Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

    

"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Barbra Streisand (9)

Wednesday
Jun072017

Call Answered: Billy Lykken: The 'Sacred Monster' Live NYC Gay Pride Weekend at The Metropolitan Room

Who can resist a DIVA? From their demeanor to their talent to their wardrobe, I always keep up with my girls. I'm so glad to have the opportunity to interview Billy Lykken who is returning to the Metropolitan Room during NYC Gay Pride weekend for an encore presentation of his show Lykken 'The Sacred Monster' Live, which is an alt-cabaret experience featuring Billy's queer brand of comedy and outrageous parody, as well as his interpretations of songs ranging from Broadway, R&B, Jazz, and Tin Pan Alley.

Billy takes his audiences on a hyper-emotional journey of song, eyelash, and pizzazz filtered through the soul of an often heartbroken, but never bitter, sequined songstress whose eccentricities and self-destructive behavior are overshadowed by an all-consuming need to please the faithful masses.

Lykken 'The Sacred Monster' Live will play The Metropolitan Room on Saturday, June 24 at 4pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Billy be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Judy, Liza, Barbra, Bette, these are names I can't forget! My favorite albums growing up were live diva concerts, Barbra Streisand - A Happening in Central Park, Patti Labelle Live at the Apollo, Judy at Carnegie Hall of course. Honey, I wore them out! I think I was attracted to their larger than life personas and a hyper-emotional way of singing. I would lip-sync to them in my bedroom and sort of become them in my fantasy. So that's what this show is, me acting out my childhood fantasy and letting my inner diva out.

Billy Lykken2. This June, for Gay Pride weekend, you are returning to the Metropolitan Room for an encore performance of your show Lykken 'The Sacred Monster' Live. What are you looking forward to most about performing during Gay Pride Weekend in NYC? I'm singing my version of Nina Simone's "Mississippi Goddam." Talk about a Sacred Monster! This year's Pride is different for me, and I think it's different for most LGBTQ people. I'm angry, afraid, energized, amused. It's my protest song but with a funny twist, and it's cathartic.

3. Why do you call yourself the "Sacred Monster"? "Sacred Monster” is an old term for an eccentric diva who's maybe a bit "too much" or a little needy, but is so talented and electrifying that it just adds to the mystique for her worshipping fans. The character I play is sort of delusional about her own legend. It's tongue in cheek, but at the end of the day I want make you laugh, and cry, and walk out feeling like something happened to you.

4. In this show you take the audience on a hyper-emotional journey of song, eyelash, and pizzazz filtered through the soul of an often heartbroken, but never bitter, sequined songstress whose eccentricities and self-destructive behavior are overshadowed by an all-consuming need to please the faithful masses. What has been your most hyper-emotional life moment thus far? Working that stage at Metropolitan Room! I throw down like my sacred monster mothers taught me.

Billy Lykken5. Why are you often heartbroken, but never bitter? All artists are vulnerable people because they have to be. It's a curse and an asset. I find bitter people are not vulnerable.

6. What do you think is your biggest eccentricity? I get obsessed with things, or people. Like if I see some Liza Minnelli performance on Youtube that I love, I'll watch it a hundred times, and memorize every moment. Or I'll start on some hobby, like baking bread. I'll bake a million loaves of bread and then just stop one day and drop it completely.

7. With your eyelashes and sequins on, what has been your flashiest, most diva inspiring moment? I have crazy bolero arrangement of "My Way" that I used to do. It's a self-congratulatory, presumptuous song to sing in the first place. Perfect for a Sacred Monster. Come to think of it, maybe I'll put it back in the show.

Billy Lykken8. When you are in your dressing room before the show, as you are putting your make-up on, what is going through your head? And after the show, what goes through your head when you take your make-up off? As I'm putting my makeup on I'm trying to get into the feeling of the character, looking in the mirror giving fierce face and saying "Yaaaas I look fabulous." She's a legend in her own mind and I want to tap into that energy before I hit the stage. I'm not a flashy person in real life so the makeup and sequins help me get there. The show takes a lot of energy, so I think I must seem like an insane person when people meet me after because my whole body is still buzzing. I can't just drop it when I get offstage.

9. Your performance has been compared to the likes of Tallulah Bankhead and Eartha Kitt. What was your reaction to this comparison? How did these two artists influence your style? Well that's a compliment and I'm humbled by that because those women were geniuses and goddesses to me and certainly did influence the show. I sing Eartha's Japanese version of "Come-on-a My House" and it's outrageous! Do you know she sang in seven languages? French, Hebrew, Tagalog. And Tallulah had that hilarious deadpan humor and wit. And an underrated actress too, watch Lifeboat.

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 sing everyday because it makes me happy and I can feel myself getting better at it all the time. Repetition baby!

Thursday
May112017

Call Answered: Haley Swindal: "Golden Girl" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Lance RaeI'm so glad Will Nunziata introduced me to Broadway powerhouse Haley Swindal. Her vocals are unreal and I can already tell she's going to blow the roof off of Feinstein's/54 Below when she returns with her new show Golden Girl.

