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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in Music (144)

Monday
Nov042013

Andrea Marcovicci: Moonlight Cocktail Interview

In my first audio interview, "Call Me Adam" chats with award winning cabaret goddess Andrea Marcovicci about celebrating her 65th Birthday with a brand new show Moonlight Cocktail, which kicks off its East Coast tour at Joe's Pub on Monday, November 18 then traveling to the Emelin Theatre, in Mamaroneck, NY (Friday, November 22); The Landmark Theatre in Port Washington, NY (Saturday, November 23); and The Rrazz Room, in New Hope, PA (Sunday, November 24).

Andrea Marcovicci "Moonlight Cocktail", Photo Credit: Daniel ReichertMoonlight Cocktail will have 2 shows at Joe's Pub on Monday, November 18 at 7pm and 9pm, celebrating the bygone era of sophisticated nightlife of dining and dancing. From coast to coast, from large clubs to intimate boites, Andrea will honor those singers that enthralled you like Mabel Mercer, Bobby Short, Julie Wilson, Hildegarde, Portia Nelson, and Billie Holiday featuring such hits as "You Fascinate Me So," "Darling Je Vous Aime Beaucoup," "All in Fun," "Talk of the Town," "Some Other Time," as well as the delicious title song "Moonlight Cocktail." Click here for tickets!

For more on Andrea be sure to visit http://www.andreamarcovicci.com and follow her on Facebook and YouTube!

Part 1: Interview with award winning cabaret goddess Andrea Marcovicci

 

Part 2: Interview with award winning cabaret goddess Andrea Marcovicci

 

Andrea Marcovicci, Photo Credit: Daniel ReichertMore on Andrea:

"Torch singer, spellbinder, heart-breaker" (People) was hailed as the "most Sinatra-like" of the new generation of cabaret performers by Life Magazine. She "has the capacity to caress a song with a warming embrace…Marcovicci steals the heart …the epitome of elegance and showbiz savvy," declared Variety while Stephen Holden wrote in The New York Times, "Andrea Marcovicci has an incandescent enthusiasm and a masterly balance between poignancy and wit."

Andrea continues to entertain sold-out audiences from coast to coast whenever touring her numerous critically acclaimed shows which include the ever popular Marcovicci Sings Movies II, and Andrea’s most requested show, I’ll Be Seeing You…Love Songs of WWII; the delightfully entertaining songbook evenings featuring the music of Frank Loesser, Rodgers & Hart, and Johnny Mercer; as well Andrea’s tribute to her favorite movie star Fred Astaire; Blue Champagne: The History of the Torch SongNo Strings, a journey of life on the road; Smile, which played for four weeks at the Cafe Carlyle in New York; and her latest creation, Moonlight Cocktail, which debuted at Feinstein's at the Nikko.

Andrea Marcovicci, Photo credit: Daniel ReichertAn actress and singer, Andrea began on the daytime television series Love Is A Many Splendored Thing. She debuted on Broadway in Ambassador, the musical adaptation of the novel by Henry James, starring Howard Keel and last appeared on the Great White Way in Frank D. Gilroy’s play Any Given Day with Sada Thompson. Her numerous appearances off-Broadway include the title role in Coco at the York Theatre, The Wedding of Iphigenia, Variety Obit, The Seagull, and as "Ophelia" to Sam Waterston’s Hamlet for Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park. Regionally, she received rave reviews for leading roles in St. Joan, Burn This, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco and her most recent of many appearances at 42nd Street Moon, SF, (where Andrea had previously starred as "Daisy" in On A Clear Day), in the title role of Coco, played to sold-out houses. In Los Angeles, she starred opposite Anthony Newley in Chaplin, portraying all the legendary actor’s wives and in Finian’s Rainbow at Reprise! In Philadelphia Andrea starred in the revival of Lady in the Dark at the Prince Music Theatre. Her film credits include: The Front (nominated for a Golden Globe Award) with Woody Allen, The Hand with Sir Michael Caine, The Stuff with Michael Moriarty, Spacehunter with Peter Strauss, The Canterville Ghost with Sir John Gielgud, Henry Jaglom’s Someone To Love (featuring Orson Welles in his last film appearance), and Jack the Bear, as Danny DeVito’s wife. Her many television appearances include Arli$ for HBO, Cybill, Taxi, Magnum P.I.Hill Street Blues, and Trapper John, M.D. among others as well as numerous made-for-television movies. Her last television guest appearance was as "Sophia" on General Hospital. She recently provided commentary for the DVD release of the movie, Someone to Love, and appeared in "Irene" in Time. Both films were directed by long-time friend, Henry Jaglom.

Andrea Marcovicci, Photo Credit: Daniel ReichertBeginning in 2004 with Andrea’s tribute to Cole Porter, all of Andrea’s CDs have been released through her own label - Andreasong Recordings, Inc. The latest release, Smile, is based upon her recent show. As Time Goes By: The Best of Andrea Marcovicci celebrates over twenty years of solo CDs and includes a twelve-page color booklet. Other titles include a tribute to Frank Loesser, (If I Were a Bell) recorded live at the Oak Room; a studio album of songs associated with Fred Astaire (Andrea Sings Astaire); My Christmas Song for You; and a CD based upon the show, Marcovicci Sings Rodgers & Hart. In addition, the label put out the cast album for Kurt Weill in America, (originally performed at the 92nd Street Y), complete with a 48-page color booklet with extensive liner notes. In addition to Andrea, the cast includes Anna Bergman, Barbara Brussell, Mark Coffin, Chuck Cooper, Jeff Harnar, and Maude Maggart. CDs are available on-line at www.marcovicci.com and CDBaby.com.

