Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

    

"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in Off-Broadway (312)

Monday
Mar302015

Call Redialed: Eddie Capuano in My Big Gay Italian Funeral

"Call Me Adam" catches up with actor Eddie Capuano as we talk about his guest starring return to the hit Off-Broadway show My Big Gay Italian Funeral, written by Anthony Wilkinson, playing at St. Lukes Theatre in NYC (308 West 46th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Eddie will be My Big Gay Italian Funeral's guest star on Sunday, April 19 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Eddie follow him on Twitter!

1. On April 19, you are making your return engagement to My Big Gay Italian Funeral as their special guest star! What initially made you want to guest star in this show and what excites you about your return? The show has been running for two years and my friend Hugh Hysell was in it, so when the opportunity came up, I jumped on it. The show is hilarious and I want to try and do it better than the first time. 

Eddie Capuano with Hugh Hysell2. What went through your head when My Big Gay Italian Funeral asked you back? I was honored. I added a little Naked Eddie sass at the end and Anthony liked it. I'd like to hope that helped in getting me asked back.

3. What is it like to be the guest star and perform with a cast that has already bonded together? It's awkward at first like any new situation. But the cast was all very helpful and gave me support the whole way. Even though it's not a huge part, it's nerve wracking not having a lot of rehearsal, but this cast had my back.

Eddie Capuano in "My Big Gay Italian Funeral"4. As a Gay-Italian, what do you identify most with about the show? Absofuckinglutey everything. From the drama to the comedy. The superstitions. Anthony's writing is so funny because to some degree I've witnessed these characters in real life. I think everyone has no matter Gay, str8, Italian or German. That's why audiences love it. It's universal.

5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? Thinking the show was even better than they hoped.

6. If you were you having your own "Big Gay Italian Funeral," what celebrities would you want to attend? Madonna, Gaga, Lily Tomlin and Stephen King DUH.

Eddie Capuano in "My Big Gay Italian Funeral"7. What's the best advice you've ever received? Do what you love and you'll figure out how to make a living.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? There is always room for improvement.

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you chose? To breath life to the dead. I'd like my dad, uncle, and dog back. But not like in a creepy Pet Sematary way. But like in the same way they were before they were sick and passed away.

10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? The Naked Eddie. Bathtub Gin, two olives and a sliced cucumber with a dash of Franks Red Hot sauce because I put that shit on everything.

Eddie Capuano, Photo Credit: Richard GasparroMore on Eddie:

Just recently joined AEA. He has been nominated for two NJ Perry Awards. Previous Favorite Roles: "Manny" in Incongruence, "Bill" in Lobby Hero, "Dale" in The Temperamentals, "Lil Charles" in August Osage County, "Rocky" in Rocky Horror, "Toddy" in Take Me Out, "Michal" in Pillowman, "Darius" in Jeffrey, and "Millet" in Fuddy Meers.

Monday
Mar092015

Call Answered: Jeremy Duncan Pape: Woyzeck, FJF

Jeremy Duncan Pape"Call Me Adam" chats with director Jeremy Duncan Pape about his adaptation of Georg Büchner's Woyzeck. Presented by No-Win's Productions, Woyzeck, FJF will play at the New Ohio Theatre in NYC (154 Christopher Street between Greenwich and Washington Streets) through March 21.

Using Büchner's original dialogue, Woyzeck, FJF, examines the end of a man’s life through the lens of his own insurmountable madness. It has been radically re-imagined as the haunting story of a condemned man desperate to uncover the truth in a dangerous world. Click here for tickets!

1. From February 28-March 21, your adaptation of Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck will be playing at the New Ohio Theatre in NYC. What made you want to adapt and direct this show? I first read Woyzeck in undergrad and immediately felt a connection to it. Büchner’s stunning language was just too much for me to ignore. Over the years I would occasionally pick it up and read it and eventually I decided to completely re-approach the play. Things crystalized and Woyzeck, FJF came to be.

2. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Woyzeck, FJF? The long answer is that I want people to have a better understanding of what it means to live without being able to relate to the world as everyone else seems to; a better understanding of what it means to be mad. The real person that this play is based on was almost certainly a schizophrenic, a condition that we know very little about, much less understand. If a better understanding ultimately leads to compassion for a murderer, then I will feel that we have accomplished our goals.

The set of "Woyzeck, FJF"3. What excites you about having this cast bring Woyzeck, FJF to life? I trust each and every one of them, they trust me, and they trust each other. They are creative, passionate artists who bring everything that they have to every role. To have them invest themselves in this idea is an honor. You really just have to see them at work to understand.

