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Entries in Adam Rothenberg (233)

Thursday
Apr272017

Call Answered: Christina Franklin: "New York, New Year: A New Musical," at TADA!

Christina FranklinIn Sunset Boulevard, "Norma Desmond" sings "I've come home at last!" and that is what I loved about Christina Franklin's journey with TADA! Youth Theater. She started out in TADA's! Youth Ensemble and now has come back as the writer and director of their latest production, New York, New Year

New York, New Year tells the story of "Tess" who moves to NYC in the middle of the school year from her hometown of Missouri and wonders how she will fit in. Will she make friends at her new school? Tess has the months of the year to help guide her, but she misses Sarah, her best friend from back home. When she tells 3 NYC kids that she's going to take a bus tour to really get to know NY, they tell her you don't get to know the real NYC through a bus tour, so she asks them to show her things they each love about the city & they become her new friends. Tess thinks that she needs to change herself to be liked, but who does she become? And will she still be friends with Sarah? Can she be the Tess from Missouri with Sarah & the NYC Tess with her new friends? What happens when they all get together for New Year's Eve as a surprise for Tess? Can the “months” save the day?

New York, New Year plays at TADA! Youth Theater (15 West 28th Street) from April 29-May 21. Click here for tickets!

For more on TADA! be sure to visit http://www.tadatheater.com and follow them Facebook and Twitter!

1. This May you are presenting New York, New Year: A New Musical, at TADA!, based upon the original concept by Gary Bagley. What made you want to write the book for this show and direct it? When I was six years old, my older brother Norman, was in the original production of New York, New Year at TADA! I saw the show many times and I loved it. The show takes place over the course of a year and each month is played by an actor. I was very drawn to this concept; it’s so unique and fun. TADA! usually revives show every five-six seasons, but New York New York hasn’t been done since 1999. The script needed more development time. In the summer of 2016, our artistic director Nina Trevens, proposed that I rewrite the book and direct the new production in the next season. I got in touch with the original writers and began rewriting the book. Fast forward 10 months and here we are!

2. One interesting fact I found out is that for 10 years you were a member of the TADA! Youth Ensemble, but while you were a sophomore at Professional Performing Arts School, you found a love for the production aspect of theatre. What was it about the production side that made you go, this is the part of theatre I want to pursue over acting? I discovered that I have a love for creating stories and devising interesting ways to tell those stories. Also, I am admittedly a control freak, so the older I got, the harder it was to let myself be free and vulnerable as an actor.

Janine Nina Trevens (TADA! Artistic Director) and Christina Franklin3. What is it like being back at TADA! after being away from it for a few years? The thing is, I haven’t been away from TADA! very much. Even during my college years, I came back to work on productions when I was on break from school. It’s always great to come home. I particularly love staying in touch with the ensemble and watching them grow and learn.

4.  In New York, New Year, "Tess" moves to NYC in the middle of the school year from her hometown of Missouri and wonders how she will fit in. When did you ever wonder if you would fit in somewhere? I have similar worries and doubts every time I enter a new experience, particularly college. Like "Tess," I was in a new city (Philadelphia), starting a new school year, and feeling very lonely. Fortunately, it was a new beginning for everyone, whereas "Tess" jumps into an environment where everyone is already acclimated, which makes it even harder for her to find her place.

Christina Franklin and Ben Vereen5. "Tess" tells her new friends she's going to get to know NYC via a bus tour, who in turn, tell her, you can't get to know NYC from a bus tour. What have you learned about NYC from living here that you wouldn't have had you taken a bus tour? I think the best things about the city are the non-commercial features. Organized NYC tours tend to hit the standard things the city is already famous for. I value the hole-in-the-wall restaurants, the quaintness of various neighborhoods, and more importantly the character and essence of the city that changes every 10 blocks or so.

6. This show has so many great themes for kids, like how "Tess" feels she needs to change herself to be liked." Have you ever felt like you needed to change to be liked or fit in somewhere? Yes - middle school was particularly tough for me. My new classmates made fun of how I spoke and the way I looked. I was not confident enough to hold my own and stay true to myself so to avoid bullying, I tried to assimilate myself to how they all acted. I was somewhat successful, but 8th grade graduation couldn’t have come soon enough. This was a time that TADA! was vital in my life. Although I had to change myself during the school day, I was able to let go and be free when I got to rehearsal.

Christina Franklin7. Since the show is called New York, New Year. What is something you are going to do or have done in NYC that is new this year? There are always new restaurants to try, so I plan to check some out. Although it isn’t new, I do want to get to the Highline once the weather gets warm again.

8. What are your top five favorite things to do in NYC? I love seeing new shows, walking the Brooklyn Bridge, shopping in the Christmas Villages that pop up in Union Square, Columbus Circle, and Bryant Park, checking out various farmers markets in the spring and fall, and going to free outdoor movie screenings in the summer.

9. After being part of TADA! Youth Ensemble and now being back as a playwright/director, why would you recommend someone to be part of TADA!? I would recommend it because there’s always something to be gained. Nina always says it; an 8 year old can learn from an 18 year old and vice versa. It’s the same thing when working on the production side. I’ve learned so much from the kids in the cast and I hope I’ve been able to teach them some things too!

