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Entries in Donald Trump (7)

Thursday
Jul062017

Call Redialed: Jackie Beat: Birthday Bitch! at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

Jackie BeatI am beyond thrilled that Jackie Beat answered my call yet again! I love interviewing Jackie Beat. She keeps me laughing the whole time with her brilliant sense of humor! In this interview we get the party started with a pre-birthday celebration by talking about her new show coming to The Laurie Beechman Theatre entitled Birthday Bitch! 

Everyone knows that Jackie Beat is a big bitch. And a talented bitch. A shady bitch. A fierce bitch. A sick bitch. But this July, Jackie Beat is also a BIRTHDAY BITCH! To celebrate her birthday weekend, Miss Beat is invading New York, unwrapping some new parody songs and sharing some of her greatest hits. So here are the ground rules: Do not make eye contact.  Do not ask "how old?" Laugh loudly. Drink. Gifts optional.

Birthday Bitch! will play The Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, in the basement of the West Bank Cafe) July 22 at 8pm & July 23 at 4pm. Click here for tickets!

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

For more shows from Spin Cycle visit http://spincyclenyc.com and follow them on Twitter!

Jackie Beat1. This July, you are once again returning to the Laurie Beechman Theatre with your new show Birthday Bitch! What are you looking forward to about celebrating your birthday at The Laurie Beechman Theatre with your fans? Well, all joking aside, there is no place I would rather be! Except maybe in bed with my dogs watching Netflix. Or at a grand opening of a new Arby's - with unlimited free Beef & Cheddar sandwiches. But after those options, on stage in full clown singing my balls off is definitely my third choice for best place to celebrate getting one year closer to death!

2. For some people, their birthday is a time for renewal and at this bash, you will be unwrapping some new parodies. I will leave the parodies as a surprise for those who attend your show, but what I want to know is, what do you hope to unwrap for yourself either professionally or personally that you have not gotten to yet? Time to get serious kids. I would really like to unwrap some peace-of-mind. It may be hard to believe, seeing how I have been doing this for close to thirty years now, but what with Drag Race and the mainstream popularity of drag in general, it's gotten harder. I'm like everyone else and I often compare myself to others. And when those others are half my age and have been on a wildly-popular TV show, sometimes it can get to me. But then I take a deep breath and think, "Hey, you're Jackie Beat goddamn it!" Then I yell, "Snap out of it!" in my best Cher voice and slap myself across the face. So yeah, a little much-needed boost of self-confidence would be a great birthday present. And I realize it's something that only I can give to myself. And if I can't have that, maybe a $50 gift certificate for Arby's?

Jackie Beat3. One thing attendees should know is that there are some ground rules for your Birthday Bitch! show: Do not make eye contact. Do not ask "how old?" Laugh loudly. Drink. Gifts optional. What will happen if someone breaks these rules? Are there different punishments for breaking each rule? GIFTS OPTIONAL!? Are you fucking new? Gifts are mandatory. I put the MAN in mandatory. And as far as punishment for breaking my rules, I think people are well aware of just how painful being read to filth in front of an entire roomful of fellow sodomites can be. Se be on your best behavior, kids! And bring presents.

4. What are some gifts you would like to receive this year? (Think of this as your registry). I really do love a nice gift card. You know, Starbucks, Bed Bath & Beyond, Trader Joe's. I'll avoid mentioning Arby's yet again so as not to make anyone think I'm shamelessly trying to land a lucrative endorsement deal with the deliciously trashy fast-food chain. I appreciate fan art, but - let's be honest - if it really looks like me I'm probably just going to get depressed. I also love accessories and makeup, but frankly, I have enough to last me the rest of my life. That's right, I have a 6-month supply! See what I did there? I guess if you really love me, you could start a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to have Lady Bunny brutally murdered. And not just brutally, but SLOWLY. Happy Birthday to me!

