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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Feinstein's 54 Below (18)

Friday
Jul212017

Call Answered: Liz Callaway Facetime Interview: "The Beat Goes On" at Feinstein's/54 Below

I had so much fun getting to "Journey to the Past" with Tony nominee & Emmy Award winning actress Liz Callaway. We discuss her upcoming concert at Feinstein's/54 Below, The Beat Goes On, delving into one of Liz's favorite decades of music.  

As an added bonus, not only did we get to do this video interview, but a few weeks ago, Liz & I got to talk on the phone about this show. Below the video interview is a further discussion about The Beat Goes On, which includes learning about Liz through some of the songs she'll be performing in this concert plus an exclusive story about Liz's time in Cats as "Grizabella" that she has never revealed in previous interviews.

The Beat Goes On, features pop hits of the era, music from Broadway and the movies, plus songs from her iconic album of the same name. The Beat Goes On will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) from July 25, 28-29 & September 10. Click here for tickets!

For more on Liz be sure to visit http://www.lizcallaway.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit https://54below.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, & Instagram!

Call Me Adam & Liz Callaway Video Interview:

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I think my story is very typical of actors who gravitate towards theatre for that family feeling in some ways. As a kid, I was really shy about singing, so I didn't begin peforming until high school. During my sophomore year, my parents got divorced and I know being in the chorus of the show I was in, at that time, is what saved me because I suddenly had friends and sense of community. I thought, "Oh, if I'm a performer, I can have that feeling," so that's what got me going.  

2. This July you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with your new show The Beat Goes On. What are you looking forward to most about performing this show? I love the music of the ‘60s, and I’m so looking forward to sharing my favorite songs (with my own special spin)) with the great Feinstein’s/54 Below audiences.

Liz Callaway3. In this concert, you are performing songs from the 1960s. What is it about the music of that time, that made you want to present an evening of music from that decade? This is the music that I grew up listening to; the soundtrack of my childhood, and I’ve always had an affinity for it. So much so that in 2001 I recorded an album of my favorite songs of the ‘60s called The Beat Goes On

A couple of months ago I was having coffee while reading the newspaper and it occurred to me that everything going on in the world right now, and our reaction to it, is very similar to what was happening in the '60s, at least of what I remember of it. There's lots of new activism. Lots of country coming together/being divided. I thought it would be a good time to revisit some of these songs because I think my song choices or interpretations of some of these songs might be a little different now considering the state of the world. Plus, there's something really fun about singing '60s music in the summer as an escape. 

4. What do you think will surprise fans about this show? I hope people will say "I never really heard those lyrics before, until tonight."

5a. Since this show is titled The Beat Goes On, I'm going to divide this question into two parts. First, When you have to perform and you are feeling down or low energy, how do find the strength so "The Beat Goes On"? Strong coffee (laughs). Seriously, that's never a problem. I get a burst of adrenaline when I sing for an audience because my audience inspires me. They always lift me up. 

Liz Callaway5b. Secondly, you have been performing in this business for over 30 years. How does Liz Callaway keep things fresh to allow "The Beat To Go On"? I think singing is story-telling. I always look to tell the story and there are so many different ways to do that. I look at my songs, write out all my lyrics in prose form and then I look at what story I'm telling and take it from there. Plus, I'm always looking for new challenges, particularly now, I'm more inspired to take them than say five years ago.

6. In addition to the pop hits of the 1960s & tunes from Broadway and film, you will be doing a few selections from your album The Beat Goes On, which is actually many of these songs I describe. For the next few questions, we're going to play with the titles of some of my favorites from that album. On The Beat Goes On, you sing the John Lennon/Paul McCartney song "When I'm Sixty-Four." What do you think your life will look when you are 64? I hope I'm doing what I'm doing now as well as appearing on Broadway.

Patrick Duffy as "Bobby Ewing" on CBS' "Dallas"7. You also sing Brian Wilson, Tony Asher, and Mike Love's "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Finish this sentence, "Wouldn't It Be Nice if...." Do you remember that episode of Dallas when "Pam" (Victoria Principal) wakes up from her dream and finds "Bobby" (Patrick Duffy) alive in the shower and we learn he didn't die? So, I say, "Wouldn't it be nice if who our President is and all that is happening in our country right now could just be a dream."

