Saturday, June 24, 2017

2017 Interview with BeBe Winans

Benjamin, "BeBe" Winans, six-time Grammy Award winner, is the seventh child and youngest male of the the Detroit based first family of gospel music. BeBe is known as an inspirational, R&B, and popular vocalist, songwriter, and producer as well as an Executive Music Producer for the OWN Network’s latest scripted series, “Greenleaf”; host of his own radio show on the Heart & Soul Channel (68) on Sirius/XM Radio Networks on Sunday Mornings (9am ET/7am PT); renowned as the breakthrough artist to bridge the language of his roots in the church with a chart-topping, Award-winning career spanning audiences universally throughout all genres; author; Actor in motion pictures including friend Denzel Washington’s,‘The Manchurian Candidate’; and star of productions like Broadway’s Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple with Chaka Khan amongst his credits. Teaming with his younger sister, Priscilla “CeCe”, the duo first began crossing lines as “adopted children” of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker on the PTL television show. Their first tour, on which Whitney Houston proclaimed herself their “sister” and sang background for the siblings, set the tone for a very special career. 

For an artist with his message and core based in the church and its word, BeBe Winans has faced an exciting and unique career which in 2017, comes to life as a musical of his life, co-written and Directed by Motown:The Musical Director, Charles Randolph-Wright with book, music and lyrics by BeBe -- Born For This: The BeBe Winans Story. It will open at the Broad in Santa Monica July 11. Born For This:The BeBe Winans Story is populated with original music and Winans’ family hits. CeCe is played by niece, Deborah Joy Winans, who is currently filming "Greenleaf," the OWN Original TV series. Nephew, Juan Winans, portrays BeBe. BeBe sat down during his busy schedule and talked briefly with us about the show and his illustrious career.


Talk about PTL and how it changed the lives of both you and CeCe.  

PTL was the place where CeCe and I became independent…far away from our family, friends and what we knew as security. And where we became a duet.

This inspired the musical Born For This. How long did it take to write the musical? How long did it take to finally get it produced? 

Born for This has been a ten year journey and honestly it's still being written. Or should I say still evolving.

It really is a family celebration, as your niece and nephew are playing you and CeCe in the show. How did this decision come about?  

Well, my niece Deborah Joy was always destined to be an actress from birth and we fueled her passion. And after she graduated with her degree in theater it happened to be the same time Charles (Randolph-Wright) and I started building a cast for discovering this piece, a perfect storm and then Juan came a little later in the process.

Is the Broad the very first public presentation of the show? Are you planning a tour with the hope of ending up on Broadway?  


The Broad is the third presenting house. We opened in 2016 in Atlanta first at the Alliance and then in D.C. At the Arena Stage. As we march to Broadway!!!!

I love the universality of 'never giving up' and young people today really need this kind of inspiration. How do you feel about the changes in music over the years? Are you happy with new music today or do you look to the past to your gospel roots to get that good musical feeling?  

It is in so important to me to always encourage young artists to dream God's dream for their lives and although the styles have changed the messages are still most important.


Talk about Metro World Child and your involvement in it. 


Metro Child is an awesome organization that brings hope to children who are often forgotten. So I'm proud to shine the spotlight on them.



What:        Born for This

Where:        The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage
                     1310 11th St. Santa Monica. Limited free parking is available.
When:        July 11 – August 6, 2017
                      Press Opening: July 20 at 7:30pm
                      Tuesday – Friday at 7:30pm;
Saturday – Sunday at 2:00pm and 7:30pm

Tickets
Online:       www.thebroadstage.com
Phone:       Patron Services at 310.434.3200

In Person: Box office at 1310 11th St. Santa Monica, beginning three hours prior to performance.

(production photo credit: Greg Mooney)

Monday, June 19, 2017

2017 Interview with Bruce Kimmel

Bruce Kimmel wrote, directed and starred in the cult movie hit, “The First Nudie Musical.”  He also co-created the story for the hit film, “The Faculty,” directed by Robert Rodriguez.  As an actor, Mr. Kimmel guest-starred on most of the long-running television shows of the 1970s.    Mr. Kimmel is a legendary Grammy-nominated producer of theatre music on CD, having produced over 180 albums. Most recently he has directed the shows L.A. Now and Then, Hit Song, The Musical, Welcome to My World, Li’l Abner, and Inside Out.  Mr. Kimmel is the author of seventeen books, many musicals, and is an award-winning songwriter. Bruce Kimmel serves as director on the Group Rep’s upcoming production of Frederick Knott’s mystery thriller Dial “M” for Murder which opens on the Main Stage, June 30th, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood at the edge of the NoHo Arts District. 

Written by Steve Peterson

When and how did you first get bit by the theater bug?

