Sunday, December 21, 2014

At Marilyn Monroe Spas,Pampering From to Toe Now Includes Hair and Makeup

HEAD’S UP: Dilemma: The last days. YOU: bewitched, bothered and bewildered. US: elves at VEVLYN’S PEN are, of course, on the case. Practically every day through 24 Dec., we will introduce at least one or a series of products, items and brands that we believe is worthy of consideration as a holiday gift(s). Now, stop your fretting.

THINK about it, a day at Marilyn Monroe Spas.
The Marilyn Monroe Spas Gift Card is a passport to pampering. Photo from Marilyn Monroe Spas Web site.

Visit to learn more about Marilyn Monroe Spas.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

On ebay, a Trove of Theatrical Treasures

Liza Minnelli's act was worthy of a Tony. Photos from ebay Web site.

HEAD’S UP: Dilemma: The last days. YOU: bewitched, bothered and bewildered. US: elves at VEVLYN’S PEN are, of course, on the case. Practically every day through 24 Dec., we will introduce at least one or a series of products, items and brands that we believe is worthy of consideration as a holiday gift(s). Now, stop your fretting.


it’s not that hard to meet the theater lover's strict criteria for the odd or unusual. For proof, look no further than – say – ebay.

Bid for some of the many items of memorabilia on display.

A recent visit yielded a still-sealed album of the Liza Minnelli tuner, “The Act.” Kander and Ebb wrote the musical as a comeback vehicle for LM but the show closed after just 233 performances and never recouped its costs.

In 1977-78, a Saturday night orchestra seat cost $25, but with LM missing 10 percent of the run there was no guarantee to catch the star in “The Act.” (See video below of Robert Guillaume introducing LM&Company performing "City Lights" from “The Act” on 1978 Tony Awards and later Ed Asner presenting the performer the Tony for best actress in a musical.)

Also available to the sharp bidder is a 1946 album of the Broadway revival of “Show Boat.” Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II created the musical in 1927. It ran for nearly a year and a half to great critical and popular success.

The album from the 1946 revival of "Show Boat."

JK and OH II wrote the part of Joe, the stevedore, especially for Paul Robeson. The formidable actor would go on to sing “Old Man River” in the 1928 London stage premiere, as well as the Broadway revival in 1932 and the 1936 film. The 1946 revival was held at the Ziegfeld Theatre, which was the venue for the original Broadway production.

The Addams Family was anything but a rousing success when it played on Broadway in 2010, though it is currently touring the world with companies across the United States, in Brazil and in Sydney.

A Wednesday (Addams) T-shirt.

Krysta Rodriguez won acclaim as an exciting newcomer, portraying the original Wednesday Addams. Wednesday's red T-shirt, in small, can be picked up for a modest bid and appreciated by a troubled teen, perhaps your own.

A caveat: keep in mind as you troll through the ebay theatrical memorabilia that some of these treasures may no longer be available.You may find others, though, adding to the thrill.

Elsewhere, the visit turned up a 1976 souvenir program of a rare Katharine Hepburn stage appearance in “A Matter of Gravity.” It was marked a mere $12. The play was popular despite poor reviews.

Katharine Hepburn is the "girl" on the cover of the "A Matter of Gravity" program.

“A Matter of Gravity” closed on Broadway after three month and embarked on a successful national tour. During the Los Angeles leg, KH fractured her hip. Ever the trooper, she chose to continue performing from a wheelchair.

Visit and to learn more about EBay theatrical memorabilia.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pisidia Has It in the Bag(s) for Everyone in the Family

Pisidia bags and accessories at the Republic Collective holiday pop-up shop. Photo by Jonathan Miller.

HEAD’S UP: Dilemma: The last days. YOU: bewitched, bothered and bewildered. US: elves at VEVLYN’S PEN are, of course, on the case. Practically every day through 24 Dec., we will introduce at least one or a series of products, items and brands that we believe is worthy of consideration as a holiday gift(s). Now stop your fretting.

THEY are sleek, stylish, sometimes even a little sexy, and sensible.

They are bags and accessories from Pisidia. The collection has been making a splash in parts of Europe and Australia and is now attempting inroads into the United States. Already, Pisidia is a name being whispered and a bag appearing on red carpets in Hollywood.

What's all of the fuss about? Well, aside from the aforesaid, the products come in some pretty nifty colors –15 in fact – such as rose pink, Caribbean blue, sunrise yellow, and b&w. And they can be a family affair, meaning every member in the family can be sporting one of Pisida's 21 products.

One particular aspect of Pisidia, which its makers like to draw attention, is their assertion that it is the first and only handbag & accessory line made from silicone. Every piece in the collection has stitched-silicone as a component.

For devices, the Pisidia tablet bag. Photos from Pisidia Web site.

“You can get so many uses out of it – it's durability,” noted Pisidia owner Jonathan Miller last week at the Republic Collective holiday pop-up shop in Soho, where his brand is given good placement. “It's not plastic; it's not toxic. It's eco-friendly. On a day like today, in the rain, nothing gets ruined because the water will just drip right off.”

