“I've apparently been the victim of growing up, which apparently happens to all of us at one point or another. It's been going on for quite some time now, without me knowing it. I've found that growing up can mean a lot of things. For me, it doesn't mean I should become somebody completely new and stop loving the things I used to love. It means I've just added more things to my list. Like for example, I'm still beyond obsessed with the winter season and I still start putting up strings of lights in September. I still love sparkles and grocery shopping and really old cats that are only nice to you half the time. I still love writing in my journal and wearing dresses all the time and staring at chandeliers. But some new things I've fallen in love with -- mismatched everything. Mismatched chairs, mismatched colors, mismatched personalities. I love spraying perfumes I used to wear when I was in high school. It brings me back to the days of trying to get a close parking spot at school, trying to get noticed by soccer players, and trying to figure out how to avoid doing or saying anything uncool, and wishing every minute of every day that one day maybe I'd get a chance to win a Grammy. Or something crazy and out of reach like that. ;) I love old buildings with the paint chipping off the walls and my dad's stories about college. I love the freedom of living alone, but I also love things that make me feel seven again. Back then naivety was the norm and skepticism was a foreign language, and I just think every once in a while you need fries and a chocolate milkshake and your mom. I love picking up a cookbook and closing my eyes and opening it to a random page, then attempting to make that recipe. I've loved my fans from the very first day, but they've said things and done things recently that make me feel like they're my friends -- more now than ever before. I'll never go a day without thinking about our memories together.”
As sales of CDs plunged over the last decade, songwriters clung to one comfort: downloads continued to sell briskly as people filled their computers and iPods with songs by the billions. Now even that certainty seems to have disappeared, as downloads head toward decline. So far this year, 1.01 billion track downloads have been sold in the United States, down 4 percent from the same time last year, according to the tracking service Nielsen SoundScan. Album downloads are up 2 percent, to 91.9 million; combining these results using the industry’s standard yardstick of 10 tracks to an album, total digital sales are down almost 1 percent. After enjoying double-digit growth in the years after Apple opened its iTunes store in 2003, song downloads began to cool several years ago. But the rate of decline this year — weekly sales began to lag in February, and the drop has accelerated rapidly in recent months — has caught the business by surprise. A possible cause are streaming music services like Pandora, Spotify and YouTube. After a decade, consumers may be losing interest in buying downloads and instead turning to the streaming services, which make millions of songs available at the tap of a smartphone app, free or for a few dollars a month.
Disney will hold a developmental lab of a new stage adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, based on the 1996 animated film and classic Victor Hugo novel, which will take place in New York City in early 2014, according to an Equity casting notice. Featuring a score by composer Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, "Pocahontas") and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Pippin, Wicked, "Pocahontas"), the upcoming lab will feature a new book by The Cider House Rules playwright Peter Parnell, who also penned the book for the revised 2011 Broadway production of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame made its original stage premiere in a German-language production that opened in Berlin in 1999 with a book by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods).
Book and Lyrics of that production were adapted for the German stage by Guess Who.
The new version, to be helmed by Scott Schwartz, will be a departure from the earlier stage adaptation. According to Disney, "This is a reinvention of the 1999 German production Der Glockner von Notre Dame, with an eye toward a possible regional theatre production. This new approach to the material incorporates a 'story theatre' style of dramatization in an intimate staging. The epic tale is set in late 15th century Paris. The Hunchback of Notre Dame investigates 'what makes a monster and what makes a man.'"
I just read in the New York Times that YouTube will soon unveil a paid subscription service for music that will compete with outlets like Spotify, according to several people briefed on the company’s plans. YouTube, a division of Google, plans to introduce it by the end of the year, perhaps as early as next month, these people said. Subscriptions, at about $10 a month, would be tailored to mobile devices, and give users access to YouTube’s vast catalog of music videos without interruptions from advertising. The service will also let customers temporarily store videos on their smartphones and tablets to watch offline, according to these people, who were not authorized to discuss the service publicly. The new service, whose name was not known, would solve problems for both YouTube and the music industry. Mobile access to YouTube has exploded lately — Google recently announced that 40 percent of YouTube’s traffic is mobile, compared with 6 percent just two years ago — but the lower advertising rates on tablets and smartphones have caused some music labels to block their content from those devices. Through the subscription deals, YouTube would gain the licenses it needs to stream music to any device.In exchange, record labels, music publishers and authors, which have long complained that YouTube’s per-stream payouts were very low compared with other services, would earn higher royalty rates. Music companies would also be able to tame somewhat the chaos of content on YouTube by organizing music in full albums and playlists. Executives say that would be a help in promoting artists on the service, which has become the default listening platform for young consumers.
