Thursday, September 30, 2010

Feel God's Presence Every Day

This essay by Norman Vincent Peale appeared in Guideposts magazine.

In every moment of every day God is by your side, ready to help, guide, and protect you. Seek Him, and you will find Him.

Whatever your circumstances be sure that God watches over you. Because He loves you, and since God Himself is love, you can be confident that you are never out of His sight, nor His loving concern.

How can you make yourself believe this? First, repeat it to yourself. Repetition is a powerful method of persuading the mind to accept a truth. Epictetus called it the most classical of all studies. It brings about acceptance.

Thank God constantly for watching over you and protecting you. After every journey, thank Him for His protecting care. In every difficult situation, thank Him for seeing you through.

Visualize your loved ones as always being protected by the everlasting arms, and supported by the great hand of God. In this way, you will be sending out protecting and guiding thoughts that God will use for their protection. Help God to protect your loved ones and yourself.

A final technique is to commit to memory many of the following Bible passages that deal with the protective love of God. Every day, repeat them to yourself, meditating upon them with gratitude.

The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. (Psalm145:18)

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. (Psalm 56:11)

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. (I Peter 5:6,7)

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:9,10)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Project Dance World Tour 2011

For more information about this inspiring group, which is a cherished part of each year's Broadway Blessing, visit

Impossible things

"Alice laughed: 'There's no use trying,' she said; 'one can't believe impossible things.'

'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'"
-– Lewis Carroll

Monday, September 27, 2010

Broadway Cares Flea Market

I had fun volunteering yesterday at the Episcopal Actors’ Guild table at the 24th annual Broadway Cares Flea Market in Shubert Alley. This wonderful event raises money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and features tons of theatrical memorabilia donated by the community.

I got there early so I could shop because the bargains each year are just too good to miss. Picked up a brand new, still-in-its-wrapping cast recording CD of Wicked for $4, an unopened cassette of the Bernadette Peters revival of Annie Get Your Gun for $1 and a $1 mug that probably only I would have been attracted to, with its bold purple lettering of “All the world’s a stage,” and in narrow letters above the word stage, “Syracuse.” When I was a reporter at The Post-Standard, Syracuse Stage was my salvation just as Centerstage had been my salvation growing up in Baltimore.

Wanted to say hi to Kristin Chenoweth who was posing for photos for a fee -- to support the cause -- but it was so crowded. And 4’ 11” Kristin does not exactly stand out in a crowd. Well, at least height-wise. Kristin is a standout in every other way.

Guild friends Elowyn Castle and leslie Shreve were on duty with me. Our table had vintage Playbills, which people combed through as if they were searching for gold -- and they seemed as happy with their finds as if they had discovered gold -- original cast recording albums and a few other items. All money made went to Broadway Cares. We were just the sellers and goodwill ambassadors for the Guild, which provides financial support to actors in need.

I haven't heard how much was raised this year, but last year's Flea Market — held in the Roseland Ballroom because of rain — raised $403,929. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the nation's largest industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization. Since its founding in 1988 the organization has distributed over $170 million for services for people with AIDS, HIV or HIV-related illnesses.

For more information, visit the BC/EFA web site at or call (212) 840-0770.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Guess who's coming to dinner

A cute joke from my friend Emil Dansker in Cincinnati:

Seems a Jewish couple came into money and bought a mansion in London complete with butler.

Told him to have 4 places set for dinner, but he set 6.


Well, he said, the Cohens called and said they were bringing the blintzes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hopi and Central America influence artist Joyce Rezendes

My friend Joyce Rezendes studied with Diebenkorn, Hasegawa, Oliveira, and Kokoschka. She is president and founder of Art In Perpetuity, a not-for-profit organization designed to care for artists’ works. Her 50-year retrospective includes paintings, mixed media pieces, and assemblage.

