Friars Club roasted comedian Tracy Morgan last night at the former Ziegfeld Theater, now Ballroom at the Friars Club 2022 Entertainment Icon Award.
Morgan joins Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Douglas Fairbanks, Tony Bennett, Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro and, most recently, Billy Crystal.
In attendance were Mayor Eric Adams
Rudy Giuliani, Bill DeBlasio and Anthony Weiner.
Geraldo Rivera, former “SNL” cast member Chris Kattan, Alan Dershowitz, Judge Jeanine Pirro
Paul Shaffer, Natalie White, Marvin Scott, Carol Alt, Allan Houston
Ben Vereen, David DANZ Diamante, Sherri Shepherd
JB Smoove, Arthur Aidala, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Carol Alt
Jamie deRoy, Riki Kane Larimer
At my table were Pat Addiss, Margarita Parlionas who invited me to attend.
Councilman Kenneth Rothwell and his wife Debbie were charming.
At the head of my table was Mark MK McLaughin, who assisted with putting the event together, getting Tracy Morgan and performing “Stand By Me.” MK got his start penning and performing on the movie score of Universal Picture Bring It On: Fight To The Finish. Shortly after MK was featured in publications like GQ Magazine, Vibe Magazine, XXL, Hip Hop Weekly and countless blogs for his collaborations and partnerships with the Colon Cancer Foundation, the NY Mets, Target Retail, Belvedere Vodka and TGI Fridays to name a few. His singing and songwriting received early approval from Hot97, iHeart radio, his songs with Shaggy and Snoop Dogg. He has performed in shows with John Legend, Flo Rida and more. From Long Island NY “MK” is now making major moves as an indie artist.
Bill Boggs, Sunny Sessa, Will Nunziata, Vincent Pastore, Brian Quinn, Joe Gatto and more.
Though this seemed like being in the room where it happened, ironically major newspapers have not written about this. Inquiring minds want to know why.
The gala was a kick-start a comeback for the Friars, whose membership has slipped from over 500 to less than 300 due to the club’s former executive director convicted of federal tax crimes in 2019.
The club was given a 501C3 according to the news by the club’s dean, lawyer Arthur Aidala,
The club has a new accounting firm, and the main dining room on the ground floor will soon be a Charlie Palmer restaurant open to the public.
How To Dance In Ohio Shows How Broadway Musicals Should Be Done
The show starts as the seven autistic kids, playing the seven autistic kids in the show introduce themselves. They are Desmond Edwards, Amelia Fei, Marc J. Franklin, Madison Kopec, Liam Pearce, Imani Russell, Conor Tague and Ashley Wool. Their enthusiasm, has us and our hearts in the palm of their hands. This new musical How to Dance in Ohio – inspired by Alexandra Shiva’s Peabody Award-winning documentary of the same name is breaking ground, as it opened last night at the Belasco Theatre.
What makes this show remarkable is that the book and lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik, music by Jacob Yandura, choreography by Mayte Natalio and direction by Sammi Cannold are all making their Broadway debuts. These newcomers are showing Broadway how it is done, when it is done well.
How to Dance in Ohio is endearing, heartfelt and shows us how much we all have the desire to connect and need courage to put ourself out into the world. As a group of seven autistic young adults prepare for their first ever formal dance they face challenges that breaks open their routines as they experience love, stress, excitement, and independence. How to Dance in Ohio is a story about people on the cusp of the next phase of their lives, facing down hopes and fears, ready to take a momentous first step…and dance.
Based on actual events, these youngsters are in a support group for autistic young adults in Columbus, Ohio. The group is run by the supportive Dr. Amigo (Caesar Samayoa), who also over steps the boundaries and doesn’t know when to stop pushing. While trying to help his clients make college plans, the doctor decides that the group should plan a spring formal to celebrate their milestones. The idea causes considerable anxiety for these people who for the most part have never even had a date, dressed up or even danced.