The critically acclaimed West End revival of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Merrily We Roll Along, directed by Olivier Award winner Maria Friedman, is screened in cinemas across the U.S. Oct. 23 by CinemaLive and Digital Theatre. The revival premiered at the Menier Chocolate Factory in fall 2012 and began its West End engagement April 23 at the Harold Pinter Theatre for a limited run through July 27. The 7 PM screening also includes backstage interviews with the cast. Many screenings in the New York area have already sold out. Visit Fathomevents.com for ticket information. "This production of Merrily We Roll Along is not only the best I've seen, but one of those rare instances where casting, direction and show come together in perfect combination, resulting in the classic ideal of the sum being greater than the parts," Sondheim said in an earlier statement.
“Paris was a universe whole and entire unto herself, hollowed and fashioned by history; so she seemed in this age of Napoleon III with her towering buildings, her massive cathedrals, her grand boulevards and ancient winding medieval streets--as vast and indestructible as nature itself. All was embraced by her, by her volatile and enchanted populace thronging the galleries, the theaters, the cafes, giving birth over and over to genius and sanctity, philosophy and war, frivolity and the finest art; so it seemed that if all the world outside her were to sink into darkness, what was fine, what was beautiful, what was essential might there still come to its finest flower. Even the majestic trees that graced and sheltered her streets were attuned to her--and the waters of the Seine, contained and beautiful as they wound through her heart; so that the earth on that spot, so shaped by blood and consciousness, had ceased to be the earth and had become Paris.”
Seventeen years ago I met Roman Polanski in Paris to discuss with him my adaptation of his movie, Le Bal des Vampires, for the musical theatre stage. We had lunch in a typical Parisian restaurant and a bottle of good red wine. I explained to him what I intended to do, and showed him my first exposé. Roman was very generous. He gave me all the liberty I needed to turn his wonderful film into a great musical libretto. Today the Mogador Theater will announce which show will open the fall season a year from now. After all the show comes back to the city where it all began.
Why are teenagers so fascinated by vampires? I believe that myth does for them what fairy tales do for little kids, it helps them overcome their fears. The bite of the vampire clearly has a sexual meaning, the blood turns a girl into a woman, and Transylvania is the cruel world out there. It is so much better to laugh all that away than to be horrified.
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus' international hit musical Mamma Mia! will return to Las Vegas in spring 2014 with an open-ended run at The New Tropicana. The original Las Vegas production of Mamma Mia! ended its six-year run at the Mandalay Bay Theatre Jan. 4, 2009. Mamma Mia! employs the hit songs of famed pop group ABBA to tell the story of Sophie Sheridan, a young girl who hopes to discover the identity of her father. On the eve of her wedding, she brings three men from her mother Donna's past back to the Greek island they visited over two decades ago.The show features music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, a book by Catherine Johnson, direction by Phyllida Lloyd and choreography by Anthony Van Laast. In New York, the musical plays the Winter Garden Theatre, which is located at 1634 Broadway.Mamma Mia! is produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East & Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal. By now, the show has made three times the revenue of all the combined ABBA record sales.
“The worst thing you can do is censor yourself as the pencil hits the paper. You must not edit until you get it all on paper. If you can put everything down, stream-of-consciousness, you'll do yourself a service.”
Stephen Sondheim is considering a major revision of his 1970 musical “Company,” a project that the New York Roundabout Theater Company plans to produce. The biggest change in this new “Company” would be the central character of Bobby. Whereas he has always been a straight man struggling with commitment issues and multiple girlfriends, he will now be reconceived as a gay man with commitment issues and multiple boyfriends. For years Sondheim, who is gay, and the musical’s book writer, George Furth, who died in 2008, batted back suggestions that Bobby was furtively intended to be a closeted gay man. Now Steve Sondheim agreed to such a change. “It’s still a musical about commitment, but marriage is seen as something very different in 2013 than it was in 1970,” Mr. Sondheim said to the New York Times. “We don’t deal with gay marriage as such, but this version lets us explore the issues of commitment in a fresh way.”
