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Entries in Off-Broadway (327)

Wednesday
Jul152015

Call Answered: Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR!

In one of my most heart-wrenching interviews yet, "Call Me Adam" chats with Mrs. Smith about her missing cat Carlyle, who went missing about two years ago when he ran out of his hotel room in Poland. Mrs. Smith and I discuss how the mounting of her new Off-Broadway show, Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR will hopefully help reunite Mrs. Smith with her beloved cat Carlyle. This is one CATastrophic interview!

Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR will run through September 20 at the 47th Street Theatre in NYC (304 West 47th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR be sure to visit http://www.findcarlyle.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Your show, Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR is making it's Off-Broadway premiere through September 20 at 47th Street Theatre in NYC. What excites you about having Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR make it's Off-Broadway debut? The chance to have the message about my missing cat Carlyle put into musical theatrical form and spread to a larger audience. The key thing here is this Carlyle Message and Off-Broadway will allow us to reach some important demographics such as Key Influencers, Opinion Leaders, Belief Shapers, and Mind Melders. Beyond that, performing gives me a chance to channel the Grief and the Rage.

2. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR? Elevated. All senses electrified and tuned into finding Carlyle.

Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR!3. If you could give people one reason as to why they should come see Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR, what would that reason be? How often do you see a real-life person (me) singing and dancing to save their own life?? Usually people in these plays are pretending to be someone else but in this case I'm me and at every performance I'm walking a tightrope stretched between two extremes: Broadway Glory and Emotional Oblivion.

4. Your cat, Carlyle has been missing for two years now. When did you first realize Carlyle was missing? What were some of your first thoughts that went through your head when you realized he was missing? We were in the only five-star, boutique hotel in Warsaw (Carlyle loves Poland, don't ask me why), and I received a frantic phone call from a diplomat friend who had committed an egregious utensil-based social blunder at a State Dinner and we were trying to fashion a response when the room service cart arrived and the door was ajar for all but a millisecond. I usually take great pains to secure Carlyle in his Kitty Condo when we are in this hotel and room service arrives because that cat adores Poland so much he'll run right out to explore it (don't ask me why!!!). In a flash of tuxedo he was gone and my life has been absolute torment ever since. My first thought when he vanished was, "GET THAT CAT!!!"

Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR!5. How do you feel the mounting of Mrs. Smith's BROADWAY CAT-TACULAR Off-Broadway show will possibly help find Carlyle? I hired an economist formerly of Google (and RAND Corporation -- he was let go from both but for personal not professional reasons), and he did an Influence Scan of all forms of comms: online, television, film product placement, print, etc. He ran this study three times because he was GOBSMACKED by his findings. Off-Broadway is the best mode of comms for this message not because of its literal reach (the distribution model is DISMAL and financials are HORRENDOUS) but because all these hip kids and cool cats and fancy fellows who are into Off-Bway. That what this guy told me anyway.

6. How do you think you'll be able to find the strength to go out on stage every night singing and dancing with a happy face and surrounded by some hot dancers, knowing that Carlyle is out there in the world lost and afraid? These are not mutually exclusive. The Carlyle Message is my engine and knowing that this audience has come to hear about my cat and our life together and be part of this cause: it lifts me up! Sometimes I'm so lifted up I am outside my body and then I get a crick in my neck and have to go get one of those $30 massages in the East Village.

Mrs. Smith and her Broadway Boys (Brandon and Kenny)7. What is it like to continuously look for Carlyle and still not able to find him? How do you get through each day without him? Everyone has a best pal, I hope anyway. Just imagine if that buddy you chat with everyday who understands you like no other, that friend with whom you shared so many wonderful experiences, imagine if they went missing. You would never stop searching to have that person back in your life. He's my best friend!!!

8. Do you ever picture in your mind the reuniting of you and Carlyle? If so, what is that reunion like? I had this vision during a Shamanic Journey the other day. Here is what was unfolded to me...I'm in my dressing room putting on my stage makeup and final preparations for the evening's performance...I sense a presence behind me on the fainting couch reserved for VIP visitors....Do I hear soft purring...??! I slowly turn around and as plain as day there is Carlyle sitting contentedly on my fainting couch his paws tucked underneath him like the little gentleman he is. He has not changed one bit. We sit there for a full minute regarding one another a smile stretched across my face. The stage manager calls places over the intercom. I fetch Carlyle's portable Kitty Condo, open the door, and he gracefully scoots inside and we quietly sneak out the stage door. I catch a taxi cab to JFK and book the presidential suite in the only five-star, boutique hotel in Warsaw.

