Welcome to the Schimmel Center Blog!

The Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts Blog Schimmel Center seeks to enrich and engage our audiences by bringing world-class talent to Lower Manhattan. Our programming features internationally-acclaimed talent in the areas of music, dance, film, cabaret and lecture.

28 October 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Grease is still the word! : Inside Sing-a-long-a Grease

This Saturday, November 1, the Schimmel staff will be putting on our leather jackets, rocking out the poodle skirts and applying copious amounts of grease into our hair. We are hoping that you will be joining us, because this time, it is all our turn to become a part of the 1978 movie musical phenomenon, Grease. The folks at Sing-a-long-a, producers of the famous Sound of Music Sing-a-long, have created a special, one of a kind event for fans of the classic film. Fans are encouraged to dress up, dance the hand jive and even sing along to the movies’ rock and roll score. There is even a special, “magic moments fun pack,” free of charge, chock full of interactive props to engage one through the entire film. Word has it, there will be a special guest at the screening to judge the costume contest! In honor of this weekend’s exciting event, I have compiled a list of 10 exciting trivia facts that even hard core Grease fans may not know. Here they are ( in no particular order.)

Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in "Grease" (1978)

Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in “Grease” (1978)

1) “May the Grease be with you!”

Word has it that Star Wars’ very own Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher was in original consideration to play the part of Betty Rizzo. There are few worse things you could have done than pass up that role, Ms. Fisher. At least, you will always have Luke and Hans by your side.

2) “Sit on it, Zuko!”

Everyone associates Henry Winkler as the Fonze from Happy Days and for good reason. The decade’s most popular greaser almost took the role of Danny Zuko but changed his mind, deciding he didn’t want to be type cast.

3) “Look at Me, I’m Nostradomus!”

In the original stage play, Rizzo’s song, “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee,” featured a lyric about 50’s star Sal Mineo. Because of his gruesome, Hollywood murder a year before, the studio asked that the lyric be changed to reflect another star of the period, Elvis Presley. It turns out that they filmed the scene in which the song was sung on August 16, 1977, the very day that the king of Rock and Roll passed away.

4) “Sandra Dee goes down under.”

In the original stage musical, the character of Sandy was an all American girl next door named “Sandy Dumbrowski.” In order to keep with Olivia Newton John’s background, and explain that accent, Sandy became “Sandy Olsen,” an exchange student from Australia.

5) “Not everyone loves Lucy”

Apparently, Lucille Ball’s daughter Lucy Arnez was in final consideration for the role of Betty Rizzo. She was dropped in favor of Stockard Channing after her famous red headed mother made a call to the producers, allegedly saying, “I used to own that studio; my daughter’s not doing a screen test!” (Ball actually owned the studio Desilu which was bought by Paramount).

6) “Rockin’ High”

The name “Rydell High School,” is a reference to 1950’s/60’s teen idol, Bobby Rydell, who famously sung the hit song, “Swingin’ School.”

7) “Cola Classic”

Lead producer, Allan Carr had made a product-placement deal with Coca-Cola© competitor Pepsi©, before filming began. After Carr saw the footage of the “Frosty Palace,” scene prominently featuring Coca-Cola© products and trademarks, he ordered director Randal Kleiser to either reshoot the scene with Pepsi products or remove the Coca-Cola© logos from the scene. Because reshoots were deemed too expensive and time-consuming, optical mattes were used to cover up or blur out the Coca-Cola©, references in post-production. The ‘blurring’ covered up trademarked menu signage and a large wall poster, but a red cooler with the logo could not be sufficiently altered so was left unchanged.

8) “Zip It!”

Due to a zipper breaking, Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into the trousers she wears in the last sequence (the carnival at Rydell).

9) “Toxic Avenger”

In the scene where the cast are near the bridge after the car race, the water on the ground was stagnant and dangerous. Some cast members became ill from filming as the setting was a derelict place full of dirt and rubbish.

10) “Stoop a little lower!”

Jeff Conaway, as Kenicke, (6′ 1½” (1.87 m)) had to walk slightly stooped so that John Travolta, as Danny, (6′ 2″ (1.88 m)) would appear taller.

 

See You at the Schimmel!

Michael Scott-Torbet

Schimmel Center Blogger

 

Sin-a-long-a Grease; Saturday, November 1st at 7:30pm;$20;  call our box office at (212) 346-1715 or visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/938663

 

 

23 October 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Where’s Hitch? : Inside “The Lodger” and the Alfred Hitchcock Cameo

This Sunday, October 26, Ben Model will return to introduce our audiences to another classic silent film. This weekend’s masterpiece is a story of true suspense and horror, just in time for Halloween. Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger, is the story of a landlady who takes in a new tenant, who may or may not, be the mad man who has been stalking and murdering young blondes at night. While, The Lodger certainly was not the first feature directed by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock, it is often regarded as the director’s first thriller and the film that introduced audiences to his iconic style. The film displays all of his most famous elements from his anti-hero to his icy blondes to expert mixing of humor and suspense. It was even ranked the number 15 best Hitchcock film of all time (out of 52 films) by Timeout Magazine.

