Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interview with Jane Monheit

interview - end of September in preparation of her appearance October 10 at the Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills singing the jazz of Judy Garland...

New Interview 2014 with Vikki Carr

interview here - late September in preparation for her concert at the Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills on October 9

Monday, August 25, 2014

Interview with Playwright/Director Joanne Mosconi and Actor Blake Boyd

from Mosconi's new play You Love That I'm Not Your Wife set to open at the Avery Schreiber Playhouse in NoHo September 12, starring Blake Boyd.
interview here - September 3!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2014 Interview with Director Glenn Casale

Prolifically talented director Glenn Casale's pursuits in the LA theatre community are immeasurable and should not go unnoticed. He took time out from an ultra busy schedule to talk about his post as artistic director of Music Circus in Sacramento - which is presenting its last offering for the current season  La Cage Aux Folles this week through Sunday August 24 - and also about a production of Beauty and the Beast which will open soon in Russia.

How long have you been artistic director with Music Circus in Sacramento? 

Since 2009.  

Is it a challenge to direct musicals in the round? 

I have been directing here for 27 years. It is exciting to rediscover musicals in the round. It is a challenge, but a good one. 

More so than on a regular stage? 

It frees your creativity up. You are not bound by a proscenium arch.

Tell us about your production of Beauty and the Beast. 

I  have done Beauty and the Beast in 13 countries.  All of the productions are in the the language of the country. One is closing in Paris, and we are building a new one in Moscow in October. My Little Mermaid just closed there. It is also playing in Japan. Beauty had been to Moscow for a two year run in 2009-10.  They are bringing it back.

What is so special about Beauty and the Beast?Audiences just adore it. Is it because it appeals to the entire family, do you think?

It speaks to all generations. I think it is a passionate and timeless story. I feel it really speaks to today's audience. Like Les Mis, it is based on a great French Novel.  

Talk a little about Peter Pan, which you have directed...how long? 

Peter Pan was in my life for 15 years. It is also a story that we love to hear over and over. We all don't want to grow up. Cathy Rigby made the piece. She was a great actress and she became that boy.  

How did directing musicals become your line of work? Did you start as a dancer or actor/singer/dancer in musicals? 

I started as an actor. I wanted to be a TV actor when I moved to LA. I had an MFA in directing. A friend wrote a play and asked if I would direct it. Mark Harmon, George Clooney and Brian Cranston were actors in it.  

Do you have a favorite show of all those you have mounted?  

They all are special, but The Little Mermaid is one that I am very proud of.  

Are you directing plays as well or is it strictly musicals at this point?
  
I love plays....I did Prisoner of Second Avenue with Jason Alexander two years ago. It is hard with my Music Circus job.  

Tell us what else is on the horizon for the coming season anywhere 2014-2015

I have been working on a couple of new musicals that are being developed. I am doing Mary Poppins for La Mirada in May In the fall of 2015 we are putting The Little Mermaid out on tour. Right now we are planning next years season at Music Circus.

Boy oh boy, you sure are one busy director. Can you give a little preview of what may be on at Music Circus in 2015? I know you talked a little about La Cage last year...and voila, it's up next this season!  

We are looking at the survey now. The titles that people want are what we want to give them. Interesting titles....Some old favorites, a couple of new. We shall see.

Thanks for your time, Glenn.

Thank you for being such a support of the theater.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Broadway Under the Stars Interviews Obba Babatunde

Chris Isaacson Presents has announced a one-night-only concert event at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday, August 16 at 8pm. Broadway Under the Stars will star Tony Award-winner Jennifer Holliday (Dreamgirls) and will also feature (in alphabetical order) Obba Babatunde (Dreamgirls), Erich Bergen (Jersey Boys, stage and film), Rogelio Douglas, Jr. (In the Heights), Danny Gurwin (Little Women) and Tony Award-nominee Chad Kimball (Memphis). David Galligan will direct, and the music director is Gerald Sternbach.

