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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in Off-Broadway (306)

Saturday
Sep132014

Call Answered: Natalie Douglas: Hello Dolly: The Music of Dolly Parton

Natalie Douglas, Photo Credit: Susan Block"Call Me Adam" chats with seven-time MAC Award, Backstage Bistro Award and Nightlife Award Winner Natalie Douglas about her concert at Birdland in NYC Hello Dolly: The Music of Dolly Parton this Monday, September 15 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

Natalie honors another notably-buxom performer: the beloved singer, actor, songwriter and Broadway composer. Fans can expect to hear songs that Dolly wrote such as "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors," and "I Just Might" from the Broadway musical 9 to 5, in addition to numbers that Dolly creatively covered like Neil Young’s "After The Gold Rush" and Led Zeppelin’s "Stairway to Heaven." Birdland is located at (315 West 44th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue).

For more on Natalie be sure to visit http://www.nataliedouglas.com and follow her Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Natalie Douglas at Birdland, Photo Credit: Seth Walters1. On September 15, you are presenting Hello Dolly: The Music of Dolly Parton at Birdland in NYC. What made you want to showcase a whole show of Dolly Parton music? Like millions of other fans, I have LOVED Dolly Parton for decades. Since hearing me sing "Jolene" in one of my Birdland concerts back in 2005, Jim Caruso, who’s not only the Broadway @ Birdland impresario, but also a talented entertainer himself, has been asking me when I was gonna sing an entire evening of Dolly music. Recently, there have been a few happy coincidences - I was asked to sing in a Dolly revue, someone sent me a link to Tori Amos' "Jolene" cover, heard someone calling his dog named, "Jolene" - the song seemed to be following me around. Seems like the world is having a Dolly Moment...so I wanted to play along!

2. How did you decide which songs you wanted to include? That's a long story and a short one at the same time...hmmmmm, guess the best way to put it is I try to figure out what best tells the overall story of the concert, plus what songs I REALLY want to sing. That probably seems obvious, but it can be tricky - sometimes a tune I wanted to sing months ago or a tune that seems like the perfect fit, isn't what I want to sing right now - and I've learned the hard way, the best shows are born of what I truly want to say. Also, any tune that makes me cry - that's in!

Natalie Douglas and Jim Caruso at Birdland, Photo Credit Kevin Alvey3. What made you want to do this show at Birdland? Why is Birdland the perfect venue for you to perform at? I've worked a zillion of clubs and they all have things to recommend them, but Birdland has been my NYC concert home for 10 years this month. Ever since my dear friend, Jim Caruso debuted his Broadway @ Birdland series there in June 2004, he, the owner, Gianni Valenti, and the entire brilliant Birdland staff make it a joy to come to play that room! Not only does the room have a truly legendary status, it's run beautifully and it's a thrill to stand on that stage every time! This will be my 28th solo performances at Birdland - it's a room that's all about the music!

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing this concert? That's an easy one! I hope they have a really GOOD time! I always do scads of research and scour the archives to try to find good stories & good songs, so that each audience member might discover something new about these artists or these tunes or themselves (I really hope they're moved!), but ultimately, in addition to my being a serious history/social studies/culture/politics/trivia geek, I'm out to have a blast & the audience is invited to come along with me! I feel "joined at the soul" with my audience, so I hope they walk away feeling that too!

Natalie Douglas at Birdland, Photo Credit: Kevin Alvey5. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Joe Williams & my Uncle Beau. My parents took me to hear live music often when I was small. One night, seeing the Count Basie orchestra, I watched Joe Williams come out on stage, begin to sing the verse of Ellington's, "Something to Live For," and completely captivate the audience - not a sound in that hall! I decided I wanted to do that. Make that particular kind of magic. 

Also, one of my earliest memories is sitting on my Uncle Beau's lap whilst he played piano. He'd place my tiny hands on the back of his hands and play anything he'd every heard without a leaf of sheet music. I adored him, my mother's brother, and felt as though we communicated perfectly even though he had some difficulties in the outside world and rarely left the facility in which he lived. I thought back on it as I got older & realized how music - the piano & the radio - were his way of making connection. I've always felt so glad he let me into his world.

6. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Oh that's so hard! So many of my Number One choices are no longer with us, (Nina Simone, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Joe Williams) which is the main reason I hope for an afterlife...that would be one cool club in which to hang out.

7. What's the best advice you’ve ever received? Say, "Yes." One of my favorite acting professors in college reminded us how important it is. It's taken me years to really hear what she meant, but since I've started living that way, my life & career have gotten even more enjoyable!

