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TONY BENNETT SAVED A BROADWAY MUSICAL
WHILE STEPHEN SONDHEIM CHANGED A SUCCESSFUL CONCEPT
Didier Deutsch - in addition to his activities as a record producer, continues to be a presence
on Broadway, each season reviewing the new musical productions for the German publication Musicals
and for the French-language Opérette/Théâtre Musical. He has been covering the
Broadway musical scene for more than 45 years
Didier C. Deutsch
was nominated for a Grammy in 1995 for his production of the 12-CD Frank Sinatra: The
Columbia Years (1943–1952) – The Complete Recordings, the most ambitious project ever
initiated by Columbia Records at the time. He was nominated for another Grammy in 2001 for
the Columbia/Legacy 26-CD set, Soundtrack For A Century. Since 1986, when he joined
Legacy Records, Deutsch has produced more than 600 titles in fields as varied as pop, jazz,
big bands, classical, soundtracks and Broadway shows.
In a taped interview requested and set-up by Masterworks Broadway, Deutsch spoke with Broadway To Vegas about the importance of the Broadway cast album.
"Tony Bennett claims - and quite justifiably - that Kismet was a big Broadway hit
because he recorded Stranger In Paradise. When the show opened on Broadway there
was a newspaper strike. As a result, people knew nothing about whether it was good or bad.
There was nothing on television that covered Broadway at the time, so the only thing
they could reply on were newspapers and they were not publishing, However, on the radio
they heard Tony Bennett singing Stranger in Paradise, which he had recorded."
Kismet written in 1953 by Robert Wright and George Forrest, adapted from the music
of Alexander Borodin, premiered on Broadway December 3, 1953 at the Ziegfeld Theatre.
Directed by Albert Marre, the production enjoyed a successful run of 583 performances and
took home the Tony. Columbia Masterworks Records recorded the original Broadway cast in
late 1953; the recording was later reissued on CD by Masterworks Broadway Records.
"At the time when Columbia Records/RCA optioned a cast album,
they immediately rushed their pop stars into the studio to cut pop versions
of the most promising hits," explained Deutsch as to why Bennett had a song out before the
"People were not aware of the fact that there was a show called Kismet on
Broadway, but they kept hearing that song by Tony Bennett. Curious, they
went to see the show. By the time the newspapers started publishing
again, people realized there was this hit on Broadway. When Tony Bennett
says he saved the show, it is absolutely accurate."
"We do not have this situation now-a-days because, unfortunately,
since 1970 there has been a trend to write shows
or songs not created outside of the book, as potential popular hits, but integrated
into the book. Also, the radio format has changed.
Those two things combined, created the potential of the popular hit to disappear."
"Stephen Sondheim was responsible for that. I love Sondheim. I produced
that boxed set which I couldn't have done without his contribution of advice. I really
love the man because he changed Broadway in a good way - but also in a bad way. With
the exception of Send In The Clowns, he has not written a tune that could be
extracted from any of his shows to become a popular hit."
Stephen Sondheim changed the direction composers wrote for Broadway
"That's because that's the way he creates a show. Unfortunately, many people followed in
his steps. They did not want to do the same thing as Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner
and Lowe. They decided that Sondheim was a new trend, so they followed him."
"All of the new creators for Broadway have turned from the pop field and written very
specifically for the book. In that sense they are rejoining what had been done
in earlier days for the opera. The Broadway musical started as a lightweight form of entertainment - a hybrid of the old time operetta, which was considered dispensable by people nurtured on classical music. Now-a-days it is coming back to the format that was the opera - creating songs that were so completely integrated into the book that it is difficult to extract them and make them into pop tunes."
"Given the fact that the pop music field has changed tremendously, you can't leave the
theater humming a tune. Billy Elliot - can you hum any song? Not a one. It could have
been a straight
"And," he laughed, "you cannot leave the theater humming the scenery."
Why even bother with the cast album? Where is the market?
"It's a complex question to answer. Why Broadway cast album recordings? Broadway is a vibrant,
if limited, form of entertainment. Don't get me wrong. When I say limited, I don't mean that
it is limited in scope. It's limited in appeal in the marketplace."
"It primarily appeals to people who are interested in live theater. Though
there are many who are interested in live theater, it does not reach out to the masses.
However, there are people who are coming to New York very specifically to see a Broadway show
because it's the thing to do. When you go to Paris, you see the Eiffel Tower. In New York
- you go to see a Broadway show. There
are two ways to perpetuate
the popularity of a running Broadway show. One is word of mouth or
reviews. They have read about Wicked, so they are interested in seeing it. That's one
The other thing is the Broadway cast album."
