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Entries in Stephen Sondheim (5)

Tuesday
Dec232014

Call Answered: Conference Call with David Loud & Noah Racey: 92Y's Lyrics & Lyricists: A Good Thing Going: The Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince Collaboration

Noah RaceyDavid Loud"Call Me Adam" chats with Artistic Director David Loud and Actor/Choreographer/Director Noah Racey about putting together the opening show of the 45th Season of Lyrics & Lryicists. This year's opener is A Good Thing Going: The Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince Collaboration which will play at the 92nd Street Y from January 10-12 and feature a host of Broadway talent singing selections from the 1970-1981 partnership of Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince, taking the audience behind the groundbreaking musicals CompanyFolliesA Little Night MusicPacific OverturesSweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along.

Scheduled to appear are Broadway's Kate Baldwin, Heidi Blickenstaff, Liz Callaway, James Clow, Jason Danieley, and Jeremy Jordan. Click here for tickets!

For more on the 92Y be sure to visit http://www.92y.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

1. From January 10-12, 2015, you are opening the 45th Season of the 92Y Lyrics and Lyricists series with A Good Thing Going: The Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince Collaboration. How did you two come to work together on this concert event?

David Loud: Noah and I have been friends since Curtains, the Kander & Ebb show that David Hyde Pierce starred in on Broadway. Noah was one of the leads and I was the Conductor, and our dressing rooms were on the same floor. You learn a lot about people when you are constantly encountering them in various stages of undressedness. We had a wonderful two years. Everything about that show was joyful and rewarding, so I try to work with people from that particular experience whenever possible. Noah has a great talent for physicalizing a song, and is just as skilled at working with singers as he is with dancers. He also seems to intuit everything I want to communicate, which saves time!

Noah Racey: I met David Loud working on the show Curtains. I was a part of the earlier work shops and readings and then we took it to Los Angeles for our out of town tryout at the Ahmanson Theatre and then through our year and a half run at the Hirschfeld theatre. He asked me a few years ago to stage a concert he was putting together and we have continued to work together in that capacity ever since.

2. How did you decide to start the 45th season off with this show?

David Loud: My previous shows at Lyrics & Lyricists were focussed on two terrific composers who are not exactly household names: Burton Lane, who had several major Broadway scores but never quite ascended into the Richard Rodgers - Irving Berlin - George Gershwin - Cole Porter pantheon, and Vernon Duke, an amazing and virtually unknown artist who had flop after disappointing flop, despite the fact that each of his scores contains a few remarkable songs. Both projects were the results of many months of research and arranging, and I loved doing them. For this season, Artistic Director Deb Winer asked me if I wanted to do something "a little less off-the-beaten-path," and I came up with the idea of a Stephen Sondheim show that was different from other Sondheim revues I’d seen or worked on: one that dealt specifically with the shows he created with Director/Producer Harold Prince. I do love the fact that for the Lyrics & Lyricists audience, a Stephen Sondheim evening is considered more "mainstream"…

Noah Racey: I think the obvious reason is that in our industry, for Lyrics & Lyricists, you can't find a more prominent, creative force than Stephen Sohdheim. Ever since his work on West Side Story in 1957, where he established himself as a leading voice in the new vanguard of Musical Theatre writers, he has been at the forefront of the art form in terms of musical sophistication and emotional depth in story telling. It makes perfect sense to have an evening that celebrates the work of the two men who brought those stories to life.

3. What excites you about being the premiere show of this special season?

David Loud: Nothing. It means I have less time to prepare and that I’ll spend all of Christmas orchestrating.

Noah Racey: It's exciting to take part in such a well established series. The audiences for Lyrics & Lyricists are extraordinarily knowledgeable about the material, they tend to know the work very intimately, so you feel at every point in rehearsal that they will recognize and appreciate the intricacies and detail you strive for in staging or interpreting the songs.

Jeremy Jordan4. How did you pick the performers for the evening: Kate Baldwin, Heidi Blickenstaff, Liz Callaway, James Clow, Jason Danieley, and Jeremy Jordan? What excites you about working with them?

David Loud: I’ve worked with all of them before, and they are each truly extraordinary. Great voices, of course, and heavenly to work with, but they also have that essential ability to interpret a lyric in a way that’s fresh and clear. Sondheim songs often require the performer to feel contradictory emotions simultaneously, or to exist in an undecided state, or to change one’s mind in the middle of a thought. They’re complicated and particular and demanding, and I needed singing actors who could do that. How lucky am I to have assembled this astonishingly talented group of artists, each of whom said "yes" within minutes of being asked?!