The show leads up to this event with each dealing with their own deep seated anxiety and getting over it and expanding their horizons. There’s Drew (a winning Pearce), who is bright and has college’s wanting him, but he’s not ready or willing to live home. He likes the new girl Marideth (Kopec), who is socially withdrawn and retreats into her books that give her facts and a stability. Tommy (Tague), wants his his drivers license, so he can drive his brothers car. Remy (The fabulously funny Edwards), whose gender inclusive costumes he is uploading. Caroline (Fei), has her first boyfriend who is abusive and her friendship with Jessica (Wool), is suffering because of it. Jessica dreams of leaving home, no longer wanting to take the bus and is crushing on Tommy and Mel (Russell), works at a pet store, reads self-help books and wants to get to the next level.
In the meantime the doctor betrays his clients by meddling in Drew’s college plans behind his back and when a newspaper reporter (Melina Kalomas), and a local blogger (Carlos L Encinias) wants the story, it is only his needs that matter. For a doctor, this one is flawed in more ways than one way. He also cares more about his own feeling than that of his daughter Ashley (Cristina Sastre), who has returns home due to a dance injury from Juilliard and is now re-thinking her path.
Another added plot is the mothers (Haven Burton and Darlesia Cearcy) of Caroline and Jessica, are so excited that their autistic daughters are “Getting Ready For The Dance,” and are finally being able to live their lives they way they wished for them.
The score makes Pearce shine with “Waves and Wires” and “Building Momentum.” Edwards also has a chance to take over in “Nothing At All.”
Robert Brill’s set design, Bradley King’s lighting design and Sarafina Bush’s costume’s make this show take flight.
Mayte Natalio’s choreography services the show, after all these are not dancers, nor should they be made to look like it, but it is infectious and joyous. The book is a little overstuffed, but the direction grabs your heart and utilizes these terrific kids who are having the time of their lives. I left loving life and thrilled to be attending.
How To Dance In Ohio: Belasco Theatre, 111 W. 44th Street.
The Glorious Corner
RYAN O’NEAL — For people of a certain age, Ryan O’Nea’sl portrayal of Harvard-preppy Oliver Barreett IV in 1970’s Love Story – who falls for working-class Radcliffe student Jennifer Cavilleri, was emblazoned forever in their minds. O’Neal passed Friday at 82 and left behind a rather tremendous body of work, from Peyton Place on TV, to Love Story; Paper Moon; Barry Lyndon; The Thief Who Came To Dinner; People I Know (with Al Pacino), The Driver; Irreconcilable Differences; Chances Are (with Robert Downey, Jr.) and What’s Up Doc with Barbra Streisand, on the silver screen. His output was somewhat jiggered. but boy, in each of his roles he showed a storied conviction. When I think about his roles right now, everyone reverberated with me. If you don’t believe me, watch Barry Lyndon again! Just superb!
His off-camera role was that of a wild hellion, perhaps most noted by his wooing and subsequent marriage to Farrah Fawcett, then riding her one-season arc on TV’s Charlie’s Angels. Together they had a son Redmond, who endured through his own personal tragedy.
Along with Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Kurt Russell, and Burt Reynolds … O’Neal led the pack of leading men in the 70’s. I will miss him for sure. here’s a great tribute in the U.K.’s Guardian:https://www.theguardian.com/film/2023/dec/08/ryan-oneal-actor-tribute-love-story-paper-moon
HACKETT’S CIRCUS — (Via Prog) Steve Hackett has shared the first new music from his upcoming studio album, The Circus And The Nightwhale, which will be released through InsideOutMusic on February 16. Watch the new video for People Of The Smoke below.
“My new album kicks off with People Of The Smoke, where we’re thrown back in time to the smokescape of 1950 London,” Hackett tells Prog. “A baby’s scream becomes a steam train, black smoke invades everything and industry rules the day. This is the place where the album’s story begins…”
The Circus And The Nightwhale will be the first full-blown Hackett concept album since his 1975 solo debut Voyage Of The Acolyte, which followed Genesis’s 1974 grand double concept affair The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.
“The Circus And The Nightwhale is an album with a difference,” Hackett adds. “This time it is a story, based both literally and metaphorically on my life… It’s both faction and fiction, beginning in a gritty world of harsh reality, spinning off into a colourful and dark, weird metaphorical universe of wonder turned to terror, with an ultimately beautiful resolve.”
The album features Hackett’s touring band as well as a raft of guests including Amanda Lehmann and Big Big Train’s Nick D’Virgilio, Hugo Degenhardt return as guests on the drumstool, Benedict Fenner features on keyboards and Malik Mansurov on tar, with Hackett’s brother John once more on flute.
