Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Interviews for Welcome to My World with Bruce Kimmel, Sami Staitman and Corey Fogelmanis


        Welcome to My World, starring Sami Staitman, is the first ever one-girl musical written for and about a fourteen-year-old. The musical will have its world premiere September 10 and continue through September 27, 2015 at the Grove Theatre in Burbank, CA. The Disney Channel’s Corey Fogelmanis (“Farkle” on Girl Meets World), who appears as a Special Guest on the show’s upcoming Kritzerland Records’ CD Cast recording, will be on hand opening weekend for a private Meet & Greet with fans who have donated to the production. The show is created and directed by prolific Bruce Kimmel, surely no stranger to LA theatre.

         In the following brief interviews, creator/director Bruce Kimmel, star Sami Staitman and CD guest Corey Fogelmanis talk about Welcome to My World.

     BRUCE KIMMEL wrote, directed and starred in the cult movie hit, The First Nudie Musical (available on a Special Edition Blu-ray).  He also co-created (with David Wechter) 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, including  The Partridge Family (recurring), Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, MASH, Alice, and many others, including leading roles in several pilots for all three of the major networks. Mr. Kimmel is a legendary Grammy-nominated producer of theatre music on CD, having produced over 180 albums. He has produced solo albums for Petula Clark, Helen Reddy, Jason Graae, Liz Callaway, Christiane Noll, Rebecca Luker, Brent Barrett, Sally Mayes, Judy Kaye, Judy Kuhn, and many others.  In addition to the albums he has personally produced, Kimmel has also released over four hundred classic cast albums and soundtracks, including his acclaimed remix of the original cast albums of Follies; Promises, Promises and Sugar.  His label, Kritzerland, issues a new CD every two weeks.  For nearly five years he has been producing and hosting a series of live entertainment tributes based on albums he’s produced.  The series takes place at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal in North Hollywood and features top regional  singers and special guest stars. He is also the creator, writer, and director of the popular web series, Outside the Box.  Most recently he directed a critically acclaimed production of Li’l Abner; and took a sampling of his Kritzerland shows to New York.  He also directed the hit Los Angeles musical revival of Inside Out, and One Starry Night:  From Broadway to Hollywood, a benefit for ALS at the Pasadena Playhouse which starred Renee Zellweger, Petula Clark, Melissa Manchester, and Ed Asner, among others.

     What made you decide to write this musical? Was it Sami's talent that totally motivated it or do you have a passion for the craziness of that age?

     About three years ago I was asked if I could find a comic monologue for a thirteen-year-old girl.  I searched, couldn’t, and ended up writing one for that girl. That planted the seed about doing an evening of monologues for the character I’d created, who I’d called Molly. And I thought it would be fun to have one song in it to set up the show – and I wrote the beginning of one, which I called “Welcome to My World.”  But things were busy and I kind of just put it away.  Last year, after I’d been working with Sami for two years, I began to think about it again as a vehicle for her.  We sat down, I told her how much work and commitment it would be and said if she was willing to go there, I would begin writing the rest of the show. She was and I did. I’ve written fifteen books, thirteen of which are fiction, and eleven of which feature teen or pre-teen protagonists – I guess I love writing young characters.

       What do we learn about the 14 year-old girl in the show without issuing a spoiler alert?

     Molly pretty much runs the gamut in terms of subject matter – she talks about anything and everything that’s on her mind, some of them quite frankly – as she says at one point, “Have you noticed that I have no edit button?”  I hope both young and older folks will relate to the subjects and I hope they find Molly unique and even refreshing for a fourteen-year-old.

       Did you compose new songs or are you using familiar ones?

     Originally it was going to be just one song to open the show, but as I began writing the monologues I would get to the end of one and think, gee, what a good place for a song, and it just kind of morphed into a musical – but when you have Sami that’s just kind of a natural thing to do.  With the exception of one song that I wrote a few years ago and which Sami had already sung in a Kritzerland show but that also worked perfectly for this show, all the songs are new.

