Theatre News: The Drama Desk Awards, Public Theatre, the [title of show] show and Songs for Our City, a Songwriting Challenge
The Drama Desk Board voted to institute a new award recognizing individual achievement over the course of a substantial career in New York City theater. The hope was that this award, which will be determined annually by the Board, would go in its first year to director/producer/writer Harold S. Prince, who died on July 31, 2019.
The plans for this new award were delayed due to New York City’s lockdown. The Board has announced that Mr. Prince – not only an innovator in American musical theater but also a mentor to an untold number of younger artists and theater-business professionals – is the first recipient, and that this honor will be presented to his family as part of the Drama Desk Awards celebration on May 31st.
Further, the Board is announcing that this annual accolade for outstanding contributions over a lifetime will be called the Drama Desk Harold Prince Award. Although this first presentation is to a person no longer living, the Board’s aim is to honor pivotal figures in the theater while they are still alive.
The 65th Annual Drama Desk Awards will be announced during a special presentation of Spectrum News NY1’s On Stage on Sunday, May 31, at 7:30 pm. The awards special also will stream on NY1.com and DramaDeskAwards.com. Additional details will be forthcoming.
RSVP for free to WE ARE ONE PUBLIC, a one night only virtual event on June 1st, to support The Public Theater, and you’ll be automatically entered into a raffle to win a $100 Seamless eGift Card. Seamless – how New York still eats. At 7:15PM Cocktail Reception**, 8PM Performance, Post-performance Dance Party with a dress code that demands virtually stunning. Streaming on The Public’s website, YouTube, and Facebook.
Hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, directed by Kenny Leon, with musical direction by by Ted Sperling The evening will feature performances and more from artists like Antonio Banderas, Laura Benanti, Kim Blanck, Ally Bonino, Danielle Brooks, Glenn Close, Jenn Colella, Elvis Costello, Claire Danes, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Holly Gould, Danai Gurira, Anne Hathaway,Stephanie Hsu, Oscar Isaac, Nikki M. James, John Leguizamo, Audra McDonald, Grace McLean, Sandra Oh, Mia Pak, David Hyde Pierce, Philippa Soo, Trudie Styler & Sting, Will Swenson, Shaina Taub, Kuhoo Verma, Ada Westfall, Kate Wetherhead, and more.
*To enter the Seamless $100 eGift Card Raffle, between May 1, 2020 at 12PM EST and June 5, 2020 at 7:59PM EST, RSVP or donate to WE ARE ONE PUBLIC. All RSVPs and donations are automatically entered into the Raffle. No purchase, payment or donation is necessary to enter the Raffle. Making a donation will not increase your chances of winning. Only one (1) entry per person, household and email address permitted. The raffle is open to U.S. residents 21 yrs of age or older. For complete rules visit our Terms and Conditions. **Please note, invitations to pre-show cocktail reception rooms are based on giving level.
Vineyard Theatre Artistic Directors Douglas Aibel and Sarah Stern announce that the show – the [title of show] show Vineyard Theatre Virtual Variety Show show! – must go on! With the initial goal of raising $100,000 by May 15, The Campaign For Right Now was established to help fund The Vineyard’s commitment to paying artist and staff salaries and health benefits during this closure, while continuing to create and develop new work with its artists and students in online rehearsal rooms.
Thanks to the generosity of nearly 500 individual donors and “tossers,” the[title of show] team, Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, and Jeff Bowen, will host the [title of show] show Vineyard Theatre Virtual Variety Show show! on Saturday, May 30 at 8:00 pm ET. The show is directed by Michael Berresse with musical direction by Larry Pressgrove and edited by Matt Vogel.
In the spirit of a classic variety show, the [title of show] show Vineyard Theatre Virtual Variety Show show! will feature new material from the cast and creators of [title of show] and Now. Here. This., and renowned special guest artists from theatre, film and television sharing performances, sketches, reflections, special quarantine talents, and more.