Natalie Douglas singing, Photo Credit: Lynn Redmile8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I'm still learning it, but I work every day to find the right amount of "me" in my work - actors can be rather self-obsessed, which is understandable - we are our instrument, but connecting with an audience, other musicians & the people who populate the world around you is the point of what we do, so that ego really needs to get out of the way. It's a balancing act & I feel as if I'm always learning to dance that tightrope.

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? As a long time Doctor Who fan, I have to go with a combo power - I'd be an absolute darling Time Lord! You'd have, the Power of Regeneration, Super Intelligence, Time Travel, Universal Language & Teleportation. That would be soooooooo totally groovy & also, reduce one's carbon footprint! I mean, I just assume a TARDIS operates green! :-)

10. If you could be an original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be?  Pineapple, duh.

BONUS QUESTION:

11. How do you want to be remembered? Well, I'm not planning to go anywhere for a long time (for example, I think it would be fun to stick around for Birdland's 100th birthday party in 2049!), but sometime in the next century say after I pass on, I'd love to be thought of as kind, funny, smart & good at what I do.

Natalie DouglasMore on Natalie:

Natalie Douglas is a seven-time MAC Award, Backstage Bistro Award and Nightlife Award Winner – has garnered rave reviews for her unique mix of jazz, blues, standards, pop, folk and country music blended together. Most recently, she received the 2014 Margaret Whiting Award at Carnegie Hall from the Mabel Mercer Foundation.

Her recent performances include concerts across the U.S. (Carnegie Hall, Birdland, Café Carlyle, and The Appel Room – formerly The Allen Room – at Lincoln Center) and across three continents (Montenegro, Greece, Corsica, Puerto Vallarta, London, Buenos Aires, Cancun & Germany.) In a Greenwich Village tradition, she also performs an annual New Year’s Eve collaboration with Mark Hartman at the Duplex. Her solo recordings include her debut CD, Not That Different – which was nominated for a 2000 MAC Award for Outstanding Recording – and To Nina...Live At Birdland, (a concert recording of her one-woman show, To Nina: A Tribute to Nina Simone) Both CDs, available at iTunes and other outlets, continue to be featured on NPR and Sirius XM Radio. She also appears on Fine and Dandy for PS Classics and Broadway By The Year: 1940 on Bayview Records.

Natalie is also an actress and is featured in feature film The Camera’s Eye, has appeared on ABC’s Cupid and many theatrical productions, including The People vs. MonaThalia FolliestheATrainplays (series 5-22) with The Neighborhood Playhouse, Hillside in Hell with 13th Street Rep and was a featured soloist at the York Theatre Company’s benefit production of Children Of Eden at Riverside Church.

Thursday
Sep112014

Call Answered: Joe Gulla: Faggy at 50: United Solo Festival

Joe GullaAfter two-sold out years in the 2012 and 2013 United Solo Festival, "Call Me Adam" finally gets to chat with The Bronx Queen playwright and actor himself, Joe Gulla about his new show Faggy at 50 which opens the 2014 United Solo Festival starting September 18! Click here for tickets!

For more on Joe be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

1. After two years with the sold-out hit The Bronx Queen, you are back in the United Solo Festival with a brand new show, Faggy at 50. What excites you about premiering this new show? I always envisioned The Bronx Queen as the first of a trilogy! Faggy at 50 takes us further down the road! I’m excited about unleashing this part of my journey on audiences!

2. How did you come up with the title Faggy at 50? How can you be 50 when you look like you are in your 30s??? I wanted the title to be provocative...in the spirit of Larry Kramer’s Faggots and John Leguizamo’s Spic-O-Rama! It’s meant to be funny AND serious. Who gets to define us? How do we define ourselves? Where do we draw the line?

A firm commitment to a good moisturizer..and, um hey, thanks Adam!!!!

3. How do you feel the United Solo Festival fosters your shows in a way another festival might not? The United Solo Festival dares to be specific. They champion the art of solo performance. As a youth, I was incredibly turned on by Spalding Gray and his monologues. Later, I was way into Eric Bogosian. I’ve always enjoyed this challenging and inspiring art form. United Solo celebrates it! If you’re solo performer or a person that enjoys solo performance…it’s where it’s at! They’ve created an incredible and supportive community.

4. In 2012, The Bronx Queen won United Solo's "Best Comedy Script" award and in 2013, it won United Solo's "Most Popular Show." What do these accolades mean to you and what did it mean to you to personally be asked back by the festival? Adam, it is a funny moment in a man’s life when his autobiographical show wins "Best Comedy!" Ha! Seriously, it is very satisfying to receive recognition like this! I am trying to give these shows and their messages a life! Winning awards garners attention. We’re in show business…gotta keep people interested!

