Friday, February 13, 2015

Guest Interview



Singer/Songwriter/Actor Richard Byford started his musical journey during the folk music era of the 60s and honed his craft singing in folk clubs, theaters and pubs around the world.   In addition to his other creative credits, Byford is an event producer and popular public speaker.  Richard Byford performs stories from his travels, highlighted with original songs, in his heartfelt and personal look inside “The Heart of a Gypsy Troubadour” running February 13 through April 9 at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks, CA.   http://www.bywayentertainment.com


INTERVIEW with GYPSY TROUBADOUR Richard Byford
Written by Steve Peterson


How did you first get interested in acting/performing?

That question is answered in my play – I just fell in love with theatre and performing.  I won a scholarship from the British government to go to The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and I have now been a performer for 53 years.


What was your first performance experience like?

It was terrifying; I suffered from stage fright really badly – but I got over it and between acting and fronting a Rock & Roll band, I found my lifetime love.  It was much easier to get girlfriends too.


For many years, you’ve performed as part of a musical duo with Mary Avery.  How did you and Mary get started? 

I was singing at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California back in 1971 and Mary came in one night with a choir who wanted Mary to sing with me – she did and has for over 40 years.  We are now in our 44th year. We have sung all over the world.  We were married for the first three years and she’s my best friend.


How did the solo show come about?

I have always told stories in between songs and I have been extremely lucky to do a lot of things in my life – working behind the Iron Curtain in the 60s, riding bulls in rodeos, racing cars and much more.  So, I have a lot of stories which people really seem to like.


You’re also a producer of other performers’ events.  How has that helped you in fashioning your solo show?

I think it’s the other way around – because I am a performer and I know what it is like to be on both sides of the “footlights,” I know what it takes to produce a show. A lot of well known celebrities have said that they like working for me or with me for that very reason.


Tell us a bit about your show.

My show is a collection of originals songs illustrated by stories from my life.  Some are funny, some are sad, but it has been one hell of a ride.  I have performed on stage for the past 53 years and as I said, I have always told stories as introductions to my songs - people always love the stories and say "You should write a book."  Well, instead of a book I wrote a theatrical play - that's always been my dream. The Heart of a Gypsy Troubadour is a collection of stories from my life - stories from my cowboy days, stories from my car racing days, stories from the 60s when I spent time in Yugoslavia & Russia and performed behind the so-called "Iron Curtain", stories from Alaska and much more.  The stories are highlighted with original songs - that is what troubadours do - they tell stories and sing songs.  Some of the stories are funny, some are sad but you will agree - it has been a life well-lived.


What would you like the audience to take away from having seen your show?

I have thought about this topic a lot. The world needs steady working family people but it also needs the creative restless artists – the difference is not necessarily bad – but I want the audience to know my side of it – Pete Seeger once said that the audience comes to his performance either as couples or singles but by the time they leave they have become a family because they have shared, laughed and sung together.  I’d like that.


Is there anything you want the reader to know about you or the solo show?

I want people to come to my show ready to feel and share all the emotions that make life so interesting – I want them to share in the life of a Gypsy Troubadour and walk away saying “Wow I have to do more with my life.”



Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 Interview with Cathy Rigby

Actress/singer Cathy Rigby is preparing to open as the Cat in the Hat in 3-D Theatricals' production of Seussical February 7. Rigby talks about her love of the role and other theatrical delights.

Why is the Cat in the Hat a favorite role of yours?  I saw you play it at your theatre many years ago.

Although the Cat seems to create chaos… His main objective in this play is to help "Jojo" understand that his imagination and creativity are wonderful!!! As well as valuable, and practical! In this story, Jojo's "Thinks" help him to save "Whoville" and all the people who live there. 

As with Peter Pan you bring such a sense of wonderment and fun to it. Audiences of all ages seem to take to the piece. Why do you think this is so?

Whether you are an adult or a child there is something for everyone…The characters, including Horton the Elephant, Gertrude Mcfuzz, The WHO's ,  the Sour Kangaroo…JoJo etc.  in Seussical, are trying to figure out how to fit in, have their voice heard, deal with war, and many other personal and social issues. (Ie ,War, bullies,  hypocrites… "Being different" hopes, dreams etc.) It's all done with beautiful lighting, whimsical characters and most of all fantastic music by Lynn Ahrens  and Stephen  Flaherty. 

