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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in Off-Broadway (297)

Monday
Oct132014

Call Answered: Lucie Pohl: Hi, Hitler

Lucie Pohl"Call Me Adam" chats with actress, comedian, and playwright Lucie Pohl about her one-woman show Hi, Hitler, which returns to NYC after a sold out Edinburgh Fringe Festival run, a sold out debut on London’s West End and a sold-out off-Broadway preview run at 59E59. Hi, Hitler plays from October 22-November 2 at IRT Theater in NYC (154 Christopher Street, #3B). Click here for tickets!

Hi, Hitler is about a German-Jew, who grows up in a wild family of artists, is fascinated by der Fuhrer from age four and uprooted from Hamburg to NYC at eight. As Bertolt Brecht’s real-life niece, Lucie yearns for normalcy, but being different seems to run in her bloodline and escaping her inherited high-drama-destiny might just be impossible. A pinch of Hitler, a cup of hip hop and a dash of Hasselhoff.

For more on Lucie be sure to visit http://www.luciepohl.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

1. From October 22-November 2, your show, Hi, Hitler is returning to NYC after a sold out Edinburgh Fringe Festival run, a sold out debut on London’s West End and a sold-out off-Broadway preview run at 59E59. What excites you about this return? What does it mean to you to have so many runs of the show? I am excited to bring the show back to NY because to me it is a New York show. People here connect to it unlike anywhere else. It's time to have a longer run of the show so a broader audience can see it. There are 8 million people in New York and only around 300 have seen my show! This doesn't seem fair, don't you think?

I am excited about this return because I feel like the show is ready now. After 28 back to back shows in Edinburgh with completely different kinds of audiences every night, I have learned a lot. I can't wait to share that with my people in New York. Also, I think the show has potential to go further and I'd like to have some people come and see it that might have a thought or two about that. So far, I am not tired of doing the show yet. Having so many runs is thrilling because each run is different and has me searching for something new. I am growing with the show.

2. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Hi, Hitler? The answer to the meaning of life. Note: If that happens then I'd like them to please come backstage and share that with me. But if it doesn't, I will settle for a huge smile on their face, a night that they won't soon forget and the desire to secretly listen to some David Hasselhoff music when they get home.

Lucie Pohl in "Hi, Hitler"3. You are a German-Jew who grew up fascinated by Hitler. What was it about him that intrigued you so much? As someone who was so interested in Hitler, how did your uprooting from Hamburg, Germany to NYC affect you? Let's be honest, we're all a bit fascinated by Hitler aren't we? The most evil man of all time! And the silliest too! I grew up in a family of artists who argued and discussed and argued and discussed until the sun came up and there was no more cigarettes to burn. My father is German, my mother a Romanian Jew. They are post-war kids and the war was a big topic. But not only for my parents. So, as a little girl I picked up on the fact that this man, that so many people were talking about constantly, was important and I started to doodle him all the time holding up a peace sign, because that's what I thought he was doing. I was too young to understand what evil meant. I think it was my way of digesting the mysticism that was created through hearing the name but not understanding what all the fuss was about. At the same time, I'd like to think that I was already a comedian back then and recognized how comical of a figure he was. I remember coming home from the dentist after a painful cavity filling when I was around 6 years old and my mother popping in a VHS of The Great Dictator to make me feel better.

When we moved to New York the kids at school started saying things like, "Oh you're German! So you're a Nazi, right?" At that the point I was 8 years old and I think I understood more about Word War II, Hitler, and the concept of evil. I remember being embarrassed of being German and always saying, "Yes, I'm German but I'm Jewish too." We had a little figurine that made fun of Hitler that I had brought my parents from Portugal when I was 6 years old. It's Hitler doing the Nazi salute but his hat is pulled over his eyes and his pants are falling down so his butt is hanging out in the back. It was a joke, obviously, but when we moved to the States I was petrified that my American friends wouldn't get it and think we were Nazis so I made my parents hide it.

