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Entries in Actor (172)

Thursday
Jun222017

Call Answered: Malcolm David Kelley: "Detroit," "Lost," "Antwone Fisher"

Malcolm David KelleyMalcolm David Kelley has gone from Lost to Detroit, traveling between television, film, and music. His first major acting role was that of "Young Antwone" in the Denzel Washington directed film Antwone Fisher. He then got Lost on the ABC Emmy Award winning drama, but eventually found himself on TeenNick's Gigantic, where he met his future singing partner Tony Oller, who then formed the group MKTO.

Now Malcolm is returning to the big screen in the highly anticipated crime drama DETROIT, based on the The Algiers Motel Incident during Detroit's 1967 12th Street Riot. DETROIT hits theaters on August 4th!

For more on Malcolm be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become an actor? I started acting when I was five years old. Just watching TV and kids in the McDonald's commercials having fun, I told my mom I wanted to do it. She found my managers, we had a meeting, and I ended up bookin' a McDonald's commercial. Then just growing up and continuing to act, I grew more in love with it. Watching Denzel Washington in Antwone Disher, direct and play in a movie, really opened my eyes on the many things you can do. So just then I was inspired to accomplish a lot in this industry.

Malcolm David Kelley as "Walt" on ABC's "Lost", Photo Credit: ABC2. Your first major acting role was in 2002, in the film Antwone Fisher, directed and starring Denzel Washington. What did you learn from working with Denzel Washington? Do you still keep in touch with Denzel today? I was born in 1992 lol so I was 10 going on 11 I think. As I mentioned a little in the answer above working with Denzel just opened my eyes to do so much. He was very involved in the audition processes all the way through. He is a great director and gets his vision across. Watching him direct made me realize that was something I wanted to do.

3. In 2004, you were cast as "Walt" on the Emmy Award winning ABC series Lost. What did you like most about your storyline? I loved working on Lost and going through that whole journey. From a pilot and not knowing where the show could go and then it turning into one of the biggest shows that still can be appreciated 10 plus years later is amazing. Working with that cast and me being one of the youngest cast mates there I just learned so much and soaked up so much from everyone. Loved my story line and how I can make things appear with my mind lol.

Malcolm David Kelley4. Let's just play with the Lost title/theme for a bit. If you got Lost on an island, how do you think you would survive? If you're being Lost was a choice and you could only bring five things with you, what would you bring? I think I would survive ok. lol Even though I hate bugs, I would get used to it lol. Eating salmon lol and fresh fish and fruit. The five things I would need on an island are my girlfriend, clean water, and my speaker.

5. What is one funny story from your time on Lost that you can share with us? One funny time is when we were shooting the pilot on the beach and their were wild hogs running around and I remember they caught them and we ate them lol.

6. In 2010, you appeared in the lead role of "Finn" on the TeenNick program Gigantic. In 2012, you and your former Gigantic co-star Tony Oller formed the pop duo MKTO. How long after meeting, did you you decide you form your own group? What has been the best part about working together and what's the most challenging part? Well while we were filming the first season and after we put songs on YouTube and fans loved it and our producers we signed to saw it, we met with them, cut some records, and then met with some labels ended up with Columbia Records. "Classic" went platinum. I will never forget that and the work we put in and meeting so many great people touring Australia and New Zealand and all of the U.S. and more. Can't wait to get back out there and just being on stage period and being on stage with Taylor Swift in front of 60k people.

7. Your newest single is "Hands Off Your Heart/"Places You Go." What are some favorite "Places You Go" to Eat? Relax? Exercise? Get Coffee/Tea? and Be A Child Again/Forever Young? What are some reasons you'd ask someone to take their "Hands Off Your Heart"? Hawaii definitely is a place I can go relax, eat, and exercise on the Basketball court. Def be a kid again lol. So many memories from filming Lost.

Reasons I would ask a girl to take her hands off my heart are not loving me how I love her or knowing we won't work but it might be right in the moment.

8. Up until now, you're career has been film, television, and music. Do you have any aspirations to come to Broadway? If so, would you want to star in a musical or play? If it had to be a play and musical from the current season, which ones would you like to be part of? I was so close to doing a play while being in my acting class but I ended up booking something so I didn't get to do it. It's on my bucket list to get on stage and do a musical or play. I remember my cousin doing The Lion King and Keke Palmer doing CinderellaI. I went to see her as well and I have always admired the craft. As far as what play, not sure, but I like to play, have fun, and push boundaries, so you never know.

9. On August 4, you make your big screen return in the highly anticipated, DETROIT. The American period crime drama based on the The Algiers Motel Incident during Detroit's 1967 12th Street Riot. How do you feel this film relates now to the trying times we are living in where that moron of President is dividing this nation further and further apart, but the citizen's of the world are trying to keep it together? I feel everything happens for a reason. I'm just glad we are coming together realizing we have made progress but we have much more to do. We are being heard without having to rebel as we have in the past which has turned into some rioting. This time piece is a part of American history and some may know or may not know and as people we are strong enough to understand this movie has so much relevancy to today.

10. What did you learn about yourself, life, and those that supposedly protect us from making this film? Well for the people who protect us, I know sometimes they can abuse their authority as we are being victims to seeing this in real time. I think we need to have our communities' voices heard to stop this. So we need to have a conversation on protocol. What this film did for me is just enlightening me on this particular story in Detroit and reading up in other cities and my home town L.A.

11. 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 want to improve on perfecting my crafts. Especially when people try to make you pick one thing. I want to put the work in to be respected at both.

