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Archive for October, 2016

Bruce Vilanch Visits Lake View For Legacy Walk

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

Chicago Pride
Bruce Vilanch Visits Lake View
By Jerry Nunn
Oct 21, 2016

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Bruce Vilanch went from a bathhouse bestie to a six time Emmy Award winner. Beginning as a Chicago Tribune writer he met a struggling singer named Bette Midler and began writing for her. This led to more writing gigs including the Academy Awards and many concerts.

He performed in an Off-Broadway one man show and on Broadway in the musical Hairspray. On TV he’s judged RuPaul’s Drag Race and starred in the third season of Celebrity Fit Club. In the movies he was the subject of a documentary Get Bruce! and the gay body image documentary The Adonis Factor.

Recently, he visited Chicago for a dedication ceremony in Lake View’s Legacy Walk for activist Vito Russo.

JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hi, Bruce. Do you have a favorite new t-shirt?

BV: (Bruce Vilanch) I always like the ones that are current.

JN: Like a Trump one?

BV: Yes, it would say, “Like his hand is big enough to grab a pussy!”

JN: Are you glad to be back in Chicago?

BV: I love it here. When I lived here in the ‘70s there was no River North. The old Chicago that I loved is here.

This Legacy Walk is unique and something for people to do while they are here. It is important for all people to include it in their itinerary whether gay or straight. People come here for Market Days and IML from all over the world. It would be nice if they could sprinkle a little community awareness into the mix. It is in the middle of the party zone so they can’t avoid it. It will never be the Hollywood Walk of Fame but no one has anything like this.

JN: Talk about Vito Russo. I know he was good friends with Lily Tomlin.

BV: He stayed with Lily when he visited California. I met him through Bette Midler. He was an early fan and saw her at the baths. He got her to do early gay liberation things with him. This was all in the documentary that was about him.

He was a weird combination of activist and film critic. He wanted to recognize the role of gay people in the film business and how they were depicted. He was a pioneer. He was also a big party boy. He was a renaissance man!

JN: I remember when the trailer for Making Love came out and it was the first big gay movie.

BV: It was the first mainstream movie. There were lots of foreign and indie movies before that. At the time it was treated the only way it could have been treated, as a social issue. Hopefully we have come out of that.

When you watch Modern Family where it is one couple of a multiple couple family you realize that it is getting there.

JN: What is your opinion about gay movies these days?

BV: Now everyone can watch a movie on their telephone. We put them out there in the mainstream with film festivals but they are mostly lousy movies. I remember when La Cage aux Folles came out. It was shortly after Making Love. There was a big debate on how we want to be depicted, sensitive muscle men or old queens in drag? That is the community. We run the spectrum. No one is being dishonest. You have to learn to accept that is who we are. Not every Black woman is Diahann Carroll or every Black man is Sidney Poitier. There is a full range of humanity out there. We have to embrace it and own it. If we own it then they can’t mess with it.

JN: What do you think of the show Grace and Frankie?

BV: I love them. It is fun to watch. They are all friends of mine.

JN: Are you planning on watching Hairspray Live?

BV: Of course. I want to see what they do with it. Harvey has rewritten it and shortened it. It looks well cast. I think they are doing it more along the Grease model than The Sound of Music model, which is a good thing.

The stage show of Grease started here at Kingston Mines in Lincoln Park. I was the first one to write about it in 1970. I am very proud of that. I knew it would be bigger than Hair. The creators looked at me like I was out of my mind. It is the biggest thing ever and I said it would be.

The Grease that you see now has had a lot of the sting taken out of it, including the homophobia.

Here it was done in a high school space and we all sat on the floor of the gym on mats. During intermission they threw Twinkies into the crowd, candy not young boys! It was early interactive theater.

JN: Like Rocky Horror?

BV: Yes, kind of like what it became after the movie. It has evolved.

JN: What are you working on now?

