Archive for the ‘LEGEND’ Tag



Patti LuPone is of the ‘old school’. She talks about signing a contract–heavy emphasis on ‘contract’–to do 8 performances a week–“That is your job, that is your commitment, that is your contract.” She talks about how you can’t hear most lyrics in a Broadway show because the music is too loud and the singers of today don’t enunciate their words. She takes pot shots at Susan Strohan as a director, talks about her ‘sometimes I love him and sometimes I hate him’ talking about Steven Sondheim and her love and respect for the late Arthur Laurents. And she has quite a few things to say about rumors and rumor spreaders, tackling some of the rumors about her but, no, she doesn’t talk about the ‘elephant in the room’ the flashbulb incident that took place when she was doing “Gypsy”.

She is caustic, funny, direct and, obviously very much at home on the stage. You listen when she talks because she has something to say and says it! She and Seth Rudetsky have been working together for a few years now and they know how to play off each other and they, along with the audience, have fun with it.

When Patti LuPone gets up to sing you know you are in the presence of a star. She is a ‘belter’ more in the tradition of an Ethel Merman and Barbra Streisand rather than in the current American Idol belters. With each song she is telling a story and she is the person in that song.

She started off with “Come To The Supermarket in Old Peking” followed by the song she sang at ‘cattle calls’ when she started “Don’t Rain On My Parade”. After talking about the original “Hair” and not being kind to the revival, she did a song from the show. Next came a few stories about “Gypsy” and Arthur Laurents and how she saw Rose Havoc with her bringing the house down with “Everything is Coming Up Roses” going onto a number from “Woman On The Verge” which she feels was an extremely under-rated show and will be revived in the future to great success. “Stealing a song from Mandy Patinkin” she belted out a rousing “Trouble” from “The Music Man” then  her signature song from “Evita” called “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” after explaining what a hard score that show was to sing and telling why. She finished with 2 songs from “Company” doing a very moving “Being Alone” and angry/funny “Ladies Who Lunch” ending with an explosion fromtheaudiencethat I am sure was heard in Miami!

I have seen Patti LuPone on Tv–just recently on the “Girls”–but she started her stage career on Broadway in the 1970s, starring in “the Robber Bridegroom”, after I had moved to Memphis and I had never seen her on stage until this show. I did see the televised version of “Company” but now wish I had seen it in person. Patti LuPone is a legend and she showed why at the Parker Playhouse Thursday night.

Posted March 15, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The house lights come down and the stage lights come up to reveal Alex Rybeck at the piano, Dave Wilkinson on the bass and George Mazzeo on drums and as they start playing you hear Donna McKechnie backstage singing “Everything Is Coming Up Roses” and 30 seconds later she comes swirling from behind the curtain in a red dress and everything IS coming up roses for me!


     She talks, and sings, about her life in show business from running away from home to Broadway, getting a role in “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” and her attaining recognition from critics for her dancing in the “Turkey Lurkey Time” number in “Promises, Promises”–the show I saw her in  during a snowstorm in New York city in February 1969. She briefly, one liners, talks about her battle with arthritis and her divorce but mainly she sings songs from shows she has been in like “Company”, “Follies”,  “State Fair”,  being taught by the original Charity, Gwen Verdon, when she was doing a revival, also talking about Ann Miller, not name dropping but telling about people she has worked with.

And then, much too soon in her act, we, her audience, see her at the age of 35, all of us 37 years younger and “Cassie” is on stage. She sings the original song, “Inside The Music”, that Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban, wrote for her, segueing into the show stopper it would become called “The Music and The Mirror” where for 8 1/2 minutes she held the Shubert Theatre audience (and many others in the following years) spellbound as she acted, sang and danced in  a role that would earn her a Tony Award.

I remember sitting in the second row of the Shubert’s mezzanine and being taken in by her for all she was doing but even more so identifying with the words of the song and how she felt. Now, in 2012, I am once again mesmerized by Donna McKechnie as Cassie in “A Chorus Line” and my eyes fill with tears as it always does when I hear this number. I remember sitting in the Shubert on September 29, 1983, when “A Chorus Line” became the longest running show on Broadway, and once again she did “The Music and the Mirror” with other ‘Cassies’ but none moving like her and certainly none moving me like she did.

She went on to sing about “Lies Of Handsome Men” and a medley about the movies but I was stuck on her “Music and the Mirror”. Sure she doesn’t move like she did but she gives the illusion of doing just that. It’s not the full 8 and 1/2 minutes but in my head, as she moved and sang, I saw her doing it all.

