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Entries in Songwriter (52)

Sunday
Jul302017

Call Answered: Facetime Interview: Carole Demas: "Grease", "The Magic Garden", + "The Broadhurst at 100!" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Carole DemasLive from Feinstein's/54 Below, "Call Me Adam" does the hand-jive with Carole Demas, Broadway's original "Sandy" in Grease. We get the inside scoop of what really went on inside the halls of "Rydell High" + a quick revisit to The Magic Garden, one of my favorite & most popular children's show in the 70s/80s.  

On Wednesday, August 16, at 7pm & 9:30pm Feinstein's/54 Below will be celebrating the centennial anniversary of The Broadhurst Theatre with The Broadhurst at 100! It's an evening of songs and stories, performed by the legends themselves who were lucky enough to grace the Broadhurst stage! Carole will be performing at the 7pm show! Click here for tickets!

For more on Carole be sure to visit http://caroledemas.com!

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

Call Me Adam's interview with Carole Demas, Broadway's original "Sandy" in Grease:

Carole Demas performing "It's Raining On Prom Night/Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee" from Feinstein's/54 Below's upcoming The Broadhurst at 100!:

More on Carole:

Carole Demas, Broadway & TV Legend, stole the hearts of audiences and critics alike with her captivating and critically acclaimed creation of "Sandy," in Broadway’s iconic, original GREASE. Her 56 year (and counting) career has included thousands of leading role performances On and Off-Broadway and in Regional Theatre, among them two years at New York’s Sullivan St. Playhouse as "Luisa" in THE FANTASTICKS and the creation of original ingénue leads in Fred Ebb’s MORNING SUN; RONDELAY (director Cyril Ritchard, choreographer Jacques d’Amboise); Oscar Brand’s HOW TO STEAL AN ELECTION (opposite Clifton Davis); Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt’s PHILEMON and THE BONE ROOM as well as major regional theatres, including "Philia" (A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM); Regina (ANOTHER PART OF THE FOREST); Angel (CELEBRATION); "Wanda" (ENTER LAUGHING); "Corrie" (BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, with Joan Bennett) and her singing for the Champlain and NY Shakespeare Festivals for multiple seasons.

Carole originated the title role in the premiere production of Stephen Schwartz’s THE BAKER’S WIFE, in Los Angeles. She was back on Broadway in Broadway Cares - GYPSY OF THE YEAR celebrating Grease's 40th Anniversary at the New Amsterdam Theater. Carole played numerous guest star roles on classic prime time TV (including, KOJAK, MANNIX, ROUTE 66, BARNABY JONES, MAN FROM ATLANTIS, FANTASTIC JOURNEY (recently, BLUE BLOODS – CBS and ALLEGIANCE - NBC) and recurring roles on daytime dramas (EDGE OF NIGHT, ONE LIFE TO LIVE, AS THE WORLD TURNS). For the popular PBS Series GREAT PERFORMANCES, Carole joined other stars of the Great White Way for Lorimar’s SHOWSTOPPERS - THE BEST OF BROADWAY. In films, Carole starred in the 300 YEAR WEEKEND, with William Devane and THE SPACE WORKS for Trans-Lux Corp. Other films include appearances in: A LOVELY WAY TO DIE for Universal Films and the THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM.

Carole Starred (with dear friend Paula Janis) in TV’s most successful regional children’s series, THE MAGIC GARDEN (for over 12 years) leading to hundreds of live family concerts and recent viral clips on Facebook. The Magic Garden’s enduring holiday special, A MAGIC GARDEN CHRISTMAS (Emmy Nominee) airs annually on WPIX-TV-New York and streams worldwide with new recent footage. THE MAGIC GARDEN DVD collection and CDs are available at www.caroleandpaula.com.

Carole's wonderful versatility has been seen on camera in principal roles in over 200 commercials for television (everything from Men’s Cologne to Peanut Butter and often singing the jingles as well), among them: Kodak, Promise Margarine, Lipton Tea, Puss ‘n Boots, Wonder Bread, M&M’s, Clairol, Timex, Lysol, AT&T, etc.