Mrs. Smith and Carlyle9. How has this experience made you stronger? From an aerobic point of view Act I is like one of those torturous exercise programs the young people seem to like these days. It's non-stop costume changes, props, puppets, dancing, singing. I think my director is trying to kill me! Cross-fitter's if you want to really get in shape try Act I of my show!!

10. What is the best advice you've ever received for dealing with this vacancy in your life? Never stop believing.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power to bring Carlyle back, which one would you choose? Well my Pet Psychic Sylvia Cleo has second sight so I don't need that. My Shaman isn't literally psychokinetic although I have seen dust particles float in strange patterns around her. I guess the best I can hope for is a syndicated television show on a major network or subscription-based streaming service to really beef up this distribution model. I think that would do the trick. Do you know anyone at Netflix?

12. If you could create a signature drink in honor of Carlyle, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? I'd call it a "Meow Mixer" and it would be grapefruit juice, liquid Benadryl (I have these nasal allergy things), lemon juice, and honey and then use that to chase a mood stabilizer.

Mrs. SmithMore on Mrs. Smith:

Mrs. Smith is a woman of many passions. Her distinctive blend of comedic performance art has been seen from coast to coast, including: 54 Below, American Repertory Theatre/Oberon, Ars Nova, Dixon Place, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Upright Citizens Brigade and NBC’s hit reality competition America’s Got Talent.

She has also performed at her share of fairly depressing dive bars, cabarets, and condo complex community rooms. Two and a half years ago, her beloved cat Carlyle went missing. If you have ANY information on his whereabouts, PLZ CONTACT HER IMMEDIATELY! @SmithCatMrs

Tuesday
Jul072015

Call Answered: John Epperson: LYPSINKA! THE BOXED SET

John Epperson as Lypsinka

UPDATE: Due to an inury sustained by John Epperson, the run of LYPSINKA! THE BOXED SET has been cancelled!

"Call Me Adam" chats with John Epperson, a.k.a. LYPSINKA! herself about the return of his smash hit show LYPSINKA! THE BOXED SET, which will play at The Connelly Theater (220 East Fourth Street) from July 22 through September 12! Click here for tickets!

This award-winning revue features some of Lypsinka's greatest bits. Using a soundtrack created from films, musicals, and concert recordings, the supreme archivist of irony showcases the modern challenge of being overly-blessed with femininity, ego and celebrity. The return engagement of LYPSINKA! THE BOXED SET will feature additional special material which will change weekly during the eight-week run.

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

1. After sold-out performances last Fall, this summer you are returning to the stage with LYPSINKA! THE BOXED SET from July 22-September 12 at The Connelly Theatre in NYC's East Village. What made you want to bring this show back so quickly? There are several reasons. One is simply that the show was popular; and another is that the theatre was available and the stage there is a great "frame" for "The Goddess of Showbiz," Lypsinka. Thirdly, my friend, the famed costume jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane missed the show last Fall/Winter, and he offered to step in a s a producer on this encore engagement.

2. What do you enjoy most about performing this show? The reaction of the audience is almost always enormously rewarding.

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing LYPSINKA! THE BOXED SET? I want them to say, "Gee, that was so much more than I expected it to be."

John Epperson as Lypsinka4. In creating this show, what was it like to go back through your career to pick out which moments you wanted to include? The primary impetus was simply to make the audience laugh, so that was first in my mind. Secondly, there’s some subtext in the show to chew on. I always try to give the audience member something to ponder.

5. Were there any moments that you wanted to include that you didn't get to? I think one of the best sequences I ever came up with was using THE THIRD MOVEMENT (ELEGY) OF THE BARTOK CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA as underscoring, and putting sound bites on top of that. But that sequence doesn’t work out of context.

"THE BOXED SET" does contain sequences from a show called "LYPSINKA MUST BE DESTROYED" that I only performed once, in San Francisco in 1996 for two months.  I should perform it in New York someday, it has some wild stuff in it. You can see some of it on YouTube.

6. What's it like for you to perform a show of all your "greatest hits"? It’s fun. A lot of hard work! It’s physically demanding, but it always has been. I’m grateful that I can still so it, and that the public wants to experience it.