"The Broadway cast album is a reflection of what people see on stage, a memento for those who have seen the show. For others, an occasion to get acquainted
with the show before they see it. Not all Broadway cast albums are
successful," he conceded.
"But, I'm taking a different view, at this point. Let's take a Broadway show
that was a flop. I'm talking about Anyone Can Whistle. That came
out in 1964. Ran for nine performances and closed."
The record producer was Goddard Lieberson who was president of Columbia Records.
Goddard Lieberson and Stephen Sondheim. Photo: MasterworksBroadway.com
Under the leadership of Lieberson, the label's cast recordings came to define
the genre. Columbia Masterworks produced the original cast recordings of
such shows as The Pajama Game; My Fair Lady; The Sound of Music; West Side Story;
Gypsy and Anyone Can Whistle.
"He recognized that Anyone Can Whistle was a flop, but also recognized that the
composer Steven Sondheim was someone who deserved to be considered as something more than
a flop," explained Deutsch.
"Obviously, there was something in the score that appealed
to Goddard Lieberson. He recorded the show, even though he could have walked away from the contract he had signed with the composer, since there is an option that says if the show is not running, the label can walk away from the recording session."
That was the issue with the famous Harry Connick, Jr's dust up over the critically
dismissed 2001 Lincoln Center Theater production of Thou Shalt Not, which Broadway To
Vegas maintains was a victim of 9/11 as much as anything else. (
See Broadway To Vegas column of October28, 2001 )
Thou Shalt Not is a musical based on dealing with
the consequences involved in the breaking of several Commandments, namely the sixth and seventh - the ones about not killing or committing adultery. After 22 previews which had been delayed a week due to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the musical opened at the Plymouth Theatre on October 25, 2001, received mostly negative reviews and closed after 85 performances.
Sony backed out of recording Thou Shalt Not, which ticked off Connick to the point
recorded the show at his own expense.
The unsuccessful Sweet Smell of Success
was another musical which Sony had tried to extricate itself from its signed commitment.
The show had received negatives reviews during a pre-Broadway run in Chicago.
In the end, Sony decided not to invoke the escape clause and a cast album
"A Broadway cast album will primarily thrive on the popularity of the show on the boards," emphasized Deutsch.
"If the show is no longer on the boards there is a contract escape clause. Cast albums
are a large investment - $600,000-700,000 to make a good recording."
Harry Connick, Jr.
"Harry Connick is a different story," continued Deutsch. "He's a frontline artist
for Columbia. They decided to get involved in the (Thou Shalt Not) recording
because it was part
of the contract with Harry Connick, Jr.
Then he came back with Pajama Game, which was quite successful
and recorded by Columbia."
was packaged with a second disc of songs Connick wrote for the failed 2001
Thou Shalt Not, not to be
confused with Connick's self produced 2002 cast album.
In addition to the composer, is the star a factor in contracting to record the cast album?
"It makes a difference," he admitted. "When you consider recording a show where you don't
have a star that is under contract to your label, you consider the possibility of a hit;
whether there is a major star starring or a composer who already has a track record. Or,
word of mouth indicate that this show will become quite successful. Of course labels are first looking at properties that will generate income."
One of the bright lights under contract to Masterworks
is Kristen Chenoweth.
A current Broadway trend is the juke-box musical, which causes critics to gag.
"A lot of pop songs create the juke-box musical. I have not yet seen Million Dollar
Quartet. I am going
tomorrow," he commented last Tuesday. "We are going back to Broadway staging jukebox musicals,
which is a farce. The only one so far which, to me, has meant something was Rock of Ages. That was an original concept around songs you often here, but you were invited to a concert, not to a Broadway musical."
Jersey Boys stands out as the juke-box musical exception.
"Jersey Boys was very vivid," declared Deutsch. "The songs were not chosen at
random to fit a book that had no relation with the songs themselves.
The songs were used as part of the book that describes something that
actually happened. They managed to bring in reasonable facsimiles
The Four Seasons. As a result, the show itself is a valid entity. It is actually a
Broadway musical. Granted, it is a jukebox musical, but there is a book that is solid not
dependent upon the songs. The songs are integrated into the book, so it becomes a
Is the strength and validity of the book the key to creating a successful Broadway
"Yes. Ring of Fire to me was a disaster," he said referring
to the musical based upon the music of Johnny Cash. "Again, if I want to listen
to Johnny Cash, I'll listen to my collection. I'm not going to go to the theater to see
someone who is impersonating (a star) into a book that doesn't make any sense."
Conductor Ray Charles and leprechaun David Wayne
recording the original cast album of Finian's
Rainbow. Photo: MasterworksBroadway.com
Deutsch says the significance of the juke-box musical trend is that "we are going
back to shows where you can leave the theater with a song running through your mind."
