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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tony Awards 2010

2010 Tony Awards: The Winners

New tuner "Memphis" walked away with the top tuner Tony, one of four awards the musical notched, while "Red" dominated the play awards taking new play and five other trophies.
"La Cage aux Folles" snagged musical revival with "Fences" nabbing play revival.
There was no shortage of star trophy winners, with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis winning the lead play actor kudos for their respective roles in "Fences," Catherine Zeta-Jones scoring for lead musical actress for "A Little Night Music" and Scarlett Johansson pickup up featured play actress for her turn in "A View from the Bridge."
And the winners are:
Author: John Logan 
Producers: Arielle Tepper Madover, Stephanie P. McClelland, Matthew Byam Shaw, Neal Street, Fox Theatricals, Ruth Hendel/Barbara Whitman, Philip Hagemann/Murray Rosenthal, The Donmar Warehouse
Producers: Junkyard Dog Productions, Barbara and Buddy Freitag, Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff, Latitude Link, Jim and Susan Blair, Demos Bizar Entertainment, Land Line Productions, Apples and Oranges Productions, Dave Copley, Dancap Productions, Inc., Alex and Katya Lukianov, Tony Ponturo, 2 Guys Productions, Richard Winkler, Lauren Doll, Eric and Marsi Gardiner, Linda and Bill Potter, Broadway Across America, Jocko Productions, Patty Baker, Dan Frishwasser, Bob Bartner/Scott and Kaylin Union, Loraine Boyle/Chase Mishkin, Remmel T. Dickinson/"Memphis" Orpheum Group, ShadowCatcher Entertainment/Vijay and Sita Vashee
Joe DiPietro
Music: David Bryan 
Lyrics: Joe DiPietro, David Bryan
Producers: Carole Shorenstein Hays and Scott Rudin
"La Cage aux Folles"
Producers: Sonia Friedman Productions, David Babani, Barry and Fran Weissler and Edwin W. Schloss, Bob Bartner/Norman Tulchin, Broadway Across America, Matthew Mitchell, Raise The Roof 4 Richard Winkler/Bensinger Taylor/Laudenslager Bergrère, Arelene Scanlan/John O'Boyle, Independent Presenters Network, Olympus Theatricals, Allen Spivak, Jerry Frankel/Bat-Barry Productions, Nederlander Presentations, Inc/Harvey Weinstein, Menier Chocolate Factory
Denzel Washington"Fences"
Viola Davis"Fences"
Douglas Hodge"La Cage aux Folles"
Catherine Zeta-Jones"A Little Night Music"
Eddie Redmayne"Red"
Scarlett Johansson"A View from the Bridge"
Levi Kreis"Million Dollar Quartet"
Katie Finneran"Promises, Promises"
Christopher Oram"Red"

Christine Jones"American Idiot"
Catherine Zuber"The Royal Family"
Marina Draghici"Fela!"
Neil Austin"Red"
Kevin Adams"American Idiot"
Adam Cork"Red"
Robert Kaplowitz"Fela!"
Michael Grandage"Red"
Terry Johnson"La Cage aux Folles"
Bill T. Jones"Fela!"
Daryl Waters & David Bryan"Memphis"
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Memorable Theater Moment

I had the good fortune of seeing "Side by Side By Soundheim" with Cyril Richard as the narrator/host. Not long after I saw the show at the Drury Lane Water Tower Place, the great Richard (best known for Captain Hook to Mary Martin's Peter Pan on Broadway and NBC TV - livein 1955) suffered a heart attach while on stage. He finished the show and passed away not long after.

Less than a month later I again went to the show, this time hosted by Burr Tilstrum and the Kuklapolitan Players. While the music remained the same, the entire texture changes as Kulka, Olie the Dragon and friends were added to the show. Also added was a song that a young Stephen Soundheim submitted to the Kula Fran and Ollie TV show. It remained sealed in an envelope unseen until Tilstrum agreed to do the review, and then only with Soundheim's permission to add the song. It was a love song of sorts (family) between the puppet Kula and Fran.

