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Entries in New York City (142)

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. 

Thursday
Apr202017

Call Answered: Matthew Montelongo: "Daniel's Husband" at Primary Stages

Matthew Montelongo, Photo Credit: Manolo DoresteAfter seeing Michael McKeever's new play Daniel's Husband I couldn't wait to find out more about it. I was thrilled when I called, and Matthew Montelongo answered. I was so taken by his performance, it's great to delve into Matthew & his portrayal of "Mitchell."

In Daniel's Husband, "Daniel" and "Mitchell" enjoying life as the perfect couple. Perfect house, perfect friends, even a mother who wants them to wed. What isn't perfect is that "Daniel" longs to be married and "Mitchell" does not. A turn of events forces both men to face the consequences of their opposing views, and they learn that they are living in a world where fundamental rights aren't always so fundamental. Daniel's Husband takes an unflinching look at how we choose to tie the knot. Or not.

Daniel's Husband plays at Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street) through April 28 only! Click here for tickets!

For more on Matthew follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I wish I had an inspiring story to share. You know those stories. A story of discovering my deep desire to act after witnessing a life-altering, transformational performance by some lauded performer of yester-year. Rather, and this is utterly boring (the truth usually is), I auditioned for a play in college and a kind director showed interest, telling me that I had potential. In that moment, for better AND for worse, I became enamored of that rare, thrilling moment when you are told that you’ve done something well. I’m a sucker for a Gold Star. Always have been. As I’m sure you and your readers are well aware, getting approval is a ridiculous reason to do anything. I am nothing, if not ridiculous.

2. After starring in the regional production of Daniel's Husband, you are now performing with it again at Cherry Lane Theatre in NYC. What initially made you want to be part of the show and what made you want to continue on with it? (I mean, after seeing the show, I can tell why would want to continue with it). I loved Daniel’s Husband when I first read it last August. It moved me deeply. And it’s been my experience that when that happens whilst reading something that I may or may not even get cast in, I know it’s something really special. Beyond the emotional connection, the play checks all of my boxes: new play (check), great theatre (check), great director (check). Lastly, I thought the arguments for and against marriage equality made in the play were both provocative and grounded in reality.

As for moving the play to The Cherry Lane, I think this simple rule applies: If given a chance to work with Joe Brancato, Ryan Spahn, Lou Liberatore, Leland Wheeler, and Anna Holbrook: YOU SAY YES.

Matthew Montelongo in "Daniel's Husband", Photo Credit: James Leynse3. What do you relate to most about "Mitchell"? What is one characteristic of his, you are glad you don't have? Like "Mitchell," I don’t shy away from sharing my opinions. This is often one of the ways in which people describe themselves (perhaps especially in interviews) that’s more of a humble-brag than an honest criticism. I don’t mean it like that. "Mitchell," and on occasion, I, can get obnoxious when it comes to proving a point. My mother, when I was younger (okay, like yesterday) used to yell "Life is not a debate!" whenever we argued. It can get tiresome, especially when the stakes for every argument are life-and-death. I’ve learned in the many years (cough cough) since being on my high school’s debate team, that some points don’t need to be proven. Like whether gluten allergies are real; or whether it’s better to stand at the front of the C-Train; or if Cargo Shorts are cool. (My answers, by the way, are: I don’t care. Yes. And YES).

4. What do you think is "Mitchell's" greatest strength and weakness? "Mitchell" is brought low in Daniel’s Husband by his fervent opposition to gay marriage, but is buoyed (perhaps even saved) by his equally unyielding love for "Daniel." I admire the strength of his convictions, even if he is almost destroyed by the consequences of having them.

Ryan Spahn and Matthew Montelongo in "Daniel's Husband", Photo Credit: James Leynse5. In Daniel's Husband, "Mitchell" is not pro marriage because he doesn't want to conform to societal standards. When have you been pushed by friends and loved ones to do something that so many others do, but you say, "No, I'm not going to do this and be like everyone else"? I can’t think of a time when I’ve been pushed by my friends and loved ones to do something that I didn’t want to do. I’m not counting, of course, the fact that I refuse, much to the chagrin of my friends and loved ones, to stop wearing Cargo Shorts (see answer to question #3). For the most part, my friends and loved ones are FAR smarter than I am. If they think it’s a good idea, it probably is.

