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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Lyrics & Lyricists (5)

Monday
May222017

Call Answered: Conference Call: Bryce Pinkham & Lauren Worsham: 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists + A Gentleman's Guide To Love & Murder

Bryce Pinkham and Lauren Worsham, Photo Credit: Walter McBride"Stop! Wait! What?" I'm getting to interview Tony Nominees Bryce Pinkham & Lauren Worsham whom I LOVED in the Tony Award winning musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder! With "Poison in My Pocket," I got Bryce & Lauren to open up about GGLAM antics and reuniting for the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists series From Camelot to California: The Worlds of Lerner & Lowe!

Scotland, California, Covent Garden, Paris, Camelot — lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe evoked entire worlds in their groundbreaking musicals. Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Gigi and Camelot all were conjured by the Old World Austrian Loewe and the Harvard-educated American Lerner. Rob Berman, music director of the New York City Center Encores! series and recent Broadway musicals Dames at Sea, Bright Star and Tuck Everlasting, makes his Lyrics & Lyricists debut as artistic director for an entrancing show that revels in their romantic songs, from "Almost Like Being in Love" to "I Could Have Danced All Night."

From Camelot to California: The Worlds of Lerner & Lowe will take place June 3-5 at 92Y (Lexington Avenue & 92nd Street). Click here for tickets!

For more on Bryce follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

For more on Lauren visit http://laurenworsham.com and follow her on Twitter!

For more on 92Y visit http://www.92y.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer?

Bryce Pinkham: My parents were called into a parent/teacher conference in the first grade in which the teacher begged them to find their son a stage other than her classroom. To this day, that compassionate, patient and apparently prescient teacher remains a friend of the family.

Lauren Worsham: My mother inspired me to become a performer. I was a bit of a class clown and a troublemaker, always seeking attention. My mother put me in theater programs as a child in order to channel some of that attention-seeking energy into something positive. It worked. :)

Bryce Pinkham backstage at the 2014 Tony Awards2. This June you are going to be part of the the 92Y's Lyrics & Lyricist concert series featuring the music of Lerner & Loewe. What is it about their music that made you want to be part of this particular concert series?

Bryce Pinkham: The style of the music from their period seems to suit my voice. They also understood how to write really complicated characters. Who else could have turned a George Bernard Shaw play into a musical? Also, I really wanted to work with Rob Berman; he is a brilliant mind and an all-around nice guy.

Lauren Worsham: Truth be told, I would giddily be a part of any project involving Rob Berman and Chase Brock. I've worked with both Chase and Rob on different gigs. I've done two shows with Rob through NY City Center Encores!: -  Where's Charley and Big River. Chase choreographed my rock band's piece "The Wildness" at Ars Nova when I was 7 months pregnant. The gorgeous music of Lerner and Loewe is icing on the collaboration cake!

3. What do you think will excite and surprise 92Y audiences about this concert?

Bryce Pinkham: I'll be singing "Eliza Doolittle" songs in drag, I expect that will be a surprising for some and exciting for others.

Lauren Worsham: I cannot imagine a better group of individuals to put on a show. I also know the majority of them personally. Lilli and I played opposite each other in The Wildness and Bryce and I played opposite each other in A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder. I think those personal relationships help to fast track our team to dig deeper more quickly. I also know that Rob's knowledge of the musical theater canon is vast and I cannot wait to see how he puts everything together

Bryce Pinkham in Madagascar4. One of the songs being performed is "Almost Like Being In Love." When scenario has happened to you that made you feel it was "Almost Like Being In Love"?

Bryce Pinkham: Well, I've never gone hunting with a buddy in Scotland and met a girl from a mysterious disappearing village, so maybe a better question would be "Have you ever allowed someone else's life to mean more to you than anything else?" To which my answer would have to be: I am trying to constantly find ways to make other people (particularly strangers) lives' better. A good friend and I went to Madagascar and built a theater show with 14 at-risk kids whose language we didn't speak. In the process, we rediscovered why the performing arts have great potential to change lives. We were also reminded how by placing one's attention on someone else one can reconnect to their humanity, that pure empathic generator that show-business so often clouds with ego and shrouds with fear. Watching 14 children who had never seen a stage before ultimately perform a show they created for their own community in their native language and subsequently receive applause from their entire village...that was almost like being in love. Your readers can learn more about our project at www.zaraaina.org.

Lauren Worsham: If you take the song just at its title - I'd say I've felt that way every time I travel to a new city and experience the romance of vacation! Which matches nicely with the musical it comes from - Brigadoon. Traveling to a new city can feel like traveling to a new world! I think the song is trying to say that the protagonist actually IS in love, he's just not ready to say it yet. I think the last time I felt that was when I first fell in love with my husband.

Lauren Worsham and her husband5. Another song on the roster is "I Could Have Danced All Night." When have you had that feeling in your own life?

