedy Series with 9. She later received the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series twice, once in 1977 for Maude and again in 1988 for The Golden Girls. She was inducted into the Academy's Hall of Fame in 2008.
On June 8, 2008, The Golden Girls was awarded the Pop Culture award at the Sixth Annual TV Land Awards. Arthur (in one of her final public appearances) accepted the award with co-stars Rue McClanahan and Betty White.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

ITS A SMALL WORLD'S 45 ANNIVERSARY


























HAPPY 45th ANNIVERSARY



TO
DISNEYLAND'S


"IT'S A SMALL WORLD"













Think of the song by the magnificent Sherman Brothers "It's A Small World" and perhaps the very first thing you will think of is "I can't get that song out of my mind. Well for a songwriter that's about the best compliment you can get. And since I am a songwriter, I would be proud to have that compliment said about any of my songs. Perhaps it would help you say if the song had if you had more verses. Though translated in different languages, the attractions only carry two verses, but at least three additional verses were at one point penned for the Disney On Parade touring show that was held in the late 1960s and early 1970s. All five verses are listed below: The version of "It's A Small World that you see here is the one to be found at Disneyland Paris. Anyway, the all the verses written by Dick and Bob Sherman follow:





Verse #1
It's a world of laughter, a world of tears.It's a world of hope and a world of fears.There's so much that we share,That it's time we're aware,It's a small world after all.



Verse #2
There is just one moon and one golden sun.And a smile means friendship to everyone.Though the mountains are wide,And the oceans divide,It's a small world after all.


For three of its four seasons, each Disney on Parade show ended with a Small World finale


Here is that verse: I kind of like this one a lot


Verse #3.
It's a world of star light of sky and sea


It's a world of wonder for you and me
Like a world without end

But come closer my friend,

It's a small world after all.




Here is yet another verse: This was is pretty good:



Verse #4


In a world where people are still apart

Build a bridge or handshake a hopeful start

If we hold out our hands,We will soon understand,
It's a small world after all.



A fifth verse may be stretching it a bit, but if sung correctly it could be wonderful!



Verse #5
If we just lock hands clear around the earth,
We will know how much brotherhood is worth.
It's a chain strong as steel
In it's strength we can feel,

It's a small world after all.



I had absolutely no idea that the Sherman Brothers had composed so many verses for the incredible song. The original attraction was inteneded for the New York World's Fair of 196401965. The fair itself lost a lot of money because it was poorly laid out, but the Disney attractions were solid hits. We all perhaps have heard of the famous story about "It's A Small World" which was sponsored by Pepsi Cola at the fair. The Pepsi Company Board of Directors simply hated it and thought it was dreadful. Luckily for all of us the Pepsi Chairman had just died and his famous actress wife took over. She loved it and threatened to fire every member if the board whoopposed it. That celebrity ladies and gentlemen was none other than "Mrs. Wooden Coathanger-- JOAN CRAWFORD. Of course, there is another "Small World" story that is quite classic. Walt Disney was driving the Sherman Brothers to WED Enterprises back in 1963 to show them the prototype for the original attraction at the World's Fair. Walt was telling the Shermans how the ride would be a salute to the children of the world and how the attraction was being sponsored by UNICEF. The Shermans hearing the acronym UNICEF said "OH, we should donate our royalties to the UNICEF. Walt put the brakes on the car and put the car in park, turned around to the Shermans and said "Boys, don't you worry about the children of the world-- the world will take care of them-- DOn't you ever give your royalties to anyone!" Now Walt Disney could have turned that single generous offer into one hell of a marketing campaign, but Walt Disney was simply not that kind of man.. The Shermans make a lot of money a year for a little song that took ten minutes to write.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A VERY SAD DAY



