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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Theater (25)

Wednesday
Sep072016

Call Answered: Jonathan Rockefeller: That Golden Girls Show!

Jonathan RockefellerJonathan Rockefeller and "The Girls", Photo Credit: Alexie HayI am one of the biggest Golden Girls fans out there. I've seen every episode at least a dozen times, can recite lines left and right, and even incorporated my own little tribute to "The Girls" in my stand-up comedy routine that I used to do. And getting to interview original Golden Girl Rue McClanahan in 2009, was beyond a dream come true (Thank You Michael J. La Rue). Needless to say, when I heard that a Golden Girls parody was coming Off-Broadway, starring puppets no less, it was a no brainer that I HAD to talk to the show's creator! As luck would have it, I was granted an interview with Jonathan Rockefeller, creator of That Golden Girls Show! - Puppet Parody which will be playing DR2 Theatre this fall.

Set in that sassy Miami house in 1985, That Golden Girls Show! is a brand new show that parodies classic Golden Girls moments - with puppets! Get set for an evening of cheesecake, laughter, jazzercise, shoulder pads, sex, and the elegant art of the quick-witted put down. That Golden Girls Show! will play DR2 Theatre (103 East 15th Street) in NYC's Union Square from September 19-December 11. Click here for tickets!

For more on That Golden Girls Show! be sure to visit http://www.thatgoldengirlsshow.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram!

1. This fall, your new show, That Golden Girls Show! - Puppet Parody will be making it's NYC debut! This show pays homage/makes fun of classic Golden Girls moments with puppets. What was the moment you were watching The Golden Girls and went "This would make a great parody show and you know what would make it even more funny, is having the characters as puppets"? I originally wanted to do a web series with puppets which was set in a retirement home with a few scripts I had been playing around with for a while. I have always been a fan of The Golden Girls, and eventually I ended up ditching the web series and focusing on a stand-up routine with the Golden Girls characters delivering a lot of the punchlines. In its short run it was a hit! So then it became an interesting challenge to construct a full scale show that played with the conventions, recurring lines, recurring themes and storylines (and there are many) within The Golden Girls itself, while being reverent to the original material. The original writing was so incredibly clever and witty and the performances were faultless, so the bar is set high to play with characters that everyone knows and loves…and try to make it more funny than it already is.

2. It's been almost 10 years since I've taken John Tartaglia's puppetry class and in that class I learned a lot about puppets/puppetry. Do you feel the characters will be able to get away with more being puppets as opposed to if this show was just actors? Oh absolutely. The great thing about using puppets in this show is they can have costume changes in seconds – how could you not include at least four costume changes for "Blanche Deveraux" for example. "Dorothy’s" sarcastic "death stare" is even more vicously hilarious coming from the eyes of a puppet and we’re able to stretch the physicality of the puppets more than you could with just an actor. In short, everyone is much more forgiving of a puppet than they are of a person.

The Golden GirlsRose Nylund3. There are so many classic moments from The Golden Girls. A few episodes I consider classics are The Murder Mystery Weekend, when Blanche's brother visits/gets married, Henny Penny, Dorothy's lesbian friend falls for Rose, when Blanche goes back to visit Grammy's Plantation, Blanche's niece comes for a visit, and Rose dreams the girls get their heads frozen, plus so many more! How did you narrow down the classic moments to just 90 minutes? A real challenge indeed! Don’t forget other infamous sequences like their stint in jail before meeting Burt Renyolds or "Dorothy’s" birthday at Mr Ha-Ha’s. It’s so endearing that fans of the series can recite their favorite episodes – but a challenge I had to face as well. Rather than opting for a singular episode I approached the script as more of a Golden Girls mix-tape. There are a lot of familiar scenarios which continue to recur in the series, and in this context they have been re-appropriated into a singular overarching story with a story thread for each character. However – don’t be surprised if nun costumes, Henny Penny and mother-daughter talent shows don’t pop up in some online videos soon.

4. What will die hard fans of the The Golden Girls love about That Golden Girls Show!? An earlier Golden Girls tribute show I worked on is now playing in Canada and the consistent feedback was that the real essence and integrity of the show was maintained – while it was being parodied. Die-hard fans are going to love a lot of the innuendoes and references to episodes they know and love, while the less familiar will be introduced to four incredible characters that have enchanted audiences for more than 30 years.

Dorothy ZbornakSophia Petrillo5. For someone who has never seen or heard about The Golden Girls (is that even possible??), why should they come see this show? Not having any previous knowledge, how do you think this show will still appeal to them? This is a show that appeals to everyone with a sense of humor. What was clever about the original show was its voice and how it tackled topical and interesting subjects – with a healthy dose of laughter and cheesecake. I think it would be impossible to watch this show and not go home and watch re-runs.

