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Tuesday
Aug012017

Call Answered: James Kiberd: "The Crusade of Connor Stephens" + "All My Children"

James KiberdI am a huge All My Children fan and I love getting to catch with AMC alum, so needless to say, it was an honor to get to interview actor James Kiberd, best known as "Trevor Dillon" on ABC's All My Children from 1989-2000 (the uncle to "Hayley Vaughn," played by Kelly Ripa). After almost 11 years of not being able to act, James Kiberd is making his triumphant stage return in the Off-Broadway play The Crusade of Connor Stephens.

In The Crusade of Connor Stephens, extreme loss shakes a Texas family as it comes to terms with a tragic act of gun violence. In the midst of widespread media attention, their story becomes an allegory for the national debate over religion, tolerance, and the seedlings of hate. With humor and resilience, they will confront the ghosts of the past and discover the brutal universal truths that define the American family in the 21st century.

The Crusade of Connor Stephens will play through August 6 only! Click here for tickets! 

There will be a special live streaming on Thursday, August 3 at 8pm! Click here for more info!

For more on The Crusade of Connor Stephens be sure to visit https://www.crusade2017.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to be an actor? Gee it’s almost 40 years ago. Grants in support of my art making (I am a Painter) had lead to some expertise in arts management and a consultation for Joe Brancato’s Penguin Repretory. He asked me to audition for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I said to myself…Acting? Phony Baloney! But, I knew I wouldn’t get it, so why do it. Then, I imagined that some day, I could be comforting a disappointed daughter after being turned down for a role she sorely wanted. "Honey, Dad auditioned for a role once and didn’t get it. I know how you feel, you’ll be ok." Only, I got the part…and, sadly, not the daughter.  My life was forever changed.

As a painter, you spend 12-15 hours a day alone. For years on end. You are the center of that Universe. Not so as an Actor. It’s about the other person! OMG! Relationship! Something at which I was totally inept. But, my God, I needed it so! Joe Brancato kept me working as an actor and brought me into the "wild unknown," with a sure and steady hand. Over the years, I returned to Penguin to some great roles on that delicious stage.

My working relationship twixt graphic art and acting is keen. There is a solid "click" of recognition of "rightness" when working with Art’s physical materials. Not so with Acting, however, where impulses, emotions, relationships, bring ever changing moments different from every moment that came before, especially in front of an audience. My thrill is to bring the "click" to the acting and the emotion and impulse to the art. Serious Fun.

2. You are currently starring in the new Off-Broadway play, The Crusade of Connor Stephens, about a Texas family who suffers extreme loss as a result of gun violence. What made you want to be part of this show? As you may or may not know, 10/12/17 will be the 11th anniversary of the stage injury that took me out of commission for years. These past 10 years has been spent trying to find a way back to functionality through four operations. So, on May 9, 2016 (my hip replacement day), I woke up in my hospital bed to find a new play script forwarded to me by an actor I know and respect, Ben Curtis, with a request for me to read and consider the key role. I was astounded! Reticent - no terrified - to even consider it. But, I told myself, "it came to you - read it James." I read it. Enthralled, I asked my wife to bring me "Lear" - the next role I wanted. After I read it, I went back to Crusade.

Through the haze of the drugs, I found a profoundly disruptive play, lead by one of the most soulfully despicable characters ever written. A play that hangs our era in it’s own noose of contradiction and ultimately shows us a way to redemption. Though terrified of this challenge; I just had to play this part. This was worth getting out of bed for! Could I do it? I can’t even walk! Rehearsals were starting in four weeks! I started writing the producer/director/ writer, Dewey Moss to let him know I was interested. I told him I wanted to audition so we all would know what we were getting. He offered to drive out of NYC to meet & audition me in seven days - my first day out of rehab.

Saturday at 9am, I met him at the door - asked "Coffee?" "No." "Water?" "I’m good." So, I handed him the script as he came through the door and started the scenes as he found his way to a chair in the kitchen. No small talk. 20 minutes later, he was doubled over in between tears and laughter. "You have no idea how I have been trying to figure out ways to tell you how you are just not right for the role. It is such an impossible challenge…but you're perfect! Now I have to ask you - will you do it, really do it? And why? It's only a festival - three performances - and a lot of time and effort to rehearse in the city. Why would you want to do this?"

