Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Presents DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
by BWW News Desk
Chris Isaacson and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center proudly present the premiere of Jennifer Leigh Warren in “DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER: the songs of Dame Shirley Bassey,” which will make its Los Angeles debut on June 16 at The Renberg Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Place in Hollywood, with acclaimed Director Richard Jay-Alexander (Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler “Kiss My Brass” Tour, Bernadette Peters) at the helm.
For over four decades, Dame Shirley Bassey has serenaded audiences world-wide with her unique voice and irrepressible personality. With millions of albums sold, Bassey’s song repertoire encompasses many memorable songs like “Goldfinger,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” and “Hey, Big Spender.” This new, unique mix of theatre and concert features Ms. Warren’s fresh interpretations of Bassey’s legendary songs and promises to be much more than a trip down memory lane. V “The musicianship, bombast and theatrics of the beloved and iconic Ms. Bassey, to me, seem a perfect match for the talents of Ms. Warren, who is also a force to be reckoned with, in her own right. The moment I sat down to lunch, in Los Angeles, with Chris and Jennifer and heard about what they were thinking of doing and how they envisioned it, I was in”, says Director, Richard Jay-Alexander.
In addition to the affiliation and recognition of some of the famous songs from the James Bond films, Bassey put her unmistakable imprint on many standards and show tunes. She is also known for her beauty, grace, humor, fashion and passionate commitment to every song she approaches. But, also, how to work an audience into a frenzy!
With a full band, custom gowns designed by Ali Rahimi at Mon Atelier, some observations through a very rich period of time, history and decades of fads and changing musical tastes, this concert will define what truly makes a star! This theatrical concert event, Music Directed by Kenneth Crouch (Eric Clapton, Toni Braxton, Babyface), will not be an imitation or a life story of the great star, but a gentle nod to the brilliance of material, approach and unique delivery of some of the greatest material ever written. As everyone knows, great songs never go out of style … especially when stylishly presented!
Net proceeds benefit the Center’s programs and services for homeless LGBT youth
ABOUT Richard Jay-Alexander
Richard Jay-Alexander began his theatrical career in 1977 in the original cast of the Broadway play, ZOOT SUIT, appearing thereafter in the original Broadway cast of AMADEUS, which led to his being engaged as Associate Director of the National Touring Companies of that Tony Award-winning Play. He also staged AMADEUS in Santiago, Chile, in Spanish, in which he is fluent. However, he is probably best known for his association with Producer Cameron Mackintosh, having served as Executive Director of Mr. Mackintosh’s American company for ten years, running its day-to-day operations in North America. Richard first came to Mr. Mackintosh’s attention as stage manager/dance captain of his Broadway revival of OLIVER! and stage manager/assistant director of his Broadway production of SONG & DANCE, which is where he met Bernadette Peters.
Shortly thereafter, he became both Associate Director and Executive Producer of the original Broadway, touring and Canadian companies of LES MISERABLES, staging more than a dozen productions of that Musical, reaching around the globe.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA followed, and then MISS SAIGON, for which Richard was Executive Producer for the original Broadway, touring and Canadian companies. He also served as Executive Producer and Associate Director for Broadway’s FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE and was Executive Producer of its Grammy-nominated original cast recording. Richard subsequently produced recordings for Ms. Peters (LIVE FROM Carnegie Hall, RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN, both Grammy-nominated), Johnny Mathis (ON BROADWAY) and Mary Cleere Haran and co-wrote the liner notes for Barbra Streisand’s THE MOVIE ALBUM and the DVD boxed set of her first 5 television specials. Richard has written lyrics for several Walt Disney Records projects, including LILO AND STITCH Island Favorites. He was appointed Executive Producer of Playbill Records and helped to launch the label’s debut recording, Brian Stokes Mitchell’s first solo offering, as well as the re-discovered Betty Buckley recording titled (and recorded in) 1967 and her QUINTESSENCE.
For film, Richard created the musical staging for Sony Classics’ BOSSA NOVA, after having appeared in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, ALL THAT JAZZ, and a slew of commercials and soap operas.
Richard directed the off-Broadway play, A SAFE HARBOR FOR ELIZABETH BISHOP, starring Amy Irving, at the Primary Stages Theatre and has worked with some of the world’s greatest entertainers, including Bette Midler (KISS MY BRASS Tour), Barbra Streisand (TIMELESS Tour and the most recent STREISAND Tours of the U.S and Europe, also serving as a co-writer), Ricky Martin, Polly Bergen, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lea Salonga, Sam Harris, Rosie O’Donnell, Hayley Westenra, Mary Cleere Haran, Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker, Will & Anthony Nunziata, Betty Buckley, Johnny Mathis, Debby Boone, Jane Monheit, Lea Michele, Julie Andrews, Russell Watson and Bernadette Peters, the latter two having also been telecast on PBS. He also directed the multi-media extravaganza, STORM, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas and the workshop production of the Broadway-bound musical based on GREAT EXPECTATIONS (starring Cloris Leachman), as well as a number of commercials and videos.
The last two summers have found him at the legendary Hollywood Bowl, where he directed star-studded productions of LES MISERABLES and GUYS & DOLLS, the latter having the distinction of being choreographed by Donna McKechnie. He was recently in the studio with Melissa Errico finishing her highly anticipated Michel Legrand recording and is putting finishing touches on a TV Special and DVD for Bernadette, which was filmed in Australia, and recently celebrated a #1 DVD release of Barbra Streisand’s recent appearance at The Village Vanguard, which promoted her latest #1 album, LOVE IS THE ANSWER. He also produced Melora Hardin’s debut CD.
He continues his work with Brian Stokes Mitchell in concert and Ms. Peters, helming her BROADWAY BARKS BECAUSE BROADWAY CARES, which sold-out Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre and raised money for the organization and Pet Shelters. For Broadwayworld.com he directed Andrea McArdle at JOE’S PUB, STANDING OVATIONS IV – FROM STAGE TO SCREEN AND BACK AGAIN and BROADWAYWORLD ON ICE.
At the end of 2009 Richard found himself in a “dream-come-true” situation. He was asked to direct IDO! IDO! by real-life married couple (and actors) Patrick Page and Paige Davis for The Old Globe in San Diego. He has always been a Schmidt & Jones fan and the first production he ever put his name or mark on had been THE FANTASTICKS. In addition, Mr. Jones attended the premiere.
Richard and Ms. McKechnie are long time friends and he found himself both flattered and thrilled when asked to work on the latest incarnation of MY MUSICAL COMEDY LIFE. The show has played to sold-out houses since, with a special appearance at The Adelaide Cabaret Festival, when invited by Artistic Director, David Campbell and an extensive Australian Tour.
A native of Syracuse, NY, Richard holds a B.A. in Theatre and Music from SUNY at Oswego and is the recipient of that University’s first Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts. He is also a proud Board member of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and has been an active supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Florida. Richard has also taught Master Classes on Theatre, Musical Theatre, Auditioning, Acting in Musicals, Directing and Producing.