The Circus And The Nightwhale will be available on several different formats, including a limited edition CD and Blu-ray mediabook (including 5.1 Surround Sound and 24-bit high resolution stereo mixes), standard CD jewelcase, gatefold 180g vinyl LP and as digital album.
Here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_iujNWzPL0
SHORT TAKES — Micky Dolenz on KTLA’s Countdown To 2024New Year’s Eve interviewed by Nikki Novak. Here’s Micky and Nikki. Thanks, Kimberly Cornell, for the photo. Speaking of Dolenz, his “Shiny Happy People” recording remains for a fourth week on the UK’s Official Physical Singles Chart, right behind Coldplay’s Xmas single.
Congrats… Brad LeBeau’s forthcoming Teardrops On The Dancefloor doc will include interviews with David Morales; Hex Hector; Maurice Joshua; Dave Aude; David Morales and Nicky Siano … all classic DJ’s … Kevin Costner and Jewel dating? Seems an odd pairing, but that’s why they do call it Hollyweird! … Great article from Ultimate Classic Rock on the much-missed Denny Laine: https://ultimateclassicrock.com/denny-laine-songs/?fbclid=IwAR0FJFlY5IIHcC6wwStnVQV5Azk2aV_FW2laG0do5E08bBb6aTDlWJ-9V1E … Big news coming from Yorkshire Publishing; currently riding high on the charts with Mark Bego’s Joe Cocker tome …
And: I’m not a huge Mark Maron fan, even though a colleague has been after me for years to listen to him
so I jumped in this week and listened to a podcast with Lou Adler. Lou Adler: Johnny Rivers; Sam Cooke; Monterey Pip; The Roxy; Carole King; ODE Records …a true legend. Maron was good, but seemed somewhat confused when he discussed Monterey and Herb … Alpert that it. Here’s it is: https://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episode-1484-lou-adler
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Sam Rubin; Alison Martino; Tobe Becker; Robert Funaro; Milicient Mifficiendo; Steve Walter; Richard Johnson; Jacqueline Boyd; Peter Abraham; Adrian Niles; Jeremy Long; Joel Diamond; Les Schwartz; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Robert Funaro; Anthony Noto; Adam White; John Weber; Randy Alexander; Jeremy Long; and CHIP!
Countdown to Christmas: A New Musical Song Cycle Well-Behaved Women
15 days to go! Every year people panic to find the perfect gift. We at T2C have been collecting idea’s all year long to bring you the perfect gift guide at all price levels. When you’re at the end of your rope trying to find the perfect Christmas present this year, come to this guide for some great suggestions.
I am always excited to discover a new exciting musical score. Concord Theatricals Recordings has just released a studio cast recording by award-winning composer/lyricist Carmel Dean called Well-Behaved Women.
I fell in love with Dean’s music in 2018, when she made her compositional debut with Renascence, produced by The Transport Company, which I also recommend putting on your theatre and music lovers list. This show won the Off- Broadway Alliance Award for best new musical. At the time Dean was 19
Well-Behaved Women Album Sizzle. View HERE.
This new album features Tony Award®-winning artists and Broadway stars, including Sasha Allen, Laura Benanti, Andréa Burns, Liz Callaway, Jenn Colella, Hannah Corneau, Melissa Rose Hirsch, Dee Hoty, Judy Kaye, LaChanze, Lindsay Mendez, Bonnie Milligan, Lauren Patten, and Pearl Sun, among others.
I am obsessed with “Ladies Of The Press,” featuring Jenn Colella. View HERE.
“Stay And Fight,” featuring Sasha Allen. View HERE.
“We Rise,” featuring the full ensemble. View HERE
This song cycle celebrating historic women who fought to make their voices heard. This powerful album is now available on streaming and digital platforms worldwide. Stream or download the album HERE.]
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Sarah Paulson
Broadway’s newest show Appropriate starring Sarah Paulson, at Second Stage’s Hayes Theatre nearly sold out their first week. The play, written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and co-starring Elle Fanning and Corey Stoll, opens December 18th.
