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Entries in Musical Theatre (131)

Thursday
Aug032017

Call Redialed: Facetime Interview: Michael Feinstein: "Showstoppers" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Live from Feinstein's/54 Below, "Call Me Adam" brings the 11 o'clock number to this interview with Michael Feinstein, two-time Emmy & five-time Grammy nominee, about his upcoming concert Showstoppers at Feinstein's/54 Below!

It was great getting to catch-up with Michael, from learning why Michael initially wanted to purchase 54 Below to what he feels makes a song a "showstopper." We also clear the air about misconceptions & find out how Michael wants to improve his life by one percent better everyday!

Showstoppers will feature songs by iconic Broadway composers and lyricists such as Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Marvin Hamlisch, and even some contemporary composers and lyricists of today as well as the backstories of each song. Joining Michael at some of his shows will be Broadway's Erich Bergen (August 12), John Lloyd Young (August 23-27), and Betty Buckley (August 29-September 3).

Showstoppers will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) from August 8-September 3. Click here for tickets!

For more on Michael be sure to visit https://www.michaelfeinstein.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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

Call Me Adam's 11 o'clock interview with Michael Feinstein:

Michael Feinstein's preview of his concert Showstoppers:

More on Michael:

Two-time Emmy & five-time Grammy nominee Michael Feinstein is the Ambassador of the Great American Songbook. He has built a dazzling career over the last three decades bringing the music of the Great American Songbook to the world with recordings that have earned him five Grammy Award nominations, Emmy nominated PBS-TV specials, acclaimed NPR series, and concerts spanning the globe. His work as an educator and archivist define Feinstein as one of the most important musical forces of our time.

In 2007, he founded the Great American Songbook Foundation, dedicated to celebrating the art form and preserving it through educational programs, Master Classes, and the annual High School Songbook Academy. This summer intensive open to students from across the country has produced graduates who have gone on to record acclaimed albums and appear on television programs such as NBC’s America’s Got Talent. Michael serves on the Library of Congress’ National Recording Preservation Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s sound recording heritage.

Michael earned his fifth Grammy Award nomination in 2009 for The Sinatra Project, his CD celebrating the music of "'Ol' Blue Eyes." The Sinatra Project, Volume II: The Good Life was released in 2011. He released the CDs The Power Of Two – collaborating with Glee and 30 Rock star Cheyenne Jackson – and Cheek To Cheek, recorded with Broadway legend Barbara Cook. For Feinstein’s CD We Dreamed These Days, he co-wrote the title song with Dr. Maya Angelou.

Michael Feinstein "The Sinatra Legacy"Michael FeinsteinHis Emmy Award-nominated TV special Michael Feinstein – The Sinatra Legacy, which was taped live at the Palladium in Carmel, IN, aired across the country in 2011. The PBS series Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook, the recipient of the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Television Broadcast Award, was broadcast for three seasons and is available on DVD. His most recent primetime PBS-TV Special, New Year’s Eve at The Rainbow Room – written and directed by Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry – aired in 2014. For his nationally syndicated public radio program Song Travels, Michael interviews and performs alongside of music luminaries such as Bette Midler, Neil Sedaka, Liza Minnelli, Rickie Lee Jones, David Hyde Pierce and more.

Michael was named Principal Pops Conductor for the Pasadena Symphony in 2012 and made his conducting debut in June 2013 to celebrated critical acclaim. Under Michael’s leadership, the Pasadena Pops has quickly become a premier orchestral presenter of the Great American Songbook with definitive performances of rare orchestrations and classic arrangements. He launched an additional Pops series at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in Palm Beach, Florida in 2014.

Michael’s book The Gershwins and Me – the Los Angeles Times best-seller from Simon & Schuster – features a new CD of Gershwin standards performed with Cyrus Chestnut at the piano.

Michael serves as Artistic Director of the Palladium Center for the Performing Arts, a $170 million, three-theatre venue in Carmel, Indiana, which opened in January 2011. The theater is home to diverse live programming and a museum for his rare memorabilia and manuscripts. Since 1999, he has served as Artistic Director for Carnegie Hall’s Standard Time with Michael Feinstein in conjunction with ASCAP. In 2010 he became the director of the Jazz and Popular Song Series at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Michael FeinsteinLiza MinnelliFeinstein’s at the Nikko, Michael’s nightclub at San Francisco’s Nikko Hotel, has presented the top talents of pop and jazz since 2013. He debuted at Feinstein’s/54 Below, his new club in New York, late in 2015. His first venue in New York, Feinstein’s at the Regency, featured major entertainers such as Rosemary Clooney, Glen Campbell, Barbara Cook, Diahann Carroll, Jane Krakowski, Lea Michele, Cyndi Lauper, Jason Mraz and Alan Cumming from 1999 to 2012.

