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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in Lyricist (13)

Wednesday
Dec172014

Call Redialed: Scott Alan: Greatest Hits Volume 1 and 54 Below Debut Concert 

Scott Alan"Call Me Adam" catches up with songwriter Scott Alan to talk about his new album Scott Alan Greatest Hits Volume 1 and his upcoming 54 Below debut concert on January 19, 2015 at 7pm, which celebrates the release of Scott Alan Greatest Hits Volume 1!

Scott Alan Greatest Hits Volume 1 features Samantha Barks, Shoshana Bean, Stephanie J. Block, Lisa Brescia, Liz Callaway, Kerry Ellis, Hadley Fraser, Eden Espinosa, Marcus Paul James and Willemijn Verkaik, and new tracks by Marc Broussard, Taylor Dayne, Cynthia Erivo, RJ Helton, Christina Marie, Jonathan Mendelsohn, Stuart Matthew Price, Oliver Tompsett and Natalie Weiss.

Scheduled to appear at Scott's 54 Below concert include 2014 Tony Award Winners James Monroe Iglehart (Aladdin) and Jessie Mueller (Beautiful), Tony Nominee’s Joshua Henry (The Scottsboro Boys, Violet) and Chad Kimball (Memphis) as well as Lilla Crawford (Little Red Riding Hood in Disney’s upcoming film adaptation of Into the Woods), Alysha Umphress (On the Town), David Burtka (upcoming’s It Shoulda Been You), Mykal Kilgore (Motown), Natalie Weiss (Wicked), Katie Thompson (Giant), Ellyn Marie Marsh (Kinky Boots), Danny Calvert (Altar Boyz), Elizabeth Stanley (On the Town). More performers to be announced. Click here for tickets!

For more on Scott be sure to visit http://scottalan.net and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

Designed by Robbie Rozelle1. You have just released your new album Scott Alan Greatest Hits Volume 1 which features, well, some of your biggest hits from your previous five albums, plus a few new recordings and re-workings of other hits. What made now the right time to release a Greatest Hits album as opposed to recording a new album? To make a new album would cost too much money and putting out a Greatest Hits album allowed me the opportunity to revisit my older catalogue of music and reconstruct it enough to give these songs a new feel. In addition, since so many of my past albums are out of print, it only made sense to place the greatest hits on one album instead of spending the money to duplicate all or most of my previous albums. Everything comes down to money, which isn’t to say this album didn’t cost money, it actually cost more to make then my debut album, Dreaming Wide Awake.

2. What does it mean to you to have enough material to be able to create a Greatest Hits album? It means I’m getting really old. I’m now in that stage of my life where graduates tell me they discovered my music when they were in Junior High School. Old. Old. Old.

Scott Alan3. How did you decide which songs you wanted to put on this first collection of Greatest Hits and how did you decide which songs you wanted to re-work/change from their original recording? We did a poll on my website and about 90% of the songs were picked from that poll. As for the re-worked songs, it was important to have updates on many of the songs to make this album special and unique and not the normal "greatest hits" collection of songs that fans already own.

4. Some of the artists featured on your Greatest Hits were not the original artists you initially had record the song. Why did you choose to change some of the artists for this release? It started with the song "Anything Worth Holding on To." It’s a very personal song but it never caught on when released on my third album, What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up, even though it was beautifully sung by the iconic voice of Crystal Monee Hall. Then when I did my IndigO2 concert at the O2 and it was performed by the extraordinarily gifted talents of Cynthia Erivo, it gained a new life and a new following. I knew I wanted to try and recreate that and so having Cytnhia record the song was not even a question. Nothing will ever match the magic of the live performance but it’s so incredible to have it recorded for this album. And, to have Stuart Matthew Price re-create his performance of "Over the Mountains" was a no brainer. He was my original idea for the recording but I had already offered it to Bobby Steggert. Then we tried to have him in for the LIVE album but he was busy with Shrek. So, we finally had the timing right. Thankfully. And, "In This Moment" recorded in the studio was a no-brainer. Marc Broussard. Hello. This new version of "Kiss the Air" was featured on the special edition of LIVE, so we changed the arrangement a bit. Oliver Tompsett’s voice is timeless. And Natalie Weiss' new version of "The Distance You Have Come" was our way of going back to the original demo of what the song represented. Simplistic and organic.

Scott Alan and Taylor Dayne5. One artist who is new to this recording is the one and only Taylor Dayne who sings "I'm Coming Home To You." I have loved Taylor Dayne since she burst onto the music scene in the 80s. How did you come to work with this Grammy-nominated artist? I’m annoying and overly eager. Taylor can tell the story better but truthfully I just kept tweeting her and emailing her assistant until she said yes. I wouldn’t give up and kept on pushing and thankfully our schedules linked up and I had the opportunity to work with one of my childhood idols. I grew up the biggest Taylor Dayne voice and that voice hasn’t changed one bit. It’s still crazy to look in my phone and know I can call her, and I do. She’s so down to earth and awesome. The studio session was a blast. Just two Long Island kids. We have the same lingo and she is brilliant in knowing what she wants and how to achieve it. She’s got a brilliant mind. It was an honor.