Andrea was most honored to usher in the Millennium with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Her concert work includes appearances with the San Francisco Pops, Florida Philharmonic, and Oregon and Ft. Worth Symphonies among others. Her 1993 Carnegie Hall solo debut, backed by the American Symphony Orchestra, was to a sold-out audience. Prior to that, Carnegie Hall commissioned December Songs specifically created for Andrea by Maury Yeston. The concert was then reconceived as a ballet by Lynn Taylor Corbett and premiered with Andrea at The Carolina Ballet in 2002. She was twice invited to return and an additional dance was created for a compilation of standards entitled, Café Marcovicci. Lincoln Center commissioned both her Noel Coward show and her Kurt Weill in America. The latter is the genesis of her later Lyrics & Lyricists’ show. In April of 2005 Andrea played to sold-out houses at the esteemed LICEU Opera House in Barcelona. Andrea’s concert version of I Am Anne Frank, (Lyrics: Enid Futterman / Music: Michael Cohen) most recently performed at UCLA, originally debuted in Los Angeles and was then recorded. Subsequently, it was performed at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center with Stephen Bogardus and at Town Hall in New York with the addition of a new introduction penned by Futterman, and read by a variety of celebrities, giving the work a timeless quality. A commission by the Savannah Music Festival for the centennial celebration of their native son – lyricist Johnny Mercer - led to the creation of Skylark: Marcovicci Sings Mercer which debuted at the Festival and toured nationally.

Andrea Macrovicci, Photo Credit: Daniel ReichertAndrea has returned to Town Hall many times with concerts including I’ll Be Seeing You... Love Songs of WWII, with Chamber Orchestra in two Acts. This show is a recreation of Andrea’s most requested show and has played throughout the country, and in Normandy in recognition of the original ‘Band of Brothers’ who were immortalized by the HBO series. In addition, Andrea’s Birthday Concert at Town Hall in New York celebrated Andrea’s contribution to songwriters, past and present. Guests included three-time Academy award winner, Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) and Grammy award-winner Julie Gold, along with other noted ASCAP composers Francesca Blumenthal, John Bucchino, Craig Carnelia, Babbie Green, Christine Lavin, and Tom Toce. In addition, Andrea’s mother Helen was on hand celebrating her 90th Birthday. To commemorate this event, Andreasong Recordings, Inc. released a compilation CD: As Time Goes By: The Best of Andrea Marcovicci. Her most recent Town Hall outing was Easy to Love, a tribute to Cole Porter, with fellow cabaret singer, Jeff Harnar.

In the spring of 2004 Andrea was invited to help inaugurate a new era at the prestigious Lyrics and Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y in New York as one of their guest Artistic Directors. Over the next four seasons Andrea wrote, directed and starred in Easy to Love, The Lyrics of Cole Porter; the aforementioned Kurt Weill in America; Thanks for the Memories:The Lyrics of Leo Robin; and an examination of the 'standard' post 1965. As a director and writer, Andrea created two Cabaret Concerts for Young Audiences for the New York Cabaret Convention. In addition, Andrea hosted and created a holiday benefit for Symphony Space with a cast including Barbara Brussell, Natalie Douglas, and Jeff Harnar.

Andrea Marcovicci, Photo Credit: Heather Sullivan.Andrea is proud of her long career in nightclubs and cabarets and has had record runs at several venues. Andrea performed for twenty-five years at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel, and more than twenty years at the now defunct Plush Room in San Francisco. In addition Andrea has spent over twenty-five years at the Gardenia in Hollywood. Other clubs include The Rrazz Room in San Francisco, The Colony in Palm Beach, FL., The Cinegrill in Los Angeles, Le Chat Noir in New Orleans, and many others. Her London cabaret debut in 1994 sold out a one-month engagement at the Music Room at Pizza on the Park. Sheridan Morley, theater critic of The Spectator and The International Herald-Tribune, called her "the greatest cabaret star of her generation." Peter Hepple in The Stage and Television Today wrote, "Marcovicci cast her spell, with a voice of supreme tenderness, much rangier than at first appeared, with a thrillingly controlled vibrato, marvelous diction and phrasing that can only come from a skilled actress."

In addition to clubs, Andrea Marcovicci has performed at the White House and brought the intimacy of the small cabaret to numerous theatres and concert halls across the country including: Wolf Trap in Washington, DC, Steppenwolf in Chicago, the Tilles Center and the famed John Drew Theatre, of Long Island; NJPAC in New Jersey; the Grandel in St. Louis; Caramoor in Katonah, NY; the Lyric Theatre in Florida; Bass Hall Performing Arts Center in Ft. Worth, The Brownville Concert Series in Nebraska, the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Vail, CO and many others. In addition Andrea helped Jeff Harnar launch The American Songbook Series at London’s Jermyn Street Theatre. Also known for her remarkable hosting abilities, Andrea has been at the helm of a plethora of events throughout the country including the MAC Awards, the ASCAP Songwriter’s Evening at the Chicago Humanities Festival and twice the New York Nightlife Awards. She was also a guest speaker (along with the President of the Netherlands) at the New York Film Society’s tribute to Sir Michael Caine at Lincoln Center.

