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Entries in Broadway (295)

Friday
Jan242014

Call Answered: Frenchie Davis Metropolitan Room Interview

Frenchie DavisBroadway star and The Voice contestant Frenchie Davis is making her Metropolitan Room debut with her musical soulmate/non sexual life partner, pianist and comedian Kathryn Lounsberry as they proudly present The French & Kat Show. This Pop Cabaret is one part Bach, two parts Kander & Ebb, a dash of Britney, and a sprinkle of Claire Huxtable all served in a Blanche Devereaux martini glass-neat. French and Kat draw audiences on their voluptuous musical bosoms with legit, inventive, and soulful arrangements of songs spanning every decade.

The French & Kat Show will play The Metropolitan Room from February 8 at 7pm, February 9 at 4pm, and February 10 at 7pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Frenchie be sure to visit http://www.frenchiedavis.org and follow her on Twitter!

Frenchie Davis1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I have been inspired by so many different performers but my favorites include Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Nell Carter, Whitney Houston, Freddie Mercury, Sylvester, and Grace Jones. Aside from the inspiration I take from my Idols, I also take much inspiration from my genuine love of singing.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Um....EVERYONE! Sorry. I didn't mean to yell but there are so many people I'd love to work with, I got excited. I sat next to Rob Marshall at a benefit once. That's pure magic waiting to happen.

3. From February 8-10, you will be presenting (with Kathryn Lounsberry) The French & Kat Show at the Metropolitan Room. What excites you about this upcoming show? I think I am most excited about the fact that it combines my love of pop music with my love of musical theatre. Someone once hilariously described the show as Broadway meets Britney and I think that's the perfect description.

Frenchie Davis Singing4. What are you looking forward to most about making your Metropolitan Room debut? I am looking forward to seeing all of my theatre friends and Rent Heads in the audience. I am looking forward to being back in New York. For an artist and performer, New York is truly one of the most magical places in the world.

5. What does the Metropolitan Room offer you as a venue that another space might not? I love the intimacy of the Metropolitan Room. It allows us to feel as if the audience is a part of what's happening on stage and it allows the audience to feel the same.

6. How did you and Kathryn first come to work together? What do you enjoy most about this collaboration? Kathryn and I met because I needed a pianist for a gig a year ago. The person booking me suggested Kathryn and we hit it off immediately. Her sense of humor is so similar to mine and it didn't take long for us to realize that the musical magic and hilarity between us should be shared with the world and The French and Kat Show sort of evolved out of that.

7. In addition to music, you have performed in quite a few theatrical endeavors including Broadway's RENT, the West Coast Tour of DREAMGIRLS, and the 30th Anniversary National Revival of AIN'T MISBEHAVIN'. What do you get from your theatrical work that you don't get from your music? Theatre was my first love. Musical theatre is how I first fell in love with singing and performing. There is a discipline required from theatre performers that is completely absent from the majority of recording artists. In theatre, you actually have to be a good singer which has become less and less a requirement in the music business. Musical Theatre is Auto-Tune free and it challenges me to be a better vocalist and a better artist, overall.

Ruben Studdard and Frenchie Davis in Ain't Misbehavin'8. What was it like to be nominated for a Grammy Award for the Cast Recording of AIN'T MISBEHAVIN'? That was surreal and unbelievable. I think it was so unexpected because we literally learned all the music in 2 days and then recorded it on day 3. We were so terrified of screwing up the harmonies lol!! None of us were expecting it to come out as good as it did so we were all shocked when we learned of our nomination.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "The elevator to success is broken. Take the stairs." Thank you Jenifer Lewis!!!!!!

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I've learned and grown up so much on this journey and I've learned that if I am not finding ways to laugh everyday, I'm screwed. Laughter is my life's breath and without it I would truly be lost.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I'm not quite sure how to fully articulate it but I have a feeling that it would be some sort of hybrid power comprised of Spanx and Harry Potter's invisibility cloak.