6. On January 19, you will be making your 54 Below debut to celebrate the release of your Greatest Hits. What excites you about making your 54 Below debut? Why was now the best time to make your 54 Below debut? You know, I feel like I’m having an affair on Birdland because I've been performing there for years but when Jennifer Tepper asked me if I would be interested in doing a concert at 54 Below I couldn’t help but say yes. I mean, aren’t all the cool kids doing it? Sometimes new scenery is just what the doctor ordered.

Scott Alan7. In addition to this concert being your 54 Below debut, your first concert in a year and a half, why should fans get excited for this concert? and What do you hope audiences come away with after attending this concert? I have always feared performing in New York because I feel like I can’t just sit back and relax and be myself. Over the years, performing in London and Australia and Holland and Germany and just having the opportunity to sit back and tell my story - I’m excited to do that now, in my city. It’s gonna be a very different vibe and I’m really excited to share that with this audience.

8. Why did you wait a year and a half to return to the New York concert stage? I always think nobody will show up and so I think it’s always smart to take breaks so that the audience awaits your next visit and I don’t overdose on xanax.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? From Frank Wildhorn. He said "The day you stop thinking you’re a new voice and think you’ve learned everything there is to be learned, leave the industry." Smart advice. Thankfully, I keep learning. And advice I always tell the young one’s which is to "Always remain a fan" and I do. I continue to work with my childhood hero’s because I am still that 12 year old kid in his bedroom waiting for life to begin.

Scott Alan10. What have you learned about yourself from being a composer/lyricist? How truly therapeutic music can be if you let it.

11. How do you want to be remembered? As a father and a husband. I just need a husband and kids to father. But that is what I want my legacy to be. 

BONUS QUESTIONS:

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I seem to dream about flying a lot. I don’t know why. I have dreams often that I can fly. So, I guess that one?

13. If you could be an original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Oh, hmmmm. Is cool mint an option?

14. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what would the ingredients be? The Dreamer. Part Malibu Rum, Part Pineapple Juice, Part Citrus Absolute Vodka, part Midori Melon and topped off with a cherry. And yes. I was a bartender and that actually was my signature drink back in the day at Stonewall Inn, located in the W. Village. So I’m sorta cheating.

Scott AlanMore on Scott:

Since returning to New York City in 2003 many of Broadway's elite have sung Scott Alan's songs, including Liz Callaway, Jonathan Groff, Shoshana Bean, Adriane Lenox, Stephanie J. Block, Cheyenne Jackson, Eden Espinosa and more, all of which can be found featured on his debut CD Dreaming Wide Awake. Scott then released the follow up CD, Keys, in 2008 which features more of Broadway and West End elite singing his work, including Sutton Foster, Norm Lewis, Kerry Ellis, Randy Graff, Megan Hilty, Hadley Fraser, Julia Murney and many more.

In the fall of 2010, Scott Alan released his third album, What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up, featuring Christiane Noll, Darius de Haas, Christopher Sieber, Willemijn Verkaik, Patina Miller and more.

Scott Alan released his fourth album, LIVE, in 2012 which was recorded at the famed Birdland Jazz Club in New York City. This recording featured Samantha Barks, Lea Salonga, Jane Monheit, Marc Broussard, Ramin Karimloo, Pentatonix and many of today's brightest Broadway and West End stars. On May 24th, 2012 Scott's composition, "It's Good to See You Again" was featured on the premiere episode of the ninth season of So You Think You Can Dance. His work has also been heard in the documentary The Standbys and on VH1's reality show Off-Pitch.

In 2014 Scott released his fifth album, a seven song collection sung by the composer called Anything Worth Holding on To.

Scott Alan has sold out concerts of his music in New York City, London, Holland, Germany, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles and Australia.

Tuesday
Dec092014

Call Redialed: Ashley Griffin: Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody: 54 Below

Ashley Griffin, Photo Credit: Kristin Hoebermann"Call Me Adam" once again chats with writer and performer Ashley Griffin! We revisit her musical Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody which will be making it's re-vamped debut at 54 Below on Tuesday, December 16 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody is a hilarious, intelligent pop rock musical that lovingly takes a bite out of everyones favorite vampire series (and a few other pop culture icons along the way).

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

1. On December 16, you will be presenting a new reading of Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody at 54 Below. I saw a previous incarnation 2 years ago. What made now the right time to present this new version? It was a huge honor to have the show become such a success when it premiered at New World Stages. The show surpassed all of our wildest dreams, and ended up becoming a bit of a pop culture phenomenon, so we wanted to make sure we had all our ducks in a row before moving forward with a commercial production. We’ve been working with an incredible team of lawyers and are so excited to finally be able to bring the piece back. We have an amazing group of fans who have been waiting very patiently, so I’m excited that, especially since we sold out so quickly at New World, those who haven’t had a chance to see the show will finally get to! (And it’s even better then it was last time!)