4. What makes The New Ohio Theatre the perfect venue for this production of Woyzeck, FJF? As with many productions, the space in which these characters live is a character in and of itself. Wide open, unique, challenging, the New Ohio stage is just right for a play like this. Then you add in the wonderful people who make up the New Ohio and you get something perfect. Robert, Marc and Alan have been so welcoming and supportive and I cannot imagine our first production happening anywhere else.

"Woyzeck, FJF", Photo Credit: Scott Wynn5. This production of Woyzeck, FJF is set within the claustrophobic confines of a hospital. Tormented by the figures of his mind, memory and reality, "Woyzeck" struggles to understand why he is being held, and must finally face the terrible truth of what he has done. When has there been a time in your life when you had to face the truth of something you've done that you didn't want to see? August 2003.

6. Additionally, Woyzeck, FJF examines the end of a man’s life through the lens of his own insurmountable madness. If you were at the end of your life, how would you want to be remembered? A teacher, a father and maybe a little bit mad.

Cast of "Woyzeck, FJF", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland7. What has been the best advice you've ever received? Don’t take yourself too seriously.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a director? I have learned how much I like listening.

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Pyrokinesis.

10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? Bourbon. Or rye. Or both. And cigar bitters. And I’m not telling you the rest. I think I’ll call it a Last Breath.

Jeremy Duncan PapeMore on Jeremy:

Jeremy Duncan Pape holds an MFA in directing from the New School for Drama and a BFA in acting from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. His directing credits include Carlos Cisco’s The Last Days, Bill Winegardner’s Waste of Space and William Whitehurst’s Knuckleball, which won Best Drama and Best Overall Production at the 2008 San Francisco Fringe. Jeremy’s directing and design work was seen in the Amoralists’ critically acclaimed 2008-2011 seasons at P.S. 122 and Theater 80. From 2006-2010 he was the Associate Artistic Director and Technical Director of EndTimes Productions. Currently, Jeremy is the Production Manager for The Amoralists and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and the founding Artistic Director of No-Win Productions.

Friday
Feb202015

Call Answered: Kenyon Phillips: The Life + Death of Kenyon Phillips

Kenyon Phillips, Photo Credit: Spencer Drate"Call Me Adam" chats with singer, songwriter, actor, writer, model, and DJ Kenyon Phillips about his show The Life + Death of Kenyon Phillips which will be playing a limited run at The Box in NYC (189 Chrystie Street) February 20, February 28, March 7, and March 13 at 8pm! (Doors open at 7:30pm) Click here for tickets!

The Life + Death of Kenyon Phillips is a 90-minute rock opera that uses a cabaret-variety show format to explore the past, present and future of downtown performance artist Kenyon Phillips. In addition to Kenyon and his all-girl backing band, The Ladies In Waiting, the cast includes cultural critic and TV personality Michael Musto, Tony winner Cady Huffman, Tony nominee Gabriel Barre, and a host of aerialists, burlesquers, and other shining stars from the NYC circus underground.

For more on Kenyon be sure to visit http://www.TheKenyonPhillips.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

1. From February 20-March 7, you are presenting a limited run of your show The Life + Death of Kenyon Phillips. What excites you about this upcoming engagement? So many things! Mounting the show at The Box is super exciting because we can feature circus acts that Joe’s Pub couldn’t accommodate for the earlier iterations – like aerialists and tightrope walkers. And I’m in love with my new cast – especially Cady Huffman, who plays my mom, and Gabriel Barre, who plays my dad. I’m also loving Michael Musto’s new role, which is much larger than it was in the previous versions. We’ve been having a lot of fun, and that makes me feel like the audience is going to have fun too.

2. You have done this show previously at Joe's Pub, what made now the right time to do a multiple night run of the show as opposed to a one night concert? We sold out Joe’s Pub every time we did it there, which made me realize that there really was an audience for this crazy show. One-night affairs are sexy and loaded with excitement, but there can be a sense of disappointment when they’re over – like you wish you could do it again. I used to emcee at The Box, and I’m friends with one of the owners. They happened to have room in their schedule for an early show in February and March, so we just decided to go for it. Given the burlesque nature of the show, it really is the perfect venue for us. Hopefully this limited run will help build an even bigger audience.