Gallery at Westbeth
57 Bethune @ Washington St. 10014
Oct. 10 -- 24; Wednesday thru Sunday NOON to 6 p.m.
212 989-4650
Studio: 212 414-0096

Reception October 9th ~ 5pm-7pm

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Teresa Deevy Project

I wrote this feature for National Catholic Reporter

She had six plays produced at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre in six years in the 1930s. When her seventh met with rejection, she began writing for radio, despite having been deaf since 19, the result of Meniere's disease developed several years earlier. In 1954 she was elected to the prestigious Irish Academy of Letters. The Irish Times called her one of the most significant Irish playwrights of the 20th century. Yet few people in Ireland today and even fewer in America know the name of Teresa Deevy.

The Mint Theater Company, an award-winning Off-Broadway theatre, plans to tackle that obscurity over the next two years with its Teresa Deevy Project, which will produce two of her plays as well as offer readings, recordings and publications.

“I found her because I asked the question, ‘Who were the woman writing plays in the first 50 years of the Abbey,’” said Jonathan Bank, the Mint’s artistic director. “I began with the perception that the history of theatre in Ireland was a lot of men and then, oh, yeah, there was Lady Gregory.”

He found that other women’s plays had been produced, but only Deevy’s had been published, and then only a few.

“What gets remembered and produced is a little bit arbitrary,” he said, sitting in his midtown office one hot summer afternoon during rehearsals for Wife To James Whelan, the play rejected by the Abbey in 1937 and subsequently only produced once, in 1956 when it received a critically acclaimed production at the small but influential Studio Theatre Club in Dublin. It has never been seen anywhere since. This should not be criteria for judging the play, Bank said, but many people think if they haven’t heard of a work, it must not have been good in the first place.

“That’s not a great measure of talent of the playwright and the worth of the play, but once that idea gets set it’s hard to overcome, which is why we’re trying to throw as much muscle as we have behind her,” he said.

What Bank found in all of her work was a deep spirituality rooted in her Catholic upbringing. Born in 1894 in Waterford, Deevy, who died in 1963, was one of 13 children. Two of the seven girls became nuns, the other five never married. One of the boys was a priest, an uncle was a Jesuit. Teresa was a border at the local Ursuline school where her writing was published in the school magazine.

“She was a devout, daily Mass attending Catholic,” Bank said. She also made yearly pilgrimages to Lourdes as a stretcher-bearer for the sick, and on a trip to Rome had an audience with the Pope.

Some of her works reflects this more directly than others. The Wild Goose was about the persecution of Catholic priests in the 1690s; Supreme Dominion focuses on the 17th century Irish priest and scholar Luke Wadding. The two plays the Mint is producing -- Wife to James Whelan and Temporal Powers -- have plots that are less directly Catholic, although the characters are.

Wife, which plays through Oct. 3, is set in a small town in the middle of Ireland and tells a story of conflict between ambition and happiness as a young man must choose between the hometown woman he loves and his desire to make his mark in Dublin. The Irish Times called it “a play of tragic proportion,” likening the central character to King Lear -- “a tormented figure, passionate yet ambitious, kindly yet prone to blinding anger.” Bank thinks it will leave audiences with plenty to discuss.

“She posses a question but doesn’t resolve it,” he says.

Temporal Powers, which will be produced in 2012, presents “the eternal question of salvation,” Bank says. A couple, having lost their home, take shelter in an abandoned building where they find a great deal of money stashed in a wall. The wife wants to keep it, the husband asks what good it will do them if in keeping it they face eternal damnation. Bank expects this play to provoke much discussion as well.

“She does not come down on one side or the other,” he says of the playwright. “She makes a really balanced argument and we’re left to make that decision ourselves. That’s true of all her work. You can’t quite find her point of view.”

Wife’s rejection by the Abbey after six straight years of acceptance can be attributed to political factors, Bank said, mentioning the new Irish constitution of 1937 that made it illegal for married women to work. The prevailing atmosphere would have been unfavorable to a woman playwright, even one who wasn’t married. That her plays are unknown now is because so few of them were published. The Mint hopes to publish her collected works.

