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Entries in Broadway (378)

Monday
Oct232017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Akron Watson, Photo Credit: Jeremy PopeMore on Akron:

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

Sunday
Oct222017

Call Answered: Conference Call: Matt Doyle & Ali Ewoldt: The New York Pops tribute to Skitch Henderson

Steven Reineke, Matt Doyle, and Ali EwoldtMatt Doyle + Ali Ewoldt + Steven Reineke and The New York Pops = One Rockin' interview!

Matt and Ali will be making their Carnegie Hall debuts alongside The New York Pops conducted by the illustrious Steven Reineke as they open The Pops' 35th Season with That’s Entertainment: From Skitch to Steven, a concert celebrating The New York Pops' founder Skitch Henderson. The concert will take place on Friday, October 27 at 8pm at Carnegie Hall (57th Street & 7th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on The New York Pops be sure to visit http://www.newyorkpops.org and follow them on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter!

Ali Ewoldt1. This October, you are helping The New York Pops kick off their 35th Season with a tribute to the orchestra’s founder, Skitch Henderson. What are you both looking forward to in being part of this evening?

Ali Ewoldt: Everything! I am so thrilled to get to perform with The New York Pops for the first time and at Carnegie Hall, no less. It feels like a major professional accomplishment. And I couldn't ask for a better partner than the incredible Matt Doyle.

Matt Doyle: I mean, where do I start? Singing at Carnegie Hall is an absolute dream come true for me. The program they have put together to honor Skitch is really special. The man had quite a remarkable life and career. It gave us a wealth of material to choose from. The selections are incredible. I never imagined I'd sing any of these songs in this capacity.

Matt Doyle in "Sweeney Todd", Photo Credit: Joan Marcus2. What has been the best part about working with the New York Pops' current conductor Steven Reineke in preparation for this concert?

Ali Ewoldt: Steven is a brilliant musician with impeccable taste. We've only had one quick piano/vocal rehearsal with him so far and he's already helped me discover exciting new layers to songs I've been singing for years.

Matt Doyle: His passion and energy. He so clearly loves what he does and loves the pieces he brings to such vibrant life with The New York Pops. It's an honor.

3. Can you tell us what songs you'll be singing? If so, how did you decide on them? Were there any songs you wanted to sing, but due to the programming of the evening, they ended up on the cutting room floor?

Ali Ewoldt: I don't want to reveal too much of our actual song list, but it was the result of a great brainstorming session between all of us. Some songs are from roles I've played in the past (and am currently playing...hint, hint) and many are from dream roles of mine. I feel so fortunate to be singing some of the best soprano songs ever written for Broadway.

Matt Doyle: We can mention a couple incredible duets we're doing. We will be singing "The Balcony Scene" from West Side Story and "One Second" and a "Million Miles" from Bridges of Madison County. First off, I have heard about Ali's "Maria" for years. Getting to sing from that masterful score again is exciting enough, but to get to perform it with Ali is a real thrill. Her voice is simply phenomenal. As far as "One Second" and "A Million Miles" goes, I was over the moon when I saw the selection. The first time I heard that song, I couldn't believe what a remarkable piece it was. I never imagined I would sing it at Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops. It gives me goose bumps. The entire program they chose for us is perfect.

Steven Reineke and The New York Pops4. It's not often that you get to perform with a 78-piece band. Of the songs you are performing, which one are you most excited to hear backed by the New York Pops?

Ali Ewoldt: I am so excited to sing the West Side Story "Balcony Scene" with Matt and the 78 (!!) piece band. I have been lucky to have played "Maria" many times and think the West Side Story orchestrations are the best of the best-- I cannot wait to hear The New York Pops perform them!

Matt Doyle: "The Balcony Scene" from West Side Story. Without a doubt. I had the pleasure of singing it with 20+ pieces at Paper Mill Playhouse last summer. I'm really going to have to hold back the tears when 78 pieces start playing that music.

5. Since this concert is celebrating Skitch Henderson's 100th birthday, if you were celebrating your 100th birthday, what kind of celebration would you want to have?

Ali Ewoldt: Ha! Definitely listening to The New York Pops play incredible music. What could be better?!

Matt Doyle: Oh man, I'm not sure...but, I hope it would involve dogs. I'm actually serious about that. If I'm gone by then, people should be playing with puppies in my honor. If I'm still alive, then I hope I'm an adorable old man surrounded by a bunch of puppies on my birthday. Because, that's hilarious.

