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Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated! … What did that mean anyway?

January 30th, 2017 by admin

For a number of generations the above words immediately spark a memory of the theme song to the classic television series Laverne and Shirley.

However, many people are not aware of the origins of this silly, little ditty that Laverne and Shirley sang before every episode.

Schlemiel and Schlimazel are two Yiddish terms often used in a comical, but sometimes biting sense of humor.

A Schlemiel is an inept clumsy person and a Schlimazel is a very unlucky person. There’s a Yiddish saying that translates to a funny way of explaining them both.

A schlemiel is somebody who often spills his soup and a schlimazel is the person it lands on.

Hasenpfeffer is actually a German stew and I have no idea why it is part of this ditty except that when it is all put together you cannot help but laugh at how it sounds. If you are feeling a bit nostalgic here is the YouTube Link to the opening theme.

Humor has existed since the beginning of mankind, and recent scholarship even places it in one of history’s earliest recorded documents, the Old Testament.

For almost all cultures, humor actually springs out of tragedy. It is one of mankind’s original coping mechanisms. In fact, the term “Laughter in the trenches” originated out of the despair on both sides during the bloodiest battles of World War I.

But sometimes humor also springs forth out of innocence and gentleness. Just watch any young child playing and laughing and a smile cannot help but cross your face. I cannot even begin to tell you half the things my granddaughter does that makes us all laugh out loud.

This week, on most of our PBS stations, you too will get a chance to experience humor that springs forth from a joyous, loving place. My guest is Cindy Williams who portrayed Shirley Feeney in Laverne and Shirley.


From the moment Cindy entered our studio she had us in the palm of her hand. She exudes joy, charm, wit and grace and all in her presence could feel it. And, you too cannot help but be taken by this talented actress as we discuss her book Shirley, I Jest!. It is a memoir that proves your attitude about life can get you through the toughest battles we all face.

Whatever it was, we had to laugh at it or we’d try something else until we did!

Cindy Williams – Shirley, I Jest!

Enjoy the show and may you find the humor in even difficult times,


Follow Barry Kibrick on Twitter:


Barry Kibrick Host and Producer of Between the Lines with Barry Kibrick seen on PBS.

11/09/2015 01:17 pm ET | Updated Nov 09, 2016


Menopause the Musical – starring Cindy Williams

at The Shubert Theatre New Haven

February 3-4, 2017  for tickets

or by phone: 203-562-5666

or visit the box office and save on fees — 247 College Street, New Haven


Pink Martini’s China Forbes grew up in an odd household. Her sister made a movie about it

December 9th, 2016 by admin

Maya Forbes and her younger sister China grew up in unusual circumstances. Their father Cameron Forbes was born into a wealthy Boston family — Secretary of State John Kerry is a relative — and suffered from bipolar disorder. Their mother is African American and met her husband when they worked at a public TV station in Boston in the 1960s. Cameron Forbes was hospitalized at times because of his illness but was a strong, loving presence in his daughters’ lives and became their primary caregiver when their mother attended graduate school in New York.

Both women graduated from Harvard University (as did their father) and went into the arts. Maya Forbes became a screenwriter, first for “The Larry Sanders Show” and later for movies (“The Rocker”) and TV miniseries (“The Kennedys”). China Forbes is the lead singer for Pink Martini and a longtime Portland resident who has released a solo album and is studying opera.

Their childhood has been a continuing source of inspiration. China Forbes has written a number of songs about it and Maya Forbes’ new movie “Infinitely Polar Bear” is a lightly fictionalized account of their lives during the period when their mother moved to New York. Mark Ruffalo plays their father, called Cam Stuart in the movie, and Zoe Saldana is their mother. Imogene Wolodarsky, Maya Forbes’ daughter, plays a character based on the young Maya Forbes.

China Forbes, left, and her sister Maya Forbes. Maya Forbes wrote and directed "Infinitely Polar Bear," a movie about their childhood. (Wally Wolodarsky)

China Forbes, left, and her sister Maya Forbes. Maya Forbes wrote and directed “Infinitely Polar Bear,” a movie about their childhood. (Wally Wolodarsky)

The Forbes sisters laughed easily and teased each other affectionately in a joint interview. Maya Forbes started by talking about how long she worked on the script and got it made with the help of J.J. Abrams, the “Star Wars” director.

“I worked on it and worked on it and tried to get the tone right,” Maya Forbes said. “I wanted a tone that would be both poignant and have a lot of pathos to it but also humor. That took me many years, working on it not consistently but working on it and setting it aside, working on it and setting it aside.

“When it was finally finished I got it to J.J. Abrams, who embraced it and wanted to help get it made. Then we got Mark Ruffalo attached and it took some years to get the financing before we finally shot the film.”

I asked Maya Forbes if it was hard to put her feelings aside and write about herself as a character in a movie.

“Well, I never put feelings aside. I put feelings into the script (laughs),” Maya Forbes said. “I wanted to put complicated feelings across — there was a lot of love but also anger and frustration and for me wanting to take care of my father and have him be OK. For him, wanting us to launch into the world, his two girls, but also wanting us to be with him. All of those complicated feelings I put into the movie.”

At this point China Forbes joined the conversation, and Maya Forbes asked her the same question: “China, do you think it was hard for me to do a personal project?”

“No, but it was such a long time coming in your career,” China Forbes said. “I kept expecting you to do something much more personal than you were doing, and when it finally started it was a relief to all of us. I don’t think there was any hesitation about you tackling the subject matter. I don’t think you were holding back at all.”

Maya Forbes: “It definitely was difficult, but I wanted to humanize somebody I loved. I wanted to do this portrait of a person that I loved who suffered from bipolar disorder and some of the things that were hard about it and some that were really great about it.

“He was a person. He was not just a person with an illness; he was a full person, in some ways a bad father and in some ways a wonderful father. Ultimately a wonderful father, I felt, even though when you put those things on paper it might not look like the greatest father. After having children of my own and reflecting on my childhood I felt that I had learned so much from him and from this whole experience that we went through. I evolved as a person, maybe sometimes too quickly, growing up too quickly. But we all go through life wrestling with different emotions and I feel like I learned how to do all that very well.”