"I am doing this for me - me alone - not to get another job (as actors will do) - not for notice - not for PR. I want to see if I can still act, if I enjoy it, if I can pull off such a wickedly ambitious role.

First, my old friend, Bryan Cranston, saw the Festival Performance and compared this piece to All My Sons by Arthur Miller. "It gives us the picture of our times and the ethics, morals and values we need to live by. There is great humor, pacing, tension and passion wrapped into a compelling story."  Then, Crusade won all of the main Awards in the festival, so we were off to the races.

Dewey’s play sears a brand in the side of the times asking Americans to meet each other face-to-face in a conversation over who we love, what we do with guns, what is fact, what is belief, what is truth—what we kill for, what we live for, how and why do we pray?

James Kiberd in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland3. What do you relate to most about your character? What is one characteristic of his you are glad you don't possess yourself? Strong, relentless surety and promulgation of his truths. Passion.

I am staggered how people hate him so. Perhaps because he so resonates our current leader…though "Big Jim" is much more rigorously trained in his thinking. At the same time, I have had audience members claim he changed their point of view.

West of NJ to California he could be seen as a hero. The play is so well-crafted, that the points of view could shift according to the community where it is performed.

His is a "truth not tolerance" position. Furthest from my own position.

4. Guns have been killing people for years, but it seems we hear about a massive shooting somewhere almost every day of our lives. How do you feel this show will either help someone who's been affected by one of these deadly shootings or perhaps change the way someone feels about instilling stronger gun laws? Wow! That’s an impossible question because it doesn’t involve common sense. In my experience, the only time people really take gun control seriously is when they get shot in the face. Any and all assumptions we maintain about positions on these issues only become relevant when we have direct experience of the event, its horror and the people affected. We Americans need to meet each other face-to-face in a conversation over who we love, what we do with guns, what is fact, what is belief, what is truth; what we kill for, what we live for, how and why we pray? These are not issues that merely decorate the glorious tree of America. No, No. These are the "divers-est" roots that grow that tree strong. The healthy conflict of ideas and passions that are the very roots of our Constitution. America needs the feeding of face-to-face compassion, humor and brutal talk - - that is our America. Crusade brings all these issues forward in an almost sporting event immediacy. A prize fight for the Soul of America.

James Kiberd and Ben Curtis in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland5. How do you find the resilience to get through rough times in your own life? Having been disabled for the past 10 years, this is a question to which I have too many answers. Really listening to what the body is saying is both complex and simple. But of paramount importance. Having had four doctors tell me I am fine when I sure didn’t feel fine, I finally found whiz bang PT at West Side Dance in Lincoln Center who could tell me why and what was so dysfunctional. Two years of hard work, 21 exercises a day brought me a new me. Also, Alexander Training is an truly liberating process.

My wife keeps joy in my life. And she reminds me that our dogs (born in our house) have opened my heart, my garden teaches me each day (humility) and nature so soothes and inspires me. I have learned, finally, that The Dark Funk changes when I move - yes physically move.

6. In this show, the family confronts the ghosts of their past. What is one past ghost you've confronted? PTSD - always needs to be respected and tended. My father - a WWII vet never dealt with his PTSD and passed it on to his family. This is something I share with my Crusade character.

Kathleen Huber and James Kiberd in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland7. From this confrontation, the family discovers the brutal truth that defines the American family of the 21st century. What is the most brutal truth you've discovered about yourself that you fought so hard not to believe? I think more than one brutal truth is discovered in the play…I‘ll say again, "We Americans need to meet each other face-to-face in a conversation over who we love, what we do with guns, what is fact, what is belief, what is truth; what we kill for, what we live for, how and why we pray?  These are not issues that merely decorate the glorious tree of America. No, No. These are the "divers-est" roots that grow that tree strong. The healthy conflict of ideas and passions that are the very roots of our Constitution. America needs the feeding of face-to-face compassion, humor and brutal talk - - that is our America. Crusade brings all these issues forward in an almost sporting event immediacy. A prize fight for the Soul of America.

