Posts Tagged “Broadway Shows”

Rockers on Broadway 2019 SMASHING SUCCESS!!!

I had the privilege of attending the 26th annual 2019 Rockers on Broadway show at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street and it was beyond amazing.

The show was created 26 years ago and co-produced by Broadway legend Donnie Kehr along with longtime producing partner Cori Gardner to benefit The Path Fund.

BROADWAY LEGEND DONNIE KEHR LEADING THE ROCKERS ON BROADWAY IN A MEDLEY OF 70’S HITS!

The Path Fund, Inc.® is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting arts education. They support pre-professional training organizations with scholarship and program funding. They also work with aspiring writers to develop new works of music and theater.

This year they chose to celebrate by performing many of the hits of the 1970’s, and it was so incredibly good! Especially if you were around when those songs first came out. The performances weren’t interpretations, you actually thought you were hearing the original rock bands who recorded them.

Bands like Led Zeppelin, Heart, The Stones, Elton John, … you name it. Rock, Funk, Soul, R&B, Pop, and Disco all carved out their place in the music history of the 70’s, and all were represented.

Le Poisson Rouge was absolutely packed but they found me a great seat right in line with the center of the stage, where I got to sit with amazing guitar player, and founder of Iron Smoke distillery Tommy Brunett who played on a version of My Sharona that had everyone out of their seats and dancing. More on that below.

Plus I got to see some of my friends perform like Jeremy Schonfeld and Jay Leslie who got to play saxophone solos with Alexa Ray Joel, Rupert Holmes who did his Pina Colada song, and Keith Carradine who sang as he put it, ” a medley of his hit”, “I’m Easy.”

Then there were kid performers, and I don’t mean to denigrate them in any way by using the term “kid” but one was 9 and the other was 13 and I don’t know what else to call them but incredibly talented kids.

Ethiopian born Mehret Marsh is only 9 but made her Broadway debut in The Lion King, and she is the first African Young Nala on Broadway.

MEHRET MARSH SINGING “SUMMERTIME” IS IN THE LION KING PLAYING YOUNG NALA

Isabelle Gottfried, (no relation to Gilbert, … I asked! LOL) is almost 14 and did a rendition of Elton John’s “Take Me To The Pilot” that also had everybody out of their seats. Unbelievable talent!

13 YEAR OLD ISABELLE GOTTFRIED SINGING TAKE ME TO THE PILOT

Actor, writer, producer Ryan Willard acted as the auctioneer for an auction that offered a lot of back stage access to hit shows and concerts, and he was so good I was glad to be able to tell him so at the after party which was across the street at Carroll Place right on Bleecker. Great food and great ambiance. And Ryan was so good he raised a lot of money for the charity.

And the whole thing was MC’ed by a very funny and really entertaining guy named Ben Cameron who I told could have been a stand-up comic. He said what a lot of people say, that stand-up is too scary, yet he entertained people with humor for the whole three hour show. Not easy to do.

A new super-talent named Sam Behr (a female), considered as a “developing artist” performed during the regular show and then took the stage at the afterparty and stayed on the keyboards until I left around 1:30 A.M. playing requests of any 70’s hit the audience called out to her, and made me feel bad for not practicing the piano enough.

One woman approached me at the after party and asked if I “played”, expecting me to go up on stage. I explained to her that I just looked like a music guy, but that comedy was really my thing. Everyone always thinks I’m in the music business! I wonder why!

I Wonder Why?

The level of talent was just superb, but one woman really stood out for me, Morgan James who was in a body hugging flowered dress and did a song that makes my heart race. Well it was a combination of that song and that dress! (LOL) She did Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” like it came off the album. To this day the opening of that song gives me chills and makes me want to drive really fast! (LOL) It was a truly amazing rendition and I didn’t get to tell her at the after party so hopefully she’ll read this.

THE INCREDIBLE MORGAN JAMES SINGING “WHOLE LOTTA LOVE” THE WAY IT WAS MEANT TO BE SUNG!

