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The Glorious Corner



Des McAnuff

By G. H. Harding

Des McAnuff

TOMMY CAN YOU HEAR ME —(Via San Diego Union-Tribune) Of all the memories that swirl around in Des McAnuff’s mind when he talks about The Who’s Tommy, one recollection in particular rises above the rest.

The date was April 22, 1993, and the director and then-La Jolla Playhouse artistic chief was at the St. James Theatre in Manhattan for the Broadway opening of the Playhouse-bred rock opera.

“I got this call backstage, as I was standing in the wings,” McAnuff recalls now.

On the line: Pete Townshend, the Who guitarist and principal composer of the 1969 Tommy album upon which the musical was based, as well as McAnuff’s close collaborator on the show.

“He said, ‘This is just a love call,’” McAnuff says of Townshend, who had been in the audience for the performance. “He said: ‘I just want to thank you. You’ve helped me create my renaissance.”

“It was such a beautiful moment in my life.”

More than a quarter-century later, McAnuff and Townshend revisited some of that Tommy glory, as the Playhouse Monday night held a benefit concert performance of the musical that was birthed at the theater originally in 1992.

The event reunited a big contingent of original cast members from the Playhouse and New York productions, including the Broadway stars Michael Cerveris (as the “deaf, dumb and blind kid” turned pinball wizard of the title), Alice Ripley and Christian Hoff, along with Jonathan Dokuchitz, Cheryl Freeman, Paul Kandel, Donnie Kehr, Norm Lewis, Michael McElroy and Lee Morgan.

Donnie Kehr

Tommy has stayed close to McAnuff’s heart over the years, even through such seismic events as the massive Broadway success of the Playhouse-bred Jersey Boys and the director’s subsequent move to Canada’s Stratford Festival as artistic chief, where he stayed until 2012 (and where he returned to stage Tommy the following year, with Nolan in the cast).

He and Townshend, who co-wrote the musical’s book, have likewise stayed close. (Both won Tony Awards for their work on the show.)

“I still see him all the time,” McAnuff says of the rocker. “He’s the best. He’s wondrously generous — not only a great artist but a terrific collaborator.”

McAnuff adds with a laugh: “I asked him what makes him such a great collaborator, and he said: “Surviving The Who!”

For McAnuff, “Tommy” became a major inspiration and influence early on in life.

He had just turned 17 and was in a budding rock band when, at the close of a basement rehearsal session one day, a friend who handled the group’s sound said: “I’ve got this new Who album.”

As McAnuff recalls it: “We were intending to sit down and listen to just a couple of cuts. And we stayed there, all of us, and listened to the whole thing. I think it had a huge effect on me.

“I think, more importantly, the imagery that was in my head made it into the show. I think my concept of the show started with that listening.

“I wrote my first musical fairly soon after that — I would’ve been about 18 — and that was very much influenced by Tommy and also by Hair (which he’d auditioned for at one point). I realized rock music could have a place on stage.”

And when that early musical of McAnuff’s, called Urbania, was produced not long after in Toronto, he recalls with some pride that a prominent local critic wrote: “It’s sometimes reminiscent of The Who’s Tommy.”

Fast forward a couple of decades to July 1991, when McAnuff — who had ignited the Playhouse’s stunning revival eight years earlier, and won a Tony award for directing the La Jolla-bred musical Big River on Broadway — was living in an ocean-view apartment near Windansea Beach in La Jolla.

A call came in from Michael David, one of McAnuff’s partners in the powerhouse producing outfit The Dodgers, who said he wanted to come visit and talk about a project.

“So he came to that beautiful apartment and he said: ‘How would you like to do Tommy?

McAnuff recalls that a contemporary had said of the rock opera: “Nobody could do it onstage the way The Who could do it.”

But McAnuff was hooked on the idea of staging it: “I said to the staff at the Playhouse, ‘He’s completely wrong. We could do that. We could blow the roof off the place.”

That November, McAnuff flew out to meet Townshend in London. Their first encounter was “one of those meetings where there were a lot of managers and other people around. Pete and I were seated together, and we had probably a 10-minute conversation. I had been listening to Tommy over and over in the car but didn’t want to commit to any ideas until I met with him.”

McAnuff then spent the rest of that day (and night) mapping out a detailed vision for the piece. And the following evening, he and Townshend had an intense, one-on-one meeting: “We spent about four hours talking, literally until the wee hours of the morning.

“It was such an inspiring conversation, as you would expect.” And at one point, McAnuff recalls, Townshend stood up and demonstrated how he did a “windmill” — his trademark, straight-armed, legs-splayed strum on the electric guitar.

