Category Archives: Theatre

Happy Birthday, Anna Kendrick!

She is only 26 years old today….

But she already has had an amazing career- with, hopefully, much more to come!

Surprisingly, this is one of my top rated and most viewed posts….so I’m going to re-post it again on this talented young lady’s birthday….


I love it when I find new performers and then learn they are already seasoned veterans…

Anna Kendrick was nominated for an Oscar this year for “Up in the Air.” She’s also been in the “Twilight” movies. I knew she looked familiar and discovered a couple of clips of earlier musical performances I had seen. I thought I would share.

Her she is as a very small child,  singing a song from “Show Boat” at the “Leading Ladies” Broadway Benefit– with the “Cabaret” Kit Kat Club girls.  She had just been nominated for a Tony Award for “High Society” when she appeared in the show on Broadway:

And here is the scene I loved and remembered well from “Camp”.  I just didn’t realize it was her.  She comes in after about 25 seconds:

This young lady has a long and exciting career ahead of her.


Filed under Broadway, Entertainment, New York, Social Commentary, Theatre

‘Lysistrata Jones’ Musical May Come to Broadway

Looks like the show Steve and I saw in a Church Gym last Friday is heading for the Big Time- Broadway!

We both saw “Spring Awakening” when it was being done off-Broadway in a converted Church then again on Broadway.  I saw “Grey Gardens” off-Broadway and again once it transferred to The Great White Way.  Steve saw “Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” at the Public before Broadway.  It’s so cool to see these great off-Broadway shows transfer.

“Lysistrata Jones” is really, really good.  I hope it makes it on Broadway.

From the NY Post:

That “new translation” is, of course, his new musical, “Lysistrata Jones,” a modern twist on Aristophanes’ comedy about Greek wives who force their husbands to negotiate peace during the Peloponnesian war by withholding sex.

It was a big hit in 411 B.C., packing them in for years at the Theater Dionysus, a Nederlanderious house, and winning the Tonyiod that year for Best Play.

Beane’s version, running at the Judson Memorial Church until Friday, is a hit as well. The Post’s Elisabeth Vincentelli called it “a terrific splash of summer fun,” while the Times’ Ben Brantley said it was “effervescent and tasty.”

(Sounds like Ben was hitting the retsina again.)

And now comes word that the show will move to Broadway in the fall.

Alan Wasser, a general manager who oversees such long-running hits as “The Phantom of the Opera,” has quietly been hunting around for theaters. He’s got his eye, I’m told, on the Broadhurst or the Walter Kerr.

The budget is said to be between $6 million and $7 million.

Set in Athens, Ga., Beane’s “Lysistrata Jones” is about a group of high school cheerleaders who refuse to sleep with the members of the basketball team until they start winning games. The musical has no stars, which could be a drawback on Broadway. However, the bright young cast is winning, and Liz Mikel, as a saucy goddess, is likely to find herself in a good seat at next year’s Tonys.

So, I hope, will Beane.

via ‘Lysistrata Jones’ musical may come to Broadway in the fall –

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New York City Diary: Part 1- Catch Me If You Can

I won’t be posting much the next few days because I am vacationing in New York.  We usually do at least 2 or 3 long weekends a year in the City and this is one of them…

I know you’re not supposed to tell people when you are out-of-town, but we have a house sitter and an alarm system, so I’m hoping the alarm will stop them, the pets will attach them and the house sitter will shoot them if anyone tries to break in…I’ll take the chance for some time in New York.

Let me start by saying, for once, the journey up on USAirways was relatively smooth- which is exceedingly rare nowadays.  Of course, my expectations are lowered.  As long as we get to the original destination within a couple of hours of the scheduled time, without crashing and with luggage, I accept that as the best-case scenario.

Given this, It didn’t faze me that before we left they told us the plane’s bathroom was broken, so if you had to go to the bathroom, go before you boarded.  I’m just surprised they didn’t use this as an excuse to cancel the flight.  But then, it was a full flight and they probably just wanted the money.  If it hadn’t been full, I’m sure they would have canceled.

My biggest issue was that at least a third of my fellow passengers were wearing flip-flops.  Those who read this blog know this is a pet peeve of mine- people who wear flip-flops on airplanes and in other inappropriate places.  Not to mention on an airplane on a flight to New York City.   Doesn’t get much more inappropriate than that- short of the White House.

