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[Broadway Ad Network]

  • There's never been a holiday season with so much Broadway-related product in the market place. You'll have no problem finding a theater or arts gift for that special someone - or yourself! The list is long: books - big ones, small ones - galore, DVDs, CDs.

    There's something for everyone - even if you're on a limited budget. If you're not, you're going to have some festive holidays!

    Of course, the best gift of all is tickets to a Broadway or Off Broadway show [there are shows for adults - such as the new hot tickets Spring Awakening; and, more than ever before, shows for the kids] or several of the worthwhile live attractions currently in town.

    A Theatrical Treasure Trove

    When you are in the Lincoln Center area, whether just being there or checking out the attractions at Avery Fisher Hall, the New York City Ballet, the Met, Big Apple Circus or Tom Stoppard's trigoly, The Coast of Utopia, at the Beaumont, don't miss Stars and Treasures: 75 Years of Collecting Theater, a free exhibition in the Donald and Mary Genslager Gallery of the NY Public Libary for the Performing Arts, through May 5.

    The exhibition is one of the events celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Billy Rose Theater Division. There are over 300 items on display - Academy, Emmy and Tony Awards, videos, excerpts from the Library's Theater on Video Collection, drawings, scripts, photographs, set models, costumes, window cards and theatre posters from the early 18th century to the present. They represent drama, musical theatre and popular entertainment such as the circus, magic and vaudeville.

    The Billy Rose Collection has amassed more than nine million items, which together constitute the world's preeminent record of live theater. The exhibit, with a tribute to early British theater, features hundreds of rare and unique treasures, some viewed only by researchers and never before on public display. These include a draft of Capote's House of Flowers annotated in his hand; a Ford's Theatre program from the night Lincoln was assassinated by Edwin Booth's brother, actor John Wilkes Booth; and a 1970s-80s gypsy robe - the ceremonial robe passed among dancers from musical to musical, with embellishments added by each.

    Some items from the Library's Collection: costume jewelry worn by Edwin Booth in Hamlet, a script of Sir John Gielgud's from a 1930s production, the costume designs by Cecil Beaton for the original My Fair Lady, a jeweled belt worn by Sarah Bernhardt, letters written by Harry Houdini, early drafts of Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, letters from Tennessee Williams describing his alcoholism and its effect on his writing, Al Hirschfeld's seven-foot 1950s mural depicting First Nighters such as Marlene Dietrich, Lillian Gish and No"l Coward and a Hirschfeld caricature of George Bernard Shaw as a red-faced, horned devil.

    Among the treasures on loan from celebrities Jane Alexander [a silver smelling-salts vial once owned by Ellen Terry], Joel Grey, Harvey Fierstein, Julie Harris, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone [jewelry she wore in Evita that was worn by Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam], Donna Murphy and Tommy Tune.

    The Gift of Music

    * How about a little Beatles redux?When The Beatles: LOVE opened in it's spectacular new home at Vegas's Mirage, Paul McCartney was so stunned at the state of the art quality of the performance sound he told me: "We were a bloody great band. I'm proud of the music we made. When it was suggested we partner with Cirque, it reminded me that over the years I'd given some thought to remixing our music. I always decided there wasn't much reason for it. ëLeave it alone,' I said. But when Cirque and our long-time producer George approached me, I realized our music wasn't finished. The Cirque show gives it a new slant and a new life. So if ever there was a good reason, this was it."

    A good reason, indeed. Sir George Martin who produced most of the Beatles' albums and who's affectionately called the fifth Beatle, and his son Giles' goal was "to take audiences on a song-by-song magical mystery tour into the heart and soul of what the Beatles wrote and composed. It's a journey through their exploration of the aesthetic, political, anti-war and spiritual trends of the wild, rebellious 60s."

    Now, even if you can't make it to the desert, you can experience the amazing remix of Beatles' classics on the two-disc CD and DVD-Audio pull-out soundtrack package [Apple/Capitol Records; SRP $22]. You'll agree that the sound on the 26 tracks is the Beatles as you've never heard them.