Jackie Beat5. You have been described as a big bitch. And a talented bitch. A shady bitch. A fierce bitch. A sick bitch. Out of everything you've done in your career, was there one or two things that made you feel as though it took more talent than something else? If so, what were those things that took more talent? Well, first of all I will say this: I'm very proud of becoming a successful drag queen before it was socially acceptable. I mean, there were Gay bars - leather bars in particular - that wouldn't even let drag queens in the door! Now they all have their RuPaul's Drag Race viewing parties and every event has a drag queen hosting and/or performing. Don't get me wrong, that's progress! After all, the only difference between a drag queen and a leather queen in their choice of fabric. All I am saying is that back in the day drag only appealed to a very specific kind of drama class/glee club outcast/misfit if you will. Now it's the cool kids! Which, again, is great! And, trust me, no one became a drag queen to make money! Also, me and Sherry Vine and Coco Peru and Varla Jean Merman and Lady Bunny and so many others couldn't just go onto YouTube and watch makeup tutorials.

But I guess what I most proud of is that I am a drag queen who can sing a rock song with a live band, play Bea Arthur as "Dorothy Zbornak" in a stage version of The Golden Girls, put on a 75-minute solo show and write material for people like Margaret Cho and Ross Mathews. I'm very well-rounded! But most of the credit for that goes to Arby's.

6. What is the shadiest thing you've ever done? What is the most fierce thing you've done? I'm honestly not that shady. And I'm sure there are some people who are rolling their eyes right now reading that, but it's true. Anyone who really knows me knows that I am a very loving person. Listen, we all have our moments. And I have certainly opened my big fat mouth and/or posted a Tweet before thinking that I later regretted. Unfortunately, that's the flip-side of being a comedian. What works on stage - saying the first and/or worst thing that pops into your head - doesn't always work in real life. I've had to apologize many times, trust me. That's why I feel for people like Kathy Griffin and Bill Maher. We want our comedians to be outrageous and push the envelope and then when they make a mistake or go too far, we crucify them. It's like getting mad at someone for pulling your hair or calling you a filthy whore during sex. Hey, it was done in the heat of the moment. I went too far. I'm sorry!

And as far as the fiercest thing, I'd have to say refusing to water-down my political beliefs and my unbridled hatred of Donald Trump. On the Drag Queens of Comedy Tour I sang a song that ripped him a new one and occasionally there would be someone in the audience who voted for him who would get upset. In Chicago an older drag queen dripping in rhinestones and wearing a tiara made a big scene and stormed out during my number. I mean, can you imagine?

Jackie Beat7. I can't believe we have done two prior interviews together and I never asked you how did you come up with your persona Jackie Beat? Oh God, it's such a long fucking story! When I first moved to LA way back in the 1980's, I considered myself a serious artist and poet. I used to go to this one open mic poetry night in Hollywood week after week and sign up, but because they always gave B-List celebrities priority, I never got to read my stuff. Well, one week I got so pissed off that I got in drag. I just put on a black turtleneck, a black skirt, black boots, black wig & a black beret. I wrote a "Beatnik" poem - which was essentially just a high-concept stand-up comedy routine. Well, not only did they not let me read my poem, they wouldn't even let me in the club! So I went to WeHo, to the gay bar Rage, and it was a talent contest that night. I decided to read my poem there. They asked me my name for the sign-up list and I just thought of the most Sixties thing I could think of: Jackie Beat. It was part Jack Kerouac, part Jackie Kennedy. Anyway, to make a long story short - TOO LATE! - I won the contest and the rest is history.

8. Since you are the Birthday Bitch! what is your birthday wish for your fans who continue to support you? Just keep laughing. Don't be so touchy and easily offended. And let's please fight the real enemy, not each other. If a comedian says something, take a moment to consider the context. Is it irony? Are they perhaps portraying an ignorant "character?" Are they playing devil's advocate? Or is the only possible conclusion that they are in fact a horrible transphobic racist monster who just accidentally revealed how they truly feel? Do the math. It's NEVER that last one, people.

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? Eat 1% less Arby's!

