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Meet the Cast of Benny & Joon: Hannah Elless is the Perfect Joon

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Back in 2016 I fell in love with the adorable and winning Benny & Joon, book by Kirsten Guenther (Little Miss Fix-it), music by Nolan Gasser (Pandora) and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein (Little Women on Broadway).

Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Hannah Elless is a Michigan-native best known for her portrayal of Margo Crawford in the Broadway musical Bright Star, a role she originated in productions of the play at both the Old Globe and Kennedy Center. She made her Broadway debut in a show called Godspell. Elles has worked on her own album as a singer and songwriter. She is a multi-instrumentalist as well who can play the mandolin, ukulele, accordion, dulcimer, piano, harmonica, drums, guitar, banjo and autoharp.

Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Benny & Joon is based on the MGM movie Benny (Claybourne Elder) has taken care of his psychologically troubled sister Joon (Hannah Elless) since their parents died over a decade ago. Benny now in his early 30s, and Joon in her early 20s, but, ten years on, not much has changed. A mechanic with his own garage, Benny feels he is a master at managing the life they’ve ended up with. But when they take in a strange young man named Sam (Bryce Pinkham), who is like a modern Buster Keaton, everything changes. 

Bryce Pinkham, Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Jack Cummings III directs. The cast also includes Conor Ryan (Sam at certain performances), Belinda Allyn, Colin Hanlon, Tatiana Wechsler, Paulo Montalban, Jacob Keith Watson and Natalie Toro. 

Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

Benny and Joon starts previews April 4th and opens April 14th at the Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Milburn NJ

Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Bryce Pinkham, Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Bryce Pinkham, Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Hannah Elless, Claybourne Elder Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Hannah Elless, Claybourne Elder Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Bryce Pinkham, Hannah Elless Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy
Hannah Elless, Bryce Pinkham Photo by Genevieve Rafter Keddy

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

Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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Kjersti Long (David Kaptein)

G.H. Harding

GO LONG —- We’ve spoken before of 17-year-old Kjersti Long – on Origin Entertainment/ModSquad (ADA) Records. Her latest single “Sad Song” has become a digital-hit and a new album (her second) is in the works.

She’ll also be in NYC for June’s Tribeca Festival and a prominent agency is stepping up to rep her and her play Relative Space is prepping for an opening in the West End.

Said NEW HD’s Zach Martin: “Kjersti Long, at just 17, stands as a beacon of talent and ambition in the music industry. Her journey from a prodigious debut at the tender age of 11 with the album “Stronger Than You Think I Am” on Broadway Records to becoming a significant influencer on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, Kjersti’s career trajectory is nothing short of remarkable​​. Her engagement with her fans and the music community through platforms like Instagram and TikTok, where she has garnered over 50 million views and more than 160,000 new followers, underscores her magnetic appeal and the resonant connection she forges through her music​​.”

She also has a song on the new Vanessa Williams album, “Legs.” Williams’ official video will be out April 26, but here’s an update on her from LifeMinute TV:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD-Okb_T8CM

www.kjerstilong.com


RASCAL-ING AROUND —
(Via Forgotten Hits) Look for a new Rascals box set coming out May 31st.

The 7-disc set encompasses their entire recorded output with Atlantic Records, 1965 – 1971, including mono and stereo copies of their albums, special singles mixes and some previously unreleased tracks.  (I remember shelling out big bucks for an earlier CD edition of this set … but I’ve gotta tell you, this one has got the COOLEST looking cover!!!).

“The Rascals:  It’s Wonderful: The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings features 152 remastered songs, including 14 previously unreleased tracks. The first four albums are presented in both stereo and mono, along with significant single edits and foreign language versions. The collection includes a 60-page booklet with detailed notes and rare illustrations from The Rascals archives.

Amazon’s got it for $69.99 (I paid 2 ½ times that much way back when for the original!) so pre-order now.  This is quite the collection!

