Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary To Me and KSA.

Today, on Boxing Day, 31 years ago, I founded my PR firm, KSA, Keith Sherman & Associates. And I am ready for the Renaissance of 2021. I can’t wait to get back to doing what I love to do – working in theatre, film, TV, music, art, books, award shows, global events and more.

I’m incredibly proud that my associates Brett Oberman, Scott Klein and Logan Metzler have been working with me for 20, 19 and 12 years respectively. We are a great team.

While we are living in a terrible moment, we need to know that it is going to pass. There is light ahead, and so much to look forward to in the roaring 20s.

31 years. Bring it on.

Ballet Dancers Get Their Nutcracker Fix Upstate

Ballet Dancers Get Their Nutcracker Fix Upstate

By Wendy Goodman

Ballet dancers are normally busy this time of year with various productions of The Nutcracker, but they are not able to be because theaters are still closed. So this December, ballet soloist, choreographer, and artistic director of BalletCollective, Troy Schumacher, is putting on a production in a mansion — the Wethersfield Estate in Dutchess County — not unlike the one in which the ballet’s first act takes place.

Schumacher dreamed up this guided experience of the holiday ballet as dancers have had classes and practiced choreography on their computers. But Schumacher has conceived of a way to bring the ballet to life with safety guidelines in place, presenting the full-length Tchaikovsky masterpiece within a setting that could have been created for the ballet alone. The estate sprawls over 1,000 acres and was the passion project of Chauncey Devereux Stillman (1907–1989), an “art collector, horseman, garden enthusiast, and conservationist.”

Members of the New York City Ballet, including Sara Mearns, Tyler Angle, Ashley Laracey, Taylor Stanley, and others, will be on hand as the audience roams through the mansion and grounds, witnessing the party, battle, the snow ballet, and the Land of the Sweets up close.

“I was given a tour of Wethersfield in mid-September to brainstorm about presenting a performance next summer in their famous gardens,” Schumacher told me. “At the end of the tour, I was, by chance, brought into the house. Something immediately felt magical, and I asked myself, Is this the set of The Nutcracker?

The seed was planted and then at the end of the summer, he said, “there seemed to be a resurgence of small, intrepid performing-arts events. I had just premiered what was potentially the first full, live ballet in America since the start of the shutdown. I felt incredibly accomplished but had started worrying about what would happen when the seasons changed and the theaters remained closed. What would happen to the holidays? To my colleagues giving themselves ballet barres in their kitchens for 12 more months? I had been searching for the perfect opportunity to give something back to the community and provide as many people as I could with work and artistic purpose again.”

It’s a daunting challenge, and as much as Schumacher has pulled off feats of daring and success with his BalletCollective in the past, he has never had a challenge like this. “I am currently doing 12 months’ work in 12 weeks!” he said. “We are reimagining a quintessential holiday tradition in an incredible new way. A huge feat, but we are also doing it in the age of COVID, so the logistics are immense, with artist and guest safety and guideline compliance being our highest priority.”

However, before you try to book your trip to the Land of the Sweets, note that, for safety reasons, invitations are limited to underwriters of the production as well as some families personally affected by the pandemic. But, like everything these days, it will be streamed live.

TheaterMakers Summit


Speaking at an industry video conference Saturday, Broadway League Chairman Thomas Schumacher said that restarting Broadway after the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic will be gradual and dependent on tourism rebounding.

“Without those tourists, it’s going to be a challenge for us to hit both the capacity targets and the average ticket price that people want to hit,” Schumacher, president of Disney Theatrical and head of the Broadway trade association, said at producer Ken Davenport’s TheaterMakers Summit. “To imagine that the faucet just turns on isn’t a healthy way to approach it. It’s going to take some building.”

In Broadway’s last full season before performances were suspended in March, the average ticket price was $124 and tourists accounted for 65 percent of admissions, according to the League, which represents theater owners and producers.

Interviewed by press agent Rick Miramontez, Schumacher, 62, declined to predict when in 2021 Broadway will reopen. “Many, many people on this call are thinking that their shows are going to open in the fall,” he said. “And there are people who are very hopeful that some shows will be able to open over the course of the summer. We’re going to get guidance both from city government and from state government as to how we do that. And we have to follow that guidance.”