BV: I wrote a musical, which we did in the summer in Connecticut. It with all of Petula Clark’s music from the ‘60s. It has an original book, so think Mamma Mia! We want that to happen again.

JN: I was just listening to Petula and thinking why hasn’t someone done a musical about her?

BV: It is not about her. I told her at a benefit about it and she said, “I hope it’s not about me because I am very boring.”

She is not Carole King or Frankie Valli. Her story is not that story. It is not dramatic. So we are using the music to tell another story like Mamma Mia!

BWW Review: A Hysterical UMPO HOCUS POCUS Carries You to the Divine

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Broadway World
BWW Review: A Hysterical UMPO HOCUS POCUS Carries You to the Divine
October 21, 2016
By Gil Kaan

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THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF HOCUS POCUS/written by John Flynn & Kate Pazakis/directed by Tye Blue/musical direction by Gregory Nabours/Rockwell Table & Stage/thru November 19, 2016

Executive Producer Kate Pazakis has done it again with her latest UMPO production THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF HOCUS POCUS. Director Tye Blue effectively corrals his vocally gifted cast in gloriously performing re-purposed pop tunes in between delivering Pazakis and John Flynn’s cleverly written homage to the 1993 film Hocus Pocus (starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy). No worries if you haven’t seen the movie. You will be howling anyway at this Halloween tale of three witches returning from the dead 300 years later to wreck havoc in (where else?) Salem, Massachusetts. A great part of the fun’s recognizing ‘vintage’ pop songs that have been re-fitted into the HOCUS POCUS narrative.

Totally inhabiting the Bette Midler part of Winifred Sanderson (the oldest sister of the three), Marissa Jaret Winokur readily displays the reasons she won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Musical Actress (HAIRSPRAY). Winokur spouts Winifred’s lines out with the best comic timing and warbles Bette’s songs (“The Rose,” “From a Distance”) most beautifully. Another treat has Winokur embellish the film’s “I Put a Spell On You.”

Cindy Sciacca, commands in the Kathy Najimy role of Mary Sanderson, the middle sis. Only in live theatre, the unexpected interruptions or miscues can bring interesting results. Sciacca had an unexpected incident and handled it so well, she literally stopped the show until the uproarious laughter finally subsided minutes later. That’s a great pro move!

Ava Gaudet quite assuredly filled Carrie Bradshaw’s Manolos as Sarah Sanderson (played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the film). Bars of the recognizable “Sex and the City” theme would frequently play under Gaudet’s on-target Carrie-esque lines.

Tom DeTrinis appeared to be having the best of fun as Binx, the little boy turned into a cat. DeTrinis’ well-timed paw licking or tail gesturing would consistently grab your attention and your laugh reflexes.

Benjamin Schrader scored as the virginal Max Dennison as he pursued the more sexually- knowledgeable Allison (winningly played by Kelley Jakle). Their seduction scene managed to be so funny, yet so hot!

Lana McKissack shined as Dani Dennison, Max’s adventurous, fearless older sis.

Nathan Moore easily disappeared into his five different roles providing the complementary reasons for abundant bouts of laughter.

Opening night had Bruce Vilanch as Guest Narrator introducing the evening with his dependably funny (and topical) takes on the Sanderson Sisters. Peter Allen Vogt quite ably resumed the Narrator role for the rest of the evening offering witty barbs in between (and sometimes, during) sips of various liquors. Too funny!

Katherine Tokarz deserves high props for her choreography, especially her very cool re-enactment of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” danced by the whole cast.

Kudos to costumer Chadd McMillan for his spot-on Sanderson Sisters outfits, the Blinx cat jumpsuit; as well as, the attire of the regular humans of the townsfolk. Shout-out to BobbiePinz/Bobbie Zlotnik for the re-created Sanderson Sisters wigs.

Hard to find the perfect seat in the Rockwell main room as the action uses not only the stage, but every inch of the room (and a few willing laps).

