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Live Performance

Johnny Carson Musical Moving Forward

Cover_JohnnyCarsonIt was during an interview with Mediabistro last fall that Johnny Carson‘s former attorney Henry Bushkin first publicly revealed his plans for a musical based on his book Johnny Carson:

“We are in the midst of some very interesting and confidential discussions about a Broadway play with music centered around a particular year, like 1980, in Carson’s life and my life. Like a snippet. All I can say is that there’s compelling interest in that. The Broadway audience is Carson’s sweet spot. The entertainment value of it is going to be significant.”

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Lisa Lampanelli and the New York Times

Every once in a while, a reviewer or interviewer will note the journalism background of stand-up star Lisa Lampanelli. The latest to do this, ahead of the 52-year-old performer’s Saturday night engagement in Pittsfield, MA, is Berkshire Eagle reporter Dick Lindsay.

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Since the name of Lampanelli’s current tour is “Leaner, Meaner,” we thought it worth revisiting another recent such LL piece. Last year, Las Vegas Review-Journal nightlife columnist Doug Elfman reminded of the role played by the Grey Lady with regards to this lady’s tour and stage tags:

“I know how to manipulate the press a little bit,” says Lampanelli, who studied post-grad journalism at Harvard.

“Back in the day, I wanted a nickname,” she says. “So I remember getting interviewed by the New York Times, and I planted the whole ‘Queen of Mean’ nickname in the Times.”

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Local References Abound at Billy Joel’s Hollywood Bowl Debut

At one point during Saturday’s Hollywood Bowl concert, the first of three debut-dates for Billy Joel, he performed “Say Goodbye to Hollywood.” Per a review by Orange County Register critic Ben Wener, he told the audience he hasn’t performed that one live since the 1980s and joked that it might quickly turn into a “rock ’n’ roll screw-up.”

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Meanwhile, in his write-up, LA Times critic Randall Roberts leads with some information shared Saturday that probably surprised many in the 17,000-plus audience. The origins of one of Joel’s most famous hits:

“Here’s a song I wrote when I was working at Wilshire and Western,” Billy Joel said Saturday during his first-ever performance at the Hollywood Bowl, introducing “Piano Man” from 1973. The detail no doubt came as a surprise to many who consider Joel an archetypal New Yorker and the record a celebration of city life.

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Daniel Radcliffe Points Out Two Subtle Differences Between London and New York

USA Today theater and music critic Elysa Gardner, like many others recently, had the pleasure of catching up with multi-talented 24-year-old Daniel Radcliffe. He’s set to open his third Broadway play, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Sunday at the Cort Theatre.

Radcliffe tells Gardner he now feels very much at home in NYC and appreciates the subtle differences in social culture:

Radcliffe finds the overall vibe “more positive than in London.” The Brits “like to revel in our grumpiness a bit, and you’re not like that here…”

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Texas Christian University Grad Makes Good on Broadway Promise

BenThompsonMatildaNice piece by Samantha Calimbahin, a communications student at Texas Christian University, about another one-time denizen of TCU’s halls. She profiles Class of 2003 grad and current NYC theater star Ben Thompson (pictured).

Thompson debuted on the Great White Way via 2010′s American Idiot. This season, at least until Christopher Sieber‘s broken wrist fully heals, he’s donning the fat suit daily to portray fearsome Miss Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical (Time‘s Top Play/Musical of 2013).  As Calimbahin documents, it is for Thompson a dream fully and impressively realized:

When Thompson performed at his [TCU] senior jury, his jurors asked: “What do you want to do?”

“I’m moving to New York. I’m going to be on Broadway,” said Thompson.

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The Rocky Musical Reviews Are In

RockyMusicalPosterThe cleverest headline following last night’s Broadway musical debut sits atop the review by NBC New York’s Robert Kahn. It reads: “Knockout Second Act Helps ‘Rocky’ Come Back.”

