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Entries in "Follies" (3)

Sunday
Apr082012

Kurt Peterson and Victoria Mallory: When Everything Was Possible

Kurt Peterson as "Tony" and Victoria Mallory as "Maria" in the Lincoln Center Broadway revival of "West Side Story"Hal Prince, Victoria Mallory, Kurt Peterson in "Follies", Photo Credit: Van WilliamsFrom 1966-1974, Kurt Peterson and Victoria Mallory were creating theatrical history during this golden age of theatre. They would then not speak for 35 years. Reuniting for one night only, April 29, 2012, at New York City Center in "When Everything Was Possible," this is the story of Victoria Mallory and Kurt Peterson in the present but also the story of New York, 1966 -’74, the last gasp of the golden age of the American Musical, when everything was possible. Following their inner music, two kids came to the biggest city in the world and went to work. They didn’t want to be famous - they wanted to be good. Along the way they sang for Noel Coward, with Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein; hung out with Liz and Dick; sat in the Oval Office and the Apollo capsule; flew the Lunar Lander and crashed on the faux surface of the Moon. And in the summer of ’68, as the world flew apart, these two unknowns held court at the State Theatre at Lincoln Center, captivating audiences as "Tony" and "Maria" in "West Side Story." Together with the talented gangs of "Jets" and "Sharks" they made a statement about the world’s bigotry and violence in a way that only words, music and dance can. They worked, lived, grew close, grew up, made mistakes and finally…parted. 35 years would pass until they would meet again, and they found they still had a few things left to say - and sing.

On, Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 7:30pm at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues), James William Productions and Stephenie Skyllas will present "Kurt Peterson andVictoria Mallory in When Everything Was Possible, A Concert (with comments)" for one night only as a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Click here for tickets!

Victoria Mallory made her Broadway debut when Richard Rodgers and Leonard Bernstein chose her to star as Maria in the first revival of "West Side Story" at Lincoln Center. She went on to play "Lili" in City Center’s revival of "Carnival."  For Harold Prince and Stephen Sondheim,Victoria originated the roles of "Young Heidi" in "Follies" and "Anne Egerman" in "A Little Night Music." She also re-introduced and first recorded Stephen Sondheim songs in "Sondheim - A Musical Tribute" and in "An Evening of Stephen Sondheim" at The Whitney Museum. Victoria has starred in the nation’s major theatres including Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh CLO, St. Louis MUNY Opera, Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars, Kansas City Starlight, Dallas Summer Musicals, Utah’s Pioneer Theatre, and the Irish Rep in NYC, in roles as diverse as "Christine/Carlotta" in "Phantom," "Magnolia" in "Show Boat," "Kate" in "Kiss Me Kate," "Marian" in "The Music Man," "Lily" in "The Secret Garden," "Sarah" in "Guys and Dolls," "Maria" in "The Sound of Music" and "Abigail" in "1776." Television audiences know Victoria as the concert pianist, "Leslie Brooks" from the CBS daytime drama, "The Young and The Restless" and "Dr. Denise Foxworthy" on NBC’s "Santa Barbara." Other TV credits include guest starring roles on "Everwood," "Touched By An Angel," "Promised Land," the female lead in the made-for-television movie "The Unabomber," and three CBS musical specials: "The Emperor’s New Clothes," "Aladdin," and "After Hours." She received an Emmy nomination for "Singin’, Swingin, and All That Jazz." Victoria has been a professional director/choreographer for productions including "The Wizard of Oz," "Joseph…," "Side by Side by Sondheim," and "Yours, Anne," and choreographer for "Oliver,"  "Nuncrackers,"  "Mr. Popper’s Penguins," and "A Village Fable." Victoria is a founding member and teacher at The Voice Studio. Most recently, she was seen in "A Child’s Christmas in Wales" at the Irish Repertory Theatre. Victoria is slated to star in the new Broadway musical, "In the Summer of ’68," in 2013. For more on Victoria be sure to visit http://www.victoriamallory.com.