Bryce Pinkham: I love dancing, but I also love sleep. So I can safely say that I have never had that feeling in my life. *Please Note: This is one of the songs I will be singing in drag ;)

Lauren Worsham: The night that GGL&M won the Best Musical Tony Award, I most definitely could have danced all night!! Also, my wedding night! And bizarrely, the night I gave birth to my daughter. When something that exciting happens - it's hard to let go of that energy. 

6. If you could star in any revival of a Lerner & Lowe show, which one would you like to star in?

Bryce Pinkham: "King Arthur" in Camelot...in a few years time

Lauren Worsham: My Fair Lady!

Lisa O'Hare, Bryce Pinkham, and Lauren Worsham in the Tony Award winning musical "A Gentleman's Guide To Love & Murder"7. Let's play with the title of Lerner & Lowe's "Paint Your Wagon." If you were to "Paint Your Wagon," what would your painting represent?

Bryce Pinkham: Authenticity and the constant search for it in myself and others.

Lauren Worsham: Ummmm....If I'm traveling across the country in the wagon I would like for it to say something important politically. Maybe, This country was built on immigrants! Or Respect each other! 

8. Now, let's talk about the two of you for a moment over these next two questions. You both starred on Broadway together in the Tony Award winning musical, A Gentleman's Guide To Love & Murder. What are you most excited about in performing together again?

Bryce Pinkham: Anyone who gets to sing with Lauren automatically sounds better for it. This will be the fifth time I have said yes to singing with Lauren and that's no mistake. I made my Carnegie Hall debut with her (a night of Gilbert and Sullivan), she even let me come sing with her badass rock band and now I will be lucky enough to work with her after she's become a mom, so that's going to be special. Lauren is delightfully authentic and always comes in with many more ideas than me. I will always say yes to singing with her whenever I can.

Lauren Worsham: I'm really looking forward to hearing Bryce just sing. He has a lovely voice and I miss it.

Lauren Worsham and Bryce Pinkham at the 2014 Drama Desk Awards9. What was one of the funniest moments to happen to you on stage during Gentleman's Guide?

Bryce Pinkham: When Jefferson Mays and Joanna Glushack used to inadvertently spray Lauren, Lisa and I with saliva across the dinner table. You never knew where it was going to land and sometimes it landed in very funny places and we would have a hard time not losing our collective minds. Very good times those were indeed.

Lauren Worsham: Oh, mostly a lot of stuff involving bodily fluids - spit and sweat and snot. Nothing pretty. One time though, someone stepped on my train and I fell to my knees mid-song. It's very hard to get up from the floor in a corset. I didn't stop singing though!

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day?

Bryce Pinkham: I want to spend 1% less time every day in front of my screens. I dare your readers to take a whole subway ride without looking at their phone. I try to talk to a stranger once every day - mind you - not in a creepy way, just in a way that reminds me that we have the ability to connect with each other despite having nothing in common. We humans used to depend on each other to fill the void we all feel. Nowadays we increasingly fill that same void with time interacting with machines. I think we are losing our ability and quite frankly, our desire to talk to each other. I hate to break it to you folks, but a Facebook friend is not a friend. A text is not a conversation. With respect, this isn't even an interview, I just typed out the answers on my computer and sent them back in an email. We didn't even talk*.  I understand why we depend so much on our machines, and what we stand to gain from them, but I think we have to consciously spend more and more time away from them if we want to find what I think we are all desperately looking for: genuine connection. 

*A Note from Bryce: Adam graciously offered to talk over the phone, but because of time constraints I chose to answer his questions in email form.

Lauren Worsham: I think it would be nice to improve my nap schedule by 1%. Being a new parent is exhausting!!!

Bryce PinkhamMore on Bryce:

An American stage and screen actor, Bryce Pinkham is most widely known for originating the role of "Monty Navarro" in the Tony Award Winning production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, for which he was nominated for a Tony, Grammy and Drama Desk Award. He also notably appeared in the Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles as "Peter Patrone," for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance in 2015. His other Broadway credits include original roles in Holiday Inn, Ghost and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

Bryce's television appearances include as a series regular on the second season of PBS’ Civil War Drama Mercy Street, guest appearances in Baz Lurman's Netflix series The Get Down and Robert DeNiro's feature film The Comedian as well as The Good Wife (CBS), and Person of Interest (CBS).

As a singer Bryce has performed in concert venues across the country, most notably Carnegie Hall, Chicago Lyric Opera, Lincoln Center and The Library of Congress.

As a writer, Bryce has published articles on acting, performing and education in American Theater Magazine, Yale Alumni Magazine and others.

In 2012 Bryce helped found Zara Aina, an NGO that uses the power of theatrical storytelling to empower at-risk youth. In May 2013, Bryce led a team of American artists on Zara Aina’s pilot program to Madagascar. Bryce is also a frequent collaborator with Outside the Wire, a social impact theater company that serves many communities but particularly focuses on military audiences. His most notable international tours include Guantanamo Bay, Japan, Kuwait, and Qatar.

