barney and sharonSometimes I have things to say, and sometimes my friends say it for me. In this “blog” Barney Rosenzweig had the stage and page.

 

It has been a long time since I have written something … anything… for a website. Maybe it is because folks refer to it as a “blog” – such an off-putting noun.

So I will refer to my writings as “notes” and these particular notes are my reviews of the Broadway shows my wife, Sharon (Gless) and I saw during a recent weekend in New York; going to New York theater is something we usually do three times a year.

Just an aside, for nearly three weeks before our NY theater spree, Sharon was in Bali… on a sort of spiritual quest… in the company of her niece, Bridget Gless-Keller. Sharon, who already possesses more spirituality than her husband ever will, mostly enjoyed the time Sharon and Tyne at lapham's ballof re-bonding with Bridget, her favorite (and let’s face it, only) niece. She flew over 25 hours to rendezvous with me in NY so that, in addition to the theater, we could attend the Fourth Annual Lapham’s Quarterly Decades Ball, the Lapham Quarterly being a most erudite publication. Tyne Daly and Ralph Nader were at our table. It was great fun.

Now, my commentary, in chronological order of when we saw each show. I hope that someone out there will find what I say interesting. Feedback is required.

On the 20th CenturyOn the 20th Century starring Kristin Chenoweth who very well may be the finest comedienne anywhere near the Broadway stage or in America today. The show is nicely mounted, has a decent supporting cast, but the only reason for seeing this chestnut is Ms. Chenoweth. She sings beautifully, looks great and is simply too funny in this part for me to properly describe. Do not bother to see this show after she leaves.

The Audience starring Helen Mirren. Ms. Mirren is a great actress. No one disputes that, but I would guess there are others who could replicate what was accomplished here by her. What was quite impressive to me was the extraordinary job of staging and direction along with the miracle of The Auiencecostume and wig changes right on stage in full view of the audience into which Ms. Mirren would mold her body into the age of the Queen she was portraying always in sync with the now author’s concept of presenting Elizabeth, the Queen, out of any sort of chronological order. The end of act one, the coronation of Elizabeth, was stunning and surprisingly (to me) moving. I couldn’t wait for act two to begin which brings to mind the cliché of being careful what you wish for. If only I had left the theatee at Intermission and not gone back for that long and repetitive second act, I would have/could have held The Audience in so much higher regard.

It Shoulda Been You stars Tyne Daly and a very good supporting cast. Sharon had seen it once before in rehearsals giving support to her “partner” in rehearsals.  I had seen it over a year ago in an out of town tryout somewhere. Was it in New Jersey? Tyne, as the mother of the bride iIt Shoulda Been Yous, as always, terrific. The show is charming. An old-fashioned solid evening’s entertainment in the theater. Both times I saw the show I have to confess to longing to see Sharon Gless as the mother of the groom, the nemesis to Daly’s Mother of the Bride. I easily imagined (as perhaps only I can) how much more fun it would be to see those 30 years of history bouncing off each other, but this time live on stage. I mean no disrespect to the very competent Harriet Harris who plays the part beautifully… there is just no one, anywhere, who could bring more to this dueling duo as written than the re-teaming of Gless and Daly. Oh yes, Chip Zein, who plays Tyne’s husband in the piece was our Assistant DA for a time in Cagney & Lacey.

Fun HomeFun Home won the Tony for best musical. It is very smart and dark, very original, and if you can’t make it to Broadway, buy the CD which has it all…. dialogue and songs…with nothing (that I could figure) left out. I am an old guy. This piece merits a lot of praise and a lot of awards, but if it’s a musical than… well, I just don’t know. It is almost more of an opera… and might actually be one if there were truly an aria rather than just recitative. Of course it could be a musical if there were truly a song… which there is not. I have a good ear for music. As a three year old child I could sing the entire score of The Mikado. I can still hang in there with a battle of the hit tunes from Broadway over the past 50-60 years with Tyne or any number of other musical mavens. I have seen Fun Home and I have listened to the CD. It is powerful, it is good, but I cannot remember three notes of any of the songs. I think that is a problem. Obviously the Tony voters disagree.

The King and I at Lincoln Center. Bartlett Sher, the director and the Center leaders and staff deserve the billing right there next to the title. The King and I is (arguably) the best musical ever…EVER… written. Lincoln Center does it proud. Instead of the 10 to 15 piece pit band prevaKing and Ilent all over the Great White Way, the not-for-profit Lincoln Center presents us with a veritable orchestra of over 30 pieces. The curtain is not your standard-use-for-every-show asbestos thing, but rather a massive silk screen in cardinal and gold depicting a Siamese-like scene. The cast, the sets, the costuming are all perfection. Kudos to the Lincoln Center. I did not think they could top what they accomplished (by the same director by the way) on South Pacific, They have, surpassing even themselves. Kelli O’Hara soars as the English tutor and the remainder of the cast hangs in there with her. I am not ashamed to say that I had my handkerchief in hand through the entire show and it was very damp with tears at the final curtain. Bravo to all … and Brava Ms. O’Hara.

