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Entries in Off-Broadway (352)

Saturday
Feb252017

Call Answered: Tulis McCall: Are You Serious? A Woman of a Certain Age Inquiries at Cornelia Street Cafe

Tulis McCall, Photo Credit: Flash RosenbergI first met Tulis McCall when we both joined a theatre blogger group. I knew Tulis loved theatre and reviewed shows and that's all I knew. Fast forward to 2017 when I'm asked to come see a one-woman show called Are You Serious? A Woman of a Certain Age Inquiries. Then I'm told that one-woman show is by Tulis McCall and I go, I love Tulis, sign me up!

One Sunday afternoon, I attended Tulis' show and I was blown away by it. Are You Serious? is a show everyone can relate to because we are all aging. There was not one part of Tulis' show that I didn't identify with. Tulis is engaging, enthusiastic, and knows how to draw an audience in. She brought up several poignant points about living, mortality, fear, goals, and accepting yourself for who you are. This truly is one show you don't want to miss.

Are You Serious? A Woman of a Certain Age Inquiries plays every Sunday at 3pm at the Cornelia Street Cafe, being extended through March 26! Click here for tickets!

For more on Tulis and Are You Serious? be sure to visit http://areyouserious.nyc and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on Cornelia Street Cafe visit http://www.corneliastreetcafe.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Oh good grief - It was always something that was comfortable and easy for me. I liked being on a stage and telling a story. Even in grammar school. To deliver a story and watch it land is a bit of magic, and to be on the initiating side is very powerful. You have to calculate and execute at the same time, and eventually you have to let go of the steering wheel for it to all work.

2. Your show, Are You Serious? is currently enjoying an extended run at Cornelia Street Café, after winning the 2015 United Solo Award for "Best Stand-Up" along with rave reviews. What made you want to create this show? I suppose it harkens back to "write what you know." I have become a "Woman of a Certain Age" and was surprised to have arrived at this juncture. When I looked around I saw not only no one talking about it unless it's as a clinical study - I saw no one who represented me. Not in the movies, onstage, nowhere. We are all over the streets here in Manhattan, but we are not represented in any artistic venue - unless of course you are an icon like the various Dames who keep working or the occassional appearance of a star like Glenn Close. But these are few and far between. I decided to write about how I was feeling, what I was thinking and observing, and see if anyone responded. They have.

Tulis McCall in "Are You Serious?", Photo Credit: Terri Mintz3. Are You Serious? is your story about becoming a WCA (Woman of a Certain Age). What is it like to talk to the audience after the show? What do they relate to most? What has someone told you that made you change something in the show? What I have heard mostly is people, women AND men, say "I am a WCA too. I relate to everything you are saying." The other conversations are with people whose opinion I seek out and we have a conversation around where they were engaged and where they were disconnected from the piece. These are great conversations because as a performer you don't "see" what the audience sees. Just as they don't see from your vantage point.

4. In the show, you say how as a child, you would say, I'm 3, I'm 4, I'm 5, etc, but then you start to hit milestones. I hit 30, I hit 40, I hit 50. Then it becomes I reached 60, I reached 70, etc. At what age did say to yourself, I'm a WCA? After you admitted that to yourself, what was your next thought?  Well, getting my Medicare Card was an eye-opener. I remember showing it to people, and my peers or those older than I responded with, "Congratulations." And people younger than I, and often by not that much, said, "What's that?" As to the "next thought" - there wasn't one. Just carry on. Those next thoughts occur gradually. Reflection. Goal setting. Reality checks. Dismissing of the naysayers in your head and externally. All sorts.

Tulis McCall in "Are You Serious?", Photo Credit: Terri Mintz5. You also talk about how men are considered to always be in their prime, but women of a certain age are considered past their prime. You could run circles around most men with all you have going on. How do you keep your youthful outlook about yourself? I have a very low threshold for boredom. That's why I live in NYC. I remember back in the day Johnny Carson complimented Jane Fonda for how she looked - she was 50 and back then that was old. Her response was, "This is how 50 should look." So I don't think of it as a "youthful outlook" because that belies my age - which is at the center of this whole conversation. The idea of old is slow, withdrawn, frail. In other words, feeble. Time to jettison that and let us all wear our age like a many colored cloak and see what hapens.

6. I love how you talk about the way your bullshit meter changes as you get older. When did you say to yourself, I'm old enough not to have to tolerate anyone's bullshit anymore? What was the most recent bullshit you didn't put up with? If I am in a group of people and someone refers to us as guys, including people IN the group, I correct them. To refer to women as GUYS makes us invisible. People say, "Oh it is just a saying. It doesn't mean anything." And I say if it doesn't mean anything why are you wasting your breath saying it? Call us folks or people or come up with something else. I will also lean into a conversation to tell someone how many times they just used the word "like." It makes them sound so stupid, the way that smoking cigarettes makes people look stupid.