6. Without giving too much of the play away, there is a turn of events that makes "Mitchell" regret his decision not to get married. What is something in your life that you regret not doing or wishing you made a different decision than you did? I regret eating as much as I did for breakfast. Aside from that, I tend to not let myself dwell on past choices. If I make a wrong choice, I try to learn from it. If I’m able to do that, then perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that wrong of a choice. All that being said, I DEEPLY regret what I had for breakfast.

Matthew Montelongo and Leland Wheeler in "Daniel's Husband", Photo Credit: James Leynse7. "Mitchell" is also a fighter in that he really goes after what he wants, both personally and professionally. What is something you haven't done yet or still want to achieve in your personal & professional life? Professionally, I just want to work. More plays, more TV, projects that I like and that also allow me to pay my rent (I know, I’m a dreamer). For what it’s worth, I’ve always wanted to play a corpse on an episodic television show. Can one of your readers make that happen?

Personally, I want to eat well, work out more, be a better friend, son, and partner. But I’ll settle for eating fewer bagels (my weakness) and spending more quality time with my boyfriend (he comes in a very close second to bagels).

8. What are some stories you've heard at the stage door afterwards? I haven’t been privy to many stage door stories. In general, I duck my head and run. But this show moves people, and I VERY MUCH appreciate their willingness to share that with me after the show. I’ve gotten hugs from strangers on my walk home from the theatre, which is lovely. I’ve also been asked, more than once, if I’m related to Ben Affleck, which I take as a compliment (so long as it’s Argo Affleck and not Daredevil Affleck).

9.  I'm just going to put my cards on the table and say, when the play first started, I thought, "Oh great, this is going to be another stereotypical play about a group of gay friends at a dinner party and their lives afterwards." Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. This show has so much depth and deals with some really important issues such as gay marriage, gay rights, what makes a family, & crossing boundaries. It made me think a lot about my life. From starring in this show, how do you feel it has changed the way you look at your life and what you want from it? I have spent a great deal of time in my non-actor life working for marriage equality (I help pay the bills by freelance writing, frequently for LGBTQ nonprofits). Before living in "Mitchell’s" skin eight times a week, I wouldn’t have been able to be in the same room with him – or anyone who so vehemently opposes marriage in general and gay marriage specifically. Now, however, though I still disagree with his opinions, I respect his reasons. And even more so, I respect that his opposition to marriage doesn’t in ANY way compromise his love for "Daniel." Seeing that in "Mitchell," and "living" it every night, has changed the way I interact with others in my non-actor life who don’t share my support of marriage equality or belief in the protections of marriage in general.

Matthew Montelongo, Photo Credit: Manolo DoresteMore on Matthew:

Broadway: A View from the Bridge and The Ritz. Off-Broadway: One Night (Cherry Lane), This Backstage Life (Atlantic), His Daddy (EST), Whore (SPF), God’s Ear (Vineyard Theatre/New Georges), Five Flights (Rattlestick), The Mineola Twins and Arms and the Man (Roundabout), and Tartuffe (NYSF/Public Theatre). Television: Forever, Gossip Girl, Law & Order: SVU (x2). Film: Bear City 3.

Monday
Jan162017

Call Answered: Michael Griffiths: IN VOGUE: SONGS BY MADONNA 

Michael GriffithsEver since I heard "Borderline" by Madonna, I was hooked on her and her music. I own all her albums, have watched all her movies, and seen many of her world tours. Madonna's music has inspired me, helped through my troubles, and been there to celebrate the good times. Madonna's self-expression has shown me it's okay to be who you are regardless of whether or not people like you for it. The ones who like you will accept it and those who don't will have to deal with it.

With-in "4 Minutes" of finding out about Michael Griffiths' show In Vogue: Songs By Madonna, I stepped into the "Spotlight" and gave him a ring. Luckily, I did not get "Hung Up" on. From one "Rebel Heart" to another, Michael & I immediately got "Into The Grove" about the creation of this show, our mutual admiration of Madonna and revealing a "Secret" about Michael he has not told anyone else! This is one Madonna "Celebration" you don't want to miss!