Lucie Pohl in "Hi, Hitler"4. What, if any, has been the reaction to your show's title Hi, Hitler? Generally I have had really great reactions to the title. People laugh most of the time, which is what I want! When I first workshoped the show in NY, I wrote a very naive email to the German Consulate asking if they would like to list my show in their event calendar since I am a German born performer. They answered back: "Absolutely not. The title is too close to the original, if you know what we mean." I fell off my chair laughing and considered printing postcards that say: "Hi, Hitler - Better Than The Original." Two days later The Jewish Week, North America's biggest Jewish publication requested an interview with me.

5. What has writing and performing this show done for you? What have you learned about yourself through this process? Writing this show has given me my vocation back. I was struggling with myself. It has been the most liberating experience of my life so far. My director Jessi D. Hill and I also very consciously kept the show extremely simple in terms of set, sound and lights. Not only because it doesn't need much but also because this means I can basically do it anywhere, anytime. As an actor this is an incredible experience, because you are so dependent on so many things. Through the show I learned to trust myself to never say never and that anything is possible. We make up the rules.

Lucie Pohl, "Hi, Hitler" promo shot6. What was the most fascinating thing you learned putting this show together? What was the hardest/most painful thing you learned? The biggest eye opener for me doing this show was how many people can connect and identify with my story. In its essence, the show is a fish out of water story. When I first started writing it, I thought no one will be able to connect to this, no one will care. At the beginning of John Leguizamo's Freak he comes out on stage and says, "All my Latinos bark" and I thought, God, I don't have a community at all, what am I going to say, "All my German-Jewish-Romanian-American-People-Who-Don't-Know-Who-The-Hell-They-Are-Or-Where-They-Belong yodel?" But I was wrong, I learned that most of us have felt that sense of not belonging in one way or another - whether it is because of nationality, the people we want to love, or how we want to live or life. It was a beautiful experience to learn that.

The hardest thing I had to learn was that not everyone will get it. Some people will hate the show, some people won't connect, not everyone will love it and that's a good thing. That was hard to learn, but important.

Lucie Pohl7. What is it like being the niece of Bertolt Brecht? Do you feel this artistry has influenced yours? Do you feel like you have to live up to some sort of expectation? Being related to someone who gave the world so much is an honor and inspiration! Imagine if I was related to Hitler, that would blow. Everyone would hate me for no reason. And my show wouldn't work.

I grew up with Brecht stories. One of my favorites is this: Brecht's wife Helene Weigl hated The Threepenny Opera so much she threw the manuscript away because she thought it was absolute garbage. Brecht , of course, rescued the piece from the trash bin and...the rest is history! Crazy to think that it could have disappeared into a black hole!

I am very much influenced by Brecht's work, this would be the case even if I wasn't related to him. The theater I feel most passionate about always has elements of alienation in it, for example. But more than that I think I am drawn to his humor. He had a very humorous way of looking at life and art.

As far as expectations go, yes there is definitely a level of that in my family. But to be honest the toughest expectation to live up to, is my own!

Lucie Pohl8. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright/performer? I'm gonna get a little cheesy here, but sometimes the truth hurts: Every single day something inspires me to write and perform. A bird on my window sill, a siren in the distance, a smelly bum singing Doo-Wop on a train, a Chinese lady digging through garbage in between Wall Street millionaires stumbling out of douchey bars, a song, a book, a great film, a moment ---- in short --- Life!

I grew up in a family of writers and actors, so it's been passed down to me but I had to struggle to make it my own. To have the ability to make a room full of people dream, laugh, think and be moved is the greatest gift of all. So every time I do a show I am inspired to wake up the next day and become a writer and performer all over again.

9. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? John Cleese, Eddie Murphy, Peter Brooke, Whoopi Goldberg, Pedro Almadovar, Dave Chappelle, Steve Martin, Quentin Tarantino, Ana Deavere Smith, Lorne Michaels and El Cigala to name a few.

10. What's the best advice you've ever received? S**t in all four corners of the stage.

11. How do you want to be remembered? Preferably alive.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? The power to be invisible. I'd sit on people's laps on the train, listen to every word in their conversations and pee in politician's coffee cups in the morning.

