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Entries in Actor (156)

Friday
Feb172017

Call Answered: Conference Call: Steven "Blue's Clues" Burns & Steven "Flaming Lips" Drozd: Foreverywhere

Steven Drozd and Steven BurnsNot long ago, I had read an article about Steve Burns, the original host of the children's hit show Blue's Clues. I remember thinking to myself, gosh I would love to have the opportunity to interview him. Fast forward to now when I get an e-mail asking me if I'd like to interview not only Steve Burns, but Steven Drozd from The Flaming Lips as well. I grew up with both these entities, so needless to say I was doubly excited by this opportunity.

After collaborating on Steven Burns' album Songs for Dustmites, Steven Burns and Steven Drozd are teaming up for their new album Foreverywhere, part concept album, part legend, all play, fun and filled to the brim with immediate music that will be enjoyed by kids, parents, fans of The Flaming Lips and grownup fans of Blue’s Clues alike.

Foreverywhere will be available on February 24 with a release concert at Brooklyn Bowl on February 26 at 1pm! Click here for tickets! Click to purchase Foreverywhere on iTunes and Amazon!

For more on StevenSteven be sure to visit https://www.stevensteven.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

1. This February you are releasing your debut album Foreverywhere. How did you come to join forces?

Steven Burns: I met Captain Drozd when we collaborated on Songs For Dustmites, a record I made just after leaving Blue's Clues. He and I got along instantly and have been great friends ever since. I still fan-girl out every now and then because he truly has written most of my favorite music and I can't believe I get to work with him.

Steven Drozd: Burns and I met in 2001 and worked together on his LP Songs For Dustmites- we became fast friends and were always kind of involved in each other’s projects. In 2006 he was contacted by Jack’s Big Music Show to write a song about groundhogs, haha. He called me up and asked if I wanted to help. Of course I did! We had a blast with that experience and I think it just stayed in our minds that we could make that kind of music together and it kind of unfolded from there.

2. How long have you been working on the album? What made now the right time to release it?

Steven Burns: Drozd? You always know the timeline better than I do. It feels like 140 years. Basically, we had to do it in spare time - no small task as Steven lives in Oklahoma and I live in NYC. Drozd is raising kids and touring the world in a giant enormous rock band and I was busy out here so basically it took forever. I'd fly to Oklahoma when there was time and we'd hole up in Trent Bell's studio (Bell Labs) and just bang it out. It was so much fun.

Steven Drozd: Honestly, the LP has been finished since 2009 - It’s just been a long process for both of us, having the time to commit to its release and us giving it our full attention.

3. You are celebrating the album's premiere with a concert at Brooklyn Bowl on February 26. What are you looking forward to most about this concert?

Steven Burns: I’m excited to perform for kids again!

Steven Drozd: I do look forward to the challenge of performing for children - that is as potentially nerve wracking as playing Carnegie Hall; but, also I just look forward to playing music with Steve Burns. We naturally have fun together.

4. Though it's targeted for children, the album is described as music that will be enjoyed by kids, parents, fans of The Flaming Lips and grownup fans of Blue’s Clues alike, with the hopes of it having the life/longevity of "Puff The Magic Dragon." What do you think kids will enjoy about this album? What will adults like? How do you feel it could have the greatness of "Puff The Magic Dragon"?

Steven Burns: My hope is that the things kids enjoy about the album are the SAME things that adults enjoy about the album. I truly believe there's tons of overlap in what makes music great for kids and what makes music great for adults. There are sad moments on the record, hopeful moments, funny moments, face melting rock moments. I hope kids and parents enjoy them all equally. As for "Puff the Magic Dragon," I have no idea if we'd ever reach such great heights as that, but we did try to incorporate some strong story elements, especially in "The Unicorn And Princess Rainbow" which takes what almost feels like standard kid- themed cliches and tries to re-cast them in a more Ziggy Stardust sort of light.

Steven Drozd: There are some classic songs like "Puff The Magic Dragon" to aspire to. I think we’ve done a pretty good job on some of them! I have two kids, now ages 11 and 9, so we were able to try them out on a target audience. My own kids regard Foreverywhere in the same way they regard the Peanuts Christmas LP; it’s just music they love and grew up with. I think some adults will hear things from their own childhood, which is what I was hoping to do with a lot of the music, sounds and melodies. "OK, Toilet Bowl" reminds me of an orange juice commercial from the 1970’s, "Space Rock Rock" reminds me of an Electric Company segment, "The Unicorn and Princess Rainbow" reminds me of so many things from my childhood….So, we are hoping that the adults will make that connection that we tried to create, if that makes sense.

