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Angel of the Amazon A Story/ Opera That Needs To Be Told

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Angel of the Amazon, produced by Encompass New Opera Theatre, was described as a music drama by composer Evan Mack. It is not, what is being presented is an hour and fifteen minute version of an opera written in 2010. The libretto is glorious and radiant, the story powerful, but because the show is paired down, it seems like key songs and moments are missing.

The opera is based on the true story of Sister Dorothy Stang, an American born member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur order, who devoted her life to helping the indigenous people of Brazil gain land rights, as well as protecting the Rainforest. In 2005, this 73-year-old nun was murdered by assassins hired by the owner of a logging company. It was her sacrifice and commitment that launched a global movement to save the rainforest.

Melanie Long Photo by Steven Pisano

Playing Sister Dorothy is Melanie Long, who brings a spirituality to the role. Though a mezzo-soprano she brings a clarity and sweetness to the high coloratura parts of the piece. Her aria “The Mountain Top” is one of the highlights of the piece.

José Rubio Photo by Steven Pisano

José Rubio Photo by Steven Pisano

The phenomenally commending baritone José Rubio brings the embittered Luiz to life. Rubio’s voice is masterful, passionate and thrilling. Luis is the head of the Brazilians and it seems as if he was one of the gunmen, though that is seriously unclear. As the Landowner, Joseph Peterson makes him seems helpful like a politician, but he allows us to see the evil within. Clayton C Williams playing multiple roles shines as the Bishop. Marie Anello, Danielle Bavli,and Ayesha Robyn F Domingo rounded off the cast who sang beautifully and with heart.

Joseph Peterson, Melanie Long Photo by Steven Pisano

Joseph Peterson, Clayton C Williams Photo by Steven Pisano

What we miss in the storyline is how the citizens of Brazil are truly impoverished and how Dorothy came to be in the Amazon. Also a duet between the gunmen, who were basically given no choice would add depth. In the end the songs “Hear Us”, “Will They Listen” and “The Mountain Top” should be sung in this order for a more impactful ending that will bring the audience to tears.

Danielle Bavli, Clayton C Williams, José Rubio Photo by Steven Pisano

Nancy Rhodes direction was simple, but effective, as was the choreography by Caitlin Belcik. The imaginative sets  by Andis Gjoni, and lighting by Chris D’Angelo set the stage.

Mack, who wrote the libretto, is musically satisfying. He brings to mind the music of Menotti and Floyd. This was my first time hearing his work and it is truly glorious. His harmonies and blending of drums beats adds to the American opera repertoire. The “Brazilian Farmer’s Song,” and “Bring In The Rain” add choral perfection.

Playing in the orchestra were Musical director Elizabeth Hastings on piano, Haley Gilla on violin, and Luke Short on percussion. I loved the use of the rain stick.

Melanie Long, José Rubio Photo by Steven Pisano

I would love to see this piece in it’s entirety, instead of the hour and 15 I saw.

You can find this opera on Albany Records.

Angel of the Amazon: Encompass New Opera Theatre at The Sheen Center: Frank Shiner Theatre

 

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

Madonna; Jellybean and David Salidor

MADONNA’S BACK — (via Deadline) Madonna is teasing she is back working on her biopic and is titling it Who’s That Girl.

The singer shared a social media post where she is seen with a typewriter and making edits to a movie script.

“I Need A-lot of Bandz to make this………..OKAY. (Story of my life),” she captioned the post on Instagram.

In one of the pictures from the slideshow Madonna teased, you see a line drawn across the title M Untitled. The new title of the biopic is Who’s That Girl, a nod to Madonna’s 1987 film and song of the same name.

The script is noted as being “Rewritten by Madonna and ECW.”

News of Madonna working on her biopic comes almost a year and a half after the project was paused indefinitely. In January 2023, it was reported that the film at Universal Pictures had been scrapped.

Madonna was set to direct the film about her life and career, penning the script with Diablo Cody and Erin Cressida Wilson. Julia Garner had been chosen by the Queen of Pop herself to star in the film after proving to be a standout in a singing and dancing boot camp.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Garner is still attached to star in the film now called Who’s That Girl.