How is it working with 3-D Theatricals? To me their professionalism is a perfect match for what you and Tom have established at La Mirada. You make it worth traveling south to see a show.

It's really quite exciting to work as a real theater community.  3-D theatricals has been a real friend to McCoy Rigby Entertainment and the La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts. We all want to do great work and higher talented theater folks, whether it's artistic directors, actors, musicians, crew, front-of-house ushers...We are all part of an effort to keep theater alive and well and growing in Southern California.

Talk a little about your cast and director for Seussical.

I've worked with a few people before but many of the actors are new to me. But once you work with a cast and crew they become part of your extended family. That's the great part of our rather "Gypsy style" working situations. You meet people very quickly, become close and then see them in another production somewhere. David Engel and I have done other productions. He worked with us at the La Mirada theater for the performing arts in a few shows and of course I worked with him in Seussical on Broadway. I love his passion and enthusiasm as a director and choreographer. Specially with this show because he started with it when it was just a workshop in NY. If anyone understands or has the insight into the characters, the music and the book it's David.  TJ Dawson is simply one of the most caring, passionate, and talented producers. We are very fortunate to have him in Orange County. 

When I last spoke to you, you told me you wanted to play Madame Thenardier in Les Miserables, so when you mounted it - beautiful production, by the way - at La Mirada, you didn't do it. What happened? I'd like to see you do this. Your sense of comedy and physicality are perfect for it.

Thank you for the compliment. Les Mis  turned out better than Tom and I could've ever hoped. Thanks to the incredible effort of all the artistic designers, actors, production staff and especially Dana Solimando who managed to stage many of those big scenes during our tech rehearsal. Les Mis was a huge undertaking. It's one thing when you have months and months to mount a show of this size and scope..vs three weeks, and as far as playing Madam T, I was so busy with our "McCoy Rigby Conservatory"in Yorba Linda, I thought it would be a bit much trying to take on a brand-new role like this and working with our kids. 

What else is in the air for the future for you and for your theatre?

Well our next production is the world premiere of Pride and Prejudice, and we are in talks with producers around the US, Canada, Asia and Europe to bring some of our La Mirada shows to their venues. 

Whatever Cathy Rigby puts her mind to, you can bet it's a worthwhile and entertaining venture. Catchher in Seussical for 3-D Theatricals in Fullerton and then in Redondo Beach at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Ticket info is at the link below.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

2015 Interview with Dick Cavett

Author/actor/TV talk show host Dick Cavett will star at Theatre 40 and for one night at the Saban Theatre in the controversial play Hellman v. McCarthy beginning February 6. Cavett is best known for his TV talk shows from the 70s to present time on CBS, ABC, PBS, USA Network and currently on TCM hosting reruns of his classic 70s interviews. He is known for his laid-back conversational style with such celebrities as Groucho Marx, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Jack Benny and Mel Brooks among many others. He is a three-time Emmy Award winner. He also currently writes a blog published by the New York Times.

In our chat he discusses - with inimitable wit - the play and its background, playing himself in it, and his new book, entitled Dick Cavett: Brief Encounters. 

Just a bit of background: in January 1980 while Cavett was interviewing author Mary McCarthy on PBS, at the sound of Lillian Hellman's name, she is quoted as responding: "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'.

....................

Unfortunately, I never saw your original broadcast with guest Mary McCarthy in January of 1980. Was that your highest-rated interview at that time?

I doubt that it was the highest rated, because nobody had any idea what was going to happen, including me.

Did Lillian Hellman call in and request a rebuttal or did she just sue for libel?

The phone rang the next morning and I heard (in Hellman's characteristic scratchy voice) "Why the hell didn't you defend me?" from her mouth which was only exceeded in its dirtiness by Richard M. Nixon.

You had interviewed her before, correct?

A couple of times.

When did Brian Richard Mori write the play Hellman v. McCarthy?

I'm not sure when he worked on it; it suddenly just appeared in my life, out of the blue, and I remember thinking "How do you make a play out of this?" Well, he certainly did. You are riveted all the way through it. It's like following a good, well-plotted drama or mystery. Nobody falls asleep during this play.

Why do you think it took over thirty years to dramatize?