Original lobby card for "The Lodger" (1927)

Original lobby card for “The Lodger” (1927)

The Lodger is also the first film to use another one of Hitchcock’s signature elements, the director’s cameo. As most fans of Hitchcock’s films know, the famous director can be found in just about all of his movies, usually somewhere in the first act, so as not to take away from the film’s suspense. The famous signature came about in this film, quite by accident. The 26-year old director realized that he didn’t have enough extras in one of his scenes. Rather than hire more and add to the costly budget of the film, Hitchcock stepped into the role himself. Hitchcock can be found in the film twice; once, sitting at a desk with his back to the camera and again, later in the film, as part of an angry mob.

Hitchcock’s cameos would become all the more clever and humorous throughout the years. In some films, the director had to become quite clever about how to add himself in. In Lifeboat (1944), the film was set entirely on a lifeboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Hitchcock certainly couldn’t float by in the water. Instead, he placed his likeness on a weight-loss advertisement on a newspaper being read by one of the passengers. In Rope (1948), the action never leaves the apartment of its two anti-heroes, Hitchcock had a neon sign made of his profile to be hung on one of the buildings just outside the window. The cameos ran the gamut from humorously conspicuous to annoyingly discreet, but they remain constant fun for the devoted Hitchcock aficionado. Below, I have posted a youtube video (compiled by someone else) of all the Hitchcock cameos in his movies. Enjoy, then book your tickets for this Sunday’s screening of The Lodger, and see the movie that started it all, complete with accompaniment by Ben Model.

See you at the Schimmel!

Michael Scott-Torbet

Schimmel Blogger

ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S “THE LODGER: A STORY OF THE LONDON FOG”; Live piano accompaniment by Ben Model; Starring Ivor Novello, with June TrippMalcolm Keen and Marie Ault; Directed by Alfred Hitchcock; Released February 1927 by Gainsborough Pictures; Sunday, October 26th at 2:00pm; Ticket Prices
Adults $12 | Students $8; Call (212)346-1715 or visit web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/938389 

22 October 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Okee Dokee Brothers bring the Appalachian Train to Big Apple!

We are very excited to have  the Grammy Award winning, children’s songwriting duo, The Okee Dokee Brothers with us this Saturday, October 25. The duo will be performing songs from their latest album, “Adventure Songs.” the following bio can be found on their website:

Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing: the Okee Dokee Brothers

Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing: the Okee Dokee Brothers

As childhood friends growing up in Denver Colorado, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing were always exploring the outdoors. Whether it was rafting down their neighborhood creek or discovering hiking trails through the Rocky Mountains, Joe and Justin were born adventurers. Now, as the GRAMMY® Award-winning Okee Dokee Brothers, they have put this passion for the outdoors at the heart of their Americana Folk music.

Joe and Justin record and perform family music with a goal to inspire children and their parents to get outside and experience nature. They believe this can motivate kids to gain a greater respect for the natural world, their communities and themselves.

The three-time Parents’ Choice Award winners have garnered praise from the likes of NPR’s All Things Considered and USA Today, and have been called “two of family music’s best songwriters”. Their nationwide fan base is drawn to their witty lyrics, strong musicianship and unique folk style. By appealing to the musical needs of the entire family and recognizing that kids deserve quality music, The Okee Dokee Brothers are working full-time to advance the family music genre.

Be sure to watch the video to preview the excitement that you and your children are in store for!

See You at the Schimmel!

Michael Scott-Torbet

Schimmel Blogger

The Okee Dokee Brothers: Advententure Songs; Saturday, October 25th at 2:00pm; Ticket Prices
Adults $25 | Kids $10; Call (212) 346-1715 or visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/938382

17 October 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Hey, Look (Him) Over!: An inside look at the show-stopping composer, Cy Coleman

On Saturday, October 18, Fred Barton, his 13-piece orchestra and star studded cast of Broadway performers will be back to celebrate yet another show-stopping composer. On this occasion our audience will be treated to the jazzy, big-band melodies of Cy Coleman.  Coleman was known to Broadway audiences as one of the last, truly great composers of big-band style musicals. Let’s take a further look into the life and career of this extraordinary composer.