2. The last reading was at New World Stages. Why did you choose 54 Below as the venue to present this incarnation of Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody? I’m a huge fan of 54 Below. It’s been described as "Broadway’s living room" and, I think, provides the perfect blend of intimate, classy, and "cool" in which to experience the show. The performance at New World was a very large benefit concert - this time we wanted to do something more intimate as a sort of "welcome back" for the show. And we’re so honored by all the love we’ve gotten from 54 Below, and their excitement at hosting the piece.

3. At the time I saw the previous reading, it had a different name. What made you want to change it to Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody? Well, one of the big reasons is we wanted to make it very clear that this is a (loving) parody show – and I think this title much better encapsulates the essence of what the piece is all about. And it has a fun double meaning (our leading man’s name is Deadward Cologne).

2012 Cast of "Forever Deadward" at New World Stages in NYC4. How did the feedback from the previous reading influence this version of the show? What changes did you make? What was it like to rework the show for what it is now? What was the most challenging part about the revising process? I may be one of the few writers who feels this way, but I love the rewriting process. The whole development process in general. Some people do Sudoku, I rewrite shows. The New World Stages reading was hugely beneficial – it was the first time Gabriel Barre (the director) and I got to be in a rehearsal room together actively working on the show, the first time we were hearing that draft of the script up on its feet, even the first time I heard some of the songs with a band, and not just as a piano demo. It very much helped us figure out what was working, and what needed to be changed. We made some great adjustments during the rehearsal process, but there’s only so much you can do in a week, so this time has been invaluable to go back and really do all the rewrites that needed to be done. Some songs have been cut, some new songs have been written (including one of my now favorite songs in the show "We Can Give You Everything (Just Give Us Everything)," written by the incomparable Jeremy Ezell and performed with sheer brilliance by Martin Landry as "Arrow" and the rest of the Vampire Capital (yes, another change – we now have an additional pop culture franchise we’re poking fun at). The show is also now a one act, and has even more of the heightened parody everyone already loves. But ultimately the thing I was most happy to have gotten out of the New World reading was to see how much of the show really did work very effectively. And now it’s even better!

2012 "Forever Deadward," Jenna Leigh Green, at New World Stages in NYCThe process of reworking a piece can be a long one. I’m actually a very fast writer – I’m known to have fully rewritten drafts to my creative team a matter of hours after a production meeting. But the process doesn’t end there. Everyone needs to read the rewrites, sit with them for a bit, then give feedback, possibly have a casual table read with members of the creative team to hear how the changes sound out loud, wait for sheet music to be finished, record demos, and then do it all again. Probably the most difficult part of the process is coming to terms with the fact that a script and score will never be finished (at least until the producers force you to "freeze" the show on opening night). I think all writers have a secret fantasy that they’ll turn in a new draft and it will be so fantastically solid and brilliant that no one will think a word or a note needs to be changed. But you’re always going to be tweaking things. You just have to enjoy the process. I think it’s also difficult for me in that there are three other composers on the show in addition to myself– I’m not precious at all about my work, but I always feel terrible having to call one of the other composers to talk about potentially changing, or even cutting one of their numbers.

2012 "Forever Deadward" Martin Landry and Colin Hanlon, at New World Stages in NYC5. Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody will feature the Broadway talents of Colin Hanlon (Modern FamilySubmissions Only), Cortney Wolfson (Kinky Boots), Jenna Leigh Green (Wicked), Jared Zirilli (Lysistrata Jones), Sara Jean Ford (The Phantom Of The Opera), Stephen Anthony (Book of Mormon), Tyler Maynard (Mary PoppinsThe Little Mermaid), Michael Padgett (Upright Citizens Brigade) and featuring Martin Landry (Dear Edwina) as "Arrow." What excites you about having this cast perform your work? This is an incredible cast and I’m so fortunate to get to work with them Colin, Jared, Jenna and Martin were all a part of the show at New World, and it’s been so exciting to have them continue with the piece. We also have some wonderful new additions Tyler, Sara, Stephen, Cortney and Michael. It’s been great to see all the wonderful new things they bring to the show. I’m especially excited in that some of the cast are not typically known for doing this kind of work – Sara for example is most well known for her fantastic portrayals of ingénues like "Christine Daae" in Phantom of the Opera or "Lusia" in The Fantasticks. But Sara is hilarious, smart and beautifully quirky and I’m so excited for people to see that side of her onstage! I’ve admired all the folks in this wonderful cast for a long time, and it’s such a joy to get to work with them.

And I do have to especially say, Martin Landry has literally been a part of this show since day one, rehearsing in my living room. He’s a very dear friend of mine and it’s very special that we’re still able to work on the show together all these years later. Such a thing is very rare, especially when a show moves into a more commercial realm, and I’m so so excited for people to see his hilarious performance.