I asked China Forbes how it felt to have her sister make a movie out of their lives.

“I was really excited because first of all it’s an amazing experience to sit in a theater and watch something very close to your childhood on the screen,” China Forbes said. “It’s an incredible gift. When I was at Sundance and I saw the movie, the final cut for the first time, it was like a living, breathing photo album of my childhood. Having lost my dad so long ago it was a gift to see him again. I was just captivated and delighted and crying.

“It wasn’t hard for me, I guess because I’m a songwriter and I put my personal life into my songs. For me, it’s just been a joy.”

Maya Forbes’ daughter plays her in the movie. But who could capture the young China Forbes?

Maya: “I did think about that. I thought about her love of purple (laughs).”

China: “I do love purple!”

Maya: “You really loved it then!”

China: “Lavender, a whole lavender outfit!”

Maya: “I certainly wanted to find a little girl who had a lot of flair. The funny thing is that my daughter, who plays my character, reminds me a lot of China when China was little. She’s a performer, and she plays the “me’ part, and I’m not really a performer.”

China: “Although Maya was the lead in ‘Anything Goes.’ She played Reno Sweeney. And you did some theater in high school. You were in ‘The Fantasticks.'”

Maya: “I was a performer, but not now.”

China: “No, not now.”

Maya: “Oh thanks! … Yes, I looked for a little girl with charisma and flair and has the singing/dancing gene, although it’s hard to find someone who can sing as well as China.”

China: “Awww.”

Maya: “And then my mother found out she would be played by Zoe Saldana, who’s such a graceful, wonderful actress — everyone was happy. My father obviously is not alive but I think he would have really hit it off with Mark Ruffalo. That’s not really what you’re going for when you make a personal project — when you ruffle feathers, you ruffle feathers. But I approached the project with such empathy — I was angry at other people at the time we depict in the movie but I’m certainly not angry now. It didn’t dissipate for a long time but I really wrote the movie from a place of really appreciating what everybody had to go through.”

I asked China Forbes whether she felt that her childhood made her a more artistic person.

China: “I do. I think it’s not an accident that we are both artists because I think when you go through that kind of childhood you need to make sense of it for the rest of your life. Expressing it through writing or music is incredibly cathartic. I think I’ll be having my own internal wrestle with that for a lifetime as well.

“When I look back I wouldn’t change a thing. But at the time, of course, when I was 8, I would have changed everything. Maya really captured the embarrassment of living in an apartment where we didn’t want anyone to come over. Now I have a beautiful house and I want everyone to come over. I righted that part of my struggle and become very home-oriented.”

Maya: “Your house is very beautiful, and you’ve taken part of it from our childhood.”

China: “Yeah, it’s like I’ve taken what’s beautiful instead of what was squalid (laughs) and created this bohemian fantasy (laughs).”

Maya Forbes made “Infinitely Polar Bear,” and China Forbes wrote songs about the same period.

China: “Oh yeah, from the beginning. I put out an album in 1995 and there’s a song called ‘Doorways’ that’s about my dad and a song called ‘I Can’t Cry’ about not being able to deal with your emotions. In the movie my character says ‘I don’t cry anymore’ but Maya’s character totally cries. She’s always the emotional gateway to whatever’s happening with our family. She’s the one who experiences it and I’m sheltered by the older sister and shut down from all feelings. Years later I wrote about that and I had to work to try to undo that shutdown I created for myself as a protection.

“And then of course my song ’78,’ which was the title song of my last album, is all about this exact moment when my mom goes to New York, which is what this movie is about. I wrote a song about it and Maya wrote an entire movie about it. Which is typical because she’s the older one and she’s smarter and will write a really long, 90-page version of it and I’ll write a three-paragraph song (laughs).

Maya: “That is not true! But for you to say it is so sweet! … I want to add one thing about why we’re both artists. Our parents did love art — we went to the movies all the time and the theater all the time, and they really encouraged self-expression. It’s not always the greatest when your kids are expressing themselves loudly and obstinately right and left, but I do think my father — both of them — I think they understood that we were going through a difficult situation and it was important to express yourself even though it wasn’t always fun to hear it.”

China: “I remember one time I was playing and singing so loudly that our cat jumped on my back and chased me out of the room. It was speaking for the family, I think. My dad was really nice and he wouldn’t say ‘Shut up!’ But the cat did.”

Maya: “I couldn’t use that! Unfortunately you can’t train a cat … I’m laughing so hard because I witnessed that moment and it was crazy.”

China: “That kitty was so mean.”

By Jeff Baker | The Oregonian/OregonLive The Oregonian July 17, 2015


Pink Martini with China Forbes will be at the Shubert for One Night Only

Friday, December 16, 2016 at 8pm.

For tix:

How Much Does it Cost to Put on a Broadway Show?

May 19th, 2016 by admin

In 1960, when most Broadway shows cost as much as $250,000 to mount, the producers of “The Fantasticks” spent less than $1,000 on the set and just over $500 on costumes, while the set designer, prop master, costumer and lighting designer was one guy, the late Ed Wittstein, who made $25 a week on the gig.

Wittstein was a Broadway veteran also did set design for the Woody Allen movie “Play It Again, Sam.” His last Broadway production was 1980’s “King of Schnorrers.”

But the producers of “The Fantasticks” were creative with a buck, and lucky, since the musical became one of the longest-running on Broadway, meaning the show made both producers and investors plenty of money.

In general, however, the success story of “The Fantasticks” is an anomaly.

Many a local theater company has gone out of business because the costs to put on a show were not recouped at the box office, and even though Mickey Rooney started his career with optimistic “put on a money shotshow” movies, at the end of his career he was putting on shows to celebrate the openings of mid-level department stores, and he died broke.

Big risks, big opportunities That’s ultimately the same lesson offered by Broadway, which can make or break you, depending on how a show is received.