    Included is a souvenir booklet with 26 pages of psycheldelic photos [from the huge projections used in the stage show] and notes by the Martins.

    For more on The Beatles: LOVE, including interviews and photos,
    click >>> BroadwayStars <<< . = == = == = == = == = == = ==

    * Tony Award winner Brian Stokes Mitchell's voice stands out, making comparisons almost impossible. After appearing on numerous cast albums, he makes his solo debut on this self-titled CD [Playbill Records] and is equally at home with a standard, show tune or a jazz-infused classic. He has a voice that can evoke a mood or an emotion.

    "Making an album," explains Mitchell, "is like having a child. It's conceived, made manifest, nurtured, shaped, guided and finally turned out into the world with the hope it's been given what it needs to connect and thrive.

    "I chose songs that reflect my life and who I am," he adds, "not only my musical journey but also my journey through life. I wanted to give my musical theater fans what they want while being true to the sound I hear and my musical influences."

    The 12 tracks [the only disappointment; there should have been at least 15!] include songs by Sondheim and Bernstein ["Something's Coming"], Sondheim ["Being Alive," "Another Hundred People," "Losing My Mind," "Pretty Women"], Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh ["The Best Is Yet to Come"], Jule Styne, Adolph Green and Betty Comden ["Just in Time"], George and Ira Gershwin and Adam Guettel ["How Glory Goes," Floyd Collins]. Mitchell penned many of the arrangements and orchestrations and produced the CD.

    * Jamie deRoy, winner of numerous cabaret awards and now also theater and film producer, is known for her Jamie deRoy & Friends concerts, TV show and CDs. But her new CD has a twist. The theater composers sing in the key of their own voices.

    If I Sing [PS Classics], titled after the Richard Maltby/David Shire song from Closer Than Ever, features 16 songwriters taking on their own material - some of it familiar, some unknown - in new performances and new arrangements.

    Among the theater composers on the disc: Stephen Schwartz ["For Good," Wicked], Maury Yeston ["Nowhere to Go but Up" from his unproduced Ramayana], Maltby and Shire, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx {"Tear It Up and Throw It Away," Avenue Q], Andrew Lippa, Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman ["How Could I Ever Know," The Secret Garden], and Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford ["Old Friend," I'm Getting My Act Together...]. On other tracks, pop songwriters Grammy Award-winners Julie Gold and Larry Gatlin perform their material.

    If I Sing, with illustrated booklet with extensive notes, was produced by Paul Rolnick, with artistic direction by Barry Kleinbort. It's in stores, or available through psclassics.com, amazon.com, footlight.com.

    Buy the Book

    * Movie musical fans of a certain age know Marni Nixon. Even if the name doesn't ring a bell, they've heard her sing. She was "the voice" of numerous Hollywood leading ladies who either couldn't carry a tune or couldn't carry one well enough.

    She dubbed of Natalie Wood in West Side Story, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady and Deborah Kerr in The King and I. Now, one of the hardest-working "voices" in Hollywood speaks for herself in I Could Have Sung All Night: My Story, written with playwright/librettist Stephen Cole [Billboard Books, $25; hardcover, 50 B&W photos, index] with a Foreword by Marilyn Horne.

    Nixon arrived in Lalaland, debuting with the L.A. Philharmonic at 17. Her career included working not only with Bernstein and Sondheim on WWS, but also Aaron Copland, Charles Ives and Rogers and Hammerstein.

    Her autobiography reveals that it wasn't easy being "the voice" and, in those days, not getting the recognition. And her pay paled in comparison to those she "voiced." She doesn't shy away from being frank as she tells fascinating tales of life "behind-the-scenes."

    Nixon's story, unlike so many, has a happy ending. She played Eliza Doolittle on regional stages, portrayed Sister Sophia in the blockbuster Sound of Music, won four Emmys for the children's TV series Boomerang, toured in her one-person show The Voice of Hollywood, did records and TV guest roles, teaches master classes and appeared Off Bway, where she won a 1984 DD as Outstanding Featured Actress, Musical, in Taking My Turn, which was filmed for TV.

