"Call Me Adam" chats with playwright Michael Levesque, who's new play Jules is about Broadway's most famous vaudeville and film star of the time: female impersonator, Julian Eltinge. With music direction and arrangements by the award-winning Tim Di Pasqua, Jules plays at Teatro Latea in NYC (107 Suffolk Street, between Rivington and Delancey) through June 28! Click here for tickets!
For more on Michael be sure to visit http://www.michaellevesque.net!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright? I was an actor for thirty years and one day I realized I was tired of saying other people's words, so I decided to start writing. As well as being an actor I was also exploring spiritually a lot, so playwriting became my marrying of those two passions, playwriting and spirituality.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? There are so many but if i had to narrow it down to one person, maybe two, between all the actors, directors, composers, I would have to say Meryl Streep and Stephen Sondheim, although working with Francis Sternhaggen, was a dream come true.
3. Jules will be presented from June 18-28 at Teatro Latea. What made you want to tell the story of Jules Eltinge? I found his story to be so fascinating and tragic as well as a great piece of history for both theater and LGTB people. He really paved the way for many. It is a love story, a self love story. Without Julian there never would have been a RuPaul.
4. How do you feel your life is similar to Julies Eltinge and how is it different? Similar in how when I was first getting an agent, and performing, people tried to make me be quiet about being gay/different. I refused to be quiet and if it meant not having the career I wanted then too bad. You know I grew up in Northern California during Harvey Milk and he just come out with the campaign he advocated. I came out when I was a senior in high school, 1977, and have fought for gay rights my entire adult life. Be it prop 6, prop 64, prop 8, and many other attempts to legislate "morality laws." It was these so called "morality laws" that helped end Julian's career. Look at where we are today, we can get married and Julian helped us with even that.
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? To have more compassion and an open heart and to be at peace with whomever and whatever you are. You are perfect just the way you are.
6. You have presented your work at Teatro Latea before. What made you want to present your work here again? What does this venue offer that other ones around the city don't? JULES take place backstage of Billy Roses, Diamond Horseshoe. I really love the look of Latea and this show fits very well in their space. Also they have a wonderful location on the lower east side.
7. One of the things I am very excited about with Jules is that the award-winning Tim Di Pasqua is the show's musical director and arranger. What made you want to work with Tim and how has his talents help shape your vision of the show? First of all Tim and I are ex lovers of ten years over twenty years ago, and still best friends, so any time I can work with Tim it is an honor and a privilege. Tim and I wrote a musical about ten years ago called Synchronicity together and it was a ball. We think a lot alike so when it came to JULES and finding someone to not only play the show, but create incredible arrangements and write additional music and lyrics, there was no question, Tim was the guy. I also produced two concerts of Tim's music to raise funds and awareness for BCEFA, and to this date it was the most money ever raised for a cabaret show for BCEFA. I am also very fortunate to be working again with my great friend and very talented long time collaborator Andrew Glant-Linden who is directing JULES.
8. I had seen a previous incarnation of Jules a few years back at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. How has the shown grown over the past few years? It has grown quite a bit on many levels. First of all there is new opening involving "Freddy," the character of the stage manager. Second, the actors are getting so much more out of the text now, finding new things, it has just become so much richer, and more nuanced.
9. What excites you about having this cast bring Jules to life? They are amazing. David Sabella, as you know plays "Julian." David did "Mary Sunshine" in the revival of Chicago, which come to find out, was loosely based on "Julian." It's great to always hear David sing, but it is more fun watching him being pushed beyond his comfort zone and go places I don't believe he has had to go to before as an actor. Cameron is just a doll. He is young, handsome, talented and always willing to try anything, he just jumps right in. They really are a fantastic team. Then you add Ed in there and I am pretty damn thrilled!
10. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright? I've learned I have a lot things in my life that need healing. It's interesting, I am not one of those playwrights that sits every day and tries to write. It may be months before I write, but when it comes it comes, and three days later I will have a first draft of a new play. I always think, where did that come from, and then months later I realize there was a reason that came through and usually it is something within myself needing attention, needing healing. Playwriting for me is about listening.
11. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Always reach for the moon because even if you do not make it you will always be in the company of the stars." -High school drama teacher.
12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To fly.
Readings include Not in Our Town, No Man Can Serve 2 Masters and FAL$E PROFIT$, at the Genesius Guild, Restoration and Freedom Summer at the Hansberry Project, On Hold at the Houseman Theatre with seven-time Tony-nominated and two-time winner, Frances Sternhagen and Tony-nominated Douglas Sills, directed by Scott Schwartz. Who's Sorry Now? at Charles Rosin Casting and his musical Synchronicity, written with award-winning composer Tim Di Pasqua, had a reading at BMI, Seven Angels Theatre and is out on CD. Bad Connections? was produced at The Peoples Theatre in Santa Monica, San Jose City Theatre, and at the Hollywood, Orlando, Toronto and Edmonton Fringe Festivals, where it played to sold-out houses and standing ovations. Bad Connections? also had two NYC engagements, one at the Cell Theatre and the other through Third Eye Theatre Company. His Christmas show, The Christmas Present, ran for three months at La Comedia Dinner Theatre in Akron, Ohio. No Man Can Serve 2 Masters was produced as an Equity Showcase through Third Eye Theatre Company, where Michael also serves as Artistic Director. Michael's plays also include his hysterical whodunit farce, Fire Island and Fire Island, The Next Season, Transubstantiation (also in collaboration with Teatro LATEA) and his political stinger, One Nation Under___? He has written over 25 plays.