Malcolm David KelleyMore on Malcolm:

At 25 years-old, Malcolm David Kelley is a veteran in the Entertainment Industry. Malcolm’s first major acting role was in the 2002 film Antwone Fisher starring Denzel Washington, where he played "Young Antwone" -- he was five. His next film role was You Got Served, in which he was cast in the supporting role of "Lil' Saint" where Malcolm played a boy fascinated with the world of street dance who gets caught up in gang mentality, with tragic consequences. The film, starring Steve Harvey, Lil’ Kim and B2K, opened at #1 and grossed $40 million.

In 2004, he was cast to play "Walt" in the ABC’s Emmy Award winning TV series Lost which became a huge cult success. Following his departure from the main cast of Lost, Malcolm appeared in several television roles, including the recurring character of "Benjamin Cooley" on Saving Grace, guest appearances on Glee, My Name is Earl, Law and Order SVU, Bones and dozens more. 

In 2010, he appeared in the lead role of "Finn" on the TeenNick program Gigantic. In 2012, Malcolm and his former Gigantic co-star Tony Oller formed the pop duo MKTO were signed to Columbia Records. The duo's debut self-titled album, was released on April 1, 2014 and spawned the hit single, "Classic" which reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. MKTO recently released, "Hands Off My Heart/Places You Go" and are currently on tour.

On August 4, Malcolm returns to the big screen in the highly anticipated, "DETROIT." The American period crime drama film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal based on the The Algiers Motel Incident during Detroit's 1967 12th Street Riot. A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest citizen uprisings in United States history. The story is centered around The Algiers Motel Incident, which occurred in Detroit, Michigan on July 25, 1967, during the racially charged 12th Street Riot. It involves the death of three black men and the brutal beatings of nine other people: seven black men and two white women. The ensemble cast also includes: Anthony Mackie, John Krasinski, John Boyega, Laz Alonso, Kaitlyn Dever and Algee Smith.

Tuesday
Jun062017

Call Answered: Conference Call: Michael Raver & Nicholas Carriere: Death Comes for the War Poets at Sheen Center

Nicholas Carriere & Michael Raver, Photo Credit: Lloyd MulveyWe live in some crazy times. Every day that moron stays in office is another battle we have to fight for our freedom from him because we never know what that lunatic is going to do. Ever since this election, I am just grateful to wake-up everyday still alive.

When I found out about Death Comes For The War Poets, a new play by Joseph Pearce, I thought this would be a great show to highlight because it takes place on the centenary of the United States’ entry into World War One and grapples with the horror of trench warfare as experienced by the two greatest war poets, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen.

I was so excited to get to speak with the plays' two lead actors, Michael Raver and Nicholas Carriere, who play "Wilfred Owen" and "Siegfried Sassoon" respectively. It was interesting to compare the events of the past with what's happening today.

Presented by Blackfriars Repertory Theatre and The Storm Theatre Company, Death Comes For The War Poets will make it's world premiere at The Sheen Center in NYC (18 Bleecker Street) from June 9-24. Click here for tickets!

For more on Michael be sure to visit http://michaelraver.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter!

For more on Nicholas visit http://nicholascarriere.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

1. This June you are starring in the world premiere of Blackfriars Repertory Theatre and The Storm Theatre Company's production of Death Comes for the War Poets by Joseph Pearce. What attracted you to this show?

Michael Raver: I didn’t actually know anything about Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon when I heard about this play. The poetry that both of these men wrote, the emotional capacity of their work and what they accomplished with it is staggering. Ultimately because plays are about relationships between people, that's the breakfast, lunch and dinner for actors, right? Sassoon and Owen had a fascinating relationship, one that was very obviously filled with a lot of love. Against the backdrop of how they met and the abiding feelings they expressed to each other suggest delicious possibilities.

Nicholas Carriere: Pure curiosity, and a dose of masochism. I’m from New England, and was raised Catholic, so if it seems difficult, I’ll probably be drawn to it.

2. What do you relate to most about your characters "Siegfried Sassoon" & "Wilfred Owen"? What is one characteristic of theirs are you glad you don't possess?

Michael Raver: I love Owen’s emotional bravery. One of his most profound gifts to the poetic landscape, particularly as it pertained to war, was a willingness to be vulnerable and blunt. There was no sarcasm or triviality in his ethos. As an actor and as a writer, my ultimate desire is to get to the bottom of complicated things. Distilling, while I wrestle with things that make no sense to me. Owen spent his short career fighting to understand violence and I can completely relate to that. I’m relieved that the jingoistic relationship with going to war isn’t on the menu for me. England, at the time of the first World War, had a propensity for nurturing young men to believe that their destinies were all on the battlefield. The might is right. I have respect for the military but I’m endlessly thankful that I’m not among them.

Nicholas Carriere: I love words, much like he (obviously) did, though the way we use them is very different. Sassoon was a fascinating man, whose life was beautiful, and tragic. The events of our respective lives couldn’t be more different; it feels unfair of me to judge any of his choices, or perceived character traits. That said, I could only wish to write as beautifully as he did.

Michael Raver, Nicholas Carriere, Sarah Naughton, Photo Credit: Lloyd Mulvey3. In preparing for the show, what kind of research did you do on your characters?

Michael Raver: Reading a lot. I’ve read and re-read his poetry. I also was in touch with the Wilfred Owen Association and they’ve been very helpful giving me some details about him that I might not have easily found in books. Because he was suffering from shell shock at the time we’re covering in the piece, I also watched some really heartbreaking documentaries about the lasting effects of war on the human body.

Nicholas Carriere: I read the first of Sassoon’s autobiographies, and reviewed my WWI history, but because there’s very little interpersonal dialogue in the play, most of the work lay in unpacking the language of his poems, because his poems serve as the narrative engine. I can’t rely on relationships, or sets, or a general audience’s working knowledge of this man. I have to find a way to create the world of this man’s life - both external and internal - with only his poetry.