Andrea Marcovicci, Photo Credit: Daniel ReichertFor five years Andrea served as a Master teacher for the Cabaret Workshop at the prestigious Perry-Mansfield School in Steamboat Springs, CO and has taught Master Classes on the art form that she so dearly loves across the country including stops in New York, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and San Francisco, among other cities.

Her numerous fundraising efforts have produced everything from building additions to aiding the disenfranchised. She has worked tirelessly for a variety of causes. Just a few of these charitable events include helping underprivileged children, (Reach the World, Variety Arts Telethon, The Youth League), raising funds for much needed medical research, (The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, The James Marshall OCD Foundation) feeding and providing medical care for the homeless and those suffering with AIDS, (MHRA, The Broward Partnership for the Homeless), protecting the environment, (Tree People, Elings Park), and preserving arts organizations and educational opportunities (San Francisco Performing Arts Library, Music Conservatory of Westchester, The Dallas Children’s Theatre).

Andrea Marcovicci, Photo credit: Daniel ReichertAndrea is the recipient of several awards and honors including the 2010 National Honoree of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals, the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s 2007 Mabel Award, and three Lifetime Achievement Awards - honored so by the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs, the Licia Albanese - Puccini Foundation, and by a Bob Harrington Backstage Bistro Award. In recognition of her accomplishments in the arts, Andrea has received honorary degrees from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and the Memphis College of Art. In addition, "The Andrea Marcovicci Suite" at the Algonquin Hotel, dedicated in 2006 on her twentieth anniversary at the Oak Room, contains memorabilia of her work in theatre, film, television, and on the concert stage.

Thursday
Oct242013

Jerick Hoffer/Jinkx Monsoon: The Vaudevillans Interview

Jinkx MonsoonJerick HofferJinkx Monsoon is the alter ego of Jerick Hoffer who was the winner on Season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race on LOGO. He's continuing his New York debut at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC in The Vaudevillians, a musical comedy co-starring composer and musician Major Scales featuring such hit songs as "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" and "Drop It Like It's Hot." The Vaudevillans plays through November 11. Click here for tickets!

For more on Jerick/Jinkx be sure to visit http://www.jinkxmonsoon.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Jinkx Monsoon, Photo Credit: Jose A Guzman Colon Photography1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Simply put, the movie Death Becomes Her. At a young age I saw that movie and said, "I want to do that when I'm grown up!" I didn't know what 'that' meant for me at that time, but now-a-days I just refer to it as the moment I realized I wanted to be Meryl Streep.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Bette Midler, Sarah Silverman, Bernadette Peters, Maria Bamford and...hell, let's say Daniel Radcliffe.

3. How did you come up with your alter ego, Jinkx Monsoon? She's a mix of...well, Better Midler, Sarah Silverman, Bernadette Peters, Maria Bamford, Ha ha, and of course some Lucille Ball, Madeline Kahn, Carol Burnett and then (not JUST cuz she's my namesake) Jennifer Saunders as "Edina Monsoon."

The Vaudevillans at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City4. You are about to make a grand return to The Laurie Beechman Theatre as The Vaudevillians. How did you initially come to create this duo? What is like after all these years to be performing your hit songs again? How did it feel to discover these other artists perform them during your absence? For the Vaudevillians, their whole life is to be on stage, so now-a-days when the outcry for Vaudeville has been deafened by movies and stereos, it's nice to find any theater that will take them in. As for all their songs being stolen...that's kinda bittersweet. On one hand, of course they're upset to find all their music has been ripped off...But it's nice to know that it had such an impact that it has stood the test of time. But like I said, any chance to get on stage in front of a live audience once more? We'll take it!

Joan Rivers and Jinkx Monsoon at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in New York City5. What excites you about returning to perform at The Laurie Beechman Theatre? The staff at the Laurie Beechman get our show....They get  theater. They are as in on the joke as anyone else. This is proved by their expert understanding of not just the ins and outs of our show, but what I've seen at every show I've been to there. The entire staff, from concierge to waiter to house manager to busboy....EVERYONE is there to make sure that you get the most out of your evening, and that you leave the show with a positive, theater-going experience. It's rare to find that these days. But it exists! It's alive and well at The Laurie Beechman Theatre.

6. What does this venue offer that another one might not? Intimacy, with just enough theatrical sensibility to make it "an evening of live entertainment" rather than just "dinner and a show." If that makes any sense. Ha ha.

7. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing The Vaudevillians? A new found respect for "the classics"...Meaning, these are songs we all know and love, but presented in a traditional sense. I think the best way of summing up our show is by stating, over the last century, so much has changed, and yet so little.

Jinkx Monsoon, RuPaul, and Major Scales8. You were on Season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race. What went through your head when you found out you were going to be part of this show? What was the best part of being on RuPaul's DragRace and what did you learn from Ru himself? When I heard I was going to be on RPDR5, I remember thinking "this can't possibly be true. I wished, hoped, and dreamed about this....and now it's reality?!? No F*cking way!!!!" And I still, to this day, still kinda feel that way. But what I learned from Ru is, you can't just sit and want it to happen. You gotta fight, finesse and WERK your way into your destiny. But once you get there, be proud of what special things you have to offer. Ru taught me, that no matter who you are, if you do it to 100% of your ability, you can do anything!