"I was terrible sorry to see Finian's Rainbow close, because it was a very
entertaining show. Very well done. It harkened back to the days of yore when
musicals were funny and musical."
"Some record companies back musicals. Universal invested in Wicked. They invested
in The Addams Family. I saw The Addams Family and, for all its faults, I enjoyed it tremendously.
A major fault in today's market is the fact the entire
Broadway scene relies on the opinion of one man - Ben Brantley," he complained about the
chief theater critic of the New York Times. "He is an excellent writer
and has an opinion. But, to me, The Addams Family should have been reviewed by
Isherwood, who probably would have enjoyed it," speculated Deutsch about Charles Isherwood,
another New York Times drama critic.
"I thought The Addams Family was amusing," continued Deutsch. "Outside of the overture
and a couple
of tunes in the Second Act, I think the weakest aspect of that musical
is Andrew Lippa's score. But to me, its macabre was very funny.
Outside of two or three exceptions, the score was terrible," reiterated Deutsch. "The songs became
a secondary aspect of the show. The puppets are fabulous. Decca Broadway will do a recording. They invested in the show."
"If I am going to spend $127 for a ticket - which I don't usually because I can go and see the shows for nothing -
but if I am going to spend that kind of money, I want to be entertained.
(Full disclosure: Broadway To Vegas receives press invitations and free tickets to
off-Broadway shows, as well as albums-which has no impact on coverage).
"I did not like Wicked," he said of the Tony Award winning musical which
received mixed reviews and was panned by The New York Times. Wicked
has gone on to break box office
records around the world, holding weekly-gross-takings records in New York,
Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, and London, and the record for biggest
opening in the West End in the first hour on sale. Both the West End production
and the North American tour have been seen by over two million patrons.
Broadway To Vegas raved about the original Decca Broadway cast CD. ( See Broadway To Vegas column of December 14, 2003 )
Another shows in his cross-hairs is Come Fly Away.
Come Fly Away, is a so called musical based on the songs
of Frank Sinatra. Quite frankly, I would have better enjoyed looking at Dancing
with the Stars on television and listening to the songs of Frank Sinatra on my
player," he laughed.
Susan Stroman is called "imaginative" by Deutsch
Susan Stroman is the one who broke the singing requirement barrier in Broadway
musicals with her Tony-award winning dance/play Contact.
"Absolutely," agreed Deutsch. "Susan Stroman is very imaginative. Twyla Tharp, I'm sorry, I don't understand her."
Come Fly Away has the backing of the Sinatra family.
"I don't care," he responded. "To me, it's not a good show."
Deutsch was nominated for a Grammy in 1995 for his production of the 12-CD Frank Sinatra:
The Columbia Years (1943–1952) – The Complete Recordings, the most ambitious project ever initiated by Columbia Records at the time.
What influence did the Sinatra family have when you did the Sinatra box set?
"None," he laughed. "Let me correct that," he immediately added. "There is a
story about Sinatra and Columbia records. Sinatra came to Columbia Records as a solo
singer. He was at the Paramount and was the new kid on the block and became a
big star after he fronted bands - Harry James and Tommy Dorsey. From 1943 to 1952
he recorded very specifically for Columbia Records. During that time he established
a relationship with Mitch Miller."
"Mitch Miller, for all the things he did right - bringing a lot of money
to Columbia Records
- forced his artists to sing things that were totally wrong. The great fault of Mitch Miller
is that when he became head of A&R at Columbia Records he turned his back on
the songs created by the great song writers of America. He focused on
songs that meant absolutely nothing, but became one night wonders and made a lot of money for
Quite frankly, who wants Come On-A My House or Mama Will Bark?
It is drivel, nonsense."
Insulting to the artist?
"Exactly. As a result tension was created between Sinatra, who wanted
to control what he was doing, and Mitch Miller, who decided that he - Mitch Miller - should
control. Sinatra didn't
want Mitch Miller interfering with the recording sessions. In fact, he
threw Mitch Miller out of the studio at one time because Mitch Miller ignored what Sinatra was saying and kept talking to the musicians."
"Obviously the situation degraded," continued Deutsch. "Sinatra fell on hard times in 1952. He
had vocal problems. He had divorced Ava Gardner. Things were not going very well
for him. He left Columbia, signed with Capitol and his career soared ten times bigger
than it ever was. The minute he walked away, Mitch Miller decided to release some
of the unreleased tracks. First, he overlaid on most of them which Sinatra hated,
because Sinatra liked the natural sound of the studio recording. Then Mitch Miller
released songs that Sinatra had recorded that he was not happy about - Mama Will
Bark is an example."