8. Finally, there's Tony Hatch's "Downtown." What are some of your favorite things to do both in downtown NYC and uptown? I love Chelsea Market, the market at Union Square, Central Park. I just love to walk around the city and find a great coffee bar. I'm always checking out what the new coffee place in town is to try, which also ties in to helping me when I'm tired (laughs). I love NY and it's a great place to discover things on foot.

Liz Callaway as "Grizabella" in Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Cats"9. I have to switch gears for a second & ask you about your time in Cats as "Grizabella." What is one story about your time in Cats as "Grizabella" that you have not told in a previous interview? Gosh, now that's tough! Here's one I don't think I've told. I remember coming downstairs for the bows and as I was waiting in the wings, and suddenly I heard my entrance music to come on to sing "Memory" and I realized the show wasn't over yet. In my head, I was like "Oh. My. God." (laughs).

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? That's a great question and such a good thing you are doing. I love the idea of doing just a little bit every day because then you find, over time, that you actually made a lot of progress. 

There's a lot of things I'd like to improve. I'd like to be more physically active every day. I'm a big tennis player, but because of my schedule and different things going on, I don't play like I used to. I think it's so important to be physically active in addition to eating healthily. I'd like to be more active as well as more still & quiet to balance things out. When you're quiet that's when you can be creative & get your ideas. I'm also trying to be less tethered to being online & on my phone. 

Preview of Liz Callaway singing "Leaving On A Jet Plane" from her upcoming show The Beat Goes On at Feinstein's/54 Below July 25-29 & September 10 all at 7pm:

Liz CallawayMore on Liz:

Liz Callaway is a Tony nominee and Emmy Award-winning actress, singer and recording artist. She made her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Baby, and for five years, won acclaim as "Grizabella" in Cats. She has also starred in the original casts of Miss Saigon, The Three Musketeers, and The Look of Love. In addition, Liz has established a major career as a concert and recording artist.

Off-Broadway she received a Drama Desk nomination for her performance in The Spitfire Grill (Playwrights Horizons), and also appeared in Brownstone (Roundabout), No Way to Treat a LadyMarry Me a Little, and Godspell. Other New York appearances include the legendary Follies in Concert at Lincoln Center, A Stephen Sondheim EveningFiorello! (Encores!), and Hair in Concert. Regionally, she starred as Venus in the Chicago Ovations! production of One Touch of Venus, in Elegies at Reprise! in Los Angeles, and Fascinating Rhythm at Hartford Stage. She also played "Norma Desmond" in Sunset Boulevard at Pittsburgh CLO.

Liz sang the Academy Award nominated song "Journey to the Past" in the animated feature Anastasia and is also the singing voice of "Princess Jasmine" in Disney’s Aladdin and the King of Thieves and The Return of Jafar. Other film work includes the singing voice of the title character in The Swan PrincessThe Lion King 2: Simba’s PrideBeauty and the BeastLyle, Lyle the Crocodile and The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars.

She received an Emmy Award for hosting Ready to Go, a daily, live children’s program on CBS in Boston.  Other TV credits include In Performance at the White HouseInside the Actor’s Studio: Stephen SondheimChristmas with the Boston PopsThe David Letterman Show, and Senior Trip (CBS Movie of the Week).

Liz has released six solo recordings: Passage of TimeThe Beat Goes OnThe Story Goes On: Liz Callaway On and Off-BroadwayAnywhere I Wander: Liz Callaway Sings Frank LoesserMerry and Bright and her newest album The Essential Liz Callaway. Her numerous other recordings include Sibling Revelry, Boom! Live at BirdlandThe Maury Yeston SongbookDreaming Wide Awake: The Music of Scott AlanA Stephen Sondheim EveningHair in Concert, the original cast album of A Christmas Story and the complete recording of Allegro produced by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization.

