Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in Broadway (255)

Thursday
Sep122013

Lane Bradbury: Let Me Entertain You, Again Interview

Lane Bradbury was the original "Dainty June" in Broadway's Gypsy, starring opposite theatre legend Ethel Merman as "Rose."

Lane is taking to the stage once again in her new autobiographical one-woman show Lane Bradbury: Let Me Entertain You, Again! this Sunday, September 15 at 7pm at the Abingdon's June Havoc Theatre in NYC (312 West 36th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

1. On Sunday, Sept 15, you are premiering your one-woman show "Lane Bradbury: Let Me Entertain You, Again!" What made you want to create this show? This show was Doug DeVita's idea. When I was here for the Marathon 33 Fund Raiser at the Abingdon, Doug took me to see Next To Normal...I flipped out. I couldn't get out of my seat! Doug sent me the CD! It was always playing when ever I was in my car. I confessed my feelings to Doug about Next To Normal...that I was thinking of what I had to do to go after the part of "Diana" the mother, and play it on the road or what ever.

I received an email from Doug proposing that he had come up with this "insane idea" of writing a "one woman show" for me. "You could sing songs in French and songs from Next To Normal. My feet went COLD. Could I really resurrect a voice that had not sung for 30 years? But, the temptation was too great. I found through my daughter, Elkin, an accompanist, Jan Roper, who has since become the show's musical director. Jan introduced me to Robert Edwards, who became my vocal coach.

Lane Bradbury in "Let Me Entertain You, Again" in Los Angeles2. What made now the right time to premiere it? That is a secret that you will learn by coming to see the show and I don't want to give it away.

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing your show? I hope the audience will have such a good time going on this journey with me and come away feeling, "Yes, everything can still come up roses." 

4. You are premiering the show at the Abingdon Theatre's June Havoc. What do you feel this venue offers your show that another one might not? I respect so much what the Abingdon does as a creative force for New York and because we will be in The June Havoc Theater and I played "June" in Gypsy and was in Marathon 33 it has emotional connections for me.

5. What was it like going back through your career and life to create this show? Did you learn anything about yourself through this process or did you rediscover something you lost? This question is answered within the show and the audience will discover the answer as we travel together. What I did discover and can talk about is what the power of love did as I worked with my daughter Elkin, her husband, Bobby Garabedian and the times that Doug and Joe were able to see the show as it as coming together in Los Angeles.

Lane Bradbury as "Dainty June" and Ethel Merman as "Rose" in Broadway's original "Gypsy", Photo Credit: Friedman-Abeles Photograph Collection6. As the original "Dainty June" in Broadway's Gypsy, what are some of your cherished memories from that time? This question is answered in the show as the audience travels with us through with song and dance.

7. Your "Rose" in the original Broadway production of Gypsy was Ethel Merman. What was your experience of working with her? What did you learn from it? Come see the answers come alive.

8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Maybe you could ask me that question again sometime, because right now I love so much who I have been working with. I am just so happy to stay in this sacred place for a while.

Lane Bradbury in "Let Me Entertain You, Again" in Los Angeles9. In addition to acting, you are also a teacher. What have your students taught you? That I had a privileged life and if a student doesn't show up for class or disappoints me for one reason or another I don't have the privilege of getting all huffy and put out because I never had to go home to the things the "kids in crises" have to go home to...if when they go home or if they even have a home.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? My Mother always told me: "Where there's a will, there's a way." and "There's no such word as can't." Put that together with visualizing a better world, cooperative conversations and the fact that each of us are special and have something marvelous to contribute. This is my choice of a Super Power and a gift we can all use and give.

