Category Archives: Theater

Relive the Magic and Movements of Rudolf Nureyev with the intimate documentary “I Am a Dancer”

If you’ve ever had to privilege to see Rudolf Nureyev perform, the memories of his movements and motions will stay with you until your last breath.
Relive the magic again with I am a Dancer, the intimate 1972 documentary portrait, which offers an unprecedented look at the training and dedication behind his electrifying art.

Providing a unique glimpse into Nureyev’s personality, preparation and technique, the documentary includes excerpts from his performances in the classical ballets La Sylphide with Carla Fracci, and The Sleeping Beauty with Lynn Seymour; in addition to sequences from the modern ballet Field Figures with Deanne Bergsma, and Frederick Ashton’s Marguerite and Armand with his long-time partner Margot Fonteyn.

Film Movement has taken a most welcome leap by releasing this Golden Globe Nominee for Best Documentary Film Features  on Blu-ray for the first time in North America.

 
BONUS FEATURES
  • Terese Capucilli on Nureyev and Fonteyn
  • Skylar Brandt on I Am a Dancer
  • 16-page booklet with new essay by arts critic Kenji Fujishima 

“Full Bloom: Transcending Gender” follows the courageous journey of 13 transgender and two gay actors

It’s a courageous journey, transgendering from man to woman, woman to man.
Full Bloom: Transcending Gender follows 13 transgender and two gay actors as they transform their lives through the use of monologue, dialogue and performance art while preparing for the world premiere of the play, Lovely Bouquet of Flowers: An Exploration of Non-Traditional Gender Voices.

Michael D. Brewer’s Full Bloom features behind-the-scenes, rehearsal and performance footage that are interwoven with candid personal interviews with the cast, who talk about how they deal with family, inner conflicts, discrimination, coming out, surgery, hormones and the complexities of sexual identity and orientation. By sharing their own journeys, the actors transcend gender and challenge us to move past stereotypes and see what we all have in common as human beings.
Share the journeys with the First Run Features DVD release.

THIRTEEN’s American Masters and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES offers a brilliant documentary on Raul Julia.

Flashback to 1982. Raul Julia was nominated for a Tony Award for his magnificent performance in NINE.

I was at the awards event, and a man came up to me and said, “You’re father is a great actor.”  I looked at him quizzically. Then he added. “You must be proud to be Raúl Juliá’s son”.

I smiled.  “I should be so lucky”, I told him. to him he encountered with, “You look just like him”!

I should be so lucky. One of my favorite performers—and one of the world’s—was taken from us way too early. In 1993, he was diagnosed with cancer, but he continued to act, playing rainforest activist Chico Mendez in the television movie The Burning Season (1994), for which he posthumously won Golden Globe, SAG and Emmy Awards.  Juliá’s brilliant and daring career was tragically cut short by his untimely death in 1994,  at age 54.

PBS Distribution has released Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage, a special presentation of THIRTEEN’s American Masters and Latino Public Broadcasting’s VOCES. This documentary is a warm and revealing portrait of the charismatic, groundbreaking actor, from his journey from his native Puerto Rico to the creative hotbed of ’60s New York City, to prominence on Broadway and in Hollywood.

Filled with passion, determination and joy and told in his own voice through archival interviews and in the words of those who knew him best, the film traces Juliá’s personal and professional life while showcasing performances from his collaboration with Joseph Papp’s The Public Theater to his successful cinematic career. His best-known roles include the history-making productions of Titus Andronicus, Two Gentlemen of Verona with Clifton Davis, The Taming of the Shrew with Meryl Streep and The Threepenny Opera (for which he was nominated for a Tony  for his role as Macheath); the Broadway musical Nine and Dracula; and films such as Kiss of the Spider Woman, Moon Over Parador, The Eyes of Laura Mars, Romero, Presumed Innocent and The Addams Family. 

Interviews with some of the most respected actors who worked alongside Juliá, including Anjelica Huston, Edward James Olmos, Rita Moreno, James Earl Jones, Sonia Braga, Rubén Blades and Esai Morales, illuminate his impact as an artist. In addition, actors John Leguizamo, Jimmy Smits, Andy Garcia and others share how they were profoundly influenced by Juliá and carry the torch of his legacy. Juliá’s personal side comes to life through never-before-seen family photos and home videos, along with reminiscences from his wife, Merel, his sons, relatives and friends, who share candid insights about his life away from the spotlight.

Ever-present throughout Juliá’s story is the cultural landscape of the entertainment world and the boundaries he broke. Before diversity and inclusion efforts were part of the national conversation, the big man with the engaging personality and accent was able to amass a varied body of timeless work that helped pave the way for Latino actors today. He was also a passionate and pioneering advocate of social causes, including ending hunger. In Juliá’s words, “It’s all done within a context of love. That’s the beauty of it, you see?”

PETRUCELLI PICKS: GIFT GUIDE 2019: THE BEST CELEBRITY TELL-ALLS OF THE YEAR (PART DEUX)

Oh! We so love tattletales, books that reveal the underbellies of stars and singers and criminals and musicians and authors and politicians . . . even if they are written by the celebs themselves.
Our picks for the best of 2019 continue. . .

Herman and Joe Mankiewicz wrote, produced, and directed more than 150 pictures, including triumphs as diverse as the Marx Brothers’ Monkey Business, Pride of the Yankees, the infamous Burton-Taylor Cleopatra and Guys and Dolls. But the witty, intellectual brothers spent their Hollywood years deeply discontented
and yearning for what they did not have, a career in theater.
The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics (Hollywood Legends Series) Herman gambled away his prodigious earnings, got himself fired from all the
major studios, and drank himself to death at the age of 55. Joe was a
critical and financial success, but his philandering with stars like Joan Crawford and Judy Garland distressed his wives, one of whom committed suicide. He wrecked his own health using uppers and
downers in order to direct Cleopatra by day and write it at night, only to be very publicly fired by Darryl F. Zanuck, a humiliation from which he never fully recovered.
What lives! What stories! What delicious drama! It can be found in The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics (University Press of Mississippi, $35).


