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Entries in Actor (125)

Tuesday
Apr192016

Call Answered: Lukas Raphael: TRYST Movie

Lukas RaphaelI love independent films because I get to see who's on the up and up. When Lukas Raphael's movie TRYST came to my attention, I couldn't wait to watch this film about dating in today's society. Gone are the days of going out to meet people. Today it's meeting from the comfort of your own home via the numerous dating apps available. No matter what your sexual orientation, this film is for you!

Lukas and I had so much fun discussing TRYST, the filmmaking process, dating, and dancing. 

TRYST is going to be in the Manhattan Film Festival on Thursday, April 21 at 7pm at Cinema Village (22 East 12th Street). Click here for tickets!

For more on TRYST visit: http://www.trystmovie.com and follow the film on Twitter @TrystMovie!

For more on Lukas be sure to visit http://www.lukasraphael.com and follow him on Twitter @lraphaelactor!

Call Me Adam interview with Lukas Raphael:

Thursday
Feb112016

Call Answered: Conference Call with Marina Tempelsman and Nicco Aeed

Marina Tempelsman and Nicco AeedThere is something great about creating your own work. When it was brought to my attention that Marina Tempelsman and Nicco Aeed were doing a six-month residency at The People's Improv Theater (The PIT) creating a different play each month, I knew I had to call them to find out more. Well, luckily, Marina and Nicco answered my call and filled me in on this great project!

This month's show, Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told in the Dark, takes place in the dark, with the audience lighting the stage with flashlights. With Marina and Nicco's unique brand of humor, Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark, focuses on the common fears of being in the dark and commitment with a newlywed couple moving into a new home together, but the novelty of homeownership quickly fades as they face a sea of boxes, a major blackout, and, shortly thereafter, the ghosts of all their past relationships.

Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told in the Dark plays at The PIT (123 East 24th Street, between Park and Lexington) from February 21-26! Click the date of the show to purchase tickets: February 21 at 7pm, February 25 at 9:30pm, and February 26 at 9:30pm!

For more on Marina and Nicco be sure to visit http://www.marinaandnicco.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Funny or Die!

For more on The People's Improv (The PIT) visit https://thepit-nyc.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

Nicco Aeed and Marina Tempelsman1. You are in the midst of your 6-month residency with The People's Improv Theater (The PIT) where you develop a new play every month. How did this residency come to be? 

Marina Tempelsman: Over the summer, Nicco and I did a two-week run of our eight-episode murder-mystery comedy radioplay (MURDER!) at The PIT. We’ve written sketch together for ten years, so prioritizing a more narrative project felt really exciting to us. Once the run ended, we met with Kevin Laibson (the Artistic Director at The PIT) to talk about more ways we could explore longer narrative projects, and he offered us the opportunity to do monthly one-act plays in the form of a residency. The PIT has been increasingly supportive of longer narrative pieces (including Puffs, Hold Onto Yout Butts, and Kapow-I GoGo), so offering us a residency was very much in line with the direction they’ve been moving in.

2. Let's go back to the beginning for a moment. How did you two come to work together? What do you like most about this collaboration and what challenges do you face?

Marina Tempelsman: Nicco and I met our freshman year at Swarthmore College, where we were put on the college sketch comedy team (Boy Meets Tractor) together. We both grew up in New York, and over the breaks we would meet up and keep writing. I think that’s where our joint writing voice started to take shape.

It’s funny, because we’ve always clicked writing and comedy-wise and made each other laugh a ton, but our sensibilities are really very different. After ten years of writing together, our voices mesh extremely naturally, but I think the end result is special because we’re coming from such different places. Nicco’s a black man. I’m a white woman. The experiences we’ve had and that we bring to the table when we write together are all filtered through those identities. We are genuinely interested in and care about the other’s lived experience, and I really think it fuels the kinds of things we write about and want to explore.

Our partnership feels like such an essential part of me that it’s hard to really say what I like most about it -- it’s almost like trying to describe why I like having arms and a torso. I love having arms and a torso. They bring me enormous joy, and I can’t imagine not having them.

Nicco Aeed: We had an arranged comedy marriage. It is hard to actually remember the time when we started always working together, because we were always working together. It works pretty great.

Oh man, Marina and I are writing our answers to this on a shared google doc, and I just read Marina’s answer and my heart melted, my answer is good enough but I feel the same as Marina. We’re the same person. We once jointly played Condoleeza Rice.

3. This month, the focus of your show is a ghost story about a newlywed couple that moves into a new home together, but the novelty of homeownership quickly fades as they face a sea of boxes, a major blackout, and, shortly thereafter, the ghosts of all their past relationships. What made you want to tackle this kind of story?

Nicco Aeed: The guy in the couple would be quick to point out they are NOT in fact married, they just bought a house together. Which, for some reason, he sees as a less of a commitment. Don’t make things more awkward for him. Be cool.

I think actually the first thing we thought was it would be cool to do a play that was lit by the audience, that was in the dark. There’s something spooky about being in a theater during blackouts, and having the audience use flashlights to see what’s coming at them seemed like a great way to tell a story. The spookiness and flashlights led us to think of ghost stories. And I think the most real ghosts we deal with often come up when we’re in relationships. Not just that we’re often haunted by our exes, but also that after a certain point in your relationship you find yourself acting like your parents or playing out things you never thought you would, and it feels like you’re possessed or something came over you. Relationships that last a long time seem to always be riddled with past lives or visions of your future, and it all seemed like it fit with ghostliness.

4. I love the set up of this month's show. The theatre will be dark, while the audience provides the lighting through the use of flashlights. What's it like to have the audience such a part of the show? What challenges does this present?

Nicco Aeed: I think we often try to create whatever story we’re telling for the medium that we’re telling it in, meaning that if it’s a live show we really wanna be sure that it’s an experience that could only be told live. And I think having the audience actually in the dark for this ghost story makes the whole thing feel much more present, and feel hopefully like campfire stories.

Marina Tempelsman: So much of this play is also about the things we project onto the environment around us as we’re grappling with our own minds; so having it lit in ways that will vary completely from one night to another at the whim of our audience feels really right.

Marina Tempelsman and Nicco Aeed5. Since this show forces the audience to face two big fears, the dark and commitment, when was a time you were afraid of the dark? When were you afraid of commitment?

Marina Tempelsman:  I am afraid of the dark most of the time. When I was little I used to sleep backwards in my bed so I could keep an eye on the window of our 12th-floor apartment, JUST in case anything managed to crawl all the way up there. As for a fear of commitment: I don’t think I have ever been so afraid of that as I felt when trying to buy a new pair of glasses last month.

Nicco Aeed: Yeah as a kid I used to hate to go to sleep alone. I shared a room with my brother and if he went to sleep later than me because he had to do homework or something I’d freak out and just wait till he got to the room before I could sleep. I’d have these night terrors where I thought people were watching me from inside my room, and I was nervous that just as I got sleepy and started to close my eyes a hand would grab my ankle and drag me somewhere. I dunno if I fear commitment, more like maybe I’m excited by the idea of bailing on all of my commitments. Everytime I walk by a Chinatown Bus or Penn Station I think "I could leave right now, start a new life and no one would ever find me." That’s normal right?

6. What else do you fear? How do you overcome them?

Marina Tempelsman: I am so scared of flying. But with a little bit of Xanax and a whole lot of Captain Tom’s Fear of Flying program, I’m doing much better on that front! (He’s a pilot AND a therapist!)

Nicco Aeed: People say I’m scared of coins. I have never overcome it. I don’t wanna talk about it.

Marina Tempelsman: Not just "people." Everyone. Nicco, you are definitely scared of coins. Seriously, this sounds like a joke but it’s actually 100% true. Nicco will not eat on a table that has a coin on it, and if you try to hand him change at a restaurant or bodega he will look at you as though you just tried to stab him in the throat.

Nicco Aeed: I don’t wanna talk about it.

Marina Tempelsman and Nicco Aeed7. In this show, the couple has to face ghosts of their past relationships. If you could bring back anyone from a past relationship to give it another go, who would you bring back?

Marina Tempelsman:  My first crush was on "Leonardo" the Ninja Turtle, and I’d really love to know what he thinks of my work. So I’d probably choose him.

Nicco Aeed: I like Marina’s answer too much to come up with my own.

8. If you could have any ghost come watch this show, who would you choose to do so?

Marina Tempelsman: Such a cool question! I would probably pick Maurice Sendak. I feel like so much of his writing is about making worlds and landscapes out of the things we love and fear as children that never quite leave us as adults, and I do think this play picks up on a lot of those same themes. And then maybe we could get a drink with him after the show!

Nicco Aeed: Yeah that’d be awesome. I love watching Maurice Sendak Youtube clips on writing. I think someone asked him once why he wrote for children and he said something like "I’ve always wanted to know how to prevent being eaten or mauled by a monster. I still worry about it." And I think that’s a great reason to write.

Nicco Aeed and Marina Tempelsman, Photo Credit: Neil Holroyde9. What are some of the other topics you'll be writing about during this residency?

Marina Tempelsman: We have four more plays after this one, and we’re tackling quite a broad range of topics. Our next play is about a couple trying to find themselves after the boyfriend loses his part on a hit TV show. Our third play is about a night club where the comedians try to rebel against the mafia members that own the club. After that, we have a kind of surreal, existential-crisis comedy about six black actors who realize that they’ve been auditioning for the same token role over and over and over. So it’s a range of topics and tones that we’re taking, but all of them are extremely personal to us and hit really close to home -- even when they’re a little zany.

10. 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 everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent everyday?

Marina Tempelsman: Having the deadlines and requirements of this residency has been incredible, but it’s also reminded me of the importance of cozy-writing. Like where you just carve out a calm little time and space, and let yourself be playful in it and just enjoy it. I love, love, love the physical feeling of putting pen to paper, so I’m trying to get better about just sitting myself down and writing in a notebook before I get bogged down in planning or logistics.

Nicco Aeed: I like Marina’s answer. I’m gonna copy it:

Having the deadlines and requirements of this residency has been incredible, but it’s also reminded me of the importance of cozy-writing. Like where you just carve out a calm little time and space, and let yourself be playful in it and just enjoy it. I love, love, love the physical feeling of putting pen to paper, so I’m trying to get better about just sitting myself down and writing in a notebook before I get bogged down in planning or logistics.

Marina Tempelsman: Nicco is 100% great at copying and pasting -- no room for improvement there!

Nicco Aeed and Marina TempelsmanMore on Marina and Nicco:

Marina Tempelsman and Niccolo Aeed have written and performed together since 2006. As the duo "Marina & Nicco" they've been featured on Comedy Central and Funny or Die, and were recently finalists in the LA Film Festival Make Em LAFF competition. They perform regularly at major New York comedy theaters, having had runs at The PIT and The Treehouse Theater, as well as several shows at The UCB, and have appeared at many other venues across around the East Coast. They co-wrote the feature film Delusions of Guinevere, which was called "a surprisingly dark satire of modern celebrity" by The Village Voice and "sly and smart" by The New York Times. They have also written several pilots, a radio play series, and a number of one-act plays. They recently wrote for Morgan Spurlock's Call Bullshit series about the presidential debates, and are currently working on videos for The New Yorker. In 2016 they will begin a 6-month writing residency at The People's Improv Theater.

Prior to becoming a duo, they wrote and performed for the sketch comedy group Boy Meets Tractor (featured on MTVU and winners of Helium Comedy Club's college sketch competition) and The Disappointments (featured in the Philly Fringe Festival 2009, finalists in the Creek and the Cave's Arena Sketch Competition 2011).

Niccolo AeedNiccolo Aeed is a writer and director. Nicco has directed numerous plays across the city including, Abraham's Daughters, The ToyMaker, and W.R.E.X. He wrote and directed the short film How People Die and is currently developing the feature film Where Did You Go on Saturdays? He also writes and develops educational video games for Amplify Education which have been featured in The New York Times.

Marina TempelsmanMarina Tempelsman, a New York based writer and performer, has co-written several original pilots and a feature screenplay with Niccolo Aeed. In the summer of 2010 Marina was a Guest Artist at the Kennedy Center Summer Playwriting Intensive, where she studied with Theresa Rebeck, Marsha Norman, David Ives, Jason Robert Brown, Gary Garrison, and Heather McDonald, among others. She currently writes for the UCBT Maude team Lover, as well as the critically-acclaimed Livia Scott Sketch Program (also at The UCBT).

Thursday
Feb042016

Call Redialed: Seth Sikes Sings Liza Minnelli at Feinstein's/54 Below

Seth Sikes, Photo Credit: Mitch ZacharyLast April was the first time I got to interview Seth Sikes when he was making his triumphant return to Feinstein's/54 Below with his show Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland. Well, almost a year later, Seth answered my call again! This time, we are talking about his new show, Seth Sikes Sings Liza Minnelli which will be at Feinstein's/54 Below on Liza's actual 70th Birthday! I love Liza Minnelli. She is an icon. I was lucky enough to see her on Broadway in Liza at the Palace and let me tell you, she was phenomenal! It's a performance that continues to stay with me. So, it's quite exciting to get to interview Seth about this tribute show to one of the greatest living legends! 

Seth Sikes Sings Liza Minnelli will be at Feinstein's/54 Below on Saturday, March 12 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Seth, follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit http://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. On March 12, you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with a brand new show, Seth Sikes Sings Liza Minnelli, in celebration of Liza's 70th birthday. You have already performed several shows celebrating Judy Garland. When did you decide you wanted to create a show paying tribute to Liza? It seems like a natural progression, doesn’t it? Actually, I wasn’t intending to do another tribute to a female legend. After how the Judy concert was received, that idea seemed daunting. But when I realized that Liza’s 70th was approaching it just made sense. And like the first show, which was a love letter (because I love her), so will this one be, because, well, I also happen to really love Liza. Who doesn’t? She’s so great.

2. What was the moment in Liza's career, that made you fall in love with her? In my Judy show I talked about watching Summer Stock over and over on VHS as a kid. I did the same thing with Liza’s Radio City Music Hall concert while I was growing up in Texas. I’d never seen anything even remotely like that before: a live concert with a big band, and those songs and that kind of entertainer. And then, I remember the first thing I ever ordered online was somebody’s blurry copy of a copy of a VHS of Liza with a Z, which basically knocked me to the floor when I first watched it.

Seth Sikes performing at Feinstein's/54 Below3. How did you decide which songs you wanted to include in this show? We’re not done yet. It’s a process. And not a short one. I started by listing the obvious ones that I’ve been dying to sing since I was a kid. And then started listening to every Liza album I could find, and seeing what resonated. I always lean toward the live performances. There’s a vast catalogue there, and I don’t want the show to be a cliché CABARET medley, so I’ve found some more obscure songs I’m excited to try, and some 60’s pop songs, which is not a genre I gravitate toward. I like standards! Anyway, we’ll probably be adding and cutting songs right up to show-time.

4. What song do you wish you could have included, but had to leave on the cutting room floor? I’m not sure that singing "New York, New York" works for this show. It’s almost too-Liza in the same way that "Over the Rainbow" was too-Judy to sing in the previous show. Certain songs you don’t touch. "New York, New York" is fun to hear, but I hope people don’t expect it.

5. In putting this show together, what is something you found out about Liza that we might not know? That her vocal range is superhuman and nearly impossible to match! Seriously, on some of her songs, if you pick the key around a solid final note, good luck singing the first few bars. You’ll be grunting them out. It’s really a huge voice, and an enormous range. I’ve also learned that she made her career happen on her own, with very little help from her parents. She left home at fifteen to make it in NYC, and was determined to be a working actor—not a star. If she had just wanted to be a star she could have stayed in Hollywood and tried to make it in the movies first. But she didn’t. She went straight to the theater and had a Tony Award on her mantle just a few years later. She was relentless.

6. If Liza were to attend this show, on her 70th birthday, what would you give her as a birthday gift (besides this tribute show)? I wouldn’t want to bother her so I’ll give her the gift of privacy. She’s been famous since the day she was born so I can’t imagine she gets much of it.

Seth Sikes, Photo Credit: Mitch Zachary7. If you could do a Liza/Judy duet, which song would you want to sing? I think "Together Wherever We Go." It’s from my favorite musical, and sung by my two favorite ladies, and it’s sweet as hell.

8. One my favorite songs that Liza Minnelli sings is "Ring Them Bells." If you were to "Ring Them Bells," what would you be ringing them in celebration of? Hopefully that Liza finally receives the Kennedy Center Honor. Most people think she already has it only because it seems ludicrous to think they’ve never honored her. The award celebrates an individual’s contributions to the performing arts. Liza is the performing arts! At this point they should give her the award along with a note of apology for neglecting her for so long.

9. I also love "Say Liza (Liza with a Z)." What is something in your life that people constantly mispronounce? I can’t tell you now, but there’ll be a small homage paid to "Say Liza (Liza with a Z)" in the concert, and I’ll be revealing it then. But the fact that we’re doing that song should give you a hint!

10. My other favorite Liza song is "New York, New York."  If you were to "Start spreading the news..." what news would you tell people? That I’m doing a show on March 12th celebrating the music of Liza Minnelli, the world’s greatest living entertainer, and that everybody should come taste the wine, come hear the band, and celebrate her 70th birthday!

Seth Sikes, Photo Credit: Mitch ZacharyMore on Seth:

Seth Sikes’s directing credits include BUNKED! (Outstanding Musical at the New York Fringe Festival) and The 7th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant. He was the Assistant Director of The Nance (Broadway), Tribes (Off-Broadway), Pageant (Off-Broadway), and Sondheim: The Birthday Concert (at Lincoln Center). As a performer he appeared in Fame on 42ND Street (Off-Broadway). He made his Feinstein’s/54 Below debut with his acclaimed show Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland.

Sunday
Jan312016

Call Redialed: Telly Leung: Songs For You, Allegiance, Inspirational Broadway

Tell Leung, Photo Credit: Leon Le PhotograpyIn 2012 I got to interview Telly Leung while he was starring on Broadway in the revival of Stephen Schwartz's Godspell. At that time, he was already tapped to originate the role of "Sammy Kimura" in the pre-Broadway run of Allegiance. Well, four years later, Telly has come home to the Great White Way in Allegiance which also stars Lea Salonga and George Takei! Allegiance plays at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) through February 14! Click here for tickets!

In addition to Allegiance, Telly recently released his second solo CD Songs for You featuring classic songs from the worlds of Pop, Jazz, R&B, and Broadway, featuring the songs by Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Oleta Adams, Mama Cass Elliot, John Denver, Des’ree, Stephen Sondheim and Schwartz as well as Jerry Herman. Click to purchase on Amazon and iTunes!

If this wasn't enough, Telly is also taking part in Inspirational Broadway at B.B. Kings (237 West 42nd Street, between 7th & 8th Avenue) in NYC on Monday, February 15 at 7:30pm. The one night only concert features theatre’s biggest names singing Broadway, Gospel, Pop, and Rock classics with a stirring and spiritual twist. In addition to Telly, the evening will feature Broadway Inspirational Voices founder Michael McElroy, Billy Porter (Kinky Boots), Renee Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton), Tony-nominee Joshua Henry (Violet), Chad Kimball (Memphis), Eden Espinosa (Wicked), Jarrod Spector (Beautiful), Adam Pascal (Rent), and Marcus Paul James (Motown). Click here for tickets!

For more on Telly be sure to visit http://www.tellyleung.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This past November, you released your long awaited second CD, Songs For You, featuring classic songs from the worlds of Pop, Jazz, R&B, and Broadway done with a new and innovative twist. What made now the right time to record this CD? What do each of these songs represent for you? This has been an incredibly fulfilling and emotional year for me, with one of my biggest childhood dreams coming true: originating a leading role in a Broadway show from its first creative inception - and taking it from reading to workshop to out-of-town to Broadway. ​Allegiance has been such a gift, and a dream-come-true. I could not have done it alone, and I wanted to find a musical way to express the overwhelming feeing of GRATITUDE I had for all the people in my life (professionally and personally) that helped me along the way. Each song on the album has a special dedication to someone in my life - and it was my musical, creative way of saying, "thank you."

2. One of my favorite songs on the CD is the mash-up of "I Am What I Am" and "I Have Nothing." First of all, how did you decide these two songs would work so well as a mash-up? Secondly, what do remember about the moment in your life when you said to the world, "I Am What I Am?" and Thirdly, in regards to "I Have Nothing," when was there a time in your life when you felt you had nothing? I am a HUGE fan of two things - Broadway and Whitney Houston! I grew up listening to her on the radio, and that was the iconic voice that inspired me to sing. ​As a Broadway fan, I've always loved "I Am What I Am" (and "Albin" is a dream role of mine. I still got a couple of years to grow into it!). "I Have Nothing" is a love song, but those first iconic lyrics in the verse have a double meaning when paired with a "coming out" song like "I Am What I Am." "Share my life, take me for what I am...'cuz I'll never change all my colors for you."

I was inspired to do this very Glee-style mashup when I was in London for a Glee fan convention - and met so many young kids who were in that fragile time in their lives when they were figuring out WHO they were. A show like Glee, and the camaraderie that comes from making music with others (like they do in that famous choir room), was what helped these young people come out of their own "closets" and find themselves. I was blown away by these "Gleeks," and that's why this song is dedicated to them on the album.

Those two songs definitely resonate with me, and seeing those kids made me think about my own "coming out" experience. I found the courage to finally be unapologetic about who I am when I met my partner of 11 years. Having that love and support from him gave me that strength. The lyric, "I have nothing, nothing, nothing - if I don't have you", has never been more true.

3. I also enjoy "New York State of Mind." What are your favorite things to do in NYC? It might sound VERY obvious, but one of my favorite things to do in NYC is see a Broadway show. There's only one Broadway - and it's in NYC. It's my home - in so many ways.

4. You also cover Stephen Schwartz's "Dreamscape." When you need some Telly time, what's your "Dreamscape?" I am lucky that my job requires that I am constantly stimulated creatively. As a professional artist, my synapses and creative juices are constantly firing. For many people like me, who are working artists, it's important to find time to shut that off. So, my "dreamscape" often comes in the form of being a vegetable, on my couch, and watching some mindless TV.

5. Another song I love is "Second Chances" from Allegiance. What is an example of a time you gave someone a second chance and when were you given a second chance? To me, that song is about having faith that life is constantly filled with opportunities for redemption and forgiveness. We are all human and we all do things we regret. We say things we don't mean. We hurt the ones we love when we don't intend to do that. It may feel like those actions are irreversible, but the power of love and forgiveness is what allows us to grow and change for the better.

My parents had a hard time with me choosing a life in show biz. Like most traditional Chinese immigrant parents, they wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer - something "practical" that gave me financial security. ​They discouraged theatre and arts when I was younger - and I held a lot of resentment to them about that. When I was in high school, I'd take after school jobs and defiantly pay for my own acting and voice lessons, and not tell them about shows I was doing, because I didn't want them to be a part of this life that they didn't support. I shut them out. I was young, and didn't understand that it didn't come from a place of them not wanting me to be happy and fulfilled, but rather their concern about the ability to make a living in a very competitive profession. Eventually, my parents and I met each other in the middle. They let me pursue my dreams, and I let go of that resentment and lack of support and allowed them to partake in this other life I led. Now, they are very supportive, and we are very close.

Telly Leung in "Allegiance"6. Speaking of Allegiance, you are once again starring alongside Lea Salonga, with whom you made your Broadway debut alongside in 2002 in Flower Drum Song. What was your reunion like? What do you remember most about working with her in that show? What's it like to work with her now? Lea is family to me. She has always been a "big sister" to me, ever since Flower Drum Song. To get to play her little brother now is a "no acting required" job, and I feel like audiences that see our characters "Kei" and "Sammy" in Allegiance are also getting a peek at our off-stage relationship as Lea and Telly. It's always a joy to work with her, and hang with her on and off stage. She's been a "big sister" to me in every way. She's definitely had the responsibilities of carrying a show (with her dynamic turn as "Kim"), and she definitely helped me with sage advice about how to do that as "Sammy" in Allegiance. She is my rock on stage, and I couldn't have done this without her. Truly.

7. It was recently announced that Allegiance would be closing on Broadway, February 14. What is it like the night you come to work to find out the show is closing? How do you get out there and give it your all? What has been the most heart-felt thing to happen to you so far during the run of Allegiance? What will you miss most about starring in this show? We all found about the closing right after a Wednesday matinee performance. My dear friend and fellow cast mate Marcus Choi (who made his B'way debut with me in Flower Drum Song in 2002) went on for the first time as "Frankie" - and everyone was on a congratulatory high to experience his debut in that role! The whole building was full of pride and joy for Marcus. Then, we got the dreaded announcement that there was an impromptu "company meeting." Everyone in the business knows that "company meeting" means "you're getting your closing notice." We all went from "high" to "low" very quickly.

Telly Leung, Photo Credit: Leon Le PhotographyIt was a bitter-sweet announcement. Of course, there is a part of me that is very sad the show is closing on 2/14. But, I'm trying to maintain perspective about the whole thing. I've worked on the show for six years - and there were so many nay-sayers along the way that said, "A musical about the Japanese-American internment? That will NEVER happen on Broadway." We proved all the nay-sayers wrong, and it DID happen. I am incredibly proud of this show, and I know that it is a moving and powerful experience for those lucky audience members that do get a chance to see this show in it's limited Broadway incarnation.

As a Broadway fan, there have been many shows that I LOVE and respect that have had short runs on Broadway - Merrily We Roll Along, Scottsboro Boys, The Visit, and Title Of Show are just a few that come to mind. All of those shows are huge, artistic and creative success stories - regardless of the commercial success. I count Allegiance as one of those shows.

As for "giving it our all" after the announcement - there is no pulling back or giving less than your 100% when you are in a show with George Takei, who is giving 110% at age 78! His dedication to telling this story is relentless, and he is the heart of our company. He is the glue that holds us all together. The closing notice only ignited the fire of urgency to get this story out to as many people as possible before 2/14, and that fire is spreading and it's contagious in our company. We may be closing early, but we are going to to out with our heads held high, and giving it our all!

What I'll miss? The cast and the bonds and friendships created by this show. I started a tradition at the Longacre called "Bar Telly." At the end of a long week, I open up my dressing room after the final show, and I stock my room with booze, drinks and snacks for the cast. Everyone crams into my tiny room, and we all have a drink before we leave the building, to celebrate another week together. I will miss "Bar Telly" and all the good times we had there.

8. With Allegiance closing, this will give you some time to actually go see some Broadway shows. What do you want to see? Of current, what shows would you like to go into? Because Allegiance has Wednesday nights off, I've actually gotten to see quite a bit of theater! I still haven't seen Color Purple and I'm dying to see this version! I loved the original, and it's one of my favorite shows. I can't wait to see this revival and what they've done with it.

As for shows I'd love to do - I'd love to be in Hamilton one day. That show blew me away, and Lin's writing is a powerhouse achievement for our genre. As an actor of color, I'm thrilled that something on Broadway is TRULY color-blind when it comes to casting. The show looks like it will have a very long run on Broadway - with productions nationally an internationally for decades to come - so I'm keeping fingers crossed that I get my "shot" at being part of that incredible show! Werq Werq!

9. The night after Allegiance closes, you will be singing at B.B. Kings in NYC as part of Inspirational Broadway, an evening of music lead by Broadway Inspirational Voices founder Michael McElroy. How did you become involved with Broadway Inspirational Voices? What does being part of this group do for you? ​I'm not officially a member of Broadway Inspirational Voices, but I'm definitely a friend, fan and supporter of the choir since so many members of my Broadway family are part of the organization. One of my dearest friends is my Rent-colleague Michael McElroy, who is the founder. What he has done with the choir is remarkable. Not only does he build community within the Broadway network, but he's expanded that sense of community outside of the B'way community by using the choir to do music outreach to young students. He does all of this with the power of music and it's ability to bring people together and lift spirits.

I wanted to produce an evening of music to raise some awareness and dollars for their outreach program. Michael and I picked up the phone and we called our friends to come and sing with us - and these folks have generously donated their time and talents to this ONE NIGHT ONLY event at BB KING's! Audiences can expect to hear their favorite Broadway and Pop songs - everything from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Sondheim to The Beatles - done with Broadway Inspirational Voice's unique and soulful twist.

10. 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 every day? MY DIET! The eating schedule of a Broadway performer is so tricky and strange because we can't eat too much before a show, and we are starving AFTER a show, but shouldn't eat too much before bed. It's always a challenge to try and strike that balance between eating excessively and not giving your body enough fuel. ​

Telly Leung, Photo Credit: Matthew MurphyMore on Telly:

Telly Leung made his Broadway debut in the 2002 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song opposite Lea Salonga, followed by the Roundabout Theater Company revival of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Pacific Overtures. Telly starred in the final Broadway cast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent, which was filmed for DVD release. In the 2011 revival of Godspell, his version of "All Good Gifts" was praised as "magnificent" by New York Magazine, "superb" by The Philadelphia Inquirer, and "a standout" by Bloomberg News.

On Fox TV’s Glee, Telly was featured as a member of the Dalton Academy "Warblers" opposite Darren Criss. When he recreated his portrayal of "Angel" in Rent at the Hollywood Bowl – directed by Neil Patrick Harris – he was called "vibrant" by The Los Angeles Times, "stunning" by the Orange County Register and praised for his "sweet, clear tenor" by Variety. Telly also originated the role of "Boq" in the Chicago production of the smash hit Wicked and has performed in concert and shows at venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Hippodrome in London, Birdland Jazz Club and 54 Below in New York, Paper Mill Playhouse, Philadelphia Theater Company, Ford’s Theater, and more.

He served as producer for the short film Grind, starring Anthony Rapp (If/ThenRent), Claire Coffee (Grimm, The West Wing) and Pasha Pellosie (The Carrie Diaries). The movie, which won honors at film festivals around the country, is available to stream at GrindShortFilm.com. The soundtrack is available on Yellow Sound Label. Telly is also the co-producer of the touring concert series Broadway Back Together, a reunion of major headliners who have performed on Broadway together, sharing an evening of personal backstage anecdotes and show-stopping music.

Monday
Jan252016

Call Redialed: Kyle Dean Massey: Feinstein's/54 Below debut

Kyle Dean Massey, Photo Credit: Cameron BertronIt's been four years since I first spoke with Kyle Dean Massey! So much has happened for him that it's great to catch up with him and discuss his upcoming Feinstein's/54 Below debut! Kyle Dean will be performing at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on January 30 and February 10 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

In this concert, Kyle Dean looks back, not at the things that were, but at the things that weren’t. Come listen to Kyle Dean share songs he heard nightly but never sang himself, the ones he played on guitar or belted in the shower, the ones that made him dance or mended his broken heart…all songs he was not able to share the way he wanted until now.

For more on Kyle Dean be sure to visit http://www.kyledeanmassey.com and follow him on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit http://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Kyle Dean Massey on ABC's "Nashville"1. It's great to catch up with you Kyle Dean. Last time we spoke, you were filming an episode of Wade Dooley's Pzazz 101. Since then, you went back in to Wicked for a bit, starred in Broadway's Pippin, and been seen on TV Nashville, The Good Wife, and Inside Amy Schumer. As a boy from Arkansas, what goes through your head when you look at all you've done? I can honestly say that I don’t think about it much! In this business you’re always just trying to do better and more varied work. So I think my eye is more trained on what’s ahead than what I’ve done. With that being said, I know how fortunate I’ve been in this career and only hope that I can continue to do exciting work.

2. Now you are making your Feinstein's/54 Below debut. Why is now the right time to make your debut there? I’ve been doing more and more concert work the last several years and it just seemed like a logical thing to do since I have never done a solo show in the city before. It’s so hard to do these kinds of shows on top of a grueling eight show a week schedule. And since I’ve been working mainly on television for the past year it’s given me the opportunity to be able to put this show together.

Kyle Dean Massey performing at Feinstein's/54 Below3. In this show, you are performing songs that you yourself never got to perform, you just heard them nightly during the show you were in. What made you want to construct a show of things that weren't instead of were? The beautiful thing about doing your own show is that you get to sing whatever the hell you want! And so my set is made up of several songs I’ve always wanted to sing or songs that symbolized rejection or songs that different characters from my shows performed. So it’s really a grab bag of different "were-nots."

4. What do you still hope to accomplish that you haven’t? I’d love to become a parent someday!

Kyle Dean Massey at Dolly Parton's sound check on "The Today Show"5. In our last interview, you mentioned that if you could dream about anyone while you sleep, it would be Dolly Parton. So, my follow-up question is a three parter. If you could record any Dolly Parton song which one would you record? What Dolly song would you want to do a duet with her on? What Dolly song would you want to make a music video to? I would definitely record "The Grass is Blue." I would obviously duet on "Islands in the Stream." And I would make a music video of "Two Doors Down."

6. A song that you have performed on Broadway that I love is "I'm Alive" from Next To Normal. When are you most alive? It feels cheesy to say, but I definitely feel alive onstage when I’m performing. I feel like I have a special kind of focus that I don’t normally have during normal life. I feel like everything works just a little bit better.

7. 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 everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent everyday? Well I’ve been trying to say "fuck" a lot less. It’s going marginally well.

Kyle Dean Massey, Photo Credit: Nathan Johnson NYMore on Kyle:

Kyle Dean Massey is an American actor best know for his work on Broadway in PippinNext to NormalWicked & Xanadu and to television audiences as "Kevin Bicks" from ABC's Nashville.

Kyle Dean was raised in Jonesboro, Arkansas, a town 60 miles northwest of Memphis, TN. He started taking dance classes at age six and spent his adolescence singing in school choirs and studying the piano. After discovering musical theatre in high school he went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Missouri State University.

Kyle Dean Massey backstage at Broadway's "Pippin"In addition to his stage work, Kyle Dean has been seen on the screen in The Good Wife (CBS), Inside Amy Schumer (CC), High MaintenanceUp All Night (NBC), Hart of Dixie (CW), Cupid (ABC), Sex And the City 2 (HBO Films) & Contest. He has also performed on Good Morning AmericaThe CBS Early ShowRegis & Kelly, The 62nd Annual Tony Awards and lends his voice as a voice-over artist for many popular cartoon shows. While starring in Next to Normal, Kyle Dean was the star of his own popular web-blog series, Normal Life, on Broadway.com. Five years later he hosted another series, Fresh Prince, while starring in the title role of Pippin.

As a vocalist Kyle Dean has performed across the country in pops concerts with symphony orchestras and in more intimate cabaret settings with his one man show. He also tours with his concert group The Broadway Tenors.

Kyle Dean Massey speaking at the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Nashville, Photo Credit: Sundel PerryKyle Dean serves as a masterclass instructor and panel contributor for several different teaching organizations including Camp Broadway, Broadway Artists Alliance, Broadway Connection, VIP Tours of New York, the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, Stagelighter & Broadway Triple Threat. He also serves as a private acting and voice coach to students all over the country.

Kyle Dean is a passionate supporter of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Trevor Project and various human rights groups. He frequently performs in charity concerts at various venues across New York City including Joe’s Pub, Ars Nova, The Laurie Beechman Theatre and Feinstein's/54 Below.