    On Broadway, she appeared in the Romberg/Robin/Chodorov musical The Girl in Pink Tights [1954], James Joyce's The Dead and later casts of the 2001 Follies and 2003's Nine. Best news of all, however, is that she is a breast cancer survivor and has worked tirelessly to raise prevention awareness.

    * Playbill editor Robert Viagas [author of books on The Fantasticks, ACL, Playbill's Broadway Yearbook series] scores again with The Alchemy of Theatre - The Divine Science, Essays on Theatre and the Art of Collaboration [Applause Books; hardcover, illustrated throughout with subject protraits, index; 296 pages, SRP $30] showcases 28 show business talents working in various Broadway fields [acting, producing, writing, design] sharing their thoughts on theater and the art of collaboration.

    Among those writing on achieving success in a world where giant egos are locked together under the financial and emotional pressure to deliver the goods and make a production come together as a whole are: Edward Albee, Cy Coleman [one of his last writing efforts before his death], lighting designers Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, musical director Paul Gemignani, Rocco Landesman, costumer William Ivey Long, Terrence McNally, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Harold Prince, Chita Rivera, Shubert Org chairman Gerald Schoenfeld, Susan Stroman, set designer Robin Wagner, Wendy Wasserstein and George Wolfe.

    * Village Voice columnist and frequent TV guest Michael Musto, often called "the Hunter S. Thompson of snark," has complied a series of his essay which track the world of A-List celebrities and put them into book form, La Dolce Musto: Writings by the World's Most Outrageous Columnist [Carroll & Graf; 386 pages, trade edition, SRP, $16].

    In his weekly column and TV appearances, Musto has also pioneered gay issues - often with a cutting edge. His gossip, dripping with his trademark cattiness, of the party circuit and especially his quite-telling blind items are the eagerly anticipated dish.

    The book has a sampling of his star romps with and ripe comments on the likes of Sandra Bernhard, Anderson Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres, Anita Ekberg, Mel Gibson [of his recent DUI arrest: "I had no idea that an open bar is all it takes to turn Mother Teresa into a hair-plugged Hitler"], Liberace, epitomize his style: full of adulation, and sexual innuendo. Lindsay Lohan, Madonna and once arch enemy, Rosie O'Donnell.

    Want More?

    * What better gift to all the family than a holiday visit to New York's very own Big Apple Circus, New York's original not-for-profit one-ring circus, and its 29th season spectacular new production Step Right Up! Performances under the tent in Lincoln Center's Damrosch Park run through January 7.

    Artistic and creative directors Paul Binder and Michael Christensen have brought together circus acts from around the world, set in a seaside amusement park of a bygone era where audiences are swept into a world of boardwalk bathing beauties, games of chance, Ragtime rhythms and eye-popping "electrified" signs and a living carousel.

    Artists include Russia's Irina and Andrey Perfilyev, performing a daring aerial ballet; China's Zhengzhou Troupe; Arabian stallions; the German/Cuban hand-balancing Liazeed Trio; and Russian jugglers Svetlana Ivtchenko and Gennadiy.

    The showstopping Aussie cyclist and hilariously funny Justin Case wildly masters a bicycle into all manner of out-of-the-ordinary formations. His finale is riding a 4" X 6" wheelie through a flaming hoop.

    The BAC would not be the BAC without the high jinks and pratfalls of beloved star clown Grandma, now proudly inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame. She's joined by France's celebrated clown Francesco.

    Tickets are from $22 - $78 [depending on day and time] with $125 premium seating; available from the Lincoln Center Big Apple Circus box office; through Centercharge, (212) 721-6500; Ticketmaster, (212) 307-4100; Ticketmaster outlets; and online at ticketmaster.com.Special pricing applies to the 9:30 PM New Year's Eve gala performance where, after the show, you join the artists in the ring for a family-friendly countdown to 2007. For reservations, call (800) 922-3772.