Blue: The Color of Noise (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) is the remarkable story―in pictures and words―of Steve Aoki, the superstar DJ/producer who started his career as a vegan straightedge hardcore music kid hellbent on defying his millionaire father, whose unquenchable thirst to entertain―inherited from his dad, Rocky Aoki, founder of Benihana―led him to global success and two Grammy nominations.
Aoki–also known for his outrageous stage antics (cake throwing, champagne spraying, and the ‘Aoki Jump’) and his endearing personality–recounts the epic highs of music festivals, clubs and pool parties around the world, as well as the lows of friendships lost to drugs and alcohol, and his relationship with his flamboyant father. Illustrated with candid photos gathered throughout his life, the book reveals how Aoki became a force of nature as an early social media adopter, helping to turn dance music into the phenomenon it is today.


Throughout her rise to fame and during some of the most pivotal moments of her life, Demi Moore battled addiction, body image issues and childhood trauma that would follow her for years―all while juggling a skyrocketing career and at times negative public perception.  As her success grew, Demi found herself questioning if she belonged in Hollywood, if she was a good mother, a good actress―and, always, if she was simply good enough.
As much as her story is about adversity, it is also about tremendous resilience. In the deeply candid and reflective memoir Inside Out (Harper, $27.99),  Demi pulls back the curtain and opens up about her career and personal life―laying bare her tumultuous relationship with her mother, her marriages, her struggles balancing stardom with raising a family, and her journey toward open heartedness.


In an arresting mix of visceral, soulful storytelling and stunning visuals, Face It (Dey Street Books, $32.50) upends the standard music memoir while delivering a truly prismatic portrait. With all the grit, grime, and glory recounted in intimate detail, the book re-creates the downtown scene of 1970s New York City,
where Blondie–a band that forged a new sound that brought together the worlds of rock, punk, disco, reggae and hip-hop to create some of the most beloved pop songs of all time– played alongside the Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Aesthetically dazzling, and including never-before-seen photographs, bespoke illustrations and fan art installations, Face It brings Debbie Harry’s world and artistic sensibilities to life.


Rollicking but intimate, Still Here (Farrar, Straus and Giroux , $28) tracks one of Broadway’s more outlandish and direct personalities, Elaine Stritch.  We accompany Stritch through her jagged rise to fame, to Hollywood and London, and across her later years, when she enjoyed a stunning renaissance, punctuated by a turn on the popular television show 30 Rock. We explore the influential―and often fraught―collaborations she developed with Noël Coward, Tennessee Williams and above all Stephen Sondheim, as well as her courageous yet flawed attempts to control a serious drinking problem. And we see the entertainer triumphing over personal turmoil with the development of her Tony –winning one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which established her as an emblem of spiky independence and Manhattan life for an entirely new generation of admirers. I’ll drink to that, and one for Mahler!


With her second memoir, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years (Hachette Books, $30), Julie Andrews picks up the story with her arrival in Hollywood and her years in the film industry, from the incredible highs to the challenging lows.
Not only does she discuss her work in now-classic films and her collaborations with giants of cinema and television, she also unveils her personal story of adjusting to a new and often daunting world, dealing with the demands of unimaginable success, being a new mother, the end of her first marriage, embracing two stepchildren, adopting two more children, and falling in love with the brilliant and mercurial Blake Edwards. Co-written with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, and told with Andrews’s trademark charm and candor, Home Work takes us on a rare and intimate journey into an extraordinary life that is funny, heartrending and inspiring.


With candor, humor and warmth, Olivia writes about her life and career and cancer in the must-have Don’t Stop Believin’ (Gallery Books, $28). Available for the first time in the United States, this edition includes a new afterword by Olivia.
She speaks about her childhood, her father’s role in breaking German Enigma codes during World War II,  her feeling about about stardom,her beloved daughter Chloe, meeting the love of her life, and her passion and unwavering advocacy for health and wellness.
“I hope this story of my life from my early years up to today will bring some inspiration and positivity to the reader,” Olivia says. “We all share so many experiences in our own unique way.”
Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992; the diagnosis “came the same weekend my father died of cancer, so you can imagine the shock”, she remembers. Learn more @ onjcancercentre.org.
Olivia has always radiated joy, hope and compassionate.
She continues to be a force for love, for goodness, for strength, throughout the world.
“I also  believe that when you go through something difficult, even something as dramatic as cancer, that something positive will come of it,” she says.
Don’t stop believin’.


As a young man Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.
Douglass spoke widely, using his own story to condemn slavery. By the Civil War, Douglass had become the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot.
In Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster, $37.5), David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. This is an important, compelling biography, the winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in history.


Condé Nast’s life and career was as high profile and glamourous as his magazines. Moving to New York in the early 20th century with just the shirt on his back, he soon became the highest paid executive in the United States, acquiring Vogue in 1909 and Vanity Fair in 1913. Alongside his editors, he built the first-ever international magazine empire, introducing European modern art, style, and fashions to an American audience. Conde Nast: The Man and His Empire (St. Martin’s Press, $32.50) was written with the cooperation of his family on both sides of the Atlantic and a dedicated team at Condé Nast Publications; here Susan Ronald reveals the life of an extraordinary American success story.


Recalling pivotal moments from her dynamic career on the front lines of American diplomacy and foreign policy, Susan E. Rice—National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama and US Ambassador to the United Nations—reveals her surprising story with unflinching candor in Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For (Simon & Schuster, $30).
Rice provides an insider’s account of some of the most complex issues confronting the United States over three decades, ranging from “Black Hawk Down” in Somalia to the genocide in Rwanda and the East Africa embassy bombings in the late ’90s, and from conflicts in Libya and Syria to the Ebola epidemic, a secret channel to Iran, and the opening to Cuba during the Obama years.
Intimate, sometimes humorous, but always candid, Tough Love makes an urgent appeal to the American public to bridge our dangerous domestic divides in order to preserve our democracy and sustain our global leadership.


Before he stole our hearts as the grooming and self-care expert on Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness was growing up in a small Midwestern town that didn’t understand why he was so over the top. From choreographed carpet figure skating routines to the unavoidable fact that he was Just. So. Gay., Jonathan was an easy target and endured years of judgement, ridicule and trauma—yet none of it crushed his uniquely effervescent spirit.
Over the Top: A raw Journey to Self-Love  (HarperOne, $27.99) uncovers the pain and passion it took to end up becoming the model of self-love and acceptance that Jonathan is today. In this revelatory, raw, and rambunctious memoir, Jonathan shares never-before-told secrets and reveals sides of himself that the public has never seen.


