Friday, March 18, 2011

Book - I HAD A BALL - by Michael Stern

In 1971, ten-year-old Michael Stern thought he had died and gone to heaven as he watched a filming of Here’s Lucy. He was enthralled with a redhead gifted with beauty, stage presence, and the ability to make others laugh. Over the next few years, he would attend several more filmings, meet Lucy, and eventually become (in Lucy’s own words) her “number-one fan.”

In his memoir, Michael Stern offers a refreshing glimpse into the life of a natural comedienne and actress as he provides a fascinating narrative on what it was like to become first a fan and then a friend with one of the biggest television personalities of all time. Known to fans simply as Lucy, she entertained millions of people across the world with shows like I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, and Here’s Lucy. But to Michael, who was eventually allowed access into her private world, she was a fascinating woman with whom he would share many unforgettable adventures.

I Had a Ball is a unique tribute to Lucy’s legacy, her spirit, her talent, and her enthusiasm for life—sure to entertain Lucy fans, television aficionados, and comedy lovers around the world.

“Knowing how much Mom liked Michael Stern, I knew his book would be honest—and it is. I HAD A BALL is full of stories no one but Michael would know. His friendship with Mom is evident on every page. A good read. Thank you Michael.”

“Michael’s memories are my memories, only clearer. What a talent for details! It was very moving for me to relive so much of our lives through Michael’s eyes. Very entertaining. Charming. And, more importantly, true. As Mom wrote on one of her photos to him, ‘Happy Thoughts.’”



"...brutally (and at times, hysterically!) honest about the ups and downs of her love life, seamlessly intertwining personal stories with songs." -Jenna Esposito

GREAT NEWS!!!!!!!! For those of you who were bummed that you missed my daughter, Kate Luckinbill's, one woman show LOVE (or the lack thereof) during her three SOLD OUT performances last month at DON'T TELL MAMA's, she will be reprising the show for TWO NIGHTS ONLY MARCH 20th and 21st at 7pm. (Notice there is now a SUNDAY show!)

If you were one of the first to see the show, in February, you know how good it is and understand the "buzz" that was created fro it. So, even if you can't come back for seconds, we would love you to pass this on to people you know who you think should see it. And, if you haven't seen it yet, and were bitch slapping yourselves that you missed it, lucky, lucky you!!! You can now catch one of these two performances next week. AND it's ONLY $18 a ticket!!

Don't Tell Mama's is at 343 West 46th St., NYC., but, DON'T WAIT until the last minute to make your reservations. If it's anything like last time, the tickets will be gone soon.

Also impressive was Ms. Luckinbill's connection to her material. It is rare, even for a veteran performer, to be so perfectly in touch with their material that they seem to be living the lyrics as they occur....she had the audience in the palm of her hand....One of the most exciting cabaret debut shows in recent memory."
---Jenna Esposito

"this gal was standing on her own two very capable feet and almost made me forget that she had any special DNA, except when she was funny which was A LOT!"

"this script was so fully realized and funny and profound and well delivered"

"I'd like to see more shows like this"

"There's a fun element of surprise, particularly on her rants, which I loved."

"Did I mention what a good actress she is? She's really good."

----Sue Matsuki

Hope I see you all there. xxxxxxxLucie A (aka: "proud mother!")

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hugh Martin, Composer of Meet Me in St. Louis, Dies at 96

By Robert Simonson
11 Mar 2011

Hugh Martin, the songwriter who enlivened the Judy Garland movie musical "Meet Me in St. Louis" with an indelibly melodic trio of evergreen songs — "The Trolley Song," "The Boy Next Door" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" — died March 11 in California, according to family members. He was 96.

A talented lyricist as well as a composer, Mr. Martin wrote the scores for several Broadway musicals, including Best Foot Forward (1941) (which featured the rousing fight song "Buckle Down, Winsocki"); Look, Ma, I'm Dancin' (1948), which was conceived and co-directed (with George Abbott) by Jerome Robbins; Make a Wish (1951); and High Spirits (1964); and did musical and vocal arrangements for the likes of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Richard Rodgers.