He has designed a new piano for Steinway called The First Ladies, inspired by the White House piano and signed by several former First Ladies. It was first played to commemorate the Ronald Regan centennial on February 6, 2011.

In 2013 Michael released Change Of Heart: The Songs of Andre Previn in collaboration with four time Oscar and eleven time Grammy Award-winning composer-conductor-pianist Andre Previn. The album celebrates Previn’s pop songs and motion picture classics. Earlier album highlights include Hopeless Romantics, a songbook of classics by Michael’s late friend Harry Warren, recording with legendary jazz pianist George Shearing. His album with songwriting icon Jimmy Webb, Only One Life – The Songs of Jimmy Webb, was named one of "10 Best CDs of the Year" by USA Today.

Michael received his fourth Grammy nomination for Michael Feinstein with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, his first recording with a symphony orchestra. The year before, Rhino/Elektra Music released The Michael Feinstein Anthology, a two-disc compilation spanning 1987 to 1996 and featuring old favorites and previously-unreleased tracks.

Michael was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he started playing piano by ear as a 5-year-old. After graduating from high school, he moved to Los Angeles when he was 20. The widow of legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant introduced him to Ira Gershwin in July 1977. Michael became Gershwin’s assistant for six years, which earned him access to numerous unpublished Gershwin songs, many of which he has since performed and recorded.

Gershwin’s influence provided a solid base upon which Michael evolved into a captivating performer, composer and arranger of his own original music. He also has become an unparalleled interpreter of music legends such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Harry Warren. Feinstein has received three honorary doctorates.

Through his live performances, recordings, film and television appearances, and his songwriting (in collaboration with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Lindy Robbins, Bob Merrill and Marshall Barer), Feinstein is an all-star force in American music.

Wednesday
Jul262017

Call Redialed: Drew Brody: Curvy Widow at Westside Theatre NYC

Drew Brody, Photo Credit: Matthu PlacekThe year was 2009 when I was first introduced to singer/songwriter Drew Brody when he not only opened for singer/songwriter Jay Brannan, but Drew also co-produced Jay's album In Living Cover. I've been a fan ever since.

Over the past few years, the musical theatre world has been very lucky to have Drew's composing/writing. From Cutman: A Boxing Musical at Goodspeed Theatre to Derma at the Piccolo Spoleto, Drew's talents are finally arriving Off-Broadway with the new musical Curvy Widow, starring Tony nominee Nancy Opel. It's been a few years since Drew & I have spoken, so I thought now would be the perfect time to catch up with Drew. Much to my delight, Drew once again answered my call.

Curvy Widow is based on the true story of a sassy, witty, & feisty fifty-something widow whose adventures inspire laughter and, in the least expected places — reveal truths about life, love, and sex. From surviving hilarious first dates, to her intimate conquests, this widow navigates her way through it all with humor and perseverance. Featuring a brilliant cast of best friends, a dead husband, and a myriad of potential suitors — "Curvy" learns the hard way what it means to start life over in the modern age.

Curvy Widow plays at The Westside Theatre (407 West 43rd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Drew be sure to visit http://www.drewbrody.com and follow him on Twitter and YouTube!

Cast of "Curvy Widow" in the George Street Playhouse production, Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson1. It's so great to catch up with you Drew! You are the composer/lyricist for the new Off-Broadway musical Curvy Widow. How did you come to be involved with this show? I was introduced to Bobby Goldman through our General Manager, Aaron Lustbader. I had just finished up Cutman and was looking for new projects and collaborators. He told me he had someone he wanted to meet who was looking for a composer on an original show. I met Bobby and she had an idea for a different show, not Curvy, and I agreed to write a song to see how well we could collaborate together. In order to prove to me that she could string a sentence together, she sent me the manuscript of the memoir version of Curvy Widow. I started reading it on a plane ride, and by the time I landed, the margins were full of notes, lyric ideas, scene ideas—it was so clearly a musical to me, it was jumping off the page. I sent her an email saying "You know this is a musical, right?" The response from her had too many expletives to print—who wants their life to be a musical? But when I went to play her the song I had written for the other project, I told her I had something else to show. It was an early version of the song that’s now called "Turn the Page." By the end of the song, she was in tears, and said "Ok, we’ll write the stupid show, you jerk."

2. What was your process in writing the music/lyrics for this show? The process changed at different stages of the show. At first, I really mined the memoir for lyric ideas and song inspiration. At this point in the process, the lyrics came first, and the song styles followed. As we came to know our show more, this process reversed, because I wanted to diversify the range of song styles and tempos. For example, we had a scene where Bobby visits several gynecologists in a row to try to address an issue. When we decided to turn it into a musical number, it was very clear that of course this needs to be a tango number, and the lyrics followed. Throughout I worked very closely with Bobby to make sure I stayed in her voice, and then later in the process with our director Peter Flynn and with Nancy Opel, who plays "Bobby" in the show, to make sure the music and lyrics were consistent in tone and comfortable and consistent with the character that we were developing.

