Michael ran into fellow Uncle Floyd Show alumnus Skip Rooney and his friend Alison at the bi-annual Chiller Expo on Sunday, April 29th. Michael introduced them to his friend and colleague Vincent Pastore. Skip is a big Sopranos fan and Vinny was very gracious to them. Another Floyd Show cast member, Scott Gordon was there on Saturday but Michael missed seeing him.
Big project in the works! Over several sessions in January and February of 2012, Michael recorded his parts of the original cast album of The Seven Little Foys, a musical by Chip Deffaa. The talented cast has been hard at work re-creating the songs they sang in the show. The singers on the album will include: Michael Townsend Wright, Beth Bartley, Jon Peterson, Devon Eddy, Jillian Wipfler, Maxwell Beer, Tyler DuBoys, Emily Bordonaro, Peter Charney, Bailey Cummings, Zack Riopelle, Ben Orlando, Emma Czaplinski, Emme Pepe-Winshell, and Alex Craven. Richard Danley is musical director, Maryann Lopinto is the photographer, and Slau Halatyn is the recording engineer. The cast is recording at Dubway Studios in New York City. Howard Cruse is designing the graphics and logo for the album which should be available in stores sometime later this year.
The cast members have many impressive credits to their names. Maxwell Beer stars in the new film, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. Beth Bartley is recreating the role of Mrs. Foy which she played at the 2008 NY Fringe Festival. Alex Craven is once again playing Irving Foy from the Fringe Festival. Jon Peterson is playing George M. Cohan, the role he has played in a number of Chip's shows. Jillian Wipfler is playing the role of Mary Foy which she created in the original Connecticut production, along with Devon Eddy and Peter Charney.
On Saturday, January 7th Michael attended the radio recreation of the 1932 radio broadcast of an episode of Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel, a radio series featuring Groucho and Chico Marx. Groucho was played by Ron MacCloskey, Chico by the late Robert Hegyes of Welcome Back Kotter fame, Mike Jarmus and Francesca Tedeschi in various roles. The event was held at the Raconteur Bookstore in Metuchen, New Jersey. Michael thought the cast did a nice job and he enjoyed chatting with them afterward.
Starting the year off right, Michael had a nice dinner with his long-time agent, Archer King, Archer's wife Vivian and actress/director Sophia Robbins on New Year's Day.
On New Year's Eve, Michael performed with Bud and Lou in Ocean City New Jersey's First Night. The comedy team was one of a number of attractions throughout the city. The headliners were Peter Tork and his Shoe Suede Blues. The Abbott & Costello tribute got over-capacity crowds at their three shows.
More Abbott & Costello! On Tuesday, December 13th, Michael joined Gil "Bud" Palmer and Lou Sciara at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany, NJ to perform for the annual Christmas Party of the NJ Honor Legion of Police.
On December 11, Michael and Beth Bartley recreated their roles as Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Foy for the first recording session of Chip Deffaa's Seven Little Foys cast album. Several of the children were there as well to record their songs. The session took place at the Dubway studios in NYC.
On Thursday October 27, 2011, Michael appeared in a program entitled, Jeepers Creepers...It's Boris Karloff at Lincoln Center. The evening began with performers Ron "Groucho" MacCloskey ( who put the show together), Michael Jarmus, Francesca Tedeschi and Michael. The second half featured Sarah Karloff, daughter of Boris. She was interviewed and answered questions from the audience.
On Thursday, October 13th 2011, Michael was the narrator for the staged reading of The Wanderer, a new play that tells the moving story of Dion Dimucci. Dion himself was present and performed a song at the top of the show. The play was written and directed by Charles Messina and produced by Ted Kurdyla. The cast included Peter Greene (Pulp Fiction) and Tom Alan Robbins (the original Pumba in Broadway's Lion King). Business people, producers, agents, and casting personnel comprised the audience and they seemed to enjoy the presentation.
On Sunday, September 25, 2011, Michael once again performed with Gil "Bud" Palmer and Lou Sciara in The Abbott & Costello Show at the Mercer County Italian-American Festival in West Windsor, NJ. Michael introduced Bud and Lou and also performed as Jack Benny. Of course, the show wouldn't be complete without Michael as the violent vagrant in the classic sketch "Niagara Falls (Slowly I Turned....)."
On August 27th and 28th, Michael traveled with Uncle Floyd to Glens Falls, New York to appear in Laura Roth's 1911 Vaudeville Show. The show was very well received, but Hurricane Irene followed the pair to that very area. It wasn't supposed to, but it did! Floyd and Michael had to stay an extra night, as the roads were closed. Fortunately, Michael arrived home safe and sound the next day after a ten-hour car trip. Ah, showbiz!
