Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: July 12, 2009
By: Laura Deni


Michael Jackson
Are Michael Jackson impersonators doing their job or cashing in on a corpse?

Linda Collins has been booking celebrity impersonators for over 20 years. Las Vegas based with her Classique Productions, she produces main showroom productions, lounge acts, special events for casinos, corporate parties, conventions, trade shows, acts for fairs and festivals, duos and solo performers as well as full production shows for theaters. She spoke with Broadway To Vegas about booking Michael Jackson impersonators so soon after his death.

"As to whether or not Michael Jackson impersonators are now going to need approval of the Jackson estate is unknown," she stated. "It's kind of like you go ahead and do what you're going to do until somebody says you can't. If an impersonator is performing as a real live person, it's legal to do that without permission. I don't know, at this point, if the Jackson estate is going to require licensing. Lucille Ball's estate does. There has been a lot of controversy with Elvis and a lot of controversy with The Rat Pack. I know we can still book Elvises without an approval from the estate. But, The Rat Pack controversy is more with a show here in Vegas than it is with the estate." See Broadway To Vegas column of October 17,1999

Are people taking advantage of Jackson's death to make a quick buck?

"There have been discussions about whether booking agents should be promoting Michael Jackson impersonators so soon after his death," she admitted. "I stepped back for a week. But, in reality, the impersonators are actors trying to make a living. They lost work because of the controversy surrounding Michael Jackson's legal problems. These guys have been starving to death. In fact, a Michael Jackson impersonator named Cy - he was probably one of the best in the country - died because he couldn't afford insulin. He actually went into a diabetic coma and passed away."

Impersonators can benefit from what ever a celebrity does, but they can also get devastatingly hurt because of something over which they had no control.

"It does go hand in hand," she said. "When the celebrity is popular, so is the impersonator. When the celebrity is not, neither is the impersonator. These Michael Jacksons - that are good - have spent years perfecting their act. It's not easy to do Michael Jackson. He's one of the toughest acts to do. They deserve to make a living."

"We're not out selling T-shirts." she declared. "We're not capitalizing on the man's death. The world is crying for Michael Jackson right now. They want to hear his music. They want to see his shows. We're actually providing a service in being able to respectfully keep the memory of Michael alive and give the audience what they want."

"And, provide a living for talented guys who, unfortunately, have been hurt by Michael's reputation. These are unfortunate circumstance, but nobody can bring him back."

"We're not a crappy T-shirt company," she reiterated. "Those companies didn't get hurt by Michael's scandals. They weren't hurt at all, because they weren't making Michael T-shirts. Now, they are capitalizing on his death. I went into a Las Vegas hotel last week and there were three vendors selling Michael Jackson T-shirts. They weren't there a month ago."

What does she look for in hiring a Michael Jackson impersonator?

"One that can sing live - that's tough to find. One that can sing, dance and looks like Michael."

While Elvis Presley basically had two looks - the young, sexy look and the older, heavy jumpsuit look, Michael had about 100 looks. Is there a Jackson look that is the most popular?

"Yes, the Thriller look is the most popular," she quickly replied.

"I am swamped right now with work requests - it's unbelievable. It's amazing how much interest their is in hiring Michael Jackson impersonators. The interest will spike and then level off, but he will be at the level of Elvis. He might even exceed that, but he will never go back to the low level of his legal troubles."

With over two decades in the business, Collins was asked whether the impersonation business is what she thought it was going to be.

"It's way more than what I thought the business was going to be when I got into it," she enthusiastically answered. "The impersonation industry is an incredibly amusing, bizarre, entertaining, fun and rewarding industry. It is all of that because, I think, the impersonators of icons that we represent - the public wants to see them and they can't because they have passed on or they are out of the price range of the public. This brings backs a fantasy and it's just good, clean fun."

Several booking agencies that specialize in Elvis impersonators, indicated they have not experienced a drop in Elvis requests since the death of Jackson. They voiced the collective opinion that Elvis and Jackson each have their own following. Some speculated that it might be possible to pitch clients a duo bill of Presley and Jackson for a diverse audience event, such as a convention or trade show banquet.

Impressionist Danny Gans, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson had deaths which involved drugs. Three search warrants have been issued in relationship to drugs in the Jackson death. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the California Attorney General's Office are now are assisting LAPD investigators.

Richard Skipper. Photo by Heather Sullivan
Richard Skipper is an impersonator/actor who has specialized in portraying Carol Channing. He is vehemently against willy-nilly pill popping. He spoke with Broadway To Vegas about a variety of issues that confront entertainers.

Why is it seemingly so easy for performers to get dependant upon so many drugs?

"I'm 48 years old and last night when I finished my show, I felt great" he told Broadway To Vegas following a July 5 cabaret performance. "I put so much energy into the show and I'm on such a high level for the entire show. After a show you are on a high, but wiped out. By the time I got home I was so tired, and yet I couldn't fall asleep. Luckily, today I didn't have anything on my calendar. But there are stars that do."

"They get desperate to sleep. If I had an early call for something, I probably would have taken a sleeping pill when I got home," he admitted.

If the star takes a sleeping pill but had an early call, do they then take something to wake up?

"Yes," he replied. "That's what happened with Judy Garland."

