Monday, August 15, 2016







          "What good is sitting alone in your room?

          Come hear the music play.

          Life is a cabaret, Old Chum.

          Come to the Cabaret!"


          Those words come from the stage play and movie "Cabaret," its music and lyrics written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, who also wrote hit songs for such shows as "Chicago" and "New YorkNew York".   Some of their songs were turned into a revue, "The World Goes Round".  At the Rinker Playhouse in the KRAVIS CENTER complex, this thoroughly enjoyable show, worthy of a very long run, can be seen locally only through August 21.


          It's produced by Marcie Gorman Althof and Michael Lifshitz's MNM Productions.  Previously they presented winners with "A Chorus Line," "Side by Side by Sondheim" and "Hair".  As good as those shows were, with every outing, the team seems to be getting better and better.


          In "The World Goes Round" each one of 28 songs is given its own mini-skit.  All are imaginative, mostly funny with perhaps a touch of poignancy, and delightful.  The cast excels.  Jinon Deeb, Leah Sessa, Shelley Keelor, Michael Scott Ross and Clay Cartland can act, sing, speak in dialects, dance, and roller skate.  They're also good looking!  (That includes young skater Olivia Rose Chiampou.)


          Director Bruce Linser keeps everything moving.  Kimberly Dawn Smith's choreography is often sweet and sometimes challenging for the performers.  One finds one's self asking, "What?  They can do that, too?"   Kudos go to Musical Director Paul Reekie and the four other musicians in his fine band.  Production Stage Manager   Mikel Gambuto has chairs and tables placed in front of the stage to make the set look like a cabaret.  The entire crew deserves applause.


          This is a fun show with high energy and many highlights.  "All That Jazz," "Ring Them Bells," and the solid belting of "Maybe This Time" certainly caught my fancy.  Fred Ebb wrote the lyrics, but the entertainment never ebbs.  Everyone involved in the production fully deserved the standing ovation that came at show's end.  Try to see this one!


Sunday, July 3, 2016



          Clive Cholerton for President?  Why not?  At PALM BEACH DRAMAWORKS he's taken a musical play, "1776," which in two previous productions I'd seen, seemed artificially sweet, saccharine, and rather static.  Mr. Cholerton turned the work into a masterpiece.  If he can do that in West Palm Beach, maybe he could do it in dysfunctional Washington, D. C. (?)

          "1776," a multiple Tony Award winner when originally produced in 1969, is the story of America's Founding Fathers who, after considerable cantankerous and lengthy debates in and out of the Anteroom of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, in July of 1776 finally signed the Declaration of Independence, the document which, citing Britain's abuses, informed the world that the United States of America was freeing itself from the British Empire.  This was historic.  Never before in world history had such an event occurred.  (By sheer coincidence, in late June of this year the British, for similar reasons, voted to separate themselves from the European Union.  Leading up to the Brexit, as it was termed, were debates as contentious as those in 1776 America and the ones darkening our 2016 Presidential election).

          Several factors contributed to making this production different from its predecessors:  It occurred to both Director Cholerton and PBD's Producing Artistic Director William Hayes that this year's tumultuous election echoed what had happened at our country's creation.  Some issues were closely related.  In 1776 the main issue was slavery.  In 2016 "Black Lives Matter".  Also, the original production called for 28 players.  The PBD stage isn't large enough to accommodate such a number nor could Dramaworks afford to hire so many.  Thus Mr. Cholerton was left to "re-imagine" the play script.  Now there are 13 actors, some of whom portray multiple characters, both "liberal" and "conservative," and a small onstage band.  I'll quickly add that everyone in this cast is outstanding.  At play's end, the entire audience rises as one to cheer and applaud.

          At the play's beginning, onstage screen projections (excellently chosen by Sean Lawson) of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton highlight the rancor of today's campaigning and immediately connect with the squabbles of 1776.  Then enter the Founding Fathers: John Adams; Thomas Jefferson; Benjamin Franklin, among them.  This is basically an ensemble play except for John Adams, whose inner thoughts and interactions with his wife Abigail permeate the proceedings.  As Adams, Gary Cadwallader exudes star and leadership qualities.  His acting leaves no doubt that someday Adams will become President, and his singing voice excels.  Abigail is portrayed by Laura Hodos, who also is John Hancock!  That she is outstanding in both roles is testimony to the complexity and the excellence of this production.  Nicholas Richberg is both John Dickinson and Richard Henry Lee.  As Lee, his energetic solo dance early in Act One (Choreography by Michelle Petrucci) is a highlight.