On Tuesday night, August 30, Michael had a wonderful time at Sofia's nightclub in Manhattan in honor of Ron "Mr. Vitaphone" Hutchinson's birthday. Michael sang "Pennies from Heaven" with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, who perform there every Monday and Tuesday. Comedian Bob Greenberg did a classic burlesque routine with Michael. In attendance were Joe Franklin (of course!) and pianist Peter Mintun.
Michael has been busy! On Saturday, August 20th Michael hosted Fort Lee's Movie Under the Stars presentation of Broadway Danny Rose. He had a wonderful time interviewing the star of the film, Nick Apollo Forte and co-star Joe Franklin. Nick sang his two songs from the film, "Agita" and "My Bambina."
On Sunday, August 14th Michael appeared in Sophia Robbins' Blood Drive web series. This time he played a somewhat normal character coming to the aid of a woman in need.
It's deja vu all over again. On Sunday, August 7th Michael recorded a segment of Prevues from Hell 2 at the Lansdowne Theater in Lansdowne, PA. Jim Monaco directed. Michael played the lead Zombie in Mad Ron's Prevues from Hell way back in 1987.
It's become a trend! Taking Joe Franklin to lunch is now the "in" thing to do. Michael had a great time with Drew Friedman, Tom Leopold, Craig Bierko and Joe Franklin at Sardi's on Wednesday, July 13. The show biz stories were flying fast and furious and the theater going matinee crowd enjoyed the group's animated conversation.
On Sunday, June 19, 2011, Michael acted in "The Mortician" episode of Blood Drive, a web series written by Sophia Robbins and Anna Orkoulas dealing with vampires and the supernatural. Michael plays the mortician with Liane Wunderlich and Leatha Sturges also in the cast. Sophia Robbins directed.
On Wednesday June 22, Michael once again took script in hand and performed as Don Pardo in an industry reading of The Fatman Cometh, The Life and Death of Chris Farley at the Triad theater in Manhattan. Alan Pagano played Chris Farley and Carlo Rivieccio as his manager, Kip (a composite character). The play was written and directed by Charles Messina.
Starting the season off at the Jersey Shore, Michael had a lovely breakfast and delightful conversation with his friends, renowned illustrator Drew Friedman and his wife and collaborator Kathy Bidus in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. They dined at Nagle's, a charming old-fashioned ice cream parlor in the center of town.
A delicious meal in delightful company. On Thursday May 12, 2011 a wonderfully nostalgic lunch took place at Charley O's in Manhattan. The participants were Joe Franklin, Ron "Mr. Vitaphone" Hutchinson and Michael Townsend Wright. The three discussed the acts from Ron's recent film program at the Film Forum and just about everything else show business.
On Monday May 9, Michael travelled to the Film Forum on West Houston St. in Manhattan to attend Ron Hutchinson's Vitaphone show. This features the most recent discoveries of disk and film to be reunited and shown on the screen in 35mm. Michael also spent time chatting with comedians Bob Greenberg and Jonathan Smith, WFMU 's Irwin Chusid, and singer /musician Beth Sorrentino and author Trav SD. As always, it was a fascinating presentation.
Halloween in the spring! On Friday April 30th Lou Sciara (who portrays Lou Costello in the Bud and Lou act) and Michael attended Kevin Clement's Chiller Expo in Parsippany, New Jersey. They said hello to the Cool Ghoul himself, Zacherley, and spoke with actor Gary Busey. But by far their longest chat was with world famous lounge performer Tony Clifton. A very nice guy, Tony seemed to enjoy talking show business with Lou and Michael. He said the two were "old school." You may recall the mysterious Clifton as sometimes being portrayed by Andy Kaufman, and sometimes not. Of course Andy has left us... at least, that's what they say.
On April 22nd, Michael went with Vitaphone Project's Ron Hutchinson to the Film Forum in NYC for the opening night of the W.C. Fields retrospective. Field's grandchildren Ronald and Dr. Harriet Fields opened the series with remarks about their legendary grandfather.
On April 20th, Michael attended the broadcast of WFMU's Seven Second Delay with his old friend Joe Franklin. Joe was co-hosting with Andy Breckman, filling in for Ken Freedman. Joe was a hit and the crowd loved him. Brute Force was also on the bill with his daughter. Michael enjoyed seeing Brute again.