"Anybody who is not in this professor really has no idea what the pressure is all about," declared Skipper. "For anyone who has every had a 9-to-5 job, they might be able to relate that they may have had a day when they went to work and weren't operating on an optimum level, but it was okay. You can't do that on stage. Performers have to be at peak performance. Every star will tell you this. The longer you are in this business, people who come to see you perform expect you to top what they saw you do the last time. That's incredible pressure for a performer. Money also plays a factor. It's not enough to perform. So many people are dependant upon you filling that room."

"Then you have all of the stresses of what happens during the day," he continued about the artists who then take a prescription tranquilizer or an anti-depressant to cope with being awake.

"You are on a constant level of living up to expectations, sometimes unrealistic expectations."

"At some point every winning streak ends," he continued. "If you are a performer and accustomed to getting the best tables, and all of a sudden you go into a restaurant and are not catered to the way you once were - that is also mind blowing, stressful. Many then feel that they have lost their identity."

Collins reported that she looks for impersonators who known who they are.

"I don't know any of my Michaels that have had plastic surgery. Michael is such an icon - you always get some guys that are a little out in left field. Michael attracts strange fans and strange impersonators - just like Elvis. Now, there aren't too many weird Beatles' fans," she mused.

"Another thing that I look for when I'm looking for a Michael Jackson impersonator - same as Elvis - I'm looking for somebody who doesn't have an identity problem. They know who they are. That they are an actor portraying a part. When they come off stage they are just a regular guy. I don't want an Elvis running around thinking he really is Elvis. I don't want a Michael running around acting like he thinks that he really is Michael."

"When they walk on that stage, they are actors portraying a part," she stressed. "Or, if it is a trade show, when they walk into that booth. For the time that they are contracted, they become that character. But, when their contracting time is over, they become a regular person."

Keeping their head in their characters while plotting their feet in well grounded reality is a must for impersonators.

Carol Channing (L) and Richard Skipper as Carol Channing (R)
Skipper began his career as a stage actor becoming the preeminent Carol Channing impersonator and has now resumed a legitimate acting career, having recently completed a part in the independent film No Way Home. "I play a priest. It's a very dramatic movie. My scenes were shot in a church in Brooklyn. It was a great shoot."

Skipper admits that maintaining one's own identify and a transition back to legitimate acting can be difficult.

"I started acting when I was 13," he related. "I moved to New York City 30 years. For many years I was constantly working in theater and summer-stock. I fought performing as Carol Channing. Then I started performing, not in costume, just doing the vocals as Carol Channing. When Carol Channing came to Broadway in 1994. a friend of mine called me us and said - 'If you don't do a show while she is doing Hello Dolly!, you are missing the opportunity of a lifetime.' I did a lot of soul searching and then put an act together."

"As fate would have it, I had the opportunity to perform for Carol before I ever opened my act," he continued. "She basically said - 'Take the gauntlet and run with it.' Little did I know that this would parley itself into a 15 year career - which is nice. I've earned a living performing as Carol Channing, but I've paid a price for that. Professionally, I have lost a lot of my own identity. I don't think people see me as actor. There is a stigma that goes with impersonation and look-alikes. There are people that feel that, because someone is a look-alike, they are not that great an artist. If you're really great at what you do, number one, no one should see the work that goes into it. When people see me perform as Carol Channing, they think it is effortless. They think that I just walk out there and it just happens - which means you're good at it."

Impersonators are responsible for their own costumes, make-up and wigs. Some are members of SAG, others are not. Collins reported that most of her impersonators are not SAG.

Jim Bailey as Judy Garland
Skipper is a big fan of impersonator Jim Bailey, known for his impersonations of Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand. Bailey got his big break in Las Vegas.

"It's a thrilling experience to see Jim Bailey on stage," declared Skipper. Watching Jim Bailey is watching a master at work on stage. Jim Bailey treats his subjects with respect. What Jim Bailey does is presents them on stage as he has seen them. He doesn't embellish, and put a spin on it."

"I am not a big fan of a lot of impersonators," he admitted, "because I find that most impersonators are really doing an impersonation of other impersonations."

"When you see someone doing Bette Davis, eight times out of ten they are doing Charles Pierce's take on Bette Davis as opposed to Bette Davis," Skipper charged. Pierce who passed away in 1999, used to say that one of favorite engagements was opening for Ann-Margret in 1978 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Suzanne LaRusch impersonated Lucille Ball on ABC's The Next Best Thing. Suzanne advanced to the finals.
"Randy Allen, who died early on in the AIDS crisis, did a show called PS Bette Davis and the PS stood for Post Stroke. He was scathing. But boy was he brilliant", exclaimed Skipper. "He could do more with a raised eyebrow. He had every gesture down perfectly. He came out on stage and sat in a director's chair with a table next to him with a cigarette case. He reached over, grabbed a cigarette and started to talk. From the first word - for an hour - you were mesmerized by this guy."

"Suzanne La Rusch is doing a show where she plays Lucille Ball," continued Skipper. "That show is directed by Lucy's daughter, Lucie Arnaz. She is phenomenal," he said of the impersonation show, which has played at the Historic Boulder City theater owned by Ball's son Desi Arnaz and his wife, Amy.

While many impersonators got their start in Las Vegas and Sin City employs many impersonators within the casino and convention industries, Collins also books acts in other states.