England's most infamous king Henry VIII was obsessed by the wish for a male heir. His union with Catherine of Aragon produced only a girl, Mary Tudor. When the Pope refused Henry be divorced, Henry broke with the Roman Church, thereby forging a divided England. He declared himself head of the English church, had his first marriage declared "null and void'' and married Anne Boleyn. Unfortunately she couldn't fulfill her royal husband's wish to have a son. She only gave birth to girl, Elizabeth. That sealed her fate. Anne Boleyn was beheaded, and Henry married Jane Seymour, who did have a short-lived male heir, Edward VI. To continue his matrimonial marathon after Seymour's natural death, Henry married and divorced Anne of Cleves, followed by Catherine Howard, whom he beheaded, and then married Catherine Parr, all without a living male heir. After Henry's death, his devout Catholic daughter, Mary, became queen and an enemy of Protestants. She regarded the teenage Elizabeth as a threat to her and tried everything to prevent her succession to the throne. She kept her a prisoner in the Tower of London but was unable to find hard evidence of treason before the Privy Council Court. Elizabeth became a heroine of the Protestants and queen after Mary's death. It's almost a miracle that she survived. What made me decide to make her the heroine of my new musical, Lady Bess, is that she achieved this by courage, valor and sharp intelligence.
Truth is, I'll never know all there is to know about you just as you will never know all there is to know about me. Humans are by nature too complicated to be understood fully. So, we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candour.
On October 10, 2013 Adam Hetrick of Playbill.com reports:
The Securities and Exchange Commission will not pursue action against embattled Rebecca producers Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, according to a report in the New York Times.
The S.E.C.'s decision follows a full investigation, which involved "countless documents being turned over about how the Rebecca producers conducted their business," the Times reports.
Sprecher and Forlenza are now hoping for a fall 2014 Broadway arrival for Rebecca. As previously reported, Thomas Drozda of VBW has extended Sprecher's window into 2014 to raise the capital necessary to produce Rebecca on Broadway.
The producers are hopeful that the S.E.C.'s decision to clear them from wrongdoing will encourage investors to provide the remaining $5 million needed for Rebecca's $16 million Broadway capital.
In 2008 Sprecher and Forlenza announced a 2010 targeted Broadway premiere for the dark pop musical. Rebecca found itself in peril last fall when Sprecher, who believed capitalization was complete, pulled the trigger on the start of set and costume construction. It was later discovered that Long Island businessman Mark C. Hotton had fabricated the name of an investor who pledged the final $4.5 million for the production.
In July, Hotton pleaded guilty to two counts of defraud, one involving Rebecca and another separate plot to defraud a Connecticut real estate company. Hotton also faces charges in another, separate money laundering case.
The producers continue their case against the show's former press representative Marc Thibodeau for breach of contract and defamation.
Rebecca has original book and lyrics by Michael Kunze, music by Sylvester Levay, English book adaptation by two-time Tony Award winner Christopher Hampton (Sunset Boulevard) and English lyrics by Hampton and Kunze.
"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life."
"I could choose to tell my story this way: 'I arrived with $250 in my pocket, and got where I am based entirely on my hard work.' This is true, but it's not the whole truth .... Every day I benefit from schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, parks, and civic amenities that were built and paid for by previous generations who were much less well off than we are today. Yet they had the collective will to invest in their future and the future of their children. I am worried, though, that things are changing in America. The kinds of public investments that made my success possible are vanishing ... But during the last decade, taxpayers in my income group received significant tax breaks ... Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized and healthy society. Those of us who have disproportionately benefited from public investments have a responsibility to pay back our society so that others can have similar opportunities."
