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Entries in Feinstein's 54 Below (15)

Wednesday
Jan252017

Call Redialed: NEW Facetime interview with Luba Mason, Broadway Star & Recording Artist

Luba MasonLive from the Algonquin Hotel in NYC's theatre district, "Call Me Adam" catches up with Luba Mason, Recording Artist and Drama Desk/Lucille Lortel nominated actress! We talk about her nominated turn in last year's Off-Broadway hit show Pretty Filthy, an inside look at the adult film industry, plus the upcoming cast reunion concert at Feinstein's/54 Below on 2/21 at 9:30pm to celebrate Pretty Filthy's album release.

We also discuss Luba's latest recording Mixtura, Chicago: The Musical's 20th Anniversary on Broadway, as well as her participation in BroadwayCon 2017 panel discussion: "Stepping Into The Spotlight: Replacing on Broadway" on 1/29 at 2pm!

For more on Luba be sure to visit http://lubamason.com and follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube!

"Call Me Adam's" interview with Luba Mason:

Monday
Jan162017

Call Answered: Michael Griffiths: IN VOGUE: SONGS BY MADONNA 

Michael GriffithsEver since I heard "Borderline" by Madonna, I was hooked on her and her music. I own all her albums, have watched all her movies, and seen many of her world tours. Madonna's music has inspired me, helped through my troubles, and been there to celebrate the good times. Madonna's self-expression has shown me it's okay to be who you are regardless of whether or not people like you for it. The ones who like you will accept it and those who don't will have to deal with it.

With-in "4 Minutes" of finding out about Michael Griffiths' show In Vogue: Songs By Madonna, I stepped into the "Spotlight" and gave him a ring. Luckily, I did not get "Hung Up" on. From one "Rebel Heart" to another, Michael & I immediately got "Into The Grove" about the creation of this show, our mutual admiration of Madonna and revealing a "Secret" about Michael he has not told anyone else! This is one Madonna "Celebration" you don't want to miss!

In Vogue: Songs By Madonna features Michael simply seated at the piano, leading the audience on a journey through Madonna's tough life and tender songs, including "Vogue," "Into The Groove" and "Express Yourself." The show will play Martinis Above Fourth in San Diego 1/26, 8pm, Catalina Bar & Grill in Los Angeles 1/29, 7:30pm, and Feinstein's/54 Below in New York 2/7, 9:30pm! 

For more on Michael be sure to visit http://michaelgriffiths.co and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This February you are making your Feinstein’s/54 Below debut with your show In Vogue: Songs By Madonna. What made now the right time to bring this show to NYC? A few years back in Australia I read from afar about Feinstien’s/54 Below opening as New York’s premier cabaret venue and immediately thought "Wow, I wanna play there one day." Of course, I never actually did anything about it. Last year I was invited to perform my Cole Porter tribute around California in February and bringing "In Vogue" to New York was my very next thought! I don’t think I consciously decided it was the "right time," more that the stars have aligned and I’m terribly excited.

2. What excites you most about performing this show? The thrill of cabaret is the intimacy of sharing a common experience with an audience. I also love being alone on stage, it’s very dangerous and there’s no smoke or mirrors - you simply have to bring your A-game! The show attracts all types of people, but the long term Madonna fans are the ones who get the biggest kick out every little reference and lyric. I sing 12 songs in their entirety, but cram in references to about 35 different songs. It’s a testament to her extraordinary output and longevity.

Michael Griffiths3. As a huge Madonna fan myself, I can only imagine how hard it was to narrow down the song selection. How did you ever manage to do that? What were some of the songs you had to leave out? It was hard and there are a number of songs that I adore which have been left by the wayside: "Crazy For You," "Take A Bow," "Causing A Commotion" and "La Isla Bonita," the latter omitted mainly because I can’t properly pronounce the Spanish "r" in San Pedro. It was about choosing songs that gave a sense of her character or illustrated part of her life, balanced with songs that suited a male voice at the piano. Like Madonna herself, I’m a big fan of reinvention and it’s great fun reimagining these songs with a touch of ragtime, jazz and even some Phillip Glass minimalism for good measure.