6. If you had to choose five episodes of The Golden Girls to watch on a repetitive loop, which episodes would you choose? To choose from so many! I always enjoyed when "Rose" and "Blanche" hit the boards – whether practicing tap dancing in the house "The Operation" or when all of them don those great costumes in "Henny Penny – Straight No Chaser."

The sequence I think I love the most is in "A Piece of Cake" when "Dorothy" celebrates her birthday at Mr Ha-Ha’s – and she loathes every minute of it up until a kid grants her birthday wish with a pie in Mr Ha-Ha’s face. I adore the "Dorothy" and "Blanche's" rivalry that arises in "Journey to the Centre of Attention" when they both vie for attention at the Rusty Anchor.

"Old Friends" is a beautifully written episode that demonstrates just how much heart the television series had. "Sophia" befriends someone at the pier who has Alzheimer’s. I think it tackles such heavy issues in such a caring and delicate manner.

Blanche DevereauxRue McClanahan7. In 2009, I had the honor of getting to interview Rue McClanahan. If you could have interviewed Rue, what would you have wanted to ask her? I’d have loved to talk to Rue about all the many roles she had in her life. I’d be interested about how much of herself went into each role, and how much did she create herself as a performer. Rue of course kept all her Golden Girls wardrobe – and I’d love to find out if she possibly found an occasion to wear so many shoulder pads!

8. There was an ad that came through my Facebook feed to order a mug with the following: "Live like Rose, Dress like Blanche, Think like Dorothy, and Speak like Sophia." If you had to live by these sayings, how would you "Live like Rose, Dress like Blanche, Think like Dorothy, and Speak like Sophia"? I think I very much follow this mantra, Live like "Rose" intuitively. As a creator, a writer, an artist; I’m eternally optimistic and in a way live in my own little creative world. Dressing like "Blanche" is about knowing your best assets and putting your best foot forward. Thinking like "Dorothy" is about being analytical and sincere with a level-head. I would however like to have a few more zingers like "Sophia," but I’d like to think I speak my mind.

9. If you had to live your life according to The Golden Girls, what are five lessons you learned from watching the show?

  1.  You’re a very lucky person if you can count your best friends on one hand.
  2. Cheesecake is one of the greatest desserts (my Grandmother also taught me that one).
  3. It’s ok to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.
  4. What you think are flaws can be your greatest strengths.
  5. The older you get, the better you get. Unless you’re a banana.

10. Which Golden Girl are you most like? It’s a coin toss – I don’t know if I should be telling someone to "go to sleep and pray for brains" or praying for myself.

Jonathan Rockefeller and "The Girls", Photo Credit: Alexie HayMore on Jonathan:

Jonathan Rockefeller is the co-founder of Rockefeller Productions, a company that combines film, theatre, animation, puppetry and television. He also devotes time to philanthropic work furthering childhood literacy and appreciation of the arts. Last year, Jonathan was selected as a "Men of Influence" by Men’s Style Australia for his work in children’s theater and literacy.

The U.S. production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, based on the much beloved children’s book by Eric Carle, garnered a Drama Desk and an Off-Broadway Alliance nomination and still plays to sold-out houses in NYC. The original production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show debuted to a sell-out season at the Sydney Festival January 2015, and will continue to tour Australia and New Zealand through 2017. Beyond the stage, Jonathan and Eric Carle Studios teamed up to produce and direct an animated version of 10 Little Rubber Ducks based on Mr. Carle’s book of the same name and narrated by Bernadette Peters, that debuted at the UK’s Bath Film Festival in December.

Prior to his work with Eric Carle, Jonathan co-wrote and produced the puppet-parody Thank You for Being a Friend which has been licensed for further productions worldwide. Other projects include the documentary Road to Pride Rock: The Making of the Lion King and the screenplay Coming of Age developed with Screen New South Wales and the Dungog Film Festival’s In the Raw program.

Accolades include a Cannes Lion nomination, multiple Clio and Media Awards, High Commendations at Australian Cinematographer’s Guild [ASC], Best Television Current Affairs at the National Media Awards for an unvarnished documentary about life on the street in Boy from the Blue Room, and "Best Unproduced Screenplay" at the Aus MTV Awards for Satisfaction, a satirical tale of becoming an assistant on the "world’s most expensive perfume commercial."

By complete coincidence, Jonathan was a protégé of Baz Luhrmann, with a career that began during film school. At age 17, he convinced his formidable mentor to take him on as an apprentice by literally sitting in a gutter outside Baz’s house with an ambitious cardboard sign declaring "Bazmark or Bust." Jonathan worked with Baz on the US production of La Boheme and the Chanel No 5 commercial featuring Nicole Kidman. A book inspired by his time working under Baz Luhmrann is currently being competed.

Monday
Oct132014

Call Answered: Lucie Pohl: Hi, Hitler

Lucie Pohl"Call Me Adam" chats with actress, comedian, and playwright Lucie Pohl about her one-woman show Hi, Hitler, which returns to NYC after a sold out Edinburgh Fringe Festival run, a sold out debut on London’s West End and a sold-out off-Broadway preview run at 59E59. Hi, Hitler plays from October 22-November 2 at IRT Theater in NYC (154 Christopher Street, #3B). Click here for tickets!

Hi, Hitler is about a German-Jew, who grows up in a wild family of artists, is fascinated by der Fuhrer from age four and uprooted from Hamburg to NYC at eight. As Bertolt Brecht’s real-life niece, Lucie yearns for normalcy, but being different seems to run in her bloodline and escaping her inherited high-drama-destiny might just be impossible. A pinch of Hitler, a cup of hip hop and a dash of Hasselhoff.

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

1. From October 22-November 2, your show, Hi, Hitler is returning to NYC after a sold out Edinburgh Fringe Festival run, a sold out debut on London’s West End and a sold-out off-Broadway preview run at 59E59. What excites you about this return? What does it mean to you to have so many runs of the show? I am excited to bring the show back to NY because to me it is a New York show. People here connect to it unlike anywhere else. It's time to have a longer run of the show so a broader audience can see it. There are 8 million people in New York and only around 300 have seen my show! This doesn't seem fair, don't you think?

I am excited about this return because I feel like the show is ready now. After 28 back to back shows in Edinburgh with completely different kinds of audiences every night, I have learned a lot. I can't wait to share that with my people in New York. Also, I think the show has potential to go further and I'd like to have some people come and see it that might have a thought or two about that. So far, I am not tired of doing the show yet. Having so many runs is thrilling because each run is different and has me searching for something new. I am growing with the show.

2. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Hi, Hitler? The answer to the meaning of life. Note: If that happens then I'd like them to please come backstage and share that with me. But if it doesn't, I will settle for a huge smile on their face, a night that they won't soon forget and the desire to secretly listen to some David Hasselhoff music when they get home.

Lucie Pohl in "Hi, Hitler"3. You are a German-Jew who grew up fascinated by Hitler. What was it about him that intrigued you so much? As someone who was so interested in Hitler, how did your uprooting from Hamburg, Germany to NYC affect you? Let's be honest, we're all a bit fascinated by Hitler aren't we? The most evil man of all time! And the silliest too! I grew up in a family of artists who argued and discussed and argued and discussed until the sun came up and there was no more cigarettes to burn. My father is German, my mother a Romanian Jew. They are post-war kids and the war was a big topic. But not only for my parents. So, as a little girl I picked up on the fact that this man, that so many people were talking about constantly, was important and I started to doodle him all the time holding up a peace sign, because that's what I thought he was doing. I was too young to understand what evil meant. I think it was my way of digesting the mysticism that was created through hearing the name but not understanding what all the fuss was about. At the same time, I'd like to think that I was already a comedian back then and recognized how comical of a figure he was. I remember coming home from the dentist after a painful cavity filling when I was around 6 years old and my mother popping in a VHS of The Great Dictator to make me feel better.

When we moved to New York the kids at school started saying things like, "Oh you're German! So you're a Nazi, right?" At that the point I was 8 years old and I think I understood more about Word War II, Hitler, and the concept of evil. I remember being embarrassed of being German and always saying, "Yes, I'm German but I'm Jewish too." We had a little figurine that made fun of Hitler that I had brought my parents from Portugal when I was 6 years old. It's Hitler doing the Nazi salute but his hat is pulled over his eyes and his pants are falling down so his butt is hanging out in the back. It was a joke, obviously, but when we moved to the States I was petrified that my American friends wouldn't get it and think we were Nazis so I made my parents hide it.

Lucie Pohl in "Hi, Hitler"4. What, if any, has been the reaction to your show's title Hi, Hitler? Generally I have had really great reactions to the title. People laugh most of the time, which is what I want! When I first workshoped the show in NY, I wrote a very naive email to the German Consulate asking if they would like to list my show in their event calendar since I am a German born performer. They answered back: "Absolutely not. The title is too close to the original, if you know what we mean." I fell off my chair laughing and considered printing postcards that say: "Hi, Hitler - Better Than The Original." Two days later The Jewish Week, North America's biggest Jewish publication requested an interview with me.

5. What has writing and performing this show done for you? What have you learned about yourself through this process? Writing this show has given me my vocation back. I was struggling with myself. It has been the most liberating experience of my life so far. My director Jessi D. Hill and I also very consciously kept the show extremely simple in terms of set, sound and lights. Not only because it doesn't need much but also because this means I can basically do it anywhere, anytime. As an actor this is an incredible experience, because you are so dependent on so many things. Through the show I learned to trust myself to never say never and that anything is possible. We make up the rules.

Lucie Pohl, "Hi, Hitler" promo shot6. What was the most fascinating thing you learned putting this show together? What was the hardest/most painful thing you learned? The biggest eye opener for me doing this show was how many people can connect and identify with my story. In its essence, the show is a fish out of water story. When I first started writing it, I thought no one will be able to connect to this, no one will care. At the beginning of John Leguizamo's Freak he comes out on stage and says, "All my Latinos bark" and I thought, God, I don't have a community at all, what am I going to say, "All my German-Jewish-Romanian-American-People-Who-Don't-Know-Who-The-Hell-They-Are-Or-Where-They-Belong yodel?" But I was wrong, I learned that most of us have felt that sense of not belonging in one way or another - whether it is because of nationality, the people we want to love, or how we want to live or life. It was a beautiful experience to learn that.

The hardest thing I had to learn was that not everyone will get it. Some people will hate the show, some people won't connect, not everyone will love it and that's a good thing. That was hard to learn, but important.

Lucie Pohl7. What is it like being the niece of Bertolt Brecht? Do you feel this artistry has influenced yours? Do you feel like you have to live up to some sort of expectation? Being related to someone who gave the world so much is an honor and inspiration! Imagine if I was related to Hitler, that would blow. Everyone would hate me for no reason. And my show wouldn't work.

I grew up with Brecht stories. One of my favorites is this: Brecht's wife Helene Weigl hated The Threepenny Opera so much she threw the manuscript away because she thought it was absolute garbage. Brecht , of course, rescued the piece from the trash bin and...the rest is history! Crazy to think that it could have disappeared into a black hole!

I am very much influenced by Brecht's work, this would be the case even if I wasn't related to him. The theater I feel most passionate about always has elements of alienation in it, for example. But more than that I think I am drawn to his humor. He had a very humorous way of looking at life and art.

As far as expectations go, yes there is definitely a level of that in my family. But to be honest the toughest expectation to live up to, is my own!

Lucie Pohl8. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright/performer? I'm gonna get a little cheesy here, but sometimes the truth hurts: Every single day something inspires me to write and perform. A bird on my window sill, a siren in the distance, a smelly bum singing Doo-Wop on a train, a Chinese lady digging through garbage in between Wall Street millionaires stumbling out of douchey bars, a song, a book, a great film, a moment ---- in short --- Life!

I grew up in a family of writers and actors, so it's been passed down to me but I had to struggle to make it my own. To have the ability to make a room full of people dream, laugh, think and be moved is the greatest gift of all. So every time I do a show I am inspired to wake up the next day and become a writer and performer all over again.

9. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? John Cleese, Eddie Murphy, Peter Brooke, Whoopi Goldberg, Pedro Almadovar, Dave Chappelle, Steve Martin, Quentin Tarantino, Ana Deavere Smith, Lorne Michaels and El Cigala to name a few.

10. What's the best advice you've ever received? S**t in all four corners of the stage.

11. How do you want to be remembered? Preferably alive.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? The power to be invisible. I'd sit on people's laps on the train, listen to every word in their conversations and pee in politician's coffee cups in the morning.

13. If you could be any original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? Lemon.

14. Favorite skin care product? Sex.

Lucie PohlMore on Lucie:

Lucie Pohl is a German born NYC raised actor, comedian, writer and solo show performer. Her solo shows Hi, Hitler and Cry Me A Liver have been performed all over the East Coast, the West End in London and the Edinburg Fringe Festival to great critical acclaim. Film: Magi (J-Plan), Not Fade Away (Paramount Vantage), El Cielo Es Azul (Vox3 Films) a.o.. Theatre: Three Graces (Immigrant’s Theater Project/3-LD), Alma Mahler: Widow of the 4 Arts (The Los Angeles Theatre), Vocal Migrations (LaMaMa). MFA in Acting from the University of the Arts in Berlin.

Thursday
Oct092014

Call Answered: Richard Tanner: small PARTS: Hollywood Fringe Festival Encore Series

Richard Tanner"Call Me Adam" chats with actor and writer Richard Tanner about his one-man show small PARTS, which is enjoying an extended run in the Hollywood Fringe Festival Encore Series from October 15-November 19 at The Lounge Theatre in Hollywood, CA (6201 Santa Monica Blvd, between Vine St and N. El Centro Ave).

small PARTS is part cautionary tale, part irreverent skewering of show business, using multimedia to chronicle the ins, outs, highs, lows, and mind boggling absurdities of Richard's 20+ year career as a working actor in over 75 feature films and primetime shows including NBC's smash hit The Golden Girls as "Young Stan," The West Wing, CBS' The Agency, and ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!

For more on Richard be sure to visit http://richardtanner.net!

1. After a successful run in the Hollywood Fringe Festival, your one-man show, small PARTS, is making a return for 6 performances only in their Encore Series. What excites you about having this extended run? THAT IT’S ONLY ONCE A WEEK, AND DOESN’T IMPINGE ON MY ALL-IMPORTANT WEEKEND-LEISURE TIME. LOL 

THE SERIOUS ANSWER, OF COURSE, IS THAT IT ALLOW ME TO SHARE MY STORY WITH MORE PEOPLE, RE-SHARE IT WITH THOSE WHO’VE INDICATED THEY WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN, AND CONTINUE TO PERFORM WHAT IS, FOR ME, AN EVER-EVOLVING PERFORMANCE.

2. What made you originally want to write a show about your 20-year career in Hollywood? NO ONE ELSE OFFERED TO. LOL IN TRUTH, I’D NEVER SEEN A ONE-MAN SHOW THAT ADDRESSED THE SAME THEME.  I’D SEEN LOT OF PIECES ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT PURSUING, OR LETTING GO OF ONE’S DREAM.  BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT LETTING GO OF ONE’S DREAM – AGAINST ALL URGES/ADVICE TO THE CONTRARY? (AND YES, IT’S A COMEDY. :)

Richard Tanner in "small PARTS"3. How does your show differ from other one-person shows about Hollywood careers? UNLIKE MANY THAT I’VE SEEN, IT’S NOT A COMPENDIUM OF "AND THEN I DID..." RATHER, IT’S MORE OF A CAUTIONARY TALE ABOUT THE STUFF NO ONE TELLS YOU WHEN YOU’RE STARTING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD. (I DID MENTION IT’S A COMEDY, RIGHT?)  ALSO – AND VERY IMPORTANT TO ME – IT’S NOT JUST A "TALKING HEAD" SHOW – IT RELIES HEAVILY ON MULTI-MEDIA; PROJECTIONS, SOUND, ANIMATION. THERE ARE EVEN SUBTITLES WHICH ACT AS A SECOND "CHARACTER." AND DID I MENTION AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION?

4. How do you feel the Fringe Festival helped nurture this show in a way that another festival might not? AS A FRINGE FESTIVAL VIRGIN (IT’S NICE TO STILL BE A VIRGIN AT SOMETHING), I CAN’T SPEAK TO OTHER FESTIVALS. I CAN SAY THAT FROM THE START, THE HOLLYWOOD FRINGE EMPHASIZED COMMUNITY – ENCOURAGING ALL PARTICIPANTS TO SEE THEIR COLLEAGUES SHOWS, INVITE THEM TO THEIRS, CROSS-PROMOTE SHOWS, SHARE TIPS, SOCIALIZE. AND DRINK. A LOT. LOL

Richard Tanner5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing small PARTS? TO NEVER, EVER MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES I DID. (SEE A PATTERN, HERE?  MAKE A JOKE, THEN GIVE A SERIOUS ANSWER.) FIRST AND FOREMOST, I HOPE THEY’RE ENTERTAINED. AND NEVER, EVER BORED. I ALSO HOPE THAT THEY’RE A BIT CAUGHT OFF GUARD BY WHY I HOPE ARE UNEXPECTED ELEMENTS – IN BOTH FORM AND CONTENT. THE MOST GRATIFYING RESPONSES I’VE HAD HAVE BEEN, "I DIDN’T WANT IT TO END,” AND, “I’M NOT AN ACTOR, BUT I COMPLETELY IDENTIFIED WITH YOU."

6. Out of all the TV shows you were featured on, one of my favorites was as "Young Stan" on The Golden Girls. Looking back, what did you enjoy about being on that show? What did you learn from The Girls? IT WAS THE FIRST PRIME-TIME, HIT SHOW ON WHICH I’D BEEN CAST, WHICH WAS A THRILL. IT WAS ALSO MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH A THREE-CAMERA, LIVE AUDIENCE SHOW, WHICH, FOR SOMEONE WITH A THEATER BACKROUND LIKE MYSELF, WASEXTREMELY SATISFYING.

AS FOR THE "GIRLS," BETTY WHITE WAS EXACTLY WHO SHE APPEARS TO BE (NOT ALWAYS THE CASE IN HOLLYWOOD), AND ESTELLE GETTY WENT ON TO DO A READING OF A PLAY I WROTE, MYSTERIES OF THE RAINFOREST.

