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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in Broadway (255)

Thursday
Jul042013

John Chatterton Interview: Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF)

John Chatterton, created the Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) in 2000, a Midtown alternative to other theatre festivals, as a way to present the finest Off-Off Broadway talent in convenience, comfort, and safety. This year's festival will once again take place at 312 West 36th Street (The Abingdon Arts Complex/Workshop Theaters) from July 15-August 4. For shows and tickets be sure to visit http://www.midtownfestival.org.

Follow the Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what made you want to start the Midtown International Theatre Festival? I was publishing OOBR ("the off-off-broadway review") when FringeNYC was founded. One of my writers said, "Someone should start a Midtown Fringe festival." Of course, no one did, so a couple years later I did it. I'm an irrepressible theatrical entrepreneur and can't resist an opportunity.

2. What has it been like to watch the festival grow to what it is today? Stressful? Exhilarating? Satisfying? I knew 14 years ago I was onto something, so I've mainly had to see that I followed my strategic vision without making any fatal mistakes. 

3. What has been the most rewarding aspect of running the Midtown International Theatre Festival? What challenges have you faced over the years? People start businesses with strategic visions that usually prove to be an illusion. I started the MITF knowing that theatre-rental costs were going up faster than inflation, so if I offered producers a chance to mount plays for considerably less than it would cost on their own, I'd be successful. I've been wrong about a lot of things but not this. A successful business plan is intellectually (and financially) satisfying.

The challenges have been to get the capital together every year, manage cash flow, and keep reinventing the company with new people (though our turnover has been a lot less than some festivals). 

4. How do you decide which productions you accept to the festival? What is your favorite part of this process? I have 3 artistic directors who curate the shows. We don't have committees, so I let them choose whatever stirs their passions. I also curate all the one-acts, keeping me in touch with the process. I think this is my favorite part of it. Curating the one-acts is a year-round process, linked to the Short Play Lab (every month in season) and the Midwinter Madness Short Play Festival.

5. What is your future vision for the festival? I want to be bigger than NYMF and at least half the size of FringeNYC. 

6. If you could have any playwright, director, producer, or performer be in the Midtown International Theatre Festival, who would you choose? We've had famous people in the Festival. They've been known to ride roughshod over the rest of us. Next year I want to have a commercial division (a separate venue devoted to 5-6 shows with commercial ambitions), so we'll see. As for any particular person, nah, I'm not going there. A new Stoppard play, maybe. Any of a dozen or so Broadway producers who return my phone calls.

7. In addition to being the executive director of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, you are also a playwright, have produced several Off-Broadway shows, and run a rehearsal/theatre complex. What do you get from these other endeavors that you do not get from being the executive director? All this stuff shares my drive as a theatrical entrepreneur. I was also going to start an entertainment-insurance company, but issues of health intervened. Maybe I'll start a play-publishing company specializing in short plays that have appeared in my festivals.

As for being executive producer of the MITF, what I like about it is I force myself to delegate as much stuff as possible, though I haven't given up curating the one-acts and I'm back as editor of the Festabill and brochure. I like the idea that my only duty after the Festival starts is to see all the plays. It's a blast!

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Don't go into the humanities -- stick with Chemistry!" Unfortunately, I didn't follow it. Seriously, Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends And Influence People." Followed very closely by Robert J. Ringer's "Winning Through Intimidation."

9. What have you learned about yourself from your various careers? I'm observant, clever, patient, flexible, fair, and I can take a punch. Also impulsive, over-confident, too trusting, not the most organized, and incautious.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? X-ray vision. I could be the greatest poker player in the world. But that would be cheating.

More on John:

In 2003, the MITF moved its activities to their current location, the Theatre Building on W. 36th St., where it has been successfully ensconced since. In 2008 the Festival expanded from two theatres in that building to four, at the WorkShop Theater Company and Abingdon Theatre Company spaces. The MITF’s artistic emphasis is on the script itself, and therefore the Festival focuses on effective but minimal production values.

In addition to MITF, John started OOBR ("the off-off-broadway review") in 1993. John has also run a rehearsal studio/theatre complex, Where Eagles Dare; produced Off-Broadway; and is a playwright. He also runs the Short Play Lab and the Midwinter Madness Short Play Festival.

