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Entries in Singer (163)

Thursday
Apr202017

Call Answered: Rising actor Will Van Moss

Will Van MossFor most of my interviews, I Call and the artist answers. Every now and then the roles get reversed and an artist calls me and I Answer. That was the case with Will Van Moss. He was looking to get some exposure for his acting and one of his teachers Bobby Cronin recommended he write me to see if we could do an interview. Well, whenever Bobby Cronin calls, I ANSWER because Bobby is the best (I mean after all he wrote my incredible "Call Me Adam" theme song!) I am so thrilled to get to speak with Will about his acting career so early on!

For more on Will be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? No one personally inspired me to become a performer. I kind of just fell into it and had a natural tendency towards being one. Neither of my parents are artsy people nor was anyone in my family busy making art when I was young. I just remember putting on these little shows with my sisters, from time to time when we were kids. I also loved singing a lot when I was a child and my parents pushed for a musical education, so it became logical to join a choir at the age of seven or eight. Two years into being part of this regional choir, my mom encouraged me to audition for the children’s choir of the National Flemish Opera. I got accepted, singing "This Little Light of Mine" funnily enough. Through the opera I then developed a passion for the theatrical. I just loved acting out scenes and singing on that humongous stage (it seemed so big at the time at least). I always enjoyed watching movies too, which I can now see has pushed me to do more on-camera work more recently.

I have several idols that I look up to though. Actors such as Meryl Streep, Neil Patrick Harris, Dame Judi Dench, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Anne Hathaway, Kevin Spacey, Wes Bently and more recently such incredibly strong performers as Viola Davis, Tom Hiddleston, Sarah Paulson and Jake Gyllenhaal (just to name a few) have inspired me to become more open in my acting and dig deep into the character to give a performance that captivates the audience and pulls them into the story. Singing-wise such phenomenal performers like Jeremy Jordan, Norm Lewis, Tony Yazbeck and Andy Karl are the ones I inspire to be on the same level with at some point.

Will Van Moss, Photo Credit: Seth Hale Photography2. You have performed across a variety of genres: film, television, and theatre. What do you like about each medium? What challenges do they possess for you? Each genre has its own challenges and advantages. Most of all I just like acting alongside other people and telling a story that isn’t truly mine, but I get to live nonetheless to the fullest of my capabilities and make my own.

What I like about on-camera work is how spontaneous some of the scenes can be. You have a small rehearsal ahead of the shooting, but then most of it is about being in the moment with your scene partner. Some people say that the challenge for TV and film is waiting in a separate room or trailer before shooting a scene. Though I can agree with that statement some times, mostly I am not too bothered with it. I haven’t had to shoot a scene more than 50 times though, which I heard from other actors and directors around me can be a pain in the butt. So, maybe that will be something of a challenge, if it happens to me as I progress in my career.

As for theatre, I love almost everything about it. The interaction with the audience who are like another (silent) scene partner, the thrill of doing a live performance and the raw feelings you share with your scene partners are all so enticing. If anything goes wrong with a stage performance you have to be quick on your feet to try and fix it and bring it back to where it’s supposed to be going. That can be a challenge, but it’s an exiting one nonetheless.

Will Van Moss3. You were born in Belgium, but when you were a teenager your family moved to Italy where you fell in love with Shakespeare and Musical Theatre, specially Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray. What was it about Shakespeare that made you go, "Yes, this is what I love?" What did you relate to most about Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray? The first time I was in contact with Shakespeare I was a little boy singing in the National Flemish Opera performing the first-ever operatic production of Richard III. I didn’t think too much of it. At that point in my young career I just did what I was asked to do and sang my lines with much gusto. Then at the age of 14 I had moved to Italy where I had to read Macbeth for my English Lit class. Shakespeare just took me in straight away; the man has a knack for captivating me and dragging me into another world through his luxurious words and enchanting poetry. I quickly read a bunch of his other plays (Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest) and I was hooked. Soon after this I started performing in Shakespeare pieces with a theatre company and became completely spellbound; getting to put actions and movement to the scenes made all his pieces spring to life from the paper and ink. From then on I knew I was going to love performing Shakespeare forever.

For musical theatre it was indeed Hairspray that hooked me, as well as watching Little Shop of Horrors and The Phantom of the Opera. Hairspray had such a strong message of unity in diversity and it tells a story of the civil rights movement that we must never forget. Seeing the cast dance, sing and act out scenes while making such an important and powerful message come across blew me away. I wanted to do what they were capable of doing.