I am not sure how to answer this question without sounding full of bull. But I asked my wife and she immediately said it, "Honey, for some reason, you don’t feel worthy of love." I am still working on it. My Alexander teacher, Judith Stern, noticed a couple of things immediately when we started. When she would work with me, she noticed that my eyes were always moving. This was me trying to remember and analyze the experience I was having. She suggested that I could either have the analysis or the experience but not both. That I could allow myself to just have the experience and begin to trust that. She also noticed that when she encouraged me to see, take in what was around me, that I would look. What happens when I "look" is I focus hard and tend to thrust my head a bit forward which moves the head out of alignment and breaks the easy flow of energy in the spine, triggering "fight or flight" response. This kind of "looking habit" usually arises in a child when the person who was to nurture that child was in fact dangerous to that child.

And ………………………………………

Common Sense

And …………………………………..

The parts of me that I share with Trump. He reminds me every day of the selfish, thoughtless, small minded, fatuous, un thinking, pompous, lying, lazy glutton that I could so easily become.

James Kiberd8. I can't do an interview with you without asking about your time on one of my favorite soaps, All My Children. From 1989-2000, you played "Trevor Dillon," uncle to "Hayley Vaughn," played by Kelly Ripa. First, why did you want to be part of the All My Children family? What was the best part about working with Kelly Ripa? Can you tell us one fun juicy tale from your time on the show? Kelly was an unspoiled bundle of life and joy that I wanted to play with. Whatever I could share with her was immediately soaked up and made her own. The intimacy we had was blood family in nature. Just that matter of course kind of thing. She told me right away that her dream was not so much the acting but to be a talk show host! Well Well Bang Zoom Hip Hip HoooRaaay!

Why AMC? and Juicy? Here goes! A five day gig turned into 11 years. I had been developing a character in experimental theatre from my sense that by the year 2020 America would no longer be a "White" society. That we needed to encounter other world/third world cultures—their morals and ethics. On the morning of my first day after having come home during the night from a trip, I asked my wife if she liked my "look" for the part. In her sleepiness she said "What’s with the beard and the pony tail? You look like a pirate! AMC won’t go for that! "That’s what I want!" said I. She joked, "Then you need an earring." I grabbed one of hers, poked a hole in my ear, went off to AMC with my bloody booty."  At first, they wouldn’t let me in the building - so scruffy was I. Ha!

After camera rehearsal, I got called to the the producer’s office (Felicia Behr). I walked in saying, "I know, cut the hair, shave the beard, axe the earring." "No, No, NO!" she said "Would you be interested in a three year contract?" "I have to think about it" said I. The next day I suggested that I write a background description of the character I would like to play for the writers to consider. To my surprise, she said great.  When I submitted a 22-page document detailed to costume, set, lingo, accent and music, she was surprised and then sent it to the writers. Couple of days later, she told me they loved it! And would go ahead with my character as presented. Six months was my first contract. I wasn’t sure they, AMC, would or could really do it.

Well they went along with my creation! All the names I made up for the characters on the show, the wild outfits ,the Runyonesque lingo and the other world values. At my first public appearance the first audience question asked was "What planet is this guy ("Trevor"/my character) from? I knew we all were on to something special. The shows rating went from #7 to #2 rickety split and I was having some Serious Fun!

Katherine Leask and James Kiberd in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland9. Since 2001, for the most part, you have focused on stage/film work as opposed to TV. Why did you choose to focus more on the stage and film? What do you get from this work that you weren't getting from TV? Acting Chops. Bad ass scary adventures. Every day I give up what I know for what I might discover. (me). You can’t do something that you don’t know, if you keep on doing what you do know. (FM Alexander).

AND my new agents in LA gave me two pieces of advice….

1) Lose weight and whiten your teeth!

2) And if you really want to act you need to find away to do some theatre. We would love to see you acting.

Well, I invited them to come see me about four months later. I was opening as "Gabbo the Clown" in Merchant of Venice on a Friday Night , Saturday 10am was Henry IV Part I, 2pm Henry IV Part II, 8pm Henry V. They didn’t come. And told me they couldn’t work with me as I was to busy doing theater an not available for TV!

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? Joy. (which means doing what my wife, dogs and garden tell me to do) My acting. My art making. My Garden. My dogs (they are major hunters and need a lot of clean up) Spinning! House keeping, Friends…..Have you read Twyla Tharps books?