Mama Will Bark is a novelty song written by Dick Manning and performed as a duet
Sinatra and Dagmar in 1951. Mitch Miller became intrigued by the comic chemistry he
perceived between Sinatra and Dagmar during her appearances on Sinatra's CBS television
program, The Frank Sinatra Show. The recording features off-key singing by Dagmar
and sound effects of dogs barking.
Nonetheless, the single was a hit, nearly reaching the Top 20 on the Billboard singles chart, peaking at #21.
"As a result, the tension between Columbia and Frank Sinatra further degraded," continued
"to the point that when I began working on the box set in 1990, Sinatra's business manager,
Sonny Golden, wrote and said; 'I don't want you to do the box.'"
Undaunted, Deutsch took a different tactic.
"We sent him tracks of what we wanted to do. Out of those he eliminated about 50 percent,
including songs that had legitimately already been released. Sonny Golden was brought
into the studio one day by Frank Military, who used to run Warner Chappell.
and I had been working together on other projects. So, he knew where I was coming
"Sonny sat in the studio while we played back some of the work we had done on Frank Sinatra,
with an eye, of course, on eventually doing the boxed set. For about an hour Sonny Golden sat
there - didn't say a word. Sonny Golden
was about 64, a very tall, imposing man. Suddenly he got up to leave. All
he said was - 'You're doing a good job.'
The following day we got an authorization to release everything - including Mama Will
"The real vindication came in the form of an introduction to the box set that
Sinatra wrote, saying he was glad the recordings were coming out. There was a total change
"Eventually, I did get to know Nancy Sinatra, his daughter. I never met
Tina, but she called us one day to congratulate us on the quality
of the recordings. So, there has been some kind of a pleasant
relationship between the Sinatra estate and Columbia Records."
Born and raised in France, Deutsch taught himself English and immigrated to
New York in 1962. In 1973, following some years in public relations in the private sector, Deutsch became publicity director at CTI Records,
the jazz label created by producer Creed Taylor, and worked with artists like George Benson, Bob James, Grover Washington, Jr.,
Freddie Hubbard, Paul Desmond, and Chet Baker, among many others.
In a career that has since entirely focused on the music side of the business, Deutsch held various publicity and managerial positions at
Tappan Zee, RCA, WEA International, and Atlantic. While at that label, in 1991, he produced the 4-CD boxed set MJQ 40,
marking the Modern Jazz Quartet’s 40 years in the music business.
Simultaneously, he began working for Legacy, the reissue label controlled by
Columbia Records, now Sony Music. In addition
to the Frank Sinatra box set, he produced the 4-CD Tony Bennett: 40 Years
Of Artistry, marking the singer’s 40 years
in the industry (later updated to 5 CDs to mark Bennett’s 50th anniversary as a
recording artist); another 4-CD
set, Johnny Mathis: Portrait Of The Artist, a 5-CD box set celebrating Broadway: The American Musical,
in conjunction with the PBS special of the same name shown in 2004; and Sondheim: The Story So Far..., a career
retrospective of the celebrated Broadway composer, which was released in 2008.
He laughs when he refers to himself as "the oldest member of the team" that has created
MasterworksBroadway.com, a division which documents the history of the cast album from Finian's Rainbow
(1947) to last year’s Tony Award-winning revival of West Side Story.
"All of the others
are young people who are devoted to Broadway. I was brought in because of my knowledge of
There are several companies recording Broadway cast albums. Are you running each other out of business?
"Oh, absolutely not," was the quick response from the man who is the first to buy
the competitor's product.
"At this point there are two majors - Columbia/Sony and Decca Broadway. And, a sprinkling
of smaller labels, PS Classics, Ghostlight and Sh-K-Boom," who try to produce Broadway records.
To me, it's a very valid concept. Every time a new Broadway cast recording is released,
if it is not on my label, I'll automatically acquire it. I'll want to listen to the
PS Classics' roster includes the cast recording releases of the recent revival of
Finian's Rainbow and A Little Night Music, as well as Grey Gardens, Nine, Assassins and Company.
Sh-K-Boom Records (pronounced Shikaboom) was created by Kurt Deutsch, an actor
who started Sh-K-Boom to produce and market his wife's first solo CD. She is Sherie René Scott,
who was a star of the two person The Last Five Years, which was Sh-K-Boom's first
original cast album release.
The musical closed quickly Off Broadway, even though it possessed what many people
in the theater business considered the most original score of the season -
by the young Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown.
Since then the independent label's releases
have included the original Broadway cast albums for the critically acclaimed Passing Strange as well as the smash hit
and winner of the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical In the Heights, which
debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Cast Albums chart and arrived on The
Billboard 200 at No. 82.
Are you any relation to Kurt Deutsch?
"None. Surprisingly, we have never met. I know of him and I suppose he knows of me.
