CLOSED July 1, 2012: “The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith”

“The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith” made its Off- Broadway Premiere at St. Lukes Theatre on June 22, 2011 ( previews began on June 7, 2011) and closed on July 1, 2012.

crop bessie

About the play : “Sexy and racy, Blues singer Bessie Smith was the definition of a Red Hot Mamma and the most successful entertainer of her time. On the eve of her tragic death in 1937, Bessie takes center stage in a Memphis “buffet flat.” Now, among friends, she tells the story of her amazing life, career, her loves and losses. Put your troubles aside, and soak up the blues as Bessie Smith comes to life and sings the songs that made her so unforgettable, St. Louis Blues, Need a Little Sugar in my Bowl and Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out.” CLOSED

The incandescent Miche Braden plays iconic blues singer Bessie Smith and performs thrilling renditions of 15 songs associated with one of America’s great divas.

“Run, don’t walk, to the current production of “The Devil’s Music: the Life and Blues of Bessie Smith.” The riveting and incandescent Miche Braden is the lead in this new staging about one of the great divas of the 1920s.”  –Newstimes.com [CLOSED]
 
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CLOSED April 27, 2012: “Danny and Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical”

Danny & Sylvia 132photo by Carol Rosegg
Brian Childers and Kimberly Faye Greenberg

“Danny and Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical ” was directed by Pamela Hall, choreographed by Gene Castle and Produced by Edmund Gaynes. Playing to houses at 90% capacity, the press raved about Off-Broadway’s hit musical. The first preview of this long- running hit was on May 6, 2008. It opened officially on May 13, 2008 and closed in  April 27, 2012. (After THREE fabulous years “Danny and Sylvia” has CLOSED)

What the critics said about “DANNY AND SYLVIA: THE DANNY KAYE MUSICAL”

“The popular, versatile comic entertainer Danny Kaye, and his wife, the songwriter Sylvia Fine, are profiled in a delightful off-Broadway musical called “Danny and Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical,” now on view at St. Luke’s Theatre.  Childers seems tireless as he sings, dances and leaps about the stage, skillfully recreating Kaye’s clownish personality, complete with flamboyant hand motions, zany physical actions and quick wit. He easily executes the crazy accents and impromptu gibberish, as well as the fast-paced lyrics for which Kaye was famous.

Notable examples are his rendition of the Weill/Gershwin tongue-twister “Tchaikowsky,” in which he rattles off the names of dozens of similar-sounding Russian composers, and his audience-rousing version of “Minnie the Moocher.”

Sylvia is nimbly portrayed by Kimberly Faye Greenberg as loving, yet with a ruthless edge. Greenberg sings beautifully, conveying Fine’s love for the mostly undisciplined Kaye along with her astute, apparently sharklike business aptitude.

Somehow director Pamela Hall keeps it all in check and moving along smoothly.

This musical is an enjoyable look back at Kaye’s unique abilities, and an excellent showcase for the talented Greenberg and Childers.”
–Jennifer Farrar, NEW YORK TIMES/ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Watch those limbs!!! Brian Childers’ physicality is so like Kaye’s it’s a see-it-to-believe-it experience.  Childers can dive into gibberish and do accents like Sid Caesar; he gambols, pivots, yelps, frolics, leaps, squeaks, and giggles. He acts, too. He’s a charmer. Enjoy Childers, whether leading the audience in singing Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher,” prancing through Fine’s still-fine “Anatole of Paris” or drilling through “Tchaikovsky”.  Kimberly Faye Greenberg not only resembles Fine, she radiates her fearlessness.  Greenberg reveals heart beneath Fine’s heartlessness plus compassion for her comic-savant husband.”

–Leonard Jacobs, BACKSTAGE

“DANNY AND SYLVIA is an entertaining evening.  Fueled by the talents of its two stars, it’s a smoothly paced revue that doesn’t bog itself down with heave does of exposition.  Bob Bain and Robert McElwaine have written a very good score that also includes some of Kaye’s most memorable performances.  Brian Childers portrays Danny Kaye with loving care and exquisite attention to vocal and physical detail.  His impersonation of Kaye is simply uncanny and his spectacular dead-on rendition of “Minnie the Moocher” is a memorable highlight.  Kimberly Faye Greenberg has a strong comedic presence as songwriter Sylvia Fine, Kaye’s creative partner and eventual spouse and is an excellent match for Childers.  Pamela Hall directs the script sweetly and Gene Castle has done a great job bringing Kaye’s choreography to the stage. Fans of Danny Kaye will not be disappointed with this production.  It’s a pleasure to see Brian Childers portray him.”