Golden Girl is a brand-new concert event celebrating the music of an era that her heart and soul were born in – The Golden Age. With influences ranging from Rosemary Clooney to Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, Haley puts her own stamp on songs that made these great dames stars. Haley will knock-out-of-the-park standards such as "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Don’t Rain on My Parade," and "Cry Me A River," all with fresh arrangements by musical director to the stars Tedd Firth (Michael Feinstein, Ana Gasteyer, Brian Stokes Mitchell). Conceived and directed by Will Nunziata (concert director for Tony Award winner Lillias White), this is an evening that will have you laughing, crying, and tapping your feet all within a matter of minutes, and a true showbiz event where a brand-new star is born.

Golden Girl plays Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Tuesday, May 30 at 7pm and Tuesday, June 6 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets! 

For more on Haley be sure to follow her on Twitter!

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

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Takako Suki Harkness1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer (other than Rosemary Clooney, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand)? Singing was always in me. From the time I could walk, I was singing down the halls and driving my parents crazy. It was never a choice for me - it was in my blood, which is very funny because no one else in my immediate family is in the arts at all! I used to stand at the top of the stairs in our house and pretend to be "Eva Peron." My brother thought I was nuts (he still does). When I was about eight years old, I remember my mom took me to see a production of Hello Dolly with Carol Channing, and I remember thinking, WOW, I want to do that!

2. This May/June you return to Feinstein's/54 Below with your brand-new show Golden Girl, celebrating the music of an era that her heart and soul were born in – The Golden Age. What are you looking forward to about coming back to Feinstein's/54 Below? I always said I only want to come back with these shows when I have something to add, something to share, a story to tell. The two times I have played here have marked major events in my life: my Broadway debut for the first one, and getting married the second one. Those first shows were similar, but were both kind of about where I came from and what its taught me.

This show is something entirely different. First of all, not only have I done a lot more great roles, I have more importantly lived a lot more of life. I am married to an amazing guy, and I'm a stepmom to two awesome teenagers. I also have a new boss, who is eleven months old, my amazing daughter - Lily George Tantleff.

This show is really a concert meets one-woman show. I do everything from singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" as Judy, Liza, Patti, Billie Burke, and Bernadette Peters to stripping down to the bottom of my soul with some amazing torch songs.

I am thrilled to be back because this is a whole new side of me, a whole new journey, and I hope one that might surprise and excite people.

Director Will Nunziata3. Golden Girl is directed by Will Nunziata. Will, primarily known as a singer with his brother Anthony Nunziata, has been making quite a name for himself as a director over the past several years. What was it about Will's style/vision that made you say, "He is whom I want to direct my show."? Will has been on my radar for a very long time. We first met in Michael Feinstein's apartment about four years ago, where Michael had a bunch of young folks over to talk about the future of the Great American Songbook and how the torch would be passed to our generation.

I followed him as he created amazing shows for Cady Huffman, Lillias White, and other incredible divas. It was Will that came up with the vision for this show. His concepts and his ideas are brilliant. The way he is able to bring out things in me and get me to burst out of my comfort zone is unreal. He gravitates I think towards strong women - women who can't really be put in any particular kind of stereotypical, run of the mill box. He takes their strength and what makes them unique and turns it into something brilliant. His concepts, his vision, and his ability to communicate, nurture, and bring out the best in those he directs is incredible. He is and will continue to be one of the greatest directors of our generation.

Haley Swindal4. What is about this time in music that makes your heart a flutter? I often sit around and wonder, what will our generation be listening to when they are eighty? The generation ahead of us has the Beatles, Carole King, Carly Simon. When we were younger, we had Whitney, Celine. But will this generation be turning on Britney Spears? Eminem? Single Ladies? 

What I love about the Great American Songbook is so many songs are literally transcendent of time. How many of us have been madly in love and connected to the lyrics of "Night and Day," "Whether near to me or far, it's no matter darling where you, are I think of you." How many of us have been heartbroken and can relate to Frank Sinatra alone in a bar at 3AM singing "One for My Baby," "It's quarter to three, There's no one in the place 'cept you and me, So set 'em' up Joe."

I fell in love with my husband when he sang, "I only have eyes for you" badly (but endearingly) in my ear. These songs are masterpieces that capture the complexity of love and what it is to be human. As I grow older, I connect with them even more.

5. According to press notes, Rosemary Clooney, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand were some of your influences. What was it about these entertainers that made you go, "Yes! I want to be like them."? Judy Garland always said "Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else." What I think I loved - and continue to love - about these women besides their other-wordly vocals is that they were/are originals. They were unabashedly and unapologetically themselves. Their sound was distinctive, the way they approached their art was distinctive, and what they have given us is something no one else can ever come to close to because it is so uniquely them.

Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, Cady Huffman, and Bernadette Peters are some of these women on the Broadway stage. 

The women I admire can transform themselves into incredible roles onstage, but, as human beings, they are unapologetically strong, which isn't always easy as a woman in this business. Onstage, they can be heartbreakingly vulnerable. It's an amazing duality, to be strong and vulnerable at the same time, and one that I admire. I think, so much of this business is how we fit. Fit someone else's vision, fit someone else's vocal styles, even fit someone else's costume. These women somehow transcend that. As for me, I guess I've just grown tired of trying to fit into a box. I'm a brassy blonde broad who has packed a lot of life into my first thirty years. That's my truth.

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff6. What songs that you are performing do you think will surprise people to hear from you? There's one where I'm lying on a piano....

