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Janet Watson, Tom Jones

Choreographer Janet Watson, wife to The Fantasticks lyricist-librettist Tom Jones died February 8th after a long illness. The past few years were difficult for Janet, Tom and their sons as her illness took over.

On Broadway Janet choreographed the Tony Award-winning original production of Big River. From the mid 1980s to the mid 2000s she worked extensively Off-Broadway including Mirette, Philemon, In the Bone Room, Portfolio Revue, The Show Goes On, the 1984 revival of Pacific Overtures, the 1996 revival of I Do! I Do!, Noel and Gertie and the 2006 revival of The Fantasticks, which is still running.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she came to New York in the early 1960s after her older sister, Susan Watson, had her first big success as the original Kim MacAfee in Bye By Birdie. Susan originated the role of “The Girl” in the summer 1959 one-act version of The Fantasticks and later starred in the TV production.

Janet studied at the University of Colorado and danced with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. She became head of the dance department at Texas Tech for a time, and also worked extensively at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

She returned to New York in the mid 1970s to pursue a career as a choreographer.

Jones said his wife was “an incredible athlete” who was a competitive diver, a skater, and a regular competitor in the New York Marathon.

But in her professional life, Jones said, her special magic was the ability “to an actor who was maybe insecure and shy about movement, and make them truly believe they could move. That was her biggest gift.”

She is survived by her sister, her husband and their sons, Sam and Mike.

Several of the Jones\Schmidt shows and revues have found a home at The York Theater through the years. Janet’s husband Tom Jones is planning a memorial service at The York Theater on Tuesday, March 1st at 4:00 pm to celebrate her life for family and friends.

The York Theater is in the process of reconfiguring and revitalizing new seating for the theater. In an effort to raise funds, The York has decided to make individual seats available for “purchase” as a means to honor or give lasting memorial to friends of the theater.  The cost was $2000.  Each seat will have a plaque which honors the person in who’s memory it was purchased many of Tom Jones friends are buying them saying “Friends at The Fantasticks” to honor Janet for Tom.

Most of this article comes from Playbill.com written by Robert Viagas.

 

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

We Say Good-Bye To Janice Paige

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Janice Paige turned 100 was born on September 16, 2022, and died at her on June 2, 2024, at the age of 101. Paige was an American actress and singer. With a career spanning nearly 60 years, she was one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Born in Tacoma, Washington, Paige began singing in local amateur shows at the age of five. After high school, she moved to Los Angeles, where she became a singer at the Hollywood Canteen during World War II, as well as posing as a pin-up model. This led to a film contract with Warner Bros. She later left the studio to pursue live theatre work, appearing in a number of Broadway shows. She continued to alternate between film and theatre work for much of her career. Beginning in the mid-1950s, she also made numerous television appearances, as well as starring in her own sitcom It’s Always Jan.

Paige began co-starring in low-budget musicals, often paired with Dennis Morgan or Jack Carson. She co-starred in Romance on the High Seas (1948), the film in which Doris Day made her movie debut. Paige later co-starred in adventures and dramas, in which she felt out of place. Following her role in Two Gals and a Guy (1951), she decided to leave Hollywood.

Paige appeared on Broadway in a 1951 comedy-mystery play Remains to Be Seen. She also toured successfully as a cabaret singer. 


Stardom came in 1954 with her role as Babe in the Broadway musical The Pajama Game.  For the screen version, the studio wanted one major movie star to guarantee the film’s success, so John Raitt’s role of Sid was offered to Frank Sinatra, who would have been paired with Paige. When Sinatra declined, the producers offered Paige’s role of Babe to Doris Day, who accepted and was paired with Raitt.

Paige returned to Hollywood in Silk Stockings (1957), which starred Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse, the Doris Day/David Niven comedy Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960), and as a love-starved married neighbor in Bachelor in Paradise (1961) with Bob Hope. A rare dramatic role was as Marion, an institutionalized prostitute, in The Caretakers (1963).


Paige returned to Broadway in 1963 in the short-lived Here’s Love. In 1968, when after nearly two years Angela Lansbury left the Broadway production of the musical Mame to take the show on a limited U.S. tour, Paige was the star chosen to be the first Broadway replacement.

Paige appeared in touring productions of musicals such as Annie Get Your Gun, Applause, Sweet Charity, Ballroom, Gypsy: A Musical Fable, and Guys and Dolls. In 1984, back on Broadway in a nonmusical play, Alone Together


Paige made her live dramatic TV debut June 27, 1957 in “The Latch Key” on Lux Video Theatre. She appeared as troubadour Hallie Martin in The Fugitive episode “Ballad for a Ghost” (1964). She also had a recurring role as Auntie V, Tom Bradford’s sister, in Eight Is Enough. Paige appeared as a waitress named Denise in both the seventh and ninth seasons of All in the Family. In her first appearance, she has a flirtation with Archie Bunker that threatens to become serious.

Paige appeared on episodes of 87th Precinct; Trapper John, M.D.;Columbo; Night Court; Caroline in the City; and in the 1975 television movie John O’Hara’s Gibbsville (also known as The Turning Point of Jim Malloy). In 1982, she appeared on St. Elsewhere as a female flasher who stalked the hallways of the hospital to “cheer up” the male patients. She also appeared on a season 11 episode of Happy Days, as a roadside diner waitress named Angela who may or may not be Fonzie’s long lost mother; Fonzie has a heartfelt talk with Angela, and it is left up to the viewer to determine if she is his mother or not. In the 1980s and 1990s, she was seen on several soap operas, including Capitol (1987, as Sam Clegg’s first wife, Laureen), General Hospital(1989–1990, as Katharine Delafield’s flashy Aunt Iona, a lady counterfeiter), and Santa Barbara (1990–1993, replacing Dame Judith Anderson as matriarch Minx Lockridge).


Paige was given a star in the Motion Picture section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6624 Hollywood Boulevard on February 9, 1960.


In 2017, Paige wrote a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter in which she stated that Alfred Bloomingdale had attempted to rape her when she was 22 years old. She alleges that she was sexually assaulted after being lured into Bloomingdale’s apartment under false pretenses.

Paige was married three times.

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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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