Thursday, December 23, 2010

For the record


Don’t know if this should be under stages or pages, as it is actually both.  I mentioned in my last post that I was reading Peter Filicia’s BROADWAY MUSICALS book. On page 121 he made the prediction that if Tim Rice got as much attention and success as former partner Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rice would also be hated.  I take exception.  Having worked with them both on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, when they were going through their split – I found Webber difficult to deal with – he refused most interviews and never explained why until almost a week had passed when he erupted saying he would not do an interview with Tim! A lot of time and work could have been saved had he stated that to start. 
Each, at separate interviews spoke of his upcoming shows.  Webber was infuriated with Rice, but Rice was never negative about Webber.  Rice was also a breeze to work with, cooperative, on time, charming to interviewers.  I do not believe people will turn against him if he became the biggest thing since Facebook.  Webber would have lost friends and influence over people had he never “made it” because he had a negative attitude and an appalling sense of his own importance even then.
They were blocking the main aisle at Joseph   when I tried to bring a critic to his seat at one of the critic nights.  The usher took the critic down front and I urged Andrew and Tim to take their argument outside away from audience ears.  But Tim was not arguing - Andrew was. Tim was trying to placate and calm him, but the then Mr. Webber was looking for a fight in public.  Believe me, Webber was oh so easy to dislike.


               Just finished reading BLOOMSBURY by Leon Edel – the Henry James authority.  The man has a genius for creating real characters in a matter of a paragraph or two. He gives at least a chapter to each of the Bloomsbury brood as he first itnroduces them, and then often another chapter further along in their lives.  He makes the group more alive than many a talk show host manages to make his guests.  It was a delight to read it, and to read of the negative reaction this group of gifted and genius level intellects and artists had upon others alive at the time.  Funny to be reading all that in one room, while reading Virginia Woolf’s THE YEARS in another. How could one not make comparisons between the actual people and their counterparts in the novel?

                 My own work on PIXIE TALES is at a standstill awaiting artist’s renditions.  I have worked only sporadically on the Memoir of a childhood during the great depression.  The Christmas spirit seems to have stolen the creative one – or at least, temporarily anesthetized it.

                    Will probably not add another post to this blog until after the holidays.   Enjoy yours as I intend to enjoy mine.

                      Enjoy your life - every day.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Talents and Amusements

Had a great experience at Paley Center For Media to be among a packed house audience for I Like America: Noel Coward in the USA on Thursday, Dec. 16  this multi-media tribute to Noel Coward was narrated by  Barry Day, editor of The Noel Coward Reader.
It featured clips of Noel Coward and Gertrude Laurence, in a tribute Coward made to Ms Laurence, also Noel singing some of his best loved songs, and being interviewed on early TV – responding with his usual wit and humor.  Also, live performances of his songs and comments by Nancy Anderson, Edward Hibbert and Steve Ross, who accompanied all on the piano.   Extra added attraction was special guest Tammy Grimes who spoke a bit about her reminiscences - a very little bit – and then sang two Coward songs. The event was to celebrate the 111th birthday of this man with such a great “talent to amuse.” It was  also a treat to see photos of Mr. Coward with the many greats of the entertainment field with whom he worked and the clip of his performing with Mary Martin was another treat. In all, it was like a taste sampler of the best memories of Mr. Coward, who indeed has outlived himself.

Received some lovely photos to accompany my on line article re dance for February re NY2Dance. Which brings me to a correction to an older post – Art Times Journal’s URL is  I had one of my infamous typos on the URL which I posted previously. Do check it out. Older articles are available under dance there as well.  The entire publication is a culture lovers dream.

TnT Classic Books’ only kids book to date, Melissa Thea’s AlphaBETTER BOOK is being featured for Christmas giving on several sites.  Check out: where it is among the gifts suggested for differently abled kids gifts.  I like that phrase so much better than learning challenged.   The Pixie Tales E-book Maggie Cousins and I are readying for publication late this winter will be TnT Classic Books second volume for kids – and there will be a very few paper copies of it also made available.

Jendi Reiter’s Barbie at 50 is a beautifully written little book – under 30 pages – of what is considered contemporary poetry.  I still see it as poetic prose – some of the best I have ever read.  For me, poetry remains metric, stanza formatted, and mostly rhymed expressions from the soul of the author.  I prefer it clearly stated and easy even for those not tuned into flowery metaphors to understand and enjoy.  Nevertheless, for those who are into contemporary poetry, this book is a gem.  I would call it short essays on the various topics she has undertaken to spotlight with her often fun-filled, fluid and fanciful words. Enjoyable even if you do not call it poetry.