“Her people are so complex,” he said about her characters. “The world she draws us into is a bit like a novel. In two hours you come to know people in a way we’re unaccustomed to in the theatre. It’s more like the experience of reading a book.”

He credits a heightened sensitivity that she may have been born with or might have developed because of her deafness. It was her handicap that actually led her to a life in the arts. After her family sent her to London to study lip-reading she fell in love with the theater and decided to pursue a career as a playwright.

“She had a profound insight into human behavior, human psychology,” Bank said.

In preparing to launch the Teresa Deevy Project, Bank made his first visit to Ireland to meet with her family and study her writings, which were heaped in boxes with no filing system -- Wife to James Whelan had disappeared for 40 years because the envelope it was in had been misfiled. Pages from some plays were missing, rendering them useless for production. Her family told him stories of her life and allowed him to copy her work.

“She was a very spiritual Catholic,” Bank says. “She took it to heart. It was not knee-jerk to her. Although her plays are to a certain extent thrashing with this issue, they don’t read as a woman without conflict. As firm as her beliefs would have been, so were her questions.”

Related web site

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


An Act of Congress Names A National Landmark For One of America's Most Beloved Immigrants and World Renown Entertainers

On Tuesday, Oct. 12, the Hope Family, including Bob Hope's daughter Linda and his son Kelly and invited guests from the worlds of theater, film, television and comedy (notable names of attendees to be released later) will gather for the formal dedication of the newly refurbished Bob Hope Memorial Library located in the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island.

Dolores Hope, 101, a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and a proud American of Irish and Italian heritage said, "Bob would be very pleased to receive this momentous honor. His arrival at Ellis Island was an important moment for him; the beginning of a new life full of opportunity."
His daughter agrees. "This honor would have meant the world to my dad.  He was, of course, very proud of his English/Welsh roots but he loved his adopted country with a passion.  He loved the spirit of its people and he used to marvel at all the opportunities he had as an American.  He lived the American dream and spent much of his adult life giving back to the men and women who made the freedom he enjoyed possible, the United States Military." 
Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum selling, five-time Grammy nominated entertainer dubbed “The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook,” will close the ceremony with his rendition of Bob Hope's signature song. Mr. Feinstein performed that song on Bob's 100th birthday celebration and is a longtime friend of the Hope family.  "Bob was a man who never forgot his roots and spent his life helping others. Knowing him was a great thrill and I'll be very proud to sing “Thanks For The Memory” in his honor," he said.
Bob Hope was born Leslie Townes Hope in Eltham, England on May 29, 1903. His English father, William Henry Hope, was a stonemason -- his Welsh mother, Avis Townes Hope, an aspiring concert singer.  In 1907, Leslie's mother brought her five sons through Ellis Island, joining their father who had come over earlier  to make a home for them in Cleveland, OH. In 1920, by virtue of his father's naturalization, “Bob” -- the name by which the world would later know him -- and his brothers became United States citizens. (Bob joked, “I left England at the age of four when I found out I couldn't be king.")
For a man who once played third billing to Siamese twins and trained seals, Hope became one of the most recognized profiles and talent in the world. And, in the entire history of show business, no individual traveled so far -- so often -- to entertain so many. Hope entertained audiences in every decade of the 20th century -- from impersonating Charlie Chaplin in front of the firehouse in Cleveland in 1909, to celebrating an unprecedented 61 years with NBC in 1996. He was an innovative comedian who developed the art of the monologue and made America laugh for over 70 years.
Hope is perhaps most remembered for his dedication to entertaining the troops throughout 60 years, first  at March Field, California at the beginning of WWII, continuing through Korea, Viet Nam with his final tour at age 87 to the Middle East with Operation Desert Storm.  He was rewarded for this extraordinary effort by an Act of Congress naming him an honorary veteran, an honor which he treasured.
Bob Hope now holds two entries in The Guinness Book of World Records. His newest award is for having the distinction of being the entertainer with "the longest running contract with a single network - spanning sixty-one years." His first record was for being the "most honored entertainer."
Hope has more than two thousand awards and citations for humanitarian and professional efforts, including 54 honorary doctorates. He hosted the Academy Awards 19 times and received two Oscar statues. In 1952 he received an Honorary Academy Award for his contribution to the laughter of the World -- his service to the Motion Picture Industry and his devotion to the American premise. In 1959, the Academy bestowed the Special Jean Hersholt Academy Award for Outstanding philanthropic contributions to the film industry.
He died in 2003 at the age of 100.
The Bob Hope Memorial Library will showcase exhibits of Hope's career in the entertainment business as well as memorabilia pertaining to his USO tours and golfing endeavors. There will be a display area about other famous immigrants that came through Ellis Island and that section will change on a regular basis. A highlight of the exhibit will be a kiosk with Bob Hope jokes.
The reading area at the Bob Hope Memorial Library, located on the third floor of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, contains books, periodicals, contemporary and historical photographs, film and video productions, unpublished manuscripts, archival collections, oral history interviews and other research materials relating to the history of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, immigration history and the National Park Service. 
Library hours: Open every day except Christmas. Monday-Sunday. Hours are Commensurate  with the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, approximately 10 AM-to 4 or 5 PM. General information: Tel: (212) 363-3206 Ext. 158

