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Archive for October, 2009

Even though Rue McClanahan is recovering from her emergency by-pass surgery this event has been canceled and will be rescheduled at a future date…..

 

Sordid Comedy Affair Returns

An evening of extreme laughter and good times is coming back to Comix in NYC from November 30-December 2. That’s right, “A Sordid Comedy Affair” is making a triumphant return featuring Rue McClanahan, Jason Dottley, Leslie Jordan, and the creator himself, Del Shores (all of whom have been featured on “Adaubmelle’s Quest”). You’ve seen them on “Sordid Lives: The Series” and now see them LIVE ON STAGE as they tell the behind-the-scenes tales that you haven’t heard, not only of “Sordid Lives,” but of their other career highlights! Don’t wait, get your tickets now!

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Next To NormalI have seen many shows in my life and many more because of this blog, but I can’t recall seeing a show that engulfed me as much as “Next To Normal.” This story captures you from the start and continues to pull you in and keeps you way beyond the ending of the show. “Next To Normal” tells the story of a family coping  with mental illness and while you might not think this makes for a musical, you better think twice about that. The music and lyrics successfully help drive this compelling story. Bringing this family to life is the supreme talents of Alice Ripley as the mother “Diana” who is suffering from mental illness, J. Robert Spencer (fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest participant) as the father “Dan” who is trying to help “Diana,” Kyle Dean Massey (who was performing tonight in place of Aaron Tveit) as “Gabe,” “Diana” & “Dan’s” son, Jennifer Daminao as “Natalie,” “Diana” & “Dan’s” daughter, Louis Hobson as “Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine,” the doctors who medically treat “Diana,”, and Adam Chandler-Berat as “Henry,” “Natalie’s” boyfriend. If you have not seen this show, don’t wait a moment longer, it’s worth the journey!

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Tonight my family and I went to see “Next To Normal” (click for my review) and had the very fortunate experience of going backstage after the show. We were invited by fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant J. Robert Spencer. He was so kind to take time out to talk with us and get to know us a little bit. We had such a great time!

THANK YOU Bobby for a wonderful and special experience! We’ll see you soon!

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J. Robert SpencerTony Award Nominated actor J. Robert Spencer has had quite a career. He has been seen lighting up the stage in “Side Show,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” “Heartland,” “Tommy,” “Cats,” and “Lady Duck.” He also originated the role of “Nick Massi” in the Tony Award Winning Musical “Jersey Boys.” In addition to theatre, J. Robert Spencer is also an Independent Film Director, Producer, and Writer, heading up his own Independent Film Company “7 Spencer Productions.” His first independent feature film was “Farm Girl in New York” which was the official selection of the Sacramento International Film Festival (receiving nominations for Best Comedy and Best Actress), Big Apple, Atlanta, Buffalo Niagra, and the Seattle True Independent Film Festivals. “7 Spencer Productions” is currently in post-production of their second Independent Feature titled “Heterosexuals” featuring J. Robert Spencer, Ashley Williams, Tovah Feldshuh, and Natasha Lyonne. J. Robert Spencer has been the lead voice in two Japanese Animated Features, “Nightmare Campus” and the award winning “Grave of the Fireflies.” He also received a Best Supporting Actor Nomination at the SMMASH Film Festival for his role as Psychopathic Killer “Bob” in the Independent Feature Film “Night of the Dog.” In addition to his nomination, the film won “Best Feature Audience Awards” at Palm Beach, Santa Barbara, SMMASH, and PBIFF Film Festivals. Currently, J. Robert Spencer can be seen in the Tony Award Winning Musical “Next To Normal” as “Dan”, a role for which he received a 2009 Tony Award Nomination as well as the one night only  “Rockers on Broadway” concert this Monday, November 2 at B.B. Kings and in the CD/DVD release of “Handel’s Messiah Rocks.” For more on J. Robert Spencer including photos, videos, and merchandise, visit: http://www.jrobertspencer.com/

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? The Audience inspired me…. I was in fourth grade and I auditioned for the role of Alligator from Really Rosie. I did something funny, spur of the moment kinda thing, and all the kids and teachers starting laughing. And I went… (pause) “Hmmmm…”

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? All the greats. All of them. I wanna work with them all…in front and behind the camera/scenes. And….I so wish I could have worked with the late John Cassavetes.

3. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? Strange or unusual…..well, before 40, I used to be able to put both legs behind my head.

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I’M MARRIED! We don’t dream of anyone else except our loved ones!! ANGELINA JOLIE.

5. What’s the best advice you’ve given someone, but not taken for yourself? To stop doing questionnaire’s.

6. Favorite way to stay in shape? In my dressing room I like to work out with my yoga and medicine ball.

7. Boxers or Briefs? Usually Boxers, but recently purchased some briefs by accident….and I’m enjoying them.

8. Favorite musician/singer? Group – RUSH

9. Favorite TV Theme Song? Three’s Company.

10. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? I love Chocalate Glazed, Coconut, and Eclair.

