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Entries in Off-Broadway (359)

Wednesday
Sep142016

Call Redialed: Melissa Errico: Return of "Funny! I'm A Woman with Children"

Melissa ErricoI simply adore Melissa Errico! I'm thrilled she answered my call yet again as her show Funny! I'm A Woman with Children returns to Feinstein's/54 Below after a triumphant sold-out first run! It was great catching up with Melissa as we delved deeper into the creation of this show, motherhood, marriage, and balancing family life with a demanding career.

Funny! I'm A Woman with Children returns to Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on September 20-21 & 23-24. Click here for tickets!

For more on Melissa be sure to visit http://melissaerrico.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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

1. This September, you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with your show Funny! I'm A Woman with Children. You just premiered this show in April, what made you want to do it again so quickly? Well, it sold out and they invited me back. The show feels good to do and is an exciting sing, so if it's good for me and fun for you, why not do it?

2. For someone who came to the initial run of Funny! I'm A Woman with Children, why should they come back? What is one reason someone who has not seen this show come see it? To see what I rent from Rent the Runway OF COURSE. No seriously, I have special guests this time, a new last third of the show AND I never remember what stories I told so I'll undoubtedly be telling new tales with a new energy. I'm in such a different place since last spring. Every six months, I have a new personality. My kids grow an INCH overnight, why shouldn't I?

Director Robbie Rozelle and Melissa Errico3. Once again, you are teaming up with Robbie Rozelle as your director. You have worked with Robbie for a while now. What do you love about working with him? What is one funny moment that happened between you and Robbie during the formation of this show or during rehearsals? I like working with him because he helps me sing songs that he knows the AUDIENCE really want to hear from me. I love jazz, I love heady film theme songs, I love deep Sondheim; but Robbie sometimes says "Lets sing this song everyone loves" or "let's stretch you and sing some hard cool new tune by Tom Kitt or Jason Robert Brown." Robbie keeps me in tune with all the great new shows & new songs.

Funny? Hmmm. He's always funny. He says when I don't remember my lyrics, he starts taping on his iPhone for Instagram. The minute I sense a camera is rolling, he says something clicks in and my memory is perfect. My game face goes on!

Melissa Errico at Feinstein's/54 Below4. In our last interview about this show, we talked about some of the more fun times as a mother and what your secret was to a successful marriage. Since this show talks about the ins and outs of motherhood/marriage, let's go in the opposite direction and talk about the outs. What is the most challenging part about being a mother and being a wife? Um, having kids and a husband. Nuff said? Ok, add that there are only 24 hrs in one day. That's rough.

5. Every time we talk, you always have so much going on! How do you balance motherhood, marriage, and work? How do make sure you give your family the time they need when you have so much going on with your career? I sacrifice sleep. I eat anything that's fast to find. I text. I'm as organized (domestically, the dull stuff like dentist appointments and school forms) as the military. The kids come first in every way imaginable. Sleep comes last. I aim to not say that, I know that's not a long term plan.

6. Since the first part of the show's name is Funny, what is the funniest thing to have happened to you during a show of yours? I was so tired recently I forgot which arm I was using and I went to drink my microphone instead of my water glass.

Melissa Errico Family7. If you were asked to write a song called "Funny! I'm A Woman with Children," what points would you want to make sure got written into the song? Mommy knows that the best way to love you is to work on mommy. To forgive herself. To grow. To not be too hard on herself. To laugh at how we cannot control life, and to expect chaos. If you expect chaos, you cannot be too tense. And life gets vibrant and full of surprises you allow. Let your socks be mismatched. Not matching is way better style.

8. As a mother yourself, what traits of your mom do you see in your own mothering skills that have made you stop and say, "Oh my gosh, I'm becoming my mother"? She enjoyed a party.

9. Of the lessons you've taught your children, which ones do you hope they impart on their children, should they have kids of their own? That learning takes time. Every day is progress. You can't become good at anything overnight.

10. In our first interview together, we talked about our favorite Long Island hangouts as children. Now, as a grown-up, what are your favorite Long Island hangouts? I'm more East now, if I go to the island--I love the Hamptons. I even like Sunset Beach even if it's a little "euro" now, lots of Ibiza energy. My kids went to the bathroom there recently during dinner and came back after a long time. They said "sorry mom, it took so long because a guy and girl were in the bathroom TOGETHER for a while."

