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Entries in Director (48)

Friday
Jul142017

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with "Conversations in L.A." Emmy nominees Anne Marie Cummings & Gustavo Velasquez

Gustavo Velasquez & Ann Marie CummingsLive from The Algonquin Hotel in the heart of NYC's theatre district, "Call Me Adam" chats with Emmy nominees Anne Marie Cummings & Gustavo Velasquez about the Digital Daytime Drama Series Conversations in L.A.

Conversations in L.A. tells the story of "Michelle," a 40-something menopausal woman finding herself falling for "Gus," a hot 20-something millennial. This series defies boundaries, from the way it's filmed to how it's executed. It's a show about love, relationships, growing-up, finding yourself, menopause, & mid-life crises.

Written and directed by Anne Marie, Conversations in L.A. has earned three Emmy nominations: Lead Actress (Anne Marie Cummings), Lead Actor (Gustavo Velasquez, in his acting debut), and Supporting Actress (Vanita Harbour).

For more on Conversations in L.A. and to watch Season One visit http://conversationsinla.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on The Algonquin Hotel visit http://www.algonquinhotel.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

"Call Me Adam" video interview with Anne Marie Cummings & Gustavo Velasquez:

Wednesday
Jun072017

Call Answered: Robbie Rozelle: "Songs From Inside My Locker" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Robbie RozelleFor many people, high school sucks. It was some of the worst years of my life from the teasing to my head being hit into a metal poll in the gym locker room, I couldn't wait to get out of dodge. The best part about adulthood is looking back to see how far you've come and for Robbie Rozelle, he has come a long way! He has directed & written or co-written sold-out shows for Tony nominees Kate Baldwin (Finian's Rainbow) & Melissa Errico (Amour), Elena Shaddow (The Visit), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Women on the Verge), RuPaul's Drag Race season 7 contestant Mrs. Kasha Davis and frequent collaborator Jessica Vosk ("Elephaba" on the Wicked tour), and this September 9, Robbie will be directing my comedic cabaret debut called Dates of Discontent at The Laurie Beechman Theatre!

But before that happens, Robbie will be making his solo cabaret debut with Songs From Inside My Locker this Friday, June 9 at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street) at 9:30pm! Wandering his high school hallways, Robbie would often find himself shoved in a locker for singing from The Rink too loudly. With his signature wit and style, Robbie grabs the tiger by the tail in a hilarious romp of the songs that got him through a blistering high school experience, featuring a treasure trove of songs ranging from Kander & Ebb to Carrie. Songs From Inside My Locker is the balm to the chaos of these crazy times. Click here for tickets!

For more on Robbie be sure to visit https://www.robbierozelle.com and follow him @divarobbie on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Robbie Rozelle, Photo Credit: Dianna Bush Photography1. This June you are making your debut solo show at Feinstein's/54 Below with Songs From Inside My Locker. After directing shows for Jessica Vosk, Melissa Errico, Kate Baldwin and Nikka Graff Lanzarone, what made now the right time to make your solo debut? It seems that the shows I wrote/co-wrote for them (in addition to directing) all had my fingerprints on them, specifically the jokes. After this past election, I just decided that I wasn’t going to let anything scare me, including getting up in front of a crowded room of 150 people, who have all paid a great deal to get in, and sing 15 songs.

2. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Honestly, it was seeing all those movie musicals – The Wizard of Oz had a profound effect on me. I miss those yearly airings where you gathered with your family around the TV for an event. I guess the closest things to that now are the live musicals like The Wiz and Grease. And with social media, the family has grown rather large.

3. Your musical direction is by Josh D. Smith. As a director/writer yourself, do you find it difficult to let someone else direct your own show? Do you ever try to give your "director" input? I’ve known Josh for over 20 years. He’s just so wonderful. He’s also taken my rudimentary ideas and made them real things – that’s really great since I don’t read music. I wrote and directed the thing myself, but his input is invaluable. Wait until you hear his incredible arrangements!