Kurt Peterson began his career when Leonard Bernstein and Richard Rodgers chose him to play "Tony" in the revival of "West Side Story" at Lincoln Center. On Broadway he starred opposite Angela Lansbury in "Dear World" and created the role of "Young Ben" in Stephen Sondheim’s "Follies." Off-Broadway Kurt starred in "Dames at Sea" and "By Bernstein," and appeared in the Town Hall productions of "Knickerbocker Holiday," "Music in the Air," and "I Married an Angel." Kurt starred opposite Patti LuPone in the Broadway-bound "The Baker’s Wife." He also starred in the highly acclaimed Canadian premiere of "Company" and Rob Marshall’s production of "Side By Side By Sondheim." Kurt was featured in the 75th birthday celebrations "Wall to Wall Sondheim" and "Children & Art" honoring Stephen Sondheim and has performed as a leading man in many productions around the country and in Europe. Kurt and his company, James William Productions (JWP), produced the acclaimed "Sondheim–A Musical Tribute," the first celebration of America’s foremost composer/lyricist, helped launch the NY and London productions of Angela Lansbury’s "Gypsy," produced the live tours of WPIX-TV’s classic children's show "The Magic Garden," and the National Tour of Rob Marshall’s innovative "Side By Side By Sondheim." Recent projects include co-producing the New York productions and National Tour of the Stephen Schwartz family musical "Captain Louie," the Off-Broadway production of the play "Capture Now," directed by Larry Moss, and the BC/EFA benefit "Alone At Last" featuring the music of Ian Herman. JWP is currently represented by the Helen Hayes and Drama Desk Award winning play, "Zero Hour," about theatre legend Zero Mostel, now touring the US andCanada.  In 2013 look for the new musical "In the Summer of '68." Kurt is the owner of New York City’s The Voice Studio, home to more than 300 students and some of Broadway’s greatest teachers and performers. For more on Kurt be sure to visit http://www.jameswillamproductions.com.

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer?

Kurt: Gary Schroeder who played the Prince in a high school production of CINDERELLA in my hometown of Stevens Point, WI. It was the first musical I ever saw. In later years, John Raitt was really my inspiration.

Victoria: My father was a career soldier and band master. I inherited his love of music and grew up inspired by his musianship and discipline. I always wanted to please him. I always knew he was listening. And the slightest sparkle in his eyes let me know I was evolving as a young artist.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? 

Kurt: I would love to work with Adam Guettel. His LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA was brilliant.

Victoria: Meryl Streep. Of course. I also very much look forward to working with my daughter, Ramona Mallory.

3. How did the evening of "When Everything Was Possible Come To Be"? What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? 

Kurt: It began after Victoria and I reunited after a 35 year period of not speaking to each other. During that reunion we discovered we still “got along” and in subsequent meetings we began to feel that our story and our unique perspective as young performers might be of interest to theatre audiences. I hope audiences will come away with an appreciation for the great musicals and talent of that era as well as a heartwarming story of reconnection and friendship.

Victoria: Kurt approached me with the concept. It draws upon a wonderful time in my life. I hope the audience will glimpse, through our reminiscences, what was a remarkable and important time in the history of the American Musical Theatre. And I hope they will agree that the craft demanded of stage performers in that period represented the foundation for a lifetime of artistic expression.

4. What has it been like to work together again? What have you learned from the time apart? 

Kurt: It's been great working with Victoria again and I believe we are both still at the top of our game. As Hal Prince, who will be a Guest of Honor at our concert, said recently, "Victoria Mallory is proof positive that time stands still." And from our time apart we have learned what FOLLIES is all about!

Victoria: Great special fun! In the time apart, I learned that there is a rich and satisfying life to be had outside the theatre. The lessons learned have placed many new colors on my palate.

5. You both have performed for some of the most well known composers in musical theatre history. What does it mean to you to have been able to have this experience? 

Kurt: We are so fortunate and spoiled to have had the opportunities we did. To have had songs written for us and originated roles in such amazing musicals is an honor and a privilige.

Victoria: Few performers...few people...ever have the opportunity to interact with greatness. It changes one forever. It is impossible for me to separate who I am from those experiences of working with true geniuses.

6. What was it like to have been personally chosen by Richard Rogers and Leonard Bernstein to make your Broadway debuts as "Tony" and "Maria" in Lincoln Center Revival of "West Side Story"?

Kurt: For me, it was thrilling and scary; if it were today, I would say "awesome!" The theatre was so huge and the show so important. In fact, when I was in high school I had suggested to my choir teacher that we do WEST SIDE STORY but he told me we couldn't as he, "had no one to sing Tony." So on opening night of WEST SIDE at Lincoln Center I bought him a ticket - next to Richard Rodgers and Leonard Bernstein.

Victoria: Thrilling. A fantasy come true. Even today, I pinch myself when recalling that great and good fortune.

7. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? 

Kurt: In this business a resiliency and knowledge of self is vital. I have learned the value of true craftmanship and that, whether as a performer or a producer, you have to take 100% responsiblity for your own journey and career, have pride in your work and remain true to yourself.