7. A few songs you will be performing are "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Don’t Rain on My Parade," and "Cry Me A River." Let's play with these song titles. When have you said to yourself, "Come Rain or Come Shine," I'm going to do this? HA! For better or for worse, all the time! "Come Rain or Come Shine," I guess probably in my love life in the past. Wanting so desperately to be loved, perhaps by someone incapable of loving...but trying to convince them.

"Cry Me a River" is realizing I'm going to be okay whether or not this person loves me. That the only person I need to live and be fulfilled is me.

"Don't Rain On My Parade" is a celebration of what it means to spill out everything you have, no matter what the cost might be, because you don't want to spend the rest of your life wondering "what if?" To me, this applies to choosing to creae solo shows, and challenging myself, and also following my heart in other ways.

8. When did you think, oh please, "Don't Rain on My Parade"? HA that was Will. I was thrilled. At first, I thought, really? But, then I realized why not, it's my truth? It's part of a medley, which I think has a really neat arc.

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: The New York Times9. What event has caused you to cry like a river? I think the sadness of that song is realizing that sometimes love is not enough. The tragedy of still being madly in love with someone but the strength to put your well-being first and not allow that person to destroy you. I was there once. It took a long while, but I figured it out, and my life is richer for it. And I can sing one hell of a torch song!

10. Since this show is celebrating The Golden Age, what, age or age bracket has been your "Golden Age" so far? Why has it been so rich? Oh my goodness, NOW! I am just entering my thirties, young enough to still know what's fun, and old enough to know better. Just kidding! Undoubtedly though, meeting and marrying my husband and becoming a mother changed everything for me. I remember leaving my first Broadway performance and crying when I got home because I had been so tunnel-visioned that I had no one to share it with. Any part of my life other than work was completely absent. That changed. My daughter is the most amazing thing that ever happened to me and has put everything else in perspective. If I don't get anything else right in this life, I somehow built a perfect little human, and, to me, that alone is enough! 

11. I know the show's title, "Golden Girl," is for the Golden Age of music, but we are going to take this to the Golden Girls themselves. If you had to describe yourself as one of the Golden Girls who would you be? I'm still obsessed with that show! My best friend and I used to spend all weekend watching Golden Girls marathons (she's "Sophia" re-incarnated!) As for me, I look at the world through "Rose"-colored glasses for sure, but I definitely am flirty and fun like "Blanche."

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Takako Suki HarknessMore on Haley:

Haley has appeared on Broadway and on tour with Jekyll and HydeWhite ChristmasJesus Christ Superstar opposite Ted Neeley, and at Lincoln Center in The Secret Garden. She has performed in concert at Carnegie Hall alongside the great standards vocalist Steve Tyrell, acclaimed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, and under the baton of Steven Reineke with the New York Pops. She won a New York Emmy for her appearance on Kids on Deck and recently appeared in the film Walt Before Mickey.

Tuesday
Oct252016

Call Redialed: Nick Cearley: Buyer & Cellar at Bucks County Playhouse

Nick CearleyAs I mentioned a few weeks ago (in my interview with Trey Gerrald about Buyer & Cellar at Cape May Stage), I adore this show! Jonathan Tolins has written a terrific play. I can't wait to see Nick Cearley, whom I adore, play this role at Bucks County Playhouse next month. Nick had been on my radar for a few years, but it wasn't until he was starring in Bucks County Playhouse's 2013 production of Rocky Horror that I finally got the chance to interview him and the rest of the cast. That production, solidified my admiration for Nick and my love for Bucks County Playhouse.

What a great 360 moment now to interview Nick yet again about another show he's doing at Bucks County Playhouse. Buyer & Cellar is a hilarious play about an underemployed actor working for Barbra Streisand. It will play Bucks County Playhouse (70 South Main Street New Hope, PA 18938) from November 5-26. Click here for tickets!

For more on Nick be sure to follow him on TwitterInstagram, and at http://www.theskivviesnyc.com!

For more on Bucks County Playhouse visit http://bcptheater.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

1. This November you are starring in Bucks County Playhouse's productioin of Jonathan Tolins' outrageous comedy Buyer & Cellar. As someone who has performed at Bucks County Playhouse before (in their 2013 production of Rocky Horror), what do you enjoy most about performing there? Why will Bucks County audiences fall in love with this show? Bucks County Playhouse is one of my favorite places ever to work. The town of New Hope is addictive. The 2013 production of Rocky Horror was actually my first time there and this marks my 6th show there. I did all the Rocky Horrors under Hunter Foster’s brilliance as "Brad," Plaid Tidings directed by Gordon Greenberg, The Skivvies, and A Tribute to Angela Lansbury with Hal Prince and the Dame herself! And now Buyer & Cellar! I was supposed to be "Brad" again this year in Rocky Horror and it conflicted with Little Shop of Horrors so I unfortunately had to withdraw. But, when that was a "thing" my husband joked that for those two months, they were going to change the name of the playhouse to "Nick’s County Playhouse!" hahah.

I have fallen in love with Bucks County and Buyer & Cellar and I think my love for both of those things will be apparent to the audiences who come see our funny little show.

Nick Cearley as "Alex More" in Jonathan Tolins' "Buyer & Cellar" at B Street Theatre, Photo Credit: Lynnae Vana2. Buyer & Cellar is a show you have been performing for almost two years around the country. How do you keep the role of "Alex" and the show fresh for yourself? This is my fifth production of Buyer & Cellar (though because of conflicts, it would be my eighth that I have booked!). I have done the show in Sacramento, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Key West, and unfortunately had to withdraw from Provincetown, Cape May, and Columbia, Maryland.

