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Front and Center with Magda Katz

Meet Melissa Li and Kit Yan This Years Kleban Winners For Most Promising Musical Theatre Librettist

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Melissa Li and Kit Yan began as a duo in 2008, by 2013, they began to develop the show Interstate, which tells the story of a queer Asian American band on their first cross-country tour and how they inspire a South Asian trans teen in Kentucky. For this project, they were nominated for 7 NYMF Awards for Excellence and won 5 awards, including Outstanding Lyrics and a Special Citation for Representation & Inclusion.

T2c talked to this talented duo and learned a lot about what’s next!

Li and Yan, just won the Kleban Award for the Most Promising Musical Theatre Librettist. Their musicals Interstate and MISS STEP are what solidified their win. On Sunday they’ll present their digital variety show Unremarkable!, featuring Marc delaCruz, Ruthie Ann Miles, Stephanie Hsu, and more.

Kit a spoken word artist and Melissa a singer-songwriter, believe their work is to bring social justice and LGBTQ awareness! MISS STEP was commissioned by The 5th Avenue Theater’s first draft program and won a 2019 Vivace Award from the Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation. Most recently, they completed a Keen Company Commission. Their work has been supported by The 5th Avenue Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, Weston Playhouse, Goodspeed’s Musicals Johnny Mercer Colony, The Village Theater, Musical Theater Factory, Dixon Place, and many others.

Individually, Li is a recipient of the Jonathan Larson Award, a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow, and a Lincoln Center Theater Writer-in-Residence. Her own musicals include Cancelled and Surviving the Nian.

Yan is the 2019 Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Vivace award winner and together with Li, was named a fellow at the Dramatists Guild Foundation, Playwright’s Center, and Company One/Pao Arts. His solo show Queer Heartache won 5 awards at the Chicago and SF Fringe Festivals. He is a current Playwright’s Center Many Voices Fellow.

The Kleban Foundation which was established in 1988 under the will of Edward L. Kleban, best known as the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricist of the musical A Chorus Line. Kleban’s makes provisions for annual prizes, which gives $100,000, payable over two years.

Video by Magda Katz

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

Magda Katz Takes You To The Wicked Stage at 54 Below

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Christine Pedi, musical theatre comedienne & Sirius XMs On Broadway channel daily presenter hosted and performed and music director and rare music archivist Michael Lavine on the  piano lead an incredible cast of musical theatre folks  performing  in an  unforgettable evening telling ShowBiz tales and singing show biz songs In.


Featuring  Grammy Award nominee Marilyn Maye (“The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” Cabaret) John Bolton (A Christmas StoryAnastasia), Zal Owen (Harmony) and Tony Award® nominee Lee Roy Reams (42nd StreetThe Producers) entertained.

Christine Pedi, Zal Owen

Broadway performers from many of your favorite shows past and present, as well as cabaret’s divas and crooners brought to life iconic characters like Norma Desmond, Harold Hill, Momma Rose, George M. Cohan, Victor and Victoria, one (if not ALL) of The Four Seasons and more. Classics and hidden gems like “The Glamorous Life,” “Life Upon the Wicked Stage,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” and many more from jukebox musicals, backstage shows, the silver screen and the “boob tube,” were performed to exquisite perfection.

Lee Roy Reams

“Everything about it was appealing about this crazy business called “show.”

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Cabaret

Piaf the Show and An Interview With Those Who Knew Her

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Saturday night March 23, 2024 Piaf the Show returned to The Town Hall. The show takes a musical journey through Edith Piaf’s life with some of the songs that Piaf made famous throughout the world.


Attending the concert was Christie Laume. Her brother, Theo Sarapo was Piaf’s last husband. I had the privilege to meet and talk to her.

Nathalie Lermitte

Piaf the Show features Nathalie Lermitte singing the songs of Piaf. She is a major talent. There will never be another Piaf, but Mis Lermitte comes close.

She engaged an enthusiastic audience to join her in some of the well known songs. She is accompanied by outstanding musicians: Benoit Pierron on drums, Frederic Viale on accordion, Philippe Villa on piano and Giliard Lopes ondouble bass.
Backing Ms. Lemitte were unpublished photographs of Edith Piaf. Piaf the Show is a  sweet desert for the eyes and ears.
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Front and Center with Magda Katz

Paper Mill Playhouse’s New Musical Gun & Powder Meets The Press

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The Paper Mill Playhouse production of the new musical Gun & Powder. Inspired by the true story of sisters Mary and Martha Clarke, met the press yesterday.