Melissa ErricoMore on Melissa:

Melissa Errico, Tony Award nominee, has starred on Broadway, on network Television and Film and is an accomplished recording artist and musical concert performer. This year she was seen as the character "June" on Showtime's acclaimed new drama Billions starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Last season, Melissa played the recurring role of "Catherine" on the Stephen Soderbergh show The Knick for Cinemax, and had guest arcs on Blue Bloods and The Good Wife. Her Broadway credits include starring roles in My Fair Lady, Dracula, White Christmas, High Society, Les Misérables, Anna Karenina and Amour for which she was nominated for a Best Actress Tony Award. She starred in Stephen Sondheim's Passion and Sunday in the Park with George. She has released three studio albums: Blue Like That (EMI Records) produced by Arif Mardin, Legrand Affair (Ghostlight) produced by Phil Ramone, and Lullabies & Wildflowers (VMG/Universal Records) produced by Rob Mathes; and a recent 3-song digital single More Lullabies & Wildflowers to benefit her charity. Through everything, she stays devoted to her loving family including her husband, tennis player Patrick McEnroe, their three young daughters, and one Yorkie!

Sunday
Sep112016

Call Answered: Facetime with the cast of The Fantasticks, Off-Broadway's longest running show

"Call Me Adam" gets some Facetime with the cast of The Fantasticks, Off-Broadway's longest running show! I help welcome Days of Our Lives star Peter Reckell to the cast (he plays "El Gallo, The Narrator" through September 25) as well getting up close and personal with Andrew Polec "The Boy, Matt" and Madison Claire Parks "The Girl, Luisa" and have a rare talk with the show's silent character "The Mute," played by Drew Seigla.

The Fantasticks plays The Theater Center/Jerry Orbach Theater (210 West 50th Street, 3rd Floor, between Broadway &  8th Avenue). 

For more on The Fantasticks visit: http://fantasticksonbroadway.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Call Me Adam's interview with the cast of The Fantasicks:

Wednesday
Aug312016

Call Answered: Eric Millegan: From FOX TV's "Bones" to Musical Theatre and More

Eric MilleganEric Millegan as "Zack Addy" on FOX TV's "Bones"I love a versatile actor, one that has worked in film, television, and theatre. What I love more is an actor, whom after being on a hit show, still comes back to the stage. This is just one reason I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to interview Bones' Eric Millegan. It was great geeking out with him on musical theatre, getting to the bare essentials of his time on FOX TV's hit show Bones as well as learning about his struggles and how he hopes to improve his life by one percent better everyday!

Eric's latest film, Lady Peacock is currently available on Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. Also, in the interview below, Eric has some "Bone" chilling news to share!

For more on Eric follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. You have been performing since you were seven years old. What or what inspired you to become a performer? I really don't know. I've enjoyed singing for as long as I can remember. When I was very young, I asked my Mom if I could be an professional actor when I grew up and she said yes.

Eric Millegan and Estelle Parsons in "Harold & Maude: The Musical" at Paper Mill PlayhouseEric Millegan in his very first show "Amahl & the Night Visitors" at Eugene Opera2. You have such a rich history in theatre and have moved into film/television. What do you like about working in each medium? Like I said, I love singing so obviously, I love doing musicals. Unlike film and TV, you get immediate feedback from the audience so that's fun but I also really love TV and film. You get to create something natural and real. You really dive into the role. It's also fun to work intensely on a scene and once you nail it, it's over, you move onto the next scene. And there's always something new, unlike theatre where you're doing the same thing over and over again.

3. One show you starred in as a child was Oliver. The most famous part of the show (at least in my mind) is when "Oliver" asks for more food, saying, "Please sir, may I have some more?" To which "Mr. Bumble" replies "MORE??" When was there a time in your life when you wanted more of something and someone responded with a similar tone of "MORE?" as if they felt you weren't entitled to more. I've always wanted more acting jobs but they're not easy to come by. There is A LOT of rejection.

4. Another show you have starred in several times is The Most Happy Fella. When do you say to yourself, this moment or this time spent with makes me "The Most Happy Fella"? I love love love The Most Happy Fella. So many great songs of so many different styles. I played "Herman" in college and then I was "Clem" at St Louis Rep and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. It's fun singing "Standing on the Corner." Great song. When I'm working on Bones, I feel very grateful to get to work on such a great show. That certainly makes me a most happy fella.

Eric Millegan and the cast of FOX TV's "Bones"Emily Deschanel and Eric Millegan on FOX TV's "Bones"5. For five years, you starred on FOX's hit series Bones as "Zack Addy." What did you relate to most about "Zack"? What is one quality about "Zack" that you wish you had, but don't? Well "Zack" is obviously very smart and I used to be smart when I was younger. I skipped the 7th grade and went on to be Valedictorian in high school but I don't feel very smart nowadays. It's weird and hard to explain. But I've always been good at playing smart people and those are often the kind of roles I go up for. I'm not sure there is any quality about "Zack" that I wish I had. I'm pretty happy with who I am.

