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Entries in Broadway (381)

Tuesday
Nov102015

Call Answered: Melissa Errico: What About Today Live at 54 Below, Sing The Silence at Joe's Pub, & Billions on Showtime

Melissa ErricoAs a fellow Long Islander, I have known of Melissa Errico for almost half my life. First as the daughter of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Errico, then as a Tony nominated Broadway actress, and now as a recording artist. I'm so excited to have the chance to interview Melissa about life on Long Island, her new live album What About Today: Live at 54 Below, her upcoming Joe's Pub show Sing The Silence, and her role on Showtime's new show Billions starting in January! 

Click here for tickets to Melissa's Joe's Pub Show Sing The Silence on November 18 & 19!

To purchase Melissa's live album What About Today: Live at 54 Below click either Amazon and iTunes!

For more on Melissa be sure to visit http://melissaerrico.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

CD Design by Robbie Rozelle1. You have so much going on right now...between your live album What About Today: Live at 54 Below that was just released, your upcoming Joe's Pub concerts Sing The Silence and filming the new Showtime series Billions which premieres in January. How do you keep up with everything and stay healthy while so busy? Lots of sleep (Umm, or nice times in the dark) and an operating knowledge of a gmail calendar. My husband and I try to think positive and I teach the kids to go to bed every night thinking of "three good things that happened today, and three things that they look forward to about tomorrow."

2. Let's start with your live CD that was just released, What About Today, which was recorded at 54 Below. This is your first live album. You have performed concerts for years prior to this show, what made this show the one you wanted to record onto an album? It was a kind of culmination of the last few years -- the release of my Michel Legrand CD, a deepening commitment I feel to Sondheim, and generally my returning to Broadway with a sort of renewed passion after having three children. Stylistically, it also has a lot in it that feels like me -- I'm pretty eclectic in my tastes, and this band could get pretty evocative.

Melissa ErricoThis live show has movie songs, theater songs and a few flashbacks to Broadway musicals I was in and never recorded. It has one of my own compositions in it and a throwdown tribute to Eydie Gorme. My director of this show was also a tremendous friend and teacher (not to mention he cast me as "Cosette" in Les Miz when I was 18, so he's known me a long time) and has been pushing me vocally for a few years, encouraging me to open up my vocal range and use it all from soprano to really stretching my belt voice. He also just wanted me to let go and entertain and not watch over my own shoulder. There is definitely a freedom, or why else would I have worn those mini shorts!? Oy vey!

There is more I can do musically. There is another layer I want to do in future, but this live CD feels good and I hope you like it. Nothing is ever perfect. Every time I do something, I start to think what I would like to add, to try more of, to learn to do, to do next. I also wanted to dedicate it to Danny McNie, a young actor who was with me every night backstage and who died suddenly this year. He lived through a lot of hard things, and a hate crime, and he was my assistant during this concert run. He and I laughed and cried and untangled my millions of necklaces, and discussed patter and life. I loved him dearly. He moved to Hawaii to sing on a cruise, and had an accidental death after a few months away. My heart is in a million pieces every time I think of him and I wear a bracelet every day to always remember his talent and friendship. This CD is dedicated inside to him. I needed to give this to him and to his amazing mother.

Melissa Errico in Classic Stage Company's revival of "Passion"3. Since the show was called What About Today? What is something you discovered about yourself today that you wish you knew at an earlier stage in your life? To work for what fulfills me, not for what expectations I seek to be fulfilled by working. You've heard of the book Eat Pray Love? I'm gonna write: Eat Pray Sing.

4. This November, you are doing two concerts at Joe's Pub entitled Sing The Silence, about the time in your life, when due to a vocal injury, you had to withdraw from Passion and be on 100 days of vocal rest. What was the hardest part about being on complete vocal rest? Did you ever think you might not be able to sing again? How did it feel the first time you sang after that 100 days? What steps do you take now to protect your voice? This information will cost you a $25 ticket.

5. You are also in the midst of filming the Showtime series Billions, a complex drama about power politics in the world of New York high finance. Firstly, what made you want to be part of this show? Secondly, the promo video shows us the tag line "Follow The Money." When was there a time in your career you took a job just for the money? What was that job and was it fulfilling? I lived in LA for a few years and NBC had written a sitcom called NEUROTIC TENDENCIES about a downtown New York actress studying acting at NYU who meets an older man who is a Hollywood producer. They are hailing the same cab and get into a "fight" and then share the taxi, and a December/May romantic comedy begins. I got cast in the leading role. It was really charming, and I wouldn't say I did it for MONEY per se, but it would have been awesome if it got past the pilot stage. I would be living on an island in Greece now.

Melissa Errico in "Amour" on Broadway6. You've done theatre, film, television, recordings, and concerts. What have you not done yet that you would like to? Write. I like writing. I have a few novels in my head, but everyone says that. Dare me.

7. As a fellow Long Islander, I loved Adventureland, Hildebrandt's Restaurant, and Laces, the roller rink. As a child on Long Island, what were some of your favorite places to go? LACES!!??? OMG I am in love with you, period end of story. LOVE.

Okay: also loved Louies restaurant in Port Washington, and the Roosevelt Field mall. I took gymnastics at a place in New Hyde Park called The Sport of The Future. I always thought that name was so cool! That was around the time I asked my Mom to call me "Nadia."

Melissa Errico8. Growing up, you spent many summers at an arts camp. Which camp did you go to and now, looking back, how do you feel that experience prepared you for life as an actress today? French Woods camp was a magical time for me. It prepared me to learn things really fast. I don't know how on earth I thought it was FUN to memorize EVITA in two weeks, but that was my idea of a good time. We did a full musical every three weeks and I literally could not get enough. (Jason Robert Brown was "Che," by the way. He was so passionate about musicals too -- he did everything...playing piano, dancing, singing, he was really incredible). The community of that camp was really special. We are a bit of a clan now, even if we don't see each other much. We all know that we kept each other company during teen years when so many people were maybe lost or busy partying. We were busy learning the lyrics to everything under the sun.