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

14. Favorite skin care product? Sex.

Lucie PohlMore on Lucie:

Lucie Pohl is a German born NYC raised actor, comedian, writer and solo show performer. Her solo shows Hi, Hitler and Cry Me A Liver have been performed all over the East Coast, the West End in London and the Edinburg Fringe Festival to great critical acclaim. Film: Magi (J-Plan), Not Fade Away (Paramount Vantage), El Cielo Es Azul (Vox3 Films) a.o.. Theatre: Three Graces (Immigrant’s Theater Project/3-LD), Alma Mahler: Widow of the 4 Arts (The Los Angeles Theatre), Vocal Migrations (LaMaMa). MFA in Acting from the University of the Arts in Berlin.

Friday
Oct032014

Call Answered: Anthony Inneo: All Her Faces: A Portrait of Dusty Springfield

Antony Inneo"Call Me Adam" chats with playwright, actor, and director Anthony Inneo about his new show All Her Faces: A Portrait of Dusty Springfield, an homage to Dusty’s talent and vocal versatility. It is a fast-paced rock concert that presents not only her famous hits but introduces many of her unknown songs. All Her Faces plays at Workshop Theatre Company's Main Stage (312 West 36th Street, 4th Floor, between 8th & 9th Avenue) in NYC from October 14-26. Click here for tickets!

For more on Anthony be sure to visit http://www.anthonyinneo.com!

1. From October 15-26, your show, All Her Faces: A Portrait of Dusty Springfield is being presented at Workshop Theater Company's Main Stage Theater in NYC. What are you looking forward to most about having this show, in it's current form, on it's feet? That it will work exactly as my blood, sweat 'n tears (to coin a phrase) and imagination predicted. The original version (to see if it had "legs") was 50 minutes with 16 songs and a very slim narrative; this version is 90 minutes with 32 songs which has been fleshed out, considerably, and is ready to be moved into a 299 seat Off-Broadway house.

2. What made you want to write a show celebrating Dusty Springfield's voice/music? Why did you want to write this show more as a concert as opposed to a bioptic piece? Short answer: I’m not interested in anyone’s dirty laundry; never was. I make that perfectly clear on the website and in press releases: I wasn’t interested in presenting her life. Anybody could write that today, especially with all the information available to us. I purposely decided to leave the troubled yet gifted singer to the voyeurs of Hollywood and create All Her Faces to celebrate a vocal instrument and its versatility which CANNOT be duplicated. The confidence Dusty exuded on vinyl was a facade that masked severe insecurities and addictions to drugs and bouts with self-mutilation and fear of losing her career if she was exposed as a Lesbian. Personally I think Lesbians should be very proud of Dusty and what she's done and the musical legacy she left all of us. Lesbians and Gays alike - particularly the young ones - should unite and come running to see this show, if only to found out how Dusty, by sheer talent and tenacity, raised the bar for people (like them and all of us) with an extraordinary talent way back in the 60’s and 70’s when it was not in vogue or fashionable.

Dusty Springfield3. Aside from All Her Faces: A Portrait of Dusty Springfield, being more of a concert piece, what made now the right time to present this show, considering the Off-Broadway show Forever Dusty just finished it's run in 2013? TIMING. I’m going to say this a lot, I guess. All Her Faces is not unlike any musical being presented on Broadway or Off. It is scripted and has a "book" with a plot that tells a story. To make that interesting, I placed it within the conceit of a rock concert. The other show was a prime example how the so-called "creatives" can fall into the trap of making all the mistakes a bio musical could make. Since 2005, I made it a point to know my competition; I knew every show and film that was being considered, written or performed about Dusty. So when the other show appeared at the New World Stages (which I saw three times), I had to put All Her Faces on hold and wait until the "dust" settled. Pun intended. Now is the perfect time to resurrect Dusty and show the world what she was really made of. I am constantly saying and will continue to say: All Her Faces is the only way you want to remember Dusty Springfield.

Anthony Inneo4. Since you are the writer and director of All Her Faces, how do you separate yourself from writer/director during the rehearsal process? Do you ever have trouble letting go of something as the writer, but as the director you know should be cut?

No. I’ve never had that problem. I’m one of the lucky ones, I guess. I know exactly what "hat" I’m wearing and when I’m wearing it. I’m constantly aware of what’s best for my babies and will adjust accordingly. Actually I’ve learned to rely totally on the creative process within ME - and it has served me well. I have just finished the final draft of a full-length dramedy that explores that very topic: "Orange Juice and Bagels." Of course, there are always tradeoffs that have to be made, but the project - no matter what it may be - will always (in my hands) come out the winner.