In Vogue: Songs By Madonna features Michael simply seated at the piano, leading the audience on a journey through Madonna's tough life and tender songs, including "Vogue," "Into The Groove" and "Express Yourself." The show will play Martinis Above Fourth in San Diego 1/26, 8pm, Catalina Bar & Grill in Los Angeles 1/29, 7:30pm, and Feinstein's/54 Below in New York 2/7, 9:30pm! 

For more on Michael be sure to visit http://michaelgriffiths.co and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This February you are making your Feinstein’s/54 Below debut with your show In Vogue: Songs By Madonna. What made now the right time to bring this show to NYC? A few years back in Australia I read from afar about Feinstien’s/54 Below opening as New York’s premier cabaret venue and immediately thought "Wow, I wanna play there one day." Of course, I never actually did anything about it. Last year I was invited to perform my Cole Porter tribute around California in February and bringing "In Vogue" to New York was my very next thought! I don’t think I consciously decided it was the "right time," more that the stars have aligned and I’m terribly excited.

2. What excites you most about performing this show? The thrill of cabaret is the intimacy of sharing a common experience with an audience. I also love being alone on stage, it’s very dangerous and there’s no smoke or mirrors - you simply have to bring your A-game! The show attracts all types of people, but the long term Madonna fans are the ones who get the biggest kick out every little reference and lyric. I sing 12 songs in their entirety, but cram in references to about 35 different songs. It’s a testament to her extraordinary output and longevity.

Michael Griffiths3. As a huge Madonna fan myself, I can only imagine how hard it was to narrow down the song selection. How did you ever manage to do that? What were some of the songs you had to leave out? It was hard and there are a number of songs that I adore which have been left by the wayside: "Crazy For You," "Take A Bow," "Causing A Commotion" and "La Isla Bonita," the latter omitted mainly because I can’t properly pronounce the Spanish "r" in San Pedro. It was about choosing songs that gave a sense of her character or illustrated part of her life, balanced with songs that suited a male voice at the piano. Like Madonna herself, I’m a big fan of reinvention and it’s great fun reimagining these songs with a touch of ragtime, jazz and even some Phillip Glass minimalism for good measure.

4. Your show takes audiences on a journey through Madonna’s life and music. When was the moment you knew Madonna was it for you? What stage of her life was it and what song drew you in? I remember early at primary school all the Italian girls (who always knew what was cool before anyone else did) were dancing around to "Holiday" on a cassette recorder at recess. I thought it was a great song but wasn’t so keen on "Like A Virgin" or "Material Girl" so didn’t consider myself a Madonna fan from the very beginning. A year or so later, the gorgeous ballad "Live To Tell" came out and it was the first 7-inch single I ever bought. I loved her "old hollywood" look in the video clip too. When True Blue the album was released, the very opening strings on "Papa Don’t Preach" utterly hooked me. I’ve been a fan ever since. As a gay man who grew up in the 80s and came out in the 90s, it’s hard to imagine life without her.

5. You created a show about one of our biggest icons ever. Did you have any reservations prior to creating this show? If Madonna herself came to see the show, what would she think of it? I wanted the show to represent her impact on my life, my pop sensibility learnt from her and for it to be joyous. There’s an unbridled joy in pop music, joy in the Hollywood rap in "Vogue," joy in the self empowerment of "Express Yourself," in singing along to "Ray Of Light." Of course, a 42-year-old gay guy claiming he IS Madonna (I do the show without drag or impersonation) does inherently have some humour and I worry she might not appreciate some of the bitchy quips. Or the references to some of her movie choices. It all comes from a place of love and admiration though :)

6. If you could star in five of Madonna's music videos, which ones would you want to be in? If you could have been a dancer in one of her world tours, which one would you have liked to be a part of? I’m obsessed with the video to "Human Nature," it’s INCREDIBLE! That would be my all time fave, maybe I’d star as the little dog? Then one of the sexy cowboys in "Don’t Tell Me." Driving around with her in a limo in "Music" looks like fun. Lying around in a 5-star hotel room in "Justify My Love" adds just a touch of controversy and I’d have to finish off with an appearance voguing in "Vogue." As for being a dancer, I was a big fan of the "Sticky and Sweet" tour and joined in at home with the jumping "Give It To Me" finale. So fun!