The Disney executive defended the trade association’s laconic communications with members and the public about reopening, which sparked criticism within the industry.

“Everybody wants access to information,” Schumacher said. “But the information is complicated. And it’s very nuanced and it’s very layered. And in an effort to make sure that nothing gets out of control, it’s a relatively small circle that gets the information and shares it with membership at large. That is a necessary but very complicated process, as we try to manage information in a world where everything you say is amplified and broadcast and often misinterpreted.”

Schumacher said rapid testing of Covid could be key to restarting Broadway, along with mass vaccinations expected next year. “If we’re able to have really accurate, really clear rapid testing,” he said, “that’s also going to change how people feel about this.”

“We’re going to rely on science, technology and medicine. And big things are all going to work together. I think there are things that are coming that may not be public yet about protocols that we can do that will be valuable.”

Schumacher was speaking from Sydney, where he was wrapping up two weeks of government-mandated quarantine ahead of tech rehearsals for a production of the musical Frozen.  Australia is a pandemic success story, thanks to the closing of its borders, a state-ordered lockdown, contact tracing, testing and social distancing.

Schumacher also addressed the subject of diversity backstage and in theatrical offices. He praised the advocacy groups Black Theatre United, Black Theatre Coalition and the Broadway Advocacy Coalition. (He didn’t mention We See You, White American Theater, which in August tweeted headshots of the League’s predominantly-white board of governors.)

Schumacher said the League is poised to hire a specialist in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), but insisted that its power to influence individual members is limited. “The League doesn’t curate Broadway, doesn’t pick the shows, doesn’t pick the creative teams, doesn’t employ very many people. All the League can do is speak to its members and give them the opportunity to get training, have awareness, host seminars and do all of that. The hard work needs to be done by the producers — producers, directors, writers working together to really build this community.”

Schumacher punted on disclosing the date of the Tony Awards for the 2019-20 season, despite heavy promotion of the nominations, which were announced on Oct. 15. “Check the press releases,” he said. “Of all the things people should be anxious about, the Tony Awards might slip a little further down on that list while we try to get back up to full employment in our community, which would be my big goal.”

Kate Rockwell to Welcome Ashley Park as Special Guest for WINE TASTING 101 Virtual Event

The virtual wine tasting event will take place on October 17 at 7:00pm EST

Kate Rockwell, who has been starring as Karen Smith in Broadway’s Mean Girls, has announced that fellow Mean Girl and star of Netflix’s “Emily In Paris” and “Tales of the City” Ashley Park will be her special guest at an interactive virtual evening of wine tasting on October 17 at 7:00pm EST. Wine Tasting 101 is produced by Ken Davenport, two-time Tony Award-winning producer, in partnership with the TheaterMakers Studio. Tickets are $15 for the virtual wine tasting class.

Kate Rockwell is turning her personal spotlight onto her second love… wine. Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certified with several years of experience in the NYC wine industry, Rockwell is using her time off the Broadway stage to help spread her love of all things vino. Sing along to Broadway tunes, chat in real time with Rockwell, and explore her wine selection.

“I am very excited to have Ashley Park join me as my special guest at Wine Tasting 101,” said Kate Rockwell. “We have hilarious stories from our time in Mean Girls and I can wait to drink wine and have girl time with her as we chat virtually with audience members.”

Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 2018 and Presqu’ile Winery Pinot Noir 2018 will be the wines sampled in the tasting which are distributed by Flatiron Wines in New York City. To purchase these two bottles, visit their website https://nyc.flatiron-wines.com/.

In Wine Tasting 101, audience members will be able to:

-Learn the basics of wine tasting-how to do it, why we do what we do, and the questions to ask when you’re learning about wine.

-Try two wines side by side with Kate and discuss the primary characteristics of those particular styles of wine and the grape varietals used to make them (what makes a California Pinot Noir unique? Why is it different from a French pinot noir? And why is it called something different in France than in the US?)