Monday, September 20, 2010

Taste of Broadway

Going to Sardi’s is always a treat. I never get tired of that famous showbiz eatery. Being there Thursday night was extra special -- the launch party for Carliss Retif Pond’s latest book, Taste of Broadway: Restaurant Recipes from NYC’s Theater District.

Carliss has reason to celebration. The 224-page book is gorgeous, with 50 color photos by Jess Espinosa that bring this great part of town to life. All the energy is there; I can almost hear the taxi horns and feel the sense of excitement that surrounds Broadway day and night. Just skimming through it is a joy.

What’s between the covers should delight anyone who loves to cook. Carliss has gathered recipes from 31 restaurants that represent the best of New York dining. She presents a full spread, from starters right through to dessert, including a chapter on drinks.

The photos take us “backstage” into the kitchens and all around Times Square. It’s all so real I can practically smell the food cooking and bask in the marquee lights. Restaurants featured include superstars like the ‘21’ Club, Chez Josephine, Sardi’s and the Algonquin and lesser lights like Market Diner. For the fun of it, Taste also reveals locations where popular movies were filmed and the names of famous stars known to frequent restaurants in the area.

Carliss certainly has the chops to put this book together. She received her culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, and Ritz Escoffier School. She’s been a culinary advisor for Bloomingdale’s and a banquet coordinator for the Plaza Hotel. She is also the author a another cookbook, Sizzle in Hell’s Kitchen.

An insightful touch that really grounds this book in the Broadway community is Carliss’ inclusion of full-page quotes, each featured on its own burnt orange page, from 14 theater district professionals, ranging from Shubert Organization chairman Phil Smith to Jose Estevez, a bartender at Sardi’s. I am honored to be among these contributors. Carliss had asked me to write about Broadway Blessing; those comments now appear on page 178 -- right across from Peter Chimos’ (of Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse) recipe for creamed spinach.

Anyone who knows me well will find it hysterical that I’m quoted in a cookbook. To say I don’t cook is an understatement. My oven has been lit once, in 1999, when I turned it on just to make sure it worked before closing on my apartment. Since then I have kept it dusted.

But, then, New York is full of people like me who make reservations rather than dinner. Now there’s finally a cookbook we can get excited about -- to use it as a restaurant guide while skipping all the bother of buying and measuring ingredients. Carliss lets us have all that good theater district food one way or the other, whether she’s telling us how to prepare it or pointing us in the direction of some of our favorite meals in classic dining establishments. Restaurants here I come!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Broadway Blessing 2010

James Barbour, left, following the service.
By Lauren Yarger, guest blogger
Broadway performers and theater lovers came together Monday night for the 14th annual Broadway Blessing service held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.

