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Obituaries

Desperate Measures Peter Saide Has Died at Age 36.

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Saide was an Australian actor who recently appeared on stage in Last Days of Summer at George Street Playhouse.

Peter Saide, Lea Salonga
Peter Saide and Lea Salonga Photo by Rose Billings at the opening of Desperate Measures.

Saide’s first professional role was a version of Cinderella in Manila with Lea Solanga. His first role in America was Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys in Las Vegas. He went on to roles in Mamma Mia, Oklahoma and Beauty and the Beast. In film he appeared in Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s movie, “Other Guys.” On TV he appeared in the NBC series, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

On January 8th Saide wrote the following on facebook

A singer’s prayer:

Dear Cold and Flu Season,

Late Spring, I felt just like perfection,
Strong and clear and good.
Winter came, so one injection.
(I was told I should).

There’s concerts and auditions hailing. 
A job?! I would rejoice.
I feel my mind and body failing.
Please, leave me my voice.

Amen

On Valentine’s Day 2020, Saide uploaded a heartbreaking post to his Instagram page about being in the hospital having undergone the “hardest two weeks” of his life. Saide paid a tribute to his girlfriend, Shelby Putlak, also an actress. Saide said that Putlak had taken care of his dog, dealt with his concerned family members, as well as successfully auditioning for parts on the side. Saide said that he “lay in awe” his girlfriend, adding, “Every time I open my eyes she’s there. Sitting quietly, smiling and holding my hand. She has never, for a moment, shown weakness or any sign of complaint. It’s one of the greatest acts of love I’ve received in my lifetime.”

David Friedman stated “Oh Pete, we loved you so much. The moment you walked into your Desperate Measures audition we knew you had the part, and we kept you there all day to audition opposite everyone else. It was my joy and honor to know you. Shawn and I especially cherished the times we got to drive you home after the show, and the chats we had along the way, and the weekend you spent at our home when you came up to sing at church was so special. We will miss you desperately.”

Peter, you will be missed. I loved getting to know you and my heart breaks reporting this news.

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

Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Richard M. Sherman Songwriter for Mary Poppins and Jungle Book Passes On

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Richard M. Sherman, was a nine-time Academy Award nominee along with his brother Robert. The Sherman Brothers wrote more than 200 songs for some 27 films and 24 television productions. Their film credits include Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Parent Trap, Summer Magic tv, The Sword in the Stone, That Darn Cat!, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, The Happiest Millionaire, The Aristocats, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

The won two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins, taking home the trophies for Best Score – Substantially Original and Best Original Song (for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”). They won three Grammy awards and received 24 gold and platinum albums and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the US National Medal of the Arts in 2008.

They also wrote the score on Broadway for Over Here.

The brothers were portrayed in the 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks, which told the story behind the making of Mary Poppins.

Sherman died of age-related illness at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills. His brother Robert died in 2012.

 

 

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Broadway

We Say Good Bye To Costume Designer Extraordinaire Carrie Robbins

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I met Carrie Robbins at an art gallery with Louis St Louis, Baayork Lee and Judy Jacksina. The four of us stayed well into the morning talking, laughing and having a fabulous time. Carrie and I bonded after that as she turned to playwriting. It broke my heart to learn that on the evening of April 12, 2024 Costume Designer extraordinaire Carrie Robbins passed away.

Carrie’s work has been featured in over 30+ Broadway shows, including Class Act, Grease (original), Agnes of God, Yentl, Octette Bridge Club, Sweet Bird of Youth (Lauren Bacall), Frankenstein, Happy End (Mary Streep), Boys of Winter, Cyrano (Frank Langella), & Shadow Box (Mercedes Ruehl).

Her awards and nominations included: 2012 recipient of the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Theatre Development Fund & the tdf/Costume Collection with the support of the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund. 2 Tony (Noms.), 5 Drama Desks, Maharam, USITT/Prague International, L.A. Dramalogue, Henry Hughes, F.I.T-Surface Design, & Audelco, among others.

Robbins’ costumes for the Irving Berlin musical White Christmas played major cities in the USA, Broadway, and Great Britain. Her regional work included M. Butterfly and On the Verge, for director Tazewell Thompson (Arena Stage) and the Gershwin musical American in Paris by Ken Ludwig for director Gregory Boyd (Alley Theatre, Houston) as well as The Tempest (Anthony Hopkins as Prospero) & Flea in Her Ear (director Tom Moore at Mark Taper Forum), many productions for the Guthrie (MN), Williamstown, and many others from Alaska to Buffalo.


Locally, in NYC, Robbins designed for many productions for The Lincoln Center Repertory Theatre, Chelsea Theatre at BAM, Acting Company at Juilliard and NY Shakespeare Festival.

She also designed for the Opera and they included Death in Venice for Glimmerglass (’08 Prague International Design Exhibit), Samson et Dalila (San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand, more), and many productions for Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston. Her work has also been seen at the Hamburg StatsOper.

