Greatness is sometimes achieved by the collaboration of superbly talented people. Last night, in New York City it was never more evident than at the two events we attended. Pianist, arranger and musical director Herb Bernstein discovered Julie Budd when she was 12 years old, ran with her to Merv Griffin who immediately saw that greatness and put her on his TV show. The rest is show business history. It happened 50 years ago and was celebrated at an event hosted by Richard Skipper at the Metropolitan Room. You can still hear what this musical collaboration has produced on Sept 21st at the Metropolitan Room as Julie lets forth with that breathtaking voice that has thrilled millions. When you attend a Julie Budd performance you’re gonna hear what you hear at a Streisand concert. Both Brooklyn born, expect shout outs from the devoted fans….”We love you Julie”!
When Tony met Lady Gaga musical magic was created by an unlikely pairing. Lady Gaga was the opening performer at Tony Bennett’s 90th Birthday Celebration at Radio City Music Hall last night. This was probably the entertainment event of the century. One by one, the most talented and famous sang to Tony. Alec Baldwin, Michael Buble’, Kevin Spacey, KD Lang, Diana Krall, Stevie Wonder, Andrea Boccelli, Rufus Wainwright, Bruce Willis, John McEnroe, Elton John, and Billy Joel all honored Tony Bennett. Mr. Bennett ended the evening as only he could. I’m not going to describe this unbelievable evening and diminish it’s surprises and excitement. It will be an NBC television special on Dec. 20th. For all of us the “Best Is Yet To Come”…….
On a local note, when Billy Stritch got the call to be Kevin Spacey’s pianist for this night, another spectacular musical collaboration was made. I’m sure when you hear Kevin’s performance on the show you will agree. The crowd couldn’t stop cheering. We gotta stop meeting like this, I can’t stand how good it gets!
Oops, almost forgot three more spectacular collaborations, when daughter Laura met Andrew, daughter Caroline met Peter, and when Stephen met Eda.
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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