9. In addition to The Vaudevillians, you have also appeared in several theatrical stage shows, out of drag as Jerick Hoffer, in Seattle including Spring Awakening, Rent, and the upcoming Hedwig and The Angry Inch. What do you get from theatrical work that you do not get from your singing career? Well, I LOVE singing. But my favorite way to do that is in front of a live audience. You get something in front a live audience that you get no where else. I know that sounds cliche, but it's true. If you truly wanna hone your skills, no matter what they may be, do it in front of a live audience. The laughter, the response, the kinetic energy in the room...that doesn't lie. You can't delude yourself in front of a live crowd. Simply put: "you either got it, or you ain't." - "Mama Rose," Gypsy.

Jinkx Monsoon, Photo Credit: Jose A Guzman Colon Photography.10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Take NOTHING too seriously.

11. What's the best advice you've ever received? No matter what critiques or criticisms you face; it's about the WORK, not YOU.

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Shapeshifting, like "Mystique" in X-Men. Drag would be ten times easier and I could spend that three hours doing productive things. Ha ha ha.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

13. Favorite way to stay in shape? Portion control and walking any/everywhere you can.

14. As Jinkx, favorite skin care product? Dr. Jen's King of Cool, after shave gel, available from Atomic Cosmetics.

15. As Jerick, boxers or briefs? Briefs. I like to be all in one place.

Jinkx Monsoon, More on Jerick Hoffer/Jinkx Monsoon:

Jerick graduated with a degree in theatrical performance from Cornish College in Seattle. With ten years experience on stage, Jerick is a seasoned Portland-born entertainer who has captured the attention of his native northwest region. As early as 2006, Jerick appeared as the lead dancer in the world's largest drag queen chorus line, which made the Guinness Book of World Records. By 2012, he had advanced to roles in Seattle theaters, playing "Moritz" in Spring Awakening (produced by Balagan Theatre) and "Angel" in Rent (produced by The 5th Avenue Theatre). Earlier this year, Jerick played "Hedwig" in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (produced by Balagan Theatre and Seattle Theatre Group).

Friday
Oct042013

Eileen Bluestone Sherman: Perfect Picture Interview

Eileen Bluestone ShermanA playwright, lyricist, children’s author, television writer, and theatre producer, Eileen Bluestone Sherman wrote her first musical for young audiences for Hallmark’s Coterie Theatre in 1982. Since then, her many plays entertained audiences around the country, and her books delighted readers around the world. 

Eileen's latest project is her new CD Perfect Picture, a studio cast recording of the new musical inspired by the life of Norman Rockwell, featuring such Broadway favorites as Debbie Gravitte, Ron Holgate, Judy Kaye, Mark Jacoby, Beth Leavel, Andrea McArdle, Emily Skinner, Randy Skinner, Bob Stillman, Tom Wopat, Lillias White, and Karen Ziemba. Perfect Picture releases later in October, available at the Broadway Cares Online Store, but musical theatre fans can enjoy a pre-release concert on Monday night, October 7th when cast members present selections at the Drama League (32 Avenue of the Americas). Click here for tickets!

For more on Eileen be sure to visit http://ebsoriginals.xbuild.com!

Tom Wopat recording "Perfect Picture" CD1. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright? First, Adam, I would like to thank you for your interest in Perfect Picture. I'm really excited about our CD's debut. Now, you may or may not know that I am also a young adult novelist. However, growing up, I never considered a career in writing, although I was an avid reader. I skipped most of the standard children's literature and, at nine years old, graduated from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women to Harold Robbins' A Stone For Danny Fisher. Yes, I know that's quite a leap! Of course, musical theatre was my first love. I was that kid who sang and danced around the living room while I blasted the albums from Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Gypsy and Fiorella over and over and over and over again!! Just by coincidence, when I moved to Kansas City with my husband, I happened to notice an audition notice in The Kansas City Star for a relatively new family theater called "The Coterie." On a whim, I auditioned. Afterward, the director inquired where she might find my monologue. When I told her I wrote it, she asked if I would be interested in writing a musical for her new company. Without missing a beat, I said, "SURE!" That year I made the most amazing self- discovery. I learned that what I love about theatre is the art of storytelling. I really think it goes back to my impressionable years reading Harold Robbins.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Perfect Picture is my second CD to feature an incredible all-star Broadway cast. My first, The Odd Potato: The Broadway Album included 20 Tony Award Winners with cameos from the legendary Hal Prince and Elaine Stritch. Honestly, I listen to BOTH albums and pinch myself. Broadway's greatest talents have performed my work. That said, I still have a growing list of favorites. The VERY short answer? Hugh Jackman.