I always wanted to be an actor, as far back as I can remember.  When I was twelve I began going to the theater – just went off on my own and saw the matinee of Paddy Chayefsky’s The Tenth Man at the Huntington Hartford Theater here in LA – I’m a native.  That began it all – it was magical and I went to see just about every tour that played there – wonderful plays with wonderful actors.  My first musical was the tour of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which played the old Biltmore Theater downtown with its original stars, Tammy Grimes and Harve Presnell.  That, of course, changed my life.

When did you start directing and which project drew your attention?

I always enjoyed being in charge, even when I was a kid.  I put on shows for our Monday night family dinners – I was the star, the director, the writer – kind of my own version of “The Ed Sullivan Show.”  I directed stuff when I was a teen – a musical revue we had the chutzpah to produce, and a production of Jan de Hartog’s The Fourposter – I’m sure they were dreadful.  In college (Los Angeles City College) I directed some shows I wrote in their small upstairs theater.  From then on, I directed pretty regularly in LA, but mostly my own musicals. 

Did you have any mentors along the way?

I don’t know that I’d call them mentors, but I was like a sponge when I was an actor – if the director was good I would watch how he/she did what they did and learned from it.  But from an early age I learned by watching the master directors of my generation – folks like Mike Nichols, Gower Champion, Bob Fosse, Alan Schneider – I watched how they’d pace shows, how they’d make everything seamless, and I just sopped it all up.

You’re very involved in the writing, directing and producing of musicals and plays.   A parent doesn’t usually admit to a ‘favorite child’…do you have a project past or present that might be your favorite (or are most proud of)?

I do love musicals.  Of my own shows, I’m fond of The Brain from Planet X and Stages.  Of traditional musicals I’ve directed, nothing tickled me more than doing one of my bucket list shows, Li’l Abner – I had my way with it and the audiences and critics loved it, which was the icing on the cake.  And I did enjoy doing Doug Haverty and Adryan Russ’s Inside Out, because it was a real challenge – and Doug is, of course, how I got to know Group Rep.

What was the genesis of the monthly concert series Kritzerland and who might enjoy the event?

Back in 1993 I made a life change and became a record producer – I found a lot of success right away doing that – two Grammy nominations in my first year and producing over 180 albums so far.  Back in 2010 I thought it would be fun to do a cabaret series based on the albums I’d done.  That was the genesis.  So, we began doing it once a month and much to my surprise it was kind of wildly successful – we came up with a formula people loved and here we are just about to have our seventh anniversary and our 80th show – the longest-running cabaret show in LA history. 

How did directing this production of DIAL “M” FOR MURDER come about?

Larry Eisenberg came to see my production of Inside Out and really liked it.  At some point we began to talk about me directing something for the Group Rep – I’ve seen a lot of the shows there and always enjoy them.  He finally asked me what play I’d like to do – I thought about it for about a minute and said Dial ‘M’ for Murder.  He asked why, naturally.  I said, “Because it’s on old-fashioned talking play with a great murder scene and it reminds me of all the plays I loved when I was growing up.”

What intrigues you about the mystery thriller genre (as it relates to the stage)?

I love the genre, always have.  In days of old, I especially loved what I called the civilized thriller, of which Dial ‘M’ for Murder is the classic example – all those lovely people having sophisticated conversation, drinking cocktails, all the while underneath the surface plotting such deliciously devious things.  I also loved Mr. Knott’s Wait Until Dark and then of course Sleuth and Deathtrap are masterpieces.  It’s very hard to pull off, but when it’s done well, there’s nothing quite like it.  Back in 2007 I wrote my one and only mystery thriller play (I’ve written many mystery novels), called Deceit, which had a nice run at the El Portal Theatre.

Tell us a bit about the play.

First done in London in the early 1950s, then on Broadway and, of course, turned into a wonderful film by director Alfred Hitchcock – originally shot in 3-D but never shown that way back then, although it has been several times since.  Our production, by the way, will be in 3-D.  I could tell you about the play but then I’d have to kill you.  That’s how it is with mystery thrillers – part of the fun is not knowing too much. 

Is there something you want audience members to experience having seen the production?

I’m hoping it will be fun for audiences to travel back to the 1950s when people in plays dressed well, spoke well, and occasionally murdered people in clever ways.  I hope it will be fun to revisit a really well built play and revel in the kind of dialogue no one really knows how to write anymore.

Is there anything about you or the production that you want us to know or wish we had asked?

I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.  All you need to know about me is that I am blessed to be able to do what I love, whether it be directing an old-fashioned and delightful thriller, directing a musical, whether old or new, writing a novel, doing a cabaret evening, and producing CDs.


