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Hello! It’s Time for a Spooky Mormon Hell Dream with David Larsen

October 8, 2014

bom_logoFrom the creators of South Park, and winner of nine Tony Awards, including best musical, The Book of Mormon is taking the nation by storm.   The second Broadway tour stars David Larsen in the role of Elder Kevin Price.  He Joined host Robert Hammond on Stage Notes to discuss his enormous role and why The Book of Mormon is a sweeping success. Special thanks to Broadway star Tom Deckman for arranging this interview with David.

Follow Robert on Twitter @stagenotes.

LISTEN to full program. Aired week of 9/21/14

As the show opens we are introduced to the LDS Church Missionary Training Centre where Elder Price and his classmates of missionaries-to-be demonstrate their daily attempts to convert the public to Mormonism through door to door campaigns with the song “Hello.” Elder Price is looking forward to his two year mission, and prays he will be posted to Orlando, the world of Disney Land. Instead, he and Elder Arnold Cunningham, a nerdy overweight missionary played by Cody Jamison Strand, are posted to Uganda.  At Salt Lake City Airport, spunky Elder Price talks about how he hopes to change the world and make a difference to the people of Uganda, aided somewhat by the incompetent Elder Cunningham.

David Larsen in the role of Elder Kevin Price

South Park creators-writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Tony-winning Avenue Q songwriter Robert Lopez collaborated on the script and score to the musical, which earned Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Score and Best Musical.

Co-directed by Parker and Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon opened to critical acclaim March 24, 2011, at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. Both earned Tony Awards for their work and repeat their duties for the tour.

David Larsen

Broadway: Hands on a Hardbody (Chris Alvaro), American Idiot (Tunny), Billy Elliot (Tony u/s), Good Vibrations (Bobby). TV: Boston Public (3 episode guest star). Regional: Leading roles at Hollywood Bowl, Marriott Lincolnshire, St. Louis Rep, KC Starlight, Bay Street Theatre, and Goodspeed. Contributor for Just Desserts NYC. Oregon native with a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University.  Follow David on Twitter @dlarsen22.

That’s a Show Tune?

September 4, 2014

POP aSpread the word!!  Stage Notes is officially bi-coastal beginning Sunday (9/7) at 6 PM (PST) on KWXY 107.3, The Sound of the Desert in Palm Springs, California. I’m thrilled Stage Notes will be a part of KWXY’s fantastic programming.  Live stream at KWXY.com. 

Some of Broadway’s best show tunes are not just heard on the stage.There are some that really stand out, permeating pop culture, touching a nerve, and inspiring even the shyest to belt the lyrics.  Crooners  from the Rat Pack, Rosemary Clooney, and Tony Bennett would warble their own versions of top tunes from current shows and all of America would listen to them on the airwaves.  Join host Robert Hammond for this week’s Stage Notes.  He’ll feature some of Broadway’s best “pop” songs.

In the 1960s Broadway took a backseat to rock groups as teenagers dominated record sales. The Beatles recorded a memorable version of “Till There Was You” from The Music Man and Louis Armstrong’s Dixieland spin on “Hello, Dolly” was a hit, but the theater was no longer a major player in the record industry. Today the trend is changing with songs from Les Meserables, The Phantom of the Opera, and Wicked seeping into the mainstream through TV shows like Glee and American Idol.

Follow Robert on Twitter @stagenotes

Broadway Hits the Silver Screen

August 11, 2014

1982-broadway-to-hollywood-thumbnailWith Les Misérables recent gigantic leap from stage to the silver screen,  Stage Notes host Robert Hammond showcased songs from some of the best Hollywood adaptations from the Great White Way, including Gentlemen prefer Blondes, Dreamgirls, West Side Story, and The Phantom of the Opera.

LISTEN Aired 8/9/14

Still Here – A Tribute to Elaine Stritch

July 26, 2014

elaine-stritch-laughingThe Broadway star who turned Stephen Sondheim’s song of survival “I’m Still Here” into a personal anthem of triumph over booze, diabetes, unfaithful lovers, indifferent producers, demanding directors, fawning fans, and long stretches of unemployment before achieving the status of Living Legend in her later decades, died last week. She passed away in Birmingham, MI, the Detroit suburb to which she decamped a year ago after living the fabulous life for years at Madison Avenue’s Hotel Carlyle. She was 89. Broadway dimmed its lights for one minute on Friday at 7:45 PM in tribute.  Host Robert Hammond as he paid tribute to Elaine Stritch during Stage Notes July 26, 2014.  Full program below.

