Maude’s Adrienne Barbeau is Flying High in the Tour of Pippin

AdriennBarbeau(PCM) Adrienne Barbeau is fondly remembered as Carol, the divorced daughter of “Maude” in the popular 1970’s television sitcom, and she is still going strong some 37 years later.

In fact, now she is flying through the air on a trapeze for her current role as the grandmother, Berthe, in the national tour of the beloved time-honored musical “Pippin.” She has been with the show on and off for a year, and after Philadelphia the tour heads to Amsterdam.

The show, from Feb. 23-28 at the Academy of Music, is the Philadelphia premiere of the 2013 Tony Award-winning revival. Described as “an eye-popping, jaw-dropping, visually stunning extravaganza,” this production is the first revival of “Pippin” since its original run on Broadway 40 years ago.

With a beloved score by Tony nominee Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked”), “Pippin” tells the story of a young prince on a death-defying journey to find meaning in his existence. This captivating new production is directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus (“Hair” and “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.”)

“The Kimmel Center is honored to share the Philadelphia premiere of “Pippin” with our audiences,” said Kimmel Center President and CEO Anne Ewers. “The well-known songs, combined with eye-catching acrobatics, add a new dimension to the artistry of modern-day Broadway productions.”

Now 70, Barbeau, has lived a full life and is still enjoying a rather brilliant career as an actress, writer, voice actor and more. She has made 25 movies, including “The Fog,” “Escape From New York,” “Back to School,” and “Creepshow.”

She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Rizzo in “Grease,” and got her theatrical start in one of her favorite musicals, “Fiddler on the Roof.”

She is also a best-selling author, and a doting mother to three grown sons.

Barbeau has made more than 500 television appearances from the daughter, Carol, in “Maude” to Ruthie, the Snake Dancer, in HBO’s “Carnivale.”

Although so many years have passed, Barbeau still finds fans of “Maude” regardless where she travels. The cutting-edge Norman Lear show, a spin-off of “All in the Family,” aired from the fall of 1972 to the spring of 1978.

“Maude” was about the title character, an outspoken, middle-aged, politically liberal woman whose overbearing and sometimes domineering personality often gets her into trouble when speaking out on these issues.

The character of Maude was living in suburban New York, with her fourth husband, and her daughter, Carol, a single mother and independent woman, played by Barbeau. It was a role that gained her legions of fans, who still enjoy telling her stories of how her character and the show positively impacted their lives.

Q: What are you enjoying about your role in “Pippin?”

Adrienne Barbeau: I absolutely love every aspect of it. I love the character, as well as the opportunity to hang upside and sing my songs from a trapeze.

Q: Is there anything else that especially appeals to you?

AB: Yes. I would say that getting to know the United States. I have visited certain cities that I never would have visited on my own. It was a little more difficult in the beginning because during the first couple of months my sons were in high school in L.A. and I took time off to get back for them. Now, they are in separate colleges, so I don’t have as much of a pull – although my dog would like me to home. But nothing else is demanding my attention in L.A. so I am just having a great time.

Q: You became the mother of twin boys at age 51 – that had to take guts.

AB: I would answer that the same way I would reply to, ‘how can you go on the trapeze without a net?’ I would say, ‘hasn’t it all been wonderful?’ I already had an older son, and having twins was such a different experience. I was overjoyed when my twins came along – all three of them are the greatest joy of my life.

Q: How are your sons doing?

AB: Really great. My eldest son is 32 and getting ready to go on the road with his father, John Carpenter, and my twins turn 19 on St. Patrick’s Day. One is playing soccer at Brown and the other is in fashion merchandising at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. He is a true entrepreneur intent on owning a line of men’s clothing.

Q: What do you attribute your long, rich and diverse career?

AB: I always just wanted to work. I love to work. I come from a strong work ethic; my mother, Armene, who died at age 81 was still working at two volunteer jobs and a paid job. My Aunt Ruby who is 100 years old would be working if she could. I come from a family of Armenian women who had that mindset – you grew up and you worked. I love it. That’s what it comes down to it. I don’t feel I did a day’s work in my life because I enjoy it so much. I love all of it!

