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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in Musical (5)

Wednesday
Apr022014

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with the cast of Mama and Her Boys

"Call Me Adam" went on location to Sophie's in NYC to chat with 2 out of 3 cast members of the hit Off-Broadway musical Mama and Her Boys, Sarah Kleeman and Steven Baker. Featuring an eclectic mix of music from virtually all genres, this funny and poignant musical explores the dynamic relationship with mothers, sons and families.

Mama and Her Boys plays every Wednesday at 8:30pm at Sophie's in NYC through May 7, 2014 (318 West 53rd, between 8th & 9th Avenue, inside the Broadway Comedy Club). Click here for tickets and be sure to follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

Interview with Sarah Kleeman and Steven Baker from Mama and Her Boys at Sophie's:

Monday
Mar172014

Call Answered: Ben Moss: Arlington Interview

Ben Moss"Call Me Adam" chats with actor, pianist, and musical director Ben Moss about starring in The Vineyard Theatre's production of Arlington alongside Alexandra Silber, with Book & Lyrcis by Victor Lodato, Music by Polly Pen, and Directed by Carolyn Cantor through March 23. Click here for tickets!

For more on Ben be sure to follow him on Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My love affair with performing began when I was given the LEAD ROLE in the 1st grade play (truly, the stars aligned). I was "Freddy the Frog" in ONCE UPON A LILYPAD and I guess I just really found it exciting. Flash forward: after spending a year on tour with SPRING AWAKENING, I went to college and thought I actually was finished with performing. It took about 1 month for me to realize that I needed to be performing to be happy in my life. That cemented it for me.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? That list is WAY too big to even delve into here. Am I allowed to say Meryl Streep? How about Stephen Sondheim? I would love to work with the director John Doyle (SWEENEY TODD with Patti LuPone, COMPANY with Raul Esparza) - as both a musician and an actor, his work is really exciting and presents a great challenge.

3. What attracted you to Arlington? ARLINGTON is a difficult show to imagine reading it on paper, but the depth of the score and the beauty of the words in the libretto really convinced me that this piece was something special and not to be missed. I loved the portrait of this woman and this family that the piece creates, and I think it's incredibly timely.

Alexandra Silber and Ben Moss in "Arlington" at The Vineyard Theatre4. During the show, you are on stage and not on stage at the same time. What is this like for you? Sitting behind a scrim makes it feel like I am in my own little world back there, but I am in plain view for the duration of the piece, so even when everyone is looking at Al, I'm still lurking in the background. It takes a lot of focus to play for an hour but the time really does fly by. Once the train leaves the station you've just got to play until it stops!

5. What is your process like to jump between being the accompanist and having to jump into multiple roles during the show? There's one moment in the show where I come in singing and I always forget that it's going to happen! I do feel as though I'm performing throughout the piece, whether I'm playing or singing as well, so when I need to speak or sing it's really just one more thing my character does at that moment.

Ben Moss and Alexandra Silber, Photo Credit: Alexandra Silber6. What is the best part about getting to work with the amazingly talented and delightful Alexandra Silber? Learning something new from her every day. Getting to see how an incredible actress refines her performance night to night. Remaining amazed that she can actually pull off what she does SEVEN times a week and sometimes TWICE in one day. Mostly, though, I love that I've made a talented and supportive new friend. She is quite truly one of the best.

7. What do you enjoy most about performing at The Vineyard Theatre? The people who work there are incredible! Not only did we have a great team working on ARLINGTON directly, but the whole in-house crew is so supportive and friendly. They're always looking out for us, coming around to chat, just being generally awesome. There is a really special vibe down there and I simply adore it.

Alexandra Silber and Ben Moss in "Arlington" at The Vineyard Theatre8. What's the best advice you've ever received? Woof. I have received so much great advice in my life that this is really hard to choose, but one piece of advice I got when I was auditioning for ARLINGTON was to not to let your own conceptions of yourself stop you from putting yourself out there. I was pretty certain I was wrong for this role, but a fellow actor encouraged me to go in anyways, saying that it wasn't my job to decide that - it was my job to go in there and be so good that they would have no choice but to cast me, even if I wasn't what they'd imagined. Guess it paid off!

9. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Being a performer is all about learning new things all the time (new songs, new lines, new dance moves). It's only in this way of constantly learning and challenging yourself that you grow.

Alexandra Silber and Ben Moss in "Arlington" at The Vineyard Theatre10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? There's a great "This American Life" segment about this question that I highly recommend. Me, personally...I would probably choose the power of teleportation (NOT the power of flight - flying is very flashy). I hate flying. I'd rather just think of being in Bermuda and then open my eyes and be there.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to stay in shape? I've been using this machine called the "Total Body Crossramp" at the gym, whatever that means. I like it. When it's nice out I like running outside, especially along the water!

12. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer briefs. I'm an underwear bipartisan.

Ben Moss in his dressing room at The Vineyard Theatre for "Arlington," Photo Credit: Alexandra SilberMore on Ben:

Ben Moss is thrilled to be making his off-Broadway debut in ARLINGTON. Previous credits include SPRING AWAKENING (1st National Tour), BUNKED! (NY International Fringe Festival, 2010), and various commercials and films. Ben graduated from Harvard University in 2013 with a degree in English, and was the recipient of the Radcliffe Doris Cohen Levi Prize for Musical Theater. As an undergraduate, Ben was a cast member and composer of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and a member of The Signet Society. Ben has worked with composers and directors at the American Repertory Theater, The Public Theater, Prospect Theater Company, Lincoln Center Theater, and New York Stage and Film. He is represented by CESD and is a proud member of Actors' Equity. Unending gratitude to Kimberly Grigsby and Michael Friedman, and love to Mom, Dad, Caroline and Lucy.

Thursday
Jul042013

John Chatterton Interview: Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF)

John Chatterton, created the Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) in 2000, a Midtown alternative to other theatre festivals, as a way to present the finest Off-Off Broadway talent in convenience, comfort, and safety. This year's festival will once again take place at 312 West 36th Street (The Abingdon Arts Complex/Workshop Theaters) from July 15-August 4. For shows and tickets be sure to visit http://www.midtownfestival.org.

Follow the Midtown International Theatre Festival (MITF) on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what made you want to start the Midtown International Theatre Festival? I was publishing OOBR ("the off-off-broadway review") when FringeNYC was founded. One of my writers said, "Someone should start a Midtown Fringe festival." Of course, no one did, so a couple years later I did it. I'm an irrepressible theatrical entrepreneur and can't resist an opportunity.

2. What has it been like to watch the festival grow to what it is today? Stressful? Exhilarating? Satisfying? I knew 14 years ago I was onto something, so I've mainly had to see that I followed my strategic vision without making any fatal mistakes. 

3. What has been the most rewarding aspect of running the Midtown International Theatre Festival? What challenges have you faced over the years? People start businesses with strategic visions that usually prove to be an illusion. I started the MITF knowing that theatre-rental costs were going up faster than inflation, so if I offered producers a chance to mount plays for considerably less than it would cost on their own, I'd be successful. I've been wrong about a lot of things but not this. A successful business plan is intellectually (and financially) satisfying.

The challenges have been to get the capital together every year, manage cash flow, and keep reinventing the company with new people (though our turnover has been a lot less than some festivals). 

4. How do you decide which productions you accept to the festival? What is your favorite part of this process? I have 3 artistic directors who curate the shows. We don't have committees, so I let them choose whatever stirs their passions. I also curate all the one-acts, keeping me in touch with the process. I think this is my favorite part of it. Curating the one-acts is a year-round process, linked to the Short Play Lab (every month in season) and the Midwinter Madness Short Play Festival.

5. What is your future vision for the festival? I want to be bigger than NYMF and at least half the size of FringeNYC. 

6. If you could have any playwright, director, producer, or performer be in the Midtown International Theatre Festival, who would you choose? We've had famous people in the Festival. They've been known to ride roughshod over the rest of us. Next year I want to have a commercial division (a separate venue devoted to 5-6 shows with commercial ambitions), so we'll see. As for any particular person, nah, I'm not going there. A new Stoppard play, maybe. Any of a dozen or so Broadway producers who return my phone calls.

