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Entries in Broadway (332)

Thursday
Sep112014

Call Answered: Joe Gulla: Faggy at 50: United Solo Festival

Joe GullaAfter two-sold out years in the 2012 and 2013 United Solo Festival, "Call Me Adam" finally gets to chat with The Bronx Queen playwright and actor himself, Joe Gulla about his new show Faggy at 50 which opens the 2014 United Solo Festival starting September 18! Click here for tickets!

For more on Joe be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

1. After two years with the sold-out hit The Bronx Queen, you are back in the United Solo Festival with a brand new show, Faggy at 50. What excites you about premiering this new show? I always envisioned The Bronx Queen as the first of a trilogy! Faggy at 50 takes us further down the road! I’m excited about unleashing this part of my journey on audiences!

2. How did you come up with the title Faggy at 50? How can you be 50 when you look like you are in your 30s??? I wanted the title to be provocative...in the spirit of Larry Kramer’s Faggots and John Leguizamo’s Spic-O-Rama! It’s meant to be funny AND serious. Who gets to define us? How do we define ourselves? Where do we draw the line?

A firm commitment to a good moisturizer..and, um hey, thanks Adam!!!!

3. How do you feel the United Solo Festival fosters your shows in a way another festival might not? The United Solo Festival dares to be specific. They champion the art of solo performance. As a youth, I was incredibly turned on by Spalding Gray and his monologues. Later, I was way into Eric Bogosian. I’ve always enjoyed this challenging and inspiring art form. United Solo celebrates it! If you’re solo performer or a person that enjoys solo performance…it’s where it’s at! They’ve created an incredible and supportive community.

4. In 2012, The Bronx Queen won United Solo's "Best Comedy Script" award and in 2013, it won United Solo's "Most Popular Show." What do these accolades mean to you and what did it mean to you to personally be asked back by the festival? Adam, it is a funny moment in a man’s life when his autobiographical show wins "Best Comedy!" Ha! Seriously, it is very satisfying to receive recognition like this! I am trying to give these shows and their messages a life! Winning awards garners attention. We’re in show business…gotta keep people interested!

This year, United Solo gave me the honor of opening the ENTIRE festival. This was in recognition of The Bronx Queen breaking records last year! I am BLOWN AWAY...complimented, thankful, wildly appreciative! It’s my intention to do them proud!

Joe Gulla5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Faggy at 50? I hope my audiences have a few good hearty laughs! Also, I hope they see that once we get past life's "static"…the important and satisfying stuff reveals itself!

6. What do you like about writing and starring in your own shows? How do you separate yourself between actor/writer? Writing’s a great vehicle of expression and it comes naturally to me! I take it seriously! Delivering MY words MYSELF...to a LIVE AUDIENCE. You’ve heard the expression before, "There’s nothing better! Nothing!" That being said, actors get more free drinks than writers and I’m all about the free drinks!

7. Who or what inspired you to become an actor/playwright? I’m a Bronx boy, a native New Yorker. My family came to Broadway all the time! The thought of being an actor/playwright was fascinating to me, but the reality of it seemed so elusive! I can name the names: John Guare, Terrence McNally, Tom Stoppard. Spalding Gray, Eric Bogosian, David Drake. But, at the end of the day, I was ROCKED when I saw Torch Song Trilogy on Broadway…so let’s go with Harvey!!!

Joe Gulla8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Nicky Silver…call me!!!

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Never underestimate the value of the Third Avenue Bridge!"

10. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor/playwright? I’ve learned that sharing one’s story is satisfying, gratifying and, surprisingly, healing!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Easy! With a snap of my "super powered" fingers, the cashiers at my local CVS turn into shirtless, hunky, humpy go-go boys…who I tip a dollar for my toothpaste purchase!

12. If you could be any original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Lime! To enliven my green eyes!

13. Favorite way to stay in shape? Equinox Made Me Do It!

14. Boxers or Briefs? Roberto Cavalli Trunks are my go-to!

15. How do you want to be remembered? I wore the SPY Magazine t-shirt in 90’s! On the back, it said: "Smart. Fun. Funny. Fearless."

