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Theatre News: Lempicka, Lillias White, J2 Spotlight Musical Theater, The Michael Friedman Collection, 30th Annual New York Cabaret Convention

Theatre News: Lempicka, Lillias White, J2 Spotlight Musical Theater, The Michael Friedman Collection, 30th Annual New York Cabaret Convention

 Lempicka, the sweeping new musical portrait celebrating the gripping true story of renowned artist Tamara de Lempicka, will have its West Coast premiere this spring at La Jolla Playhouse (Christopher Ashley, Artistic Director) prior to a Broadway run during the 2020-2021 season.

Eden Espinosa

Directed by Tony Award winner Rachel Chavkin, Lempicka features book and lyrics by Carson Kreitzer, music by Matt Gould, and choreography by Raja Feather Kelly. 

When it had its world premiere at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2018, it became the must-see musical of the summer.

Amidst the violence of the Russian Revolution, a young painter named Tamara de Lempicka and her aristocrat husband are forced to abandon their luxurious lifestyle and flee to the dubious safety of Paris. Relying on her raw talent and relentless ambition, Tamara claws her way from penniless refugee to in-demand portraitist, earning a place among Parisian high society. Her world is upended once again when she meets Rafaela, a free spirit from the city slums, who introduces Tamara to a new world of decadence and passion. Torn between her new muse and her husband, fighting to leave her mark on an ever-changing world, Tamara must discover the depths of her own strength to survive. 

Spanning decades of political and personal turmoil and told through a thrilling, pop-infused score, Lempicka boldly explores the contradictions of a world in crisis, a woman ahead of her era, and an artist whose time has finally come.

The creative team for Lempicka includes Tony Award nominee Riccardo Hernandez (scenic design), Drama Desk Award winner Anita Yavich (costume design), two-time Tony Award winner Bradley King (lighting design), Tony Award winner Nevin Steinberg (sound design), Cian McCarthy (orchestrations), Remy Kurs (music supervision), and Peter Duchan (creative consultant).

Lillias White 

Tony Award winner Lillias White in a special new holiday concert “A Lillias White Christmas” for three performances this season. The shows will take place on Friday, December 13 at 7:00 PM; Saturday, December 14 at 7:00 PM; and Sunday, December 15 at 9:30 PM. With music direction by James Sampliner (Legally BlondeHoneymoon in VegasPrince of Broadway), the evening will feature Ms. White exploring the canon of great holiday classics from stage, screen, radio, and beyond. She opened the room on Valentine’s Day in 2017 and has returned for the club’s birthday each year since then.

Lillias White is a native of Brooklyn, New York. She has won accolades for her show-stopping performances on the Broadway stage, on television and in films. Lillias won the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Friends of New York and Tony Awards for her role as Sonja in Cy Coleman’s The Life. She garnered a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Funmilayo Anikulapo Kuti in Bill T. Jones’ Fela! Her other Broadway credits include Once on This Island (Asaka), Barnum (Joice Heth), Cats (Grizabella), Chicago (Mama Morton), How to Succeed in Business… (Jonesy), and the 1987 revival of Dreamgirls (Effie). She received the AUDELCO Award for the world premiere of Regina Taylor’s Crowns.

She has appeared in concert halls and night clubs worldwide, including the Sydney Opera House, Singapore Opera House, The Kennedy Center, Bay Area Cabaret, the Boston Pops, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. Lillias won an Emmy Award for her part on “Sesame Street” (Lillian Edwards). On film, Lillias can be seen in Pieces of April (directed by Peter Hedges, Game Six (with Michael Keaton), Nasty BabyThen She Found MeHow the Grinch Stole Christmas, and she can currently be seen on Baz Luhrmann’s “The Get Down” on Netflix. She is also credited for her vocal performance as the lead muse in Disney’s animated movie Hercules.

Lillias White will perform “A Lillias White Christmas” at The Green Room 42 (570 Tenth Avenue at 42nd Street, on the 4th Floor of Yotel) on Friday, December 13 at 7:00 PM; Saturday, December 14 at 7:00 PM; and Sunday, December 15 at 9:30 PM

The newly formed J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company(Jim Jimirro, Executive Producer/Co-Founder; Robert W. Schneider, Artistic Director/Co-Founder) launches its inaugural 2020 season with three musical gems: Seesaw (February 13-23, 2020), No Strings (February 27 – March 8, 2020) and A Class Act (March 12-22, 2020) at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd street).

J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company presents professional revivals of worthy Broadway musicals; in doing so it provides an opportunity for patrons to re-visit these shows and, in some cases, experience them for the first time. The Company chooses shows that it deems deserving of continued exposure. The company, as part of its casting, will introduce audiences to emerging artists within the New York theatrical community; they will work alongside established actors. The productions will include frequent lagniappes✫ designed to enhance audience appreciation of the classic works. ✫Lagniappes: from the Louisiana French, meaning a bonus or a gift. These will include cast talk-backs, visits with the producers, and even interviews with the cast and personnel of the original productions.

