Wednesday, June 10, 2015

2015 Interview with Amy Madigan

Actress Amy Madigan will direct Neil Koenigsberg's play Off the King's Road later this month at the Odyssey Theatre in West LA. A production of the play in New York last season was critically acclaimed, which included a New York Times critic's pick. In our conversation Madigan talks about the play, her cast and her association with the playwright. 


Tell me about your relationship to Neil Koenigsberg. I understand it's a long and fruitful one.

Neil and I have known each other for over 20 years. He was my personal manager and we both share a vivid interest in novels and theater, so we share that conversation a lot. He is a true friend and we have shared a lot over the years culminating with Off The King's Road. 

Describe Off the King's Road and the message it conveys.


Off The King's Road is really a play about love and connecting to who one is in the moment. There is pain and loss with our main character, Matt. But through a series of substitutions for his grief he finally moves on. I think it is a feeling in the gut when you react to the play. 
Neil Koenigsberg


What challenges are you facing as director of the play? Is this your first direction? If not, what other plays have you directed?


I have directed at the MET Theatre in Los Angeles in the past and have been a moderator in classes, but this is my first show at the Odyssey. I come from the acting side of things which finally is collaboration, so I felt comfortable taking this on and I have a crack team of designers, thank god, cuz I know what I like and want in my head, but need others’expression to help me. 

Tell us a little about Tom Bower and the role he is playing.


Tom Bower and I have known each other for about 30 years through Equity waiver theater and acting workshops. He was always my first choice for Matt, and he graciously accepted. It is a tough part – one that requires a confidence in self so we can see what this character needs to go though to get to the end of the play. Matt is onstage most of the play, and it is not an easy one. I cannot say enough about Tom as a consummate actor and friend. We also worked at Sundance together in the mid ‘80s when it was first getting started!!!! 

Tell us about the rest of the cast.

The rest of the cast is amazing. I auditioned a lot of people, and these other four — Casey Kramer, Thaddeus Shafer, Michael Uribes and Maria Zyrianova — are outstanding. Totally cool people and on top of their game, and they made rehearsal a blast and are the beating heart of this show. A real ensemble cast and tons of theater between them. 

I understand you and Ed (husband Ed Harris) will be returning next winter to New York to star in Buried Child. How exciting! Have you played Sam Shepard before? What do you feel makes him such a revered and electric playwright?


Ed and I will return for the first time Buried Child will be done in twenty years, with Scott Elliot directing and with The New Group.It's very exciting. I did the LA production of Lie of the Mind at the Taper downtown. He is the man who writes about family and rips it to shreds, with your heart going along...

Who are your all-time favorite playwrights? Talk a little about why you chose those particular writers.

I love Beth Henley, Tennessee Williams, Mr. Chekhov, Eduardo Machado, Mr. Shepard, Sarah Kane, Jane Shepard, Martin McDonough...and more. So many brilliant minds out there.

Be sure to catch Amy Madigan's direction of Neil Koenigsberg's Off the King's Road playing at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 Sepulveda Blvd. Previews: June 19-June 26/Performances: June 27- August 2. Plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. For tix, call: (323) 960-7712 or visit: www.plays411.com/kingsroad 


Friday, May 29, 2015

2015 Interview with Patty McCormack

Actress Patty McCormack surely needs no introduction. An Oscar and Golden Globe nominee for 1956's The Bad Seed, she has worked on stage, in film and on television to great acclaim for over 60 years. Now she is onstage once more in a hilarious world premiere dark comedy Miserable with an Ocean View playing Saturdays only at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. She recently sat down to chat about the play and about highlights of her long career.

Miserable with an Ocean View sounds very funny and your role as the mother from hell seems different for you as you have no dialogue. Talk about this and your other challenges in playing her.
The fact that I have no dialogue, in addition to being the Mother from hell, combines two of my favorite childhood roles. No dialogue as Helen Keller in the playhouse 90 production of Miracle Worker and child from hell, Rhoda Penmark in Bad Seed! The challenge in this role was how to make Rhoda Shapiro as real as possible, while fulfilling her reputation!! I figured, being a Mother myself, that she couldn’t be all bad! And I have one moment , I believe, that shows that. The other scenes are so much fun being so incredibly  “miserable."
How did you get involved in the project? Did you like the script from the start?
Howie (Skora) developed the play at Bobby Moresco’s Actor’s Gym, and although I wasn’t around for that stretch of time, I have been a member for some time.
As the play was getting cast, Bobby recommended me to Howie, and that started everything.  After some phone calls, and loving what he wrote, I was sure that it was the perfect time to break the long spell of not being on stage. The feeling of fear which becomes greater the longer you are away, began to subside, and I remembered the joy I had always experienced in front of a live audience.