For film Robbins designed the movie “In The Spirit” (Elaine May, Peter Falk, Marlo Thomas); TV design included: Saturday Nite Live, PBS Arts in America, & several unseen pilots.

Robbins has designed clothes for several seasons of Queen Esther Marrow and The Harlem Gospel Singers’ European Tour. She also did the designs for The Cincinnati Ballet’s new Nutcracker, in December of 2011

Robbins was an MFA grad from the Yale School of Drama and was Master Teacher of Costume Design at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts for many years. She is extremely proud of the extraordinary number of award-winning, successful young costume designers and costume teachers across the country who came out of her classes.

Besides being a costume designer Carrie also was a playwright. In August 2010, her play, The Death & Life of Dr. Cutter, a Vaudeville, based on the true stories told by her husband Dr. R.D.Robbins, had its 4th reading at the Snapple Theatre Center; it was chosen by Abingdon Theatre Co, NYC, to be part of its First Readings Series in Fall, 2009. In 2011-12 the  League of Professional Theatre Women chose The Dragon Quartet as part of its 30th year anniversary celebration. In 2012-13, La MaMa (oldest off-off-Broadway theater in NYC at 51 years) chose The Diamond Eater for its “Concert Reading Series”. In 2013: TACT (The Actors Company Theatre, chose Sawbones for part of its newTACTics New Play Festival. In 2014 both The Diamond Eater and Sawbones  received 6 Nominations from N.Y. Innovative Theatre Awards (the most nominations given out in the 2014 season). In 2015, Le Wedding Dress, was a semi-finalist in NYNewWorks Theatre Festival. In 2016: Obsessions Of An Art Student chosen by NYNewWorks Theatre Festival. In 2016, The Actress, was a finalist in NY Thespis Summer Festival. In 2017, My Swollen Feet, chosen by NY Summerfest Theatre Festival/ Hudson Guild Theatre. In 2018 The Diamond Eater , semi-finalist at the 14th St. Y competition War + Peace/2018/19 season and The Dragon Griswynd, was chosen by Theater for the New City for its “Dream-Up Festival” In 2019 Pie Lessons, was invited by Crystal Field, Exec. Artistic Director of Theater for the New City, to be part of “Scratch Night at TNC”.

The last thing Carrie was working on was For The Lost Children Of Paris. This play was about how the Nazis, with help from the Vichy Government, collected French-Jewish schoolchildren and delivered them to Auschwitz. Excellent German record-keeping revealed 11,400 children were taken. At the liberation, only 200 were found alive. This is the story of one classroom’s collection day and its aftermath.

She did this play using puppets as the children.

Carrie had a voice that she used in a multiple of ways. She was a caring friend, a dedicated teacher, a prolific writer and costume designer, who always cared about others first. Carrie you will be missed.

 





 

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Broadway

We Say Adieu To Christopher Durang

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Christopher Durang was a playwright whose absurdist dark plays have been produced on and off- Broadway, around the country and abroad. He made us laugh and take stock of the world around us.

Among his plays: Beyond Therapy, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Baby with the Bathwater, Laughing Wild, A History of the American Film, Betty’s Summer Vacation, Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

He has written 1,455 one act plays (or perhaps 40), including The Actor’s Nightmare, For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls, Naomi in the Living Room, and ‘dentity Crisis.

Christopher also acts and sings.  He’s had small but fun parts in a number of movies, and acted in some of his own plays.  Some mornings he feels grateful and bitter at the same time, which is a complicated feat.

Name Dropping:  Sigourney Weaver, Wendy Wasserstein, Albert Innaurato, Dianne Wiest, Jerry Zaks, Joan Allen, Elizabeth Franz, Pootie LaPunta, Klevin Kahn, Bertolt Brecht, E. Katherine Kerr, Kristine Nielsen, Sabu, Swoosie Kurtz, Dana Ivey, Chandra Bell, and Fidel Castro.

Final keywords: cursor, satire, parody, glaucoma drops, dog, dog food, bread.

The best way I knew how to honor Christopher Durang was to use his own words, which is what the above is.

Durang died Tuesday at his home in Pipersville, Pennsylvania, of complications from logopenic primary progressive aphasia, said his agent, Patrick Herold. He was 75. In 2022, it was revealed Durang had been diagnosed in 2016 with the disorder, a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Fashion

Fashion icon Iris Apfel Brings Her Style To Heaven

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Portrait of Iris by tatydesignstudio.com

Iris Apfel was born August 29, 1921 in Astoria, Queens. I had the pleasure of meeting Iris, through Errol Rappaport. His mother Francesca had been one of the first people to bring Iris to recognition and had at one time had a lot of her work in her houses. The two of them had been friends for over 70 years.

Francesca Rappaport and Iris Apfel

Francesca Rappaport and Iris Apfal friends for over 70 years

Iris started her career as a copywriter for Women’s Wear Daily and interior designer Elinor Johnson.

