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Poppin’ at PIPPIN: Patina Miller Gets Engaged on Opening Night!

26 Apr

Yes, there was poppin’ at the PIPPIN party and Patina answered in the positive to the proposal!  And that’s a lot of plosives for one paragraph!

Patina Miller Gets Engaged!

Patina Miller Gets Engaged!

Patina Basking In the Glow of the Moment

Patina Basking In the Glow of the Moment

Patina Takes It In

Last night, as if the Opening Night of the Broadway revival of PIPPIN wasn’t exciting enough, “Leading Player” Patina Miller found that there was magic to do in the corner of SLATE Restaurant when in no time at all this extraordinary kind of woman spread a little sunshine among partygoers who witnessed the glory of boyfriend David Mars popping the question.  The simple joy of this love song captivated the hearts of everyone in attendance.

David Mars Pops the Question to Patina Miller

CLICK THE PICTURE BELOW FOR A LITTLE VIDEO MONTAGE OF THE JOY!

Patina and David 2

VIDEO: Click the pic above for a little video montage of the joy.

PIPPIN co-star Matthew James Thomas congratulates the happy couple.

PIPPIN co-star Matthew James Thomas congratulates the happy couple.

Matthew shares a hug with his co-star.Matthew shares a hug with his co-star.

PIPPIN stars Patina MIller & Matthew James Thomas

PIPPIN stars Patina MIller & Matthew James Thomas

Patina Miller, I was honored to be in the room with you for this special occasion!

VIDEO: Ken interviews Patina Miller earlier in the evening.

VIDEO: Ken interviews Patina Miller earlier in the evening.

I’ll bet Patina and David had morning glow when the sun came up today and am certain they’re on the right track to a lifetime of happiness.  Congratulations on the PIPPIN Poppin’!!

Patina and David take it all in.

Patina and David take it all in.

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

p.s.  Extra points if you noticed that this entire post is comprised of every song title from PIPPIN…what is a science to some is just an ordinary life for me.  :)

At the PIPPIN Party

At the PIPPIN Party

 

 

Happy 92nd Birthday, Carol Channing!

31 Jan

Image

Happy 92nd Birthday, Carol Channing!

It’s no secret that I am a  great admirer of the legendary Carol Channing.  I’ve been blessed and lucky enough to have had the fortune to interview Carol Channing on numerous occasions (generally connected to my annual “That’s Kentertainment!: A Christmas Carol” specials or when I’m helping to promote the “Dr. Carol Channing & Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts” started by both Carol and her sorely-missed late husband Harry).

Carol Harry

Harry and Carol: Childhood Sweethearts

Here is an excerpt from the “3rd Annual Christmas Carol”.  This interview was filmed November 27, 2004, the day after Thanksgiving.  My great friend Jason Olsen and I got up extra-early (like 4am-early) and extra-stuffed (from Thanksgiving dinner) to schlep via train to Holyoke, Massachusetts to interview Carol, who was in the area performing her show, “The First 80 Years Are The Hardest” (or at least that’s what she liked to call it!).  After some crazy mishaps (including getting on the wrong train yet somehow making a connection to the right train…don’t ask…) Jason and I arrived at the quaint “Log Cabin Inn” for the interview.  Carol and Harry were the most wonderful, generous couple imaginable and still beaming with the sparks of rekindled-love (these childhood sweethearts had reunited after 70 years and married May 10, 2003).

CarolHarryCD

Carol and Harry: July 23, 2010. Photo by Ken Kleiber

At the start of a previous one-on-one interview, Carol had clued-me-in to the fact that aiming a camera from sightly-above the subject would create a more flattering image.  When I arrived and set the camera to film from this-flattering, thinning high angle, Carol remarked, “Oh Ken…you remember how I like the camera!”.  True, but in all honesty, I was also doing this to mask my bloatage…you might notice that this angle is practically from the  ceiling.  Poor Jason on camera.