Four of the male performers sat down to chat about their participation in this spectacular event and about some of their individual career highlights. They are Obba Babatunde, Danny Gurwin, Erich Bergen and Chad Kimball.

First up is Obba Babatunde.

Tony Award nominee Obba Babatunde has been set to host the evening. Obba Babatund√© created the role of C.C. White in Dreamgirls, for which he received a Tony Award nomination.  Other stage performances have included Hal Prince’s Grind, Billy Flynn in Chicago, as Sammy Davis, Jr. in the new musical Sammy, and the original production of Jelly’s Last Jam (playing the title role). On television, Babatund√© has appeared on Half & Half, NCIS, Cold Case, Are We There Yet?, Soul Food, Friends, and Love That Girl. His feature films include The Celestine Prophecy, Material Girls, After the Sunset, The Manchurian Candidate, The Notebook, John Q, That Thing You Do, and Philadelphia.



Are you performing in this event?

Well, I'm hosting as well as performing. I'll be doing three individual numbers. We open with "Magic To Do" from Pippin and I'm also going to do "Mr. Bojangles".

Oh, wonderful! You'll be great with that.

Thank you. Then I have something special that I'm going to surprise everyone with.

Great! Tell me about working with Jennifer Holliday in Dreamgirls.

Jennifer and I were part of the workshop that actually created the musical Dreamgirls. She was 19 years old when she came into the company. It was her...really first foray other than Your Arms Too Short to Box with God. She was just like my little sister. So we developed a beautiful and wonderful friendship.

Describe the changes that went on during that workshop.

A lot of changes! Jennifer left after the first workshop, which was six weeks. All of these characters were being built on us. We spent two more workshops trying to replace the essence of Jennifer Holliday, which was just not possible. Fortunately for us, and for her, I'm sure because of the success, she returned. The rest is history.

Wasn't one of her big numbers not in the show originally?

"I Am Changing". She had done "I Am Telling You..." in the first workshop. The second act changed drastically when Jennifer came back, because of Jennifer and her brilliant foresight. We couldn't replace the essence of that character...her character was left to die. And Jennifer said, "No I won't come back if my character dies." So, the whole second act took a different turn, and it was actually great for the production. That's what created the record war between Dena Jones and the Dreams and Essie White and C.C. White. It worked for the better.

You had a fabulous time with the whole run, correct?

Oh, it was a magnificent experience.

Tell me about your show on Sammy Davis Jr.

There are two shows. Once in a Lifetime is the show I created after I had done Sammy. Once in a Lifetime is my tribute to the great late Sammy Davis Jr. Sammy at the Old Globe (San Diego), a brilliant production...there's still hopes for it to have a new life. Getting a show to Broadway is a long journey.

What is the difference between the two musical shows?  

Sammy is a full-on musical with several cast members and Lifetime is a one-man show with just me. Sammy tells the story of Sammy's ongoing journey. The other is Obba Babatunde speaking of his personal relationship with Sammy Davis Jr, and paying tribute to him with the type of show that he would have done.

Any chance you may do Once in a Lifetime anytime soon here in LA?

Yes. I've done it now a couple of times to huge success. I'm going to be doing a promotion for Under the Stars with an excerpt from that on the 30th of July.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

You do not want to miss this spectacular evening of songs from the world of theatre!

Broadway Under the Stars is at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Boulevard East, in Hollywood, for one performance only on Saturday, August 16 at 8pm. Tickets are $40, $55, and $95; for students and children, tickets are $20. VIP packages are available (includes premium seating and a post-show reception with the artists). Purchase by August 2 and save $5! Discount tickets are available at FordTheatres.org or by calling 323-461-3673. To learn about discounts for groups of eight or more, call 323-769-2147.

