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Entries in Play (68)

Thursday
Apr202017

Call Answered: Matthew Montelongo: "Daniel's Husband" at Primary Stages

Matthew Montelongo, Photo Credit: Manolo DoresteAfter seeing Michael McKeever's new play Daniel's Husband I couldn't wait to find out more about it. I was thrilled when I called, and Matthew Montelongo answered. I was so taken by his performance, it's great to delve into Matthew & his portrayal of "Mitchell."

In Daniel's Husband, "Daniel" and "Mitchell" enjoying life as the perfect couple. Perfect house, perfect friends, even a mother who wants them to wed. What isn't perfect is that "Daniel" longs to be married and "Mitchell" does not. A turn of events forces both men to face the consequences of their opposing views, and they learn that they are living in a world where fundamental rights aren't always so fundamental. Daniel's Husband takes an unflinching look at how we choose to tie the knot. Or not.

Daniel's Husband plays at Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street) through April 28 only! Click here for tickets!

For more on Matthew follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I wish I had an inspiring story to share. You know those stories. A story of discovering my deep desire to act after witnessing a life-altering, transformational performance by some lauded performer of yester-year. Rather, and this is utterly boring (the truth usually is), I auditioned for a play in college and a kind director showed interest, telling me that I had potential. In that moment, for better AND for worse, I became enamored of that rare, thrilling moment when you are told that you’ve done something well. I’m a sucker for a Gold Star. Always have been. As I’m sure you and your readers are well aware, getting approval is a ridiculous reason to do anything. I am nothing, if not ridiculous.

2. After starring in the regional production of Daniel's Husband, you are now performing with it again at Cherry Lane Theatre in NYC. What initially made you want to be part of the show and what made you want to continue on with it? (I mean, after seeing the show, I can tell why would want to continue with it). I loved Daniel’s Husband when I first read it last August. It moved me deeply. And it’s been my experience that when that happens whilst reading something that I may or may not even get cast in, I know it’s something really special. Beyond the emotional connection, the play checks all of my boxes: new play (check), great theatre (check), great director (check). Lastly, I thought the arguments for and against marriage equality made in the play were both provocative and grounded in reality.

As for moving the play to The Cherry Lane, I think this simple rule applies: If given a chance to work with Joe Brancato, Ryan Spahn, Lou Liberatore, Leland Wheeler, and Anna Holbrook: YOU SAY YES.

Matthew Montelongo in "Daniel's Husband", Photo Credit: James Leynse3. What do you relate to most about "Mitchell"? What is one characteristic of his, you are glad you don't have? Like "Mitchell," I don’t shy away from sharing my opinions. This is often one of the ways in which people describe themselves (perhaps especially in interviews) that’s more of a humble-brag than an honest criticism. I don’t mean it like that. "Mitchell," and on occasion, I, can get obnoxious when it comes to proving a point. My mother, when I was younger (okay, like yesterday) used to yell "Life is not a debate!" whenever we argued. It can get tiresome, especially when the stakes for every argument are life-and-death. I’ve learned in the many years (cough cough) since being on my high school’s debate team, that some points don’t need to be proven. Like whether gluten allergies are real; or whether it’s better to stand at the front of the C-Train; or if Cargo Shorts are cool. (My answers, by the way, are: I don’t care. Yes. And YES).

4. What do you think is "Mitchell's" greatest strength and weakness? "Mitchell" is brought low in Daniel’s Husband by his fervent opposition to gay marriage, but is buoyed (perhaps even saved) by his equally unyielding love for "Daniel." I admire the strength of his convictions, even if he is almost destroyed by the consequences of having them.

Ryan Spahn and Matthew Montelongo in "Daniel's Husband", Photo Credit: James Leynse5. In Daniel's Husband, "Mitchell" is not pro marriage because he doesn't want to conform to societal standards. When have you been pushed by friends and loved ones to do something that so many others do, but you say, "No, I'm not going to do this and be like everyone else"? I can’t think of a time when I’ve been pushed by my friends and loved ones to do something that I didn’t want to do. I’m not counting, of course, the fact that I refuse, much to the chagrin of my friends and loved ones, to stop wearing Cargo Shorts (see answer to question #3). For the most part, my friends and loved ones are FAR smarter than I am. If they think it’s a good idea, it probably is.