4. This show is called Songs From Inside My Locker. What songs would we find in high school Robbie's locker and what songs would we find in adult Robbie of today? High school was a weird time for me – I sang a lot of hybrids of movie musicals (The Sound of MusicFunny GirlThe Wizard of Oz) and the popular musicals of the time were Phantom of the Opera and Les Miz. The first two cassette tapes I ever bought were Dionne Warwick’s Greatest Hits (1972-1990), because "That’s What Friends Are For" was the first song, and the Beaches soundtrack, for the obvious reasons.

Nowadays, I listen to mostly show tunes (both for my job and because I love them), a lot of Ella Fitzgerald, and a lot of acoustic pop like Jason Mraz. Shout-out to whoever created the "Acoustic Covers" and "Your Favorite Coffeehouse" playlists on Spotify, because that gets a lot of love in my house.

Robbie Rozelle, Photo Credit: Dianna Bush Photography5. You describe Songs From Inside My Locker as being the balm to the chaos of wandering your high school hallways, and finding yourself often shoved in a locker for singing from The Rink too loudly. Let's see how well you did in math...If there are 4 years in high school, 180 days in the school year, 5 days in the week, and 8 hours in the day, how many times do you think you were shoved in a locker during your high school years? I…was terrible in math. Legitimately terrible. Also, I had three lockers (my main one, my choir one, and gym), so suffice it to say, I was in one more than I was in a classroom.

6. Why did you want this show about this particular time in your life, be your debut show? I really loathe the cabaret trope of "I moved to NYC to become an actress, and had my heart broken," so I needed to find a hook for it. I think the answer became clearer when I realized that the high school bully was in the highest office in the land. So I just want to have a joy explosion all over Feinstein’s/54 Below of all the songs I was bullied for singing, with people paying a lot of money for the privilege.

7. Being so far (you're welcome for hinting at your age) out of high school, what was it like to go back to this time in your life now? Did old emotions come up? What did you learn about yourself from writing this show that you didi not know about yourself going through this rough time? Looking at that time of my life through the prism of time, it’s a bit weird. I was looking at some old photos, and there I am in overalls with one strap hanging, and bad mushroom haircuts, and thinking "man, I was so skinny!" I’ve always had the gift of bounce and laughter, so while things really sucked in high school, I’m able to laugh at most of it. Weirdly, since this show was announced, a lot of my high school peeps (some I don’t even remember) have reached out – some to apologize for their high school behavior, some to congratulate me about the show, some to say they would be there. I was openly gay in high school, in a pre-Ellen, pre-Will & Grace era, so I realize that my visibility was really important. That knowledge has had a profound impact on me.

Robbie Rozelle8. While writing this show, what part made you cry? What part made laugh? What part made you go, "I'm so much stronger now"? My first day of high school, four seniors grabbed me, wrapped me in the mat that was in front of the main doors, and dropped me next to the dumpster. I was all of maybe 130 pounds. That was terrifying, but it also told me that I better pull myself up by my bootstraps, because it wasn’t going to be amazing all the time. But I also gravitated to a group of senior girls, who took me under their wing and took care of me. Those ladies made sure that I wasn’t thoroughly terrorized. They were probably my first audience, people who would laugh at my jokes, and became my tribe. I have no doubt in my mind that I would not be alive but for those strong women and the musical theatre. So, that’s the dark. But with dark stuff, there’s light, right? Someone asked me what I would tell 16 year old me, and I gotta say, I’d tell him to do exactly the same thing. I’m just fine. I’m doing things I love with people I love, and I can’t think of honestly anything better (except maybe a woman President).

9. Besides this hilarious romp through high school, what other romps have these songs you are presenting accompanied you through? Literally every thing in my life. They were my playlist to accompany my life from start to finish. We have a Charles Nelson Reilly/Paul Lynde medley in the show, because those guys were my heroes – quippy funny men who weren’t ashamed of who they were.

