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Entries in Actor (178)

Monday
Oct232017

Call Answered: Akron Watson: "The Play That Goes Wrong"

Akron WatsonAkron Watson first caught my eye when he was starring in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple. When I found out Akron was coming into The Play That Goes Wrong, now the longest running play on Broadway, I knew I had to go see him.

I had heard countless people say how funny The Play That Goes Wrong was. Others said their mouths hurt from smiling so much because they laughed for two-full hours. Some had stomach aches from the amount of laughter ensued.

After seeing this show, I 1000% agree with them on all accounts. The Play That Goes Wrong is THE FUNNIEST show on Broadway! This show IS the definition of Broadway Magic! Two-hours of non-stop laughter! A master class in physical comedy! I can't recommend it enough!

Akron is great as "Trevor," the lighting board operator. His character doesn't have as much physical comedy as the other actors in the show, but a lot of Akron's genius comes from the subtle looks he gives throughout the show or the way he delivers his lines. He very much reminds of the way Bea Arthur would deliver her lines or looks on The Golden Girls

I'm so excited to have been able to interview Akron. I just hope this doesn't become "The Interview That Went Wrong!"

The Play That Goes Wrong plays the Lyceum Theatre (149 West 45th Street, between Broadway & 6th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

Follow the show at http://broadwaygoeswrong.com, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Akron follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Akron Watson, Photo Credit: Adam Anderson Photography1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was inspired by the men in my life: my dad, my pastor, and Will Smith. My dad was in plays at my church, that my pastor directed. My pastor also taught theater at my high school. And Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was basically all I watched as a kid. It was really inspiring to see a young black man be funny and interesting on TV.

2. I just saw The Play That Goes Wrong this past Wednesday and LOVED it! After seeing the show, I have to know, what was the audition process like for this show? The first audition was pretty standard: a character monologue from the show recited for the creators (who also happen to be the original cast members of the show). It was fun, they laughed a lot and gave a lot of affirmation and feedback.

The call back was very unique: a group of about 30 people all playing improv and clown games. We did a physical warmup, then we dived into improv scenes, half on stage, and half as the audience. THEN, we did two to three scenes from the show as everyone else watched (and provided much needed laughter response). It was exhilarating.

Akron Watson as "Trevor" in "The Play That Goes Wrong", Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel3. I first came to know you after seeing you in Broadway revival of The Color Purple, a very serious musical and now you are in, The Play That Goes Wrong, THE FUNNIEST show on Broadway, where the audience laughs non-stop for two full hours. How do you ready yourself each night for this comedic show as opposed to the seriousness of The Color Purple? I just talk to my castmates honestly. Everyone is SO funny, and smart and full of positive energy. Especially our four swings, two women and two men who basically cover us all, and a huge nod to my dressing-roommate Jonathan Fielding, who is basically the most hilarious person I've met. I interact with the audience a bit in this show, and I've learned that I can rely on my castmates to get me in the right headspace to be my best "Trevor."

4. There was quite a bit of interaction between the cast and audience on the night I saw the show. What is the funniest thing, so far, to happen both between cast members & between the cast & audience? There are so many moments that are "choreographed" to go "wrong" in our show, that the funniest moments for us are usually when things actually go wrong. Once Mark Evans mushed a line, which is super bizarre because he's so consistently perfect. It was one of the rare serious moments intended to give information and the information given that day was not the most accurate.

Akron Watson & the Cast of "The Play That Goes Wrong", Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel5. In The Play That Goes Wrong, you play "Trevor," the lighting board operator, who's only working on the show so he can pass his engineering course. What is one job you took because you knew it would help you get to the next step? The Full Monty. Actually "musicals" in general was my next step job. I just wanted to work more, in certain places with certain people, and musicals were my way in. There were also just more musicals casting at the time. So I went to some open mics to get more comfortable with singing in front of people, and I took a musical audition class at my local community college.

6. This show is like a master class in physical comedy. What part of the show do you just get so excited to perform every night that you can't wait for it to come? What's the hardest part of being in a show that is so physically demanding? I'm not half as physical as my castmates, so I more enjoy watching everything Amelia McClain does as "Sandra": getting knocked out twice and getting yanked through a window are my favorites.

7. Prior to starting The Play That Goes Wrong, what made you most nervous about taking the role? Now that you've been in the show for a bit, what have you learned about yourself as an actor that you didn't know previously? I was nervous I wouldn't be as funny as Rob, who originated the role of "Trevor." I learned that this play is funny no matter what. It's brilliant, and it's only my job to do what I know to do, play it for the truth of the situation. Don't try to be funny.

Akron Watson as "Trevor" in "The Play That Goes Wrong", Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel8. Since the show is called The Play That Goes Wrong, what has been the biggest thing to go wrong for you on stage either in this show or a previous show? And, what is the biggest thing in your life to go wrong that you just wanted or want to go right? I have to be honest, life is really good right now. Family, friends, work, everything is really great and "on track" for me personally. But once, in a little theater in Dallas, I did a monologue in my boxers and the front button wasn't buttoned. With my family and friends all present, things got a little awkward in the theater that memorable evening.

9. What's it like to work with Bette Midler every night? It's nice to know that every night, I get to be on Broadway with Bette Midler. It's really a dream come true.

10. If it were backwards day at The Play That Goes Wrong, aside from everything going right, which other character would you like to play? I think "Robert" is the most interesting. He definitely believes and performs the hardest and most focused. So it's interesting to watch him deal with the constant roadblocks the show presents his other wise perfect performance.

11. I love all the Duran Duran references in the show. If you had to describe the show in 5 Duran Duran songs, which ones would you choose? Please forgive me. "Trevor" is a Duran Duran afficianado. I would be doing their classic music and my show a disservice by even attempting this answer.

12. If this was "The Interview That Goes Wrong," what is one question I could have asked you to make this interview go right (and please provide that answer to said question)? If you could describe this show in five Prince songs, which ones would you choose? "I Would Die For You," "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man," "Thieves In The Temple," "Delirious," "Let's Go Crazy," respectively.

Akron Watson, Photo Credit: Jeremy PopeMore on Akron:

Broadway: The Color Purple Revival. Off-Broadway: The Fortress of Solitude (The Public Theater). Regional: Dreamgirls (North Shore Music Theater); Stagger Lee (Dallas Theater Center); Smokey Joes’ Café (WaterTower Theatre); Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Theatre Three Dallas); The Shipment (Undermain Theatre); Kismet (Lyric Stage); The Royale (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis). Film/TV: NBC’s Friday Night Lights; NBC’s ChaseSeasons of Gray; and Spilt Milk. Voiceover: Borderland the Pre-Sequel (Dunks Watson), The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (Chris Brian), Satoshi-Toonami’s Michiko & Hatchin. Featured on American Idol, "Season 6." 

Thursday
Aug242017

Call Redialed: Orfeh: "Legally Bound: Orfeh & Andy Karl Live at Feinstein's/54 Below"

Orfeh and Andy Karl at Feinstein's/54 Below, Photo Credit: Walter McBrideIn December 2016, I was lucky enough to attend Orfeh & Andy Karl's concert Legally Bound at Feinstein's/54 Below. Then it was announced that these concerts were going to be made into a live album by Broadway Records. I was beyond excited. The end result is an album that really captures the essence of the evening, from their powerhouse vocals to the fun and excitement of seeing them live.

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" to describe just how thrilling it was to speak with Orfeh about the making of Legally Bound: Orfeh & Andy Karl Live at Feinstein's/54 Below. She really gave me a piece of her heart, opening up to me about her life with Andy! This is one "History" lesson you don't want to miss!

Orfeh & Andy Karl: Legally Bound: Live at Feinstein's/54 Below is available now on Broadway Records and iTunes!

For more on Orfeh & Andy follow them on Twitter @official_orfeh and @Andy_Karl

For more on Broadway Records visit http://www.broadwayrecords.com and follow them on Twitter!

CD design by Robbie Rozelle1. You and Andy just released your live recording of Legally Bound: Live at Feinstein's/54 Below. What made you want to make this concert into a live album? We've been planning on doing a recording together for some time now as it's the one thing we have not done previously. At the time of the concerts, Andy was about to go into Groundhog Day & I was very busy with a few projects and we just felt this would be the perfect time to make this recording. These concerts get booked so far in advance and you just never know when the next opportunity for our schedules to align would come up, so we took advantage of this moment together. Plus, we were very proud of the performances and material.

2. What is the recording process like for a live album as opposed to a regular album? The process is really difficult, but we had a great team working with us. I produced the album with Broadway Records President Van Dean along with Steven Jamail and Michael Moritz & Robbie Rozelle. Steven & I come from the world of pop music while Robbie, Michael, & Van Dean are more musical theatre, so it was great to have all our expertises joined together.

