Some good end of decade reading.
This picture of me was taken at the Times Square Visitors Center, in front of the 2010 NYC New Years Eve Ball.
Recording this week's CitizeNYC podcast Two Beers In, we weren't having any beer because it was Saturday morning instead of Friday night. Greg & I soberly cover the storm of the century, homelessness, suing the Catholic Church, and more. You can listen here, or subscribe free on iTunes.
If you're concerned about youth homelessness, consider contributing to NYC's Ali Forney Center.
I chimed in on The Hill's Big Question today.
How will Lieberman's stance on healthcare affect him politically?
Impact Joe Lieberman politically? This is a guy who hasn't behaved responsibly politically in years. Remember his incredibly sad, ill-manged 2004 Presidential campaign? Where, after the New Hampshire primary, he said one of my favorite quotes of that race, "We are in a three-way split decision for third place!" Remember when he bucked his party and ran for Senate as an independent after being defeated in the Democratic Senate primary? Or, that time he supported Republican John McCain for President over Barack Obama. That didn't make any sense politically either, but he did it. Now, Joe decides to completely reverse his views on the Medicare expansion, just to be a jerk. Lieberman constantly surprises me with his ability to avoid any and all consequences for his actions. Why should this move be any different.
Creating Something New
Creating a new work is about more than just a great idea. People have ideas all the time, but few follow-up on them and allow them to grow. Even fewer actually complete them. No matter what you’re creating (a musical, film, book, etc.) you’re going to need support. Even the most individual arts require feedback. In my experience, creating theatre is a total ensemble activity. You don’t know what you’ve got until actors and designers have provided their interpretations and visions. Successful creators never get too caught up in themselves or lose focus on the ones who’ve contributed to “their” creation.
We're performing Street Lights at the American Theatre of Actors (ATA) on 54th Street, a unique space where Urinetown and Bare premiered Off-Broadway. The stage has a U-shaped catwalk surrounding it, that's totally perfect for our urban setting.
Hilary Noxon's design smartly incorporates all the elements in the space. I love the focus on the windows. Above is the concept sketch from earlier in the process and below is the brand new 1/2" model. Our lighting designer, Brian Tovar, is putting these little lights in a handful of windows so they'll really pop. It should look awesome.
Tickets are on-sale and selling well, and you can get yours at our official website.
An Orange County school district where varsity athletes threatened to rape and kill the lead actress in a student production of the musical "Rent" has agreed to provide harassment and discrimination prevention training to Corona del Mar High School students, teachers and administrators and other district officials, according to a legal settlement announced Wednesday. The Newport-Mesa Unified School District will also apologize to the former student.I wish they'd have been able to fire their Principal, Fal Asrani, who seemed completely uninterested in protecting her students. Fal herself is one of the bigots that needs discrimination prevention training.
There is a lot of anger from the left about what's being seen as Obama capitulating to the Republicans on Health Insurance Reform. During the campaign Obama favored a Public Option. Now, the Public Option appears in danger and many liberals don't think "real" reform is possible without it.
In a perfect world, I'm for the most progressive health reform possible. But, our world is far from perfect and politics is the art of the possible. There are 47 million people in America without health insurance and they don't care if it's a public or private option that provides it. They just want access to quality health care.
A few days ago Matthew Yglesias wrote where he stood on health care and I found myself agreeing with him.
In summer 2003, I moved to Burlington, Vermont to join Howard Dean's Presidential Campaign. One of Dean's main draws for me, besides his brave stance on the Iraq War, was his success at providing near-universal health insurance to Vermont's residents. He did this without a Public Option.
— In terms of the present-day political debate, I think mandate-regulate-subsidize plus a public option would be a major improvement over the status quo.
— But even though mandate-regulate-subsidize without a public option wouldn’t be as good, I still think it would be an improvement over the status quo.
— I don’t think reform advocates should “drop” the public option; I think they should fight for it and try to bring practical pressure to bear on members of the Senate to vote for one.
— But if in the final standoff we get a choice between mandate-regulate-subsidize and the status quo, I would prefer to take mandate-regulate-subsidize.
Dean's plan would have insured millions fewer people than the bills being considered in the House or the bill that we think we'll see out of the Senate.I admire the liberals in the House who say they won't vote for a bill that doesn't contain a Public Option, but I hope in the end they put a reform bill on Obama's desk to sign. As Paul Starr says in the current issue of American Prospect, "if any of them actually do vote against the final bill and prevent it from passing because it fails to offer a public option, they will help to ruin the best chance in years to put health care on a path toward reform."