Cy Coleman

Cy Coleman

A native New Yorker, Coleman was born June 14, 1929 as Seymour Kaufman to Eastern European Jewish parents. By the time he was six years old, it was evident that Seymour was a child prodigy at playing the piano. Between the ages of six and nine, the young musician was being booked in venues such as Steinway Hall, Town Hall and even Carnegie Hall. In his late teens, he had become a very much in-demand club performer, by the name of Cy Coleman, along with his jazz trio, the Cy Coleman trio. After enjoying recording success with his trio, Coleman looked towards a career in writing popular music. He partnered with lyricist, Carolyn Leigh and produced standards such as, “Witchcraft,” “The Best Is Yet to Come,” and “I’m Gonna Laugh You Out of My Life,” among others. It was also during this time, that Coleman would score the “Playboy” theme music, forever becoming associated with the famous periodical’s television productions.

In 1962, Leigh and Coleman were approached to write the score for a new Broadway musical that would become a vehicle for star, Lucille Ball. A mild success, Wild Cat closed early due to the illness of its star. However, it did produce the hit song, “Hey, Look Me Over,” which was later recycled into the fighting song for LSU, “Hey, Fighting Tigers.” The success of the show’s score prompted producers to approach the team to write a musical based on the Patrick Dennis novel, Little Me.  With Little Me, Coleman and Leigh were able to introduce two new standards to the American songbook, “Real Live Girl” and “I’ve Got Your Number.”

Although highly successful, Coleman’s collaboration with Leigh was often described as, “turmoil.” In 1964, he began to look for new writing partners. While at a party, Coleman met Dorothy Fields and she was more than flattered when she was asked to collaborate with him. The two started work on a musical version of the Fellini film Nights of Cabiria. The contemporary score proved to be one of his biggest hits, Sweet Charity. With the help of Tony-winning choreography by Bob Fosse, the song, “Big Spender,” became a break out hit along with classics like, “If My Friends Could See Me Now,” and “I’m a Brass Band.” The show’s massive success  loomed like a shadow over the duo’s partnership, however. Fields only wrote two more shows with Coleman before her death in 1974, a failed bio-musical about Eleanor Roosevelt and Seesaw, which would go on to mild success in the hands of Tommy Tune.

After the death of Fields, Coleman jumped around to different partners. He joined with Michael Stewart, who had found success with shows such as Bye, Bye Birdie and Hello Dolly to create a much less loved musical, I love My Wife. He then joined fabled lyricists Betty Comden and Adolph Green to collaborate on the hit, On the Twentieth Century for which he won the Tony award for best original score. Coleman went on through the 1980’s and early 90’s finding success with shows such as Barnum, The Will Rogers Follies (Tony winner for best score) and The Life, although, he may be best remembered for his score to the hit 1989 musical, City of Angels, based on 1940’s film noir. The score signaled a return to his jazz roots and was a huge commercial success that won him another two Tony awards for best score and musical.

On top of his four Tony wins, Coleman was nominated nineteen times over his career. He also took home three Emmy awards as well as, two Grammy awards. He is also known for his scores to films such as, Father Goose, The Art of Love, Garbo Talks, Power, and Family Business. On November 18, 2004, Coleman died of cardiac arrest at the age of 75. Besides leaving behind an incredible music legacy, he was survived by his wife Shelby Coleman and their daughter, Lily Cye Coleman. Coleman’s music has been recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Liza Minnelli and Lena Horne. This fall, a new revival of On the Twentieth Century will play the Roundabout, starring Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher. Coleman will always be remembered for his incredible show-stopping style. Be sure to come out this Saturday and help us honor the memory of this legendary composer.

See you at the Schimmel

Michael Scott-Torbet

Blogger

Cy  Coleman at the Piano

Cy Coleman at the Piano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Showstoppers: An Evening of CyColeman; Featuring the Fred Barton Orchestra; Saturday, October 18th at 7:30pm; Ticket Prices $49 | $39 | $29; Host, Producer, Arranger:  Fred Barton (Cy Coleman’s CITY OF ANGELS, THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, and LAWYERS, LOVERS & LUNATICS); Director-Choreographer:  Scott Thompson (ONE FOR MY BABY workshop); StarringKevin Earley (DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, LES MISERABLES), Deidre Goodwin (CHICAGO – Broadway and film – A CHORUS LINE, NINE), Sam Harris (Cy Coleman’s THE LIFE – Tony nomination, GREASE – Drama Desk nomination, THE PRODUCERS), Tari Kelly (ANYTHING GOES, THE BOY FROM OZ, SHOW BOAT), Damon Kirsche (ONE FOR MY BABY workshop, Encores’ ZIEGFELD FOLLIES OF 1936, Encores’ STRIKE UP THE BAND, Encores’ ON A CLEAR DAY), Karen Murphy (A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, 9 TO 5, 42ND STREET, ALL SHOOK UP, TITANIC), Lindsay Roginski (CHICAGO, ONE FOR MY BABY workshop), Leslie Stevens (LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, VICTOR VICTORIA, BIG), Terri White (Cy Coleman’s BARNUM, Cy Coleman’s WELCOME TO THE CLUB, FOLLIES, CHICAGO, FINIAN’S RAINBOW); Featuring Hannah DeFlumeri, AJ Hunsucker, Jesse Luttrell and THE SCOTT THOMPSON DANCERS: Beau Hutchings, Barrett Davis, Nic Thompson, Jeff Legace, Eric Rivas, Bobby Mira and Evan Campbell