The line-up of special guests includes Bill Irwin, Cheyenne Jackson, Linda Lavin, Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson, Steven Pasquale andPhillipa Soo, Zachary Quinto, Brooke Shields, The Lopez Family Singers (Bobby Lopez and KristenAnderson-Lopez and Family), and more to be announced soon.
Access to the show is available with a donation of $25 or more made before 12:00 pm ET on Saturday, May 30 through this link: https://donate.onecause.com/vineyardtheatre. Donors will receive a registration email followed by a pre-show email with an exclusive link sent an hour before performance time to stream the show.
The Times Square Alliance announced today the first ever Songs for Our City, a songwriting challenge commissioning new original music from Broadway actors and composers in response to the current COVID-19 crisis, in order to both support artists during this time and provide a unique and interactive way for audiences to enjoy new music while in-person events are on pause.
Twenty-seven artists, including Alice Ripley, Ethan Slater, Rob Rokicki and more, will share their new original songs during a series of concerts that will be live-streamed for free to the public throughout the month of June, culminating in a finale on June 21 as part of Make Music New York. The series will be streamed on the Times Square Alliance’s website and social platforms in partnership with Time Out New York, as a part of their recently launched Love Local campaign. All participants will receive a stipend from the Times Square Alliance, and finalists will receive additional cash prizes. The concerts will also raise funds for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund, which provides urgent resources to those within the performing arts community.
The artists participating in Songs for Our City are previous performers from the Broadway Buskers concert series, which showcases Broadway performers’ original music through free concerts in the Times Square pedestrian plazas as part of the Alliance’s annual free public programming. Events for this summer were originally planned to begin as early as May but have been delayed due to the ongoing crisis.
“As the entity responsible for taking care of and celebrating the Theater District, this is a symbolic and simple way for us to continue to showcase and support Broadway performers who create their own original work throughout June,” said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance.
“Our friends in the theater community are remarkably talented even beyond their night jobs on Broadway, and we’ve been lucky to have some of them share their singer-songwriter side during the past two seasons of Broadway Buskers. With the halt of performances, we wanted to find a way to support our community while providing an outlet for their incredible creative energy. We are so excited to offer a platform for them to continue sharing their music with the world,” said Sophie Aung, Programming Manager of the Times Square Alliance.
Each songwriter participant will write and perform a new song about community, the Theater District, or their memories on Broadway. Participants include: Leslie Becker; Sam Carner, Derek Gregor, and Selda Sahin; Jaime Cepero; Lauren Elder; Drew Gasparini; John Arthur Greene; F Michael Haynie; Marcus Paul James; Donnie Kehr; John Krause; Janet Krupin; Molly and the Memphis Thunder; Anthony Norman; Alexander Sage Oyen; Alice Ripley; Rob Rokicki; Jennifer Sánchez; Max Sangerman; Heath Saunders; Dru Serkes; Ethan Slater; Starbird & the Phoenix; Will Taylor; Will Van Dyke & Jeff Talbott; Joel Waggoner; Mike Wartella; and Tim Young. The series will be hosted by Broadway Buskers host & curator Ben Cameron.
Songs for Our City will take place over seven concerts in June. The initial six concerts will feature participants performing their new songs, and will allow for audience members to vote to send one participant from each concert into the finale. During the finale, audiences will also be able to vote for their favorite participant to receive the Audience Choice Award. The final concert will take place on June 21, 2020, and will be judged by a panel of esteemed Broadway and music industry notables to determine a winner. Judges will be announced at a later date.
The concerts will be streamed live at 7:05PM EDT at TSQ.org/Songs, immediately following the collective applause for essential workers in NYC, on the following dates:
Tuesday, June 2nd
Wednesday, June 3rd
Tuesday, June 9th
Wednesday, June 10th
Tuesday, June 16th
Wednesday, June 17th
Sunday, June 21st (Finale)
SO LONG, FAREWELL — I’ve been a TV-guy for decades; from Mary Tyler Moore; MASH; The X-Files and Seinfeld on down; I’ve seen great shows fall low with just terribly written finales, but the final-Ted Lasso episode this week was nothing short of brilliant. The acting, the writing, the joie de vivre off the charts.