    * That bold, rambunctious gang of Aussies, better known as Circus Oz, is back with a vengeance. Their new, pulse-racing production from Down Under, The Laughing At Gravity Tour, plays the historic New Victory Theatre through December 31st.

    Like Cirque du Soleil, Circus Oz is animal free; but while Cirque presents Felliniesque tableaux, Oz goes the Mad Max mayhem route. These Aussies from Melbourne revel in creating surreal chaos.

    It's a show that will captivate children as well as adults.With thrills, chills and hearty laughter, there's nothing traditional or ho-hum about this circus. When these cheeky, dexterous mischief-makers aren't flipping, soaring or juggling, they're jamming to the rock licks of their band.CO has developed an international following because audiences know it's packed with death-defying feats and pyrotechnic surprises. In addition to their mind-boggling feats, the company's zany characters deliver wacky, cutting-edge insanity.

    CO acts not only are in the moment but also in your face. There's always more than one thing happening at once - and it will always be daring and funny.

    The show begins with a popcorn vendor finding herself literally twisted in knots; an accordion player in a bolero jacket thwarting off the oncoming advances of a BMX stunt biker; an aerial duo challenging gravity on a double trapeze; Chinese acrobats doing feats from high up in the Victory's fly space entwined only in canvas straps; and 12 riders creating a human pyramid on a moving bicycle, no hands on the handlebars. Even a band member gets into the act flying high across the stage while playing the double bass.

    If that's not enough edge-of-the-seat entertainment, consider the reinvention of a traditional sideshow stunt, where concrete slabs are smashed on a performer's stomach - with a sledge hammer. Be forewarned that, surprisingly for a show at the New Victory, famed for its children's programming, some aspects of the show are a bit "in your face" with what many considered inappropriate sexual banter and posturing in considerably skimpy costumes.

    With tickets priced $15 - $50, Circus Oz is one of the city's best entertainment bargains. Purchase online at Telecharge.com, by calling (212) 239-6200 or at the New Victory box office [209 West 42nd Street, just off Broadway]. In addition to evening shows starting at family-friendly 7 P.M., there are numerous matinees.

    At Home with the Movies

    Pull out the popcorn, melt the butter and crush the ice for your Diet Coke:

    * Just in time for purchase for entertaining holiday viewing is The Astaire and Rogers Collection: Volume Two [Warmer Home Video, SRP $60]. The five disc gift set, continuing the legacy of two of the world's dance legends, is an experience akin to going out for a night at the movies 70 years ago, contains these treasures bubbling with the team's lavish, height-of-sophistication routines from the RKO Pictures vaults.

    Discs: Carefree [featuring "Change Partners" and Astaire's legendary battle with the golf balls, "Since They Turned Loch Lomond into Swing"], Flying Down To Rio [top billing went to the ever-gorgeous Dolores Del Rio; the duo's first film together, highlighted by the production number on airplane wings and their energetic "Carioca"], The Gay Divorcee [with "Night and Day" and the Oscar-winning song "The Continental," also a revelation in dance precision], Roberta [highlighted by Astaire's classic "I Won't Dance"] and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle ó all in crisp, sparkling B&W, all new to DVD, all newly remastered.

    Composers include Berlin, Harbach, Kern, Porter and Youmans. Supporting players, always an asset in any A-R outing, include: 1) Ralph Bellamy, Jack Carson, the incorrigible Franklin Pangborn; 2) Gene Raymond; 3) the delightful Alice Brady and Ed Everette Horton; 4) top-billed Irene Dunne, pre-Westerns Randolph Scott; and 5) two great classic character actors, Edna May Oliver and Walter Brennan.

    The set boasts numerous extras features such as documentaries, photo cards, replicas of original press books, comedy/musical/novelty shorts, even cartoons.

    * Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 1 [WHV, SRP $40] is of interest to any dedicated cinema fan. With three 30s pre-Code films, all remastered and for the first time on DVD, Baby Face [uncensored version], Red-Headed Woman and the original Waterloo Bridge, this set takes you back to the time when Hollywood was free to present just about any adult theme without interference or censorship.

