Imelda’s Turn

Imelda Staunton in the acclaimed London production of GYPSY.  It's bound for Broadway!

Imelda Staunton in the acclaimed London production of GYPSY. It’s bound for Broadway!

Imelda Staunton of Harry Potter fame did a spectacular job in the London production of GYPSY, and guess what?  She’s going to be bringing it to Broadway in 2017!  I always think the lights of Broadway never shine as brightly as they do whenever a production of GYPSY is on the boards, so I’m looking forward to this show already.  Take a look at the London trailer here, and know that a new Rose will be blooming on Broadway soon!

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An Incredibly Fantastic Tony Awards Opening Saluting Theater Kids

Theater kids, I always say, are the same as any other kids anywhere.  We just happen to dance to a different beat.  Make that a happy, uplifting beat.  Take if rom me, Broadway music can give children the kind of boost that can provide them the impetus to rise above practically anything.

So many times, when I meet another adult and find out they were  a fellow musical-theater-lovin’ kid, it’s funny, but on first meeting I usually feel like I’ve known them forever.  There’s a distinct and glowing difference to these wonderful people, an “anything’s possible” attitude of positivity.  That’s especially true of those who love musicals like MAME, the story of a woman who embraces life to the fullest and the show I was in at twelve, in a theater workshop that changed my whole life.  I remember how much the theater meant to me when I was young, especially during the years I was attending a particularly nasty and miserably-run school.  I think a lot of kids, when surrounded by the ugly, reach for the good to counter-balance it, and we find it in the theater.  There wasn’t any place to be that was anywhere near as fabulous to me, especially then, as any seat in any theater, be it on Broadway or the nearest high school gym.

I have been watching The Tony Awards since I was twelve years old, and I’ve always loved them, the annual televised salute to the best of Broadway.  I especially love seeing the numbers from the newly nominated musicals, which help me decide which ones I want to rush right out and see, and which cast albums, I want to get, too.

This year, though, last night, the opening number was, undisputedly, beyond a doubt, the very best one of them all.  It was a salute to theater kids!  It was all about us, and how our love of the theater put so many of us onto our career paths.  Host James Corden illustrated what it was like for him to be brought to the theater by his parents, complete with a “Little James” character of his younger self.  Before I was the author of Mama Rose’s Turn: The True Story of America’s Most Notorious Stage Mother, once upon a time, I was a little girl sitting in a plush seat at the Winter Garden Theater, enchanted by watching Angela Lansbury in GYPSY come up the aisle, calling out, “Sing out, Louise!”    I’ve even got plans for a fiction book, a mystery, for middle school-age kids,  set during the era of traveling vaudeville acts, and you can be sure, the love I have for that long-ago time period that all began the day I was in that audience of GYPSY.

James Corden and anyone else involved in writing this phenomenal number should get a special award for it, not to mention a gold star in heaven, too.  Oh, and did I happen to mention, the nominees are in it?  Take a look!  Here it is, boys!  Here it is, WORLD!  Here’s the best Opening Number of the Tony Awards of them all.  This is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.  Enjoy!

 

 

Opening Soon on Broadway: ALLEGIANCE, George Takei’s Musical About His Family

ALLEGIANCE, a new musical opening soon on Broadway.

ALLEGIANCE, a new musical opening soon on Broadway.

The Broadway show I am most interested in seeing this season is the musical ALLEGIANCE.

The show stars George Takei of Star Trek fame as his own father and is about one of the most shameful periods in American history: the internment of the Japanese during World War II.  Of the thousands Japanese that were sent away to camps on suspicion of being “enemy agents” working for the Emperor, seventy percent (70%) were, in actuality, American-born.  George Takei was one of them.

The show’s website is here: http://allegiancemusical.com/

Twitter link for the show is here: http://twitter.com/allegiancebway

The Facebook page is here: http://www.facebook.com/AllegianceToBroadway?fref=ts

Performances will begin on October 6th at the Longacre Theater.

BRAVA, Patti LuPone, for Confiscating a Cell Phone at Your Show

Patti LuPone is starring in SHOW OF DAYS at Lincoln Center, and did the right thing - again - re: a rude audience member. BRAVO!