Well, I don't know, now that he's done such an excellent play, you think 'what a great idea, why didn't ten people do it?' And maybe people tried, but this one certainly is the successful version.

Explain the conflict with Hellman.

You mean that old bag who started this psychotic lawsuit with no justification whatsoever?! They had to prove that she was not a public figure, because you can say anything you want about public figures. At the same time she was appearing in that Blackglama fur ad, which did not mention the name of any of the women in them...Carol Burnett, Beverly Sills...so therefore she was hired because she was a public figure but in her vengeful nasty way she... and somehow her lawyer got away with denying that. But she's half the drama; the two women are equally represented throughout the play.

Did you do the play on the road before New York last year?

No, it was done at a little theatre called the Abingdon off-Broadway; it has a good reputation as an off-Broadway theatre. It only played a limited run, so we ran for three weeks in New York. Splashed all over the Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times, I think after the second performance by Mr. Isherwood of the Times. Next day, it sold out.

And you got superlative reviews?

Yeah, yeah, nobody hated it.

Nora Ephron also wrote a play about Hellman and McCarthy called Imaginary Friends. Were you included in that?

It does include me and my show. They had 9 ft high, 4 ft wide television screens onstage. In a crucial scene Mary thinks she's (Hellman) a dishonest writer, and says her infamous line with 'and' and 'the', and it was interesting to see myself not only that tall (we laugh) but then cutting to what was Mary only it wasn't Mary it was Cherry Jones. And they shot it so it matched as if they were showing Mary on my show. And she (Jones) was so good, I really thought she was Mary.

Marcia Rodd played Mary in Hellman v. McCarthy in New York, right?

Yes, and she decided to give it another shot here, and I'm glad she did.

Who is playing Hellman here at Theatre 40?

Flora Plumb, as they used to say, is essaying the part and Marcia, Mary. A wonderful  young actor from New York named Roan Myer plays the only sympathetic character in the whole play, the long-suffering male nurse to Lillian... the irascible, maddening, sick, chain-smoking, booze-drinking, foulmouth talking Lillian Hellman.

It sounds like you didn't like her (intoning humor).

It's hard to like someone who sues you for a million dollars. I liked her fine before. I had dinner at her apartment a couple of times. Other people at the table would be people like the New York Times book critic and Mike Nichols. Mike actually was going to come (to the play). He sent me an e-mail saying "Almost came down to see you, but the thought of seeing Lillian again in any form might be too much."

(laughing) What other actors are in the play here?

Two actors familiar to you audiences  here are Martin Thompson and John Combs who play the two lawyers.

You've been rehearsing at Theatre 40?

They've been rehearsing before I got here, and we're still rehearsing. Howard Storm is excellently directing the play.

Do you expect LA audiences to be as intelligent as New York audiences?

As intelligent as New York audiences?

Well, you know how New Yorkers are always putting down LA for not being a theatre town?

You mean the people who refer to this as LaLa Land. (he laughs) I've never seen a major drop in intelligence in California. Maybe they're only showing me the right people.  I lived here, so to speak, for six months, working for Jerry Lewis, back in the days of the ABC two-hour Jerry Lewis Show with Mort Sahl and everybody. I had a little apartment out in Bel Air, almost to the freeway.

Did you write for him?

I did.

That had to be interesting, that whole gig.

It was. (he laughs)  There's a long book and play in that.

How is it to play yourself onstage?

I try not to think about it.

Did playwright Mori take your actual words from the broadcast?

Some of the stuff is right from it. Some of it is approximate from things that we know happened. And there's a brilliant scene by him on the two ladies meeting one last time after the whole thing is blown up. This never happened. They didn't see each other again. What he has imaginatively... and I point out, we don't know that the ladies ever met really like this, but wasn't that a swell scene and it probably would have been. So, we don't fool the audience into thinking that...

Sounds like fun. I saw you do Otherwise Engaged on Broadway many years ago. I was very delighted with what you did with that. Did you enjoy doing that play?

I couldn't wait for the sun to start going down so I could get to the theatre.

Was it because you were a perfect fit for the character, do you think?

 I've never tried to figure out why; it was just so satisfying to do a well-written play. Strangely enough, I had every other line; virtually, I never was off-stage. I guess that's good for the ego, but sort of tough if you want to have a drink, as Richard Burton did after every scene. I never tried that. And I took over for Tom Courtenay. That was intimidating. I had to assume that most people hadn't seen both of us.