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? I’d love to give up carbonated beverages and biting my nails. I don’t know how to do that by one percent daily, but that’s the goal! (Told you I was terrible at math!)

Robbie Rozelle, Photo Credit: Kate Lumpkin More on Robbie:

Robbie Rozelle does jokes. He has also directed and written or co-written sold-out cabaret shows for Tony Award nominee Melissa Errico (Amour), Tony nominee Kate Baldwin (Finian's Rainbow), Elena Shaddow (The Visit), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Women on the Verge), Steven Ferezy, Jonathan Demar, Rachel Levy, RuPaul's Drag Race season 7 contestant Mrs. Kasha Davis and frequent collaborator Jessica Vosk ("Elephaba" on the Wicked tour).

As a former actor who once played "Charlie Brown" and "Dr. Frank 'n' Furter" in the same year, Robbie is the recipient of the NEPTA award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his tongue-twisting turn as "Trevor Grayden" in Thoroughly Modern Millie. He has also appeared in Sondheimas at 54 Below and several shows at The Duplex. He co-produced the album Cynthia Erivo and Oliver Tompsett Sing Scott Alan [Deluxe Edition], executive produced Astoria Boulevard's debut album and was an associate producer of Jonathan Reid Gealt's Whatever I Want It To Be. Robbie is a Grammy voting member. For three years, Robbie served as the graphic designer and creative director for Playbill, culminating in the design he is most proud of, the branding of #PlaybillPride, a 30-day initiative of the LGBT movement in the theatre that included a redesign of their historic logo for the month of June 2014. Playbill Pride returned for a second year in 2015, where Robbie art directed the magazine. Playbill Pride returned again in 2016, again with Robbie's work. He currently serves as the in-house designer for Grammy-winning record label Broadway Records, where he designed the iconic "What the World Needs Now is Love" in response to Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. He also runs Ghostlight Design. When not designing, he can usually be found tweeting jokes and random musings at @divarobbie.

 

Thursday
Apr272017

Call Answered: Christina Franklin: "New York, New Year: A New Musical," at TADA!

Christina FranklinIn Sunset Boulevard, "Norma Desmond" sings "I've come home at last!" and that is what I loved about Christina Franklin's journey with TADA! Youth Theater. She started out in TADA's! Youth Ensemble and now has come back as the writer and director of their latest production, New York, New Year

New York, New Year tells the story of "Tess" who moves to NYC in the middle of the school year from her hometown of Missouri and wonders how she will fit in. Will she make friends at her new school? Tess has the months of the year to help guide her, but she misses Sarah, her best friend from back home. When she tells 3 NYC kids that she's going to take a bus tour to really get to know NY, they tell her you don't get to know the real NYC through a bus tour, so she asks them to show her things they each love about the city & they become her new friends. Tess thinks that she needs to change herself to be liked, but who does she become? And will she still be friends with Sarah? Can she be the Tess from Missouri with Sarah & the NYC Tess with her new friends? What happens when they all get together for New Year's Eve as a surprise for Tess? Can the “months” save the day?

New York, New Year plays at TADA! Youth Theater (15 West 28th Street) from April 29-May 21. Click here for tickets!

For more on TADA! be sure to visit http://www.tadatheater.com and follow them Facebook and Twitter!

1. This May you are presenting New York, New Year: A New Musical, at TADA!, based upon the original concept by Gary Bagley. What made you want to write the book for this show and direct it? When I was six years old, my older brother Norman, was in the original production of New York, New Year at TADA! I saw the show many times and I loved it. The show takes place over the course of a year and each month is played by an actor. I was very drawn to this concept; it’s so unique and fun. TADA! usually revives show every five-six seasons, but New York New York hasn’t been done since 1999. The script needed more development time. In the summer of 2016, our artistic director Nina Trevens, proposed that I rewrite the book and direct the new production in the next season. I got in touch with the original writers and began rewriting the book. Fast forward 10 months and here we are!