What helps to keep it fresh is that I actually enjoy telling this story. It isn’t like I am doing a show for the sake of getting the role in a play. It is a story I am in love with telling. And, it is very unique in that it is based on a real place and a real person but the protagonist in which I play and the circumstances are all fiction. And I think that is the perfect marriage of creative writing and real life.

Also, I have been lucky to have a different director with each production I have done. This isn’t a tour by any means, even though, it feels like one sometimes. They have all been stand alone productions that are regional premieres per the theatre I have booked the job. So with that comes a different director and a different set of eyes. It is sort of the actor’s dream to get to take all the information from all the different eyeballs and use everyones opinion. It has further validated when it comes to making choices on stage, there are so many possibilities.

3. What initially made you want to star in this show and how do you feel you have grown in this role as you have performed it over time? I remember when I saw this show in previews with Michael Urie, I said to him afterwards, "Oh, I will do this show." And then I called different theatres I have worked for and not worked for and said, "Please do this show so that I can get my hands on it." Literally, that’s what I did. It is a dream. I think I am different now doing the show as opposed to the first production because I am not thinking about "what comes next?" anymore. It is so in my bones that I just have a ball talking to hundreds of strangers a night and hearing THEM (who really are the other character in the show) react to the circumstances for the first time. It really fuels how I play each moment.

Nick Cearley as "Alex More" in Jonathan Tolins' "Buyer & Cellar" at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Photo Credit: Ryan Kurtz4. What do you relate to most about "Alex"? What is one characteristic of his you wish you had? I relate to a time about 10 years ago when I didn’t know where and how I was going to make ends meet. Working odd jobs. Living week to week. Most actors go through that. The "in-between" times. I have been so lucky the past few years, but it is always a thing with actors, "what’s next?" And this job "Alex" has in the basement of Barbra’s house is his "in-between" time.

More so, I relate to the feeling of doing this show with a sense of loneliness. The show deals with someone who spends a lot of time operating on her own terms and in a world with things and circumstances that are normally not obtainable by the common person going through life. Therefore, she feels very alone operating on that level because it isolates her. The coincidence is that I feel that way when doing a one person show because there isn’t another person or other cast members to talk about your day at work with. I talk to strangers all night in a theatre, just me, it ends, and I am energized and "up" and want to talk about the work day with someone who went through it with me. But there isn’t anyone. So, at Bucks County, luckily, they are pet friendly and Pippa, my 2 year old Brussels Griffon will be in my dressing room to greet me after every performance. She has done every production of Buyer & Cellar with me for these very reasons. And though she is probably tired of hearing the same damn story, it helps me decompress after the show to have the companionship of my little girl.

Nick Cearley, his husband Eric Lesh, and Pippa, their Brussels Griffon, Photo Credit: Augusten BurroughsEric Lesh and Nick Cearley at Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA5. As a result of "Alex" working for Barbra Streisand, tension is created between "Alex" and his boyfriend." As an actor yourself, who's married, but travels a lot for work, how do you deal with the stress/tension this kind of schedule can put on a relationship? On the flip side, what is the most supportive & eye-wetting thing Eric has done for you on one of your opening nights? My husband Eric and I have been together 17 years. Married for four. At this point, he knows the drill. For doing a show at Bucks County, he is also as in love with the city as I am so whenever there's something appropriate I can do at the Playhouse, I always try to make it a priority because I know how much we both like to be there together. It is only about an hour away from where we live and it is a little getaway for us. So he comes down on all weekends. We have even spent weekend vacations in Bucks County when I am not working there. We love it that much.

It is a little more difficult when a plane ride is involved. For example, I just finished Little Shop of Horrors at Portland Center Stage in Oregon. Eric flew out for closing because he dreaded that six hour commute! And then he did a whirlwind travel with me where we flew from there to Chicago overnight so that I could do a Skivvies concert the next day. Then he came to a photo shoot the next morning there and we spent the evening seeing Lauren (my Skivvies co-creator) in her show Wonderful Town at The Goodman Theatre. He was exhausted by it all and I think surprised how easy it is for me to hop around like that.

I remember when Eric came to see me as "Dennis" in All Shook Up for the first time in the first national tour, he had to bring a complete change of clothes because he was so nervous for me, he sweat through his outfit. I think more nervous than I actually was. I love that we are each others cheerleaders. Eric and I went to theatre school together and he graduated two years ahead of me but then decided to go to law school and now he is a lawyer at Lambda Legal. So, though we aren’t in the same business, he has the background to get it and it is easy to talk to him about aspects of my jobs.

Nick Cearley as "Alex More" in Jonathan Tolins' "Buyer & Cellar" at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, Photo Credit: Ryan Kurtz6. In Buyer & Cellar, "Alex" actually gets to have a real moment with Barbra. If you could have a few moments alone with Barbra Streisand, what would you talk about? Politics. Especially this week and next week!  We have a performance on election night. And though I don’t think Barbra Streisand would ever ever ever ever work on election night, I think she definitely has some opinions that I would like to hear come out of her own mouth in person.

