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Posts Tagged ‘Bette Midler’

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 Hosts “One Night Only Benefit Cabaret” September 12, San Francisco

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Outtake Online
Bruce Vilanch Hosts “One Night Only Benefit Cabaret” September 12, San Francisco
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

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In this exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Bruce Vilanch about hosting One Night Only Benefit Cabaret for the Richmond/Ermet AID Foundation on Monday Sept 12th at Marines’ Memorial Theater in San Francisco. Philanthropy and stellar entertainment take center stage as REAF presents a special one-night-only benefit cabaret with the Broadway Touring Cast of “Beautiful”(The Carole King Musical) in “Motown & More, An Evening of Music, Dance & Comedy” hosted by Bruce with Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy. Songs from “Beautiful” will not be performed. As we have been reporting, for over twenty years the Richmond / Ermet Aid Foundation has raised millions of dollars by producing Broadway quality entertainment events and galas to advance HIV treatments and support AIDS services until there is a cure. Recently REAF has expanded its fundraising focus to the Bay Area’s growing demand for two new areas by providing food for the needy and programs that support homeless, disadvantaged and disenfranchised youth. We talked to Bruce about this fabulous organization and his spin on our LGBT issues.

With the upcoming presidential election just months away, when asked what he would like to see happen for LGBT equality in the next few years Vilanch stated, “Well a lot depends on what happens in this election clearly. I mean if the Nazis actually win and I call them Nazis because they would like us to be eliminated. Read the Republican Party Platform, the reptilian party, as I call it, platform, you’ll see that they would like us to just shrivel up and die. They would like to enable us in that effort and I think if they win then we’re going to see a period of regression and of people feeling their oats so they can attempt to beat us into the ground. If the democrats win and Hillary is in charge I think we’re going to see a continued path towards complete civil rights. That means no rollback on marriage equality, which is what the republicans would like. We’ll see it extended and obviously the most important thing about this election is the next president will choose a bunch of Supreme Court Justices who will issue to the ultimate ruling on all things that affect our lives. So I think at the moment we have the coin in our hands and as a nation we’re going to toss it in November and we’ll see what happens. So I’m hoping it comes down on the girl side.”

Bruce Vilanch is one of the most sought-after jokesmiths in the entertainment industry. He began contributing to Academy Awards telecasts in 1989 collaborating with the likes of Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and David Letterman and graduated to head writer in 2000. Since then Vilanch has become a recognizable face in his own right thanks to the feature-length documentary “Get Bruce” and his one-time stint as a regular on “Hollywood Squares” for which he also served as head writer. One Night Only Benefit Cabaret is produced by the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation, founded by the late Barbara Richmond and Peggy Ermet in memory of their sons John Richmond and Doug Ermet who both lost their lives to AIDS. To date REAF has raised well over $3 million dollars for AIDS services and beginning in 2015 expanded to support hunger programs and programs for homeless and underserved youth.

For Info & Tix: reaf-sf.org

Is It Okay To Make Fun Of Caitlyn Jenner?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Instinct Magazine
Is It Okay To Make Fun Of Caitlyn Jenner?
Instinct Staff | September 6, 2016

Boy Culture interviewed legendary comedy writer Bruce Vilanch, who had his own opinions on the joke and the response to it:

BC: Bette Midler recently took it on the chin when she was perceived as mocking Caitlyn Jenner for being trans.

BV: Personally, I thought that was insane. She wasn’t making a joke about transgenders, she was making a joke about the monetizing of transgenderism, which is being done by Caitlyn Jenner.

BC: I guess the waters are muddied because people want to mock Caitlyn, and she’s so famous for being trans.

BV: Exactly. Anybody who would make that leap is out of their mind. It’s not a joke about transgenders, it’s a joke about this person who will do anything to remain in the public eye—and who is not our friend, by the way. She’s more to be pitied than censured. There’s no accounting for the taste of some. You find generally in communities like in the gay community that activists have no sense of humor. They areso sensitive about everything. And to jump on Bette Midler is kind of like, “Excuse me? Where’ve you been for the last 50 years?” Well, you know, probably in Trinidad, Colorado, deciding what you wanted to look like, I don’t know.

