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Dearest Teacher

Dearest Teacher, A new musical by Robert Stempin, is now complete and ready for a workshop. The composer/lyricist is Leo LaBranche, with additional lyrics by Andrea Braun. What began as a play 20 years ago turned into a musical when Stempin found his lyricist/composer right here in cyberspace. The two began working together nine months ago through cyberspace, tapes and telephone and recently met each other in person, only two months ago!

Dearest Teacher tells the story of a young Annie Sullivan (Helen Keller's teacher) prior to her meeting Helen. It is a two act musical drama set in the Massachusetts State Infirmary/Perkins School for the Blind. The musical comes to a dramatic ending as twenty-one year old Annie Sullivan begins that 'miraculous journey' to Tuscumbia, Alabama to teach the young Helen Keller.

The beautiful 'Tony-award' play, The Miracle Worker, by William Gibson, actually begins where Dearest Teacher leaves off. Stempin and LaBranche are in the process of actively seeking investors and producers. We'll keep you posted as things develop with this musical that is Broadway bound.

Tidbits: Though Talkin' Broadway generally shuns back-stage politics, we were rather vocal on the Disney-Livent-Tony connection. It seems that not all of the worms in that particular can have been exposed yet. It was reported in both the New York Times and Variety, that Garth Drabinsky and company kept two sets of books, thereby hiding the true financial status of the Livent Corp. Seems there are a few institutions interested in what the differences between those books reveal.

What is an Irish Wake really like? Colin Quinn, who stepped into SNL's "Weekend Update", will begin a limited run of his one man show, entitled, Colin Quinn —An Irish Wake on August 15, at the Helen Hayes.

That same night will be the last for the Off-Broadway revue, When Pigs Fly. The revue, which has garnered mantels full of awards, will be closing after 855 performances, and one night past its 2nd anniversary.

News of two of Talkin' Broadway's own favorites: Seems that August 15th is a Red Letter Day in Theater. Brian D'Arcy James will be sailing on. The long running favorite actor of Titanic will vacate the role of stoker Frederick Barrett, which will be taken over by Clarke Thorell. We hope Brian will keep us informed of his future plans. Another favorite here, lovely Alice Ripley, has signed to assume the role of Fantine in Broadway's Les Miz. We wish her all the best. Another reason to visit this show again.

Broadway's favorite Adelaide, Faith Prince (and a formidable Anna) will star in a Roundabout revival of Little Me with Martin Short, to be directed by Rob Marshall. It's about time this is staged again, and I'm in line for tickets already.

Bob Rusie, has reported that Livent has opted to restore yet another Broadway theater. In cooperation with The New 42nd St. Corp. and sized down from its original 1050 odd seats, The Times Square Theater will return to duty as a small (500 seat) legitimate theater by fall of the year 2000, 80 years after its initial opening. It will be part of a larger theater complex of restaurants, shops and offices. We welcome back the stage that first presented Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Front Page and Private Lives.

For you Cabaret fans, Bruce Kimmel produced a great new CD for the Varese Sarabande label. If you love the Kander & Ebb score as much as I do, you'll love this disc. It's performed by the Brad Ellis Little Big Band and it's a bluesy, jazzy instrumental version. The arrangements are done by Brad Ellis (also on piano). Sometimes it's dixieland, sometimes blues and "Don't Tell Mama" is downright sultry! After 15 seconds I was hooked on this CD. Get it. You'll love it! (Cabaret, Themes From the Hit Musical, Varese VSD-5915)

Finally, for our west coast theater fans, Liz Smith tells us that Annette Bening will bring Ibsen back to life in L.A. in the spring. Seems Miss Bening has signed for the title role in Hedda Gabler at the Geffen Playhouse. Do I hear coughing? Don't forget Annette started in legitimate theater and received a Tony nomination for Coastal Disturbances to boot.

Our Talkin' Broadway auction is doing well over on e-bay. Head on over if you'd like to participate. Proceeds to charity!

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See you Sunday!

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