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Entries in Michael Feinstein (6)


Call Redialed: John Epperson: An Evening with Lypsinka's Maid at Feinstein's/54 Below

John EppersonI first spoke with John Epperson, a.k.a. Lypsinka! last summer when he was gearing up to present LYPSINKA! THE BOXED SET, but due to an injury he had to cancel the run of the show. Now, he's all healed up and taking the stage at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) from January 20-23 in a new show An Evening with Lypsinka's Maid!

In this rare cabaret appearance, we get to meet the face and man behind Lypsinka with an evening of light-hearted standards and lesser-known theatre songs. He will tell anecdotes about some of the famous and infamous he's encountered along his show biz journey. Click here for tickets!

For more on John as Lypsinka be sure to follow on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Lypsinka, Caricature by Stefano Imbert1. It's great to catch up with you John! Last time we spoke, you were about to do LYPSINKA! THE BOXED SET, but due to an injury you were not able to do the run of the show. When you injured yourself, were you ever afraid that you might not perform again? I was very afraid at first that I might not be able to play the piano again. What happened was I had the flu that was going around NYC late April/early May, 2015. I was on my way to my doctor for the second time that week! I was walking because his office is only 9 blocks away. I said to myself, "At least you can stand up straight and try to look like you're not sick." So I held my head and chest up, and the next thing I knew I was toppling forward because I had stepped in a sidewalk pothole almost exactly the shape and size of my shoe, and I wasn't looking down. I fell on several parts of my body and had various injuries, including bad swelling of my left hand. I didn't break a bone, I sprained a ligament, which can be worse. It took a long time to heal.

2. Now you are performing a very special show at Feinstein's/54 Below from January 20-23 entitled An Evening With Lypsinka's Maid. What made you want to reveal the man behind the persona for this show? Lypsinka first became successful in the 1980s and ever since then people think I can't do anything else. But I also play the piano and sing. And I can actually talk and tell a story! So I want people to know that I am multi-talented and not a guy who ONLY lip-synchs in a dress! This is also one of the selfish reasons I was recently in ONCE UPON A MATTRESS.

3. What do you think will surprise fans most about this show? The above! And that I am a vulnerable human like everyone.

John Epperson, Photo Credit: Walter McBride4. What is the hardest part about being "Lypsinka's maid"? Keeping track of all the bits and pieces.

5. What is one story you can share with us that won't be in the show? I know a hilarious story about Nancy Reagan, but maybe I shouldn't say it. Maybe it isn't true! But it sure is funny.

6. If Lypsinka were to come to this show, how do you think she would like it? She would like it through a martini haze.

7. You are a classically trained pianist, which you will be playing during this show. What initially made you want to become a pianist? Let's clarify. I won't be playing classical music in this show. My older sisters studied piano and I would watch them and listen to them. One day I just sat down and did it. My mother was impressed and took me to my sisters' formidable teacher. I took to it and blossomed. As I look back, I realize one of the reasons I loved it was, it gave me an identity. It also gave me escape. And later it gave me real adventure and a way to finance my Lypsinka career.

Lypsinka backstage at "Once Upon A Mattress"8. What does playing the piano give you that performing as Lypsinka does not? The Lypsinka lip-synched performances are "cold and artificial" in nature which is part of their appeal. Playing the piano and singing is a "warmer" experience.

9. If you had to do it over again, would you have gone the same route you went? There are some days, some moments, where I think I would not have. But hindsight is 20/20. There are some moments when I regret not having more formal training for musical theatre, which my niece is getting now. On the other hand, by not having formal training, and by not pursuing a traditional career, perhaps I created something unique.

10. On "Call Me Adam," I have a section called "One Percent Better" where through my own fitness regime, I am inspiring people to improve their life by One Percent everyday. If you could improve your life by One Percent Everyday, what would you improve? I always try to be kinder to people, even though I know some people are not always kind to me. NYC is not known for its kindness, but there are pockets of it. (I am not always successful, admittedly.) I also try to be generous as much as I can be. Not always with money, but in other ways. Now, as for my own fitness regime, it's not going to get done while I sit at this computer answering your questions! Thank you!

John EppersonMore on John:

John Epperson was born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, a long way from the exciting worlds in which LYPSINKA travels: movies (Witch Hunt with Dennis Hopper, Darren Aronofsky’s Black SwanWigstock: The MovieAngels In AmericaKinsey,Another Gay MovieAnother Gay Sequel); television (HBO specials Sandra After Dark with Sandra Bernhard, andDragtime; George Michael’s video Too Funky, PBS’s The United States Of Poetry and special features on the Mommie Dearestand Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? DVDs); fashion (appearing in the Paris, Tokyo and Los Angeles shows of haute couture designer Thierry Mugler, modeling for Valentino, Pauline Trigere, Barneys New York, and launching lines of cosmetics for Prescriptives, MAC, and Isabella Rossellini); advertisements (The Gap, LA Eyeworks, Naya Spring Water, Ilford Film); theater, including I Could Go On Lip-Synching!The Fabulous Lypsinka ShowLypsinka! Now It Can Be Lip-SynchedLypsinka! A Day In The Life (New York Theater Workshop, two Drama Desk nominations, including Most Unique Theatrical Experience; revived in 1993 Off-Broadway at The Cherry Lane Theatre), Lypsinka! As I Lay Lip-SynchingLypsinka Must Be Destroyed!Lypsinka IS Harriet Craig!Lypsinka! The Boxed Set (2001 Drama Desk nomination, Washington, D.C. Helen Hayes Award win for Outstanding Non-Resident Production / Outstanding Lead Actor nomination, wins for Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Best Sound Design and L.A. Weekly Theatre Award for Best Solo Performance); and special events (such as Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly, on Broadway with Bette Midler, Elaine Stritch and Patti LuPone, and London’s Meltdown Festival curated by Morrissey).