4. Since you play poets and the show is about war, if you were to write a very short poem about war, how would your poem go?

Michael Raver: 

Roses are red, violets are blue
War is complete bullshit
So stay home won’t you?

Nicholas Carriere: If anyone wants to see me doing poetry, they should come see the show starting June 9th!

Michael Raver5. The show is titled Death Comes for the War Poets. If death came for you now, what would you be most grateful for that you've accomplished and what would be one or two things you were like, "Damn, I didn't get to do that yet"?

Michael Raver: I’m grateful that, in the last year particularly, I’ve stayed in the present moment more often than not. I’ve gotten to be present for some really exceptional moments in other people’s lives. Births, weddings, seminal creative moments and also a few deaths. As far as things that I haven’t done yet, I guess that since we live in a work-addicted culture, I would love to get to a point where I can soften out of that a little. In terms of my career, I’m proud of what I’ve done so far. I’m in the process of writing a book right now and I’m looking forward to seeing that through.

Nicholas Carriere: Oh, see, although I have a very bounteous life, with much to be grateful for, I try not to dwell on any of it, and hope to be present enough to not live (or die) with regrets.

6. The show deals with the horror of trench warfare, so what is the most horrific thing to happen to each of you in your life? How did you find the strength to continue after said event?

Michael Raver: My father passed away when I was eighteen and that was pretty traumatizing. Our relationship and the circumstances of it were very complicated and the situation left me with a lot of frayed edges and unresolved issues. For lack of a better way of saying it, losing a parent can feel like emotional war. Someone recently told me this really great idea that your parents give birth to you twice. Once when you’re born and then again when they die. As an adult man now, I’ve made a concerted effort to get the most out of the time I have while I have it. If something bothers me, I say something. If I have the impulse to change something about my life, I really try not to hesitate. While I appreciate that there’s a time and a place for everything, subjugating my feelings and thoughts feels like death.

Nicholas Carriere: There is poetry in the play, which deals with trench warfare, and it’s a testament to Sassoon and Owen as artists that they’re able to render such vivid, haunting accounts of a very dark time in modern history. But it’s the darkness of that time, which enables Sassoon to find a path to peace. So few of us can ever know the horror of that kind of war; mostly anything I could ever, or may ever endure seems manageable.

Nicholas Carriere7. Not only is this story told through the eyes of Siefgried & Wilfred, it's also told through the "Spirit of Death." I don't want to make every question a downer, so let's have some fun with this question. If you could come up with a cheer for the "Spirit of Death," how would you cheer go?

Michael Raver: This isn’t really a chant, but KT Tunstall has a gorgeous song about death called ‘Carried’ that would be my go-to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLNp1WROFR0

Nicholas Carriere: Sarah Naughton, who plays "Death" in the show, will be charming, and cheering audiences nightly starting 6/9. I’ll defer to her expertise.

8. We are currently living in some very trying times, especially with what's his name leading our country. What are some things you are still hopeful for in this day and age?

Michael Raver: I love those moments when communication between people gets bolstered, strengthened. I love directness. I love when I get an email or a text or a call from someone I haven’t seen in a while or even its somebody that I see on a regular basis, to get a "just saying hi" message. Little morsels of love like that can work miracles on a downtrodden mood. Celebrating what unites us rather than what breaks us up. I’m hopeful that in the coming years, people will dig deep to embrace their own vulnerability as a strength rather than labeling it a weakness.

Nicholas Carriere: My father has an infuriating way of assuring me that humanity will find its way towards whatever is best. Frustratingly, as I grow older, I am starting to see his point. I have faith.

Nicholas Carriere and Michael Raver, Photo Credit: Lloyd Mulvey9. How do you feel we can bring peace to this world we live in?

Michael Raver: Love is a huge necessity, absolutely, but I think perhaps a refined definition of what love is. To me, love has always been an action. It’s a verb. It’s so easy to toss that word off carelessly. I so want our collective consciousness to rise to the point where we can walk our own talk. If you love someone, show them if you want to tell them. If something bothers you, do something. Regarding the political circus going on at the moment, my encouragement to anyone upset by it would be to pick up a phone, call a congress person, go to a protest. Donate money. Do rather than simply complain.

Nicholas Carriere: Our collective wellspring of empathy and compassion, I think, has no bottom; we need only make better (and more frequent) use of it.

10. If you could write death a letter, what would you say to it?

Michael Raver: 

Dear sir and/or madam: 

I have a lot of things I want to do. Do me a solid and let me do them. I want to be very thoroughly used up by the time you show up looking for me.

Thanks!

xo

Nicholas Carriere: "Are you ok? You look like… Well. You know."

Michael RaverMore on Michael:

Off-Broadway: The Persians (National Actors Theatre); Vieux Carré (The Pearl); Julius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet (Aquila Theatre). Select regional: Bay Street Theater, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Playhouse on Park, Ivoryton Playhouse, Sierra Rep. Select film/TV: How We Built the Bomb, Dark Places, Gone Away, Turn: Washington’s Spies. As a playwright: Fire on Babylon (Wild Project, Great River Shakespeare Festival, The O’Neill semifinalist), RiptideQuiet Electricity (The O’Neill semifinalist), Evening (Red Bull Theater finalist) and adaptations of The Picture of Dorian Gray (Sonnet Rep, Orlando Shakespeare Theater 
PlayFest finalist) and The Seagull (The Pearl). Contributes pieces to Classical TVNYC Monthly, Hamptons Monthly, The Huffington Post, Playbill.com, Dance Magazine and CoolHunting.com.