Melissa Errico and Angela Lansbury9. One of your idols is Angela Lansbury. If you could go back to any moment in her career, what moment would you choose and why? Angela Lansbury in MAME. I want to see her slide down the bannister.

10. On your album Blue Like That, you recorded "Keep it to myself." What is a secret you have kept to yourself that now you are able to reveal? Again, you may need to buy a ticket to Joe's Pub and see if you can hear it. 

P.S. thanks for remembering that CD, I was really proud of that album. Have you seen the youtube of Blue Like That with a contemporary crossover singer reinventing my title song with mermaids wiggling and flying over her head. Isn't art fun? There's always a new way to see things! :)

P.S. lets go to LACES!!!!!

Melissa Errico, Photo Credit: Michael LavineMore on Melissa:

Melissa Errico, Tony Award® nominee, has starred on Broadway, on network television and film and is an accomplished recording artist and musical concert performer. Last season, Melissa played the recurring role of "Catherine" on the Stephen Soderbergh show The Knickfor Cinemax, and had guest arcs on Blue Bloods and The Good Wife. Her Broadway credits include starring roles in My Fair Lady, Dracula, White Christmas, High Society, Les Miserables, Anna Karenina and Amour for which she was nominated for a Best Actress Tony Award®. She starred in Stephen Sondheim's Passion and Sunday In The Park With George. She has released three studio albums: Blue Like That (EMI Records) produced by Arif Mardin, Legrand Affair (Ghostlight) produced by Phil Ramone, and Lullabies & Wildflowers (VMG/Universal Records) produced by Rob Mathes; and a recent 3-song digital single More Lullabies & Wildflowers to benefit her charity. Through everything, she stays devoted to her loving family including her husband, tennis player Patrick McEnroe, their three young daughters, and one Yorkie! 

Monday
Nov092015

Call Answered: Conference Call with Montego Glover and Sy Smith: The New York Pops "Sophisticated Ladies" at Carnegie Hall

Steven Reineke and Montego GloverCapathia Jenkins and Sy SmithThe New York Pops conducted by master maestro Steven Reineke always puts on a great show with top-notch talent to perform with them! This next concert, entitled Sophisticated Ladies, is no exception! Joining The Pops' are Tony Award nominee Montego Glover (whom I throughly enjoyed seeing several times in the Tony Award winning musical Memphis), Broadway's Capathia Jenkins (whom I've seen in Godspell and the film One Night Stand), and singer/actress Sy Smith, whom I enjoyed on Ally McBeal (both as an actress and singer)! 

To bring these three talents together for one night, alongside The New York Pops and Steven Reineke is going to be an evening to remember! Sophisticated Ladies, which is taking place on Friday, November 13 at 8pm at Carnegie Hall (57th Street & 7th Avenue), commemorates the centennial year of the birth of Billie Holiday and also celebrates other groundbreaking icons of American popular song, from Ella Fitzgerald to Sarah Vaughan to Dinah Washington. Click here for tickets!

For more on The New York Pops be sure to visit http://www.newyorkpops.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

For more on Montego be sure to visit http://www.montegoglover.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Sy follow her on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, and Amazon.com!

Sy Smith, Photo Credit: Emmanuel Ojomo 1. This November, you are performing together with Steven Reineke and The New York Pops for their Sophisticated Ladies concert which commemorates the centennial year of the birth of Billie Holiday. If Billie Holiday were still alive today, what song would you want to duet with her on?

Montego Glover: "Them There Eyes." It's so whimsical and flirty. I think Billie and I would have fun with the playfulness.

Sy Smith: That's easy. I would LOVE to perform "Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do" with Billie Holiday! I wrote a tune of the same title (it's on my album Conflict) and I think a mash-up of the two would be awesome. I love the sentiment of this song, because when it really comes down to it, as adults, the choices that we make in our lives are OURS to make. Her version of it speaks more to her relationships with men, whereas my version ("Ain't Nobody's Bizness") talks about my relationship to my music, but it's all the same. People will always have opinions, but many of those opinions are best left unspoken. If she were still around, I think we'd really cut up singing a duet of this song!

Montego Glover2. This concert also celebrates other groundbreaking icons of American popular song, from Ella Fitzgerald to Sarah Vaughan to Dinah Washington. If you could portray one of these three icons in a film about them, who would you want to portray and why?

Montego Glover: I would choose Ella. She's my idol. I love the flexibility of her voice. And there's something so easy about listening to her. That, and even when I hear recordings I've heard a billion times I always catch a different phrasing or turn I hadn't heard before. She's wonderful.

Sy Smith: This is a really tough question. But I think if I had an opportunity to play one of these icons in a film, I'd love to play Ella Fitzgerald. She just seemed so dedicated to music because it was the only thing that was really true to her. Her life was so unstable during her teens—she went from orphanages to group homes and reformatory schools that she finally had to escape from altogether. Music was the one thing that seemed to stabilize her life and I can really appreciate that. So yeah...I'd love to play Ella!

3. What excites you about performing this music with Steven Reineke and The New York Pops?

Montego Glover: Steven is a masterful musician and leader. He brings such joy and fun to the Pops and its repertoire. That kind of energy is irresistible.

