Superb Dance Puts Marriott Theatre’s Sweet Charity in the Spotlight

Sweet Charity is a quirky musical comedy set in 1960s New York City with score by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, and book by Neil Simon.

The story follows the exploits of dance hall hostess Charity Hope Valentine as she seeks to get out of the dance hall and find true love. Her desire to find love has led to her being taken advantage of by many men, but ever the optimist Charity never gives up.

Charity describes her work at a Times Square ballroom dancing with men for money a temporary position…a temporary position she’s been in for eight years.

As the title character, Broadway veteran Anne Horak shines like a newly minted silver dollar. Her voice is glorious, her dancing is a delight, and her characterization is perfect.

Joining Horak in the spotlight, Alex Goodrich threatens to steal the show with his scenery chewing neuroses as Charity’s love interest Oscar Lindquist.

Terry Hamilton as Herman, the boss man of the dance hall Charity works for, provides one of the best numbers of the show with I Love to Cry at Weddings.  The other great standout number is Big Spender by the dance hall girls. There are no bad numbers in the show.

Also stand outs in a field of fine performances are Adam Jacobs as movie star Vittorio Vidal and Kenny Ingram as hippy cult leader Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck.

From the ensemble to the leading players, there truly is no weak link in the bunch.

The original 1966 Broadway production was directed and choreographed by legend Bob Fosse. For the Marriott Theatre production director and choreographer Alex Sanchez stays true to the Fosse-style choreography. The dance numbers are truly captivating, and this should be a fine feather in Sanchez’s hat.

Music director Ryan T. Nelson has crafted the orchestra into a fine-tuned machine. The groovy 60s orchestrations by Geoffrey Ko are fun and playful.

Sweet Charity runs through October 28 at the Marriott Theatre located at 10 Marriott Drive in Lincolnshire. Performances are Wednesdays at 1:00 PM and 7:30 PM, Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays at 8:00 PM, Saturdays at 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM. There are also select Thursday 1:00 PM shows.

Tickets range from $50-$60, including tax and handling fees. Student, senior, and military discounts are available. A limited number of dinner theatre packages are available on Wednesday and Thursday evenings through the Marriott Theatre Box Office.

For reservations call (847) 6340=-0200 or got to www.ticketmaster.com. For more details visit www.MarriottTheatre.com.

 

Advertisements

Joker is Back on the Scene – and I Couldn’t be Happier!

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, a truly great band named JOKER dominated the Chicago music scene. Their self-titled album on Red Light Records was a smash full of hooks. Even better was their next album Cool Deal. However, because of issues between Red Light Records and distributer Zoo Entertainment/BMG it was only released in Japan.

Because of music industry connections, I had a copy of Cool Deal and it is just as good if not better than any album by POISON, JOURNEY, or WARRANT.  But without the mainstream release of Cool Deal, Joker fell by the wayside and they disbanded.

Fast forward 20 years. I just found out that Joker has reformed with all the original members. The band features charismatic front man Tony Ingala, dynamic guitarists Joey Miroballi and Nick Sikich, brilliantly talented bass player Brian Smolar, and heavy hitting drummer Mike Stone.

And, through their new label Pavement Entertainment, Joker’s Cool Deal album is finally getting the U.S. release it has long deserved.

You can order the album and find out about upcoming shows through the band’s new website www.JokerChicago.com. You can also follow the band on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/JokerBandChicago/.

Joker is a band that could have been just as big as Poison, Warrant, or Motley Crue. Their songs are laden with hooks. Many songs feature four or five-part harmonies. They had the talent and the looks to hit the big time. Politics just got in the way.

It’s good to see the guys back together. I can’t wait to catch a live show. I’m sure they will be just as powerful and engaging as they were 20 years ago.

Do yourself a favor. If you can catch a show – go for it. You won’t be disappointed. And, pick up the album Cool Deal while you’re at it. It’s good stuff.

Peace. Love. Trust.

Trump Can’t Stand the Truth

Donald Trump recently stated publicly that he thinks Google and other search engines should be government regulated because when he searches for stories on himself, the majority of results voice negative opinions of him.

Well, here’s the thing. The majority of Americans think Trump is an incompetent buffoon who has proven himself to be a sexist, racist, and elitist.