Q: Is there any downside?

AB: Sure, I don’t enjoy having to audition. That’s the least enjoyable aspect of it all.

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Q: I have to ask you about your TV show “Maude,” and the long legacy of the show. What are fans saying to you?

AB: People are still watching it. The entire six seasons of the DVDs were released a year go and people are watching it again. I still have many people who come up to me and say, ‘My character or Bea’s character gave me a road map for how I could be in the world as a young woman in the ‘70s,’ – at a time when we didn’t even get the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) passed.

Q: There must be so many stories people have shared with you over the years. Can you tell me one that really resonated with you?

AB: I had a young man come up to me at a convention and he said, ‘I learned from that show that people could yell at each other and still love each other.’ He went on to say that he didn’t have that in his family; they just had the yelling.

Q: That is pretty profound.

AB: Yes. The show had a major effect on a lot of people – especially – independent women. Maude was certainly independent, and my character, Carol, who spoke up for what she believed in and she spoke up for women’s issues. Norman Lear’s liberal philosophy was delivered with so much humor that it was palatable even to those who didn’t agree. That’s what Norman brought to television starting with Archie Bunker in “All in the Family.”

Q: They say you never quite know how great a project like that is while you are in the thick of it. Do you agree?

AB: Oh, yes. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to be associated with the show. All of a sudden I discovered not everyone was as professional and caring about the material as Bea Arthur was. The show was great on every level and I was so proud to be associated with a show that had some social significance – not just pratfalls and silly jokes. I was just so lucky to be associated with a show that was so important.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants a career in entertainment?

AB: When it comes to careers if you can find something you love and earn a living doing that, that’s the greatest gift you can have in your life. I don’t care what my sons do as long as they love it.

Q: Anything else you want to add?

AB: As an actor, the more you can know and can discover about yourself – meditation, therapy, and reading – they better off you will be. You need to learn what drives you, why you react the way you do, and what your strengths are. If you do that, the better off you will be in this industry. I just think self understanding and self exploration is the key to making it work,

Q: In addition to your acting career on television, film and Broadway, you have written four books. How did that come about?

AB: It’s a total surprise to me. I never thought I would have written something than anyone else would read.

Q: How did it happen?

AB: I sort of stumbled on it through a bazaar happenstance.

Q: Do tell me about it.

AB: I met my closest friend film editor on my oldest son’s first day of preschool, and this wonderful woman died from breast cancer in 1998. On the first day of preschool for the twins I met a woman who looked just like my deceased friend. It turns out, she too, was a film editor and she had breast cancer. It seemed like we were destined to be close friends. During our first conversation she told me about a woman who had been on Broadway in musical comedies, and she was teaching a writing class for actors. I felt like my late friend, Suzanne, was telling me I had to take the class. The teacher lived a half a mile away, and I started taking the class.

Q: Then what happened?

AB: I started doing the writing assignments for homework and was writing about my career and my jobs. After six months the teacher told me to get an agent. She said I had a memoir and that I could get it published. That book became my memoir, “There Are Worse Things I Could Do.”

Q: So that was another creative outlet for you.

AB: Yes. Then I co-wrote a vampire book for my horror genre fans, got a deal for two books and the digital publisher asked for a third one, “Make Me Dead.” I finished that one before I went on the road for Pippin. All of this is something I never anticipated happening. The great part of the writing is it is something I can do and not be dependent on anyone else for the creativity. I can just sit down and create. Also, I can do it while I’m on the road with this show.

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Q: Tell me about the younger actors in Pippin, and do you give them advice?

AB: These guys are so good there is no advice I can give them other than they should always take care of their health. It is truly jaw-dropping what the acrobats in this show do. It is a remarkable cast and they are all doing exactly what they are doing. Maybe, once in a while, I will tell them to go home and get some rest

Q: What’s next?