LypsinkaFormerly a rehearsal pianist at American Ballet Theatre, John’s theatrical career was launched in the mid-1980s when he wrote the book, lyrics and music of Ballet of the Dolls and Dial "M" For Model at La Mama ETC. The year 1999 brought Epperson’s dramatic stage debut in Messages for Gary at The New York Fringe Festival. In 2004 John appeared Off-Broadway in The Roaring Girle with The Foundry Theatre. The same year he was the subject of a stage festival at DC’s Studio Theatre, which included his autobiographical piece John Epperson: Show TrashAs I Lay Lip-Synching, and his play, My Deah: Medea for Dummies, the Medea tale set in The New South. Also in 2004 Epperson played "The Stepmother" in the New York City Opera production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater. The play My Deah opened in an Obie Award-winning production Off-Broadway in October 2006 and is now published and licensed by Samuel French. His acclaimed Off-Broadway show The Passion of the Crawford, a fantasia on the personality of Joan Crawford, toured to California, Florida and Washington, D.C.

LypsinkaLypsinka launched the 2007 Spring collection of MAC Cosmetics centered around the Barbie doll. Epperson’s version of James Kirkwood’s infamous play Legends! was produced at Studio Theatre in DC, Summer 2010. In 2014 in New York City, John devoted himself to a unique challenge for a solo performer by performing three of his shows in repertory under the umbrella title LYPSINKA! THE TRILOGY. John and Lypsinka are the subjects of an Emmy-winning television documentary for PBS. He provided the preface for the Rizzoli photo bookPersona, and is the author of a new screenplay Happy Everything. John has also written for The Guardian (U.K.), The New York TimesThe Washington Post and Interview and The Daily Beast.


Call Redialed: Ann Hampton Callaway: The Hope of Christmas: Ann Hampton Callaway Sings The Songs of William Schermerhorn

Ann Hampton CallawayWilliam SchermerhornLightening struck twice and Christmas came early as I had the chance to catch up with multi-platinum selling artist and Tony nominee Ann Hampton Callaway just months after our first interview together! This time around we are talking about her new holiday CD The Hope of Christmas: Ann Hampton Callaway Sings The Songs of William Schermerhorn, a new collection of Christmas songs interpreted by Ann with lyrics by two-time Emmy Award winner William Schermerhorn, and featuring twenty-nine of the world’s best jazz musicians! To purchase The Hope of Christmas click here for iTunes and click here for Amazon!

For more on Ann be sure to visit and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

1. This October, you are releasing a new holiday CD entitled The Hope of Christmas, which features the lyrics of William Schermerhorn plus two original songs composed by you and featuring William's lyrics. How did William come on your radar and after you found out about him, when did you go, "I need to interpret his lyrics"? Then, how long after that did it take for you and him to come up with and record The Hope of Christmas? Bill Schermerhorn, as he is known by those close, has been a dear friend of mine for many years. I have enjoyed singing his songs on projects like The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when I performed his Emmy winning song "Yes, Virginia (There is a Santa Claus)." One day, Bill took me took me to lunch and discussed his plans for a recording of his holiday songs. At first I advised him to consider having several vocalists record these songs since they were so versatile in style and range. But he said he wanted my voice to deliver them and that they would be tied by the bow of a great producer, Marty Ashby, who envisioned this as a jazz recording. I was surprised because I hadn't heard Bill's songs in jazz settings before and it made me love the idea even more. We soon got together and played through many songs of Bill's with Marty to narrow the list down to what would work best in my voice and on a jazz CD. As each song came up, we came up with ideas of how to do them in fresh ways - new tempos, feels and arrangements. After much work, the CD was completed in full in about a year from that lunch and I am happy to say it has exceeded my expectations.

2. Why did you want to title the CD The Hope of Christmas? Bill chose the title and I agreed that the message of our song was the prevailing spirit of our CD. Ironically, the song advocates the spirit of Christmas lasting throughout the year and this seems like the kind of CD some people might enjoy all through the year. I am known to sing and play Christmas songs on hot July days. Why should we share the spirit of goodwill and brotherhood only in December?

Kari Strand and Ann Hampton Callaway3. After you decided to make this album together, when did you realize that you wanted to take your collaboration one step further and write not one, but two new songs with him? What was the best part about writing your new songs "The Hope of Christmas" and "Fly With The Angels" with William? I'd never written with Bill before and loved both lyrics he gave me to set. It heightened the intimacy of the CD to bring my own musical spirit to these songs and they resonate from my heart in a special way. The message of "The Hope of Christmas" is my underlying philosophy of life so I am grateful to have given it musical expression. Bill and I both got married to our partners last year so he wrote a song to honor Dan and Kari to celebrate being joyous newlyweds. I'll never forget sitting down at the piano at Barnes and Noble's performance space before my Sarah Vaughan CD signing and recording my first improv to "Fly with the Angels." The words evoked so much feeling in that moment that most of the music I improvised became the song. Later, recording it to Marty's exquisite guitar with my trio was a joy. I hope people slow dance to the song and hold each other close - Christmas can be such a romantic time.