Says McAnuff: “Here’s somebody who does this for 25,000 people, and he’s doing it for me.”

The Playhouse concert took place in all of the music from Tommy, although it will be presented in a stripped-down form compared with the stage musical, whose use of tech wizardry was groundbreaking for its time.

“We’re crazy enough to attempt to play the entire score,” says McAnuff. “But I want to stress this is a concert. There’s no way in four days (of prep) that we could do it. We could barely stage that show in the seven weeks we spent putting it together in La Jolla. It was a very ambitious piece.

“This is going to be actors at microphones. It’s about hearing Tommy more than seeing it.”

But for fans of the band, the album and the much-loved musical, that just might be plenty.

Fifty Years Ago 

FIFTY YEARS AGO — Last column we told you about the Fifty Years Ago tour-stop at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Stamford, but we also attended last -stop at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Stamford, but we also attended last Thursday’s stop at the beautiful St. George Theater in Staten Island and in Long Island last Saturday night.

Built in 1929, the St. George is simply gorgeous … along the lines of NYC’s Beacon Theater. We actually got there quite easily from lower Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry – which we found out is free – and once there, the theater was a quick five-minute walk. We immediately came upon tour manager Geoff Perren, who couldn’t have been nicer. We met the veteran-tour manager in Stamford and he guided us throughout the cavernous space.

We were invited into the dining area for the entire band and sat with Dolenz-guitarist Wayne Avers. I’ve known Wayne for years and watching him during this show is just sensational. As we mentioned, his solo on Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4″ is just brilliant; but tonight we closely watched his solos –with Todd Rundgren- on Todd’s own “I Saw The Light,” as well as Rudgren’s take on “Helter Skelter,” where Avers used a slide on his guitar.

This show, this night, was just perfect. The sound was as good as we ever heard and you could feel the entire band in sync and firing on all cylinders. The set was essentially the same as as the Ridgefield, but flowed just perfect. Christoper Cross’ guitar work was just spot-on and, his two solo numbers, “Sailing” and “Ride Like The Wind” were definite show highlights.

Dolenz, with his voice sounding better than ever, was just exceptional on “I’m So Tired” and “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” on both shows and  Badfinger’s Joey Molland was in tip-top shape as well with his work on “No Matter What” and the standout “Baby Blue” for both shows.

Rundgren, who was just announced as a nominee for this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was exceptional too, especially his guitar work “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Bassist Jason Scheff, who has a solo album in the works, was terrific as well; especially when he joined in with Cross.

Seen in the aisles were Getty-photographer Bobby Bank; Rudgren-bassist Kasim Sulton; the voice of the Beach Boys Jeffrey Foskett; Broadway Records’ Van Dean; and Dolenz’s PR-man David Salidor. Just Both shows, just exceptional.

Read Markos Papdatos’ review from Digital Journal 

VAN HALEN UPDATE — According to recent rumors, Van Halen’s legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen has been battling with throat cancer for a while, and he’s currently treated for that reason. But there’s no official announcement about the rumors that we’ve been reading for the last three or four days.

Earlier this week, Alternative Nation has shared a new update about Eddie Van Halen’s health status from a former relative of him. Eddie’s ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli’s brother, David Bertinelli has some details about the rumors. Here’s what he said to AN:

“I spoke to Ed less than 2 weeks ago and he sounded good; the same as I have known for over 30 years.

He also sent me a text Thursday thanking my son for the Thank You picture he had drawn for a guitar Ed donated to the school.”

SHORT TAKES — Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam plays this Friday at The Groove in lower-Manhattan … Whatever happened to the Gene Cornish book Good Lovin’ -My Life As A Rascal?  CBS-FM’s Scott Shannon read it and said it was a superior read; we can’t wait to see it … We’re still wait for a copy of Robbie Robertson’s new albumSinematic from Universal’s Sujata Murthy. Even a call to head-honcho Monte Lippman has proved fruitless. Sad, I hear it’s excellent … I’m seeing ads from Harvey Fierstein tub thumping his next Broadway-project Bella Bella (at City Center); yes, on legendary NY-politico Bella Abzug … wow …

Zoe Kravitz

Zoe Kravitz will be Catwoman in the upcoming Matt Reeves The Batman. Kudos … 

Kjersti Long

Broadway Records wunderkind Kjersti Long taped Zach Martin’s Big Fat American Podcast yesterday; with PR-man David Salidor and her father Jeremy in tow …

Elton John, Joni Mitchell

Monday night in Hollywood, Brandi Carlisle performed the entire Joni Mitchell-album Blue. Reports were, it was amazing. Elton John appeared and met up with Mitchell who appeared … Wendy Stuart Kaplan’s film, Rainbow Ending, unspools in the Chelsea Film Festival, this Friday … and, Happy Bday Markos Papadatos!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Roger Friedman; Larry King; Geoff Perren; Billy Jaymes; Randy Alexander; Howard Bloom; Isa Langsam; Carol Ross; Jason Elzy; Marion Perkins; Magda Katz; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Eric Gardner; and, Ziggy!