AB: I will be taking the summer off to spend time with my sons. There is the possibility of another TV show, but it’s too early to talk about, and nothing is committed. I also have some voice over work for the video games.

Q: Thinking back over the years was the dream of your career anything like the reality?

AB: No, I never thought farther than the next step. I am not a planner. When I went to New York I remember saying to myself or writing in my journal that I would try this until I’m 25 and if I’m not making a living I will go back to school and teach. So it was about what ever came along and sounded interesting. I never had a plan. I never really anticipated becoming a professional actor. I didn’t know anyone who was. I didn’t know it was an actual job.

Q: So then what happened?

AB: A friend of mine suggested I go to New York and study, so I saved $1,000 working for a termite exterminating business on Saturdays and after school. I put everything I had in a box and told my mom when I had an address she could send it to me. I got a job at night so I could go to open calls. I went to a casting director who called me in for an audition and I got the part of Tevye’s second daughter, Hodol, in the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” It is still one of my favorites; I have also played the mother, Golda, a few times.

Q: The current revival for the 50th Anniversary is beautiful and emotional – you should do your best to see it. I loved it!

AB: I am going home to L.A. after the tour. But I would love to make a trip to New York soon to see it and some other shows – I will try to make that happen.

Q: Thank you so much, it has been a pleasure.

AB: Enjoy the show!

Tickets for “Pippin” may be purchased by calling (215) 893-1999, at the Kimmel Center Box Office, or go to: www.kimmelcenter.org. Group sales are available for groups of 10 or more by calling (215) 790-5883.

For more information on the tour, go to: www.PippinTheMusical.com

To check out more about Adrienne Barbeau go to: Abarbeau.com.

The post Maude’s Adrienne Barbeau is Flying High in the Tour of Pippin first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.

Beauty and the Beast Brings Magic to Philadelphia

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(PCM) When stage actor Kevin Kulp isn’t singing or dancing his heart out in the enchanting touring production of “Beauty and the Beast,” he finds other outlets for his creativity.

At age 24, the Morristown, N.J. native is thrilled to be coming back home for the Philadelphia return of the smash hit Broadway musical from February 16-21, as part of the Broadway Philadelphia 2015-2016 season.

The current touring show, which is produced by NETworks Presentations, reunites the creators of the original Broadway production, and promises the same magical experience.

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

Based on the 1991 Oscar-winning animated film and celebrating 21 years since its Broadway premiere in 1994, “Beauty and the Beast” is the 9th longest running musical in Broadway history. It has become an international sensation seen by more than 35 million people worldwide in 22 countries, and translated into nine different languages. This production began in February 2010 and has been seen by nearly three million people.

“It’s always a special treat when we’re able to invite families and theater loves to come to the relive a classic like Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” said Kimmel Center President and CEO Anne Ewers. “This treasured story, now brought back to life by the Broadway production’s original creators, is sure to be a must-see for fans of all ages.”

Kulp plays a townsperson and enchanted object. His credits include: “Anything Goes”  at The Marriott Theatre, “Miss Saigon”  at the Walnut Street Theatre and Signature Theatre, “A Chorus Line” (Paul), and “The King and I” at the Walnut Street Theatre and Olney Theatre.

Q: When did you join the current tour of “Beauty and the Beast?”

KEVIN KULP: I joined the tour in August. We had three weeks of rehearsal in New York City and we left for the road in September and I am contracted to be with the show until the end of July. It was a long audition process, with lots of call backs. I was there tumbling, singing and acting. We are in Daytona Beach, Florida today and soon head to Philly – my back yard.

Q: Where did you grow up?

KK: Morristown, N.J. Right outside of Philly.

Q: When did you first get the acting bug?

KK: It started when I was little. I sang with the Philadelphia Boys Choir with four years and traveled with them, and we sang a lot of songs from musicals. I was also in The Nutcracker every year at the Academy of Music where “Beauty and the Beast” will be performed so that is thrilling. I loved performing every day and I guess you could say it started from there.

Q: You have tons of local connections?