4. In addition to William's lyrics, you are also interpreting the music of several great composers including Michael Feinstein, Matthew Sklar, Mary Ehlinger, Milton Delugg, Stephen Fox, and Wesley Whatley. What did you like best about recording their music with William's lyrics? It was wonderful having such a variety of songs to sing. I always say my favorite color is the rainbow. This CD has a spectrum of many moods and each of these fine writers brought a color that enhances the fullness of the listening experience and the experiences we go through at Christmas time. How many holiday CDs have sambas, bossa novas, waltzes, gospel, Dixieland and more?

Ann Hampton Callaway5. The Hope of Christmas CD also features 29 of the world's best Jazz musicians. What was it like to sing with so many accomplished Jazz musicians? It was like walking in the studio and seeing a tree full of presents every day. I couldn't wait to unwrap the songs and see what these amazing artists would bring to them.

6. What is it about the Jazz genre you like performing? Jazz is about being in the moment. And about people coming together to share that moment with heart, soul and a highly sophisticated language. What I love about jazz is that it's the perfect balance of freedom and form. We had to work hard to prepare the form and then let go in the moment so the freedom could make its magic. It was a lot of fun.

7. Aside from "I Believe," I love and admire that you are releasing an original Christmas CD. What made you want to release a Christmas CD of original music and not feature any mainstream Christmas songs? When I was invited to record this CD for Bill, I was excited to introduce new songs and images to the season. There are hundreds if not thousands of recordings of only a handful of holiday songs. I'd already recorded my CD This Christmas for Angel Records, a holiday CD with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops and numerous guest appearances on other holiday CDs. It was our hope to delight and move people with something fresh and full of surprises. Bill's lyrics tell stories both traditional and contemporary and hopefully some of these songs will touch a chord with mainstream audiences like Bill and Wesley's "I Believe."

8. What made you want to record this CD on the MCG Jazz label? It was Bill's choice to record on this label, and it turned out to be my great fortune. Bill was able to interest MCG in the project and working with Marty Ashby, his brother Jay and the whole team was an absolute dream.

9. All proceeds from The Hope of Christmas CD go directly to support the MCG Jazz program and its mission to preserve, present and promote jazz. What was it like to record this album knowing all the proceeds were going towards this program? This makes me so happy. MCG's philanthropic generosity is in perfect alignment with the spirit of "The Hope of Christmas." The very essence of the title song and this recording is to remind people of the opportunity to give, to love, and to be compassionate to each other all year through. That is exactly what MCG does. If more people and businesses learned from this model, imagine what a lovelier place the world would be.

Ann Hampton Callaway performing at Feinstein's/54 Below10. How does The Hope of Christmas represent what Christmas means to Ann Hampton Callaway? The title song I wrote with Bill is the spirit of how I try to live each day of my life. The entire CD reflects gratitude, joy, playfulness, reverence and love - qualities I hold dear - so it feels like a very personal offering from my heart to the hearts of all the people listening.

11. What is your Christmas wish for this holiday season? I hope this CD will bring much happiness to people, I always wish for peace - an elusive goal but one worth trying to attain through consistent acts of kindness and respect. I wish for good health to my family and to all families. It's been a challenging year so the preciousness of life and living it to the fullest is very much on my mind.


Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway on "The View"12. Christmas in New York is a very special time of year. What is your favorite thing to do during the holiday season here in New York? I love walking through NY and seeing all the great holiday windows at Macy's, Barney's and Saks 5th Ave., seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center and people ice skating in the park. It's lovely to get together with friends, sing, laugh, toast the season. And nothing is better than singing around the piano on Christmas Eve and Day, with Liz and my family as our mom Shirley leads us into classics like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "The Hallelujah Chorus."

13. What's your favorite holiday foods to have? Our family recipe of oyster stuffing is tops. Oh, and is Veuve Cliquot a food????

Ann Hampton CallawayMore on Ann:

Multi-platinum selling & Tony nominated singer/songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway has written over 250 songs, including the theme to the hit TV series The Nanny and multi-Platinum hits for seven of Barbra Streisand's recent CDs. The dynamic vocalist keeps a heavy touring schedule performing at PACs, theatres and jazz festivals all over the world. The past two years, Ann has taken the symphony world by storm with her award-winning tribute to her legendary mentor with The Streisand Songbook, which she premiered with The Boston Pops and continues to tour nationwide, along with her more recent, riveting tribute to the great American vocalist Sarah Vaughn (From Sassy to Divine: The Sarah Vaughan Project). Callaway's starring role in the jazz Broadway musical Swing! earned her a Tony nomination and The Theater World Award. Ann was also one of the show’s co-creators. Her music and lyrics have been performed and recorded by Barbra Streisand, Carole King, Liza Minnelli, Patti Lupone, Michael Feinstein, Blossom Dearie, Peter Nero, Karrin Allyson, Donna McKechnie, Harvey Fierstein, Lillias White, Barbara Carroll, Amanda McBroom and Liz Callaway.

The Cole Porter Estate officially recognizes Ann Hampton Callaway as the only composer to have collaborated with Cole Porter, having set her music to his posthumously discovered lyric, "I Gaze In Your Eyes." Callaway's performances have been seen on numerous TV shows including The Today Show, CNN's Larry King Live, The Charlie Rose Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, and ABC News. She starred in Midnight Swing for the PBS television special Live From Lincoln Center and was featured in another PBS special with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops. She has also been a featured performer on the NBC Special Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular and NBC’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Her voice has been heard in numerous TV jingles and voiceovers including spots for Coca Cola, Ethan Allen and State Farm. Ann has also done extensive broadcasting for Sirius Satellite Radio as a performer, DJ and interviewer. She is in discussion about hosting a TV talk/variety show for singers and singer-songwriters. She has garnered an unsurpassed fourteen awards from The Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs, two Backstage Bistro Awards, The 2005 Nightlife Award, The Johnny Mercer Songwriter Award and The Norman Vincent Peale Award For Positive Thinking.