Remember, Trump lost the election by over 3 million votes and only was awarded the presidency by an antiquated electoral college that does not reflect the opinions of the majority of voters. He has the lowest approval ratings of any U.S. President since such polls began.

Further, the majority of news coverage of Trump is negative because of Trump’s own words and actions. He lies. He cheats. He steals. And, he makes some of the most idiotic statements ever uttered by a high-ranking public official. The legitimate news reports this. Only Fox News and tabloid The National Inquirer ignore the truth and broadcast or publish Trumps self-aggrandizing propaganda.

I’ve put my name in search engines before too. Guess what? Not everything reported about me is positive. That doesn’t mean that the search engines are faulty. It means not everyone has a positive opinion about me. If Trump can’t handle that kind of reality, he shouldn’t do searches on himself.

Trump is a dangerous man who was put in office through the efforts of Vladimir Putin. Every major intelligence service including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and Department of Homeland Security have all concluded that Russia hacked the election to put Trump in office.

A January 2017 assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) stated that Russian leadership favored presidential candidate Trump over Clinton, and that Russian president Vladimir Putin personally ordered an “influence campaign” to harm Clinton’s chances and “undermine public faith in the US democratic process”

In fact, only the GOP, Fox News, and the National Inquirer still stand by Trump, which is sad. He should be impeached for treason. If only Republicans could get past party politics and pursue the truth.

In 1974 Nixon was impeached because of his crimes against the county. This is because of the brave Republicans who sought the truth over party politics. Nixon, of course, resigned before he could be removed from office. He was pardoned by Gerald Ford when he took office.

If only the Republicans currently in office had the same bravery to pursue the truth over party politics Trump would be in prison by now.

As it is, special counsel Robert Mueller has either indicted or gotten guilty pleas from over 30 people so far. This list includes Paul Manafort (Trump campaign manager), Rick Gates (Manafort’s business partner), George Papadopoulos (Trump campaign advisor), Michael Flynn (Trump National Security Advisor), 13 Russian Nationals and three Russian companies, Alex van der Zwann (lawyer tied to Manafort and Gates), 12 Russian intelligence officers, and Michael Cohen (Trump’s personal lawyer). Also under investigation are Trump himself, sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner among others.

Trump, obviously guilty, calls the Mueller investigation a witch hunt by Democrats. Mueller is a Republican and was appointed by a Republican president. Only in Trump’s diminutive mind could Mueller be considered a Democratic witch hunter. And, this so called “witch hunt” sure has turned up a lot of guilty witches so far.

Of course, Trump does live in his own fantasy world. He recently tweeted that he has a 90% approval rating. The poll Trump is basing his 90% approval rating on is an Associated Press poll that shows him with a 38% approval rating. Only Trump, a self-proclaimed genius, could misinterpret a dismal 38% approval rating as actually being a 90% approval rating.

What a sad, sad bloated orange shell of a man. I look forward to the day he goes to jail for treason or flees to Russia to be with his comrade Putin.

In the meantime, if Trump doesn’t want to see accurate reflections of the truth like this one, he shouldn’t be doing Internet searches on himself.

Calling the truth “fake news” as Trump does, doesn’t change it from being the truth. Sure there are some small minded Trumpets out there who will fall for the Fox News propaganda that Trump’s cronies spin, but the majority of the world recognizes Trump to be nothing more than a Russian puppet put in office by Putin to destroy America.

I’m about as patriotic a person as you will ever find. I love my country. That’s why I speak up against people like Trump who commit treason and wish to harm the fabric of democracy. When someone is doing wrong, it is up to us to make things right.

Peace. Love. Trust.

Corbin Nash Film Fails Big Despite Cast

Corbin Nash is an odd film. Despite having a very talented cast of supporting players including Rutger Hauer, Corey Feldman, Bruce Davidson, and Malcom McDowell, it is a terrible movie.

The story follows the title character, Corbin Nash, as he goes from being a rogue detective to being a demon hunter. You’d think with a plot that simple, it would be hard to deviate from a straight story line. But, somehow director and co-screenwriter Ben Jagger manages to put together a film that is convoluted, nonsensical, and just plain bad.

