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The Glorious Corner

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Madonna (courtesy Bklyn Museum)

MADONNA OPENS IN LONDON  — (via Deadline)  Madonna took to the stage Saturday evening for the first night of her rescheduled tour, and spoke publicly of her recent serious illness, telling her crowd, “I didn’t think I was going to make it.”

On stage at London’s 02 arena, she added, “Neither did my children, that’s why I woke up with them all around me.

“I forgot five days of my life – or my death. But the angels were protecting me. If you want to know my secret, how I survived, I thought, ‘I’ve got to be there for my children. I’ve got to pull through for them.’”

The 65-year-old star segued into an acoustic version of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” When the song reached the lyric “Did you think I’d lay down and die,” she paused and addressed the audience: “Well, did you?”

This was the first night of the tour which had to be rescheduled after Madonna fell seriously ill in June and spent time in intensive care in hospital in New York.

The show took a tour of more than 40 hits from her 40-year career, including “Like a Prayer,” “Holiday” and “Crazy for You.” She opened with “Nothing Really Matters.”

At one point, she had to fill for 10 minutes while the crew struggled with technical problems. During the lull, Madonna regaled the huge crowd with stories from her early days in New York, including her time of living in rehearsal spaces with her band:

“I had no way to take a bath. So I would actually date men who had showers and bathrooms. Those were the days, and that is the truth.”

Later she told the audience, “You will be crucified, you will be vilified, because to age is to sin. I think the most controversial thing I’ve done is to stick around.”

And she shared her sorrow over the situation in Israel and Gaza:

“It’s so painful to witness,” she said. “It breaks my heart to see children suffering, teenagers suffering, elderly people suffering. I’m sure you agree.”

Roger Friedman reported in his SHOWBIZ 411 column that she omits “Like a Virgin,” “Material World,” “Borderline,” and “Papa Don’t Preach,” and performs “Vogue” sitting in a chair. Odd for sure. Stay tuned.

New Cannons

NEW CANNONS — Alternative/electro-pop band Cannons have released “Crush,” the latest track from their forthcoming album Heartbeat Highway due November 10 via Columbia Records. Co-written and co-produced by Cannons  and Jason Evigan (Dua Lipa, Madonna, Maroon 5), “Crush” is a perfectly packaged, dance-floor-ready disco anthem that explores one’s struggle to ignore the intensity of a new flame while further expanding Cannons’ signature sound. Featuring “Crush” as well as lead singles “Desire,” “Bad Tattoo” and “Loving You,” which is top 13 at Alternative radio, Heartbeat Highway takes listeners on a ride through the heart’s ups and downs. The 12-song project follows Cannons’ 2022 album Fever Dream and marks their first collaborations with co-writers and producers in Jason Evigan, Tyler Spry, Mike Elizondo, Mikky Ekko, and Jenn Decilveo on select tracks.  In speaking about today’s release, front-woman Michelle Joy says: “‘Crush’ is an exciting and hopeful song about the rush of new love and all those exciting emotions.” With regards to Heartbeat Highway, she continues: “Buckle up and strap in. We’re taking you on a journey with a bunch of dreamy, catchy and heart felt songs that will have you hitting rewind the moment it’s over.” The band has been on a massive global headline tour previewing songs from the new album to sold-out crowds. After playing Coachella and making their television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in April, ‘The Heartbeat Highway’ tour kicked off in August and has seen Cannons perform some of their largest headline shows to date. After recently wrapping the North American leg, which included a special sold-out hometown show at LA’s Greek Theatre, Cannons are currently overseas for their first-ever performances in Japan and Australia with European dates slated for March 2024.

Joe Cocker: With a Lot of Help from His Friends

SHORT TAKES — Here’s one of the best advance review yet for Mark Bego’s Joe Cocker bio – Joe Cocker: With a Lot of Help from His Friends – to be released next month via Yorkshire Publishing – from Dan Zelinski: Bego pulls into sharp focus a comprehensive concise biography of the life of one of the least understood most culturally iconic singers to emerge from the 1960’s.

