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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Broadway (300)

Thursday
Jun122014

Call Answered: Donna Lynne Champlin: ValueVille NYMF 2014

Donna Lynne Champlin, Photo Credit: Laura Marie DuncanCall Me Adam chats with OBIE and Drama Desk award winning actress Donna Lynne Champlin about making her directorial debut with the 2014 NYMF show of Rowen Casey's Valueville which will play from July 7-13 at PTC Performance Space (555 West 42nd Street). Click here for tickets!

For more on Donna be sure to visit http://www.donnalynnechamplin.com! 

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I honestly don’t remember. I think it was always in my bones. My first memory of anything "show biz" was when my mom took me to audit my first tap class. I was three years old, sitting on my mom’s lap, watching a class from the side of the dance studio. A bunch of little girls were doing their routine which included a cute finger wag and the lyrics "Don’t forget your tap shoes!" and I went completely ballistic. Normally a very calm kid (according to my Mom) she immediately took me outside to find out what was wrong. Apparently, I was SO indignant that she had taken me to dance class unprepared as the song CLEARLY stated "DON’T FORGET your tap shoes" (of which I had none) that I had flown into an absolute rage. After my mom stopped laughing, we picked up a pair of tap shoes on the way home and that was the beginning of the end, I guess.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Ooh. That’s a long list but I am a huge Randy Newman fan and I was absolutely devastated that I was not available to audition for the FAUST they’re doing at the ENCORES! Off Center Series this July. My audition book is wall-to-wall Randy Newman, and pretty much my whole wedding "score" (ceremony, cocktail hour and reception) was 75% his stuff. I think he’s an absolute genius, both as a musician and a story-teller and I would love to just be in the same room to watch him work.

3. You are making your directorial debut in ValueVille, the NYMF show running from July 7-13. What made you decide that now and this show was the right time to make your directorial debut? In all honesty, people have been asking me to direct for years and I’ve always said "no" for various reasons but I just couldn’t say "no" to ValueVille. Long story short: I was a judge for the NYMF 2014 season and ValueVille was my #1 pick of the season. I just found it to be so incredibly funny and insightful, but also very different from most of the scripts I see submitted to NYMF. On paper it’s got that rare quality of being both very commercial while also being artistically and intellectually satisfying. The best way to describe Valueville is that it’s like NO EXIT meets A CHORUS LINE. Cool, right? Anyway, I submitted my notes and suggested dramaturgical fixes along with my rankings, like I do with all the shows and about three weeks later NYMF called me to say that the writer of ValueVille (Rowen Casey) had liked my notes so much, he wanted me to direct it. After a few phone calls with RC (who lives in CA) we both decided to take the NYMF plunge together and I have to say (knock wood, toi toi toi, etc), so far so good.

4. What made you want to shift some of your career focus to directing? Again, a big part of my decision was the piece itself. It’s not so much that I’ve had a burning desire to direct (quite the opposite). But I just really believe in ValueVille immensely as a new musical and directing it (after some serious soul searching) was something I genuinely wanted to do. I’d never felt that before about a directing opportunity so I decided to go with my gut on this one and say "yes" for once.

Also, having done numerous NYMF shows as an actor, "celebrity judge," etc, I felt confident that this festival was the perfect place for me to debut directorially. Knowing the NYMF staff already to be such incredibly competent, intelligent and kind people, I knew that if I ran into "first-time" directorial issues or had to ask really basic questions, that I would be helped and encouraged in my process and not treated like an ignorant newbie. I’m looking at this whole thing as a chance to learn everything I can about being a director in the safest environment possible, which for me is NYMF. That way, if directing is something I want to pursue more of in the future, I will be able to go further outside my comfort zone theatre-wise and have the confidence that I will already know experientially what is expected of me especially in pre-production.

And not for nothing, having done many NYMF shows over the years I know exactly who is the best design, management and artistic people team-wise and I have to say, I’m 100% confident that I’ve succeeded in surrounding myself with THE best people NYC has to offer. My main hope (besides their talents making ValueVille the very best it can be) is that their brilliance will also make up for any unforeseeable directorial deficiencies I might have.

NaTasha Yvette Williams as "Sharonda" in "ValueVille"5. What excites you about directing and what makes you nervous? At first I was so excited about the idea of having more control over the process. As an actor, you’re pretty much the lowest man on the totem pole and I always imagined being a director was way more satisfying in the decision-making department. Ironically, I’m already learning that the control you gain in overall aesthetic, you lose once the show is onstage. I’m so used to having control as an actor ON stage, that I totally forgot that the director has NO control once you’re in a run. So…I’m excited about having conceptual control and I’m really excited about our fantastic cast and working with all of them in rehearsals. But I am admittedly absolutely terrified of that first performance where I will most likely be sitting helplessly in the audience, muttering every single line in the show like an escaped mental patient.

