Friday, December 13, 2013

2013 news for Piper Laurie

Three-time Academy Award nominee actress Piper Laurie is currently onstage in etc's A Little Night Music in Santa Barbara through December 22. She's still luminescent at 81!

Monday, December 9, 2013

2013 Interview with Rebecca Ann Johnson

Actress Rebecca Ann Johnson recently played Elizabeth in MTW's Young Frankenstein and will play in Little Miss Scrooge at the Rubicon in Ventura for one week only beginning December 18.

Tell me about Little Miss Scrooge - its plot in relation to A Christmas Carol and how the character is similar and different from Scrooge.

Little Miss Scrooge is an updated telling of A Christmas Carol mashed together with the love story from Great Expectations.  I play Estella Scrooge, the great great great granddaughter of Ebenezer and I've taken over the family business, cheating people out of their life savings through sub-prime loans, cancelled insurance policies, etc.  I'm a real "baddie" who decides to visit her childhood home on Christmas Eve to personally foreclose on the local halfway house.  Obviously Estella is in serious need of some holiday spirit and she gets it three times that night, visiting her past, present and future, all the while finding love and a place to call home.  What's fun about this incarnation of the story is that the situations are topical with respect to what's going on today in  society and, as an added treat, every Dickens book is referenced in some way through a character name or place.  

What are your challenges as an actress?

To build a career that has integrity and is fulfilling, but also to be a decent human being while doing it.  

You are assuredly much more than decent. What is the music in the show  like? Tell me a little about the creators of the show and its director.

John and Sam Caird and Paul Gordon created this show; Paul wrote the music and the three of them wrote the script.  The music is very rock/pop and filled to the brim with soul.  Performing a show about finding your joy in life and discovering what family really means during the holiday season is one amazing thing, but to be directed by this fantastic group of men is another.  They've created such a family with all of us, coming back again to do this show was a no-brainer.  

What is your favorite role so far?

I've been so lucky to have played some really incredible roles thus far.  I have two favorites and the first would have to be Vivian Ross, a role I played this past summer in Falling for Make Believe at The Colony Theatre.  Vivian was snazzy, fierce and sang some of the most beloved Rodgers and Hart tunes, which was a joy words cannot describe.  My other favorite is Estella because of where she starts her story, what she goes through to find her happiness, and Paul Gordon's beautiful music she gets to sing.  Being bad is so much fun to play.  Who wouldn't love to yell "Bah Humbug" at a Cratchit now and then?  

Do you have a mentor? Who are your favorite actors - stage or film? Those that have inspired you the most!

I've been very fortunate to have worked with some brilliant actors that shared some of their wisdom along the way.  I worked with Harriet Harris in Pippin at CTG, but first I had seen her during her last preview of Thoroughly Modern Millie on Broadway and I told a friend that she was going to win the Tony for her performance.  She was electric on stage, and I remember thinking, "this is what artistry and mastery of your skill looks like".  When we did Pippin, just listening to her stories and seeing how she prepared for a role (not to mention watching her up close performing) was a master class in itself.  And in Scrooge I get to work with the unbelievably talented Amanda McBroom.  She, as you can imagine, is amazing in this show, and just getting to spend time with her and play with her in scenes is truly a gift.  She is the definition of beauty and strength on stage and off.  I have learned so much over the years from watching, listening and absorbing every last drop of experiences with the actors I've been lucky to work with.  I would not be who or where I am without them.From TV and Film it would have to be Gilda Radner and Madelaine Kahn.  Those two ladies defined what "funny" is to me.  They were fearless and hysterical without worrying about what they looked like or trying to be sexy, while being two of the most beautiful ladies in the business.  They had class.  That's what I strive to find in everything I do, every joke I tell and funny face I make.

What role would you like to play?

I would LOVE to play the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, and Audrey in Little Shop...someday soon hopefully!

Talk a little about your nightclub act The Ruby and Coco Hour. Are you still working with that?

Coco & Ruby are a delightful duo from 1940s Newark, New Jersey.  They're two gals trying to make it big in Hollywoodland 2013, and learning the ropes of the business as well as modern life through laughter and song. We had to take a little break this fall for other projects she and I were working on but Coco & Ruby will be dusting off their saddle shoes and getting back to LaLaLand very soon!  

Don't miss Rebecca Johnson as Miss Scrooge December 18-23 only at the Rubicon in Ventura! She promises to be very special!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 Interview with Brian Childers

I first reeled with joy in 2007 when Brian Childers starred at the El Portal Theatre in NoHo in a full-length musical about the life of Danny Kaye. Now he's back and presenting his one-man show An Evening with Danny Kaye again at the El Portal for two performances only on December 31.

How many incarnations of the Danny Kaye show have you done? 

Well, since 2000 when Danny and Sylvia started I guess 4 total. There was the original Danny and Sylvia in Washington D.C., The Kid from Brooklyn which toured for over 2 years, Danny and Sylvia 2.0 Off Broadway for 3 years, which I like to call it, and now An Evening with Danny Kaye. Totaling 13 years on and off playing Danny Kaye.

Talk about the trimmed down version at St. Luke's in New York. I know you had a lot of success with it, because it ran for a long time. 

After The Kid from Brooklyn closed in Chicago and there were no further plans for the show, I was approached to bring Danny and Sylvia off Broadway. Feedback over the years for Danny and Sylvia was that there weren't enough of Danny'signature songs. So we did just that, we went back and added songs like “The Malajusted Jester”, “Ballin the Jack”, “Melody in 4 F”, and “Dinah”. We still kept the integrity of Bob Mcelwaine's book and Bob Bain's score, but just inserting these moments is what I believe kept the show running for three years at St. Luke's Theatre in NYC. 

Is the concert you are doing on the 31st based on that show or is it different? If yes, how so?

The show on the 31st is basically just as the title says An Evening with Danny Kaye. The idea behind this show is based on Danny's one man concerts that he toured with for years. It is as if the audience is going to see Danny perform at the Palace, or at the Palladium. It is a bit more updated with some modern projections and video. The evening at its core is Danny performing all of his greatest hits. Of course the classics will be there: “Tchaikovsky”, “Minnie the Moocher”, “Ballin the Jack” but I get to tackle songs I have always wanted to sing. Songs such as "The Gypsy Drinking Song" from The Inspector General, "The Lobby Number" from Up in Arms, and of course songs from White Christmas

 What has attracted you to Danny and his material through the years?

I love the material. The material is just brilliant and a sheer pleasure for any actor to perform. Also, it's very rare when an actor can connect to a performer and his work so deeply. I am privileged to have had Danny come into my life. He has certainly changed it for the better. 

Any future plans for the concert or the Danny show in 2014?

I have performed the show in Washington D.C., South Carolina, and now Los Angeles. My hope is that this show goes all over the country. The show is basically myself and a piano and can be performed in any venue. I also have this not so secret desire to take the show to London where Danny was a hit at the Palladium. It would be a dream.come.true. 

What else have you been up to since we last spoke? You did a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. How was that? What else? What other shows have kept you busy?

Since I last saw you I have been so fortunate. Of course Danny and Sylvia ran for three years and that kept me busy. I did perform at the Hollywood Bowl for three nights with the L.A. Philharmonic as part of the 50 year anniversary of the Dodgers Baseball Team. I performed two numbers and did Danny Kaye's "The Dodger's Song". It was beyond thrilling. I actually sang at Dodger's Stadium for a game. In New York I have been lucky enough to have been a part of some new work and world premieres, concerts and cabarets. I have been blessed to have been so busy. 

Anything else you care to add?

I am so excited to be returning after 5 years to the EL Portal Theatre. I love Peggy (Forrest) and Jay (Irwin) and in a way feel like I am coming back home. 
The new show is directed by Stephen Nachamie with music direction by Jeff Biering. I am thrilled to be working with both as they are very respected in the New York community. Stephen brings fresh eyes to something that I have been doing for so long. He makes me look at Danny's performance with a renewed excitement. 

At the link below, check out our interview from 2008:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 Interview with Tracy Lore

Just having completed her stint as Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein at MTW in Long Beach at the Carpenter Center, versatile actress/singer/dancer Tracy Lore is in rehearsal to assume a strong featured role in the new musical based on Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory at Laguna Playhouse, Laguna opening December 7. In our chat, Lore talks about the role and others she has played.

Tell me about the character you are playing in A Christmas Memory.

I play Jennie Faulk who is the most educated of the 3 siblings, domineering spinster sister to Sook. Convinced she knows what is best for the whole family having been placed in a position to be mother and father to them since the death of their mother resulting in never having a life of her own.

How does the musical role compare to others you have played? More challenging? If so, in what ways?

I've played characters like this before, but the challenge in this one is to convince the audience that I am not really evil or a bad guy! What's great about this show is that both the piece and the venue are intimate, which is nice at this time of year.

What is your favorite musical role so far?  Non musical role?

There have been so many roles that I have loved doing lately and so diverse from each other, it's hard to say. They all seem to be a favorite when I'm doing them. Favorite non musical would have to be Berthe in Boeing Boeing

What role are you yearning to play?

I always say a role that I am yearning to play is the one I get to create. However, this summer I came very close! Wayne Bryan at the Music Theatre of Wichita gave me the honor of being able to play the role of Joyce Chilvers in the American premiere of Betty Blue Eyes opposite Larry Raben. Even though the show was originated in London, it was a thrill to be the first person to do it here.  Wonderful script and score, everybody thought so, hope it will be done again somewhere soon!

with Damon Kirsche in MTW's 42nd Street

Who are your mentors? Favorite actors/actresses in the business that have inspired you?

I don't really have an exact mentor, but my favorite actor might have to be Tom Hanks. There is nothing he can't do, and I think that is what any actor strives for in this business.  However, the people that most inspire me are the people the I get to work with every day. I learn so much from them.

Can you remember any particularly funny/ embarrassing moment that happened to you during a performance?

Embarrassing moment would have to be when I was doing a show at Disneyland as a certain "Disney Gal", ran in for my final entrance in the beautiful "yellow ball gown" slipped on some condensation for a fog machine, fell flat on my behind, hoop skirt open toward the audience, legs in the air, you get the picture!  The Prince still kissed me!

Funny...You seem to be so good at playing character, especially comedic parts. I know they are fun. Do you have any specific technique or do you approach everything from basics?

No real technique involved. I never really thought of myself as a character woman until recently, although I completely welcome it!  That transition really came out of the necessity to work. And with the faith and support of some directors that I had worked for before (including my husband) they allowed me the chance to prove myself in roles that I had never been considered for before. So I have been able to bounce back and forth from leading lady to character and back again.

And lucky for us! Tracy Lore is an immense talent. See her in Laguna in the new musical A Christmas Memory beginning December 3 through December 29!
as Frau Blucher in MTW's recent Young Frankenstein