Sy Smith: Oh my goodness! What DOESN'T excite me about performing this music with Steven and The New York Pops! The opportunity to perform classical American music, also known as jazz, by iconic women...this is something I've always dreamed of doing! It really brings tears to my eyes when I think about how much this concert means to me. It's the performance of a lifetime. It's certainly the performance of MY lifetime.

Steven Reineke4. How do you feel Steven Reineke and The New York Pops will make this music heard in a way it has not been done before?

Montego Glover: First, putting together a great group of artists. I'm such a fan of Capathia Jenkins and am so excited to work with Sy Smith. Second, choosing an array of songs that are well known and some that are lesser known brings a kind of newness and variety to an evening. And finally, crafting arrangements that are really interesting and exciting for the Pops to play and for myself, Capathia and Sy to sing using our particular gifts of song. It's a party!

Sy Smith: Steven Reineke is a rockstar conductor! He knows how to make the music "move" in a space and throughout the room. His connection with music and then his deftness at transferring that energy throughout the orchestra...I've never seen another conductor rock like he does. What Steven does with music and The New York Pops is kinda like what Neil deGrasse Tyson does for quantum physics...LOL! Steven makes seemingly foreign and untouchable concepts in music COOL and tangible for anyone who's remotely interested but might be shy about where to begin listening. That might seem like a strange comparison, but remember that you asked me, Sy Smith, and I'm not always gonna say things in the most conventional way. Haha!

Steven Reineke conducting The New York Pops, Photo Credit: Johanna Weber5. What does it mean to you to perform this music today on the stage of Carnegie Hall, with the knowledge of when these legendary performers originally sang these songs?

Montego Glover: It means everything. It's a piece of history that as an artist, a woman and a member of the African American community I get to experience. I consider my being there part of a creative process these amazing women began long before I was born. I feel privileged.

Sy Smith: To perform these songs, at Carnegie Hall, here in the city where I was born (I was born right here in Manhattan!), means the world to me. It is, by far, the most important "homecoming" performance that I will probably ever take part in. I'll be sharing the stage with two incredible performers (Montego Glover and Capathia Jenkins) whose work I admire so much and we'll be singing the songs of some of the greatest artists to ever do it. We'll be joined by a critically-acclaimed orchestra that relishes taking chances with contemporary and classic repertoire alike: The New York Pops! We'll be conducted by rockstar conductor Steven Reineke! And I can't help but remember that during their heyday(s), Billie, Ella, Sarah, Dinah...many times they had to perform in venues where people who looked like them, like us and like me, might not have been allowed in, or if so, not allowed to sit in certain areas. I can't help but think about this because my whole family (it seems!) will be at Carnegie Hall, and they'll be sitting in every section. This makes me smile. It makes me smile in my sleep.

Montego Glover6. Because of the path each of these singers paved, what walls do you feel you didn't have to break down when you started out and what walls do you feel still need to be broken down?

Montego Glover: Recognition of artistry and talent are walls that were already broken down. These women are legends and icons because no matter who they were or what group they belonged to their gifts were undeniable and fully recognized. Continuing to introduce audiences (particularly younger audiences) to their music is a wall we can and should continue to break down. There's so much history, grace and relevance to be gleaned from these women and their works. That's where I'd like to put my energy.

Sy Smith: These women, these heroes, Billie, Ella, Sarah, Dinah...and more that I haven't named, they've kicked down doors that we don't even think about anymore. From huge and obvious injustices like playing venues that didn't originally allow performers of color, to smaller micro-agressions, like challenging the role of female singers as bandleaders. I'm thankful for those acts of pioneering! I think that when artists like Billie Holiday have very public struggles with addiction, that that also helps frame some of our national conversations about drug policies too, especially some of our very recent conversations concerning the rise of heroin overdoses. That shouldn't be overlooked either. There will always be work to do on this road to equality though, because power is not something that people who have it just hand over like a paperback they've finished reading. So I'm always challenging things like unequal pay for singers, making sure vocalists are properly credited when we're in the studio producing/arranging all of our own vocals, and encouraging a change in the language we use when we discuss vocalists as musicians, including supporting vocalists (I have an aversion to the term "back-up singers"). It's the little things sometimes.

Sy Smith7. What do you look forward to about performing together and which songs are you looking forward most to singing?

Montego Glover: I most look forward to making music with Steven, the New York Pops, Capathia and Sy. I'm such a fan of all of them! And I'm probably most looking forward to singing our duets and trios. I'll definitely enjoy the times we can be onstage together at Carnegie Hall celebrating one another and the music.

Sy Smith: I have a "thing" about talking about specifics before a show. Please forgive me, and perhaps call me superstitious, but I can't tell you which songs I'll be doing. Don't kill me! But I will say that I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there will be a trio featuring all three of us! If you know me, you should know that singing harmonies is my THING! I love doing that almost more than anything else. From my days touring with Whitney Houston to singing with the Rickey Minor Band on American Idol, I can sing harmonies all day long! I am really looking forward to singing with Montego and Capathia!

Montego Glover8. Who do you still want to work with that you haven't had the chance to?

Montego Glover: I would love to somehow combine a concert format with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. I'm a huge fan of Mr. Ailey's works and the company.

Sy Smith: This question is tough because I've worked with so many people already. And I would love to work with almost all of them again. And again! But, as far as people I haven't had the pleasure of working with yet...I would love to work with Roberta Flack. I've really been into a singer/songwriter kind of thing lately and I think it would be really nice to create songs with her. She does that SO beautifully. I'd also love to work with Prince, but on a jazz album. And I would love to work with Basement Jaxx, they use so many jazz elements in their brand of electronic dance music. Oh my goodness, this list could go on and on! I'll stop there.

Sy Smith9. If you could trade one song you are scheduled to sing during Sophisticated Ladies, which songs would you swap around?