Tulis McCall in "Are You Serious?"7. You also mention how as you age, you do things you may never have done before. What are some things you've done at this stage of your life, you never thought you would be doing? I never planned for the future, really. So whatever it is I am doing is usually a surprise tome. I follow my nose from one path to the next. I never thought I would be reviewing for the theatre (www.thefrontrowcenter.com). I never imagined I would produce a monologue evening once a month at the Cornelia Street Cafe (www.monologuesandmadness.com). I never thought I would be an award winning performer at United Solo Festival (2015 Best story telling script and 2016 Best Stand-Up Comedy). In 2001 I was living out in L.A. and after 9/11 I knew I had to move back. No one thought I could pull it off, move back, find a job and an apartment. Luckily I never asked anyone what they thought about it and only discovered their opinion after the fact.

8. There is a great scene where you talk about regret and the doubts that fill your head. We all have those voices. How do you keep those voices at bay instead of allowing them to flood your mind? Like I say in the show you have to get a little crazy - well craziER than the negative voices. And this is something you learn over time because eventually, if you are honest, you get bored with whining about all the bad shit that is affecting your First World Life. I am in no way Pollyanna and perky people, frankly, give me a PIA. Instead I have figured out a way to grab these voices and shake them till they are silly. You do have to give them some attention because they, like our president, are narcicistic and need attention. If you just ignore them they fester. There is a fine line between acknowledging them and giving them power - you have to strategize, get out ahead of them, just like Congress has to do as soon as it pulls it's collective head out of its own butt. The way that people are coming together to demand town hall meetings - that is what we have to do within us.

Tulis McCall9. When you become a woman of a certain age, you get to see all the gifts you've given yourself. What are the top five gifts you've given yourself? Appreciation for my fantastic sense of humor and my point of view. Quiet time and Meditation experiments. Two women's groups with whom I meet regularly. Hope. Writing.

10. What do you think is next for Tulis McCall? I am already thinking about the next incarnation for this show. It will be called All The Queen's Horses.

11. 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 better every day? Oh yeah - my fitness. I have been carrying extra weight around for awhile and I KNOW it is a protective coating. So I am using one of my women's groups to be accountable using Weight Watchers which works for me because it is all about numbers. I was always terrific in math.

THANK YOU ADAM FOR THESE GREAT QUESTIONS.

Tulis McCall, Photo Credit: Flash RosenbergMore on Tulis:

Tulis McCall is an actor, writer, producer and performer. Her first one woman show, What Everywoman Knows, was produced at the Public Theater by Michael Moriarty and the Potters Field Theatre Company, in Los Angeles by Dan Lauria, and toured nationally. Running With Scissors, directed by Philip Proctor of The Firesign Theatre, was produced in Los Angeles. She is the recipient of the 2016 Best Standup Award from UNITED SOLO™ for Are You Serious? and the 2015 Best Storytelling Script Award from UNITED SOLO™ for her show All Aboard! Since 2007, she has hosted Monologues and Madness, an evening of original work read by 12-15 actors, each month at the Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village. Tulis is the creator and editor of the theatre review site www.thefrontrowcenter.com that features 20 writers and covers over 500 shows per year.

Monday
Feb132017

Call Redialed: Charles Busch: "Naked and Unafraid" at Pangea NYC

Charles Busch, Photo Credit: Michael WakefieldEvery time I interview Charles Busch, I always learn more about what makes him tick and where his inspiration is drawn from. In this new interview, Charles and I let it all hang out as we discuss his new cabaret show Naked and Unafraid which will premiere at Pangea NYC on Saturday, March 4 at 7pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Charles be sure to visit http://charlesbusch.com and follow him on Facebook! 

For more on Pangea visit http://www.pangeanyc.com and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Charles Busch, Photo Credit: Michael Childers1. This March you are heading to Pangea NYC for your new cabaret show Charles Busch: Naked and Unafraid, where for the first time you will perform this show in "male" drag as opposed to your usual "female" drag. What made you want to create a show to be performed as yourself? The thing I love about performing in cabaret as opposed to being in a play is projecting a version of myself that is truly representative of who I am. A creative life seems to be a never ending journey of self-discovery and definition. After forty years of expressing myself through drag, I've become so comfortable with my own androgynous nature that the element of transformation means very little to me. In this performance at Pangea, I'm just going to push the androgynous meter a bit more towards the masculine. It's basically the same act, just minus one more veil.

2. In putting this show together, was your creative process any different than when you design your "drag" cabaret shows? How did your song choice differ with this show? A major part of my act is telling stories about my past and I have had quite a past, a full repertoire. At times I've decided against certain stories that placed too much of an emphasis on my being male. In this show, I'm not censoring myself at all. As far as songs, well, I'm doing some older material including a short ten minute piece as my character "Miriam Passman," to prove to myself and the audience that there really isn't that much difference. I can basically do the same show and it doesn't matter what I wear. Frankly, I haven't worn any falsies or foundation garments in years and in my regular act I've always worn pants.

3. Why did you choose to debut this show at Pangea? I asked a few of the out of town venues that I'll be performing in over the course of the next year if they'd mind if I did the show out of drag and they adamantly objected. They fear that my audience will be disappointed or worse, not show up. And it's a legitimate concern. I wanted to test the waters, and most importantly, see if I like it. I may not but I think I will. Pangea is a very safe place for me. I've known the owner Stephen and the talent coordinator Kevin Malony for many years. They were eager to provide me with a venue for this really rather mild experiment.

