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T2C Talks To Florencia Cuenca About Her Show at 54 Below and Real Women Have Curves: The Musical

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Florencia Cuenca is a Mexican immigrant singer-actress-actor-writer-director based in New York City. Floencia started performing on stage at three years old. She made her first album Aquí – Los Nuevos Standards produced by husband Jaime Lozano and has toured all around Mexico, Latin America and New York City, performing in some of the most prestigious jazz venues and festivals and being awarded with the Hot House Jazz Award 2016 for Best New Jazz Artist. She has performed Off-Broadway in numerous shows, including Children of Salt (NYMF 2016 Best of Fest) and A Never-E. Floencia recently appeared in Real Women Have Curves: The Musical that premiered at the A.R.T. in Cambridge..

Floencia’s husband Jaime Lozano is a Mexican musical theatre composer-arranger-orchestrator-writer-director. Their work together has been performed in venues such as Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, and MASS MoCa, among many others. Florencia and Jaime moved to New York City seven years ago. They are husband and wife, partners, collaborators, and they are parents of a beautiful five-year-old son named Alonzo — their American Dream.

Jaime Lozano and Florencia Cuenca will be coming to 54 Below to create Mexican musical magic with Broadway en Spanglish February 7th. This concert features live accompaniment from the renowned Mariachi Real de México de Ramon Ponce, they deliver fresh interpretations of some of musical theater’s most iconic tunes with new arrangements by Lozano.

Video shot by Magda Katz

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Events

Rockers On The Rise: With Love – A Benefit Concert Featuring The Stars Of Tomorrow

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G.H. Harding

The Path Fund Inc.® and Avery Rehl are pleased to announce this special celebration of Love on Mother’s Day, Rockers On The Rise: With Love. The event will feature some of the most talented young performers of the next generation. Rockers On The Rise: With LoveRockers On The Rise: With Love is on Sunday, May 12, 2024 at 6 p.m. at The Cutting Room.

Rockers On The Rise is The PATH Fund’s new mentorship initiative that enables young artists to audition, perform, direct and produce their own shows with personalized mentoring and hands-on training to gain real-world experience. Having been a part of the annual Rockers On Broadway® concert series, Avery Rehl was inspired to lead this year’s Rockers-type event to support the arts community.

“I’ve had such a great time working with Cori Gardner and Donnie Kehr, and I’ve learned a lot from them as I’ve developed my performing career. Singing in Rockers On Broadway has been a great experience, and now producing Rockers On The Rise is giving me further insights into how the industry works. In the future, I look forward to giving back to the community and helping young artists grow with the PATH Fund.”, says Rehl.

The performers include:

The graduating high school seniors, class of 2024, Isabelle Gottfried; Avery Rehl; Matteo Russo (The Many Saints Of Newark); Sylvia Smith; and other young rockers, Nick Allen; Claudia Fabella; GG Roberts-Nguyen; Tyson Gottfried; Jackson Preisser; Gus Schonfeld; Jurnee Swan (The Piano Lesson); Audrey Simone Winters (The Sound Of Music (tour)).

The creative team is led by director Donnie Kehr; Executive Producers Avery Rehl, Cori Gardner; with music direction by Logan Medland.

“We are so honored that these young performers want to give their time and talent to our cause”, says Gardner. “Their commitment to the community is impressive and inspirational.” adds Kehr.

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Broadway

Theatre News: The Heart of Rock and Roll, Gutenberg! The Musical!, The Who’s Tommy, Jelly’s Last Jam, Follies,

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Tonight The Heart of Rock and Roll opens at the James Earl Jones Theatre. Two nights before there was a celebration performance with Huey Lewis with The News, Jimmy Kimmel, Cyndi Lauper, Casey Cott, Rosanna Scotto, Ben Vereen, Lorna Luft and more.

Cyndi Lauper and Huey Lewis

The Heart of Rock and Roll, stars Corey Cott, McKenzie Kurtz, Josh Breckenridge, F. Michael Haynie, Zoe Jensen, Tamika Lawrence, Raymond J. Lee, John-Michael Lyles, Orville Mendoza, Billy Harrigan Tighe and John Dossett.