Ann devotes much of her time to philanthropic causes, both as a singer performing in numerous benefits and as a songwriter composing songs in times of need. Ann resides in New York and lives by the creed best expressed in the Andre Gide quote: "Art is the collaboration between God and the artist and the less the artist does, the better."

William SchermerhornMore on William:

William Schermerhorn (lyricist) is a two-time Emmy Award-winning songwriter. As VP/Creative Director for Macy's Parade & Entertainment Group, he has developed original material for performers as diverse as Idina Menzel, Kermit The Frog, Audra McDonald, The Charlie Daniels Band, Whoopi Goldberg, Walter Cronkite and The Texas State University Strutters. He won a Daytime Emmy Award for the song "Yes Virginia (There's A Santa Claus)" with composer Wesley Whatley and a second consecutive Daytime Emmy Award for "(Won't You) Join Our Parade" with composer Doug Katsaros. He received "Outstanding Original Song" Daytime Emmy nominations for the Christmas song "I Believe" (Wesley Whatley, music) and "Jolly Dream Pirates"(Michael Feinstein, music).

William SchermerhornPast project highlights: a musical adaptation of Miracle on 34th Street (Wesley Whatley, music); American River Suite, a five-piece musical tone poem (Stephen Flaherty, music); Free to Dream: The Songs of Katsaros & Schermerhorn; My Gift of Thanks, a benefit event for The Actors Fund; "And That's The Way It Is" (Michael Feinstein, music). Current projects: Swing Wings, a WWII musical (Milton Delugg & Mary Ehlinger, music), Macy's Yes, Virginia: The Musical (Wesley Whatley, music).

Bill is a member of The Dramatists Guild, Inc. and a graduate of The College of William & Mary. He was born on the 4th of July.


Call Redialed: Standard Time with Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall: Beyond the Rainbow: Celebrating E. Y. "Yip" Harburg

Michael Feinstein, Photo Credit: Marc Bryan-Brown"Call Me Adam" catches up with multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer Michael Feinstein! This time around we talk about Michael's March 25th concert at Carnegie Hall, Standard Time with Michael Feinstein: Beyond the Rainbow: Celebrating E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. Click here for tickets!

For more on Michael be sure to visit and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. On March 25, you will be performing at Carnegie Hall. What are you looking forward to most about returning to Carnegie Hall? What is it like to perform there now? For this particular concert, we are going to be in Zankel Hall, which is part of a three-shift series I do at Carnegie Hall every season. I play Stern auditorium about every 18 months and then do this series which focuses on tributing different musical themes and subjects that are close to my heart. I think this concert saluting "Yip" Harburg will be a great one. I think everybody that plays Carnegie Hall has the feeling they have to be at the top of their game and it's a heightened experience knowing what has gone on there before. There is also a certain kind of reverence that is shared by everyone onstage and off from the crew to the staff.

In 1978, I was 22 years old and I sang two songs as part of a Gershwin concert and I remember being very excited about that. I was speaking to Lauren Bacall, who was a close friend of Ira and Leonore Gershwin and she said, "Michael, you're going to sing at Carnegie Hall" and I said, "Yes, but I don't know where I go from there." She said (in that centurion voice), "Straight down." She was right because it was a number of years until I got near the Carnegie Hall stage again, but since then, I've had the opportunity to perform there multiple times.

It's still a great thrill for me to perform at Carnegie Hall. It's like a home away from home for me. Performing at Carnegie Hall is also a bit of a full circle experience because my great uncle was the oldest member of the stage hand's union and all the stage hand's were friends with him. So, when I first performed at Carnegie Hall, all those guys knew me and some of them are still there all these years later, so it's very special for me to see them still.

2. This particular concert is celebrating lyricist E.Y. "Yip" Harburg. What made now the right time for you to celebrate his music with a concert dedicated to his music? "Yip" is somebody I knew thanks to Ira Gershwin (Ira and "Yip" were classmates in school). "Yip" is somebody who is not celebrated enough even though his songs are well known. He's in the pantheon of lyricists and recently having gotten the 3D release of The Wizard of Oz, it reminded me just how important his work is to contemporary culture. As a result of that viewing, I felt this was a good time to celebrate him again.

Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall3. When did you initially connect in with "Yip's" music where it made you go, one day I want to do a concert of his work? Well, certainly, like everyone, at least in America, I knew The Wizard of Oz from the time I was a kid. I really became aware of Harburg when I was in my teens and started listening to other show music. I initially met "Yip" at my first Carnegie Hall concert because "Yip" spoke that night about his friendship with the Gershwins. Then I reconnected with "Yip" when I started working for Ira Gershwin around 1978. So this concert is a very full circle moment for me.

4. Joining you on stage with be the talents of Nancy Anderson, Malcolm Gets, and Catherine Russell. What are you looking forward to most about performing with them? There all consummate artists, all great interpreters of these songs and they mine the gold from the lyrics in these songs. They are three very unique talents and different in their vocal sound, the range, the approach, and their sensibility, but they all have a deep appreciation of "Yip" Harburg's work. I think it's the perfect combination of styles for "Yip" who was a musical chameleon.

Michael FeinsteinMalcolm I met many years ago and he's going to do some comedic songs which he does very well and he's going to play the piano and accompany himself on one song. Catherine Russell is a great Jazz singer who is firmly rooted in the American Songbook, so she has more of a connection to lyrics than a lot of other jazz interpreters. Nancy, to me, is the embodiment of being able to channel the essence of the Golden Age of song interpreters by approaching the songs with what I call "deceptive simplicity" and making them sound au courant.

