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Theatre News: Shoshana Bean, New York Theatre Barn, Like Water for Chocolate, The Unfortunates, Forest Whitaker, Phylicia Rashad and Anika Noni Rose

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Shoshana Bean to Present Broadway My Way On BroadwayWorld Events October 23rd

Shoshana Bean

New York Theatre Barn will continue to host weekly free live streams of its New Works Series each Wednesday evening at 7PM ET. Upcoming installments of the series include excerpts from the new musicals The King’s Wife, Love and Southern D!scomfort, Shapeshifters: A Queer Comic Book Musical, Present Perfect and more. Available on New York Theatre Barn’s YouTube channel and Broadway on Demand, the live 45-minute series includes excerpts from two new musicals and a conversation with the writers and creative team.

October 7, 2020 @ 7PM ET

Salem Book, Music and Lyrics by Kira Stone. Directed by Sarna Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George). Featuring live performances by Antonio Cipriano (Jagged Little Pill) and Kira Stone

In Salem, Susannah, Bridget, Miriam, Martha, Rebecca, & Mary are held hostage in a modern day courtroom for their collective trial by judge and jury. We marvel at the mass hysteria, we deliberate, and we ultimately are a part of deciding the fate of these six women. Follow the twists, switchbacks, and real-life discoveries that are made as we speculate: Why did this happen? How did this happen? And, heaven forbid, could it happen again now?

Shapeshifters: A Queer Comic Book Musical. Music and Words by Truth Bachman (Chasing Fear, Farmed). Direction and Development by Zhailon Levingston (TINA: The Tina Turner Musical). Featuring live performances by Truth Bachman 

High school bully and comic book genius, Mel, discovers a hidden plane of existence called Queer Time, simply by drawing scenarios with pen and paper. In Queer Time, Mel joins the ranks of an underground network of Queer and Trans superheroes called The Shapeshifters. As Mel and the Shapeshifters sprint toward uncertain futures, this tribe of queer heroes must rely on community to persist, resist, and survive their living nightmares.

October 14, 2020 @ 7PM ET

Nikki M. James

Love and Southern D!scomfort. Music and Lyrics by Bobby Daye. Book and Lyrics by Monica L. Patton. Directed by Tamara Tunie (NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit). Featuring live performances by Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon, Les Misérables), Ramona Keller (Caroline, Or Change, Brooklyn) and Anthony Wayne (Tootsie, Once On This Island)

When dowager Mrs. Catheine Dejoie, of polite Louisiana society, dies, she leaves the entire estate to her estranged granddaughter, Milla, but only if Milla comes home from her self-imposed, decade-long exile to bury Catherine. Milla reluctantly leaves her life in France and returns to her ancestral home, a sprawling postbellum Southern mansion, and to her mother, a faded alcoholic debutante undone by the burden of bearing the family’s legacy. With the help of the family’s cherished maid, the women begin to repair their relationship until the reconciliation grinds to a sudden halt when a long-held secret is uncovered.

Present Perfect. Music and Additional Spanish Lyrics by Jaime Lozano. Book and Lyrics by Nancy Nachama Cheser. Featuring performances by Mauricio Martínez (On Your Feet!) and Stephanie Lynne Mason  (Fiddler on the Roof)

A young woman steps outside the confines of her insular ultra-Orthodox community in Brooklyn and finds herself as much an immigrant in a new land as the recently arrived students she teaches in her New York Adult English class.  Lives intertwine as each in their own way struggles to belong, find love, and succeed in a new country. Life changes in an instant when an earthquake rocks a village in Peru, sending aftershocks throughout the classroom, and each must decide how far they will go to protect those they love. Present Perfect is a uniquely American story told with a contemporary twist, infectious vitality and a Latin beat. 

October 21, 2020 @ 7PM ET

The King’s Wife Music and Lyrics by Grammy-nominated songwriter Jamie Floyd. Book by Mêlisa Annis. Featuring performances by Jamie Floyd

The King’s Wife is a new musical that uniquely re-tells the relationship between Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, the first two wives of King Henry VIII of England. While historical accounts paint these women as bitter enemies, The King’s Wife (using historic clues) flips the script to tell their tale differently – the story begins with them as like-minded good friends – plotting and executing ideas for the people and the future before they are stripped of choice, options and each other in a devastating game of politics and power. It’s an untraditional period piece with a dark, progressive vibe, and a moving, hopeful story about female friendship and the detriment to the world when great women aren’t allowed to rise.

