Meet the Cast of Benny & Joon: Hannah Elless is the Perfect Joon
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 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.
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.
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.
Benny and Joon starts previews April 4th and opens April 14th at the Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Milburn NJ
The Glorious Corner
TODD’S AWATS — (from World Cafe) Fifty years ago, Todd Rundgren released his album A Wizard, a True Star, and it sounded like nothing else. World Cafe correspondent John Morrison says Rundgren was pushing boundaries, both in the technical creation of the music but also on a higher level. “Really, the entire approach to sound in this record is exploration of the mind, the spirit, the nature of sound itself,” Morrison says. “Like, the whole album is a trip.” In this session, Morrison takes us on a journey through Rundgren’s A Wizard, a True Star, exploring what the album meant when it came out and how its influence continues to reverberate.
Currently he’s touring with Daryl Hall and there’s a bunch of sessions with Hall that are on Daryl’s House. The way their two voices blend is simply amazing. One of my all-time favorite albums is War Babies, from Hall & Oates in 1974. Just amazing songs and the production, courtesy of Todd, is equally compelling. Stunning!
SHORT TAKES — Joe Pantoliano (Joey Pants) is essaying Morris Levy in the forthcoming play Rock & Roll Man about Alan Freed. Freed is played by Constantine Maroulis. Also coming is the movie Spinning Gold; the story of record exec-Neil Bogart. Both should be something to see … Am reading and reading nothing but rave reviews of Sunday’s Succession on HBO; the first of ten episodes which will wrap up the story. In all the reviews, the writing emerges the star. Jesse Armstrong, a genius for sure. Can’t wait. Check out Roger Friedman’s take from his Showbiz 411: https://www.showbiz411.com/2023/03/22/succession-returns-for-finale-season-sit-down-have-a-drink-or-two-its-intense-as-ever … 79 year old Top Gun: Maverick producer Jerry Bruckheimer: “Don Simpson (Bruckheimer’s late-producing partner) used to say we’re in the transportation business: we transport you from one place to another” …
Terrific Accused episode this week, starring Jason Ritter in Jack’s Story. Jason, John Ritter’s son was just excellent; the show was just renewed by Fox … Steve Miller, out on the road, has some interesting openers for his upcoming tour: Dave Mason and Joe Bonamassa. Mason’s book (Only You Know and I Know) is out in May … Dennis Scott hosted a special invitation-only Happy Birthday, Mister Rogers event in Nashville for media, TV, radio and music industry professionals, with support from ASCAP, this past Monday.
The event featured special musical performances given by country singer-songwriter Teea Goans, singer-songwriter & guitar virtuoso Parker Hastings, who put a Chet Atkins-like spin on the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood theme song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” and studio vocalist Gary Janney. Here’s the cake prepared for the event … Happy Bday William Shatner ; Chaka Khan; Reese Witherspoon; and Anthony Pomes!
Cabaret, Talks and Concerts For April
Spring, makes us gather as much sun as possible, but it also brings rain and it’s time to hop inside and catch your favorite performer. Here are our picks for April.
92 Street Y: 1395 Lexington Ave. 4/11: Apple TV+’s The Last Thing He Told Me: Jennifer Garner and Laura Dave; 4/19: Al Pacino in Conversation with David Rubenstein (In-Person); 4/30: Celebrating Balanchine: A Screening, Book Reading, Conversation and Performance with Director Connie Hochman, Heather Watts, Jennifer Homans, Tiler Peck, Unity Phelan, and Calvin Royal III Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of George Balanchine’s Death (In-Person)
Birdland Jazz: 315 West 44 St. Every Monday at 9:30pm Jim Caruso’s Cast Party; Every Tuesday at 8:30pm The Lineup with Susie Mosher; Every Saturday at 7pm Eric Comstock with Sean Smith (Bass) & special guest Barbara Fasano (Voice); 4/1: Eliane Elias; 4/3: Susie Mosher & John Boswell in CASHINO; 4/17: Anita Gillette & Penny Fuller: “Sin Twisters: The Next Frontier”; 4/17: Sean McDermott & Cassidy Place; 4/21 – 22: Tony DeSare; 4/24: Karen Akers and 4/25 – 29: John Pizzarelli Album Release
Cafe Carlyle: 35 E 76th St. 4/1: John Lloyd Young; 4/3: Seth Rudetsky; 4/5 -15; Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro; 18- 19 Christine Andreas; 4/20-21; John Brancy and Peter Dugan; 4/22; Richard Tognetti, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra and 4/25-29 Candace Bushnell.
Carnegie Hall: 881 7th Ave at 57th St.
Chelsea Table + Stage: Hilton Fashion District Hotel, 152 W 26th St. 4/14: Marieann Meringolo and 4/17: The Skivvies.
Don’t Tell Mama: 343 W. 46 St. 4/ 21: Tanya Moberly and 4/28: Ricky Ritzel’s Broadway!
Dizzys Club Coca Cola: Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street. 4/21 -22: Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour
The DJango: 2 Avenue of the Americas. 4/9: Gabrielle Stravelli
54 Below: 254 West 54 St. 4/1: Jennifer Simard: Can I Get Your Number?; 4/1: Bianca Marroquín; 4/4: LIVESTREAM | The Tom Kitt Band; 4/7, 11, 15: Linda Eder; 4/12-14: Kate Baldwin & Aaron Lazar: All For You; 4/21-22: LIVESTREAM | Seth Sikes & Nicolas King with Billy Stritch and 4/29: Darius de Haas: Maisel and More!
The Green Room 42: 570 10th Ave. 4/2: Melissa Errico; 4/13, 15: Sharon McKnight and 4/23: Reeve Carney
Sony Hall: 235 W. 46th St. 1/15:
The Town Hall: 123 West 43rd Street. 4/23: Mariza
The Glorious Corner
WOODSTOCK COVER STARS — (Via Best Classic Bands) — Bobbi Ercoline’s name may not be familiar to most, but millions own her photograph: Bobbi, whose last name at the time was Kelly, and her then-boyfriend, Nick Ercoline, were huddled together under a quilt at the 1969 Woodstock festival when photographer Burk Uzzle snapped their picture. The couple, both then 20, were unaware that their photo had even been taken until several months later, when the three-LP Woodstock soundtrack album was released. They were among friends when they first realized the couple on the album cover was them.
“We were passing the jacket around when someone pointed out the staff with the orange and yellow butterfly,” Nick told AARP in 2019 for the organization’s magazine. “That belonged to Herbie, a guy from Huntington Beach, Calif. He was lost and having a bad trip, and we hooked arms with him until he was clear-headed. Then we saw the blanket. Oh my lord, that’s us!”
Bobbi and Nick only lasted one night at Woodstock, and never even got near the stage. They had given it their all trying to get to the festival, ditching their car when traffic became snarled and walking the final two miles. They spent most of their single day there on the hillside where the famous photo was taken.
Two years later, in 1971, they married. They remained together until Bobbi Ercoline’s death Saturday (March 18, 2023).
Nick posted the news on Facebook: “It’s with beyond great sadness that I tell my FB family and friends, that after 54 years of life together, of the death of my beautiful wife, Bobbi, last night surrounded by her family. She lived her life well, and left this world in a much better place. If you knew her, you loved her. She lived by her saying, ‘Be kind.’ As a School Nurse she always championed the kids … ALWAYS! As a person, she always gave. ‘How much do you really need if you have all you need or want?’ So she gave and gave and gave. She didn’t deserve this past year’s nightmare, but she isn’t suffering from the physical pain anymore and that brings some comfort to us.”
We’ve spoken much over the years about how that Woodstock event was so cataclysmic – culturally; musically; and certainly philosophically. Elliot Tiber wrote beautifully about it in his first book Taking Woodstock – a classic if you’ve never read it.
They tried to re-create it in 1994 and though it was good, it just didn’t have that magical flavor of the first one. I wasn’t at either, but as you can imagine, music from that 1969 concert still lives passionately today. I was, however, at Live Aid and that was my Woodstock for sure.
Not to get too poetic, but I came across a great quote yesterday: It’s worth being older now, to have been young then.
SHORT TAKES — Derek & The Dominoes Bobby Whitlock on Jim Gordon: “Carl Radle and Jim Gordon … Didn’t get any better than that. The only other alternative [for Derek and the Dominoes] was Jim Keltner. And that’s who should have been the guy and who was supposed to be the guy. But it didn’t turn out that way. He was busy. The rhythm section of Carl and Jim propelled the songs we put together. Jim Gordon is the most musical drummer I ever heard. All of the drums were in tune. literally tuned to a key on the piano. Big kit. But Jim had this wonderful ability to interpret the nuances you could feel but not hear. Carl was solid as a rock. A downbeat player and right on it. So, we have Carl who is solid and down and Jim who is up and on it. So, it was perpetual motion” …
Do you remember “Vehicle” by The Idea of March back in 1970? It became the fastest-selling single in Warner Brothers history. A little-known fact is that 14 seconds of the completed master of “Vehicle” was accidentally erased in the recording studio, (primarily the guitar solo), and the missing section was spliced in from a previously discarded take. The song reached #2 in Billboard, and #1 in Cashbox. The album “Vehicle” reached #55 nationally … Dolly Parton sings with Elton John on “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” on her forthcoming rock ‘n roll album. I bet it’ll sound great, but how many covers of that song has there been? Maybe they should have picked a John/Taupin deep-cut like “Come Down In Time” or “Amoreena.” Just saying … Does the phrase DLYZECOMKIN mean anything to you?
Believe it or not, in one of those crazy-jumble games online, the phrase translates into Micky Dolenz. Crazy, right? See for yourself: https://invasion24.com/2023/03/19/daily-jumble-puzzle-answers-march-19-2023/
… Speaking of Dolenz, he departs Thursday on a Flower Power Cruise; then starts his Headquarters-tour on April 1 in Orlando …
Charles F. Rosenay does the Zach Martin Big Fat American Podcast next week, for his new release, The Book of Top 10 Beatles Lists (KIWI Publishing) … HAPPY BDAY Gia Ramsey!
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Carol Geiser; Bob Meyerowitz; eYada; Andy Rosen; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Paul Haig; Terry Jastrow; Anthony Pomes; Mark Bego; Charles F. Rosenay; Bill Graham; Kip Cohen; Heather Moore; Charley Crespo; [Robert Miller; John Luongo; LIME; Carl Strube; Jen Ramos; and CHIP!
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