Victoria: I have learned the importance of living in gratitude.

8. What's the best advice you've ever received? 

Kurt: I think it was from my Grandfather, a stonemason, who said, "Whatever it is you love, do it very well."

Victoria: Say Yes to life. Show up. Do the work.

9. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be?

Kurt: In my dream I would be playing opposite my friend Kelli O'Hara in a brilliant and moving new musical - that someone else produces.

Victoria: Future grandbabies.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?

Kurt: I would be FosseBennetRobbins - a drop-dead dancer choreographer.

Victoria: To fly.

Kurt Bonus Questions:

What made you want to move into producing and what made you want to start The Voice Studio? I have always had a business sense and it was natural to segue into producing as a means of allowing me greater opportunities to put forward projects I believed in as good theatre and promote great creative talents. With The Voice Studio I am continuing the legacy of the late Paul Gavert. He taught Victoiora and I at AMDA and we became his first "famous" students. Continuing to foster a home for new talent and craftmanship is important both to me personally and as a means of honoring Paul's legacy.

You produce the tour for one of my favorite TV shows growing up, "The Magic Garden." What made you want to "revive" this show? I was seeing Carol Demas, the original "Genevieve" in THE BAKER'S WIFE and observed a small party she and Paula Janis did as an outreach from their show. The kids were so happy and responsive that I thought why not take their musical stories out to a larger audience? So we did and the show still lives on in their live performaces today.

Victoria Bonus Question:

What was the best part about starring on "Santa Barbara" and "The Young and the Restless"? I loved it. Great variety, great people and steady ever changing work.

Monday
Jan092012

T. Oliver Reid: Do I Love You Interview

I first interviewed T. Oliver Reid last February after his triumphant cabaret show "This Love I Know" at The Metropolitan Room in NYC. Since that time, he's been working on his debut CD "Do I Love You." Now, "Do I Love You" is being released on January 17 and will be available on Amazon.com and iTunes. T. Oliver Reid and I recently chatted about "Do I Love You."

For more on T. Oliver Reid be sure to visit http://www.toliverreid.com/ and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

1. What made you want to release a CD? It's honestly what I've always wanted to do...Record beautiful music. As far back as I can remember, that has been a constant goal. Having a studio recording that can hold the intimacy of being in the same room with the listener is what I hope to have accomplished.

2. How did you come up with the title, concept, and song selection for "Do I Love You?" All of the songs were taken from a show I did last year. There are some different arrangements but the sentiment of finding love/losing love is still there. It's the music of the journey we all seem to have in common while looking for love.

3. What do you hope listeners come away with after hearing your album? A new love for the songs they know and a brand new love for the songs they've not heard before...To see themselves and their stories in the lyrics.

4. What excites you/mean to you to be releasing your debut CD? It's the beginning of a journey that had been postponed. Life took me in a side road but I'm finally back doing what I should be. This music shaped and shapes my life daily. The music of the American songbook is my life long lover.

5. What's your favorite part of the creative process in putting an album together? Every part of making this CD has been grand. Working with Lawrence Yurman, my MD, and figuring out arrangements, getting in the studio and doing scratch tracks and recording the entire CD in two days ( an apparent record for the sound engineer) and being able to create an amazing recording. I found myself in tears a few times at the joy of doing it and the sheer happiness at how wonderful it sounds.

6. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer/recording your CD? The years of watching great and not so great directors, choreographers and music directors were not in vain. I've learned to create and edit my work and what works or doesn't. It's all been part of my journey to becoming a great artist. I hope I'm on my way.

BONUS QUESTION:

7. If you could record a song with anyone, who would you choose? Oof...hard question. So many great voices around but I think it would be someone who really tells a story with the lyric...Argh!!! Audra MacDonald? Kelli O'hara?

Sunday
Jul102011

Jan Maxwell Victory Interview

I first had the privilege of interviewing Jan Maxwell in 2010 while she was in the Tony Award nominated revival of "Lend Me A Tenor" for which she received one of her two Tony Award nominations that season (her second nomination was for her role MTC's "The Royal Family"). Now to get the chance to interview Jan again is a true delight! Her kindness, smartness, and extreme talent really comes through in everything she does! Jan has kept herself busy since our last interview.