To tell you the truth, if you're looking at the Manhattan Directory there are four or five
pages of Deutsch's all over the place."
In the glory days of vocalists headlining Vegas stages, singers regularly released
albums which were recorded during live performances - Elvis Presley, Steve & Eydie,
Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tom Jones, Jimmy Buffet, Sonny & Cher, Paul Anka, Freddy Fender,
Sarah Brightman, Engelbert Humperdinck, Bee Gees - even separate releases by Telly Savalas and
Noel Coward - to name a few. The stages would be miked for recordings with usually two shows recorded, so the best could be selected.
The audience was advised the show was being recorded. Patrons were asked to behave normally,
but not to scream out any comments or deliberately rattle chairs or glasses.
Broadway cast recordings are almost always studio recordings rather than live recordings. The
recorded song lyrics and orchestrations are identical (or very similar to) those of the
songs as performed in the theatre. Like any studio performance, the recording is of
course an idealized rendering, more glossily perfect than any live performance
could be, and without audible audience reaction. Nevertheless,
the listener who has attended the live show expects it to be
an accurate souvenir of the experience.
Cabaret has been considered the poor, second-cousin step-child to Broadway. Cabaret artists
can feel pressured to produce a live performance album. Many of the efforts sound
like a middle school performing arts' class project. The CD could be considered an 'accurate souvenir of the
experience' by only the most die-hard fan.
"Cabaret performers, literally speaking, are naked in the world," responded Deutsch. "They come
to cabaret. They perform. They believe in what they are doing. Particularly in
this market, there is no back up. They don't have anyone to tell them what
they should be doing. How they should be performing. Also, the cabaret scene is even
smaller than the Broadway scene."
Michael Feinstein is the exception to the rule. Photo: Phil Konstantin
"Most often, unless they are signed to a small label, those performers do recordings on
their own, presumably trying to get the technicians that will do the right thing for them.
It costs money. If you don't have the financial back-up, you start cutting corners.
It can be very expensive
to prepare a recording that you will sell. And, where are you going to sell it?
Not in a record store,
because record stores do not exist any more. You're not going to sell it on Amazon or
iTunes. They have to sell it
in a cabaret," he said referring to peddling your wares to the customers
as they leave your performance - a marketing approach successfully started by
literally selling their albums from the trunk of their cars.
"The country artists benefited because there is a huge segment of the
population, particularly in the south, that loves country music. Country has a market. Cabaret, there is no market."
"Unless you're Michael Feinstein who
is the only one signed to a legitimate label," added Deutsch. "He's a totally separate issue."
Deutsch named a couple of well known cabaret stars. "Even they have difficulty finding people
who (financially) back their recordings. And, where are they going to sell it? That is
CLARIFICATION: On April 19, citing personal reasons, Didier Deutsch politely requested that
some of his accurate quotes be deleted. His request was granted, without significance to the subject matter -the Broadway cast album.
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ART AND ABOUT
CHIHULY AT THE SALK
Measuring 15 feet tall, The Sun is a massing of bright orange and yellow hand-blown glass forms
protruding from a steel core. Photo by Terry Rishel.
The bold iconic laboratory buildings of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies will receive
a dramatic jolt of colorful artwork April 22-27 when the Institute in La Jolla, Calif. kicks
off its 50th anniversary celebration with Chihuly at the Salk - an outdoor installation by
artist Dale Chihuly
The artwork will be positioned throughout the grounds of the Salk Institute which was designed
by famed American architect Louis Kahn.
Measuring 15 feet tall, The Sun is a massing of bright orange and yellow hand-blown
glass forms protruding from a steel core. Born out of Chihuly's Chandeliers
(the artist imagined what his Chandeliers would look like if they were turned upside
down), The Sun is also an engineering feat for the studio. "If you take a thousand blown pieces of a color, put them together, and then shoot light through them, that's going to be something to look at," says Chihuly. "It's mysterious, defying gravity or seemingly out of place - like something you have never seen before."
Featuring blown-glass pieces ranging from white to light and neon pink, White Tower
is made up of chandelier parts in a traditional Czech motif. Standing 15 feet tall, the
components of this piece were blown in the Czech Republic.
Among the other Chihuly series works on display will include Niijima Floats, large spheres -
up to 40 inches in diameter and approximately 60 pounds - with surfaces richly colored in
gold and silver leaf and foil; Chandeliers, large hanging sculptures assembled from hundreds
of colorful, tentacle-like glass components; and Reeds, translucent spears that appear to
jut out from the ground.
To commemorate the celebratory event, the artist created a poster that depicts one of his
most-recognized sculptures, The Sun flanked by the Institute's iconic buildings.
The work serves as an installation-specific symbol of the collaboration between Chihuly and
the Salk Institute.