Tony McKay as Michael Jackson
"I have a Michael Jackson tribute on August 29 at Fantasy Springs Casino in Palm Springs," she related about the show which will star impersonator Tony McKay. "He is one of the Michael's that I work with quite a bit. He also does Prince and he is great at both characters."

"A lot of these impersonators are having trouble dealing with Michael's death," stressed Collins. "They are crying. They are in mourning. I had a call from a Janet Jackson impersonator and she was crying as though she had lost her best friend. They are going through a lot of emotional trauma."

Devra Gregory is a San Diego based female Michael Jackson impersonator. As did many, she cried through the memorial service, then pulled herself together so she could perform a show Tuesday night in Long Beach.

A dancer trained in ballet and jazz, in the late 90s she was cast as a back up dancer for a female impersonator revue out of Las Vegas. "They had an opening in their second show in the Caribbean so I took that opportunity," he recalled for Broadway To Vegas. "There was a 'Michael Jackson' in that show and since all the performers were doing 'drag', male to female impersonations, the idea that MJ could be performed by a woman came to mind. That was how I decided to take that on."

Since the death of Jackson Dev reported that "the calls have been coming in non stop for DEV as MJ. I am putting together a tribute show with back up dancers so this has changed my approach, though I still do gigs solo. It is a mixed blessing, I am so sad over his death but the work has really stepped up. I have no idea if it will continue or fade, time will tell."

"As a female I have to do more concealing of my body and it gets really, really hot. I work so hard when I dance it's like performing in a sauna. A lot of people don't realize I am a woman, but when they do discover it, I have had little to no flack. Michael was so androgynous anyway."

"To perform as Michael is a huge responsibility. People know his work, now more than ever, so it is important to be accurate," declared DEV. "I am a very shy person, so holding that much attention is sometimes difficult, but just like Michael, when we get on stage everything lights up. I believe in transmitting a lot of love and positive energy to the audience because that is who Michael was. He was a Bringer of Light and simply burned out too soon. He was like two people, the man and the entertainer and I think the two were really never very comfortable with the other. He will be so dearly missed."

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Latest wax version of Michael Jackson
The only person cast in wax by Madame Tussauds more often than Michael Jackson is Queen Elizabeth II.

Last Thursday Madame Tussauds in London unveiled a new wax statue of the late superstar, which was begun about four months ago and was to have been debuted in tandem with the late singer's 50-date This Is It concert series at England's O2 Arena.

The latest wax statue marks only the 13th time the King of Pop has been recreated by Madame Tussauds. Although towards the end of his life Jackson's face looked like a dripping candle, this image has him looking in prime condition. Supposedly it was modeled after the tour poster - arms outstretched, pelvis thrusting forward, on tip toes with his trade-mark fedora pushed forward.

Madame Tussauds did an incredible job of crafting Michael Jackson's wax head
"We created the new figure to mark Jackson’s return to the stage and decided to proceed as planned in tribute to the icon. As the response to his tragic death has shown, Michael Jackson was one of the most powerful forces in contemporary music and culture and he has remained one of the most popular personalities at Madame Tussauds throughout his career," said PR Manager, Liz Edwards.

Matt Blank, spokesperson for the World Michael Jackson Network said: "The new wax figure will undoubtedly be very popular among the general public and fans alike. It is in this sad time that people need to share their grief, not just through tears but also through celebrating the life and legacy of the King of Pop."

Jackson’s new figure was created using information gathered at a sitting the singer gave in 1989, together with extensive photography and research to reflect the ‘This is It’ image. Dressed in trade mark black Fedora, white v-neck t-shirt, sparkly black jacket, white glove, black ankle length trousers, white socks and black loafers, the figure will be situated in a dedicated area in the Music Zone which will also feature some archive materials depicting the long relationship between the singer and the attraction.

established by the United States Department of State in 1964, the ART In Embassies Program is a global museum that exhibits original works of art by U.S. citizens in the public rooms of approximately 180 American diplomatic residences worldwide.

These exhibitions, with art loaned from galleries, museums, individual artists, and corporate and private collections, play an important role in our nation's public diplomacy. They provide international audiences with a sense of the quality, scope, and diversity of American art and culture through the accomplishments of some of our most important citizens, our artists.

ART's curatorial team develops thematic exhibitions in collaboration with each ambassador, taking into account the host country's artistic traditions and cultural mores. They recommend artists and works of art, negotiate all loans, and propose placement of the art within the embassy residences. After all loans are secured and the art insured, ART's registrars coordinate with professional art handlers for the assembly, packing, crating and safe shipment of each exhibition to post.

Each exhibition is on display for approximately two and one-half to three years, which coincides with the average length of an ambassador’s tenure.

Initiated in 2002, the American Artists Abroad program was created to extend ART In Embassies' exhibitions beyond the walls of U.S. diplomatic residences into local communities. Participating American artists travel to countries where their work is exhibited and engage in a series of public cultural programming activities, such as lectures, workshops, and studio visits.


Magic Mike the magician in SpongeBob costume. His legal battles have helped other performers. During kid parties Magic Mike encourages children to use the library and dictionaries. He talks about magic tricks that were performed by magicians thru history as various things were invented, showing magic tricks from caveman magicians through today's magicians
Buoyed by a federal appeals court ruling two weeks ago, which ruled in favor of a balloon artist, thus taking the air out of Seattle's curbs on street performers, the Las Vegas branch of the ACLU filed a lawsuit which accuses Las Vegas police of harassing street performers on the Las Vegas Strip.