5. What excites you about having this cast help bring this show to life? They're new, they’re young, they’re talented, and by being present and working on the material, they’re helping me see beyond what I may have been thinking.

Dusty Springfield6. What do you relate to most about Dusty Springfield's music? How has it influenced your life? Her choice of material - the songs she chose to sing. Dusty didn’t compose; in fact I think she only penned one or two songs. During my research, I discovered that the songs she’d perform and record actually helped her tell her story - which BTW is how I found the "hook" that the lead singer guitarist, JESSE, uses her hit songs in the show to conjure her back to life.

7. What do you get from writing that you do not get from acting? As Writer - control over what’s being said, literally and figuratively, and being afforded the opportunity to add my personal take on a subject. As Actor - free to apply and express my most intimate FEELINGS through what the writer has written. When you think about it, both processes are the same and very liberating in their own way!

8. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright? I wasn’t "inspired," not in the true sense of the word. Well maybe I was in a way. 40 years ago, as an actor I became acutely aware of how I was being treated and rejected for the most inane reasons that one can imagine. This topic, in and of itself, is one of the MAJOR injustices I’ve written about in my screenplay trilogy: Thank You, Thank You, Too, and You’re Welcome. Anyway, I needed to find a way to express the pain I was harboring before I’d go completely bonkers, so I took to writing. I was in therapy at the time and showed some of the stuff to my doctor. The following week I anxiously returned to my session hoping to hear him say I had the makings of a Miller or Albee…instead all he said was, "Don’t stop writing." I knew exactly what he meant, so I continued and developed an absolute love for the craft, learning more about my strengths and weakness and my particular writing "style."

Dusty Springfield9. What's the best advice you've ever received? On what? Life? Writing? Acting? Relationships? What to eat? How to dress? I’ll assume you mean advice on writing. I was doing an awards ceremony show (as an actor) and the writer was well-known in TV & film & theater. So on our lunch break, I asked his forgiveness for interrupting and told him I was seriously thinking about writing and if he had any advice. He slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) lifted his pad in the air with one hand, then (just as SLOWLY) lifted his pencil in the air with the other hand and brought them together as in a very romantic "kiss." Then he said don’t go to any writing classes, just write. Find your own style and maybe then take a class or two on structure. Needless to say, that’s exactly what I did.

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright/actor/director? That no matter what I’m doing in theater, being alive and creative is (as in life) a learning curve. And that as much as I think I’ve learned everything there is to learn - I know NOTHING compared to what lies ahead.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

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

12. If you could be any original Life Saver Flavor, which one would you be? I was never into Life Savers - except people who did it for a living. My favorite flavor, however, is Cherry. I can fall madly in love with a good homemade Cherry pie.

13. How do you want to be remembered? That I was kind - despite my faults.

Anthony InneoMore on Anthony:

Blessed with the best training, Anthony Inneo was a student of Sandy Meisner, Bob Modica, Uta Hagen, Mira Rostova, Lehman Engle, Terry Schreiber and Philip Burton (Richard’s father) for the classics.

He starred on Broadway as "Zach" in A Chorus Line, as well as London, Hawaii and on tour with Donna McKechnie. Off-Broadway roles range from "Polo" in A Hatful Of Rain, to "Lucky" in the original production of Dames At Sea. Anthony was prominently featured in roles on As The World TurnsAll My Children, Guiding LightOne Life To Live, and Law and Order - SVU. He also starred in a never-be-released independent film, Ingrid.

As Playwright, The Center Ring was successfully produced in LA and is being adapted into a musical and looking for a composer/lyricist. His Evaluating Woody was produced at the Mint Theatre - Jack Nicholson is on his "Bucket List" to play the lead.

Whether he’s producing, directing, performing or writing, Anthony’s bio is…"to be continued."