12. What's your favorite skin care product? I am a third generation Dove Girl. My late grandmother, my mother, and I have all used Dove products over the years. I just LOVE their Campaign for Real Beauty. It is so empowering.

Frenchie DavisMore on Frenchie:

Frenchie Davis first made her mark on Season 2 of the mega-hit reality-television show American Idol where judge Simon Cowel predicted she could win the show! During the filming of American Idol, her stage presence, charismatic performances and power-house vocals cemented her as an audience and critic favorite nationwide. After Idol, Frenchie headed straight to The Great White Way where she starred in the hit Broadway Musical RENT written by Jonathan Larson. Originally only contracted for a six-week run, Frenchie again wowed audiences with her vocal prowess, and the show's producers quickly extended her contract where she starred for the next four years! Frenchie has also starred in the West Coast tour of Dreamgirls playing "Effie White," Sing, Mahalia, Sing playing Gospel great Mahalia Jackson, and in the 30th Anniversary National Revival production of Ain't Misbehavin' (opposite American Idol winner Ruben Studdard) playing the role which won Nell Carter the Tony Award. Frenchie and the cast were honored with a 2009 Grammy Award-nomination for Best Cast Recording! In 2012, Frenchie performed alongside fellow Grammy-nominees Natasha Bedingfield and Taylor Dayne at the Americana At Brand's Summer Concert Series in front of an audience of over 10,000. Frenchie recently starred in Cinderella playing the "Fairy Godmother" at Berkeley Playhouse in Berkeley, CA and was a special guest performer at the 2010 Christmas Tree Lighting event in Sacramento for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Frenchie was educated at Howard University in Washington DC!

Friday
Jan172014

Call Answered: Facetime with Donna Vivino, Beautiful Dreamer and 54 Below Interview

Best known for her roles in Broadway's Wicked and Les Miserables, "Call Me Adam" sat down with actress and recording artist Donna Vivino to discuss her debut album Beautiful Dreamer, her new 54 Below show It's Not Easy Being Green on January 23, 2014 at 9:30pm, and many other details of her life and career!

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

Click here for tickets to Donna's 54 Below show It's Not Easy Being Green on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 9:30pm!

Click here to purchase Donna's debut CD Beautiful Dreamer!

Interview with Donna Vivino:

Donna Vivino, Photo Credit: Ismael Cruz CordovaMore on Donna:

Donna Vivino starred for two years as "Elphaba" in the First National Tour of Wicked and performed the role on Broadway. Her other Broadway credits include HairsprayMartin Short: Fame Becomes MeSaturday Night Fever and Les Misérables. Her film and television credits include A Gifted Man, The Sopranos, Everyday People, Married to It and All My Children as "Young Erica Kane." She is currently a regular on the hit web series Submissions Only.

Thursday
Jan162014

Call Answered: Mark Milano: The Lyrics Left Behind Interivew

Mark MilanoMark Milano is an actor, singer, longtime AIDS activist and showtune queen. He will be performing The Lyrics Left Behind, a cabaret show composed of "trunk songs," "dummy lyrics," and other unused lyrics from many well-known songs to benefit Health GAP, an organization that campaigns for drug access and the resources necessary to sustain access for people with HIV/AIDS across the globe.

The Lyrics Left Behind will take place Saturday, February 8 at 7:30pm at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC (407 West 42nd Street) and include such well-known songs as "The Man That Got Away," "A Star Is Born," "Tomorrow," and "You're The Top," but performed in their original arrangements and lyrics. Click here for tickets!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I've always sung - it has literally kept me alive. When I'm walking down the street, I'm singing. When I'm at work, I'm humming. On the subway, I'm silently singing.  I sing everywhere except the shower, I think. But my introduction to musicals began when I was five, and waited to watch Singin' In The Rain on TV every year (back when they only showed films once a year). I dreamed of being Gene Kelly - but unfortunately, I can't dance!