6. What are you looking forward to most about working with the cast of "ValueVille"? Oh man. We have SUCH a stellar group of actors. So smart. So talented. I can’t WAIT to see how they lift the script and score off the page. I can’t wait for their ideas. I can’t wait to be surprised by them, and honestly, I can’t wait for them to answer some problems that I haven’t solved yet. I think all of my favorite directors I’ve worked with at some point in the rehearsal process have said "I don’t know" in the room and as an actor, I always trust those directors the most. Because if you come into the rehearsal process with all the answers, then your actors are just puppets. But if you leave room for them to come up with their own answers to legitimate problems you haven’t solved, it always ends up a more organic, collaborative and bottom line, better show in the end.

7. What do you think it will be like to be part of NYMF as a director as opposed to a performer? Already in pre-production, I am learning SUPER fast just how much work and thought and preparation happens before that first day of rehearsal when the actors start their process. I always suspected there’d been a few phone calls, maybe a meeting or two before the first day of rehearsal amongst the designers and artistic team, but now I know first hand that the first day of rehearsal is actually the middle of the process for everyone else involved. I think my experience as a director already (even though as an actor, I have always had a tremendous respect for absolutely everyone involved in putting up a show) has greatly deepened my appreciation for exactly WHAT everyone else does off stage. General Managers, Casting Directors, Production Managers, Stage Managers, Designers, etc…being a director has brought me literally into everyone else’s off stage process and it’s been a truly humbling adventure thus far. I thank God every day for this amazing collection of people who’ve agreed to work on ValueVille with me.

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? Never be a second rate version of someone else. Always be a first-rate version of yourself.

9. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That perfection is impossible, which is what makes it the best thing to strive for.

10. Favorite skin care product? L’Oreal Active Daily Moisturizer. I swear by it. That and lots of water.

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? These days? The ability to be in at least three places at once. Definitely.  

Donna Lynne Champlin, Photo Credit: Laura Marie DuncanMore on Donna:

A native of Rochester, New York, OBIE and Drama Desk award winner Donna Lynne Champlin has been performing since her very first tap solo in a local variety show at the age of four. Her childhood was a veritable whirlwind of lessons, community theatre productions, and national and international competitions in voice, piano, flute, theatre and dance. Having had the good fortune in her career to use these varied talents, she has deservedly earned the reputation for being a proverbial "quadruple threat."

Donna graduated with high honors from the prestigious Musical Theatre Program at Carnegie Mellon University. She also received intensive training in Shakespeare and Chekhov at Oxford University on the Advanced Acting Scholarship and The Vira I. Heinz Grant to study abroad. While still in college, she received her Equity card playing "Dorothy" in The Wizard of Oz with the celebrated Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.

Donna Lynne Champlin in Broadway's "Hollywood Arms"Donna made her New York Debut at Carnegie Hall in a concert version of Very Warm for May in the title role under the direction of acclaimed conductor John McGlinn, and her Broadway debut followed in James Joyce’s The Dead, in the role of "Mary Jane." In her next Broadway turn, she earned enthusiastic reviews as the delightfully eccentric "Honoria Glossop" in the Alan Ayckbourn/Andrew Lloyd Webber musical By Jeeves. Next came the opportunity to work with Carol Burnett and Hal Prince in Hollywood Arms – the dramatization of Carol’s biography. National reviewers proclaimed Donna a "show-stopping star in the making" and described her performance as "brilliant", "a triumph", and "a tour de force."

In 2006 Donna played "Pirelli" (and the accordion, flute and piano) in the groundbreaking Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd where critics characterized her performance as both "hilarious" and "superb." In May of 2009, she joined the Broadway company of Billy Elliot as the principle female dancer, "Lesley."

Donna Lynne Champlin in Prospect Theatre's "Working, the Musical"In 2013 she won a Drama Desk Award for her Off-Broadway performance in as "Woman #3" in Working, The Musical at the Prospect Theatre. Her performance as "Cora Flood" in the production of The Dark At The Top of the Stairs, hailed by the NY press as "perfection," "brilliant" and "a privilege to watch," earned her the prestigious 2007 OBIE award.

Since winning the OBIE, Donna went on to win other acting accolades for her Off Broadway work such as the NYMF Award for "Outstanding Performance" in not one but three productions namely as "Gracie" in Flight of the Lawnchair Man in 2006, "Kate" in the daring and brave new musical about child abuse, Love Jerry in 2008 and as "Jane Austen" in the innovative take on a beloved classic Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Other Off-Broadway appearances include Bury The Dead, First Lady Suite, My Life With Albertine, The Audience, Reunion, and City Center Encores! Bloomer Girl. National Tour roles include what critics called "a high octane performance" as legendary hoofer "Ruby Keeler" in the national tour of Jolson.

