Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Interview with Eduardo Enrikez

Eduardo Enrikez is a talented actor and producer whose company Canary Productions is currently producing Cabaret @ The Met. Enrikez is playing The Emcee, following an acclaimed performance last fall in Blood Brothers @ the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. With British musical theatre training under his belt, Enrikez discusses theatre here and across the Pond.

Q: Tell me the challenges of playing the Emcee.
EE: The biggest challenge was knowing comparisons were going to be made. Joel Gray & Alan Cumming created an award winning role....I knew I had to trust my instincts and try to make it my own.

Q: Have you ever seen Joel Grey do it? Did that influence you in any way?
EE: I've never seen the movie..maybe once our production is finished I'll venture into it.

Q: What do you feel is special about Cabaret?
EE: Honestly Cabaret was not one of my favorite shows, because I'd seen too many bad productions that kind of alienated me from the material..It's a brilliant story when told correctly, that's what I told my producing partner Bonnie Mcmahan. We decided to create a Cabaret that's true to the story and the characters that live through those difficult times.

Q: Is this your favorite role in musical theatre so far? Why? If not, what is and why?
EE: This is way up there as one of my favorites...It's funny how things work in life. At first I was just going to produce the show...Then I was cornered into producing and becoming the EMCEE which I'm grateful for...
One of my favorite roles has been Bat Boy in Bat Boy the Musical...a very tragic and touching story about a being that just wants to feel loved and accepted. And Raoul from Eating Raoul was my first professional Job in London after I graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London...Talk about being thrown into a lead at a very early stage in my career...that was an amazing experience...

Q: How do you feel about training in London? How is it different from the training one receives here?
EE: Theater in London or in the UK is an institution...People don't study to become film actors or TV actors over there..They study acting. I sometimes feel that in LA the training is all about how to get in FILMS and TV...I feel there's something missing.

Q: Have you been in New York to experience theatre there? Do you think there are differences?
EE: I've seen many productions in NY but I have yet to venture into The NY scene but it's on my List...Like every Actor that lives in LA will tell you, I came out here to do more films and TV work....I just was miserable not being on stage...It might not have the same financial reward but it feeds my soul and my passion for creation...I just can't do without it, whether it's in London, NY, or LA!

Q: Who are your favorite actors? Anyone had an influence on your work?
EE: I'm a huge Robert Downey J. fan, John Cusak, Sean Penn, Mandy Patinkin to name a few..
They are real talents that aren't fame seekers...They're true to their ART and Their Passion and that sometimes gets them in trouble...but they always stay real to WHO they are. I appreciate that!

Q: What role do you yearn to play and why?
EE: I'd Love to Play Che in Evita...George In Sunday in The Park with George..
Che because of the passion that comes from his presence in the story;
George because I truly believe life is white "a blank canvas"... what does he see?..."so many possibilities".

Q: Who is your favorite composer? Why?
EE: Sondheim...His ability to understand longing is brilliant.
Boubil and Shoneberg...They create anthems of love and passion... something greater than oneself.

Q: You seem suited to playing character roles? Is there a particular process that you use?
EE: Yes, I tell the truth...whether it's good, bad or ugly, my characters are always grounded in truth...When I am affected by something is when I become most effective.

Q: Anything else exciting in your life right now?
EE: After Cabaret I'm off to Miami to workshop a new musical by DESMOND CHILD called CUBA LIBRE...I'll playing Fidel Castro... very exciting!!!
To everyone out there, come see a Raw and Sexy production of Cabaret...NOT TO BE MISSED!
I'll second that! See my review on my review website!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Interview with Judy Norton