Thursday
Jun132013

Danielle Grabianowski: Duplex and Night of A Thousand Judys Interview

Danielle Grabianowski is an award-winning singing actress whose performances have been likened to "Barbra Streisand at the Bon Soir and Bette Midler at the Continental Baths."  This June, she is making two very special appearances.

On June 17, Danielle will be performing in the third annual Night of A Thousand Judys benefit, hosted by The Meeting's Justin Sayre (Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Center, 129 West 67th Street). Night of A Thousand Judys will donate all proceeds to the Ali Forney Center which is the nation's largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated to homeless LGBT youth. Joining Danielle in this extraordinary evening are original "Weather Girl" Martha Wash, three-time Tony Award nominee Carolee Carmello, Glee's Telly Leung, Justin Vivian Bond, Lea DeLaria, Christiane Noll, Tituss Burgess, Karen Mason, and many others. Click here for tickets!

Then, on June 19 (and August 28), at 7pm, Danielle will grace the stage of NYC's historic Duplex Cabaret Theatre at in the West Village for an evening of eclectic, impromptu set of standards, stories and pop tunes. Click here for tickets!

For more on Danielle be sure to visit http://daniellegrabianowski.wordpress.com!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My family moved to Florida in the middle of 6th grade and I had come from a really small school and had trouble making new friends in my new school. I was really shy. In 8th grade, I was picked to do a short solo at our chorus concert. The song was "Voices that Care." The teacher was Ms. Jury, we're Facebook friends now. Figuring out I could sing made the future look a little brighter.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I'd like to continue working with my pianist, Nate Buccieri forever, he is amazing. And, I worked with a band at Sleep No More, but I've never worked with a band on my own show. I would love to collaborate on arrangements with a bunch of musicians in that way. I'm hoping to do that later on as our monthly gig at the Duplex gets underway.

3. What excites you about your upcoming cabaret show at The Duplex on June 19? Just that I don't know what's going to happen! It's a little more impromptu than other shows I've done, we're making it a monthly thing, so we're switching things up a little bit every time, so I find the unpredictability of all of that pretty exciting.

4. What do you like about performing at The Duplex as opposed to other venues around the city? THE STAFF!!! They just have a great way of making performers feel really welcome.

5. On June 17, you are taking part in the third annual Night of A Thousand Judys, benefiting the Ali Forney Center. What made you want to be part of this evening? How does it feel to know you are helping so many GLBT Youth? It's just a great thing. I've sung at The Meeting a couple of times and being a part of any evening where Justin Sayre is at the mic is bound to be a blast. Beyond that, I was actually pretty familiar with the Ali Forney Center through my efforts in social work. Someone came to speak about homelessness in the LGBT population in one of my classes and I really came to understand what a huge issue it is. I think living in Manhattan, especially if you're not gay, it can seem like being gay is totally easy, but a lot of these kids are coming from cultures and school settings a lot different than what we accept as the norm at places like the duplex or in the theater district. They are made to feel unsafe in their schools, they're ostracized by their families, and what's most startling is the rates of suicide that we're seeing. That tells you something about the predicament these kids and young adults are in - if the trend among this population is that life is so hard at 18 that the only way you can make it better is to attempt suicide, then clearly we really need to rally and give them the support they need. It's an important issue, it doesn't get nearly enough attention and I hope we make a lot of money!

Danielle Grabianowski at the 24th Annual Mac Awards, Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN.COM6. You are the recipient of the 2010 MAC Award for Outstanding Female Vocalist and the Bistro's Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award given to a "Star on the Rise." What do these honors mean to you? It was a great feeling to be recognized. The cabaret community in NYC is such a warm and fascinating group of people - I love being a part of that.

