Archive for the American Vaudeville Theatre Category

Photos from American Vaudeville WWI Tribute/ Metropolitan Playhouse Gala

Posted in American Vaudeville Theatre, AMERICANA, ME, My Shows, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , on April 27, 2017 by travsd

April 2017 marks the centennial anniversary of America’s involvement in World War One. April also just so happens to be the time of year when one of our favorite theatres, the Metropolitan Playhouse has their annual fundraising gala. And this year marks their 25th anniversary. On Tuesday April 25 my American Vaudeville Theatre presented their commemorative tribute to 1917…and so doing paid tribute to the Metropolitan besides. Here are some pix of the evening. Few were taken of the actual performance, folks have been sharing a bunch of the before and after.

Yours truly, the M.C., and the post-show ritual

BEN MODEL, one of the nation’s premier silent film accompanists, educators and exhibitors. It was our good fortune to have him at the piano


Parisian chanteuse GAY MARSHALL surrounded by admirers

The cast of Marion Craig Wentworth’s one act play WAR BRIDES (L-R): Morgan Zipf-Meister, Victoria Miller, Amy Overman, Alyssa Simon


Victoria Miller, whose very NAME signifies Victory for the Allies! 

JONATHAN “HAPPY” SMITH sang English music hall songs

Then we showed Charlie Chaplin’s WWI propaganda film THE BOND, with BEN MODEL at the piano

LORINNE LAMPERT, at the finale of her big George M. Cohan number

Thanks to all who made the night a big success.

2013: The Year in Review

Posted in American Vaudeville Theatre, Contemporary Variety, ME, My Shows with tags , , , on January 2, 2014 by travsd

Happy New Year!

Now that we’re done tooting horns  in celebration of the arrival of 2014, today we toot our own horn about the year just past. It’s been an eventful twelvemonth on many fronts, highlighted by the release of a new book, some of my most ambitious vaudeville and burlesque shows to date, speaking engagements and other public appearances, several video and web tv projects, and several exciting trips. And more!

Here’s our retrospective re-cap (just click on the links below for more info about the events):



* Hosted Just Noise: A Concert Recording Session for Beck’s Song Reader at the Brick Theater. While the event sported dozens of amazing acts like Pendulum Swings and Killy Dwyer, I am afraid this is the clip I have to share with you:

* Also in January 2013, I was privileged to speak to an SRO crowd at the Greater Astoria Historical Society on the impact of 19th century German immigration on American show biz. The event was hosted by the NY 19th Century Society. More info in that sexy, sexy event is here.



Sat down with Martin Denton of Indie Theater Now for a nice podcast chat about my early years, and the posting of many of my plays on his terrific website. Your gateway to all that happiness is right here.



* March saw the publication of my second book  Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, by Bear Manor Media, available from etc etc etc. Just follow that link for more info!

* My first Chain of Fools book event was held in the Westerly Public Library in the town of my birth, Westerly, Rhode Island. The talk was about Douglas Fairbanks and his film American Aristocracy, which had been shot locally.   More info about that event is here. 


with Ben Model of the Silent Clowns film series

with Ben Model of the Silent Clowns film series

Our New York Chain of Fools launch event was held at Dixon Place. A good time was had by all! The full account is here. 



Hilary Chaplain, who collaborated with me on the silent film “A Change in Brunch Plans”

* Our second NY Chain of Fools launch event was held at the Brick Theater, this one featuring original contemporary silent films by clown film makers. More about my own short film A Change in Brunch Plans (including the film), can be found here. 


* I was featured in a Washington Post piece about New Burlesque this month. More details and a link are here. 

* I also met Liza Minelli and Michael Feinstein at Vince Giordano’s show in May. Mr. Feinstein turned out to be a fan of my book No Applause! The full account of the historic event is here. 