Mark Bego

The book sails through time and the choppy waters that made up the life of Joe Cocker. An up-close look at the soul and psyche of an artist that sang from the depths of his being without compromise to the audience, the music press, or his own well-being. While his own demons nearly destroyed him dedication to his art saved him …

Justin Hayward

WOR’s Tom Cuddy caught Justin Hayward at Tarrytown last week and said he was superb. Here’s a shot from Tom of Justin …

Benny Harrison

Benny Harrison at NYC’s Bitter End December 6 officially debuting his Pages solo project … HAPPY BDAY Markos Papadatos!NAMES IN THE NEWS — Howard Jones; Gary Graff; Coati Mundi; Daryl Estrea; Kimberly Cornell; Andrew Sandoval; Anthony Pomes; Rudy Schur;  Stuart Shabman; Mark Alpert; Alan Rothstein; Steve Walter; Peter Abraham; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; James Clash; Ross Bossineau; Alan Pariser; Christ Stainton; Bob Defrin; Deb Caponetta; Melissa Davis; 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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Book Reviews

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Four Award-Winning Musical Theatre Writers Who Turned to Writing Books

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I am so pleased to announce our guest for next Wednesday’s show on April 17th are four award-winning musical theatre writers who turned to writing books.

For a veteran musical theatre dramatist, getting a new musical on is rarely easy, even at the healthiest of times. But when a pandemic stops everything cold—and a restless creative spirit is driven to both keep writing and reach an audience—what can be done? Well, four musical dramatists independently decided to meet the challenge head on with the same answer: Write a book! But their creative paths to near- simultaneous publication would be as unique as the rave-reviewed books themselves. And when they realized that their musical theatre backgrounds cast them as an equally unique quartet…they decided to come full circle back to the theatre community …to tell that story…the story of how their incredible books came to be…which in its way is also a universal story; a story for our time. A story of taking stock, taking a deep breath, taking new steps…and turning the page. Here are our writers:

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David Spencer is an award-winning musical dramatist, author, critic and musical theatre teacher, whose work has been produced in the US, Canada and England. His most well-known credits as lyricist-librettist are two musicals in collaboration with composer Alan Menken: The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, based on the novel by Moredecai Richler (original cast album on Ghostlight Records) and Weird Romance (co-librettist: Alan Brennert; original cast album digital-on-demand from Columbia Masterworks). He made his professional debut writing the acclaimed colloquial English-language adaptation of La Bohème for the Public Theatre; and as composer-lyricist wrote scores and orchestrations for Theatreworks/USA’s young audience versions of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables (librettist-director for both: Rob Barron). His published books are The Musical Theatre Writer’s Survival Guide (Heinemann), the acting edition of Weird Romance (Samuel French)—and, pulpsmith proud, Passing Fancy, an original novel based on the TV series Alien Nation (PocketBooks). He recently completed a draft of his first straight play, Spirit Run (story by him and Jerry James).

David is an ex officio steering committee and faculty member of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, where he taught for over 25 years, and has also taught at HB Studio, Workshop Studio Theater in New York; and Goldsmith’s College and BML in London.

His book is The Novelizers: An Affectionate History of Media Adaptations and Originals, Their Astonishing Authors—and the Art of the Craft

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 Stephen Cole is an award-winning musical theatre writer whose shows have been produced from New York City to London to the Middle East and Australia. His off-Broadway musical with Matthew Ward, After The Fair, was nominated for the Outer Critic’s Circle Award for Best Musical and was subsequently produced in London to great acclaim. The Night Of The Hunter won the prestigious Edward Kleban Award and was produced in New York City, Dallas, and San Francisco, where it was nominated for several Bay Area Theatre Awards. The award-winning 1998 concept CD features Ron Raines, Sally Mayes, and Dorothy Loudon. Saturday Night At Grossinger’s has had successful runs in Texas (starring Gavin MacLeod), Los Angeles, and Florida. Broadway legend Chita Rivera toured in Casper, and Hal Linden and Dee Hoty starred in the world premiere of his musical adaptation of Dodsworth. In 2005, Stephen was commissioned to write Aspire, the first American musical to premiere in the Middle East. This experience resulted in another musical about the creation of that show entitled The Road To Qatar!, produced to rave reviews and awards Off-Broadway, in London, and at the Edinburgh Festival, garnering a Best Musical nomination. Among his other produced shows are Rock Odyssey, which played to hundreds of thousands of kids for ten seasons of productions at the Adrienne Arscht Center in Miami, and Merman’s Apprentice, presented in concert at Birdland in New York City, followed by an all-star cast album on Jay Records, and an acclaimed premiere production in Sonoma, CA in 2019. Stephen’s latest critically acclaimed musical is Goin’ Hollywood. Stephen’s published books include That Book About That Girl and I Could Have Sung All Night, the Marni Nixon story, currently in development as a feature film from Amazon. Stephen has also written several published stories and his real-life friendships with Ethel Merman and Mary Martin resulted in this, his first novel. Visit www.stephencolewriter.org.