Everyone remembers you from The Bad Seed. Talk briefly about that experience and what it was like as a young child to work in that company of actors.
I think of the time doing Bad Seed as a very happy childhood memory. I remember learning the thrill of causing a reaction from an audience! And learning how to “keep it in” because it worked. I had the privilege of working alongside actors who were veterans of theatre, and I learned so much by osmosis.  

I remember you as well from TV's I Remember Mama, the series. What kind of experience was that? Are the memories fond ones?
I began I Remember Mama before getting Bad Seed, and like most TV back then, it was “live” when I was on it, and much like doing theatre. I worked with Dick Van Patten, who was the most fun on the set. He really liked kids and so he brought a sort of normalcy to me and Kevin Coughlin, who was the young boy on the show.
Kevin and I made a “club” house in the empty rehearsal hall, attached to our main one at Grand Central Station where we rehearsed, and it was a great place to play, when we weren’t needed.
My Nephew, Fred Cerullo, is now the President and CEO of the Grand Central Partnership. He runs that Business Improvement District in NY. 

          
Talk a little about your soap experiences and other TV work. Do you have a favorite show?
I know that my first experience on a soap was when I just turned 7. You weren’t allowed to work on television until you were 7. I can’t remember the  name of it because it is so long ago, and I think missing from Imdb. The others are Young Doctor Malone,The Best of Everything, and As The World Turns. My most vivid memories were from The Best of Everything because I was carrying my Daughter Danielle all through the run, and met my “Best friend” in life! Julie Von Zerneck, who worked as Julie Mannix at that time. We were working with Gale Sondergaard, who won the first Best Supporting actress award, and Geraldine Fitzgerald! 

         
         
WITH PETER FONDA IN 1962 THE NEW BREED






















Tell us something funny that happened - any unexpected or embarrassing moments?
I am going back in time to remember one of my favorite shows to do, which was Playhouse 90. I did 5 of them, and the embarrassing moment occurred during the one in which I was perched on a piano, singing “Oh, My Man” in French, with Lee J. Cobb, accompanying on the piano, and a room filled with “party guests." I didn’t speak French, so I learned it phonetically. Did it perfectly, all through rehearsals and dress, but when we went live, I went blank! All the actors in the room, including Mr. Cobb, began La-la-ing, and saved the day! But I was horrified and so embarrassed!!! That had never happened to me before!

     
I loved you as Sister Woman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Taper. Is that production a fond memory? How? If not, why?
Any one who has had the good fortune to work with Jose Quintero will tell you what an incredible experience it was. It was a highlight for me!

         
         
cat on a hot tin roof 1983
Is there a favorite stage role that you have played? Why that particular one?
I think that I had the most fun being “cookie” in Rumors, because I was directed by Avery Schreiber and we played at a theatre in Jupiter, Florida.
We had so many good times during rehearsals because of Avery and his wonderful sense of the absurd, and also fun because I had already played a different role in the same play, previously! It made it very interesting to see the story through a different character’s eyes.

Is there a role you yearn to play? Which one and why that particular role?
I don’t have an answer, but when I do, I will tell you!  

Did you find being a popular child actor and then having work decline as you got older depressing? What is it like for child actors when work on stage or in front of the camera is scarce? Is there adequate support for child actors in Hollywood?
I can remember early on wondering why there were gaps in my working and that was before changes began to be visible, so I always questioned not working more! I am still doing it! I think that today with people more awake to those issues, and the organization that Paul Peterson began, has helped so many former kid actors transition into adult actors,
or in some cases, different careers altogether. 



Tell me about the cast you are working with in Miserable and your director.
I love each and every one. It feels like we are on active duty together, and we all have each other’s backs . Please list: Elizabeth (Regen), Paul (Elia), Alex (Skuby) and Drew (Droege), and lastly and most importantly, Jim (Fall) our leader through it all! We are truly a company, and I am so happy to be a part of it.

Anything you care to add?
I am so glad that in my 70th year, I can still work at what I will always love, with such talented people, while also enjoying the other aspects of my life. Being a Grandma changes everything! (ask any Grandma or Grandpa!) So, this time of life is the best yet, and I am very grateful to be around to enjoy it! 
     
Don't miss the resilient Patty McCormack in Miserable with an Ocean View every Saturday through July 18 at the Whitefire Theatre!

www.miserablewithanoceanview.com

Monday, May 25, 2015

2015 Interview with Emrhys Cooper

Actor and Broadway World Award Winner Emrhys Cooper 
recently sat down to talk about three major accomplishments
 in TV and film as we approach the midway mark of 2015. 
He won his BWW Award in the category of Person to Keep 
Your Eye On, and he is most assuredly living up to it.
