John Epperson as Lypsinka7. In addition to performing your biggest hits, during this limited run, you are also incorporating new material every week. What excites you about this weekly change in material? It’s fun to give myself a challenge, and the audience always enjoys being in on something new.

8. Going back a bit to the beginning of your career, how did you come up with LYPSINKA? I wanted to do a drag performance that was rooted in a tradition. I wanted to poke fun at that tradition and at the same time raise it up high. I chose lip-synching partly out of fear. I was intimidated by the professional scene in New York at the time, and by lip-synching in female costume, I could hide behind the makeup and someone else’s voice. But I got over that fear long ago.

9. What has been the best part about performing as LYPSINKA? When I did my first Off-Broadway show for almost 12 months in 1988/89, I could feel myself growing as a private person. I had a lot of damage to get through.

10. What was the greatest hurdle you overcame as LYPSINKA? It pleases me that because of my reputation, some people don’t see me as a "drag queen," a term I personally loathe. Of course, there are some who still use that term to describe me.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

John Epperson as Lypsinka11. What's the best advice you've ever received? The actor Roddy McDowall once said to me, "Don’t ever give up."

12. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Well, in addition to what I mentioned before, I have also learned that I did the right thing for myself by leaving Mississippi. But it must have been heart-breaking for my parents that I wanted to lead an unconventional life.

13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To leap over all the baby stroller, and dog leashes and cell phone users in a single bound.

14. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? I don’t know much about drinking and cocktails. I like fine red wine and Blue Label Chimay Ale. I also like fine chocolates. So, if anyone wants to send anything to The Connelly Theater this summer, now they know what to send!

15. As LYPSINKA, what's your favorite skin care product? I use Kiehl’s moisturizer, and if I can’t get that I will use L'OREAL.

John Epperson as LypsinkaMore on John:

John Epperson was born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi, a long way from the exciting worlds in which LYPSINKA travels: movies (Witch Hunt with Dennis Hopper, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, Wigstock: The Movie, Angels In America, Kinsey, Another Gay Movie, Another Gay Sequel); television (HBO specials Sandra After Dark with Sandra Bernhard, and Dragtime; George Michael’s video Too Funky, PBS’s The United States Of Poetry and special features on the Mommie Dearest and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? DVDs); fashion (appearing in the Paris, Tokyo and Los Angeles shows of haute couture designer Thierry Mugler, modeling for Valentino, Pauline Trigere, Barneys New York, and launching lines of cosmetics for Prescriptives, MAC, and Isabella Rossellini); advertisements (The Gap, LA Eyeworks, Naya Spring Water, Ilford Film); theater, including I Could Go On Lip-Synching!, The Fabulous Lypsinka Show, Lypsinka! Now It Can Be Lip-Synched, Lypsinka! A Day In The Life (New York Theater Workshop, two Drama Desk nominations, including Most Unique Theatrical Experience; revived in 1993 Off-Broadway at The Cherry Lane Theatre), Lypsinka! As I Lay Lip-Synching, Lypsinka Must Be Destroyed!, Lypsinka IS Harriet Craig!, Lypsinka! The Boxed Set (2001 Drama Desk nomination, Washington, D.C. Helen Hayes Award win for Outstanding Non-Resident Production / Outstanding Lead Actor nomination, wins for Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Best Sound Design and L.A. Weekly Theatre Award for Best Solo Performance); and special events (such as Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly, on Broadway with Bette Midler, Elaine Stritch and Patti LuPone, and London’s Meltdown Festival curated by Morrissey).

John Epperson as LypsinkaFormerly a rehearsal pianist at American Ballet Theatre, John’s theatrical career was launched in the mid-1980s when he wrote the book, lyrics and music of Ballet of the Dolls and Dial "M" For Model at La Mama ETC. The year 1999 brought Epperson’s dramatic stage debut in Messages for Gary at The New York Fringe Festival. In 2004 John appeared Off-Broadway in The Roaring Girle with The Foundry Theatre. The same year he was the subject of a stage festival at DC’s Studio Theatre, which included his autobiographical piece John Epperson: Show Trash, As I Lay Lip-Synching, and his play, My Deah: Medea for Dummies, the Medea tale set in The New South. Also in 2004 Epperson played "The Stepmother" in the New York City Opera production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at Lincoln Center’s New York State Theater. The play My Deah opened in an Obie Award-winning production Off-Broadway in October 2006 and is now published and licensed by Samuel French. His acclaimed Off-Broadway show The Passion of the Crawford, a fantasia on the personality of Joan Crawford, toured to California, Florida and Washington, D.C.