Nicholas CarriereMore on Nicholas:

Some New York and regional credits include Sex with Strangers (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), My Report to the World (NY Museum of Jewish Heritage and Shakespeare Theater, DC), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Guthrie Theater), A Song at Twilight (Hartford Stage and Westport Country Playhouse), Zorro (American premiere at Alliance Theatre), Abigail/1702 (world premiere at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Coriolanus (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company), The Lion King (national tour/Vegas). Training: MFA, Yale School of Drama and Muhlenberg College. Thanks to his father for his support and always letting him make a mess in his kitchen.

Monday
May222017

Call Answered: Conference Call: Bryce Pinkham & Lauren Worsham: 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists + A Gentleman's Guide To Love & Murder

Bryce Pinkham and Lauren Worsham, Photo Credit: Walter McBride"Stop! Wait! What?" I'm getting to interview Tony Nominees Bryce Pinkham & Lauren Worsham whom I LOVED in the Tony Award winning musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder! With "Poison in My Pocket," I got Bryce & Lauren to open up about GGLAM antics and reuniting for the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists series From Camelot to California: The Worlds of Lerner & Lowe!

Scotland, California, Covent Garden, Paris, Camelot — lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe evoked entire worlds in their groundbreaking musicals. Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Gigi and Camelot all were conjured by the Old World Austrian Loewe and the Harvard-educated American Lerner. Rob Berman, music director of the New York City Center Encores! series and recent Broadway musicals Dames at Sea, Bright Star and Tuck Everlasting, makes his Lyrics & Lyricists debut as artistic director for an entrancing show that revels in their romantic songs, from "Almost Like Being in Love" to "I Could Have Danced All Night."

From Camelot to California: The Worlds of Lerner & Lowe will take place June 3-5 at 92Y (Lexington Avenue & 92nd Street). Click here for tickets!

For more on Bryce follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

For more on Lauren visit http://laurenworsham.com and follow her on Twitter!

For more on 92Y visit http://www.92y.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer?

Bryce Pinkham: My parents were called into a parent/teacher conference in the first grade in which the teacher begged them to find their son a stage other than her classroom. To this day, that compassionate, patient and apparently prescient teacher remains a friend of the family.

Lauren Worsham: My mother inspired me to become a performer. I was a bit of a class clown and a troublemaker, always seeking attention. My mother put me in theater programs as a child in order to channel some of that attention-seeking energy into something positive. It worked. :)

Bryce Pinkham backstage at the 2014 Tony Awards2. This June you are going to be part of the the 92Y's Lyrics & Lyricist concert series featuring the music of Lerner & Loewe. What is it about their music that made you want to be part of this particular concert series?

Bryce Pinkham: The style of the music from their period seems to suit my voice. They also understood how to write really complicated characters. Who else could have turned a George Bernard Shaw play into a musical? Also, I really wanted to work with Rob Berman; he is a brilliant mind and an all-around nice guy.

Lauren Worsham: Truth be told, I would giddily be a part of any project involving Rob Berman and Chase Brock. I've worked with both Chase and Rob on different gigs. I've done two shows with Rob through NY City Center Encores!: -  Where's Charley and Big River. Chase choreographed my rock band's piece "The Wildness" at Ars Nova when I was 7 months pregnant. The gorgeous music of Lerner and Loewe is icing on the collaboration cake!

3. What do you think will excite and surprise 92Y audiences about this concert?

Bryce Pinkham: I'll be singing "Eliza Doolittle" songs in drag, I expect that will be a surprising for some and exciting for others.

Lauren Worsham: I cannot imagine a better group of individuals to put on a show. I also know the majority of them personally. Lilli and I played opposite each other in The Wildness and Bryce and I played opposite each other in A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder. I think those personal relationships help to fast track our team to dig deeper more quickly. I also know that Rob's knowledge of the musical theater canon is vast and I cannot wait to see how he puts everything together

Bryce Pinkham in Madagascar4. One of the songs being performed is "Almost Like Being In Love." When scenario has happened to you that made you feel it was "Almost Like Being In Love"?

Bryce Pinkham: Well, I've never gone hunting with a buddy in Scotland and met a girl from a mysterious disappearing village, so maybe a better question would be "Have you ever allowed someone else's life to mean more to you than anything else?" To which my answer would have to be: I am trying to constantly find ways to make other people (particularly strangers) lives' better. A good friend and I went to Madagascar and built a theater show with 14 at-risk kids whose language we didn't speak. In the process, we rediscovered why the performing arts have great potential to change lives. We were also reminded how by placing one's attention on someone else one can reconnect to their humanity, that pure empathic generator that show-business so often clouds with ego and shrouds with fear. Watching 14 children who had never seen a stage before ultimately perform a show they created for their own community in their native language and subsequently receive applause from their entire village...that was almost like being in love. Your readers can learn more about our project at www.zaraaina.org.

Lauren Worsham: If you take the song just at its title - I'd say I've felt that way every time I travel to a new city and experience the romance of vacation! Which matches nicely with the musical it comes from - Brigadoon. Traveling to a new city can feel like traveling to a new world! I think the song is trying to say that the protagonist actually IS in love, he's just not ready to say it yet. I think the last time I felt that was when I first fell in love with my husband.

Lauren Worsham and her husband5. Another song on the roster is "I Could Have Danced All Night." When have you had that feeling in your own life?