More on Lane:

Lane began dancing at age five with Dorothy Alexander, founder of the Atlanta Ballet, and was made a member of the company at age twelve. By age 17, she auditioned for the Actor’s Studio in New York. She was admitted, and at that time she was the youngest actor ever to achieve the honor of becoming a lifetime member. After seeing her work at the Actor’s Studio, Elia Kazan cast her in the Broadway play, JB. She then went on to originate the roles of "Dainty June" opposite Ethel Merman in Gypsy, "Charlotte Goodall" in Night of the Iguana, and "Mick" in June Havoc’s Marathon 33. She has appeared in such films as Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Hawaii, The Barony, and Consenting Adults. She has had guest starring roles in many Movies of Week including: Maybe I’ll Come Home in the Spring, Dial Hot Line, A Real American Hero, and To Dance With the White Dog. She has also appeared in over 40 series including such classics as Gunsmoke, In the Heat of the Night, Kung Fu, The Rockford Files, The Partridge Family, Walking Tall, Serpico, The Waltons, Police Story, McCloud, The Mod Squad, and The Streets of San Franscisco. Lane is now the artistic director of Valkyrie Theatre of Dance Drama & Film, a non-profit organization that utilizes the arts to bring hope, healing and identity to "at risk" children and teenagers.

Tuesday
Sep102013

Sheri Sanders: In Concert Interview

Sheri Sanders, the mastermind behind the revolutionary rock musical theatre audition technique, Rock The Audition, took time out of her busy schedule to once again sit down with "Call Me Adam." This time around we discussed her upcoming not-to-be-missed concert experience at the American Theatre for Actors in NYC from September 25-October 2 (314 54th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Sheri be sure to visit http://www.sheri-sanders.com and follow her Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

1. You are about to kick off your concert tour right here in NYC from September 25-October 2 with a unprecedented format: part concert, part pop music history lesson, and a special inside look at your rock class, Rock The Audition. Why did you choose to format the concert tour this way? Well, people don't have ANY idea what on earth goes on in my classroom unless they take the class. They just know that people change...A lot. I wanted the theatre community to see how I work, what I ask of people, and most importantly, what I stand for as a teacher and liberator. Oh, and I am a performer FIRST so that part is just me getting to "fill my own cup" so it can "runneth over" for everyone else. I couldn't perform while I was pioneering and I hated that part.

Sheri Sanders at Transcendence Theatre Company with Steve Mazurek, Photo Credit: Ryan Daffurn2. What made now the right time to do this concert? Um, these amazing young producers Kenny Metzger and Kristin Morris from the Araca Project contacted me to see if I knew anyone who needed something produced and I said, "yeah! Me!" I tried to do this concert in NYMF a few years ago, but I was so exhausted from writing then launching my book, that producing my own concert was too much for me. So I cancelled the concert until further notice. And now, it's further notice cause Rock The Audition has really hit a new and exciting level. And I've gotten some sleep :) And I have two people producing it now. I don't have to do it all myself!

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing your concert? Your questions are always amazing. That popular music is not just important to study how to audition for Rock Musicals, it also creates a profound opportunity to soul search. Something that I fear too many actors don't get a chance to do because they are told they are "ingenues" and need to sing "ingenue songs" and play "ingenue roles" is ask themselves how they FEEL. About ANYTHING. They have messy raw wild feelings that get completely lost in the shuffle. Popular music allows for those feelings. Insists on them actually!

Sheri Sanders in concert4. Joe Barros is directing. How did you decide that he was the one you wanted to work with? What has been the best part about the collaboration so far? Joe Barros knew me from a concert we did. I had a cold for it, but I was like," OK, cool. My voice is gonna have some texture on it" as opposed to freaking out. So my guess is he remembered that about me and called me in as an emergency replacement in a Fringe show. I had 3 days to learn the show before it opened. Why I chose him for this was that in those 3 days, he allowed me to be who I was, do my best, find my way through, be imperfect, with some real clear guidance and trust. And he is a FANTASTIC director/choreographer that I was dying to work with anyway. So when I asked he was like," F*&% yes." And so was I.

5. The NYC leg of the concert is being presented at the American Theatre of Actors. How did you decide on this venue? What do they offer that another venue might not? This venue came along with getting booked with the Araca Project. The Araca Project is really cool. The Aracas are these FAB producers whom I had the pleasure of working with when I did Urinetown. They have this UNBELIEVABLE mentorship program for Syracuse University. They mentor young producers, writers, casting directors. You name it. So when they asked if I wanted to do my concert with them, that's the spot they do it at! How wonderful for me since thats where Urinetown had its off-Broadway run!