6. Without giving too much of the play away, there is a turn of events that makes "Mitchell" regret his decision not to get married. What is something in your life that you regret not doing or wishing you made a different decision than you did? I regret eating as much as I did for breakfast. Aside from that, I tend to not let myself dwell on past choices. If I make a wrong choice, I try to learn from it. If I’m able to do that, then perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that wrong of a choice. All that being said, I DEEPLY regret what I had for breakfast.

Matthew Montelongo and Leland Wheeler in "Daniel's Husband", Photo Credit: James Leynse7. "Mitchell" is also a fighter in that he really goes after what he wants, both personally and professionally. What is something you haven't done yet or still want to achieve in your personal & professional life? Professionally, I just want to work. More plays, more TV, projects that I like and that also allow me to pay my rent (I know, I’m a dreamer). For what it’s worth, I’ve always wanted to play a corpse on an episodic television show. Can one of your readers make that happen?

Personally, I want to eat well, work out more, be a better friend, son, and partner. But I’ll settle for eating fewer bagels (my weakness) and spending more quality time with my boyfriend (he comes in a very close second to bagels).

8. What are some stories you've heard at the stage door afterwards? I haven’t been privy to many stage door stories. In general, I duck my head and run. But this show moves people, and I VERY MUCH appreciate their willingness to share that with me after the show. I’ve gotten hugs from strangers on my walk home from the theatre, which is lovely. I’ve also been asked, more than once, if I’m related to Ben Affleck, which I take as a compliment (so long as it’s Argo Affleck and not Daredevil Affleck).

9.  I'm just going to put my cards on the table and say, when the play first started, I thought, "Oh great, this is going to be another stereotypical play about a group of gay friends at a dinner party and their lives afterwards." Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. This show has so much depth and deals with some really important issues such as gay marriage, gay rights, what makes a family, & crossing boundaries. It made me think a lot about my life. From starring in this show, how do you feel it has changed the way you look at your life and what you want from it? I have spent a great deal of time in my non-actor life working for marriage equality (I help pay the bills by freelance writing, frequently for LGBTQ nonprofits). Before living in "Mitchell’s" skin eight times a week, I wouldn’t have been able to be in the same room with him – or anyone who so vehemently opposes marriage in general and gay marriage specifically. Now, however, though I still disagree with his opinions, I respect his reasons. And even more so, I respect that his opposition to marriage doesn’t in ANY way compromise his love for "Daniel." Seeing that in "Mitchell," and "living" it every night, has changed the way I interact with others in my non-actor life who don’t share my support of marriage equality or belief in the protections of marriage in general.

Matthew Montelongo, Photo Credit: Manolo DoresteMore on Matthew:

Broadway: A View from the Bridge and The Ritz. Off-Broadway: One Night (Cherry Lane), This Backstage Life (Atlantic), His Daddy (EST), Whore (SPF), God’s Ear (Vineyard Theatre/New Georges), Five Flights (Rattlestick), The Mineola Twins and Arms and the Man (Roundabout), and Tartuffe (NYSF/Public Theatre). Television: Forever, Gossip Girl, Law & Order: SVU (x2). Film: Bear City 3.

Friday
Apr072017

Call Answered: Wyatt Fenner: The War Boys at The Access Theater

Wyatt FennerEver since I interviewed Ben Rimalower for "Call Me Adam," he has gone ahead and referred several of his friends my way! Each one has been a joy to talk to and get to know. That brings me to Wyatt Fenner. Ben suggested Wyatt call and I answered!

Wyatt stars in Naomi Wallace's The War Boys, about three vigilantes, childhood friends, enjoy patrolling the U.S./Mexican border. But these youths soon learn that even the most guarded borders are permeable. When the lines between fantasy and reality become dangerously blurred, these young men are forced to decide what it means to be an American, and who has the right to belong.

The timeliness of this play couldn't be more perfect. I'm thrilled to get to chat with Wyatt as this early stage in his career. It will be great to watch what he does next!

The War Boys plays at The Access Theater in NYC (380 Broadway, 4th Floor) through April 16! Click here for tickets!

For more on The War Boys visit https://www.thewarboysnyc.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Wyatt, follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Stories inspired me to become a performer. When I was little reading with Dad before bed was my favorite part of my day, so I always had a really active imagination. At recess in school I'd lead pretend games; Peter Pan, 101 Dalmatians, The Little Mermaid, anything to get the whole group running around pretending to be seagulls or trolls or whatever - but around third grade, for all of my classmates except for me, recess shifted from being about time for playing pretend to being about everyone playing kickball, and it was like something died for me. When my classmates were so unceremoniously over it with the pretend games I remember being like "Well...what the fuck am I supposed to do with life now.." there was no purpose anymore in my little seven year old existence.