Bryce Pinkham: I love dancing, but I also love sleep. So I can safely say that I have never had that feeling in my life. *Please Note: This is one of the songs I will be singing in drag ;)

Lauren Worsham: The night that GGL&M won the Best Musical Tony Award, I most definitely could have danced all night!! Also, my wedding night! And bizarrely, the night I gave birth to my daughter. When something that exciting happens - it's hard to let go of that energy. 

6. If you could star in any revival of a Lerner & Lowe show, which one would you like to star in?

Bryce Pinkham: "King Arthur" in Camelot...in a few years time

Lauren Worsham: My Fair Lady!

Lisa O'Hare, Bryce Pinkham, and Lauren Worsham in the Tony Award winning musical "A Gentleman's Guide To Love & Murder"7. Let's play with the title of Lerner & Lowe's "Paint Your Wagon." If you were to "Paint Your Wagon," what would your painting represent?

Bryce Pinkham: Authenticity and the constant search for it in myself and others.

Lauren Worsham: Ummmm....If I'm traveling across the country in the wagon I would like for it to say something important politically. Maybe, This country was built on immigrants! Or Respect each other! 

8. Now, let's talk about the two of you for a moment over these next two questions. You both starred on Broadway together in the Tony Award winning musical, A Gentleman's Guide To Love & Murder. What are you most excited about in performing together again?

Bryce Pinkham: Anyone who gets to sing with Lauren automatically sounds better for it. This will be the fifth time I have said yes to singing with Lauren and that's no mistake. I made my Carnegie Hall debut with her (a night of Gilbert and Sullivan), she even let me come sing with her badass rock band and now I will be lucky enough to work with her after she's become a mom, so that's going to be special. Lauren is delightfully authentic and always comes in with many more ideas than me. I will always say yes to singing with her whenever I can.

Lauren Worsham: I'm really looking forward to hearing Bryce just sing. He has a lovely voice and I miss it.

Lauren Worsham and Bryce Pinkham at the 2014 Drama Desk Awards9. What was one of the funniest moments to happen to you on stage during Gentleman's Guide?

Bryce Pinkham: When Jefferson Mays and Joanna Glushack used to inadvertently spray Lauren, Lisa and I with saliva across the dinner table. You never knew where it was going to land and sometimes it landed in very funny places and we would have a hard time not losing our collective minds. Very good times those were indeed.

Lauren Worsham: Oh, mostly a lot of stuff involving bodily fluids - spit and sweat and snot. Nothing pretty. One time though, someone stepped on my train and I fell to my knees mid-song. It's very hard to get up from the floor in a corset. I didn't stop singing though!

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?

Bryce Pinkham: I want to spend 1% less time every day in front of my screens. I dare your readers to take a whole subway ride without looking at their phone. I try to talk to a stranger once every day - mind you - not in a creepy way, just in a way that reminds me that we have the ability to connect with each other despite having nothing in common. We humans used to depend on each other to fill the void we all feel. Nowadays we increasingly fill that same void with time interacting with machines. I think we are losing our ability and quite frankly, our desire to talk to each other. I hate to break it to you folks, but a Facebook friend is not a friend. A text is not a conversation. With respect, this isn't even an interview, I just typed out the answers on my computer and sent them back in an email. We didn't even talk*.  I understand why we depend so much on our machines, and what we stand to gain from them, but I think we have to consciously spend more and more time away from them if we want to find what I think we are all desperately looking for: genuine connection. 

*A Note from Bryce: Adam graciously offered to talk over the phone, but because of time constraints I chose to answer his questions in email form.

Lauren Worsham: I think it would be nice to improve my nap schedule by 1%. Being a new parent is exhausting!!!

Bryce PinkhamMore on Bryce:

An American stage and screen actor, Bryce Pinkham is most widely known for originating the role of "Monty Navarro" in the Tony Award Winning production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, for which he was nominated for a Tony, Grammy and Drama Desk Award. He also notably appeared in the Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles as "Peter Patrone," for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance in 2015. His other Broadway credits include original roles in Holiday Inn, Ghost and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

Bryce's television appearances include as a series regular on the second season of PBS’ Civil War Drama Mercy Street, guest appearances in Baz Lurman's Netflix series The Get Down and Robert DeNiro's feature film The Comedian as well as The Good Wife (CBS), and Person of Interest (CBS).

As a singer Bryce has performed in concert venues across the country, most notably Carnegie Hall, Chicago Lyric Opera, Lincoln Center and The Library of Congress.

As a writer, Bryce has published articles on acting, performing and education in American Theater Magazine, Yale Alumni Magazine and others.

In 2012 Bryce helped found Zara Aina, an NGO that uses the power of theatrical storytelling to empower at-risk youth. In May 2013, Bryce led a team of American artists on Zara Aina’s pilot program to Madagascar. Bryce is also a frequent collaborator with Outside the Wire, a social impact theater company that serves many communities but particularly focuses on military audiences. His most notable international tours include Guantanamo Bay, Japan, Kuwait, and Qatar.

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Bryce was awarded the Leonore Annenberg Foundation Early Career Fellowship in 2012. Bryce holds a BA from Boston College and an MA from the Yale School of Drama.

Lauren WorshamMore on Lauren:

Lauren Worsham is a Tony-nominated actress and singer. She was nominated for a Tony and won Drama Desk and Theatre World awards for the role of "Phoebe" in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (2014 Tony winner for Best Musical). Most recently, she was seen in New York City Center’s gala production of Sunday in the Park with George. Other favorite roles include "Lisa" in Dog Days at Montclair Peak Performances, Fort Worth Opera and LA Opera for director Robert Woodruff; "Flora" in Turn of the Screw at New York City Opera for Sam Buntrock; "Amy" in Where’s Charley? at Encores! for John Doyle; "Cunegonde" in New York City Opera's Candide, and "Olive" in the first national tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Lauren performs frequently in concert at Carnegie Hall, 54 Below, Joe's Pub, Caramoor, Merkin Hall, Oregon Bach Festival, Galapagos Art Space and New York City Opera's VOX. Lauren placed second in the Kurt Weill Foundation's Lotte Lenya competition. She’s co-founder and executive director of the downtown opera company, The Coterie, and is a founding member of the band, Sky-Pony.

Wednesday
May102017

Call Answered: Conference Call: Austin Pendleton & Barbara Bleier: "Beautiful Mistake" at Pangea

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at PangeaWhen I found out that Austin Pendleton & Barbara Bleier were doing a new cabaret show together, entitled Beautiful Mistake: The Songs of John Bucchino and Amanda McBroom, I was delighted they answered my call! 

Beautiful Mistake is an evening of story songs including unpublished work from McBroom and Bucchino, as well as some known songs including McBroom/Hunt/McBroom’s "Errol Flynn" (an NPR feature pick for Songs We Love), and Bucchino’s "If I Ever Say I’m Over You" recorded by Art Garfunkel on Grateful: The Songs of John Bucchino.

Beautiful Mistake has two shows left, May 18 &  May 23 at 7pm at Pangea (178 2nd Avenue). Click here for tickets!

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at Pangea, Photo Credit: Theater Pizzazz1. Who or what inspired you to be a performer?

Austin Pendleton: When I was a kid my mother got involved with a community theatre that was being developed in Warren, Ohio, our hometown. The early rehearsals were in our living room, evenings, after dinner. My brother Alec and I would sneak down, after we were supposed to be in bed and watch these rehearsals. I was hooked.

Barbara Bleier: I can’t even remember far enough back! I’ve always been a performer. I learned to read music before I learned to read words, and I was reading words at four years old. My mother was a pianist, and there was always music in my house…music of all kinds; classical, show tunes, popular songs. My mother played, and my sister and I sang. My father was our audience. I started picking out tunes on the piano, and began piano lessons before I was four. I loved playing the piano, and played concerts from the time I was four, but I loved singing even more. I was always the vocal soloist for the assemblies and programs in my grade school, PS89, and was the singer for the jazz band at the High School of Music & Art (now LaGuardia).

2. How did you two first come to meet? How long after you met did you go, "We should do cabaret together"?

Austin Pendleton: Barbara wanted me to coach her on some acting material. Then Barbara joined my acting class at HB Studio, here in New York. Then Barbara asked me to do a cabaret with her, in, like, 2000.  The rest is what I like to think of as history.

Barbara Bleier: That wasn’t exactly how it happened. It was kind of, "I proposed to him!" I was studying acting with Austin at HB Studio. I was also doing cabaret…in fact, I had been a Fellow at the Eugene O’Neill Cabaret Symposium in 1992…and had been doing cabaret before and after that. I had started studying acting, because the songs that I preferred singing were story songs, and I thought that studying acting would help me get the most out of them. (I also, at that time, started performing as an actor). So, I was taking a class in the late 90’s with Austin, and had a cabaret gig coming up. There was a duet by Dick Maltby and David Shire called "There" that I was aching to sing, and I needed a male partner. I knew, of course, that Austin was a singer, and I asked him if he’d like to do that song with me in the show. His answer was, "You’re offering me one song?" I said, "Would you like half a show?," and the rest is history. We performed our first cabaret, Undecided in New York and Chicago, and had a great time with it! We also got some really good notices. "There" has been in every show we’ve done since, except the present one.

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at Pangea, Photo Credit: Theater Pizzazz3. What do you love about working with each other?

Austin Pendleton: Barbara actually listens to me. This leads me to actually listen to her.

Barbara Bleier: Well, first of all, I LOVE Austin, so that’s a good beginning. He’s not a "straight line" thinker; he kind of comes in from the side, and I love that! We always seem to be on the same page, or following one another’s crazy thoughts, or awakening one another to something. There is, honestly, no one I’d rather work with.

4. Has there ever been a time when you both were really excited to duet on a song, but then disagree on how it should be executed, and, if so, who won?

Austin Pendleton: I have a sneaking suspicion that Barbara always wins these.

Barbara Bleier: I know it sounds crazy, but that’s never really happened. At least, I don’t think it’s happened. Austin may feel differently! It’s more of a "free association" process. We start singing the song, then one of us gets an idea, and we try it, and that leads to another idea that we try. It kind of evolves.

5. What excites you about your new show Beautiful Mistake?

Austin Pendleton: To enter the world of John Bucchino and Amanda McBroom is precisely as exciting as falling down the rabbit hole.

Barbara Bleier: My idea of heaven would be to spend eternity singing John’s and Amanda’s music! And, there are trunks full of it!!! Their lyrics always seem to say what I want to be saying, and their music is so incredible, in such different ways. John’s has a baroque quality, to me…I fell in love with him for his chords. Amanda’s is more romantic, and both of them often play against the lyric, which is wonderful to perform as an actor and musician. Both can be ironic and humorous, in just the ways I Iove. I guess this also answers your question.

6. This new show is called "Beautiful Mistake." What is one "Beautiful Mistake" you have made? (meaning, you made a mistake with something, but it turned out to be a good thing). 

Austin Pendleton: Many things in my life have been beautiful mistakes that turned into a good thing. Then there are the mistakes that are not beautiful and do not turn out to be a good thing. Then there are the mistakes that are not beautiful but still turn out to be a good thing. On such occasions I confess to a certain confusion.