The Original Broadway Cast Album of Gutenberg! The Musical! featuring GRAMMY® Award winners and Tony Award® nominees Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells will be released digitally on Friday, May 3 and physically on Friday, May 17 from Center Stage Records and Yellow Sound Label. The album will also feature comedy legend Mel Brooks in the role of the ‘Guest Producer.’

The Museum of Broadway will host original Broadway cast reunions for The Who’s Tommy on April 22 at 2pm and Jelly’s Last Jam on April 26 at 2pm. Each reunion will include a panel featuring multiple cast and crew members from the original Broadway productions.

For one night only—on Thursday, June 20, at 8:00 p.m. at Carnegie Hall Stephen Sondheim’s Follies. Directed and presented by Transport Group Artistic Director and five-time Drama Desk nominee and two-time Obie Award winner Jack Cummings III with musical direction by Joey Chancey.

The cast of Follies includes Broadway stars Julie Benko (Funny Girl), Mikaela Bennett(Renascence, BBC Proms West Side Story), Michael Berresse (Tony nominee, Kiss Me Kate), Alexandra Billings (Wicked), Klea Blackhurst (Everything the Traffic Will Allow), Harolyn Blackwell (Candide, Porgy and Bess), Stephen Bogardus (Tony nominee, Love! Valour! Compassion!; Falsettos), Norbert Leo Butz (two-time Tony winner, Catch Me If You Can, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Len Cariou (Tony winner, Sweeney Todd), Carolee Carmello (three-time Tony nominee, Parade; Falsettos), Jim Caruso (Liza’s At The Palace), Nikki Renée Daniels (Company, The Book of Mormon), Christine Ebersole (two-time Tony winner, Grey Gardens, 42nd Street), Katie Finneran (two-time Tony winner, Noises Off, Promises, Promises), Santino Fontana (Tony winner, Tootsie), Alexander Gemignani (Tony nominee, Carousel; Sweeney Todd), Miguel Gil (Kimberly Akimbo), Olivia Elease Hardy (Kimberly Akimbo), Erika Henningsen (Mean Girls), Grey Henson(Tony nominee, Mean Girls, Shucked), Fernell Hogan (Kimberly Akimbo), Jennifer Holliday (Tony winner, Dreamgirls), Rachel Bay Jones (Tony winner, Dear Evan Hansen; Here We Are), Isabel Keating (Tony nominee, The Boy from Oz), Adriane Lenox (Tony winner, Doubt), Norm Lewis (Tony nominee, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess), Ryan McCartan (Heathers), Donna Murphy (two-time Tony winner, Passion, The King and I), Thom Sesma (Pacific Overtures, Man of La Mancha), Barbara Walsh (Tony nominee, Falsettos; Company), Nina White (Kimberly Akimbo), Jacob Keith Watson (Merrily We Roll Along, Carousel), and Karen Ziemba (Tony winner, Contact).

The evening will feature the original Jonathan Tunick orchestrations played by a thirty-piece orchestra, and will also feature a selection of Michael Bennett’s original choreography restaged by original cast member Mary Jane Houdina.

This unique concert series features a different lineup of performers for each song, rather than a role portrayed by one actor for the entire evening. Additionally, in lieu of the musical’s book scenes, backstage stories and anecdotes from the creation of the original production are woven between songs.

The evening will be hosted by Kurt Peterson, who originated the role of Young Ben in the 1971 Broadway production, as well as licensing executive and theatre historian Ted Chapin, whose memoir Everything Was Possible is taken from his daily diaries during the pre-Broadway run of Follies, on which he served as intern during his senior year of college.

Follies, book by James Goldman, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, produced originally on Broadway by Harold Prince, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, premiered on Broadway on April 4, 1971, at the Winter Garden Theatre in a production directed by Harold Prince and Michael Bennett, with choreography by Bennett.  The winner of seven Tony Awards, seven Drama Desk Awards, and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for best musical, Follies developed almost immediate cult and legendary status following its closing on July 1, 1972, after playing 522 performances and 12 previews.  Scores of revivals followed on Broadway, in the West End, in regional theaters, and throughout the world.  This concert is presented by special arrangement with Cameron Mackintosh.

