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Sunday, April 8, 2012

HELLO! MY BABY!

HELLO! MY BABY!

Last night I had the opportunity to see the world premiere of a new musical, Hello! My Baby, at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura. For fourteen seasons, the Rubicon has produced some of the best theatre on the west coast, and Hello! My Baby – conceived and written by Cheri Steinkellner – was no exception, an exuberant singing and dancing celebration of Tin Pan Alley at the turn of the century.

As good as the play was – and it was outstanding – the highlight of the evening, however, occurred during intermission when I had the opportunity to meet two other audience members, Larry Raben and David Engel – two of my theatre heroes.

I first saw Raben and Engel perform twenty years ago at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills as part of the original Broadway cast of my favorite musical, Forever Plaid. I’ve since seen Forever Plaid staged at least twenty times with fifteen different casts, but Raben and Engel’s original group remains at the top.

I’ve seen Raben and Engel in numerous different plays and venues including The Andrews Brothers (staring Raben and Engel and directed by Raben), The Producers (starring Raben and Engel), and Singing In The Rain (starring Engel and directed by Raben). When meeting them last night, they could not have been more gracious, self-effacing, conversational, and interested – a case of in person celebrity living up to on-stage persona.

Currently, Raben and Engel are starring in Forbidden Broadway at Musical Theatre West in Long Beach. I’ll be going to see them, and if you have the chance, you should, too . . .

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