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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Sophie's NYC (4)

Wednesday
Jun042014

Call Answered: Conference Call with the cast and creatives of 50 Shades of F****d Up

Call Me Adam chats with the cast and creatives of the new Off-Broadway musical 50 Shades of F****d Up (The other unauthorized parody). We talk about their attraction to the show, the freedom this show has given them, their vulnerabilities, S&M, and the most unusual places they've ever had sex.

50 Shades of F****d Up plays at Sophie's in NYC (318 West 53rd Street, between 8th & 9th Ave) through June 7! Click here for tickets! Follow 50 Shades at http://www.50shadesfdup.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

THE CAST:

Ben McHugh and Jenna Dallacco in "50 Shades of F****d Up" Photo Credit: Victor Tortch1. Who or what inspired you to become performers?

Ben McHugh ("Christian Grey"): I actually fell in to performing by default. I applied to be the lighting operator for my high school production of GREASE and ended up playing "Danny Zuko." I was downright awful as I had never performed on stage before but absolutely loved it and the social side of rehearsing and performing. I guess the bug bit because I haven't stopped since. I celebrated my 20th year as an actor since beginning in community theater in 2013.

Jenna Dallacco ("Anastasia Steele"): There many performers whom I look up to and inspire my work with their talent, but I can't say that these people have influenced my decision to be a performer. It's just always been what I've done and been called to do.

Cedric Leiba, Jr. ("Grey's Global"/"Jose"/"Inner Goddess"): Artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson along with musicals and music themed shows like the Mickey Mouse Club.

Krista DeMille ("Kate"/"Grey's Global Duo"/Dance Captain): Applauase and seemingly unconditional approval at age 5.

Hiroyuki Matsuura (Drums/Percussion): Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea were a few of my biggest influences of my early music life. I can't deny that the Japanese comic/TV series/movie called Ashita no Joe and the TV series, Fame inspired me a lot too.

Krista DeMille and Cedric Leiba, Jr. in "50 Shades of F****d Up" Photo Credit: Victor Tortch2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to?

Ben: Ian McKellen.

Jenna: Gah! Dream List (in no particular order): I would love to work with Paul Gemignani, Darko Tresnjak, Alex Timbers, Stafford Arima, Rachel Chavkin, Dave Malloy, RuPaul, to name a few!

Cedric: Marc Anthony, JLO, Ricky Martin and Audra McDonald.

Krista: Daniel Davis is the greatest American actor at this point - our Mark Rylance on this side of the pond. The ironic part is that he is most known as the butler on The Nanny with Fran Drescher, but the nitty gritty is he is our finest American classical actor, and then some. I adore his work and can't wait to work with him!!!!

Hiroyuki: Claude Debussy, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis. I know they are dead. Sting, Buika, Jon Mayor, Erikah Badu, Seiji Kameda, Herbie Hancock, D'Angelo...I can't stop!!!

Ben McHugh and Jenna Dallacco in "50 Shades of F****d Up" Photo Credit: Victor Tortch3. What made you want to audition for "50 Shades of F****d Up?

Ben: I never auditioned. Tricia Brouk (Writer/Director) whom I worked with in 2012 on TOKIO CONFIDENTIAL called me out of the blue February 2013 and asked me how I would feel about being semi naked on stage and simulating "comedic" sex scenes for the presentation of a new work she was putting together. My daughter was only 9 months old at that point and I was enjoying the couch potato lifestyle of a stay-at-home father who wasn't exercising. I literally asked her how long i had to get in shape before the show was going to be presented as I was pinching my belly fat! lol.

Jenna: I felt really connected to both the music and book as soon as I heard and read them, respectively. I knew it was a project I wanted to be a part of.

Cedric: Being able to sing and perform Andrew Sotomayor's music.

Krista: I saw it in its first incarnation and laughed my ass off.

Hiroyuki: I didn't audition. Andrew Sotomayor called me.

Krista DeMille, Jenna Dallacco, Cedric Leiba, Jr. in "50 Shades of F****d Up" Photo Credit: Victor Tortch4. What has been the best part about performing together?

Ben: I'm so proud of the team we have together. I've had the benefit of working on this show on and off now for 12 months and it was like dusting off an old coat for me. But Jenna, Cedric and Krista had the better part of a week to get it all down. They worked so hard and I'm really proud of all their achievements. I think they're amazing!