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 better every day? I love this idea! I definitely need to improve my patience skills. New Yorkers are always on the go, thinking about the next thing. When things aren’t swift and efficient, we tend to get agitated. I can definitely stand to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Christina FranklinMore on Christina:

Christina Franklin is a theatre artist, born & raised in NYC & has been a part of the TADA! family since she was four years old. As a member of the TADA! Youth Ensemble for 10 years, she performed in 17 main stage musicals in addition to many workshops & readings. Christina found a love for the production aspect of theatre when she was a sophomore at Professional Performing Arts School. She went on to earn a BFA in Directing, Playwriting & Production from The University of the Arts. During her time at UArts, she stage managed multiple productions, wrote plays, produced student work & directed many projects. Shortly after graduation, she began an internship at The Public Theater, which led to working on multiple projects including The Total Bent & Eclipsed on Broadway. Since becoming a TADA! Alumna, she has worked on many TADA! shows as a stage manager & assistant director. New York, New Year marks Christina’s NYC directorial debut as well as her 26th production with TADA! Youth Theater. 

Thursday
Apr272017

Call Answered: Emily Kratter: Dead End at Axis Theatre 

Emily Kratter, Photo Credit: David PerlmanAnother rising actress that has recently come to my attention is Emily Kratter. From theatre to film to TV, Emily is appearing everywhere! She's currently starring in Axis Theatre Company's revival of Sidney Kingsley's Dead End, a Broadway hit in 1936, which was later turned into a film starring Humphrey Bogart which included the first appearance of "The Bowery Boys" who went on to become the iconic "kid gang" of American movies.

Dead End takes place in a New York where tenement houses and luxury apartments stand side by side and extreme wealth and abject poverty intersect every day. Gangsters and bankers, prostitutes and lost children, failure and dreams of the future all live on this street. Axis Theatre Company illuminates these stark contrasts with an understanding of their mythology as well as their contemporary mirror in the city of today.

Dead End plays at Axis Theatre (1 Sheridan Square) through May 20. Click here for tickets!

For more on Emily be sure to visit http://www.emilykratter.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My earliest memory is seeing Peter Pan...I must have been four or five. "Peter" took off and started flying and it was magic. So, I guess at the time you can say I just wanted to fly? But now, I can tell you for sure that I am inspired every single day to stay a performer by my brilliant friends and collaborators and fellow artists. The theatre community in New York City inspires me.

2. This spring you are starring in Axis Company's production of Sidney Kingsley's Dead End, about the legendary kid gang, "The Bowery Boys" who grew up on the streets of NYC during the Great Depression. What made you want to be part of this show? Well, for one the Axis Company is a group of fearless artists who march to beat of their own drum and create stunning work that is unlike anything I've seen elsewhere. Their artistry is only matched by their hearts and overall awesomeness as humans whom I genuinely always want to be around...So there's that. Working with wonderful people is a huge factor. But also -- immediately when I read this script, I was so taken with the characters, particularly the kids. There is this raw energy that excited me. Their emotions live entirely on their sleeves. They are silly, and scared, and yearning, and manipulative, and just trying to survive. The piece has so much going on. Our director, Randy Sharp has said, "It's like there is one miracle after the next" and I feel that to be true. There's not one moment in the play that does not propel us forward and nobody is ever on even ground. I felt that potential in my first read.

3. What do you relate to most about your character? What is one trait of theirs, you are glad you, yourself, don't have? Hmm well, "Milty" is hilarious. I think I definitely see elements of myself as a kid in him...He has a wild imagination that I know I had, and hope I still do. He is not self-conscious, and fully self-expressed and I love that, and it's a thrill to play. He also looks up to the gang leader, "Tommy" with such fierce admiration. I DEFINITELY did that as a kid. I had a group of older friends that I thought were the coolest. I upped my "cool" cred, just by being around them. As far as one trait I don't have? He is a SPAZ. And honestly, I guess I am too...but he takes it to a new level. I think I can say I'm not quite that bad...(I hope).

Cast of "Dead End", Photo Credit: Pavel Antonov4. How do you feel "The Bowery Boys" story resonates in today's world? Dead End takes place in the 1930s where luxury apartments and tenement housing stand side by side. It examines the intersection of wealth and poverty and at the heart of it is the impact on this gang of kids. It's astonishing how much and how little has changed since that time. I live on the west side of Manhattan where buildings of grandeur are going up every day, and at it's base lay homeless men and women. It is our hope that while these characters might have once been labeled as archetypes, "gangster," "prostitute," "lost boy" etc, that we are examining the humanity underneath. And that humanity, I think will resonate forever.

And one more point of note: While "The Bowery Boys" are certainly a pillar in this play, there are 14 ACTORS making up this ensemble. I'll repeat: This is a downtown theater that hired 14 ACTORS to produce this baby. I think that's awesome and worth emphasizing.

5. What is something you learned about "The Bowery Boys" in preparing for this show that made you go, "Oh wow, I wonder how I would have faired or what would I have done in this situation? Hmm...I'm not sure how to answer this question without giving too much away. But there is a theme regarding "survival of the fittest." How far are you willing to go to build the life you've dreamed of? Or how far are you willing to go to for love? For a friend who's in trouble? And what is that point when one makes the decision to do what's best for him/herself despite everything else?