KK: Yes. I graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, and was in a few shows at the Walnut Street Theater.

Q: Coming home must be exciting. Who is coming to see the show?

KK: I have had lots of friends from Florida, Portland, and L.A. seeing the show at various venues. Now my hometown friends and my family will be coming to Philly, so that is really special to me to be able to share it with them.

Q: Are there any other performers in your family?

KK: No, I am the only one.

Q: Have your parent been supportive or concerned about a show business career?

KK: My parents have been encouraging; they have been truly amazing. They have been my number one supporters since I was little. They have always driven me to auditions and helped in any way that they could.

Q: What do you love about this show?

KK: I love performing in front of an audience every night, and “Beauty and the Beast” is such a fun show it is hard to love it. When you see young children, families and several generations all sharing this, it is really gratifying to see that such a loved musical that everyone has some connection to.

Q: What are some of your of your other favorite Broadway musicals?

KK: I love the classic Rogers and Hammerstein musicals — shows like “Carousel” and “Sound of Music.” I also have a friend from college who is in the current 50th anniversary production of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway.

Q: Are there surprises being part of a tour like this?

KK: Yes, the traveling. You don’t realize what it’s going to be like constantly being on the go – packing and unpacking and checking into the different hotels. We don’t have any breaks so we can always moving and exploring the cities during the day and performing at night. It is great; but so much more involved than I thought. I didn’t realize the entirety of touring before I did it.

Q: How do you relax when on tour?

KK: A lot of times we will just go out and explore. A lot of the dancers get massages since we are constantly on our feet. The temperature is going up to the high 70s today in Daytona, so many of us will head to the beach.

Q: What else do you do to chill out on the road?

KK: I really like music. I have made a lot of play lists on the road and get the chance to listen to full albums during our travel days. Music is one of my main relaxation outlets. I also really like photography, so I do a lot of photo blogging on Instagram. [Please follow him on Instagram @Kulpy].

Q: Being on the road – what do you miss the most?

KK: My family and friends. And little things – like having a kitchen and being able to cook. Being constantly on the move and being in hotels you don’t get to cook. But sometimes we share an apartment and we can cook.

Q: What is the initial dream versus the reality of your career?

KK: Five years ago the dream would be to tour and travel – exactly what I am doing now. You don’t really don’t know what tour life is like until you do it. Going places on a bus. Living out of a suitcase and performing eight shows a week. It is not a normal life. We perform throughout Christmas and the New Year’s season. We don’t get weekends or holidays off. So I am living the dream – but the reality is that it is also a job and hard work, albeit work that I truly love.

Q: Were you familiar with “Beauty and the Beast” before this tour?

KK: My childhood friend played Chip on Broadway when he was younger and we went to see it together after he retired. So, I have a long history with the show. And we have the same creative team that mounted the show in the ‘90s. so it was really great to be working with the same artistic team that presented it then.

Q: I hear you become good friends with those on tour. Are you pals with your roommate?

KK: Yes. I have an amazing roommate and he is one of my closest friends now. I know that we will remain friends after the tour. We will be sharing an apartment in downtown Toronto when we get there and can escape the hotel living and cook some nice meals. I look forward to that.

Q: Do you have any advice to young people who want to follow in your footsteps in pursing musical theater, theater or an entertainment career?

KK: Yes. I would advise someone to really think if this is what your passion is and if you want to make this your career, because you may get 100 rejections before you get a part or an offer. Even after all that you can never get disappointed in yourself, you can’t let the last rejection affect the rest of your day. If this is what you love to do, you need to put yourself out there and something is bound to come out of the auditions and stick. I would also say, audition, audition, audition!

Tickets for Beauty and the Beast and other Philadelphia Broadway series shows may be purchased by calling (215) 893-1999, visiting www.kimmelcenter.org, or at the Kimmel Center Box Office. For group of 10 or more call (215) 790-5883.

For more tour information, visit www.beautyandthebeastontour.com.