For all that, it was a good and well-meaning plan. But it was a lot worse than what we're considering now. It was a lot worse even than the compromises we're considering now.
I'm now part of The Hill's Big Question section, where they ask their pundits for opinions on topics throughout the week.
Friday's Big Question was: "What should President Obama be more concerned about: Passing healthcare reform, or improving the economy?"
It’s disingenuous to suggest that Obama can seriously improve the economy without real health care reform. Heath Care spending represents 17% of America’s GDP and that number is forecasted to grow to 20% by 2017. Too much of this money comes out of the pockets of individuals and small businesses. Anyone serious about trying to fix the economy in a long-term way has to look to serious health care reform as a major part of the solution.
In 2006, Dobbs ran several segments on the Amero, an imaginary currency that he believes will be shared by North America and replace the U.S. dollar. That same year he called for a new Sept. 11 investigation, vaguely citing the many "9/11 lies" told to Americans. Another favorite myth Dobbs reported on in 2008 is the NAFTA Superhighway, which (according to Lou's reporting) would extend from Mexico to Canada. None of these stories had a factual basis, and CNN repeatedly failed to exercise any editorial judgment.
Lou Dobbs has even appeared as a guest on leading Sept. 11 Truther and "Birther" Alex Jones's radio program and was sympathetic to Alex's rants. Knowing Lou, he probably believes the pressure to fire him is coming from the Illuminati and the New World Order. CNN needs to move quickly and remove Dobbs from their lineup to prevent further embarrassment. It's been a long time coming.
The New York City stage is packed this summer and the three Off-Broadway productions I'm recommending, Ruined, The Temperamentals, and Jeffery & Cole: Make It Bigger, all represent the wonderful diversity of offerings currently available to theatergoers.
Ruined, which won the Pulitzer Prize this year, is the story of Mama Nadi, a women who owns a brothel in the middle of a civil war in the Congo. Loosely inspired by Brecht's Mother Courage, Ruined offers us a glimpse into the lives of these women as they struggle to survive. It's one powerful story.
The script feels authentic and was carefully researched and developed by interviewing women who live in the region under these deplorable conditions. The production has been running for months at Manhattan Theatre Club, but is still fresh, vital, and beautifully performed.
I'd be shocked if Ruined doesn't get a shot at Broadway soon.
Playing until August 23rd, The Temperamentals is the true story of the creation of American's first gay rights group. Staged both simply & beautifully in the intimate Barrow Group Theater, you feel as if you're a part of their early organizing - both victories & defeats. The entire cast is fabulous; lead with strength by Thomas Jay Ryan and Ugly Betty's Michael Urie.
Harry Hay, the founder of The Temperamentals, wasn't as known to me as Stonewall or Harvey Milk, but he's courageous and intelligent. Anyone currently involved in the fight for gay equality (and who believe it has to do with way more than marriage) will find lots to like in Hay's philosophies. He's no fan of total gay assimilation, and would question the value in the current pursuit of a strictly heteronormative agenda.
In fact, shortly before his death (at the age of 90) in 2002 Hay said, "The assimilationist movement is running us into the ground." Amen brother.
For big laughs, with zero assimilation, head downtown to Earl Dax's Hot! Festival. Queer performers have taken over the uber-trendy Dixon Place. Two of those performers are my good friends Jeffery Self and Cole Escola, extremely funny guys who have scored quite a hit with their current Logo TV show Jeffery & Cole Casserole.
Jeffery & Cole's Hot! Festival offering, 'Make It Bigger,' is loosely based on their story, from YouTube to the boob tube. Wonderfully raunchy and politically incorrect their rise to fame story has lots of familiar elements and big laughs. You can see their final performance on Thursday night.
Ryan is a freelance theater director, who is currently directing Vote! at FringeNYC and Street Lights at NYMF. His musical White Noise recently premiered regionally in New Orleans. Read his blog here.
Mitchell Maxwell, another flop king, is causing such strife that he's been banned from his own show, the Broadway-bound musical "White Noise." The volatile producer verbally abused his creative team, frightened his actors and threw such a temper tantrum in the lobby of the Omni Hotel that terrified guests called the police, several production sources told The Post. "I have never experienced anything this crazy in my life," one member of the creative team says. "He is not a stable man."Don't miss any of the details, it's crazy. The stuff they couldn't print will probably make it into a screenplay of mine someday.