Like many of his colleagues, including Variety‘s Marilyn Stasio and the Washington Post‘s Peter Marks, Kahn was blown away by the staging of the show’s climax:

The electric final 15 minutes of the new musical based on Sylvester Stallone’s small-town Philly boxer are likely to inspire a heavy outpouring of adjectives: Game-changing. Jaw-dropping. Astounding. All are fair…

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Former Chicago Tribune Columnist Brings One-Woman Show to New York

In terms of organic self-promotion, it’s going to be hard this week to beat the teaser for Kelly HaramisDouble Happiness, debuting Thursday at St. Marks Theater as part of the Frigid New York festival and encoring February 23, 26, March 1, 4 and 6. The show is about Haramis’ fertility and adoption quest to build a family, and the promo for the NYC performances features her two young daughters.

The one-woman show picks up, essentially, where Haramis’ 12-year journalism career left off. From a recent write-up by Chicago-based Huffington Post contributor R. Clifton Spargo:

Formerly a writer and editor for the Chicago Tribune, Haramis chronicled her efforts to adopt a child through a popular column, “Journey to Adoption,” in the paper’s Sunday “Q” style section from 2005 through 2007. She received hundreds of letters from around the world, and her daughter, Athena, would be recognized on the street after her arrival in the U.S.

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Paul Simon, Sting Kick Things Off in Houston

You know how often it’s the most trivial, youth-driven stuff that goes viral? Well, here’s a potential antidote to all that to start off your February 10-14 week.

Sting and Paul Simon kicked off their two-month tour this weekend in Houston. At one point, they teamed for a great version of the Simon & Garfunkel song “The Boxer,” ending with Sting kissing Simon on the forehead. Enough said.

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Fans Respond to Flea’s Super Bowl Mea Culpa

ShutterstockFleainFinlandUnder the website blog post headline “A MESSAGE FROM FLEA” and the salutation ‘Dear everybody,’ the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ flamboyant bassist has penned a detailed explanation of how he and his bandmates came to accept a fate they swore they never would ever again. Being forcibly unplugged on a concert or TV performance stage. At the Super Bowl, no less!

Are hardcore fans buying Flea’s account of the NFL’s unbending halftime show live-performance rules and the band’s reasons for going along with them? Well, it depends which reader comment response(s) you peruse. At press time, there are dozens of supportive registered-user comments among the 100+ left so far (many, for some reason, are duplicated).

Most recently from the “Not Buying It” side (n2suntzu):

Dear Flea,

What a pant load…

You knowingly engaged in deceiving the people watching and expecting to see live music. Deception is fundamentally a lie. Lying is fundamentally an insult as it either consciously or unconsciously expresses the belief that the person being lied to is not smart enough to figure it out.

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Renée Fleming Comes to Super Bowl XLVIII with Full Playbook of ‘Kudos’

ReneeFlemingPicOpera superstar Renée Fleming, who will perform the national anthem at MetLife Stadium on Sunday accompanied by the New Jersey Symphony and 32 standout U.S. military singers, needs no introduction. However, we have to applaud her for one of the liveliest website “clippings” sections we’ve recently come across.

In terms of both navigation and curation, Fleming’s “Kudos” tab is a breezy blast, bracketed by an April 2013 New York Times article and trio of November 2007 New York newspaper reviews of La Traviata. There’s much more to savor in-between, from how Fleming helped organize a one-night comedic event last winter at Chicago’s Second City to the way she took hold of an Albert Hall “Proms” series in the fall of 2010. From Ivan Hewett‘s excerpted Telegraph write-up:

One of the two star guests alongside the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jiri Belohlavek was soprano Renée Fleming, and she provided the most ravishing vocal sounds I’ve heard in the Albert Hall these past two months.

Looking resplendent in a purple power frock designed by Vivienne Westwood, she nailed the emotional heart of Strauss’s songs in a way that stilled the waving flags and brought total silence to the packed hall.

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