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Entries in Actor (123)

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.

Wednesday
Dec162015

Call Redialed: Jeremy Kushnier: Shear Madness

Jeremy KushnierI first met Jeremy Kushnier a few years ago when I got to interview the cast of Bucks County's production of Rocky Horror. Prior to Rocky Horror, I saw Jeremy go on in the most recent Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. It was then that I was like, wow what a voice!

I'm so excited to catch up with Jeremy as he is keeping audiences guessing as to whodunit in America's longest running comedy, Shear Madness, which has descended on New York City, playing at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and at http://nyc.shearmadness.com!

For more on Jeremy be sure to visit http://jeremykushnier.com and follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Last time we spoke you were starring in Bucks County's production of Rocky Horror. Now you are starring in, Shear Madness, America's longest running comedy. What is the most exciting part about being in a whodunit show? I love the idea that you really have to be present at every moment because you never know what is going to happen. Also the challenge of convincing an audience that it wasn’t you is a lot of fun!

2. What do you relate to most about your character "Eddie Lawrence"? I think the poor guy is very misunderstood. It's a challenge in daily life to change peoples perception of you and that's something I think "Eddie" is doing through this play. It's definitely something I try to do in life.

From left to right: Jordan Ahnquist, Lynne Wintersteller, Jeremy Kushnier, and Kate Middleton in "Shear Madness", Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg3. Shear Madness is a very audience interactive show, where the audience helps figure out who the killer is. What challenges do you face as an actor with this nightly change in the script? What do you enjoy most about this kind of audience interaction? I think the idea of keeping the show fresh and staying on top of how you interact with the audience while still making it seem of the cuff. There's a fine line of looking like you know too well what you’re doing and it looking completely improvised that we try to tread. It's all a challenge. We like to say that the audience is our 7th company member and they just happen to have no idea their lines or the play in general, and that makes it a bit of a challenge as well.

4. Since Shear Madness is heavily based upon audience participation, what has been the craziest thing to happen so far? We never say audience participation we say audience interaction because truly you can be as involved or uninvolved as you like. Audience participation makes a lot of people run for the hills, me included. The craziest thing for me is how much that New York audiences want to be involved. Our audiences have been on it and super excited to be a part.

Kate Middleton and Jeremy Kushnier in "Shear Madness", Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg5. One of my favorite games growing up was "Clue." I loved figuring out who killed who, in what room, and with what weapon. Shear Madness is very similar. If you were to be the star of "Clue," who would you kill, with what weapon, and in what room? Probably Mr Green (cause I love Michael McKean) in the Library with the revolver.

6. If Shear Madness were to merge with Rocky Horror, who and how would "Riff Raff," who you played, commit murder? He would definitely convince "Magenta" to do it for him or just sing really high and loud till they took their own lives.

7. Since Shear Madness is a whodunit, what mystery in your life are you still trying to solve? How to make the perfect martini.

8. In addition to theatre, you also have released two solo albums. What do you get from making music that you don't get from your theatrical ventures? I like the idea of having total control over the end product. It's very cathartic for me to write my own music. You know we don’t always get to be as artistically involved as we'd like to be in our own lives. So writing music gives me that outlet.

Jeremy Kushnier as "Eddie" in "Shear Madness"9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Shut up and do your job." Honestly. I was in rehearsals for Footloose and I called a good friend and mentor because I was very scared that I wasn’t going to be able to do it. I was feeling nervous. I had never been the lead of a big show like this let alone on Broadway and I started to doubt myself. He just reminded me that I had been acting for over a decade at that point and I knew what I was doing. And that nothing about where I was or what I was doing was any different than what I had done before. And to shut up and do my job.

10. What theatre stars inspire you today? I think anyone who does this as a career is inspiring to me. There are so many people in the theater that are a complete wonder to me every day. But the people that inspire me the most are the ones that love the theater so much that they glow even when they speak of it. My girlfriend Robin Abramson is one of those people. She is an amazing actress and has inspired me to love the theater again. She receives such a genuine joy from theater that it is contagious to be around her. One of my favorite things to do on the planet now is to go and sit in a theater with her and enjoy the fact that we live in the center of the universe when it comes to theater.

Jeremy KushnierMore on Jeremy:

Jeremy Kushnier most recently portrayed "Iago" to critical acclaim in Pittsburgh Public Theater's production of Othello. He was nominated for a 2015 Drama Desk Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of "Leo Szillard" in the musical Atomic. On Broadway he covered "Jesus," "Judas" and "Pilate" in the most recent production of Jesus Christ Superstar, played "Tommy Devito" in Jersey Boys, "Ren" in Footloose and "Roger" in Rent. National tours include "Radames" in Aida and "The Doctors" in Next to Normal, "Tommy Devito" in the Chicago, Las Vegas, and Toronto companies of Jersey Boys. His most recent TV credits include Person of Interest, The Good Wife and the series finale of Nurse Jackie. Jeremy has released two independent albums of all original music.

Tuesday
Dec082015

Call Answered: Nate Foster: This Live Show with Nate Foster at The PIT

Nate FosterI love improv. I love comedy. I love talk shows. I love sketch comedy. When I was introduced to This Live Show with Nate Foster, combining the best from late night talk shows with the joy of a tight, high-energy sketch show, I knew I had to find out more! This Live Show with Nate Foster, created by Tamsi New and Jay Malsky, has a host, co-host, audience participation, topical humor, character sketches and absurdist comedy. It truly is a mash-up of Jimmy Fallon and SNL.