Twyla Tharp is revered not only for the dances she makes—but for her astounding regime of exercise and non-stop engagement. She is famed for religiously hitting the gym each morning at daybreak, and utilizing that energy to propel her breakneck schedule as a teacher, writer, creator and lecturer. This book grew out of the question she was asked most frequently: “How do you keep working?”
Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life (Simon & Schuster,  $27) is a series of no-nonsense mediations on how to live with purpose as time passes.
From the details of how she stays motivated to the stages of her fitness routine, Tharp models how fulfillment depends not on fortune—but on attitude, possible for anyone willing to try and keep trying. Culling anecdotes from her life and the lives of other luminaries, each chapter is accompanied by an exercise that helps anyone develop a more hopeful and energetic approach to the everyday.


Common, the man who owns a Grammy, Oscar and Golden Globe, follows up his best-selling memoir One Day It’ll All Make Sense with Let Love Have the Last Word (Atria Books, $26), an inspiring exploration of how love and mindfulness can build communities and allow you to take better control of your life through actions and words.
Common believes that the phrase “let love have the last word” is not just a declaration; it is a statement of purpose, a daily promise. Love is the most powerful force on the planet and ultimately, the way you love determines who you are and how you experience life. He explores the core tenets of love to help others understand what it means to receive and, most important, to give love.  He knows there’s no quick remedy for all of the hurt in the world, but love, for yourself and for others, is where the healing begins.


As part of Motown’s legendary songwriting and production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, Lamont Dozier is responsible for such classics as “You Can’t Hurry Love;” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch);” “Stop! In the Name of Love;” “Heat Wave;” “Baby Love;”  “You Keep Me Hanging On;” and on . . . and on.
After leaving Motown, he continued to make his mark as an influential songwriter, artist and producer with hits such as “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” “Band of Gold,” and “Two Hearts,” a chart-topping Phil Collins single that earned the pair a grammy and an Oscar nomination.
In How Sweet It Is: A Songwriter’s Reflections on Music, Motown and the Mystery of the Muse (BMG Books, $27.99) Lamont takes us behind the scenes of the Motown machine, sharing personal stories of his encounters with such icons as Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy. He reveals the moments that inspired some of his timeless songs—and pulls back the curtain on the studio secrets that helped him and his colleagues create “the sound of young America.”


P. T. Barnum is the greatest showman the world has ever seen. As a creator of the Barnum & Baily Circus and a champion of wonder, joy, trickery and “humbug,” he was the founding father of American entertainment—and as Robert Wilson argues in Barnum: An American Life (Simon & Schuster, $28), one of the most important figures in American history.
Wilson’s vivid new biography captures the full genius, infamy and allure of the ebullient showman, who, from birth to death, repeatedly reinvented himself. He learned as a young man how to wow crowds, and built a fortune that placed him among the first millionaires in the United States. He also suffered tragedy, bankruptcy, and fires that destroyed his life’s work, yet willed himself to recover and succeed again. As an entertainer, Barnum courted controversy throughout his life—yet he was also a man of strong convictions, guided in his work not by a desire to deceive, but an eagerness to thrill and bring joy to his audiences. He almost certainly never uttered the infamous line, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” instead taking pride in giving crowds their money’s worth and more.


Why shouldn’t we despise the asshole who’s about to be impeached? Protect your wives and daughters since Frump’s proclaimed his  seduction technique is to “grab ’em by the pussy.”  In Golden Handcuffs: The Secret of Trump’s Women (Gallery Books, $28), Nina Burleigh, explores his attitudes toward women by providing in-depth analysis and background on the women who have had the most profound influence on his life—the mother and grandmother who raised him, the wives who lived with him and the ugly daughter who is poised to inherit it all.
Has any president in the history of the United States had a more fraught relationship with women than Donald Trump? He flagrantly cheated on all three of his wives, brushed off multiple accusations of sexual assault, publicly ogled his eldest daughter, bought the silence of a porn star and a Playmate. The books proves is one sick motherfucker.


Winston Churchill called him World War II’s “organizer of victory.” Harry Truman said he was “the greatest military man that this country ever produced.” George Catlett Marshall was America’s most distinguished soldier-statesman since George Washington, whose selfless leadership and moral character influenced the course of two world wars and helped define the American century.
Long seen as a stoic, almost statuesque figure, he emerges in the pages of George Marshall: Defender of the Republic (Dutton Caliber, $34) as a man both remarkable and deeply human, thanks to newly discovered sources.
Set against the backdrop of five major conflicts—two world wars, Palestine, Korea, and the Cold War—Marshall’s education in military, diplomatic and political power, replete with their nuances and ambiguities, runs parallel with America’s emergence as a global superpower. The result is a defining account of one of our most consequential leaders.


In 1975 Andrew Ridgeley took a shy new boy at school under his wing. They instantly hit it off, and their boyhood escapades at Bushy Meads School built a bond that was never broken. As Wham!, R and George Michael, found themselves riding an astonishing roller coaster of success, taking them all over the world. They made and broke iconic records, they were treated like gods, but they stayed true to their friendship and ultimately to themselves. It was a party that seemed as if it would never end.
Wham!, George Michael and Me: A Memoir Hardcover And then it did, in front of tens of thousands of tearful fans at Wembley Stadium in 1986.
With WHAM!, George Michael and Me, (Dutton, $28), one half of one of the most famous bands in the world, tells the inside story of  his lifelong friendship with George Michael, and the formation of a band that changed the shape of the music scene in the early ’80s. Ridgeley ‘s memoir covers in wonderful detail those years, up until that last iconic concert: the scrapes, the laughs, the relationships, the good, and the bad. It’s a unique and one-and-only time to remember that era, that band, and those boys.


 

Important books about film and film stars, published by the University Press of Kentucky.

Books about film and film stars—important books about film and film stars—are published by the University Press of Kentucky. Here is a handful of new and forthcoming film titles.