Jenna: I haven't worked with anyone in the cast, band, or creative team so meeting so many new amazing people has been wonderful. I love the great synergy we four cast members have. I also feel very supported as a person and actor onstage with them. This show is so fun and fulfilling to perform with them. Plus they're really good looking.

Cedric: Being able to truly have fun and act a fool on stage!

Krista: The level of incredibleness of my fellow cast members...wow. I love to listen to them!

5. What makes Sophie's the perfect place for this run of the show?

Ben: Sophie's is a great venue as it's intimate and has an almost "red room of pain" quality to it which is absolutely perfect for the nature of this show. If the audience wanted to, they could actually reach out and touch us. The VIP seats are "crotch-cam!" Oh and you can drink!

Jenna: I like the size of the house for this show.

Cedirc: The intimacy.

Krista: A, Sophie herself is an incredible woman and NYC businessperson! B, what's more fun than seeing a well crafted show in an intimate environment, C, audience quote: "you don't have to drink to enjoy this show," but it sure is fun too!

Tricia Brouk (Writer/Director/Choreographer) and Andrew David Sotomayor (Composer/Lyricist/Musical Director)6. What did you learn about musical theatre from working with Andrew David Sotomayor and Tricia Brouk?

Ben: That working a brand new musical can be brutal but also exhilarating! I love the fact that both of them are not precious about their work and are prepared to cut anything that doesn't further the story. I always tell the story of how they abruptly cut this beautiful ballad between Christian and Anastasia towards the end of the show, because it dragged the tempo down and made them "too human" which is what they were trying to avoid. I'm hoping that if the show ever gets recorded to CD that its a bonus track.

Jenna: I learned a whole lot about how to walk the fine line of parody and comedy. I loved collaborating with Andrew on his music, incorporating the pop sensibility while giving nods to other singers and writers. Tricia really taught me how to inhabit this world she created for me to play in. I love her insight and intelligence.

Cedric: I was reminded through this show that I really LOVE doing musicals.

Krista: Tricia and Andrew bring a high level of craft to a universal subject with a sweet dose of irreverence. Their willingness to not be serious brings a seriousness to the subject. It's so much fun.

Hiroyuki: Musical theater people are nice, cheerful, and filthy.

Jenna Dallacco and Ben McHugh in in "50 Shades of F****d Up" Photo Credit: Victor Tortch7. Since this show uses S&M as it's back drop, dealing with issues of power, how do you feel acting in this show has empowered you as both a performer and person?

Ben: This show has allowed me to take risks like I've never done before. I still get nervous about the semi nude aspect and parts of the more provocative nature of the show, but its definitely something I'm proud of. I also haven't tackled comedy of this style before which has been really exciting and different.

Jenna: Separately from the S&M, I feel I have been empowered from taking on such a large role. I also feel empowered in a way by the silly and "ugly" comic things I have to do. Because it's different from the standard MT roles, it takes some guts to do the portrayed sex and be as goofy as I get. And it's empowering.

Cedric: As an actor you have to be completely vulnerable. This show forces you to have to go there and not look back!

Krista: This show has empowered me in its mandate for truthfulness combined with the necessity for bold choices. Yes, that's always the case in acting, but this show seems to accentuate that necessity. Enjoying myself is key! As in my personal life :)

Krista DeMille, Jenna Dallacco, Cedric Leiba, Jr. in "50 Shades of F****d Up" Photo Credit: Victor Tortch8. What experiences have you had with S&M, if any? If you have tried S&M, what are your favorite activities?

Ben: I was tied up once - didn't like it. Ha!

Cedric: Never tried S&M.

Krista: S&M....I used to be a personal trainer and was once approached by someone to be their Dom. I entertained the idea and interviewed with them because I do have a latent knack for bossiness. I didn't take that particular position, but I definitely like to play with sharing power in the beaudoir.

Cedric Leiba, Jr., Jenna Dallacco, Ben McHugh in "50 Shades of F****d Up" Photo Credit: Victor Tortch9. What's the most unusual place you've ever had sex?

Ben: Back of a car while a taxi pulled up behind me, which then took something like 5 minutes to drop the passenger off. We basically stayed there pretending nothing was going on!

Cedric: I'm still a virgin.

Krista: I can't fess up to the most unusual place, I might get in trouble.

10. What is it like to reveal yourselves so vulnerably with this show?

Ben: It's a very liberating show. A great non-stop ride of silliness which is what I really enjoy performing. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up as I have to wake at 5:30am every morning to work out before my daughter gets up. Vanity is a bitch!