3. What made you want to be part of the creative team for Perfect Picture? I think the more accurate question is what made me want to write Perfect Picture. I really credit my husband. Years ago, we were enjoying a family vacation in New England, and we discovered a tiny Norman Rockwell gallery in Arlington, Vermont. We learned that all the volunteers at the gallery were former neighbors of the Rockwell family and that they or their family members posed for the artist. I was intrigued, but once we returned home to Kansas City, I didn't give Mr. Rockwell another thought. Then, one day, my husband returned home from the public library with a book called Norman Rockwell: My Adventures As An Illustrator, an autobiography by Norman Rockwell as told to his son, Thomas Rockwell. The writing was lyrical. Titles of songs popped off the page. The opening description at a seedy side-show, featuring a larger than life carnival performer named "Amy the Wild Woman," was pure musical theatre. Of course, what fascinated me most was the lesson Norman learned as a 10 year old kid at that side-show. "Don't show life as it really is, but how folks want it to be." The artist admitted that theme guided the spirit of his early work resulting in fabulous fame and fortune but costing him dearly among the art elite. Curiously enough, even his book glossed over more painful and even shocking details about his personal life. What he did reveal was totally unexpected. Needless to say, I decided hidden in the text was a fabulous musical and poignant love story. At the time, my sister, Gail C. Bluestone, and I were writing musicals for a Chicago television series for kids called The Magic Door. I called her and told her about our next project. It's been quite an adventure and a true family endeavor.

4. What was it like to write lyrics about a well-known public figure? It's funny. I never thought about it that way. I simply tried to tell a compelling, memorable, and authentic tale. Obviously, the lyrics have to serve the story. Mr. Rockwell was heroic, passionate, fiercely loyal, and determined. Still, like all of us, he was flawed, and at times, those flaws created serious conflict…….but for our purposes, great drama. Really, he's an ideal protagonist.

Lillias White recording "Perfect Picture" CD5. You wrote the lyrics, while your sister wrote the music for Perfect Picture. What was the best part about working with your sister on this project? How did your relationship strengthen as a result? I love Gail's music, and I'm not the only one. After almost every recording session, I would hear from a Broadway artist how beautiful or hummable or how much fun a rhythm was of a particular song. More than once, I heard how they just could not get a song out of their head. I always took that as a very good sign! Of course, every single song begins as a crazy puzzle, and it's the actual work that strengthens a partnership. There's nothing like struggling and finally succeeding to cement a relationship. But, we're lucky. Our biggest champion was and remains our Studio Producer, Joshua Sherman, who also happens to be my son. From start to finish, Josh knew exactly what he wanted from a song. In the recording studio, he was an amazing captain of the ship, directing each performer, adjusting arrangements and tempos with our Musical Director, Sam Willmott, and supervising every engineering nuance. Inevitably, after each initial recording, our test audience was my husband and daughter. Oh, Jenny by the way, is also my entertainment lawyer. See what I mean? Perfect Picture is a family endeavor. Actually, my kids and husband have been instrumental in all my writing projects for years. Our family company is called 6-10 PRODUCTIONS, L.L.C.

6. What do you hope audiences come away with after listening to the CD? Even when I was a very little girl dancing in my living room to "Hernando's Hideaway," I understood an album's effect. While the recording can never completely fulfill the "in the moment" experience of watching live theatre, every subtlety of a great album transports the listener into the world of the musical. I hope audiences listen to the CD and share my fascination with Norman Rockwell and the women he loved and lost. I hope they want to play the CD over and over again, trying to simulate a powerful theatre experience. I hope they love the songs and sing them in the shower. I hope some other five year old hears the music and wants to dance around her living room.

7. You've got quite a roster of performers on Perfect Picture...Debbie Gravitte, Lillias White, Beth Leavel, Andrea McArdle, Judy Kaye, Tom Wopat, Emily Skinner, and many others. How was it decided which performers would be asked to be on the CD? To be exact, we have a cast of twelve distinguished award winning Broadway artists. The list includes Debbie Gravitte, Ron Holgate, Judy Kaye, Mark Jacoby, Beth Leavel, Andrea McArdle, Emily Skinner, Randy Skinner, Bob Stillman, Tom Wopat, Lillias White, and Karen Ziemba. By anyone's standard, it's a dream cast! Actually, Josh and I always figure this part out together. This time, we immediately reached out to several actors with whom we worked previously and adored and then approached other new artists, whom we admired from shows we love. Josh and I know the exact qualities we want for each song. It's easy to get what you want when you work with the best. Everyone was fabulous in the studio. My fingers are crossed that I will be working with all of them, again, soon. Of course, anyone can go to my website www.ebsoriginals.com and preview their terrific performances.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright and lyricist? Listen carefully…… even when no one is speaking. Pauses can be very informative.

Bob Stillman recording "Perfect Picture" CD9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Never, Never, Never give up! My husband says my personal theme is Dorothy Fields' lyric, "Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over, again." Hey, it's not over till it's over!

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Actually, I'm not a "super hero" sort of gal, although I loved Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. (Of course, I love him in everything!) However, I always adored "Samantha" on Bewitched. Yes, I know she's a witch, but a really, really cute one. Still, to be able to wiggle my nose, and make things the way I want them to be, sounds heavenly. I mean that wiggle included everything! (She could fly, be invisible, travel through time, even change nasty gossips into clucking hens….) Of course, I am always reminded to be careful what I wish for. Like it or not, in the end, only tenacity, sweat, and guts win the day. O.K. If I can still have that magic wiggle, I'll just use it for washing dishes. Deal?

Eileen Blueman Sherman with her book "The Odd Potato"More on Eileen:

Her novels for young adults include Monday In Odessa, Idependence Avenue, and The Violin Players. Perhaps, her most popular story is The Odd Potato, originally a picture book, adapted for stage, television, and CD.

Through the years, her work received numerous honors, including two Emmy Awards, The National Jewish Book Award, The International Reading Association’s Teacher’s Choice Award, and a Thorpe Menn Honorable Mention Award.  Several years ago, the author received the distinct honor of being listed on Kansas City’s Central Library’s "Community Bookshelf," nationally acclaimed free-standing public art at Tenth and Baltimore.

When writing new musicals, Eileen collaborates with her sister, Gail Bluestone, an award-winning composer and educator in Los Angeles.

In 2003, Eileen formed her family’s Production Company, 6-10 PRODUCTIONS to produce the New York holiday event, Broadway Sings The Odd Potato, starring (Batmans original Riddler) Frank Gorshin. In 2005, the CD followed. The Odd Potato: The Broadway Album features 20 Tony Award winners, with narration by Judd Hirsch. The CD competed in the 49th Grammy Awards Contest in the category of "Best Musical Show Album" and raises money every holiday season for special needs children.

Currently, 6-10 PRODUCTIONS is developing a new children's CD, called Listen Up! starring the Tony and Emmy Award winner, Broadway Diva, Lillias White, singing a variety of novelty songs composed by the Bluestone Sisters for their many family-friendly shows.

Eileen is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, The Authors Guild, Inc., ASCAP, The Drama League, and The Recording Academy, where she serves as a Grammy Voter.

Friday
Oct042013

Western Avenue Interview

Western Avenue, Photo Credit: Gerri PhotographyRising country trio Western Avenue is making their mark on the music industry. With the release of their debut EP Western Avenue, the band's original music is winning fans everywhere they go. Currently out on tour, Western Avenue's fresh sound is one I would suggest listening to. Click here to find out when Western Avenue will be performing in a city near you and here to purchase their debut EP.

For more on Western Avenue be sure to visit http://www.westernavenue.ca and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Western Avenue on the set of their music video This I Promise You1. Who or what inspired you to become singers? For Keith and myself (Nikki) we grew up in musical families. Our dads both played guitar and sang. I think that planted the musical bug in us. I always loved to sing ever since the Little Mermaid was released. I would be up in my room pretending I was "Ariel" and singing all the songs from the movie. My dad always encouraged me to sing as well. He'd be on the piano or the guitar playing songs and getting me to sing. I was pretty shy back then so it was a rare occasion that I would do it. I spent most of my time singing in my room with the door closed. Back in 2001 my dad lost his battle to cancer, which I took pretty hard as he was my best friend. But due to his encouragement over the years, I finally got the courage to sing in front of people.

For Matt it was when he went to a Tom Petty concert when he was 10 years old. Two weeks after the show he started playing the guitar!

2. In your career, whom to do hope to get the opportunity to work with? Well we are all huge fans of Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, & Taylor Swift. So any of those would be amazing!

Western Avenue performing 3. You met through country artist Tara Lyn. What do you remember about that first meeting? Was there instant chemistry in thinking you could be your own band or did that develop over time? There was instant chemistry! Our first jam together was magic! We just loved how we all sounded together. It was kind of neat as we all had different tastes in music and we kind of all moulded them together to what is our sound today.

4. How did you come up with the band name? We used to hold all of our rehearsals on Western Avenue. I was lying in bed one night, instead of sleeping, my mind was wondering as usual. And I was thinking that Western Avenue would make a great band name, as we play country music, but more contemporary, so maybe with a more urban feel, hence Avenue being a street name, which you don't find in the country. And then the next day we had a rehearsal and Matt said he was thinking the same thing when he turned on to the street!

5. What has been the best part about working together? Well we have this chemistry that works! Matt is an optimist, Keith is more of a pessimist, and I am the realist. So in having that balance it's really helped us get to where we are today. Matt keeps us pumped up and motivated, Keith keeps our guard up, and I try to find the level playing ground.

6. You've released your debut EP, Western Avenue. What is it like to have your own music out there? What was the most exciting part about putting this EP together? Well it was a big turning point for us as it's something we all dreamed of doing for as long as we can remember! We loved the reaction of the fans. We loved hearing stories of how our songs affected them. We played at a celebration for a woman who had finished her cancer treatments and was cancer free, and she had asked us to play our song "What My Heart Had In Mind" because that song had meant a lot to her and her husband. So right before we played it she made a beautiful speech and then dedicated the song to her husband for being there for her. Then when we started the song they danced. Soon after the other members of the party came around them in sort of a big group hug, and they all danced together. It was so beautiful, and was so hard to get through the song with out crying. It was a great moment.

I don't think i can pin point a most exciting part of putting the EP together, as the whole experience was amazing. It's really something hearing your songs come to life. I think my favorite part was being able to put in my production ideas and hear the result. We worked with an amazing producer/engineer Adam Newcomb of Newcomb Studios. He really knows how to make a song come to life. And he's great to work with as he will let you bring your own ideas to the table to mold out a specific sound you are looking for.

7. What has the fan reaction been like? What do you like about meeting your fans out on the road? The fan reaction has been great so far. They have been super supportive. For example, when we had our CD release party, it sold out in 3 days! And the day of the show fans were lined up around the block! It was pretty exciting for us!

Meeting fans on the road is great. It's still strange for me that people want my autograph! What's going on in the back of my mind is: Are you sure you want me to mess up your CD with my scribble? haha! But it's such a great feeling to connect with people that appreciate and support your music.

8. How do you feel social media has helped get your name and music out to the public? It's helped because it's so accessible. So many people are connected to it. It's almost like a chain reaction. For example if someone finds us through one social media, they can easily connect to us through another social media, and if they like us they can share us, etc. And it's such an easy way to connect with the fans as well, and keep them updated with what's happening. It makes it much easier for us underdogs who don't have the support for mass marketing!