Legendary actress and two-time Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland ($34.95) is renowned for her role as Melanie Wilkes in Gone with the Wind (1939). She often inhabited characters who were delicate, ladylike, elegant and refined. At the same time, she was a survivor with a fierce desire to direct her own destiny on and off the screen. She fought and won a lawsuit against Warner Bros. over a contract dispute that changed the studio contract system forever. She is also renowned for her long feud with her fellow actress and sister Joan Fontaine—a feud that lasted from 1975 until Fontaine’s death in 2013.

Author Victoria Amador utilizes extensive interviews and forty years of personal correspondence with de Havilland to present an in-depth look at the life and career of this celebrated actress .Amador begins with Havilland’s early life ( born in Japan in 1916 to a single mother and controlling stepfather) and her theatrical ambitions at a young age. The book then follows her career as she skyrocketed to star status, becoming one of the most well-known starlets in Tinseltown.

Readers are given an inside look at her love affairs with iconic cinema figures such as James Stewart, and John Huston, and her onscreen partnership with Errol Flynn, with whom she starred in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and Dodge City (1939 ). After she moved to Europe in the mid-’50s, de Havilland became the first woman to serve as the president of the Cannes Film Festival in 1965, and remained active but selective in film and television until 1988.

Olivia de HavillandLady Triumphant is a tribute to one of Hollywood’s greatest legends, who has evolved from a gentle heroine to a strong-willed, respected and admired artist


With celebrated works such as Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, and Gladiator, Ridley Scott has secured his place in Hollywood. This legendary director and filmmaker has had an undeniable influence on art and the culture of filmmaking, but is also a respected media businessman.

In Ridley Scott: A Biography ($40), Vincent LoBrutto delves into Ridley Scott’s oeuvre in a way that allows readers to understand the yin and yang of his exceptional career. Presented is a unique crosscut between the biographical facts of Scott’s personal life—his birth and early days in northeast England, his life in New York City— and his career in Hollywood as a director and producer of television commercials, TV series, miniseries and feature films.

Every film is presented, analyzed, and probed for a greater understanding of the visionary, his personality, and his thought process, for a deeper perception of his astounding work and accomplishments. The voices of cast and crew who have worked with Scott, as well as the words of the man himself, are woven throughout this book for a fully realized, critical biography, revealing the depth of the artist and his achievements.


The many con men, gangsters and drug lords portrayed in popular culture are examples of the dark side of the American dream. Viewers are fascinated by these twisted versions of heroic American archetypes, like the self-made man and the entrepreneur. Applying the critical skills he developed as a Shakespeare scholar, Paul A. Cantor finds new depth in familiar landmarks of popular culture in Pop Culture and the Dark Side of the American Dream:
Con Men, Gangsters, Drug Lords and Zombies ($40). He invokes Shakespearean models to show that the concept of the tragic hero can help us understand why we are both repelled by and drawn to figures such as Vito and Michael Corleone or Walter White.

Beginning with Huckleberry Finn and ending with The Walking Dead, Cantor also uncovers the link between the American dream and frontier life. In imaginative variants of a Wild West setting, popular culture has served up disturbing—and yet strangely compelling—images of what happens when people move beyond the borders of law and order. Cantor demonstrates that, at its best, popular culture raises thoughtful questions about the validity and viability of the American dream, thus deepening our understanding of America itself.


Throughout his career, Alfred Hitchcock had to deal with a wide variety of censors attuned to the slightest suggestion of sexual innuendo, undue violence, toilet humor, religious disrespect and all forms of indecency, real or imagined. From 1934 to 1968, the Motion Picture Production Code Office controlled the content and final cut on all films made and distributed in the United States. Code officials protected sensitive ears from standard four-letter words, as well as a few five-letter words like tramp and six-letter words like cripes. They also scrubbed “excessively lustful” kissing from the screen and ensured that no criminal went unpunished.

During their review of Hitchcock’s films, the censors demanded an average of 22.5 changes, ranging from the mundane to the mind-boggling, on each of his American films. Code reviewers dictated the ending of Rebecca (1940), absolved Cary Grant of guilt in Suspicion (1941), edited Cole Porter’s lyrics in Stage Fright (1950), decided which shades should be drawn in Rear Window (1954), and shortened the shower scene in Psycho (1960).

In Hitchcock and the Censors ($50), author John Billheimer traces the forces that led to the Production Code and describes Hitchcock’s interactions with code officials on a film-by-film basis as he fought to protect his creations, bargaining with code reviewers and sidestepping censorship to produce a lifetime of memorable films. Despite the often-arbitrary decisions of the code board, Hitchcock still managed to push the boundaries of sex and violence permitted in films by charming—and occasionally tricking—the censors and by swapping off bits of dialogue, plot points, and individual shots (some of which had been deliberately inserted as trading chips) to protect cherished scenes and images.

By examining Hitchcock’s priorities in dealing with the censors, this work highlights the director’s theories of suspense as well as his magician-like touch when negotiating with code officials.


 

Shout! Factory to release “The Sound of Music Live”

Doe a deer.

Those three words instantly bring the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s beloved classic The Sound of Music comes to mind.

And this November, Shout! brings The Sound of Music Live, the ambitious, live-broadcast production from BAFTA-nominated director Coky Giedroyc, to DVD and Blu-ray.   Save the date: The discs will arrive on November 6, just in time for the holidays.

The musical, celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2019, has become a favorite of families the world over with such perennially classic and unforgettable songs as “The Sound of Music,” “Edelweiss,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” and “My Favorite Things”. The Sound of Music Live, destined to become a new family chestnut, brings this beloved and timeless story to lavish life with a cinematically staged production featuring three soundstages and more than150 period costumes, all stunningly shot with 17 cameras.
In the new production, Kara Tointon delivers a “mesmerizing performance and incredible vocal talents” as Maria, the tomboyish nun who reluctantly becomes the governess for seven children living in the shadow of their stern widower father (played by Julian Ovenden). Along with her required duties, Maria brings love, music and excitement back into the children’s lives . . . and also eventually begins to have an effect on their father. But just when things are looking up, the rise of Nazism and the looming threat of war darkens their future.
Supported by Katherine Kelly as Baroness Elsa Schraeder and Alexander Armstrong as Max Detweiler, The Sound of Music Live-— which also features “How Can Love Survive” a song not in the original movie but part of the stage show since 1959—is an enchanting experience that will remain with audiences long after the last curtain call.