Cedric: Freeing.

Krista: Revealing one's vulnerability is always elating and transformational; I feel grateful for the opportunity.

Tricia BroukTHE CREATIVES:

1. Who or what inspired you to write this show?

Tricia Brouk (Writer/Director/Choreographer):  Someone told me I'd be great at directing a parody about this material. I waited for a writer to come on board. I'm very impatient, so I wrote it myself. Then I asked Andrew, who I'd worked with before, if he'd be interested in arranging music for it. He said yes, but asked if he could try writing a song for it first. When he sent me the opening song, it blew me away. "Ordinary Girl" is fantastic and two weeks later, he had the entire show written. He and I work extremely fast.

Andrew David Sotomayor (Composer/Lyricist/Musical Director):  Tricia had actually asked me to arrange music for the script originally written around pop songs. I thought the script was hilarious and asked if she's give me a shot at creating original music and lyrics for it. I wrote "Ordinary Girl," and played it for her. She graciously invited me to complete the score.

Andrew David Sotomayor2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to?

Tricia: Tina Fey, Tim Curry, Helen Mirren, Jimmy Fallon.

Andrew: In no particular order: Stephen Oremus, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, and Stephen Flaherty. I'm continuously inspired by their respective contributions to musical theatre, the fact that they're all named Stephen is an amazing coincidence.

3. What has been the best part working with this group?

Tricia: The best part has been seeing their work ethic and trust in the material. We had very little time to rehearse, so they were thrown in and they all had to bring it. I loved seeing each and everyone of them step into the role fully. Bold choices turn me on. Even if they are not the right choices, they are still appreciated.

Andrew: Beyond their ridiculous talent, the best part of working with this group is the respect they have for their craft and for the material. They worked so hard and took the rehearsal process so seriously, and thusly took being bold and sexy and outrageous with the utmost level of intensity. It was inspiring to see them build these larger than life and zany characters and then unleash them in front of an audience. It was honestly thrilling.

4. What makes Sophie's the perfect place for this run of the show?

Tricia: Sophie's is a sexy space that allows the audience to see our show up close and personal.

Andrew: Sophie's is perfect to house the show because it has a great balance of distance and intimacy. The performances are far enough away that you can watch the whole show as an observer, but close enough that the fun is always in your face no matter where you're sitting.

Jenna Dallacco and Ben McHugh in "50 Shades of F****d Up" Photo Credit: Victor Tortch5. Since this show uses S&M as it's back drop, dealing with issues of power, how do you feel writing/directing/choreographing this show has empowered you as both a performer and person?

Tricia: When I read the book, I was very offended, as a woman. Why would a young girl with a bright future allow a rich, powerful man to smack her around in the bedroom? Why is this book so wildly popular? I wanted to parody the book and also honor E.L. James, but it was extremely important to me that I show the power of "Anastasia" in the end. She does come to her senses and realize that she has to say no. She loves him, but wants more. She finally says no more. Well until the next book, but our parody only deals with book one.

Andrew: Working on this show has definitely given me permission as an artist to be aware of my limits and not be afraid to articulate what I'm comfortable with. Conversely, it has made me realize that power is relative and being in control and relinquishing control can both be equally creatively satisfying in completely different ways. Also, I'm not so shy about writing nasty words in lyrics anymore.

Ben McHugh, Jenna Dallacco, Cedric Leiba, Jr. in "50 Shades of F****d Up" Photo Credit: Victor Tortch6. What experiences have you had with S&M, if any? If you have tried S&M, what are your favorite activities?

Tricia: I love the idea of a ball gag, but I'm claustrophobic.

Andrew: I've never tried S&M, but since we're being honest about it, I can see why people find tying someone up hot.

7. What's the most unusual place you've ever had sex?

Tricia: Wouldn't you want to know!

Andrew: The projection room above the auditorium. Wait...that wasn't me...that was "Regina George" in Mean Girls.

8. What is it like to reveal yourselves so vulnerably with this show?

Tricia: Writing dirty sophomoric humor came very naturally to me. Writing about sex was not a big deal. Choreographing the sex was very important to me. I wanted to go up to the line, but never cross it. There's no nudity or graphic anything. The sex is acrobatic and hilarious. In, my humble twelve year old boy humor, opinion.

Andrew: It's equal parts terrifying and liberating. Hearing the audience react makes me feel proud of what we accomplished, but at the same time I'm so hyper aware of how naughty we are and sometimes I think about what my Mom would say. But who am I trying to kid, she'd probably love it.