Following the biopic getting put on pause, Madonna suffered a “serious bacterial infection: in June 2023, which made her postpone her Celebration Tour. After recovering from health complications, Madonna embarked on her tour in October 2023 with stops in cities like London, Paris, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, San Francisco, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and many more.

Having lived through Madonna’s hey-day (and survived) I will admit it’s quite the story: From Patrick Hernandez to 610 Broome Street, Jellybean, Shep, PR-man David Salidor, MTV, Mark Kamins, Preston Powell and Seymour Stein and Warren Beatty too, I wonder just how forthcoming she’ll be. To me, the truth is, those early days were simply astounding and do make a terrific story, but that said, they’ve have to be told honestly and a accurately.

Julia Garner would be great, though I wonder again, what exactly was involved in Madonna’s so-called boot camp? Madonna can be, somewhat demanding!

BIDEN OUT — I knew it was a forgone conclusion after that first (and last debate with Trump) but Biden is officially out; with Kamala Harris eyed as the new choice. Biden did, btw, endorse her, though as of this writing she has not been formally nominated.

Topsy-turvy? Yes. More to come? I’m sure. Stay tuned.

Amos Lee

SHORT TAKES — Amos Lee was terrifically impressive on CBS’ Saturday Sessions this weekend. Stellar in fact.

Adrian Niles

Reminded us of Adrian Niles from years ago … After a seemingly endless heat wave in NYC, I heard one of the weather-heads describe the break in the heat as borderline comfortableGuess Who Don’t Sue: What enterprising director had a red-hot doc ready to go on a iconic superstar, but he let his reps go fingering he could do it with his own mojo? He couldn’t and the deal fell through …

Steven J. Immerman

Brad Balfour interviewed Steven J. Immerman on his In Search Of Pleasure Island tome for the Irish Examiner. Check it out here: https://irishexaminerusa.com/wp/?p=29625

We watched Sofia Coppola’s On The Rocks with Bill Murray and Rashida Jones. Coppola’s Lost In Translation (2003) is perhaps my all-time favorite film. This was a different, lighter path, but we definitely give it a thumbs up. Murray, as usual, was terrific …

Katy Perry

I’m a bit bothered by all this media-backlash about Katy Perry and her comeback single “Women’s World.” There were disturbing items about it in both SHOWBIZ 411 (https://www.showbiz411.com/2024/07/19/katy-perrys-new-single-womans-world-fails-to-launch-with-just-3k-sold) and the Daily Mail (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-13635579/Katy-Perry-comeback-music.html); citing everything from Dr. Luke’s involvement to a hideous video for the song. It all seems a bit unwarranted. It may not be “Firework,”  but not totally a disaster. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVIJUH29pjU … And, great quote from Peter Frampton on the passing of Bob Newhart: We were friends and when I took him to lunch, it was the Four Seasons. when he took me to lunch, it was some place else. It was the accountant in him.” Much-missed and thank you Bob! for all the laughs.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Andrew Sandoval; Bob Merlis; Roy Trakin; Roger Grimsby; Bill Beutel; Spike Jonze; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Kent & Laura Denmark; Susan Storm; Geraldo Rivera; Rosanna Scotto; Paul Mescal; Paul Undersinger; Harrison Jordon; Jordon Gray; Lori Immerman; Vinny Rich; Scott Stark; Don Wardell; Marsha Stern; Billy Smith; Robert Funaro; and CHIP!

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Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes

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Patti Lupone is on a roll. Patti LuPone: A Life in Notes will be released digitally on July 19, and on CD on August 30, from Center Stage Records. Her first new studio album since 2006, the Grammy Award winner’s new double album can be pre-ordered now at Amazon and www.CenterStageRecords.com, and the digital album can be pre-saved at https://orcd.co/lifeinnotes.

Never say never, LuPone also returns to Broadway in The Roommate  this fall. It’s been more than two years since LuPone tweeted “Quite a week on Broadway, seeing my name being bandied about. Gave up my Equity card; no longer part of that circus. Figure it out.”