2. One interesting fact I found out is that for 10 years you were a member of the TADA! Youth Ensemble, but while you were a sophomore at Professional Performing Arts School, you found a love for the production aspect of theatre. What was it about the production side that made you go, this is the part of theatre I want to pursue over acting? I discovered that I have a love for creating stories and devising interesting ways to tell those stories. Also, I am admittedly a control freak, so the older I got, the harder it was to let myself be free and vulnerable as an actor.

Janine Nina Trevens (TADA! Artistic Director) and Christina Franklin3. What is it like being back at TADA! after being away from it for a few years? The thing is, I haven’t been away from TADA! very much. Even during my college years, I came back to work on productions when I was on break from school. It’s always great to come home. I particularly love staying in touch with the ensemble and watching them grow and learn.

4.  In New York, New Year, "Tess" moves to NYC in the middle of the school year from her hometown of Missouri and wonders how she will fit in. When did you ever wonder if you would fit in somewhere? I have similar worries and doubts every time I enter a new experience, particularly college. Like "Tess," I was in a new city (Philadelphia), starting a new school year, and feeling very lonely. Fortunately, it was a new beginning for everyone, whereas "Tess" jumps into an environment where everyone is already acclimated, which makes it even harder for her to find her place.

Christina Franklin and Ben Vereen5. "Tess" tells her new friends she's going to get to know NYC via a bus tour, who in turn, tell her, you can't get to know NYC from a bus tour. What have you learned about NYC from living here that you wouldn't have had you taken a bus tour? I think the best things about the city are the non-commercial features. Organized NYC tours tend to hit the standard things the city is already famous for. I value the hole-in-the-wall restaurants, the quaintness of various neighborhoods, and more importantly the character and essence of the city that changes every 10 blocks or so.

6. This show has so many great themes for kids, like how "Tess" feels she needs to change herself to be liked." Have you ever felt like you needed to change to be liked or fit in somewhere? Yes - middle school was particularly tough for me. My new classmates made fun of how I spoke and the way I looked. I was not confident enough to hold my own and stay true to myself so to avoid bullying, I tried to assimilate myself to how they all acted. I was somewhat successful, but 8th grade graduation couldn’t have come soon enough. This was a time that TADA! was vital in my life. Although I had to change myself during the school day, I was able to let go and be free when I got to rehearsal.

Christina Franklin7. Since the show is called New York, New Year. What is something you are going to do or have done in NYC that is new this year? There are always new restaurants to try, so I plan to check some out. Although it isn’t new, I do want to get to the Highline once the weather gets warm again.

8. What are your top five favorite things to do in NYC? I love seeing new shows, walking the Brooklyn Bridge, shopping in the Christmas Villages that pop up in Union Square, Columbus Circle, and Bryant Park, checking out various farmers markets in the spring and fall, and going to free outdoor movie screenings in the summer.

9. After being part of TADA! Youth Ensemble and now being back as a playwright/director, why would you recommend someone to be part of TADA!? I would recommend it because there’s always something to be gained. Nina always says it; an 8 year old can learn from an 18 year old and vice versa. It’s the same thing when working on the production side. I’ve learned so much from the kids in the cast and I hope I’ve been able to teach them some things too!

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? I love this idea! I definitely need to improve my patience skills. New Yorkers are always on the go, thinking about the next thing. When things aren’t swift and efficient, we tend to get agitated. I can definitely stand to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Christina FranklinMore on Christina:

Christina Franklin is a theatre artist, born & raised in NYC & has been a part of the TADA! family since she was four years old. As a member of the TADA! Youth Ensemble for 10 years, she performed in 17 main stage musicals in addition to many workshops & readings. Christina found a love for the production aspect of theatre when she was a sophomore at Professional Performing Arts School. She went on to earn a BFA in Directing, Playwriting & Production from The University of the Arts. During her time at UArts, she stage managed multiple productions, wrote plays, produced student work & directed many projects. Shortly after graduation, she began an internship at The Public Theater, which led to working on multiple projects including The Total Bent & Eclipsed on Broadway. Since becoming a TADA! Alumna, she has worked on many TADA! shows as a stage manager & assistant director. New York, New Year marks Christina’s NYC directorial debut as well as her 26th production with TADA! Youth Theater. 

Thursday
Mar022017

Call Answered: Kerstin Karlhuber "Fair Haven" Film

Kerstin KarlhuberAs much as I love theatre, it's always a thrill when I get a request to interview someone in another medium. I've gotten to interview some great filmmakers over the years and now I get to add rising filmmaker Kerstin Karlhuber to that list. When I read the film was about a young man who returns to his family farm, after a long stay in ex-gay conversion therapy, and is torn between the expectations of his emotionally distant father, and the memories of a past, loving relationship he has tried to bury, I had to talk more with Kerstin.

Fair Haven will be released March 3rd in Los Angeles and VOD/DVD March 7th. 

For more on Fair Haven be sure to visit http://www.fairhavenfilm.com and follow the film on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a filmmaker? I started out as an actress. I grew up performing and was working professionally in musical theater productions by the time I was in middle school. I was majoring in theater in college when I booked a small role in a TV movie and took a week off from school to film it. Most of the time I sat around waiting for my scenes and during the down time I became obsessed with the behind the scenes process. I watched what every crew member's responsibilities were, what each piece of equipment did, and asked a lot of questions. It was that experience that changed the direction of my career. I did a complete 180 and realized I was much more interested in being behind the camera than I was in being in front of it. I finished my studies in theater but added as many production classes as I could. I then went on to get my Masters Degree in Film Production and have never looked back. At this point in my life I have no desire to ever be on camera again!

2. You just completed your first full length feature film, Fair Haven, a tender love story about a rural working class family drama, and a poignant exploration of the lingering effects of "gay conversion therapy" on a young man and the people he loves most. What made you want to tell this story? How long did it take you write Fair Haven, from concept to filming? In college I began writing a screenplay that was a family drama and took place in my native Vermont on an apple farm. I never finished it and put it away for over a decade. Immediately after grad school, where I met screenwriter, Jack Bryant, he came to me with a script he had written about "reparative" or "conversion therapy." It was wonderfully written and I wanted to direct it immediately. In his youth he had personally seen several friends and family members come back from this traumatizing "therapy" and was passionate about highlighting the horrors they endured. But that film was a huge project requiring a large cast and a lot of money. We tried unsuccessfully to get it off the ground for several years, and ultimately decided we needed to focus on something smaller and more attainable for our first feature.

At this point I had learned so much about this "therapy," had interviewed survivors, and had become just as passionate as Jack about making a film that shed light on the issue. That’s when we combined my original screenplay idea taking place in Vermont with this incredibly important and timely topic. Jack went off and wrote Fair Haven rather quickly. When I read his first draft I fell in love with the characters and the dynamics between them. The script got a lot of attention immediately. We had the opposite experience getting Fair Haven off the ground than we had with the previous project. It was around 10 months from writing the screenplay to production. We had a great team on board who were instrumental in pushing it forward.

3. What was the hardest scene to write and what was the easiest/most fun scene to write? I asked our screenwriter Jack this question and he said, "The scene with 'Ruby' in the bar at the end was the hardest to write because so much needs to be said about 'Richard's' past and he needs to think about a lot of things in a short amount of time. The scenes with 'Charlie' were usually more fun to write because he's a lighthearted character, even when 'James' is being miserable or treating him badly."

4. Do you have any fun stories from filming that you could share with us? I just did a director's commentary for the DVD and it brought up a lot of memories! I have a lot of fun stories. The shoot was hard; we shot in 14 days and had a lot of really deep, dramatic themes to cover. But we managed to have fun too. One of the hardest scenes to shoot was the barn scene where "Charlie" and "James" become intimate. It’s sensitive and awkward to shoot those kinds of scenes but it ended up being hysterical. I brought an array of breath sprays and mints with me in case either of the actors wanted to freshen their breath. One of the sprays I had was pink grapefruit flavor. Josh Green, who played "Charlie," being the jokester that he is, decided to overuse the grapefruit spray. He knew that Michael Grant, who played "James," didn’t like grapefruit. After the first take Michael made a face but moved on. A few takes later he finally said, "What IS that!" It had been a long day and Josh and I ended up flat on our backs in the grass outside of the barn laughing uncontrollably. It was half funny and half due to be being incredibly overtired. Poor Michael, I’m not sure he ever knew what Josh had been up to. If you watch our DVD extras, Josh tells that story in his behind the scenes interview.

Michael Grant and Josh Green in "Fair Haven"5. Now that film is complete, what does it feel like to have this story out there to the public? What's it like to hear feedback from people who have seen the film? The reaction has been incredible. I am shocked that almost every day I get an email or a tweet or Facebook message telling me how much the film means to someone. I am truly lucky that I was able to accompany the film to most of our festival screenings around the world! Seeing the reaction during the film makes all of the hard work worth it, and then hearing from people afterwards even more so. I’ve been to screenings where it took me hours to leave the theater because so many people wanted to tell me personally how much this film touched them. Audience members have told me tearful and personal stories about their own struggles and familial relationships. I am just so overwhelmed that this little film I made affects people so deeply. And we haven’t even released it in this country yet! I hope it continues to have the same impact!

6. In Fair Haven, "James" arrives back at his family's farm after being in "gay conversion therapy" and bumps into his ex-boyfriend, prompting old feelings to arise. What went through your head the first time you bumped into an ex unexpectedly? Hide! And I did, but he saw me anyway. An awkward conversation about my upcoming wedding (to my fabulous husband) ensued.

Tom Wopat in "Fair Haven"7. "James" is pressured to give up his music career and take over the family farm. What is something in your life that you were pressured to give up? Did you give it up or did you go after it anyway? I can’t think of anything I was pressured to give up. I’m lucky! My parents were supportive of me majoring in theater, but they did urge me to have a more sensible minor. I didn’t do it! My rationale was that if I had something to fall back on, I’d fall back on it, and I was determined to go for it 100%.

8. How do you feel Fair Haven will help people in these crazy times we are living, which are filled with so much fear that all the progress we have made with gay rights will move backwards? I think Fair Haven provides hope. Hope that even in the toughest situations one can find a way to be true to oneself and attempt to reconcile familial tensions. We made the film in a very specific way so that we could reach a mass, mainstream audience. Fair Haven is subtle in its approach and we were very careful not to feel preachy or pushing an agenda. It educates but also entertains through a very traditionally structured dramatic narrative. I think the film is a bit of a wake up call to many. Before Jack came to me with a script about "reparative therapy" I didn’t know much about it. I assumed that it had become obsolete because this "therapy" obviously didn’t work. When I did research and learned that it very much still happens and that our youth is currently being subjected to this trauma, I was shocked and infuriated. I hope the messages in the film linger, inspire a dialogue, and maybe even open a few closed minds along the way.

Lily Anne Harrison and Michael Grant in "Fair Haven"9. As a female filmmaker, what challenges do you face that you feel your male counterparts do not? I have to say that with Fair Haven I rarely felt as though I were at a disadvantage as a female filmmaker, and it’s hard to tell sometimes if something is difficult because I am a female or because indie filmmaking is just inherently difficult. I generally go with the latter. There were a handful of times that I felt like my vision wasn’t being taken seriously, as a relatively young woman, making my first feature. That never happened on set. I was completely supported and respected by the cast and creative team. They took a leap with me on my first feature and gave me their full trust and support. I did feel as though other sides of the process were extremely male dominated and possibly a bit prejudiced. In several situations it took some time, but I think I eventually gained the trust of those "old boys club" members. However, maybe every director faces these obstacles, male or female.

