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The Oral History Project Brings PR Maven Irene Gandy Together with Producer Voza Rivers

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The League of Professional Theatre Women (Shellen Lubin and Catherine Porter, Co-Presidents), an organization which has been championing women in the professional theatre for over three decades, is producing an Oral HistoryProject event with renowned Broadway publicist Irene Gandyon Monday, February 10 beginning at 6pm in the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (111 Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street). Admission to the event is FREE and seats are available on a first-come-first-seated basis. Doors will open at 5:30pm. 

The Oral History Project is an ongoing program of the League of Professional Theatre Women in partnership with the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, which chronicles and documents the contributions of significant theatre women in all fields. Founded and produced for 26 years by the late Betty Corwin, the Oral History Project is currently produced for the League by Ludovica Villar-Hauser. For the second installment of the Oral History Project’s 2019-2020 season, publicist, producer, and PR maven Irene Gandy will talk about her life and ground breaking career with producer Voza Rivers, Artistic Director of the New Heritage Theatre Group. 

The League of Professional Theatre Women’s Oral HistoryProject has previously featured interviews with such notables as Billie Allen, Kia Corthron, Tyne Daly, Carmen DeLavallade, Christine Ebersole, Angela Lansbury, Baayork Lee, Laura Linney, Patti LuPone, Frances McDormand, Bebe Neuwirth, Chita Rivera, Daryl Roth, Mercedes Ruehl, Paula Vogel, Lynn Nottage, and many other theatrical legends. Annually, the legacies of three theatre women are preserved through the Oral History Project, in which a theatre woman luminary is interviewed by the interviewer of their choice and they discuss their life and career before a live audience. The tapes are then housed in The New York Public Library’s Theatre on Film and Tape Archive.

Irene Gandy is the only black female member of ATPAM (Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers) on Broadway. Since her career began in 1968, she has worked on over 100 Broadway shows. Ms. Gandy was a Tony-Award winning producer on The Gershwin’s’ Porgy and Bess on Broadway and was a producer for Lady Day At Emerson Bar and Grill starring Audra MacDonald. She was also co-producer with Voza Rivers of the National tour of the Tony-nominated South-African musical Sarafina!. Gandy’s recent productions include The Great Society, starring Brian Cox, American Son starring Kerry Washington, China Doll starring Al Pacino, You Can’t Take It With You, starring James Earl Jones, and Sylvia starring Matthew Broderick. In addition to her work in theatre, she was Associate Director of Special Markets for CBS Records, working with such artists as Earth, Wind and Fire, The Jacksons, Patti LaBelle, and many others. Other clients have included Phylicia Rashad and Freddie Jackson. In 2008, she became the first female press agent to be immortalized with a Sardis caricature. She currently works with Jeffrey Richards and Associates.

Voza Rivers is a New York producer, living in Harlem, who has produced some of the most trendsetting works of the 20th century, including works by celebrated South African writer/actor/director Mbongeni Negema: OBIE winner Woza Albert!, TONY nominated Asinamali! and TONY nominated Sarafina! In 1969, Ngema, Hugh Masekela and Rivers were nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Show Album for Sarafina! As an events and special projects producer, Rivers has worked with Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Celia Cruz, Nancy Wilson, Tito Puente, Miriam Makeba, Chaka Kahn and others. Rivers heads Harlem’s 55-year-old theatrical institution New Heritage Theatre Group and has been Executive Producer of HARLEM WEEK for over 45 years. He is also Chairman of the Harlem Arts Alliance, an Arts Service Organization.

The League of Professional Theatre Women (a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization) has been championing women and leading the gender parity conversation in the professional theatre for over three decades. Since its founding, the LPTW’s membership has grown to 500+ theatre artists and practitioners of all backgrounds, across multiple disciplines, working in the commercial and non-profit sectors. To increase visibility of and opportunities for women in the field, the LPTW spearheads public programming, advocacy initiatives, events, media, and publications that raise awareness of the importance of nurturing women’s voices, celebrate industry luminaries, preserve the legacy of historic visionaries, and shine a spotlight on the imperative of striving for gender parity and fostering a diversity of expression, both in the theatre world and the world at large. To find out more about how you can support its endeavors, please visit www.theatrewomen.org

This program is made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. The Oral History Project also enjoys continue support from the Edith Meiser Foundation. 

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

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The Hotel Edison Opulent and Convenient with History

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George Burns and Gracie Allen lived on the 9th floor of The Edison Hotel. Their friend Jack Benny lived on the 4th floor. Moss Hart lived there after his Once in a Lifetime was a Broadway hit. He then moved his parents there until he found them an apartment. The Edison Hotel is featured in the movies “The Godfather” and “Bullets Over Broadway”, so history abounds.

Located at 228 West 47th Street, you are down the street from Six, Hamilton, Prayer for the French Republic and Sweeney Todd. Across the street is the Barrymore Theatre, but all of Broadway and Times Square is a hop, skip and a jump away. Talk about location, location, location.Built in the late 1920’s, Art Deco abounds from the hotel lobby to the lights and the bed spread in the lush rooms. The hotel is elegant and feels like you stepped back in time. My room was spacious with a king-sized bed that was so comfortable, I wish this was a staycation where I could have spent more time catching up on sleep. I also had a small sitting room with a couch, desk and more windows with views.

