NEWS - Winter 2006/2007

Suicide Bomber

I put a new MP3 up. It's about a suicide bomber. I think my interest started with a photograph of one in the NYTIMES. That's how it usually starts for me. There was a study of what makes suicide bombers tick (not meant as a tasteless analogy either). Most of them are young, single, well educated, from good families, and many seem to fit the "shy, studious" personality profile. They don't normally "hate freedom" as W likes to say. As a matter of fact most of them love freedom and want it desperately-- they just hate the fact that their friends and families, their way of life and their homeland are being bulldozed down and bombed to bits by various foreign occupying powers. Not many of us would probably take to such treatment either. Muslim clerics, it is said, curse personal suicide but martyrdom for religion and nation is countenanced. Is this not even comparable to the inherent precepts upon which many of our own brave American soldiers may have been called and inspired to serve? This is not to excuse the brutality and human suffering and tragedy that are the results of terrorist suicide bombers. I just want to try and fathom why they do what they do. Suicide bombers are not usually "lone bad actors" -- their key is organization, not the individual. These people don't act alone, like the Unabomber, or Terry McVeigh. Well... if you are interested in a musical take on it, please have a listen - it's called "The Second Suicide Bomber". It's on my MySpace website. But don't tell the Department of Homeland Security. They'd probably call this bad acting too.

Re: the Pace Kerfuffle

Here's an interesting fact that's cropped up during this time of national concern about the US armed forces being strained to their limit, and strapped for recruits and skilled specialists. According to the Associated Press, a 2005 government audit shows that some 10,000 troops, including more than 50 specialists in Arabic, have been discharged because of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy: full article

Orphan Film Symposium

I met Dan Streible years ago in Chapel Hill when he was a d.j. at WXYC. His radio handle was "Danny O'Boy". I'd see him around town and he even invited me to come to a couple of Shape Note Sings on campus. Since then Danny has started and maintained a film festival in South Carolina and he has recently relocated himself, and the festival, to NYC. He is now a prof in the NYU Cinema Studies department and evidently loves his new home. The 6th Orphan Film Symposium will be March 26-29, 2008 (that's 2008!).

What is an "orphan film"? "Narrowly defined, it's a motion picture abandoned by its owner or caretaker. More generally, the term refers to all manner of films outside of the commercial mainstream: public domain materials, home movies, outtakes, unreleased films, industrial and educational movies, independent documentaries, ethnographic films, newsreels, censored material, underground works, experimental pieces, silent-era productions, stock footage, found footage, medical films, kinescopes, small- and unusual-gauge films, amateur productions, surveillance footage, test reels, government films, advertisements, sponsored films, student works, and sundry other ephemeral pieces of celluloid (or paper or glass or tape or . . . )."

None other than Martin Scorcese had said "the Orphan Film Symposium has become and important gathering for people engaged in the preservation, study, and creative use of motion pictures. As president of the Film Foundation, I urge everyone to participate". FMI:
graphic: "Madame Winger Makes a Film" by Helen Hill, 2001

You Can't Take It With You?

Wonderful and timeless scene from the 1938 Frank Capra film YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU, with Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur. They are talking in the moonlight in Central Park and he is telling her about a scheme he and his college buddy had about capturing solar power. Arthur and Stewart are pretty darn adorable. It's a scene that probably has even more relevance today than it had in 1938. Watch it right now on YouTube! -- with thanks to "hankmt"

There's A Monk in the CURTAINS

My OIL CITY alum Debra Monk is set to star, with David Hyde Pierce, in the new Kander and Ebb musical CURTAINS which is previewing now on Broadway. There's a nice profile of her in the NJ Star Ledger.

"It would be nice to be able to stay in town for a year with a long-running show," says Debbie. "Because I don't know what that's like." Most of the two dozen Broadway and off-Broadway attractions the Tony and Obie Award-winning actress has graced over the last quarter-century were limited runs, either because they were part of subscription seasons -- like "The Time of the Cuckoo" at Lincoln Center Theater -- or simply sank, like "Thou Shalt Not," the musical composed by Harry Connick, Jr.

"The two I wrote actually worked better than all the other musicals I've been in," observes Monk, a co-author and original cast member of "Pump Boys and Dinettes" and "Oil City Symphony." Deb got an Emmy for her depiction of Katie Sipowicz on "NYPD Blue" and also portrays T.R. Knight's mom on "Grey's Anatomy". full article.

Johnnie Ray

Johnnie Ray was a huge pop music star in the early '50's, that misunderstood yet fascinating fermenting time in American popular music. Ray was sort of a missing link -- the pop equivalent of Hank Williams and the true precursor of rock and roll, of Elvis and Patsy Cline and Jerry Lee Lewis and folks like that, except he wore a tuxedo. His idiosyncratic hyper-emotional performing style garnered him nicknames like "the Prince of Wails," "Mr. Emotion," and "The Nabob of Sob". There's a website devoted to him: I'm currently reading one of his biographies CRY--THE JOHNNIE RAY STORY by Jonny Whiteside. It's a real show business saga - a combination of the great American dream success story and its essentially lurid and soul-wrenching underpart. It's fascinating but not especially uplifting. Do you ever wonder that you are what you read?