I also am fascinated by OLD Broadway. The Golden Years. What NYC was like when she was becoming a star. I would talk to her about what that was like for sure. The times we live in now are so far removed from how people used to behave even since I started out in NYC, so I want to hear about her trying to make it all those decades ago.

7. Since Buyer & Cellar is centered around Barbra Streisand, how has Barbra influenced you/your career? Well, admittedly, I was not a fan of hers growing up. Similar to how the character of "Alex More" feels about Barbra. However, my mom was a HUGE fan. She knows all the songs, all the movies, had the audio cassette in the car when I was growing up in the 80s. I knew all about Barbra because of my mom. I relate to her being her own business, not succumbing to what other people thought she should do, having a lot of opinions.

Barbra Streisand8. If you could duet with Barbra Streisand on one of her songs, which song of hers would you want to duet on? If you could have been her opening act on any of her tours, which tour would you have liked to be the opening number for? If you could re-make one of Barbra's movies, with her in it, which movie would you want to re-make? If you could cover one of Barbra's albums, which album would you make? Barbra’s cover of David Bowie’s "Life on Mars" is to be reckoned with and I am obsessed with that song. And her arrangement. So that would most definitely be the song would like to duet with her on.

I would like to have opened for her on her most recent tour because it was only 7 cities!

I would want to be in The Guilt Trip actually. A road trip comedy with Barbra Streisand as my mother would be an absolute hoot. And from what I understand, there was a lot of ad-libbing that occurred and I would love to be able to participate in some good ole fashioned improv with Mrs. S!

The first album I remember really being super familiar with was her Back to Broadway album. So, probably that one because I know her arrangements of every song on that album best. And, it was a staple in my house growing up.

Nick Cearley, Photo Credit: Lauren MolinaMore on Nick:

Nick Cearley is one half of the critically acclaimed "undie"-rock comedy duo known as The Skivvies (theskivviesnyc.com), co-created with Lauren Molina. Most recently, he completed five regional premieres of Buyer & Cellar, for which he won Best Performance by CityBeat Cincinnati. Off Broadway: "Puck" in A Midsummer Night’s DreamPageant: The Musical (Original Cast Album on Jay Records, Drama Desk nom.); and Sex Tips... Broadway/First National Tour: All Shook Up. Fave regional: Twelfth Night (dir. Scott Schwartz), Next to Normal…Trailer Park…Spelling Bee, Plaid Tidings (dir. Gordon Greenberg), and The Rocky Horror Show (dir. Hunter Foster). Williamstown Theatre Festival, Bay Street Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, American Stage Theatre Company, TheatreWorks, New York Stage and Film, York Theatre, Kimmel Center, City Theatre, Eugene O Neill Center, The Smith Center, Berkshire Theatre Group, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Stoneham Theatre, Serenbe Playhouse, Luna Stage, Diversionary Theatre, Rubicon Theatre Company, Alhambra Theatre, Bucks County Playhouse. TV pilots for Fox, WE, and A&E. Instagram/Twitter: @clearlycearley @theskivviesnyc.

Tuesday
Oct112016

Call Answered: Trey Gerrald in Jonathan Tolins' "Buyer & Cellar" at Cape May Stage

Trey GerraldI am a big fan of Jonathan Tolins' Buyer & Cellar, a hilarious play about an underemployed actor working for Barbra Streisand. I have seen two different productions of it. The original New York run starring Michael Urie and then George Street Playhouse's production which starred Avenue Q's Tony nominee John Tartaglia. It is such a well written show that no matter who plays the part, it's going to be a hit! Which brings us to Trey Gerrald, who will be starring in Cape May Stage's production of Buyer & Cellar this fall. I have enjoyed seeing Trey on Netflix's Orange is the new Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, TV Land's Younger, the CW's The Carrie Diaries and in Zachary Halley's short film Grind.

It's so exciting to get to interview Trey about one of my favorite plays which was inspired by one of the world's greatest entertainers! Buyer & Cellar will play Cape May Stage from October 19-November 18 (405 Lafayette Street, Cape May, NJ 08204). Click here for tickets!

For more on Trey be sure to visit http://www.trey-gerrald.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

1. This fall you are starring in Cape May Stage's production of Buyer & Cellar, a hilarious play about an under-employed actor working in the basement of Barbra Streisand's home. What made you want to star in this show? What are you looking forward to about performing it at Cape May Stage? I was fortunate to see the original star, Michael Urie's, invited dress at the Barrow Street Theatre and was mesmerized. I suppose if I'm being completely honest, multiple times in my career I've found myself in for roles where casting is seeking a "Michel Urie type actor" so clearly I've decided to study his path. I guess on one hand that was part of it, "if I can put it on my resume, it can secure that branding for myself as a performer." But truly the reason I sought out opportunities to audition for the show is because it's an incredible challenge to play six characters in a 100 minute play, and the playwright, Jonathan Tolins, is a genius. The text is beyond hilarious while being incredibly moving and poignant.

I'm looking forward to the Cape May audiences joining me in the basement because they're a sophisticated crowd and when you're in a beach town, you're generally in the mood to laugh and have fun. Plus the victorian aesthetic of Cape May is right up Barbra's ally.