* We presented our grandest vaudeville show ever this month at the Players Club, in celebration of the Palace Theatre’s 100th birthday. The All-Star cast included Ed Sullivan impersonator Will Jordan, tv pioneer Joe Franklin, sideshow king Todd Robbins, members of the Flying Karamazov Bros, et al. For the full report go here. 

photo 4

* In June we held our second Rhode Island Chain of Fools event at What Cheer Antiques in Providence. This trip was a joy in that I got to re-connect with a town where I used to live but haven’t gotten to visit in a quarter century, to see lots of family and old friends, and to meet some new ones. Read all about it here.

sue rich pic #1

* To Ithaca, New York for my son Cashel’s high school graduation!



* Revived our collaboration with Angie Pontani’s Burlesque-a-pades in Horse Trade’s Burlesque Blitz Festival. More info in that show here. 


* I was thrilled to play the host in Kevin Maher’s hilarious 4th of July comedy video; check it out here:

me and brothers 2013

* Was ecstatic to return to Rhode Island for the third time in a year for the first family reunion in many years. I was especially glad to reunite with my three brothers (above) at this time, because Chain of Fools is dedicated to them.



* In August we presented our Burlesque Tribute to the Bathing Beauties show at Coney Island USA. The full photo record of this event is here. 

trav and killy

* Also that month we had a more intimate musical event at Dixon Place, featuring our own self, plus mockstar Killy Dwyer and Carla Rhodes & Cecil Sinclair.


* Made my third appearance on the popular Halli-Casser Jane Show, talking about silent film and Charlie Chaplin. More info on the episode and a link to it are here. 


Vitagraph BPL 2

* Spoke to a full house at the Brooklyn Public Library on the topic of Vitagraph Studios. Full description here. 

* Spoke at the Mint Theatre on the subject of playwright George Kelly. More on that here.


* Launched the first of several web tv interviews I did for NY Community Media. This one was with Angie Pontani and Shelly Watson of the NY Burlesque Festival. Go to the full clip right here.



* Shot Too Much Nutcracker, a new original silent comedy, with Jim Moore behind the lens, and my co-stars Audrey Crabtree, Glenn Heroy, Jen Harder and Jason Nunes. It’s in post-production now; we hope to have it completed this month.


* Our second Community Media web tv interview was with  Hanna Cheek and Clay McCleod Chapman as they talked about their latest installment of The Pumpkin Pie Show. That interview and my October column are here. 

* In October I also took a trip up to Burlington, VT to visit my son at the University of Vermont. Dig my full travelogue of that junket here. 

* This month Cybele Tamulonis published her book of short fiction The Pen Prostitute, featuring an introduction by moi. The book can be purchased here. 



* I interviewed the legendary Mink Stole and Penny Arcade for Community Media. That interview and my review of their show The Mutilated is here. 


* General Jinjur and I went to Ireland for a week to see my son Charlie and much else; a minute record of our awesome adventures is to be found here.

* This month Travalanche (this blog) reached a half million hits! Other landmarks on this front: in 2013 (as if you didn’t notice) we vastly increased the amount of content on the site, producing almost as many new posts (1,900) as we had published during the previous five years (over 2,000). This strategy began to pay off in increased traffic towards fall, when I hit on some effective new methods for promoting the posts. Our goal is to reach a million by the end of next year!



* Our article on the great humorists of the Jazz Age came out in the new issue of Zelda magazine. Get it here. 


* We so enjoyed getting to spend a good bit of Q.T. with our friends from the Brick Theatre in Northampton, Massachusetts for the wedding of the Brick’s Gyda’s Arber and her beau Steve Sabaugh.  A magical capstone to an eventful year.


Thanks to all who helped to make this such a terrific and exciting time. We have a bunch of downright earth-shaking plans to announce for 2014; details to follow very soon. Best wishes to all as we enter this exciting new period together!


Vaudephone #3: Carla Rhodes (and Cecil Sinclair)

Posted in American Vaudeville Theatre, Comediennes, Comedy, Contemporary Variety, PLUGS, Ventriloquism & Puppetry with tags , , , on August 22, 2013 by travsd


Originally posed in 2011. 

