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Entries in New York City (135)

Wednesday
Jul202016

Call Answered: BenDeLaCreme: BenDeLaCreme's Inferno A-Go-Go at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

BenDeLaCremeAs a life long RuPaul fan, I was super excited to get the opportunity to interview another RuPaul's Drag Race favorite. This time around, I got to talk with Season Six's BenDeLaCreme whose new show, BenDeLaCreme's Inferno A-Go-Go will be making it's debut at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC this summer. In this show, BenDeLaCreme seeks to answer that age old question: What the Hell? Turning her gay gaze toward Dante’s Inferno -- the original travel brochure of the damned -- this rollicking romp through nine circles of fire and fun is equal parts brimstone and rhinestones.

After reading a bit about BenDeLaCreme's Inferno A-Go-Go, I couldn't wait to pick Ben's brain about the creation of this show, starring on RuPaul's Drag Race, and finding out about his own suffering as well as how he wants to improve his life by one percent better everyday!

BenDeLaCreme's Inferno A-Go-Go will play The Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, inside the West Bank Cafe) from July 28-August 19! Click here for tickets!

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

1. This summer you are premiering your newest show BenDeLaCreme's Inferno A-Go-Go at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC. What are you looking forward to most about performing this show? Everything! I love doing solo projects where every aspect is within my control - the writing, the props and costumes, the music and video elements. It’s a fully realized experience that I get to share with the audience. And this time I’m working with some pretty dense source material - this is a comedic cabaret based on Dante’s Inferno - and I’m really proud of how it’s taken shape! The story is SO epic and has SO many characters - taking it on as a solo show means finding a lot of interesting ways to solve all those problems - and for me that always leads to the best comedy.

2. What made now the right time to debut a new show? Momentum? I’m not sure - I just had one in me! Apparently I am on a kick where I write one show a year. Who knows if that will last, but so far I’ve been inspired to do that. I premiered my first solo work, Terminally Delightful in NYC in 2014. After getting that ball rolling I immediately felt ready to create something new for the following year, resulting in my scientific spoof, COSMOS - Space. Time. Splash of Cran. The reception was great and I had so much fun doing it that this next piece just started bubbling in my head.

It’s interesting because I chose Inferno as subject a while back, and at the time didn’t quite know why I was so drawn to it. But I’ve learned to trust that, and to know that at some point about half way through the process I’ll go "OOOOOH - THAT’S why I chose this." This time, that happened personally, but also in this completely unpredictable way where 2016 turned out to be a pretty horrific nightmare year, and one that we are all desperately trying to make sense of. And here I was, elbows deep in Dante’s Inferno a story about suffering and anguish - the idea that we are possibly doomed by some greater power. That our punishments fit our crimes. And it’s a text filled with death and torture and murder and just the worst that humanity has to offer. And I thought, "Ok. Ok. This is a lot to tackle, but let’s do this. Let’s make an uplifting comedy about the atrocities of the world with a journey through Hell as the central metaphor." And here we are.

BenDeLaCreme3. This show is about hell, the eternity of suffering, and so much more. What is something you have done that you feel might send you to hell? What is the hardest thing you've suffered from so far in your life? Well, I don’t actually believe in Hell. While in this show we do take a ridiculous romp through the nine circles, the main idea behind the show is a corruption of one of Dante’s themes, which is that we all create our own Hell. I believe that "Hell" is an idea devised to wrap our mind around suffering, which is a part of our lives. When you accept that, and realize that to a certain degree you have control over it, you’re already on your way out of it. I’ve suffered through some stuff, the death of my mother at an early age, growing up a pretty reviled gay kid in the country, depression - and all that is pretty damn tame in the grand scheme of tragedy. I’m pretty sure that to whatever degree it manifests, suffering is one of the things we all have in common as humans. And that common experience is a place form which we can draw strength.

4. This show is a blend of burlesque, comedy, performance art and music. How do you feel this combination of performance styles helps tell the story you want to convey? Well those are the mediums through which I tell EVERY story. They’ve always been my languages of choice. And I love to take subjects that do NOT seem to want to be told through those methods and push them through that meat grinder to see what kind of bizarre, sparkly, hilarious goo comes out on the other side. Plus, for me, going high camp, high glitz - it’s the perfect counterpoint to subjects that are scarier, sadder, darker. It allows you to really go there. It takes the edge off. If you’ve lubed the path well enough, you can go further down it.