Paulson has received an Emmy, Golden Globe, and SAG Awards in her three-decade career. She made her Broadway debut in 1994 as an understudy in Wendy Wasserstein’s The Sisters Rosensweig. She later took on the role of Tess Goode in the production. She returned to the stage in two other Broadway productions: 2005’s The Glass Menagerie (as Amanda Wingfield) and 2010’s Collected Stories (originating the role of Lisa Morrison). She also appeared in six Off-Broadway productions between 1994 and 2013, including Crimes of the Heart, Still Life,Colder Than Hereat the Lucille Lortel Theatre, Killer Joeat SoHo Playhouse, Talking Picturesat Signature Theatre andthe Pulitzer-nominated Talley’s Folly with Roundabout Theatre Company.
Paulson is perhaps best known for starring in nine seasons of Murphy’s American Horror Story, first appearing on the show in 2011. Her performances collectively earned nine Emmy Award nominations.
In 2023, after 10 years away from the New York stage, Paulson returns to Broadway as Toni in Appropriate, the Broadway-debut play of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins.
A Monstrously Intense Double Bill from Playwright Daniel MacIvor at Factory Theatre Toronto
“Is this what you expected?” asks Henry. “Is this what I’m supposed to do?”
I had no idea what I was walking into, nor did I understand the historical aspects of this double bill of one-person shows that were being staged so magnetically on the two Factory Theatre stages. The significance lies in the contrasting unity and the way the two solo shows changed theatre when they first came into being so many years ago. Daniel MacIvor, a playwright, performer, and filmmaker, fills these two contemporary classics with sparks of phenetic energy, exuding tension and emotional complexities that resonate far beyond the single spotlight, and now, brought to life here at Factory, the gift is full-blown, exacting, and utterly enthralling.
With the 75-minute Monster, the one-man tense wonderment casts us deep into an electric darkness. Its first movement abandons us, forcing us to sink into the tension that bows down before us in the pitch-black void. We sit, wondering, feeling the electric discomfort well up inside, before a voice cuts through the blackness with a “Shhhhh,” “Has it started yet?” It’s a captivating bit of theatrical engagement, forcing a squirm to come compulsively over us, long before the lights come up on the magnificent Karl Ang (Tarragon’s Cockroach) giving us a master class of chaotic exacting intensity.
As directed with a fine eye to precise moments of dark intensity by Soheil Parsa (Factory’s Wildfire), Monster takes us through, around, and about a tale of tension, anger, and obsession where the ending is as fascinatingly unclear as its beginning. It seeps in from the edges with Ang transporting us through a series of characters and formulations that jump in and out of time and its ever-fluid construct. We are invited into a tense quarreling heterosexual couple’s scenario, filled to the electric frayed edges with passive-aggressive violence. It shifts around before us, led by the exacting and determined Ang, forcing us to lean and pay attention from an angle of curiosity and tension.
There is a young boy, meticulously well-embodied, as Ang does with every one of these complex characters, who is at first, fascinated, then obsessed with an impossibly vicious murder that was committed by the weird next-door neighbours down in the darkness of their basement. Ang takes us through the details, as only a young boy would, unflinching in his compulsive engagement with what happened and horrified/entranced with the act itself. We are also thoroughly obsessed, with him and the whole unraveling, wondering where this is all heading, and what it all means.
As written with an exacting purpose by the masterful MacIvor, the narrator of these stories is a wide-open Adam, who speaks directly to the audience. He draws us in, while keeping us nervous and unsure, giving off the impression of impartiality but not completely convincing us that there isn’t something dangerous lurking in the background. His calculated energy is mirrored and enhanced within the theatrical dynamic, brought forth precisely by the fine work of set, props, and lighting designer Trevor Schwellnus (Factory’s Armadillos) with a dynamic sound designed cleverly by Thomas Ryder Payne (Crow’s Bad Roads). The distinct and sharp reverberations are amplified and muffled, shouted in and whispered out. That sonic energy creates a chaotic realm of interactive intensity, with the movements of the expert Ang unleashing a menacing air of tight, muscular, thrilling proportions, never giving us a moment to relax before the ending pushes itself forward.