Also added to the Tillstrum version of "Side by Side by Soundheim" was "Send in the Clowns" as sung by Kula the clown. Tillstrum, clad in black stepped center stage and help Kulka the handpuppet up high with a single spotlight on the puppet. What was amazing was that the puppet, with no ability to move its mouth or have any sort of facial expression, had the audience fully accepting that it was singing one of Soundheims signature musical hits.

Reference info needed

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Sunday Morning News and Views

Sunday June 13, 2010

Today is the last day for “Little Orphan Annie”, one of the most popular comic strips in history. The strip gave birth to a popular radio series, television series, multiple movies and two Broadway musicals. The strip began August 5, 1924, with Annie still in the orphanage. Not long after that she was adopted by the Warbucks family and the nation. She was part soap opera and soapbox, as the author used her to attack bug business, corrupt government and “liberal” politics. The author did not like the policies of President Roosevelt, preferring the benevolence of Daddy Warbucks and big business America. In her first incarnation she was Otto, a boy. The sex change occurred when the publisher of the syndicate said “he” looked like a “she” so a dress was added and the name was changes prior to publication. Eyes were drawn in, but readers did not like it, so her blank stare became a trademark.

Annie is not dead, not yet. There are plans to revive the Broadway musical, Hallmark Channel movies, perhaps special edition comics specials and of course, reprints.

God’s love gives us the ability to forgive our enemies. That was the central message of Pope Benedict XVI’s Sunday service at St Peter’s Square. He publically applauded priest as a “gift” to both the church and the world. The Pontiff preached “from saints and martyrs to the unheralded pastors toiling in tiny parishes, who have been key to bringing authentic spiritual and social renewal throughout history.” He spoke of ministering from hospices to hospitals, libraries to schools, hovels to the halls of world leadership, and its role in bringing the spirit of Christ to the world.

Last Sunday was good day to pull out “Band of Brothers” or “Saving Private Ryan” and remember those who gave their lives for the security of the work on D-Day. 66 years ago today, June 6, 1944, Allied forces stormed the coast at Normandy.

Today the limestone cliffs allied forces scaled on D-Day are one of the most famous battle site memorials in World War II history, a Nazi stronghold.  They are eroding. Scientists are doing what they can, but say that the odds are that the cliffs will be done within fifty years.

On this date in 1884, in a day full of ups and downs, LaMarcus A. Thomson’s “Gravity Centered Switchback Railroad.” At 45 feet high, with no sharp drops, Thompson created what today we call the “roller coaster”. There was 1500 wooden coasters nation wide by the roaring 20’s. The Great Depression saw hundreds close as the towns they were in dried up, or the companies that kept them running went out of business. A revival occurred with a technology imported from Italy, the steel rollercoaster track.  Modern steel has caused a revival, a concept imported from Italy. There are 600 permanent fixed position roller coasters in America this summer, plus many dozens of carnival and state fair portable coasters. Sadly, most of the great wooden coasters of the 20th century are gone, as riders prefer the thrills, spills, upside down spills and sounds of the steel coaster and the operators prefer the far lower maintenance costs compared to the creaky, scary thrill of wood out parents, grand parents and great grandparents enjoyed, rode on their dates and paid homage to in movies, photographs and memories.

I remember the wooden coaster at Benson Harbor, Michigan, long ago reclaimed by the erosion of the lakefront. I recall seeing the peaks sticking up from the lake, the last to be eaten away into driftwood. I recall Riverview in Chicago and the small kiddy coaster within a bicycle ride from my home at “Kiddieland” (the sign and small amusement park across from Maywood Park Racetrack still stands proudly, as does that tame wooden coaster). I also remember the steel coaster I rode in Italy, with a design that never did catch on in the US. Riders climb in toboggan style, seated straddled over a central bench, pressed up against the back of the rider in front of them, arms clasps around their waist. It was my first experience doing 360 upside down loops, something I never did get use to and which keeps me off most roller coasters today.