9. What is the best part about living through the rise of your popularity? Is the reality the same as what you had envisioned in your mind? Well we aren't living in fancy condos by the ocean yet. But it's still been great! It's funny, sometimes I'll be out shopping and someone will say "Hi Nikki!" and I will have no idea who it is, realizing after that they knew me from the band. It's an awkward moment as I feel bad thinking I had met the person before and just forgot.

The reality of it all is a lot of work. It's almost like having a second full time job! haha! But it's good because it's what we love to do, so it doesn't feel as much like work!

10. What have you learned about yourselves from being singers? Well out of all my abilities, I think that's the best one I got, so hopefully it doesn't fail me. HAHA! I learned that singing is a great emotional outlet. If I'm upset about something, I put that energy into my performance. It seems to help me de-stress, and hopefully put out a more emotive performance!

11. What's the best advice you've ever received? That you create your own future. If you do nothing, nothing will happen. If you really focus on what you want, you will get it!

BONUS QUESTION:

12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To fly at the speed of sound, so I get go anywhere I want, and not have to wait in traffic! HAHA!

Western Avenue, Photo Credit: Gerri PhotographyMore on Western Avenue: 

For Nikki English, Keith Robertson and Matt Williams, music has been a driving force in their lives for as long as they can remember. Together since 2007, they are the members of Western Avenue, a contemporary country music band from central Ontario. The trio is heading out on a journey following their dreams.  Western Avenue is winning over audiences with its new original music, including the catchy first single Highway Headin’ Out of Town, which has been picked up by Canadian country radio. The song hit the airwaves on July 2, 2012 and is also available worldwide on iTunes. An EP album, which the band is currently recording, will be released in January 2013.

English and Robertson, who are now married, live in Peterborough while Williams is from Cobourg. The three musicians met through Canadian country artist Tara Lyn Hart, who lived in Port Hope at the time and had a music program in Cobourg. Robertson and Williams were hired as back-up musicians for English for one of her performances.

"As soon as we started jamming, it was evident we should keep doing it," Williams recalls. "The way that our voices blended together when we started singing, just the three-part harmony, we could tell we were on to something special." For most of the time the trio had been together, Western Avenue was strictly a cover band. There was a slight detour in 2008 when the members recorded a three-song demo. Essentially the purpose of the demo was to enter a battle of the bands-type competition. A rock one at that; but Western Avenue stuck to its acoustic country. That was a good learning experience for the band, even if it didn’t return to the studio for several years. In that time, though, the members have matured in developing their music style and songwriting. Their chemistry has remained intact.

"I think it has all come from playing together for so long," English says. "We get along so well and I couldn’t ask for better band mates. We click. We’re always open to suggestions from each other." Writing the original music has been exciting for the band.

"We’re enjoying including originals into the set list," Robertson says. "It’s a lot more meaningful. When you sing the same cover song every night in a pub and you can include your own songs, it’s very exciting." "We have all been playing in some band or another through the years, but always kept this together," Robertson added. "We always came back to this because this is the music we love to do."

Now the focus for Western Avenue is kicking into a higher gear. Lyrics for Highway Headin’ Out of Town couldn’t be more perfectly suited for the band. The chorus goes: Like that highway headin’ out of town/ Never looking back, never slowing down/ Bigger and better things on the way/ Mile by mile, day by day/ It’s all about the journey and not about where we’re bound/ Like that highway headin’ out of town. English describes the song as 'fun, upbeat and about following your dreams'. Growing up, English fondly remembers her father Frank always playing guitar and singing around their house. He died in 2001 after a battle with cancer. While her father always encouraged her to perform, English says she was always too shy.

Her father’s passing was motivation to at least try; "That’s what he always wanted me to do, and I wanted to, but I was a wimp," she says. "It gave me confidence to do it in his memory. It’s been a challenge because I’ve always been shy. I guess I’ve been developing that over the years, breaking out of my shell. It’s been a lot easier with the band, having people beside you." English and Robertson have been married now for two years. "It’s great because we get to spend a lot of time together," English says.

There was always music around Robertson’s household. The Colborne native began playing instruments at an early age and has been playing in bands since he was 12. He couldn’t imagine having another job. “The only thing I can do is play guitar,” he quips. Robertson taught guitar for 16 years, and still does occasionally. He also plays fiddle and “pretty much anything with a string on it." Keith has played professionally with country musicians Tara Lyn Hart and John Landry. Williams remembers when he knew music was a path for him. He was 10 years old and received tickets from his parents to see Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in concert.

"As soon as the lights went down, that was it," Williams said. Years earlier, he participated in a YMCA music program in Cobourg. He began playing piano at age six. Two weeks after the Tom Petty show, he took up the guitar. It wasn’t easy, but he’s still playing. "I had to work really hard at it, but it’s something I persisted at." That’s what Western Avenue will continue to do.

Thursday
Sep192013

Tony Naumovski: Final Analysis Interview

Tony NaumovskiTony Naumovski is a New York based classically trained actor. He has appeared in over 100 theatre, film and TV productions internationally to critical and commercial acclaim.

Now he is lighting up the stage as "Joseph Dzugashvili Stalin" in Otho Eskin's Final Analysis at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue) through October 5. Click here for tickets!