Well, I did see both of you, and I thought you did a wonderful job.

I hated leaving it. And I had to, because the PBS show started. I've tried to imagine that maybe I could have done both a little longer, but I don't know. It never pays to look back.


I just got your book over the weekend and I really enjoyed certain chapters like Bittersweet Christmas Story. That one struck a chord. When you're a kid, and your relatives suddenly get into a spat over something that should please them, you wonder if some deep unhappiness has been festering in them for a long time. Are there other personal encounters like this one?

Not like that one. What you singled out others have called grim reading. A little bitter drama that took place around a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.

My mother put my father's dinner down in front of him one night - it was spaghetti and it wasn't Christmas Eve, but...my father looked at it and suddenly picked up the plate and threw it against the wall. It came out of nowhere, and they started to argue.

Those things happen. In what movie is spaghetti thrown against the wall?

(We both answer simultaneously) The Odd Couple.
Those blowups in long term marriages are painful. You don't know mummy and daddy and all they've done.

Anyway, you wrote it very well and it truly moved me. I also loved the chapters about Mel Brooks and Jack Benny.

Did you read the one about Stan Laurel?

Not yet.

Actually I wrote a second one for the Times. Hundreds of people loved that. I still find it easier to believe by far that I have met Brando and Orson Welles and Katharine Hepburn, Robert Mitchum and all those people than the man that I met who helped the fat man struggle with the crated piano up a hundred and thirty-three steps in the Oscar-winning short The Music Box, which I can watch once a year easily. Somebody out here drove me to the steps - Stan told me where the steps were - and I visited them the last time I was here. They don't look anything like in the movie, because there were virtually no houses. Now they've filled in. There's a plaque there.

I can't wait to read about that. The other chapter that I loved was about comedy and you talked about setting up a joke for Benny.

I don't know if that clip is on youtube or not. It's great. I know there was a joke; Benny knows there was a joke on the subject of insurance. You can see him edging toward it. Then he says something like "Oh, I could do a whole routine on that." I give him another hint and you see it dawn. And he says, "I'll tell you the insurance I have. When I go, they go." Later, he shook my hand and said "Thanks for the cue."(he laughs)

You were such a great interviewer. You were tuned into him and were able to feed him.

When that works, it's nice.

You not only did a terrific interview with the one and only Katharine Hepburn, you did one on PBS with the comedian in a dress, female illusionist Charles Pierce. Do you remember him?

Sure.

 What do you remember about both of those shows?

I had never really seen his work, and heard about him from everybody it seems in the theatre.
My wife (Carrie Nye) was a great fan of his, but I hadn't seen his work. I was just dazzled right there. It was as if a man came in and walked up the wall or something. That's how good he was. I have to get that out and look at it again.

What about Miss Hepburn?

Of course, the Hepburn one was so unexpectedly long, that we got two 90-minute shows out of it. And there are twenty-five left over that have never been seen.

I remember at one point, she got up and stormed out, saying something like "Are we through?

That was a faux exit, not foe. And she came back and we did more.

It was great.

How do you get rid of her? (we laugh)

Any final comments about the play Hellman v. McCarthy before we rap?

You can safely advise people that they will watch it with rapt attention. It has drama, semi verbal violence, not physical...well, there's a moment, you could call that when Lillian belts her faithful male nurse. It's got everything but nudity and onstage sex. But we're trying to figure out how to get that in.

(we laugh)

Dick, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure talking to you and I look forward to seeing the play in as couple of weeks.

Thank you for making this painless. My wife reminds me that it goes from February 6 - 28 at Theatre 40 and one glorious night March 1 at the Saban Theatre, which is home for me because I did that spectacular special with Mel Brooks there a few years ago.

Well, best of luck and break a leg!

Thank you about the leg. You know the Germans say Hals und Beinbruch, meaning break neck and leg, Germans being a little more violent.
(we laugh)

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What a treat to talk to this icon! I haven't laughed so hard in quite a while. See him live onstage in Hellman v. McCarthy at Theatre 40 February 6-28 and then for one night March 1 at the Saban.

http://www.theatre40.org/home

http://www.sabantheatre.org/


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2015 Interview with Engelbert Humperdinck

Remember when English-born pop singer Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey) became a huge sensation in the 60s worldwide after his number one hit "Release Me" followed by "There Goes My Everything"? His handsome looks and laid-back style made him ever so popular with female fans. Well, he's still singing with a new album of duets called ENGELBERT CALLING, and he will be appearing for one night only at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills February 20. 

With so many duet albums on the market today, why did you decide to do one as well? 
WHEN I FIRST STARTED RECORDING THIS CD (OVER 2 YEARS AGO) THERE WEREN'T AS MANY DUET CDS BEING RELEASED. IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYONE DECIDED TO RECORD DUETS AT THE SAME TIME. I THINK THE PUBLIC ENJOY LISTENING TO THE VARIETY OF ARTISTS, AND IT BECOMES A BIT OF A COLLECTORS ITEM. MOST ARTISTS WILL ONLY EVER DO ONE (MAYBE TWO) DUETS CD IN THEIR LIFETIME.

You sound amazing and your artists from Elton John to Olivia Newton-John to Dionne Warwick to Johnny Mathis to Il Divo are simply great. Did you have a say in who was chosen? How did you go about choosing these wonderful singers?
MY SON SCOTT (WHO IS ALSO MY MANAGER) AND I SAT DOWN WITH THE RECORD LABEL AND DECIDED WHO TO APPROACH. SCOTT WAS SOLELY INSTRUMENTAL IN GETTING THIS PROJECT OFF THE GROUND, AND I THINK HE DID A FANTASTIC JOB.

Is the intent to bring young folks into the pop world of the 60s and 70s? You did include some newer artists that would attract them, but I assume it's to get them into the music of the past. There is so much beautiful music for them to appreciate. 
I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO EXPERIENCE DIFFERENT MUSICAL STYLES FOR ALL GENERATIONS. PERHAPS BEFORE I RECORDED WITH GENE (SIMMONS) MY FANS WEREN'T FAMILIAR WITH HOW GREAT HE WAS...THEY ARE NOW!..AND HOPEFULLY A LITTLE OF THAT WORKS BOTH WAYS.

Who was your inspiration when you were starting out? Your favorite singers? Why?
I'VE ALWAYS LOVED ROMANTIC SONGS..SONGS WITH MEANING AND FEELINGS. I USED TO LISTEN TO PEOPLE LIKE NAT KING COLE AND SAM COOKE AND OF COURSE ELVIS...NOT BAD TEACHERS RIGHT?

 Do you have a favorite song from your collection of hits?
THEY ARE ALL SPECIAL TO ME (AND I MEAN THAT). HOWEVER, I WOULD HAVE TO SAY "RELEASE ME" WAS THE SONG THAT REALLY STARTED MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE AND GAVE ME A GLOBAL CAREER 

How difficult is it to keep your voice in such great shape? You must be constantly touring and therefore practicing. I remember Debbie Reynolds telling me once that you should never stop practicing if you expect to get it right.
THE VOCAL CHORDS ARE LIKE MOST OTHER MUSCLES THAT NEED TO BE WORKED OUT.DEBBIE IS RIGHT... THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER REST ON YOUR LAURELS BUT TO KEEP CHANGING THE SHOW AND REHEARSING. I STILL GET NERVOUS BEFORE EVERY PERFORMANCE.

Who among the newer crop of singers do you particularly like? Why?
I THINK ED SHEERAN IS FANTASTIC. IN FACT I HAVE JUST PUT HIS SONG "THINKING OUT LOUD" INTO MY SHOW AND IT IS GETTING A HUGE RESPONSE. MY 5 YEAR OLD GRANDDAUGHTER KIKI TAUGHT ME THE LYRICS! CANT BE MUCH NEWER THAN THAT!