Noah Racey: The beauty of working with David Loud is that the best of the best say YES! when he asks them to join us. And the man knows EVERYBODY! I have had the honor of staging quite a few concerts with him, and through that work I have learned to trust him completely when it comes to choosing which voices he wants to sing each of the pieces. So, to answer the first question, I did very little!

What excites me about working with these people? EVERYTHING. These 6 performers are supremely gifted, to pick one of their characteristics to praise is to overlook their most valuable asset...versatility. One of the wonderful things about this kind of concert is that it is an opportunity for the performers to do such a wide variety of work, in many instances much more than would be asked for in a typical show. And that is why having these particular actors is such joy. They all bring an astounding array of colors and energies to the table for us to pick from and to round it all out, their vocal chops truly can't be beat. Versatility is the definitely the ingredient that excites me most.

David Loud5. How did you decide which songs you were going to feature in the concert?

David Loud: Well first I wrote down all my favorite songs from the six shows they did together, but the 92nd St. Y, apparently, is not interested in producing a five-hour concert, so I had to cut a few. I wanted to pick songs that illuminated the essence of each of the extraordinary pieces that they collaborated on, and, of course, once the cast was set, I wanted to tailor it to them, as well. And I try to find an emotional arc for the whole evening…it becomes quite a jigsaw puzzle.

Noah Racey: Two parts popular demand, two parts personal affection. And then a healthy dose of what does Mr. Loud want to play with?

6. What do you hope audiences come away with after attending this evening?

David Loud: A deep appreciation of the six wildly different shows that comprise the Stephen Sondheim/Harold Prince collaboration. As the Artistic Director of this evening, my goal is to make you hear songs that you may think you know as if you were hearing them for the first time, and to try to explain why I think they’re so extraordinary.

Noah Racey: An appreciation not only for the talent and craft of Steven Sondheim, but for the extraordinary collaboration of these two men, because above all, Musical Theatre is a collaborative art form, it is at it's best when it is the melding of ideas between artists.

Bernadette Peters, David Loud, Parker Ease, Stephen Sondheim, and John Doyle at the closing night party of "A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair", Photo Credit: Genevieve Rafter Keddy7. How have Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince influenced each of you? 

David Loud: When I was 18, I was cast in the original Broadway production of Merrily We Roll Along. I was already a huge fan of Sondheim’s work, and the opportunity to be a part of a new show that he was creating with Harold Prince was, well, many things: thrilling, intimidating, challenging, heart-breaking…to watch these great craftsmen working on the show — writing, re-writing, editing, re-staging — for five weeks of previews was the greatest crash-course in Musical Theatre ever offered.

Noah Racey: Their work sets the bar for me in terms of emotional depth in lyric, Musical sophistication, and theatrical storytelling/conflict construction. Musical Theatre as an art form has been undergoing a steady transformation from simple music hall sketches and Vaudeville fun to elaborate, thought provoking, daring, exciting and substantial theatre; and it has been ushered forward through these changes and transformations by artists who asked more of it. Steven Sondheim and Harold Prince did just that, they asked more of the people who gathered together to share stories, they asked more of the music and the ears that would hear it; more of the subject matter and the minds that would digest it, more of everyone involved. We should aspire to do the same, ask more of each other.

Noah Racey performing8. If you had to pick your favorite song and show that they produced together, which ones would you choose?

David Loud: Impossible, of course, to choose an absolute favorite, but the duet at the end of the first act of Sweeney Todd, "A Little Priest" has always been on my list of major miracles. Funny, macabre, a beer hall waltz with impossibly clever lyrics that illuminates the entire British class system while playing rhyming games and furthering the story. It doesn’t really get any better than that.

Noah Racey: For over all score I have a huge affinity for Follies. I played "Buddy" in college (complete with bald-pate) and the first revival at the Belasco was my Broadway debut. I love the romance, the sense of nostalgia and desperate yearning to reclaim, the love letter to performers, all of it, it's my personal favorite of his scores. For a single song I would have to say "Weekend In The Country." The entire sequence is just breathtaking.

9. What has been the best part about working together? What have you learned from each other?

David Loud: Noah and I seem to have identical taste, which is hard to find in a collaborator. And he often will come up with an off-the-wall staging idea that would never have occurred to me — one that fulfills the song theatrically in a way that a more pedestrian choice would never have achieved.

Noah Racey: Finding people to work with where you can actually watch yourself growing is one of the most exciting aspects of working in theatre. So much of what we do is a question of taste, and you only discover that taste through an attention to detail. When you find people to collaborate with that mirror or compliment your sense of taste...well, that's everything to me. And then there's the fact that everybody is in love with him! David is one of those examples of the best of the best not bringing any kind of unnecessary "starch" or defensiveness to the creative table, his work speaks for it's self. It's no wonder he and John Kander get along so beautifully. For all the refining and searching we did in constructing Curtains it all felt like taking deep, relaxing breaths.

In working with David, I have learned so much about the art form of Musical Theatre. How inseparable all of it is; the staging, the lighting, the intro, the lyric, the melody, the tempo, the interpretation of all of it, it all must work in tandem. And for all of the pearls of wisdom he has given me (and there have been many), when someone as established and accomplished as David defers to your direction and takes constructive criticism from you, you are given the invaluable gift of learning to trust yourself.

Noah Racey tap dancing10. What's the best advice you've ever received?

David Loud: Do what you love. And if your gut tells you something, follow it.

Noah Racey: Do your homework.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?

David Loud: Time travel. Is that a super power? I want to go back to the thirties and see a Gershwin show on Broadway!

Noah Racey: The dancer in me insists that it be the ability to fly.

12. If you could be any original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be?

David Loud: Pep-O-Mint.

Noah Racey: Probably raspberry.

13. If you could have a song written about your life, what are some key elements you would want to make sure the lyricist wrote into the song? For example, I've had two theme songs written for me...one for my past radio show and one for a live interview series I used to conduct. The key elements I wanted to make sure got written into each theme song was that I did entertainment interviews and then the lyricists wrote my theme songs around that idea.

David Loud: How lucky I am that my friends are my collaborators and my inspiration.

Noah Racey: It's about rhythm and timing, and letting go into the mystery.

14. How do you want to be remembered?

David Loud: As a good musician.

Noah Racey: Fondly.

David LoudMore on David:

David Loud has frequently collaborated with Stephen Sondheim. Among his many credits, Loud was the onstage pianist of the original Broadway production of Merrily We Roll Along, music director of Broadway’s Sondheim on Sondheim, and music director of A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Affair, a collaboration between Sondheim and Wynton Marsalis and starring Bernadette Peters at the New York City Center in 2013. For the 2011/12 Broadway season, David was both musical supervisor of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and conductor of the incidental music for Death of a Salesman, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Among his other Broadway credits, he was music director of the original productions of Ragtime, A Class Act, Steel Pier and The Look of Love, and the revivals of She Loves Me, Company, The Boys from Syracuse and Sweeney Todd. This past November David was music supervisor for the world premiere of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s Little Dancer, directed by Susan Stroman, at the Kennedy Center. He also has the distinction of simultaneously serving as a cast and artistic staff member of two Broadway shows: Terrence McNally’s Master Class, in which he played "Manny" and was musical supervisor; and Kander & Ebb’s Curtains, in which he played "Sasha" and was music director.

Noah RaceyMore on Noah:

Noah Racey, a performer, director, choreographer and educator, made his Broadway debut in the 2001 revival of Follies, and has since appeared in Thoroughly Modern Millie (for which he was also associate choreographer for Rob Ashford’s Tony Award-winning choreography), Never Gonna Dance and Curtains. Noah’s directing and choreographic work has been seen regularly in the Town Hall’s Broadway by the Year series, and for its 2007 summer Broadway Festival production of All Singin’! All Dancin’! He recently starred in Holiday Inn at the Goodspeed Opera House. Noah is founder and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed New York Song & Dance Company.

Thursday
Dec222011

Claybourne Elder

Claybourne Elder is another one of our next generation actors who's on the rise! He's thrilled to be making his Broadway debut in "Bonnie & Clyde" as "Buck Barrow," after originating the role in La Jolla Playhouse and Asolo Rep. Claybourne's other theatrical credits include rave reviews in Moises Kaufman's adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "One Arm," at Tectonic Project/New Group and Stephen Sondheim's "Road Show" at the Public Theatre where Claybourne originated the role of "Hollis." Regionally, Claybourne starred in the US premiere of Matlby and Shire's "Take Flight" as "Charles Lindbergh" at McCarter and as "Wolf/Cinderella's Prince" in Moises Kaufman's revival of "Into The Woods" at Kansas City Rep.