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If you’re looking for something a little different be sure to catch “Granada,” a new play by Avi Glickstein. According to press notes, Granada begins in 1992 as the King of Spain prepares to symbolically welcome Jews back to Spain after 500 years of banishment. A young Egyptian Jewish woman has been invited to stand in for all of those exiled—but following the ceremony, she reveals to Spain’s prince that she believes herself to be the resurrection of Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), philosopher, royal physician, and Jewish cultural icon. Quite suddenly, the prince’s world is not what it was before her revelation: he is pursued by a bear, seduced by a princess hatched from a grapefruit, and nearly betrayed by his trusty aide-de-camp. Is this the beginning of the Messianic age? Bringing together characters and storytelling from Sephardic Jewish folklore and history and weaving from Spain to Israel to Morocco and back again, Granada explores issues of identity, both religious and national, and the uncanny link among followers of a tradition separated by continents but united by a state of exile.

“Granada” plays through November 22 at the Access Theater Gallery, 380 Broadway at White Street. For tickets, visit: http://www.polybeandseats.org/home.html

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Mike DoyleBe sure to catch fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Mike Doyle live on stage in tomorrow’s (Tues, Oct. 27) installment of “Cedar City Falls” at 7pm and 9:30pm. For details visit: http://www.cedarcityfalls.com/Home.htm

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Alix KoreyI had the pleasure of sitting down with the always funny and insightful Alix Korey after seeing her in “Inventing Avi” at the Abingdon Theatre. It was a real joy to talk with not only a great comedic actress and powerful singer, but a genuine, passionate, and down to earth woman. On Broadway she has been seen in “All Shook Up,” Neil Simon’s “45 Seconds from Broadway,” “Triumph of Love,” “Ain’t Broadway Grand,” and “Pirates of Penzance.” She has also delighted audiences Off-Broadway in “The Wild Party,” “No Way To Treat A Lady,” and “Suburb.” She has released two award-winning solo albums and has been in numerous films and prime-time TV shows. For more on Alix Korey, visit: http://www.alixkorey.com.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? My mother. She was a frustrated opera singer and I was always taken to the opera/theatre from a young age. I don’t remember not being in theatre. I’ve always loved watching performances, especially Eddie Hodges in “The Music Man.” Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Karen Marrow also inspired me. I got to work with Karen in 1981 and I called her after “All Shook Up” ended and I said to her, “How many flops have you had?” She said, “Six.”  I said, “I just beat you with my seventh. I’m leaving NY and moving out to L.A.”

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? In my act “Glitter & Be Gay” I can hit the D and the E I can scream it on key, just not sing it, so I guess you could say an ugly E flat. The lowest note I can sing is below G or below middle C and I have to record those mid-morning, that’s the best time for my lowest notes.

3. Out of all the people you have worked with, who did you learn the most from? I learned about acting and teaching acting from my mentor Aaron Frankel. I’m an unabashed thief. When I did “Pirates of Penzance” with Kevin Kline, I learned about total commitment to something. I never got to work with her, but I love Maggie Smith, watching everything she does, I learned lessons in timing and about the tragedy of comedy. Working with Marian Seldes in “45 Seconds From Broadway” taught me about a total love of theatre. She loves theatre so much that every night when she was not on stage, she’d either be stage right or left listening to the show, whereas most actors when they are not on stage are in their dressing room waiting to go back on, but she loves theatre so much. She’s a very genuine and warm person. I’ve learned to respect actors a lot and how to function in this business. Actors are some of the most giving people out there.

4. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Denis O’Hare. He is brilliant. I got to meet him once and I was completely tongue tied. He is one of those actors that if he read a menu, I would go watch.

5. What is the best advice you’ve given someone, but not taken for yourself? Trust your instincts of what you need and want because everyone has advice for you and most of it applies to themselves and not you. That is one of the things I love about teaching – nurturing confidence back into young people who have been told “no” so many times and teaching them that there is no one answer or path to take. If you don’t trust yourself you will make the wrong choices.

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I’m a great Bridge player and crossword puzzler. My chiropractor taught me how to crack backs.

7. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Oscar Wilde. I could read his stuff and quotes forever. He’s always one of my three people I choose if I could have anyone over for dinner.

8. Favorite play/musical? Favorite that I’ve done is “Funny Girl” because it’s a fantastic book, wonderful journey, and good songs. Favorite that I’ve seen (and would love to do) is “110 in the Shade.”

9. Favorite way to spend your day off? Playing bridge, watching taped TV shows, being with my husband and dog.

10. Who do you consider to be your hero? My dad. He just passed away on August 26, 2009. He was an extraordinary man, with the best laugh. There was a joke I just heard that he would have loved. He would have loved seeing “Inventing Avi.”