Then shortly thereafter I was at the local library with Mom and we saw a poster for a Children's Theatre production of The Velveteen Rabbit and I realized there was this almost secret society of other kids who liked to play pretend as well and I could go and audition and maybe I'd get to put on some fairytale stories with them. So I went to try out for the company and I got cast as one of the fairies in Sleeping Beauty - then in the next production which was Jack and the Beanstalk I was cast as the cow's bottom, and I just never stopped doing plays because it gave me an opportunity to express what using my imagination to share any kind of stories has always meant to me.

2. You are currently making your NY stage debut in Naomi Wallace's The War Boys. What made you want to be part of this show? When I read the script I realized how timely this play is and I also saw how challenging an opportunity it would be to work on this project so that was really exciting to me. This is a play about three men who are each questioning what it means to be men, to be seen, and to have responsibility in a world where maybe those feelings are eroding for them - and that seems relevant right now.

Sea McHale, Wyatt Fenner, and Gabriel Sloyer in "The War Boys"3. Does the reality of your NY stage debut live up to the fantasy you had in your head? Working on a challenging play like this in my underpants in a tiny theatre four stories above a knock off sneaker factory is as downtown theatre as you can get - and I'm into it.

When I first moved to NY last year I got work right away that took me back out of town. Those jobs were incredible projects with wonderful directors and companies, which I'm really proud of, and grateful to have done, but I knew that to get a foothold here in the city I'd need to begin to turn down opportunities that would take me out of the city and as soon as I made that decision for myself this opportunity came up, so that is exciting, to get to continue to work towards that goal, specifically to get to make cool theatre that people will see and have conversations with one another about in this incredible city. This play is hard work, but everything worth having in life takes hard work and I'm really proud of all that this experience has helped me discover so far. Plus nothing nothing nothing beats riding the train home after a good show. I never knew that specific joy of being an actor in NY before and now I do.

4. What do you relate to most about your character "David"? What is one quality of his you are glad you, yourself don't possess? I relate to "David's" need for friendship and some level of acceptance. I am glad that I resolved my feelings about my own sexuality in a healthy way when I was growing up. "David" had a very different experience regarding his self acceptance - so I'm glad I don't share that with him.

Wyatt Fenner as "David" in "The War Boys"5. Your character literally gets stripped down in this show, all the way to his underwear. When you found out you were going to have to perform in your underwear, what are some thoughts that went through your head? What is it like to be so exposed to an audience like this night after night? As a person there is a lot that scares me but as an actor there isn't much that I'm afraid of doing. I've been entirely naked on stage several times before and as long as it makes sense for the story I believe in going there. It takes a lot to expose yourself night after night like we do in the play - clothes on or off, but I commit to it and go there every night. Otherwise, what's the point?

6. Part of the shows description is "Even the most guarded borders are permeable." What is something that you have kept guarded, but realize it's time to let the world in on it? That is a tough one, because I am really open as a person. I can understand people who have the inclination to hold things back because we all do that to different degrees day to day but what this play celebrates is allowing oneself to really strip down and be exposed - literally in my case - which is a rare and worthwhile experience for everyone to have, even if it's just for one night in the theatre.

7. The show also asks what it means to be an American. What does it mean to you, to be an American? I have such a hard time with how "us" and "them" the world is right now. We are all people. Countries, genders, religions, I suppose all of these labels can be useful but we've created them ourselves and in a lot of cases they do more harm than good. What matters so much more than what team you root for or where you go to the bathroom is what is in your heart. As a person what is most important to me is that other people feel some sense of happiness or brightness when they've encountered me and that somehow I can make even a simple difference for others in that regard. Smiling, helping the lady with the stroller up the stairs, being kind is what matters most because, no matter how bad your day is, if you lead with kindness you will feel better for it - and so will the people around you - even if you never see them again.

Sea McHale and Wyatt Fenner in "The War Boys"8. The timeliness of the show couldn't be more perfect with that wall that man wants to build. What are some stories you've heard from audience members about the show? Everyone's experience of the play is completely different! It is so cool because this type of theatre really operates like a dreamscape. The play is relentless and bizarre and irreverent and it doesn't allow for a lazy audience. People who come to see what we are doing down here have to make several of their own connections as far as why certain turns occur in the play, what that means to them individually - but everything we do has integrity - so if the audience sticks with us they get a good full meal of ideas, images, and questions to take home with them.