Claybourne Elder and Jeremy Jordan, Photo Credit: Nathan JohnsonMelissa Van Der Schyff, Claybourne Elder, Jeremy Jordan, and Laura Osnes, Photo Credit: Nathan JohnsonYou can currently catch Claybourne in "Bonnie & Clyde" at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in NYC (236 West 45th Street). In the role of "Buck," Claybourne brings much heart and sexiness to the show as well as a terrific singing voice! Click here for tickets!

For more on Claybourne be sure to visit http://www.claybourneelder.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Well, I played the violin my whole childhood until a teacher told me that my hands were too big to really be a great violinist. I was pretty heartbroken but that was the year I did my first play.

2. Who is the one or more than one person that you have not worked with that you would like to? There are so many! Walter Bobby definitely, Neil Patrick Harris, Moises Kaufman (I've already worked with him but I always want to work with him again).

3. What attracted you to "Bonnie & Clyde" and what do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I think the best thing we can hope for as performers is that someone is changed in some way by our show. I was attracted to Bonnie and Clyde, and my character "Buck" because I felt like his story has such an amazing arch. It asks the question: What makes a seemingly moral person do bad things? 

4. What is it about your character "Buck" that you identify most with? Buck always follows his heart and wants to do what is right to take care of the people he loves. I'm not sure I always want to do what's right, haha, but I really identify with his need to care for people. I think he would have been a great father.

5. What does it mean to you to be making your Broadway debut in "Bonnie & Clyde"? It's amazing. I try to stop and take inventory on this experience as much as possible because it is the fruition of years and years of work. Opening night was an amazing celebration. My whole family came out, it was a great way to say thank you to them for all the voice lessons and driving me to play practice :)

6. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? Previews are by far the best part of rehearsals for me. I love getting response for the audience in the evening and then coming in to rehearse during the day based on their reaction. I also feel like its the best time for the audience to experience the show for themselves before anyone else has told them how to feel about it. When I was working on "One Arm" we did A LOT of work during the preview period on the ordering of scenes. I never left the stage so I never had the chance to go backstage and look at my script to see what would happen next. There were definitely times when I would finish a scene and think to myself 'I have no idea whats going to happen next, but I know that someone is going to come out and start talking to me and I'm going to have to talk back at them' We often joked that we would never call 'line' because we'd forgotten, but we would call for a 'scene.'

7. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? You have to really know yourself and be comfortable with yourself. To really be daring in the choices you make on stage, you have to be ready to fall on your face. I can't tell you how many terrible jokes I've made in rehearsals in my life, but if you don't weed through the really terrible ones, then you never find the gems.

8. What was it like to perform at in the "80th Birthday Celebration of Stephen Sondheim"? It was amazing! Working on "Road Show" with Sondheim was my first job in the city and so it was great to give back to him in some way. My favorite part was singing selections from "Pacific Overtures" with B.D. Wong because I don't suppose I'll get another opportunity to sing that show with a full orchestra, haha. When I came in that day for my sound check, I walked off stage when I finished and ran into someone (literally) on the stairs and I was halfway up to my dressing room when I realized it was Catherine Zeta Jones! She's remarkably glamorous. The absolute highlight of the evening was sitting backstage next to Angela Lansbury in her robe and slippies listening to Len Cariou sing "Sweeney Todd." She was incredibly sweet and got really emotional when he started singing. It was really touching.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Be well rounded. My freshman year of college I had a mentor who urged me to always explore and not just bury my head in the theatre all the time. So I got a job working for a Non-Profit that set up English schools in communities around the world and took off time from school to work in China and Russia. People questioned why I was wasting my youth as a performer, but the real life and struggles I saw while working with those people changed my life. In many ways those experiences have informed me as an artist and actor.

10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My dog Diogi (pronounced like D.O.G.). He's always happy. I wonder what he would do if he was in a dream land where he could do anything he wanted. He would probably go open the refrigerator and eat all the almond butter.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to spend your day off? Favorite way to stay in shape? Going to the movies, reading, playing in the park with Diogi. I like to run outside when it's warm or do yoga with Melissa van der Schyff who plays my wife in "Bonnie & Clyde."

12. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer briefs.

13. Favorite website? www.bbc.com. I don't know why I rely on the British for my news, but I do. I just like the format of their website.