Renee Fleming’s new CD, “Broadway”, reminds everyone why she is a goddess

She is a goddess. Really.
Currently wowing audiences with her Tony-nominated performance in Carousel, Grammy-winning soprano Renée Fleming has released Broadway (Decca Classics), a CD celebrating musical theatre. The album features a diverse array of  songs for the stage by composers including Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Pasek & Paul, and Rodgers & Hammerstein, as well as a special guest duet with the Hamilton, television and film star, Leslie Odom, Jr.

Says Fleming, “The great, classic Broadway musicals were central to my childhood. I sang Eliza Doolittle twice before I was even out of high school. This repertoire is so rich, and the sheer quality of the music is so high, that it’s been a joy to record these songs. And along with the growth of popular music, the sound of musical theater has evolved over time. Composers like Jeanine Tesori, and Pasek and Paul, and even popular music icons like Sting, have enriched the genre. It’s a living art form, enjoying a real boom right now, and it was a thrill for me to be able to include phenomenal songs that are absolutely current.”

The new recording features a wide range of Broadway hits from the ’20s to the present, in sumptuous orchestrations, many commissioned specially for this album.

Among the songs are “The Sound of Music”, “The Glamorous Life” from A Little Night Music; “Tell Me on A Sunday” from Song and Dance; “Wonderful Guy” from South Pacific; “Fable” from The Light in the Piazza; and “So Big So Small” from Dear Evan Hansen. Fleming’s collaborators include Rob Fisher as music supervisor and conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra, as well as the incomparable bassist and jazz great Christian McBride, rising star pianist Dan Tepfer and Grammy-winning producer David Frost.

Listen closely: Listen and you will understand why she is a goddess.

 

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks the Five Best Books for Die-Hard Disney Doyennes

Disney doyennes will be dazzled and delighted with the 3,464 titles Disney Editions release this year. We couldn’t read them all, so we chose our five favorites. Walt would have approved.
 Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation ($60)
The most important volume here can also serve as a murder weapon; a six-and-a-half coffeetable book that finally reveals the contributions and history of these animation artists who have remained virtually invisible and largely undocumented. Disney sought female story specialists and concept artists to expand the scope and sensibility of his storytelling. Upon establishing the first animation-training program for women, ink pens were traded for pencils as ladies made their way into the male-laden halls of animation. World War II further opened roles traditionally held by men, and women quickly progressed into virtually every discipline within animation production.  Extensively researched with the full support of the entire Walt Disney Studios archival resources, plus a multitude of private collections, firsthand accounts, newly discovered materials and production documentation, as well as never-before-seen photography and artwork, this essential volume redefines the collective history of animation.
♥ The Lion King: Twenty Years on Broadway and Around the World ($50) It is Broadway’s highest grossing production of all time, having grossed more than $1 billion. The show won six 1998 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical, making Julie Taymor the first woman in theatrical history bestowed with the honor. The Lion King continues to roar on Broadway and to perform to packed houses all around the USA and the world. In celebration of its 20th anniversary on Broadway, this volume will feature trace the origins of the show from the blockbuster animated film, feature stories from the creators and actors, and showcase never-before-published images both onstage and behind the scenes from the many productions around the world.
♥ Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Disney’s Magical Mid-Century ($40) Yesterday’s Tomorrow is a valentine to an era of optimism, relaxed lifestyle and innovative design. It’s oversized and a bit awkward to handle, but the rarely seen art and photography of the mid-20th century reflecting the unique style that Disney and his artists contributed to the era are nifty. We love the color photo of Walt lying in a hammock at his Holmby Hills, California, home. Taking a break for once?
♥ Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was created in 1927 by Walt Disney and his team through 26 cartoon shorts. The impish character wase an instant hit with audiences. Yet Walt lost the contract to Oswald, which prompted the creation of Mickey Mouse. Over the years, Oswald became a footnote in the Disney story . . . until 2006, when The Walt Disney Company recovered rights to Walt’s.  For anyone interested in Disney origins, fascinated by early cinema or entertained by a feisty little rabbit, this engaging and accessible volume delivers an in-depth look at Walt s first major animated success and the journey to reclaim the lost Disney films.
♥ 
The Art of Tennessee Loveless: The Mickey Mouse TEN x TEN x TEN Contemporary Pop Art Series
Clearly a book for art lovers and die-hard fans of the mouse. This  colorful and vastly diverse artcollection showcases 100 Mickey Mouse paintings by contemporary pop artist Tennessee Loveless. What? No Goofy?

 

 

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks Video Artists International’s lost, forgotten shows, true Blu-ray and DVD treasures

Anything you can do I can do better. But no one can do anything better than Video Artists International (VAI), the company who finds and releases long-lost, forgotten or obscure TV shows and musicals on Blu-rays and DVDs. Since its inception, in 1983, VAI has been dedicated to preserving great performances of the past century while maintaining the absolute highest standards of performance available on DVD, Blu-ray and CD. Smart Santas would do no better than head straight to vaimusic.com to discover the array of timeless treasures that make the best stocking stuffers. We made a list, kindly and musically asking Santa Baby to bring us some gems. And the envelope goes to . . .

♥ The Irving Berlin classic Annie Get Your Gun, starring Mary Martin and John Raitt. It aired live on November 27, 1957;  and the Blu-ray contains nifty bonus tracks. They include the show’s closing commercial; although no elements of the commercials for the 1957 Annie Get Your Gun telecast are known to exist, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (Mary Martin, John Raitt) (Blu-ray)VAI is including the unedited audio of the closing commercial, hosted by Martin, which includes a message wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. There’s an excerpt from a live concert of Martin with Louis Magor at the piano. Martin talks about the role of Annie, performs “Anything You Can Do” with Magor (who sings from the keyboard), and also recalls her collaboration with Ethel Merman on the Ford 50th Anniversary Show in 1953.
♥ Another Mary Martin gem: Available for the first time on home video: The historic live 1956 telecast of Mary Martin as Peter Pan, generally considered the definitive performance of this beloved musical. Only nine days after the initial Broadway run had ended, the cast and crew (under the supervision of director Jerome Robbins) assembled in the Brooklyn studios of NBC to perform the show live for television. A year later, in preparation for the second Peter Pan live telecast, essentially the same cast reunited for several performances at the Ambassador Theater in New York City for invited audiences of children.

