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Entries in Broadway (364)

Tuesday
Jun132017

Call Redialed: Lane Bradbury: "Let Me Entertain You, Again" at Don't Tell Mama

Lane Bradbury, Photo Credit: Angelique HannahThey say the third time's a charm and that couldn't be more true. I have interviewed Lane Bradbury, Broadway's original "Dainty June" in Gypsy twice before about her upcoming one-woman show Let Me Entertain You, Again, but this time around, we really got deep into the heart of this show, Lane's struggles, her freedoms, and most of all, the backstage drama of Lane's time working with Ethel Merman & Jerome Robbins in Broadway's original production Gypsy!

Written by Doug DeVita and directed by Elkin Antoniou, Let Me Entertain You, Again is a highly personal tour of how Lane Bradbury went from being an Atlanta Debutante to a performer on "The Great White Way" during the Golden Age of Broadway. Songs include "Gee, But It's Good To Be Here," "Corner Of The Sky," and "Another Hundred People," among others, as well as four songs from Gypsy: "Broadway," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "If Momma Was Married," and, of course, "Let Me Entertain You."

Let Me Entertain You, Again played it's first return engagement on June 6 and will now play it's second performance Thursday, June 29 at 7pm at Don't Tell Mama in NYC (343 West 46th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Lane be sure to visit http://lanebradbury.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

1. This June you are bringing back your one-woman show, Let Me Entertain You, Again to NYC, but this time you are performing it at Don't Tell Mama. What made now the right time to return with this show? I got an amazing manager by the name of Stephen Hanks and this was the first thing we did together, so that's why now.

2. Why did you want to do this run at Don't Tell Mama? It's a classic place. I love the intimacy of the venue. I mean "Don't Tell Mama," the title alone just sounds so enticing and it adds a little bit of sweet wickedness to that name. And I've seen other cabaret shows there, so I just felt the venue was perfect for me.

Me: Also since you created the role of "Dainty June" in Broadway's Gypsy and you had "Mama" in that show, "Mama Rose," maybe there's a little tie in there with "Don't Tell Mama." 

Lane: You just put that together, [laughs], but "Mama" sure does stand out.

Lane Bradbury in "Let Me Entertain You, Again" at Don't Tell Mama 2017, Photo Credit: Stephen Hanks3. What do you hope to gain from this return engagement that you did not get from your previous mountings of this show? I would like to keep the momentum going and get more engagements of Let Me Entertain You, Again because it's so much fun to do.

Me: Well, it's a lot of fun to watch.

4. This is the third production of Let Me Entertain You, Again that I will be coming to see. Where do you hope this show will take you/your career? I would love to do another Broadway musical. That would just be the perfect icing on the cake. I would love to do a play too, but prefer a musical because I love music. 

5. Which part of the show, Let Me Entertain You, Again, is the hardest for you to perform? Which part is the most fun? There is no hard part, just fun. I talk about this in the show, but I came back to this show with a lot of fear, so much so that it paralyzed me. I would get sooo furious when I got something wrong, but after working with my daughter Elkin Antoniou and her husband film director Bobby Garabedian, they really got me me to loosen up and absolutely fall into freedom and joy and let the mistakes become okay. I've known this from acting, sometimes the best moments are the times when you make a mistake and then something real takes over. You go into your unconscious and something wonderful comes out. That's just a great thing to know and to try to live by. Elkin and Bobby really showed me that.

Lane Bradbury in "Let Me Entertain You, Again" at Don't Tell Mama 2017, Photo Credit: Stephen Hanks6. In our very first interview back in 2009, I asked you "What was your worst experience in a show?" At that time, you had said "Working with Jerome Robbins in Gypsy was your worst experience." If Gypsy were being mounted today with you, Ethel Merman, and Jerome Robbins as director and choreographer, how do you think Lane Bradbury of today would handle those big personalities as opposed to Lane Bradbury of yesterday? I hope, with Jerry, from the experiences I've had and the years I've got under my belt would help me not become so paralyzed by his personality and that I would say something like "You know you want a good performance from me. I want a good performance too. The best way to get that is to be positive with me and encourage me, rather than put me down because, now, I have to rise above all your negativity and that's just really hard to do. So you are making your job and my job harder."