The Group Rep’s production of Frederick Knott’s Dial “M” for Murder directed by Bruce Kimmel, produced by Mannette Antill and LizAnne Keigley, runs Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sundays at 2:00 pm. June 30 – August 19. Tickets: $25. Students/Seniors with ID: $20. Groups 10+: $15. For tickets: www.thegrouprep.com or info@thegrouprep.com. Reservations Line: (818) 763-5990. Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood 91601.


Friday, May 5, 2017

2017 Interview with Patrick Page

Actor PATRICK PAGE has been dazzling Broadway and regional theatre audiences for many years playing original roles in The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Spider Man, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame among many others. He has also had an extensive career playing Shakespeare. Now at the Mark Taper Forum, he has just opened in a world premiere play entitled ARCHDUKE about the events leading up to WWI. In our talk he shares his feelings about the play and proclaims his favorite role to date.

Patrick, tell us a little about your role in Archduke and the challenges of playing him.

MY ROLE IS CAPTAIN DRAGUTIN DIMITRIJEVIC. HE WAS THE LEADER OF THE “BLACK HAND” MOVEMENT THAT ORGANIZED THE ASSASINATION OF ARCHDUKE FERDINAND. I TRULY BELIVE RAJIV JOSEPH HAS WRITTEN ONE OF THE GREATEST ROLES OF THE MODERN AMERICAN THEATER. WHETHER I CAN DO JUSTICE TO IT IS ANOTHER QUESTION ENTIRELY. BUT THE ROLE IS COMPLEX, FUNNY, TERRIFYING AND TRAGIC.

You tend to play villains exceedingly well. Fun for the actor, correct? Talk about this.

VILLAINS HAVE EXTREMELY HIGH STAKES - USUALLY LIFE OR DEATH - AND ARE OFTEN THE SMARTEST AND WITTIEST  PEOPLE IN THE ROOM. THEY ALSO HAVE EXPERIENCED TRAUMA WHICH HAS MADE THEM THE WAY THEY ARE. THIS IS AN IRRESISTIBLE COCKTAIL FOR AN ACTOR.

I'm thinking of The Hunchback right now. You were so wonderful in the La Jolla production. Has anything ever been said about going to Broadway with it? It's such a beautiful piece. 

THANK YOU. WE ALL LOVED THAT SHOW. I THINK IT WOULD HAVE DONE WELL ON BROADWAY, BUT I AM NOT A PRODUCER AND, PERHAPS, THE NUMBERS DID NOT ADD UP. CERTAINLY, THE ARTISTIC QUALITY OF THE PIECE WOULD HAVE HELD ITS OWN IN NEW YORK.

What is your favorite role to date?

THIS SOUNDS CLICHE, BUT MY FAVORITE ROLE IS THE ONE I AM PLAYING NOW. WHEN YOU SEE ARCHDUKE YO WILL UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEAN! RAJIV HAS WRITTEN AN EXTRAORDINARY CHARACTER!

Who is your favorite composer? Do you have a favorite musical?

I WOULDN’T DARE NAME A FAVORITE COMPOSER FOR FEAR OF OFFENDING OTHERS. BUT, TRUTH BE TOLD, THERE IS NO WAY TO PICK. THE THRILL OF WORKING WITH BONO AND THE EDGE ON SPIDER-MAN IS EQUAL TO THE JOY OF WORKING WITH ALAN MENKEN ON HUNCHBACK, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST AND A CHRISTMAS CAROL. EQUALLY, HAVING MEL MARVIN SING “ONE OF A KIND” FOR ME WHILE I WAS PREPARING THE GRINCH IS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF MY LIFE. MY JAW HAS DROPPED WATCHING ADAM GUETTEL, ANAIS MITCHELL, MARK HOLLMAN, AND SO MANY OTHERS. IT’S ALL MAGIC TO ME.

Is there a role you would love to play in the future? Why is this so special to you?

I WOULD LOVE TO PLAY MY CURRENT ROLE (DRAGUTIN (APIS) DIMITRIJEVIC) IN NEW YORK. I THINK THEY WOULD DIG IT.

Back to Archduke. What is the message and what do you as an actor hope audiences will take away from the play?

I HOPE AUDIENCES WILL BEGIN TO QUESTION HOW HUMILIATION, HUNGER, OPPRESSION AND SHAME CAN LEAD TO VIOLENCE. THIS IS A PLAY ABOUT HOW PEOPLE BECOME RADICALIZED. IT IS SO CURRENT AND SO IMPORTANT.

I'm realizing this is a nonmusical. This is your first straight play in a while, correct? Do you prefer a musical and the chance to sing as well as act? 