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Bryce was awarded the Leonore Annenberg Foundation Early Career Fellowship in 2012. Bryce holds a BA from Boston College and an MA from the Yale School of Drama.

Lauren WorshamMore on Lauren:

Lauren Worsham is a Tony-nominated actress and singer. She was nominated for a Tony and won Drama Desk and Theatre World awards for the role of "Phoebe" in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (2014 Tony winner for Best Musical). Most recently, she was seen in New York City Center’s gala production of Sunday in the Park with George. Other favorite roles include "Lisa" in Dog Days at Montclair Peak Performances, Fort Worth Opera and LA Opera for director Robert Woodruff; "Flora" in Turn of the Screw at New York City Opera for Sam Buntrock; "Amy" in Where’s Charley? at Encores! for John Doyle; "Cunegonde" in New York City Opera's Candide, and "Olive" in the first national tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Lauren performs frequently in concert at Carnegie Hall, 54 Below, Joe's Pub, Caramoor, Merkin Hall, Oregon Bach Festival, Galapagos Art Space and New York City Opera's VOX. Lauren placed second in the Kurt Weill Foundation's Lotte Lenya competition. She’s co-founder and executive director of the downtown opera company, The Coterie, and is a founding member of the band, Sky-Pony.

Monday
Mar132017

Call Answered: Nancy Opel: "Urinetown", 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists' "Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and The Women of the American Songbook"

Nancy Opel"Who rules the world? Girls!" Throughout history, or should I say, herstory, we have had many strong female songwriters. Most of my iTunes consists of songs written and performed by woman. When I saw the 92Y was going to be showcasing the music of Dorothy Fields and other women lyricists' of the American Songbook as part of their Lyrics & Lyricists' series, I couldn't wait to see who would be part of this concert. Then I saw the cast list (Marilyn Maye, Kenita Miller, Nancy Opel, Margo Seibert and Emily Skinner) and was like, "This is going to be one heck of a concert."

I loved Nancy Opel in her Tony-nominated turn in Broadway's Urinetown. She really brought the laugh in laughter to that role. I have gone on to enjoy her in Memphis, Cinderella, and Honeymoon in Vegas. My favorite Nancy Opel moment was just this past February when I got to briefly interview her during Billy Mitchell's Villain: DeBlanks at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. We had a great time together, so it's super exciting to get to do a more in depth interview with her now for the 92Y's latest Lyrics & Lyricists' concert series entitled Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and The Women of the American Songbook.

Led by Dorothy Fields, Baby, Dream Your Dream will also include such pioneers as Betty Comden, Carolyn Leigh and Mary Rodgers whose work earned them an indelible place in the American Songbook alongside their more visible peers like Berlin, the Gershwins and Cy Coleman. Their timeless classics range from "The Way You Look Tonight," and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," to "Witchcraft," On the Town and Once Upon a Mattress.

Baby, Dream Your Dream will take place at 92Y (1395 Lexington Avenue, 92nd Street & Lexington Ave.) from March 18-20! Click here for tickets! 

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

For more on 92Y visit http://www.92y.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. This March you are you are starring in the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists' Baby, Dream Your Dream: Dorothy Fields and The Women of the American Songbook along with Marilyn Maye, Kenita Miller, Margo Seibert, and Emily Skinner. What are you looking forward to most about this upcoming concert? I love doing an all female show, especially with this sensational collection of gals. I’ve been a fan of Marilyn Maye’s for many many years (I snuck into the Kansas City Playboy Club when I was a kid to see her show there). I’ve worked very happily with Ms. Skinner and I look forward to this go round. Kenita I don’t know well, but we’ve done a bit of work together and I really admire her talent. I just saw Margo in IN TRANSIT and she’s great. PLUS, I have worked several times with our director, Mark Waldrop, and we always have a good time.

2. What do you think will excite 92Y audiences about this show? Well, it’s great, and I mean GREAT material - it’s an interesting grouping of points of view since it’s not a concert featuring one writer’s lyrics.

3. How did these female composers influence you? If you have been in show business for 15 minutes, you’ve sung one of these women’s lyrics, just runs the gamut on well known and significant.

4. Of the songs you are performing, which one did you jump up and down over that you are getting to sing? I am both thrilled and terrified to do "If You Hadn’t But You Did."

5. This concert is sort of a coming home for you in that songs from one of the show's featured is On The Town, which you starred in as "Madame Dilly" at Barrington Stage. Whether or not you are performing one of the songs from On The Town in Lyrics & Lyricists, how do you feel you relate to that music now as opposed to when you were starring in the show? I loved ON THE TOWN and since I sang very little when in the cast, I got a chance to enjoy and admire it back then. It’s an amazing show then and now.

Nancy Opel as "Bea Singer" in "Honeymoon in Vegas"6. Since this installment of Lyrics & Lyricists is called Baby, Dream Your Dream, what is one dream you just had to pinch yourself over that came true? What is one dream you still hope manifests for you? I’ve had a bunch of pinching moments, haha. I guess a couple of obvious ones are first Broadway show (Evita), first Sondheim show (Sunday in the Park), and Tony nomination. What do I still hope for? Well, I guess, continuing to do relevant and exciting work is all I really hope for now.