Metropolis Book, Music and Lyrics by AriDy Nox and Brandon Webster. Featuring performances by Cory Barrow, Taylor Harris, Tyler McKenzie, Max Morter, Caleb Spainhour, Marthaluz Velez and HK Wall

Metropolis is an epic tale that follows the Harmonizer-android-unit turned space-time-continuum anarchist Fari as she is wrenched across space and time. With the Apocalypse hot on her heels in the past and the future, Fari keeps finding herself at the center of world-defining moments. But will she be able to withstand the upheaval? Or will she crack under the pressure?

October 28, 2020 @ 7PM ET

The Clearwaters Lyrics by Sara Wordsworth (In Transit, The Elf on the Shelf). Music by Russ Kaplan (In Transit, The Elf on the Shelf). Book by Daniel John Kelley. Featuring performances by Arielle Jacobs (Aladdin, Wicked) and Zoe Manarel (Matilda, Amazon’s The Dangerous Book for Boys)

Minnesota. March, 1999. Young mother Bethany Clearwater has just inherited a house in the dilapidated factory town of Oak Pines, where she moves with her troubled teenage daughter Belinda. Bethany plans to finally escape their nomadic past and make a fresh start. But when Belinda, just two months away from graduating high school, runs away on her first day of school, Bethany turns to desperate and ridiculous measures to ensure a bright future for her daughter…and maybe a second chance for herself. The Clearwaters is a hilarious and thoughtful exploration into the myth of the American Dream, stolen identity, and a mother and daughter finding their best selves in the unlikeliest of places.

Little Duende: Music and Lyrics by Robi Hager. Book and Lyrics by Georgina Escobar. Featuring performances by Daniele Hager and Briana Lopez

In the land of Elflán, life and beauty flourishes. We meet Adelita, an adventurous and curious young elf eager to find what lies beyond the horizon. When the evil spirit of La Mancha kidnaps her mother and destroys her home, Adelita is forced to travel north to the land of the Hadaseñas in hopes of being reunited with her again. With fairy tales and mythological themes, Little Duende comments on real world matters as it explores the border crisis, dual citizenship and the consequences of a dark family secret.  

The New Works Series is produced and hosted by Jen Sandler and Joe Barros. Since March, the company has presented 24 virtual installments of its New Works Series (among other programming), has presented 50 new musicals, and lifted up the work of 86 writers and over 200 artists. For more information, visit New York Theatre Barn’s website: www.nytheatrebarn.org.

La Santa Cecilia

Producers Tom Hulce and Ira Pittleman announced today that one of the most read and talked-about novels of the late 20th century, Laura Esquivel’s 1989 masterpiece, Like Water For Chocolate, is being developed for the stage as a brand new musical. Featuring entirely original music by the Grammy Award-winning Latin group La Santa Cecilia, with lyrics by La Santa Cecilia & Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes and a book by Lisa Loomer, Like Water For Chocolate will be directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer. 

Tonight, as part of the digital concert event ¡Viva Broadway! Hear Our Voices, La Santa Cecilia will premiere a section of never-before-heard music from the musical. To view this exclusive, sneak peek performance, please visit BroadwayCares.org. 

“In times of waiting many wonderful things happen. Dreams take shape and become voices, harmonies, dance,” Ms. Esquivel said in a statement. “The musical Like Water for Chocolate waited until a group of extraordinary dreamers came together: La Santa Cecilia and Quiara Alegría Hudes, Lisa Loomer and Michael Mayer, and Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman, the ideal group to give voice to the culture that runs through our veins and waited years to be seen and heard. My thanks to all of you for dreaming the dream of a dream.”

One of the most sensual stories ever told, Like Water For Chocolate centers around an epic battle between familial obligation and romantic desire in turn of the century Mexico, while celebrating the rich land’s culture and cuisine like no novel before or since. This feminist fable of tradition, rebellion, and uncontrollable passions has been leaving readers breathless for more than 30 years. The novel has sold millions of copies around the world and has been published in 45 different languages. In 1993, it was adapted into an Award-winning film by the same name, which became the highest-grossing foreign-language film ever released in the United States and Canada at the time. The film earned ten Ariel Awards® including the Best Picture and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award® for Best Foreign Language Film.