2012 "Forever Deadward," Lauren Lopez and Jared Zirilli, at New World Stages in NYC6. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Forever Deadward: The Vampire Musical Parody? First and foremost I hope that everyone has a really fun time, enjoys some great music, and laughs a lot. But there is a deeper message behind all the comedy of Forever Deadward and I hope people walk away thinking about the things that we as a culture take a bit too seriously, and on a more personal level, the things that we as individuals tend to obsess over, to "make into gods." Hopefully "Ella Fawn" can be a bit of a cautionary, albeit really entertaining, tale for us all.

7. How do you feel you've grown with this piece over the past 2 years? I’ve grown a lot with this piece. As an artist, I’m a much better writer now (and I’m sure I’ll be better still two years from now). I’ve had my first (minor) taste of "commercial" success and have learned a lot from the whole process. I think the piece, and I, have matured together.

8. Since this show centers around Vampires, what was your favorite vampire movie growing up? I wasn’t a big Vampire girl growing up, although I do have two odd connections to well known Vampire projects –

I was a child actor growing up in L.A. and almost played the role of Claudia in Interview With The Vampire. (I was the youngest girl seriously up for the role – at all of eight years old). I remember some very funny discussions with the director when she broached the subject of my kissing Brad Pitt.

I was very often compared to "Buffy" (a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the TV show) in high school – I looked like I could be Sara Michelle Gellar’s little sister, and have a bit of a Buffy vibe – (to this day one of my good friends calls me "Buffy.") But in an odd series of coincidences the high school gym where they filmed the prom episode of Buffy was the gym of my high school, and my address when I was younger was shockingly close to the "Summer’s" address (minus the "Sunnydale" of course.) Nowadays I’d probably say that Buffy (the TV show) is my favorite Vampire "thing." (Yes, I’m apparently "Buffy" AND "Hermione Granger" (see previous interview).

But when I was a kid I probably would have answered The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t. It’s on youtube. Check it out. Brilliance.

Ashley Griffin as "Elphaba" in "For Good" Special Event Concert at the Gershwin Theater9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? If I was really only allowed one, I would have to go with flight. But If I could add on and get a little more creative I would say:

- The ability to survive in any element (i.e. breathe under water, stand in fire, etc. In my mind this includes flying…)

- The ability to create things (even just in the mind) a la "Ariadne" in Inception (but in waking life,) or "Mastermind" from X-Men (but used in a creative way, not a bad way J)

- I’ve always thought that "Door" from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere had an awesome power – to create doors anywhere that lead exactly where you want them to.

10. If you could be any original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? This is terrible, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a Life Saver! Being a true nerd I looked them up online and based on the list they provided (though with no actual experience of the taste) I’d have to go with pineapple. It may be my favorite fruit. And… (see next question).

BONUS QUESTION:

11. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what would you put in it? I actually have a (non alcoholic) drink that’s on the menu at Green Symphony in Times Square. It’s a juiced drink I invented, and I love it! It has kale, parsley, lemon, ginger, green apple, and pineapple juice. Tastes like vegetable soup. So good! (It’s called the "Ashley Special" – go get it!)

But, I have worked as a bartender in the past and invented a drink for a customer which quickly became very popular, and I guess is my signature alcoholic drink now in a way, (though ironically I’ve never tasted it – I mean, you can’t drink on the job! But I hear it’s very good.) It’s also been called the "Ashley Special" by pure default, but it needs a better name (maybe "The Griffin?" LOL. When we were doing Broadway themed drinks it was called "The Ingénue" for a bit…) Tweet me at @ashleyjgriffin with your suggestions! It has: Malibu, pineapple juice, sprite, and a dash of cranberry to turn it pink. Very fruity, and very girly.

Though my default alcoholic drink on the rare occasions I do indulge is a Chocolate Martini. I mean, come on.

Ashley Griffin, Photo Credit: Kristin HoebermannMore on Ashley:

Ashley is most well known as the creator of the pop culture phenomenon Forever Deadward (New World Stages.) As a writer, Ashley’s plays have been produced off-Broadway in New York, as well as in Los Angeles, and Chicago. Highlights include: Theater: Changed For Good (for which she also wrote the book, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz which had its premier in 2006, and is currently in development at the York Theater Company, Trial, Fairy TalesThe Death of Emily Webster, SubtextTwilight: The Unauthorized Musical Parody, as well as Alice...in Wonderland (in collaboration with Joel Jeske) and Lyra: A Dark Fairy Tale (both currently in development.) Film/TV/Web: The 8th Square (currently in preproduction: Doug Jones and Pat Carroll attached), Blank Paige. Music: Ashley has contributed music and lyrics to several musicals including Forever Deadward, and has written and performed many original pieces as a singer/songwriter. Three of her songs were featured at the Comix Comedy Club’s Epic Fail: Broadways Future Flops concert in NYC.

Ashley Griffin in "Epic Fail" - Comix Comedy ClubAshley was the recipient of 2007 outstanding playwriting commendation from the NY International Fringe Festival, and a Grand Prize winner in the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival's Literary Competition. Ashley has taught Musical Theater History at NYU (Tisch,) and was the 2011/2012 Artist in Residence at Dreamcatcher Entertainment. She is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. As a performer, Ashley has performed on Broadway and is a proud member of AEA.