Joe GullaMore on Joe:

Joe Gulla is an American playwright, actor, and reality television participant. He is best known for the autobiographical monologues that he writes and performs for the theater. His best known work, The Bronx Queen is based on his experience growing up as a gay boy in the Bronx. It was awarded "Best Comedic Script" and "Most Popular Show" at NYC Theater Row's 2012 and 2013 United Solo Theatre Festival.

Joe was a contestant on the NBC Adventure Reality Series, Lost in 2001. The show followed three teams of two as they made there way from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia back to the United States.

His play, Garbo was based on an unrequited love affair experienced while living in Rome, Italy. Garbo was selected to be part of the New York City's Times Square International Theater Festival in 2012. He played the role of "Frankie" in Off-Broadway's long-running hit, My Big Gay Italian Wedding.

The Advocate Magazine named Joe Gulla its "Anti-Bullying Hero." in 2012.

Sunday
Sep072014

Call Answered: Joan Shepard: Confessions of Old Lady #2 2014 International Fringe Festival Encore Series

Joan Shepard in "Confessions of Old Lady #2""Call Me Adam" chats with actress Joan Shepard about her show Confessions of Old Lady #2, chronicling her 74 year career on Broadway and Television that is part of the 2014 International Fringe Festival Encores Series at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street) on September 18 and 28. Click here for tickets!

For more on Joan be sure to visit http://www.joanhaydenshepard.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Your show, Confessions of Old Lady #2, about your 74 year career on Broadway & television, just finished its initial run in the 2014 NYC Fringe International Theatre Festival and is now being presented in their Encore Series. What excites you about having your show in the Fringe Encore series? Excited & pleased to have been chosen.

2. What made now the right time to present Confessions of Old Lady #2? The last 2 summers I took the show to the Edinburgh Fringe. I loved it and would have gone back this year. But my daughter, the esteemed director Jenn Thompson, persuaded me to shoot for NYC Fringe as a higher target.

3. How do you feel the Fringe Festival helps foster this show in a way another festival might not? Plainly the attention given to Fringe NYC is extraordinary. I  got 4 reviews. The other Festival I applied to, offered a single performance as opposed to 5. 

Joan Shepard in "Confessions of Old Lady #2"4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Confessions of Old Lady #2? The promise that there is life after 80.

5. Since this show is about tales from your career, is there a story that did not make it into the show that you can share with us? In the show I tell about playing a 5 line part in The Member of the Wedding on Broadway. I don't want to distract from the impact of quoting Miss Ethel Waters &  telling how "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" got into the show, so I don't tell how (11 years after Bway) Miss Waters chose me to play the leading role of "Frankie Addams" on the West Coast, opposite her. One of my proudest possessions is a program cover showing me on her lap as we sing the famous hymn.

6. What was it like to go back through your whole life and career to put this show together? Were there moments when it was all too much for you? It was exhilarating rather than upsetting.

Joan Shepard in "Confessions of Old Lady #2"7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was totally hooked by my first show Romeo & Juliet, starring Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh. I never considered any other profession from, that day to this.

8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I would love to work with Liza Minnelli. She's in my show, but we never shared a stage at the same time.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Don't ever let yourself be bitter." (too many character ladies have made this mistake).

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That being scared is okay. I am still terrified before each performance, particularly of CONFESSIONS, and I know it's part of the deal.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? No question: the power to fly.

12. If you could be an original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Mint.

13. How do you want to be remembered? As someone who brought delight.

Joan ShepardMore on Joan:

Joan Shepard has enjoyed 74 years as a working actress, beginning with being cast as an extra in Laurence Olivier's Broadway production of Romeo & Juliet in 1940. Since then she has racked up 8 more Broadway plays, including The Member of the Wedding with Ethel Waters and Foolish Notion in which she played Tallulah Bankhead's daughter. As a child, she was one of radio's Quiz Kids, as a grown up she has had a distinguished career on stage and on television. Most recently she has appeared regionally at such theatres as the Human Race, New Harmony, the Pasadena Playhouse and the Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut. At the latter, she served also as Managing Director and was, along with her husband, Evan Thompson, directly responsible for saving that historic theatre from the wrecking ball. At Ivoryton she received a record number, seventeen of Pictorial Gazette Awards for her performances, and on television she was a memorable shoplifter on ABC's What Would You Do? as well as appearing on the HBO series Girls. In 2012 & 2013 she took her one-woman show CONFESSIONS OF OLD LADY #2 to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she was critically hailed as "a musical powerhouse" remotegoat.com, "a must see for any aspiring performer" StageWon, "Marvellous" (Whats'On), "a wonderful raconteur" Carrie Gooch SGfringe; "fabulous but not fading" (Scotsgay), 4 stars, "a gleeful account" (Libby Purves, the London Times). NYC's Cabaret Scenes described her show as "fascinating and fun" and called her "an eternal sprite whose company is a true pleasure".