Sheri Sanders with one of her "Rock The Audition" masterclass studentsSheri Sanders and her "Rock The Audition" masterclass students6. As part of this concert, you are going to be bringing students on stage and adjusting their rock songs in front of the audience. What excites about this part of the show and what makes you nervous? Love this question too. The same thing excites me and makes me nervous. I have no idea what they are gonna do. They are brave enough to get in front of the audience. Just like they're brave enough to take my class and get up in front of class as well. But I don't know them, I don't know who they are or what kind of acting technique they have. So it REALLY is a gamble. It feels a bit dangerous and that really excites me!

7. You are also going to have emerging contemporary pop/rock musical theatre artists and songwriting teams to present selections of their work as the "opening act" of the shows. How did you decide which artists you wanted to feature? Well, it's funny cause this was the producer's idea, and the producers and I had different lists. They did the reaching out on my behalf and got some coooool folks, like JOE ICONIS!!!!!!! Then I said hey hey can I get these other folks too? Some are my friends who NEED to be seen, some are HUGE influences in the musical theatre scene. We've got a little of everybody which is awesome.

8. In this day and age of Social Media, how do you feel Social Media outlets have helped your brand? How do you think it will help promote this concert? I think social media has been INCREDIBLE for me because I have created a "Facebook persona" that invites people to come explore lots of stuff with me. If I say, "look at this" or "do this" people do it cause they KNOW I am doing my homework for them about growing in this genre. I am gonna do my BEST to send them to the right places to learn the coolest things. So social media may have turned me into the pied piper. :)

Sheri Sanders proud of her students in "Rock The Audition" class9. What are you looking forward to most about taking this tour around the country? Well I've ALREADY gone to 24 colleges with my classes and that will continue. It's really about, for example, going to Chicago where there are several musical theatre programs and a VIBRANT musical theatre community. And that I get to do this concert as part of my "residency" there so people get to see the impact popular music has had on ME. It turned me into a much cooler person.

10. What do you enjoy most about teaching your students and interacting with your fans around the country? What have you learned from them? This is my favorite question. My students have given me courage. When they break through I come back to my own life and say, "Sher, are you gonna break through your crap like that boy did today? Or sit in your dirty diaper and do nothing about it?" So thats the best part. What their courage gives me. I can speak honestly when I say it's saved my life.

More on Sheri:

Sheri Sanders is the acclaimed author of Rock-The-Audition—a required read in more than a dozen top musical theatre training programs around the country, and her in-demand master class has been a part of the syllabus for students at renowned institutions like Pace University, Boston Conservatory, NYU, Syracuse, Berklee School of Music and Oklahoma City University, to name a few. Sheri has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Out Magazine, Playbill, The Huffington Post, as well as on NBC News, Good Day New York, and on Oprah’s OWN Network. Sheri’s students consistently receive callbacks and are cast in Broadway’s top rock shows, concerts, and national tours; many also number among the top competitors on reality competitions like The Glee Project, The X Factor and American Idol.

Monday
Sep092013

Bobby Cronin: INSPIRED Benefit Concert Series Interview

"Call Me Adam" recently caught up with writer/composer Bobby Cronin who is an Alec Baldwin Fellowship Winner, Dramatists Guild Grant Recipient, and NJ Playwrights Winner for his musicals W2ML, The Concrete Jungle, Sunset City, ‘Til Death Do Us Part, Daybreak, and A Christmas Carol.

Now Bobby has created a new bi-monthly concert series called INSPIRED: A Benefit Concert where musical theatre writers perform songs by other writers that have inspired their work. Each concert will spotlight a charity close to Bobby's heart. Featured in this concert are the ASPCA of NYC and The Last Resort Rescue of NJ. In addition to Bobby himself, INSPIRED: A Benefit Concert will showcase the talents of Brad Alexander, David Are, Carner & Gregor, Drew Fornarola, Michael Holland, Rob Rokicki, Georgia Stitt, Katie Thompson and Michael Patrick Walker.