Tell me about the series you are 
involved in.
It's called Vanity and stars 
Denise Richards. 
StyleHaul, the digital multichannel 
network that focuses on fashion
and beauty has formed 
a collaboration with Amazon. Vanity
is its very first scripted series, so it's 
all terribly exciting.
Who do you play in the series?
I play Alistair, the lead male. Alistair 
is very charming, and helps run the 
fashion line named
Vanity.

What about a little behind the scenes info 

on the series? Who's involved besides star
Denise Richards and who conceived it?

It was created by Emmy Award-winner Bernie Su. 
Maybelline is the sponsor.It's based on a true story. 
Instagram inspired a couple of New York City kids 
to create a fashion line. So, it's a very hip and up.to.date
look at today's world of fashion.
Great! When does it premiere?
It will debut on youtube June 11.

And the film you did in Butan Kushuthara is 
about to make its premiere 
this summer, correct?
Yes. Thanks for bringing that up. I am so excited 
about this project, not only because I am the first 
Western actor to appear in a film there, but I was 
recently awarded Best Lead Actor by the IndieFest 
Film Festival. So, it is all  so gratifying, and this is 
even before the film goes into distribution worldwide. 
I'm over the moon about it.































There is also a short film in which you play the lead 
that is about to play the Cannes Film Festival?


Yes, the action thriller Shadow May Lie made the official selection
and just played the Cannes Film Festival.

Congratulations to Emrhys Cooper! I can't wait to see what's up 

next for this versatile, award-winning actor.
on set of Vanity with star Denise Richards

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2015 Interview - Brett Ryback




Actor Brett Ryback, no stranger to LA stages, will recreate the role he originated in New York in Murder for Two at the Geffen Playhouse opening June 3. In our chat he talks about his part in the show and other theatrical favorites.


Explain briefly about the musical. 

Murder for Two is a two person murder mystery, where one guy plays the wanna-be detective, and the other guy plays all the suspects, and the both play the piano.

How did it get started? If I remember correctly, you first started off-Broadway, ran a while and then returned after a brief absence due to overwhelming popularity?

That’s correct. We began at Second Stage Uptown, had an extended, sold-out run, and then transferred after a brief hiatus to New World Stages for a commercial run. All told, the show ran about a year in New York, before hitting the road in a tour.

How many characters do you get to play?

I, thankfully, must only inhabit one character – Marcus, the ambitious young cop.

What style of music is utilized in the show?

It’s mostly a mix of old cabaret/vaudeville style songs, with extremely clever lyrics, and tuneful melodies. But there are couple little nuggets of other styles as well.

Talk about your co-star, your director and the writers/composers.


Jeff Blumenkrantz is a crazy genius. He’s a genius because of all the amazing work he’s done to carve out each and every character he plays so that you really believe you’re watching 13 different people on stage. And he’s crazy, because anyone would have to be a little crazy to do what he does. Scott Schwartz did a wonderful job of orchestrating a very carefully crafted play to look completely spontaneous and chaotic. He also added layers of theatricality and comedy that allows the audience to feel in on the whole joke. Our writers Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair are two of the most unique and gifted young writers currently working. I jived completely with their love for slapstick and word-play. And their ability to craft a smart, hilarious, and completely unexpected song is truly one-of-a-kind.

What is the most favorite role you have played to date? Why?

My most favorite role to date would probably be playing Scripps in the Ahmanson’s production of The History Boys. The role was fantastic, and well-suited for me, but more than that I think it was the production that I loved. It was the first major regional show I did in Los Angeles, and the cast of boys were all up-and-coming in our own way, so there was a lot of camaraderie. The play is a gorgeously written play about growing up, finding out who you are, who you’ll be. We had a fabulous director, and incomparable cast. And to play the Ahmanson theatre night after night is truly an actor’s gift. It was an experience I will never forget and will always cherish.


Who is your favorite composer of all time? Why?

This is a tough one to answer. I love so many composers for so many different reasons. Are we talking musical theatre? Are we talking classical? Are we talking pop/rock? If it’s musical theatre, I think I’ll have to go with the old stand-by Stephen Sondheim. It’s cliché at this point, of course, but he had a profound effect on me as a young writer growing up. His use of texture, motif, and color was like nothing I’d ever heard before.

Is there a mentor or one person who has stimulated you more than any other in your career choices?