Friday
Sep052014

Call Answered: Wendy Ho: Greatest Shits CD Release and Concert at The Triad/Stage 72

Wendy Ho, Photo Credit: Dusti Cunningham at Dragonfly Trannyshack La!!! Wig styled by Curtis William Foreman and provided by RockStar Wigs"Call Me Adam" chats with "The Queen of Raunch and Soul," Wendy Ho about new CD Greatest Shits, releasing on September 25 as well as her concert in support of this release called Wendy Ho (And Friends) on September 29 at The Triad/Stage 72 in NYC (158 West 72nd Street)! Click here for tickets! 

1. On September 29 you will be having your official NYC concert/release party for your new CD Wendy Ho: Greatest Shits at The Triad/Stage 72. What made you want to have this concert/release party at the Triad/Stage 72? Yes, it’s true! I am pleased to be hosting my "Greatest Shits," album release and concert at Stage 72 on September 29. My friend Michael Doane runs the theater booking, and I actually was just going to come into town to visit friends, but he offered the date to me—and since it coincided with my album release I said, "Why not?"

2. The concert will feature some of today's biggest names in theatre including Ben Rimalower, Natalie Joy Johnson, and Daniel Reichard. I love all three of them! How did you decide who you wanted to have as a special guest? Well, we have something in common because I love them too. The name of the show is Wendy Ho and Friends, and these "names," just so happen to be people who are dear friends of mine, and they have encouraged and inspired me throughout my artistic journey.

Daniel Reichard and I actually met at a one year "Never Forget" 9/11 commemorative party on a roof top on the lower east side—3 days after I had moved to New York in 2002. We hit it off instantly and were inseparable for quite some time. He was actually at the piano playing "Get Here," in his Chelsea apartment when I started to sing what is now the opening line of "Fuck Me," as a joke.

Ben Rimalower and I became close when he directed my first one woman show at Ars Nova in December of 2007. I met him through my friend Scott Nevins, and we hit it off in that same sort of instantaneous way that Daniel and I did. Natalie Joy and I met through Ben at Posh one night when we were doing a show with Poppi Kramer. I knew we were kindred spirits when we found ourselves outside of Posh on the street belting Jill Scott songs, and someone shouted from their apartment "shut the fuck up," and we CACKLED ourselves right off the curb.

3. What made now the right time to release your Greatest Shits album? There were many songs that were not allowed on iTunes because of liberal and ignorant sampling that we used when I first started recording. I kept finding myself at shows where people would either ask one of two questions, the first being— "Is this on itunes?" To which the answer was always a sad "I’m sorry, but no." So first, we rearranged the instrumentals to make them legally sellable on iTunes. The other thing they would ask is, after looking over the 2 hard copies of albums that I had for sale was inevitably— with tears in their eyes, "Where’s poop noodle????" So supply and demand told me that I had to get all of the favorite songs onto one album, and I really needed to make them available on iTunes.

4. Your Greatest Shits Tour includes stops in Philadelphia, Boston, and Los Angeles. What are you looking forward to most about this tour? What do you like about interacting with your fans? What I am looking forward to most is what I always look forward to when I hit the road, getting to be in the middle of, and getting to co-create all the little pockets of love that I have luckily accumulated throughout my tenure as Qween Hobag! I love being with friends and fans because there’s a mirror affect, they give me encouragement and I in turn give them permission to be shameless attention whores like myself!