The first concert is on Sunday, September 22 at 7pm at Stage 72/The Triad Theatre (158 West 72nd Street, 2nd Floor). Click here for tickets!

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

1. INSPIRED, a benefit concert series is your latest creation. It takes today's musical theatre writers performing songs of those who inspired them. What made you want to create this kind of series? I've been wanting to create a benefit concert for a long time now, but it always was on the back-burner due to deadlines and family events, so I just haven't been able to truly find the time to spearhead a benefit. Then driving home from petsitting a couple of weeks ago (I petsit for some extra cash), I was singing along to a song I love on the radio and it hit me: get some people together to sing songs from the radio or iPod that inspired them. Then I thought, "that's been done." So another lightbulb went off and I went a step further: how about taking a group of writers out of their comfort zone and put them behind a piano to perform songs by other writers that inspired their work; their "sound" if you will. And, like a good song, I immediately had a title and a hook!

2. How do you decide which musical theatre writers will be part of each concert? What was their response when you reached out to them about doing this? As mentioned above, I thought asking composers/lyricists would be extremely interesting. We are so used to going to a writer's concert and seeing actors performing their work. And sometimes we see a composer perform their own work, But, we seldom see writers performing other people's work.

We think we "know" a writer from their material, but I don't think that's 100% true since many of us write for characters who are on a certain journey, probably using our own personal approach to said moment, but it isn't always about ourselves. Sometimes we just write a song for no reason or a stand-alone song, but again...it doesn't fully tell an audience who we are as people. So, I thought why not put the writers in the hot seat and have a discussion with them about who they are, what influenced them musically, what are they working on, etc...And, then to see them actually perform! How exciting will that be?

The ten composers will do one song that inspired their work followed by a second song of their choosing: another song that inspired them, a song of their own, a mash up of a song of their own and a song of inspiration, or any variety thereof.

The response was FANTASTIC! Those that weren't available but extremely interested said "if you do another, let me know!" Composers and writing teams I was unfamiliar with contacted me about performing. Plus, I had a waiting list which made me go "Duh! Let's make this a series!!" INSPIRED 2 will be on November 18th, 7pm! And then I'll do another in late January. Hopefully every 2-3 months.

3. What excites you about having this series on it's feet? I love helping people. I love animals. I love writers. I love giving people opportunities (actors, directors, musical directors, etc...). Also, as a community of writers, we are seldom in the same room! Recently, I was lucky to be in a classroom with about 10 writers who are all a part of http://newmusicaltheatre.com and we had SO much fun together and I just knew that we all needed to spend more time together. So this idea kills like 10 birds with one stone (although, I don't think we want to be throwing any stones at birds!).

Also, in the future, I plan on doing a special INSPIRED concert consisting of Broadway performers who are transitioning into singer/songwriters!

4. What do you hope audiences come away with attending? I want them to feel a sense of community and perhaps to go home and do something to inspire someone else. I want them to know that by coming to see some rare performances by those usually behind the scenes, they have helped save the life of an innocent and helpless animal on death row.

Bobby Cronin with his dog Lily5. Each of these concerts will benefit various charities. Two of them are The ASCPA of NYC and The Last Resort Rescue, both dealing with the treatment of animals. How did you decide to partner with them? What other charities are you hoping to give to? As you know, I am a HUGE animal lover. I think I Tweet and Instagram more photos of my dogs and cat and the various dogs I take care of than I do of anything else!

A little known fact: after I decided to no longer focus on directing and to veer into the writing world, I was an animal emergency triage nurse while waiting for my writing career to take off. I thought about becoming a veterinarian or a doctor, but I loved theatre too much. I worked in a shelter too at one point, I have fostered several dogs, and have had numerous dogs of my own (all but one was from a shelter). My first dog "Frankie" was from the ASPCA and my latest dog "Maggie" is from The Last Resort Rescue. So, I wanted to give back to them first.

