The Adventure Continues

TT in the Blue Mountains and Sheldy in New York.

Culture Shock.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I'm Back!

(tt)  Yes dear readers! I have returned. I have been rehearsing a little show in Melbourne and have been a bit distrait but now here is the first of my contributions which hopefully will continue. As for matching Sheldon's output I will make no pronouncements!
Saturday saw the opening night of "Forum"  It was very exciting. Here are a few images of the backstage chaos and social gathering afterwards
The mad Rush!
A present from the producers...a framed special edition poster.
Look where I am billed in relation to another grand celeb!

Here is Rob Tripolino who is the youngest member of the company. He is overwhelmed by the experience and likens it to Christmas.
Here are the idiots who play the Proteans, Brent Hill,Rohan Browne and Troy Sussman with Guy Simpson who re-orchestrated the score.
 box of...nipples!  For the eunuchs

New-ish-lyweds Marina Prior and Grant Piro at the after-show party. Grant was Sheldy's Carmen Ghia in THE PRODUCERS.

Marina with Michael Cormick who replaced Anthony Warlow in ANNIE here.
Our Hysterium (and very dear mate) Mitchell Butel
Our Philia, Christia Whelan-Browne with my very dear Melbourne hosts Graeme and Maureen
Michael Norman (right) was our production manager on THE PRODUCERS
Trevor Ashley, not in a frock.
My programme bio is a tribute to Bob Hornery, our Erronius, who was in the original 1963 production as Lycus in the very same theatre.

Big Sandy

Bloody Hurricane warnings. I know it's better to be safe than sorry but after Hurricane Irene's non-appearance last year it's hard not to be a little sceptical.
I had booked a day trip to Philadelphia today (Sunday) to see Charles Busch's new musical STARS OF DAVID. I was going to arrive around midday, take in the sights then see the 3pm performance and return to NYC on the 7pm train. Then, when the storm warning was announced, suddenly the schedule for my last day on the movie was changed from next Wednesday to tomorrow, so I had to book an earlier train back to NYC at 4.45pm (which meant I would probably have to miss the end of Charles' play) to connect with another train to Connecticut at 7.30 pm. Then the 7.30 pm train to Connecticut was cancelled because of the storm warning and the only other train I could catch from New York was at 1pm so I had to cancel the trip to Philly entirely, losing the price of my non-refundable theatre ticket and spending close to an hour on the phone to Amtrack changing all the arrangements. SO... today at midday my bag is packed for Connecticut with a few extra socks and shorts in case I get stranded there in the storm and I'm literally walking out the door when my phone rings and it's the production manager telling me filming in Connecticut is cancelled due to the storm. Now, I have other commitments all this week, auditions, etc. which will cause problems with rescheduling BUT I called my old friends at Amtrack and cancelled my ticket to Connecticut and realised I am now stuck in Manhattan completely unprepared for any emergency. I can't continue moving my stuff to Inwood because all public transport ceases at sundown. So I ventured out into the street only to be greeted by a scene from WAR OF THE WORLDS.

 The storm isn't even due for another 24 hours but the stores are packed with people buying armloads of batteries and bottled water and tinned soups and wondering how many candles they have left from their last religious holiday and how they're going to keep the dogs out of the bathtub which they've filled with water so they can flush the toilet.

 I bought a pint of milk and some Fuji apples. At least there's a lot of good stuff on the telly.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Long Shot

Saw an excellent documentary tonight in Greenwich Village which is well worth seeing: LONG SHOT-the Kevin Laue story.
Kevin, now 22, was an almost 7 foot tall high school student who had an exceptional gift for basketball. Funny, determined, charming, there was one major obstacle. He was born without a left arm. Watch the preview below.

 The film was five years in the making and is by turns uplifting, disheartening, funny and sad. Revelations abound including the extraordinary realisation that Kevin is inherently left handed even though he was born without a left arm, so everything he has had to learn has been against instinct.

 Producer, writer and director Franklin Martin is an ex-actor. He spoke after the screening I attended. Oddly, I couldn't concentrate on anything he was saying.
And look who is one of the Executive Producers! Australia's own Julian McMahon!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Angels at Our Table

I was invited to attend the annual benefit dinner for the Ali Forney Center by board member Neil Koenigsberg who asked me to join his table. Ali Forney (pronounced Ah-LEE For-NAY) was a flamboyantly gay black homeless youth rejected by his family who was forced to sleep on the streets and was murdered with a shot in the head on 135th Street. His friend Carl Siciliano (pictured) began the centre 10 years ago to give destitute and homeless LGBT youth a shelter and community where they are loved and affirmed for who they are and where they can find the strength to restore their lives.
The centre has fed, clothed and housed thousands of youths, provided medical care and mental health treatment, helped thousands of kids to get into schools and find jobs. But so many more kids need their help than they can provide for, so tonight 400 of us at CAPITALE did what we could to help.
This building at 130 Bowery used to be a bank.
And this is how it looked tonight.
When I first arrived I didn't know a soul in the room and there was no sign of my host so I was very intimidated surrounded by Le Tout Rich Gay Buff Big Apple and feeling like Gomer Pyle Goes To Town. Fortunately, a six foot four drag queen named Doris Dear of the Imperial Court of New York and Executive producer of the legendary "Night of a Thousand Gowns" descended upon me, took me under her voluminous wing and kept me chatting until we were called to the dinner table.
Doris turned out to be Ray DeForest, ex-original Broadway cast hoofer in 42nd STREET and leading man in the Las Vegas spectacular JUBILEE! before turning his hand to writing and directing his own tv shows in California. You never know who is under those beehives.
I was seated next to the lovely Rick Stockwell who (small world department) appeared in the musical CABARET with my mum years ago when she lived in L.A. Rick is now a successful photographer in New York and lives in the same building as my new friends Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin. I'm beginning to think everyone in New York lives in the same building.