Her career trials and triumphs are highlighted in Schirmer, Citadel and Applause books chronicling the history of Broadway. Carole’s career began in her Junior Year at the U of VT, with the 1960 CHAMPLAIN SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL and continued, from her days as Miss Vermont in The 1960 MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT, her zany "singing chicken" voice in the LIDO SHOW (Stardust Hotel, Las Vegas), to major dramatic and comic roles in theatres coast to coast, and New York City concert and cabaret performances (BROADWAY ORIGINALS (Town Hall), OFF-BROADWAY CLOSE UP (Merkin Hall), 50th Anniversary celebrations for WBAI Radio, Lincoln Center Library, The Fantasticks. She is seen in NYC’s favorite cabaret venues (Feinsteins/54 Below, Birdland, The Metropolitan Room, Laurie Beechman Theater, New World Stages, Le Poisson Rouge, The Iridium, The Triad-Stage 72, Signature Theatre, Urban Stages, Concerts For City Greens, etc.). She sang for BROADWAY TO BARBADOS for two seasons and headlined on Crystal Cruise, Film and Theatre Cruise to French Polynesia. She is a recurring favorite star in The Ziegfeld Society Productions in New York City.

Her one-woman show in NYC and other locales (including The Caribbean Theatre, St. Croix) received rave reviews…"a powerhouse of musical theatre," "a vocal champion," "a consummate artist," her voice has been described as "shimmering and thrilling with great warmth, sweetness and surprising power." Her engaging, exciting cabaret and concert performances have brought funds and attention to many worthy causes. Carole is featured on the original cast albums of: GREASE, HOW TO STEAL AN ELECTION, GREEN SONGS and THE MAGIC GARDEN.

She is one of 50 Broadway Stars who sang in the Broadway For Orlando Initiative, on MAYA and MARTY (NBC), in concert in NYC’s Bryant Park and other events. She is a recurring favorite star in The Ziegfeld Society Productions. Carole was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame with her Magic Garden co-star, Paula Janis. She is a Governor Emeritus of the NY National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Wednesday
Jul262017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drew Brody, Photo Credit: Matthu PlacekMore on Drew:

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

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

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

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

Thursday
Jun222017

Call Answered: Malcolm David Kelley: "Detroit," "Lost," "Antwone Fisher"

Malcolm David KelleyMalcolm David Kelley has gone from Lost to Detroit, traveling between television, film, and music. His first major acting role was that of "Young Antwone" in the Denzel Washington directed film Antwone Fisher. He then got Lost on the ABC Emmy Award winning drama, but eventually found himself on TeenNick's Gigantic, where he met his future singing partner Tony Oller, who then formed the group MKTO.

Now Malcolm is returning to the big screen in the highly anticipated crime drama DETROIT, based on the The Algiers Motel Incident during Detroit's 1967 12th Street Riot. DETROIT hits theaters on August 4th!

For more on Malcolm be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to become an actor? I started acting when I was five years old. Just watching TV and kids in the McDonald's commercials having fun, I told my mom I wanted to do it. She found my managers, we had a meeting, and I ended up bookin' a McDonald's commercial. Then just growing up and continuing to act, I grew more in love with it. Watching Denzel Washington in Antwone Disher, direct and play in a movie, really opened my eyes on the many things you can do. So just then I was inspired to accomplish a lot in this industry.

Malcolm David Kelley as "Walt" on ABC's "Lost", Photo Credit: ABC2. Your first major acting role was in 2002, in the film Antwone Fisher, directed and starring Denzel Washington. What did you learn from working with Denzel Washington? Do you still keep in touch with Denzel today? I was born in 1992 lol so I was 10 going on 11 I think. As I mentioned a little in the answer above working with Denzel just opened my eyes to do so much. He was very involved in the audition processes all the way through. He is a great director and gets his vision across. Watching him direct made me realize that was something I wanted to do.

3. In 2004, you were cast as "Walt" on the Emmy Award winning ABC series Lost. What did you like most about your storyline? I loved working on Lost and going through that whole journey. From a pilot and not knowing where the show could go and then it turning into one of the biggest shows that still can be appreciated 10 plus years later is amazing. Working with that cast and me being one of the youngest cast mates there I just learned so much and soaked up so much from everyone. Loved my story line and how I can make things appear with my mind lol.

Malcolm David Kelley4. Let's just play with the Lost title/theme for a bit. If you got Lost on an island, how do you think you would survive? If you're being Lost was a choice and you could only bring five things with you, what would you bring? I think I would survive ok. lol Even though I hate bugs, I would get used to it lol. Eating salmon lol and fresh fish and fruit. The five things I would need on an island are my girlfriend, clean water, and my speaker.

5. What is one funny story from your time on Lost that you can share with us? One funny time is when we were shooting the pilot on the beach and their were wild hogs running around and I remember they caught them and we ate them lol.

6. In 2010, you appeared in the lead role of "Finn" on the TeenNick program Gigantic. In 2012, you and your former Gigantic co-star Tony Oller formed the pop duo MKTO. How long after meeting, did you you decide you form your own group? What has been the best part about working together and what's the most challenging part? Well while we were filming the first season and after we put songs on YouTube and fans loved it and our producers we signed to saw it, we met with them, cut some records, and then met with some labels ended up with Columbia Records. "Classic" went platinum. I will never forget that and the work we put in and meeting so many great people touring Australia and New Zealand and all of the U.S. and more. Can't wait to get back out there and just being on stage period and being on stage with Taylor Swift in front of 60k people.

7. Your newest single is "Hands Off Your Heart/"Places You Go." What are some favorite "Places You Go" to Eat? Relax? Exercise? Get Coffee/Tea? and Be A Child Again/Forever Young? What are some reasons you'd ask someone to take their "Hands Off Your Heart"? Hawaii definitely is a place I can go relax, eat, and exercise on the Basketball court. Def be a kid again lol. So many memories from filming Lost.

Reasons I would ask a girl to take her hands off my heart are not loving me how I love her or knowing we won't work but it might be right in the moment.

8. Up until now, you're career has been film, television, and music. Do you have any aspirations to come to Broadway? If so, would you want to star in a musical or play? If it had to be a play and musical from the current season, which ones would you like to be part of? I was so close to doing a play while being in my acting class but I ended up booking something so I didn't get to do it. It's on my bucket list to get on stage and do a musical or play. I remember my cousin doing The Lion King and Keke Palmer doing Cinderella. I went to see her as well and I have always admired the craft. As far as what play, not sure, but I like to play, have fun, and push boundaries, so you never know.

9. On August 4, you make your big screen return in the highly anticipated, DETROIT. The American period crime drama based on the The Algiers Motel Incident during Detroit's 1967 12th Street Riot. How do you feel this film relates now to the trying times we are living in where that moron of President is dividing this nation further and further apart, but the citizen's of the world are trying to keep it together? I feel everything happens for a reason. I'm just glad we are coming together realizing we have made progress but we have much more to do. We are being heard without having to rebel as we have in the past which has turned into some rioting. This time peace is a part of American history and some may know or may not know and as people we are strong enough to understand this movie has so much relevancy to today.

10. What did you learn about yourself, life, and those that supposedly protect us from making this film? Well for the people who protect us, I know sometimes they can abuse their authority as we are being victims to seeing this in real time. I think we need to have our communities' voices heard to stop this. So we need to have a conversation on protocol. What this film did for me is just enlightening me on this particular story in Detroit and reading up in other cities and my home town L.A.

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? I want to improve on perfecting my crafts. Especially when people try to make you pick one thing. I want to put the work in to be respected at both.

Malcolm David KelleyMore on Malcolm:

At 25 years-old, Malcolm David Kelley is a veteran in the Entertainment Industry. Malcolm’s first major acting role was in the 2002 film Antwone Fisher starring Denzel Washington, where he played "Young Antwone" -- he was five. His next film role was You Got Served, in which he was cast in the supporting role of "Lil' Saint" where Malcolm played a boy fascinated with the world of street dance who gets caught up in gang mentality, with tragic consequences. The film, starring Steve Harvey, Lil’ Kim and B2K, opened at #1 and grossed $40 million.

In 2004, he was cast to play "Walt" in the ABC’s Emmy Award winning TV series Lost which became a huge cult success. Following his departure from the main cast of Lost, Malcolm appeared in several television roles, including the recurring character of "Benjamin Cooley" on Saving Grace, guest appearances on Glee, My Name is Earl, Law and Order SVU, Bones and dozens more. 

In 2010, he appeared in the lead role of "Finn" on the TeenNick program Gigantic. In 2012, Malcolm and his former Gigantic co-star Tony Oller formed the pop duo MKTO were signed to Columbia Records. The duo's debut self-titled album, was released on April 1, 2014 and spawned the hit single, "Classic" which reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. MKTO recently released, "Hands Off My Heart/Places You Go" and are currently on tour.

On August 4, Malcolm returns to the big screen in the highly anticipated, "DETROIT." The American period crime drama film directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal based on the The Algiers Motel Incident during Detroit's 1967 12th Street Riot. A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest citizen uprisings in United States history. The story is centered around The Algiers Motel Incident, which occurred in Detroit, Michigan on July 25, 1967, during the racially charged 12th Street Riot. It involves the death of three black men and the brutal beatings of nine other people: seven black men and two white women. The ensemble cast also includes: Anthony Mackie, John Krasinski, John Boyega, Laz Alonso, Kaitlyn Dever and Algee Smith.

