The Adventure Continues

TT in the Blue Mountains and Sheldy in New York.

Culture Shock.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Broadway World Interview

Interview with David E. Clarke of Broadway World (Houston)

Kicking off 2013 at The Hobby Center, Theatre Under the Stars is presenting two classic musicals back to back. First TUTS is offering a star-studded production of CAMELOT followed by MAN OF LA MANCHA. CAMELOT features Broadway heavyweights such as Robert Petkoff, Margaret Loesser Robinson, Sean MacLaughlin, and Tony Award nominee Tony Sheldon. While many were hitting the stores for after Christmas sales, Tony Sheldon and I talked about his career post PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT, how he was preparing for Pellinore in CAMELOT, and performing in Houston.
Me: For roughly six years, you played Bernadette in the stage musical PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT. The Broadway run of the show closed on June 24, 2012. What were your feelings on that important and lauded chapter of your life coming to a close?
Tony Sheldon: It had been a life changing experience, considering I went into the show thinking it was a 10-day workshop. [Laughs] That was all it was going to be for me, and it took me around the world, enabled me to work outside of Australia for the first time, and, of course, to be embraced by the Broadway community. It was bittersweet. I was sad it had come to an end, but it was the beginning of a new phase of my life-one which I was very excited about.
Me: Hopefully, you took a good, long holiday and break after PRICSILLA. Was it a relief to be able to kick back and relax for a while?
Tony Sheldon: Yes it was! Indeed, I have been on holidays ever since PRISCILLA. It was wonderful to just enjoy New York, to be able to see other shows, and to consolidate friendships that I made here in the States. At the same time, I was nervous about following up on PRISCILLA. I didn't want to go cold, as it were. And I wanted to remind people that I was still in New York. I didn't want everybody to think that I had left and gone back to Australia. So, it was the first time that I actually became proactive in my career. I was actually picking up the phone, ringing people, and asking them to put me into readings or to put me into benefits or cabarets just so the people would see my face and see that I was around. It's been an education for me, coming from a country where, you know, I'm pretty established and have been for many years to a place where I'm a virtual unknown. You have to start again.
Me: Originally, you're from Australia, having been born in Brisbane, raised in Melbourne, and having lived in Sydney. Have you noticed any major differences to performing and living in Australia versus performing and living in the United States?
Tony Sheldon: Living, of course, because it's a much bigger country here. There is no difference in the audiences any where in the world, I have noticed. Audience response is the same. If the show is good, they'll scream and cheer. And there are good nights and there are bad nights in every country. But the industry is much smaller out there [in Australia]. There is a smaller pool of actors to choose from, and we don't have the tourism out there that you have here that keeps shows running for years and years and years. So, there's more of a turn over of productions as well. Also, we have to wait longer for shows. You know, a few years can go by before we get a Broadway or West End hit because I think producers are more wary of what's going to work out there. It's just as expensive to put on a show in Australia as it is here. So, producers hedge their bets and watch their pennies.
Me: Is Theatre Under the Stars production of CAMELOT your first time to perform in Houston, Texas?
Tony Sheldon: Yes it is.
Me: Are you looking forward to performing in Houston?
Tony Sheldon: I am so excited. My mother lived in Los Angeles for 20 years. She's a performer. I don't know whether you know, but I come from a whole show business family. Going back, my mother worked in a lot of regional theaters around the country, and they were a lot of her happiest experiences. So, yes, this is pretty much the beginning of the American phase of my career coming to Theatre Under the Stars. I'm so looking forward to it. And CAMELOT is a show that I have always loved, so to be involved in that particular show is very exciting for me.
Me: How did you get involved in this production of CAMELOT?
Tony Sheldon: I auditioned, along with everybody else.
Me: What secrets can you reveal about this production of CAMELOT? For example, Is TUTS doing the original Broadway version with Morgan Le Fey or the altered Broadway version where that character was removed?
Tony Sheldon: I think it's the altered version, as far as I can tell. I've just received one script, but I know that it is still sort of a work in progress. But from what I've read, I don't think Morgan is there.