The rooms are well designed with great features, such as a Keurig coffee maker and coffee, black-out drapes, windows that opened, and a full-marble bathroom. In the bathroom fluffy towels, designer toiletries and a hair dryer awaited me. The spacious shower also had a relaxing rain shower. In the closet a safe, iron, ironing board and fluffy robes.

There were also two flat-screen high-definition smart TVs, Bluetooth-enabled audio, high-speed Wi-Fi which made my life so much easier, and an alarm clock.

The room was ultra clean and to get to it you need a room key, which you also need for the elevator, so you feel incredibly safe.

Another fun fact…when you arrive you will have a personalized note waiting just for you and some lovely snacks, which were highly appreciated considering I had been running all day and needed a pick me up.

Amenities to the hotel are a gym, two fabulous restaurants, a piano bar, complimentary wine and cheese receptions (Tuesday & Friday), with entertainment, as well as complimentary walking tours of the neighborhood.

You would think for this much pampering and convivence this hotel would be overpriced but it is not. There are rooms are the best offer and prices in town.

If you are looking for history, comfort, boutique, friendliness and luxury, this is the perfect place to stay.

The Edison Hotel: 228 West 47th Street

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Going Down The Rabbit Hole To Discover A Fabulous Unheard Treasure of Linda Eder

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In February one of my favorite singers is coming to 54 Below on the 6, 13, & 17. Linda Eder is forever linked to Broadway history via her Theatre World Award winning performance in Jekyll & Hyde. Her concerts sell out and the reason why is her voice is remarkable.

In 2020 she release an album that somehow slipped through my radar. Retro – volume two is full of Broadway and Standards. There are 17 tracks on the CD. Most are written by Frank Wildhorn with the exception of four tracks. There are two pop tracks, one written by Frank Wildhorn and one written by Jake Wildhorn. She recorded the vocals for four of the tracks at home by herself due to social distancing. This CD is only available at LindaEder.com.

Guest stars on the CD are Will Lee and Michael Lanning. Songs from Bonnie & Clyde, Svengali, Tears of Heaven, Havana andThe Last Five Years are heard here.

I can not believe this slipped through the cracks, but thrilled to find it. Can’t wait to see her at 54 Below.

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Celebrating Love in Times Square

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There’s no better place to say “I love you” than Times Square. On Valentine’s Day 2024, New Yorkers and visitors alike will once again declare their love and celebrate their relationships at the Crossroads of the World through surprise proposals, weddings in the heart of Times Square, and a Vow Renewal Ceremony on Duffy Square’s iconic Red Steps.

Want to participate? Click here for proposals. Click here to get married and click here to renew your vows.

 

 

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Cabaret

Felicia Finley Shines in From Backwoods to Broadway

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As Broadway veteran Felicia Finley proves in her one woman cabaret show, From Backwoods to Broadway, which she showcased at The Green Room 42 in NYC this week, you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. And that’s a very good thing!

Ms. Finley chronicles her lifelong journey from her Appalacian roots to the Great White Way in a program of emotionally powerful songs spanning both worlds with vocal mastery and personal passion.

She began her journey as a performer when she started singing at age four. Her first big break came at age nine, when she was cast in the Broadway company of Annie…and her first big heartbreak came when the show closed the very next weekend. Her early career was a roller coaster of promising opportunities and dashed hopes. She might have co-starred in the film of Gypsy opposite Bette Midler had five foot one Ms. Midler not refused to stand on a box to look Ms. Findley in the eye. But that’s show biz.

Finally her talent prevailed. She made her Broadway debut in Smokey Joe’s Café, before going on to play Amnaris in Aida, April in the original cast of The Life, and to create the role of Linda in The Wedding Singer.


Along the way, Ms. Finley has never lost track of her gospel roots, or her love for Patsy Kline. Her rendition of “Sweet Dreams”, one of Patsy’s big hits, was a highlight of the evening, flavored with the smoky sound that makes Ms. Finley’s voice so distinctive. Not surprisingly, Ms. Finley won a “Best Actor” award for portraying Ms. Kline in A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline at the Meadowbrook Theatre in Rochester, NY.

Ms. Finley was ably accompanied for this performance by her talented musical director, Michael McBride.

Under the direction of JoAnne Zielinski, From Backwoods to Broadway is like spending a welcoming evening in the intimate warmth of Ms. Finleys living room.  The next chance you get to see her, dont miss her.

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Sing Your Heart Out at Baby Grand

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In New York City everyone is a singer and or wants to sing. Well, one of the best places to go for karaoke is Baby Grand, located at 29 West 17th Street, With three private rooms, a large event space, a large neon sign to light the way and a main stage, you can have the time of your life. Get ready to show that you have what it takes to make it anywhere.

The hours are Sunday-Wednesday 5 pm – 3 am, Thursday-Saturday 5 pm – 4 am so you can sing into the wee morning. For just $2 a song in the main room you can rent a small room (1-5 people) for $50 a hour  a medium room (6-10 people) $75 an hour or for a $100 hour (11-16 people) a large room to party with all your friends.

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