Montego Glover: I wouldn't trade anything! I love what we're doing individually!

Sy Smith: Uh oh. This question would require me to reveal information about the songs we'll be performing. Please see the answer to #7 regarding my bit of superstition! ((Apologies!))

10. If Billie Holiday were to attend this show, do you think she would be proud of this celebration of her 100th birthday? Besides from this concert, what would you give her for a gift on her 100th birthday?

Montego Glover: I think she would definitely be proud. Her music lives on and on and on and we delight in sharing it. For her 100th Birthday I would give Billie Holiday a Standing Ovation that lasted forever and ever and ever.

Sy Smith: I think if Lady Day were to be at this show, she'd see how much she has contributed to not only the world of jazz, but the entire world of music. She'd see how much her legacy has meant to contemporary musicians and singers all over the world, including me! That should make her proud, though I think she'd probably still be very humble about it all. What would I give her? Hmmm...If Freedom came in a pretty little perfume bottle, I'd wrap it in a box and give that to her with a little note that says "dab a little bit of this above your top lip/under your nose and whenever you're feeling like the world is getting too heavy, just take a deep breath...and get FREE."

Montego Glover, Photo Credit: Brent DundoreMore on Montego:

Tony Award nominee and award-winning actress Montego Glover is currently starring as "Fantine" in Les Misérables at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. Previous to Les Misérables, she co-starred in the Broadway original musical It Shoulda Been You. Ms. Glover originated the starring role of "Felicia Farrell" on Broadway in Memphis (Tony Award, Best Musical 2010) for which she received a Tony Award nomination for Lead Actress in a Musical, a Drama League nomination, and won both the Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award for her performance. Ms. Glover made her Broadway debut in The Color Purple and has been a guest artist at the Old Globe Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, and the Geffen Playhouse among others. Concert work includes The New York Pops, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Lincoln Center Theater, Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Caramoor Music Festival, the Delacorte Theater, and the Smith Center (PBS Special). Television and film roles include FOX’s The Following, ABC’s Black Box, HostagesSmashGolden BoyThe Good WifeWhite CollarNYC 22Law & OrderMade In Jersey and the upcoming feature Alone. Montego has served as a member of the Artists’ Committee for the Kennedy Center Honors and is a New York PopsEd Ambassador. BFA from Florida State University.

Sy Smith, Photo Credit: Mike QuainMore on Sy:

Sy Smith was born in New York City and raised in Washington, DC. After graduating from Howard University, she moved to Los Angeles where she got the attention of her musical contemporaries and heroes, earning her coveted tours as a backing vocalist for the likes of Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Meshell Ndegeocello and many more. Ms. Smith continued to work with musical director Rickey Minor as a supporting vocalist on American Idol and later joined his band at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. As an indie-soul recording artist, Ms. Smith has released 4 albums to critical acclaim, pioneering the nu-soul scene in LA and taking her sound all over the world. As an actress, she’s starred in numerous TV, film, and stage productions, including a recurring role on FOX’s Ally McBealHow I Met Your Mother, and American Dad. She also received two nominations for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical/Comedy from the NAACP Theatre Awards for her roles in If You Don’t Believe and Body Language. As a songwriter, Ms. Smith garnered an Emmy nod for Best Original Music/Lyrics for her original song "Welcome Back (All My Soulmates)" for the HBO film Dancing In September. Ms. Smith was a featured guest on the Grammy-nominated DVD Chris Botti in Boston and currently tours with the jazz trumpeter, dazzling audiences with her multi-octave range, unique style of improvisation and soulful interpretations of jazz standards.

Steven Reineke, Photo Credit: Michael TammaroMore on Steven Reineke:

Steven Reineke is the Music Director of The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, Principal Pops Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Principal Pops Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Principal Pops Conductor Designate for the Houston Symphony, beginning in the 2017-2018 season. Mr. Reineke is a frequent guest conductor with The Philadelphia Orchestra and has been on the podium with the Boston Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. His extensive North American conducting appearances include San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, Edmonton and Pittsburgh. As the creator of more than one hundred orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Mr. Reineke’s work has been performed worldwide, and can be heard on numerous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings on the Telarc label. His symphonic works Celebration FanfareLegend of Sleepy Hollow and Casey at the Bat are performed frequently in North America. His numerous wind ensemble compositions are published by the C.L. Barnhouse Company and are performed by concert bands around the world. A native of Ohio, Mr. Reineke is a graduate of Miami University of Ohio, where he earned bachelor of music degrees with honors in both trumpet performance and music composition. He currently resides in New York City with his husband, Eric Gabbard.

The New York PopsMore on The New York Pops:

THE NEW YORK POPS is the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States, and the only professional symphonic orchestra in New York City specializing in popular music. Under the leadership of dynamic Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke, The New York Pops continues to re-imagine orchestral pops music. The orchestra performs an annual subscription series and birthday gala at Carnegie Hall, as well as a summer concert series at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY. The New York Pops is dedicated to lifelong learning, and collaborates with public schools, community organizations, children’s hospitals and senior centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. PopsEd allows thousands of New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds to participate in fully customizable music programs that blend traditional education with pure fun. Visit www.newyorkpops.org for more information. Follow The New York Pops on Facebook (facebook.com/newyorkpops), Instagram (@thenewyorkpops), and Twitter (@newyorkpops).

Friday
Nov062015

Call Answered: Tamara Tunie: MASH UP at Feinstein's/54 Below

Tamara TunieKnown for playing Medical Examiner "Melinda Warner" on the NBC drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and "mean Alberta Green" in the Fox hit series 24 Season One, as well as attorney "Jessica Griffin" on the CBS daytime drama As the World Turns, Tamara Tunie is known by millions of people from her work in television, film, theatre, and more recently cabaret!