G. H. Harding is a four decades insider to the entertainment world. He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production He’s worked for record companies; movie companies; video-production companies and several cable outlets. His anonymity is essential in bringing an unbiased view to his writings on pop culture. He is based in NYC.

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Melissa Etherridge My Window A Rock Goddess Spiritual Journey



Oscar and Grammy winner Melissa Etheridge’s autobiographical musical My Window is an informative, riveting, raw, intimate and musically thrilling alsmost 3 hours of entertainment. With 22 albums to her name, Etheridge is a female rock goddess and is on par with Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Ann Wilson, Grace Slick, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks, Debbie Harry and the incomparable Janis Joplin.

I originally saw this show when it opened at New World Stages almost a year ago and Etheridge’s theatrical solo show has only gotten better and tighter. She invites theatergoers into an exhilarating evening of storytelling and music. Starting with her birth, we learn about her childhood in Kansas, groundbreaking career highlights, coming out, her lovers, the drugs she has taken, her spiritual journey, her wives, her kids, cancer and what makes Melissa who she is. She is charming, revealing, illuminating as she bares her heart & soul to all who attend.

Photo by Jenny Anderson

In between learning about this bluesy warrior are her confessional lyrics, the raspy, smoky vocals and classics numbers  like “Like The Way I Do,” “Twisted Off To Paradise,”“I’m the Only One,” “Come to My Window,” “I Want to Come Over”.

Photo by Jenny Anderson

Winning a tiny trophy gave way to winning a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocalist in 1998 and again in 1995. Before that in 1993 Etheridge came out publicly, early on in her career. In 2005 Etheridge took the Grammy stage after having cancer to join in a tribute to Janis Joplin. She appeared hairless. Etheridge also won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2007 for “I Need To Wake Up” for the film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Photo by Jenny Anderson

It turns out Etheridge has always loved musical theatre, as she treated us to a wonderful rendition of “On Broadway.” She did make her Broadway debut in a weeklong stint as St. Jimmy in Green Day’s American Idiot in 2011, but she doesn’t talk about that.

Melissa Etheridge My Window, is wonderfully is written by Etheridge with additional material by Linda Wallem-Etheridge (“Nurse Jackie” showrunner, “That ’70s Show”). The direction by Amy Tinkham is succent and well done.

Everything about this production is well done from the scenic design by Bruce Rodgers, lighting design by Abigail Rosen Holmes, fabulous projection design by Olivia Sebesky and the sound design by Shannon Salmon, which keeps this show clear and clean.

Kate Owens is hysterical as the Roadie/ Stage Manager. This little girl is a star in the making with her rubber face and facial expressions galore. She adds to this show immensely and I definitely want to see more of what she can do.

This is a must see show for anyone LGBTQIA. The message is positive and life affirming. This is a women who owns her talent, charisma and choices, which makes this a joy to watch.

Photo by Jenny Anderson

Melissa Etheridge My Window: Circle In The Square, 235 West 50th Street. Closes November 19th.

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Barry Manilow’s and Bruce Sussman’s Harmony Meets The Press Part 2



Yesterday we told you how the cast and creative’s met the press.

The cast and creatives

In today’s edition hear director Warren Carlyle, Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman describe their show.

Then it was a treat as the cast sang 5 songs from the show. Including “Harmony,” Hungarian Rhapsody,” “Where You Go’ and “Stars in the Night.”

Hear The Harmonists Sean Bell, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen, Eric Peters, Blake Roman and Steven Telsey, along with Chip Zien, Sierra Boggess and Julie Benko.

The hit song of the show will be the gorgeous ballad “Every Single Day” sung by Danny Kornfeld.

Harmony begins previews at the Barrymore Theatre on Wednesday, October 18, ahead of a Monday, November 13 official opening night.

