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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS : Celebrating a Musical Legacy : Wellington’s plans a 100th birthday tribute to the late songwriter Jimmy McHugh. Cabaret singers will perform the ever-popular tunes.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

While not as well-known as some of his more famous contemporaries such as George Gershwin or Irving Berlin, the songs of Jimmy McHugh remain an integral part of the American musical landscape.

McHugh, who died in 1969 at the age of 74, was the composer of many hits of the pre-rock era, such as “I’m in the Mood for Love,” “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love,” “Don’t Blame Me,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “I Couldn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night.” McHugh’s songs have been performed by artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to Bob Dylan and Carmen Miranda to Cab Calloway.

McHugh, who started his career writing for Harlem’s Cotton Club revues, later moved to Hollywood, where he wrote songs for more than 50 films. McHugh’s collaborators included Dorothy Fields, Harold Adamson, Frank Loesser and Johnny Mercer.

Wellington’s Restaurant and Cabaret will host a 100th birthday anniversary tribute to songwriter McHugh at 7:30 p.m. June 26 at the North Hollywood eatery.

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Wellington’s resident pianist and music director Holly Addy first conceived the show after a serendipitous meeting with Lucille Meyers, McHugh’s former secretary, and Gretchen Adamson, widow of McHugh’s collaborator, lyricist Adamson.

“It’s something I literally fell into,” Addy said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me as a singer/pianist.” The show will feature Addy and several other cabaret singers performing more than 25 of McHugh’s compositions.

Although she has been an accompanist all her professional life, Addy’s singing is relatively new. She started at Wellington’s about five years ago as a dinner pianist, and only at the urging of the restaurant’s owner John Moses did Addy start singing about two years ago.

“Nobody’s thrown anything at me yet,” Addy said. “It’s turned out to be extremely satisfying.”

Tickets to the Jimmy McHugh tribute are $21 and include dinner, tax and tip. Wellington’s, 4354 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Call (818) 980-1430.

A PLAY TENT: The Northridge earthquake hit at possibly the worst time for Actors Alley theater company. The company had spent months readying a new venue, El Portal Theater, and on the eve of its first production at the new facility, the temblor struck, severely damaging the theater on Lankershim Boulevard. A search for a temporary venue ensued, and two productions were staged at Valley College.

Now, the company’s summer/fall season will be presented in a 99-seat tent on the grounds of the Television Academy across the street from El Portal. The tent was made possible by support from the Community Redevelopment Agency and a grant from the Irvine Foundation.

“It’s ultimately appropriate that we’re across the street from the El Portal,” Robert Caine, Actors Alley managing director, said philosophically. “Never say die. We’re coming back.”

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Caine estimates El Portal theater will not reopen until at least next June. The company is trying to secure support from FEMA and the SBA. The quake also is forcing company officials to go through a second round of building permits and other bureaucratic red tape in the rebuilding process.

“We’re trying to get from a liability to an asset,” Caine said. “You make do with what you have.”

The season, alternately titled “A Summer of Contentment” or “The 6.8 Encore,” is comprised of three pieces that are all upbeat and light, Caine said. It begins July 13 with previews of “Light Sensitive,” a dramatic comedy about a blinded former New York City cabbie who rediscovers love, which will run through Aug. 21.

Alan Ayckbourn’s “Round and Round the Garden” will preview Aug. 31 and run through Sept. 25. This comedy, part of a trilogy, “The Norman Conquests,” is about three women and a man who confuse innocent intentions with honorable ones. The season concludes with a musical, “A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine,” opening Oct. 12 and running through Nov. 20. Additionally, Actors Alley will hold three AIDS benefits, one scheduled for the first Friday performance of each production.

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Season subscriptions and individual tickets are on sale. Regular single tickets are $18, with discounts available for seniors, students, teachers and acting union members. Call (818) 508-4200.

THE MUSIC DOCTORS: These days, when many Angelenos find their lives to be one blurred freeway ride after another, how do people find the time to rehearse and perform with a symphony orchestra and continue a medical career? Members of the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra do just that.

“How can we not find the time?” asked Dr. Ivan Shulman, the orchestra’s music director. “Music is important. The arts are essential to our spiritual and emotional well-being. Music is a respite from our troubled times.”

The orchestra, founded in 1953, claims to be the oldest of its kind in the United States still presenting regular concerts. The orchestra plays between four and six concerts annually, usually for charitable organizations. Its name notwithstanding, the 75-piece ensemble consists of physicians, dentists, nurses and other medical personnel. It is financially self-supporting and has no outside sponsorship.

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The group will perform Tuesday at the Stephen S. Wise Temple. Guido Lamell is the guest conductor and the featured soloist is Chinese violinist Yun Tang. The program will include the “Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73" by Brahms, “Les Preludes” by Liszt, and “Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor” by Bruch.

The Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra concert begins at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Stephen S. Wise Temple, 15500 Stephen Wise Drive. Admission is free. Call (310) 476-8561.


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