Thursday
Jun082017

Call Redialed: EXCLUSIVE NEW "Orange is the New Black" Facetime Interview with Annie Golden "Norma Romano" 

Annie Golden as "Norma Romano" on Netflix's "Orange is the New Black"Live from The Algonquin Hotel, "Call Me Adam" sits down for an all NEW EXCLUSIVE interview with Orange is the New Black's Annie Golden ("Norma Romano," the mute)!

We talk about everything Orange is the New Black! From what made Annie want to be part of the show to what she thinks "Norma's" first speaking words would be to acting with her senses! It's an insider's dream come true!

Orange is the New Black Season 5 drops 6/9 on Netflix!

For more on The Algonquin Hotel visit http://www.algonquinhotel.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

If you missed my theatrical interview with Annie Golden, you can watch it here!

"Call Me Adam's" EXCLUSIVE NEW Orange is the New Black Facetime interview with Annie Golden ("Norma Romano"):

Watch Orange is the New Black Season 5 Trailer here:

Wednesday
May102017

Call Answered: Conference Call: Austin Pendleton & Barbara Bleier: "Beautiful Mistake" at Pangea

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at PangeaWhen I found out that Austin Pendleton & Barbara Bleier were doing a new cabaret show together, entitled Beautiful Mistake: The Songs of John Bucchino and Amanda McBroom, I was delighted they answered my call! 

Beautiful Mistake is an evening of story songs including unpublished work from McBroom and Bucchino, as well as some known songs including McBroom/Hunt/McBroom’s "Errol Flynn" (an NPR feature pick for Songs We Love), and Bucchino’s "If I Ever Say I’m Over You" recorded by Art Garfunkel on Grateful: The Songs of John Bucchino.

Beautiful Mistake has two shows left, May 18 &  May 23 at 7pm at Pangea (178 2nd Avenue). Click here for tickets!

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at Pangea, Photo Credit: Theater Pizzazz1. Who or what inspired you to be a performer?

Austin Pendleton: When I was a kid my mother got involved with a community theatre that was being developed in Warren, Ohio, our hometown. The early rehearsals were in our living room, evenings, after dinner. My brother Alec and I would sneak down, after we were supposed to be in bed and watch these rehearsals. I was hooked.

Barbara Bleier: I can’t even remember far enough back! I’ve always been a performer. I learned to read music before I learned to read words, and I was reading words at four years old. My mother was a pianist, and there was always music in my house…music of all kinds; classical, show tunes, popular songs. My mother played, and my sister and I sang. My father was our audience. I started picking out tunes on the piano, and began piano lessons before I was four. I loved playing the piano, and played concerts from the time I was four, but I loved singing even more. I was always the vocal soloist for the assemblies and programs in my grade school, PS89, and was the singer for the jazz band at the High School of Music & Art (now LaGuardia).

2. How did you two first come to meet? How long after you met did you go, "We should do cabaret together"?

Austin Pendleton: Barbara wanted me to coach her on some acting material. Then Barbara joined my acting class at HB Studio, here in New York. Then Barbara asked me to do a cabaret with her, in, like, 2000.  The rest is what I like to think of as history.

Barbara Bleier: That wasn’t exactly how it happened. It was kind of, "I proposed to him!" I was studying acting with Austin at HB Studio. I was also doing cabaret…in fact, I had been a Fellow at the Eugene O’Neill Cabaret Symposium in 1992…and had been doing cabaret before and after that. I had started studying acting, because the songs that I preferred singing were story songs, and I thought that studying acting would help me get the most out of them. (I also, at that time, started performing as an actor). So, I was taking a class in the late 90’s with Austin, and had a cabaret gig coming up. There was a duet by Dick Maltby and David Shire called "There" that I was aching to sing, and I needed a male partner. I knew, of course, that Austin was a singer, and I asked him if he’d like to do that song with me in the show. His answer was, "You’re offering me one song?" I said, "Would you like half a show?," and the rest is history. We performed our first cabaret, Undecided in New York and Chicago, and had a great time with it! We also got some really good notices. "There" has been in every show we’ve done since, except the present one.

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at Pangea, Photo Credit: Theater Pizzazz3. What do you love about working with each other?

Austin Pendleton: Barbara actually listens to me. This leads me to actually listen to her.

Barbara Bleier: Well, first of all, I LOVE Austin, so that’s a good beginning. He’s not a "straight line" thinker; he kind of comes in from the side, and I love that! We always seem to be on the same page, or following one another’s crazy thoughts, or awakening one another to something. There is, honestly, no one I’d rather work with.

4. Has there ever been a time when you both were really excited to duet on a song, but then disagree on how it should be executed, and, if so, who won?

Austin Pendleton: I have a sneaking suspicion that Barbara always wins these.

Barbara Bleier: I know it sounds crazy, but that’s never really happened. At least, I don’t think it’s happened. Austin may feel differently! It’s more of a "free association" process. We start singing the song, then one of us gets an idea, and we try it, and that leads to another idea that we try. It kind of evolves.

5. What excites you about your new show Beautiful Mistake?

Austin Pendleton: To enter the world of John Bucchino and Amanda McBroom is precisely as exciting as falling down the rabbit hole.

Barbara Bleier: My idea of heaven would be to spend eternity singing John’s and Amanda’s music! And, there are trunks full of it!!! Their lyrics always seem to say what I want to be saying, and their music is so incredible, in such different ways. John’s has a baroque quality, to me…I fell in love with him for his chords. Amanda’s is more romantic, and both of them often play against the lyric, which is wonderful to perform as an actor and musician. Both can be ironic and humorous, in just the ways I Iove. I guess this also answers your question.

6. This new show is called "Beautiful Mistake." What is one "Beautiful Mistake" you have made? (meaning, you made a mistake with something, but it turned out to be a good thing). 

Austin Pendleton: Many things in my life have been beautiful mistakes that turned into a good thing. Then there are the mistakes that are not beautiful and do not turn out to be a good thing. Then there are the mistakes that are not beautiful but still turn out to be a good thing. On such occasions I confess to a certain confusion.

Barbara Bleier:  Oh, so many. It’s not the mistakes you make, it’s what you do with them, what you learn, how they take your life in a different direction. One example I can think of, as a divorced mother whose children were quite young at the time…the marriage was a mistake, but my two wonderful sons sure weren’t!

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton performing at Pangea, Photo Credit: Theater Pizzazz7. What is a story about one of John or Amanda’s songs that is not in the show that really hit you hard?

Austin Pendleton: The songs of Amanda's and John's that hit me the hardest are in the show. The other songs of Amanda's and John's that hit me the hardest will be in the next show.

Barbara Bleier: John’s song, "Not A Cloud In The Sky," which deals with someone trying to handle the death of a loved one by dissociating the possibility of their death; taking control by being obsessive compulsive about little things, because if they let any emotion through they would crumble. I lost my sister (also a musician) five years ago, and that was my way of trying to keep control and be strong for her, and for myself.

8. If you could sing a quartet with John and Amanda, which song of theirs would you pick?

Austin Pendleton: "That Smile." I defy Mozart to top "That Smile."

Barbara Bleier: Well, the only one that they wrote together was "Beautiful Mistake," which I can’t quite wrap my mind around as a quartet, so I'll pick one for each? It would be "Coney Island" (A Catered Affair) for John, and Amanda’s song "Old Love," which Amanda wrote with the wonderful Michele Brourman.

Austin PendletonMore on Austin:

Austin Pendleton is an actor, director, playwright and teacher of acting, whose most recent stage appearance was as the "King" in Lear at The Secret Theatre, a critically lauded run that just ended in early April. Austin's first Broadway appearance was as "Motel the Tailor" in the original production of Fiddler on the Roof directed by Jerome Robbins and starring Zero Mostel. He has since appeared frequently on, off and off-off Broadway, and can be seen in approximately 200 films. His many TV appearances include roles on Oz, Homicide, Law and Order and Billions. In New York, he has directed Between Riverside and Crazy and four shows at CSC (Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, Ivanov and Hamlet) featuring such players as Peter Sarsgaard (Hamlet), Maggie Gyllenhall and Ethan Hawke. Austin is the author of three plays (Orson's Shadow, Uncle Bob, Booth) all produced in New York, and, in the case of Uncle Bob and Orson's Shadow, internationally. He has most recently directed Luft Gangster for Nylon Fusion Theatre Company & Cloverleaf Collective, A Day at the Beach for the Mint Theatre Company, and A Taste of Honey for the Pearl Theatre. He teaches acting in New York at HB Studio, where he studied with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof. He also studied acting with Robert Lewis.

Barbara BleierMore on Barbara:

Barbara Bleier is a singer, actor and playwright who has appeared on stage, in film, and on TV, as well as in solo shows and revues in national and international cabaret. She played the mother of a psychopathic killer in the cult classic, Swoon, and appeared in the film This is Where I Leave You, with Jane Fonda and Tina Fey, and in They Came Together, with Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler. Her solo show, Who’s Your Mama? was selected for production in the NYC Women at Work Festival, and her two-person revues with Austin Pendleton, Late Nights in Smoky Bars (New York, Chicago and Philadelphia) and ‘Tis the Season to Be Morbid, received critical praise in the press. She has studied acting with Austin Pendleton, singing with Barbara Maier, and musical performance with the late Julie Wilson at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center.