Michaela Lieberman as "Cropper" and Jan Maxwell as "Bradshaw", Photo Credit: Stan BarouhJan starred in Second Stage's revival of Arthur Kopit's "Wings" and the Kennedy Center's revival of "Follies" which will be opening on Broadway September 12. Prior to "Follies," Jan can be seen in Potomac Theatre Project's (now called PTP/NYC) production of Howard Barker's "Victory: Choices in Reaction" at The Atlantic Stage 2. According to press notes "Victory: Choices in Reaction" is a comic, bawdy, passionate play set amid the chaos of the Restoration in 1660. Bradshaw, the widow of a Republican intellectual, discovering the fate of her husband’s body, sets out on a journey of personal exploration. Victory is a play about self-knowledge and personal survival in a disorderly and scandalous epoch of English history. "Victory: Choices in Reaction" plays at The Atlantic Theatre's Stage 2 (330 West 16th Street) from July 12-31! Click here for tickets!

1. What attracted you to PTP's production of Howard Barker's "Victory: Choices in Reaction?" Howard Barker has always been one of my favorite playwrights. VICTORY is a play I've wanted to do for a long time. Barker writes very strong, unsympathetic women who struggle with their personal and political lives -- and I find that very rare in playwrighting and that type of role attracts my sensibility.

2. What is it about PTP that has made you want to perform with them so many times? I have done two plays with PTP of Barker's (THE CASTLE, SCENES FROM AN EXECUTION), and also CAMILLE and have had the most rewarding experiences each time with director Richard Romagnoli and the theatre students of Middlebury College. It is remarkable that there is a company like PTP, who do plays they want to do, that are not mainstream, often political. And they have done it for 25 years! It is an incredible feat.

3. What do you get from performing in a straight play that you don't get from performing in a musical? Well, very funny you should ask at this point in time! Here's how it works with me: If I'm doing a musical, I complain that I want something deeper. If I'm doing a play, I complain that I want to have more fun. So I've decided that what I'm best at . . . is . . . complaining.

I guess I find musicals a bit harder; so many people depend on you doing the same thing at the same time every time (because of singing and dancing). In plays I can mix it up a bit -- try different things every night, different line readings, different emotional moments, throw things away. But in a musical, nobody's gonna let you change the tune or kill a crescendo or come up with your own moves -- so I find it a bit more confining.  That being said though, in FOLLIES -- James Moore has been a miracle in that he lets me change things every night and follows me with a 28 piece orchestra! I adore him and feel so lucky to have him as our  music director and conductor.

4. What's the best advice you've ever received? Oh, I've received a lot of great advice. My parents have given me great advice throughout my life. Sometimes I seek it out myself. I have always had a private line I say to myself before I go on stage. I'd tell you what it is, but then I'd have to kill you.

And lately I've been pushing myself in different aspects of my life because I don't want to stop learning. I was feeling a part of me wanted to just relax for awhile and try to do less, but more lucrative work. I had to shake myself out of that mindset, so I started looking for quotes on the word "plateau." Bizarrely, I found a quote that I liked from Bruce Lee, of all people -- "There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you.”

So I've been saying to myself a lot these days, "Go beyond it. 'If it kills you, it kills you.'"

5. What have you learned about yourself from being an actress and what is your favorite part about the profession? That I love to act and that theatre promotes empathy.

6. What keeps you grounded in a profession that sometimes takes others down a dark path? My family, my friends, other actors (we laugh at ourselves a lot).

7. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? I love rehearsals. The possibilities. There's a Duse quote about meeting with the cast for the first time that I love and rather agree with: In these moments, I feel I’m with my family. And sometimes I have the childish illusion that we are hidden there, in the half-light, as if for a conspiracy, a plot, something clandestine and pleasantly dangerous. All the rest is nothing more than noise, chaos, vanity, fatigue and bitterness.

8. Favorite place to practice/rehearse on your own? Upstate at a tiny cabin on a river.

9. Favorite way to spend your day off? Upstate at a tiny cabin on a river.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? The Iron Giant.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. What was the best part about performing in the Kennedy Center's produciton of "Follies?" Hanging with the cast and Michael Kaiser. Truly loving going to work because we had such fun, great people. The entire company, crew, orchestra were wonderful. If you ever get a chance to work at the Kennedy Center, grab it. What initially attracted you to the show? I didn't know the show when it was offered to me. Then I read it and, of course, and loved it. And knowing I was going to be able to sing "COULD I LEAVE YOU," a blistering song that affects me deeply -- I couldn't turn it down.

12. What's your proudest moment so far? Whenever I'm with my son, of course. Any moment with him. I don't know how it happened, but he's a really great guy! I love him truly, madly, deeply and I'm proud to know him.