A comforting thought if a body is sporting the popular Tablet bag or Laptop bag. Another favorite, JM, said is the All Day Shopper, a large purse that can carry many and sundry items. Travelers might want to turn their attention to the Weekender and Vacationer, two bags that can serve a good purpose for a few days or a few weeks. And they are sized to fly free.

The Pisidia suite earns extra style points for embellishments like the signature P medallion, signature Pisidia hardware, raised Pisidia imprint, adjustable and detachable shoulder straps, as well as leather handles and other leather accents.

The vacationer is ready to hit the road or take to the skies.

The brand has yet more to recommend it. Its name alone suggests as much. Pisidia was an ancient town in Asia Minor (now Turkey) that became a center for some of the first strides of a fledgling Christianity. “It means,” JM said, "standing up for something you believe in. Buying a product that is not only beneficial for you but for the environment as well."

One pouch, but many purposes.

In honor of that tradition Pisidia,whose logo incorporates a “support ribbon,” donates a portion of proceeds from the sale of every product to cancer research. “We also partner with various causes throughout the year to help benefit them when they're in need,” JM added. One of note is the Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation (

The Pisidia wallet needs fattening.

Typical of bags, the Pisdia brand (from $36 to $598) can also be repurposed. A case – to use a word – in point is the Pen Sunglass bag. It can ferry its namesake contents in addition to makeup, art supplies, mobile phones, keys and coins.

And if the coins don't fit, there is a Coin Purse and Organizer. A bag for nearly every occasion and/or need.

Visit to learn more about Pisidia.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pumping a Little Iron and Making Big Deposits Into the Memory Bank

YOU'LL look buff.
You'll be cut.
You won't be bent over when you're an old lady.
Doing it can help stave off diabetes.
You'll look better.
You'll feel better!
You can eat more of those decadent foods you like ...

Minoru Shinohara, Audrey Duarte and Lisa Weinberg are involved in a study that showed that lifting weights can improve memory. Photo courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology.

One can go on ad nauseam about the reasons ears have heard why the body should lift weights.

But one that does not often – if ever – reach the ears. Indeed, a reason that should incentivize a body to put down the bonbon and pick up the dumbbell: Lifting weights can improve the memory … More shortly.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Birthing 'Nick & Nicky,' a Modern-Day Screwball Comedy w/an A$$ist From You, You and You ...

Patrick Askin and Ian Whitt as the title characters in "Nick and Nicky." Photo from "Nick and Nicky" Facebook page.

“THE Birdcage”Patrick Askin has the right of it.

The 1996 film, based on the French-Italian film, “La Cage aux Folles,” is the last (and one of the few) mainstream comedies featuring openly gay lead characters played by Robin Williams (Armand Goldman) and Nathan Lane (Albert Goldman). Think about it ... Name another ... There has not been one since.

If PA has his way, his filmmaker debut (actor, writer, and producer), “Nick and Nicky,” will be the next, or at least one of the next. The New-York based actor talked up his film to Yours Truly and the result of our tête-à-tête is a series of questions and answers interspersed throughout this report.

YOURS TRULY: What is "Nick and Nicky" about?
PATRICK ASKIN: "Nick and Nicky" is a modern-day screwball comedy and murder mystery.

PA, whose credits include “Sex in the City,” loves film. He is particularly partial to old films and comedies.

He hopes “Nick and Nicky” will attract both a gay audience and classic film buffs. That's a lot of eyeballs.

YT: What inspired the title and project (Nick and Nora Charles, for instance)?
PA: They are modeled on Nick and Nora.

When one considers the pantheon of screwball comedies, “The Thin Man” film franchise, starring Asta the dog and William Powell and Myrna Loy as The Charleses, should come easily to mind.

The leads in “Nick and Nicky” are PA as Nick Darling, a slick, smart aleck sleuth. Fetching, flippant fiance Nicky (Ian Whitt) is his life partner. (See trailer above).

YT: Does the couple have a dog or pet?
PA: Yes. A dog. Her name is Nora [Dakota].

It should be noted that at the moment, “Nick and Nicky" is in production. This is an exceptional disclosure because PA is raising funds to finish it, in part through his second crowdfunding campaign.

YT: Why have you chosen a comedy as your debut project?
PA: I have always wanted to be in movies that have sophisticated wit.

In other words, PA is hoping for help from you, you, you, you and you as well as your friends family frenemies and other$ to finish and promote "Nick & Nicky." He has until 30 Dec. to raise enough to qualify for matching funds. (Visit and
to contribute.)

Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in "The Birdcage." Archive photo.

YT: You've been open about the fact that the characters are not heterosexual. Why have you made them homosexual?
PA: Making the leads a gay couple makes contemporary the concept of a 1930s style screwball comedy.