Donna Lynne Champlin in "Simply Sondheim"No stranger to concert work, Donna has starred as "Daisy" in The City Center Encores! Production of Bloomergirl. She has received rave notices for her many concerts with the Town Hall Series, played "Sophie" in Master Class opposite Edie Falco at the Broadhurst produced by the Metropolitan Opera (the MET), performed alongside the legendary Len Cariou in the Simply Sondheim inaugural concert celebrating the opening of the new Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts, and has sung in concert with some of the most illustrious orchestras in the world including the London Symphony and the Rochester Philharmonic.

Throughout her career, Donna has received numerous awards besides the OBIE and the Drama Desk, including the prestigious Princess Grace Award from The Princess Grace Foundation, the Presidential Scholar in the Arts Grant from The National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, The Anna Sosenko Trust, The Charlie Willard Memorial Grant and the title of National Tap Dance Champion for four consecutive years from the Dance Educators of America.

Her film credits include My Father's WillThe AuditionThe Dark Half, By Jeeves, and Sweet Surrender.  TV credits include a 2013 CBS pilot Mother’s DayLaw And OrderLaw and Order SVU, The Annual Tony Awards on CBS, The View (guest star), The Rosie O'Donnell Show, and Regis and Kelly and as "Emily Dickinson" of the PBS Voices and Visions series. 

Her self-produced solo debut CD Old Friends was voted "One of the Best Ten Albums of 2009" and critics have hailed it as "brilliant," "a masterpiece" and "breath taking." She can also be heard on many cast albums including Sweeney Todd, By Jeeves, 3hree, Albertine, Reunion as well as Our Heart Sings, The Lady and the Slipper, and Have a Heart (as well as many voice-overs).

Donna also continues to perform her critically acclaimed one-woman show Finishing The Hat in NYC (most recently SRO at both ARS NOVA and BIRDLAND) and across the country, along with teaching acting master classes at many prestigious colleges such as Carnegie Mellon University, Hartt and NYU.

Of particular importance to Donna is her regular participation in many benefits for two of her favorite charitable organizations, BCEFA, the MDA and The Actors’ Fund.

Donna Lynne Champlin "Finishing The Hat"Offstage, Donna’s life is as colorful and as versatile as the characters she brings to life onstage. In addition to being an accomplished performer, writer, stand-up comedienne, pianist, composer, musical director and choreographer, she enjoys an eclectic array of hobbies and special interests including metaphysics, mystic history and philosophy. She is currently working on two books, a humorous non-fiction book inspired by her (mis)adventures in the theatre and the other a "how-to of comedy." Donna lives in New York City with her husband, actor Andrew Arrow (www.andrewarrow.net) and her son, Charlie.

Sunday
Jun012014

Call Answered: Polly McKie Interview

Polly McKie, Photo Credit: Kevin O'BrienI was first introduced to Polly McKie when I attended Sophie's Open Mic Spotlight Series in 2013 because my friends Ethan Paulini and Christopher Sidoli were being featured. It was in that moment, I fell in love with Polly's humor, charm, and talent! As a result of that evening, I got to do a limited run live interview show as part Sophie's Spotlight series. From my first show, Polly (and everyone at Sophie's) embraced me with open arms. I was made to feel at ease right away and that led to 8 weeks of more joy than I could have ever asked for. Like Polly mentions below, Mondays became my favorite night of the week! So, now, I am beyond excited to have been able to sit down with the talent that is Polly McKie and get inside her heart, soul, and mind!

For more on Polly be sure to visit http://www.pollymckie.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and YouTube!

Polly McKie and Kathryn Kates (from "Orange is the New Black) in Theater for the New City's production of "Dollface"1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Oh, it's hard to pinpoint exactly who or what.  I'm the youngest of five children so was always looking for attention! I was brought up with parents (both teachers) who love music and the theatre and I was taken to shows from as early as I can remember. The first big professional London production we saw was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat when I was 7. I was always in every school production, starting with "Mary" in the Nativity when I was 5 and ending with the role that made me realize this was what I wanted to do as an adult, in my last year of school: "Meg Brockie" in Brigadoon. In between I worked with some wonderful professionals and it's only now, as an adult, that I realize what an honor it was to sing and act alongside Bill McCue (A famous Scottish talent) and go on tour to Orkney with a new musical called The Two Fiddlers by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

I'll never forget a particular trip to London when I was about 13 or 14. My dad had booked tickets for Follies and he told me what it was about and I thought it sounded boring. I went and it changed my life! I still get goosebumps when I think about it. Eartha Kitt sang "I'm Still Here" and I clapped so hard I thought I would burst. I bought the CD and became obsessed with Sondheim and wanted to sing all his songs. I still want to. And I often do.

Polly McKie in "Beauty and The Beast"2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Oh, so many! I want to work with actors who have passion and I always love working with experienced people I can learn from.