14. "Glinda" or "Elphaba"? Well, Julia Murney, an Elphaba, lives in my building and makes the best brownies in the world, so I would say Elphaba.

Monday
Nov142011

Julia Murney

Julia Murney is an award winning performer who has crossed over the genres of theatre, television, and music. Julia was last seen on Broadway in "Wicked" as "Elphaba" after playing the role on the national tour where she won an Acclaim Award. Her other theatrical credits include "Lennon," Andrew Lippa's "The Wild Party" (Drama Desk Nomination), "The Vagina Monologues," "A Class Act," "Saved," "Crimes of the Heart," "First Lady Suite," and "Time and Again" (Lucille Lortel Nomination). Julia has performed at regional theatre across the country: Signature, Williamstown, Reprise! LA, Sacramento Music Circus, NCT, Lyric, Rubicon and Goodspeed and has performed in concerts at Joe’s Pub, Feinstein’s, The Kennedy Center, Caramoor, Town Hall, and Birdland as well as with the Philly, Cincinnati, and Boston Pops.

On television, Julia has been featured on such hits shows as "30 Rock," "Sex and the City," "Brothers and Sisters," "Ed," "NYPD Blue," and all three "Law & Orders." Musically, Julia can be heard on the original cast recordings of Andrew Lippa's "The Wild Party," "A Class Act," and the Grammy nominated Actor's Fund Benefit of "Hair." Julia also released her debut solo recording "I'm Not Waiting."

Now Julia can be seen in the Transport Group's production of Michael John LaChuisa's "Queen of the Mist" (click here for my review) starring Two-Time Tony Award Nominee Mary Testa along with Andrew Samonsky, Theresa McCarthy, Tally Sessions, Stanley Bahorek, and DC Anderson. "Queen of the Mist" plays at The Gym at Judson in NYC through November 20 (243 Thompson Street at Washington Square Park South)! Click here for tickets!

 For more on Julia be sure to visit http://www.juliamurney.com!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I started singing in my junior high choir, so props to miss Morris at i.s. 44, and then my parents forced me to go to summer camp and it happened to be stagedoor manor, where I did my first show, so props to all the theatre mad campers who showed me the twisted path to musicals.

2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? Don't make me choose! Stephen Sondheim. Graciella Daniele. Norbert Leo Butz. Cast members from Sesame Street. Christopher Ashley. I could go on, but those are truly the first that sprang to mind.

3. What attracted you to "Queen of the Mist" and what do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? What do you like about performing with the Transport Group? First and foremost, to get to do a new musical with Michael John LaChiusa-that's a massive draw. I hope the audiences are moved to think about life and the living of it-which sounds really heavy but not as much when you see the show.

Jack Cummings (the director) is incredibly giving and kind, and he assembles amazing groups to work with.

4. What do you love most about performing with this cast and what do you love most about your song "Break Down The Door"? It is a joy to get to be a ballast for Mary Testa, who is working her patootie off in this show. Break Down The Door is just fun and silly and I get to sing hooty, which is, well, a hoot.

5. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? When you're dealing with a new piece, I love the part where you watch it take its final shape...the shaping and molding is very exciting. 

I pretty much practice at home, but if I can be alone on a body of water, I'll practice there.

6. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I've learned how to find energy when I am positive that I have none. 

7. You recorded "West" for Scott Alan's "Keys" album. How did you and Scott find each other? What do you llike about Scott and his music? I think I first got to know him when I recorded demos for his musical 'Piece.' 

He seems to have his finger on the pulse of what a lot of young people want to hear-I have lost count of how many young people have told me how much they love his stuff. I sound very old when I keep saying young people.

8. What was the best part about playing "Elphaba" in "Wicked" (both on tour and Broaway)? What attracted you to that role? I suppose the best part was getting to be a part of the massive movement that has become that show. What a joy to be in a hit that constantly moves people.

I was scared to pieces of doing that role, which in a twisted masochistic way is totally attractive. And I got to be a green rock star.

9. What did it mean to you to release your debut solo recording "I'm Not Waiting"? How did you come up with the title and song selection? What do you get from performing your own music that you don't get from performing in a show? I loved making the album, which would have been impossible without the guidance of Kurt Deutsch, Joel Moss and Andrew Lippa. We did it very quickly and still i would not have done anything different.

The title came from a song Lippa wrote for me on the occasion of my first solo show-there was no question it would go on the album, and the title just seemed right.