7. In addition to being the executive director of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, you are also a playwright, have produced several Off-Broadway shows, and run a rehearsal/theatre complex. What do you get from these other endeavors that you do not get from being the executive director? All this stuff shares my drive as a theatrical entrepreneur. I was also going to start an entertainment-insurance company, but issues of health intervened. Maybe I'll start a play-publishing company specializing in short plays that have appeared in my festivals.

As for being executive producer of the MITF, what I like about it is I force myself to delegate as much stuff as possible, though I haven't given up curating the one-acts and I'm back as editor of the Festabill and brochure. I like the idea that my only duty after the Festival starts is to see all the plays. It's a blast!

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Don't go into the humanities -- stick with Chemistry!" Unfortunately, I didn't follow it. Seriously, Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends And Influence People." Followed very closely by Robert J. Ringer's "Winning Through Intimidation."

9. What have you learned about yourself from your various careers? I'm observant, clever, patient, flexible, fair, and I can take a punch. Also impulsive, over-confident, too trusting, not the most organized, and incautious.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? X-ray vision. I could be the greatest poker player in the world. But that would be cheating.

More on John:

In 2003, the MITF moved its activities to their current location, the Theatre Building on W. 36th St., where it has been successfully ensconced since. In 2008 the Festival expanded from two theatres in that building to four, at the WorkShop Theater Company and Abingdon Theatre Company spaces. The MITF’s artistic emphasis is on the script itself, and therefore the Festival focuses on effective but minimal production values.

In addition to MITF, John started OOBR ("the off-off-broadway review") in 1993. John has also run a rehearsal studio/theatre complex, Where Eagles Dare; produced Off-Broadway; and is a playwright. He also runs the Short Play Lab and the Midwinter Madness Short Play Festival.

Thursday
Mar222012

John Walton West

As a graduate of Northern Kentucky University, Tennessee Governor's School for the Arts, and the Upright Citizens' Brigade Improvisation program, John Walton West is a performer on the rise. He has been seen in the National Tours and Regional productions of "The Drowsy Chaperone" (Man in Chair), "The Producers" (Carmen Ghia), "Tony" in "You Can't Take it With You" (Florida Rep), "Moby/Coffin" in the American premiere of "Moby Dick! The Musical" (Seaside Music Theatre), "Jack" in "The Importance of Being Earnest," "Treves" in "The Elephant Man," and "Oscar" in "Sweet Charity." 

Currently, he is starring in the hit Off-Broadway production of "NEWSical the Musical" starring Christine Pedi, Michael West, and Christina Bianco and produced by Tom D'Angora at the Theatre Row complex (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Ave). Click here for tickets!

For more John be sure to visit http://www.johnwaltonwest.com.

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My mom directed the annual Easter pageants and dinner theater productions (Bit By a Werewolf, The Butler Did it...Again!) at the First Baptist Church in Huntingdon, Tennessee. These were mounted to help the youth group raise money for their annual "mission trip" to Florida. So I got my start under her evangelical directorial eye.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I suppose now having done Newsical I'll simply respond as Patti LuPone did when I asked her that at a Q&A after her concert - "My Heart Matters", or some such title -  "There's no one left. I've worked with everyone who's living that I care to."

3. What attracted you to "NEWSical the Musical"? I remember being at the audition and the producer Tom D'Angora was in the hallway making COMPLETELY politically incorrect (but hilarious) jokes with perfect strangers. Then when I got in the room with the team it was the same thing...I thought...these people seem about my speed.

I had been familiar with the show for years, and I knew that audiences consistently loved it. I've been a fan of Rick Crom's since I saw him in "Urinetown." He is an absolute genius, and the breadth of his talent is astonishing. The material's great fun; it's one of the only opportunities a performer has to do celebrity impressions without seeming (overly) obnoxiously masturbatory.

