Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Dominic Fortuna
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Dominic Fortuna

Rick Coates - June 27th, 2011
For Dominic Fortuna the Show Must Go On
By Rick Coates
Dominic Fortuna is back in Northern Michigan, at least for the moment. Fresh off his third stint with Grease, that kept Fortuna on Broadway and on the road for much of the past three and half years, he is happy to be back in Northern Michigan and working on a new summer season.
Fortuna and his wife Ashley Moeggenberg Fortuna are producing three shows this summer at the Williamsburg Dinner Theater beginning this Friday, July 1 and continuing through August.
“I launched the Williamsburg Dinner Theater eight years ago and we have had a great run and we want to keep it going,” said Fortuna, who is a 33-year veteran of the region’s entertainment scene. “My wife and I talked and decided we are going to put everything we can into making this work as we want to stay here in Northern Michigan and be performers and raise our children.”

The challenge Fortuna is facing is that the rest of the country is calling for his talent. Vegas wants him, so does LA and Nashville and New York is also calling and they want him back.
“I started performing in Northern Michigan in 1978 at Brownwood, I was in the Young Americans and built a following performing at my father’s restaurant,” said Fortuna. “I have been fortunate to be able to perform throughout the region and I love it here; I am hoping to stay but I have to make it work financially.”
While enjoying the comforts of home, Fortuna wanted to know if he had what it took to perform on a national level. He began exploring opportunities outside of Northern Michigan a few years back that led to appearances on Dick Clark’s Your Big Break and NBC’s Grease: You’re the One That I Want.
Fortuna has also over the years has shared the stage with stars including Dean Martin, Barry Manilow and Joe Piscopo. His big break with NBC’s Grease (an American Idol-style show to create the Broadway cast for the musical’s revival that was a huge hit with 30 million viewers) came with some challenges.
“I went down to Chicago in October of 2006 for an audition and one of the writers/producers of the show spotted me. And it was a good thing because the lines were long and after waiting several hours I realized that I wasn’t going to get my chance. So I got out of line and went up and handed my resume and photos to one of the organizers because I had to get back to the Williamsburg to do a show that night,” said Fortuna.
“Well they told me that one of the writers, Jim Jacobs, was interested in me and so I got to move to the front of the line. They liked what I did and asked me to come back the next day for the dance auditions. So I drove home, did the Dinner Theater, slept for about two hours and left at 2 a.m. to head back to Chicago. They liked my dance audition and they asked if I could come back the next day. So I had to drive back again for a Dinner Theater show and again leave at 2 a.m. I got back and they told me I was moving on to the semi-finals in LA.”

Well, Fortuna was auditioning for the lead and his luck would turn sort of after arriving in LA.
“I arrived and they decided I was too old to play the part of Danny and I responded ‘find me an older Sandy.’ They came back and said ‘well you are too short as well,’ and I said “find me a shorter Sandy,” said Fortuna. “But then they (producers) told me they wanted me to play the part of Vince Fontaine on Broadway.”
The producers kept their word and contacted Fortuna, eventually sending him a script and flying him to New York to read and sing in front of the writers and producers.
“Well they threw me a curveball and said that the previous Vince Fontaine, who happened to be my friend Joe Piscopo, also did a warm up act prior to curtain going up for about 15 minutes and they asked me to show them what I would do if they were to give that to me as well. So with about 30 seconds of thought I put a comedic routine together that included audience interaction,” said Fortuna. “Well, they told me they would get back to me. So I head to the airport to get on a plane at La Guardia wondering if they would call and my phone rings and they told me they wanted me for Broadway and for the eventual national tour for both the Vince Fontaine part and the pre performance stand-up routine.”

Fortuna starred on Broadway along with American Idol winner Taylor Hicks for a year and eventually went on a 49-city two-year tour of the off-Broadway production of Grease with Hicks. Fortuna received rave reviews and often he was singled out as the “bright spot” or the “best performance” in the reviews. His opening act also received two thumbs up from the critics. At each tour stop the media sought out both Fortuna and Hicks for interviews.
“It was great because I got to to promote Traverse City and Northern Michigan in every major city in the country in several publications and on TV,” said Fortuna.
Fortuna left the Grease tour last fall to return home to be with his family and to get the Williamsburg Dinner Theater back on track but what he found was sort of an “out of sight, out of mind” response when he returned home.
“It’s not like people forgot me but it was like ‘what have you been up to, haven’t heard your name much lately’ sort of thing,” said Fortuna. “I was under the impression that all of these reviews were getting back home but I guess not. I was on CNN, in major publications but word didn’t get back.”
With business being slow, Fortuna received a call late this winter asking him to return to Grease to finish the tour.
“The person playing the role of Teen Angel and Vince Fontaine left the tour to be with his family and they called and asked me to finish the tour,” said Fortuna. “It was great as I was billed as the headliner. I just finished a couple of weeks ago and now I am focused on the Williamsburg Dinner Theater.”
Fortuna and his wife said they are going to see if they can make it go and if not he is going to entertain some options in Vegas or New York this fall.

The Williamsburg Dinner Theater will offer three different musical tribute shows through the rest of the summer.
• “Country Cool” on Thursdays will feature country hits from Johnny Cash to Shania Twain and everything in between.
• “Yesterday Once More” focuses on the iconic music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s including TV, movies, and more on Friday nights.
• “Rock ‘N’ Roll Heaven” on Saturdays is a tribute to the best of entertainers who have have passed on from Elvis to Hendrix to Judy Garland and several in between.

Make reservations and review the schedule at www.cateringbykellys.com or call the box office at 231-938-2181. Both Fortuna and his shows are also available for private events.
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