That alone would get me in jail. That remark. You know, you’re not allowed to say anything!


Bruce Vilanch

Motown & More, An Evening of Music, Dance & Comedy with Special Guests Bruce Vilanch and Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy September 12, 2016

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

San Francisco Weekly
Bruce Vilanch on Whether It’s OK to Make AIDS Jokes (Yet)
Quentin QuickTue Sep 6th, 2016 5:47pm

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No one speaks of [HIV/AIDS] anymore and that truly saddens me, to paraphrase comedian Sandra Bernhard. But in 1981, it replaced hepatitis and mono as the topic on everyone’s lips.

That’s how Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, and Tonys comedy writer and actor Bruce Vilanch (Hollywood Squares, Hairspray) remembers it.

“This thing came, but the devastation was so total,” Vilanch told SF Weekly. One week someone had a cough and the next week they were dead. No one knew what was happening, but there seemed to be so many gay people that it was happening to. And it resembled pneumonia, so we called it the gay pneumonia. It wasn’t even identified as AIDS till years later, so it was this horrible, baffling thing.“

While HIV cocktails have turned the deadly virus into a more manageable one, those who live with it still struggle to pay for cost-prohibitive medications and in some places to acquire safe housing. That’s why events like The Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation’s one-night-only cabaret benefit Motown & More, An Evening of Music, Dance & Comedy with Special Guests Bruce Vilanch and Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy remain vital.

Vilanch spoke to SF Weekly about the continued importance of AIDS benefits, holding out for a cure and whether it’s too early for AIDS jokes.

What can you tell us about Motown & More?

I’ll be cohosting and doing comedy mostly. I don’t have any plans to do any musical stuff, but you never know. Between now and then, we might cook something up. I just hate to pin myself down.

This is also a great opportunity for the kids singing Carol King eight times a week to sing anything but Carol King. Since Carol King wrote a lot of stuff for rhythm and blues acts during her Brill Building period, there’s a lot of Motown-y stuff in that show, and they’re going to get to sing that stuff that they can’t sing in her show. So that’s what makes it so much fun.

How did you first get involved with Richmond/Ermet’s One Night Only shows?

Well, I’ve been doing stuff for Richmond/Ermet for a long time. They do two big shows a year: Help is on the Way in the summer and Help is on the Way for the Holidays around Christmas. I’ve done a bunch of those at the Palace of Fine Farts. When I was in Hairspray, we toured the country for a year and we made it our business to take our Monday nights, which were dark and turn them into AIDS benefits for local charities, and Richmond/Ermet does the same thing.

When one of these musicals comes into town, they get the cast on a Monday night to sing everything else. The cast loves it because they get to sing something else and Richmond/Ermet is such a wonderful, close-to-the-ground charity, where all the money goes directly to the people who need it. They have a very low overhead. They’re not in the charity business. They’re really doing a great public service, so you get a great feeling of contribution.

People are still struggling with HIV/AIDS, yet there isn’t a single awareness-raising red ribbon to be seen at major awards shows anymore. People don’t talk about AIDS to the extent that they used to.

That’s because of the cocktail. With the drugs that are available, people are living longer. They’re not dying at the rate they were years ago. But at the same time, those cocktails are incredibly expensive and people need the support. Of course, the thing hasn’t been cured yet and it would be nice if one of these drugs was actually like a polio vaccine and could wipe it out. So, of course, the research and the work continue and that needs financing, too.

But Richmond/Ermet is not about research. They’re about helping people who have it and live with the financial burden and providing services for them. I think when people find out what this organization is about they see how worthwhile it is and begin talking again. When you stop the dying, then people’s attention shift to something else. That’s what we’re like.

How did the gay community handle the epidemic 45 years ago?

There was panic in the community because it seemed to be happening to so many of us and, of course, panic outside of the community because anyone dealing with us suddenly viewed us as a pariah.