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Inventing AviAlix Korey & Juri Henley-CohnToday I saw “Inventing Avi” at the Abingdon Theatre on 36th Street in New York City starring the hilarious Alix Korey. The show asks the question “What would you do to make it?” From schemes to blackmail to mistaken identity, the audience is taken on this journey wondering when and if the truth will be revealed. This funny, topical and thought provoking show is lead by an extraordinary cast comprising of the already mentioned hilarious Alix Korey who uses her comedic timing perfectly as “Judy Stiff,” a Broadway producer hoping for her next big hit. Emily Zacharis plays “Mimi/Mother” with the passion and conviction needed to portray an actress who’s hoping for a comeback. Stanley Bahorek brings innocence and hope to his character “David Smith”, a young playwright who wants to be the next big thing on Broadway. Havilah Brewster shines as “Amy/Young Mimi,” portraying an actress dying for her chance at stardom using whatever tactic she needs to get there. Lori Gardner brings her comedic charm to the roles of “Astrud (the maid of “Mimi” & “Young Judy” (the sister who felt like she was living in “Mimi’s shadow, but wanted to break free). Juri Henley-Cohn bring his suaveness, sex appeal, and character talents to the role “Avi Aviv,” an actor/player who does what he needs to get ahead no matter who it’s with. If you’re looking for a smart and hilarious show, go see “Inventing Avi” at the Abingdon Theatre, but you better hurry because the show is only there until November 1.Stanley Bahorek, Juri Henley-Cohn, Havilah Brewster

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Dolphin-Song

Olivia Newton-John is a woman who represents many things to many people. For some she is Olivia Newton-John the Grammy, Country Music, American Music, Emmy, and People’s Choice Award winning artist. For others, she’s “Sandy” from the mega hit movie musical “Grease,” and for countless millions she is an inspiration of survival and strength, winning her own fight against breast cancer. For me, she’s one of my top favorite artists who’s music, movies, and life’s battles have shown me that “No Matter What You Do,” every life experience, both happy and hard, makes us “Stronger Than Before.” Now here’s her story…

ONJPR3Olivia Newton-John was born in Cambridge, England in 1948, moving to Melbourne, Australia when she was five. By 1963, Olivia was appearing on local Australian TV and weekly music programs. She cut her first single in 1966, a cover of Jackie DeShannon’s “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine” and in 1971 she recorded a cover of “Bob Dylan’s “If Not For You,” co-produced by John Farrar, with whom she continues to collaborate with today. In 1973, Olivia released her first U.S. album, “Let Me Be There,” which earned her her first top ten single of the same name. That year, the Academy of Country Music honored her as “Most Promising Female Vocalist” and a Grammy Award as “Best Country Vocalist.” In addition to the multiple awards listed above, Olivia has had five #1 hits (including the smash hit “Physical,” which topped the charts for ten consecutive weeks), 15 top 10 singles, and has been inducted into the Australian Music Hall of Fame. Other music career highlights include: the 1994 release of  “Gaia: One Woman’s Journey”, her most personal (and my favorite) album, which reflects upon her experiences with cancer, the 1999 release of her album “Back With A Heart” earned her a Daytime Emmy Award for her song “Love Is A Gift” which was featured on “As The World Turns,” performing “Dare to Dream” at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the release of “Magic-The Very Best of Olivia Newton-John”, which celebrated 30 years of recordings as well her first holiday album in 2002, “The Christmas Collection.” She has also released a duets album titled “2,” which features many of her Australian friends as well as “Indigo: Women of Song”, a tribute album to many of Olivia’s favorite female performers.

In addition to music, Olivia has delighted fans in such movies as the mega-hit movie musical “Grease,” the cult-favorite “Xanadu” (in which she danced her away across the screen with Gene Kelly), “Two of A Kind,” “It’s My Party,”, and “Sordid Lives.” On television she has light up the screen as host of the internationally syndicated “Wild Life” television show, in the Showtime movie “The Wilde Girls” (co-starring with her real-life daughter Chole), as a guest judge on “American Idol,” a series regular on Del Shore’s “Sordid Lives: The Series” (co-starring Rue McClanahan, Leslie Jordan, and Jason Dottley), as well as the television movies “A Mom For Christmas” and “My Christmas Romance.”

