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Entries in Music (146)

Thursday
Dec052013

Carl Topilow: Cleveland Pops New Year's Eve 2013 Concert Interview

Carl Topilow and trademark red clarinetCo-founder of The Cleveland Pops, Carl Topilow is renowned worldwide for his versatility, whether he's holding a conductor's baton or his trademark red clarinet. This New Year's Eve (December 31, 2013), The Cleveland Pops join forces with Will and Anthony Nunziata to bring you their show "Broadway Nights," featuring some of Broadway's biggest hits with new original orchestrations. This is going to be one celebration you won't want to miss! The Cleveland Pops New Year's concert will play Severance Hall (11001 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106). Click here for tickets!

For more on Carl and The Cleveland Pops be sure to visit http://www.carltopilow.com and http://www.clevelandpops.com. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

Carl Topilow Conducting1. Who or what inspired you to become a conductor/musician? I started playing clarinet when I was nine years old. I really loved it and here I am today. Nobody in my family went into music as a profession and I wasn't expected to either, but it sort of became inevitable because this is what I really wanted to do.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I'd love to work with Yo-Yo Ma, Hugh Jackman, and Andrea Boccelli.

3. You co-founded The Cleveland Pops with your wife Shirley. What made you want to take this venture together? Shirley had seen me do these Pops programs and thought I was pretty good at it. The Cleveland Orchestra, which is a world-renowned ensemble, does just a few Pops concerts, so we saw this as an opportunity to fill a void in our community. We've had a lot of support from our board, staff, and community. We've been very fortunate that it has been so successful.

4. What has it been like to see this dream become what it is today? It's a very special environment to have your own orchestra. Everyone's attitude is good, they love playing for the Pops, and Severance Hall is a great venue to host a concert. It's a nice feeling knowing that everybody there is there because they want to be.

5. On December 31, 2013, The Cleveland Pops will be presenting their New Year's Eve concert. What excites you about this upcoming concert? The fact that we are still here is very exciting. It's always a festive evening. I definitely feel it's THE place to be on New Year's Eve. We provide the opportunity to hear a concert in a festive hall, followed by free coffee and dessert while dancing to two bands in two different locations, with a balloon drop at midnight. There is no other celebration like it!

Will and Anthony Nunziata6. Will and Anthony Nunziata are going to be your featured guests as this year's concert. What are you looking forward to most about performing with them? Will and Anthony are terrific performers and wonderful fellas. They have a lot of new arrangements written especially for this evening. We are also doing some selections I've worked on with them in the past, but this concert is their own show, with lots of new material. It's going to be a lot of fun!

7. Since the concert takes place on New Year's Eve, what has been a highlight for you this past year and what are you looking forward to in 2014 with The Cleveland Pops? This past year we had an outstanding season. Our Armed Forces concert was very successful, last year's New Year's Eve concert was terrific, this past February we had Janis Martin, an amazing violinist, pianist singer, and acrobat, we had a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers show, and jazz trumpet player Byron Stripling. One last highlight of this past season was the introduction of our Cleveland Pops Chorus, who is performing on several concerts this season as well.

This year is very exciting with A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch, our St. Patricks Celebration with Broadway's "Phantom" Ciaran Sheehan, To Reach The Unreachable Stars, a special tribute to the 25 NASA Astronauts from Ohio, and then ending the season with the 14th Annual Salute To Our Armed Forces. We kicked off our season with Ballroom With A Twist, featuring popular contestants from Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, and American Idol which was a big success!

8. In addition to conducting, you are also known for your clarinet playing. What do you get from playing the clarinet that you don't get from conducting? It's really exciting to play with a 55/60 piece orchestra. The clarinet is a very versatile instrument, so I get to play a variety of music such as Hollywood music, Klezmer music, Popular tunes, Swing, and Broadway.

Carl Topilow with his trademark red clarinet9. What can you tell us about your famous red clarinet? Well, it's inspired from the movie The Red Violin. After seeing that movie, I thought, why not a red clarinet? And so there is. Now, additionally, I have a green, white, and blue clarinet. I often mix-n-match pieces of the clarinet to make a red, white, and blue clarinet, an Italian clarinet, which is red, white, and green, a Chanukah clarinet, a Christmas Clarinet, a St. Patrick's Day clarinet, and a Superman clarinet. It's all fun stuff and has become a bit of trademark for myself.

10. You've been the Pops conductor to other orchestra's around the country. What do you enjoy most about conducting these other symphonies? It's always great to be a guest conductor. I get to go in and see a different part of the country. I've been fortunate between my summer festival and teaching at the Cleveland Institute of Music, to conduct these other symphonies because I always run into people I know which is a lot of fun. I get a chance to interact with different musicians and different halls, so it's always a lot fun.

