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New Petula Clark Musical From Bruce Vilanch Could Be Headed to Broadway

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

New Petula Clark Musical From Bruce Vilanch Could Be Headed to Broadway
02/02/2017 03:56 am ET | Updated 6 days ago
By Pollo Del Mar


From penning witty zingers for the Tony Awards to hosting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraisers, Bruce Vilanch is no stranger to the New York theatre community. In 2005, Vilanch even starred as Edna Turnblad in Hairspray. When the Hollywood funnyman returns to Broadway, though, he hopes it’s as writer of the next great jukebox musical.

“Think Mamma Mia!said Vilanch when describing his new musical Sign of the Times. “In fact, please think Mamma Mia! — because Mamma Mia! ran only 12 years, so please think of that!”


Bruce Vilanch has penned a new musical! The hysterical out comic says Sign of the Times, featuring the music of Grammy-winner Petula Clark, could be Broadway-bound soon.

Like other “jukebox musicals” — productions such as Jersey Boys and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical — Sign of the Times utilizes hit pop songs rather than an original score. In this case, the music of Grammy Award-winning, ‘60s British pop icon Petula Clark “and other hit-makers of the day” takes center stage.

“When I was in college, and I was hearing Petula’s music, every time I would hear one of her songs, I’d say, ‘What show is that from?’” the comedian shared during an interview on Party Foul Radio with Pollo & Pearl. “They all sounded so theatrical, because they had big orchestras behind them.”

Vilanch recalled a similar feeling when listening to ABBA years later, he told Podomatic’s No. 1-ranked LGBT podcast. Therefore it was not surprising, he said, when the quartet’s catalogue later became the foundation for the wildly successful Broadway hit Mamma Mia!

“They had these big, Broadway pop arrangements behind everything,” said Vilanch of ABBA, noting that, like the Swedish super-group, Clark’s music also “lends itself very well to a Broadway show.” He said: “It always had that feel from the beginning.”


Having penned three of her stage shows, Bruce Vilanch has worked with legendary Bette Midler for 47 years. “Which is difficult, because she’s only 32,” the comedian quips, “i’m contractually obligated to say that.”

A six-time Emmy Award-winner, Vilanch has supplied jokes to a veritable Hollywood who’s who, was the quirky center square for four seasons of Hollywood Squares, a long-time reporter and columnist for The Advocate and even cowrote Eartha Kitt’s campy 1980s hit “I Need a Man.” A featured writer on almost every major televised awards broadcast, he’s served as head writer for the annual Academy Awards since 2010.

The hilarious blond – equally known for his inimitable appearance – is far more than champion of the one-liner though. He’s written successful stage productions stretching back more than four decades.

Vilanch cowrote Bette Midler’s 1974 Broadway show Clams on a Half Shell and later inked her 1980 epic Divine Madness. The Divine Miss M again teamed with The Divine Miss V for The Showgirl Must Go On, Midler’s 2008 residency at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Vilanch forged a similarly long-standing relationship with Diana Ross. After befriending the MoTown legend on the set of Mahogany, in which he had a bit part, he wrote An Evening with Diana Ross. The show played Vegas, Broadway and was later turned into a television special.


In 2005, Bruce Vilanch starred as “Edna Turnblad” in the Broadway production of Hairspray.

When approached by Richard Robins — “a big real estate guy in Chicago,” who purchased Clark’s musical catalogue — to work on Sign of the Times, Vilanch was “immediately interested.” What emerged is the tale of Cindy, a young woman who moves to New York City in 1965 and (according to production notes) discovers “unexpected friends, lovers, careers, and conflicts are all a subway ride away.”

Based on an original story by Robins, and written by Vilanch, Sign of the Times features Clark’s biggest hits including No. 1 single “Downtown,” “I Know a Place” and, of course, the song from which the production draws its name. Also included are smashes from contemporaries Leslie Gore (“You Don’t Own Me”), Nancy Sinatra (“These Boots Are Made for Walking”), Dusty Springfield (“I Only Want to Be With You”) and more.

After debuting last summer with a successful five-week run at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT, Vilanch says it could be only a matter of time before New York calls. To gain perspective on the process, he turned to modern musical theatre genius and Tony-winning Broadway superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda (who Vilanch calls “Mr. Hamilton”).