7. One of the songs being performed is "The Way You Look Tonight." Growing up, how did you feel about "The Way You Look Tonight" and now that you are an adult how has that view changed? Genius tune with equally genius lyrics. I thought so the first time I hear Fred Astaire sing them, I still do. I think the thing I understand now is that that kind of perfect pairing of music to lyrics is a pretty rare combination. It’s one of the most romantic songs in the world, especially because of all the specificity, like "and that laugh that wrinkles your nose - touches my foolish heart."

8. Another song on the show's list is "Witchcraft." If you could conjure up a spell, what you kind of spell would you cast? Give everybody great free healthcare. Bibbity-bobbity-boo!

Nancy Opel as "Penelope Pennywise" in "Urinetown"9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I am trying to improve my health every day, too! My commitment is to cook more for myself, and to cook healthy food- mostly vegetarian and vegan for the planet!

10. Since we met during Billy Mitchell's "Villain: DeBlanks," I want to revisit the question I had asked you that evening because I loved your answer and I want more people to hear it. You're big number in Broadway's Urinetown was "The Privilege to Pee". Was there a time during the show or rehearsal or since then that you laughed so much you peed? I can't believe that you would ask a woman of certain age, whose been pregnant, and had children, if there was time she has peed.

Nancy OpelMore on Nancy:

A singer, actress and teacher, Nancy Opel was born in Prairie Village, Kansas, and trained at Juillliard. She made her Broadway debut as a "Person of Argentina" in the original 1979 production of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s Evita, and in the later run was the replacement for the leading role. In 1985, she originated the roles of "Betty" and "Frieda" in Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George. After appearance as the replacement for "Hope Harcourt" in the 1987 revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, Nancy played "Eleanor" in Teddy & Alice, a musical that drew upon the relationship between Teddy Roosevelt and his daughter as well as on the music of John Philip Sousa.

Nancy was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance as "Penelope Pennywise" in Urinetown. Other Broadway appearances include Triumph of Love, Fiddler on the Roof, Memphis and Cinderella. She performed the roles of "Mazeppa" and "Miss Cratchitt" in the Encores! staged concert of Gypsy in 2007. That same year, she played the title character in the first national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone. She was nominated for the 2015 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical for Honeymoon in Vegas, in which she played the ghost of the lead character’s mother.

Nancy's television credits include the Law & Order franchise, Flight of the Conchords, and other shows.

Friday
Feb102017

Call Answered: Lewis Cleale: Book of Mormon + 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists: Let's Misbehave: The Sensational Songs of Cole Porter

Lewis ClealeI love the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists series. They always have the best artists perform! In this next installment, I got to interview Book of Mormon's Lewis Cleale who is returning to the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists series in Let's Misbehave: The Sensational Songs of Cole Porter, which will be taking place Saturday, 2/11 at 8pm, Sunday, 2/12 at 2pm & 7pm, and Monday, 2/13 at 2pm & 7:30pm at the 92Y (1395 Lexington Avenue, 92nd Street & Lexington Ave). Click here for tickets!

"Night and Day," "I’ve Got You Under My Skin," "You’re the Top": Behind Cole Porter’s famous wit and sophistication lay an artistic genius’s mastery of the American popular song. How did this wealthy scion from Peru, Indiana thwart familial legal-career expectations to join Berlin, Loesser, and Sondheim on the very short list of iconic composer-lyricists? Artistic director David Loud leads a stellar Broadway cast — Allison Blackwell, Lewis Cleale, Nikki Renee Daniels, Rebecca Luker and Matthew Scott — through Porter’s most exquisite creations, including songs from such smash-hit shows as Anything Goes and Kiss Me, Kate.

For more on Lewis be sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on 92Y visit http://www.92y.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. This February you are performing in 92Y's Lyrics & Lyricists concert featuring the music of Cole Porter. What made you want to be part of this month's show? What are you looking forward to about performing with Allison Blackwell, Nikki Renee Daniels, Rebecca Luker and Matthew Scott? I have been performing in the Lyrics and Lyricists series since 1994. My first appearance was with Nancy Lamott and Kitty Carlisle and KT Sullivan and it actually led to my getting cast in my first Broadway show, because our musical director for that program was the famous Peter Howard. Peter is a Broadway Legend who did the dance arrangements for not only Swinging on a Star, which was my first show on Broadway but for Cabaret, Crazy for You, Chicago and on and on and on. I've known many of the cast members in our current show for a long time and they’re some of my favorite singers around. Nikki Renee Daniels and I have been doing the Book of Mormon together for a while now. And finally the host, narrator, arranger and man-about-town David Loud is singularly one of the most talented people in our business. His arrangements are spectacular and always a great joy to sing.