As Corbin Nash, Dean S. Jagger can’t act his way out of a paper bag. His performance is wooden and boring. He also co-wrote the script, so you’d think he would be more in touch with the material. C’est la vie.

The only interesting part of the whole film is the performance of former teen star Corey Feldman, who plays a transsexual vampire. Feldman’s performance steals the show and is quiet entertaining.

I’m a fan of Feldman, not only because I enjoyed him in Stand By Me and Lost Boys, but also because he was attached to a project I wrote – Champion of the People. “Champ” was a proposed tv series about a former pro wrestler (Adonis Truth) who is elected mayor of a small town. Feldman was to play Pharaoh Creed, the mayor’s chief of staff. WWE legend Bret Hart was also attached to play the mayor.

We failed to get financing when the project was originally put together, and the talent went their separate ways. But who knows? Maybe we’ll return to it at a later date.  If a project as bad as Corbin Nash can get financing, it stands to reason that anything can get financing.

How bad is Corbin Nash? The title character has his own name tattooed on his chest – a move apparently made because Dean S. Jagger is so bad in his role that without the label on his chest audiences would forget he’s part of the story.

If you are a Corey Feldman fan, the DVD is worth renting – as long as you fast forward only to his parts. Otherwise avoid this title at all costs.

There are films that are so bad, they’re good. This is not one of them. It is just plain bad.

BlacKkKlansman – an Important Film in Today’s Battle-scarred Political Climate

Spike Lee is a revolutionary filmmaker. Some of his films rank among my favorites: School Daze and Do The Right Thing stand out among the list.

Lee is no stranger to controversy. He wrote and directed the 1992 film Malcolm X about the late activist and Nation of Islam member.

Not only was the film controversial to White America, but to Malcolm X followers as well. One side worried that Lee would paint Malcolm X in a hero’s light, the other side voiced objection to Lee as director and Denzel Washington in the title role because they worried the film would over sensationalize the late activist and not be true to his character.

But, Spike Lee survived the controversy and created a darn good movie.

Do The Right Thing, one of Lee’s prior movies, used both comedy and drama to paint a controversial take on racial tensions in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Similarly, in 1991, Lee wrote and directed Jungle Fever about interracial romances – still a controversial subject to some nearly 20 years later.

So it should come as no surprise that Spike Lee’s newest film venture, BlacKkKlansman, again tackles racism. In this instance, the film is about Ron Stallworth – an undercover police officer who manages to infiltrate the Klu Klux Klan in 1979 posing as a white supremacist in phone calls with Klan members including David Duke.

The film stars John David Washington as officer Stallworth. Lee directed Washington’s father Denzel in films Malcom X, Mo Better Blues, He Got Game, and Inside Man.

The younger Washington does a good job in the role, as does co-star Adam Driver as the Jewish cop assigned to step in for Stallworth in face to face meetings with the David Duke and the Klan. Driver is best known as Kylo Ren in the Star Wars films The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

In BlacKkKlansman the white supremacists talk among themselves about how one day they will have a like-minded racist in the White House. Sadly, that day has come – and that fact is not lost on Lee.

Without ever calling Donald Trump a racist in so many words, Lee allows Trump to make clear his racist views in his own words, using news clips of Trump’s racist comments.

The film was released on August 10, 2018 – the anniversary of the Unite the Rite rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in which neo-Nazis, Klan members, and other white supremacists flooded the streets with racist messages and ultimately killed peaceful protesters. Trump failed to denounce the actions of the white supremacists – in fact calling them “very fine people.”

Enough said.

Peace. Love. Trust.

Top 10 Wrestlers of All Time

I love professional wrestling, or as it is more commonly known now “sports entertainment.” Even though the outcomes of the wrestling matches are scripted, there is no denying the physical talent and dedication of the players. I’ve been a fan since I was a child – fascinated by what I called “a soap opera on steroids.” There are good guys and bad guys, love interests, plot twists, cliff hangers – everything that makes for good television viewing.

So of all the amazing performers who I’ve had the chance to witness in the ring, who among them can be called the best of the best? I’m going to answer that question with a Top 10 list of the best wrestlers of all time.