Sunday
Jul302017

Call Answered: Facetime Interview: Carole Demas: "Grease", "The Magic Garden", + "The Broadhurst at 100!" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Carole DemasLive from Feinstein's/54 Below, "Call Me Adam" does the hand-jive with Carole Demas, Broadway's original "Sandy" in Grease. We get the inside scoop of what really went on inside the halls of "Rydell High" + a quick revisit to The Magic Garden, one of my favorite & most popular children's show in the 70s/80s.  

On Wednesday, August 16, at 7pm & 9:30pm Feinstein's/54 Below will be celebrating the centennial anniversary of The Broadhurst Theatre with The Broadhurst at 100! It's an evening of songs and stories, performed by the legends themselves who were lucky enough to grace the Broadhurst stage! Carole will be performing at the 7pm show! Click here for tickets!

For more on Carole be sure to visit http://caroledemas.com!

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

Call Me Adam's interview with Carole Demas, Broadway's original "Sandy" in Grease:

Carole Demas performing "It's Raining On Prom Night/Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee" from Feinstein's/54 Below's upcoming The Broadhurst at 100!:

More on Carole:

Carole Demas, Broadway & TV Legend, stole the hearts of audiences and critics alike with her captivating and critically acclaimed creation of "Sandy," in Broadway’s iconic, original GREASE. Her 56 year (and counting) career has included thousands of leading role performances On and Off-Broadway and in Regional Theatre, among them two years at New York’s Sullivan St. Playhouse as "Luisa" in THE FANTASTICKS and the creation of original ingénue leads in Fred Ebb’s MORNING SUN; RONDELAY (director Cyril Ritchard, choreographer Jacques d’Amboise); Oscar Brand’s HOW TO STEAL AN ELECTION (opposite Clifton Davis); Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt’s PHILEMON and THE BONE ROOM as well as major regional theatres, including "Philia" (A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM); Regina (ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST); Angel (CELEBRATION); "Wanda" (ENTER LAUGHING); "Corrie" (BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, with Joan Bennett) and her singing for the Champlain and NY Shakespeare Festivals for multiple seasons.

Carole originated the title role in the premiere production of Stephen Schwartz’s THE BAKER’S WIFE, in Los Angeles. She was back on Broadway in Broadway Cares - GYPSY OF THE YEAR celebrating Grease's 40th Anniversary at the New Amsterdam Theater. Carole played numerous guest star roles on classic prime time TV (including, KOJAK, MANNIX, ROUTE 66, BARNABY JONES, MAN FROM ATLANTIS, FANTASTIC JOURNEY (recently, BLUE BLOODS – CBS and ALLEGIANCE - NBC) and recurring roles on daytime dramas (EDGE OF NIGHT, ONE LIFE TO LIVE, AS THE WORLD TURNS). For the popular PBS Series GREAT PERFORMANCES, Carole joined other stars of the Great White Way for Lorimar’s SHOWSTOPPERS - THE BEST OF BROADWAY. In films, Carole starred in the 300 YEAR WEEKEND, with William Devane and THE SPACE WORKS for Trans-Lux Corp. Other films include appearances in: A LOVELY WAY TO DIE for Universal Films and the THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM.

Carole Starred (with dear friend Paula Janis) in TV’s most successful regional children’s series, THE MAGIC GARDEN (for over 12 years) leading to hundreds of live family concerts and recent viral clips on Facebook. The Magic Garden’s enduring holiday special, A MAGIC GARDEN CHRISTMAS (Emmy Nominee) airs annually on WPIX-TV-New York and streams worldwide with new recent footage. THE MAGIC GARDEN DVD collection and CDs are available at www.caroleandpaula.com.

Carole's wonderful versatility has been seen on camera in principal roles in over 200 commercials for television (everything from Men’s Cologne to Peanut Butter and often singing the jingles as well), among them: Kodak, Promise Margarine, Lipton Tea, Puss ‘n Boots, Wonder Bread, M&M’s, Clairol, Timex, Lysol, AT&T, etc.