6. What were your top three funniest moments on the set of Bones?

1) There are two games we used to play on the set. One is "Who's working?" Sometimes, it seems that everyone is waiting around for something to get done before we shoot the next take. So we look around to find who is working. The other is "Who's sleeping?" It can be fun to see if you can find anyone on the set who is sleeping.

2) Emily Deschanel and I used to sing on the set and one day we got a little out of control singing songs from Annie and we sort of got in trouble. The 1st AD came over to us and said "We love it when you sing. We love it. But we need you to not sing."

3) Emily and I always laugh when we look back at a certain scene where I had to do this little dance while she said her line because of the way the camera was moving. I had to step to my right and back and then forward and back. And it's a very serious scene and it was sort of ridiculous. We look back on that and laugh about it all the time.

Eric Millegan and the cast of FOX TV's "Bones"Eric Millegan7. As a result of being on Bones you have traveled all over to Paris Manga, San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con, Collectormania Milton Keynes (UK), LA Times Festival of Books, Wonder Con (Anaheim), and Space City Comic Con (Houston). What is it like to attend these events and meet your fans? I love love love it. Being paid to travel and meet with fans who love you is obviously a great experience. And I've made some good friends along the way.

8. There is talk that you might be returning to Bones for the 12th and final season. Can you reveal to fans if that comeback is happening and if so, what's it like to know that so many people have begged and pleaded for your return? Yes, I am returning for the 12th season. In fact, I have already shot episode 1 and Emily directed. It's a great episode. I think the fans are going to love it. The fans' support throughout the years has been overwhelming to me. Making money and acting is great of course, but honestly, when I found out I was coming back to the show, I was most happy for the fans. They deserve to see "Zack" again.

Eric MilleganEric Millegan as "Zack Addy" on FOX TV's "Bones"9. What has been the best part about being an actor? What has been the most challenging? First and foremost, it's the work itself. I really love acting and when I get a chance to do it, it's wonderful. It's also great to have people come up to you on the street and tell you how much they've enjoyed your work. The most challenging thing about being an actor is finding work. It's not easy. I'd love to do another series when Bones is done but it's very competitive and it's hard to book those jobs. I have a great manager and great agents and great publicists so I look forward to working with them to find that next project.

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? Oh wow. I think the thing I need and want to focus on more is my writing. I have a play and a screenplay in the works (I've written two other screenplays) but I've gotten lazy. They're really good projects and I need to get back on track and put in the work in to get them done.

Eric MilleganMore on Eric:

Eric Millegan began his musical theatre career at age 7, in the 1981 Eugene Opera production of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors. He continued with the company in several other productions, including Madame Butterfly, La Bohème, Carmen, and Hansel and Gretel. Through his childhood, he appeared in productions of Oliver (twice), Annie, The Wizard of Oz, The King & I, Camelot, Bye Bye Birdie (twice), Snoopy, West Side Story, Cabaret, The Imaginary Invalid, Leader of the Pack, The Music Man (twice), Hello Dolly, HMS Pinafore, Iolanthe, The Mikado, Gypsy, A Christmas Carol (three times) and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.

At The University of Michigan, Eric performed in Pal Joey, Brigadoon, Quilt: A Musical Celebration, The Most Happy Fella, Sunday in the Park with George, and 42nd Street. He also worked two summers at the Forestburgh Playhouse, appearing in Evita, Fiddler on the Roof, Camelot (again), Jesus Christ Superstar, and Promises Promises.

Upon graduation from Michigan, he moved directly to NYC where he made his Off-Broadway debut in Schoolhouse Rock Live! at the Atlantic Theater. He followed that up with an Off-Broadway production of The Imaginary Invalid, a show he had done at Interlochen in his youth. He got his Equity card playing "Doc" in Garland Wright's production of Babes In Arms at the Guthrie Theater and as an understudy for the role of "Gus," went on once performing opposite a relatively unknown Kristin Chenoweth. Eric followed this up with roles in The Most Happy Fella (yet again) in a joint production at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park & the Repertory Theater of St. Louis and Big River (as the "Young Fool") at the Paper Mill Playhouse.

In 1998, he played "Kim McAfee" in Bye Bye Birdie: In Concert with an All Male Cast! in NYC. Then he went to Myrtle Beach, SC to play several roles including a dancing polar bear in The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Immediately, in early 1999, he was the "mistress" of ceremonies in Broadway La Cage at the Hilton in Atlantic City, NJ. A few months later, he was cast as "Peter Pan" and "Hercules" in musicals on Disney Cruise Line but he quit during rehearsals. When he got back to NYC, he went to an open call for the 2000 Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar and was cast to play an apostle and to understudy Simon, a role he got to play 5 times.