BIOS:

Ben McHughMore on Ben:

Ben has appeared in the National Tours of MAMMA MIA!(Sam/Bill cover),HAIRSPRAY (Corny). New York theatre credits include TOKIO CONFIDENTIAL (Ralph), THE SECRET GARDEN (Dr. Neville Archer), TITANIC (Swing), BROADWAY VARIETEASE and JEKYLL & HYDE (J&H cover). International credits include THE PRODUCERS (Lead Tenor), GREASE (Vince), PIRATES OF PENZANCE and SHOUT! THE LEGEND OF THE WILD ONE. Ben has been a regular guest entertainer with Princess Cruises & P&O Cruises Australia and was seen by over eighty million viewers when he sang the New Zealand National Anthem at Sydney Olympic Park for the 2005 Rugby Union Bledisloe Cup. www.benmchugh.com

Jenna DallaccoMore on Jenna:

Jenna is beyond thrilled to be a part of this unauthorized original musical! Select NYC credits: AMERICA'S SWEETHEART (Musicals Tonight!), MARRY HARRY (NYMF '13), CRUEL SHOES (NYMF '12), QUEEN ESTHER (title role, Kaufman Center). Industry readings and workshops: WHISKEYLAND!, THE LAST DAYS OF GOTHAM, and SINGLE GIRL SITCOM. Regional: OLIVER!(Westchester Broadway Theatre), Heidi in [title of show] (Sandbox Theatre), and the regional premiere of MARRY HARRY (American Theatre Group). Cabaret: BROADWAY BALLYHOO (Feinstein's at the Regency), TOO LEGIT TO QUIT(Laurie Beechman Theatre), BROADWAY BY THE YEAR (Town Hall), and BROADWAY TODAY! (Kirkland Performing Arts Center). Jenna holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from NYU Steinhardt and is a proud member of Actor's Equity.

Krista DeMilleMore on Krista:

Graduated from the Tom Todoroff Conservatory and is thrilled to join the cast of 50 SHADES OF F****D UP! She’s had the pleasure of working with Tricia and Andrew in EROTIC BROADWAY/VINTAGE VARIETY, as well as assisting Tricia on EVE'S TURN. Recent theater credits include ROMANCE by Neil LaBute and her own original play H2O MANIFESTO for which she is a six-time grant recipient. Krista has enjoyed working with Lucinda Childs, David Gordon, Mikhail Baryshnikov, John Dapolito, Ralph Lemon, Eun Me Ahn, Shadow Box Players, Nicholas Leichter, San Gorgonio Ballet, NJ Ballet, and many more, touring nationally and internationally. She is a professional Class V whitewater river guide and is in preproduction for a feature film slated to shoot on the Colorado River with Gothic Manor Productions.

Cedric Leiba, Jr.More on Cedric:

Cedric attended Stetson University receiving a B.M. in Vocal Performance. Beginning his professional career performing in reputable regional theaters, he then pursued a M.M. in Musical Theater from The Boston Conservatory. Upon graduating, Cedric toured nationally with MISS SAIGON (Ensemble), RENT (Angel) and GO DIEGO GO LIVE! (Diego). He then relocated to NYC and made his debut leading the cast of The Public Theatre's world premiere hip-hop musical, KINGDOM (Juan). He later reprised that role at The Old Globe Theatre. Other NYC Theatre credits include: YELLOW BRICK ROAD(Mountain Lion) - LUCILLE LORTEL, THE HAPPY ENBALMER (Tenzing) - NYMF, CARIDAD (Vittorio Vidal, 2013 HOLA award Outstanding Performance by a Featured Male Actor and an Audelco Nomination)-New Haarlem Arts Theatre and NEON BABY (Juanito Xtravaganza) - Pregones Theatre. Film credits include: MILLIE AND THE LORDS, ELLIOT LOVES and LAST NIGHT AT ANGELO'S.

Hiroyuki MatsuuraMore on Hiroyuki:

Originally from Tokyo. Matsu started playing music in his infancy and concentrated on the drums and percussion in high school. While majoring in accounting in collage, he began working as a musician. After performing with some of the best musicians in Japan, he relocated to New York City. He enrolled the jazz performance study at City College of New York and started working professionally. Matsu has worked with the finest musicians in NYC and beyond, including Grammy, Tony, Obie winners/nominees, such as Hector "Maximo" Rodriguez (Spanish Harlem Orchestra), Liz Swados. He has shared the stage with the Roots, and Corey Glover (Living Colour). His recorded performances has been featured in a major film, the Oranges and Sony's "R&B Christmas Hits" in 2013 which also features R&B legends such as Destiny's Child and Aretha Franklin. Performing more than 260 shows per year, he has played music at: Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Blue Note New York, Beacon Theater, the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, Philadelphia Museum of Art. As a freelance musician, he plays various styles of music and keeps pushing musical and cultural boundaries. www.matsusound.com

Tricia BroukMore on Tricia:

Tricia's 50 SHADES OF F****D UP, A MUSICAL PARODY, has also been adapted for the screen. She choreographs BLACK BOX for ABC, starring Kelly Reilly, directed by Simon Curtis. She was recently described as "slick and earnest" in the New Yorker in regard to her newest musical, COMMITTED that had a sold out run at The West End Theater in NYC. Tricia choreographed John Turturro's feature film ROMANCE AND CIGARETTES where she received a Golden Thumb award from Roger Ebert. She wrote, directed, choreographed and dances in ROLLING IN THE RING OF FIRE, a short film. Her choreography can also be seen in Dennis Leary's RESCUE ME starring Steve Pasquale and in Lasse Hallstrom's THE HOAX, starring Richard Gere. Her choreography is also featured in Capitol One Commercials and on the Travel Channel. Her work has been recently seen at Joe's Pub, BC Beat and Stage 72 in New York City, where she directs and choreographs BROADWAY VARIETEASE.

She choreographed the Off-Broadway ZOMBIES: A MUSICAL as well as directed/choreographed I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE! BINGO: THE WINNING MUSICAL and POPESICAL!, which played the Lyric Theater in LA. She directed/choreographed EROTIC BROADWAY;VINTAGE VARIETY and FRANKIE AND DEBBIE LIVE AT THE MARTINI LOUNGE, and the Off Broadway TOKIO CONFIDENTIAL at Atlantic Stage 2.

Andrew David SotomayorMore on Andrew:

Previous credits include music directing CUTMAN: A BOXING MUSICAL, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, BROADWAY VARIETEASE, COUNTING SQUARES' WOYZECK, FRANKIE AND DEBBIE: LIVE AT THE MARTINI LOUNGE, I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE, BINGO: THE WINNING MUSICAL, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, the Honeck & Moss Productions of SOCIAL INTERCOURSE, FROM BOOK TO BROADWAY, SING ME A STORY, and the 2012 and 2013 Duplex Gala. As a composer he has provided music and lyrics for COMMITTED, his latest collaboration with Tricia Brouk, as well as scores for BENT, and the short films CUBA 1961: A LOVE STORY and TIMELESS. He is the recipient of a 2014 MAC Award for his original song "The Right Time."

Sunday
Jun012014

Call Answered: Polly McKie Interview

Polly McKie, Photo Credit: Kevin O'BrienI was first introduced to Polly McKie when I attended Sophie's Open Mic Spotlight Series in 2013 because my friends Ethan Paulini and Christopher Sidoli were being featured. It was in that moment, I fell in love with Polly's humor, charm, and talent! As a result of that evening, I got to do a limited run live interview show as part Sophie's Spotlight series. From my first show, Polly (and everyone at Sophie's) embraced me with open arms. I was made to feel at ease right away and that led to 8 weeks of more joy than I could have ever asked for. Like Polly mentions below, Mondays became my favorite night of the week! So, now, I am beyond excited to have been able to sit down with the talent that is Polly McKie and get inside her heart, soul, and mind!

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

Polly McKie and Kathryn Kates (from "Orange is the New Black) in Theater for the New City's production of "Dollface"1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Oh, it's hard to pinpoint exactly who or what.  I'm the youngest of five children so was always looking for attention! I was brought up with parents (both teachers) who love music and the theatre and I was taken to shows from as early as I can remember. The first big professional London production we saw was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat when I was 7. I was always in every school production, starting with "Mary" in the Nativity when I was 5 and ending with the role that made me realize this was what I wanted to do as an adult, in my last year of school: "Meg Brockie" in Brigadoon. In between I worked with some wonderful professionals and it's only now, as an adult, that I realize what an honor it was to sing and act alongside Bill McCue (A famous Scottish talent) and go on tour to Orkney with a new musical called The Two Fiddlers by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

I'll never forget a particular trip to London when I was about 13 or 14. My dad had booked tickets for Follies and he told me what it was about and I thought it sounded boring. I went and it changed my life! I still get goosebumps when I think about it. Eartha Kitt sang "I'm Still Here" and I clapped so hard I thought I would burst. I bought the CD and became obsessed with Sondheim and wanted to sing all his songs. I still want to. And I often do.

Polly McKie in "Beauty and The Beast"2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Oh, so many! I want to work with actors who have passion and I always love working with experienced people I can learn from.

I love Meryl Streep (of course), Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. What links these women for me is how they come across as genuine (off camera and on). I can imagine sharing a joke with them. All three have a reputation for being fun on set. When Judi Dench and Maggie Smith work together they have a reputation for getting fits of the giggles. They also exude humility in spite of their phenomenal success. I firmly believe that's why their work is so consistently good. You see so many actors who become stars let it go to their head and they stop being relatable and that comes across in their acting. I wouldn't say no to a love scene with Colin Firth, George Clooney or my new obsession, Bryan Cranston.

Above all, famous or not, I want to work with people who take it seriously but are willing to have fun. People who are modest and care about the craft more than they care about the fame.

Polly McKie in City Hall Bermuda's production of "Cabaret"Polly McKie in "After The Circuit" at The Connelly Theatre in NYC3. You have performed in numerous stage productions both stateside and internationally. What do you like most about performing around the world? What similarities and differences do you notice between audiences and the theatre scenes in general as you travel? I love travel and seeing different cultures. Performing in such a variety of spaces with such culturally different audiences is fascinating. I recently went to see a friend in a Scottish play Off-Broadway at 59E59. Apparently the stage manager noted that evening that there must be a Scot in the audience because of things getting laughs that had not with all American audiences. Sometimes humor travels, but some jokes are very local too.

The thing about theatre, wherever you are in the world, is that people who love theatre LOVE it. And no matter how many movies and new technology we have, nothing beats live theatre. That is universal.

One very big difference I have noticed is that in the U.S. audiences will clap if a star name comes on stage and are often very quick to give a standing ovation. That does not often happen in the U.K.

Polly McKie in Lola's music video "Hate U 2"4. In addition to theatre, you have worked in film/television. What do you like about working in each medium? At first I thought I would not enjoy working in film and TV but I have really grown to love it. That said, I am grateful that my background and training is in the theatre. I do not think anything else matches the discipline we receive when learning Shakespeare or doing 8 shows a week. Most of the film actors I like and admire have theatrical backgrounds. And, of course, the medium is different, but I use the same basic principles in my acting. It all boils down to being believable and relatable. We can analyze acting forever (and we do!) but what matters is portraying something real and making people feel something. It's about being a human being and sharing that, no matter the medium.

Polly McKie as the voice of Disney's audio recording "Brave"5. You are the voice of Disney's audiobook Brave. What was it like when you found out you got the job and what is like knowing anytime someone listens to that book, they will be hearing your voice? Getting that job was a thrill. There are so many Irish and English people in New York and most people cannot place my Scottish dialect. So when this came up and they advertised that they wanted a real Scot to be the voice, I knew I had to try. On the day of the audition I was sick but, of course, I went. The waiting room was full of lots of Scottish people. It was a very strange experience. So often, I go in using my American accent for auditions but for this I could be 100% me. Ill as I was, I went in and did my best. I had no real voiceover experience but I had always been told I had a great voice and I know how to tell a story. I have 6 nephews and 4 nieces and I love reading to children. They are the best and most honest audience of all. I went into the sound booth for the audition with one page of copy and I imagined I was reading to one of my younger nieces. The casting director said "Great, now can you imagine you're reading to an older child?" I switched to an older nephew in my mind. I was in and out of the room in those 2 takes and then I put it out of my mind. My agent called me to tell me I had booked the gig and within a week I was in a recording booth with Disney execs in New York and taking direction from the head of Disney character voices online from L.A. I LOVED every minute of the experience. I think the children in my life who hear it are not overly impressed. It's just Aunt Polly reading a story. And that's what it should be.

Polly McKie hosting Sophie's Spotlight Series in NYC, Photo Credit: Dan Yaeger6. In addition to all of the work discussed above, you are also the host of Sophie's weekly Open Mic Spotlight Series in NYC. What do you enjoy most about this? What is it like to watch what could be tomorrow's musical theatre stars perform? I love Sophie's! Monday has become my favorite day of the week. I love hosting. I hear myself and think I am turning into my mother. I insult people and crack jokes. My style is very much like my mother. And, although the humor is biting, the audience knows that it is supportive. We have been labeled the most supportive Open Mic in NYC. I have been to open mics as a performer and I think that is the key. I understand the nerves and excitement that the singers have. I want to make them feel supported and important. Even if you are one singer out of 30, those 3 or 4 minutes that you have are like a Broadway debut for some of these young (or older) artists. There is a comedian who came and sat at the back for the first few weeks and just watched. Then one week he got up to sing and he said he felt safe and described me as being "A cross between a comedienne and a social worker." That is the biggest compliment. That we create a place that feels safe and fun for people to perform.

Polly McKie teaching The Actors Friend, Photo Credit: Vanessa Spica7. You have also started your own coaching classes and workshops for actors. What made you want to teach others? What have you learned from your students? I am from a family of teachers. And I have been a teacher for years. An actress and a teacher. Both are in my blood. My mother probably should have gone into acting and I think she would have but her mother died when she was 17 so she stayed with her father and went to teacher training college. Just as well she did or I might not exist! The two are so closely linked. Some of the greatest teachers are performers. They have to entertain and educate. And I think actors owe it to other actors to pass on what they know. I have had the chance to work with some wonderful teachers and I want to share what I know (even if it is how to learn from my mistakes!) Students always teach us as much as we teach them. There is that wonderful and famous lyric in The King and I

It's a very ancient saying,

But a true and honest thought,

That if you become a teacher, 

By your pupils you'll be taught.

I am far more likely to quote Sondheim but, in this case, this applies.

Polly McKie, Photo Credit: John Knox8. How do you feel living in New York City fosters your acting more as opposed to living somewhere else? I adore New York! It is the center of everything for me. I love London but I instantly felt at home in New York on my first visit. I knew there was a special connection. I love what the city has to offer  - everything! (well, apart from a good fish supper). I still pinch myself when I walk home past Grand Central and the Chrysler Building. I have lived here for almost six years and it still thrills me. I am surrounded by actors and singers. I am immersed in that life and I love it. I can spend what is a pretty average day going to an audition, walking past a celebrity on 14th street, going to see a friend in a play Off-Broadway or on Broadway, and sing at Sophie's. Of course, there are many days of just buying groceries and doing laundry but the first example is just as regular and that's a thrill. It feeds my soul!

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Be yourself and trust your gut.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Ah, Adam, I know you ask this question and I always wondered what I would answer. I think I do not want a super power. I want to be human.

Polly McKie, Photo Credit: Lauren SowaMore on Polly:

Polly was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest of five children. Her father submitted the birth notice "Suddenly as the result of an accident...." The newspaper refused to print it, so here it is for all to read now. A sense of humor is a prerequisite for being part of the McKie family. A family who is passionate about the Arts. Thanks to her parents (both teachers), she was lucky enough to be a regular visitor to the theatre: everything from local pantomimes to Shakespeare, Greek tragedy (her father is a classicist) to West End musicals (her mother writes and directs musicals for young children).

After graduating with an M.A. in Theatre and Philosophy, Polly continued her studies and earned her postgraduate certificate in drama education, deciding to take the sensible career path and work as a teacher. The desire to perform never left, though, and she performed in the ensemble of Sweeney Todd at The Theatre Royal in Glasgow, understudying "Mrs. Lovett" (still a dream role today).

In 2004 she moved to Bermuda where she was in several shows and was lucky enough to work with Martin Lowe (Tony award for Once) and Brian Kite (La Mirada, L.A.) in Cabaret. Her time working in The Beauty Queen of Leenane helped her come to the decision to move to New York and pursue her acting career full-time. At the end of the 2 week run, the rest of the cast was so happy that it was over. Polly wanted it to run forever.

Now based in New York, as an actress, she regularly employs her "American" voice, but she is proud to be the voice of the digital book of Disney's ‚ÄčBrave.

Wednesday
Apr022014

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with the cast of Mama and Her Boys

"Call Me Adam" went on location to Sophie's in NYC to chat with 2 out of 3 cast members of the hit Off-Broadway musical Mama and Her Boys, Sarah Kleeman and Steven Baker. Featuring an eclectic mix of music from virtually all genres, this funny and poignant musical explores the dynamic relationship with mothers, sons and families.