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? My dream has always been to sing with a big band, so I'd say the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

3. On February 8, you will be performing The Lyrics Left Behind at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC. What made you want to create this show? I was amazed to find the backstories to some of the most famous songs in history. Who knew that "The Man That Got Away" was not written for Judy Garland? Great performers make songs their own, so you assume they were written with them in mind - but often that's not the case at all.

4. What are you looking forward to most about performing this show? Doing some classic showtunes in arrangements that breathe new life into these chestnuts, and surprising people with what they don't know about the songs they love.

5. What do you hope audiences come away with after The Lyrics Left Behind? An appreciation of the craft of songwriting. I've done a ton of research into the stories behind songs like "Blue Moon," "Tonight," "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan," etc. and am fascinated by the creative process composers and lyricists use. Many standards have stories behind them that are completely contrary to what you would expect.

6. What does The Laurie Beechman Theatre offer you as a venue that another one might not? It's a wonderful, intimate setting that makes me think of the great nightclubs of the 30s and 40s - people sitting at tables, having a drink, and enjoying a floor show. I think I must have been a nightclub-goer in a previous life, since I so regret missing those days.

7. Tickets to The Lyrics Left Behind benefit Health GAP, an organization working to widen access to HIV/AIDS treatment. What made you want to do a fundraiser for this organization as opposed to other HIV/AIDS organizations? How did you first get involved with them? I've joined Health GAP in 1990, when I discovered that it actually was possible to get HIV treatment to people in Africa. I'm amazed by the dedication and expertise its members bring to the fight against global AIDS. These people have the smarts and the passion we need to end this crisis - I wish they were in charge of U.S. AIDS policy!

8. You have been an activist in the fight against AIDS for more than 25 years now. What has it been like to watch the progress being made in the fight against this disease? What more do you feel can be done? It's been exciting and disheartening at the same time. My work with ACRIA has been so exciting, especially teaching people that HIV can now be controlled with meds that have very few side effects.  But it's so depressing that rates of HIV infection continue to rise in gay men. And the stigma that gay men with HIV face from HIV-negative gay men ("Are you clean?") seems to be getting worse.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Think for yourself." I think it should be carved in stone over the door of every school in the world.

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I've learned about taking care of myself. I now understand why performers have "people" to take care of them. For my first cabaret show, I did everything myself, right up to showtime. That made it very difficult to get into the right space to give the best performance. So now I understand that you have to have someone else handle all the little problems that pop up before a performance, so you can calm down, focus, and be in the right space to connect with your audience.

BONUS QUESTION:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would it be? Probably the same one "Pee-Wee Herman" wanted: to fly!

More on Mark:

He has been active in ACT UP/NY, Health GAP, and the AIDS Treatment Activist Coalition for over 25 years. He sang with Cantori New York for ten years, performing at Carnegie Hall with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and at Avery Fisher Hall with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. 

Saturday
Jan112014

Call Answered: Seth Rudetsky: Distaster! Musical Interview

Seth Rudetsky"Call Me Adam" chats with Seth Rudetsky, Broadway host on SiriusXM Satellite Radio, about being the co-writer and co-creator of Disaster!, the hilarious smash Off-Broadway hit musical that spoofs disaster movies of the 1970s, currently playing at St. Luke's Theatre in New York City (308 West 46th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets! 

For more on Disaster! be sure to visit http://www.disastermusical.com and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on Seth check out http://www.sethtv.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

1. You are currently starring in Disaster!, which you co-wrote with Jack Plotnick, a musical that spoofs disaster movies of the 70s. How did you and Jack come to work together? Jack and I met doing Pageant back in the ‘90’s. I was the music director and he was the understudy for everyone in the show. I was doing a comedy act with my friend Maria Bostick and Jack saw it. Right after, Jack said he wanted to do a show with me and we wrote and performed An Evening with Joyce DeWitt which was a sketch show. The title sketch was about Joyce DeWitt’s comeback cabaret where she doesn’t show up and Jack is forced to go on. We recreated it for one of my Playbill Obsessed videos. We’ve been writing together ever since.