This gave the 1956 telecast the same fresh theatrical quality as the first.

♥ With a book by Moss Hart, and music and lyrics by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin, Lady in Dark is one of the legendary musicals of American musical theatre.LADY IN THE DARK (Kurt Weill, Moss Hart, Ira Gershwin) (DVD) Inspired by Hart’s personal experience with psychotherapy, its innovative concept was termed a “musical play,” presenting the main character’s therapy sessions and waking life as spoken drama and her dream sequences as musical numbers. The excellent cast features Ann Sothern in the title role, with James Daly (Tyne’s Daddy), Carleton Carpenter, and Luella Gear. The show’s brilliant score includes “The Saga of Jenny” and “My Ship.” It’s live telecast was on September 25, 1954.
♥ An original made-for-TV musical, produced and directed by Max Liebman, Holiday tells the story of Nell Valentine (marvelously protrayed by Doretta Morrow), a young schoolteacher who breaks the routine of her everyday life to embark on a European adventure. Nell meets and falls in love with the mysterious Ray Brinton (Keith Andes), another American apparently on vacation, whose past poses an obstacle to their romance. HOLIDAY starring Doretta Morrow & Keith Andes (DVD)The cast includes a rare dramatic and musical performance by Kitty Carlisle as Ray’s estranged wife Adele, as well as cameo appearances by Tammy Grimes and Jacques d’Amboise.  It’s live telecast was on June 9, 1956. The DVD Includes the original commercials as a separate bonus feature.
♥ VAI sails the high Cs with a wonderful array of historic opera performances. Opera legend and film star Risë Stevens leads a magnificent cast in this 1955 television production of The Chocolate Soldier, produced and directed by Max Liebman. Based on George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the ManThe Chocolate Soldier is one of the most popular operettas of all time; on Broadway alone, it received seven productions throughout a period of 40 years.THE CHOCOLATE SOLDIER (Straus) Risë Stevens, Eddie Albert (DVD) Stevens is partnered by the delightful Eddie Albert, and the cast also features the beloved baritone Earl Wrightson and the popular character actor Akim Tamiroff. Interestingly, Stevens made her Hollywood debut in a 1941 film version of The Chocolate Soldier that employed much of Straus’ score, but followed a completely different storyline. Liebman’s television production restores the original plot and characters, and faithfully conveys the romance and good humor of the Viennese operetta tradition.
♥ We were lucky enough to have worked (just once) with Bubbles. That’s Beverly Sills to you. One of Sill’s most acclaimed portrayals was as Queen Elizabeth I in Donizetti’s intensely dramatic opera Roberto Devereux. In this 1975 production from the Wolf Trap Festival, shes is joined by John Alexander, Susanne Marsee, and Richard Fredricks. ROBERTO DEVEREUX Sills, Alexander (Wolf Trap 1975) (DVD)Maestro Julius Rudel is the conductor of this live production, devised and directed by Tito Capobianco. An essential addition to every opera lover’s video library. LA TRAVIATA Sills, Price, Fredricks (Wolf Trap 1976) (DVD)An equally delightful DVD features the role for which Sills was world-famous: Violetta in Tito Capobianco’s stirring production of Verdi’s La Traviata. This performance was captured live on video in 1976 as part of the Wolf Trap Festival. Brava!

Theater Songs of Brecht & Weill Lotte Lenya and Gisela May were the two most prominent interpreters of Brecht and Weill in the last century. Here, from 1958, is Lenya performing five of Kurt Weill’s songs from The Threepenny Opera, Happy End, Mahagonny and the Berlin Requiem.Lotte Lenya & Gisela May: Theater Songs of Brecht & Weill (DVD)Gisela May performs Brecht songs with music by Weill, Heymann and Dessau. As a bonus, Martha Schlamme performs two songs of Weill, joined by Will Holt in one number.

One of the most exciting VAI moves is the release of Bell Telephone Hour, a long-run concert series sponsored by Bell Telephone as the name implies and showcased the best in classical and Broadway music. Its TV run was from 1959 to 1968. Beginning in 2001, DVDs of performances from the television series have been released by Video Artists International. To date, VAI has issued more than two dozen DVD compilations. A visit to their website will drive you greedy as you ask Santa for all of them! Two faves:
♥ Dolores Gray: Bell Telephone Hour 1959-1966 For 40 years, Dolores Gray was a star of Broadway, London’s West End and cabaret. Among her Broadway credits, she starred in Two on the AisleDestry Rides Again and 42nd Street. In London, she appeared in Annie Get Your GunGypsy and Follies.Dolores Gray: Bell Telephone Hour 1959-1966 (DVD) Here she sings a slew of classics, including “A Wonderful Guy” (from South Pacific), “My Funny Valentine” (from Babes in Arms), “It Never Entered My Mind” (Higher and Higher), “Friendship” (from “Dubarry Was a Lady”) and “Down in the Depths” (from Red, Hot and Blue) Also on the show: Marc Breaux, Art Lund,Jack Cassidy, Nancy Dussault  and Donald O’Connor.
♥ For the legendary comic actor Groucho Marx, playing the role of Ko-Ko in The Mikado “fulfilled a lifelong ambition.” The Mikado was Groucho’s favorite among the works of his beloved Gilbert and Sullivan, and the 1960 Bell Telephone Hour production was adapted for television and directed by Martyn Green,

a man Groucho revered as an authority on interpreting the role of Ko-Ko. The strong supporting cast features distinguished veterans like Helen Traubel, Stanley Holloway, Robert Rounseville, and Dennis King, as well as young artists like the lovely soprano Barbara Meister as Yum-Yum and Groucho’s 13-year-old daughter, Melinda, as Peep-Bo. Special features include audio interviews with Dick Cavett, Groucho’s daughter Melinda Marx and Barbara Meister; Martyn Green in excerpts from H.M.S. Pinafore (Bell Telephone Hour, 1963), cast bios and the commercials from the original telecast.