Cast of "Dead End", Photo Credit: Pavel Antonov6. Since this story focuses on a kid gang, growing up, did you have your own gang or posse? Oh, I DID indeed. I was so lucky to have the most amazing friends growing up. Most of them are still my best friends today. I had a group of friends that I met doing theatre together, and now they are running the world -- they became attorneys and doctors and entrepreneurs and social workers and parents. Some have become successful actors too! And in school, I was in a group of five girls that were inseparable. We even had a name...We called ourselves, "PENT" because there were five of us. They are going to die a little when they read this. We are bonded for life...well, four of us...(long story).

7. In Dead End, gangsters and bankers, prostitutes and lost children, failure and dreams of the future all live on this street. If we break each of these categories down, when have you felt like a gangster, a banker, a prostitute, and a lost child? WOW. I guess I could most relate to the lost child... given these choices, I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. I'm holding on to a hopefulness that I'm not going to let this world take from me. As for gangster? I'd be terrible...When I was in high school, my friend and I went through the turnstile together for the subway. A policeman grabbed us and told us not to do it again, and I think I had a panic attack. A banker? I think my soul would die if I worked in a cubicle. They work in cubicles right? or desks? I think I would die at a desk all day too. And prostitute? Yikes. Luckily things haven't gotten that rough yet...Ask me in a few years ;)

Emily Kratter, Photo Credit: David Perlman8. What are some of your dreams of the future? What are some of your failures of the past? I have had so much fun working on this show. It hasn't felt like work for one second. That's what I dream of...To have a fulfilling career "working" and never feeling the labor. To do what I love with the people I love. To tell stories that move people...to laughter or tears, whatever. To make some kind of impact and affect people by sharing these tales of flawed, broken, beautiful humans. I think at one point I told my parents I was going to double major when I was at NYU, have some sort of a "back up plan"...I failed at that promise. I'm not sure I even really tried, but shhh!

9. Let's play with the title of Dead End for a moment. What is a path or an idea you started out on, but unfortunately hit a "Dead End," with nowhere to go? I have gone through so many periods where I have wracked my brain and tried to trick myself into believing that perhaps I could be satisfied doing something else with my life. Something with more security, with structure. It's a dead end for sure. I think this crazy business is stuck with me for the long run.

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 better every day? That's amazing!! I love this!! There are SO many things!! But to keep things light, I need to sharpen my cooking skills. I have a crock pot I bought off of Amazon last year that's still in the box....well, it's actually out of the box, but that's as far as I got :( Terrible....Shameless plug: Our director Randy Sharp actually has a BRILLIANT cooking show on youtube called DINNER PARTY TONIGHT - One day I'll make her proud and replicate one of her to-die-for recipes. Ina Garten better watch out.

Emily Kratter, Photo Credit: David PerlmanMore on Emily:

Emily Kratter Favorite credits: Axis: Dead EndEvening – 1910, The Groundling and Solitary Light. Other Select NYC theatre/workshops: Confederates (LAByrinth Theater Co, The Lark/Workshop); Be More Chill (workshop/Dir. Scott Ellis); Death For Sydney Black (TerraNOVA Collective/Dir. Kip Fagan); Boomer's Millenial Hero StoryBelieber (TerraNOVA Collective/Groundbreakers); The Austerity of Hope (The Barrow Group); Greenwood (NYMF); Progress In Flying (The New Group/New Works); Pooka (Dramatists Guild/Playwrights Horizons); Five Second Chances (The Playwright's Realm/INK'D); The Physicists (Williamstown); The Holy Ghostly (Williamstown/workshop), The Children's Hour (APAC). Film:  Adelaide, Half Brother (Amazon/Itunes) TV: Unforgettable (CBS). Web: Fomo Daily NYU Tisch. 

Wednesday
Apr262017

Call Answered: Part 2: Facetime Interview with Michael Zam, writer of "Feud: Bette and Joan"

"Call Me Adam" and Michael Zam live at The Algonquin HotelIf you loved the finale of Feud: Bette and Joan, then be sure to check out the second part of my interview with Feud writer Michael Zam, who gives us the backstage stories that didn't make it into the show as well as some insight to Bette Davis and Joan Crawford!

Live from The Algonquin Hotel, Michael Zam and I go at it again with even more tales from Feud: Bette and Joan!

Click here to watch Part 1 of our interview!

For more on Feud: Bette and Joan be sure to visit http://www.fxnetworks.com/shows/feud and follow the show on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Part 2 of "Call Me Adam's" Facetime interview with Feud: Bette and Joan writer Michael Zam:

Michael ZamMore on Michael:

Michael Zam, BFA/MFA, author of the Black-Listed screenplay, Best Actress, has been developed into the hugely popular and highly-acclaimed 8-part miniseries, Feud, for FX, starring Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis. He has also written scripts for DreamWorks, Plan B, and many others. Michael wrote the book for the Off-Broadway musical The Kid, based on Dan Savage’s memoir, which won the Jerry Bock Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre and the Outer Critics Circle Award. The musical was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, Lucille Lortel Awards, and GLAAD Media Awards. Michael has been honored twice with the SPS Award for Teaching Excellence. He teaches screenwriting, film, and television writing at NYUSPS in the Center for Applied Liberal Arts.