Friday
Oct032014

Call Answered: Melissa Ritz: Journey of a Bombshell: The Ina Ray Hutton Story United Solo Festival

Melissa Ritz, Photo Credit: Dana Patrick Photography"Call Me Adam" chats with actress, playwright, and former US Air Force Sergeant Melissa Ritz about performing her show Journey of a Bombshell: The Ina Ray Hutton Story in the United Solo Festival from October 4-23 at Theatre Row's Studio Theatre in NYC (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue)! Click here for tickets!

For more on Melissa be sure to visit http://www.melissa-ritz.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

1. From October 4-23, you are presenting Journey of a Bombshell: The Ina Ray Hutton Story as part of the United Solo Festival at Theatre Row in NYC. What excites you about being part of the United Solo festival? I'm excited to be a part of United Solo b/c the organization celebrates the solo performer for 8 weeks. They provide a beautiful venue to stage your work and they care about supporting a variety of solo acts. I moved to NYC in October 2013, and the first thing I did was search for "solo" show festivals in NYC,' and United Solo was among the first results. Within my first few days in NYC, I attended a number of their performances, so I'm happy to come "full circle" and be on the other side of the stage this time. My opening night is 2 days after my 1 year anniversary of living in NYC, so I'm proud of the goals I've accomplished in that time. I'm thrilled to debut my show with United Solo.

The real Ina Ray Hutton2. How do you feel this festival will foster your show in a way another one might not? I think the United Solo festival is the perfect forum to debut my show in that it has a solid audience base, and their social media network is strong, so the exposure is beneficial. This is my first festival experience, so I don't have any other experience to compare it to. But what I can share with you is that the communication between myself and the United Solo staff is excellent, so I feel like everyone is in sync with getting information together and on the same page. I feel like my show is supported by United Solo and they care about my experience. Although there are 130 participants in this season, I don't feel like my show is "lost in the shuffle." Also, my first show sold out pretty quickly, so they offered me a second show, which also sold out! They then offered me a third show, so I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to perform this show 3 times in 1 festival. I don't know that that's always the case in other festivals.

Melissa Ritz, Photo Credit: Robert John Kley3. What made you want to tell Ina Ray Hutton's story? What do you identify most with about her? I discovered Ina Ray Hutton by accident in 2011 when I was looking for audition song material on YouTube. I was looking for a particular song from the 1930s and Ina's video kept coming up in my search. After watching the video, I watched her other videos and fell in love with her. She was flirty, fearless, conducting an all-girl band, and tap dancing in an evening gown. I remember wondering why I hadn't ever head of her, so I kept researching more about her and her background was so unique, I knew her story had to be told. I felt connected to her through her singing style of early jazz music, her dancing, and her spirit. I liked that she and her all-girl band found success in an era of male-dominated jazz music.

I think I identified with her in a parallel with my military background. It's a male-dominated environment, but there's room for your own voice and for success, and equality. I feel like I found that to be the most identifiable thing with her...but I discovered that later when I did further research about her via newspaper archives. I also feel like I identified with her "bombshell years" when I was a cocktail waitress in a major Las Vegas casino. I felt my life paralleled hers in that we were both objectified and played the role of a "sex symbol." Ina played that game for a few years, as did I in a casino, but we both eventually walked away from that. Ina did it by dropping the all-girl band, dying her hair brown, toning down her flirty conducting style, and exchanging her flashy gowns for a more conservative look. I also dyed my platinum blonde hair to dark, (although it's blonde now for the sake of Ina's story...) and walked away from my lucrative cocktail job, which had me wear a Brazilian thong and bustier as a uniform.

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Journey of a Bombshell: The Ina Ray Hutton Story? Great question! I've been asking myself this same question lately. I feel like audiences are much more accepting of diversity today, but that wasn't the case with women in music in the 1930's and on. Ina and her band were considered a novelty act...a joke, and nobody was expecting for them to find the success that they had.

I'd like the audience to walk away with an appreciation for what Ina and her "girl musicians" had to overcome. Ina was also a pioneer in many ways--the first woman to record with an "all-male" band, the first woman to have her own TV show, she had a lot of business savvy at a time when it wasn't easy for her. I'd like for people to revisit this era of music and discover not only Ina's music, but the other women jazz bands at that time. They were swingin'!

