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Entries in Feinstein's 54 Below (29)


Call Answered: Conference Call: Jesse Luttrell & Fred Barton: "Jesse Luttrell Showstopper" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Jesse Luttrell, Photo Credit: Christopher BoudewynsFred Barton, Photo Credit: Rick StockwellI have been Facebook friends with Jesse Luttrell for several years now and he's always been on my radar as someone I have wanted to interview. I have heard many of Fred's great arrangements attending a New York Pops' concert. The fact that I now get to interview them together is icing on a very delicious cake!

Jesse & Fred are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with Jesse Luttrell: SHOWSTOPPER, an unforgettable solo homage to the golden age of American entertainment, unleashing Jesse's shattering voice and theatrical, post-modern vaudevillian style with an evening of treasured swing, big band, and show songs. Jesse Luttrell offers an exciting departure from the traditional evening of standards. SHOWSTOPPER is a high-energy show that includes stellar custom orchestrations by acclaimed New York Pops orchestrator Fred Barton.

Jesse Luttrell: SHOWSTOPPER will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Friday, January 19 at 9:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Jesse visit and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Fred visit and follow him on Twitter!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

1. On January 19 you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with your show Jesse Luttrell: Showstopper. What excites you about this show? 

Jesse Luttrell: I've been doing SHOWSTOPPER for about three years now all over the country and I'm always excited to return to New York and 54 Below where it all began. The audiences in New York are almost always the polar opposite of what you get out of town..and they've known me here for over a decade from my humble beginnings schlepping drinks in the piano bar - so they definitely keep me on my toes!

Fred Barton: Jesse always injects new material into his SHOWSTOPPER show, and I can’t wait to unleash the new stuff – and I can’t wait for my 8-piece Broadway Band to sink their teeth into the new charts I’m whipping up. And of course we’ve got the best of Jesse's "hits," and they’re always a blast to perform.

2. Since this is our first interview together, let's go back to the beginning for a minute. How did you two come to meet?

Jesse Luttrell: I was in a musky basement bar full of drunks singing SWANEE at the top of my lungs and Fred had wandered in that night to see an old friend after making a final pilgrimage to a bar down the street that was closing. Our tastes aligned completely so we started talking about working together - which eventually meant cutting an album and then putting together my solo act several years later.

Fred Barton: My show tune piano bar days were back in the late 1990s. After that, the piano bar world collapsed into mainly rock-pop sing-along stuff. But one night, I heard that Rose’s Turn was closing – the former legendary Duplex, where international superstars such as Barbra Streisand, Joan Rivers, and Fred Barton got their start. So I fatefully went down there to pay my last respects. I happened into Marie’s Crisis next door, where I hadn’t been in years, and shortly before 4AM, I happened to see this kid singing a big solo with the most incredible voice I’d heard in years, and with that old-time showbiz THING you just don’t see much anymore. I felt like James Mason in A Star Is Born, standing in the back of a crappy club watching Esther Blodgett toss off a little tune called "The Man That Got Away" as if it were nuthin’. Fred, meet Jesse, Jesse, meet Fred. WHOA. I’m glad I went downtown that night.

Jesse Luttrell, Photo Credit: Kevin Yatarola3. What has made you want to continue to work together?

Jessee Luttrell: There are few arrangers/orchestrators around who understand my needs as a performer.  It helps that Fred and I are cut from the same showbiz cloth, but he also approaches every arrangement from the point of view of an actor. It won't come as a surprise to most when I say I'm a large personality with a big voice - and Fred is able to not only match that in his arrangements, but also he gives me the confidence I need to pull back when I need to.

Fred Barton: We’ve got an exact set of sensibilities, philosophies, and musical tastes in common. This kind of magic collaboration has happened to me maybe three times in my forty years in the biz (I started at 18! I’m still under 60!) – in fact, I even wrote a musical called The Two Svengalis which describes exactly what happens when two people not only complement each other, but bring better than the best out in each other. You can’t bottle, sell, or steal that. In Jesse, I found a partner in crime, a "consort battleship," as Shaw wrote in Pygmalion, who would, could, and will go the distance, not shy away from the possibilities and the challenges of wrestling with one’s own potential and talent. Jesse has one thing that many super-talented people could always use more of – intelligence. He’s the smartest artist I’ve ever worked with, and the street-smarts he’s applied to his performances and his career has made all the difference, for him and for me.

4. What is the most challenging part of your collaboration?

Jesse Luttrell: Having to schlep all the way from Brooklyn to the UWS for our rehearsals. Everything else is buttah.

Fred Barton: It’s all too easy to rest on the laurels, fall into comfort zones and patterns. Every single show, Jesse extends the boundaries and we put ourselves to a higher test. Every arrangement I write HAS to be better than any I’ve done before – I’m compulsive. It can be nerve-wracking, but otherwise, you’re a one-trick pony and people have memorized you before you even open your mouth or given the downbeat. A known quantity, or "brand," to use that dreadful word, can lead to predictability and a typical career, and neither is what Jesse and I have in mind.

Fred Barton with Steven Reineke & The New York Pops5. Now, let's get back to this show. Press notes state that SHOWSTOPPER is "an exciting departure from from the traditional evening of standards." What is the exciting departure you talk about?

