Connect with us

New

Gemma’s Gem of the Week: Discovering Magic in Authenticity

Published

on

“When I found out about being non-binary, and when I met other queer people – my lighthouses, as we like to talk about them – for the first time, it felt like I was coming home to myself.” – Alok Vaid-Menon, 4D with Demi Lovato

Inside my childhood closet, you’d find a shimmering array of pink sparkly dresses, glittering plastic heels, blonde wigs (because how else could my brunette-haired self take on the role of Princess Aurora?), and more stuffed animals than one would ever know what to do with. Their lack of flesh and bone didn’t stop me from giving each and everyone of them a name, personality, and story. Because of this, I grew a deep affection for each of these toys – which caused my room to transform into an Avalanche of Animals. But I didn’t care. Who did I have to impress besides myself? 

I was deeply in love with the idea of magic, and sought it out in every corner. If I looked into the sky long enough, I’d paint scenes of cloud kingdoms teeming with life that might just be within my reach one day. If I stood high enough on my tiptoes, perhaps one day I’d possess the power of flight. I even went through a phase believing my destiny would be to aid Santa Claus in his daring adventures one day, after a particularly vocal Mall Elf had told me, “you know, one day, you’d sure make a great assistant to Father Christmas.” 

Although my fairytale dreams would eventually fade, my love of magic remains proudly by my side. 

***

Music has played the vital role of my personal photographer throughout my life, capturing moments that are somehow reincarnated in the lyrics and verses. Like a gentle wave caressing the sand, she is there for me in loneliness. Like a sweet serenading violinist, she has been the ambiance behind scenes of love, lust, and memorable messy human experiences.

Music is the voice that whispers, magic is still real, my dear – and you’re allowed to believe.

Discovering my love and affection towards girls ignited a new type of enchantment within me. I was mesmerized by their strength and courage in sports teams and gym classes. Their wisdom, charm, and charisma was breathtaking. I couldn’t wrap my head around how strikingly beautiful they were. Though I might not have one set label for myself yet, I am certain of one thing; I love everyone. I fall hopelessly in love with exchanges of energy. As David Rose says in Schitt’s Creek, “I do drink red wine. But I also drink white wine. And I’ve been known to sample the occasional rosé. And a couple summers back I tried a merlot, that used to be a chardonnay. Which got a bit complicated. I like the wine, and not the label. Does that make sense?”

Embracing my sexuality set off fireworks in an explosion of self-discovery that uncovered more magic than I could possibly have asked for. I have fallen madly in love with my queer community and its constant, expressive love towards embracing magic, color, and authentic sparkles within love. Here, my sparkly-adorned outfits are welcome; as are my Hawaiian dad shirts. My decision to add “they/them” to my pronoun series in addition to “she/her” is encouraged and celebrated. 

Despite my childhood being behind me, the inner child still stands as a guiding light in my present. Occasionally, she’ll nudge me and say, “Let’s make this life as beautiful as possible. How shall we start today?”

Embracing all that I am means coming home.

Gemma Farquhar is the writer of "Gemma's Gem of the Week" and author of "The Shape of Something New." She is passionate about the future of storytelling and welcomes all ages to her column.

Cabaret

My View: Lucie Arnaz…..How Did She Get This Job?

Published

on

With apologies to politicians who tout their job creating policies, Lucie Arnaz did not need any assistance to get her current job at 54 Below with a show titled “I Got The Job”.  Lucie got this gig because she is a supremely talented actor/singer/dancer who possesses a distinguished resume and long career of memorable performances on the stages of Broadway, Cabaret, and Concert Halls all over the world… and as I’ve said before about this show….

Lucie Arnaz hit the stage of 54Below with all cylinders on burn and guns ablaze! She performed an evening she calls “I GOT THE JOB” and kept the New York City audience entranced from beginning to end, garnering multiple ovations that seemed as natural as breathing.

For 85 minutes, she owned the stage, dressed to work, in black tights with tuxedo rhinestone striping and a dazzling orange silk blouse with glimmering buttons and cuffs. Basic, simple, perfect. This woman comes with all the equipment to perform, entertain and break your heart. She’s a master storyteller with impeccable timing and the voice shows up for her song after song, from show after show, exhibiting range and colors and nuancing that engage the audience at every turn. The star, of course, is the daughter of showbiz royalty, but she doesn’t rely on that one bit and has her own stories to tell, and they are mesmerizing.