ACTUALLY MY LAST COUPLE OF SHOWS HAVE BEEN NON-MUSICAL. THE TEMPEST FOR THE SHAKESPEARE THEATER IN DC AND CORIOLANUS FOR RED BULL THEATER AT THE BARROW STREET OFF-BROADWAY. I CONSIDER MYSELF LUCKY THAT I AM ALLOWED TO WORK IN BOTH GENRES.

Archduke by Rajiv Joseph and directed by Giovanna Sardelli plays in preview at MTF beginning APRIL 25 with the official opening May 7 and plays through June 4. Visit www.centertheatregroup.org to purchase tickets

Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 Interview with Davis Gaines

Actor/singer Davis Gaines is perhaps the most revered singing star on Los Angeles stages. He is the longest running Phantom in Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Phantom of the Opera and is about to return to Man of La Mancha. The new production from McCoy Rigby Entertainment plays the Valley Performing Arts Center at Cal State Northridge Friday May 5, Saturday May 6 and Sunday May 7 and then moves to La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in early June. In our chat Gaines discusses Man of La Mancha and his favorite roles from Broadway to LA.

Davis, I have seen you do the role before, have reviewed it and in my mind, it is one of your very best. It's a truly great part, but how do you keep it fresh? Is this the second time or more that you have played Alonso Quijana, Cervantes, Quijote?

Thanks Don. I appreciate your kind words. I very much love this show and especially this role. It's rare that a role like this comes along that is as challenging, but also as rewarding. It's really an actor's dream role, or at least mine. It has everything that an actor would want to play...drama, pathos and comedy. Plus, I get to sing one of the most beautiful and powerful songs ever written for a Broadway show. The McCoy/Rigby production will be my second stab at it since the 2012 Musical Theatre West production, in which I was honored to receive an Ovation Award. I'm very much enjoying re-visiting these characters again, with a fresh perspective and a beautiful new production.

If you had to pick one element of playing this part as your favorite, what would that be? The fact that you transform into two other characters, is that at the top of the list?

It's always a challenge to play two different roles, switching back and forth during the play, sometimes instantaneously, but I love the challenge. I suppose my favorite part is the character of Quixote himself. I love his optimism, his innocence, his kindness to all and his ability to see the world, not as it is, but as it should be.  

Did you ever see Richard Kiley play the role(s)? If not, who did you see and how did you feel about the musical when you first saw it?

Yes! I did have the opportunity to see Mr. Kiley's performance on Broadway. I remember it being very powerful and quite moving and feeling so fortunate that I was able to see the performance of the man that originated this iconic role.

What is the message in the play and why do you feel it is so pressing at this particular time in history? Except for his fearlessness, Miguel de Cervantes/Don Quijote seem to be the exact opposite of Donald Trump.

It's really a story for the ages and the themes and messages still resonate, especially in the world in which we are living today. Besides the message of hope, the themes include redemption, acceptance and forgiveness. Quixote teaches us to treat everyone with respect and kindness. I think one of my favorite lines of Quixote is his response to Aldonza's question, "Why do you do these ridiculous things?". He answers simply, "I hope to add some measure of grace to the world".

What is your favorite song in the show? Why this choice?

Well, I would have to say "The Impossible Dream". It's such a powerful anthem about striving for hope and survival against seemingly impossible odds. I also love the simple and beautiful song, "Dulcinea", that Quixote sings to Aldonza when they first meet.

Is this your favorite role to date?

It definitely ranks right up there, and most probably at the top. As I mentioned before, It's a role that has everything an actor could want. However, I can't not mention The Phantom because it was such a huge part of my life and my career.

Is there anything left that you have not played that is dear to your heart, musical or straight play?

I've been so lucky through the years to have had the chance to play so many incredible roles with so many amazing actors and directors. In the past several years, I've had the opportunity to play roles in shows that I had never done before like Javert, Peron, Harold Hill, Fred/Petruchio, Lawrence Jameson, King Arthur (in both Camelot and Spamalot) and one of the most fun, Hannibal Lecter in SILENCE!: The Musical. Of course, a dream would be to someday return to Broadway and originate a role in a show that has yet to be written.

How does it feel to be the longest running Phantom in LA history? Talk a bit about playing the Phantom.

Playing the Phantom was another one of those roles that don't come along very often. I am truly very lucky and honored to have been involved with Phantom, first on Broadway as Raoul and then as The Phantom beginning in Los Angeles and eventually San Francisco and Broadway, for over six years. Phantom certainly changed my life and I will forever grateful to Hal Prince and Andrew Lloyd Webber for giving me that opportunity.

What's up next for you?