It's Doo Dah time again! On Friday night, April 15th, Michael appeared in a tribute to Meadowlark Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters at the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City, New Jersey. He did his comedy act and also performing "Slowly I Turned" with Bud (Gil Palmer) and Lou (Lou Sciara). Also on the bill were Ron McCloskey, Linda Axelrod, Holly Faris and Ted Prior. The following day, Michael was seen in the Doo Dah Parade as Jack Benny. Meadowlark acted as this year's Grand Marshall.
On Sunday, April 3rd, Michael went once again to see his friend Chip Deffaa's One Night with Fanny Brice starring Kimberly Faye Greenberg. Michael highly recommends this Off Broadway show at the St. Luke's Theater on W. 46th St. in NYC. Michael had a fascinating chat with Edmond Gaynes, who manages St. Luke's. He was one of the Lost Boys in the 1960 television production of Peter Pan with Mary Martin. He was also a recurring character on The Patty Duke Show.
On Saturday, April 2nd, Michael attended the Garden State Film Festival and saw Limbo Lounge starring his friend Ronnie Marmo of General Hospital. Ronnie did a fine job in the film, as did another friend Tom Colovito. Michael also got to meet Danny Cistone, a friend of Ronnie's, who is also a member of the General Hospital cast.
On Wednesday March 23, 2011, Michael went with his old friend Joe Franklin to see One Night with Fanny Brice at St. Luke's Theater in NYC. The show was written and directed by Michael's friend Chip Deffaa and stars Kimberly Faye Greenberg. Joe and Michael really enjoyed the performance with musical director Richard Danley on piano with the amazingly talented young Jonathan Russell on violin.
With his friend and comedy partner Danny Curtis, Michael visited the world famous comedy club, The Comic Strip in Manhattan. Frankie Pace did his one-man show for a documentary on his life and career. Also in the audience was singer Michelle Murlin, from the original cast of Broadway's Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat. Frankie entertained the crowd with his comedy, pantomime, pathos and music.
Michael was invited by Ron Hutchinson of the Vitaphone Project to attend a gathering of friends at Sofia's night spot at the Hotel Edison in Manhattan. Also attending were Shanachie's Sherwin Dunner (about to release the first season of Car 54) and famous film fan Leonard Maltin. The band at Sofia's on Monday and Tuesday nights is Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks so naturally Michael sang. The tunes was Georgie Jessel's theme song, "My Mother's Eyes." The whole gang had a great time discussing old show biz.
The big book event of the year was March 3rd when Michael introduced the living legend Joe Franklin at Drew Friedman's book signing. Drew's new book, "Drew Friedman's Sideshow Freaks" is a huge hit among the New York in-crowd. Also appearing were Todd Robbins of the Off-Broadway hit, "Play Dead" (Michael kidded with him about not touching his props the previous week when he was in "The Fat Man Cometh" at the same theater ), James Taylor (the other one) of the sideshow magazine, "Shocked and Amazed," Larry Storch of F Troop fame who entertained with his stand-up comedy and Irwin Chusid who conducted the Q & A with Drew.
Afterwards that same evening Michael and comedian Bob Greenberg went over to the Players Club for their open mic. Bob did his stand up and Michael performed an excerpt from Smith and Dale's immortal "Dr. Krokheit and His Only Living Patient" and sang "My Mother's Eyes." Michael was pleased to meet the emcee of the event, Brute Force.
What a perfect way for an actor to spend his birthday! On Feb 28th, 2011 Michael appeared as Don Pardo in The Fatman Cometh, the Life and Death of Chris Farley a new play starring Alan Pagano and Carlo Rivieccio. Story by Alan Pagano and Carlo Rivieccio. Written and directed by Charles Messina. It was enjoyed by an SRO crowd and Alan Pagano gave a remarkable performance as Chris Farley. Michael continues to specialize in portrayals of famous people, having appeared on screen as Walter Winchell and the brother of Meyer Lansky, and on stage as Eddie Foy and Judge Hardy, the father of Mickey Rooney's popular character.
Congrats to Chip Deffaa on his new play Fanny Brice and Co. The show features musical numbers from that era and characters include real personalities from the life of Ms. Brice. Chip tapped his old friend Michael Townsend Wright to play W.C. Fields and Walter Winchell (Michael's specialty!) for a reading of the play. Michael also acted in the role of Willie Weston, a fictional character. Other performers included Amy Stiller, Emily Bordonaro, Jack Michael, Kimberly Faye Greenberg, LindaAnn Loschiavo, Brian Childers, Brady Chin, Ben Orlando, Eve Prouty, Ray Yucis , Katiie Brandenstein, and Peter Dagger.