          If Act One be light in spirit, introducing the characters, their distinct personalities, foibles and issues, Act Two is more serious.  Not everyone wants to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Some are still loyal to Britain.  Some are slaveholders.  To them "Molasses to Rum to Slaves," as sung by Edward Rutledge, (Shane R. Tanner,) slavery is a legitimate part of business.  John Adams is at last asked to write the Declaration, but he defers to Thomas Jefferson (Clay Cartland), who rather reluctantly accepts the responsibility.  (Reluctantly because he owns slaves?)  Most of Act Two is a solemn debate as to what will go into the Declaration, which has to be signed unanimously if it is to be passed.  Despite the fact the ending is known, the last several minutes of the play are suspenseful.  Who will hold out, and why?  And for how long?

          Two things need to be said:  The American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution which later followed are cornerstones of the United States and what it means to be an American.  Every schoolchild and every adult should know these living documents of a free people.  Secondly, I do wish I could name all participants in this production.  All deserve recognition.

          The play has its weaknesses.  Sherman Edwards' music and lyrics are so integrated into the show that audiences will hardly be able to hum or sing any of the songs.  Playwright Peter Stone's book is strong, but several of our Founding Fathers were true geniuses.  Their gathering in one place at the same time  borders on the miraculous.  The play script deals more with their eccentricities than it does their brilliance.

          Jefferson was an accomplished architect and an Ambassador to France.  He later helped to persuade the French to join the American cause.   As third President of the United States, he purchased from France "Louisiana," now the mid-section of our country.  His sponsorship of the Lewis and Clark expedition brought America to the Pacific Ocean.  Benjamin Franklin, very well portrayed here by Allan Baker as something of a roue, was an earlier Ambassador to France.  Writer, printer, newspaper publisher, businessman, he gave America its postal system.  He invented bifocal glasses and a fuel-efficient stove which is named after him and which he did not patent, since the stove was created for the benefit of the people.  He helped found a hospital and    a philosophical society, both still in existence in Philadelphia.  He experimented with electricity in a scientific quest unique for its time.  Again, I have neither the space nor the inclination to describe everyone's quite amazing achievements.

          The end of the play brings out American audiences' patriotism.  Where 1776 and 2016 sharply differ is that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton are in the same league as the Founders.  The production is so

good you might indeed find yourself asking, "Why not Clive Cholerton for President?"  Anyway, his insights and the talents of all concerned are definitely worth viewing.

Friday, April 29, 2016



         The Bridges of Madison County, the Broadway Musical, based on the novel by Robert James Waller, plays at THE KRAVIS CENTER in downtown West Palm Beach through May 1.
    “The setting is four days in 1965 and the following years.”  During these four days, a young National Geographic Magazine photographer, like the traveling salesman of yesteryear, comes to Winterset, Iowa.  His assignment is  to photograph the region’s bridges.  But in addition he sets his eyes on a hometown beauty.  The two fall in love, make love, and then he goes away.  Yet this isn’t just a fling:  As time passes, they pine for each other.
    The problem is the beauty is married.  She has a faithful, loving husband, two children, a boy and a girl, and a caring mother.  She’s reluctant to give them up.
    If this sounds racy, it isn’t.  There’s much tenderness, but the scenes are cinematic short, seldom long enough to capture deep emotion.  (A film version, without music, starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, was released in 1995.)  It has song and dance, (music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown and book by Marsha Norman,) and the music is different, sort of symphonic folk, if that makes sense..  The choreography is minimal.  It has moments of humor but is rarely really funny.  It also has a lovely lighting design by Donald Holder.  Lights change with the time of day, the seasons of the years, the emotions of the people.
    A flaw of the musical is too many people appear and disappear.  Instead of a conventional love triangle, the multiple characters tend to confuse, especially as time goes forward while years pass but also go backward as memories unfold.  The children lend some depth to the story, yet this is basically a tale of two people’s indecisions, and that as well as anything, sums up my feelings towards “The Bridges of Madison County, the Musical”.
    The cast is unfamiliar, but all are good.  Several voices are, indeed, of highest caliber.  Withal, I kept hoping for something more to happen:  A love story is a love story except when it isn’t.
Closing date is May 1. For tickets and additional information,
telephone 832-7469.  Online:

Friday, March 4, 2016

March 4, 2016 

Dave Israel
Vice President
Ed Black
Joy Vestal

Howard O'Brien
Corresponding Secretary
Roberta 'Bobby' Levin
Recording Secretary
John Hess
Executive Board
George Franklin
Carlos Nunez  
Stewart Richland 
Jean Komis 
 Dom Guarnagia 
 Jack Adams 
 Lori Torres  
 Christine Armour    
 Ken Davis 
 Jerry Karpf