 

2. What made you want to write a musical about the 70s disaster film genre using some of the biggest disco hits as the music? I was doing Forever Plaid with my friend Drew Geraci. We both were kids in the ‘70’s and loved disaster films and ‘70’s music. We thought of the idea of doing a ‘70’s disaster movie featuring all 70’s songs to advance the plot. When I was a kid, I used to make tapes with my brother where I played a newscaster asking questions and the responses would be famous moments from songs. It was based on songs like "Energy Crisis" which I thought was hilarious.

 

Our disaster musical idea first took shape way back in 1993 (!) and we thought we’d make it about the "disaster" of the 1977 New York City blackout. Many years passed and we hadn’t written anything and then I began to think that instead of a blackout, the show should instead feature every disaster from every disaster movie; earthquake, tidal wave, killer bees etc. Drew wound up being too busy to write the script, so Jack and I wrote it for a one-night benefit for Only Make Believe, a charity that brings theater to hospitalized children.  That was in 2011. In 2012, we ran it for nine performances at the Triad and got a rave review in the NY Times and then we opened it for it’s official off-Broadway run in Nov. 2013!

3. How did you decide which spoofs and songs you wanted to include in the show? Drew was able to download a file containing basically every hit song from the ‘70’s…around 900 songs! Some songs were put in because I’d be listening to the songs on my ipad at the gym and think "I love this song so much! I’ve got to figure out a reason to put the song in." We didn’t want to be a show that put in a song because a few lyrics made sense…the songs had to completely advance the plot and every lyric had to relate. So, one day I was listening to the Carly Simon song where she sings "My father sits at night with no lights on…" and I loving it so much.

Here’s my deconstruction to show how much:

 

We put the song in and, because of the lyrics, a major plot point was born where the leading lady have intimacy issues based on her parents. But we decided she was in denial and would cover up her issues by saying that her lack of wanting to get married was based on her feminism so we had to find a song to match that.  Thankfully, Jack came up with "I Am Woman" and the medley was complete.

Jennifer Simard and Mary Testa in "Disaster!", Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel4. What has been the best part about working with Jack? Jack and I have been writing together for so many years and we both really respect each other’s work. He really knew the genre we were writing and what helped me the most was when he said that one of the big aspects of disaster movies is a very diverse group of people meeting for the first time and then the disaster brings them together. That’s how the matching of "Shirley" (played by Mary Testa) and "The Nun" (Jennifer Simard) came to be. And it wound up making some hilarious theater and getting them cited in so many reviews…including Playbill listing them recently as two of the best performances of the year.

5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Disaster!? One of my favorite moments happened recently; an elderly woman came up to me after the show and said it was her second time seeing it. She was smiling and said, "Just like the first time, I’m walking out of here so happy!" That’s what we love about the show. It’s such a funny show but we really wanted the show to have heart. And people leave the theater with a lot of joy. Also, I love that people are rediscovering music that I think is fantastic. I hope there’s a surge in people downloading songs like "Don’t Bring Me Down," "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," "Knock On Wood"…aka the songs I still listen to every day on the stairmaster.

Tom Riis Farrell and Mary Testa in "Disaster!", Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel6. What do you enjoy about starring in the show as well as being part of the creative team? It’s such a great feeling to be backstage and hear people saying lines that I remember writing with Jack while we were on the phone. Hearing them said by these brilliant comedy veterans like Mary Testa in front of an audience is amazing! And I also love that I wrote myself a role that I probably wouldn’t have gotten an audition for! I’m always called in for the hyper characters. I love that I get to play someone who’s so emotionally shutdown and blank-faced.

7. What do you like about performing with this talented cast? The show is so much fun backstage. We all sing backup so it’s so great to be with everyone in the wings singing harmony like in high school chorus! Watch....