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Broadway

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

A TARNISHED TIFFANY — CBS is having a tough month. First, their much-ballyhooed Billy Joel concert -the initial showing- was cut off abruptly while Joel was doing “Piano Man” no less. It was re-run Friday to somewhat meager numbers and, also Friday, CBS canceled their show So Help Me Todd, which was a breath of fresh air in the TV-world. Last year, its debut year, it was a rave and a ratings winner.

CBS has several new shows set for September and the ratings for Todd had fallen dramatically. Now, not that network apparently cares, but there’s been an outpouring of both sympathy and bewilderment for the cancellation and downright hate, if you will. The show starred Marcia Gay Harden and Skylar Austin and was totally unique.

Roger Friedman disparaged the cancellation as well and said it was a perfect Sunday night show – although it would have kept getting pushed back by virtue of CBS-sports.

It was a totally brilliant and innovative show about a mother and a son working together and not always in harmony. An episode Dial M For Margaret (directed by Robin Givens no less) was simply brilliant. To be candid, I think CBS stepped it again – last year it was their canceling East New York with Jimmy Smitsbut stay tuned … sometimes the cancellations are un-canceled and it could just happen with SHMT.

Tiffany no more.

HEART ON — (via Ultimate Classic Rock) Heart kicked off their Royal Flush tour on Saturday at Greenville, South Carolina’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena with support from Cheap trick.

In addition to classics like “Magic Man,” “Straight On” and “Barracuda,” Heart also performed a few of Nancy and Ann Wilson’s respective solo songs, plus covers of Led Zeppelin and David Bowie.

The Royal Flush tour marks Heart’s first extended trek since 2019 and will keep them on the road, primarily in North America, through late September. The rockers will also head to Europe in June and July with Squeeze opening select dates, and they’ll support Def Leppard and Journey on a handful of stadium dates in July and August.

It’s been a turbulent decade for Heart, who haven’t released a studio album since 2016’s Beautiful Broken. Ann and Nancy Wilson put the band on hold that year after Ann’s husband was arrested for allegedly hitting one of Nancy’s children during their 2016 tour.

The sisters mended fences and embarked on the Love Alive tour in 2019, followed by another extended break during which they both released solo albums. However, Nancy Wilson said last June that Heart was working on new material that is “closer to what you would have heard us originally do in the ’70s, late ’70s. So, it’s really fun, it’s just exciting and inspiring.”

Danny Fried

SHORT TAKES — Danny Fried’s Sweet Mary Jane stage-presentation never got off the ground, sadly. What with the proliferation of weed shops and weed culture;it’d would have fit right in …

Johnny Rzeznik

Funny to see Travis Kelce say ‘when her album drops.’ Wonder if he even knew what that meant before he met her … Johnny Rzeznik’s song “Iris” (1998 from the movie City of Angels) has got to be one of the most beautiful songs ever. He teamed up with Daryl Hall for a duet on it for Daryl’s House.Just amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPlg6aSFzg0

Hannah Waddingham

Great Hannah Waddingham profile on Sunday’s Willie Geist gabfest. She’s terrific …

Chris Cuomo

Chris Cuomo back on CNN? With different management now in place there, discussions are indeed being held. He was the station’s #1 air-personality. Sorry Anderson. personally, I loved him … Big news from Rascal Felix Cavaliere later this week … Roger Friedman gave a race to Alicia Key’s Hell’s Kitchen musical: ‘Is a High End Jukebox Musical with Soaring Voices.’ Bravo! … Adios to the New York Post’s TV-man Michael Starr who has been there for 29 years. He used to have a daily column in the paper’s heyday called The Starr Report that was sensational; almost like a mini-Army Archerd. PR-pasha David Salidor got Starr his caricature up on the wall of The Palm on 50th street in NYC near booth 24. He’s done a series of books, including Joey Bishop, William Shatner; Don Rickles;  and his next one is on Rodney Dangerfield. Good man!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Ed Steinberg; Peter Brown; Amanda Naylor; Thomas Silverman; Scott Anderson; Lenny Kalikow; Terry Jastrow; Anne Archer; Sam Rubin; Doug Breitbart; Nosia Mamet; Lush Ice; Kent & Laura Denmark; Felix Cavaliere; Dolly Parton; Melissa Manchester; Mark Bego; Lamar Fike; Obi Steinman; and CHIP!