I have personally enjoyed watching Tamara on Law & Order: SVU, HBO's Sex and the City, and her Broadway producing shows including Magic/Bird, the Tony nominated play August Wilson's Radio Golf as well as NYMF's production of Frog Kiss: The Musical.

It was a real honor to speak with Tamara about all her entertainment endeavors as well as her Pittsburgh beginnings, and upcoming cabaret show at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on November 11 & 15 entitled MASH UP!, her favorite numbers from LEGENDS from the BURGH and her debut cabaret performance YES, I SING! Click here for tickets!

For more on Tamara be sure to visit http://tamaratunie.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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

Tamara Tunie as "Marie Van Der Veen" in "The Red Road" on Sundance TV1. From television, film, and Broadway, you are known to millions in every genre of entertainment. When did you first discover you wanted to be a performer? When did you decide it was time to go from acting to director/producer? I have always enjoyed performing since I was a kid. I even remember the first 8 bars of my tap recital from when I was 5 year old! But it was really when it was time to choose a college and a trajectory, that I decided that entertaining was really my first love. It makes people happy and what can be wrong with that??

Producing and directing seemed to be a natural evolution once I got to a certain point in my career, and I could use my skills that I learned in front of the camera in a new way, to help forward someone else’s work, or even a story of my own.

2. You are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below this November with an all new show MASH UP, that will include your favorite moments from your two previous shows LEGENDS from the BURGH and debut cabaret performance YES, I SING!, that not even hurricane Sandy could prevent from being a huge success. How did you decide which songs from your previous shows you wanted to merge together for this upcoming show? This is going to be like "TUNIE’S GREATEST HITS”! The wonderful thing about performing live is, you know right away what the audience is responding to. I know which songs the people REALLY LOVED, and that’s what I am going to do. I MAY have a little voting thing with the audience as well!

3. What do you get from performing cabaret that you do not get from acting? MUSIC! LOL! and people can find out how funny I am too!

Tamara Tunie at Feinstein's at Loews Regency, Photo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff4. Why did you want to return to Feinstein's/54 Below? What do you like most about performing there? It’s a beautiful room and the team there is great! They really want you to have a great experience and are so supportive. Also, it just takes me back to the days of "supper clubs" when I was a kid and saw the "Greats!" This is something I dreamed of doing, and Feinstein's/54 Below provides the perfect setting.

5. You have had an incredible career. What goes through your mind now as you think back to growing up in Pittsburgh with aspirations of being an actress? What do you credit to your success? Hard work. Having that blue collar sensibility that is work hard, play hard, love your family, have integrity, be loyal, be honest, help people. Not necessarily in that order.

6. I have met and worked with so many people in the entertainment industry who hail from Pittsburgh. Why do you think Pittsburgh fosters so many people who want to be in the arts? Was it something in the water? (hahaha). Yes, there is something in the water!

7. You have worked with Al Pacino on two different films, including City Hall, as Pacino's press secretary. If you were your own press secretary and writing a press release about yourself, what is something you would write about yourself that people don't know? I hate EGGPLANT!

Tamara Tunie as "Dr. Melinda Warner" on "Law & Order: SVU"8. As Medical Examiner "Melinda Warner," on NBC's Law & Order: SVU, who would you have liked to be a guest star victim that never got cast? I can’t say coz I would be so happy to see him naked on my table and I don’t want to embarrass him. But his initials are "CT." But actually I don’t think Channing would be embarrassed…OOPS!

9. You were also on an episode of one of my favorite shows, HBO's Sex and The City. If you were to spend a night on the town with "Carrie," "Samantha," "Charlotte," and "Miranda," who would you choose to spend the evening with and what would you do for the night? I loved doing the show, but they didn’t have any black girlfriends. My white and Asian girlfriends found that not to be very realistic. Did they not find anything in common with black women? Hmmmmm…?

Tamara Tunie10. When you are not acting, singing, directing, or producing, you are involved with many organizations such as Figure Skating in Harlem, HarlemStage/The Gatehouse, God's Love We Deliver, and Hearts of Gold. When someone that you helped through one of these organizations tells you how much you helped them, do you feel the same as if someone tells you you helped through a role you've played or does this mean more to you? As a result of all this community work, was there ever time you thought about giving up working in the entertainment industry and working full time in the community sector? I am happy if any part of what I do touches anyone in any way. It’s ALL good!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. What haven't you done that you would still like to? "Mrs. Lovette" in SWEENEY TODD! but I WILL one day!

12. What can you tell us about the movement of Frog Kiss to Broadway, which would be amazing because I loved the show when I saw it in NYMF and was lucky enough to get to interview Curtis Holbrook for "Call Me Adam." It has been a long journey for FROG KISS. It’s future however remains questionable at this point. Stay tuned.

Tamara TunieMore on Tamara:

Enthralling, charismatic and passionate are just a few of the words that characterize the type of performances Tamara Tunie is known for delivering. Her background spans film, television and stage. It doesn’t stop there. Her wealth of talent encompasses producing and directing. Such versatility has earned Tamara the respect and admiration of her peers and an increasing global fan base that have come to recognize her as the industry’s quiet, graceful leading lady.

Fans also can look forward to her return in season two of the Sundance TV original series The Red Road. Tamara stars as "Marie Van Der Veen," the matriarch and the "moral fiber" of an American Indian tribe. She is enjoying developing the vulnerable "Marie," a character who must balance loyalty involving her sons against the well being of the community. The role is a marked departure from the sophisticated and powerful women she is known for portraying.

