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The Wind Beneath My Wings...

It sounds corny, but it's 100% true: Jo Ann Clark is my True Love.  The way she loves me, believes in me and supports me has me ready to do anything!

BBYO

Always A Part of My Heart...

My Jewish identity has always been a huge part of who I am.  The B'nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO) forever changed my life.  In addition to being a member, I worked for BBYO as a Judaic educator and song leader for twenty-five years.  Recently, I accepted a job as Music Educator at Mizel Jewish Community Day School and I'm thrilled to once again have a hand in shaping young lives with music and the arts!

RU in a Clamshell

Put One Foot in Front of the Other...

When Blue Combo and I parted ways, I went on with a solo career.  At first, I felt very much like I look in this picture, one voice on a massive stage, with storms rolling in...but that's not how it played out.  Tulsa, my home town, embraced me in a way that's never stopped.  I'm so blessed to share in this ongoing love fest with the City of Tulsa!!

 

 

Me & AHC 1

My Diva Out There...

Around 2003, I met one of my all time best and favorite mentors, my Diva Out There, the incredible Ann Hampton Callaway.  I got her autograph and managed not to get any fan drool on her.  A few years later, she returned to play solo at the Tulsa PAC.  During her concert, she encouraged everyone in the crowd to ask more questions, to ask for more from others.  That night, I asked her to be my mentor and she and her lovely wife, Kari, have always been there for me from that night on.  ASK!!  You never know what you might get!!

Once Upon A Time...

Another year, another original cabaret show for the SummerStage festival. I created an adult fairy tale (not X rated, simply featuring adults) using some story telling and all original music, "Never Before Released." I also graduated to a full band! I have had the pleasure of working with many great photographers, and I love this shot by Carol Curry!!

Eddie in Rocky

Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul...

Theater and music are two WAY different things, let me tell you! Being in Rocky Horror stretched me in ways I never dreamed, plus it totally gave me the BUG!  Theater has always been in my blood and I never looked back.  Acting has led to directing and now theater accounts for the majority of my work.

Bad Ass Betty 2

Seven Wigs, No Waiting...

Here I am in all my Betty glory, with the irrepressible Tabitha Littlefield as Pickles.  Tabitha and I met at the first rehearsal of Trailer Park, where she was off book.  I hated her immediately, but not really!!  We've done lots of things together since, but nothing will ever compare to this wonderful, funny show.  I'll never forget how sweet this young talent was to me from the git go on until today.  God bless the young ones!!

UnwittingWifeweb

Five Months and We're Off...

Five weeks passed from the first thoughts to the first, fledgling staged reading of my first musical, "The Unwitting Wife," FIVE MONTHS after that, I produced two more staged readings of the show in Israel.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  The shawarma was delish!

SummerStage 2013 2

SummerStage 2013...

I am still exceedingly proud of this cover of Intermission Magazine, the publication of our Tulsa PAC. Sure, I'm there as Queen Cleofis, and more on her later, but I directed and produced three out of four of the shows on the cover.  "84 Charing Cross Road" was a love letter to all bibliophiles, especially my mother, and Cynthia Simmons Taylor was the first artist's show I produced for SummerStage, but not the last. Great early work!!

Narrow View Try A Broad Way

How I Handle Grief...

My father, Maynard Ungerman, of blessed memory, died in July of 2013.  The next month, I put up the first of my many revue shows, consisting of bits and pieces of seventy-six songs from fifty-two Broadway musicals, woven into eight mega medleys, with a cast of sixteen.  I didn't have my Bipolar II diagnosis yet, but I believe it was firing mightily back then.

Great show, awful title!!

Me & Janet Rutland

Walking in Tall Cotton...

One of the amazing things about "Tulsa! A Radio Christmas Spectacular" is the role of Edith Montclaire was written especially for me.  One of the other amazing things is the role of Barbara Tate was written especially for Tulsa treasure, Janet Rutland.  Janet and I have sung together more times than I can count, but to trod the boards with this exquisite professional was a joyful learning experience.  LOVE this keyhole pick from backstage!