It's simultaneously freeing and scary to just be yourself without a character to hide behind...mostly i love getting to jam with a band and sing all kinds of stuff that I wouldn't have a chance to otherwise.

10. What's the best advice you've ever received? Recycle.

11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Don't make me choose...Stephen Sondheim, Graciella Daniele, Norbert Leo Butz...

BONUS QUESTIONS:

12. Favorite way to stay in shape? Pilates, walking, spinning. Favorite way to spend your day off? In sweats, with my dog, at the lake.

13. Favorite skin care product? Estee Lauder. Favorite kind of shoes? Whatever they're rocking at DSW.

14. Favorite website? CNN. Dlisted. Yes, both.

15. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman, with her invisible airplane and her damned tiny little waist.

Tuesday
Sep062011

Sally Wilfert

Sally Wilfert is another rising performer! I was first introduced to Sally and her amazing vocals this past May when she performed in fellow "Adaumbelle's Quest" participant Joel Waggoner's "Songbook Series" at Lincoln Center. Sally's voice is powerful, soulful, and controlled! She can raise the roof with her belt or give that emotional tone just the right whisper. Her Broadway credits include "Assassins," "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," and Disney's "King David." Off-Broadway, Sally has delighted audiences in "See Rock City," "Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn," "The Mistress Cycle" and "The Prince & The Pauper." Her other NY credits include "West Side Story Suite" (NYCB Lincoln Center), Carnegie Hall productions of "South Pacific," "Sondheim Tribute," and Cole Porter's "Jubilee." Sally has also toured the country in the National Tour of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and in regional productions of "Les Miserables," Marry Me a Little," "Make Me A Song," "The Last Five Years," "Elegies," "Enchanted April," and "Amadeus." On television, Sally has lit up the screen in "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Loving," "Sondheim: A Tribute," and "South Pacific."

Sally can next be seen in Singing OnStage Productions' "Side By Side By Sondheim" at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC at 7:00pm on September 13 & 15 along with fellow "Adaumbelle's Quest" participant Barbara Walsh as well as Paul Anthony Stewart and Kate Wetherhead. The Laurie Beechman Theatre is located at 407 West 42nd Street (between 9th & 10th Avenue). Tickets are $20 + $15 food or drink minimum. For tickets call 212-695-6909!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I would have to say that it all started with music, which was a big part of my family growing up in Ohio. I started playing piano at age 5, in middle school discovered that I had a singing voice, and by high school it was clear that there was a performer inside of me. All I knew was that when I was on a stage and connected to an audience I felt most at home. So anyone and everyone from that point onward inspired me to be who I am today.

2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? I would love to sing and share the stage with Barbara Cook.

3. What attracted you to "Side by Side by Sondheim" and how has Stephen Sondheim influenced you as a performer? Well, Richard Biever and I have been friends for many years....and he is one of the most passionate theatre people I know! So when he asked me to be a part of the fundraiser for his amazing new theatre company (I love their mission statement), and that we would be doing "Side by Side" I said....hmmm....let me think...."YES!!!!"

When I discovered Sondheim on my path as a young actor, he, quite frankly, changed my life. I learned through his music what it meant to truly be an actor who sings and interprets a song. And that both the music and the text require equal attention. Once that clicked, I was obsessed - and I have never approached music in the same way again. And to have been able to work with him? Crazy dream come true.

4. If you could perform in any Sondheim show, which would you choose? Merrily We Roll Along What do you like most about performing his music? What I like most about performing Sondheim music, is that I discover something new every time I live inside his material. I experience one revelation after another about myself, the music, and about life....It is beyond rewarding.

5. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? I love to rehearse. The "process" is my favorite part of a show.....it is where you get to make big mistakes and big discoveries while tapping into a character of a song. And also where you have an opportunity to collaborate with other wonderful artists, like I will be doing in "Side by Side." Where is your favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? My favorite place to rehearse is in my living room of my apartment. My neighbors love me!

6. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Oh wow, I have learned a lot about myself from being a performer! The biggest one I have learned is to stay in the moment and listen. Life can sweep me away, and I can get overwhelmed with "burning my candle at both ends" (which I have done since I was a kid). But if I can just stay in the moment and really listen to the situation or what my instincts are saying, then I can make a decision and move on.

7. Favorite way to stay in shape? Classes at the gym....just mixing it up all the time. I do anything from Spinning to Tabata. Oh, and I am also obsessed with Physique 57!