“He said Hamilton took seven years; everything takes seven years,” shared Vilanch, noting Sign of the Times is now in its third year.

“Legitimate theatre, on the Broadway end, is like movies these days,” Vilanch concluded, “Things happen years down the pipeline. Hopefully the next year or so, it’ll end up on Broadway. We’re working our way there!”

LISTEN: Bruce Vilanch talks Sign of the Times, Personal Stories About Diana Ross, Bette Midler & More

Bruce Vilanch, Paul Gordon, Robert M. Sherman Among Contributors to LA Now and Then

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Paul Gordon, Bruce Vilanch, Robert M. Sherman Among Contributors to LA Now and Then
MAY 09, 2016

4-27-2013 4-14-27 AM

The Los Angeles City College Theatre Academy and Kritzerland Entertainment will present LA Now and Then May 13-22 at the Caminito Theatre on the campus of Los Angeles City College (LACC).

Conceived and directed by Grammy nominee Bruce Kimmel, LA Now and Then is described as a “new musical revue about the city that was and the city that is.”

April Audia and Robert Yacko will lead a company composed of LACC Academy students. The artists will be backed by a six-piece band under the leadership of musical director Richard Allen. Cheryl Baxter-Ratliff choreographs; orchestrations are by Lanny Meyers.

The revue features collaborations with music, lyrics, sketches and monologues between Kimmel and Michele Brourman, Grant Geissman, Paul Gordon, Karen Gottlieb, Shelly Markham, Adryan Russ, Wayne Moore, two-time Oscar winner Richard M. Sherman (Mary Poppins), Doug Haverty, Bruce Vilanch and David Wechter.

Scenic design is by Tesshi Nakagawa with lighting design by Jim Moody, sound design by Alex Mackyol, projection design by sound supervisor Vern Yonemura and costume design by Natalie Shahinyan. Graphics are by Art & Soul Design.

For tickets call (323) 953-4000, ext. 2990 or visit

An Evening With Emmy Award Winning Comedy Genius Bruce Vilanch March 26, 7:30 PM, The Rrazz Room, New Hope, PA

Saturday, March 26th, 2016

An Evening With Emmy Award Winning Comedy Genius Bruce Vilanch March 26, 2016, 7:30 PM, The Rrazz Room, New Hope, PA


From Mr. Vilanch: “Currently celebrating his seventeenth year as Lindsay Lohan’s sobriety coach, Bruce Vilanch is descending to The RRazz Room At The Raven to dispatch more updates on his bizarre career behind, before and squatting over the footlights. A Hairspray star, a Hollywood Square and the latest success story on Christian Mingle, (who just hooked him up with a guy who used to be Pope), Bruce has more than a few songs to sing and stories to tell.”


Buy Tickets

Bruce Vilanch Donates T-Shirts To ‘Reel to Real: Portrayals and Perceptions of Gays in Hollywood’

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

Broadway World
Doris Roberts, Bruce Vilanch, Barry Livingston, and Many More Stars Support Opening of ‘Reel to Real’ Exhibit
June 13, 2015

4-27-2013 4-17-52 AM

The Hollywood Museum is proud to offer an exclusive new exhibition – Reel to Real: Portrayals and Perceptions of Gays in Hollywood – an entertaining and informative retrospective of LGBT images in film and television throughout the decades. Check out photos from the event below!

The showcase runs through July 20, coinciding with LGBT Heritage Month and Outfest LA (July 10- 20). Featured in the collection are photos, costumes, props and iconic imagery from the past and present. The exhibit provides a unique perspective on how the homosexual community has been portrayed in Hollywood from early stereotypes to modern representations. The Reel to Real exhibition is sponsored by Wells FARGO Bank and The Hollywood Reporter (Media Sponsor).

Among eclectic list of patrons who attended the the VIP reception preview of the “Reel to Real” LGBT History Month exhibit at The Hollywood Museum (Located in the Historic Max Facter Building), that opened to the public on June 12th, were Doris Roberts, Barry Livingston, Ann Walker, Morgan Brittany, Lee Purcell, Jack Betts, Kate Linder, Steve Wishnoff, Barbara Van Orden, Erin Murphy, Jerome Ro Brooks, Shelly Goldstein, Margaret O’Brien, Channing Chase, Carolyn Hennesy, Geri Jewell, Nick Verreos, Scott T. Scofield, Cynthia J. Popp, Judy Tenuta, as well as City Controller Ron Galperin, Deputy Chief Beatrice Girmala, Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and the Reverend Grace.