Joie de vivre literally translates into the joy of living and the three seasons of Ted Lasso were all just sensational in every way. Sure, there were some standout episodes (Beard After Hours), but Jason Sudeikis and gang were always just wonderful. Some pundits said that this third season ran off the rails a bit, but this last episode neatly tied them all up. And I’d be remiss in not mentioning the brilliant music that accompanied each and every episode; from The Monkees’ “Sometime In The Morning” to the new Ed Sheeran record which debuted in this last episode. Just so neatly done.
I’ll tell you what I really liked from the get-go was the fact that this episode began after Ted clearly told Rebecca he was going home in the last episode. The fact that they didn’t show it, made it a lot easier to digest. Hannah Waddingham is a star and she had her moment with Ted, in the seats, asking him one more time to stay.
She’s going to be as huge star, so get ready to see a lot more of her.
Brett Goldstein too (Roy Kent) was just tremendous. He’s huge already!
Roy Kent became the new coach of AFC Richmond with Nate as an able assistant. Ted Crimm (James Lance) finished his book originally titled The Lasso Way, but Ted after reading it and loving it, wanted a new title. Hence, The Richmond Way.
Just a great episode; a tad longer at 76-minutes, but richly written and acted. I am going to miss this show tremendously.
Utterly brilliant in every way.
MILLI VANILLI — (Via Deadline) A feature doc about controversial pop group Milli Vanilli has been picked up by Paramount +.
The eponymous doc, which tells the story of the duo who were forced to return their Grammy Award for Best New Artist after it was revealed that they didn’t sing on any of their records, is premiering at the Tribeca Festival.
The streamer will launch the doc in the U.S. as well as in Canada, the U.K., Australia, Latin America, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Produced by MRC and MTV Entertainment Studios, Milli Vanilli tells the story of Robert Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan, who became fast friends during their youth in Germany. With Rob coming from a broken home and Fabrice having left an abusive household, they shared a similar upbringing, as well as a future goal: to become famous superstars. In a few short years, their dreams came true. Their first album went platinum six times in 1989, and their hit Girl You Know It’s True sold over 30 million singles worldwide. Rob and Fab became the world’s most popular pop duo in 1990. However, their ascension to success came with a devastating price that ultimately led to their infamous undoing.
“For over 30 years, the story of Milli Vanilli – in particular Rob and Fab – has been reduced to sensational headlines,” said director Luke Korem. “With this documentary, we pull back the curtain on pop music. Featuring interviews with the real singers, record executives, the producer mastermind behind the deception and exclusive interviews with Rob and Fab, we unveil the truth of this complex, exciting and dramatic story. I’m thrilled that Paramount+ shares our vision and will bring this film to audiences around the world.”
“Finally – the true story of Milli Vanilli has been told,” added Fabrice Morvan. “I’m thankful Luke Korem and his team went to the lengths that they did. The journey I returned to during the filming of this documentary didn’t leave any stone unturned. At last I can close this chapter in peace… Get ready to take a walk in our steel-toe boots.”
SHORT TAKES — Nomad’s Flatiron Building looks to be turned into a residential house. Not a bad idea at all. Great address (175 Fifth) and a great location … Brian Lowry, who used to cover TV for Variety, now is at CNN. Great writer and he did a fantastic book on The X-Files years back. Congrats …
Donnie Kehr at Steve Walter’s CuttingRoom Sunday performing his Beautiful Strange album live … As you can well imagine, the reviews for Succession’s finale were just tremendous; both pro and con for certain, The Washington Post ran an interesting piece on the show as well; from a more medical-point of view. I loved it; take a look: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/05/30/succession-wealth-family-life-psychologists/ …
Daryl Easlea: a brilliant writer from the U.K. has a book coming out on Slade entitled Whatever Happened To Slade?Remember them?