In any case, this day has gone down in my memory banks as not only one of the most-fulfilling achievements of my interviewing career, but also as one of the happiest.  For long stretches of time, I literally forgot that we were on camera and we just chatted away (which doesn’t always make me look so great on camera, but then again, the focus wasn’t on me).  At the end of the interview, Harry had remarked that Carol had told me things that even he hadn’t know about her, so it was a learning experience for him as well.  After the nearly-hour interview (the time raced on and none of us had been aware), Jason and I said our “Thank You’s” and packed-up our equipment, still sort of amazed that the previous hour had happened.  And I’m so glad that my friend was there to share this with me which made it all the more magical.

JasonOKenfx

Ken and Jason, circa 2004.

So here’s an excerpt where Carol discusses when she performed “Hello, Dolly!” for the last time with legendary producer David Merrick present and also, after reuniting with Harry, how her own life had mirrored that of Dolly Levi.  Make sure you watch to the end for an adorable clip of Harry and Carol dancing plus a stunning clip of Carol performing her “Before The Parade Passes By” monologue in 2004.  And she sums it up best in the very last line of the clip…and I take it as a blessing.

CarolKenXmas002_1

Click here for video of “Carol Channing Reminisces”

Nick Jonas: HOW TO SUCCEED on Broadway!

7 May Nick Jonas and Ken backstage.

Nick Jonas and Ken backstage.

Recently I was lucky enough to revisit “How to Succeed in Business (Without Really Trying)” (see my Daniel Radcliffe & Cast post here).  This time, the part of “J. Pierrepont Finch” has been taken over by the terrifically-talented Nick Jonas of “Jonas Brothers” fame.

Nick as “J. Pierrepont Finch”

Nick is no stranger to Broadway, having first performed in A CHRISTMAS CAROL when he was 8-years old (following-up with performances in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, BEAUTY & THE BEAST and LES MIZ),  made his West End debut in 2010 performing the role of “Marius” in LES MIZ and in 2011 played “Link Larkin” in a Hollywood Bowl production of HAIRSPRAY.

Nick Jonas & Chris Sieber in “Beauty & the Beast”

Here are some video highlights of my interview with the youngest (19) of the wildly successful “Jonas Bros.” where Nick discusses topics ranging from his early training, advice and the age-appropriateness of his character, what it’s like to replace Daniel Radcliffe and his passion for singing and what’s next for the Jonas Brothers!  I even got Nick’s goose a bit when I suggested that the “Finch” character was a bit of a likable creep (I know, I know…Finch isn’t that bad except for the half-truth and deception stuff…but that’s why we love him!).  Nick was a pro and charming as we all hoped he’d be, and after seeing his performance, he proved to sing the part better than any “Finch”  I had previously seen (including myself ).

 

For theatrical clips aplenty, visit MTIShowspace.  For more information about HOW TO SUCCEED and theatrical licensing, visit Music Theatre International.  For more information or tickets to the Broadway production of HOW TO SUCCEED click here.

Nick Jonas: How To Succeed on Broadway

That’s Kentertainment!‘s Twitter and Facebook.

Is Carol Channing alive? YEEESSSSHHHH!

25 Aug Carol's still kickin'!

Carol and Ken: The Magic Castle 2009

OK, that’s a lousy post title, especially since many-a-Carol Channing impersonator over-exaggerates that aspect of Carol’s wonderfully unique voice and speech pattern (except Richard Skipper, who is not so much an “impersonator” but wholly (and respectfully) embodies the true Carol Channing experience).  But, back to the cliche but eye-catching title.  Earlier today the Associated Press, for some reason, put out the very erroneous story that Carol Channing had passed away.  Concerned, I called a few contacts and was overjoyed to find that the reports of Carol Channing’s death had been greatly exaggerated (thank you Mark Twain.  By the way, did you know Mark Twain was kind of a stud?).

Carol's still kickin'!

Carol & Ken share a holiday laugh.