Interesting that this box set is from the UK-based Cherry Red Records. Founded by Iain McNay in 1978, Cherry Red Records has continued to uphold the same fiercely independent values since day one. Check them out here: https://www.cherryred.co.uk/about

And don’t forget about Felix Cavaliere and Gene Cornish and The Rascals at SONY Hall on May 17.

https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Atlantic-Recordings-Rascals/dp/B0CZ3NHLGG?crid=3S8UG8TZCIC3M&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.fcz-QxVsrVNGCoS-EbSPkg.htVhtZLFLUN8n9NrR1H-6rJi5fsjLvQexjIPS6c2Ges&dib_tag=se&keywords=B0CZ3NHLGG&qid=1712320481&s=music&

Micky Dolenz at Troubadour (Stevo Rood)

SHORT TAKES — Check out Tone Scott’s review of Micky Dolenz at LA’s Troubadour in Goldmine: https://www.goldminemag.com/columns/micky-dolenz-songs-and-stories-raises-the-roof-off-the-troubadour-all-for-make-a-wish#gid=ci02dac725a00025c5&pid=thumbnail-3

RIP Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford Coppola at 87. Years ago, I was at a screening of Roman Coppola’s A Glimpse Inside the Mind Of Charles Swan with Charlie Sheen. I loved the movie and at a post-screening event, I met Francis Ford Coppola, who could not have been more approachable.

He invited me to sit at his table with his wife Eleanor. Both were terrific. She’ll be much-missed by the film community as well. From Deadline: https://deadline.com/2024/04/eleanor-coppola-dead-hearts-of-darkness-francis-coppola-wife-1235883537/Happy Bday Brit Brashear.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Melinda Newman; Barry Fisch; Toby Rasmussen; Roy Trakin; Joel Diamond; Fred Armisen; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Richie Kaczor; Jim Burgess; Tom Scott; Steve Walter; Dan Zelinski; Herb Alpert; Hubert Laws; Eppy; Craig Newman; Jane Blunkell; John Billings; Lora Evans; Andrew Sandoval; Chris Carter; Wen Fernandez; and ZIGGY!

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Broadway

Patti LuPone Returns to Broadway and The Big Screen

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Three-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone, who gave up her Equity card in 2022, will star opposite Mia Farrow in Jen Silverman’s new play, The Roommate. The production will be directed by Jack O’Brien and will begin previews at the Booth Theatre in August ahead of a September opening.

The Roommate tells the story of Sharon, in her mid-fifties, who is recently divorced and needs a roommate to share her Iowa home. Robyn, also in her mid-fifties, needs a place to hide and a chance to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover Robyn’s secrets, they encourage her own deep-seated desire to transform her life completely. A dark comedy about what it takes to re-route your life – and what happens when the wheels come off.

The Roommate premiered at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville in March 2015, and has had several regional productions including at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2017.

Ms. LuPone will star in the upcoming Marvel series, WandaVision spinoff series Agatha: Coven of Chaos. She’s in a coven of witches, playing Lilia Calderu, who is hot, with a great body and hair. Calderu, first appeared in Marvel comics in 1973 as a 450-year-old Sicilian witch whose power is divination and whose trial is tarot. The other witches are Kathryn Hahn, Aubrey Plaza, and a familiar who is played by Joe Locke. Locke, is currently on Broadway in Sweeney Todd.

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David Kramer Presents Jimi Hendrix – The Documentary/ The Review

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by John Muller ( Blue Notes and Conversations)

 “There’s so much misinformation out there in movies, documentaries and the internet, it’s as if there’s a deliberate campaign of disinformation to mislead in an attempt to rewrite history” says David Kramer. “The Hendrix-story has taken on urban myth-like proportions – stories abound that many people believe to be true but largely are not.”

I had the good fortune of seeing Emmy-Award winner David Kramer’s truly remarkable “Jimi Hendrix – The Documentary” at the Nyack International Film Festival. Hard for me to believe that the sensational 2-hour film that we were able to view is part of a much larger, even more extensive 12-plus hour, multi-part series covering the life and times of Jimi Hendrix. This is unauthorized, and that point was made by David at the screening on Saturday night, the Hendrix Estate legally trying to suppress the entire series, so far, thankfully unsuccessfully. It is a truly incredible slice of history, an amazing look into the life of Jimi Hendrix, without the hype and the canonization, without the beatification, leaving the legend behind so we get a deeper and closer look at the man himself. No bullshit – just the truth from those who knew him, performed with him, and were close to him.

Kramer has spent the last 30 years, with a small team, pulling together, unearthing, discovering hours of unseen Jimi Hendrix footage, well over 400 on-camera interviews, music clips and celebrating Jimi Hendrix – his joy, his humor, the tragedy, the mystery and all that surrounded Jim’s life and music.

I was fascinated by the segments presented on the screen, details many of which were unknown to me, a Jimi fan for decades. From the days when the Isley brothers auditioned an up and coming guitar player in the early 1960’s he already had quite a reputation for his unorthodox style of guitar work – left handed and upside down – onto the times Jimi spent living with the Isley Family in Teaneck, New Jersey; his performance at the Paterson Armory that had fellow musicians thunderstruck and amazed and the fans crazed with delight; his early days performing, including  a date with the Isley’s in West Nyack, New York at a battle-of-the-bands held outside on a flatbed truck. Those acid-dripping and alcohol-fueled performances at the legendary nightclub: The Scene, located in the basement of 301 West 46th Street where bands like The Animals, the Who, Young Rascals, Fleetwood Mac, Jeff Beck, Traffic, Muddy Waters, The Lovin’ Spoonful, and Led Zeppelin, all performed nightly where jam sessions always followed. Jimi regularly jamming into the wee hours of the morning with folks like Janis Joplin, Stephen Stills, Jim Morrison. On one particularly wild night Morrison was deep into drugs and alcohol, his performance with Jimi incoherent as Morrison screamed into the mic, going so far as to try to sexually seduce Jimi on stage with bouncers dragging him out of the club, as Morrison continuing to howl like a banshee on the mic as he was dragged outside.

Hendrix jamming with anyone, Johhny Winter among so many others mentioned in the film, and everyone who was lucky enough to make it inside the cramped and packed basement club on any given night of the week. Seemed like everyone wanted to outperform Jimi up on that dimly lit stage – and both the interview with, and video of Larry Coryell and Hendrix really illuminates the rivalry that many felt. The interviews with musicians who were there, those who performed with Hendrix, managers, friends and musicians, give a real keen insight into the real-life Jimi Hendrix, tossing aside the myths and the halo. He was a quiet, unassuming guy, who loved to perform, thrilled to play his guitar and have fun on that small basement stage, drinking his red wine, blending into the crazy scene of hangers-ons, groupies, friends, musicians, managers, cultural icons and lovers.

Sitting there watching the documentary I was transfixed by the interviews, by the footage and details from the “Isle of Wight” concert, the mysterious gentlemen who surrounded Jimi just before he was found dead in London, the reminiscences that were carefully compiled, interviews that came straight from the heart from so many who knew Jimi, performed with him, hung out with him, slept with him, and deeply cared about him – and many who were very worried about so many strange events that were part of Jimi’s life towards the end of his life.  The details about “The Monkees Party ” where Jimi was rescued by John Sebastian, a good friend, the infamous opening night party held at Electric Lady Studios where Japanese food was served spiked with acid unbeknownst to many, an event few remember, but those who do, say it was quite a trip!

As I sat there watching the film I could hear yells and cheers, cries from the audience as folks like Ginger Baker, Todd Rundgren, Jorma Kaukonen and Stephen Stills, to name but a few and many regional musicians from the New York area who were interviewed known to the audience as some were in attendance on Saturday night.

David Kramer Presents: Jimi Hendrix-The Documentary is a fascinating film, a project filled with enormous amounts of love and respect, dedication and perseverance. We get to see another side of Hendrix, stripping away the facade, hacking apart the legend, breaking down the walls of historical inaccuracies and legendary misinformation.

Jimi was a performer, a musician with other-worldly talent, who enjoyed playing the guitar, hanging out with friends, loved his women and up to a certain point in his life, was really enjoying himself as a regular person. We are welcomed into a world of intrigue, mistrust, free love, psychedelic-drug fueled jam sessions, explosive stage performances, explosive tirades, mafia influences, complete meltdowns, unbelievable guitar pyrotechnics and electrifying stage theatrics from a guy named James Marshal “Jimi” Hendrix.

A must-see for music fans worldwide. Seek this movie out immediately! I was captivated, mesmerized, and thoroughly entranced by the 2-hours that passed by as magically as the notes from “Purple Haze.” Outstanding achievement!

Rock guitarist, singer, composer, bandleader Jimi was gone by September 18, 1970 at the young age of 27.  He certainly lived a remarkable life.  Thanks so much David Kramer for giving us a chance to know Jimi a little bit better as a person, as a gifted and somewhat troubled human being, seeing him warts and all for the first time, a journey that was certainly worth the wait. What a trip!

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Broadway

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Pascale Roger-McKeever and Tony Award nominee Austin Pendleton

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“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents”, is  filmed live every Wednesday from 5 – 6 in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. This particular episode was filmed in two parts at different times due to the weather and extenuating circumstances.

 

In this episode T2C’s publisher and owner Suzanna Bowling talks with Pascale Roger-McKeever and Tony Award nominee Austin Pendleton.
We are so proud because the show and our guests are now featured on the TV screens in the lobby and the hotel rooms.

Austin Pendleton, Suzanna Bowling

Suzanna Bowling, Pascale Roger-McKeever

I am so grateful to my guests Pascale Roger-McKeever and Austin Pendleton. for joining me.

Austin Pendleton, Rommel Gopez, Suzanna Bowling

Rommel Gopez, Suzanna Bowling, Pascale Roger-McKeever

Thank-you Magda Katz for videoing and creating the content to go live, the audience who showed up to support us, Rommel Gopez and The Hotel Edison for their kindness and hospitality.

Austin Pendleton

Suzanna Bowling, Pascale Roger-McKeever, Craig J Horsley

Suzanna Bowling

Pascale Roger-McKeever will be starring in Fingers and Spoons directed by Tony Award nominee Austin Pendleton. Soho Playhouse 15 Vandam Street. starting on April 25th.

Roger Sichel, Austin Pendleton, Rommel Gopez, Suzanna Bowling

You can catch us on the following platforms:

Pandora:

https://www.pandora.com/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/PC:1001084740

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/1084740

Spotify:

Amazon:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e3ac5922-ada8-4868-b531-12d06e0576d3

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/id1731059092

We hope to see you there on April 17th. We will be announcing our guests tonight.

All photo’s except for the picture with Roger are by Roger Sichel.

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Celebrity

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

OJ DOA — Perhaps the Drudge Report (yes, the Drudge Report) had the most fitting headline: Cancer Murders OJ.

Yesterday’s news came as a huge surprise at 11:00 AM. For me, firstly, I couldn’t quite believe it was almost 30 years since that trial. When the verdict came in, I was at The Conservatory restaurant in the long-gone, much missed Mayflower Hotel. It was packed and when the verdict was announced there was a minute or two of dead-silence, then gasps. One of the most surreal moments I’ve ever experienced.

I wasn’t a huge sports fan -never have been- but I knew a lot about OJ. Face it, he was an icon And when the murders happened; the Bronco-chase; and trial … it was just extraordinary. His rise and fall was an amazing tale. It was also a major story for all the entertainment outlets. Journalists essentially moved to LA for the 9-month trial. It was, to my mind, the first trial of its kind.

CNN showed some of the reactions from then: then audience reaction at the Oprah Winfrey show was a mixed bag. Some cheered as Winfrey stood stone-faced. The reaction of OJ’s lawyers were interesting too; Robert Khardashian looked shell-shocked, while Cochran and Robert Shapiro  hugged OJ.

As Wolf Bltizer just said: these are moments one will never forget.

We think we know what happened … but now, we’ll never know for sure. An american tragedy for sure.

YES Photo by Gottlieb Bros

YES’ PURPLE — (via Ultimate Classic Rock) Deep Purple and Yes will team up for a North American summer tour.

The trek begins on Aug. 14 in Hollywood, Florida, and concludes on Sept. 8 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday.

Deep Purple is in the midst of their 1 More Time tour and simultaneously celebrating 50 years of “Smoke on the Water” (52 years now, to be exact). The band recently released a super deluxe edition of its landmark album Machine Head, which includes classics such as “Smoke on the Water,” “Highway Star” and “Space Truckin’.”

Yes, meanwhile, will deliver a career-spanning set comprising material through their latest album, 2023’s Mirror to the Sky. The prog legends are also releasing an expanded anniversary box set of their 1994 album Talk next month.

52 years of “Smoke On The Water.” A classic if there ever was one. Every time I hear it on the radio, I start singing along. Talk about staying power! I saw Yes years ago and it was quite the show; with Chris Squire too.

There are a slew of legacy artists out for the summer and deservedly so. They may not generate the ink of a Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez, but their impact is still there.

Hubert Laws

SHORT TAKES — CTI Records. Remember them? It was producer Creed Taylor’s boutique label which released some of the most dynamic and interesting jazz-records in the 70’s and 80’s (SONY owns them now). From Airto to Milt Jackson; Deodato; Bob James; Jim Hall and Hubert Laws, the music was just terrific. Originally distributed by Herb Alpert’s A&M Records, they went independent and continued with some of the best jazz recordings ever. Even before you listened to the music, all the albums had a deluxe-cover; with some startling images. Check this piece out about their album covers from Medium: https://medium.com/@slishpogodi/cti-records-the-best-album-covers-cdac2e16c534 … 50 years of People Magazine. Rumors spread last year that the weekly was on its last legs.

Mia Farrow

Their first issue was in 1974 with Mia Farrow on the cover …

David Kramer

Director David Kramer won for ‘Best Documentary’ at last week’s NYFF event for his Jimi Hendrix: The Documentary. Congratulations

Coopstock

Coopstock is this weekend in Mesa, Arizona. Guests include Micky Dolenz; REO’s Kevin Cronin; Orianthi; Patrick Warburton; and of course, Alice Cooper himself … Hard to believe that director Todd Phillips, who directed The Hangover, did the first Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix. It was just startling in every way and now the follow-up is about to come out with Phoenix and Lady Gaga; introduced as Harley Quinn. One trade already termed it a jukebox musical. Stylish for sure it looks just sensational and is one of the best trailers I’ve seen in quite some time. Here’s it is: https://variety.com/2024/film/news/joker-2-trailer-joaquin-phoenix-lady-gaga-1235957692/
… Here’s the trailer of Disney+’s Beach Boys doc.  Directed by Frank Marshall and Thom Zimny – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Rspu3Xoi4 …  And, this week’s New York Magazine cover heralds the history of NYC through its restaurants. I was ready to see Tortilla Flats; La Cote Basque; Schraffts; Mortimers; Trader Vic’s; and Fontana Di Trevi. Turns out, it’s memories from people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who worked at The Coffee Shop and Keith McNally, who shucked oysters at One Fifth. Honestly, I expected a bit more depth. Great idea; lousy execution.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Toni Basil; Mark Bego; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Mitch Dolan; Barry Nolan; Robert Lamm; Jacqueline Boyd; Wayne Avers; Tyorne Biljan; Michelle Toscas; Fred Zarr; Abbe Rosenfeld; Shep Pettibone; Tony Darrow; Robert Funaro; Angel Mastrogiorgio; Ellen Smith; Howard Bloom; Jane Berk; Jack Cunningham; and CHIP.

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