Here’s the cover … To close this year’s Tribeca Festival, there will be a special 30th anniversary screening of the film, A Bronx Tale, Saturday, June 17. After the film, Robert DeNiro (who directed the movie), Jane Rosenthal, and Chazz Palminteri will participate in a live conversation with David Remmick, editor of the New Yorker. Definitely one of the major highlights of this year’s fete … (Via Showbiz 411):
Billy Joel is wrapping it up. The Piano Man will end his record-breaking run at Madison Square Garden in July 2024. It will be his 150th monthly show. The whole run has been an incredible success, allowing Billy to stay mostly close to him and bring all his fans to him. At times, he’s strayed to other cities and countries, but every month like clockwork he’s been at the Garden playing his hits to very happy fans. The sold out residency began back in 2014, believe it or not. Billy has outlasted dozens of Broadway shows, some mayors, governors, presidents, etc. The run has been a phenomenon and a stunning success. Joel will turn 75 next May, so that plus the magic 150 number and it all makes sense … Happy Bday Melani Rogers; Ronnie Wood; and David Keeps.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Daryl Easlea; Tony King; David Geffen; Ed Rosenblatt; Glenn Friscia; Jim Burgess; Kent Denmark; Mikael Wood; Lester Bangs; Anne Leighton; Vince Aletti; Fred Goodman; Mark Bego; Mike Greenblatt; Ken Dashow; Jane Rosenthal; Robert DeNiro; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Markos Papadatos; and ZIGGY!
Donnie Kehr Debuts Beautiful Strange Live at The Cutting Room Sunday June 4th
Broadway-journeyman Donnie Kehr will perform exclusively his current album Beautiful Strange (ROB/Jazzheads) this weekend at The Cutting Room in NYC.
Max Sangerman from Broadway’s Beautiful Noise will also be performing.
Kehr’s album released earlier this year has drawn rave reviews from numerous publications and has been a huge draw in Europe.
Adds Kehr, “Says Kehr: “These songs are a reflection; a scrapbook of memories in tune. This album is inspired by people and relationships that profoundly influenced my life. A soul-searching journey to better understand my own heart, the mistakes I’ve made, and the beauty of this strange world we live in.”
Kehr produced the 10-track album himself at Good To Go Studios, NYC. Joining Kehr on backing vocals are Broadway friends including Tituss Burgess (The Little Mermaid; Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt); Kris Coleman (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Eric Krop (Motown: The Musical) and Sam Behr. Guest musicians include Kevin Kuhn (The Who’s Tommy and Lion King) and the late Ted Baker (Steely Dan and Philip Glass).
Kehr who is best known for his Broadway work (Jersey Boys, The Who’s Tommy; Billy Elliot; AIDA; The Mystery of Edwin Drood; The Human Comedy) was a co-founder of the band band Urgent on EMI-Manhattan Records and their album ‘Cast the First Stone’ reached Billboard’s Top 100.
Continues Kehr: “Beautiful Strange has multiple colors of style and crosses over to many genres. I grew up listening and learning from my musical heroes and listeners will hear influences of Sting, Nine Inch Nails, Billy Joel, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel, Elton John & The Beatles.”
Also, an actor his film and TV credits include – Inventing Anna; Z The Beginning of Everything; House of Cards; Gotham; Quanitco; Jersey Boys (directed by Clint Eastwood); Wall Street; Chaplin (with Robert Downey, Jr.). And as a director / producer he is the driving force of the PATH Fund’s annual Rockers On Broadway® Benefit Concert Series, The Greatest Piano Men; and many other events.
FAMILY’S A BITCH-THE END OF SUCCESSION — Sunday’s finale of Succession (HBO) was a mixed bag. I’ll be honest: At first I thought the finale was totally underwhelming, but after some additional thought and reading some other excellent reviews, I’ve come to the point where I now believe it was, pure and simple, how it had to end.