7. You took two years off from performing to go back to school to get a master's degree in Social Work. What made you want to pursue a degree? Do you feel this experience enriched your performing at all? My desire to do social work is totally related to my experience as an artist. When I was going through all the struggles as a performer, there were a lot of people who helped me: my acting teacher, my Alexander Technique teacher, my therapist. Mostly they helped me grow and change, which is what I needed to do. Most of the time, it's really hard to change on your own. No matter how much you want to change, a time will probably come when you don't think you can do it and you give up on yourself. It's a natural part of the process for a lot of us, which is why we need people around believing in us when we don't believe in ourselves and fighting for us when we lack the strength to fight on our own. On a very simple level, that is what social workers do. I wanted to give back to people what had been given to me. I'm still at the beginning of things but at some point I plan on working with other performers on all of this stuff. Social Work School has really shifted the way I see the world and other people and I'm guessing that will come across as I get back into performing.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? When I first moved to the city, so much of my confidence was wrapped up in my identity as a singer and when I didn't have success the first few years, my self-esteem took a huge hit. It was really bad, at the worst point, I couldn't even sing without crying. On some level, I thought that singing was the best thing about me and if no one found it valuable, I didn't know what to do with myself. Eventually I had to learn that there was more to me and more to life than performing. So I actually learned the most about myself through the rejection, which I think is the case for a lot of artists. Ironically, when I stopped grasping at the need to be successful, something more natural and innate took over that people really responded to.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? It's so simple, but when I was auditioning for musicals and making myself miserable, I knew I had to make a change, but I'd been doing it for so long, the idea of simply making the 'right choice' about what to do next seemed impossible. My husband said to me, "it doesn't matter what you do, it just matters that you do something." And it's true. Soon after that responded to a Playbill add for an internship for Miller Wright & Associates. They specialize in PR for Jazz and Cabaret artists. While I didn't become a PR maven, I was exposed to amazing performances that I would have never had the chance to see and I also learned how to promote other people's shows which made it much easier when it came time to promote my own. I eventually got a job there and was surrounded by cabaret all the time and I think that played a huge role in all the great things that have happened to me cabaret-wise. And it all started by a small step of responding to an internship add.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Time travel!!!!

 

More on Danielle:

Danielle Grabianowski won the 2010 MAC Award for Outstanding Female Debut, the Bistro’s Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award given to a “Star on the Rise” and the first-ever 1930s Idol competition. She was last seen as the jazz singer "Josephine Grant" in the award-winning Off-Broadway sensation, Sleep No More. Danielle took a two-year hiatus from performing to pursue a master’s degree in Social Work from New York University and has performed with various theater companies around the country including the Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Bakerloo Theatre Project and Bigfork Summer Playhouse as well as in various readings and workshops of new musicals and plays in New York City. Some of her favorites include "Thea" in Fiorello!, "the Porter" in Macbeth, "Fiona" in Brigadoon and "Angelique" in The Imaginary Invalid

Wednesday
May222013

Video Interview with Ben Rimalower, creator of Patti Issues

Adam Rothenberg and Ben RimalowerIn my latest video interview, "Call Me Adam" sat down with Ben Rimalower to talk further about his hit one-man show "Patti Issues," currently playing at the Duplex in NYC and on tour around the world!

For more on Ben visit http://www.pattiissues.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Part 1: Interview with Ben Rimalower

"Call Me Adam" and Ben chat about his hit one-man show Patti Issues

 

Part 2: Interview with Ben Rimalower

"Call Me Adam" and Ben chat about all the accolades his hit one-man show "Patti Issues" has received plus playing at The Duplex in NYC

Part 3: Interview with Ben Rimalower

"Call Me Adam" and Ben chat about taking "Patti Issues" on tour around the world! 

 

Friday
May032013

Christopher McDonald: Lucky Guy Interview

Christopher McDonald and Adam Rothenberg at "Lucky Guy" stage doorChristopher McDonald is one of Hollywood’s most prolific and versatile actors. Starring as "Harry Daugherty" on Martin Scorsese’s critically acclaimed HBO series, Boardwalk Empire, Christopher is a classically-trained stage actor who can currently be seen on Broadway alongside Tom Hanks in Nora Ephron's final play Lucky Guy at the Broadhurst Theatre through July 3 (235 West 44th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Lucky Guy visit http://www.luckyguyplay.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Jack Nicholson's performance in Five Easy Pieces that I saw in college inspired me to become an actor.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Jeff Bridges, Daniel Day Lewis, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford and Kristen Wiig.

Christopher McDonald as "Eddie Hayes" in Nora Ephron's "Lucky Guy", Photo Credit: Brigitte Lacombe3. What made you want audition for Lucky Guy on Broadway? What do you identify most with about your character "Eddie Hayes"? Nora Ephron's words...Opposite Tom Hanks...George C. Wolfe directing. What I identify most with playing "Eddie Hayes" is his tremendous drive...