8. Favorite skin care product? Aveda hydrating lotion. Favorite kind of shoes? anything comfy that has a heel.

9. Favorite website? I'd have to say YouTube.

10. "Glinda" or "Elphaba"? Probably Elphaba - I'm strong-willed and I love to wear black!

BONUS QUESTION:

11. What's the best advice you've ever received? Don't listen while you sing.

Wednesday
May252011

Howard McGillin

Howard McGillin, Sally Mayes Photo Credit: Carol RoseggTony Award nominee and Theatre World Award Winner Howard McGillin holds the record as the longest running "Phantom" in "The Phantom of The Opera," playing the role for 2,544 performances! With one of the biggest male voices out there, Howard delighted thousands of audiences during his run in "Phantom." His other Broadway credits include "Kiss of The Spider Woman," "She Loves Me," "The Secret Garden," "Sunday in the Park with George," "Anything Goes" (Tony & Drama Desk nomination), and "Drood" (Tony and Drama Desk Nomination, as well as Theatre World Award). Off-Broadway audiences saw Howard shine in "As Thousands Cheer," "La Boheme" (Drama Desk nomination), and Encores' "Where's Charlie?" Howard toured the US in "Peter Pan" and regionally been seen in Stephen Sondheim's "Bounce" at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago and Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for which he received a Helen Hayes nomination. In addition to the US, Howard took London by storm when he starred in "Mack and Mabel" and "Anything Goes." His film credits include "Swan Princess" and "The South Park Movie." Howard has also released a collection of love songs with his debut CD "Where Time Stands Still."

David Burnham, Howard McGillin, Photo Credit: Carol RoseggBilly Stritch, Lillias White, Howard McGillin, David Burnham, Sally Mayes, Rachel York, Photo Credit: Carol RoseggHoward can currently be seen in Rubicon Theatre Company's production of "The Best Is Yet To Come: The Music of Cy Coleman" at 59E59 Theaters in NYC (59 East 59th Street) along with Billy Stritch, Lillias White, Sally Mayes, David Burnham, and Rachel York. For tickets click here and for much more on Howard be sure to visit http://www.howardmcgillin.com

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I guess Richard Kiley was a huge early idol of mine. He was an actor who also happened to sing (beautifully, I might add). When I first got the theatre bug back in high school, I played cast albums over and over, and MAN OF LA MANCHA was one of them. I became a huge fan of Kiley's then. Years later, when I was doing the Lincoln Center revival of ANYTHING GOES, he came backstage and told me he wanted his son (who was an actor) to see me in the show. I was hugely flattered.

2. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? Jimmy Stewart. Too late, I'm afraid.

3. What attracted you to "The Best Is Yet To Come: The Music of Cy Coleman"? A job in town so I don't have to go out on the road. No, seriously, I love the music, and to work with David Zippel and Billy Stritch was a huge plus.

4. What was it like for you to perform "The Phantom" for so many years and what was your favorite part of the show? I really loved the experience (I guess I'd have to in order to keep at it that long). I've done several long runs on Broadway, and it takes a certain kind of stamina to sustain energy and interest over the course of time. Of course, nothing ever came close to the Phantom run--nothing's ever run that long! While some days you think you're not going to be able to get the energy up for a performance, once the curtain is up, something carries you through. Knowing the audience is seeing it for the first time is a big help. In terms of my favorite part of the show to perform, I'd have to say the final scene in the Phantom's lair is enormously satisfying to play. The show really builds beautifully to that scene, and it's a huge catharsis.

5. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? I love rehearsals. The chance to explore and build a performance with a creative team of directors, choreographers and actors is like nothing else. Especially in cases where the director sets the tone of exploration and freedom to make really bad choices. That's the only way you can really find something unique and satisfying all around.

6. Favorite place to practice/rehearse on my own? My living room, with the iPod on the stereo. I clear the coffee table out of the way and "dance around the living room!"

7. Favorite way to stay in shape? I love ride my bike, and thanks for the reminder. I've got to get back on it now that the weather's finally nice enough.

8. Boxers or Briefs? Too personal.

9. Favorite website? Facebook, although I'm really terrible about keeping up with it.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? I have no idea what you're talking about.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. What's the best advice you've ever received? 

1. If  you can do anything else with your life, do that, because a life in show biz is just too damned hard. Guess I didn't listen.

2. Listen.

12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Wonder Woman.