A bad review from New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley can kill a show pretty quickly, according to one theater blogger for “A rave can instantly turn a little show that nobody has heard of into a huge hit, and a pan can usher a promising work straight into obscurity,” the blogger added.

The riskiest shows are musicals, and according to the New York Post, four out of five fail to provide returns to investors.

“Some 21 percent of musical shows recouped their costs while 79 percent did not,” Ken Davenport of Davenport Theatrical Enterprises told the Post. Davenport has produced hits including “Kinky Boots” and “Godspell.” And when it comes to shows in general, the numbers are not much different. An estimated 20 to 30 percent of Broadway shows including musicals, dramas and comedies fail to turn a profit, according to Tim Donahue and Jim Patterson in their 2010 book “Stage Money: The Business of the Professional Theater.”

Of the 343 productions mounted between 1999 and 2008, the two said, only a handful made big money. Just 20 hits accounted for more than 60 percent of the $7 billion made during that time, “The Lion King” and the Mel Brooks musical comedy “The Producers” among them.

Clearly, it’s a bold move to invest in a Broadway show, but if you strike gold, it’s worth it. “It’s a business like venture capital,” Donahue said in an interview with The New Yorker. “It’s high stakes, high risk, very high return if you hit it.”

And while Max Bialystock of “The Producers” thought he had a sure-fire plan for making big bucks on Broadway by staging a sure-fire flop, for most shows, failure means big losses for almost everyone involved, especially given the high costs of mounting a show these days.

Costs of a show: An overview Musicals can run between $10 and $15 million (“The Book of Mormon” cost $9 million, according to the New York Times), but in the case of the problem-plagued “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” producers spent a whopping $79 million – almost $5 million alone on two years’ rent at the Foxwoods Theatre during show delays.

After the show’s three-year run, “Spider-Man” investors – likely beguiled by the involvement of U2’s Bono and The Edge – lost about $60 million. (Another rock star show, Phil Collins’ “Tarzan,” was also a pricy bust. The show cost $16 million to mount, but closed after less than two years, leaving investors holding the (empty) bag.)

“The costs are getting out of control on Broadway,” said veteran Broadway producer Sonia Friedman in a 2011 interview with the New York Times. “On Broadway these days, even with a movie star, it’s very hard to survive.”

Some reported show costs: 2013’s “Rocky” cost approximately $16.5 million to produce. Almost a quarter of that was spent on the set, which according to the New York Post was budgeted at $4.3 million and included a life-sized boxing ring that rises up and over the audience.

Dreamworks spent “$25 million to produce “Shred the Musical,” and are hoping to make up the losses while on tour. Disney’s “The Lion King” cost $20 million before the curtain rose on opening night.

Disney’s first foray into Broadway, “Beauty and the Beast,” cost $17.4 million, but the show ran for 13 years, so the risk paid off.

Costs of ‘Wicked’: A breakdown “Wicked,” a prequel of sorts to “The Wizard of Oz,” cost $14 million to mount, and is one of the rare musicals to become a complete smash hit on Broadway, despite a tepid review from the powerful Ben Brantley. That sum included:

$2.66 million on publicity and marketing (19 percent) $2.38 million on insurance and transportation (17 percent) $2.24 million on actors fees (16 percent) $2.24 million on construction materials (16 percent) $1.96 million on miscellaneous costs (14 percent) $1.40 million on designer frees (10 percent) $1.12 million on director, stage manager and playwright (8 percent)

“Wicked” recouped that initial $40 million investment in 14 months, and has since grossed more than $500 million, only the third show in history to do so.

It costs about $800,000 a week to maintain the show, including actor fees (on Broadway, actors in lead roles make almost $10,000 a week, while those in featured roles make about $3,500 a week), theater rentals – 10 minutes of marquee time at the Orpheum can set you back $250 – and staff salaries, commissions and a host of other costs including incidentals such as makeup and hair care products and staff, costume repairs and royalties.

Still, the show makes more than $1 million a week, so “Wicked” remains profitable, more than a decade after it first opened.

‘Phantom’ on stage In 1988, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” – featuring opulent sets and costumes that rival those of any show – cost Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera cost $12 million to mount.

According to Playbill, the show has used 1,140 tons of dry ice, 1,688,000 flash bulbs for the show’s centerpiece chandelier, 253,200 AAA batteries, 45,760 makeup wedges and 1,020 makeup sticks for the Phantom alone, who requires 90 minutes of prep time prior to each performance.

The show is also the highest-grossing musical on Broadway, and has earned more than $900 million.

Breaking down the show expenditures Rent. Off-Broadway stage rentals run $5,500 to $6,600 per week for a 299-seat house, $7,000 for a 399-seat house, and $8,000 for a 499-seat house. Broadway theater prices can run as high as $20,000 a night.

Rehearsal space. The producers of the Broadway show “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” were paying rental fees for a theater for two years while working through revisions. Add rehearsals and imagine the skyrocketing costs.

Set pieces and props. While community theater productions can pool resources with hand-me-downs and flea-market finds, Broadway audiences expect – and get – much more. The set of “Cabaret,” for example, includes the seedy Kit-Kat Klub as well as Fraulein Schneider’s boarding house, while “The Phantom of the Opera” features scenes both above and below the Paris Opera House where the show is set. And “Wicked” has a set that propels cast members into the sky, making it the second-most expensive of Broadway sets behind “Spider-Man.” The estimated cost of a Broadway show’s set is about $250,000, but costs can run as high at $500,000.

Costumes. Shows such as “Aladdin” or “The Lion King” feature elaborate costumes that the most seasoned costume designers will tell you can take weeks to create. “The Little Mermaid” had myriad costumes as well as a mystical underwater set that helped propel the 2008 show’s initial budget to more than $16 million. Most Broadway shows budget about $50,000 for costumes, but for more elaborate shows, those costs can rise considerably.

Lighting. Lighting costs are about the same as costumes, and average about $50,000, although in the case of “The Phantom of the Opera,” which has so far required more than a million flash bulbs for its centerpiece chandelier, the costs would naturally be much higher.