The challenge of making a live CD is getting the right balance of capturing the live experience and not making it sound like mush. You want to be able to hear the harmonies, background vocalists, the bass at a certain time, etc. It's not easy to get it perfect, but we had so many great people helping, which made the process a lot easier.

Me: Well, the album does sound good. I've been listening to it since it's release and you did a great job with the mixing of it all. You hear a little bit of the plates clinging together, but it's so subtle, that you hardly notice it and it allows you to hear your vocals really well.

Orfeh: One thing we really strived for with this recording is to give it a feel, that if you weren't able to be in the audience for any of our shows, you can still capture the live experience of the nights.

Me: I definitely feel you did that. I was lucky enough to come see Legally Bound, but after listening to this album, you definitely capture the fun of the evening and how great & powerful it was to hear you and Andy sing. I love both of you individually, but hearing you two sing together with your powerhouse vocals was insane!

Orfeh and Andy Karl performing at Feinstein's/54 Below3. Were both of you equally invovled in organizing the concert or did one of you take the lead in putting it together? It was definitely 50/50. You've got to make it comofortable for both of you. You know, Andy & I sing in such different stratospheres and keys so, when we were doing the opening Motown Medley, we had to choose songs that would work for both of our voices because our vocals then have to blend on the harmonies as well. Those songs are so harmony heavy that it’s very important to pick songs that make sense vocally.

4. One of my favorite songs that you did was Whitney Houston’s "I’m Your Baby Tonight." I liked how you said, at the show, that this is a song everybody knows, but it’s not a song done very often. You did it so well. Out of all the songs in Whitney’s music catalog, what was it about that song that made you go, this is the song I want to sing? ? It’s my favorite Whitney song. It’s such a catchy, first-listen hit, that no matter what the audience is like (whether they be rock-heavy or Broadway-heavy), it’s going to be a major crowd pleaser, if you do justice to it.

Whitney made her songs seem so effortless to sing, but they are actually very complicated to do. There was no voice like Whitney before her and there will never be a voice like hers again. I got to meet Whitney a few times and she was so nice to me and the people around me. I love her so much & miss her terribly.

I never wanted to do a concert and say, "Well, I’m going to sing Whitney now because she’s gone." It's like with Prince, I’ve been singing "Kiss" for years and I decided to add Whitney in because I am finally at a place vocally, where I feel I can do the song correctly and not have a melt down in the middle of it.

Andy Karl and Orfeh5. What was your favorite duet to perform with Andy? We really enjoyed performing "Make Like A Nail"/"If Can Dream" (from The Great American Trailer Park Musical & the Elvis Presley song). Somehow you would never think these songs would make any sense together and somehow they do. We’ve done it in the past and I just think it works really well and I think the audience enjoys it, so again, you are hitting on all cylinders.

I also think, oddly, which no one expected us to do, is "History" by One Direction. I feel like this is the best track on the album. It’s such a great song, such a catchy melody, but you’d never think the two of us would do it. We loved singing it. The back-up singers enjoyed singing it. The band loved playing it. It’s one of those songs that will definitely be a keeper in the set.

I come from the pop world, I had a pop hit years ago, but randomly, here we are doing a Broadway-esq cabaret show with pop songs including a One Direction song, which we made a video of for Broadway.com, and I often hear from fans or read on Twitter people saying they like this version better than the One Direction version. Some say it’s their favorite track on the CD. Here, we get to introduce this song to an audience that may not be One Direction fans and they instantly like it. I think that is the point of music. Good music is good music and that’s universal.

6. Was there anything, now that the album is out and you’ve had time to look back on the concert, you wish you did a little bit differently? I don’t think I would do anything differently. I’m very happy with how everything turned out and the choices we made.

Orfeh and Andy Karl7. Since the show was called Legally Bound and that is the name of the album, what is your secret to a successful marriage with Andy? I guess, according to the entertainment world, we’ve been married for like 110 years [laughs]. A long time ago, a girl I knew had a very successful/happy marriage and I said to her, "What’s the secret to your marriage?" and she said, "I married my best friend." Recently, I was having this same conversation with someone and they asked me the same question and I said, "Andy is my best friend. The best person I know on the planet."  I know it sounds cliché, but that is a very major ingredient. Prior to Andy, I had some ridiculous boyfriends, so I sort of came to the party with the knowledge of what I didn’t want in a relationship. That made things easier because I was able to go, "This I don’t want, this I don’t want, and this I don’t want," and then you meet someone who’s not suffering from those issues, who happens to be the most wonderful person out there. And Andy’s a really good person. We kind of matched instantly and while we are very different people, our core values are very similar, so it just really worked out.

Because of our schedules there’s a lot of time apart, which in it’s own bizarre way helps because it gives us our individual space and time. But what it really comes down to is that I like the person I love. When you like the person you love, it’s very, very, different and I like Andy more than anyone on this planet.

8. Just to go back in time a little bit. You and Andy met during the Broadway run of Saturday Night Fever. How long after you met, did you feel like he’s the one? We got married six months later [laughs]. It was truly love at first sight. It was one of those moments that you only think are complete nonsense when you hear about them happening to other people or you see them in movies or on TV. It’s a fantasy, but then it happened to both of us and we still look at each other and say, "Did that really happen to us?" [laughs]

Andy came into Saturday Night Fever in July and we got married in January. There are some people to this day who don’t know we’re married, but certainly, the cast/crew of Saturday Night Fever had no idea. It was just one of those moments. It's like trying to explain catching lightening in a bottle. It really was love at first sight. Nobody thought it would last, but, you know, they were wrong. And he’ll be the one forever and ever!

9. What’s next for you and Andy together, career wise? We’d love to do some film/TV together. I don’t have concrete dates yet, but I definitely think there will be more concerts in the not so distant future. The goal would be to wind up in some project together.

OrfehMore on Orfeh:

Broadway: "Paulette" in Legally Blonde: The Musical (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, Broadway.com Audience Award), Saturday Night Fever, Fascinating Rhythm, Footloose. Off Broadway: Love, Loss, and What I Wore, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Love, Janis. TV/Film: Sleeping with the Fishes (with Gina Rodgriguez), Across the Universe, Film U, L&O CI, Sex and the City, Chappelle's Show. She has performed at Lincoln Center with her husband, Olivier Award winner and Tony nominee Andy Karl, and in numerous Broadway benefits including Hair for the Actors Fund (Grammy nomination). Her extensive recording career includes music with the '90s pop group Or-N-More, she has performed with many music icons from legends the O'Jays to Cissy Houston. Her solo CD, What Do You Want From Me, latest single, "Forget My Name," and live album Orfeh & Andy Karl: Legally Bound – Live at Feinstein's/54 Below are available on iTunes.

Andy KarlMore on Andy:

Winner of the 2017 Olivier Award for "Best Actor" in a Musical for Groundhog Day, Andy was recently seen on the NBC series Law & Order: SVU as "Sergeant Mike Dodds." Andy has also won the Outer Critics Circle Award and has been nominated for Tony, Drama Desk and Drama League Awards for his starring role opposite Kristin Chenoweth in the Broadway revival of On the Twentieth Century. For his critically acclaimed performance as "Rocky Balboa" in the Broadway musical Rocky, Andy was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards. Other Broadway credits include the revival of The Mystery of Edwin DroodJersey BoysWicked9 to 5Legally BlondeThe Wedding Singer and Saturday Night Fever. Off-Broadway/NYC credits include Chita Rivera: NOWADAYS at Carnegie Hall, Annie Get Your Gun (City Center), Altar Boyz (OCC Award), Slut and Saturday Night. His film and television credits include Forever, And So It Goes, Joyful Noise, and Legally Blonde: The Search for Elle Woods.

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?

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:

Friday
Jul072017

Call Answered: Paul Dooley: Movie Dad

Paul Dooley"Steven Keaton," "Mike Brady," and "Dr. Cliff Huxtable" are just some of the most famous TV dads. Paul Dooley has played "dad" to some of the biggest names in Hollywood: Molly Ringwald, Helen Hunt, Toni Collette, Mia Farrow and Julia Roberts. He's made a career out of playing the father role and now, he's written a show all about being Hollywood's most famous Dad!

Movie Dad, brings Paul's reflections on a 60 plus-year career to the Theatre West stage in Los Angeles. Paul shares his lifelong love of comedy and Buster Keaton in this intimate evening that chronicles his journey from a small West Virginia town with interweaving elements of vaudeville, silent film, clowning and stand-up. Paul also offers audiences an insider’s look at what it was like to be part of Robert Altman’s legendary stock company.

Movie Dad will play Theatre West (3333 Cahuenga Blvd West, Los Angeles CA) through July 23. Click here for tickets!

Dennis Christopher and Paul Dooley in "Breaking Away"1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Believe it or not, the first person to inspire me to become a performer was the silent movie star Buster Keaton. Many people think of him as someone who falls down, does a lot of physical comedy—but the truth is, he’s a wonderful actor and I still love him. This is all in my show, including the interesting story of how I finally met him.

2. Your big break came, after 25 years in the business when you starred in Breaking Away and you became an overnight success. What was it like to all of sudden be the toast of the town after working for so long in it? I read five pages of the BREAKING AWAY screenplay, I thought the writing was fabulous, and I knew instantly that the character was just like my own Dad. So I played it just like him. And have played Dads like him ever since. Receiving recognition for a role that meant so much to me personally was incredibly fulfilling.

3. You are well known for playing the "Dad" role to some of the biggest names in Hollywood including Molly Ringwald, Helen Hunt, Toni Collette, Mia Farrow and Julia Roberts. As you started to get cast in these kinds of roles, did it ever bother you that these are the roles you were getting or were you just so happy to be making it, you felt, if this is how I'm meant to do it, I'll take it? Playing Dads is never a problem for me. I am a Dad—I have children of my own. Playing a Dad comes naturally to me.

4. You've played so many dad roles that now you created a one-man show about it called Movie Dad which will be in LA this July. What made you decide to write a show about your time as one of Hollywood's most famous "Dads"? Many people over the years have said to me: Why don’t you write a book? I always said—if I wrote a book, and folks read it and laughed, I’d never hear the laughter. So I decided to put my story on stage.

5. In putting this show together, what did you learn about yourself and your journey in Hollywood? I learned I was way too old to memorize 90 pages of a show.

Paul Dooley and Julia Roberts in "Runaway Bride"6. While writing Movie Dad, what part made you laugh out loud with good memories and what part got you all choked up because it was just such a rough time for you? Many parts of the show brought back fond memories of funny things that happened to me and to family and friends of mine—there are also dramatic moments that were tough to relive—but you have to come see the show to know more—

7. Prior to making it in Hollywood, you had a wide variety of jobs from working as a clown, entertaining kids at birthday parties with magic, juggling, and cartooning skills. During this time, did you ever consider giving up your dream of acting or did these gigs give you the drive to keep going? I only thought about quitting every single day. But as time went on, each new job encouraged me to keep trying. Also I didn’t have any other talent!

Paul Dooley as a magician8. In addition to film, you have had quite a stage career from understudying the original "Felix" in Broadway's The Odd Couple, opposite Walter Mattau and The Three Penny Opera alongside Charlotte Rae (The Facts of Life) and Bea Arthur (Maude, The Golden Girls). Can you tell us one story about your time in each of these shows? I understudied Art Carney who was the original "Felix." Eventually I took over the role and played it opposite Walter Matthau. It was incredible to watch Neil Simon the writer and Mike Nichols the director craft this play together. Once during a performance Art Carney accidentally dropped a tray full of food and drinks onto the floor. Immediately all the actors jumped up to help pick it all up. Carney ad-libbed: "Leave it. The cat will get it." The biggest thrill doing THREE PENNY OPERA was listening to the great Lotte Lenya, Kurt Weill’s widow, sing "The Black Freighter." It was mesmerizing.

9. You were also the co-creator & head writer for the Emmy award winning PBS children's show The Electric Company (one of my favorites!). What made you want to create an entertaining/educational show specifically for children? If you can even choose one, what was your favorite segment to write? I personally loved Spidey Super Stories. The people at the Children’s Television Workshop actually chose me. I was recommended by Carl Reiner. My favorite characters that I created for the Electric Company were: Easy Reader (played by Morgan Freeman) Julia Grownup, Child Chef, and the word detective Fargo North—Decoder.

Paul Dooley and his wife Winnie Holzman10. You are married to Winnie Holzman, who created the series My So Called Life and wrote the book to Broadway's Wicked. With both of you being so successful, how do you balance work and marriage as well as fatherhood? We’ve been incredibly lucky—when one of us was busy, the other was often free. And Vice versa. So with our daughter Savannah, there was usually one of us who able to spend time with her. Either way, my relationship with Winnie has worked out perfectly!

11. In looking back over your career, what are you most proud of? What are you most ashamed of? What do you wish you did differently, if anything? Every triumph, and every failure—has contributed to the whole and I learned from all of it. So I would do it all again.

12. 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? Becoming kinder to everyone. Being generous and understanding. And making every joke I think of just one percent funnier.