An April 25th lecture and book signing with Dale Chihuly includes optional
A master glass blower from Seattle, Chihuly has led the avant-garde in the development
of glass as a fine art. His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide,
including the lobby of the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
BOUQUETS TO ART
Elemental by Waterlily Pond Studio, 2009. Photo by Erin Beach Photography
the 26th annual exhibition, featuring 150 floral displays interpreting the museum’s permanent collection, returns to the de Young Museum, April 20–24.
This year’s glorious annual flower festival, sponsored by the San Francisco Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums, celebrates the upcoming landmark exhibitions from the Musée d’Orsay that will be on view at the de Young this year. Looking ahead to these two signal exhibitions, Bouquets to Art 2010 adopts French Impressions as its theme.
The opening night gala and preview takes place Monday, April 19 at the de young in San Francisco. The evening features catering by McCall Associates, live music by the Moodswing Orchestra, and Floral Fashions, a presentation by local design students of clothing crafted from flowers.
Bouquets to Art raises funds for special exhibitions, acquisitions, and education programs.
SPREADING THE WORD
29th ANNUAL WILLIAM INGE THEATRE FESTIVAL in Independence, Kansas opens Wednesday 21. On Saturday, April 24 Paula Vogel, the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright is honored with a star-studded multi-media celebration to Vogel’s many renowned plays. Titled A Hot Waltz with Paula,” the tribute is directed by Esquire Jauchem.
The Festival opens Wednesday April 21 with A Civil War Christmas, written by
Vogel and directed by Mark Brokaw. Inspired by actual events of Christmas Eve 1864, the story intermingles the tales of ordinary soldiers and civilians with President and Mrs. Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, Clara Barton, and other historical figures.
On April 22, the Festival hosts A Musical Gala Dinner. The 2009 Honoree,
Tom Jones (The Fantasticks; 110 in the Shade) returns to the Festival.
Jones and special guests will perform his song cycle Time Goes By:
A Few Amusing Songs about Aging and Death, in a tongue-in-cheek revue.
The multi-talented Anika Noni Rose - Grammy nominated singer, Tony Award-winning actress - is on stage at the William Inge Theatre Festival to undertake one of the most anticipated new roles of theater today - featured in The Mountaintop.
The Mountaintop takes place in Memphis, Tenn., April 3, 1968. Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr., has returned to the Lorraine Motel after
delivering his stirring speech “I've Been to the Mountaintop” to a
church congregation. In an imagined scenario, Dr. King encounters a hotel
maid (Noni Rose), whose identity is puzzling, which leads him to
confront his past and his legacy.
Written by Katori Hall, the production had its London world premiere in June 2009,
which subsequently transferred to the West End earning Hall the Best New Play
honor of the 2010 Olivier Awards.
Veteran director Chay Yew helms the concert reading Thursday April 23.
Playwright Hall, an alumnus of both Harvard and Columbia Universities,
will be attendance and accept the Inge Festival’s Otis Guernsey New Voices
Playwriting Award. This award recognizes outstanding emerging playwrights.
The award is named for the heralded theater writer and scholar Otis L.
Guernsey Jr., a frequent visitor to the Inge Festival and an
advocate of quality new plays.
The William Inge Theatre Festival is named for the late William Inge, an Independence native who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Picnic and an Oscar for Best Screenplay for Splendor in the Grass.
FROM MAN TO MYTH: ABRAHAM LINCOLN YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW
Abraham Lincoln has been known as the Great Emancipator, the Wartime President, Honest
Abe and the Illinois Rail Splitter. But how did this regular man from humble
beginnings become an American icon - his image made to marble and remembered for
Bob Edwards, host of The Bob Edwards Show on Sirius XM Radio, moderates
a discussion on the public’s perception and collective memory of
Lincoln. Contributing panelists include Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, actor David Selby and Harry Rubenstein, curator of the museum's exhibition Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life.
Saturday, April 24; Carmichael Auditorium of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
NEXT TO NORMAL the Tom Kitt-Brian Yorkey musical which became the eighth musical to win the Pulitzer Prize.
55th ANNUAL VILLAGE VOICE OBIE AWARDS will
be co-hosted by Tony Award winners Anika Noni Rose and Michael Cerveris. The awards,
which celebrate the 2009-2010 Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway seasons, will
be held May 17 at Webster Hall in Manhattan.
Presenters for the evening will include J. Smith Cameron, Viola Davis, Marin Ireland,
Linda Lavin, Sam Rockwell, Michael Shannon, Kerry Washington and Jennifer Westfeldt.
The evening will culminate with a celebratory after-party featuring
live music and art, which will celebrate this year’s honorees.