BenDeLaCreme, Photo Credit: Maddelynn Hatter5. Going back to the beginning, how did you come up with your name BenDeLaCreme? Well, Ben is just my name. So I initially chose "BenDeLaCreme" as an extension of my own name and a play on the phrase "Creme De La Creme," meaning "The Best of the Best." Little did I know I was in the beginning stages of creating this character that was sort of eternally optimistic. The more she took shape, the more I felt she was highlighting the best qualities that I possess. The most generous, caring, exuberant part of me. So the name became very fitting - BenDeLaCreme; "The Best of Ben."

6. What went through your head when you found out you got selected to be on RuPaul's Drag Race? What did you learn from RuPaul himself? Oh I was overjoyed - for sure! I had not felt interested in auditioning for Drag Race until that year. Suddenly, I was like- "this is it. It’s time for you to do this. RIGHT. NOW." I had been really happy with my career in Seattle but I felt like I’d hit a ceiling and this would be the way to break through it. So I put every ounce of energy and intention into making it happen. All my eggs in one basket. I was excited and RELIEVED when it happened!

As far as learning from RuPau l- I don’t think I learned much from Ru while filming the show. For one thing - we don’t actually have much contact with Ru, which makes sense for the purposes of the competition. Secondly - you’re a little too busy trying to live through the day to start picking up inspirational tidbits. But I will say that Ru was a huge inspiration to me growing up. When she published Lettin it all Hang Out I took the train into Boston to go to the one gay bookstore I knew of to buy a copy - and I poured over that book every day for months trying to absorb it all. I learned a lot about the mechanics of creating a look, but more than that I learned about what it takes to be a queen - an ability to channel a certain kind of serenity that allows you to know who you are and why you're here - and that those other opinions just don’t really matter.

BenDeLaCreme7. How do you feel being on the show helped move your career forward? It’s immeasurable. I went from having a very loyal and wonderful Seattle fan base to being an internationally known performer. I’m still making the same sort of work I was making pre-drag race but on a much larger scale, with more resources, and the insight and refinement one gets from touring work to audiences around the world. I just feel very blessed to happen to live in a time when drag is getting so much respect as an art form.

8. What was something that happened to you on RuPaul's Drag Race that you wish you could take back? Mmmm…I would have won? I dunno. I don’t really have any regrets. I played well and, more importantly, when I look back on the experience I feel proud of the work I did and the way I conducted myself. I actually managed to make some lasting friendships, and I feel I represented my character in a way that supports my work moving forward. No complaints.

BenDeLaCreme9. What is the one thing you feel gets the most misunderstood about you? That the character of BenDeLaCreme’s "happiness" is two dimensional or shallow - or a way of turning away from difficult things. I can see why one might have gathered that from viewing Drag Race, but anyone who’s ever seen one of my live shows knows this is a device. I use BenDeLaCreme as a foil for most every idea I present. Her relentless desire to cling to the bright side is always a way of highlighting the darker more complex aspects of humanity. Her purposefully ditzy demeanor speaks to the way we all sometimes play dumb when stuff gets too hard. But she always comes around. She always learns and grows and then finds the real good in the situation, not just the superficial. But the message of this character is not "BE HAPPY ALL THE TIME UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES." It’s not a tool to mask pain or struggle. It’s the opposite! It’s a magnifying lens! It says "LOOK AT THIS STRUGGLE! I have one! You have one! Let’s dig into it and laugh a little!"

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent every day? Every day I try to be more accepting of who I am right now. Am I stressed out? Ok, I’m stressed out. Do those shorts not fit anymore? Ok, they don’t fit. Did I not hit the deadline I set for myself? No, I didn’t. Quit dwelling on it. Hit it today. Striving to be better is a wonderful thing, but beating yourself up never helps you get there.

BenDeLaCremeMore on BenDeLaCreme:

BenDeLaCreme has appeared in theaters and nightclubs from coast to coast ever since the fateful day in 2002 when s/he realized that normally unsavory behavior could be dressed up in fancy clothes and called "Performance Art." Formerly based in Chicago, but with lucite heels now planted firmly in Seattle, BenDeLaCreme combines his/her background in the performing & visual arts with a love of spectacle, glamour, and Saturday morning cartoons to create a thick sludge of sparkly entertainment. BenDeLaCreme is best known from season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race and has since been voted one of the show’s "15 fan favorite queens of all time." In 2014, the premiere of Terminally Delightful wowed audiences nationally, including an encore engagement in New York. Her 2015 follow-up, Cosmos, blended Carl Sagan with cocktail culture and cemented her reputation as one of drags most creative talents.

Saturday
May212016

Call Answered: Sven Ratzke "Starman" at Joe's Pub

David Bowie was an icon on so many levels from his music to his impact on society! Everyone has a story as to what David Bowie meant to them. Sven Ratzke, transgressive European Entertainer Extraordinaire, is no exception to people who have been inspired by David Bowie. In fact, Sven is presenting the New York premiere of his internationally acclaimed show Starman at Joe's Pub from May 23-26! Click here for tickets!

Inspired by the iconic musician and songwriter David Bowie, the program combines many of the artist’s famous numbers such as "Space Oddity," "Rebel Rebel," "Heroes," and "Rock and Roll Suicide" with album deep cuts and inspired original songs by Sven and Rachelle Garniez. More than a mere tribute show, Starman is a one-man rock musical with unique characters and bold reinventions of glam rock classics!

For more on Sven be sure to visit http://www.sven-ratzke.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Sven Ratzke as "Starman"1. By the time your new one-man show Starman hits Joe’s Pub, you will have already performed it in 30 cities worldwide. What has it been like to perform this show? How has the show evolved over this tour so far? It's a triumph! It's so great to see that we've found a great balance with this show to make people laugh, cry, dance and just think and listen. The show makes me very happy because it makes other people happy. We've put so much hard work into it and it's payed off. And it’s evolved also. In the beginning, for example, I was wearing a wig because I wanted to transform into this character, but as we went further I became more and more myself in this show. So the wig is gone!

2. What was it about David Bowie and his music that influenced your own style so much? Bowie was always present but I was never a mega fan. I was intrigued and I admired him. But as I did all this research on him I discovered a new Bowie: he's a theatre maker. His whole life is like an opera. He was always in charge. I mean, look at his almost-staged death, the last album and all these clips. It's so amazing that somebody had his total artistic control.

Sven Ratzke3. What excites you about bringing this show to New York? How do you feel New York audiences will react to it over other audiences you’ve played for? The show will be different because in Europe we play in big venues with my own band and there is a light show. Now we have the intimacy of Joe’s Pub. You can only perform on a stage like that when you know your shit, and especially in New York City. You better kill it. But since the first time I was on a stage in New York, the audience gave me so much love and understanding. They just know what I'm talking about and what I'm doing. I have to come to New York at least twice a year to perform because it gives me a lot of inspiration.

4. If you had the chance to perform this show for David Bowie, how do you think he would have liked the show? Which song would you have wanted "Starman" and David Bowie to collaborate on? I think he would have loved the show. He got the CD just a month before he died. But I know a lot of people who knew him and they told me also that he would have loved the show because it's not a tribute show. I’m not just singing his songs, it’s almost a re-invention that utilizes fiction and fantasy. His name is not even mentioned, but his soul is there and his great songwriting is the basis of this show.

I never ever thought an actual collaboration with Bowie. That’s not what this is about for me: this show is meant to bring his music to life. I also think that he would have laughed a lot at our show. Bowie had a great sense of humor and he would have loved all the bizarre and wicked thoughts in this show.

Sven Ratzke5. Which songs do you think he would have wished you put in the show that you did not? Mmmh, I think he just would be happy. Maybe he would have said: "I have a song that I never used, it's in my safe. I'm gonna give it to you." But I'm just dreaming now.

6. How is Starman similar and different from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust? I take you on a trip…a journey where fantasy and my life mingle with the magic of Bowie. The journey is told through his songs from the seventies, from London, NYC and finally Berlin. It's sometimes really funny and sometimes the songs themselves can move you to tears. And we meet characters like Andy Warhol, who is a white rabbit, and Liz Taylor, who's a wax figure of a child star. We start in the stinking streets of London and end up in a drag club in Berlin, so it's quit a fun night. And filled with rock 'n' roll of course.

Sven Ratzke7. You are internationally recognized for starring in the first-ever Berlin production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. What was it like to premiere this show in Berlin? How did you make the role your own, after so many other actors have performed that role in other productions around the world? First off all, to get the blessing of the creator John Cameron Mitchell helped a lot. But I'm also a bit torn like "Hedwig" because I'm am both an entertainer and half from Berlin. It's the strangest and hardest show I’ve ever done. People are so in love with it. But it's also hard to explain what the show is to people that never heard of Hedwig. As "Hedwig" you have to win them over, you have to be authentic - you have to BE "Hedwig!" We are bringing the show back to Berlin this fall, but also to Hamburg for the first time. That's really exciting.

8. What was it like when John Cameron Mitchell declared you were the best "Hedwig" he had ever seen? How does something like that influence future performances? Oh it made me so happy because I know it's John’s baby. And he was so amazing. You can't top that. It's makes me so incredibly proud that he's so fond of it.

9. Besides David Bowie, who were some of your other influences that made you want to be a performer? Well I've already worked with some amazing people and it's always; just watch and learn like Nina Hagen. She's crazy, but she's amazing. I work with so many different people like classical and jazz musicians. With New York City legends Joey Arias and Justin Vivian Bond. They are such beauties! And The Tiger Lillies – they’re so great! I really love my job and I am looking forward to meeting more people. I hope I get to meet Liza soon.

Sven RatzkeMore on Sven:

Sven Ratzke crosses musical genres and traverses decades with panache and a unique style that blends high culture with elements of glam rock, classic Weimar cabaret with vaudeville. The Netherlands-based entertainer tours the world’s biggest theaters, festivals and nightclubs from sold-out shows at Lincoln Center in New York and the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam to the famous Berliner Ensemble in Berlin. He has released five albums and has worked with legends of the European arts world such as Nina Hagen, Hanna Schygulla, and The Tiger Lilies. Sven is internationally-recognized for the title role in the first-ever Berlin production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. John Cameron Mitchell, the musical’s creator and the original star, declared "Sven is the best "Hedwig" I’ve ever seen." After its smash run in Berlin at the Admiralspalast, Sven brought the show to Utrecht and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Basel and Vienna. Ratzke’s Hedwig returns to Berlin in October and travels to Hamburg in November.

Saturday
Feb202016

Call Answered: Erica Watson: Fat Bitch! at The Laurie Beechman Theatre NYC and Franky Bradley Philadelphia

Erica WatsonI'm so excited to have the chance to interview actress and comedian Erica Watson. We tried to do an interview a few years ago, but our schedules didn't line up, so it's great that she's coming back to New York City and the stars aligned for us to speak about her one-woman show Fat Bitch!, a funny, provocative glimpse at the American "fat and sassy" black woman stereotype. 

In Fat Bitch!, Erica explores society’s obsession with weight, race and class and how black women’s bodies have always been subjected to both admiration and ridicule. Drawing upon iconic images including "Mammy" and "Hottentot Venus," Erica illustrates how media images have impacted her self-esteem as she touches on PETA’s "Save the Whales" campaign aimed at overweight women, the "war on obesity," and the controversy surrounding President Obama’s nomination of a plus-sized black woman for Surgeon General.

Fat Bitch! will play Franky Bradley's on Friday, February 26 at 8pm (1320 Chancellor Street at South Juniper in Philadelphia) Click here for tickets! 

Fat Bitch! will play The Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City on Saturday, February 27 at 7pm (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue inside the West Bank Cafe) Click here for tickets!

For more on Erica be sure to visit http://ericafayewatson.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

Erica Watson1. This February, you are returning to the Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC with your one-woman show Fat Bitch! about life as a plus size. What excites you about doing this show again? I love performing at The Laurie Beechman because the audience is so diverse, and they come prepared to have a good time. The energy in the room is amazing and it creates a space that allows me to have a great show. I'm excited about having a great time with the audience.

2. You are also making your Philadelphia debut this February with Fat Bitch! What made you want to bring the show to Philly? Every time I would perform on the East Coast, people would always ask "What about Philly?" So I decided it was finally time to perform in the city of brotherly love...and I hope they love me too!

3. What initially made you want to write Fat Bitch!? and what was it like emotionally to go through all the issues you wanted to talk about in this show? Have you found peace with these issues since performing the show? In some ways the show wrote itself. My weight has affected so many aspects of my life that it felt natural to bring these stories to the stage. I have found peace, but the show is always evolving because new things happen that I have to explore on stage.

Erica Watson4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Fat Bitch!? For those who have seen your show, what is the most meaningful feedback you've received? I want people to understand that you should not judge a book by it's cover. There is always more than meets the eyes. I hope after seeing my show people will start thinking differently about women's bodies. I also hope size discrimination stops once and for all.

5. As a plus-size performer, what challenges do you feel you have faced that you may not have were you not plus-size? What's the meanest criticism you had told to you or read about yourself? How did you react to it? I know that some people are just not ready to see a woman like me in certain roles. There are times when I know that I am perfect for an opportunity, but I don't get hired because of my weight. But no matter what, I have to keep pushing towards my goals. I've been told that I was too fat and ugly to be on TV. People will always be negative but I've decided to be my own definition of beauty.

Erica Watson6. What do you feel is your biggest success so far? Working with major film directors like Spike Lee, Steven Soderberg, Lee Daniels and Chris Rock has been so rewarding. Ultimately starring in Spike Lee's Chiraq has been a dream come true. I went to film school to be a director so I could be like Spike Lee and to now have an acting role in his movie is amazing!

7. 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 would improve my spirituality and being centered and grounded. I want to be better with acknowledging God and all that he has done in every aspect of my life. Being happy and showing gratitude will open the door to more opportunities, and would improve my life by One Thousand percent everyday!!

Erica WatsonMore on Erica:

Born and raised in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, with a BA and MA from Columbia College Chicago, Erica Watson is an actor, stand-up comedian at clubs around the country, and film/television director. She appeared in the Oscar nominated film Precious; the feature films Dirty Laundry, Top Five directed by Chris Rock, and Chiraq directed by Spike Lee; and Empire, the FOX drama directed by Lee Daniels. She has also been featured on TLC’s Big Sexy, The Dr. Phil Show, The Oxygen Network, The WE Channel, Black Entertainment (BET), MSG-TV, You & Me This Morning, The TV Guide Network and is a recurring correspondent for Windy City Live. Erica is also a blogger for the Huffington Post. Erica was featured in two Gracie Award-winning commercials that she wrote for the Oxygen Network called Tresstify and Kiss & Tell; as well as a guest star on TV One’s sitcom Love That Girl (September 2014). She has also been featured on NBC's Last Comic Standing, and was the director for the reality competition show My Model Looks Better Than Your Model for BETJ. Erica starred in the Broadway in Chicago production of Love, Loss and What I Wore (2012) and went on to star in the final cast in New York Off-Broadway under the guidance of Nora & Delia Ephron as well as with The Delaware Theater Company (2013).

Monday
Jan252016

Call Redialed: Kyle Dean Massey: Feinstein's/54 Below debut

Kyle Dean Massey, Photo Credit: Cameron BertronIt's been four years since I first spoke with Kyle Dean Massey! So much has happened for him that it's great to catch up with him and discuss his upcoming Feinstein's/54 Below debut! Kyle Dean will be performing at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on January 30 and February 10 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

In this concert, Kyle Dean looks back, not at the things that were, but at the things that weren’t. Come listen to Kyle Dean share songs he heard nightly but never sang himself, the ones he played on guitar or belted in the shower, the ones that made him dance or mended his broken heart…all songs he was not able to share the way he wanted until now.

For more on Kyle Dean be sure to visit http://www.kyledeanmassey.com and follow him on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit http://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Kyle Dean Massey on ABC's "Nashville"1. It's great to catch up with you Kyle Dean. Last time we spoke, you were filming an episode of Wade Dooley's Pzazz 101. Since then, you went back in to Wicked for a bit, starred in Broadway's Pippin, and been seen on TV Nashville, The Good Wife, and Inside Amy Schumer. As a boy from Arkansas, what goes through your head when you look at all you've done? I can honestly say that I don’t think about it much! In this business you’re always just trying to do better and more varied work. So I think my eye is more trained on what’s ahead than what I’ve done. With that being said, I know how fortunate I’ve been in this career and only hope that I can continue to do exciting work.

2. Now you are making your Feinstein's/54 Below debut. Why is now the right time to make your debut there? I’ve been doing more and more concert work the last several years and it just seemed like a logical thing to do since I have never done a solo show in the city before. It’s so hard to do these kinds of shows on top of a grueling eight show a week schedule. And since I’ve been working mainly on television for the past year it’s given me the opportunity to be able to put this show together.

Kyle Dean Massey performing at Feinstein's/54 Below3. In this show, you are performing songs that you yourself never got to perform, you just heard them nightly during the show you were in. What made you want to construct a show of things that weren't instead of were? The beautiful thing about doing your own show is that you get to sing whatever the hell you want! And so my set is made up of several songs I’ve always wanted to sing or songs that symbolized rejection or songs that different characters from my shows performed. So it’s really a grab bag of different "were-nots."

4. What do you still hope to accomplish that you haven’t? I’d love to become a parent someday!

Kyle Dean Massey at Dolly Parton's sound check on "The Today Show"5. In our last interview, you mentioned that if you could dream about anyone while you sleep, it would be Dolly Parton. So, my follow-up question is a three parter. If you could record any Dolly Parton song which one would you record? What Dolly song would you want to do a duet with her on? What Dolly song would you want to make a music video to? I would definitely record "The Grass is Blue." I would obviously duet on "Islands in the Stream." And I would make a music video of "Two Doors Down."

6. A song that you have performed on Broadway that I love is "I'm Alive" from Next To Normal. When are you most alive? It feels cheesy to say, but I definitely feel alive onstage when I’m performing. I feel like I have a special kind of focus that I don’t normally have during normal life. I feel like everything works just a little bit better.

7. On "Call Me Adam," I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent everyday? Well I’ve been trying to say "fuck" a lot less. It’s going marginally well.

Kyle Dean Massey, Photo Credit: Nathan Johnson NYMore on Kyle:

Kyle Dean Massey is an American actor best know for his work on Broadway in PippinNext to NormalWicked & Xanadu and to television audiences as "Kevin Bicks" from ABC's Nashville.

Kyle Dean was raised in Jonesboro, Arkansas, a town 60 miles northwest of Memphis, TN. He started taking dance classes at age six and spent his adolescence singing in school choirs and studying the piano. After discovering musical theatre in high school he went on to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Missouri State University.

Kyle Dean Massey backstage at Broadway's "Pippin"In addition to his stage work, Kyle Dean has been seen on the screen in The Good Wife (CBS), Inside Amy Schumer (CC), High MaintenanceUp All Night (NBC), Hart of Dixie (CW), Cupid (ABC), Sex And the City 2 (HBO Films) & Contest. He has also performed on Good Morning AmericaThe CBS Early ShowRegis & Kelly, The 62nd Annual Tony Awards and lends his voice as a voice-over artist for many popular cartoon shows. While starring in Next to Normal, Kyle Dean was the star of his own popular web-blog series, Normal Life, on Broadway.com. Five years later he hosted another series, Fresh Prince, while starring in the title role of Pippin.

As a vocalist Kyle Dean has performed across the country in pops concerts with symphony orchestras and in more intimate cabaret settings with his one man show. He also tours with his concert group The Broadway Tenors.

Kyle Dean Massey speaking at the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Nashville, Photo Credit: Sundel PerryKyle Dean serves as a masterclass instructor and panel contributor for several different teaching organizations including Camp Broadway, Broadway Artists Alliance, Broadway Connection, VIP Tours of New York, the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, Stagelighter & Broadway Triple Threat. He also serves as a private acting and voice coach to students all over the country.

Kyle Dean is a passionate supporter of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Trevor Project and various human rights groups. He frequently performs in charity concerts at various venues across New York City including Joe’s Pub, Ars Nova, The Laurie Beechman Theatre and Feinstein's/54 Below.

Friday
Jan082016

Call Redialed: Will and Anthony Nunziata: Showstoppers! at The Highline Ballroom

It's been almost two years since "Call Me Adam" chatted with recording artists' Will and Anthony Nunziata. As they prepare to debut their new concert Showstoppers! at the Highline Ballroom on Monday, January 18 at 8pm, now seemed like the perfect time to catch up with these talented guys! 

Will & Anthony’s Showstoppers! concert delivers an innovative take on the greatest songs ever written for Pop Music, 60’s Hits, American Songbook, Motown, Italy and Broadway. A 90-minute tour-de-force concert that transcends generations. With their soaring tenor voices and acting & improv comedy chops, Will & Anthony sing fresh arrangements of classic and contemporary songs including "You’re All I Need to Get By," "Feeling Good," "O Sole Mio," "The Impossible Dream," "Unchained Melody," "Someone Like You," "God Only Knows," "What Kind of Fool Am I," and "The Prayer." The Highline Ballroom is located at 431 West 16th Street (between 9th & 10th Avenue) Click here for tickets!

For more on Will and Anthony be sure to visit http://willandanthony.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! 

Anthony and Will Nunziata1. On January 18, you are debuting your new concert Showstoppers! at The Highline Ballroom. In this show, you are performing some of the greatest songs ever written for Pop Music, 60’s Hits, American Songbook, Motown, Italy and Broadway. What made now the right time to premiere this show?

Will: W​e are always striving to give our audiences the best.​ For the past year we've been developing brand new arrangements with our musical director and arranger Tedd Firth. In our concert Showstoppers!, he'll be leading a 7-piece band in the 400-seat Highline Ballroom. New arrangements of songs from Billy Joel to The Bee Gees to Motown...

Anthony: ...to the Beach Boys to Adele and of course Broadway and Classic Standards. This will be the show the country will see in all our upcoming performing arts center and symphony pops orchestra concerts​.

2. Why did you choose The Highline Ballroom to debut this show?

Anthony: When we tour the country we are primarily performing in concert halls. So we thought why not bring ​a​ "larger feel" to NYC and after ​​looking at the Highline Ballroom, we knew we found a special place....we're setting up the room so it feels like a Vegas showroom....

Will: Yes! And after​ speaking with the wonderful team there,​ and consulting with our lighting and sound designer Matt Berman, we thought this would be the perfect venue for what we want our audiences to experience.

Will and Anthony Nunziata3. Of the songs you are performing, how have the artists influenced your own singing style?

Will: I think the array of songs in this show represent a lot of the songs I grew up listening to. Because they run the gamut in terms of musical sensibilities, I think audiences will enjoy the plethora of stylings in the concert.

Anthony: I try not to be too influenced with how artists sing a song in as much as I focus on the lyrics and how I connect with them. That allows me to find my own truth within these songs which in turn allows me to sing the songs, live in the songs and present my unique spin.​

4. Since this show is entitled Showstoppers!, what makes you guys a "Showstopper" that people should come see?

Will: Being truthful with everything we do. From living and "being" while singing our songs to our crowd work in between songs...

Anthony: Our goal is to make people feel, make them laugh, feel inspired in some way...and enjoy this shared experience.

Will and Anthony Nunziata performing with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Steven Reineke5. What have been some of your favorite "Showstopping" numbers either on Broadway or from a concert you've attended?

Anthony: Recently, it's Cynthia Erivo singing "I'm Here" in The Color Purple on Broadway. Cynthia is giving one of the most heartfelt and authentic performances I've ever seen on any stage. As for specific concert performers...since I was a kid I've been transfixed on performers who are actors first...Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Better Midler, Barbra Streisand...I've studied how they bring their truth to the table, and construct moving and entertaining live "experiences​."

Will: There aren't any particular numbers that come to mind, but anytime a performer is willing to sing with 100% unapologetic, raw emotion and have the ability to show the audiences their "scars" and be as vulnerable as possible - that's a "Showstopper" to me.​

6. If you could sing any "Showstopper" from a Broadway show, what song would you each like to perform?

Will: "Being Aliv​e." It's a true three-act-play of a song​.​ It's a brilliantly constructed song, both lyrically and melodically, and it scares me - which is ​probably why I like it so much.

Anthony: "Somewhere" from West Side Story. Tedd Firth has arranged a haunting/hopeful version of this song that makes me explore the depths of ​Sondheim's brilliant lyrics and Bernstein's gorgeous music. Premiering a new version of this song on the 18th of January.

Will and Anthony Nunziata7. One of the songs you are performing in this concert is "Unchained Melody." What is something in your life that you have unchained in this new year?

Will: Fear. 

Anthony: No regrets.

8. You are also performing "What Kind of Fool Am I." What's the most foolish thing you've done?

Anthony: Last week, after seeing a show, I forgot to stop by Schmackary's for a cookie. How foolish of me.

Will: You'll have to ask my therapist.​

9. In your concerts, you often play off of each other when it comes to your patter. What is the craziest unrehearsed thing that has happened to you?

Anthony: Will forgot his lyrics to the song "Everybody Says Don't", when he did I told the audience an impromptu story of Will being born with an umbilical chord around his neck and how the effects are clearly still with us today. We started the song again, he forgot the lyrics again, we started it again, he got the lyrics correct, and at the end of the applause I turned to Will and said something like, "We were all rooting for you there, brother. And we are all proud of you for getting through the entire song. Eventually. (beat) It's my solo time now and there's an oxygen tank backstage. (beat) Thank you."

Will: What Anthony just said.

10. You always speak of the importance of family. If you had a family of your own, what is one family tradition you would make sure you kept?

Will: To remind one another as often as possible that we are always there for one another, no matter what.

Anthony: For everyone to speak of something or someone they are grateful for today, and to speak of one thing they are most looking forward to the next day.​ I try my best to live in a constant state of peace and gratitude and to actively express that gratitude to those around me.

Will and Anthony NunziataMore on Will and Anthony:

Singers, actors, funny-men and advocates of arts in education - Will & Anthony sing fresh takes on timeless songs from pop standards, Broadway, and Italian music to Billy Joel, Motown, and beyond. Hailed as "a nearly impossible pairing of talent, stage presence and charisma," Will & Anthony continue to win critical and popular acclaim for their concert performances throughout the United States and around the world.

The brothers have brought their distinct take on classic songs from performing arts centers, theaters and symphony concert halls, including The Kravis Center’s Dreyfoos Hall in West Palm Beach, FL, to headlining their symphony concerts with The Cleveland Pops Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Firelands Symphony Orchestra, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestra with New York Pops musical director and conductor Steven Reineke. From Singapore to San Francisco, Will & Anthony have created and performed tailored private concerts for countless corporate, private and Gala events all around the world. They have been featured recently on NPR, The Entertainment Weekly Sirius Radio show, The Rachael Ray Show, NBC’s The Columbus Day Parade and on ABC’s Good Morning America. In the fashion world, the brothers have modeled and been styled by Carmen Marc Valvo, Hermes U.S. and Hermes Toronto, Elie Tahari, b Michael America, and Nick Graham. Will & Anthony trained in improv comedy with the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City.

Their proudest accomplishment is the creation of their Arts in Education Outreach Initiative and Master Class Workshops where they visit schools and students providing education and inspiration in supporting the arts as a significant component of young peoples’ lives. Through their workshops, Will & Anthony provide acting and vocal technique, life lessons of building a strong work ethic and personal brand, and the confidence to never give up on your passions.

Born in Brooklyn, the brothers, along with their younger sister Annie, were raised just north of New York City in Pelham Manor, NY. Music continues to constantly play in the home of their parents, Fran & Joe. Sinatra, Ella, Sammy Davis, Jr., Streisand, Dean Martin, Pavarotti, Billy Joel, Gospel - this was the soundtrack of Will & Anthony’s childhood. Today, their musical mission is to keep "America’s classical music" feeling fresh and new.