11. Speaking of teaching at the Cleveland Institute of Music, what do you enjoy most about teaching the next generation? When I first got into the profession, I discovered that I really enjoyed conducting college/graduate school-aged students. I worked with a lot of motivated and talented people. I got to rehearse in a different way, I got to teach, which is different than when I conduct a professional orchestra. Whenever I get a note from someone saying how much my teaching meant to them, it really means a lot to me. It's a very rewarding feeling I get inside.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

Carl Topilow conducting12. What's the best advice you've ever received? Learn how to deal with people and how to participate in healthy compromise. Learn how to find out what's on other people's minds and try to relate to what they are going through. Encourage people and find ways to rally people around to make them feel a sense of team. I like to appeal to people's pride in what they are doing rather than fear tactics. I think it's much more effective to encourage and praise musicians rather than berate them.

13. What have you learned about yourself from being a conductor and musician? I've learned to be organized and play to my strengths, understand my weaknesses, and find out the best way to communicate with people. 

14. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? It would be nice to have a photographic memory and a perfect ear. 

15. Is there something you'd like to share about yourself that most people don't know? I have a lot of interests in life, more than just music. I read a lot, a lot of historical fiction. I speak Italian reasonably. I'm functional in Spanish, French, and German. I like spectator sports, and I've run three marathons.

Carl TopilowMore on Carl:

He is a multi-talented virtuoso who equally at home in classical and popular music both as conductor and instrumentalist. Carl's pops performances blend light classical, swing, jazz, Broadway, Dixieland, and Klezmer music, usually finding occasion to include a number on his array of brightly colored clarinets. His unique approach to pops programming includes extensive audience involvement and true showmanship.

Following his long time dream of conducting his own pops orchestra, Carl founded the Cleveland Pops Orchestra. The orchestra, currently in its 17th season, plays to large audiences in Severance Hall and in several other venues throughout Northeast Ohio. The Cleveland Pops Orchestra's diverse, innovative and electrifying programs have been critically acclaimed. The orchestra has two CDs, Music to Grow On, an exciting collection of music for children and adults of all ages, and Live at the Pops, a stirring compilation of music taken from live performances, as well as several sampler CDs used for promotions.

Carl is also Conductor and Director of the Orchestral Program at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is currently in his 33rd year as conductor of the CIM Orchestras, and is also head of the Masters program in orchestral conducting. Graduates of this program can be found as maestros with several leading orchestras.

Carl Topilow SingingCarl recently completed his 36th season as Music Director and Conductor of the National Repertory Orchestra, a summer music festival based in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. He has assisted in the training of talented young musicians and conductors for positions in symphonic orchestras in the United States and abroad.

In 2008, Carl was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the The Firelands Symphony Orchestra, based in Sandusky, OH, performing 5 masterworks and 1 outdoor pops concert each season. During Topilow's tenure with the orchestra, the number of subscriptions has increased from 56 to 505.

Carl has also served as Principal Pops Conductor for the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra in Ft. Myers, Florida, as well as for the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

As a guest conductor, Carl has appeared around the world with 110 orchestras, in 36 states in the USA, as well as orchestras in Canada, China, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.

In addition to his busy conducting schedule, Carl avidly pursues his passion for performing as clarinetist. He often performs with his brother Arthur, a pianist, and the duo can be heard on three CDs, Come in from the Cold, A View from the Top, and Music of America.

Carl Topilow performing in Breckenrige, COCarl is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, with a degree in clarinet performance and a masters degree in music education. He has held conducting fellowships with the National Orchestral Association with Leon Barzin and the Aspen Music Festival with under Jorge Mester. Carl began his professional career as Exxon Arts Endowment Conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra.

Carl's wife Shirley is President and CEO of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra and Director of the Morgenstern Dance Studio. Daughter Emily is a student at Beachwood High School, and studies the violin through the Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory Department. Daughter Jenny, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and Carnegie Mellon University, is a violinist with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.

Friday
Nov222013

Nicki French Audio Interview: Total Eclipse of the Heart + Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Nicki French as the "Wicked Queen" in Palace Theatre Newark's production of "Snow White and the Seven Dwafs"In my newest audio interview, "Call Me Adam," chats with award winning international recording artist Nicki French, one of Britain's top female singing exports with more than five million sales of her smash hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart" since its release in January 1995. In recent years, Nicki has turned her attention back to acting and is currently starring as the "Wicked Queen" in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from December 5-31 at Palace Theatre Newark (United Kingdom). Click here for tickets!

For more on Nicki be sure to visit http://www.nickifrench.com!

Part 1: Nicki French on starring as the "Wicked Queen" in the Palace Theatre Newark's production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Part 2: Nicki French on her recording career including her smash hit dance version of "Total Eclipse of The Heart"

Part 3: Nicki French on life!

Nicki French, Photo Credit: Energise RecordsMore on Nicki:

Nicki was born in Carlisle, Cumbria. The first "gig" came at the age of seven, when Nicki was chosen to sing a solo - the first verse of 'O Little Town of Bethlehem’ at the Infants’ School Christmas Concert! From then on there was no turning back! A few years later she won the local talent contest, and within the year had joined her first band, Krisp, run by Tim and his friend Kelvin.

