Stage Notes Pays Tribute to David Bowie

wolfIn tribute to David Bowie, host Robert Hammond aired Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Bowie. Conducted by Eugene Ormandy and performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, this classical composition was originally released in 1978. Hammond aired the 1992 remastered version in its entirety on Stage Notes the week of January 10, 2016.  The entire program now available on demand below.


Happy Anniversary, Stage Notes!

HAIt seems Like Stage Notes began airing on WXXI FM 91.5 yesterday – October 24th marked its sixth anniversary.  Although it airs elsewhere throughout the country, WXXI was the first station that gave it the green light.

Thank you for listening and supporting the program.  Below is a link to the full anniversary program that aired.  It featured many special guests, including Norm Silverstein, Sue Rogers, Elissa Orlando, Ruth Phinney, and Julia Figueras. NPR’s Ari Shapiro was kind enough to join the celebration. Thank you, Ari!

Please Follow Stage Notes on Twitter @stagenotes, and be sure to like our page on Facebook.  Again, thank you.  Enjoy!


Megan Hilty is a Smash

Megan Hilty with RPO's president, Charlie Owen.
Megan Hilty with RPO president, Charlie Owens.

The  Rochester Pop’s season opened last night with the glorious Megan Hilty.  Don’t worry, if you didn’t go, you have one more chance—tonight at 8 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Do not miss out!

You know you’re in for something wonderful when conductor Jeff Tyzik starts out a concert  by saying the guest is not only talented, but a genuinely nice person. For anyone who attends Pops concerts as frequently as I do, you know he does not often gush about artists.

The orchestra began the concert performing a Tyzik arrangement of some of Marvin Hamlisch’s best known songs, including “The Way We Were,” “Nobody Does it Better, “The Entertainer,” and of course, many selections from A Chorus Line. It was a splendid way to begin the night, and the orchestra was in top form.

Then, Megan Hilty came out. Wow! Yes, she’s beautiful! Her gowns were breathtaking. But boy, this girl can sing! She does so with such ease and control. There wasn’t a second when she and the orchestra weren’t perfectly in synch. Her ability to interpret every nuance of a song leaves you hanging on every note. Her expression and grace are unparalleled. She was born to be on stage.

The concert was filled with Broadway standards, including  “Luck be a Lady Tonight” and a highpoint, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” I believe Ms. Hilty could be described as a modern day Marilyn Monroe.

Speaking of Norma Jeane, another highpoint was Hilty’s performance of a song from Smash, the two season musical drama on NBC she starred in, “Second Hand Baby Grand.” Prior to its performance, she gave a detailed description about the song. After sung, few eyes were dry. I’ve included the version from Smash (on demand below).

We will be hearing a lot more about Megan Hilty. She is a star. She is a Smash.

Hilty is on stage again tonight with the Rochester Pops. Information is available at RPO.org.

Happy Thanksgiving

A Thanksgiving Stage Notes


Thanks for visiting the site!  Click below to listen to the special Thanksgiving edition of Stage Notes.

The Tirade of a Madman

I worked for Donald B. Crawford for many years.  He owns Crawford Broadcasting Company.  The piece below is called The Constitution.  It is part of what the company calls The Crawford Stand, a weekly commentary written by Crawford.  In addition to being posted on the website, they are voiced by him and air on most of his radio stations throughout the country. Of note, they do not air on his hip hop  station in Chicago, WPWX.  Although he’s been divorced twice, he has strong opinions about marriage.  The grammar is all his.

The Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Those are the inviolable words of THE FIRST AMENDMENT.