For Little Shop of Horrors it was mostly just the entertaining aspect and the style that drew me in, but also the message that comes with it; "If you keep feeding something that isn’t good for you or the people around you, things will go drastically wrong." I knew I wanted to perform in musicals thanks to these movies, but sadly at the age I discovered them my voice was changing so much that I sounded like a drowning sea lion when I tried to sing. You can imagine how traumatic that is for a teenager who had sung in Tosca less than a year earlier. Ultimately my voice only settled when I had just finished high school and that’s when musical theatre came storming into my life.

Will Van Moss4. Then at 18 you moved to London to pursue a degree in science and continue acting. Then you moved to NYC for film and musical theatre acting. First question is how do you feel all this moving around has shaped you and made you a better actor? Secondly, did you finish your science degree? If so, what do you love about science? If not, why did acting win out? Moving to different countries has made me a more open human being and actor I like to believe. You enter a new environment and a new type of society where dynamics are different every time you move somewhere new. This has made it easier to be open and accept new things, but it also has made me more adaptable. I developed one thing I hate though from hanging with different people and moving around; prejudice people. I have lived with different types of people from different nationalities, and through it all they taught me that the most important thing to live together is to be kind and considerate and that you should always be the understanding, curious and kind version of yourself who doesn’t care too much what people, other than the ones that are rooting for you, think. It isn’t that hard to be all this when you open yourself up to new experiences and environments.

As for my science degree, I did finish it; in three years nonetheless. My parents made me get a "real" degree, before they would allow me to go into acting. Luckily for me, I was studying in London and there was plenty of theatre to take part in while working on my degree. I eventually finished my BSC in Infection and Immunology in 2014.

I still love science though. I regularly read up on new discoveries in all scientific fields. I am a curious guy and I know science is the only thing that gives us the ultimate truth; one that is verifiable and repeatable. It is so important to have science in our lives. Especially these days when people just slur out their opinion and think we should all accept it, without providing real evidence. There’s one thing about science that I don’t like and that was doing it myself. I didn’t have the patience and desire to sit in a lab all day. I like to be more dynamic and like to express myself too much to work silently in a lab refreshing the medium of some cell cultures (that was most of the time I spent working on my final year project…). But throughout all this, I learned to always back up my claims with evidence!

Eventually acting just won out, because it was the constant in my life that I enjoyed the most. It is all about storytelling and educating people about someone else’s life (giving them a different point of view), which is what I like doing most and feel most comfortable doing.

Will Van Moss in the recording studio5. While in NYC, you have studied with some of people I admire very much (and have all been participants on "Call Me Adam"), Bobby Cronin, Deidre Goodwin, Mark Price, and Erik Liberman (Erik has not been featured YET on "Call Me Adam," but we did perform together in Billy Mitchell's "Villain: DeBlanks" in 2016). What is one thing you learned from each of them that you will carry with you? I very much admire all four of these people. What is great about them is that they are all very passionate about their art, work hard for it and still are so very kind and human. Also once you get a chance to watch them perform, it is a magical experience!

For example, seeing Bobby Cronin behind his piano in a concert performing one of his songs is breathtaking! I will always retain a few important things from him. I actually have some of his quotes stored on my phone: "You are your own cheerleader," "Always keep learning and give it your best," "Keep pushing yourself and challenging yourself" and one of my favorites "Focus on the positive, even in a negative situation."

For Deidre Goodwin, I just love watching her do anything. She’s beauty, she’s grace and she is such a fierce woman. It’s empowering watching her do anything from acting in a movie, to seeing her dance in A Chorus Line and even directing one of the short films I was in. She’s focused and kind but can goof around and still always get things done when the time calls for it. I’ll always retain from her to keep fighting for what I want and keep practicing my art, no matter what.

Mark Price is in my top three of acting coaches I’ve worked with. He encourages me to stay curious, stay in the moment and dig deep into a character to truly embody whoever I need to play with help of my own experiences. He is also one of the coolest, most relaxed and kindest people I know.

Finally, Erik Liberman is a teacher who was capable of making me cry throughout more than half of a three-hour long class. He enabled me to push out something that was holding me back from letting go and just feel to the fullest; to be an artist. I cannot thank him enough for that. It was a semi-traumatic experience, but it has changed me for life in a good way. He is also one of the kindest humans I know, is so involved in the arts community and incredibly passionate about whatever he does. Getting to watch him shine on Broadway in War Paint was an experience I will never forget. He just knows how to portray a character in depth, while still putting in some bits and pieces of himself, the way that only great actors can do.