Call (212) 346-1715 or visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/938512 for tickets

 

 

 

16 September 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Inside Look: An Interview with Julia Bullock

On Sunday, September 21, The schimmel center will simultaneously launch our 2014-15 season and kick off our “VOCE: Rising Opera Stars in Recital” series. Joining accompanist, Steven Blier will be soprano,  Julia Bullock and Tenor, Paul Appleby as well as Baritone, Andrew Garland. I recently caught up with the stunning soprano, Julia Bullock to ask some questions about the program and her career.

Julia Bullock Photo Credit: Christian Steiner

MT: Can you describe your musical background growing up to me? How did this background lead you to your passion for classical music?

JB: Music was always playing in my house, but not much classical music other than Peter and the Wolf by Prokofiev. :) But I’d say that my introduction to music came most through dance growing up. Starting age 4, I would go to my mother’s tap classes, and follow along in the corner, once I was old enough I took lessons myself. I’d come home and turn on cds ranging from broadway musicals, to jazz, to 70s rock, you name it, and physically immerse myself in the music. (I still do that!)

I’d say that my passion for classical music didn’t come until I was about 17, when my step father gave me recordings of Regine Crespin, some productions of Peter Sellars which featured Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and the definitive performance of Kiri Tekanawa and Frederika von Stade in a production of Le nozze di Figaro. I thought, “Ok these women have got something tremendous resonating through them. Not in the same manner as Janis Joplin, Nina Simone or Billie Holiday, but it’s something deep, and I want to know how to do that.” My passion for classical music was certainly informed by those initial audio and visual recordings, turning them on REALLY loud, and physically immersing myself in the sound.

 

MT: The Voce at Pace series is exciting because it’s one of the rare opportunities for New York audiences to experience rising opera stars such as yourself in an intimate recital setting. Can you speak about the differences in performing a recital as opposed to playing a part in a fully produced opera?

JB: Music is music: a lot of the differences just depends on the scale of the piece. One thing I ADORE about recital work is that there are so many different styles, languages, modes of communicating that can be joined together in one evening. The intimacy is felt between the performers themselves, and the audience, and which then enhances everyones engagement with the material. Conversely, if not everyone in a team is onboard with a common focus for a production, opera can feel a bit stifling (which is ironic given the size of the theaters in which operas are often presented). But when you’re working with great creative personalities, it can be some of the most satisfying, intense, and intimate work. I could maaaaaybe stand by this statement: the musical phrases in opera are often longer, whereas the literary phrases in the poetry of art song are more often than not, longer and more complex… there, that’s one difference! :)

 

MT: What was the process for picking out the repertoire for this recital? Was it a collaboration between you and Mr. Blier?

JB: Yes, it was a collaboration, for sure. Steve Blier proposed a concert of French and American music, and I thought that GREAT! Steven proposed an initial program, and out of the 10 songs he suggested for me, I like 8 of them, and then we added a few. Steve, I trust. He sees me pretty clearly, and I think I see him as well. I’ve known him for 4 years, and there are songs he suggests that I take a look at that I’d just never consider on my own, but I usually love them, and want to use them again and again. (But I surprise him too… ;)

 

MT: Are you drawn to “Art Music”? Why showcase French and American “Art Music” in particular? 

JB: Well, I can’t speak for anyone else on this program, but the first recording I fell in love with was Regine Crespin’s mélodie recording of Berlioz, Poulenc, Debussy, and Ravel. I don’t know if it was the material she sang, or how she sang it, but even now, after almost 10 years of studying classical voice, I can return to that recording and be immediately inspired. My mother took me to a lot of musicals when I was growing up, and I wanted to pursue musical theater for a long time, so that’s one piece of the American song literature that I loved, partially because I could relate to it immediately, there was no room for posturing. But a coach Scott Schoonover, that I met in the Artists-In-Training program with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, who currently runs his own opera company in St. Louis called Union Ave Opera, was the first person who helped me understand the close relationship between text and music, and those hours and conversations with him have remained with me to this day – and we worked a lot on American art song. A lot of the poetry in song literature is just mind-blowing. I’m encouraged to research the poetry, as much as the music itself. It’s a medium that demands all of my attention, which makes it super satisfying.