Ali EwoldtMore on Ali:

Ali Ewoldt is currently starring as "Christine" in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Her other credits include: Lincoln Center’s Broadway revival of The King and I, the first Broadway revival and National Tour of Les Misérables (Cosette), The Fantasticks Off-Broadway (Luisa), West Side Story (Broadway 1st National Tour, PCLO, The MUNY, MTWichita: Maria), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (The MUNY), The King and I (Lyric Opera of Chicago: Tuptim), Carnival (Musicals Tonight: Lili), A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre: Fan), The Secret Garden (FITC: Rose) and concerts at Alice Tully Hall, The Town Hall, and Feinstein's/54 Below. TV and film credits include The Michael J. Fox ShowYield (Leviathan Lab), and DRAMA (webseries). Ali received a BA in Psychology from Yale University. www.aliewoldt.com

Matt DoyleMore on Matt:

Matt Doyle’s Broadway credits include The Book of Mormon (Elder Price), War Horse (Billy Narracott), Spring Awakening (Hanschen), and Bye Bye Birdie (Hugo Peabody). National tour credits include Spring Awakening (Melchior). Off-Broadway credits include Sweeney Todd (Anthony), Brooklynite (Trey) and Jasper in Deadland (Jasper). Regional credits include West Side Story at ‪Paper Mill Playhouse (Tony), Jasper in Deadland at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle (Jasper), and Giant at Dallas Theater Center (Jordy Jr). Film and TV credits include a recurring role on Gossip Girl (Jonathan) and ‪Private Romeo (Glenn). Recordings include Bare (Peter). Matt's solo EPs, Daylight and Constant (co-written by Will Van Dyke), are available on iTunes. Matt is currently appearing in the Off-Broadway production of A Clockwork Orange at New World Stages.

Steven ReinekeMore on Steven Reineke:

Steven Reineke is the Music Director of The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, Principal Pops Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Principal Pops Conductor of the Houston Symphony and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Reineke is a frequent guest conductor with The Philadelphia Orchestra and has been on the podium with the Boston Pops, The Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. His extensive North American conducting appearances include Seattle, Edmonton and Pittsburgh. As the creator of more than one hundred orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the composer of symphonic and wind ensemble compositions, Mr. Reineke’s work has been performed worldwide.

The New York PopsMore on The New York Pops:

The New York Pops the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States, and the only professional symphonic orchestra in New York City specializing in popular music. Under the leadership of dynamic Music Director and Conductor Steven Reineke, The New York Pops continues to re-imagine orchestral pops music. The orchestra performs an annual subscription series and birthday gala at Carnegie Hall and a summer series at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY. The New York Pops is dedicated to lifelong learning, and collaborates with public schools, community organizations, children’s hospitals and senior centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City. PopsEd allows thousands of New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds to participate in fully customizable music programs that blend traditional education with pure fun. Follow The New York Pops on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Friday
Oct132017

Call Answered: Michael Mott: Abandoned Heart

Michael Mott, Photo Credit: Michael Kushner PhotographyWhen I saw the list artists singing on Michael Mott's new album Abandoned Heart, I knew I had to take a listen. What I heard were songs filled with raw emotion in regards to love & relationships. From finding love to losing love, Michael has a voice all his own. And he's found a group of performers, including Brian Justin Crum, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Natalie Weiss, Shayna Steele, & Jenna Ushkowitz, who really knew how to help bring these songs to life!

Abandoned Heart is available now on iTunes and Broadway Records along with his new single "More Than Me," which benefits Puerto Rico.

For more on Michael be sure to visit http://www.michaelmott.net and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & YouTube!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a composer/lyricist? Honestly, the piano. I dreaded playing the rudimentary exercises my piano teacher required of me, so I'd go off and make up my own compositions. I've always written ever since I was a little kid, but didn't really explore this talent seriously until I applied to the BMI Musical Theatre Writer's Workshop in 2012 in NYC. Going through that program gave me the confidence and skill set to pursue writing full time.

2. You just released your new CD Abandoned Heart, a variety of feel good pop, anthemic soul and introspective ballads. How do you feel you struck "Gold" with this album? Haha. Well, as corny as this sounds, I truly wrote all of these songs from the heart. Over the past few years I've found my artistic voice as a songwriter and these songs are written from a place of truth. While this is stylistically very different from my first album, Where The Sky EndsAbandoned Heart explores the type of music I truly love creating and am inspired by as a fan of music.

3. You have stated that this album helped you find your own individual voice and point of view as a writer and singer. How do you feel this album did that? Not to discredit my first album, but I feel like I was trying very hard to say "Look! I can write in any style or genre!" with that record. I was trying to appeal to a more high brow audience and show everything I could do, which almost made that record feel like a sampler platter. Abandoned Heart is a much more cohesive album. It has a true beginning, middle and end. I honed in on the styles and genres that speak to me as a fan first and foremost and then wrote from my heart and soul.

4. Since the album is called Abandoned Heart, when have you abandoned your heart? This can get pretty deep, pretty quickly. Let's just say working on this album taught me A LOT about myself. Haha. When I was going through the process of naming this project I was listening to these songs over and over again and beginning to analyze lyrics. I don't know why I write what I write, I just write! When I was trying to dissect every phrase, I realized  that every song was written from a place of yearning or longing. Each song on this record deals with a heart crying for acceptance. Hence, Abandoned Heart.

5. Which songs were the easiest to write? Which ones gave you the most trouble? I wrote "Gold" in a matter of 15-20 minutes sitting in the park. "My Favorite Color" also came to me pretty quickly. It's funny because the rest of these songs are like the fourth or fifth versions of these songs. "So Relentless," "Minefield of Love" and "Breathless" all had completely different choruses. It was after I had demo'd them and listened back that I realized what I wanted to do to evolve them into what they are now. I would actually love to do a concert or workshop or something and show the earliest versions of these songs. It's very interesting to see just how different they were in their first draft stages. "Minefield of Love" was originally called "Ask Me To Stay" and had this interesting country/rock vibe. "Breathless" was called "My Man" and had a totally different hook. Listening back on those earlier versions now, they're extremely inferior to the current versions. Thankfully I had the common sense to know I could do better, haha. It's very important for artists to give themselves the time and space to allow the material to grow and evolve. You can not undermine the creative process.

Michael Mott6. How do you prepare for a day of writing? What is your writing process like? Do you say today I'm going to write my emotional songs and then I will tackle my more upbeat songs or vice versa? How do you decompress writing songs? I wish I knew. I've found that when I sit down with the intention to write is when I usually come up with the worst material that makes me feel like the most untalented human being on earth. It's funny because once I allow myself to be in this place, suddenly the flood gates open and I am receptive to inspiration; my subconscious opens and melodies, lyrical phrases and ideas start coming to me in the most inopportune times (see: showering, working out, walking to the park, etc).

7. Your song "Complicated" is about someone holding on to a relationship that seems to be ending. When you write a song like this, if it's based upon your own experience, how far out from this relationship were you when writing it? What do you feel as you write it? Freedom or the anger/frustration of the situation? This song is based on a relationship I was in last fall. I was head over heels for this guy, but he was scared of commitment. We fell for each other and then he pulled away. It's very therapeutic to be able to sit down at the piano and allow the music to do all of the work for me. That song encapsulates exactly how I felt in that relationship and Eric LaJuan Summers' vocal performance is exquisite. I couldn't ask for a better vocalist. He's such a star.

Michael Mott at the "Abandoned Heart" release concert8. I love the different styles of music on your album. How did you know they would all blend together so well? Thank you, I appreciate that. I honestly don't think about it. I just knew I was writing from a place of truth and wanted to write with a more fresh, contemporary pop sound and that was that. It also helped that I worked with one music producer on the entire album, so we were able to hone in on a certain tone that was all encompassing on the entire record. Rich Matthew produced and made everything sound like a million bucks.

9. Another song on the album is "My Favorite Color." So, what's your favorite color? I enjoy a dark blue or black. Let's go with black as the black heart emoji has been part of the branding experience of this new album.

10. If you had the opportunity to write songs for five of your favorite artists, who would you want to write for? Well, I have been lucky enough to have worked with most of my favorite artists from the Broadway and television worlds, including everyone on this album and my first album. That is something I do not take for granted at all! However, it would be an absolute dream come true to write with Mariah Carey, Billy Joel, Sia, John Mayer and P!nk. I love collaborating because I learn so much from the writers and artists I'm working with. You can not get any better than those legends and it would be a dream come true to be able to work with them in any capacity.

Michael Mott, Photo Credit: Cristin DownsMore on Michael:

Michael Mott  is a composer, lyricist, singer, actor and voice teacher living in NYC. Born and raised in New Hartford, New York, Michael graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Musical Theatre Performance. After graduating, he moved to New York City and enjoyed a successful career performing in numerous Off-Broadway, regional and national touring shows. In 2012 he decided to shift his focus to writing and was accepted into the prestigious BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writer’s Workshop. He has since been named one of Playbill's "Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know."

Michael's debut album, Where The Sky Ends, is a compilation album of his original theatre, jazz and pop music performed by some of the best singers on Broadway, co-produced by Mott and legendary orchestrator/ producer, Kim Scharnberg. The LP has been referred to as "a masterpiece" by Broadway World and was released by Grammy Award Winning label, Broadway Records on June 17, 2014. Due to popular demand, Where The Sky Ends: The Dance Remixes was released by the same label on October 14, 2014 and spawned the popular dance track, "Gone" (Julian Marsh Ethereal Mix). In 2016 he composed a Christmas single for Broadway star, Laura Osnes, co-produced by Mott, Scharnberg and Jeremy Roberts. "Christmas, Will You Stay?" was released digitally on his own label, Motta Music, on December 6, 2016.

Michael has had the great fortune of working with some of the best singers in the business both in the recording studio and on stage in his touring show, Michael Mott & Friends. His collaborations include TONY Award Nominees Jeremy Jordan, Laura Osnes, Jennifer Damiano, Orfeh, Sierra Boggess, Zachary Levi, Jenna Ushkowitz, Andy Mientus, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Adrienne Warren, Justin Guarini, Brian Justin Crum, Shayna Steele, James Snyder, Jackie Burns, Mitch Jarvis, Michael Lanning, Marissa McGowan, Crystal Monee Hall, Loren Allred, Natalie Weiss, Teal Wicks, Jason Gotay, Ryan Silverman and countless others. As composer/ lyricist, Michael’s original musicals include In The Light (book by Nathan Wright and Justin Silvestri), The Don (book by Corey Skaggs) and Lucifer (co-lyricist, Mike Squillante, book by Corey Skaggs). He co-conceived and composed music to the original ten minute musical, Riding Out The Storm, written with lyricist and librettist, Christine Toy Johnson. Additionally, he has written and recorded several stand alone pop/ R&B/ top 40 songs.

Tuesday
Sep192017

Call Answered: Kathleen Turner: "Finding My Voice," cabaret debut at PTC, "Serial Mom" & "The Graduate"

Kathleen Turner, Photo Credit: Deborah LopezI feel eternally grateful for being given the opportunity to interview the one and only Kathleen Turner, Academy Award nominee, Golden Globe winner & two-time Tony nominee, about her upcoming cabaret debut, entitled Finding My Voice, at Philadelphia Theatre Company. I grew up watching Kathleen Turner light up the big screen and as an adult, I got to see her on the Broadway stage. Peggy Sue Got MarriedSerial Mom, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Jewel of the Nile, and The Graduate on Broadway are just a few of my favorite Kathleen Turner projects.

Getting to talk with Kathleen about this special project was a true honor! She is so passionate about making her cabaret debut. The road to getting here was an interesting one. I loved hearing how one lunch meeting and a play lead to Kathleen fully embracing her desire to sing and the real reason why she waited so long to do it. It also fascinated me to learn why she is making her cabaret debut at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. But, my favorite part of this interview was learning who she would "Serial Mom" and who she would like to seduce, just like her character "Mrs. Robinson" did in The Graduate on Broadway.

Finding My Voice brings Kathleen's trademark husky voice to the American songbook, performing classic songs, interwoven with personal anecdotes, with her band, led by Mark Janas. Finding My Voice will play on Monday, September 25, for one night only, at Philadelphia Theatre Company at 7pm & 9pm! (480 S. Broad Street, Broad & Lombard Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146). Click here for tickets!

1. This September you are making your cabaret debut at Philadelphia Theatre Company with your show Finding My Voice. What made you want to venture into the cabaret world? How long has this been in the works for...from your first thought of, "I want to do a cabaret show" to inception? Molly Smith, who is the artistic director at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, asked me to do Mother Courage and Her Children in 2014, which is a play with songs as opposed to a full fledged musical. The character "Mother Courage" sings five songs, so I thought, I’d like to give it a try. The reason I never sang professionally, prior to Mother Courage, was because when I started in the business 40 years ago, any woman my age was a Soprano, which clearly, was not going to be me. So at the beginning of my career, I told people, "No I don’t sing, I just act" and that became true.

So I worked on my singing to get those songs to a place where I would be confident performing them before I started rehearsals. If you know Mother Courage and Her Children, they called it Lear2 because it’s a huge text, so I felt, if I got the songs out of the way before I get down there, it’d be of good for everyone. The production was thrilling, absolutely amazing. I loved doing it, I loved my singing, so, when I got back to New York, in between jobs, I contacted Andy Gale and Mark Janas, and said, I want to keep working with you guys and just see what I can do. Then I went away to do Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and upon my return, I called Andy & Mark and said I want to get serious about signing, set a real schedule, and see what happens. So all three of us started bringing in songs that we loved or thought would fit my vocal range and we discussed some stories that reflected parts of my life and from there things started to fall into place. Then one of us said, "Let’s make this a cabaret" and I said, "Ok!" So, I sat down and really started to write the body/patter of the night, linked them up to the songs and it turned into Finding My Voice.

Kathleen Turner2. What made you want to make your cabaret debut at Philadelphia Theatre Company? I'm making my debut at PTC because I created the play Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins there. They’ve always been very supportive and good to work with. The new artistic director Paige Price is just terrific. Paige & I were throwing our heads together to find a way to generate more income ourselves because you know whatever budget comes out of Washington, G-d help us, it will cut the arts. So we thought of a template to allow us to have cabaret shows on the theatre’s stage. We are sort of going to close the curtains to the house and put tables on the stage. We have a great designer who is going to hang practical chandeliers to create a ceiling and room atmosphere and we have the best sound guy in the business, Nevin Steinberg, who happens to be married to Paige (thank you very much), to figure out how to work the sound in the cinderblock world.

If we can really make this template work, why wouldn’t it work for other regional houses around the country who have dark nights during the run of a show and like PTC, have a subscription based audience.

3. What excites you most about making your cabaret debut? I’m really very proud of myself because this is something that I created and I’m getting better and better as a singer and I love it!

Some of the show is about my career and the excitement of it and being away and what that costs you and some it is about how your life changes and how you have to adjust to those unexpected moments. It’s kind of like an arc of my life, but with songs that make sense to me about it.

4. What has it been like to prepare for this evening? How is it similar to your preparation of an acting role? As you can imagine after all these years in the business, I have pretty good control of my voice, period. It wasn’t that big of a leap to use it in another way, but it is different. There’s a lot you can do with the rhythm and melody line that creates emotion or thought in cabaret that you don’t have in scripts. It’s almost like floating a boat. I’m not real sure how to describe it. I think it takes me more out of myself.

5. What was the first song you knew, hands down, you just had to sing? I was down in Washington DC doing my usual marching or testifying & Molly Smith asked me if I wanted to have lunch with her. I said, "Yeah, great." As we are driving around in her Volkswagen, and I tell this story in the show, she asks me if I can sing. I said, "Yeah, I can sing." So she asks me to sing something. I said, "What? Now? Right here in the car?" She said, "Why not?" I thought to myself, you know the song I always loved to sing is "Since I Fell For You," and so I sang that and afterwards, Molly says, "You can sing" and that is when she offered me the part in Mother Courage. But I’ll tell you, the song sounds a lot better with a band though [laughs].

6. I love the title of your show, Finding My Voice. What do you feel you found with cabaret that you were not finding in acting/directing? There's many ways to use your voice. I don’t think there is only one avenue, one method. But cabaret is a new way to use my voice. At least new to me. One of the things that was most pleasing to me was I had an invited dress about a week ago at Don’t Tell Mama’s in NYC and somebody said to me, "I really liked this. It’s not just like going to a cabaret and hearing somebody sing songs. It’s more like coming to a night of theatre." That was very exciting for me to hear because this is a show I put together.

Kathleen Turner, Photo Credit: REX/SHUTTERSTOCK7. Are there plans already to bring this show to NYC or will you wait until after the show to figure out next steps? I already agreed to book Michael Feinstein’s club in San Francisco, Feinstein's at the Nikko, and at first, I said, "Wait a minute, I haven’t even done this yet," and Michael said, "Well, if you’re doing it, it's going to be great" and I was like "Well, thank you for the vote of confidence." So, yeah, I’m booked there in October and then I’m getting all kinds of calls from different venues around NYC, so I think we’ll be bringing it to the city. I don’t want this to run away with me, but it’s kind of ideal because, now that I know I love doing it, if I do a film or a play, I can book this show around it. It gives me a freedom within a longer-term project which is really kind of cool.

8. I have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now" where I like to clear up any misconceptions out there. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourself that you'd like to clear the air about? Oh honey, I’m not going to criticize myself in public. Give me a break! I mean there are plenty of people to find fault with me, let them do it.

Kathleen Turner as "Mrs. Robinson" in "The Graduate" on Broadway9. I also have a section called 1% better, where through my own fitness regime, I try to inspire people to improve their lives by 1% better everyday. What is something in your life you'd like to improve by 1% better everyday? Doing service in the organizations I volunteer for: City Meals, Planned Parenthood, and People for the American Way. I give as much as I can, given the availability of my time. It’s so rewarding & enriches my life. I tell people all the time that you don’t know how much this gives you until you start doing it. I’m always trying to do a little more of that. 

10. Two of my favorite projects of yours are Serial Mom & The Graduate on Broadway. So my two questions are, if you could Serial Mom anybody, who would you run down (my favorite way you offed someone in the movie.)? [Huge Laugh] Oh, well, why not be honest, I usually am, Mike Pence. I don’t worry about Trump as much as I worry about him.

11. In The Graduate on Broadway, you played "Mrs. Robinson," who seduced Jason Biggs' character "Benjamin Braddock," Kathleen Turner interjects, "At age 48 might I add." If you could seduce anyone today, who would you choose? That’s a good one. It’s not my style usually to seduce, but I just met Nathan Fillion, from Castle, in Toronto. He was a sweetheart! I’ll take him.

Kathleen TurnerMore on Kathleen:

American film, television and stage actress, Kathleen Turner is known for her trademark husky voice. She starred on Broadway in High, Indiscretions; The Graduate; and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, for which she received Tony nominations for Best Actress. On screen, she garnered critical acclaim for her performances in Body Heat, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe; Romancing The Stone and Prizzi's Honor, each of which earned her a Golden Globe Award; Peggy Sue Got Married, which brought both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations; and War of the Roses, for another Golden Globe nomination.

On television, Kathleen guest starred on the hit NBC sitcom Friends as "Chandler Bing’s" cross dressing father and as a sex crazed owner of a talent agency on Showtime’s Californication. As a voice actress, Kathleen performed the role of "Jessica Rabbit" in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and on the television series The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

Recently, Kathleen has turned her attention to directing with such productions as Would You Still Love Me If… at New World Stages, The Killing of Sister George at Long Wharf Theatre, and Crimes of the Heart at both Roundabout Theatre and Williamstown Theatre Festival. In addition, Kathleen released her 2008 autobiography Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on my Life, Love, and Leading Roles, which secured a position on the New York Times Best-Seller List.

Friday
Sep082017

Call Answered: Lisa Loeb: "Lullaby Girl", "Stay", & Broadway dreams

Lisa Loeb"So, I, turned the radio on and I turned the radio up" and 23 years later, I'm still listening to Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb. "Truthfully" it was a dream come true to interview Lisa about her upcoming family album Lullaby Girl. I have always found Lisa's songs and lyrics to be inquisitive, sophisticated, and right on the money when I needed a song to get me through the rough times, but also to celebrate the good times!

Lullaby Girl, out October 6, is a new Amazon Original family music album available for streaming exclusively through Amazon Music Unlimited and Prime Music, as well as for digital download or physical purchase through Amazon Music. Lullaby Girl offers fresh and dreamy arrangements of 13 classic songs from a variety of genres with a world-class quartet led by keyboardist Larry Goldings. Originally planned as a traditional lullaby record for children, Loeb and her collaborators found a uniquely different path during the recording process and realized this would be an album for kids and adults alike.

Lullaby Girl features such familiar songs as "Be My Baby" (The Ronettes), "All the Pretty Little Horses," "Dream a Little Dream," "What the World Needs Now Is Love," "O-o-h Child," "In My Room" (Brian Wilson), and "Tomorrow" from Broadway's Annie as well as Lisa’s original songs, "Close Your Eyes" and "Lullaby Girl." 

Lullaby Girl will be available October 6 and can be pre-ordered here!

For more on Lisa be sure to visit https://www.lisaloeb.com and follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube!

Lisa Loeb1. Who or what inspired you to be a singer/songwriter? No one really inspired me. I always had music around me. I also had access to choosing my own music, whether it was picking out a record I wanted to hear or radio station I wanted to listen to, so there was a lot of involvement in music. I also enjoyed doing musical theatre as a kid and learning the popular songs of the time. Like a lot of my constituents, I took piano lessons when I was six or seven years old and started writing music back then. So, music has always been a part of me.

Me: Since you mentioned musical theatre, I hope one day on your plan is to come to Broadway and do a show.

Lisa Loeb: I would love it. We are always talking about it and figuring out if there’s an opportunity there and trying to make it happen because that would be very exciting. It would be like a dream come true. On my newest record, Lullaby Girl, coming out October 6, I recorded "Tomorrow" from Annie. It was so much fun to record. I just love to sing and dance. It'd be great to be in a musical.

2. This October you are releasing your new family album Lullaby Girl, a collection of classic songs from a variety of genres. What do you like about recording children's music or making music that can be shared by children & adults alike? It’s funny, this record is the least kind of kid's record we made. In fact, somebody was asking us, when we were figuring out how to promote the record, what were the focus tracks for kids? That is almost impossible to figure out because there was really no kids and grown-ups in it. It was just songs I loved growing up and a few originals too. I think traditionally for my kids records we write or choose songs that have a different element about them than my grown-up songs. For children, they are not always about relationships, in that traditional romantic relationship way, they are more about experiences. There’s a more colorful vivid element to the lyrics and I think I tend to do a little more experimenting with music styles. With this newest record, we were working with standards and I think when I was a kid, kids were just expected to live in the grown-up world, not in a bad way, but just there was a little bit more sophistication, humor and silliness, but not in a kid-centered way, the music still appealed to kids and I think that’s what I continue to try to do and feel that is what’s happening with my music.

3. Before we get to this new album, let's go back to 2003 when you released your first children's album. At that time, what made you want to move into children's music? I think it was inspired by my love for kid’s things. I’m really sentimental. While I listened to a lot of adult music like The Mamas and the Papas, Led Zeplin, classical music, and musical theatre, there were a handful of children’s records that really spoke to me like Marlo Thomas' Free To Be You and Me and Carole Kings' Really Rosie.

Making children's music was more about capturing my childhood and sharing that than performing for kids. I think grown-ups who have a connection to their own childhood might connect to it better. That music is timeless. After I made Catch The Moon, my first kid’s record, I moved into doing an album of summer camp songs, but it again it was more about me sharing my experience and reminiscing.

Lisa Loeb4. I am loving your renditions of "Be My Baby" and "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" on Lullaby Girl. What was the biggest challenge in stripping down these songs from their original version and turning them into more acoustic/lullaby songs? Well, it was less about stripping down and more about reinterpreting these songs. We were specifically trying to do a lullaby record so we had to find tones in the instruments that set the mood for the different phases of sleep. With the songs that were most familiar like Fleetwood Mac’s "Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," we really had to do something different to give that rhythmic feel. We wanted versions that were interesting. Each song was interpreted in a different way, but tried to be true to the original arrangement of the song. Other songs we tried to interpret directly because we felt that represented the song best, like "Dream A Little Dream." As we looked at the big picture of all the different songs we were doing, we were trying to approach them at different angles so the audience can go to different places, but still be in that world of lullaby.

5. Your original songs "Lullaby Girl" & "Close Your Eyes" are terrific. They fit so well in this album. Did you write them first and then centered the other songs & sound around them or was it the other way around? We wrote "Close Your Eyes" while were in the middle of choosing songs for the record. We weren’t sure how many covers & how many original songs were going to be there, so we started choosing the songs and what they might sound like and then in the middle of that process, my collaborates, Larry, Rich, & I wrote "Close Your Eyes." We did want something that would fit instrumentally with the group of musicians we knew would be playing with us. Then we were about to write another song, but I remembered writing some other lullabies, so I looked back in my catalog and saw I had a couple of songs and I found "Lullaby Girl," which is a little more modern than some of the other songs on the record, but I feel like with the placement after "All The Pretty Little Horses," it picks up on that singer-songwriter feel.

"Lullaby Girl" was a song I wrote with my friend Cliff. We were visiting Nashville and it was my first day there and it was very late at night, so I called to wish my daughter "Good Night" and after I hung up the phone, Cliff & I were like, "Well, we’re in Nashville, so we should write a song." So we decided to write a song inspired by that moment of me calling my daughter, which became "Lullaby Girl."