VOTE! The new ‘cartoon' musical about high school election espionage premiers as part of the 13th annual New York International Fringe Festival- FringeNYC - starring Deidre Goodwin and Morgan Karr.Not officially announced, but on the website: Kevin Michael Murphy (Craig Stevens!) and Nina Sturtz (The Battery's Down). Check out the full article. Also, visit Vote's new website. I'm excited to start rehearsal, stay tuned for the full cast.
Vote! will play the historic Minetta Lane Theatre, a 400 seat Off-Broadway house. This will be the first production in New York City. A workshop production of Vote! was recently staged with students from the University of Indiana in Bloomington.
Ryann Ferguson and Steven Jamail's award winning partnership began 8 years ago at Rice University. Together, they have collaborated on numerous projects including 2005 Fringe Festival show, Byzantium and the Harper's Guild Award winning aria, "Lotus Song." The two have joined forces again with their long-time director, Ryan J. Davis (Street Lights - NYMF '09 & White Noise), a noted political pundit with The Hill and The Huffington Post.
Joining the team for FringeNYC is choreographer, Rachelle Rak, a veteran Broadway performer and recently of Every Little Step film fame. Other new additions are lighting designer Brian Tovar (Perez Hilton Saves the Universe) and Hilary Noxon (In The Heights) as set designer.
Previous cast members, Krystal Joy Brown (RENT National Tour), Landon Beard (Altar Boyz), and Tracy Weiler, continue on with the project. The full twenty-person cast will be announced soon.
VOTE! The Musical
AEA New York International Fringe Festival Code
AEA/non-AEA (Pending Equity Approval)
Director: Ryan J. Davis
Book & Lyrics: Ryann Ferguson
Music: Steven Jamail
Choreographer: Rachelle Rak
Casting: Daryl Eisenberg Casting
Auditions (by appointment): June 29-30
Rehearses: Mid-July/Aug 2009, flexible schedule
Performances: Festival is Aug 14-30 2009, show times pending
More Info At: www.votethemusical.com
SUBMIT VIA E-MAIL ASAP
SYNOPSIS: At GVHS, it hardly matters who will lead student council. But try telling that to candidates running and people who love them (or hate them). For them, the rest of their lives hinge on who can get the most votes.
NOTE: VOTE! The Musical, a cartoon masquerading as live action show, offers a sharp, campy look at elections and the moral dilemmas they produce. The bright, energetic score drives fast from the onset of the campaign to the voting booth. It is HAIRSPRAY meets YOU'RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN meets ELECTION. Substance disguised as cuteness. All heart disguised as satire. All students should actually be 18-25 years old.
[MUFFIN PASQUINELLI] 17 y.o. Caucasian female. Stunningly beautiful. The valedictorian of GVHS, Muffin has a secret she has finally admitted to herself: she’s really just not that smart. She's only running for president because her mom wants her to attend law school, but secretly – in her heart of hearts – all Muffin wants to do is be a flight attendant! LEAD. HIGH F - BELT/STRONG MIX
[MARK] 17 y.o. Caucasian male. An evil nerd who has been pushed out of everything he feels he deserves by Muffin. He's very ambitious. He loves power and is distracted by very little else. Now, he decides to exact revenge when MUFFIN goes after the one thing he really wants - Student Council President! LEAD. MUST HAVE STRONG FALSETTO.
[NIKKI] 17 y.o. African American female. A super politically-correct African-American Role Model. But she is not an advertisement for her ethnicity. She struggles with how much she wants her race to define her. LEAD. BELT/MIX.
[TRISH] 17 y.o. female. MUFFIN's yes man, always in the shadow. All that changes when she discovers that while she’s good at being a side kick, she’s even better at being a villainous side kick. LEAD. CHARACTER BELT
[MS VENORA FOWLER] Late 20s-40s African American female. GVHS’s sassy, whimsical, government teacher. With a soft spot in her heart for Denzel Washington, David Justice and Tyson Beckford, she also has a talent for creating mnemonic devices and telling it like it is. LEAD. BELT/STRONG MIX
[MIKE] 20s male. Slick, buff snowboarder, boy band type. CAST: LANDON BEARD.
[BRODY] 18 y.o. male. The dumbest, hottest jock there is and current student council president. SUPPORTING
[ANGELICA] 17 y.o. female. The dumbest, hottest blonde cheerleader there is and Muffin's follower through and through. CAST: TRACY WEILER
[NATHAN] 17 y.o. male. A serious minion to MARK. Puts up with all of Mark’s schemes, echoes his agenda. Overly invested in everything Mark does. Secretly pines for MUFFIN. Lots of physical comedy. SUPPORTING. STRONG TENOR.