The Obie Awards were created in 1955 by Jerry Tallmer. Past recipients include Dustin Hoffman,
Meryl Streep, William Hurt, Morgan Freeman, Mos Def, Amy Irving, Kevin Kline, Nathan Lane,
Olympia Dukakis, Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Kathy Bates, James Earl Jones,
Felicity Huffman and Harvey Fierstein, among others.
Frankie Valli has filed a lawsuit
against six former cast member of the Tony award winning musical Jersey Boys
charging that their The Boys in Concert "steals songs, stage elements and
copyrighted logos to dupe patrons into thinking it's an "authorized road company" of
the long-running Broadway hit Jersey Boys.
"Beginning with low-profile performances of songs from Jersey Boys, defendants
have now increased the scale of their performances as 'The Boys' to the point that
they now more boldly flaunt their similarity to the production," reads the suit filed
in Manhattan federal court.
Other plaintiffs include Robert Gaudio, who sang in the original group and
was its principal songwriter, and playwrights Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman.
Their suit seeks a court order ending The Boys in Concert, as well as $150,000 for
each of 10 tunes performed in the show.
Defendants in the case include Christian Hoff, who won a Tony for his performance as
Tommy DeVito in the original Jersey Boys production on Broadway, Michael Longoria,
and J. Robert Spencer.
In describing The Boys In Concert the Hoff website states:
"The Boys In Concert celebrate the music of an era that
lights up every generation. Music from The Beach Boys to
Motown... and of course... The Four Seasons!"
"As the Jersey Boys, they recorded a Grammy Award winning,
platinum selling album, performed at Radio City Music Hall,
Carnegie Hall, The U.S. Open, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day
Parade, the 62nd and 63rd Annual Tony Awards and The New
York City Marathon. They have made personal appearances on
the Late Show with David Letterman, Regis and Kelly and Dick
Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve. Now they are rocking audiences
from coast to coast."
ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2010 it was
first announced by the NY Post that Valli ended the litigation contingent upon
the actors ceasing to call themselves The Boys in Concert. The artists had 30 days to rename their show in
a way that does not "trade off of" the Broadway musical Jersey Boys.
LOVE FROM A STRANGER
Former Coronation Street actress Chloe Newsome stars with David Michaels
by Agatha Christie based on the 1924 short story Philomel Cottage. This play
hasn't been staged for more than three decades. That changed last week.
A new version by Louise Page, has opened at The Mill at Sonning Theatre in Oxfordshire,
Directed by Andy de la Tour who calls it "an intense psychological drama with very few
Love From a Stranger is a blood-curdling drama about frustrated spinster Alix
King who has been engaged for years to Dick. Dependable but dull, Dick refuses
to marry Alix until he can support her. When Alix unexpectedly inherits a fortune
Dick is too proud to accept sharing it.
Then along comes a stranger. Handsome, successful and just that little bit dangerous, Gerald sweeps her off her feet. Before you know it they are married and move into Philomel Cottage. All too soon their happiness begins to disintegrate. Strange things begin to happen and Alix suspects that the man she rushed into marrying may not be what he seems to be. And who knows, maybe Alix has some dark secrets of her own.
The cast includes former Coronation Street actress Chloe Newsome (Alix), David Michaels
(Gerald), Dido Miles, Peter Moreton and Struan Rodger.
Set Design by Terry Parsons. Costume design by Jane Kidd. Lighting design by
Performances are through May 22 at The Mill at Sonning Theatre, which is a dinner
theatre converted from an 18th century flour mill.
a new play by Oscar winner and Steppenwolf Theater Company member Eric Simonson, based
on the best-selling biography When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi,
by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss opens a pre-Broadway engagement
July 22-28 at the 690-seat Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA.
The production intends to transfer to Broadway at Circle in the Square
with previews beginning Thursday, September 23, 2010 with the official opening slated for October 21.
The production is produced in association with the NFL.
organization’s first foray on Broadway. The NFL has authorized use of its logos
and NFL Films’ footage and
music. The league will also help promote and market the play.
Tracy Perlman, the NFL’s Vice President of Entertainment Marketing and Promotions,
said, “Football and
Broadway are both iconic American forms of entertainment, and the NFL is proud to bring
these two unique and
passionate audiences together under one roof. Lombardi’s charisma and coaching style
were legendary – and
intensely theatrical. Football fans will learn more about the dramatic private life of the
sports hero for whom the
Super Bowl trophy is named, and Broadway audiences will be captivated by the story of a
family chasing the
This original work will be directed by the Tony nominee Thomas Kail. Dan Lauria.
will take on the title role
of Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi, one of America’s most inspirational
and mercurial personalities. Lauria has a certain knowledge and interest in football.
He is a former football coach who
began acting while attending college on a football scholarship.
Originally this play was mounted as Lombardi/The Only Thing in fall 2007
at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, WI. Madison Repertory Theatre,
which commissioned the script and developed it during the company's fourth annual
Madison New Play Festival. However, Simonson has reapproached the material and Lombardi
is different from the one that premiered in Madison.
BENGAL TIGER AT THE BAGHDAD ZOO by Rajiv Joseph and directed by Moisés Kaufman.
The world premiere took place at the Kirk Douglas Theatre last spring.
Now enhanced for the Taper stage, this remarkable play throws two homesick soldiers, a tormented Iraqi and a brooding tiger together into a revelatory situation that is both hysterical and macabre, soul-wrenching and lyrical.
Featuring Glenn Davis, Brad Fleischer, Arian Moayed, Kevin Tighe, Hrach Titizian, Sheila Vand and Necar Zadegan.
Scenic Design by Derek McLane.
Costume Design by David Zim.
Lighting Design by David Lander.
Sound Design by Cricket S. Myers and Music by Kathryn Bostic.
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo has been selected as an NEA Outstanding New American Play as part of the NEA New Play Development Program, hosted by Arena Stage. It is also a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award. Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a finalist 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Through May 30 at the Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center in Los Angeles.
CREDITORS by August Strindberg, in a new version by David Greig. This darkly comic tale is considered Strindberg’s most mature work. Directed by Alan Rickman.
Vengeance, jealousy, and psychological warfare grind at the core of August Strindberg’s Creditors in a new version by playwright David Greig. The Donmar Warehouse’s production—direct from a sold-out run in London—is a fiercely modern take on one of Strindberg’s more fervent explorations of the battle between the sexes.
Anxiously awaiting the return of his new wife Tekla (Anna Chancellor), Adolph (Tom Burke) finds solace in the words of a stranger (Owen Teale), but comfort soon turns to destruction as old wounds are opened, insecurities are laid bare, and former debts are settled.
Set design by Ben Stones.
Costume design by Fotini Dimou.
Lighting design by Howard Harrison.
Composer and sound design by Adam Cork.
Presented by BAM and Donmar Warehouse. Through May 16 at BAM Harvey Theater. Brooklyn, NY.
An artist talk with Alan Rickman takes place Tuesday, April 27, in which he will explore his attraction to this caustic 19th century drama and its relevance today.
NEW ORLEANS JAZZ AND HERITAGE FESTIVAL
kicks off this week with the singing-songwriting duo of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel
joining the Jazz Fest lineup that includes Pearl Jam, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison,
The Neville Brothers, Lionel Richie and Allman Brothers Band and Anita Bakers.
The festival is scheduled for the weekends of April 23-25 and April 29-May 2 at the Fair
Grounds Race Course. Simon and Garfunkel will be on stage on April 24.
PINK MARTINI opens a three nighter Friday, April 23, at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX.
IDINA MENDEL appears as part of the Starry Nights Program at Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville, FL on Saturday, April 24.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA with hosts Dana Lorge and Richard Skipper. Bill Zeffiro on keyboard & Jeff Carney on bass.
Guests include: Glen Charlow, Anthony Cochran, Henry Dee, Tod Hall, Rita Ellis Hammer. Wednesday, April 21 at the Iguana VIP Lounge in New York City.
JIMMY BUFFET brings his musical party
to the Ford Amphitheatre in Tampa, FL on Saturday, April 24.
NORAH JONES ob stage Monday, April 19 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, OR. On Wednesday the show is at The Fillmore in San Francisco. On Friday the tour stops at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. On Saturday she can be enjoyed at the Spreckels Theatre in San Diego.
CARRIE UNDERWOOD is in the spotlight Friday, April 23, at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI. On Saturday she's singing at the Lucas County Arena in Toledo, OH.
BON JOVI in the spotlight
Wednesday at the Sommet Center in Nashville. On Thursday the show is at the Time Warner Arena in Charlotte, NC.
JOSH RITTER on stage Saturday, April 24 at The Live Lounge in Galway, Ireland.
MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL ON TOUR
featuring pianist Kenny Barron, violinist Regina Carter, vocalist Kurt Elling and guitarist Russell Malone performing Monday, April 19, at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, CA. On Wednesday the show is at the Balboa Theatre in San Diego. Thursday the tour stops at Royce Hall in Los Angeles. Saturday finds the musicians at the Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa, CA.
PATTI LuPONE has a one night stand Saturday, April 24, at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, MD.
DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER if the volcano
ash permits her travel, is set to perform Monday, April 19, at the Vatroslav Lisinski Congress Centre in Zagreb, Croatia. On Thursday she is scheduled to sing at the Concert Hall in Athens, Greece.
Next Column: April 25 2010
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