Me: How are you preparing to play the bumbling, affable Pellinore?
Tony Sheldon: I've played this sort of character before, and what is interesting in reading him is...[Pauses].. there's a lot more depth to him than just the comic side. As much as he loves Arthur, because he has known Arthur since he was a little boy called "Wart," Pellinore is a very conservative voice in the piece. He's very resistant to the idea of The Round Table. In fact, he is very resistant to any sort of change. He doesn't like any upsetting of the status quo, [Laughs] which I think is very topical in terms of some of our politicians. He likes things the way they were. Where the knights were out of harm's way, it was only the peasants who got killed. Then suddenly this idea of knights fighting knights and that sort of thing is all a bit scary and upsetting to him. He doesn't like Lancelot. He's very resistant to anything new, so it's a fascinating side of Pellinore that I actually hadn't noticed before.
Me: Are Bernadette and Pellinore similar in any way?
Tony Sheldon: No. Not at all. Not remotely. Completely the opposite ends of the spectrum. For a start, Pellinore has got more facial hair. [Laughs] I might not have to wear any make-up at all, hopefully.
Me: You were nominated for and won several prestigious theatre awards for your portrayal of Bernadette, so obviously that role will always hold a special place for you, but after playing Bernadette what is your favorite aspect or aspects of the character Pellinore?
Tony Sheldon: What is my favorite aspect? [Pauses] One, that I don't have to sing or dance. It's a much less energetic role. And two, I think that he does supply some much-needed humor in the show. CAMELOT is very romantic. I think occasionally the audience does need a few laughs and  Pellinore, hopefully, will supply some of those.
Me: Are there any unique challenges you are facing preparing to play Pellinore?
Tony Sheldon: Every show is a challenge. It's a new group of people. It's a new city for me so it's a new audience. I mean, I take every single show as a challenge. Everything is the great unknown. You don't know what you're walking into. It's a big company, and some heavy hitters there in terms of the performers. They're all at the top of their game. So, I'm just going to have to keep up.
Me: In your opinion, what makes CAMELOT such an enduring classic piece of musical theatre?
Tony Sheldon: I think because it's a legend, and it's the King Arthur story. We all know audiences still love that sort of thing-Game of Thrones and even a fairy tale like Harry Potter. We love to be taken to a land far, far away. Also, it's the positive message of a utopian society where everybody gets along and the snow never falls until after sundown. It's such a beautiful idea of a civilized country that we all strive for and hope for in our hearts. It's very uplifting. And, of course, it is a great love story that has endured for all these years. There's all of that going for it.
Me: As an artist, what inspires you?
Tony Sheldon: Oh gosh. Everything. I mean, my entire life is art. I've grown up around it, so I love music, I love dancing, I love the spoken work, and the power of those things for an audience. Even with a show like PRISCILLA, which a lot of people dismissed as a jukebox musical, I saw the effect it had on people and how it moved them, changed them, inspired them, and took them out of their everyday problems and brought them together as a group. The power of theatre, live theatre, cannot be underestimated and that's what moves and inspires me as an artist and why it is still my favorite form of entertainment-live theatre. Long may it reign!
Me: You grew up in a family of performers, as you have mentioned, so you must have had a lot of support and advice handed to you as you journeyed into this career. What advice would you offer to those wanting to make a career for themselves in the arts?
Tony Sheldon: Never stop learning. Study, study, study. Not that I went to a drama school, but my education was seeing everything that I could, reading everything that I could, learning as much about who and what came before me. Research all the performers of the past, all the shows of the past, read every play, see every film. Don't think that you are the first to do what you are doing; you come from a very, very long tradition that you should know about as a performer. And, I think all that is so important to make you a rounded performer and a person. Go to art galleries. Go to museums. Lead a rich, full life. It all contributes to what you bring to your work.
Don't miss your opportunity to see celebrated actor Tony Sheldon in Theatre Under the Stars' production of Lerner and Loewe's renown classical musical CAMELOT. CAMELOT runs in Sarofim Hall of The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts from January 22 to February 3, 2013. For more information and tickets, please visit or call (713) 558 - 8887.