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Columns

My View: Another Chapter Added To The Great American Songbook by The Jazz Ensemble at The King’s Academy

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A first-class experience. That is the epitome of The King’s Academy (TKA) Jazz Ensemble’s Night of Jazz. From walking the red carpet into the beautiful Page Family Center for Performing Arts to the electrifying buzz in the air from the sold-out audience, everyone knew they were in store for a special evening.

The sound, the look, and the stage presence of the TKA Jazz Ensemble is undeniable as they carry themselves with style, grace, and sophistication as ambassadors of the Great American Songbook. Director of Instrumental Arts Wes Lowe opened the night speaking about the transformative teaching and training happening at TKA and how concerts like this go a long way in creating innovative experiences for the students. This concert was proof that there is something transformative at TKA that sets it apart from the rest.

The night began with the impressive sounds of Julia Drahos as she dazzled the audience with a powerful trumpet solo followed by a remarkable drum solo by Ashton Horne on the opening number “Tiger of San Pedro.” Senior vocalist and Young Artist Award Winner (from The Society for the Preservation of the Great American Songbook) Maddie Begin took the audience on a musical journey with stunning renditions of “Feeling Good” and “But the World Goes Round.” The way she flawlessly sung these difficult numbers goes to show that she will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Junior vocalist Ella Garcia sung a beautiful cover of the Etta James classic, “At Last.” Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, another Julia, trombonist Julia Basile, completely owned the stage with precision, presence, and power with her rendition of the Latin standard Black Orpheus. Hadiya Stewart, a bassist extraordinaire and another Young Artist Award Winner, had everyone grooving to the sounds of “Ziggy Strut,” a newly commissioned piece written specifically for her by TKA Composer-In-Residence, Mark Taylor.

This Night of Jazz concert continued to crescendo to the point that many in attendance had been waiting for. Sometimes a beautiful voice that is delivered with authenticity and experience is all you need. In the case of Nashville based Wendy Moten, things went well beyond expectation when she added her talent to the teaching at The King’s Academy as their Artist-In-Residence. Wendy Moten captivated the audience from the moment she stepped on the stage to the Stevie Wonder classic “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” Whether it has her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I have Nothing,” a gospel hymn like “How Great Thou Art,” or an Aretha Franklin classic “Ain’t No Way,” Moten’s voice that night was a bright and transcendent light that gave all that listened hope to hold on to through those songs.

Wendy not only has massive vocal chops, but a heart for music and those young people who will become the future. That was on full display as she dueted the Natalie Cole classic “This Will Be an Everlasting Love” with Maddie Begin and dueted “Sir Duke” with TKA Jazz Alumnus, Mikayla Smith. The soulful and moving voice of Wendy Moten along with the first-rate players of TKA Jazz Ensemble made this year’s Night of Jazz a night to remember. The combination of this band with this balladeer made for a musical moment in time no one wanted to end.

Many in attendance for this sold-out show were there as fans from Wendy’s appearance on NBC’s The Voice in 2021. Many were also aware of Wendy’s collaborations with fellow luminaries like Julio Iglesias, Michael McDonald, Kirk Whalum, Vince Gill, and Blake Shelton, just to name a few. But her collaboration that night with the students of The King’s Academy Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Wes Lowe was both a sight and sound to behold. This year’s Night of Jazz was more than just a concert. It felt like a chapter had been gracefully added to the Great American Songbook.