Illustration by Stefano ImbertLypsinka launched the 2007 Spring collection of MAC Cosmetics centered around the Barbie doll. Epperson’s version of James Kirkwood’s infamous play Legends! was produced at Studio Theatre in DC, Summer 2010. In 2014 in New York City, John devoted himself to a unique challenge for a solo performer by performing three of his shows in repertory under the umbrella title LYPSINKA! THE TRILOGY. John and Lypsinka are the subjects of an Emmy-winning television documentary for PBS. He provided the preface for the Rizzoli photo book Persona, and is the author of a new screenplay Happy Everything. John has also written for The Guardian (U.K.), The New York Times, The Washington Post and Interview and The Daily Beast.

Wednesday
Jun242015

Call Answered: Growing Into My Beard Conference Call with Artem Yatsunov and Bay Bryan: Queerly Festival

Bay BryanArtem Yatsunov"Call Me Adam" chats with writer/performer Bay Bryan and director Artem Yatsunov about their new show Growing Into My Beard which will be part of Horse Trade Theater's first annual Queerly Festival on July 2 at The Kraine Theater in NYC (85 East 4th Street)! Click here for tickets!

Growing Into My Beard a coming of age drag cabaret about how we evolve from the secrets we hold. Fusing live music and personal narrative into a dreamy blend of storytelling and performance art, Growing Into My Beard is a must see for anyone who has ever felt – even a little bit – queer at heart.

For more on Bay be sure to visit http://baybryan.com and for more on Artem visit http://strangedogtheatre.com and follow Growing Into My Beard on Facebook!

1. Your show, Growing Into My Beard is being presented in the first annual Queerly Festival on July 2. What excites you about having this show in the festival?

Bay Bryan (Writer/Performer): First off I love Horse Trade. Their presence in NYC is invaluable: a familial and diverse community of artists that range from being in development to Broadway capable. So because of that as well as being gay, ginger and just queer in general, I'm ecstatic to be a part of the 1st Queerly Festival, with many years to come I'm sure!

Artem Yatsunov (Director): This is a summer of Festivals for us! After Queerly we are going to Minnesota and Philly Fringes with Growing Into My Beard! So it’s exciting for me to start our tour off here in NYC and at Horse Trade Theater Group who are my go-to downtown theater company for open minded and eclectic programming. They have been faithfully supportive of my work for a while and I hope to make them proud at the Queerly Festival. Plus, they just won an Obie – what! Yes, Horse Trade, yes!

2. What made you want to showcase this show in the Queerly Festival?

Bay Bryan: Well, the show is about becoming a man in a way - my own version of a man really. And I think it subtly challenges the idea of what being a man means. Through my personal journey of queer-ness, hopefully people will walk away feeling empowered that they don't have to conform to any gender-norm, or societal norm for that matter, that they don't want to.

Artem Yatsunov: Growing Into My Beard is personal and, above all, honest coming out/coming of age story. Through Bay’s hilarious improvisational antics, his soft and silken songs, lingering melodies, and through scenes of sorrowful daydreams, this is ultimately Bay’s triumph of identity. Queerly is "A festival seen through lavender colored-glasses. Taking the everyday experience, jokes and stories of being Southern, Canadian, a person of color, a sports fan, a misfit, a redhead – and viewing them through the lens of queer identity." So in a nutshell, to serve the audience a few vivid slices of "non-straight" life. To me, Bay’s story is a great statement of why celebrating the acceptance of your queer identity is just as vital as acknowledging the struggle of being queer

3. How did you come to work together on this show? Bay, what made you want to write this show? Artem, why did you want to direct it?

Bay Bryan: Artem and I met through Horse Trade, through their Tuesday night open mic, and hit it off both creatively and friendship-wise. We have worked on a handful of projects together and hopefully will continue to work on many more to come. I suppose it helps that we are building I've Seen the Future together...! In response to why I wrote this show, I think it's because I was straddling two major markets: singer-songwriter world and theater world, and neither were really doing it for me individually - I wanted to find a way to bring them together. And then when I started playing around with cabaret and solo performance I realized that this is the medium that has room for both passions, as well as whatever the hell else I want to do - which you will see if you come along to the show; not going to give too much away, but I will say this: Taco.