The Petite Flower, Love Goddess, and Princess of Pantyshields, Judy Tenuta, remarked “I love, love doing shows for my Gays. They are FLAWLESS. The most enthusiastic, and adoring fans ever to appreciate that I even have my own religion: Judyism, and they are the first to worship at my altar! IT COULD HAPPEN!”

Among those who spoke to the gathering were Emmy winner, Doris Roberts, who commented, “I was once asked if I was gay, and I said ‘No … but, I am a Russian Jew.’” CELEBRATED Producer/Director, Cynthia J. Popp, spoke of the importance and honor it is to be part of something as meaningful as the transgender storyline, currently playing out on “The Bold and the Beautiful,” while comedienne, Geri Jewell stated “Over a decade ago I decided to come out … as someone with Cerebral Palsy.” After a pause during laughter, she added “Seriously, just as I was born with Cerebral Palsy, I was also born a Lesbian. This has made me a more understanding, caring, and compassionate human being.”

Among the impressive and eclectic array of paraphernalia and memorabilia on display are items from “Modern Family,” “Orange Is The New Black,” “Life Interrupted,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Hot In Cleveland,” “Days Of Our Lives,” the controversial “K-11,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and Have Nots.” Also included are items representing the considerable contributions made to entertainment by out and proud members of the industry including the sheet music for “I am What I am” by Jerry Herman and costumes from his hit productions, such as “LA Cage Aux Folles” and “Hello Dolly!,” costumes worn by noted actors such as Ramon Navarro (“Ben Hur”), Rock Hudson (“Captain Lightfoot”), Agnes Moorehead (“Bewitched”), and Nathan Lane (“Bird Cage”), Lily Tomlin’s extra large rocking chair from LaughIn and the walk of fame plaque commemorating the star she shares with her partner, Jane Wagner, and famous T-Shirts worn by comedy stars Bruce Vilanch and Geri Jewell. Of particular interest to patrons were dresses by designers, Nolan Miller, Bob Mackie and the late creator of the Best and Worst Dressed List, Mr. Blackwell and his life partner of 59 years, R. L. Spencer.

“The museum welcomes the opportunity to create and showcase this important exhibition, sharing with the public the artistic expression of the LGBT culture and its transformative impact on the world through the entertainment industry,” says Donelle Dadigan, Founder and President of The Hollywood Museum

In addition to some of his personal effects, The Roddy McDowall Powder Room contains photos and quotes supporting the LGBT community by Antonio Banderas, Kristin Chenoweth, Bette Davis, Rupert Everett, Tina Fey, Portia de Rossi, Ian McKellen, Marilyn Monroe, Daniel Radcliffe, Barbara Stanwyk, Carol Channing, Liza Minnelli, and Betty White, among others. A touching display features a cocktail dress belonging to Elizabeth Taylor, with quotes regarding friends and AIDS.

This and so much more are waiting to be experienced by patrons who visit the museum during the presentations limited run.

The Hollywood Museum in the historic Max Factor Building, located in the heart of Hollywood, just steps from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, houses the largest collection of entertainment memorabilia in the world. It attracts fans from around the world and has been named the #1 top tourist attraction in Hollywood by LA Weekly, and one of the “Top 10” Museums in LA by the LA Tourism and Convention Board.

Bruce Vilanch Is Hysterical In THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Broadway World
BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Revels its Captivated Crowd with THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber
March 9, 2015
by Gil Kaan


Kritzerland Presents The Birthday Boys: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber/produced & hosted by Bruce Kimmel/musical direction by Lloyd Cooper/Kritzerland at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal

On March 8, the 55th version of Kritzerland At Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal followed its successful formula of monthly themed cabarets with The Birthday Boys: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webber. Bruce Kimmel, a most amiable host, intros each song with a tiny encyclopedia of fun trivia, some of which are yet new to the Sondheim and Webber aficionados. Kimmel even sang some warring salvos that he envisioned Sondheim and Webber might have sent each other, re-BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Revels its Captivated Crowd with THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd Webberwriting the lyrics to “Agony” and “Music of the Night.” Too funny!