I am currently reading Broadway Musicals by Peter Felicia, a knowledgeable and most likeable theater lover and historian. Peter writes of Broadway flops a hits with a lively passion and a personally slanted take which I relish. I well remember when we met on a Manhattan street one day many years back, when I was still a theatrical press agent, and I introduced him to a close friend of mine. His eyes lit up.  He reeled off a number of musicals in which she had appeared.  He made her day, for most people were not so well acquainted with Maggie Task’s oeuvre.  Maggie was co-founder of TnT Classic Books, and a cartoonist and artist as well as an accomplished Broadway, film and television actress. TnT Classic Book’s Happy Task imprint is dedicated to her memory.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Old and new

I’m going to expand a little into film – a film about the ballet world – BLACK SWAN.  It was hypnotic.  My companion, an actress, was muttering and groaning to herself through many scenes and I thought she was hating it.  When it was over, she said she had to see it again.  She thought it was brilliant.  So did I. 
Getting inside the mind of someone who sees the world askew is always fascinating and often terrifying.  Dostoevsky was a master at this. .
 As an audience, knowing what is external reality and what is internal is a challenge that keeps the movie even more suspenseful.  Discussing the picture days later, we agreed it was a stunner, that the cinematography, the direction, the acting were all superb.  I have had friends with delusions.  I found the film true to the way I have seen them behave.  The ballet music was thrilling throughout, and if I have a favorite music, I guess it is the music I relate to classical ballets.  It was at the ballet I learned to appreciate Stravinsky and  Gould.
I once had a funny quarrel with a friend who adores classical music but was unacquainted with ballet.  A radio station we were listening to on our way to a play was playing a classical selection. We tuned in in the middle.  I named it for the ballet that I could see as I listened.  She named it as the original piece of music.  I finally said she was probably right about its original name, but for me it would always be the music from the ballet.  We both knew it was Tchaikovsky, however. Would love to have your reactions to this film posted below.

I just had the joy of reading, in original hard cover, James L. Ford’s novel, Dolly Dillenbeck.  I know it is now also available on e-book format.  I learned by googling the author that it was sold for $1 when first published.  I read a short story by the author online, also courtesy of a google contact, as well as an original review.  For me, holding that little book, with its cover design of a gilded bottle of champagne and comedy and tragedy masks, with its gilded top pages, was a thrill in itself.  In terms of its depiction of the theater, it is not as out of date as some of the language or its use of names which indicate character. I enjoyed it immensely since it combined both my loves, stage and page! Read it when you can.

I also finished reading KARMA by Nancy Deville which graphically depicts the sex slave trade and is a stomach churner. While not always well written, it is a thriller that you find hard to put aside – and even harder to put out of your mind for days afterwards.
This brings to our attention a hideous situation in our current world, one we generally do not like to or bother to think about.  I congratulate Nancy on her thoroughness in writing this book.  I urge you to consider reading it even if you must lay it aside for a few hours because it is so distressing to realize that so much is truth concerning what is going on around our world today.  If you read it, do come back to this blog and write your opinions. Just hit comment under this entry and fire away.

I have begun reading Jendi Reiter’s BARBIE at 50 – an image-strong book of contemporary prose poetry.  Will report on it soon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

New thoughts -old acquaintances


Thursday evening’s  Fall 2010 Playwriting Festival featured scenes from plays in progress.  The plays each had good dialogue, a sense of theater and were played by talented people. One of the performers, Pamela Osowski, I had not seen for almost 30 years. Recognizing me, she reminded me her appearance in my production of Jane Chambers’ A LATE SNOW enabled her and the rest of the cast to go Equity.  I was amazed how ittle she had changed over the years - still a strunning woman.

Victor Gluck, whose scene I  directed for that evening, and I were nervous as we had an actor, Robby Johnson,  who had said he might not get to the event until 6:30 as he was Santa Claus at Macy’s. One play had been withdrawn since the author was in Canada for an opening of another of his works, which meant we were scheduled to go on about .  The last play before ours was on stage, and no sign of our actor.  As the applause rang out, the door opened and there he was.  He got his costume pieces, flipped them on and went straight onto the stage to give a sensational performance, along with our other two actors – Heather Massie and Fred T. Milani,  who had sat in 1900’s costume throughout the evening. How relieved we all were when Santa Claus arrived in our section of town in time for his cue!  Ourplay was introduced by Jean Reynolds who had appeared in the first pklay I ever directed for Victor, also almosst 30 years ago  - so there was another reunion.

Many of my pals, most much younger than I,  are either in hospital or scheduling procedures that requite hospitalization, that I added a chapter to my memoir - about growing up during the depression and WWII – a chapter on doctors and hospitals.  And boy, when you talk about the time’s they are a changin', this is one way that they have dramatically changed – and not always for the better.  I have been writing the chapter for the last two days, which puts on hold my working on a Genie story for the final e-book of TnT Classic Books'  upcoming series  But genies have all the time in the world, so I don’t fear she will go away during the hiatus.