I continue to perform my concerts and cabaret around the country. Between the Man of La Mancha run at the Valley Performing Arts Center in May and it's subsequent run at La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts in June, I've been invited to perform at the 50th Anniversary Gala of Center Theatre Group (the Ahmanson Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum) on May 20th. It will be exciting and a bit nostalgic to return to the Ahmanson stage where I began my "Phantom" journey, which obviously holds a very special place in my heart. In the fall, September 8 - October 8, I will once again play Don Quixote in yet another production of Man of La Mancha for the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Orlando is my hometown, so I'm extremely excited to return in such a beautiful and moving show.

Put Davis Gaines at the top of your must-see list in Man of the Mancha at Valley Performing Arts Center this coming weekend May 5, 6 and 7, He will be at La Mirada Theatre for the Arts June 2-25.

Visit each theatre at the links below for nore info and to order tickets.

www.valleyperformingartscenter.org

www.lamiradatheatre.com

Friday, April 21, 2017

2017 Interview - Christine Pedi

Actress Christine Pedi is well known for her theatre/
cabaret appearances as well as TV and SiriusXM radio. 

















Her finest hour has come in Forbidden Broadway with
her glorious singing impressions. She took time out
from her busy schedule to talk about her upcoming
appearance in LA for the last S.T.A.G.E. benefit 
on Saturday May 13 at the Saban Theatre.

What are you performing in the show? Some of your regular 
material or something extra special? 
Can you reveal your song(s) or is it a secret?

I’ll be bringing some of the great female Icons &
Legends to life in a classic song.


I saw you in Forbidden Hollywood and Forbidden Broadway 
when you did them in LA umpteen years ago. Your characters 
are amazing. Who is your favorite? Why?  

It always depends upon what I’m singing and why and of course
if I do them well. I love doing Liza, Bernadette & Angela
because I sound a lot like them. As always it goes back to the
written word a great impression is gratifying but add some good
comic lines to it and then I’m in heaven.  I don’t do impressions
just to “sound” like them…I want to make a comic statement.

Tell me about what's happening lately. I hear you interview on 
radio from time tot time,  but not being in New York, I miss most 
of your appearances. Any new characters?

Currently in SPAMILTON:An American Parody as the guest “Diva” .
My Streisand is getting much better as a result.  SPAMILTON is coming
to The Kirk Douglas Theatre in November and I’ll be in the first few
weeks of the production!

How do you decide who you want to do? Is the attraction the 
populaity of the person... or what is it exactly?  

No rhyme or reason to any of it…just what ever comes out
sounding right.














What is your process for working on the voice of each 
character? Do you listen and try to imitate or do you have 
another way of duplicating the 
vocal eccentricities?

Becuase I’ve been lucky enough to have done MANY satirical
off broadway revues like Forbidden Bway and NEWSIcal the 
Musical the stage was my laboratory.  I’d do an impression
that was decent but 8 shows a week gave me the luxury  to try
new things and hear how they sounding in front of an audience
in performance every day.

Is this your first S.T.A.G.E.? If so, why have you waited so very 
long to do one?

I did one probably over ten years ago?  It was the Comden &
Green show. I sang “If You Hadn’t But You Did” and “Neverland”.
Actually this is the 100th b’day of Betty Comden and I’m celebrating
with a show at Feinsteins/54 Below on May 3rd.

Were you a fan of Charles Pierce? Do you remember him? 
His impressions were so funny, as are yours. And very few 
women do impressions. Dear Debbie Reynolds was one of the few. 
So you are part of a dying breed. Who were your mentors? Have
I mentioned any of them?  Tomlin? Ullman? Any one else? 

I never intended to do impressions. I started doing them with
Forbidden Bway and that’s how I discovered that I could.
Of course I always marvelled at people who could do them.
The only woman I knew was the amazing Marilyn Michaels (there
are some Youtbue videos that are EPIC She could do ANYONE).
However I suppose I was first attracted to  the comic characters of
people like Lily Tomlin.  At a very young age that totally appealed
to me. Impressions came a lot later.

Anything else new in your world?

I’m attempting to write a pilot (I know, I know who ISN’T).
I hope to book my solo show somewehre in LA in November
around the time that SPAMILTON opens.  I also have a lovely
& VERY funny holiday show that will celebrate TEN
years in NYC this December at Feinsteins/54 Below.

















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S.T.A.G.E. PRESENTS THE 33rd ANNUAL SPECTACULAR
IDOLS & ICONS 
One-Night-Only Performance Will Be A Tribute 
To The Stars Of Yesterday And Today

The Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (STAGE) is delighted to 
announce the All-Star cast participating in the 33rd annual gala
“Idols & Icons,“ being held on Saturday, May 13th, at the historic 
Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. David Galligan directs with 
Michael Orland returning as Musical Director.  
“Idols & Icons” will pay tribute to Stephen Sondheim, 
Shirley Bassey, Bob Fosse, George Michael, Michael Jackson, 
David Bowie, Prince and more.  Stars of film, Broadway and 
television scheduled to appear in the concert that raises 
critical funds for APLA Health include: India Carney
Carole Cook, Melinda Doolittle, Anthony Fedorov, 
Barrett Foa, Sam Harris, Jane A. Johnston, Dale Kristien, 
Vicki Lewis, Kimberley Locke, Jon Maher, Sharon McNight, 
Jennifer Paz, Christine Pedi, Jai Rodriquez, Jake Simpson 
and Nita Whitaker. Additional casting to be announced.