Ventriloquist  Carla Rhodes and her wooden partner Cecil Sinclair have a big show coming up this Friday! The show is at Cloud City in Williamsburg Brooklyn, all the dope is here:

In the meantime, to whet your appetite here is our  Vaudephone, which we taped with the loving couple a few months back…

Vaudephone is a co-production of Travalanche/ the American Vaudeville Theatre, and

Last Night’s Theatre Museum Benefit

Posted in American Vaudeville Theatre, Broadway, Contemporary Variety, Indie Theatre, ME, My Shows, SOCIAL EVENTS, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2013 by travsd
Stewart F. Lane & Bonnie Comley of the Theatre Museum Board, and the Palace Theatre

Stewart F. Lane & Bonnie Comley

Last night’s benefit for the Theatre Museum at the Players Club was a humdinger, and no mistake. Hats off to Mr. Broadway Stewart F. Lane (of the Palace Theatre, and Chair of the Theatre Museum), and producer/ actress (and Theatre Museum board member) Bonnie Comley, for making it a huge success.

The place was hopping! Check it out, look who’s on Joe Franklin’s arm but Marilyn Sokol, from Foul Play, The Front, The Goodbye Girl and Can’t Stop the Music, which, coincidentally, the Duchess and I had watched only a few weeks ago.


The event began with a moving tribute to Helen Guditis, the late founder and head of the Theatre Museum, and the source of my involvement with the organization in the first place. Her presence of course was the one element missing last night, but it was nice to see so many of her family there.

This tribute was followed by a special award to Emerson College, and then it was on to the 100th anniversary tribute to the Palace Theatre, produced and organized by me, which came off better than my fondest hopes thanks to the excellence of the performers.

I palaver about the Palace

I palaver about the Palace

Then I turned the mic over to Master of Ceremonies Todd Robbins, who was at his polished and sure-footed best:


And then on to the acts:

Rodeo Roper Chris McDaniel, whose act recollected the great Will Rogers (coincidentally the Will Rogers Follies had been ensconced at the Palace back in the 90s)

Chris McDaniel photo by Rob Rich © 2013 516-676-3939

Adorable young Ariella Pizza sang Frances White’s “Mississippi Song” and tap danced:

Ariela Pizza photo by Rob Rich © 2013 516-676-3939

Then Joe Franklin came out and gave some hilarious reminiscences of Eddie Cantor (whom he wrote for as a teenager) and other memories of the Palace.

This was followed by a surprise visit by Will Jordan, the popular impressionist from the 1950s and 60s, most famous for his uncanny and highly influential Ed Sullivan, which he has done in countless movies. He, too, shared his show biz memories.

will jordan

That”s how he looks now; here’s archival clip of his act from his heyday:

Following these gentlemen, our favorite waif in the world Poor Baby Bree came out to sing, accompnaied as always by Franklin Bruno:

Poor Baby Bree photo by Rob Rich © 2013 516-676-3939

Then juggling clowns/ musicians Rod Kimball and Andy Sapora of the Flying Karamazov Brothers came out and cut up:


The incomparable Rebecca Joy Fletcher performed her Yiddish cabaret songs:


Lastly Ron Hutchinson of the Vitaphone Project showed a montage of clips of some of the great Palace stars, as well as the 1929 Burns and Allen Vitaphone short Lamb Chops. It was nice to hear their ghosts mingling with those of the Booth Brothers and the other thespians spirits in the old townhouse.

Poster - Vitaphone frame

At any rate this was a killer bill, and these people all donated their services. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.