The show ended too soon. It was suppose to have been 90 minutes but only ran about 70. I suppose with the opening the night before, where she signed autographs for all 250 people that were there, then doing the master class this afternoon and now this evening show she may have been drained of energy but she didn’t show it. I was hoping she would do the signing again but that was not to be.

For her encore, and final number, she did a tribute to Fred Astaire and told her story of meeting him the first time. She has told it thousands of times over the years, and has added a little to the story  each time, but it felt as if she was telling it for the first time. You could see the thrill she felt when he asked her to dance and held out his hand to take hers. She was a fan who was tongue-tied, in awe, at meeting her idol and that is how she left her audience.


Posted February 23, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The only knowledge I had of a master class was the play “Master Class” by Terrence McNally which was a fictionalized account of Maria Callas giving a class for young adults which I had seen years ago. I googled the definition of Master Class and it was defined as ‘a class given to talented students by an expert.’

We arrived at the Plaza theatre about 15 minutes before the announced starting time. I was concerned that we wouldn’t get decent seats though it is a small theatre, seating 250, so any seat is a good seat. I did get to meet Karen Carisle, the Director of Marketing for the new theatre, who had been very helpful to me getting the seats for the class and the show.


We entered the theatre and to my surprise there were only about 25 people. We were able to take seats in the second row on the aisle. At 1 PM sharp, with about 15 more people in the auditorium, Donna McKechnie and her Musical Director and accompanist, Alex Rybeck, came from behind the curtain with the latter taking his seat at the piano and Ms. McKechnie came center stage. She started by explaining that this wasn’t a performance and rule number 1 was ‘no applause’ and that would be a hard rule to follow and she proved to be right.

Ms McKechnie sat in the first row as students from the Dreyfoos School of the Arts, 15 and 16 year olds, came forward individually and would do a brief ‘rehearsal’ with Mr. Rybeck and then sing for Ms. McKechnie. For those who were prepared she let them sing through and then start giving them constructive criticism and then have them sing some more. She was positive, kind, helpful and giving to each student. There was a 10 year old girl who wanted to sing and came down to the stage. Ms. McKechnie said that she had never worked with someone so young in a class and added that she had worked with kids in shows. She showed the 10 year old the same respect she showed all the other students.

The teenagers sang Broadway show tunes including “Adelaide’s Lament” from “Guys and Dolls”, “All I Need Is Love” from “Chicago”, “Anything Goes” from the show of the same name and “Popular” from “Wicked” among others. Whether the songs were appropriate for the singer and/or their age Ms McKechnie worked with the singer of different approaches and how important that was to know.

 (That’s Donna Mc. in the middle with her back to the camera in the black dress)

Nearing 3 PM, when the class was scheduled to end, there were still about 3-4 more kids to be heard, though it looked as if 2 of them had added themselves to the list, and Ms. McKechnie said they would hold a ‘hit parade’ which meant they would come up on stage and sing one after the other. One of them reminded me of Barbara Cook’s soprano but due to time restrictions didn’t have one on one though Ms McKechnie did comment on her sweet voice.

Alex Rybeck was not only very helpful accompanying the kids but every once in awhile he would add an insightful comment to what Ms. McKechnie was talking about. They were both cool and calm in spite of the fact that the students, who should know better at this point, gave Rybeck sheet music with a page missing or glued together or the wrong music for the song they wanted to sing.

After the class Donna McKechnie took the time to talk to everyone who wanted to talk to her and I just couldn’t bring myself to talk about “A Chorus Line” because that is all anyone talked about to her so I mentioned seeing her in “Promises, Promises”, 43 years ago this month during a snowstorm in New York City. And no, I won’t tell you what I said to get that reaction from her!

Donna McKechnie said that she teaches a class at HB studios in NYC and from what I saw I think anyone who attends her class are in for some positive learning.

It did surprise/disappoint me that with her two shows sold out, and the ticket price including the master class, that only 40 people out of a possible 500  came to observe a legend of the Broadway theatre teaching others what she knows.


February 29th is special…

It’s the reason that a season comes at the same time every year.

If you’re born on Leap Day… Welcome Home!


Just 9 days to our next birthday!

Posted February 21, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MY DAY WITH DONNA! PART 1   Leave a comment

Okay, I give up–who is that OLD bald man with Donna? OMG! It’s me!!

We (well me) took a bunch of pictures in conjunction with our trip going to see Donna McKechnie and I will explain them as I write about MY DAY WITH DONNA! :O)







On the right is Alan Jacobson Producing Director of the Plaza Theatre.

Posted February 19, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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