Begun in 1984, STAGE is the longest-running annual HIV/AIDS 
fundraiser in the world.  To date, STAGE has raised more 
than $5 million for HIV/AIDS organizations in the Southland.  
Co-created by Michael Kearns, the late James Carroll Pickett, 
David Galligan and Susan Obrow, STAGE continues to be a 
vital and essential fundraiser more than three decades later.  
David Galligan has staged and directed all 33 productions.
Funds raised through STAGE support an array of APLA Health’s 
services, including its Vance North Necessities of Life Program 
food pantries; health centers that provide medical, dental, 
and mental health care; home health services; housing assistance; 
HIV prevention and testing efforts; and many more on which 
those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS depend. STAGE is 
among the most enduring and valuable sources of private support 
for the agency’s HIV/AIDS care, prevention and advocacy work.  
See www.aplahealth.org for more.

Tickets may be purchased by going to www.sabantheatre.com
or Ticketmaster 
For further information, please go to www.stagela.com  

Friday, April 14, 2017

2017 Interview - Patrick Mulryan

Actor Patrick Mulryan, a member of the Fiasco Theater Company, is currently playing Jack in their touring production of Into the Woods at the Ahmanson through May 14. He took time from his busy schedule to talk about the role and his blossoming theatre career.

Patrick, you are having such a great time playing Jack that the joy you are feeling transcends the footlights. What is your honest impression of him? Define his character traits and flaws.

One thing I love about Jack is that he feels things very deeply: joy, sadness, excitement, fear, the whole gamut. It's a feast for an actor. He has a big heart and leads with his heart instead of his head...which can get him into trouble. He, like many of the other characters, doesn't think through the potential consequences of his actions.

Jack has a hard life. He and his mother are very poor and his father abandoned them. He loves his mother dearly, but longs for adventure and escape. This gets him into trouble, but ultimately gives him the experience he needs to grow up.

Talk a little about his relationship with Milky White and what it truly represents to you.

The relationship between Jack and Milky White is one of the aspects of this production I'm proudest of. Because of his difficult circumstances, Jack has a very active fantasy life. His only friend in the world is his cow and he cares about her deeply. That's why it makes sense in this production that Milky is played by a young man (my brilliant scene partner, Darick Pead). Of course Jack would realize his cow as a fellow boy who can be his partner in crime!

One of my favorite moments in the show is “I Guess This is Goodbye” when Jack has to sell Milky White. I hope the audience really feels how much these two matter to each other and how hard it is to say goodbye.

Is this your first Sondheim musical? If not, what have you done before? What does Sondheim achieve better than any other composer in your opinion?

This is my first Sondheim musical as a professional actor. In college I played Bobby in Company and John Hinckley in Assassins.

Sondheim achieves an incredible balance of intellect and heart in his writing. Every song is so smart and at the same time so moving. As an actor, it's a privilege to sing his music. As with all the best composers, if you truly sing what's on the page, you have no choice but to be affected by it as a human being in the same way the character is being affected by it.

The entire ensemble of this show are really having a sensational time together. Did you do this show back east and in London as well? Talk a little about the cast, the comaraderie and the teamwork in Into the Woods.

I've been with this show since the first workshop in 2012 and subsequent productions at McCarter in Princeton, Old Globe in San Diego, Roundabout in New York, and Menier Chocolate Factory in London. It's been an amazing experience to be with this production since its inception. I'm eternally grateful that Fiasco asked me to be a part of it. From the beginning, we conceived this as an actor-driven ensemble production and created all the moments together in conjunction with our incredible design team. We all care deeply about storytelling which drew us to this piece in particular and we were all involved in conceiving how to tell this story together as an ensemble each night.

The cast at the Ahmanson is an incredible, joyous, and generous group of artists. We have an amazing time creating this story afresh each night.

What sets this production of the show apart for me is in fact this ensemble that bring an in.the.moment unpredictable spontaneity and excitement to it all. How did the troupe rehearse? Did your director encourage improvisation? How was the process different from most?

The process was different in that we all worked together to create each moment in the show. We would brainstorm as a group and then play and improvise on our feet until we found a version for each scene/song that felt like it best told the story of that moment and that at the time was fun for us to do!

