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Gertrude Sorokoff

Gertrude Sorokoff loved music, loved entertainment, and gave me my first piano lessons.  Late in life she revived her ability to speak the language of her parents and enrolled in a class to learn Yiddish.  While we were enjoying the special Mother’s Day National Yiddish Theatre concert there was an empty seat in our row and how I wish she could have been in it.

 

Further evidence that Yiddish is suddenly hip in 2017 was on flashy display last night at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, as the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene welcomed a diverse and eclectic crowd to celebrate mothers and the mother tongue in grand style.  Prominent producer Daryl Roth and nine other women trailblazers in the arts, sciences, business and philanthropy were honored, and a dazzling all-female cast performed one showstopper after another.  The evening’s mother hen was the fabulous four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh, who delighted the audience with her funny and peppery mix of wisdom and heartfelt cheerleading for the Jewish mothers attending and for the Jewish mother in all of us.

The Emmy and Tony Award-winning David Hyde Pierce presented the evening’s top honor to Daryl Roth, producer of Indecent, which The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene (NYTF) is actively supporting in many ways, including as an associate producer.  Paula Vogel’s critically-acclaimed Broadway play is up for three Tonys including Best Play.  NYTF is responsible for last season’s Off Broadway hit musical The Golden Bride.

Highlights from the concert included performances by Eleanor Reissa (currently appearing in Indecent); Joanne Borts (OnceFiddler on the Roof); Soul to Soul’s Magda Fishman, The Grammy Award-nominated recording artist Rachael Sage and Annette Ezekiel-Kogan of the popular rock-Klezmer band Golem; Dani Marcus (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder); Rachel Policar (The Golden Bride) and Daniella Rabbani.  Borts was joined by a charming Rachel Yucht in a rousing Barry Sisters medley, and the sultry Grace Fields raised the roof in a performance that would have made Sophie Tucker proud.

The musical theatre writing team of Barbara Anselmi (composer) and Brian Hargrove (lyricist/bookwriter) performed a song from their musical It Shoulda Been Youwhich premiered on Broadway in 2015 and was directed by Mr. Pierce, with adapted lyrics in Ms. Roth’s honor. The world-renowned violinist Alicia Svigals, helmed an almost all-female orchestra that deftly jumped from klezmer to jazz and pop as the evening unfolded..

The concert was produced by Folksbiene’s executive producer and CEO Christopher Massimine, Moishe Rosenfeld and Zalmen Mlotek, Folksbiene’s longtime artistic director.  Jeffrey Wiesenfeld is NYTF’s chairman.  Founded in 1915, Folksbiene, now in its 103rd consecutive season, is one of the longest continuously producing theatre companies in the world.

(For another article by Stephen & complete photos of the concert go to BroadwayWorld.com)

Gertrude Sorokoff & Stephen Sorokoff

Tovah Feldshuh, Daryle Roth, David Hyde Pierce

Stephen Sorokoff & Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, Chairman National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene

(For complete photos of this concert go to BroadwayWorld.com)

Stephen studied at the Manhattan School of Music. Besides being a pianist, Stephen’s business career was in the Fashion Industry. He was CEO of a textile manufacturing facility and President of an international textile machinery company. Stephen was on the Board of Directors of the “First All Children’s Theatre” which brought the Stephen Schwartz musical The Trip and Captain Louie to the Kennedy Center in Wash DC. His wife Eda, an interior space designer and classical pianist was on the Board of Barrington Stage Company and is still active at BSC. Stephen’s photographs, videos and articles appear on Broadwayworld.com, T2Conline.com and The New York Observer. He is active in the entertainment events at the Friars Club, where he is a member. Stephen is also an Honorary Board Member of The Society For The Preservation of The Great American Songbook. Stephen Sorokoff@gmail.com

Cabaret

My View: SUMMERTIME Starring Norm Lewis Just Keeps Getting HOTTER!