77 years ago was opening night for the first American Drive In Theater, located in Camden, New Jersey. In the pre-air conditioning environment and depression era economy the drive in was an instant winner. Low price family packages, food, drink at reasonable prices, no need for a baby sitter, the socialization offered as you talk with neighbors, picnic tailgate, and of course a cheap date drove drive ins to the point that there were more than 4,000 theaters in late 1950’s with over 10,000 screens. By the late 1950’s the drive-ins were overtake by teenagers and teenage low budget movies. But that did not kill the craze. Rising real estate prices, new forms of entertainment demand for audio and video fidelity, air-conditioned luxury walk in theaters, shopping malls and the spread of Daylight Savings Time all contributed to the downfall of the drive in. Today just over 300 drive-ins remain. They are still popular for make-out dates and families on a budget.

70 years ago this Friday, June 18, Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave is famous “Let us therefore brace outselves to our duties, and so bear outselfs that if the British Emprie and its Commonwealth were to last for a thousand years men will say ‘this is their finest hour’” speech. Britian had just suffered a sound defeat in France, leading to the Dunkirk evacuation or “strategic retreat”. It looked as if England would stand along against Adolph Hitler, determined never to surrender.

Historic pride clouds the reality that the speech was not accepted by the majority of disheartened and exhausted Britons. His opponents talked of the “deep and almost universal bitterness” of the people and how real leadership was needed from someone other than the aging Chuchill.

Reminds me of how critics are painting President Barack Obama in his battle to rebuild from recession while dealing with everything from oil spills to war. The bitter and undercutting opposition has always been there, even for Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

A 6.3 earthquake hit 150 miles north of Tokyo this morning. Japanese officials say that both nuclear power plants in the area are operating normally. Meanwhile a minor quake shook the desert just outside San Diego, felt in downtown San Diego.

Facebook helped solve a fifteen-year-old stale child kidnapping case. A San Bernardino woman typed in the name of one of her two young children taken by their father in 1995. Her now teenage daughters name came up. Authorizes traced the Facebook profile to Orlando, Florida, arresting the father for kidnapping and violating child custody orders.

A CBS News survey shows that, consistently over the last 20 years, 63% of Americans favor the death penalty. Advocates feel that those convicted deserve to die. They tend to be callas, cold, or enjoy cruelty and pain without any remorse or guilt. Those against the death penalty says that most who die at the hands of the state, die because they do not have a good lawyer. Another view is that disproportionately African Americans and other ethnic minorities, who take the lives of white women, and even white men, are convicted to death. Caucasian “murderers” tend to get life or a lesser sentence.

BP says the cap placed over the blown out deep water well is now capturing about half of the oil spewing out. One third of the coastal Gulf of Mexico waters are now closed to fishing, devastating a major US industry for that region.

The Commandant of the Coast Guard told CBS Face the Nation that if the spill were shut off this week, which is not likely, we will see impact and large scale clean -up “well into the fall.” Oil not impacts from south-central Louisiana to the Gulf Coast of Florida, however at this point beaches remain open.

A low estimate of 25 million gallons a day is spewing from the leak, which is far higher than the government and British Petroleum claim or are working to contain. Two to four billion dollars in loss and damages a day is the CBS news estimate in total cost for the leak and the loss. On Wednesday Obama will meet with BP’s chairman on he spill and the creation of an Escrow account.

President Obama has proposed an Escrow account administered by a third party to administer damage claim payments resulting from the Gulf spill. British Petroleum’s board meets tomorrow to discuss deferring second quarter dividends into the escrow account until he extends of claims is known.

TB is by far North Korea’s most pressing medical problem, and it is getting worse. A strain of Tuberculosis that is multi-drug resistant and difficult to control is spreading rapidly. Meanwhile North Korea is threatening to shoot out speakers put up by South Korea to broadcast propaganda to troops manning the “truce” front line. To that North Korea’s response was that they would turn the South Korean Capital of Soul into “ashes” if the south does not stop it’s “attacks” on the North’s souvernty. From the perspective of South Korea, the torpedo sinking of South Korean warship in June.

A 24-year-old man has been arrested in Reno sentenced to 20 years in prison for the theft of two pricy puppies and the death of the dog’s 5-year-old grandmother. The mature dog was run over accidently as the thieves made their get-away. The prosecutor praised the judge’s sentence saying, “Don’t mess with the elderly and don’t mess with puppies!”