5. What made you want to have Tedd Firth on Piano, Sean Smith on Bass, and Mark McLean on Drums? I've worked with all of them a lot and I know they are the finest in their field and will bring great variety to the music. Tedd is doing some fresh arrangements on some of these songs. That's no small feat given some of them are so well known. It will be, what I feel, the perfect accompaniment.

6. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending this concert? A greater awareness and appreciation for the genius that is "Yip" Harbrug.

Michael Feinstein singing, Photo Credit: Zach Dobson7. For someone who is very familiar with E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, what will you bring to this concert to make it your own? My personal relationship with him and giving a sense of who he was as a man and framing the songs with anecdotes that will make them hear them in a different way.

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? When I was recording for the first time, I was with Rosemary Clooney in the studio and she said to me, "Smile honey when you sing. Even though people can't see it on a record, they can hear it."

9. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That the key to the success in anything is being true to yourself.

10. How do you want to be remembered? I can't say that I want to be remembered in that it doesn't matter if I want to be remembered or not. I focus on putting something good in the world and I hope that I've contributed to the preservation of the music that I love.

Michael FeinsteinBONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? If I were choosing a super power for fun, it would be to fly because I have so many dreams about flying. Other than that, the best super power to have would be to lay on your hands and heal people.

12. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? I would call it "Michael's Mojo." It would include Vodka and fresh coconut water (and I don't mean coconut water from a can or preserved in a box), I mean pure, fresh coconut water from an actual coconut mixed with vodka. It has to be the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. It takes the edge off the tartness of the vodka and gives it a sweetness. It goes down really smooth.

Michael FeinsteinMore on Michael:

Michael Feinstein, the multi-platinum-selling, two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy Award-nominated entertainer dubbed "The Ambassador of the Great American Songbook," is considered one of the premier interpreters of American standards. His 200-plus shows a year have included performances at Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Hollywood Bowl as well as the White House and Buckingham Palace.

More than simply a performer, Michael has received national recognition for his commitment to celebrating America’s popular song and preserving its legacy for the next generation. In 2007, he founded the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative, dedicated to celebrating the art form and preserving it through educational programs, Master Classes, and the annual High School Vocal Academy and Competition, which awards scholarships and prizes to students across the country. Michael serves on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage.

Most recently, Concord Records released A Michael Feinstein Christmas. Michael, accompanied by venerable GRAMMY-award winning jazz pianist Alan Broadbent (Charlie Haden, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole), puts his signature stylings on a selection of holiday standards.

Michael earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination in 2009 for The Sinatra Project, his Concord Records CD celebrating the music of "Ol' Blue Eyes." The Sinatra Project, Volume II: The Good Life was released in 2011. His Emmy nominated TV special, Michael Feinstein – The Sinatra Legacy, which was taped live at the Palladium in Carmel, IN, aired across the country in 2011. The PBS series Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook was the recipient of the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Television Broadcast Award. The series returned in 2013 for a third season, which is now available on DVD. His next primetime TV Special on PBS, Michael Feinstein at The Rainbow Room, aired on New Year’s Eve, 2014. For his nationally syndicated public radio program Song Travels, Michael interviews and performs alongside of music luminaries such as Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Liza Minnelli, Rickie Lee Jones, David Hyde Pierce and more.

His new book, a Los Angeles Times best-seller, The Gershwins and Me, which is combined with a new CD of Gershwin standards performed with Cyrus Chestnut at the piano, was published by Simon & Schuster in October 2012. He released the CDs The Power Of Two – collaborating with Glee and 30 Rock star Cheyenne Jackson – and Cheek To Cheek, recorded with Broadway legend Barbara Cook. He recorded We Dreamed These Days, featuring the Carmel Symphony Orchestra; Feinstein co-wrote the title song with Dr. Maya Angelou.

Michael was named Principal Pops Conductor for the Pasadena POPS in 2012 and made his conducting debut in June 2013 to celebrated critical acclaim. Under Michael’s leadership, the Pasadena POPS has quickly become the nation’s premier presenter of the Great American Songbook in the orchestral arena delivering definitive performances of rare orchestrations and classic arrangements. In June 2014, the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts announced the launch of the MICHAEL FEINSTEIN CONDUCTS THE KRAVIS CENTER POPS ORCHESTRA which sold out 3 shows.

Michael Feinstein conducting Pasadena POPSMichael serves as Artistic Director of the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts, a $170 million, three-theatre venue in Carmel, Indiana, which opened in January 2011. The theater is home to an annual international Great American Arts festival, diverse live programming and a museum for his rare memorabilia and manuscripts. Since 1999, he has served as Artistic Director in collaboration with ASCAP for the immensely popular series at Carnegie Hall, Standard Time with Michael Feinstein. Starting in 2010, he became the director of the Jazz and Popular Song Series at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.

He has designed a new piano for Steinway called "The First Ladies," inspired by the White House piano and signed by several former First Ladies. It was first played to commemorate the Ronald Regan centennial on February 6, 2011.

In 2013 Michael released, Change Of Heart: The Songs of Andre Previn, (Concord) in collaboration with legendary composer-conductor-pianist Andre Previn, with an album celebrating Previn’s repertoire from his catalog of pop songs that have most commonly been featured in motion pictures. The album opens with "(You’ve Had) A Change of Heart." Previn’s work is highlighted with four Oscars and 11 GRAMMY Awards.