Wednesday
Jun072017

Call Answered: Robbie Rozelle: "Songs From Inside My Locker" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Robbie RozelleFor many people, high school sucks. It was some of the worst years of my life from the teasing to my head being hit into a metal poll in the gym locker room, I couldn't wait to get out of dodge. The best part about adulthood is looking back to see how far you've come and for Robbie Rozelle, he has come a long way! He has directed & written or co-written sold-out shows for Tony nominees Kate Baldwin (Finian's Rainbow) & Melissa Errico (Amour), Elena Shaddow (The Visit), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Women on the Verge), RuPaul's Drag Race season 7 contestant Mrs. Kasha Davis and frequent collaborator Jessica Vosk ("Elephaba" on the Wicked tour), and this September 9, Robbie will be directing my comedic cabaret debut called Dates of Discontent at The Laurie Beechman Theatre!

But before that happens, Robbie will be making his solo cabaret debut with Songs From Inside My Locker this Friday, June 9 at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street) at 9:30pm! Wandering his high school hallways, Robbie would often find himself shoved in a locker for singing from The Rink too loudly. With his signature wit and style, Robbie grabs the tiger by the tail in a hilarious romp of the songs that got him through a blistering high school experience, featuring a treasure trove of songs ranging from Kander & Ebb to Carrie. Songs From Inside My Locker is the balm to the chaos of these crazy times. Click here for tickets!

For more on Robbie be sure to visit https://www.robbierozelle.com and follow him @divarobbie on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Robbie Rozelle, Photo Credit: Dianna Bush Photography1. This June you are making your debut solo show at Feinstein's/54 Below with Songs From Inside My Locker. After directing shows for Jessica Vosk, Melissa Errico, Kate Baldwin and Nikka Graff Lanzarone, what made now the right time to make your solo debut? It seems that the shows I wrote/co-wrote for them (in addition to directing) all had my fingerprints on them, specifically the jokes. After this past election, I just decided that I wasn’t going to let anything scare me, including getting up in front of a crowded room of 150 people, who have all paid a great deal to get in, and sing 15 songs.

2. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Honestly, it was seeing all those movie musicals – The Wizard of Oz had a profound effect on me. I miss those yearly airings where you gathered with your family around the TV for an event. I guess the closest things to that now are the live musicals like The Wiz and Grease. And with social media, the family has grown rather large.

3. Your musical direction is by Josh D. Smith. As a director/writer yourself, do you find it difficult to let someone else direct your own show? Do you ever try to give your "director" input? I’ve known Josh for over 20 years. He’s just so wonderful. He’s also taken my rudimentary ideas and made them real things – that’s really great since I don’t read music. I wrote and directed the thing myself, but his input is invaluable. Wait until you hear his incredible arrangements!

4. This show is called Songs From Inside My Locker. What songs would we find in high school Robbie's locker and what songs would we find in adult Robbie of today? High school was a weird time for me – I sang a lot of hybrids of movie musicals (The Sound of MusicFunny GirlThe Wizard of Oz) and the popular musicals of the time were Phantom of the Opera and Les Miz. The first two cassette tapes I ever bought were Dionne Warwick’s Greatest Hits (1972-1990), because "That’s What Friends Are For" was the first song, and the Beaches soundtrack, for the obvious reasons.

Nowadays, I listen to mostly show tunes (both for my job and because I love them), a lot of Ella Fitzgerald, and a lot of acoustic pop like Jason Mraz. Shout-out to whoever created the "Acoustic Covers" and "Your Favorite Coffeehouse" playlists on Spotify, because that gets a lot of love in my house.

Robbie Rozelle, Photo Credit: Dianna Bush Photography5. You describe Songs From Inside My Locker as being the balm to the chaos of wandering your high school hallways, and finding yourself often shoved in a locker for singing from The Rink too loudly. Let's see how well you did in math...If there are 4 years in high school, 180 days in the school year, 5 days in the week, and 8 hours in the day, how many times do you think you were shoved in a locker during your high school years? I…was terrible in math. Legitimately terrible. Also, I had three lockers (my main one, my choir one, and gym), so suffice it to say, I was in one more than I was in a classroom.

6. Why did you want this show about this particular time in your life, be your debut show? I really loathe the cabaret trope of "I moved to NYC to become an actress, and had my heart broken," so I needed to find a hook for it. I think the answer became clearer when I realized that the high school bully was in the highest office in the land. So I just want to have a joy explosion all over Feinstein’s/54 Below of all the songs I was bullied for singing, with people paying a lot of money for the privilege.

7. Being so far (you're welcome for hinting at your age) out of high school, what was it like to go back to this time in your life now? Did old emotions come up? What did you learn about yourself from writing this show that you didi not know about yourself going through this rough time? Looking at that time of my life through the prism of time, it’s a bit weird. I was looking at some old photos, and there I am in overalls with one strap hanging, and bad mushroom haircuts, and thinking "man, I was so skinny!" I’ve always had the gift of bounce and laughter, so while things really sucked in high school, I’m able to laugh at most of it. Weirdly, since this show was announced, a lot of my high school peeps (some I don’t even remember) have reached out – some to apologize for their high school behavior, some to congratulate me about the show, some to say they would be there. I was openly gay in high school, in a pre-Ellen, pre-Will & Grace era, so I realize that my visibility was really important. That knowledge has had a profound impact on me.

Robbie Rozelle8. While writing this show, what part made you cry? What part made laugh? What part made you go, "I'm so much stronger now"? My first day of high school, four seniors grabbed me, wrapped me in the mat that was in front of the main doors, and dropped me next to the dumpster. I was all of maybe 130 pounds. That was terrifying, but it also told me that I better pull myself up by my bootstraps, because it wasn’t going to be amazing all the time. But I also gravitated to a group of senior girls, who took me under their wing and took care of me. Those ladies made sure that I wasn’t thoroughly terrorized. They were probably my first audience, people who would laugh at my jokes, and became my tribe. I have no doubt in my mind that I would not be alive but for those strong women and the musical theatre. So, that’s the dark. But with dark stuff, there’s light, right? Someone asked me what I would tell 16 year old me, and I gotta say, I’d tell him to do exactly the same thing. I’m just fine. I’m doing things I love with people I love, and I can’t think of honestly anything better (except maybe a woman President).

9. Besides this hilarious romp through high school, what other romps have these songs you are presenting accompanied you through? Literally every thing in my life. They were my playlist to accompany my life from start to finish. We have a Charles Nelson Reilly/Paul Lynde medley in the show, because those guys were my heroes – quippy funny men who weren’t ashamed of who they were.

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? I’d love to give up carbonated beverages and biting my nails. I don’t know how to do that by one percent daily, but that’s the goal! (Told you I was terrible at math!)

Robbie Rozelle, Photo Credit: Kate Lumpkin More on Robbie:

Robbie Rozelle does jokes. He has also directed and written or co-written sold-out cabaret shows for Tony Award nominee Melissa Errico (Amour), Tony nominee Kate Baldwin (Finian's Rainbow), Elena Shaddow (The Visit), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Women on the Verge), Steven Ferezy, Jonathan Demar, Rachel Levy, RuPaul's Drag Race season 7 contestant Mrs. Kasha Davis and frequent collaborator Jessica Vosk ("Elephaba" on the Wicked tour).

As a former actor who once played "Charlie Brown" and "Dr. Frank 'n' Furter" in the same year, Robbie is the recipient of the NEPTA award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his tongue-twisting turn as "Trevor Grayden" in Thoroughly Modern Millie. He has also appeared in Sondheimas at 54 Below and several shows at The Duplex. He co-produced the album Cynthia Erivo and Oliver Tompsett Sing Scott Alan [Deluxe Edition], executive produced Astoria Boulevard's debut album and was an associate producer of Jonathan Reid Gealt's Whatever I Want It To Be. Robbie is a Grammy voting member. For three years, Robbie served as the graphic designer and creative director for Playbill, culminating in the design he is most proud of, the branding of #PlaybillPride, a 30-day initiative of the LGBT movement in the theatre that included a redesign of their historic logo for the month of June 2014. Playbill Pride returned for a second year in 2015, where Robbie art directed the magazine. Playbill Pride returned again in 2016, again with Robbie's work. He currently serves as the in-house designer for Grammy-winning record label Broadway Records, where he designed the iconic "What the World Needs Now is Love" in response to Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. He also runs Ghostlight Design. When not designing, he can usually be found tweeting jokes and random musings at @divarobbie.

 

Thursday
May112017

Call Answered: Haley Swindal: "Golden Girl" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Lance RaeI'm so glad Will Nunziata introduced me to Broadway powerhouse Haley Swindal. Her vocals are unreal and I can already tell she's going to blow the roof off of Feinstein's/54 Below when she returns with her new show Golden Girl.

Golden Girl is a brand-new concert event celebrating the music of an era that her heart and soul were born in – The Golden Age. With influences ranging from Rosemary Clooney to Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, Haley puts her own stamp on songs that made these great dames stars. Haley will knock-out-of-the-park standards such as "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Don’t Rain on My Parade," and "Cry Me A River," all with fresh arrangements by musical director to the stars Tedd Firth (Michael Feinstein, Ana Gasteyer, Brian Stokes Mitchell). Conceived and directed by Will Nunziata (concert director for Tony Award winner Lillias White), this is an evening that will have you laughing, crying, and tapping your feet all within a matter of minutes, and a true showbiz event where a brand-new star is born.

Golden Girl plays Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Tuesday, May 30 at 7pm and Tuesday, June 6 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets! 

For more on Haley be sure to follow her on Twitter!

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

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Takako Suki Harkness1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer (other than Rosemary Clooney, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand)? Singing was always in me. From the time I could walk, I was singing down the halls and driving my parents crazy. It was never a choice for me - it was in my blood, which is very funny because no one else in my immediate family is in the arts at all! I used to stand at the top of the stairs in our house and pretend to be "Eva Peron." My brother thought I was nuts (he still does). When I was about eight years old, I remember my mom took me to see a production of Hello Dolly with Carol Channing, and I remember thinking, WOW, I want to do that!

2. This May/June you return to Feinstein's/54 Below with your brand-new show Golden Girl, celebrating the music of an era that her heart and soul were born in – The Golden Age. What are you looking forward to about coming back to Feinstein's/54 Below? I always said I only want to come back with these shows when I have something to add, something to share, a story to tell. The two times I have played here have marked major events in my life: my Broadway debut for the first one, and getting married the second one. Those first shows were similar, but were both kind of about where I came from and what its taught me.

This show is something entirely different. First of all, not only have I done a lot more great roles, I have more importantly lived a lot more of life. I am married to an amazing guy, and I'm a stepmom to two awesome teenagers. I also have a new boss, who is eleven months old, my amazing daughter - Lily George Tantleff.

This show is really a concert meets one-woman show. I do everything from singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" as Judy, Liza, Patti, Billie Burke, and Bernadette Peters to stripping down to the bottom of my soul with some amazing torch songs.

I am thrilled to be back because this is a whole new side of me, a whole new journey, and I hope one that might surprise and excite people.

Director Will Nunziata3. Golden Girl is directed by Will Nunziata. Will, primarily known as a singer with his brother Anthony Nunziata, has been making quite a name for himself as a director over the past several years. What was it about Will's style/vision that made you say, "He is whom I want to direct my show."? Will has been on my radar for a very long time. We first met in Michael Feinstein's apartment about four years ago, where Michael had a bunch of young folks over to talk about the future of the Great American Songbook and how the torch would be passed to our generation.

I followed him as he created amazing shows for Cady Huffman, Lillias White, and other incredible divas. It was Will that came up with the vision for this show. His concepts and his ideas are brilliant. The way he is able to bring out things in me and get me to burst out of my comfort zone is unreal. He gravitates I think towards strong women - women who can't really be put in any particular kind of stereotypical, run of the mill box. He takes their strength and what makes them unique and turns it into something brilliant. His concepts, his vision, and his ability to communicate, nurture, and bring out the best in those he directs is incredible. He is and will continue to be one of the greatest directors of our generation.

Haley Swindal4. What is about this time in music that makes your heart a flutter? I often sit around and wonder, what will our generation be listening to when they are eighty? The generation ahead of us has the Beatles, Carole King, Carly Simon. When we were younger, we had Whitney, Celine. But will this generation be turning on Britney Spears? Eminem? Single Ladies? 

What I love about the Great American Songbook is so many songs are literally transcendent of time. How many of us have been madly in love and connected to the lyrics of "Night and Day," "Whether near to me or far, it's no matter darling where you, are I think of you." How many of us have been heartbroken and can relate to Frank Sinatra alone in a bar at 3AM singing "One for My Baby," "It's quarter to three, There's no one in the place 'cept you and me, So set 'em' up Joe."

I fell in love with my husband when he sang, "I only have eyes for you" badly (but endearingly) in my ear. These songs are masterpieces that capture the complexity of love and what it is to be human. As I grow older, I connect with them even more.

5. According to press notes, Rosemary Clooney, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand were some of your influences. What was it about these entertainers that made you go, "Yes! I want to be like them."? Judy Garland always said "Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else." What I think I loved - and continue to love - about these women besides their other-wordly vocals is that they were/are originals. They were unabashedly and unapologetically themselves. Their sound was distinctive, the way they approached their art was distinctive, and what they have given us is something no one else can ever come to close to because it is so uniquely them.

Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, Cady Huffman, and Bernadette Peters are some of these women on the Broadway stage. 

The women I admire can transform themselves into incredible roles onstage, but, as human beings, they are unapologetically strong, which isn't always easy as a woman in this business. Onstage, they can be heartbreakingly vulnerable. It's an amazing duality, to be strong and vulnerable at the same time, and one that I admire. I think, so much of this business is how we fit. Fit someone else's vision, fit someone else's vocal styles, even fit someone else's costume. These women somehow transcend that. As for me, I guess I've just grown tired of trying to fit into a box. I'm a brassy blonde broad who has packed a lot of life into my first thirty years. That's my truth.

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff6. What songs that you are performing do you think will surprise people to hear from you? There's one where I'm lying on a piano....

7. A few songs you will be performing are "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Don’t Rain on My Parade," and "Cry Me A River." Let's play with these song titles. When have you said to yourself, "Come Rain or Come Shine," I'm going to do this? HA! For better or for worse, all the time! "Come Rain or Come Shine," I guess probably in my love life in the past. Wanting so desperately to be loved, perhaps by someone incapable of loving...but trying to convince them.

"Cry Me a River" is realizing I'm going to be okay whether or not this person loves me. That the only person I need to live and be fulfilled is me.

"Don't Rain On My Parade" is a celebration of what it means to spill out everything you have, no matter what the cost might be, because you don't want to spend the rest of your life wondering "what if?" To me, this applies to choosing to creae solo shows, and challenging myself, and also following my heart in other ways.

8. When did you think, oh please, "Don't Rain on My Parade"? HA that was Will. I was thrilled. At first, I thought, really? But, then I realized why not, it's my truth? It's part of a medley, which I think has a really neat arc.

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: The New York Times9. What event has caused you to cry like a river? I think the sadness of that song is realizing that sometimes love is not enough. The tragedy of still being madly in love with someone but the strength to put your well-being first and not allow that person to destroy you. I was there once. It took a long while, but I figured it out, and my life is richer for it. And I can sing one hell of a torch song!

10. Since this show is celebrating The Golden Age, what, age or age bracket has been your "Golden Age" so far? Why has it been so rich? Oh my goodness, NOW! I am just entering my thirties, young enough to still know what's fun, and old enough to know better. Just kidding! Undoubtedly though, meeting and marrying my husband and becoming a mother changed everything for me. I remember leaving my first Broadway performance and crying when I got home because I had been so tunnel-visioned that I had no one to share it with. Any part of my life other than work was completely absent. That changed. My daughter is the most amazing thing that ever happened to me and has put everything else in perspective. If I don't get anything else right in this life, I somehow built a perfect little human, and, to me, that alone is enough! 

11. I know the show's title, "Golden Girl," is for the Golden Age of music, but we are going to take this to the Golden Girls themselves. If you had to describe yourself as one of the Golden Girls who would you be? I'm still obsessed with that show! My best friend and I used to spend all weekend watching Golden Girls marathons (she's "Sophia" re-incarnated!) As for me, I look at the world through "Rose"-colored glasses for sure, but I definitely am flirty and fun like "Blanche."

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Takako Suki HarknessMore on Haley:

Haley has appeared on Broadway and on tour with Jekyll and HydeWhite ChristmasJesus Christ Superstar opposite Ted Neeley, and at Lincoln Center in The Secret Garden. She has performed in concert at Carnegie Hall alongside the great standards vocalist Steve Tyrell, acclaimed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, and under the baton of Steven Reineke with the New York Pops. She won a New York Emmy for her appearance on Kids on Deck and recently appeared in the film Walt Before Mickey.

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.