In addition to her artistry, Olivia dedicates much of her time to many humanitarian & environmental causes such as “The Colette Chuda Environment Fund/CHEC (Children’s Health Environ-mental Coalition) which was founded in 1991 after the tragic death of Chole’s best friend from a rare childhood cancer. She is creating the “Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre” (ONJCWC) in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia which hopes to break ground in 2010 as they are still in the fundraising stages (but almost there). The Wellness Centre is the major passion of the centre for Olivia. It will provide a comprehensive range of services and facilities for cancer treatment, education, training and research. Olivia has also released “Liv Aid,” a breast self-examination device which helps women perform self-breast exams with more ease and confidence. Everyone needs to get away and rejuvenate, so Olivia opened the GAIA Retreat & Spa, in Bryon Bay, Australia, a retreat site that bases your stay upon your individual needs. Her outreach and dedication to these causes, always brings Olivia back to music. In 2005 she released the CD “Stronger Than Before,” featuring songs of inspiration, courage, and hope that relate to the many emotions cancer patients and their loved ones face, with a portion of the proceeds going to cancer research. In 2006, Olivia released “Grace and Gratitude”, a relaxation CD to help promote spiritual balance and physical and emotional healing. It’s release coincided with the launch of Olivia’s signature line of body, heart, and spirit wellness products for women, exclusively available at Walgreens stores.

Grace and GratitudeAlways spreading love and positive energy, whether through her artistry or personal causes, Olivia Newton-John is here to stay and I’m honored that someone I’ve admired for so many years and has helped me get through some rough times, has taken the time to participate in “Adaumbelle’s Quest.” Thank you Olivia for your love and light and showing me how to “Pass It On.” For much more on Olivia Newton-John be sure to visit: http://olivianewton-john.com/

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? I have always loved to sing and have done so since I was girl, but I guess I have to credit my sister and my mother for really encouraging me to work hard and pursue a career as a young girl.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? That is a huge question! So much talent in the world and I have worked with so many-but one would be Tony Bennett.

3. Who do you consider to be your hero? I have to say my mum for sure. She was an amazing woman who had a gift of seeing the beauty in everything and she passed on this gift – and by her example I learned to deal with everything in life.

4. Is there ever a time you thought about quitting? If so, what did you think about doing instead? The only time I thought of retiring was after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992. I thought I was going to take time off to just be a mum and enjoy my life in a quiet way, but during and after my treatment I kept writing songs – I couldn’t help it. Music will always be a major therapy for me!

5. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My wonderful husband, “Amazon John” Easterling. He is definitely – and excuse the pun – the man of my dreams!

6. Favorite pastime? Spending time with my daughter, my husband, and our dogs.

7. Favorite way to stay in shape? I love to play tennis, go for long walks on the beach, do yoga, and I now love to kayak. My husband gave me one for my birthday and I just love it! I also take his company’s herbs and drink his organic rainforest health juice ZAMU every day. It makes you feel amazing and it is extremely good for your body, mind, and spirit!

8. Favorite store to shop in? CVS!!

9. Favorite skin care product? Definitely the Amazon Herb Company’s Lluvia skin care line (AmazonHerb.net). I love their Camu C Serum – it smells delicious. It is great for your skin – packed with Vitamin C!

10. Favorite website? www.Liv.com – this is a site that I am very proud of as it helps bring valuable information to woman about breast cancer and the Liv Aid, a breast self-exam device I designed that helps woman perform monthly self-exams more easily. Early detection is key to beating breast cancer!

11. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman. (My husband is Superman!)

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Avenue QI went to see the Tony Award Winning show “Avenue Q” for the first time since it moved back Off-Broadway. Well, I’m pleased to say it still is as enjoyable as ever and it’s nice to see the show continue on. Playing to an almost packed house, the new cast is great bringing their own spin to the characters while still retaining the core essence of the original cast. What made tonight’s show more special was what I feel makes live theatre so great…Sala Iw Amatsu who normally plays “Christmas Eve” started the show off and by the time her next scene came (about 3 songs into the show), her understudy, Ruthie Ann Miles was playing the part of “Christmas Eve.” Ruthie didn’t miss a beat, picking up right where she was supposed to…kudos to her and the whole cast for adapting so quickly to the change.  Jed Resnick, who is the understudy for “Rod/Princeton” was also in the show tonight. He was great…very cute with a delightful voice and strong puppetry skills. Anika Larsen is an actress with a big beautiful voice who plays the role of “Kate Monster/Lucy” with the ability to control her voice perfectly…giving us the innocence of  “Kate Monster” and the sultriness of “Lucy” right on cue and sometimes that is with-in seconds.  Nicholas Kohn plays “Brian” with just the right amount of cockiness that everyone can feel they know someone like him. Danielle K. Thomas gives a fine performance as “Gary Coleman” capitalizing on her comedic talents and big smile.  Maggie Lakis shows off her explosive personality and charisma as she plays “Bad Idea Bear #1/Mrs. T . Cullen R. Titmas demonstrates his multi-talents playing “Nicky/Trekkie Monster/Bad Idea Bear.”  If you have never seen “Avenue Q” now is the time and if you have seen it time and time again, treat yourself to an enjoyable evening at The New World Stages. (340 West 50th Street, between 8th & 9th Ave in NYC).

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