Jackie BeatMore on Jackie:

Jackie Beat is the self-professed bastard child of "Weird" Al Yankovic and buxom Bette Midler. An award-winning drag darling, Jackie Beat has been wowing unsuspecting audiences since 1989.  She has toured with Roseanne Barr -- as the comic legend’s opening act -- including a 7-week run at The New York New York in Las Vegas; written for TV (Fashion Police, Hello Ross, Hype! and others) and collaborated on special material with the like of Roseanne, Rosie O’Donnell and Jennifer Coolidge; appeared in countless TV shows (Sex and the City), Movies (Grief, Wigstock The Movie, Flawless, Adam & Steve) and Off-Broadway hits (Valley of the Dolls, Tell-Tale!). She has been named Best Drag Queen by New York Press and Best Live Performance by HX Magazine. Jackie is also a columnist, lead singer for the electro-rock band, Dirty Sanchez, and the subject of the documentary film My Name is Jackie Beat including commentary from Joan Rivers, Margaret Cho, and Roseanne.

Saturday
Mar112017

Call Answered: Miss Richfield 1981: 20/20 Vision at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

With her unique brand of humor, fun songs, and entertaining videos, I know my cheeks will hurt from the amount of laughter ensued after attending a Miss Richfield show and since 2006, I have been in constant pain. 

Now Miss Richfield 1981 brings her brand-new show 2020 Vision to The Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, in the basement of the West Bank Cafe) from March 14-16! In this show, Miss Richfield 1981 offers a survival guide for the new world we live in, helps calm any post-election panic, and provide tools to prevent the apocalypse! This is one show you can't afford to miss! Click here for tickets! 

For more on Miss Richfield 1981 be sure to visit https://missrichfield.wordpress.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

Miss Richfield 19811. After seeing you several times in Provincetown, I'm honored to be getting to do this interview. Since this our first interview together, let's start at the beginning. How did you become Miss Richfield 1981? It was a beauty pageant July 4, 1981, on a simple plywood stage in Richfield, Minn. And like so many beauty queens, I won that title with my natural beauty, my booming baritone vibrato and a fire that horribly disfigured all 11 other contestants when Trudy Olson lost control of her flaming batons. I was the only contestant to stop, drop and roll, which is also how I do my hair. So after they hauled off 9 contestants to the burn unit, and a couple others to the morgue, I was the only one left to receive the lovely hand-glittered sash, shiny tiara, and a power lawnmower! Our local Ace Hardware is very involved in Richfield beauty!

2. What does holding this beauty title now mean to you as opposed to when you first got it in 1981? Beauty pageants became a focal point of my life, when a ninth-grade vocational aptitude test pointed me to a career in beauty or the fragrance counter at Sears. As I never could pass the math section of the Sears job application, a beauty career appeared imminent. Then winning the pageant was just the beginning, since the day after I received my beauty title, Miss Richfield 1981, the gals at my church started a fund to buy me a bus ticket to go someplace else. And for the last 36 years, every time I get back to Minnesota, there on the screen door of my trailer is taped another bus ticket for me to go someplace else! It’s embarrassing, they just adore me!

3. What is the best part about being Miss Richfield 1981 and what is the most challenging part? Has anyone every tried to de-throne you? I adore making new friends and I’m doing that with my hectic schedule this Spring, which includes San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Tulsa, Tampa, Philly, and your godless mecca, New York City – all before I head to Ptown for the summer at the Crown & Anchor. Well popularity has its penalties! But the traveling can be a bit of a minus, as I’m trying to find a boyfriend. And you know most single gals in my stage of life are more likely to be killed by a terrorist, than find love. So I’m thinking I might relocate to Iraq to better my chances. And as far as dethroning goes, I don’t have that concern since all the other gals got heavy.

4. This March you are presenting your new show 2020 Vision at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. What are you looking forward to most about bringing 2020 Vision to New York? My new 2020 Vision show has new music, new videos, new chatter, and most importantly a new message for New York in our new world! These are some strange times, my dears, so I want to offer people a message of hope – or at least survival! And I adore doing this show. It’s supreme happiness to hear the folks go crazy with my upbeat music, informative videos and audience interaction! It’s also always a bonus when I remember the words to the songs! And the Laurie Beechman is a wonderful facility that does not require you to be a Christian to attend the show. So bring neighbors, co-workers, friends or enemies! Just think about who deserves it, and bring them along!

Miss Richfield 19815. In this post-election world, how did you get the whereabouts to write a show about having perfect vision when we are living in a constant state of fog? You’re right on the money there! A life of beauty can be challenging; as a lot of time folks only see the glamour. They don’t see the weeklong Greyhound bus trips, where the only person I get to talk to is the driver – that I wrap my hair in toilet paper and sleep on my face – the duties of washing and polishing my balls during cold and flu season of Bingo. It can be a grind!

6. In this show, you are going to be giving some advice as to calm any post-election panic. What are some calming pointers that did not make it into the show you can share with us? That’s tough, as I generally don’t leave anything out. You may be aware, that I’m famous for cramming a 60-minute show into 90! That’s a lot of time to fill. But there was one post-election duty I did not include in this show. The day after the election I went behind my trailer and burned everything I owned that was orange – living room draperies, a bathroom rug, two sweaters, a leotard, and most of my dishware.

Miss Richfield 19817. You are also going to be providing tools to prevent an apocalypse. How do you know these tools will work and what apocalypse have you tried them on to know they are successful? First off, it’s probably too late to prevent an apocalypse, but I believe that you can always look your best in a bad situation. So most of my advice is a bit after the fact, sort of "since we’re all going to die anyway, let’s go buy shoes and a handbag!" And I am well versed in apocalypse experiences, mostly due to the Greyhound when the bathrooms are clogged up with adult diapers. You know that senior discount is popular!

8. What is something about Miss Richfield 1981 that you haven't revealed yet in an interview? Secrets? Alright just one: I do not wear make-up.

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? Math has never been my strong suit, so I’m not sure how much we’re talking here, plus I feel like my purpose as a beauty professional is to help other people make improvements. With that in mind, I’d like to offer your readers a word of advice from my mother, "You can lose your money, you can lose your lipstick, and you can lose your dignity, but if you pack a smile in your handbag, you’ll always be able to find a trucker to give you a ride home!" That is definitely more than one percent!

Miss Richfield 1981More on Miss Richfield 1981:

Miss Richfield 1981 dedicates her life to the friendly citizens and responsible merchants of her hometown of Richfield, Minnesota. This Midwestern maven is winning over theater and cabaret audiences around the country with an interactive format that combines homespun warmth and edgy improv, leaving audiences in hysterics with a truly original performance.

Miss Richfield’s national appeal includes riotous appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Today on NBC, as well as prestigious mentions, such as The New York Post recently honoring "Miss Richfield 1981 as the must-see act in Provincetown."

As well as sell-out performances throughout the country, including LA, Chicago and New York, Miss Richfield continues her sold-out reputation as the most successful act each summer at the Crown and Anchor in Provincetown, Mass. Miss Richfield also finds time in her busy schedule to headline for Atlantis Events cruises and resort vacations, the largest LGBT vacation company.

Monday
Jan302017

Call Answered: Josie Long: Something Better

Josie Long, Photo Credit: Idil Sukan @ Draw HQAs a former stand-up comedian myself, I'm always intrigued by other comics. When British comedian Josie Long's show Something Better was presented to me, I had to find out more, especially while living in this post-election apocalypse, I am constantly looking for Something Better to focus on. 

Josie's show, Something Better, will be playing throughout London this February and March. Click here for tickets and locations!

For more on Josie be sure to visit http://www.josielong.com and followe her on Twitter @JosieLong!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a comedian? I was obsessed with TV comedy when I was a child, and I was also a natural show off, so when I found comedy I fell in love with it I think!

2. You have been performing comedy since the age of 14. How do you feel the comedy circuit has changed since then and how have you adapted to the change? When I started out on the comedy circuit in London, it was a lot smaller and I think a little weirder than now. In the past decade stand up comedy has had an incredible surge in popularity in the U.K. And now there are a lot more people pursuing it as a career in quite an intense and ruthless manner. When I started it felt like there were lots of very zany open spots, and lots of people performing comedy for reasons that even they couldn't explain! But then I don't know if that's the hardened veteran performer in me talking, there's still so many delightful weirdoes knocking about.