2. What do you think 92Y audiences will love about this installment of Lyrics & Lyricists? What will surprise them? David Loud, in addition to entertaining the audience with the beautiful music, also will give a great deal of insight into the construction of the music from a musical and lyrical standpoint. Many of the songs everyone knows, but when you break them down and you look at the mechanics behind the songs as David will show you, it's quite fascinating.

Lewis Cleale performing at 92Y "Lyrics & Lyricists: Getting to Know You: Rodgers and Hammerstein", Phtoo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff3. As a current cast member of the Tony Award winning Book of Mormon what is it like to go from singing those lyrics to performing the music of Cole Porter? I'd say what the writers of Book of Mormon and Cole Porter have in common is a great and devious wit. I personally am fairly devious so it's not a great switch to go from the lyrics of Book of Mormon to Cole Porter.

4. How has Cole Porter influenced you? What was it about his music that you relate to? I wouldn't say I've been influenced by Cole Porter but his music has been a constant through-line in my musical career. I first sang some of the very songs I'm singing now on the stage in college. When you're that young you're singing about things that you don't understand. Now I comprehend a great deal more because of life experience. I would say now as an adult I can relate to the longing for love, loss, lust, wit, sarcasm, honesty, and sheer unbridled joy in some of his lyrics. They are very much alive and relatable even in our modern world.

5. Of the songs you are performing, did you jump up & down with excitement over one of them? If so, which one? I have been singing all of the choruses to "It's De-Lovely" for many years now and it's one of my favorite songs to sing. In fact, I've booked many shows on Broadway and Off-Broadway using the song. So I know it inside and out and it's very joyful to do and it's a very upbeat song and it tells a great story and it ends on a big high note so it's fun to do.

Lewis ClealeMore on Lewis:

Broadway: Sondheim on SondheimSpamalotAmourOnce Upon a MattressSwinging on a Star (Drama Desk nom). Off-Broadway: The FantasticksA New BrainTime and AgainCall Me Madam (Encores!). Tours: Sunset BoulevardSouth PacificMamma Mia! Regional: more than 30 leading roles including Giant (Signature), Passion (Helen Hayes Award), 1776 (Ford’s Theatre, Helen Hayes nom.). Recordings: Infinite Joy: The Songs of William FinnEncores From Encores!Myths and HymnsGreat MusicalsCall Me MadamAmourOnce Upon a MattressSwinging on a Star. Film: Frozen.

Tuesday
Dec232014

Call Answered: Conference Call with David Loud & Noah Racey: 92Y's Lyrics & Lyricists: A Good Thing Going: The Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince Collaboration

Noah RaceyDavid Loud"Call Me Adam" chats with Artistic Director David Loud and Actor/Choreographer/Director Noah Racey about putting together the opening show of the 45th Season of Lyrics & Lryicists. This year's opener is A Good Thing Going: The Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince Collaboration which will play at the 92nd Street Y from January 10-12 and feature a host of Broadway talent singing selections from the 1970-1981 partnership of Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince, taking the audience behind the groundbreaking musicals CompanyFolliesA Little Night MusicPacific OverturesSweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along.

Scheduled to appear are Broadway's Kate Baldwin, Heidi Blickenstaff, Liz Callaway, James Clow, Jason Danieley, and Jeremy Jordan. Click here for tickets!

For more on the 92Y be sure to visit http://www.92y.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

1. From January 10-12, 2015, you are opening the 45th Season of the 92Y Lyrics and Lyricists series with A Good Thing Going: The Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince Collaboration. How did you two come to work together on this concert event?

David Loud: Noah and I have been friends since Curtains, the Kander & Ebb show that David Hyde Pierce starred in on Broadway. Noah was one of the leads and I was the Conductor, and our dressing rooms were on the same floor. You learn a lot about people when you are constantly encountering them in various stages of undressedness. We had a wonderful two years. Everything about that show was joyful and rewarding, so I try to work with people from that particular experience whenever possible. Noah has a great talent for physicalizing a song, and is just as skilled at working with singers as he is with dancers. He also seems to intuit everything I want to communicate, which saves time!

Noah Racey: I met David Loud working on the show Curtains. I was a part of the earlier work shops and readings and then we took it to Los Angeles for our out of town tryout at the Ahmanson Theatre and then through our year and a half run at the Hirschfeld theatre. He asked me a few years ago to stage a concert he was putting together and we have continued to work together in that capacity ever since.

