Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

    

"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Friday
Jul212017

Call Answered: Liz Callaway Facetime Interview: "The Beat Goes On" at Feinstein's/54 Below

I had so much fun getting to "Journey to the Past" with Tony nominee & Emmy Award winning actress Liz Callaway. We discuss her upcoming concert at Feinstein's/54 Below, The Beat Goes On, delving into one of Liz's favorite decades of music.  

As an added bonus, not only did we get to do this video interview, but a few weeks ago, Liz & I got to talk on the phone about this show. Below the video interview is a further discussion about The Beat Goes On, which includes learning about Liz through some of the songs she'll be performing in this concert plus an exclusive story about Liz's time in Cats as "Grizabella" that she has never revealed in previous interviews.

The Beat Goes On, features pop hits of the era, music from Broadway and the movies, plus songs from her iconic album of the same name. The Beat Goes On will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) from July 25, 28-29 & September 10. Click here for tickets!

For more on Liz be sure to visit http://www.lizcallaway.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit https://54below.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, & Instagram!

Call Me Adam & Liz Callaway Video Interview:

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I think my story is very typical of actors who gravitate towards theatre for that family feeling in some ways. As a kid, I was really shy about singing, so I didn't begin peforming until high school. During my sophomore year, my parents got divorced and I know being in the chorus of the show I was in, at that time, is what saved me because I suddenly had friends and sense of community. I thought, "Oh, if I'm a performer, I can have that feeling," so that's what got me going.  

2. This July you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with your new show The Beat Goes On. What are you looking forward to most about performing this show? I love the music of the ‘60s, and I’m so looking forward to sharing my favorite songs (with my own special spin)) with the great Feinstein’s/54 Below audiences.

Liz Callaway3. In this concert, you are performing songs from the 1960s. What is it about the music of that time, that made you want to present an evening of music from that decade? This is the music that I grew up listening to; the soundtrack of my childhood, and I’ve always had an affinity for it. So much so that in 2001 I recorded an album of my favorite songs of the ‘60s called The Beat Goes On

A couple of months ago I was having coffee while reading the newspaper and it occurred to me that everything going on in the world right now, and our reaction to it, is very similar to what was happening in the '60s, at least of what I remember of it. There's lots of new activism. Lots of country coming together/being divided. I thought it would be a good time to revisit some of these songs because I think my song choices or interpretations of some of these songs might be a little different now considering the state of the world. Plus, there's something really fun about singing '60s music in the summer as an escape. 

4. What do you think will surprise fans about this show? I hope people will say "I never really heard those lyrics before, until tonight."

5a. Since this show is titled The Beat Goes On, I'm going to divide this question into two parts. First, When you have to perform and you are feeling down or low energy, how do find the strength so "The Beat Goes On"? Strong coffee (laughs). Seriously, that's never a problem. I get a burst of adrenaline when I sing for an audience because my audience inspires me. They always lift me up. 

Liz Callaway5b. Secondly, you have been performing in this business for over 30 years. How does Liz Callaway keep things fresh to allow "The Beat To Go On"? I think singing is story-telling. I always look to tell the story and there are so many different ways to do that. I look at my songs, write out all my lyrics in prose form and then I look at what story I'm telling and take it from there. Plus, I'm always looking for new challenges, particularly now, I'm more inspired to take them than say five years ago.

6. In addition to the pop hits of the 1960s & tunes from Broadway and film, you will be doing a few selections from your album The Beat Goes On, which is actually many of these songs I describe. For the next few questions, we're going to play with the titles of some of my favorites from that album. On The Beat Goes On, you sing the John Lennon/Paul McCartney song "When I'm Sixty-Four." What do you think your life will look when you are 64? I hope I'm doing what I'm doing now as well as appearing on Broadway.

Patrick Duffy as "Bobby Ewing" on CBS' "Dallas"7. You also sing Brian Wilson, Tony Asher, and Mike Love's "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Finish this sentence, "Wouldn't It Be Nice if...." Do you remember that episode of Dallas when "Pam" (Victoria Principal) wakes up from her dream and finds "Bobby" (Patrick Duffy) alive in the shower and we learn he didn't die? So, I say, "Wouldn't it be nice if who our President is and all that is happening in our country right now could just be a dream."

8. Finally, there's Tony Hatch's "Downtown." What are some of your favorite things to do both in downtown NYC and uptown? I love Chelsea Market, the market at Union Square, Central Park. I just love to walk around the city and find a great coffee bar. I'm always checking out what the new coffee place in town is to try, which also ties in to helping me when I'm tired (laughs). I love NY and it's a great place to discover things on foot.