Our next benefit will be for The Humane Society of NYC which is where I got my sweet dog "Olive" (yes, she is named after SPELLING BEE). I am also going to have The Last Resort again for the next one as they are trying to buy a new facility in order to help even more animals survive the horrible gas chamber (don't even get me started on this!! HOW is this legal?!?!)

In the future, I plan on adding the 11th Hour Rescue in NJ, The WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals), The Mayor's Alliance for NYC Animals, and the list goes on and on!

Bobby Cronin with his dog Maggie6. One of the things I admire about you is your willingness to pay it forward to people and organizations. In addition to having a portion of the proceeds going to the various charities, how do you hope audiences and participants of the concert series pay it forward afterwards? My dream is that this is a catalyst for paying it forward. There is no feeling in the world better than the feeling of helping someone. Yes, I've been walked all over for this Pollyanna-esque belief, but I believe that we were put on this planet to help, not to harm. We each create our own journey, so make the journey a good one by helping someone like a neighbor, a friend, or even a stranger, or a charity that speaks to you like St. Jude's or BC/EFA or the such.

7. Who would you like to perform at an INSPIRED concert that you haven't booked yet? I am trying to represent the various styles of writers in NYC. There are the pop-style writers, the rockers, the classical, the traditional, the comedic, the dramatic, those that represent the voice of youth, those that represent the voice of "wisdom", etc...There are also those who have been working in the business for 20 years and those who have just started the climb, and I'm excited to continue to represent the variety in our community. With that said, of course I would love to have one the "three Stephens" (Schwartz, Flaherty, Sondheim) perform!

8. Since this concert series is all about inspirations, who are some of today's musical theatre writers that inspire you? This is a tough one! I am inspired by so many talented and dedicated writers! Lin Manuel blows my mind. Tom Kitt makes me swoon. Maury Yeston makes me weep. Alan Menken makes me dance and dream bigger. And of course, there are the "three Stephens."

Tuesday
Sep032013

MEL & EL Interview: Advanced Maternal Age at Ars Nova

MEL and ELBackstage Bistro Award winners MEL & EL are Melanie Kinard and Ellie Dvorkin -real life best friends who have known each other since they were twelve years old. Described as a modern-day Laverne & Shirley, MEL & EL have grown up to become a riotously funny musical duo and an NYC cult phenomenon.

MEL & EL are making a triumphant return to the Ars Nova stage for one night only in their new show Advanced Maternal Age! Debuting heartfelt new songs like "Let's Not Be Poor Anymore" and "My Man is Just the Right Amount of Gay", the ladies bring their comedic musical stylings home to Hell's Kitchen. Catch them quick, before EL goes into labor. Advanced Maternal Age will play Ars Nova (511 West 54th Street, between 10th & 11th Avenue) in NYC on Monday, September 16 at 8pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on MEL & EL be sure to visit http://melandel.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

MEL and EL performing1. Who or what inspired you to become performers? 

EL: My mother put the idea in my head when I was little. She is British, and I used to follow her and the rest of my family around imitating their accents at parties. She would say, "You’re such a little actress!" and I guess the idea stuck.

MEL: I think I mostly became a performer because I was terrible at all the other things.

EL: That sounds so negative!

MEL: It’s not. It’s extremely positive. 

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to?

EL: Madonna...

MEL: Bette Midler...

EL: Sarah Silverman...

MEL: We really only work with each other, so this list is both long and ridiculous.

3. Your latest show, Advanced Maternal Age will be at Ars Nova on September 16. What are you looking forward to most about performing this new show?

MEL: I already had my opportunity to perform while pregnant, and now I get to sit back and see how El handles it. Or really, I get to see how the audience reacts to it.

EL: I am excited to try our brand new material. We have three songs that have NEVER been heard by anyone other than our composer/accompanist. It’s always exciting when we get laughs for the first time.

MEL: But what if they don’t laugh?

EL: Then I will just wiggle my belly around. That’ll get 'em.

MEL: That’s cheap, but I like it.

MEL and EL4. You have performed at Ars Nova several times. What is it about this venue that you enjoy most? What do they offer that another venue does not?

