Tag Archives: New York

Thursday, November 16, 2017

BetteBack April 1, 1975: Review Of Preview Of “Clams On The Half Shell Revue” Before NYC

The Evening Bulletin April 1, 1975 By Matt Mansker Broadway ought to be girding for the pearl of its season, for Bette Midler‘s “Clams On The Half Shell Revue” will open there later this month to the certain bedazzlement of La Big Apple. The show, which began a preview run of a week last night at the Erlanger, [in Philadelphia] is a delicious concoction – lavish and brilliantly mounted; rich in atmosphere and antic uplift; here uproarious, there haunting. The crux of the magic is that “Clams On The Half Shell” places Bette Midler, on the boards again after a year’s layoff, in an ideal theatrical environment, one which beautifully underscores her camp-kitsch aura while drawing out the superb substance of her talents as a singer and comedian. If anything, Miss M is a stronger performer than before, having stylized herself to a point where she radiates a full-blown identity without having to resort to any frantic oversell, although the smooth direction and chorography of Joe Layton must be acknowledged. Shapely, aglow and thoroughly piquant, Miss M is an impeccable delight, weather hatched from a giant clam shell for a wildly kinetic parody of a South Seas tune or seated in the purple palm of a mechanized King-Kong-atop-the-Empire State Building for an absurd “Lullaby Of Broadway.” And when she minces across the stage in an awkward skitter of spiked heels, she is the trampy epitome of trash-to-tinsel, the B-girl gone uppity, and a perfect fourth to her soul-sister trio of hip-tilting harmonizers, The Harlettes. Still, the revue might benefit from some paring-down and tightening-up in the first act, for it wasn’t until after intermission that Bette began to set last night’s sold-out house on its ears. Following Lionel Hampton‘s rave-up vibe-drums and-vocal segment with this orchestra, she came back with a wealth of zingy patter – including two very bawdy but very funny jokes attributed to Sophie Tucker – and riveting versions of Tom Waits’ “Captain Ahab,” Phoebe Show’s “I Don’t Want The Night To End,” and John Prine’s “Hello In There.” Indeed, apart from all her high-humored energy, Bette Midler interprets such moody balladry with a breathy bittersweet fragility, a loving vulnerability that raises goose bumps (when she’s not raising hell with such tempos as David Bowe’s “Young Americans,” or Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back). Unquestionably, she has matured into a great pop singer. Beyond the performances and the music. Tony Walton‘s costumes are glittery, diaphanous and somehow never a distraction, while his settings are varied and remarkably effective, particularly a darkened barroom tableau which finds Bette cutting-up and indulging in a sad series of saloon songs while three stock-still male patrons pay her no mind. And the opening scene, with the Michael Powell gospel Ensemble delivering a magnificent and mournful “Old Man River” before Bette-in-the-clamshell hilariously reverses the mood, is played before a sumptuous riverboat backdrop and amounts to a splendid introductory eyeful. Aaron Russo, in association with Larry Magid, presentation of a musical revue in two acts directed and choreographed by Joe Layton, settings and costumes Tony Walton; Lighting design, Beverly Emmons; sound, Stan Miller; musical director, Don York: orchestrations, James Haskell. Opened March 31, ’75, at the Erlanger Theatre, Philadelphia; $15 top. With Bette Midler, Lionel Hampton, the Harlettes (Charlotte Crossley, Robin Grean, Sharon Redd), Michael Powell Ensemble (Michael Powell, Charlene Rocks, Doretha Doctor, Jeannie Paige, Barbara Rolle, Ricardo Portlette, Joey Coleman, Vinson Cunningham, Shirley Underwood, Lee Roy Cooks, Norman P. Hawkins), Richie Renikoff, guitar; Ken Bichel, keyboards; Rasan Mfalme, bass; John Wilcox, drums. “Bette Midler’s Clams on the Half Shell Revue” opens at the Minskoff on Broadway Monday (14) after one New York preview Saturday (12). It’s a big show with a big talent. Midler’s back bigger, bouncier and brassier, impressively demonstrating her crown-creaming skill as both singer and comedienne. She is dynamic as jazz, soul and pop diva and anything-for-a-laugh clown. With all kind of song, old and new, from various sources, plus both prepared and ad lib standup and sitdown gags, she gives a brilliant performance here. If Midler’s an unusual hybrid, so’s this Broadway project. It starts startlingly with an “Oklahoma!” overture. The curtain rises on what could be a stock company “Show Boat,” but the “Old Man River” singers pull in first a netful of small clam shells and then a huge one. It opens to reveal, like the pearl in an oyster, coyly-posed Midler. That ex-Hawaiian, in hula skirt fringe, comes out of her shell to shimmy and shake through a campy “Moon of Manakoora.” She is then summarily dumped back into the shell by dockhands, and that’s virtually the only time during two hours-plus that Midler clams up. Though she’s abetted by “guest star” Lionel Hampton, three Harlettes, 11 Michael Powell ensemble singers, an orchestra under Don York’s spirited direction that commutes from the pit in the first half to the stage in the second, some manikins and one king (Kong)-size gorilla, Midler risks overexposure through both skimpy costumes and overplentiful spotlight time. She’s visible and audible virtually nonstop, except when Hampton gets a brief, but effective second-act opportunity to do his vibes-drums-vocal thing (after which he’s awkwardly reduced to lurking in the shadows as little more than just another sideman). If there’s a lack of change of personnel, there’s no lack of change of pace. A whatzit? Despite its use of “revue” in the title, it’s a slap happy happening that keeps cueing fond remembrances of everything from old-fashioned Broadway and Hollywood musicals to movie house stage shows, nightery nights, rock concerts and college proms. This rather chaotic grabbag impression, zestfully supervised (with mostly Motown choreography) by Joe Layton, is enhanced by Tony Walton’s preposterously ponderous scenic effects, including gigantic dangling puppet tap dancers, a stage-filling jukebox, a shlock barroom and an Empire State Building that descends floor by floor until Midler’s revealed at the top in a mechanical King Kong’s loving grasp. Midler abruptly – but successfully – shuttles between raunchy gags and even poignant songs, including an affecting number about lonely oldsters. There’s too much of almost everything, but most of the mostly youngish, Philly customers have no sign of satiety. The uninhibited vocabulary could disconcert some.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