2. How did you decide to start the 45th season off with this show?

David Loud: My previous shows at Lyrics & Lyricists were focussed on two terrific composers who are not exactly household names: Burton Lane, who had several major Broadway scores but never quite ascended into the Richard Rodgers - Irving Berlin - George Gershwin - Cole Porter pantheon, and Vernon Duke, an amazing and virtually unknown artist who had flop after disappointing flop, despite the fact that each of his scores contains a few remarkable songs. Both projects were the results of many months of research and arranging, and I loved doing them. For this season, Artistic Director Deb Winer asked me if I wanted to do something "a little less off-the-beaten-path," and I came up with the idea of a Stephen Sondheim show that was different from other Sondheim revues I’d seen or worked on: one that dealt specifically with the shows he created with Director/Producer Harold Prince. I do love the fact that for the Lyrics & Lyricists audience, a Stephen Sondheim evening is considered more "mainstream"…

Noah Racey: I think the obvious reason is that in our industry, for Lyrics & Lyricists, you can't find a more prominent, creative force than Stephen Sohdheim. Ever since his work on West Side Story in 1957, where he established himself as a leading voice in the new vanguard of Musical Theatre writers, he has been at the forefront of the art form in terms of musical sophistication and emotional depth in story telling. It makes perfect sense to have an evening that celebrates the work of the two men who brought those stories to life.

3. What excites you about being the premiere show of this special season?

David Loud: Nothing. It means I have less time to prepare and that I’ll spend all of Christmas orchestrating.

Noah Racey: It's exciting to take part in such a well established series. The audiences for Lyrics & Lyricists are extraordinarily knowledgeable about the material, they tend to know the work very intimately, so you feel at every point in rehearsal that they will recognize and appreciate the intricacies and detail you strive for in staging or interpreting the songs.

Jeremy Jordan4. How did you pick the performers for the evening: Kate Baldwin, Heidi Blickenstaff, Liz Callaway, James Clow, Jason Danieley, and Jeremy Jordan? What excites you about working with them?

David Loud: I’ve worked with all of them before, and they are each truly extraordinary. Great voices, of course, and heavenly to work with, but they also have that essential ability to interpret a lyric in a way that’s fresh and clear. Sondheim songs often require the performer to feel contradictory emotions simultaneously, or to exist in an undecided state, or to change one’s mind in the middle of a thought. They’re complicated and particular and demanding, and I needed singing actors who could do that. How lucky am I to have assembled this astonishingly talented group of artists, each of whom said "yes" within minutes of being asked?!

Noah Racey: The beauty of working with David Loud is that the best of the best say YES! when he asks them to join us. And the man knows EVERYBODY! I have had the honor of staging quite a few concerts with him, and through that work I have learned to trust him completely when it comes to choosing which voices he wants to sing each of the pieces. So, to answer the first question, I did very little!

What excites me about working with these people? EVERYTHING. These 6 performers are supremely gifted, to pick one of their characteristics to praise is to overlook their most valuable asset...versatility. One of the wonderful things about this kind of concert is that it is an opportunity for the performers to do such a wide variety of work, in many instances much more than would be asked for in a typical show. And that is why having these particular actors is such joy. They all bring an astounding array of colors and energies to the table for us to pick from and to round it all out, their vocal chops truly can't be beat. Versatility is the definitely the ingredient that excites me most.

David Loud5. How did you decide which songs you were going to feature in the concert?

David Loud: Well first I wrote down all my favorite songs from the six shows they did together, but the 92nd St. Y, apparently, is not interested in producing a five-hour concert, so I had to cut a few. I wanted to pick songs that illuminated the essence of each of the extraordinary pieces that they collaborated on, and, of course, once the cast was set, I wanted to tailor it to them, as well. And I try to find an emotional arc for the whole evening…it becomes quite a jigsaw puzzle.

Noah Racey: Two parts popular demand, two parts personal affection. And then a healthy dose of what does Mr. Loud want to play with?

6. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending this evening?

David Loud: A deep appreciation of the six wildly different shows that comprise the Stephen Sondheim/Harold Prince collaboration. As the Artistic Director of this evening, my goal is to make you hear songs that you may think you know as if you were hearing them for the first time, and to try to explain why I think they’re so extraordinary.

Noah Racey: An appreciation not only for the talent and craft of Steven Sondheim, but for the extraordinary collaboration of these two men, because above all, Musical Theatre is a collaborative art form, it is at it's best when it is the melding of ideas between artists.

Bernadette Peters, David Loud, Parker Ease, Stephen Sondheim, and John Doyle at the closing night party of "A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair", Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter Keddy7. How have Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince influenced each of you? 

David Loud: When I was 18, I was cast in the original Broadway production of Merrily We Roll Along. I was already a huge fan of Sondheim’s work, and the opportunity to be a part of a new show that he was creating with Harold Prince was, well, many things: thrilling, intimidating, challenging, heart-breaking…to watch these great craftsmen working on the show — writing, re-writing, editing, re-staging — for five weeks of previews was the greatest crash-course in Musical Theatre ever offered.

Noah Racey: Their work sets the bar for me in terms of emotional depth in lyric, Musical sophistication, and theatrical storytelling/conflict construction. Musical Theatre as an art form has been undergoing a steady transformation from simple music hall sketches and Vaudeville fun to elaborate, thought provoking, daring, exciting and substantial theatre; and it has been ushered forward through these changes and transformations by artists who asked more of it. Steven Sondheim and Harold Prince did just that, they asked more of the people who gathered together to share stories, they asked more of the music and the ears that would hear it; more of the subject matter and the minds that would digest it, more of everyone involved. We should aspire to do the same, ask more of each other.