Michael Grant in "Fair Haven"10. Why did you want to dedicate this film to your late cousin Katelyn? What do miss most about her? Katelyn was a beautiful transgender woman. She was the film’s biggest supporter. She was exceedingly proud of me and the message I was trying to spread. Tragically she took her own life about a month after we wrapped production. I dedicated the film to her because she had spent a portion of her life fighting for love and equality and hope. When I made the dedication I felt like I was now carrying her torch. She faced enormous discrimination which is exactly why making this film was so incredibly important to me. After losing her, completing the film and telling this story became even more important. Katelyn was so positive. She was always giving me pep talks. She believed in me more than I believed in myself. That support is one of the things I miss most about her.

11. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Count me in on the fitness journey! But, I recently got really interested in meditation. I get fidgety and my mind often wanders so I’d like to get 1% better at that practice every day.

Kerstin KarlhuberMore on Kerstin:

Kerstin Karlhuber is an award winning Filmmaker and the Founder/Director of Silent Giant Productions. She recently completed her first feature length film, Fair Haven, which has been called, "deftly and meticulously directed," and "a potent, stirring new film." Kerstin’s credits include national ad campaigns, original television content, music videos and several award winning short films. She holds a Masters Degree in Film Production from Boston University and undergraduate degrees in Musical Theater from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and The New School.

Sunday
Feb052017

Call Me Adam: Dimo Hyun Jun Kim: Interview at Theatre at St. Clement's

Dimo Hyun Jun KimI love a good psycho thriller, but there aren't many musical psycho thrillers, so I was quite intrigued when I found out about Interview, a new psycho musical thriller, produced and directed by Dimo Hyun Jun Kim.

In Interview, a seemingly innocuous job interview for a writer’s apprentice quickly turns sinister when the true motives of the interviewee, "Matt," are revealed. Unveiling the myriad pieces of haunting evidence kept hidden for the past 10 years, the interviewer, "Dr. Eugene Harper," and the interviewee now have to investigate a murder mystery to find the true killer of a young girl whose corpse was found floating on a lake. The twist – while there are two people in the room, there are seven different personalities to be probed. The intoxicating question of what is real and what is not will quickly drive the audience to the brink of insanity.

Interview will play at the Theatre at St. Clement's (423 West 46th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) through March 5! Click here for tickets!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a director/producer? I was born in South Korea, and at age four I watched my very first musical, Cats, at the Seoul Arts Center. The following year, my parents brought me back to the theatre to see a Korean adaptation of Cats. Even at a tender age, I realized that the original musical was a phantasmagorical spectacle and theatre was where I belonged.

By age nine, I had decided to create my very own musical. The producer, Do-yoon Seol, allowed me to watch Cats gratis daily after noticing my enthusiasm for the show. As recorded in my diary, I watched Cats eighty-six times. When the tour ended, I knew every line by heart and understood how music, dance, verse, costume, scenery, and orchestra fit together. And from that very moment, I longed to be a great director despite my parents’ disagreement.

2. When did you decide to start your own theatre company? What has been the best part about this venture and what challenges did you face in creating it? I founded DIMO KIM MUSICAL THEATRE FACTORY in 2015 to produce COMFORT WOMEN: A New Musical. I had numerous challenges trying to create everything from ground zero, with no connections or networks in NYC. I had to learn how radio signal works, and how to deal with insurance, payroll, the IRS...it wasn't easy. However, it was amazingly rewarding to solve one issue at a time and put together a show.

3. After making its world premiere in Seoul, Korea and sold-out runs in Kyoto & Tokyo, you are now bringing Interview, an original psycho musical thriller to NYC for a limited run. What made now the right time bring the show to NYC? After producing two original shows in New York, I had the urge to bring a show that was successful in Korea to NYC audience members. Coincidentally, Suro Kim, who was the producer of Green Card: A New Musical, also wanted to bring a hit show from Korea to the US. That's how it all started.

