Sterling Publishing invited cast members and the creative team of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 at Barnes and Noble as author Steven Suskin celebrated the release of the book The Great Comet: The Journey of a New Musical to Broadway. John Groban, the musical’s creator, Dave Malloy; author Suskin, Denée Benton, Brittain Ashford, Gelsey Bell, Nick Choksi, Or Matias, Grace McLean, and Lucas Steele were all on hand.Directed by Rachel Chavkin, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 is now in performances at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre (249 West 45th Street), with Josh Groban as ‘Pierre’ and Denée Benton as ‘Natasha. Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 began previews on October 18, and officially opened Monday, November 14, 2016.
Other Comet news is Josh Groban is now set to remain in the show, which opened Nov. 14, through July 2, 2017.
Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 was originally commissioned and developed at Ars Nova in NYC where it had its world premiere in the fall of 2012, and was soon-after transferred to a custom-built venue in the Meatpacking District for the summer of 2013. The show became a sensation and the entire venue was transferred to the Theater District where it continued its run into the spring of 2014. In December 2015, the show played a limited engagement at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge where its innovative design was expanded to bring the show’s signature staging to a traditional proscenium-style theatre.
Living The High Life With Joel Diamond
Katherine Clarke, writer for the Wall Street Journal, is celebrating her new book release Billionaire’s Row (Random House) with both a book signing and private cocktail party on June 12. She describes how the block-long row of buildings on Central Park South have become the most desired –and among the most expensive – homes in NYC, not to mention the entire country. Even Beyonce and Jay Z had to take second position just last week to the “most expensive real estate sale in United States history” – the Penthouse in 220 Central Park South, last year selling for $238 million.
Attending her book launch private cocktail party, amongst many hugely successful entrepreneurs, will be multi-platinum & 2x Grammy Nominee writer/producer, Joel Diamond, who enjoyed 20 years living in the Penthouse at 220 Central Park South, with full time houseman and cook. His downstairs neighbors included Don Hewitt (creator and producer of 60 Minutes) and Charles Strouse (Broadway show “Annie”). Another downstairs neighbor was an angel/investor for Broadway shows and would always use Diamond as a sounding board for the music, playing him cassettes from the backer’s auditions. First came La Cage aux Folles and when Diamond heard “I Am What I Am”, he immediately called Gloria Gaynor telling her that he was going to produce her next biggest hit record since “I Will Survive”, and sure enough it became a huge international success both on radio and the clubs and is officially today known as the official “Gay Anthem” around the world. The next song from a cassette backer’s audition tape that Diamond was to cherry-pick from was “One Night In Bangkok” from the Broadway show “Chess.” He immediately recruited super Zoli model Robey to perform it and again became a huge hit all over the world. Both recordings were released on Diamond’s Silver Blue Records. Just by coincidence, several years ago Jay Z recorded a Diamond owned copyright for his multi-million selling “The Black Album.”
Just in the next building to the east side lived Beats mogul Jimmy Iovine and in the penthouse in the next building to the west side was Candice Bergen – who Diamond had a crush on and once left a dozen roses with her doorman asking her for a date.
It was also during this time that Joel Diamond was hired (and mentored) by Clive Davis to head up Sony Music/April Blackwood, at which time he negotiated mogul David Geffen’s first million-dollar deal for Laura Nyro and also hired a then unknown and now legendary Tommy Mottola as has his assistant.
He was also visited in the Penthouse by the “once respected” Harvey Weinstein, who personally cast Diamond to co-star with Ruben Blades in his Miramax feature film “Crossover Dreams.” Many other luminaries, friends and family would marvel at the sumptuous views of Central Park, huge terraces on all four sides, elevator opening right into the entire top floor of the building, and the quirky mail drop shoot right inside the apartment, including the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr., Buddy Rich, Roy Orbison, Marvin Hamlisch, Joe Pesci, Robert Redford, Steve Lawrence, David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne with Britt Ekland, Regis Philbin, Engelbert Humperdinck, Lily Tomlin, Mama Cass, among many others.
Diamond’s Penthouse was not only the trendy and chic place to be for his legendary New Years Eve parties, but also included the signing of David Hasselhoff (kicking off his enormous German success produced by Diamond) and the creation of the actual #1 hit song Diamond produced for Engelbert Humperdinck (in addition to 109 additional Humperdinck recordings), “After The Lovin’.”
Since that time, Joel Diamond has produced over 100 charted Billboard records and 47 Gold & Platinum recordings and was also signed personally by Casablanca Records (alongside The Village People and Donna Summer) president Neil Bogart as an artist on the label, following his own previous album on Sony Records. Diamond also produced Benny Mardones, who broke all Billboard records by having been the only artist ever to chart five times with the same song and still is in the top 25 most played rock records “Into The Night.” Just last year Diamond’s offer to sign the mysterious homeless subway opera singer, Emily Zamourka, went viral across the US and the world. Classical music was not new to Diamond who discovered, produced and managed the amazing Five Browns, consisting of five Julliard siblings all performing together at the same time on five Steinway grand pianos – scoring 3 consecutive #1 albums on the Billboard Classical Chart (even knocking Yo-Yo Ma out of #1).