In any case, among the folks I spoke with today was my pal Larry Ferguson who is in the finishing stages of production of Carol Channing’s new patriotic CD, “True to the Red, White & Blue” (isn’t that a great title! I love it.).  Carol’s new CD (tentatively due in stores around Veteran’s Day 2011) features some old American chestnuts like “Over There”, “God Bless America” & “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, a couple sacred songs like, “Amazing Grace”, “His Eye is on the Sparrow” (a personal favorite) and even “St. Louis Blues” (for which Carol has quite the accompanying story as to why she includes this track).  Also featured is a new version of Carol’s signature tune from HELLO, DOLLY!: “Before the Parade Passes By”.  Carol has sung this song so many times over the years and it will be great to hear a new take on this classic.  Below, you can even hear a live version from one of my annual “Christmas Carol” episodes of “That’s Kentertainment!” (you just have to get through the surreal pseudo-Peanuts Christmas-Ken-Id-Ego opening bit…another personal favorite).  :)

Speaking of surreal, here’s a quick clip of Carol Channing “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” – an except of a longer opening number from my “8th Annual Christmas Carol” from 2009.  I adore Carol and her terrific sense of humor.

Click here to see Carol "Gettin' Jiggy With It"!

So there ya have it.  Carol Channing is alive & well and ready to roll out her new CD.  At 90 years of age, this is not only impressive but also makes one ponder:  “What did I do today?”  Well, besides write this post.  :)

p.s.  Richard Skipper started a petition to get Carol Channing a well-deserved Kennedy Center Honor.  Carol Channing is an American original.  As someone once said, “If Carol Channing didn’t exist, you couldn’t make her up.”  Her legendary stage, screen and television performances plus her tireless crusade & numerous benefit appearances to bring Arts Education back to schools are inspiring to all.  Click here to sign the petition.

Carol & Ken film the 2010 That's Kentertainment! "Christmas Carol"

I Am Strong

6 Jun Dolly & The Grascals. Photographer: John Russell / CMA

MUSIC COMMUNITY GATHERS TO SUPPORT THE GRASCALS & DOLLY PARTON IN RAISING AWARENESS FOR CHILDHOOD CANCER

Lots of updates and changes are taking place behind the scenes of my website which is why I started doing this blog – to update what I can’t update while my wonky webpage is being worked out.  Wow!  I loves me my run-on sentences!  Several months ago, I added a video clip to my “That’s Kentertainment!” website entitled, “I Am Strong” featuring the bluegrass group The Grascals and the guest talents of Dolly Parton.  I first became aware of the immensely-talented Grascals when they were members of Dolly’s band on previous tours, and then opened up for Dolly in various cities, like here in NYC at Radio City Music Hall.

Dolly & The Grascals. Photographer: John Russell / CMA

Here’s a bit of the background behind the song:

“I AM STRONG,” was written by Grascals’ band member Jamie Johnson and his wife Susanne Mumpower-Johnson along with Jenee Fleenor after The Grascals visited the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® in Memphis and were inspired by the stories and power of the children being treated there. “I Am Strong” is powerful in its message and artistic vision and brings together vocals from all of the artists who also appear separately with The Grascals on other tracks on this CD.

You wonder where I get it from? Dad's Bday June 4, 2010

This track truly resonates with me as my Dad, Otto “Dutch” Kleiber, passed away from pancreatic cancer about a month before this song was released.  Though it was, and is, a terrible blow to my family and myself (and all those who loved my Dad) he was at least able to live a rather full life.  We can only pray that many of the children at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital get that chance as well, and buying this CD and/or making a donation separately can help these kids live the kind of lives which many seem to take for granted.  My Dad’s birthday would have been June 4th (HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!) so in honor of him (and my Mom, whose birthday is today- June 6th…HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!) and all those affected by cancer (patients and families alike) I am reposting this clip and hoping you’ll donate in any way possible.  Remember, every little bit adds up!