Noah Racey performing8. If you had to pick your favorite song and show that they produced together, which ones would you choose?

David Loud: Impossible, of course, to choose an absolute favorite, but the duet at the end of the first act of Sweeney Todd, "A Little Priest" has always been on my list of major miracles. Funny, macabre, a beer hall waltz with impossibly clever lyrics that illuminates the entire British class system while playing rhyming games and furthering the story. It doesn’t really get any better than that.

Noah Racey: For over all score I have a huge affinity for Follies. I played "Buddy" in college (complete with bald-pate) and the first revival at the Belasco was my Broadway debut. I love the romance, the sense of nostalgia and desperate yearning to reclaim, the love letter to performers, all of it, it's my personal favorite of his scores. For a single song I would have to say "Weekend In The Country." The entire sequence is just breathtaking.

9. What has been the best part about working together? What have you learned from each other?

David Loud: Noah and I seem to have identical taste, which is hard to find in a collaborator. And he often will come up with an off-the-wall staging idea that would never have occurred to me — one that fulfills the song theatrically in a way that a more pedestrian choice would never have achieved.

Noah Racey: Finding people to work with where you can actually watch yourself growing is one of the most exciting aspects of working in theatre. So much of what we do is a question of taste, and you only discover that taste through an attention to detail. When you find people to collaborate with that mirror or compliment your sense of taste...well, that's everything to me. And then there's the fact that everybody is in love with him! David is one of those examples of the best of the best not bringing any kind of unnecessary "starch" or defensiveness to the creative table, his work speaks for it's self. It's no wonder he and John Kander get along so beautifully. For all the refining and searching we did in constructing Curtains it all felt like taking deep, relaxing breaths.

In working with David, I have learned so much about the art form of Musical Theatre. How inseparable all of it is; the staging, the lighting, the intro, the lyric, the melody, the tempo, the interpretation of all of it, it all must work in tandem. And for all of the pearls of wisdom he has given me (and there have been many), when someone as established and accomplished as David defers to your direction and takes constructive criticism from you, you are given the invaluable gift of learning to trust yourself.

Noah Racey tap dancing10. What's the best advice you've ever received?

David Loud: Do what you love. And if your gut tells you something, follow it.

Noah Racey: Do your homework.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

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

David Loud: Time travel. Is that a super power? I want to go back to the thirties and see a Gershwin show on Broadway!

Noah Racey: The dancer in me insists that it be the ability to fly.

12. If you could be any original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be?

David Loud: Pep-O-Mint.

Noah Racey: Probably raspberry.

13. If you could have a song written about your life, what are some key elements you would want to make sure the lyricist wrote into the song? For example, I've had two theme songs written for me...one for my past radio show and one for a live interview series I used to conduct. The key elements I wanted to make sure got written into each theme song was that I did entertainment interviews and then the lyricists wrote my theme songs around that idea.

David Loud: How lucky I am that my friends are my collaborators and my inspiration.

Noah Racey: It's about rhythm and timing, and letting go into the mystery.

14. How do you want to be remembered?

David Loud: As a good musician.

Noah Racey: Fondly.

David LoudMore on David:

David Loud has frequently collaborated with Stephen Sondheim. Among his many credits, Loud was the onstage pianist of the original Broadway production of Merrily We Roll Along, music director of Broadway’s Sondheim on Sondheim, and music director of A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair, a collaboration between Sondheim and Wynton Marsalis and starring Bernadette Peters at the New York City Center in 2013. For the 2011/12 Broadway season, David was both musical supervisor of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and conductor of the incidental music for Death of a Salesman, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Among his other Broadway credits, he was music director of the original productions of Ragtime, A Class Act, Steel Pier and The Look of Love, and the revivals of She Loves Me, Company, The Boys from Syracuse and Sweeney Todd. This past November David was music supervisor for the world premiere of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s Little Dancer, directed by Susan Stroman, at the Kennedy Center. He also has the distinction of simultaneously serving as a cast and artistic staff member of two Broadway shows: Terrence McNally’s Master Class, in which he played "Manny" and was musical supervisor; and Kander & Ebb’s Curtains, in which he played "Sasha" and was music director.

Noah RaceyMore on Noah:

Noah Racey, a performer, director, choreographer and educator, made his Broadway debut in the 2001 revival of Follies, and has since appeared in Thoroughly Modern Millie (for which he was also associate choreographer for Rob Ashford’s Tony Award-winning choreography), Never Gonna Dance and Curtains. Noah’s directing and choreographic work has been seen regularly in the Town Hall’s Broadway by the Year series, and for its 2007 summer Broadway Festival production of All Singin’! All Dancin’! He recently starred in Holiday Inn at the Goodspeed Opera House. Noah is founder and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed New York Song & Dance Company.