Barbara Bleier:  Oh, so many. It’s not the mistakes you make, it’s what you do with them, what you learn, how they take your life in a different direction. One example I can think of, as a divorced mother whose children were quite young at the time…the marriage was a mistake, but my two wonderful sons sure weren’t!

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at Pangea, Photo Credit: Theater Pizzazz7. What is a story about one of John or Amanda’s songs that is not in the show that really hit you hard?

Austin Pendleton: The songs of Amanda's and John's that hit me the hardest are in the show. The other songs of Amanda's and John's that hit me the hardest will be in the next show.

Barbara Bleier: John’s song, "Not A Cloud In The Sky," which deals with someone trying to handle the death of a loved one by dissociating the possibility of their death; taking control by being obsessive compulsive about little things, because if they let any emotion through they would crumble. I lost my sister (also a musician) five years ago, and that was my way of trying to keep control and be strong for her, and for myself.

8. If you could sing a quartet with John and Amanda, which song of theirs would you pick?

Austin Pendleton: "That Smile." I defy Mozart to top "That Smile."

Barbara Bleier: Well, the only one that they wrote together was "Beautiful Mistake," which I can’t quite wrap my mind around as a quartet, so I'll pick one for each? It would be "Coney Island" (A Catered Affair) for John, and Amanda’s song "Old Love," which Amanda wrote with the wonderful Michele Brourman.

Austin PendletonMore on Austin:

Austin Pendleton is an actor, director, playwright and teacher of acting, whose most recent stage appearance was as the "King" in Lear at The Secret Theatre, a critically lauded run that just ended in early April. Austin's first Broadway appearance was as "Motel the Tailor" in the original production of Fiddler on the Roof directed by Jerome Robbins and starring Zero Mostel. He has since appeared frequently on, off and off-off Broadway, and can be seen in approximately 200 films. His many TV appearances include roles on Oz, Homicide, Law and Order and Billions. In New York, he has directed Between Riverside and Crazy and four shows at CSC (Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, Ivanov and Hamlet) featuring such players as Peter Sarsgaard (Hamlet), Maggie Gyllenhall and Ethan Hawke. Austin is the author of three plays (Orson's Shadow, Uncle Bob, Booth) all produced in New York, and, in the case of Uncle Bob and Orson's Shadow, internationally. He has most recently directed Luft Gangster for Nylon Fusion Theatre Company & Cloverleaf Collective, A Day at the Beach for the Mint Theatre Company, and A Taste of Honey for the Pearl Theatre. He teaches acting in New York at HB Studio, where he studied with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof. He also studied acting with Robert Lewis.

Barbara BleierMore on Barbara:

Barbara Bleier is a singer, actor and playwright who has appeared on stage, in film, and on TV, as well as in solo shows and revues in national and international cabaret. She played the mother of a psychopathic killer in the cult classic, Swoon, and appeared in the film This is Where I Leave You, with Jane Fonda and Tina Fey, and in They Came Together, with Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler. Her solo show, Who’s Your Mama? was selected for production in the NYC Women at Work Festival, and her two-person revues with Austin Pendleton, Late Nights in Smoky Bars (New York, Chicago and Philadelphia) and ‘Tis the Season to Be Morbid, received critical praise in the press. She has studied acting with Austin Pendleton, singing with Barbara Maier, and musical performance with the late Julie Wilson at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center.

Tuesday
May092017

Call Answered: Sam Pancake: "Gilmore Girls" + "Hot Sweet & Sticky"

Sam PancakeGrowing up, my favorite pancakes were silver dollar. I couldn't wait to drizzle that maple syrup on, and eat them up. When actor Sam Pancake called, my taste buds heightened answered! With fork and knife in hand, I cut into Sam revealing all that went into the NYC premiere of his hit show Hot Sweet & Sticky as well as his role on Netflix's Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life as Stars Hollow's only gay resident!

In Hot Sweet & Sticky, Sam Pancake portrays three different show-biz strivers: "Helluva Bottom Carter," a vivacious southern drag queen with an agenda; "Dame Peggy Wooten-Heifen-Smythe," a tipsy, aging Grande Dame of the British stage and screen; and "Fritzie Zimmer," the self-proclaimed "world's oldest-living openly-gay stand-up comedian/chorus boy." With this trio of divas, severe costume changes, stellar lip-syncing, stunning wiggery, "songs", bitch-fits and laughter are guaranteed. This hilarious, self-penned almost-solo show also features Steven Wishnoff on the piano.

Hot Sweet & Sticky will play The Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, in the basement of the West Bank Cafe) May 19 & 20 at 7pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Sam be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My very first memory is of watching Mary Poppins in the theatre (IN RE-RELEASE!) at about two years old. My mother said they thought I'd fall asleep but I was standing up in my seat, riveted the whole time. That movie and Dame Julie first got me hooked, and later I was very inspired by so many of the funny ladies that came into their own in the 1970's: Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Eileen Brennan, Stockard Channing and of course, Laverne and Shirley!

2. What made now the right time to make your NYC debut with Sam Pancake: Hot Sweet & Sticky? It was all very serendipitous: I've been wanting to do a show there for years, and Chip Duckett, Spin Cycle's co-founder, was able to get me a weekend in May, which is when I always take a theatre trip to NYC anyway -- but this year I'll not just be viewing, I'll be performing. EEK!

