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Entries in Kathie Lee Gifford (3)

Monday
Dec052011

Caroline Selia

"One Hot Kitchen" Cast, Photo Credit: KadeemaBK PhotographyPhoto Credit: Artina AbrahamCaroline Selia is a rising singer and actress who is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, graduated with Honors from the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University and completed her Masters of Music degree at the University of Tennessee where she was a member of the Knoxville Opera Studio Apprenticeship Program. She was recently the leading lady in two new electronica opera pieces: "Wednesday Before Last, "written by Kristin Hevner, Daniel Wyatt, and Royce Vavreck and "XOXMas: An Electronica Opera" by Kirsitn Hevner, Daniel Wyatt, and David Caudle, which was part of the Musaic Concert Series she also produces.

Caroline recently recorded the original musical "Show People" by James Rubio & David Caudle based off the Actor's Equity and she was seen last summer belting it out at the charity benefit concert "Singin' in the Shower" with American Idol finalist and B'way veteran Diana DeGarmo for Broadway at Birdland Jazz Club in NYC. She has also filmed several television spots including a memorable role as a singing neighbor in the series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" as well as filming a guest spot on a E! Entertainment Pilot "PR Girls" as a rock n' roll singer.

Caroline is also involved with various charity programs throughout New York City and has appeared on television as a part of the 'Wednesday's Child Adoption Program' as both singer and teacher to six year old Eligahes which helps recruit adoptive families who can provide permanent and loving homes for New York City foster children. Among the other charities close to Ms. Selia is the suicide prevention program To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), for which she holds annual concerts in dedication to her dear friend Melissa Frederick.

Her favorite opera roles to date include, "Susannah" in "Susannah," "Roselinda" in "Die Fledermaus," and "Liu" in "Turandot." Favorite musical theatre productions credits include "Irene" in "Crazy For You," "Liat" in "South Pacific," "Dana" in "Smile," and "Mary" in "Do Black Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" 

Caroline Selia in "One Hot Kitchen," Photo Credit: KadeemaBK PhotographyCurrently, Caroline can be seen in Metropolis Opera Project's production of Kristin Hevner-Wyatt, Daniel Wyatt, and David Caudle's (fellow "Adaumbelle's Quest" participant) new electronica opera "One Hot Kitchen" along with fellow "Adaumbelle's Quest" participant Paris Carney at Medicine Show Theatre in NYC (549 West 52nd Street) from December 1-4 and 8-11. According to press notes, "'One Hot Kitchen' serves up a five-course feast in a Hell's Kitchen walk-up. For starters, a couple fresh from the Midwest, followed by two gay men suddenly free to make it legal, mismatched roommates, a booty call gone bizarrely awry, and a tragic hypochondriac. Some are more seasoned than others, but all are trying desperately to connect." Click here for tickets!

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

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Its funny because I always loved putting on shows in backyard in Pittsburgh, PA and singing along to that "Bodyguard" Soundtrack, but I think it was the first musical I ever saw which was "Peter Pan" at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera with Cathy Rigby, no less, that really did it for me! I saw her up on that stage flying and I knew that it was just something so magical that I had to be a part of it!

2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? Even though we both went to Carnegie Mellon University at the same time, Sara Jean Ford Gehling and I were never onstage together, just class! In fact -- I'd love to sing with both her and her husband Drew!

3. What attracted you to "One Hot Kitchen" and what do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? "One Hot Kitchen" is a story about human relationships and how we all are connected every day whether or not we realize it. It's also funny how the story takes place in an apartment building and what your neighbors are REALLY up to behind those closed doors -- something most New Yorkers don't even think twice about today. I really think that Norm Johnson, our director, had a great time with having the cast explore those relationships and with the beautiful set by Adrianna Desier Durant, and production by Zachary James of Metropolis Opera Projects, I think people are going to be blown away by the simplest of actions in the scenes that will be magnified by the music & words. I want the audience to walk away saying...I've never seen anything like that and when is the next production?!

4. What do you identify most with about your character in "One Hot Kitchen"? Well my character, Jane, is quite the lady! She takes charge and owns her sensuality which I love and can definitely relate to in a very positive way. It's also fun getting to romp around stage playing a mistress and indulge in that sinful way that you can only do on stage and not feel guilty about later.

5. This is your second time working with David Caudle. What is it about him and his work that you like so much? First off, David and I actually share the same birthday, December 12th -- and we found that out the first time we ever met so I think it was always destined for us to just "get" each other. He writes the lines I wish I could say when I'm living my everyday life! I also had the great pleasure of recording some songs for his other musical with composer James Rubio, "Show People", this past summer- so there is something to this thing we have together! His words sometimes just take my breath away and are so powerful that even in the other scenes of "One Hot Kitchen" I'm still so moved after seeing them multiple times.

6. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? I love having room to play with a scene, especially during dress rehearsals, when the music and text are second nature. Its also a great feeling  when you're comfortable enough with your scene partner you can do that -- which fortunately with my current co-star Michael Deleget I definitely am!! We have some very intimate, sexy moments that keep changing which makes every performance exciting for both of us & the audience. I adore rehearsing at Shetler Studios -- it's so convenient and the staff & managers are very understanding of performers needs.

7. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I can do and learn anything in just a few hours notice -- and not be scared of it! I'm definitely much tougher and more patient than I ever give myself credit for in everyday life and with living in NYC that's super important. And most importantly I can make up words to any song and make them sound sexy!

8. What do you like about electronica opera as opposed to traditional opera? How does electronica opera fit your voice and style of performing better? Electronica Opera is such an interesting and very freeing way to express yourself as an actor and singer. You can do things like riff on your vocal life and mess with the rhythm that you definitely can NOT do in traditional opera. It doesn't hurt to have these amazing melodies to sing that were hand crafted for me by the composer, Kristin Hevner Wyatt. She knows me so well personally and professionally that I feel like a rock star every time I sing her music! The coolest thing is that she does this for every member of the cast because she wants her singers to be their best. It's also funny that through electronica opera I have been contracted to do much more musical theatre and am loving every minute of my sassy belting!

9. What is the best advice you've ever received? The best advice has always been from my parents Marie & Jay Selia, who have always been so super supportive of me, which is spend your life loving what you do and being with who you love because it's the only way to be truly happy in this lifetime.

10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My very good friend Melissa Frederick, who passed away a few years ago, comes up in my dreams sometimes and I love it! It's like dreaming about a great episode of "Sex and the City" because we always have such fun girl times over a martini.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to spend your day off? Favorite way to stay in shape? I call days off - "diva days" and occasionally I partake in them which includes sleeping in late and watching the last hour of the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford & Hoda Kotb with a strong cup of coffee. Usually afterwards if the weather is nice out I love running in Fort Tryon Park which is right next door to me up in Washington Heights. And I love taking tap classes with Ray Hesselink -- great way to stay in shape!

12. Favorite skin care product? I will swear on any stack of holy books -- Shiseido White Lucent Brightening under Eye Cream is a miracle worker!

13. Favorite website? RocketHub.com lately because that's where we are hosting our fundraising for "One Hot Kitchen" -- but beyond that I am a total Facebook junkie. How else are you gonna see that cute dog picture from your friend in Holland?!

14. Superman or Wonder Woman? Well clearly I AM Wonder Woman...now I just need to find my Super Man! Note that I did not say Super Boy.

Sunday
Sep182011

Carolee Carmello Saving Aimee Interview

I first interviewed two-time Tony Award Nominee, Carolee Carmello in 2009 when she was starring on Broadway in the mega-hit musical "Mamma Mia." Since that time, Carolee left "Mamma Mia" to originate the role of "Alice Bienke" in the Broadway show "The Addams Family" for which she received an Outer Critics Circle Nomination as well as her third Drama Desk Award Nomination. Now, Carolee is reprising the role of "Aimee Semple McPherson" in Kathie Lee Gifford's musical "Saving Aimee," which Carolee first originated in 2007 in the world premiere of "Saving Aimee" at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. (I had the privilege of seeing Carolee in the 2007 version. Her performance was spectacular as she embodied "Aimee" and belted her way through the score written by Kathie Lee, David  Friedman, and David Pomeranz).

 "Saving Aimee" tells the true-life story of "Aimee Semple McPherson," the first media superstar evangelist...before Bakker, before Swaggart, and before Robertson who's fall from grace is coupled with scandalous love affairs and a tabloid-frenzied trial. "Saving Aimee" plays at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, WA from September 30-October 29 (1308 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101). Click here for tickets!

1. What attracted you to "Saving Aimee" and what keeps you want to participate in these developmental runs? I didn't know anything about Aimee Semple McPherson before I started work on this show, but everything I've learned since has been fascinating. She offers everything you could want as an actress....she was passionate, smart, charismatic, sexy, and addicted to drugs!

2. How did you and Kathie Lee first come to work together? What have you learned from working with her? I first heard about the project when I was doing "Urinetown" and one of my cast-mates was doing a reading of the show. He was describing the story to me one night backstage, and I said, "I need to play that part." Kathie Lee and I spoke on the phone shortly after that and I proposed turning the role (which was then played by 2 actresses) into a one-woman part.

I've learned so much from Kathie Lee. She is incredibly tenacious and energetic and hard-working. And she is so completely committed to this piece.

3. How do you think "Aimee's" story relates to today's times and what do you hope audiences will come away learning from seeing you in the show? I think this story is incredibly timely. It deals with the way someone can be seduced by fame. She was as famous in her day as Madonna or Oprah is today. And she was a master at using the media to her advantage.

I'm not sure people will learn anything from me, but I think the piece will definitely peak their curiosity about Aimee and her life.

4. What is your favorite part of originating a role in a show and what do you like best about taking over a role? Well, when you originate a role you have so much more freedom (of course, that can be scary!) and much more exposure, too.

Replacing in a role is tricky because you are squeezing into someone else's shoes, but it's also easier in a way, because that person has already worked out the kinks.

5. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? My favorite part of the rehearsal period is when it's over. I need the audience.

