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Entries in Off-Broadway (359)

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
Aug022017

Call Answered: Facetime interview with "Queen Lesli" Margherita: "Rule Your Kingdom" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Live from Feinstein's/54 Below, "Queen Lesli" Margherita & I have a slap-fest over the return of her signature cabaret show Rule Your Kingdom which will be presented August 24-26!

With her take-no-prisoners attitude and self-deprecating humor, Rule Your Kingdom "inspires," "uplifts," and "slaps you across the face" – and let’s be honest, everyone needs a good slap in the face every once in a while.

Rule Your Kingdom will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) from August 24-26. Click here for tickets!

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

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

Call Me Adam & "Queen Lesli" Margherita's slap-fest interview:

Lesli Margherita's preview performance from Rule Your Kingdom:

More on Lesli:

An Olivier Award winner for her West End debut as Inez in ZORRO THE MUSICAL, Lesli made her Broadway debut originating the role of "Mrs. Wormwood" in MATILDA THE MUSICAL. After over 1000 performances, she bid farewell to the Broadway company of Matilda and crossed the street to The Helen Hayes to star as the diva "Mona Kent" in the Broadway premiere of Randy Skinner's DAMES AT SEA. In September 2016, Lesli returned to the role she originated to close out the Broadway run of MATILDA.

Last summer, Lesli created the award-winning role of "Signora Psyche Zinobia" in the NYMF production of A SCYTHE OF TIME (Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role). Later in the summer, she appeared as "Esmerelda" in a brand new production of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME at Sacramento Music Circus. Lesli also starred opposite Topher Grace, Taye Diggs & JC Chasez in the feature film Opening Night.

Born and raised in California, Lesli trained at UCLA and was soon after chosen to star in MGM's television series Fame LA directed by Kenny Ortega. She has gone on to star and recur on numerous television shows and pilots including Donny!, The Good Wife, Major Crimes, The Suite Life On Deck, Charmed, NYPD Blue,  and On The Lot, produced by Steven Spielberg.

Film credits include Lucky Stiff with Jason Alexander, Joel Schumacher's The Number 23, and the Sam Raimi produced Boogeyman 2. Lesli's voice can also be heard on several animated films and shows including Disney's Cinderella 3 and Nickelodeon's Sponge Bob Squarepants.

Regional stage credits include "Lilli/Kate" in KISS ME KATE (Reprise; Ovation Award - Best Actress), THE GRONHOLM METHOD (The Falcon; Ovation nom. - Best Ensemble), "Aldonza" in MAN OF LA MANCHA opposite Davis Gaines (MTW; Ovation nom. & LADCC nom - Best Actress), "Julie" in SHOWBOAT (Goodspeed Opera), "Audrey" in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (La Mirada), "Lady of the Lake" in SPAMALOT opposite Gary Beach (Sacramento Music Circus), "Ilona" in SHE LOVES ME (CLOSBC), the West Coast Premiere of Michael John LaChiusa's SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE (Blank Theatre), Rated RSO (Boston Court), and "Gloria" in DAMN YANKEES (Reprise; dir. Jason Alexander).

In June 2015, Lesli published NECK PUNCH and CARRY ON: Advice from the "Queen", a series of 'inspirational' messages inspired from her Twitter feed (@QueenLesli). The book, which debuted at #1 on the Humor charts, is available exclusively on iBooks.

She is the creator/star of 'Looks Not Books' and 'Ship Happens' the popular backstage vlogs commissioned by Broadway.com which can also be seen on YouTube. Lesli's critically acclaimed solo shows ALL HAIL THE QUEEN​ and BROAD continue to play to crowds in NY, SF & LA.

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.

Tuesday
Jul252017

Call Redialed: Facetime Interview: Tovah Feldshuh: "Aging Is Optional" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Live from Feinstein's/54 Belolw, "Call Me Adam" sat down with four-time Tony nominee & two-time Emmy nominee Tovah Feldshuh about her upcoming show at Feinstein's/54 Below called Aging is Optional where we find out Tovah's secret to staying young & active, plus some life lessons! Tovah also clears the air on some misconceptions about her as well as how she would like to improve her life by one percent better everyday!

Aging Is Optional is an age-defying romp. Some people call them decades; Tovah calls them her collected works. It’s an hour of Juvederm for the soul, a booster for the heart and a probiotic of laughter!

Aging Is Optional will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on August 1 & August 3 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

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

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

"Call Me Adam" and Tovah Feldshuh interview live at Feinstein's/54 Below:

Tovah Feldshuh previews "When I Was A Boy" from her upcoming Feinstein's/54 Below show Aging is Optional:

More on Tovah:

For her work on the New York stage, from Yentl to Sarava!, and Lend Me A Tenor to Golda’s Balcony and Irena’s Vow, Tovah Feldhsuh has earned four Tony nominations for Best Actress and won four Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Obie, the Theatre World Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, and the Helen Hayes Award for Best Actress. On October 3, 2004, Golda’s Balcony became the longest-running one-woman show in the history of Broadway, a record it still holds. Most recently, Tovah stopped the show as the trapeze-swinging "Berthe" in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Pippin. As Jason Zinoman of The New York Times raved, "No one earns more laughs than the marvelous Tovah Feldshuh."

Tovah is currently starring as "Naomi Bunch" in the Golden Globe-winning hit, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW, where she can be seen singing the dignified showstopper: "Where’s the Bathroom!" From the bathroom in West Covina to the Oval Office in Washington D.C., she has also joined CBS’ new series Salvation as President of the United States "Pauline Mackenzie."

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.