With Merman, I don't know how you communicate with somebody who doesn't communicate. Unless, in the interim, she had grown some or exerpienced something in life that would have changed her, I would probably do the same that I did back then, just do the best performance I could do and pretend I was working with someone else, rather than actually working with her. That's one of the things we learn to do in method acting, if the character or the other actor in the scene doesn't work for you in the way they should, then you think they are someone else so it doesn't hang you up. It makes it real for you.

Me: That says so much about the struggle you went through at the time and it's great to hear how much stronger you are now and rise above it all.

Lane: I sure hope so. As artists there is something very delicate and exposed about us and that needs to be protected. That was something Jerome Robbins, I don't think really understood, although he went to the studio, so he was taught that, but a lot of people that know the method seem to have something about their personality where they just can't be as positive as we would like them to be. As artists we have to adjust the best we can and somehow be able to use whatever they are giving us to be better and not let ourselves go down into that negative place where there is no getting back from.

Me: Well, I think you would be able to do it.

Lane: I think I would too. [Laughs]. But I'm looking back over the road at how difficult that was.

Me: Sure and at the time you were just a teenager.

Lane: I was 17. Until that time, I had never come across that negativity. My ballet teacher was an angel and the most positive being in my life. Then when I did Ondine, they just encouraged everything I did, so when I got with Jerry Robbins, it was such a shocker, just something out of the blue.

Me: Especially after coming from such a positive reinforcement with your ballet teacher to go to his negativity, I'm sure it was quite a shock.

Lane: It was. Truly, truly, truly.

Lane Bradbury in "Let Me Entertain You, Again" at Don't Tell Mama 2017, Photo Credit: Stephen Hanks7. With your dream of coming back to Broadway, if you could be put into any show currently running on Broadway or coming next season, which show or shows would you like to be part of? I don't get into Manhattan a lot to go to the theatre, but I'd love to play "Diana" in a revival of Next To Normal (even though I'm probably too old for the part, I could pull it off). That would be the pennacle role for me.

Me: I think you could pull it off. I remember in one of our previous interviews you mentioned wanting to work with Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey and how you'd love them to write you a musical about "Diana" after she gets out of treament. So, let's put this out there again for that to happen.

Lane: Yes, lets. And the other show I'm really really right for would be Pippin. While I was doing Let Me Entertain You, Again in LA, someone said to me, "Lane, you should play 'Madame Rose'" in Gypsy. I thought, I could do that, even though I feel my size would work a little bit against me, my voice would work for me. I wish I knew more of the current season, but I'm hoping Let Me Entertain You, Again, will put me in a better position to see more shows.

8. 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 would still love to drop away the negativity that comes into your mind when something doesn't go right and replace it with the magic and wonder that is positive. I know to do that, but it's so easy for the little dark thoughts to invade us, but the quicker we can get over those, shed them and put something positive in there, the better off we are. It's a habbit we need to do.

Me: You have to consciously work at it, to put the postive in your mind and not let the negative take over.

Lane: Right.

Lane Bradbury, Photo Credit: Angelique HannahMore on Lane:

Lane Bradbury created the role of "Dainty June" in Broadway's Gypsy starring Ethel Merman. Her other stage credits include J.B., The Night of the Iguana, and Marathon '33. Her film credits include Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Hawaii, The Barony, and Consenting Adults, and her TV work includes In the Heat of the Night, Kung Fu, The Rockford Files, The Partridge Family, The Waltons, and The Mod Squad.

Thursday
Jun082017

Call Redialed: EXCLUSIVE NEW "Orange is the New Black" Facetime Interview with Annie Golden "Norma Romano" 

Annie Golden as "Norma Romano" on Netflix's "Orange is the New Black"Live from The Algonquin Hotel, "Call Me Adam" sits down for an all NEW EXCLUSIVE interview with Orange is the New Black's Annie Golden ("Norma Romano," the mute)!

We talk about everything Orange is the New Black! From what made Annie want to be part of the show to what she thinks "Norma's" first speaking words would be to acting with her senses! It's an insider's dream come true!

Orange is the New Black Season 5 drops 6/9 on Netflix!

If you missed my theatrical interview with Annie Golden, you can watch it here!

"Call Me Adam's" EXCLUSIVE NEW Orange is the New Black Facetime interview with Annie Golden ("Norma Romano"):

Watch Orange is the New Black Season 5 Trailer here:

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.

Thursday
May112017

Call Answered: Haley Swindal: "Golden Girl" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Lance RaeI'm so glad Will Nunziata introduced me to Broadway powerhouse Haley Swindal. Her vocals are unreal and I can already tell she's going to blow the roof off of Feinstein's/54 Below when she returns with her new show Golden Girl.

Golden Girl is a brand-new concert event celebrating the music of an era that her heart and soul were born in – The Golden Age. With influences ranging from Rosemary Clooney to Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, Haley puts her own stamp on songs that made these great dames stars. Haley will knock-out-of-the-park standards such as "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Don’t Rain on My Parade," and "Cry Me A River," all with fresh arrangements by musical director to the stars Tedd Firth (Michael Feinstein, Ana Gasteyer, Brian Stokes Mitchell). Conceived and directed by Will Nunziata (concert director for Tony Award winner Lillias White), this is an evening that will have you laughing, crying, and tapping your feet all within a matter of minutes, and a true showbiz event where a brand-new star is born.

Golden Girl plays Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Tuesday, May 30 at 7pm and Tuesday, June 6 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets! 

For more on Haley be sure to follow her on Twitter!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below be sure to visit http://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Takako Suki Harkness1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer (other than Rosemary Clooney, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand)? Singing was always in me. From the time I could walk, I was singing down the halls and driving my parents crazy. It was never a choice for me - it was in my blood, which is very funny because no one else in my immediate family is in the arts at all! I used to stand at the top of the stairs in our house and pretend to be "Eva Peron." My brother thought I was nuts (he still does). When I was about eight years old, I remember my mom took me to see a production of Hello Dolly with Carol Channing, and I remember thinking, WOW, I want to do that!

2. This May/June you return to Feinstein's/54 Below with your brand-new show Golden Girl, celebrating the music of an era that her heart and soul were born in – The Golden Age. What are you looking forward to about coming back to Feinstein's/54 Below? I always said I only want to come back with these shows when I have something to add, something to share, a story to tell. The two times I have played here have marked major events in my life: my Broadway debut for the first one, and getting married the second one. Those first shows were similar, but were both kind of about where I came from and what its taught me.

This show is something entirely different. First of all, not only have I done a lot more great roles, I have more importantly lived a lot more of life. I am married to an amazing guy, and I'm a stepmom to two awesome teenagers. I also have a new boss, who is eleven months old, my amazing daughter - Lily George Tantleff.

This show is really a concert meets one-woman show. I do everything from singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" as Judy, Liza, Patti, Billie Burke, and Bernadette Peters to stripping down to the bottom of my soul with some amazing torch songs.

I am thrilled to be back because this is a whole new side of me, a whole new journey, and I hope one that might surprise and excite people.

Director Will Nunziata3. Golden Girl is directed by Will Nunziata. Will, primarily known as a singer with his brother Anthony Nunziata, has been making quite a name for himself as a director over the past several years. What was it about Will's style/vision that made you say, "He is whom I want to direct my show."? Will has been on my radar for a very long time. We first met in Michael Feinstein's apartment about four years ago, where Michael had a bunch of young folks over to talk about the future of the Great American Songbook and how the torch would be passed to our generation.

I followed him as he created amazing shows for Cady Huffman, Lillias White, and other incredible divas. It was Will that came up with the vision for this show. His concepts and his ideas are brilliant. The way he is able to bring out things in me and get me to burst out of my comfort zone is unreal. He gravitates I think towards strong women - women who can't really be put in any particular kind of stereotypical, run of the mill box. He takes their strength and what makes them unique and turns it into something brilliant. His concepts, his vision, and his ability to communicate, nurture, and bring out the best in those he directs is incredible. He is and will continue to be one of the greatest directors of our generation.

Haley Swindal4. What is about this time in music that makes your heart a flutter? I often sit around and wonder, what will our generation be listening to when they are eighty? The generation ahead of us has the Beatles, Carole King, Carly Simon. When we were younger, we had Whitney, Celine. But will this generation be turning on Britney Spears? Eminem? Single Ladies? 

What I love about the Great American Songbook is so many songs are literally transcendent of time. How many of us have been madly in love and connected to the lyrics of "Night and Day," "Whether near to me or far, it's no matter darling where you, are I think of you." How many of us have been heartbroken and can relate to Frank Sinatra alone in a bar at 3AM singing "One for My Baby," "It's quarter to three, There's no one in the place 'cept you and me, So set 'em' up Joe."

I fell in love with my husband when he sang, "I only have eyes for you" badly (but endearingly) in my ear. These songs are masterpieces that capture the complexity of love and what it is to be human. As I grow older, I connect with them even more.

5. According to press notes, Rosemary Clooney, Judy Garland, and Barbra Streisand were some of your influences. What was it about these entertainers that made you go, "Yes! I want to be like them."? Judy Garland always said "Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else." What I think I loved - and continue to love - about these women besides their other-wordly vocals is that they were/are originals. They were unabashedly and unapologetically themselves. Their sound was distinctive, the way they approached their art was distinctive, and what they have given us is something no one else can ever come to close to because it is so uniquely them.

Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, Cady Huffman, and Bernadette Peters are some of these women on the Broadway stage. 

The women I admire can transform themselves into incredible roles onstage, but, as human beings, they are unapologetically strong, which isn't always easy as a woman in this business. Onstage, they can be heartbreakingly vulnerable. It's an amazing duality, to be strong and vulnerable at the same time, and one that I admire. I think, so much of this business is how we fit. Fit someone else's vision, fit someone else's vocal styles, even fit someone else's costume. These women somehow transcend that. As for me, I guess I've just grown tired of trying to fit into a box. I'm a brassy blonde broad who has packed a lot of life into my first thirty years. That's my truth.

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff6. What songs that you are performing do you think will surprise people to hear from you? There's one where I'm lying on a piano....

7. A few songs you will be performing are "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Don’t Rain on My Parade," and "Cry Me A River." Let's play with these song titles. When have you said to yourself, "Come Rain or Come Shine," I'm going to do this? HA! For better or for worse, all the time! "Come Rain or Come Shine," I guess probably in my love life in the past. Wanting so desperately to be loved, perhaps by someone incapable of loving...but trying to convince them.

"Cry Me a River" is realizing I'm going to be okay whether or not this person loves me. That the only person I need to live and be fulfilled is me.

"Don't Rain On My Parade" is a celebration of what it means to spill out everything you have, no matter what the cost might be, because you don't want to spend the rest of your life wondering "what if?" To me, this applies to choosing to creae solo shows, and challenging myself, and also following my heart in other ways.

8. When did you think, oh please, "Don't Rain on My Parade"? HA that was Will. I was thrilled. At first, I thought, really? But, then I realized why not, it's my truth? It's part of a medley, which I think has a really neat arc.

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: The New York Times9. What event has caused you to cry like a river? I think the sadness of that song is realizing that sometimes love is not enough. The tragedy of still being madly in love with someone but the strength to put your well-being first and not allow that person to destroy you. I was there once. It took a long while, but I figured it out, and my life is richer for it. And I can sing one hell of a torch song!

10. Since this show is celebrating The Golden Age, what, age or age bracket has been your "Golden Age" so far? Why has it been so rich? Oh my goodness, NOW! I am just entering my thirties, young enough to still know what's fun, and old enough to know better. Just kidding! Undoubtedly though, meeting and marrying my husband and becoming a mother changed everything for me. I remember leaving my first Broadway performance and crying when I got home because I had been so tunnel-visioned that I had no one to share it with. Any part of my life other than work was completely absent. That changed. My daughter is the most amazing thing that ever happened to me and has put everything else in perspective. If I don't get anything else right in this life, I somehow built a perfect little human, and, to me, that alone is enough! 

11. I know the show's title, "Golden Girl," is for the Golden Age of music, but we are going to take this to the Golden Girls themselves. If you had to describe yourself as one of the Golden Girls who would you be? I'm still obsessed with that show! My best friend and I used to spend all weekend watching Golden Girls marathons (she's "Sophia" re-incarnated!) As for me, I look at the world through "Rose"-colored glasses for sure, but I definitely am flirty and fun like "Blanche."

Haley Swindal, Photo Credit: Takako Suki HarknessMore on Haley:

Haley has appeared on Broadway and on tour with Jekyll and HydeWhite ChristmasJesus Christ Superstar opposite Ted Neeley, and at Lincoln Center in The Secret Garden. She has performed in concert at Carnegie Hall alongside the great standards vocalist Steve Tyrell, acclaimed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, and under the baton of Steven Reineke with the New York Pops. She won a New York Emmy for her appearance on Kids on Deck and recently appeared in the film Walt Before Mickey.

