Happy New Year! I hope you are doing great and that your holiday season was filled with joy and love. I am producing a play reading of Mark Roberts’ new play Living the Dream in NYC on January 19th and would love you to come! Please see the attached invitation for times and location, and excerpts from the press release below.
Living the Dream
Laugh out loud funny!
On the heels of his smash hit television series, Mike & Molly, and successful productions of his plays New Country, Rantoul and Die, and Parasite Drag, Mark Roberts unleashes his latest razor-sharp comedy Living the Dream for two special not-to-be-missed staged readings before it moves to Off Broadway next year.
Living the Dream follows a day and night in the life of Dale and Louie – two retirees who have known each other all their lives. Now most days are spent perched in Dale’s driveway, waxing nostalgic about their glory years or shaking their heads in disgust at the stupidity and ambiguity of anything or anybody under forty. As they desperately cling to “all the old songs” and the other familiar symbols of their youth, the world outside shows them that the times really are changing and this is no longer the America they thought they knew.
“This play was originally about two lifelong friends getting older and facing retirement,” says Roberts. “But then our country exploded and splintered into a million finger-pointing factions and like everyone else I’m just trying to pick through the rubble and piece together some semblance of a nation I once cared about. And I’m trying to do it with compassion instead of blame. And that’s the challenge. It’s easy to rant and rave at the obvious villains in life. To pile on and make a meal out of an insecure, stupid person for saying and doing insecure and stupid things. That’s easy. What’s not easy is looking that person in the eye and trying to understand them for who they are and not who we wish them to be. And hopefully that’s what this play touches on. I like little stories that raise big questions. I don’t have answers. But I have a lot of questions. And I made the play funny because I’ve always believed that laughter helps a lot.”
“Living the Dream urges us to act and to respond to the world around us,” says director Matthew Penn. “While we may find ourselves laughing outright at the original humor of the play and the circumstances its characters discover themselves in, we also find ourselves wondering if our own lives are being lived in the fullest way. Should we all be doing more to move the world in a better direction? That Mark has raised such serious and compelling questions with tremendous humor and style is a credit to his significant talent as a writer. I’m excited to work with Mark and this terrific group of actors and artists on this project, and look forward to bringing this original play to life.”
Roberts began his career as a stand-up comedian in the early eighties, appearing several times on The Tonight Show and on comedy specials on Fox, Showtime and HBO. Those appearances landed him acting gigs on such iconic sitcoms as Seinfeld, Friends and The Larry Sanders Show, to name a few. He was eventually cast as a series regular on The Naked Truth starring Tea Leoni. Meanwhile Roberts was writing stage plays, one of which caught the attention of producer Chuck Lorre, which turned into a seven year stint as the head writer of Two And A Half Men, Executive-Consultant on The Big Bang Theory and creator, Executive-Producer and occasional director of Mike and Molly. Mark’s stage plays, which include Parasite Drag, Rantoul And Die, Where The Great Ones Run and New Country are published by Dramatists Play Service and are performed around the country and as far away as Stockholm Sweden. His New York Times Critics Pick New Country ran Off-Broadway and was named as one of the best new plays of 2015. Roberts currently resides in Brooklyn, New York and is developing several projects for stage, film and television.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Remembering Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd
On Sunday look for a brand new charcuterie of Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford in Sweeney Todd.. I loved the new production, and it’s two leads.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Chicago
John Kander & Fred Ebb / Bob Fosse musical Chicago is now the longest running show playing on Broadway. Having played 10,338 performances, Chicago is the Tony Award-winning, record-breaking hit musical playing at the Ambassador Theatre, 219 W. 49th St., NYC.
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Happy Birthday Richard Jay-Alexander
Yesterday was my good friend Richard Jay-Alexander’s birthday and I presented him with his own personal caricature. Fo those who do not know Richard J is an Broadway producer and director. He served as Executive Director of the New York City office of producer Cameron Mackintosh for twelve years, known for productions including Les Misérables, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Oliver! and Putting It Together.
His directorial credits include the staging of For The Girls (2020) on Broadway starring Kristin Chenoweth, Porgy and Bess for the South Florida Symphony (2019), the concert versions of Les Miz (2008) and Guys and Dolls (2009), both at the Hollywood Bowl.
Jay-Alexander is a long time board member of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and has directed benefits for the honored organization, as well as other causes he cares about, including animals and no-kill shelters, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Florida, The Actor’s Fund, National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), Broadway Dreams, and Hollywood’s Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF). Most recently he directed the star studded BroadwayWorld celebration.
He is passionate about young talent and teaches workshops and master classes, when possible. For the last few years, he has been the camp director of Kristin Chenoweth’s Broadway Bootcamp.