What is your overall impression of the way music has changed over the last few decades? 
I THINK MUSIC GOES IN CYCLES.THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME GREAT TALENT AROUND AT THE MOMENT.THE IMMEDIATE SUCCESS THAT A LOT OF THE TALENT SHOWS ENABLE YOUNG ARTISTS IS FANTASTIC BUT IT CREATES IMMEDIATE STARDOM ..SOMETIMES IT'S GOOD TO HONE YOUR CRAFT BEFORE THE SUCCESS COMES IN ORDER TO KNOW HOW TO DELIVER AND DEAL WITH IT. I DO LIKE THE SIMPLICITY OF BEING ABLE TO DOWNLOAD SONGS ...AS LONG AS THE WRITERS AND PERFORMERS GET PAID

What else is new in your world? 
I'M EXCITED TO LAUNCH MY JEWELRY LINE WITH ZALE MARK JEWELERS ON VALENTINES DAY ALL THE INFO WILL BE ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2015 Interview with Actress Tanna Frederick

Versatile actress Tanna Frederick, who played the quintessential Lizzie in The Rainmaker a couple of seasons back, is now performing in another Henry Jaglom production, his world premiere play The Train to Zakopane again at Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica. In our chat she talks about the challenges of playing Katia and other projects for stage and film.


What was it like preparing to play Katia?  Did you do a lot of research on the time period and Poland?


Preparing to play an anti-semite was like no other role I’ve ever prepared for. Preparing to play an anti-anything - as I recently did a double bill of both Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman and Train to Zakopane on the 17th as a benefit for the Museum of Tolerance, playing a racist white woman (ironically also on a train) in 1964 - was work I never anticipated would be so heart or stomach wrenching. It involved a lot of nausea, ulcers, and emotional breakdowns during rehearsals. Luckily I had wonderfully patient and communicative co-stars (Siaka Massaquoi in Dutchman and Mike Falkow in Train) who were there for me emotionally and physically, willing to talk though the hateful words and dialogue and reassure me when I needed it. Mike Falkow has been an amazing co-star: patient, kind, brilliant - a modern day Leslie Howard. Also Gary Imhoff and Levy Lee Simon were incredible directors to guide me in the directions the material required.

You really go all the way with your emotional involvement in a role. How has it taken its toll on you? 

Tums, tums, and more tums.

Why do you think audiences love to see plays and films about the time period from 1928 to 1945? What is the fascination?  

I don’t think it is as much about the time period right now as it is about the material remaining timeless - and I don’t mean that in a positive way. There is so much underlying, quiet hatred existing; rearing it’s head in massive acts of violence and atrocities on the international scene right now.  I think that this play appeals to people because people need to process the hatred bubbling up right now not just in a cerebral sense but in a way that allows their emotional life to live through these intense acts of violence. Henry’s Train gives them a venue to laugh, to cry, to be angry, but all through the guise of a love story. Both characters have reason to hate, and their reasoning comes as a massive love that they held for someone. Thus neither character, and Henry does a lovely job of playing in this ‘grey zone’, is neither the protagonist or antagonist.  And hopefully, by the end of the show, as I’ve seen from audiences and as I continue to hope to see, people want these two characters to reconcile their past, to overcome the hate, and love. I believe the antidote to hatred is understanding, communication, and breaking patterns. Train covers those, the difficulty of confronting those steps, but nonetheless it is a long and difficult journey for the actors, who I applaud heavily, to tell this story and keep the audiences with us and with Henry’s true story of his father.  

Was this Henry's most difficult play to write? Is he planning on filming it? It is so cinematic!

Yes, he is planning on filming it. We’re trying to figure out the best way to tackle that right now. As far as I saw during the writing process, he and Ron Vignone pushed the material out so quickly it almost seemed his easiest to write. He has had this story inside of him about his father and what his father, in hushed tones, would tell him from time - his father referencing it as being the ’only thing he was ashamed of’ in his life. Henry is a brilliant playwright. It was so exciting to see him tackle something with historical and real life magnitude behind it. He usually is drawn to women’s dilemmas and loves show business stories, and many of the audience has been quite shocked and delighted that Henry covered such material, especially during this political landscape and time.  

Is this your favorite role? How would you compare it to Lizzie in The Rainmaker?

I love every role I play.  I find something different and stretch my sensibilities with every character. I really can’t say I have a favorite character, but this is definitely one of the most important characters and important stories I have done. Lizzie was quite bright and a lot less innocent, yet much more jaded. She didn’t carry much hope for change, and Starbuck had to shake her out of that. Katia falls in love and lets her guard down. She is very much on one hand like a hurt, innocent child, stuck on a historical event that imprinted her whole adult life. Yet she is strong, determined, and hard working, as well as caring, as Lizzie was.  Katia just never confronted or dealt with the one blow that blew her life apart, and has tucked it so far down in her being that it has festered and metastasized, whereas Lizzie was dealing with the reality, constant rejection and a refusal to change.  