The three-time Tony Award winner will star opposite none other than Mia Farrow in Jen Silverman’s new play “The Roommate,” directed by Jack O’Brien (“Shucked”). The Roommate will begin previews at the Booth Theatre on 45th Street in late August and then open in mid-September.

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Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

24 BACK — (Via TV Line) The clock is ticking (again): A movie adaptation of the hit Fox drama 24  is in early development at 20th Century Studios, our sister site Variety reports.

Keifer Sutherland

Brian Grazer, who executive-produced the original series, teased the prospect of a film version in a June interview with MSNBC’s Squawk Box. In a discussion of different legacy IP brands at his production company Imagine Entertainment, Grazer mentioned a 24 movie in the works “that we’re going to do in a very interesting way with Disney and Fox.”

The project is still in the very early stages, though, so there’s no word yet if Keifer Sutherland will return to reprise his role as counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer in the film. Sutherland starred as Bauer during 24′s original run, which aired for eight seasons on Fox beginning in 2001. The real-time thriller became a hit and won a number of awards, including Emmys for best drama series and for Sutherland as best lead actor in a drama. Sutherland returned as Bauer for the limited series 24: Live Another Day, which aired in 2014. Fox also tried a spinoff, 24: Legacy, in 2017 — with Corey Hawkins taking over the lead role — but that was scrapped after a single season.

The way I see if – and, as a longtime fan of both the show and Sutherland – is that if Keifer is not there, it’s not worth doing. Agreed?

Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford


SHORT TAKES — I watched an interview with Kathie Lee Gifford on Today Wednesday and didn’t even recognize her. Check out the clip here: https://www.today.com/health/news/kathie-lee-gifford-hip-surgery-rcna162079 … Great Micky Dolenz interview from the Monterey Country NOW by Dave FariesMicky Dolenz of The Monkees – and much more – still thrives on stage with songs and stories. | Music | montereycountynow.com

Brad Balfour (Film Festival Traveler) interviewed Steven J. Immerman on his In Search Of Pleasure Island tome this week… Home Depot loads in their Halloween-toys and treats this weekend. It may seem a bit early, but October will here before you know it. A PR-source of ours was about to work on a Halloween-movie coming out in September and had a co-promotion event with the store and the movie; then it all fell apart. Seems to me this would have been a superb tie-in … One of the great A&R men of them all Ed Rosneblatt passed this week in LA. From Peter Gabriel to Madonna to Neil Young; Eddie had a hand in it. Take a look at this story from Hits:https://hitsdailydouble.com/news&id=341939&title=EDDIE-ROSENBLATT-1934-2024 

Cameron Crowe

Meryl Streep is set to essay Joni Mitchell in a film by Cameron Crowe. Big news for sure. Crowe’s Almost Famous is a stone-called classic; as is Crowe …

Francis Ford Coppola

This year’s Kennedy Center Honors will be awarded to director Francis Ford Coppola, rock band Grateful Dead, blues and rock singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt, jazz trumpeter, pianist and composer Arturo Sandoval and the venue The Apollo. The ceremony will take place on Dec. 8, for broadcast on Dec. 23 …

We haven’t weighed in on Apple +’s Presumed Innocent; the re-working of Scott Turow’s book (in 1987) and movie (in 1990), but the finale is next week and the show’s just been renewed for a second season. Jake Gyllenhaal has been great, as has Bill Camp, but David E. Kelly’s words have been just off the charts. For me, it’s the best Kelly’s done since Big Little Lies. If you haven’t seen this series yet, watch all the 8 episodes. It’s a gift for sure. Stunningly good … Just received: NYC’s legendary West Bank Cafe will close …

Tom Viola (by Tristan Fuge)

After an extraordinary run of 36 years, Broadway Cares’ Tom Viola is leaving. Bravo Tom! … RIP Bob Newhart!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Hoda Kotb; Roseanna Scotto; Ray ‘Pinky’ Velazquez; Jim Burgess; Stephanie Shepherd; Monica Lynch; Robert Dragatta; Len Berman; Brad Balfour; Jim Milliot; Sue Simmons; Cindy Adams; Liz Smith; Claudia Cohen; Neal Travis; Richard Johnson; Howard Smiley; and SADIE!