Who in their right frigging mind would wear flip-flops in New York City?  That’s like walking barefoot down Broadway.  That’s just nasty, unsanitary and unsafe.

Don’t get me wrong, I love flip-flops, I own flip-flops, I wear flip-flops, but I know when and where to do so.  It’s inappropriate use of flip-flops that make me crazy.  If the plane crashed, do you want to try to escape through fire and hot metal wearing little pieces of rubber on your feet?  If they didn’t fall off on impact?  Talk about slack-jawed idiots.

And there are pages of articles on the web about how unsanitary and unsafe it is to wear flip-flops in New York.  Just Google “Flip Flops in New York City.”

I’ll rest my case and I’ll try to move on…

After a pleasant cab ride into the City, I got to the hotel and made my first of three attempts to check in.

First, the room wasn’t ready, so I went to lunch.  Since I was carrying my messenger bag crammed full of all my electronics:  iPod, Bose Headphones, 2 cell phones, MacBook Air and Kindle, I didn’t want to go far.  That was too much crap to schlepp all over town.

So, I had to break one of my rules and eat in Mid town.  Tourist trap food.  Over priced.  Not very good.  Mid town.

I ate at a trendy little place on 8th Avenue and ordered a Beet and Grilled Shrimp Salad.  It was 4 shrimp, 3 cubes of beets and a couple of lettuce leaves for $14.95.  Never eat in Mid town unless you know the place or it’s an old diner…..I paid for my sins.

Try two, I actually got my room, but no key cards.  The machine was broken so the bellman had to let me in.   This was after standing in line for 20 minutes just like the first time.  Anyway, I got my room, unpacked and went off to get theatre tickets.  I got great orchestra seats for us to “Catch Me If You Can” at the Neil Simon Theatre.  Once I got back to the hotel, they had finally fixed the key machine and after a third 20 minute wait in line, I finally had both a room and keys to it.

I settled in to wait for my partner Steve to get here from the East Village where he is wrapping up a seminar at NYU and once he arrived, it was off to the theatre.

I had read mixed reviews of “Catch Me If You Can”, but had seen some scenes on YouTube and the Tony’s broadcast, so we decided to give it a shot.  Especially since we had discount coupons.

Another rule:  Never pay full price for theatre.  Going to the theatre is like flying.  On the plane, everyone paid a different price for their seats.  Same in the theater.  If you know where to look, you can get in for less than the posted price.  It’s the only way we can see as many shows as we do.  We do have to miss some until they cool off- there are no discounts for “Book of Mormon” right now and we aren’t about to pay $375 for two tickets to a show with no stars.  Even we have limits…

Anyway, “Catch Me If you Can” was a delight.  We both thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was a great homage to the spirit of hope and innocence of the early 1960’s.  It had a kind of Frank Sinatra/Dean Martin Rat Pack feel.  Great choreography.  Excellent music and lyrics playing to the various early 1960’s sounds.  And uniformly excellent performances- especially by Tony Award Winner Norbert Leo Butz, leading man Aaron Tveit, Tom Wopat and Kerry Butler.

Aaron Tveit should definitely been nominated for the Tony.  He carries the show.  Norbert Leo Butz, in what is really a supporting role, steals it.  Kerry Butler, with the 11 o’clock number stops it and Tom Wopat proves again how far he’s come from the “Dukes of Hazard” to being one of the most consistently excellent actors on Broadway.

The problem was the book.  It took a while to draw us in, but about a third of the way through the first act, it had us hooked.  There is lot’s of glitz in the first act, but in the second act, it finds its heart and soul.  That surprised me as so many shows fall apart in the second act.  But in this one, that’s the stronger act.

I really recommend you see this show if you come to New York and are looking for one new musical to see.  And if you miss it in New York, see it on tour.  This is better than the Critics led us to believe.  Just be prepared for a somewhat slow start, then hold on for a great ride in the theatre.  You won’t regret it once it gets going…It’s thoroughly engaging…

Here are some scenes, then I’ll sign off for now.

More to come..

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Happy Birthday, Leslie Uggams

I love Leslie Uggams.  She really should have been a bigger star….

The great singer and performer is 68 years old today.

Here’s one of my favorites of her performances:

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Oprah on Broadway

Somehow, I just can’t see the Big O doing 8 shows a week….

I’ll wish her well and give her credit for trying….

She will surely pack the houses….

