We are honored to present the master MASTER of Ceremonies, Richard Skipper.
His joyous celebrations of musical entertainment are a must-see every month at the Laurie Beechman theater in Times Square.
Maybe outside there is crime and grime on the streets of Times Square but inside the elegant cabaret space below the West Bank Cafe, where this king holds court, the world – according to Mr. Skipper – is beautiful.
Richard, where ya been all my life! Tell us your story. Who IS Richard Skipper?
Richard Skipper is a work in progress! I was born in Conway, South Carolina 57 years ago this month. I had a rebirth on August 5th, 1979 when I left home to pursue a career in the theatre 39 years ago! Where does the time go? It feels like it was yesterday. I have a passion for the artists who have paved the way for the work we do today. I am compassionate for the artistic path. At this point in my life, my goal is to celebrate other artists under the umbrella of Richard Skipper Celebrates
… That is done through my writing and the shows that I put together celebrating artists and their body of ‘worth’. My artistic career is balanced perfectly with my private life. My husband, Daniel, and I have been together 27 years, married almost eight years. I’m also very optimistic and believe that great things are in store for you. I’m always planning for a better future.
You take us back to the good old days of Carol Burnett and her genre. It works great from what I’m told. Why do you think that is?
It really is very simple. Audiences desire to be entertained. As the Emcee says in Cabaret, leave your troubles outside. That is a goal to not bring to our shows the angst that the world deals with on a daily basis. Bringing people together is one of my strong points. I surround myself with the best. I’ll start with my producer, Russ Woolley. He shares my vision. We are the same age and we both have a strong healthy appreciation not only for what was but what is. There are incredible people appearing on the boards of cabaret rooms daily. However, because we live in a very compartmentalized culture, the average person never gets a chance to experience them. Teamwork is an important theme, so as long as I continue to resonate with this goal, I seem to earn favor with everyone around me. To drop a name, Carol Channing once said to me that for every person who likes me, there is an equal number who don’t. I focus on those that are interested in what I have to offer. This series has given me a new level of confidence in ALL my endeavors. I’m always trying to gain recognition for my hard work, or the salary to match(!), the challenge always is convincing higher-ups that I’m worth it. That keeps me striving to do my very best!
You’ve toasted – and roasted – some of the theatre worlds most famous. Any goot\d theatre stories.
I’m a rare breed. I’m not interested in gossip and/or second-hand information. I’m interested in the process. How did they get from Point A to Point B and Beyond? I call it celebrating a person’s ‘worth’. What do they bring to the table. When I’m given the opportunity to interview someone, or break bread with them, or share a stage with them, I’m there to CELEBRATE them. I do my research so I am prepared. Then I get out of the way and let them shine. Ifeel that I am able to do much good for those around you by letting them shine. I’m perfectly comfortable basking in their shadows. One of my favorite quotes: Have faith in your journey. Everything had to happen exactly as it did to get you where you’re going next! -Mandy Hale
If I do say so myself, I have a gift for relating to others and eliciting what they are thinking and feeling and then seeing the best in this.
Tell us about the upcoming show.
We are celebrating John Kander’s 91st Birthday! By we, I mean Donna Marie Asbury who is currently in Chicago. As a matter of fact, after our opening, she has to rush to the theatre for a matinee! She comes to me via David Sabella who was Mary Sunshine in this current revival when it began at Encores and with the transfer to Broadway. He also had a great show last year at The Metropolitan Room called Loopin’ The Loop celebrating his run in Chicago and his association with Kander and Ebb. LOVED THIS SHOW! Saw it twice. In the first show, he had Jana Robbins and they performed a hilarious duet that was cut from The Visit. I asked if they would recreate this and they agreed. They also will each do a solo as well. Jana did Zorba with two separate tours with Georgio Tozzi and Theodore Bikel AND played Sally Bowles in Westchester Dinner Theatre’s production of Cabaret which I saw long before I knew Jana personally! Lucia Spina of Kinky Boots and others did a Kander and Ebb tribute at Feinstein’s three years ago Created and directed by Scott Coulter. Sandy Stewart introduced Kander and Ebb’s first song, My Coloring Book. She will be joined by her son two time Grammy nominee Bill Charlap not only on this but another great Kander and Ebb song. Rounding out the cast is Tony Award winner Lillias White recreating her star turn as Mama Morton in Chicago.