–Jason S. Grossman, NYTHEATRE.COM

“Childers and Greenberg have good stage chemistry and both belt out the songs with gusto.  Childers is at his best singing Kurt Weill’s and Ira Gershwin’s “Tchaikovsky,” a tongue-twisting litany of 58 Russian composers sung in a breakneck 38 seconds.”

–CURTAIN UP

“The life of Danny Kaye is a whopper of a story.”

–John Simon, BLOOMBERG

“DANNY AND SYLVIA” is a heartfelt tribute to the well-known comedian and the significant contribution of his lesser-known wife.  We get to see some of the brilliance that made Kaye a star of stage, screen and TV. Watching Brian Childers bring Kaye to life, you get the sense his style may have influenced the Monty Python crew and certainly influenced Nathan Lane.”

–Paul Cozby, ABOUT.COM

“Danny Kaye fans will love Brian Childers’ recreation of the ‘Tummler’.”

–Merle Exit, MERLE’S WHIRLS

“Danny and Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical is a little jewel. The production is a triumph of casting with Brian Childers as Danny Kaye. Mr. Childers received the 2002 Helen Hayes Award for “Outstanding Leading Actor in a Musical” and the Mary Godwater Award for his performance as Danny Kaye in Danny and Sylvia: A Musical Love Story. Understandably there are more awards attached to his name and we at Arts & Leisure News Service add their name to the accolades for his performance in Danny and Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical.”

–Joyce Hauser, ARTS & LEISURE NEWS SERVICE

“Brian Childers flawlessly achieves the reincarnation of Danny Kaye in his high-energy fluency and physical commitment to the role. He not only captured the character in song and dance, but also used the play’s sporadic narrative to engage the audience and add depth to what we already know about the famous showman.

Playing Sylvia Fine, Kaye’s steadfast and loving wife, Kimberly Faye Greenberg shone as the playful yet disciplined backbone to Danny Kaye’s funnyman routines. Fine was also the creator of some of his most renowned material.

By the finale it is clear why the world quickly embraced the tongue-twister master and all-around performer that was Danny Kaye. Danny and Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical is a great evening off-Broadway and will have you singing those fabulous Danny Kaye songs for weeks to come.”

— Alyssa Lettman, Best of Off-Broadway.com ( Danny and Sylvia has CLOSED)

(CLOSED January 8, 2012) “Say Goodnight Gracie”

“Say Good Night Gracie” was written by 3-time Tony Award Winner, Rupert Holmes, Joel Rooks starred in this welcome revival of Holmes’ smoothly entertaining play about the lives of George Burns and Gracie Allen. It opened at St. Lukes Theatre on October 14, 2011 and closed on January 8, 2012.

About the play:It’s not often that a show can wrap you in a tender love story, delight you with an uproarious comedy, and glide you through a guided tour of an American century of entertainment, all in one memorable theatrical event. SAY GOODNIGHT GRACIE is first and foremost an unforgettable experience, centering around one man’s devotion to his wife, a woman who was his friend, his sweetheart, and his partner for life, and beyond. A love story one hundred years in the making.”  

                                                                                        “Mesmerizing!”   –  WCBS-TV

“HILARIOUS!”
The New Yorker

“You’ll be in heaven!”
The New York Times

Renowned Broadway actor Joel Rooks pegs Burns in every way!”
Philadelphia Inquirer

“George Burns came alive again for 90 wonderful, endearing minutes. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND IT!’
Jeffrey Lyons / WNBC-TV

Visit: www.SayGoodnightGracie.net

(Closed St.Lukes Oct, 5, 2011) “Harry & Eddie: The Birth of Israel” is MOVING!