4. What do you hope NY audiences will embrace most about this show? Psycho thriller musicals aren't too common in New York City but it is a very popular genre in Korea and Japan. I really want the audiences to see how one actor, Josh Bardier, plays six different roles at the same time - it is absolutely amazing.

Josh Bardier, Adam Dietlein and Erin Kommor, rehearsing "Interview"5. Why did you want to produce & direct this show? I wanted to show NYC audiences the high quality of Korean-born musicals. Also, because the show deals with domestic abuse and mental health issues, I wanted to approach the story as sensitive as I could - and I believed I could.

6. Interview tells the story of a psychologist, a criminal defendant & a legal system that would stop at nothing to gain an alleged killer's confession, even if it means driving the accused to the brink of insanity. When has there been a time in your life when you have been pushed over the emotional edge? When I was producing/directing Comfort Women, I received numerous calls from far-right Japanese people threatening to harm me - that gave me serious anxiety issues.

7. In Interview, a famous psychologist & author call a temp agency for an apprenticeship. The perfect candidate appears at his door. Witty, studious & eager to please, "Matt Sinclair" quickly makes an impression with "Dr. Eugene Harper." All is not as it appears, however & what starts as an interview, quickly turns sinister as the author's true motives are revealed. When have you been in a situation where something appeared to be one thing and it quickly turned into something completely different? When I was preparing for Green Card: A New Musical, I had a meeting with a sponsor - he looked like a total gangster. But he turned out to be the nicest person ever! I was pretty surprised. :)

Dimo Hyun Jun Kim8. Over the past 20 years, South Korea has become the third biggest market for musical theatre, after New York & London. As a producer, what has been the best part about the growth of musical theatre in South Korea and what changes do you feel still need to made there? When I turned 15, I began questioning why new musicals were always made in English and never made in our native Korean tongue. Something was missing from the industry. At 16-years-old, I tried to compose and direct a musical by myself, in vain. Three months of work and savings was lost. I decided to pitch my proposal to many Korean producers, who were kind, but they told me without further explanation that "no new musical will ever start in Korea." This was not an acceptable answer to me therefore I decided to go to New York City to make musicals. I presumed if I make a name in the city that is Marshall McLuhan’s proverbial "global village," licenses to play my musicals could always be sent back home.

New York indeed has a great theatre district, but when I arrived here in 2010 I found a dilapidated local Asian theatre community that seemed in a state of infancy. I realized quickly that there was a lack of Korean and more generally, pan Asiatic representation, both in the creative teams and in the roles offered in Broadway, Off-Broadway, and even regional theater productions. As a result, since my arrival in the United States six years ago, I have worked hard to create more opportunities for Asian casts and creative teams to find a voice in the large plethora of the enchanted world of theatre and theatrical artistry. My ultimate goal is to become one of a few directors to lead the Asian theatre community to a new recognition on the world stage.

9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I wanna sleep one percent more every day. This will give me the energy to put on a better show every single day!

Dimo Hyun Jun KimMore on Dimo:

Dimo Hyun Jun Kim is a theatre director from Seoul, South Korea, Chairman of Dimo Kim Musical Theatre Factory LLC & Theatre Department Chair of Born Star Training Center NYC. Dimo made his Off-Broadway debut with Comfort Women: A New Musical, nominated for Best Off-Broadway Musical by BroadwayWorld & the first all-Asian Off-Broadway cast to be led by an East Asian national. Other Off-Broadway shows include Green Card: A New Musical & Innermind. Selected credits include Richard III, See What I Wanna See, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, West Side Story, Advice to the Players, The Cherry Orchard, Godspell, The Upper Lip, Finding My Way Back Home, Promenade, Life is A Dream, West Side Ballad, Our Town, Art, Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Spring is Arising & Jesus Christ Superstar. In June, Dimo will be producing the Asian Musical Theatre Festival in Lincoln Center.