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Entries in Musical Theatre (126)

Monday
May222017

Call Answered: Conference Call: Bryce Pinkham & Lauren Worsham: 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists + A Gentleman's Guide To Love & Murder

Bryce Pinkham and Lauren Worsham, Photo Credit: Walter McBride"Stop! Wait! What?" I'm getting to interview Tony Nominees Bryce Pinkham & Lauren Worsham whom I LOVED in the Tony Award winning musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder! With "Poison in My Pocket," I got Bryce & Lauren to open up about GGLAM antics and reuniting for the 92Y Lyrics & Lyricists series From Camelot to California: The Worlds of Lerner & Lowe!

Scotland, California, Covent Garden, Paris, Camelot — lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe evoked entire worlds in their groundbreaking musicals. Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, My Fair Lady, Gigi and Camelot all were conjured by the Old World Austrian Loewe and the Harvard-educated American Lerner. Rob Berman, music director of the New York City Center Encores! series and recent Broadway musicals Dames at Sea, Bright Star and Tuck Everlasting, makes his Lyrics & Lyricists debut as artistic director for an entrancing show that revels in their romantic songs, from "Almost Like Being in Love" to "I Could Have Danced All Night."

From Camelot to California: The Worlds of Lerner & Lowe will take place June 3-5 at 92Y (Lexington Avenue & 92nd Street). Click here for tickets!

For more on Bryce follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

For more on Lauren visit http://laurenworsham.com and follow her on Twitter!

For more on 92Y visit http://www.92y.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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

Bryce Pinkham: My parents were called into a parent/teacher conference in the first grade in which the teacher begged them to find their son a stage other than her classroom. To this day, that compassionate, patient and apparently prescient teacher remains a friend of the family.

Lauren Worsham: My mother inspired me to become a performer. I was a bit of a class clown and a troublemaker, always seeking attention. My mother put me in theater programs as a child in order to channel some of that attention-seeking energy into something positive. It worked. :)

Bryce Pinkham backstage at the 2014 Tony Awards2. This June you are going to be part of the the 92Y's Lyrics & Lyricist concert series featuring the music of Lerner & Loewe. What is it about their music that made you want to be part of this particular concert series?

Bryce Pinkham: The style of the music from their period seems to suit my voice. They also understood how to write really complicated characters. Who else could have turned a George Bernard Shaw play into a musical? Also, I really wanted to work with Rob Berman; he is a brilliant mind and an all-around nice guy.

Lauren Worsham: Truth be told, I would giddily be a part of any project involving Rob Berman and Chase Brock. I've worked with both Chase and Rob on different gigs. I've done two shows with Rob through NY City Center Encores!: -  Where's Charley and Big River. Chase choreographed my rock band's piece "The Wildness" at Ars Nova when I was 7 months pregnant. The gorgeous music of Lerner and Loewe is icing on the collaboration cake!

3. What do you think will excited and surprise 92Y audiences about this concert?

Bryce Pinkham: I'll be singing "Eliza Doolittle" songs in drag, I expect that will be a surprising for some and exciting for others.

Lauren Worsham: I cannot imagine a better group of individuals to put on a show. I also know the majority of them personally. Lilli and I played opposite each other in The Wildness and Bryce and I played opposite each other in A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder. I think those personal relationships help to fast track our team to dig deeper more quickly. I also know that Rob's knowledge of the musical theater canon is vast and I cannot wait to see how he puts everything together

Bryce Pinkham in Madagascar4. One of the songs being performed is "Almost Like Being In Love." When scenario has happened to you that made you feel it was "Almost Like Being In Love"?

Bryce Pinkham: Well, I've never gone hunting with a buddy in Scotland and met a girl from a mysterious disappearing village, so maybe a better question would be "Have you ever allowed someone else's life to mean more to you than anything else?" To which my answer would have to be: I am trying to constantly find ways to make other people (particularly strangers) lives' better. A good friend and I went to Madagascar and built a theater show with 14 at-risk kids whose language we didn't speak. In the process, we rediscovered why the performing arts have great potential to change lives. We were also reminded how by placing one's attention on someone else one can reconnect to their humanity, that pure empathic generator that show-business so often clouds with ego and shrouds with fear. Watching 14 children who had never seen a stage before ultimately perform a show they created for their own community in their native language and subsequently receive applause from their entire village...that was almost like being in love. Your readers can learn more about our project at www.zaraaina.org.