6. This past May, "Stay" celebrated its 23rd anniversary! Looking back over your career and life these past 23 years, and since "Stay" was on the Reality Bites soundtrack, when was there a time, you said to yourself, "Reality Bites!, like it just really stinks"? I definitely think there are challenges in the direction the music industry is going for musicians. For listeners it’s awesome, we can get any song we want, anytime, with all these different apps we have. I mean, my mom used to have to drive me to some weird part of town to find albums and songs, and now we just push a button. For musicians it's tough because a lot of income goes away. It’s not what we expected. When you’ve been doing this for a long time, you think you’ll get royalties, but when listeners can get everything for free, the checks aren’t coming in. It makes it hard to do the job if it’s not paying for itself. I think most industries are taking a hit that way, you know budgets are down all over the place. The most stressful part is when you love what you are doing and you know there is an audience out there, but you still have to think about how is this a business and the way in which it works. I think any artists or entrepreneur will always need to be concerned with the business side of things, but I just feel the break point has changed especially since it’s such a do-it-yourself kind of world. I’ve always been hands-on and love connecting with fans, but the balance has shifted a lot. We need a little bit more time to create our art and less time to create social network strategies.

7. In your song, "The Way It Really Is," you sing "Maybe what if it could be the way I wish it really was. Maybe I don't want to see it the way it really is." What is something that you did you want to see "The Way It Really Is"? I think it’s mostly relationship situations. I’ve been in relationships where I ignore the immediate signs of what is not working. It’s said that when you break up with somebody, the reason you break up is the reason you knew in the beginning it wasn’t going to work out. It’s ignoring those blatant signs and then you look back and go, "Ugh, I knew that was the reason it wasn't going to work."

8. If you could invite 4 people to have "Cake & Pie" with, you would you invite and what kind of "Cake & Pie" would you have? That’s such a hard question. I’m never good at narrowing down people. Elton John would be really fun. Patton Oswalt the comedian would be great too. If it were non-famous people, I would choose my husband and my three best friends. I would serve yellow cake with a light coating of chocolate frosting and sprinkles as well as cherry pie from Earth Café.

9. This next question is in sort of in line with the work you do for Muddy Puddle Project, which reminds kids and adults to always try to enjoy life, take small moments and not put them off until later. If this was your last day on earth, what would you want to do that you haven't done yet? I wouldn’t say I haven’t done this, but I would love to go the Caribbean and put my feet in the gorgeously warm turquoise water and that beautiful white sand.

10. I have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now" where I like to clear up any misconceptions out there. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourself? People think I’m kind of quiet and timid. I think that comes from the fact I’m a small person and was so emotional in my video for "Stay." But, I’m not. I’m an outspoken business person who’s not so quiet.

11. I also have a section on my website called "One Percent Better" where, through my own fitness commitment, I try to inspire people to improve their lives by one percent better everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by 1% better everyday? That’s cool. Sleeping. It’s always on my mind and I do think to make it better everyday. I’d like to sleep more and sleep better.

12. What is a quirk about yourself that your friends make fun of you for? When I was kid I used to get made fun of for my love of David Bowie. I would always get so excited about his music and anytime I would tell my friends “Guys, you have to listen to this song by David Bowie, it’s called "The Bewlay Brothers" or other tracks from the Hunky Dory record, they’d always make fun of me for it.

Lisa Loeb, Photo Credit: Juan PatinoMore on Lisa:

Grammy nominated Lisa Loeb is a singer-songwriter, producer, touring artist, author and philanthropist who started her career with the platinum-selling Number 1 hit song "Stay (I Missed You)" from the film Reality Bites. A trailblazing independent artist, Lisa was the first pop musician to have a Number 1 single while not signed to a recording contract. She followed that remarkable feat with the hit singles "Do You Sleep," "I Do," and "Let's Forget about It" and the albums Cake and Pie and No Fairy Tale, among others.

Lisa continues to craft irresistible pop songs for the 21st century, while designing Lisa Loeb Eyewear, writing children's books, and supporting non-profit causes. The Los Angeles based mother of two is well-known to parents and kids for her albums Catch the Moon (with Elizabeth Mitchell) and Amazon Music exclusives, Nursery Rhyme Parade! and Feel What U Feel (featuring Craig Robinson and Ed Helms). She has also published two picture book-CDs for Sterling Children’s Books: Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin' and Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing Along.

In addition to these family albums, Lisa's Camp Lisa raises funds for The Camp Lisa Foundation to allow kids, who wouldn't normally have the opportunity, to go to summer camp, and in 2015, the American Camp Association, New England named Lisa Loeb as their Camp Champions Honoree.

Lisa's recent film and television appearances include Netflix’s Sandy Wexler, TV Land’s Teachers, Amazon’s Creative Galaxy, @Midnight with Chris Hardwick, Last week Tonight with John OliverAbout a Boy, and Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Lisa is currently touring around the United States and Canada, releasing new styles of her signature eyewear through Lisa Loeb Eyewear, and will soon be releasing music videos to coincide with her Amazon Music family record, Feel What U Feel.