Broadway actors James Barbour, Charles West and Anthony Newfield were among those performing during the interfaith service which also celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Fantasticks. Tom Jones, who wrote the book and lyrics for the show, and who directed and has starred in the acclaimed revival playing Off-Broadway at the Snapple Theater Center, attended the service (the show was one of our picks to see this summer.)

Officiating were the Rev. Canon Thomas Miller, canon for liturgy and the arts at St. John, the Right Rev. Andrew St. John, rector of the Church of the Transfiguration, and Rabbi Jill Hausman of The Actors' Temple, who also performed "A Simple Song" from Leonard Bernstein's Mass.

Actress Catherine Russell gave a reading, Project Dance, recipient of the 2009 "The Lights Are Bright on Broadway" award presented by Masterwork Productions, performed to "His Eye is on the Sparrow." The Broadway Blessing Choir and Bruce Neswick, cathedral organist, offered a number of tunes including medleys from The Fantasticks. West, who has appeared in the 50th anniversary production of the show, sang "Try to Remember."

Newfield performed a scene from To Kill a Mockingbird, and Barbour, accompanied by Jeremy Roberts, sang "The Measure of a Man" from Frank Wildhorn's musical Rudolf. In addition, composer Carol Hall performed a song she had written, inspired in part by speaker Lynn Redgrave's stirring message form last year's Broadway Blessing and to whom this year's service was dedicated.
The evening is produced under the direction of religion and theater writer Retta Blaney (center, above). Her blog, "Life Upon the Sacred Stage," can be found here.
Participants mingle at a post-service reception.

Getting acquainted

Lauren Yarger captured this nice photo of Rabbi Jill Hausman of The Actors' Temple and actor Merwin Goldsmith at a reception following Monday's Broadway Blessing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Don't take away my devils or the angels will leave too!"
-- Stephen Fry

Sunday, September 12, 2010

“Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.”
-- Charles F. Kettering

Friday, September 10, 2010

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” - Herman Cain

Monday, September 6, 2010

Yes, You Can Have It All

This essay appeared in Guideposts magazine.

What is the most important element in life? Surely confidence, happiness, contentment and love rank high. Courage, successful living, hope. But all of these come from a single source.

Confidence is faith in God and yourself. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Happiness and contentment arise from faith that God’s hand is in everything that happens. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21).

Love is faith and trust in another. “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6).

Hope is faith for the future. “Put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

Courage is faith that you can win. The Bible’s heroes “through faith conquered kingdoms…shut the mouths of lions…escaped the edge of the sword… (Hebrews 11:33-39).

Successful living is taking action through faith. “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Searching for the good life? Begin with faith…and all you need will follow.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mix Up a Batch of Powerful Prayer

This essay appeared in Guideposts magazine.

Ever try to make a fruit salad without fruit? Or chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips? That would be silly, right? Even the most basic recipes have ingredients crucial to their success.

Prayer, too, has certain “ingredients” that help ensure its effectiveness and success.

Love is a crucial ingredient of powerful prayer. Love is the defining characteristic of God—and those who follow him. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus emphasized the importance of a loving, forgiving spirit (Matthew 6:14-15).

Belief and positive expectation are essential. Research has shown that patients with faith and hope heal more quickly and completely. Through prayer, God wants us to be “sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Always pray hopefully, confident that the Lord will bring about the best possible results.

The language of prayer must be simple and sincere. Jesus warns against empty and wordy prayers. “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Bring your requests to your loving Father whenever they come to mind, but do not feel “many words” will make him hear you better. Just speak to God sincerely and confidently.

It is vital to pray, “Your will be done.” 1 John 5:14 assures us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” You will pray with more and more confidence and power as you live close to the Lord, seek his will, and follow his guidance.

Pray with others. If you have the opportunity, take part in a prayer circle or join your church’s “prayer chain.” Agree with a few close friends to pray for each other’s children, health, relationships. And don’t forget that you can pray with other Christians anytime at! Jesus promises “where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).