10) Andre the Giant. Standing over seven feet tall and weighing over 500 pounds, Andre the Giant is regarded as one of the largest athletes in history. Without a scripted ending to the contrary, it is doubtful if Andres would have ever lost a match. Not only was he a legend in the ring, he proved a loveable movie star in one of my favorite movies of all time: The Princess Bride. As a child, I had the opportunity to see Andre live when he tag teamed with the Junkyard Dog to face Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy.

9) Randy Orton. A third-generation wrestler, Randy Orton became the youngest world champion in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) history at the age of 24. He has headlined the promotion as both a good guy and a bad guy, usually as an anti-hero. Orton has held the WWE Championship nine times and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship four times. One of his gimmicks is hearing voices in his head. Even crazy people get a superhero.

8) Bret The Hitman Hart. Bret Hart was an amazing wrestler. He wasn’t as big as other perennial heroes like Hulk Hogan, but that didn’t stop him from become “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there’ll ever be.” I’m particularly fond of Bret because he was attached to play the mayor in a sitcom I created titled Champion of the People about a former wrester who is elected mayor of a small town. Corey Feldman was also attached to play the chief of staff. Why it didn’t catch on? Who knows. I still think it’s a great concept. Hollywood works in strange ways. Maybe interest will get revived down the line.

7) Sting. Steve Borden, known in the ring as Sting, was one of the top draws in World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) for over three decades in which he held 25 championships. Readers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated named him Most Popular Wrestler of the Year on four occasions. One of the things I most admired about Sting was his ability to reinvent himself over and over to stay relevant as the wrestling game changed over the years. He started off as a bleach blond surfer type and ended up a dark protector styled after The Crow. In all cases, he was a joy to watch as he wrestled into his 50s.

6) John Cena. Like Hulk Hogan before him, John Cena has carried the banner of the baby face or good guy for most of his career in WWE. He signed a development deal with WWE in 2001. For a while he had a terrible gimmick in which he as a Marky Mark style rapper. But in 2004 he revised his image to that of a squeaky clean good guy who champions the common man. No matter what title he holds or who he feuds with, Cena always brings class to his character. Another contributing factor to his being one of the best of all time, is that he regularly donates his time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

5) Hulk Hogan. While some debate about his actual in-ring talent, there is no denying that Hulk Hogan forever changed the face of professional wrestling. Starting with a scene stealing role as pro wrestler Thunder Lips in the massive movie hit Rocky III, Hogan has proved a magnet to audiences. Throughout the 1980s and 90s he was the face of WWE (or WWF as it was known then) and then joined The Outsiders Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to take over rival promotion WCW in the mid to late 90s in one of the most dramatic turns of good guy to bad guy in the history of pro wrestling. Without Hulk Hogan as its pillar, WWE would not have the universal popularity it does today. He is a twelve-time WWF champion and a six-time WCW world heavyweight champion. He was inducted into the 2005 WWE Hall of Fame by Sylvester Stallone.

4) Triple H. How long have I been a wrestling fan? I remember when Triple H actually stood for Hunter Hearst Helmsley – a conceited aristocrat character played by Paul Michael Levesque. He as a member of the informal alliance of Shawn Michaels, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and X-Pac known as The Clique and the formal alliance of Shawn Michaels, Billy Gunn, The Road Dogg, Chyna, X-Pac, and Rick Rude known as D-Generation X. A man who has truly made good on the marrying into the family business, Levesque married Stephanie McMahon, daughter of billionaire WWE promoter Vince McMahon in 2003 and has helped to sculpt the creative landscape of the current face of pro wrestling. He has held 25 championships over the course of his career.

3) Dwayne The Rock Johnson. Known now as a movie star under his actual name Dwayne Johnson, The Rock (as he is known in the WWE) started wrestling in 1995 under the name Rocky Maivia – a name derived in tribute to his grandfather Pete Maivia and his father Rocky Johnson. The Rock was a decent wrestler but really stood out with his mic skills, cutting crazy good promos. He rode his abilities to fame both in the ring, and as an actor – eventually leaving the WWE as his acting career flourished. Not one to turn his back on the industry that gave him his shot at fame, The Rock continues to make occasional appearances with the WWE. Ironically The Rock didn’t have that stellar of a physique when he was wrestling, but since becoming famous as an actor, he has dedicated himself to sporting a body that rivals Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger during their prime.