On December 8th, 2010 world renowned caricaturist and illustrator Drew Friedman and Michael ventured into Joe Franklin Land. They visited Joe in his famously cluttered office, had lunch together and traded many show biz stories. They were joined by photographer and author James Hamilton who took many memorable photos.
Sadly, Michael attended the funeral of his friend Mickey Freeman, a great comedian famous for his role in Phil Silvers' Sgt. Bilko show. Mickey will be missed.
On October 19th, 2010 Michael appeared in a production of the prestigious Negro Ensemble Company entitled, The Visitor. It was set in 1895 when Teddy Roosevelt was Police Commissioner. Michael played his assistant, the villain of the piece, as well as one of the narrators. Michael says, "I was proud to perform in a production of this fine and highly respected theater company."
A match made in heaven? Michael collaborated with D.I.Y. legend R. Stevie Moore on a cover version of RSM's composition "No Know." You can hear it here.
Michael had a rare opportunity to see his friend Mickey Rooney perform on stage with his lovely and talented wife Jan. A few years ago Michael worked with Mickey in a show in which Michael played Mickey's father. Mickey Rooney turned 90 on September 23rd.
On May 11, 2010, Michael appeared in a staged reading of a new play written by Vincent Gogliormella and Charles Messina, and produced by Ted Kurdyla. 'Twas the Night Before A Brooklyn Christmas featured a cast of fine actors.
Michael plays an undertaker in Pizza With Bullets, a feature film which made its debut at the Garden State Film Festival on March 28th, 2010. The stars Talia Shire and Vinny Pastore are expected to attend. Also look for Michael's friend Ronnie Marmo who appears on General Hospital. Click here for details.
Returning to the big stage at The Strand Theater in Lakewood, Michael showed another side of his talents in Uncle Floyd's Wild West Show, a country & western music and comedy revue.
Reunion time! At a recent Chiller Theatre convention Michael was warmly greeted by Richard Dreyfuss. The two actors worked together in the HBO film "Lansky" and hadn't seen each other in more than ten years.
Michael released a new song, "A Eddie Foy Softshoe" which cements his identity as "The Cliffwood Crooner." You can sample it on this site by clicking here.
Michael goes Branson! It's true, Michael Townsend Wright, along with song-and-dance man Danny Curtis, hit Branson, Missouri where they presented their popular The Road To Hope show. Here's a TV commercial advertising the show's November run.
The reviews are in! Michael's starring role as Eddie Foy in Chip Deffaa's charming production of The Seven Little Foys played to enthusiastic response at the prestigious New York Fringe Festival. Here's what the critics are saying:
"Michael Townsend Wright gives Foy life..." -- Lauren Yarger, American Theater Web
"...a charming homage..." -- David Fuller, nytheater.com
"Michael Townsend Wright, as Eddie... gives us some great soft shoe and is a real charmer." -- David Fuller, nytheater.com
"Michael Townsend Wright plays the roguish father Foy with authentic, show biz charm..." -- Rob Lester, Edge Boston
Chalk up another successful performance at The Strand Theater in Lakewood, NJ on September 14th, 2008. This was the biggest one yet! Michael was part of the ensemble cast for the new production of Uncle Floyd's Last Authentic American Traveling Burlesque Show.
Released on April 15th, 2008, a CD by the Naked Brothers Band. In addition to new music by this popular kids group, the disc includes a secret link to a site where kids can see the "County Fair" episode before it airs on Nickelodeon! Michael plays the Emcee in this long-awaited episode.
Michael is constantly busy with a whole new season of live stage shows by Ace in the Hole Productions. There's hardly a week goes by that Michael isn't performing in one or another of their popular productions.
Once again, Michael had a chance to shine in Uncle Floyd's Last American Variety Show at the Strand Theater in Lakewood, NJ. This was Michael's third appearance on the big stage at this beautifully restored vaudeville house.
Watch for Michael in Alpha City coming soon from Remain Calm Pictures. He plays a superintendent in this unique short thriller.
Another short film starring Michael is making the rounds. Watch for Scorcher, directed by Robert Rothbard.
The Road To Hope goes on, with Michael Townsend Wright and Danny Curtis reviving the old Hope & Crosby "Road Pictures" as a live stage production in dinner theaters around the tri-state area. Keep an eye out for where the show will be next.
If you see Uncle Floyd performing on stage somewhere, there's a good chance Michael will be there. Michael works with Floyd in his theater appearances, performing as Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and other characters, as he did on the Uncle Floyd TV show for many years.
Mr. Wright recently completed a run of dinner theater performances starring as Ed Sullivan in A Really Big Shew. A production of Ace In The Hole, Michael is a regular member of the cast and takes part in many of their shows throughout the year.