Mama and Her Boys plays every Wednesday at 8:30pm at Sophie's in NYC through May 7, 2014 (318 West 53rd, between 8th & 9th Avenue, inside the Broadway Comedy Club). Click here for tickets and be sure to follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

Interview with Sarah Kleeman and Steven Baker from Mama and Her Boys at Sophie's:

Monday
Feb032014

Call Answered: Charles Baran Saint Valentine's Day Massacred! Interview

Charles BaranCharles Baran will be presenting his one-man show Saint Valentine's Day Massacred! on February 14, 2014, at 9:30pm at Sophie's in New York City (318 West 53rd Street). With special guests and some great surprises, come help Charles spread the love around as he serves up an evening of comedy and song! Click here for tickets! 

For more on Charles be sure to follow him on Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Hi Adam! Your first question is an easy one for me! Without a doubt, hands down, no contest, the Divine Miss M herself, Bette Midler. I was there at the Palace when she came down a giant high heel at the top of Act II with Barry Manilow on the ivories. I must have seen Calms on the Half Shell 9 times! OK, I'll come clean. I used to sit on the stoop across from her apartment on Barrow Street in the Village and watch her come and go. She'd run the other way when she saw me! Hey - that makes me the original stalker! I was 14 or 15 at the time I think.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I would have loved to work with Lucille Ball. She was brilliant and I suspect generous to her fellow actors. She always let her co-stars shine. An ensemble player and I like that! I'd also like to work with Sandra Bernhard. Her shows are always so hip and cool! She does concept shows really well and I love that!

3. On Valentine's Day (February 14), you are presenting your show Saint Valentine's Day Massacred! at Sophie's in NYC. What made you want to create this show? I grew up in Queens in front of a TV set watching Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson, Laugh-In and Jonathan Winters. I love the idea of a variety show, bringing an audience a total entertainment, music, comedy, maybe an animal act thrown in! I want to bring that back. I always wanted to be Carol Burnett. Watching her show was like watching a big party and everyone was invited.

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Saint Valentine's Day Massacred!? A smile on their face! My goal is they have a good time and laugh from beginning to end. No sad songs in a Charles Baran production!

5. Why is now the right time to debut Saint Valentine's Day Massacred!? It's been a long and cold winter, hasn't it? We can all use a break from the winter blues. I want to bring in a little sunshine!

6. What made Sophie's the right venue for your show? I met Sophie in August and from the moment we met we hit it off. She has been so welcoming and supportive to me that I couldn't think of doing my show anyplace else.

7. I read that you started acting later in life. What made you finally be able to take the leap forward? What do you think held you back when you were younger? How do you feel your life has changed since taking this leap? First, I want to say that I don't have any regrets or complaints. My life has been a wonderful journey to this place in life. But I never really felt that I had found my calling until I took my first acting class a few short years back, on a whim mind you. After a few classes, maybe one, I had a "Ta-Da" moment. I knew I was where I should be. I really don't think it would have been right if I had gone this route earlier in life. I was busy doing other things. How has my life changed since I started performing? Well let's just say that last year was the best year of my life.

Charles Baran8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Being a performer has given me such confidence in my day to day life. I am much more sure of myself than I ever was. All my friends have noticed the change. My energy is fantastic. I can't wait to get up each day and tackle a new project or make an idea real.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice that I ever received, and that I live by every day, is to remember to be grateful for every part, every opportunity, every chance you are given to do what you love. Each time a director casts me in a production I feel blessed. I never want to loose that feeling of gratitude and thankfulness. Oh - and be prepared, know your lines, show up on time and don't cause trouble!

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I'd love to be able to snap my fingers like "Endora" on Bewitched and make wondrous things happen. I'd love to be able to jump from place to place with a finger snap. I think living in New York we all could use that! Going from uptown to the lower East Side in a spilt second would be great, don't you think?

Thanks a lot Adam! This has been great!

Charles BaranMore on Charles:

Charles Baran is a rising actor who's been featured in both film and theatre. His film credits include A Foreign Heart of Hope and the independent short Perspective as well as the independent feature Here Today. Charles has been seen in such theatrical productions as The File on J Edgar Hoover, Geoffrey and Jeffrey, Macbeth, The Cradle Will Rock (Musical), Juan and Emmett, Stand Up Tragedy, The Kingdom, Two Women On A Precipice, Walkabout Yeolha, Honestly Abe (Musical), Pins and Needles (Musical), Grandpa Was A Bachelor, Dark Light, The Cenci, and Invention of the Living Room.