Richard Tanner7. Out of the 75 feature films you've been in and TV shows you've been on, are you able to pick out a few favorites? What made them your favorite? I’M ASKED THIS QUESTION A LOT, AND WITH NO FALSE MODESTY, I CAN’T. (AND NOT BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL MY "CHILDREN," AND I LOVE THEM EQUALLY, AS I’VE HEARD SOME ACTORS SAY. LOL). IN TRUTH, MOST OF MY CAREER "CHOICES" HAVE BEEN WHETHER TO GET A PAYCHECK OR NOT. :)  I WILL SAY THAT I’VE WORKED WITH SOME DIRECTORS WHO IMPRESSED ME GREATLY WITH THEIR ABILITY TO STAY CALM UNDER PRESSURE, AND THEIR GENUINE UNDERSTANDING OF – AND KINDNESS TOWARDS – ACTORS. WEST WING WAS SATISFYING IN THAT REGARD, AND BECAUSE OF THE EXTRAORDINARY QUALITY OF THE WRITING. (THE FACT THAT IS WAS HUGELY POPULAR DIDN’T HURT, EITHER.) AND THERE ARE SOME INDEPENDENT FILM PROJECTS WHICH REMAIN DEAR TO ME BECAUSE THEY ALLOWED ME TO STRETCH AS AN ACTOR.

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY, DON’T PICK AT SCABS, AND ALWAYS WEAR CLEAN UNDERWEAR IN CASE YOU’RE HIT BY BUS. IF YOU COME SEE THE SHOW, YOU’LL GET TO HEAR—AND LAUGH AT -- PLENTY OF THE REALLY BAD ADVICE I’VE RECEIVED OVER THE YEARS! AND HERE’S A GREAT INSIGHT I RECEIVED: EVERY AUDITION IS A CHANCE TO DO WHAT WE, AS ACTORS, LOVE TO DO MOST IN THE WORLD – ACT. (PRETTY GOOD, HUH?)

9. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor? THAT IN ORDER TO SURVIVE – NOT JUST AS AN ACTOR, BUT IN THE WORLD – ONE MUST MAINTAIN A BALANCE. BETWEEN WORK AND PLAY. GENEROSITY AND SELF-INTEREST. SERIOUSNESS AND SILLINESS. SOLITITUDE AND COMPANY. SELF- CONFIDENCE AND OPENNESS TO CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. AND ESPECIALLY – AS AN ACTOR – THE ABILITY TO MAINTAIN A THICK SKIN AND AN OPEN HEART (FREQUENTLY SIMULATENOUSLY). YOU TRY IT. :)

10. How do you want to be remembered? FOR GIVING SMART, FUNNY, MEMORABLE ANSWERS TO INTERVIEW QUESTIONS.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? TO CONTROL TIME IN ORDER TO HAVE ENOUGH OF IT TO DO EVERYTHING I’D LIKE TO DO. THAT, AND THE POWER TO GET IMMEDIATE SATISFACTION EVERY TIME I CALL THE PHONE COMPANY.

12. If you could be any original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? RED. (THAT’S A FLAVOR, ISN’T IT?) 

Richard TannerMore on Richard:

Richard Tanner has Guest-Starred in dozens of primetime episodics, from THE GOLDEN GIRLS (in which he first came to the public’s attention as "Young Stan") to his recurring role on CBS’ THE AGENCY. Other notable appearances include THE WEST WING , JAG, MONK and STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE. Some less notable appearances include the direct-to-DVD films BUDZ HOUSE, STONERVILLE (opposite the late, great Leslie Nielsen) and C’MON MAN, opposite Chris Rock’s brother, Tony. Forthcoming features include SPANNERS, THE ADVOCATE, and ODD BRODSKY, in which he plays…Quentin Tarantino(!?)

A native New Yorker and Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Cornell, Richard toured the NYC cabaret circuit with his songwriting partner, Stephen Flaherty (RAGTIME, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, SEUSSICAL). Subsequently, he worked extensively with improv and sketch groups on both coasts. Thespianically (?), he appeared in the West Coast premiere of JOINED AT THE HEAD at the Pasadena Playhouse, was an original cast member/co-creator of the long running Off-Broadway hit, GRANDMA SYLVIA’S FUNERAL, and portrayed both Eddie Cantor and Dean Martin in the Los Angeles workshop of the original musical, SAMMY!, directed by Debbie Allen.

He is a member of L.A.’s oldest storytelling collective, The Story Salon, and regularly performs his original stories at such events as "Pinata" at the Bang Comedy Theatre, "Wordplay" at the Fake Theatre, and "Tasty Words" at Every Picture Tells a Story. He’s the founder of The Drama Club, a play-reading salon, and author of the play, MYSTERIES OF THE RAINFOREST, which was workshopped with late Estelle Getty, and subsequently under the sponsorship of Michael Patrick King (SEX IN THE CITY).

In his spare time (besides dropping names) he’s written for such publications as Esquire, The Village Voice, and The N.Y Daily News , and has completed the requisite number of unproduced screenplays, as per California Civil Code, section 38-41.

Monday
Aug112014

Call Answered: Alexander Baron: Vote For Me: A Musical Debate

Alexander Baron"Call Me Adam" chats one of the youngest producers he's met Alexander Baron about producing his show Vote For Me: A Musical Debate playing from August 7-16 at the Roy Arias Stage IV in NYC (300 West 43rd Street). Click here for tickets!

