Strictly stars thank armed forces for Armistice Day

Strictly Come Dancing stars have hosted members of the armed forces and the Chelsea Pensioners at a tea dance to mark the centenary of the Armistice.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

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Jo Brand on Strictly, strippers and… staying safe

The comic and presenter shares her life lessons – and reveals all about THAT Have I Got News For You moment.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

SPECIAL DISCOUNT UPDATE:


Scandal-hit Strictly couple stay for another week

Strictly contestant Seann Walsh and his professional partner Katya Jones have remained in the competition, despite days of controversy after they were photographed kissing in the street.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

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Seann and Katya return to Strictly dancefloor

Seann Walsh and Katya Jones return to the BBC show for the first time since they were seen kissing.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly judge breaks silence on Seann Walsh scandal

Strictly Come Dancing’s head judge has broken the panel’s silence on the scandal surrounding contestant Seann Walsh and his dance partner Katya Jones.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

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Seann Walsh ‘deeply regrets’ kissing Strictly partner

Seann Walsh has said he “deeply” regrets kissing his Strictly Come Dancing partner Katya Jones, but insisted he is “not the person I’m being portrayed as”.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

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Should Seann and Katya stay on Strictly?

The dance couple have made headlines for all the wrong reasons – so what should happen now?
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Scandal-hit Walsh to dance on Strictly this weekend

Seann Walsh and dance partner Katya Jones look set to appear in this weekend’s Strictly Come Dancing despite the furore over pictures of them kissing.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

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Celebrities support Strictly star’s ex amid scandal

Celebrities and members of the public have rushed to show support for the girlfriend of Strictly star Seann Walsh, who released a powerful statement saying she is “not a victim” after he was pictured kissing his dance partner.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

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Strictly Come Dancing: 14 things we learned from this year’s contestants

This year’s contestants on the “Strictly curse” and accusations that the line-up is too D-list.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly Come Dancing: Kate Silverton and Seann Walsh join line-up

Kate Silverton and Seann Walsh become the 10th and 11th celebrity contestants to be confirmed.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly Business Podcast: HBO CEO Richard Plepler on Winning the Streaming Wars

HBO chairman/CEO Richard Plepler has done the math on peak TV, and it all adds up as long as his brand stays healthy. Take the 487 scripted series currently on TV, which amounts to 5,000 hours of programming, and add that to the 750 unscripted series that amount to 4,000 hours, and you get a […]

Variety

SHOPPING DISCOUNT UPDATE:

Strictly Come Dancing 2017 final: Winner crowned

The winner of Strictly Come Dancing has been decided by a public vote after the show’s grand final.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

SPECIAL DISCOUNT UPDATE:


It’s Strictly McGee on Saturday nights for PM

After a difficult week of Middle East diplomacy and dressing down Donald Trump, the Prime Minister might hope to relax in front of Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday night.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

ENTERTAINMENT SPECIALS:

Strictly: Aston’s exit shocks fans but who’s to blame?

The ex-JLS star was one of the favourites to win but lost out in the dance-off to The Saturdays’ Mollie King.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly Come Dancing beats X Factor for Saturday viewers

Saturday’s episode of the BBC dancing competition was watched by an average of 9.3m people.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly beats The X Factor in first ratings clash of 2017

An average audience of 9.3m watched the first live episode of Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly judge predicts same-sex couples on next year’s show

Craig Revel Horwood sees “no reason” why the BBC ratings success shouldn’t allow them in the future.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Call for same-sex dance partners on Strictly

Strictly Come Dancing should include same-sex couples, according to contestant the Rev Richard Coles.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

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Sir Bruce Forsyth: Strictly pays tribute to former host

The former co-host, who died in August, is remembered at the start of the new series of the show.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly to pay ‘heartfelt’ tribute to Sir Bruce

Strictly Come Dancing will air a special tribute to the show’s former host Sir Bruce Forsyth, bosses have confirmed.
Entertainment News – Latest Celebrity & Showbiz News | Sky News

ENTERTAINMENT SPECIALS:

Strictly Come Dancing 2017: Full line-up confirmed

Debbie McGee, Alexandra Burke and athlete Jonnie Peacock complete the line-up for this year’s series.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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In ‘The Play That Goes Wrong,’ It’s Murder, Strictly for Laughs

The three British actors behind this farcical mystery discuss the comedy and the thrill of possible injury in a performance.
NYT > Arts

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Orbitz Worldwide Inc

Strictly Come Dancing ‘spectacular’ cancelled

The live spin-off event, set to take place in June, is axed due to poor ticket sales.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly Come Dancing final: Winner crowned

The winner of Strictly Come Dancing has been decided by a public vote after the show’s grand final.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

SPECIAL DISCOUNT UPDATE:


Strictly Come Dancing: Ed Balls leaves programme

The 10th contestant waltzes away from the show after a dance-off, leaving five couples remaining.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly dancer Gorka Marquez ‘feeling better’ after assault

Strictly Come Dancing pro Gorka Marquez says he is “feeling better” after being assaulted in Blackpool.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly wins close ratings battle with Planet Earth II and I’m A Celebrity

More than 10 million viewers tuned in to each of the three most popular programmes on Sunday evening, overnight figures show.
BBC News – Entertainment & Arts

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Strictly Business

Strictly Business


The night Bethany catches her fiancé in bed with two prostitutes and snorting cocaine, should have been the worst moment of her life. But it isn’t. That comes the next morning when she finds herself naked in bed with Alexander Kirkwood, a successful, Chicago-based businessman, and no recollection of how she’d got there. All she knows is that they’ve had sex. Hard and wild, and several times over, if her patchy memory is to be believed. But her slide towards chaos does not stop there. Nick her ex-fiancé, has been stealing from her personal and business bank accounts to fund his drug and prostitute habit. Bankrupt and homeless, Bethany fights to keep her fledgling, bio-cosmetics business “As Nature Intended” going. Rescue arrives in the unlikely form of Alexander “Xander” Kirkwood. Bossy, arrogant, controlling – everything that Bethany hates in a man – Xander offers his significant business expertise and mentorship in exchange for Bethany back in his bed. But the consequence of Nick’s action has far-reaching consequences which threaten not just Bethany’s life and reputation but Xander’s too. Contains graphic language and sizzling sex scenes. Excerpt from Strictly Business”…women are best suited to the bedroom, not the boardroom.”The comment, made by the dark-haired man seated to the right of the empty chair, raised a loud murmur of laughter from the other guests at the table. Bethany glanced at the name plate against the vacant chair, hoping that she was mistaken. No. Tonight, her luck was running true to form. “Bethany Green, As Nature Intended – Director” was written in fine calligraphy on the place setting in front of the empty seat next to the chauvinist bore. She gripped the back of the chair, her knuckles white, as she nodded to her fellow guests.”Ms. Bethany Green?” The man to her right, the same man, stood up to pull out her chair. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve been hearing a lot about you.”His after-shave was light and, combined with the scent of his skin, th

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Theater: Strictly Delightful “Strictly Dishonorable”

STRICTLY DISHONORABLE *** 1/2 out of ****
THE ATTIC THEATER COMPANY AT FLEA THEATER

One of the greatest talents in film history, Preston Sturges is best remembered for four stellar comedies: The Palm Beach Story, The Lady Eve, The Miracle At Morgan’s Creek and Hail The Conquering Hero. Others also treasure Sullivan’s Travels and Unfaithfully Yours, but however you order them, these are some classic films. And of course he won the Oscar with The Great McGinty. But before all that he was a playwright. In 1928, he starred on Broadway in one show and wrote another one called The Guinea Pig that opened to raves in Massachusetts and transferred to Broadway. But the real monster success came next when Sturges delivered the comedy Strictly Dishonorable. He wrote it in six days, it ran for sixteen months and he grossed a remarkable $ 300,000 just as the Great Depression was hitting its stride. Sturges then wrote three more shows (including a musical!) but Hollywood came calling and he was soon gone for good.