Lucie Arnaz has had an extraordinary life and career and judging by what was on display, last night, I imagine, as Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh wrote, “The Best Is Yet To Come.” Lucie wrote and directed herself in this show, which opened the Birdland Theater years ago, but it has been fully fleshed out and brought to vivid life. Sharing the stage with her is what appears to be a musical soulmate in her Musical Director, Arranger and “Acting Partner,” Ron Abel, whose hands gave Ms. Arnaz her orchestra.

During the evening we were treated to a story of her audition (in a theatre) for THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG. During the audition, Neil Simon walked onto the stage and told her she was a breath of fresh air. She later “got the job.” Last night, she also stole our hearts and, now, we’re helpless and LOVE LUCIE.

LUCIE ARNAZ

LUCIE ARNAZ

RON ABEL

54 BELOW

LUCIE ARNAZ

RON ABEL & LUCIE ARNAZ

54 BELOW

MACRON PRICKETT

54 BELOW

Continue Reading

Cabaret

My View: An Evening With Rex Reed, Will Friedwald, & POLLY BERGEN

Published

on

Will Friedwald’s Clip Joint presented the legendary film critic and personality “Rex Reed Remembers Polly Bergen” last night at the TRIAD Theater.  It was a fascinating evening as Rex, who was one of Polly Bergen’s closest friends told fly on the wall show biz stories and personal anecdotes about her remarkable life.  An especially hilarious one occurred at the annual OSCAR NIGHT party that Polly had every year in her New York apartment.  There was Rex, watching the Oscars on a TV in Polly’s bedroom, Lucille Ball on one side of him and Paul Newman on the other .  Milton Berle who had been in another room parades past them wearing one of Polly’s gowns that he snatched from her closet!

Will and Rex reminisced about her amazing career in the movies ( including three classic comedies with Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis) but even more so on television.  In fact, her career spans the very history of the small screen medium, starting with appearances on pioneering broadcasts of the late 1940’s right up to a memorable regular role in the hit series DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES-although she was probably best known for starring in the legendary 1957 PLAYHOUSE 90 live television biography of HELEN MORGAN.  In other guises, she was an entrepreneur and political activist. 

Will Friedwald brought along his extensive library of film clips of her appearances on The Hollywood Palace, The Andy Williams Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Perry Como Kraft Music Hall, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show and appearances with Phil Silvers, George Burns, Red Skelton, Andy Williams and many more. Polly Bergen (1930-2014) had three husbands, and unfortunately became a Doris Day type financial victim because of her last one. And now “here’s the rest of my personal Polly Bergen story”.

Many years ago a firm placed a large order with my factory.  When I checked with our credit insuring agency they advised me that the company did not have enough finances to purchase that amount of goods and consequently the agency would only insure half the order.  Not wanting to reject a sizable order I made an appointment to meet the owner in his garment center office and check out his business for myself.  During the course of the conversation somehow the entertainment business came up (of course it did) and he mentioned that he was married to Polly Bergen.  Being a fan and and having reverence for the famous and talented artists in this world I dropped my usual due diligence guard and the hour was spent talking about show business, I loved it, especially when he invited me over to their apartment to watch the Super Bowl.   Well, I shipped all the merchandise…and you can guess what happened….Years later I met Polly Bergen at one of Rex Reed’s evenings and introduced myself with the opening line “ you cost me a lot of money” and then related the story of how her husband never paid.   Polly put her arm around me and said in her bawdy way, “ honey, you’re lucky it was only that much, he bankrupted me”.