Tuesday
Apr252017

Call Redialed: Joe Gulla: GARBO: 2017 Downtown Urban Arts Festival at Cherry Lane Theatre

Joe Gulla, Photo Credit: Jeffrey HornsteinWhat can I say about the man who adores me to no end? I mean, the man who adores "Call Me Adam" to no end. He actually never has said he adores me, Adam Rothenberg, he just loves my site, but I'll take it! I can't believe I've known Joe for eight years and have gotten to interview him, now three times, plus have seen him go from a fellow blogger to an award winning playwright! He writes, acts, directs, and produces. He does it all!

GARBO tells the story of Joe, a Gay New Yorker, who happens upon the tiny, hidden, candle-lit Garbo Bar during his visit to Rome, Italy. An emotional adventure begins when he is introduced to the handsome, enigmatic, (possibly!) closeted bartender/owner. Funny and heartfelt, GARBO explores why life and love may be better lived outside the closet...even (or especially) in the shadow of the Vatican!"

I'm thrilled to bring this new interview to you about Joe's latest play, GARBO, that will be presented in the 2017 Downtown Urban Arts Festival on Tuesday, May 9 at 7pm at The Cherry Lane Theatre! 

For more on Joe be sure to visit https://www.joegulla.com and follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. On May 9, you are presenting a one-night only performance of your play GARBO at the Cherry Lane Theatre as part of the 2017 Downtown Urban Arts Festival. What excites you about having your play in this particular festival? I am huge fan of the Downtown Urban Arts Festival! They care about playwrights. They care about "the words." Their festival is curated within an inch of its life. So, I am extremely proud that they selected GARBO. Oh and, um, they are producing us at the Cherry Lane Theatre! Adam, c’mon…THAT is exciting! And, in my case, a dream come true!

2. GARBO has had some previous incarnations already...in 2011 it was a ONE ACT selected for the 2011 FRESH FRUIT FESTIVAL...and then, in 2012 it was selected by the TIMES SQUARE INTERNATIONAL THEATER FESTIVAL for a STAGED READING…and since then, you have added a second act. What made you want to add a second act? What did you feel was missing from the show as a one act or did you just love performing the show so much that you wanted to write yourself more stage time...hahaha? I love this question! Nothing was ever missing from the ONE ACT (short play) version. I wrote about my experience having (what I call!) an "unrequited love affair" with a bar owner in Rome, Italy. I was very pleased with the piece, its message and the early performances.

The fact that the play was only an hour long bothered me. I believe in GARBO and I wanted it to be available to larger audiences and (in my mind) that meant it had to be a proper TWO ACT (full length) play. This stymied me because the original version was true to what happened to me in Rome. It had a beginning, middle and an end!

My director, Brian Rardin, challenged me to come up with an Act 2. I was resistant! Like I said, there was no more "true" story, so I did not know where to go with it. I didn’t rush my feelings about it. I let it all marinate. Then, one day, I was at the gym and it just "came to me." A twist! A freakin’ twist, Adam! One that opens the story up but, at the same time, allows it to go deeper. I am pretty sure Act 2 will come as a big surprise to our audience. It definitely creates a richer…more resonant experience. But, honestly, it also adds another element of just plain soapy fun! So, no! I did not write Act 2 so I could have more stage time! Ha! I am already horrified enough about the amount of memorizing I need to do!

Joe Gulla, Photo Credit: Jeffrey Hornstein3. Without reading a description of the show, one might think GARBO has something to do with Greta Garbo, but in actuality, it's about your time in Rome where you had an unrequited love affair with the owner/bartender of a tiny candle-lit bar called GARBO Bar. Has there been any confusion about this? Yes! All the time! But, to the confused, I say…"Was MOBY DICK really about a whale?"

4. Now, let's get into the intricacies of the show itself! As stated in the previous question, GARBO is about the three years you spent in Rome, but you initially went there for just three months, until you "fell in love." You original reason for going to Rome was because you felt it was your duty to visit the homeland & get to know your history. What happened in your life that made you feel this necessity? It sounds like something "negative" happened but, actually, it was the opposite. In the mid-90’s, I took a trip to Spain that was supposed to last a month. I ended up staying there for a year and a half! As a native New Yorker, I was astounded by how "out" the gay guys were. I lived in New York all my life and, obviously, New York is a great place to be if you are gay. But, I had never seen men holding hands in the streets, kissing and making out in public spaces until I lived in Spain. This stayed with me.

Moving to Spain was sorta random. I never expected to stay that long. But, when I was back in the States, I started to feel guilty. I mean, there I was, I had lived in Madrid and Ibiza, but never even visited Italy. As an Italian-American, I knew I had to remedy this! In planning my trip to the "homeland," my goal was to "get in touch" with my Italian heritage and, ideally, fall in love with a sexy, hot Italian guy. Ha! At the very least, I’d experience that same European, gay (Spanish-like!) openness…only, this time, I’d be in the country my family is from!

Cast of GARBO: Joe Gulla, Kate Greer, and Aristotelis Ambatzidis5. How long into your three-month visit, did you meet the owner/bartender of GARBO? Then how long after that, were you like, I should stay longer? Ok, well…in real life, I was there for three years! I met the guy about a month into my trip. I knew I was staying for an "extended holiday," but I was not familiar enough with Rome to know exactly where I should settle. I’d read a memoir called, Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr. The author wrote rhapsodically about a part of Rome called Trastevere. All I remembered was that you could enter Trastevere from a bridge named the "Ponte Sisto." I bought a map (This was before I had an iPhone!) and I made my way to that damn bridge. I crossed it, fell in love with the neighborhood and got an apartment almost immediately. I went to Garbo the first night that I lived there...and, well, that’s when we met!