"The Life + Death of Kenyon Phillips" at Joe's Pub3. The Life & Death of Kenyon Phillips is a 90-minute rock-opera that combines an interactive cabaret-variety show format with burlesque dancers, aerialists, and other circus acts to bring your story to life. What made you want to format the show this way and how does it add to your nightly enjoyment of performing the show? I had been doing concerts with my band, The Ladies In Waiting, at Joe’s Pub where I was bringing up guest performers – almost like a variety show. The original goal was to keep the audience excited and on their toes, while giving talented friends like Michael Musto, dancer Marlon Taylor-Wiles and chanteuse Lady Rizo a chance to do what they do in an intimate cabaret setting. It wasn’t long before a good friend suggested that I use this format to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end – and that I make it my story. Another friend suggested that I watch the Max Ophuls film Lola Montes for inspiration. If you don’t know it (I didn’t!), a 19th-century courtesan reenacts her life within the context of a seedy midwestern circus. It’s beautiful and sad and bizarre, and made me realize that telling my life story didn’t necessarily entail doing a one-man show. By formatting the show like a traditional burlesque (with strippers, circus acts, and vaudevillian comedy), I can literally turn my life into a circus – especially when things get too painful. And selfishly, I get a major contact high from having all of these performers around. When I have a Tony winner like Cady Huffman playing my mom or an acro-juggler like Kelsey Strauch playing my cheating ex, how can I not have a ball?

Kenyon Phillips, Photo Credit: Nadia Itani4. What was it like to go back through your life to create this show? Were there moments when you felt like you didn't have the emotional strength to get through everything to put the show together or was it a delight to go back through your life? Revealing! I realized just how much I live in the past. Certain moments are painful or embarrassing, of course, but that probably means they need to be reenacted in front of an audience. And by turning those moments into musical numbers and circus acts, I can process those painful memories and, in some cases, overcome them.

5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing The Life & Death of Kenyon Phillips? I want them to be entertained, obviously. But I also want them to feel better about themselves when they leave the theater. Hopefully they'll be inspired to air their own dirty laundry, and overcome whatever shame or regret they have in the process. We all have shame and regret, but we’re only as sick as our secrets. Choosing love over fear, and to stay present instead of living in the past – that’s the moral, I suppose. Pretty lofty for a burlesque rock opera, but still!

6. What makes The Box the perfect venue to present this limited run of the show? The fact that it’s a burlesque house, for starters. I love its notoriety – the fact that when you say The Box, people assume that you’re doing something sexy and shocking. I also love the intimacy of the space. Joe’s Pub has that cabaret house intimacy, and The Box does, too – but even more so, since it only seats about half as many people as Joe’s Pub. Most importantly, The Box can accommodate circus performances. Remarkably few spaces in NYC can, probably because of liability issues. I always wanted to have aerialists spinning above the audience’s heads – and now I can!

Kenyon Phillips, Photo Credit: Clay Patrick McBride7. You have been dubbed "the love child of Luther Vandross and Steven Tyler." How did you get this title and what did it mean to you to be compared to two legendary artists of our time? My friend Michael Musto (who plays a big part in the show) first called me that. Knowing Michael, I think he was being facetious – or maybe he was just trying to come up with the least likely combination imaginable? Either way, I’m honored. Luther Vandross was a genius, and Steven Tyler left an indelible stamp on my childhood between "Walk This Way," "Sweet Emotion," and "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)." And actually, both have glam roots – Tyler was always a glam rocker, and Vandross got his big break singing backups on David Bowie’s Young Americans album.

8. Some of your music has been featured on such TV shows as Showtime's Shameless, The Eleventh Hour on CBS, and The Mighty B! on Nickelodeon. First of all, how did you get your music onto these shows? What went through your head when you the deal was complete that your music was being featured? What was it like to watch the show and have that moment of "Oh my gosh, that's my song right here at this moment in the show"? I have my brother Stephen to thank for the Shameless and Eleventh Hour music placements. He and his writing partner Tim P. have a licensing label called Transphonic Records, which pitches songs for TV shows, movies and commercials. The songs we’ve gotten on Shameless and Eleventh Hour were actually songs I wrote and recorded with him – very "all in the family." The Nickelodeon placement was different. Amy Pohler had an animated series on Nickelodeon called The Mighty B! One of my old bandmates – Jonny Cragg, who’s also the drummer for Spacehog – was friends with Amy and the show's creators, and asked if I wanted to write a Rocky Horror-style song with him for a Halloween episode. Frankenfurter’s always been my spirit animal, so of course I said yes. Jonny and I recorded our version, and then we got to produce a version that Amy sang – in character, with a lisp. Both versions ended up in the episode. That led to more songwriting assignments for the series, including a boy band-style anthem with innuendo-laced lyrics. It’s surreal to hear your songs on TV. It’s like, wait, am I dreaming? Maybe I am. Maybe this whole interview is a dream!

Kenyon Phillips9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Be here now. It may be trite, but it’s hard to shake a stick at Ram Dass.

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a singer, songwriter, actor, writer, model, and DJ? I guess I’ve learned what I like. I like making people happy. And I like attention. I’ve also learned that what I like doesn’t seem to be very lucrative!

11. How do you want to be remembered? Like a good camper: As someone who left the world a little better than I found it.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I wish my hands could turn into veggie burgers whenever I was hungry. And that they’d grow back as hands after I was done eating, like a starfish. What’s that super power called?

13. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? Coffee. Cream and sugar.

14. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer briefs! Especially Diesel ones – they’re so Eurotrashy, as all men’s underwear should be.

Kenyon Phillips, Photo Credi: Nadia Itani.More on Kenyon:

Dubbed "the love child of Luther Vandross and Steven Tyler" by pop culture commentator Michael Musto, Kenyon Phillips knows how to put on a show. The wildly theatrical singer, songwriter, actor, writer, model, dancer, and DJ has been busy "being there, doing that" all over New York City since the days of Y2K. In addition to founding and fronting the bands Roma! and Unisex Salon and contributing lead vocals to Thrill A Minute, Kenyon has written and produced songs for Amy Poehler, Joey Arias, Raven O, and Sherry Vine; moonlighted as emcee of notorious variety show nightclub The Box; performed with renowned "punk ballerina" and choreographer Karole Armitage; and appeared as a silhouetted dancer in multiple campaigns for the Apple iPod. As he puts it, "There are very few things that I won't do for money." Backed by his all-girl band The Ladies In Waiting, Kenyon's stage shows are a blend of orchestral rock, surrealist theater and cabaret –frequently bolstered by surprise appearances from an array of downtown celebs. His songs have been featured on several network and cable television programs, including Shameless on Showtime, Eleventh Hour on CBS, and The Mighty B! on Nickelodeon. His debut solo EP Fire in the Hole was released in September 2013, and was helmed by multi-platinum award-winning producer, mixer and songwriter David Bendeth (Paramore, Papa Roach, Breaking Benjamin, Cowboy Junkies, Crash Test Dummies, IMA Robot). Kenyon is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Monday
Feb162015

Call Answered: 54 Below Conference Call: The Altar Boyz: 10 Year Anniversary Reunion Concert

"Call Me Adam" chats with the original cast of the hit Off-Broadway musical Altar Boyz, Andy Karl, Ryan Duncan, and David Josefsberg (due to scheduling Tyler Maynard was not able to be part of this interview) about their upcoming 10 Year Anniversary reunion concert at 54 Below on March 1 at 9:30pm and 11:30pm! 

March 1, 2015 marks the 10th Anniversary of Altar Boyz opening Off-Broadway. To celebrate, 54 Below is bringing back a multitude of boyz, in addition to Andy, Ryan, David, and Tyler to perform their hit songs including Andrew Call, Jim Daly, Mitch Dean, Tim Dolan, James Royce Edwards, Carlos L. Encinias, Neil Haskell, Kevin Kern, Joey Khoury, Kyle Dean Massey, Travis Nesbitt, Mauricio Perez, Ryan J. Ratliff, Nick Sanchez, and Daniel Torres.

1. On March 1, you are performing at 54 Below to celebrate the 10 Year Anniversary of Altar Boyz. What are you looking forward to most about this celebration reunion concert?

Andy Karl: It's always the best feeling to see the cast that I felt a brotherhood with. That's what it's like really. Seeing my brothers, my family. No matter how much time has passed we always have a great time together.

Ryan Duncan: I'm really looking forward to singing with the Boyz again. The show is about brotherhood and it's hard to avoid when singing with the guys who I collaborated with to create the show. I'm also looking forward to hearing what our stories about the experience might be...and a wee bit nervous about them.

David Josefsberg: Altar Boyz was definitely one of my favorite shows to perform in. We had a real opportunity to put a lot of ourselves into our characters. So, probably, getting to get back into "Abe," singing these awesome songs....and most of all, getting to sing these harmonies with the guys!

2. What excites you about having this celebration at 54 Below?

Andy Karl: Always a pleasure to be at 54 Below I've appeared on stage and watched performances there. Your always gonna have a good time at FITTY-FOW-BALOW.

Ryan Duncan: I think that there will be fans and friends there to celebrate the show which excites me. It's also exciting that the show ran so long which is so rare nowadays for a book musical Off-Broadway.

David Josefsberg: I love 54 Below..it has become THE place to do it all for our community. Fantastic, classy space!

Cast of "Altar Boyz" left to right, Scott Porter, David Josefsberg, Andy Karl, Tyler Maynard, Ryan Duncan, Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg3. What do you hope fans will enjoy most about this celebration reunion concert?

Andy Karl: I liken it to fans of New Kids On the Block going to one of their concerts. Good time to remember the fun and also see how old we've gotten...but they still "got it." They still got it.

Ryan Duncan: I hope the fans will enjoy some of the background stories and information that went into making the show. Also seeing some of their favorite replacements and understudies.