Defendants include the Las Vegas Police Department, Sheriff Dough Gillespie, Clark County District Attorney David Rogers, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, among others.

The suit, filed last Thursday, was the result of instances involving Elvis impersonator William Jablonski and singer/guitarist Suzette Banasik.

Banasik, 45, was arrested in March for obstructing a sidewalk and operating a business without a license. She spent 12 hours in jail before prosecutors decided not to prosecute. Jablonski was cited in mid-2007 for obstructing a sidewalk while impersonating Elvis Presley.

Both Las Vegas and Seattle are located with the 9th District Court of Appeals.

The Seattle case is Berger v. City of Seattle, 05-35752.

Because of the appeals court reversal mimes, musicians and balloon-animal shapers and impersonators feel a new sense of empowerment to bring their talents and tip jars to public parks.

In what is viewed as a ruling with serious and wide spread implications for street artists throughout the West, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday, June 23, 2009, struck down curbs imposed by Seattle on those performing at the popular Seattle Center, home of the landmark Space Needle.

Michael "Magic Mike" Berger, 61, is a street performer or busker who creates balloon figures and performs sleight-of-hand tricks. He prevailed in his seven-year challenge of the constitutionality of Seattle's 2002 rules regulating street performers. The city had required them to obtain permits, wear badges, refrain from soliciting gratuities, stay away from "captive audiences" and work only within designated sites.

By contrast, Los Angeles city officials basically turn a blind eye to street artists who abound at tourist venues like Venice Beach and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In New York City Mayor LaGuadia instituted a street performers ban in 1935 and the total ban went into effect on January 1, 1936. The New York Times led a printed outcry as did NBC Radio which aired a live broadcast in support of street performers. Judges dismissed cases, but the ban remained in effect until 1970, when Mayor Lindsey lifted the street performance ban.

Technically, people are allowed to perform without a license anywhere in New York City if no amplification is being used. However, without a license to perform, many street entertainers are asked to "move on." Several court cases are on appeal.

"I think there's going to have to be a reevaluation by many cities, certainly in the 9th Circuit and perhaps across the country, on the validity of various laws that restrict people from speaking in public and performing in public on sidewalks and parks," said Elena Luisa Garella, Berger's lawyer.

Berger had sued the city and Seattle Center challenging rules requiring him to pay $5 for a permit, to perform only in a single location at the 80-acre Center and to seek only donations instead of charging for his balloon creations.

In 2005, U.S. District Judge James Robart ruled for Berger before the case went to trial. After the decision, Berger settled for $22,000, but the case continued as the city appealed to the 9th Circuit.

In January 2008, a three-member panel of the appeals court overturned the decision by a Seattle federal judge, who had found that rules the Center imposed on street performers violated free speech and equal protection.

Last July, however, the appeals court agreed to rehear the case "en banc," meaning that the larger panel would consider the case. Seven judges on an 11-member panel then in reviewing the case have found that rules requiring street performers to obtain a permit from the city-owned and-operated Center are too broad, as well as unconstitutional.

Writing for the majority, Judge Marsha S. Berzon, a President Clinton appointee, said that "a law requiring a permit to engage in [individual] speech constitutes a dramatic departure from our national heritage and constitutional tradition."

Constitutional lawyers have predicted that the Seattle case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court because the high court has never directly addressed the issue of "single-speaker permitting requirements for speech in a public forum."


11th Anniversary Adopt-A-thon, the wonderful program started by Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters who acted as hosts yesterday at Shubert Alley in New York City. As usual there was a star studded turnout - Elizabeth Ashley, Bill Berloni, Matt Cavanaugh, Michael Cerveris, Gavin Creel, Hope Davis, Christine Ebersole, Rupert Everett, Sutton Foster, John Glover, Lauren Graham, Kate Jennings Grant, Haydn Gwynne, Allison Janney, Gregory Jbarra, Andy Karl, Marc Kudisch, Angela Lansbury, Michael Mastro, Judy McLane, Constantine Maroulis, Karen Olivo, David Hyde Pierce, Alice Ripley, Bryce Ryness, Christopher Siebert, J. Robert Spencer, John Tartaglia, Harriet Walter, Chandler Williams, among others.

There was also a special book signing by Bernadette Peters of her New York Times bestseller, Broadway Barks.

Broadway Barks 11 also featured an auction of celebrity-autographed memorabilia. Proceeds from the auction and other donations received during the day will benefit the shelters and organizations attending Broadway Barks 11.

Now, just because the event was a celebrity infused fun day doesn't mean there are no more homeless cats and dogs. Only a tiny number found a happy home yesterday. Because of the economy, more and more animals are being deserted by owners who once professed to love the critter as though it was really a part of the family. When things got tough, "love" took the easy way out - dumping an animal that neither understands stock market reports nor can fend for itself. Most of these animals will be killed by shelters which are so overcrowded that they can't afford to care for the influx of unwanted pets.

The celebrities have left, the fun is over. The animals will die without your help. Adopting a pet is the only time you can actually buy unconditional love. It can be the best purchase you'll ever make.

