Friday, May 30, 2014

2014 Interview - Joan Ryan

2013 BWW Award winner for Best Female Cabaret Artist, Joan Ryan will perform her acclaimed night club show On the Edge on  Sunday June 1 at Catalina Jazz Club with special guest star Eric McCormack. The show will benefit The Trevor Project. In our chat, Ryan discusses the show, her music and theatrical career.
Joan, you have had a wonderful singing career in LA for many years. Talk about this in detail, including shows you have done.

Thank you. You know, I love Los Angeles theater and I've been pretty lucky to get to do some wonderful roles. My  first show in Los Angeles was in  Angry Housewives. I played Jetta,  a mousy housewife who joins a punk band whose breakout number is  "Eat Your Fu@$#NG Cornflakes" while throwing cornflakes on the audience. Then I got to do Niteclub Confidential with Scott Bakula,  where I  played a mousy club singer, who turns into a gutsy star.  There was certainly  a pattern. Then, one of my favorite roles, Audrey in  Little Shop Of Horrors, Joseph and the ..…Footloose and so many more.  I love roles where I really get to sing and that have lots of heart. It was also very exciting to get to do  Leonard Bernstien's " The Mass" at the Hollywood Bowl, and of course, Judy Denmark/Ginger Del Marco in Ruthless!

Let's expand on Ruthless, if you would.

Ruthless was the catalyst to jumpstart my career and visibility.
 It was also a very exciting experience to be in that kind of  a cult hit with such a fantastic cast and director. But, boy, was it a demanding role.I will never forget that when the director Joel Paley told me I had the role, he said "Don't come crying to me when you see how hard it is"!  The original LA cast is ready for a reunion,  and we can all still fit in the costumes, except Lindsay Ridgeway who played Tina..she is taller than me! Both Ruthless and Angry Housewives led to television roles. Angry Housewives led to my role as Tina Pallodrino on Saved By The Bell (my first tv series) and Ruthless to a two year stint as everyone's favorite psychiatrist, Kathleen Houghton on The Young And The Restless. I also loved that I got to record the Ruthless album. That was a thrill.

You have won numerous awards, including BWW's Favorite Female Cabaret Artist for 20013. How does that feel?

Amazing…grateful and I'm  really happy! This show was a real stretch for me, and I put  my trust in Andrew MacBean, my director, to go in a very different direction. It wasn't a safe direction for me, certainly not in my comfort zone, for sure,  so it was great to see that it paid off with our reviews and awards. So yes, did I say AMAZING!!!

How was performing at 54 Below? Was that your very first New York experience?

May I say here and now, I absolutely love and treasure New York. I don't mean to sound trite, but the minute I step off the plane in New York, I am immediately happy. I have felt that ever since I was a little girl, when my mom would take me to see Broadway shows every year. I have always felt that I belonged more on the East Coast than the West, and I now find myself going back and forth between the two cities way more often. 
54 Below was a fantastic experience. I love the room and the people that run it. It was so exciting!It was scary at first, because coming from LA, I wasn't sure how my show would be received, but after I sang my opening number, my fears were put to rest. The audience was so smart and got every musical reference. I had a ball and can't wait to go back.

Tell me about the film that you are in that was recently released.

The film is called Hot Guys With Guns and was a fantastic experience to do. Hot Guys is a really funny heist movie a la Moonlighting or Lethal Weapon. The difference is that the leads are gay.I got to play Patricia, the overbearing,oversexed,  coke snorting, ecstacy loving mom to one of the leads, Brian McArdle. Totally inappropriate, totally fun. I loved our director, Doug Spearman. He really gave us a lot of room and was known to let the camera keep rolling more than once  to see what we would do. It was sure hard not to laugh as we were shooting.

Tell our readers a little about the Joan Ryan Show that they will see on June 1 at Catalina.

First and foremost, it's a really entertaining one!  It's autobiographical and yet, it has so many relatable themes. It tells a story, from beginning to end. We have chosen every song for the story, not the other way around. As I said, very different than what I'm used to! There are parts of the show that I am not really sure what's going to happen, so it keeps me on my toes. 
And let's talk about Eric McCormack! He is so talented, sings great and is so funny.  I am really thrilled to have him in the show.  I am also very honored to be raising money for The Trevor Project with this evening. It's an organization that is doing amazing work.

Who are your favorite singers?

 There are so  many. Bernadette Peters, Joni Mitchell, Betty Buckley, Billy Joel, Linda Rondstadt and Pink, to name a few.  I am a self professed Beltaholic, but I am in treatment

Favorite composers?

Rodgers & Hammerstein, Sondheim, Schwartz, Bernstein, Jason Robert Brown…the usual!

Favorite Broadway musical?

My mom has four kids and whenever we  ask her who her favorite is, she says "Whoever I'm with at the time"  That's pretty much how I feel about Broadway musicals.  Good ones, anyway. It's so hard to choose. Little Night Music, Aida, Sunday in the Park, Sweet Charity,West Side Story,  the list is endless!

 Do you have a mentor or mentors who have meant a lot to you over the years?

I've been blessed to have worked with so many talented directors. And I learn so much from all of them. Michael Chapman, directed my very first club act in the 80s, and what I've learned from him I use to this day. Joel Paley, Andrew MacBean, Doug Spearman the list goes on and on.
What is your very favorite kind of music? Why?
 Well, show tunes, of course! Because they make me feel, make me sing, make me happy.

Photo: Okay, so here we go... all my Los Angeles friends please come along... and especially those noisy  Broadway Knights...  Joanie's back, and better than ever... Joan Ryan...  And with Eric McCormack (star of Will and Grace) .. he also of my hometown Toronto - nice connection.   Check out his new TV series Perception.  JUNE 1st on your calendars...

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