-Discuss the nuances of these two SPECIFIC bottles

Kate’s love for wine was discovered by accident as a friend of hers had changed careers from being an actor to running a wine shop. She had always enjoyed visiting wineries in Long Island with her husband but didn’t know much about it so she got a job at the shop during her down time in theater to learn more about it and worked there for two years. Along with getting her wine certification through WSET, she also developed a passion for natural wine, which is wine without pesticides, chemicals, and other additives.

“With Ashley Park joining Kate for this special evening, I think audience members are in for a treat,” said producer Ken Davenport. “I look forward to learning about wine and hearing fun theater stories along the way.”

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by visiting Stellar Tickets: HERE

Theatre Calgary has new executive director

Theatre Calgary’s new executive director is a former Albertan who’s returning after a lengthy stint in the U.S.

Maya Choldin will replace James Reader, the current interim executive director, when she assumes her duties on Nov. 2.

Choldin just wrapped six seasons as managing director of Philadelphia’s Pig Iron Theatre and, before that, she was general manager of the Pennsylvania Ballet.

It’s a theatre career that almost didn’t occur. After attending school in Edmonton, Choldin enrolled at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick to study biology of all things.

“In my first year of university, I auditioned for the drama department’s production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing. I was cast in the smallest role but that was enough for me to fall in love with theatre,” says Choldin. “I felt a real sense of belonging and never looked back. The next year I marched into the drama department and asked them to please put me to work doing anything which they did. My biology degree went out the window which is something I’ve never regretted.”

In the late 1990s, Choldin spent a summer studying and working at the Banff Summer Festival, which reinforced for her the vibrant theatre culture in the province. When Choldin saw that Theatre Calgary was searching for an executive director to work with artistic director Stafford Arima, she “pursued the position vigorously because it is an organization that is important and vital to Calgary.

“I want to be able to help Theatre Calgary continue to make a meaningful impact on the lives of Calgarians especially in these very uncertain times. Now more than ever theatres have to remind people what art brings to their lives.”

She stresses that “once the pandemic is over, people are just naturally going to come back to the theatre. We have to ensure there is a compelling reason for people to return to Theatre Calgary. I know that is very much Stafford’s mission and I am determined to help him in any way possible,” said Choldin.

“We have to make sure that, not just audiences, but the artists who will be working at Theatre Calgary will feel safe to come back to the theatre and that the theatre they return to will be vibrant and meaningful.”

Choldin’s husband, Nick Kourtides, is a sound designer who has just accepted a short-term assignment in Australia. When he returns to Philadelphia, he will drive with Choldin and their dog Baxter to Calgary. She’ll be working from Philadelphia until she arrives in the city in early December.

Al Hirschfeld Foundation Regains Complete Control of Legendary Artist’s Work

Al Hirschfeld Foundation Regains Complete Control of Legendary Artist’s Work

The foundation had been part of lengthy court battle against its former gallery.
Al Hirschfeld’s 1969 drawing of 1776.
(© The Al Hirschfeld Foundation)

The Al Hirschfeld Foundation has regained complete control of the legendary artist’s work after a multi-year court case.

The not-for-profit organization, established in 2004 by Hirschfeld’s will, filed suit against the New York-based Margo Feiden Galleries in 2016, accusing them of flooding the market with unauthorized reproductions of Hirschfeld’s work. They had sold his drawings for more than four decades.

The United States District Court, Southern District of New York, awarded the Foundation a total of $452,767.62 in damages after finding that the gallery breached its September 2000 agreement. The court found that the galleries made unauthorized copies, failed to account for 27 original drawings, and failed to report or pay the Foundation for a number of sales.

In the initial complaint, the Foundation said it never approved for certain reproductions of Hirschfeld’s work, as well as accused them of selling print-on-demand giclées. The Foundation’s relationship with the Margo Feiden Galleries is now 100% terminated. The gallery was also sanctioned by the court.

Hirschfeld, the beloved Broadway caricaturist, died at the age of 99 in 2003. His signature work, defined by a linear calligraphic style, appeared in virtually every major publication of the last nine decades, as well as numerous book and record covers, and 15 postage stamps.