As the contours of it became clearer, the gay community realized that the only way we were going to do anything about it was if we banded together. What had been the beginnings of a political liberation movement that had been gathering steam since Stonewall transformed into an AIDS movement. The government wasn’t going to do anything because they were as scared as anybody else, so it was up to us to force them to do things.

Talk to us about your own personal involvement.

I got involved on the show business level, because show business is the great fountain of money when it needs to be, and you do that by putting on shows and raising a lot of money. That’s what we did with the people who were willing to identify themselves with it and that was generally people whose lives had been affected by it like Joan Rivers, Bette Midler and Nell Carter. Once Rock Hudson identified as an AIDS patient, then the floodgates opened and Elizabeth Taylor got involved and real charities began to be formed.

Are you still haunted by the ghosts of loved ones lost to AIDS?

All the time. I live now in a loft in West Hollywood and through one of my windows can look up at the Hollywood Hills. I point out houses of people who are dead. I knew them all. It’s a visceral reminder of all the people who used to be here who aren’t anymore. I think, as you get older, visions of people who you’ve lost begin to appear to you at the oddest times. But in the case of people like me, we lost so many people when we were young that we were not supposed to lose that it’s double what it would be for most people. To have a mass of people go at the same time was devastating and unprecedented.

What are the challenges, aside from overpriced medications, still faced by HIV-positive people today?

There’s still discrimination. People ask me why I continue to do benefits, and I say because no one with breast cancer was ever forced to leave an apartment because they have breast cancer. This is one of the few conditions in the world where you’re still made to feel like a leper in some places.

Will we see a cure in the near future?

Yeah, of course. I may be a cockeyed optimist, but we do have cures for things that used to be the scourge of the planet and I think we can find a cure for this. I suspect that we’re close because they have already found a way to contain and manage it, so they’re just a couple of hills away.

We often look for humor in the things that most distress us. That said, since you’re a comedy writer, I have to ask … Is it still too early for AIDS jokes?

I think people who have it can do that. But I think it’s difficult for anybody else to try and do it unless they’re going to make a comment about the fact that they’re doing it and that it’s too soon.

There are AIDS jokes that we always tell each other that we’d never do publicly. But then there are a lot of jokes that we tell each other that we’d never do publicly, so it falls into that category. I can’t think of one that I would do generally, because it ain’t fittin’.

Motown & More – An Evening of Music, Dance & Comedy, Monday, Sep. 12, at Marines’ Memorial Theater, $36-$75, 609 Sutter St, 415-273-1620 or ONO-Beautiful.eventbrite.com.

Bruce Vilanch To Perform At The 32nd Annual Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (STAGE)

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

Playbill
20 Artists Currently Set for Sondheim No. 5 Concert in Beverly Hills
BY ANDREW GANS
APR 08, 2016

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The 32nd annual Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (STAGE), which is entitled Sondheim No. 5, will be presented June 18 at 2 PM and 8 PM at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills.

Currently scheduled to perform are Susan Anton, Barrett Foa, Loretta Devine, Allison Janney, Andrea Marcovicci, Cortes Alexander, Alexandra Billings, Mary Jo Catlett, James Clark, Carole Cook, Davis Gaines, Jason Graae, Alvin Ing, Branden James, Jean Louisa Kelly, Vicki Lewis, MaryJo Mundy, Madison Claire Parks, Bruce Vilanch and Lisa Vroman.

David Galligan directs with Michael Orland as music director.

Begun in 1984, STAGE is the longest-running annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the world. To date, STAGE has raised more than $5 million for HIV/AIDS organizations in the Southland. Funds raised through S.T.A.G.E. support a variety of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) programs, including its Vance North Necessities of Life Program food pantries; freestanding and mobile dental clinics; in-home health care ; housing assistance; HIV prevention and testing efforts; and a range of other services on which thousands of Angelenos affected by HIV/AIDS depend.

For ticket information visit Stagela.com.