It is fascinating that, in this modern day and age where anything goes, Congress, House and Senate pay little attention to the First Amendment for at best, it is a guide, something subjective and of course to be interpreted depending upon the political mood and era and of course the agendas and objectives of disparate groups and entities. There are in fact any number of laws which affect religion, including more that prevent the free exercise thereof, laws that affect and abridge speech and penalize unwanted speech, like hate speech, and even the right of the people to peaceably assembly (witness pickets and protests to abortion clinics). In a day and age of ANYTHING GOES, it seems as though anything really does go in Congress depending upon who wields the power. It is not a matter of making no law with respect to fundamental rights like religion, speech, press or assembly, but rather making laws which Congress, political parties or interests can get away with. No matter whether Constitutional or not, it seems as though everybody gets away with anything until such time as it winds its way year after year up to the Supreme Court of the United States.

No matter that we the people may petition our government for a REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES, our grievances are almost always ignored and we the people seem to have less input, influence and impact as each year goes by, no matter which party or individual wields the POWER.

But hear the words again. CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW: CONGRESS! Notice that the First Amendment restricts and prohibits action and activity by Congress and not:


It had been determined, even assumed by our Founding Fathers that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) would be comprised of nine fair-minded, objective, law-abiding and interpreting justices who would respect, protect and defend the Constitution and otherwise do what is right for we the people as the final judicial arbiters. Those nine human beings never had the power to add to, expand or otherwise legislate as they went about their judicial business.
But in fact, so much Supreme Court activity has been activist in nature, and again in fact, the Supreme Court has made law, found new laws, rights and protections, not granted by the Constitution or any other Constitutional authority. They can function and have so many times as they wish, as de facto legislators, finding and making law, identifying new rights rather than abiding by their Constitutional requirements and authorities and doing precisely that and only that which they were authorized to do, namely:



The latest example of this activist court is the recent case of:


In that case, the Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom, at least five of these black robed justices, found a brand new Constitutional right, not of course mentioned in any way in the Constitution, that would permit gays and lesbians to marry. Nowhere has such a right been identified, delineated or of course ever discussed by our Founding Fathers or even legal scholars for years. The Supreme Court of the United States identified, again in its infinite wisdom, this right to gay marriage under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which reads as follows:


So that, said five justices, if any of our 50 states legally grants the right to heterosexuals to marry in that state, so then that state shall not prohibit any other twosome, however they are constituted, to marry in the same way, no matter the definition of marriage. To do so would revoke the privileges of the citizens of that state and of course, said Justice Anthony Kennedy one of the five concurring justices, no person would be deprived of life, liberty or property. In this case of course liberty and equal privileges. If heterosexual couples can marry, so can gay couples, said our all-wise Supreme Court.
Justice Kennedy relied in his opinion for the majority in this case on two fundamental Constitutional rights. The first of course is due process. That is, any legal process, any legislation enacted by the states must apply to all citizens without deprivation of life, liberty or property.
The second was equal protection under the Constitution for all citizens. The right to marry can not be restricted to a certain class of people, said Kennedy.

The Justice goes onto say as follows:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become greater than once they were.”

So it is in fact that marriage does embody the highest ideals of love and fidelity. It does indeed involve family which of course connotes in terms of traditional definition father-mother, husband-wife, children born of a heterosexual family and all those so related. The marriage union has always assumed the loving union of one man and one woman. That has been the foundation of our society, the foundation of Judeo-Christian law and admonition, a union spiritually and biologically ordained. Now come five human beings, three women and two men and they, in their infinite wisdom, overturn centuries of established cultural and societal determinations and foundation and usher in for our 50 states, all of them now, a brand new definition of marriage, all-inclusive.
The court has ruled that gays can marry. A gay man can marry another, and a lesbian woman another herself. Whatever the ramifications of that, there is more to come. Why not, said one scholar, allow one man to marry more than one woman, or one woman to marry more than one woman and why not extend the definition of marriage as far as any would take it, or demand equal rights or protections under this newfound Constitutional right. The decision unleashes incredible possibilities and the struggle thereunder has only just begun.

And more from Kennedy:

“The 14 same-sex couples are not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

The Constitution grants them that right? On the contrary, Justice Kennedy, there is absolutely nothing in the Constitution which grants any two people the right to marry. That has always been and should be the function, the legal decision making of any state.