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The Phantom Of The Opera On Broadway January 26, 1988

PHANTOM-articleLarge(PCM) The Phantom of the Opera did not get its start on Broadway.  The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical opened On The West End London, at Her Majesty’s Theatre on October 9, 1986.  The West End is London’s equivalent to New York City’s Broadway.

The Phantom however has a much longer history than that.  The Phantom of the Opera was a French novel by Gaston Leroux and was published in 1910 soon drawing a worldwide audience.

Gaston’s Phantom is one of the 20th century’s favorite monsters.  He is in the league of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Werewolf and The Creature from the Black Lagoon and the creature’s popularity has gone down in popularity in the wake of, the creation of different comic book characters such as Swamp Thing.

The Phantom is different from all the other monsters sighted above as he was not born of science or the supernatural, the Phantom was born deformed.

That is the key to popularity of The Phantom of The Opera.  The Phantom has a name, Eric, and he is a musical genius.  His talent far surpasses anyone else of his time, but his looks keep him away and isolated from human contact which ultimately drives him insane.  He may be a kidnapper and a murderer, but there is something about Eric that makes us feel compassion for him.

The Phantom is different in another way too.  He has The Paris Opera House.  The Paris Opera House opened on the January 5, 1875, but the building was actually begun in 1861.  It took almost 14 years for the building to be completed.  Much of the delay was caused by France’s continual change of government.  For awhile, before the opera house was completed, it was used as munitions warehouse.

But in 1875 it finally opened.  The Paris Opera House is still the biggest opera house in the word.  It does not, however, have the most seats, that honor goes to more modern theaters.  The Opera House itself was not just a place to hear great music, but also a place to be seen and a piece of artwork all on its own.

The Opera house contains galleries, sweeping staircases, rooms big enough to hold balls and other forms of entertainment, as well as its central attraction of The Grand Staircase.  Gaston Laroux spent may hours searching out the corners of the famous theatre while writing his novel

The Opera House also has a huge amount of space backstage.  When the building was first begun it was found that the land covered an underground stream.  This was drained but also incorporated in the opera house.  A lake was created deep under the stage and the water used to run the hydraulic lifts on stage.  There was a stable able to care for 20 horses and many dressing rooms and make up rooms.  In many ways the Paris Opera House is a dream come true for both the audience and the performers.

It was here that Gaston Leroux set his novel.  In many ways the Paris Opera House is as much a character in the story as the people themselves.

In brief The Phantom of The Opera is a story of a deformed man who reigns over the opera house.  He becomes fascinated with a young singer named Christine and begins to teach her how to sing.  In his own way he falls in love with her and brings her to his home deep in theater on the lake.  Christine, at first, thinks her teacher is an angel but comes to find out that it is just the opposite.

Christine, in the mean time, falls in love with a young nobleman named Raul.  The two decide to run off together but the phantom knows of their plans and cuts the chandelier over the audience in retaliation, killing many.  The Phantom then kidnaps Christine and takes her to his lair where she kisses his deformed face and he lets her go.  The Phantom leaves the Opera House never to be seen again and Raul finds Christine.

The Phantom would go through different film adaptation of the story before it would make it to Broadway.  The first was the silent film version starring Lon Chaney appearring in 1925.  Webber would rely heavily on this version for his musical.

Another film version many people are familiar with is the 1943 adaptation starring Claude Rains.  This version however basically shreds Leroux’s novel and is more a vehicle for Nelson Eddy to make a comeback in.  It is not considered a great film, but it is the one many have grown up with.  There has been others as well most of which are of even less quality.

The Phantom became great again with the musical of 1986.  When the show opened in London it starred Michael Crawford as The Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine.  They would bring their performances to New York City when The Phantom of the Opera opened on January 26, 1988 at the Majestic Theater.  The show has never closed and is currently the longest running show on Broadway.

A film version of the musical was released in 2004.

The Phantom Of The Opera On Broadway January 26, 1988 was contributed by a Myth

Bette Midler to Star in New Broadway Production of Hello Dolly

bette-midlerIt has been announced that the incredible Miss M will return to Broadway in Jerry Herman’s Hello Dolly.

Bette Midler has already given us a great performance as Mamma Rose in a television adaptation of Gypsy.  Ethel Merman played Rose in the original Broadway production of Gypsy.  Coincidentally Hello Dolly was originally written for Ethel Merman but the lead role of Dolly went to Carol Channing who continued to play the role into her 70s.   Merman would eventually play the role.  It would be the last time she starred on Broadway before her death in 1984.

Hello Dolly is the story of Dolly Levi a widow who realizes she has hidden herself away for too long and that it is time for her to “rejoin the human race”  Dolly’s plans to get back into life is to marry the richest man in Yonkers New York, Horace Vandergelder.  She schemes her way into Vandergelder’s life causing comedy all along the way.  It is a musical full of joy, and about the desire to live life to its fullest potential.  The title song became a standard for Louis Armstrong and became the song that Lyndon Johnson would use in the 1964 presidential election.

Hello Dolly opened 0n January 16, 1964 and walked away with several Tony Awards including Best Musical.  It was originally directed by Gower Champion.  The title song would go on to be a jingel for mat products over the years.  Other memorable numbers are “Put On Your Sunday Clothes”, “Before The Parade Passes By” and the romantic “It Only Takes A Moment”

Hello Dolly is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2017.

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Ethel Merman Born January 16, 1908

EthelMermanNoBusinesstraileEthel Merman (Born Ethel Zimmerman) was born on January 16, 1908.  She passed away on February 15, 1984.

Ethel Merman was born in Astoria New York.  Merman got her big break in 1930. Previously to that she worked as a stenographer.  This job, however was only to pay the bills, in the evenings in she performed in Nightclubs.  She was first hired by Lou Clayton, Jimmy Durante’s’ partner.

Merman was soon noticed and she was contracted to Warner Brothers.  In those days movie professional did not go from project to project being produced by different studios.  In the 1930s it was the studio system.  Actors and actresses would be hired by a single studio and only worked for them.  They could occasionally be lent out to other studios, but basically you worked where you were hired.

She was cast in only one film during her time in Hollywood.  That was Follow The Leader starring Ed Wynn and Ginger Rodgers.  This was produced by Paramount so she was lent out for that.  She was paid $125.00 a week by Warner Brothers who never used her.  In those days you were paid by the studio whether you worked or not.  Ethel began to get bored and so she again began performing in Night Clubs.  It was during this time that she actually met Durante and the two would become lifelong friends.

Merman soon went back to New York.  She was hired by The Palace Theater as a Torch Song singer.  Merman’s voice was a powerful Mezzo Soprano and she could be heard throughout a theater without a microphone.  She was paid $500.00 dollars a week for her work at the Palace.  Soon she was noticed by George and Ira Gershwin and was hired to work in their new show Girl Crazy.  Her show stopping number in that show was I Got Rhythm, a song that would go on to be popular for many years  New York Times noted Merman sang “with dash, authority, good voice and just the right knowing style”, while The New Yorker called her “imitative of no one.”

Merman was kept busy between Hollywood and New York for four years.  In 1934, she was hired in her first starring role that of Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes.  This show spotlighted Merman’s talents both as an actress and as a singer Beside the title song Merman had two other songs that would become standards, I Get A Kick Out Of You and You’re The Top.  Anything goes still performed to this day in professional, regional, community and High School Theaters.

From that point on Merman’s career was set, she performed in many films and Broadway musicals but her next big show was Annie Get Your Gun which opened in 1945.  Annie Get Your Gun was loosely based on the life of Annie Oakley a female sharp shooter who made name for herself working with Buffalo Bill Cody.  Merman’s role of Annie gave her many memorable moments, You Can’t Get A Man With a Gun, Doing What comes naturally, and Anything You Can Do I can Do Better were a few of the big numbers performed by Merman.  The big hit form the show and the song which Merman would perform the rest of her life was There’s No Business Like Show Business.  This song would have an entire movie wrapped around the song itself which stared Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey, Donald O’Connor and the forever remembered Marylyn Monroe.  The music and lyrics were composed by the great Irving Berlin who was at least one of if not the most prolific song writer of the 20th century; many of his songs are recorded by artists even today, most notably White Christmas.

Ethel’s next big hit was the musical Call Me Madam again with a score by Irving Berlin.  In this show Ethel played a ambassador to a small European country where she falls in love with one of the government officials which causes a scandal and sends her back to Washington.  Of course all turns out right in the end.  The songs from this show which are notable are You’re Not Sick You’re Just In Love, The Hostess With The Mostest and It’s A Lovely Day Today.

On May 21, 1959 Ethel Merman would again star in a show that is still performed today.  GypsyGypsy was based on the life on the world renowned Stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.  Though the show as was called Gypsy it was the story of the relationship between Gypsy and her mother Rose.  Rose was the leading role, a scheming woman that would go to any lengths to make her girls stars.  Merman’s Co-Star in this musical was Jack Klugman who would go on to make a name for himself in the TV shows The Odd Couple and Quincy.  Three of standout numbers from this show were, Everything’s Coming Up Roses, Together and Small World.

Annie Get You’re Gun, Call Me Madam and Gypsy all had Hollywood adaptations the only one Merman was allowed to star in was Call Me Madam.  The loss of the role of Rose in Gypsy to Rosalind Russell, according to Merman herself, was the most disappointing time in her career.

Merman would go on to star in revivals of her hit shows and the Broadway world still loved her.  Merman was called “the undisputed First Lady of the musical comedy stage.”  In the 1960s, however music styles changed and The Beatles along with Elvis Presley and many others would soon reign over the musical scene while the Broadway style would fade into the back ground.

Merman however still continued to perform.  She was featured in the Comedy It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World in the 1960s and in the 70’s she had a cameo appearance in the Movie Airplane.  Where she sang Everything’s Coming Up Roses.  This appearance gave her career a brief resurgence and she recorded a disco version of her hits.

She would be featured in many variety and other types of TV shows.  Memorable performances were on such shows as The Lucy Show, That Girl and The Love Boat  When her career slowed down Merman began to volunteer in a gift shop in New York City Hospital.  Merman died in her home at the age of 76 on February 15, 1984 from Brain Cancer.  On the evening of her death all 36 theaters on Broadway dimmed their lights at 9 P.M. in her honor.

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Falling in Love with Lynn Flickinger in the Touring Musical Once

Flickinger_Lynn(PCM) It’s not where you start – it’s where you finish.

Just ask actress and musician Lynn Flickinger, who first placed her hands on a piano at the tender age of three or four, fell in love with music and the theater arts, and took a slight detour to make time to raise and nurture her three children.

While growing up in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, her mother Peggy’s influence as a musician and church organist in Dublin, PA. led Flickinger’s interest in learning the violin in the second grade and viola in fifth grade.

In fact, Peggy, now 80, still plays the piano and organ; and Flickinger, now 54, is back on her musical theater path and plays all three instruments. She also learned the accordion for her role in the touring company of “Once,” showing at the Academy of Music from Jan. 15-17.

On Broadway, “Once” won eight Tony Awards in 2012, including Best Musical, and also earned the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

The show features a book by award-winning Irish playwright and screenwriter Enda Walsh, direction by acclaimed Scottish director John Tiffany, and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. The musical is based on the Academy Award-winning film.

Flickinger, who understudies the part of Baruska, is on a break from teaching at the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts in Bethlehem. Among her theater credits are: The Carnegie Hall premiere of Fannie Lou (Mrs. Richards); Carousel (Nettie); Into the Woods (Witch); a solo career in Vienna, Salz­burg and Munich. She also plays the role of Mrs. Gabor in the upcoming film adaptation of Spring Awakening.

Q: Please tell me what is so appealing about the musical Once?

