Tuesday, May 30, 2006
More on "Abner" from Greg
I enjoyed reading the blog review of the Goodspeed Li'l Abner. It was especially fun to link over to the Goodspeed site and see the clips they had up from their current production.
It's worth noting that this year marks the show's 50th anniversary, and also providing a link to the DVD of the movie at Amazon.com.
The film is a rare example of an extremely faithful adaptation of a stage musical, and features many of the original Broadway cast members (including Peter Palmer's Abner, Howard St. John's General Bullmoose, Carmen Alvarez's Moonbeam McSwine, and of course Julie Newmar's Stupefyin' Jones). It's also noteworthy for the appearance in the chorus of 17-year-old Valerie Harper in her first major gig (especially
noticeable in the "Put 'Em Back" number) as well as 18-year-old Beth Howland in a bit part early on (as a 14-year-old who'll be available for the Sadie Hawkins Day race "as soon as her divorce comes through.")
Watching the movie (filmed in splashes of super-bright, cartoon-like colors), it's easy to see why the show was such a "good time" hit back then (certainly it represented a contrast to the other big 1956 hits, "My Fair Lady" and "Bells Are Ringing"), but it's curious that it's fallen out of the regular repertoires at community theatres and civic light opera companies.
I believe my high school did Lil Abner in the mid-70's a year or two before I arrive there, but I don't recall another opportunity to see it around here since then. And I've never seen the movie either. Very curious, personally, to see it.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Li'l Abner playing at the Goodspeed
Li'l Abner is apparently one of Suzy's favorite shows, so she was excited to have a chance to see it done live. In fact she's crossing her fingers hoping for a Broadway revival! Perhaps we'll just convince the Broadway Baby to come to the Bay Area and see it at 42nd St. Moon!
Hey Suzy: It's playing at the same time as BlogHer, so you could kill two birds with one stone!
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Moonie Moving On: Lisa Peers
Moonie Lisa Peers, here with David Curley
Long-time Moonie Lisa Peers is moving, and we thought we'd get a little Lisa Peers retrospective before she went. Lisa kindly answered my questions about her tenure as a Moonie and her future plans:
How did you come upon 42nd St. Moon?
Juliette Morgan and I were in the same year in the American Conservatory Theater training program back in the early 1990s, and Dan Johnson was a year ahead of us. Juliette told me about this great musical theater company that specialized in old musicals; Dan had just done one or two shows with them, and Juliette was getting ready to do her first. I went to my first audition there and fully expected to be anointed the next Ethel Merman. Instead, Greg corrected my lyrics when I sang "Bewitched." Thankfully, he forgave me, cast me in "Goodtime Charley" as Bill Fahrner's mother ... and soon enough, I performed Ethel's role in "Girl Crazy," with Bill playing my husband. (If I stick it long enough, I assume Bill will some day play my father ...)
What turned you into a Moonie regular?
The easy answer is, I just kept showing up! 42nd Street Moon specializes in the shows that suit my vocal range, performing style, and sense of humor, so I was bound to worm my way into at least one show each season. I've done a dozen productions, at least six fundraisers, a cabaret and two CD projects with the company. I got my Equity card thanks to Greg giving me a chorus contract for "On a Clear Day." I was the organization's first office manager and helped with the move to Moon Space. Hell, I even did three shows and a CD while pregnant with my daughter, Davis. How could I not be a Moonie after all that?
What was your favorite show and favorite role?
I gotta say, "Out of This World" was just that. It had a stellar script,
nifty score, and a professionally hysterical cast. Everyone in it got his or her moment to shine. The audience ate it up; it never got old. I got to wear a great hat. I got to jitterbug with David "Mars" Miailovich. Getting drunk and propositioning Darlene Popovic every night was a dream come true. And, having Isadora written with me in mind was an honor and a gift.
Which former Moonies do you miss?
Are Moonies every truly gone? It seems like we all come back into orbit at some point. I'd love to work with Lesley Hamilton again, if for no other reason that to let people see us both in the same room together to prove that we're two different people. And Richard Pardini - whether playing a befuddled Topekan in Russia or Tallulah Bankhead - always makes me laugh to the point of embarrassment.
What sends you to Michigan?
The move is for a lot of grown-up reasons. My partner's parents and sisters live within five minutes of our new house. My family is on the East Coast, and I wanted to be less than a day's travel away now that Mom is 80. My kids need a back yard and a good school within walking distance. We sold our house in a seller's market and bought in a buyer's market. All the pieces fit together.