With his career in high gear, he was cast to sing the famous "Aquarius" solo in the Encores production of Hair at City Center in 2001. He also began to work onscreen, guest starring in Law & Order: Criminal Intent's first season and Sidney Lumet's acclaimed series 100 Centre Street. His big screen debut came in his performance as "Ed Simone" in On Line which made its world premiere at the 2002 Sundance International Film Festival. Later, in 2002, he returned to his opera roots and played the role of "Older Brother" in the New York premiere of Jake Heggie's opera Dead Man Walking starring Joyce DiDonato at Lincoln Center. In the summer of 2003, he was cast to play a delivery boy on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. He was in one scene acting alongside Larry David, Mel Brooks, and David Schwimmer but it was cut in the editing room and never seen. His name still appears in the credits of that episode which has caused confusion for some of his fans. Throughout this time, he helped shape new works of musical theater, playing lead roles in workshops and readings of Mask, Spring Awakening, With Glee and Altar Boyz to name a few.

In summer 2004, he landed the biggest break of his career being cast as "Harold" opposite Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons' "Maude" in the world premiere of Tom Jones and Joseph Thalken's Harold & Maude: The Musical at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey in January 2005. After that closed, he moved to Los Angeles. Three weeks later, he was cast to play "Zack Addy" on the FOX TV show Bones. In 2006, he returned to Eugene, Oregon, to play "Frederic" in Eugene Opera's production of The Pirates of Penzance co-starring Christiane Noll and Richard White.. In July 2013, he brought his critically acclaimed cabaret show to the Wildish Theater in Springfield, Oregon. Eric's most recent film Lady Peacock is currently available to be seen on Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. Eric has an international fan following. He has appeared and signed autographs at Paris Manga, San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con, Collectormania Milton Keynes (UK), LA Times Festival of Books, Wonder Con (Anaheim), and Space City Comic Con (Houston). His voice over work includes spots for Hotels.com and the 2014 GMC Sierra.

Thursday
Jul282016

Call Answered: Cast of Charles Busch's "The Divine Sister" at Bucks County Playhouse

Bucks County cast for "The Divine Sister," from left to right: Erin Maguire, Alison Fraser, Charles Busch, Jonathan Walker, Jennifer Van Dyck, and Julie Halston, Photo Credit: Joan MarcusIt has been five years since Charles Busch's The Divine Sister ran Off-Broadway. I saw that production at least 4-5 times. I LOVED the show. It was so funny, so well written, and 100% entertaining! Now, most of the original New York cast (Charles Busch, Julie Halston, Alison Fraser, Jennifer Van Dyck, and Jonathan Walker) is reviving the show at Bucks County Playhouse, with the addition of newcomer Erin Maguire. 

In a spoof on Hollywood's "nun movies," The Divine Sister tells the story of The Convent at St. Veronica’s of Pittsburgh which is in desperate need a new school. Mother Superior is determined to get it built no matter what, but first she must deal with a host of colorful, hilarious characters that stand in her way.

The Divine Sister plays at Bucks County Playhouse (70 South Main Street New Hope, PA 18938) through August 13! Click here for tickets!

Charles Busch as "Mother Superior" in "The Divine Sister" at Bucks County Playhouse, Photo Credit: Joan Marcus1. It's been five years since your NYC run of The Divine Sister. Now, you are remounting the show at Bucks County Playhouse from July 22-August 13. What made now the right time to revive the show? What excites you about bringing it to Bucks County Playhouse?

Charles Busch: Since childhood I've been fascinated by theatre history and there is something magical about appearing in a theatre where many years great performers have played. The Bucks County Playhouse has that great tradition. I love looking at the old posters of the many productions that has been on that stage starring the likes of Kay Francis, Shirley Booth and so many others.

Jennifer Van Dyck: We had a delirious time making this play and the run was an extraordinary journey. When Alex Fraser and Robin Goodman asked us to do this revival, Jonathan and I looked at each other and giggled. Absolutely, we thought. But what are the chances that the whole cast could return? It is a complete delight to be back together again as a company, with the wonderful edition of Erin Maguire. Bucks County is where, in my senior year in high school (Princeton, NJ), I received the only award I’ve ever received for acting. My school brought a production of The Importance of Being Earnest and I played "Gwendolyn." This year I returned in May to be a judge for the very same ongoing festival of high school performers. Full circle! Now I get to play on this very same stage, all these many years later.

Alison Fraser and Julie Halston in "The Divine Sister" at Bucks County Playhouse, Photo Credit: Joan Marcus2. How have these past five years of life/living changed the way you relate to your character? Or do you relate the same?

Charles Busch: I've always enjoyed having the opportunity to revisit an old play of mine. I like to think experience onstage and off have made me a better actor. In my first few plays I lacked the discipline and skill to maintain a role for a long run. It's easy in a stylized comedy to get broader and broader as time goes by. For the past ten or fifteen years I've made a concerted effort to simplify and get more truthful as the run continues without sacrificing any laughs. That's the great challenge. I like to think my closing night performance is my best. Therefore having the chance years later to revisit the role is a way of starting with everything I've discovered in the past and building from there.