LYNN FLICKINGER: It is different from the standard musicals. It is set in an Irish pub and all of the characters play instruments on stage – the actors are also musicians. Once tells the story of a street musician from Ireland who is stuck. He is afraid to move on in his life; which resonates with everyone.

Q: Then what happens?

LF: He meets a Czechoslovakian girl who is captivated by his music and she decides to encourage him and help him. They introduce each other to the other’s world and they make and record music. In the end, they get to move on.

Q: In addition to having an affinity for music, how did you fall in love with musical theater?

LF: I have always loved the idea of telling stories through music.

Q: Why?

LF: I feel that stories are timeless. Stories are the beautiful thing about musical theater. It is about being able to enable someone and transport them to another time or place. Whether they are happy or sad, if they can get caught up in the story I feel like I have done my job.

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Q: What does this remind you of?

LF: It is like when you are reading and get caught up in the story and want to know about the characters. Music is the bonus – it helps connect us emotionally to what’s going on in the story. If someone says I cried or laughed I feel like it is a job well done.

Q: You have deep Pennsylvania root?

LF: Yes. I was born in Doylestown and raised in Tinicum. I live in Bethlehem and teach at Leigh High Valley Charter School for the Arts. I recently was married for the second time to a wonderful supportive man, Daniel Jodre. He is not in the business; he is operation’s manger for a company, and wonderfully supportive of me and my career.

Q: Tell me about being part of the tour for Once.

LF: I started the audition process in September [2015.] There were five auditions and I was cast in November. The actors are actual musicians which is why the audition process is so long. We started rehearsal at the end of November. The tour just began and we will perform in 38 cities over six months.

Q: Are you worried about being on the road?

LF: I’m not concerned. It’s a wonderful, talented cast so that makes it easier. I am a little worried about missing my husband and my family. We talk on the phone all the time and they are coming to see it. My roommate is from Utah and she talks to her family every night using Facetime.

Q: What are the challenges of the role?

LF: I had to learn to play the accordion, which I’m pretty good at now. At first I thought I’d never learn this; but now I can play it. You need really good musicianship skills, and I am able to pass that on to my students while I can experience it first-hand.

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Q: This is your first tour at age 54, is there a lesson there?

LF: Sure. I did a lot of music, but I didn’t start the major auditioning until I was in my ‘40s. I raised my family first. Then I did TV and film work, and the premiere of a new musical called Fannie Lou at Carnegie Hall — the story of Fannie Lou Hamer and the fight for voting rights

Q: What advice has helped you during the rough patches?

LF: I believe in the saying from Norman Vincent Peele – ‘It’s always too early to quit.’ Even in this business, I don’t think you can ever say you’ve done all you can. Life is still happening. Take Barbara Cook who won her first Tony Award at age 80. I’m always striving to learn new things with my singing. I believe there is a place for all of us and all of our dreams.

Q: You were a single mom for a while.

LF: Yes. I have three children – 18, 29 and 30. My oldest is a girl and I have two boys and now a 10-year-old grandson, Logan. I raised my youngest child by myself.

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Q: What is it like to have your family behind you?

LF: Wonderful. All of them are coming to see me. They are very proud of me. It means the world to me that my kids are kids of me. They also see how far I have come. As older women, we are examples to young women; not to give up. My daughter is now completing her degree as a paralegal, and dealing with being a bit older than the other students.

Q: She must have learned from you that it is never too late.

LF: Yes. You can still do whatever you want to do as a woman of any age. I always want to be encouraging to younger women and my peers that you are never done being creative and being who you are.

Q: Lastly, why should people come to see Once as it tours around the nation?

LF: It is a unique music theater experience. The music is Irish folk songs. There is also Czechoslovakian music. It is also the story of pursuing your dreams. There is a line my character Baruska says that I can definitely relate to, ‘Those who live in fear die miserably in their graves.’ It is a story about not giving up. There you go. That’s why it resonates with me.

Photo credit: “Original Australian Company” – Photos by Jeff Busby

The post Falling in Love with Lynn Flickinger in the Touring Musical Once first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.

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