Jesse Luttrell: I think when people hear that I sing "standards" they automatically have a picture in their head that I'm going to come out in a conservative suit and curate a polite evening of cabaret, which seems to have become the "industry standard" (whatever that means). I think of myself as more of an entertainer than a docent of the "Great American Songbook." Let's do some terrific songs, get the audience on their feet, and blow the roof off the joint while we're at it. Why not?

Fred Barton: Much as I love what’s now known as "The Great American Songbook," it has taken on connotations of reeling off stuff from the Golden Era, not always with a point of view. Frequently that means it’s either what I call Attack Of The Graverobbers, i.e. Gladys Bubkes Performs An Evening Of Sarah Vaughan or whomever (as if Sarah wrote the songs) – hiding one’s abilities (and limitations) inside the work of a bigger name than anyone could hope to be oneself – or performing the most pretzel-ized, twisted, new-fangled arrangements to try and freshen it up – to which I say, write your own song and leave Gershwin be. In Jesse’s show, as in my symphonic Pops work, I make it my mission to completely inhabit these songs, whether familiar or un-, with our own sensibility, but as if the songwriters are sitting at the piano with me. It’s much harder to honor the original creators of the songs, reflect expertise with their original contexts and values, yet infuse the work with your own sensibility and point of view, than it is to just riff, or copycat.

6. What is the biggest departure you took from your career path because you wanted to try something else?

Jesse Luttrell: I started professionally in musicals when I was 16 but as I saw the landscape of Broadway changing my interests shifted intensely to solo/concert performance. I wanted to do my own shows and make my own choices. I remember I had a really great year once playing all my dream roles back to back, but had a huge emotional crash after the last role. I didn't want to go back to chorus work and I didn't know what I wanted to do next so I started going to the piano bars to forget about things for awhile. It took getting a little lost to find out what I really wanted to do.

Fred Barton: All I ever wanted to do was musical theatre on Broadway, but I peaked too soon, accomplishing that in my mid-20s, before that was common. I jumped from a bunch of Broadway to composing a bunch of TV music in my 30s, which was a wild leap in creative energy. Then, after returning to my cabaret and piano bar roots, fate decreed that I should spend the next 14 years writing huge symphonic arrangements for the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and around the country – and now show-making with a one-of-a-kind talent in Jesse Luttrell. I just keep answering the phone and doing what it tells me.

Jesse Luttrell performing at Feinstein's/54 Below7. If you had to describe each other with one song being featured in the show, what song would each of you use to describe the other?

Jesse Luttrell: HAH! Penniless Bums! from the Jule Styne musical SUGAR: "see how two melody masters suffer a string of disasters just to become two penniless bums..."

Fred Barton: "Live Till I Die." Now don’t get me wrong – neither of us has a death wish, or any expectation of rolling over with our legs in the air anytime soon (at least dead.) But that song is the kingmaker of Jesse’s first set, and it captures how we feel about performing: no half-way, no sorta, no kinda, no crushingly restrained holding back in search of suffocating chimerical faux-sophistication (only a faux-sophisticate like me could use the phrase "suffocating chimerical faux-sophistication"). Judy Garland used to say, "I’m going to go out there and give ‘em Two Hours Of POW." We like POW. "Before your number’s up, fill your cup, live till you die." Jesse conveys that song’s message big-time.

8. With the concert being called SHOWSTOPPER what do you feel is the biggest "showstopper" of your own career thus far?

Jesse Luttrell: The biggest "Showstopper" of my career so far has been taking the leap by quitting my job and pouring all my money and effort into developing my solo act. I've always had the best results by painting myself into a corner -  it's really the only way to make things happen in showbusiness.

Fred Barton: Having the New York Pops at Carnegie play a huge arrangement I created, and playing the piano for it center stage. The place absolutely came apart, and conductor Steven Reineke called me out to stand center stage for many bows. I thought, "Wow, Judy Garland stands center stage at Carnegie. Me? Who am I, anyway, am I my resumé?" (Answer: YES!) And the other was my one-man show Miss Gulch Returns, which started as my personal club act in 1983, and is still selling CDs and being produced in theatres around the country these 35 years later.

Fred Barton, Photo Credit: Kevin Yatarola9. After the show is over, what is the first thought that goes through your head?

Jesse Luttrell: I know this is weird, and maybe a little too meta, but I'm totally deaf to applause...Like- I hear it but I can never tell if it was a golf clap or if they really liked it - so after the show my first thought is "did they clap" and my friends are always like "shut up, you're stupid.." Then we run to the bar.

Fred Barton: "Do I need a coat to go smoke?"

10. I have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now," where I try to clear up misconceptions about people. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourselves that you just want clear up? 

Jesse Luttrell: Hopefully this isn't too petty....but....I'm compared a lot to Judy and Liza, I think because I have a hearty spin in my voice - but I don't do it to try to sound like anyone - it's my natural voice. There are videos of me as a little kid singing at the top of my lungs with almost the same voice I have now (except in a different octave of course lol). Judy always said "be the first rate version of yourself not the second rate version of someone else." I like me..imma do me. Anyone who says I do otherwise doesn't know me or my work and should stay home and download my album from itunes or my website  (end of shameless plug).