Thursday
Apr202017

Call Answered: Caesar Samayoa: "Come From Away"

Caesar SamayoaThere are certain dates that will forever be embedded in everyone's mind: One of those dates is September 11, 2001, the day the Twin Towers were struck. 

Now, there is a new Broadway musical, Come From Away, about the 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that put their lives on hold and opened their homes to this world of strangers. On 9/11, the world stopped. On 9/12, their stories moved us all.

Caesar Samayoa is one of the actors who gets to share these stories eight times a week. Out of tragedy comes unity. And through this interview, Caesar reinforces how Broadway comes together to uplift during difficult times. It's hard to find the good when there is so much evil out there, but Caesar and the rest of the cast of Come From Away have found a way to share the love that took place in Newfoundland.

Come From Away plays the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre (236 West 45th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Come From Away and tickets visit http://www.comefromaway.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Caesar be sure to visit http://www.caesarsamayoa.com and follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I really owe it all to one of my teachers way back in grammar school, Mrs. Reynolds. I’m a first generation American and theatre was not really a part of our lives. My parents were extremely hard workers trying to get their family settled in a new country. My teacher approached a neighbor who had a child in an acting program and said she should bring me to it one day. And that was it. That was 5th grade and I was involved in the arts ever since. For some reason though it never occurred to me that I could do it professionally. I was in college majoring in International Relations when I happened to come to NYC and saw Anna Deavere Smith in Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. Her performance shook me to the core. Multiple characters and each one completely transformational with such simplicity. A story that was so human and so relevant. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. The lights came up and I absolutely knew that I had to do THAT with my life. I transferred into a conservatory acting program and have been performing ever since. So thank you Mrs. Reynolds and Anna Deavere Smith!

2. What made you want to audition for Come From Away? What went through your head when you found out you booked the show? All my agent had told me was I have a script for you about a musical dealing with the week following 9/11. I’m a New Yorker - I was here during 9/11 and know people that were lost that day. I couldn't fathom what this was, and to be honest, was very trepidatious about even reading it. I never say no without reading so I sat down in my living room and from the first page I could NOT put it down. Even in that first version - the story, the characters, the heart - it was overwhelming. It was extremely moving and then there was the whole premise of playing multiple characters. I called my agent and said "I don’t know what I have to do to be a part of this but please get me an audition!"

My auditions and callbacks spanned about three months and when I finally got the call that I booked it I couldn't believe it. It’s exactly the kind of work I love to do. And there was no talk of Broadway, no talk about anything other than a developmental run at La Jolla at that point. I was going to be working with this dream team, telling such an important human story. I felt like I had hit the jackpot - and to be honest, I did!

3. Of the characters you play, what do you identify most with about them? I relate so strongly to "Kevin J." He’s one of the few characters that struggles with his time in Gander. And I get it. Like I said, I’m a New Yorker and had that been me stranded in Gander; YES I would have deeply appreciated what that community had done, but all my thoughts would be with my family back in NYC. I would try to do anything I could to get back home. And I also tend to be the guy that blurts out jokes in tense situations so there's that too.

There’s a gentle kindness about "Ali" that I love. I think of my Dad when I’m playing him. My Dad always chose kindness first, even when he was looked at as an outsider. And we were for a big part of my childhood. It’s hard to imagine it now, but when we moved into our neighborhoods growing up we were always the first Latino family moving in. We were outsiders and experienced everything that came along with that. I identify so strongly with that part of "Ali’s" storyline.

Cast of "Come From Away"4. What do audiences tell you at the stage door after seeing this show? Our stage door interactions have just been incredible. The conversations are different with this show. It’ not so much about how good you or the show are, but about thanking us for just telling this story. It’s so humbling. Two stories stick out:

I remember this one young woman approached me and told me she was Muslim and never realized how much her parents lives changed after 9/11. Her parents always made her feel that being pulled out of security lines was just normal growing up. She promised to bring her parents back to the show and she did. Her father said "Thank you for telling this story. We see ourselves in your show and we so rarely do."

I’ll never forget this one night though. This woman stopped me and said "This is my second time seeing this show and I would like to give this to you." She handed me what looked like a card. She had worked in 1 World Trade Center and survived that day. One of the fortunate people that got out. It was her ID from 1 World Trade Center. She said "I finally have a different story of that day in my head. Thank you."

