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"Call Me Adam" chats with...



Entries in Broadway (314)


Call Answered: Jay William Thomas: A Map To Somewhere Else

Jay William Thomas, Photo Credit: Jake Raynor Photography"Call Me Adam" chats with actor, writer, director Jay William Thomas about starring in Reina Hardy's new Off-Broadway show A Map To Somewhere Else, playing at The 133rd Street Arts Center Lab (308 West 133rd Street) through June 28! 

A Map To Somewhere Else asks What happens to the imagined worlds we create as children? The tender, heroic, silly, elaborate fantasies that shape the souls of so many ordinary people, then are abandoned as we grow. What if, all this time, they were there waiting, hoping we'd come back? A Map to Somewhere Else is a comic drama full of fantasy, music, and magic that dares to ask what happens when that long-closed door is reopened. What adventures wait for us beyond the threshold? Click here for tickets!

For more on Jay be sure to visit and follow him on Facebook!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Performing has always been a gateway for me to feel more connected, to the world, my peers, and myself. I love what I do and I do what I love. That inspiration came from my father, and acting was the vehicle I chose to drive.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I'll shoot for the stars here, literally. I would do anything to work with Matt Damon. I think he has had a brilliant career and I respect his decisions as an actor.

3. From June 19-28, you are going to be starring in a new Off-Broadway play called A Map To Somewhere Else. What made you want to be part of this show? My current show is being produced by Everyday Inferno Theater Company. This company amazes me with the challenges they choose to take on. This new show incorporates song, dance, combat, and imagination all into a unconventional quasi-round stage. There is so much to tackle here I wouldn't know where to begin, but they do. It is a blast working with them and shaping this new play for its New York Premiere. Come see it! "A Map to Somewhere Else"

4. What do you identify with most about your character of "Constantine"? My "real-world" character, "Constantine," (I also play two other fantasy based characters) is struggling to find something that is missing. I feel like that everyday. He's a young man turning around every second over-analyzing the past and hesitant towards the future. I connect with him because we share the same intrinsic qualities.

Jay William Thomas in "A Map To Somewhere Else" Photo Credit: Anais Koivisto5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? My big hope is for the audience to walk away awe-struck. This play is a story telling piece and it hits all the highs and lows of a great epic.

6. Since the show is about letting go of our childhood fantasies, what childhood fantasies have you let go of? Have you ever gone back to them? I always wanted to be a professional baseball player. I let that go in the 9th grade, but I go back to it every time I turn on a Cincinnati Reds game.

7. In addition to A Map To Somewhere Else, you also star in the web series GAYS. What made you want to be part of this web series? What do you like about filming a web series as opposed to being on stage? GAYS was such an amazing experience. I wanted to be a part of that project because of the Roller Coaster my character takes. From a life of glamour to an earth shattering wake-up call. That was a challenge, and I like challenges.

The big difference between the two mediums is really the ability to stop and start. In theatre the ride doesn't stop, that's why we rehearse and rehearse and rehearse, while a day on set may mean several hours of break, ten minutes of shooting, and then another break. On-camera work is essentially a story told through one lens while theatre has as many lens's as can fit in the audience.

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? Failing to prepare is preparing to Fail.

9. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Too much to write, but the main thing is that life should be spent with the people you love and in a community that supports you. Success is inevitable then.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Flight or instant teleportaion, anything that would make travel easy and less expensive.


11. Favorite way to stay in shape? Push-up competitions with my roommate.

Jay William Thomas, Photo Credit: Purple Fringe PhotographyMore on Jay:

DeathBed Ripple Effect Artist Directed By Brent Buell; Einstein Variations Theatre Group Directed by Randolph Curtis Rand - Off-Off Broadway: Something Wicked Everyday Inferno Theatre; Zombie Frat House Bash EndTimes Productions; I Do Wonder Synapse Theatre Ensemble; Leaving Normal Avalon Studios. Jay is a company member of Ripple Effects Artists and holds a BFA from Western Kentucky University.