Fred Barton: I don’t flatter myself that anyone gives me enough thought to have misconceptions, but since my earliest years, I know I can strike people as elite and condescending. It’s actually self-imposed perfectionism, and I know it’s not always fun to be around, but it’s no fun for me either – but if you’re not going to be as close to perfect and brilliant and fabulous as anyone could possibly be in this life, and communicate and inspire insights to and within people to the best of yours or anyone else’s abilities, what are you doing on the stage?

Jesse Luttrell, Photo Credit: Christopher BoudewynsMore on Jesse:

Jesse Luttrell has quickly become one of the most in-demand young concert artists in New York and around the country. He starred in the critically acclaimed musical revue BAWDY, which ran in New York City for an unprecedented 6 years. Jesse regularly headlines with award-winning Broadway stars in "American Showstoppers," the acclaimed concert series at New York’s Schimmel Center and on tour. His critically acclaimed debut album is featured on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby, and is being streamed daily to countless fans around the world. Before pursuing a solo career, Jesse began as a ballet dancer and trained on full scholarship with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and The Rock School/Pennsylvania Ballet. He then made the switch to musical theatre, and toured the country starring in a variety of roles including the "Pharaoh" in Joseph And The Technicolor Dream Coat, the "Emcee" in Cabaret, "Frank-n-Furter" in The Rocky Horror Show, and multiple roles in Cats, Peter Pan, 42nd Street, Meet Me in St Louis, Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun, West Side Story, Evita, and Carousel.

Fred Barton, Photo Credit: Rick StockwellMore on Fred:

Fred Barton just completed a 563-performance run as pianist, musical director, arranger, and actor in the hit off-Broadway show Spamilton, also music-supervising the recent Chicago and Los Angeles productions. His orchestrations are played regularly by the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall and major symphonies around the country. On Broadway and national tour, Fred conducted Anthony Quinn in Zorba, Hal Prince’s production of Cabaret, Cy Coleman’s City of Angels and Robert Goulet in Camelot. Fred debuted as the original arranger/pianist for Forbidden Broadway, and created the book, music and lyrics for his 1983 one-man show Miss Gulch Returns! (Back Stage Bistro Award), still produced by theaters nationwide. TV credits (composer and/or arranger): HBO’s Cathouse: The Musical, Olivia, Wonder Pets!, Eureeka’s Castle, and The Magic School Bus (Emmy Award.) Fred has produced and arranged numerous CDs, including Jesse Luttrell’s debut album. The "American Showstoppers" concert series with the Fred Barton Orchestra, top Broadway performers, and the best Golden Age Broadway songs, just completed its fifth year.


Call Redialed: Will and Anthony Nunziata: "The New Classics" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Will and Anthony Nunizata, Photo Credit: Michael Kushner PhotographyThe boys are back! Will and Anthony Nunziata are starting the New Year off with the debut of their concert The New Classics at Feinstein's/54 Below. From Rodgers & Hammerstein and Billy Joel to Sinatra and Adele, The New Classics is an unforgettable evening of music and laughs where everything sounds new and always feels familiar, with hits like "Unchained Melody," "New York State of Mind," Adele’s "Someone Like You," "The Prayer," as well as brand-new soulful original tunes.

Come start your New Year off with the timeless songs of then and now. The New Classics will be premiering at Feinstein's/54 Below on Saturday, January 13 at 9:30pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Will and Anthony be sure to visit and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

1. On January 13, you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with a brand-new, one night only concert, The New Classics. What should excite fans about this upcoming concert? 

Will: We are going to be premiering fresh arrangements of classic Broadway songs and standards, but what I’m most excited about is our debut of original songs that I think the audience is going to really dig.

Anthony: I am excited for our fans to hear our original soulful pop music we’ve been working on this past year!

2. What makes you nervous about this upcoming concert?

Will: Nervous? I’m excited!

Anthony: I hope Will remembers his lyrics! 🤭

3. What song are you each excited to debut?

Anthony: "Will You Be My Everyday," an original song I composed with Jeff Franzel and Tom Kimmel.

Will: "Love Is Love Is Love" - one of Anthony’s original songs that he wrote with Jeff Franzel.

Will and Anthony Nunzaita4. This concert is described as an unforgettable evening of music and laughs. In putting this concert together, what song, that you will perform as a duet, just makes you laugh non-stop during rehearsal?

Will: I would say "You’re Nothing Without Me" from the musical City of Angels - it’s a fantastic melody by Cy Coleman with extremely witty lyrics by David Zippel.

Anthony: Ditto. This is such a fun song. It’s so clever and I try my best to make Will laugh when we sing it. And usually he breaks, so this is always a fun moment in our concerts. 

5. Since the concert is called The New Classics, what original songs of yours do you hope will become "New Classics"?

Will: All of them! :)

Anthony: My goal is that the songs sound familiar and have a timeless melody and lyrics, saying something familiar in a way that has never been said quite that way. That’s always the goal. I have been fortunate to work with collaborators who have written for major pop stars and classical crossover artists, and I’ve learned so much from them.

Anthony and Will Nunziata performing, Photo Credit: Walter McBride6. Over the past few years, you have been expanding your repertoire to include songs like Adele's "Someone Like You" and Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind." What made you want to bring these songs into your concerts as opposed to keeping the shows to songs from the American Songbook and Broadway?

Will: I’m really interested in exploring songs like this that I consider part of the canon of "The New American Songbook."

