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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Broadway (357)

Thursday
May142015

Call Answered: 54 Below Conference call with Tony Award winner Randy Graff and Director Will Nunziata: Our Guy, Cy: The Songs of Cy Coleman 

"Call Me Adam" chats with Tony Award winner Randy Graff and Director Will Nunziata about 54 Below's Our Guy, Cy: The Songs of Cy Coleman, which will be presented May 15, 16, and 20 at 7pm! The evening will also star Tony Award winners Lillias White and Cady Huffman and will feature fresh solo, duet, and trio arrangements of some of Cy’s most beloved songs will include selections from his pop standards canon and film scores, as well as his musicals Wildcat, Little Me, Sweet Charity, Seesaw, I Love My Wife, On the Twentieth Century, Barnum, City of Angels, The Will Rogers Follies, and The Life. Click here for tickets!

For more on 54 Below be sure to visit http://54below.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This May you are all starring in Our Guy, Cy: The Songs of Cy Coleman at 54 Below, which was conceived and directed by Will Nunziata. Will, what made you want to create an evening of Cy Coleman? Randy, what made you all want to be part of this concert?

Will Nunziata: When I was asked to put together a concert event celebrating the songs of Cy Coleman, I  looked back on my past year and the directing projects I took on, and three women immediately came to mind - Tony Winners Lillias White, Randy Graff, and Cady Huffman. These women are not only immense talents, consummate singing-actresses, and friends - they also happen to have had the opportunity to spend a lot of one-on-one time with Cy as he built three roles on Broadway for them.

Randy Graff: CY, LILLIAS, CADY and WILL!

Lillias White at 54 Below2. You have all previously performed at 54 Below. What are you looking forward to most about returning to 54 Below?

Will Nunziata: The space is a theatre space. That's how I treat it. The set, the lights, the sound, the room have all been created and are run by Tony Award winning Theatre talents, and I feel so lucky that I've had many opportunities to create events in this very special place.

Randy Graff: I like the beauty and intimacy and history of that room. And I love the wait staff. They are a group of cheerleaders for every performer.

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing this concert?

Will Nunziata: I hope audiences come away realizing the immense talent that was Cy Coleman. He could not be pegged into one category. He moved effortlessly from the pop world, to the jazz world, to the musical theatre world. I am thrilled with the arrangements created by a team of arrangers, including the show's fantastic musical director Eugene Gwozdz. To have Cy's talent brought to life in a fresh way by three women who love him and three women he loved is going to be a very special moment for music & theatre lovers alike. I also want audiences to feel like they've seen "a happening." You have the music of Cy Coleman, these three amazing talents, a killer swinging 4 piece band (Eugene Gwozdz - musical director & piano, Jeremy Yaddaw - drums, Adam Neely - bass, Chris Reza - reeds). Also, the three ladies will be dressed in custom-fitted Carmen Marc Valvo dresses that I was able to collaborate with him and his associate, Matt Carmouche, on.

Randy Graff: I hope they come away with a love and appreciation for Cy's music and versatility, and have a little understanding of Cy himself through our personal stories. Mostly, I just want everyone to have a great time!

Randy Graff at 54 Below4. What has Cy Coleman and his music meant to all of you? What do you each identify most with about his music?

Will Nunziata: His music was part of the soundtrack of my childhood. While my friends were listening to Madonna and New Kids on the Block, I was listening to the Great American Songbook and classic Broadway songs - many of which were his songs and shows. "The Best Is Yet to Come," "Witchcraft," the soundtracks of "Sweet Charity," "On the Twentieth Century," "Barnum," "City of Angels," "The Life," "The Will Rogers Follies," "Seesaw," etc. The list goes on and on! The fact that this was a Renaissance man who was unapologetically cool, hip, and ahead of his time is something to be admired, and these three ladies singing fresh arrangements of solos, duets, and trios of his music are really going to blow people away. Each song in this theatrical concert is its own entity and 3-act play. These ladies know how to "dig" into material and my job is to simply make sure they shine.

Randy Graff: The first Cy Coleman musical I ever saw was SEESAW. It was a seminal moment for me, because it was the first time I could even picture myself on a Broadway stage. I love where Cy's music sits in a woman's voice. It's in the chest..old school...none of this screaming and high belting till the dogs come home. He taught me how to sing "You Can Aways Count On Me.'' I still sing his phrasing. Old school, Sinatra, Capitol Records time...that lives in me and Cy was the one to bring it out. Cy is such a great singer himself and coooooool!