 

MT: How does the music in this recital program reflect on who you are as an artist right now?

JB: Musically, vocally, and mentally, it’s a demanding program. Even though we are only dealing with French and American song, there’s a wide range within that. It’s almost as if every composer draws out a different sort of vocalism, and right now, I’m excited by delving into those extremes without looking back.

 

MT: Do you have a favorite piece that you will be singing? Why is this your favorite?

JB: I always say that my favorite piece is the one I’m singing in that moment, and to a point I have to commit to that statement. However, one of the pieces that terrifies and excites me is Bernstein’s “A Julia de Burgos.” I didn’t know anything about this poet before Steve asked me to look at this song. Burgos was a fierce human being, but it’s almost as if the world couldn’t hold her for long. Her life story alone is tragic, but what she says in this poem, about being heard for who she was, and what she was, and where she wanted to go just shakes me to the core. So for the challenge of stepping into Julia de Burgos’s shoes, combined with the fiery setting that Bernstein gives her words, I’d say that piece is the one.

 

MT: You were recently the winner of the 2014 Naumburg International Vocal Competition. Is this a goal that you have had for a long time? What was the experience like for you?

JB: The pianist I work with regularly, Renate Rohlfing, suggested that we apply. The timing was a bit complicated because I was making my New York recital debut the same week, but Renate said, “You know, if we have to pull out, we just pull out.” And I thought, ok, if this is just about exploring repertoire, and presenting music to a panel of individuals whom I hold in the highest musical regard, then let’s give this a shot. I actually felt better about my musical offerings in each stage of the competition than I did for my recital, I think because I couldn’t anticipate anything (you have to offer two FULL recital programs in order to compete, so that’s approximately 45 songs); I just had to be poised and open to anything. Some of the American singers that have inspired me most, both vocally and in their life’s pursuit in music, have been amongst the winners (amongst them Dawn Upshaw, Shirley Verrett, Lucy Shelton). And Margot Garrett, who is Renate’s teacher and mentor, competed with Dawn the year she won, so in that respect it felt like we were living into a legacy of some sort. Naumburg is considered one of the most highly competitive and esteemed competitions in the country, so it was a great honor, not just to win, but to compete. This is not a competition about the voice, as much as it was about one’s ability to communicate. 

Naumburg was a competition founded in the 1920s to help young, emerging performing artists with financial and professional support. Each year they select a different instrument to have compete, (either strings, woodwinds, solo piano, sometimes chamber groups) and in 2014 they were auditioning for voice – which they hadn’t done for 5 or 6 years. Some of the American singers that have inspired me most, both vocally and in their life’s pursuit in music, have been amongst the winners. Naumburg is considered one of the most highly competitive and esteemed competitions in the country, so it was a great honor, not just to win, but to compete.

Julia Bullock Photo Credit: Christian Steiner

Julia Bullock
Photo Credit: Christian Steiner

 

MT: At such a young age, you have already accomplished so much. Where would you like to see your career in the next 10 years? Do you have any juicy dream roles?

JB: I don’t feel that young…. HA! Truthfully, I’m just on a quest to continue building my skill set – the work is never done. Choosing to live my life with music at its center feels all encompassing, but there are almost innumerable different and critical aspects to being a singer, so it keeps the investment and work exciting and varied. I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with teachers, coaches, directors, conductors, and musicians that continually push me forward in my development: physically, mentally, emotionally, and on and on and on. I feel that I’ll always be a student to some degree, even though I can finally acknowledge that I now have a lot of tools at my disposal to aid me along the way. For me, this is ultimately about exploration. When I look at the careers of my favorite singers, they always had a amazing presence, but out of those, the performances that move me the most came when whey were in their late 30s and 40s. So, when I take that into account, I’m amazed that I’ve been given so many opportunities to share.

Roles??? I’m just taking them as they come! :)

For more information on Julia Bullock, please visit www.juliabullocksoprano.com

See you at the Schimmel!

Schimmel Blogger, Michael Scott-Torbet

 

VOCE at Pace: Rising Opera Stars in Recital with Steven Blier, Julia Bullock, Paul Applby and Andrew Garland.

Performance

Sunday, September 21st at 3:00pm

Ticket Prices

$39