Anthony: The goal is to take a "new" approach to music  — with those two songs, the idea came from the lyrics telling two distinct stories yet there is a common emotion of yearning and from that common thread Tedd Firth and myself arranged the mashup to tell a "new" story - and as always, the goal is to tap into people’s deepest emotions and have them connect with something within their own lives while listening.

7. You are currently working on another full length CD which will feature original songs as well as fresh takes on timeless classics. What can you tell us about this upcoming album?

Anthony: We will be releasing the album sometime in 2018!

Will: Stay tuned!

Anthony and Will Nunziata, Photo Credit: Michael Kushner Photography8. Since this concert is taking place at the start of 2018, what are some of your goals for the new year?

Anthony: To continue to create music that connects... 

Will: To continue to be kind, patient, and grateful.

9. One classic song you almost always perform is "The Prayer." What do you pray for as we begin 2018?

Will: Peace and love.

Anthony: Love, peace and hope.

10. What is something about you both that would make your fans' jaws drop with an "OMG" reaction?

Will: I think they seem to enjoy when we get into a tiff. We are very different, and thus the bickering sometimes. But I’m grateful that at the end of the day we are loving and respectful for one another... and that Anthony knows I’m usually right. :)

Anthony: Oh, Will.

Will and Anthony Nunziata, Photo Credit: Mchael Kushner PhotographyMore on Will and Anthony:

Over the past 5 years Will & Anthony Nunziata have performed over 300 concerts and outreach programs across the country headlining major performing arts centers, theaters and symphony concert halls. The renowned singers, songwriters, Netflix-bound comedians and Carnegie Hall Headliners are the Brooklyn- born, classically trained singing and comedy brother duo hailed by The Huffington Post as "a nearly impossible pairing of talent, stage presence and charisma." They recently headlined Carnegie Hall for two sold-out concerts with the New York Pops Symphony Orchestra.

The brothers have brought their distinct take on classic & contemporary songs to performing arts centers and theaters, as well as intimate cabaret venues and symphony concerts with orchestras such as the New York Pops, Detroit Symphony, Cleveland Pops, Colorado Symphony, Lancaster Symphony, Annapolis Symphony, Cape Cod Symphony, Toledo Symphony, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. The brothers studied music, acting and directing at Boston College, and trained in improv comedy at the famed Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City.

The two will be featured in the upcoming Netflix comedy The Last Laugh starring Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss to be released in 2018.

Featured on Good Morning America and The Rachael Ray Show, Will & Anthony are most proud of their "ARTS MATTER!" Educational Outreach Initiative and Master Class Workshops that educate and inspire students to fearlessly pursue their passions.

Will is an acclaimed stage director and Anthony an emerging songwriter whose original songs are featured on the brothers’ EP The Gift Is You and upcoming album that will include fresh takes on timeless classics as well as originals.


Call Answered: Conference Call: Tom Gualtieri & David Sisco: "Departures: The Songs of Gualtieri & Sisco" at Feinstein's/54 Below

David Sisco (left) and Tom Gualtieri (right), Photo Credit: Jonathan BellerI was so excited when I found out Tom Gualtieri & David Sisco were going to be presenting an evening of their music at Feinstein's/54 Below this coming January! I have known Tom for a few years, but have yet to experience Tom & David's work together, so when the opportunity came up to interview them, I was eager to hit every note & learn about this dynamic duo! After interviewing Tom & David, I'm really looking forward to hearing their music.

Departures: The Songs of Gualtieri & Sisco will play Feinstein's/54 Below on Wednesday, January 10 at 9:30pm. Click here for tickets! 

For more on Tom & David visit,, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become composer/lyricist?

David Sisco: For me it was melding my love of classical music with the American Songbook and popular music. Our diverse interests made us oddly right for each other as a composer/lyricist team.

Tom Gualtieri: I’ve always been drawn to storytelling whether it was through acting, directing, or writing. And with my love of all kinds of music – classical, pop, opera, standards and contemporary - the addition of lyric-writing seemed a natural progression.

2. How did you come to work together?

David Sisco: We met in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in 2003. The first two years of the Workshop are driven by exercises designed to expose theatre writers to all the facets of dramatic songwriting: structure, storytelling etc. Through each assignment, writers meet potential collaborators.

Tom Gualtieri: David and I were paired for one of the oldest exercises in the Workshop: we had to write a song for Willy Loman in an imagined, musical version of DEATH OF A SALESMAN - a notoriously difficult exercise because parody was not allowed. The songs had to be legit.

David Sisco: There were some beautiful songs written by the writers of the Workshop, but it is a daunting exercise.

Tom Gualtieri: We discovered that we had a similar musical sensibility and loved the same types of music and drama. We favor innovative and intellectually stimulating musicals but also appreciate what would have been called "musical comedy" back in the day.

3. On January 10, you are returning to Feinstien's/54 Below with a new collection of music, Departures: The Songs of Gualtieri & Sisco. What excites you about this upcoming concert?

Tom Gualtieri: We've set aside two projects in the last couple of years and we didn't want to go an entire year without working as we search for a new one. We decided to put our energy into practicing the most important part of our collaboration: the actual writing of songs. We made it a goal this year to examine contemporary and pop forms and filter them through dramatic storytelling. So, the songs in Departures are a hybrid.