4. What has been the best part about being in "NEWSical the Musical"? What is your favorite skit? The fact that audiences have so much fun - that never gets old. I think when people leave they are genuinely thrilled with their choice, and that's always been important to me when deciding what shows to do. Not so much "Is this a juicy role," or "Is this an important artistic achievement" rather, "Will people be exhausted from laughing after seeing this show?" 

Also the the cast, creatives, production staff...and hanging out in the dressing room. Half hour call is my favorite time of day.

My favorite sketch is any one where the other guys do their impressions. Rick's great at writing for them, and the people I share the stage with are the very best at celebrating the idiosyncrasies of the likes of Celine, Larry King, Oprah...the list goes on.

5. What have you learned from working with Tom D'Angora, Christine Pedi, Michael West, and Christina Bianco? From Tom, I've learned temperance. From Bianco, how to stand tall. From Pedi, balance. From Michael, pianissimo.

6. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? If it's a drag show, the initial consultation with the makeup artist where I bring in clips from magazines to show her what I have in mind. In a conventional piece, I would say the meet and greet (everyone's always so fresh!) and the sitzprobe. For this show - which is a little bit of both - the material always changes, so you get a number of opportunities to workshop a number. And the puzzle of how to make things work best for an audience is always fun.

7. Where is your favorite place to rehearse on your own? I'm sorry? You mean...outside of...formal rehearsals? Why would one...

New York is tough obviously. Hard to Justify spending $18 at Pearl to sing through "My Defenses are Down" a couple times before an audition. It makes me miss Tennessee, where I had a big, isolated empty house and a car to practice in. Here invariably it ends up being walking down the sidewalk. I practice in falsetto with the strained logic that because it's softer it will make me seem less weird.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I think the roles in which you're cast give you a great deal of insight into both yourself and how others perceive you. After I kept getting cast in ridiculous and predominantly "surface" shows, it confirmed my suspicions that I was not a very deep person.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? I used to answer this question with what Dixie Carter told me when I was 11: "They don't pay us for the performing. That's what we love to do; we would do it for free. They pay us for the heartache, the rejection. The endless auditions where we're led to believe we're not good enough." But then I compared my paychecks during periods of performing and during periods of unsuccessful auditioning and realized the woman (may she rest in peace) was mad as a hatter.

10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Christine Pedi, performing Angela Lansbury having phone sex (which she does in Newsical). It's the hardest I've ever laughed at anything in my life, so hearing it eight times a week isn't enough. Plus, it's a hilarious dream and an erotic one rolled up into one - two birds!!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to spend your day off? Favorite way to stay in shape? They are one in the same. Crossfit. 

Oh, sorry...I mistakenly thought I was my adopted brother Michael West for a moment (www.michaelwestfitness.com).

12. Boxers or Briefs? I was wearing some underwear the other day that I think was from Wal-Mart in high school, and Rick Crom came into the dressing room while my pants were down (...just another Tuesday) and remarked on my "mini-skirt."

13. Favorite website? Tie between Call Me Adam - I do regularly visit, you know...Newsicalthemusical.net,... and mlb.com.

14. "Glinda" or "Elphaba"? I used to have the biggest crush on Kristin Chenoweth. I mean...c'mon. I literally flew to NYC when I was in college just so I could be there for her Carnegie Hall debut. She was...perfect. But at some point I realized that I had no realistic shot - and now I can't even peruse my copy of "A Little Bit Wicked" without feeling that gaping hole. So...for self-preservation's sake...Elphaba.

Tuesday
Feb282012

Robert Petkoff

Robert Petkoff as "Lord Evelyn Oakleigh" in "Anything Goes", Photo Credit: Joan MarcusRobert Petkoff is an award winning actor who recently completed the run of "Follies" at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, playing the role of "Buddy." Robert's theatrical credits include Broadway's "Ragtime," "Spamalot," "Fiddler on the Roof," and "Epic Proportions." The West End production of "The Royal Family" (with Dame Judi Dench), and Off-Broadway's "Happiness," "More Stately Mansions," and "The Blue Flower." Regionally and on tour, Robert has entertained audiences in "Spamalot," "Tantalus," "Importance of Being Earnest" (with Lynn Redgrave), "Sunday in the Park With George" (After Dark Award), "Hamlet," "Romeo and Juliet" (Jeff Award Nominee), "Troilus and Cressida," and "Complete Female Stage Beauty" (Robby Award).