What's up next for you onstage or on film, TV? Many offers should be coming your way.

I've been workshopping a new musical about Henry VIII written by the incredible Michael Radi in which I play the King himself. I'm also the vocal coach for a one-woman production based on the poem Goblin Market that will be playing off-Broadway in NYC and then traveling to the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival this summer.

Who are your idols in the business right now? Do you have a mentor? And...actors/directors out there? Do you have any favorites? If so, why these choices?

I'll see anything Mark Rylance does. He plays with such irrepressible joy and humanity. Directors on my dream list to work with are Bartlett Sher, John Tiffany, John Doyle, and Steven Hoggett.

Is there a role that you have your mind set on playing at some future date? Or do you follow the adage, whatever will be, will be?

My dream role is George in Sunday in the Park with George. “Move On” and “Finishing the Hat” are two of the best songs ever written. I also want to play Joe in Angels in America and Edgar in King Lear.

Back to Jack. I'm so happy he and Milky end up together as a family. It's one of the purest relationships in the play. Your feelings?

They love each other unconditionally. No matter what happens, they're a team. I think they're a beautiful example of what's at the heart of Act 2: when we're faced with difficult circumstances, we need to band together.

Anything you care to add?

This show is incredibly dear to my heart. When we were performing at the Old Globe in San Diego, my brother Tom passed away. I had to perform the day I found out. The entire cast and crew were incredible. Everyone had my back and was there for me on one of the hardest days of my life. This show was the most difficult and wonderful show to perform on such a day. It deals so directly with loss and how we come together and move forward in the face of difficult circumstances. Everyone in the cast and crew came together to support me that day and buoyed me up. I am forever grateful. My brother Tom was a big guy. My family often referred to him as the Gentle Giant. Now every night I dedicate Jack's solo, “Giants in the Sky,” to my brother, the gentle giant in the sky. 

It's such a gift every night to hear the brilliant Sondheim lyric:

Sometimes people leave you
Halfway through the wood
Do not let it grieve you
No one leaves for good
You are not alone
No one is alone


Thank you so much, Patrick, for taking time out to do this. I hope to see more of your work in the not too distant future.



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Interview - Kay Cole


Actress/singer/dancer/director/choreographer KAY COLE is known for her award-winning work 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 as director/choreographer include hundreds of plays and musicals in New York, LA and London. Visit her website for a complete list: www.kaycole.net

She is currently directing Group rep’s production of a new play by Brent Beerman A DULL PAIN TURNED SHARP that will open Friday April 21. She also has a CD called Souvenir just released by Kritzerland Records.

We know you did the trailblazing A Chorus Line in 1976 for Michael Bennett. It opened new doors for you and many other artists and recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. You have been a triple threat performer in many musicals through the years, but when did you make the transition from performer to director?

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 had an important effect on your work?

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.

How did you get involved in directing A Dull Pain Turned Sharp?

Brent (Beerman) and I met and started working together about 5 years ago…at La Crescenta Valley High School. We have written a screenplay together and I have directed several musicals for the high school. We are now working on several original ideas for film and stage and Brent wanted to re-visit this play. After I read it …I wanted to direct it. We did a reading at GRT and did re-writes and are now putting up a full production.

What do you find special about it? What do you hope audiences will take away?

It is about family and extended family and how love solves all of their conflicts. I would love for audiences to open their hearts to embrace a new vision of family.

Your CD promo sounds wonderful. Tell us about it. I know it's a long time in the making. How did you choose the songs you sing. Was Bruce Kimmel instrumental in helping you put it together? Wih him you are always in safe and creative hands.

THANK you … I am very proud of the CD … It was time to expand my horizons creatively and singing just seemed right. When Marvin Hamlisch passed … Bruce asked me to sing at a Kritzerland
Show …. I did ...and the rest just fell into place.I had so many songs I thought I wanted to sing but with the help of Bruce and John Boswell ..we narrowed it down. It is about telling a story with each song and telling a story with the CD as well. Bruce is a brilliant producer and a close friend ….it was just a perfect partnership. He introduced me to John Boswell … and that was a wonderful gift … He is an amazing musical director and now a really good friend. I was blessed at every turn …

Kay Cole will be doing an evening of song to promote the CD on July 16 at the Federal. 