I love Meryl Streep (of course), Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. What links these women for me is how they come across as genuine (off camera and on). I can imagine sharing a joke with them. All three have a reputation for being fun on set. When Judi Dench and Maggie Smith work together they have a reputation for getting fits of the giggles. They also exude humility in spite of their phenomenal success. I firmly believe that's why their work is so consistently good. You see so many actors who become stars let it go to their head and they stop being relatable and that comes across in their acting. I wouldn't say no to a love scene with Colin Firth, George Clooney or my new obsession, Bryan Cranston.

Above all, famous or not, I want to work with people who take it seriously but are willing to have fun. People who are modest and care about the craft more than they care about the fame.

Polly McKie in City Hall Bermuda's production of "Cabaret"Polly McKie in "After The Circuit" at The Connelly Theatre in NYC3. You have performed in numerous stage productions both stateside and internationally. What do you like most about performing around the world? What similarities and differences do you notice between audiences and the theatre scenes in general as you travel? I love travel and seeing different cultures. Performing in such a variety of spaces with such culturally different audiences is fascinating. I recently went to see a friend in a Scottish play Off-Broadway at 59E59. Apparently the stage manager noted that evening that there must be a Scot in the audience because of things getting laughs that had not with all American audiences. Sometimes humor travels, but some jokes are very local too.

The thing about theatre, wherever you are in the world, is that people who love theatre LOVE it. And no matter how many movies and new technology we have, nothing beats live theatre. That is universal.

One very big difference I have noticed is that in the U.S. audiences will clap if a star name comes on stage and are often very quick to give a standing ovation. That does not often happen in the U.K.

Polly McKie in Lola's music video "Hate U 2"4. In addition to theatre, you have worked in film/television. What do you like about working in each medium? At first I thought I would not enjoy working in film and TV but I have really grown to love it. That said, I am grateful that my background and training is in the theatre. I do not think anything else matches the discipline we receive when learning Shakespeare or doing 8 shows a week. Most of the film actors I like and admire have theatrical backgrounds. And, of course, the medium is different, but I use the same basic principles in my acting. It all boils down to being believable and relatable. We can analyze acting forever (and we do!) but what matters is portraying something real and making people feel something. It's about being a human being and sharing that, no matter the medium.

Polly McKie as the voice of Disney's audio recording "Brave"5. You are the voice of Disney's audiobook Brave. What was it like when you found out you got the job and what is like knowing anytime someone listens to that book, they will be hearing your voice? Getting that job was a thrill. There are so many Irish and English people in New York and most people cannot place my Scottish dialect. So when this came up and they advertised that they wanted a real Scot to be the voice, I knew I had to try. On the day of the audition I was sick but, of course, I went. The waiting room was full of lots of Scottish people. It was a very strange experience. So often, I go in using my American accent for auditions but for this I could be 100% me. Ill as I was, I went in and did my best. I had no real voiceover experience but I had always been told I had a great voice and I know how to tell a story. I have 6 nephews and 4 nieces and I love reading to children. They are the best and most honest audience of all. I went into the sound booth for the audition with one page of copy and I imagined I was reading to one of my younger nieces. The casting director said "Great, now can you imagine you're reading to an older child?" I switched to an older nephew in my mind. I was in and out of the room in those 2 takes and then I put it out of my mind. My agent called me to tell me I had booked the gig and within a week I was in a recording booth with Disney execs in New York and taking direction from the head of Disney character voices online from L.A. I LOVED every minute of the experience. I think the children in my life who hear it are not overly impressed. It's just Aunt Polly reading a story. And that's what it should be.

Polly McKie hosting Sophie's Spotlight Series in NYC, Photo Credit: Dan Yaeger6. In addition to all of the work discussed above, you are also the host of Sophie's weekly Open Mic Spotlight Series in NYC. What do you enjoy most about this? What is it like to watch what could be tomorrow's musical theatre stars perform? I love Sophie's! Monday has become my favorite day of the week. I love hosting. I hear myself and think I am turning into my mother. I insult people and crack jokes. My style is very much like my mother. And, although the humor is biting, the audience knows that it is supportive. We have been labeled the most supportive Open Mic in NYC. I have been to open mics as a performer and I think that is the key. I understand the nerves and excitement that the singers have. I want to make them feel supported and important. Even if you are one singer out of 30, those 3 or 4 minutes that you have are like a Broadway debut for some of these young (or older) artists. There is a comedian who came and sat at the back for the first few weeks and just watched. Then one week he got up to sing and he said he felt safe and described me as being "A cross between a comedienne and a social worker." That is the biggest compliment. That we create a place that feels safe and fun for people to perform.