4. What do you hope audiences will come away with from attending this show as opposed to your previous cabaret shows? I certainly hope the audience will feel a greater freedom of expression from me and an even more honest experience of spending an hour in my company. And I really do hope they'll feel that it's not that big a difference. My persona in drag is so close to who I am in real life that it's not like they're gonna suddenly see me turn into Vin Diesel. It's basically the same persona.

Charles Busch a la Marlene Dietrich, Photo Credit: Michael Wakefield5. What are you most excited about in presenting this show? What are you most nervous about? I'm looking forward to singing with greater power because without intending I think I lighten my voice a bit in subconsciously feminizing it.

I'm a trifle concerned that perhaps the audience and I will miss the trappings of glamour that drag provides. In my act I suppose I evoke echoes of some of the great ladies at the mic; Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich etc. But perhaps with my own short hair I'll still be unconsciously evoking Judy and maybe a little Elaine Stritch. All of those ladies' stage personas traded on their androgyny. Judy in her tramp outfit and Dietrich in her men's tuxedos and even Stritch with her simple white buttoned down shirt. The great theatre critic Kenneth Tynan once wrote of Dietrich "She has sex without gender." That would be the highest compliment I could receive.

6. You will be joined once again by your long-time musical director Tom "Muscles" Judson. How will your chemistry with him differ with you performing as yourself? This should be interesting. Tom is a big good looking sexy guy and we enjoy singing romantic duets with each other. It's an element that I've never seen any other drag performer do in their shows. Not to my knowledge. Drag surprisingly can desexualize a performer. One of the things I've always admired about Rupaul is that he manages to be gorgeous, smart and sexy. Without the drag, it will be two men singing a romantic duet. I hope my seething blindingly muscular virility won't overwhelm Tom.

Charles Busch, Photo Credit: Kenn Duncan7. Many people have hang-ups about being completely naked and exposed, fearing they might be rejected or ridiculed. What has been your most terrifying naked moment? Well, very early in my career I wrote a play and starred in and for a rather extended scene was completely nude. I played incestuous identical twin brothers and well....basically in the second act...I fucked myself. My dear, it was a coup de theatre. I was less nervous than I thought I'd be, but it was a little weird knowing that every friend of mine and worse my two sisters had all seen me totally nude.

8. Since the show is titled Naked & Unafraid, when have you been naked and not afraid of what people thought? I was raised by a remarkable woman, my mother's older sister, my Aunt Lillian. My mother died when I was seven and Aunt Lillian eventually adopted me. She was my first great collaborator. She was involved in everything I did. Among the great gifts she gave me was a sense that every creative idea I had was worthy and should be encouraged. I was brought up without any sense of "what will people think?" Looking back now, I'm realizing that I don't think I ever turned down an experience. I have some regrets of things I didn't do, but never something that was actually offered to me. My entire career has been predicated on taking a chance, putting on a show in some bizarre venue for the sheer fun of it. Creating a drag role because it was a cinematic fantasy that I wanted to experience. Thank God, I never have concerned myself for one second on "what will people think." I think I've always been naked and unafraid.

9. Continuing with show's title, what is the most intimate fact about Charles Busch you would be willing to reveal in this interview? It's been so long since I've performed this activity, but all modesty aside, I think I'm a world class kisser. I wonder if the younger generation have technically improved on it. I'd like to find out.

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 better every day? I would like to be a more thoughtful friend. It would be nice to be a little less self-absorbed. I actually am making an effort. I hope I don't let it go like I have all of those unused gym memberships.

Charles Busch, Photo Credit: Michael WakefieldMore on Charles:

Charles Busch is the author and star of such plays as The Divine Sister, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, The Tribute Artist and The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, which ran for nearly two years on Broadway and received a Tony nomination for Best Play. He wrote and starred in the film versions of his plays, Psycho Beach Party and Die Mommie Die, the latter of which won him the Best Performance Award at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2003, Charles received a special Drama Desk Award for career achievement as both performer and playwright. He is also the subject of the acclaimed documentary film The Lady in Question is Charles Busch. He is a two-time MAC award winner and has performed his cabaret act in many cities including San Francisco, Provincetown, Palm Springs, New Orleans, Atlanta, Philadelphia, London, Paris and in New York at Feinstein's/54 Below. In winter of 2016, his show The Lady at the Mic premiered at Jazz at Lincoln Center's American Songbook series.

Thursday
Feb092017

Call Answered: Conference Call: The "Georgie" interviews: Ed Dixon, Eric Schaeffer & Kathie Lee Gifford

Ed Dixon has been on my radar for quite some time. I've been lucky enough to see him on Broadway in the original Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, and the 2011 revival of Anything Goes. But it was the enthusiasm of my friend Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf over his autobiography Secrets of a Life Onstage...and Off that really got me interested in Ed. I immediately purchased his book and could not put it down. Needless to say, I was over the moon when my call got answered to interview Ed about his new one-man tour de force show Georgie, about his friendship with actor George Rose. Ed's performance in Georgie is one of the most powerful I have seen in a long time! It's gripping from start to finish!

The best part about this interview was I got to conduct it at the opening night party for Georgie which afforded me the opportunity to not only interview Ed, but also Georgie's director Eric Schaeffer, and one of my long-time idols, Kathie Lee Gifford, whose work with both Ed and Eric as parlayed into a life-long friendship.