The spot-on UMPO band (led by musical director Gregory Nabours on piano; with Blake Estrada on bass, Emily Rosenfield on guitar and Gregory Sadler on drums) rocked as always, provided the driving musicality to the UMPO HOCUS POCUS soundtrack which includes: AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind,” Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero,” Backstreet Boys’ “Backstreet’s Back.”

With the UMPO’s practice of double casting (and more than occasional surprise guest casting), who knows which singing and dancing talents you’ll get to see in THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF HOCUS POCUS. But they’ll probably, most assuredly, be all great!

Bruce Vilanch To Appear On ‘Day of Disruption’ on National Coming Out Day (Tuesday, October 11)

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

lgbtweekly.com
Logo to symbolically censor LGBT content with ‘Day of Disruption’ on National Coming Out Day
by Steve Lee, Editor
October 10th, 2016

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NEW YORK, NY — Logo today announced it will symbolically censor LGBT content on-air and online in a show of solidarity with international LGBT people who live in countries where positive LGBT media images are invisible or banned. The unprecedented ‘Day of Disruption,’ part of Logo’s international LGBT project, Global Ally, takes place on Tuesday, October 11 on National Coming Out Day, a day dedicated to celebrating coming out and living openly as LGBT. This year, Logo is flipping the script and providing a glimpse at what life could be like in countries where LGBT people can’t turn on the television, open the newspaper, or go to social media to see positive and relatable images. During a marathon of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 8, Logo will symbolically censor LGBT content, display facts about international LGBT issues, and provide ways to stand in solidarity with LGBT people who cannot or do not feel safe to come out and live openly.

And a video of an activist originally from Iran on how lack of LGBT media images impacted his coming out:

Candis Cayne, Gus Kentworthy, Trace Lysette, Jason Collins, Geena Rocero, Billy Porter, Omar Sharif Jr., JD Samson, Alec Mapa and Bruce Vilanch will appear on Logo throughout the ‘Day of Disruption’ to speak out about the 72 countries where being LGBT is criminalized and the 10 countries where gay and lesbian relationships can be punishable by death. Logo will also release videos of activists from Russia, Iran, Singapore and more discussing how media censorship impacts their lives.

The ‘censored’ marathon of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 8 starts at 6am ET/PT on Tuesday, October 11. During the marathon, openly LGBT contestants and guests will have their eyes blocked by a black bar, drag outfits will be pixelated, and audio bleeps will disrupt LGBT content. A static graphic will feature facts about LGBT criminalization laws, ways to take action at Logo’s GlobalAlly.org, as well as statistics from the ILGA-RIWI 2016 Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People. Content on LogoTV.com, NewNowNext.com, and Logo’s social media channels will also be disrupted and direct followers to take action in solidarity with the global LGBT community at http://globalally.org/censoryourself.

The all new and highly anticipated finale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars” will air Thursday, Oct. 13 at 9pm ET/PT.

Logo’s ‘Day of Disruption’ is the latest initiative in Global Ally, an international LGBT storytelling project (http://globalally.org) featuring video profiles, first-of-its-kind research and the most robust and interactive site dedicated to global LGBT issues.

Bruce Vilanch To Host ‘Right This Way Your Table’s Waiting October 16 At The Los Angeles Cabaret

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

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It’s the third annual CABARET IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN LOS ANGELES, a 3-night, 2-show, 2-venue celebration of Los Angeles Cabaret as a benefit for The Actors Fund.  Conceived and Directed by David Galligan and presented by Fraser Entertainment Group, the Friday-Sunday event takes place October 14th-16th.  Buy advance online tickets to both shows and save. $60 for both shows. $50 single ticket for “Together at Last…”; $25 for “Right This Way...”