Show Jumping

I was all over town last night, first at the Metropolitan Room for Jamie De Roy's last show of the year featuring Tony winner Tonya Pinkins, comedian Judy Gold and Broadway performer Loni Ackerman wonderfully recreating her "Crossword Puzzle"  showstopper from STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW.
with photographer Mary-ann Lopato

My dates were Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin. They kindly took me on to Sardi's for a quick bite before we continued on to 54 Below and the NYC premiere of Charles Busch's brilliant new cabaret act with musical direction by Tom Judson. Such a rich feast of a show with hilarious character monologues, readings from Arlene Dahl's advice to women and duelling autobiographies by Bette & Joan, a whole B-movie tribute to Gladys George, and deeply felt renditions of "My Ship", "I Wonder What Became of Me" and "Don't Like Goodbyes". Mr. Busch truly deserves his "legend" status.
With the addition of Harvey Evans to our party, the gang is indeed all here!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


There is a small memorial park on my street dedicated to Bruce Reynolds, a local man who perished on 9/11.
It is locked to the public but some of the trees are lit for Christmas and I took these pics just as the sun was setting.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Busch Christmas

A quiet Christmas Day with an interlude in the West Village. I escorted the lovely Teri Ralston and Donna McKechnie to Charles Busch's annual cocktail party. Thanks to Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin for the beautiful photo.
Also chatted with Sondra Lee, Edward Hibbert, Harvey Evans, Steve Ross, lyricist Amanda Green (who wrote BRING IT ON which I saw last week and adored and who will soon take the town with HANDS ON A HARDBODY), Time Out theatre critic Adam Feldman, Steven Brinberg, Tom Judson (see video below) and Harriet Harris. Wot larks, Pip!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

E77th St

Aussies on Broadway

The Herald Sun in Melbourne has done an article on some of the Australian performers working in NYC.
Here's TT wearing one we prepared earlier.
(Above) Hayden Tee is currently rehearsing for a regional production of "1776", Sarah Strimmel is the understudy for MARY POPPINS on Broadway, Alexis Fishman will appear at 54 Below as part of her prizewinnings as "Broadway's Next Sensation", Old Crock in the middle is soon to give his King Pellinore in Houston, Tx,  Rachel Bickerton is on Broadway in CHICAGO and MiG Ayesa is embarking on a world tour of WE WILL ROCK YOU.

And that doesn't count Caroline O'Connor, Anthony Warlow, Kaye Tuckerman, Benjamin Howes, Grant Turner, Yvonne Strahovski, Nicholas Cunningham et al. Soon our takeover will be complete!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Next Gig