4. Your show takes audiences on a journey through Madonna’s life and music. When was the moment you knew Madonna was it for you? What stage of her life was it and what song drew you in? I remember early at primary school all the Italian girls (who always knew what was cool before anyone else did) were dancing around to "Holiday" on a cassette recorder at recess. I thought it was a great song but wasn’t so keen on "Like A Virgin" or "Material Girl" so didn’t consider myself a Madonna fan from the very beginning. A year or so later, the gorgeous ballad "Live To Tell" came out and it was the first 7-inch single I ever bought. I loved her "old hollywood" look in the video clip too. When True Blue the album was released, the very opening strings on "Papa Don’t Preach" utterly hooked me. I’ve been a fan ever since. As a gay man who grew up in the 80s and came out in the 90s, it’s hard to imagine life without her.

5. You created a show about one of our biggest icons ever. Did you have any reservations prior to creating this show? If Madonna herself came to see the show, what would she think of it? I wanted the show to represent her impact on my life, my pop sensibility learnt from her and for it to be joyous. There’s an unbridled joy in pop music, joy in the Hollywood rap in "Vogue," joy in the self empowerment of "Express Yourself," in singing along to "Ray Of Light." Of course, a 42-year-old gay guy claiming he IS Madonna (I do the show without drag or impersonation) does inherently have some humour and I worry she might not appreciate some of the bitchy quips. Or the references to some of her movie choices. It all comes from a place of love and admiration though :)

6. If you could star in five of Madonna's music videos, which ones would you want to be in? If you could have been a dancer in one of her world tours, which one would you have liked to be a part of? I’m obsessed with the video to "Human Nature," it’s INCREDIBLE! That would be my all time fave, maybe I’d star as the little dog? Then one of the sexy cowboys in "Don’t Tell Me." Driving around with her in a limo in "Music" looks like fun. Lying around in a 5-star hotel room in "Justify My Love" adds just a touch of controversy and I’d have to finish off with an appearance voguing in "Vogue." As for being a dancer, I was a big fan of the "Sticky and Sweet" tour and joined in at home with the jumping "Give It To Me" finale. So fun!

Michael Griffiths7. Let’s find out a bit about you through some Madonna songs:

  • Where's your favorite place to take a "Holiday" (from Madonna)? I love a tropical holiday, anywhere the ocean is warm. "La Isla Bonita" perhaps?
  • When have you felt like a "Material Girl" (from Like A Virgin)?  Hmmm, when I buy expensive skincare?
  • When your dad would try to teach you something, did you ever say or think "Papa Don't Preach" (from True Blue)? I would burst into song, "BUT I’VE MADE UP MY MIND, IIIIIIIII'M KEEPING MY BABY!" Actually, that would be weird.
  • If you weren't a singer, how would you "Express Yourself" (from Like A Prayer)? Maybe I’d be a writer? Even as a singer, I think what’s appealing to me is telling stories.
  • What is something you hope happens for you "Sooner or Later" (from her album I'm Breathless)? I hope I get to keep doing what I’m doing now.
  • What is something the "Rain" (from Erotica) has washed away for you? I feel like "Rain" might be a metaphor for healing. I think as we all grow up, there’s a gap in what we thought life would be like and what it actually is. This causes pain which triggers growth and healing. I’m suddenly getting very deep....
  • When have you been enlightened by a "Ray of Light" (from Ray of Light)? I’m still waiting....
  • What is one "Secret" (from Bedtime Story) you would like to reveal that you haven't told in a previous interview? I’m a big softie and beautiful music makes me cry.
  • On Music, Madonna sings "Nobody's Perfect," what is one of your imperfections? I can be bombastic and easily carried away.
  • Inspired by "I'm So Stupid" (from American Life), what do you feel is the stupidest thing you've ever done? Deciding to leave my partner of 20 years for a young admirer. The youngster disappeared, my partner forgave me and it all worked out in the end. I was in idiot though.
  • When has there been a time in your life when you were ready to "Jump" (from Confessions on the Dance Floor) and you did? After many years working in musical theatre I decided to jump ship and try my luck doing cabaret. Three years later and I’m about to tour the States. "Don’t ever look back oh baby."
  • What is the most "Incredible" (from Candy Shop) thing to happen to you? I won a Helpmann Award (an Australian equivalent to a Tony) which proclaims me to be the "Best Cabaret Performer" in Australia last year. That was pretty amazing.
  • Aside from Madonna, who else do you "Turn Up The Radio" (from MDNA) for? Anything I can dance to, especially when no one is looking.
  • On Madonna's album Rebel Heart, she sings "Heartbreak City." What has been your biggest heartbreak? Finding out as an adult I was "donor conceived" and I didn't know who my biological father was. That was heartbreaking.

8. Now, let's turn to her movies. If you had a face to face meeting with her characters from Who's That Girl, Dick Tracy, A League of Their Own, Body of Evidence, and Madonna herself from Truth or Dare, what advice would you give to each of them? I’ve not watched any of those movies for sooo long! I actually have a massive soft spot for Swept Away although she is such massive bitch in it that I’d be terrified to give her any advice whatsoever.

9. If you could release a duets album with Madonna, featuring 10 of her songs, which ones would you want to record with her? I feel like going down the "Tears Of A Clown" path and doing lesser known songs: 

  • "Get Together"
  • "Inside of Me"
  • "Frozen"
  • "Dress You Up"
  • "Nothing Fails"
  • "Live To Tell"
  • "Phyiscal Attraction"
  • "Bedtime Story"
  • "Justify My Love"
  • "Beautiful Stranger"

10. If you had the opportunity to interview Madonna, what is one question you would ask her? Have you forgiven your brother for that book?

Michael GriffithsMore on Michael: 

Michael Griffiths graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) with a Bachelor in Music Theatre in 1999 and has a diploma in Music Composition. He is a singer, pianist, actor, composer and musical arranger. Michael was nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as "Bob Crewe" in Jersey Boys. He has also appeared in Priscilla Queen of the DesertWe Will Rock You!Shout! and was in the original workshop for the Australian musical Prodigal. His acclaimed one man cabaret shows In Vogue: Songs By MadonnaSweet Dreams: Songs By Annie LennoxAdolescent and Cole have delighted critics and audiences across every cabaret festival in Australia and beyond to New York, Auckland, Edinburgh, Hong Kong and London.

Friday
Jan132017

Call Redialed: Charles Busch debut CD: Live at Feinstein's/54 Below

Charles Busch, Photo Credit: Frederic ArandaGetting to interview drag legend and Tony nominee Charles Busch is always a joy! I have been a fan of Charles' plays and films for many years, but in recent years, I have also been captivated by his cabaret shows.

Charles has a real knack for cabaret. He's a fantastic storyteller which is key in cabaret. The stories are the set-up to each song as well as keeping the show moving forward. Charles is never short of an entertaining story, no matter how funny or heartbreaking it is. His delivery is always spot on. All those years of play/film writing and acting have really paid off! Let's not forget about his voice. Prior to Charles diving back into cabaret four years ago on a regular basis, I was always entertained by his singing, but now I'm in awe of it. I hope one day to have a cabaret show half as good as Charles'.

I'm so excited to share this new interview with Charles as we talk about his debut CD from Broadway RecordsLive at Feinstein's/54 Below. From self-confidence to great to sex to his Aunt Lillian, Charles discusses it all!

Click here to purchase a digital copy and click here to purchase a physical copy of Charles Busch's Live at Feinstein's/54 Below!

For more on Charles be sure to visit http://charlesbusch.com and follow him on Facebook! 

For more on Broadway Records visit http://www.broadwayrecords.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

CD designed by Robbie Rozelle1. You just released your debut CD, as part of the Live at Feinstein's/54 Below series. You've been doing cabaret shows for several years now, what made 2016 the right time to record one of your shows? A few years ago, I recorded some of my shows at Feinstein's/54 Below and I wasn't pleased with my performance. I still had a lot to learn. Last June Tom Judson, my musical director, and I decided to again record two of our shows at Feinstein's/54 Below. I was still very dubious. I wasn't sure if just hearing me was enough. I do a lot with the face, dear. I gave the rough tracks to several very critical friends, who basically don't have a good word to say about anyone or anything. Well, they were very enthusiastic. So I though "Okay, I guess I'm ready."

2. What did you like about the recording process? How was this process similar and different for you from writing a play? The CD was recorded live. My fantasy was always to do a studio album where I could nitpick and go over phrase by phrase a million times. It would be very expensive and have had to be self-produced and P.S. there are other ways I'd prefer to go broke. So frankly, I couldn't tell you about the recording process. I was just doing my act as good as I can and tried to forget that we were recording it.

3. The CD was released on the Broadway Records label. Why did you choose to go with them? Broadway Records seems to be the premiere label for Broadway shows these days. And they have a relationship with Feinstein's/54 Below. They've produced many live albums there and very good ones.

4. What do you want people to come away with after listening to this CD? Now that I've gotten more used to listening to myself, I'd say it's an excellent and accurate representation of the work Tom and I have been doing for the past four years. I'd like the listener to feel as though we're doing the show in their living room but they don't have to feed us afterwards.

Charles Busch and his Aunt Lillian5. I actually was at this show that was recorded. I just love the way you infuse your stories with the songs you sing. My favorite story during this show was the one about your Aunt Lilian. If she were alive today, what do you think her reaction would be to the stories you tell of her? Do you think she would have you tell some others? My Aunt Lillian was such an extraordinary figure in my life. She saved me when I was at a terrible, frightening crossroads at thirteen years old. I owe everything to her. I really do. She died in 2000. I have this great need to make her known to the world. She was an extremely private person and yet I think she'd be very pleased that I've shared my stories of her. I talk about her a lot on Facebook and I get a real kick that all those people feel like they know her. She was a great storyteller and I think she'd be very pleased at the stories I tell. I tell them very much like she would. My narrative style is very influenced by her; self-deprecating but enthusiastic.

6. One of my all-time favorite songs you perform on this CD is "Those Were The Days." What is something you used to do that you would just long for to do again? I wish I had some of the great sex I had in my youth. Sex in the 1970's and early 80's was fabulous. Those were the days, indeed. I'm first generation post-Stonewall and we sure knew how to make the most of it. Little did we know of the great shadow that was going to engulf us.

Charles Busch7. Another aspect of your cabaret shows I love is when you bring "Miriam Passman" to the stage, the character who inspired your Tony Nominated play The Tales of the Allergist's Wife. What was it like to revisit her? How do you relate to her today as opposed to when you first created her? Every time I sit down to write a new "Miriam Passman" monologue, I think I've played it out. What more can I say? But then I just start to channel her. I find this embattled, narcissistic, modestly talented, minimally successful cabaret performer oddly noble. She really believes she is contributing to the preservation of the American Songbook. The more I play her the more I feel for her desperate need to be taken seriously.

8. One other song you perform on Live at 54 Below is "Taking A Chance on Love." What was it like when you took a chance on love and it stuck? When I was in my early twenties, I met an older man (gasp. He was thirty-five). He was the first person to really think I was talented and had something to offer. He paid for a famous photographer to take my picture and for posters for my early shows. He was very dashing, drank and smoked too much, was a bit dangerous. But he believed in me and I was so dazzled by him. He then told me he had a lover my own age, also an aspiring performer. I had to make a decision and I chose to continue my big romance. I also managed to become good friends with his lover. We had so much in common. But we never spoke of the true nature of my relationship to the man we shared. We were an odd trio. Eventually, I had enough and broke off with him, but I remember that romance with great nostalgia.

Charles Busch and Tom Judson9. Two final songs you sing are "Sail Away" and "The Rainbow Connection." If you could "Sail Away" to anywhere, where would you go? If you could use the Rainbow to connect anything together, what would you merge? I've been checking out real estate in Sitges, Spain and Merida, Mexico. They look like very nice places to flee to. So I might be sailing away to either of them. But I'm not ready to give up yet. We're living in dynamic times. The song "The Rainbow Connection" is about hope and when things look very grim, we have to somehow dredge up that vulnerable thing called hope and then connect it to action.

10. You've been performing your various cabaret shows for a few years now, which you used to do more of in the 1990s. What is something you've learned from going back to cabaret that you didn't know beforehand? I performed in cabaret in the early nineties and then not again until about four years ago. The biggest difference is that I used to think my audience was there to see me be funny and campy and that maybe, maybe, they would tolerate me singing one or two ballads. In my latest career as a cabaret performer, I've found that the audience really enjoys the sad songs. I come to cabaret as an actor and a playwright and I love taking a song and turning it into a dramatic monologue. I recently asked someone in the audience after the show if he felt that we did too many ballads. He replied "Don't worry. Your intros are the up tunes." He was right. I do a lot of talking in my shows. I'd say the act is 60% music, 40% comedy. I'm so delighted that it comes off so well on this recording.

Charles Busch, Photo Credit: Michael WakefieldMore on Charles:

The inimitable Charles Busch, two-time MAC Award winner, Tony nominee, and drag legend, brings his unique blend of songs both contemporary and from the past in the latest release in the "Live at Feinstein’s/54 Below" series. The New York Times critic Stephen Holden raved, "He has the gift of comic gab like few other entertainers. Innately funny, endearing and acutely intelligent, he also has claws. For an audience, the possibility of being scratched, although remote, lends his humor a bracing edge." Accompanied by his dashing longtime musical director, Tom Judson, Charles combines hilarious personal reminiscence, character sketches and superb storytelling through song into one glittering and glamorous album.

Wednesday
Sep142016

Call Redialed: Melissa Errico: Return of "Funny! I'm A Woman with Children"

Melissa ErricoI simply adore Melissa Errico! I'm thrilled she answered my call yet again as her show Funny! I'm A Woman with Children returns to Feinstein's/54 Below after a triumphant sold-out first run! It was great catching up with Melissa as we delved deeper into the creation of this show, motherhood, marriage, and balancing family life with a demanding career.

Funny! I'm A Woman with Children returns to Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on September 20-21 & 23-24. Click here for tickets!

For more on Melissa be sure to visit http://melissaerrico.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit http://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. This September, you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with your show Funny! I'm A Woman with Children. You just premiered this show in April, what made you want to do it again so quickly? Well, it sold out and they invited me back. The show feels good to do and is an exciting sing, so if it's good for me and fun for you, why not do it?

2. For someone who came to the initial run of Funny! I'm A Woman with Children, why should they come back? What is one reason someone who has not seen this show come see it? To see what I rent from Rent the Runway OF COURSE. No seriously, I have special guests this time, a new last third of the show AND I never remember what stories I told so I'll undoubtedly be telling new tales with a new energy. I'm in such a different place since last spring. Every six months, I have a new personality. My kids grow an INCH overnight, why shouldn't I?

Director Robbie Rozelle and Melissa Errico3. Once again, you are teaming up with Robbie Rozelle as your director. You have worked with Robbie for a while now. What do you love about working with him? What is one funny moment that happened between you and Robbie during the formation of this show or during rehearsals? I like working with him because he helps me sing songs that he knows the AUDIENCE really want to hear from me. I love jazz, I love heady film theme songs, I love deep Sondheim; but Robbie sometimes says "Lets sing this song everyone loves" or "let's stretch you and sing some hard cool new tune by Tom Kitt or Jason Robert Brown." Robbie keeps me in tune with all the great new shows & new songs.

Funny? Hmmm. He's always funny. He says when I don't remember my lyrics, he starts taping on his iPhone for Instagram. The minute I sense a camera is rolling, he says something clicks in and my memory is perfect. My game face goes on!

Melissa Errico at Feinstein's/54 Below4. In our last interview about this show, we talked about some of the more fun times as a mother and what your secret was to a successful marriage. Since this show talks about the ins and outs of motherhood/marriage, let's go in the opposite direction and talk about the outs. What is the most challenging part about being a mother and being a wife? Um, having kids and a husband. Nuff said? Ok, add that there are only 24 hrs in one day. That's rough.

5. Every time we talk, you always have so much going on! How do you balance motherhood, marriage, and work? How do make sure you give your family the time they need when you have so much going on with your career? I sacrifice sleep. I eat anything that's fast to find. I text. I'm as organized (domestically, the dull stuff like dentist appointments and school forms) as the military. The kids come first in every way imaginable. Sleep comes last. I aim to not say that, I know that's not a long term plan.

6. Since the first part of the show's name is Funny, what is the funniest thing to have happened to you during a show of yours? I was so tired recently I forgot which arm I was using and I went to drink my microphone instead of my water glass.

Melissa Errico Family7. If you were asked to write a song called "Funny! I'm A Woman with Children," what points would you want to make sure got written into the song? Mommy knows that the best way to love you is to work on mommy. To forgive herself. To grow. To not be too hard on herself. To laugh at how we cannot control life, and to expect chaos. If you expect chaos, you cannot be too tense. And life gets vibrant and full of surprises you allow. Let your socks be mismatched. Not matching is way better style.

8. As a mother yourself, what traits of your mom do you see in your own mothering skills that have made you stop and say, "Oh my gosh, I'm becoming my mother"? She enjoyed a party.

9. Of the lessons you've taught your children, which ones do you hope they impart on their children, should they have kids of their own? That learning takes time. Every day is progress. You can't become good at anything overnight.

10. In our first interview together, we talked about our favorite Long Island hangouts as children. Now, as a grown-up, what are your favorite Long Island hangouts? I'm more East now, if I go to the island--I love the Hamptons. I even like Sunset Beach even if it's a little "euro" now, lots of Ibiza energy. My kids went to the bathroom there recently during dinner and came back after a long time. They said "sorry mom, it took so long because a guy and girl were in the bathroom TOGETHER for a while."

Melissa ErricoMore on Melissa:

Melissa Errico, Tony Award nominee, has starred on Broadway, on network Television and Film and is an accomplished recording artist and musical concert performer. This year she was seen as the character "June" on Showtime's acclaimed new drama Billions starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Last season, Melissa played the recurring role of "Catherine" on the Stephen Soderbergh show The Knick for Cinemax, and had guest arcs on Blue Bloods and The Good Wife. Her Broadway credits include starring roles in My Fair Lady, Dracula, White Christmas, High Society, Les Misérables, Anna Karenina and Amour for which she was nominated for a Best Actress Tony Award. She starred in Stephen Sondheim's Passion and Sunday in the Park with George. She has released three studio albums: Blue Like That (EMI Records) produced by Arif Mardin, Legrand Affair (Ghostlight) produced by Phil Ramone, and Lullabies & Wildflowers (VMG/Universal Records) produced by Rob Mathes; and a recent 3-song digital single More Lullabies & Wildflowers to benefit her charity. Through everything, she stays devoted to her loving family including her husband, tennis player Patrick McEnroe, their three young daughters, and one Yorkie!

Tuesday
May312016

Call Answered: Barrett Foa: NCIS: Los Angeles and "Grin and Barrett" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Barrett FoaBarrett Foa first came on my radar when I saw him replace John Tartaglia as the lead in the Tony Award winning musical Avenue Q. Since then, I've had the joy of seeing Barrett in Broadway's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Buyer and Cellar at Barrow Street Theatre. 

It's been great watching Barrett on NCIS: Los Angeles as "Eric Beale" for the past seven seasons on CBS! I'm so excited for Barrett's latest venture, during his hiatus from NCIS: Los Angeles, the New York City debut of his show Grin and Barrett, "an evening of pride, desperation, and show-offsmanship in a one-man cabaret that is sure to be…a little over an hour long!" It's a joy to get to hear Barrett Foa sing and I can't wait to see this new show!

Grin and Barrett will be playing Feinstein's/54 Below in NYC on June 3 and 7 and Feinstein's Nikko in San Francisco on June 24 and 25!

For more on Barrett be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This June you are going to be delighting audiences at Feinstien's/54 Below and Feinstein's Nikko with your brand new show Grin and Barrett. When was there a time in your life when you had to "Grin and Barrett" for something you didn't want to do? To be honest? Putting together this very show. There are these waves ​of "what are you doing, Barrett? A cabaret? That's a terrible idea. No one likes those. For God's sake, change your name, run away to Stockholm, and start your life over!" But life is about about going through the fear and living inside of something scary. That's the thrill. Grinning and bearing it out. It's the only way to grow. Eventually, you come to realize the wave of yuck is actually exactly where you want and need to be.

2. What made now the right time to bring this show to NYC? ​I'm a series regular on NCIS: Los Angeles and we shoot a whopping 24 episodes a season, making our hiatus only 2-3 months long. TV exercises different muscles than the stage, so instead of going on vacation, I love to get back to my theatrical roots. The problem is finding the right project that fits into that narrow time slot. This year, instead of waiting around for something to line up (the way Buyer & Cellar did when I stepped into that off-Broadway two summers ago), I decided to create my own evening. This way, I can book the show in other cities and stay creative throughout the year. Plus, NYC is my hometown so I get to see shows, have oodles of family dinners, and plenty of #nephewtime.

Barrett Foa performing "Grin and Barrett" in Los Angeles3. What are you looking forward to most about performing this show?  I'm pumped to feel that connection with a live audience again - that thrill of hearing, seeing, knowing that family, friends, and fans are out there supporting you. That's another thing you miss with TV acting. I'm also proud of how Grin and Barrett is fun and silly one moment, and then digs down into something a little deeper while avoiding the dreaded "cabaret confessional" territory. One of my favorite songs in the show is a James Taylor folk version of "The Beauty Is" from THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA. It's insanely lovely and I can't wait to sing it.

4. Grin and Barrett is "an evening of pride, desperation, and show-offsmanship." What, in your life, brings you the most pride? What something you are desperate for? What is one skill you show-off that you believe no one else possesses? ​Right now I'm most proud of my Dad. He is going through a lot and he is really stepping up to the plate where others would run or crumble into a ball.​

I'm desperate to get settled. I have been moving around a lot lately. I feel floaty, and that's no fun.

As for special skills, my dog, Scotch, has a circus trick that I can't even take credit for: When she pees, she lifts up both her hind legs and walks on her two front paws for about 8-10 steps. It must take insane core strength. (I'm working on this in yoga, but people are starting to look at me funny).

Barrett Foa as "Eric Beale" on CBS' "NCIS: Los Angeles"5. You have spent seven seasons on CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles. What was your favorite flub that happened to you while filming? What did you learn about your inner nerd from playing "Eric Beale"? Lately, whenever I trip over a word, I've taken to saying "5, 6, 7, 8" to get back on track. I guess it's a comfort and it brings me back to my musical theatre training. But it makes the rest of the cast laugh, especially LL Cool J. ​My character, "Eric Beale" is the resident tech geek. He's a bumbling underdog when he's nervous and yet has tons of confidence because he's so good at what he does.​ That dichotomy is fun to play and makes for some good laughs.

I'm learning that there is power in being the underdog. In not being cool. Funnily enough, I talk extensively about this phenomenon in Grin and Barrett. I'm telling you, we dive deep! This ain't your grandma's cabaret. (Sorry Nonnie - she'll be 99 in August, drinks scotch everyday - and yes, she's coming to the show).

6. Let's combine your worlds of television and theatre. If your character "Eric Beale" on NCIS: Los Angeles, were investigating "Princeton/Rod" from Avenue Q, "Leaf Coneybear" from Spelling Bee, and "Alex More" from Buyer and Cellar, what do you think their MO would be to carry out their crimes? Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick.

Renee Felice Smith and Barrett Foa on CBS' "NCIS: Los Angeles"7. What did you learn about acting from working on a TV series for so long? How do you feel this will strengthen your theatrical performances? I've learned TONS. Since we churn out so many episodes - 170 and counting - you get less precious about your work, which can be freeing.​ Your first instinct is usually best, and you learn to go with you gut. In theatre, there is time to rehearse and polish and finesse, which I love and miss terribly, but there is also something satisfying about doing it and letting it all go - the scene, the lines, the moment. Cut. We got it. Moving on!

8. What shows that are currently playing do you wish you could have auditioned for, but weren't able to because of NCIS: Los Angeles?  The men that originated these roles were all perfection, but roles currently on Broadway that I'd like to take a crack at down the line include: "King George" in HAMILTON (opening in LA in 2017. Hmmm...), "Georg" in SHE LOVES ME, "William Shakespeare" in SOMETHING ROTTEN, "Rodolfo" in A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, and "Richard" in THE HUMANS. I'm dying to do VENUS IN FUR somewhere. The female role in that play ​usually gets all the attention, but I think there is much to mine in the role of the playwright, "Thomas."

9. As an actor, what's it like to go watch a theatrical show? Can you just sit, watch, and enjoy it? Or do you always think, I'd love to do audition for this show or thank goodness, I'm on this side of the stage or I would play the role this way? The goal is to enjoy yourself and get lost in the show, and I'm proud to say that I still WANT to do that and still CAN do that. The moment that ends, I'll stop going to theatre, I'll stop being an actor, and maybe stop being a human being. How horrible to have to sit there with your arms crossed judging. A great example of this is Zachary Levi singing the title song from SHE LOVES ME. I used to sing that song for auditions all the time. I was over the moon not to be in my head thinking what I would have done better, because Zachary was so utterly charming and winsome. I was completely transported. Other transcendent moments from this season for me have been: the opening of SHE LOVES ME, that amazing new choreography in the current revival of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, the end of Act 1 on DEAR EVAN HANSEN, and most of THE HUMANS.

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day?  My voice, my ability to seek connection, my ability to trust myself.​

BONUS QUESTION:

11. You have done my friend Billy Mitchell's Villain DeBlanks a few times now. I got to perform in it once here in NYC. What did you love about performing in this scripted-improvised show? How did something like this play to your strengths? How fun and silly is that show? I love that no one (the author, the actors, the audience) has any idea what insanity is coming next, which allows for a certain freedom and abandon, and yet it's not improv. That safety net (and some alcohol) allows the actors to make a huge bold choice and just sail with it. It's incredibly freeing. Thanks, Billy!

Barrett FoaMore on Barrett:

Prior to his role on NCIS: LOS ANGELES, Barrett Foa played the lead in Avenue Q and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on Broadway, and was featured in the original Broadway cast of Mamma Mia!. Barrett starred Off-Broadway in Buyer and Cellar at Barrow Street Theatre. He also played "Jesus" in the 30th anniversary production of Godspell and can be heard on the recording. Recently, Barrett tackled the role of "Harold Hill" in The Music Man at the Connecticut Repertory Theater. He was also the first official social media correspondent for The 2013 Tony Awards on CBS, giving fans a behind-the-scenes look during rehearsals and on show day. Barrett's television credits include guest starring roles on Numb3rs and NCIS, on the Network, Entourage and The Closer. Barrett's extensive theatre credits encompass both plays and musicals at venues such as Playwrights Horizons, The Public, New York Theatre Workshop, and Ars Nova in New York City. Regionally, he has starred in productions at Paper Mill Playhouse, Bay Street Theatre, Hartford Stage and The Shakespeare Theatre Company, D.C., TheatreWorks in CA, The St. Louis Muny, North Shore Music Theatre, Weston Playhouse, and seasons at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Maine State Music Theatre and Music Theatre of Wichita. Born and raised in New York City, Barrett graduated from The Dalton School in Manhattan. He attended Interlochen Arts Camp for four summers, studied Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater Performance from The University of Michigan. In addition to his role on NCIS: LOS ANGELES, Barrett is the co-writer, producer and star in For The Record: John Hughes, a unique, live musical event in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago featuring scenes and songs from the movies of legendary '80s film director, John Hughes. The show played multiple sold out runs in LA and NYC.