Artem Yatsunov: I would direct Bay in anything. He doesn’t just tell a story; Bay’s whole being is overtaken with a need to express. It’s like being part of a séance or watching an exorcism, but in a good way. He inspires me, which is simply the best reason to collaborate because you genuinely cherish each other’s efforts.

Bay Bryan in "Growing Into My Beard"4. If you could give people one reason as to why they should come see Growing Into My Beard, what would that reason be?

Bay Bryan: The response we got from our first performance, what nearly everyone touched on and resonated with was the universality as well as the vulnerability of it - two things that are very important to me when it comes to writing and performing (and I suppose life in general), so I was incredibly humbled by their reaction.

Artem Yatsunov: Taco Dance. I don’t want to give anything away but if you like modern dance and Mexican food, you’re going to want to get your seats FAST

5.  What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Growing Into My Beard?

Bay Bryan: I hope that they walk away feeling inspired to embrace their own queerness, however minuscule it may be. And that they might be inspired to be just that little bit more vulnerable in their daily life - that they might share themselves more openly with the world.

Artem Yatsunov: I really hope the audience finds the desire to celebrate their own identities. If identity is something an audience member is conflicted about I really want this show to inspire them to seek out and to strive for happiness in their lives

Bay Bryan in "Growing Into My Beard"6. Since this show is a coming of age drag cabaret about how we evolve from the secrets we hold. Aside from what's revealed in the show, what secrets are you holding that you'd like to let go of?

Bay Bryan: I will reveal one thing... I'm not actually from this galaxy.

Artem Yatsunov: Ha – well if I told you then they wouldn’t be secrets. Seriously though, one of my biggest secrets is my insecurity; I fear that I won’t live up to my own potential and that I’ll submit to fear. Also, I am not so secretly addicted to Parks & Recreation, but I’m willing to own up that!

7. In addition to Growing Into My Beard, you run your own theatre company called I've Seen The Future (ISTF). What made you want to start your own theatre company? What has been the best part about running it?

Bay Bryan: I'm going to cop out on this one a little and let Artem answer this one. Although, I will say that I am excited to see how this company grows and I think a major reason why we want it is so that we can become clear about what's important to us and then by doing so attract the right artists for future collaborations!...I love how I said I'll leave it to Artem and then just answered the question anyway.

Artem Yatsunov: I’ve Seen The Future, Bay came up with that beautiful title, is a devised theatre company with a mission to create works of body revolution and social evolution – telling queer and foreign stories of endless wonder. I’d say right now we’re most excited about finding artists who believe in our mission and who want to work with us. Which is a big part of why we’re creating this company – to build a community of a new generation of storytellers.

Bay Bryan and Artem Yatsunov "brainstorming" 8. What's the best advice you've ever received?

Bay Bryan: I met an older man in his 70's, very cheerful, in a coffee shop in Glasgow. His name was Innis. He said the secret to life is to "Think young." And then I can't forget my grandmother Mrs. Doris Bryan. She always used to say, "hold the right thought."

Artem Yatsunov: "What would Tom Waits do?" My friend Ben recommended this approach when tackling difficult decisions, or heartbreak. Or choosing what to drink.

9. What have you learned about yourselves from being a performer/director?

Bay Bryan: Hmmm...You ask good questions. I like you...what I've learned is to trust that I am capable (I'm still learning this really). I have leaps and bounds to go, and much to learn, but I always have to remind myself that I am good enough. I think the funny thing about performing is that when you are off the stage, and out of the moment, you have nothing tangible to remind you of your abilities. You have credits and the fact that you did it in the past, but it's not like you built a house and you can stand back at any time and say, "here's my house..." In performing I only see "my house" for a brief moment: while I'm performing and directly afterwards - a little flash of it...Does that analogy work? Not sure...Anyway all I'm saying is follow your heart and push through. Plant your seeds. Keep watering them. You get the drill.

Artem Yatsunov: I’ve learned that I really love seeing people succeed, and that I have a lot more patience than my erratic personality would lead someone to believe I’m capable of. I certainly didn’t think I had all that patience in me, myself.

Bay Bryan mapping out "Growing Into My Beard"10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?

Bay Bryan: Definitely to be able to fly. Like Peter Pan style. Real original.

Artem Yatsunov: Money. That’s a super power, right? I’d like the Powers of Money, please.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it, and what ingredients would you put in it?