David Josefsberg: For those who have seen the show it will be amazing to see the different casts come together, and for newbees? I guess they get to see what I say is a great, great show!

4. For someone who has never seen Altar Boyz, what is one reason you would tell them to attend this reunion concert?

Andy Karl: Come hear the music that is really cleaver & cool, and characters that are hilarious. This show will live on and on with many companies because it's a rare piece of theatre that is a highly entertaining.

Ryan Duncan: The show has been done around the world and continues to be done around the country. I hope people that haven't seen it will go out and see one of these productions. It's a really special show. I think the night will be very accessible to those who don't know the show since we'll talk about creating a show with the composers and writer.

David Josefsberg: I would say to come see some old men playin....no, um, Altar Boyz was funny, had amazing songs, and was really moving 10 years ago.....and guess what...it still is! And who doesn't want to see Tony nominee Andy Karl and other Broadway folks riffing and beatboxing!

Cast of "Altar Boyz", left to right, Andy Karl, Ryan Duncan, Scott Porter, Tyler Maynard, David Josefsberg, Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg5. Since this concert is 10 years after Altar Boyz opened, will you perform this concert with the 10 years of living life you've had or will you perform it with the experience you had 10 years ago?

Andy Karl: My experience over the past ten years has made me so aware to look back and enjoy those wonderful times I had on stage. If I can even get close to what we felt every night back then, I will be more than thrilled.

Ryan Duncan: Oh, I think we'll perform with 10 more years of experience while giving the flavor of what we did back then. I know I'd get a kick out of guys that are well out of their 20s singing boyband songs anyway.

David Josefsberg: I have a feeling I will fall right back into 2005 Joberg....I have been singing the music in the car (with my 10 year old who was born just about the time we started rehearsals) and all the riffs and old feelings come flooding back! 

6. If you had to pick one song from the show that you are looking most forward to performing at this 10 year anniversary celebration, which one would it be?

Andy Karl: I just hope I remember the words to my solo "Body Mind and Soul."

Ryan Duncan: I'm excited to sing the entire "La Vida" as I did on the album but I think "Number 918" will be a crack up. There's a riff I threw in there in the show and on the album that I'll laugh at as a personal joke with myself.

David Josefsberg: All of them....but for your question.....I will say "I Believe".......Maybe I can make it through without crying!

Cast of "Altar Boyz", left to right, Scott Porter, Tyler Maynard, Andy Karl, Ryan Duncan, David Josefsberg, Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg7. Two of my favorite songs in Altar Boyz are "Everybody Fits" and "I Believe." "Everybody Fits" is a song about how no matter what our differences are, everybody should feel like they belong. Can you tell me a time when you felt like you didn't belong? "I Believe" is a song about feeling lucky for meeting someone in your life. Who are one or two people that you are grateful you met in your life? What makes them important to you?

Ryan Duncan: I love "Everybody Fits" because firstly, who doesn't love puppets? But also the message of the show was inclusion, acceptance and love and I think that's why our audiences were so diverse from non-religious to clergy. I'm really proud that we didn't alienate anyone and we walked a great line that I think, made everybody fit into our Altar Boyz family...a real message of Jesus right? I have felt I didn't fit or belong several times during my life, one that comes to mind is continuing this youth group from one high school after I transferred to another high school which they called the "ghetto school." Aside from the fact that people don't know what ghetto is (cause they're trifling and racist), they treated me like I suddenly didn't belong. Some of the people were super-douchey...then my school beat them in EVERYTHING my senior year so...they can eat it.

"I Believe" ends with the Boyz all looking at each other. I love that. There are so many people in my life that I know I met for a reason and sometimes the circumstances were really less than desirable to meet them, but we were meant to be in each others' lives. I think sometimes oppression and frustration makes people bond in the right way. We're all connected. Some people though are there to teach us about ourselves, ya know, the ones you meet but need to cut loose after a while.

David Josefsberg: First of all, is everyone answering these questions? Because I see you picked two songs where I sing the lead....good choices (sorry guys)...Anyhoo, sure, I bet everyone, everywhere has felt like they didn't belong at some point. Being in theater as a kid? Being Jewish? Everyone has something. You just have to trust that we all have felt it, and it is all okay!

As for I believe....I will go with my wife Liz, who makes me better everyday, and my children, Cooper and Benji, who have made me the man I am today.

Cast of "Altar Boyz", left to right, Scott Porter, Tyler Maynard, Andy Karl, Ryan Duncan, David Josefsberg, Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg8. Looking back on your time in Altar Boyz, what are some of your most cherished memories?

Andy Karl: Backstage whipping each other with a plastic boot-shoe-horn to get revved up for the show. Sounds awful but it was hilarious! and The friendships that only a fake-Christian-boy-band can bring.