9. The story blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. When has there been a time in your life when you walked that fine line between what was real and what you had imagined? I don't think I've ever confused the two things.

10. Let's play with the show's title a bit, The War Boys. What is one war you feel you are fighting right now? I think we are all always looking for kindness and connection with one another. Right now people seem much less willing to connect outside of our screens and little hand held internets and I think I'm always looking for opportunities to actually connect - eye to eye and face to face - with other people. Being new to the city and discovering who is going to be a part of my tribe is exciting and challenging. The efforts continue to pay off so I'm happy to keep on that road.

More on Wyatt:

NY Debut. Recent Regional Theatre: Michael Kahn's production of Cloud 9 (Studio Theatre), Darko Tresnjak's production of Romeo and Juliet (Hartford Stage), Moisés Kaufman's production of Bent (Mark Taper Forum), as well as the West Coast Premiers of Dog Sees GodThe WhaleNext Fall, Rest, and Slipping. Television: BonesVeronica Mars.

Monday
Mar062017

Call Answered: Brad Zimmerman: My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy at Bucks County Playhouse

Brad ZimmermanI first heard about Brad Zimmerman's show My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy when it had it's New York run here in 2014, but never got to see it. I'm so grateful for second chances because when I called, Brad answered. My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy is the hilarious and inspiring story about the grit & passion it takes to "make it" as an artist & the sweet rewards that come from never giving up! If you ever longed for something, if you ever desired it with all your heart, if you were willing to wait tables for 29 years to pursue your dream then My Son The Waiter will give meaning to your life!

My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy will be heading to Bucks County Playhouse from March 23-April 9. Click here for tickets!

For more on My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy be sure to visit http://www.mysonthewaiter.com and follow the show on Facebook and Instagram!

For more on Bucks County Playhouse visit http://bcptheater.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This spring you are bringing your one-man show My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy to Bucks County Playhouse. What made now the right time to go back on tour with this show? I began the tour in 2014 in Phoenix. I think that with a few exceptions the show has really resonated both artistically and financially all over the country. The experience of doing it in a theatre rich area of the country one hour and 30 minutes from where I live is sublime. There is really no wrong time to do a tour of a show like this that is real, authentic and very very funny...it has a message that if you are willing to pay a price, and believe me, I have, that life can be extremely rewarding and meaningful. That is how I now feel about my life so I'm sharing that knowledge with audiences all over the country. And its universal...not just for Jews..but for anyone who wants to find purpose or desires to lead a rich life.

2. What are you looking forward to most about performing it at Bucks County Playhouse? I love the area of Bucks County...I grew up in New Jersey so Bucks County is just across the river. It is rich in both culture and the town is so artsy and beautiful and the theatre is legendary. I know I'll be taken care of by the wonderful people who really know what I need...that makes me feel in really good hands..wow!!! And I love the Northeast more than anything. I have so many people who I know in Jersey and Philadelphia who want to see it, some of whom I went to camp with in the Poconos so it should be a sublime expereince...all I need is a Starbucks, a gym and a nice Jewish lady who enjoys loaning money.

Brad Zimmerman in "My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy"3. My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy is your hilarious and inspiring story about the grit and passion required to 'make it' as an artist and the sweet rewards that come from never giving up on your dream. When did you realize you had a story that could be told in a show format? In 2005 I was approached by a friend who said he would produce a one person show should I ever have the desire. So I began work on the show in 2005. Its been an evolution...I didnt know right away that my story would resonate for so many people...I think my growth as an artist combined with my realization along this journey that my life was devoted to mastering a craft made me over the years feel like the story could resonate for so many people who have not found themselves...have not found what they were meant to do. That is the hardest thing in life, to find what you were born to do...if you have a little determination and are willing to really commit to getting the most out of your ability, the rewards can be truly remarkable and I'm not talking about financially. I'm talking about success on a much deeper level...which is the best kind of success...so I think it wasnt until a year ago, after working on the show for a decade or more, that I became aware in part due to the audiences response that I had a show that really inspired people and made them think and in some cases to reassess their own lives (break).

Brad Zimmerman in "My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy"4. In creating this show, what did you learn about yourself that you didn't realize living through it? The answer to this question is somewhat similar to question three. I learned that practice does make perfect...I never improved in sports and I was a truly great athlete, but I never improved because I never practiced...I took up acting and I wasn't nearly as gifted at acting as I was at hitting a baseball...but the challenge of trying to get great obviously had meaning for me...as my therapist once said to me. "You have only been inspired by the best. You have never been inspired by competence." Truer words were never spoken. I also learned that I love connecting...that is everything in art...really making the attempt to connect with the audience...to really talk TO THEM...I also learned that each human being is possessed of genius...in so many ways...we just have to be willing to pay the price to tap into it...(paycheck)

5. You spent 29 years waiting tables while pursuing your dream of becoming an actor. How many times during those 29 years did you consider giving up? What kept you going each time? What ultimately kept me going more than anything was that underneath the self doubt and the lack of confidence and the fear of failure which served to literally paralyze me for many years, I had a small little voice that told me, "YOU HAVE SOMETHING." At the time, my feeling was the something I had, was in the comedic arena so I think I needed to stick with it to find out if I was right...and I was...yeah me!!!

Brad Zimmerman in "My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy"6. During the run of this show, when did you realize you had something that would allow you to quit waitering? Then, what did that moment feel like? I was waiting tables until 2007...had to return five years later becuase I could not afford a haircut...three months later my ex-manager got me a three-week run of the show in Coral Springs, Florida and the show was extended four months. My producers Dana Matthow and Philip Roy flew down and after seeing the show offered to buy the touring rights to my show...I'm not certain but one of them wanted to buy the show and one of them didn't...so they asked me to cast the deciding vote. Haha...they gave me an advance and I have had a savings account ever since...yeah!!!

7. You been working on My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy since 2005. How do you keep the show fresh? Keeping the show fresh is the hardest thing I have ever done next to killing a deer...only because I keep missing...my mind wanders many times and the key is that the audience can't know that. For instance I could be talking about my father and at the same time thinking about what flavor ice cream to get that night...but if I wander I have to remind myself to connect...that is the key. When you have done a show as much as much as I have it's natural to have the mind wander.

Brad Zimmerman in "My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy"8. What has been some memorable "missed moments" during the runs of the show? Missed moments : When you expect a loud laugh and you get silence...that is a moment that can really test your composure. I have to adlib something...I try to say something that might get a laugh, like "they didn't get that in Alabama either."

9. As a comedian, you got to open for two of my all time favorite comics: Joan Rivers and George Carlin. How did you get to be their opening acts? What did you learn from working with them? What is one funny story about your interaction with each comedian you can share with us? Opening for Joan and Georgre was an honor...both were the most professional of professionals...Rolling Stone Magazine just came out with the list of top 10 comedians of all time and they were both in top 10. I think Georgre was 2. So to say that I worked with both of them, wow. By the way, I was number 2,000,346,900,111.

10. Since you were a waiter for 29 years, did you wait on any celebrities? If so, who? What are your top five favorite things to order when you go out to eat or drink? Celebrtities I waited on: Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore. Julianne Moore, Glenn Close, Chris Noth, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dustin Hoffman, Ron Howard.

Five favorite things to order when I go out: a great steak, veal parmesian, warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream, bagel and nova, carrots!!!!!!!!!

Brad ZimmermanMore on Brad:

Brad Zimmerman is a very unique and original voice in the world of comedy. Watch a few minutes of his comedy and you will know you have never seen anything like Brad. He works all over the country, doing theatres, comedy clubs, casino’s, country clubs, comedy festivals, JCC’s. I mean, you name it, he’s done it. He has worked with many well known comedians and entertainers such as Brad Garrett, Dennis Miller, Susie Essman, Julio Inglesias, and was Joan Rivers’ opening act of choice for over seven years. In fact Joan had said "I’ve had three great opening acts in my lifetime: Billy Crystal, Garry Shandling, and Brad Zimmerman." In the year 2006, Brad had the great honor of opening for George Carlin, and that relationship lasted until George passed away in 2008. The first time Brad opened for George, at the Paramount Theatre, just outside Chicago, right after finishing his act, George approached Brad backstage, and said, as only George could have said, "f**kin great!"

Brad combines years of acting training and standup, which is evident in Brad’s true pride and joy; his one man show. It is called MY SON THE WAITER, A JEWISH TRAGEDY, and he has been working on it since 2005. In this part standup/part theatrical piece Brad tells a story of one man’s lengthy, and we do mean lengthy struggle to make it as an actor in New York. His send-ups on his childhood, his family, his misbegotten love life, and his career are as warm and poignant as they are hysterical. He has done the show all over the country. In addition to this show, Brad has done work in both television and film, most notably playing Johnny Sack’s lawyer in one of the best television shows of all time: THE SOPRANOS.

Tuesday
Feb282017

Call Answered: Matt Cox: PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic

Matt CoxI've never read nore seen a Harry Potter book/movie, but I'm a big fan of magic/fantasy and am very intrigued by the Harry Potter phenomenon we live among. When I heard about Matt Cox's show PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic (which has recently been extended until June), I cast a spell for him to answer my call and voila, this interview ensued.

Some people are born with the capacity to do great things. Some people change the world. Some people rise from humble beginnings to defeat the forces of darkness in the face of insurmountable odds. PUFFS or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic is the story of the people who sit in class next to those people.

PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic plays in the heart of NYC's theatre district at the Elektra Theater (300 West 43rd Street) every Friday (7:30pm), Saturday (3pm & 9:30pm) & Sunday (3pm) through June 25th! Click here for tickets!

For more on Matt be sure to visit http://www.mattcoxland.com and follow him on Twitter!

For more on PUFFS visit http://www.puffstheplay.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Your show, PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic moved to the Elektra Theater after a triumphant, sold-out run at The PIT last summer. What excites you most about moving this show to the Elektra Theatre, located in the heart of midtown? So, a bit further removed from that now, but the most exciting thing that has certainly happened is that our reach to new audience members has been much larger. Not only just due to more seating, but with a midtown location, we're a bit more likely to be stumbled upon which is great!

Along with that, we have been able to dedicate a bit more of the space to the show, including some decor in the theater itself (we've got some floating candles!) and the lobby, which we've decorated with various posters for other wizard themed shows.

2. What did you learn from the run at The PIT that helped inform this bigger run? I will be forever grateful for the run of the show at The PIT, and the many things we learned. We also did a workshop at the University of Florida back in May of 2016, as well, which was very helpful to the story. At the PIT, I was able to make changes from show to show just to try new ideas out/figure out better ways of doing what we were already doing.

It left us with a script with humor that had so many different versions tried that I believe we have the best possible versions in the current iteration. And it was just a lot of fun, and has kept the show fun.

Puffs also has a certain playfulness when it is at it's best, which was definitely something that was developed running at the PIT.

Cast of PUFFS, Photo Credit: Hunter CanningCast of PUFFS, Photo Credit: Hunter Canning3. PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic, is alternate narrative of the Harry Potter series so to speak. What was it about the Harry Potter that made you go, "I want to write my own version of this series?" What did you identify most with about the Harry Potter saga? I was of the lucky age of people that ended up growing up alongside the books, and alongside Harry. So, the characters continued to stay relevant throughout my adolescence. It was also just very influential to my developing love of storytelling.

The idea for Puffs manifested while I was on a train, and it was more of a: Wow! It really would have been terrible to be another kid at that school during those seven years. Then it was a quick skip to the idea that the story would focus on "The Puffs," who pop culture has always deemed the not so great house. (Less so in recent years, which is great!) I had to look it up immediately, and was surprised no one had done it, and figured I should go ahead and do it.

4. When did you become interested in magic? What was it about magic that drew you in? I have always been a fan of Fantasy books, movies, and whatnot, so that kind of magic has always been very interesting/magical to me. I don't have a particularly deep interest in magic-magic but if someone is very good at it, then I am certainly impressed.

Cast of PUFFS, Photo Credit: Hunter CanningCast of PUFFS, Photo Credit: Hunter Canning5. In PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic, "some people are born with the capacity to do great things. Some people change the world. Some people rise from humble beginnings to defeat the forces of darkness in the face of insurmountable odds. PUFFS is the story of the people who sit in class next to those people." If you could name people or events in your life that describe each of these scenarios, who or what would be assigned to each phrase? The idea is that that pretty much applies to almost everybody. The crux of the play is that ultimately, most of us don't get to be the "Harry's" in life. But there's something to celebrate about the heroic victories of normal existence. So we are all the people who sit next to those people in the grand scheme of it.