Melissa Ritz as "Ina Ray Hutton"5. Journey of a Bombshell: The Ina Ray Hutton Story is your first full length play that you wrote. What did it mean to you to get this complete? I'm a very goal-oriented person. I like to set goals and work towards completing them. I rarely don't complete something I set out to do, but when I started this project 3 years ago, I had *no* idea of what I was getting myself into! I've spent NUMEROUS, NUMEROUS nights, weekends, holidays, etc. at home in front of the computer writing and rewriting. I've scoured and spent more money than I'd like to admit on archive websites, ancestry research, and personal interviews, just to piece together Ina's life. Of course, I don't know everything about her life, but I feel confident with the story I've created from true events in Ina's life. It wasn't just getting the facts together either, I had to learn how to tap dance, and get 16 songs together. This entire process has been a beast! It's been my relationship for the past 3 years...I've dated this story, these characters, these songs, dances, scenes, moments and it's been a very intimate process. I feel empowered by bringing these past 3 years to the stage to share my story of Ina's life. Also, my director, Julie Kline, has been tremendous in helping me develop my research into a play that moves, characters who are fleshed out, and has a clear through line.

6. What is your favorite part of the creative process in putting a show together? My favorite part has to be the research, and crafting all that information into a story. What stays? What's edited out? What's going to propel this story and these characters forward? Where's the strength? What are the flaws? Is there danger in what's being written? Is history repeating itself? What can we learn from the information we've collected, and what hasn't been answered? What gaps are in our timeline and where do we need to fill in the blanks? I love answering and thinking through all these thoughts. Collaborating with my director has been a gift in this sense. There's never one way to answer any of these questions, and it's fun to talk about the possibilities.

Melissa Ritz in the U.S. Air Force at Ramstein Air Base, Germany October 20017a. Prior to this show, you were a Seargent in the U.S. Air Force. What made you want to go into the Air Force? I grew up in a military family. My Dad was active duty Army when I was growing up, so I moved every two years...I went to 3 high schools! My senior year of high school was spent in Alabama, (after having lived in Germany for almost 3 years!) and I knew I wasn't going to stay there! I wasn't ready for college at that point and I wasn't about to hang out at home, so I joined the Air Force. Obviously, I was familiar with the lifestyle, but I also knew it would get me out of Alabama, provide me with the opportunity to travel, and give me money for school. It did all those things and more, and it paid for graduate school!

7b. Did you know prior to going into the Air Force, you would travel the world with Tops in Blue, a division of the U.S. Air Force Entertainment? I had no idea what Tops in Blue was. I had never head of it! My job in the military was working in a hospital laboratory. I analyzed body fluids for doctors, and I wasn't very happy. My passion was always in the arts, but that wasn't really the mission of the Air Force. I was the soldier who was singing and tap dancing in the lab and my supervisors didn't know what to do with me! I was always talking about theater and they were talking about missions reports, and deployments. I was definitely a square trying to conform into fitting into a circle. One day a supervisor told me that there was a military entertainment group coming through for the weekend to put on a USO-styled show, and he thought I would like it. I attended the free show and auditioned for it later that year. I sent in a video of myself singing acapella (from Les Mes!) and out of the 500 submissions that year, I was one of 10 female vocalists selected to tour. I was SHOCKED! It really changed my life though and it prepared me for the discipline it takes to be motivated enough to put together a solo show. Looking back, joining the Air Force was the best decision I made for myself. I had excellent training, awesome supervisors, met the greatest friends of my life, worked my ass off, and traveled the world.

7c. Was this the experience that made you want to pursue a degree in Dance and Theatre? I always wanted to pursue theater and dance. I got bit by the acting bug when I did community theatre in high school at the Frankfurt Playhouse in Frankfurt, Germany. The thought of moving to NYC out of high school was too daunting for me at the time, and I felt too shy to pursue it to that degree. Tops in Blue definitely gave me the confidence and discipline it takes to pursue that track in terms of preparing for auditions, presenting yourself professionally, being punctual, honest...all those things. But when the war kicked off in Iraq/Afghanistan after 9-11 and I was working at a hospital in Germany, I knew I had to make a choice to either stay in the Air Force, or get out and pursue the arts, so I left the military and moved to Las Vegas to attend school at UNLV and study dance. I was ready to audition and put myself out there. The dance department shared the hallway with the theatre department, so it re-kindled my love of the theatre and acting. Oddly enough, there was an MFA acting candidate in the program who was also an Air Force Veteran, so we connected in that way and he encouraged me to audition for the program. That MFA program only holds auditions every 3 years and they only take 10 students from auditions in LA, NYC, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. I was the 11th choice! I didn't make the top 10, but the director of the program liked my background and since I had the GI Bill from the military, he offered me a place in the class and I accepted! It was just meant to be!