Liz Callaway as "Grizabella" in Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Cats"9. I have to switch gears for a second & ask you about your time in Cats as "Grizabella." What is one story about your time in Cats as "Grizabella" that you have not told in a previous interview? Gosh, now that's tough! Here's one I don't think I've told. I remember coming downstairs for the bows and as I was waiting in the wings, and suddenly I heard my entrance music to come on to sing "Memory" and I realized the show wasn't over yet. In my head, I was like "Oh. My. God." (laughs).

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? That's a great question and such a good thing you are doing. I love the idea of doing just a little bit every day because then you find, over time, that you actually made a lot of progress. 

There's a lot of things I'd like to improve. I'd like to be more physically active every day. I'm a big tennis player, but because of my schedule and different things going on, I don't play like I used to. I think it's so important to be physically active in addition to eating healthily. I'd like to be more active as well as more still & quiet to balance things out. When you're quiet that's when you can be creative & get your ideas. I'm also trying to be less tethered to being online & on my phone. 

Preview of Liz Callaway singing "Leaving On A Jet Plane" from her upcoming show The Beat Goes On at Feinstein's/54 Below July 25-29 & September 10 all at 7pm:

Liz CallawayMore on Liz:

Liz Callaway is a Tony nominee and Emmy Award-winning actress, singer and recording artist. She made her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in Baby, and for five years, won acclaim as "Grizabella" in Cats. She has also starred in the original casts of Miss Saigon, The Three Musketeers, and The Look of Love. In addition, Liz has established a major career as a concert and recording artist.

Off-Broadway she received a Drama Desk nomination for her performance in The Spitfire Grill (Playwrights Horizons), and also appeared in Brownstone (Roundabout), No Way to Treat a LadyMarry Me a Little, and Godspell. Other New York appearances include the legendary Follies in Concert at Lincoln Center, A Stephen Sondheim EveningFiorello! (Encores!), and Hair in Concert. Regionally, she starred as Venus in the Chicago Ovations! production of One Touch of Venus, in Elegies at Reprise! in Los Angeles, and Fascinating Rhythm at Hartford Stage. She also played "Norma Desmond" in Sunset Boulevard at Pittsburgh CLO.

Liz sang the Academy Award nominated song "Journey to the Past" in the animated feature Anastasia and is also the singing voice of "Princess Jasmine" in Disney’s Aladdin and the King of Thieves and The Return of Jafar. Other film work includes the singing voice of the title character in The Swan PrincessThe Lion King 2: Simba’s PrideBeauty and the BeastLyle, Lyle the Crocodile and The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars.

She received an Emmy Award for hosting Ready to Go, a daily, live children’s program on CBS in Boston.  Other TV credits include In Performance at the White HouseInside the Actor’s Studio: Stephen SondheimChristmas with the Boston PopsThe David Letterman Show, and Senior Trip (CBS Movie of the Week).

Liz has released six solo recordings: Passage of TimeThe Beat Goes OnThe Story Goes On: Liz Callaway On and Off-BroadwayAnywhere I Wander: Liz Callaway Sings Frank LoesserMerry and Bright and her newest album The Essential Liz Callaway. Her numerous other recordings include Sibling Revelry, Boom! Live at BirdlandThe Maury Yeston SongbookDreaming Wide Awake: The Music of Scott AlanA Stephen Sondheim EveningHair in Concert, the original cast album of A Christmas Story and the complete recording of Allegro produced by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization.

Friday
Jul212017

Call Redialed: Conference Call: Marina Tempelsman and Nicco Aeed: "Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark" at HERE

Niccolo Aeed and Marina TempelsmanOnce again Marina & Nicco have answered my call! Their haunting comedy Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark is returning to the stage, but this time, the run is at HERE. In an unconventional staging, the audience lends a hand by lighting the stage for a couple that is literally, and figuratively, feeling their way through the dark. Flashlights will be provided.

In Unpacking, a happy couple has just moved into their new home. But the novelty of homeownership quickly fades as they face a sea of boxes, a major blackout, and, shortly thereafter, the ghosts of all their past relationships. The newest play combines two of our biggest fears: the dark and commitment.

This production will feature Temesgen Tocruray as "Anthony," SJ Son as "Melissa," Emily Mathwich as "Serena," Jeff Solomon as "James," Monique Moses as "Lona," Odera Adimorah as "Lou," and Sarah Heveron-Smith as "Catherine."

Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark is written & directed by Nicco Aeed, Written & Produced by Marina Tempelsman, Produced by Michelle Francesca Thomas, with Set Design by Ally Spier, & Lighting Design by Kaitlyn Cecchetti.

Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark will play July 26-August 13 at HERE (145 6th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Marina and Nicco be sure to visit http://www.marinaandnicco.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Funny or Die!

1. This summer you're show Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark is returning for a new run a HERE! What made now the right time to bring this show back, as opposed to say, around Halloween?

Marina Tempelsman: We were particularly excited for it to go up this summer, since the Fringe is on hiatus. Our play (and the rest of HERE’s SubletSeries and other curated rental programs like it) are testaments to how independent theater will always find a way to thrive.

Nicco Aeed: I bet our ghosts would be upset if we only thought of them during Halloween when I feel like they’re putting in hard work haunting us year round. I bet something is haunting you in July, and if something is haunting you, it’s the right time to see this play.

I’m also pushing 30, and I feel like everyone’s coupling up and having babies, creating new lives and moving away from old ones. I guess maybe it’s a feeling that will be around during Halloween, but who knows if America will be around then, so why wait?

2. What did you learn from the previous run at The People's Improv that will make this run better?

Marina Tempelsman: Well, one major thing we learned is that the flashlights get dimmer as the battery power fades. The second show in our first run was probably a littttttle darker than we intended. But it still looked great!

Nicco Aeed: Yeah there were a lot of flashlight and lighting based discoveries, but I think the thing I learned that stuck with me most is that it’s a blast to watch couples watch this play. Couples definitely move closer together and further away from each other depending on the scene. There’s something voyeuristic about watching the play on the stage, but also it’s fun to be a voyeur of the audience as well.

Jeff Solomon in the original production of "Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark", Photo Credit: Zach Kelly3. In this show, the stage is lit by the audience, who's holding flashlights throughout the show. What was the funniest thing that happened as a result of this in the show's previous run?

Marina Tempelsman: It’s funny to see the different types of flashlight holders that emerge. You get the voyeurs, who really hone in on the action of the stage, and the sleuths, who are hellbent on making sure nothing’s going to surprise them in some dark corner.

Nicco Aeed: The audience seems to mostly act like a collective group of fireflies following cast members as move off and on stage.

4. Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told in the Dark is part mystery, part romance, and part comedy. You have been working together since 2006, both in performance & writing. What part of your relationship is a mystery? What part is romantic? What part is comedic?

Marina Tempelsman: Someone recently said "You’ve been working together for 11 years? You must know EVERYTHING about each other." But I think in a good writing partnership you’re always surprising each other with new ideas and experiences, even as your minds meld in some respects.

Ours is a deep friendship and a writing partnership -- we’re not dating and never have. It’s not a romantic relationship, except in that creating worlds together and being a part of each other’s creative process is an intimate thing to do. Seeing early drafts of each other’s work is, I guess, the collaborator equivalent of seeing a significant other put in their retainer before going to bed. (Nicco thinks this is very funny and true).

Nicco Aeed: Yeah none of our relationship is romantic. People sometimes seem surprised by that or wish there was a juicier story but we disappoint them. That being said yeah, knowing someone for 11 years does NOT mean that new mysteries aren’t revealed all the time. I heard that all the cells in your body die and are replaced within seven years, so on like a cellular level I have known like at least two completely different Marina’s and she’s seen a couple different me’s. The funnest part of the mystery is seeing who we’ll be and what we’ll create in the future. (Marina loves this answer).

Temesgen Tocruray and Priya Patel in the original production of "Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark", Photo Credit: Zach Kelly5. This show is about a couple, who shortly after moving in together, begin to see the ghosts of their past relationships in every moving box and unpainted corner. When you and Nicco write together, what ghosts do you see in each other?

Marina Tempelsman: This is a really interesting question. I think that we see ghosts in any long-standing relationship, romantic or not. Nicco and I have never dated, but we’ve written together for almost eleven years. There are times where I feel like I can feel snapshots of past-us in our meetings, though (unlike the characters in the play) I tend to react to those feelings more with a sense of security in how our writing and our process has evolved. Take any life stage, add a pinch of time and nostalgia or uncertainty, and boom! There are the ghosts.

Nicco Aeed: Yeah we wanna emphasize this is NOT a romantic relationship. It’s more like what "Marley" and "Scrooge" had in A Christmas Carol. I’d probably see Marina’s ghost before I saw the ghost of The One That Got Away, or a haunting vision of my children in the future.

But what would be our ghosts? Once in college, we did a show in Philly where there were more people on stage than in the audience, and there were like four people on stage. That’s always a little haunting. But mostly I don’t feel like I see ghosts in our relationship, because that would’ve meant something in our relationship died or ended or just went away but our relationship is immortal and undying.

6. The play is about the pieces of ourselves that we just can't (or don't want to) let go of. What pieces of yourselves can't you or don't you want to let go of?

Marina Tempelsman: This is a tough question to answer! I feel like part of growing up is just feeling safe and secure in letting go of the traits and things in your life that no longer serve you. I feel lucky that I have people around me who tend to nurture the good parts of me, and make the "letting go" process much less painful. But I’m a very nostalgic person in general, so even when I know I’m evolving past something in a good or productive way I tend to get emotional about it.

Nicco Aeed: Such personal questions, Adam! I feel like spaces are haunted for me, and that no matter if I feel like I’ve left something behind for good, if I go back to a certain place (the apartment I was a kid in and grew up in, or visit my old high school) as soon as I step through the threshold I’m brought back to the person I was when I spent time in that place.

Rasheda Crockett in the original production of "Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark", Photo Credit: Zach Kelly7. When in your life have you felt your way through the dark?

Marina Tempelsman: When I stayed in an AirBnB that had no lamps and the lightswitch was all the way on the other side of the room opposite the bed.

But also, I think feeling your way through the dark is a pretty apt way of describing trying to pursue a life in the arts. It can be very hard to orient yourself and know when you’re making forward progress, when there’s no clearly-defined context for what a career track can or should look like.

Nicco Aeed: Good answer Marina. Yeah career is definitely a place where I’m feeling my way through the dark.

8. What is one ghost that you still have yet to unpack?

Marina Tempelsman: I think that we’re constantly making new ghosts for ourselves as we live life, make decisions, and live with the memories or the what-ifs. And I should also say not all ghosts feel bad to see -- sometimes it’s comforting to be visited by what once was or what could have been. There’s a beautiful passage in Rabbit Hole, by David Lindsay-Abaire, where a character talks about how the feeling of grief evolves.

She says "At some point it becomes bearable. It turns into something you can crawl out from under, and carry around — like a brick in your pocket. And you forget it every once in a while, but then you reach in for whatever reason and there it is: 'Oh, right. That.' Which can be awful. But not all the time. Sometimes it’s kinda...not that you like it exactly, but it’s what you have instead of your son, so you don’t wanna let go of it either. So you carry it around. And it doesn’t go away, which is…fine, actually."

Of course not all ghosts are driven by grief, but I do feel that they generally come from some sort of friction with your current reality. And sometimes bringing traces of the past or what could have been into your reality is comforting.

Nicco Aeed: I think parents (living or dead) are ghosts you have to unpack for the whole of your life. What I admire in my parents and what I see of them in me changes at every age I'm in. As you realize how many people you become as you live and grow older, it makes you realize how much of your parents you didn’t know throughout your life.

Oh yeah, maybe it’s worth talking about happy ghosts. I think anytime you experience something beautiful, something really beautiful, that you know a picture won’t do justice, that when described to friends they won’t really appreciate how awesome that moment was, those things are haunting. That beauty is passing and short and something that you have to work to keep with you in your memories.

The original production of "Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark", Photo Credit: Zach Kelly9. What is one aspect of your life that is like an unpainted corner?

Marina Tempelsman: I just had chunks of plaster drop straight out of my ceiling a few months ago, and I FINALLY got that repainted this weekend. So that’s the only unpainted corner I have on the brain and it is officially taken care of.

Nicco Aeed: I feel like I’ve lived in a couple apartments where the bathroom ceiling has fallen in a couple times. Though it does get plastered back up there, it never gets painted. Oh but you mean metaphorically?

10. If you had to choose five "Ghost" themed songs, movies, or TV shows to describe this show, which ones would you use?

Marina Tempelsman: Oh, interesting question! So there is quite a bit of music in the show, but I’ll try to exclude those songs from this answer. I would say…

It’s not exaaaactly a ghost TV show, but I do feel like The Good Place seems related, both tonally and thematically. It’s funny and poignant, but it’s also about characters trying to overcome their circumstances by sheer force of will -- and eventually coming around to acknowledging that it takes something more profound to bring about the change they need.

And WOW I’m drawing a blank, now! I guess ghost movies tend to be scary (unlike this show, which is largely a comedy and drama), and I hate scary movies. So I don’t see a lot. Nicco, what do you think?

Nicco Aeed: Below is a weird youtube mixtape just for you Adam! It’s a bit ecclectic but all about the past:

Chris Pureka Covering Haunted

Relevant Lyrics: We are all alive but you would never know

We walk side by side like invisible ghosts

Everyone is lonely and everyone is sad

We all want the things that we have never had

I got somethin' to say but no one's here

We march on and on and we damn the fear

But we are haunted

Office Musik (Lil Wayne Hustler Music/The Office Themesong mashup)

Relevant Lyrics: See I be riding, just riding alone

With my daddy on my mind

Like you gotta be kidding

How the hell you ain't here

To see your prince do his thing

Sometimes I wanna drop a tear

But no emotions from a king

Juke Jam by Chance the Rapper

Relevant Lyrics: We never rolled at the rink

We would just go to the rink

You ain't buy tokens no more

You just hip roll at the rink

You had a man then, I couldn't stand him

But when they play "Take You Down", Chris Brown,

I am his stand-in

I mean it's just dancing

It's harmless as fuck

Then I put my waist through your hips and your legs in my arms just to harness you up

Then we hit the floor

All the kiddies stopped skating

To see grown folks do

What grown folks do

When they grown 

And they dating

Space Captain by Joe Cocker

Relevant Lyrics: Until we die, until we die

We are just learning to live together

Learning to live together

Learning to live together

Till we die

New Lover by Josh Ritter

Relevant Lyrics: Praise the water under bridges, the time they say will heal

Praise the fonder, that still grows on the absent heart and fields

Praise be to this pain, these days it's all I seem to feel.

But I will not chase your shadow as you go from room to room,

Droppin' handkerchiefs and daggers, smokin' guns and other clues

For what someone did with someone and who did what to whom.

I've got a new lover now, I hope you've got a lover too.

 

Marina TempelsmanNicco AeedMore on Marina and Nicco:

Marina and Nicco are playwrights and screenwriters based in New York, who emerged from the underground sketch comedy scene. Their most recent play, Room 4, was met with sold-out shows, standing ovations, and was listed as a New York Times Critic’s Pick in addition to receiving international coverage. Prior to Room 4, that they were playwrights-in-residence at The Peoples Improv Theater, and Marina Tempelsman’s play Simon’s Street ran at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre for eight months.

In addition to their theatrical work, their sketches and videos have been featured in The New Yorker's Shorts and Murmurs, on Comedy Central, and Funny or Die. They wrote for Morgan Spurlock’s Call Bullshit, and were finalists in the LA Film Festival Make Em LAFF competition -- in addition to their regular live shows at major comedy theaters in New York. They co-wrote the feature film Delusions of Guinevere, which was called "a surprisingly dark satire of modern celebrity" by The Village Voice and "sly and smart" by The New York Times. They have also written several pilots, a radio play series (MURDER!), and a number of original plays. They just finished a six-month playwriting residency at The PIT, and are currently developing an original web series for BRIC TV.

Friday
Jul142017

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with "Conversations in L.A." Emmy nominees Anne Marie Cummings & Gustavo Velasquez

Gustavo Velasquez & Ann Marie CummingsLive from The Algonquin Hotel in the heart of NYC's theatre district, "Call Me Adam" chats with Emmy nominees Anne Marie Cummings & Gustavo Velasquez about the Digital Daytime Drama Series Conversations in L.A.

Conversations in L.A. tells the story of "Michelle," a 40-something menopausal woman finding herself falling for "Gus," a hot 20-something millennial. This series defies boundaries, from the way it's filmed to how it's executed. It's a show about love, relationships, growing-up, finding yourself, menopause, & mid-life crises.

Written and directed by Anne Marie, Conversations in L.A. has earned three Emmy nominations: Lead Actress (Anne Marie Cummings), Lead Actor (Gustavo Velasquez, in his acting debut), and Supporting Actress (Vanita Harbour).

For more on Conversations in L.A. and to watch Season One visit http://conversationsinla.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on The Algonquin Hotel visit http://www.algonquinhotel.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

"Call Me Adam" video interview with Anne Marie Cummings & Gustavo Velasquez:

Thursday
Jul132017

Call Redialed: Daphne Rubin-Vega: REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival

Daphne Rubin-VegaI feel so lucky to get to do another interview with two-time Tony nominee Daphne Rubin-Vega. I am definitely one of her biggest fans and when I found out she was going to be the spokesperson this summer for REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival, I knew it was time to give her another call to talk about this venture. Much to my delight, Daphne answered my call yet again! 

I love how Daphne & I tied in her life experiences with what she hopes these students will learn from her & the program. Daphne always opens up to me with great personal experiences and these kids are very lucky to be learning from her.

Developing Artists, in a new partnership with Vineyard Theatre, brings its REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival to a new home at Vineyard Theatre (108 E. 15th St.) with performances Thursday, July 27th, July 28th, July 29th, August 3rd, August 4th and August 5th. Daphne Rubin-Vega is the spokesperson for REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival, which presents some of the best youth companies in the region. Unlike any other theatre festival, REBEL VERSES provides an opportunity for high school students to perform their own original work and to celebrate the work of their peers, and gives audiences a platform for open dialogue with emerging young artists from other companies in New York City and around the region. Now in its 13th year, the festival was born out of the need for a platform where young artists can express themselves honestly and in an environment that recognizes the legitimacy of all stories and backgrounds. With a mission to journey into the unapologetic and unrestrained creativity of the next generation, REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival values diverse stories ranging across age, sex, race and time. For tickets and further information visit http://www.developingartists.org! 

For more on Daphne be sure to visit http://www.daphnerubin-vega.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This summer you are the spokesperson for the REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival. How did this come to be? I have known Jill [DeArmon] and Jinn [Kim], the founders of Developing Artists and REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival, for many years. We share roots in the theatre going back to our days at The LAByrinth Theater Company. When they approached me about working with their students this summer, I was ready to jump in and help any way I could.

2. What do you hope the kids partaking in this festival will come away with after the festival is complete? I hope these kids experience a level of awareness that their voices have an impact - that they are not alone in their struggles to be heard and they can find strength in discovering and developing their own voices. I want them to walk away knowing that their creativity matters in a world that often appears neither to notice nor care.

3. What do you feel you will bring to the festival that another spokesperson might not? I bring me! I was in these students’ shoes - I was that child that wished for and would have benefited so much from this artistic outlet. I know how vital this program is for the development of a young person in poor or working class conditions in this city, especially in the middle of summer, when distractions and temptations are around every corner.

REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival students, Photo Credit: Bobby Rodriguez4. What do you think the kids will find the most fun part about this festival and what will be most challenging for them? The fun is in the challenge to express themselves at this vulnerable stage of their lives. It’s exciting and terrifying all at once! It’s also a great experience to discover talents you didn’t know you had, or cared to explore further, and be encouraged and empowered to pursue them. Perhaps not everyone will pursue work as an artist, but everyone involved in REBEL VERSES will grow for the better because of the tools they gain here.

5. What excites you about working with this next generation of artists? It excites me to be involved with and of service to the younger generation, period. If these kids want to exercise their creative voices, so much the better! I’m here to encourage them and say, "Yes, I came from where you are. I did it. And you can too!" I also can’t underestimate what I learn from them - most times, I think that I’m the lucky one here!

6. As a mother yourself, if your son wanted to take part in this festival, why do you think it would be a good idea for him to do so? omg My son plays soccer, which is all about teamwork, as is REBEL VERSES. It would present him with different approaches to collaboration and leadership. These students learn to work together, respect and support one another, and have fun while doing it!! My son plays soccer.

Daphne Rubin-Vega with the REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival students, Photo Credit: Kevin WeinboldDaphne Rubin-Vega with REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival students, Photo Credit: Kevin Weinbold7. What do you think the established artists taking part in this festival will learn from the students? We have the opportunity to wonder again! We are reminded why we are artists in the first place. That’s a huge idea to meditate on. I get very moved and inspired watching young people create. There’s infinite possibility in wonder. The older I get, the more fascinated I am by the resilience of youth.

8. What is something that you wish you knew as a young actress that you can impart on the next generation? Society is stumbling over itself to mold and define you. When you look a certain way, wear certain clothes, and speak a particular way, the world is making judgments and trying to understand where you fit in. This is YOUR time to see that - rebel against it, accept it, reject it, question it, embrace it; but whatever you choose to do with that, be undeniably YOU! No one else is or ever will be you - make that a good thing!

9. What is the one mistake you made, either professionally or personally, that you hope they don't make? There was a period in my life when I was very ashamed of my past. What a waste of time! My past and my experiences are the very things that make me special. Don’t forget that. Also…be punctual. Early bird gets the worm.

10. What is a F.U.Q. you hope to be able to answer for one of these students? OOOOH! What is the one things that separates us all? Being me. Otherwise, we are all one.

Daphne Rubin-VegaMore on Daphne:

Daphne Rubin-Vega is a two-time Tony and Drama Desk nominee (1996/2004) and the recipient of the Theater World, Obie (1996) and Blockbuster (1998) awards. She has been a member of the Labyrinth Theater Company since 1992. Daphne is perhaps best known for originating the roles of "Mimi" in RENT and "Conchita" in Anna in the Tropics; both were Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway shows for which she was nominated for Tony Awards. She originated the role of "Rahmi" in Karen Hartman’s Gum, "Sofia" in Nilo Cruz’s Two Sisters and a Piano, "Canary Mary" in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Fucking A (Lucille Lortel nomination) and "Lucy" in Bob Glaudini’s Jack Goes Boating at the Public Theater. She also starred in the Broadway revivals of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Magenta) and Les Miserables (Fantine).

Daphne’s film credits include detective "Gloria Perez" in Wild Things, starring Kevin Bacon and Matt Dillon (Blockbuster Award for Best Supporting Actress); "Tia" in Flawless, opposite Robert De Niro; and, most recently, reprising the role of "Lucy" in the film version of Jack Goes Boating, which was Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s film directorial debut. Other films include JusticeSkeleton Woman (New York Independent Film Award), VirginSex and the City, and I Like It Like That. Daphne is recognized for her singing as well as her acting. She was a member of the girl group Pajama Party, whose single "Yo No Se" reached the top of the Billboard dance charts. They made two albums on Atlantic Records before Daphne began writing and recording solo singles for the indie dance label Maxi. In 1997 Daphne released her first album of original music Souvenirs on the Mercury label, and in 2006 she produced, performed, and primarily wrote Redemption Songs (Sh-K- Boom). Daphne has contributed to various musical projects, including her notorious version of "Feliz Navidad" for Broadway Cares and her club smash cover of "Rocketman." In 2005, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Kean University. "Dr." Rubin-Vega was born in Panama and raised in New York City, where she lives with her husband and son.

Tuesday
Jul112017

Call Answered: Blake McIver: "Blake Sings Barbra" at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

Blake McIverIf you are a Barbra Streisand fan, this interview won't rain on your parade, except maybe this first paragraph. While I only have two or three Barbra Streisand albums and have only seen Yentl (please don't take my gay card away), I have always been fascinated with what Barbra Streisand is working on. There is something about her that intrigues me, which is one of the reasons I LOVE the fictional play Buyer & Cellar, which I feel goes inside the mind of Barbra Streisand.

When it was brought to my attention that Blake McIver was going to be bringing his acclaimed tribute show, Blake Sings Barbra to The Laurie Beechman Theatre, with her 1994 MSG concert as the backdrop, I couldn't wait to call Blake. I'm thrilled that Blake answered my call allowing me to get to the heart of what makes him LOVE Barbra Streisand so much!

After conducting this interview, Blake's enthusiasm and insight has made me want to dive deeper into the artist that is Barbra Streisand. Blake Sings Barbra will play at The Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, inside the basement of the West Bank Cafe) for one night only, Friday, July 28 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Blake be sure to visit http://www.blakemciverofficial.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

For more shows from Spin Cycle visit http://spincyclenyc.com and follow them on Twitter!

Barbra Streisand1. Aside from Barbra Streisand, who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was drawn to singing and dancing as early as I can remember. My parents both have performance backgrounds as do many of their closest friends, so I grew up in an environment where that just seemed like the thing to do; the family business, if you will. Thankfully I had a little bit of natural born ability that I could couple with a lot of hard work and training.

2. When did you become a Barbra Streisand fan? What was it about her that made you go crazy for her? I’ve been a Barbra superfan since the first time I watched Funny Girl at seven years old. I think it really is her innate ability to infuse this electric passion and character into a melody and a lyric that was almost immediately a spiritual experience for me. Obviously I didn’t have that vocabulary to explain to my mom what was going on the first time she walked in on me with a bed sheet around my waist belting "My Man" into the bathroom mirror!

3.This July you are bringing your show Blake Sings Barbra to the Laurie Beechman Theatre. The show is a love letter to "The Greatest Star" using her 1994 comeback concert as a back drop. What was it about that particular concert that touched you so much? I have wanted to do this show for years! I’ve been completely obsessed with Barbra’s 1994 concert since it first aired on HBO. It was one of those things that I would joke about with my friends and then one day I just sat down at my laptop and decided to do it! But what makes this show unique is it isn’t just a recreation of the concert note for note. I take you on a journey through my own life to explain how this particular show came to mean so much to me. It’s part theatre, part concert, part cabaret, part therapy session.

4. When you decided to create this show, did you have any reservations about singing her songs, considering they are so well known? Yes! Hahaha. But the thing is, no one is her but her, and nothing about this show is an impersonation. I definitely tried to approach all the music as if it was brand new. Also, by revealing so much of myself in the stories between the songs, they become like telling new stories through very known material.

Blake McIver, Barbra Streisand5. What was the hardest song of hers to learn and which one was a piece of cake? There are challenges in all of them because I don’t think she’s ever picked an easy song in her entire career! I definitely am the most excited performing the "I’m Still Here/Everybody Says Don’t/Don’t Rain on My Parade" medley. It’s one of my favorite moments of her show and I’ve added my own spin to it and thrown in some references to Full House, The People’s Couch, and yes even being a gogo boy! The biggest challenge interestingly enough is "Not While I’m Around." Barbra dedicated it to her son Jason in ’94 and when I do it in my show it’s dedicated to my parents who have been so vital in every step of my journey. It’s always a struggle to get through it without tears.

6. What have you enjoyed most about your journey from child actor to go-go dancer to singer/songwriter? Well it definitely hasn’t been a boring life or career! I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunities I did at such a young age. That has given me the ability to learn and grow and change and evolve within my industry. The most enjoyable part is wearing different hats. Some days my title shifts from actor to songwriter, director to choreographer or music video editor, and the list goes on. And that’s what keeps me on my toes and always trying to learn and grow and get better at each thing.

7. You were on the original Full House as "Michelle's" friend "Derek." What do you remember about your time on the show? What is one story you can share with us? I spent three wonderful years on Full House and even though it’s not salacious or click-baity, the greatest thing was how truly kind everyone was. I did a lot of episodic work on other sitcoms in the 90s and I can say that many of those sets were oppressive environments *cough Home Improvement *cough. I would always feel so happy to go back to my home base set and the wonderful group of people both on and off camera who made that show happen.

Blake McIver, Photo Credit: DNA Magazine8. How did you get involved in the world of go-go dancing? What made you want to be part of it? Well, for me it’s always been about music. The first thing I ever did professionally was win Star Search as Jr. Vocal Champion ’92. Full House, Little Rascals, and all of the other "child actor" things came into my life as a result of that. My parents are both incredibly skilled actors so I was lucky to have great teachers in my own home. I always knew I would return to music. At 19, I started writing and songs began pouring out of me. I wanted to create a concept album based on the stories of my very strange childhood and how I evolved past them. Obviously that’s the last thing a record label wants to hear! So I did it on my own. The trick was, I didn’t have the money to finance it so instead of doing a kickstarter or an indie go go, I became a go-go! It was perfect because I could write and sing all day and then do what I called my "vocal rest/paid cardio" at night. The cash in my underwear literally made my dreams come true, haha! *And please download the fruits of my labor The Time Maniuplator on iTunes (SHAMELESS PLUG)!

9. Like Barbra got Back to Broadway, let's get back to talking about her and you. As a super fan, what is something you know about Barbra that the average person wouldn't? As Rosie O'Donnell learned the hard way when she had Barbra on her talk show, Babs likes to drink champagne with a hint of peach juice. It’s not quite a bellini, and definitely not a mimosa. I just want the opportunity to offer her a drink once so that I can say, "Can I get you a champagne with a splash of fresh peach?" and see her reaction.

10. If you record an album of duets with Barbra herself, what songs would want to sing with her (please keep it to a limit of 10 or less)? So here’s the thing, if that ultimate fantasy were to ever happen I would want to pick all new material. Her recordings are already so iconic, why would anyone dare to mess with them. The only exception is I would want to do a duet version of "Woman in the Moon" from her A Star Is Born. It’s my absolute favorite and I think I could find some interesting harmonies there, haha!

11. As a Barbra Streisand fan, I'm guessing you are aware of the critically acclaimed one-man show Buyer & Cellar, the fictional story about an out-of-work actor who gets a job working in the "mall" in the basement of Barbra Streisand's house. There is a scene in the show where Barbra and "Alex" share a moment together over ice cream. If you could have ice cream with Barbra Streisand, what would you want to talk with her about? Yes, don’t tell her but I did love Buyer & Cellar! I saw Michael Urie’s incredible performance and then my boyfriend (actor Emerson Collins) went on to do two critically acclaimed productions of it, so I’m now very well versed in the world of the basement. And of course, like the character of "Alex" I believe I’m the only other person on the planet who has actually read My Passion For Design cover to cover! If I had the "ice cream" moment I would talk about something really nerdy and specific: vocal placement. What makes her voice so spectacular to me is her ability to bend a note, a vowel, or even a phrase across the plane of her range. I’m completely obsessed and I want to know what goes on in her brain when she makes those iconic choices.

Mary Lane Haskell and Blake McIver12. What have you learned about yourself from Barbra Streisand? Never settle. If it’s not right, then figure out a way to get it right. Also, put the work first, above all, and don’t worry what anyone is saying about you. If you’re proud of your work, it will speak for itself.

13. For me, I went and saved the best for last. Your director: Mary Lane Haskell! I am a big fan of hers, so I'm beyond thrilled to see that she is directing this show. What made you want to work with her? What is a common interest or love about Barbra Streisand that you both share that you didn't know prior to working with her? Mary Lane is like a sister to me. We grew up together in LA and our families have been extremely close since before we were born. We watched the 1994 concert together countless times over the years (on both VHS & Laser Disk, you’re welcome) and she is equally obsessed with it. And beyond just the personal and historical connection I have such a deep respect for her as an artist. She’s got an incredible and unique perspective and she was able to bring things out of me in this process that I never dreamed would end up in the show. It’s truly one of my favorite collaborations ever. I could have never done this without her amazing vision.

Blake McIverMore on Blake:

Blake McIver has been performing since the age of six when he won Star Search as Junior Vocalist Champion and he has been working as a professional singer, actor and entertainer ever since in film, television and theatre. His film work began with a breakout performance as "Waldo" in The Little Rascals. In television, he starred as a series regular for three seasons as "Derek" on Full House opposite Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and went on to guest star on The Drew Carey Show, Clueless, Home Improvement, and The Nanny. Blake played "Edgar" in the US Premiere of the musical Ragtime and was the youngest person to ever be nominated for a Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award for his performance. Other theatre highlights include "Freddie" in Chess, "Fabrizio" in The Light In The Piazza, "Radames" in AIDA and "Link" in Hairspray. Blake has also worked extensively in voiceover and animation including Tarzan, The Little Mermaid II, Anastasia, Recess, and as the beloved "Eugene" on Hey Arnold. Blake has also worked extensively as session vocalist, backup singer and featured soloist for recording artists such as Michael Jackson, David Foster, Natalie Cole, Phil Collins and Barry Manilow. Blake is currently starring in BRAVO’s hit series The People’s Couch. He also released a solo album entitled The Time Manipulator.