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I don’t usually post multiple photo essays of the same show/event, but, in this case, I simply must or I wouldn’t be doing my job of “reporting” here in Times Square Chronicles. The fact of the matter is that my wife, Eda, and I have been to Norm Lewis’s new show SUMMERTIME (Special Tony Edition) 3 times now and it has been “delivering” on a nightly basis more thrills and excitement than any other run of a show we have previously witnessed. The show is beautifully directed by the gifted Richard Jay-Alexander, with musical direction and arrangements from the equally gifted Joseph Joubert. What Norm and his artistic posse have put together is so satisfying that you get drawn in and forget you’ve already seen it. Add to this unexplainable phenomenon the array of Broadway Guests and each night has been a delight for so many different reasons. Because I live conveniently close, I am able to capture historic pairings of creative giants and I had to put this together so you could witness the kind of history that has already been made each of these nights at 54 Below. Norm has 4 more shows and many more Special Guests on June 10, 11, 12 and 13 and I can only heartily recommend you go see this man who is so comfortable in his stardom, that he easily seduces you into his world of music and Broadway. You will not be disappointed. I must also note that there has been as much star power in his audiences as there are on stage, adding extra excitement to every night.

( I couldn’t catch all the celebs in the audience but here are a few photo highlights)

NORM LEWIS & LEN CARIOU

NORM LEWIS (Sweeny Todd)

LEN CARIOU

STEPHEN SCHWARTZ & WALTER MARKS

STEPHEN SCHWARTZ & NORM LEWIS

MARC SHAIMAN & NORM LEWIS

NORM LEWIS & MARC SHAIMAN

LEN CARIOU, NORM LEWIS, MARC SHAIMAN

MELBA MOORE & NORM LEWIS

MELBA MOORE & NORM LEWIS

MALBA MOORE & NORM LEWIS

MARILYN MAYE & NORM LEWIS

MARILYN MAYE

LEE ROY REAMS & MARILYN MAYE

WALTER MARKS, JENNIFER HALLIE DIAMOND, ROBERT DIAMOND, founder/owner BROADWAYWORLD, RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER

NORM LEWIS, ROBERT DIAMOND, JENNIFER HALLIE DIAMOND

HUGH PANARO, EDA SOROKOFF, STEVEN REINEKE, music director/conductor The New York Pops, ERIC GABBARD

RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER, EDA SOROKOFF, STEVEN REINEKE, ERIC GABBARD

LORNA DALLAS BROWN, LEE ROY REAMS, MARILYN MAYE

RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER & NORM LEWIS

PASTOR BOBBY LEWIS (Norm’s cousin) & NORM LEWIS

JOSEPH JOUBERT, music director

RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER, NORM LEWIS, CATHERINE ADLER

JENNIFER ASHLEY TEPPER & RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER

MARK SENDROFF, RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER, RICHARD SKIPPER

54 BELOW

MACON PRICKETT

CARLOS CLEMENZ & MARC SHAIMAN

NORM LEWIS

EDA SOROKOFF & CATHERINE ADLER

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Cabaret

My View: Norm Lewis Brings On The Summer Heat at 54 Below

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“The Heat is On” at 54 Below with a new show Norm Lewis is performing, called SUMMERTIME (Special TONY Edition). From his dazzling entrance to his beautiful “goodnight” the evening is wall-to wall Broadway treasure. Yes, summer arrived early ,last night, and whatever the kinship and connection between the star, his musical director Joseph Joubert and his director Richard Jay-Alexander, is, it bathed us in magic with stunning music, beautiful arrangements, humor, glamour, stories and vocals that are, quite honestly, beyond just having a powerful skill set. Norm is a sublime actor who happens to possess a magnificent voice and he uses every dimension of it.

During the run he will have special guests who are both friends and Broadway royalty. Last night, he “blew up” this concept by introducing us to the legendary TONY winner, Melba Moore. I don’t usually write about specific material, but when your brain can’t comprehend that Miss Moore tore into “Aquarius” and “Let The Sunshine In” from HAIR with Mr. Lewis, hearts were jumping and joy exploded in the room. Only to be followed by Melba singing “I Got Love” from PURLIE (wait for it) in the original key! The 3 piece band, led by Joubert, also consisted of Perry Cavari on drums and percussion and Dylan Shamat on both acoustic and electric bass. The sounds they made all night were as versatile as could be accomplished and have become a trademark, of sorts, for Norm. Don’t hesitate to get to 54 Below and start your summer early. This man brings the heat with him onto the stage. 

