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I am so excited to announce my new partnership with NYMF (New York Musical Theatre Festival)! "Call Me Adam" will be providing NYMFerviews (exclusive interviews with some of the cast and creatives from the various productions in this year's NYMF festival).

  

 

Entries in Adam Rothenberg (3)

Saturday
Jul082017

Call Redialed: Brian Charles Rooney: NYMFerview: Miss Blanche Tells It All at NYMF

Brian Charles RooneyI just love Brian Charles Rooney! I'm so so excited that once again he answered my call. Brian's voice and talent are unreal and whenever I get to see him in a show or concert, it's a treat!

This summer he is starring in one of the most talked about NYMF shows, Miss Blanche Tells It All. It's 1969 New Orleans: standing room only. The band starts the opening number for "Miss Blanche," the hottest act in the Quarter – but "Miss Blanche" is missing in action. Instead, a fiery young man takes the stage. Relaying tales from his brutal childhood, he reveals a mysterious trunk, filled with clues about his past and the key to his future. Inspired by the imagination of Tennessee Williams, this intimate and seductive show takes us on one man’s journey of desire, self-expression, and liberation.

Miss Blanche Tells It All will play The New York Musical Festival (NYMF) from July 12-16 at Peter Jay Sharp Theatre (416 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

Be sure to check out a sneak peak video of Brian performing one of the songs from Miss Blanche Tells It All at the bottom of this interview!

For more on Brian visit https://www.briancharlesrooney.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This July, you'll be starring in the premiere of Miss Blanche Tells It All, a solo musical. What attracted you to this show? Why should people come see this production? People should come see the show because it is a wonderful, new show. I always feel there is not much better than seeing a new musical in development. The festival does such a wonderful job of giving composers, lyricists, and writers a chance to promote their work, and to see it performed on stage. You could be seeing the next big thing!

On a more personal level, I think people should come to see the show for the same reasons I was attracted to doing it. It's the story of a passionate man who may overcome his demons and come to terms with the fact that not everyone grows up with advantages or guidance. "Lee," the character I play, is someone to admire. We could all use someone like that right now.

2. What do you identify most with "Miss Blanche"? What is one characteristic of hers you are glad you don't have? As I mentioned, I play "Lee," who also plays "Miss Blanche" (among others), but I also play "Blanche," the woman who inspires "Lee's" character "Miss Blanche." That woman is an incredibly complex character, so there are a lot of characteristics I could choose! Aside from gender differences, I think "Blanche" has a very heightened sense of romance. She speaks in a poetic way, and there is an underlying thread of sensuality through all of that. I think I'm a sensual person, but she takes it to such a high level. It's rather lovely.

Brian Charles Rooney in "Miss Blanche Tells It All"3. The byline for "Miss Blanche," is "You never know a person 'til you walk in her heels." What have you learned about yourself from walking in "Miss Blanche's" heels? It's not the first time I've worn heels in a musical, or a play. I've played women a few times, and people have asked me if that is a niche I have created for myself. I suppose it is, but the real reason I have played these characters is because they were written so well, and I loved their stories. I am lucky that that is the case with this show. I think I've learned a lot about myself as an actor through our rehearsal process. I learned something with every show, but this one has demanded so much energy, thought, attention to detail, and emotional stamina. I've never so regularly walked out of rehearsal as drained as I have been with this show! That's a good thing! I've learned that I have developed the ability to meet the demands of a show where I'm out there, largely, all by myself. 

4. In Miss Blanche, you play a guy who takes the stage as "Miss Blanche," in place of the real "Miss Blanche," who has gone missing. When has there been a time you had to go on stage last minute? What was that moment like for you? Well, I will leave it to the audience to discover whether or not what you suggest is true! Is "Miss Blanche" missing? Is "Lee" taking her place? Or are they one and the same?

I cannot think of a time where I've had to go onstage unprepared, though I do a lot of workshops and readings of new work, and the challenge in those scenarios has always been to learn an immense amount of material in a very short time. I've never had to understudy someone, but I have friends who do it regularly, and I hear stories about how someone will get sick, unexpectedly. In some of those cases, the understudy has to go on before they had a chance to really rehearse the role! That's the stuff some nightmares could be made of!!