Yet PA, who has gotten good notices for his one-man show, “Posing,” discourages future audiences and potential donors from becoming fixated on the fact that the leads in “Nick and Nicky" are gay. (

“I didn't write this just to be a gay, independent film,” he has said. “I wrote it with a crossover audience in mind, because I think there is an audience out there for a more sophisticated kind of humor.”

YT: Describe briefly how you plan to, if you can explain it, go about making a screwball comedy featuring openly gay characters appealing to audiences that populate the metroplexes of this country?
PA: I think audiences are ready to embrace films where the leads just happen to be gay.

Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nora and Nick Charles in "The Thin Man." Archive photo.

Perhaps. On paper, the wedding scene in “Nick and Nicky” is exquisite: Nick is the groom. Nicky is the bride, to be married in white. His mother gives him away. The best man is a lesbian detective. The maid of honor is an ex-boyfriend. Nora, the dog is the flower girl … Just a typical wedding party. No?

Said PA, “All of these are archetypes that people will relate to. I have turned everything on its head, gender-wise.”

Visit to learn more about “Nick and Nicky,” including how to contribute to the production.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Documentaries Capture the Collective Imagination at 2014 International Emmy World Television Festival and Awards Ceremony

Maryam Ebrahimi, co-director of "No Burqas Behind Bars," shows off her International Emmy to the press corps at The International Emmy Awards ceremony on Monday night at NYC's Hilton Hotel. Photo by Mary Dunaway.

THE usual level of grousing about the supremacy of the Brits at The International Emmy World Television Festival was markedly less intense this year.

Instead, it was the documentaries that were creating lots of buzz during both the weekend festival and the Monday night awards program. The field was considered one of the strongest in the history of the festival.

“It will be a long time before we will see such good work again," moderator and award-winning documentarian John Kastner remarked Saturday evening at the conclusion of a panel discussion in which representatives from all four nominated films participated.

The presentation of the best documentary award came at about the midway point of The International Emmy Awards ceremony, heightening interest and further fraying some already frayed nerves. When the award was finally announced, the victor was “No Burqas Behind Bars” from Nima Sarvestani and Maryam Ebrahimi.

A visibly shocked ME accepted the award for her film. It provides a glimpse into the experiences of several women serving time in an Afghan prison for “moral crimes.” (See video at right) … More shortly.

Visit to learn more about The International Emmy World Television Festival and and The International Emmy Awards, including the list of nominees and winners.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Celebrating 20 Years of The New Group With a Revival of 'Sticks and Bones'

Raviv Ullman, Bill Pullman, Holly Hunter, Ben Schnetzer and Morocco Omari in "Sticks and Bones." Photos by: Monique Carboni


family is one way to celebrate a milestone anniversary.

Happy 20th anniversary, then, to The New Group, which celebrates with a move to new digs at the Pershing Square Signature Center and a revival of a David Rabe play, “Sticks and Bones.”

The play, about the disruptive effects of a son's return from the Vietnam, transferred from The Public Theater to Broadway where it won the 1972 Tony Award. (See video below).

“Sticks and Bones” is directed by Scott Elliott and stars Richard Chamberlain, Holly Hunter, Bill Pullman, Nadia Gan, Morocco Omari, Raviv Ullman and Ben Schnetzer.

“Sticks and Bones” runs through 14 Dec.

Visit to learn more about “Sticks and Bones.”

Names Show for Theatre Communications Group

Ben Cameron, Lynn Nottage, Phylicia Rashad, Teresa Eyring, Joshua Dachs and Paul Oakley Stovall. Photo by Jonathan Zeigler/Patrick McMullan Company.

GEORGE C. Wolfe. Kate Whoriskey. When folk with such names as these show, you know you have come a long way, baby

Jessica Hecht. You have been doing something right.

Eric Bogosian. Along the way, some good has come from you.

Phylicia Rashad. Indeed, you have done something to make the world a better place – at least the theater part of it.

Consequently, it is no surprise that these are just a few of the folk who presented themselves recently for the annual gala of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) in New York City.

For 50-plus years, the organization has worked tirelessly to ensure that not-for-profit theater in this country is alive, well and thriving. All of the aforesaid will undoubtedly admit to having benefited in some way from TCG's efforts. All have given back in some way. too.

The same can be said of those TCG chose to honor this year: lighting designer and producer Jules Fisher; the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage. The latter was emphatic in her praise of TCG in the development of her brilliant career. (See video above).

“We’re thrilled to celebrate three honorees that have made such an indelible impact on the theater field,” said TCG executive director Teresa Eyring.

The evening, proceeds from which will benefit TCG in its good work, was also witness to several performances, including a snippet from “Immediate Family.” The play, directed by PR and written by Paul Oakley Stovall, is a comedy of manners concerning the fallout that occurs when a young, closeted black gay man brings home his white, Swedish lover. ((

It had its world premiere in a limited run at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago (See video at left).

As TE asserted, “It wouldn’t be a true theater party without sharing a scene or two …”

Visit to learn more about Theatre Communications Group.
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