David Sisco: Also different from our previous concert is that many of these songs were initiated by talking about our personal experiences. Because of that, I think the audience will get to know us even better as writers and individuals. 

Tom Gualtieri: I should add that we are also excited to be working with Laura Josepher again. She’s directed all of our past projects and she seems to understand our work. She asks the right questions. She holds our feet to the fire when necessary and praises us when - IF - it’s appropriate.

David Sisco: Any opportunity to work with Laura is a blessing. We think she's one of the best unsung directors in the business so we're lucky to have her.

David SIsco (left) and Tom Gualtieri (right), Photo Credit: Jonathan Beller4. What do you think will surprise fans about these new songs?

Tom Gualtieri: The people who are familiar with our work know us best for traditional theatre songs. We've been bringing our voice to traditional styles and forms since we started our collaboration, but now we've had a great shift toward contemporary, musical landscapes.

David Sisco: We're not giving up our classical and traditional influences, but we're also trying find this new facet of our voice.

Tom Gualtieri: In "the old days" - that is, the golden age of musical theatre - popular music and theatre music were the same. Some of the great standards come from musical theatre. After a long dry spell, musical theatre has entered a new golden age - and we think that's partly due to the crossover appeal of contemporary musical theatre.

David Sisco: Our fans may be surprised that many of the songs in Departures are heavily influenced by pop structure.

5. Since this concert celebrates and skewers contemporary life & relationships, what has been the best part about working together and the most challenging part?

Tom Gualtieri: David and I work well together - we've got a shorthand after 14 years of collaboration - but no matter how at ease we are as a team, it's still tricky to tell your collaborator, "I'm not crazy about this or that idea."

David Sisco: We are mindful of the effort we each put into our work, but we haven't got time to get married to anything we've written…

Tom Gualtieri: If it needs to change, we change it. Writing is a process of rewriting, after all.

David Sisco: And because of that, we are pretty merciless self-editors. The most important thing is the work itself. There's a 'just do it' attitude that helps us as we look toward the ultimate goal: writing good songs.

Tom Gualtieri: We're tremendous fans of each other's work so that makes it easy - most of the time. Haha!

Tom Gualtieri (left) and David Sisco (right) at Feinstein's/54 Below6. Press notes also state these songs in the January 10 concert explore the intersection between compelling storytelling & exciting musical form to create a dynamic cycle of songs/ What do you feel makes a song compelling & exciting?

Tom Gualtieri: All genres have unique qualities that are compelling in one way or another. With pop music, many people don't listen to the lyrics but for me, a song is most exciting when it reveals something through a combination of music AND lyrics. An exceptionally "hooky" song might be spoiled by rotten lyrics and on the opposite side, great lyrics can go unnoticed if the song isn't musically compelling. Artists like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor write gorgeous lyrics but more current writers like Ed Sheeran and Sara Bareilles also bring tremendous intelligence to the table and still create hook-driven, emotionally rich work.

David Sisco: For me, it's the specificity of the lyric and music, which Tom is hinting at, that make me want to listen to a song more than once. Songs (in any genre) than can walk the tightrope of neither being overly poetic or too on-the-nose - that make the listener fill in the blanks, getting them emotionally invested in the storytelling - excite me the most.

7. I love that you are collaborating with book writer Michael Zam (FX Feud) on a project. What, if anything, can you tell us about this piece?

David Sisco: We are adapting Henry James' THE WINGS OF THE DOVE. Tom brought this to me years ago but we kept getting distracted by other ideas. Most recently we decided, after setting aside two projects, that it was time for us to let someone else do the adaptation. Tom and Michael have known each other for years and we proposed it to him. He's a brilliant guy and he came up with a thrilling concept for this.

Tom Gualtieri: Something that's not been done before in a musical.

David Sisco: We are excited and even a little impatient to get started. There's a tremendous amount of research involved and late James is challenging....

Tom Gualtieri: It ain't beach reading. But THE WINGS OF THE DOVE is a beautiful story with fascinating characters and gorgeous settings - London and Venice at the turn of the century - so it will transport us to another world.

Call Me Adam and "Feud" writer Michael Zam8. Since Michael was a writer on the hit FX series Feud, if you had to write one original song to sum up the series, what would you call it and what would be just a few lyrics?

Tom Gualtieri: Haha - we are SO INSANE right now that trying to answer this question is like putting a straw on the back of a camel that has walked through the Sahara without water. But off the top of my head, I'd write a song based on something Bette once said, "Old Age Ain't No Place for Sissies."

9. What do you hope this new year brings for you with regards to your music?

Tom Gualtieri: We love writing something that makes a singer WANT to sing and we hope that continues to happen. We're also incredibly excited to get started on THE WINGS OF THE DOVE.

David Sisco: Writing for this concert has also challenged us to write faster and, we think, helped our actual writing process evolve, which is a pretty neat trick after all these years. We look forward to continuing that conversation as we work on new projects.

Tom Gualtieri: More than anything, we want to share our work. All of the songs from this concert will be available online when the sheet music is finished and proofed. So we hope people will use our work for auditions, cabaret, and concerts.

David Sisco, Photo Credit: Roberto AraujoTom Gualtieri, Photo Credit: Rob Sutton10. If you had to select one of your songs to describe today's climate, which song would best represent where we are at politically & socially? Then, which of your songs would you say provides hope?

Tom Gualtieri: So, there are two pieces here: the social and the political. The political climate today is detrimental to everyone's health.

David Sisco: And we’re not just talking about the news coming out of Washington, but also the social messages we are getting from elected leaders.

Tom Gualtieri: One of the ways artists can affect change is by taking up the issue of diversity in our industry.

David Sisco: We get frustrated when theatre pieces, which are not specifically about issues of race, sexual identity, or those with perceived disabilities, are cast in ways that do not reflect diversity nor draw from the enormous pools of talent which remain underrepresented.

Tom Gualtieri: Those are huge subjects to tackle and our writing tends to focus in on individuals and their personal experiences. There are two songs in our upcoming concert which capture small aspects of the anger and anxiety that buzzes through our culture right now: "My Call to Fly" is about finding your inner strength in the face of cynicism, and "Compared to You Blues" is a comic song about the negative effects of social media.

David Sisco: We think our most hopeful song is a non-political one called "Morning, Love." It's a deeply personal song about looking for love - looking for that one person you know is out there waiting for you and feels the same way. In these most-troubled times, we need love. Maybe now more than ever.

Tom Gualtieri (left) and David Sisco (right), Photo Credit: Jonathan BellerMore on Tom & David:

Tom Gualtieri and David Sisco began their collaboration at the BMI Musical Theater Workshop in 2003. Their first musical Falling to Earth, has been developed through the Syracuse University New Play Workshop and The York Theatre Developmental Reading Series. They have provided material for We Are the Song, sponsored by the After The Storm Foundation, which offers assistance to the youth of post-Katrina New Orleans. Currently, they're working on a new musical entitled I'm Afraid, You're Afraid: 448 Reasons to Fear And Why. Tom and David are the recipients of a grant from the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust and their songs have been featured in various cabarets and concerts. In addition to their writing partnership, they appear on stage together in David’s multi-award-winning comedies BAIT n’ SWISH. They have also led seminars and workshops on a variety of topics, and were featured lecturers and performers at the 2011 MTNA/NATS Conference.



Call Answered: Sarah Naughton: "Trapped In The Closet" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Sarah Naughton performing "Trapped In The Closet" at Feinstein's/54 BelowGrowing up I was obsessed with "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Stuck in the Closet with Vanna White" off his Even Worse album. When I was older, I hid in the closet myself because I wasn't ready to admit I was gay. I have finally embraced my gayness & love looking at closets to see how they are set up. Now, I get to go inside Sarah Naughton's closet for a revealing look at her show Trapped In The Closet which will be at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Saturday, December 2 at 9:30pm! Click here for tickets!

Trapped In The Closet is a wildly imaginative journey inside her bedroom closet-turned-recording studio as she shares tales from the unsung world of audiobook narration and reveals some of the most ridiculous books she has ever been paid to read out loud! Trapped In The Closet features music from Broadway favorites (9 to 5, Sunday in the Park With George, Avenue Q, and Spring Awakening) as well as original music written with her music director and collaborator, Jake Weinstein. Also featuring special guest Vishal Vaidya (Groundhog Day).

For more on Sarah be sure to visit and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My mom! Patty Naughton is an excellent pianist and musician. As a kid she would teach me songs from old Broadway musicals and we would play and sing together. Those were some of my favorite times. And I cultivated a real love of musical theatre that way. Plus I've been a ham since day one, so becoming a professional performer has always kind of been a no-brainer.

2. On December 2 you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with your show Trapped In The Closet. What are you looking forward to most about this return engagement? The return engagement has given me and Jake (Weinstein, my collaborator) a chance to fine tune the show. We're debuting some new material that I'm really excited to share. One medley in particular is going to blow people's socks off!!

3. Trapped In The Closet takes audiences inside your bedroom closet-turned-recording studio as you share tales from the unsung world of audiobook narration. You reveal some of the most ridiculous books you have ever been paid to read out loud! How did you initially get into audiobook recording? There was, and still is I believe, an audiobook production company in my home town of Syracuse, New York called Full Cast Audio that produces beautiful audiobooks. They cast a different actor to play each character, and score the books with music. They're incredible. And they were producing a book called Gilbert and Sullivan Set Me Free by Kathleen Karr that was about a women's prison putting on a production of The Pirates of Penzance. And they were looking for singers! So I auditioned. And they cast me in a small role ("Rachel," the prostitute) but also had me sing "Poor Wandering One." After that I recorded a couple more books at Full Cast, which gave me a few credits on my resume by the time I was down in New York and reaching out to places like Audible. So I actually got into audiobooks via singing!

Sarah Naughton4. What do you like about this world as opposed to performing on a stage? Unlike my first book at Full Cast Audio, with the books I record in my closet, I read the entire thing myself. But that means I get to play every character in the story! Roles I would never get to play like grandfathers and Russian mobsters. So that's really fun. I get to be in charge of every element of the story.

5. What is one book you didn't get to record that you wish you did? Oh I've auditioned for so many great books I didn't get. There was one recently called Hap and Hazard at the End of the World by Diane DeSanders about a family in Texas after World War II that looked great. But didn't go my way. That's the biz!