Ed Dixon's Georgie plays at The Loft at The Davenport Theatre through April 15 (354 West 45th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Ed be sure to visit http://www.eddixon.biz and folllow him on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on Georgie visit http://georgietheplay.com and follow the show on Instagram!

Ed Dixon in "Georgie", Photo Credit: Carol RoseggEd Dixon (Actor/Playwright):

1. What do you miss most about George? He was my connection to an entire world of show business: the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Ralph Richardson, Dame Edith Evans and superstardom in the theatre. And in an instant, he was gone. We would go see openings together, the opera and for months after he died, I would go to the phone to call him because when someone disappears instantly like that with no warning, they just don’t leave you. Obviously no matter what you find out about them, if you love someone for 20 years that doesn’t leave you either. 

2. When you were performing at North Shore Music, you said that was the first time you actually felt as though George was your friend. What was that moment like? Let me tell you, George was not an easy person to get along with. When you see his interviews on line, there’s a great formality to him. He was born the same year as my father, in 1919. That’s a whole different level of gay. A whole different era of gay. Even in 1970, you weren’t allowed to be gay. Casting directors wouldn’t hire you, but he didn’t care. But there was a part of him that did because when you see the interviews, all that joyousness I’m trying to show, that I got personally, wasn’t in any of the interviews. They are very business like, which I found very fascinating.

Ed Dixon in "Georgie", Photo Credit: Carol RoseggGeorge Rose and Ed Dixon, Photo Credit: Linda Lenzi3. In Georgie, there’s a big twist in the show which I don’t want to give away in the interview, but when you found out about it, did your heart just sink? Let me tell you, it takes a long time for a thing like that to sink in. There's a picture of me George took while we were in the Dominican Republic and I look happy. I see that picture now and I go, "My God. That’s amazing." He’s been gone for 30 years. I couldn’t have done this play before. I had my own problems to deal with.

4. Do you think the death of George was the first step towards your own downward spiral? It would be very disingenuous to say that. It’s a very complicated thing when someone loses control of their life. There were many pieces to it. In truth, I had been on a bad road for a while, but it certainly doesn’t help when a good friend is murdered violently and you find out a horrible secret about them.

5. How did you pick-up your life after George’s death as well as the death of two of your other friends at that time? Show business saved my life. I went into treatment while I was working in the original Broadway run of Les Miserables and they gave me my job back. I went back into the biggest hit on Broadway and if I hadn’t, I don’t think I’d be alive today.

Ed Dixon and Director Eric Schaeffer, Photo Credit: Joseph MarzulloEric Schaeffer (Director):

1. As the director of Georgie, what attracted you to the project? Well, Ed…hahaha. We are good friends and because it’s such a personal story for Ed I think he wanted somebody he could trust. When he asked me, he said, "I’m writing this play. It’s a one-man show. It’s really personal to me. Would you do it?" I said "Absolutely!" And I hadn’t even read the play yet, but I think Ed is such a huge talent, not only as an actor, but as a writer/storyteller, so I wanted to be part of that.

2. You worked with Ed on Kathie Lee Gifford’s Under The Bridge as well as Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Sunset Boulevard. You’ve seen him grow as an actor over the course of his career. How do you think, in this show particularly, he’s grown from working with him previously? I think the hardest thing for Ed was to play multiple characters and not just one role. Plus, it’s such a personal story that it’s a challenge to know where the line was to say this was just enough and now it’s time to move on. In a rehearsal room, you have to be able to trust the person you are working with to say, "I trust you to tell me when it’s too much and when it’s not." I think the range of emotions, that Ed goes through, is probably the biggest thing he’s ever done.

3. For people who don’t know George Rose, what could be one reason, in addition to Ed’s incredible performance, they should come see this show? Anyone who loves theatre will love this show because it’s a real history through the theatre and it’s all about what the theatre was and is not anymore. It’s so exciting to re-live those moments to someone who actually lived through them originally.

Me: And it has that twist, which I don’t want to give away in the interview, but it’s like you’re watching the show and then bam, where did that come from and it’s such an emotional point, it’s so great. You did a really good job with keeping that hidden and just letting it drop.

Eric Schaeffer: It goes back to the writing. As Ed says in the play, "It’s all about the text."

Kathie Lee Gifford and Ed Dixon, Photo Credit: Joseph MarzulloKathie Lee Gifford (The Today Show):

1. You are here tonight to see Ed Dixon’s Georgie about his friendship with actor George Rose. You had cast Ed in your show Under The Bridge. What do you love about Ed? How did you initially meet? Ed was doing a reading with me of another project that I had written called Saving Aimee, which ended up being Scandalous on Broadway, but at the time, I had also written Under The Bridge, and I took one look at Ed and I said, "You’re my 'Armand' and Ed laughed at me and said OK!" He didn't even know who "Armand" was at that time, but that's what actors learn you to do. You tell them they are a character and they are like, Ok, I'm that character." He was just brilliant to work with and we have remained friends all these years.

2. How does everything come full circle for you by seeing Ed Georgie? You know, any time you are on the road or in rehearsals with Ed, he always has a gazillion stories. I had heard a couple of the stories through the years of his friendship with George Rose, but I’d never known the story in its entirety of how impactful it was on Ed, on his whole psyche, his whole being. How do you process the devastation of finding out something so heinous about the person you admire the most? That is the real question. This show, Ed’s performance, is a tour de force! I’m trying to remember a more unbelievably powerful performance by a man on stage that I’ve seen in my recent memory and I can’t.