HTE KING’S ACADEMY JAZZ ENSEMBLE

WES LOWE

WENDY MOTEN & MADDIE BEGIN

WENDY MOTEN & MIKAYLA SMITH

WENDY MOTEN & JULIA BASILE

MADDIE BEGIN

HADIYA STEWAR

ASHTON HORNE

WENDY MOTEN & MICKEY SMITH

WENDY MOTEN & MICKEY SMITH

ELLA GARCIA

ELLA GARCIA

WENDY MOTEN & MIKAYLA SMITH

SAXOPHONES

TRUMPETS

WENDY MOTEN

SAXOPHONES

WENDY MOTEN & MADDIE BEGIN

WES LOWE & THE JAZZ ENSEMBLE

 

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Cabaret

Adrienne Haan Sings Cabaret Francais at The Triad

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You don’t need to know French to feel the words that Adrienne Haan sings in the recent incarnation of her show, Cabaret Francais, that she performed on April 16th at The Triad. I don’t have any knowledge of the French language (my high school Spanish from almost 40 years ago can help me order a cerzeva fria in a Mexican saloon) but even without understanding the words, when Ms Haan sings you know why French is categorized as a romance language.

Adrienne enjoys telling stories

A Wistful Look

Ms Haan is accompanied by her wonderful pianist Richard Danley, who she has had a successful partnership for over 22 years. He opens the evening with a lovely overture until Adrienne is introduced on to stage in another beautiful wardrobe creation of sparkling red. Singing the songL’Accordéoniste, (The Accordionist in English), she is greeted by the sold out audience with applause and appreciation. Adrienne returns the joy as she walks into the crowd, getting them to join in with claps as she sings Milord. As she breaks into her Edith Piaf section, she also gets the room singing with her on the very passionate tune, Padam Padam.

Enjoying the crowd

Singing to a sold out audience

Adrienne always tries to educate her audiences and true to form, tells us about Edith Piaf, raised in a bordello and singing in the streets at 14; but rising to be the world famous chanteuse. She also surprises and while she sang the famous La Vie en Rose, a woman rose from her seat and began to sing along. The lovely Brittany Baratz Yeshion joined Adrienne, singing the tune in English as Ms Haan continued in French. The two singers met at a musical reading, playing mother and daughter and they continued this connection as they sang a bilingual edition of Cole Porter’s I Love Paris.

Brittany Baratz surprised the room as she rose from her seat to sing

Brittany made it on stage to sing La Vie En Rose

Moving on from Edith Piaf, Adrienne continued telling stories and singing tunes from famous composers of French tunes (regardless of whether they were French or not). Egyptian born, French loving composer Georges Moustaki wrote Ma Liberte. Moustaki was Jewish and both France and Israel felt a connection with this song and Ms Haan sang the tune in two languages French and Yiddish; both to the audience’s delight.

Brittany and Adrienne a bilingual duet

Feeling the song

Belgian composer, Jacque Brel, was up next as she sang a thrilling rendition of Le Port D’Amsterdam, and a passionate Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don’t Leave Me in English). While these tunes may not be familiar with many in the crowd, Michel Legrand’s Windmills of Your Mind (Les Moulins de mon Coeur), the Academy Award winning song from the film The Thomas Crown Affair is recognizable in either French or English and the sell out crowd appreciated Ms Haan’s interpretation.

Richard Danley and Ms Haan have worked together for 22 years

Adrienne uses all parts of the stage

Charles Aznavour, the French singer/songwriter of Armenian decent, who wrote over 1,000 songs was represented in the evening with For Me! Formidable! and La Boheme, both love songs with very different tones and meanings. So many wonderful songs from Brel, Legrand and Aznavour – a tie vote from the audience on who is their favorite.

The final song left No Regrets

Adrienne’s special guest, Brittany joined her on stage for the closing number, Non, je ne regrette rien, another Edith Piaf song written by Charles Dumont, Michel Vaucaire. The duet in English and French summed up the feeling of the audience – absolutely no regrets for attending a wonderful night of song and stories.

A raucus song about Amsterdam

Adrienne is truly an entertaining performer who always brings surprises to every show and if you haven’t seen her yet she is returning to the Triad on May 21, when she will be performing Between Fire & Ice – A Weimar Berlin Cabaret. I know I will be there.

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