Alison Fraser: Hmmm. Some same, some different. I still have the highest regard for Charle Busch's hilarious, thrilling and surprisingly deep script, and getting to revisit the stellar material with four brilliant members of the original cast is an absolute joy.

As for the differences?

1) Our new "Agnes," Erin Maguire, is a delight who brings a fresh perspective to all the scenes we have together, so that is exciting to explore.  

2) The world, tragically, has become a much darker place in the last five years, so pointing a gun at the face of people I love, even though we know it's just a play, fills me with a mild bit of revulsion.

3) "Domino's" fabulous black leather corset/miniskirt fits a wee bit more snug these days. Even international Catholic hit- women have to count their calories....

Julie Halston in "The Divine Sister" at Bucks County Playhouse, Photo Credit: Joan Marcus3. What has been the best part about being back together as a cast? Is the dynamic the same or has it changed at all?

Julie Halston: The best part of all being together again is how we also enjoy each other's company. And I'm personally loving living with Charles again - we haven't done it in a long time and we are really having such a great time - we really DO work well together. We are loving the beautiful area and everyone is helpful smart and fun!!

Jennifer Van Dyck: We laugh our heads off. Rehearsals have been ridiculous since we have to hold ourselves together to get through certain scenes. The difference is that we’re not creating the show from scratch, so there’s not sheer panic. There’s some panic of course (the stage is so much larger: How will I make the quick changes from "Mrs. Levinson" to "Timothy" and back again in time???).

4. What is the funniest thing to happen so far during the rehearsal period?

Julie Halston: The funniest thing that happened is that we lost our rental car at The Giant supermarket and the only way I could finally find it was to push the PANIC BUTTON on the key - it was out of a MARX BROTHERS movie. but we had to get back to rehearsal on time!!!

Jennifer Van Dyck: The fart circle at the top of scene five had to be re-timed because there is more space and it takes longer to get into place from off-stage. Then you add in the sound effects and we could not hold ourselves together during rehearsal. I’m not in that scene, but the whole room went up for grabs.

Jennifer Van Dyck and Jonathan Walker in "The Divine Sister" at Bucks County Playhouse, Photo Credit: Joan Marcus5. What is one thing you missed most about the show that you are now looking forward to revisiting?

Jennifer Van Dyck: Laughter, sweat, panic, delirium - all in 90 minutes. Although this time round we’ve added an intermission, so we may have time to catch our breath in the middle (and Bucks County can serve refreshments to the audience).

Jonathan Walker: I love the flow of the show. It’s such an almost perfect play, so complete with no added "fat" from beginning to end. It’s a wicked good ride that’s over before you know it and so much happens during the course of the story. I can’t wait to get that feeling of that wonderful roller coaster. And of course, working, playing and hanging out with this extraordinary cast, creative team and crew at such a wonderful theater. The best.

6. What have you learned about yourselves from starring in this show? This can be about you as a person, your craft, your relationships to each other, etc...

Jennifer Van Dyck: I love the range of silliness that Charles has written for each of us. Precision is key, as in all comedy, but this insists we work on all cylinders: physical, vocal, emotional. I love the challenge of going back and forth between "Mrs. Levinson" and "Timothy."

Erin Maguire and Charles Busch in "The Divine Sister" at Bucks County Playhouse, Photo Credit: Joan Marcus7. The Divine Sister tells the story of The Convent at St. Veronica’s of Pittsburgh which is in desperate need a new school. Mother Superior is determined to get it built no matter what. When has there been a time in your life when you wanted something so bad that you went after it and got it no matter what?

Erin Maguire: Ironically, I saw The Divine Sister during its run at Soho playhouse. I LOVED it. And I turned to my friend who brought me and said "I want to work with these people. I want to do this show." From that point, I kept my eye on what this nutty troupe was up to. Then I had the opportunity to work with Charles and Carl on Bunnicula, followed by a show at the 92nd Street Y called Here's to the Girls. Then when the opportunity arose to be in The Divine Sister, I jumped at it. It took a few years, but I landed here in Bucks County with the original cast about 5/6 years after I said I would! I guess "The Secret" really does
work!

8. Over the past five years, our world has endured a lot of troubling times. With a comedic show like The Divine Sister, how do you continue to find the laughter and humor during such troubling times?

Jennifer Van Dyck: At times like this, it is even more important to find reasons to laugh and enjoy being in the company of others. The world is not a silly place these days, but it is essential to find little corners of silliness and reasons to giggle, snort and guffaw.