An American in Paris. We saw it the very next afternoon and it is probably most unfair to see anything after The King and I. The matinee was before a packed house at The Palace, the largest theatre on Broadway. The sets were imaginative in design and for the most part in execution, the Gershwin score includes some of the best American music and song ever composed. What then is wrong? Well, you have to begin with the script. The story is certainly solid so to what do I refer? In The King and I, the characters break into song because there is nothing left for them to say. They simplAmerican in Parisy must sing… to evoke their emotions, to explain themselves, for… well, for whatever reason. It is organic. It is necessary, an essential part of the whole. In An American in Paris, people sing because there is a vast library of good Gershwin material that should be presented. It just doesn’t come out of any real feeling or anything organic. It is, what they call in the trade, a juke box musical. Doesn’t matter how good the juke box is, it is hard to get past this flaw in the play itself… especially when one has just seen perfection at the Lincoln Center.

Later, the same evening, we saw On The Town. Now this is interesting… vintage Leonard Bernstein. Not his best (West Side Story would have to take that bow), but damn good nonetheless. on the townUnlike An American in Paris it is not a collection of song book hits, but rather a musical play with dialogue that leads the actors… oft times compelling them… to sing. And sing they do… and dance…. and act… and they accomplish all of that in a matter superior to what we had seen in the afternoon. I found myself wishing that An American in Paris had waited for On The Town to close so that they could take that cast on the rebound. Better yet… Give it to Bartlett Sher to stage it all at Lincoln Center.

Let me summarize Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. First was Rogers and Hammerstein at their best, next was Gershwin cannibalized by lesser talents and not at his best in any event, for that would have to go to Porgy & Bess, and then there was Bernstein. As stated, very good, but no West Side Story (although some of the rifts in this earlier work sound somewhat West Side familiar).

Exhausted Sharon and I limped out of town the next morning, catching the Jitney to Bridgehampton and a few days with friends before hightailing it back to Miami and Fisher Island. Home sweet home.

Barney Rosenzweig, posted August, 2015


Barney Rosenzweig is a television producer, best known for his 1980s television series Cagney & Lacey. He also produced the 1960s series Daniel Boone, as well as a dozen episodes of Charlie’s Angels.

In 1991, Barney married the Cagney & Lacey star Sharon Gless (Sgt. Christine Cagney). (Ms. Gless is also known for her roles as Madeline Westen on Burn Notice and as Debby Novotny on Queer as Folk.)

Barney subsequently created and produced The Trials of Rosie O’Neill (starring Sharon Gless). The show ran for two seasons in the early 1990s. He is now retired and loving every minute of his spare time, which he has very little of.

The premise for “CONVERSATIONS” is to share some extraordinary conversations that I’ve had with very unique and talented people. As an artist, I’ve always respected and admired people who have passion for what they do.

The lineup for this show includes:

Robert Planshorn, a man who spent 29 years in prison for smuggling over 500,000 pounds of marijuana into the United States.  Robert Platshorn

A continuation of a conversation I had with performer Wyclef Jean who spoke about his early beginnings as an immigrant and entertainer.  In this episode (Part 2), Wyclef talks about why he ran for president of Haiti, and more. (Wyclef w-DestinyWyclef Jean with Destiny’s Child – Kelly Rowland, Beyonce, Wyclef, Michelle Williams)

Edna Buchanan, a former Pulitzer prize-winning crime reporter who described her beat like being in a Shakespearean play in real time. edna buchcanon

Debi Mazar, an Actress known for her voice, eyes and EXTRA VIRGIN cooking skills. Debi Mazur

Terry Johnson, a legendary doo-wop singer (The Flamingos) recognized for his rendition of the famous doo wop song, “I Only Have Eyes For You”. tERRY JOHNSON AND fLAMINGOS

Have you ever given somebody your business card and said when you’re in my neighborhood please give me a call so we can continue our very interesting conversation? Recently, I got a call from Wyclef Jean who was coming to South Beach to perform at the Centennial celebration for the city of Miami Beach.

There was so much to talk about that I decided to use half of what we discussed in “Conversation 4” and the other half will be in “Conversation 5”.

In addition to Wyclef, my friend Barney Rosenzweig came by for a cup of coffee and he talked about his adventure in New York City during the freezing cold.  We also discusPhoto by Joseph Marzullo/WENNsed whether political correctness should trump creativity.

John Sayles, author, script writer, movie producer, director, actor and editor talked about his amazing Saylesexperiences with such films as “The Brother From Another Planet”, the Return of the Secaucus 7 and many more films he was involved with.