LISTEN Aired 7/26/14

Still Here – A Tribute to Elaine Stritch

July 23, 2014

Elaine Stritch

The Broadway star who turned Stephen Sondheim’s song of survival “I’m Still Here” into a personal anthem of triumph over booze, diabetes, unfaithful lovers, indifferent producers, demanding directors, fawning fans, and long stretches of unemployment before achieving the status of Living Legend in her later decades, died last Thursday. She passed away in Birmingham, MI, the Detroit suburb to which she decamped a year ago after living the fabulous life for years at Madison Avenue’s Hotel Carlyle. She was 89. Broadway dimmed its lights for one minute on Friday at 7:45 PM in tribute.  Join Host Robert Hammond as he pays tribute to Elaine Stritch

Elaine Stritch

“Elaine Stritch’s big personality was matched by her big talent,” Broadway League Executive Director Charlotte St. Martin said.

New York City named Stritch one of its Living Landmarks in 2003.

Just 17 when she moved to New York to study acting, Stritch made her Broadway debut in 1946.She was nominated for five Tony Awards and eight primetime Emmys over her long career. She did not win a Tony until her autobiographical one-woman show — “Elaine Stritch at Liberty” — won the 2002 special theatrical event Tony.

Her 2002 performance also won an Emmy after it was made into an HBO show. Stritch was awarded two other acting Emmys, including one for a guest star role on “Law & Order” and one for playing Alec Baldwin’s mother on “30 Rock.”

Stritch was born in Detroit in 1925 but moved to New York City to study acting when she was 17.

Her Broadway debut came in “Loco,” a comedy that ran for just a month in October 1946. Her first musical role on Broadway came a year later in “Angel in the Wings.”

“The Ladies Who Lunch,” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” became her signature song when she sang it on Broadway in 1971. The performance earned her a Tony actress nomination.

Her other Tony nominations came from “Bus Stop” in 1956 and “Sail Away” in 1962.

Stage Notes Celebrates LGBT Pride Month

June 21, 2014

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       LISTEN  stagenotes_text Color logo

Follow Stage Notes on Twitter @stagenotes. Now, on with the show…

playbill-supports-gay-pride-665x385 Is The Great White Way Gay?

A good friend of mine was in a lead role in a blockbuster musical on Broadway. After the Saturday evening performance, it was customary for the cast and crew to chill out at what they called “their place.”  Since I was a frequent attendee, I became an honoree part of the group.   On one such night, I asked my friend “is —- gay.” He responded: “Robert, on Broadway you don’t ask if a person is gay, you ask if they’re straight.”

For certain, I knew about the stereotypes and flamboyancy that often surrounds theatre people, but I had not developed such a hard core syllogism:  If you’re in theatre you must be gay.  I don’t believe that.  However, I do believe that the theatre is a safe haven for many LGBT people, especially gay men.

I was thrilled that Dr. Allan O’Grady Cuseo joined me on this important edition of Stage Notes.  Broadcast date June 21, 2014.  Take time to read his impressive bio:

allan_ogrady_cuseo-170x213Dr. Allan O’Grady Cuseo earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1988. He also holds a Masters in Library Science from SUNY/Geneseo and a BS in Education from SUNY/GENESEO.  He holds a Master of Theology from St. Bernard’s College of Theology and Ministry plus a certificate in Scriptural Studies from Education for Ministry from Sewanee. He holds a certificate in Irish Theatre from the University College, Galway Ireland.

Dr. Cuseo was Building Leader for Library Services at Greece Arcadia High School and was instrumental in establishing the Project Pride, a student teaching, program there. He was on the adjunct faculty of Nazareth College of Rochester for over 25 years and 10 years for the School of Library Science at UB/SUNY’s School of Information and Library Science. He was on the adjunct faculty of the now closed Graduate School of Information and Library Science, SUNY/GENESEO. Allan resigned as Director of Library Services for Bishop Kearney High School in June 2009. He is currently General Manager of the Rochester Association of Performing Arts/Main Street (RAPA).

As a member of the American Library Association he has served as chairperson for the Outstanding Books for College Bound (Fine Arts) Revision Committee and has been a member of the Outstanding Books for College Bound (Fiction) Committee and the School Library Journal/Young Adult Services Division Committee to choose the Young Adult Author of the Year Award. He was awarded a position on the Best Books for Young   Adults, one of 15 librarians nationwide so honored. He was the Chair of the Religion Committee for the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee of the Young Adult Services Association of the American Library Association. He also was Chair of Books That Don’t Make you Blush for the same committee. He recently resigned as a major book reviewer for Catholic Library World magazine.

For his volunteer work with the City of Rochester PAC-TAC program he has been awarded merit honors for his service as Security chairperson for the Corn Hill Neighbors Association (CHNA). He served on the Board of Directors of CHNA and on the Corn Hill Arts Festival Executive Board. He has been the Chairperson of Security for the famous Corn Hill Arts Festival for 26 years.

He was President of Blackfriars Theatre of Rochester, New York, having served as President of the Board of Directors for over 40 years. For 7 years he was President of the Rochester City Ballet, the city’s only professional ballet company. He has served on the Planning Committee for the Right-On Summer School for the Church of St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene, Chairperson of the Evangelism Committee, Co-chairperson of the Ambassadors ministry, and a member of the Christian Education Committee. He was on the church’s vestry and serves as a delegate for the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. He was a member of the planning committee for the Lay School of Theology (Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Wellspring.