Wendy Ho, Photo Credit: Eileen Keenan Photography5. Let's go back to the beginning for a moment. How did you come up with Wendy Ho? How did you get the title "The Queen of Raunch and Soul?" What do you like or dislike about having this title? My real name is Wendy Jo, and when I was an acting student at Missouri State, I used to write and perform raps about my teachers and some of the students. They were all dirty and funny, so a friend of mine started calling me, "Wendy Ho," and it stuck. I never considered it a career move, nor did I ever take it seriously, but "she" followed me from place to place and job to job. I would inevitably end up performing her for other performers and cast members, and people would clamor for more. I eventually made a couple of albums of standard songs that I loved singing just to see what it was like to record, along with those albums I decided to put out a joke album of all the Wendy Ho bits I would do at parties, called Wendy Ho: Bitch Off a Leash, and this was the album that everyone wanted. Then, I was fumbling around New York, an out of work entertainstress when I met music producer, Craig Levy. Again, I tried my hand at legit singing-songwriting, and while we were working together I gave him a copy of the Wendy Ho album. He listened to it and immediately called me and asked, "Why aren’t we working on this? This is so funny, and no other artist I know is doing this…above all certainly no white woman."  It took me a while to get comfortable with being Wendy Ho on a public level. Although I had all of my friends encouraging me, I didn’t know if it would be enjoyed on a larger level. So Levy and I started to work on flushing out some snippets of songs, and then I put out an email to all of my performer friends asking if they knew where I could perform. They answered, and I found myself performing at Caroline’s on Broadway and then at just about every gay bar in the city. It was accepted and encouraged immediately. Of course there are those that don’t get it/don’t like it, but it’s really not for them. I eventually came to look at it like, if I can accept this over the top, dirty, loud, and crazy part of myself—maybe others will accept it in me and in themselves too. "The Queen of Raunch and Soul" came from my friend Roman Feeser, a writer, I met at Caroline’s on Broadway, and I love it!!! He also penned the line in "Fuck Me," "blow my coochie up like the taliban." I go back and fourth between the titles, though, in some circles I am known as "The Queen of Poop."

6. Many of your songs are "adult-themed" parodies of popular songs. For instance "Fuck Me" is set to the tune of "Get Here," "Poop Noodle" is set to "I Love The Night Life." Your songs are very fun and brilliantly written. What made you want to write this kind of music? Thank you. I have to say a lot of it, came naturally. I am merely the vessel from which all poop flows. I really was and am just playing catch with the universe a lot. I just thought and think this shit is funny, and when others did too, I was strongly encouraged. Laughter is truly my crack. I am addicted. If laughter was currency, I would be a very rich woman sitting on stacks of it, but there would still never be enough.

Wendy Ho7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I really was one of those cliched babies that sang before I could talk, I just loved music and singing. But performing was not something that came naturally. I was actually really shy, really self conscious, picked last for the team, fat and awkward, but when I was around my family and close friends I would come out of my shell. I would sing and act and always liked pretending and stories. My dad encouraged me to audition for a play, so I did, and the exhilaration of even being called back had me hooked. Then there was the amplified pretend element, and I was IN. I guess I was just one of those kids that reality just wasn’t enough, and I certainly didn’t feel like I was enough, so that lead me to the life of a theatrical misfit. I had no idea that avoiding myself and reality would in essence circle right back around to require acceptance of myself, my limitations, and strengths.

I’ve met so many entertainers with a similar story and those people REALLY inspire me. I consider myself very lucky to have found not only self acceptance, but in so doing— my tribe. OH! and when I was 11 and saw Bette Midler singing "Otto Titsling" in Beaches I just knew that was the type of performer I would be. It was a definitive moment.

8. Who would you still like to work with? Gosh, there’s so many that I haven’t worked with. I don’t even know where to begin! The orignial cast of 9 to 5 would be great!! Margaret Cho and I are working on something, and I’m super excited by her. She is a gawdess! I love Bianca Del Rio and we go way back, I’d love to do something with him. Musically I’m still waiting on Michael McDonald to call me! Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Coolidge both still owe me one for ripping off "I Stole Yo Purse." There really are too many to name. My world is so abundant with artists. I’m so lucky!

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Was from my high school theater teacher Lee Hitchler—"Always work with people that are more talented than you."