Other memorable television roles include her portrayal of Medical Examiner "Melinda Warner" on the NBC drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and "mean Alberta Green" in the Fox hit series 24 Season One, as well as attorney "Jessica Griffin" on the CBS daytime drama As the World Turns, for which she received two NAACP Image Award nominations and two Soap Opera Digest award nominations.

Tamara Tunie as "Margaret Tomason" in "Flight"In film, the Pittsburgh native has worked with some of the most respected directors in Hollywood, including Robert Zemekis, Taylor Hackford, Brian De Palma, Mimi Leder, Harold Becker and Oliver Stone. She also worked with the legendary Al Pacino in her portrayal of "Jackie Heath," the possessed wife of a partner in his law firm in the box-office topper The Devil’s Advocate, and as Pacino’s press secretary in City Hall. Among Tamara's most unforgettable performances was her co-starring role as "Margaret Thomason" in the Oscar-nominated film Flight, which starred Denzel Washington. What many don’t know is that Tamara narrated Eve’s Bayou, directed by Kasi Lemmons. She later worked again with Lemmons on the film The Caveman’s Valentine, opposite Samuel L. Jackson, for which she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.

Tamara made her feature directorial debut in the indie romantic comedy See You in September, starring Estella Warren and Justin Kirk. On Broadway, she has produced hit productions including Magic/Bird, August Wilson’s Radio Golf (2007 TONY and Drama Desk Award Nominee for Best Play), and Spring Awakening (winner of the 2007 TONY Award for Best Musical and the 2007 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical). Currently, she is producing, and developing for Broadway, Frog Kiss: The Musical – a re-imagined "bed-time story" with a bawdy twist. Frog Kiss earned more citations for excellence than any other musical at the 2010 New York Musical Theater Festival.

Tamara Tunie in "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" on BroadwaySome of her key theater credits include lead role of "Madame de Merteuil" in Les Liaisons Dangereuses; sharing the Broadway stage with the late great Lena Horne in the musical Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music; "Helen of Troy" in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of Troilus and Cressida in Central Park; "Maggie" in the first all African-American production of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; and the 20th anniversary, post 9-11 benefit concert of Dreamgirls.

Tamara extends herself beyond acting, producing and directing. She is deeply engaged in the community. She has served as chair emerita of the Board of Directors of Figure Skating in Harlem, a nonprofit organization that teaches education and life skills to young girls through the art and discipline of figure skating. Tunie also is President of the Board of Directors at Harlem Stage/The Gatehouse, a board member of God’s Love We Deliver, and she serves on the Advisory Board of Hearts of Gold.

Wednesday
Oct282015

Call Redialed: Daphne Rubin-Vega: "Empanada Loca"

Daphne Rubin-VegaThe first time I saw Daphne Rubin-Vega on Broadway was in The Rocky Horror Show (I was not living in NYC while she was in RENT). I was so taken in by her. Shortly after seeing her on Broadway, I attended her solo concert at The Cutting Room in NYC and made 3 friends that night. Those two events have lead to 14 years of seeing Daphne perform, whether it was on Broadway in Anna in the Tropics, a developmental reading of her semi-autobiographical show FUQs, or one of her many numerous concerts I've attended all over the city! 

When I found out Daphne was teaming up with rising playwright Aaron Mark, I knew, whatever they were creating was a must see and that is just what their new show Empanada Loca is, a must see! It is with great pride that I got to talk to Daphne about this amazing show and collaboration with Aaron!

Empanada Loca, a thrilling new play about an indomitable woman who knows that in this dog-eat-dog world only one rule matters: eat or be eaten. Drug dealer. Masseuse. Ex-con. Survivor. "Dolores" has led a life like no other. Now living deep under Manhattan in an abandoned subway tunnel, she has a story you won’t believe – or ever forget. Inspired by the legend of Sweeney Todd, Empanada Loca, presented by LAByrinth Theater Company runs through November 15 at Bank Street Theater (155 Bank Street, between Greenwich and Washington). Click here for tickets!

For more on Daphne be sure to visit http://www.daphnerubin-vega.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

1. You are starring in Aaron Mark's new show Empanada Loca, which he wrote specifically for you. How did you and Aaron first meet? I met Aaron through Jim Nicola, who called me saying he knew this kid with a genius for writing in the solo genre.

2. What was the first thought that went through your head when he said, I want to write a show for you? I was flattered but not expecting what I read at all. It was so bold and urgent, with an uncanny understanding of the theatrical. I loved it instantly, we met and immediately struck a bond. (I heard also that he wrote it only after Jim told him I agreed to read it!!) We spent the last year working on my FUQs and Empanada Loca on our free time. We focused on making Empanada Loca as terse as we could. We're like the Harold and Maude of downtown theater right now.

3. Empanada Loca is a dark tale. How do you prepare each night to get into this dark space? Music, make-up. Vocal warm up. No drama.

Daphne Rubin-Vega as "Dolores" in Aaron Mark's "Empanada Loca"4. In Empanda Loca, you play "Dolores," who is a survivor and has led a life like no other. How are Daphne and "Dolores" alike? Well, we look alike! "Dolores" is a positive person; I like to think I am too. She lives in denial. I do that sometimes. She's been through some super rough shit. Me too. She made some very unfortunate decisions over love. Done that.

5. "Dolores" lives below the city streets in the tunnels of the subway. How do you think you, as Daphne, would survive the tunnel world? Not a snowflakes chance in hell...I'd freeze and Starve to Death.

6. If "Mimi" from Rent came in contact with "Dolores," do you think they would be friends, enemies, or frenemies and why? No. Too meta. "Dolores" would eat "Mimi" and contract Mad Bitch disease....

7. Empanada Loca is a one-woman show. What's the hardest part about putting on a one-woman show? Forgetting my place and not having any back up! Being accountable for every moment. Period.