Erin Maguire, Alison Fraser, Charles Busch, and Julie Halston in "The Divine Sister" at Bucks County Playhouse, Photo Credit: Joan Marcus9. The Divine Sister pays homage to almost every "nun-movie" ever made. Of the films you pay tribute to, which one(s) do you wish you could have starred in yourselves?

Erin Maguire: Of all the films we spoof, I would most like to star in The Sound of Music. I grew up with this show. Who doesn't love The Sound of Music??? But even as a kid, I was more of an "Elsa" than a "Maria!" So this is the closest I get to being a precious ingenue!

Alison Fraser: Oh this is a slam dunk. My nun film preferences run toward the dark tales, which isn't surprising considering the disturbed "Sister Walburga's" demeanor. I was never a Trouble with Angels/The Sound of Music type. Instead I was drawn to The Nun's Story, The Song of Bernadette, and my all time favorite, the florid uber melodramatic ecclesiastic epic Black Narcissus. And of course the best role in that one is "Sister Ruth," the sex obsessed nun who has a crisis of faith followed by horrible consequences. Fun!

Jonathan Walker and Erin Maguire in "The Divine Sister" at Bucks County Playhouse, Photo Credit: Joan Marcus10. 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?

Jonathan Walker: I’d love to increase the percentage/interest rate in my savings account! I remember the days when there actually used to be a decent return on one's deposit!!! Lol.

Sunday
Jan312016

Call Redialed: Telly Leung: Songs For You, Allegiance, Inspirational Broadway

Tell Leung, Photo Credit: Leon Le PhotograpyIn 2012 I got to interview Telly Leung while he was starring on Broadway in the revival of Stephen Schwartz's Godspell. At that time, he was already tapped to originate the role of "Sammy Kimura" in the pre-Broadway run of Allegiance. Well, four years later, Telly has come home to the Great White Way in Allegiance which also stars Lea Salonga and George Takei! Allegiance plays at the Longacre Theatre (220 West 48th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) through February 14! Click here for tickets!

In addition to Allegiance, Telly recently released his second solo CD Songs for You featuring classic songs from the worlds of Pop, Jazz, R&B, and Broadway, featuring the songs by Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Oleta Adams, Mama Cass Elliot, John Denver, Des’ree, Stephen Sondheim and Schwartz as well as Jerry Herman. Click to purchase on Amazon and iTunes!

If this wasn't enough, Telly is also taking part in Inspirational Broadway at B.B. Kings (237 West 42nd Street, between 7th & 8th Avenue) in NYC on Monday, February 15 at 7:30pm. The one night only concert features theatre’s biggest names singing Broadway, Gospel, Pop, and Rock classics with a stirring and spiritual twist. In addition to Telly, the evening will feature Broadway Inspirational Voices founder Michael McElroy, Billy Porter (Kinky Boots), Renee Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton), Tony-nominee Joshua Henry (Violet), Chad Kimball (Memphis), Eden Espinosa (Wicked), Jarrod Spector (Beautiful), Adam Pascal (Rent), and Marcus Paul James (Motown). Click here for tickets!

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

1. This past November, you released your long awaited second CD, Songs For You, featuring classic songs from the worlds of Pop, Jazz, R&B, and Broadway done with a new and innovative twist. What made now the right time to record this CD? What do each of these songs represent for you? This has been an incredibly fulfilling and emotional year for me, with one of my biggest childhood dreams coming true: originating a leading role in a Broadway show from its first creative inception - and taking it from reading to workshop to out-of-town to Broadway. ​Allegiance has been such a gift, and a dream-come-true. I could not have done it alone, and I wanted to find a musical way to express the overwhelming feeing of GRATITUDE I had for all the people in my life (professionally and personally) that helped me along the way. Each song on the album has a special dedication to someone in my life - and it was my musical, creative way of saying, "thank you."

2. One of my favorite songs on the CD is the mash-up of "I Am What I Am" and "I Have Nothing." First of all, how did you decide these two songs would work so well as a mash-up? Secondly, what do remember about the moment in your life when you said to the world, "I Am What I Am?" and Thirdly, in regards to "I Have Nothing," when was there a time in your life when you felt you had nothing? I am a HUGE fan of two things - Broadway and Whitney Houston! I grew up listening to her on the radio, and that was the iconic voice that inspired me to sing. ​As a Broadway fan, I've always loved "I Am What I Am" (and "Albin" is a dream role of mine. I still got a couple of years to grow into it!). "I Have Nothing" is a love song, but those first iconic lyrics in the verse have a double meaning when paired with a "coming out" song like "I Am What I Am." "Share my life, take me for what I am...'cuz I'll never change all my colors for you."