Paul DooleyMore on Paul:

1977 was a big year for actor Paul Dooley. That’s when he was "discovered," and after twenty-five years in show business, became an "overnight success." 

It all happened when legendary film director Robert Altman caught him on stage in the Jules Feiffer comedy Hold Me. Altman, who had achieved fame with Mash and Nashville, signed Dooley on the spot to play Carol Burnett’s husband, and the father of the bride, in his upcoming film, A Wedding. After another starring role in Altman’s A Perfect Couple, Paul landed the part that would change his life forever, in the unforgettable coming-of-age classic Breaking Away.

His hilarious portrayal of the long-suffering Dad earned him critical acclaim, and set the stage for another triumph, in the beloved John Hughes comedy, Sixteen Candles. As Molly Ringwald’s distracted yet sympathetic father, Paul endeared himself to an entire generation of young people. 

Since then, he’s played the father of some of our finest actresses, including Helen Hunt, Toni Collette, Mia Farrow and Julia Roberts (Runaway Bride). In addition to being Hollywood’s favorite Dad, Paul has become one of the busiest actors working today; creating one memorable character after another in such films as Popeye, with Robin Williams, where he appeared as the hamburger-loving "Wimpy," a part Dooley says, that he played with relish. Other films include Paternity, with Burt Reynolds, Kiss Me Goodbye, opposite Sally Field and Jeff Bridges, Happy Texas, with William H. Macy, Insomnia, with Al Pacino, and Waiting For Guffman and A Mighty Wind, both with Christopher Guest.

Paul has received two Emmy nominations for his work on the small screen: as the out-of-the-closet father on HBO’s Dream On and a memorable feisty judge on The Practice. He starred in his own TV sitcom, Coming of Age (CBS), which kicked off a series of recurring roles on other TV shows, including ER, Grace Under Fire, My So-Called Life, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Once and Again and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Despite appearances, it didn’t happen overnight. Upon graduation from West Virginia University, Paul headed for New York City in a broken-down 1948 Dodge, with just fifty dollars in his pocket, and nothing to lose. To pay the rent, he worked as a clown, entertaining kids at birthday parties with his magic, juggling, and cartooning skills. Luckily, one of his college chums was none other than Don Knotts. Already a working actor, Knotts convinced the producers of a new children’s TV show that Paul would be perfect as a comic cowboy.

Next came the New York premiere of Kurt Weill’s masterpiece, The Threepenny Opera, a job procured for him by another friend, John Astin, who was appearing in it, along with Charlotte Rae and Beatrice Arthur.

Paul's love of comedy led him to develop an act as a stand-up comic, and after several years of playing nightclubs, he landed on The Tonight Show. From there he joined Second City, the famous improvisational troupe, where his fellow actors included: Alan Arkin, Alan Alda…and several other Alans. Improvising became Paul’s passion: "I love the freedom of it. I can be doing a Shakespeare parody one minute and playing a five year old kid the next. I make my living doing movies and television, but improve I do for my soul."

While at Second City, he met director Mike Nichols, who was about to being the original Broadway production of The Odd Couple to California. Paul was cast as one of the poker playing buddies, and received kudos when he replaced Art Carney as "Felix," playing opposite Walter Matthau.

The Second City actors were suddenly in great demand on Madison Avenue, their improvisational wit beginning to change the face of commercials. Teaming up with fellow writer-performers Andrew Duncan and Lynne Lipton, he formed a company: All Over Creation, and over the next ten years, Paul appeared in over five hundred TV commercials, and nearly a thousand radio spots.

Eventually deciding to use his comedic talents "for good, instead of evil," Paul became the co-creator and head writer of The Electric Company, the Emmy award-winning children’s program on PBS. Throughout all this, Paul continued to perform onstage in New York, including his much lauded portrayal of Casey Stengel, in a one-man show about the life of the eccentric baseball coach.

Paul shares his home in Los Angeles, as well as his computer, with his wife, Winnie Holzman, also a writer: "My wife is very talented. She created a wonderful television series, the highly acclaimed, My So-Called Life, and the Broadway musical Wicked." In 2013, they co-wrote and produced Assisted Living, a touching and funny play that premiered in Los Angeles.

Last year, Paul created and starred in a one-man show, Upright and Personal, about his 60 years in show business. It ran for several months at Theatre West in Los Angeles and was such a success that he decided to bring it back for a second year this July.

Paul has four children: Robin, Adam, Peter, and Savannah; and is the proud grandfather of three. "Looks like this father thing is working out," he says with a smile.