5. If you had to give people one reason to attend Our Guy, Cy: The Songs of Cy Coleman at 54 Below, what would that reason be?

Will Nunziata: Once-in-a-lifetime-event. I put hyphens to make it one word!

Randy Graff: Great music sung by three very different divas you've all seen on Broadway, up close and personal, backed by a slammin' band!

Cady Huffman performing at 54 Below6. One of my favorite Cy Coleman songs is "The Best Is Yet To Come," which you will be performing during this concert. With your best asset, what do you hope your best is yet to come will be?

Will Nunziata: That the Arts remain alive and fresh and that kids' enthusiasm for the Arts is never stifled. The proudest thing I do with my brother, Anthony, besides singing around the country with him, was the formation of "The Will & Anthony Arts in Education Initiative." To travel around the country and giving master classes and talks and affirming music & theatre students' love of the arts and reminding them that their ideas, hopes, and dreams are valid is extremely important to me.

Randy Graff: As I turn 60! That is a great question....I'm not sure and I love the mystery of that.

Will Nunziata Directing7. Will is a visionary director with every concert he directs. He really caters to the performers strengths. Randy, what do you all love about working with Will? Will, what do you love about working with these talented Tony Award winning women?

Will Nunziata: These ladies are the best in the business. They are professional, respectful, hard working, collaborative, and kind. They each bring their own set of specific skills and talents to the table. Each of them as individuals are fireworks. Together, they are bigger and brighter than any Macy's 4th of July Spectacular I could ever imagine.

Randy Graff: I love Will! His passion and excitement about the work and his kindness towards the people he works with. His collaborative spirit and his ability to zero in on each performer's needs, and his overall respect for the process. He gets the big picture, and how to get there in a joyful and patient way. And the man is prepared!!

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

Will Nunziata: The ability to bring this show to Carnegie Hall and to symphony halls around the country. I see it living in that world. And these ladies and Cy's music belong on stages of that magnitude.

Randy Graff: Flying would be handy and fun.

Randy Graff, Cady Huffman, Lillias White9. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it, and what ingredients would you put in it?

Will Nunziata: Ask me after the run of the show!

Randy Graff: I actually had a signature drink back in the Les Miz days for a press event. Since I have a sweet tooth, it was called THE RANDY CANDY. Peach schnapps (the ladies would have some after the barricade scene the last show of the week) and triple sec and maybe orange juice or gin...hahaha....I can't remember but it was SWEET!

Thursday
May072015

Call Answered: Brian Nash: "Forever/After" 54 Below

"Call Me Adam" chats with musical director Brian Nash about his debut solo album Forever/After as well as his album release concert at 54 Below on Friday, May 8 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets and click here to purchase Forever/After!

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

1. On May 8, you are celebrating the release of your debut solo album Forever/After at 54 Below. What are you looking forward to most about this show? The songs on this album are mainly ones that I haven't performed live that often, and getting to perform them and recreate the album arrangements with such a crazy-good band (and string quartet) is really what I'm going to enjoy. I perform solo so often that I rarely get to sing with that many players, so that's what's exciting me right now.

2. Why did you want to have your release concert at 54 Below? I've played so much on other people's shows at 54 Below and did some solo work there right when the club opened, and it really feels like home. The staff there, particularly KJ and Amanda on the tech team, are so good at what they do, and it'd give me a level of comfort knowing that that was going to be my living room for the night. It's big enough to get a real audience in there, but still feels intimate.

Brian Nash performing at 54 Below3. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending your release concert and listening to your album? Well, the album (and the concert, really, since I'll be performing the whole thing in order) follows a really specific timeline and mood...it gets dark, but comes out the other side, and I've always loved albums that hang together as single works that way. The emotional journey of it was really important to me; I try to do a similar thing in my shows and on concerts I've worked on, so I hope it comes through.

4. What made now the right time to make your debut solo album? It was a random confluence of events...I've been performing out of town a lot more over the last couple of years, and really wanted to have something to use as a calling card when I'm on the road, but it would be so expensive to make the album I wanted to make in New York. Then a friend called, saying that he had some studio time booked in Denver and wanted to know if there was anything that I wanted to record, so I jumped at the chance. I couldn't have been luckier, and the studio and players out there were incredible.

5. What was your favorite part of the creative process in putting this album together? Like most projects I've done, the most fun was coming up with the arrangements and orchestrations for it. I love that more than anything, and I'm a whore for strings, so it was always clear that that element had to be there.