Ryan Duncan: My Altar Boyz experiences were super dreamy. Exhausting and dreamy. The release of the cast album at the Virgin Megastore was great. Performing at the MTC Gala and the Drama Desk Awards were great. The way the audience took to the show was just amazing. It's rare to be a part of something that wonderful. Dressing room antics are cherished memories and I'm a little afraid of which ones will be shared on March 1.

David Josefsberg: Wow, dressing room whiffering, 3 years of creating the show before it happened Off-Broadway, the rotating television, tight harmonies, having my wife and Cooper (my son) at the show and thinking of his birth during "I Believe" (didn't get through that without crying), great friends, kick-ass dancing, Arbata, Shanky....so many!

9. What's the best advice you've ever received?

Andy Karl: Brush your teeth. Dental hygiene and fresh breath are a top priority for your health.

Ryan Duncan: Before I did Altar Boyz, someone told me to enjoy the down time I had. The time I had "nothing" going on, because soon you'll be really busy and wish you had a little break. Be grateful, remember how many people would love to do what you're doing. Also, it's for the audience or we wouldn't be there.

David Josefsberg: Wipe from front to back....wait that wasn't for me....um, you don't have to cry to make the audience cry (David Hyde Pierce)

Cast of "Altar Boyz", left to right, Andy Karl, Tyler Maynard, Scott Porter, Ryan Duncan, David Josefsberg, Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer?

Andy Karl: Aside from singing above an "A", I will try not to put any limits on myself. I will try everything.

Ryan Duncan: I've learned that the audience really informs your character and the show. When you finally get in front of an audience, you see what they need for their experience and what they need to get the story. It humbles you sometimes but really teaches me that it's for them. Being generous with your show and other actors on stage, enriches you. Also, you don't really need to poop before a show. It's just nerves. They lie to you.

David Josefsberg: That I am pretty good at hearing NO, until I can get to a YES!

11. How do you want to be remembered?

Andy Karl: Putting smiles on faces and affecting people's lives for the better. I hope that's how I'm remembered anyway.

Ryan Duncan: I want to be remembered for always being full-out. And having bouncy hair.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?

Andy Karl: Turning anything I want into money.

Ryan Duncan: My magical power would be to to make chicken wings appear when or wherever I want them.

David Josefsberg: I will ask my son Benji....he says Tiger power....I said what is that.....he said it means I can turn into a tiger....makes sense. Oh, and Nancy Opels vocal power....yes! P.S. come see Honeymoon in Vegas!

13. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what would the ingredients be?

Andy Karl: The Dancing Martini. Vodka, vermouth and pure adrenalin. Nice buzz and no sleep.

Ryan Duncan: If the drink was Altar Boyz themed: Juan's Bloody Maria Madre de Dios (Juan's Bloody Mary Mother of God). It would be a really spicy bloody mary with chili powder and garnished with a cross of celery with Jesus shaped bacon on it. Story: one time for Cinco de Mayo, I ("Juan") put out Mexican candies and decorations and trinkets on the merchandise table for the audience and the candy all had chili powder in them.  Audience members were complaining and spitting up and I was told my candies created an issue. I felt terrible, but then I threw chiclets out at the end of the show and the audience seemed to get over it. Oops.

Cast of "Altar Boyz", left to right, Andy Karl, Ryan Duncan, Scott Porter, Tyler Maynard, David JosefsbergDavid Josefsberg: Everyone knows my signature drink is bourbon and sudafed! One ice cube!

14. Boxers or Briefs?

Andy Karl: Boxer/briefs. Full coverage and keeps all things secure.

Ryan Duncan: Briefs!

David Josefsberg: Boxer Briefs!

Thursday
Jan222015

Call Answered: Todd Schroeder: Sam Harris' HAM: A Musical Memoir" at ARS NOVA

Todd Schroeder"Call Me Adam" chats with musical director, composer and performer Todd Schroeder about musically directing and performing in Sam Harris' HAM: A Musical Memoir, currently playing a three week limited engagement at ARS NOVA (511 West 54th Street) in NYC through January 24 only! Click here for tickets!

For more on Todd be sure to visit http://www.toddschroeder.net and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

1. You are currently musical directing and performing in Sam Harris' HAM: A Musical Memoir at Ars Nova in NYC through January 24. You have been working with Sam for over 20 years, but what made you want to work on this particular project? Yes, we have been performing together for many years. One of my favorite aspects of our collaboration is that each show, concert and project we do is an opportunity to try new things and continually challenge ourselves. I was particularly excited to work together on this project because besides musical directing and accompanying Sam, I also act during pivotal moments throughout the show. I play Sam’s father, his baseball coach and a few other voices in Sam’s head. His father has a monologue near the end of the show that presented great challenge and opportunity for me. Also, Sam and I wrote some original material for this show which added another enticement to sign on.