1. What made you want to produce Vote For Me: A Musical Debate? Originally, we had met with the writers regarding other pieces of work. However, once introduced to Vote For Me I fell in love with the musical. It is absolutely hysterical and the music is so catchy that I just couldn't resist.

2. How did you first get involved with this show? I had a meeting with the writers regarding another production, they also sent along a copy of Vote For Me and after reading it once, I saw visualized the production and was immediately hooked!

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I want audiences to walk away feeling like they witnessed a unique theatrical experience. I want them to feel that they can't miss the next show!

4. What has been the best part about working on this show thus far? The best part so far has been finally seeing the show come together. From sitting in the very first rehearsal to now, the actors have worked extremely hard with their roles and to see how much the show as developed and grown is incredible.

Danielle Beckmann in "Vote For Me"5. This run of Vote For Me: A Musical Debate, will be playing at the Roy Arias Theatre from August 7-16. What makes the  Roy Arias theatre the perfect place for this run of the show? Roy Arias makes it the perfect place to run because the set doesn't require a lot of space. Additionally, with a smaller sized theatre is makes the performance much more intimate and personal.

6. At such a young age, you are already the founder of your own production company, Baron Brother Productions. What made you want to start your own production company? I wanted to start my own production company because theatre has become such a passion of mine that I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have a ton of goals I hope to fulfill, and by making my own production company only helps me further my goals and passion for theatre.

7. What have you learned about yourself from running your own production company? From running my own production company I have learned that it's okay to reach out for help when its necessary. Delegation is one of the keys to success.

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? Open Your Ears and Close Your Mouth.

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? The ability to read peoples minds.

10. If you could be any life saver flavor, which one would you be? Spearmint - In my opinion that is the only good flavor!

BONUS QUESTION:

11. How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered for the determination and passion I have for what I do. I want people to say: I have worked with him, and I have never seen someone work harder more than him while enjoying it all.

Alexander BaronMore on Alexander:

Alexander Baron is a rising senior at Byram Hills High School in Armonk, New York. He has been acting on stage since the age of 5! This past September, a one-act play of his made its way to the Manhattan Repertory Theatre Stage. He comes to this production with extensive experience from Byram Hills HS Events. He currently is Resident Producer at BHHS, participates in the Stage Program, and plays Varsity Lacrosse.

Thursday
May292014

Call Answered: Catherine LeFrere 42nd Street Gateway Playhouse Interview

Catherine LeFrere, Photo Credit: David PerlmanCall Me Adam chats with award winning actress Catherine LeFrere about starring as "Dorothy Brock" in Gateway Playhouse's (215 South Country Road, Bellport, NY 11713) production of the Tony Award winning musical 42nd Street which runs through June 8. Click here for tickets!

For more on Catherine be sure to visit http://catherinelefrere.com and follow her on Twitter and YouTube!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I don't know that I can pinpoint a specific person or moment but my earliest memories I have are of myself watching the VHS tape of Meet Me in St. Louis starring Judy Garland. I had a costume that looked just like the tennis outfit Judy wears to sing, "The Boy Next Door" and I would wear the outfit and sing along to the movie over and over and over. I can't remember a time after that when I didn't know I was going to be an actor. So yeah, let's go with Judy Garland. She's a good one. :)

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Oh god that list is so long! So many talented people in this business whose work I admire. However, there are a few really talented hot female playwrights I'd really love to get the opportunity to tackle. Sarah Ruhl, Leslye Headland, and Annie Baker write really gutsy and interesting relationships and I would just relish the opportunity to work on and/or help develop a play by one of these fierce ladies.

3. What made you want to audition for Gateway Playhouse's production of 42nd Street? Haha, pretty simple…I got an appointment from my manager saying, "Please book this and I will come see you in it." I laughed and told him I thought I was too young for the role but it turns out to be the perfect fit. I love this musical and this role so much. I could do this show for years and not get bored. Also, the opportunity to work with Randy Skinner was a huge draw…he's a legend and knows this show inside and out. I've learned so much in the short time I've gotten to work with him. Oh and my manager has already come to see me in it!

4. What do you identify most with about "Dorothy Brock"? Someone came up to me at the opening night party and said to me, "this is the first time I haven't HATED 'Dorothy'!" I won't give anything away but she's definitely a character that can rub the audience the wrong way and some would even say she is "the villain of 42nd Street."

Catherine LeFrere as "Dorothy Brock" in Gateway Playhouse's production of "42nd Street"I don't like to approach a character by starting out thinking she's a nasty bitch. Instead I like to think, "okay why does she behave in this way that seems off-putting to everyone around her?" You have to make her human and justify (for yourself) why she is doing the things she is doing so that the audience doesn't immediately write her off. For me, "Dorothy" is sometimes not so nice because she's unhappy due to something she's not getting from her romantic life. I'm not saying that this excuses her actions, but I think we can all relate to not behaving in the best possible way when we are unhappy in our personal lives. Even though she's a star, she's vulnerable and insecure and during the first half of the show, not very happy.