Hair and makeup. Every night, shows spend about $200 per cast member on hair and makeup, including artists and supplies.

Musicians. The orchestra can cost $75 per hour per musician or more for both performances and rehearsals. Advertising. Broadway often includes television advertising (ever since Bob Fosse became the first to do so when he advertised “Pippin” with an attention-grabbing TV spot), newspaper and magazine ads, online advertising and playbill ads.

The times – and price tags – are changing While the producers of “The Fantasticks” were able to get away with mounting the original production of the show for peanuts, costs have gone up considerably since then.

According to producer Emanuel Azenberg, who brought Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” to Broadway in 1982 for $500,000, said the same show now will cost about $3 million.

“Over the last 25 years, all the costs have spiraled with no constraints,” Azenberg told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “The director’s fee was $25,000 then. It will be $100,000 now. An ad in the Times was $20,000 then; it’s $110,000 now. With payments to the pension fund and health plans, the cost of union labor today is $100 an hour.”

So, how are those costs recouped? While some shows can make up for Broadway losses on tour, for the most part, the consumer is footing the bill. As the cost of mounting a Broadway show has gone up, so have ticket prices.

The average price of a Broadway ticket is $100, according to the Broadway League, and that could price theatergoers out of the market, making it more likely that the most costly shows will have a tough time making up the costs. “I think there’s no question that rising prices on Broadway are problematic,” producer Stephen Hendel told the Los Angeles Times.

“At some point, Broadway shows run the risk of pricing tickets beyond the capacity of many potential audiences,” added the producer, whose credits including the Tony Award-nominated “After Midnight,” “Fela!” and “American Idiot.” So what about the good seats?

“The Book of Mormon” charges more than $475 for its best seats.

“Kinky Boots” ticket prices are almost $350 for high-end seats.

“Wicked” fans who want the best seats in the house will pay $300.

Star power also sends premium seat prices soaring. “A Raisin in the Sun” starred Denzel Washington, which allowed tickets to top out at $348. Washington also appeared in 2010’s “Fences,” a show by August Wilson which offered premium tickets for $351.50 “Betrayal,” starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, sold high-end seats for $423.

The one-man show “Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway” only ran for eight performances, but raked in a record $1,468,189. Tickets for “The Producers” starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick ran as high as $600, especially when the show took home a record 12 Tony Awards, breaking a record previously held by Hello Dolly!” Not only did “The Producers” break the record for the largest single-day box office ticket sales in theater history, earning $3 million in one night, it also broke its own record when Lane and Broderick returned after departing the show, making more than $3.5 million in a single night.

Tickets are so high, Broadway producer Ken Davenport told the Daily Finance’s Mark Acito, because Broadway shows are getting more expensive to produce with every passing year.

“Most Broadway shows cost between $300,000 and $600,000 a week to run, with the bulk of the costs going to advertising and theater rental,” he told Acito. “At 1,500 seats, do the math.”

That doesn’t always sit well with actors who perform for the love of the art.

“Every single year it keeps topping itself,” said Cheyenne Jackson (“Xanadu”) in a Huffington Post interview. “I have mixed feelings about some of the bigger shows in just that the ticket prices are so expensive. … It’s so hard for tourists, when they come here, to pay upwards of $200 a seat. That’s the hard part. But as long as people will pay it, then producers will go ahead and charge it. That’s my biggest gripe right now.”

Author: Brenda Neugent

Article Courtesy of http://www.

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Peter Rabbit Coin May Be The Cutest Ever Minted Beatrix Potter’s fictional bunny stars on a British 50 pence piece

April 15th, 2016 by admin

Peter Rabbit is on the money.

Beloved author Beatrix Potter’s fictional bunny appears on a brand-new 50 pence piece released in Britain on Monday.  Printed in color, Peter wears his iconic blue jacket and appears to have a mischievous glint in his eye. It looks like he’s about to thieve Mr. McGregor’s tasty vegetables. (But it’s probably just the way the metal shines.)

British coin designer Emma Noble designed the limited-edition silver proof coin to mark the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth in 1866. Only 15,000 have been made.peter rabbit coin

The limited-edition coins can be purchased on the Royal Mint website for about $76, but a cheaper, unlimited color version costs about $14 on the same site.

An uncolored version of the coin will go into general circulation later this year with an unlimited mintage, the Royal Mint told The Huffington Post. It will be worth 50 pence, or around 70 cents.

Peter Rabbit coins are available for purchase on the Royal Mint’s website, and come in special boxes. Three more of Potter’s characters will appear on coins later this year to make a four-piece set. Their identities have not yet been revealed. The flip side of each coin features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Noble said she wanted Potter’s illustrations at “the forefront of my design as they are lovely images and the characters are very well known.”  “I felt they were enough to stand alone and I designed them in this way as I thought they would work best for both the colored commemorative and un-colored circulating coins,” she said in a statement. “I really hope people are pleased with them as a set.”  Before the coin’s release, the Royal Mint teased Peter Rabbit fans with this tweet on Sunday:  Noble previously worked on a coin commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Peter Rabbit will also star in a previously unpublished book by Potter, who died at age 77 in 1943, that’s slated for release in September. The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots will include illustrations by Quentin Blake, perhaps best known for illustrating author Roald Dahl’s books.

02/29/2016 10:47 am ET

 Lee MoranTrends Editor, The Huffington Post

Peter Rabbit Tales at the Shubert, Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 1:30pm. 

Tickets On Sale Now!




The Man who Trained Sandy the Dog in ” Annie”! Broadway Animal Trainer Bill Berloni and His Collie Argyle, “There to Put a Smile on Your Face”

March 30th, 2016 by admin

Best in Show — a spotlight on Broadway personalities and their animal companions — continues with animal trainer Bill Berloni, whose furry friends have appeared on Broadway in Annie, Legally Blonde, The Audience, the Bernadette Peters revival of Gypsy and many others. Berloni, whose bloodhounds are part of The Dallas Theater Center’s current world premiere of Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical, is also the subject of the Discovery Family Channel series “From Wags to Riches.”