Bay Bryan: It's gotta have ginger in it. Lemon. Fancy white rum. Minty goodness. Raw sugar....So a mojito basically!

Artem Yatsunov: The Old Man’s Shoe. Whiskey, drunk from a shoe. Preferably an old man’s shoe.

12. Favorite way to stay in shape?

Bay Bryan: Yoga and Dancing.

Artem Yatsunov: Pull ups and yoga. Also living in NYC – do you see all these GORGEOUS people out right now?! Hello summer! Nothing like being surrounded by hot people all the time to keep you vigilant with your diet.

13. Boxers or Briefs?

Bay Bryan: Briefs no question. The more gay the better - bring on the jock strap.

Artem Yatsunov: Commando, but I prefer birthday suit.

Bay BryanMore on Bay:

Bay is a Colorado-born Scotland-trained, and Manhattan-based performance artist and singer-songwriter. Recently he opened for Horse McDonald at Dundee Rep Theater (Scotland) just shortly after a run of True Believer at TheaterLab (NYC) in which he composed/performed the music. His current move into solo-performance/devised theater (Growing into My Beard, ShanaeNae The Cabaret (NYC)) is a product of his desire to find a medium where all his passions can intertwine; where various guises of storytelling can work together to create unique and multifaceted narratives. For festival dates and other info check out Bay's website www.baybryan.com

Artem YatsunovMore on Artem:

Artem Yatsunov is a Ukrainian-born, Brooklyn-based theatre director and storyteller. Since graduating from Montclair State University in 2008 Artem has been directing non-stop, creating over 50 full-length works of theatre in both regional theater and non-conventional venues such as bars and warehouses. Artem has had the pleasure to work with Obie-Award winning producer Kelly Nicole Girod, The Horse Trade Theatre Group, acclaimed artist David Gothard, PACE Head of Theatre Jorge Cacheiro, John Pietrowski of the Playwrights Theatre of NJ, Cheryl Katz of Luna Stage Theatre Company, and many more. Up next he is working on a new solo-storytelling show about Americanized immigrants dealing with conflicts in their native lands. Artem is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of NJ-based StrangeDog Theatre. www.strangedogtheatre.com

Friday
Jun122015

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with "The Spoils'" Annapurna Sriram and Erin Darke

Annapurna Sriram, Call Me Adam, Erin Darke backstage at "The Spoils", Photo Credit: Peter Pavlakis"Call Me Adam" went backstage at Pershing Square Signature Theatre to speak with, Annapurna Sriram and Erin Darke, two of the stars of The New Group's production of Jesse Eisenberg's The Spoils! 

The Spoils is a deeply personal and probing comedy where nobody likes "Ben" (Jesse Eisenberg). "Ben" doesn’t even like "Ben."  He's been kicked out of grad school, lives off his parents’ money, and bullies everyone in his life, including his roommate "Kalyan" (Kunal Nayyar), an earnest Nepalese immigrant. When "Ben" discovers that his grade school crush is marrying a straight-laced banker, he sets out to destroy their relationship and win her back.

The Spoils, is written by Jesse Eisenberg, directed by Scott Elliott and featurs Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory), Erin Darke (Still Alice), Annapurna Sriram (The Happiest Song Plays Last), and Michael Zegen (Boardwalk Empire). The Spoils run through June 28 at Pershing Square Signature Theatre (480 West 42nd Street). Click here for tickets!

For more on The New Group be sure to visit http://www.thenewgroup.org and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

"Call Me Adam's" interview with The Spoils' Annapurna Sriram and Erin Darke:

Thursday
Jun112015

Call Answered: Janine Nina Trevens: TADA! Youth Theater

Janine Nina Trevens"Call Me Adam" chats with TADA! Youth Theater founder Janine Nina Trevens about celebrating TADA's! 30th Anniversary. We discuss TADA's! current season of shows, the founding of TADA!, TADA's! hardships, celebrations, and accomplishments!

Their latest production of this anniversary season is Princess Phooey, which will play from July 10-August 1. Princess Phooey is a musical fairy tale like no other with a rebellious princess, and a gaggle of kooky chambermaids and stable boys- and of course a handsome prince! Click here for tickets!

For more on TADA! be sure to visit http://www.tadatheater.com and follow them Facebook and Twitter!