MEL: Ars Nova is both cozy and fancy which are our favorite two qualities in a venue.

EL: But, really, you get the intimacy of an edgy, “downtown” location along with this incredible theatre and dressing rooms and staff.

MEL: Also, the bar.

EL: Correct.

5. For fans who have seen your previous shows, what will excite them about this new show and what might surprise them?

EL: For years, our material was inspired by being single in New York City. Now that we’re married with kids, the content is shifting. I think they will be excited by the new material and surprised that it’s just as funny and relatable as the previous stuff.

MEL: Yeah. What she said.

EL, MEL, and Patrick Bodd6. How did you come to work with your accompanist Patrick Spencer Bodd? What is the best part about working with him?

MEL: Patrick and I went to Ithaca College together and were attached at the hip from pretty early on. My student loans were worth it to meet him.

EL: Patrick is the most talented human I know. He can literally do anything extremely well. But my favorite thing about him is how he can tell us we’re both total idiots in a really sweet way.

7. Mel you are a mother already. El, you are about to become a mother. Do you feel motherhood has changed/will change your performance style at all?

MEL: Nah. I have always been the self-conscious one and El has always been the brazen one. Having kids doesn’t change that. 

EL: What she means is, I will still be wearing sequin hot pants and talking about the details of my sex life.

MEL: And I will still NOT be doing that.

MEL and EL at age 128. You have been friends since you were 12 years old. What have you learned from each other over the years? What is the best part about working together and being such close friends? What challenges do you face from having such a close relationship?

EL: It’s going to sound corny, but our biggest challenge is seeing each other enough and finding "friend-time" together aside from rehearsing and performing.

MEL: Barf! But it’s true.

EL: I also think we’ve learned to be more patient with each other.

MEL: We’ve had to. And we’ve figured out how to really quickly disperse any tension. It usually means we just need five minutes to talk like actual people and then we get back to "work."

EL:  And, typically, I speak before I think and Mel thinks before she speaks. It seems over the years we’ve rubbed off on one another a little bit.

MEL: Bitch.

EL: See? 

MEL and EL9. What do you enjoy most about filming your web series The Mel and El Show? How do you decide what each episode will be about?

MEL: The web series was a collaborative effort between us and some creatives at a digital media company called ClearMetrics. They took some of their favorite material from our act and helped us develop it into three initial episodes in hopes that it would be picked up commercially and developed further.

EL: For example, "Tampax presents The Mel & El Show." But Tampax hasn’t come a-knockin' just yet.

MEL: We had a blast filming it and would love to do more, so if anyone from Tampax is reading this, give us a call. 

EL: Say Tampax.

MEL: Tampax.

MEL and EL10. What's the best advice you've ever received?

MEL: The gay ballroom dancer who taught me how to apply stage makeup when I was 13 told me "never blend." In retrospect, I think he was talking about eye shadow, but I was an emotional adolescent and I really took it to heart.

EL: I never knew that story!

MEL: We need to hang out more often!

EL: My mom has always said, "You don’t ask, you don’t get." And I have used that as inspiration many times – especially with Mel & El stuff.

MEL: Maybe you should ask Madonna if she wants us to be her opening act.

EL: I am on that.

BONUS QUESTION:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?

EL: The power to make Mel wear sequin hot pants on stage.

MEL: It’s a good thing super powers aren’t real. 

More on MEL and EL:

MEL & EL grew up in South Florida, where they attended the University Center for the Performing Arts together, and where, due to a shortage of boys in the summer camp program, one of them often played a man.

Described as a modern-day Laverne & Shirley, MEL & EL have grown up to become a riotously funny musical duo and an NYC cult phenomenon. Their critically acclaimed show, MEL & EL: THIS SHOW RHYMES, was developed with Cannery Works and enjoyed a year-long run at The Duplex in NYC's West Village. Their next show, MEL & EL: SHOW & TELL, developed in part at New York Stage & Film, premiered at Ars Nova to rave reviews. MEL & EL: GAY MARRIED headlined Comix and culminated in the pair being chosen as one of the Village Voice's BEST OF NYC.