Nancy Opel as "Curvy" in the George Street Playhouse production of "Curvy Widow', Photo Credit: T Charles EricksonNancy Opel as "Curvy" in the George Street Playhouse production of "Curvy Widow', Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson3. What was the hardest song to write and what was the most fun song to write? The hardest song to write was the opening number. I wrote about seven different opening numbers for this show, and then changed it completely between Asheville and New Jersey. I had to let go of a lot of exposition over time as we came to understand exactly what information we needed to get out in order to launch our show. I really struggled with how it should sound and we also struggled about whether or not the inciting incident for our show - "Jim’s" death - should happen in the opening or right after.

The most fun song to write was the song of "Bobby’s" first date after "Jim’s" death, "A New Hand." I was laughing out loud as I wrote it—"Bobby" has no idea how to be on a date because she had been with "Jim" since she was a senior in college. Her date’s not much slicker. It’s a scene/song that plays out so well between Nancy and Alan—they’re perfectly awkward and it’s everything I imagined when I wrote it and more.

4. Which character in the show is most like you? Which character were you glad not to be? I don’t think any of these characters are like me very much, although I relate to the journey.

5. Curvy Widow tells the story of a gutsy, recently widowed 50-something woman as she immerses herself in the modern dating scene who discovers the unexpected truths about love, life and sex. What do you feel most people will relate to about this show? I’ve been surprised at how much people relate to this show, even if they have very little in common with the main character. Any one who has experienced loss that causes them to start over again—whether that’s through death, divorce, breakup—can relate to the feeling of needing to look at everything through a new lens and say "Which part of this life is me and which part was us?"

Cast of "Curvy Widow" in the George Street Playhouse production, Photo Credit: T Charles EricksonAlan Muraoka and Nancy Opel in the George Street Playhouse production of "Curvy Widow', Photo Credit: T Charles Erickson6. Since the character of "Bobby" is a gutsy woman, what is the most gutsy thing you've done so far in your life or career? The gutsiest thing I’ve done in my career was the original decision to pursue music as a career. I came to New York with a scholarship to law school and my life was heading full speed down that track, and I decided to take a major left turn. I saw very clearly what that life would have been like and had no idea what a life in music was going to be, but it was and is my passion and I felt I needed to take the risk.

7. In composing this show, what did you learn about love, life, and sex? I learned that there’s a universal struggle between wanting to be with someone and wanting independence, and everyone needs to figure out for themselves where on that spectrum they’re most comfortable. Those desires can be different at different periods of life, but the question itself—where’s my balance between independence and wanting a partner?—is always there.

8. In this show, "Bobby" learns the hard way what it means to start life over in the modern age. Has there been a time in your life thus far where you felt you had to start life over? Coincidentally, I did go through a breakup a couple years ago, and I found myself going through many of the stages that our lead character goes through in the show, from reclaiming space through piecing together a new life. It felt completely like a new beginning, in all the ways that new beginnings are terrifying but also opportunities to create a new way of being, with new habits, new patterns, new relationships, and ultimately a new sense of who I am entirely.

9. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I’m trying to be less wasteful; it would be great to reduce that by one percent every day. My main effort in this department has been to cook more and more for myself.

Drew Brody, Photo Credit: Matthu PlacekMore on Drew:

Drew Brody tunes present a rare treat for singers. "A seemingly effortless and brilliant marriage of content, character, and music." Quote from Beth Malone, star of Fun Home, in an Out.com feature, July 28, 2016

Drew Brody is a New York City-based songwriter who brings his experience in the rock, pop, and folk music world to his musical theater sensibility. His unique background allows him to work comfortably across many genres, and his songs have been sung by Broadway stars including Alan Cumming, Nancy Opel, Beth Malone, Robert Cuccioli, Sally Mayes, Lilli Cooper, Justin Sargent, Adrienne Warren, and many more.

Drew wrote the music and lyrics for Curvy Widow, a new musical based on a memoir by Bobby Goldman, starring Nancy Opel and directed by Peter Flynn, which had its first commercial production at NC Stages in November 2016 and a second run at George Street Playhouse in New Jersey in May 2017, now it's running Off-Broadway in NYC at the Westside Theatre. He’s also written music for the comedy Oh, Hello, starring Nick Kroll and John Mulaney and directed by Alex Timbers, which opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theater in October 2016. Additional credits include: music and lyrics for Cutman: A Boxing Musical, produced by Goodspeed Theaters in the spring of 2011; music and lyrics for Derma, which ran at the Piccolo Spoleto festival in 2013; music and lyrics for Wilshire, with a book by Bobby Goldman and a stage reading directed by Rob Ashford; music and lyrics for Mudge Boy, an adaptation of the Showtime movie, in collaboration with Brett Smock; and two other new musicals currently in development. Other theater credits include the underscoring music and lyrics for the play Lightning Field, which won Outstanding Play at FringeNYC in 2005.

Drew wrote and recorded two albums with Richard Rodgers award-winning composer Derek Gregor as the rock band M-LAB, with which Drew performed as lead singer and toured during the 2000s. Drew also released two solo albums on Baskethouse Records and co-produced two albums for songwriter Jay Brannan. Recently, Drew composed the score for the acclaimed film, Stephen Winter’s Jason and Shirley, which premiered at the MoMA and has been touring movie festivals, and released an EP, A Little Single, in collaboration with fellow singer-songwriter Lance Horne.

Thursday
Jul132017

Call Redialed: Daphne Rubin-Vega: REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival

Daphne Rubin-VegaI feel so lucky to get to do another interview with two-time Tony nominee Daphne Rubin-Vega. I am definitely one of her biggest fans and when I found out she was going to be the spokesperson this summer for REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival, I knew it was time to give her another call to talk about this venture. Much to my delight, Daphne answered my call yet again! 

I love how Daphne & I tied in her life experiences with what she hopes these students will learn from her & the program. Daphne always opens up to me with great personal experiences and these kids are very lucky to be learning from her.

Developing Artists, in a new partnership with Vineyard Theatre, brings its REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival to a new home at Vineyard Theatre (108 E. 15th St.) with performances Thursday, July 27th, July 28th, July 29th, August 3rd, August 4th and August 5th. Daphne Rubin-Vega is the spokesperson for REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival, which presents some of the best youth companies in the region. Unlike any other theatre festival, REBEL VERSES provides an opportunity for high school students to perform their own original work and to celebrate the work of their peers, and gives audiences a platform for open dialogue with emerging young artists from other companies in New York City and around the region. Now in its 13th year, the festival was born out of the need for a platform where young artists can express themselves honestly and in an environment that recognizes the legitimacy of all stories and backgrounds. With a mission to journey into the unapologetic and unrestrained creativity of the next generation, REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival values diverse stories ranging across age, sex, race and time. For tickets and further information visit http://www.developingartists.org! 

For more on Daphne be sure to visit http://www.daphnerubin-vega.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This summer you are the spokesperson for the REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival. How did this come to be? I have known Jill [DeArmon] and Jinn [Kim], the founders of Developing Artists and REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival, for many years. We share roots in the theatre going back to our days at The LAByrinth Theater Company. When they approached me about working with their students this summer, I was ready to jump in and help any way I could.

2. What do you hope the kids partaking in this festival will come away with after the festival is complete? I hope these kids experience a level of awareness that their voices have an impact - that they are not alone in their struggles to be heard and they can find strength in discovering and developing their own voices. I want them to walk away knowing that their creativity matters in a world that often appears neither to notice nor care.

3. What do you feel you will bring to the festival that another spokesperson might not? I bring me! I was in these students’ shoes - I was that child that wished for and would have benefited so much from this artistic outlet. I know how vital this program is for the development of a young person in poor or working class conditions in this city, especially in the middle of summer, when distractions and temptations are around every corner.

REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival students, Photo Credit: Bobby Rodriguez4. What do you think the kids will find the most fun part about this festival and what will be most challenging for them? The fun is in the challenge to express themselves at this vulnerable stage of their lives. It’s exciting and terrifying all at once! It’s also a great experience to discover talents you didn’t know you had, or cared to explore further, and be encouraged and empowered to pursue them. Perhaps not everyone will pursue work as an artist, but everyone involved in REBEL VERSES will grow for the better because of the tools they gain here.

5. What excites you about working with this next generation of artists? It excites me to be involved with and of service to the younger generation, period. If these kids want to exercise their creative voices, so much the better! I’m here to encourage them and say, "Yes, I came from where you are. I did it. And you can too!" I also can’t underestimate what I learn from them - most times, I think that I’m the lucky one here!

6. As a mother yourself, if your son wanted to take part in this festival, why do you think it would be a good idea for him to do so? omg My son plays soccer, which is all about teamwork, as is REBEL VERSES. It would present him with different approaches to collaboration and leadership. These students learn to work together, respect and support one another, and have fun while doing it!! My son plays soccer.

Daphne Rubin-Vega with the REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival students, Photo Credit: Kevin WeinboldDaphne Rubin-Vega with REBEL VERSES Youth Arts Festival students, Photo Credit: Kevin Weinbold7. What do you think the established artists taking part in this festival will learn from the students? We have the opportunity to wonder again! We are reminded why we are artists in the first place. That’s a huge idea to meditate on. I get very moved and inspired watching young people create. There’s infinite possibility in wonder. The older I get, the more fascinated I am by the resilience of youth.