What are your theater plans?
Actually, what may be next is a fundraiser concert in Toledo with ...
Juliette! (See, I told you we all come back into orbit!) Juliette's husband Bill Quinlan started a professional theater company, so this will likely be my introduction into the Midwestern theater scene. After that, if I don't find a friendly theater company specializing in musicals from the Golden Era, I will likely go back to doing cabaret. I will certainly have plenty of material.
Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Lisa...we'll miss you and best of luck in Michigan, Toledo, and all the Midwestern cabarets you can find! :)
Monday, May 22, 2006
Last minute free tix for East Bay types: see 1776 tonight!
Tonight is the first preview of "1776" at The Willows Theatre in Concord. Traditionally, The Willows offers free tickets to it's first preview to "poor theatre workers" - all you have to do is show up with some sort of proof that you are a "poor theatre worker". Proof can be a playbill/program with your name in it, a membership card for Theatre Bay Area, Equity, SAG, etc., or even your headshot & resume!
The box office opens at 6:30pm, and curtain is at 7:30pm. The theatre is located at 1975 Diamond Boulevard (in the Willows Shopping Center) in Concord. For directions or more info about the show, you can visit Russ' site.
There will be a brief talkback after the show, plus (for all my actor friends!) The Willows serves alcohol in the lobby before the show and during intermission. So come get liquored up and see a great show!
Schedule details for 2006/2007
Just thought I'd do a run-down of performance schedules for next season, since we haven't done that here. If you're interested in Season Tickets, call 415-255-8207 on Tues.-Fri. between 12-5PM.
Li'l Abner (Mercer/De Paul/Panama/Frank)
July 20th-August 13th (2006)
Opens July 22nd
Pardon My English (Gershwin/Gershwin/Ives)
October 19th-November 5th (2006)
Opens October 21st
Flora the Red Menace (Kander/Ebb/Thompson)
November 16th-December 3rd (2006)
Opens November 18th
March 15th-April 1st (2007)
Opens March 17th
(Notice how this one opens on St. Patrick's Day and closes on April Fool's Day!!)
Gay Divorce (Porter/Taylor)
April 12th-May 6th (2007)
Opens April 14th
You can buy a season subscription for Previews, for Opening Nights, for Sunday matinees with cast discussion, and of course for other weekend or weeknight performances. The preview subscription is only $85...which is a great discount. Again, call 415-255-8207 if interested.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Couple more Gala shots
Laura Lutz, auction chair Joanna Leighton-Nevesney, and auctioneer par excellence Fritz Hatton working out the details of the auction:
Friday, May 19, 2006
Shots from the Gala
Klea Blackhurst and Steve Rhyne being utterly charming singing their Call Me Madam duet:
Much of the cast singing, I believe, "Hernando's Hideaway" with Ann Morrisson:
And it's 42nd St. Moon Board President on the right in this shot:
UPDATED: Blast from the Past: A shot from the Something For the Boys recording session
UPDATED: Greg reminds me that: "Something for the Boys performed in Sept/Oct 1997, was recorded around the second or third week of October."
Thanks Greg...I knew I could count on you :)
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Moonie in the World: Stephanie Rhoads
No, it is not some terrifying biological scourge...I am doing a concert on the Peninsula this Sunday afternoon that should be quite fun. I am singing some Kurt Weill (one in German) & a One Touch of Venus song & Sondheim ("There Won't Be Trumpets", "Worst Pies in London", "I Wish I Could Forget You" from Passion). I am nervous as heck...Sunday afternoon @ 3PM (2PM for lecture) More info here.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
In praise of Dave
It was nice that they turned over the stage to Dave alone to play the overture from My Fair Lady, but he shone throughout the evening...whether solo or accompanying.
In fact, at the end of the show my friend wanted to shake his hand! (But, true to my impatient, I-live-in-San-Jose-and-that's-a-long-drive-home form, I wanted to scurry out of there pretty quickly.)
I play the piano, in mediocre fashion, so I am 100% appreciative of how difficult it is to makeeven a grand piano sound liek an orchestra...and appreciative of how easy Dave makes it seem.
And obviously I'm not the only one who notices :)
I love small world coincidences
I met Alex Kaprielian's mom last night...and if you wonder where Alex's talent comes from - it's such a small world - her Mom and I went to the same high school together (Mercy, SF) and I remember Alex's mother from her star turn as Fraulein Maria in Mercy's production of "The Sound of Music." (mid-'70s)!