2) The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. Proving that the little guy can carry the weight of the WWE on his shoulders, Shawn Michaels served as one of the most popular champions in the history of the wrestling promotion. He started his WWE career in 1988 as a part of the tag team The Rockers and wrestled until retirement in 1998. It was after turning on tag team partner Marty Jannetty that he become the brazened anti-hero that forever changed the face of wrestling. He resumed wrestling in 2002 and made his final wrestling appearance in 2010. Like The Rock, Hulk Hogan, and Triple H, Michaels was a master on the mic. He formed D-Generation X with Triple H and served as a perennial headliner for WWE. He is a four-time WWE world champion and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.

1) Macho Man Randy Savage. In the 1980’s Hulk Hogan was the champion. He held the title for three years straight. When that started to get stale, I knew the WWF (as it was known then) needed a new figure head and I began debating with friends who that would be. Based on talent and charisma, I felt Macho Man Randy Savage would be the one to take the mantle – and in 1988 my prediction came to fruition. He held the title for over a year. Over the course of his wrestling career he held 29 titles including WWF world heavy weight championship twice, WCW world heavy weight championship four times. The WWE now acknowledges Savage as the greatest intercontinental champion of all time. He also appeared as Bonesaw McGraw in the 2002 Spider-Man movie opposite Tobey Maguire. He also gained fame as the spokesperson for Slim Jim meat snacks. When I had the chance to meet Savage in person he was kind and giving of his time. He will forever be my favorite wrestler of all time. He was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015.

Marriott Theatre’s Murder for Two a Bonafide Musical Comedy Hit

Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire consistently provides some of the best theatre in the greater Chicagoland area, and is often on par with the level of talent seen on Broadway stages. Needless to say, the company’s newest undertaking does not miss the mark.

Simply put, Marriott Theatre’s Murder for Two is a masterful piece of entertainment.

The witty comedy is a musical murder mystery with a small-town police officer trying to earn a promotion to detective by solving the who done it crime.

To make things entertaining, all accompaniment is provided onstage by the skilled pianists in the cast.

To add to the mayhem of the story and the delight of the audience, the cast features only two actors, with one actor as the policeman and the other actor playing all twelve of the murder suspects. Both demonstrate great keyboard skill.

In the multiple roles of The Suspects, Jason Grimm provides a virtuoso performance. Each character is well-defined both physically and vocally, with total believability and humor to boot. Characters of both sexes range in age from child to senior citizen.

Not to be left out of the spotlight, Noel Carey as police officer Marcus Moscowicz is the glue that keeps the story together and allows for Grimm to shine in spectacular fashion. It is not surprising that Carey played the role previously in the National Tour.

The musical features book and music by Joe Kinosian and book and lyrics by Kellen Blair. Direction by Scott Weinstein provides for an ingenious use of the stage and well-choreographed physical humor. Music direction by Matt Deitchman enables Carey and Grimm to shine vocally and tickling the ivories of the onstage grand piano.

Set designer Scott Davis works magic with the intimate space, employing a rotating set to give every seat in the house a clear view of the action. Lighting design by Jesse Klug, sound design by Robert E. Gilmartin, and costumes by Emily Arnold add to the over enjoyment of the theatrical event.

This is a hilarious romp that is sure to entertain. Expect Marriott Theatre’s Murder for Two to be a big player come awards season. It is that good.

Running through August 26, Murder for Two plays Wednesdays at 1:00 PM and 7:30 PM, Thursdays at 730 PM, Saturdays at 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM, and Sundays at 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM. There are also select Thursday 1:00 PM showings. Tickets range from $50 to $60, including tax and handling fees, with student, senior, and military discounts available. A limited number of dinner-theatre packages are available on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The theatre provides free parking at all performance.

For ticket reservations call The Marriott Theatre Box Office at (847) 634-0200 or go to www.ticketmaster.com. Visit www.MarriottTheatre.com for more information. The theatre is conveniently located at 10 Marriott Drive in Lincolnshire.

Peace. Love. Trust.