As you can see, all these people have in common that they are kind and are passionate about their art. I inspire so much to be like them!

6. Let's talk about one of your films, The Ghosts of Ethan Dean. First off, what made you want to be part of this short film? I got to work with the director, Chad Larabee, before when we worked on Chess at the John Cullum Theatre. He is a hard working, talented and lovable man who deeply cares about his projects and is intensely involved in them. Having that previous work experience with him and knowing how he is as a director and human being, really made me want to work with him again. When I was presented with the story, I immediately became intrigued. It’s all about mental health after a traumatic experience and feeling stuck because of it. This was a story I deeply wanted to tell alongside all the other incredible actors in our cast.

7. The Ghosts of Ethan Dean is about a young artist who battles the ghosts of his past. While you don't play the artist in the movie, what is a ghost from your past that you still battle? I didn’t get to play the young artist, indeed, but got to be another lead in the film instead; his boyfriend, "Kyle."

I don’t get "haunted" by ghosts from my past, like "Ethan" does in the film, but I would be ignorant to say that the past has no effect on me. Things that have happened before constantly affect us. Just look at what is happening in the Middle East right now for example. I don’t think I really "battle" with things from my past though. Instead I prefer to let them have an effect on me and deal with possible problems in the moment. I have done things I regret in the past and deal with the consequences when they present themselves, rather than pretending things never happened. One thing I do regret though is not pushing to have done more musical theatre when I was going through my awkward teenage years, but then again, I might have become a completely different person if I had.

Will Van Moss8. On your Instagram, your tag line is "Will Van Moss NYC trilingual Actor, Singer, Model from Europe Spreading kindness, art, beauty and knowledge!" How are you spreading kindness and knowledge? Are people catching what you are spreading? To me kindness and knowledge are the most important things for people to live together in a well-functioning society. These two things are also crucial for any kind of artist. You have got to stay informed and stay kind, no matter what you do! There is no excuse for ignorance in the age of the internet!

I always hope, while being entertained, that my audience becomes a little kinder and a little more understanding of other people’s lives or their own by the end of a show or film I was performed in. I hope that the stories I tell through my art make them a better, more curious and compassionate person.

9. What is something in your career you hope to accomplish? (then I will hold you to looking back at this interview after you achieve it to remind you that you put it out there so early on). I will say something I said in another interview I have recently done and that is that winning or even just being nominated for a Tony Award or Drama Desk Award for acting in a play on Broadway will be the point for me where I know I have reached all of my dreams. Of course I won’t say no to getting an Academy Award or Emmy (or being nominated for it). Those will also very much do, but there is something about getting an approval that you are doing a great job in live theatre that is the cherry on top of every actor’s pie, I believe. Most of all though I think what I truly want to accomplish most is being successful (making a living and a good name for myself) in doing what I love, acting alongside great actors and working with phenomenal, passionate creative teams and crews.

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I actually have a list of priorities on my wall that I try to commit to every day. One of them like you is getting fitter and bulk up, which is slowly but surely improving, though I would like to push a little harder on that. Every day as well I try to improve my acting by reading a play, doing a monologue (or learning a new one I found) or by watching some outstanding acting on a series or movie as well as trying to improve my singing. All in all there is something I try to commit to every single day to improve my life and to get me where I want to be.

Every day, one percent better than the day before.

Will Van Moss, Photo Credit: Lucid VOFMore on Will:

Will Van Moss is an upcoming Belgian actor living in New York. He aspires to be able to make a living doing what he loves to do most; acting. Will has performed in a large variety of shows in Europe and the States and hopes to be able to keep working in this incredible country.

Will started performing at a young age in the children’s choir of the Flemish Opera doing such grand productions as Carmen, Rinaldo, and the first ever production of Richard III. In the middle of his teenage years he moved to Italy with his family where he finally discovered theatre and musicals. Will soon became hooked on Shakespeare and musicals such as Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray. He performed in The Benvenuto Theater Company in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Aladdin the Pantomime and A Dog’s Life.

At the age of 18, Will moved to London to pursue a degree in science while also broadening further his horizons in the acting world. He played in Guys and Dolls, Romeo & Juliet, A Chorus Line, Footloose and two spectacular dance shows in college. He also performed critical roles in semi-professional shows such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Avenue House and Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013, which was highly rated by all critics who saw the show!

Will then moved to New York to study musical theatre and acting on camera. Here he performed in such shows as Chess and Carousel, the later in which he was one of the leading characters; "Jigger." Will also developed an enormous passion for acting on camera and ever since he has been the lead in two independent films already over his two years living in New York. Both films, The Ghosts of Ethan Dean and DECEPTUS will soon hit some film festivals in the United States. 

Will recently performed in two theater pieces as well; Kiss it, Make it Better a piece created by upcoming writer/director Erika Phoebus and Revel’s End: A Tempest Dance Party, in which he played the lead, "Ferdinand." Will is currently working on an incredibly thrilling short web series, Psychadelic, as one of the lead characters and hopes to continue to progress in this business here in the United States where he can pursue his passion to the fullest.

Wednesday
Apr122017

Call Redialed: NEW Facetime interview: Migguel Anggelo: "So Close: Love & Hate" at Joe's Pub

"Call Me Adam" and Migguel Anggelo at The Algonquin HotelLive from The Algonquin Hotel, "Call Me Adam" catches up with singer/songwriter/actor Migguel Anggelo about his return to Joe's Pub (425 Lafayette Street) with his new one-man show So Close: Love & Hate, directed by Obie Award Winner David Drake on May 23 & 24 at 7pm.

Here, we discuss love, hate, and how this country can stand united instead of divided. In So Close: Love & Hate, Migguel Anggelo addresses divisiveness, humanity and hope through a rich song cycle including an array of brand new compositions punctuated by Latin classics, American standards, Broadway, opera, and Bjork. Click here for tickets!

For more on Migguel be sure to visit http://migguelanggelo.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

For more on Joe's Pub visit https://joespub.publictheater.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

"Call Me Adam's" NEW interview with Migguel Anggelo:

Monday
Apr032017

Call Answered: Sally Schwab: Adventures in Babysitting, The Marvelous Wonderettes, NEWSical The Musical

Sally SchwabFor over 10 years I have been a fan of Sally Schwab. Ever since I saw her star in Tom D'Angora's (Call Me Adam's very first participant) A Broadway Diva Christmas, I was hooked on her glorious vocals! She has repeatedly won me over and over again every time I see her sing.

In addition to being a high school history teacher, starring in the Off-Broadway revival of The Marvelous Wonderettes and being a swing in the long-running hit musical NEWSical the Musical, Sally is bringing back her one woman show Adventures in Babysitting for three performances only at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC! Adventures in Babysitting recounts Sally's story of arriving to the Great White Way as a young, wide-eyed aspiring theatre actress. It follows Sally as she navigates the insane world of auditions while paying her dues working odd gigs, including what would become her go-to survival job: helping to raise NYC's most colorful children.

Joining Sally in Adventures in Babysitting are Alex Ringler (Broadway’s West Side Story, first national tour of A Chorus Line and off Broadway’s Pageant) Dylan Thompson (NEWSical the Musical and Naked Boys Singing!) and Gregory Sullivan (Naked Boys Singing!). Music direction is by eight-time MAC Award winner and Bistro Award winner Tracy Stark.

Adventures in Babysitting will play at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, in the basement of the West Bank Cafe) on Monday, April 3 at 7pm, Monday, April 17 at 9:30pm, and Monday, May 1 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Sally follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

For more on The Marvelous Wonderettes visit https://www.themarvelouswonderettes.com!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? There were a few people in my life that really inspired me to become a performer. My entire family is very musical and has always loved musical theatre. So I grew up watching all the classics...The Sound of Music, Carousel, etc. My grandmother actually recorded the PBS Les Miserables special with Colm Wilkenson and Lea Salonga played "Eponine." I remember just falling in love with the music and studying the way she sang "On My Own." It was the only song I sang between the ages of 11 and 16. Around this same time, I was 11, my Aunt took me to NYC for the first time. Beauty and the Beast just opened on Broadway and we saw that. I remember just crying through the opening number. It was a happy, uplifting number, but I was just so moved and at that moment I knew I wanted to be a performer.

2. This April, you are revising your show Adventures In Babysitting, which recounts your story of arriving to the Great White Way as a young, wide-eyed aspiring theatre actress. It follows you through the insane world of auditions, odd jobs, and finding your go-to survival job. What made now the right time to bring this show back? I decided now was the time because I am so immersed in the performing world right now. Before Wonderettes, I haven’t performed in years. You realize very quickly it all can go away, so one day before a Wonderettes show, Tom D'Angora, my producer, and I just looked at each other and said "It’s Time."

Tom D'Angora3. Adventures in Babysitting is co-written with your long-time friend Tom D'Angora. How did you first decide to have him co-write the show with you? What was it like revisiting this show with him now? Tom and I working together is nothing but laughs from start to finish. We met 14 years ago at a Kinkos my first week in NYC. We have been working together on various projects for our entire 14-year friendship. Tom has always believed in me and supported me. I can’t remember if I said to Tom that I wanted to do my own show or if he said "you need to do your own show," but we decided a few years ago to sit down and write something. There was a restaurant on 48th Street called Mont Blanc…it’s closed now, but that was our spot. We met there one day and just started throwing ideas around and the show was born. Working on it now is just as fun. We couldn't go to Mont Blanc, but our other lucky spot is in Tom’s building. So we went there and just started reworking some bits and once again just started laughing and never stopped.

4. How do you feel the four years of life experience, since the last time you did this show, will alter the feel and style of the show? I truly think every experience in life shapes you as a performer. I have been teaching in a public high school in the South Bronx for the past four years. I have grown so much as a human and learned so much about myself. I think it has made me a much more confidant performer. Also, the past year playing "Betty Jean," in a comedic show, has really helped me as an actor. When I did the show years ago, I wasn’t performing, so I wasn’t used to being on a stage. I didn’t have that same confidence that I am hopeful I do now. Haha! I hope the feel and style stays the same though….I just hope I can make it even funnier than last time.

Sally Schwab5. Let's break down this story without giving too much away! It's no secret that your go-to survival job was babysitting the kids of NYC. Why do you think babysitting stuck where so many other "odd jobs" didn't? What did you learn about yourself from babysitting other people's kids? Babysitting stuck because I am such a family person. My first year in NYC was really hard. I was so homesick and missed my family so much. I was so fortunate to meet a couple of really incredible families right away. Yes, I watched their kids, but they welcomed me and included me as a member of their family and that was exactly what I needed. It gave me a sense of stability at a time when I didn’t know anyone and was figuring out my way through the city. I learned through babysitting that I was really good with kids. Working with kids was the best fit for me.

6. How did babysitting lead to you being a high school social studies teacher? What was it like to bring your love of theatre to these high school kids, who have never seen a stage show before, and start their first ever musical theatre department? I love being a performer, there is nothing like taking the stage every night. However, the work I have done as a teacher in the South Bronx is something I am so proud of. Working with this demographic of student has changed my life. I am the person I am today because of these kids. Babysitting taught me that I really loved working with kids, so getting a Masters in Education seemed like the perfect fit. I have always loved history and I knew I wanted to teach it in a way that could be fun and engaging for the kids. I don’t want to brag, but I was writing historical raps for my students well before Hamilton came out. Haha! The kids love when I rap. Of course, musical theatre was always on my mind and our school has a gorgeous stage that never had a musical on it. I knew my mission. My first year teaching I directed and choreographed Once on this Island. This became the schools first ever musical. Now, they are about to have the 4th musical in a row! There are no words to describe the feelings I felt watching these kids take the stage and perform for the first time ever. These are kids who don’t have a lot. They come from an extremely tough neighborhood and just getting them to rehearsals was a challenge. But they persisted and they were all shining stars. My family and friends all came to town to see the show too. It was probably one of the most magical nights of my life. I cried from start to finish.

Cast of "The Marvelous Wonderettes"7. In addition to Adventures in Babysitting and being a high school teacher, you are also starring in the hit Off-Broadway revival of The Marvelous Wonderettes and as a swing in the long-running hit show NEWSical The Musical. How do you keep yourself balanced with such a varied and demanding schedule? That is the biggest challenge of my life right now. I am working seven days a week and every job that I am working is demanding in its own way. I constantly need to switch the roles I play in life. I hit the stage and spend two hours singing in the Wonderettes and having a blast with the gals, then in bed and ready to be up at 6:30am for a full day of teaching. It is intense, but I find time here and there to sit on my couch and watch some Housewives. The girls in the show Ryann Redmond, Jenna Leigh Green and Laura Woyasz have become three of my closest friends, so after every Sunday matinee we go out for dinner and drinks. It is time I really cherish and long after the shows close, it is something I will continue to do with these girls. They have become family. The hardest part is not seeing my friends I don’t work with. It is hard to find time to see people I don’t do a show with or teach with. Also, one day, one day soon, I would love to go on a vacation.

8. 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? Can I pick two things?? Haha!! I need to improve my eating habits. I am always on the go which makes it so hard to cook a nice meal. I love to cook and I don’t have any time to do it. So my bank statement pretty much is all Seamless. So that I need to improve. The second thing is not being afraid to say no to things. I take on too much and I need to say no sometimes.

Sally Schwab in "The Marvelous Wonderettes"9. What do you love about starring in The Marvelous Wonderettes? What do you relate to most about "Betty Jean"? What is on characteristic of hers you are glad you, yourself, don't possess? I love Wonderettes so much. I have been with the show since the beginning and to see how we have evolved this past year has been an incredible thing to see. Wonderettes is such a feel good show. I love making people laugh and smile every night. I mean, when you hear "It’s My Party," how do you not have a good time. Also, the people have made this experience incredible. The cast and crew have become family. I look so forward to going to work knowing I get to see these gals that have become my best friends. We have shared so much and gone through so much together and they will be lifelong friends.

I relate very much to "Betty Jean's" goofiness and how feisty she is. She has such a positive spirit....even when things don't go her way, she tries to fight through it and stay positive. I like to think I am like that. The one characteristic of "Betty Jean" that I am glad I don't possess is her willingness to just go back to "Johnny" after he isn't faithful to her. I doubt I would be so forgiving.

10. In this post-election world we live in, what makes being in NEWSical The Musical so great? There is so much going on politically in the world right now and to have jokes and songs to poke fun at the administration in such a turbulent time is really helpful for all of us. When I stop and think about everything that is going on it really enrages me. Performing in NEWsical gives us an outlet and an artistic way to express some feelings. There is a really great Melania Trump number that is just so much fun to do. Expression through art is a really great way to cope with what is going on.

Sally SchwabMore on Sally:

Sally Schwab made her Off-Broadway debut in A Broadway Diva Christmas, produced by Tom and Michael D’Angora. She later went on to appear in Back in Pictures and as "Queenie" in the Provincetown Theatre’s production of Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party. She attended the University at Buffalo for musical theatre and holds a Masters degree in Education from Hunter College.

She currently stars as "Betty Jean" in The Marvelous Wonderettes and as the female swing in NEWSical the Musical, both playing at The Kirk Theatre. The Marvelous Wonderettes takes a cotton-candied colored musical trip down memory lane with four girls whose hopes and dreams are as big as their crinoline skirts. Their lives and loves from prom night to their ten year reunion are told through more than twenty chart topping hits of the fifties. NEWSical the Musical spoofs all the headlines of the day in side splitting numbers. Both are produced by Tom D’Angora.

Wednesday
Mar222017

Call Redialed: Facetime Interview: Bobby Cronin: Concerts, Theme Songs, & Winning New York

Call Me Adam and Bobby Cronin at The Algonquin Hotel's "New Yorker Suite"From inside The Algonquin Hotel's New Yorker Suite, what an absolute joy it was to catch-up with Bobby Cronin, award winning composer/lyricist (and creator/singer of the "Call Me Adam Theme Song")! It's been a few years since Bobby & I have sat down for an interview so needless to say, we had lots to talk about: from his upcoming concerts to creating the "Call Me Adam Theme Song" to Winning New York, we reveal it all!

Bobby has two upcoming concerts. One is Sunday 3/26 at 7pm at The W Hotel in Times Square, NYC (47th & Broadway) called #Love Is Love as part of the W's Broadway at The W series. Featuring Bobby's music, #Love Is Love will welcome Anne Brummel (Wicked), Bryan Terrell Clark (Hamilton & Motown), Lauren Elder (Hair & Side Show), Lora Lee Gayer (Holiday Inn & Follies), LaQuet Sharnell (Memphis & Lion King), Adam Kaplan (Kinky Boots & Newsies), Kyle Scatliffe (The Color Purple & Les Miserables), Marty Thomas (Grammy Nominee), Michael Williams (Charllie & The Chocolate Factory & On The Town), and Cortney Wolfson (Kinky Boots & The Addams Family). Click here for tickets!

Bobby's second concert, Bobby Cronin & Friends will be April 19 at 8pm at The Yotel's Green Room in NYC (42nd & 10th Ave). This will be a benefit for the Humane Society and feature a host of Bobby's New York friends and International talents. Click here for tickets!

For more on Bobby be sure to visit http://bobbycronin.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

"Call Me Adam's" Facetime video interview with Bobby Cronin:

Tuesday
Mar142017

Call Answered: Steve Willis: The Legend of Yma Sumac at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

Steve WillisI love music videos. I love documentaries. I love live performance. I love learning about people. When you get asked to interview someone that encompasses all of these and then you find out they have worked with some of the biggest names in entertainment, you jump at the opportunity presented before you.

That's where Steve Willis comes in. He has made videos for Mary J. Blige, Patti Labelle, Maxi Priest, Dawn Robinson, Miranda, and many others (including RuPaul's Drag Race stars Jinkx Monsoon and Sharon Needles). Now, he is premiering his "live documentary" cabaret show The Legend of Yma Sumac starring drag performer Scarlet Envy. Featuring many of Yma's greatest hits and never-before-seen footage of Yma, shot by Steve, The Legend of Yma Sumac will play The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue in the basement of the West Bank Cafe) from March 15-29Click here for tickets!

For more on Steve be sure to visit http://thestevewillis.com and Instagram!

1. This March you are premiering The Legend of Yma Sumac, starring Scarlet Envy. The show is described as a "live documentary" cabaret about the late star, whom you were friends with. How did you first come to meet Yma? What was it about her that made you want to be friends? What do you miss most about her? When I first heard Yma’s music I became obsessed and couldn’t stop talking about her. From the very beginning I treated her as news that must be spread. I had the feeling that more people needed to know about her. I was so shocked to find out she existed. So one of the people that heard me talking said she was making gowns for Yma and I begged her to introduce me. She took me to dinner with Yma and I asked if I could make a documentary about her life. She was totally interested but she also wanted help with her career and I eventually learned she wanted help with her life. She was quite isolated. Over the years the relationship developed from director of her documentary, to also include manager for live shows to personal assistant. We would spend long hours in her apartment listening to her new music and hearing stories of the past and the people that did her wrong.

I think what I miss about her is being around such amazing talent and her wise worldly ways. She was always full of good advice and she cared for people and animals. She had a magical quality with animals that was like nothing I've ever seen. Wild animals, birds for example, would come to her and she was acting like it was the most natural thing when it was extremely rare. I believe the power of her mind was very great, she credited her singing ability to her mind and believing she could do it. She taught me more about integrity, artistic integrity than anyone I've ever met.

Scarlet Envy as Yma SumacThe real Yma Sumac2. What made now the right time to mount this show? That's an interesting question because there are three people that were involved with Yma at the end of her life trying to do projects with her. All three of us, without communicating with each other, returned to our projects again at the same time, around seven years after she died. The seven year itch? I've read the human body completely replaces all its cells after seven years and therefore you are a totally new person. Maybe we all had to heal a little before getting back to work on our projects? The other two people are Damon Devine, who was Yma’s caregiver and friend. He is working on a book that I really want to see come to life and I want to help promote. The other is Thomas Lauderdale of the band Pink Martini. I introduced him to Yma to record a song and she gave him a great start.

3. Why is Scarlet Envy the perfect drag queen to portray Yma? What aspects of Yma do you see in Scarlet? Spencer Rothman, the editor of this project has gone so far and beyond helping make this show come to life, introduced me to her. He saw I was really struggling to cast the project. I went through so many options. The problem was...if I was making a show that says "Yma has the greatest voice in the world ever," then how do I cast a live singer? No-one can sing these songs. (if you are reading this and you think this is incorrect….please introduce me to the singer that you think can do this).

Also, if I was in the audience for this show, I would want to hear Yma’s voice. So, the only choice seemed to be to do a lip sync show. I did consider real women along with drag performers but when it came to lip syncing, I think Drag performers have a little more practice…haha. I was already following Scarlet Envy on Instagram, so I was a fan of her beauty. She has an old Hollywood glamor to her look. She’s a beautiful woman and not a girl. I wanted the person playing Yma to be an older version of Yma. When I saw Scarlet paint herself to look like Yma, the resemblance was shocking and exciting. She had to do it. Yma’s career suffered somewhat from being considered "campy" or "kitsch" so I carefully considered whether casting a drag performer was the right thing to do but in the end I decided that the gender of the artist on stage is the last thing anyone needed to worry about. There is no nudity in the show except the male dancers show a lot of side ass.