Call Answered: Conference Call with David Campbell and John Bucchino: David Campbell Sings John Bucchino

David Campbell and John Bucchino"Call Me Adam" chats with David Campbell and John Bucchino about their new CD, David Campbell sings John Bucchino. Accompanied by Bucchino on piano Campbell tackles 11 of the composer’s compositions including "Taking The Wheel" and "Grateful" which appeared on earlier Campbell albums but are recorded here anew with Bucchino for the first time. Also featured is "Better Than I" which Bucchino composed for the Dreamworks Animation film Joseph: King of Dreams in which Campbell was heard as the singing voice of Ben Affleck’s title character. Click here to purchase David Campbell sings John Bucchino!

For more on David be sure to visit and follow him on Twitter!

For more on John be sure to visit and follow him on Twitter!

David Campbell and John Bucchino at sound check1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer?

David Campbell: My Dad (Jimmy Barnes) showed me that it was possible to become a performer. My style is more directly influenced by Bobby Darin, Peter Allen, Sammy Davis Jr.

John Bucchino: Performing was a natural extension of songwriting, and part of my dream was being a piano-playing singer/songwriter like Elton John, Joni Mitchell, or Billy Joel. I never imagined that other singers would perform my songs.

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

David: There are too many to list. Composers? Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb, Stephen Sondheim and so many more.

John: Too many to name! And not only singers – also other writers, directors, playwrights, visual artists, all kinds of creative souls. One of the joys of growing older has been learning to embrace collaboration which is not always easy since I started out wanting to do everything myself. I still have a hard time relinquishing control. The trick is to choose the right people.

3. What made now the right time to team up for your new CD "David Campbell Sings John Bucchino"?

David: The idea of touring a show with John in Australia came up and I thought we should record it. It was one of those things, if we didn’t do it now we never would!

John: I'd just completed a 4-year commission for a new Danish musical called ESAURA and we had a gorgeous production over in Denmark. I was going through artistic postpartum after that, and was wondering what the next project would be when David contacted me with this idea. Perfect timing in so many ways: I love making music with David; he's one of my best friends and one of my favorite interpreters of my songs – not only does he have a spectacular voice, he's also a terrific actor, which is essential for my material; I adore Australia and leap at any opportunity to come back (this is my 6th visit!) I would get to hang out with not only David, but with his fabulous wife Lisa and their precious son Leo; Lisa set up some master classes for me around Australia and also in New Zealand, (another place I love, and coaching students on performance of my songs is one of my favorite things to do); so, win win win win win win! 

4. What has been the best part about working together on this CD?

David: We are old friends. It was one of the most enjoyable times I have had in the studio because we were in synch. You don't always get that when under the pressure to create an album. Our friendship gave us a shorthand that was invaluable and fun!

John: You know when you see a flock of birds and they all turn together at the same exact moment and you think, "How did they know?" That's what it feels like to make music with someone with whom you're in synch. It's the most beautiful telepathy, and that's what it feels like to accompany David. We just "know," and it's a rare and miraculous feeling that, I think, comes across both to our audiences and on this CD.

David Campbell and John Bucchino in the recording studio5. What was your favorite part of the creative process in putting this CD together?

David: All the laughs. John and I have a similar and silly sense of humor.

John: I'd say the biggest gift was that, because of the level of trust I have in David, Lisa, and everyone they invited into the project, I let go more than I ever have. I let other people do their jobs and allowed the recordings to flow and I couldn't be prouder of the results. Funny thing: we'd sometimes do 4 or 5 takes of a song and, almost always, the first take was the magical one we'd use.

6. How are your processes similar and how do they differ?

David: We are both very strong in our visions. John with his music and me with how it should be represented. We were constantly challenging each other. We played with keys and various arrangements of some songs. I wanted this to feel different than other recordings we had done. For me that meant what songs to do and how to represent them in a way I felt was new for John and fans of his work.

John: David tends to be more spontaneous and value the "vibe" of the moment, and I tend to want to polish and re-work. But on this project I've adopted his approach more and can clearly see the benefits.

David Campbell and John Bucchino on "Today"7. What do admire about each other's work separate from this project?