SoloChicago Theatre’s hit production of The Unfortunates is now available for viewing on any device through vimeo.com/ondemand/theunfortunates. 24-hour streaming rental is $10. Based on a true story, THE UNFORTUNATES, set in Victorian London, follows Mary-Jane Kelly, a down on her luck “unfortunate.” One night she encounters a stranger alone in her local tavern. Will this mysterious gentleman buy her safety for the night or turn out to be Jack the Ripper? The New York Times called it “haunting and engrossing” and Time Out New York gave the new play 4 stars stating, “It achieves a rare combination of pathos and humor, breathing fresh life into women we might have otherwise think of only as long-dead prey.” Winner of the Gloria Ann Peter and Susan Glaspell playwriting awards, Aoise Stratford’s The Unfortunates is a rich and riveting exploration of an unforgettable moment in time, and a woman who deserves to be remembered for much more than her death. The Unfortunates is performed by Jeff Award nominee Gail Rastorfer, under the direction of Kurt Johns. A hit at the 2013 New York Fringe Festival For more information, visit www.SoloChicagoTheatre.com

Forest Whitaker, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, and More in new Netflix Musical, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

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

Broadway

The Heart of Rock and Roll Meets The Press And Huey Lewis Sings For Me

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Yesterday morning The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new musical based on the soundtrack of Heuy Lewis’s mega hits, met the press corp. In the opening address’s I learned that Heuy Lewis, is now deaf.  In learning that, I wanted to know what soundtrack was now playing in his head. In getting to interview Mr. Lewis I was allowed one question and when I asked, not only did I learned the answer, I was sung to. 

For this video, we started off with that interaction and segue into what happened earlier. With director Gordon Greenberg, introducing John Dossett, McKenzie Kurtz and the cast Josh Breckenridge, F. Michael Haynie, Zoe Jensen, Tamika Lawrence, Raymond J. Lee, John-Michael Lyles, Orville Mendoza, Billy Harrigan Tighe, Mike Baerga, Tommy Bracco, TyNia René Brandon, Olivia Cece, Taylor Marie Daniel, Lindsay Joan, Ross Lekites, Robin Masella, Kara Menendez, Joe Moeller, Jennifer Noble, Fredric Rodriguez Odgaard, Michael Olaribigbe, Kevin Pariseau, Robert Pendilla and Leah Read singing the title song The Heart of Rock and Roll. 

The music supervision, arrangements, and orchestrations by Brian Usifer, musical direction by Will Van Dyke, and the innovative choreography by Lorin Latarro really stood out.

We then in this video interview director Gordon Greenberg, to learn more about what looks to be one fabulous show.

More tomorrow with Corey Cott and the cast and creatives.

The Heart of Rock and Roll, the new musical inspired by the iconic songs of Huey Lewis and The News, will open on Broadway at The James Earl Jones Theatre (138 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036) on Monday, April 22, 2024.

Video and picture by Magda Katz

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Broadway

Maria Friedman Wow’d in Legacy For Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS

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Last night was a night to remember, when three-time Olivier-winning actor Maria Friedman, gave a one-night-only benefit concert at the Hudson Theatre. The concert served as a benefit for Broadway Cares, The Stephen Sondheim Foundation, and The Marvin Hamlisch International Music Awards. Friedman is currently represented at that theatre as the director of the current revival of Merrily We Roll Along.

This was the kind of night you pray about. It was an exquisite pleasure watching someone who understands lyric, musicality and how to keep an audience in the palm of their hand. The performance, titled Legacy: An Evening With Maria Friedman and Friends, focused on the works of Stephen Sondheim, Marvin Hamlisch, and Michel Legrand, as Ms Friedman personally and professional had close relationships with all three artists. Craig Horsley will be writing a review of this outstanding musical night of nirvana.

As I watch enrapt in this performance I remembered six years ago I interviewed Ms. Friedman and saw her sing the definitive “Losing My Mind” from Follies, prior to last night, so I went in search of this. We discussed her show which was about to play at 54 Below, which had played a sold-out London run earlier that year. The show explored the work of composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim and composer Leonard Bernstein. We also talked about her staging of the U.S. premiere of her acclaimed 2012 London revival of Merrily We Roll Along which was currently at the Huntington in Boston, MA starring Eden Espinoza, Damian Humbley and Mark Umbers and a production of Bernstein’s Mass which she had hoped was coming soon.

Friedman made her Broadway debut in 2005 starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White, but she’s spent the majority of her stage career in London’s West End. Among her major roles there was Dot in the first London Sunday in the Park With George, Mary in Merrily We Roll Along, Fosca in Passion (Olivier Award), Sukie in The Witches of Eastwick, Roxie in Chicago, Mother in Ragtime (Olivier Award), Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, and Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. She also played the Narrator in the screen version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Mother Abbess in the U.K.’s The Sound of Music Live!

Thank-you Ms Friedman for a night that will long stand in my memory.

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Off Broadway

The Engaging Double Dare of “The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers” Off-Broadway

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By Dennis W.