So, now I've dated both Annette and Alex's mom!
But that really is a small world coincidence!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The 2006 Gala: and a good time was had by all!
I brought a friend who is way into old musicals, and his night was made just by being in the Alcazar Theatre and seeing the vintage original movie posters they have on their walls.
But there was so much more. I got to see people spend big chunks of change on auction items and then of course there was the concert.
Guest stars Klea Blackhurst and Ann Morrisson totally lived up to their billing. Wow. Both of them were phenomenal. Ann got to do a real variety of numbers and showed great physicality and energy along with her seamless vocals. Klea, of course, can just fill the room with her warm vocals (that I'd actually take over Merman's any day, if I'm being honest!)
And it was fun to see the regular Moon performers through my friend's eyes, since he wasn't familiar with anyone. I was, like, "yeah, you're right! Stephanie really is terrific!" And "Bill Fahrner does indeed have a wonderful rich voice."
I know Intrepid Annette was there camera in hand, so I'll post pictures when I have them.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Greg in nanoseconds, as predicted
Actually, dear, you were around during my last foray onto the stage in a Moon Musical. It was Jerome Kern's Very Warm for May during our 1995 Hammerstein and Hart season, and I played Kenny, a reformed gangster. It was a dream role, really; I had 20 fabulous minutes at the top of the show, then sat in the dressing room reading Agatha Christie and mainlining Diet Pepsi until my 20 fabulous minutes at the end of the show, which concluded with me singing a reprise of "All the Things You Are" with a stage direction per the script to "sing badly," which of course, I followed to a "t."
I remember vividly our closing Sunday matinee, we had a spontaneous standing ovation, which sent us out on a high, and the rest of the cast went out to party, while I stayed at NCTC to run the dress rehearsal of the show I was directing on my off-nights from May -- that would be I Married an Angel, starring Joseph Lustig, Lesley Hamilton, Marcia Pizzo and -- oh, gee, who else was in that cast? Oh, that's right ... Spencer Aste. [Ed. Note: plus a yet-to-be-prominent blogger making her 42nd St. Moon debut, yes, that would be me!]
I can't believe I had the energy to do that. The only thing that made it possible was that, for that year only, we dumped Thursday nights and did Saturday matinees instead -- so we rehearsed Angel on Sunday through Thursday nights and, I believe, some Saturday mornings, and took Fridays off (when I had May performances). I'm practically having a nervous breakdown just remembering that schedule...
You may or may not recall that the OJ Simpson trial reached its verdict one night just before our dress rehearsal, which only added to the general feeling of craziness (for me.) And then Angel opened to that rave Chronicle review, and I had a lovely week off before I started directing Three Sisters. Okay, I need to stop now, I'm scaring myself.
UPDATED: More on Julie Newmar
Here's Julie in her "Stupefyin' Jones" get-up. I should mention that when Encores! did Li'l Abner in New York in 1998, Ms. Newmar was once again "Stupefyin'," 42 years after originating the part on Broadway. She was also in the original cast of Silk Stockings, another favorite Moon show...
UPDATED: More from Greg that I forgot to include: It wasn't just Broadway musicals for Catwoman. She was notably one of the seven brides in the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (she was, need I even say, the tall one), although her name was still Julie Newmayer at the time, and her hair was brown.
And besides Catwoman, I loved her best as Rhoda the Robot in My Living Doll on CBS with Bob Cummings, although I categorically deny that I'm actually old enough to have watched it during its original run.
"Tell me I'm beautiful, it's nothing. Tell me I'm intellectual - I know it. Tell me I'm funny and it's the greatest compliment in the world anyone could give me." -- Julie Newmar.
[Ed note: My Living Doll? Rhoda the Robot. You got me on that one!]