From the press notes:  Two versions of “I AM STRONG” have been recorded. Version 1 (above) includes award-winning, Grammy-nominated group, The Grascals, with special guest Dolly Parton.  Version 2 includes The Grascals, Dolly Parton, Randy Owen, Joe Nichols, Darryl Worley, Terri Clark, Charlie Daniels, Tom T. Hall, The Oak Ridge Boys and Steven Seagal.  The music video was directed by cancer survivor David Corlew of d. corlew films.

In honor of the children and this song, Cracker Barrel is donating a percentage of the proceeds from this CD to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  The album, The Grascals & Friends – Country Classics With A Bluegrass Spin, has 13 country music songs on it that you have probably heard before, but most likely not like this.  The Grascals bring their own bluegrass style to the tunes and bring the different tracks to life with eight of their friends, including Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Charlie Daniels and Dolly Parton.  The Grascals & Friends – Country Classics With A Bluegrass Spin is available exclusively at all Cracker Barrel locations.

Link to St. Jude Children's Hospital

Link to info on The Grascals

Link to Cracker Barrel Stores

The Uproarious and Exquisitely Divine Sister

3 Apr

Friday evening I saw the legendary and ambrosial Charles Busch in the uproarious Off-Broadway confection, “The Divine Sister“, also written by Mr. Busch.  This was my second visit to St. Veronica’s, the convent in which Mother Superior (Busch) and Sister Acacius (played by the always-inspiring and hysterical Julie Halston) reside. Possibly the best-written and performed play currently Off-Broadway (and Broadway, come to think of it), “The Divine Sister”  will make you laugh until all demons within are spewn-out onto the streets of New York City, or more specifically 15 Vandam Street where the show is playing until May 1 at the Soho Playhouse).  The other cast members are celestial as well:  Amy Rutberg who is giddily-glorious as Agnes (the young postulant who has healing powers and sees visions),  Jonathan Walker (who does a surprisingly accurate impersonation of fellow castmember Julie Halston…you just gotta see it to know what I’m talkin’ about)  in the dual-roles of  Jeremy & Brother Venerius, Jennifer Van Dyck (who I have adored since her stint on “The Days & Nights of Molly Dodd” and who is transcendent  in dual-roles as Mrs. Levinson & Timothy), and the immaculately marvelous Alison Fraser as both Sister Walburga (wait til you hear that dialect!) and Mrs. Macduffie (come to think of it, wait til you hear THAT dialect too…Ms. Fraser’s performance is truly heavenly.)  How about that for a run-on sentence!

The Divine "The Divine Sister" Cast

Here is how “The Divine Sister” is described in the press release: 

The Divine Sister is an outrageous comic homage to nearly every Hollywood film involving nuns. Evoking such films as ‘The Song of Bernadette,’ ‘The Bells of St. Mary’s,’ ‘The Singing Nun’ and ‘Agnes of God,’ The Divine Sister tells the story of St. Veronica’s indomitable Mother Superior (author Charles Busch) who is determined to build a new school for her Pittsburgh convent. Along the way, she has to deal with a young postulant who is experiencing ‘visions,’ sexual hysteria among her nuns, a sensitive schoolboy in need of mentoring, a mysterious nun visiting from the Mother House in Berlin, and a former suitor intent on luring her away from her vows.” It’s a “madcap trip through Hollywood religiosity” that “evokes the wildly comic but affectionately observed theatrical style of the creator of Die, Mommie, Die! and Psycho Beach Party.”

 

The Sisters take you on a ride too!

Nectarous Charles Busch as "Mother Superior"

 

Charles Busch is equally masterful in his humorous yet moving post-show Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS speech, which as you know, makes one want to contribute even more to this worthy cause (as well as the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic which the donations also support). 

 

The (holy) spirit of the show SO moved me that immediately afterwards I found myself in the Gramercy Park area at a church auditorium school dance (FOR REAL!  Don’t ask.). 

Neither a student nor a chaperone...