I assume there are a lot of songwriters and other musicians among the reader of this blog. Let me tell you about an article by Ben Sisaro in yesterday's New York Times you'll find interesting. It is about David Lowery, a member of the US-bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. Lowery has come to represent the anger of musicians in the digital age. He has attacked Pandora for trying to lower royalty rates, accused Google of masterminding a broad anti-copyright campaign and compared people who doubt the effect of piracy on musicians to those who think President Obama is a Muslim. The issue has become hot as technology companies like Pandora and Google have replaced major record labels as the villains of choice for industry critics. Like most musicians, Mr. Lowery has seen his royalties fall with the overall drop in record sales. In 2002, his share of songwriting royalties from sales of the first Camper Van Beethoven album (released in 1985) was $1,147; last year it was about $440, a 62 percent decline. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, the value of record sales and streams fell about 44 percent in that time, to $7.1 billion last year, from $12.6 billion in 2002. The numbers of GEMA, SACEM and JASRAC look very similar. At the same time, the nature of royalties has changed, going from larger payments attached to CDs and downloads to fractions of a penny from streaming services. Pandora, for example, pays record labels and performers a combined 0.12 cent every time it streams a song; Spotify’s rates are not disclosed but are usually estimated at around half a cent per stream. YouTube refuses since years to give authors a fair royalty. Like most songwriters I share Lowery's anger. Fortunately I'm in a position to turn down every streaming request for my songs, because what I see in the end for even solid hits (if I see anything) is a royality payment that doesn't pay a Macdonald's lunch.
The publicist for the troubled Broadway musical "Rebecca," which was torpedoed by a financier's fraud, can't yet escape its producers' lawsuit, a New York state judge ruled Monday, but the judge also said public relations professionals don't owe fiduciary duties to their clients.
During a hearing, Justice Jeffrey K. Oing allowed breach of contract and defamation claims to continue against Marc Thibodeau, who was supposed to promote the show that fell apart when the producers were conned by former stockbroker Mark Christopher Hotton's false claims that he'd help raise money for the show.
But the judge said that the producers' contract with Thibodeau clearly prohibited a fiduciary relationship between them — the judge pointed to the "buzzwords" of partner, joint venture and principal — and that he was reluctant to create a new standard for public relations professionals akin to the one investment advisers are held to.
"The public relations industry would gasp" if he created that rule, Judge Oing said during the hearing in his downtown Manhattan courtroom.
The contract and defamation claims, however, were sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss, since they were backed by allegations in the complaint that painted a picture of a nefarious vendetta against the production, the judge said.
"They got the evil eye from someone," Judge Oing said. "It read like a Tom Clancy spy novel."
Hotton, who is also a defendant in the producers' lawsuit, pled guilty in July to federal prosecutors' charges that he'd defrauded the producer by promising to raise money for the production based on Daphne du Maurier's 1938 novel "Rebecca" but instead made up fake investors.
The producers, Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, launched their state court lawsuit against Hotton last fall, and later Thibodeau, too, seeking $100 million in damages.
They've accused Thibodeau of sabotaging the show by sending fictitious emails to another potential investor, who was contemplating a $2.25 million investment, that warned that Hotton's fraud threatened the show's viability.
Thibodeau's attorney, Marco A. Santori of Nesenoff & Miltenberg LLP, said during the hearing Monday that the allegations were "preposterous" and had nothing to do with Thibodeau's role as the musical's public relations agent, anyway.
But Erik S. Groothuis of Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP, who represents the show's producers, argued that the complaint clearly showed that Thibodeau had allegedly violated his contract to promote the show by using assumed names and stealing confidential information that he mixed with lies to hurt the show.
The show's producers are represented by Erik S. Groothuis of Schlam Stone & Dolan LLP.
Thibodeau is represented by Marco A. Santori of Nesenoff & Miltenberg LLP.
Besides being the center of fashion and the paradise of lovers, Paris is a city of of art and entertainment. Nevertheless for a long time none of the famous Broadway and West End musicals made a splash here. Not even "Les Miserables" had a long run production in Paris. A few years ago the Dutch Stage Entertainment Company rented the legendary Mogador Theatre and turned it in a musical palace, and since that time the art form of the musical has found a home in France. So far, Cabaret, Mamma Mia, Sister Act and Beauty and the Beast had successful runs at the Mogador.
