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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in New York City (68)


Call Answered: Alexander Baron: Vote For Me: A Musical Debate

Alexander Baron"Call Me Adam" chats one of the youngest producers he's met Alexander Baron about producing his show Vote For Me: A Musical Debate playing from August 7-16 at the Roy Arias Stage IV in NYC (300 West 43rd Street). Click here for tickets!

1. What made you want to produce Vote For Me: A Musical Debate? Originally, we had met with the writers regarding other pieces of work. However, once introduced to Vote For Me I fell in love with the musical. It is absolutely hysterical and the music is so catchy that I just couldn't resist.

2. How did you first get involved with this show? I had a meeting with the writers regarding another production, they also sent along a copy of Vote For Me and after reading it once, I saw visualized the production and was immediately hooked!

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I want audiences to walk away feeling like they witnessed a unique theatrical experience. I want them to feel that they can't miss the next show!

4. What has been the best part about working on this show thus far? The best part so far has been finally seeing the show come together. From sitting in the very first rehearsal to now, the actors have worked extremely hard with their roles and to see how much the show as developed and grown is incredible.

Danielle Beckmann in "Vote For Me"5. This run of Vote For Me: A Musical Debate, will be playing at the Roy Arias Theatre from August 7-16. What makes the  Roy Arias theatre the perfect place for this run of the show? Roy Arias makes it the perfect place to run because the set doesn't require a lot of space. Additionally, with a smaller sized theatre is makes the performance much more intimate and personal.

6. At such a young age, you are already the founder of your own production company, Baron Brother Productions. What made you want to start your own production company? I wanted to start my own production company because theatre has become such a passion of mine that I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have a ton of goals I hope to fulfill, and by making my own production company only helps me further my goals and passion for theatre.

7. What have you learned about yourself from running your own production company? From running my own production company I have learned that it's okay to reach out for help when its necessary. Delegation is one of the keys to success.

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? Open Your Ears and Close Your Mouth.

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? The ability to read peoples minds.

10. If you could be any life saver flavor, which one would you be? Spearmint - In my opinion that is the only good flavor!


11. How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered for the determination and passion I have for what I do. I want people to say: I have worked with him, and I have never seen someone work harder more than him while enjoying it all.

Alexander BaronMore on Alexander:

Alexander Baron is a rising senior at Byram Hills High School in Armonk, New York. He has been acting on stage since the age of 5! This past September, a one-act play of his made its way to the Manhattan Repertory Theatre Stage. He comes to this production with extensive experience from Byram Hills HS Events. He currently is Resident Producer at BHHS, participates in the Stage Program, and plays Varsity Lacrosse.


Call Answered: James Barry: SMASHED: The Carrie Nation Story 2014 NYC Fringe Festival

James Barry"Call Me Adam" chats with composer James Barry about writing the music for SMASHED: The Carrie Nation Story which will be in the 2014 NYC International Fringe Festival from August 9-15 at The Celebration of Whimsy (21 Clinton Street, between Houston and Stanton). Click here for tickets!

For more on James be sure to visit!

1. From August 9-15, SMASHED: The Carrie Nation Story will be playing in the NYC International Fringe Festival. What made you want to compose the music for this show? SMASHED wasn’t written specifically for the Fringe Festival. We applied, and were accepted into the festival. The show was written for the local Brooklyn dive bar opera company Opera On Tap. Its formal premiere was at the HERE Arts Center in April 2013, and we brought an immersive version of the show to Freddy’s Bar in Park Slope in November 2013. I had the idea for an opera about Carrie Nation, a drunken opera of sorts, and thought it would be the perfect marriage of art and mission for Opera On Tap and the perfect leading lady role. So I pitched the idea to Anne Hiatt, the general managing diva of Opera On Tap at a beer hall. She said, "Carrie Nation? I wrote a report about her in high school. Let’s do it!"

2. How did you and Timothy Braun come to work together? Tim is a close friend of Anne Hiatt’s, husband Chris. I’d never met Tim before. He sent a few samples of his writing. I immediately related to his style, his humor. So we moved forward on the project. And, as luck has it, turns out we have a damn good working relationship. His stroke of genius was to consider the book for the show an "exquisite corpse." This gave all of us involved the flexibility we needed to mold and shape the show.