This year, United Solo gave me the honor of opening the ENTIRE festival. This was in recognition of The Bronx Queen breaking records last year! I am BLOWN AWAY...complimented, thankful, wildly appreciative! It’s my intention to do them proud!

Joe Gulla5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Faggy at 50? I hope my audiences have a few good hearty laughs! Also, I hope they see that once we get past life's "static"…the important and satisfying stuff reveals itself!

6. What do you like about writing and starring in your own shows? How do you separate yourself between actor/writer? Writing’s a great vehicle of expression and it comes naturally to me! I take it seriously! Delivering MY words MYSELF...to a LIVE AUDIENCE. You’ve heard the expression before, "There’s nothing better! Nothing!" That being said, actors get more free drinks than writers and I’m all about the free drinks!

7. Who or what inspired you to become an actor/playwright? I’m a Bronx boy, a native New Yorker. My family came to Broadway all the time! The thought of being an actor/playwright was fascinating to me, but the reality of it seemed so elusive! I can name the names: John Guare, Terrence McNally, Tom Stoppard. Spalding Gray, Eric Bogosian, David Drake. But, at the end of the day, I was ROCKED when I saw Torch Song Trilogy on Broadway…so let’s go with Harvey!!!

Joe Gulla8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Nicky Silver…call me!!!

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Never underestimate the value of the Third Avenue Bridge!"

10. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor/playwright? I’ve learned that sharing one’s story is satisfying, gratifying and, surprisingly, healing!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Easy! With a snap of my "super powered" fingers, the cashiers at my local CVS turn into shirtless, hunky, humpy go-go boys…who I tip a dollar for my toothpaste purchase!

12. If you could be any original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Lime! To enliven my green eyes!

13. Favorite way to stay in shape? Equinox Made Me Do It!

14. Boxers or Briefs? Roberto Cavalli Trunks are my go-to!

15. How do you want to be remembered? I wore the SPY Magazine t-shirt in 90’s! On the back, it said: "Smart. Fun. Funny. Fearless."

Joe GullaMore on Joe:

Joe Gulla is an American playwright, actor, and reality television participant. He is best known for the autobiographical monologues that he writes and performs for the theater. His best known work, The Bronx Queen is based on his experience growing up as a gay boy in the Bronx. It was awarded "Best Comedic Script" and "Most Popular Show" at NYC Theater Row's 2012 and 2013 United Solo Theatre Festival.

Joe was a contestant on the NBC Adventure Reality Series, Lost in 2001. The show followed three teams of two as they made there way from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia back to the United States.

His play, Garbo was based on an unrequited love affair experienced while living in Rome, Italy. Garbo was selected to be part of the New York City's Times Square International Theater Festival in 2012. He played the role of "Frankie" in Off-Broadway's long-running hit, My Big Gay Italian Wedding.

The Advocate Magazine named Joe Gulla its "Anti-Bullying Hero." in 2012.

Sunday
Sep072014

Call Answered: Joan Shepard: Confessions of Old Lady #2 2014 International Fringe Festival Encore Series

Joan Shepard in "Confessions of Old Lady #2""Call Me Adam" chats with actress Joan Shepard about her show Confessions of Old Lady #2, chronicling her 74 year career on Broadway and Television that is part of the 2014 International Fringe Festival Encores Series at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street) on September 18 and 28. Click here for tickets!

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

1. Your show, Confessions of Old Lady #2, about your 74 year career on Broadway & television, just finished its initial run in the 2014 NYC Fringe International Theatre Festival and is now being presented in their Encore Series. What excites you about having your show in the Fringe Encore series? Excited & pleased to have been chosen.

2. What made now the right time to present Confessions of Old Lady #2? The last 2 summers I took the show to the Edinburgh Fringe. I loved it and would have gone back this year. But my daughter, the esteemed director Jenn Thompson, persuaded me to shoot for NYC Fringe as a higher target.

3. How do you feel the Fringe Festival helps foster this show in a way another festival might not? Plainly the attention given to Fringe NYC is extraordinary. I  got 4 reviews. The other Festival I applied to, offered a single performance as opposed to 5. 

Joan Shepard in "Confessions of Old Lady #2"4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Confessions of Old Lady #2? The promise that there is life after 80.

5. Since this show is about tales from your career, is there a story that did not make it into the show that you can share with us? In the show I tell about playing a 5 line part in The Member of the Wedding on Broadway. I don't want to distract from the impact of quoting Miss Ethel Waters &  telling how "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" got into the show, so I don't tell how (11 years after Bway) Miss Waters chose me to play the leading role of "Frankie Addams" on the West Coast, opposite her. One of my proudest possessions is a program cover showing me on her lap as we sing the famous hymn.