Wendy Ho10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? The main thing I’ve learned about myself is that I am a crazy contradiction of different shades of gay, maybe not sexually—but theatrically, yes.…I said GAY. I’ve learned that at my worst I can be petty, selfish and insecure, and at my best I can be forgiving, generous and confident. If you can’t deal with all that, then we’re breaking up. I also have learned that I really think poop is funnier than farting.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite skin care product? My favorite product is "City Skin" moisturizer from the all natural skin care line developed and created by Dr. Jen at Atomic Cosmetics in Seattle. Plug, plug!!!! Seriously, this woman makes everything right in her own lab, and the entire line is amazing. The moisturizer smells like an orange blossom and just glides on my skin like silk! She makes the best stuff, and I adore her.

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Well, making some people laugh is pretty super...but if it’s gotta be SUPER, I’d have to say self multiplication, it’d be great to play 80 different shows at once!

13. If you could be an original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Cayenne Pepper! Wait, that’s not a flavor…Purple. I would be purple flavored.

14. How do you want to be remembered? As that funny, nasty, generous, forgiving, loving ho lady!

Wendy HoMore on Wendy:

Wendy Jo Smith, better known by her stage name, Wendy Ho is one part skilled singer, one part comedienne, one part rap artist, and 100% entertainer. Over a million youtube views, having drag queens around the world cover her songs, and being spoofed by Ryan Murphy are just a few of this ho's claim to fame.

Wendy got her start as a little honey boo boo child in a trailer court in Ohio. She had a dream of being a stage performer moved to New York City to pursue it. In her starving artist years, she flirted with the idea of stealing ladies’ handbags from coat rooms at parties where she catered, of course, this inspired her track "Bitch, I Stole Yo Purse!," which became the #1 Funniest Video of 2008 on the MTV/LOGO Network, and was parodied on FX’s Nip/Tuck with Jennifer Coolidge playing their version of Wendy Ho. This track came from the beloved cult classic album, The Gospel According to Ho which includes the torch song parody of Brenda Russel/ Oleta Adams' "Get Here," now known as the drag classic, "Fuck Me!" This irreverence and balls-out femininity struck a special chord with the gay community, inspiring drag queens around the world to perform her songs and celebrate Ho.

With a rainbow hurricane of gay support behind her, Wendy Ho tours non-stop nationally with her one woman show, The Wendy Ho Show playing at gay bars, comedy clubs, theaters, and cabarets. Her act is always evolving with original songs and parodies. Her YouTube Channel, "HOtube," is also always growing its web presence with regular music videos and sketches, her newest single, "Public Place," a parody of Rihanna's "We Found Love," is picking up traction.

Wendy currently resides in Los Angeles with her film-maker husband Stas Tagios (who collaborates with her on many videos), and she's a regular at The Comedy Store, Hamburger Mary's, Rage, and The Abbey. RuPaul and Victoria Beckham are two of her biggest fans, and her work has been featured on Logo, Showtime, and HereTV. She has also opened for comedy legends Sandra Bernhard and Leslie Jordan.

Ho is an artist. Ho is a state of mind. Ho redefines women in music and comedy with true liberation. She is funny and sexy, never sacrificing one for the other. A pretty bitch, a witty feminist, a self-possessed, self-assured mashup of street and trash who makes you laugh while she makes you think. The responses she evokes from audiences are as diverse as her roots, but at the core there is no question about who she is. Wendy is all woman. All Ho.

Tuesday
Sep022014

Call Unmasked: Cooper Grodin: Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary National Tour

Cooper Grodin, Photo Credit: Beth Kirkpatrick

While Norm Lewis stars as "The Phantom" on Broadway, "Call Me Adam" decided to take a road trip to chat with Cooper Grodin, who is playing "The Phantom" in the 25th Anniversary National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera. We unmasked Cooper to discuss what it is like to play this iconic role around the country.

Click here to see Cooper on tour in The Phantom of the Opera and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

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

1. You are currently starring as "The Phantom" on the 25th Anniversary National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera. This iconic role has been played by numerous actors. How are you putting your own spin on this classic role? I suppose I don't think I'm putting a spin on it. I have a script, a director and my instincts. We try to tell an honest story with distinctly strong choices.

2. What do you identify most with, about "The Phantom"? That he is a composer and that he is passionate about music.

Cooper Grodin as "The Phantom" and Julia Udine as "Christine Daaé" in the 25th Anniversary National Tour of "The Phantom of the Opera", Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy3. This 25th Anniversary National Tour has new scenic design, new choreography, new staging, but still boasting the original costume design. How do you feel these additions breathe a new life into this classic show? Because they are, in fact, all new, it's a chance to revisit legendary material with new eyes and technology of today. The chandelier, fire and automations are all very current.