One of my favorite songs of all time “My Sharona” by L.A. band “The Knack” back from 1979 was performed by Max Sangerman backed up on guitar by my new friend Tommy Brunett, who I sat with for most of the show.

MAX SANGERMAN FROM SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE ROCKING OUT TO MY SHARONA WITH TOMMY BRUNETT ON GUITAR

Alexa Ray Joel, (Billy’s daughter) did an awesome rendition of New York State of Mind featuring a tenor sax solo by my buddy Jay Leslie. A tenor sax is the closest sound to a human voice and he literally makes that instrument sing! I’m pretty sure Alexa Ray and I share a birthday on 12/29. Unfortunately I didn’t get to tell her that! However, … there’s always next year!

ALEXA RAY JOEL SINGING NEW YORK STATE OF MIND WITH A GREAT SAX SOLO BY JAY LESLIE AND TOMMY BYRNES ON GUITAR

And last but certainly not least Constantine Maroulis came our wearing an outfit that only he could wear, … an Elvis-like white fringed jumpsuit with fringes that came down to the floor, and closed out the show with an awesome rendition of Freddie Mercury’s “Mama, Just Killed A Man” from Bohemian Rhapsody. It was a very fitting close to a star-packed extravaganza, and what an amazingly beautiful voice he has. He hits those high notes like it’s nothing!

As you might be able to tell from what I wrote it was truly an amazing evening. There were so many more performers that I didn’t get to mention but every single one was star quality. Lifetime achievement awards were presented to Broadway star LaChanze, and Grammy Award winning record producer/songwriter Russ Titleman but the truth is that every single performer deserved an award. Can’t wait till next year!!!

Posted in: Jeffrey Gurian News

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Rick Newman Has The Comedy Midas Touch!

It’s always a good feeling when you can be happy for a friend’s success, and when your friend happens to be Rick Newman, you could literally be happy all the time! (LOL)

Rick and I go back a long way, as we were reminiscing on the phone the other day, and he was kind enough to give me a very special scoop which I will share with you Comedy Matters guys!

Rick Newman and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at the Friars Roast of Pat Cooper in 2007!

Rick and his partner, Peter Martin, have undertaken a complete overhaul of what was The Triad Theatre on West 72nd Street, (which has been owned by Peter for the last 16 years!), to come up with a place “non pareil” in New York nightlife, (in other words, that can not be compared to, for you non-linguists), which will tentatively be called “Variety 72 Theatre.”

A photo of the new, completely refurbished Triad Theatre, NY home of Celebrity Autobiography, on West 72nd Street. set to re-launch this coming November!

This is the former space where once a month, on Monday evenings, for the last four years, Rick has been offering his international hit “Celebrity Autobiography”, where celebs come in and read other celebs autobiographies, and audiences go crazy for it.

Some of the New York regulars who appear are Susie Essman, Joy Behar, Matthew Broderick, John Leguizamo, Martin Short, Brooke Shields, Mario Cantone, Sherri Shepherd, Alan Zweibel, Rachel Dratch, and Kristen Wiig! It’s like a Who’s Who of showbiz! And I hear there’s actually a waiting list of celebs who would like to appear.

This new expensively overhauled theatre is set to be re-launched this coming November, right in time to run a week of shows during Caroline Hirsch’s New York Comedy Festival. As a matter of fact, the entire month of November will feature new “avant garde” productions in comedy, music, one person shows, plays, and seminars, and right now I’m thinking about what I could present in that one-of-a-kind space! According to Rick, “there’s no other place quite like it”, and he should know!

They even installed a complete state-of-art projection unit for screenings plus a luxury green-room. Rick has always stayed current with trends so part of the transformation of the theater “is to make it flexible and be able to use as a studio for the Internet”, he said.

“It’s a natural extension of what Peter and I have been doing for many years … providing new platforms and exposure for new writers, musicians, comediennes, comedians, bands, original plays, one person shows, animation, short films,etc. We are hoping to be able to provide new original programming for the Internet and for fresh talent and their ideas.”

And it will be nice not to have to run all the way downtown for this experience, as many art houses are down in Tribeca. This is great because it’s on the Upper West Side! I can’t wait to take him up on his offer to give me a private tour!