Thursday
Aug072014

Call Answered: Erik Ransom: Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions: 2014 NYC International Fringe Festival

Erik Ransom"Call Me Adam" chats with Erik Ransom, actor, writer, and composer of Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions, directed by Rachel Klein, which will be part of the 2014 NYC International Fringe Festival from August 8-22 at Theatre 80 in NYC (80 St. Marks Place between 1st & 2nd Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Erik be sure to visit http://www.erikransom.com and follow him on Twitter and Reverbnation!

1. Your show, Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions will be in playing in the NYC Fringe Festival fromAugust 8-22. What excites you about having this show in the NYC Fringe Festival? Any opportunity to wear 8-inch platforms, vinyl leggings and play a glam-rock Antichrist in front of a paying audience is inherently exciting to me. This opportunity is especially so, since it's at an internationally renown festival in the world capital of musical theatre! FringeNYC presents a wonderful opportunity to share this musical with a brand new audience.

2. How do you feel the Fringe will help nurture this show in a way another festival might not? We've got a big, glittery Glamageddon which isn't easy to squeeze into a theatre with eight other shows in rep, but we're lubing it up and forcing it in and Fringe is letting us. Not every festival would support a blasphemous, iconoclastic musical that pointedly questions a lot of things people hold sacred. FringeNYC isn't afraid to push that envelope.

3. Why did you want to write Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions? What made you want to write the music and lyrics in addition to the book? The Unholy Spirit overtook me! Coming was the first musical I ever wrote, and it wasn't something I planned. I wrote a song called "New Sodom" that I was thinking about recording for an album on which I was working at the time. The song was sung from the perspective of a character who claimed to be the hereditary heir to the royal lines of Sodom and Gomorrah. That character became our Antichrist: Damian Salt, the glamtagonist of Coming. The story just started pouring out from there! In five sleepless nights, I wrote 14 songs and a 60 page script. The current production evolved from that first gospel.

Cast of "Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions", Photo Credit: Michael Blase4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I hope we burn their retinas with shiny costumes, and melt their faces with electro-rock! I want people to enjoy themselves, of course, and there is plenty of humor and camp to be found in our show. Let's face it: The title is half dirty joke, half reference to the return of Christ to bring about the Rapture. But, beyond the high camp, I also hope it makes people think and converse about the things you aren't supposed to broach at dinner parties. I think faith can be a surpassingly dangerous thing when it's blind. Between groans and guffaws, I hope our audience will consider that notion.

"Coming" director Rachel Klein5. This show is being directed by Rachel Klein, who also just directed another show you just wrote the lyrics for, The Anthem. What do you like best about working with Rachel? How do you feel her vision combines with yours? We've grown very close. Which is to say she greets me each day by motor-boating my face 'twixt her alabaster décolletage. Rachel's aesthetic is just a really uncanny fit for my work. We share a love of glam which inspired my writing and her direction of this piece, and her role as Self-Proclaimed Queen of the Gays renders her the obvious choice to direct Coming.  I think our symbiotic collaboration has served to elevate the piece and we're already committed to work on future projects after Coming has... climaxed.

Cast of "Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions", Photo Credit: Andrew Cowle6. What excites you about having this cast bring your show to life? Apart from the fact that they're all sexy as hell, which makes the orgy scenes (Yes, scenes!) feel very method, they're insanely talented. They're mining new jokes, and fresh moments from the script and, more than that, they've been incredibly committed and supportive of the project. As an actor, I've been in enough shows where I saw the cast start to lose their faith in the project. Not the case, here! Across the board, the cast has been blowing up Facebook and Twitter with their testaments. As a writer, it gives me a great deal of confidence in the product we're putting out! Speaking of putting out, did I mention they're really sexy?

Erik Ransom and Glen North in "Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions", Photo Credit: Michael Blase7. In addition to writing the show, you are also starring in Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions. What do you identify most with about your character? Being the antichrist, of course! But seriously, Damian Salt is a sort of really heightened, exaggerated version of myself which makes him fit neatly without lube into the heightened exaggerated world of Coming. He likes to dress up and be larger than life and I wrote him that way for a reason. As His Imperial Fierceness, David Bowie, once said: "I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human." I identify strongly with that sentiment. Oh, and I'm a proud Sodomite, so Damian and I have that in common, as well.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor, writer, and composer? I've learned that heavy is the head that wears many hats! Coming was the first musical I'd ever completed back in 2010 when I binge-wrote it in those five days. When I was sitting in my parents' basement writing songs on acoustic guitar at 3 A. M. I honestly had no idea if I was any good at writing. I was pleased with what I was creating, but I had no idea if it was actually good. I've seen a lot of very bad projects put forward by writers who believe in their work just as much as I did. But then we presented Coming in Philadelphia and audiences and critics lauded the show. My very first show! People wanted to work with me. I was called "The Oscar Wilde of Philadelphia"! I was over the moon, but to this day, I look at the work I've completed and I think...Who the fuck did that? Did I really write a whole musical by myself? Then another? Then an opera? It's getting easier, but I don't think I'll ever be able to fully process that I'm actually living out my dreams. Woof! If I ever learn to process that, I will be insufferable.