Eric Schaeffer was my first director when I made my Broadway debut in Sondheim’s Putting It Together. He also directed Under The Bridge at The Zipper Theatre and then he was my very first, very important director on Saving Aimee as well. And Mary Cossette, one of the producers of Georgie is the widow of one of my husband’s (Frank Gifford) dearest friends, Pierre Cossette. So this is like old home week for me. I’m almost shaking with joy seeing all these extraordinary talented people I’ve been blessed to work with and call friends in my life.

Me: They’ve been lucky to work with you.

Kaithe Lee Gifford: Oh, I don’t know, you’d have to ask them…hahaha. I was the one who was new to the Broadway world and they welcomed me and encouraged me. You never forget the kindess of people.

Ed DixonMore on Ed:

Ed Dixon is the author/composer/lyricist of Shylock (The York Theatre) which garnered him his first Drama Desk Nomination. He wrote Richard Cory with A. R. Gurney, on a Steinberg Grant from Playwrights Horizons. It was nominated for a Leon Rabin Award for Best New Work and won the NYMF Festival Award and the Audience Prize. Cloak and Dagger, his four-person musical recently opened at the Signature Theatre in DC, helmed by artistic director, Eric Schaeffer. Dixon’s Fanny Hill was presented by the York Theater where it won a Dramalogue Award, two Dean’s List Awards and was nominated for two Drama Desk Awards. Cather County which opened at Playwright’s Horizons won him a Leon Rabin Award at Lyric Stage in Dallas where it was also named best new theater work of 2000. Dixon’s grand farce, L’Hotel was given its premiere at Pittsburgh Public Theater last year by Producing Artistic Director, Ted Pappas. Ed’s comic thriller, Whodunit…The Musical has had countless productions all over the United States and he is the author of the highly successful book, Secrets of a Life Onstage…and Off.

As an actor, Ed made his Broadway debut in 1971 with No, No, Nanette starring Ruby Keeler and directed by Busby Berkeley. Six months later he was opening the Kennedy Center in Washington DC as a soloist in Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, a role he reprised on the recording and at the Metropolitan Opera. Other Broadway credits include "Belasco" in King of Schnorrers, "Cardinal Richelieu" in The Three Musketeers, "Thenardier" in the original company of Les Miserables (a role he played more than 1700 times), "The Baker" in Cyrano: The Musical, "Ozzy" in The Scarlet Pimpernel, "General Wetjoen" in The Iceman Cometh (with Kevin Spacey), "Senator Carlin" in The Best Man (he also went on for Charles Durning as "President Hockstader"), "Mister" in Sunday in the Park with George, "Max" in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, "Admiral Boom" in Mary Poppins, and "the Captain" in Anything Goes. On tour he was "Mssr. De Rougement" in David Merrick’s Very Good Eddie, "Charlemagne" in Pippin with Ben Vereen, "Max" in Sunset Boulevard, "the Governor of Texas" in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Ann-Margret, "Albert Blossom" in Doctor Doolittle, "the Director" in Curtains, "Max" in The Sound of Music and "Doolittle" in My Fair Lady. Off-Broadway he teamed up with Leonard Bernstein again (as well as Comden and Green) for By Bernstein, played opposite Bebe Neuwirth in Here Lies Jenny, joined Len Cariou and Roberta Maxwell in The Persians, and starred in Oliver QuadeHotel BroadwayIdentity and Shylock, all of which he wrote. He has received a Helen Hayes Award, and been nominated for a Drama Desk, a Joseph Jefferson, an Irne, and a Henry.

Eric SchaefferMore on Eric:

Eric Schaeffer is the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.  Under his leadership, the Theatre was honored with the 2009 Tony Award® for Outstanding Regional Theater in America, as well as 90 Helen Hayes Awards over the years, with an additional 340 nominations for theater excellence in Washington, DC.

At Signature, he has directed numerous productions that include Elmer GantryCloak and DaggerBeachesCrossingMiss SaigonSpinHello, Dolly! (Ford‘s Theatre co-production); The Best Little Whorehouse in TexasBrother RussiaHairspraySunset BoulevardChessShow BoatFirst You Dream: The Music of Kander & EbbThe HollowLes MisérablesACEKiss of the Spider WomanGlory Days; The Witches of EastwickSaving AimeeInto the WoodsMy Fair LadyNevermoreThe Highest YellowOne Red FlowerAllegroTwentieth Century110 in the ShadeHedwig and the Angry InchThe Gospel According to FishmanGrand HotelThe Rhythm ClubOver & OverThe FixWorkingThe RinkCabaretFirst Lady SuiteWingsPoor SupermanUnidentified Human Remains and The True Nature of Love; and the Sondheim musicals Merrily We Roll AlongSunday in the Park with George (Arena Stage co-production), PassionInto the WoodsCompanyAssassinsSweeney ToddFollies and Pacific Overtures, among others.