"Writers of my sort are so habitually alert to coincidence that the word itself seems inadequate. In novels in which the coincidences show up, they will usually be described and read not as haphazard coincidence but as devastating or farcical destiny. From the time of Hesiod and Sappho, Catullus and Li Po, lovers of literature as well as writers have known about and felt the interfusion of life and art. Some writers have been embarrassed to acknowledge it. Like Henry James they burn their papers; like T. S. Eliot they forbid biographies and deprecate their celebrated work as little more than lyrical grouses. If they descend from Olympian detachment, they hunt for odd excuses like the one Thomas Mann used to explain the origins of "The Magic Mountain": it's due, he wrote, to "the healthy and sympathetic attitude of the American mind toward the personal, the anecdotal and the intimately human." The intimately human is of more or less intimate interest to almost everyone, including those who despise the stoking of ego furnaces and like Michael Foucault dismiss the authority, if not the very idea, of authorship. The chief social role of writers may well be the extension, complication and enrichment of human intimacy. It is exercised through story, the oldest and most pleasurable way of organizing experience. The primacy of story wasn't first declared by Oscar Wilde or Stéphane Mallarmé, James Joyce or Marcel Proust. It's older than Genesis. Homer's "Odyssey" offers one of the most remarkable versions of it. This comes near the end of Book 8, in which King Alcinous tells the disguised Odysseus to stop weeping at the song the blind bard Demodocus is singing about him and his fellow Hellenic heroes. After all, Alcinous tells him, the gods "measured the life thread of these men so that their fate might become a poem sung for unborn generations." No wonder writers in this long tradition can sometimes feel that we've been conscripted for work that, though it may rip up a portion — or much — of our lives, is of imperative, if not uniquely redemptive, importance."
"The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough."
On occasion of the presentation of a handful of songs from the score of his up-coming new musical Stephen Ward, Andrew Lloyd Webber discussed the impetus behind his new show. ALW still remembers the actual event that is the theme of Stephen Ward as it happened in the late 1960s, "I was very young at the time. I remember the whole so-called Profumo Affair... I suppose I must have been suggested the idea as an idea for a musical many, many times, but I never thought it was a good one." Continuing, he said, "I thought I would research it a bit, and I looked into the story... I found it extraordinary, really." As for the dramatic pull of the project: "A very odd, odd story in that: how could this man end up in the chamber of horrors at Madame Tussaud's? It was sort of, in a way, the last gasp of the old establishment... to suppress something that they didn't want and to find a scapegoat, and that's what this show is really about... We present it as it happened, if history somehow relays or feels the verdict was unsound or whatever, we end with Ward's suicide, so we probably say all that we need to say." Stephen Ward features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with book and lyrics by Don Black and Christopher Hampton as well as direction by Richard Eyre. The musical begins previews in the West End on December 3.
My friend Rudi sent me the link to this clip which documents Paul McCartney visiting the Motown museum in New York where he met Barry Gordy. As you can see both were in a great mood when they (kind of) performed "Money - That's What I Want", an early Motown oldie recorded first by Barrett Strong and later by The Rolling Stones, The Supremes and The Beatles.
"I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip."
The American Theater Wing celebrated Hal Prince's 85th birthday in the Grand Ballroom at the Plaza Hotel New York. Hal received a lot of praise, but I bet he would have preferred some of his admirers to write some checks instead. Since about 27 years a project called the ‘Prince of Broadway’ is waiting for investors to believe in it. Several producers have tried in vain to raise the $13 million of the projected budget. The show is to include popular songs from shows that Mr. Prince has produced or directed over the last 60 years, a run that began with “The Pajama Game” and “Damn Yankees” in the 1950s, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (1962), “Sweeney Todd” (1979), and of course "Evita" and "Phantom Of The Opera". Now it looks like a Japanese producer will do it. Some of Mr. Prince’s friends regard this as an outright scandal, and argue that Broadway producers and theater owners should have stepped up to invest because they have made millions of dollars from his musicals. “Phantom” alone has grossed $925 million on Broadway. At the gala, Hal Prince expressed optimism about the project's future. He said to a reporter of the New York Times: “Everything’s going very well with developing the show, and we’ll have the financing, and we’ll do four weeks in Tokyo and then open on Broadway in early 2016.” I love Japan!