Michael Griffiths7. Let’s find out a bit about you through some Madonna songs:

  • Where's your favorite place to take a "Holiday" (from Madonna)? I love a tropical holiday, anywhere the ocean is warm. "La Isla Bonita" perhaps?
  • When have you felt like a "Material Girl" (from Like A Virgin)?  Hmmm, when I buy expensive skincare?
  • When your dad would try to teach you something, did you ever say or think "Papa Don't Preach" (from True Blue)? I would burst into song, "BUT I’VE MADE UP MY MIND, IIIIIIIII'M KEEPING MY BABY!" Actually, that would be weird.
  • If you weren't a singer, how would you "Express Yourself" (from Like A Prayer)? Maybe I’d be a writer? Even as a singer, I think what’s appealing to me is telling stories.
  • What is something you hope happens for you "Sooner or Later" (from her album I'm Breathless)? I hope I get to keep doing what I’m doing now.
  • What is something the "Rain" (from Erotica) has washed away for you? I feel like "Rain" might be a metaphor for healing. I think as we all grow up, there’s a gap in what we thought life would be like and what it actually is. This causes pain which triggers growth and healing. I’m suddenly getting very deep....
  • When have you been enlightened by a "Ray of Light" (from Ray of Light)? I’m still waiting....
  • What is one "Secret" (from Bedtime Story) you would like to reveal that you haven't told in a previous interview? I’m a big softie and beautiful music makes me cry.
  • On Music, Madonna sings "Nobody's Perfect," what is one of your imperfections? I can be bombastic and easily carried away.
  • Inspired by "I'm So Stupid" (from American Life), what do you feel is the stupidest thing you've ever done? Deciding to leave my partner of 20 years for a young admirer. The youngster disappeared, my partner forgave me and it all worked out in the end. I was in idiot though.
  • When has there been a time in your life when you were ready to "Jump" (from Confessions on the Dance Floor) and you did? After many years working in musical theatre I decided to jump ship and try my luck doing cabaret. Three years later and I’m about to tour the States. "Don’t ever look back oh baby."
  • What is the most "Incredible" (from Candy Shop) thing to happen to you? I won a Helpmann Award (an Australian equivalent to a Tony) which proclaims me to be the "Best Cabaret Performer" in Australia last year. That was pretty amazing.
  • Aside from Madonna, who else do you "Turn Up The Radio" (from MDNA) for? Anything I can dance to, especially when no one is looking.
  • On Madonna's album Rebel Heart, she sings "Heartbreak City." What has been your biggest heartbreak? Finding out as an adult I was "donor conceived" and I didn't know who my biological father was. That was heartbreaking.

8. Now, let's turn to her movies. If you had a face to face meeting with her characters from Who's That Girl, Dick Tracy, A League of Their Own, Body of Evidence, and Madonna herself from Truth or Dare, what advice would you give to each of them? I’ve not watched any of those movies for sooo long! I actually have a massive soft spot for Swept Away although she is such massive bitch in it that I’d be terrified to give her any advice whatsoever.

9. If you could release a duets album with Madonna, featuring 10 of her songs, which ones would you want to record with her? I feel like going down the "Tears Of A Clown" path and doing lesser known songs: 

  • "Get Together"
  • "Inside of Me"
  • "Frozen"
  • "Dress You Up"
  • "Nothing Fails"
  • "Live To Tell"
  • "Phyiscal Attraction"
  • "Bedtime Story"
  • "Justify My Love"
  • "Beautiful Stranger"

10. If you had the opportunity to interview Madonna, what is one question you would ask her? Have you forgiven your brother for that book?