Lauren Worsham: If you take the song just at its title - I'd say I've felt that way every time I travel to a new city and experience the romance of vacation! Which matches nicely with the musical it comes from - Brigadoon. Traveling to a new city can feel like traveling to a new world! I think the song is trying to say that the protagonist actually IS in love, he's just not ready to say it yet. I think the last time I felt that was when I first fell in love with my husband.

Lauren Worsham and her husband5. Another song on the roster is "I Could Have Danced All Night." When have you had that feeling in your own life?

Bryce Pinkham: I love dancing, but I also love sleep. So I can safely say that I have never had that feeling in my life. *Please Note: This is one of the songs I will be singing in drag ;)

Lauren Worsham: The night that GGL&M won the Best Musical Tony Award, I most definitely could have danced all night!! Also, my wedding night! And bizarrely, the night I gave birth to my daughter. When something that exciting happens - it's hard to let go of that energy. 

6. If you could star in any revival of a Lerner & Lowe show, which one would you like to star in?

Bryce Pinkham: "King Arthur" in Camelot...in a few years time

Lauren Worsham: My Fair Lady!

Lisa O'Hare, Bryce Pinkham, and Lauren Worsham in the Tony Award winning musical "A Gentleman's Guide To Love & Murder"7. Let's play with the title of Lerner & Lowe's "Paint Your Wagon." If you were to "Paint Your Wagon," what would your painting represent?

Bryce Pinkham: Authenticity and the constant search for it in myself and others.

Lauren Worsham: Ummmm....If I'm traveling across the country in the wagon I would like for it to say something important politically. Maybe, This country was built on immigrants! Or Respect each other! 

8. Now, let's talk about the two of you for a moment over these next two questions. You both starred on Broadway together in the Tony Award winning musical, A Gentleman's Guide To Love & Murder. What are you most excited about in performing together again?

Bryce Pinkham: Anyone who gets to sing with Lauren automatically sounds better for it. This will be the fifth time I have said yes to singing with Lauren and that's no mistake. I made my Carnegie Hall debut with her (a night of Gilbert and Sullivan), she even let me come sing with her badass rock band and now I will be lucky enough to work with her after she's become a mom, so that's going to be special. Lauren is delightfully authentic and always comes in with many more ideas than me. I will always say yes to singing with her whenever I can.

Lauren Worsham: I'm really looking forward to hearing Bryce just sing. He has a lovely voice and I miss it.

Lauren Worsham and Bryce Pinkham at the 2014 Drama Desk Awards9. What was one of the funniest moments to happen to you on stage during Gentleman's Guide?

Bryce Pinkham: When Jefferson Mays and Joanna Glushack used to inadvertently spray Lauren, Lisa and I with saliva across the dinner table. You never knew where it was going to land and sometimes it landed in very funny places and we would have a hard time not losing our collective minds. Very good times those were indeed.

Lauren Worsham: Oh, mostly a lot of stuff involving bodily fluids - spit and sweat and snot. Nothing pretty. One time though, someone stepped on my train and I fell to my knees mid-song. It's very hard to get up from the floor in a corset. I didn't stop singing though!

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?

Bryce Pinkham: I want to spend 1% less time every day in front of my screens. I dare your readers to take a whole subway ride without looking at their phone. I try to talk to a stranger once every day - mind you - not in a creepy way, just in a way that reminds me that we have the ability to connect with each other despite having nothing in common. We humans used to depend on each other to fill the void we all feel. Nowadays we increasingly fill that same void with time interacting with machines. I think we are losing our ability and quite frankly, our desire to talk to each other. I hate to break it to you folks, but a Facebook friend is not a friend. A text is not a conversation. With respect, this isn't even an interview, I just typed out the answers on my computer and sent them back in an email. We didn't even talk*.  I understand why we depend so much on our machines, and what we stand to gain from them, but I think we have to consciously spend more and more time away from them if we want to find what I think we are all desperately looking for: genuine connection. 