I was inspired to do this very Glee-style mashup when I was in London for a Glee fan convention - and met so many young kids who were in that fragile time in their lives when they were figuring out WHO they were. A show like Glee, and the camaraderie that comes from making music with others (like they do in that famous choir room), was what helped these young people come out of their own "closets" and find themselves. I was blown away by these "Gleeks," and that's why this song is dedicated to them on the album.

Those two songs definitely resonate with me, and seeing those kids made me think about my own "coming out" experience. I found the courage to finally be unapologetic about who I am when I met my partner of 11 years. Having that love and support from him gave me that strength. The lyric, "I have nothing, nothing, nothing - if I don't have you", has never been more true.

3. I also enjoy "New York State of Mind." What are your favorite things to do in NYC? It might sound VERY obvious, but one of my favorite things to do in NYC is see a Broadway show. There's only one Broadway - and it's in NYC. It's my home - in so many ways.

4. You also cover Stephen Schwartz's "Dreamscape." When you need some Telly time, what's your "Dreamscape?" I am lucky that my job requires that I am constantly stimulated creatively. As a professional artist, my synapses and creative juices are constantly firing. For many people like me, who are working artists, it's important to find time to shut that off. So, my "dreamscape" often comes in the form of being a vegetable, on my couch, and watching some mindless TV.

5. Another song I love is "Second Chances" from Allegiance. What is an example of a time you gave someone a second chance and when were you given a second chance? To me, that song is about having faith that life is constantly filled with opportunities for redemption and forgiveness. We are all human and we all do things we regret. We say things we don't mean. We hurt the ones we love when we don't intend to do that. It may feel like those actions are irreversible, but the power of love and forgiveness is what allows us to grow and change for the better.

My parents had a hard time with me choosing a life in show biz. Like most traditional Chinese immigrant parents, they wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer - something "practical" that gave me financial security. ​They discouraged theatre and arts when I was younger - and I held a lot of resentment to them about that. When I was in high school, I'd take after school jobs and defiantly pay for my own acting and voice lessons, and not tell them about shows I was doing, because I didn't want them to be a part of this life that they didn't support. I shut them out. I was young, and didn't understand that it didn't come from a place of them not wanting me to be happy and fulfilled, but rather their concern about the ability to make a living in a very competitive profession. Eventually, my parents and I met each other in the middle. They let me pursue my dreams, and I let go of that resentment and lack of support and allowed them to partake in this other life I led. Now, they are very supportive, and we are very close.

Telly Leung in "Allegiance"6. Speaking of Allegiance, you are once again starring alongside Lea Salonga, with whom you made your Broadway debut alongside in 2002 in Flower Drum Song. What was your reunion like? What do you remember most about working with her in that show? What's it like to work with her now? Lea is family to me. She has always been a "big sister" to me, ever since Flower Drum Song. To get to play her little brother now is a "no acting required" job, and I feel like audiences that see our characters "Kei" and "Sammy" in Allegiance are also getting a peek at our off-stage relationship as Lea and Telly. It's always a joy to work with her, and hang with her on and off stage. She's been a "big sister" to me in every way. She's definitely had the responsibilities of carrying a show (with her dynamic turn as "Kim"), and she definitely helped me with sage advice about how to do that as "Sammy" in Allegiance. She is my rock on stage, and I couldn't have done this without her. Truly.

7. It was recently announced that Allegiance would be closing on Broadway, February 14. What is it like the night you come to work to find out the show is closing? How do you get out there and give it your all? What has been the most heart-felt thing to happen to you so far during the run of Allegiance? What will you miss most about starring in this show? We all found about the closing right after a Wednesday matinee performance. My dear friend and fellow cast mate Marcus Choi (who made his B'way debut with me in Flower Drum Song in 2002) went on for the first time as "Frankie" - and everyone was on a congratulatory high to experience his debut in that role! The whole building was full of pride and joy for Marcus. Then, we got the dreaded announcement that there was an impromptu "company meeting." Everyone in the business knows that "company meeting" means "you're getting your closing notice." We all went from "high" to "low" very quickly.

Telly Leung, Photo Credit: Leon Le PhotographyIt was a bitter-sweet announcement. Of course, there is a part of me that is very sad the show is closing on 2/14. But, I'm trying to maintain perspective about the whole thing. I've worked on the show for six years - and there were so many nay-sayers along the way that said, "A musical about the Japanese-American internment? That will NEVER happen on Broadway." We proved all the nay-sayers wrong, and it DID happen. I am incredibly proud of this show, and I know that it is a moving and powerful experience for those lucky audience members that do get a chance to see this show in it's limited Broadway incarnation.

As a Broadway fan, there have been many shows that I LOVE and respect that have had short runs on Broadway - Merrily We Roll Along, Scottsboro Boys, The Visit, and Title Of Show are just a few that come to mind. All of those shows are huge, artistic and creative success stories - regardless of the commercial success. I count Allegiance as one of those shows.