The Tony Awards are on CBS tonight. For the first time all nominated Best Musicals have rock music scores. Green Days’ Broadway show “American Idiot” is nominated for four Tony Awards tonight on Broadway. While actors perform the music in a book musical, audiences react as if the band was Green Day itself and they were attending a sold out concert.

In contrast, Angela Lansbury is again up for Best Actress in a Musical as the Matriarch Madam Armrouth, in the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music”, and another musical revival is up for the most Tony awards of the evening,“Promises Promises”. Lansbury already has five Tony Awards. Her famous lines in the show include “if they are actors, they will have to sleep in the stables”, “don’t press your chest against that, it will stunt your breast” and “there is one thing that is unavoidable in life, gas.”

One week ago Soccer fans stampeded in the Johannesburg suburb of Tembisa, South Africa before the warm up match between Nigeria and North Korea.  The Makulong Stadium eats 10,000 fans, but the crowd outside numbered over 60,000. No word this morning on deaths or injuries, but witnesses say they saw people stumble and fall.

The game is not “football” as so many purists contend. While many countries call it that, in their own language, of course, not all do. As an example Ireland and Scotland used he term “soccer” before it was adopted in the US. And for this month “Soccer” is king, at least in media coverage (hungry to attract Hispanic viewers).

The US played to an unexpected 1-1 tie against “football” powerhouse England, and South Africa kept the record of the host team not losing its first game with a 1-1 tie against Mexico. Americas have a had time embracing soccer as spectators in part because we do not like ties. Meanwhile, America’s Game is also the national game in Japan, where baseball games can end in ties for the “honor of both teams.”

With all the hype about the games and how accessible they are in the US, those claims show the bias of media. In New York and Los Angeles the cable companies have added capacity, expanded sorts options and offer internet feeds over cable, Meanwhile here in the US is it hard to find most games, if at all, on Cox.

Another thing the media is doing is hyping that soccer is now the most played and viewed game in America. They are talking about all soccer, including local leagues and youth soccer. These “soccer singers” are not talking about actual professional stadium attendance (baseball is number one…remember there are many more games than any other professional spot per season), basketball number two, followed by hockey and then football. In TV revenue football is king (fewer games and less accessible for live fan attendance) followed by basketball, hockey, baseball and then soccer. When you figure in history against media income, attendance and the number of people who play it at the community level, baseball remains soundly America’s sport. Soccer has the advantage of only needing a ball to get a sandlot game going, and of the large influx of immigrants from countries where “football” remains number one (meaning soccer).

Then too there is the classic episode of “The Simpsons” revealing why Springfield could not embrace a stadium game where the scoring is low, the moves repetitive and where team play takes priority over the individual player. In the US we seek the excitement of goals, or baskets, or touchdowns. We love games with quarterbacks or pitchers or centers who do more than coach their teams. And we expect frequent beer or junk food commercial breaks. Soccer has very little of these standards.

NPR did point out that in some ways Soccer is ahead of the game in advertising, as the professional sport has long compensated with crawlers, pop up banners and announcer read liners while not interrupting the game.

Will we lose the great masses to a class society simply because journalism requires funds for professional reporting and corporations must make money for their shareholders? Is out Democracy at risk with an uniformed electorate as those with money get better educations, can afford subscriptions to paid Internet and print content, have by nature larger vocabularies and information retention and feel empowered to run the world in their own best interests?

These are questions left unanswered in an extensive BBC radio report on the new age of media and the decline of print journalism in America. Their report was surprisingly pro-business and accepted the new pay for information model. Britain has a strong fixed class system and accepts it as the norm.

4 out of 5 graduates from journalism schools are women, causing a major shift in reporting. First off, pay continues to go down, as it has in every profession where large numbers of women enter the work place. While this effect is equalizing it has the overall effect of lowering incentive to remain in the industry, and the caliber of specialist reporters recruited and maintained.

The Internet is also eroding the income of and overall training of professional journalist, who in theory are taught to report the “truth” as best they can, to seek out new and interesting stories and find the flaws that need to be exposed and repaired in our society. Others argue that the Internet has opened up reporting and media to a greater democracy.