I received a telephone call from my sister with some very sad news. I have always been a cradle Catholic. What's that you say? It's a guy who still doesn't eat meat on Friday and says grace before eating a "Twinkee". The sad news was that the church that I had attended for nine years or so --Saint John Vianney in Hacienda Heights had burned down the night before. It started about a few minutes after midnight and was finally contained about two and a half hours later. The fire it was discovered had been started by an arsonist. There was nine million dollars worth of damage. Gone were all the magnificent stained glassed windows. Gone was the altar and the most beautiful Christ upon the cross and worse gone was the church's million dollar pipe organ. I had attended Saint John's starting in 1984 while I was married. My ex-wife introduced it to me and I always thought it was a most beautiful church. Even after we were divorced, I continued to attend the church. In 1990, I became a parishoner and started to be active in the church. Father Joe Shea was the pastor then. In 1992, I started as the entertainment chairman of the church's big fundraising annual effort called "Early California Days". Two years later a new pastor that I knew well by the name of Monsignor John Kane arrived at the church. I had known John from his service at Saint Denis Catholic Church in Diamond Bar. Monsignor Kane was an amazing pastor. A big trouble swallowed my life in 1996 and into 199y and I found myself homeless. It was the amazing Monsignor Kane who got me to the welfare office and got me my medication for my diabetes plus he paid for my resumes to be created and paid my long overdue automobile insurance. Such an amazing man. I am very sad about this beloved church that love very much and I pray that the parishioners will found the courage, have the resolve and determination to help the church re-build. I also pray for the arsonist: what possesses a man or woman to do such a thing? The church is also special because it was here that we staged our second "Touch A Life: concert a few years ago. I wish my friends there including dear Lillian Avery the courage to see through this senseless tragedy. God bless you all! You will be in paryers daily!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

THE ONE HUNDRETH AND FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CIVIL WAR
















Today, April 12, 2011 is the 150th anniversary of the start of the greatest and the most painful war in this beloved country's history. It began with the election of a president by dear old South Carolina which throughout US history beginning with John C. Calhoun has always provided the heat of controversial thought. On December 20, 1860 South Carolina delegates to a special secession convention voted unanimously to secede from the United States of America. In November, Abraham Lincoln had been elected President of the United States with little support from the southern states. The critical significance of this election was expressed in South Carolina’s Declaration of the Immediate Causes of Secession: “A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all states north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of president of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.” The Declaration claimed that secession was justified because the Federal government had violated the constitutional compact by encroaching upon the rights of the sovereign states. As the primary violation, the Declaration listed the failure of 14 northern states to enforce the Federal Fugitive Slave Act or to restrict the actions of antislavery organizations. “Thus the constituted compact has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slave holding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.” The Declaration expressed South Carolina’s fear that “The slave holding states will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.”What brought the people of the United States to a point where talking had ceased which eventually led to war? Was war the only option? Visit Fort Sumter to learn about the many events and policies that led America to split in 1861.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

ONCE UPON A MATTRESS




The name Carol Burnett and the title Once Upon a Mattress are closely linked, and with good reason; the success of the 1959 musical — which began life on lower Second Avenue at the Phoenix, transferred to the Alvin, and enjoyed successful television adaptations in 1964 and 1972 — rested firmly on the capable shoulders of Burnett as the "girl named Fred." Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, more formally, from the swamps. Carol Burnett was not the only performer to take on the role, naturally enough. dear Dody Goodman headed the national tour, in which she was replaced by Imogene Coca who was probably very funny (although she was 52 at the time, a good 25 years older than Burnett). Winnifred was played by Tracey Ullman in a 2005 television production; the show was also revived on Broadway in 1996 with Sarah Jessica Parker in the lead, about which the less said the better. Which leaves us with the question, how do you compete with memories of dear Carol Burnett? Not Burnett the superstar, which she was by 1968 or so; but Burnett the comic genius, who I expect was already slaying 'em when she stepped out as a veritable unknown for the earliest performances of Mattress. So today I listened to the original London cast album of Once Upon a Mattress is instructive in addressing this question. Rather than casting the role locally, the producers endeavored to find a similarly young and fresh and distinctly American comedienne. Jane Connell wasn't fully unknown at the time; a familiar face in the San Francisco and N.Y. nitery worlds, Connell played Mrs. Peachum in the historic 1955 Off-Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera and made her Broadway debut singing about "April in Fairbanks (Alaska)" in New Faces of 1956. Connell went to London for Mattress, which opened Sept. 20, 1960, at the Adelphi. And really bombed, closing after only 24 performances. This was a close recreation of the original production, presented by Richard Rodgers — father of Mattress composer Mary — and Oscar Hammerstein II under their "Williamson Music Ltd." mantle. George Abbott's staging was recreated by Jerome Whyte, Richard Rodgers' great pal and right-hand (or whyte-hand) man, with the New York physical production and choreography reproduced. The cast included at least one performance we might have wanted to see — Milo O'Shea as the King. It's not that Connell is poor in the role; she is distinctive, as one might suppose, and not just a pale copy of the original star. But there is hardly anything she does, as Winnifred, that doesn't instantly make us think: Carol did it better. Of course she did it better; Carol was Fred, and Fred was Carol. Other over sized talents might have been able to make the role their own, in the same way that Mary Martin made a convincing Annie Oakley in the national tour of Annie Get Your Gun. That other Carol, for example — Channing, that is — might have made an interesting Winnifred; ten years earlier, anyway.
Burnett sang loud, for sure, but it was a loudness masking her character's embarrassment — mixed with a certain amazement at that sound emanating from her mouth. Connell, here, is of the loud-is-funny school; and it ain't. Although let it be said that she more than proved her mettle six years later when she got her hands on Agnes Gooch in Mame. Connell always seemed like a little old character woman, and a very funny one; which might explain why she was an unlikely, and apparently unsuccessful, Winnifred. The two comediennes eventually shared the stage, in 1995, in the mirthlessly unfunny Moon Over Buffalo; watching the pair I don't suppose anyone could imagine Connell having replaced Burnett in any role, ever.
As is the practice of Sepia Records, they have filled out the CD with another piece of Rodgers. Mary, that is. "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves 40" sounds more promising than it is. This was a 1957 two-sided 78 for children from Golden Records, with the tale told and sung by Bing Crosby; Mary's music had lyrics by Sammy Cahn, of all people. But it is not, alas, found treasure. Today is also Steven Schwartz's sixty-third birthday and today in 1974 was the opening of Richard and Robert Sherman's "Over Here" which introduced John Travolta, Samuel E. Wright and Treat Williams to the world.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