PILATES FOR THE PLAYHOUSE Saturday, July 18, at Joe's Place-True Pilates in East Dennis, MA.

Free Pilates Classes, Demonstrations and Trial Sessions. Raffles and a silent auction.

All monies collected from this event will go directly to benefit the Cape Playhouse / Cape Cod Center for the Arts.


is called I Am a Rainbow with illustrations by Heather Sheffield. The new book celebrates the variety of feelings we all share. The colorful and upbeat picture book encourages children of all ages to acknowledge their feelings and take control. For anyone ever been tickled pink or green with envy or just plain blue, you might want to read them I Am a Rainbow.

Dolly Parton is the founder of Dolly's Imagination Library. In 1996, Dolly Parton launched an exciting new effort to benefit the children of her home county in east Tennessee. Dolly wanted to foster a love of reading among her county’s preschool children and their families. She wanted children to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Moreover, she could insure that every child would have books, regardless of their family’s income.

So she decided to mail a brand new, age appropriate book each month to every child under 5 in Sevier County. With the arrival of every child’s first book, the classic The Little Engine That Could, every child could now experience the joy of finding their very own book in their mail box. These moments continue each month until the child turns 5 - and in their very last month in the program they receive Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come.


PRINCE JAZZ GALA despite the cost, 7,000 tickets for two Prince concerts at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 18, were snapped up eight minutes after going on sale. Limited to two tickets per person, the prices ranged from $441.55 to $179.53 for a standing room only ticket.

Other performers at the festival include the Black Eyed Peas, Grace Jones and Marianne Faithfull. Wyclef Jean is standing in for former Fugees bandmate Lauryn Hill after she cancelled her European tour. The festival also features Herbie Hancock making his 30th Montreux appearance.

THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT (ARRA) has announced the recipients of $50 million, to be distributed in direct grants to fund arts projects and activities which preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn.

Of the numerous arts groups which were awarded assistance, nine musical theaters received grants totaling $375,000 while 93 theatrical venues received grants totaling $3,650,000 For a list of musical theater and theatre recipients click here


MEZZO-SOPRANO JOYCE DiDONATO who fractured her leg last week while performing Rosina in Rossini's opera The Barber of Seville at the Royal Opera House in London.

During the first act the American singer slipped. Not realizing that she had actually broken her leg, she kept performing - for another three hours.

She will continuing performing the role - only in a wheelchair.

Born in the Kansas town of Prairie Village, Joyce is an award winning American operatic mezzo-soprano particularly admired for her interpretations of the works of Handel, Mozart, and Rossini. On her blog she explained to her fans what happened.

Joyce DiDonato performing in a wheelchair
"Good news is that upon further exam, it is just a spiral fracture to my right fibula . . . and there is no apparent damage to any ligaments or to the all-important joint between the tibia and talus. So, without putting much weight on it for the next 6 weeks, it should provide a clean repair.

"4 hours in the emergency room (Hey, it could have been worse!), and a look of pure astonishment from the doctor who recoiled in a bit of horror as I said I stayed on my foot for nearly 3 hours performing. Ha, silly me - apparently this kind of injury requires absolutely no weight to be put on to it ... The cast is on, the foot is elevated, the pain killers are kicking in, and all is great!!! I'm sure we'll figure out how to get through these next performances, after all, there is no rule that says Rosina might not have been suffering from a broken ankle, right? It could happen!!"

"I arrived at the theater around 4:30 and was introduced to my new co-star: a beautiful, sleek 'Moonlite Breezy Wheelchair'. (Their motto is apparently "Innovate: build for the future". Well, innovation was certainly the name of the game last night. (Hey, I wonder if they need a spokesperson!! Call me!) The game plan when I arrived, was to have a member of the directing team push me through the show (thanks for volunteering, Tom!) But the moment I sat in the chair, I felt oddly at home and found that I was actually rather dexterous on the four wheels – and as a result, hugely relieved, because the idea of Rosina being dependent on someone to push her around was something I couldn't wrap my head around."

"I got 30 minutes on stage to feel my way around, try a few things out, observe the safety barrier the brilliant ROH team installed at the front of the stage - presuming they preferred their lead singer not to also injure her spine!!! - and to devise a general game plan with the directing team of how to play the big moments, and how to adjust to the impossible. For example, under "normal" circumstances, when Rosina believes she has been betrayed, a storm wells up in her and she completely trashes the set. Well, at this point, it's not only a matter of dramatic choice, but it's a technical necessity for various bits of action that must happen, so we had to find a solution. Last night, Rosina called in Berta (the maid) and in a show of feminine unity, I "conducted" Berta through the trashing of the set! Innovation at work."

"I can't begin to describe how sorry I am for my "cast mates" to put them in the position of having to improvise on the spot like that, but I can only send out an enormous thank you to each of them, for their support, for their sheer brilliance, and for their willingness to enter into the theatricality of it all. For me, I can only say that I had a ball. Is that insane? The odd thing about this, is that in a big way, being "trapped" in this wheelchair was a quite literal way of demonstrating Rosina's frustration and huge desire to break free. I certainly felt it more last night than I ever have before, and think I found ways to still convey the character and to "act" the part."

Currently married to Italian conductor Leonardo Vordoni, she blogged that she'll "spend the rest of my life thanking people for their help through this - from the amazing fans and supporters, to all my friends and family, to the ridiculously brilliant Royal Opera House Staff, to my manager who has gone way above and beyond the call of duty."