To be clear, I did not meet this guy and fall "head over heels." It wasn’t like that at all! I liked him! We became friends. As a foreigner, I appreciated his friendship and it made my acclimation that much easier. I never really "decided" to stay longer. I just sorta lingered!

6. Three years is a long time to stay somewhere for someone, who you say is an "unrequited love." What indications did he give you that he was in "love" with you too? Why do you feel it took three years to realize it was time to go home? What was the moment that made you say, "It's time to go"? First, I agree! It was a ridiculously long time to stay! I mean, besides him, I was enjoying every aspect of being in Rome. It lives up to everything you hear about it: gorgeous, magical.. "eternal!" So, the backdrop helped me stay stationary…for sure. I guess my answer is: Everything happened so slowly. It took time for my emotions and feelings to catch up with the friendship that already existed. I won’t say too much more because it’s pretty well-illustrated in the play. Oh and, in terms of leaving, the play is very specific about what happens and why I finally check out! Besides, Adam, you are going to be there May 9th! I want you to have an unfettered experience.

Joe Gulla, Photo Credit: Jeffrey Hornstein7. As an out gay man, what was it like being in a country that was so closeted? Adam, it is just horrible…and ridiculous. I was shocked!

8. When did you decide this experience should be made into a play? What did you learn about your time in Rome writing this play that you didn't know going through it? That’s easy! While I was there, I became friends with an Irish painter. She was a lesbian and she spoke English. Both of these facts were a huge relief to me. I would spend my nights hanging out with the bartender/owner and I would spend my days gossiping and bonding with her. As months went by and the drama heightened, she would often say, "Joe, this is a play!" When I returned home, I sat down and wrote it! I loved the concept of telling a fully wrought story by simply juxtaposing two ongoing, yet separate, dialogues.

In terms of what I learned creating the play….Well, I didn’t learn much when I first wrote it. I just regurgitated my experience. I was "fresh" from it. But, when we started rehearsals, my director and my fellow actors had a million (understandable!) questions. This forced me (on a daily basis!) to relive it. Full on, intense therapy, Adam! Not fun! It is interesting because there are still a lot of questions unanswered.

We were rehearsing with our current cast last night. Kate Greer plays "Anne," the Irish painter. Aristotelis Ambatzidis plays "Ario," the sexy owner of GARBO! Adam, wait until you see the shocking amount of talent these guys possess! They are spectacular! Anyway, we were working through the script as a group and, once again, I found myself learning new things about what went down back in Rome. I mean, this was literally last night! Thankfully, the emotional stakes are lower for me these days! It’s a freakin’ relief…but, I promise, the impassioned potency of the material is strong as ever!

Joe Gulla, Photo Credit: Michael Arthur9. After GARBO, you have another project already coming up called GAY.PORN.MAFIA, a collection of your award-winning, nationally produced plays. What made you want to name this collection of your work GAY.PORN.MAFIA? Ah, yes, and how lovely to have a project that is completely separate from my personal life! Ha! Keep in mind, my autobiographical monologues (THE BRONX QUEEN TRILOGY) and GARBO are what’s been keeping me busy these days. GAY.PORN.MAFIA is a lot of crazy fun! Yeah, there’s heart and layers, but we are going for some big laughs! The name derives from the simple fact that each of the six plays contains at least two of following themes: GAY, PORN and/or MAFIA. For instance, one of the plays, REEL WOOD, is about a gay married couple who are forced to live in the basement of their Hollywood home because the rest of their house has been rented to a straight porn production company! Fastidious gay men descended upon by straight porn stars, Adam! Ha! Chaos ensues!

10. Since this collection is called GAY.PORN.MAFIA. if you were to star in a gay porn movie, what do you think your porn name would be? "Moby Dick," of course!

11. How does one transition from porn to this next semi-serious question? I don't know, so I will just ask it. 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? First, I would like to be able to swipe my Metro Card once, as opposed to the three or four times it takes me to get that damn turnstile to unlatch. If I can get one percent better at doing that, I would be be a much more calm, affable and content subway rider.

Second, I am firm believer in the "pay it forward" movement! I am that corny guy who buys a latte for the lady behind me on line at Starbucks! And um, yes, that is ME receiving her suspicious/awkward/nervous glance when I do it.! We all have the power to be positive. I suggest being bold, being creative and being direct…be DYNAMIC in putting that positive energy out there!

I mean, I read someone’s Blog, Twitter and Instagram who does this ALL OF THE TIME….yep, I call him…ADAM!!!! Thank you for dialing me up, my friend!

Joe Gulla, Photo Credit: Jeffrey HornsteinMore on Joe:

Joe Gulla is an American playwright, actor and reality television participant. He is best known for the autobiographical monologues that he writes and performs for the theater. His best known work, Bronx Queen Trilogy is based on his experience growing up as a gay boy in the Bronx.

The Bronx Queen, first in the series, won the 2016 Downtown Urban Arts Festival "Audience Award" for Joe's sold-out performance at Joe's Pub at The Public Theater. The Bronx Queen was also awarded Best Comedic Script and Most Popular Show at NYC Theater Row's 2012 and 2013 United Solo Theatre Festival, respectively.