Album cover by Preston Burford and Designed by Robbie Rozelle6. Forever/After features songs by Cyndi Lauper, Jason Robert Brown, Jason Mraz, Patty Griffin, and Ben Folds Five. How did you decide these were the artists' songs you wanted to put on your debut album? When the album started to become a reality, I made a list of about 45 songs that I'd possibly want to record. A lot of those that made the final cut have been favorites of mine for years, but as I got down to about the last 15, a story started to emerge, and it became clear which songs were going to tell that story best.

7. How did you come up with the title for your debut album Forever/After? I was married from 2011 to 2014, and as the shape of the album emerged, it became clear that it was telling the story of that relationship. Forever/After is really just what the album is about, the belief that something is truly going to last always, and then, due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, having to deal with the aftermath of that belief becoming untrue.

8. Who or what inspired to become a musical director? I always loved conducting, and wanted to since I was 12. After I started playing the piano at 15, the next thing I wanted to do was to conduct shows, and I started with a production of Jesus Christ Superstar at 16. I love working with actors and singers to help them tell the story musically, and coming at it from a performer's background really helps me do that.

Natalie Douglas and Brian Nash at Birdland, Photo Credit: Seth Walters9. You have worked with some of the biggest names in the entertainment business including Natalie Douglas, Natalie Joy Johnson, Deborah Cox, and Andy Bell. What have you learned from working with them? I've gotten some great opportunities to work with a lot of different people in a lot of different styles, and I think the best you can do is stay open to new sounds, new ways of playing and making music. And really, that's what makes people want to work with you, that exchange of ideas.

10. What's the best advice you've ever received? Following through with that, someone I really admire said in an interview I heard when I was young that artists work as mirrors, and whatever the audience gives, the artist reflects back to them tenfold, and the key was to keep that continual exchange going. I've always felt that when performing, and I try to bring that into collaborations with artists and directors. God knows I have my opinions, but I respond best to being in the sandbox with someone artistically and seeing what emerges.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I'd say flight....I drive in the city, and traffic can be a nightmare. Plus, I travel a lot, and it's so much more fun when you're in control of how you're getting there.

Natalie Joy Johnson and Brian Nash12. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it, and what ingredients would you put in it? Ok, this is a weird one, as I really don't drink, but I'm well known for drinking Evian. By the case, essentially. My perfect drink would be a Mexican Coke with ice cubes made of Evian...you get to come up with the name. :)

13. Favorite way to stay in shape? I've been going to Mark Fisher Fitness for almost the last two years, and they're damn incredible. Any gym that can give you a killer workout while playing the "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Megamix" is my kind of place.

14. Boxers or Briefs? I'm a recent brief convert...specifically, AussieBum day-of-the-week briefs. Sometimes, it's the only way I know what day it is.

Brian Nash, Photo Credit: Dirty Sugar PhotographyMore on Brian:

Brian Nash is known for his regular gigs around town, from Mostly Sondheim and his long running Sunday nights at the Duplex to Co-Dependent Mondays with Natalie Joy Johnson at Therapy. He is the musical director for Atlantis Events, music directing concerts for them with Deborah Cox, Andy Bell, and many others, and has been selling out venues all over Manhattan for over a decade.

Tuesday
May052015

Call Redialed: 54 Below Interview with Lane Bradbury: Let Me Entertain You, Again

"Call Me Adam" catches up with actress Lane Bradbury! This time around we talk about the advancement of her one woman show Let Me Entertain You, Again which will be at 54 Below on Friday, May 8 at 7pm. Let Me Entertain You, Again is a highly personal tour of how Lane went from being an Atlanta Debutante to a performer on "The Great White Way" during the Golden Age of Broadway. Click here for tickets!

1. You are bringing your show Let Me Entertain You, Again to 54 Below on May 8. What are you looking forward to most about performing at 54 Below? 54 Below is a very romantic as well as an elegant environment to perform in. Just being in the room puts the audience in the mood to be entertained and have a fun evening. The stage is very welcoming to a performer because the audience is very close, and contact with them is easy.

Lane Bradbury in a previous production of "Let Me Entertain You, Again"2. What makes 54 Below the perfect venue for this engagement of the show? I first did Sondheim Unplugged last September and that is when I felt that Let Me Entertain You, Again would be a perfect venue for the show. There is a lot of Sondheim in Let Me Entertain You, Again because it tells of my adventures and misadventures in Gypsy. I could just see it and feel in being performed at 54 Below.

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Let Me Entertain You, Again? I would like the audience to have a fun filled evening, as well as being moved and to re-experience or experience for the first time, through the story of Let Me Entertain You, Again, how New York and Broadway and life was in the 1950s.