*A Note from Bryce: Adam graciously offered to talk over the phone, but because of time constraints I chose to answer his questions in email form.

Lauren Worsham: I think it would be nice to improve my nap schedule by 1%. Being a new parent is exhausting!!!

Bryce PinkhamMore on Bryce:

An American stage and screen actor, Bryce Pinkham is most widely known for originating the role of "Monty Navarro" in the Tony Award Winning production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, for which he was nominated for a Tony, Grammy and Drama Desk Award. He also notably appeared in the Broadway revival of The Heidi Chronicles as "Peter Patrone," for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama League Award for Distinguished Performance in 2015. His other Broadway credits include original roles in Holiday Inn, Ghost and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

Bryce's television appearances include as a series regular on the second season of PBS’ Civil War Drama Mercy Street, guest appearances in Baz Lurman's Netflix series The Get Down and Robert DeNiro's feature film The Comedian as well as The Good Wife (CBS), and Person of Interest (CBS).

As a singer Bryce has performed in concert venues across the country, most notably Carnegie Hall, Chicago Lyric Opera, Lincoln Center and The Library of Congress.

As a writer, Bryce has published articles on acting, performing and education in American Theater Magazine, Yale Alumni Magazine and others.

In 2012 Bryce helped found Zara Aina, an NGO that uses the power of theatrical storytelling to empower at-risk youth. In May 2013, Bryce led a team of American artists on Zara Aina’s pilot program to Madagascar. Bryce is also a frequent collaborator with Outside the Wire, a social impact theater company that serves many communities but particularly focuses on military audiences. His most notable international tours include Guantanamo Bay, Japan, Kuwait, and Qatar.

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Bryce was awarded the Leonore Annenberg Foundation Early Career Fellowship in 2012. Bryce holds a BA from Boston College and an MA from the Yale School of Drama.

Lauren WorshamMore on Lauren:

Lauren Worsham is a Tony-nominated actress and singer. She was nominated for a Tony and won Drama Desk and Theatre World awards for the role of "Phoebe" in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (2014 Tony winner for Best Musical). Most recently, she was seen in New York City Center’s gala production of Sunday in the Park with George. Other favorite roles include "Lisa" in Dog Days at Montclair Peak Performances, Fort Worth Opera and LA Opera for director Robert Woodruff; "Flora" in Turn of the Screw at New York City Opera for Sam Buntrock; "Amy" in Where’s Charley? at Encores! for John Doyle; "Cunegonde" in New York City Opera's Candide, and "Olive" in the first national tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Lauren performs frequently in concert at Carnegie Hall, 54 Below, Joe's Pub, Caramoor, Merkin Hall, Oregon Bach Festival, Galapagos Art Space and New York City Opera's VOX. Lauren placed second in the Kurt Weill Foundation's Lotte Lenya competition. She’s co-founder and executive director of the downtown opera company, The Coterie, and is a founding member of the band, Sky-Pony.

Monday
May152017

Call Redialed: Marshall Pailet: Baghaddy at St. Luke's Theatre

Marshall PailetIt's so great to catch up with playwright Marshall Pailet, who I first got to interview in 2015. This time around we get talk about the remounting of his show, Baghdaddy, co-written with A.D. Penedo, a new musical based upon the true story of the Iraqi defector whose false intelligence was passed all the way through the CIA to become the justification for the Iraq War, which continues today. 

Baghdaddy plays St. Luke's Theatre (308 West 46th Street) through June 25 only. Click here for tickets!

For more on Marshall be sure to visit http://www.marshallpailet.com and follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

For more on Baghdaddy visit http://baghdaddymusical.com and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

1. It's so great to get to finally get to interview you about Baghdaddy! The show is coming back around after a sold-out run in 2015. What made now the right time to remount this show? I wish we could say we were inspired by the current state of the country, the fact that this administration's foibles and reliance on alternative facts makes our story about one of the most significant alternative facts in modern history all-too relevant. But the truth is we've been planning this production since we closed the 2015 production. It takes a long time to put these things up.

2. Let's go back to the beginning. How did you decide to write Baghdaddy? Baghdaddy was a commission from our then and current producer, Charlie Fink. Doing a show about the intelligence blunder around Curveball (Rafid Ahmed Alwan) was his idea, and it was his idea to make it a musical comedy.