THE PROP THAT WENT WRONG AND THE BILLY ELLIOT LAWSUIT




So You suppose that only things in YOUR LIFE goes wrong. But the world of the stage is a very interesting place to recount all of the crazy things that go wrong David Rendall, an opera singer, began a two million dollar law suit law suit after a stage set collapsed on top of him midway through a performance Rendall claimed his career was ruined by the accident, which shattered his hip and knee and damaged his shoulders. The 61-yea old tenor said he was unable to perform and has been forced to sell his house because work offers have dried up. The accident happened in April 2005 during a production of Aida at the Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen. The accident was not Mr Rendall's first brush with misfortune on stage. During a performance of I Pagliacci in Milwaukee in 1998 he accidentally stabbed another singer in the stomach with a flick knife. The blade was supposed to retract but instead plunged three inches into the abdomen of Kimm The production continued with a replacement baritone and a retractable toy knife. In April of last year RSC actor Darrell D'Silva accidentally shot himself in the hand. The press night of Michael Boyd's modern-dress revival of Antony and Cleopatra was delayed after D'Silva sustained an unspecified injury from a stage gun during a technical rehearsal and subsequently required surgery. In Vienna in 2008 an actor, required to slit his own throat in a production of Schiller's Mary Stuart, discovered that the knife that he was using was not a blunt prop, but razor sharp. Unaware that what they were witnessing was real, the audience were obviously deeply impressed by the authenticity of his acting. Fortunately the actor survived. Last year, rehearsals for an amateur production of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men in Florida came to an abrupt halt when one actor accidentally shot off another's ear. He lived to tell the tale, which wasn't the case with Chung Ling Soo, known as "the marvellous Chinese conjuror", who was shot dead by his own assistants at the Wood Green Empire in 1918 while attempting to catch two bullets in his teeth. Meanwhile productions of Macbeth appear to have the highest incident rate.
In 1948, Diana Wynard fell 15 feet into a pit during a production of The Scottish Play when she walked off the stage with her eyes closed in the sleepwalking scene. A century earlier 23 audience members were trampled to death when a riot broke out during a performance of Macbeth in Astor Place, New York At the Old Vic production of Macbeth in 1937 a 25lb weight fell from the ceiling and missed Laurence Olivier by inches. Old Vic founder Lilian Baylis died on the night of the final dress rehearsal. In 1990 at Hampstead's Pentameter Theatre the plastic retractable dagger failed to retract and Lady Macduff (Dr Annabel Joyce) had to go to hospital. She made a full recovery. And just reported now,
Two women from Kansas City, MO, who attended the Nov. 23, 2009, performance of Billy Elliot The Musical have filed a $4 million lawsuit over injuries sustained while watching the hit musical, according to the New York Post.
While sitting in the front row at the Imperial Theatre, Elaine Rosen and Cynthia Noblit were hit in the face by a prop that flew off the stage during a production number prior to the end of the musical's first act.
Both were taken to a hospital following the incident. Fifty-four year-old Rosen now has a "permanent scar" on her face, according to her lawyer Steven Halperin, while 60-year-old Noblit suffered a concussion. The lawyer told the Post that the production had invited both women to return to the musical; the staging of the first act production number has also been modified to avoid any future incidents. The lawsuit, according to the Post, charges the show's producers, Billy Broadway and NBC Universal, with "'general negligence' for 'arranging a hazardous and dangerous choreography' and 'failing to give . . . any notice or warning' to the audience."
Billy Elliot, winner of ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical, continues to play Broadway's Imperial Theatre. And on a personal, mention of "The Scottish Play's name" on stage proved to be very unlucky for my production of "Edgar Alan and Poe" and it caused a whole rafter of bad luck things-- but such is life. Happy Birthday to Harold arlen and on this day in 1986, show business lost the late great
and absolutely amazing Ethel Merman: the only singer in the world that could hold a note longer than Chase Manhattan Bank.