Her career trials and triumphs are highlighted in Schirmer, Citadel and Applause books chronicling the history of Broadway. Carole’s career began in her Junior Year at the U of VT, with the 1960 CHAMPLAIN SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL and continued, from her days as Miss Vermont in The 1960 MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT, her zany "singing chicken" voice in the LIDO SHOW (Stardust Hotel, Las Vegas), to major dramatic and comic roles in theatres coast to coast, and New York City concert and cabaret performances (BROADWAY ORIGINALS (Town Hall), OFF-BROADWAY CLOSE UP (Merkin Hall), 50th Anniversary celebrations for WBAI Radio, Lincoln Center Library, The Fantasticks. She is seen in NYC’s favorite cabaret venues (Feinsteins/54 Below, Birdland, The Metropolitan Room, Laurie Beechman Theater, New World Stages, Le Poisson Rouge, The Iridium, The Triad-Stage 72, Signature Theatre, Urban Stages, Concerts For City Greens, etc.). She sang for BROADWAY TO BARBADOS for two seasons and headlined on Crystal Cruise, Film and Theatre Cruise to French Polynesia. She is a recurring favorite star in The Ziegfeld Society Productions in New York City.

Her one-woman show in NYC and other locales (including The Caribbean Theatre, St. Croix) received rave reviews…"a powerhouse of musical theatre," "a vocal champion," "a consummate artist," her voice has been described as "shimmering and thrilling with great warmth, sweetness and surprising power." Her engaging, exciting cabaret and concert performances have brought funds and attention to many worthy causes. Carole is featured on the original cast albums of: GREASE, HOW TO STEAL AN ELECTION, GREEN SONGS and THE MAGIC GARDEN.

She is one of 50 Broadway Stars who sang in the Broadway For Orlando Initiative, on MAYA and MARTY (NBC), in concert in NYC’s Bryant Park and other events. She is a recurring favorite star in The Ziegfeld Society Productions. Carole was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame with her Magic Garden co-star, Paula Janis. She is a Governor Emeritus of the NY National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Friday
Jul282017

Call Answered: Alaska: "On Golden Girls" at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

AlaskaThank you for being a friend! I love The Golden Girls, so anytime someone has a show about them or in praise of them, I'm checking it out. I am thrilled that RuPaul's Drag Race Season 5 favorite, Alaska, & I got to fly to Miami, eat cheesecake, & discuss her upcoming show On Golden Girls, with her sidekick Handsome Jeremy.

On Golden Girls takes you on a musical journey of story and song, diving deep into the lake known as The Golden Girls. Drawing upon their vast knowledge and worship of the Girls of Gold, Alaska and Jeremy will explore the songs featured within the seven seasons of the hit TV classic, while offering their own unique analysis and perspective on all things Golden.

On Golden Girls will play The Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, inside the basement of the West Bank Cafe) from August 3-13. Click here for tickets!

For more on Alaska visit http://alaskathunderfuck.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. The story of your creation goes something like "After your spaceship crashed in the Matanuska Valley, a remote part of south-central Alaska, the U.S. government recovered an emaciated… make that an emancipated alien" which turned out to be you. As your spaceship was going down, what was going through your mind? What was it like when you were rescued? How did surviving the crash change you? The reason the space ship crash landed was because I ran the air conditioner, heater, cappuccino maker, and hair straightener all at once. As I crashed down, I was grateful that I was wearing cute underwear.

2. You are known for being one of the final three contestants on Season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race. What is the one lesson you learned from Ru herself that you will carry with you? RuPaul works hard and has a sense of humor.  But she also doesn't take any shit and will throw a fit when it's necessary.

3. This August, you will be returning to the Laurie Beechman Theatre with your side kick Handsome Jeremy in your new show On Golden Girls, a musical journey of story and song, diving deep into the lake known as The Golden Girls. Drawing upon your vast knowledge and worship of the Girls of Gold, you and Handsome Jeremy will explore the songs featured within the seven seasons of the hit TV classic, while offering your own unique analysis and perspective on all things Golden. First, what was it about The Golden Girls that made you want to create a show with the sitcom as its backdrop? I'm not a religious person, but if I had to choose a religion, it would be The Golden Girls. I study the scriptures daily, and I can point you to an episode that will shed light upon any problem you may be experiencing in life. Jeremy and I have bonded a lot over the show, and so we found it natural to do a show born out of our obsession.

4. How did you and Handsome Jeremy come to work together? What is the best part about this partnership? We met in Psychology class in my freshman year of college. The best part of our partnership is the friendship I've found in Jeremy. He is the kindest and most honest, open-hearted person I know and we are family.