Polly McKie teaching The Actors Friend, Photo Credit: Vanessa Spica7. You have also started your own coaching classes and workshops for actors. What made you want to teach others? What have you learned from your students? I am from a family of teachers. And I have been a teacher for years. An actress and a teacher. Both are in my blood. My mother probably should have gone into acting and I think she would have but her mother died when she was 17 so she stayed with her father and went to teacher training college. Just as well she did or I might not exist! The two are so closely linked. Some of the greatest teachers are performers. They have to entertain and educate. And I think actors owe it to other actors to pass on what they know. I have had the chance to work with some wonderful teachers and I want to share what I know (even if it is how to learn from my mistakes!) Students always teach us as much as we teach them. There is that wonderful and famous lyric in The King and I

It's a very ancient saying,

But a true and honest thought,

That if you become a teacher, 

By your pupils you'll be taught.

I am far more likely to quote Sondheim but, in this case, this applies.

Polly McKie, Photo Credit: John Knox8. How do you feel living in New York City fosters your acting more as opposed to living somewhere else? I adore New York! It is the center of everything for me. I love London but I instantly felt at home in New York on my first visit. I knew there was a special connection. I love what the city has to offer  - everything! (well, apart from a good fish supper). I still pinch myself when I walk home past Grand Central and the Chrysler Building. I have lived here for almost six years and it still thrills me. I am surrounded by actors and singers. I am immersed in that life and I love it. I can spend what is a pretty average day going to an audition, walking past a celebrity on 14th street, going to see a friend in a play Off-Broadway or on Broadway, and sing at Sophie's. Of course, there are many days of just buying groceries and doing laundry but the first example is just as regular and that's a thrill. It feeds my soul!

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Be yourself and trust your gut.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Ah, Adam, I know you ask this question and I always wondered what I would answer. I think I do not want a super power. I want to be human.

Polly McKie, Photo Credit: Lauren SowaMore on Polly:

Polly was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest of five children. Her father submitted the birth notice "Suddenly as the result of an accident...." The newspaper refused to print it, so here it is for all to read now. A sense of humor is a prerequisite for being part of the McKie family. A family who is passionate about the Arts. Thanks to her parents (both teachers), she was lucky enough to be a regular visitor to the theatre: everything from local pantomimes to Shakespeare, Greek tragedy (her father is a classicist) to West End musicals (her mother writes and directs musicals for young children).

After graduating with an M.A. in Theatre and Philosophy, Polly continued her studies and earned her postgraduate certificate in drama education, deciding to take the sensible career path and work as a teacher. The desire to perform never left, though, and she performed in the ensemble of Sweeney Todd at The Theatre Royal in Glasgow, understudying "Mrs. Lovett" (still a dream role today).

In 2004 she moved to Bermuda where she was in several shows and was lucky enough to work with Martin Lowe (Tony award for Once) and Brian Kite (La Mirada, L.A.) in Cabaret. Her time working in The Beauty Queen of Leenane helped her come to the decision to move to New York and pursue her acting career full-time. At the end of the 2 week run, the rest of the cast was so happy that it was over. Polly wanted it to run forever.

Now based in New York, as an actress, she regularly employs her "American" voice, but she is proud to be the voice of the digital book of Disney's ​Brave.

Tuesday
May202014

Call Answered: David Zippel 92nd Street Y Lyrics & Lyricists: Panning for Gold: Great Songs from Flop Shows

David ZippelCall Me Adam chats with Tony Award winner, two-time Oscar and Grammy nominee, and three-time Golden Globe nominated lyricist David Zippel about being showcased for the fifth time in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series from May 31-June 2. Entitled Panning for Gold: Great Songs from Flop Shows, this edition of Lyrics & Lyricists will feature the talents of Brent Barrett, Lorna Luft, Christiane Noll, Jessica Lea Patty, Lillias White, and Tony Yazbeck. Click here for tickets!

For more on 92nd Street Y visit them at http://www.92y.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Lillias White1. Who or what inspired you to become a lyricist? My parents took me to see The Music Man in a tent in the round when I was 7 or 8 years old and that began my love affair with the theater. From then on I listened to every cast album I could get my hands on and that is what ultimately inspired me to be a lyricist.

Brent Barrett2. From May 31-June 2, you are once again being featured in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series. What are you looking forward to most about this show? This show will be a bit different than previous shows. Because there will be so many different lyricists and composers, it will be much more eclectic. And because it is comprised of songs from musicals that were not, initially successful, I am hoping the show will be filled with surprises. The title is Panning for Gold, but if you will allow me to mix my metaphors I am hopeful that the audience will feel that they have discovered diamonds in a coal mine.

Lorna LuftTony Yazbeck3. This is your fifth time being featured in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series. What does it mean to you to be featured so many times? I, of course, feel honored to be invited back. When I was a kid the Sunday Times was my link to the theater and reading about Lyrics and Lyricists made me eager to be in the audience. It wasn't until after I finished college and law school and moved to NYC that I actually got to be there in person. But, I had a collection of cassette tapes of great lyricist’s shows from the Lyrics & Lyricists series including Alan Jay Lerner, Yip Harburg and Sheldon Harnick (who was one of my heroes and is still one of my heroes and now my friend, too). There are so many things I am looking forward to. The audiences share my enthusiasm for the American Songbook and Broadway so I always look forward to reconnecting with them. Also, the Lyrics & Lyricists series is a magnet for great singers. I always know that when I ask them to join me there, if there is any way they can make themselves available, they say yes. And, of course, the team at the 92nd Street Y and the Lyrics & Lyricists staff are always so welcoming. I look forward to working with them, again, too.