Daphne Rubin-Vega and playwright Aaron Mark at the opening night of "Empanada Loca"8. When you are working with a cast, your castmates can sometimes do something to make you break character and laugh hysterically. When you are doing a one-woman show, it's just you and your director. Was there a time during rehearsal or tech when you or Aaron did or said something that made you break character and start hysterically laughing? If so, when and what caused that to happen? Dear God, we're Always laughing! We were working on the part where "Dolores" gets angry at "Luis" and I just blurted out "pussy face!" and we were like children! Nobody could stop laughing! So we kept it. I didn't think I'd be able to do it with a straight face, so we kept it on a dare....

9. In addition to being an actress and singer, you are a mother. Has motherhood influenced or changed the way you choose projects to work on? Yes and No. I really am yearning to do a project that my son can appreciate and enjoy. But I'm drawn to the dark side. I play a lot of broken characters with struggles. Kids have struggles too right?

10. What's next for Daphne Rubin-Vega after Empanada Loca? When can we expect a new album, with "Hurricane" on it? Aw "Hurricane!" Gotta wipe the dust off that one! Aaron and I are starting to tinker with the Mata Hari story, espionage and erotica! Then, there's FUQs (the never ending story) and a fantastic musical I'm working on.

11. Since you were in the first film of Sex and the City, if you could spend a night on the town with Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, or Charlotte, who would you choose and what would you do? If I had my druthers, I'd ditch them all and hang out in Carrie's closet...eating pomegranate ice pops and trying shit out.

Daphne Rubin-VegaMore on Daphne:

Daphne Rubin-Vega is a two-time Tony and Drama Desk nominee (1996/2004) and recipient of the Theater World, Obie (1996) and Blockbuster (1998) awards. She has been a member of the Labyrinth Theater Companysince 1992.

Daphne is perhaps best known for the roles she originated, including "Mimi" (RENT) and "Conchita" (Anna in the Tropics), both Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway shows for which she was nominated for the Tony award. She also originated the role of "Rahmi" (Gum), "Sofia" (Nilo Cruz' Two Sisters and a Piano), "Canary Mary" (Suzan-Lori Parks' Fucking A, Lucille Lortel nomination) and "Lucy" (Jack Goes Boating) at the Public Theater, as well as starred in the Broadway revivals of The Rocky Horror Picture Show ("Magenta") and Les Miserables ("Fantine"). Film credits include "Sheila" in Fall to Rise, detective "Gloria Perez" in Wild Things, starring Kevin Bacon and Matt Dillon (Blockbuster Award for Best Supporting Actress), "Tia" (Flawless, opposite Robert De Niro), and most recently, reprising the role of "Lucy" in the film version of Jack Goes Boating, Phillip Seymour Hoffman's film directorial debut. Other films include, Justice, Skeleton Woman (New York Independent Film award), Virgin, Sex and the City, and I Like It Like That

Daphne Rubin-Vega is recognized for her singing as much as her acting. She was a member of the girl group Pajama Party, whose single "Yo No Se" was number one on the Billboard dance charts. They made two albums on Atlantic Records before Daphne began writing and recording solo singles for the indie dance label Maxi. In 1997, Daphne cut her first album of original music, Souvenirs on the subsequently defunct Mercury label and in 2006; she produced, performed, and primarily wrote Redemption Songs (Sh-K- Boom). Daphne has contributed to various musical projects, including her notorious version of "Feliz Navidad" for Broadway Cares and her club smash cover of "Rocketman."

In 2005, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Kean University. "Dr." Rubin-Vega was born in Panama and raised in New York City where she lives with her husband and son.

Thursday
Oct222015

Call Answered: Brian Charles Rooney: Trouble at Feinstein's/54 Below

The first time I heard Brian Charles Rooney sing, I was mesmerized! His voice is like no other! Since then, I have seen him perform in several concerts and readings, always loving when he is on stage! My most recent time seeing Brian belt it out was last December at 54 Below during Singing Cyndi Lauper: 54 Just Wants To Have Fun! His rendition of "I Drove All Night" was unreal and then pairing him with the dynamic Molly Pope on "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" was genius!

Now, fast forward to Friday, November 6 at 9:30pm when Brian will go at it alone at Feinstein's/54 Below with his brand new show Trouble, a rich musical evening including a few gender-bending comedic moments that will leave you wondering whether or not what you’re hearing is real! Expect a theatrical mix of favorites from the canons of Broadway, popular music, and classic standards. Click here for tickets!

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

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

1. On November 6, you are returning to 54 Below with an all new show called Trouble. What are you looking forward to most about performing this show? I think that what I'm looking forward to most, aside from performing songs I've not tackled before, is interacting with the audience! There will be familiar faces, but there will also be new faces, and that's a huge thrill for me!

Brian Charles Rooney at Feinstein's/54 Below2. You have performed in over 30 shows at Feinstein's/54 Below. What do you enjoy most about performing there? I love the staff at the venue! As you've mentioned, I've done many shows there, so I've been able to get to know the staff pretty well. They are always incredibly supportive and kind! Then, of course, there are the people that run the venue, and help produce the shows, like Jennifer Tepper, Dylan Bustamante, KJ Hardy etc. They are all great people, and they make it easy to work there!

I think the reason that presents most prominently for me is just the ambiance the venue offers. I don't know that anyone could argue against the statement that Feinstein's/54 Below is one of the most beautiful clubs in town. There's this wonderful balance of modernity and a respect for the past in the design of the venue. I love that…Maybe it's just how I view it, but it makes performing there all the more magical.