Melissa Ritz as "Ina Ray Hutton"8. What have you learned about yourself from putting this show together? Oy...what a question! I learned that I need to trust my instincts more! When working with Julie, she'd often ask a lot of open-ended questions, and I often second-guess my response. I felt like I had to be clever or "deep," when almost always, my first instinct was a step in a better direction. Answers don't always need to impress anyone, and I felt like I was playing that game.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Keep your feet clean because you never know when they're going to end up in your mouth!

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Is healing a super power? I'd like to heal people...there's so much hurt and suffering going on.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have be any original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Orange! I can taste it just thinking about it...

12. Favorite skin care product? Coconut oil. I use it on my skin, hair, and it's edible!

13. How do you want to be remembered? I've never thought about this. Um...Melissa took risks!

Melissa Ritz, Photo Credit: Dana Patrick PhotographyMore on Melissa:

As an Army "brat," I grew up all over the U.S. and in Germany. I joined the U.S. Air Force out of high school, where I analyzed body fluid in hospital laboratories in Texas, Ohio, Colorado, and Germany. I also worked at the Ataturk International Airport for the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. One of the highlights of my time in the military was the year I spent traveling the globe as a vocalist and dancer with Tops in Blue, a division of Air Force Entertainment. This tour took me to over 20 countries and almost every state in the Union. After earning the rank of Staff Sergeant, I was honorably discharged and moved to Las Vegas, where I worked as a cocktail waitress at the South Point Casino. In the the spring of 2009, I became a certified Bikram Yoga instructor, and taught in Las Vegas for 4 years. I also received my BA in Dance and MFA in Theatre Performance, both from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I relocated to NYC in 2013 to pursue my acting career, focusing on my one-woman show. When I'm not sweatin' it out in the hot room, you can find me at tapping at Steps dance studio.

Tuesday
Sep232014

Call Answered Again: The Best of Dina Martina 

Call Me Adam and Dina Martina, Provincetown 2013"Call Me Adam" once again chats with Dina Martina! This time around we talk about her "Best Of" show at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, which runs through September 28. Once again, only a fraction of Dina's humor and quick wit are demonstrated below. For the full effect of Dina Martina's comedy, you'll have to click here for tickets!

For more on Dina be sure to visit http://www.dinamartina.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

Dina Martina, Photo Credit: David Belisle1. From September 18-28, you are returning to the Laurie Beechman Theatre with The Best of Dina Martina. What made now the right time to do a "Best Of" show? Actually, I think it was kismet. You know, when certain things just feel right, like it's the right thing to do? Like smiling at a blind person on the street and wiping front to back. Not at the same time, but separately. You know, those things just feel right.

2. How did you decide which songs, stories, and film clips you wanted to include in the "Best Of"? Names out of a hat, pretty much. But it was my best hat.

3. How does it feel to be able to create a "Best Of" show? Did you ever think when you first started out that this day would come? I've got to tell you, it feels pretty darn good. And no, I never thought in a million years that I'd be doing this, but I also never thought I'd ever get a bikini tweeze. And I never thought I'd be having a pie eating contest, at my house, by myself. But I did.

Dina Martina, Photo Credit: David Belisle4. What excites you about returning once again to the Laurie Beechman Theatre? First off, the staff is amazing. But also the fact that literally everyone has played there, from Josephine Baker to the Addrisi Brothers to Sandy Duncan to Fatty Arbuckle and the Pointer Sisters – and I'm pretty sure those last two were on the same bill. Plus, I think it's where President Abraham Lincoln saw Our American Cousin, and I can't decide which is more exciting, that or the risotto balls.

5. While this is a "Best Of" show, is there anything new you are including? Yes, I've included the helicopter from Miss Saigon, which I picked up at a tag sale over the summer.

Dina Martina, Photo Credit: David Belisle6. Since this show is The Best Of Dina Martina, what has been the best part about being Dina Martina? Knowing that, as a well-rounded performer, if one of my assets doesn't "wow" the crowd, then one of the others will. I can do it all, and you know what they call you in this business when you can do it all? They call you a threat. If it isn't my voice that "wows" them, it'll be my hair, and if it isn't my hair, it'll be my costumes, and if it isn't my costumes it'll be my sparkling banter, and if it isn't that, it'll most assuredly be my dismount, because I am a classically-trained gymnast. And if all else fails – which only happens about 10 percent of the time - I can show pictures of when I could still do the Chinese splits.

7. What, if anything, have you ever wanted to change about yourself? My panties.

Dina Martina, Photo Credit: David Belisle8. What can we expect next from Dina Martina? More charity work. As you know, I've been working effortlessly to eradicate pink eye - or at least develop a vaccine - and so this next month is going to be National Pink Eye Awareness Month, in my mind, and I'm thinking there'll be several awareness-raising seminars and fundraisers and white water rafting trips. And in the high-risk neighborhoods, I'm going to be setting up mascara wand exchanges and those will be totally anonymous. And all of these events will come to a head on the 28th, when there'll be a marathon benefit, in which the participants will be sleeping in shifts, and I'm hoping that that will raise money somehow. It's called Napping for the Cure.

9. If you could be any original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Was "gravy" one of them?

10. How do you want to be remembered? I'd like to be remembered as a pretty lady who gave 150% onstage, even if only a small portion of that made it to the audience.

Dina Martina, Photo Credit: Bobby MillerMore on Dina: 

Tragic singer, horrible dancer and surreal raconteur, the hysterically funny Dina Martina debuted at Seattle’s Center on Contemporary Art in 1989, instantly gleaning reviews that dubbed her "magically warped," "hilariously unfortunate" and "utter genius."  Since then, she’s packed venues in New York, Los Angeles, London, Toronto and San Francisco and shared the bill with acts such as Modest Mouse, Margaret Cho, Nina Hagen and Village People.

Absolutely packed with ludicrous song, horrifying stories and overburdened costumes, Dina Martina’s shows are impossible to adequately describe, other than that they’ve become synonymous with jaw-dropping pathos and mind-blowing comedy. Dina Martina has been hailed as "Divinely funny" (Time Out London), "Painfully funny and demented" (Seattle Times) and "The most original drag performer working in America today" (Village Voice). What a Dina Martina show is, quite simply put, is a smart and hilarious evening of entertainment that you will never forget.

Recently, Dina Martina’s hugely successful shows in New York and Provincetown have made ardent fans of John Waters, Whoopi Goldberg, Matt Stone, Jennifer Coolidge, Graham Norton and many others.  Martina is the 2012 recipient of The Stranger Genius Award for Theater and has been nominated for an Alpert Award, a SPIT Award for Best Solo Show and two GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Off-Off Broadway Theater. She did not win those. Hooray!

Saturday
Sep202014

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with the cast of National Lampoon's Bayside! The Musical!: The Saved By The Bell Musical

Live from their Opening Night at Theatre 80 in NYC, "Call Me Adam" interviews the cast of National Lampoon's Bayside! The Musical!: The Saved By The Bell Musical including Dustin Diamond (Saved By The Bell's original "Screech"), Sam Harvey ("Zack Morris"), Katie Mebane ("Kelly Kapowski"), John Duff ("AC Slater") , Justin Cimino ("Screech Powers"), Shamira Clark ("Lisa Turtle"), Amanda Nicholas ("Every Other Student At Bayside"), Seth Blum ("Mr. Belding/The Max/Others"), April Kidwell and Adriana Spencer ("Jessie Spano", not featured in interview).

National Lampoon's Bayside! The Musical! plays at Theatre 80 in New York City (80 St. Marks Street at 1st Avenue)! Click here for tickets!

For more on Bayside! The Musical! be sure to visit http://baysidethemusical.com and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

Interview with cast of National Lampoon's Bayside The Musical: