Twitter
Facebook

 

 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

    

"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in Musical Theatre (144)

Friday
Jan122018

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

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

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

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

For more on Jesse visit http://jesseluttrell.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Fred visit http://fredbarton.com and follow him on Twitter!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit https://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesse Luttrell, Photo Credit: Christopher BoudewynsMore on Jesse:

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

Fred Barton, Photo Credit: Rick StockwellMore on Fred:

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

Thursday
Jan112018

Call Answered: Facetime Interview: Nikki M. James & Amy Wolk: "I Only Have Lies For You" at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

Amy Wolk, Call Me Adam, Nikki M. James at The Algonquin HotelLive from the Helen Hayes Boardroom at The Algonquin Hotel in NYC, I decipher the lies from the truth with Tony Award winner Nikki M. James & two-time Mac Award winner Amy Wolk as we discuss their new live game show I Only Have Lies For You, which will return to the Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 West 42nd Street) on Sunday, January 21 at 9:30pm!

Scheduled to appear on January 21 are Helene York (American Psycho, Bullets Over Broadway), Lesli Margherita (Matilda, Dames at Sea), Alyse Alan Louis (Amelie), Pearl Sun (If/Then), Eric William Morris (Be More Chill, Mamma Mia), and Jason SweetTooth Williams (Freaky Friday).

In I Only Have Lies For You Broadway panelists are pitted against each other in a lying contest. Two teams of three will go head-to-head telling stories, some of which may not be true---it is up to the other team to guess, Truth or Lie. Click here for tickets!

Additional dates for I Only Have Lies For You are March 18, April 22, May 20, & June 18 all at 9:30pm.

For more on I Only Have Lies For You visit: https://www.facebook.com/IOnlyHaveLiesForYou

For more on Nikki M. James follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

For more on Amy Wolk visit http://amywolk.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

Call Me Adam's interview with Nikki M. James & Amy Wolk:

Enclosure

Wednesday
Dec272017

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

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

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

For more on Tom & David visit http://www.tomgualtieri.com, http://www.davidsisco.com, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit https://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

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

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

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

2. How did you come to work together?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enclosure

Friday
Dec222017

Call Redialed: Seth Rudetsky: "Seth’s Broadway Diary, Volume 3"

Seth RudetskyIt's always great catching up with Seth Rudetsky! His Broadway stories are always so engaging & enjoyable. It's no wonder, he just released his latest book, Seth's Broadway Diary, Volume 3 from Dress Circle Publishing. Filled with the juicy tales of working with such Broadway luminaries as Patti LuPone, Andrea Martin, Andrea McArdle, Gavin Creel and so many more, Seth's Broadway Diary, Volume 3 is a can't put it down romp on-stage, back-stage, and everywhere in between!

If you think Seth's book are loaded with goodies, wait until you see what he revealed direct from the orchestra pit!

Seth's Broadway Diary, Volume 3 can be purchased at https://www.dresscirclepublishing.com!

For more on Seth be sure to visit http://www.sethrudetsky.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

1. You just released your latest book Seth's Broadway Diary, Volume 3. What was the first story you knew had to be in this book? When I got to play an entire concert with Patti LuPone! It was such a thrilling experience. Every time I’d heard her sing from Evita, it was always "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina." I was much much much more obsessed with "Buenos Aires" and "Rainbow High." These are songs I listened to all the time as a kid and I never got to see her play the role. I thought I’d never hear her sing them live. I tentatively asked her to sing them in our show…and she said YES…and in the SAME KEY!!! Plus she gave me so many amazing stories about Evita, and Les Miz and Anything Goes, etc. There is so much Patti scoop in this book and I love it!

2. Which story were you on the fence about including, but ultimately you felt it would help complete this volume? Well, I actually did cut it. During the years that all my interviews and shows take place in this book, my doggie got sick. I documented it while it was happening but it was too depressing to put in the book.