And anything that brings attention to live theatre is a good thing….

Oprah Winfrey has long said she would love to return to acting. But as her iconic, Chicago-based talk show approaches its final episode, Winfrey clearly is moving quickly to turn her dream of appearing on Broadway into reality.

“I have a stack of plays in my bag right now that I am reading,” Winfrey said with great enthusiasm and determination last week as part of a frank and wide-ranging interview on her Chicago past and professional future that will appear May 22 in a special section of the Tribune. “And just this past weekend, I was in New York meeting with producers. We were just talking about what would be the best route to take. But yes, this is really going to happen. … Life is too short.

“I think,” Winfrey said, “that an ensemble production is the way I should go.”

Winfrey was very nearly already acting on Broadway. Kenny Leon, the director of the high-profile Broadway revivals of “Fences” and “A Raisin in the Sun,” came to Winfrey about two years ago and said he wanted her to appear in “Fences.” Talks, Winfrey said, progressed to a advanced and serious stage.

“I had always wanted to do “Fences,” Winfrey said. “I went through the idea of trying to take my show to New York, shoot a show during the daytime and appear on Broadway at night. But I couldn’t do it. And finally, Kenny said he couldn’t wait any longer.”

So that didn’t work out. But once “The Oprah Winfrey Show” has wrapped, Winfrey will have a lot more freedom.

via Oprah’s Broadway acting dream is on the express track – The Theater Loop.

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“Steel Magnolias” at Triad Stage

I just came in from seeing “Steel Magnolias” at Triad Stage here in Greensboro.  And it was good.

I know Triad Stage and other Regional Theatres need to do crowd pleasers like “Steel Magnolias”.  They bring in a large audience, that will hopefully come back again for other shows and help to build an audience for live theatre.  Shows like this also bring in a lot of cash.  But they also create an interesting experience for Season Ticket holders, like me, who would not have gone to see “Steel Magnolias”  if it were not part of the Season.  It gives us the chance revisit plays from our pasts. And sometimes these new visits surprise us.

As usual, at Triad Stage, the production values were wonderful and the acting was excellent- all that we expect from Triad Stage.

The problem, for me,  was the play.

I’ve probably seen “Steel Magnolias” too many times, both on stage and film, but it has been several years since I’ve seen it.  I’ve probably also heard the lines too many times, but in this production, there did seem to be some laugh lines that were missed.

And you know what?  It just wasn’t as good a play as I remembered from seeing it  years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of heart in this show, some memorable characters and some funny lines.  You can’t help but be drawn into the lives of and care about these upper middle class Louisiana women.  But don’t look too closely at the play itself.  The first scene, in particular, goes on way too long…

I was also surprised at how rooted “Steel Magnolias” was in the 1980’s and how dated it seemed now.  Times have changed so much more than I realized since the times in which this play was set.   I’m not sure the cultural references make sense to anyone under 40, but then that’s not “Steel Magnolias” audience.

And it was almost a full house on Easter Sunday.

If you love “Steel Magnolias”, go see this production.  Especially if you’ve never seen it on stage and only know it from the movie.  You won’t see a better production with so many fine actresses around here any time soon.  It’s definitely a pleasant evening in the theatre and it received a standing ovation at the end of tonight’s show.

Just don’t be too surprised, either,  if the magic just isn’t there.  It’s not that they don’t try and succeed, on so many levels, at Triad Stage.  It’s just that the play itself isn’t as good as I remembered it being all those years ago…

And that might be the adjustment that I’m struggling with…

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Exclusive: Limbaugh’s parent company still using actors to fake radio call-ins, exec tells Raw | The Raw Story

Talk about your media manipulation…

While I’m normally all for any opportunity for actors to earn a living, this is a bit much…

This is all cheap theatrics, not news….

Sad thing is their viewers/listeners don’t know this…’

The company responsible for syndicating big conservative radio names like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity has been using paid actors to call in to their radio shows.According to a recent report in Tablet Magazine, Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications, hired actors to call in as guests.

via Exclusive: Limbaugh’s parent company still using actors to fake radio call-ins, exec tells Raw | The Raw Story.

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Carol Channing’s 90th Birthday Bash

Happy Birthday to Carol Channing as she continues to celebrate her 90th Birthday.