    The stars, respectively, are Barbara Stanwyck as a loose woman sleeping her way from rags to riches;; platinum bombshell Jean Harlow; and Mae Clarke.

    Broadway's Lost Treasure Found

    Anyone interested in the archives of great performances from the early Tony Awards produced by Broadway impresario Alexander Cohen [through the 1986 Tonys] will enjoy excerpts from those telecasts presented on the Broadway's Lost Treasures, three volume, boxed set [Acorn Productions; $60; approximately 90 minutes each].

    The set also goes beyond the Cohen years with 23 rarely-seen performances, including the companies of Merrick's 42nd Street ["We're In the Money"] and Fosse; Gwen Verdon performing "Whatever Lola Wants" from Damn Yankees with Ray Walston alongside; Jerry Orbach from Promises, Promises; Zero Mostel performing "Comedy Tonight!" from A Funny ThingÖ; an eight minute tribute to Ethel Merman; a Julie Andrews medley; and numbers from How Now Dow Jones, Into the Woods, Kiss Me Kate, Peter Pan, Ragtime and 1980's West Side Story.

    The package includes excerpts from 19 Tony-nominated plays, with 14 performances not seen in the PBS broadcast. Musical bonus material includes Angela Lansbury performing "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from the 1975 Gypsy revival.

    A Japanese Medea for LaMama

    Charismatic, celebrated and controversial Japanese dancer/actor star Hiroshi Jin and his all-male [in the tradition of the Kabuki] Company East will present the New York premiere of his 1997 Medea at La Mama's Annex [74A East 4th Street, off Second Avenue] on January 4-17. It arrives here after acclaimed performances world-wide.

    Jin, who plays several roles, notes that his interpretation with much visualization in "spiritual dance" which is based on Zen, "the spirit between life and death, the erotic beauty of the bare body." [In other words, there'll be steamy, full-frontal nudity.]

    Kenji Kawarasaki is directeor/choreographer. Tickets are $20; to purchase, go to www. http://www.lamama.org/.

    Glorious Holiday Treats

    Manhattan is filled with holiday spectacular from the trees at Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum; Macy's and the Lord & Taylor windows; and glittering Park Avenue.

    At the Met, you have just under two weeks to catch the stunningly-mounted exhibition CÈzanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde with masterworks galore [ends January 7]. Besides the titled artists, there are Degas, Gauguins, Van Goghs, Matisses, Renoirs. The other major Met retrospective is Americans in Paris, 1860-1900, which features 100 paintings by 37 American artists, runs through January 28.

    Speaking of Picasso, also don't miss Picasso and American Art, through January 28, at the Whitney, where Edward Hopper: An American Icon Revealed is also a must-see.

    A Few Hours with Tom Stoppard, Dinner Included

    Monday, January 8, Drama Desk will present A Conversation with Tom Stoppard, whose trilogy The Coast of Utopia [Voyage, Shipwreck, Salvage] is currently being presented by Lincoln Center Theatre at the Vivian Beaumont. Co-moderators will be Margaret Croyden of NYTheatre-Wire.com and author of Conversations with Peter Brook 1970-2000 [Farrar, Straus & Giroux], and William Wolf, Wolf Entertainment Guide, NYU film instructor and Drama Desk president.

    A Conversation with Tom Stoppard will take place in the event room of Tony's Di Napoli Restaurant [147 West 43rd Street, just off Broadway]. A buffet supper and wine and soda will be served from 5 - 6 P.M., with the discussion following until 7:30.All inclusive admission is $25 for DD members and $45 for guests and non-members. Space is limited. For reservations, contact Mr. Wolf at [email protected].


    Ellis Nassour is an international media journalist, and author of Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline, which he has adapted into a musical for the stage. Visit www.patsyclinehta.com.

    He can be reached at [email protected]

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    For more articles by Ellis Nassour, click the links below!

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