Friday, May 12, 2006
Scoop: Lil Abner cast announced
Here is the Li'l Abner cast, save one -- the role of "Stupefyin' Jones" (made famous by Julie Newmar on Broadway and in the movie) has not been cast yet. Dyan McBride is the director, Tom Segal is the choreographer. The cast represents a nice mix of "Moonie" regulars and people making their Moon debuts:
LI'L ABNER -- Jason Winfield
DAISY MAE -- Elizabeth Earnheart
MARRYIN' SAM -- Greg MacKellan
MAMMY YOKUM -- Libby Trull
PAPPY YOKUM -- Michael Austin
GENERAL BULLMOOSE -- Michael Patrick Gaffney
APPASIONATA VON CLIMAX -- Nina Josephs
DR. FINSDALE/MAYOR DAWGMEAT -- Tony Panighetti
SENATOR PHOGBOUND -- Tom Orr
EARTHQUAKE McGOON -- Brian Rosen
MOONBEAM MCSWINE/DR. SCHLEIFITZ -- Gemma Barozzi
EVIL EYE FLEAGLE et al -- Matthew Brandon Hutchens
SPEEDY McRABBIT et al -- Benjamin Pither
ZSA ZSA et al -- Molly Coogan
APRIL MUDHEN et al -- Meghann May
TOBACCO RHODA et al -- Fiona Cheung
Wow, did you notice what I noticed? Greg is actually playing a role. I'm trying to remember the last time he trod the boards during the regular season and failing. (I'm sure Greg will email and tell me within nanoseconds of this post going up.)
Also I had no idea Julie Newmar was a Broadway musical type in her pre-Catwoman days. Sounds like from the character name that her role on Broadway also relied on her sex appeal.
And for a real sneak peek, check out Lil Abner and Daise Mae:
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
SPECIAL OFFER: Get 50% off gala tix online
Those tix can be purchased online at either Goldstar Events, or at the Theatre Bay Area half-price tickets booth (in person or online.)
PS-You have to register as a member of Gold Star Events to take advantage of the offer via their site, but that's not true re: buying tix via TBA. I'm just sayin'.
Can't say $50 ain't a bargain for cocktails and hors d'oeurvres and a silent auction and a 90-minute show, now can you? Especially when it's tax deductible :)
Monday, May 08, 2006
Check out 42nd St. Moon photos on the right
I realized I had dozens and dozens of pictures, and they only got one-time use in blog psots here. Having this film loop lets them run at the top of the site forever! Enjoy :)
I like the troublesome Mack and Mabel storyline!
If this show opened these days I don't think it would have problems due to the sordid and sad end to Mabel's career. I always think of Sweeney Todd as the original musical tragedy (I'm sure Greg will cite a million other and earlier examples) but certainly many musicals have echewed the happy ending in the last couple of decades...and managed to have healthy long runs despite that. They could have gone even darker were the show being produced today, perhaps. And produced it some place like Studio 54, a la the recent revival of Cabaret.
I, for one, am always touched by the poignancy of re-imagining what might have been. The ending of Mack and Mabel is Mack's imagining of a real old-fashioned wedding and happy ending for he and Mabel. It brought a tear to my eye. And it reminded me, for some reason, of the end of the movie Longitme Companion when Campbell Scott's character imagines the day AIDS is cured, the world party that will ensue, and imagines his dead friends back to celebrate. I still get a tear in my eye whenever I remember that scene.
The part of the storyline I find far more troublesome is how domineering and belittline Mack could be to Mabel. That's the part that may have shot down the show in the 70s, when the feminist movement was getting started. And that's the part that might beharder to take in this day and age.
Anyway, I've been thinking about the sad ending since I saw the show yesterday, and that's my take on it.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Some hot new items for the auction...
Moonie-turned-cabaret star Russ Lorenson (last seen in THE GOLDEN APPLE) will be donating his singing and his band, the Kelly Park Trio's, services for your own party! (value? We would say priceless, but actually he's been auctioned off before, and the last time he did this for another charity, the winning bid was $2100!)
The Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael has donated two (2) subscriptions to their 2006-07 Singer & Songwriter series, valued at $300. Next year's season includes concerts by Klea Blackhurst (!), Broadway stars Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway, and rising cabaret stars Maude Maggart (she's rock star Fiona Apple's sister!) and Tony DeSare.
Moonie Kristopher McDowell, who also runs the Central Cabaret Series in Stockton/Modesto, is donating tickets to an upcoming show along with a one-night's stay at a local bed and breakfast.
All of these new items sound pretty awesome, and perfect for a Moon fan.
Russ continues to garner great reviews for his CD and live performances, as does Kristopher in that same review. I've personally been to the Marin Singer & Songwriter series quite a few times. It's a great venue, and they get amazing cabaret artists that you rarely see outside New York.
What other tidbits can they possibly come up with in the next 10 days? Certainly is worth checking out the Gala though, don't you think?
