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

      

 

Friday
Jun262015

Adam's Call: A New Brain: New York City Center Encores! Off-Broadway: Just Go

I was so lucky to get a chance to see New York City Center Encores! Off-Broadway staging of William Finn and James Lapine's A New Brain starring Tony Nominee Jonathan Groff, SNL's Ana Gasteyer, Broadway's Aaron Lazar, Quentin Earl Darrington, Spelling Bee's Dan Fogler, along with Jenni Barber, Bradley Dean, Josh Lamon, Alyse Alan Louis, and Rema Webb.

For those of you who don't know, A New Brain is William Finn's autobiographical musical about surviving a brain tumor. After struggling composer "Gordon Michael Schwinn" (Tony Award nominee Jonathan Groff) collapses at the piano, he is diagnosed with a brain tumor and is forced to come to terms with his creative ambitions and the people in his life: an overbearing mother (Ana Gasteyer), a ruthless kiddie-show host (Tony Award winner Dan Fogler), and a boyfriend who’d "rather be sailing" (Aaron Lazar).

Originally produced in 1998 (which starred Malcolm Gets and Penny Fuller), Encores! staged version is one NOT TO BE MISSED! This powerful show really sends a message about second chances, living in the now, loving as big as you can, and holding tight to the people you care for most.

Aaron Lazar and Jonathan Groff in "A New Brain" at New York City Center Encores! Off-BroadwayCast of "A New Brain" at New York City Center Encores! Off-Broadway, Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesThis extraordinary cast did a stellar job! Jonathan Groff was outstanding as "Gordon Michael Schwinn." He commands the stage and sings the heck out of all his songs. He has such an amazing singing voice and I am thrilled to have been there live to hear it! He really got down to the depths of the pain and struggle his character goes through. He really tapped into the emotions needed to play this role. Aaron Lazar was terrific playing "Roger," "Gordon's boyfriend!" I was definitely taken on "Roger's" journey and what journey it was. I went from hating "Roger" to adoring him by the end! What a transformation and Aaron's voice was just golden! I was delighted he got to showcase it several times throughout the show on "I'd Rather Be Sailing," "Just Go," "MRI Tomorrow," and "A Really Lousy Day in the Universe." I absolutely adore Ana Gasteyer. I've seen her in a few theatrical shows and I'm always impressed by her talent, especially her vocal quality. Tonight, as "Mimi Schwinn," "Gordon's mother," Ana shined bright especially during "Mother's Gonna Make Things Fine," "Throw It Out," and "The Music Still Plays On." She has quite the vocal strength and it's great she gets to use it! Then there was Rema Webb as "Lisa, a homeless lady." This was my first time being introduced to Rema and from the moment she set foot on stage, I was taken with her talent and soulful, powerhouse vocals! She definitely stole the spotlight every time she was on stage, especially during "Change," and "A Really Lousy Day in the Universe," and "The Homeless Lady's Revenge." Rema is definitely a talent I intend to keep my eye on!

Cast of "A New Brain" at New York City Center Encores! Off-Broadway, Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesJonathan Groff and Ana Gasteyer in "A New Brain" at New York City Center Encores! Off-BroadwayWith only 3 performances left, "Just Go" see this life changing show! I was so moved by this production that I hope there is a bigger life then this limited run! It's a show everyone can relate to! A New Brain runs through this Saturday, June 27 only! Click here for tickets!

For more on New York City Center Encores! visit http://www.nycitycenter.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

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

Saturday
May232015

Adam's Call: New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala: Honoring Kathleen and Rob Marshall

New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala Cast, Photo Credit: Richard TermineKathleen and Rob Marshall being honored at the New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala, Photo Credit: Doug BazA few weeks back I attended the New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala which honored Kathleen and Rob Marshall's work on Broadway and in film. Combining their work together, they have been entertaining us for well over two decades!

This concert featured some of the biggest names in entertainment and was lead by the New York Pops brilliant conductor Steven Reineke and backed by the extraordinary New York Pops orchestra! The evening was spectacular! To hear the New York Pops play the music from some of Rob and Kathleen's biggest successes was unreal! They gave new life to these amazing songs!

Alan Cumming singing "Cabaret" at New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala, Photo Credit: Richard TermineLaura Benanti singing "Unusual Way" at The New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala, Photo Credit: Richard TermineThe evening opened and closed with the fabulous Alan Cumming singing "Wilkommen" and "Cabaret" respectively from Cabaret. In between it was one high note after another! Some of my favorite moments were hearing Victor Garber sing "Those Were the Good Old Days" from Damn Yankees, Brian Stokes Mitchell killing it on "Where is the Life I Lead" from Kiss Me, Kate, Laura Benanti belting out "Unusual Way" from Nine, Sutton Foster triumphed with "Anything Goes" from Anything Goes, Margo Seibert and James Snyder enchanted us with "Out of Darkness" from Ever After, and Bebe Neuwirth dazzled the audience when she sang "All That Jazz" from Chicago. But the two major highlights of the evening was hearing the queen herself Queen Latifah reminding us what happens "When You're Good to Mama," from Chicago and hearing Renée Fleming blow the roof off Carnegie Hall unmiked! Two moments I'll never forget!

Queen Latifah singing "When You're Good To Mama" at The New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala, Photo Credit: Richard TermineRenée Fleming performing at The New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala, Photo Credit: Richard TermineGetting to hear the New York Pops and watching Steven Reineke conduct them is a true master class in music. They make such a great team, sounding perfect every time! I always feel so honored to be able to attend a New York Pops' concert because I get to hear a full orchestra perform some of the greatest music created. And let's face it, you just don't get that sound on Broadway anymore. I am not a musically inclined person by any stretch of the means, so when Broadway decided to limit the number of musicians that could play in the pit of a show, I didn't fully realize how much those limits would affect the music, but after attending many New York Pops concert, I completely understand why a full orchestra is so important!

Bebe Neuwirth singing "All That Jazz" at The New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala, Photo Credit: Richard TermineSutton Foster singing "Anything Goes" at The New York Pops 32nd Birthday Gala, Photo Credit: Richard TermineIt was so great to relive so many wonderful musical moments throughout our history! Rob and Kathleen Marshall have really made a gigantic contribution to Film and Broadway! It was terrific hearing some of their biggest hits in one evening! The talent on that stage was unreal! The New York Pops always attract the biggest names and top notch talent! If you ever get a chance to go to Carnegie Hall and attend a New York Pops concert, I say DO IT! It's an evening that you'll remember forever!

For more on The New York Pops visit http://newyorkpops.org and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

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

Sunday
Apr192015

Adam's Call: Natalie Douglas: Hello Dolly...The Music of Dolly Parton at Birdland: Stairway to Heaven

Natalie Douglas in dressing room just before hitting the stage for "Hello Dolly...The Music of Dolly Parton" at Birdland 2014, Photo Credit: Kevin AlveyIf you haven't purchased tickets yet for Natalie Douglas' show Hello Dolly...The Music of Dolly Parton which is returning to Jim Caruso's Broadway at Birdland concert series on Monday, April 20May 18, July 6, and August 10 at 7pm, then I'm not sure what you are waiting for! For tickets, click the date above you want to attend!

Natalie Douglas has one of the most soulful voices I have ever heard and when you mix in the great Dolly Parton, well, then "Don't Think Twice," you just need to attend this show!

I saw this show in September 2014 and it was magnificent! What made this show so fantastic was the way Natalie used her gifted vocal talent to make these songs her own. She and her music director Mark Hartman really styled these songs to suit Natalie's voice. All of these songs took on new meaning when I heard Natalie sing them. She really brought fresh arrangements to these timeless songs!

Natalie Douglas in "Hello Dolly...The Music of Dolly Parton" at Birdland 2014, Photo Credit: Kevin AlveyNatalie Douglas in "Hello Dolly...The Music of Dolly Parton" at Birdland 2014, Photo Credit: Kevin AlveyNatalie chose a wonderful array of songs from Dolly's vast catalog of music, focusing on many of the songs Dolly wrote herself as well as some cover songs Dolly has done throughout her career. There was a great mix of hit songs and songs that may not be as widely known. My favorite Dolly-written songs performed during this September show were "Down From Dover," (one of my favorite Dolly story songs), "I Will Always Love You," and "Jolene."

My favorite songs that Dolly has covered throughout her career were Neil Young's "After The Goldrush" (one of my favorite Dolly Parton cover songs), Michael O’Donoghue's "Single Woman" (a wonderful story song), Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil's "Here You Come Again," Yusuf Islam's (aka Cat Stevens) "Peace Train," and Jimmy Page & Robert Plant's, (with additional lyrics by Dolly Parton) "Stairway to Heaven."

Natalie Douglas in "Hello Dolly...The Music of Dolly Parton" at Birdland 2014, Photo Credit: Kevin AlveyNatalie Douglas and Jim Caruso, "Hello Dolly...The Music of Dolly Parton" at Birdland 2014, Photo Credit: Kevin AlveyWith each song, Natalie told some great stories that were either Natalie's association with the song or a fun fact about Dolly herself. Not only is Natalie an extrememly talented singer, but she is a great storyteller. She's very entertaining and captivates you from beginning to end!

I am so glad that this show is being featured throughout the next few months at Birdland because it's a show that I could sit through over and over and over again! Between Natalie's talent and Dolly's exquisite songs, Hello Dolly...The Music of Dolly Parton is like going on a "Stairway to Heaven!"

If you missed my original interview with Natalie about Hello Dolly...The Music of Dolly Parton, click here to read it!

For more on Natalie be sure to visit http://www.nataliedouglas.com and follow her FacebookTwitter, and YouTube!

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

Saturday
Apr182015

Adam's Call: JANKA A-20398: I Say See It!

There is a powerful new Off-Broadway show happening in NYC at the June Havoc Theatre entitled JANKA: A-20398 written by playwright Oscar Speace and starring Janice Noga (Oscar's wife). Inspired by a 60-page letter Oscar's mom wrote after she was freed from the Nazi concentration camps, this show recounts Janka's liberation and time spent in the concentration camps.

Oscar didn't know much about his mom's time in the camps as Janka never spoke of it. This was a time in her life she wanted to forget. So, when the show opens, Janka asks the audience if she should tell her son her story and then says that she will first tell us and let us decide. So right from the start, the audience is sucked into this play. Oscar's writing style for this show is very cool in that it really is like sitting in Janka's living room listening to a story as opposed to a written script. While it's Oscar's words we are hearing, Janice Noga, should be commended for her terrific acting and making Janka so accessible to the audience.

Janice Noga as JANKA, Photo Credit: Raymond ReillyJanice's performance was mesmerizing. From the moment she opened the show, Janice, I mean Janka, invited the audience into her life. Going between the present to her time just before going into the concentration camps to her time in the camps to her liberation, Janice easily guided the audience through the time period she was in. I will say I was most moved by Janice's performance when she was taking us through the concentration camps. There was a very vivid transformation in her character and it was quite moving. The horror she suffered, I still don't fully know how she made it through. How did she not speak of it? I guess it was just too painful. I often wonder if I would have what it takes to survive something like the Holocaust? If I made it out alive, would I be able to talk about it? I just don't know. But I am so glad Janka did survive and she did write this letter and that Oscar found it and made it into this show!

Janice Noga as JANKA, Photo Credit: Raymond ReillyJANKA: A-20398 is so important to have on stage as we must NEVER FORGET what happened to the six million Jews who perrished in the Holocaust along with many other minorities the Nazis wanted to annihilate. This is not an easy show to sit through, but it is an important one, especially during this time of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Rememberance Day. 

This show is also important because it's so easy for a Holocaust or something like it to happen again, as we have seen with everything happening in the world. While most people will say I don't want to see a show like this, I say, see it! Challenge yourself and allow yourself to feel all the emotions this show brings up. We must not stop talking about the Holocaust as we must never let this happen again!

JANKA: A-20398 plays at The June Havoc Theatre in NYC (312 West 36th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) in New York City through May 2. Click here for tickets!

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

Thursday
Mar262015

Adam's Call: George Street Playhouse's "Buyer & Cellar" starring Emmy & Tony nominee John Tartaglia: Definitely Worth The Trip!

I had seen the original Off-Broadway production of Buyer & Cellar starring Michael Urie at Barrow Street Theatre, so when I heard that George Street Playhouse was mounting a production starring Emmy and Tony nominated actor John Tartaglia (Avenue Q, Johnny & The Sprites) I jumped at the opportunity to go see this production.

John Tartaglia in "Buyer & Cellar" at George Street Playhouse. Photo Credit: T. Charles EricksonJohn Tartaglia in "Buyer & Cellar" at George Street Playhouse. Photo Credit: T. Charles EricksonLet me say, the trip out to George Street Playhouse was definitely worth it! John Tartaglia did a FANTASTIC job bringing Jonathan Tolins' show to life! This fictious show inspired by Barbra Streisand's book My Passion for Design, tells the story of "Alex More," an out of work actor, who takes a job in Barbra Streisand's "basement mall."

Buyer & Cellar was very entertaining with a lot of laughs, but also touched on a variety of universal subjects such as celebrity and what that means, what one will do to survive, and how certain decisions affect our lives. John Tartaglia embodied this well-written work of art! He effortlessly segued between characters and emotions and I loved the way John used his various talents (from character voices to his singing) to take Jonathan Tolins' words to a whole new level. I left this show with a huge smile on my face from laughing, but I also left with a lot of questions about the world we live in.

John Tartaglia in "Buyer & Cellar" at George Street Playhouse. Photo Credit: T. Charles EricksonJohn Tartaglia in "Buyer & Cellar" at George Street Playhouse. Photo Credit: T. Charles EricksonWith just four shows left (through March 29), I highly recommend going to the George Street Playhouse to take in their production of Jonathan Tolins' Buyer & Cellar starring John Tartaglia! Click here for tickets!

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