Robert has also shined in film and television's "Milk & Money," "Loverboy," "Game Day," "Chappelle's Show," "The Good Wife," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: SVU," "Hack," "Quantum Leap," "Married With Children," "Mona," and "Liberace."

Currently, Robert can be seen delighting audiences in Roundabout Theatre Company's Tony Award Winning revival of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" as "Lord Evelyn Oakleigh" opposite Tony Award Winner Sutton Foster (who departs March 11, but the amazingly talented Stephanie J. Block returns to "Anything Goes" on March 15) at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in New York City (124 West 43rd Street, between Broadway & 6th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Robert be sure to visit http://robertpetkoff.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I initially got interested in acting in High School because a girl I had a crush on was into theatre. I thought if I auditioned I could get closer to her. Young men being harder to come by in High School Theatre, I ended up getting cast in all the shows that year and she got cast in none. Didn't get the girl, but fell in love with telling stories on stage. I also had a teacher, Dan Martinkus, who inspired me to look at theatre as more than just fun and games.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I have to say I have been very fortunate to have worked with a lot of actors I have really admired. I have missed out on a couple of chances to work with some directors who I think are great: Jack O'Brien and Daniel Sullivan are two that come to mind right away. I think it would be exciting to work with them.

3. What attracted you to "Anything Goes"? I think what attracted me to "Anything Goes" is that it is a terrific production of a good old-fashioned, classic Broadway musical. With Cole Porter's phenomenal songs that stay with you when you leave the theater. Not to mention the delightful performances or the eight minute long tap dance finale of the first act. It is impossible not to cheer at the end of the title song.

4. What do you identify most with your character "Lord Evelyn Oakleigh"? What I most identify with in the character of "Lord Evelyn" is that his enthusiasm sometimes comes before his understanding.  In the play it leads to comical confusion.  In my own life it usually leads to embarrassment...

5. What has been the best part about performing with this cast every night? I think the best part of performing with this cast every night it that we are all still having fun doing this show. I am also spoiled getting to play and dance with Sutton every night. She is doing a lot of the heavy lifting in this show and yet she is always alive and playful.

6. What do you like about taking over a role as opposed to originating one? Taking over a role as opposed to originating one is tricky. Especially following someone as superb as Adam Godley was in the role. A lot of the choices have been made regarding what the character wants and how he is going to get it. You have to step in and find a way of discovering how to marry those choices with your own. There is a freedom to make your own choices, but a bit of an obligation not to stray too far from the playground already established.

7. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? I think my favorite part of rehearsal is early on when you are just discovering who the character is and you can try so many different ideas out. I love feeling the freedom to make horrible mistakes and terrible choices. My great flaw is trying to be "right" so to let go of that and dare to make a fool of myself can lead to very happy accidents. I'm ridiculously shy about being heard singing so when practicing on my own I lock myself in the bathroom in my apartment and shut the windows. It is the room that is the most soundproof so I am less self-conscious. Self-consciousness is the enemy of creativity.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? What I've learned about myself from being a performer is that I need to listen in life as much as I listen on stage.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice I've ever received in regards to acting was repeated over and over during Spamalot by Mike Nichols who was quoting Jack O'Brien: "You aren't funny, the material is funny." Just act the scene as honestly as possible without a lot of decoration and the comedy or drama will take care of itself. The best advice I've ever received in life was: "Just kiss her."

10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? If I could dream about anyone while I sleep it would probably be my mom. I lost her a few years ago and it would be nice to talk with her again.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to spend your day off? I'm an avid photographer so, if I ever get a day off again it would be nice to set up a shoot. I do a lot of voice work and so I rarely get a genuine day off.

12. Boxers or Briefs? Actually, Boxer Briefs.

13. Favorite website? I'm a gadget geek so Engadget or Gizmodo get a lot of visits.

14. Superman or Wonder Woman? Without a doubt, Wonder Woman. Maybe I should go back to that question about dreams again...