[ENSEMBLE] 17 y.o. males and females. Jocks, nerds, and the precious ones in between. Several featured roles. Must be able to dance. Please submit Non-Eqs as well!
The new rock musical Gage, Part One receives its first reading on Wednesday, June 10th. Featuring a rock score by Ryan Mercy, lyrics by Christopher Barnes, and a book by Cameron Cole, Gage buzzes with a youthful energy and features an equally electric cast. Performers include Logan Lipton (Wicked, Cupid and Psyche), Kevin Greene (Grease: You‘re the One that I Want, A Tale of Two Cities), Auri Marcus, Kevin T. Curtis, Heath Calvert (Good Vibrations), Desiree Rodriguez, and Jessica Waxman.
The performance is directed by Ryan J. Davis (White Noise, Broadway Beauty Pageant).
Gage, Part One takes the genre of the superhero origin story and turns it completely on its head.
Ben is obsessed with comic books, so obsessed that he has been writing them since he was a teenager with his best friend and artist Noel. It is no surprise then that when Noel saves a stranger's life on the subway by pushing her out of the way of an oncoming train, Ben begins to believe that Noel is a true superhero. Thus begins the origin of Gage, a vigilante who can stop time by use of a special watch. Once a mere fictional creation of Ben, Gage is now brought to life by the real-life good-doings of Noel. Gage faces plenty of evil and danger but is finally forced to confront his greatest nemesis, Ben, when it becomes clear that all is not as it seems.
Gage, Part One is presented Wednesday, June 10th at 7:00 PM at the Lion Theatre in Theatre Row, 410 W 42nd Street between 9th & 10th Aves. Email GagePartOne@gmail.com for complimentary tickets.
I'm directing a reading of the new musical GAGE Part One at Theatre Row Studios in June and we're casting. Details below, please submit or forward to friends who may be interested!
GAGE Part One, A New Rock Musical
Venue: Theatre Row Studios on 42nd Street
AEA Approved 29HR Reading (guidelines pending)
$100 Travel Stipend
Director: Ryan J. Davis
Book: Cameron Cole
Music: Ryan Mercy
Lyrics: Christopher Barnes
Casting: Daryl Eisenberg, CSA
Auditions (by appointment): Thursday, 5/28 from 3pm-6pm
Performances: Wednesday, June 10th
To make an Appointment:
SUBMIT BY E-Mail At: email@example.com
[Ben] Tenor - Mid to late 20s, A precarious introvert who has closed himself off to reality. He is a very pained individual who goes to great length to keep people from seeing how much life has beaten him down. His only escapes come in the form of comics or his best friend/brother Noel. He is an intelligent person and a good writer who is not living up to his potential.
[Kevin] Tenor- Early to late 20s, Kevin is a very genuine person who wears his heart on his sleeve, but a lack of confidence and his shyness keep him from being an assertive person. He is sensitive, kind and giving to a fault. The actor playing Kevin also plays Noel's father.
[Zach] Baritone- Mid to late 20s, An aggressive, loud and boisterous example of classic masculinity. Noel's other friend is everything that Ben is not. The actor playing Zach also plays Ben's Dad, the 30's style Newsman, and the Bouncer with similar aplomb
[Tina] Mezzo/Alto- Mid to late 20s, Tina is a no nonsense type of person who will call you out on your shit without ever being a bitch. Assertive, confident, and smart. The actress also plays Noel's Mom with similar frankness, as well as one of the Muggers.
[Lauren] Mezzo- Early to late 20s, Lauren is a lofty and idealistic girl lost in a world of cynics. The actress also plays Ben's Mom, one of the Muggers, and Mrs. Hurdicure, who is an 30's style Upper West Side woman.
Tens of thousands of Irish children were regularly sexually and physically abused by nuns, priests and others over a period of decades in hundreds of residential institutions that housed the poor, the vulnerable and the unwanted, according to a report released in Dublin on Wednesday.
“A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys,” the report said, adding that sexual abuse was “endemic” in boys’ institutions.
The 2600 page report accuses over 800 priest & nuns (anonymously) of abuse between the 1930s and 1990s. The report was delayed because the "Christian" Brothers, the order many of the accused belonged to, successful sued to keep the priest and nuns (to clarify: who raped and terrorized kids) names private.
The church has paid out more money to cover-up child abuse than Michael Jackson.
In 2002, the Catholic Church in Ireland agreed to pay $175 million to compensate victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. A separate group has paid out some $1.5 billion so far to more than 10,000 people who have claimed they were abused in state and church-run institutions.