The sixteen songs selected from the Sondheim and Webber canons receive delicious execution from the collective melodic vocal talents of Stan Chandler, Kevin Earley, Kimberly Hessler, Valerie Perri, Sue Raney, Bruce Vilanch (yes, the comedian does sing, and well!), and Adrienne Visnic.

The rich-voiced Visnic amusingly opens the evening with “Invocation and Instructions to the Audience” from Sondheim’s Frogs. Later Visnic just kills it with her “Getting Married Today” from Sondheim’s Company. Her machine gun vocals use the same sped-up tempo Madeline Kahn used in 1970’s Company. Bulls-eye, Ms. Visnic

Hessler’s gorgeous operatic tones in “Half a Moment” from Webber’s By Jeeves totally reminiscent of the ideal Christine in The Phantom of the Opera.

BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Revels its Captivated Crowd with THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd WebberChandler and Earley duet with well-matched booming voices and competing egos on Sondheim’s genius comic tune “Agony” from Into the Woods. Chandler’s lilting high tenor notes sustain beautifully in his ending of “Love Changes Everything” from Webber’s Aspects of Love. Earley wonderfully displays his comic timing in “Make the Most of Your Music” from Sondheim’s Follies and his wi-i-ide vocal range in “Music of the Night” from Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

Perri readily combines her acting prowess with her strong vocals in “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar and “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from his Sunset Boulevard.

The always hysterical Vilanch loses his mind in “Losing My Mind” from Sondheim’s Follies, but manages to find it to tell a very funny, very timely joke involving Harrison Ford with Brian Williams, Bill O’Reilly and Hillary Clinton. Comedic gold, Vilanch is!

BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Revels its Captivated Crowd with THE BIRTHDAY BOYS: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim & Andrew Lloyd WebberRaney showed all she still has what it takes to sell a song in her slowed down version of “Send in the Clowns” from Sondheims’ A Little Night Music. Shelly Markham superbly accompanied Ms. Raney.

The masterful musical director Lloyd Cooper, backing up all the other performers, worked his magic; converting his single piano sound into what seemed a full section of harmonizing instruments. Very nice!

The 56th edition of Kritzerland Presents will be on Sunday April 5.

Review: Bruce Vilanch, Young Frankenstein and Wicked Cast Perform for AIDS Fundraiser

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Young Frankenstein and Wicked Cast Perform for AIDS Fundraiser

By Sister Dana Van Iquity
Published: July 15, 2010

Donna Sachet, MC Bruce Vilanch and sparkling performer Sharon McNight. PHOTO BY PAT JOHNSON

The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation (REAF) presented a very special “One Night Only Cabaret” with members from the touring casts and crews of currently running smash hits, Young Frankenstein and Wicked, with special guest emcee, Bruce Vilanch (of Broadway’s Hairspray) on July 12 at Club Fugazi (home of Beach Blanket Babylon). REAF producers and directors Joe Seiler and Ken Henderson gathered everyone to help raise funds for the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. They delivered an evening of upbeat, high-energy music, dance, and comedy. REAF has worked with over 32 touring casts to date to produce “One Night Only Cabaret” events, benefiting important charity organizations and, over the years, distributing well over $2.5 million to AIDS service agencies.

The show began with Preston Truman Boyd (who plays The Monster in Young Frankenstein) singing a heartbreaking “New Town” about trying to get a break in “a new, blue town that won’t get me down.” Then out came Vilanch with his hysterical standup routine. His tee shirts always amuse, and this time it was a graphic of Chairman Mao in a rare smiling pose with the bold letters: “LMAO” beneath. It took me a few moments to get the pun of Internet-speak = Laughing My Ass Off.” He said, “Welcome to Club Fucking Crazy,” which we have to guess was his translation of “Club Fugazi.”

Vilanch had a whole set putting down BP and the oil spill. And his ongoing man-crush on Mayor Gavin Newsom. “Is he still married, or is he available?” he jokingly questioned. He then lovingly accused us of stalking chorus boys at these events.