Photo’s by Genevieve Rafter Keddy


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The Glorious Corner



G.H. Harding

JESSE L MARTIN — We caught the debut of Jesse L. Martin’s The Irrational Monday night and really enjoyed it. I’ve been aware of Jesse since his role in Broadway’s Rent and he’s really tremendous. He was great on Law & Order as Ed Green (10 years and 9 seasons); and his role on the CW’s The Flash (as Joe West) was simply terrific.

The show, based on the book by Dan Ariely and created by Arika Mittman, certainly reminds one of The Mentalist or Instinct. This first case isn’t wondrous by any means, but Martin’s charisma carries it all through.

Lauren Holly (NCIS) is in it too, thought her one-scene was over and out in a flash.

I hear the third episode of the show is magnificent, so stay tuned. Don Johnson said many years ago that Don Johnson was made for TV … so is Martin!

Will Swenson and Neil Diamond

SWENSON OUT — (per Deadline) Will Swenson will play his final performance as Neil Diamond in Broadway’s A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical on Sunday, Oct. 29, producers announced today.

A replacement for the starring role will be announced at a future date.

“It’s been the thrill of a lifetime to get to stand in Neil’s shoes,” Swenson said in a statement. “It’s been such an incredible honor to get to know Neil, to tell his powerful story, and bring his amazing songs to Broadway audiences every night. I’m immensely proud of the moving, beautiful show we made. I will miss it very much.”

A reason for Swenson’s departure was not disclosed, but his planned departure date suggests a year-long contract coming to a close: He and the bio-musical began previews at the Broadhurst Theatre last Nov. 2 (official opening was Dec. 4).

“Making A Beautiful Noise with Will Swenson was a deep and wonderful experience,” said director Michael Mayer. “The true affection he has for Neil’s work and life is palpable in every aspect of his tremendous performance. I will miss him terribly, of course, but will always treasure our time together, and very much look forward to the next show we do.”

Swenson has been one of Broadway’s go-to leading men since his breakthrough performance in 2009’s Hair, and he has since starred on the New York stage in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Little Miss Sunshine, Waitress and Assassins, among many other shows.

In addition to Swenson, the cast of A Beautiful Noise features a principal cast of Mark Jacoby as the aged Neil Diamond, Robyn Hurder and Shirine Babb.

The musical includes a score of Diamond’s hits, a book by Anthony McCarten, direction by Mayer, and choreography by Steven Hoggett.

He’s pretty tremendous as Diamond. I didn’t see the show straight away, but absolutely loved it when I did. His exit of kind of short notice … but let’s see what happens.

SHORT TAKES — How about those snappy new graphics for NBC’s Today Show. Introduced a week ago, they certainly look more relevant and certainly more fun. They did the same for Nightly News a week ago. Per TVNewser:The network said the decision to unveil a new logo and graphics for Nightly was made as a way of appealing to younger viewers who primarily consume news using digital media. It’s safe to assume is true for Today, the youngest-skewing of the linear morning shows that boasts a robust digital presence. Here’s their whole story:,effects%20as%20the%20previous%20design%20%E2%80%A6

The Rolling Stones

The next Rolling Stones single, “Sweet Sounds of Heaven,” is tremendous. Mick hasn’t sounded this good in years and Lady Gaga is an added treat. Magnificent! Take a listen:

Donnie Kehr

Donnie Kehr and Cori Gardner’s Rockers On Broadway (their 30th edition) is coming up on Monday, October 16 at SONY Hall. 

Debbie Gibson

Joining honoree Melissa Etheridge will be KT Tunstall and Debbie Gibson, Simon Kirke, Dan Finnerty and Ty Taylor … Happy Bday Chuck Taylor!

NAMES IN THE NEWS –— Anthony Noto; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Paul Lester; Ian Harrison; Magda Katz; Pete Townshend; Miko Blanco; Brad LeBeau; Mal Evans; Derek Taylor; Andrew Sandoval; Rick Rubin; Bill Adler; Cory Robbins; Manny Bella; Race Taylor; Scott Shannon; Buddy Blanch; Steve Walter; Benny Harrison; and BELLA!

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Theatre News: Here We Are, Some Like It Hot, A Beautiful Noise, All The Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented The Villain and The Laramie Project



The curtain rose last tonight on the first performance of the final Stephen Sondheim musical. Here We Are, the new musical from David Ives and Sondheim, is on stage at The Shed’s Griffin Theater (545 W. 30th Street), with an Opening Night on Sunday, October 22, for 15 weeks only.

Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, the cast of Here We Are will feature Francois Battiste, Tracie Bennett, Bobby Cannavale, Micaela Diamond, Amber Gray, Jin Ha, Rachel Bay Jones, Denis O’Hare, Steven Pasquale, David Hyde Pierce, and Jeremy Shamos. The understudies for Here We Are are Adante Carter, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Bradley Dean, Mehry Eslaminia, Adam Harrington, and Bligh Voth.

Here We Are is inspired by two films, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and The Exterminating Angel, by Luis Buñuel.

Here We Are will include choreography by Sam Pinkleton, set design and costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design by Tom Gibbons, orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick, musical supervision and additional arrangements by Alexander Gemignani, hair & make-up design by Wigmaker Associates, and casting by The Telsey Office.

Tickets are on sale on

For each performance, a limited number of $25 tickets will be available via a weekly lottery, which will open for entries on the TodayTix app each Sunday at 12:01 AM for the coming week’s performances and will close at 12:00 PM on the day before each performance. Winners will be notified by push notification and email between 1 – 4 PM on the day before their selected show, and will have 30 minutes to claim their tickets in the app. Entrants may request 1 or 2 tickets, and entry is free and open to all.

Via TodayTix’s mobile rush program, a limited number of $40 same-day rush tickets will be available for that day’s performance of Here We Are at 9:00 AM each day on a first-come, first-served basis. Users can download the app and “unlock” rush tickets by sharing the program on social media ahead of their desired performance day.  

The most award-winning musical of the 2022-2023 season, Some Like It Hot, will play for 13 more weeks through Saturday, December 30, 2023, at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street) before launching a national tour and West End production.

Awarded Best Musical by The Drama League, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle, Some Like It Hot received over 20+ major awards throughout the 2022-2023 season, including four Tony Awards for Best Lead Actor in a Musical (J. Harrison Ghee), Best Choreography (Casey Nicholaw), Best Orchestrations (Charlie Rosen & Bryan Carter) and Best Costumes in a Musical (Gregg Barnes). J. Harrison Ghee made history as the first non-binary performer to take home the Tony Award in their category.

A national tour will launch in September 2024 and a West End production will follow in 2025, produced by The Shubert Organization and Neil Meron in partnership with Ambassador Theatre Group.

At the time of the final performance, the production will have played the Shubert Theatre for over a year, for a total of 483 performances.

Will Swenson and the cast. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Will Swenson, who is electrifying audiences with his star turn in A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical, will play his final performance as ‘Neil Diamond – Then’ at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street) on Sunday, October 29. Casting for the role of ‘Neil Diamond – Then’ will be announced at a future date.

The unofficial commencement of “spooky season” takes place this Friday, September 29, when Tony Award® Nominee and Grammy Award® Winner Patrick Page returns to the New York stage in All The Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented The Villain, a new work created and performed by Mr. Page, based on the villains of William Shakespeare. Directed by Simon Godwin, the solo show will play the DR2 Theatre (103 E 15th Street) beginning Friday, September 29, with an Opening Night set for Monday, October 16, for 14 weeks only.

Tickets are now available at, Telecharge  or by visiting the DR2 Theatre box office (103 E 15th Street).

Julie White

Julie White and Brandon Uranowitz will join Ato Blankson-Wood in a staged benefit reading of The Laramie Project. Moises Kaufman and the Members of Tectonic Theatre Project’s The Laramie Projectwill bedirected by Dustin Wills (Wolf Play, Wet Brain). The event, which will raise funds to support the work of The Trevor Project, will take place on Monday, October 16th at 7:00 PM at Peter Norton Symphony Space, and is being produced by District Productions. Additional casting is soon to be announced. For tickets and more information, visit

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Barry Manilow’s and Bruce Sussman’s Harmony Meets The Press



Harmony, has been in rehearsals for 3 weeks and yesterday morning, they meet the press.

Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow, wrote the original music.

Bruce Sussman

Bruce Sussman, who wrote the book and lyrics

Warren Carlyle

Warren Carlyle

director/choreographer Warren Carlyle

Ken Davenport

and producer Ken Davenport started the show off to a harmonious roll. Harmony begins previews Wednesday, October 18, ahead of a Monday, November 13 official opening night.

Many of the cast are making their Broadway debuts with Harmony, including 5 of the 6 actors playing the Harmonists.

The Harmonists, along with Chip Zien finished out the morning with a performance of the song “Stars in the Night.”

Chip Zien

The production also stars performers Sierra Boggess and Julie Benko.

Sierra Boggess

Julie Benko

Tomorrow meet the men of Harmony

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