Faggy at 50, second in the series, was awarded Best One-Man Show at NYC Theater Row's 2014 United Solo Theatre Festival.

Daddy, the series' final installment had its World Premiere at NYC Theater Row's 2015 United Solo Theatre Festival. Joe won the 2015 United Solo Award for Best Comedian for his performance.

His play Garbo was based on an unrequited love affair experienced while living in Rome, Italy. Garbo was selected to be part of the New York City's Times Square International Theater Festival in 2012. He played the role of "Frankie" in Off-Broadway's long-running hit, My Big Gay Italian Wedding.

REEL WOOD, a short play written by Joe, had its World Premiere at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June 2015. It was also selected by NYC's Village Playwrights to be performed in their "Re-Inventing Family" series commemorating Gay Pride.

Joe's play, Knock Off!, had its world premiere in Houston, TX at Theatre Southwest. 

Christmas Caroline, Joe's newest comedy had its World Premiere at Studio C Theatre, Hollywood, CA in November 2015. His play, Gayfever had its World Premiere at the Funky Little Theatre Company in March 2016. Sleeping With The Fish by Joe Gulla opened the Village Playwrights' "Gay Pride and Prejudice" series in June 2016.

In June 2016, Joe's play, Fall and Rise had its World Premiere at the Carrolwood Player's "One Act Weekend" in Tampa, Florida. Later that month, Fall and Rise premiered at the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Fall and Rise was awarded "Best Play" in 2016 at the Acadia University Mini Fest in Nova Scotia, CN.

The Advocate named Gulla its "Anti-Bullying Hero" in 2012.

Joe was a contestant on the NBC adventure reality series Lost in 2001. The show followed three teams of two as they made their way from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia back to the United States.

Thursday
Apr202017

Call Answered: Rising actor Will Van Moss

Will Van MossFor most of my interviews, I Call and the artist answers. Every now and then the roles get reversed and an artist calls me and I Answer. That was the case with Will Van Moss. He was looking to get some exposure for his acting and one of his teachers Bobby Cronin recommended he write me to see if we could do an interview. Well, whenever Bobby Cronin calls, I ANSWER because Bobby is the best (I mean after all he wrote my incredible "Call Me Adam" theme song!) I am so thrilled to get to speak with Will about his acting career so early on!

For more on Will be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? No one personally inspired me to become a performer. I kind of just fell into it and had a natural tendency towards being one. Neither of my parents are artsy people nor was anyone in my family busy making art when I was young. I just remember putting on these little shows with my sisters, from time to time when we were kids. I also loved singing a lot when I was a child and my parents pushed for a musical education, so it became logical to join a choir at the age of seven or eight. Two years into being part of this regional choir, my mom encouraged me to audition for the children’s choir of the National Flemish Opera. I got accepted, singing "This Little Light of Mine" funnily enough. Through the opera I then developed a passion for the theatrical. I just loved acting out scenes and singing on that humongous stage (it seemed so big at the time at least). I always enjoyed watching movies too, which I can now see has pushed me to do more on-camera work more recently.

I have several idols that I look up to though. Actors such as Meryl Streep, Neil Patrick Harris, Dame Judi Dench, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Anne Hathaway, Kevin Spacey, Wes Bently and more recently such incredibly strong performers as Viola Davis, Tom Hiddleston, Sarah Paulson and Jake Gyllenhaal (just to name a few) have inspired me to become more open in my acting and dig deep into the character to give a performance that captivates the audience and pulls them into the story. Singing-wise such phenomenal performers like Jeremy Jordan, Norm Lewis, Tony Yazbeck and Andy Karl are the ones I inspire to be on the same level with at some point.

Will Van Moss, Photo Credit: Seth Hale Photography2. You have performed across a variety of genres: film, television, and theatre. What do you like about each medium? What challenges do they possess for you? Each genre has its own challenges and advantages. Most of all I just like acting alongside other people and telling a story that isn’t truly mine, but I get to live nonetheless to the fullest of my capabilities and make my own.

What I like about on-camera work is how spontaneous some of the scenes can be. You have a small rehearsal ahead of the shooting, but then most of it is about being in the moment with your scene partner. Some people say that the challenge for TV and film is waiting in a separate room or trailer before shooting a scene. Though I can agree with that statement some times, mostly I am not too bothered with it. I haven’t had to shoot a scene more than 50 times though, which I heard from other actors and directors around me can be a pain in the butt. So, maybe that will be something of a challenge, if it happens to me as I progress in my career.

As for theatre, I love almost everything about it. The interaction with the audience who are like another (silent) scene partner, the thrill of doing a live performance and the raw feelings you share with your scene partners are all so enticing. If anything goes wrong with a stage performance you have to be quick on your feet to try and fix it and bring it back to where it’s supposed to be going. That can be a challenge, but it’s an exiting one nonetheless.

