In 1986 and 1987, my theatre marketing company, M&M Productions, did marketing for group sales, subscription telemarketing and P.R. for theatres throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. One of those was at American Stage Company in Teaneck, New Jersey at Fairleigh Dickinson University. This was under Artistic Director, Paul Sorvino. Some ground breaking shows were
premiered here including "Other People's Money",
"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" and "Forever Plaid".
It was also with Paul Sorvino's help that I received the rights to write, direct and produce the adaptation of Stephen King's "Rage" which was staged at Rutger's University. Go to the Rutger's University tab for that information and pictures of the production.
A little side note. I actually drew the cartoon characters in the one subscription mailer and if you go back to 1976 and look at the tab Theatricum Botanicum, you'll see I drew that program cover too!
In the late 1970's, I re-opened this theatre in the basement / banquet area of an Italian restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. My first show was "110 in the Shade" but we didn't have enough actors (or room for that matter) so we did "The Rainmaker" with certain songs from the Broadway musical. Royalties were paid for both but we sold out constantly and it paid off. It also allowed me to work with a young Duane Daniels who later would do shows with me at the Cabaret Dinner Theatre before he went on to stardom. I also was able to work with Wendy Leonard, daughter of Jerry Leonard (famous in Cleveland for children shows) in "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown". For Jerry, I played a Prince in Half Past Wednesday at the Front Row - see the Front Row tab. Then I went on to work with Providence Hollander in a short run of "Jaques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris". She and I would later be in the movie "Those Lips Those Eyes" (see tab).
After Joseph opened, the next show was with WGAR and Channel 43 on air personality John Lannigan. Star Spangled Girl was a success and also starred Kathy Merk and a very talented actor that I had cast in "110 In The Shade" and in a smaller role in "Joseph..." His name is Duane Daniels, pictured above, and he has since gone on to stardom as an actor on stage and in film and TV. He founded the Fritz Theatre and has been a co-star on Tremors and a regular on Veronica Mars besides winning dozens of awards for stage and screen. This is his website: http://duanedaniels.com/
I had always loved the Frank Sinatra movie "Pal Joey" and was intrigued with staging that musical but found that the 1957 movie was very different from the 1940 Gene Kelly Broadway hit. Several musical numbers were added to the movie and I wanted to see that onstage so I adapted the movie back to the stage. This was one of the shows we took on tour to the Mansfield Renaissance, Marion Palace and the Canton Palace. The others were "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (we added the Ohio Theatre to this one), "The Mind With the Dirty Man" and our first hit "I'll Die If I Can't Live Forever". After the tour we rested with " Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf", "The Sunshine Boys" and our late night productions on Fridays and Saturdays of "Lone Star" and "Sexual Perversity In Chicago".
We also produced "Joyce Becker's Soap Opera Festival" where we had Michael Minor aka Brandon Kingsley from "All My Children" and Leslie Charleson aka Dr. Monica Quartermaine from "General Hospital" appear at Macy's department store and the Canton Football Hall of Fame for autograph signings and then a show that night. Before he left, Michael (who was also on "Petticoat Junction" as the pilot) saw me perform Joey Evans in "Pal Joey".
After several years at the Cabaret Dinner Theatre, I was approached by John Kenley to become his assistant at Kenley Players (see tab). It was a step up into Equity Theatre and eventually led to Broadway, but I think fondly of my time at the Cabaret Dinner Theatre.
We also cast a young singer for a production of "Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris". Her name was Sandra Kucinich and she was married at the time to Dennis Kucinich, the young mayor of Cleveland.
The final performances of "Joseph..." for me was at the Akron Civic Theatre. Look who my Vocal Director was! Tracy and I have done several shows together including the "Tribute to the Ed Sullivan Show" at the University Center Club. Truly my soulmate!
One of the greatest learning experiences of my life was when I was producing shows at the Cabaret Dinner Theatre in North Royalton, Ohio. I had been doing theatre at Bella Casa Dinner Theatre and was cast as Bo in "Bus Stop" at Cabaret when Executive Producer and owner Tom Asad approached me to take over the reins of the theatre. He was moving to Marion, Ohio to take over the just renovated Marion Palace. I had my company Marquee Productions and changed the name to M&M Productions so that I could produce shows in the 150 seat dinner theatre in the round, take those casts to Baldwin Wallace College with a standard proscenium stage, have sets built, rehearse with new blocking and take the shows on the road to 1,500 seat theatres such as the Mansfield Renaissance, the Canton Palace, the Akron Civic Theatre, the Marion Place and the Ohio Theatre in Columbus.
My start at the Cabaret Dinner Theatre was as an actor. I played Bo in "Bus Stop" opposite Barbara Corlette, who was well known in the Cleveland area. At one performance I had a very inebriated guy sitting right near the stage (and it was a very intimate, small stage in the round) who must of not liked my character because he mumbled that I was lady whipped (although he didn't use the word lady) and poured a beer on my cowboy boot that was on a chair right in front of him. It was a true lesson on not breaking the fourth wall. On another evening my eventual bride and forever soul mate came and saw me in Bus Stop. She must have liked me in it enough to eventually marry me twenty years later.
Following that I took over as Producer and our next two shows were "Wait Until Dark" and a musical about six young people breaking into Show Business at the Improvisation in New York. "I'll Die If I Can't Live Forever" became a signature show and I ended up directing it many years later at Garvin's Laugh Inn on Connecticut Ave. in Washington, D.C. Opening night at the Cabaret Dinner Theatre I had to go on in the place of an actor who had blown his voice and I did the first week's performances. We had reviewers and I actually got good reviews despite the fact that I made up more than a few of the lyrics. Hey, they rhymed! It has great musical numbers such as "My Life's a Musical Comedy" and the haunting duet "We're Strangers Who Sleep Side By Side".
