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Mint Condition remembers their mentor Prince

June 29th, 2016 by admin

Lawrence Waddell and Stokley Williams of the St. Paul-based R&B band Mint Condition sit down to talk about their mentor, friend and fellow musician Prince.

From their own beginnings in the early 90s meeting Prince for the first time, to stories of playing on tour with him, to their reflections on Prince’s influence on the “Minneapolis Sound” and the artistic world more broadly, Waddell and Williams remember Prince and his legacy.

Interview by Jeff Achen of The UpTake. Published April 30, 2016

Darius Murrell Production presents – Mint Condition – with comedian CAPONE at The Shubert Saturday, July 9th at 8pm.

Click HERE for Ticket Information



A Q&A with Cyndi Lauper

June 10th, 2016 by admin

Q: In this era of safe Broadway musicals that are based on an existing movie title, or the catalog of a popular band’s songs, how do you think Kinky Boots broke through and rose to the top of the theatre world?

A: I think the answer is kind of a simple one. It’s because the show has a huge heart, and people respond to that. It’s a story about love and acceptance and friendship and overcoming obstacles and everyone can relate to that. Harvey Fierstein is one of Broadway’s great talents and the book is so very very good. It was an honor to collaborate with Harvey and tell the story of Lola and Charlie.

Q: Can you describe that moment when your name was announced and you won the Tony Award? 

A: Incredible. Simply incredible. The Broadway community is an amazing one and to be welcomed the way they welcomed me to this very special family is something that still warms my spirit.

Q: You join rock artists like Neil Young, Duncan Sheik, Sting and the Flaming Lips who have made the crossover into Broadway, not by capitalizing on their existing songbooks but by writing original musicals for the theater. Two questions:

  1. How is writing for the stage different from writing songs for yourself?

A: It’s very different. Your job as the composer of a musical is to move the story forward with the songs. You have to write for many voices and from all the characters’ perspectives. And I had a blast doing that. There were songs that I wrote that I really loved that didn’t make the show because maybe there was a change in the book or there was a different arch for a character and the story and therefore the song had to change. For my own CDs, when I write a song that I love, it makes my records! LOL! And of course when I write for myself, I’m writing from my perspective, it’s the story I am trying to tell through the songs on the album to my fans.

  1. Can you name two or three other artists form the rock world you would most love to see write for the Broadway stage? 

A: I am thrilled to see two of my favorites – David Byrne and Carole King – with shows on Broadway. I would love to see Cher, Price and Joni Mitchell with shows on Broadway.

Q: Of all your wonderful and timeless songs over your career, it appears that True Colors has really grown in stature over the years, becoming a kind of anthem of hope for today’s youth. How does that make you feel, and can you tell us a little about what that song means to you?

A: When I recorded that song a very good friend of mine was dying from AIDS.  He had a horrific childhood. He had been abused. The main reason he was abused was because he was gay. He became homeless really young. When he was dying he asked me to record a song so that he would not be forgotten. He was a beautiful person. A really kind and gentle soul who was told from a very early age that he was no good. That who he was as a person was not acceptable. And that just wasn’t true. So I sang the song for Gregory and for everyone who has been rejected for being who they are or for anyone who feels unloved. I think that it still resonates today because unfortunately we still have bias and we still have bullying. Maybe we have even more bullying because people can be cruel behind a computer instead of having the balls to say something ugly to someone’s face. We still have hatred and that is sad because I would have thought that by 2014 people would have evolved. Because we live in the digital age the world has gotten smaller.  Ya think that would have made us more open and accepting. If we all could just accept each other for who we are the world would be a beautiful place! (That’s also the message of Kinky Boots!)

Q: Live theatre historically struggles for a young audience. Two questions:

  1. Why does Kinky Boots buck the trend?

A: I tried really hard to write songs that could also live outside of the theater, ya know? Before radio, Broadway music was popular music. People bought sheet music and played the music at home with their families. Basically Broadway was Top 40, and I really tried hard to honor that tradition with Kinky Boots by writing songs that people would want to listen to at home after leaving the theater or without even seeing the show.

  1. What do you think is essential for new musicals today to capture the hearts of young theatregoers?

A: If young people don’t discover Broadway, then Broadway will die with the generation that grew up with Broadway and that would be a tragedy. So it’s important that Broadway musicals and plays are written to live in the modern world.

Q: Your life changed seemingly overnight in 1983. What do you think would have become of you if She’s So Unusual had never been released?

A: I didn’t really change overnight. I had been in bands and gigging since I was 20. My band Blue Angel got signed to Polydor when I was 27 and we had some moderate success. We also had done some pretty big tours both in the US and in Europe. And I loved those guys and I loved that band. We were doing rockabilly and we might have been a bit before our time. The Straycats came out years later and really brought that genre out to the forefront again.

I signed my solo deal with Portrait at 29 and the album came out when I was 30. And unlike when you are in a band, I was able to really fully become the artist I wanted to be. It was all my vision, what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, what I wanted to look like, and that was so empowering. And of course to have 5 hit singles off of that album was just unbelievable. I don’t know what would have become of me but I would definitely sing and I would definitely write songs. One of the jobs I had in the beginning of my career was singing at a Japanese piano bar in NYC. Maybe I would have went back there and asked for my job back.

Q: How does it feel to be thought of as a musical – and fashion – role model for the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj?

A: They are all great artists. If they look to me as a role model then I am flattered. I think as women we all need to be able to see another woman doing what we dream of doing to know that it’s possible. There are so many women who I looked to for inspiration – Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell and Cher – all of these women who came before me to help light the path, and if I paid that gift forward that makes me feel really good.

Q: What do you want audiences throughout the country to know about what they are in for if they come to see Kinky Boots?

A: An amazing show with great heart that will lift you up.

Original interview conducted by John Moore, The Denver Center for the Performing Arts Journalist.

Kinky Boots at the Shubert New Haven now thru June 12th. 

Purchase tickets at



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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Review: Art Garfunkel’s spine-tingling voice proves the singer is back on form

May 5th, 2016 by admin

The 1970s folk-singing legend Art Garfunkel lit up St David’s Hall with his solo gig, here’s what our reviewer thought

When you possess one of the greatest voices of your generation, to suddenly experience barely being able to squeeze out a note must have been a terrifying and traumatic period for Art Garfunkel, who, in partnership with Paul Simon and later as a solo artist, is music legend.

It took four years for the voice to slowly recover and gain in strength and it was an impressive turn around for a star who must have thought is career was over, losing that immense tool of his trade, the golden voice that helped sell millions of records.art1

Strolling quietly on to the St David’s Hall stage in front of a a sellout crowd, any fears that the great man would disappoint were quickly dismissed as he launched beautifully into April Come She Will, accompanied by just a guitar, played exquisitely by Tad Laven, one of Nashville’s finest.

In-between a classic set of real quality songs Garfunkel delighted with personal prose and writings he’d made on his life, family and his relationship with Simon that proved insightful and at times moving.

But the real joy of the evening was hearing the voice, almost back to its brilliant best and at times sending a shiver down your spine as you recalled past moments, with Simon and Garfunkel’s songs painting a nostalgic picture of very different, younger times.

Joined on stage by son Arthur Jr, they delighted with two Everly Brother classics, the brothers being described by Garfunkel as his first musical inspiration. The sound that followed from father and son was breathtaking firstly on Devoted To You and later Let It Be & paul

Songs like The Boxer, Scarborough Fair and what Garfunkel described as his favourite Simon song, Kathy’s Song were sung to near perfection, but, not to be undone, his solo covers of Albert Hammond’s 99 Miles From LA and Randy Newman’s Real Emotional Girl were exceptional moments with the thrill of a scaled down Bridge Over Troubled Water the icing on the cake bringing the crowd to their feet, not for the first time during the evening and a truly wonderful end.

Sep 18, 2015

by TonyWoolway, Wales Online


Art Garfunkel In Close Up — Shubert Theatre New Haven Friday, May 13 at 8pm. 

Tickets Now On Sale:



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.

A Love Supreme for Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Only one thing can distract U.S. Justice from the law: the opera

February 11th, 2016 by admin

What do I love about opera?

Its glorious music, high drama and gorgeous voices. An operatic voice is like no other. I was a super once — an extra —in Die Fledermaus, and was seated within three feet of Placido Domingo. I had never heard a voice of that beauty so close up. It felt as if an electric shock were running through me.

I think Mozart’s operas The Marriage of Figaro  and Don Giovanni are the two most perfect ever written. The music is magical. The sextet in The Marriage is the most hilarious piece in all of opera. And Don Giovanni has the most seductive duet, “Là ci darem la mano,” sung when the Don attempts to seduce Zerlina. One day I’ll say The Marriage is my favorite opera. The next day, the Don.

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg walks with two Carmen extras at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center. — Mark Peterson/Redux

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg walks with two Carmen extras at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. — Mark Peterson/Redux

In 2015, an opera opened about me and Justice Antonin Scalia. It’s called Scalia/Ginsburg. The composer, Derrick Wang, has degrees in music from Harvard and Yale. Enrolled in law school, he was reading dueling opinions by me and Justice Scalia and decided he could compose an appealing comic opera from them. He uses lines from opinions, speeches and articles we’ve written. The opera is really touching because it shows two people who interpret the Constitution differently but genuinely like each other. The last duet we sing is “We Are Different, We Are One”: different in the way we interpret written texts, one in our reverence for the institution we serve, the Supreme Court of the United States. 

How do you get to know opera?

For me, it began when I was 11, in 1944. My aunt took me to a high school in Brooklyn  for a condensed version of La Gioconda. I loved it. In high school I started attending the New York City Opera. To save money, I’d go to dress rehearsals. Or I’d buy tickets for seats in the last row of the top balcony.

 When it came time to introduce my daughter to opera, I played a recording of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte,  libretto in English, during dinner. After she had heard it maybe four or five times, we read the libretto together. Then my husband and I took her to a performance. By then, she knew most of the lyrics by heart. She was 8 years old. My son’s first exposure was Aida.

One way to get to know and love opera is by attending the Metropolitan Opera simulcasts in a movie theater. I went to four or five last year.

Most of the time, even when I go to sleep, I’m thinking about legal problems. But when I go to the opera, I’m just lost in it. Loving it. And I don’t think about any legal brief.

—As told to Frederick Allen by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, AARP The Magazine, December 2015

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 82, is an associate justice of the Supreme Court.

Does this article put you in the mood for a little opera? …

Yale Opera presents A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Shubert

February 19-21, 2016 

Benjamin Britten’s magical opera based on the Shakespeare play

is performed in English

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!