There are many. If I had to choose one person it would be a man named Ray Jivoff. He is the education director at the Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee, WI. I knew him as an acting colleague, a director, an educator, a boss. He gave me my first job as a composer. He taught me how to collaborate, and to create shows from nothing. He was the first person to see something greater in me than even I saw in myself. And surprisingly, he’s done this for other people, too! He’s a cherished part of Milwaukee theatre, and I will always be forever grateful to him.

Do you prefer musicals to drama, or both equally? Why?

Equally. They are different styles. It’s like doing a Neil Simon play or a Shakespeare play. Musicals, I feel, are tougher than dramas. Dramas look a little closer to real life than musicals do and so musicals take a little extra care and thought to let the audience in. But what would life be with out variety?

Anything you care to add?

Jeff and I often want to share – for people who know nothing about Murder for Two – that while it is a vaudeville style, murder mystery comedy, what most people leave with is the sense of what’s possible with two actors, one set, and minimal props. It is, almost more than anything else, a love letter to the theatre. 


Murder for Two plays May 26 – July 5 at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Westwood. For tickets, visit: www.geffenplayhouse.com or call: 310.208.5454.




Thursday, May 14, 2015

2015 Interview - Kay Cole



Kay Cole is known for her award-winning work as an actor/dancer/singer in the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line, which garnered the Tony, Pulitzer Prize, Drama Desk, and Theatre World awards –among others.  Other credits include:  director/choreographer: 22%, Love Songs, Spelling Bee, Rose Bowl Queens, Bark! No Strings, Desperate Writers (Off-B’way/LA), Flunky, The Dining Room, Nuncrackers, Judy’s Scary Little Christmas, Frog & Toad, A Chorus Line, choreographer: Hunger, Nightmare Alley, Atlanta, Great Expectations, Triumph of Love, Dancing at Lughnasa. Pasadena Playhouse: 110 in the Shade, Do I Hear A Waltz. Hollywood Bowl: Mame, Bernstein’s Mass, My Fair Lady, Music Man, Camelot, Reprise!, Three Penny Opera, City of Angels, Company, 20th Century, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Most Happy Fella. Other Los Angeles: Atlanta, Paint Your Wagon (Geffen); Grave White Way (Hudson Theatre); Dogeaters, Gaytino (Kirk Douglas Theatre); Six Dance Lessons (Falcon, Geffen, B’way); Snoopy, Blockheads (London West End). Film/TV: Country Rules, Santa Clause 3, Six Dance Lessons…  Website: www.kaycole.net

She is currently directing Group rep’s production of a new musical Love Again, book by Doug Haverty, music by Adryan Russ, and lyrics by Russ and Haverty..  With its stories unfolding everywhere from the Louvre to a hospital room, this trio of contemporary mini-musicals places each of its characters in challenging situations, adding up to one sure-to-be-entertaining world-premiere production.  

by Steve Peterson

When did you first get interested in performing – what spurred you on?

It was a play.  I was six years old and taking ballet class, when a director who was taking his daughter to class asked my mom if I would audition for his play.  I did and got the role in Me Candido.  It was a lead role and I was the only child. I started the show with a monologue. I knew this is where I wanted to be, even at six.  It felt like I was home.

How did your involvement with the original production of A Chorus Line come about?

I auditioned for the show because director Michael Bennett asked me to after seeing me in Sammy Cahn’s Words and Music on Broadway.

You recently attended the 40th Anniversary of A Chorus Line in New York City.   Tell us a little about the celebration.   

It was an absolutely amazing three days and nights of being celebrated by the brilliant Hamilton company and The Public Theatre.  To be honored in that way happens once in a lifetime if you’re lucky. There is a permanent plaque at the Newman Theatre honoring A Chorus Line and all of the original cast members.

When did you make the transition from performer to director, and how did that opportunity come about?

It happened naturally.  I transitioned by being a choreographer first, then wanting to expand my vision I began directing.  I have always loved plays and the language of theatre.  I was also with the Los Angeles Repertory Company for many years and had the opportunity to stretch my skills as an actress and director.
  
Have you had a mentor or mentors who have encouraged in some way or had an effect on you in some way?
So many people along the way…their care and guidance and love have always surrounded my artist’s spirit. But Tom O’Horgan was the director I felt molded my director's eye. I worked with Tom O’Horgan in Hair in Los Angeles at the Aquarius Theatre, and in New York on Broadway; and Jesus Christ Superstar in New York on Broadway (original company) and several shows at La Mama in New York.  Working with Tom on many shows taught me the value of risk and trusting your instincts.

Besides being a triple threat performer (actor/dancer/singer) and director, you have also written for the stage.   Can you tell us something about your writing?