For me personally, stand up has been a part of my whole life, it's been how I express myself and how I understand the world, I simply can't imagine my life without it.

3. Your new show, Something Better is going on a London tour this February and March. It's a show about optimism, hope, looking for people and things to look up to, and wanting more from life than it might be up for giving out. What made now the right time to premiere this new show? I really love getting to perform. The crowds are energetic and excited in a way that makes me feel glad to be alive. My show is about trying to get back to hope and optimism after a catastrophic election hijacked by the far right, and it became accidentally more relevant after the Trump election.

4. In this post-election climate, how can your show help restore some faith that was lost on that fateful night? I think it's important to get to laugh with other people, even if it's laughing about feeling angry or frightened- it reminds you that you are not alone and that you aren't crazy. I also think that being hopeful is the only way to go, and it is absolutely my dream that my show could help make anyone feel empowered to keep going.

Josie Long, Photo Credit: Idil Sukan @ Draw HQ5. How do you stay optimistic when things don't go your way? It's just always better than the alternative. Nobody ever says "guess who I'm taking on the expedition? This bitter old husk of a person! They shall be ruinous for morale!" So you might as well keep trying. What else are you gonna do? That having been said, I think I'm lucky to be optimistic by nature, which means I'm stuck like this, even when it's stupid!

6. What more do you want out of life than it's giving you? As well as dealing with political loss, I think part of my show was dealing with being newly single at 34 when I want a family, about renting in London during a housing crisis and feeling like my life was lacking in any kind of permanence or security. That's kind of a downer, written down though. It's funnier onstage.

Josie Long, Photo Credit: Idil Sukan @ Draw HQ7. What do you enjoy about performing live for an audience? I just love the playfulness of it. I love the feeling that you're giving people joy and nothing else. That's rare and brilliant.

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 am going to go on Twitter once a day and no more. I swear Twitter used to be fun at some point. I swear it did. But I can't remember that feeling anymore. Good luck with your fitness! I admire that very much!

Josie Long, Photo Credit: Idil Sukan @ Draw HQMore on Josie:

Often described as a unique voice in comedy, Josie Long is one of the most respected comedians of her generation. Having started stand-up at age 14, she went on to win the BBC New Comedy Award and came in second in So You Think You’re Funny at age 17. Josie went on to support Stewart Lee on his national tour, winning Chortle UK’s Best Newcomer (2005) and Breakthrough Act (2007) awards. In 2006, her show Kindness and Exuberance won the Perrier Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe, and since then Josie has racked up three consecutive nominations for the Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award and performed in Montreal, Melbourne (where she won the 2007 Barry Award), Adelaide and New Zealand. In 2015 she performed her show Cara Josephine in New York and Los Angleles after sold-out shows in Edinburgh and London.

On television, Josie has appeared on the UK programs The News Quiz, Just A Minute, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, The Alternative Comedy Experience, Have I Got News For You and 8 out of 10 Cats, and Drunk History, as well as Australia’s Thank God You’re Here. She also investigated the rise of online comedy for The Culture Show on BBC2. She has written and starred in two short films, Let’s Go Swimming and Romance and Adventure and is currently developing her first feature-length project.

Josie has also written for BBC Radio, including two contributions to The Afternoon Play and her own series based on her show Romance and Adventure. She has been a regular guest on a The Back End Of Next Week, and was the co-host of BBC 6 Music Saturday mornings with Andrew Collins in 2011. Josie became popular with young radio listeners through a weekly feature on the Radio 1 series Switch, where she announced words that children had to immediately put into their homework. Josie currently presents Short Cuts for BBC Radio 4, which has reached #2 in the iTunes podcast download chart.

Josie is also a regular contributor to the Guardian Guide, as a columnist and cartoonist, and she wrote for, and appeared in, the first two series of Skins as well as directed their online content. She is currently developing her charity Arts Emergency, which works to make arts & humanities degrees accessible to all who want to study them.

Tuesday
Jan102017

Call Answered: Melinda Hughes: "Cheers Darling" at The Metropolitan Room

Melinda HughesWhen I heard about British satirist Melinda Hughes' new Weimar cabaret show Cheers Darling, an evening of songs about the special relationship between the UK and the US, I knew I had to call her to find out more. Much to my delight, Melinda answered and we got to chatting about politics, selfies, and Donald Trump.

Cheers Darling will play at The Metropolitan Room in NYC (34 West 22nd Street, between 5th & 6th Avenue) on Wednesday, January 18 at 7pm and Friday, January 20 at 9:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Melinda be sure to visit http://www.melindahughes.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

1. This January you will be premiering your new cabaret show Cheers Darling at The Metropolitan Room. It's an evening of songs about the special relationship between the UK and the US; the declining British Aristocracy, selfies, Brexit and Donald Trump’s non-stop tweeting. What are you looking forward to about debuting this new show? The US elections and the British referendum were great inspirations to write some fun songs and, whatever your political leanings, it is a great opportunity to present them in New York during such upheaval and change.

2. Your singing style is that of Weimar cabaret. In this post-election climate, how does today’s world relate to that of Weimar Berlin? There are some striking similarities: a general distrust of politics, feeding a wave of populism, but also a strong desire for individual freedom. I think some people today, like back then, feel disenfranchised and disconnected from the elite. This is reflected in a few Weimar songs such as "The Smart Set" about the upper classes who spend all their time shopping and gossiping, but also in "Das Lila Lied" ("The Lavender Song") which is considered to be the first ever gay protest anthem. They were both written by Mischa Spoliansky in the late '20s, but sound like they could have been written yesterday.

3. As an English girl in New York (you see what I did there), what similarities do you see between Brexit and our current political situation? Both countries seem to be retrenching into a nostalgic nationalism. It feels like our "special relationship" is still going strong! "Britannia waives the rules" is a song mocking old values of both countries and pokes fun at both of our cultures in equal measure. It always gets a laugh. Our Brexit song "If you’re gonna go, go" is sung as if it were the breakup of two lovers, in the style of a cheesy eighties rock ballad.

Melinda Hughes4. Living in these troubling times, how do you feel your show will help people? Well, it's certainly a ripe time for satire. President-elect Trump is the gift that keeps on giving, and I think we need to laugh now more than ever. Satirical songs are a great way of getting a point across without being too aggressive. Political satire was huge in Weimar Germany and later became the last outlet for freedom of speech. Humour really bonds like-minded people, so I hope that my audience will connect to the music and humour. History can sometimes repeat itself, and we can learn from it: I have written a song called "We’ve been here before"  about how a woman (think of a Marlene Dietrich) would recount her highs and lows had she lived to be 150 years old.

5. We live in a world of selfies, what do you love about taking them and what annoys you about this style of picture taking? I’m not much of a solo selfie taker but I’ll always join in with friends. Some people seem more concerned about the selfie than the life they're in, which is what inspired my selfie song. My boyfriend and I were on a short holiday and we just couldn’t move for the amount of people taking selfies with 4 foot selfie sticks. It totally killed the ambiance, so I penned some lyrics about a holiday romance;

"the girl is so obsessed with taking selfies, she falls off the edge of a cliff to achieve that perfect angle."

It ends with the words:

"but I’ve never been a quitter, 

I uploaded it to twitter

and I very quickly writta 

caption that will make you titter, 

"I’ve really fallen for this place, 

hashtag Dead!"

Melinda Hughes6. Cheers Darling is coinciding with the inauguration of president elect Donald Trump. If Donald Trump came to your show, what would you want him to come away with after seeing your show? And what is one thing you would want to tell him? I would want him to come away with new ideas for his tweets. For instance, I would love him to tweet about my show. Something like: "She’s so unfunny and such a loser," then I'll know the show is a hit!

7. Was there one Donald Trump tweet, that inspired your song? If so, what was that tweet? If there wasn’t one, what has been your favorite tweet, Donald Trump has written? It was more the unfiltered stream of consciousness that inspired the song. But if I were to pick one, it would be the the New Years Eve tweet - which showed him to be such a sore winner. It may not be what is needed to bring the country back together.