Michael GriffithsMore on Michael: 

Michael Griffiths graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) with a Bachelor in Music Theatre in 1999 and has a diploma in Music Composition. He is a singer, pianist, actor, composer and musical arranger. Michael was nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as "Bob Crewe" in Jersey Boys. He has also appeared in Priscilla Queen of the DesertWe Will Rock You!Shout! and was in the original workshop for the Australian musical Prodigal. His acclaimed one man cabaret shows In Vogue: Songs By MadonnaSweet Dreams: Songs By Annie LennoxAdolescent and Cole have delighted critics and audiences across every cabaret festival in Australia and beyond to New York, Auckland, Edinburgh, Hong Kong and London.

Sunday
Jan082017

Call Redialed: Marta Sanders: "Follow Me" at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

Marta Sanders, Photo Credit: Lou MontesanoI am so thrilled to have the opportunity to interview MAC/Bistro Award winning vocalist and top NYC tour guide Marta Sanders about the encore presentation of her show Follow Me. I have known Marta for 15 years and every time we get to do a new interview, I am as giddy as the first time we reconnected! I adore Marta and can't wait to see this show!

Follow Me celebrates Marta's twin passions -- New York, and the rest of the world. In addition to her music director John McMahon, Marta performs songs she introduced with her frequent collaborator, the late Michael Greer ("Hunk on the Bus"), she does three tunes by John Wallowitch (including her signature "Warsaw"). Marta's world-class romp around the world also includes tunes by Carol Hall, Sting, and Peter Matz, among others. Debra Zalkind and Mark Nadler are the show’s director.

Follow Me will play a four-week engagment at The Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, inside the West Bank Cafe) from February 2-25 on the following dates: Thursday 2/2Saturday 2/11Thursday 2/16, and Saturday 2/25, all at 7pm. Click here for tickets!

For more on Marta be sure to visit http://www.martanyc.com!

1. This February you are presenting a four-week encore engagement of your newest show Follow Me. What made 2017 the right time to re-do this show? I choose to do my cabaret shows in the winter when the tourism business is quiet here in NYC. I wanted to do the show again, because I got a great response to some changes I made to the format. More storytelling and comedy.

2. What are you looking forward to most about getting back into the show? I'm excited to work the material again. I get to make some edits that I think will make it funnier. It's all about the process, working and reworking.

3. In Follow Me, you are performing "Maria by the River," a song you co-wrote with your music director John McMahon & Debra Zalkind. What do you love about the songwriting process? What do you like most about performing a song you had a part in creating as opposed to a song by someone else? "Maria By The River" is a full character and story. It's not one piece of music. She came through me on my morning walk by the Hudson. I love her because she is a part of me and she is a woman who I know from my travels and my imagination. Every time I bring her to life, she fills me with joy!

Marta Sanders, Photo Credit: Lou Montesano4. In Follow Me, you celebrate your twin passions New York and the rest of the world. As a NYC resident, what are your favorite things to do in the city? As a tour guide, what are you favorite NYC sights to show people? I love exploring the City on my own. Going into a neighborhood and just walking around, or getting on a public bus and just riding through neighborhoods and absorbing the different communities. I love taking people through the Village, NOLITA, DUMBO, Hudson Yards, Central Park, St John The Divine, Chelsea, and Bushwick.

5. If you were living in NYC and New York only had five tourist attractions in which you had to live among, which attractions would you choose to live in? Washington Square, Plymouth Church Brooklyn Heights, Riverside Church, Flatiron Building, and The Players Club.

6. What are your top five favorite places you've visited outside NYC? What are your top five dream spots to visit? Favorite Places: Hong Kong, Sydney, Venice, London, & Cape Town.

Dream Places: Portugal, Bali, Thailand, Japan, & Istanbul.

Marta Sanders7. You will be performing Follow Me in the winter month of February. What do you love most about winter in NYC? I love that it's quieter and we reclaim our city for a minute. I also love the light.

8. If you put out an album of 10 duets, who would you want to sing with? Robert Carlos, Lucicita, Mark Nadler, Eric Michael Gillette, Mercedes Sosa, Delores Hall, Marin Mazie, Chita Rivera, Brian Stokes Mitchell, & Kelli O'Hara.

9. Since this show is called Follow Me, what footsteps of yours do hope people would follow? I believe you can't learn about what the real world is, if you don't travel. Travel is the greatest teacher. It is my passion as is my entertaining.