"SMASHED: The Carrie Nation Story" at Here 20133. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? That this opera is fun. They enjoyed themselves, laughed, and experienced a show that was unlike what they thought they might see at "the opera."

4. How do you feel the Fringe Festival will help nurture this show in a way another festival might not? Not to sound cliché or presumptuous, but this show sits at the border of opera. When it’s been included on opera showcases that feature contemporary opera, it sticks out like a sore thumb. In a good or bad way, is up to the individual. But for me, it feels out of place because of the subject matter and the music is quite accessible. The spirit of Fringe Festival feels more inclusive. I’m looking forward to experiencing the show in this community of creativity.

"SMASHED: The Carrie Nation Story" at Here 20135. What excites about working with this cast? This cast is AMAZING!!! I saw Krista Wozniak, our Carrie Nation, in a production several years ago. So I asked for her specifically – I wanted her beautiful voice, her musicianship, her comic acting. David Schmidt, our new male lead, was involved in a workshop scene early on, and he is the perfect voice for this role. Huge, powerful, and his comic acting and dancing for a man standing 6’5” is something to see. Lynn Berg our narrator; he owns the show every night! He’s infectious, and his improvisational skills are unreal. The show has two choirs: Seth Gilman, Patricia Vital and Evan McCormick are the Uncle Jimmy’s Liquid Courage Brigade & the Carrie Nation All-Stars are Christiana Little, Cameron Russell, and Jocelyne O’Toole. All of these individuals are so talented, stars in their own right, and bring so much to this opera. Our director, Jenny Lee Mitchell is beyond amazing and inspirational with her vision. The assistant director Daniela Hart is equally awesome, and is the designer of our ridiculously awesome sound cues. Mila Henry, our music director, who has been with us from day one, is a godsend. And we have a red hot band in Ezra Gale, Harvey Valdes and Adam Feldman. Ramona Ponce and Chris Weston are back with us again providing superb costuming/props and lighting that create the stage for this show. All of this is supported behind the scenes by the fabulous Anne Hiatt, Sara Noble, and Gabbi Coenen. Speaking for myself, every night I leave rehearsal in awe about what has happened in the room, what I’ve learned, how lucky I feel to be surrounded by these folks.

"SMASHED: The Carrie Nation Story" at Here 20136. Who or what inspired you to become a composer? I might have been hardwired to write music. When I was a kid, I found a guitar in my parents closet while they were out one night. I opened up the case, pulled the guitar out, and wrote a little song, "Chickens in the Yard." Ever since that day I’ve needed to write music. That said, I give all credit to me being a "composer" to Jim Lewis, my first composition teacher. I bumped into him one summer while trying to register for Fall classes and he told me, you should be a composer because the composing writing exercises you did for my class last semester were very good. I didn’t even know being a composer was a thing. In all seriousness, this random occurrence changed the course of my life.

7. What's the best advice you've ever received? I’d say the best advice I’ve ever received was actually criticism. After a performance at a music festival, a local university professor made his way to me, introduced himself, and said: "this piece – the audience must have enjoyed it." It was certainly meant to be rude. But in an instance I realized I had really offended this man with my music. And that made me happy. So from that day forward, I’ve always written the music in my heart, that an audience would hopefully enjoy.

"SMASHED: The Carrie Nation Story" at Here 20138. What have you learned about yourself from being a composer? You have to have confidence and believe in yourself. And you have to have thick enough skin to know not everyone will like what you do. Sometimes that hurts. Learn from that. You don’t have to accept all criticism as "you" failed. That negative comment might be the thing you aspire to do.

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Could I choose them all???

10. If you could be any original lifesaver flavor, which one would you be? If memory serves me, LifeSavers used to give me a headache when I was a kid. So I’m pretty sure I would have preferred the cherry, and found a way to "drop" or throw out the other flavors. Who am I kidding, I likely spit the cherry one out too. HA!


11. How do you want to be remembered? I could die any day I suppose. :) I’m too modest to answer a question like this. Though I’m sure I could point you in the direction of a composer or two who might provide you with volume 1 & 2 of their answer to this!!!