On Broadway, Eric directed Gigi, the critically acclaimed revival of Follies, as well as the Tony Award®-winning Million Dollar QuartetGlory Days and Putting It Together. His national tours include Million Dollar Quartet and Big. Off-Broadway, he has directed Sweet Adeline (City Center Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert) and Under the Bridge. His West End credits include Million Dollar Quartet and The Witches of Eastwick.

Kathie Lee GiffordMore on Kathie Lee:

Kathie Lee Gifford has enjoyed a diverse and successful four-decade career as a television host, actress, singer, playwright, songwriter and author. Though best known for her 15 years on Regis and Kathie Lee (11 Emmy nominations), and currently acting as the three time Emmy-winning co-host of the fourth hour of the Today Show with Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee has always pursued projects which inspire and challenge her.

In 2013, Kathie Lee launched her podcast, Kathie Lee & Company, with Podcast One. Each week, Kathie Lee is joined by a friend from the world of TV, film, music, sports and news for a special one-on-one conversation.

Kathie Lee made her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim's Putting it Together in 2000, then originated the role of "Marta Dunhill" in Rupert Holmes' Thumbs and played "Miss Hannigan" in a record-breaking run of Annie at Madison Square Garden. In 2005 her first musical Under The Bridge (book and lyrics, contributing composer) opened off Broadway. In November of 2012, her musical, Scandalous (book/lyrics) opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theater and received a Tony nomination.

She is the NY Times best-selling author of many books including, Just When I Thought I’d Dropped My Last Egg-Life and Other Calamities, Party Animals, and The Legend of Messy M’Cheany. Her ninth book, The Three Gifts, was released in November 2012 with proceeds going to Childhelp. She currently writes a weekly article for the NY Daily News with Hoda Kotb.

Kathie Lee devotes much of her time to the Association to Benefit Children, which spawned the Cody Foundation. The resources from the Association continue to support Cody House and Cassidy’s Place. Cody House provides a transitional home for infants and children who have severe disabilities and serious medical problems. Named for Kathie Lee's daughter, Cassidy’s Place, is the home of the Association to Benefit Children’s (ABC) national children advocacy.

Sunday
Feb052017

Call Me Adam: Dimo Hyun Jun Kim: Interview at Theatre at St. Clement's

Dimo Hyun Jun KimI love a good psycho thriller, but there aren't many musical psycho thrillers, so I was quite intrigued when I found out about Interview, a new psycho musical thriller, produced and directed by Dimo Hyun Jun Kim.

In Interview, a seemingly innocuous job interview for a writer’s apprentice quickly turns sinister when the true motives of the interviewee, "Matt," are revealed. Unveiling the myriad pieces of haunting evidence kept hidden for the past 10 years, the interviewer, "Dr. Eugene Harper," and the interviewee now have to investigate a murder mystery to find the true killer of a young girl whose corpse was found floating on a lake. The twist – while there are two people in the room, there are seven different personalities to be probed. The intoxicating question of what is real and what is not will quickly drive the audience to the brink of insanity.

Interview will play at the Theatre at St. Clement's (423 West 46th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) through March 5! Click here for tickets!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a director/producer? I was born in South Korea, and at age four I watched my very first musical, Cats, at the Seoul Arts Center. The following year, my parents brought me back to the theatre to see a Korean adaptation of Cats. Even at a tender age, I realized that the original musical was a phantasmagorical spectacle and theatre was where I belonged.

By age nine, I had decided to create my very own musical. The producer, Do-yoon Seol, allowed me to watch Cats gratis daily after noticing my enthusiasm for the show. As recorded in my diary, I watched Cats eighty-six times. When the tour ended, I knew every line by heart and understood how music, dance, verse, costume, scenery, and orchestra fit together. And from that very moment, I longed to be a great director despite my parents’ disagreement.

2. When did you decide to start your own theatre company? What has been the best part about this venture and what challenges did you face in creating it? I founded DIMO KIM MUSICAL THEATRE FACTORY in 2015 to produce COMFORT WOMEN: A New Musical. I had numerous challenges trying to create everything from ground zero, with no connections or networks in NYC. I had to learn how radio signal works, and how to deal with insurance, payroll, the IRS...it wasn't easy. However, it was amazingly rewarding to solve one issue at a time and put together a show.

3. After making its world premiere in Seoul, Korea and sold-out runs in Kyoto & Tokyo, you are now bringing Interview, an original psycho musical thriller to NYC for a limited run. What made now the right time bring the show to NYC? After producing two original shows in New York, I had the urge to bring a show that was successful in Korea to NYC audience members. Coincidentally, Suro Kim, who was the producer of Green Card: A New Musical, also wanted to bring a hit show from Korea to the US. That's how it all started.

4. What do you hope NY audiences will embrace most about this show? Psycho thriller musicals aren't too common in New York City but it is a very popular genre in Korea and Japan. I really want the audiences to see how one actor, Josh Bardier, plays six different roles at the same time - it is absolutely amazing.

Josh Bardier, Adam Dietlein and Erin Kommor, rehearsing "Interview"5. Why did you want to produce & direct this show? I wanted to show NYC audiences the high quality of Korean-born musicals. Also, because the show deals with domestic abuse and mental health issues, I wanted to approach the story as sensitive as I could - and I believed I could.

