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Here's what I've enjoyed seeing or reading so far...hope you enjoy them as well!

Saturday
Sep062014

Adam's Call: Catherine LeFrere: Confessions of a Young Character Actress: A Legend In The Making

On Friday, September 5, 2014, I saw a legend in the making at 54 Below in NYC and that soon to be legend was the one and only Catherine LeFrere, who made her concert debut with Confessions of a Young Character Actress. When a singer opens her show with Judy Garland's "Come Rain or Shine" and you immediately think this is Judy's long lost daughter then you know they have something special. What Catherine has is great voice complimented by a booming stage presence.

From the moment the show started, Catherine engulfed the audience because she made us feel at ease with her talented voice and and self depreciating humor. She made us laugh right from the get-go and that alone enables the audience to sit back and relax.

Catherine LeFrere in "Confessions of a Young Character Actress" at 54 BelowThroughout the night, Catherine took us on her journey of being a character actress from playing "Reno Sweeney" in Anything Goes to her most recent triumph as "Dorothy Brock" in The Gateway Playhouse's production of 42nd Street (directed by three-time Tony nominee Randy Skinner). Some of my favorite moments from the show (yes I am forcing myself to choose a few) were hearing Catherine sing Ella Fitzgerald's versioin of "I'm Old Fashioned," a perfect way set up the evening. Almost every lyric in that song describes a part of Catherine to a tee. "Be Italian" from Nine was also at the top of my list. I loved how Catherine, not only sang this song with an Italian accent, but lead into this song by telling the audience how she gets described as ethnically ambigous and then started singing. Genius. I also adored her rendition of Nancy Wilson/Marilyn Mae's "Guess Who I Saw Today," a powerfully heartbreaking song about a wife who sees her husband out with another woman and then confronts him about it. Catherine really conveyed the emotion of this song. Another great moment was getting to hear Catherine sing "Quarter to Nine" from 42nd Street as "Dorothy Brock." 

Catherine LeFrere in "Confessions of a Young Character Actress" at 54 BelowWithout a doubt, the stand-out number of the evening was Meghan Trainor's "All About The Base." This was the part of the evening where Catherine really triumphed! She had the whole audience in the palm of her hand, singing along with her, while she danced about the stage. You could see all eyes were fixed on Catherine. That is a testament to Catherine's ability to draw her audience in even more so than she already had.

From left to right: Musical Director Brian Nash, Catherine LeFrere, Director Will NunziataNo solo concert is complete without some people helping you behind the scenes. Catherine had quite a team assembled. Her show was directed by Will Nunziata who has directed concerts for such Tony Award winners as Lillias White and Cady Huffman. Will has a great eye for excellence, so it's no doubt why these two teamed up together. Will really knows how to weave a story together using the music as the connectors. In addition to Will, Catherine brought in some of the best musicians out there...from her Musical Director Brian Nash (who works with the amazing Natalie Douglas and Natalie Joy Johnson) to Adam Neely on Bass and Jeremy Yaddaw on drums.

Catherine LeFrere in tech rehearsal for "Confessions of a Young Character Actress" at 54 BelowCatherine is really going places and I hope one place she goes is back to 54 Below to do this concert again! It was the first hour since Joan Rivers' passing that I didn't think about the fact that Joan is gone. Catherine had my full attention and that is one more reason I enjoyed Confessions of a Young Character Actress so much. And speaking of legends, Catherine paid homage to a musical theatre legened who was influential in Catherine's course as an actress, her idol Elaine Stritch. From quotes that Catherine has held onto to singing "You're Getting To Be a Habit With Me" from Elaine's Christmas album Stritch, Catherine chaneled Elaine's energy throughout the show.

When this show comes back around, I can't urge you enough to go see it.

That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!

Tuesday
Aug052014

Adam's Call: Billy Mitchell's Villain DeBlanks at 54 Below: 1000% pure fun and laughter

So last week I attended the second installment of Billy Mitchell's Villain: DeBlanks at 54 Below. I am not sure there is a noun, adjective, or verb strong enough to describe just how brilliant and fun this show is! Billy has written an amazing Whodunit murder mystery, leaving out just enough details for the audience to fill in the blanks. With a rotating cast of Broadway stars, Villain: DeBlanks is a mash-up evening of murder mystery meets Adult Mad Libs.