It has been a secret dream of mine to be a writer.  That is where it all begins.  So being able to express your deepest feelings by creating on the blank page is a gift. I have always written poetry and children’s stories.  I had my first screenplay written with Brent Beerman optioned this year, and a play I wrote with partners Mark Salyer and Kirsten Moomey is scheduled to be produced next year. 
Do you have a favorite play or musical that you were in or directed (please include why it is a favorite)?

I adored directing The Dining Room, a play by A.R. Gurney, at the Victory Theatre in Burbank.  It was a great production with an amazing cast and the play spoke to my heart.

What were some other favorite theatre experiences as a performer, director and choreographer?

My favorite performance……..when I portrayed Madame Thenardier opposite Gary Beach in Les Miserables at the Shubert Theatre in Century City. Favorite show I have directed #2….No Strings…for Reprise starring Scott Bakula. Favorite choreography….Assassins at LATC in downtown LA……Favorite experience #1….choreographing the film of Six Dance Lessons... in Budapest for 3 months. Favorite experience #2 … choreographing Snoopy on London’s West End…..I adore London…I am anxious to get back.

What’s special about this new musical Love Again?

It is a sweetheart of a musical like The Apple Tree – 3 plays in one celebrating love.

What’s up next for you?

I am directing a web series that I am also producing with my producing partner Myrl Schreibman.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention about you or the production of Love Again?

Just to thank GRT, Doug Haverty, Adryan Russ, and all the wonderful collaborators and actors who have made Love Again a beautiful production. 

Love Again plays May 15 – June 28.  Fridays & Saturdays 8PMSunday Matinees 2PMAges 13+Admission: $25Buy Tickets/Info:  www.thegrouprep.com or (818) 763-5990.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

2015 Interview/news - The Pink Lady

Jackie Goldberg is preparing to launch her Senior Star Search, a contest for talented senior performers in LA. There will be auditions later in May for a contest that will be held downtown in July. Winners will receive prizes including new headshots and chances to appear on local stages.


Jackie Goldberg, The Pink Lady
Actress/producer/motivational speaker/champion of senior causes Jackie Goldberg, known more popularly as the Pink Lady and ‘Pink’ to her friends, has come up with yet another fantastic idea to help promote a permanent senior entertainment theatre company in greater Los Angeles. The event is appropriately entitled Senior Star Search, a senior competition that will be held on Sunday July 12 at the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre at Barnsdall Park, Hollywood. Co-producing the event will be actress/singer/humanitarian Barbara Van Orden, known for her exciting Las Vegas night club act as well as being sponsor/co-executive producer of LA’s Next Great Stage Star held annually at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal in North Hollywood. Goldberg and Van Orden as co-producers of Senior Star Search wish to bring more active, motivated seniors into local live entertainment. They are hopeful that more than 200 interested entertainers 55 or older will come forth to audition for the event on May 23rd and 24th.


Barbara VanOrden
According to the recent Census Bureau report, there are now more Americans age 55 and older than at any other time in U.S. history. Exceeding 55 million nationwide, they are more active than ever and the industry of entertainment has come to realize their value in the consumer market, as celebrated names such as Betty White (93), Carol Channing (94), Tony Bennett(88), Angela Lansbury (89), Theodore Bikel (91) and even Patricia Morison (100) are still appearing, by popular demand, center stage, in film and on television with an ever growing fan base.

With names such as Cloris Leachman (89), Florence Henderson (81) and Valerie Harper (75) stealing the show on programs such as Dancing With The Stars, and Dori Berinstein's musical Gotta Dance, featuring performers over 55 headed to Broadway, the idea of creating a Senior Star Search seems right on schedule. 

May is Older Americans Month, so what better time to hold auditions for the event? They will be held May 23rd and 24th and are by appointment only (see info below).

The final competition on July 12 will have an illustrious panel of judges including director/choreographer Michael Kelly; celebrated director David Galligan and Academy Award winning triple threat actor/singer/dancer George Chakiris.

Among the celebrated members of the entertainment community voicing support are Debbie Reynolds, Kirk Douglas and Carol Channing. Channing says it best:

"Growing up in the Church of Christian Science, age was never an important
factor to me ... However, apparently it is to the rest of the world.  It's nice to know there are others in this world like Pink and Barbara who encourage us to celebrate the contributions that seniors bring to society."

Senior Star Search will encompass singers, dancers, comedians and variety acts and those participating must be 55 years young and over. Winners of the contest on July 12 will receive monetary awards, performance opportunities, professional headshots, access to entertainment workshops and overall publicity and industry exposure.

Call 818-400-2701 today for your audition on Saturday May 23 or Sunday May 24! Or e-mail pinklady7@earthlink.net Remember seniors, 

THE SPOTLIGHT IS ON YOU!