Brian Charles Rooney in "Miss Blanche Tells It All"Brian Charles Rooney in "Miss Blanche Tells It All"5. Looking back at your life, what is something in your past that you are now like, "Oh this was a clue that was ultimately leading me to where I am now"? My whole life, or at least my life growing up as a child, I always assumed I would be a doctor. I double majored in college, in order to prepare myself for medical school, but also for a career in the arts. I would say that prior to college, my work in high school drama club was probably a large clue, to anyone paying attention, that I was not going to dress up in scrubs taking care of kids (I'd wanted to be a pediatrician)! 

6. Miss Blanche Tells It All is an intimate and seductive show takes us on one man’s journey of desire, self-expression, and liberation. What's the most intimate detail about Brian Charles Rooney you are willing to share in this interview? I have a lot of insecurity about my looks. Thrilling answer, I know! Ha!

7. What do you still desire on your life's journey? What do you think is your strongest form of self-expression? What is one secret you want to liberate? I still desire the chance to work on a new Broadway show. I have worked on a revival, which was a wonderful experience. But I think my strengths are best exploited in new work.

As far as my strongest form of self-expression, I think it is my voice, both as a singer and an actor… I don't really like separating those skills, because, for me, speaking and singing are just different skills using the same instrument. I have worked hard to develop the unique talents I have (people who are aware of my body of work will know what I mean... and so will people who come to see this show).

Liberating a secret destroys the secret, does it not?  If I had to admit something, I'd want it to be something fun.

Brian Charles Rooney in "Bedbugs!!! It's A Musical"Brian Charles Rooney performing at the "Madonnathon"8. You have done a lot of drag throughout your career. What do you like about losing yourself in the world of drag as opposed to non-drag roles? I have only done full drag in plays and musicals, on and off Broadway, so I suppose I have actually carved out a specific niche for myself in that world. I have learned from some of the best about the art of applying make-up to create the illusion of a female face. It doesn't end with the face though, The skills required to perform as a drag artist include not only a steady hand with a brush, but also keen instincts with regard to creating a new physicality and a new vocal tone. I think, for me, losing myself in a drag role is no different than losing myself in a non-drag role. It really has always been about the character, and his or her story.

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? The ability to be less critical of myself. Sometimes I think I can be so hard on myself that I don't enjoy moments I should. I'm working on that though! I have been for a long time! I'll take 1% better for sure!

More on Brian:

Brian Charles Rooney made his Broadway debut as "Lucy Brown" in The Threepenny Opera (Roundabout Theatre Co.); & won the CT Critics Circle Award for Best Actor in a Musical as "Candy Darling" in POP! (Yale Repertory). He was recently lauded by The New York Times for his performance as "Dionne Salon" in the hit Off-Broadway musical, Bedbugs!!! & has won two NYMF Outstanding Performance Awards: Bedbugs!!! (2008) & Bayonets of Angst (2014). He appeared with Kristin Chenoweth at Lincoln Center in Andrew Lippa's I Am Harvey Milk, & in the Carnegie Hall Concert Production of Guys & Dolls, starring Nathan Lane & Megan Mullally. In 2007, Brian won The Kurt Weill Foundation's Lys Symonette Award for Dramatic Excellence.

Monday
Jul202015

Call Answered: NYMFerview: Oliver Houser: Held Momentarily NYMF 2015

I love being introduced to our next generation of musical theatre artists. Oliver Houser is no exception, so needless to say, I was quite excited to talk with Oliver about his show Held Momentarily which is being presented in the 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) from July 20-27. Click here for tickets!

Held Momentarily is about six strangers that are stuck on a stalled subway line learn it's not just the train that is stuck.

For more on Oliver be sure to visit www.oliverhouser.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

For more on NYMF be sure to visit http://nymf.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. Your show, Held Momentarily, about six strangers are stuck on a stalled subway line learn it's not just the train that is stuck, is being presented in NYMF 2015. What made you want to write this show? I began working on Held Momentarily a few years after graduating from the LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts (the "Fame School"), and wanted to create an ensemble piece in the vein of A Chorus Line or The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee to showcase the particular talents of some of my extraordinarily gifted friends, including fellow LaGuardia alum India Carney, who is rejoining the cast this summer after making it as a finalist on NBC’s The Voice. I’m a New York boy through and through, so the subway felt like the right setting. And I think childbirth is a really unfathomable thing, and the most remarkable feat of the human body. So I thought, "I want to write a show where strangers come together to help a woman give birth on the subway." It’s a love letter to New York about living in the moment and the beauty of unexpected connections.