Talk a little about the work you've done to bring original theatre and film to your home state of Iowa.

In 2007, Richard Schinnow and I started the Iowa Independent Film Festival. It was my dream to showcase all of the great talent that comes out of Iowa. Through that idea, I founded Project Cornlight. IT is aimed at developing Iowa-based films and expand the performing arts industries in Iowa. 

What other projects are forthcoming for you in 2015?

2015 is going to be a great year. I am excited for the release of Henry Jaglom’s film Ovation. It is all about the drama that happens behind the stage of a theater production.  Another release is a project that I am very passionate about and hold dear to my heart, Garner, IA. It’s a great story about family, reuniting, and restarts. We shot it in Garner, IA. Jane Spenser's South of Hope Street is currently in pre-production. We will be shooting that in Switzerland.

This is one busy and committed actress. Catch her as Katia in Train to Zakopane through March at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica! Her brilliant performance will knock your socks off.
(photo credit: Odessy Barbu)
http://www.edgemarcenter.org/

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Interview - Emrhys Cooper Embarks On New Projects

In the new TV series Person of Interest on December 16, actor Emrhys Cooper made quite a splash. (picture above) Now it's time to talk about 2015 and what it holds in store for this versatile actor/performer.

interview - Spring!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Interview with Chris Verdugo and Joe Nadeau of GMCLA

Chris Verdugo

Executive director Chris Verdugo and artistic director/conductor Joe Nadeau of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) are busy these days getting ready for the big holiday concert to take place this weekend Saturday December 13 at 3 pm and 8 pm and Sunday December 14 at 3 pm at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.

What is new about this year's concert in comparison to those of past years?

GMCLA's Holiday Spectacular: A Gleeful Celebration is drawn from two main inspirations:  The TV Show GLEE  (which is currently in it's final season) and music that has been performed by men's glee clubs over the years.  When looking at the potential list of songs for this concert there were hundreds of selections to choose from.  From this extensive list we created a concert that is fun, artistic, challenging, exciting, entertaining, and spectacular. This year there are more costumes and more flesh than in year’s past and possibly the funniest second act we’ve ever had in a Holiday Show. 

Is there a happy balance between upbeat popular music and traditional carols?

Very much! Each year GMCLA pulls out all the stops for our Holiday Spectacular - and our audience expect nothing less.  For A Gleeful Celebration we will be singing traditional holiday favorites, new and exotic selections from around the world, pop hits, delightful surprises, hilarious spoofs with a fabulous cast of characters.  

Tell me more specifically about the comedy in the show.

We end the first half of the concert with a song called "Heavy Christmas".  This is a big medley of famous "heavy" hits from classical music with a gay holiday twist.  This one song will include appearances from Santa and his (ahem, sexy) reindeer,  elves, and toy soldiers.  The second half features a show-stopping all-male version of the Nativity - with Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, shepherds, wise men, and a heavenly host of angels to bring it all home. 

What is planned for 2015? Any special guest stars on tap in the year ahead?

Our Holiday Spectacular is just the first performance in GMCLA's 36th Season. In February, GMCLA will collaborate with the amazing string quartet - Well Strung to present a special concert we are calling Heartstrings. This concert will showcase the LA premiere of a new commissioned work called "Tyler's Suite", showcasing the life and legacy of Tyler Clementi.  We also have GMCLA Goes Down Under in March and Vegas Baby in June and are currently in negotiations with some exciting guest artists.  

How has the chorus been doing over the past year in its attempt to bring different members of the community closer together? 

Over the past several years, we’ve seen an influx of younger members auditioning and making it into the chorus. This wonderful occurrence has created a truly intergenerational membership within the chorus that is mirrored in the make up of our audiences.  Never before have we had so many young people attending our season shows. And through the work of our it gets better tour, we are traveling to cities across the country, engaging in conversations about bullying while bridging the gaps that exist in those communities so they can work toward the shared goal of keeping their youth safe, alive and prospering.  

The chorus is in a great place and we continue to move upward with the new concerts this February and an expansion of our it gets better tour through California.  We’re truly changing hearts and minds in all corners of the world.  
Dr. Joseph Nadeau
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