In 1992 I directed two shows in the basement of the Days Inn Hotel (no longer there) in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It was right around the corner from
Marple Comics off George Street and I was paid with free parking for a year
and 50% of the ticket revenue (they kept the liquor and food). I cast the roles of Ray from "Lonestar" and Danny from "Sexual Perversity In Chicago" with a young talent named Steve Reisberg. He eventually graduated from Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Performing Arts and now teaches voiceover studies in
a studio he runs in Los Angeles. He has great comedic timing and is a fine actor.
I don't have any pictures of "Sexual Perversity In Chicago" and the one's I do of "Lonestar" are grainy but here they are. I also have a picture of my tech crew and two actors from my show adapted from a Stephen King novella, "Rage".
I graduated in April of 2008 from Florida State University summa cum laude with a MFA in Theatre Management. During this time I also produced shows at the University Center Club (see tab), marketed the productions at FSU, worked the box office, produced the "First Evening of Comedy" for the not-for-profit group Ability 1st (this inagural production starred Josh Blue who had just won "Last Coming Standing") and wrote, produced and directed "The USO Tribute Show" which raised tens of thousands of dollars for the College of Music, the School of Theatre and the FSU Circus. Here is the Highlight Reel for "The USO Tribute Show"!
Years after graduation, I was asked to perform a new work at FSU by
Corey Womak for the New Horizons Play Festival. When I heard the brilliant actress and acting teacher Debra Hale would star as my wife, I jumped in with all four feet. It was a marvelous show!
Garvin's Laugh Inn was located on Conn. Ave. in Washington D.C. The owner, Harry (can't remember his last name anymore), went into an agreement with me that I would produce shows and keep the ticket revenue and he would keep the two drink minimum and any Food. We both actually did fairly well. I directed three shows at Garvin's with each running about eight weeks.
My first show with a miniscule budget (I played Roy) was James McClure's "Lonestar". It was a show we had produced years ago at Cabaret Dinner
Theatre and it needed a small set and an intimate audience seating to
work well. We certainly had that. I would end up directing and producing
this show many times over the years. Due to the age,
these pictures are very grainy.
The next show I produced and directed was David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago". It also was a late night Cabaret Dinner Theatre show on the weekends and was a big seller at Garvin's. This is what I consider what not to do and how not to act in today's society! For some reason, although I have directed this show on several occasions, I do not have any pictures or video.
Could be a subconscious thing.
A signature show for me was the musical revue "I'll Die If I Can't Live Forever". It was the first one that I produced at the Cabaret Dinner Theatre and the image of the cast from that show in silouette was my logo for M&M Productions. When I cast this show at Garvin's we had several hundred actors audition and it was televised by the Washington D.C. T.V. stations. We had a
huge and memorable turnout.
After opening night we received great reviews and one in particular spoke of how brave I was to have an inter-racial couple on stage. I wasn't brave, they were just the best actors and singers for the roles. They knocked the song
"We're Strangers Who Sleep Side by Side" out of the park. I still get a kick out of watching the video (dvd now) of the show! Here are some
grainy pictures from the production!
In the mid 1980's I walked into George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey. I had just moved there after my time at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I met with Eric Krebs and we talked for about an hour. Then he offered me the Marketing Director's position and I accepted it. This was the begining of a wonderful and creative period of my theatre management career. I was able to market subscriptions, group sales, playbill ad sales and I had negotiated a nice
percentage of all sales I generated (and I generated quite a bit). I had 27 McDonalds hand out bag stuffers and use tray liners with our Theatre For Young Audiences performances on them. They also delivered Happy Meals to the theatre for groups. Playbill ad sales were tremendous and record breaking and we added nearly a thousand subscribers above prior year. It was a good time to be a
Tony Randall and Melissa Manchester were both gracious and charming. Tony gave my date and I a ride in the limo to the reception. He was a true theatre man. Both are pictured in the album above.
"The Rise of David Levinsky" was Eric Kreb's brainchild starring Laurence Luckinbill. He was very good in it and the show went on to moderate success. I remember one rehearsal sitting with his wife, Lucie Arnaz, and how down to earth she was.
In the late 70's, I had a chance to work with Townsend Coleman at the Greenbriar Theatre (now called the Cassidy Theatre) in Neil Simon's "Come Blow Your Horn".
I played Buddy Baker to Townsend's Alan Baker (my older brother in the play). I had played the same role 5 years earlier in Mansfield, Ohio. Townsend's comedic timing was impeccable and we had a hit show. During this time he invited me to WGCL, his radio station, and I did my very first professional voice tape with his help. He also had a sexy actress record my answering machine tape and my Mother left a very distraught message on it. I don't know, I thought it was pretty
cool but to keep peace in my family, I switched back to my normal message.
After I left for California to work on "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers" starring Debby Boone, Townsend took off like a rocket. He hosted a T.V. show similar to American Top 40 and then was a voiceover King with roles ranging from Michaelangelo in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" to the title role of the Tick in, you guessed it, "The Tick". Life is so strange that I would open Marple Comics at New Brunswick and Princeton, New Jersey and would eventually work with the creators and publishers of comic book characters and he would breathe life into them in animation work. What a great voice over talent and actor! I recently got in contact with him on Facebook and he is still knocking them dead!