In 2005, Michael recorded Hopeless Romantics, a songbook of Harry Warren classics recorded with legendary jazz pianist George Shearing. The previous year, he completed a national tour with songwriting icon Jimmy Webb based on their album Only One Life – The Songs of Jimmy Webb. The disc was named one of "10 Best CDs of the Year" by USA Today.

In 2003, Michael received his fourth Grammy nomination for his release Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his first recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, Rhino/Elektra Music released The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a two-disc compilation spanning the years 1987 to 1996 and featuring old favorites and previously unreleased tracks.

His nightclub, Feinstein’s at Loews Regency, presented the top talents of pop and jazz from 1999 – 2012, including Rosemary Clooney, Glen Campbell, Barbara Cook, Diahann Carroll, Jane Krakowski, Lea Michele, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz and Alan Cumming. The club was closed in December of 2012 due to a year-long complete renovation of the Regency Hotel. Michael opened his new nightclub, Feinstein’s at the Nikko in San Francisco’s Nikko Hotel in May of 2013 and Feinstein’s on Broadway will open at a new location in 2015 and also plans for a future nightclub in London.

His many other credits include scoring the original music for the film Get Bruce and performing on the hits television series Better With You, Caroline in the City, Melrose Place, Coach, Cybil, 7th Heaven and Devious Maids.

The roots of all this work began in Columbus, Ohio, where Michael started playing piano by ear as a 5-year-old. After graduating from high school, he worked in local piano bars for two years, moving to Los Angeles when he was 20. The widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Feinstein became Gershwin’s assistant for six years, which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.

Michael Feinstein with Ira GershwinGershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Michael evolved into a captivating performer, composer and arranger of his own original music. He also has become an unparalleled interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Harry Warren. Feinstein has received three honorary doctorates.

Through his live performances, recordings, film and television appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins, Bob Merrill and Amanda Green), Feinstein is an all-star force in American music.


Steven Cagan: Love Songs: A Musical Interview

From musical director for the First National Company of "Dreamgirls," (starring the extraordinary Jennifer Holliday), to composing, arranging, and conducting for some of the great performers of our time, including Melissa Manchester, Bette Midler, Diahann Carroll, and Georgia Brown, to his work for film, television and Madison Avenue, Steven Cagan has done it all in the music world. He has worked with some of the theatrical giants of our time, including the legendary Michael Bennett, Lester Wilson, Michael Peters, Bob Avian, and Joe Layton. He is a classically trained musician, graduating from the esteemed New College at Hofstra University. His choral works were premiered there, as well as early theater pieces, some performed by his classmate, the late great theater and film star Madeline Kahn. He studied composition with Elie Seigmeister, David Diamond, Lukas Foss and George Rochberg, and arranging with Kermit Levinsky and Tommy Newsom.

Cast of "Love Songs: A Musical"Steven was in the inaugural class of the famed Lehman Engel B.M.I. Musical Theatre Workshop. At the same time, he launched one of the busiest commercial music companies on Madison Avenue. He wrote and arranged many popular jingles for television and radio for Chevrolet, Ford, State Farm Insurance, Coppertone, (which launched Melissa Manchester’s singing career when she was fifteen years old), and many others. Concurrently, he composed a number of ballet scores for Tony-winning choreographer-director Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Theatre Dance Collection. Among his early film assignments was as arranger and orchestrator for Woody Allen’s classic, "Take the Money and Run." Later, his original score for the film "The Cat and the Canary," starring Dame Wendy Hiller, Olivia Hussey, Wilfred Hude-White and Honor Blackman helped make it a cult favorite, and it was recently released in a 'classic package' DVD. He has scored countless TV series and specials, including those with "Spinal Tap," Robert Klein, Michael Keaton, Lainie Kazan and Rob Reiner.

He appeared as a guest musical director on the famed "Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" numerous times. Steven has guest conducted the Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas and Honolulu Symphony Orchestras, the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, the Houston Pops, and others.

Now, Steven is "previewing" his musical "Love Songs" at NYC's famed nightclub Feinstein's at Loews Regency from August 26-30. Starring Ashley Kate Adams, Kevin Spirtas, Debbie Gravitte, Ken Clark, Fleur Phillips and Bryce Ryness and directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, "Love Songs: A Musical" tells the tale of a wedding weekend at a luxury resort hotel. At the outset, the groom is stuck out of town on business and the bride has discovered that she's pregnant, while the other two couples, members of the wedding party, appear to be mismatched and ill-fated. As the piece runs its course, however, all is sorted out. Everything and everyone winds up in proper place for the nuptials. Happy ending!

"Love Songs: A Musical" will play Feinstein's at Loews Regency (540 Park Avenue at 61st Street) from August 26-30 at 8pm. Click here for tickets!

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1. Who or what inspired you to become an author, composer, and lyricist? 1957 I staggered into the Winter Garden Theatre as a young kid and experienced something called "West Side Story" and it changed my life. All I ever wanted to do was move an audience with music and words the way I was moved that day. And I've been chasing the dream ever since.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? That's an interesting question. Pretty much like Sondheim, I'm a self-contained entity. I do my own music, my own lyrics, and my own book. I have worked with other book writers and lyricists in the past and I've found that I am my own best collaborator. I prefer to work alone. There are some great Broadway singers I'd love to hear sing my music like the Marin Mazzie's and Jason Danieley's of this world. I'd love to work with some great theatre directors like the James Lapines'.