It's most fun to get to play a "villain" when that character has the opportunity to redeem herself and end up in a different place from where she started. I love that I get to do that every night with "Dorothy."

5. What makes the Gateway Playhouse a great place to perform? I'm having so much fun! Such a great group of people who genuinely want to bring quality Broadway theater to this community here in Bellport. They're really good to their actors and I'm just so grateful for the opportunity to share the stage with such talented folks! Sometimes it's also really nice to be out of the city for a few weeks! It's like camp, we have bonfires after the show some nights.

6. Why is this performance dedicated to your grandmother? How has she influenced you? My grandmother passed a year ago and she would've loved to have seen me in this. She didn't get to see me do too much in her final years and she lived during this time period and seeing me sing these songs would've just made her so happy. She was the only other artist in my family and always encouraged me to follow my dreams. I recently moved and finally had the space to hang some of the paintings she painted many years ago. The day I hung them, I got the call that I booked this show. So in a way, I feel like she's with me.

Cast of The Gateway Playhouse's production of "42nd Street"7. What do you enjoy most about performing with this cast? They're such fierce dancers!! Everyone is really generous and has been since the first day of rehearsal. The tap dancing is really the star of this show and so we all feel like an equal ensemble. We also had a very limited rehearsal and tech process and last week I believe we performed this show 11 times. You bond with the group of people that you get that tired and stressed with!

8. What do you get from your theatrical shows that you don't get from your television/film work? There is nothing like having a live audience. I really think that relationship between performer and audience is my favorite part of the job. I love getting a feel every night for the energy of the house…are they gonna laugh after I say that punch line? Okay maybe not tonight, and you have less than a second to move on or the comedic timing dies! You have to be totally present and there really is nothing better than hearing laughter or applause!!

Catherine LeFrere, Photo Credit: James DanielsUsually on a film or TV set everyone is quiet and it can be hard if you love to feed off the audience reaction--which I do! However there are many lovely elements of film/TV…like getting a second or third try if you feel like you didn't get it right. In the theater, you only get one shot!!

9. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I've learned that I'm far more shy in real life than I am onstage! I think lots of actors will say that's why we become actors…we love attention but we're way more comfortable being someone else. I think public speaking as Catherine LeFrere is really scary but I'll say anything you want me to say as "Dorothy" in front of hundreds of people! I just really feel my most comfortable up there on that stage bringing joy to people--as cheesy as that sounds! I also try to take good care of myself because it's really hard to be in a show when you are not feeling 100 percent. So sometimes I can't go to loud bars or stay out late, but it sort of comes with the territory. If I get hurt or sick, I can't work!

Catherine LeFrere, Photo Credit: David Perlman10. What's the best advice you've ever received? There's only one YOU! And only you can do your version of the character or the scene. Also, "it's all wrong, until it's right!"

I think starting out in the business I was trying to make myself more like everyone else and it took me a while but I finally came to realize that what makes me unique is my calling card and that is what is going to make me stand out from all the other girls. There are SO many talented people in this business. Sometimes being different is a GOOD thing. The best thing I can do is walk into a room and be like, "okay, this is what I've got! Hopefully you'll like it, but if not, there'll be someone else who will." I can't always convince myself of this, but usually when I do, something good comes of it.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To go back in time and meet some of the greats! I'd love to meet Shakespeare and Bob Fosse. I'm such a theater nerd! I'd imagine it would be like the scene in Woody Allen's After Midnight when Owen Wilson goes into a bar and meets all those iconic writers...except in my case it would be the iconic theater greats.

12. Favorite skin care product? I have so many! But one thing I can't live without is my primer. It's amazing! Hourglass makes it and it's called "mineral veil." I wear it under my foundation on stage and it keeps all that cake-y stage makeup from clogging up my skin. Sometimes I wear it by itself and it makes your skin look like porcelain!!

Catherine LeFrere, Photo Credit: David PerlmanMore on Catherine:

Most recently seen in the world premiere of Admit One at NJ Rep and Unlock’d at The Duke on 42nd. Film: The upcoming feature Maybe There’s a Tree. TV: Running Wilde (FOX). NY Theater (selected): The Empress of Sex, Once Upon a Time in New Jersey, The Judy Holliday Story, The Green Knight (Planet Connections Award, Best Featured Actress). Regional (selected): For Worse (NY Stage and Film Festival), As You Like It and The Boys From Syracuse (Shakespeare Theatre of DC), and NOIR (Broadway World Nomination, Best Actress). Graduate of Northwestern University and The School at Steppenwolf. For my grandmother.