4. What excites you most about being on this special 25th Anniversary National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera? Getting to embody this iconic role.  I would like to come back to it over and over again as I grow as an artist.

5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing this new National Tour? I hope they are entertained, moved and leave with questions about relationships and the choices we make in life.

Cooper Grodin as "The Phantom" and Julia Udine as "Christine Daaé" in the 25th Anniversary National Tour of "The Phantom of the Opera", Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy6. What is the best part about performing with your talented cast mates? We have the whole spectrum, from new comers to Tony nominated veterans and that is indescribable. We all work as one.

7. What is your favorite part of the show to perform (if you can even choose one)? The final lair scene. There is an immense amount of energy flying around the three of us. The action is always spontaneous and honest.

8. If you saw Phantom of the Opera growing up, what is it like to now be on the flip side and performing in the show? Is it as magical as you remember or even more so because now you are more part of the magic? When I saw the show I knew the role would someday be a great one for me to play, that I am actually doing it – that’s a dream.

Cooper Grodin as "The Phantom" and Julia Udine as "Christine Daaé" in the 25th Anniversary National Tour of "The Phantom of the Opera", Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy9. Who or what inspired you to become an actor? I suppose I'm still, and always will be working towards becoming the best actor I can be. I don’t know that any one thing inspired me, it seems to have just evolved out of my musicianship but I must admit, when I saw Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire, I thought, now that's something.

10. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Michael Fassbender, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, too many to list all.

11. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor? As I delve further into the craft of acting I find that the rules of great acting, which are to say, behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances, are the same rules that you apply to living a great existence. To simply respond, to get out of your head by getting the attention on the other person.

Cooper Grodin, Photo Credit: Beth Kirkpatrick12. What's the best advice you've ever received? If you think you'll succeed or fail, your right. No one can make you feel anything. Who ever is in front of you is your teacher. "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity."

BONUS QUESTIONS:

13. Favorite way to stay in shape? Basketball, swimming, weights. But I'm always looking for fun new ways to do fitness. My cast mates are currently getting me into racquetball.

14. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs.

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

16. If you could be any original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Red or Cherry.

17. How do you want to be remembered? When they think of me, let them smile.

Cooper Grodin, Photo Credit: Beth KirkpatrickMore on Cooper: 

Cooper was born and raised on the isle of Manhattan where he attended LaGuardia High School of Music, Art, and Performing Arts. Cooper earned his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and received his Masters in Vocal Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. He is an avid singer of all genres and an accomplished pianist and composer. He has performed in the 25th Anniversary National Tour of Les Misérables (Combeferre), Into the Woods (Rapunzel’s Prince) at NYC’s Shakespeare in the Park, Grease (Danny), Les Misérables (Javert), A Little Night Music (The Count), Joseph… (Pharoah), Carousel (Billy) at Chicago’s Light Opera Works, Parade (Governor Slaton), Fiddler on the Roof (Perchik) and The Fantasticks (El Gallo). Cooper has sung numerous concerts with the New York Philharmonic, Brooklyn Philharmonic and The American Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed in the New York premiere of Grendel at City Opera directed by Julie Taymor, and Zaide as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival directed by Peter Sellars. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in Paul McCartney’s Ecce Cor Meum. He can been seen in such films as Music and Lyrics and Salt. He was awarded a Lys Syonette Award for "Outstanding Performance of an Individual Number" in the Lotte Lenya/Kurt Weill competition. His new original album It’s The Little Things is now available on iTunes. Cooper would like to honor all the wonderful people in his life by dedicating his performances to them, especially his beautiful parents, Tara Rubin, Merri Sugarman, and Laurence O'Connor his teachers, coaches, and About Artists Agency for their belief in him and their continued love and support.

Thursday
Aug282014

Call Answered: Ute Lemper: Sings The Love Poems of Pablo Neruda at 54 Below

Ute Lemper"Call Me Adam" chats with Ute Lemper, renowned international chanteuse and star of Broadway and London's Chicago, about her upcoming engagement at 54 Below from September 2-6 entitled Ute Lemper Sings The Love Poems of Pablo Neruda. Click here for tickets!