Erik Ransom and Adam Hostler in "Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions", Photo Credit: Mark A. Dahl9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Just finish a draft." I think there are two salient problems that writers of theatre face. The first is perfectionism. Art isn't perfect, lest it would be science. If you keep trying to perfect your work before someone sees it, no one ever will. Just finish a draft, then revise. Getting out your initial draft is the hard part of the writing process! The second big problem I see is people who haven't learned their strengths and weaknesses. I know that I'm a good songwriter, but I'm not a good arranger, so I have the brilliant Charles Czarnecki as a collaborator to hone and improve the music I put forth. I'm a good storyteller, but I'm not the most visual thinker, and so I have Rachel Klein's visionary eye to bring the sparkle to the stage. Some people are good at a lot of things. No one is good at everything. Assemble a team that elevates your work. That's the beauty of theatre: It's a collaborative art. A lot of people begrudge that. I bask in it!

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Immortality. There's just not enough time to write all the shows I have in me!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to stay in shape? Alcorexia: Starving myself all day so I have enough calories to get blitzed at night.

12. Boxers or Briefs? Dance belt.

13. If could be any original lifesaver flavor, which one would you be? Cherry.

14. How do you want to be remembered? As the Crown Prince of Sodom & Gomorrah, hatched from a Fabergé egg with a disco ball sceptre in hand.

Erik Ransom singingMore on Erik:

Erik Ransom is a composer, playwright, librettist and performer with a diverse body of work. After graduating from The College of New Jersey in 2004 with a degree in music performance, he went on to work extensively as a performer on the stages of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, most recently in the repertory company of My Big Gay Italian Wedding and My Big Gay Italian Funeral.

His first full-length musical, Coming: A Rock Musical of Biblical Proportions was fully produced at The Prince Music Theatre in February 2011— Less than a year after the first draft was begun. Coming played to packed houses and unanimously favorable reviews, including raves from The Huffington Post, Edge Magazine and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

His other produced works include, SAGA The Ragnarok Opera and Tragic Events. Erik also penned the lyrics for the commercial Off-Broadway production of The Anthem which just finished it's limited run at The Culture Project's Lynn Redgrave Theatre. His latest opus, GRINDR The Opera premiered in concert in Spring of 2014, and is currently gearing up for a longer run in the near future.

Friday
Apr182014

Call Answered: Lisa Diana Shapiro Samantha Spade, Ace Detective Interview

Lisa Shapiro"Call Me Adam" chats with writer and lyricist Lisa Diana Shapiro about her new Off-Broadway children's musical Samantha Spade, Ace Detective with music by Georgia Stitt. Samantha Spade, Ace Detective tells the tale of Samantha, a lonely kid who prowls the black & white, rain-washed streets of her film-noir fantasies, as "Samantha Spade, Ace Detective," the go-to gumshoe who always solves the case (for $25 a day, plus Twizzlers).

Samantha Spade, Ace Detective plays from April 26-May 18 at TADA! Youth Theater (15 West 28th Street). Click here for tickets! 

 For more on Samantha Spade, Ace Detective be sure to visit http://samanthaspademystery.com and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a writer/lyricist? I've worked as a stage actor my whole life, but when I moved to Los Angeles for film and tv, the competition was so tough that I started writing plays for myself to act in. I produced my first play myself on a credit card and a loan from my parents, and a wonderful writer by the name of Vivienne Radkoff happened to see it. She took me aside and said, "You have to be a writer," and I've been writing ever since. I think the great thing about the writing community is that we are all constantly reaching out and mentoring the young writers coming up behind us. It's a very giving community.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Wow, that's a laundry list. Julie Andrews, Kristin Chenoweth, Faith Prince, Jodie Foster, Amy Adams. For starters. Oh, and John Kander. And Susan Stroman. And Kathleen Marshall. Should I stop now? I should stop now. I could go on.

3. What made you want to write Samantha Spade, Ace Detective? When I was a little kid, I was obsessed with old movies. (I still am.) I loved The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. To Have and Have Not was one of my favorites, I used to recite Bacall's "you know how to whistle" speech long before I actually knew what it meant. (My big sister taught this to me just for general hilarity's sake. Imagine a six-year-old--no wait, don't.) So I guess this story has always been in me, and when I pitched the idea of a detective story to Janine Nina Trevens at TADA! Youth Theater and she said yes, it just came pouring out of me. Also, I really wanted to have a female detective wearing a swell fedora and solving the crime. Girls never get to wear those great hats.

"Samantha Spade, Ace Detective"4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? It's a family show, written for both kids and their parents. I hope that Samantha Spade, Ace Detective will inspire young people to check out the original movies like The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. I think that the show makes the conventions of these movies, especially the style and the hard-boiled lingo, accessible and fun. Just because a movie is not in color does not mean it is not really cool.