The evening was compered by MSNBC news anchor Thomas Roberts. He married Patrick Abner, his partner of 12 years, last month. Honours were bestowed upon David Mixner, a leader in American politics and human rights for over 40 years and once named by Newsweek as the most powerful gay man in America; Chris Salgardo, president of skincare line Kiehl's who have raised more than $2 million for HIV/AIDS organisations; Time Warner Cable who have donated a learning lab to the Ali Forney Centre, the first ever given to an LGBT organisation, to equip homeless youth with internet skills; and Chris Bilal, an inspiring young man who came to the centre in 2009 after sleeping on rooftops to avoid police harrassment and an abusive boyfriend and now helps build leadership amongst communities affected by police violence. All the speeches were deeply moving and rousing and I know everyone was digging deep to help this extraordinary cause.

Movie star Ally Sheedy is an Honorary Board member. She knows tt from when he assisted Tovah Feldshuh and she also saw PRISCILLA so we like her.
The evening was brought to a splendid end with a performance by string quartet WELL STRUNG
Who were not only clever and handsome but
they sang while they plucked! BRAVO to everyone involved for a wonderful night.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Heart Belongs To...

Daddy Warbucks! Found Mr. Anthony Warlow looking for a tie in Saks 5th Avenue. Hadn't caught up with him since his arrival in NYC so we nattered on and got in everyone's way.
He's not in the same dressing room I had at the Palace Theatre where he's about to open in ANNIE but as he pointed out, "That's the leading lady's dressing room." Of course I punched him in the nose.

He has already been warmly embraced by the theatre community here so I imagine once the audiences get a gander at him he'll be positively crushed. I apologise for this appalling photo. I appear to be turning into Mr. Hyde.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fancy Friends

This was the view from the gorgeous Upper West Side penthouse where I whiled away Sunday afternoon with two extremely bright and beautiful artists.

Sondra Lee is now a respected actress, director and teacher but in an earlier life she staked a claim to immortality as Tiger Lily in Jerome Robbins' production of PETER PAN.

She is currently writing a sequel to her memoir I'VE SLEPT WITH EVERYBODY and today we happily talked of life and art and our future plans. Then this gentleman joined the party.
Benn Northover is an actor, artist, poet and filmmaker who divides his time between England and Paris. He recently featured in the movies HOUSE OF BOYS and LOTUS EATERS and is a longtime associate of filmmaker Jonas Mekas who is about to be given a month long retrospective at the Pompidou Centre. Benn was briefly passing through NYC, much as he did last year at the same time when he was captured for this mini-doco.

Benn and Sondra adore each other and it was a joy to see their rapport.
We all headed to 72nd to scoff hot dogs and papaya juice (Benn stylishly bedecked in one of Sondra's Moroccan scarves) then we waved him off to Brooklyn where he is briefly bunking with Mr. Mekas and continued on to the Triad cabaret space where we saw KT Sullivan and Karen Kohler in their splendid German songfest VIENNA TO WEIMAR
With material ranging from "Vilia" and "Adele's Laughing Song" to "Pirate Jenny" and Leonard Cohen this will hopefully enjoy a long life. And thus ended another week in NYC. I continue to count my blessings.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Please Come 2

Under Construction

My new best friend Sondra Lee (legendary Jerome Robbins dancer and the original Minnie Fay in DOLLY!) invited me to the Park Avenue Armory to see opera singer Lauren Flanigan (pictured) as part of the "Under Construction" series where artists present new works in various stages of development.
The space was the room pictured below with a grand piano replacing the table and chairs
 The audience was seated in a loose circle around the room interspersed with the musicians: Chris Cooley on piano, Julie Goodale on viola, Nana Simopoulos on sitar, bouzouki, percussion and didgeridoo (yes, you heard me) and Dr. William Schimmel on accordian, bandoneon, melodica and toy piano.
The first half of Flanigan's recital was two works by composer Thomas Pasatieri based on Eugene O'Neill's "Before Breakfast" and the speeches of Lady Macbeth. The second half was "The Unknown/Unsung Kurt Weill",with some surprising takes on familiar material such as "I'm A Stranger Here Myself" and "It Never Was You" (accompanied by a discordant and slightly aggro toy piano) and introductions to material such as "Who Am I Anyway?" (ONE TOUCH OF VENUS), "Love in a Mist", "Nothing Left For Daddy But The Rhumba" (LOVE LIFE), "Romance of a Lifetime", "I Guess I had Too Much to Dream Last Night", "Little Tin God", "You Understand Me"  accompanied by sitar, and "Picture on the Wall" with a haunting virtuoso accordian solo by Dr. Schimmel. Happily, there are plans to record the programme for cd next March.

Above is a video of Ms. Flanigan in action singing the music of Ricky Ian Gordon at a benefit in 1999. As a bonus, Aussie legend Zoe Caldwell introduces her!