Sam Harris and Todd Schroeder in Sam Harris' "HAM: A Musical Memoir"2. Last year HAM: A Musical Memoir was performed at 54 Below for four shows only. What made now the right time to bring the show back to NYC, but for a limited 3 week run? Last year when we performed at 54 Below, the timing coincided with the release of his book, HAM. The show was a "liter-usical." Sam was at first going to just do book readings and signings in bookstores but we felt that there was an audience that would love to have an experience greater than only hearing him reading the stories from the book, and those shows integrated Sam singing songs that complemented the stories. Those shows were at 54 Below in January 2014, and were attended by our current producers of HAM, A Musical Memoir. They approached Sam about turning the book reading into a full-fledged theatrical production. After we finished the book tour, we quickly changed our focus to theatricalize the stories.

3. Out of all the venues in NYC, what made ARS NOVA the right venue for this run of the HAM: A Musical Memoir? It’s an intimate, warm setting with no obstructions. The sound travels beautifully in there and we use very little amplification. And the crew are all top notch. When I first saw the Ars Nova Theater, they were running a show called Jacuzzi. The set was all turned around in the theater. The seats were built up against a wall and they built a chalet that could accommodate a full-sized operating jacuzzi. But when I came back in January, the theater had been returned to its normal venue and then the beauty of Ars Nova really shined.

Sam Harris in Sam Harris' "HAM: A Musical Memoir"4. What do you identify most with about HAM: A Musical Memoir? At the core of HAM is the message of wanting to feel fulfilled, wanting to feel a sense of belonging and knowing that even if you have different ideas than the community around you, those differences should be celebrated. I grew up in a small town with a musical gift but most people who were like me had left town to pursue their dreams. I had no one to identify and share with. Fortunately, I had amazing support from my family and teachers.

5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing HAM: A Musical Memoir? I believe that Sam always thought he had to do more to belong or feel chosen. When really, what he needed to do was accept himself and all that made him who he is. Though his story is unique to Sam, and very entertaining, the message is universal. Sam and I wrote a few new songs for the show, of which the most poignant is one called "Broken Wing." The last line is "I’ve only got a broken wing, and it can’t keep me down." It says that we all have obstacles and reasons to doubt and fear our life’s journey. But they are not enough for us to give up. Our obstacles are only broken wings and they will heal and we will fly again.

Billy Porter6. What was the best part about having Billy Porter direct this show? I have known and respected Billy Porter for many years. We first performed together in L.A. many years ago and he was an amazing performer with an incredible voice. What I really love about Billy now, above and beyond his talent, is his confidence in who he is and what he shares. His enthusiasm is infectious and his acting ability is undeniable. (Hello, Tony Award!) He is a wonderful musician and he was the perfect fit to bring this book to life. Billy and Sam had worked together on Grease, and they even shared a dressing room. They have an understanding of each other both growing up in difficult environments and getting national attention from Star Search. Billy directed Sam in a way that only someone who has been there could. And Sam really trusted Billy. It was great to watch, laugh, cry and let the whole process evolve with this talented team.

7. In addition to musically producing HAM: A Musical Memoir, you have produced several of Sam's albums (including my all time favorite Revival). Is your process of musically directing Sam different for a live show than for an album? If so, how is it different? I have had the privilege of producing on Sam’s last five albums and even wrote "Don’t Let the World Step On Your Soul" that was featured on Revival. It’s so great to be in the studio with Sam. His range and control and passion are so unique and combined are the reason he has been called "one of the greatest voices of our time." There is a difference in musical directing and producing Sam live rather than in the studio. When we are doing a show, it’s about choosing the right key, placement and pacing so that he can perform night after night. When we are in the studio, it’s about letting it fly and capturing all the passion and emotion in every note and syllable. It’s about feeling the same sense of awe after listening to it over and over. Then we know we have it.

Todd Schroeder8. What do you think the secret is to your over two-decade collaboration with Sam? What have been some of your favorite moments working together? Sam and I met in November of 1992. I had just moved to L.A. and was musical directing a Christmas benefit concert and Sam was the headliner. I had watched Sam when he was on Star Search and of course, thought he was amazing. So I was very excited when I got the call to work with him. I remember the day we first met. I went to his place to rehearse. We started working on "Bridge Over Troubled Water." It was instant magic. We both connected emotionally, musically and by the end of the rehearsal, he said "I have to work with someone until New Year’s and then I would like you to be my musical director for the rest of my life." Well, that was 22 years ago. We have had many favorite moments working together. Carnegie Hall, twice. We performed at the White House. Probably my most favorite was when we performed on The Oprah Winfrey Show right after 9/11. It was her first live broadcast and we were brought in for what she called "Healing America Through Music." It featured BeBe and Cece Winans, Donnie McClurkin, Denyce Graves and Sam and myself. It was truly awesome. And Oprah is the real deal.