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks The Best Celebrity Bios of the Year (Part Three)

The “Screen Classics” series published by the University Press of Kentucky continues to amaze, entertain and dazzle us. TK new books for 2017:
♥ Harry Langdon: King of Silent Comedy ($40) Among silent film comedians, three names stand out―Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd―but Langdon indisputably deserves to sit among them as the fourth “king.”  Langdon parlayed his pantomime talents, expressive eyes and childlike innocence into silent-era stardom. This in-depth biography, which features behind-the-scenes accounts and personal recollections compiled by Langdon’s late wife, Mabel, provides a full and thoughtful picture of this multifaceted entertainer and his meteoric rise and fall. Featuring never-before-published stories and photos from his immediate family, this biography is a fascinating and revealing look at an unsung silent film giant.
♥ 
He’s Got Rhythm: The Life and Career of Gene Kelly ($39.95) A would-be baseball player and one-time law student, Kelly captured the nation’s imagination in so many great flicks. In the first written since the star’s death, authors Cynthia Brideson and Sara Brideson disclose new details of Kelly’s complex life. He's Got Rhythm: The Life and Career of Gene Kelly (Screen Classics)Not only do they examine his contributions to the world of entertainment in depth, but they also consider his political activities―including his opposition to the Hollywood blacklist. The authors even confront Kelly’s darker side and explore his notorious competitive streak, his tendency to be a taskmaster on set and his multiple marriages.
♥ Anne Bancroft: A Life ($34.95) In the first biography to cover the entire scope of Bancroft’s life and career, Douglass K. Daniel brings together interviews with dozens of her friends and colleagues, never-before-published family photos, and material from film and theater archives to present a portrait of an artist who raised the standards of acting for all those who followed. Daniel reveals how, from a young age, Bancroft was committed to challenging herself and strengthening her craft. The book offers new insights into the life and career of a determined actress who left an indelible mark on the film industry while remaining true to her art.
Barbara La Marr: The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful for Hollywood ($45) . When she was 17, La Marr’s behavior in Los Angeles nightclubs caused law enforcement to declare her “too beautiful” to be on her own in the city, and she was ordered to leave. When La Marr returned to Hollywood years later, her loveliness and raw talent caught the attention of producers and catapulted her to movie stardom. In five years, La Marr appeared in twenty-six films, yet by 1925―finding herself beset by numerous scandals, several failed marriages, a hidden pregnancy and personal prejudice based on her onscreen persona―she fell out of public favor. When she was diagnosed with a fatal lung condition, she continued to work, undeterred, until she collapsed on set. She died at the age of 29. Drawing on never-before-released diary entries, correspondence, and creative works, Sherri Snyder’s biography offers a valuable perspective on her contributions to silent-era Hollywood and the cinematic arts.
 
You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet: Interviews with Stars from Hollywood’s Golden Era ($36.95) Journalists James Bawden and Ron Miller spent their careers interviewing the greatest stars of Hollywood’s golden age. They visited Lee Marvin at home and politely admired his fishing trophies, chatted with Janet Leigh while a young Jamie Lee Curtis played, even made Elizabeth Taylor laugh out loud in a seven-minute chat. The book is filled with humorous anecdotes and incredible behind-the-scenes stories. Bette Davis reflects that she and Katharine Hepburn were both considered for the role of Scarlett O’Hara but neither was “gorgeous enough” for the part; Janet Leigh analyzes the famous shower scene in Psycho, which was shot in seven days and gave the actress nightmares for years; and Jimmy Stewart describes Alfred Hitchcock as a “strange, roly-poly man, interested only in blondes and murder.”

We have always been a fan of Julia Child. We are in love with France is a Feast (Thames & Hudson, $35), a volume of 250 intimate and compelling photographs taken by her husband Paul Child, a gifted photographer, that documents how Julia Child first discovered French cooking and the French way of life. Their wanderings through the French capital and countryside, frequently photographed by Paul, would help lead to the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Julia’s celebrated career in books and on television. Though Paul was an accomplished photographer (his work is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art), his photographs remained out of the public eye until the publication of Julia’s memoir, My Life in France, in which several of his images were included. Now, with these photos and personal stories recounted by his great-nephew Alex Prud’homme, France is a Feast not only captures this magical period in Paul and Julia’s lives, but also brings to light Paul Child’s own remarkable photographic achievement. Merveilleux!

Tina Brown kept delicious daily diaries throughout her eight spectacular years as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. The pithy memoir-filled The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992 (Henry Holt, $32) offer an incendiary portrait of the flash and dash and power brokering of the Excessive Eighties in New York and Hollywood. She was a woman of relentless drive and ambition; with a mere swipe of her pens (or compUter keys), she can stab the knife and twist it. Here are the inside stories of Vanity Fair scoops and covers that sold millions―the Reagan kiss, the meltdown of Princess Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles, the sensational Annie Leibovitz cover of a gloriously pregnant, naked Demi Moore. They are as acerbic as they are astute, even mean-spirited.  Who else can recall mega-agent Swifty Lazar as “tiny and bald and hairy in the wrong places”? Or socialite Betsy Bloomingdale as someone who “has the wind-tunnel look of a recent face-lift”?  Diss-light!

In the early 1930s, during the worst drought and financial depression in American history, Sam Babb recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: A free college education in exchange for playing on his basketball team, the Cardinals. Despite their fears of leaving home and the sacrifices that their families would face, the women joined the team. And as Babb coached the Cardinals, something extraordinary happened. These remarkable athletes found a passion for the game and a heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach. And they began to win. Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory (Algonquin Books, $16.95) takes readers on the Cardinals’ intense, improbable journey all the way to an epic showdown with the prevailing national champions, helmed by the legendary Babe Didrikson.

Those who knew Sid Luft, the producer and third husband of Judy Garland, knew he was an ego maniac who emotional abused his wife. In Judy and I: My Life With Judy Garland (Chicago review Press, $30), he proves he has no filter when it comes to talking about women: Judy’s mother is “fat and dumpy”; Judy’s sisters are “ugly”; and Judy was a “helium head” since her face was so fat. because her face was so fat. Yet he produced A Star is Born and fought to keep her sober and drug-free.  We enjoyed the book, even if he doesn’t get into their marriage until half-way through the pages. There are nice touches (she didn’t use nail polish) and Judy fans will relish the book. Maybe.