Jay-Alexander began his Broadway career in 1977 as a production assistant on the Broadway revival of Porgy and Bess, produced by Sherwin M. Goldman and the Houston Grand Opera. He also served as a production assistant on the pre-Broadway try out of Nefertiti which starred Andrea Marcovicci and directed by Jack O’Brien.
As a director, writer, and producer his career has taken him around the globe as far away as Alaska and Singapore and from London’s Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall to Carnegie Hall, The Sydney Opera House, The Village Vanguard, Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York City, Laxness Arena-Cologne, Germany, The Metropolitan Opera House, The Hollywood Bowl, Joe’s Pub at The Public Theatre, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv, London’s O2 Arena, O2 World Berlin, and just about every other legitimate theatre, nightclub and cabaret in between.
Jay-Alexander has also contributed lyrics to projects for Disney Records. He is a regular contributor to Broadwayworld.com where he is particularly known for a series called “All Eyes On,” interviewing Angela Lansbury, Josh Groban, Sir Ian McKellen, Rose Marie, Bob Avian, Ann-Margret, and Barry Manilow about his Broadway-bound Harmony. He has also authored liner notes for reissues of musicals such as the original, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and four titles from the Stephen Sondheim Columbia Masterworks/Sony canon: Merrily We Roll Along, Into The Woods, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Sunday In The Park With George, giving them context all these years later as to their place in history and with 20-20 hindsight.
He has also worked Bernadette Peters, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Julie Andrews, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lea Salonga, Sam Harris, Polly Bergen, Russell Watson, Il Volo, Il Divo, Norm Lewis, Laurie Beechman, Debby Boone, Mandy Gonzalez, Mary Cleere Haran, Roslyn Kind, Melissa Errico, Lea Michele, Betty Buckley, Donny & Marie Osmond, Ricky Martin, Well-Strung, Donna McKechnie, Melora Hardin, Jennifer Leigh Warren, and others. His work with Barbra Streisand can be seen on various DVD products or PBS specials including: Streisand: 2006 Tour; Barbra Streisand: One Night Only at The Village Vanguard; Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn; Barbra: The Music, The Mem’ries, The Magic (Netflix).
My View: “Because I Have A Story With Each And Every One Of You”…Richard Jay-Alexander
If you never heard of a restaurant/bar called Milady’s on Prince Street, you’ll know it now! That’s where Richard Jay-Alexander chose to celebrate his 70th Birthday and it was truly a WOWZA evening…the setting, the food, the peonies, the curated music PLAYLIST (assembled by longtime friend and assistant, Nellie Beavers), the craft cocktails and even a film crew (led by longtime pal, Brian Morgan) in the back, taping BRAVO-style “confessionals” with each guest, about the BIRTHDAY BOY. The guests in attendance ranged in age and interests, like a perfect jambalaya of an accomplished life. Even friends from his High School, in Solvay, NY! The most impressive part of who Richard is was quickly revealed in his post “blowing out the candles of his cake” moment when he looked around the room (clearly moved) and explained that the reason we were all there was, “because I have a story with each and every one of you.” Needless to say, there was much talent present throughout the room and plenty of legendary New Yorkers, raising a glass to a pretty special guy. In reality, it is he that entered into our lives and our stories and happily so. This is how you do it!
Ken Fallin’s Broadway: The World Says Good-Bye To Tina Turner
Tina Turner, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll has died, after a long illness at 83. Turner was diagnosed with intestinal cancer in 2016 and underwent a kidney transplant in 2017.
Her life story was told in the 1993 smash film What’s Love Got to Do with It and in the 2019 Broadway musical Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, starring Adrienne Warren in a career-making performance.
Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939, in Nutbush, TN, Turner became famous in the late 1960s as the singer of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Their major hits included: “River Deep – Mountain High” and “Proud Mary.”After leaving husband Ike Turner following years of physical and emotional abuse, she staged what remains one of the greatest comebacks in pop music history, scoring massive hits in the 1980s such as “What’s Love Got To Do With it”, “Private Dancer” and “The Best,” with an estimated 180 million albums sold worldwide, 12 Grammy Awards won and sold-out stadium tours around the world.
Turner scored another smash single in 1985 with “We Don’t Need Another Hero, from the Mel Gibson-George Miller threequel Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. She played the ruthless leader of Bartertown in the movie and delivered the memorable line, “Welcome to another edition of Thunderdome!”
She returned to the Top 20 later that year with “It’s Only Love,” a duet with Bryan Adams from his Reckless album, and also was part of the global smash “We Are the World.” That 1985 famine-relief single — written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, produced by Quincy Jones and credited to USA for Africa.
Turner also appeared at the intercontinental charity concert Live Aid that summer, performing a raucous, sexually charged duet with Mick Jagger in Philadelphia on a medley of his solo single “State of Shock” and the Rolling Stones’ “It’ Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It).”
Turner’s status as a musical pioneer extended to 1980s television when she became a staple of MTV.
A private funeral ceremony is expected for family and close friends and family.
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