1. From September 2-6, you will be returning to 54 Below. What excites you about this return engagement? What do you like most about performing here? I am very comfortable in 54 Below. It is in the center of Manhattan, close to Broadway, a perfect location and a very nice size club with proximity to the most sophisticated and international audience. I love to perform in all different venues in NY, but this one has a beautiful decoration and a good sound system. I am excited to bring my 6 piece band this time to celebrate the love poems of Pablo Neruda.

2. What can fans expect from this show that they have not seen in previous shows? This is a very special performance. I will take the audience on a journey through this original repertoire that I have created over the last 2 years, a song cycle to the love poems of Pablo Neruda. It is in Spanish, English and French. The music, that I have written is influenced by Tango and Chanson and it transforms the poetry into most engaging and powerful melodies and songs.

3. This show is entitled Ute Lemper Sings The Love Poems of Pablo Neruda, in support of your recently released album of the same name. Why did you want to do an evening of music set to his poems? What is about Pablo's poems that you identify with most? I admire this poet. He was able to be a politician, a humanist, a diplomat and an artist all at the same time and his fight for freedom and equality was unique. I chose nevertheless the non political love poems as they are universal and easier to put into music. We have performed this concert all over the world and I have witnessed how much love and adoration people of all nations carry for Pablo Neruda. He has consoled many souls through times of oppression and given hope to them.

Of course my own inspirations first of all came from life itself. The love in my heart for life, my family, my children, my love, and my music, but also for everything I ever sang from the most beautiful songs of Brel/Piaf/Weill/Piazzolla/Ferre…..all those special songs that live in my heart for so long...somehow they also took influence in the NERUDA project.

You will see the unbelievable talent of my band, such great musicians that carry us through the evening with virtuosity.

Ute Lemper4. For this concert, you are also taking the audience on a tour around the world not only singing selections from your new album, but from some of your favorite composers. As an international star, what have you enjoyed most about performing around the world? If I have a little time left, I will of course venture through the Weimar Republic and sing some Kurt Weill and possibly Edith Piaf.

5. How do the audiences differ and how are they the same? Every audience is different and also has different pockets in itself. It is always a pleasure to perform, in front of quiet or wild or loud or very popular or very sophisticated audience. I communicate through music and poetry and I am so grateful to find this common space of mind and heart with my audience and of course entertain them with heart and soul and wicked humor.

6. In addition to singing, you have had a quite a career on the theatrical stage. What do you get from your theatrical endeavors that you do not get from singing? I mostly love singing and making music and I miss the music very much when I perform straight theatre. Nowadays I mostly do concert tours and create my own original projects, but of course my main mission is to keep my root repertoire of German and French Chanson alive and contemporary.

7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Its my inner demons and my utter passion for music and the realization and communication of it.

Ute Lemper8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? There are many wonderful artists I wish to collaborate with and to meet, but then I am very happy to work on my own too with my wonderful team of musicians.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? It's the one that I discovered myself...follow your first impulse and listen to your intuition and stay truthful to your passions.

And: giving is way more extraordinary than receiving....

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? It is a gift and a privilege to make this passion into a profession and it needs the utmost dedication, but also the utmost inspiration by life in all its ups and downs.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to stay in shape? Eat only the half....stop before you are full, stay active...with kids or sports....and train your core, stomach and back and shoulders.

Be positively spirited at all times and engage in happiness as much as you can.

12. Favorite skin care product? Shiseido

13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Love trigger and medicine.

14. If you could be an original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Love flavor.

15. How do you want to be remembered? Haha...well as one of the last great European ladies to sing and create chanson...no may be not....a great mother...a great lover...or just crazy Ute...

Ute LemperMore on Ute:

Ute Lemper's career is vast and varied. She has made her mark on the stage, in films, in concert and as a unique recording artist. She has been universally praised for her interpretations of Berlin Cabaret Songs, the works of Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht and  the French Chanson Book. As well as her own compositions and the more Jazz influenced collaborations and works. In the world of theater Ute made her mark with her portrayals on Broadway, in Paris and in London's West End.

Ute was born in Munster, Germany and completed her studies at The Dance Academy in Cologne and the Max Reinhardt Seminary Drama School in Vienna.