Patti LuPone is starring in SHOWS FOR DAYS at Lincoln Center, and did the right thing – again – re: a rude audience member. BRAVO!

I think Patti LuPone is fantastic!  She’s one of my favorite actresses, but it goes beyond that.  She’s also a rare and honest person who doesn’t sit down and take any guff from anybody, including rude and obnoxious members of theatrical audiences.

Miss LuPone is currently starring in SHOWS FOR DAYS at  Lincoln Center Theater.  She went ballistic at an audience member at GYPSY a few years ago for taking photographs.  LuPone is not known for her tolerance of those pesky audience members who ruin the ambience of live theater by texting on their telephones, checking their status updates, or taking photographs of the performance – and nor should she have to be.  Those who behave like that in the theater are nothing less than a flat-out pestilence to the rest of us!

I am often floored, when I go to a Broadway show, at how many telephones in the audience are lit before the curtain rises.  Just floored.  Once, from the vantage point of a balcony, I counted over fifty lit phones, pre-overture.  When the announcement is made for people to turn those phones off and retain from taking pictures, since that’s a copyright violation and illegal, most do, but not all.  At a show in the famous Palace Theater a few years ago, I sat in a box behind some people who were illegally, and brazenly, filming the entire first act.  Texting goes on throughout, evidenced by annoying little patches of light glowing in the audience darkness.

Intermission at these theaters is an unbelievable sight to see.  The lights go up, and the phones come out – all over the theater!  The Ladies Room lines, which are usually over fifty women strong, are a study in willful isolation, where the majority of the gals await their moment on the porcelain thrones while texting, status updating, and making or answering “traditional” telephone calls.

Obviously there are times when a call or text must be made, but it always strikes me as very strange that so many of these people can not even, literally, go to the bathroom without whipping their phones out and sending little messages.  What kind of “business” can be so pressing that the phones have to be activated during the too-few minutes between acts?  Is it not even possible for these phone-atics to refrain from using the things long enough to go to the can?

So it is with great pride and pleasure that I share the news of Patti LuPone’s latest response to an annoying telephone nut: at her show the other night, Patti strode over to the offender in question, snatched the bloomin’ phone right out of her over-active hand, and walked away with it.  Yes!

Hallelujah, and BRAVA, Patti!   Well done!  I’m so with you on this!

May this be the start of a trend.  If every actor and actress in the professional theater would vow to stand up and do something about these pain-in-the-butt audience members it would make for a much more enjoyable experience for all those of us – and we’re legion – who go to these shows to see the performances and watch the stars who stand before us, onstage, in the glow of spotlights…not the phone lights.

The phone Patti so beautifully confiscated was returned to the offender at the end of the show, unfortunately.  Patti didn’t steal it, she just got rid of it for awhile.  Good!  No doubt the Texting Wonder will be using it again, to disrupt some other performance soon, maybe even one at a theater near you.

Patti LuPone should get an award for her stance, and her fearlessness in taking action.  Bravissimo!  You go, girl!

On with the show!

Here’s some more on the subject from Broadwayworld.com and The New York Times:

http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Audience-Rudeness-Continues-Patti-LuPone-Snatches-Cell-Phone-During-SHOWS-FOR-DAYS-Performance-20150709#

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/10/theater/hold-the-phone-its-patti-lupone.html?_r=0

 

Is This the Sign that Inspired The Book?

This may be the very sign that inspired my book, MAMA ROSE'S TURN.

This may be the very sign that inspired my book, MAMA ROSE’S TURN.

I was very happy to find this photo of the Winter Garden Theater in 1974 today online.

It’s not the clearest of photos in terms of the lettering on the sign, so I can’t be sure if it’s the one I saw, outside of the theater, the day I first saw the musical GYPSY.  I seem to recall it was up on a billboard, higher above the street.  This one is on the theater itself.

But if one of the things written on that sign is the words “A Musical Fable,” well, that was the line that put me on the road to writing MAMA ROSE’S TURN later.  I wanted to find out what the difference was between the real story of Gypsy Rose Lee’s family and the fable I’d just seen on the stage.

It must be on there somewhere because GYPSY couldn’t be advertised without it.

If anyone out there in cyberspace has photos of this show’s time at the Winter Garden, I’d so love to see them!