In the meantime, go to Group rep and see her direction of A Dull Pain Turned Sharp.
A Dull Pain Turned Sharp runs April 21 – June 4. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM; Sundays at 2:00 PM. Tickets: $25. Seniors/Students w/ID: $20. Groups 10+: $15. Buy tickets: www.thegrouprep.com or info@thegrouprep.com  The Lonny Chapman Theatre is located at 10900 Burbank Boulevard North Hollywood.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

2017 Interview with Gordon Bressack


Writer/Director/Producer Gordon Bressack is a veteran of the NY Off-Off Broadway scene as a member of The Playhouse of the Ridiculous. He toured Europe three times with that group and was with them in 1971 when they were all arrested for obscenity in Brussels. He came to Los Angeles in 1983 and was soon hired at Hanna-Barbera writing such shows as "Scooby- Doo" and "The Smurfs". He went on to Warner Bros. Animation and won three Emmys for his work on "Animaniacs" and "Pinky & the Brain." His two previous plays in LA, "Fuggedaboudit" and "Missing Dick" were audience and critical favorites.

 by Steve Peterson

When did you first become interested in working in theater and what was it about live theater that drew you into the fold?

I was in college and decided to take a summer job. I went around to all the Off-Off-Broadway theaters hoping to get a job as an assistant stage manager or something. I had always been attracted to the theater. My mother took me to see Broadway plays at a very early age. At one theater the director, John Vaccaro (Playhouse of the Ridiculous) offered me a job... in the play. The play was The Moke Eater by Ken Bernard and was totally weird and dangerous, The summer job turned into a decade and three European tours. And the first play I directed in L.A. was The Moke Eater.

According to an interview I read about you, you stated that were you an actor in an underground theater company. If you would, please share with us a little about what that experience was like for you and how, if at all, it influenced your future as a writer and/or director.

It's very hard to determine what influences me. Yes, I was in The Playhouse of the Ridiculous and was exposed to extreme types like Holly Woodlawn, Jackie Curtis, Penny Arcade and many others. These were personalities more than actors or actresses. It taught me that bold choices are the way to go in the theater. Go big or go home. And I suppose the stories I tell are about extreme types. As the character George says in this play, "It's the job of art to be far-fetched. You don't plop down a hundred buck or even twelve dollars and fifty cents to see something that's um, fetched."

You are best known for your television (Three Emmys and the first-ever Writer's Guild of America's Award for Animation Writing) and film writing. What got you started writing plays?  

Um, that's three Emmys and yes, I was the first recipient of the Writers Guild Award for Animation Writing. I never stopped writing plays. I only recently tried to get them produced. I write plays and do theater in L.A. precisely because it is a futile exercise.

How does writing plays differ from writing for TV and/or film?

Writing for mass media pays. Theater does not unless you capture lightning in a bottle. Writing for theater affords the writer total freedom. I sink or swim based solely on my personal choices and ability.

When writing for TV there might be writers on staff to bounce ideas off of. If you are both writer and director on any project and particularly on this new play - - who do you bounce your ideas off of?

I mostly work alone or with a writing partner in TV and film. I only work alone in theater. It's a Zen thing. I enter the world of the play and write unconsciously for hours at a time. I almost never know what I am about to write. I just follow my nose and stop when the play is over. I don't bounce things off anybody. I ask people I trust to read the play and give me notes. Sometimes the notes are extreme, sometimes helpful. Sometimes painful. I have ripped up plays and started over again more than once.

Tell us a bit about the play

As a writer I often have no distance from what it is I am writing. I've been on TV shows that I knew sucked but you have to get into the spirit of the thing so temporarily you lose your critical thinking ability. You have to. Murder, Anyone? is about two writers engaged in writing what seems to be a pretty terrible play but in the spirit of healthy collaboration, working together with precision teamwork, it gets much much worse. The play is about the futility of creating art, how hard it is to create even bad art and the wondrous magical world of theater. Something to be avoided at all costs in Los Angeles.

Are you currently working on projects for TV and film? 

I am writing a horror/adventure film currently called “Rio Muerte” with my son, James Cullen Bressack, who coat tails I am clinging to. He’s quite a successful film director/writer/producer. He and I also collaborated on two films, “Oliver Storm” which is currently in pre-production and “Cargo”, an animated film due out this spring.

Do you have another play in the works lined up to be produced after MURDER, ANYONE?

Yes, I've begun writing a new play, Lightning in a Bottle. I think it's a comedy.

Giving you the last word…is there anything you wished we had asked about you or about your new play MURDER, ANYONE?

I wish you had asked, "How can I give you thousands of dollars to produce this play all over the world?" Or "How is it someone as clever and handsome as you is currently single?" But seriously, I would have liked to talk more about the play itself and its similarity to the work of Karl Farbman. I could have spent minutes extolling the virtues of Farbman's use of negative space to create comedy. But you didn't ask me any of that. No, you just wanted all the celebrity gossip. And I was all too happy to comply. Thank you.

MURDER, ANYONE? Runs Wednesdays at 8:00 pm, April 5 – June 7. Tickets: $25. Senior/Student/Groups $21. Buy tickets: murderanyone@brownpapertickets.com The Whitefire Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks 91423.