The only thing she asks is that; "From here on out, I declare that no-one, please, ever, ever, ever, wish me again, in the American fashion, to 'break a leg'."

The Barber of Seville will also be beamed to 15 Big Screens around the UK on Wednesday July 15, where members of the public can watch the production free of charge.

WHITE NOISE is the first production to take advantage of the Live Performance Tax Credit approved by the Louisiana's 2007 Legislature. The new rock musical originally conceived by Ryan J. Davis is co-directed by producer Mitchell Maxwell and choreographer Donald Byrd. The associate director is Holly-Anne Ruggerio.

White Noise has been making quite a racket with off-stage antics. In a story first published by Michael Riedel in The New York Post, police were called during rehearsals and Mitchell Maxwell was barred from the theatre.

MacKenzie Mauzy (Eva) played Phoebe Forrester on CBS’s The Bold and the Beautiful from 2006–2008
Patti Murin (Kady) created the role of Sharpay Evans in the professional premiere production of Disney’s High School Musical
White Noise is billed as "a cautionary musical inspired by real life white separatists that re-imagines the adage 'when good men do nothing, evil happens.'

"Eva and Kady Siller have established a small following as folk singers promoting messages of white power. They are discovered by a successful New York manager who convinces them that they can penetrate the world of mainstream rock/pop, dramatically increasing their power, by simply coding the lyrics to their hate songs. Indeed, powerful packaging and a passive public are a dangerous combination."

"Frighteningly entertaining, White Noise is a parable for our times, exposing a hateful reality to which we are immune. Designed to educate audiences about the inadvertent dangers of extremism and its mainstream penetration, White Noise asks riveting questions of each of us and offers a glimmer of hope into our future."

The book is by Matte O'Brien and a score by Joe Drymala, with additional musical contributions from Robert Morris, Steven Morris, Joe Shane, Laurence O'Keefe, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and Sharon Vaughn.

The production stars MacKenzie Mauzy and Patti Murin as the twins, Eva and Kady, with Nancy Anderson as Laurel, Peter Hilton as Pete Martin, Brandon Williams as Rick, Patrick Murney as Duke, David Nathan Perlow as Kurt, Rodney Hicks as Tyler, Antwayn Hopper as Dion and Andrew McGinn as Bob.

The White Noise ensemble includes Jacob ben Widmar, Heather Hamilton, Stacey Harris, Grasan Kingsbery, Krisha Marcano and Eryn Murman.

Because White Noise is specifically designed to educate audiences about inadvertent dangers of extremism and its mainstream penetration, the Producers intend to work with educational partners and activist organizations to create productive talk back sessions to follow each performance as well as board-certified materials for high schools and universities across the country.

White Noise began life in an award-winning extended run at the 2006 New York Musical Theatre Festival and is aiming to open Broadway the production officially opened July 9 at the 93-year-old Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans - the oldest continuously operating community theatre in America - for a limited engagement through July 26. Meanwhile, Mitchell Maxwell isn't permitted to see the show without the written permission of the other producers.

THE TIN PAN ALLEY RAG the music of Scott Joplin and Irving Berlin by Mark Saltzman. Directed by Stafford Arima. Starring Michael Boatman as Scott Joplin and Michael Terriault plays Irving Berlin. The cast includes Randy Aaron, Derrick Cobey, Jenny Fellner, Rosena M. Hill, James Judy, Mark Ledbetter, Michael McCormick, Erick Pinnick, Tia Speros and Idara Victor.

The Tin Pan Alley Rag is set four years after Alexander's Rag Time Band was introduced and puts Berlin face to face with another iconic composer, Scott Joplin, who's known as the King of Ragtime. The drama tells the story of an imagined meeting of two of America's greatest musicians, composer Scott Joplin and songwriter Irving Berlin on Joplin was struggling to raise funds to produce his opera

Joplin was a musical prodigy, born the son of a slave, who received a conservatory education and slowly rose to acclaim. Berlin was a Russian Jewish immigrant who couldn't read music, yet catapulted to stardom at the age of 23. Both men changed the landscape of music forever with their contributions to the first American musical genre, ragtime. Beneath Joplin and Berlin's toe-tapping, syncopated rhythms lay fascinating stories of fame, love and loss. In The Tin Pan Alley Rag, these tales come to vivid life and two great icons realize they have more in common than they ever suspected.

The score includes such classic songs as Irving Berlin's I Love a Piano; Play a Simple Melody; Alexander's Ragtime Band and Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag and The Entertainer, among others.

Choreography by Liza Gennaro and musical direction by Michael Patrick Walker.

The Tin Pan Alley Rag, now in previews, opens July 14 at the Laura Pels Theater in NYC for a limited engagement through September 6.

The show received five Los Angeles Ovation Award nominations, including Best Musical when it first opened at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1997. It has been refined and revised over the years with regional developmental productions, including a 2006 run at the Maltz Theatre in Jupiter, FL which starred Fred Berman and Alton Fitzgerald White. In January and February of this year there was an Arima-directed workshop in which Michael Boatman played Joplin.

Chaim Topol as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. Photo by Joan Marcus
starring the star of the original motion picture Topol, returning to the role he made famous - Tevye.