EL and MEL performingMEL & EL were awarded the Backstage Bistro Award for their song "Fagnet", the Collaboration Award given by the NY Coalition of Professional Women in the Arts and Media and were recently chosen as GO Magazine's Very Best in NYC Comedy.

MEL & EL have hosted and appeared at various events such as The Miss Fag Hag Pageant which raised funds for the Hetrick-Martin Institute/Harvey Milk School, and benefits for The Trevor Project, The NYCLU's LGBT efforts, The Food Bank of New York City, and Habitat for Humanity.

NYC appearances include NYMF, The Hysterical Festival, Jim Caruso's Cast Party, Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad, The Big Gay Variety Show, Dykes on Mics, Homo Comicus, Hedda Lettuce’s Tossed Salad and here! TV’s Busted. You can also catch them at popular venues around town like The Box, Birdland, Gotham Comedy Club, The D Lounge, Le Poisson Rouge, Therapy, The PIT and Joe's Pub at the Public Theater.

Outside of NYC, MEL & EL have performed their show onboard various Atlantis gay cruises, at Harlan's Cabaret in New Hope, PA, the BACCHUS Area 11 conference in SUNY Oswego, at the Women's Auxiliary in Waterford, CT, and at the Primetime Comedy Club in Sayreville, NJ.

Their debut musical comedy album, MEL & EL: SHE'S MY BITCH, is available on iTunes and CD Baby and their web series THE MEL & EL SHOW is now available at themelandelshow.com.

Wednesday
Aug282013

Jim McCarthy: Goldstar Interview

Jim McCarthy is the CEO of Goldstar, but he is also Customer Service Agent Number 1 for the company. Jim has spent the last decade and a half in e-commerce, starting way back at GeoCities before it was bought by Yahoo in 1999. Even before that, he helped to open about 50 Noah’s Bagels locations in California, where he learned about delighting customers, developing employees, and managing high growth. He’s written articles and commentary in Fast Company, Business Insider, and other well-known publications, and has appeared as a speaker at conferences like SXSW, TEDU (part of the main TED conference), INTIX and others. He co-founded TEDxBroadway, which he also hosts and curates. Jim graduated from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA. He also speaks Japanese, writes ghost stories and is a certified lifeguard.

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

1. You are the CEO and one of the founders of Goldstar (along with Robert Graff and Richard Webster), the world's largest ticket booth, offering half-price tickets to various theatre, comedy, dance, concerts, sporting events, and other live entertainment outlets. What made you want to start Goldstar together? You know those conversations you have where you say "Someday, we'll..."? The three of us had been having those conversations about starting a business for a couple years, and 'someday' finally came.

Jim McCarthy with co-founders Robert Graff and Richard Webster2. What have you learned from working together? Trust in equal doses with candor. It's impossible to work with partners if you don't give them the leeway to run the part of the business they're responsible for, but at the same time, if you do that without an atmosphere of candor with each other, that doesn't work either. I imagine putting on those big puffy boxing gloves...I may hit (or get hit) pretty hard, but there's no intent to hurt. The intent is to be honest and get to the heart of a solution.

3. Why did you want to focus Goldstar on entertainment events rather than another area of interest? It's a perfect match for what the Internet/web/mobile technologies do well, which is taking a whole complicated mess of different things a person might be interested in and match them to millions of people, quickly and elegantly. Not just that, but there was and still is a basic breakdown in the world of live entertainment: people want to be at these events more and the events would love to have more people there! Our thought from the start was that's a problem that deserves a solution.

Not only that, but it's fun. You can make a fortune in cement, but it's pretty hard to get excited about it. Last week, on consecutive nights, I saw a baseball game, a rock opera, and a Broadway play. I suppose there's an amount of money I'd take to work in the cement industry instead of this, but it would have to be quite a bit more!

Summer night at the Hollywood Bowl, just one of the many venues Goldstar sells tickets to4. How do you decide which events you are going to sell tickets for? Our goal is to be broad, so we'd like to have a wide range of things in every city that we're in. We've done this for long enough that we can filter for shows and events that are professionally done and are going to be good experiences for our members, though to some degree we do let our members tell us what they think about an event.