Will Van Moss3. You were born in Belgium, but when you were a teenager your family moved to Italy where you fell in love with Shakespeare and Musical Theatre, specially Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray. What was it about Shakespeare that made you go, "Yes, this is what I love?" What did you relate to most about Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray? The first time I was in contact with Shakespeare I was a little boy singing in the National Flemish Opera performing the first-ever operatic production of Richard III. I didn’t think too much of it. At that point in my young career I just did what I was asked to do and sang my lines with much gusto. Then at the age of 14 I had moved to Italy where I had to read Macbeth for my English Lit class. Shakespeare just took me in straight away; the man has a knack for captivating me and dragging me into another world through his luxurious words and enchanting poetry. I quickly read a bunch of his other plays (Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest) and I was hooked. Soon after this I started performing in Shakespeare pieces with a theatre company and became completely spellbound; getting to put actions and movement to the scenes made all his pieces spring to life from the paper and ink. From then on I knew I was going to love performing Shakespeare forever.

For musical theatre it was indeed Hairspray that hooked me, as well as watching Little Shop of Horrors and The Phantom of the Opera. Hairspray had such a strong message of unity in diversity and it tells a story of the civil rights movement that we must never forget. Seeing the cast dance, sing and act out scenes while making such an important and powerful message come across blew me away. I wanted to do what they were capable of doing.

For Little Shop of Horrors it was mostly just the entertaining aspect and the style that drew me in, but also the message that comes with it; "If you keep feeding something that isn’t good for you or the people around you, things will go drastically wrong." I knew I wanted to perform in musicals thanks to these movies, but sadly at the age I discovered them my voice was changing so much that I sounded like a drowning sea lion when I tried to sing. You can imagine how traumatic that is for a teenager who had sung in Tosca less than a year earlier. Ultimately my voice only settled when I had just finished high school and that’s when musical theatre came storming into my life.

Will Van Moss4. Then at 18 you moved to London to pursue a degree in science and continue acting. Then you moved to NYC for film and musical theatre acting. First question is how do you feel all this moving around has shaped you and made you a better actor? Secondly, did you finish your science degree? If so, what do you love about science? If not, why did acting win out? Moving to different countries has made me a more open human being and actor I like to believe. You enter a new environment and a new type of society where dynamics are different every time you move somewhere new. This has made it easier to be open and accept new things, but it also has made me more adaptable. I developed one thing I hate though from hanging with different people and moving around; prejudice people. I have lived with different types of people from different nationalities, and through it all they taught me that the most important thing to live together is to be kind and considerate and that you should always be the understanding, curious and kind version of yourself who doesn’t care too much what people, other than the ones that are rooting for you, think. It isn’t that hard to be all this when you open yourself up to new experiences and environments.

As for my science degree, I did finish it; in three years nonetheless. My parents made me get a "real" degree, before they would allow me to go into acting. Luckily for me, I was studying in London and there was plenty of theatre to take part in while working on my degree. I eventually finished my BSC in Infection and Immunology in 2014.

I still love science though. I regularly read up on new discoveries in all scientific fields. I am a curious guy and I know science is the only thing that gives us the ultimate truth; one that is verifiable and repeatable. It is so important to have science in our lives. Especially these days when people just slur out their opinion and think we should all accept it, without providing real evidence. There’s one thing about science that I don’t like and that was doing it myself. I didn’t have the patience and desire to sit in a lab all day. I like to be more dynamic and like to express myself too much to work silently in a lab refreshing the medium of some cell cultures (that was most of the time I spent working on my final year project…). But throughout all this, I learned to always back up my claims with evidence!

Eventually acting just won out, because it was the constant in my life that I enjoyed the most. It is all about storytelling and educating people about someone else’s life (giving them a different point of view), which is what I like doing most and feel most comfortable doing.

Will Van Moss in the recording studio5. While in NYC, you have studied with some of people I admire very much (and have all been participants on "Call Me Adam"), Bobby Cronin, Deidre Goodwin, Mark Price, and Erik Liberman (Erik has not been featured YET on "Call Me Adam," but we did perform together in Billy Mitchell's "Villain: DeBlanks" in 2016). What is one thing you learned from each of them that you will carry with you? I very much admire all four of these people. What is great about them is that they are all very passionate about their art, work hard for it and still are so very kind and human. Also once you get a chance to watch them perform, it is a magical experience!

For example, seeing Bobby Cronin behind his piano in a concert performing one of his songs is breathtaking! I will always retain a few important things from him. I actually have some of his quotes stored on my phone: "You are your own cheerleader," "Always keep learning and give it your best," "Keep pushing yourself and challenging yourself" and one of my favorites "Focus on the positive, even in a negative situation."

For Deidre Goodwin, I just love watching her do anything. She’s beauty, she’s grace and she is such a fierce woman. It’s empowering watching her do anything from acting in a movie, to seeing her dance in A Chorus Line and even directing one of the short films I was in. She’s focused and kind but can goof around and still always get things done when the time calls for it. I’ll always retain from her to keep fighting for what I want and keep practicing my art, no matter what.

Mark Price is in my top three of acting coaches I’ve worked with. He encourages me to stay curious, stay in the moment and dig deep into a character to truly embody whoever I need to play with help of my own experiences. He is also one of the coolest, most relaxed and kindest people I know.

Finally, Erik Liberman is a teacher who was capable of making me cry throughout more than half of a three-hour long class. He enabled me to push out something that was holding me back from letting go and just feel to the fullest; to be an artist. I cannot thank him enough for that. It was a semi-traumatic experience, but it has changed me for life in a good way. He is also one of the kindest humans I know, is so involved in the arts community and incredibly passionate about whatever he does. Getting to watch him shine on Broadway in War Paint was an experience I will never forget. He just knows how to portray a character in depth, while still putting in some bits and pieces of himself, the way that only great actors can do.