9. You are also the founder of the Todd Schroeder Young Artist Grant, which presents scholarships to graduating high school students wanting to pursue careers in the arts. This grant has been in existence for 20 years now. What made you want to start this grant?  What is it like to meet the winners of the grant? How do their stories inspire you at this point in your career? I grew up in the small town of Sonora, California, in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains in Northern California. My mom was a social worker and a financial aid director at the local college. So growing up, I was always told how important it is to give back and support your community. In 1995, I was musical directing for Rita Coolidge and decided to do a concert in my hometown to raise money to present a scholarship at my high school. Rita came up to perform and a few of my other friends did too. It was a success. I thought it was going to be a one-time thing but so many people were excited about it, I went back the following year and did it again. Here we are twenty years later and it really is an honor. Other performers in the past twenty years have included Sam Harris, Jason Alexander, David Burnham, Jordan Hill, Kevin Fisher, Mark Espinoza and a bunch of other talented friends who have all generously donated their time and talent.

We have given over 45 scholarships to graduating high school seniors that want to pursue their dream in singing, acting, playing an instrument, dancing, drawing, directing and even stage managing. The concerts are in the spring and I present the scholarship and a trophy right before the students graduate. Many have gone on to become music teachers and one even started a scholarship because of how he felt when he received mine. Their success stories inspire me constantly and remind me that when you throw a pebble in the water, you never know where the ripples will find shore.

10. In 2013, BroadwayWorld named you "Musical Director of the Year." What did this honor mean to you? It is so wonderful and important to be recognized for hard work. I love what I get to do and the many people I get to work with. I know that not everyone gets to wake up and do what they love to do for a living and I assure you, there are days that are tougher than others but at the end of it, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my gift, my joy and my passion for what I do.

11. How do you want to be remembered? I try to bring passion, enthusiasm and joy to everything I do. Playing piano, acting, singing, golfing, drinking tequila…For me, these are the elements for a full and happy life. If those qualities could be associated with me, and shared, I would like that very much. I am fortunate to have two beautiful daughters that have taken on those qualities (of course, with the exception of the tequila!).

BONUS QUESTIONS:

12. What is the best advice you've ever received? I think it would have been a "teaching joke" told by my mother. She often asked, "How do you eat an elephant?" and then without waiting for an answer, said, "One bite at a time." Sometimes, reaching the finish line can be daunting and very overwhelming. It is important to remember that the only way to get there is one step at a time. It’s easier if you focus on what’s in front of you and when you accomplish that, then you can go on. I try and share this advice wherever I can.

Todd Schroeder13. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I would have loved to have worked with the late Eva Cassidy. Her voice had so many textures and I would have loved to have explored with her. Such a loss. I would like to work with Audra McDonald. She is glorious and also a Californian. And Hugh Jackman. My wife is an Aussie and I would score big points working with him!!

14. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I would split myself into two identical beings. It’s so wonderful to be on stage every night performing here in New York, but I miss my family in L.A. That superpower would enable me to simultaneously experience the best of both worlds.

15. If you could create a signature drink, what would you call it and what would the ingredients be? The "Frog in Your Throat." I musical direct several shows for Universal Studios Japan located in Osaka. For the past two years, I have show directed the "Frog Choir," part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Experience at USJ. That magic world and wonderful show commands a cocktail of equal stature.

1 oz tequila

1 oz triple sec

1 1/2 oz sweet and sour mix

1/2 oz Midori® melon liqueur

2 oz lemon lime soda

Combine tequila, lemon lime soda, triple sec, and sweet & sour mix over ice. Finish off by slowly pouring the Midori melon liquour over the drink for a colorful mixing effect.

Todd SchroederMore on Todd:

Todd has released six original albums and has written a number of original musicals, including Braveheart, The Empower Pack, Unbeatable and Longing4Love.com. For over a decade, he’s served as the vocal director for Disney’s Aladdin, A Musical Spectacular, and vocal director for Universal Studio Japan’s Wicked, as well as a number of live performance shows at their Osaka park. He also regularly teaches a Masterclass entitled Auditioning for Today’s Musical Theater across the US, as well as internationally. He has collaborated with a coterie of distinguished performers, including Angela Lansbury, Jason Alexander, Joan Ryan and Sam Harris, as well as many others. He’s also appeared on TV, acting as musical director on a number of talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Rosie O’Donnell Show and The Late Late Show. And, he’s performed at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to The White House, and with The Boston Pops, Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Duke Ellington Orchestra.