When you hear the name Marc Summers you probably already know who the man is. He was on your or your children’s must-see television show for over a decade and was the man who brought slime into your home whether you wanted it or not. Marc Summers rose to television fame by hosting one of the mega-hits of the late 80’s and early 90’s, “Double Dare”  on Nickelodeon who then moved on to many other projects including Food Network’s “Unwrapped“. Now that same television host is bringing his life and slimes to Off-Broadway with a one-man show called, quite naturally, The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers at the New World Stages.

Written by Alex Brightman (Actor, Broadway’s Beetlejuice) with music by Drew Gasparini (Broadway-bound The Karate Kid) and directed by Chad Rabinovitz (National Tour Penn and Teller Presents), Marc jumps right in with what he knows best and what made him a household name; audience participation.  He starts with the chance for some unsuspecting lucky audience members to join the fun, some compete in rain gear holding the promise of getting messy like they used to watch on Nickelodeon. The night I was there the theater was filled with people totally familiar with the show and ready to jump into the middle of flying slime or whipped cream. I’m not sure if you would place me in that group of groupies.

Company of The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers.

Summers is very comfortable as he backtracks his life to young Marc and his hopes and dreams of becoming a TV personality. He very thoughtfully feels that, like one of his idols, he’ll become a magician. Marc the Magician seemed like an appropriate title. Summers breezes along through the first half of the performance as he explains how one job leads to another with some bumps along that road. But Summers always seemed to bounce back and forward landing, in 1995, a hosting gig on Lifetime that changed his life forever.

This is where his tone changes and becomes more serious. He starts talking about when he was diagnosed, live on television, with what was then a mysterious disorder. That moment put the breaks on his career. That was until he was hired to host “Unwrappedon Food Network, which fortunately changed the course of his life and his career.

Summers seems very at home sharing the intimate details of his life even as he tosses in some slime moments with the audience. He also has the help of a sidekick to help with laughs as he plays all kinds of characters from Summers’ mom to his bosses.

Whether you were part of the “Double Daretelevision audience as a child or an “Unwrappedfan, The Life & Slimes of Marc Summers will hold your attention as the story of a man who never gave up when faced with some pretty powerful difficulties. And to top it all off, he really seems as nice in person as he is on television.

For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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Events

Betty Buckley Has Created, Wrote and Narrated The Mayfly, An Animated Short Film

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The Mayfly, Betty Buckley’s animated short film.

Tony Award-winning, stage and screen icon Betty Buckley has created, wrote and narrated The Mayfly, an animated short film that will have its world debut at the prestigious American Documentary and Animation Film Festival in Palm Springs, Calif. on March 24, 2024. Tickets are available to the public HERE 

Animated traditionally in 2D, The Mayfly is the story of Megalyn Mayfly, who goes against all expectations and dedicates her short life to music and dance. Her quest takes her from Central Park West to the Upper East Side’s Carlyle Hotel where she dances her final opus at the elegant Cafe Carlyle.

Inspired by a real event witnessed by Ms. Buckley at a Judy Collins concert at the Café Carlyle in New York City, The Mayflyis a love letter to music and New York City.

Ms. Buckley said, “What I observed was so lovely —a mayfly, dancing as if part of the show itself.  I felt the mayfly’s dance was intentional. And from this experience, the story of Megalyn emerged. It’s a film that I hope encourages us to embrace our passions and break free from societal norms.”

The Mayfly is directed by four-time Emmy-nominee Sue Perrotto (Beavis and Butt-head Do America; Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, Daria).  The music is composed by Grammy-nominated Christian Jacob (Clint Eastwood’s Sully and The 15:17 to Paris). BluBlu Studios is the animation house.

The creative team includes character designer Eugene Salandra, production designer Meryl Rosner and storyboard artist Viki Anderson. Produced by Melissa Coolidge and Bradford Coolidge. Buckley and Perrotto also serve as Executive Producers.

Betty Buckley

Betty Buckley

Betty Buckley is a legendary, multi-award winning actress/singer whose career spans theater, film, television and concert halls around the world.  She is a 2012 Theatre Hall of Fame inductee and the 2017 recipient of the Julie Harris Awards from The Actor’s Fund for Artistic Achievement and received The Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Songbook Association in 2023.

Ms. Buckley co-stars in the film Imaginary for Blumhouse Productions to be released by Lionsgate March 8, 2024.  She co-starred with James McAvoy in the M. Night Shyamalan hit film Split, one of the top international box office hits of 2017.  She received a Saturn Award Nomination for Best Featured Actress for her work in the film.

She won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS and received her second Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a musical for her performance as Hesione in Triumph of Love.  She received an Olivier Award nomination for her critically acclaimed interpretation of Norma Desmond in the London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, which she repeated to more rave reviews on Broadway.