Here's a sneak peak at "Slingin' the Slang," a short film based on one of the songs from Samantha Spade, Ace Detective: http://samanthaspademystery.com/slingin-the-slang/

5. What has been the best part about working with Georgia Stitt? Everything, from top to bottom. Georgia is an insanely talented composer and she got what I wanted to do immediately. The music for the show is so perfectly in the style of the period, while also really fun. Writing with her really challenged me to work at the top of my game, and constantly push to be better. I love the score of this show.

6. What do you like most about writing children's shows? How did you decide to work in the genre? I've worked with kids a lot in my career. I've taught creative drama and improv, I love teaching. I also feel really strongly that children's theatre is what will keep theatre alive in this country. Turn people on to theatre when they are young, they will have a love for it their whole lives. Theatre isn't some elitist, snobby thing, it's an exciting communal experience of telling stories. There is something so wonderful about sitting in a dark room watching live actors take you to another world using only some fabric, some painted wooden walls and your imagination. It's magical.

7. Your first musical, Princess Phooey, was produced at TADA. What made you initially want to work with them and what made you want to come back with Samantha Spade, Ace Detective? I met Janine Nina Trevens when my one-act play, The End of the Story, was chosen for a one-act festival that TADA! used to do. At that point, I had never written a musical, but I really wanted to write one. I kept pestering Nina with ideas every time I saw her, and she liked the Princess Phooey pitch enough to take a chance on me. Princess Phooey was a great experience, and I was so impressed with the high production values at TADA! and the talent and enthusiasm of the kids. Also, Nina has great dramatic instincts and is willing to be adventurous and try new things. It was a no brainer to want to come back.

Cast of "Samantha Spade, Ace Detective"8. Why did you want to write Samantha Spade, Ace Detective in a film-noir genre? What do you like about this style of entertainment? I love these characters. I love how they are so tough and stylish. They lie all the time, but the detective always sees through them, and then they are completely brazen about being liars. Plus I loved the idea of putting a black-and-white movie on the stage, just using the magic of sets, costuming and lighting.

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

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a writer/lyricist? I've heard it said that every artist tells the same story over and over again. My stories always involve a misfit girl who finds her place in the world by learning to be herself and finding her unique voice. I guess that's me. But I also think that's everybody.

BONUS QUESTION:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I'd love to be able to fly.

Lisa ShapiroMore on Lisa:

Lisa had her first musical, Princess Phooey (music by Eric Rockwell) produced at TADA! Youth Theater in 2008, selling out its run and garnering rave reviews. Other playwriting credits include the hit comedy Labor Pains, a Comedy in Nine Months, which played a sold-out premiere run at the Victory Theatre in Los Angeles and has been produced regionally. Labor Pains was also a finalist in the New American Comedy Festival and a Backstage West-DramaLogue Garland Award nominee. Aces Wild, Lisa’s first full- length play, premiered at Theatre Geo in Hollywood, winning awards in the FutureFest national play competition, the Jane Chambers Playwriting Competition and the Writer’s Digest Competition. Lisa’s play...and Into the Fire has been workshopped Off-Broadway at Urban Stages and performed as a staged reading at Naked Angels in New York and at the West Coast Ensemble and the Victory Theatre in Los Angeles. Her high-school tour show, The End of the Story, also received a workshop production Off-Broadway at TADA! Youth Theater.

CC

Tuesday
Apr152014

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with the cast of Greed

"Call Me Adam" went behind-the-scenes to New World Stages in NYC to interview the cast and writer, Michael Roberts, of the new Off-Broadway musical Greed: A Musical For Our Times. Find out about the creation of the show as well as why the show is so much fun to perform in! Greed: A Musical For Our Times plays at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street). Click here for tickets!

For more on Greed be sure to visit http://www.greedmusical.com and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

Call Me Adam's Video Interview with the cast of Greed:

Michael RobertsMore on Michael Roberts:

Michael Roberts is the author, composer and lyricist of the hit Off-Broadway comedy GOLF: THE MUSICAL. After its critically-acclaimed 2003-2004 Off-Broadway run at the John Houseman Theater, there continue to be dozens of national and international productions. In the nine years since it's New York debut, GOLF has been revived Off-Broadway twice, and has played in twenty-five US states, and in five countries on four continents, from Japan to New Zealand and Scotland. Recently there have been new productions in Texas, Canada, and Finland. He is a two-time recipient of the ASCAP PLUS AWARD for his work in musical theater.

He is the composer and lyricist for the Off-Broadway musical, THE FARTISTE, which won the award for Best Musical at the 2006 Fringe NYC Festival. A successful run Off-Broadway in the 2011-2012 season was followed by a concert performance at The Charing Cross Theatre on London's West End.