THE DOO WOP PROJECT Announced for October 25

The Doo Wop Project traces the evolution of Doo Wop from the classic sound of five guys singing tight harmonies on a street corner to today’s biggest hits.

Over a million people around the world have fallen in love with The Doo Wop Project and now you can too, right from your living room.

Ken Davenport presents The Doo Wop Project: Live In Your Living Room, a virtual theatrical concert, broadcast live from Shubert Studios, on Sunday, October 25th at 7:00PM. Tickets prices, starting at $25, and can be purchased by visiting www.TheDooWopProject.com.

The Doo Wop Project traces the evolution of Doo Wop from the classic sound of five guys singing tight harmonies on a street corner to the biggest hits on the radio today. The theatrical concert takes audiences on a journey from foundational tunes of groups like the Crests, Belmonts, and Flamingos through their influences on the sounds of Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, and The Four Seasons all the way to “Doo-Wopified” versions of modern musicians like Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, and Maroon 5.

Featuring stars of Broadway’s smash hits Jersey Boys and Motown: The Musical, The Doo Wop Project brings unparalleled authenticity of sound and vocal excellence to recreate-and in some cases entirely reimagine-some of the greatest music in American pop and rock history.

The last five years have seen sold-out shows across the country and performances with everyone from Katy Perry to Jon Bon Jovi to Jay Leno.

The Doo Wop Project has been seen in theaters across the country from Minnesota and Maryland to California and New Jersey. Their popular Symphonic Pops show has been performed with dozens of symphonies including Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Omaha, Vancouver, Detroit, and more.

The cast of The Doo Wop Project includes: Charl Brown (Motown: The Musical), Dwayne Cooper (Smokey Joe’s Café), John Michael Dias (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Russell Fischer (Jersey Boys), Dominic Nolfi (Jersey Boys), and Santino Paladino (Pippin).

Critics are raving about The Doo Wop Project. The Chautauquan Daily said, “Doo Wop Project is street corner music for a new generation” and The Omaha World-Herald cheered, “Refreshing pop flavor… a rowdy standing ovation!” Nuvo Indianapolis applauded “lush orchestral arrangements,” and Maryland Theatre Guide praised the show saying, “The joy of the group’s performance was infectious and it was clear the guys were having as much fun as the audience.”

“They say that music has the power to heal and I think we all could use a little healing right now,” said producer Ken Davenport. “The Doo Wop Project is more than just a concert though – it’s a theatrical exploration through some of the best tunes ever written. We look forward to having audiences experience the show virtually, in the comfort of their own homes, and we think the intimate Shubert Studios is the perfect venue to highlight this unique group.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with each other AND with The Doo Wop Project via a live chat, which will appear next to the video stream. Attendees can request songs to The Doo Wop Project in the chat.

The Doo Wop Project also invites attendees to host their own dance parties in their living rooms and even sing along with the group.

Tickets, ranging from $25-$75, can be purchased by visiting: www.TheDooWopProject.com.

Melay Araya Announced as New Artistic Director of The Town Hall

Melay Araya Announced as New Artistic Director of The Town Hall

The Town Hall has also announced new, free digital programming.

Melay said, “I feel honored to build on The Town Hall’s robust and inspiring legacy of being the ‘Hall for All.’ In the face of the pandemic, the protests, the constant political, environmental and social change all over the world, The Town Hall will strive to provide audiences with art, entertainment, education and inspiration. There is so much need: a need for insight, for illumination, for comfort, for distraction, and for pleasure.”

“For nearly a century, The Town Hall is where downtown came uptown, where uptown came downtown, and where artists the world over brought their groundbreaking work to live audiences. I envision a time in the not-too-distant future where we can continue in that great tradition with live events. But for now, we have a robust slate of free digital programming to announce.”

Zucker noted, “Melay is a breath of fresh air and a new perspective. With her vision, we will take artistic risks and use our digital platform to break young, experimental artists in dance, visual art, literary art and film. While continuing to present live-streamed, audience-free concerts, we are already planning for a post-pandemic time when live audiences will return to 43rd Street. But safety and science come first.”

This fall programming at The Town Hall will feature free live-streamed and online events as noted below. The company is building its programming with artists from around the world to provide audiences new ways of seeing, responding to, and finding some pleasure in the present moment.”


The Town Hall Teach-Ins is a new program of adult education on a diverse array of topics meant to expand our audience’s consciousness.


Chris Hegadus will discuss the Criterion Collection’s release of her documentary Town Bloody Hall (1979), which captured Norman Mailer, Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, Diana Trilling and Jacqueline Ceballos in an infamous debate on women’s liberation at The Town Hall. Dr. Mia Mask, Professor of Film at Vassar College, will speak to Chris Hegadus about the film, the evolution of American documentary film, and The Town Hall event itself.

9/24: Screening of FANDANGO ON THE WALL (2020) dir. Varda Bar-Kar.

The Town Hall presents a free live streamed screening of the HBO film documenting Grammy winner O’Farrill’s trip as he recorded an album on the Mexico-United States border. Followed by a post-show interactive Q+A with director Varda Bar-Kar and Arturo O’Farrill.

10/01: BLACK PEOPLE ARE MY BUSINESS: Toni Cade Bambara’s Practices of Liberation – A Teach-In with Professor Thabiti Lewis

Thabiti Lewis, Professor of English at Washington State University, presents his recently released book “Black People Are My Business”: Toni Cade Bambara’s Practices of Liberation (2020) in a teach-in on Toni Cade Bambara’s work and its relevance to activists and cultural workers today.

10/06: CSS Demanding Space: SUFFRAGE, POLITICS, AND POWER IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY WITH HISTORIANS Lauren Santangelo and Dr. Paula Austin

The two educators will discuss Santangelo’s book Suffrage and the City: New York Women Battle for the Ballot (2019) and Austen’s Coming of Age in Jim Crow DC (2019). Conversation to include suffrage movements in New York and Washington, DC., and will cover the legacy of The League for Political Education, the suffragist organization that founded The Town Hall. Santangelo is a lecturer at Princeton University. Austin is a professor at Boston University.

10/13: Century of Story and Song – Louis Armstrong’S HEART OF RHYTHM WITH Ricky Riccardi

Riccardi, Director of Research Collections for the Louis Armstrong House Museum, will present his latest book Heart Full of Rhythm: The Big Band Years of Louis Armstrong (2020)

DATE TBA: The 50th Anniversary of THE BLUEST EYE

The Town Hall presents a 50th anniversary commemoration of Toni Morrison’s landmark debut with scholars and peers of the great novelist.


Poets gather for a fundraiser to benefit organizations doing on the ground-work in the aftermath of the August explosion in Beirut.


The Town Hall hosts a Halloween and Blue Moon (2nd full moon of the month) celebration to commemorate the 1973 Town Hall concert and recording of Sun Ra and the Arkestra’s homage to the Comet Kohoutek, which was passing by Earth at the time.

MELAY ARAYA (Artistic Director) is an arts programmer and trained vocalist, violinist and actor. A researcher who has worked for institutions such as the Schomburg Center, Columbia University and Realside Productions, Melay cut her teeth in arts and humanities programming creating and managing programs which include showings at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the National Gallery of Art, and the Venice Biennale, and speaker events at universities such as Stanford University and Tulane University.


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By Ryan Leeds

One might consider Keith Sherman to be the Nellie Forbush of public relations. The veteran cockeyed optimist just celebrated the 30th anniversary of his entertainment-focused agency last year and was sailing high until COVID-19 shuddered theaters and live venues in March.

That’s when he and his husband Roy, a medical director at two nursing facilities, moved from their Hell’s Kitchen residence to their upstate home in Dutchess County, along with their rescue dog, Murphy.

Sherman, whose long list of clients include Mike Birbiglia in The New One on Broadway, Feinstein’s/54 Below, The Town Hall, The Chita Rivera Awards and countless shows on and Off-Broadway (Be More Chill, A Christmas Story), recently spoke with The Broadway Blog about the current state of the arts, the chances for their return, and his own battle with the dreaded coronavirus.

The Broadway Blog: You and your husband were diagnosed early on with COVID-19. Talk a bit about that experience.