The BBC series of reports finds that both are true. The Internet, for traditional media using it as a new extension, are more likely to look at audience, hits and usage, and thus tailor news to those who seek it out on the internet. This can cause pure journalism to suffer because reporters are expected to attract Internet hits and keep those who seek out the sites to remain on the site.

The Wall Street Journal editor defended its new policy under Rupert Murdock of covering the news other papers cover, expanding beyond business and making strong editorial decisions in line with the Murdock Fox News conservative lean in the America’s. The argument is that newspapers are dying but the Wall Street Journal is growing, in some cases replacing local papers in home delivery coast to coast. People are, they claim, willing to pay for news.

Businesses world wide who do not like what Rupert Murdock has done with News Corp and re-imaging the publications and broadcast he absorbs, including Dow-Jones news service and the Wall Street Journal, are looking elsewhere. British business news publication The Economist has tripped in subscription, with more than 80% of those who purchase the publication outside of Great Britain and the former British Commonwealth.

With weekly and even monthly magazines, and specialty yet formerly very successful publications shrinking in size, content or disappearing entirely, a few are growing. The methods include decreasing the number of issues but increasing paper quality, journalism, and the amount of content per issue.

The Wall Street Journal report looked at the economy, citizenship and why the travel industry is optimistic about this summer, despite the recession (or its aftermath if you are Maria Bartiromo and make the big bucks).

While House Council of Economic Advisors Dr. Christina Christina Romer says that while jobs creations were mostly temporary workers, there is steady GDP growth and Europe is reporting improvement now that an agreement has been made in Greece.  The most helpful thing we can do for Europe and the world is to keep growing and to recover ourselves. Emerging nations are growing in the Pacific Rim area, with established and emerging economies helping to bolster overall economies. The US is expanding in manufacturing, services and in green energy.

Most Americans want to do something about our country today. Everyone has the capacity to become a citizen, to become involved in your community, to work with and help your neighbors, to use your skill sets to help get to the root problems at the community level. Where can you make a difference?  Lowes Hotel CEO Jonathan Tisch has written a book on “Citizen You”, how everyone can become better citizens.

Business can use local vendors; local farmers, local employees rather than importing staff and donate time and money where it is needed, with education being at the forefront of Lowes Hotels.

Tisch was instrumental in bringing the 2014 Superbowl to New Jersey-New York. The Superbowl will be paid in a cold weather destination for the first time in the history of the game. He says that the two states can put the biggest event in the US on the biggest stage in the world.

Travel and Leisure International Editor Mark Orwoll says people are feeling more comfortable and tired of being locked in. Airlines have cut back flights so prices will be high, with it now 24% higher than one year ago. Hotels occupancy is still low, so bargains are available even at four and five star hotels. Drops of between 16 and 50% from a year ago are there for the bargain hunter. The best bet is to check out areas where tourism has declines or there is a slew of hotel overbuilding. He says Honolulu and Las Vegas are the best deals in the US.

The Louisiana to Florida Gulf coast are bargains now, but the beaches are in danger due to oil spills, as are fishing excursions. But there is much to do and see in those states other than lounging on the beach, and in most cases there has been no real noticeable damages yet, just the fear of damage.

Hotels are charging egregiously high deposits for hotels, in-room coffee, mini-bar, phone use and even water. His advice is to check your bill and protest charges as you check out.

Its’ a dead heat in the election for Senate, with a major shift in polls for the Republican Primary. But then remember the famous headline” Dewey Beats Truman” was based on “accurate” polling by a Republican bias newspaper (The Chicago Tribune).

The real news is that undecided Republicans are increasing in number and independents are starting to shift toward Democratic US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The Republican primary is history, with Sharon Angle as the Republican candidate, a far right, Tea Party and some would say radical come from behind victory that made national news. What is interesting is the national media based on Republican paid for polls, still puts Reid way behind and reports the election as if he has already lost his bid for re-election. How will that impact voters as they go to the polls? Could go either way.