She’s an American Original and there will never be another one like her…

Here’s a little press coverage and a couple of videos of the old girl in her signature roles:

Carol Channing celebrated her birthday on Monday night with a big party that helped the arts. The 90-year-old actress was in full attendance. Walking the red carpet, talking to reporters and sharing a moment with family and friends who came to celebrate with her, you would have thought the classy Hollywood legend wasn’t a day over 29.

Anne Jeffreys, Bruce Vilanche, Carole Cook, Jo Anne Worley and others took time to come to the Pantages to share the best of the Channing moment. Watching the actress come out of the back with the original dress of the 1969 performance of ‘Hello Dolly’ even the celebrities were star struck with Carol Channing.

“All the artists do is recreated what is already created,” says Channing pointing up to the sky when asked the secret to her success.

The evening events ended out on Hollywood Bouldevard with Carol Channing and all her friends posing with her star on the Walk of Stars. The famed performer definitely has lived a productive life, and is still kicking, as she so actively proved on Monday night.

via Carol Channing’s 90th Birthday bash in Hollywood had stars from the past (Video) – National Celebrity Headlines |




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I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady from Rwanda


Just a reminder, my partner Steve Willis returns to the stage as an actor this week in “I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady from Rwanda.”

I say this play in Chapel Hill and would recommend it even without the special connection.

Details below:




Thursday, February 10 at 7:30pm – February 13 at 3:00pm

Location The Little Theatre, Bennett College for Women

More Info
The Bennett Players present the Triad premiere of I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA, a play by Sonja Linden, Thursday through Saturday, February 10-12, at 7:30pm; and Sunday, February 13, at 3pm.

Advance reservatrions are not required. Tickets will be sold at the door: $10 (Adults), $5 (Bennett employees, alumnae, and non-Bennett students), and $2 (Bennett students).

The play is directed by Beth Ritson, Assistant Professor of Theatre and Speech at Bennett and features senior Theatre major, Tarshai Peterson (from Washington, DC), and Steve Willis, Associate Professor of Theatre and Speech and Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Bennett.

Simon, a British poet (played by Willis) meets a young Rwandan woman, Juliette, (played by Peterson) who has survived the 1994 genocide. As Juliette struggles to write a first-hand account of her tragic experience, the play becomes a story about the healing power of writing and friendship that crosses cultural barriers.



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Paper Lantern Theatre presents “End Days”

I really enjoyed tonight’s sold-out performance of “End Days” as presented by The Paper Lantern Theatre Company at Triad Stage’s Upstage Cabaret here in Greensboro.

The production is beautifully acted and directed.  The play itself has some problems.  It’s over-written, a little repetitive, in places, and I think would play better if cut to a 90 minute play with no-intermission.  Also, it has the episodic/skit structure that is so popular with younger playwrights who were raised watching television.  However, it still makes for a very enjoyable evening in the theatre.

It’s the extremely talented cast and artful direction that really make it work.

If it’s not sold out for the last performances,  I would recommend you see it.

I also applaud Paper Lantern for doing so many new plays here in the Triad.  They are a great addition to our  theatrical community.  Paper Lantern consistently provides people here with a chance to see plays that made some noise off-Broadway, but would not normally have been done here in the past.  And they do them all very well…

I wish them a long and successful life!

More info from

Triad Stage presents Paper Lantern Theatre Co’s production of End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer, January 19-30 at Triad Stage’s UpStage Cabaret, 232 South Elm St, Greensboro.

End Days marks Paper Lantern Theatre Company’s two-year anniversary. In this rapturously funny play, Deborah Zoe Laufer addresses the question, If the rapture was indeed on its way this Wednesday, which of your close ones would be saved…truly saved? Variety describes End Days as “…a satirical dark comedy with a moral edge.”

Sixteen year old Rachel Stein (played by Cheryl Koski) is having a bad year. Her father (played by Lee Spencer) hasn’t changed out of his pajamas since 9/11. Her mother (played by Amy daLuz) has begun a close, personal relationship with Jesus (played by Matt Palmer). Her new neighbor, a sixteen-year-old Elvis impersonator (played by Chris Raddatz), has fallen for her hard. And the Apocalypse is coming on Wednesday. Her only hope is that Stephen Hawking (played by Matt Palmer) will save them all.

via Paper Lantern Theatre presents End Days by Deborah Zoe Laufer | Paper Lantern Theatre | Triad Stage–Upstage Cabaret | PERFORMING ARTS |

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