2. One of the show's bylines is "It’s an outrageous comedy about the price of fame, the cost of things and the oddest of odd jobs." What have you learned from the price of fame? What is one decision that cost you more than you ever thought it would? What is the oddest of odd jobs you've had? I'm obsessed with this question - it's hilarious that you're asking ME about the price of fame. I've worked with a few famous people and, so far, they've all been very kind. From what I can tell from observing them, the price of fame is a tremendous amount of wasted time posing in selfies with strangers.

I have actually received hard copy fan-mail (almost always from overseas) which is a beautiful juxtaposition to all the emails I send asking for auditions.

One decision that cost me more than I ever thought it would was once, after an audition I mistook the casting director opening the door for me as an invitation to hug her. This was almost three years ago and I've never auditioned for her since. Oops. (This is totally true and not a joke).

The oddest job I ever had was probably greeting very rich people entering a themed fundraiser dressed as Tom Hank's character from The Polar Express. I've still never seen the movie and the event planner was thoroughly (and aggressively) disappointed in my performance.

Trey Gerrald in rehearsal as "Alex" in "Buyer & Cellar" at Cape May Stage3. I have seen two different productions of Buyer & Cellar and think it's a strongly written show. What is your favorite part of the show? I totally agree. The more we work on it, the more I realize how smart Jonathan Tolins is. There are so many references layered throughout, but the way in which he incorporates them is so subtle and clever. I think "Fifi the Doll" is one of the most fun sections. The moment when "Alex" stands alone in the barn and spins around is my personal favorite, both as a viewer and also now doing the show.

4. Buyer & Cellar is a one-man show, so what is it like to rehearse a solo show? What do you enjoy about it being just you and the director during the rehearsal process? What do you miss about having other cast mates around? When I left the first day of rehearsal I felt like I had just placed bronze in a mental olympics. Being the single person speaking for seven hours of rehearsal is incredibly taxing. As the process continues, I feel my stamina building. I actually really love the fact that it's just the director, Roy Steinberg, and the assistant stage manager, Barry Marks, in the room. Instead of conferencing with cast members on breaks, I get to sit down my director and ASM. I actually got my equity card as an ASM so I feel a camaraderie there. There's a nice casual energy, like we're just pals meeting every day to discuss Barbra.

The obvious thing I miss is other people. At the moment I share an actor house with the cast of the show currently playing at Cape May, so I don't feel too lonely just yet, but once they close and I open, I will be in a six bedroom house alone...I anticipate that feeling a bit isolating.

Trey Gerrald in rehearsal as "Alex" in "Buyer & Cellar" at Cape May Stage5. With no other cast members to interact with, how do you relieve your stress when rehearsals get to be too much and you don't want to talk to the director in a particular moment? Thankfully, I am married to a wonderful human being named David who is always willing to FaceTime with me and point the phone towards our rescue dog, Winnie. I also have two incredibly talented friends who have both done Buyer & Cellar multiple times. I have been in frequent conversations with them both. I'm so thankful to them. I love you Nick Cearley and Nic Cory!

6. Your character, "Alex," is a struggling actor. What kind of struggles have you faced as an actor, aside from not getting called back or booking a job? Unlike "Alex," you have had a lot of success with acting. What has been the greatest reward of being an actor? Thanks for saying that. It's always a struggle because every job ends and you're back to needing employment. I really felt a shift in my career when I started pursuing television, that's really when a lot of success started coming my way. Before I got crystal clear with what kind of performing I most wanted to do, I was expelling a lot of energy trying to do anything and everything. I was so desperate for a job and I wasn't booking. I was waiting tables full time which left me drained and most disturbingly I didn't WANT to audition. That's when I started taking classes and focusing on TV which helped me zero in on OWNING the qualities in myself that were uniquely me. Nurturing and embracing my specific take on material unlocked a new joy and I began taking ownership of material instead of trying to "be right."

The greatest reward, in my opinion, of being an actor is not having to spend my time doing something I dread just to pay the bills.

7. There is one scene in Buyer & Cellar where your character gets to have ice cream with Barbra Streisand. If you could have ice cream with Barbra Streisand, what do you think you would talk about with her? That is such a great question. Ok, if I was sharing coffee flavored fro-yo with Babs, I would love to hear her talk about getting over the fear and anxiety that kept her from performing live for 27 years. I'd also ask if I could get a manicure with her. Duh.

Barbra Streisand8. How has Barbra Streisand inspired you and  your career? I'm similar to the character of "Alex" in the fact that I wasn't really hip to Barbra prior to working on Buyer & Cellar. I knew who she was, of course, but I didn't really know much...not even Funny Girl. But since studying her, I really am inspired by the diversity of hats she wears. Sure, there are crazy rumors and stories about her, and yes, the book My Passion For Design is incredibly over the top, but I do have a deep respect and admiration for her. She's also yet another example, that if you want to work in this business, you have to create your own opportunities.

9. Who or what inspired you to become an actor? I was (intensely) obsessed with I Love Lucy and everything Lucille Ball growing up. I recorded the whole series on VHS and would transcribe episodes and act them out in our dining room to imaginary cameras hidden in our walls. I think I always knew acting was what I wanted to do. I'm thankful to my parents for always encouraging my pursuit.

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? Being present. I spend a lot of time in my head, wondering, wishing, hoping, scheming, dreaming, & comparing. In this business there is always a new goal, a new level of achievement to strive for. I'd love to get 1% better each day at being grateful and present for each moment I'm given.