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'm just trying to slow down. Listen more.

Marta SandersMore on Marta:

In a career spanning several decades, Sanders has won both MAC and Bistro Awards for outstanding female vocalist. Mixing her soaring alto and prowess as a comic storyteller, Marta epitomizes a freewheeling American nightclub style that was prevalent until the ‘70s -- and that has endured with such pros as Bobby Short, Steve Ross, Barbara Cooke and Marilyn Maye.

Texas born, and of American father and an Argentinian mother (her father was the head of the Peace Corp in Colombia for a time), Marta grew up in cities across the States and in South America. Soon after arriving in New York, she was cast in the original Broadway production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. But her taste for travel had her gravitating away from the theater to nightclub performing. She was featured in supper-clubs, on cruises and in concert venues across Central and South America, Russia, and on both coasts. In New York she gained a loyal following in regular appearances at such clubs as Les Mouches, The Ballroom, Upstairs at Greene Street, Reno Sweeney, and Grand Finale. She also hosted a radio program on WLIR for a time.

In October she combined her twin professions when she offered a uniquely immersive tour of New York’s storied nightlife that included performances and stories by several popular entertainers and cabaret entrepreneurs. Sponsored by Karen Lotman Productions the tour was an official event of the 27th annual Mabel Mercer Foundation Cabaret Convention.

Marta’s recordings include Panache (available on CD Baby), and Corazon del Alma available through www.martanyc.com.

Tuesday
Sep202016

Call Redialed: Luba Mason: "Mixtura" CD + Cutting Room Show 9/22

Luba Mason, Photo Credit: Agenda 2016What an honor it is to get to do this new interview with the legendary Luba Mason! I interviewed Luba back in 2012 about her acting when she was starring in NYMF's Who Murdered Love. Now, I am thrilled to have had the chance to sit down with Luba to talk about her other love, music.

In this interview Luba and I discuss the behind-the-scene tales of her newest album Mixtura, a CD featuring a mixture of jazz, world, Americana and shades of Broadway. With three self-penned songs, Luba not only sings her heart and soul out on this CD, but she wrote some pretty terrific songs as well! I can't stop listening to this album! I really loved Luba's special revelation about her time in Broadway's Chicago!

Luba will celebrate the release of Mixtura at The Cutting Room in NYC this Thursday, September 22 at 7:30pm (44 East 32nd Street). Click here fort tickets!

For more on Luba be sure to visit http://lubamason.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!

Luba Mason at the Iridium 20121. This summer you released your latest CD, Mixtura, a mixture of jazz, world, Americana and shades of Broadway. I believe the variety of styles of music on this album is just one of the reasons it's so catchy! What made you decide incorporate these different genres into one album as opposed to sticking to just one kind of music? Did the album title come first or did it come after you saw what this album was becoming? The title came first. I trademarked it three years ago. I came up with the title because I needed a name to describe the kind of music I wanted to play which was ALL types of music. MIXTURA means "a blend of different musical currents." I had folk influences growing up, played classical piano for 12 years, trained classically in voice, listened to pop music, performed on Broadway for over 15 years and was influenced by my Latin husband's music. I was not a product of just performing ONE TYPE music!

2. On this album, you penned three original songs. What do you like about songwriting that you don't get from just singing? Sharing your own personal experiences or feelings. They're not someone else's thoughts or words, they're your own, that you penned yourself.

Luba Mason recording "Mixtura"3. What was the funniest thing that happened during the recording/writing of this album? My producer and I racked our brains trying to think of a title for this album…I finally just said, "Why don't we just call it MIXTURA?? That's what it is!" Duh...

4. On September 22, you are going to celebrate the release of Mixtura at The Cutting Room in NYC. What are you looking forward to most about this concert? What do you love about performing live? I am looking forward to getting everyone from the album on the stage together: the unbelievable horn player Randy Brecker, the talented composer, pianist Vadim Neselovskyi and the ALL FEMALE MARIACHI BAND Flor De Toloache!!! 

Performing live is a unique one time experience. You are fed by the energy of the audience!!