4. Let Me Entertain You, Again was written by Doug DeVita and directed by your daughter Elkin Antoniou, with musical direction by Joe Goodrich. What has been the best part about working with everyone? You know, I talk about those three incredible people in the show. It has been such a miraculous journey. I would rather you come and learn about them through the story and me on stage.

Lane Bradbury and Elkin Antoniou in a previous production of "Let Me Entertain You, Again"5. How do you feel your relationship with your daughter has grown from working together? My respect for Elkin as a producer, director, choreographer, writing consultant is beyond superlative words. In one of the many versions I had a line that said, "Lou Antonio and I produced Elkin and now she is producing me." I will just say this, she is capable of producing miracles with whom ever and what ever she puts her hand to.

6. You originally performed this show two years ago at Abingdon Theatre. How do you feel you and the show has grown in these past two years? I feel like it is like a good wine. It has developed it’s taste with time.

7. You were the original "Dainty June" in Broadway's Gypsy which starred Ethel Merman as "Mama Rose." What are some stories you can tell about Ethel that are NOT in Let Me Entertain You, Again? We tell it all in the show, I’m afraid.

8. What do you still want to do that you haven't done yet? I want to work with Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey. I want them to write a musical about "Diana" in Next to Normal after she leaves her home and cast me as "Diana."

Lane Bradbury "Let Me Entertain You, Again"9. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? Oh goodness, I just like "Pino Grigio" . . . Actually, I can think of a name "Goliath," which was the name of my Friesian Stallion . . . so it would be a big potent drink, but someone else will have to come up with the ingredients.

10. How do you want to be remembered? What a hard question. What do you want a book? I care about "at risk children," I care about the homeless, I care about turning our tragedies into some kind of a miracles that makes this world a better place to live in.

Lane BradburyMore 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 AnymoreHawaiiThe Barony, and Consenting Adults. She has had guest starring roles in many Movies of Week including: Maybe I’ll Come Home in the SpringDial Hot LineA Real American Hero, and To Dance With the White Dog. She has also appeared in over 40 series including such classics as GunsmokeIn the Heat of the NightKung FuThe Rockford FilesThe Partridge Family, Walking TallSerpicoThe WaltonsPolice StoryMcCloudThe 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
Apr212015

Call Answered: Pearce Bunting: Theatre Exile's: Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at Plays & Players Theater in Philadelphia PA

"Call Me Adam" chats with Boardwalk Empire's Pearce Bunting about starring in Theatre Exile's production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf through May 17 at Plays and Players Theater in Philadelphia, PA (1714 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, PA 19147). Click here for tickets!

1. From April 16-May 17, you will be starring in Theatre Exile's production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. What made you want be part of this production? It all makes total sense to me. Besides being one of the greatest American plays ever written, the role of "George" is one of the most challenging roles I’ve ever read. I say "read" because I’ve never seen a production on stage. I’ve seen the movie, which is brilliant, but the play is a much, much bigger. Joe Canuso, our director, started talking about it a few years ago and I sensed it was coming - an inevitability as "George" would say - and I don’t think I was ready for it until now. Needless to say, Joe and I have been working on passion projects for years together, and this one is the mother lode of all passion projects. Virginia Woolf is taking all of us into areas of character and thought that none of us have explored before - at times it seemed impossible to me - and that’s exactly the kind of work I want to be doing.

Pearce Bunting as "George" and Catharine Slusar as "Martha" in Theatre Exile's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf", Photo Credit: Robert Hakalski2. What do you identify most with about "George" and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Among other things, the regret of not following some of my dreams all the way through; of getting stuck and making excuses and trying to bury the self-loathing of it under layers of craftiness and boozed up, drugged up, justification. Then looking back, resigned and defeated, at these things that I still carry with me. I’ve been sober for 23 years but I still regret some things.

Also, the very thin line between reality and illusion. The games we play with ourselves and our partners; distracting entertainments that slowly, over time, build walls around us. And wondering if there’s a way to blow the whole thing to bits and start again.

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing this production? I hope they feel as if they’re really going through this night with "George" and "Martha" and "Nick" and "Honey" - that they’re there in the living room with us…and then, looking back, after they’ve been through a few months of therapy, that they find there is hope at the end of the play.

Cast of Theater Exile's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf": Back Row: Pearce Bunting, Catharine Slusar, Front Row: Jake Blouch and Emilie Krause, Photo Credit: Robert Hakalski4. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is one of the most well-known plays of all time. What will you be bringing to this production that hasn't been brought before? Having not seen it performed before, I hope we bring fearlessness.