But it was for the lush M-G-M film "Meet Me in St. Louis," a collaboration with his frequent writing partner Ralph Blane, that he made his most lasting contribution on the American songbook. A sentimental tale of a close-knit St. Louis family at the turn of the 20th century, whose serenity is threatened by the father's plan to move to New York, the movie was made memorable through Judy Garland's ardent, warm delivery of the score. Her boisterous take on the bouncy, syncopated "The Trolley Song," sung while riding on a bustling trolley, became a piece of cinematic history. And the melancholy "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" evolved into a yuletide classic, recorded by hundreds of artists over the years.

The wistful expression of guarded holiday hopefulness is typically credited to both Mr. Martin and Blane. However, during a Dec. 21, 2006 interview on NPR, Mr. Martin said he wrote the song with no assistance from Blane. In 1989, "Meet Me in St. Louis" was converted into a Broadway stage musical, for which Mr. Martin did the vocal arrangements and wrote a few new lyrics.

Mr. Martin and Garland became close friends after the movie. He later acted as her accompanist at many of her concert performances in the 1950s, including her famous comeback at the Palace Theatre. However, during the filming of "A Star Is Born," the two broke when an argument over her performance of "The Man Who Got Away" led him to walk off the production.

Mr. Martin and Blane, who were on contract at M-G-M, were twice nominated for Academy Awards, for "The Trolley Song" and for "Pass the Peace Pipe," a rousing number used in the college-set movie musical "Good News" starring June Allyson and Peter Lawford. Mr. Martin also received four Tony Award nominations, three for High Spirits (Best Musical, Best Book Author of a Musical, Best Composer and Lyricist), a musical take on Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit (and directed by Coward), and one for the Meet Me in St. Louis (Best Original Score).

Hugh Martin was born in Birmingham, AL, on Aug. 11, 1914. He began studying music at the age of five at the Birmingham Conservatory of Music. His original intention to be a classical musician was altered when he became enamored of the music of George Gershwin.

He moved to New York City in the mid 1930s. He made his Broadway debut in 1937, both performing and doing the musical arrangements for Hooray for What!, a show which also featured future collaborator Ralph Blane. Soon after, the men and two women formed a vocal quartet called The Martins. The Martins appeared on Fred Allen's popular radio show and also appeared in Irving Berlin's 1940 musical Louisiana Purchase, for which Martin and Blane were the vocal arrangers, as well as The Lady Comes Across in 1942.

In 1938, Richard Rodgers gave Mr. Martin a chance, hiring him to do vocal arrangements for The Boys From Syracuse. Thereafter, Mr. Martin bounced from show to show, doing vocal arrangements, choral arrangement, providing vocal direction, simply acting or doing a combination of the above, for such shows as Too Many Girls, Louisiana Purchase, Cabin in the Sky, The Lady Comes Across, Heaven on Earth, As the Girls Go, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Top Banana, Hazel Flagg, Lorelei and Sugar Babies, the 1979 hit revue for which he was musical director.

His film work included "Athena" (1954), "The Girl Rush" (1955) and "The Girl Most Likely" (1957) as well as a movie version of "Best Foot Forward" starring Lucille Ball.

Mr. Martin was often candid in his assessment of his talents and achievements. In the liner notes for Look Ma, I'm Dancin', he told the story of his getting the job as composer. He auditioned "with three great numbers, 'Gotta Dance,' 'Tiny Room' and 'I'm the First Girl (in the Second Row).' They were received rapturously by everyone, even Robbins, and I reacted very stupidly. I got a false sense of security and instead of working hard, I relaxed a little. As a result, there are songs that are, well, OK, but not up to the standard of a George Abbott, Jerome Robbins, Nancy Walker musical. I wish I had tried harder."

Mr. Martin, a Seventh-day Adventist, spent much of the 1980s as an accompanist for gospel female vocalist Del Delker. In 2009, he published his memoir, "The Boy Next Door," in which he wrote frankly about his years battling speed and he conversion in the 1970s to a born again Christian.

Original article found here.