Friday, December 30, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

One Of Broadway's Bright Lights Has Gone Out

The distinctive comic character actor George S. Irving was a Broadway staple for decades, appearing in some of the most successful productions on the Great White Way. He was also well-known for his many TV apperances.

Irving was born George Irving Shelasky in Springfield, Massachusetts on November 1, 1922, the son of Abraham and Rebecca Shelasky (née Sack).

When Irving was 13 or 14, he sang in synagogues and churches as a boy soprano. By his final high school year in 1940, he heard about a dramatic school in Boston for those who were not quite draft age and who were tall and had deep voices, so he immediately received a scholarship. In 1942, he worked in the chorus of the St. Louis Muny Opera.

Irving made his debut in the original 1943 production of Oklahoma!, only to be drafted days later to serve in the United States Army in World War II. He received this role when one of the original actors lost his voice and Irving went on as his replacement. He explains the following: "I wrote to The Theatre Guild when they were casting Oklahoma! and asked them to remind Oscar Hammerstein that he knew me a little, and I got an audition and was cast in the chorus. Irving is best known to Broadway audiences for his role opposite Debbie Reynolds in Irene (1974) and his Tony nominated performance as Sir John in Me and My Girl (1987).

In 2008, Irving recreated the three roles he originally played in the ill-fated 1976 Joseph Stein musical So Long, 174th Street, now reworked, revised, and with its original title Enter Laughing at Off-Broadway's York Theatre Company, and received rave reviews for his rendition of "The Butler's Song". Irving performed his one-man cabaret show to great acclaim at Feinstein's in New York City in November 2008. On December 8, 2008, aged 86, Irving received the 17th Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre.

One of his most prominent non-Broadway roles was a voice-over for The Year Without a Santa Claus, in which he played the embittered Heat Miser opposite Dick Shawn's Snow Miser. He did another voice-over for Rankin-Bass as Mister Geppetto in Pinocchio's Christmas and was the narrator of the animated cartoon series Underdog, as well as the voice of Running Board on Go Go Gophers. He also voiced Captain Contagious in Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure. Irving has also narrated the popular Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Audio Books.

Irving returned to television in 2008 after an absence of more than a decade to reprise his role as Heat Miser in a new sequel to The Year Without a Santa Claus, A Miser Brothers' Christmas, which premiered on December 13, 2008, on cable's ABC Family. The show served as the network's first-ever original animated special. The production was nominated for an Annie Award for Best Animated Television Production Produced for Children by the Los Angeles Chapter of the International Animated Film Society.

Irving was familiar to television audiences of the 1970s as a result of his memorable guest-starring appearances on All in the Family as Russ DeKuyper, the loudmouthed husband of Edith Bunker's cousin Amelia. He was also a regular in the cast of the short-lived 1976 sitcom The Dumplings. Irving also did some work in commercials for While Owl Cigars in the early 1970s.

Irving was married to Maria Karnilova from 1948 until her death in 2001. They had a son, Alexander of Oceanside, California, a daughter, Katherine Irving of South Salem, New York, and three grandchildren.

Irving died yesterday in Manhattan at the age of 94

Friday, December 16, 2016

Broadway's Ten Best Christmas Songs? Try These . . .

Broadway musicals and Christmas have been going together for a long time.
And a good Christmas song is usually a sure way to brighten most any Broadway show. But, not all Broadway Christmas songs are bright and cheery. Some are a bit more gloomy.

Here are ten* of the best:

1) It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas from Here's Love.
2) We Need A Little Christmas from Mame.
3) Be A Santa from Subways Are For Sleeping
4) Hard Candy Christmas from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

5) Turkey Lurkey Time from Promises, Promises
6) Christmas Is My Favorite Time of Year from Catch Me If You Can
7) Lovers on Christmas Eve from I Love My Wife
8) I Don't Remember Christmas from Starting Here, Starting Now
9) A Greenwillow Christmas from Greenwillow
10) Christmas Child from Irma La Douce

*Note that we have not included songs such as White Christmas or Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas as these were written not for Broadway but specifically for movie musicals.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

LOTS Of Sizzle To Be Found Here . . .