Luba MasonLuba Mason, Agenda 20165. My favorite song, hands down, is "Freedom." I love the lyrics to this song as well as the melody. The lyrics that particularly struck a chord with me were "Freedom from boundaries. Freedom from expectations..." and then leading into "It's never too late. Never give up on your dreams." Taking these lyrics to heart, how do you keep yourself free from boundaries/expectations that are set either by yourself or others? What is one dream you still want to achieve that you are not giving up on? I wrote FREEDOM as the title song of the album because it tells you exactly what to expect as you continue to listen. No boundaries here, no expectations, just complete freedom in the music…and I keep myself true to these principles by exactly - creating, producing and releasing this album.

I dream to be back on Broadway again.

6. I also really enjoy your version of Van Morrison's "Moondance." I think you did a great job making it your own. Did you have any hesitation interpreting such a well known song in this fresh, new way (a way, mind you, I have never heard anyone else do)? Have you played your rendition of "Moondance" for Van Morrison? If so, what was his reaction? That's exactly why I chose to do "Moondance," I felt I could give it a fresh, new approach. I have not played my rendition of "Moondance" for Van Morrison but knowing that Al Jarreau LOVED the arrangement for the duet was enough for me! BTW - I cover a James Taylor tune on the album called "On The 4th Of July" and it was played for him. He loved it so much he posted it on his FB page!

Luba Mason in Broadway's "Chicago"Luba Mason in Broadway's "Chicago"7. Another song you completely redid and made your own was "All That Jazz" from Broadway's Chicago. When you decided to record this song, what made you want to give this iconic song such a fresh spin? In recording this song, did it evoke any memories of your time starring in Chicago on Broadway? If so, what were those memories? If it didn't, when you sing this song, what do you remember about your time in Chicago? The title is "All That JAZZ" so I really wanted to make it into a JAZZY song. Otherwise it really isn't. Because I have such an extensive background on Broadway, I really like to incorporate some Broadway songs into my repertoire but again, with a fresh, new spin.

My memories of CHICAGO on Broadway were so satisfying! It was seven years since I was last on Broadway before that so it felt like home to be back. The other exciting thing was being coached by Ann Reinking for the show. She was the reason I wanted to be on Broadway when I first saw her in DANCIN'. I came full circle...

8. I found myself most emotional listening to "Hannah," a song about the sexual abuse of a girl by her father and living with a mother who knew what was happening, but stayed silent. Yet, through all of this, the young girl and her sister vow to marry, have kids of their own, and break the cycle of abuse. What is the story behind this import song? What made you go, "I need to put this out there because it will help others?" I know the album has only been out a few months, but in that time, have you heard from any fans about this song helping them? I wrote the song because I have a couple of people very close to me who went through this experience. And not too many people write songs about sexual incest so I felt it was an important message to put out there and be heard. Many people comment about the song after my performance and a conversation starts. That's how it begins. A conversation just needs to be started. It helps the healing process...

Luba MasonLuba Mason, Agenda Photoshoot, Photo Credit: Federico Galbraith9. You also did a terrific job with "Last Snowfall." It's such a great story song...looking back on a relationship that didn't work out. When you've had a relationship not work out, how did you get through the heartache? When the "Last Snowfall" comes every winter, do you still think about this lost love as intensely or is it now more just a passing thought? I wrote this song about my father who passed away last year. The memories, the longing of wanting him back and how he is missed. Interesting how it can also be interpreted as a relationship that didn't work out...

10. My last question is about your song "Beautiful." In this song, the woman you sing about, is so tired of doing everything for everyone, she just wants to do something for herself. That leads into my favorite lyric "Once I started doing everything for everybody else, I wanted to do something for me, I wanted to be beautiful." When was there a time in your life you just had to take a step back and focus on Luba because you were doing everything for others and neglecting yourself? When I divorced my first husband!