And now with Rick’s collaboration with longtime friend Orin Wolf of Off Broadway Booking, (which is a hot beautique agency that takes successful Off-Broadway shows on the road), Celebrity Autobiography will be touring internationally as well. They always wanted to do something together and I think that this definitely falls into that category! (LOL)

As a Broadway producer Orin is involved with the new hit “Once” which opened to rave reviews on Sunday, March 18, 2012. A national tour will begin in the summer of 2013, and the cast recently appeared on The View.

ONCE has been nominated for 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It was recently named Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle, the Outer Critic Circle and the Lucille Lortel Awards. In addition, the production has been nominated for three Drama League Awards and five Drama Desk Awards.

And the story of how Rick came to be involved with Celebrity Autobiography is also a great story. Four years ago, our mutual friend Susie Essman, star of HBO’s hit “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, called Rick all excited and told him he needed to come and see her in this show Celebrity Autobiography. He went, and was hooked from the first night.

Rick Newman, Susie Essman, and Richie Tienken the day we did Rick and Susie’s interviews at The Comic Strip for the new book on the 35 year history of The Strip called “Make ‘Em Laugh”!

The four producers at the time, Peter Martin, Angelo Fraboni, Eugene Pack, and Dayle Reyfel, were seeking a fifth producer, and Rick became that producer, but with his own billing. It’s Peter Martin, Angelo Fraboni, Eugene Pack, and Dayle Reyfel in association with Rick Newman! That’s very cool!

The final part of this exclusive Rick Newman scoop is that on top of everything else, he is the Exec. Producer of a new online series for Comedy Central called “Thirty Seconds Over Washington” and it’s an updated version of a show he did 16 years ago for HBO, with Dennis Miller and Bill Maher.

It consists of political commercials with comics doing analyses and comedic commentary before and after the commercial. I love stuff like that because it’s so fun and so easy to poke fun at these pompous buffoons who take themselves so seriously, while making decisions that affect the course of all of our lives. This is a show I can’t wait to see. I’m not particularly political, but you don’t have to be Mort Sahl in order to see the humor in this type of stuff.

Rick appears in my new book with Chris Rock called “Make ‘Em Laugh- 35 Years of The Comic Strip, The Greatest Comedy Club Of All Time”, a book I wrote with Richie Tienken the owner and founder of The Comic Strip. What is especially nice about having Rick in the book is that at the end of 1972, Rick opened up the second big comedy club in New York City called “Catch A Rising Star”. The Strip opened in 1976.

Before that it was just Budd Friedman’s “Improv” which opened in 1963. Catch had regulars like Larry David, Robert Klein, David Brenner, and Billy Crystal. Richie Tienken was present when I did Rick’s interview at The Strip and Richie had the opportunity to tell Rick that he was his idol and the inspiration for The Comic Strip. That was a very special moment in comedy history and I felt privileged to be present for that, … with these two lions of comedy!

Rick Newman and Richie Tienken, the two “lions” of comedy at The Comic Strip, for the book I wrote with Richie called “Make ‘Em Laugh.”

When I launched Comedy Matters back in 1999, Rick was one of the first, if not THE first one-on-one interview I did, because I never wanted to just focus on the talent. I wanted Comedy Matters to also be about the people who made things happen in the comedy world, and Rick has always been one of those people.

Rick Newman being interviewed by Jeffrey Gurian for Jeffrey’s new column at the time called “Comedy Matters”, circa 1999. We both had darker hair and matching moustaches!

On top of everything else he does, Rick runs the Activities and Entertainment Committee at The Friars Club with Prior Stewie Stone, and plans special events for the club.

Rick Newman and Jeffrey Gurian of Comedy Matters TV at The Friars Club back in 2006!

We wish Rick lots of luck in all of his many endeavors!

Posted in: Celeb Photos, Comedians In The News, Comedy Clubs, Comedy Events, Comedy Matters, Featured, General Information, Nightlife Events, Red Carpet Events, Sketch Comedy, Variety Show

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