A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit The Actors Fund, a national human services organization that helps everyone — performers and those behind the scenes — who works in performing arts and entertainment, serving more than 17,000 people annually. Programs include social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and employment and training services.  www.actorsfund.org.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Broadway Under the Stars Interviews Danny Gurwin

Chris Isaacson Presents has announced a one-night-only concert event at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday, August 16 at 8pm. Broadway Under the Stars will star Tony Award-winner Jennifer Holliday and will also feature (in alphabetical order) Erich Bergen (Jersey Boys, stage and film), Rogelio Douglas, Jr. (In the Heights), Danny Gurwin (Little Women) and Tony Award-nominee Chad Kimball (Memphis) David Galligan will direct, and the music director is Gerald Sternbach.

Danny Gurwin was among four of the performers who sat down to chat about his participation in this evening and about his 
career.

Gurwin’s Broadway credits include Little Women, Urinetown, The Full Monty, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Kismet, and A Little Night Music at the New York City Opera. He repeated his acclaimed performance in that production at the Los Angeles Opera and the Kennedy Center.  (www.dannygurwin.com




What are you singing in Broadway Under the Stars?

I'm going to do a medley of songs from Little Women, something that David (Galligan) wanted, and a song from Once and a one from Aladdin. So it's a combo of stuff I've done and then a couple of numbers from more recent Broadway shows. I may also do a song from Les Mis

Any plans for your wonderful cabaret show that you performed last November?

Because of my schedule with teaching at Arizona State and with John Randall's limited availability, it's been difficult to set anything up, but I'm looking at hopefully Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal next year.

What is your favorite show that you've done?

I loved doing The Scarlet Pimpernel, which was my Broadway debut. I loved the people and the whole process. I also really loved A New Brain. I stood by for Malcolm Gets. There's just something about being at Lincoln Center and watching Graciela Daniele work every day. As a young actor, it left such an impression on me... and it was a brand new Bill Finn show, so it was really amazing to be a part of it.

How does teaching and directing musical theatre full time at Arizona State work in with your career?

The school is very supportive of my professional work, which is nice. They're doing their best to let me travel when I need to and perform when I get to. It's been OK, and my agents have been amazing about stuff, so I will go in for big projects, and if something comes up, then I guess I'll deal with it then. It's a big balance, and I'm trying to move forward and still keep everything sort of in the air and move it along. So far so good. This kind of event is amazing to be a part of, and a week later I put my professor hat on again...

You seem excited about Broadway Under the Stars.

Gerry's (Sternbach) working really hard arranging. We're going to do a number with Obba Babatunde. I'm looking forward to working with both of them, Obba and Jennifer Holliday. I've watched them for years. It's really exciting.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Broadway Under the Stars is at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Boulevard East, in Hollywood, for one performance only on Saturday, August 16 at 8pm. Tickets are $40, $55, and $95; for students and children, tickets are $20. VIP packages are available (includes premium seating and a post-show reception with the artists). Purchase by August 2 and save $5! Discount tickets are available at FordTheatres.org or by calling 323-461-3673. To learn about discounts for groups of eight or more, call 323-769-2147.

A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit The Actors Fund, a national human services organization that helps everyone — performers and those behind the scenes — who works in performing arts and entertainment, serving more than 17,000 people annually. Programs include social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and employment and training services.  www.actorsfund.org.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Broadway Under the Stars Interviews Erich Bergen


Chris Isaacson Presents has announced a one-night-only concert event at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre on Saturday, August 16 at 8pm. Broadway Under the Stars will star Tony Award-winner Jennifer Holliday (Dreamgirls) and will also feature (in alphabetical order) Obba Babatunde (Dreamgirls), Erich Bergen (Jersey Boys, stage and film), Rogelio Douglas, Jr. (In the Heights), Danny Gurwin (Little Women) and Tony Award-nominee Chad Kimball (Memphis). David Galligan will direct, and the music director is Gerald Sternbach.

Erich Bergen took time out from his busy filming schedule in New York to chat about his appearance in Broadway Under the Stars and about his career.