5. You are playing, "George," opposite Catharine Slusar's "Martha." You both have previously starred in Theatre Exile's Barrymore Nominated production of Annapurna. What excites you about reuniting with Catharine? What do you like best about working with her? Catharine and I have very different ways of working. I tend to pull out all my bombs from the very beginning and destroy everything in sight, whereas she slowly inhabits a role, little by little. We do meet in the middle eventually. We have. We get to the point where we start to explore inner space together. What I love most about her is her truth, her stubbornness, her fear and her overcoming of her fear, and in this process, her belching.

Pearce Bunting as "George" and Catharine Slusar as "Martha" in Theatre Exile's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf", Photo Credit: Robert Hakalski6. What made you want come back to star in another production at Theatre Exile? What do you enjoy most about working with this theatre company? We have an agreement - Theatre Exile keeps asking me and I’ll keep coming back. It’s as simple as that. They don’t do easy plays. They’re not afraid. And everyone who works there has a huge heart and a wicked sense of humor. We do it for the profound joy of it - I mean, nobody’s getting rich at Theatre Exile.

7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? In the beginning, I just wanted attention. Then I did it because it felt like where I belonged. Then I seriously started to do it because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Then I saw Angela Lansbury and George Hearn do Sweeney Todd and I knew that I HAD to do it. At last my arm was complete!

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? The threat of an explosion is more interesting than the explosion. (I’m still working on that one)

Pearce Bunting9. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That I’m capable of great things if I can get out of my own way. That I’m smarter than I think I am. That I’m dumber than I think I am. That I have a lot left to learn.

10. You had a recurring role on HBO's Boardwalk Empire as "Bill McCoy." What was the best part about being part of this hit show? The lunch menu - are you kidding me?

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? The ability to see myself the way people who love me see me.

12. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? "Monkey Nipples" - scotch, bitters, a small lemon rind and a drop of honey.

13. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Giulietta Masina, teaching me Italian, making me dinner, flirting with me.

Pearce BuntingMore on Pearce:

From television to film to theatre, Pearce Bunting has acted in every medium. His television credits include recurring roles on HBO's Boardwalk Empire, CBS' As The World Turns with guest starring roles on Law & Order: SVU, Homicide: Life on the Streets, and Young Americans. Pearce has lit up the big screen in The Descendent, Something's Happening to Robin Stark, and Smoke and Mirrors.

On Broadway graced the Great White Way in Mamma Mia as "Bill Austin." He also played this role on the National Tour. His regional credits include A Behanding in SPokane, As You Like It, Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Grapes of Wrath, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Tempest. Pearce has performed in The International Theatre Festival at San Antonio and Plzen, Czech Republic as well as Vienna's English Theatre, and Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

He's a graduate of Yale School of Drama and the recipient of The Oliver B. Thorndike Award in Acting.

Monday
Apr132015

Call Answered: Marilyn Maye: 54 Below: "Her Way, A Salute to Frank Sinatra"

Photo Credit: Kevin Alvey"Call Me Adam" chats with one of our country's national treasures, "Super Singer" (as hailed by former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson) Marilyn Maye about her upcoming show at 54 Below entitled Her Way, A Salute to Frank Sinatra from April 17-30 including a very special afternoon performance on Saturday, April 18 at 2pm, "A Saturday Brunch for the Swinging Bunch." Click here for tickets!

For more on Marilyn be sure to visit http://www.marilynmaye.com and follow her on Facebook!

1. From April 17-30 you are returning to 54 Below with an all new show entitled Her Way, A Salute to Frank Sinatra. What are you looking forward to most about performing this show? It's the Great American Songbook and every song he did was a classic. I believe in that too. All his songs are story songs, vignettes, they're all wonderful stories within themselves and that's the kind of delivery I like to do. Some of the songs are going to be songs they've heard me do before, like the Cole Porter/Johnny Mercer songs, but there are quite a few they haven't heard. Many of his signature songs I wouldn't do until now, now that he's only with us in spirit.

I did this show the year Frank Sinatra passed away in several theatres around the US and it was a two-hour presentation. Now, because there are so many great songs in the show, the challenge is to cut the show down to an hour to do it at the clubs.