Now The Attic Theater Company has revived Strictly Dishonorable with panache and it sure makes me hungry to see his other theatrical works too. Honestly, I only showed up out of polite interest as a Sturges fanatic, wondering if glimmers of his genius would be visible. Indeed, his sparkling, distinctive gift for dialogue and whiplash changes in emotion from sincere to silly are on full display. And from what I can tell by clips online, this production looks markedly better than the creaky 1931 film version and much, much better than the godawful 1951 remake starring Ezio Pinza and Janet Leigh. You’d be foolish to miss it.

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Set in a speak-easy in 1929, it begins with the Italian staff squabbling amongst themselves until their regular customer the Judge (John Robert Tillotson) ambles in for just one drink. Almost by accident, a couple of squares arrive, the prickly Henry Greene (Thomas Christopher Matthews) and his sweet, Southern, slightly put-upon fiancee Isabelle ((Keilly McQuail). He wants to leave immediately but she’s eager to sample a speakeasy and surely none too eager to return to his mother-in-law in West Orange, New Jersey. (The play was written almost one hundred years ago and the jokes about Jersey are still getting laughs.)

Henry’s an unlikable fellow in the usual Sturges manner: he batters down his girl with fast talking, brusquely demands his drink and then wonders why the service is so poor, takes offense easily and is so clueless in his rude indifference to her and everyone around him that you can’t help feeling sorry for the guy just a little, even as you suspect most of us barrel through life just as blithely indifferent at times to others as poor Henry. In walks the good-looking professional opera singer and amateur (but very successful) lothario named Gus (Michael Labbadia) and, well, Henry hasn’t got a chance.

Director Laura Braza keeps this romantic comedy rolling with aplomb, striking the right note with the entire cast. Some judicious pruning might have made the first act fly by quicker. And it’s to be hoped the cast will tighten up and move things along even faster as they settle into the run of the show. But they are in sync with the material from the start and the actors are essentially faultless.

Gus might easily be a cheesy wooer of women, but Labbadia — in his New York debut — gives him heart and humor. And when he’s asked to sing, I imagined they might get a quick laugh by playing a record and having him lip sync (he’s supposed to be a world famous talent, after all) but instead he pulled off a nice little number well enough to maintain the illusion. Funny and winning, he also sports an Italian accent just this side of silly (like all the actors in the show) which is part of the evening’s charm.

As the speakeasy owner Tomas, Christopher Tocco is also excellent, anchoring much of the evening with his affable presence and mining subtle laughs throughout. William John Austin as an Irish cop who happily looks the other way when a glass of “ginger ale” is offered as an inducement, is similarly fun in a smaller role. As a waiter and lookout, Ryan Trout and Nick Ritacco are also spot-on. It’s a pleasure to see a show so well directed where everyone is on the same page.

The handsome Matthews for me was the most empathetic to the style of performing perfected by the actors who worked with Sturges in film after film. He steamrolled through his dialogue with verve, exploded in futile anger with just the right level of indignation and even took a nice pratfall. If Sturges were around, he’d make sure Matthews worked in his next project as well.

Tillotson is a pro as the Judge. I’m not sure if it’s the writing or his performance choices, but I wasn’t always clear as to where the Judge was coming from. And with Sturges, characters are often driven by an all-consuming quirk or passion. Is the Judge in love with Isabelle himself? Or perhaps fancies Gus? An old busy-body? A self-important fool? Mostly Tillotson plays him — rightly — as sweet and good-intentioned. To be clear, he delivers some of the play’s best lines with dead-pan accuracy.

The Judge is perhaps a gentle voice of conventional morality when Sturges will have none of that — we soon see Gus proving his love for Isabelle by not sleeping with her while she’s convinced his refusal to bed her is proof that he doesn’t. And when he begs her to marry him, why she’s convinced even more that he doesn’t! (It makes sense, somehow, while it’s happening.)