8. What is something that you wish you knew as a young actress that you can impart on the next generation? Society is stumbling over itself to mold and define you. When you look a certain way, wear certain clothes, and speak a particular way, the world is making judgments and trying to understand where you fit in. This is YOUR time to see that - rebel against it, accept it, reject it, question it, embrace it; but whatever you choose to do with that, be undeniably YOU! No one else is or ever will be you - make that a good thing!

9. What is the one mistake you made, either professionally or personally, that you hope they don't make? There was a period in my life when I was very ashamed of my past. What a waste of time! My past and my experiences are the very things that make me special. Don’t forget that. Also…be punctual. Early bird gets the worm.

10. What is a F.U.Q. you hope to be able to answer for one of these students? OOOOH! What is the one things that separates us all? Being me. Otherwise, we are all one.

Daphne Rubin-VegaMore on Daphne:

Daphne Rubin-Vega is a two-time Tony and Drama Desk nominee (1996/2004) and the recipient of the Theater World, Obie (1996) and Blockbuster (1998) awards. She has been a member of the Labyrinth Theater Company since 1992. Daphne is perhaps best known for originating the roles of "Mimi" in RENT and "Conchita" in Anna in the Tropics; both were Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway shows for which she was nominated for Tony Awards. She originated the role of "Rahmi" in Karen Hartman’s Gum, "Sofia" in Nilo Cruz’s Two Sisters and a Piano, "Canary Mary" in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Fucking A (Lucille Lortel nomination) and "Lucy" in Bob Glaudini’s Jack Goes Boating at the Public Theater. She also starred in the Broadway revivals of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Magenta) and Les Miserables (Fantine).

Daphne’s film credits include detective "Gloria Perez" in Wild Things, starring Kevin Bacon and Matt Dillon (Blockbuster Award for Best Supporting Actress); "Tia" in Flawless, opposite Robert De Niro; and, most recently, reprising the role of "Lucy" in the film version of Jack Goes Boating, which was Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s film directorial debut. Other films include JusticeSkeleton Woman (New York Independent Film Award), VirginSex and the City, and I Like It Like That. Daphne is recognized for her singing as well as her acting. She was a member of the girl group Pajama Party, whose single "Yo No Se" reached the top of the Billboard dance charts. They made two albums on Atlantic Records before Daphne began writing and recording solo singles for the indie dance label Maxi. In 1997 Daphne released her first album of original music Souvenirs on the Mercury label, and in 2006 she produced, performed, and primarily wrote Redemption Songs (Sh-K- Boom). Daphne has contributed to various musical projects, including her notorious version of "Feliz Navidad" for Broadway Cares and her club smash cover of "Rocketman." In 2005, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Kean University. "Dr." Rubin-Vega was born in Panama and raised in New York City, where she lives with her husband and son.

Tuesday
Jun132017

Call Redialed: Lane Bradbury: "Let Me Entertain You, Again" at Don't Tell Mama

Lane Bradbury, Photo Credit: Angelique HannahThey say the third time's a charm and that couldn't be more true. I have interviewed Lane Bradbury, Broadway's original "Dainty June" in Gypsy twice before about her upcoming one-woman show Let Me Entertain You, Again, but this time around, we really got deep into the heart of this show, Lane's struggles, her freedoms, and most of all, the backstage drama of Lane's time working with Ethel Merman & Jerome Robbins in Broadway's original production Gypsy!

Written by Doug DeVita and directed by Elkin Antoniou, Let Me Entertain You, Again is a highly personal tour of how Lane Bradbury went from being an Atlanta Debutante to a performer on "The Great White Way" during the Golden Age of Broadway. Songs include "Gee, But It's Good To Be Here," "Corner Of The Sky," and "Another Hundred People," among others, as well as four songs from Gypsy: "Broadway," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "If Momma Was Married," and, of course, "Let Me Entertain You."

Let Me Entertain You, Again played it's first return engagement on June 6 and will now play it's second performance Thursday, June 29 at 7pm at Don't Tell Mama in NYC (343 West 46th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Lane be sure to visit http://lanebradbury.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

1. This June you are bringing back your one-woman show, Let Me Entertain You, Again to NYC, but this time you are performing it at Don't Tell Mama. What made now the right time to return with this show? I got an amazing manager by the name of Stephen Hanks and this was the first thing we did together, so that's why now.

2. Why did you want to do this run at Don't Tell Mama? It's a classic place. I love the intimacy of the venue. I mean "Don't Tell Mama," the title alone just sounds so enticing and it adds a little bit of sweet wickedness to that name. And I've seen other cabaret shows there, so I just felt the venue was perfect for me.

Me: Also since you created the role of "Dainty June" in Broadway's Gypsy and you had "Mama" in that show, "Mama Rose," maybe there's a little tie in there with "Don't Tell Mama." 

Lane: You just put that together, [laughs], but "Mama" sure does stand out.

Lane Bradbury in "Let Me Entertain You, Again" at Don't Tell Mama 2017, Photo Credit: Stephen Hanks3. What do you hope to gain from this return engagement that you did not get from your previous mountings of this show? I would like to keep the momentum going and get more engagements of Let Me Entertain You, Again because it's so much fun to do.

Me: Well, it's a lot of fun to watch.

4. This is the third production of Let Me Entertain You, Again that I will be coming to see. Where do you hope this show will take you/your career? I would love to do another Broadway musical. That would just be the perfect icing on the cake. I would love to do a play too, but prefer a musical because I love music. 

5. Which part of the show, Let Me Entertain You, Again, is the hardest for you to perform? Which part is the most fun? There is no hard part, just fun. I talk about this in the show, but I came back to this show with a lot of fear, so much so that it paralyzed me. I would get sooo furious when I got something wrong, but after working with my daughter Elkin Antoniou and her husband film director Bobby Garabedian, they really got me me to loosen up and absolutely fall into freedom and joy and let the mistakes become okay. I've known this from acting, sometimes the best moments are the times when you make a mistake and then something real takes over. You go into your unconscious and something wonderful comes out. That's just a great thing to know and to try to live by. Elkin and Bobby really showed me that.

Lane Bradbury in "Let Me Entertain You, Again" at Don't Tell Mama 2017, Photo Credit: Stephen Hanks6. In our very first interview back in 2009, I asked you "What was your worst experience in a show?" At that time, you had said "Working with Jerome Robbins in Gypsy was your worst experience." If Gypsy were being mounted today with you, Ethel Merman, and Jerome Robbins as director and choreographer, how do you think Lane Bradbury of today would handle those big personalities as opposed to Lane Bradbury of yesterday? I hope, with Jerry, from the experiences I've had and the years I've got under my belt would help me not become so paralyzed by his personality and that I would say something like "You know you want a good performance from me. I want a good performance too. The best way to get that is to be positive with me and encourage me, rather than put me down because, now, I have to rise above all your negativity and that's just really hard to do. So you are making your job and my job harder."

With Merman, I don't know how you communicate with somebody who doesn't communicate. Unless, in the interim, she had grown some or exerpienced something in life that would have changed her, I would probably do the same that I did back then, just do the best performance I could do and pretend I was working with someone else, rather than actually working with her. That's one of the things we learn to do in method acting, if the character or the other actor in the scene doesn't work for you in the way they should, then you think they are someone else so it doesn't hang you up. It makes it real for you.

Me: That says so much about the struggle you went through at the time and it's great to hear how much stronger you are now and rise above it all.

Lane: I sure hope so. As artists there is something very delicate and exposed about us and that needs to be protected. That was something Jerome Robbins, I don't think really understood, although he went to the studio, so he was taught that, but a lot of people that know the method seem to have something about their personality where they just can't be as positive as we would like them to be. As artists we have to adjust the best we can and somehow be able to use whatever they are giving us to be better and not let ourselves go down into that negative place where there is no getting back from.

Me: Well, I think you would be able to do it.

Lane: I think I would too. [Laughs]. But I'm looking back over the road at how difficult that was.

Me: Sure and at the time you were just a teenager.

Lane: I was 17. Until that time, I had never come across that negativity. My ballet teacher was an angel and the most positive being in my life. Then when I did Ondine, they just encouraged everything I did, so when I got with Jerry Robbins, it was such a shocker, just something out of the blue.

Me: Especially after coming from such a positive reinforcement with your ballet teacher to go to his negativity, I'm sure it was quite a shock.

Lane: It was. Truly, truly, truly.

Lane Bradbury in "Let Me Entertain You, Again" at Don't Tell Mama 2017, Photo Credit: Stephen Hanks7. With your dream of coming back to Broadway, if you could be put into any show currently running on Broadway or coming next season, which show or shows would you like to be part of? I don't get into Manhattan a lot to go to the theatre, but I'd love to play "Diana" in a revival of Next To Normal (even though I'm probably too old for the part, I could pull it off). That would be the pennacle role for me.

Me: I think you could pull it off. I remember in one of our previous interviews you mentioned wanting to work with Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey and how you'd love them to write you a musical about "Diana" after she gets out of treament. So, let's put this out there again for that to happen.

Lane: Yes, lets. And the other show I'm really really right for would be Pippin. While I was doing Let Me Entertain You, Again in LA, someone said to me, "Lane, you should play 'Madame Rose'" in Gypsy. I thought, I could do that, even though I feel my size would work a little bit against me, my voice would work for me. I wish I knew more of the current season, but I'm hoping Let Me Entertain You, Again, will put me in a better position to see more shows.

8. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I would still love to drop away the negativity that comes into your mind when something doesn't go right and replace it with the magic and wonder that is positive. I know to do that, but it's so easy for the little dark thoughts to invade us, but the quicker we can get over those, shed them and put something positive in there, the better off we are. It's a habbit we need to do.

Me: You have to consciously work at it, to put the postive in your mind and not let the negative take over.

Lane: Right.

Lane Bradbury, Photo Credit: Angelique HannahMore on Lane:

Lane Bradbury created the role of "Dainty June" in Broadway's Gypsy starring Ethel Merman. Her other stage credits include J.B., The Night of the Iguana, and Marathon '33. Her film credits include Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Hawaii, The Barony, and Consenting Adults, and her TV work includes In the Heat of the Night, Kung Fu, The Rockford Files, The Partridge Family, The Waltons, and The Mod Squad.

Wednesday
Jun072017

Call Answered: Robbie Rozelle: "Songs From Inside My Locker" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Robbie RozelleFor many people, high school sucks. It was some of the worst years of my life from the teasing to my head being hit into a metal poll in the gym locker room, I couldn't wait to get out of dodge. The best part about adulthood is looking back to see how far you've come and for Robbie Rozelle, he has come a long way! He has directed & written or co-written sold-out shows for Tony nominees Kate Baldwin (Finian's Rainbow) & Melissa Errico (Amour), Elena Shaddow (The Visit), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Women on the Verge), RuPaul's Drag Race season 7 contestant Mrs. Kasha Davis and frequent collaborator Jessica Vosk ("Elephaba" on the Wicked tour), and this September 9, Robbie will be directing my comedic cabaret debut called Dates of Discontent at The Laurie Beechman Theatre!

But before that happens, Robbie will be making his solo cabaret debut with Songs From Inside My Locker this Friday, June 9 at Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street) at 9:30pm! Wandering his high school hallways, Robbie would often find himself shoved in a locker for singing from The Rink too loudly. With his signature wit and style, Robbie grabs the tiger by the tail in a hilarious romp of the songs that got him through a blistering high school experience, featuring a treasure trove of songs ranging from Kander & Ebb to Carrie. Songs From Inside My Locker is the balm to the chaos of these crazy times. Click here for tickets!

For more on Robbie be sure to visit https://www.robbierozelle.com and follow him @divarobbie on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Robbie Rozelle, Photo Credit: Dianna Bush Photography1. This June you are making your debut solo show at Feinstein's/54 Below with Songs From Inside My Locker. After directing shows for Jessica Vosk, Melissa Errico, Kate Baldwin and Nikka Graff Lanzarone, what made now the right time to make your solo debut? It seems that the shows I wrote/co-wrote for them (in addition to directing) all had my fingerprints on them, specifically the jokes. After this past election, I just decided that I wasn’t going to let anything scare me, including getting up in front of a crowded room of 150 people, who have all paid a great deal to get in, and sing 15 songs.

2. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Honestly, it was seeing all those movie musicals – The Wizard of Oz had a profound effect on me. I miss those yearly airings where you gathered with your family around the TV for an event. I guess the closest things to that now are the live musicals like The Wiz and Grease. And with social media, the family has grown rather large.

3. Your musical direction is by Josh D. Smith. As a director/writer yourself, do you find it difficult to let someone else direct your own show? Do you ever try to give your "director" input? I’ve known Josh for over 20 years. He’s just so wonderful. He’s also taken my rudimentary ideas and made them real things – that’s really great since I don’t read music. I wrote and directed the thing myself, but his input is invaluable. Wait until you hear his incredible arrangements!

4. This show is called Songs From Inside My Locker. What songs would we find in high school Robbie's locker and what songs would we find in adult Robbie of today? High school was a weird time for me – I sang a lot of hybrids of movie musicals (The Sound of MusicFunny GirlThe Wizard of Oz) and the popular musicals of the time were Phantom of the Opera and Les Miz. The first two cassette tapes I ever bought were Dionne Warwick’s Greatest Hits (1972-1990), because "That’s What Friends Are For" was the first song, and the Beaches soundtrack, for the obvious reasons.

Nowadays, I listen to mostly show tunes (both for my job and because I love them), a lot of Ella Fitzgerald, and a lot of acoustic pop like Jason Mraz. Shout-out to whoever created the "Acoustic Covers" and "Your Favorite Coffeehouse" playlists on Spotify, because that gets a lot of love in my house.