T2C’s Magda Katz was there to capture the event with musical numbers and interviews.

Ciara Renee and Liisi LaFontaine

Liisi LaFontaine (West End’s Dreamgirls) as Martha Clarke, Ciara Renée (Waitress) as Mary Clarke

Aaron James McKenzie and Jeannette Bayardelle

Jeannette Bayardelle (Girl From the North Country) as Tallulah Clarke, Aaron James McKenzie (A Beautiful Noise) as Elijah, and Hunter Parrish (To Kill a Mockingbird) as Jesse Whitewater.

Completing the cast are: Rickens Anantua, Jisel Soleil Ayon, Reed Campbell, Carrie Compere, Meghan Olivia Corbett, Joann Gilliam, Francesca Granell, Mary Claire King, Malik Shabazz Kitchen, Rayshun LaMarr, Zonya Love, Tiffany Mann, Aaron James McKenzie, Tony Perry,  Adam Roberts, Hank Santos, Christine Shepard, Katie Thompson, Aurelia Williams, Jason SweetTooth Williams

Angelica Cheri and Ross Baum

Featuring a book and lyrics by Angelica Chéri, who is a descendant of the Clarke sisters, and music by Ross Baum, Gun & Powder follows Mary and Martha Clarke, African American twin sisters who take extraordinary measures to settle their mother’s sharecropper debt and save her home in 1893 Texas.

Tiffany Rae-Fisher and Stevie Walker-Webb

Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb, choreographed by Tiffany Rea-Fisher and musical direction is by Austin Cook.

Gun & Powder plays at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milbrook New Jersey April 4-May 5 with an official opening April 14.

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Entertainment

A Weekend At APAP

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APAP stands for Association of Performing Arts Professionals and is the organization for the live performing arts field. APAP is dedicated to developing and supporting a robust performing arts presenting, booking and touring industry and the professionals who work within it. Each January industry professionals attend  the conference at the New York Hilton Midtown—and performing arts showcases throughout New York City.

APAP|NYC gives new and established touring artists and groups the chance to perform their work directly in front of the “presenters” from the United States and around the world. Presenters travel to New York to attend APAP|NYC 2024 and to make commitments and solidify their performance calendars for the next few years.

While attending APAP I caught the following showcases with renowned pianist/singer Billy Stritch and award- winning jazz vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli as they presented “Mel & Ella Swing!”, a spirited celebration of two legendary artists through beloved classics and swinging standards. I also caught TAKE3, a group that seamlessly merges hits from Elvis and the Beatles to Bach and Beethoven, TAKE3 brings guitar and drums, while performing their favorites by Elvis, Neil Diamond, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Leonard Cohen. Jumaane Smith is an acclaimed trumpeter and vocalist who performed selections from “Louis! Louis! Louis!”, celebrating the origins of jump blues & jazz with classics from Louis Armstrong, Prima & Jordan; and Sweet Baby! Blues, funk, jazz, boogaloo & New Orleans style street beats prevailed. The last show I watched was Glory Crampton and Three Tenor take the stage with the Worlds most beloved Songs. Platinum winner for “Best Performance” and Gold Winner for “Best Concert” LIT Music Awards. Classical Crossover/Broadway & Pop. Nessun Dorma, Skyfall, Never Enough from The Greatest Showman and more!

Next I interviewed Stephen Sunderlin from the Vital Theatre Company, vocalist Jenna Esposito, vocalist and producer Quinn Lemley, Karen from Don Casino Productions, Sandy Hackett, Lisa Don Miller, Vitaly and Heather Masse.

APAP showcased some of the best in the business.

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Events

New Jersey Hall of Fame Class of 2023: David Chase, The Sopranos Cast, Tiki Barber and Sue Wicks

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“Sopranos” creator David Chase, was inducted into the 2023 New Jersey Hall of Fame with cast members from the hit HBO series including Al Sapienza (Mikey Palmice), Aida Turturro (Janice Soprano), Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano), Federico Castelluccio (Furio Giunta), Vincent Curatola (Johnny Sack) and Jeffrey Marchetti (Peter “Bissell” LaRosa) there to celebrate him.

T2C talked to Mr. Chase and then captured Steven Van Zandt introducing him and Mr. Chase’s acceptance speech.

But before that interviews with the cast of The Sopranos, Tiki Barber, Sue Wicks and finally a picture with the cast of The Sopranos.

Video’s by Magda Katz

 

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