Dr. Cuseo has lectured and offered over 200 workshops nationwide for the New York Library Association and the American Library Association. Allan O’Grady Cuseo, PhD has a Doctorate in Literary Analysis from Columbia University. Formerly a librarian for the Greece Central School District, Dr. Cuseo retired June 2009 as Director of Library Services for Bishop Kearney High School.

He began his theatre career as a young teen with the Rochester Community Players and Catholic Theatre of Rochester (later renamed Blackfriars Theatre). He was the co-founder of the Rochester Repertory Company and starred in over 200 children and adult productions. The company specialized in children’s shows and performances for shut-ins in the community.

He is currently Managing Director of the Greater Rochester Repertories Companies  (GRRC) and has  directed Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap twice for them for which the Theatre Association of New York (TANYS) awarded him an Outstanding Director designation. For GRRC’s production of Love Letters he received an award from TANYS for Excellence in Acting.

Professionally in New York City he was a member of the Jewish Theatre for Children and also performed in Macy’s Christmas shows. He did summer stock at the famous Theatre-by-the-Sea in Matunuk, Rhode Island. He has worked on tour, both on-stage and technically,  with Debbie Reynolds, Imogene Coca, Judy Garland, Kim Hunter, Patrice Munsel, Patty Duke, John Astin, Godfrey Cambridge, Hans Conried, Lou Jacobi, and Jane Connell.

It has been estimated that he has been in over 400 theatre productions. In a review in Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle it was said of Allan that “he has the most perfect comedy timing of anyone in Rochester Theatre.” Another review stated, “he walks on stage and the audience immediately loves him. He is pure magic on stage.”

Allan is a vowed religious brother of the Mercy of God Community, known as Br. Allan. In 2011 he was ordained by Open Ministry.

Tony, Tony, Tony! A Tony Award Recap with Ted Chapin

June 14, 2014

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LISTEN    Aired 6/14/13

Joined by Ted Chapin, past Chairman of the Board for the American Wing (founder and owner of the Tony Awards) and current Vice Chair, host Robert Hammond presented an overview of the 68th annual Tony Award ceremony held on June 8th at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.   Having just attended the Tonys, Chapin presented an inside “look” at what it takes to put the show together, the history of the Tony Awards, and the voting process.

Ted Chapin

Theodore S. Chapin is President of Rodgers & Hammerstein: An Imagem Company. He is responsible for the overall operation of the various divisions within R&H including Williamson Music, the Irving Berlin Music Company, R&H Theatricals, and the R&H Concert Library.

A native of New York City, Mr. Chapin attended the initial semester of the National Theater Institute of the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theater Center. By the time he graduated from Connecticut College in 1972, he had amassed more than five years of Broadway credits as the production or directorial assistant for THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER AND HIS WIFE, THE ROTHSCHILDS, FOLLIES, and was assistant director for Bernstein’s MASS at the Kennedy Center, and CANDIDE at the Los Angeles and San Francisco Civic Light Operas.

From 1972 to 1975, Mr. Chapin served as Associate to Alan Arkin, where his credits include the original Broadway production of Neil Simon’s THE SUNSHINE BOYS,  the CBS telecast of TWIGS starring Carol Burnett; Jonathan Reynolds’ RUBBERS & YANKS 3 DETROIT 0 TOP OF THE SEVENTH; and Neil Cuthbert’s THE SOFT TOUCH.

From 1976 until he joined R&H, Mr. Chapin’s career included serving as Musical Director for the National Theatre of the Deaf’s production of FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS, Associate Director of the National Theater Institute, and Producer of the Musical Theatre Lab at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

In 2003, Mr. Chapin turned his observations as the Production Assistant on the Sondheim/Prince/Goldman/Bennett musical FOLLIES into a book, EVERYTHING WAS POSSIBLE: THE BIRTH OF THE MUSICAL “FOLLIES,” which was published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf and in paperback by Applause Books.

Mr. Chapin served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Theater Wing for four years. He was the chairman of the Advisory Committee for New York City Center’s Encores! from its inception.  He has served as a Tony Awards nominator for two seasons, and is currently a member of the Tony Administration Committee. He has served as a panelist for the Opera/Musical Theatre program of the National Endowment for the Arts, a producer and lecturer for four concerts of the Doubleday series at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution, and has been a visiting lecturer at Yale, New York University, Lawrence University, Columbia, and Baldwin Wallace.  He has been a judge at the Lotte Lenya Awards and has been honored by New York City Center with its Leonard Harris Award.  Recently he received two honors, one from Career Bridges for the Arts and one for the preservation of the musical theater, from the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards.

A resident of New York City, he is married and the father of two daughters.

 

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