As for "giving it our all" after the announcement - there is no pulling back or giving less than your 100% when you are in a show with George Takei, who is giving 110% at age 78! His dedication to telling this story is relentless, and he is the heart of our company. He is the glue that holds us all together. The closing notice only ignited the fire of urgency to get this story out to as many people as possible before 2/14, and that fire is spreading and it's contagious in our company. We may be closing early, but we are going to to out with our heads held high, and giving it our all!

What I'll miss? The cast and the bonds and friendships created by this show. I started a tradition at the Longacre called "Bar Telly." At the end of a long week, I open up my dressing room after the final show, and I stock my room with booze, drinks and snacks for the cast. Everyone crams into my tiny room, and we all have a drink before we leave the building, to celebrate another week together. I will miss "Bar Telly" and all the good times we had there.

8. With Allegiance closing, this will give you some time to actually go see some Broadway shows. What do you want to see? Of current, what shows would you like to go into? Because Allegiance has Wednesday nights off, I've actually gotten to see quite a bit of theater! I still haven't seen Color Purple and I'm dying to see this version! I loved the original, and it's one of my favorite shows. I can't wait to see this revival and what they've done with it.

As for shows I'd love to do - I'd love to be in Hamilton one day. That show blew me away, and Lin's writing is a powerhouse achievement for our genre. As an actor of color, I'm thrilled that something on Broadway is TRULY color-blind when it comes to casting. The show looks like it will have a very long run on Broadway - with productions nationally an internationally for decades to come - so I'm keeping fingers crossed that I get my "shot" at being part of that incredible show! Werq Werq!

9. The night after Allegiance closes, you will be singing at B.B. Kings in NYC as part of Inspirational Broadway, an evening of music lead by Broadway Inspirational Voices founder Michael McElroy. How did you become involved with Broadway Inspirational Voices? What does being part of this group do for you? ​I'm not officially a member of Broadway Inspirational Voices, but I'm definitely a friend, fan and supporter of the choir since so many members of my Broadway family are part of the organization. One of my dearest friends is my Rent-colleague Michael McElroy, who is the founder. What he has done with the choir is remarkable. Not only does he build community within the Broadway network, but he's expanded that sense of community outside of the B'way community by using the choir to do music outreach to young students. He does all of this with the power of music and it's ability to bring people together and lift spirits.

I wanted to produce an evening of music to raise some awareness and dollars for their outreach program. Michael and I picked up the phone and we called our friends to come and sing with us - and these folks have generously donated their time and talents to this ONE NIGHT ONLY event at BB KING's! Audiences can expect to hear their favorite Broadway and Pop songs - everything from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Sondheim to The Beatles - done with Broadway Inspirational Voice's unique and soulful twist.

10. On "Call Me Adam," I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent every day? MY DIET! The eating schedule of a Broadway performer is so tricky and strange because we can't eat too much before a show, and we are starving AFTER a show, but shouldn't eat too much before bed. It's always a challenge to try and strike that balance between eating excessively and not giving your body enough fuel. ​

Telly Leung, Photo Credit: Matthew MurphyMore on Telly:

Telly Leung made his Broadway debut in the 2002 revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song opposite Lea Salonga, followed by the Roundabout Theater Company revival of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s Pacific Overtures. Telly starred in the final Broadway cast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent, which was filmed for DVD release. In the 2011 revival of Godspell, his version of "All Good Gifts" was praised as "magnificent" by New York Magazine, "superb" by The Philadelphia Inquirer, and "a standout" by Bloomberg News.

On Fox TV’s Glee, Telly was featured as a member of the Dalton Academy "Warblers" opposite Darren Criss. When he recreated his portrayal of "Angel" in Rent at the Hollywood Bowl – directed by Neil Patrick Harris – he was called "vibrant" by The Los Angeles Times, "stunning" by the Orange County Register and praised for his "sweet, clear tenor" by Variety. Telly also originated the role of "Boq" in the Chicago production of the smash hit Wicked and has performed in concert and shows at venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Hippodrome in London, Birdland Jazz Club and 54 Below in New York, Paper Mill Playhouse, Philadelphia Theater Company, Ford’s Theater, and more.

He served as producer for the short film Grind, starring Anthony Rapp (If/ThenRent), Claire Coffee (Grimm, The West Wing) and Pasha Pellosie (The Carrie Diaries). The movie, which won honors at film festivals around the country, is available to stream at GrindShortFilm.com. The soundtrack is available on Yellow Sound Label. Telly is also the co-producer of the touring concert series Broadway Back Together, a reunion of major headliners who have performed on Broadway together, sharing an evening of personal backstage anecdotes and show-stopping music.

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