Cast of "Baghdaddy"3. Baghdaddy is based upon the true story of the Iraqi defector whose false intelligence was passed all the way through the CIA to become the justification for the Iraq War, which continues today. What was it about this time in history that made you go, "This would make a great musical as opposed to a play?" Again, that was Charlie's idea. Our challenge was to find the why of it. We found the comedy in the actions of the people involved - their negligence was almost farcical. But they were grounded and real because they were motivated by such human things - wanting to be loved, respected, finally getting what they deserved. The music comes both from the comedy and the emotion - this story has both, so musical comedy felt like a perfect (if unexpected) fit.

4. After the show's initial run and prior to this one did you revise/rework the script at all? If so, what was the easiest revision to make and what was the most challenging? Yeah, for sure. Our biggest re-write came between the first version and the 2015 version - the script is almost unrecognizable from that first draft. But for the 2017 production we've made a bunch of changes - some new songs, dialogue. But the story and structure remains the same.

Cast of "Baghdaddy"5. In Baghdaddy, characters are contending with their own ambitions, rash decisions, inflexible bosses, unrequited affections and unremitting boredom, until a fax arrives from Germany, with it a golden opportunity. Let's break these down over the next few questions. When has there been a time you contended with your own ambitions? I struggle with that a lot. There's thousands of years of literature proving that when we follow our ambitions blindly, it leads to unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. I know that's true, but I still want that stuff. I've gotten better over the past couple of years - when I get jealous of a fellow artist, I admit it, say it out loud to myself, realize I sound like a douchebag, then the jealousy slips away. It's made me a calmer person.

6. What is one rash decision you made that you now wish you didn't? I dunno - I tend to game out decisions - think through all the possible outcomes to an annoying extent. I made a couple rash decisions in college (and a lot more in high school) that I wish I could take back though.

Cast of "Baghdaddy"7. Have you ever had an inflexible boss? If so, what were they most inflexible about? Honestly, I've had some pretty boss bosses. The producers and executives I've worked for have all been great. Not sucking up - I've just gotten lucky that way.

8. If you ever had unrequited affections for someone, how did you finally make yourself understand, they were just not that into you? Haha. Um, yeah. What I learned is that when it's meant to be, it's obvious for both parties. If you have to convince someone they love you, they're probably (definitely) not your soulmate.

9. How do you cure your unremitting boredom? Podcasts. And X-Box.

10. What is a golden opportunity to happened to you? The day I met my future wife. (Cue violin)

11. 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? To not need a screen in my face at all times of the day.

Marshall PailetMore on Marshall:

Marshall Pailet is a director, writer and composer for musical theater, plays, animated films, and is the proud owner of a wildly untrained, but ultimately well-meaning terrier-mix. He directed, composed, and co-wrote the Off Broadway musicals Who’s Your Baghdaddy (New York Times Critics’ Pick) and the now internationally licensed Triassic Parq (Chance ’13; Ovation Award, Best Musical; Ovation Nom, Best Director). Other Theater: Claudio Quest (Chance ’17); Loch Ness (Chance ’15; Best Musical, OC Weekly); Shrek the Halls (DreamWorks Theatricals). Film: VeggieTales: Noah’s Ark starring Wayne Brady (Original Songs). As Director Only: Nikola Tesla Drops the Beat (Adirondack Theater Festival); Wonderland (Atlantic Theater Company); EudaemoniaUncle Pirate; Stuck; The 49 Project; Thursday; With Kings in the Back; Bat Boy; Escape Artists; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He is also on faculty at Molly College, Cap 21, and the Broadway Dreams Foundation. Graduate Yale University.

Monday
May152017

Call Redialed: Facetime Interview: Annie Golden: Ripcord, Difficult People, Joe's Pub Concert

Annie Golden & "Call Me Adam" at The Algonquin Hotel in NYCLive from The Algonquin Hotel, in the heart of NYC's theatre district, "Call Me Adam" catches up with Broadway & Orange is the New Black star Annie Golden!

In this NEW interview, Annie & I go The Full Monty with Ripcord at Huntington Theatre, Joe's Pub in August, and her guest starring role on Difficult People! (Our Orange is the New Black interview will be released in mid-June). 

First up, we discuss Annie's role in David Lindsay-Abaire's Ripcord which will be playing Boston's Huntington Theatre from May 26-June 25! Click here for tickets!

Then we discuss Annie's return to the concert stage with Annie Golden Friends & Family on August 25 at Joe's Pub + the writing of her original song "Hard Lesson" about 9/11. Click here for tickets!

Finally, we get a sneak peak at Annie's guest starring role on the third season of Hulu's Difficult People!

For more on Annie Golden follow her on Facebook!

Call Me Adam's NEW interview with Annie Golden:

Huntington Theatre Company's Ripcord Sneak Peak:

Monday
May012017

Call Answered: Bruce Sabath: "Cagney, The Musical"

Bruce Sabath, Photo Credit: Matt Simpkins PhotographyWhen I saw Cagney, The Musical a few months ago, I was so taken by the show. A great old-fashioned musical about one of Hollywood's biggest actors as well as a whole lot of top-notch tap-dancing! One of my favorite characters in the show was that of "Jack Warner" (head of Warner Brother Studios), played so eloquently by Bruce Sabath. I loved the way Bruce portrayed Jack's excitement, wrath, and business tactics. His chemistry with Robert Creighton's "James Cagney" is spot on and I loved the scenes when they sparred.

Cagney: The Musical plays at The Westside Theatre (407 West 43rd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue) through May 28 only! Click here for tickets!

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


For more on Cagney, The Musical visit http://www.cagneythemusical.com and follow the show on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and YouTube!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I can answer that in two ways. In the more conventional "inspirational performances" sense, it started with movie musicals I saw as a kid - Sound of Music, Westside Story, Oklahoma, and of course Fiddler on the Roof. Then I remember being amazed by Kevin Kline and Kevin Spacey (the Kevins). Kline who starred in Sophie's Choice and then A Fish Called Wanda, and Spacey who starred in, well a gazillion films, both amazed me by the depth of their craft, AND that they seemed to defy pigeonholing. They were simply great actors. I remember thinking that if I was an actor, that's the kind of actor I would want to be.

Of course being an actor was never on the table for the first part of my life. That wasn't something people in my world did. I believed (really believed) that if you had the ability, you should pursue a traditional profession - doctor, lawyer, business man. A Job-job. And I had that kind of ability, so that path was the obvious choice! At least it seemed that way until I found myself very unhappy and lost. So when a high-powered high-potential colleague of mine at American Express told me one day that she was leaving the company to pursue painting, it blew my mind. I think that moment may have been one of the most inspirational moments of my life.

Bruce Sabath, Photo Credit: Matt Simpkins Photography2. You had quite an interesting journey to becoming a full time actor. Prior to acting, you were a businessman, but very unhappy with your work. After one of your "I hate my job" rants with your wife, she helped you find the strength for you to really pursue acting full time and that was over a decade into your business career. Do you remember the exact day you had this discussion? What do you think it was about this particular talk that made you go, "I can do this!"? I remember it well! I knew I wasn't happy on Wall Street, in strategy consulting or in the corporate world. I was trying to figure out what I should do next, but everything on my list was really more of the same. I had literally written a spreadsheet to compare the pros and cons of various unattractive options. So one morning, Karen said "toss out the spreadsheet for a minute. If you could do anything, anything at all, what would you do? How would you spend your time?" And without even blinking, I responded, "Well, if I could do anything, of course I would be an actor." Pause. "But of course I can't do that!" I proceeded to list all the logical reasons why "I couldn't." And then she hit the nail on the head. She said, "But you KNEW, in a split second, what you would want to do. How could you not pursue that? And as I let that sink in, All my belief systems and "rules" melted away. I had always acted as a kid, I was GOOD, and there was nothing I loved to do more. But "the rules" said to put that away, "grow up." But that morning, I realized I had to do this. And it never even occurred to me that I couldn't make it a reality. It was truly who I was.

3. What was that first morning like when you woke up, not having to go to work, but actually getting up to pursue your true passion? I remember telling my boss at American Express that I would be leaving to pursue acting, and surprisingly, he thought it made perfect sense. I had several weeks during which I finished projects I was managing, but that whole time I was figuring out exactly what it meant to really pursue acting. The most important part of that was finding The Wiliiam Esper Studio. But while I was still working I remember going to the theatre, and instead of that despondent feeling I had experienced before, I now felt euphoria, thinking, "I'm going to do that!!" Chicago was one of those shows, and coincidentally, Chicago was one of the first shows I did as an Equity actor (playing "Amos Hart" in summer stock at West Virginia Public Theatre).

But the greatest feeling was when I walked into The Esper Studio that first day, knowing I was going to learn the craft of acting from one of the greatest teachers in the world. I was ten feet off the ground. I spent nearly three years studying with Bill Esper. His mentoring was critical to my becoming a skilled actor.

4. What made you want to be part of Cagney the Musical? Here was a show about a legendary film icon who played gangster after gangster AND he could tap dance! The minute I heard the concept I thought, "This is perfect! How is it possible that no one has ever made a musical about "James Cagney" before now!?" Well, lucky for me they hadn't. When I read about the character of Jack Warner and how he figured into Cagney's story, I knew I had to be a part of this.

5. As you mentioned, your primary role in Cagney the Musical is that of "Jack Warner," President of Warner Brothers Studios. How did you prepare to portray such a famous figure in entertainment history? Originating a character in a new show is one of my favorite things to do in the theatre. When that character is an actual person, it brings in additional elements. Of course I researched Warner through biographies, documentaries about him and his brothers, references about him from those who knew him, and video clips - everything from news reels to home movies. The trick was to be true to the real Warner, while developing a compelling character for the musical theatre. I was doing this research while we were rehearsing the play, so sometimes a historical tidbit would resonate in a scene we were working on, and help shape my approach to it.

Bruce Sabath and Danette Holden in "Cagney, the Musical"6. What do you relate to most about "Jack"? What is one characteristic of his you are glad you don't possess? "Jack" and I are both incredibly persistent. Some might say "stubborn." But "stubborn" people hold onto their positions even when they are wrong. Like" Jack," I'm never wrong (joking).

But seriously, I do admire his tenacity, his perseverance. He and his brothers forced their company into existence in an environment that did everything possible to make them fail. There was rampant anti-semitism in the early movie industry, and the Warner Brothers fought tooth and nail to succeed in spite of it. As he progressed in his career however, he became disloyal, cruel and deceitful. He betrayed almost everyone in his life: his colleagues, his son, his brothers, his wife (well, wives, actually). He had a sense that people were either stupid and not worthy of his respect or had wronged him, and deserved vengeance. That ain't me.

7. "Jack Warner" really helped make "Cagney" a star by casting him in all his films, even though "Cagney" wanted more after some time. What has been the best part about playing out this storyline opposite Cagney creator and star Robert Creighton? What is one funny story that has happened between you and Robert since the show started? Bobby and I have a ton of fun on stage. We are both so comfortable in our characters, that our scenes are never the same twice. We're just like Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal, fighting it out, in one grand slam after another.

We've never had any real "bloopers" between us, though early on in the run, Bobby had trouble making a quick change for a scene in Warner's office, so as I sat alone at my desk, I picked up the phone, called the commissary and ordered a cheeseburger, with mustard, and an order of french fries, well done. THAT'S WELL DONE - NO MUSHY FRIES! Aaaand slammed down the phone. Just as Bobby entered.

Bruce Sabath as "Jack Warner" in "Cagney, the Musical"8. If you were "Jack Warner" today, who would you want to take under your wing and make them a star? I'm a big fan of acting craft (as I said before, talking about Bill Esper). I've continued to study over the years, with brilliant teachers like Larry Moss and Bob Krakower. I've seen so many amazing performances from fellow actors in these classes. The point being: if I was searching for the next big star, I'd sit in the back of a great acting class.

9. With the success of Feud: Bette and Joan, on FX, have you altered your portrayal of "Jack Warner" or been influenced by Stanley Tucci's portrayal? Have you learned anything about "Jack Warner" from the show that you didn't know or realize beforehand? I'm a huge fan of Stanley Tucci, and have been ever since that great TV series Murder One back in 1995, and his film Big Night the following year. He's also a neighbor (he went to the same high school as my kids), so I've always been interested in his great work. I love what he is doing on Feud.

The mini-series format really lets Tucci (and all the actors) delve into subtleties of character, as they interact over hours of scene work. In that time, they tell a fascinating story that unfolded over months. In contrast, at Cagney, we have 135 minutes to tell a life story that unfolded over 20 years! Including songs! So each moment, while real, represents just the critical moments of Cagney's career. As a result, nothing is casual - every interaction is pivotal.

The other big difference is that our story takes place mostly in the 1930s and 40s. Jack Warner is in his 40s and 50s, and he and Warner Brothers Studios are still clawing their way to the top. Warner's ego makes him seem like a tycoon, but things were always on the verge of disaster. In contrast, by the time of Feud and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), Warner was nearly 70, and without question the king of the hill. He could afford to relax a bit, and we see that (at times) in Tucci's portrayal.

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? Just over two years ago, I started running. I was working on a show out of town, and I discovered the Map My Run app on my phone. Suddenly, I could see how far and how fast I was going. And I could listen to podcasts while I ran (I'm a big fan of This American Life, RadioLab and many others)! It all seemed so much more fun than the gym.

Over time I kept it up, gradually increasing my distance from three to four to five miles. Currently, I like to do six mile runs along the Hudson, between shows on two show days. My friends on Facebook and Instagram are used to my frequent posts with hashtags #betweenshowrun and #bwayrunners. Last year I heard that Cynthia Erivo ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon on a two-show Saturday. She really inspired me, so this May 20th, I'll be doing the very same thing! Cynthia - if you're running this year, I'll see you in the BK!

Bruce Sabath, Photo Credit: Matt Simpkins PhotographyMore on Bruce:

Broadway: "Larry" in Company (Tony® Award - Revival). NYC: Hello Again (Drama Desk nom. - Best Revival), The Gig, Countess of Storyville, Platinum, Jerusalem Syndrome. Regional: Fiddler on the Roof ("Tevye," Broadway World Award.Stages St. Louis), Frost/Nixon ("Nixon," Caldwell Theatre), Asolo Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Geva Theatre. Graduate of Harvard, Wharton and Esper Studio.

Thursday
Apr272017

Call Answered: Christina Franklin: "New York, New Year: A New Musical," at TADA!

Christina FranklinIn Sunset Boulevard, "Norma Desmond" sings "I've come home at last!" and that is what I loved about Christina Franklin's journey with TADA! Youth Theater. She started out in TADA's! Youth Ensemble and now has come back as the writer and director of their latest production, New York, New Year

New York, New Year tells the story of "Tess" who moves to NYC in the middle of the school year from her hometown of Missouri and wonders how she will fit in. Will she make friends at her new school? Tess has the months of the year to help guide her, but she misses Sarah, her best friend from back home. When she tells 3 NYC kids that she's going to take a bus tour to really get to know NY, they tell her you don't get to know the real NYC through a bus tour, so she asks them to show her things they each love about the city & they become her new friends. Tess thinks that she needs to change herself to be liked, but who does she become? And will she still be friends with Sarah? Can she be the Tess from Missouri with Sarah & the NYC Tess with her new friends? What happens when they all get together for New Year's Eve as a surprise for Tess? Can the “months” save the day?

New York, New Year plays at TADA! Youth Theater (15 West 28th Street) from April 29-May 21. Click here for tickets!

For more on TADA! be sure to visit http://www.tadatheater.com and follow them Facebook and Twitter!

1. This May you are presenting New York, New Year: A New Musical, at TADA!, based upon the original concept by Gary Bagley. What made you want to write the book for this show and direct it? When I was six years old, my older brother Norman, was in the original production of New York, New Year at TADA! I saw the show many times and I loved it. The show takes place over the course of a year and each month is played by an actor. I was very drawn to this concept; it’s so unique and fun. TADA! usually revives show every five-six seasons, but New York New York hasn’t been done since 1999. The script needed more development time. In the summer of 2016, our artistic director Nina Trevens, proposed that I rewrite the book and direct the new production in the next season. I got in touch with the original writers and began rewriting the book. Fast forward 10 months and here we are!