Christiane Noll4. What do you like about having your music performed in this space? The theater is beautiful, the audiences are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the singers are always terrific. What could be more fun?

5. What do you hope audience members come away with after seeing the show? I hope they will appreciate that even in works of art that don't receive critical accolades or find popular acceptance there can be great elements. And I hope they will leave feeling thoroughly entertained.

Jessica Lea Patty6. What are you looking forward to most about having this talented cast perform your music? This cast is made up, mostly, of friends and all are performers whose work I admire. I tried to choose songs that would excite them and also show off what makes them unique. Since I get to pick the songs it's like having some of my favorite singers sing some of my favorite songs. My hope is that the audience will enjoy it as much as I will.

BONUS QUESTION:

7. You have received a Tony award (City of Angels), two Oscar and Grammy nominations ("Go The Distance" from Hercules and "Reflection" from Mulan), and three Golden Globe nominations (Hercules, Mulan, and The Snow Princess). What is it like to get this kind of recognition for your work? It feels really good. And it brings a little more attention to your work which is also wonderful. It allows you to hope that you will be able to keep working which is best of all.

David ZippelMore on David:

One of the most acclaimed and sought-after lyricists working today – and one of the few contemporary songwriters to have achieved success on Broadway, in Hollywood, and in the pop music world – David Zippel has won the Tony Award (City of Angels, his Broadway debut), two Oscar and Grammy nominations ("Go the Distance" from Hercules, a #1 hit for Michael Bolton; "Reflection" from Mulan, featured on Christina Aguilera’s multi-platinum debut album) and three Golden Globe nominations (Hercules, Mulan and The Snow Princess). His Broadway credits also include The Goodbye Girl (written with Marvin Hamlisch and Neil Simon), The Woman in White (with Andrew Lloyd Webber, for which he garnered a Tony nomination), the musical stage version of Wendy Wasserstein’s bestselling children’s book, Pamela’s First Musical, written with Wasserstein and City of Angels collaborator Cy Coleman, and special material for Liza Minnelli’s Tony Award-winning Liza’s at the Palace. David is also an Oscar nominee for the animated Disney movies Hercules and Mulan and more recently wrote the lyrics for "The Star-Spangled Man" featured in the film Captain America: The First Avenger. This is David's fifth Lyrics & Lyricists appearance. He hosted two shows celebrating Cy Coleman; was one of three host-subjects for The New Breed, a show focusing on new lyricists; and served as artistic director for It Started with a Dream: David Zippel – Lyrics He Wrote, Lyrics He Wishes He Wrote.

Sunday
Mar162014

Call Answered: Facetime Interview at The Metropolitan Room with Sarah Rebell and Samantha Massell

"Call Me Adam" sat down with lyricist Sarah Rebell and actress/singer Samantha Massell at The Metropolian Room in New York City to talk about Sarah's show Past Is Present: The Lyrics of Sarah Rebell which takes place on March 24 at 9:30pm at The Metropolitan Room! Click here for tickets!

For more on Sarah be sure to visit http://www.sarahrebell.com and follow her on Twitter!

For more on Samantha Massell be sure to visit http://samanthamassell.com and follow her on Twitter!

Interview with Sarah Rebell and Samantha Massell:

Sarah RebellMore on Sarah:

Sarah Rebell recieved her MFA in musical theater writing (book/lyrics) from NYU Tisch. Her work has been performed in cabarets at 54 Below, the Berkshire Musical Theater Writers Lab, the Duplex, the Laurie Beechman Theater, NYU and the Sharon Playhouse. Her songs have been recorded by Broadway stars Melissa Errico, Alexander Gemignani, Rebecca Luker and Laura Osnes, among others. Her musical ROSE PETALS (written with Elizabeth Hagstedt) was an official selection of NYMF 2013’s developmental reading series.

In April 2013, OFF THE WALL, an original musical with book & lyrics by Sarah Rebell and music by Danny Abosch, was presented at NYU. The cast featured Alexander Gemignani, Jaclyn Huberman, Craig Laurie, Patricia Noonan and Jason "SweetTooth" Williams. Other NYU musicals include TYRANNY’S BED, a one-act chamber musical written with John Grimmett, which was presented in May 2012, also starring Alexander Gemignani.

She has been a publicity consultant for cabarets featuring Emily Bergl, Anastasia Barzee and Katie Thompson and has produced master classes with Kait Kerrigan, Georgia Stitt, Pasek & Paul and Susan Blackwell.