Actress Judy Norton, best known as Mary Ellen Walton from the long-running hit TV series The Waltons, has an accomplished background in musical theatre. She recently co-starred in the acclaimed Blood Brothers at the Whitefire, a co-production of Music Theatre of Los Angeles and Canary Productions, headed by actor Eduardo Enrikez, and is currently director of their production of Cabaret at the Met.
Q: Tell me about life after The Waltons. Your involvement with theatre, and TV, and the kinds of roles you've been playing.
JN: Since The Waltons I have been branching out into both writing and directing as well as singing and acting. I spent 10 years living in Canada where I was the co-artistic director for two theatres. For 8 years I was responsible for co-writing and directing over 40 original productions. I have also been working in numerous television and film productions as an actor. On stage I’ve done many musical theatre roles such as Annie in Annie Get Your Gun, Dolly in Hello Dolly, Maria in Sound of non musicals I’ve done shows such as Social Security, Move Over Mrs. Markham and I Ought to Be in Pictures. As a singer, I’ve headlined my own concert style show and performed for numerous benefits.
Q: Talk briefly about the theatre company outside of LA that you have been active in for several years.
JN: For several years now I’ve been a guest writer and director for Texas Family Musicals. This company provides shows for theatres in Galveston, Texas and the Granbury Opera House. For Texas Family Musicals I have created the original musicals - Swinging With the Stars, Majesty of the Silver Screen, A Tribute to Patsy Cline, and Get Me John Denver.
Q: What do you like best about Cabaret?
JN: With CABARET – I love the characters. Being an actor, I’m always drawn to the characters and their journey. In CABARET you have a wonderful array of people who are all brought together at a major political turning point in history. To have these small stories set against the bigger picture provides a wonderful artistic challenge. The best part about working on this production has been the cast and production team. It has truly been a collaborative effort. The producers, Bonnie and Eduardo have been fabulous to work with. We have been so fortunate to have an incredibly talented cast who brought so much to the show. And the behind the scenes team has been everything a director could wish for. This has absolutely been a labor of love.
Q: Talk about the challenges of directing the show on a small stage.
JN: Set and transitions become the biggest challenge. There is no capacity to fly set pieces, or roll in large pieces, so the stage has to be very versatile. We wanted to keep it minimal yet define the two different spaces – in the Kit Kat Club and in the apartments, and yet blur the lines between the two. I wanted to keep the action moving, and as seamlessly as possible, move from one scene to the next.
Q: What do you feel makes it still stand up after almost 50 years? Are its themes timeless? What about Kander and Ebb's score in 2009?
JN: Man’s struggle for freedom, the feeling of being helpless against suppressive government elements are unfortunately as relevant today as in 1930 Berlin. The need to be able to express oneself, to have dreams but not be able to reach them, the small personal conflicts, I believe we can all relate to these issues. Kander and Ebb’s score is as fun, poignant and memorable as ever. These are songs you walk away humming. I have spent countless nights during rehearsals with one or another of the songs running through my head all night!
Q: What is your favorite musical of all time?
JN: This is a very tough question.... One of my long standing favorites is CAMELOT. Another timeless story, although with an element of fantasy. My other longtime favorite is My Fair Lady - hard to beat a book based on the great George Bernard Shaw’s work!
Q:What is the role that you like the most, that you've played?
JN: My favorite musical role so far was probably Annie in Annie Get Your Gun - I was such a tomboy growing up that I really related to the character, and it has so many classic songs.
Q: Any role that you're yearning to do? Like Lady Macbeth or Auntie Mame...?
JN: There are so many roles I’d like to do.... Desiree in A Little Night Music, Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd, Kate in Kiss Me Kate, Auntie Mame, Rose in Gypsy. There are some terrific roles out there for strong women, I’d like to do them all!
Q: If you had your choice of filming a musical that hasn't been filmed, which one would you choose to direct?
JN: Great question.... I may need to think about that one for a while....
Q: As an actress who grew up working on TV, what advice do you give kids interested in pursuing an acting career?
JN: Make sure it is YOUR idea and not your parents... And that you have a really strong sense of who you are. Being well grounded as a person and being able to handle rejection and criticism without taking it personally, I believe, are crucial to survival in this industry.
Q: Tell me briefly about your family. Any kids? Are they into the arts?
JN: I have one son – Devin – who is 13. Although he is quite talented with wonderful natural ability as a singer and actor, he is not interested in pursuing a career as a performer. Currently he is interested in writing.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
JN: I’m currently developing a new musical ATARIA - music and lyrics by Raven Kane, book by Judy Norton and Raven Kane. I’m tremendously excited about this project. Folks can learn more about it and keep updated by checking out the website:
You can also check out my website:
And don't miss Cabaret at the Met! Check out my review of the show on my review site.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Interview with Bill Pullman