For more on Tony be sure to visit http://www.tonynaumovskirotino.com and follow him on Facebook!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Al Pacino and Robert De Niro initially. I grew up with their movies, especially Once Upon a Time in America and The Godfather. It was fascinating to me when later on in my life I discovered how much in common I have with both of them, their lives and their careers. In addition to that my grandfather Vangel was an actor, unfortunately, I never had a chance to meet him but heard the wonderful stories about him. That was the initial urge for it, which later on in my teens and early twenties has developed into something a lot deeper and substantial, an instinct for survival, a purpose to live for. Now acting defines me WHO I am, WHAT I am and WHY I am. It is a path to freedom and self liberation.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Needless to say the two Giant names mentioned above for sure and Scorsese of-course. Peter Brook. Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Bruno Ganz, Sean Penn etc.

Elizabeth Jasicki as "Alma Mahler" and Tony Naumovski as "Joseph Stalin" in "Final Analysis," Photo Credit: John Quilty3. What attracted you to Final Analysis? The brilliant concept of the play. The fact that even though 100 years have passed by and we went through such atrocities as WWI and WWII, The Balkan Wars, The Bosnian Genocide, Rwanda, Vietnam etc. and nothing much has changed apart from the game players. The class division, exploitation, antisemitism, racism, hatred are unfortunately still very relevant and one quarter of the world is at war.

Ryan Garbayo as "Young Man" and Tony Naumovski as "Joseph Stalin" in "Final Analysis," Photo Credit: John Quilty4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? To recognize themselves in the characters of Final Analysis, no matter how scary and weird that maybe. To walk out with more that they walked in. To understand themselves better.

5. What do you identify most with about playing "Joseph Dzugashvili Stalin"? Well as scary as it is to talk about it, to my surprise there was a lot more parallels that I could have ever thought. To mention one: He believed in his own revolution through the proletariat and I believe in my own, in the power of art. The rest is a subject to an extensive discussion.

Tony Naumovski as "Joseph Stalin" and Elizabeth Jasicki as "Alma Mahler" in "Final Analysis," Photo Credit: John Quilty6. What is it like to portray such a well known public figure? Complicated as Alec Baldwin would say. There are so many aspects of Stalin's life and so many fascinating facts that I went though a process of elimination of what I was to choose to finally use that would make sense and yet give justice to the character for this period of his life. I play him in his earlier years before he rose to power and became what most of the world knows of him. But also to make him human and find the humor in him. He was a human being after all and I as an actor am to stand behind him and defend the character no matter how vicious he was.

7. In addition to acting, you are a singer and drummer. What do get from music that you do not get from acting? I get another level of depth, music is my main source of inspiration. I am Macedonian and grew up in a musician's family so I knew of music before I knew of anything else in my life. I guess that digs into my roots and genes deeper. For each of my characters I have a very specifically scored soundtrack that runs into my body and mind. The music IS the most important element in my work.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That I am the biggest challenge and obstacle to myself. That if I can conquer my fears I can conquer everything. Nothing is Impossible. And a lot more.

Tony Naumvoski Kick Boxing9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "On stage you speed slowly" (in other words go fast slowly). This comes from my legendary Professor Stefan Danailov from the National Academy for Theater and Film Arts in Sofia-Bulgaria. I finished my four year conservatory at this prestigious academy. Or as the wonderful Gia Forakis would say "One Thought One Action at a time" which has resulted in her magnificent acting technique OTOA which Gia practices and develops with her theater company GF & CO, whom I have the great honor to be part of.

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To erase the world's boarders and travel around each land on my bicycle just like the "Little Prince," meet the locals and tell them how wonderful and special they are, for we are created equal and none is superior. To tame a shark on Bondi Beach in Sydney, my city of Birth, fly over the Ocean with it and meet with (as Tennessee Williams would say) 'The Lovely Ones,' the people so greatly close to my heart, that I wish I could see them and chat with them for few more breaths, come back on earth with them and bring immortality, sit on the top of Mount Everest and Sing Zajdi Zajdi (A Macedonian Traditional Song about lost youth) so the entire universe can hear.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to stay in shape? Kick Boxing. www.nysanda.com and cycling of course.

12. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs. I don’t find boxers sexy :)

Tony NaumovskiMore on Tony:

His recent film credits include: What about us (Jasmine Guy), the European Premiere of the comedy This is not an American Movie, the award winning US a Love Story directed by Alrick Brown (Sundance), American Hunger (coming soon) etc. TV credits include: Law and Order SVU; Americas Most Wanted FOX TV; The World’s Astonishing News; Japanese National TV, etc. His Most recent NY theater credits: "Karpovsky" in the World Premiere of Best of TheaterWorks: Stories from the 99% Tamilla Woodard, "Jason" in Medea, Gia Forakis & CO, "Bugsy Brodsky" in Tennessee Williams’ Something Cloudy and Something Clear; "KGB agent Laverenti" in the US Premire of PURGE at LaMaMa E.T.C; "Cengiz Pasha," the leader of Crete in the World Premiere of Three Graces at the OBIE winning SOHO TINK Ice Factory Festival, "Hamlet" in The Ophelia Landscape [Mark Morris]; "Odysseus" in The Odyssey; "Jocasta" in Oedipus Rex etc. Tony is fluent in four languages. He is also a singer, a drummer and a Martial artist.

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