Connie Francis Chats with Buzzin; Davy Jones Socks it to Ya — RrazzRoom; A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum

by Buzzin' Lee Hartgrave on October 15, 2010


Connie Francis is really interesting to talk with. We kidded about her Italian name. I tried to pronounce it – and failed at that. She said: “You’re obviously not Italian.” But, I told her – Hartgrave is my step-dad’s name. I grew up around mostly Irish kids and knew very little Italian. Francis, on the other hand, grew up around Italians. Her father taught her to sing in Italian and English, and it was one of the many things that made Francis a star. She was able to capture two cultures (English and Italian) with her songs.

Connie Francis will be singing this Saturday Evening at that Gem – The Castro Theatre. The interior is like a mini Opera House. It’s perfect for Francis, who will be backed by her 21-piece Orchestra. Now, how many times do you see a show with and enormous band like that? Heck – even the Broadway shows these days don’t have that many in their Orchestras.

Francis has been at the Castro at least three times. And each time it has been an extraordinary exciting evening of music. You know how the Castro is – it has that built in ‘Camp’ – stomping feet and all.

“I did an AIDS Benefit at the Leather Bar the SF Eagle in the City. My book was out and I signed lot’s and lot’s of books and Butts” — she snickered. “Well it was all for a good cause – and they were wearing those chaps with their bare buns – and they asked me to sign there. It sure was a boost for my Career in San Francisco. I had a wonderful time at the Eagle. Is it still there?” I assured her that it was.

Francis works tirelessly for AIDS, and for victims of crime across the nation. “The American Association of Chiefs of Police has been very helpful for me to get teenagers off of drugs and out of danger. I am very interested in helping Veterans and others with Post Traumatic Stress. I will never give up!” — And she means it. She’s not just whistling through the wind.

I asked her if she was influenced by Gospel Music. –“I love Gospel Music. My Dad always wanted me to record a Gospel Album – but I was reluctant. Now, I wish that I had. However, I did do a couple of songs that have a tinge of gospel in the music.” I’ve always been amazed that when you were a teenager you seemed so grown-up when you sang those sweet songs. “Well – I started when I was four years old giving a concert. As time went on, I became more sure of myself and grew up on the stage.”

“You know what? – everything was not always great. I had ten bombs in a row after I left MGM. It was Dick Clark that turned my Teen Career age around. Thank God for him. Also musically, my father had a lot of influence about my song selections. And, he was usually right.”

Is there any song that you wished you would have recorded – but didn’t? – “Yes – ‘The Wind Underneath My Wings’. I had a chance to record it – but I was going through some bad times then, and the words in the song were just too depressing for me to try to sing. I wish now that I had recorded it.”

What is your favorite T.V. show or shows? – “I never miss The Young and The Restless. Also, another show that I would never miss is the Bill Maher show on HBO. As you say – he tells it like it really is.”

“I’m excited to return to San Francisco. I hope that you will come back stage after the show.” Me? Hey – of course I will – isn’t that “Where the Boys are?” and, wouldn’t I be bad if I missed “Who’s Sorry Now.”


Davy Jones at the Rrazzroom. Photo: Pat Johnson

HE JOKES “This show is a lot better when your drunk – Davy tells the audience – then he takes off with the song “Someone’s Knocking at Your Door.” Jones has written over 200 songs, and he almost sings that many in his extensive and gracious opening at the Famed Rrazz Room.

The audience really digged his choice of songs. I dug them too, especially “Daydream Believer” and “I’m A Believer.” “Then he stirs the pot again with the terrific “Last Train to Clarksville” – here’s a lyric: “While I’m leaving in the Morning – Oh No, No, No.” The audience went berserk. They were definitely buzzed.

In the 60’s in San Francisco’s Curran Theatre, Jones sang the hit “Consider Yourself One of Us”: – from the musical Oliver. He sang it at the Rrazz. Let my tell you. This was an audience that was made in heaven. I think that every die-hard fan of Jones was in the room. They hooted and hollered and sang some of the songs with him. What a stirring night. I even came to life.

Then he sang the great Neil Sedaka song “Hey Rainy Day” – it was electrifying. In between the great music, Jones jokes around a lot. Here’s another one: — “I went on a cruise ship. When I sat down I was a Catholic – when I got up – I was Jewish!” He introduced his gorgeous wife and dancer with the show ‘Jessica Pacheco. “When I first met Jessica – she said. Let’s run up the stairs and have wild sex. I said ‘it’s got to be one OR the other!”
Jones also jokes about his age (mid-sixties).

“I get a lot of letters saying they will love me forever (fans) – Little Liars!” So, you see you get a total package at this show. He’s a great singer with the best vocal and Band arrangements that I have ever heard. Wow- they are good.

One more thing — Jones sang “Secret Love” – that has long been associated with Doris Day. His rendition is NOT Doris day. Jones’s phrasing is just fantastic. I thought it would be boring – but to the contrary, I found myself writing him one of the those “I will love you forever letters.” I have a feeling that he will be back at the Razz. The audience will demand it!

THE THRILLING BAND: Aviva Maloney: Sax, Keyboard, vocals, little bit of everything. Eric Biando: Trumpet, percussion, comic relief, and vocal. John Blair: bass, vocals, dangerous dance moves: Felipe Torres: drums, vocals, known for water-spraying finales. Jimmy Riccditelli: Keyboard, vocals, bandleader, and martini connoisseur and Jessica Pacheco” dancer and Jones’s lovely wife. Not only do they look hot — They are HOT!

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-

*Interview with Davy Jones is NOW PUBLIC on

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and Produced and Hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

Now Playing at the Eureka Theatre.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum was the first Broadway production that boasted music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The funny situations were culled from the plays of ‘Titis Maccius Plautus’ (253 BC – 184 BC). How do I know? Well – I’m not that old, but I did look it up. The writers rewrote what they found in the plays, drawing characters and situations freely from the old scripts.

The plot revolves around Pseudoulus, a slave who will do almost anything to gain freedom. But Pseudolus runs into a lot of problems along the way. He (in this case the role is played by a she) is left in charge of the owner’s young son who has fallen madly in love with a beautiful blonde courtesan. Everything turns upside down. One lie leads to another. It’s a tangled Web of deceit, promises, mistakes and a narcissist Roman Commander.

Full of show stopping songs and hysterical situations – you hardly have time to catch your breath between laughs. The musical has been a musical favorite for years and years. But, it still seems fresh, especially in the 42nd Moon spiffed up production. With a minimal set that really captures the Roman period so perfectly and so funny, that you don’t want it to end.

There are so many productions of “Forum” that it is a surprise that Sondheim hasn’t retired with the Royalties. In the show you will find many different music styles – some even operatic. I think this production is a masterpiece.

The whole thing is just wonderful. Some of the music is comical while other like ‘Lovely’ and “Impossible’ are a couple of favorites. And, of course there is the fantastic “Comedy Tonight” – it is certainly one of the biggest showstoppers of all musicals. Especially fun is – “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid.”

This show is like High Priced Champagne – it just bubbles with mirth and merriment. To borrow a line from the show: –“I live to Grovel!”

THE CAST THE CONQUERED ROME: Megan Cavanagh (Prologus/Psedolus. Luke Chapman (Hero). Meghan Ihle (Philia). Rob Hatzenbeller (Miles Gloriosus). Chris Macomber (Domina). Michael Rhone (Hysterium). Kate Paul (Gymnasia). Sophia Morris (Panacea). Rudy Guerrero (Lycus). Bob Greene (Senex). Tyler Costin (Third Protean). Janine Burgener (Tintinabula). Isiah Boyd (First Protean) and Christine Bagube (Vibrata). They all gave 4-D performances as they were meant to be seen.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) – trademarked-



Adam Lambert, the American Idol contestant has drawn some protests from the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party because of his plans to play a concert at the Putra Indoor Stadium. Part reps have said that they believe that Lambert’s performances promote “gay culture” and contains “lewd dancing and gay performances that include kissing male dancers.” – A.P. Lambert said he would tone down the show. He was quoted in A.P. – “Man kissing another man is something that government really doesn’t appreciate.” Really?


This Coming Saturday (Oct. 16) at the Castro Theatre – Francis will thrill the mostly male audience with “Where The Boys Are” and other timeless hits. She will fill the audience with all the favorites Francis has brought with her a 21 piece Band. Now how about that? You and the boys have to be there. Fans of every generation will love this show. Presented by the popular Rrazz Room at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.


Christine O’Donnell (Tea Party Candidate) has said that she is ‘not a witch.’ To paraphrase that Bette Davis impressionist Charles Pierce: – “But ya are, Blanche. You are!” Oh My – smoke is in the air.

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The Photo of Lee Hartgrave Boy Reporter is by Jim Ferreira – Film Noir & Hollywood Glamour.



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Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave

Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave is a longtime theater critic in the San Francisco Bay Area. His reviews appear each Friday in Beyond Chron.

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