For more photo coverage of last night’s event, see:

All-Star Palace Centennial Tribute June 3

Posted in American Vaudeville Theatre, Broadway, Contemporary Variety, PLUGS, SOCIAL EVENTS, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , on May 24, 2013 by travsd
On March 24 of this year the Palace Theatre turned one hundred years old. In celebration of the event, me and my American Vaudeville Theatre are presenting a Special One-Time Only Tribute Show as part of the Theatre Museum’s Annual Gala at the Players Club on June 3.
Joining us on stage will be:
* Ubiquitous Show Biz Renaissance Man Todd Robbins as Emcee!
* Broadcast Legend Joe Franklin!
Rod Kimball & Company (from The Flying Karamazov Brothers)
* Vintage Films from the Vitaphone Project!
* Beloved Bowery Chanteuse Poor Baby Bree!
* (Direct from Texas) Rodeo Roper Chris McDaniel!
* Child star Ariella Pizza!
And More! More More!
Including the 2013 Theatre Museum Awards honoring:
Helen Marie Guditis
Presented by Stewart F. Lane
Distinguished Service to the Theatre Award
Emerson College 
Presented by Bonnie Comley
Theatre Arts Education Award
It all takes place…
Monday, June 3rd, 2013
The Players Club
16 Gramercy Park South, NYC
6pm Cocktail Reception
7pm Awards Presentation
Cocktail Attire
$250 for Individual Tickets
Please send all payments to:
The Theatre Museum
 40 Worth Street, Suite 824
New York, NY 10013
Phone: 212-315-0502

100th Anniversary Salute to the Palace

Posted in American Vaudeville Theatre, Contemporary Variety, My Shows, PLUGS, SOCIAL EVENTS, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , on May 13, 2013 by travsd


On March 24 of this year the Palace Theatre turned one hundred years old. In celebration of the event, me and my American Vaudeville Theatre are presenting a Special One-Time Only Tribute Show as part of the Theatre Museum’s Annual Gala at the Players Club on June 3.

Joining us on stage will be:

* Ubiquitous Show Biz Renaissance Man Todd Robbins as Emcee!

* Broadcast Legend Joe Franklin!

* Rod Kimball & Company (from The Flying Karamazov Brothers)

* Vintage Films from the Vitaphone Project!

* Beloved Bowery Chanteuse Poor Baby Bree!

* (Direct from Texas) Rodeo Roper Chris McDaniel!

* Child star Ariella Pizza!

And More! More More!


Including the 2013 Theatre Museum Awards honoring:

Helen Marie Guditis

Presented by Stewart F. Lane

Distinguished Service to the Theatre Award

Emerson College

Presented by Bonnie Comley

Theatre Arts Education Award

It all takes place…

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The Players Club

16 Gramercy Park South, NYC

6pm Cocktail Reception

7pm Awards Presentation

Cocktail Attire

$250 for Individual Tickets


Please send all payments to:

The Theatre Museum

40 Worth Street, Suite 824

New York, NY 10013

Phone: 212-315-0502

Three Cheers for the Countess!

Posted in American Vaudeville Theatre, ME, Vaudeville etc., Women on July 21, 2011 by travsd

As we head into the home stretch of our brief run in the New York International Fringe Festival, I just wanted to pause a moment and extend my heartfelt appreciation to the Countess, known to most government authorities as Carolyn Raship. Folks who peruse the program and marketing materials for our little one-horse show will note that she is listed as “Consulting Director”. “What does that mean?” you may wonder. Well, we made it up. As anyone can tell you, it’s deuced hard to direct yourself on stage. Some manage, but this correspondent has enough trouble holding the reins on his own part, let alone standing outside himself and seeing the big picture. As she did with my Tetragrammaton earlier this year, Carolyn generously stepped in and brought her expertise (greater than mine) to the task of moving bodies around artfully through space. You can see her hand especially in the “Crime of the Rhyme” sketch in the show, as well as the “One Ball Juggler” bit, and other solo bits I do. She was also the director of Sarah Engelke’s “Strega Nona” routine, performed in the show last week.

More palpably perhaps, she has busied herself with an amazing series of portraits of many of the acts in our show, which you can see at her swell new Tumblr blog here (if you haven’t already). This series has really added up to something, I feel. In short, it has legs. What the creature is or where it will walk on those legs, no one knows, but something beautiful, useful, and full of potential seems to have been loosed on the world. Let’s all keep our eye on it and hope that it doesn’t bite.

The Countess, in case it wasn’t plain, is my every happiness. I love her way more than vaudeville.

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