1. TADA! Youth Theater is currently celebrating its 30th Anniversary. What does this milestone mean to you? Did you ever expect that when you opened TADA's! doors in 1984, that you'd be celebrating 30 years of shows, education, and entertainment for families? I am lucky that I have been able to do this work for the last 30 years. I love meeting and working with these talented kids year after year. I can't imagine my life without TADA!

I honestly can't believe it's been 30 years. I'm shocked and honored. It's hard work - keeping a non-profit theater going year after year. The fundraising is what's hard -- not the programming. I have many more ideas for new musicals and know great writers. There are always so many kids auditioning for TADA!, and taking our classes, and schools that want our programs. It's just very hard to raise the money needed to support the programs. TADA! is currently looking for additional Board Members who can help.

When I started TADA! in 1984, I didn't think about the future. I was 23 and I just knew that I wanted to create TADA!. I wanted to give kids and teens a theater that was created for them to share their talent, to learn, to help make growing up a little easier, and be a part of a second family. I also wanted to develop new musicals specifically for family audiences and performed by kids and teens 8 - 18. I'm glad TADA! has been able to stick to our mission and programming.

Janine Nina Trevens and TADA! Resident Youth Ensemble2. Going back to the beginning of TADA!, what made you initially want to start a place for professional children's theatre? Did you always have in mind to also have an educational component to TADA!? I majored in psychology and education in college. I knew I wanted to work with kids to help make growing up easier by giving them a place to feel better about who they are. During school I started to work in the theater as a stage manager. I realized that I wanted to direct and create new musicals and that I wanted to do that with kids and teens because they were my passion.

I believe theater is educational - it makes people think, explore new topics and ideas and dreams. TADA!'s in-school programs began right away. At that time we were in one school. Our on-site classes and camps began a few years after that - these are TADA!'s greatest source of earned income and help TADA! meet its yearly budget.

3. How do you generally decide which shows you want to produce at TADA!? I'm lucky at TADA! that we get to produce our musicals more than once since our audience is comprised of families with young children ages 3 - 12. As our audience gets older there are always new kids to come and see our shows.

So, I decide which revivals it's time to do again and then I always like to have at least one world premiere a year. I look at the composition of our Ensemble  - the actors who are part of TADA!'s free year-long theater training and youth development program - and pick musicals that are right for their talents. I also like to do at least one production per season for our older audience members.

4. Since this year is TADA's! 30th Anniversary. What made you want to produce Everything About A Family (almost), The Trials of Alice in Wonderland, and Princess Phooey, which will be playing from July 10-August 1, for this special anniversary season? This season was the first of the two-year 30th Anniversary Celebration of TADA! so I decided, along with Joanna Greer, TADA!'s Associate Artistic Director, to revive three musicals from our repertoire that explore growing up since TADA! is celebrating a big birthday. The first was "Everything About" A Family (almost), which was conceived a number of years ago by members of the Ensemble at that time. TADA! has a series of Everything About musicals and this was one that we hadn't done in a number of years so it was time to do it again. The Trials of Alice in Wonderland also hadn't been produced in 12 years and we had the talent that was right this year to produce that again. Both of those musicals explore the theme of growing up and family which is also true of Princess Phooey, so we decided that would be a great show to round out the season.

Joanna suggested that next year honor me so we're producing two shows that I wrote - Odd Day Rain with Deirdre Broderick and The Little House of Cookies with Joel Gelpe which was our very first show. We are also doing Everything About TADA! (almost) to celebrate 30 years of original work.

5. What are some of your favorite moments from the past 30 years? Getting to know the kids and the families  and watching kids grow up. Working with writers creating new musicals. Writing Odd Day Rain with Deirdre Broderick. Watching a show develop over the course of the run. Seeing a shy kid transform on stage through becoming a character.

Watching families who never would have met get to know each other through TADA! and become close friends.

Cast of "Princess Phooey"6. What have you learned about yourself from running TADA!? I can stick with something for a long time. I truly care about children and want them to be successful and feel good about themselves. I want them to realize that they have a voice and can do things now as kids and not have to wait until they grow up. I have very strong opinions about education and how the current system is not working for our kids - especially those who are creative.

7. 30 years is a long time to keep a theatre going strong. Have you had any struggles over the past 30 years and if so, how did you overcome these struggles? Running a non-profit theater is like riding a roller-coaster - there are a lot of ups and downs - it's harder going up and faster going down but you know there's another hill up ahead. There just isn't an end to the ride. I used to think there was going to be a time when it would all be smooth sailing but that hasn't come yet and I don't think that it will.