Carl, Errol Rappaport and Iris

Errol Rappaport and Iris

In 1948, she married husband Carl Apfel, and the duo owned a textile firm until they retired 44 years later.  Over the years the pair worked on many restoration projects, including the White House.

Errol and Iris

Carl died at the age of 100 in 2015.

Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel

Iris at 90, she began teaching at the University of Texas at Austin. At 94, she was the subject of a documentary by Albert Maysles, simply titled “Iris”. At 97, she became a model and modeled for Vogue Italia, Kate Spade, M.A.C. and many others.  Iris was also the oldest person to have had a Barbie doll made by Mattel in her image. In addition to modeling, she also designed her own clothing and accessories line for HSN and published a book in 2018. It was then she became a fashion icon and self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet”, at the age of 102. Sadly she passed away on Friday in her Palm Beach, Florida, home.

Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel

Apfel was known for chunky bracelets, layers of necklaces, and those iconic heavy-framed glasses – she nicknamed eyebobs. She came to worldwide attention in 2005 when the Metropolitan Museum of Art showed an exhibition focusing on her fashion sense titled Rara Avis (Rare Bird).

Albert Maysles, Iris Apfel

Albert Maysles and Iris Apfel

Iris’s style, creativity and joy of life will be missed.

 

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Film

Stage and Screen Favorite Rita McKenzie Has Passed Away

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We are sad to report the death of stage and screen favorite, Rita McKenzie. Ms. McKenzie, was known for her powerhouse stage voice and theatrical personality, died peacefully surrounded by her family on Saturday, February 17, 2024 in Los Angeles, days before her 77th Birthday.  Her death was announced by her husband Scott Stander.  She succumbed after a long-term illness.

In 1988 she took New York by storm with her off-Broadway one-woman show, Ethel Merman’s Broadway which became the longest running one woman show in theatrical history. Her tribute to Merman gained critical acclaim and eventually toured throughout the country. She played Lita Encore in the Los Angeles premiere of Ruthless! The Musical and reprised the role in the recent New York revival of the show.

Ms. McKenzie performed a wide range of stage roles throughout the US – including many of Merman’s hits – Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes!, the 50th Anniversary tour of Annie Get Your Gun, and Rose in Gypsy.   She enjoyed a three year US tour of Neil Simon’s The Female Odd Couple, co-starring with her good friend, Barbara Eden.

She was the opening singer for such iconic performers as Milton Berle and his 90th Birthday Tour, Don Knotts, Norm Crosby, Donald O’Connor and Steve Allen. She appeared in the Joe Bologna, Reneé Taylor & Lainie Kazan tour of Bermuda Avenue Triangle as Reneé Taylor’s daughter.

A favorite of symphony orchestra conductors, she performed for the Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Baltimore Pops, and she sang the closing finale for PBS’s Capital Fourth Celebration on the Washington Mall in 1995.

McKenzie had featured roles on TV in The Brady Bunch -The Final Days, Caroline In the City, Frasier with Kelsey Grammar, the film Meet Wally Sparks with Rodney Dangerfield and the TV series Big Brother Jake opposite Richard Lewis and Don Rickles

Most recently, Rita enjoyed her role as Interview host for stage appearances of The Real Housewives (with Vicki Gunvalson, Jill Zarin and Caroline Manzo) and for Barbara Eden’s On The Magic Carpet show.  Her most recent role was as Associate Producer for the pre-Broadway tour of Rupert Holmes’ All Things Equal: The Life and Trials of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In addition to her husband, Scott Stander, she is survived by her daughter, Jennifer and her husband Tom Otto, of Cold Spring, NY; son, Derek Pflug and his wife Vanessa, of Gilbert, AZ; sister, Nancy and her husband Joe Wood, of Sun City, AZ; and three grandchildren, Mason and Jackson Pflug and Thomas Otto. She is pre-deceased by her parents, Rita and Edwin Schurter, who raised her in Woodbridge, NJ – a Jersey girl, through and through.

“I first encountered the magic that was Rita McKenzie at the Pasadena Playhouse, where my thriller Accomplice played side-by-side with her remarkable tour-de-force Call Me Ethel (ultimately becomingEthel Merman’s Broadway) … in which Rita made an evening with Ethel Merman more delightful, hilarious, touching, and musical than the real thing would probably have been. Over the decades, I was thrilled to see the range and depth of roles in which Rita triumphed, and during these last three years, I was honored and grateful to work closely with her on All Things Equal: The Life and Trials of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a play commissioned and inspired by Rita in tandem with her beloved husband and the show’s lead producer Scott Stander. During the play’s development and rehearsals, Rita’s insights as a savvy theatrical pro and one of the warmest and wittiest humans I’ve had the privilege to know were invaluable in sculpting the piece into the success it has become. It is fitting that this tribute to one remarkable woman bears the imprimatur of another remarkable woman: the unforgettable Rita McKenzie.” – Rupert Holmes

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