What is your pet’s name, and is there a story behind it? Bill Berloni: Argyle. I got Argyle from a casting call we held for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 2005. He came from Herding Dog Rescue of Long Island. As a child, I had a dog named Rexie who was my best friend. In my adult professional career, no one wanted a “Lassie” dog, so when I had the opportunity to adopt a collie for a show, I jumped on it.

Breed? Age? BB: Long Haired Collie, 11 years old.

How did you find your pet? BB: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang called for eight dogs to run in a pack that would have been found in the English countryside. I decided to hold an open call and invite all the shelters in the tri-state area to bring dogs, and there was Argyle. He was one of four dogs we adopted that day.

Berloni as a child, with Rexie

Berloni as a child, with Rexie

What is the one thing your pet has eaten that he/she shouldn’t have? BB: By the time Argyle was nine months old, and before we got him, he ate two socks and needed surgery. Knowing that was his history, we made very sure he never got into anything like that.

What person, living or dead, does your pet remind you of and why? BB: Argyle reminds me of the comedian Red Skelton. I remember being a kid and watching his TV show and Red was always kind, helpful — there to put a smile on your face. That is Argyle. Where does your pet sleep? BB: Argyle has a suite in our home where he sleeps with two female dogs who play Sandy. He is their Alpha dog.

Is this your first pet? If not, elaborate? BB: Argyle in not my first pet. As a theatrical animal trainer, I have rescued and owned over 200 animals, all rescues. But Argyle reminds me of my first pet. You never forget you first love.

Do you use a groomer, no groomer? BB: We groom Argyle ourselves. His hair is so long and beautiful if you don’t brush him regularly, he will may badly.

Do you dress your pet? If so, what is his or her favorite, or least favorite thing to wear? BB: We don’t dress Argyle, but you should see the outfits our Legally Blonde chihuahuas have!

Berloni and Argyle

Berloni and Argyle

Best Halloween costume? BB: We put a fake sheepskin on him, and he was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Best trip with your pet? BB: Best trip with Argyle is always Times Square and the bright lights of Broadway.

Favorite Treat? BB: Argyle has Irritable Bowel Syndrome from all the surgeries he had as a pup. He is on a special diet, but a special treat for him is baby food. Yum!

Does your pet do tricks/commands? BB: Besides being trained as an acting dog, he does a great “Lassie” impersonation by holding up a hurt paw.

If you could talk to your pet for five minutes, what would you ask him or her? BB: If I could talk to Argyle for five minutes, I would thank him for being the best dog and taking care of my daughter, Jenna, when she was smaller. She told me he pulled her out of a frozen pond when the ice broke. I would just express my gratitude for taking care of us.

Berloni and Argyle

Berloni and Argyle

Does your pet have a best friend? BB: Argyle’s best friend is my daughter Jenna. He loves me, but took care of the kids first and then came home to me.

Is there a pet product you swear by that you can’t live without? BB: Furimator, a special brush for long hair. It has been so helpful with his coat over these years.

If your pet was a character in a Broadway show, who would that character be? BB: He has been a character in a Broadway show!

If there was one thing you would want people to know about your pet, what would it be? BB: If there was one thing I would want people to know about Argyle is he is the dog everyone wishes they had as a friend.

You and your pet go on a talk show. What is your anecdote about him/her or his/hers about you? BB: During Chitty, we went to do a press event for the Macy’s Day Spring show, and we discovered Argyle dislikes big balloons. He slipped his collar and was running wild around the show. I made a mental note to myself, no balloons ever in our house.

Most embarrassing thing your pet has ever done in public or when guests are over. BB: The most embarrassing thing Argyle does is act so trained everyone thinks he is “Lassie.” I have to keep telling people I trained “Sandy,” “Sandy!” But he looks at me with that big Collie smile, and I forgive him.

Playbill Article By Andrew Gans

Sep 11, 2015



The Shubert story behind the musical “Oklahoma”, celebrating it’s 73rd Anniversary

March 11th, 2016 by admin

When the idea came about to musicalize Lynn Riggs’ play Green Grow the Lilacs, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II felt that they needed something other than the standard musical comedy treatment. The plot involved an Oklahoma Territory farm girl of the early 1900s (Laurie) deciding whether she will go to a dance with the farmhand she fears (Judd) or the cowboy she loves (Curly). This story takes a jarring turn when the farmhand proves to be a psychopathic murderer whom the heroic cowboy is forced to kill in self-defense. Murder in a musical? Another sticking point was that Hollywood had turned singing cowboys into a cliché. Could this story sing on Broadway?12823236_10154060617063278_3847981918463016187_o


This new musical was to be entitled Away We Go – and Rodgers and Hammerstein took extraordinary creative control over the project. With little to lose, they took several artistic risks. Instead of opening with the usual ensemble number, the curtain would rise on a farm woman churning butter as a cowboy enters singing a solo about the beauty of the morning. Hammerstein’s lyrics were in a conversational style, each custom designed to fit specific characters and situations. Despite strong comic material (“I Can’t Say No”) and a healthy dose of romance (“People Will Say We’re In Love,” “Out of My Dreams”) this show was neither a typical musical comedy nor an operetta. This was something new, a fully rounded musical play, with every element dedicated to organically moving the story forward.


On March 11, 1943, Away We Go opened for previews at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven. Variety gave it a poor review and columnist Walter Winchell reported his secretary’s cold dismissal (which would eventually be attributed to at least a dozen other sources) – “No gags, no girls, no chance.” 12829007_10154060617213278_7958984754233158788_o


A few investors panicked and sold off their shares in the show, but many at that first performance realized that this unusual musical had potential. Rodgers and Hammerstein made extensive revisions to the show next door at New Haven’s Taft Hotel (now the Taft Apartments). 12495945_10154060617443278_4717153328102441427_o


At the suggestion of an ensemble member, a duet was re-set as a choral piece. When DeMille staged the revised song with the chorus coming down to the footlights in a V formation singing “O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Oklahoma! Yeeeow!,” the rousing number left audiences cheering and gave the show a new title. With an exclamation point tacked on for extra flourish, the Act II showstopper become the musical’s title – and the show that we all know today as OKLAHOMA! was born!


The creative team continued tinkering until one night an exhausted Rodgers put his foot down, saying, “You know what’s wrong with this show? Nothing! Now everybody pipe down and let’s go to bed.”


…and the rest, as they say, is history.


Submitted by Ian Galligan, Shubert Operations Assistant


What does a Broadway Producer do? Over 100 Producers respond

February 24th, 2016 by admin

I got an email a few weeks ago from a high school student with the simplest question ever.

“Ken,” she typed, “Can you tell me . . . what does a Broadway Producer do?”

I try to answer all of my reader’s questions, but I have to say, I was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of trying to answer this one.  First I thought about directing her to my Producer Mission Statement.  Then I thought about trying to come up with a list of my day-to-day duties on a show.

But then I remembered how different every single Broadway Producer I know is . . . and how each one of them focuses on different areas of the biz, depending on what they know, what they love, and what they do best.

So, rather than come up with a long-winded answer of my own, I decided to come up with a Wiki answer to my reader’s question.  I went to my Broadway League brothers and sisters and asked all the Broadway Producers I know to answer my reader’s question in one, short sentence.

And now, right here, I’m going to list all of them.  Put them all together, and that’s what we do!

I promised all the Producers on this list to keep it anonymous, but I will say this . . . there are some heavy hitter answers below.  There are more Tonys on this list than at a West Side Story reunion.

Enjoy the answers!

– – – –

Question:  What does a Producer do?

– Have fun while keeping all the balls in the air until we open.

– Producers do everything!  We are the bank, the therapist, the negotiator, the scapegoat, the creative, and we rarely get credit! I should add its awesome. Because I think it is.

– Getting everyone to do what I want done while making them all think it was their idea.

– We manage the business behind the show.

– Create solutions.

– Producing is the art of saying yes judiciously and no politely.

– Look at a blank slate each morning and figure out – “what has to happen next” – and then make it happen.

– What do I do?  Emails… decision maker and cheerleader.  (mostly emails)

– Producers inspire others to be as passionate about the project as they are.

– Encourage and foster excellence for the purpose of optimizing profit and art.

– We raise money for projects we have faith in and then try our hardest to repay all of those wonderful investors who have had faith in us (hopefully with a profit).

– Make ideas real.

– Create/ facilitate product, then get butts in seats.

– Find the right project.  Raise money.  Hire the creative team.  Raise money.

– It’s a lot of blocking and tackling, with the occasional touch down.

– Partner with the best creative team and let them work their magic!

– Pray.

– Create a safe space for new art to be born.

– Everything but act, write, direct or design . . . In other words, everything you wouldn’t hire someone else to do.

– Deliver an engaging production that appeals to the widest possible demographic.

– Encourage, empower and embrace.

– Create a collaborative, focused, dynamic and exciting team-working environment where everyone shares a common vision for the material.

– How about “everything.”

– I don’t UNDER spend or OVER spend, but WISELY spend every dollar avail on creative advertising and marketing.

– No matter how difficult the biz may be, I always remember the passion which enticed me to be a Producer in the first place.

– I try each day to prove I am the natural heir of Max Bialystock (to collect the royalties he amassed).

– I would say my greatest challenge as a producer is putting together the right team (director, choreographer, music, lyricist, etc).

– Create a safe and supportive environment for artists to make magic.

– A Producer is a midwife for writer(s) and the creative team. .

– To make the impossible possible.

– Assess, finance, assess, stay out of the way.

– Make the best art possible with the available financial resources.

– Find works and artists you feel passionate about and to put them on the stage.

– Realize the world of the play.

– Passionately advocate for the creator’s vision of the play and the investors’ right to recoup their investment.

– A Producer does whatever needs to be done, from A ( finding the property ) to Z (making sure the johns have enough toilet paper).

– Producing is the art of making the deal.

– A theatre Producer manages the collaborators of the most collaborative art form that exists.

– The three F’s:  FIND IT (the show), FUND IT, FILL THE SEATS (preferably with paying customers)

– Create an experience for an audience they never knew they needed.

– Guidance Counselor

– Visionary.

– Advocate/ambassador, sounding board.

– A producer coordinates all aspects of the project and hopes the people he or she picks does the best job possible creating his vision while at the same time getting the most bang for his buck.

– Deal with the people who invest that think they know more than we do re: advertising and everything else.

– Maintains the connection between “show” and “business.”

– Raise money.

– I hold a lot of hands and smile & agree with everyone.

– The Producer is the mother that nurtures the baby until it grows up!

– A benevolent (collaborative) Dictator.

– Make their dreams come true.

– I don’t believe that any writer, actor or director has ever made a live stage event happen.  Without demeaning the incredible talent that the team brings to the table, without a Producer wanting to see the product, nothing would ever get on stage.

– In my view, the Producer is the project manager of the show, who also acts as the CEO/entrepreneur.

– This is a big topic and not one I am comfortable addressing with a sound bite.

– Identify the project, the creative team, and get out of the way.

– I bring together all the resources necessary to transform an intangible idea into reality.

– Support the general partners.

– I often say the Producer is “The glue that holds it all together.”

– A producer ensures that: the show is good, sells well, and runs smoothly and…remains calm.

– Have a vision and find the right team to execute it.

– “Put it all together.” (to borrow, if I may, from Sondheim)

– Producing is keeping the ball moving down the field until hopefully, you help to allow the entire team to score a winning goal.

– Discover & nurture new works, try and keep everyone happy, create a “family”

– Keep myself constantly inspired by reading everything I can get my hands on.

– Make shows happen

– A producer produces.

– Get the show on.

– Choosing what to produce is the most important decision a producer makes.

– To present a writer who is able to spark the thoughts or feelings of an audience in a fresh and unprecedented way.

– If a show is the equivalent of a small company, the producer is its CEO.

– A producer is like the CEO of a company: hires and fires everyone and most importantly, makes sure everyone’s paycheck clears at the end of the week.

– Develop great work and persuade audiences to buy tickets to it.

– Keep the herd moving forward

– To me, producing is development and marketing.

– My response to this often-asked question is that producing each new show is like starting a business – you have to raise the money, hire a business manager (GM), raise money, hire an attorney, raise money, hire a marketing/advertising/promotions team, raise money, hire a director, raise money, select and hire a design team, raise money, deal with the unions and raise money, etc.

– Oversee the financing, marketing and creative process to deliver a show that connects with audiences.

– My first reaction to your question is one word: “nurture.”  Actually, it’s just like mothering.

– Identify the kernel of greatness and execute a vision for making it so

– A producer is (among so many things), both . . . the owner of the sheep, and their border collie.

– Oversee every element both creative and financial

– A Producer is ultimately responsible for everything, but actually does nothing.

– A Producer always keeps the lines of communication open so that artists, management and money are unified around the same vision.

– Strike a balance between artistic vitality and commercial appeal.

– All encompassing; responsible for every detail

– Maintain an environment where your creative team can do the best work they are capable of…

– Focus on the product, not the money. If the product is really good, the money will find you.

– Happily enabling artists to execute their visions.

And lastly, I’ll include one longer answer on this subject because this guy agreed to go on the record with his answer, and because, well, this guy just has a certain way with words.

A producer is a rare, paradoxical genius: hard-headed, soft-hearted, cautious, reckless, a hopeful innocent in fair weather, a stern pilot in stormy weather, a mathematician who prefers to ignore the laws of mathematics and trust intuition, an idealist, a realist, a practical dreamer, a sophisticated gambler, a stage-struck child.  That’s a producer.

– Oscar Hammerstein II Thanks to all the Producers that participated!

– – – – –

Reproduced from Ken Davenport’s website:



Hi. I’m Ken Davenport. I produce stuff. You can too. For more information about me, click here.

Long-lost Beatrix Potter tale, ‘Kitty-in-Boots,’ rediscovered

February 2nd, 2016 by admin

London (CNN) A “new” Beatrix Potter story found in a museum more than 100 years after it was written is to be published for the first time, with a cameo by Peter Rabbit.

“The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots,” featuring the exploits of “a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life” was penned by the much-loved children’s author in 1914.

But the story never made it into print; Potter had completed the text and begun work on the illustrations when, she later explained, “interruptions began.”beatrix book

Those interruptions — from the outbreak of World War I to marriage, illness and a growing interest in farming — meant that the book remained unfinished.

Bundled together with many of Potter’s other papers, it was forgotten until Jo Hanks, a publisher at Penguin Random House, read about it in an out-of-print biography.

“There was a mention of a tale about a cat called Kitty, but I didn’t know how far she’d got with it, or if she’d intended to publish,” Hanks told CNN.

Inspired, she dug around in the archives of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where many of Potter’s papers are kept, and came across what she says was a “lucky find” — a complete manuscript, a dummy version of the book, and two sketches.

Potter’s only known color illustration for the book shows the heroine, Miss Kitty, wearing a tweed jacket, shirt and tie, and carrying a rifle over her shoulder.

So before the story could be unveiled to readers, an artist had to be found to conjure up the pictures which would help bring it to life.

Hanks says there was an obvious choice: Quentin Blake, whose illustrations for Roald Dahl’s children’s books are almost as famous as the characters themselves.

“Quentin was the first person who sprang to mind; his artistic sensibilities are very reminiscent of Beatrix Potter, and they share the same energy and love of rebellious characters.

“He has really brought Kitty off the page, and I think Potter would have approved of him — I think they’d have got on very well.”

Blake, who chose not to see Potter’s original illustration until he had finished his own work on the book, said he had “liked the story immediately.”

“It’s full of incident and mischief and character … I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me.”

And for long-term fans of Potter’s work there’s an added extra to look forward to: A special appearance by some old favorites, including Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and an all-grown-up version of Peter Rabbit.

“Peter is characterized quite differently in this book,” explains Hanks. “He’s older, rather full-of-himself — no longer the youngster we knew, getting into trouble — he’s transformed into a rather portly buck rabbit.”

“The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots” will be published on September 1, to mark the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth.

For complete article:

By Bryony Jones, CNN

Tue January 26, 2016

Tickets for Peter Rabbit Tales at the Shubert, Sat. April 23, 2016

with performances at 1:30pm & 4:30pm are now on sale!




8 Things You Didn’t Know About Being An Understudy on Broadway

January 7th, 2016 by admin

There’s a fine art to covering the lead in a Broadway show, and it involves much more than memorizing lines. Here’s the backstage scoop on an understudy’s life, from how much they make to why there’s a lot of shoving going on onstage.

March 2, 2015, Garth Wingfield –

It’s happened to every seasoned theatergoer: The usher shows you to your seat, hands you a Playbill, and you open it to find one of those little inserts announcing, “At this performance, the part of Major Character usually played by Broadway Biggie will be played by Someone Else.” True, it can be a little frustrating for the audience. But there’s also something inherently exciting about the whole experience. Who is this new person? Have they played this role before? Will you see Broadway magic in the making? We’ve lifted the curtain on what it’s like to be an understudy on the Great White Way. What goes into understudying may surprise you.

For starters, there are several different kinds of covers You could be seeing many kinds of replacement actors from your perch in the audience. First of all, there’s a principal understudy. That’s someone who’s a regular member of the cast, usually in the chorus, and who understudies one of the leading roles. Then there’s a standby. This is a performer who does not appear in the show each night but is there specifically to cover a major role that on a typical night is played by the star whose name is on the marquee. The standby often signs in before a performance at the stage door, sticks around to make sure the star enters stage left, then hangs out in the green room or stays in a 10-block vicinity of the theatre, a cell-phone call away. And then there’s also a swing, who is someone who doesn’t perform in the show regularly but who knows all the different chorus “tracks,” or various staging and costume changes a particular actor follows, and steps in when needed.