Sarah graduated from Vassar College in 2011 with a BA in Drama & Victorian Studies. While at Vassar, she wrote the book & lyrics to ROSE PETALS, an original Victorian musical, as her senior thesis. Sarah currently works in the marketing department at SpotCo, one of Broadway’s premier advertising agencies. 

Samantha MassellMore on Samantha:

Samantha Massell is an actress, singer, dancer, and writer based in New York City who has appeared on Broadway, in films, and in a variety of commercials. A native New Yorker who had a childhood obsession with the Annie movie, Samantha was eight years old when she asked her mother for an agent. It was pretty much all over from there. Samantha is a recent Phi Beta Kappa graduate of The University of Michigan, where she double majored in Musical Theatre and English.

Friday
Mar142014

Call Answered: The New York Pops On Broadway with Steven Reineke, Andrew Rannells, and Stephanie J. Block

"Call Me Adam" went behind-the-scenes at The New York Pops On Broadway press event to speak with The New York Pops Musical Director and Conductor, Steven Reineke as well as their special guest stars Broadway Tony Award nominees Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannells.

The New York Pops On Broadway will take place on March 21 at 7:30pm at Carnegie Hall (57th Street & 7th Avenue) in New York City! Click here for tickets!

For more on The New York Pops be sure to visit www.newyorkpops.org and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Call Me Adam and Steven ReinekeSteven Reineke:

1. The New York Pops, On Broadway, will be presented on Friday, March 21 at 7:30pm. What excites you about this upcoming concert? A lot excites me about this concert. One, it's our first concert back at Carnegie Hall since December, so it's always fun to get back to it. I am also getting to perform with two of my great friends Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannells. We are doing all this great Broadway repertoire. We got to pick it ourselves, so it's like making our own party playlist of what we would want to sing in my living room, except we are bringing it to life at Carnegie Hall with an 80 piece orchestra.

2. Of the songs being performed, what are some of your favorite selections? There are just so many big 11 o'clock numbers in this concert, but if I had to choose, we are featuring the orchestra in some great music from West Side Story, which I never get tired of performing and conducting. Stephanie J. Block does the best "Defying Gravity" I've ever heard in my life, and hearing Andrew and Stephanie do "Move On" from Sunday in the Park with George is another favorite of mine. Andrew is singing a song that I was just introduced to a few years ago by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who wrote the song,  called "Love Who You Love," which has become a bit of a mantra for me. It's just so powerful.

Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannells preview "Move On"

3. Why should the fans come see The New York Pops On Broadway? I think it's a no brainer to come hear Stephanie J. Block and Andrew Rannells sing with this amazing orchestra and we are going to do great hits that everybody loves. We do one night only, which is very special here in this city. I always try to make our concerts an event that if you weren't there, you missed out on something. You have to be there that night because something great is going to happen.

4. This is The New York Pops 31st Season. What excites you to keep going with them? Well, they are the best Pops orchestra on the planet and we get to perform at the finest concert on on the planet, in the best city on the planet. It's quite a thrill every time I get to take the stage with The New York Pops. We've planned out the next season already, which we are very excited about. We continue to grow by leaps and bounds, selling-out all of our concerts. There's a lot of excitement and everyone is just happy to come to work. So, it's a lot of fun to be part of it.

Call Me Adam and Andrew RannellsAndrew Rannells:

1. You are going to be performing once again with The New York Pops on March 21 at 7:30pm in their show On Broadway. What are you looking forward to about this evening? I'm so honored that they asked me to do it. I'm so excited to be working with Steven Reineke again and to be singing with Stephanie J. Block, and while I've known her for a long time, this is our first time singing together. She's no joke, so when you work with her, you got to bring it.

2. You've performed with The New York Pops before, so what excites about coming back to sing with the Pops and work with Steven Reineke again? I was so nervous when I sang with them at their Spring Gala in 2012 that I don't remember it. I mean, I remember that I sang, I think it sounded okay, and then I walked off-stage and I didn't remember anything. So, this time around, I'm sure I'll be petrified, but at least I'll have time to warm up before it. We are doing a whole two acts of many, many songs, so hopefully I'll remember something [laughs].

3. Which songs are you looking forward to performing most? I'm really excited about "Move On" because it's been so fun to bring it to life. I'm getting to sing "Being Alive" from Company, which for every Tenor in my opinion is a dream song to sing.

Andrew Rannells previews "The Streets Of Dublin"

4. If you could give people a reason to come see you perform with The New York Pops on March 21 at 7:30pm, what would that reason be, aside from coming to see you? Stephanie J. Block is a big reason. The New York Pops is a huge, huge orchestra which you don't really get to hear anymore, plus we are going to be singing an array of Broadway songs from classics to contemporary. There is something for everyone.