 I’m not quite as hep as I used to be when it comes to the latest dance crazes, but I did manage to teach the kids a mean “Bottle Dance” from “Fiddler on the Roof“. 

However, when it was discovered that I BYOB’d with a different kind of Busch for the aforementioned dance number, I quickly hightailed it out of there and skipped back to the streets of NYC where I feel most comfortable (or at least I keep telling myself that as I am 4 months behind on my rent and anticipate a happy future with all the urchins of the street who I know will welcome me with open arms and possibly even open cans of half-eaten tuna.  How’s THAT for another run-on sentence!)  But, lest I digress, “The Divine Sister” is truly one to check out and I URGE you to see it before it closes or you find yourself homeless, whichever comes first.

"That's Kentertainment!" interviews Charles Busch.

Daniel Radcliffe “Succeeds” on Broadway (Video Highlights)

30 Mar

OK, not the most original title but it gets the job done…as does Daniel Radcliffe, who makes a smashing musical comedy debut in the 50th Anniversary production of  “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying“, Frank Loesser’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece from 1961.

Daniel Radcliffe knows how to succeed.

Below I’ll post some clips (just click on the pix) from the March 27, 2011 opening night where I conducted interviews for the licensing house for “How to Succeed”, Music Theatre International.  Interestingly enough, MTI (the largest music theatre licensing company in the world) was founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser (and orchestrator Don Walker) and is now run by Chairman Freddie Gershon and President Drew Cohen.  Keep checking back as I’ll keep adding more clips and highlights to the mix:  H2S PLAYLIST.  (For more info, video clips, theatrical resources & more, visit MTI Showspace.)

Video: Daniel Radcliffe Interview Clip 1

Grand Old Ivy Jump

Video: Faber has a “long day” with Rose & Daniel

Daniel Radcliffe (a.k.a The Most Happy Fella in NYC) meets Liza Minnelli

28 Mar DanielLiza 1

Earlier this evening, I covered the opening night of the latest Broadway revival of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS (WITHOUT REALLY TRYING), the classic Pulitzer-Prize winning musical written by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.   I was fortunate enough to interview members of the cast including the uber-charming Daniel Radcliffe (of HARRY POTTER fame),  John Larroquette (of NIGHT COURT fame), Christopher J. Hanke (as Bud Frump), Rose Hemingway (as Rosemary Pilkington) and the luminious-yet-hysterically funny Tammy Blanchard (as Hedy LaRue).  Seriously, all Tammy Blanchard has to do is step on stage, make a knowing grin or even open an envelope and she is a bona-fide scene stealer every stolen step of the way.  It’s a THRILL to see someone as confident and game as Ms. Blanchard but also equally thrilling to see Daniel Radcliffe having the time of his life on stage.  These two performers reinforced my hopes and dreams for a better Broadway-experience through sheer talent and life-force (and a great book and score don’t hurt none neither!). 

Daniel Radcliffe: Seriously happy.

BUT- this isn’t a review of the show.  I just babbled a bit to express my thanks (to the Theatre Gods or whomever may be responsible) for some fine talents hittin’ the boards.  What I meant to do is post a few pix of the moment Daniel Radcliffe met Liza Minnelli.  If he wasn’t already fully-charged after soaring in his opening night performance, the addition of Liza to the after-party proceedings seemed to make Daniel Radcliffe the happiest boy in New York City.  Actually, the happiest man, since he’s already 21.  Oh heck- let’s just go there and say that Daniel Radcliffe is the most happy fella in NYC (if you don’t get that Frank Loesser reference, you need to do some homework!).

Thank you to Jason Cochran for being cameraguy-extraordinaire for the evening and capturing these most-happy-moments on film.

UPDATE:  Jason Cochran wrote a terrific post offering his perspective from behind the camera for the evening,  You can read it here. 

Also, click here for interviews and video highlights from the opening night.

 

 

Ken&Jason: HOW TO SUCCEED Opening Night

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