Melinda Hughes8. What do you love about performing for American audiences? I love their positivity, their open-mindedness and their love for showmanship. There’s a great cabaret tradition in New York so the audience is ready to take that emotional journey. It means you can push the boundaries a little bit more. I toured a lot as an opera singer across the US and also found that backstage, on the technical side, there was a great "can do" attitude which is quite refreshing.

9. Since your show is called Cheers Darling, what is something you are celebrating in this New Year? My show is punctuated a little by the odd glass of champagne and a little cheers musical motif. We English always go back to saying "cheers," whether to commiserate or celebrate with someone and I always call people darling, especially if I've forgotten their name!

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’m going to stick religiously to my weekly Pilates, which cured me of chronic pain after a prolapsed disc, and I'm also going to meditate more. I started practicing many years ago while on tour in the US, and it helped me through all those late nights, early mornings and hours on the road.

Melinda HughesMore on Melinda:

Classically trained Melinda Hughes is a successful satirical cabaret performer who has sold out shows at The Pheasantry and Crazy Coqs Zedel in London among other venues around the world. She has written and performed with co-writer Jeremy Limb at numerous International Festivals and her CD Smoke and Noise (Nimbus) won critical acclaim in the US and UK leading her to appear on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4 with Barry Humphries. A graduate of The Royal College of Music, Melinda toured Europe for three years as the soloist to the famous violinist Andre Rieu. She has sung many lead operatic roles including AidaTosca and Madame Butterfly working in more than forty countries and will be appearing on the BBC4 Television series about Weimar Cabaret in summer 2017.

Tuesday
Nov012016

Call Answered: Max Hunter: The Bridge Production Group's Bold & Bloody RICHARD III

Max HunterOne great thing about theatre is seeing all the ways a show can be mounted. Three different theatre companies could all present the same show and yet each one would be different. When I heard The Bridge Production Group was presenting a bold & bloody production of Shakespeare's Richard III, I thought I would take a closer look. 

I called and The Bridge Production Group's Artistic Director, Max Hunter, answered. So, we sat down to discuss this new telling of a classic show. The Bridge Production Group's Richard III, utilizes video & film projection, this complex historical saga has been streamlined & distilled for contemporary audiences in the style of Quentin Tarantino & Baz Luhrmann, with inspiration from American Psycho and Dexter. It stresses the fractured and bloody nature of deceit and betrayal through ensemble-driven storytelling, movement, and a kinetic visual landscape.

Richard III plays Fourth Street Theatre (83 East 4th Street) from November 9-27. Click here for tickets!

For more on Max be sure to visit http://www.maxhuntersite.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on The Bridge Production Group visit http://www.bridgeproductiongroup.org and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

1. This November, your theatre company, The Bridge Production Group is staging a bold re-envisioning of Shakespeare's Richard III, stylized after Quentin Tarantino & Baz Luhrmann, with inspiration from American Psycho and Dexter. What made you want to present this show in this new way? When looking at a complex historical drama - with an incredible amount of context surrounding the plot and characters - I felt that it had to be presented with a vocabulary that might allow audiences an authentic entry point into this world. In looking to mirror the stylistic techniques of artists like Tarantino and Luhrmann, I wanted to bring a visceral energy to the grit and violence of this play, activating this world beyond a museum-piece presentation.

2. What is it about Quentin, Baz, American Psycho and Dexter that made you want to present a theatrical show in their style of work? The deliberate juxtaposition between thematic elements in these works create a conversation between audiences and artists, creating a new lens for audiences to experience these worlds. In Django Unchained, Tarantino presented the world of the American slave trade through the musical underscoring of traditional western motifs and contemporary hiphop. American Psycho famously utilized graphic violence and Huey Lewis and The News to comment on American consumerism and masculinity in the 1980s. In looking at Richard III, I felt that by keeping these characters grounded in a sense of tradition - while taking liberties with how we present that world - we can create a more authentic relationship between actor and audience.

Jacob Owen in "RICHARD III", Photo Credit: The Bridge Production Group3. What do you think audiences will be most impressed by this new telling of Richard III and what, if anything, do you think they will miss about a traditional telling? We are deliberate to note that the play still "occurs" in 16th-century England; this is not Shakespeare with cell phones and machine guns. Our interpretation of Richard III allows for a heightened portrayal of how that world manifests to our audiences. In shying away from a more static staging, we are allowing the energy and emotion of the text to dictate more modern stylistic designs - using movement, music, and visual design that might otherwise seem anachronistic to work together to elevate the vitality of the play.

4. You are playing "Richard III" himself. What do you identify most with about "Richard III." What characteristic of his do you wish you had and which one are you like, "he can keep that trait."? I identify with "Richard’s" unwavering ambition. He sets out defined objectives - marrying "Anne," killing his brothers, securing political clout - and doesn’t stop until each box has been checked. While I might personally disagree with his choice of tactics, there’s something to be envied in having every single personal desire manifest into a deliberate and decisive action.

Max Hunter and Christina Toth in "RICHARD III", Photo Credit: The Bridge Production Group5. Your production of Richard III, stresses the fractured & bloody nature of deceit & betrayal. When have you been deceived and betrayed? Have those situations been rectified or was the relationship to those involved just ceased? I think Richard III can act as a catharsis of sorts to audiences who, having been deceived to some degree in their lives, wish that they could extend the control that "Richard" maintains in the play. While I doubt many have experienced the immense jealousy and anger that occurs in the play, we all instinctively go to dark places when figuring out how best to let our retribution manifest itself. For me, it's usually sitting in a dark room with a six-pack of Bud Light Lime, rewatching whole seasons of Friends.

6. In Richard III, "Richard III" sets out to overthrow his brother from the throne. Has there ever been a time when you wanted to become the head of something because you didn't like how it was being run? I've been in several productions of classic plays where I disagreed with the manner in which it was being produced - pacing, tone, and context are too important to ignore when dealing with audiences who already feel removed from these older plays. Those experiences - where I wished I could've taken a more dominant hand in control - were instrumental in the decision to co-found The Bridge Production Group with Jacob Owen (Associate Artistic Director).

Max Hunter and Christina Toth in "RICHARD III", Photo Credit: The Bridge Production Group7. In addition to acting in this show, you are also directing it. What do you like about having this dual role? How do keep the actor in you separate from the director and vice versa? I admire the director/actor duality because I think it forces the creation of ideas that aren’t necessarily just interesting in theory, but have to be carried out in practice night after night. In asking for trust from a team of actors, I’m not removed as a third-party director but rather standing side by side as a member of the ensemble. The lines can blur, but having Jacob Owen to act as a second set of eyes and clarify moments of storytelling has been a true collaboration, enriching our production and theatre company.

8. What made you want to start your own theatre company? What do you get from being the Artistic Director that you don't get from being a performer/director? Life is too short to spend every day in New York thinking, "How can I gain the approval of this casting director/agent/restaurant manager/etc." I felt confident that we could produce classic theatre in a model that is accessible to an entire demographic of audience ignored by classics companies, while also creating something that would rise above the noise of shoestring productions of three-hour plays with four actors, a chair, and black curtain in a closet in Chinatown.

9. How do you feel Richard III relates to the political race we have seen this year between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump? While obvious to draw parallels between Trump and our title character, I believe that would give too much credit to Donald Trump. I think a common theme in both Richard III and this election cycle is the reminder that politics is so often about exploiting the public thirst for sex and gossip, with policy and experience taking an extreme backseat.

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? This entire experience has been a continuous learning curve of trying to produce smarter and more interesting art - if we can grow by one percent every day in the way we budget, schedule, advertise, and rehearse, I would be a very content Artistic Director.

Max HunterMore on Max:

New York: The Pearl Theatre Company, Metropolitan Playhouse, and readings with New York Theatre Workshop and 54Below. Regional credits include Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, New London Barn Playhouse, Opera North, LAMDA.

Directing credits include Zorba! at Encores! (dir. Walter Bobbie, SDC Fellowship), Long Island Theatre Festival (Winner, Best Director), Midtown Midwinter Theatre Festival, New London Barn Playhouse, Dartmouth College. A member of Actors Equity and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.