Marilyn Maye, Photo Credit: Kevin Alvey2. Out of all the legendary singers out there, what made you want to do a tribute to Frank Sinatra? The main reason, this is the centennial of his birth. As you may know, Adam, the great radio entrepreneur, Dick Robinson, presented me the first "Legend" Award from the Society For The Preservation of The Great American Songbook. I’m singing the great material Sinatra sang and recorded - - - the standards that will always live on if we, singers, continue to sing them for the genuine music lovers. Many of his songs are right for me to sing now because they talk about the autumn of his years and I'm in the autumn of my years, so they are appropriate for me to do. Also, I'm not a Sinatra sound-a-like and I don't think there can be anybody that sounds like Sinatra, so I think it's appropriate to do it from my point of view, you see, the show is called "Her Way" (laughs).

3. How did his career influence you? There were a great many coincidences between the two of us. He entered many amateur contests when he was little and won them and so did I. He worked with bands. I worked with local big bands when I was in my teens. There are a lot of similarities between our careers because I too am of that era, he's older than I, but it was my era when I started working and he was prevalent in that time when I was singing in my teens on radio shows. I'm sure I'll be singing many of those songs at 54 Below that I sang in my teens, like the Johnny Mercer and Cole Porter as I mentioned earlier, but I'll also be singing Gershwin as well.

Marilyn Maye celebrating her birthday4. What do you hope audiences come away with after coming to see this show? I always hope they are entertained. I work TO them and not FOR them. I hope they have a wonderful, happy evening. The joy this time is that on three of the eight nights the show is running we are celebrating some very special birthdays.

The first birthday we are celebrating is Josh Prince (Broadway choreographer and 2015 Olivier Award Nominee) on April 20th. Josh is celebrating his 40th birthday with 40 of his friends who have worked on such Broadway shows as BeautifulWicked, ChicagoAnnieShrekThe ProducersOn The TownMovin' Out, and The Full Monty to name a few. Josh's fiancé, Michael Novak, a principle dancer with The Paul Taylor Dance Company will be at his side to toast the milestone, along with other members of the company who are also close friends. Josh's long-time representative, Mark Sendroff, will be raising a glass as will his agent at WME, Michael Finkle. Entertainment lawyer and Broadway producer, Doug Nevin, restaurateur Robert Guarino, and Broadway director, Marc Bruni, will also be in attendance. In Josh's letter to me he said, he has been a big fan of mine for years and can't wait to ring in the next decade with me and 40 of his nearest and dearest.

The next birthday we are celebrating is Dino Cataldi who is bringing 51 people from Philadelphia for my April 23rd show. Dino is a cancer survivor and he is now not only celebrating his 59th Birthday, but also celebrating the fact he’s discovered he’s cancer free. He purchased 51 tickets because he wanted to bring all the people who stood by him during his medical trial and tribulations. He told me that, mostly, he’s looking forward to seeing the expressions on the faces of those he loves, who have never witnessed the Marvelous Marilyn Maye!

Rebecca Seawright, the first female Assembly Woman representing the Upper East Side, is celebrating her birthday on April 24th (I performed at her recent inauguration). She is bringing 14 people to 54 Below.

Finally, we are, of course, celebrating my birthday, which I celebrate the whole month of April! So, every night with me will be a party!

Marilyn Maye at 54 Below 20135. What do you enjoy most about performing at 54 Below? It's a great room. The sight lines are wonderful. The sound is excellent. It's really a genuine nightclub and very comfortable for me - - - I grew up singing in nightclubs.

6. You started singing when you were just 7 years old. What singers inspired you growing up? Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen McRae, Mel Tormé, Jack Jones, and Jo Stafford.

7. When you think back over your career, what are a few of the highlights you are most proud of? What was the toughest time for you? Oh wow, that's a very tough question. I've lived so long and worked so long, I've worked all my life. It's so hard to say, but the difficult times were more in my personal life, with my husbands, my three alcoholic husbands, yet they were a joy, too. One of them was a great dancer and we owned a dance studio together for nine years. I worked very hard in that studio. I taught in the vocal department and he taught the dancing.  He was a terrific dancer, but an alcoholic. My third husband was a genius pianist and we worked so beautifully on stage, but off stage it was very, very tough. It was very hard because he was such an alcoholic. He was kind of Jekyll & Hyde. He was a wonderful guy when he was sober, but not so nice when he was drinking. Those were my hard times.

These years are my happiest, especially my last nine years in New York. All the people in New York are really the entertainment lovers and they "get it." This year I worked November at Iridium, January at The Metropolitan Room, February at Birdland. Last week I performed in Palm Springs at a private party honoring my friend, Bob Mackie. It’s been a busy, wonderful time in my life...all kinds of different shows and the audiences have been so responsive. It's really been a joy. And now we have eight days at 54 Below.