Trey GerraldMore on Trey:

Trey has recurring roles on Orange is the New Black, Hulu’s Deadbeat, NBC’s Next Caller with Jeffrey Tambor and Dane Cook, and guest starred on FX’s You’re The Worst and BET’s Comedy Get Down opposite George Lopez. Other TV includes The CW’s The Carrie Diaries, TVLand’s Younger, Steven Spielberg’s TNT series Public Morals, and Tina Fey’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Film: Todd Solondz’s Wiener-Dog (opposite Danny DeVito), Fourth Man OutCe Sentiment de l’étéGrind (with Anthony Rapp), Kate (Best Supporting Actor Award) and Carefree. Web: Abstract Poverty. Theatre: La MaMa, Florida Rep, Maine State Music Theatre, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Ogunquit Playhouse, Teatro Circulo, Theatre 54, Dixon Place, Waterfront Playhouse, and NYC’s Slanted Story Initiative (Associate Company Member). Trey assisted the UK directing team on the reimagined Les Miserables, which played Broadway. 

Monday
Apr182016

Call Redialed: Travis Moser: The Songs of Rodgers & Hart Part 2 at Feinstein's/54 Below

In 2013, Travis Moser and I sat down to discuss his show This Can't Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers & Hart, which at that time, was making its 54 Below debut! Now, three years later, Travis has not only been inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records, but he is returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with his sequel concert, The Songs of Rodgers & Hart, Part 2. Once again, Travis is teaming up with musical director Steven Silverstein and special guests Samantha Shafer (Broadway’s Rocky – The Musical, West Side Story, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, etc) and singer Laura Fraenkel (The Jersey Follettes). All proceeds will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

It was great catching up with Travis to discuss "That Terrific Rainbow" of music from Rodgers & Hart's catalog! The Songs of Rodgers & Hart, Part 2 will play at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Wednesday, May 4 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

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

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

Travis Moser at Feinstein's/54 Below1. On May 4, you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with a sequel to The Songs of Rodgers & Hart. What made you want head back to Feinstein's/54 Below with this show? I wanted to present the ULTIMATE version of the show and perform songs that we just couldn't fit in the pervious version. The thing is, if I put together my ideal ultimate version of the show, it would run about four hours and NO ONE wants to see that (including me). The complete Rodgers and Hart songbook is an embarrassment of riches. Practically every song is perfect, which is one of the many reasons their legacy lives on and why their shows and songs are still performed to this day. Also, Feinstein's/54 Below is one of my favorite NYC venues and it's the perfect setting for this type of show.

2. What is it about Rodgers & Hart's music that speaks to you so much? Richard Rodgers wrote beautiful music, which is also startlingly modern, and Lorenz Hart was one of the first popular lyricists to write the way people actually spoke. The style at the time was to write in a very flowery, poetic way and Lorenz Hart cut through all of that. It's very revolutionary. Also, like every little boy from the Western Pennsylvania/Ohio area, one of the first albums I bought with my own money was "Bobby Short Celebrates Rodgers and Hart." That was my idea of what living in NYC was: sophisticated and honest. When I was putting the setlist together, I realized that the songs of Rodgers and Hart had been a HUGE part of my life. All of my favorite artists, from Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald to Linda Ronstadt and Rickie Lee Jones, have recorded the Songs or Rodgers and Hart. In fact, I do a Streisand/Rodgers and Hart medley in the show!

3. This concert is also a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Out of all the organizations out there, why did you want to team up with BC/EFA? Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is just relentless in the BEST way possible. They are constantly finding ways to raise money to help individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS. Everyone who works for BC/EFA just cares SO much. I've been involved with Broadway Bares in a VERY peripheral way over the past few years and I am just in awe of everything this amazing organization does. I'm convinced no one that works there sleeps. I'm pretty sure they're just propped up 24/7 like Jack Haley in between takes while filming The Wizard of Oz. Plus, there is nothing more Broadway than Rodgers and Hart, so it's the perfect fit! How do they get it all done!?

4. For someone who came to your last Rodgers & Hart concert, what is one reason they should come to this new show (aside from covering other songs and your amazing talent, which should be enough)? Well, we reveal the cure for HIV and AIDS 30 mins into the show, which is pretty exciting! I'M KIDDING. Let's see...not only will you be supporting an AMAZING organization, but you'll be sipping on a cocktail and/or eating an amazing meal at the original site of Studio 54 while listening to new arrangements of some of Rodgers and Hart's best songs....what's not to love!?

Travis Moser at Feinstein's/54 Below5. One song you are singing during this show is "Manhattan." What do you love most about living in this amazing city? What do you wish the city offered that it doesn't? The ENERGY. I'm constantly filled with anxiety and nervous energy, so of course I gravitated to a city which not only matched my energy but exceeded it! Healthy? Probably not, but on good days, it's everything I dreamed of.

The city pretty much offers everything, EXCEPT a Dolly Parton themed attraction. We don't have Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, Lumberjack Adventure OR Pirates Voyage! What's that about!? Every city of note should offer at least one Dolly Parton Themed something.

6. One of your special guests is Broadway's Samantha Shafer. You and Samantha are doing a duet of "I Could Write A Book." If you wrote a book, what would you write about? Samantha is just amazing. I've known her for about 15 years at this point and she's ridiculously talented. She's currently in the national tour of Roundabout's Cabaret and her one week off is the week of the show! If I could write a book, I'd probably team up with her and ATTEMPT to write a David Sedaris style book of comedic essays about our days at Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts. It would definitely be an example of true life is stranger than fiction!