Cheech Marin came of age at an interesting time in America and became a self-made counterculture legend with his other half, Tommy Chong. The insightful Cheech is Not My Real Name . . . But Don’t Call Me Chong (Grand Central Publishing, $27) delves into how Cheech dodged the draft, formed one of the most successful comedy duos of all time, became the face of the recreational drug movement with the film Up in Smoke, forged a successful solo career with roles in The Lion King and, more recently, Jane the Virgin, and became the owner of the most renowned collection of Chicano art in the world.  Written in Cheech’s uniquely hilarious voice, this memoir (do we dare?) will take you to new highs

In a career spanning more than 30 years, David Letterman redefined the modern talk show with an ironic comic style that transcended traditional television. While he remains one of the most famous stars in America, he is a remote, even reclusive, figure whose career is widely misunderstood. In Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night (Harper, $28.99), Jason Zinoman, the first comedy critic in the history of the New York Times, mixes groundbreaking reporting with unprecedented access and probing critical analysis to explain the unique entertainer’s titanic legacy.Moving from his early days in Indiana to his retirement, Zinoman goes behind the scenes of Letterman’s television career to illuminate the origins of his revolutionary comedy, its overlooked influences, and how his work intersects with and reveals his famously eccentric personality.

In the wake of rape allegations made against director and actor Nate Parker, Gabrielle  Union—a 44-year-old actress who launched her career with roles in iconic ’90s movies—instantly became the insightful, outspoken actress that Hollywood has been desperately awaiting. With honesty and heartbreaking wisdom, she revealed her own trauma as a victim of sexual assault: “It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real.” We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True by [Union, Gabrielle]We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated and True (Dey Street Books, $26.99) is a collection of thought-provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor; Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism and fame as she bravely lays herself bare.

We hate him. So does most of America. So does Katy Tur. Called “disgraceful,” “third-rate,” and “not nice” by Arnold Frump, the NBC News correspondent reported on—and took flak from—the most captivating and volatile presidential candidate in American history. She lived out of a suitcase for a year and a half, following Frump around the country, powered by packets of peanut butter and kept clean with dry shampoo. She visited 40 states with the candidate, made more than 3,800 live television reports, and tried to endure a gazillion loops of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”—a Frump rally playlist staple. From day 1 to day 500, Tur documented Trump’s inconsistencies, fact-checked his falsities and called him out on his lies. In return, Trump repeatedly singled Tur out. He tried to charm her, intimidate her and shame her. At one point, he got a crowd so riled up against Tur, Secret Service agents had to walk her to her car. None of it worked. Facts are stubborn. So was Tur. She was part of the first women-led politics team in the history of network news. Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History (Dey Street Books, $26.99) is her darkly comic, fascinatingly bizarre, and often scary story of how America sent a former reality show host to the White House. It’s also the story of what it was like for Tur to be there as it happened, inside a no-rules world where reporters were spat on, demeaned and discredited. Impeach the asshole NOW.

In November of 1954 a young woman dressed plainly in a white oxford, dark sunglasses and a black pageboy wig boards a midnight flight from Los Angeles to New York. As the plane’s engines rev she breathes a sigh of relief, lights a cigarette and slips off her wig revealing a tangle of fluffy blonde curls. Marilyn Monroe was leaving Hollywood behind, and along with it a failed marriage and a frustrating career. She needed a break from the scrutiny and insanity of LA. She needed Manhattan. In Manhattan, the most famous woman in the world can wander the streets unbothered, spend hours at the Met getting lost in art, and afternoons buried in the stacks of the Strand. Marilyn begins to live a life of the mind in New York; she dates Arthur Miller, dances with Truman Capote and drinks with Carson McCullers. Even though she had never lived there before, in New York, Marilyn is home. A true love letter to Marilyn, and a joyous portrait of a city bursting with life and art, Marilyn in Manhattan: Her Year of Joy (Flatiron Books, $27.99) is a  lively look at two American treasures: New York and Marilyn Monroe, and sheds new light on one of our most enduring icons.

Bunny Mellon, who died in 2014 at age 103, was press-shy during her lifetime. But with the co-operation of Bunny Mellon’s family, author Meryl Gordon received access to thousands of pages of her letters, diaries and appointment calendars and has interviewed more than 175 people to capture the spirit of this talented American original in Bunny Mellon: The Life of an American Style Legend (Grand Central Publishing, $28). Whoever knew the life story of a  style icon and American aristocrat who designed the White House Rose Garden for her friend JFK and served as a living witness to 20th Century American history could be so riveting?

Fred Hersch’s prodigious talent as a sideman—a pianist who played with the giants of the twentieth century in the autumn of their careers, including Art Farmer and Joe Henderson—blossomed further in the ’80s and beyond into a compositional genius that defied the boundaries of bop, sweeping in elements of pop, classical, and folk to create a wholly new music. Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life in and Out of Jazz (Crown Archetype , $28) is his memoir. It’s the story of the first openly gay, HIV-positive jazz player; a deep look into the cloistered jazz culture that made such a status both transgressive and groundbreaking; and a profound exploration of how Hersch’s two-month-long coma in 2007 led to his creating some of the finest, most direct, and most emotionally compelling music of his career.

Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls―the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser masterfully fills in the gaps in Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books, $35) Wilder’s biography. Revealing the grown-up story behind the most influential childhood epic of pioneer life, she also chronicles Wilder’s tumultuous relationship with her journalist daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, setting the record straight regarding charges of ghostwriting that have swirled around the books.
A perfect companion: In Caroline: Little House, Revisited (William Morrow, $25.99), Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction that was authorized by Little House Heritage Trust. It’s a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient and loving pioneer woman as never before: Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books. For more than eighty years, generations of readers have been enchanted by the adventures of the American frontier’s most famous child, Laura Ingalls Wilder, in the Little House books. Now, that familiar story is retold in this captivating tale of family, fidelity, hardship, love, and survival that vividly reimagines our past.

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