Monday, February 14, 2011

GOODBYE CALIFORNIA, HELLO FLORIDA


It's been a while since I've written here and sadly I must report that for the first time in my entire life, I had a scheduled production cancelled. That's the bad news. The good news is that we have one of the same show coming up in Florida in late August of 2011. The lessons were many. First I must realize that Los Angeles Actors are not what once they were. They don't want to work that hard because they are of "the movie shoot" mentality. A "movie shoot mentality" means that they don't really have any real reason to memorize lines. Everything's on a cue card. The great Marlon Brando never memorized a script after "On The Waterfront" He had crib notes always. A very funny true story happened during the filming of "The Godfather" with Francis Ford Coppola. A very brief scene was to be filmed and Brando discovered that his crib notes were missing from the set. He got very angry and wanted to know where they were. A frustrated Francis Coppola said "But Marlon, you only have one word to say-- "It's the word "Yes". How could you possibly screw that up?" In his classic raspy whispery "Godfather" voice brando replied "I Could say "No". Los Angeles actors today simply do not have the discipline, the devotion and the hard work mentality that they once did -- like back in 1984 and 1989 when I was really producing plays. They have expensive I pods but not relliable internet connections. They have the latest computer programs but not printers. They complain at more things-- even when there is payment for them that sure beats the old do it for the art. This group was actually afraid that references in the show to the late great Milton Berle and the very much alive (but apparently not known in California) Stephen Sondhiem was going to cause people to laugh at them in ridicule. In future, I will be interviewing actors very carefuly. No longer wil it be "actors who sing" it will be "singers that act". And it will be actors who have less conflicts than windows for opportunity. It wil be actors who can come to a rehearsal without texting all night which in my opinion zaps mental concentration. It will be singing actors who can read music and can hear a Midi rendition of a tune and be able to rehearse it. No more divas-- male or female. Maybe I should put the same sign that my friend Kenny Loggins put on the door of the "We Are The World" recording. That sign said "Leave your ego at the door, or leave you card and get the hell out." Pretty strong words. The other lesson is to not allow a fraternity of actors from another show to be in another. Bad news. The actors in this group will be "all for one" and thus they wil be the first to cause trouble. And the last lesson: give more time for rehearsal! So on to Florida we go. Evidently that's where the really professional actor has gone to. Los Angeles actors are a lot lazy--and they could never pull this crap in New York City!