And that brings us to the show’s star Keilly McQuail. This is a very fun revival that would surely work with another actress in the part. But McQuail is a genuine find — convincingly Southern, sweetly sexy, timidly bold, believable in her relationship with Henry (hey, it gets her out of Yoakum, Mississippi!) and yet just as believable when she finds the courage to blaze her own path. McQuail brought out the best in everyone around her, handled physical comedy and emotions ranging from aroused to uncertain and looked great in her flapper outfit while doing it.

With modest means at their disposal, the scenic design by Liz Sherrier, the costumes by Travis Chinick and the lighting (David M. Upton) and sound (Beth Lake) all worked in harmony. I’ll be remembering this show fondly at the end of the year. Given the talent on display, I’m hopeful it will be even tighter and better at the finale of what should be an extended run as it was at the beginning. Now bring on The Guinea Pig!

THEATER OF 2014

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical ***
Rodney King ***
Hard Times ** 1/2
Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead **
I Could Say More *
The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner **
Machinal ***
Outside Mullingar ***
A Man’s A Man * 1/2
The Tribute Artist ** 1/2
Transport **
Prince Igor at the Met **
The Bridges Of Madison County ** 1/2
Kung Fu (at Signature) **
Stage Kiss ***
Satchmo At The Waldorf ***
Antony and Cleopatra at the Public **
All The Way ** 1/2
The Open House (Will Eno at Signature) ** 1/2
Wozzeck (at Met w Deborah Voigt and Thomas Hampson and Simon O’Neill)
Hand To God ***
Tales From Red Vienna **
Appropriate (at Signature) *
Rocky * 1/2
Aladdin ***
Mothers And Sons **
Les Miserables *** 1/2
Breathing Time * 1/2
Cirque Du Soleil’s Amaluna * 1/2
Heathers The Musical * 1/2
Red Velvet, at St. Ann’s Warehouse ***
Broadway By The Year 1940-1964 *** 1/2
A Second Chance **
Guys And Dolls *** 1/2
If/Then * 1/2
The Threepenny Opera * 1/2
A Raisin In The Sun *** 1/2
The Heir Apparent *** 1/2
The Realistic Joneses ***
Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar & Grill ***
The Library **
South Pacific ** 1/2
Violet ***
Bullets Over Broadway **
Of Mice And Men **
The World Is Round ***
Your Mother’s Copy Of The Kama Sutra **
Hedwig and the Angry Inch ***
The Cripple Of Inishmaan ***
The Great Immensity * 1/2
Casa Valentina ** 1/2
Act One **
Inventing Mary Martin **
Cabaret ***
An Octoroon *** 1/2
Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging ***
Here Lies Love *** 1/2
6th Annual August Wilson Monologue Competition
Sea Marks * 1/2
A Time-Traveler’s Trip To Niagara * 1/2
Selected Shorts: Neil Gaiman ***
Too Much Sun * 1/2
Broadway By The Year 1965-1989 ***
In The Park **
The Essential Straight & Narrow ** 1/2
Much Ado About Nothing ***
When We Were Young And Unafraid
Savion Glover’s Om **
Broadway By The Year 1990-2014 ***
The Lion ***
Holler If Ya Hear Me * 1/2
The Ambassador Revue ** 1/2
Dubliners: A Quartet ***
The National High School Musical Theater Awards *** 1/2
Wayra — Fuerza Bruta * 1/2
Strictly Dishonorable *** 1/2 out of ****

_____________

Thanks for reading. Michael Giltz is the founder and CEO of the forthcoming website BookFilter, a book lover’s best friend. It’s a website that lets you browse for books online the way you do in a physical bookstore, provides comprehensive info on new releases every week in every category and offers passionate personal recommendations every step of the way. It’s like a fall book preview or holiday gift guide — but every week in every category. He’s also the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the industry take on entertainment news of the day and features top journalists and opinion makers as guests. It’s available for free on iTunes. Visit Michael Giltz at his website and his daily blog. Download his podcast of celebrity interviews and his radio show, also called Popsurfing and also available for free on iTunes.

Note: Michael Giltz is provided with free tickets to shows with the understanding that he will be writing a review. All productions are in New York City unless otherwise indicated.
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