He introduced Lawrence Alexander, a dancer in Young Frankenstein, who gave an erotic choreographic interpretation of “I’m in Here” [“Can you hear my call?”]. Jeff Knaggs, makeup artist for YF, sang a gorgeous baritone power ballad of “Joey Joey Joey” [“you’ve been too long in one place, and it’s time to go”]. Libby Servais and Felicia Ricci are standbys in Wicked (playing Elphaba and Galinda, respectively) who sang a riveting duet of “I Will Never Leave You” [“I will never go away; I am here to stay”]. Trey Cox, musical director of the evening and pianist/ soloist sang a moving, screaming “King of the World” [“Get me out of here and set me free from this prison!”]. It must be mentioned that adding to Cox as the show pianist was Daniel Fabricant on bass and Josh Riskin playing percussion.

Laura Dysarcyk, who brilliantly plays Wicked’s Elphaba’s sister Nessa Rose who is stuck in a wheelchair, took on a whole new persona this night, based on a real life bag lady at the BART station, in a number she entitled “Tyrone,” who was her sort of pimp (if you could say she actually ever made any real money hooking) in a dramatic comedic interpretation: “You don’t give me no cash, but you’re always asking for ass.” “I smell Gucci up in here,” she remarked at the relatively well-off audience. “I’m gonna do a show tonight. Anyone have four dollars for four quarters?” and then she tried to steal the microphone and sell it. Hysterical!

Holly Hyman beautifully interpreted “Find Your Love” with a sensual modern dance, joined at the end by that crazy bag lady. Jennifer Smith (from YF) sang a seriously comedic operatic “Pansy in My Garden,” which she could relate to as either an actual seasonal flower or perhaps an emblematic gay man she met in her brief stay in Gay Mecca, San Francisco. The first act closed with Boyd returning to join Stephen Carrasco (both men starring in YF) in a stunning high soprano falsetto duet of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s requiem of Pie Jesu, sung from the giant pockets of a pair of humongous Levis jeans. Whaaaat??! But brava to both of them! Superior soprano singing!

The second act began with a bizarre psychic reading by a broken Spanish/ English speaking fortune telling cosmetologist, Juanita Ramirez (which wasn’t her real name, but apparently she was from In the Heights, Hairspray, and currently in YF as Frau Blucher, and a good friend of Vilanch). It was quite off-the-wall. Jeff Knaggs and Trey Cox returned to sing a simply sterling “Sailing.” Carrasco returned to solo in “At the Fountain,” referring to his striving to get a lucky break into show biz as did the legendary actress Lana Turner get discovered at a soda fountain. Zach Hensler (a dancer from Wicked) gave a mighty muscular dance performance to “Goodbye” and made us all say: Hello! to such a talented artiste. Sarah Pennebaker (school buddy of Hensler and fellow Wicked star) sang a bittersweet “So Far” about a first date that had no history “so far,” but was bound to build into something memorable, hopefully. Brad Oscar (a somewhat portly character actor gent from YF as a kooky Transylvanian, who has starred in The Producers, among other hits) belted out the classic “Old Devil Moon” [“in your eyes”]. Libby Servais returned to solo this time in a number from a new musical, Catch Me If You Can, “Fly Fly Away”: “I wanna see him fly, fly; we didn’t get to say goodbye, goodbye; maybe it’s because you’ll fly back home to me one day.”

Sharon McNight, a generous, longtime performer for REAF and so many other countless benefits, took us back to the 1980s and club Fannies’ in the Castro to reprise her Carnegie Hall gem 15 years later, “Wizard of Oz Medley,” in which she absolutely knocks herself out for about 20 minutes portraying ALL the characters from that classic movie – including Dorothy of Kansas, her dog Toto, the tweeting birds, the tornado, Glinda the Good Witch, all the munchkins, the bad witch, and everyone “off to see the Wizard.” Later when I asked her where she got her tireless energy, she joked, “Drugs!”

The entire company took the stage to sing “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods with lyrics that can be sadly applied to the AIDS epidemic: “How do you say it will all be all right, when you know that it might not be true? What do you do?”

Save the dates for two upcoming “One Night Only Cabaret” performances: Aug. 23 at Theatre 39 on Pier 39 with the cast of Beauty and the Beast, and Sept. 20 at Marines Memorial Theatre with the cast of Dreamgirls. For tix and info, check out or call (415) 273-1620.

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