Erich Bergen is best known for his stage portrayal of Bob Gaudio in Jersey Boys, a role he played in  San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and in the First National Tour. Bergen was tapped by director Clint Eastwood to reprise his performance in the Warner Bros feature film, which opened in June. (www.ErichBergen.com)  

First of all, congratulations on the film of Jersey Boys! The camera loves you and you were quite funny.

I appreciate that. Thank you.

What are you doing in Broadway Under the Stars?

What we're putting together is sort of a history of musical movies and my connections to them, ending with my experience in a musical movie. Musical films were very influential on me growing up, so we decided to take a look at and sort of make a path through them, looking at the MGM stuff...and also talking about them on stage, I got to do Anything Goes and White Christmas in LA, so we're going to take a look at those productions as well, and go back and do a couple of songs from those as well, and end with Jersey Boys stuff.

It sounds like quite a lengthy number.

Yeah, about a 20 minute set. It's hard because I'm in New York, so they're sort of putting the show together without me and then I'm coming in and doing my thing. I've been rehearsing over scype with everyone.

Have you ever worked with Jennifer Holliday?

No. I've seen her in concert many times. She's fabulous. I saw her in Vegas where she was the guest entertainer in the George Wallace Show. It's always been a thrill, and now I get the chance to work with her.

How did you adapt your stage performance to film? Was it challenging?

I think what was so great was that Clint (Eastwood)...one of the reasons that he hired people from the show was...he always said "You can't beat having 1200. 1500 performances with the role. You can't beat that kind of rehearsal. No one would be able to do it better." He wanted us to continue to do the work that we did onstage in terms of our characters. He didn't want us to rethink it. If you're a smart, in-tune actor, there are some differences that occur naturally when you're working with the camera right in your face. We were saying the same lines; so much of the script was the same.

That's what I liked about the film. He kept it very close to the show.

Exactly. And that was the thing that it was so odd for me to be thinking about certain scenes like in the bowling alley. Onstage it was a piece of plywood that came down from the rafters. You had to pretend it was a bowling alley. We're doing the same scene, the same lines and we're inside of a real bowling alley in Pasadena. There were times when you had to remind yourself, "Oh my God, I'm actually doing this." He was really adamant that we do what it is that we had always done and what he liked about us when he first saw us. The experience was a thrill. Looking back on it all now, it's just wild for me that it even happened.

Would you now say that Jersey Boys is the favorite show that you've done?

It's a show that's been very good to me. Before I was involved in Jersey Boys, I saw the show. I thought it was one of the greatest pieces of live entertainment ever. It is crafted so brilliantly. For that reason, I love it. I love it not because I'm in it; I just love the show. Becoming a part of it is something I have to keep reminding myself of. I'm still and always will be just a fan of it.

Tell me about the TV show you're doing in New York.

I'm filming a new show in New York called Madame Secretary. It stars Tea Leoni, Bebe Neuwirth, Patina Miller, who the Tony for Pippin, Keith Carradine, Tim Daly...great cast.

Do you have a funny part?

I do. It's a one-hour dramatic show, but I'm sort of the comedy of the show. It's beautifully written. it reminds me a lot of The West Wing, and shows like that. We're having a blast. We're just finishing up Episode 3 right now.

I'm so happy for all your success, and I'll look forward to the show on the 16th.

Thanks, Don.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

You do not want to miss this spectacular evening of songs from the world of theatre!

Broadway Under the Stars is at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Boulevard East, in Hollywood, for one performance only on Saturday, August 16 at 8pm. Tickets are $40, $55, and $95; for students and children, tickets are $20. VIP packages are available (includes premium seating and a post-show reception with the artists). Purchase by August 2 and save $5! Discount tickets are available at FordTheatres.org or by calling 323-461-3673. To learn about discounts for groups of eight or more, call 323-769-2147.

A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit The Actors Fund, a national human services organization that helps everyone — performers and those behind the scenes — who works in performing arts and entertainment, serving more than 17,000 people annually. Programs include social services and emergency financial assistance, health care and insurance counseling, housing, and employment and training services.  www.actorsfund.org.