Norm Lewis

NORM LEWIS

NORM LEWIS

NORM LEWIS

MELBA MOORE

MELBA MOORE & NORM LEWIS

MELBA MOORE

MELBA MOORE

54 BELOW

54 BELOW

NORM LEWIS

NORM LEWIS

NORM LEWIS

NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award

JOSEPH JOUBERT

54 BELOW

MELBA MOORE & NORM LEWIS

RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER & NORM LEWIS

MELBA MOORE & NORM LEWIS

HUGH PANARO, EDA SOROKOFF, STEVEN REINEKE, ERIC GABBARD

STEVEN REINEKE, ERIC GABBARD, NORM LEWIS

RICHARD SKIPPER, RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER, NORM LEWIS, MARK SENDROFF

CARLOS CLEMENZ & NORM LEWIS

RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER & NORM LEWIS

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Broadway

My View:Times Square Moved A Bit North Last Night…Happy Belated Birthday Richard Jay-Alexander

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Happy to report that Times Square moved a little bit North, last night, to the Upper West Side and it was with good reason to celebrate a Broadway Baby’s Birthday.

Richard Jay-Alexander affects a room by filling it with excitement, creativity, artistry, humor, intelligence, along with love and respect, just by entering it.  And so it was, last night, as his friends and often time hosts while in New York, Lisa Sharkey and Paul Gleicher, hosted a birthday (actual was May 24th) party for him in their spectacular town home in Manhattan. Ms. Sharkey, who works at Harper Collins decided to call the gathering “71 on 71st Street,” filling its rooms with (as RJ emotionally put it) “ people who are important in my life and who I love dearly.” Richard, as Eda and I are more recent additions to his tribe of friends, have witnessed, many times, his kindness, authenticity and specific communication skills in a world of fake news and casual showbiz fraternity. He is truly a beacon of humanity and has always been a people person. Once he’s a true friend, it seems to last a lifetime and that’s what we observed last night and ever since we’ve known him, striking up “our” famous friendship, while living in Florida. Happy Birthday Richard Jay-Alexander and now on with the show……here are some photos of a special night for a special guy. I’m only sorry I was so distracted by everything that was going on, that I often forgot to pick up my camera. Forgive me. Maybe it was the BESPOKE JELL-O SHOTS?????

RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER & LISA SHARKEY

LISA SHARKEY

RICHIE RIDGE, RJA, ROBERT DIAMOND, JENNIFER HALLEY DIAMOND

RJA & HUGH PANARO

RJA & MARK SENDROFF

MO ROCCA, LISA SHARKEY,

RJA & JULIE

RJA & CARLOS

BRUCE GLIKAS & RJA

RJA

CARLOS CLEMENZ

SSTEPHEN SOROKOFF, RJA, EDA SOROKOFF

JENNIFER HALLEY DIAMOND & RJA

RICHIE RIDGE & TOM VIOLA

RJA & TOM VIOLA

RJA, LISA SHARKEY, MO ROCCA

RJA & LISA SHARKEY

J

J

MARK SENDROFF & RJA

JENNIFER HALLEY DIAMOND & MO ROCCA

PAUL GLEICHER & LISA SHARKEY

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RJA

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER

 

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Cabaret

My View: 54 Below At It’s Best…..The Staff Show

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I had no idea that 54 DOES 54 has been an annual event for many years, but I am so glad I was there on Sunday night to witness the range of talents and the performances from so many of the staff of the club and personnel from the offices upstairs of 54 Below. The legendary room was packed and you know it’s gonna be a big night when all 3 owners are there to cheer their “home team” on. The musical direction and the band were flying through all kinds of styles and tempos, never relenting in their power or rhythmic drive. That, alone, was truly amazing.