Tuesday
May202014

Call Answered: David Zippel 92nd Street Y Lyrics & Lyricists: Panning for Gold: Great Songs from Flop Shows

David ZippelCall Me Adam chats with Tony Award winner, two-time Oscar and Grammy nominee, and three-time Golden Globe nominated lyricist David Zippel about being showcased for the fifth time in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series from May 31-June 2. Entitled Panning for Gold: Great Songs from Flop Shows, this edition of Lyrics & Lyricists will feature the talents of Brent Barrett, Lorna Luft, Christiane Noll, Jessica Lea Patty, Lillias White, and Tony Yazbeck. Click here for tickets!

For more on 92nd Street Y visit them at http://www.92y.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Lillias White1. Who or what inspired you to become a lyricist? My parents took me to see The Music Man in a tent in the round when I was 7 or 8 years old and that began my love affair with the theater. From then on I listened to every cast album I could get my hands on and that is what ultimately inspired me to be a lyricist.

Brent Barrett2. From May 31-June 2, you are once again being featured in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series. What are you looking forward to most about this show? This show will be a bit different than previous shows. Because there will be so many different lyricists and composers, it will be much more eclectic. And because it is comprised of songs from musicals that were not, initially successful, I am hoping the show will be filled with surprises. The title is Panning for Gold, but if you will allow me to mix my metaphors I am hopeful that the audience will feel that they have discovered diamonds in a coal mine.

Lorna LuftTony Yazbeck3. This is your fifth time being featured in the 92nd Street Y's Lyrics & Lyricists series. What does it mean to you to be featured so many times? I, of course, feel honored to be invited back. When I was a kid the Sunday Times was my link to the theater and reading about Lyrics and Lyricists made me eager to be in the audience. It wasn't until after I finished college and law school and moved to NYC that I actually got to be there in person. But, I had a collection of cassette tapes of great lyricist’s shows from the Lyrics & Lyricists series including Alan Jay Lerner, Yip Harburg and Sheldon Harnick (who was one of my heroes and is still one of my heroes and now my friend, too). There are so many things I am looking forward to. The audiences share my enthusiasm for the American Songbook and Broadway so I always look forward to reconnecting with them. Also, the Lyrics & Lyricists series is a magnet for great singers. I always know that when I ask them to join me there, if there is any way they can make themselves available, they say yes. And, of course, the team at the 92nd Street Y and the Lyrics & Lyricists staff are always so welcoming. I look forward to working with them, again, too.

Christiane Noll4. What do you like about having your music performed in this space? The theater is beautiful, the audiences are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and the singers are always terrific. What could be more fun?

5. What do you hope audience members come away with after seeing the show? I hope they will appreciate that even in works of art that don't receive critical accolades or find popular acceptance there can be great elements. And I hope they will leave feeling thoroughly entertained.

Jessica Lea Patty6. What are you looking forward to most about having this talented cast perform your music? This cast is made up, mostly, of friends and all are performers whose work I admire. I tried to choose songs that would excite them and also show off what makes them unique. Since I get to pick the songs it's like having some of my favorite singers sing some of my favorite songs. My hope is that the audience will enjoy it as much as I will.

BONUS QUESTION:

7. You have received a Tony award (City of Angels), two Oscar and Grammy nominations ("Go The Distance" from Hercules and "Reflection" from Mulan), and three Golden Globe nominations (Hercules, Mulan, and The Snow Princess). What is it like to get this kind of recognition for your work? It feels really good. And it brings a little more attention to your work which is also wonderful. It allows you to hope that you will be able to keep working which is best of all.

David ZippelMore on David:

One of the most acclaimed and sought-after lyricists working today – and one of the few contemporary songwriters to have achieved success on Broadway, in Hollywood, and in the pop music world – David Zippel has won the Tony Award (City of Angels, his Broadway debut), two Oscar and Grammy nominations ("Go the Distance" from Hercules, a #1 hit for Michael Bolton; "Reflection" from Mulan, featured on Christina Aguilera’s multi-platinum debut album) and three Golden Globe nominations (Hercules, Mulan and The Snow Princess). His Broadway credits also include The Goodbye Girl (written with Marvin Hamlisch and Neil Simon), The Woman in White (with Andrew Lloyd Webber, for which he garnered a Tony nomination), the musical stage version of Wendy Wasserstein’s bestselling children’s book, Pamela’s First Musical, written with Wasserstein and City of Angels collaborator Cy Coleman, and special material for Liza Minnelli’s Tony Award-winning Liza’s at the Palace. David is also an Oscar nominee for the animated Disney movies Hercules and Mulan and more recently wrote the lyrics for "The Star-Spangled Man" featured in the film Captain America: The First Avenger. This is David's fifth Lyrics & Lyricists appearance. He hosted two shows celebrating Cy Coleman; was one of three host-subjects for The New Breed, a show focusing on new lyricists; and served as artistic director for It Started with a Dream: David Zippel – Lyrics He Wrote, Lyrics He Wishes He Wrote.