Robbie Rozelle, Photo Credit: Dianna Bush Photography5. You describe Songs From Inside My Locker as being the balm to the chaos of wandering your high school hallways, and finding yourself often shoved in a locker for singing from The Rink too loudly. Let's see how well you did in math...If there are 4 years in high school, 180 days in the school year, 5 days in the week, and 8 hours in the day, how many times do you think you were shoved in a locker during your high school years? I…was terrible in math. Legitimately terrible. Also, I had three lockers (my main one, my choir one, and gym), so suffice it to say, I was in one more than I was in a classroom.

6. Why did you want this show about this particular time in your life, be your debut show? I really loathe the cabaret trope of "I moved to NYC to become an actress, and had my heart broken," so I needed to find a hook for it. I think the answer became clearer when I realized that the high school bully was in the highest office in the land. So I just want to have a joy explosion all over Feinstein’s/54 Below of all the songs I was bullied for singing, with people paying a lot of money for the privilege.

7. Being so far (you're welcome for hinting at your age) out of high school, what was it like to go back to this time in your life now? Did old emotions come up? What did you learn about yourself from writing this show that you didi not know about yourself going through this rough time? Looking at that time of my life through the prism of time, it’s a bit weird. I was looking at some old photos, and there I am in overalls with one strap hanging, and bad mushroom haircuts, and thinking "man, I was so skinny!" I’ve always had the gift of bounce and laughter, so while things really sucked in high school, I’m able to laugh at most of it. Weirdly, since this show was announced, a lot of my high school peeps (some I don’t even remember) have reached out – some to apologize for their high school behavior, some to congratulate me about the show, some to say they would be there. I was openly gay in high school, in a pre-Ellen, pre-Will & Grace era, so I realize that my visibility was really important. That knowledge has had a profound impact on me.

Robbie Rozelle8. While writing this show, what part made you cry? What part made laugh? What part made you go, "I'm so much stronger now"? My first day of high school, four seniors grabbed me, wrapped me in the mat that was in front of the main doors, and dropped me next to the dumpster. I was all of maybe 130 pounds. That was terrifying, but it also told me that I better pull myself up by my bootstraps, because it wasn’t going to be amazing all the time. But I also gravitated to a group of senior girls, who took me under their wing and took care of me. Those ladies made sure that I wasn’t thoroughly terrorized. They were probably my first audience, people who would laugh at my jokes, and became my tribe. I have no doubt in my mind that I would not be alive but for those strong women and the musical theatre. So, that’s the dark. But with dark stuff, there’s light, right? Someone asked me what I would tell 16 year old me, and I gotta say, I’d tell him to do exactly the same thing. I’m just fine. I’m doing things I love with people I love, and I can’t think of honestly anything better (except maybe a woman President).

9. Besides this hilarious romp through high school, what other romps have these songs you are presenting accompanied you through? Literally every thing in my life. They were my playlist to accompany my life from start to finish. We have a Charles Nelson Reilly/Paul Lynde medley in the show, because those guys were my heroes – quippy funny men who weren’t ashamed of who they were.

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I’d love to give up carbonated beverages and biting my nails. I don’t know how to do that by one percent daily, but that’s the goal! (Told you I was terrible at math!)

Robbie Rozelle, Photo Credit: Kate Lumpkin More on Robbie:

Robbie Rozelle does jokes. He has also directed and written or co-written sold-out cabaret shows for Tony Award nominee Melissa Errico (Amour), Tony nominee Kate Baldwin (Finian's Rainbow), Elena Shaddow (The Visit), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Women on the Verge), Steven Ferezy, Jonathan Demar, Rachel Levy, RuPaul's Drag Race season 7 contestant Mrs. Kasha Davis and frequent collaborator Jessica Vosk ("Elephaba" on the Wicked tour).

As a former actor who once played "Charlie Brown" and "Dr. Frank 'n' Furter" in the same year, Robbie is the recipient of the NEPTA award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his tongue-twisting turn as "Trevor Grayden" in Thoroughly Modern Millie. He has also appeared in Sondheimas at 54 Below and several shows at The Duplex. He co-produced the album Cynthia Erivo and Oliver Tompsett Sing Scott Alan [Deluxe Edition], executive produced Astoria Boulevard's debut album and was an associate producer of Jonathan Reid Gealt's Whatever I Want It To Be. Robbie is a Grammy voting member. For three years, Robbie served as the graphic designer and creative director for Playbill, culminating in the design he is most proud of, the branding of #PlaybillPride, a 30-day initiative of the LGBT movement in the theatre that included a redesign of their historic logo for the month of June 2014. Playbill Pride returned for a second year in 2015, where Robbie art directed the magazine. Playbill Pride returned again in 2016, again with Robbie's work. He currently serves as the in-house designer for Grammy-winning record label Broadway Records, where he designed the iconic "What the World Needs Now is Love" in response to Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. He also runs Ghostlight Design. When not designing, he can usually be found tweeting jokes and random musings at @divarobbie.