3. In Hot Sweet & Sticky you portray three different show-biz strivers: "Helluva Bottom Carter," a vivacious southern drag queen with an agenda; "Dame Peggy Wooten-Heifen-Smythe," a tipsy, aging Grande Dame of the British stage and screen; and "Fritzie Zimmer," the self-proclaimed "world's oldest-living openly-gay stand-up comedian/chorus boy." How did you come up with each of these characters? What part of you does each one represent? "Helluva" came out of me this way: Since the early '90's, I've always been friends and colleagues with so many drag queens, and I've done drag and played a lot of ladies in many shows; not just in sketches and videos, but also as "Blair" in Facts of Life and "Sophia" in The Golden Girls in the LA live-stage versions of those sitcoms. As drag gets even bigger, thanks to RuPaul's Drag Race, I thought, "Ya know, I'm an actor - I can do that too! If I was just going to be a lip-syncing "beauty" drag queen, who would she be?" And that's how "Helluva" was born last year. She represents the sweet, sassy, put-upon, but bossy Southern boy in me.

"Dame Peggy" came out of my general Anglophilia and obsession with Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Judy Parfitt, Edith Evans, Joan Greenwood and other legendary British stage and screen icons. In 2014 I was doing a play-reading in a Noel Coward festival and I somehow couldn't NOT do the character as Maggie Smith. I thought -- "I gotta do something with this lady!" and "Dame Peggy" then sprang from my heated loins!

"Fritzie" I first did in a skit with my sketch group Margot's Bush in 2001. Then he was an old hoofer/showboy/entertainer/slut who had retired from showbiz to become the world's most inappropriate therapist. I dredged him back up for this show because I realized he had a LOT more to say. He's now the world's oldest living openly-gay stand-up comedian and performer, doing his own "one"-man show (accompanied on piano by his ex-husband "Giacomo," played by Steven Wishnoff). "Fritzie" is the old bitter yet hilarious show-biz queen in ME, I'm afraid, who LOVES being on stage and performing his guts out, but also feels like he's never gotten his due because he was born too soon, so he kinda has a love/hate relationship with his audience. (but I ONLY LOVE my audience!)

Top Row (left to right): Drew Droege, Jackie Beat, Bottom Row (left to right): Sam Pancake and Sherry Vine in "The Golden Girls" at The Cavern Club Celebrity Theater4. Let's play with Hot Sweet & Sticky for a moment. When have you been "Hot, Sweet, & Sticky" all at one time prior to this show? Oooooo honey -- ya know I'll never tell that one! I will say that, because of my unusual surname, I have gotten a few sexual offers in my day that involve butter and/or syrup. I'm not kidding.

5. The description of the show continues on with this trio of divas, severe costume changes, stellar lip-syncing, stunning wiggery, "songs", bitch-fits and laughter are guaranteed. So we are going to break some of this down. Between "Helluva Bottom Carter," "Dame Peggy Wooten-Heifen-Smythe," and "Fritzie Zimmer," who is the bigger diva? The biggest diva is definitely "Fritzie!!" He's the angriest by far.

Sam Pancake, Photo Credit: Darrin Noble6. What is the one song you kill every time you lip-sync it? "Wheels of A Dream" from Ragtime, the Brian Stokes-Mitchell and Audra McDonald version. I tear it up (I like to think!) and it tears me up every time -- I end up on my knees sobbing.

7. What has been your biggest bitch-fit? When have you laughed your hardest? I don't have bitch-fits professionally speaking, really, unless it's on-set in a work situation where I see other people getting treated unfairly or harmfully. I'm a much better bitch on behalf of others than myself. Personally though, I'M A NIGHTMARE.

8. I can't interview you and not talk about you Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. For seven seasons you tried, waited, tried again, and waited some more to be on the first Gilmore Girls series. That never happened. Almost 10 years go by and then it happens, you find out that not only you are going to be on Gilmore Girls: A  Year In The Life, What went through your head when you found out you were going to not only be part of Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, but the role of "Donald" was written explicitly for you? Well, it really wasn't that dramatic of a reveal. An appropriate role never came up during those seven years, which was fine -- "that's showbiz, kid" -- and I was plenty busy doing other shows. When talk of the revival started, I knew that Lauren had planted the seed with Amy of me perhaps playing a part, and as negotiations bubbled along, it gradually became clear it would be a reality. The fun discovery came at the table-reads, learning along with most of the other actors what fun stuff we'd get to play. And when I saw I would be in all the Stars Hollow musical scenes with Sutton Foster and Christian Borle (not to mention Carole King and Sally Struthers) my tiny mind exploded.

Sam Pancake at premiere of "Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life"9. What do you relate to most about "Donald"? What is one characteristic of his you are glad you don't possess? Other than him looking just like me, I don't think "Donald" and I have a whole lot in common! Lets see: we both enjoyed the musical (for different reasons) so I related to that. He enjoys kayaking, I do enjoy canoeing...but we definitely have very different tastes in clothing. You'll never catch me in pastels outside of wardrobe.

10. How did it feel to be the only gay in Stars Hollow? EMPOWERING! I do hope "Donald" has a husband or partner in the next one, though. I don't want him to be lonely.

11. 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 stay in my spiritual practice and meditate every day, and I exercise in some capacity (hike, gym, walk) nearly every day. That's what keeps me on track, along with gratitude, gratitude and more gratitude.

Sam Pancake, Photo Credit: Matt GorrekMore on Sam:

Sam Pancake is an American actor best known for his lead roles on Lovespring International and Kitchen Confidential, as well as recurring roles on Gilmore Girls, Will & Grace, Arrested Development and Curb Your Enthusiasm. He has also made memorable appearances on a number of popular television shows including The Mick, Transparent, Wings, Friends, The King of Queens, Fat Actress, Parenthood, Major Crimes, Cougar Town, and Charmed. His film credits include, Legally Blonde 2, A Holiday Engagement, Ready? OK!, Straight-Jacket, Girls Will Be Girls (with Coco Peru and Varla Jean Merman) and Jackie Beat's Scream, Teen, Scream.