James Barry, Photo Credit: Isabelle ShelbyMore on James:

The music of New York City based composer, James Barry has been described as "immediately engaging and distinctly American," "an emotional roller coaster," "truly moving," and, well, "quirky." A recipient of the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters his opera, orchestra, ballet, dance, theater, and chamber music scores are heard across the US each season. James has been the recipient of numerous awards, prizes, and commissions: ASCAP, Meet The Composer, American Music Center, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Dayton Ballet’s New Music for New Dance, Opera On Tap, Holyoke Civic Symphony, the Chicago Ensemble, Auros Group for New Music, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra’s Fresh Ink, the SCI/ASCAP Student Composition Commission, The Commission Project, CASE Arts Group, Xoregos Performing Company, and CelloSpeak among others. Over the past few seasons James’ music has been premiered and performed by numerous groups and organizations: FringeNYC Festival, OPERAtion Brooklyn, OPERA ELVIS: A Lament for the King, Opera Grows in Brooklyn, Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra, Owensboro Symphony Orchestra, Sacramento Youth Symphony, Tallahassee Symphony Youth Orchestra, Tennessee Tech University Orchestra, Northeastern University Concert Band, Florida State University Symphonic Band, Kutztown University Concert Band, Society for New Music, Sirius String Quartet, Esterhazy Quartet, Opera on Tap’s New Brew Series, Reizen Ensemble, Le Nuove Musiche, Forecast Music, Iktus Percussion Quartet, Brandon High School Orchestra, Heartland Community Flute Choir, Make Music New York Festival, North American Saxophone Alliance Conference, National Flute Association National Conference, and the College Music Society National Conference.


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

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

For more on Erik be sure to visit and follow him on Twitter and Reverbnation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

12. Boxers or Briefs? Dance belt.

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

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

Erik Ransom singingMore on Erik:

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

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

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


Call Answered: Dancer Adrian Bennett

Adrian BennettHailing from South Africa, "Call Me Adam" chats with rising dancer Adrian Bennett about why it's so important for him to be a dancer in the US, touring on Michael Jackson HIStory/This Is It and with Miley Cyrus/"Hannah Montana", and wanting to dance with Lady Gaga.

For more on Adrian follow him on Instagram!

Teaching at Moving Visions Dance Studio in South Africa1. Who or what inspired you to become a dancer? My aunt owns her own dance studio in South Africa called Moving Visions and I used to hang around the studio as a little kid and watch dancing day in and day out. I started taking class and fell in love with dance. I have known since I was a little boy that I've wanted to become a professional dancer. My passion in life is dance. It's the driving force behind everything I do. I am just very blessed and grateful that I get to do what I love each and every day.

Adrian Bennett at the Lady Gaga concert in South Africa2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? The dream is to perform with Lady Gaga on her world tour. I went to her concert while in South Africa and I turned around to face the audience and in that instant looking at that insane crowd, knew I had to be on stage with her. In saying that, there are so many incredibly talented choreographers and performers I would like work with in the future.

Adrian Bennett3. You were born in South Africa, what made you want to come to the US to further your dancing career? As beautiful as South Africa is, there is no real market for entertainment and dance. I feel that there is so much more experience to be gained and so much more to learn and coming to the USA has really opened my eyes to that. I have pushed myself further and harder than I ever have in South Africa. I am very blessed to be able to study at Broadway Dance Center for the summer here in NYC. The entertainment industry in the USA is huge and to be a part of it would absolutely make me a better artist and performer.

4. How do you feel working here in the US will be better for you as a dancer? In the US there is a lot more competition which has its negative and positive sides, but with good competition it pushes you to depths and places you never thought possible. That is the reason I want to pursue a career her in the USA. To be pushed and to grow and learn more. As I said before, the entertainment industry here is just so vast and all the different types of opportunities that are available to performers/dancers. In life I guess we never stop learning and for me to grow, the way I want to, I need to be in the USA.

5. You have done so much already in your career at such a young age. You've danced around the world in the Michael Jackson HIStory Tour and Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Girls tour, you placed in the top 12 contestants of the South African television show, Dance Dance Dance, and danced at the Miss Italy Pageant. What more do you hope to achieve? I don't feel like I will ever hit a place when I feel I have achieved enough. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing. As each day brings new and wonderful possibilities, the things I hope to achieve will forever be changing. One dream I hold dear to my heart is dancing in a world tour for Lady Gaga to sold out stadiums. I hope to be the best that I can be in my field!!! To be at the top of my game and live with integrity and love. Be performing with world famous stars. 