2. One interesting fact I found out is that for 10 years you were a member of the TADA! Youth Ensemble, but while you were a sophomore at Professional Performing Arts School, you found a love for the production aspect of theatre. What was it about the production side that made you go, this is the part of theatre I want to pursue over acting? I discovered that I have a love for creating stories and devising interesting ways to tell those stories. Also, I am admittedly a control freak, so the older I got, the harder it was to let myself be free and vulnerable as an actor.

Janine Nina Trevens (TADA! Artistic Director) and Christina Franklin3. What is it like being back at TADA! after being away from it for a few years? The thing is, I haven’t been away from TADA! very much. Even during my college years, I came back to work on productions when I was on break from school. It’s always great to come home. I particularly love staying in touch with the ensemble and watching them grow and learn.

4.  In New York, New Year, "Tess" moves to NYC in the middle of the school year from her hometown of Missouri and wonders how she will fit in. When did you ever wonder if you would fit in somewhere? I have similar worries and doubts every time I enter a new experience, particularly college. Like "Tess," I was in a new city (Philadelphia), starting a new school year, and feeling very lonely. Fortunately, it was a new beginning for everyone, whereas "Tess" jumps into an environment where everyone is already acclimated, which makes it even harder for her to find her place.

Christina Franklin and Ben Vereen5. "Tess" tells her new friends she's going to get to know NYC via a bus tour, who in turn, tell her, you can't get to know NYC from a bus tour. What have you learned about NYC from living here that you wouldn't have had you taken a bus tour? I think the best things about the city are the non-commercial features. Organized NYC tours tend to hit the standard things the city is already famous for. I value the hole-in-the-wall restaurants, the quaintness of various neighborhoods, and more importantly the character and essence of the city that changes every 10 blocks or so.

6. This show has so many great themes for kids, like how "Tess" feels she needs to change herself to be liked." Have you ever felt like you needed to change to be liked or fit in somewhere? Yes - middle school was particularly tough for me. My new classmates made fun of how I spoke and the way I looked. I was not confident enough to hold my own and stay true to myself so to avoid bullying, I tried to assimilate myself to how they all acted. I was somewhat successful, but 8th grade graduation couldn’t have come soon enough. This was a time that TADA! was vital in my life. Although I had to change myself during the school day, I was able to let go and be free when I got to rehearsal.

Christina Franklin7. Since the show is called New York, New Year. What is something you are going to do or have done in NYC that is new this year? There are always new restaurants to try, so I plan to check some out. Although it isn’t new, I do want to get to the Highline once the weather gets warm again.

8. What are your top five favorite things to do in NYC? I love seeing new shows, walking the Brooklyn Bridge, shopping in the Christmas Villages that pop up in Union Square, Columbus Circle, and Bryant Park, checking out various farmers markets in the spring and fall, and going to free outdoor movie screenings in the summer.

9. After being part of TADA! Youth Ensemble and now being back as a playwright/director, why would you recommend someone to be part of TADA!? I would recommend it because there’s always something to be gained. Nina always says it; an 8 year old can learn from an 18 year old and vice versa. It’s the same thing when working on the production side. I’ve learned so much from the kids in the cast and I hope I’ve been able to teach them some things too!

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 love this idea! I definitely need to improve my patience skills. New Yorkers are always on the go, thinking about the next thing. When things aren’t swift and efficient, we tend to get agitated. I can definitely stand to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Christina FranklinMore on Christina:

Christina Franklin is a theatre artist, born & raised in NYC & has been a part of the TADA! family since she was four years old. As a member of the TADA! Youth Ensemble for 10 years, she performed in 17 main stage musicals in addition to many workshops & readings. Christina found a love for the production aspect of theatre when she was a sophomore at Professional Performing Arts School. She went on to earn a BFA in Directing, Playwriting & Production from The University of the Arts. During her time at UArts, she stage managed multiple productions, wrote plays, produced student work & directed many projects. Shortly after graduation, she began an internship at The Public Theater, which led to working on multiple projects including The Total Bent & Eclipsed on Broadway. Since becoming a TADA! Alumna, she has worked on many TADA! shows as a stage manager & assistant director. New York, New Year marks Christina’s NYC directorial debut as well as her 26th production with TADA! Youth Theater.