Moonies out in the world: Cameron Weston and Brandy Collazo
We've got a twofer folks! Received this note from Cameron Weston:
Both Brandy Colazzo (Red, Hot and Blue!, Roar of the Greasepaint...,etc.) and me, Cameron Weston (Red, Hot and Blue!) are appearing at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto as part of the Palo Alto Players' production of Urinetown. I'm playing Officer Lockstock, and Brandy is an amazing Hope Cladwell. We've been getting tremendous reviews (check out the latest one, this from Palo Alto Weekly.)
We run through May 14th and its totally worth a trip down 101.
What Cameron is to humble to tell you is that he and Brandy are both singled out with extremely warm praise in the aforementioned review.
I love Urinetown, having recently been reminded of just how gut-bustingly funny it is when I saw last winter's production at Foothill Music Theatre. If you haven't seen this show (or even if you have) I highly recommend you check it out.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Moonie in the world: David Curley
john & jen is by Andrew Lippa, he of The Wild Party and The Little Princess fame.
It runs May 18th through June 10th.
Visit the site for more info, plus you can call (650) 941-0551 for reservations or buy tickets online.
Auction update and Moonie in the World news
The Mountain Play Association in Mill Valley has just made a donation for 42nd St. Moon's 2006 Gala and Silent Auction. They've donated four tickets to the opening performance of "Fiddler On the Roof" for Sunday, May 21st at 1 p.m. Tix valued at $118.
And to sweeten the pot for Moon fans: Moonie Nina Josephs (Miss Liberty and The Golden Apple) plays Hodel in this production.
Once again, here are the deets for the Gala:
WHEN: Monday, May 15, 2006
Doors open at 5:30 pm for cocktails (donation appreciated), complimentary hors d'oeurvres from our partner restaurants, and Silent and Live auction offerings include musical theater history, vacation opportunities, celebrity dinners, and other things tantilizing, alluring, tasty, relaxing and impossible to resist.
Show time is at 7:30 pm
Alcazar Theatre @ 650 Geary Street - San Francisco
FOR TICKETS & INFORMATION, CALL:
Thursday, May 04, 2006
UPDATED: Mack and Mabel online review
"It certainly worked with local favorites Bill Fahrner as Mack and Cindy Goldfield as Mabel both in excellent voice with Fahrner doing the best acting to make Sennett come to life."
"A strong supporting cast includes charming, handsome local favorite Steve Rhyne (Frank as in Frank Capra), Kalon Thibodeaux as Mr. Kessel, Benjamin Pither as Mr. Bauman and special kudos to Sean Partrick Murtagh for the pitch perfect role of Fatty Arbuckle."
"This, Dyan McBride’s directorial debut at 42nd Street Moon, is excellent and reflects her past experience as actor, director and teacher. She is supported by the always competent musical director Dave Dobrusky and choreographer (42nd Street debut for Staci Arriaga ) who includes individual and ensemble soft shoe and tap dancing with four bathing beauties (Christa Boggs, Fiona Cheung, Molly Ann Coogan, Mary Kalita)."
UPDATED: Greg wrote to update me on one little erratum in the above review:
Mack & Mabel does not mark Dyan McBride's directorial debut with us! She directed a fun production of the Jule Styne/Comden & Green musical Do Re Mi for us back in 2001, featuring Bob Green, Lisa Peers, Richard Pardini, and Patrick Leveque. After that, she disappeared into the wilds of UC Davis, where she spent the intervening years acquiring her MFA, or we would have had her back well before this!
Thanks as ever Greg, for being so on the ball for the blog.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Mack and Mabel praise from a long-time Moon fan
MACK AND MABEL last Sunday was truly outstanding, one of the top five or six in all these years. Always much liked Bill Fahrner, but this time he was special. JD
This note was special too, JD!
Don't forget this is the last weekend for Mack and Mabel, and the show has been selling really really well. Get 'em while they're hot.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Mack and Mabel review from Inside Bay Area
Check it out.
Monday, May 01, 2006
A few more items for the Gala Auction
California Pizza Kitchen (on Van Ness in SF) has donated a dinner for two (entree & soft drink).
A pair of tickets, courtesy of Bay Area Cabaret, to opera singer Patricia Racette's show at the Venetian Room on Saturday, May 20th.
Tickets are still available for the May 15th Gala.
FOR TICKETS & INFORMATION CALL: 415-255-8207