Friday, February 22, 2019

Off Broadway's Latest Musical Addition: CHICK FLICK The Musical


I love new musicals.  A chance to see a new story, to meet new characters, and  to find a new personal theme song are just the perks of getting a chance to explore a new show.  The latest musical to jump in the Off Broadway pool is CHICK FLCK The Musical, featuring Sharon Catherine Brown, Lindsay Nicole Chambers, Carla Duren, and Megan Sikora, under the direction of David Ruttura with a Book, Music and Lyrics by Suzi Conn, Musical Direction by Matt Castle, and Choreography by Sarah O'Gelby.  I went to the press up fronts for the show, and I got a chance to talk to all of the ladies in the show, as well as Suzi Conn.  Because of time I did not get a chance to talk to the show's director and choreographer,  they will be coming at a later date.  In the interim, please enjoy my conversation with my new girlfriends.  


  


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Thursday, February 7, 2019

CHOIR BOY 's Stage Veterans, Chuck Cooper & Austin Pendleton Hold Their Own

Since I have already told you how much I LOVE the current Broadway Limited-Run Hit, CHOIR BOY, it stands to reason that with a little artful requesting, I would be able to wrangle an interview with somebody from that show.  Having had the pleasure of talking to both of the show's veteran performers, Tony Award© winning actor, Chuck Cooper (Broadway's THE LIFE, PRINCE OF BROADWAY, CHERRY ORCHARD) And Tony Award© nominated actor/director/teacher, Austin Pendleton (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, LITTLE FOXES, DIARY OF ANNE FRANK), for separate projects, it is a BLAST to have them in studio together.  We chat about this amazing play, their careers, and of course there is always a laugh.  Please enjoy my conversation with the these fabulous folks and try to see CHOIR BOY, if you can. 








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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Dominique Morisseau: From Off Broadway To An Entire Nation

Award winning Playwright/screenwriter Dominique Morisseau
I have the great fortune to talk to fabulous people all of the time, and Multi-Award Winning Playwright and Screenwriter, DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU, is no exception.  This playwright has taken to the written word to create amazing conversations with her plays like SUNSET BABY, DETROIT 67, SKELETON CREW.  Her recent Off Broadway play, PIPELINE, starring one of my fierce STAGE/FILM//TV Divas, Theater World Award Winner, KAREN PITTMAN, ( Broadway's DISGRACED, Marvel's LUKE CAGE, FX's THE AMERICANS), is being presented by LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER on PBS, February 8th, as part of their Black History Month programming.  It is a discussion about the pipeline that is taking young men of color out of our schools and right into the prison system, and some of the forces that could be responsible for making this happen.

Theater Award Winner, KAREN PITTMAN


In this play, Nya Joseph (Karen Pittman) is a dedicated, inner-city public high school teacher who is committed to her students’ achievement, while she sends her only son, Omari (Namir Smallwood), to a private boarding school. When Omari is involved in a controversial incident which threatens him with expulsion from his school, Nya is forced to reconcile Omari’s rage, her own parental decisions, and the public and private school systems, as she rallies to save her son. After seeing the show, I was glad to see that the production was filmed and showed nationwide in cinemas last fall, streaming on BROADWAY HD.


Broadway Bound, AINT TO PROUD

I had a chance to finally chat with Ms. Morisseau about some of her work, including the upcoming Broadway Musical, AIN'T TO PROUD.  During the run of PIPELINE, I had a chance to talk to Ms. Pittman about the role and the impact of the piece.  Please enjoy my conversation with Ms. Morisseau, and revisit my conversation with Ms. Pittman, and make sure to tune in to PBS.


Ms. Dominique Moriseau: Ms. Karen Pittman     PIPELINE Trailer



Sunday, February 3, 2019

Meet 2019 Kleban Prize Winners Sarah Hammond, Shaina Taub, and Charlie Sohne

Sarah Hammond
Charlie Sohne

Shaina Taub
Every year at this time, I get very excited because I get the chance to meet some of the most promising lyricist and librettist in musical theater at the Kleban Prize Reception.  Sometimes, I get a chance to talk to them before the big day.  I recently got the chance to talk to 2 of the 3 winners of the coveted prize in studio, Sarah Hammond and Charlie Sohne,   and I got a chance to talk to the 3rd winner, Shaina Taub, at the event along with some of the other notable guests.

This was the first time that I met Sarah and Shaina, but Charlie along with his composer/collaborator, Tim Rosser, visited me a year and half ago to talk about THE BOY WHO DANCED ON AIR.   Please enjoy my conversations with Sarah, Charlie, Shaina, Richard Maltby, John Wideman, Maury Yeston, and Alison Fraser.








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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Up and Away With Jenn Colella

I really do love it when I finally get the chance to sit with one of my favorite Broadway Divas. I have been waiting to have studio time with the Tony Award© Nominee, Drama Desk Award Winning, Jenn Colella for a long time.  While still wowing crowds 8 shows a week in COME FROM AWAY, she took some time from her busy schedule to sit and gab with me about her show, her career, her life, and so much more.  When I found out that Ms Colella also had a life as a comedian, it made me love her more. Please enjoy my conversation with the absolutely fabulous, Jenn Colella.  




                       Flashback with me to our night on the 2018 Drama Desk Awards Red Carpet.
2017 Drama Desk Award Red Carpet 
At Feinstein's 54 Below    


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Monday, January 21, 2019

CHOIR BOY Brings Another Experience to the Great White Way



On a Sunday afternoon, the curtain rises on the Samuel J. Friedman Theater for the opening moments of Tarell Alvin McCraney's (Academy Award© winning screenwriter of MOONLIGHT, and hopefully soon a Tony Award© Nomination, too) current opus, CHOIR BOY.  After having a day to sit with what I witnessed, I allowed myself to revel in how refreshing and wonderful it was to see a modern, black, gay, coming of age, storytelling experience that turned me inside out. This play with music is a powerful statement about being committed to self-expression. 

The story begins at the graduation of seniors with a song being sung beautifully by Pharus, a junior in choir, played with snappy pitch perfection by Jeremy Pope (Off Broadway's CHOIR BOY, THE VIEW UPSTAIRS).  While singing publicly in his choir, he is insulted by one of his choir mates, Bobby, a menacing and layered performance by J. Quinton Johnson ( from Broadway's HAMILTON), during the performance. It is clear that there is a history between these two guys that started long before the play actually commences.  Also in that same choir, are Junior, Bobby's side kick, played with some great comic relief moments by Nicholas L. Ashe (Broadway Debut), and "AJ", Pharus' patient and understanding roommate, played brilliantly by John Clay III (Broadway Debut). Their levels of support to their friends are tested, along with their pivotal and tenuous relationship with fellow student, David, played by Caleb Eberhardt, also in his Broadway debut.  Tony Award© Winner, Chuck Cooper ( THE LIFE, PRINCE OF BROADWAY) serves the role with regal, paternal brilliance as Headmaster Morrow, and Tony Award© nominee actor/director/teacher, Austin Pendleton (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, THE LITTLE FOXES), as Mr. Pendleton, gives a stunningly comic and layered heartbreaking performance.  

Not to give too much of the story away, because it honestly needs to be experienced from beginning to end without a lot of spoilers, but a conversation may start about the damaging effects of homophobia within the black, religious community, or even toxic masculinity.   Another highlight is witnessing the bravery of a young, black, gay character living his truth against that adversity. There are fantastic moments of drama balanced with very slick comedy, which keeps the aforementioned highlights from being forcefully didactic.  To see all of this on a commercial Broadway stage, gives me a great sense of pride and hope that there will be more stories like this one down the road for the Great White Way.  Director Trip Cullman (LOBBY HERO, SIGNIFICANT OTHER, SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION)  takes Mr. Mc Craney's beautiful story and literally makes it sing with musical direction of Jason Michael Webb (THE COLOR PURPLE, MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL).  
Tony Award© Winner, Chuck Cooper
The amazing Jeremy Pope
The transitional moments using those amazing voices and songs give more power to the story, and like a good musical those songs do move that narrative. Choreographer Camille Brown (ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE) keeps those choir boys popping with some moments that feel like a respectful dance homage. During one number, I was transported back to college watching the Black Greek step shows, and in another, I got some 70's R&B movement like the Chi Lites or The Temptations.  Costume and Scenic Designer, David Zinn ( BOYS IN THE BAND, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS),  makes great use of the space of the Friedman Theater, and he dresses the guys in great modern private school attire that certainly moves well. Unfortunately this is a limited run until February 24th, so if you want to see an amazing story being told by amazing people with amazing voices, then get thee to the Samuel J. Friedman Theater and see CHOIR BOY.  In the meantime, I am going after some interviews with this cast before the run ends.  

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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Tony Award© Nominee, Norm Lewis, Brings NUTCRACKER COOL And More To Feinstein's 54 Below

You know that it is the holiday season when Tony Award nominee, Norm Lewis, is at Feinstein's 54 Below. In his 4th return to the famed supper club, Mr. Lewis, sits with me to talk about what's new this holiday season for his show, his latest CD, THE NORM LEWIS CHRISTMAS ALBUM, as well as, the laughter that always happens when Mr. Lewis and I sit and gab. Yes, he is a dreamboat. There, it has been said. LOL. Please enjoy my conversation with Norm Lewis.


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