6. Favorite place to practice/rehearse on your own? I learn a lot of music while I'm driving in my car. Other drivers who look in, probably think I'm insane.

7. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? What has kept you grounded in an industry that has lead others down a darker path? I've learned that I like variety in my work. I like comedy, then drama; stage, then TV; employment, then unemployment!

I think my family keeps me grounded. Nothing makes you behave more than being responsible for children.

8. What has been your proudest moment so far? In the past couple of years, I have been very flattered by honors at both my college and my high school. There's something really gratifying about feeling successful in your hometown.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? When I first moved to New York, someone told me to audition for everything that I could. It really proved helpful, not only because I got better at auditioning (which is the strangest/hardest part of this business), but because there are many times when a casting person or director will see you at one audition and bring you in for something else all together. It's advice that I've passed on to other actors. Don't decide you're not going to get the job before you go in for it. You may get something even better.

10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Right now, I would like to dream about Aimee Semple McPherson....I could use all the help I can get with this show!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to stay in shape? I've been doing a lot of running lately. I find it really helps my endurance on stage. I decided to try a half-marathon this year. (I was pretty proud that I got through those 13 plus miles.) Next year, my goal is a full marathon. We'll see if I can do it. Something tells me that 26 is more than twice as hard as 13!

12. Favorite way to spend your day off? I love spending time with my kids....preferably doing something physical and getting some fresh air....then a great meal (which I don't have to cook or clean up!) and, if I'm really fantasizing, a full 8 hours of sleep!

13. "Mary" or "Rhoda"? "Rhoda," for sure!  I love a good head scarf!

For a sampling of the talent that is Carolee Carmello, check out this video of her and the cast of "Saving Aimee" singing "For Such A Time As This!"

Sunday
Aug142011

Lee Lessack: Chanteur

I first interviewed Lee Lessack, Mac and Bistro Award Winner and founder of LML Music, in 2010 as he was departing on his European tour of "Chanteur: an homage to the Great French Songbook with an American Perspective." After the success of his tour and a year later, Lee decided to take his love of the French Songbook one step further and release a whole album. So, on August 9, Lee's new album "Chanteur" was released to the world! I had the honor of interviewing Lee again to discuss his new album, having his own record label which houses such Broadway favorites as Stephen Schwartz, Lea Salonga, Jim Caruso, Leslie Uggams, Lucie Arnaz, Susan Egan, David Burnham, and Kathie Lee Gifford, as well as other everyday details of his life and career!

Be sure to keep up with Lee at http://www.leelessack.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter (@LMLMusic)!

1. What made you decide to start LML Music and what do you like best about having your own label? I honestly started LML Music because I needed a label for my debut recording back in 1995 (I'm aging myself). I love being able to provide a home for independent artists.

2. What have you learned about the music business from having your own record label? To not quit your day job. LOL! The music business is changing so rapidly it's often hard to keep up. I'm very grateful to have a fabulous distributor, The Allegro Corporation, and they have guided me and LML for the past 10 years.

3. If you could sign anyone to your label, who would it be? How do you decide which artists to sign? From an artistic standpoint, I'd love to sign k.d. lang because her voice just makes me melt. From a business standpoint how about Susan Boyle a couple of years ago? Artists generally seek me out and if it feels right and I think we can move some product then we proceed.

4. How did you come up with the title and concept for your new album "Chanteur"? My dear friend and colleague, Brian Lane Green, actually came up with the concept and wrote and directed a concert for me which then became the basis for the new album. I had mentioned to Brian that I felt I was ready to create a new concert and since Brian and I have shared the stage with "3 Men and a Baby…Grand!" for many years, he knows where I live vocally and as an actor and he thought of this idea and I loved everything about it.

5. Why did you want to focus on the Great French Songbook? What do you love about that music so much? Well as I said above, the concept was brought to me, and I loved the idea. Most French songwriters were poets and so I find that each song has the depth of a one act play. The material is so rich and haunting.

6. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? The most joyous element for me, is that I am able to touch the audience's heart and take them on a journey with me. Perhaps for the time that we are together, they forget what may be troubling them and perhaps find a moment of healing.

7. What advice do you give to the artists you sign? Don't skimp on the marketing and promotion of your recording. It's all too common to leave that element out of your budget and it's really the most important. You may have a wonderful album, but if nobody knows about it then how do we sell CDs?

8. What is your favorite part of the creative process in putting an album together? Recording the vocals is always magical for me. Capturing that moment in time. The first time my engineer sends me the rough mix of a song is always very exciting.

9. Favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? I have a beautiful office in our home that my partner designed for me. I love to close all the doors and dim the lights and rehearse.

10. "Mary" or "Rhoda"? So not fair!!! I never thought I'd have to choose and since you didn't give me the option of Phyllis I'm gonna have to go with Mary :)

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Well my husband of course…but if he wasn't available perhaps it would be Ryan Kwanten.

12. Favorite way to spend your day off? That's easy! An early morning hike with my 2 gorgeous pups. Brunch and a movie.