Review Fix chats with entertainment jack of all trades Richard Skipper, who discusses his unique series, “Richard Skipper Celebrates.” Detailing his creative process and more, Skipper shares his inspiration and love for journalism, theatre and music and his upcoming book.
Review Fix: What inspired “RICHARD SKIPPER CELEBRATES”?
Richard Skipper: When I look at what is being put out these days, I find that there is a lot of negativity. Reality shows are all about one-upmanship. Someone is going to be kicked off an island, or their cupcake is less than… or their design is not good enough, or they…fill in the blanks. It is all about public humiliation. Our sitcoms and movies are celebrating ‘snark’ on a level that is mind-boggling. Shows like TMZ are created to publicly humiliate our celebrities. It has crept into our political discourse. Our POTUS is a bully with name calling and actions that stem from divisiveness. This negativity is being fed to us daily through our pages on social media. I desire to create work that is uplifting. I CELEBRATE the artists I book. I CELEBRATE the past. I CELEBRATE the audiences. I celebrate each and every day. I try and look for the good in every situation
Review Fix: What kind of planning went into Carol Channing’s B-day party?
Skipper: I have been fortunate enough to call Carol Channing ‘friend’ for over 25 years. With this show, as I have done, with previous shows, celebrating Liza Minnelli, EY Harburg, Songs of World War II, etc. , we start with the original intent… To Celebrate!. I have a friend, Michael Masci, who creates an incredible video montage celebrating our subject or theme to open the show. Then I try to find five artists that have a connection on some level with our subject. I use four musicians For each show. I allow the artist to pick and choose the songs they wish to sing. Once I know what songs they are singing, it’s easy to create how the show will unfold. Richard Skipper Celebrates is an homage to the talk-variety shows that I grew up with from the 60s and 70s.
Each artist comes on… sings one song, and then we sit for a mini interview. My questioning has to do with the subject being celebrated, the artist and how their lives were impacted by our subject, and if there’s something coming up that they would like to promote, we talk about that and then they follow up with a second song. I have balloons at every show because, after all, it is a celebration! Before each show, there’s also the promotional aspect. I have a great team! My designer, Glen Charlow, works hand in hand to come up with the perfect artwork to produce the show. Matt Skallerud of Pink Banana handles the marketing, and our and publicist Jay Michaels. I also have a phenomenal producer Russ Woolley, he is major support on many levels. He offers suggestions but ultimately I have final say on how the show unfolds.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Skipper: Music has been a major part of my life my entire life. Can you imagine our lives without music? I ALWAYS have music playing. As a matter of fact, as I’m writing these words, I’m listing to Christine Pedi’s show on Sirius XM radio, the Broadway channel. I always knew that I wanted to be in show business. I made my debut at our local theater in Conway South Carolina in Mame in 1974. The music has always been there.
Review Fix: What makes you unique or special?
Skipper: I’m not interested in competing with others. I’m not interested in trying to be like others. I try to be the best me that I can possibly be. That means putting a positive outlook on the world. Celebrating others as I’ve said in the first paragraph instead of tearing them down. I try to operate from a point of positive energy instead of negativity. Of course, I am human and I slip from time to time. I am a work in progress!
Review Fix: What makes an interview great? How do you make someone feel comfortable around you?
Skipper: Once I get an interview, I do as much research as possible. I then store all that information in the back of my mind. Once I sit down the interview, I try to make it ass conversational as possible. I really listen! I don’t come in with an agenda of what I want to get across. I listen to the interviewee and my questions stem out of what they tell me. Always understand why they are being interviewed in the first place and allow them to get their points and/or message across. That will always make the person being interviewed love you and want to be interviewed by you for future interviews. I’ve interviewed Melissa Manchester, Lesley Ann Warren, Loretta Swit, Tippi Hedren, Rich Little among many others! Stay tuned. I have a lot of irons in the fire.
Review Fix: Any tips for up and coming journalists?
Skipper: Yes. It is not about YOU. It is about them. Your audience wants to hear what THEY have to say. Follow that rule and you’ll get many requests for interviews and publicists will love you.
Review Fix: What are your bucket list goals in music and life?
Skipper: I’m writing a book celebrating the famous women (and a few good men!) who have played Dolly in The Matchmaker and Hello, Dolly! Check out CallonDolly.com. Interviews with Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Donna Murphy are at the top of THAT bucket list before publishing. I love to interview, Emcee, and Host. My bucket list goal is to be at the top of every list requiring any of those. This past year, I went out to LA to help kick off the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. No one can replace the late great Robert Osborne but I would love to do what he did.
Review Fix: What else are you working on now?
Skipper: As mentioned, my book celebrating Hello, Dolly!
With Richard Skipper Celebrates, we produce a new show EVERY month. My goal is to always approve upon the previous. Once a show is over, I hit the ground running the next day to prepare for the next. We are booked through June at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. We are taking off July and August to recharge our batteries and, God willing, we will be back in September for a third season bigger and better than ever.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Skipper: My Birthday show! February 11th. I am performing, but I have turned the reins over to my producer, Russ Woolley. All of the guests are going to be a total surprise to me. I do know they will be the best in cabaret and theatre, so the audience is in for a major treat as much as I!