As you can see, all these people have in common that they are kind and are passionate about their art. I inspire so much to be like them!

6. Let's talk about one of your films, The Ghosts of Ethan Dean. First off, what made you want to be part of this short film? I got to work with the director, Chad Larabee, before when we worked on Chess at the John Cullum Theatre. He is a hard working, talented and lovable man who deeply cares about his projects and is intensely involved in them. Having that previous work experience with him and knowing how he is as a director and human being, really made me want to work with him again. When I was presented with the story, I immediately became intrigued. It’s all about mental health after a traumatic experience and feeling stuck because of it. This was a story I deeply wanted to tell alongside all the other incredible actors in our cast.

7. The Ghosts of Ethan Dean is about a young artist who battles the ghosts of his past. While you don't play the artist in the movie, what is a ghost from your past that you still battle? I didn’t get to play the young artist, indeed, but got to be another lead in the film instead; his boyfriend, "Kyle."

I don’t get "haunted" by ghosts from my past, like "Ethan" does in the film, but I would be ignorant to say that the past has no effect on me. Things that have happened before constantly affect us. Just look at what is happening in the Middle East right now for example. I don’t think I really "battle" with things from my past though. Instead I prefer to let them have an effect on me and deal with possible problems in the moment. I have done things I regret in the past and deal with the consequences when they present themselves, rather than pretending things never happened. One thing I do regret though is not pushing to have done more musical theatre when I was going through my awkward teenage years, but then again, I might have become a completely different person if I had.

Will Van Moss8. On your Instagram, your tag line is "Will Van Moss NYC trilingual Actor, Singer, Model from Europe Spreading kindness, art, beauty and knowledge!" How are you spreading kindness and knowledge? Are people catching what you are spreading? To me kindness and knowledge are the most important things for people to live together in a well-functioning society. These two things are also crucial for any kind of artist. You have got to stay informed and stay kind, no matter what you do! There is no excuse for ignorance in the age of the internet!

I always hope, while being entertained, that my audience becomes a little kinder and a little more understanding of other people’s lives or their own by the end of a show or film I was performed in. I hope that the stories I tell through my art make them a better, more curious and compassionate person.

9. What is something in your career you hope to accomplish? (then I will hold you to looking back at this interview after you achieve it to remind you that you put it out there so early on). I will say something I said in another interview I have recently done and that is that winning or even just being nominated for a Tony Award or Drama Desk Award for acting in a play on Broadway will be the point for me where I know I have reached all of my dreams. Of course I won’t say no to getting an Academy Award or Emmy (or being nominated for it). Those will also very much do, but there is something about getting an approval that you are doing a great job in live theatre that is the cherry on top of every actor’s pie, I believe. Most of all though I think what I truly want to accomplish most is being successful (making a living and a good name for myself) in doing what I love, acting alongside great actors and working with phenomenal, passionate creative teams and crews.

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 better every day? I actually have a list of priorities on my wall that I try to commit to every day. One of them like you is getting fitter and bulk up, which is slowly but surely improving, though I would like to push a little harder on that. Every day as well I try to improve my acting by reading a play, doing a monologue (or learning a new one I found) or by watching some outstanding acting on a series or movie as well as trying to improve my singing. All in all there is something I try to commit to every single day to improve my life and to get me where I want to be.

Every day, one percent better than the day before.

Will Van Moss, Photo Credit: Lucid VOFMore on Will:

Will Van Moss is an upcoming Belgian actor living in New York. He aspires to be able to make a living doing what he loves to do most; acting. Will has performed in a large variety of shows in Europe and the States and hopes to be able to keep working in this incredible country.

Will started performing at a young age in the children’s choir of the Flemish Opera doing such grand productions as Carmen, Rinaldo, and the first ever production of Richard III. In the middle of his teenage years he moved to Italy with his family where he finally discovered theatre and musicals. Will soon became hooked on Shakespeare and musicals such as Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray. He performed in The Benvenuto Theater Company in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Aladdin the Pantomime and A Dog’s Life.

At the age of 18, Will moved to London to pursue a degree in science while also broadening further his horizons in the acting world. He played in Guys and Dolls, Romeo & Juliet, A Chorus Line, Footloose and two spectacular dance shows in college. He also performed critical roles in semi-professional shows such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Avenue House and Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013, which was highly rated by all critics who saw the show!

Will then moved to New York to study musical theatre and acting on camera. Here he performed in such shows as Chess and Carousel, the later in which he was one of the leading characters; "Jigger." Will also developed an enormous passion for acting on camera and ever since he has been the lead in two independent films already over his two years living in New York. Both films, The Ghosts of Ethan Dean and DECEPTUS will soon hit some film festivals in the United States. 

Will recently performed in two theater pieces as well; Kiss it, Make it Better a piece created by upcoming writer/director Erika Phoebus and Revel’s End: A Tempest Dance Party, in which he played the lead, "Ferdinand." Will is currently working on an incredibly thrilling short web series, Psychadelic, as one of the lead characters and hopes to continue to progress in this business here in the United States where he can pursue his passion to the fullest.