Diamond says, “As I look back over my 50-year journey starting as a high school nerd from Passaic, NJ and singing at Weddings & Bar Mitzvahs, to my exciting 20 years in the Penthouse including being anointed Cosmopolitan Magazine’s “Bachelor of the Month” and receiving literally thousands of letters, I am still going full blast living in my Calabasas, CA estate. It amazes even me that I still have the same energy, childlike enthusiasm (“Nobody has ever accused me of being mature”) and laser focus as I had 30 years ago and now ready to launch several new artists.”
Meet The Playwrights of The NY Summer Theater Festival: Melvin Jules Bukiet a Novelist Who Takes on The Sarah Lawrence Cult
Runts, is a new play by Melvin Jules Bukiet and Finnegan Shepard will have its World Premiere as part of this year’s “Spring/Summer Festival” produced by the New York Theater Festival. There will be (3) three performances: Monday, May 15 @ 9pm; Wednesday, May 17 @ 9pm; and Saturday, May 20 @ 6:45 at Teatro Latea (120 Suffolk Street). For more information, please visit www.newyorktheaterfesitival.com.
Melvin Jules Bukiet, teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. and is the uthor of Sandman’s Dust, Stories of an Imaginary Childhood, While the Messiah Tarries, After, Signs and Wonders, Strange Fire, and A Faker’s Dozen;editor of Neurotica, Nothing Makes You Free, and Scribblers on the Roof. His works have been translated into a half-dozen languages and frequently anthologized He is the winner of the Edward Lewis Wallant Award and other prizes; stories published in Antaeus, The Paris Review, and several other other magazines. His essays have been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, as well as other newspapers. Runts is his first play.
Runts is loosely based on the so-called “Sarah Lawrence cult” which developed after the father of a student moved into his daughter’s college housing unit. Gradually, he charmed her roommates. He shocked them in ways that enticed and excited them until they believed that he alone understood them. Then he led them into Hell.
“Writers sometimes receive a ‘gift’ from the world, a narrative that arrives complete and compelling,” says Mr. Bukiet. “And writers accept that gift, even if it’s an evil one. When I heard of the awful sequence of events that started at the school I love, the lure of the drama was irresistible. It showed how a strong, amoral monster was able to convince a group of vulnerable young people to follow him. This happened in one small, “safe” campus, but similar events have occurred on a large scale throughout history. For example, America. Runts is not a parable. It’s a story. But still…”
Directed by Oliver Conant, the cast includes: Jack Coggins (Zander Bay), Carson Marie Earnest (Jane Bay), Arianna Wellmoney (Eggles), Chelsea Clarke (Lauretta), and Louis Rocky Bacigalupo (Leo). Original music by Anteo Fabris.
Runts will have three performances: Monday, May 15 @ 9pm; Wednesday, May 17 @ 9pm; Saturday, May 20 @ 6:45pm at Teatro Latea (120 Suffolk Street – NYC).
Chris Hart, Son of Moss Hart And Kitty Carlisle Hart Discusses All
On May 4th between 7-8pm Chris Hart , son of Moss Hart and Kitty Carlisle Hart talks with Foster Hirsch. The talk will be held at the Lambs 5th Floor at 3 West 51st Street. To RSVP@The-Lambs.org
Moss Hart’s Act One was published more than 50 years ago, but for his son, Christopher Hart, the recent stage adaptation is not a belated dusting-off of material from long ago. As a producer and director, Chris Hart has had a steady relationship with his father’s autobiography. “I always read something from Act One to the actors, whenever I am directing any of his plays. It helps them hear his voice before we get started, because the book captures the way he really sounded in life. And it gives the actors a sense of his affection for them – my father was a secret wannabe actor his whole life.”.
Moderator: Honorary Lamb Foster Hirsch, a professor of film at Brooklyn College and the author of 16 books on film and theater, including The Dark Side of the Screen:Film Noir, A Method to Their Madness: The History of the Actors Studio, and Kurt Weill on Stage: From Berlin to Broadway.
Magda Katz is the collie.
The Glorious Corner
SHEERAN-CRITICALLY SPEAKING — (Via NME) Ed Sheeran has said that he doesn’t see the point in music critics.
According to Rolling Stone, the singer-songwriter was referring to the age of streaming and how music is now more accessible than ever. Sheeran suggested that critics are no longer needed to guide listeners or help them engage. “Why do you need to read a review? Listen to it. It’s freely available! he told the publication. “Make up your own mind. I would never read an album review and go, ‘I’m not gonna listen to that now.’”Sheeran’s comments were met with mixed reaction by people online. One person wrote: “ok except music critics aren’t just there for ppl to decide what to listen to?? taking a deeper look at music thru a deeper critical lense, both positive and negative, is a celebration of music as a whole if anything.”