I have seen a few of Billy's original shows and this one is by far just 1000% pure fun and laughter! For an hour straight, I had a smile on my face and lots of noise coming out of my mouth from the huge amounts of laughter being spewed. 

July 31 cast of Billy Mitchell's "Villain DeBlanks," from left to right Adam Feldman, Hedda Lettuce, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Jen Cody, Christine Pedi, and Hugh HysellThe particular cast I saw last week was Time Out New York's Adam Feldman, Drag legend Hedda Lettuce, and Broadway's Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Jen Cody, Christine Pedi, Hugh Hysell, and host Heather Shisler. The level of talent on that stage was quite remarkable doubly so, considering the fact that the script wasn't even complete by showtime as the cast awaits for the audience participation. The way the cast tore into Billy's script and brought out the hysterics of an already funny script was unbelieveable! 

July 31 Cast of Billy Mitchell's "Villain DeBlanks" (minus Adam Feldman), from left to right, Heather Shisler, Hugh Hysell, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Jen Cody, Christine Pedi, Billy Mitchell (writer), Hedda LettuceBilly is such a strong writer and really knows how to reel an audience in. As of now, there is one chance left to see this incredibly funny, audience driven, show. This Thursday, August 7, 11:30pm, 54 Below Billy Mitchell's Villain: DeBlanks. Click here for tickets!

That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!

Tuesday
Jul292014

Adam's Call: Here She Comes Again: 54 Does Dolly Parton: Paradise Road

Cast of "Here She Comes Again: 54 Does Dolly Parton", Photo Credit: Gio MollaWhere do I start with just how incredible the sold-out concert Here She Comes Again: 54 Does Dolly Parton was? Scott Coulter put together a terrific, terrific evening of Dolly's music. He really spanned her whole career and included some of my favorite songs. Sure her big hits "I Will Always Love You," "Coat of Many Colors," "Jolene," "9 to 5," "Here You Come Again," and "Islands In The Stream" were included, but Scott dug deep into Dolly's catalog of music and picked quite a few songs that really highlighted her songwriting ability such as "Down From Dover," "Single Women," and "Two Doors Down," just to highlight a few.

I am a huge Dolly Parton fan, for it was her movie "Straight Talk" that really inspired me to want to be in the entertainment business and have my own radio talk show. Dolly Parton is definitely one of our country's legendary entertainers, but what not everyone realizes is just how magnificent her song writing ability is. Dolly is the queen of story telling when it comes to lyrics. Nobody does it quite like her. It was great to see some of these "story" songs put in the spotlight.

Scott Coulter singing "I Will Always Love You", Photo Credit: Gio MollaKT Sullivan singing "Coat of Many Colors", Photo Credit: Gio MollaI wasn't sure how I would feel about a whole evening of Dolly music sung by other people, but Scott Coulter put together a dynamite cast of singers who seamlessly made each song they sang their own. While I had the Dolly version in my head previously, these singers, made me fall in love with their versions and allowed me to see some of these songs in a new light. After the concert, I told Scott, he has to find a way to get this evening recorded on a CD. For I would listen to it over and over again. The talent on that stage was unreal! Scott really brought in the best of the best!

Scott himself, brought "Two Doors Down" and "I Will Always Love You" to life with his magnificent voice. "Two Doors Down" was the perfect way to start off the show, for it's upbeat, fun, and showcased Dolly's story telling right off the bat!

Jessica Hendy singing "Get Out and Stay Out" from Broadway's "9 to 5", Photo Credit: Gio MollaFay Ann Lee singing "Jolene", Photo Credit: Gio MollaKT Sullivan, "The Queen of Cabaret," certainly made "Coat of Many Colors" all hers. She captured the love Dolly had for the coat her mama made as well as the heartache that was brought by the kids making fun of her for wearing it. Jessica Hendy took "Get Out and Stay Out" (from Dolly's Broadway debut musical "9 to 5") to new heights with her booming vocals while Fay Ann Lee shined bright with "Jolene" (the song Dolly wrote about the bank teller in Tennesse who was trying to steal her husband from her). She really conveyed the hurt Dolly must have been feeling during this time in her marraige. Lucia Spina's version of "Here You Come Again" definitely made me feel like I was being transported back to a Dolly Parton concert, but at the same time, I was hearing this song anew.

Lucia Spina singing "Here You Come Again", Photo Credit: Gio MollaAlex Getlin singing "Down From Dover", Photo Credit: Gio MollaI was so glad Scott included "Down From Dover" in this show. He chose perfectly with Alex Getlin to sing this song. "Down From Dover" was written in 1969 and was considered quite controversial at that time. It's a song about a teenage girl who finds out she's pregnant and with the guy no where to be found and rejected by her family, she still holds out hope that her lover might return, but in the end, she sadly delivers the baby on her own, only to find out the baby was stillborn. Alex truly found the perfect blending of powerful and emotional singing. She dove into this song and brought out the right amount of raw emotion.

Mary Lane Haskell singing "The Seeker", Photo Credit: Gio MollaOne real treat of the evening was getting to hear one of Dolly Parton's nieces sing one of her songs. Mary Lane Haskell brought the house down with her version of "The Seeker." This song is all about asking G-d for help. A real Gospel number, Mary Lane, got the spirit moving so to speak, and had everyone clapping along! She really let the Almighty hear just how much she was looking for his guidance.

Tim Di Pasqua singing "What A Heartache", Photo Credit: Gio MollaOne of my most beloved singers was also featured in this evening Dolly Parton music, Tim Di Pasqua. The first time I had ever heard Tim and Scott sing was back in 2005 when they were featured together in first ever "Leading Men Concert" that was held at Joe's Pub. That night, I was blown away by their talent, and now to get to see them again, singing Dolly Parton songs no less, was even more special! Tim sang a rousing rendition of Dolly's song "What A Heartache," which I had always thought was about losing love, but what I learned from Scott that night was that Dolly actually wrote the song about one of her friends she worked with closely that got mistreated by the industry. Tim certainly sang his heart out and I loved that Scott picked Tim to do it for Tim really knows how to get to the heart and soul of a song, as he does so eliqently with his own music.

Natalie Douglas singing "Single Women", Photo Credit: Gio MollaAnother one of my favorite singers featured in the evening was the brilliantly talented Natalie Douglas. She really brought some soul into the evening with her rendition of "Single Women," a great song about a woman going out for a night on the town, hoping to not go home alone. What can I say about Miss Natalie Douglas that has not been said before, only that when she opens her mouth, right away excellence is coming out. She certainly got the essence of what "Single Women" was about.

Carole J. Bufford singing "Hard Candy Christmas", Photo Credit: Gio MollaI was also thrilled that Scott included yet another one of my most cherished songs is sung by Dolly, but written by Carol Hall: "Hard Candy Christmas" from "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." This song has special meaning to me as it was one of the songs featured on my "Ultimate Survival Mix" when I was going through a rough personal time some years back. This song helped me remember that I would be "Fine and Dandy and that I wouldn't let sorrow bring me way down." Bringing new context to this song was Carole J. Bufford. She tore this song up a level I have not heard! With her grand vocal quality, she certainly will be "fine and dandy" for many years to come!

Scott Coulter and Michael Holland singing "Islands In The Stream", Photo Credit: Gio MollaTwo other fun moments in the night was when Scott and Michael Holland (who played piano and guitar) did a duet of "Islands In The Stream." I wholeheartedly agreed with Scott that it was about time 2 guys sung this song. They did a fantastic job capturing the love and fun of the song. The audience just ate it up as well! The final fun moment of the night was when the whole cast sang "9 to 5." What is a Dolly Parton show without one of her biggest hits. It was really fantastic hearing each singer give their take on the lyrics.

54 Does Dolly Parton cast singing "9 to 5", Photo Credit: Gio MollaI hope I've captured just how magnificent this evening was. From the song selection to the talent! It was truly like going down "Paradise Road" (a song from Dolly's Hungry Again album). An evening of total bliss!

This show is coming back to 54 Below on Sunday, September 21 at 9:30pm! I highly recommend clicking here to get your tickets now to this. I also hope that it gets recorded for a live album for that is how phenomenal of a night it was!

That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!

Saturday
Jul122014

Adam's Call: Bayside! The Musical! I'm So Excited: A Parody That Works

I had the best time this past Friday night at Bayside! The Musical!, the unauthorized musical parody of NBC's #1 teen drama Saved By The Bell. This show is very well written, acted, and directed! I have seen quite a few parody shows out there, but none of them have come close to the perfection of Bayside! The Musical!

Bayside! The Musical! hit all the big plot points and guest stars of the Saturday morning show. From "Miss Bliss" to "Tori Spelling" to "Tori Scott" and even "Becky The Duck," everyone is included in this musical comedy. So many fun memories were brought back as I watched this spoof. The writers of the show, Bob and Tobly McSmith, really paid attention to the detail of what would make a great satire! As much as the dialogue and acting poke fun at the hit show, the songs add a lot to the mockery. 

Call Me Adam and John Duff ("AC Slater")at "Bayside! The Musical!"Call Me Adam and Adriana Spencer ("Jessie Spano") at "Bayside! The Musical!"What helps make Bayside! The Musical! even more fun is the talented cast comprised of Sam Harvey ("Zack"), Katie Mebane ("Kelly"), John Duff ("Slater"), Adriana Spencer ("Jessie"), Shamira Clark ("Lisa"), Justin Cimino ("Screech"), Seth Blum ("Mr. Belding"/"Max"), and Amanda Nicholas ("Every other student at Bayside"). These actors deserve the standing ovation, huge applause, and rousing cheers they get at the end of the show! With spot on impersonations, this cast was still able to bring just enough of themselves into their roles to make me appreciate Bayside! The Musical! as its own entity! 

Paul C. Focazio, Leanna Creel, Call Me Adam at "Bayside! The Musical!"On the particular night I went, Leanna Creel, who played "Tori Scott" in the last season of Saved By The Bell was the featured guest star (other featured guest stars having included Dennis Haskins "Mr. Belding", Dustin Diamond "Screech Powers", and "Mr. Dewey"). Since Saved By The Bell ended, Leanna has gone behind the scenes creating her own film company and photography studio! It was great to see her acting once again and able to make fun of the character she has made so memorable. The sold-out crowd equally agreed!

I can't even begin to fully describe just how enjoyable this show is! As other featured guest stars come into the show, you bet, I will be going back to school yet again! Bayside! The Musical! is an evening of pure fun and laughter! 

Bayside! The Musical! plays at Theatre 80 in NYC (St. Marks Street & 1st Avenue). Click here for tickets and follow the show at http://baysidethemusical.com and on Facebook and Twitter!

That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!

Wednesday
Jul022014

Adam's Call: "Zana, Don't" at 54 Below in NYC: I Think We Got Love

Cast of "Zana, Don't" at 54 Below: Jonathan Tessero, Dana Steer, Enrico Rodriguez, Darius Nichols, Amanda Ryan Paige, Devanand Janki, Anika Larsen, Robb Sapp, Shelley Thomas and Gregory Treco.A big THANK YOU to Veri Krassner who invited me to join her at 54 Below in NYC for the class reunion of Zana, Don't, featuring the original cast of the great 2003 Off-Broadway show. Watching this concert made me feel as though time has stood still...the cast's energy, excitment, and love for this piece has held the test of time! I love that 54 Below put on this reunion concert. I hope this evevnings shows will give some movement to bring another NYC life to this show!

Class reunion of "Zana, Don't" at 54 Below in NYCFor those of you who don't know, Zana, Don't was fun musical, ahead of it's time in 2003, where being gay was the norm, the students of Heartsville High put on a musical about straights in the military (as this was during the time of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"), and two students who's love is forbidden fall in love. The message of Zana, Don't still holds true today because it's a show about self-accpetance, love, and standing up for what you believe in.

I could tell how happy the cast was to be together again! It's as if they had picked up right where they left off. Their chemistry was infectious and everyone was in tip top shape and sounded amazing! The cast featured Anika Larsen, Darius Nichols, Amanda Ryan Paige, Robb Sapp, Dana Steer, Shelley Thomas, and Gregory Treco, with music direction by Jonathan Tessero. It was great to see some still shots from the original Off-Broadway run flash along the TV monitors during the show. It really helped create that feeling of "time standing still."

Class reunion of "Zana, Don't" at 54 Below in NYCI had a smile on my face throughout the whole evening becuase Zana, Don't is a feel good show! One of the best parts of the evening was watching the audience sing along and dance in their seats. There was a lot of love at 54 Below and I hope that love continues to flow!

Let's bring Zana, Don't back to where it belongs...on stage in NYC!

That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!