Please join us for:

“Together at Last for the Third Time”, two evenings of song, starring accomplished women of Cabaret at Tom Rolla’s Gardenia, 7066 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood on Friday, October 14th and Saturday, October 15th at 9PM.  Doors open at 7 for dinner.  ADVANCE DINNER RESERVATION REQUIRED FOR PREMIUM SEATING. PLEASE CALL THE CLUB  323-467-7444 – TO MAKE YOUR DINNER RESERVATION. TICKET PURCHASE ALONE DOES NOT GURANTEE SEATING IN THE MAIN DINING ROOM. Otherwise, the two-drink minimum applies.

Scheduled to appear:  Michele Brourman (Fri. only), Mary Jo Catlett, Carole Cook, Ilene Graff & Ben Lanzarone, Jane A. Johnston, Marsha Kramer, Pat Marshall, Kevin Odekirk, Lilli Passero, Lisa Passero, Marcia Rodd, Lisa Vroman, Pat Whiteman & Jo Anne Worley. Music Director Gerald Sternbach.

Click here for Night #1 and Night #2:  ”Together at Last for the Third Time”, Friday, 10/14 and Saturday, 10/15 at Tom Rolla’s Gardenia

“Right This Way, Your Table’s Waiting”, a superb line-up of singers from the worlds of stage, film, television and Cabaret at the Catalina Jazz Club, 6725 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood on Sunday, October 16th at 7:30PM (doors open at 6). Two-item food/beverage minimum applies.

Scheduled to appear:  Eileen Barnett, Karen Benjamin, Loretta Devine, Barrett Foa, Dianne Fraser, Julie Garnyé, Gary Imhoff, Mark Arthur Miller, Walter Winston Oneil, Kate Pazakis, Joan Ryan, Sally Struthers & Joanne Tatham.  Hosted by Peter Marc Jacobson & Bruce Vilanch. Special Appearance by Fran Drescher.
Music Director Michael Sobie.

Click here for Night #3 Right This Way, Sunday 10/16 at the Catalina Jazz Club

Future Productions Planned for New Musical A SIGN OF THE TIMES Following Goodspeed Run

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Broadway World
Future Productions Planned for New Musical A SIGN OF THE TIMES Following Goodspeed Run
By Broadway World Staff
September 22, 2016

 

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A Sign of the Times, the new pop-fueled musical featuring songs made famous by Petula Clark and other hit-makers of the 1960s, recently wrapped up a successful five-week run at Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn. where the show played from July 29 – September 4 to packed houses. News of an upcoming production will be announced.

“Welcoming A Sign of the Times for its first full developmental production, and watching it grow over the course of its run, was a thrill for all of us at Goodspeed Musicals,” said Executive Director Michael Gennaro. “We’re so pleased that the show proved to be one of the most highly rated shows by Goodspeed audiences.”

Creator and producer Richard Robin added, “A Sign of the Times truly found its feet under the guidance and support of the top-notch team at Goodspeed. After a summer of audiences humming the sounds of the 60s and connecting with our show’s heroine as she struggles to find her place in an era of change, we’re now looking forward to what’s next as A Sign of the Times explores options for future productions.”

Below is a sampling of what audiences had to say after attending A Sign of the Times:

– “A Sign of the Times was absolutely wonderful, lifting my heart and spirits. It brought back that youthful uplifting feeling of great hope.” – “Just loved this play! It brought me back to my middle to late teenage years. The music and singing and dancing was super! I especially liked that it had humor but also took a look at the racial issues and women’s rights that were so front and center during those years. All in all it was just delightful!” – “I have never had a show leave such an impression on me! I grew up with Petula Clark…”Downtown” was my first 45 record. I can’t get the music out of my head.” – “My wife and I have been to nearly every show that you have produced at both theaters over the last eight years. This is your best so far!” – “A Sign of the Times captured the legacy and impact of the cultural changes wrought by the 60s that were expressed through its music. An inspiring array of songs, outstanding script, crisp choreography, great sets and outstanding performances by all. Bravo for a fabulous show!”