Alaska5. Which "Golden Girl" are you? I'm tall with a deep voice, so I'm "Dorothy." But I also have flights of self-centered insanity, like "Blanche." So I'm a "Dorothy" with a "Blanche" rising.

6. Were you nervous to create a show centered around one of the most beloved TV shows of all time? What do you think die hard Golden Girls fans will think of the show? I'm certain the die hard Golden Girls fans will love it. It's the fair-weather, casual Golden Girls observers I'm worried about. They may have no idea what the hell we're talking about. I suggest a binge watching session before coming to our show.

7. I have seen several Golden Girls parody shows, but none have explored the musical numbers before. What song was the most was the hardest to fit in? A lot of the times when there are songs on the show, they usually only last for like 20 seconds. So that's challenging -- but we're going to try to do our best to cram as many of them in as we can.

Alaska8. What do you feel is something you know about The Golden Girls that the average super fan would not know? People like to pretend there was a feud or friction between Betty White and Bea Arthur, but that's not really how it was. They all ate lunch together every day. And Estelle Getty would write her lines all over the fake fruit on the table or various props so that she could remember them.

9. If you could have cheesecake with the The Golden Girls, what flavor cheesecake would you have? What problem would you ask them to solve for you? I would have to have some vegan, dairy free chocolate cheesecake with Coconut Bliss ice cream. I would love to hear the girls' perspectives on social media. I'd love to see "Blanche" on Tinder and "Dorothy" on Twitter.

10. If you never made out of the Matanuska Valley and the only form of entertainment you had was to watch five episodes of The Golden Girls on a loop, which five episodes would you want to be on there? "A Little Romance;" "Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself;" "Dorothy's New Friend;" "All Bets Off;" "The Case of the Libertine Belle."

AlaskaMore on Alaska:

After her spaceship crashed in the Matanuska Valley, a remote part of south-central Alaska, the U.S. government recovered an emaciated…make that an emancipated alien, or that’s how the story goes. Alaska went on to become one of the final three contestants on the fifth season of RuPaul's Drag Race on Logo.  In October 2013, she starred in The Rocky Horror Picture Show at The Woodlawn Theater in San Antonio.

Wednesday
Jul262017

Call Redialed: Drew Brody: Curvy Widow at Westside Theatre NYC

Drew Brody, Photo Credit: Matthu PlacekThe year was 2009 when I was first introduced to singer/songwriter Drew Brody when he not only opened for singer/songwriter Jay Brannan, but Drew also co-produced Jay's album In Living Cover. I've been a fan ever since.

Over the past few years, the musical theatre world has been very lucky to have Drew's composing/writing. From Cutman: A Boxing Musical at Goodspeed Theatre to Derma at the Piccolo Spoleto, Drew's talents are finally arriving Off-Broadway with the new musical Curvy Widow, starring Tony nominee Nancy Opel. It's been a few years since Drew & I have spoken, so I thought now would be the perfect time to catch up with Drew. Much to my delight, Drew once again answered my call.

Curvy Widow is based on the true story of a sassy, witty, & feisty fifty-something widow whose adventures inspire laughter and, in the least expected places — reveal truths about life, love, and sex. From surviving hilarious first dates, to her intimate conquests, this widow navigates her way through it all with humor and perseverance. Featuring a brilliant cast of best friends, a dead husband, and a myriad of potential suitors — "Curvy" learns the hard way what it means to start life over in the modern age.

Curvy Widow plays at The Westside Theatre (407 West 43rd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Drew be sure to visit http://www.drewbrody.com and follow him on Twitter and YouTube!

Cast of "Curvy Widow" in the George Street Playhouse production, Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson1. It's so great to catch up with you Drew! You are the composer/lyricist for the new Off-Broadway musical Curvy Widow. How did you come to be involved with this show? I was introduced to Bobby Goldman through our General Manager, Aaron Lustbader. I had just finished up Cutman and was looking for new projects and collaborators. He told me he had someone he wanted to meet who was looking for a composer on an original show. I met Bobby and she had an idea for a different show, not Curvy, and I agreed to write a song to see how well we could collaborate together. In order to prove to me that she could string a sentence together, she sent me the manuscript of the memoir version of Curvy Widow. I started reading it on a plane ride, and by the time I landed, the margins were full of notes, lyric ideas, scene ideas—it was so clearly a musical to me, it was jumping off the page. I sent her an email saying "You know this is a musical, right?" The response from her had too many expletives to print—who wants their life to be a musical? But when I went to play her the song I had written for the other project, I told her I had something else to show. It was an early version of the song that’s now called "Turn the Page." By the end of the song, she was in tears, and said "Ok, we’ll write the stupid show, you jerk."