5. The album's first song "Unicorn and Princess Rainbow," is described as a three song narrative detailing the story of a unicorn who falls in love with a Rainbow Princess with incredible guitar chops, joins her band, and then loses her to cosmic forces beyond his control. What is something each of you have lost to "cosmic forces beyond your control"?

Steven Burns: My hair. I lost my hair to cosmic forces beyond my control. We all experience loss in our lives. Loved ones, failed hopes, etc. Children experience those feelings too.

Steven Drozd: Well, loss of loved ones, moving away from friends…those are the things I think of.

6. There's another great line in "Unicorn and Princess Rainbow" that goes "He just read the news and he doesn't know what to feel." Was that line written as a political statement to the world we are living in? If not, let's go there for a moment. Since the album is marketed towards kids, how do you feel it's best to explain these troubling times to children? 

Steven Burns: That particular lyric wasn't written with a political statement in mind, but I certainly don't mind if it's read that way. I think the most politically relevant song on the record is "A Fact Is A Gift That You Give Your Brain". We are seeing a perplexing erosion of Fact, and it would make me very proud indeed if we could get kids excited about...verity.

Steven Drozd: This is an example of the genius of Steven Michael Burns! Seriously, he knows how to communicate emotions and potentially complex concerns to children to make them feel okay with not being sure about something. In truth, the song was written and recorded in 2008, so it was a different time. But I agree with the analysis of the political statement.

7. Another song on the album that I think is great for children (and adults) to hear is "The Lonely Unicorn Is Never Giving Up." The song is all about "The Unicorn" who lost his love, but some how finds a ways to carry on, while holding on to the good memories. So many of us feel lonely at times and and wonder how to keep going. How do you keep moving forward during troubled times?

Steven Burns: Well...it's a struggle, isn't it? It's sort of THE struggle. I have lots of things I do when I'm down and feel like quitting but music is huge part of what keeps me moving forward! That and family. Friends. Gene Wilder films.

Steven Drozd: That is the question, yes? You have to find something in yourself to keep moving forward. There’s no way around it. Maybe it’s a combination of looking forward to the future while focusing on positive things from the past. I think most of us do that anyway, even when the current times are great; we don’t live in the moment, we think of the past and the future. Maybe that is what makes getting through tough times more tolerable??

Steven Burns and Steven Drozd8. One other song I love is "I Won't Let You Change Who I Am," a terrific song about being proud of you who are despite what other people think. When has there been a time in your life when someone tried to change you, but you stood your ground?

Steven Burns: As I child I was bullied. This song is about my experience being bullied on the school bus in first grade. I did stand my ground, eventually. My bully and I actually became friends.

Steven Drozd: I could say I was bullied at a certain age, and I always tried to deflect it with humor - but I was lucky enough to be encouraged to do what I wanted to do and be who I wanted to be from a pretty early age. I know that is not the case for everyone, unfortunately.

9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day?

Steven Burns: Wait, so if I did this for a year, I'd be 365% better than I am at the end! Or do you stop at 100%? I'd like to become 1% more compassionate every day. I actually do try to do that, in my way. That's a great practice you have there!

Steven Drozd: This sounds potentially hokey, but yoga changed my life. It really did. And when I stick with it and try to expand on it, it always rewards me. So, that is something I could say. My other thought is this: everyday I make at least one note of a thought into my notes on my cell phone. Whether it’s a fleeting thought, or a fake band name, or song title, or just an absurd joke, I try to have an original thought every day. I’ve got some doozies in my notes!

Steven Burns on "Blue's Clues"10. For Steven Burns: I can't do an interview with you and not ask about Blue's Clues. You were the host of the hit children's show from 1996 to 2002. What is something about your time on the show you have not talked about in a previous interview? Let's just play with the show's title for a moment. If you had to give a list of 5 clues to things that you love that are blue, what would those clue's be?

Okay. One thing most people don't know is that I didn't draw the clues. That's someone else's hand you see. There's no way I could draw that well.

Five blue things I love? That's hard! Do you have five blue things you love? I'll try:

  •  This thing contains the troposphere, mesosphere and thermosphere and is not ALWAYS blue it is mostly blue.
  • This thing is from 1969 and it's completely adorable and it sits in my garage and there's no way you could know the answer, so I'll just tell you, it's my blue 69 VW fastback.
  • This Off-Broadway show has been around forever and stars three aliens who play tubes like instruments.
  • This character is sometimes near, sometimes far. He's been a waiter and has a super hero alter ego. He was my main influence when creating the character for "Steve" on Blue's Clues.
  • This my favorite of Gershwin's music and is strongly associated with the city I live in.