WILL FRIEDWALD

REX REED & WILL FRIEDWALD

POLLY BERGEN

REX REED

POLLY BERGEN & DEAN MARTIN

PERRY COMO & POLLY BERGEN

REX REED & WILL FRIEDWALD

ANDY WILLIAMS & POLLY BERGEN

POLLY BERGEN & SANDLER & YOUNG

REX REED & POLLY BERGEN

REX REED & EDA SOROKOFF

Continue Reading

Cabaret

My View: Happily Ever Laughter at 54 Below……Liz Callaway & Jason Graae

Published

on

At first glance they might seem like a musical and personality mismatch, but the chemistry between Liz Callaway and Jason Graae is far from problematic.  It is an enormously entertaining integration of these two artists musicianship, acting, and comedic expertise. Liz Callaway’s once in a lifetime voice and vocal dexterity doesn’t just sing in tune.  It lands in the middle of the middle of a note with a clarity that pierces your soul.  Jason, once he gets his oboe in tune (that’s a double entenndre) also possesses excellent vocal technique, and my camera, no matter how many photos I snap is incapable of capturing his enormously expressive facial movements that glide between comical and the heartfelt with such ease. His rendition of William Finn’s “What More Can I Say” brought tears.  The duets from “BABY” for which Ms Callaway was nominated for a Tony and her two songs from the animated film Anastasia (in which she starred) were highlights.  This evening’s friendship (they’ve been for forty years) was the perfect blendship, together with the masterful Alex Rybeck on the piano at 54 Below last night. The show was very appropriately titled “Happily Ever Laughter” and it has two more performances, July 5 & 6.

Speaking of friendship and blendship, my table of KT Sullivan, Eda, and Debbie Gravitte was pretty special too.

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

LIZ CALLAWAY

JASON GRAAE & LIZ CALLAWAY

54 BELOW

LIZ CALLAWAY & JASON GRAAE

ALEX RYBECK, LIZ CALLAWAY, JASON GRAAE

54 BELOW

JASON GRAAE & RICHARD SKIPPER

KT SULLIVAN, DEBBIE GRAVITTE, EDA SOROKOFF

HAPPILY EVER LAUGHTER

Continue Reading

Cabaret

My View: Jamie deRoy & Her Friends….Who’s Like Them….Damm few

Published

on

There wasn’t a sign on the door that said “ Private Party…you have to know Jamie deRoy to get in”, but it seemed that way last night as all the tables in Birdland were filled with Jamie’s friends. They came for another edition of her long running (34 years) variety show.  Jamie as usual hosted the evening and presented a talented line up of performer friends which included: Jason Graae, Jason Henderson, Cory Kahaney, MOIPEI, A.J. Shively, and Jim Vallance & Catherine Porter. The evening, which benefited the Entertainment Community Fund, was directed by Barry Kleinbort with musical direction by Ron Abel.

A show tends to be well received when an audience is mainly comprised of friends. However, even an audience of strangers would have become Jamie’s friends after watching this outstanding cast creating a highly enjoyable evening of music and humor.  As the song says.. “ya’ got to have friends”, and to answer the question asked by the many friends who couldn’t snag a ticket…yes, Jamie sang “Jews Don’t Camp”.

Check out the show photos and the Cast Party

JAMIE deROY

A.J.SHIVELY

JASON HENDERSON

CORY KAHANEY

CATHERINE PORTER & JIM VALLANCE

CATHERINE PORTER

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

JASON GRAAE

RON ABEL, music director

RON ABEL

Continue Reading

Cabaret

My View: If She Were On The Debate Stage Tonight…Age Would Not Be An Issue

Published

on

It’s not my photography skills, nor the lighting, camera, or lens that make these photos taken last night of Christine Andreas appear to be similar to the ones I shot 10 years ago.  Madame Andreas ( who speaks lots of French during her show at 54 Below) has found the secret of ageless, timeless beauty.  You can also say the same about her glorious voice and shimmering vibrato which she so effectively joined with her energetic acting and verbal skills to sing the timeless songs of Paris and Broadway.  Her Cabaret show Paris to Broadway is a gem and husband/music director Martin Silvestri is a superb composer/arranger/pianist/ and accordionist, who helped create the musical authenticity for her show stopping set list. 

One thing for sure, if Christine Andreas was on that debate stage tonight, age would not be an issue.

CHRISTINE ANDREAS

CHRSTINE ANDREAS

CHRISTINE ANDREAS

MARTIN SILVESTRI & CHRISTINE ANDREAS

MARTIN SILVESTRI

CHRSTINE ANDREAS

MARTIN SILVESTRI & CHRISTINE ANDREAS

CHRISTINE ANDREAS

CHRISTINE ANDREAS

STANDING OVATION

54 BELOW

LORNA DALLAS BROWN & LEE ROY REAMS

EDA SOROKOFF & CHRISTINE ANDREAS

EDA SOROKOFF, CHRISTINE ANDREAS, STEPHEN SOROKOFF

MARIA VON NICOLAI

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2023 Times Square Chronicles

Times Square Chronicles