Nevada First Lady Dawn Gibbons is supporting Harry Reid for reelection to the US Senate. Dawn Gibbons is a former Republican legislator, and the soon to be ex-wife of Republican Governor Jim Gibbons, a proceeding begun by the Governor. She found out about the divorce by coming home and finding the Governor had changed the locks to the mansion. Dawn Gibbons says that she believed US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a better candidate on the economy and for Nevada. Gibbons worked with Republican candidate Sharon Angle when Angel when they both were in the legislature, and were opponents in the GOP Congressional Primary in 2006.

The First Lady of Nevada says that Angle is a tough campaigner, very good with grass roots, and skilled at finding a way around breaking her word. For example she voted against needed tax increases while she was in the legislature but voted for unfunded deficit spending. Gibbons says Angles races get dirty. “She did not get mean and nasty, but she had people who did.”

Dawn Gibbons says she is very passionate about Reid’s relelection. She says Reid is effective for Nevada and the economy, is responsible for stopping the “dumping” of he nations high level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. On a trip to Washington in 1997 she noticed that “people were being extra nice” because she was from Reid’s home state of Nevada.

The soon to be former First lady declines to take sides in the Governor’s race between Republican Brian Sandoval and Senator Reid’s son Rory Reid.

In South Carolina the Democratic Party is seeking to unseat an unknown who won the primary there, 32-year-old Alvin Greene. The unemployed military vet is also facing Felony charges. If convicted he cannot run or serve. In any event Democrats face an uphill victory to unseat Republican Senator Jim Di Mint this fall.

At least two dead in a Tornado in the Midwest last weeke3d. While no deaths, the storms hit close to my family home, striking Elmwood, Illinois, just west of Chicago and north of River Forest and north west of where I graduated from High School, Oak Park.

Las Vegas’s Zappo’s was featured on CBS Sunday Mornings for its customer service, work experience and attitude toward customers and employees. There are not time limits to calls, no planned scripts, and helping the customer find what they want. The 1400 Las Vegas employees are made to feel that it is a calling not a job. Free meals, pinball, no timed breaks. The story went to the Kentucky distribution warehouse to find that for the hard work of warehousing and shipping, are also offered the same flexibility and environment as the office workers in Las Vegas. Employees are offered buy-outs to leave, just to test their loyalty and in find out why they are not happy if they choose to take the money and run. The pay is the same as equivalent jobs in right to work, non-union environments for the same work, but insurance and other benefits are among the best in the industry.

Former Bear Steams Chairman Alan “Ace” Greenberg, says the market today is impacted by Europe despite the reality that it should not have that much of an impact. He says that the media has too much of an instant news cycle impact on the markets and the economy. The reality and strength is long term.

Greenberg says we have a real problem in this country and what happened her a year and a half ago was terrible. He praises the Obama Administration for helping out, the bailouts and “putting us in the right direction.” Needless to say Wall Street Journal Host Maria Bartiromo, not an Obama supporters, changed the subject rapidly.

The industry needed correcting, with Goldman Sax and Morgan Stanley needing to become regulated banks. Regulation is needed.

Greenberg says that people in any industry with great talent should make a lot of money. Why do people not resent what baseball players, movie stars, network anchors and others make, yet they demand that the best of the best in the business and investing world have their incomes kept in check.

Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley is behind a new coupon, on-line to real world credit based on-line social networking and gaming platform. The system is geared to mobile phones, checking in and allowing you friends to know where you are when you are at participating merchants. Badges and other rewards that can be presented as “awards” to other participants help make it more fun.

The Wall Street Journal, MTV, Starbucks, McDonalds and other corporations are already on board.

The negative is that users are now sharing their location, buying habits and favoritism with others. This has been criticized as potentially dangerous and a major loss of personal liberty (but the CEO counters that the information is voluntary). Users tend to be in their 20s and 30’s, but college and high school use is growing, as are use by parents of young children and business travelers or sales people who are on the street a great deal.

He started and sold a similar service named “Dodgeball” to Google back in 2005.

John Powers Memorial this afternoon at Lied Library

Mike and Nancy Plaisted invite you to a service this afaternoon in memory of of John
     Powers, well known local actor, acting teacher and Humanist who died April 16.  A
            memorial is being held today from 4-6 p.m. at the Lied library 
across from Cashman field.