3. What made you want to write "Love Songs: A Musical"? The way I work is a textbook case in how not to write a musical. I do things backwards. For me, the process starts with melody, the stringing together of the notes, but I'm a devout melodist, I think that's the ultimate pursuit in musical composition, so if I latch onto a melody that works for me and I think it's worthy then I will try to drape some lyrics around it and turn it into a song. The process with "Love Songs," was I written a few songs and Michael Feinstein had sampled one of them called "Carpe Diem," and I took a step back and said "Okay, these songs fit into an evening." So I conjured up a scheme to continue writing these songs and what came after the melody and lyrics came a concept for book and a concept for characters. Some writers will stagger into a movie house and say "Okay, lets turn this into a musical and sing some of this." My process it completely different. It begins, as I said, with melody.

Me: I like that your process is different than most people. I think that's what makes you special, that you do things differently than everyone else. This show will be my first introduction to your music, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Steven: Well, bless you for saying that. I think after listening to my music and seeing the piece, this conversation will make much more sense to you in retrospect.

Me: Yes, I think so too.

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing "Love Songs: A Musical"? Tunes. I want melodies to stick. I want them to walk out humming the tunes. Remember Richard Rogers and all those guys Jerome Kern and Lerner and Loewe, it was all about leaving the theatre humming the tunes. I don't feel that is what musical theatre is today. I feel it's an E-ride at Disneyland and all about the spectacle, trickiness, and special effects. "Love Songs" is the opposite of that. The prototype for me writing "Love Songs," when I first started working on it, was a piece called "The Fantasticks," which basically is half-a-dozen characters who sing their hearts out and the piece can be done in its most simple form, with just gifted actors singing and a piano without the need for props and sets and costumes and special effects. Just barebones.

At the other end of the spectrum, after this run of "Love Songs" at Feinstein's, I'm envisioning this show in it's full two act form, in a theatre with a chorus, with an orchestra, which is to say this can be done as big or as small as we'd like it and that was all done by design, none of that is accidental. I wanted to make the show as cost effective as possible for anybody to produce it. My dream is that years from now "Love Songs" will be performed at schools and community theatres around the country. I hope it has that kind of life in it. I believe that all depends on the quality of the songs and whether or not they have value. I think they do and Michael Feinstein, God Bless him, is a huge champion of the work, which is why we are doing it at Feinstein's. I should add that, this is very unlike me, there was a very, very long time when I despaired that there was a place on this planet for my music and what I do and now it's quite the opposite, I'm convinced that there is not only a place for it, but a need for it. We need to get back to simple, beautiful, lovely, elegant melodies and words with honest emotion and affection. We'll find out that soon enough whether "Love Songs" has resonance with the audience when it takes off at Feinstein's at the end of August.

5. What excites about debuting some of the songs at Feinstein's? What made you want to have this "preview" of the show at Feinstein's? The quality of the audience. Feinstein's attracts people who are used to good songs. They are used to meaningful melodies and good impactful lyrics. Michael prides himself on having coined the term Great American Songbook and I am privileged and proud that he considers my work to be part of that package. That is his audience and I firmly believe that that is "Love Songs" audience as well.

I wanted the opportunity to get the songs in the air and heard by an audience. One of the greatest frustrations in doing what I do is that unless it's performed it doesn't exist. It's an interpretative art form and it needs voice. Unlike a painter or sculptor, who when finished, can walk away and their work is there. With music/songwriting it's different. If it's not performed, it might as well never have been written. So, just to have been given this opportunity to have my music heard is wonderful. Michael is my hero and I've been so grateful to him for all these years. He's a real champion of my work, so to be able to have this first incarnation at Feinstein's is very special to me.

6. What do you like about this cast that will be performing "Love Songs" at Feinstein's? I love their passion for the work. I've gotten some of the most glorious voices that there are. I am pleased to tell you that I did all the casting myself. In this day and age if somebody mentions a name, we're able to go to Youtube to see these people sing and that is pretty much how I cast this, purely by voice, who could best sing this music of mine. The best part is that everybody is grateful to sing my music because these voices don't get the chance anymore. They don't get to sing such songs. Their enthusiasm is so sky high and that is a reward with in of itself. I love this cast dearly for their commitment to "Love Songs."

Two years ago we had a concert reading of "Love Songs" at The York Theatre, which was directed by Lynn Taylor-Corbett, who will be directing the piece again, and at that performance Robert Cuccioli sang the role of "Roy" for us and Robert was all set to do Feinstein's until two weeks ago when he got the call to go into "Spiderman" and God Bless him that is where he belongs, starring on Broadway. So, I had to reluctantly let him go, but the quality of the voice is what I am talking about, and I was lucky enough to get Kevin Spirtas to take over that particular role. A couple of the performers are reprising their roles from the York Theatre and earlier workshops and they've been dedicated to it and grateful for the chance to sing such music. That comes through in their performance.

7. You have worked with some of the biggest names in music/entertainment: Jennifer Holliday, Bette Midler, Melissa Manchester, and Diahann Carroll, just to name a few. What was the best part about getting to work with these legendary performers? The paycheck. Seriously, the work I did as an arranger/conductor/and sometimes pianist for these artists were very much work for hire. None of that satisfied my need to compose music; they were simply just jobs as if I were selling pianos or real estate. Some of those were more pleasurable than others.

8. While you were attending the New College at Hofstra University many of your choral works and early theater pieces premiered there. Some of the pieces were performed by your classmate, the late, great theater and film star Madeline Kahn. What do you remember most about working with her and what did you learn from working with her? Did you stay in touch with her after college? I learned two things. First of all, I learned how to be funny. Secondly, I learned how to laugh at what's funny. God Bless her may she rest in peace. She was one of the funniest people on earth with one of the greatest funny bones ever. She also taught me how to write for a coloratura soprano, which is what she was. I wrote certain things for her voice that only a coloratura could do, certain vocal enhancements, certain frills, ridiculous melodic intervals, etc. Maddy was up for all of it. She had those kinds of chops.