5. I know The New Normal is not part of this evening, but what is like to go from working in theatre to working in television and how do you feel your training in one helps you with the other? I feel very fortunate that while I was doing The Book of Mormon, Lena Dunham, cast me Girls on HBO. I got to do The Book of Mormon at night and work on Girls during the day, which was very exciting. Lena was so generous and so lovely that after we did the first couple of scenes, she would let me watch the playback of them, since she was directing the episodes as well, so I got to see what we did. I saw I didn't have to project as much for television as I do for theatre. I'm allowed to be as internal as I wanna be because the camera picks all of that up. That was a big adjustment for me. So, by the time I got to do The New Normal, I had done two seasons of Girls already, but The New Normal was a little different because network shows move faster, so I didn't have the luxury to check my work after we filmed, but I was more confident in myself by the time we started filming The New Normal. 

6. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I would love to be able to teleport.

7. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs today. Not always. Sometimes it's a boxer. You have to mix it up.

Call Me Adam and Stephanie J. BlockStephanie J. Block:

1. What excites you about performing in this concert? I'm thrilled to be back with The Pops. I was lucky enough to perform at The New York Pops Gala last year and sang "Don't Rain On My Parade," and Steven Reineke said to me, "You are going to be coming back to this stage singing that song at some point, I don't know when," and that when is now.

2. Out of all the songs you are performing, which ones are you most looking forward to singing, in addition to "Don't Rain On My Parade"? I think Sondheim because I've never performed it professionally. It's challenging, touching, and so beautiful. When you get an 80 piece orchestra to play his stuff there is nothing like it. The list of composers that were chosen for this program are pretty great. In addition to Sondheim, we are also singing Stephen Schwartz, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and so many more). A lot of big notes. A lot of 11 o'clock numbers.

Stephanie J. Block previews "Don't Rain On My Parade"

3. You've performed with The New York Pops before. What do you love about working with them and Steven Reineke? Their musicianship is remarkable, but Steven Reineke is a showman in of himself. You don't just get his back and a baton, you get a guy who is SO invested in his musicians and his performers and we can tell that he is really there with us and it's not a detached thing where the singers are not part of what they are creating and performing. I love that. You can feel his support. He breathes with you. He's the third soloist, well, he's the first soloist actually.

4. If you could give the fans one reason why they should come to On Broadway with The New York Pops on March 21 at 7:30pm, what would it be? On Broadway we are lucky enough to have incredible musicians. There are 15, sometimes 23, but when you hear musical theatre scores with 12 cellos, an entire horn section, 14 violins, there's nothing to explain that experience. The textures, the colors, the nuance, it's really exceptional and takes the music to a completely different place.

5. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Mmmm...I know a lot of people say flying, but I would be invisible. When the time is right, I would love to just disappear and become invisible. I think you would learn a lot and I think you could change the world a lot.

More 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. 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.

Steven ReinekeMore 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, and Principal Pops Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. 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 Fanfare, Legend 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 partner Eric Gabbard.

Stephanie J. BlockMore on Stephanie J. Block:

Stephanie J. Block has established herself as one of the most relevant and versatile voices in contemporary musical theatre. She most recently starred as "Sheryl Hoover" in the Off-Broadway production of Little Miss Sunshine written by James Lapine and William Finn. She received both a Drama Desk and Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of "Alice Nutting/Edwin Drood" in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Other Broadway credits include Anything Goes and 9 to 5: The Musical, for which she earned a Drama Desk nomination. She created the roles of "Grace O'Malley" in The Pirate Queen and "Liza Minnelli" in The Boy From Oz (opposite Hugh Jackman). Ms. Block is best known for her portrayal of "Elphaba" in the Broadway company of Wicked. She also originated the role in the first national tour, for which she won numerous awards, including the prestigious Helen Hayes Award. Ms. Block has sung with numerous orchestras including The New York Pops, Boston Pops, National Symphony Orchestra (under the baton of Marvin Hamlisch), Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Columbus Symphony, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Pops, among many others. For more on Stephanie be sure to visit: http://www.stephaniejblock.com and follow her on Twitter!

Andrew RannellsMore on Andrew Rannells:

Andrew Rannells is best known for his breakout role as "Elder Price" in Broadway’s Tony Award winning musical The Book of Mormon, which was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of "South Park" fame along with Robert Lopez of Avenue Q. The Book of Mormon received 9 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and on the 2011 Tony Awards telecast Rannells brought down the house with his performance of "I Believe." For his work in The Book of Mormon Rannells received Tony, Drama Desk and Drama League award nominations. He also won a Grammy Award for "Best Musical Theatre Album" for the cast recording of The Book of Mormon. He can currently be seen in third season of HBO’s Golden Globe-winning comedy series Girls, from producers Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow. Last year Rannells starred as "Bryan Collins" in Ryan Murphy's groundbreaking series The New Normal for NBC. Rannells is a native of Omaha, Nebraska. For more on Andrew follow him on Twitter!