I've been getting a lot of Lifetime Achievement Awards - last March, the most recent came from the Manhattan Association of Cabaret and Clubs. In May, the Gem Theater, located in the Jazz District of Kansas City, will be presenting me another Lifetime Achievement Award. I, usually, always tell them, "Wait a minute, I'm not finished yet. There's still a lot more to do."

Marilyn Maye teaching her Master Class, Photo Credit: Kevin Alvey8. This actually leads into my next question. What haven't you done yet that you would like to? I would love to do my symphony concert at Carnegie Hall. That would be a really big moment. Beyond that, my fantasy world would be working with "The Muppets." I'd love to have performed a show with them.

I'm very fortunate to be teaching now, doing my Master Classes, and designing shows for other very talented people. That has been a great addition and very rewarding to my life.

9. What made you want to start teaching Master Classes? Many people suggested it, but one friend was most insistent and the more I thought about it, the more I saw that this was a good time in my life to share what I've learned through 80 years of working.

10. What have you learned from your students that you teach in your Master Classes? ?I've learned singing is the greatest therapy when you have a deep passion for it. Those who have a deep passion and really really work at it are the ones who succeed. It's always very rewarding to me when I see that I’ve made a difference.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

Marilyn Maye at Iridium 201411. What's the best advice you've ever received? I worked a great deal in Vegas with the great comedian Shecky Greene. He said to me many years ago, "Marilyn, you try to make your work too perfect. You're too slick. Make a mistake now and then. Show people you're human." And now making a mistake is no problem at all (laughs).

12. What would surprise people about Marilyn Maye? Oh, most people know everything about me. I'm not a closed book or very mysterious. I do have a lot of theories. One is "Flexibility is the key to fun and life." My other motto is "Ever Onward" in all areas. I’m an Aires, I always just forge ahead. My philosophy is "keep moving."

13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I would like to have the super power to have only beautiful music always and for people to concentrate on that instead of what's happening in the world.

Marilyn Maye14. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? I’d call it the "Maye-Time Martini." That’s an apple martini with just with a little more Triple Sec in it.

15. When you were growing up and started performing, did you always feel you'd achieve the success you have? What is it like to look back to being a little girl in Topeka, Kansas, to now being helmed as one our country's most legendary performers? Well, I'm not sure I'm being honored that way. I would be thrilled if that were really true. From your mouth, to God's ear. But it's thrilling in New York that I can walk down the street and be recognized. The show biz friends I've made have been so supportive and fill my life with happy times and purpose.

I've really just worked all my life and not focused on stardom. I focused on work and the quality of work. The main thing is to entertain. The audience is the most important. I always tell my students, "The audience is the star. You're not the star. The audience is the star. You work to them and hope they walk out having had a good time."

16. How do you want to be remembered? Lovingly (laughs).

Marilyn MayeMore on Marilyn:

Marilyn Maye is a cultural and musical treasure. Her entire life has been committed to the art of song and performance. After working as a professional singing performer since she was 15 years old, she was "discovered" by Steve Allen during her eleven-year engagement at the Colony in Kansas City. He presented her many times on his national television show. From those appearances came an RCA recording contract. She has appeared 76 times on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, the record for a singer. Perhaps the simplest Marilyn Maye accolade came after one of her show-stopping appearances on the show, turning to his audience of millions, Johnny Carson said, "And that, young singers, is the way it’s done."

Her place in popular music history was assured when The Arts Council of The Smithsonian Institution included her RCA recording of, "Too Late Now" to include in their significant album of the 110 Best American Compositions of the Twentieth Century.

Ms. Maye has seven albums recorded on the RCA label and 34 singles include the first hit recordings of "Cabaret" and "Step to the Rear." She recorded "Step to The Rear" as the national commercial theme for Lincoln Mercury. Her album of great ballads, The Lamp Is Low, arranged and conducted by Peter Matz, is considered a classic. Her Take Five is noted as 'timeless' by jazz reviewers.

Following her October 2nd, 2014, most successful Kansas City Symphony concert she performed a five day engagement at the famed Crazy Coqs in London. She was received with rave reviews and full houses.

Her recent, September, 2014, five-day-run at New York’s most prestigious jazz room, Birdland, lead to another week’s engagement at Birdland from February, 10th through 14th, 2015.

To celebrate the beginning of 2015, Ms. Maye and her trio appeared at New York’s Metropolitan Room on New Year’s Eve (her fourth consecutive New Year’s eve there) and continued through January 10th.