2. You and Hunter Bird co-created Held Momentarily. How did the two of you come to work together? What has been the best part about working with him? Working with Hunter is magic. He co-produced the Festival of New American Musicals’ Show Search competition in LA, for which I was a finalist. When I first met him, I thought what I’ve since learned most people think when they meet him, which is that he is going to take over the world. It’s like how everyone who meets Bill Clinton says he makes you feel like you’re the only person alive. Hunter has something like that. So I said, "ok, I want to work this guy." I invited him to direct a workshop of Held Momentarily in January 2014 and he’s since been integral to the piece’s development. Working (well, playing) with him is intoxicating and overwhelming. We’ll sit down somewhere, I’ll pull out my voice memo app and hit record, and he’ll just become the characters and have conversations with himself (usually very loud, always very entertaining), and that often becomes dialogue that goes into the show verbatim. He is so unbelievably articulate that he will say a phrase that I immediately know has to be a song title. It’s frustrating sometimes because I leave our meetings overflowing with these ideas and kernels he’s dumped into my brain, and it’s hard to keep track. But that’s a good problem to have.

3. What excites you about having Held Momentarily in NYMF? So many things. I’m 22 years old, and this feels like a pretty tremendous step to be taking in my career. I am in love with my cast and creative team, and they bring such humor and depth to my work that I could never begin to imagine was there when I wrote it. It is a total thrill to watch such consummate artists use my words and music as a springboard for their own whimsical artistic invention. Additionally, most of the actors have now lived with these characters for a year and a half and grown with them through the show’s various incarnations (including our acclaimed run last summer at the NY Fringe Festival and Fringe "Encore" series), so they feel really free to play and dig deep into who these people are.

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Held Momentarily? First and foremost, I hope they come away having laughed a lot, and with some new little light shed on the universal human experience, which is what I’m striving for in my art right now. More specifically to this piece, I hope people come away with a heightened sense of awareness and mindfulness, even if it just means noticing something they hadn’t before on the subway ride home. That’s what the show’s really about—learning to be in the moment, and finding the beauty in the everyday. So often it’s the funny glance we exchange with a stranger on our morning commute that puts the joy and spice in our lives, but we are increasingly closed off to having those interactions as we become further isolated from one another.

Cast of "Held Momentarily" From left: Oliver Houser (Cal), Yael Rizowy (Sam), Jordan Barrow (Stan), Geena Quintos (Mindy), Elliot Greer (Liam) and James Zebooker (Greg)5. If you could give people one reason as to why they should come see Held Momentarily, what would that reason be? To laugh, to cry, and to see the next generation of Broadway performers before they are famous.

6. Held Momentarily is a poignant musical comedy about making connections, living in the moment, and moving on in life. When was there a time in your life where you 100% lived in the moment? made a connection that was important to your next move in life, and when did you move on from something you knew you had to? Ironically, this rehearsal process has been the most I have truly lived and been in the moment in a long time. We are all having so much fun and working as such a collaborative unit and listening to each other so closely, that it is virtually impossible to not get lost in what is exactly in front of us. I can go five hours without realizing I haven’t checked my phone, which feels like a sad accomplishment, but it’s a big deal! In terms of making connections important to my next move in life, I actually fall a little bit in love with a lot of people on the subway and fantasize about getting into serious relationships with them. I’ve been too shy to say anything to anyone yet. It’s a fine line between sharing a pleasant moment with a stranger and hitting on a stranger, you know?

Cast of "Held Momentarily", From left: Elliot Greer (Liam), James Zebooker (Greg), Yael Rizowy (Sam), India Carney (Lilith), Jordan Barrow (Stan), and Geena Quintos (Mindy)7. What has been the best advice you've ever received? This is a hard one. I’ve received so much great advice over the years that I call upon daily to help make my decisions. Bill Murray once told me not to "fuck the nurses" before I underwent an endoscopy. (He had given money to the hospital and was taking a tour). In terms of my art, I’ve held very close something David Zippel (lyricist for Mulan, Hercules and City of Angels) shared when he was mentoring me and my collaborator on our short musical, Preschool. He said, "The audience is always right, and the audience is never right." Meaning that you cannot deny an audience’s reaction to your work when they are watching it: if something isn’t getting a laugh, or if the energy in the room isn’t electric, then there is a problem. But when people not involved in the creation of the piece come up to you and offer their two cents on how to fix it, they are very often wrong.

8. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Invisibility. No question. I would do naughty things. No one would know!

9. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? Siracha hot sauce in a glass of Kombucha. The Kombacha. Bam. Delicious, tangy, perfect for the summer.

Oliver HouserMore on Oliver:

Oliver Houser is a writer, composer, actor and recent graduate of the Macaulay Honors Program at Hunter College, NY. His musical, Held Momentarily, ran at the 2014 NY International Fringe Festival, and was one of a small selection of shows to receive an extended run at the Fringe’s Off-Broadway "Encores" series at the SoHo Playhouse. Tony-winning composer Bill Finn has showcased Oliver’s work at Barrington Stage Company and 54 Below. Oliver’s short musical, Preschool, was a finalist at the Festival of New American Musicals’ 2013 Show Search competition. His musical adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull debuted at the On the Verge Theater Festival in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014. Oliver is currently developing new work with the Musical Theatre Factory and is a member of the BMI musical theatre workshop. Acting credits include "Melchior" in Spring Awakening (Virginia Rep, RTCC nomination), TV: What Would You Do? (ABC, featured on unworthy), Phowned (Spike TV), Life on the Line (Oxygen, starring Ally Sheedy), and the lead role in the Ben Folds Five music video "Sky High." Oliver is a graduate of the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts and was awarded the Franklin Keller Award in recognition of talent in 2011.

Thursday
Jul092015

Call Answered: NYMFerview: 210 Amlent Avenue: Robin Skye & Steven Hauck

Steven HauckRobin SkyeIn my latest NYMFerview, "Call Me Adam" chats with Robin Skye & Steven Hauck about starring in 210 Amlent Avenue, written by Becky Golderg with music/lyrics by Karl Hinze, which will be making it's premiere in NYMF 2015 from July 9-14 at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre (480 West 42nd Street)! Click here for tickets!

In 210 Amlent Avenue, guests are gathering at the old Jordan estate in the Hamptons for Fourth of July Festivities with their host, "Mrs. Jordan," a retired actress. But one unexpected guest, "Judah," a young poet, will soon ignite a firestorm of events. In his search for the truth, he will unearth long-kept secrets that will lead to unexpected consequences. This compelling new musical is inspired by the stylish storytelling of Ibsen, Chekov, and O’Neill.

For more on 210 Amlent Avenue be sure to visit http://nymf.org/festival/2015-events/210-amlent-avenue and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and at http://www.210amlentavenue.com!

For more on NYMF be sure to visit http://nymf.org and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. You both are starring in 210 Amlent Avenue which is being presented at the 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) from July 9-14. What made you want to be part of this production? 

Robin Skye: It was the role. An opportunity to really sink my teeth in to a character with so many layers, with so much at stake.

Steven Hauck: I worked with Karl, our composer/lyricist, on another NYMF show, CROSSING SWORDS, which is one of my favorite theater experiences ever. I knew he was a musical genius and the score for the show would be amazing. I worked with Sami, our director, on a web series that was also a lot of fun. She has just the right balance of toughness and gentleness to be a good director. Plus I was attracted to the subject matter. We have such a love/hate relationship with the wealthy and privileged in this country. We resent them, yet we want to be them. The Hamptons appear to be a paradise peopled by those who have everything. But that's an illusion. That dichotomy is part of the dramatic tension of the show.

2. What do you identify most with about your characters?

Robin Skye: How incredibly fallible we are as human beings.

Steven Hauck: "Murphy" steers clear of the drama and enjoys life in the moment. He approaches everything with humor, enthusiasm and love. I wish I could say that I do that all the time; life is too short to let yourself get pulled down by guilt and fear.

3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing 210 Amlent Avenue?

Robin Skye: Hopefully an entertaining evening at the theatre. 

Steven Hauck: The show combines the pulpy suspense of a soap opera with a more nuanced exploration of family dynamics. I hope that audiences will be entertained by the "bad behavior" of the characters and also think about the consequences of living with secrets and lies.

4. If you had to give people one reason as to why they should come see 210 Amlent Avenue, what would that reason be?

Robin Skye: To see, support, the work of new, young, writers, and watch this great cast I have the pleasure to work with.

Steven Hauck: You will be transported into a vivid world that is both idyllic and sinister.

5. 210 Amlent Avenue is about the search for truth and unearthing long kept secrets. When was there a time in your life you searched for the truth? In that search what did you find? 