January 15, 2007 Diocese of Charleston Bishop Robert J. Baker agreed to pay $12 million to settle numerous cases concerning abuse by priests.
In December 2006 the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (its archbishop was Roger Cardinal Mahony) agreed to a payout of $60 million to settle 45 of the over 500 pending cases concerning abuse by priests. In July 2007 the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay a $660 million settlement to hundreds of people who claimed to have been abused by clergy.
In September 2003 the Archdiocese of Boston agreed to pay out $85 million to 552 victims.
In 1997 the Diocese of Dallas negotiated a $31 million settlement with victims.
In June 2003 the Archdiocese of Louisville made a $25.7 million settlement involving 240 victims of sexual abuse.
On January 3, 2005 Bishop Tod Brown of the Diocese of Orange apologized to 87 alleged victims of sexual abuse and announced a settlement of $100 million following two years of mediation.
In December 2006 the Diocese of Phoenix agreed to pay $100,000 to William Cesolini, who claimed he was sexually assaulted as a teenager by a priest.
In Canada the Christian Brothers have paid out approximately $35 million (Canadian) in compensation.
In May 1994 the Diocese of Lincoln (Nebraska) agreed to pay Rob Butler, FKA Adam Butler, $40,000 after he claimed he was abused weekly for two years.
I voted "No Endorsement" for NYC Mayor, because I'm unimpressed with the Democratic Candidates. I also support Norman Siegel over Bill De Blasio for Public Advocate.
Endorsements included: Bill Thompson for Mayor, Bill De Blasio for Public Advocate, Charles Hynes for District Attorney, Marty Markowitz for Borough President, and Diana Reyna for City Council District 34.
In the race for Comptroller, John Liu and David Yassky tied. There will be a runoff vote between those two on June 4th. Other races that will be considered on June 4th include: City Council Districts 33, 35, 38, 39, 46, and Civil Court judgeships.
Craig & Janine have a live performance coming up on May 31st at The Laurie Beechman Theater. Details here.
Sunday is Mother's Day and if you have as great a mom as I do, and I have a pretty great mom, you have to do something special for her!
My friend Martin Giannini, who is also one half of the Street Lights producing team, is presenting a Mother's Day concert that benefits the LGBT Center. Lots of great performers, including Jenn Colella and Malcolm Gets. Details below, from the Playbill article. I'll be there!
Kerry Butler, Malcolm Gets, Jenn Colella and Alan Campbell will perform as part of When You're Good to Mama at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center on May 10.
Glen Roven created the 7:30 PM concert, which will honor the special bonds between LGBT individuals and their mothers. Adam Kensinger directs the fundraiser evening that is produced by Martin Giannini.
Currently announced to perform are Kerry Butler (Xanadu), Alan Campbell (Sunset Boulevard), Allison Case (Hair), Jenn Colella (High Fidelity), Malcolm Gets (A New Brain), Greg Jbara (Billy Elliot), Mark Kudish (9 to 5), Andrew Samonsky (South Pacific), Paige Davis ("Trading Spaces"), Mathew Schecter (Waiting For Godot), Glenn Seven Allen (The Light in the Piazza), Taylor Sternberg (Jersey Boys), Rachel Cobb (La Boheme), Ansel Elgort, Noah Galvin, Matthew Garrett, Benjamin Perry and the male ensemble of South Pacific.
For tickets, priced $25, visit GayCenter. The Center is located at 208 West 13th Street in Manhattan.
Prayers offered by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found.
And patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.
In the study, the researchers monitored 1,802 patients at six hospitals who received coronary bypass surgery, in which doctors reroute circulation around a clogged vein or artery.
The patients were broken into three groups. Two were prayed for; the third was not. Half the patients who received the prayers were told that they were being prayed for; half were told that they might or might not receive prayers.
Analyzing complications in the 30 days after the operations, the researchers found no differences between those patients who were prayed for and those who were not.
In another of the study's findings, a significantly higher number of the patients who knew that they were being prayed for — 59 percent — suffered complications, compared with 51 percent of those who were uncertain.
The study also found that more patients in the uninformed prayer group — 18 percent — suffered major complications, like heart attack or stroke, compared with 13 percent in the group that did not receive prayers.
At least one earlier study found lower complication rates in patients who received intercessory prayers; others found no difference. A 1997 study at the University of New Mexico, involving 40 alcoholics in rehabilitation, found that the men and women who knew they were being prayed for actually fared worse.
The most amusing finding is that people who were prayed for tended to do worse than people not prayed for at all.