6. As the writer of this show, did you grow up feeling as though you were living in other people's shadows never shining for yourself? If so, when did you shine your own spotlight? I definitely put some of my own school experiences into the show, as I was definitely not one of the "cool" kids growing up. Not sure when that stopped, I think I just stopped necessarily caring too much about it, and focused more on the things I enjoyed.

Cast of PUFFS, Photo Credit: Hunter CanningCast of PUFFS, Photo Credit: Hunter Canning7. Which Harry Potter character best describes you? I believe we all should strive for the wisdom of "The Headmaster." So I'd hope him. "Ms. Granger" is another good one.

8. If you could cast a spell today, what spell would you conjure up? Like most people, I can only assume, it would be the spell that turns stairs into slides.

9. Aside from Harry Potter characters, who are some of your other favorite magicians from stage or screen? I'll always be a Gandalf man. (Not a conjurer of cheap tricks).

Matt CoxMore on Matt:

Matt Cox is a New York City-based playwright, actor, improviser, sometimes comic book retail associate, and probably/maybe one day, novelist. His plays include Puffs Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years At A Certain School Of Magic & MagicAdult Mutant Ninja TurtlesThe Madness of Captain Dread, and the 3-part epic Kapow-i GoGo. He authored the radio play El Hombre Bovino for WNYC’s The Greene Space, and contributed to The Flea Theater’s The Mysteries. His work has been produced at The Peoples Improv Theater, The Tank, and The Flea Theater, among other places. His acting credits include: Kapow-i GoGo (The PIT), Blogologues (Lively Productions), The Mysteries (Flea Theater), Sarah Flood in Salem Mass (Flea Theater), and Restoration Comedy (Flea Theater). Matt has studied at The Upright Citizens Brigade, The Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and Tarleton State University.

Saturday
Feb252017

Call Answered: Lexie Braverman: Dark Vanilla Jungle

Lexie Braverman, Photo Credit: Leslie Hassler PhotographyA few years ago I interviewed Laura Abbott about her play I Am Not I, chronicling the story of a girl struggling with gender dysphoria. When Laura gushed about a show her friend Lexie Braverman was starring in called Dark Vanilla Jungle, my ears perked up and I knew I wanted to delve deep into this story.

Dark Vanilla Jungle is about a young girl just trying to stay alive amidst an act of violence that alters her existence and everyone she touches. "Andrea's" yearning for love and a family takes her to the darkest of places and she just wants to tell you the truth, will you listen?

Presented by Brave Artist CollectiveDark Vanilla Jungle will play a limited run at The Flamboyan Theater at The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center (107 Suffolk Street) from March 14-26. Click here for tickets!

For more on Lexie be sure to visit http://lexiebraverman.com and follow her on Twitter!

For more on Dark Vanilla Jungle visit http://darkvanillajunglenyc.com and follow them on Facebook!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My mom. She introduced me to Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Spencer Tracey, Vivian Leigh, and Maximillion Schell, Hamlet, Ordinary People, you name it. I know I love the arts in every way because of her. Also -- I auditioned to be the "Cowardly Lion" in the Wizard of Oz and that was my first role when I was 11. I have wanted to act ever since. My dad also bought me a tool belt when I was about four, and I put on a show fixing everything in the kitchen and my dad taped it all. I felt completely myself and comfortable in front of other people, way more than I did being alone.

2. This March you will be making your NYC debut in Dark Vanilla Jungle, a show you starred in this past summer in London's Camden Fringe Festival. What excites you most about making your NYC acting debut in this show? I am the most excited to be in NYC because it is exactly that, New York City. Also I'll be able to reach a wider audience. This play is something special. It's raw, gruesome, beautiful, and tragic. I think more people should get to see it, especially with a fear-mongering sexual predator in the White House.

3. Why did you want to be in this show initially? This play is something people are afraid to talk about or see. I wanted to show people that "Andrea's" story needs to be told and not silenced. Also, I had never been in a one-woman show before and I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to challenge myself mentally and physically, which this play does, it's like running a damn marathon.

Lexie Braverman in "Dark Vanilla Jungle", Photo Credit: Tiphaine Betscher4. What do you relate to most about your character "Andrea" and what is one characteristic of hers you are glad you don't possess? I relate mostly to her child-like innocence and naivety. She reverts back to being this kid because it's the only time in her life she really felt like she knew who she was. It's easier then to let other people take care of you, and you over-trust unskilled people to watch out for you. One characteristic of hers that I do not have is "Andrea's" suffering. I thank God every day I do not have that in my life. It's become a part of her and you can see how it leaches on to every aspect of her life.