 

And I love that show is such an ensemble piece. It’s so great to see them onstage getting their moments to shine. And, as a writer, you think that you know where the comedy is coming from when you write a line. It’s SO amazing to have talented comedians take lines that weren’t supposed to be funny and find something hilarious in them. Or even stage directions. The script says that a "Security Guard" pushed "The Nun" and she falls.  That was put there so "Shirley" would have a reason to help "The Nun." But Jennifer Simard added this amazing fall, where she’s almost like a piece of paper falling to the ground, that’s made a non-funny moment into a great piece of stage business. As a matter of fact, people have donated $40 to BCEFA just to make the nun fall! Watch!

 

8. You've had several celebrity guests come see the show such as Perez Hilton, Victor Garber, Tina Fey, Fred Schneider of the B-52s, and many others. What does it mean to you to have such big name people come see your show? After interviewing so many famous people throughout your career, do you ever get star-struck? It’s an amazing feeling to have people that I’m a total fan of seeing the show. James and I barely watch TV and pretty much the only sitcom we watched weekly was 30 Rock. SoTina Fey at the opening night of "Disaster!", Photo Credit: Walter McBride to have Tina Fey at opening night, and then to have her put us on the Entertainment Weekly "Must List" was AMAZING! I’m a crazy, super-fan of hers and was babbling at the opening night party when I saw her and her husband. So, YES, I get star-struck.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Do it yourself!" Back at Oberlin conservatory, I wanted to play Rhapsody In Blue with an orchestra, so I got together a big symphony orchestra and did it. In 2001, I wanted to do Dreamgirls on Broadway, it wasn’t being revived, so I put up a concert for the Actors Fund. Basically anything I’ve done has been self-motivated.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? The ability to perform immediate self-liposuction.

Seth RudetskyMore on Seth:

Seth is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. He has played piano for more than a dozen Broadway shows including Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Ragtime and was the Artist Producer/Music Director for the first five annual Actors Fund Concerts including Dreamgirls (with Audra McDonald) and Hair (with Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson), for which he also received a Grammy nomination as co-producer of the cast recording. In 2007 he played "Sheldon" on Broadway in The Ritz with Rosie Perez (directed by Joe Montello) and in 2010 he starred in They're Playing Our Song opposite Sutton Foster. On TV, he's appeared as a real estate agent on Law & Order: C.I., "Rudy," a Las Vegas choreographer, on All MY Children, as well as on MTV's Legally Blonde reality show and Bravo's Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List as himself. A three-time Emmy Award nominated television writer (The Rosie O’Donnell Show), Seth has also written the books The Q Guide to Broadway, Broadway Nights, (in its 3rd printing) and the recent My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan (Random House). His new reality show can be viewed on his online TV network: www.SethTV.com.

Monday
Dec302013

Call Answered: Facetime with Will and Anthony Nunziata at 54 Below

"Call Me Adam" sat down at 54 Below with Will and Anthony Nunziata, recording artists and concert performers, to discuss their show Broadway, Our Way, on January 9 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Will and Anthony be sure to visit http://www.willandanthony.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Interview with Will and Anthony Nunziata at 54 Below

More on Will and Anthony:

Recording artists, actors and concert performers Will & Anthony Nunziata have won acclaim for their performances throughout the country and around the world bringing their fresh take on classic pop standards, Broadway showstoppers, as well as contemporary and classic Italian music.

Their mission is to introduce timeless classics to younger audiences and reacquaint adults with the soundtrack of their childhood.

The brothers bring their powerful and nuanced voices along with their undeniable charm and comedic interplay to both their concerts and brand new symphony programs. A full description of all touring concerts can be seen below.

They have recently appeared as Headlining Soloists with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, and Brockton Symphony Orchestra. In New York City they have headlined Michael Feinstein's nightclub and recently performed as part of the New York Pops' Ronald McDonald Fundraising Gala at the club. They've appeared in concert as part of the Mabel Mercer Convention at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall and sang during the Finale of Stephen Sondheim's 80th Birthday Concert Celebration at Avery Fisher Hall.

On television, they have been recently featured on Good Morning America, NBC’s Columbus Day Parade, The Rachael Ray Show. Will & Anthony are classically-trained tenors and have trained extensively in improvisational comedy with the famed Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York City. The brothers both reside in New York City (separately).