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Ethel Merman

Panama Hattie

October 29, 2019

While the original production had a great many one-of-a-kind stars supporting Merman, one of the distinctions of the York production is its cast: Montel has been able to obtain the services of Klea Blackhurst for Hattie Maloney, the Ethel Merman role. Blackhurst, you may know, has specialized in Merman for years including her tribute show "Everything  the Traffic Will Allow" as well as appearing in the Merman roles in revivals of "Anything Goes," "Red, Hot and Blue," "Call Me Madam" and The York’s staging of "Happy Hunting." Montel has also surrounded her with seasoned theater veterans including Stephen Bogardus, Simon Jones, Gordon Stanley and David Green. The members of the singing and dancing chorus are equally talented. [more]

Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin

September 9, 2018

Using a format that has worked for him before in his George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein evenings, Hershey Felder has returned to 59E59 Theaters in a charming biographical musical as legendary songwriter Irving Berlin. As Felder narrates his story becoming Berlin, he also sings and plays over 30 of his most famous songs, as well as some not so familiar today, including “Blue Skies,” “White Christmas” and the iconic, “God Bless America’. [more]

Book review: “Sense of Occasion” by Harold Prince

November 16, 2017

The first 26 chapters are the original text of "Contradictions" with each followed by “”Reflections,” where Prince variously corrects, expands upon and ruminates about that portion.  After concluding with the tribulations of the 1974 revival of "Candide," the next 19 chapters are new additions that detail all that came after.  There’s also a comprehensive appendix of facts about all of his shows and an index. [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: “Get Happy: Harold Arlen’s Early Years”

February 4, 2017

The show began with Arlen’s first hit, “Get Happy,” 1930, and ended with his 1939 score for the MGM film, "The Wizard of Oz." The first half of the evening was devoted to Arlen’s stand-alone popular tunes, his songs written for the Cotton Club Revues (1932-1934), and musical numbers for early sound movies. Blackhurst recounted how Arlen (born Hyman Arluck of Buffalo, New York), was a child prodigy singing in his father’s choir when he was seven, forming his own bands in his late teens, and occasionally appearing as a vocalist with them on records in his twenties. [more]

Legendary Actress and Singer Rita McKenzie on a Career That Has Taken a Jersey Girl All Over the World

June 28, 2016

Growing up in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, Rita McKenzie never imagined the places that her career would take her. Traveling all over the world with "Ethel Merman’s Broadway," McKenzie has shared the life and career of an international superstar with audiences from different cultures and backgrounds who continue to honor her legacy. Along the way, McKenzie has also made discoveries about herself and her desire to always keep growing and learning in an ever-changing world. [more]

92Y’s Lyrics & Lyricists Series: Everything’s Coming Up Ethel: The Ethel Merman Songbook

April 20, 2016

“Our goal is not to impersonate her but to channel her,” said Mr. Sperling, the artistic director, writer and director of this entertaining event. In addition to these tasks, he also sang, played piano and as the genial host effortlessly delivered his authoritative biographical statements. A fan of Merman’s since childhood, Sperling’s conception and execution of this show was a very well done labor of love. His patter skillfully documented her renowned charisma, saltiness and, most importantly, her unique vocal abilities. [more]

Midtown Int’l Theatre Festival Spring: March 7 – 27, 2016

February 7, 2016

Powerful and unique themes pervade this series of works including spirituality and "the other side;" sexuality and relationships and its burgeoning diversity; the power of - and within - women; the casualty of war - and the casual way we look at it; fine art; the church; crippling illness from the point of the crippled; redemption; and myriad more are explored in under two hours! [more]

Not Glad We Had This Time Together

April 22, 2015

Carol Burnett was at in White Plains, on Friday April 17, 2015, to perform her show, An Evening of Laughter with Carol Burnett. Sadly there was not much laughter or much time together. [more]

Gypsy

March 2, 2003

Within seconds after musical director Marvin Laird picks up his baton, you will know why composer Jule Styne's slam-bang overture to "Gypsy" is considered by many the greatest and the most invigorating overture ever written for an American musical (okay, so you prefer Leonard Bernstein's more highfalutin "Candide"). Know this, however, that those who do go to this "Gypsy," will hear, probably for the very last time, the sound of 24 musicians in the pit (thanks to the concessions made during the recent strike). That alone is worth the price of admission. [more]