David: John is a wonderful songwriter. His music moves me. It surprises you and envelopes you. I have always been a huge fan since the day I met him. I still am.

John: I admire David's versatility. He can sing ANYTHING, and sing it really well. I arrived here in Sydney on a Saturday morning and was invited to a benefit that night at which he was performing with his dad, rocker Jimmy Barnes. They had a kick-ass band complete with horn section, and as I watched David belting stratospheric notes I was dazzled but a little concerned about him dialing it back to sing my songs with the subtlety and intimacy they require. Well, I needn't have worried. After a couple of days of rehearsal there was a moment when he "found" exactly the right voice for this recording. I describe it as the difference between a voice that's "in your face" and one that's "whispering in your ear": tender, vulnerable, nuanced.

8. How has your workmanship together grown since the first time you worked together?

David: I am more confident as a performer and a person. Having a family has settled me emotionally. This affects my performance style. I tried to reflect that in the song choices.

John: Working together doesn't feel much different than it did in the past. The special connection has always been there. But in the past 10 years or so, through the variety of work we've done apart, we've each grown as musicians which enriches this collaboration. 

9. What's the best advice you've ever received?

David: There is no one piece of advice that stands out. I am always listening to myself and to people I trust for advice and guidance. I am constantly evolving and learning. I hope I always do.

John: From my dear friend Stephen Schwartz: "Never read reviews."

David Campbell and John Bucchino on the set of "David Campbell Sings John Bucchino" CD Photo shoot10. What have you learned about yourselves from being performers?

David: As I get older I have learned to trust my instincts more. Also your failures make you as much as your successes. Every successful career has a trail of failure along the way to success. You need to stop worrying and just do everything to the best of your ability. Then move on to the next project and give that your all.

John: I've learned an important lesson that applies not only onstage, and in writing, but in every aspect of life: that being totally, openly, honestly oneself is the most powerful, engaging, rewarding, appealing and, eventually, easiest thing to do.


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

David: Super Strength because I want to carry all the shopping bags from the car in one trip not two.

John: Flying would be nice. Or maybe the superpower to ease pain.

David CampbellMore on David:

One of Australia’s biggest selling recording artists, David Campbell has also achieved considerable success in the United States. His critically acclaimed New York show attracted major crowds and created what Time Out New York described as "…the biggest buzz since Barbra Streisand." David’s show subsequently moved to Rainbow & Stars where he became the youngest performer ever to headline the iconic venue. With this success as a launch-pad, David was soon in demand from Broadway’s most prestigious writers and directors. He was cast in the New York premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Saturday Night and played a leading role in New York City Center Encores! production of Babes In Arms. He released three highly praised recordings in the U.S. and has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning.

In recent years David has taken a break from recording while co-hosting the top-rated Mornings alongside co-host Sonia Kruger on Australia’s Nine Network.

John BucchinoMore on John:

John Bucchino is one of New York’s most beloved composers. His work has been recorded by artists such as Art Garfunkel, Liza Minnelli and Kristin Chenoweth and performed at venues across the world – from the Sydney Opera House to the White House. His work with Harvey Fierstein's A Catered Affair opened on Broadway in 2008 and won the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical. Most recently, he was commissioned by Danish producer Soren Moller to compose music and lyrics for the musical Esaura.


Call Answered: Em Grosland: The Anthem Interview

Em Grosland"Call Me Adam" chats with Em Grosland about starring in The Anthem, directed, choreographed, and designed by Rachel Klein. The Anthem is a new rollicking sci-fi musical about a revolt of the young against an evil state. Lovingly inspired by Ayn Rand's classic novella "Anthem," the show features expansive aerial movement and a circus environment.

The Anthem plays at the Culture Project's Lynn Redgrave Theater in NYC (45 Bleecker) through July 6. Click here for tickets and follow the show at and on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on Em be sure to visit and follow Em on Twitter!

1. What attracted you to The Anthem? The director. Rachel Klein. Her artistic vision is so clear and her creative voice is incredibly unique.

