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I don't know why Chita Rivera and I got on the subject of fate and the "what if" principal before her rehearsal of Venecia, the play by Argentinean Jorge Accame that Arthur Laurents has adapted and is also directing for its American premiere at the George Street Playhouse (previewing Feb. 10, opening Feb. 14, 2001). Perhaps an aura of fate still lingered in the air George Street from last season's premiere of Anne Meara's Down The Garden Paths, in which we saw how the lives of its characters would be different if....
When many stars her age are sitting by the phone waiting for that call from their agent, Chita Rivera is in top form on Broadway, dancing an erotic tango with Antonio Banderas in the hit Roundabout Theater Company revival of Nine. And, now hear this: she's about to embark on a daring new musical by Kander and Ebb, The Visit, set to open in January 2004 at New York's Public Theater.
On September 11, 2001 as the terrorist events unfolded in New York, Chita Rivera and company were already at Chicago's Goodman Theater, deep in rehearsals. "We couldn't believe what we heard," says Rivera. "The horrible thing was that I was so far from my family. Lisa (Mordente), my daughter (from her marriage to Tony Mordente, Action in the film adaptation of West Side Story), is living in California, but my brothers, sisters and friends were in New York.
If she was nervous on the eve of making her debut in what may have been the biggest musical of all time on the
When thinking of the music of Kurt Weill during his centennial year of 2000, the name of Helen Schneider naturally comes to mind. The American singer-actress has performed even more frequently in Weill's country of birth, Germany, than in the USA, and she is closely identified with Weill's work. In fact, she headlined at the Dessau Festival in Weill's home town during the centennial celebration in August 2000. In October and November she's starring in a double bill of Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel and Seven Deadly Sinsin Vienna.
Stephen Schwartz has continually, and pointedly, written about parent-child relationships. Think about Pippin and his father, Charlemagne, in Pippin. Geppetto and his puppet-son, Pinocchio, in the TV musical "Geppetto." Judge Frollo, the surrogate father of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
In a note in the program of his play, Dedication or The Stuff of Dreams, Terrence McNally writes that the work was completed in 2002. The other night, following a preview performance, he said he didn't write the role of wealthy matron Annabelle Willard with a particular actress in mind. "But now that I've seen Marian Seldes in the part," he said, "I can't imagine anyone else in the role." He went on to say that he wasn't smart enough to see her in the role until director Scott Ellis suggested the part had her name written all over it.
I've known Danny Burstein since he was 15 or 16, when he played Og the leprechaun in an amateur production of Finian's Rainbow as I ran the follow spot. I'd be lying if I told you that I jumped up and shouted, "That kid is going to be a star!" But I sure could see that Danny was exceptionally talented -- and I would have probably bet that, with any luck at all, he'd have a fine career as a professional actor.
The Playbill note on the cast page at the Broadway revival of The Sound of Musicreads: "Michael Siberry is appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association pursuant to an exchange program between American Equity and British Equity." That statement usually means quite a fuss went on between producers and American Equity to get a leading man from the U.K. because they feel he's best for the job. And it usually means that actor isn't a star or known by Broadway theatergoers. In the case of Siberry, nothing could be further from the truth. But there's a catch.
Jean Smart is back in New York walking, enjoying the sidewalk jostling and streetlife, and going to as many plays as possible. "There's fabulous theater in Los Angeles," says the actress, "but in New York everything is more accessible, which makes it more fun." To also be working for the first time in two years onstage has doubled the fun.
In her TV and stage career, Jean Smart has alternated regularly between comedy and drama, but her star turn in "a role to die for," as flamboyant stage star Lorraine Sheldon in The Man Who Came To Dinner, certainly proves she was born to play comedy. The Roundabout Theatre Company production of the classic 1939 Kaufman and Hart play, headlining Nathan Lane and directed by Jerry Zaks, debuts their new home, the restored Selwyn Theater, now the American Airlines Theater, on New 42nd Street.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!" *
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.
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.
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!"
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.)
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.)
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.