Bill Pullman will open Friday, June 5 in David Mamet's Oleanna at the Mark Taper Forum. He has championed the common man in a variety of film roles over the last couple of decades, including Meg Ryan's unappealing finance in Sleepless in Seattle, and other memorable characters in classics like The Accidental Tourist, A League of Their Own and Sommersby. He's even played the Commander in Chief of the United States, but a very human one in the midst of peril, in the mega-grossing film Independence Day. No stranger to the theatre, on Broadway Pullman created the straying husband in Edward Albee's brilliant The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? An actor's actor, Pullman recently earned an honorary doctorate from my alma mater the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In our talk, he discusses Mamet's play, and his favorite roles on stage and screen.
Q: Why is Oleanna relevant to today's world?
BP: The play stands on its own as a very interesting document of two very personal responses to an issue that gets emtionalized in a very extreme way. But then also there are the issues of higher education and... sexual politics... and how they are functioning... It's a curious thing. The play was written in 1992 and a lot of the federal laws came into effect in '95 and a few years after. It seems like a lot of these issues about how you conduct yourself are almost more hyper-managed than they were at the time. So it has an interesting ramification in a world where maybe the magazine thing isn't talking about it as much but within corporations, institutions, a lot of internal politics are evolving...
(He cites the recent case of West Indies poet laureate and Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott who withdrew his candidacy for Oxford professor of poetry due to a smear campaign of allegations of sexual harassment that actually occurred over 25 years ago. The opposing candidate who made the accusations Ruth Padel, after attaining the position, stepped down after only 9 days and offered an apology.)
Q: It's just a very powerful drama - in one-act, is that correct?
BP: It's got 3 acts and sometimes people take an intermission. When Julia (Stiles) did it before in London, they had an intermission. But we've chosen to play all 3 acts together.
Q: What is your favorite film role so far?
BP: I've had quite a few, and I've really liked them all for different reasons. I've been lucky to be a part of many blockbuster which it's hard to get to that level of being memorable, but I still have fond memories of Independence Day, to be sure. There are also many small ones I've had that give me many fond memories.
Q: What's your favorite film of all time?
BP: For different reasons there are many...Lawrence of Arabia...and then there are those that have been very influential and informative to me as an actor, like Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage...
Q: Any favorite actors?
BP: I've always been a fan of George C. Scott, who was working in movies when I was in college...films like Patton and Hospital. I was really impressed by him, and I had seen him onstage as well in Uncle Vanya. He was a champ to me.
Q: I saw him do the comedy Sly Fox on Broadway.
BP: Oh, yeah...
Q: He was so irascible...
BP: (laughs)
Q: Is there one play that stands apart from all the others for you?
BP: I really enjoyed doing Albee's The Goat. It's a powerful piece and a really exciting play to do...I did it originally on Broadway with the wonderful Mercedes one had ever seen it before and audiences didn't know what to make of it. There were a lot of disagreements about it. There were a lot of people vocally disturbed, audibly groaning and complaining and other people hushing them up...
Q: I heard people laughing. I think..out of nervousness, not really understanding the
BP: Yeah...It really uncorked a lot of feelings, and then when the reviews came out, things started to even out. That period of my life is about as rock and roll as I've ever lived through and Oleanna is reminding me of that. It does feel like the audiences are being tweaked into a different level of engagement.
Q: Do you long to play any role...any Shakesperean role like King Lear?
BP: I did a lot of Shakespeare touring when I was in college in Montana..there are some great comical moments as in Measure for Measure, the duke. I've always liked Shepard's (Sam) plays too. I love his language, his word choice. One of the first things I did in New York that was a real breakout for me was The Curse of the Starving Class ... I'm ready to play the older guy.
Q: Let's get back to Oleanna. What are the greatest challenges for an actor performing Mamet?
BP: I think you have to find where you're emotionalized personally and then make sure you don't make it become Talking Heads...and it's a bear too because the language is fractured and ...there's no hiding. During rehearsal...I have these 2 fast changes in the second act and my fly was down. And this is the kind of play where that can be dangerous. There's no place to hide and I turned upstage...and I just couldn't get it. (laughs)
...The play is very much a living organism. Rehearsals...explorations to find the execution ...and I'm looking forward to the run of it too. Theatre is such a privilege, for those of us who get the chance to do it. With an audience you learn so much and the challenges just get deeper.
Be sure to catch Oleanna starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles at the Mark Taper Forum from June 5-July 12. For tix call (213) 628-2772 or go online at