3. Why did you call this show Trouble? Trouble can fun, it can be stimulating...It is everywhere...And it isn't always bad! In fact, I think a lot of good can come from a little bit trouble. I wanted to embrace my love for songs and characters in the American and European Song Books that might live in the dark.

Brian Charles Rooney performing Madonna's "Ghosttown" at Madonnathon"4. If you could give people one reason as to why they should come see Trouble at Feinstein's/54 Below, what would that reason be? If I had to throw down a single gauntlet, it would be my voice. I've worked hard over the years to cultivate the gift I was given. I never stop challenging myself as a vocalist and an actor. Actually, I hate separating those two roles. For me, acting is singing, and vice versa.

5. Since this show is titled Trouble, what has been some times in your life when you've gotten in Trouble? What did you learn from those experiences? I have to say that I have probably witnessed more trouble, than I've caused. Well…I say that now, perhaps because I have never been caught?! My show celebrates the kind of troublemaker that makes people think in a new way, who doesn't apologize for having an opinion, or the kind that inspires people to go on an adventure...Or simply the kind that turns someone on, makes someone laugh. I've learned a lot from some famous troublemakers, and I'd like to think those lessons have made me a better man, with a sharper wit, and a greater sense of humor.

Brian Charles Rooney in "The UnCivil War"6. I've seen you perform in several concerts & think you have an unbelievably gifted voice! When did you realize you wanted to be a singer/actor? Who or what inspired you? Thank you! I didn't sing in public before doing a talent show in 8th grade, and then I did plays in high school (the person running the Drama Club didn't produce musicals because he thought they weren't "real acting;" clearly he was wrong). I saw The Phantom of the Opera as a child, and the overture made me want to do theater (don't roll your eyes, people). I studied drama at Duke University, which also has a wonderful music department, and a fantastic dance program, so I was exposed to a lot of incredible artists and potent work. I owe all the people who educated me a huge debt of gratitude for encouraging me to be an artist who refuses to be put in a box...Or as a Talent Agent might call me: Trouble. During my senior year at Duke, I played "John Wilkes Booth" in Assassins (I was definitely exploring the low end of my voice). I vividly remember the first night, during the curtain call, thinking, "it's not about the applause for me - it's about that story we just told." The show was the high; the applause meant that was over.

7. What have you learned about yourself from being a singer/actor? I've learned that I'm resilient, and that I rank honesty and loyalty highly above most values.

Brian Charles Rooney8. What's the best advice you've ever received? As a performer? The best advice I have received was from Petula Clark. Anyone, with whom I've worked, would tell you that I am a perfectionist, sometimes to a fault, and that I am always looking to improve. I was doing a show with Petula early in my career, and most of the other cast members would chastise me for beating myself up, if I had done something that I considered sub par. They would tell me that I needed to be less hard on myself. One night, Petula pulled me aside, and said, "You are a very special talent. Don't ever let anyone tell you to stop being a perfectionist. Just don't ever stop enjoying what you do." I'll never forget her words. I followed her advice, to be sure.

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I'm a huge fan of comic books, and other fantasy properties. I go to San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con, so this question is a favorite of mine! I think as a kid I probably would have chosen flight…But as an adult, I think it would be a toss-up between shape shifting, and psychic abilities (mind control, telekinesis, etc.). A shape shifter is the ultimate actor!

10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it & what ingredients would you put in it? Vodka.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to stay in shape? Biking! I live close to Central Park, so I try to bike the 6 mile loop as often as I can!

12. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs. Boxers are shorts for bedtime.

Brian Charles RooneyMore on Brian:

Brian Charles Rooney was recently lauded by both The New York Times and Time Out NY for his performance as "Dionne Salon" in the hit Off-Broadway musical, Bedbugs!!! In a critically acclaimed performance that Entertainment Weekly said "ignited the stage," he made his Broadway debut as "Lucy Brown" in The Threepenny Opera for The Roundabout Theatre Co., co-starring Alan Cumming, Cyndi Lauper, Jim Dale, Nellie McKay, and Ana Gasteyer.

He won the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for "Best Actor in a Musical" as "Candy Darling" in Anna Jacobs & Maggie Kate Coleman's musical POP! at Yale Repertory Theatre, directed by Mark Brokaw. He has won two NY Musical Theatre Festival Outstanding Performance Awards for Bedbugs!!! (2008) & Bayonets of Angst (2014); as well as the FringeNYC Award for Outstanding Performance as "Satan" in the new rock musical, Winner Take All (2011), directed by John Carrafa.

Brian appeared with Kristin Chenoweth and composer Andrew Lippa, at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in I Am Harvey Milk, an oratorio celebrating the life of the famous activist. He has appeared as a soloist in Martin Charnin's new theatrical revue, Rodgers &..., a retrospective of Richard Rodgers' monumental body of work at the Emelin Theatre; and in the Carnegie Hall Concert Production of Guys & Dolls, starring Nathan Lane & Megan Mullally.

He was a featured soloist with UK Pop legend Petula Clark on the North America Tour of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. He received a Carbonell Award Nomination for his performance as "Homer Collins" in Floyd Collins at The Actors' Playhouse, in Coral Gables, FL; as well as a Metro-Carolina Award Nomination as "Jinx" in Forever Plaid at The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC. He played the title role in Bat Boy! The Musical at Charleston Stage Co., in Charleston, SC.

His Television credits include Camelot, Live from Lincoln Center and Sondheim! The Birthday Concert, both directed by Lonny Price for PBS at Lincoln Center.

In 2007, Brian won The Kurt Weill Foundation's Lys Symonette Award for Dramatic Excellence. He has appeared in concert at 54 Below & Joe's Pub, and as a soloist with the Oregon & Seattle Symphony Orchestras.