Scarlet Envy as Yma SumacThe real Yma Sumac4. Some of Yma's greatest hits were "Malambo No. 1," "Mozart's Queen of the Night," and "Claire de Lune." In rehearsing this show what memories come up for you as hear these songs being performed? Because it is pretty rare to hear Yma’s music out in the world, I look forward to hearing my favorite songs by her on a nice loud system in a public place. I never heard Yma sing any of these songs live but when I would drive her around I would play these songs and she would drum on my dash board and sing along. One of my biggest regrets is not filming these moments. The way she would sing on top of the existing song was incredible. She would do this with any song by the way, not just hers. It was always in perfect harmony. I don’t know musical terms that well but she would also counter the melody in a very interesting way. She was also a great percussionist. Who knew the dashboard of a car could add so much great rhythm to a song?

5. The Legend of Yma Sumac incorporates unseen footage of Yma that was shot by you. How did you decide what footage to pick? What was it like to watch this footage now as opposed to when you first shot it? When I first picked up this project five years after her death, I needed to digitize some pretty archaic video formats (the project started in the 80’s). When I first started watching the footage, I literally broke out in hives on my face. The experience of watching the footage was a overwhelming. I put it away again until now. This year, I also won a grant from the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts for my feature documentary about Yma so I’ve been working on that as well. Chip Duckett knew I was doing this and asked me if I wanted to do a live show at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, I wanted the live show to be a tribute to her so I picked footage that was happy and she looked great in.

Scarlet Envy as Yma SumacThe real Yma Sumac6. What do you hope audiences learn about Yma from attending the show? I want them to learn that she was a serious artist and had the greatest voice ever recorded. According to some experts I've interviewed, there are two other women who could sing the same scale as Yma and we know this from the music that was written for their voices but this was before the technology to record them existed.

7. What was the hardest/most emotional part of the show to write? What was the most fun part? The hardest part of the show was the end. Every time we would get to that part I would get emotional. It was a little embarrassing but luckily Spencer the editor is a friend. The "fun" part?…..did I say I had fun? Actually the whole experience has been fun.

Patti LaBelle8. In addition to Yma, you have made videos for numerous high profile artists such as Mary J. Blige, Patti Labelle, Maxi Priest, Dawn Robinson, Miranda, and RuPaul's Drag Race stars Jinkx Monsoon and Sharon Needles, amongst others. Is there a really crazy story that stands out from one of these shoots where you were like, "I can't believe that just happened?" Meeting Patti LaBelle was crazy and amazing and educational. She was the first big name person I ever directed. The record company guy took me to her hotel room and as we waited in the living room of her suite I was very nervous. From the bedroom she called out "Is that Steve Willis? I love your work!" I said "yes." She answered "Oh my, I look terrible and I don’t want to come out of my bedroom, I'm on my period." We all laughed and my nerves went away. She came out and we had a great meeting. I realized after what a pro move this was. She has probably met and intimidated many people and that's not the best place to start working with someone. Complimenting me and bringing herself to a human level was a great way to start working together.

Rebecca Romijn9. You also directed the documentary Wet Dreams with Rebecca Romijn about your attempt to approach Wet Design, the creators of the Bellagio fountain, to choreograph a fountain show of your own. What did you learn from this experience? Are there any secrets about the Bellagio fountain or fountain show that you can share with us that we, the public, might not know? That was an amazing experience. I was the first civilian to swim in the Bellagio Fountain. The film is about what we learned and the secrets of the fountain. It is on Youtube. So, if you want to know the answer to this question you need to watch the film ๐Ÿ˜Š

10. What is something Yma taught you that you can share with us? She taught me not to compromise on your artistic vision no matter what. Once you have a clear vision, everyone can go to hell before you compromise on any small detail. I’ve never seen anyone hold to this more strongly and I've worked with many of the top people in the Film, TV and Fashion Industry.

Steve WillisMore on Steve:

Steve Willis is a filmmaker, photographer, and music video director. As a music video director, he has made videos for numerous artists, including Mary J. Blige, Patti Labelle, Maxi Priest, Dawn Robinson, Miranda, and many others (including RuPaul's Drag Race stars Jinkx Monsoon and Sharon Needles). He directed the documentary Wet Dreams with Rebecca Romijn, and is currently working on a documentary about Yma Sumac, who he befriended in 1987.