2. What was your process in writing the music/lyrics for this show? The process changed at different stages of the show. At first, I really mined the memoir for lyric ideas and song inspiration. At this point in the process, the lyrics came first, and the song styles followed. As we came to know our show more, this process reversed, because I wanted to diversify the range of song styles and tempos. For example, we had a scene where Bobby visits several gynecologists in a row to try to address an issue. When we decided to turn it into a musical number, it was very clear that of course this needs to be a tango number, and the lyrics followed. Throughout I worked very closely with Bobby to make sure I stayed in her voice, and then later in the process with our director Peter Flynn and with Nancy Opel, who plays "Bobby" in the show, to make sure the music and lyrics were consistent in tone and comfortable and consistent with the character that we were developing.

Nancy Opel as "Curvy" in the George Street Playhouse production of "Curvy Widow', Photo Credit: T Charles EricksonNancy Opel as "Curvy" in the George Street Playhouse production of "Curvy Widow', Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson3. What was the hardest song to write and what was the most fun song to write? The hardest song to write was the opening number. I wrote about seven different opening numbers for this show, and then changed it completely between Asheville and New Jersey. I had to let go of a lot of exposition over time as we came to understand exactly what information we needed to get out in order to launch our show. I really struggled with how it should sound and we also struggled about whether or not the inciting incident for our show - "Jim’s" death - should happen in the opening or right after.

The most fun song to write was the song of "Bobby’s" first date after "Jim’s" death, "A New Hand." I was laughing out loud as I wrote it—"Bobby" has no idea how to be on a date because she had been with "Jim" since she was a senior in college. Her date’s not much slicker. It’s a scene/song that plays out so well between Nancy and Alan—they’re perfectly awkward and it’s everything I imagined when I wrote it and more.

4. Which character in the show is most like you? Which character were you glad not to be? I don’t think any of these characters are like me very much, although I relate to the journey.

5. Curvy Widow tells the story of a gutsy, recently widowed 50-something woman as she immerses herself in the modern dating scene who discovers the unexpected truths about love, life and sex. What do you feel most people will relate to about this show? I’ve been surprised at how much people relate to this show, even if they have very little in common with the main character. Any one who has experienced loss that causes them to start over again—whether that’s through death, divorce, breakup—can relate to the feeling of needing to look at everything through a new lens and say "Which part of this life is me and which part was us?"

Cast of "Curvy Widow" in the George Street Playhouse production, Photo Credit: T Charles EricksonAlan Muraoka and Nancy Opel in the George Street Playhouse production of "Curvy Widow', Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson6. Since the character of "Bobby" is a gutsy woman, what is the most gutsy thing you've done so far in your life or career? The gutsiest thing I’ve done in my career was the original decision to pursue music as a career. I came to New York with a scholarship to law school and my life was heading full speed down that track, and I decided to take a major left turn. I saw very clearly what that life would have been like and had no idea what a life in music was going to be, but it was and is my passion and I felt I needed to take the risk.

7. In composing this show, what did you learn about love, life, and sex? I learned that there’s a universal struggle between wanting to be with someone and wanting independence, and everyone needs to figure out for themselves where on that spectrum they’re most comfortable. Those desires can be different at different periods of life, but the question itself—where’s my balance between independence and wanting a partner?—is always there.

8. In this show, "Bobby" learns the hard way what it means to start life over in the modern age. Has there been a time in your life thus far where you felt you had to start life over? Coincidentally, I did go through a breakup a couple years ago, and I found myself going through many of the stages that our lead character goes through in the show, from reclaiming space through piecing together a new life. It felt completely like a new beginning, in all the ways that new beginnings are terrifying but also opportunities to create a new way of being, with new habits, new patterns, new relationships, and ultimately a new sense of who I am entirely.

9. 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? I’m trying to be less wasteful; it would be great to reduce that by one percent every day. My main effort in this department has been to cook more and more for myself.