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Broadway

A Tribute to Tony Award-Winning Composer Steven Lutvak

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NYU Skirball Center will honor the late Tony Award-winning composer Steven Lutvak, the musical mind behind the Tony Award-winning musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, with performances and tributes from family and friends in a celebration of his life on Thursday, July 18 – which would have been his 65th birthday – at 3:00 PM. The event will include performances by Broadway Inspirational Voices, Crystal Monee Hall, Bryce Pinkham, Catherine Walker, Scarlett Strallen, Catherine Porter, Lori Wilner, and Jenna Pastuszek, and feature songs from A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder (Tony Award for Best Musical, 2014), his albums Ahead of My Heart and The Time It Takes, and several never-before heard works-in-progress. Admission is free, but reservations are encouraged. For tickets, please visit tickets.nyu.edu/stevenlutvak

Born and raised in the Bronx, Mr. Lutvak was a talented multi-hyphenate, working as a cabaret performer, music arranger, director, and as a performance coach in addition to his songwriting and compositional work. As a singer-songwriter, he performed across the country, including successful New York engagements at Carnegie Hall, which led to releasing two albums, The Time It Takes and Ahead of My Heart.

Mr. Lutvak made his Broadway debut with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder in 2014, for which he composed the music, and co-wrote the lyrics with Robert L. Freedman. The musical won the Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Awards for Best Musical. The pair had previously written the musical Campaign of the Century together, which won the California Musical Theater Competition from the Beverly Hills Theater Guild.

Other musicals by Mr. Lutvak include Almost September, The Wayside Motor Inn (an adaptation of a play by A. R. Gurney), and Esmeralda. For the screen, Mr. Lutvak composed the title track for the film Mad Hot Ballroom, and the score to Anything But Love, starring Eartha Kitt and Andrew McCarthy. Mr. Lutvak was a highly awarded composer, receiving the Kleban Award for Lyric Writing for the Theater, the Fred Ebb Award for Songwriting for the Theater alongside Freedman, the American Theatre Wing’s Jonathan Larson Grant, the Johnny Mercer Foundation’s Emerging American Songwriter Award, two Bistro Awards, three MAC Awards, and multiple ASCAP Awards.

In his later years, Mr. Lutvak worked as an adjunct professor at his alma mater, the New York University Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program.

Mr. Lutvak died October 9, 2023 at the age of 64. He is survived by his husband, Artistic Director of Flight Path Dance Project, Michael McGowan, and their daughter, Eliot Rose Lutvak-McGowan.

The tribute to Steven Lutvak will take place at NYU Skirball Center, located at 566 LaGuardia Place, between West 4th and West 3rd Street, on Thursday, July 18 at 3:00 PM. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Admission is free, but reservations are encouraged. For tickets, please visit tickets.nyu.edu/stevenlutvak

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Cabaret

Jason Robert Brown To Perform at Carnegie Hall In October

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Now here is a concert I will definitely be attending. Three-time Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown will perform a special concert event at Carnegie Hall on October 25, 2024, at 8:00 PM. He already had a sold-out concert at the London Palladium.

Expect to hear “Still Hurting,” and “Stars and the Moon.” I have included some of my favorite video’s of Mr. Brown’s music sung to perfection.

His repertoire, spans over thirty years of unforgettable and some of the best musical theatre songs ever written.

At the concert some of his closest collaborators and newest friends and some of the most celebrated performers of the stage and the music world – soon to be announced.

The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New York’s own chamber orchestra, will accompany Jason and his guests with their virtuosic 22-piece ensemble. The evening will be conducted by Jason Robert Brown and Georgia Stitt.

Tickets go on sale to the general public at 11am EST on July 19, 2024, with a general pre-sale on Wednesday, July 17th, and a Live Nation presale, starting Thursday, July 18th. Tickets start at $59.50. For ticketing information and further details, please contact CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800, carnegiehall.org, or visit the Box Office on 57th Street and Seventh Avenue.

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