None more so than Joss Stone on “I Put A Spell On You.” What a voice. I’m amazed she’s not bigger; very Janis Joplin.
Also, Gary Clark delivered a blistering, amazing performance on Stevie Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.” No question that he’s the next guitar-wizard. Here they both are: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvO2_noxaXQ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QO2BLAXveVo …
I watched all 9 seasons of the CW’s The Flash and the first 5 were pretty terrific. The remaining ones got poorer and poorer as the original cast disappeared one by one. Grant Gustin, The Flash, was there the whole time, but their finale last week was terribly confusing – save for a song by Tony Award winner Jesse L. Martin (for Rent) – a key member of the original cast. The last two seasons had a myriad of costumed villains, some from the comic, some not, but just wildly messed up. The CW was sold to Nexstar last year and big changes are in their future. Sad … and, CNN is reporting that Universal Music is close to snapping up the rights to the Queen-catalog for $1 billion-plus. Good for them.
Disney had it previously, but Queen’s music is more popular than ever before. It’s a real shame Freddie is not her to share in it. If you wondered the record for the biggest previously was for Bruce Springsteen’s catalog at $500 million.
The Mayor of Motivation interviews Ramon Hervey, Manager & Publicist to the Famous
Ramon Hervey has earned global recognition as a highly regarded entertainment manager, brand consultant & publicist who has represented Richard Pryor, Bette Midler, Paul McCartney, the Bee Gees, Muhammad Ali, Caitlyn Jenner, Quincy Jones, Vanessa Williams, The Commodores with Lionel Richie, the Jacksons with Michael Jackson and a whole lot more A Listers. He is the author of the book…The Fame Game: An Insider’s Playbook for Earning Your 15 minutes.
After having invested 4 decades in playing the fame game, Ramon and I sat down to talk on The Motivation Show podcast.
Ramon, why do you call fame a “game” and why did you choose that word for your book title? “Fame is unpredictable, just as are the results in a game. Everyone has failures. You hope to win, but it is not guaranteed. Only .0065% of over 7 billion people in the world are famous. There are a lot of successful people in the world that never become famous. Fame and success don’t come with a warranty.”
What does Ramon feel about luck playing a role in success and fame? “I think there is a certain amount of luck in what I do. A lot of it is timing. Timing is a form of luck.” One example Ramon gives is when Starbucks started to introduce music in it’s cafes. The first one was Ray Charles, who died shortly thereafter, which skyrocketed sales of his music. That sales surge is what Ramon attributed to luck.
The pursuit of fame…is it mostly a positive goal? “Most people don’t know what fame is til they already become famous. A lot of stars change their mind about what they thought fame was going to be. A lot of people don’t like all the baggage that comes with being famous. The lack of privacy. In my time on the planet, it has definitely changed dramatically over the past ten years.” Ramon points to Social Media and it’s impact on more people having an opportunity to become famous in different ways than were available previously.
Why did Richard Pryor, at the height of his fame, attempt suicide & what was the famous incident which almost killed him that he later confessed to as a suicide attempt? “I managed all of Richard’s missteps. He was probably the #1 black entertainer in the world at that time. It’s not my fame. It’s their fame. I think Richard always felt guilty about his fame. He didn’t think he could live up to the level of fame that he achieved. That created an albatross around his neck. It made him rely on more substances to sedate him and calm himself. He reached the point that he did not want to become that person anymore. For the longest time he said that he didn’t (try to commit suicide), he said it was an accident. Richard always found a way to market his vulnerability. All of his comedy focused on all of his missteps. He had shot all four tires on his Mercedes and told his wife during a fight that you are not going to leave in that car. He put that into his comedy. He did it the exact opposite way of what we would advise which would be to put the incidences behind you. I don’t know anyone else that was as successful as him in marketing all of the things he did wrong.”