With fervent disagreement, hear the words of Chief Justice John Roberts who said in behalf of Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito:

“If you are among the many Americans of whatever sexual orientation who favor expanding same sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

Indeed it did not, Justice Roberts. It was the unconstitutional decision of Justice Kennedy and the four liberal justices who always vote in lockstep namely Ginsburg, Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor (a very liberal, biased judicial block) who, liberal activists as they are, love to search for ways to expand the Constitution, find new Constitutional rights, enumerate them and consequently make them the law of the land. How absolutely incredible it is that the Rule of Law, the law for all of America, is ultimately determined by five mere human beings.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush got it right when he said:

“I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision (about gay marriage.”

And so do tens of millions of other Americans, including unbiased Constitutional scholars. SCOTUS had no right or authority to do that in the opinion of so many right-thinking Americans. It is not only a tragic day for marriage, but an even more tragic day for our Constitution, our rights, and the power of the federal government including and especially the Supreme Court to make law and decide how we the people should live. There are some 325 million Americans who are controlled by the opinions, beliefs and decision making of 545 people. 545 PEOPLE! A President, 100 Senators, 435 Congresspersons and 9 Supreme Court Justices. So much for democracy. Even for a Republic for all of the checks and balances, the objectivity, the concern, access the influence of the American people exist in name only when these 545 people tell us how to live. We have a Republic, Founding Father Ben Franklin told us, a governmental system of checks and balances, a Republic if in fact we can keep it. Not only is democracy on the wane, but it seems as though the Republic slowly disintegrates day by day. Decisions like OBERGEFELL V. HODGES should show us ever more clearly that we the people, we the true Democrats, we the majority as it is formed really have no ultimate authority or power over how we live.

But not to worry said Dale Carpenter, law professor at University of Minnesota, who himself supports gay marriage. Not to worry. Carpenter said:

“No church will be required to change any of its doctrine related to marriage. No priest or rabbi or other religious official will be required to officiate a gay marriage, and people of faith will be able to advocate in the public square any particular view of marriage.”

Really?   You can bet your bottom dollar that the militant gay agenda, aggressive as it is has only just begun. You can be sure that there will be a tax upon churches, and pastors, and other religious leaders who would refuse to perform, conduct or otherwise celebrate gay marriage. That is coming. Bet on it. You better believe that people of faith who condemn gay marriage and any aspect of the gay agenda will be accused as people of hate, and their speech as hate speech which will result in further litigation, not to mention an avalanche of lawsuits. If law professor Carpenter really believes what he said, he is totally deceived and really does not understand the extent, the power, the angry thrust of gays and the gay agenda.

And of course at the White House, President Barack Hussein Obama, strong Christian that he is, described the gay marriage ruling in Obergefell as a:


Obama went onto state:

“This decision (Obergefell) accelerated a march toward equality that more typically progresses a two step forward, one step back. The ruling should give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible.”

What else would one expect from a devout Christian like Barack Obama who does everything possible to water down anything Christian.
The Wall Street Journal stated as follows:

“The complication (Obergefell v. Hodges decision) is that the Constitution is silent about marriage and social policy preferences, which are supposed to be settled by the people and the political branches.”

Indeed they are. But they never will be when there is an activist Supreme Court and at least five justices who are determined to legislate and remake the law. The Wall Street Journal quotes Justice Kennedy as saying in his decision:

Retaining the traditional definition of marriage for whatever reason is:

“To put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied.”

Such a Kennedy judicial statement implies that traditional marriage is invidious, discriminatory with no rational basis. What an absurd conclusion.
So now, we the people are stuck with this new penumbra of the Constitution, this new Constitution right which simply popped up and identified itself as a Constitutional right, having hidden itself away for 228 years and now it exists as our newfound Constitutional right. No matter the Chief Justice John Roberts said that “this court is not a legislature,” this Supreme Court will legislate anytime five individuals believe it should do so. The Supreme Court, said Roberts has power to say what the law is, not what it should be. But unfortunately, Justice Roberts and his three cohorts were one vote short of doing the right thing. The monolithic liberal voting bloc in the Supreme Court had its way, five of them and the Constitution now says what they mean, and now what it means.

Kennedy goes onto say in his opinion that the definition of marriage to include gay couples would “pose no risk of harm to themselves or third parties.” The Wall Street Journal indicates that it hopes Kennedy is right in practice and that if he is wrong, he will protect the liberty and the rights of those who disagree with him. I for one doubt he will. Obergefell, the Constitutional right to gay marriage is only the beginning. There is much, much more to come.

Already clerks in some states like Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee have said they will refuse to issue licenses to gay couples. They will defy the law on moral grounds and they will engage in CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE if necessary to uphold old traditions, old and real definitions of marriage, and the moral requirements of marriage as spiritually defined for centuries. But the law, says one scholar, will require that such clerks resign rather than disobey, and if they disobey, they will run the risk of going to jail for one year. Some clerks say they are willing to do just that rather than compromise their sacredly held beliefs. Christian and Jewish leaders the country over say the same thing. They will not compromise. They will not marry, hire, insure gay couples or otherwise conform with the new gay marriage mandate, that alone and any ramifications thereof. And so say so many businesses owned and operated by people of faith. They will not compromise. The real battle has only just begun and the gay leadership will make certain it is fought with every aggression possible.

Now there comes a movement, loud voices calling for the next steps to be taken. That includes, these angry activists stay, the stripping of non-profit legal status for opposing entities, groups and individuals and most importantly, the revocation of tax-exempt status. You can be certain that the battle will be waged by gays and secularists against religionists, people of faith and especially the Christian faith now and forevermore. Batten down the hatches, my fellow Americans. Here come the lawyers and especially the gay lawyers. The courts will be flooded with litigation from this point forward.

This thunderbolt of injustice will ripple across America. Millions will be affected. That is so even though polls, unreliable to the core, indicate that there is a growing sentiment for change, that is acceptance of gay marriage as a concept by more Americans. We hear little if anything at all about other marriage rights and duties which may apply to gay marriage including divorce, child support, property settlements, alimony and the like. Presumably, if gays in fact have the privilege of marriage, they will have the duty to abide by the requirements of marriage whether in terms of an existing union or the breakup, the divorce of that union. Time will tell.

People of faith, Christian people of faith, are saddened by this decision, overwhelmed by its potential consequences. Obergefell v. Hodges and Justice Kennedy and his four cohorts have struck a blow against one of the most fundamental precepts and commandments of Scripture and the strong religious faith of Jew and Christian. It is time now, say many, for people of faith, REAL FAITH to standup, defend, protest and otherwise refuse not to:


With this law or the ramifications thereof. Prayerfully, millions will do just that. As one Christian scholar put it. Now is the time, finally and aggressive, for Christians to be put to the test as to whether or not they will follow the Law of Caesar (Obergefell v. Hodges) or the Law of God. Whether marriage or any other immoral, a-religious law of this society. Time, he says to step up, take up the cross and be willing to sacrifice wherever necessary for principle. That challenge comes to each of us as traditional Americans and people of faith, don’t you think?

I know what I will do. What will you do?

Megan Hilty’s Interview with Robert Hammond Now Available


The talented and beautiful Megan Hilty joined host Robert Hammond on Stage Notes to discuss her Broadway and television career, as well as her performances with orchestras throughout the country, including the Rochester Pops on Friday & Saturday, September 11 &12 at the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. Music from her CD, It Happens All the Time, and Smash are featured.  Songs from Broadway shows on tour are also showcased throughout the program. Click below to listen.


Bio from http://meganhiltyonline.com

In a few short years, Megan Hilty has gone from understudy on Broadway to a star of stage, screen, and music. Her impressive accomplishments have made her one of the fastest rising talents in the entertainment world.

Megan was born in Bellevue, Washington on March 29, 1981. Drawn to music at a young age, she explored a career in opera before deciding to pursue musical theatre. After graduating from the Washington Academy of Performing Arts Conservatory High School in Redmond, Washington, she moved to Southern Oregon and spent two years waiting tables and working odd jobs while performing in shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Hello Dolly!, and My Fair Lady. She then enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she performed in a variety of college and regional productions. She graduated from CMU in 2004 with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre.

Upon graduation, Megan was offered the role of “Glinda” standby for the Broadway company of Wicked. She made her Broadway debut in the fall of 2004 opposite Tony winner Idina Menzel, and was asked to take over as principal Glinda in May 2005. After a year on Broadway, Megan performed the role on tour and in the 2007-2009 Los Angeles production.

During her years with Wicked, Megan was workshopping the role of “Doralee” in 9 to 5: The Musical, Dolly Parton’s adaptation of the popular film. In 2009, Megan starred in the show on Broadway alongside Allison Janney and Stephanie J. Block. She was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical, an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Actress in a Musical, a Drama League Award, and an Ovation Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

During this time period, Megan made guest appearances on many television shows, including Bones, The Closer, Desperate Housewives, and Ugly Betty, while also providing the singing voice for Snow White in Shrek the Third. She also made concert appearances around the U.S. in the Meg an’ Sho Show (alongside Shoshana Bean) and with a solo cabaret show called Megan Hilty Sings the Blondes.

In 2011, Megan joined the cast of NBC’s Smash as “Ivy Lynn,” an actress who is desperate to land the lead in a musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker said of her work: “Hilty has built a character who feels like a real Broadway diva: sexy, funny, ambitious, insecure, at once selfish and giving.” The show aired from 2012-2013 and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Outstanding Musical or Comedy Series, while also offering Megan the opportunity to record both covers of popular hits and original songs from the musical within the show, “Bombshell.”

During her hiatus between Smash‘s first and second seasons, Megan starred in the New York City Center production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as Lorelai Lee, a role made famous by Carol Channing and Marilyn Monroe. Megan received rave reviews for both the production and its cast recording. Ben Brantley of The New York Times called the opening performance “…one of those single, golden nights, so cherished by theatergoers, that thrust its leading lady into the firmament of musical stardom.”

In 2013, Megan released It Happens All the Time, her first solo album with Portrait (an imprint of Sony Masterworks), and also made her Carnegie Hall debut. Megan also returned to TV with NBC’s Sean Saves the World starring Sean Hayes.

Megan currently makes frequent concert appearances, both with symphony orchestras throughout the United States and in solo concert at smaller venues. She also regularly performs in a variety of special events, such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or Christmas in Washington. Megan maintains an active voiceover career, providing the voice of “Rosetta” in the Disney Fairies series and the “China Doll Princess” in the animated feature Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return.

Megan and her husband, Brian Gallagher, were married in November 2013. Their first daughter, Viola, was born in September 2014.

Head “Into the Woods” at CenterStage Theatre

images-100x100-centerstage-Into_The_Woods_WEB-185x118I’ve been known to say that Stephen Sondheim is a genius. His musicals are not easy to tackle, especially Into the Woods.  I doubt I’d be up to the challenge. Well, as usual, Ralph Meranto, artistic director for the JCC’s CenterStage, took the challenge.

To be honest, I was expecting a fair to good production. (Keep in mind; some of the best actors on the planet were just in the motion picture!) Into the Woods at CenterStage is a masterpiece! The cast was chosen perfectly, and they delivered a Broadway caliber show. The production is flawless. Who knew three hours in the woods could go so fast?!

The score is every bit as important as the acting. Music director Brian Clickner put together a magnificent ensemble that led the cast into the woods impeccably.

At intermission, I sent Ralph a one word text: Wow! Everyone involved should be glistening. You did the genius proud.

Into the Woods is on stage at CenterStage through May 17. Information is available at jccrochester.org.