Robin Skye: Well hopefully I will never stop searching for the truth. I find that I still discover something new every day.

Steven Hauck: My father is a Presbyterian minister. Both he and my mom were students at Princeton Theological Seminary when they met. The Presbyterian church is relatively progressive, but when I started to search for my own spiritual truth, I found another path. For the past 25 years I’ve attended Unity of New York, a "spiritual center for creative living." Unity emphasizes a personal, loving relationship with God, with none of the guilt and shame that even the most well-meaning religions seem to foster.

6. Continuing with this theme, What is a long-kept secret you revealed and in revealing that secret, what were some unexpected events that occurred?

Robin Skye: Haha. That's a secret.

Steven Hauck: The experience that leaps to mind is coming out as gay. The late 70's weren't a particularly open time for such things, at least not in Texas where I grew up. There were unexpected events of both acceptance and rejection. All these years and political gains later, I still have to remind myself that being openly gay doesn't mean I’m making myself a target.

Robin Skye rehearsing for "210 Amlent Avenue"7. What excites you about being part of NYMF? 

Robin Skye: Being a part of a community that supports new work.

Steven Hauck: I've done two previous NYMF shows, THE HAPPY EMBALMER in 2009 and CROSSING SWORDS in 2013 (for which I won an Outstanding Individual Performance award, which was quite exciting). The festival atmosphere reminds me of the One-Act Play contest my high school participated in. Not only were we trying to put on the best show possible, we were trying to "win," as a production and as actors. The aspect of competition gives the whole experience an extra shot of adrenalin. Plus it's always a thrill to originate a role.

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

Robin Skye: Follow your gut. 

Steven Hauck: Put yourself first. When you empathize or serve, make sure you’ve taken care of yourself and are doing so from a place of wholeness.

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

Robin Skye: Teleportation. 

Steven Hauck: It's gotta be flying. I used to dream about that all the time, though not so much lately.

10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it?

Robin Skye: Hmmm, not being my area of expertise, I think I'd need to consult a bartender on this one.

Steven Hauck: I have one. It's called a "Dead Ringer" and has red wine and Fresca. The name comes from a terrible/wonderful Bette Davis movie in which she plays twin sisters. The poor twin kills the rich twin and takes her place, only to be convicted of a murder that the rich sister committed. When you're not yourself, you can't win.

Robin SkyeMore on Robin:

Broadway and National Tours: Parade, Les Miserables (3 companies), Sunset Boulevard, Cyrano-The Musical, The Tony’s, Broadway the Big Band Years (CamiI). Off-Broadway: Southern Comfort, The Butter and Egg Man, Joe’s Pub (NYMF Shows) - Tim and Scrooge, The Piper, To Paint the Earth. Regional - Williamstown, The Eugene O’Neil, Goodspeed, Barrinton Stage, Hartford Stage, Pennsylvania Center Stage. Film - Ithica (Meg Ryan Dir.) Beautiful Creatures, Freedom Writers, Living Out Loud (Richard Lagravenese Dir.), Split Ends (Dorothy Lyman Dir.) co-wrote the song "With You" with Randy Redd for the film Postman Pat. TV - The Divide, The Wire, The Tony’s, Third Watch, In Living Color, Life Goes On, The National Anthem at Wrigley Field, several Soap’s. Robin’s album House of Love is available on Amazon and iTunes.

Steven HauckMore on Steven:

Steven Hauck has appeared on Broadway in The Velocity of Autumn and Irena's Vow. Off-Broadway credits include One Arm (Moises Kaufman/New Group), The Screwtape Letters (Westside Theater), The Young Playwrights Festival (Cherry Lane), Crossing Swords (Outstanding Performance Award/NYMF) and King Lear with Paul Sorvino. Regional favorites are "Sherlock Holmes" in The Adventure of the Suicide Club (Cincinnati Playhouse), "Louis deRougemont" in Shipwrecked! (Penguin Rep), "Juror #8" in Twelve Angry Men (Engeman Theater), "Marc" in Art (Geva Theater), and "de Guiche" in Cyrano (Milwaukee Rep). Steven toured to Paris, Berlin and Vienna in Phantom of the Opera. He has featured roles in the films Oldboy and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (both directed by Spike Lee), The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and What Happens Next (opposite Wendie Malick). TV includes Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Elementary,The Good Wife, The Americans, Boardwalk Empire, and 30 Rock