Ute Lemper SingingHer professional debut in theater after her studies at the Max Reinhardt Seminar was the Fassbinder play Katzelmacher at the Stuttgarter Staatstheater and a collaboration with Jerome Savary Bye Bye Showbiz. On the musical stage she starred in the original Vienna production of Cats in the roles of "Grizabella" and "Bombalurina", as "Peter Pan" in Peter Pan (Berlin) and "Sally Bowles" in Jerome Savary's Cabaret (Paris) for which she received the Moliere Award for Best Actress in a Musical. She played "Lola" in The Blue Angel (Berlin) and Maurice Bejart created a ballet for her, La Mort Subite (Paris). Ute also collaborated with Pina Bausch and her Tanztheater on the Weill Revue. Ute created the part of "Velma Kelly" in London's production of Chicago in the West End, for which she was honored with the Laurence Olivier Award, and moved to the Broadway production after one year.

Ute Lemper's solo concerts, which include Kurt Weill/Berthold Brecht Recitals, Berlin Cabaret, Dietrich and Piaf, Jacques Brel, Leo Ferre, Kosma, Prevert, Sondheim, Piazzolla and also Lemper's own songs, have been produced in prestigious venues throughout the world. Her symphony concerts include The Seven Deadly Sins, Songs from Kurt Weill,Songbook (Michael Nyman) and Songs from Weill, Piaf and Dietrich with the symphony orchestras of London, Israel, Boston, Hollywood, San Francisco, Berlin, The Paris Radio Symphony Orchestra, The Illusions Orchestra (Bruno Fontaine) and the Michael Nyman Band (Michael Nyman). She also appeared in Folksongs with the Luciano Berio Orchestra (Luciano Berio) and with The Matrix Ensemble (Robert Ziegler) performing Berlin Cabaret Songs. She has performed with the best symphony orchestras all over the world from Buenos Aires to Sydney.

Her celebrated recordings for DECCA include Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill (Vols. I and II), Three Penny Opera, The Seven Deadly Sins, Mahagonny Songspiel, Prospero's Books (Michael Nyman), Songbook (Michael Nyman/Paul Celan), Illusions (Piaf/Dietrich), City of Strangers (Prevert/Sondheim) and Berlin Cabaret Songs (German and English versions). She was named Billboard Magazine's Crossover Artist of the Year for 1993-1994. In early 2000, Decca/Universal Music released Punishing Kiss, featuring new songs composed for her by Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Philip Glass, and Nick Cave. Her following release on Decca, But One Day, features new arrangements of Weill, Brel, Piazzolla, Heymann and Eisler songs, as well as the first recordings of her own compositions, for which she wrote both lyrics and music. She has also recorded Crimes of the Heart, Life is a Cabaret and Ute Lemper Live for CBS Records and Espace Indecent, Nuits Etranges and She Has a Heart for POLYDOR.

She recorded Blood and Feathers (available on both CD and DVD), live at the Carlyle, one of New York's hottest Cabaret stages. It was released worldwide on DRG/Koch Records and EDEL Records in Europe.

All That Jazz/The Best of Ute Lemper, which features highlights from her illustrious career to date was released in 1998. It accompanied her playing "Velma Kelly" in the London production of Kander and Ebb's Chicago for which she received the 1998 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical. After nine months in London's West End, Ms. Lemper made her Broadway debut in September 1998. A major highlight of her eight months American engagement in Chicago was starring with Chita Rivera in the Las Vegas premiere in March 1999.

Her album, Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, consists entirely of self-penned music and lyrics, and Ute enjoyed co-producing all of her songs together with her partner Todd Turkisher.

In film, her many credits include L'Autrichienne (Pierre Granier-Deferre), Prospero's Books (Peter Greenaway), Moscow Parade (Ivan Dikhovichni), Prêt-à-Porter (Robert Altman), Bogus (Norman Jewison) and the most recent releases, Combat de Fauves (Benoit Lamy), A River Made to Drown In (James Merendino) and Appetite (George Milton). She has appeared on television in Rage/Outrage, The Dreyfus Affair (Arte), Tales from the Crypt (HBO), Ute Lemper Sings Kurt Weill (Bravo), Illusions (Granada), Songbook (Volker Scholendorff), The Wall (Rogers Waters) and The Look of Love (Gillian Lynn).