6. Since the show is called Trapped In The Closet, when has there been a time you have felt like you were "Trapped In The Closet"? How did you break free? The title, "Trapped In The Closet," refers to the work I do narrating romance novels under a pseudonym, and the embarrassment I've felt about bringing such spicy content to life. When I feel like I have to hide this aspect of my work from people I'm literally and figuratively in the closet! But creating and sharing this show has put me back in the driver's seat. Telling my story gives me a real sense of ownership about it and allows me to break free.

Sarah Naughton7. If you could create your dream closet, what would it look like? I love this question! It would be a nice size, comfortable to stand and walk around in, but still small enough so it would be easy to control the sound quality. It would be packed with twinkle lights. Mine has some. But if I had my way it would look like the Rock Center Christmas tree in there. And I'd have some plants, maybe for the oxygen, and some color. And a really comfy chair!

8. What was the best part about performing on The View? What was the most intimidating? The audience was so supportive and awesome when I performed on The View. My parents were there, and before the show the warm-up comic made my Dad read aloud a page from 50 Shades of Gray (it was really hot at the time). So I think that really won the audience over before I even went out there. But the whole thing was super intimidating. It was set up American Idol style so I did 90 seconds of stand up and then got feedback from the ladies of The View! They were, let's say, very honest. And I was just starting out writing standup, so at the time I was bummed that they didn't love me, but in retrospect they gave me really good advice and I learned a lot.

Sarah Naughton9. I know you love living in NYC, so what are some of your favorite things to do? Living in NYC is truly the best. Going out to eat is, I think, life's greatest pleasure. It gets pricey to do a lot. But going out with friends every so often is the best treat. I love The Smith and Kashkaval Gardens. I love New York's parks! We have so many great ones: Central Park, Riverside, Madison Square Park. And I love to go to the theatre of course. Broadway shows, downtown theatre, improv shows, I love it all! I especially love me an immersive experience! Sleep No More. A Third Rail Projects show. Maybe because I'm a performer myself, but I love being a part of the action. Also New York has some sick fitness options. I recently got Classpass and it's so cool! I've gotten to try out a lot of awesome workouts. Title Boxing, Mile High Run Club, and Aerial Yoga at Crunch were some of my favorites.

10. What are your top 5 take-out places to order food from? LOVE this question. I live for this question.

Now I live in Astoria so this is very neighborhood specific BUT:

1. Pizza (my #1 favorite food) - TIE between Retro Pizza (my corner mom and pop shop) and Rizzo's (which is just sick good)

2. Sushi - Pink Nori (beyond bomb)

3. Comfort Food - Sanford's (they have a pecan crusted chicken salad that makes a burger seem healthy by comparison but is so good)

4. Healthy (when I have to) - Create

5. Thai - Three E Taste of Thai

Sarah NaughtonMore on Sarah:

Sarah Naughton is a singer, actress, and Audie-nominated audiobook narrator living in New York. Some favorite credits include: New York Theatre: Death Comes for the War Poets (The Sheen Center) Romeo and Juliet (Lincoln Center - Clark Studio Theater), Diamond Alice (Roundabout Underground), and Summer and Smoke (Access Theatre). Regional Theatre: Mame (Human Race Theater Co), AcousticaElectronica (A.R.T. Oberon), and Meet Me In St. Louis (Mt. Gretna Playhouse). Sarah has narrated over 70 audiobooks which are all available on Additionally, Sarah is a comedy veteran and has performed stand-up on ABC’s The View as well as at major NYC venues such as New York Comedy Club, Stand Up NY, and The PIT. Sarah is also a member of the immersive dance theater company called toUch performance art and she works as a supporting artist for CO/LAB theater group, a non-profit organization that has been providing individuals with developmental disabilities a creative and social outlet through theater arts since 2011. Sarah holds a BFA from NYU Tisch and is a proud member of Actors' Equity. 


Call Redialed: Maxine Linehan: "One: The Songs of U2" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Maxine Linehan, Photo Credit: Emma MeadeMaxine Linehan has one of the most beautiful voices I've heard! The minute I was introduced to Maxine, I fell in love with her. From U2's "One" to Martina McBride's "In My Daughter's Eyes" to Petula Clark's "Downtown," Maxine really knows how to put her stamp on a song. She makes them sound like they were written just for her! 

It's been two years since my last interview with Maxine, so believe me, it's wonderful to catch up with her as she readies to hit the Feinstein's/54 Below stage this fall with her show One: The Songs of U2The extraordinary songs written by Bono and U2 find a new voice in a concert that holds to the beautiful melodies, while bringing the lyrics forward into a fresh light. Accompanied by piano, cello, violin, bass, and drums, Maxine will continue her mission of providing audiences with the unexpected experience of hearing U2's famous songs as if for the first time - while staying true to the heart and soul of each time-honored hit.

One: The Songs of U2 will be play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on September 15 & October 13Click here for tickets!

For more on Maxine be sure to visit and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

1. It's so great to catch up with you! Last time we chatted was in 2015 when you were releasing your album Beautiful Songs. What do you feel has changed the most for you in the past two years since we last spoke? I love chatting with you Adam, and spinning with you! Beautiful Songs was an exciting project and the album has been so well received, beyond my expectations - it even became a top 10 pick by USA Today. That album and show was really the catalyst for what has become a wonderful concert career. The next show we created was What Would Petula Do?, my tribute to Petula Clark. It has travelled the county and last year we took it to Paris’ famed Théâtre du Châtelet where it sold out. At that performance we recorded a live album with an incredible Parisian orchestra which will be released in the Fall.

