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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in History (2)

Monday
May152017

Call Redialed: Marshall Pailet: Baghaddy at St. Luke's Theatre

Marshall PailetIt's so great to catch up with playwright Marshall Pailet, who I first got to interview in 2015. This time around we get talk about the remounting of his show, Baghdaddy, co-written with A.D. Penedo, a new musical based upon the true story of the Iraqi defector whose false intelligence was passed all the way through the CIA to become the justification for the Iraq War, which continues today. 

Baghdaddy plays St. Luke's Theatre (308 West 46th Street) through June 25 only. Click here for tickets!

For more on Marshall be sure to visit http://www.marshallpailet.com and follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

For more on Baghdaddy visit http://baghdaddymusical.com and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

1. It's so great to get to finally get to interview you about Baghdaddy! The show is coming back around after a sold-out run in 2015. What made now the right time to remount this show? I wish we could say we were inspired by the current state of the country, the fact that this administration's foibles and reliance on alternative facts makes our story about one of the most significant alternative facts in modern history all-too relevant. But the truth is we've been planning this production since we closed the 2015 production. It takes a long time to put these things up.

2. Let's go back to the beginning. How did you decide to write Baghdaddy? Baghdaddy was a commission from our then and current producer, Charlie Fink. Doing a show about the intelligence blunder around Curveball (Rafid Ahmed Alwan) was his idea, and it was his idea to make it a musical comedy.

Cast of "Baghdaddy"3. Baghdaddy is based upon the true story of the Iraqi defector whose false intelligence was passed all the way through the CIA to become the justification for the Iraq War, which continues today. What was it about this time in history that made you go, "This would make a great musical as opposed to a play?" Again, that was Charlie's idea. Our challenge was to find the why of it. We found the comedy in the actions of the people involved - their negligence was almost farcical. But they were grounded and real because they were motivated by such human things - wanting to be loved, respected, finally getting what they deserved. The music comes both from the comedy and the emotion - this story has both, so musical comedy felt like a perfect (if unexpected) fit.

4. After the show's initial run and prior to this one did you revise/rework the script at all? If so, what was the easiest revision to make and what was the most challenging? Yeah, for sure. Our biggest re-write came between the first version and the 2015 version - the script is almost unrecognizable from that first draft. But for the 2017 production we've made a bunch of changes - some new songs, dialogue. But the story and structure remains the same.

Cast of "Baghdaddy"5. In Baghdaddy, characters are contending with their own ambitions, rash decisions, inflexible bosses, unrequited affections and unremitting boredom, until a fax arrives from Germany, with it a golden opportunity. Let's break these down over the next few questions. When has there been a time you contended with your own ambitions? I struggle with that a lot. There's thousands of years of literature proving that when we follow our ambitions blindly, it leads to unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. I know that's true, but I still want that stuff. I've gotten better over the past couple of years - when I get jealous of a fellow artist, I admit it, say it out loud to myself, realize I sound like a douchebag, then the jealousy slips away. It's made me a calmer person.

6. What is one rash decision you made that you now wish you didn't? I dunno - I tend to game out decisions - think through all the possible outcomes to an annoying extent. I made a couple rash decisions in college (and a lot more in high school) that I wish I could take back though.

Cast of "Baghdaddy"7. Have you ever had an inflexible boss? If so, what were they most inflexible about? Honestly, I've had some pretty boss bosses. The producers and executives I've worked for have all been great. Not sucking up - I've just gotten lucky that way.

8. If you ever had unrequited affections for someone, how did you finally make yourself understand, they were just not that into you? Haha. Um, yeah. What I learned is that when it's meant to be, it's obvious for both parties. If you have to convince someone they love you, they're probably (definitely) not your soulmate.

9. How do you cure your unremitting boredom? Podcasts. And X-Box.

10. What is a golden opportunity to happened to you? The day I met my future wife. (Cue violin)

11. 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? To not need a screen in my face at all times of the day.

Marshall PailetMore on Marshall:

Marshall Pailet is a director, writer and composer for musical theater, plays, animated films, and is the proud owner of a wildly untrained, but ultimately well-meaning terrier-mix. He directed, composed, and co-wrote the Off Broadway musicals Who’s Your Baghdaddy (New York Times Critics’ Pick) and the now internationally licensed Triassic Parq (Chance ’13; Ovation Award, Best Musical; Ovation Nom, Best Director). Other Theater: Claudio Quest (Chance ’17); Loch Ness (Chance ’15; Best Musical, OC Weekly); Shrek the Halls (DreamWorks Theatricals). Film: VeggieTales: Noah’s Ark starring Wayne Brady (Original Songs). As Director Only: Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat (Adirondack Theater Festival); Wonderland (Atlantic Theater Company); EudaemoniaUncle Pirate; Stuck; The 49 Project; Thursday; With Kings in the Back; Bat Boy; Escape Artists; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He is also on faculty at Molly College, Cap 21, and the Broadway Dreams Foundation. Graduate Yale University.

Thursday
Mar302017

Call Answered: Nathan Lee Graham: The View UpStairs

Nathan Lee Graham, Photo Credit: Andrew Werner PhotographyWhile I was first introduced to Nathan Lee Graham when I saw him tear up the stage in the Tony nominated Broadway musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Nathan Lee Graham's name has been circling my view for quite some time. Everybody was talking about his talent long before I got to know it for myself.

Well, to see him in The View UpStairs is truly remarkable. Nathan Lee Graham gets everyone's attention whenever he is strutting his stuff on stage. From his fantastic acting to that golden voice he belts out night after night. His talent is like no other!

The View UpStairs is a provocative new musical that pulls you inside the UpStairs Lounge, a vibrant '70s gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The forgotten community comes to life when a young fashion designer from 2017 buys the abandoned space, setting off an exhilarating journey of seduction and self-exploration.

Currently enjoying a critically acclaimed run, The View UpStairs will play The Lynn Redgrave Theater in NYC (45 Bleecker Street), through May 21 only! Click here for tickets!

For more on Nathan Lee Graham be sure to visit http://nathanleegraham.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

For more on The View UpStairs, visit http://www.theviewupstairs.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Well I've been working professionally since I was six, and I come from a very performative family, I just decided I should get paid to do it! Also I knew instinctively that I was good at this...so my grandparents Rev. DeWitt Hulin Graham and Cecelia Pearl Whiteside Graham (love their names) really encouraged, supported and put me out there! My parents are very supportive too, but they're way too nervous for me all the time...still!

2. What made you want to be part of The View UpStairs? This an easy question to answer. Max Vernon wrote this beautiful part "Willie" for me and it happens that he also wrote and composed a brilliant book and score! I love history and bringing folks together, The View UpStairs does both of those things.

Nathan Lee Graham backstage at "The View UpStairs"Nathan Lee Graham as "Willie" in "The View UpStairs', Photo Credit: Kurt Sneddon3. What do you identify most with about your character "Willie" and what is one characteristic of his you are glad you don't have? Always seeing the positive in everything! I really do see the positive aspects of any and everything. The one thing "Willie" does that I absolutely can't do is have "alternative facts" to help him cope with life's trials and tribulations. He lies a lot, LOL, but it's for good. Nathan Lee Graham can't do that...I have to face reality head on. It makes me a better human and better performer.

4. What have you learned about gay history from being in this show that you did not know before? Well, primarily the story of these 32 dead people in New Orleans in 1973! I mean, why don't we know this story?!? Also little significant things like it was illegal to wear what seemed as "women's clothing" or that when you were "outed" they'd put your name in the paper and there went your job! Insane!

5. Why do you think this story doesn't get talked about as much as Stonewall? Easy. Shame on all fronts. The people who bared witness to this tragedy were fearful and shamed into not talking about it....understandably so, to a degree. And the people who watched or whom were in a place of authority didn't give a damn.

Nathan Lee Graham as "Willie" in "The View UpStairs", Photo Credit: Kurt SneddonJeremy Pope, Taylor Frey, Nathan Lee Graham in "The View UpStairs", Photo Credit: Kurt Sneddon6. The View Upstairs shows you how the past can help guide us through an uncertain future. What is something in your past that has helped guide you through your future? Dealing and not dwelling with loss. I have a very small family so when someone dies it's a lot. Also all of the people that I've lost to disease in my chosen family of gypsies and the like. How I've been able to cope and not become bitter has informed how I go about my life in a very significant way.

7. The View Upstairs also examines what has been gained in lost in the fight for equality. What have you gained, but then lost as a result of the move forward from said gain? Well I've gained a true identity from this struggle of equality. Of course those who are not as strong or inclined you lose along the way, so mine is a somewhat lonely life at times but so fulfilling and I wouldn't change anything.

8. If you were to open a lounge like in the The View Upstairs, what would you name it and where would you establish it? "Willie's Corner" on the Lower East Side baby!!

9. I saw The View Upstairs a few weeks ago and can tell just how much fun everyone is having. What is one of the funniest, most impromptu things to happen during a show thus far? Me as "Willie" suddenly deciding to put my leg on top of the piano during my soliloquy...LOL, I just did it once spontaneously and it stuck!

Nathan Lee Graham, Jeremy Pope, Taylor Frey, Frenchie Davis, Benjamin Howes, Nancy Ticotin, Michael Longoria, and Randy Redd, Photo Credit: Kurt SneddonJeremy Pope, Nancy Ticotin, Nathan Lee Graham, and Benjamin Howes, Photo Credit: Kurt Sneddon10. In addition to The View Upstairs, you have starred in other gay-themed shows Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Hit The Wall. As a gay man, do you feel or approach these projects differently or with a other feelings compared to non-gay themed shows? No. I always feel I have a responsibility to do my very best whatever the role or genre. My only requirement is great material.

11. 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 reaction to people not getting things as quickly as I do, i.e. some more patience, some more compassion before I tear into them...LOL.

12. I can't do an interview with you and not ask you about Zoolander, or at least I'm going to ask a question inspired by the film. Since Zoolander takes place in the fashion world. What is one of the worst costumes you have ever had to wear? What is one costume, you were like, "How can I keep this for myself?" I had to wear an ape inspired costume in a musical called Riverview by John Logan, directed by Robert Falls, choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and starring Marin Mazzie, my dear friend. At the Goodman Theatre in Chicago fresh out of conservatory I was...so happy but that costume was not cute! Now I had a fabulous burgundy plaid double-breasted bespoke suit for the Opening sequence of The Wild Party on Broadway, thank you. Toni-Leslie James, that was lovely! But to be honest, I've had so many wonderful costumes over the years it's hard to keep track...I have a very special relationship with costume designers. I love what they do and they complete every character I've played on stage and screen. Hat's off to Anita Yavich for The View UpStairs!!

Nathan Lee Graham, Photo Credit: Andrew Werner PhotographyMore on Nathan Lee Graham:

Nathan Lee Graham is an American cabaret artist, stage, television and film actor, singer, writer and director. His roles in feature film include "Todd" in Zoolander and Zoolander 2, "Frederick Montana" in Sweet Home Alabama and "Geoff" in Hitch. He has appeared in independent films like Confessions of an Action StarBad Actress and Trophy Kids. On the small screen he originated the role of "Peter" in The Comeback, and had guest starring roles on ScrubsAbsolutely Fabulous and Law & Order: SVU. His stage appearances include "Phil D'Armano" in the original Broadway cast of the Tony and Grammy Award nominated The Wild Party and as "Miss Understanding" in the original Broadway cast of the Tony nominated Priscilla Queen of the Desert. He received a Drama League Award nomination for the role of "Rey Rey" in the off-Broadway production of Wig Out! and won an Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Feature Performer in a Musical in The Wild Party LA Premiere in 2006. More recently, he has appeared in the role of "Carson" in Hit the Wall at the Barrow Street Theatre. He earned a 2005 Best Classical Album Grammy Award for Songs of Innocence and of Experience as a soloist. Nathan Lee Graham is a graduate of Webster University in St. Louis, MO.