Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

    

"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Friday
Nov172017

Call Answered: Rick Skye: "Bazazz! A Sequined Variety" at Don't Tell Mama

Rick Skye, Photo Credit: Trevor SwingleLiza Minnelli is one of the most impersonated icons of our time. Everyone who pays homage to her brings their own flair & talent with it. When I was introduced to Rick Skye, one of the world's most well known Liza impersonators, I just had to "Ring Them Bells" and find out more.

Rick, who's show Judy and Liza Together Again just finished a seven year run at Don't Tell Mama this past June, is already returning to the venue with a new monthly variety show called Bazazz! A Sequined Variety. In addition to Rick, November's show will feature Steven Brinberg as Barbra Streisand and entertainer Sidney Myer. Cabaret favorite Ricky Ritzel is the evening’s Musical Director.

Bazazz! A Sequened Variety will play Don't Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) on Saturday, November 25 at 8pm. Click here for tickets!

Designed by Andy Drachtenberg1. Besides Liza Minnelli, who or what inspired you to become a performer? I think you are born a performer and the performers who came before you set the bar for the type of artist you want to grow into. I was initially inspired by all the MGM Musicals, I Love Lucy, Judy, Cher, Bette Midler, all the brilliant Broadway shows that had stars that glittered and belted it out. I love a song and dance Diva that holds the audience for two hours with the force of her unique, individual personality. Shows used to revolve around those and it was my ambition to be able to do that. There isn't a school for that. "You either have it, or you've had it" to quote Mama Rose. The important thing is to get up anywhere and everywhere and perform for the experience. You need a lot of tricks in your bag to be able to keep that audience from fidgeting - especially NOW. So, I absorbed everything from the last generation of performers, but, all that set aside - Judy Garland has been my lifelong inspiration and muse in all things. The "World's Greatest Entertainer."

2. You recently started a monthly variety show at Don't Tell Mama called Bazazz! A Sequined Variety. When did you get the idea to start this show? I didn't! I had been performing in a show entitled Judy and Liza Together Again that ran most Saturday nights at Don't Tell Mama for almost seven years! It just kept running and running and then it finally ended last June. The managers at Don't Tell Mama contacted me in September and said that it just "hadn't been the same" on Saturday nights without a big show in the back room and would I consider doing a Variety show, as Liza, once a month that could turn into a long running thing. I was skeptical at first because there were other things I wanted to pursue at the time, but sometimes you "walk through the door that is open," ya know? So, I said, "Yes!" and kept my fingers crossed.

Rick Skye as Liza Minnelli3. What do you like about this format as opposed to putting together a one man show? I am really enjoying working with choreographer Kyle Rostan and the dancers. We do a really razzle dazzle opening number called "Bazazz," which is a song written by Liza's Godmother Kay Thompson with four part Jazz harmonies and it's just PURE JOY from start to finish. Opening night it really set the audience up for a good time. I also get to do Kander and Ebbs "Arthur in the Afternoon" from The Act, a show that Liza won the Tony Award for. I want to put in more numbers with me and the boys as time goes on. They are all talented and full of "Bazazz!" (which is a word Kay Thompson coined for the film Funny Face - it's a blending of "Bazaar" and "Pizazz," but you knew that, 'natch).

4. This month's show (November 25) features Barbra Streisand impersonator Steven Brinberg and entertainer Sidney Myer. What are you looking forward to most about having them on the show? For Steven and I it will be a sweet reunion. We have performed together many times, most notably in London for four spectacular, sold out nights at the Leicester Square Theater and at the Dublin Theater Festival. We both want to sing "Face to Face" from War Paint in "Bazazz!" and I'm going to move heaven and earth to try and make that happen. Sidney Myer is always a unique present whenever he graces a stage, so I am hoping he will add a little spice to the mix. He is a legend in Cabaret circles, so that's a lot of legends on one stage!

Rick Skye as Liza Minnelli5. Also on this variety show, you will be performing as Liza Minnelli, which you have been heralded for. What was it about Liza that made you want to impersonate her? Well, the way it began had nothing to do with "wanting" to impersonate her. I wrote a song for a "Liza" character to sing in a revue that I wrote called MaCabaret - A Tabloid Fable. All the actors played five parts, so they were either onstage performing or changing their clothes. Nobody was available in the middle of the show to sing this one song.  So, I plopped on a wig, made a red slash of a mouth, threw on a sequined schmatte and did the song and it brought down the house. When the show closed, I kept singing that song in a comedy night and week after week people told me that I should do more. So, finally I wrote a show called A Slice O' Minnelli and did a whole evening. Since she has always been my spirit animal it was a thrill to finally be able to exercise that electric style of performing fully.

6. What is the hardest part about impersonating her? The inside is easier for me because I am an actor and the way she is is basically the way I am. It was the outside that I always have a struggle with. I try week after week to make my face, which is almost the exact opposite of hers, to look like her. I want to do the character justice. The clothes all have to be custom made. Her look is so iconic that you have to get the details right, especially in a show where the audience is looking at you for an hour and a half. There has to be a moment in every evening where the audience buys into it and their belief takes over and they begin to think you REALLY look like her, or REALLY sound like her, when, in fact, there is a little magic involved. So I try to perfect as much of the "outside" as I can ahead of time. That is hard.

Rick Skye as Liza Minnelli7. Has Liza Minnelli herself ever see your impersonation of her? If so, what was her reaction? If not, would you want that to happen? Liza hasn't ever seen me and if she were to see me I would hope she would know that the deep love I have for her is what informs every detail of my performance. Even when I make little jokes at the expense of her public persona, because, after all, that is the only thing one really knows about, they are done on the sly and with great affection. I try to capture and bring to the audience what is great about her. She has given me so many nights of thrilling entertainment that I hope, in my own way and with my OWN talent, I can approximate that type of evening for my audiences.

8. Liza is very famous for her rendition of "New York, New York." So, what are some of your favorite things to do in NYC? I always say, "Aren't I lucky to live in my favorite city?" I love to wander the streets with a cup of coffee on an early Sunday morning and wave to Radio City Music Hall, go to a street fair, eat in Little Italy, watch a Joan Crawford movie at the Film Forum, have lunch with Charles Busch and dish the dirt, go to Happy Hour at The Monster and sing all the old songs, take a twirl on the dance floor, go to an Off-Broadway Show, stroll through Central Park and, well, you get the idea...

9. What have you learned about Liza Minnelli from impersonating her that the average person wouldn't know? That she must be made out of iron. To be a star of that magnitude, the amount of discipline and energy that goes into those gargantuan performances really takes an enormous amount of energy. The timing of your day, when to eat, when to begin make up, the whole day revolves around show after show and then travel and then greeting people after and getting enough rest and the stress of keeping everyone together and rehearsals etc. It takes a very special kind of person who would rather perform than do anything else to try and hold such an enterprise together.

10. If you could sing a duet with Liza Minnelli, on one of her songs, which one would you choose? I think it would have to be "A Quiet Thing." First of all, we wouldn't both have to scream over each other and secondly it holds a lot of meaning to people whenever they hear it. And we could harmonize, so there's that. That would be a dream come true. And a very "quiet thing"...

Rick SkyeMore on Rick:

Rick Skye is a multi-award winning performer who has enjoyed international success. Training with the Joffrey Ballet and the famed Stella Adler, Rick toured the US with Ann Reinking and Sandy Duncan in The American Dance Machine Show and in the Kennedy Center Production of Miss Liberty. He acted with Dorothy Louden in a role written especially for him by Paul Zindel in Danny and Della. He did a stint on All My Children and appeared in the film The Cater Waiter starring David Drake. His friendship with Neil Sedaka led to his writing and starring in The Flip Side of Neil Sedaka which earned him a nomination as "Best Newcomer" by The Manhattan Association of Cabarets. His revue, MaCabaret - a tabloid fable ran for nine months in New York and in 2008 he created a new revue entitled The War of the Mama Roses - the Ultimate Audition for GYPSY starring some of the world's foremost impersonators and which enjoyed a successful run in New York. He joined forces with the legendary "Madame" of "Wayland Flowers and Madame" fame and toured the U.S. with Its Madame with an E! which he wrote and starred in. The duo played Resorts International in Atlantic City, the Suncoast Casino in Las Vegas, The RRAZZ Room in San Francisco as well as Feinstein's at the Regency in New York City. He was a contributing writer and performer of Bawdy! - Off Broadway's Biggest Little Vaudeville and most recently won acclaim for creating and directing Sacred Monster a hyperemotional evening of song, drama and comedy starring Billy Lykken.

Tuesday
Nov142017

Call Redialed: Julie Halston: "Life, Death & Filler" at Broadway at Birdland

Julie HalstonI have interviewed Julie Halston multiple times over the years, but this NEW interview is truly the most heartfelt one we have done! Whether acting on stage or performing stand-up comedy, Julie knows how to get the laugh! But even the funniest people out there experience heartache and Julie recently experienced the worst heartbreak of them all - losing her mother, Julia Madeline Gardner Abatelli.

But like any performer, Julie is using her comedic talents to get through the grief. A staple in her one-woman comedy shows, Julie will be paying tribute to her mother in her new show Life, Death & Filler on Monday, November 20 at 7pm at Birdland (315 West 44th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) as part of Jim Caruso's Broadway at Birdland series. Click here for tickets! 

For more on Julie be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Julie Halston, Photo Credit: Bill Westmoreland1. On November 20, you are returning to Birdland with your new show Life, Death & Filler. What can you tell us about this new show? Well it is a mix of new and old material but even the old material is a bit updated. I have a NEW Joan Crawford reading along with some oldies and it is all coming from the perspective of what I have experienced lately which is the death of my Mom and the addition of some new facial Botox! Because when your Mom dies it's good to get Botox! Grief causes lines – get rid of them!

2. What do you think will surprise fans about this show? I think what may surprise people about this show is that I am talking about death so openly – but epic topics are important to address and especially humorously.

3. I am LOVING the different posters you are using to promote the show. My favorite poster thus far is your homage to "What Becomes a Legend Most." How did you come up with the idea to use that campaign for this show? This photo was from an amazing shoot I did with Jim Caruso, Billy Stritch, Natalie Douglas and Klea Blackhurst a year or so ago for a magazine called BLEEP. Our photographer was the divine Bill Westmoreland. That photo came out and Jim immediately picked up on the Legend theme from the 1960's ads for Blackglama -- He created the ad -- It's HEAVEN and people LOVE IT!

Julie Halston4. Life, Death and Filler is your first show since losing your mother just a few months ago. Did you put this show together after her passing as a tribute to her or was this something you were working on prior? I definitely am using this show as a tribute to my Mom. My mother was hilarious without realizing it of course (the best kind). She just said the funniest things so as I said in my eulogy to her -- "Mom I'm NOT retiring you from the act!" I mean this was a woman who after seeing HAMILTON said, "Well it's not Cats but I loved the stagecraft." Crazy huh?

5. What do you think will be the hardest part about performing? How do you think performing will help you move forward with the mourning process? Performing is always hard in one sense because it takes ENERGY – especially Comedy which not only takes a great deal of energy but also PRECISION TIMING IS PRECISE! If you hit the wrong note in music, we will hear that -- It's the same in comedy -- The wrong note (timing) is hit and the laugh crashes.

Performing when you are down or sick or just low in energy is especially difficult -- HOWEVER, I have always found that even when I feel like I have nothing to offer, the audience enlivens me and it helps me to feel better emotionally and physically. Performing will definitely help me move through the mourning process. Also, my Mom loved the theatre very much so every time I get up on a stage, I can in a sense keep her alive!

Julie Halston's Mom, Julia Madeline Gardner Abatelli6. What do you miss most about your mom? What I miss most is calling my Mom and telling her what I’m working on next -- she just LOVED hearing about my work and I feel so sad I can't just call her and tell her my upcoming new gigs! (which I can't talk about yet)

7. Since the show is called Life Death and Filler: How do you approach life today since losing your mom? Did her passing change your thoughts about death? How will you "Fill" the time in between - meaning, what do you still want to accomplish that you haven't? What I still want to accomplish is so many things - Bigger roles, more complex roles, a house in CT (working on that) and some filler on my face (no joke). And of course losing that last five pounds. Getting older means it's getting harder to lose that middle age spread thing and its hideous. Call me deeply shallow but I simply MUST have a certain amount of glam in my life. And that means being a bit fitter and thinner. I'm not trying to fat shame anyone, just myself.

8. I do have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now" where I aim to clear up misconceptions about people. What do you think is the biggest misconception out there about yourself that you would like to clear the air about? I think because I have played some tough divas in my life so people think I might be a big ole diva bitch --- I pride myself on being a team player so that would be something I'd like people to know -- although don't cross me 'cos I am Half Sicilian!

Julie Halston, Photo Credit: Bill WestmorelandMore on Julie:

Julie Halston is one of New York’s busiest actresses. Well-known to theatre audiences, she was recently nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her critically acclaimed performance in You Can’t Take it With You. She was also singled out for her performance in Charles Busch’s The Tribute Artist, and for her performance as "Mother" in the Kennedy Center production of The Guardsman. She has appeared in many Broadway and off-Broadway productions including Anything Goes, Hairspray, Gypsy, The Twentieth Century, (Outer Critics Circle Nomination), The Divine Sister (Drama Desk Nomination), Love Loss and What I Wore, and numerous others. Julie was a founding member of Charles Busch’s now legendary theatre company, Theatre- in-Limbo and has co-starred with him in over ten productions including Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, The Lady in Question, Red Scare on Sunset (Drama Desk Nomination), Shanghai Moon and Olive and The Bitter Herbs.

In addition to theatre, Julie is known to television audiences as "Bitsy Von Muffling" from the smash hit Sex and The City, "Tina Carmello" from The Class and to younger audience members as "Antigone Carruthers" from The Electric Company. Although primarily an actress, Julie has won awards for the solo comedy pieces which she has performed all over the US including Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York. Her SRO solo show was extended five times at NY’s famed Birdland Jazz Club. CBS developed a TV pilot based on her one-woman show, Julie Halston’s Lifetime of Comedy, which she wrote and starred in for over six months off-Broadway. She received an Outer Critics Circle Nomination for her writing. Along with co-author, Donna Daley, she wrote the critically acclaimed book, Monologues for Show-Offs, published by Heinemann Press. It is currently being used by many casting directors, acting teachers and universities as an important resource for actors and is now being developed as a dramatic piece. Her most recent essay, The Greatest Thing I Never Did was chosen to appear in the book, No Kidding, featuring some of America’s funniest women writers. Julie was the recipient of the 2013 Nightlife Award for Outstanding Comedy Performer.

Tuesday
Nov142017

Call Redialed: Chris Harder: "Porn to be a Star" at Stonewall Inn

Chris Harder, Photo Credit: Adrian BuckmasterLast year, Chris Harder stripped down to reveal all with me about his show #BigBrightStar. Now Chris is back, unzipping even more details of his professional life in his new show Porn to be a Star, directed by Obie-winner David Drake. Porn to be a Star is loosely based on Chris' own experiences in porn. Chris takes you by the hand on an up, close, and in your face search for fame, followers and a place to shine in the gay adult industry.

Featuring new characters and plenty of surprises to unzip, Porn to be a Star is set around the annual "Dirty Dish Porn Awards." Chris introduces you to a variety of adult performers, directors and even his mother, all weighing in on the coveted "Porn Star of the Year" trophy. Who will take home the title? Zach Parks, the trailer park kid turned Twitter socialite? Gay for pay bang bro’s, Patrick and Duncan? Or that home grown, homo-from-the-range himself, Chris Harder? (He’ll put a camera anywhere, you know.) You’ll have to click at the Dish to find out.

Porn to be a Star will play at the Stonewall Inn in NYC's West Village (53 Christopher Street) November 29-December 7 at 7:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Chris be sure to visit http://www.harderburlesque.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. This November/December you are bringing your new show Porn to be a Star to the Stonewall Inn. Loosely based on your own experiences in gay porn, how does this show differ from your previous show #BigBrightStar? Well, in a nut shell, Porn to be a Star is all the good parts of #BigBrightStar restructured into a new plot with additional characters and also choreography. It really is a completely new show, but fans who saw #BigBrightStar might recognize certain monologues and characters too. Essentially I wanted to expand the scope of my work to not just be my story but the combined stories of all these different porn stars each battling to win the fictional "Dirty Dish Porn Star of the Year" award. So I would say Porn to be a Star gives you the extra inch view into the world of gay porn where as #BigBrightStar was just a taste of my own life.

2. Porn to be a Star takes the audience by the hand on an up, close, and in your face search for fame, followers and a place to shine in the gay adult industry. In our last interview we discussed how you got into the gay adult film industry, now I want to know, what do you remember about your first film---excitement? nerves? When did you realize you were a porn star? I think more than anything I was just excited for my first "on camera" experience, which was a solo scene but done in a documentary style so I was also stripping and go-go dancing. I imagine a lot of male performers might worry about whether or not they can get an erection on film and I won’t lie, I felt the same way. But once the camera was on I suddenly felt very at home with myself and things just kind of, "sprang" into action. In some ways that feeling is no different from when I’m doing a burlesque number or even acting. There is definitely an exhibitionist bone in my body and a joy that comes from entertaining an audience. I think one of the questions Porn to be a Star asks is what happens when it seems the audience is no longer watching? And what does it really mean to be a star? There are millions of stars in the sky but we don't see everyone and we certainly can't name everyone, so are they stars? And...if a porn star falls in the woods and no one hears him...actually never mind.

The Official Porn to be a Star Trailer! from Chris Harder on Vimeo.

3. What has been the best part about being a gay porn star? What was your most frightening moment? Performing on camera helped me understand my body in ways I don't think I otherwise would have realized. A common misconception about adult film performers and sex workers is that we become "numb" to sex. However, I learned how to value and use my body to literally work in ways that many people I think at times feel self conscious and intimidated by even when the camera isn't watching. That doesn't mean every day onset feels completely "empowering" or that I'm having transcendental orgasms with every scene partner either. Porn is pleasure. Porn is work. And porn is product.

The most frightening thing to happen to me onset? Well, I can honestly say I've always felt very well taken care of by my directors onset, even if I haven't always enjoyed my scene partner(s)--again, porn is work. I think the most "scary" time onset though was when I shot a scene in an abandoned cotton gin outside of Manchester--you know, a typical Monday. We were on the second floor and my friend casually said, "Watch out for the mossy areas, the floor is basically eaten away and you'll fall into the basement." Nothing like a potential death drop to motivate you through missionary!

Chris Harder4. Since the show talks about other voices commenting on what it means to be a star, what was that conversation like when you told your mom you were a porn star? My mother and my family in general were less than thrilled when I told them I was "officially Harder" online. That said, they didn’t denounce me either. I think I’m very fortunate to have a mother who wants me to succeed in life and also worries about all my life choices, whether it’s wearing a leather jacket in winter or a leather jock strap onset. At this point though I don’t think anything can faze her. In general the relationship I have with my mother has been on a long journey ever since coming out to her in high school. I even play a version of her in Porn to be a Star--spoiler alert! She requested a pink wig but we’re in talks.

5. What advice would you give someone wanting to break into the gay adult film industry? What's one warning you would tell them as well? I’ve never directly told anyone, "you should definitely do porn," because even though I don’t regret my own decision, it is one of those "big adult choices." It’s like buying a car except everyone can Google your car and then say things like, "wow, your car obviously has a lot of miles on it." Or write you really short messages on Facebook like, "Hey. Hot car."

What I️ would say above all else is respect your body. It is literally your work tool. And also, have fun. Sex should be enjoyed. Filming porn is hard work but ideally there are moments when you can actually enjoy that work—even when you have to freeze in mid-thrust while a light is adjusted.

Chris Harder6. You probably have a lot of stories you can tell about your time in the porn industry. What is one story you are ready to unzip and reveal that you have not told previously? One of the most fun yet bizarre scenes I filmed was this FBI agent/criminal scene with Wolf Hudson for Kink.com. I️ (as agent Harder) chased Wolf all across the giant rooftop of a reconverted cathedral in San Francisco until he masterfully disarmed me and then captured me with my own handcuffs--we call that porn magic. You can fill in the rest--Wolf certainly did--but during the shoot a bunch of construction workers on the roof directly across from us would cheer and shout encouragement. You know you're having a true San Francisco moment when you're strapped up in bondage on an abandoned cathedral now owned by a hippie colony while questionably gay construction workers provide commentary during their lunch break.

7. I have a new segment in my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now," where I give the interviewee the opportunity to clear up any misconceptions about themselves. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about you that you want to clear up? To be honest, one of the hardest parts of being a performer for me, whether it’s onstage or in front of the camera, is letting go of what people think of me and specifically of my work. I want people to enjoy both my porn and my writing but you can’t be everyone’s favorite. In fact, now I would worry I was doing something wrong if I️ was everyone’s favorite. That said, I’d love it if people acknowledged that I actually am the writer of my plays and solo pieces. I️ usually get at least one person each show who says, "Did you right that all by yourself?" That to me is the equivalent of a pat on the head. But again, you can't control what people think. No matter what you do for a living, I think we are always trying to impress someone to get to that "next level." And simultaneously, we are all most likely guilty of underestimating a person we perceive to be below us in some capacity. It's more motivation for me to just get back to the work.

Chris Harder, Photo Credit: Richard Burrowes8. Let's go in a bit deeper now. Yeah, you like it deeper? Haha. The by-line of Porn to be a Star is "Porn to be a Star is funny, shocking, and biting in all the right places. My question to you is, what is the funniest thing to happen to you during sex? What's the most shocking thing to happen to you during sex? What are all the right places you like to bite someone? I like it any way as long as my scene minimum is being met.

Funniest moment: This is probably only funny to me, but I think it's hilarious that we have "lunch breaks" onset. I'd rather plow through the work but inevitably we will stop and a PA will ask me, "Do you want a burrito?" Well, not unless you want to make this a really long day for everyone else.

Most shocking moment: The day my scene partner had a burrito.

(Consensual) biting: Neck and back--just like Kelis! I like a little nipple play too although I feel like most gay men I've been with have only two speeds in that area: "rip my nipples off" or maybe, maybe give them a little flick. The journey is long my friends.

9. Along the same lines, what are your favorite things to do in bed? I can't give away all my secrets--no one would come to my play! Working in nightlife and porn has always been an interesting line for me to walk with my public and personal sex life. Every performer handles it differently but I like being able to have private, "me time" sex and relationships. I don't post a lot of photos of my boyfriend or "BTS" moments in my bedroom because I like having something for myself. Also, the lighting in my room sucks.

10. How hard does Chris Harder get? No matter what I'm doing, there's a good chance I really like my work on a given day. So I try "harder" (see what I did there) to push myself to be the best porn/burlesque/writer/actor/naked freelancer I can be.

Chris HarderMore on Chris:

Chris Harder is a New York male burlesque performer, writer, and porn star. Known as "The Raunchy Romeo of Burlesque," Harder has toured his solo burlesque performances throughout the US as well as Europe including shows in London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, and Stockholm. Harder was named "Best of the Naked City" by the Village Voice (2011) and also crowned "Best International Male Performer" at the 2011 World Burlesque Games, London. Recently, Chris Harder was one of the American Headliners for the 2017 Helsinki Burlesque Festival and also a featured burlesque performer at the 2017 World Buskers Festival, New Zealand. Harder is also the writer and producer of the Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy series, New York. Find out more and #getHarder at www.HarderBurlesque.com and @HarderBurlesque on Instagram and Twitter.

Monday
Nov132017

Call Redialed: Andrew Keenan-Bolger: "Kris Kringle The Musical" at Town Hall NYC

Andrew Keenan-BolgerIt has been five years since I last interviewed Andrew Keenan-Bolger and let me say, a lot has changed for both of us. I changed my interview style asking more insightful, but still fun questions and Andrew has starred in several Broadway shows, made a handful of films, wrote a book, and got engaged. I am beyond excited to get to do this new interview with Andrew as he readies to originate the role of "Kris Kringle" in the one night only event Kris Kringle The Musical! 

Kris Kringle The Musical, narrated by Cathy Rigby, weaves a new and entirely original tale that will delight audiences of all ages. Based on one of the most familiar names of holiday folklore, this is the tale of a young, starry-eyed toymaker, "Kris Kringle," who crosses paths with an evil New York City toy company CEO and finds himself wrapped up in a magical curse with the power to destroy Christmas. From the top of the world in the North Pole, "Kris Kringle" teams up with "Santa and Mrs. Claus," the beautiful "Evelyn Noel," a band of hilarious "Apprentices" and "Elves," and magical "Toys" to remind us what Christmas is really about.

Kris Kringle The Musical will play Town Hall in NYC (123 West 43rd Street, between Broadway & 6th Avenue) on Friday, November 24 at 3pm and 8pm. Click here for tickets!

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

1. On November 24, you will be starring in the one night only performance of a new musical, Kris Kringle The Musical. What made you want to be part of this show? I really loving getting to do theatre for young audiences. I remember being a kid and seeing local productions that completely changed my life. I often think back to how powerful it was to be exposed to the performing arts at a young age and I try as much as possible to find excuses to perform in theatre that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Kris Kringle is something you can bring the whole family to and I was excited about getting to be a part of that this holiday season.

2. In this show you play "Kris Kringle." What do you relate to most about him? What is one characteristic of his you are glad you yourself don't possess? At his root, "Kris Kringle" is in search of a community and a family. When I moved to New York, I wanted desperately to feel like I was a part of something. The theatre community ended up becoming my chosen family and the safe space I’d been searching for.

As for characteristics I’m glad I don’t possess, I feel like I’m slightly less of a hot mess when it comes to holding onto employment.

Andrew Keenan Bolger in "Newsies"3. "Kris Kringle" is a young, starry-eyed toymaker. What were you most excited about when you were a starry-eyed actor just starting out? Do you still get that same starry-eyed today with each new project? I was a total MTN (Musical Theater Nerd) growing up. I had a massive binder of cast albums and prided myself in knowing all of the actors who sang on them. It was hard to stay cool when I grew up and started working alongside some of these voices from my childhood. Even today I totally nerd out about performing alongside certain actors. One of the things I’m most excited about is getting to share a stage with "Peter Pan," "Cinderella" and "Marta" from COMPANY.

4. Your character, "Kris Kringle" also crosses paths with an evil NYC toy company CEO who through a magical curse threatens to destroy Christmas. What has been the most evil thing you've had to encounter so far in your life? My fiancé is a political journalist. I feel like I’ve seen some of the most unimaginable evil close up in the past few years.

5. Then "Kris Kringle" teams up with "Santa and Mrs. Claus," "Evelyn Noel," "Apprentices," "Elves," and "Toys" to remind us what Christmas is really about. Who or what has been your favorite collaborative team thus far? When I was a kid I got to be a part of the musical Ragtime. The combination of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty along with the direction of Frank Galati and Graciella Danielle was a collaboration I’ll never forget.

Andrew Keenan-Bolger and his fiancé Scott Bixby6. What do you believe Christmas is really about? I think any excuse to sit down and spend some quality time with your family is a holiday worth celebrating.

7. What's your Christmas wish this year? I’m recently engaged and I’m so excited to be spending Christmas for the first time with my fiancé’s family.

8. What was your favorite Christmas gift to receive as a child and what is your favorite adult gift to get? I remember getting a microscope when I was a kid. I was always a curious child and I would find all kinds of things from my house and backyard to look at on a microscopic level. As an adult, my sister Maggie is super crafty and creative and always makes us gifts that would make Etsy cry they are so cool.

9. Congratulations on your recent engagement. That is so exciting! What is one Christmas tradition from childhood you hope to continue with Scott and what is one tradition you would like to make up with himself? I have already subjected him to the Keenan-Bolger tradition of watching White Christmas every Christmas Eve. We mostly fast-forward through the book scenes, but I can’t imagine he’s going to get off the hook with that tradition any time soon.

In terms of the Bixbys, Scott’s mom is an amazing cook. I’m hoping I can finally get in on some of her secret holiday recipes.

Andrew Keenan-BolgerMore on Andrew:

Andrew Keenan-Bolger is an actor, director, author and filmmaker. He's been working in the entertainment industry since the age of 10 when he made his Broadway debut as "Chip" in Beauty and the Beast. Recently, he starred as "Jesse Tuck" in Tuck Everlasting on Broadway (Drama League Award nominee). He created the role of "Crutchie" in Newsies on Broadway (Outer Critics Circle nominee) as well as the record-breaking film version which premiered in 2017. Other Broadway credits include Mary PoppinsSeussicalA Christmas Carol. 1st Nat'l Tours: Spelling BeeHow The Grinch Stole ChristmasMary PoppinsRagtime. On film he's portrayed "Billy Frazier" in The Rewrite starring Hugh Grant, Marci XYou Must Be Joking and the upcoming To Dust starring Matthew Broderick. TV credits include Nurse Jackie (Showtime), Looking (HBO), Naked Brothers Band (Nickelodeon), One Life to Live.

He has a B.F.A. from the University of Michigan. His work as a filmmaker has been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, The Associated Press and New York Magazine. He is the director of the award-winning short films Sign and The Ceiling Fan. Along with collaborator, Kate Wetherhead, he is the co-creator of the critically acclaimed webseries, Submissions Only (www.submissionsonly.com) and co-author of the best-selling children's book series Jack & Louisa. (Penguin Random House).

Sunday
Nov122017

Call Redialed: Aaron David Gleason: "Wry Observer"

Aaron David GleasonIt's so great to catch up singer/songwriter Aaron David Gleason on the heels of his new album Wry Observer being released last month. I really enjoyed learning about the making of this album, why Aaron waited 12 years between albums, finding his place in this world, his favorite things to do in NYC, and remembering his grandfather, Monty Hall, co-creator of the hit game show Let's Make A Deal.

Aaron will be celebrating the release of his new album with a concert this Tuesday, November 14 at Rockwood Music Hall (169 Allen Street) at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

Wry Observer is available via iTunes!

For more on Aaron be sure to visit https://www.aarondavidgleason.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer/singer/songwriter? David Bowie, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, The Beatles....and a million others....but Bowie and Rufus at that age when you really decide.

2. Last month you released, your second album, Wry Observer, 12 years after your second album. Why did you wait 12 years in between albums? I was waiting because my first album got crushed by the press and by the industry after that. That hurt. I also felt like I wasn't as good as I would like to be. I had to reevaluate and take inventory. I did that. I came to New York where I was dressed down immediately! That was painful but necessary. I'm grateful for the New York kiss, as it were. Is that a term? Nope, just made it up. But there is a term, "Glasgow Kiss," and it was figuratively similar.

3. How do you feel you have grown as a singer/songwriter in these 12 years? I feel like I'm naked now as a singer. I'm not hiding behind artifice. That took me a long time, since despite what it seems, I'm very shy.

4. On November 14 you are celebrating the release of Wry Observer with a concert at Rockwood Music Hall. What are you looking forward to most about this concert? What are you most nervous about premiering this new music? Most looking forward to sharing this excitement with a crowd and a crowd mostly of friends. I love my band, and time stands still when we perform, so it will be nice to stop the clock again. As far as performing 10 songs in a row for the first time, yeah...trying not to think about that haha....

5. Why did you name the album Wry Observer? I've always felt like a reporter. Maybe it was a protective shield. I'm a watcher. I'm fascinated by the human condition. But I also know very much that as much as I think I'm the watcher, there will always be someone watching me. So...who is the wry observer? I think Rashoman has an interesting answer to that question.

6. One of the songs on your new album is "Place in the World." How did making this album help you find your place in this world? I'm a songwriter. As much as I love acting, or performing music, my deepest passion is songwriter. I think about it like a puzzle and talk about it ad nauseum.

Aaron David Gleason7. Another song you recorded for Wry Observer is called "Brooklyn at Dawn," an ode to the clarity and introspection that only exists in the wee hours of the morning. What is something you learned or got clarity on at the wee hours in the morning? There is no bravado early in the morning. So anything I've ever done by sheer bravado, doesn't count. When I'm up that early, I see myself in the most brutal but purifying light. It's not fun, but like meditation, its ripple effect of good is very appreciated.

8. One more song on the album is "Nueva York." What are some of your favorite things to do in NYC? How do you like to spend the holidays in NYC? Oh I love The Village and part of me just adores the funkiness of Alphabet City, though I'm sure it's a much more sanitized, homogenized place than in 1979, say. But there is a pulse there, and it's undeniable. I lived in Greenpoint for 7 years--I'm so grateful for that time, it fed my soul a lot. Holidays? I live in Tarrytown now, it's pretty beautiful around that time.

Monty Hall, "Let's Make A Deal"9. In these 12 years between albums, what is the biggest change you made in your life that you feel allowed you to finally make new music? The biggest change has just been to incrementally follow the path to humanity instead of lusting after celebrity. I lust after humanity now and it's much more gratifying.

10. This past September your grandfather, Monty Hall (co-creator of the game show Let's Make A Deal) passed away. What is something you learned from your grandfather about the world of entertainment? What do you miss most about him? The world of entertainment is a mirage...a very beautifully crafted one. Life is family and good deeds and loyalty--he embodied that more than humanly possible at times. That education will never leave me. He always asked how my gigs went. I miss very much sharing victories with him. But it's my job now to be that to someone else. So Adam, tell me what's going on in YOUR life :)

Aaron David Gleason, Photo Credit: Alex TurshMore on Aaron:

Singer-songwriter Aaron David Gleason isn’t afraid to think outside of the box. His approach to creating his music is nothing less than inspired -- years in the making, his new album, Wry Observer, finally expresses exactly the things he’s needed to say.

Wry Observer was recorded over four days at Nashville’s Sputnik Sound with producer Brad Lindsay. Filled with mystery and humor, the album offers insight on what Aaron has learned about life in the past 15 years – after overcoming several obstacles both personally and professionally, he’s arrived at a place where his songs tell his stories the way he wants them to be told, with his unique wit weaved in.

During a nine-year hiatus from music, he moved from Los Angeles to New York City, embarked on an acting career and eventually started over from scratch with music. Now 38, with the aid of therapy and a new-found community of artist friends in New York and Nashville, he’s made another record – 12 years after his last.

Offering matured songwriting, a liberated vocal and experimentation with open tuning, the songs on the album dovetail into each other musically and thematically. "The Last To Die In Battle," written about England’s infamous 15th-century king Richard III, flows into the title track, which represents many things for Aaron. He’s felt like an observer for much of his life -- a journalist of sorts taking notes on the world around him -- though the song is ultimately about his wife and how she helped him heal. "Pops" then offers a tribute to The Staple Singers and how their music also helped Aaron through tough times, along with fragments of his own relationship with his father. "Nueva York," and its poetic take on New York’s persuasive powers are juxtaposed with "Brooklyn At Dawn," an ode to the clarity and introspection that only exists in the wee hours of the morning.

Aaron released In Flagrante Delicto when he was 22 with his then-band All Hours. With its collage of pointed lyrics and song fragments that only touched the surface of his ability to create quality songs. The band and their label eventually parted ways, and Aaron later self-produced a self-titled album. Both were lessons that he needed to experience to arrive at the music he’s making now – and Wry Observer is finally, genuinely, him.

Surrounded by music and entertainment for much of his life as the son of Tony Award-winning actress Joanna Gleason and the grandson of Let’s Make A Deal co-creator Monty Hall, Gleason released his first album when he was 22, and later self-produced a self-titled album. He eventually moved from Los Angeles to New York City, embarked on an acting career and now started over from scratch with music. Now 38, with the aid of therapy and a new-found community of artist friends in New York and Nashville, he’s made another record – 12 years after his last – an album that is finally, genuinely, him.