His newest musical, (again with FARTISTE collaborator Charlie Schulman), The Goldstein Variations, made its concert debut at the JCC in Manhattan in May, 2008 and has since been produced at American University and in concert at NYC's Abingdon Theatre. It is being prepared for an Off-Broadway opening in 2014. Michael’s Thanks for the Memories, a one-man show about Bob Hope featuring two-time Tony-nominee Joel Blum, received its premiere at Peoria's Prairie Theater in 2006, with a second production in Marin, CA in 2010. He was, for fifteen years, the composer/lyricist and music director for The Broadway Kids, which had a successful run at The Lambs Theater in 2005-2006, and returned to Off-Broadway at New World Stages in December, 2008.

Michael composed the incidental music for 2007's MY SECRET GARDEN at New York's 45th Street Theater, and The Storm Theatre's TIDINGS BROUGHT TO MARY (2009). He also arranged incidental music for the Off-Broadway hit JEWTOPIA.

Michael’s music for the screen includes independent films, documentaries and features, including Tri-Star’s Love Walked In, starring Dennis Leary, and the multiple-award-winning Lemonade Stand. His music for television includes four seasons as a composer for the Emmy-Award-Winning sitcom Remember WENN. Additional television credits include music for ABC, CNN, ESPN, The Golf Channel, and Bravo. As a music director, he has collaborated with Donna Murphy, Rupert Holmes, Richard Kind, Leslie Gore, Hinton Battle, Stephanie Mills, Peter Noone, Bobby Sherman, Joan Rivers, and The Capitol Steps, as well as numerous stage productions. Michael was a nominee for a 2012 Broadway World Award for his work in musical direction.

James DoneganMore on James Donegan:

James appeared Off-Broadway in three editions of FORBIDDEN BROADWAY and on two albums (the Rude Awakening and Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab editions). His CD So Much Spring is available on iTunes. You can also take singing lessons with James (jamesdonegan.net), or he can design your website (jamesdidit.net).

Julia BurrowsMore on Julia Burrows:

Julia is recently back in New York from starring as "Magnolia" in SHOW BOAT with the Central City Opera Company performed at the beautiful 2800 seat theater of The Buell in Denver. A few favorite credits include playing "Marian" in THE MUSIC MAN opposite Peter Scolari at Ogunquit Playhouse; "Lori-Beth" in HAPPY DAYS produced by Garry Marshall at Goodspeed Opera House and Papermill Playhouse and appears on the Original Cast recording; "Cornelia" in PIRATES! at Papermill Playhouse; Company at Reprise! L.A. starring Judith Light and Christopher Sieber; "Darla" in VITAL SIGNS at the Off-Broadway Theater At St. Clements; Les Miserables at Northern Stage; and "Millie" in a concert version of THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE directed by Susan Egan. Julia has performed in many concerts, workshops and readings in New York. To keep updated on Julia, you can visit JuliaBurrows.com.

Neal MayerMore on Neal Mayer:

Neal Mayer recently returned to New York after performing across the U.S. with the national tour of PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT. Neal’s New York credits include the Broadway company of LES MISERABLES and such Off-Broadway shows as FORBIDDEN BROADWAY, BUSH IS BAD (CD), PLAISIR D'AMOUR, and WALMARTOPIA. In addition to the national tour of 101 DALMATIONS (directed by Jerry Zaks), he has appeared at numerous regional theaters such as Arena Stage, Goodspeed, North Shore Music Theatre, Ivoryton Playhouse, Skylight Opera, Weston Playhouse, the Schoolhouse Theater, and the Bushnell. Favorite roles include “Malvolio” in TWELFTH NIGHT, “Harding” in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, “Mendel” in FALSETTOS and “Fagin” in OLIVER! Neal’s television credits include Blue Bloods, All My Children, and numerous sketches on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Neal is happy to reunite with Michael, Chris, and Eric, after previously appearing in GOLF: THE MUSICAL.

Stephanie D'AbruzzoMore on Stephanie D'Abruzzo:

Stephanie D'Abruzzo is best known for her Tony and Drama Desk nominated performances as "Kate" and "Lucy" both off and on Broadway in AVENUE Q, for which she also received a Theatre World Award and a special ensemble award from the Outer Critics’ Circle. She has also graced the New York stage in TOM FOOLERY and THE MAD SHOW (for the York Theatre’s “Musicals in Mufti”), LOVE AND REAL ESTATE, IT MUST BE HIM, STUFFED AND UNSTRUNG, GRAVID WATER at Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre, DON'T SAY ANOTHER WORD, PLAISIR D'AMOUR, IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE AND OTHER STORYBOOKS, I LOVE YOU BECAUSE, and CARNIVAL (Encores!), among others. Regional credits include [title of show] at St. Louis Rep and the world premiere of KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY MUSICAL at the Kennedy Center. She has appeared in countless benefits and concerts, including Jim Henson’s Musical World and Skitch Henderson’s New Faces of 2004 (both at Carnegie Hall) and Stephen Sondheim’s 75th birthday celebrations in New York and at the Hollywood Bowl. Her TV work ranges from 21 seasons of "Sesame Street" to the musical episode of "Scrubs." She is the product of Pittsburgh, PA and Northwestern University. More information available at: stephaniedabruzzo.com.