6. What was it like to go back through your whole life and career to put this show together? Were there moments when it was all too much for you? It was exhilarating rather than upsetting.

Joan Shepard in "Confessions of Old Lady #2"7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was totally hooked by my first show Romeo & Juliet, starring Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh. I never considered any other profession from, that day to this.

8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I would love to work with Liza Minnelli. She's in my show, but we never shared a stage at the same time.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Don't ever let yourself be bitter." (too many character ladies have made this mistake).

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That being scared is okay. I am still terrified before each performance, particularly of CONFESSIONS, and I know it's part of the deal.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? No question: the power to fly.

12. If you could be an original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Mint.

13. How do you want to be remembered? As someone who brought delight.

Joan ShepardMore on Joan:

Joan Shepard has enjoyed 74 years as a working actress, beginning with being cast as an extra in Laurence Olivier's Broadway production of Romeo & Juliet in 1940. Since then she has racked up 8 more Broadway plays, including The Member of the Wedding with Ethel Waters and Foolish Notion in which she played Tallulah Bankhead's daughter. As a child, she was one of radio's Quiz Kids, as a grown up she has had a distinguished career on stage and on television. Most recently she has appeared regionally at such theatres as the Human Race, New Harmony, the Pasadena Playhouse and the Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut. At the latter, she served also as Managing Director and was, along with her husband, Evan Thompson, directly responsible for saving that historic theatre from the wrecking ball. At Ivoryton she received a record number, seventeen of Pictorial Gazette Awards for her performances, and on television she was a memorable shoplifter on ABC's What Would You Do? as well as appearing on the HBO series Girls. In 2012 & 2013 she took her one-woman show CONFESSIONS OF OLD LADY #2 to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she was critically hailed as "a musical powerhouse" remotegoat.com, "a must see for any aspiring performer" StageWon, "Marvellous" (Whats'On), "a wonderful raconteur" Carrie Gooch SGfringe; "fabulous but not fading" (Scotsgay), 4 stars, "a gleeful account" (Libby Purves, the London Times). NYC's Cabaret Scenes described her show as "fascinating and fun" and called her "an eternal sprite whose company is a true pleasure".

Friday
Sep052014

Call Answered: Janet Prince: Murder, Margaret & Me: 2014 International Fringe Festival Encore Series

Janet Prince"Call Me Adam" chats with actress Janet Prince about starring in Murder, Margaret & Me which is part of the 2014 International Fringe Festival Encore Series playing at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street) on September 13, 19, and 20! Click here for tickets!

1. Murder, Margaret & Me just finished its initial run in the 2014 NYC Fringe International Theatre Festival and is now being presented in their Encore Series. What excites you about reprising this show in the Fringe Encore series? Being able to reach more people. The show completely sold out its run even with two extra shows and even my husband couldn't see it!

2. How do you feel the Fringe Festival helped nurture this show in a way another festival might not have? Certainly for an international show there is no other opportunity to stage a production in NY as accessible as this, even to the point that FringeNYC petitions for the visa which is always a difficult hurdle to overcome.

Janet Prince in "Murder, Margaret & Me"3. What made you want to initially audition for Murder, Margaret & Me? The piece was commissioned for me and I was convinced I could never play three different characters; the iconic actress Margaret Rutherford in particular, but the reviews have proved me wrong!

4. What do you identify most with about Margaret Rutherford and "Miss Marple"? Margaret Rutherford and I both love(d) swimming in cold sea...a point I prove weekly at Rockaway beach! and "Miss Marple" and I are both rather nosey!

5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing this show? A real sense of being involved in an extraordinary true story and with a smile on their face.

6. What has been the best part about starring in this show? The whole experience has been a delight...in fact the only downside with a solo show is the last night party is a bit quiet!

Janet Prince in "Murder, Margaret & Me"7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Stella Sizer Simpson (still remember her name) who took me for speech classes was such a glamorous character with long red nails and bright red lipstick and in my eleven year old eyes was a perfect role model!

8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Margaret Rutherford!

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Procrastination is the thief of time...my dad wrote it in my autograph book...but I still put everything off till the last minute....still think it is good advice though!

Janet Prince in "Murder, Margaret & Me"10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Very confident in youth, wobbly in the middle years and now I fear nothing!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Pour parler français instantanément!

12. If you could be an original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Had to google this...thought a Life Saver was the guy at the pool...so now I am an expert...did you know they were first introduced in 1902...I'd create a margarita flavour....