Her other films include her debut in Brian de Palma’s screen version of Stephen King’s Carrie, Bruce Beresford’s Tender Mercies, Roman Polanski’s Frantic, Woody Allen’s Another Woman, Lawrence Kasden’s Wyatt Earp and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening.

Her other Broadway credits include 1776, Pippin, Song and Dance, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Carrie.  She headlined the first National Tour of the new Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! in 2018/2019.

Off-Broadway credits include the world premiere of Horton Foote’s The Old Friends for which she received a Drama Desk Nomination in 2014, White Lies, Lincoln Center’s Elegies, the original NYSF production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Eros Trilogy, Juno’s Swans and I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road.  Regional credits include The Perfectionist, Gypsy, The Threepenny Opera, Camino Real, Buffalo Gal, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Old Friends at Houston’s Alley Theatre and Grey Gardens at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, NY and The Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles in 2016 for which she received an Ovation Award Nomination.

In London, she starred in Promises, Promises for which she was nominated for An Evening Standard Award and in the 2013 British premiere of Dear World.

On television, Buckley has a recurring role on “Law & Order SVU” for NBC and guest starred on the Fox/Warner Bros. TV show “The Cleaning Lady.”  She co-starred in the third season of AMC’s hit series “Preacher” and has guest starred on The CW hit “Supergirl”, the NBC Series “Chicago Med” and ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars.”  For HBO, she has appeared on “Getting On”, “The Leftovers”, “The Pacific” and for three seasons on OZ.  She starred as Abby Bradford in the hit series “Eight is Enough.” She appeared twice on The Kennedy Center Honors and was a guest star in numerous television series, miniseries and films for television including Evergreen, Roses for the Rich and Without a Trace. She has been nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards® for her work on Taking a Stand, an After School special.

In 2022, she released the compilation recording Betty Buckley Sings Stephen Sondheim as a tribute to the late composer. The recording comprises 24 songs Buckley has recorded of Sondheim’s music over the span of her career.  She has recorded 18 CD’s: including Ghostlight, produced by T Bone Burnett released in 2014, Story Songs in 2017 and Hope in 2018.  Buckley tours in concert worldwide with her ensemble of musicians and in 2015 was featured in the Royal Albert Hall concert of Follies, in celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday.

She received a Grammy Nomination for Stars and the Moon, Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar. She received her second Grammy Nomination for the audio book The Diaries of Adam and Eve.

For over forty years, Ms. Buckley has been a teacher of scene study and song interpretation, giving workshops in Manhattan and various universities and performing Arts Conservatories around the country.  She has been a faculty member in the theatre department of the University of Texas at Arlington and teaches regularly at the T. Schreiber Studio in New York City, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX and in Los Angeles, Denver and Oklahoma.

In 2009, Ms. Buckley received the Texas Medal of Arts Award for Theater and was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2007.  In 2015, she was awarded The Stephen Bruton Award by The Lone Star Film Festival for her work in film and music. In 2018, she received the Sarah Siddons Award for outstanding theatrical performance in a Chicago theatrical production. She has two honorary doctorates from The Boston Conservatory and Marymount College and has been honored with three Lifetime Achievement Awards for her contributions to theater from the New England Theater Conference, The Shubert Theater in New Haven and the Terry Schreiber School in NYC.

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Cabaret

My View: David Marino Makes His Debut at Birdland

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Last night David Marino made his debut at the legendary BIRDLAND Jazz Club in the heart of New York City.  It was certainly an exciting night for the charismatic 23 year old who hails from Montreal, Quebec, in Canada. David was a finalist on LA VOIX (The French Canadian Edition of THE VOICE).

Birdland was filled with family, friends and plenty of New York notables, including owner Gianni Valenti and we were treated to standards in English and French and learned about David’s journey with music. A journey that first began when as a child his father played Gershwin’s “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” for him.  He got emotional while telling that story with his Dad there in the audience, and it was quite moving. This kid would appear to have the right stuff for a bright future, and starting out with Billy Stritch as his musical director with some of the best musicians in NYC was an excellent choice for his first time here on 44th street, at an address the entire world knows.  Here are some photos from David’s debut at Birdland.

DAVID MARINO

DAVID MARINO

DAVID MARINO

BILLY STRITCH & DAVID MARINO

DAVID MARINO

DAVID MARINO

DAVID MARINO & RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER

MARILYN MAYE, RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER, EDA SOROKOFF

STEPHEN SOROKOFF, NICOLAS KING, SETH SIKES

RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER, NICOLAS KING, SETH SIKES

SETH SIKES, EDA SOROKOFF, NICOLAS KING

BIRDLAND

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