“HARRY & EDDIE: The Birth of Israel”, which opened off-Broadway at St. Luke’s Theatre on September 8, 2011 moved to Actors Temple Theatre to continue performances on Wednesday, October 12, 2011. The final performance at St. Luke’s Theatre was Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 2 PM.[closed]

This play by Mark Weston, about the creation of Israel, was directed by Bob Spiotto and featured Rick Grossman,  Dan Hicks & Lydia Gladstone.

Dan Hicks (as Harry S. Truman) & Rick Grossman (as Eddie Jacobson)
Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

About the play: “HARRY & EDDIE: The Birth of Israel” tells the largely-unknown story of how President Harry S. Truman’s friendship with his former business partner, Eddie Jacobson, leads to the creation of Israel in 1948. [CLOSED]

(CLOSED Aug. 20, 2011) Kimberly Faye Greenberg stars in “One Night With Fanny Brice”

“One Night With Fanny Brice” officially opened at St. Luke’s Theatre on April 3, 2011 and played its final performance Off-Broadway on Aug. 20, 2011 [CLOSED]

Kimberly Faye Greenberg starred as the original funny girl, Fanny Brice, in a new musical at St. Lukes Theatre.  Musical numbers include “Bill Bailey”, “I Am Always Chasing Rainbows”, “Second Hand Rose”, “My Man”, and “You Made Me Love You”.

Kimberly was also currently playing Sylvia in Danny & Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical The NY Times reviewer wrote “Sylvia is nimbly portrayed by Kimberly Faye Greenberg as loving, yet with a ruthless edge. Greenberg sings beautifully, conveying (Sylvia) Fine’s love for the most undisciplined Kaye along with her astute, apparently shark-like business aptitude.”

One Night with Fanny Brice delivers what it promises… This may be as close as devotees will ever get to (Fanny Brice) … An interesting look back.”
– Sun Gazette Newspapers

One Night with Fanny Brice brings Fanny’s historical contemporaries to life : Flo Ziegfeld, Eddie Cantor, Gypsy Rose Lee, Billy Rose, W.C. Fields, Al Jolson and all the lowlifes associated with Nicky Arnstein” – The Washington (DC) Examiner (CLOSED)

(CLOSED Dec. 11, 2010) “Dietrich & Chevalier: The Musical”

“Dietrich & Chevalier: The Musical” made its Off-Broadway premiere at St. Lukes Theatre on June 5, 2010 with its official opening on June 20, 2010 . Produced by Edmund Gaynes, written by Jerry Mayer, starring Jodie Stevens and Robert Cuccioli with Donald Corren, was directed by Broadway veteran, Pamela Hall with musical staging by Gene Castle. “Dietrich & Chevalier: The Musical” closed on  December 11, 2010.

CLOSED April 30, 2009: “Lansky” (NY Premiere)

Mike Burstyn, whose Broadway credits include Barnum and Ain’t Broadway Grand, starred in the New York premiere of Lansky, which began previews at the St. Luke’s Theatre on Jan. 23, 2009, was penned by Joseph Bologna and Richard KrevolinLansky — about the life of mobster Meyer Lansky – starred the legendary American and Israeli star Mike Burstyn and officially opened Feb. 5, 2009. Bologna also directed. (Lansky CLOSED April 30, 2009)

lansky-with-pic

About The Play: Lansky, The Story of the Brains Behind the Mob was the American premiere of a new play about Meyer Lansky, the infamous ganster and gambler and complicated man who masterminded some of the most ingenious wealth managenent systems for his gangland brethren. And, like so many ambitious first generation Americans had to wonder if his ill-gotten gains were going to send him to hell or up the river. The play also dealt with Lansky’s little-known efforts to become an Israeli citizen and used his life story as a crucible to explore Jewish identity and the choices first-generation Americans made in order to achieve wealth and success. This tour-de-force starred the legendary Mike Burstyn who was recently seen in New York in On 2nd Avenue, for which he received his second Drama Desk nomination. Mr. Burstyn has been acclaimed on and off Broadway in Barnum, Jolson, and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife and is the recipient of 3 Israeli “Oscars.”

Mike Burstyn in Lansky.

The play is directed by Joseph Bologna who is best known for his classic comedies such as Made For Each Other and Lovers & Other Strangers written with his wife, Renee Taylor (Mom on TV’s “The Nanny”). Lansky CLOSED April 30, 2009