The Honorary Board members for the Company are Lynn Ahrens, Jim Brochu, Peter Filichia, Stephen Flaherty, Randy Graff, LaChanze, Donna McKechnie, Mel Miller, James Morgan, Lonny Price, Ken Page, Robbie Rozelle, Stephen Schwartz, and Allyson Tucker-Mitchell.

The inaugural production will be the 1972 musical Seesaw (February 13- February 23, 2020), with book by Michael Bennett, music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, based on the playTwo for the Seesaw by William Gibson. From the composing team of Sweet Charity, Seesaw tells the story of Jerry Ryan, a reserved lawyer from Omaha, who has fled to New York City looking for a change in his life. There he meets Gittel Mosca, a single, loveable lunatic who lives life to the fullest. Will their love affair be able to survive the big, noisy, dirty island known as Manhattan? Songs include: “It’s Not Where You Start,” It’s Where You Finish,” “Welcome to Holiday Inn,” and “Nobody Does It Like Me.” Seesaw is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc., a Concord Theatricals Company. Performances begin Thursday, February 12, 2020 for a limited run through February 23, 2020.

Followed by the 1962 hit musical No Strings, with book by Samuel Taylor and words and music by Richard Rodgers. The only musical for which he wrote both music and lyrics, explores the allure of Paris and its seductive embrace. A successful high-fashion model from Harlem meets and falls in love with an American writer who has made Paris his home. Convinced that their love only needs one another to survive, they embark on a romantic adventure through Europe, clinging to the City of Lights as the harsh reality of America threatens their union. Songs include: “The Sweetest Sounds,” “No Strings,” and “Nobody Told Me.” No Strings is presented through special arrangement with R & H Theatricals: www.rnh.com. Performances begin Thursday, February 27, 2020 for a limited run through March 8, 2020.

Closing out the inaugural season is the 2001 musical A Class Act with book by Linda Kline and Lonny Price, music and lyrics by Edward Kleban. Ed Kleban, the Tony Award winning lyricist of A Chorus Line and one of the unsung champions of Broadway, returns to his own memorial service to set the record straight in A Class Act, this vibrant musical about musicals. A colorful gallery of friends and loved ones in Ed’s life including the relentlessly peppy Marvin Hamlisch and stage wizard Michael Bennett all appear to celebrate Ed’s life, loves, and legacy. Songs include: “Better,” “Paris Through the Window,” and “The Next Best Thing to Love.” A Class Act is presented through special arrangement with R & H Theatricals: www.rnh.com. Performances begin Thursday, March 12, 2020 for a limited run through March 22, 2020.

The J2 Spotlight Musical Theater Company series will play the following performance schedule:Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.

Ghostlight Records and The Civilians have announced that the first three premiere albums of The Michael Friedman Collection, will be available for streaming and download today, Friday, October 18. The Great ImmensityThe Abominables, andThis Beautiful City are all written (or co-written) and directed by Steve Cosson and feature music and lyrics by Michael Friedman.This extraordinary long-term project will eventually comprise the premiere recordings of nine musicals from the beloved late Obie Award-winning songwriter Michael Friedman. For more information, and to stream or download the albums, please visit www.TheMichaelFriedmanCollection.com

The Michael Friedman Collection is made possible by the generous donors to the Michael Friedman Legacy Fund and by the artistic contributions of his many collaborators.

In a combined triumph for the Classic Popular Songbook, its purveyors and adherents, and the professionalism and perseverance of The Mabel Mercer Foundation, the unique organization presents its 30th Annual New York Cabaret Convention at The Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, beginning Monday, October 28th and running through Thursday, October 31st. The four individual concerts will be offered at 6:00 PM each evening, and more than seventy-five vocalists and musicians are scheduled to perform. Tickets are now on sale at the Jazz at Lincoln Center box office and www.jazz.org.

Three of the October shows will honor individuals whose remarkable gifts categorize them as major components of the Classic Popular Songbook legacy. Judy! A Garland of Song includes music and lyrics unforgettably offered on film, stage, and recordings by the legendary Judy Garland. The show will be emceed by CabCon favorite Klea Blackhurst and award-winning Garland documentarian John Fricke. Deborah Grace Winer returns to herald the output of exceptional female songwriters, specifically Dorothy Fields but also including (among others) Betty Comden, Carolyn Leigh, and Peggy Lee in the program The Sunny Side of the Street. Jeff Harnar and Andrea Marcovicci – arguably the Foundation’s most resoundingly popular cohosts – salute the Broadway, Hollywood, and Hit Parade contributions created by Frank Loesser, with an evening entitled Heart and Soul. Finally, KT Sullivan takes stage to present a thrilling and affectionate look-back with Thanks for the Memory: Celebrating 30 Years of Cabaret Conventions as well as forward with fresh new discoveries. Finally, and in addition to “surprise” presentations of the annual Julie Wilson and Donald F. Smith Awards, the Foundation specifically honors Sandy Stewart with this year’s Mabel Mercer Award.

Music

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 and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. Currently she has a screenplay in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She was the Broadway Informer on the all access cable TV Show “The New Yorkers,” soon to be “The Tourist Channel.” email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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