These are the kinds of interactions that are happening. They are so beautiful.

5. In rehearsing for this show or during the run of the show so far, what has gone through your mind as you play out this real-life story? Every time I take a step back to really look at what’s happening I get overwhelmed. I am so deeply grateful to be chosen to tell this story. I feel a great responsibility to every person that we are playing. To honor them and to do them proud. For me, doing the concert in Gander was the most important part of our two year journey to Broadway. We did a concert version of this show for 5000 people, IN the actual town the show takes place. The real people that we play were there. To experience the pride this community had of having their story told. I’ll never forget it.

"Come From Away"6. Because Come From Away is about events that took place on 9/11, is there something special the cast does together either before or after each performance? What is so beautiful about this cast is that our two year journey with this extraordinary show has made us into a solid family. We couldn't be more different than each other, yet there is a connection between us that I don’t think I’ll experience again. This show is so much about community that we simply take a good amount of time to connect with each other before the show. We’re usually at the theatre early and just spend time with each other. This kind of connection translates onstage. There is a flag from Gander that flew over the Town Hall that is now hanging Stage Left and we all get to see it before the show. A reminder of the real people that we are honoring and the real stories we are sharing. Also, half the cast starts the show on Stage Left and the other Stage Right. Each side has a special tradition that they do to kick off each show. But that’s secret. :)

7. How do you prepare yourself each night to tell this moving story? We are ALL IN with this show. So my days are focused around being ready for the performance. I take my health and fitness very seriously in order to do this. I’m very careful about what I eat and I workout regularly, especially boxing. My part of the dressing room is filled with things that remind me of our journey and of the people that are part of this show. The real life people, the audiences we have met along the way, the experiences we’ve had. I take about five minutes to myself to focus and right before I step onstage I say a little Thank You. It’s different every night but my Dad is always part of it. He would have loved this show and he would have especially loved the characters I play in it. I always thank him right before I step out on stage.

Caesar Samayoa rehearsing for "Come From Away"8. On Come From Away's website's it states "On September 11, 2001 the world stopped. On September 12, their stories moved us all." What is a story, not necessarily about 9/11, that has moved/changed you? Last night I left the stage door and a woman approached me and said "I’m 73 years old and I have never waited by the stage door. I need to thank you and your cast for telling this story. We need to be reminded these days that people are good and all we want to do is help each other out." She gave me a hug that I will not forget and walked away.

9. You say as an actor, you never know when the next gig is coming and it’s always a surprise. What is something that you love about this lifestyle, but at the same time you hate it, but the positive outweighs the negative? The uncertainty. I remember hearing Meryll Streep say on Inside the Actors Studio- “As an actor - I’m always wondering what the next job will be."  And it’s true!! And this was Meryll Streep of all people!! The uncertainty can make you crazy if you let it. But then there's the flip-side. This is one of the few careers where your life can literally change over night. You’re feeling like all those years of hard work and jobs and momentum aren't getting you anywhere, and all of a sudden - Boom!, you are in one of the most amazing experiences of your life. Like Come From Away. Come From Away is absolutely one of the most amazing experiences of my life and it came out of nowhere.

10. I read that you live to inspire life, love, excitement, power and creativity. Well, I too live to inspire. 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? Kindness. Living in NYC can be overwhelming. Just walking down the sidewalk. Thousands of people that refuse to look at each other. But have you noticed what happens when you just take a second to smile at someone? And if you take another extra moment to be kind in some way. To acknowledge someone or to help a stranger. You can physically feel the effect kindness has.  It completely changes the energy. And other people notice it too. I try to simply be a kinder person. And it has a beautiful ripple effect. Be 1% kinder in your daily life and watch how your life can change.

Caesar SamayoaMore on Caesar:

Broadway: Sister Act, The Pee Wee Herman Show. Select Off-Broadway: Love's Labour's Lost (Delacorte Theater), Shakespeare's R&J, Bernstein's Mass (Carnegie Hall). Credits include leading roles in Film, TV, Off-Broadway and Regional Theatre Companies including The Public Theatre, Yale Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, Goodspeed Musicals, and Tectonic Theater Project. Caesar has also appeared as a soloist at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center and various national and international concert tours. BFA, Ithaca College.