This Live Show with Nate Foster plays every month at The PIT's PIT Loft in NYC (154 West 29th Street). The next installment is on Friday, December 18 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Nate be sure to visit http://nate-foster.com and follow him at The PIT, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Nate Foster at Gotham Comedy Club1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was always a big fan of Robin Williams when I was growing up. I remember buying his comedy album, and listening to it at night in my room. I don't know if that is what inspired me, per se, but he was definitely an influence. I knew I wanted to perform when I was in middle school. I would go to the play readings for whatever plays the theatre program was going to do that season and would read the characters in these wacky voices, like imitating characters from the Simpsons for some reason. But I never actually did any of the plays. Then in high school I started acting, and I pretty much knew.

2. After touring with Hampstead Stage Company, you came back to New York and began studying at The PIT. Out of all the improv places in NYC, why did you choose to study at The PIT? I really didn't know much about the improv scene in NYC. My girlfriend had started taking classes there. She's also an actress, and so, I don't know. It wasn't exactly an informed decision. I just ended up getting lucky and making a sort of arbitrary choice that paid off for me.

3. Now you are the host of the monthly series This Live Show with Nate Foster, created by you, Jay Malsky, and Tamsi New, which combines the best from late night talk shows with the joy of a tight, high-energy sketch show. How did you decide to come up with this format for your series? Well the three of us had all performed in a faux SNL show at the PIT--a class that was offered that let's writing students experience what a week at SNL would be like. I did the weekend update segment. During the process we all lamented that there wasn't anything really like this out there. Tamsi and Jay then went off and crafted the show, and came to me and asked me to host it. But it was really their brainchild. The idea was that, sure we could do a mock SNL, but incorporating elements of late-night television makes it a lot more interactive for the audience I think.

4. If you could choose 3 dream guests to have on This Live Show, who would you choose? So we don't actually have guests on the show...yet. That's something we discussed earlier in the process, but for right now it's really just the writers, performers, me, and our house band Rebecca Vigil and the Vigilante. I think it'd be great to have someone come and sit down for an interview, play some silly game, and get a chance to perform in sketches with the cast.

5. From your "Meet The Creators" video, it looks like the three of you have a lot of fun together. What pranks have you played on each other during the show or in creating each show? Haha. Sometimes it is so hectic during the process that we barely see each other, believe it or not! They're working with the actors on sketches, I'm working with the writers and then we come together toward the end. I think if I pulled some sort of prank on one of them, I may get killed.

6. What is the craziest thing to happen so far during this show? Well we've only had three so far, so nothing too far off the walls has happened in terms of sets falling over or anything. I always feel like I'm forced to eat things in the show. In October I was force-fed pumpkin puree, and this past month I had to eat a bunch of jellied cranberry sauce. But most of the craziness comes from the audience bits, because we usually have contestants from the audience come up and play a little game, and their responses can be unpredictable.

The Writer's Room of "This Live Show with Nate Foster"7. What challenges do you face with so much audience interaction? What pleasure do you get from interacting with the audience? I love incorporating the audience. I think the show is more of an experience than a typical show where you sit and watch a bunch of people perform a bunch of sketches. We use them. We ask them to interact. Rebecca, the band leader, does an improvised musical number in the middle of the show where she pretty much exclusively plays off the audience. They love it. Sure you run the risk of losing a little control over the tightness of the show, but I think what you gain from it is so much better. The audience is part of the show.

8. As a boy from Westbrook, ME, how does the reality of living out your dream in NYC compare to what you thought it would be like? If you could do it all over again, would you? Well, it's expensive. I could've stayed in Maine and bought a house. And who knew Maine was that beautiful?! But I feel like I need to be where everything is happening. I love it here. Anytime I leave the city, I eventually feel like I need to get back here. There's so much culture, and there's so much life.

9. I've heard you've been living in purgatory between performing and serving desserts. It's such a hard place to be. Have you ever thought of just giving up and going straight to hell? How do you keep yourself going so you end up in heaven? Haha, sure I've thought, hey what would happen if I go get a "real" job and wouldn't have to worry about security or instability. But I know I would be unhappy and regret it later on. I'm doing what I love. Sure, I'd like to do what I love and get paid a lot more for it, but I've still got a pretty good life compared to three quarters of the planet, so I feel lucky.

10. With the holiday season upon us, what's your favorite way to spend the holidays in NYC? Leave NYC. No, it's nice here, but there are so many places you have to avoid during the holidays, it's just nice to get away while the rest of the world comes to visit.

Nate FosterMore on Nate:

An actor, improvisor, and stand-up comedian, Nate was born in Westbrook, ME during a heat wave, resulting in an enlarged cranium and the ability to sprint like a Kenyan. Not long after his birth, he completed his BFA in Performing Arts at Adelphi University in NY. He then toured with Hampstead Stage Company, performing at schools across the Atlantic US, before returning to New York to try his hand at waiting tables. It was here that he began studying Improv at the PIT. It is in this awkward purgatory--torn between his love of taking dessert orders and his need to perform--that we currently find him.