This North American Tour offers audiences a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Jerome Robbins’ original Broadway direction and choreography, complete with the star of the original West End production and the 1971 film, Chaim Topol.

Fiddler features music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein. A critically acclaimed perennial hit, the timeless Fiddler on the Roof brings the wit and wisdom of Tevye and his poignant story of the enduring bonds of the family to audiences throughout the US with this reproduction of Robbins’ famous masterpiece; with his direction and choreography recreated by director Sammy Dallas Bayes, choreographer of the Broadway revival.

This production runs a full three hours,a and has very strict seating rules. There is no musical overture for either act; Late arrivals will not be seated until 8 minutes in to the first act - which means missing Tradition! and 2 minutes in to the second act.

July 14-19, 2009 at the San Diego Civic Theatre in San Diego, CA.

THE CHERRY ORCHARD Chekhov's poignant comedy is freely adapted in a newly updated version, reset in 1970s Virginia, by Heidi Helen Davis and Ellen Geer.

David directs, and Geer takes on the role of Lubov Andreyevna Ranevsky - Lillian Randolph Cunningham in this adaptation.

Re-set in 1970s Virginia during the aftermath of the civil rights movement, this new take on a familiar classic emphasizes the timelessness of Chekhov's themes about a rapidly changing world and a way of life on the brink of obsolescence.

"With great reverence for Chekhovs' work, I wanted to explore the relevance of this most excellent play to our beloved America," says Davis.

Funny yet heartbreaking, The Cherry Orchard is seen by many as Chekhov's finest play. Written in 1904, the bittersweet and haunting comedy chronicles the decline of the Russian aristocracy at the turn of the 20th century through the story of one family's futile attempt to save their beloved family estate along with its famed cherry orchard. Chekhov's story of the loss of a way of life, that of the leisurely landed gentry bolstered by serf labor, offers obvious parallels to the life of the social aristocracy in the Southern U.S. with its underpinnings of slavery.

The ethnically mixed cast includes Ellen Geer as Lillian Randolph Cunningham (Mme. Ranevsky); William Dennis Hunt as Gates Randolph (Lionid Gaev); Steve Matt as Lawrence Poole (Lopakhin); Jerry Hoffman as Parnell Sanford (Semyonov-Pischchik); Emma Fassler as Dolores Hughes (Dunyasha); Matt Van Winkle as Buck Yankins (Yasha); Melora Marshall as Carlotta Schmidt (Carlotta); J.R. Starr as Fred Jasper (Firs); Willow Geer as Anna (Anya); Tippi Thomas as Velina (Varya); Tyler Rhoades as Yancy Ogelsby (Yepikhodov); and Marc Ewing as Terence Moses (Petya Trominov).

Heidi Helen Davis celebrates her 20th production at the Theatricum with this production. Performances take place on various dates now through September 26 at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, CA. Audiences at the Saturday, August 1 performance are invited to participate in a pre-show discussion. A free Roundtable discussion for The Cherry Orchard takes place today, Sunday, July 12.

Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman
Keith Huff's play about a pair of Chicago policemen, which was a hit in Chicago two years ago, has been rumored to transfer to Broadway with Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackson. Finally, on Friday the official confirmation was released. James Bond and the Boy from Oz are coming to The Great White Way in the mounting directed by Tony Award nominee John Crowley.

Craig will be making his Broadway debut, while it's a Broadway return for Tony winner Jackman. They will star in the production which begins previews September 10 for a limited 12-week run through September 29 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

A Steady Rain, is billed as a new American play that tells the story of two Chicago cops who are lifelong friends and their differing accounts of a few harrowing days that changed their lives forever.

The production will feature set and costume design by two-time Tony Award winner Scott Pask, lighting design by two-time Tony Award nominee Hugh Vanstone and original music and sound design by Mark Bennett.

First produced in 2006 at New York Stage and Film's Powerhouse Theater, A Steady Rain It had its professional world premiere in 2007 at Chicago Dramatists and was remounted in February 2008 at Chicago's Royal George Theatre winning Jefferson Awards for Best New Work and Best Production.

THE TORCH-BEARERS an upcoming production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, has announced another cast change. Katherine McGrath has replaced Tony winner Marian Seldes who has withdrawn from the production for personal reasons. Previously it was announced that Tony-nominated actress Dana Ivey had to bow out due to a knee injury. Tony winner Andrea Martin was announced to replace Ivey.

The cast also features Tony winners John Rubenstein and Katie Finneran as well as Jessica Hecht, Emmy winner Edward Herrmann, Yusef Bulos, Phillip Goodwin, Lizbeth MacKay, John Doherty and Becky Ann Baker.

The set designer is David Korins; costume designs by Ilona Somogyi; lighting design by Rui Rita; sound design by Alex Neumann and music by Michael Garin.

Performances begin July 29 and continue through Aug. 9 under the direction of Tony nominee Dylan Baker, who adapted the George Kelly work.

THE EAST TO EDINBURGH FESTIVAL in an annual early look at shows headed to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. 12 of these innovative shows will be presented July 14-August 2 at 59E59 in New York City.

The shows include;

Rash, Written and performed by Jenni Wolfson. Directed by Jen Nails.
Grasmere, By Kristina Leach. Directed by Noel Neeb.
Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana, Written and performed by Croft Vaughn. Directed by Adam Goldstein.
Inside Private Lives, Created by Kristin Stone. Directed by Lee Michael Cohn.
A Thousand Cranes, Written by Kathryn Shultz Miller. Directed by Masha Obolensky.
The Boys Next Door, Written by Tom Griffin. Directed by Christian Galpin and Benjy Schirm.
An age of Angels, Written and performed by Mark Soper. Directed by Ines Wurth.
MOD, book by Paul Andrew Perez. Music & Lyrics by George Griggs. Directed by Chantel Pascente.
tender, Written by Shapour Benard. Directed by Julie Baber.
La Femme Est Morte or Why I Should not F%!# My Son, Written and Directed by Shoshona Currier. Presented by The Shalimar
The Nina Variations, Written by Steven Dietz. Directed by Douglas “Chip” Rome.
Miracle In Rwanda, Based on the True Story of Immaculée Ilibagiza. Written and performed by Leslie Lewis Sword. Co-created with Edward Vilga, Directed by Schele Williams.

by The Second City, Chicago's legendary comedy theatre.

Chicago produced a president, a string of corrupt governors, and they’re vying for the Olympics in 2016; so who better to make fun of all of it than The Second City - celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

In Barack Stars, Chicago’s favorite son is given his satiric due, with an economy on the ropes and maybe just a touch of swine flu for good measure.

Perfecting the art of comedy revue with sketches, songs and a little improvisation, The Second City storms the Capital City to tackle partisanship, the politics of race, a terrifyingly tiny Rahm Emanuel, and a host of other headline-grabbing personalities.

Barack Stars July 14 - August 2, 2009 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC.


AN EVENING WITH MICHAEL CAVANAUGH: THE MUSIC OF BILLY JOEL AND MORE Cavanaugh was hand-picked by Billy Joel to star in his smash hit Movin’ Out. On Thursday, July 16, he'll bring a night of the Piano Man’s music to the State Theatre stage. A Tony-nominated vocalist and pianist known for high-energy performances, Cavanaugh will sing such show-stoppers as Uptown Girl and Piano Man, plus a host of other classic rock selections from the major artists of our time such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Van Morrison, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eagles, and The Who. Thursday, July 16, 2009 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ.

NO DOUBT is in Canada this week. On Monday the show is at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. On Wednesday the tour stops at Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary. Thursday finds them at Rexall Place in Edmonton and on Saturday the fans will be screaming at General Motors Place in Vancouver.

TORI AMOS has a busy week. On Monday, July 13, she opens a two nighter at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, CA. Thursday she performs at Humphrey's Concerts By The Bay in San Diego. On Friday she's in the spotlight at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and on Saturday she can be enjoyed at the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix.

ELTON JOHN AND BILLY JOEL take to the stage Tuesday, July 14, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH. On Thursday the tour stops at Wrigley Field in Chicago. On Saturday the show is at the Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.

U2 continues their European tour with a stop Wednesday, July 15, at the Parc De Sports Charles Ehrmann in Nice, France. On Saturday they are on stage at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

THE AMERICAN COMPOSER SERIES under the direction of Earl Wentz, performs The Music of Shelton Brooks, Maceo Pinkard & Spencer Williams. Over 25 songs will be performed by Sheryl Fields, Nicole Pacent, Ravin Patterson, and William Watkins. July 21, 23, 24, & 25 at Don't Tell Mama in New York City.

MICHAEL FEINSTEIN performs Thursday, July 16, at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA.

INDIA.ARIE on stage Tuesday, July 14, at Ntelos Wireless Pavilion in Portsmouth, VA. On Wednesday the tour stops at the Pavilion in Charlottesville, VA. On Friday she performs at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD> On Saturday she will be at the Mile High Music Festival in Commerce City, CO.

LYLE LOVETT in the spotlight Tuesday, July 14, at Minglewood Hall in Memphis. On Wednesday she can be enjoyed at The Rosebud Theatre in Effingham, IL. On Friday the show is at Meadow Brooks Music Festival in Rochester, MI and on Saturday he on stage at French Lick Resort in French Lick, IN.

PETER FRAMPTON appears at Fun Fest in Kingsport, TN on Friday, July 17. On Saturday he performs at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus, OH.

JOURNEY appears at Moondance Jam in Walker, MN on Thursday, July 16. On Saturday they are at Rock Fest in Cadott, WI.

COLDPLAY has a busy week in California. On Monday they are in the spotlight at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Tuesday finds them at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland. On Thursday the show is at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista and on Saturday they are on stage at The home Depot Center in Carson.

JONAS BROTHERS star at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC on Monday, July 12. On Tuesday they open a two night stand at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ. Friday they begin another two nighter, this one at the TB Banknorth Garden in Boston.

WOODSTOCK AT 40 featuring Demetria Joyce Bailey, Anthony D'Amato, Melissa Hammans, Benjamin Michael, Mary Kate Morrissey, Michael Philip O'Brien, Jonathan Shade, Phoenix Ximinez. Rock to the music that defined a generation - nine performances at the Bristol Riverside Theatre in Bristol, PA. July 16-19 and July 22,24, 25-26.

Next Column: July 19, 2009
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Laura Deni

U.S. Postal Address: Post Office Box 60538, Las Vegas, NV 89160