6. What did you learn from being on the Michael Jackson HIStory Tour? This tour was with Kenny Wizz the world's No.1 Michael Jackson impersonator from Las Vegas. Working on the tour was incredible. I learned so many things from him, being professional, to having such passion for what you do, and leaving your heart on that stage after every performance. We danced in sold out arenas, and to be dancing for thousands of screaming fans was an out of body experience. Truly a dream come true.

Adrian Bennett7. From your accomplishments, how do you hope to serve as an inspiration to the youth of South Africa? I hope that I get to inspire the Youth of South Africa by showing them that dreams do come true if you believe in yourself and you put the hard work in. I've had to overcome many obstacles during this path that I have chosen, and actually going after your dream may be the most difficult thing you'll do but do it anyway!!! I want to become a motivational speaker and go to schools and dance studios back home to give classes and just talk to the kids about believing that anything is possible. I believe that if just one person believes in you anything is possible. In this world, most people will put you down, tell you that you are not good enough, and if I can be the one person who tells a young child that's dreaming of achieving something great, YOU CAN DO THIS, I've succeeded.

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? To believe that anything is possible!! And if your dreams don't scare you you're not dreaming big enough.

Adrian Bennett at Broadway Dance Center NYC9. What have you learned about yourself from being a dancer? Dance has taught me commitment, determination, drive, passion, love, hope, and happiness. There are days when my body is aching from taking so many classes, but as a dancer you need to get yourself out of bed and get back into class. It has shown me that you need to be committed to achieve something great. You need to be determined and focused on what you want to achieve and never give up no matter how many times you are put down. And on the other hand dance is my escape. I transport to a different world when I dance. I have no thoughts and I honestly experience pure love!

10. If you could have any super power which one would you choose? To go back in time! 


11. Favorite way to stay in shape (besides dance)? Yoga, pilates, and I do enjoy going to gym.

12. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs.

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

14. How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as the person who made everyone laugh and feel loved. People these days are so career driven and only care about themselves. Each person I come into contact with, I want to make smile and feel good about themselves. I also want to be remembered for being the boy from South Africa who had big dreams of making it in the US, and through believing in himself and handwork, he made it happen.


Adrian BennettMore on Adrian:

Adrian Bennett's passion and love for dance began at the age of 8. In just a few years he studied modern, jazz, contemporary and ballet. By the age of 12, he was training for competitive dance in all disciplines, often being featured as a soloist, in a duet, or as part of a small group. Adrian has also choreographed award winning small group performances.

In 2002, Adrian was awarded a Protea Colours for Dance. He has represented South Africa for the past 9 years in the I.D.O World Dance Championships: Riesa, Germany (2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010) and Ljubljana, Slovenia (2003).

Adrian placed 2nd in the Jazz Championships held in Mikolajik Poland in 2009 and as of 2010, he's ranked 3rd in the world.

He also took part in the South African television show Dance Dance Dance and was placed in the top 12.

2010 was the start of a new path for Adrian. He started working closely with corporate companies and took up several contracts, which took me all over the world. His career highlights so far has been performing in the Michael Jackson HIStory/This Is It WORLD tour.

Adrian has received Honors with Distinction (80% or higher) for all A.I.D.T.A modern exams and is currently in the International Student Visa Program at Broadway Dance Center in NYC.


Call Answered: Brandon Baruch: NO HOMO 2014 NYC Fringe International Festival

Brandon Baruch, Photo Credit: Adam Emperor Southard"Call Me Adam" chats with playwright and lighting designer Brandon Baruch about his new play NO HOMO which will be in the 2014 NYC International Fringe Festival from August 9-17 at The Players Theatre in NYC (115 McDougal Street). Click here for tickets!

NO HOMO is about Luke and Ash who have been inseparable for six years. Their friends and family are convinced they're secretly a couple, even though neither man is gay. At least, they're pretty sure they're not. There's only one way to find out...

For more on Brandon be sure to visit and follow him on Twitter!

1. After an extended sold-out run in Hollywood, your play, NO HOMO will be part of the NYC International Fringe Festival from August 9-17. What made you want to write this play? The initial inspiration for NO HOMO came from a real life relationship. I am gay, my best friend is not, my friends and family were convinced we were a couple, and no one was willing to believe otherwise. I found it frustrating (and, also I loved it) that my super-liberal, progressive friend circle could not understand the concept of a fierce but platonic relationship between two men. I started paying attention to the way society perceives and talks about such relationships, and the closest thing I could find in mainstream entertainment were stupid "Bromance" comedies. I realized I had stumbled on a story that hadn't been told before, so I started exploring the narrative possibilities of two men who fall in love but aren't sexually attracted to each other.

Jonny Rodgers and Benjamin Durham in Brandon Baruch's NO HOMO, Photo Credit: Clarke Surrey2. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing NO HOMO? I hope NO HOMO will enable audiences to reconsider the relationships in their own lives. And maybe help people be more open with the people they love.

3. What excites about having NO HOMO in The NYC International Fringe Festival? How do you feel this festival will nurture your show that another one might not? It is a huge honor to be a selected participant in FringeNYC, one of the more prestigious theater festivals in the country. I was born, raised, and still preside in Los Angeles, and my writing reflects that. FringeNYC will allow me to present my play to both New York and International audiences, which, while intimidating, is also a fantastic opportunity to gain greater exposure.

Benjamin Durham, Henry McMillan, and AJ Jones in Brandon Baruch's NO HOMO, Photo Credit: Clarke Surrey4. What has been the best part about watching this cast bring your show to life? I love my cast. LOVE MY CAST. They are all such fantastically playful people, and they have found so many moments in each scene that I probably never would have stumbled upon on my own (a heap of praise is also due my director, Jessica Hanna, who steers the cast with a steady, finessed hand.) 3 of the 6 current NO HOMO cast members have been workshopping this play with me since I first started writing it nearly a year ago. Working with actors who are so closely connected to their roles enabled many new discoveries during the writing process. The cast is also very generous and always willing to take last minute cuts or script revisions as I continue to find nuances in the script. Oh, also, these people are funny. They are able to pull off punchlines that really shouldn't work because they approach each moment with honesty and sincerity, then slam it with perfect timing.

Elizabeth Ellson and Benjamin Durham in Brandon Baruch's NO HOMO, Photo Credit: Clarke Surrey5. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright? I went to school with the intention of studying acting, but I realized after a few years that it wasn't the direction I wanted to take my life. I started taking classes in Playwriting and Directing, and I fell in love with both crafts. I think I enjoy playwriting so much because it's an artform where you can never know at the start of the creation process what the end product will be. Editing a script is an incredibly complicated process - often, in order to enable a moment I want in Scene 7, I have to go back and plant the seeds for it in Scenes 2, 3, and 5, but this affects a plot point in Scenes 6 and 8, and so on. I love when the play I'm writing surprises me by taking the story in a direction I never anticipated. I am also fascinated by the gamut of mannerisms and speech patterns you find in any select group of people. My whole life, I've always naturally tuned in to the quirky vernaculars of those around me (for example, one of my friends has started saying "this and that" in every other sentence as a sort of post-millennial form "yada yada," and I'm obsessed), and I take great joy in creating new ones for my characters. One of the first stages of creating a new play is figuring out how my characters talk. Initially, that's more important to me than what they say. I also enjoy being funny, but I'm not interested in stand-up, sketch, or sitcoms. Playwriting allows me to make people laugh while also moving them and making them think.

Brandon Baruch Lighting Designing the 34th Annual LA Weekly Theater Awards, Photo Credit: Timothy Norris6. In addition to being a playwright, you are also an accomplished lighting designer. What do you get from being a lighting designer that you do not get from being a playwright? The greatest advantage to being a professional lighting designer is that I work on a ton of different pieces of theater, often two or three at a time. I encounter all styles and genres, scripts both brilliant and terrible, so I've basically spent the last 7 years of my career auditing a crash course on what makes a good play. Many of my aesthetics as a writer (particularly how I structure my plays and the stories I choose to tell) were birthed sitting behind a tech table. I started lighting professionally immediately after college (because I knew how and people were willing to pay me for it), but I didn't start writing again until nearly three years later. I got to a point where I was reading so many terrible (or nearly good, which is the same thing as terrible) scripts that I decided "hey, I can do this better." I was incredibly wrong (chalk it up to impetuous youth), but about five years later I feel like I finally figured out how to write stuff good. The other upside of being a lighting designer is that it allows me to approach storytelling from the opposite direction I take with playwriting. When I design a play, I must communicate the story using no words or sound - I can only manipulate the audience's journey through abstract gestures. It's a fun and unique challenge.

7. What's the best advice you've ever received? My playwriting professor in school used to always say "Theater problems are happy problems." I have to remind myself of this every day. Yeah, sometimes theater can be exhausting and grueling, but how many people actually pay their rent doing what I do?

Benjamin Durham and Jonny Rodgers in Brandon Baruch's NO HOMO, Photo Credit: Clarke Surrey8. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright/lighting designer? I think there's one understanding I've gained about myself that can apply to both trades: I have a penchant for grand, dramatic gestures. But I can only get away with them if I stay true to the emotional core of the moment. As such, honesty has become an important of both my creative and personal life.

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Oh man, I was just having this conversation with one of my friends the other day on a hike in the Hollywood Hills. Okay, here's what: I want to be able to talk to birds the way Aquaman talks to fish. I have no intention of using this power to fight crime or to save the world, or anything stupid like that. No, I really love birds, and I want to be able to communicate that to them so they'll come hang out with me. For example, there's a flock of around 50-100 wild parrots that often visits the trees next to my apartment building, and I just want to say "Hey guys, here's the deal. If you come over to my apartment, I'll give you some dried sunflower seeds and some peppers and some fresh fruit, or really whatever you like, and then you can chill on my shoulder and I will give you so many head scratchies! All I ask is that you don't poo inside. And I'll leave the window open, so you're free to do whatever - don't worry, I'm not gonna kill or maim or trap or eat you. I just want to give you head scratchies." (In this scenario, birds are very trustworthy creatures.) I want this. For real.

Jonny Rodgers, Elizabeth Ellson, and Benjamin Durham in Brandon Baruch's NO HOMO, Photo Credit: Clarke Surrey10. How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered through witty quotes. Like Oscar Wilde with his "either those curtains go or I do" deathbed speech which he never actually said on his deathbed. That's probably the best thing: I want to be remembered for things I didn't even say, simply because I was so witty that people are totally willing to believe I said them. And if people are still performing my plays a hundred years out from now, that'll be rock star.


11. Favorite way to stay in shape? Hiking and lifting.

12. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer briefs and trunks.

13. If you could be any original flavor life saver, which one would you be? Pineapple. Everyone knows that's the money flavor.

Brandon BaruchMore on Brandon:

Brandon Baruch is a theater artist living in Los Angeles. His original plays include The Defamation of Helen KellerPenguin PanDeicide: a Sorta Musical (for which he also provided music and lyrics); Top That!; and 2013's Me Love Me, which was performed in both the Hollywood Fringe Festival and the New York International Fringe Festival and was lauded by critics as "a smart, satirical look at the moments of human crisis that erupt in the haze of LA drug culture" and "both funny and disturbing as it steers us down paths that make the viewers shift in their seats."

Brandon is also an accomplished lighting designer, and his design credits include Queenie Pie (Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater); The Second City’s A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens and Twist Your Dickens Re-Loaded! Re-Twisted! (Kirk Douglas Theater); bare - A Rock Musical (The Hayworth Theater); eve2 (Bootleg Theater); Lost Moon Radio - America (South Coast Rep Studio Series); The 33rd and 34th Annual LA Weekly Theater Awards (Avalon Hollywood); Spring Awakening (The Arena Stage at Theatre of the Arts - Ovation Award Nomination); and Ken Roht’s Same-O, A 99 Cent Only Eclectic Ballad and Calendar Girl Competition (Bootleg Theater). New York Designs include Me Love Me (The Players Theatre); The Hat (Steve and Marie Sgouros Theatre); Someone’s Trying To Kill Me (HERE Arts Center); and Wildboy ’74 (Walkerspace). Brandon's design can also be seen in the film The Bloody Indulgent and in HBO's Cinema Verite. Brandon is company lighting designer for Lost Moon Radio and staff lighting designer for the Hollywood Fringe Festival.