13. How do you want to be remembered? With a great big laugh!

Wednesday
Sep032014

Call Answered: Barry Levey: Hoaxocaust! 2014 International Fringe Festival Encore Series

Barry Levey in "Hoaxocaust!""Call Me Adam" chats with playwright Barry Levey about his one-man show Hoaxocaust!, about Barry's unbelievable round the world adventure as he tracks down deniers of the Holocaust from Illinois to Iran, meets engineers and ex-presidents, and dodges a brother in Hungary and a boyfriend back home on a journey to discover the shocking truth.

Hoaxocaust! is part of the 2014 International Fringe Festival's Encore Series playing at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street) on September 11, 18, 21, and 24. Click here for tickets!

For more on Barry and Hoaxocaust! visit http://www.hoaxocaust.com and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Your show, Hoaxocaust!, just finished its initial run in the 2014 NYC Fringe International Theatre Festival and is now being presented in their Encore Series. What excites you about having your show in the Fringe Encore series? Though an experienced playwright, I'm a novice performer, and it took me all 5 Fringe performances to get comfortable being onstage. Our opening night, I think I did our 70 minute show in 59 minutes--without dropping any lines, mind you; just speeding through it like a bullet train. I'm absolutely thrilled for this chance to continue my growth as an actor and keep getting to know our audiences night after night--to be able to really dialogue with them, and share the experience, and not be terrified that I'll lose my place.

2. How do you feel the Fringe Festival helped foster this show in a way another festival might not have? I don't know that I'd ever have been willing to risk being so vulnerable as a first-time writer/performer outside of the Fringe. For that matter, I don't know of any other producing organization that would have offered me the chance!

Barry Levey in "Hoaxocaust!"3. Hoaxocaust!, is a show about those who believe the Holocaust never happened. What made you want to write a show on the non-believers? When I first became aware of Deniers in the news, I was mystified at how these people could possibly exist--what kinds of supposed "facts" they could possibly believe or promulgate that justified their inanity. At first I thought that anything they had to say would be flat-out hysterical. I wasn't prepared to find them quite as terrifying as I did, and as I hope I convey in the piece.

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Hoaxocaust!? What have been the biggest reactions so far from audiences? I hope people come away from it, first and foremost, entertained. I'm a big believer in the first dictum of "Don't Be Boring." I also hope people feel engaged, like they've been part of a dialogue rather than some one-sided harangue. And I hope they're a little bit scared: of what's out there, and how interrelated but asymmetrical our self-perceptions can be compared to the ways we're perceived, and how difficult it is to choose what past traumas we let define our present-day identities.

Barry Levey in "Hoaxocaust!"5. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright? Pure selfishness. I was better at writing dialogue than I was at anything else, including performing, which I absolutely loved until my voice changed during an ill-timed community theater presentation of Bye Bye Birdie.

6. Who do you hope to get to work with in your career? Scott Rudin.

7. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright? That I'm pretty good at leading people someplace meaningful, but terrible at letting them stay there without undercutting it immediately with a laugh.

Barry Levey in "Hoaxocaust!"8. Favorite way to stay in shape? I love running, but always with music and never with company. And I can't say I've ever done it enough to make it calisthenic, but I love me a kayak. Even after falling into the Hudson on my very first try.

9. Boxers or Briefs? True to my completely ambivalent, Libra spirit, I can truthfully answer: boxer-briefs.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Teleportation. It's close with flying, but I figure teleportation gets me most of flying's benefits, with less work and time.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could be an original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? I don't know if this would make a good Life Saver, but I have always believed if someone could successfully combine chocolate, peanut butter, mint and coffee into one flavor experience, the world might end from collective gluttony. I've come close to creating this dessert perfection, with a chilled mini peppermint patty coated in peanut butter, but I failed to involve the coffee. Maybe I should have sprinkled grounds on the top? Anyway, it's too late now; I went vegan since that first attempt, and peppermint patties are out.

12. How do you want to be remembered? As a nice guy. A writer's writer. Giver of a pretty good wedding toast.

Barry LeveyMore on Barry:

Barry’s New York productions include HOAXOCAUST! at Theater for the New City and Prospect Theater Company; CRITICAL DARLING at the New Group; ALL THE WAY FROM CHINA at the Gene Frankel; and the short plays YALE LAW SCHOOL (Heideman Award Finalist, Actors Theatre of Louisville) and DOWNEASTER ALEXA at Ars Nova. He is a two-time O’Neill finalist, for CITIZENS OF ROME and WOMAN OF TROY. His work has been developed by the Lark, Arena Stage, Rattlestick, and Williamstown, among others. He is a graduate of Yale College and the MFA program at UC San Diego.