Tony Sheldon, Robert Petkoff and More to Lead TUTS' CAMELOT, 1/22-2/3

Theatre-Under-The-Stars-Announces-Casting-For-CAMELOT-Tony-Sheldon-Robert-Petkoff-and-More-20121220Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) has announced the cast for the timeless tale of Camelot, running Jan. 22 - Feb. 3, 2013 at Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Set in a land where honor and chivalry reign, Camelot follows the love triangle of King Arthur, his Queen Guenevere and the young Lancelot. Dazzling and spellbinding with sweeping romance, historic grandeur, and heart-breaking drama, Camelot is the definitive musical theatre fable.
Veteran stage actor Robert Petkoff will play the legendary King Arthur. Petkoff's credits include Broadway's Anything Goes, Ragtime and Spamalot as well as London's The Royal Family and Tantalus. Petkoff last appeared at TUTS in Spamalot. Making her TUTS debut is Margaret Loesser Robinson as love-torn Guenevere. Loesser Robinson's credits include London's The Snow Queen and extensive work both in New York City and in regional theatres, including Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, a Musical, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Pygmalion. Appearing as Lancelot is Sean MacLaughlin. His previous work includes Broadway's Phantom of the Opera, Lestat, The Woman In White, and Bombay Dreams.
Tony Award nominee Tony Sheldon will grace the TUTS stage as the comedic Pellinore. Sheldon originated the role of Bernadette in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert for Australia, London and Broadway audiences, which earned his nod for the Tony. In his native Australia, Sheldon won the 2005 Helpmann Award, the Sydney Critics Award, the Mo Award and the Glugs Award for his performance as in The Producers. Alongside him will be Charles Krohn as Merlin. Krohn first appeared on the TUTS stage in 1969 and has worked in more than 40 TUTS shows, including the 2006 hit Beauty and the Beast. Krohn lists the national tour of The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas among his credits.
Adam Shonkwiler will depict the evil Mordred. Theater patrons will remember Shonkwiler from his work in the national tour of Whistle Down The Wind which TUTS presented in 2007. Two Humphreys School of Musical Theatre (HSMT) students, Scott Fonseka and Ashton Lambert, will act in the role of Tom of Warwick. Fonseka, a student at Frostwood Elementary, has performed with HSMT in Disney's Little Mermaid and in Scrooge: The Musical. Lambert, a student at The Kinkaid School, has played locally in several local theatres as well as at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Completing the cast are Michael Andrako, Blaire Baker, Karolina Blonski, Mark Donaldson, Preston Ellis, Sean Ewing, Rob Flebbe, David Grant, Laura Elizabeth Henning, Julia Krohn, Alexander Levin, Leisa Mather, Molly Mustonen, Natalie Newman, Patricia Noonan, Ian Parmenter, Jonathan Stahl and Shannon Lea Smith.
Richard Stafford will lend his talents as director and choreographer. Stafford's previous work at TUTS includes Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as well as Grand Hotel. Eddy Robinson will serve as the musical director and conductor. Robinson last worked at TUTS in Annie. Joining on the creative team are sound designer Kit Bond and lighting designer Richard Winkler.
Camelot features the work of the famed theatre duo Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Loewe wrote the music while Lerner wrote the book and lyrics. The production earned four Tony Awards when it debuted. Lerner and Loewe have also been the creative team behind other Broadway blockbusters including My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, Gigi, and Paint Your Wagon, among several others.

Read more:

Kleinfeld on W20th



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Around Town

Central Park at dusk
West 57th Street

Christmas at the Players

Last night was the Project Shaw reading of SAINT JOAN

 and the Players Club in Gramercy Park was decked out for the Christmas season.

The statue of Players founder Edwin Booth overlooks the poinsettias
and even hangs from the tree
But all year round the legends look down on us mere mortals, such as Noel Coward
Bert Lahr...
Carol Burnett...
and Jimmy Cagney
Wartime dreams
 The producer and director of Project Shaw, the brilliant, handsome and inspiring David Staller, was a great friend of Hermione Gingold so his company is called the Gingold Group
Hermione greets us at the door
David (on top step) tries to organise the cast for a group photo
and ends up photographing me while stage manager Nate Klaus ignores us.

Our star and Tony winner for BOOK OF MORMON Nikki M. James chats with cast member James Beaman who played Ladvenu.
One of the greats of American theatre and film, Mr. Fritz Weaver. My scenes were with him so I was in heaven.
Best Actor Tony winner for THE INVENTION OF LOVE Richard Easton (R) who was magnificent as the Earl of Warwick poses with Conan McCarty (De Courcelles).
Richard with Michael Selkirk (de Baudricourt)
Another Broadway stalwart, Roberta Maxwell, who played our Narrator
And two of the most talented men in town, Robert Stanton (the Archbishop) and the extraordinary Josh Grisetti (the Dauphin).
Me and Josh

Celebs in the audience! Composer Stephen Schwartz and Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies.