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Entries in John Bucchino (2)


Call Answered: Conference Call: Austin Pendleton & Barbara Bleier: "Beautiful Mistake" at Pangea

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at PangeaWhen I found out that Austin Pendleton & Barbara Bleier were doing a new cabaret show together, entitled Beautiful Mistake: The Songs of John Bucchino and Amanda McBroom, I was delighted they answered my call! 

Beautiful Mistake is an evening of story songs including unpublished work from McBroom and Bucchino, as well as some known songs including McBroom/Hunt/McBroom’s "Errol Flynn" (an NPR feature pick for Songs We Love), and Bucchino’s "If I Ever Say I’m Over You" recorded by Art Garfunkel on Grateful: The Songs of John Bucchino.

Beautiful Mistake has two shows left, May 18 &  May 23 at 7pm at Pangea (178 2nd Avenue). Click here for tickets!

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at Pangea, Photo Credit: Theater Pizzazz1. Who or what inspired you to be a performer?

Austin Pendleton: When I was a kid my mother got involved with a community theatre that was being developed in Warren, Ohio, our hometown. The early rehearsals were in our living room, evenings, after dinner. My brother Alec and I would sneak down, after we were supposed to be in bed and watch these rehearsals. I was hooked.

Barbara Bleier: I can’t even remember far enough back! I’ve always been a performer. I learned to read music before I learned to read words, and I was reading words at four years old. My mother was a pianist, and there was always music in my house…music of all kinds; classical, show tunes, popular songs. My mother played, and my sister and I sang. My father was our audience. I started picking out tunes on the piano, and began piano lessons before I was four. I loved playing the piano, and played concerts from the time I was four, but I loved singing even more. I was always the vocal soloist for the assemblies and programs in my grade school, PS89, and was the singer for the jazz band at the High School of Music & Art (now LaGuardia).

2. How did you two first come to meet? How long after you met did you go, "We should do cabaret together"?

Austin Pendleton: Barbara wanted me to coach her on some acting material. Then Barbara joined my acting class at HB Studio, here in New York. Then Barbara asked me to do a cabaret with her, in, like, 2000.  The rest is what I like to think of as history.

Barbara Bleier: That wasn’t exactly how it happened. It was kind of, "I proposed to him!" I was studying acting with Austin at HB Studio. I was also doing cabaret…in fact, I had been a Fellow at the Eugene O’Neill Cabaret Symposium in 1992…and had been doing cabaret before and after that. I had started studying acting, because the songs that I preferred singing were story songs, and I thought that studying acting would help me get the most out of them. (I also, at that time, started performing as an actor). So, I was taking a class in the late 90’s with Austin, and had a cabaret gig coming up. There was a duet by Dick Maltby and David Shire called "There" that I was aching to sing, and I needed a male partner. I knew, of course, that Austin was a singer, and I asked him if he’d like to do that song with me in the show. His answer was, "You’re offering me one song?" I said, "Would you like half a show?," and the rest is history. We performed our first cabaret, Undecided in New York and Chicago, and had a great time with it! We also got some really good notices. "There" has been in every show we’ve done since, except the present one.

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at Pangea, Photo Credit: Theater Pizzazz3. What do you love about working with each other?

Austin Pendleton: Barbara actually listens to me. This leads me to actually listen to her.

Barbara Bleier: Well, first of all, I LOVE Austin, so that’s a good beginning. He’s not a "straight line" thinker; he kind of comes in from the side, and I love that! We always seem to be on the same page, or following one another’s crazy thoughts, or awakening one another to something. There is, honestly, no one I’d rather work with.

4. Has there ever been a time when you both were really excited to duet on a song, but then disagree on how it should be executed, and, if so, who won?

Austin Pendleton: I have a sneaking suspicion that Barbara always wins these.

Barbara Bleier: I know it sounds crazy, but that’s never really happened. At least, I don’t think it’s happened. Austin may feel differently! It’s more of a "free association" process. We start singing the song, then one of us gets an idea, and we try it, and that leads to another idea that we try. It kind of evolves.

5. What excites you about your new show Beautiful Mistake?

Austin Pendleton: To enter the world of John Bucchino and Amanda McBroom is precisely as exciting as falling down the rabbit hole.

Barbara Bleier: My idea of heaven would be to spend eternity singing John’s and Amanda’s music! And, there are trunks full of it!!! Their lyrics always seem to say what I want to be saying, and their music is so incredible, in such different ways. John’s has a baroque quality, to me…I fell in love with him for his chords. Amanda’s is more romantic, and both of them often play against the lyric, which is wonderful to perform as an actor and musician. Both can be ironic and humorous, in just the ways I Iove. I guess this also answers your question.

6. This new show is called "Beautiful Mistake." What is one "Beautiful Mistake" you have made? (meaning, you made a mistake with something, but it turned out to be a good thing). 

Austin Pendleton: Many things in my life have been beautiful mistakes that turned into a good thing. Then there are the mistakes that are not beautiful and do not turn out to be a good thing. Then there are the mistakes that are not beautiful but still turn out to be a good thing. On such occasions I confess to a certain confusion.

Barbara Bleier:  Oh, so many. It’s not the mistakes you make, it’s what you do with them, what you learn, how they take your life in a different direction. One example I can think of, as a divorced mother whose children were quite young at the time…the marriage was a mistake, but my two wonderful sons sure weren’t!

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at Pangea, Photo Credit: Theater Pizzazz7. What is a story about one of John or Amanda’s songs that is not in the show that really hit you hard?

Austin Pendleton: The songs of Amanda's and John's that hit me the hardest are in the show. The other songs of Amanda's and John's that hit me the hardest will be in the next show.

Barbara Bleier: John’s song, "Not A Cloud In The Sky," which deals with someone trying to handle the death of a loved one by dissociating the possibility of their death; taking control by being obsessive compulsive about little things, because if they let any emotion through they would crumble. I lost my sister (also a musician) five years ago, and that was my way of trying to keep control and be strong for her, and for myself.

8. If you could sing a quartet with John and Amanda, which song of theirs would you pick?

Austin Pendleton: "That Smile." I defy Mozart to top "That Smile."

Barbara Bleier: Well, the only one that they wrote together was "Beautiful Mistake," which I can’t quite wrap my mind around as a quartet, so I'll pick one for each? It would be "Coney Island" (A Catered Affair) for John, and Amanda’s song "Old Love," which Amanda wrote with the wonderful Michele Brourman.

Austin PendletonMore on Austin:

Austin Pendleton is an actor, director, playwright and teacher of acting, whose most recent stage appearance was as the "King" in Lear at The Secret Theatre, a critically lauded run that just ended in early April. Austin's first Broadway appearance was as "Motel the Tailor" in the original production of Fiddler on the Roof directed by Jerome Robbins and starring Zero Mostel. He has since appeared frequently on, off and off-off Broadway, and can be seen in approximately 200 films. His many TV appearances include roles on Oz, Homicide, Law and Order and Billions. In New York, he has directed Between Riverside and Crazy and four shows at CSC (Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, Ivanov and Hamlet) featuring such players as Peter Sarsgaard (Hamlet), Maggie Gyllenhall and Ethan Hawke. Austin is the author of three plays (Orson's Shadow, Uncle Bob, Booth) all produced in New York, and, in the case of Uncle Bob and Orson's Shadow, internationally. He has most recently directed Luft Gangster for Nylon Fusion Theatre Company & Cloverleaf Collective, A Day at the Beach for the Mint Theatre Company, and A Taste of Honey for the Pearl Theatre. He teaches acting in New York at HB Studio, where he studied with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof. He also studied acting with Robert Lewis.

Barbara BleierMore on Barbara:

Barbara Bleier is a singer, actor and playwright who has appeared on stage, in film, and on TV, as well as in solo shows and revues in national and international cabaret. She played the mother of a psychopathic killer in the cult classic, Swoon, and appeared in the film This is Where I Leave You, with Jane Fonda and Tina Fey, and in They Came Together, with Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler. Her solo show, Who’s Your Mama? was selected for production in the NYC Women at Work Festival, and her two-person revues with Austin Pendleton, Late Nights in Smoky Bars (New York, Chicago and Philadelphia) and ‘Tis the Season to Be Morbid, received critical praise in the press. She has studied acting with Austin Pendleton, singing with Barbara Maier, and musical performance with the late Julie Wilson at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center.


Call Answered: Conference Call with David Campbell and John Bucchino: David Campbell Sings John Bucchino

David Campbell and John Bucchino"Call Me Adam" chats with David Campbell and John Bucchino about their new CD, David Campbell sings John Bucchino. Accompanied by Bucchino on piano Campbell tackles 11 of the composer’s compositions including "Taking The Wheel" and "Grateful" which appeared on earlier Campbell albums but are recorded here anew with Bucchino for the first time. Also featured is "Better Than I" which Bucchino composed for the Dreamworks Animation film Joseph: King of Dreams in which Campbell was heard as the singing voice of Ben Affleck’s title character. Click here to purchase David Campbell sings John Bucchino!

For more on David be sure to visit and follow him on Twitter!

For more on John be sure to visit and follow him on Twitter!

David Campbell and John Bucchino at sound check1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer?

David Campbell: My Dad (Jimmy Barnes) showed me that it was possible to become a performer. My style is more directly influenced by Bobby Darin, Peter Allen, Sammy Davis Jr.

John Bucchino: Performing was a natural extension of songwriting, and part of my dream was being a piano-playing singer/songwriter like Elton John, Joni Mitchell, or Billy Joel. I never imagined that other singers would perform my songs.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to?

David: There are too many to list. Composers? Burt Bacharach, Jimmy Webb, Stephen Sondheim and so many more.

John: Too many to name! And not only singers – also other writers, directors, playwrights, visual artists, all kinds of creative souls. One of the joys of growing older has been learning to embrace collaboration which is not always easy since I started out wanting to do everything myself. I still have a hard time relinquishing control. The trick is to choose the right people.

3. What made now the right time to team up for your new CD "David Campbell Sings John Bucchino"?

David: The idea of touring a show with John in Australia came up and I thought we should record it. It was one of those things, if we didn’t do it now we never would!

John: I'd just completed a 4-year commission for a new Danish musical called ESAURA and we had a gorgeous production over in Denmark. I was going through artistic postpartum after that, and was wondering what the next project would be when David contacted me with this idea. Perfect timing in so many ways: I love making music with David; he's one of my best friends and one of my favorite interpreters of my songs – not only does he have a spectacular voice, he's also a terrific actor, which is essential for my material; I adore Australia and leap at any opportunity to come back (this is my 6th visit!) I would get to hang out with not only David, but with his fabulous wife Lisa and their precious son Leo; Lisa set up some master classes for me around Australia and also in New Zealand, (another place I love, and coaching students on performance of my songs is one of my favorite things to do); so, win win win win win win! 

4. What has been the best part about working together on this CD?

David: We are old friends. It was one of the most enjoyable times I have had in the studio because we were in synch. You don't always get that when under the pressure to create an album. Our friendship gave us a shorthand that was invaluable and fun!

John: You know when you see a flock of birds and they all turn together at the same exact moment and you think, "How did they know?" That's what it feels like to make music with someone with whom you're in synch. It's the most beautiful telepathy, and that's what it feels like to accompany David. We just "know," and it's a rare and miraculous feeling that, I think, comes across both to our audiences and on this CD.

David Campbell and John Bucchino in the recording studio5. What was your favorite part of the creative process in putting this CD together?

David: All the laughs. John and I have a similar and silly sense of humor.

John: I'd say the biggest gift was that, because of the level of trust I have in David, Lisa, and everyone they invited into the project, I let go more than I ever have. I let other people do their jobs and allowed the recordings to flow and I couldn't be prouder of the results. Funny thing: we'd sometimes do 4 or 5 takes of a song and, almost always, the first take was the magical one we'd use.

6. How are your processes similar and how do they differ?

David: We are both very strong in our visions. John with his music and me with how it should be represented. We were constantly challenging each other. We played with keys and various arrangements of some songs. I wanted this to feel different than other recordings we had done. For me that meant what songs to do and how to represent them in a way I felt was new for John and fans of his work.

John: David tends to be more spontaneous and value the "vibe" of the moment, and I tend to want to polish and re-work. But on this project I've adopted his approach more and can clearly see the benefits.

David Campbell and John Bucchino on "Today"7. What do admire about each other's work separate from this project?

David: John is a wonderful songwriter. His music moves me. It surprises you and envelopes you. I have always been a huge fan since the day I met him. I still am.

John: I admire David's versatility. He can sing ANYTHING, and sing it really well. I arrived here in Sydney on a Saturday morning and was invited to a benefit that night at which he was performing with his dad, rocker Jimmy Barnes. They had a kick-ass band complete with horn section, and as I watched David belting stratospheric notes I was dazzled but a little concerned about him dialing it back to sing my songs with the subtlety and intimacy they require. Well, I needn't have worried. After a couple of days of rehearsal there was a moment when he "found" exactly the right voice for this recording. I describe it as the difference between a voice that's "in your face" and one that's "whispering in your ear": tender, vulnerable, nuanced.

8. How has your workmanship together grown since the first time you worked together?

David: I am more confident as a performer and a person. Having a family has settled me emotionally. This affects my performance style. I tried to reflect that in the song choices.

John: Working together doesn't feel much different than it did in the past. The special connection has always been there. But in the past 10 years or so, through the variety of work we've done apart, we've each grown as musicians which enriches this collaboration. 

9. What's the best advice you've ever received?

David: There is no one piece of advice that stands out. I am always listening to myself and to people I trust for advice and guidance. I am constantly evolving and learning. I hope I always do.

John: From my dear friend Stephen Schwartz: "Never read reviews."

David Campbell and John Bucchino on the set of "David Campbell Sings John Bucchino" CD Photo shoot10. What have you learned about yourselves from being performers?

David: As I get older I have learned to trust my instincts more. Also your failures make you as much as your successes. Every successful career has a trail of failure along the way to success. You need to stop worrying and just do everything to the best of your ability. Then move on to the next project and give that your all.

John: I've learned an important lesson that applies not only onstage, and in writing, but in every aspect of life: that being totally, openly, honestly oneself is the most powerful, engaging, rewarding, appealing and, eventually, easiest thing to do.


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

David: Super Strength because I want to carry all the shopping bags from the car in one trip not two.

John: Flying would be nice. Or maybe the superpower to ease pain.

David CampbellMore on David:

One of Australia’s biggest selling recording artists, David Campbell has also achieved considerable success in the United States. His critically acclaimed New York show attracted major crowds and created what Time Out New York described as "…the biggest buzz since Barbra Streisand." David’s show subsequently moved to Rainbow & Stars where he became the youngest performer ever to headline the iconic venue. With this success as a launch-pad, David was soon in demand from Broadway’s most prestigious writers and directors. He was cast in the New York premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Saturday Night and played a leading role in New York City Center Encores! production of Babes In Arms. He released three highly praised recordings in the U.S. and has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning.

In recent years David has taken a break from recording while co-hosting the top-rated Mornings alongside co-host Sonia Kruger on Australia’s Nine Network.

John BucchinoMore on John:

John Bucchino is one of New York’s most beloved composers. His work has been recorded by artists such as Art Garfunkel, Liza Minnelli and Kristin Chenoweth and performed at venues across the world – from the Sydney Opera House to the White House. His work with Harvey Fierstein's A Catered Affair opened on Broadway in 2008 and won the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical. Most recently, he was commissioned by Danish producer Soren Moller to compose music and lyrics for the musical Esaura.