Me, Stokes and Allyson Tucker

Celebrity Proximity Disorder (CPD)...

I suffer from self diagnosed CPD. When I'm around someone who has moved me with their art...or the local weatherpeople and newscasters...I become the definition of 'blithering.'  Symptoms include shortness of breath, fan drool and inability to form complete or coherent sentences.  Here I am, pictured between Brian Stokes Mitchell (JACKPOT JACKSON FROM TRAPPER JOHN M.D., not to mention SO MANY BROADWAY HITS!!!) and his lovely, talented wife, Allyson Tucker.  I walked away covered in fangurl sweat and didn't even care!!

Color Purple

Little Big Musicals...

There are a few concert versions of Broadway musicals that have changed my life; the 1995 'Anyone Can Whistle,' with Scott Bakula, Bernadette Peters and Madeline Kahn and the 2001 'Dreamgirls In Concert' with Lillias White and Audra McDonald to name two.  In 2014, I realized my dream of creating a local series utilizing this art form with 'The Color Purple In Concert,' beautifully directed by Machele Miller Dill, who also did the gwajus artwork.  After this show, I was to be henceforth known as a producer of Black theater in Tulsa.  If there's a heaven, my folks are very pleased.

Tulsa A Radio Christmas Spectacular 2

Tulsa! Goes Pint Sized...

One of my favorite experiences at Spotlight Children's Theater was directing a children's cast in "Tulsa! A Radio Christmas Spectacular."  Cody Daigle-Orians, Suzy Meredith Orr and I created a sweet, funny play that needed no changes to fit this production.  Our cast was professional and silly as all get out.  Any time I get to work with Music Director Christy Stalcup is a grand time, indeed!!

Dreamgirls

Oh, Baby, I Got A Show To Do...

I closed out 2015 with the second in the Little Big Musicals series, "Dreamgirls In Concert."  Machele Miller Dill returned to deftly direct one hawt group of talent.  When we lost our keyboard player two rehearsals before opening night, Machele stepped in and also added some flute.  I tell you, there's not a lot my friend Machele can't do and do really, really well!

Really Rosie

Oh, Baby, I Got A Show To Do...

During my first year as Artistic Director of Spotlight Children's Theater, I produced five shows.  It was a dream come true to close the season with the Maurice Sendak/Carole King classic, "Really Rosie."  To direct this show, to translate a favorite childhood cartoon musical onto the stage, it was a stone cold blast!  WARNING: Close inspection of this picture could lead to audible exclamations of wonder at all the cuteness! NONE of the work I did at Spotlight would have happened without then Executive Director, Larry Cochran or the man that keeps the Spotlight shining, Jere Uncapher.

 

 

Motown2

Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch...

Do you want to have a great time? Do a Motown show! As much of a Jazz singer as I am, I finally got to indulge my inner back up singer/doo wop girl with this super fun and funky celebration of Berry Gordy's brainchild.  It moved, it was funny, it was fresh and it had tons of heart and social consciousness.  I want to take this show all over, mainly to see how happy the audiences are at the end of the night.  Christy Stalcup was superb as Music Director.

The Invisibility Project

The Feminist Mystique...

It's quite something to get a call to share some deep, personal moments with an audience.  Machele, via her Echo Theatre Company, had created The Invisibility Project, in which many talented women got to expose themselves emotionally for the betterment of all present.  Happily, I was also giving the opportunity to write a couple of songs for the show. I highly recommend having your work sung by a group of baddass lady singers.  It will put the wind in your sails for sure!

COAC title art, no logos

Getting Together to Blow...

In honor of my white, Jewish mother and her Black, Christian best friend, I created 'Cats of Any Color,' a bit of the history of the partnership between Blacks and Jews in social action and music from the Jazz Age through the Civil Rights era.  It's a powerful work that played the 2017 SummerStage Festival with an encore, free and open to the public performance in John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park.  The encore was co-produced by Oklahomans for Equality, Oklahoma Council of Community Justice and the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation.

Ungerman_C

What's Next...