5. Since this summer's run, do you feel your portrayal of "Andrea" will be altered in anyway, now that you have lived in her skin for a time? You know what I do. I don't think it'll be drastically different but I definitely think it will be more at ease and I'll be more comfortable. That piece stays with you, but it's in a drawer you only open when you need it. It's very tough and intense, so you need to be careful or you'll be overwhelmed. I'll be working with a new director who is brilliant and beautiful. Sybille Bruun, and I cannot wait to see what she helps us find.

Lexie Braverman in "Dark Vanilla Jungle", Photo Credit: Tiphaine Betscher6. Dark Vanilla Jungle is about a young girl just trying to stay alive amidst an act of violence that alters her existence and everyone she touches. What is an event in your life that altered your existence? An event that altered my existence was finding out about my parents' divorce from my sister over a Skype conversation (because I was in grad school in England at the time). She was so far away, and so clear on my computer screen at the same time. It was a nightmare and completely out of the blue. I remember going right to the window because I couldn't breathe and I leaned out and just tried to suck in as much air as I could. A lot changed for me after that.

7. In Dark Vanilla Jungle Andreas yearning for love and a family takes her to the darkest of places and she just wants to tell you the truth. What is the darkest place you've ever gone to and how did you get back to the light? Yikes! Darkest I've ever personally gone to? I'm afraid I can't answer that one. Unless I can pay you by the hour, I'm afraid that answer is for my therapist and her therapy dog. I can say that I've played characters that torture, kill, and poison for love and I've found good reasons (as those characters) to do all those things. When I'm on stage, everything is justified for me, no matter what. It's not that simple in real life.

Lexie Braverman, Photo Credit: Leslie Hassler Photography8. Vanilla is my favorite flavor in the world. Vanilla coke, vanilla coffee, vanilla tea, vanilla anything is just delicious. What is your favorite thing to add vanilla too? YUM Cinnamon. I love mixing vanilla with cinnamon specifically in coffee. Heaven for sure. One of my favorite spices and also my best friend's name.

9. Dark Vanilla Jungle is being presented by the Brave Artist Collective, which you helped co-found. What do you get from running this theatre company as opposed to just being an actress? It's nuts. I never thought I would be on that side of the coin. We are just getting started, this being our NYC debut season of Dark Vanilla and my dear co-founder's play Junebug (also running at the Flamboyan--shameless plug!). It is insanely hard and my production hat, although brand new, is already taking a bit of a beating. There is so much responsibility and you feel like everything that goes wrong is your fault. What I've realized though is that I cannot do this alone. As an actor and now a co-founder, I must surround myself with people that I love and support and they love and support me right back. Being an actress is hard enough, why do I do this to myself? Same reason I get rejected all the time, because I can't get enough.

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? That's so awesome! I want to improve my self-talk one percent better every day. I'm reading Amy Poehler's book Yes Please currently and I already adore it. She talks about the little demon voice inside of you that says you're not thin enough, or you're too Jewish, or your hair would look way better straight, or you're not funny enough and that you will always have that voice but you have to work on talking to it, calming it down, and controlling it. My self-talk, my own head, I would love to improve that each day. Once I stop caring what other people think I'll be able to conquer the world. First I have to destroy this little demon though, then I'll work on everyone else.

Lexie Braverman, Photo Credit: Samantha Leonetti PhotographyMore on Lexie:

Lexie Braverman is a critically acclaimed actor born and raised in Philadelphia. Classically trained in Shakespeare, she has performed theatrically everywhere from London to Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Ithaca College and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Her first role was the "Cowardly Lion" at day-camp in the Wizard of Oz when she was 11, because her hair was so big and her voice was so low. She went on to graduate from Ithaca College, performing in fantastically reviewed Underground productions like Boys’ Life by Harold Korder and Fat Pig by Neil Lebute. After graduating with her BA, she found her love of Shakespeare and Chekhov when she attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s MA program overseas. After graduating from the Old Vic, she was lucky enough to work with the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater, the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, and the American Shakespeare Center. She recently finished the 2016 Actors’ Renaissance season at the American Shakespeare Center performing five plays, in three months, with 12 actors, and no directors. That season changed her life.

In her off time Lexie volunteers at dog shelters and helps socialize them. She is also a movie quoting expert, no one can out quote her.