Now, I must say REMEMBER THESE NAMES: ALEX MARTINS, RU CABRALIS, KATIE O’DONNELL, SHANIA MUNDY, JAMES KLAPAK (their Executive Chef), DEJA-SIMONE CRUMPTON, GRETCHEN SCHNEIDER, GRACE FLAVIEN, ELIZABETH PRECIUS, HANNAH ROSE PICKLE, BRIANNA JUSTINE, MARK BEYER, ADELINA CORREA, GABRIEL GENERALLY, CASSI MIKAT,

LUIS PALOMINO, MACON PRICKETT and MANDISA BOXILL. On any given night, at 54 Below, this fantastic family of individuals are your Servers, Bartenders, Hosts, Guest Relations folks, Marketing Managers, Digital Marketing Associates, Back Servers, Guest Relations Managers, Maitre D’s, Assistant Programming Directors and, of course, General Manager. Also spotted in the room were the club’s Jennifer Ashley Tepper (with her mom) and Nella Vera, as well as drop-in regulars who work at 54 quite a bit – Mr. Lee Roy Reams, Mr. Richard Jay-Alexander and Mr. Ron Abel. On lights and sound, we saw Amanda Raymond & KJ Hardy, who are absolutely beloved by everyone who plays that room. Friends, family and fans brought the club, repeatedly, to a fever pitch, and the warmth, love and good will in the room were palpable. Plenty of showstoppers, plenty of surprises and some “specialties” that were unexpected. The room was so alive and it was a thrill to be there. But, I wouldn’t be fairly representing, with just my photos, if I didn’t tell you that they saved General Manager of 54 Below, Mandisa Boxill, for last, and it was no surprise why. Macon Prickett put the evening together and he told us everyone really worked hard over the month it took to put the show together, but, nothing could have prepared us for Ms. Boxill killing it with Beyoncés “Crazy In Love.” The place just exploded, like the finale in a fireworks display, when you know “this is it” you have hit the zenith. I am happy to share with you many photos here to “take you there” and this may have been my first time, but you can rest assured, I will be there next year, too! Congratulations to all! You should be really, really proud.

LOUIS PALOMNO, server

MACON PRICKETT, host/producer

ALEX MARTINS

RU CABRALIS

KATIE O’DONNELL

SHANIA MUNDY

JAMES KLAPAK

DEJA-SIMONE CRUMPTON

GRETCHEN SCHNEIDER

GRACE FLAVIEN

ELIZABETH PRECIUS

HANNAH ROSE PICKLE

BRIANNA JUSTINE

MARK BEYER

ADELINA CORREA

GABRIEL GENERALLY

CASSI MIKAT

LOUIS PALOMINO

MACON PRICKETT

MANDISA BOXILL

MANDISA BOXILL

MANDISA BOXILL

RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER

JENNIFER ASHLEY TEPPER

STEVE BARUCH, EDA BARUCH, RICHARD FRANKEL

RON ABEL, EDA SOROKOFF, RICHARD FRANKEL

MANDISA BOXILL

RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER & MANDISA BOXILL

STEPHEN SOROKOFF, EDA SOROKOFF, JENNIFER ASHLEY TEPPPER, MOM, RON ABEL

 

54 DOES 54

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Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Richard M. Sherman Songwriter for Mary Poppins and Jungle Book Passes On

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Richard M. Sherman, was a nine-time Academy Award nominee along with his brother Robert. The Sherman Brothers wrote more than 200 songs for some 27 films and 24 television productions. Their film credits include Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Parent Trap, Summer Magic tv, The Sword in the Stone, That Darn Cat!, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, The Happiest Millionaire, The Aristocats, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

The won two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins, taking home the trophies for Best Score – Substantially Original and Best Original Song (for “Chim Chim Cher-ee”). They won three Grammy awards and received 24 gold and platinum albums and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the US National Medal of the Arts in 2008.

They also wrote the score on Broadway for Over Here.

The brothers were portrayed in the 2013 film Saving Mr. Banks, which told the story behind the making of Mary Poppins.

Sherman died of age-related illness at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills. His brother Robert died in 2012.

 

 

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