When asking Ramon about what type of confident personality one has to have to become famous he says, “I do believe you have to have a big ego and a certain amount of self confidence to be successful. Every famous person I met took a different path to get it and they all loss some level of fame at some point.”
Can you give us an example of someone you managed very well? “I am very proud of my relationship with Bette Midler. She helped to blossom my career. I was never her manager, but I was her publicist. I did work in a management capacity…she didn’t have a manager. I have a great appreciation and fondness for her. Also, working with my ex-wife Vanessa Williams on her crisis management. I did not know her at the time she was embroiled in the Miss America controversy. She resigned here title and I am glad she did. We got married and had three kids together and I managed her career. It took ten years for her to get her life back after she resigned from the Miss America pageant where she was just called Vanessa Williams without alluding to any prior controversy.”
In discussing his earlier years, Ramon shares two musical giants that helped shape his career. “In my book, I try to enlighten people about the trajectory of my own fame. My first client I got to work with was Paul McCartney. My initial task was to put together a press kit. That shaped my next 4 or 5 years when I got an opportunity to work with Quincy Jones who is the first client I brought to Rogers & Cowan who I was working with at the time. He was someone I treasured to be in his presence because he had so many great stories and so much great insight.”
Ramon muses in his book about fame, that the more you get, the harder it is to manage. I asked him if there are any other examples like that. “Probably the worst case scenario was Rick James. He had a very troubled childhood. For him, fame meant he put himself above people. He created a lot of bad blood. The way that he treated people. A lot of people did not want him to win. He always had a great fan base, but I think his fame was toxic for him. He self-destructed. He was obsessed with fame and all the hoopla and perks. He loved being the king of everything. He was very demanding. He did not know how to manage his fame.”
In closing, I ask Ramon, what he is most proud of. “I am proud of my reputation. I have never been sued. I’ve always approached business with a great deal of integrity. I’ve always worked really hard. I’ve always tried to be honest with my clients. Authentic and transparent. I think that is much better than being a yes man.”
So when I think of fame, I think of getting the best table in the best restaurants. I think about people idolizing me. I also think about people interrupting my conversation and my meal for photos and autographs. Do I really want that…or do I just want a nice, quiet, peaceful meal. Hmmm…some food for thought. How about you? Do you want to be part of the Fame Game?
You can listen to Eli’s podcast The Motivation Show on any podcast listening app or use this Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/show/3NVmTDAvGbzooN8TCW7tuN. To contact Eli or to have him speak at your event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LASSO’S MOM CITY — I believe that the best ever episode of Ted Lasso was dropped this week, entitled Mom City. It started off innocently enough with Ted leaving for work and walking right past his mother! He realized it and turned back to her. Turns out she had been in London for a week and was just now seeing Ted.
Also, Harry Nilsson’s “Puppy Song” was a key musical moment in the EP. Harry, we love you!
SHORT TAKES — The #1 iTunes song currently is Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do with It.” Much deserved … Producer Joel Diamond used to live at 220 Central Park South in NYC. His building was torn down and re-built. It is now part of what they call Billionaire’s Road. WSJ-reporter Katherine Clarke’s new book is about just that.. Via Random House, Billionaire’s Row is out on June 13 …
We dropped the name of new Latino-artist Sasha Prendes last time; we just saw a teaser clip for her new video “Shake This.” Check it out here: https://www.sashaprendes.com/video … Micky Dolenz headlined at this week’s Abbey Road On The River and delivered his usual high-octane performance.
He leaves for England this week for the James Burton & Friends/One Night Only event June 4 at London’s Palladium … Terry Jastrow interviewed by Brad Balfour for his podcast this week …
ENDQUOTE: Via Deadline: The View’s Whoopi Goldberg Claims ‘American Idol’ Led To The Downfall of Society. Ouch! Check it out here: https://deadline.com/2023/05/the-view-cohost-whoopi-goldberg-claims-american-idol-led-to-downfall-society-1235380500/ … Happy Bday Buddy Blanch and Bobby Shaw!
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