From the age of 16, Nicki studied Music and Drama at West Kent College in Tonbridge, Kent. At the annual college musical, she played the lead role of "Laurey" in Oklahoma!, earning rave reviews for her performance. She then moved up to London and started auditioning for bands and theatre shows.

Nicki started working the pubs and clubs, moving onto gay pubs and clubs a short while later – The Spread Eagle in Shoreditch was her first! However the most exciting show for Nicki was at the Player of the Season annual dinner/dance at Tottenham Hotspur FC – her team! They had just signed a new player and were introducing him to the fans – a player by the name of Paul Gascoigne, and Gazza and all the other players got up on stage with her to perform a couple of songs – a special moment.

Nicki had been working on the gay scene for some time, when she made one of her regular visits to perform in a club in Cardiff, which was also the fateful night she met a certain Mr John Springate, who was to have quite an influence on her career from then on! John and Nicki hit it off straight away, and started what was to become a long association with his recording studio.

In 1991 Nicki was booked as the leading lady in a series of revue shows on a cruise ship, touring Europe and beyond and covering shows such as Mack and Mabel, Oklahoma!, Paint Your Wagon, Calamity Jane, along with more general tributes to Stage and Screen.

Also in 1991, Nicki met Gavin, a trumpet player – they met on stage at the London Palladium, where they were both working in the band for the Irish songstress Rose-Marie! Eighteen months later they married in Nicki’s parish church in Tenterden, St Mildred’s.

Early in 1994 Nicki and John recorded a dance version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." A few months later Mike Stock took it on, re-jigged it and made it into the massive worldwide hit it was – the first release, and success, of his new record company, Love This Records.

"Total Eclipse of the Heart," produced by Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, became the first big hit of 1995 by a new artist, reaching number five in the UK charts. It went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100, the highest placing in the UK by a UK artist since the 1980s, and spent six months in the chart there. It also reached number one in Australia, Japan, Brazil, Israel, Spain, Holland and Canada. To cap a great 1995, Nicki’s success continued at the annual Dance Music Authority Magazine Awards in the USA, where she was honoured to win all three awards she was nominated for - Best Female Vocalist, Single of the Year and Most Promising Newcomer. Nicki managed to achieve the often elusive international recording success, and in the summer of 1995 released her debut album, Secrets, which sold over 50,000 copies in its first week of sale in the USA. A second album, French Revolution, includes tracks co-written by Nicki.

In March 1996, Nicki embarked on her first visit to Brazil, totally unaware of the extent of her success in the South American territories, where no less than nine of her songs have been huge hits, particularly "Did You Ever Really Love Me?" (her personal favorite) and "Te Amo." She subsequently returned to tour there five times in 18 months.

In 1997 Nicki was approached by Jim Steinman, the original writer of "Total Eclipse of the Heart," and famous for his work with Meatloaf, Celine Dion, Cher and Barbra Streisand to name but a few! He had heard the French Revolution album, and wanted to work with Nicki. She then recorded a couple of tracks for his new record company, Ravenous.

Nicki French, Photo Credit: Energise RecordsNicki carried on doing live shows around the world, then in August 1999, had another call from John Springate – the song he had for her this time was entitled "Don’t Play That Song Again," written by John and Gerry Shephard (they were in the Glitter Band together back in the 1970s), and they were planning to enter it for Song for Europe – was she interested? John had never realized that Nicki was a HUGE fan of the Eurovision Song Contest – he does now! They recorded the track in two takes, and the song was put forward for selection. It then went through all the elimination rounds, and after the Radio 2 listeners voted it into the final four, Nicki ended up back in the Top of the Pops studio again, to perform the song live on BBC1. That was 20 February 2000 – a day she will remember forever. The song blasted the other entries into the water, and Nicki comfortably won the public’s vote – and support – thus fulfilling her childhood dream of representing her country at Eurovision in Stockholm, an experience she classes as ‘the most magical week of my life’. Although it didn’t win, the UK delegation did win one award – for Best Party during the week of rehearsals! Nicki’s popularity in Sweden since then is such that she was one of the headline acts at Stockholm Pride in 2001. In the Summer of 2003 she was invited to return and performed again – this time with her live band and singers.

Nicki French singing, Photo Credit: Tony WoofIn January 2003, Nicki was the only British artist to feature in an all-star line up for an ABC Television special in Los Angeles, The Disco Ball – a 30-Year Celebration, which was filmed at the Shrine Auditorium, home of the Oscars Ceremony, and included Gloria Gaynor, Whoopi Goldberg, KC & the Sunshine Band, Chic, Irene Cara, Usher, Village People…..The show has since been repeated on television around the world many times.

Nicki has taken part in many television programmes in her career, including Top of the Pops, GMTV, The Big Breakfast, MTV, FBi, The Cable TV Awards, After 5, Newsround, Esther, Nickelodeon, UK Living, Night Fever, BBC Breakfast and A Question of Pop. However the most recent programme Nicki took part in was The Weakest Link – Eurovision Special.

Total Eclipse of the Heart Music Video

For All We Know Music Video

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.