Keith Sherman: I left New York on March 13, and that weekend, my husband Roy tested positive and had all the symptoms. I tested negative the following week, but the following day after getting my results, I came down with all the symptoms. Luckily, we both had mild cases and have the antibodies, but we still wear our masks out. It’s not just for us, but for others. We’ve got to show respect that way. We’re healthy now, but I’m just working from home trying to figure out how to go forward when it looks like there won’t be theater for a substantial period of time.

BB: At what point did you realize that the road back to live entertainment would be longer than anyone expected?

KS: There was a time in early May when it seemed that things weren’t going to be happening in the fall.  A lot of summer seasons had begun to cancel, and things kept getting pushed further back. I realized that until there was a vaccine or something substantial, it was unlikely that the theater could survive with social distancing, simply because of the economic model. I realized that it was going to be a long haul.

Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 11.40.22 AMBB: I read that you are comfortable understanding the gray of life. How did you adopt that outlook?

KS: I probably got it from my dad, who was an entrepreneur. I saw him fighting and struggling to keep his business afloat. When you work in the theater, there is so much uncertainty. Shows open and close, and a lot of things don’t last. If you do that long enough, you develop a thick skin. I’m okay with things not being definitive.

BB: As the theater community navigates reopening, what are your biggest concerns and hopes?

KS: Well, concerns for safety must come first right now. The lead time is also another issue. I suspect that it will be a few weeks from the time the Governor says that live events can begin to the time that they actually will. Productions big and small will have to also consider actors’ schedules, whether the money is in place and so many other open questions. I hope that we can ultimately get back to a level that we left in March because the theater was robust, people were coming, and business was strong. There was a great vitality. We want to make sure that both the actors and the patrons feel safe and comfortable coming back to the theater. One thing this pandemic has given us is the gift of time. We can think, plan, and reconnect in a way that we previously were unable to do.

BB: What inspired you to get into public relations in the first place?

KS: I fell into it. One of my college roommates grew up in New Rochelle, New York. His English teacher was Gene Feist, the guy who founded Roundabout Theater. I interned there. One day, one of the producers walked up to me, inquiring what I wanted to after I graduated. When I told him it was to find a job, he asked if I wanted to be the marketing director. I agreed, and that lasted a year. Then I went to work for a Broadway press agent. That started me off on a career. I worked for a while at Radio City Music Hall, worked in television, and finally launched my own agency 30 years ago. The industry has changed, but you’re still dealing with people and the basic tenets of theatrical public relations.

Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 11.40.34 AMBB: What’s the best advice you’ve learned in your years as a press agent?

KS: Working in the theater, I’ve learned how to live an authentic life. Theater people are very open about who they are. Learning to live with gray in life and not having things be so specific is also valuable. If you’re living in the moment and not living too far ahead, you won’t get yourself too stressed out. Be kind to people because you will run into the same people repeatedly through the years.

BB: Have you ever had any disasters that you had to remedy?

KS: There are always things that come up that you don’t anticipate (which goes back to the gray). When I represented the Tony Awards, there was a time when Julie Andrews was in Victor/Victoria. When the nominations came out, the show only had one nod, which was for her. Everyone else in the cast was — in her words —“egregiously overlooked.” She declined her nomination. I had to be the spokesperson for the Broadway League and Tony Wing contradicting Mary Poppins. There have been some tough personalities to navigate, which were a little left of center, but you just figure out a path forward with harmony.

BB: How do you represent a show that you know is a complete dud?

KS: Oh my gosh… I’ve had so many of those! Theater PR people have to be optimists because of that very fact. It’s business. I’ve got salaries to pay, and there is always a driving force behind every show. Creators don’t ever think it’s terrible, but it’s our job to support them. Plus, you never know when the next star could be involved in a project you’re representing. Or, it could be a promising writer whose next show will be the one to put them on the map. One of the great things about smaller theaters is that they allow artists to fail.

BB: Were there any shows or moments that you proudly look back on and think you couldn’t have done better?

KS: A lot of times it has to do with people… when you’re on the same page with them, you’re clicking with them and doing great things. Together, you’re a piece of the machine that is creating a great show. To me, when you are working on a show that is embraced by the public and the press, that’s the best.