Friday, January 14, 2011

ALADDIN FLIES AGAIN




One of my all time favorite Disney scores is Aladdin written by Alan Menken with lyrics by the oh-so-missed Howard Ashamn who passed from this weary world in 1992. Disneyland's California Adventure where our friend Brandon Pohl stars as Aladdin four times a week. Brandon had been cast in our latest musical "The Bremen Town Boys" (please see our web site: http://www.brementownboys.com/ ) but he had to bow out due to scheduling restraints. Now we learn that Tony Award nominee Casey Nicholaw will stage the world-premiere, two-act stage musical adaptation of the Academy Award-winning Disney film Aladdin at the 5th Avenue Theatre this summer. The new stage adaptation will incorporate the Oscar-winning songs from the 1992 film, penned by composer Alan Menken and lyricists Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Aladdin will also have a new book by Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), who will pen new lyrics along with Menken. Aladdin will debut July 7-31 with direction and choreography by Nicholaw. The pilot production will be used to launch the new two-act version as a licensable property for professional and amateur organizations through Music Theatre International, which handles rights for Disney Theatrical titles. The new stage production of Aladdin will feature cut songs and moments from early drafts of the property. "Proud of Your Boy," a popular song with lyrics by Ashman, was originally cut from previous drafts and could make its debut in Seattle.Aladdin marks a return to Alan Menkins and Howard Ashman's original vision: a loving homage to the Hope-Crosby road pictures with a score invoking the jazz sound of stars like Cab Calloway and Fats Waller." The new Seattle production will not be the first time that Disney has let the genie out of the bottle besides California Adventure's daily runs , Houston's Theatre Under the Stars debuted a pilot production of a dual-language version of Aladdin in 2009.
Other versions of Disney's Aladdin have been available for years through MTI's Kids and Junior series, which offers pared down versions of stage musicals, geared toward youth theatre performers and young audiences. Disney has also previously developed "Mulan," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland" and "High School Musical" for its youth theatre series. Disney is also at work on a theatrical adaptation of its 1992 live-action film "Newsies," which also features a score by Menken and a new book by Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein. Yeah for Harvey! His magic will make it come alive! The property has been sought after by numerous schools and theatre groups across the country for years, and will likely receive its own pilot staging in the near future prior to being released as part of Disney's theatrical licensing catalogue. But right now, the new production is not aimed at Broadway, but licensing for schools and colleges. Our own show "The Bremen Town Boys" continues its rehearsal process and we have a wonderful director who is simply brilliant. Her name is Cat Deobler. The weather here in California has actually gotten over it's terrible cold spell. I actually have my front door open as I write this. That would have been stupid only four days ago. My new little cat "Joshua" is a real character, himself. He's a Siamese-Rag Doll mix and has more personality than some people I know.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

GYPSY ROSE LEE'S 100TH BIRTHDAY


I remember Gypsy Rose Lee as a young man-- she was certainly a hoot to watch on television. Watching the musical "Gypsy" is always entertaining for me. But her life in the later years is even more interesting than the story the musical tells. As late as 1948, Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister June Havoc continued to get demands for money from their mother, who had opened a boardinghouse for women in a 10-room apartment on West End Avenue in New York City (the property rented for her by Gypsy, herself), as well as a farm in Highland Mills, New York. Not bad-- a farm and a boarding house together! Good old Mama Rose shot and killed one of her guests who was actually Mama Rose's female lover who had made a pass at Gypsy, according to an account provided by Gypsy's son, Erik Lee Preminger). The incident was explained away as a suicide and Rose was not prosecuted. Mama Rose died in 1954 of colon cancer With their mother dead, the sisters now felt free to write about her without risking a lawsuit. Gypsy's memoirs, titled Gypsy, were published in 1957 and were taken as inspirational material for the Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim, and Arthur Laurents musical Gypsy: A Musical Fable. June Havoc did not like the way she was portrayed in the piece, but she was eventually persuaded (and paid) not to oppose it in public for her sister's sake. The play and the subsequent movie deal assured Gypsy a steady income. The sisters became estranged and didn't speak for years. June, in turn, wrote the novel "Early Havoc" and "More Havoc",relating her version of the story. Gypsy Rose Lee went on to host a morning San Francisco KGO-TV television talk show, Gypsy. She was diagnosed in 1969 with metastatic lung cancer, which prompted her to reconcile with June before her death. "This is my present, you know," \she reportedly told June, " this is my present from Mother".
The walls of her Los Angeles home were adorned with pictures by Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, and Dorothea Tanning, all of which were reportedly gifts to her by the artists themselves. Like Picasso, she was a supporter of the Popular Front movement in the Spanish Civil War and raised money for charity to alleviate the suffering of Spanish children during the conflict. She also founded one of the first kennels dedicated to breeding Chinese Crested dogs in the U.S, "Lee", which was sold after her death to Mrs. Ida Garrett and Debora Wood. Gypsy Rose Lee died of lung cancer in Los Angeles in 1970. She is buried Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California
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