As if that isn’t enough, the afternoon will open with a video montage celebrating the life and career of John Kander. AND we have a phenomenal band all under the direction of Fred Barton. On Broadway, Fred Barton was Associate Conductor of the 1987 revival of “Cabaret”, directed by Hal Prince and starring Joel Grey, Regina Resnik, and Werner Klemperer. He also served as Associate Conductor of “Zorba”, starring Anthony Quinn, as well as the national touring production of “Camelot”, starring Robert Goulet, and the Los Angeles and national touring productions of “City of Angels.” That is just the tip for him. He will be joined by Rex Benincasa on percussion, Steve Doyle on bass, and Grammy Award winning saxophonist, Erik Lawrence.
So, because I know your rep, I got the scoop that the next show is Broadway originators … tell me more!
It is still in the planning stages. It is an idea presented to me by my producer Russ Woolley. We will be celebrating people who created roles on Broadway. So far, Lane Bradbury is part of that line-up. She created the role of Dainty June in the original Broadway production of the classic show Gypsy starring Ethel Merman. Her musical director Joe Goodrich will lead the Richard Skipper Celebrates Band also including Rex Benincasa on percussion, Steve Doyle on bass, and Grammy Award-winning saxophonist, Erik Lawrence.
Give us your philosophy on the entertainment industry. How has it changed over your career? How have you changed because of it?
The show business that I desired to be a part of no longer exists. I don’t know that it ever did. I feel that instead of beauty and celebration in our art, books, shows, movies, it is more about angst and violent images and content. Reality television has created a world of snark and put-downs. We live in a bullying culture. I gravitate towards something a little bit more upbeat and positive. That’s what I desire to impart.
Yes! Go out and do something nice for someone else today without expecting anything in return. Please stay in touch through social media and my website, RichardSkipper.com
Next on the Skipper’s Hit Parade:
Come to the Cabaret!
Russ Woolley Proudly Presents
Richard Skipper Celebrates…
on his 91st Birthday
with a cavalcade of Tony-winners, icons,
and American musical theater notables from
Broadway – today and yesteryear.
Brunch Show: Sunday, March 18 @ 1:00 p.m. (Doors open 12:15 p.m.)
LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATRE
407 West 42nd Street (lower level of the WEST BANK CAFE)
$30 ticket plus $20 food/beverage minimum – exquisite and reasonably priced food and drink. Online reservations a must at https://web.ovationtix.com/ trs/pe.c/10237673
Renowned entertainer, Richard Skipper,
on the heels of a phenomenal birthday celebration of Carol Channing brings together an exciting group of stars to sing “Happy Birthday” to John Kander – one of the most influential voices of the American musical theater.
Richard Skipper’s joyous afternoon of musical moments and memories
includes appearances by an array of acclaimed theater artists, including
Tony Award-winner Lillias White
winner, featured actress in The Life and nominee for featured actress in Fela!;
Donna Marie Asbury
currently in Chicago on Broadway,
appeared with Georgio Tozzi and Theodore Bikel in two national tours of Zorba
and with Jose Ferrer in Man of La Mancha’s national tour;
and as Sally Bowles in Cabaret at the Westchester Dinner Theatre.
from the original cast of Kinky Boots;
the legendary singer will perform “My Coloring book,”
the first song written by Kander and Ebb
Ms. Stewart will be joined by
Two-Time Grammy Winner
who originated the role of Mary Sunshine
in the current revival of Chicago on Broadway.
And the Richard Skipper Band:
Fred Barton, conductor/ musical direction
Rex Benincasa, percussion; Steve Doyle, bass; Erik Lawrence, sax
Beginning as a rehearsal pianist for the original West Side Story, eventually writing the show’s dance music, John Kander – along with writing partner – the late Fred Ebb, created some of Broadway’s most memorable musicals, including
Cabaret, Chicago, Woman of the Year, Zorba, And The World Goes ‘Round, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Steel Pier, Fosse, Curtains, The Visit, and let’s not forget, it was John Kander and Fred Ebb who wrote the iconic song,
“New York, New York.”
Richard has devoted his life and career to celebrating the theater’s finest and most-honored stars. His monthly series, Richard Skipper Celebrates… is a 90-minute variety/talk show format reminiscent of the classic television specials baby boomers grew up with. Aside from quality musical entertainment, the audience gets a glimpse into the lives of the people behind their iconic presence.
He now adds John Kander – on his actual birthday – to that illustrious list.
This afternoon is also made possible by Wright Bros. Real Estate, Nyack
For more information of Richard Skipper Celebrates, visit RichardSkipper.com