4. What have you enjoyed most so far about being in the show? I've enjoyed the great cast and meeting all the great actors who come backstage to tell us how much they enjoyed the show. The most honest ones say they are "jealous"...

Tom Hanks and Christopher McDonald in Nora Ephron's "Lucky Guy"5. What have you learned from working with Tom Hanks? Tom has a deep well of energy and focus and heart that feeds his great talent.

6. What do you get from your theatrical endeavors that you don't get from your film/TV work? The audience! It is a living, breathing organism that changes with every performance.

7. What has been the best part about being on HBO's Boardwalk Empire? The "bragging rights"... Boardwalk Empire is one of the best shows on Television!

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I've learned that I am happiest when I am in a Hit! But, seriously, I've learned that I really enjoy mixing up the mediums in acting...The Stage Film and Television...and soon the Internet!

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Find out what you do best...and do it like Hercules" Stella Adler (my acting teacher)

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Flying! Man I'd be flying RIGHT NOW!!!

More on Christopher:

Christopher is also beloved for his memorable performances in Thelma and Louise, Requiem for a Dream, Quiz Show, The Perfect Storm, Happy Gilmore, and voice talent in The Iron Giant. His notable dramatic television guest-starring roles include The Sopranos, The Bronx is Burning, 61, and Harry’s Law.

Christopher first caught Hollywood’s attention when he played Goose McKenzie in Grease 2, starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Even though more movie offers followed, Christopher opted instead to work on his acting craft, immersing himself in acting studies at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Christopher performed in over thirty-five productions at the Los Angeles Theater Center, including Hamlet, Othello, Death of a Salesman, and Taming of a Shrew, which led him to begin an enviable career that has never slowed down. Film highlights include The Boys Next Door (1985), Outrageous Fortune (1987), Chances Are (1989), Dutch (1991), Wild Orchids 2 (1992), Grumpy Old Men (1993), Fatal Instinct (1993), Terminal Velocity (1994), Cover Story (1994), Rich Man’s Wife (1995), Leave it to Beaver (1997), Flubber (1997) Spy Kids:2 (2002), Grind (2003), Takedown (2004), Rumor Has It (2005), American Pie (2006), Kickin’ It Old Skool (2007), My Sexiest Year (2007), Mad Money (2008), Superhero Movie (2008), Fanboys (2008), The House Bunny (2008) and The Best and The Brightest (2010).

Christopher’s long held respect for the stage led him to return to New York to star as "Billy Flynn," the nefarious self serving lawyer in Kander and Ebb’s Chicago. The show toured major markets nationwide with Christopher’s leading performance embraced by critics and audiences alike. Other theater credits include Nightclub Cantina, Hay Fever, and Bouncers. He is also the recipient of a Drama-logue Award for Best Actor (Final Touches).

Christopher’s TV credits also include regular appearances on the series Cracking Up, (Fox), Kim Possible (Disney), North Shore (Fox), Family Law (CBS) and Veronica’s Closet (NBC).

Born and raised in New York City, Christopher is one of seven children. Originally, a pre-med major at Hobart College, Christopher decided to pursue an acting career in his senior year. In addition to his theater studies in London, Christopher also attended the Stella Adler Acting Conservatory in New York. He and his wife, Lupe, are the proud parents of 3 daughters and a son, who reside in Los Angeles.

Monday
Apr292013

Video Interview with two-time Tony Award Nominee Alison Fraser

Adam Rothenberg and Alison FraserIn my latest video interview, Call Me Adam sat down with two-time Tony Award Nominee Alison Fraser to talk about starring in Wendy Beckett's new play Love Therapy which is playing at Daryl Roth's DR2 Theatre in NYC's Union Square through May 25.

Love Therapy tells the tale of a young therapist, "Colleen," who walks a fine line of what is considered acceptable practice. It's a session you won't want to miss! Click here for tickets and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and http://www.lovetherapyplay.com!

For more on Alison visit http://alisonfraser.com!

Part 1: Alison and I talk about Love Therapy

Part 2: Alison and I talk about life, theatre, and super powers