Marilyn Maye at The Metropolitan Room 2015, Photo Credit: Kevin AlveyIn March, 2013, she completed a two-week run with added Held-Over performances at the prestigious New York nightclub – 54 BELOW. Quote Stephen Holden, New York Times "She has more voice and stamina than most singers half her age. Her voice is full and rich and perfectly in tune, and she displays a voluptuous enjoyment of singing. She is a symbol of resilience." May, 2014, she presented her "Tribute to Johnny Carson" show to sold-out crowds each night. In June her held-over nights were performed to standing-room-only audiences.

Her many symphony concert appearances around the United States include; Philly Pops, Peter Nero conducting, Phoenix Symphony, Doc Severinsen conducting, Florida Philharmonic, Omaha Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Tulsa Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Des Moines Symphony and other orchestras. The Carnegie Hall appearance with the New York Pops honoring Stephen Sondheim was reviewed as follows: "And speaking of star power, it was the lady billed as Special Guest of the evening who brought along the biggest keg of drama dynamite, the performer who got the biggest hand; she was sent out to take a rare second bow. She had the audience at her feet and then on its feet with their standing ovation." In 2013 Ms. Maye made her 2nd appearance at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra and received that same standing-ovation reaction when she sang the tribute to the composer, Frank Loesser.

Marilyn Maye at Joe's Pub 2014, Photo Credit: Kevin AlveyMs. Maye’s 65 engagements, in the last nine years, at various venues in New York include multiple-night runs at the Metropolitan Room, the jazz venue, Birdland, five two-week runs at Feinstein’s Loews Regency Hotel, New York’s Town Hall, the 92nd Street Y Theater, 54 Below, New York Symphony Space, The Appel Room at Lincoln Performing Arts Center, last month at the Iridium and for the last ten years at Rose Hall on the Mabel Mercer Convention. Her engagements throughout the country include Hollywood’s jazz club - Catalinas, The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach, the Kingsborough College, Brooklyn, NY, the Regent Seven Seas World Cruise, San Francisco’s Razz Room, West Coast Jazz Party, Dakota’s in Minneapolis, The Sheldon Theater, St. Louis, Gem Theater and the jazz room, Jardine’s in Kansas City, the Art House, Provincetown, The McCallum Theater, Palm Springs and many others. For the past 58 years she’s appeared at the beautiful lake resort, The Inn at Lake Okoboji.

Maye’s starring roles in theater include Can Can, Follies, Mame and Hello, Dolly.  Maye recorded the album, Marilyn Maye Sings All Of Hello, Dolly, with liner notes by composer, Jerry Herman, which was released as a CD.

Marilyn’s recordings on compact disc include, Rapport, The Singing Side of Life, Maye Sings Ray (Charles), and Super Singer.

In The Wall Street Journal last year, Will Friedwald wrote, "When going to hear Marilyn Maye, you’ll find on one side of the room are the Broadway and cabaret people, who tend to like their singing big and theatrical, with a lot of drama and stage presence. On the other side is the jazz crowd, who want everything hip and cool and understated. Ms. Maye is the only pop-song diva working today who can satisfy both crowds at once."

Stephen Holden, New York Times, wrote "As Marilyn Maye threaded her way from the stage through a packed house of cheering admirers at the end of Friday’s opening-night performance of Mercer, The Maye Way, I overheard comparisons to Judy Garland’s 1961 concert at Carnegie Hall. You can sense a similar electric connection between singer and audience."

Cabaret Scenes magazine recently noted, "She’s reached the pinnacle of icon status....Ms. Maye casts a unique spell on the young." And Opera News raved "No entertainer gives you more in terms of great music, great theater, and great comedy."

Marilyne Maye, Photo Credit: Kevin AlveyMs. Maye conducts her master classes "The Art Of Performance" in New York, Los Angeles, Florida, St. Louis, San Francisco and Kansas City. She also, coaches privately, sharing the techniques and the experiences of her lifelong career. When she creates and directs acts for other singers she receives raves in their reviews.

Will Friedwald, Wall Street Journal, reviewed singer, Gabrielle Stravelli, "Her current show starts in a manner reminiscent of her director-mentor, the brilliant Marilyn Maye, with a fast, swinging jazz waltz medley, which proves that it's no sin to learn from the best."

Rex Reed, New York Observer, reviewed one of her performances, "Her show is not to be missed…….It’s a master class in singing conducted by a polished pro who majored in "unforgettable." She makes you think of forgotten words like "craft" and she handles a room like a political candidate."