6. Interview tells the story of a psychologist, a criminal defendant & a legal system that would stop at nothing to gain an alleged killer's confession, even if it means driving the accused to the brink of insanity. When has there been a time in your life when you have been pushed over the emotional edge? When I was producing/directing Comfort Women, I received numerous calls from far-right Japanese people threatening to harm me - that gave me serious anxiety issues.

7. In Interview, a famous psychologist & author call a temp agency for an apprenticeship. The perfect candidate appears at his door. Witty, studious & eager to please, "Matt Sinclair" quickly makes an impression with "Dr. Eugene Harper." All is not as it appears, however & what starts as an interview, quickly turns sinister as the author's true motives are revealed. When have you been in a situation where something appeared to be one thing and it quickly turned into something completely different? When I was preparing for Green Card: A New Musical, I had a meeting with a sponsor - he looked like a total gangster. But he turned out to be the nicest person ever! I was pretty surprised. :)

Dimo Hyun Jun Kim8. Over the past 20 years, South Korea has become the third biggest market for musical theatre, after New York & London. As a producer, what has been the best part about the growth of musical theatre in South Korea and what changes do you feel still need to made there? When I turned 15, I began questioning why new musicals were always made in English and never made in our native Korean tongue. Something was missing from the industry. At 16-years-old, I tried to compose and direct a musical by myself, in vain. Three months of work and savings was lost. I decided to pitch my proposal to many Korean producers, who were kind, but they told me without further explanation that "no new musical will ever start in Korea." This was not an acceptable answer to me therefore I decided to go to New York City to make musicals. I presumed if I make a name in the city that is Marshall McLuhan’s proverbial "global village," licenses to play my musicals could always be sent back home.

New York indeed has a great theatre district, but when I arrived here in 2010 I found a dilapidated local Asian theatre community that seemed in a state of infancy. I realized quickly that there was a lack of Korean and more generally, pan Asiatic representation, both in the creative teams and in the roles offered in Broadway, Off-Broadway, and even regional theater productions. As a result, since my arrival in the United States six years ago, I have worked hard to create more opportunities for Asian casts and creative teams to find a voice in the large plethora of the enchanted world of theatre and theatrical artistry. My ultimate goal is to become one of a few directors to lead the Asian theatre community to a new recognition on the world stage.

9. 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 better every day? I wanna sleep one percent more every day. This will give me the energy to put on a better show every single day!

Dimo Hyun Jun KimMore on Dimo:

Dimo Hyun Jun Kim is a theatre director from Seoul, South Korea, Chairman of Dimo Kim Musical Theatre Factory LLC & Theatre Department Chair of Born Star Training Center NYC. Dimo made his Off-Broadway debut with Comfort Women: A New Musical, nominated for Best Off-Broadway Musical by BroadwayWorld & the first all-Asian Off-Broadway cast to be led by an East Asian national. Other Off-Broadway shows include Green Card: A New Musical & Innermind. Selected credits include Richard III, See What I Wanna See, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, West Side Story, Advice to the Players, The Cherry Orchard, Godspell, The Upper Lip, Finding My Way Back Home, Promenade, Life is A Dream, West Side Ballad, Our Town, Art, Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Spring is Arising & Jesus Christ Superstar. In June, Dimo will be producing the Asian Musical Theatre Festival in Lincoln Center.

Wednesday
Jan252017

Call Answered: Melissa Anelli: BroadwayCon

Melissa AnelliIn 2016, I attended the very first BroadwayCon. What an exciting weekend (despite the huge blizzard that was covering NYC) this was. For years I have watched friends go to ComicCon and thought it would be great to have something like this for Broadway and then poof, there was. I am so honored to have had the chance to interview BroadwayCon's co-creator Melissa Anelli.

If you are a fan of the theatre, BroadwayCon is the place to be! From workshops with Broadway actors to panel discussions (like the one I attended last year called "Ghosts of the Palace Theatre," moderated by Untold Stories of Broadway author Jennifer Ashley Tepper, which told some behind-the-scenes hauntings of Broadway theatres) to merchandise to autograph sessions, BroadwayCon has it all!

This year's convention will take place at the Jacob K. Javitis Center in NYC (655 West 34th Street) from January 27-29! BroadwayCon will feature a host of Broadway's brightest including Whoopi Goldberg, Chita Rivera, Anthony Rapp, Josh Groban, Joel Grey, Michael Cerveris, Darren Criss, Jeremy Jordan, Kelli O'Hara, and so many more! Click here for tickets!

For more on BroadwayCon be sure to visit http://www.broadwaycon.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Anthony Rapp1. How did you decide to develop BroadwayCon? Our company, Mischief Management has run several conventions, which we started because we were a bunch of Harry Potter fans. We did our first Harry Potter convention LeakyCon, in Boston in 2009, which we thought was going to be a one-off thing. We didn’t know that something big was starting. But, we ended up doing another LeakyCon and realized we had something. That lead to the creation of Mischief Management.

Our conventions focus on fans, content, and immersion. The typical convention model is not very fan friendly. Most conventions just look for a way to get a lot of people in the door to pay for autographs, which is not what we do. We want to make sure the fans have a true choose-your-own-adventure, whirlwind experience where they can find their own way to have their own best time while getting a lot of value out of the weekend.

