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‘Tonya & Nancy’ rock opera songs rocked a packed house on Feb. 13th at 54Below in NYC.  The concert event starring Ashley Spencer and Lauren Worsham is forthcoming as a concert CD from Broadway Records in a few months.  New productions of the rock opera are also in the works; check for updates at www.tonyaandnancytherockopera.com.

Meanwhile, enjoy photos from the big night in the big city by Robert Pushkar.

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***ABC showed a brief clip from TONYA & NANCY: THE ROCK OPERA during its Tonya Harding special on JAN 11, 2018– The upcoming concert was featured in BroadwayWorld and more-

What better way to celebrate the 2018 Winter Olympics than with songs from from the rock opera Tonya and Nancy? Based on the Tonya Harding/ Nancy Kerrigan Olympic skating scandal, Elizabeth Searle’s and Michael Teoli’s rock opera has drawn national and international media coverage, playing in Boston, Chicago and LA as well as enjoying a sold-out run at NYMF. Tony-nominated Broadway star Lauren Worsham (A Genleman’s Guide To Love and Murder) headlines as Nancy, alongside Ashley Spencer (Rock of Ages, Grease) as Tonya. Onstage, Tonya’s and Nancy’s ‘Mom’ (embodied by one powerhouse actress) will MC- and occasionally referee— as Tonya, Nancy and knee-attack conspirator ‘Gillooly’ belt out songs including Tonya’s “Watch Your Back” and Nancy’s aria, “Why Me?” Critics on both coasts have hailed this show as “brilliant.” Let the games begin.
Who could forget the biggest Olympic ice skating controversy of all time? This critically acclaimed musical from Elizabeth Searle and Michael Teoli takes on that epic scandal with a blend of dark comedy and surprising depth. Protect your knees!
Jack Smart, Backstage

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DeWitt Henry was the founding editor of Ploughshares. He’s published a novel, two memoirs, a story collection, and several anthologies. He is a Professor Emeritus at Emerson College and serves as a contributing editor to both Woven Tale Press and Solstice magazines. Plume Editions will publish a collection of his lyrical essays next year. For details see www.dewitthenry.com .



Sure, sure, we’ve got the star personalities of Kerr and Grant for starters (both English, both elegantly mannered, with a distancing wit perfectly poised with whole-hearted passion: Grant here will play the same charm he played in, say, Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief or in Bringing Up Baby with Katherine Hepburn; Kerr will play her repressed yet passionate King and I self).

Now for situation. We want the tension of adultery, of socially forbidden love, but a 1950’s mass audience will not celebrate adultery. We will tease the idea, to be sure, by using the word “affair” in the title. But let’s try this set up: both characters are engaged to publicly known rich fiances, while both themselves are relatively hardscrable and incompetent to earn a living (let’s make them both talented, but shy artists, she as a singer, he as a painter). We won’t press the matter, but both are freeloaders, planning to marry for money, social status, and security. The conflict, then, is that they fall in love, partly thanks to their ability to see through each other; two charmers charm each other; but if they indulge their love on ship board, like adulterous lovers, they will be witnessed and judged by society and lose their rich fiances and marital prospects. Let’s have them choose to pursue their true natures, not impetuously, but passionately. They will separate for six months, break with their fiances, and work hard as artists to separately earn a living. In other words, they give each other the purpose and confidence to fulfill their individual natures. Then they are to meet, compare notes, and marry. But, let’s see, what larger, O’Henry-ish obstacle can we contrive? Got it! How about if just as She is going to meet Him and is “looking up,” She is hit by a car, so He is left with the idea that she has decided against their marrying and has broken her promise. Yeah, yeah, the story can get away with this; cheap shot, yeah, but we’re not talking witty reparte anymore, we’re talking Love in the Hands of Fate (or perhaps an Angry God). (more…)

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Hanging out on the Virtual Verandah with Memphis Earlene and the gang, recuperating from Labor Day festivities, which involved Single Malt Scotch. Now I’m drinking penance–unsweetened cranberry juice. In a gesture of patriotism, Memphis Earlene has renounced White Russians and come back home to Southern Comfort and Coca Cola. She remains a beacon of clarity […]

via Boomer Geezer Blues — Memphis Earlene

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Savage battle cries mix with thunderous cheers. Supporters in the live audience pump their fists. Barbed insults fly.

Is it one of Donald Trump’s over-hyped rallies of a few thousand fired-up faithful in a deep red state? No, it’s the other, funnier ‘Resistance Rallies,’ the ones that happen not every few weeks but every night, on live TV.

Everything else may be going to Hell under Trump, yet satire is thriving.  Nightly comic monologues from Stephen Colbert ‘rally’ millions of anti-Trump troops, plus millions more who just like a good laugh. Bold, bracing anti-Trump humor keeps many of us going.

Political comedy is soaring to new heights of what Colbert instructed doomed target Anthony Scaramucci to call ‘#sarcasm.’ Trump and co. always ‘make much’ of the boisterous response this failing President still draws among live crowds in selected states.

What about the equally boisterous and much more frequent cheers and jeers that arise nightly for Colbert and co.? Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Seth Meyer, Trevor Noah, Bill Maher and more lead the charge before rally-rowdy crowds- plus millions like me, pumping our fists in our pajamas.

Unlike Trump, these leaders get results. Melissa McCarthy’s brilliant comic takedown of Sean Spicer on SNL contributed to his rapid demise as surely as the gleeful group skewing of Scaramucci— that ‘human pinkie ring’ (Colbert) whose brief reign was likened to Jesery Shore’s “The Situation Goes to DC” (Maher)— led to the Mooch moving in and out of the White House “faster than Taco Bell” (Maher again, last Friday).

Of course there are live old-fashioned Resistance Rallies too, and I’ve attended several. They have their impact. But while oblivious narccissic Trump ignores his serious critics, he can’t take a joke.

Those of us who find the sick joke of his Presidency ‘hard to take’ turn our yearning eyes and ears to Late Night TV.  We’ll get the last laugh.

(Photos: GoogleImages, CBS.com, NBC.com, SamanthaBee.com)

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DeWitt Henry was the founding editor of Ploughshares.  He’s published a novel, two memoirs, a story collection, and several anthologies.  He is a Professor Emeritus at Emerson College and serves as a contributing editor to both Woven Tale Press and Solstice magazines.  For details see www.dewitthenry.com .

ZUZU’S PETALS by DeWitt Henry

IT’S A WONDERFUL SCENE: You know the one. Six-year-old Zuzu is upstairs in bed with a fever. It’s Christmas Eve. The doctor has come and gone. Downstairs her mother is cooking, her eight-year-old sister Janey is practicing on the piano, her three-year-old brother Tommy making vacuum noises, and her nine-year-old brother Pete decorating the tree: everyone waiting for the arrival of her beloved father, George Bailey. Zuzu is sick because she won a flower at school and left her coat unbuttoned on the way home, fearing to crush the prize. She holds the flower now in bed, as Daddy comes upstairs and tip-toes in. She tries to get up, to give her flower a drink, but he tells her to stay. He sits beside her (in the background is Tommy’s crib, with a big flower painted on its railing), and asks for the flower, so he can give it water, but Zuzu shakes her head, pressing it close and causing petals to fall off.   She picks them up and asks George to “paste it.” The script reads: “She hands him the fallen petals and the flower. He turns his back on Zuzu, pretending to be tinkering with the flower. He sticks the fallen petals in his watch pocket, re-arranges the flower, and then turns back to Zuzu.” He tells her it’s good as new and she believes him. He puts it in a glass of water beside her bed and assures her: “just go to sleep, and then you can dream about it, and it’ll be a whole garden.” Of course, he then goes back downstairs, where his despair over losing the Savings and Loan breaks out as rage. He shouts at his loved ones, wrecks his corner workshop and slams his way out, heading for his suicide attempt off a bridge. Clifford Odets had a hand in writing this scene, surely the movie’s best. George can’t sustain magic tricks and protect the innocent from despair. Life’s petals have fallen. It will take an angel to convince George otherwise and Frank Capra to convince us. Zuzu would have been forty-six by the time a literary magazine called itself “Zuzu’s Petals Quarterly,” but “Zuzu’s Petals” could also have served as a fit title for the film.


It’s a Wonderful Life–George visits Zuzu

FOOTNOTE from BOOKSLUT: ”The list of literary journals reviewed in Library Journal that are no longer in publication could fill a full magazine itself. Included in the list are … Zuzus Petals Quarterly (1992-1994), only to reappear later as online-only publications by decades end.”

photos: GoogleImages, YouTube

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SOAP OPERA CONFIDENTIAL: Writers & Soap Insiders on Why We’ll Tune in Tomorrow as the World Turns Restlessly by the Guiding Light of our LivesCo-Edited by Elizabeth Searle & Suzanne Strempek Shea

Out Now from McFarland Books!  Featured in The Reminder newspaper and in SOAPS IN DEPTH national magazine!


In this new Soapy anthology, writers and ‘soap insiders’ discuss their shared love of Soap Operas!  This book features authors like bestsellers Elinor Lipman and Ann Hood and Leigh Montville and Suzanne Strempek Shea, author-actress Marianne Leonne, soap icons Thorsten Kaye and Soap writer/actress Louise Shaffer, editors from Soaps in Depth plus Celebs in Disgrace blogger, me!

Check out our Facebook Page, our recent Book Launch on April 30th at Newtonville Books near Boston and our other upcoming readings in Northampton, MA; Portland, ME and Washington DC.  Soap fans and book readers, STAY TUNED!

(photos: Helen Peppe; Thorsten Kaye: GoogleImages; CBS.com)

Elizabeth and Suzanne are co-editors and Soap Fan soul sisters

Thorsten Kaye, star of The Bold & The Beautiful and contributor to SOAP OPERA CONFIDENTIAL



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