Beautiful Songs also features U2’s "One," which was the first time I had recorded or performed a U2 song, and that led to my asking the question, "Are there more U2 songs that could be given this treatment?" Turns out there were!

2. Now, you are getting ready to return to Feinstein's/54 Below with your show One: The Songs of U2. What made now the right time to perform this show? The songs written by Bono and U2 are extraordinary. Many of my fans who have heard me sing The American Songbook are not too familiar with the songbook of the boys from Dublin. Bringing that music to a different audience has been very exciting. We performed the show for the first time as concert with many performers and a fundraiser for BCEFA, and the response really surprised me. The audience fell in love with the profound lyrics combined with the beautiful new orchestrations. As I developed the show further, I found new meaning and emotion in these classic songs. Bono doesn’t write fluff, he’s one of the greatest lyricists of our time, and when you shine a light on his lyrics they are very powerful. It’s amazing to me that songs they wrote in the 1980’s about war, about taking care of each other, are more relevant today than ever! Our world is chaotic right now and to come together with music, spreading words of love and forgiveness is essential.

3. Let's go back to the beginning for a moment. When did you become a U2 fan? What was it about that particular song/time that made you go, this is a group, I will like for years to come? Growing up in Ireland it was easy to become a U2 fan. As a nation, we are exceedingly proud of these four Irish men who changed the face of music. Of course today it’s not only their music that is extraordinary, it’s also the longevity. I just saw The Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour and they are as exciting and relevant today as they were 30 years ago! As I mentioned, recording "One" on Beautiful Songs was a tipping point. The potency of that song performed live is outstanding.

4. How long did it take you to create this show...from idea to inception? The show developed from a group concert to a solo show over a two year period. I have collaborated with Scott Siegel (Director) and Ryan Shirar (Music Director) on all my concerts and together I believe we’ve created something very unique with this show.

5. What was the hardest part about putting this show together and what was the most fun? The hardest part was selecting the songs. With such a vast and brilliant songbook, it was very difficult to select just 14 or 15 songs. The most fun for me was hearing Ryan’s orchestrations played by some of my favorite musicians for the first time. I was reduced to tears. Tears of joy!

Maxine Linehan6. With U2's immense catalog of music, how did you narrow down which songs you wanted to perform? Well, as I said, it was the most challenging part. However, I need to sing songs that resonate with me on a deep personal level so that was a helpful way to narrow down the song choices. I don’t think I can bring anything new or interesting to "Mysterious Ways" or "Lemon," but I sure do connect with "One" and "Bad!"

7. For those who are big U2 fans, why should they come to see you sing their music? How do you think you'll win them over? As some critics have said, it’s U2 like you’ve never heard them before. I’m no Bono, no one ever will be! With all my tribute shows I’m very careful to interpret, not impersonate. I take these incredible U2 songs and present them through my voice, my experiences and my emotions.

One of the things I find most remarkable about the reception this show has received is the support of diehard U2 fans! When I see these fan clubs and social media groups talk about how much they love my interpretations it validates me. I’m so grateful to all the U2 fans for that support.

8. How do you feel your musical style or interpretation of music is similar to theirs to make you a premiere interpreter? Deep, compelling lyrics are my favorite. Connecting with an audience through the great lyrics of a song is one of the most powerful experiences a singer can have. U2 has always done that, and I continue to strive to do that with every song I sing.

Maxine Linehan9. One of my favorite U2 songs is "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." What is something you are still searching for? I find great joy in interpreting songs, from Gershwin to U2 and everything in between. The next chapter for me is about finding my own original voice. Songs that come from me. I have started to explore what that is and next year I will be teaming up with some remarkable writers to help me find that voice. So stay tuned!

10. Another one of their songs is "Last Night On Earth." If this was your last night on earth, how would you spend it? Sitting around the fire pit in my back garden with my husband and children, sipping wine and listening to U2!

11. If, during one of your shows, Bono jumped up and said, let's sing a duet together, your choice. Which song would you choose? "One." No contest! After I picked myself up off the floor of course!

Maxine LinehanMore on Maxine:

International concert and recording artist Maxine Linehan has been hailed as an incredible talent by the thousands of audiences who have witnessed her performances. Maxine made her Paris debut at Théâtre du Châtelet with the wildly acclaimed What Would Petula Do?, a tribute to Petula Clark. As a concert performer she has enraptured crowds in venues large and small, from New York’s Lincoln Center and The Town Hall, to Feinstein’s/54 Below and Birdland, to cities across America. Her ability to emotionally engage throughout a stunning vocal performance is unparalleled.

Her solo show An American Journey, a story of immigration told through song, sold out its New York City run, and led to a live album. Maxine's show Beautiful Songs (and album of the same name) also had a sold out run and received rave reviews from The New York Times, USA Today and The Huffington Post.

The most recent addition to her three albums, Beautiful SongsWhat Would Petula Do?, and An American Journey, is a single of U2’s "One." A live album of What Would Petula Do? at Théâtre du Châtelet drops in the Spring of 2017.

A Barrister by training, Linehan studied at The Inns of Court School of Law in London, The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and is a member of Actors’ Equity.  She lives in Vermont and New York City with her husband and two children.