The more you memorize, the more you make Lots of variables come into play in determining how a performer gets compensated. But here’s one example: According to Actors’ Equity Association, if you’re in the chorus and understudying a principal role, you’ll make a minimum base salary per week, which is currently $1,861. Then you’ll automatically get $50 on top of that each week for every role you cover. Plus, if you go on, you’ll get 1/8th of your weekly pay on top of that for every performance you give center stage. It all adds up to some complicated math — and a considerable payday if the lead’s out for a couple of shows in a row.

Sometimes a star is born In the Broadway musical 42nd Street, diva Dorothy Brock has broken her ankle and director Julian Marsh coaxes small-town understudy Peggy Sawyer out of the wings with the now legendary line, “You’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star.” It has happened! Lots of understudies end up inheriting the roles made famous by their predecessors. Megan Hilty, who was a standby for Glinda in Wicked, not only took on the role herself but went on to star in TV’s Smash, playing an unknown, up-and-coming actress who eventually snagged the starring role in a Broadway musical. The biggest recent example of an overnight star being made courtesy of a twisted ankle or something like it is Sutton Foster, who was the understudy in Thoroughly Modern Millie during its out-of-town tryout. The lead got replaced. Foster got the gig. And she won the Tony Award for Best Actress when she opened in New York. You can’t make this stuff up.

Got nerves of steel? You’re on! To be sure, it takes a pretty sturdy constitution to be a Broadway understudy. Rebecca LaChance, who is a member of the ensemble  of Beautiful ­– The Carole King Musical and is one of two understudies for leading lady Jessie Mueller, remembers her first time in the spotlight: “It was our last night during our pre-Broadway run in San Francisco. I got to the theatre, heard Jessie was out sick and went on with an hour’s notice. I’d never had a rehearsal. Suddenly, I was trying on wigs, getting into costumes, singing through all the songs with the music director. It was a blur.” Actors affectionately refer to an understudy’s first time on stage as “shove with love,” when the other performers gently guide the newbie, making sure they hit all their marks. “There was lots of shoving with love the first time I went on,” LaChance laughs.

Megan Hilty (left) went on from an understudy role to a starring role on TV’s ‘Smash’ (where she played an understudy who eventually became a star) (Photo: Will Hart/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Megan Hilty (left) went on from an understudy role to a starring role on TV’s ‘Smash’ (where she played an understudy who eventually became a star) (Photo: Will Hart/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, sort of Stepping in for the lead is a tricky business. For one thing, an understudy has to replicate what the original star is doing, to a degree. “You have to honor the performance of the actor you’re covering,” explains Merwin Foard, who has covered 30 actors, either as a standby or understudy, in his 16 Broadway shows. Foard was featured in the 2012 documentary The Standbys while he was a standby for Nathan Lane in the role of Gomez Addams in The Addams Family. He is currently standby by for Jafar and the Sultan in Aladdin. “You don’t want to mimic, and you don’t want to throw the other actors, so you have to know the staging and choreography perfectly. There can be no curve balls. But you want to bring your own version of [the role] to life.”

There’s backstage blocking, too What happens on stage is just part of the story. There’s a whole carefully calibrated dance that happens backstage in very tight quarters involving the stage manager, dressers and multiple stagehands. And the understudy has to fit into that flow seamlessly. “You think you know what you’re doing on stage but then you’ve never done the offstage stuff,” says veteran actor Nick Corley, who appeared as a G-Man in the ensemble and understudied two principal roles in the recent revival run of You Can’t Take It With You. “There are quick changes and very specific patterns so you don’t bump into anyone. The first time you go on, there’s no time to even think about what’s coming up in the next scene in terms of acting.” Typically, during previews, understudies are on their own, taking notes as the principals rehearse, until understudy rehearsals begin in earnest once the show officially opens. “It’s terrifying,” Corley says, of getting thrown in early. “But then again, I’m a nervous person. Some people handle it with total ease.”

Multiple understudies, tremendous possibilities If you look at the bottom of the cast list page in your Playbill, you’ll often see many actors listed at understudies for the same role. There’s something of a pecking order for who gets to go on when the star gets the flu, but beyond that, it’s up to the powers that be. If there’s a standby, he or she goes on first, no question. But if that actor is out too — or if the show doesn’t have a designated standby — it’s a collaborative decision between the director, stage manager or general management team. In most shows, the understudies aren’t enumerated. So it could be a practical choice of who has had the most recent understudy rehearsal or whose costumes and wigs are in the best condition. At other times, the management likes to rotate the understudies to keep them all fresh. But occasionally, a favorite rises to the top. And sometimes, an understudy who’s only performed the role once or twice gets a shot in the spotlight and hits it out of the park.

When you take on a role, you get the star treatment The moment you’ve been dubbed the major cheese for the night, you’re immediately escorted to the star’s dressing room. You work with the star’s dressers. The sound personnel show up and make sure to mic you correctly so the crew knows when to turn on and off your amplification. But as nice as that is, Beautiful understudy Rebecca LaChance offers this perspective: “It’s still completely daunting, especially after Jessie [Mueller] won the Tony for Best Actress. People have paid all this money to come see her, they see my name on the board in the lobby and they groan. They don’t know me. You have to charm them immediately or else. I mean, I start the show on stage alone at a piano. I hope by the evening’s end I’ve won them over. I think I usually do, but it’s a lot to face.”


  • © 2016



Interesting Facts about Guest Artists in The Nutcracker presented by New Haven Ballet

December 9th, 2015 by admin
  1. Sugar Plum Fairy, Simone Messmer, is the cover model on the December issue of Dance Magazine.
  2. Cavalier, Rainer Krenstetter, won first place at the Prix de Lausanne in 1999.
  3. Snow King, Jeremy Cox, debuted on Broadway as “Marty” in Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away.
  4. Ms. Messmer, Mr. Krenstetter and Mr. Cox are all current or former Principal Dancers with Miami City Ballet.

Nutcracker Guest Principal Dancer Bios


The Nutcracker will be performed by The New Haven Ballet

December 18-20, 2015. Tickets now on sale!