We did keep in touch after college, through "Blazing Saddles." I had a few friends that were in that movie with her. A couple of my buddies wrote the film. She unfortunately died much too young. The one thing I will always remember is how she kept me laughing.

9. Your music compositions have been featured in national commercials, films, and ballets. What does it mean to you have this kind of success? The truth is I haven't had success yet. I have had some performances, which is lovely, but nothing like success, success. Nobody knows Steven Cagan's music, but I'm hoping "Love Songs" is the success that finally gets my music heard.

Many years ago, I had written a song to Stephen Sondheim, who is my God, if I had a God (I'm an Atheist) called "Pitter Patter," which is an homage to Mr. Sondheim, and I wrote the song and sent it to him and ever since then, we've been writing letters back and forth. I'm hoping he'll come to a performance if he's in town. In his piece "Sunday in the Park with George," there is a song called "Children and Art," and those are the only two things we leave behind on this planet. I hope "Love Songs" becomes my legacy, my "Children and Art." I also hope it empowers me to write more because I need the positive reinforcement and validation of my work for me to proceed with my writing and I'm hoping "Love Songs" does that for me so I can get back to doing what I love, which is writing.

10. What have you learned about yourself from your illustrious career? 

Me: And I do consider it illustrious.

Steven: Well, thank you! I am flattered and honored you think that. What I found out about myself is that I have patience and persistence that I never knew I had. The lack of exposure of my music put me into therapy, rather intensely, and had me considering all kinds of things. I have chased this dream around the block for years and years and years, so learning that I have this patience and persistence in me is very rewarding. It all comes from a belief in the quality of the work and to me it's the quality of everything.

Me: It's good that you have that belief.

Steven: It's required I think. Somehow I have survived all those trials and tribulations and reached a great truth here, so we shall see if the work speaks for itself. That's all I ever wanted, was the chance. Unlike my colleagues, I want people there at this "preview," I want the critics, I want the feedback. I want to know what people think. Some think I'm crazy for that, but I want people to sit in judgment of what I do. I've earned it. I'm old enough and been at it long enough to want to know what the Ben Brantley's think of my work.

11. What's the best advice you've ever received? If you believe in it, persist.


12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I would love to spend some quality time with Leonard Bernstein. He's another one of my heroes. What a genius he was. He left some great music behind. I'm indebted to him.

13. Favorite way to spend your day off? Doing absolutely nothing. Lazing around the house, reading or doing crossword puzzles.

14. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I'd like to be able to fly, particularly living out here in LA with all the traffic. It would be great to just leap of a building and be where you need to be...hahaha.


Tim Di Pasqua

With four Backstage Bistro Awards, seven MAC Nominations, and a New York Nightlife Award, Tim Di Pasqua is a performer to hear. Performing in some of New York's most famous clubs and halls (Birdland, Joe's Pub, Carnegie Hall, The Triad, Don't Tell Mama's, Tavern on the Green), Tim constantly plays to sold out audiences! Tim's show "Purpose of Love-A Tim Di Pasqua Songbook" earned him two of his Backstage Bistro Awards ("Outstanding Singer/Instrumentalist" and "Outstanding Special Performance") while his song "One" garnered his third Backstage Bistro Award "Outstanding Song of the Year" and his group Southern Comfort (comprised of Scott Coulter & Tom Anderson) received the fourth Backstage Bistro Award "Outstanding Duo or Group" as well as the New York Nightlife Award. His recordings include "Monster Under These Conditions," "Purpose of Love - A Tim Di Pasqua Songbook Volume 1," "Purpose of Love - A Tim Di Pasqua Songbook Volume 2," and "Synchronicity." In addition to writing and singing his own music, Tim was the music director and arranger for Jim Van Slyke's critically acclaimed "The Sedaka Show" which was presented at both the Laurie Beechman Theatre and Feinstein's at the Regency. Tim has also performed with five-time Grammy nominee and fellow "Adaumbelle's Quest" participant Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall in Michael's show "Now and Then" as well as performing and accompanying Oscar and Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz in his concert appearances. In addition to his music, Tim is a founding member of Third Eye Theater Company in New York City. For much more on Tim Di Pasqua, be sure to visit

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? I know it's been said 1,000.000 times before.....Joni Mitchell, Stephen Sondheim.

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? Low F or E / High A.

3. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? Joni Mitchell.

4. What's the best advice you've ever received? When you go out on stage.....give your gift!

5. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? I draw cartoon characters.

6. Favorite way to stay in shape? Walking everywhere, yoga, meditation, resistance training, sex.

7. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs when I am working out or wearing something thin/Boxers in bed when my boyfriend is tired, and none at all when he isn't.

8. Favorite play/musical? Musical: "Into The Woods"/"Sweeney Todd." Play: "GlengarryGlenRoss."

9. Favorite website? Anything with nude wrestling.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Superman.


11. What's your proudest moment? I was performing at Carnegie Hall and I was playing a Sondheim song that I had mashed up with another Sondheim song. After the show, there was a knock at the dressing room door and it was Mr. Sondheim. I was stunned and started to rethink the entire evening to remember what I had done and whether he approved. A few days later I received a letter in the mail saying at first he was shocked by the mixing of the vamps and tunes, but that they worked.

12. Who do you consider to be your hero? I don't really have a hero, or that hero gene in me. I get inspired by everyday people, every day.