This is the story of Cindy, a 20-something whose dreams are bigger than her Midwestern hometown will allow. Set against the backdrop of New York City in the 1960s women’s liberation, the civil rights movement, and protests of the Vietnam warCindy searches for her place in the world. A Sign of the Times, featuring chart-topping hits from the 1960s, celebrates friendship, love, and discovering one’s sense of self. A Sign of the Times was sponsored by Essex Savings Bank.

1965. The pulse of a changing era lures Cindy from Middle America to the swirl of Manhattan. Unexpected friends, lovers, careers, and conflicts are all a subway ride away in a pop-fueled new musical featuring songs made famous by Petula Clark and other hit-makers of the day. “I Know a Place,” “The Shoop Shoop Song,” and “If I Can Dream” are among the fabulous favorites on an eye-opening ride from innocence to experience. Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares – go “Downtown” and find out who you are!

A Sign of the Times includes popular hits by Petula Clark, as well as classics by Elvis Presley, Lesley Gore, Nancy Sinatra, and Fontella Bass. The musical’s original book is by Emmy Award-winning writer Bruce Vilanch. Vilanch’s career as writer and performer spans the worlds of television, film, and stage. For television he has written for shows as diverse as “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour,” “Donnie and Marie,” “Comic Relief,” and “Hollywood Squares,” as well as serving several years as head writer for the Academy Awards. For Broadway, Bruce not only appeared as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray, but wrote the book for the musical Platinum and penned special material for a number of revues and concerts for the likes of Bette Midler, Michael Feinstein, and Diana Ross, among others.

The cast of A Sign of the Times featured Ephie Aardema (Broadway production of The Bridges of Madison County and Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre production of Snapshots) as Cindy; Robert Lenzi (Broadway’s Tuck Everlasting, and South Pacific) as Brian; Bryan Fenkart (Broadway’s Memphis) as Dennis; Nick Bailey (Broadway production of Casa Valentina) as Matt; and Crystal Lucas-Perry (Little Children Dream of God at the Roundabout Theatre) as Tanya.

The ensemble includes Lauren Boyd (Broadway’s West Side Story), Lauren Nicole Chapman (Broadway’s Kinky Boots), Melessie Clark, Drew Franklin (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at The Goodspeed and Broadway’s Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella), Jeremy Gaston (1st National Tour of Sister Act), Alexandra Matteo (Broadway’s Annie), Keven Quillon (Broadway’s Grease, Shrek the Musical, and Annie), Kevin Santos (Broadway’s In the Heights and the National Tours of A Chorus Line, and West Side Story), Dave Schoonover (National Tour of Young Frankenstein), and Alet Taylor (National Tour and Las Vegas productions of The Producers) who will play Cleo.

A Sign of the Times was directed by Gabriel Barre and choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter. The creative team included Paul Tate DePoo lII (scenic design), Jennifer Caprio (costume design), Ken Billington (lighting design), Benjamin Pearcy (projection design), and Jay Hilton (sound design). Music Direction was by Rick Fox, Music Supervision by Joseph Church, Dance Arrangements by David Dabbon, and Casting was by Tara Rubin Casting.

The story of A Sign of the Times was created by Richard Robin. This production made possible by special arrangement with Richard Robin, president of Wells Street Productions.

For 30 years, The Terris Theatre has been Goodspeed’s home for developing fresh, innovative, and original new musicals. These new works have been developed in Chester, Conn., before they’ve moved on to Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours, and other Regional Theatres. Because this is a developmental theatre, the show can change on a day-to-day basis. New scenes are added, songs are moved, costumes are changed, dialogue is tweaked?all based on audience response and feedback.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the preservation, development and advancement of musical theatre. The first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed produces three musicals each season at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn. and additional productions at The Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn., which was opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals. Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed gratefully acknowledges the support of United Airlines, the official airline of Goodspeed Musicals, and official auto sponsor Hoffman Audi. Goodspeed is supported in part by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.