The Bodyguard: The Musical starring Deborah Cox
For tickets visit

MAYBE You Can Get In; Maybe It's Worth A Shot

Actors Nathan Lane and John Goodman visit TODAY to discuss their roles in a new revival of the groundbreaking Broadway play “The Front Page,” which originally debuted in 1928. Goodman said the once-controversial comedy has held up all these years because it’s so well-constructed; Lane admits he still gets jitters before a performance and jokes that his solution is “prescription drugs.”

If you want tickets to The Front page on Broadway, you'd better hurry.
The show will positively close at the end of January. It's a limited run that began this summer and must end next month.
And, if you're going to see Nathan Lane in The Front Page, you'll have to be patient. This is a big, old-fashioned three-act comedy and Mr. Lane doesn't appear until nearly all of the character situations have been established and most of the action is well underway.
But why obsess over Nathan Lane when you've got John Goodman, Robert Morse, John Slattery, Jefferson Mays, Holland Taylor Sherie Rene Scott and many more to enjoy?
Plus, there's this classic tale penned by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur and the crisp direction of Jack O'Brien.
Yes, The Front Page is nearly 90 years old. And yes, it takes much of the first act just to establish the time, the setting and the premise of the tale, such as it is. And yes, you sometimes need a score card to keep track of the more than two dozen characters in the story and the comings and goings of its many players. And finally, the whole thing all takes place in one big room -- the the dingy Press Room of Chicago's Criminal Courts Building, overlooking the gallows behind the Cook County Jail. So, don't expect any dazzling sets or stellar costumes or anything like that.
But when you see this perfectly-synchronized, star-studded mounting of The Front Page, you're going to see some of the best actors in the world at the top of their game. You're going to witness absolute masters of timing as they hit their marks and ply their craft in a manner that will take your breath away. You will watch each one of them perform in a masterful ensemble while they still pull out all the stops to top one another. You'll be tricked, misled, caught off guard and surprised at every turn as you chortle through the still-snappy lines, the hijinks and even some of the more nimble elements of the set as the story unfolds.
This is a great homage to Chicago in the 1920s and the era of speakeasies, gangsters and a plethora of big city tabloids -- a time when newspapers ruled all media and the highbrow notion of  a "journalist" was unheard of. Today, we'd be tempted to call these newspapermen "snarky" but such a term wouldn't even come close. They were grubby, gritty, often ruthless and downright profane. But they knew the makings of a good story when they saw or heard one. And they could be witty, seductive, wildly adaptable and pragmatic when they had to be. Above all, they were relentlessly competitive. Their lives depended on it.
Thrown into this mix, you'll find a bit of politics, anarchy, philosophy, pop psychology and a First Amendment soufflé.
And Mr. Lane? Well, let's just say he's more than worth waiting for. He's a rat-a-tat-tat machine gun of comic delight. He's a perfect match for John Slattery and the two of them tear up the stage.
The Front Page is a total screwball laugh fest that simply never lets up.
If you're lucky enough to have (or get) tickets you're in for a rollercoaster of risibility.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Broadway And Christmas? They're PERFECT Together!

The holidays are a perfect time to see a show. Broadway performs every day of the week at multiple curtain times to accommodate every schedule, including holidays. During Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks, some shows are changing their performance schedules.

“It’s a joy to see a Broadway show during the festive winter holidays,” says Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League. “Alternate curtain times – including special matinees and evening performances - provide a variety of opportunities to better accommodate the changing schedules of theatregoers throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks.”

During Thanksgiving week, some shows will play on Thanksgiving Day, and many will play Friday matinees. TWELVE shows will be playing on Christmas! During Christmas week, alternate curtain times will also include Friday matinees and evening performances. Check to see the holiday performance schedules and easily find out where and when shows are playing.


Broadway Performance Times for Christmas Week