Travis Moser, Photo Credit: Fred Cohen Photography7. One other song I'm going to share you are singing is "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" When in your life have you been Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered? I'd say I was pretty bewitched, bothered and bewildered the 1st time I had a perfectly made Makers Mark bourbon old fashion cocktail. I fell pretty hard. It's SHOCKING how many established and respected bars/restaurants don't know how to make a proper old fashion cocktail. If a waiter places an old fashion cocktail in front of you and you see a muddled cherry, just get up and RUN the other direction. To me, seeing a muddled cherry is the equivalent of someone standing up and screaming "FIRE!!!!!" at the top of their lungs.

8. Rodgers and Hart were one of the most prolific songwriters of our time. If you could write a song with someone today, who would you want  your co-writer to be? I would definitely want to write a song with Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell or Bonnie Raitt. To me, these artists are kind of the modern day Rodgers and Hart. Their songs touch you in a very emotional way and they cut straight to the heart. They are honest and relatable.

Elaine Stritch, Photo Credit: People Magazine9. Two years ago you participated in a special event concert called Remembering Elaine Stritch. I know Elaine Stritch was one of your favorite performers. What was it about Elaine that made you love her so much? What traits of Elaine do you feel you have in your shows/life? There is no one like Elaine Stritch and there never will be again, unfortunately. She is an extinct type of human being. The way she read a line and interpreted a song was PERFECT. She was a great storyteller. She FELT the audience in a way that is rivaled by no one. This all comes from a place of extreme honesty. She was always searching for the truth in everything. She was also HILARIOUS. My grandmother on my dad's side was basically a more extreme version of Elaine Stritch, personality wise, so I always gravitate to that style of humor. My dad also has a similar sense of humor, so watching/listening to Elaine Stritch kind of feels like home. It's very comfortable. I REALLY strive for the truth and honesty in every situation, which is a struggle considering I'm also a HUGE approval junkie. Elaine was trying to find the answers until the end of her life and that is very inspirational to me. I recently had to get rid of a pair of custom Nike shoes that had "Stritch" embroidered on them. I am a die hard fan.

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent every day? I'm really working on being more patient and understanding of people. As Elaine Stritch says in the GREAT documentary, Shoot Me, "Everybody's got a sack of rocks." It's REALLY hard to remember that in the heat of the moment. I'm also, like Elaine, trying to be the most honest version of myself. That's another toughie.

Travis MoserMore on Travis:

Cabaret, concert and recording artist Travis Moser has packed houses and won acclaim for his solo shows in NYC and around the country. His most recent show, This Can't Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart, debuted at the legendary 54 Below with special guest Samantha Shafer from Broadway's West Side StorySouth PacificWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and Rocky - The MusicalThis Can't Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart celebrates one of the most prolific and legendary songwriting duos of all time. Travis Moser takes the audience on a journey through the Rodgers and Hart songbook, while offering backstage and personal stories about the songs and the shows from which they came. The show features new arrangements and mash-ups of some of Rodgers and Hart's most beloved songs.

Due to the success of the initial run, Travis had the honor of performing This Can't Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart for an extended run at NYC's famed Metropolitan Room. Travis also joined a lineup of performers that included Tony Danza, Pia Zadora, Annaleigh Ashford and many others to salute Broadway great Elaine Stritch in the Metropolitan Room's Remembering Elaine Stritch. Travis has also performed his solo shows at Birdland, The Laurie Beechman Theater, Don't Tell Mama, The Duplex, The Iguana, The National Arts Club and The Strand Theater, among countless others.

Travis' debut album This Can't Be Love: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart, based on his show, was recorded live throughout the run. This recording captures Steven Silverstein's exciting new arrangements of these Rodgers and Hart classics. Travis also had the privilege of teaming up with The Human Rights Campaign to release stripped down versions of some of his favorite songs, including "Born for You," "Get Here," "I've Dreamed of You" and "Danglin'." Proceeds from the sales of these singles go directly to HRC. Other singles include the Jimmy Webb classic, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and a new arrangement of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," with proceeds from each sale gong directly to Planned Parenthood. His latest full length album, Travis Moser Live at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, was recorded at the famed venue and features songs of yearning, hope and home from the worlds of contemporary pop and musical theater. All recordings are available on iTunes, Amazon.com, Spotify, Barnes and Noble, Google Play and other major music retailers. Both of Travis's full lengh albums were nominated for the BroadwayWorld.com Album Awards.

Regionally, Travis had the opportunity to work with two-time Tony® Award nominee Margot Sappington in the Pittsburgh Playhouse production of Jekyll and Hyde. Other regional credits include "Action" in West Side Story, "Jack" in Into the Woods, "Master Nick Cricker" in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and "Joseph" in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and featured soloist in Disney and More: The Music of Menken and Rice at the historic Strand Theater, among others.

On camera, Travis has been a featured soloist on The Children's Hospital Free Care Benefit Show for CBS and is currently a National Anthem soloist for the New York Roadrunners (NYRR) organization and the Staten Island Yankees.

Travis is THRILLED to have the distinction of being officially inducted into the Guinness World Records as a featured vocalist in the Metropolitan Room's Longest Variety Show!