Another said: “80% of the time I’d agree. But the best reviewers also help me learn how to interpret music in a new way. They also help me learn about the history of music. There’s a lot about music that goes beyond just how it sounds to my ear (in my humble opinion).”
Sheeran’s comments about music criticism were shared by Rolling Stone in supplementary material that was omitted from the March cover interview with the star.
Among that was the revelation that Jay-Z “respectfully passed on featuring on the singer’s hit single ‘Shape Of You.’ ‘Shape Of You’ was released at the start of 2017 and went five times platinum in its first year, becoming one of the biggest UK singles of all time on streaming services.
Sheeran told Rolling Stone that he was “in touch” with the legendary New York rapper’s team about a collaboration, but that it was turned down on Jay-Z’s side.
“We were in touch,” Sheeran said. “I sent him the song, and he said, ‘I don’t think the song needs a rap verse.’ He was probably right. He’s got a very, very good ear. He usually gets things right. It was a very natural, respectful pass.”
First off, Sheeran doesn’t need the critics anymore, but if you’re a new act, building awarness, a great review from a critics can only help. I loved the “Shape Of You,” but these comments are totally baseless and senseless. He actually should be ashamed of himself as he’s hurting the “new” artists on their way up.
Speaking of Rolling Stone, I just finished the 600-pager Jann Wenner book Like A Rolling Stone and just loved it. Wenner’s writing style is totally off the charts and you can quickly see why Rolling Stone was such a generational hit for decades. I urge you to read it.
SHORT TAKES — On Wednesday’s 70th salute to The Today Show, they actually showed for a mere moment of shot of Katie Couric with Matt Lauer. Missing completely was Ann Curry. Say what you will, but Lauer was an integral part of this show for years and while his off-screen antics weren’t right, he deserved more than he got on the salute. The show has still not recovered from his leaving …
On that same Today Show, Little Big Town performed their version of The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.” Was pretty spectacular …
Brad LeBeau, one of the country’s top music-gunslingers, celebrates his firm’s (Pro Motion) 40th anniversary in July. Congrats … Boy, haven’t heard about Amber Heard in quite sometime. I guess she really was Depp-sixed after all …
Studio 54’s Ian Schrager has certainly re-created himself as a hotelier of the highest order. In NYC, Public is his and he just bought the old Standard Hotel in LA on Sunset. He also bought the Hotel Bossert in Brooklyn Heights … Micky Dolenz brings his Monkees Celebration tour to Long Island’s Paramount next Tuesday (4/11) and the fabulous Ridegfield Playhouse next Friday (4/14). Dolenz also spoke to Detroit’s Oakland Press Gary Graff Thursday … Leo D. Sullivan whose animation of a chugging train graced the opening of television dance party Soul Train for decades, died March 25 in Los Angeles. He was 82. For those of a certain age -and mindset- Soul Train was one of the best. Here’s Bowie doing “Fame” from the show in 1975:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy80bUKt54I And, Apple TV’s Ted Lasso continues to dazzle. Beautifully written with a hint of sadness, it’s just a terrific show. This week’s episode (“Big Week”) ended with a dazzlingversion of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think twice It’s All Right” by Peter, Paul and Mary and last week played “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen. Just terrific music choices. Bravo!
Chita Rivera and Nathan Lane In Conversation
To celebrate and kick-off the publication of her long-awaited book Chita: A Memoir, the legendary Chita Rivera will appear in conversation with her dear friend, the indomitable Nathan Lane (Pictures From Home) on Monday, April 24, 2023, 7:00 PM at the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Cultural Center,10 East 66 Street, NYC. The ticket price to the one-night only event includes a copy of Chita: A Memoir, co-written with arts journalist Patrick Pacheco.
For tickets: https://streicker.nyc/current-season/rivera?fbclid=IwAR1XF0GSmh98IlkxICx-jxPv8wGpryHbgfGrNqnITMLVbrC1kXJsOzANHxI
The event is in partnership with The Entertainment Community Fund.
Chita says “I’ve long considered writing my memoir, but I’ve never been one to look back…until now. Now it feels right and with Patrick Pacheco, I couldn’t be more pleased to pass on my experience to a new generation. I hope my words and thoughts about my life and career resonate and readers just might discover some things about me they never knew.”
“Chita Rivera remains a force of nature, joy, energy and positivity,” said Gady Levy, Executive Director of The Streicker Cultural Center. “We are honored and excited to welcome her for an extraordinary evening of conversation and stories with the amazing Nathan Lane.”
The HarperOne book (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) will be published in English and Spanish on April 25, 2023 as well as the audio book recorded by Chita.
Join the iconic Tony Award winners Chita Rivera and Nathan Lane on Monday, April 24 and be a fly on the wall as Chita puts you in the room with Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, Hal Prince, Gower Champion, John Kander, Fred Ebb and so many others. From West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie and Chicago to The Rink, Kiss Of The Spider Woman, The Visit and more.
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