In 2013, my then business partner said to me, "Hey, has there ever been a Broadway convention?" She happened to ask me this on the night Audra McDonald dropped the mic on the Tony Awards, it was literally at that moment. I happen to be at Anthony Rapp’s house that night. I’m friends with Anthony because I was a major Rent fan back in the day. I was one of those people sleeping outside the theatre waiting for tickets. Anthony & I became stage door friends then kept in touch over time and we have maintained this friendship. After Anthony attended one of my events, we cornered him and said, "Now that you see what we do, how we are different from other conventions, what do you think about us doing what we do for Broadway?" He was like "Whhhatever you need, I’m in." He saw that we were not trying to make the convention transaction based (not trying to get the most money out of an attendees), but having one fee cover the entire cost of the weekend so you can go and enjoy. We only want you taking out money if you are buying food or merchandise.

The convention industry is so full in the TV/Film area, it is really sometimes a challenge with our other conventions for big time talent to come. But with BroadwayCon, the Broadway community understands why actual interaction is more valuable than a quick signature, so the support has been incredible from them.

BroadwayCon 2016BroadwayCon Autograph table 20162. The great thing about BroadwayCon is that you have different kinds of panels and workshops, so attendees can really learn from Broadway-working actors, whether they are a Tony Award winner, Tony nominee, or just starting out. It’s such a unique experience for fans. The list of guests is incredible and so varied. A few scheduled to be in attendance are Whoopi Goldberg, Chita Rivera and Josh Groban. How do you decide whom to reach out to? It’s a wide variety of things. We look at the kind of programming we want as well as the shows coming to Broadway this year. We brainstorm with our programming team which is a host of volunteers, headed up by Sierra Fox, whom along with our director David Alpert, work together, to determine what the Broadway community may want to see by looking at what anniversaries are coming up and what the big moments of the past year were. We also contact the current shows to say there’s space on our stage if you want to promote your show on our site. We focus on putting together the "BroadwayCon First Look," which is a preview of the upcoming season. Additionally, we receive a lot of requests and inquiries which we look at and see how we can add them in.

3. Last year was the inaugural BroadwayCon. How long did it take you from creation to inception to put it all together? It was 2½ years from inception to BroadwayCon's debut. Now, it’s a yearly event.

4. How do you want BroadwayCon to grow in the coming years? Now that we have the tail of the tiger, how do we grow it? What capacity does it grow? Those are the big questions for us. The Javitis is undergoing a lot of construction, so we may not be at the Javitis next year, but location is secondary to making sure we keep the ideals of the convention, celebration of Broadway & celebration of the community, in tact.

BroadwayCon 2016 Sing-a-LongBroadwayCon 2016 Workshop5. What are some of the challenges to putting BroadwayCon together and what are some of the rewards you get from doing it? The sheer number of moving pieces. You are talking about 400 special guests which means they all have itineraries, a track that they are traveling throughout the weekend, transportation requirements, and people coming with them. It takes a ton of people to manage them and we are a seven person company that all work in one small office, so we rely heavily on our tremendous volunteers, who spend a lot of time helping us. That’s the biggest challenge. We also face some challenges communicating to the Broadway community just who we are and what we are. Even though we are in our second year, it’s still not 100% known.

The rewarding thing is when I see people who look like they are at home in their own skin when that is potentially not always the case. At any convention we do, when I see people especially the young ones, smiling and making friends during this three-day wonderland, it’s really something else.

6. One thing I noticed at BroadwayCon last year was a lot of fans come dressed up as their favorite characters from a show. What were some of your favorite costumes and which ones surprised you? I loved the Side Show sisters, the "King Georges," "Ozians," and Cats. I loved the "Heathers," the "Rentheads," and the Hairspray characters. At one point there was a "Tracy Turnblad" and a "Penny" who did not come together, they just happen to be dressed up as those two characters and found each other during the convention and just became friends. I thought that was great. It’s very exciting because theatre cosplay is not something you get to see very often and BroadwayCon is really the first place where you can really showcase it.

BroadwayCon 2016 "Season Sneak Peak"Lin-Manuel Miranda at BroadwayCon 20167. Who haven’t you gotten for BroadwayCon yet that you would like to? Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyed Webber, Rosie O’Donnell, and Bernadette Peters.

8. If you could star in any current Broadway show, which one would you want to be in and out of all the Broadway shows produced, which one would you have liked to be part of? Pretending that I have the acting and singing talent, currently, I’d love to play "Evan Hansen" in Dear Evan Hansen. I’ve been that person who felt alone and found community almost by accident. I think a lot of what we do in this industry touches many people.

If I could be in any show in history, I would be "Glinda" from Wicked because who doesn’t want to get in a giant bubble, wear a tiara, giant ball gown and fly all over the stage singing those songs.

Melissa AnelliMore on Melissa:

Melissa Anelli is the CEO of Mischief Management and co-founder of BroadwayCon. She has been creating conventions since 2007 for fans around the world; she is also the owner of The Leaky Cauldron web page and author of the New York Times bestselling Harry, A History: The true story of a boy wizard, his fans, and life inside the Harry Potter phenomenon, which features a foreword from J.K. Rowling. Melissa served as a creative consultant for the launch of Pottermore and founded GeekyNews. She's a devourer of books, aficionado of theatre, and devotee to the art of creating safe spaces for geeks to fully enjoy the things they love.