There is always something new on the horizon.  I am compelled to give the world more to see, more to think about.  I am called to open stages for underutilized talent.  I must tell stories that touch people hearts and minds.  You can always catch me every Wednesday at The Wild Fork, 5:30-8pm, or every second Saturday at Fair Fellow Coffee for The Tulsa Sound Sampler.  I'm currently developing a small town tour of classic theaters in Oklahoma, playing The Way Motown Revue, Cats of Any Color, The Way Holiday Revue and more.  If you got this far, maybe you are in need of my entertainment services.  I'd love to sing for you!  I'd love to create a show for you!!  I will give you all more to see...

Me 1978

A Girl With A Dream...

In the beginning (here, 1978) there was a young, curly haired girl with two dreams, being on the stage and helping to make the world a better place.

Little Richard

Then Everything Changed...

My mother, Elsa Ungerman, of blessed memory, died in 1998.  My life, which was then focused on Jewish education, changed.  I joined a band, Blue Combo and, less than a year later, we were opening for Little Richard at Tulsa's historic Cain's Ballroom.  For the next few years I was 50% youth director, 50% entertainer.

Me & Frank Brown at Ciao

Playing Around...

In my years as a saloon singer here in Tulsa and surrounding parts, I have had the pleasure of playing with some of the finest musicians ever to pick up an instrument.  Here I am with Professor Frank Brown, playing in the Primo Room at Ciao, Baby!  Tulsa never knew a better room for Jazz!

Indulge Me

An Intimate Conversation With 97 People...

In 2004, I was asked to do my first show for the Tulsa PAC SummerStage Festival. I decided to go the tried and true, one gal and a piano route and told an ambitious, entertaining version of my life, "Indulge Me." Happily, my friend and favorite writer, P. Casey Morgan, agreed to pen the show with me.  Oh, how we laughed!! Casey and I have always thought very highly of our wit.  I mixed standard tunes with some originals.  Upon finishing "Ready for the Next Step Now," music by Steve Elmore, lyrics by yours truly, an audience member bestowed me with the most authentic 'You go, Gurl!' I've ever received.

Me & Ethan Zohn

Nothing's the Matter With Kids Today...

Throughout the first decade of the century, I continued to split my time between performing and youth group work.  I loved connecting teens with their faith, with social action.  I got to work with some wonderful professionals, people who have dedicated their lives to helping youth become positive forces in the world.  One of the cutest and sweetest was former Survivor contestant and forever do gooder, Ethan Zohn.  What a guy!!

Me & Hank Spot Awards

And the Winner Is...

2009 brought one of the greatest accolades I'll ever receive: Urban Tulsa Weekly Magazine’s ABOT (Absolute Best of Tulsa) Female Vocalist.  A few thousand Tulsans voted and really validated what I do plus my career rose to new heights.  Here I am with another winner that evening, Best Producer, my recording partner for lo, these past thirty years, Hank Charles of Valcour Studios.

Seussical

Oh, the Places I'll Go...

After Rocky, I was The Sour Kangaroo in 'Seussical.'  HARUMPH! You should have seen the kids in the children's hospital light up when our cast came in to wish them merry Christmas!

Sweet & Hot

Sweet & Hot...

Not for nothing, amidst all this theatrical work, I was still singing every chance I got.  I held down gigs around town and also started doing shows and concerts with the wonderful Cindy Cain and Pam Van Dyke Crosby.  Along with our friend and one of my favorite collaborators, P. Casey Morgan, we formed Sweet & Hot Productions, which lasted a good many years.

Festival-1

Why Is That Pouf Staring at the Top of My Head...

Oy, this festival!  On one hand, we got to mix with theatrical pros from seven different countries, including a Russian theatrical critic named Norma.  On the other, we were told we had to cut thirty minutes an hour before we went on.  Did I mention the shaworma?

SummerStage 2013

Hawt Off the Presses...

SummerStage 2013 was a turning point for me.  It was the second year I'd produced three shows for the festival, but the first where I felt completely in charge.  I was working with other artists to help them find their vision and translate that vision to the stage.  This is work I never want to stop doing!!  I love leading other talent through doors I have already kicked down!

 

 

Spring Awakening

Too Legit To Quit...

Later in 2013, I was honored to serve as Musical Director of the University of Tulsa's production of "Spring Awakening," directed by my friend and head of Musical Theater at TU, Machele Miller Dill.  I was officially a J. Donald Feagin Guest Artist.  This cast featured so many young people I still know and love today, including the late, great Mikal Hunt, a man we lost way too soon later that year.  He still gives me fashion advice from beyond the grave. 

 

 

 

The Way Broad Review

The Way Broad Review...

Another great thing Janet Rutland gave me was the final title structure for all my future review shows: The Way ____ Revue.  The Way Broad Revue was the first to use it and the show was broad, indeed! It was good, but with twenty people in the cast, it was a little TOO broad! Regardless, we all had a blast and the audience did as well.  That's really all that matters in the end!!  This is one of my favorite bits of show art, from the magical mind of Machele Miller Dill.

 

Me & Villanch

CPD part 2...

Another trigger for my CPD on that trip to NYC was (OMG!!) Mr. Bruce Villanche (SQUEE!!!!).  Bruce has written for the likes of Bette Midler and Billy Crystal and is, like me, an out and proud artist.  He is also, like me, one of those people who isn't really a standard size to fit a standard dress, either physically or talent-wise.  Eternal thanks to Machele for helping me interrupt the gracious Bruce's lunch not once, but a second time for the awesome pic!!

SummerStage 2015

Hey! Ms. Producer...

SummerStage 2015 brought another three show season: The Way Bent Revue, Pat Hobbs--Firsts! and Thomas Williams--Holding Out for a Hero.  The revue was a success!!  Bent is apparently better than Broad.  I got to work with two wonderful talents in Pat Hobbs and Thomas Williams.  People were beginning to seek me out, to trust me to translate their artistic vision to the stage.  It was a gratifying and addicting experience.

My Yiddishe Mamas

To All the Gals That Went Before...

Sometimes I have that classic thought: If I could do one thing for the rest of my life, it would be _____.  I usually fill in that blank with 'create and produce shows with large casts and social relevance.'  Sometimes the blank reads: be a recording artist.  There is nothing like working at Valcour Studios with my producing partner of thirty years, Hank Charles.  He has always heard what's in my head.  Recording 'My Yiddishe Mamas--The Early Years' was extra sweet, as that young, musical phenom, Jordan Hehl, played all the instrumental tracks. This album truly is my love letter to all the nice, Jewish girls who blazed the trails for entertainers like me.

Tulsa Gridiron

The Most Meaningful, Ridiculous Gig Ever...

For about a dozen years, I've had the pleasure of directing the Tulsa Gridiron, a Capitol Steps style evening of song and spoofery of local, state and national politics and pop culture.  The Tulsa Gridiron has been around for over eighty years and I have learned more, made more friends and had more fun doing this show than any other professional experience in my career.  No show in town can boast an audience filled with more local celebrities and politicians, mainly because they want to see how we put 'em on the gridiron. Yes, we put 'em on the pan!

Thomas Williams Villians

Thomas Farnan-Williams, SUPERSTAR...

I feel so fortunate that Thomas Farnan-Williams entrusted his first two one man shows to me!!  He is a singular talent in Tulsa, as in one singular sensation.  I've never heard him hit a wrong note and his heart is pitch perfect.  What a joy to produce such talent!

RU Dreidle

Me As Elf On Dreidle...

I closed 2016 with a whirlwind of song, shlepping and romance.  I wish I had known when we did 'The Way Holiday Revue" that it would be the last work I would do at Harwelden Mansion. What a grand space! The show, featuring a host of my talented friends and me, was a treat for all. The day after we closed, I flew out to Washington to pick up my fiancee and bring her home via I-5 and I-40. Best. Road trip. EVAH!!

OG Final Art

The Greater Whole...

'Oy, Gestalt!' was the autobiographical sequel to 'Indulge Me,' and I finally got P. Casey Morgan to write with me again.  Funny how a proper Bipolar II diagnosis and treatment can make a girl easier to work with! Heck, I enjoy working with me more than ever, now that my yins and yangs aren't so very jangly.  The show was a hit and we'll do it again at the new Lynn Riggs Theater at the Dennis Neill Equality Center in November, 2018.

BBYO 1

A Girl With A Guitar and Hair for Days...

Circa 1988. Many things in this photo are interesting, beyond my enormous Jew 'fro. The guitar, a Lorenzo, I got used when I was 16, in London.  When I returned to the hotel and showed my mom, she rolled her eyes, but I used that axe for years!! I'm also pictured at a youth group function. IMPORTANT!

Blue Combo 2002

Big Stages, Big Happenings...

During my three years with Blue Combo, we were super hot around Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas.  We headlined blues festivals and swing dancers would appear out of nowhere to dance to our music.  I learned how to talk to crowds and throw my voice around. Most importantly, I learned that I could raise money and awareness for good causes just by singing a song. I treasure my time with Blue Combo!!!

What a training ground!

Divas 2009

Singing Songs, Saving Lives...

It was around this time that I helped to create the DIVA shows for Health, Outreach, Prevention and Education (H.O.P.E.). In a little over a decade, the DIVA shows raised over $300,000 for HIV education, testing and prevention.  I call these shows one of my tickets to heaven. Here I am pictured with Frank Brown, Hank Charles, my producing partner of over 30 years and Kate Neary, then the director of H.O.P.E.

 

Ten Cent Trinkets

The Female, Oklahoma Gilbert & Sullivan...

In 2005, Casey and I got fictional and wrote the show 'Ten Cent Trinkets.'  We used a couple of favorite aunts for inspiration and ended up with a sweet evening of entertainment, tied together with a charm bracelet.  It would be another dozen years before Casey would write another show with me.  I don't blame her! I got a later in life Bipolar II diagnosis.  I can't imagine what working with me before I was properly medicated must have been like.

 

 

Me & Machele

It's Friendship...

2010 rolled around and I was asked to portray both Eddie and Dr. Scott in Tulsa Project Theatre's production of 'The Rocky Horror Show,' at The Joint, located in the Hard Rock Casino.  I only had to meet with the director for approval.  I didn't know I was going to meet with a woman who was to become one of my best friends, Machele Miller Dill.  Among her many titles, accolades and skills is being the head of Musical Theater at the University of Tulsa.  Another is getting me.

Bad Ass Betty 1

Bad Ass Betty...

My next role was the most challenging and the most fun thing I've ever done on stage, still, to this day: Bad Ass Betty.  From mastering the Floridian accent to toilet brush choreography, this was a full blown musical and I was one of the leads.  Thank goodness for the visionary, funny and smart directors, cast and crew!!  I'd do this show again in a heartbeat...but all these years later, I'd also direct and produce it!! Bring back Bad Ass Betty!!!

SummerStage 2012

Seasons in the Sun...

2012 brought my first three show season for the Tulsa SummerStage Festival.  I created all the shows, including my first original musical, 'The Unwitting Wife.'

 

Me & Rivkah

Friends Are A Girl's Best Friend...

My dear friend Machele later used this picture of me as the basis for the "My Yiddishe Mamas-The Early Years" art. I am truly happy here, on the balcony of my friend Rivkah and Elan's apartment. GURLZ!! You know that mind blowing, feminist professor that blew your mind in college? Rivkah...totes that for me.

Queen Cleofis

Queen Cleofis...

The other great thing about SummerStage 2013 was doing my first Queen Cleofis show.  The Queen is a dotty old bird from Baltimore who has made a living for herself as a powerful jazz singer in Krakow, Poland. Think Hasslehoff in Germany. She also lives in my head and was dying to get out.

J'adore Queen Cleofis!!!

 

Tulsa A Radio Christmas Spectacular

Written for Me, Written by Me...

2013 also brought "Tulsa! A Radio Christmas Spectacular," written by Cody Daigle-Orians with incidental music by Suzy Meredith-Orr and three original songs written by yours truly.  It is the great destiny of any Jewish songwriter to pen a Christmas song and my "When You Come Around Christmastime" was a charmer.  This whole show and experience was a charmer...except for the fact that I was super sick, had no medical insurance and didn't know what was wrong with me...but that's for another slide.

NYMTF

In New York You Can Be A New Man...

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I got the email that my "Republican Song" had been selected to be a part of a showcase of female composers at The New York Musical Theater Festival.  Machele went with me and we had a life changing time.  My favorite moment, however, was standing on the street outside a bar when it was all over, talking on the phone to a patron of mine...who I didn't know yet was going to be my wife!!

AV 37--Hopeful Romantic back cover

A Word to the Universe...

Dear Universe,

Thank you SO much for reading the back of my Hopeful Romantic CD back in 2013.  Thank you for giving me the wherewithal to write the dedication in the first place.  My True Love, My Jo read it back then, before we knew, and wondered.  On 1/28/17, she said 'YES!'

SHE SAID YES!!!

 

 

 

Spotlight

The Pied Piper...

In the Fall of 2015, I began a two year stint as Artistic Director of Spotlight Children's Theater.  I have always had a way with kids, no matter how old they are.  I have never seen young people as anything other than people and talent is talent.  It's a privilege to be a positive part of anyone's story.  I will always be grateful for this experience and for the eight shows in two years we brought to the most charming stage in Tulsa.

 

Bad Jews

Bad Jews, Bad Jews, Whatcha Gonna Do...

Occasionally, I'm fortunate enough to receive a call to direct a show. It was an honor to work for Heller Theater.  In my late teens and early twenties, I used to run tech for shows at the original Heller space.  "Bad Jews" was a sharp, funny and irreverent show with an excellent script, every director's dream.  The cast was a dream, too, and we had some wonderful talk backs each night with our audiences.  "Bad Jews"...great times!!

The Vaudeville Museum

Another Word About Machele Miller Dill...

What I've always loved about my professional relationship with Machele is that we have worked with each other in just about every capacity imaginable.  Machele has her own company, Echo Theatre, that does great work here in Tulsa.  Once or twice a year, Machele creates a show and I have been a proud cast member more often than not.  One of my favorites was The Vaudeville Museum.  I played the one and only Sophie Tucker.  Not the biggest stretch, but such fun!!

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Of Things I Should Be Thankful For...

Another year, another SummerStage festival, another three shows to put up.  Every year that I participated in SummerStage, until it ended in 2018, the festival got shorter while the number of shows remained the same.  Doing three shows in one month was a challenge, but these shows were all a joy.  A last minute family emergency took sweet, baddass Jennifer Paxton out of the lineup on show week and our trio became a duo.  Machele and I, along with Jim Gregory at the keys, had the best time!!

50th Birthday

The Becka Trifecta...

For my 50th birthday, I threw three fundraisers in three days.  Thursday night, I gave a concert at the historic Harwelden mansion, featuring all Oklahoma music, benefiting the Red Dirt Relief Fund.  The next night was Drag Queen Bingo (O-69...WOOT!) for Oklahomans for Equality and Saturday we did a screening of 'Little Shop of Horrors,' the musical of course, for the Circle Cinema Foundation.  It was a ton of fun and my Jo was by my side for all of it.  Such blessings!!!

 

 

Abuela's Tales

Abuela's Tales and Adios...

Abuela's Tales, written with Machele, was a perfect way to end my two year stint with Spotlight Children's Theater.  This charming tale of strength, family and love features singing animals and the thwarting of bullies.  Who could ask for anything more?

 

 

 

Oklahoma In Concert

People Will Say We're Awake...

2018 seemed a very good time to produce an all Black cast in Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'Oklahoma!' at the Gilcrease Museum of Art.  Machele Miller Dill returned to deftly direct an outstanding ensemble.  As the producing team, I was proud to partner with the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities.  Partnering with passionate, do gooding organizations is so gratifying!  Go out and find some folks who believe in what you believe in and will back that up with time and resources.  It's a BLAST!