OPINION: Community garden members seek to save towering willow – NYRP

Brooklyn Daily Eagle OPINION: Community garden members seek to save towering willow By Raanan Geberer Sept 15, 2017 2017-07-24_6-17-42 Members of a community garden in Weeksville are seeking to raise money to ensure the survival of a portion of their garden which, because of a fluke of the city’s tax and legal systems, now belongs to a private owner who has slated it for development. The Imani Community Garden, at 87-91 Schenectady Ave., was built on three lots. The middle lot, the one in question, is important to gardeners because it contains an 80-foot-high, 80-year-old willow tree, which would be destroyed if the new owner decided to build on the site. It also contained a chicken coop and a chicken run until recently, although these have been moved to a side lot. According to advocates for the garden, Imani was established by a local church-affiliated nonprofit on what were then three vacant lots. In 2001, as part of its policy of buying local community gardens to save them from development, Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project bought the two side lots but, because of an error, failed to realize that there was a third lot on the garden property. According to Greg Todd, facilitator at the garden, the church-affiliated group paid property taxes on the middle lot from 1980 to 2001 and never applied for a tax exemption, even though they could have done so. By 2003, the directors of the original organization had died or moved on, and no one responded to the city’s request for taxes on the lot. By 2015, back taxes totaled about $11,000, and the city sold the lot at a foreclosure auction to investor Herman Stark for $365,000. Stark, in turn, sold it to developer Mendy Deutsch last year for $500,000. Deutsch has agreed to a swap with one of the other two lots, a deal that would save the willow tree. However, according to Todd, Deutsch wants $200,000 to do the swap. The garden is holding a fundraiser at the Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society, 53 Prospect Park West, on Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. with $20 admission. If and when the garden raises enough funds for the land swap – or to buy the middle plot outright – the garden would donate the plot to the New York Restoration Project, so the three plots would now have the same owner and the garden could continue within its original footprint.
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Monday, September 18, 2017

Bette Midler Accepting Her 2017 Tony For Best Actress

Bette Midler Accepting Her 2017 Tony For Best Actress: “I hope I don’t cry,” Midler said, before proceeding to give a sharp-witted speech toward the end of the 71st Annual Tony Awards in New York Sunday night. “This has been one of the greatest professional experiences of my entire life… I’m so grateful for the outpouring of love, it has been absolutely extraordinary. That said, I can’t remember the last time I had more smoke blown up my ass, but there’s no more room. This is the cherry on the cake…This has given me the ride of my life.” (Tony Awards, 2017) – Bette Midler Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, phone
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Friday, September 8, 2017

I’m pretty much what you see on stage. People know that I read, that I’m interested in the world, in the environment, in human emotion. A

I’m pretty much what you see on stage. People know that I read, that I’m interested in the world, in the environment, in human emotion. All my work is pretty revelatory. I don’t hide a lot when I work on stage and I think that’s one of the reasons people are interested in me. And I don’t think I’ve changed. I really feel I’m the same person who got off that bus in New York in 1965. (1991) – Bette Midler Image may contain: 1 person
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8 Films We Can’t Wait To Catch At Chicago’s Iconic, LGBTQ Reeling Film Fest This Year: Trudie Styler’s directorial debut (with a Bette Midler cameo)

Chicagoist 8 Films We Can’t Wait To Catch At Chicago’s Iconic, LGBTQ Reeling Film Fest This Year BY TONY PEREGRIN IN ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT ON SEP 7, 2017 9:01 AM 2017-02-09_2-39-50 The 2017 Reeling film festival—the second oldest LGBTQ film fest in the U.S.—unspools Sept. 21 at Music Box Theatre with Hello Again, a sex-fueled all-star screen adaptation of an under-the-radar John LaChiusa musical that follows the erotic escapades of characters with names like The Whore, The College Boy, and The Young Thing. Clearly, Reeling 35 starts off with a satisfying bang—ten actually, since the sensual musical tells the tales of as many love affairs, each set in a different decade. The remainder of the eight-day film festival will screen at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema, and includes 30 feature films and 10 shorts programs with titles from 22 countries, including the premiere of two locally made features. Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ + International Film Festival—celebrating its 35th anniversary—will showcase some of the best queer cinema projected onto Chicago silver screens in years, and here’s 8 reasons why:

An insightful drama about closeted soccer players ...  Read More

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Bernadette Peters to Replace Bette Midler in ‘Hello, Dolly!’

The New York Times Bernadette Peters to Replace Bette Midler in ‘Hello, Dolly!’ By MICHAEL PAULSONSEPT. 5, 2017 3472baf2504473bf0a5a7b4e5736c276

Hello, Bernadette!

Bernadette Peters, the much-loved and much-honored star of Broadway musical theater, will succeed Bette Midler in the title role of “Hello, Dolly!,” the show’s lead producer, Scott Rudin, said Tuesday.

Victor Garber will join Ms. Peters, playing the man she fancies, Horace Vandergelder. That role is currently played by David Hyde Pierce.

Both performers will join the production on Jan. 20. Ms. Midler and Mr. Hyde Pierce will play their final performances Jan. 14, after which the show will be dark for a few days. ...  Read More

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Friday, September 1, 2017

BetteBack March 3, 1975: Friends Commission Neon Portrait Of Midler

Ames Daily Tribune March 3, 1975 bette-korvettesposter NEW YORK (UPI) — Rudi Stern says neon has been getting a raw deal all these years. Behind all those beer signs lurk an art form. Neon has been the captive of one industry, namely signage, said Stern at his lower Manhattan studio.  There s no reason for it to be captive to signage. At his shop, called  Let There Be Neon, he is breaking the barriers that once relegated neon to tavern windows and rundown neighborhoods. An offshoot is a workshop for those who want to decorate their apartments with neon sculpture. At the back of the studio stands a life-size profile of a nude female in neon. To the right is a soft green palm tree, to the left a glass coffee table over the bluish glow of winding neon tubing. We’re working on designs which would provide far more illumination than fluorescent and can be far more decorative, he said. Stern said neon used to be highly visible..signs advertising the Packard automobile in 1923 in Los Angeles caused traffic jam s. At the end of World War II there were 5,000 shops. But that was in the 1940s. There are now about 200. Of the 200 they probably have one glass bender coming in one day a week and the dust is three inches thick when he gets there. A glass bender molds the neon tubing into endless shapes. Stern, 39, who has worked in light projections and video for 15 years, said sign companies helped bury the neon industry. They tell prospective customers neon is the  old look, and the future lies in incandescents. The sign companies succeeded in putting out of business many of the neon shops that were very ingenius… that were able to combine the highest forms of art and technology in impressive ways. So prices got higher and the quality of work diminished, he said. Neon also caught the brunt of environmental complaints of visual pollution. You take a picture of U.S. I, and the local newspaper will write about the neon jungle. People don’t know about neon, so neon is blamed. But any frame of that picture contains less than two per cent neon the rest is garbage. But now, the neon revival is under way. Since his shop opened three years ago, Stern has done work for NBC-TV, Pierre Cardin and Bloomingdale’s. Friends of singer Bette Midler had her portrait commissioned in neon, and the New York rock concert with Todd Rundgren was splashed with neon pieces. Even old, dusty neon signs are bringing up to $100 from collectors. And the neon workshop, which costs $300 for a 10-week course, has been a surprising success. One thing I want to do is turn people onto the craft Stern said. So far his students, who include several architects and designers, have turned out neon mushrooms, a tomato and one energetic student constructed a three-piece neon work that will lower from the ceiling in his bedroom. All of which catches some of the old style glass benders off guard. Stern said now and then they drop by the showroom to inspect the glowing art work and the signs, including some which sell for as high as $15,000. They just look around in amazement, Stern said.  Some say You know, we always thought there was more to neon than a pizza sign.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Listen: Melissa Manchester Takes On “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head”

Vintage Vinyl News Listen: Melissa Manchester Takes On “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” August 15, 2017 81gthfqqkyl-_sx425_ On Monday, =&0=& gave fans a taste of her forthcoming album, The Fellas, sharing the album opener and first single, “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head,” via her social media channels. Her rambunctious, horn-filled version of the song swings exuberantly from the rafters. “I wanted to invite the audience in, right away, to what the album and song was going to feel like,” says Melissa Manchester. The classic song was first recorded in 1960 by Dean Martin, who also performed it in the film Oceans 11 the same year. Manchester co-produced The Fellas with Robert Slack, Dean of Visual and Performing Arts at Citrus College in Glendora, CA. She is backed by The Citrus College Blue Note Orchestra, which is composed of students, alumni and faculty from the community college. More than 25 years after Manchester released Tribute, her 1989 album that honored the great female singers who influenced her, she turns the tables with The Fellas, a radiant tribute to the men, including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett and Mel Tormé, and the iconic songs they made famous. Singing with a verve and emotional vulnerability that immediately captivates, the Grammy winner inventively reimagines these beloved standards. The Fellas – which will be released on September 8 via Manchester’s independent label, Long Run Entertainment, LLC – is available for pre-order now on Amazon. While it’s primarily a solo album, Manchester did recruit one very special fella to join her on The Fellas: Barry Manilow duets with her on a jubilant “For Me and My Gal,” a tribute to Gene Kelly and Judy Garland, who performed the 1942 movie’s title track. Manilow and Manchester met 40 years ago when they were young jingle singers trying to break into show business. Manilow introduced her to Bette Midler, who recruited Melissa to become a founding member of the Harlettes. Melissa will launch The Fellas with a performance/record release party at Birdland in New York City on September 11 and a September 22 performance with the Blue Note Orchestra at the James Armstrong Theatre in Torrance, CA. Proceeds from the gala fundraiser/CD release party in Torrance will benefit Art Attack, a charity founded by Bea Arthur that provides lessons and scholarships to young artists who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity. Manchester will also perform in Atlanta on August 28 at the “Concert For America,” which will raise funds for national organizations working to protect civil rights.Manchester’s remarkable career will be celebrated with the September 8 release of Through the Eyes of Love: The Complete Arista 7” Singles (Real Gone Music and Second Disc Records). The 43-song set of her singles (both A and B sides) includes such hits as “Midnight Blue,” the GRAMMY-nominated “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” the GRAMMY-winning “You Should Hear How She Talks About You” and the Oscar-nominated “Theme from Ice Castles (Through the Eyes of Love).” Melissa Manchester tour dates:
  • 08/19 – Las Vegas, NV – The Smith Center (2 shows)
  • 08/28 – Atlanta, GA – Ferst Center For The Arts – “Concert For America”
  • 09/11 – New York, NY – Birdland NYC – Record Release Party
  • 09/16 – Monroe Township, NJ – Monroe Township High School PAC
  • 09/22 – Torrance, CA – James Armstrong Theatre – CD release party/gala fundraiser for Art Attack
  • 10/12 – Franklin, TN – Franklin Theatre
  • 10/13 – Evans, GA – Hardin Performing Arts Center
  • 10/14 – Pawley’s Island, SC – Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art
  • 12/03 – Denham Springs, LA – Forest Grove Plantation
  • 12/24 – Boca Raton, FL – Wick Theatre
  • 12/25 – Boca Raton, FL – Wick Theatre (2 shows)
  • 02/17 – Brookville, NY – Tilles Center
BetteBack October 31, 1998: Bette Midler Gets A Reunion Of Sorts (bootlegbetty.com) Review: Bette Midler’s “A Gift Of Love” (bootlegbetty.com) Rare Footage Captures Bette Midler’s 1971 Farewell Performance At NYC Gay Bathhouse (bootlegbetty.com) BetteBack April 23, 1975: Vito Russo Interviews Bette Midler (bootlegbetty.com)

BetteBack June 24, 1998: Liz Smith Compares Sandra Bernhard To Bette Midler ...  Read More

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Joy Behar Offered Chance To Star In Touring Version Of “Hello, Dolly!”

New Now Next Joy Behar Offered Chance To Star In Touring Version Of “Hello, Dolly!” by Brandon Voss August 5, 2017 But don’t Bette on it. Hello, Joy? While there’s still no official word on who will replace Tony winner Bette Midler when she departs Broadway’s hit revival of Hello, Dolly! in January, we can probably rule out one daytime diva. The View co-host Joy Behar revealed at the top of Friday’s show that she had recently been approached to headline the upcoming tour of Hello, Dolly! as iconic matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi. “Just because I happen to look like Bette Midler,” Behar said. She went on to tell her co-hosts that she politely declined the offer. “Even if I had the desire to go on the road, I don’t sing and I don’t dance,” added the comedian and vocal LGBT rights advocate, who appeared off-Broadway in the solo show Me, My Mouth, and I. “Problems!” Since when has a celebrity needed singing or dancing skills to star in a musical?

  • Bette Midler now has her own official day (bootlegbetty.com)
  • Bette Midler On Why She Really Turned To Television: (bootlegbetty.com)
  • Bette Midler Takes on an Iconic Role as Hello, Dolly! Opens on Broadway (Official Opening Tonight) (bootlegbetty.com)
  • Bette Midler [her reaction of Broadway audiences] I (bootlegbetty.com)
  • Bette Midler On Hello Dolly: (bootlegbetty.com)
  •  ...  Read More

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    Saturday, August 5, 2017

    BetteBack February 18, 1975: Paul Simon Backs Out Of Duet With Bette Midler

    Gastonia Gazette February 18, 1975 ...  Read More

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