Cleaning a stack of books I found I had mislaid KARMA a novel by Nancy  Deville which I had promised to review - so I began reading it last night and it is one of those shocking and absorbing books you hate to put down, so forgive me – I am going back to it now and will report my reactions when I finish it in a few days.

By the way - several friends say they read my blog often but they have not signed on as followers.  Guess all my pals are basically leaders!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

updating my life with dance and writing

My article on THE CHILDREN OF ARARAT dance piece is currently on line at ,  Check it out,  and also some of the archived articles as well.

Working on piece for them for February about a dance performance called DANCING TO FREEDOM.   Interesting note - dance started as a religious expression and is now, in these two instances, an historic and political one!

A year ago I was working 10-12 hours a day on computer editing and formatting plays for SHORT PLAYS TO LONG REMEMBER.  It was a challenge with eye problem (had laser surgery soon after) and arthritic fingers that hit wrong keys or two keys at once.  A nightmare. Swore never to do another book Won a 2010 Next Generation INDIE Finalist Award for it and  yes.ow  I am up to my eyeballs in pixie pictures for Pixie Tales  e-book  due to be sent to Smashwords end of January – 7 weeks to go!

Have done slews of blog radio interviews to promote SHORT PLAYS and other books I’ve written.  Some of their urls

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2 plays and 2 illustrated kids books

This Thursday from 5 – 7 a playwriting class will perform scenes from their various plays in progress. Victor Gluck’s new play, based on a Henry James novel, from which I am directing the first scene, will be last on the program of 7 selections and features Heather Massie, Robby Johnson and Fred Milani. It’ll be fun and its free -  It’sd limited seating at Primary Stages' ESPA (Einhorn School of Performing Arts)
307 W. 38th Street, Suite 1510
    Playwrights Festival of scenes from Rogelio Martinez's "Rewrite' class.

Saw HAUNTED at 59 East 59th – great cast, fascinating set, but somehow it never touched me. 

Artist Maggie Cousins has done a delightful illustration for one of the 5 stories in our upcoming e-book, PIXIE TALES, these read to me stories will eventually be in a big paper book called PLEASANT DREAMS along with ELFIN TALEs, due as ebook in Spring, FAIRY TALES, due out in sumemr and GREMLINS GOBLINS AND GENIES, OH MY! due out in autumn.
Just read a charmingly illustrated book by Charlotte Bucher who also wrote the story of Cecil Learns to Smile.  Her water colors are delightful, and her info on frogs should fascinate young children.  The story was to show how smiling makes everything around you better, but I got a different message. The family which had teased Cecil for being so undersized and claimed he’d never make anything of himself, suddenly made him a hero when he became a celebrity. They claim it was because he made something of himself, but I think the other message is also prevalent – they wanted to be friends now that he was a celeb.. Hopefully kids won’t take away that idea. Also, as one with publishing experience, I found the running together of many paragraphs on one page heavy with type, and then pages with hardly anything on them, a disconcerting layout decision. The art work will probably make up for that for most people. It’s her first book – so hopefully she will have more control over the layouts and the ratio of art to words in future.If you have kids that like little creatures, they’ll probably enjoy this book.

Week of Dec. 5

Blogging has been urged by everyone who interviewed me on blog talk radio, as well as those whose books I review and whose dance events I cover for Art Times Journal. I have finally succumbed. stages and pages sums up my professional life and interests, so it seemed a natural name
I start after seeing A Free Man of Color and Time Stands  Still on stage and the film of Hereafter.
I learned to love history since I left school, having found 1776 a fantastic source of history and a wonderful theatrical experience. I cannot say the same for A Free Man Of Color, a meandering history lesson which never caught my interest. The sets and costumes had color but the script held grey foggy confusion. I've loved many a Guare play - but this one, even free, was not worth two hours in a theatre.

Hereafter was not the film I expected, but it had the fascination of a jigsaw puzzle and philosophy to which I can easily acquiesce. I’d been warned the ending was weak, but I found it romantically satisfying. Overheard one woman at the private screening saying it was a waste of time. Sorry she felt that way - I found it time entertainingly spent and hoped it would open a few closed minds which hover behind religious doors.

Time Stands Still, by Donald Margulies, which I read a week before, did not disappoint. Laura Linney created the character much as I imagined her. The men portrayed their characters with the proper  blandness. Neither the editor nor the writer was meant to have half the strength and color of character as the photographer, and so they played it. Christina Ricci did a great job of maturing as a woman during the course of the play. It depicts the dilemma of women with ambitious dreams and the truth that love is not always enough to make a great relationship.

Let me know your thoughts on these presentations.

Favorite book of the year so far is KALEIDESCOPE by Paul Gehrman, which I read for the Bay Area book contest.  In fact, I think its the ATLAS SHRUGGED of the twenty-first century.  It is always exciting when a fellow author reflects and proclaims ideas you hold dear and the thought that too many people don't think for themselves but blindly follow dicta is certainly dear to me.