Fundraising is a constant struggle. TADA! is looking to expand its Board of Directors which will help with fundraising and networking. The more people who know about TADA! the more people who can help us.

A personal struggle was keeping TADA! going while I was going through chemotherapy for Hodgkin's Lymphoma which I actually had twice. I remember getting up and staying in my pajamas and calling groups to book them to come see our show.

8. If you could have any child or adult actor/actress come perform at TADA!, who's on your wish list? I always think who I would like to see in the audience or on our Board because I know they love musical theater and/or see how the arts can change kids live. Those people are Whoopi Goldberg, Kathie Lee Gifford, Kelly Ripa, Raven Simone, Rosie Perez, Brooke Shields, then there are the celebrities who have kids that are the right age to be in our audience and who knows maybe one of them would audition to be in the Ensemble: Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, Michael Strahan, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, Christine Taylor and Ben Stiller, Katie Holmes, and Michelle Williams. There are many more and all are welcome - these are just the names that came to mind right now.

I look forward to doing something with our Alum both the famous actors and those working actors and musicians and dancers that aren't household names -  Kerry Washington, Josh Peck, Jordan Peele, Ricki Lake, Azealia Banks, Sasha Allen, Mizuo Peck, Amar Ramasar, Adam and Ryan Metzger of AJR, Aurora Nonas-Barnes, Sean Nelson, Laurence Mason, Kyra and Tori Green, and Victoria Platt Tilford are just some of our talented working Alum.

There are also composers that I would love to have write for TADA! - both Jason Robert Brown and Jeanine Tesori are past TADA! Musical Directors. They are both so busy and sooooo talented and I hope someday will write a show for us. Also, Stephen Schwartz who is a member of TADA!'s Artistic Advisory Board as is lyricist Sheldon Harnick. I would be honored if any of these talented people would write a show for TADA!.

9. What do you see for TADA! in the next 30 years? I see TADA! doing five productions a year so that we could have shows for specific age audience members. I also want to do inter-generational productions meaning that the actors are of all different ages - kids through adults. These would be musicals and plays as well as dance productions. I see TADA! to have it's own building where the classes, camps and performances take place, a second stage to do readings and workshops of new works, house the offices, have a set and costume shop so kids interested in work off the stage could be involved and learn. I'd also love to have a cafe on site so families would come to eat and then take class or watch a show. I also see TADA! having an endowment and a cash-reserve so that finding money or loans would not have to take up so much time and allow staff to think big picture and creatively more often. I also see the musicals that we have created being produced at other theaters, camps and schools across the country and internationally. I would love to do more co-productions with other youth theaters and to take the Ensemble Members to visit and work at other youth theaters both nationally and internationally. I could go on and on with this answer.

10. If you had to give someone one reason as to why they should come to a show at TADA! what would that reason be? It's fun and it's really good. It's an hour of great original musical theater written by talented playwrights, composers and lyricists and performed by extraordinary kids and teens that the whole family can enjoy for less than the price of one ticket to a Broadway show.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. What's the best advice you've ever received? Hard question. If you loan someone money think of it as a gift and be happy if and when it comes back to you because friendship is more important than money.

Did you want advice about work or theater?  If you can, do work that you love. Realize that there are parts of every job that you won't like, but if you love why you're doing it, then it is easier to get up and go to work everyday.

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Sometimes, I think I'm already pretty good at being invisible - I'm actually trying to be better at being seen and heard. I always wanted to be Bewitched, but I don't think she had super powers, she had witch powers. Teleportation would be great - I hate spending time getting to places. I just want to be at my next location doing what I need to do there.

Janine Nina TrevensMore on Janine Nina Trevens:

Co-founded TADA! in 1984 with Linda Reiff. She has served as the Artistic Director for all of the works produced by TADA!, many of which she commissioned specifically for the company. For TADA!, she has written Heroes, The Little House of Cookies, Sweet Sixteen as well as Odd Day Rain and The Perfect Monster with composer/Lyricist Deirdre Broderick and The History Mystery. She directs many of TADA!’s musicals, numerous staged readings and Ensemble appearances at various locations and events in and around NYC. Nina was selected as one of 10 Parenting Leaders by Parenting Magazine, and she was one of only five women nationally to receive Family Circle’s First Annual Halo Award for women who make a difference. She has served on funding panels for NYSCA, DCA, ART/NY and TCG and is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women.