Keely Smith, Fine and Frank

Move over, Barbara Cook. Here comes another lady in her 70s
with a voice that sounds decades younger. This is Keely Smith, who is appearing
in cabaret at Feinstein's on Park Avenue in Manhattan in May 2003. If her dreams come
true, she'll someday appear a few blocks from there on Broadway in her own
show.

Going Public With a Private Spirit

Gay cabaret performer, Don Snell, returns to Dallas at the Theater Three basement, March 23-26, 2003, with his performing partner, Shano Palovich, in A Private Spirit: Noel Coward and his Gal Pals.Palovich will enact the roles of Gertrude Lawrence, Tallulah Bankhead, and Marlene Dietrich.

The Sound of Music in Austria

The Sound of Music has pleased viewers of its many stage revivals and of the film version. It also has spawned a series of specialized tours in the city of Salzburg, Austria.

This is the town where the von Trapp family lived and where most of the 1965 movie was shot. The lure of these locations is so appealing that several different companies run daily bus tours of SOM-related sites. The fact that Mozart was born here is an afterthought for many visitors! Rodgers & Hammerstein are the heroes, inspiring these folks to find out how alive these hills really are.

Conductor Ted Sperling Goes in a New Direction

Ted Sperling made his debut as a stage director in February 2001 at the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia and returned in October to direct a revival of the Kurt Weill-Ira Gershwin-Moss Hart musical, Lady in the Dark. With these productions, Sperling completes a theatrical triple crown. He now has been a music director, singer-actor and, finally, a director.

Strong Medicine

When reading or seeing a play, one always wonders where playwrights get their ideas for plot and characterization. I contacted Jeffrey Stanley, author of Medicine Man, which premiered at Dallas' Theater Three this spring, to find his answers.

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Jean Stapleton - Forever Grateful, and Back on Stage

It's reassuring to report that Jean Stapleton, one of the most recognized names in the entertainment world, is unpretentious, charming and astute. Observing the ovation she gets at the curtain of Horton Foote's The Carpetbagger's Children, that also stars Hallie Foote (the author/playwright's daughter) and Roberta Maxwell, and the affection with which she's greeted as she exits the stage door of Lincoln Center Theater, it's obvious that she made an impact on many lives.

Jean Stapleton - Seized By A Desire To Act

One the of most recognized names in entertainment, Jean Stapleton stands in the wings of "one of my homes away from home," New York's tiny, East Village Classic Stage Company, where she's about to go on as Phoebe, the alcoholic wife in John Osborne's devastating The Entertainer, about the dysfunctional family of fading vaudevillian Archie Rice.

Remembering Mo

Maureen Stapleton, who always could be believed when she said something, was true to her word.

After attending the memorial for Colleen Dewhurst in 1991, "Mo," as she was affectionately called by her friends, was heard to say, "I'm not coming to one of these things ever - except my own!" *

Wagner on the Hudson

Jim Steinman is nothing if not versatile. Though best known as a rock and pop composer and producer of "power ballads," he's adept at arranging, has been a solo-artist and, a bit ahead of the trend, formed an all-girl band. His numerous worldwide mega-hits include "Bat Out of Hell" and "Dead Ringer" with Meat Loaf, "Falling Into You" with Celine Dion, "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" for Air Supply, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" (which has found a natural fit in Dance of the Vampires), and "Faster Than the Second Speed of Night" for Bonnie Tyler.

Whirling Sterling

The old adage that 'laughter is the best medicine' has never seemed truer than now as a way to lift America from the gloom of its recent tragedy, and Randy Bennett and his Lone Star Comedy troupe are doing their part at "Upstaged, Smart Comedy, Smart Cocktails."

Dallas will get a heaping dose of laughter on October 5 and 6, 2001 as Upstaged presents headliner Mindy Sterling, Bennett's former Groundlings colleague and comedienne from Los Angeles. Sterling will be reprising Frau Farbissina, a role written for her by Mike Myers of "Saturday Night Live" and Austin Powers notoriety.

My Next Role is My Favorite

Newsday drama critic Linda Winer's wish has come true. When she reviewed Talking Heads, Alan Bennett's six solo plays, which are being presented in Programs A and B Off Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theater, she raved that Lynn Redgrave was "irresistible," Kathleen Chalfant, "ever-remarkable"; Christine Ebersole, "heartbreaking"; Brenda Wehle, "lovely"; Daniel Davis, "wonderful"; and that Valerie Mahaffey, had "a sweet generosity." But, she concluded, "I kept wanting more!"

Tony Awards Bring Back Memories For Isabelle Stevenson

After 32 years, Isabelle Stevenson stepped down as president of the American Theater Wing, the organization co-founded by Antoinette Perry, a leading 30s and 40s actress, producer and director. Stevenson is now chair of the Wing board, the first time since Perry's death in 1946 that this position has been filled. (Perry's nickname was Tony, and she is the namesake of the annual Broadway honors.)

TV Heroes

What were the television heros of your childhood like in real life? And what ever became of them?

Those are the questions explored by three guys in their late 30s in the play, Music From a Sparkling Planet, that was an Off-Broadway hit during its limited run by The Drama Dept. in 2001. Frustrated by problems in their personal and professional lives, the characters decide to search for Tamara Tomorrow, the host of an afternoon kids' TV show of their youth. (One of them says he has to thank Tamara for giving him his first erection.)

In Times of Woe, Playwrights Speak Words of Wisdom

There is no explanation for evil, wrote W. Somerset Maugham. It must be looked upon as a necessary part of the order of the universe. To expose it is childish, to bewail it senseless.

Theater Works, Sarasota: No Longer Working

If Theater Works, a professional non-Equity house that billed itself as the "friendliest theater in Sarasota" is still alive, it certainly isn't stirring. The former Palm Street Playhouse, TW's downtown home since 1985, has been bought by Florida Studio Theater for an expansion. Meanwhile, speaking to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, board president Joseph LaRusso claimed he'll stay in office for the rest of the year. He hopes to start Theater Works up again within a complex being built by a developer east of downtown.

That Was the Army

This Is the Army, the theatrical phenomenon of World War II, is back in the news because Decca Records has released the cast album on CD. This phenomenon of its era had become almost forgotten. Some of the surviving cast members complain that everyone talks about Bob Hope's contribution to soldiers' morale when, in fact, many more men in that war were entertained by This Is the Army.

Brunchtime: Meet Greet and Eat with the 2002 Tony Award Nominees

High atop Times Square, on the 49th floor of the Marriott Marquis Hotel, is The View, a restaurant, a portion of which usually revolves with tourists gaping in awe at Manhattan's wonders (and a bit later at the bill!). Yesterday (May 15, 2002), it was a good thing the revolve stage was in the off mode. The 2002 Tony Award nominees who gathered there to receive their silver-framed nomination citations were dizzy enough trying to run the gauntlet of multi-media reporters, lights and cameras.

Comden and Green: Two On the Aisle

Two On the Aisle, with music by Jule Styne and lyrics and comedy sketches by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, has the reputation for being the last of the "old-time" Broadway revues, which specialized in musical production numbers and comic bits that often bordered just this side of burlesque.

Beautiful Fish in a Big Pond

Their career paths have crossed several times. But now a twist of fate has Tony Award-winners Leslie Uggams and, after much too long an absence, James Earl Jones back on Broadway and together for the first time. Along with the loons, they've returned for one more summer On Golden Pond, the revival of Ernest Thompson's hit 1978 play.

Fear Itself: Alfred Uhry and the Jewish Question in Atlanta

It's ten minutes before 11 p.m. on Sunday, June 1, 1997. On the stage of Radio City Music Hall the envelope is about to be opened to reveal the winner of the Tony Award for Best Play of the Year. One nominee is The Last Night of Ballyhoo, written by Alfred Uhry.

The Road to Urinetown

Could a water shortage, a tycoon set on forcing the public to pay to use facilities, and a hero out to stop him be the subject matter of a musical? Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis thought so. Their problem was finding producers to agreed. But the happy result is Urinetown: The Musical, the off-beat show that moved to Broadway and was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score. Although it didn't take the Best Musical prize, it won Tonys for Best Book of a Musical (Kotis), Best Score (Kotis and Hollmann) and Best Director (John Rando).

A Quick Overview of the Utah Shakespearean Festival

Nestled among some of the country's most breathtakingly beautiful national parks is the real gem of Southwestern Utah, the Utah Shakespearean Festival, in the small town of Cedar City on the campus of Southern Utah University.

From its humble beginnings in 1962 when a small band of college students and townspeople presented three plays by Shakespeare over a two-week period, on an outdoor platform -- creating their own sets, props, and costumes -- the Utah Shakespearean Festival has morphed into an award-winning organization.

A Career As She Likes It

"I'm glad I am getting another crack at playing Rosalind," says former Princeton native Jennifer Van Dyck, who heads the cast of As You Like It, the season opener at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival. With a growing repertoire of the Bard's heroines under her belt, including Portia (The Merchant of Venice) at the Bread Loaf Theater, Cordelia (King Lear) and Ophelia (Hamlet) at the Old Globe, Van Dyck, however, recalls the "joyous" comedy" as her first experience performing Shakespeare.

Goodbye Golden Apple

Golden Apple Dinner Theater in Venice, Florida, has closed.

Robert Ennis Turoff, producer, announced in a brief Sarasota Herald-Tribune article that Buffalo Bob's food service, which catered the Apple's buffets, was incompatible with the Apple's theatrical operation. The May 3, 2003 end of How the Other Half Loves by Alan Ayckbourn thus ended 14 years of the Venice satellite of Sarasota's Golden Apple, now in its 32nd season.

Theater as a Blood Sport

 Buckets, fountains, catfuls, neckfuls and bitefuls of red blood have poured out and onto the stages of Broadway and Off Broadway this season.
John Doyle's new, inventive production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd, a musical thriller, in which actors create their own orchestra as well, led the season off to a deliciously electrifying start.

Memorable Visits With "Aunt Mae"

Age and sex appeal are timeless things. Look at me! I'm living proof...

Michael West -- Flying High With Crabtree's Pigs

Howard Crabtree's When Pigs Fly has emerged as one of the biggest hits on Broadway or off (it's at the Douglas Fairbanks on 42nd Street's Theater Row). Critics showered it with accolades, and audiences, who roar with laughter, return in droves. It's a small company, but they pack the wallop of three Broadway musicals. There are no crashing chandeliers or whirling helicopters, but there are some spectacular, colorful and hilarious costumes.

Having a Wonderful Life in The Life

Lillias White and Chuck Cooper's excitement on seeing posters for The Life boasting of their Tony Awards for Best Featured Performance comes as a surprise. When Cooper bursts into White's dressing room with the news, she exclaims "Let's take a picture!"

Margaret Meets Mercer

No, I didn't get nominated for a Tony Award as Leading Actress in a Musical, laughed Miss Margaret Whiting, the legendary hitmaker and saloon singer. In fact, I didn't get nominated for a damn thing from any of the awards. Nor did I expect to. And it's not that she doesn't deserve a few nominations. Here's a broad, and she doesn't mind being called one!, who has done it all and done it all memorably. Yes, I have, she says with a howl of laughter, and lived to tell about it.

Philadelphia Theater in Black And White

Author's Note: This is a report of one city's reaction to an intense debate about Black Theater that absorbed the theater community in June 1997. It ran originally as a cover story in The Philadelphia Forum.

There's a breach between blacks and whites on the subject of theater that's as wide as the gap on the recent OJ verdicts. The public debate between playwright August Wilson and critic Robert Brustein -- and the reaction to their debate -- makes that clear.

Mary Louise Wilson Riding Full Gallop

Mary Louise Wilson, after years of playing showy featured roles in musicals and plays, finally has a starring role: fashion doyen Diana Vreeland in Full Gallop. "And," she quips, "I had to write it myself!" Her one-woman show was six years in the works -- originating in Sag Harbor, NY, followed by a successful Manhattan Theater Club run before moving to the Westside Theater (43rd Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues). "The hardest thing was to write and then perform it," said Wilson. "I'd often said to friends, 'Let's write a show.' Mark Hampton took me seriously.

Wit: The Little Engine That Could

Right from the start it was easy to predict that with its critical acclaim and box-office success, Margaret Edson's first play, the Off-Broadway hit Wit, would be a contender for "Best Of" awards this season and even the Pulitzer Prize. This week, Edson, a 37-year-old kindergarten teacher, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Also, in the first awards announcements of season, Wit won Outer Critics Circle nominations for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play and Best Actress. It's not too much of a gamble to predict that Drama Desk and Obie Awards will be next.

The Wright Stuff

When I was planning a trip to New York to visit playwright Doug Wright, I asked him for some restaurant recommendations. The places he recommended turned out to be not at all where you'd expect an Off-Broadway playwright to eat. My wife and I checked out several of them and none of them were cheap.

Maury Yeston On The Titanic

Titanic opened to some mixed and negative reviews. Maury Yeston is reminded of this in the heady days after the show's Tony-win as Best Musical and a now-booming box office. "But let's not forget," reminds Yeston, "we got some very good ones!" Immediately after the opening, which was preceded by rumor-plagued previews, there was the perception among the cast that the mega-musical might close. Some sources close to the production said cast reaction bordered on panic. "We did get mixed reviews," said Yeston. "We took our knocks. But the cast didn't think we were going to close.

Jerry Zaks: A Master on Both Sides of the Lights

Is Jerry Zaks the most beloved director in the history of modern theater? Well, he is if the accolades heaped upon him by such stars as Nathan Lane, Richard Dreyfuss, Kristin Chenoweth and Lewis J. Stadlen at the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life gala (held December 2003), which also honored Tovah Feldshuh, the award-winning and acclaimed star of Golda's Balcony] are any indication. It was a love fest for the three-time Tony Award winner, who obviously has as much of a devilish sense of humor as those who were "roasting" him.

Karen Ziemba: Always Gonna Dance?

Karen Ziemba is known on Broadway for her versatility in tripping the light fantastic. A sort of quintuple threat, she's adept at singing (what pipes!) acting, slapstick comedy, drama and dance. Then, there's that infectious smile. Ziemba's been doing "the showbiz thing -- live theater, musical theater, dancing, singing," as she puts it, a long time. So "never gonna dance" are the least likely words you expect to be associated with her. And yet, here she is co-starring in Never Gonna Dance.

Epic Visions: The Odyssey Of Mary Zimmerman

Written 2,700 years ago, Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey" remains arguably the greatest most fantastical tale of all time for the armchair adventurer. Adapter-director Mary Zimmerman agrees. And that is why she has taken the 12,000 lines of verse, which would take 12 to 13 hours to read in one sitting, and put the romance, sea voyage, ship-wreck, seduction, and supernatural doings into one theatrical package lasting a little more than three hours.

The Answer Is...David Zippel

Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder, Ricky Martin and Michael Bolton have sold millions of records with his songs, making him one of the most prosperous of all theatrical lyric writers. But David Zippel says that his name is still just an answer to a trivia question. He modestly recalls that, when a revue of his songs, "It's Better With a Band," opened, he couldn't even afford a band, and the show used only a piano.

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