2. In the show, you have a lot of physical movement/acting. What do you like about this kind of performance? I don’t have to go to the gym!

3. Your role has you interacting with the audience the most out of everyone in the cast. What do you enjoy about this interaction and what are some challenges? I know it sounds silly, but by the end of the show there are always a handful of audience members with whom I feel I have really connected. From "Hermes’s" point of view, they are his new friends.

Rachel Klein, Director, Choreographer, and Designer of "The Anthem"4. The show is directed by Rachel Klein, who typically combines dance, circus movements, musical theatre, and other performance art together. What have you learned from working with her? As I said above, Rachel Klein has a very unique creative voice. Her work is immediately recognizable. As an artist, latching onto a specific point of view is scary because you are letting go of all the other possibilities. You are putting yourself in the vulnerable place where people can love your work or hate it. She seemingly does this without fear. I believe that is because every choice she makes comes from a genuine and honest expression of herself. Rachel is a genius and I can’t wait to watch her cover Broadway with black leather and pink glitter! 

Cast of "The Anthem"5. What is the best part about performing with this cast which include Randy Jones from The Village People, Jenna Leigh Green from Broadway's Wicked, and Jason Gotay from Broadway's Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, Ashley Kate Adams from Broadway's La Cage Aux Folles, and Remy Zaken from Broadway's Spring Awakening? They are all truly wonderful people and extremely professional artists. Randy is one of the sweetest people I know. Knowing what he and the rest of the Village people did for the visibility and acceptance of gay people in this industry is awe inspiring. Plus during sound check one day, we all sang YMCA with him…it was awesome. When Jenna first sang her big 11 o’clock number in rehearsals, the whole room was in awed silence…audiences do the same every night. Jason is incredibly friendly with everyone…and damn can that boy sing! Ashley has become our event planner of the group. She is extremely generous and even offered up her home for our Tony’s viewing party. And Remy is one of the hardest working people I’ve met. She is always willing to go that extra mile to make each moment happen. And her adlibs are perfection.

But for as awesome as they are, the ensemble members of this show are my heroes. Their physical strength will blow you away. And their "Yes, and…" attitude has been so inspiring for me.

Cast of "The Anthem"6. What is your favorite part of the show? I have SO many favorite parts of the show! But today I will pick Remy’s new "Hamlet" adlib that she does with the "Executioner’s" severed head. You will have to come see the show to know what the heck I’m talking about.

7. Did you prepare differently for this show than you have for previous shows? I play two very distinct characters in this one. So one of my main challenges was figuring out how to separate them physically, vocally, and emotionally.

8. The show has a futuristic theme to it, what do you think about when you think about the future? What do you imagine life or theatre will be like? I think we are on our way to a world where our differences are our strengths. This business is starting to reflect the true diversity of our world. We have a ways to go, but Broadway is becoming more open-minded about casting. Things that exist without question in our world (multiracial families, transpeople, powerful dynamic women, etc.) are beginning to weave themselves into the theatrical canon. 

Cast of "The Anthem"9. What do you identify most with about this show? What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? Honestly, I hope the audience feels like they were just part of a big crazy party.  We are all having so much fun onstage, and that seems to be infectious for our audiences. I hope that everyone’s sides hurt from laughing so much. I know mine do.

10. Since this show is titled The Anthem, what is your personal anthem? Hmm? Lately I’ve been singing Mika’s Grace Kelly a lot in the shower. Does that count?

Em Grosland in "The Anthem"More on Em:

Off-Broadway: Eve Ensler’s Emotional Creature. National Tour: Danny Who/The Grinch...Regional: Prince/The Little Prince (CFRT), Linus/YAGMCB (California Theatre Center), Tom Thumb/Barnum (Totempole Playhouse), Ring Cycle (LA Opera), Gypsy and Big (Stages St. Louis), Mo/Cowgirls (Florida Studio Theatre), and Peter/Peter Pan (Candlelight Pavilion). TV: L&O SVU; "Comic Perversion."


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! 

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 ( and her son, Charlie.


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 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.