Luba Mason, Agenda Photoshoot, Photo Credit: Federico GalbraithMore on Luba:

Vocalist Luba Mason is "a powerfully emotional song interpreter" (All Music Guide), blessed with "a celestial voice" (Los Angeles Times). The classically trained singer, pianist, dancer and actor who was nominated for the prestigious 2015 DRAMA DESK and LUCILLE LORTEL theater awards as "Best Featured Actress in a Musical," also has an impressive Broadway pedigree that really knocks you out with not only her stunning vocal range but also her extraordinary versatility as a performer. Luba is beyond category.

A native New Yorker born in Astoria, Queens and first generation American of Slovak descent, Luba grew up in a bi-lingual household, Slovak being her first language. She started classical piano at age five and continued for 12 more years while singing in several church choirs prompted by her piano teacher after discovering her talent for singing at the end of a piano lesson. Becoming ever more interested in singing, Luba began to study voice with teachers from The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music recommended by her older sister who was studying opera there. Having sights on Broadway, Luba was later accepted to Circle in the Square Theatre School and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in DRAMA. Straight out of school, Luba was plucked by Tommy Tune to sing and dance on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning "THE WILL ROGER’S FOLLIES." She went on to impress director Trevor Nunn, who cast her in the American premiere of "SUNSET BLVD." But it was director/impresario Des McAnuff who placed Luba front and center as sex bomb "Hedy LaRue" next to Matthew Broderick’s "J. Pierpont Finch" in the celebrated first Broadway revival of "HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS…." Featured roles in Paul Simon’s "THE CAPEMAN" and opposite the legendary comedian Sid Caesar in "SID CAESAR & CO" preceded Luba’s return to center stage as she starred in the Broadway production of "JEKYLL & HYDE" and then, as "Velma Kelly" oppositeBrooke Shield’s "Roxy Hart" in the smash musical "CHICAGO." Tapped by Rubén Blades (her cast mate in "THE CAPEMAN") as a guest vocalist for his 2003 Grammy Award-winning CD "MUNDO," Luba's seamless segue from the New York stage to the Hollywood scene, gave her a chance to tackle dramatic roles in guest-starring parts on "PERSON OF INTEREST," "FOREVER," "LAW & ORDER," "NYPD BLUE," "NEW YORK UNDERCOVER," and opposite Jeff Goldblum in the psychic detective series, "RAINES."

As a recording artist, Luba has released three critically–acclaimed albums: COLLAGE (PS Classics), a beautiful marriage of Latin, pop, jazz and poetry; KRAZY LOVE, (Sunnyside Records), "Exquisite, Seductive, Saudade" - (Sting), where Luba debuts her impressive songwriting skills executing a cool, Brazilian mood with an intimate acoustic sound, featuring bassist Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets), Renato Neto (Prince), world renowned flautist Hubert Laws and her husband - 14 time Grammy Winner Rubén Blades. Luba's new release, MIXTURA, features a new musical format she has trademarked: MIXTURA® - "a blend of different musical currents." The record was produced by Jimmy Haslip and Luba with guests Al Jarreau, Randy Brecker, Dori Caymmi, Kenny Loggins, Vadim Neselovskyi and others. The CD is released by Kobalt Music.

Having toured the US and abroad, Luba has been a featured performer at the PANAMA JAZZ FESTIVAL opening for Wayne Shorter, Danilo Perez and Chucho Valdez and has headlined HAVANA, CUBA’S 40TH INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL as well as COSTA RICA’S INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL. In the U.S., she has performed sold out shows at LA’s famed CATALINA BAR & GRILL, YOSHI’S in Oakland, the BLUE NOTE in N.Y., BLUES ALLEY in D.C., WORLD CAFÉ in Philadelphia and the REGATTA BAR in Boston. She has also headlined at VIBRATO and the CINEGRILL in L.A., DIZZY’S COCA COLA, FEINSTEIN’S, BIRDLAND, B.B. KINGS, IRIDIUM and THE METROPOLITAN ROOM in N.Y. In 2015 Luba and her husband performed together on stage at RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL in Paul Simon's sold out benefit for the "Children's Health Fund's 25th Anniversary" alongside Mr. Simon, Edie Brickell, Sting, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder and numerous other luminaries. Last November, Luba joined her husband at JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER with Wynton Marsalis and his band in one of the highlights of the evening singing Otis Blackwell’s "Fever."