"APRIL IN PARIS" -- Vernon Duke Tributes

Old friend Michael Rice is part of a Vernon Duke tribute called "New York and Paris with Vernon Duke". Hosted by Howard Kissel, long-time drama critic for the New York Daily News, the event takes place on February 26, 2007, 7 p.m. Kissel hails Duke, the creator of “April in Paris” and “Autumn in New York,” as his favorite composer. Duke collaborated with Ira Gershwin on “I Can’t Get Started with You” and wrote the music for the movie "Cabin in the Sky" directed by Vincente Minelli and featuring Ethel Waters. Michael handles the music and Pam Hunt directs. Pam staged the hilarious Musical of Musicals (and also directed productions of RADIO GALS at GeVa Theatre, Rochester, and the Actors Theatre of Louisville. Performers include George Dvorsky, Judy McLane, Jonathan Rayson, Jayne Paterson. Other AMP events this winter include Isabella Rossellini in "Kurt and Lenya in Their Own Words" and Phyllis Newman in "The Brilliance of Bernstein" FMI:

Meanwhile old pal Klea Blackhurst has been doing some Vernon Duke tributes of her own, most recently in San Francisco. She has recorded an album of Duke tunes called AUTUMN IN NEW YORK: VERNON DUKE'S BROADWAY. It is available on Ghostlight Records . “Sumptuously sung and beautifully arranged” - Playbill calls it.

Deejay Peter Fraissinet recently did a tribute to Tommy Thompson on the Salt Creek Show on WVBR-FM in Ithaca. A couple of Tommy's songs were featured as were songs of Keith Whitley, Kate Wolfe, Ira Louvin and Clarence White, among others. The Salt Creek Show has aired on WVBR since 1963. Their web is

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RADIO GALS in Alaska and Texas!

Piper Harding writes that she will be directing and featured in a production of RADIO GALS presented by the Stage of the Tide Theatre Group of Cordova, Alaska. The production, which was originally scheduled to take place in March, has been postponed until October. It will be performed in the Mt. Eccles Auditorium, Cordova. Cordova is located on the banks of Nelson Bay, across from Hawkins Island, in the greater Prince William Sound area of "the New Eldorado".

Also, the Off 380 Players of Bridgeport, Texas just concluded a production of RADIO GALS. Upcoming summer productions include the Rialto Community Players in Rialto, CA, in April and May; and also the St. Croix Valley Summer Theatre, at the University of Wisconsin, Falls River, in July.

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Lily Cameron Golden

Franklin Golden announces the birth of his daughter Lily Cameron on Jan. 18th. Lily appeared at 2:55 AM, all 20 inches of her, weighing in a 7 pounds 4 ounces.

"It was a beautiful morning and Martha and the baby are both doing fine," Franklin reports." If you would like to see more pictures visit"

Congratulations all the way around!

impeachmini.jpg - 10514 BytesThey're throwing that word around again.

Those of us old enough to remember may recall the IMPEACH NIXON samplers back in l973. It seemed like a long shot. But look what happened.

On January 6th, over a thousand people gathered on San Francisco's Ocean Beach (in Nancy Pelosi's congressional district) to express themselves.

FMI: The Beach Impeach Project

Sad news came the other day. Amy Fauquet, sister of Joe Newberry, passed away Jan. 11th after a long illness. Joe and his sister's husband and son and other members of the family were with her at the time. She was pastor of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Springfield, Ohio.

I'm putting a link to this article from the NYTIMES 1/04/07 on my news page because it is the bravest and most provocative article I have read about health care in a long time: hand.jpg - 1377 Bytes"What’s Making Us Sick Is an Epidemic of Diagnoses"

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RADIO GALS in Philly

An "encore" production of RADIO GALS opens Jan. 4th for a three week run in Philly area at the Hedgerow Theatre, a past winner of the Barrymore Award for Excellence (a metropolitan award similar to Chicago's Jefferson Award). The initial Hedgerow production got alot of good press this past summer and even went on the road to New Jersey!

The Hedgerow production is directed by Penelope Reed, featuring Susan Wefel, Marilien Modendorff, Gabrielle Enriquez, Daniel Frost, Maggie Flynn, Helen Clark, Micki Sharpe, and Newton Buchanan. hand.jpg - 1377 Bytesreview on zwire: "A Delightful Revival of RADIO GALS"

A Humane Oil City?

ocslogo.jpg - 12431 BytesThe Humane Society of North Iowa is staging a charity performance of OIL CITY SYMPHONY, in Mason City, January 12th. "Oil City" is being described as a "fun, family" musical. And why not? It's being done with a 70's motif, and the on-line news article at states that "the period costumes and make-up add to the fun". It sounds like mirror ball all the way. I'm all for it. I saw SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER three times in 1977.

The Humane Society of North Iowa began in the early 60's as the Pet Adoption Center (PAL) at the farm of Bill and Alice Blackmore, in Cerro Gordo County. The organization has had its share of challenges and woes over the years, including bureaucractic vagaries, bankruptcy, a ringworm outbreak, and the death of its major benefactor. However, the organization has survived it all, through a combination of pluck and dedication, and is still on its feet, celebrating its 20th anniversay this year. Sounds like a worthy cause to me and I hope they have a great and profitable time on the 12th.

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As I've already mentioned in these pages, this past summer I arranged the music for a new show called SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN HOMECOMING. It's the second sequel (the first is called A SANDERS FAMILY CHRISTMAS) to SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN, the l990 Off-Broadway hit musical about the Sanders Family, a gospel group from Siler City, NC. The SMOKE shows, which follow the Sanders Family from 1939 through the post WWII era, are conceived by Alan Bailey and written by Connie Ray. The world premiere of SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN HOMECOMING took place this past fall at Piedmont Players, in Salisbury, NC, which is just across the river from me.

I was musical director for the Salisbury production and will be m.d.-ing another production at the Cincinnati Playhouse, which opens May 10, 2007. At least two more productions of SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN HOMECOMING will occur in 2007, one at Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville, Tennessee in February, one at the Theatre in the Square in Marietta, Georgia in April, and productions at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre and the Flat Rock Playhouse in May.

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