In other words, if you're a pro or a talented amateur running an event, your show should be on Goldstar, so call us!

5. Goldstar is a membership driven service, with nearly 4 million members, many of your members being the average age of 37 years old and female. Did you start out trying to get this demographic or did they find you and now you cater to this age group? We paid attention early on to who was most responsive to what we had to offer and then went deeper into that audience as much as we could. It's important to say though that although our audience is 2/3rds women, we have a lot of men in the audience, and they're great members too. Goldstar is for everybody, really, though if you polled 100 women and 100 men, more of the women would respond more quickly.

We also saw that it was really important to many of the venues and shows that we worked with that they reach a different audience from the ones they are already reaching. That could be age, gender, or ethnicity based, or it could be a whole bunch of other things, but we saw that they didn’t need "help" selling discount tickets to the people they already had a strong connection to. What they needed more than anything was to reach a whole bunch of other people who have every reason to be interested in what they’re selling.

6. How do you feel Goldstar has helped inspire a younger generation to go to live events? We're about choices, information, and variety. We make going to live entertainment something that's easier to do, more social, and where you're better informed. I think there are a lot of unintentional barriers to getting out to live entertainment and arts, and we're breaking those down in ways that helps everyone get out there. This especially helps younger adults who generally come to this kind of content a bit later in life.

I also think that there’s a strong connection between making live entertainment part of your life and truly exploring your own personal creativity. People are creative in a million little ways in their work and just in their daily lives, but how much of the time is that creativity really activated? I think everyone, but perhaps young people in particular, want creativity of whatever kind to be part of not just what they do, but in fact who they are. I can’t think of an easier or more fun way to stir your own personal creativity than to see it on a stage as a regular habit. When you see a smart performance, you get a little smarter. When you hear someone funny, you get to be a little funnier. When you see an athlete do something amazing, you feel somehow that you too could strive to be more like them. I think we’re on the midst of a personal creativity explosion and going to live events has a big role to play in that.

7. Goldstar has been in business for over 10 years now. Did you imagine Goldstar would be what it is today when you first started out? What has been the best part about this venture so far and what challenges have you faced? Yes, actually! This is a lot like we imagined it, which means we've been tremendously fortunate. Being a bootstrapped company, the challenges mostly relate to patience. Many very high-powered fads have come and gone in the time we've been in business, and there's a kind of pressure to jump on board those fads, but if they don't make sense, you have to resist. That's tough.

The most fun part is seeing the impact of the business on all the people we touch, including Goldstar employees, the venue and show partners whose businesses we help build, and of course, the millions of people we send to all these great nights out. That's the best thing, really.

8. What do you see for Goldstar's future? In a few years, most people will think of us as the place they go to find something to do. This is already true for a lot of people, but we're uniquely positioned to take that to a mass level. We'll be able to provide people with a good answer to the question of how to figure out what they should do with their free Saturday night.

9. What event don't you sell tickets for that you would like to? Every event belongs on Goldstar, because we have the largest channel solely dedicated to live entertainment and arts in the country. If you want to reach that audience, you need to be there, so the show that I'd like to see on Goldstar is Call Me Adam, the Musical.

10. In addition to selling tickets, you also provide for those less fortunate through your Thanksgiving Appeal where members can provide a Thanksgiving meal to one of the local food banks in their area. How did you decide to start this program ? What has been the greatest reward knowing you are helping so many people? We started this program the second year we were in business because we realized the year before that the week of Thanksgiving is a pretty tough time to try to sell tickets.  We had, really, no money at the time, but what we did have was an audience whose attention we could command for a few minutes with our emails and our website. We thought it would be nice to use that for something, and Goldstar members have always been really responsive to the Thanksgiving Appeal.

It's all to their credit, really. I'm just happy we can facilitate it, but it's about the generosity of the Goldstar members, not about Goldstar. I'm always proud but not surprised at what our customers do for the organizations, and it's one of my favorite things that happens during the year.