Steven Drozd, Photo Credit: EJ DeCoske11. For Steven Drozd: You have been in The Flaming Lips since 1991. What are some of the funniest moments to happen to you during either a recording session or on stage with The Flaming Lips? What question have you not been asked in an interview that you wish you had been (please provide the answer to that said question as well)?

Well, that is a tough question as there are so many stories over the years. I’ll give you one of my favorites that sounds like something from a movie: The Flaming Lips were in Milan, Italy in 1995, opening for The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The audience was interested in ONLY seeing The Chili Peppers. I was playing drums live back then. The audience disliked us so much that they were throwing stuff at us. My floor tom got hit with a tomato and my cymbal got pelted with a slice of pizza. True story!

I always wonder why no one ever asks if I like bananas. I love them!

Steven Burns and Steven DrozdMore on StevenSteven:

StevenSteven is Steve Burns, former host of beloved children's televsion show Blue's Clues, and Steven Drozd, grammy award winning musical mastermind behind The Flaming Lips. They began writing music together in the early aughts when Burns was recording his first solo effort Songs for Dustmites in the upstate NY studio owned by The Flaming Lips’ producer -- where Drozd was staying. Drozd was impressed with what he heard and the two began their first collaboration within thirty minutes of meeting. The duo wrote "I Hog The Ground" for a Groundhog’s Day episode of Nickelodeon’s Jack’s Big Music Show.

Friday
Feb102017

Call Answered: Lewis Cleale: Book of Mormon + 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists: Let's Misbehave: The Sensational Songs of Cole Porter

Lewis ClealeI love the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists series. They always have the best artists perform! In this next installment, I got to interview Book of Mormon's Lewis Cleale who is returning to the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists series in Let's Misbehave: The Sensational Songs of Cole Porter, which will be taking place Saturday, 2/11 at 8pm, Sunday, 2/12 at 2pm & 7pm, and Monday, 2/13 at 2pm & 7:30pm at the 92Y (1395 Lexington Avenue, 92nd Street & Lexington Ave). Click here for tickets!

"Night and Day," "I’ve Got You Under My Skin," "You’re the Top": Behind Cole Porter’s famous wit and sophistication lay an artistic genius’s mastery of the American popular song. How did this wealthy scion from Peru, Indiana thwart familial legal-career expectations to join Berlin, Loesser, and Sondheim on the very short list of iconic composer-lyricists? Artistic director David Loud leads a stellar Broadway cast — Allison Blackwell, Lewis Cleale, Nikki Renee Daniels, Rebecca Luker and Matthew Scott — through Porter’s most exquisite creations, including songs from such smash-hit shows as Anything Goes and Kiss Me, Kate.

For more on Lewis be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on 92Y visit http://www.92y.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. This February you are performing in 92Y's Lyrics & Lyricists concert featuring the music of Cole Porter. What made you want to be part of this month's show? What are you looking forward to about performing with Allison Blackwell, Nikki Renee Daniels, Rebecca Luker and Matthew Scott? I have been performing in the Lyrics and Lyricists series since 1994. My first appearance was with Nancy Lamott and Kitty Carlisle and KT Sullivan and it actually led to my getting cast in my first Broadway show, because our musical director for that program was the famous Peter Howard. Peter is a Broadway Legend who did the dance arrangements for not only Swinging on a Star, which was my first show on Broadway but for Cabaret, Crazy for You, Chicago and on and on and on. I've known many of the cast members in our current show for a long time and they’re some of my favorite singers around. Nikki Renee Daniels and I have been doing the Book of Mormon together for a while now. And finally the host, narrator, arranger and man-about-town David Loud is singularly one of the most talented people in our business. His arrangements are spectacular and always a great joy to sing.

2. What do you think 92Y audiences will love about this installment of Lyrics & Lyricists? What will surprise them? David Loud, in addition to entertaining the audience with the beautiful music, also will give a great deal of insight into the construction of the music from a musical and lyrical standpoint. Many of the songs everyone knows, but when you break them down and you look at the mechanics behind the songs as David will show you, it's quite fascinating.

Lewis Cleale performing at 92Y "Lyrics & Lyricists: Getting to Know You: Rodgers and Hammerstein", Phtoo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff3. As a current cast member of the Tony Award winning Book of Mormon what is it like to go from singing those lyrics to performing the music of Cole Porter? I'd say what the writers of Book of Mormon and Cole Porter have in common is a great and devious wit. I personally am fairly devious so it's not a great switch to go from the lyrics of Book of Mormon to Cole Porter.

4. How has Cole Porter influenced you? What was it about his music that you relate to? I wouldn't say I've been influenced by Cole Porter but his music has been a constant through-line in my musical career. I first sang some of the very songs I'm singing now on the stage in college. When you're that young you're singing about things that you don't understand. Now I comprehend a great deal more because of life experience. I would say now as an adult I can relate to the longing for love, loss, lust, wit, sarcasm, honesty, and sheer unbridled joy in some of his lyrics. They are very much alive and relatable even in our modern world.

5. Of the songs you are performing, did you jump up & down with excitement over one of them? If so, which one? I have been singing all of the choruses to "It's De-Lovely" for many years now and it's one of my favorite songs to sing. In fact, I've booked many shows on Broadway and Off-Broadway using the song. So I know it inside and out and it's very joyful to do and it's a very upbeat song and it tells a great story and it ends on a big high note so it's fun to do.

Lewis ClealeMore on Lewis:

Broadway: Sondheim on SondheimSpamalotAmourOnce Upon a MattressSwinging on a Star (Drama Desk nom). Off-Broadway: The FantasticksA New BrainTime and AgainCall Me Madam (Encores!). Tours: Sunset BoulevardSouth PacificMamma Mia! Regional: more than 30 leading roles including Giant (Signature), Passion (Helen Hayes Award), 1776 (Ford’s Theatre, Helen Hayes nom.). Recordings: Infinite Joy: The Songs of William FinnEncores From Encores!Myths and HymnsGreat MusicalsCall Me MadamAmourOnce Upon a MattressSwinging on a Star. Film: Frozen.

Thursday
Feb092017

Call Answered: Conference Call: The "Georgie" interviews: Ed Dixon, Eric Schaeffer & Kathie Lee Gifford

Ed Dixon has been on my radar for quite some time. I've been lucky enough to see him on Broadway in the original Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, and the 2011 revival of Anything Goes. But it was the enthusiasm of my friend Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf over his autobiography Secrets of a Life Onstage...and Off that really got me interested in Ed. I immediately purchased his book and could not put it down. Needless to say, I was over the moon when my call got answered to interview Ed about his new one-man tour de force show Georgie, about his friendship with actor George Rose. Ed's performance in Georgie is one of the most powerful I have seen in a long time! It's gripping from start to finish!

The best part about this interview was I got to conduct it at the opening night party for Georgie which afforded me the opportunity to not only interview Ed, but also Georgie's director Eric Schaeffer, and one of my long-time idols, Kathie Lee Gifford, whose work with both Ed and Eric as parlayed into a life-long friendship.

Ed Dixon's Georgie plays at The Loft at The Davenport Theatre through April 15 (354 West 45th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Ed be sure to visit http://www.eddixon.biz and folllow him on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on Georgie visit http://georgietheplay.com and follow the show on Instagram!

Ed Dixon in "Georgie", Photo Credit: Carol RoseggEd Dixon (Actor/Playwright):

1. What do you miss most about George? He was my connection to an entire world of show business: the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Ralph Richardson, Dame Edith Evans and superstardom in the theatre. And in an instant, he was gone. We would go see openings together, the opera and for months after he died, I would go to the phone to call him because when someone disappears instantly like that with no warning, they just don’t leave you. Obviously no matter what you find out about them, if you love someone for 20 years that doesn’t leave you either. 

2. When you were performing at North Shore Music, you said that was the first time you actually felt as though George was your friend. What was that moment like? Let me tell you, George was not an easy person to get along with. When you see his interviews on line, there’s a great formality to him. He was born the same year as my father, in 1919. That’s a whole different level of gay. A whole different era of gay. Even in 1970, you weren’t allowed to be gay. Casting directors wouldn’t hire you, but he didn’t care. But there was a part of him that did because when you see the interviews, all that joyousness I’m trying to show, that I got personally, wasn’t in any of the interviews. They are very business like, which I found very fascinating.

Ed Dixon in "Georgie", Photo Credit: Carol RoseggGeorge Rose and Ed Dixon, Photo Credit: Linda Lenzi3. In Georgie, there’s a big twist in the show which I don’t want to give away in the interview, but when you found out about it, did your heart just sink? Let me tell you, it takes a long time for a thing like that to sink in. There's a picture of me George took while we were in the Dominican Republic and I look happy. I see that picture now and I go, "My God. That’s amazing." He’s been gone for 30 years. I couldn’t have done this play before. I had my own problems to deal with.

4. Do you think the death of George was the first step towards your own downward spiral? It would be very disingenuous to say that. It’s a very complicated thing when someone loses control of their life. There were many pieces to it. In truth, I had been on a bad road for a while, but it certainly doesn’t help when a good friend is murdered violently and you find out a horrible secret about them.

5. How did you pick-up your life after George’s death as well as the death of two of your other friends at that time? Show business saved my life. I went into treatment while I was working in the original Broadway run of Les Miserables and they gave me my job back. I went back into the biggest hit on Broadway and if I hadn’t, I don’t think I’d be alive today.

Ed Dixon and Director Eric Schaeffer, Photo Credit: Joseph MarzulloEric Schaeffer (Director):

1. As the director of Georgie, what attracted you to the project? Well, Ed…hahaha. We are good friends and because it’s such a personal story for Ed I think he wanted somebody he could trust. When he asked me, he said, "I’m writing this play. It’s a one-man show. It’s really personal to me. Would you do it?" I said "Absolutely!" And I hadn’t even read the play yet, but I think Ed is such a huge talent, not only as an actor, but as a writer/storyteller, so I wanted to be part of that.

2. You worked with Ed on Kathie Lee Gifford’s Under The Bridge as well as Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Sunset Boulevard. You’ve seen him grow as an actor over the course of his career. How do you think, in this show particularly, he’s grown from working with him previously? I think the hardest thing for Ed was to play multiple characters and not just one role. Plus, it’s such a personal story that it’s a challenge to know where the line was to say this was just enough and now it’s time to move on. In a rehearsal room, you have to be able to trust the person you are working with to say, "I trust you to tell me when it’s too much and when it’s not." I think the range of emotions, that Ed goes through, is probably the biggest thing he’s ever done.

3. For people who don’t know George Rose, what could be one reason, in addition to Ed’s incredible performance, they should come see this show? Anyone who loves theatre will love this show because it’s a real history through the theatre and it’s all about what the theatre was and is not anymore. It’s so exciting to re-live those moments to someone who actually lived through them originally.

Me: And it has that twist, which I don’t want to give away in the interview, but it’s like you’re watching the show and then bam, where did that come from and it’s such an emotional point, it’s so great. You did a really good job with keeping that hidden and just letting it drop.

Eric Schaeffer: It goes back to the writing. As Ed says in the play, "It’s all about the text."

Kathie Lee Gifford and Ed Dixon, Photo Credit: Joseph MarzulloKathie Lee Gifford (The Today Show):

1. You are here tonight to see Ed Dixon’s Georgie about his friendship with actor George Rose. You had cast Ed in your show Under The Bridge. What do you love about Ed? How did you initially meet? Ed was doing a reading with me of another project that I had written called Saving Aimee, which ended up being Scandalous on Broadway, but at the time, I had also written Under The Bridge, and I took one look at Ed and I said, "You’re my 'Armand' and Ed laughed at me and said OK!" He didn't even know who "Armand" was at that time, but that's what actors learn you to do. You tell them they are a character and they are like, Ok, I'm that character." He was just brilliant to work with and we have remained friends all these years.

2. How does everything come full circle for you by seeing Ed Georgie? You know, any time you are on the road or in rehearsals with Ed, he always has a gazillion stories. I had heard a couple of the stories through the years of his friendship with George Rose, but I’d never known the story in its entirety of how impactful it was on Ed, on his whole psyche, his whole being. How do you process the devastation of finding out something so heinous about the person you admire the most? That is the real question. This show, Ed’s performance, is a tour de force! I’m trying to remember a more unbelievably powerful performance by a man on stage that I’ve seen in my recent memory and I can’t.

Eric Schaeffer was my first director when I made my Broadway debut in Sondheim’s Putting It Together. He also directed Under The Bridge at The Zipper Theatre and then he was my very first, very important director on Saving Aimee as well. And Mary Cossette, one of the producers of Georgie is the widow of one of my husband’s (Frank Gifford) dearest friends, Pierre Cossette. So this is like old home week for me. I’m almost shaking with joy seeing all these extraordinary talented people I’ve been blessed to work with and call friends in my life.

Me: They’ve been lucky to work with you.

Kaithe Lee Gifford: Oh, I don’t know, you’d have to ask them…hahaha. I was the one who was new to the Broadway world and they welcomed me and encouraged me. You never forget the kindess of people.

Ed DixonMore on Ed:

Ed Dixon is the author/composer/lyricist of Shylock (The York Theatre) which garnered him his first Drama Desk Nomination. He wrote Richard Cory with A. R. Gurney, on a Steinberg Grant from Playwrights Horizons. It was nominated for a Leon Rabin Award for Best New Work and won the NYMF Festival Award and the Audience Prize. Cloak and Dagger, his four-person musical recently opened at the Signature Theatre in DC, helmed by artistic director, Eric Schaeffer. Dixon’s Fanny Hill was presented by the York Theater where it won a Dramalogue Award, two Dean’s List Awards and was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards. Cather County which opened at Playwright’s Horizons won him a Leon Rabin Award at Lyric Stage in Dallas where it was also named best new theater work of 2000. Dixon’s grand farce, L’Hotel was given its premiere at Pittsburgh Public Theater last year by Producing Artistic Director, Ted Pappas. Ed’s comic thriller, Whodunit…The Musical has had countless productions all over the United States and he is the author of the highly successful book, Secrets of a Life Onstage…and Off.

As an actor, Ed made his Broadway debut in 1971 with No, No, Nanette starring Ruby Keeler and directed by Busby Berkeley. Six months later he was opening the Kennedy Center in Washington DC as a soloist in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, a role he reprised on the recording and at the Metropolitan Opera. Other Broadway credits include "Belasco" in King of Schnorrers, "Cardinal Richelieu" in The Three Musketeers, "Thenardier" in the original company of Les Miserables (a role he played more than 1700 times), "The Baker" in Cyrano: The Musical, "Ozzy" in The Scarlet Pimpernel, "General Wetjoen" in The Iceman Cometh (with Kevin Spacey), "Senator Carlin" in The Best Man (he also went on for Charles Durning as "President Hockstader"), "Mister" in Sunday in the Park with George, "Max" in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, "Admiral Boom" in Mary Poppins, and "the Captain" in Anything Goes. On tour he was "Mssr. De Rougement" in David Merrick’s Very Good Eddie, "Charlemagne" in Pippin with Ben Vereen, "Max" in Sunset Boulevard, "the Governor of Texas" in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Ann-Margret, "Albert Blossom" in Doctor Doolittle, "the Director" in Curtains, "Max" in The Sound of Music and "Doolittle" in My Fair Lady. Off-Broadway he teamed up with Leonard Bernstein again (as well as Comden and Green) for By Bernstein, played opposite Bebe Neuwirth in Here Lies Jenny, joined Len Cariou and Roberta Maxwell in The Persians, and starred in Oliver QuadeHotel BroadwayIdentity and Shylock, all of which he wrote. He has received a Helen Hayes Award, and been nominated for a Drama Desk, a Joseph Jefferson, an Irne, and a Henry.

Eric SchaefferMore on Eric:

Eric Schaeffer is the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.  Under his leadership, the Theatre was honored with the 2009 Tony Award® for Outstanding Regional Theater in America, as well as 90 Helen Hayes Awards over the years, with an additional 340 nominations for theater excellence in Washington, DC.

At Signature, he has directed numerous productions that include Elmer GantryCloak and DaggerBeachesCrossingMiss SaigonSpinHello, Dolly! (Ford‘s Theatre co-production); The Best Little Whorehouse in TexasBrother RussiaHairspraySunset BoulevardChessShow BoatFirst You Dream: The Music of Kander & EbbThe HollowLes MisérablesACEKiss of the Spider WomanGlory Days; The Witches of EastwickSaving AimeeInto the WoodsMy Fair LadyNevermoreThe Highest YellowOne Red FlowerAllegroTwentieth Century110 in the ShadeHedwig and the Angry InchThe Gospel According to FishmanGrand HotelThe Rhythm ClubOver & OverThe FixWorkingThe RinkCabaretFirst Lady SuiteWingsPoor SupermanUnidentified Human Remains and The True Nature of Love; and the Sondheim musicals Merrily We Roll AlongSunday in the Park with George (Arena Stage co-production), PassionInto the WoodsCompanyAssassinsSweeney ToddFollies and Pacific Overtures, among others.

On Broadway, Eric directed Gigi, the critically acclaimed revival of Follies, as well as the Tony Award®-winning Million Dollar QuartetGlory Days and Putting It Together. His national tours include Million Dollar Quartet and Big. Off-Broadway, he has directed Sweet Adeline (City Center Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert) and Under the Bridge. His West End credits include Million Dollar Quartet and The Witches of Eastwick.

Kathie Lee GiffordMore on Kathie Lee:

Kathie Lee Gifford has enjoyed a diverse and successful four-decade career as a television host, actress, singer, playwright, songwriter and author. Though best known for her 15 years on Regis and Kathie Lee (11 Emmy nominations), and currently acting as the three time Emmy-winning co-host of the fourth hour of the Today Show with Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee has always pursued projects which inspire and challenge her.

In 2013, Kathie Lee launched her podcast, Kathie Lee & Company, with Podcast One. Each week, Kathie Lee is joined by a friend from the world of TV, film, music, sports and news for a special one-on-one conversation.

Kathie Lee made her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim's Putting it Together in 2000, then originated the role of "Marta Dunhill" in Rupert Holmes' Thumbs and played "Miss Hannigan" in a record-breaking run of Annie at Madison Square Garden. In 2005 her first musical Under The Bridge (book and lyrics, contributing composer) opened off Broadway. In November of 2012, her musical, Scandalous (book/lyrics) opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theater and received a Tony nomination.

She is the NY Times best-selling author of many books including, Just When I Thought I’d Dropped My Last Egg-Life and Other Calamities, Party Animals, and The Legend of Messy M’Cheany. Her ninth book, The Three Gifts, was released in November 2012 with proceeds going to Childhelp. She currently writes a weekly article for the NY Daily News with Hoda Kotb.

Kathie Lee devotes much of her time to the Association to Benefit Children, which spawned the Cody Foundation. The resources from the Association continue to support Cody House and Cassidy’s Place. Cody House provides a transitional home for infants and children who have severe disabilities and serious medical problems. Named for Kathie Lee's daughter, Cassidy’s Place, is the home of the Association to Benefit Children’s (ABC) national children advocacy.

Saturday
Feb042017

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with Michael Cerveris: Fun Home, Sheen Center, Piety

Michael Cerveris"Call Me Adam" chats with two-time Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris about his Tony Award winning turn in Broadway's Tony Award winning musical Fun Home, his latest recording Piety + his upcoming concert on March 16 at NYC's Sheen Center as part of their Convergences – Indie Artist Series, featuring New York artists who split their time between music and theatre. Showtime is 7:30pm. Click here for tickets!

In this video interview, Michael gives some great insight into the audiences who visited him on Maple Avenue during the run of Fun Home and some behind-the-scenes stories about a few of the songs off his latest album Piety. We also discuss why some musical theatre artists have a tough time crossing over into mainstream recording artists.

For more on Michael be sure to visit http://www.cerverismusic.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, and iTunes!

"Call Me Adam" interview with Michael Cerveris:

Tuesday
Jan312017

Call Answered: Peter Michael Marino: "Show Up" at The PIT Loft

Peter Michael Marino, Photo Credit: Alicia LevyI have known about Peter Michael Marino for some time now. First when his show Desperately Seeking Susan debuted in London and with his production company's presentation of David Carl's Celebrity One-Man Hamlet, but it was really with his direction of Amy Marcs' Nice T!ts that I got to know Peter.

I was thrilled when Peter let me know about his newest project Show Up where Peter uses his decades of solo performance expertise to turn the often vilified tropes of the genre on their head. Peter exploits an arsenal of Post-it® notes to compile and transform the challenging and enlightening real-life experiences of the audience into a single vibrant life-story that is familiar, completely fresh, and unique each time. Chance elements are increased as audience members are engaged to cue lights, design the set, and direct. Show Up provides a wild, unpredictable ride for the audience as Peter navigates this high wire, simultaneously commenting on social anxiety and performance challenges. Ultimately, Show Up demonstrates that the value of truth in autobiographical performance is totally subjective.

Show Up will play the PIT Loft (154 West 29th Street) Thursdays, 2/2, 2/9, 2/16, 2/23 at 8pm and Saturday 2/12 at 5pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Peter be sure to visit http://www.petermmarino.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Peter Michael Marino, Photo Credit: Alicia Levy1. Your new show Show Up, just started performances at The PIT Loft. Show Up celebrates and spoofs the genre of solo shows. The show itself is created on the spot. Audience members are engaged to cue lights, design the set, and direct. What made you want to create this kind of show as opposed to a scripted solo production? Honestly, I just got tired of writing and memorizing shows! My last show, Late with Lance! was partially scripted and partially interviews with audience members. I find myself getting more attracted to involving the audience in my work to enhance the shared experience. There are parts of the show that are scripted (I even carry the script around with me during the majority of the show), but I really wanted to see what could happen if I just showed up to the theater. Somewhere in the development process with my director Michole Biancosino, the narrative of the setup became about social anxiety, aging and depression. Yet, somehow it’s still a comedy and still a solo show about the audience. The process is always a surprise.

2. What aspects of the solo show genre do you love and what parts could you do without? I love the rawness of solo shows. I love the creativity used in the telling of the story. I like that they are short! And I love any solo show that seems to be about one person, but is actually about all of us. I could do without the therapy part. I mean, many solo shows come from a place of pain or change; mine certainly have. But I think it’s always best if the therapy is in the writing process and not in the performance. Solo show creators often need some distance from the experience. The best solo shows are the ones that work for every audience and not just friends and family. It takes doing the show in far away places to really see what is universal.

Peter Michael Marino, Photo Credit: Mike Chiodo3. What do you like about performing by yourself as opposed to being part of a larger cast? I was recently in a show with a cast of nine. It was so different to share the rehearsals and stage with others! I felt a little rusty and a bit like the trouble-maker because I was so used to marching to my own drum. I broke character way too often in rehearsals. But, of course I became a team player and I really enjoyed it. What else? I mean, when you’re part of a cast, you don’t make your own schedule. You’re responsible for the whole machine and not just your part in the machine. I guess I really just enjoy creating my own work that I feel comfortable doing and that I think will effect others…whether it’s to make the audience laugh, think, feel, or see the world from another lens. I also like to tour and do festivals - and the easiest way for me to accomplish that is to create my own solo shows. The sets and props have gotten smaller over the years, that’s for sure.

4. How do you think audiences will respond to the duties they are asked to perform? It can be scary when the audience is expected to be part of a show. I get it. I always want to make the audience feel comfortable, respected and taken care of. I’ve even had to let people know beforehand (because they asked) that they will not be pressured to be a part of the show. The solo show that I am improvising is based on eight real-life experiences that I get from the audience, like a life changing moment, crazy family or love life story, or a realization. The first one is always the hardest to get and then after that, the hands fly up. People WANT to talk about their lives. They want to share. And as soon as they see how responsive others are to the first question, they can’t wait to add to the mix. I literally cannot do the show without the audience.

Yeah, I was nervous about a creating a show that would be advertised as a solo show with audience interaction. That could be the kiss of death. Especially in the marketing. But the show has proven otherwise and folks have come back numerous times because at least half of the show is completely different every time. I even have an opening/closing night party on stage every night and the audience all shows up for it with very little prodding. The imaginary champagne helps, I suppose.

Peter Michael Marino, Photo Credit: Mike Chiodo5. What are looking forward to about interacting with the audience in this manner and what makes you nervous? These days, my nervousness makes me excited. I like not knowing what each show will be about. I like not knowing what suggestions I will get. I like knowing each show will have new challenges, stories, twists and characters. So, I truly look forward to doing the show every time…which is kind of how it should be!

6. Show Up makes commentary on social anxiety and performance challenges. You have been a performer for years. Did you always have social anxiety/performance challenges or did that come about after you started performing? How did you get over it enough to go on stage? I never really had social anxiety or performance anxiety. It all started to creep up on me in 2007 after my first big flop, which was a West End show that I wrote and conceived called Desperately Seeking Susan. The failure of that show was so huge. It totally opened the floodgates of depression and social anxiety. I’ve always felt uncomfortable right after my shows. Torn between "talk to me" and "don’t talk to me." It’s complicated!

Show Up has taught me that I’m one of many performers with social anxiety. Especially in the comedy world. And I hope that the message in the show lets others know they’re not alone, and that it enlightens those who don’t know what social anxiety is, so they can better understand it.

Peter Michael Marino, Photo Credit: Alicia Levy7. Have you thought about what other solo performers will think about this style of show you are executing? I have. I suppose they may see some of the tropes that I’m turning on their heads are tropes that could be overused in solo shows. Maybe we need new tropes? It’s such a different kind of solo show in that it IS a solo show about my issues, but it’s also about issues that we all have. And those issues are brought to life with improvisation and interviews. But for me, it’s more important to think about how the average guy or gal reacts to the show, since that’s who I hope the majority of my audience will be down the line. I can’t wait to take it to Orlando Fringe and Edinburgh Fringe so I can see how it works with total strangers.

8. If you could have anyone Show Up to this show, what celebrities would be included on your list? Oh, dear. At this point, I just want people to show up! They don’t have to be a celebrity, but they might feel like one after I bring their interesting job story or childhood story to life. If I had to pick celebrities…I can’t! I don’t want to offend any celebrities that I leave off the list. I guess it would be cool if Hillary Clinton came to the show. Does that count as a celebrity? I bet she has some juicy life experiences to share.

9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? To be more empathetic. Period.

Peter Michael Marino, Photo Credit: Alicia LevyMore on Peter:

Peter Michael Marino is the creator/co-producer of SOLOCOM, which has launched over 400 world-premiere comedies at The People’s Improv Theater. His internationally acclaimed solo comedy Desperately Seeking the Exit chronicled the unmaking of his West End musical flop Desperately Seeking Susan - receiving 5-star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe and Adelaide Fringe, and a London transfer. His 2015 solo chat show spoof Late with Lance! played everywhere from NYC to London. Directing credits include: Amy Marcs’ Nice T*ts, Mark Demayo’s 20 & Out, and Mark Giordano’s Mad Man. His production company credits include David Carl’s Celebrity One-Man HamletDavid Mills: Shame!Charles’ Moby Alpha, and Joe’s NYC Bar.