Patti LuPone and Seth Rudetsky3. As you go back through these columns, what would be one or two that made you pinch yourself and think, "I can't believe, me, Seth Rudetsky, from North Woodmere, Long Island, got to do this" (that as a kid you only dreamed about)? Well, definitely, the entire Patti LuPone experience. I never even met her until I was 29 and all I got to say was an awkward "I love you!" And the next thing I know I'm making her belt half the Evita score. Then things like working with Andrea McArdle. Anyone who grew up loving Broadway in the '70s was obsessed with her voice. She was the Broadway star we all wanted to be.

4. Since your columns are called Onstage & Backstage, what is something that happens on stage that causes chaos backstage during a show? One of the things I continue to get in trouble for is when I’m writing a show: often times I’ll tell an actor a new line I thought of and tell them to add it to that performance. I always forget that everything is mic’d nowadays and when an actor has a new line or cuts a line, it completely screws up the sound people. Half the time my so-called amazing new line is said and no one hears it because the actor’s mic is off!

5. It seems like everyone you work with becomes a friend of yours. Whose friendship were you most surprised by? Definitely Andrea Martin. I watched SCTV religiously as a teen. My friends and I would memorize her sketches, especially her feminist musical with Catherine O’Hara called "I’m Taking My Own Head, Screwing it on right, and No Guy’s Gonna Tell Me That it Ain’t!" Suddenly, I'm an adult and she's on my window frame in my apartment scrubbing my windows because they're "filthy" and redecorating my apartment. And by "redecorating," I mean taking objects and literally throwing them out because they don’t match her aesthetic. Sadly for me, she's always right.

Seth Rudetsky, Photo Credit: Jay Brady6. I have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now," where I try to clear-up misconceptions about people. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourself that you would like to clear-up once and for all? I think people always think I'm incredibly busy. I, myself,  think people who have actual 9 to 5 jobs are incredibly busy! I can make my own hours, I can go to the gym, I can take breaks whenever I want, I get to travel to super fun places. To me, busy is having to wake up and get ready for work, work 8 hours, travel home, make dinner for family. I'm very impressed that those kind of people have time for fun, gym, and creativity.

7. Since you have interviewed so many people over the years yourself, what is one question I didn't ask you that you wish I had (please provide the answer to said question)?

Q: Who are your favorite authors?

A: I read all the time and love so many writers! Please read these people because they are amazing: Elin Hildenbrand, Stephen McCauley, Phillip Pullman, William Goldman, Curtis Sittenfeld, Sarah Waters. Thank you!

8. Has anyone ever rejected an interview request from you? If so, who? Lots of people! Celebrities get so many requests for interviews and sometimes they're just too busy. Also, I only like to to do them live, face-to-face. People sometimes want to do them over the phone and I think that sounds so awkward on the radio because I can't tell when person is about to talk, stop talking etc. I hate it and I always say no if that's all they're available for. So I guess the answer is, I have rejected interviews from people!

Seth Rudetsky, Photo Credit: Lauren KennedyMore on Seth: 

Seth Rudetsky has worked as the music director and/or pianist for some of Broadway’s biggest stars: Audra McDonald, Andrea Martin, Gavin Creel, Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, Jessie Mueller and many more. He spent years as a pianist on Broadway playing such shows as Les Miserables, The Producers and Ragtime and currently divides his time between being the afternoon deejay on the Sirius XM Broadway channel/host of Seth Speaks as well as touring North America doing his show Deconstructing Broadway. His novels, My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan, and the sequel The Rise and Fall of a Theater Geek are available on the Random House label and his Broadway musical Disaster!, which was a New York Times "Critics Pick," is licensed by MTI.

Tuesday
Nov212017

Call Redialed: Anika Larsen: Art Attack Foundation's "An Evening of Song" at Birdland

Anika LarsenLast time I interviewed Anika Larsen she had just released her debut album, Sing You To Sleep and was pregnant with her first child. Since that time, Anika became the proud mama of two boys and now she is returning to the stage in a very special benefit concert headlined by the legendary Chita Rivera!

Anika will be taking part in Art Attack Foundation's An Evening of Song at Birdland (315 West 44th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) on Monday, December 4 at 7pm! This one-night-only show promises an array of standards, pop hits and original songs, from top artists on Yellow Sound Label. Joining Anika will be Jessie Mueller (Waitress), Christy Altomare (Anastasia), Michael Patrick Walker (Altar Boyz), Bonnie Milligan (Kinky Boots), songwriters Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich (Dear Edwina), Rob Rokicki (The Lightening Thief), Max Vernon (The View UpStairs and KPOP), Lynne Shankel, Steve Marzullo and many more special guests. The evening will be produced by Dan Watt, Michael Croiter and Yael Silver. Click here for tickets!

Founded by Dan Watt, the Art Attack Foundation’s mission is to inspire community leaders, businesses, and individuals to participate and contribute in the education, enhancement and development of young performing artists. AAF is dedicated to providing opportunities, funding, and encouragement to assist young performers in realizing their full artistic potential.

For more on Art Attack Foundation visit http://www.artattackfoundation.org!

For more on Anika be sure to visit http://anikalarsen.biz and you can purchase her debut album Sing You To Sleep on iTunes and Amazon!

1. This December you are part of An Evening of Song, benefiting the Art Attack Foundation, headlined by Chita Rivera. What made you want to be part of this benefit? I am a product of public schools, and I don’t know if I’d be where I am today if my high school didn’t have such a strong drama program. I find it heartbreaking how arts programming is being stripped out of schools. I gotta do what I can to support groups that are bringing the arts to kids!

2. Since Chita Rivera is the headliner of the night, how have you been inspired by her in your own career? Chita is a legend, and could sit back on her laurels and enjoy being a queen of Broadway, but instead she is out there hoofing it for so many great organizations. And man, does she still got it! I have been an admirer of hers ever since I first learned what musical theatre was, and I’m only a greater admirer now.

Chita Rivera3. The mission of Art Attack Foundation is to inspire community leaders, businesses, and individuals to participate and contribute in the education, enhancement and development of young performing artists. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get into show business? I would say go to college. I believe that the more educated you are about the world, the better, smarter, more effective performer you will be.

4. What can you tell us about the song or songs you'll be performing at this benefit? Oh, I’m so excited, because I’ll be performing with my sexy and talented husband! We rarely get to do that these days. We’ll be doing "Summertime" off my album Sing You to Sleep. Freddie plays trumpet, and the way he plays with me on this song makes it feel like we’re singing a duet!

5. Last time we did an interview together, you were just about to give birth to your son. Now you are a mother of two. What did you learn from having your first child that you are glad to know now that you have your second child? Lord love a duck, you can never be prepared for a second child! Especially when they’re only 20 months apart. It’s relentless. But my boys are absolutely the best thing I’ve ever done. I remember hearing people say that and thinking it was cheesy, but now I understand what they mean. Anyway, to answer your question, I think I know better now not to panic at any fall or head bump or strange rash. Babies are resilient. Love ‘em well and they’ll be fine. Who’m I kidding, panic a little bit. It’s a scary world out there.

6. Also during our last interview, we were promoting your album Sing You To Sleep. Now that you have two kids, how does this album take on new meaning? My first son was OBSESSED with the album when he was a baby. It was the only thing that would get him to stop crying when we were in the car. Freddie and I had to listen to it hundreds of times. I got super sick of listening to myself, and couldn’t listen to it anymore. Then I realized just a couple weeks ago that my second son is 8-months old and has never heard it! So I pulled it back out and played it for him. He seemed to dig it as much as an 8-month-old can. It was really special to re-listen to it after about a year, and remember how much I hoped I would have children to play it for when I was choosing the songs. Then I got pregnant for the first time when we were recording it! And my boys’ papa plays on it! I feel incredibly lucky to have something like this as a keepsake for our family. Maybe my boys will play it for their children, and their children’s children. The story goes on...

The Larsen Family7. On this album you recorded Sting's "Fields of Gold." When do you feel like you are walking or when do you feel like you have walked through "Fields of Gold"? You know, that song is on the album for my brother Peik. He died suddenly and unexpectedly of sepsis at 42, leaving behind a wife, twin 4-year-old boys, and another son on the way. It was devastating. I sang "Fields of Gold" at my brother’s wedding, and then seven years later at the same church for his funeral. That was just a few months before we recorded the album, so I had to put the song on there. And then I dedicated the album to Peik and his family. Sometimes when we’re listening to the album I can listen to the song and think of my brother and laugh or cry, and sometimes I can’t take it and I have to forward past it. I’m so terribly sad that my boys will never know their Uncle Peik.

8. You also recorded "Somewhere Out There," one of my all time favorite songs. What is something you still want to accomplish that you just think "Somewhere Out There" I'll make this work? I have been very fortunate in my life. I’ve managed to have the career I dreamed of, and now I have the family I always dreamed of. So the only thing left is to live a life of balance between the two, where I get to work but also be a fully present mama to my boys, wife to my husband, and friend to my loved ones.

9. On my website I have section called "One Percent Better" where through my own fitness regime I try to inspire people to improve their lives by 1% better everyday. What is something in your life you want to improve by 1% better everyday? Sleep. Boy, I’d like to be getting better sleep. I remember the days when I was single and childless and working nights so I could sleep as late as I wanted in the morning. I didn’t appreciate it then...

10. I also have a new segment in my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now," where I try to clear up misconceptions about the person I'm interviewing. So, what do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about yourself that you'd like to clear the air about? Gosh, I have no idea! I’m not on social media, and I don’t read reviews, so I’m generally unaware of the things people are saying about me, and I’m content to keep it that way.

Anika LarsenMore on Anika:

Anika grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts with nine brothers and sisters from different races and countries. She made her performance debut singing with her siblings at her parents’ annual Christmas parties. Her mother thought they were the multi-cultural Von Trapps. Anika thought her brothers and sisters were holding her back. Or she might have just been a bossy little brat.

Anika spent the rest of her childhood grappling with whether she would rather be "Annie" or Whitney Houston. Ultimately Whitney won (RIP), but she realized her future lay in achieving a balance between the two. She did drama in high school, majored in theater at Yale, then came to the Big Apple to try her luck.

After college, Anika moved to New York City. Her first professional job was Rent, during which she was given the nickname Shafrika, which thankfully stuck better than the nickname her father gave her when she was little, Squeaka. After Rent, Anika was wicked psyched to see what show would come to her next, now that she was a Big Broadway Professional. She didn’t work again for two years, a painful but invaluable lesson. Eventually things picked up, and since then she has appeared on Broadway in Avenue QXanaduAll Shook Up, and currently, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Perhaps most exciting, Anika is the only person on the planet who can say she was in the original casts of both Xanadu and Zanna, Don’t!.

In 2007, with director April Nickell, Anika co-founded Jaradoa Theater, a company whose mission was to promote mercy, beauty and truth through performance and service. For four years they produced theatre that strove to resonate, inspire and reach audiences that didn’t usually have access to theatre, and they used theatre to serve the community, working in public middle schools, at-risk youth centers, teen alternative-to-incarceration programs, nursing homes, and homeless senior centers. There is nothing Anika’s done in her life that she’s prouder of.

In 2009, Jaradoa Theater produced a musical Anika wrote about her childhood, called Shafrika, The White Girl. After she was approached about interest in a TV version of her upbringing, Anika co-wrote a pilot with Orlando Bishop called The Joneses, a one-hour dramedy loosely based on her family, but set today. These experiences confirmed for Anika a love of collaborative writing, and she is currently writing a play with her longtime partner-in-crime, April Nickell. More on that as it develops.