Karl Ang is detailed and spectacular in this intense unraveling, giving us exacting constructions of various characters, as he stays solidly center-stage in that sharp pool of light. The neon colors and tightness of the pool of light illuminate the darkness with intent, with Ang transforming himself with cutting definition, emphasized even more by the simplistic costuming by Allie Marshall (Factory’s My Granny the Goldfish). The outcome is razor-edged and distinct, elevating the topography effortlessly with a shift of his head, and a look in the eyes. His performance, with the gift of Parsa’s direction, pushes Monster into a completely entrancing and electric realm, exciting our senses and leading us out of the theatre mesmerized.
The overall effect is honed and powerful, and as fresh as I imagine it would have been back in 1998 when it was first performed at the duMaurier World Stage in Toronto. It faulted and stumbled a bit near the end, somehow missing the connective tissues by only a hair, here and there, but the monstrosity of humanity as a whole lingers within, seeping into our senses, and staying with us, deep under our skin, as we make our way out and up to the next MacIvor master class one flight up (and 45-minutes later).
“Cause I’m free, nothing is worrying me.“
Here Lies Henry is as spectacular, but quite the different beast, cut from a similar cloth but a very different fabric. Interestingly, it’s layered with another classic old song. In Monster, MacIvor played with the menacing sweet tendencies of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” but in this other one-person beam of captive energy, Damien Atkins (Soulpepper’s King Lear), the central bright white light of Here Lies Henry, uncomfortably delivers to us the happy “…Sunny Side of the Street” as he moves around the broad main stage of Factory Theatre thrilling us with a very different kind of tense complication.
Timed to perfection, a slice of white light and dramatic cueing delivers a hurried Atkins to us. We feel his vibrating discomfort in every pore of that wide nervous face and expressive body and eyes. Atkins unpacks his character with a very different electricity, created from a place of anxious engagement and discombobulation. He has an overwhelming sense of theatrical flourish, singing and trying with all his might to engage, with hand puppet gesturing and scattered, stilted jokes that fail to find the punchline, as if he is completely desperate to get us on his side, for some unknown reason.
He’s that guy that we all feel for but dislike being corralled by at a party. His intense need to connect fills us with a pushing-away discomfort and anxiety, even as we are drawn into his circular thinking and repetitive entertainments. He tries to tell funny stories, with a setup centered around a salad bar at a vegan convention, but then, his anxiety gets the best of him, unnerved by the idea that he might have offended any vegans in the audience.
“Is this what you expected?” he asks. “Is this what I’m supposed to do?”
He’s an optimist he tells us, and as we internally question that description, he also unpacks another item, that any optimist is also a liar, as there is no way to be one and not the other. He also teases out the idea of a dead body in the other room. He doesn’t tell us who, but we begin to put some of the pieces together. Is the title a reference to his compulsive act of lying or is it a reference to the body that is doing exactly that in the other room? Or maybe it is a bit of both, or a lot of both. He is, in fact, dressed like a corpse caught trying to escape his own funeral and coffin, thanks to some fine work done by wardrobe stylist Allie Marshall. Atkins completely hypnotizes us with his skill, his unwavering talent, and his taxonomy list of lies, one through seven, starting with the clever “just kidding” quip to the highly problematic pathological lie, and ending with the universal one, which is the concept of time, a dynamic framing that gives people hope, something he has little of.
The unmistakable brilliance of the piece is revealed inside Atkins’ skilled portrayal of this desperate man, as he unravels his possible truths before us, pulling at us to enter his domain while keeping us vibrating at arm’s length with his projected anxiety. His mother is a fried egg sandwich, he tells us, and his father is a cigarette pack of specificity. He distracts his vulnerability with some wild dance moves, something that Atkins revels in, and as directed with clarity and comedic brilliance by Tiwiah M’Carthy (Obsidian/Canadian Stage’s Fairview), the personality portrayal is delivered almost perfectly, energized with a nervous self-exposing cycle of existential destructive self-preservation.
Together the two pieces find energy and excitement in their tense unfolding. It’s a master class of one-person acting, directing, and writing, that must be seen and felt to fully understand the power that a one-person show can bring. Don’t miss this electric gift and exciting opportunity, courtesy of Factory Theatre, Toronto. MacIvor’s magnificent Monster and the equally profound Here Lies Henry are just too delicious and disturbing to ignore.
For tickets and information: https://www.factorytheatre.ca/
For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com
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