Drew Brody, Photo Credit: Matthu PlacekMore on Drew:

Drew Brody tunes present a rare treat for singers. "A seemingly effortless and brilliant marriage of content, character, and music." Quote from Beth Malone, star of Fun Home, in an Out.com feature, July 28, 2016

Drew Brody is a New York City-based songwriter who brings his experience in the rock, pop, and folk music world to his musical theater sensibility. His unique background allows him to work comfortably across many genres, and his songs have been sung by Broadway stars including Alan Cumming, Nancy Opel, Beth Malone, Robert Cuccioli, Sally Mayes, Lilli Cooper, Justin Sargent, Adrienne Warren, and many more.

Drew wrote the music and lyrics for Curvy Widow, a new musical based on a memoir by Bobby Goldman, starring Nancy Opel and directed by Peter Flynn, which had its first commercial production at NC Stages in November 2016 and a second run at George Street Playhouse in New Jersey in May 2017, now it's running Off-Broadway in NYC at the Westside Theatre. He’s also written music for the comedy Oh, Hello, starring Nick Kroll and John Mulaney and directed by Alex Timbers, which opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theater in October 2016. Additional credits include: music and lyrics for Cutman: A Boxing Musical, produced by Goodspeed Theaters in the spring of 2011; music and lyrics for Derma, which ran at the Piccolo Spoleto festival in 2013; music and lyrics for Wilshire, with a book by Bobby Goldman and a stage reading directed by Rob Ashford; music and lyrics for Mudge Boy, an adaptation of the Showtime movie, in collaboration with Brett Smock; and two other new musicals currently in development. Other theater credits include the underscoring music and lyrics for the play Lightning Field, which won Outstanding Play at FringeNYC in 2005.

Drew wrote and recorded two albums with Richard Rodgers award-winning composer Derek Gregor as the rock band M-LAB, with which Drew performed as lead singer and toured during the 2000s. Drew also released two solo albums on Baskethouse Records and co-produced two albums for songwriter Jay Brannan. Recently, Drew composed the score for the acclaimed film, Stephen Winter’s Jason and Shirley, which premiered at the MoMA and has been touring movie festivals, and released an EP, A Little Single, in collaboration with fellow singer-songwriter Lance Horne.

Tuesday
Jul252017

Call Redialed: Facetime Interview: Tovah Feldshuh: "Aging Is Optional" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Live from Feinstein's/54 Belolw, "Call Me Adam" sat down with four-time Tony nominee & two-time Emmy nominee Tovah Feldshuh about her upcoming show at Feinstein's/54 Below called Aging is Optional where we find out Tovah's secret to staying young & active, plus some life lessons! Tovah also clears the air on some misconceptions about her as well as how she would like to improve her life by one percent better everyday!

Aging Is Optional is an age-defying romp. Some people call them decades; Tovah calls them her collected works. It’s an hour of Juvederm for the soul, a booster for the heart and a probiotic of laughter!

Aging Is Optional will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on August 1 & August 3 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Tovah be sure to visit http://www.tovahfeldshuh.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 FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

"Call Me Adam" and Tovah Feldshuh interview live at Feinstein's/54 Below:

Tovah Feldshuh previews "When I Was A Boy" from her upcoming Feinstein's/54 Below show Aging is Optional:

More on Tovah:

For her work on the New York stage, from Yentl to Sarava!, and Lend Me A Tenor to Golda’s Balcony and Irena’s Vow, Tovah Feldhsuh has earned four Tony nominations for Best Actress and won four Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Obie, the Theatre World Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, and the Helen Hayes Award for Best Actress. On October 3, 2004, Golda’s Balcony became the longest-running one-woman show in the history of Broadway, a record it still holds. Most recently, Tovah stopped the show as the trapeze-swinging "Berthe" in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Pippin. As Jason Zinoman of The New York Times raved, "No one earns more laughs than the marvelous Tovah Feldshuh."

Tovah is currently starring as "Naomi Bunch" in the Golden Globe-winning hit, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW, where she can be seen singing the dignified showstopper: "Where’s the Bathroom!" From the bathroom in West Covina to the Oval Office in Washington D.C., she has also joined CBS’ new series Salvation as President of the United States "Pauline Mackenzie."