Then Stephan Mikes, one of America’s foremost Sitar players, took us on a tour of his instrument and talked about Ravi Shankar, George Harrison, Donovan, Cheap Trick and Stephan’s quest to bring his sitar music into mainstream. Mikes

 

 

 

 


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I became a painter shortly after my epiphany … that I got no satisfaction from my profession as a publicist. And I was fortunate that on my first time out exhibiting my art at the Greenwich Village Art Show in New York, I was led to the now defunct America’s Folk Heritage Gallery (Madison Avenue, NYC), and at that critical time of transition, a vote of confidence that my artistic talent had value.

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My artwork is creative imagery depicting my fantasies and experiences. My medium is mixed, acrylic paint on canvas, wood, and 3-D multimedia boxes. My paintings have been showcased in Country Living Magazine, Salon (Tokyo, Japan magazine), The New York Daily News, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, Modern Maturity Magazine, and in a variety of syndicated newspaper articles. I was featured in a documentary for 1ARD German Television.DSCN3434

In addition to America’s Folk Heritage Gallery, my exhibition credits include: The Hortt Exhibition — The Museum of Art (Ft. Lauderdale, FL); Galerie Bonheur (Greenwich, CT); Cuban Museum (Miami, FL); Gallery: Why Not?  (Miami Beach, FL); “Two Person Show” — Amdur Gallery (Miami Beach, FL); Gallery of the Eccentric (Coral Gables, FL); Sokolsky Gallery (Miami Beach, FL); “Portraits” — Metro Dade Library (Miami, FL); “A Salute to Outstanding Florida Artists” — State Capitol Building, (Tallahassee, FL); The Sher Gallery (Aventura, FL); Cando gallery, (Miami Beach).

 

 

 

Conversations with Stewart Stewart, Episode 3

CONVERSATIONS with Stewart Stewart is just that; a series of conversations with people who are passionate about what they do and want to share it with our audience. This is episode 3 and these are a few conversations I recently had.

 Barney with Cagney and LacyWhen I heard that Cuba and the United States were going to reinstate diplomatic relations I thought it would be a perfect time to talk to Hollywood television producer Barney Rosenzweig who, along with his wife (actress Sharon Gless), just returned from a “cultural junket” to Cuba. Of course, most of what he saw was choreographed by the bus tour company which works within the Cuban government guidelines. Barney’s first impressions were insightful and interesting so I divided this particular conversation into two parts. Part one will be in this episode, part two will be continued in episode 4.

 

story lady AUNTKXDD The story lady has her own unique way of telling a story. They rhyme, with a “Dr. Seuss-like” delivery, but with complex characters and situations, along with a quality that touches our spiritual links.

 

 

 

 

Tom Hayden-People Mag In the 1960s there was a very strong anti-Vietnam War movement in this country that reached its highest crescendo at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. There was rioting in the streets and finger-pointing (especially the middle finger of the mayor of Chicago) when complaints were lodged against the police brutality on the streets of the city. When it was over, there was a great political show trial dubbed “The Trial of The Chicago 7”.  On trial for conspiracy and inciting a riot were Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Lee Weiner and, my guest Tom Hayden. Tom Hayden explained to me why leaderless movements sometimes can be more effective than one led by a charismatic speaker.

 

J. Morales city magrI’ve often said that living and working on Miami Beach feels like being an extra in a Fellini movie. In my conversation with Miami Beach city manager Jimmy Morales, my feelings were validated when he explained why being city manager of Miami Beach is so different from being a city manager anywhere else.

 

 

 

I want to thank all my listeners for tuning in and giving me this opportunity to ask questions I always wanted to ask of people who have the answers. I look forward to your comments.

Are you ready for a flash quiz? Who’s that on this cover picture on top of this page? It’s none other than Stewart Stewart taken by Stewart himself over 35 years ago using antiquated technology. This photograph is a triple exposure … Stewart first marked the floor, set the camera timer, ran to the spot and click! He then rolled back the film, changed his appearance, set the camera timer, ran to the middle spot and click! And again, for the third shot.  You could say that Stewart was among the innovators of the very, very early manipulative Photoshop concept along with the Selfie!

As a dues-paying member of the Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most renowned thespians, including Lucille Ball, Susan Sarandon, Shelly Winters, Sterling Hayden, Judd Hirsch, Barry Miller, Robert De Niro, and so many more.

Stone Pillow with Lucille BallSusan Sarandon, Shelly Winters and StewartKing of Gypsies fight sceneStewart with his fellow GypsiesStewart and Judd Hersch warm their handsSterling Hayden, Shelly Winters in King of the GypsiesBarbershop ad, Dr. Mengele & Joseph GerbelsStewart and Hasids outside shulStewart and his Hasid familyTop-Robert DeNiro & Stewart; Stewart the Hasid;