      Sami is best at comedy. Do we get a chance to see that in the new show?

      The majority of the monologues are comic, so, yes, she gets to do lots of comedy in the show. 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    SAMI STAITMAN, a millennium child, has been performing on stage since she was 4, where it was love a first footlight! Sami's first professional gig was at the age of 8 and she hasn't stopped since. She adores musical theatre and has over 30 credits on stage. She is equally at home in front of the camera or in a recording studio singing and recording voice-over.  Sami has performed on stages all across the country from Los Angeles to New York. She is part of a very active cabaret scene performing in Los Angeles and in NYC alongside some of the great talents in musical theatre and cabaret today. Sami earned her Equity card at the age of 11 for the title role of Annie at the Pioneer Theatre Company.  Sami balances school with a professional acting and singing schedule performing in cabarets around the country and also taking part in musical theatre productions, readings and workshops, TV/Film & Voiceover. All this and she competes on the Comedy Sportz LA High School Team. She's fortunate that she has a school that is supportive of her career and a loving family that is by her side. At school, as a part of her core curriculum she takes American Sign Language as her foreign language requirement and she's a natural. In January, 2015, Sami was nominated for three Robby Awards, from Los Angeles critic Rob Stevens who recognizes the best of theatre in Southern California.   www.samistaitman.com

        How does it feel to be starring in your very own show at 14?

      Starring in this original musical is such a thrill and an honor for me!   I am beyond grateful to Bruce for this amazing opportunity!

       Has Bruce really nailed 14? Does he have you playing yourself or a fictional character?

       When Bruce first told me about this project I was really excited about it! Bruce and I spent a lot of time talking about all kinds of things.  About once a week for many months, me, my mom and Bruce would have lunch and he'd ask me all sorts of questions or I'd tell him stories that had happened to me at school, with friends or at camp.  So although I am playing a fictional character, I completely get Molly.  She and I are very different but share a lot of the same experiences.  And yes, he's really great at capturing what's going on in a 14 year old's world.    

      Tell me about your friendship with Corey Fogelmanis.

       Corey and I have been friends since we were about 9 years old when we were both cast in a local community theater production.  After that we went to NYC together for Broadway summer camp together.  Then when I was cast in a musical movie and they needed a boy to sing, we recommended Corey.  Next, when I was cast in a TV Pilot which had a musical number in it and they needed a boy to sing and I recommended Corey again. Then I introduced him to my agent who signed him and the rest is history. 

      I understand there's a song that you will be sharing with him on the album? You will do a version that you are singing in the show and he will do a different version? Talk more about this.

      We're each singing the song titled, "Everything is Gonna Be All Right".  It's a very positive, sweet song about no matter how bad things might be going, everyone goes through things like this and you're not alone in feeling the way you do, but in the end you'll get through it and that "Everything is Gonna Be All Right".  I think Corey's fans will love the song and it really speaks to kids our age.  Corey has a great voice and a lot of people don't even know that he's been singing most of his life.  It's one of my favorite songs in the musical and I can't wait for people to hear this song as well as all the other songs too! It really talks to not only kids my age, but it's a great song no matter how old you are.  This musical is filled with so many wonderful, fun and heartwarming songs.   (ask Bruce, but I think all the songs will be available on ITunes.) 

      Do you get a chance to do a lot of comedy in the show? Give us an example or two.

     This show is very funny, and Molly talks a lot - I mean a lot! Well she has to, doesn't she? Since she's the only one on stage, besides Alby Potts, the show's Musical Director, who is also on stage.  I don't think Bruce would want me to give anything away, so you'll just have to come and see it!  But as funny as it is, this musical also has it's sweet moments as well. 

     Tell me about the music that you sing in the show. Is it all original? 

     Every single song is a Bruce Kimmel original and they're all fantastic!  Only one was written before the show, but it actually happened to me in real life, so Bruce kept it in the show.  I love singing all the songs and I think everyone who hears these songs will have a favorite or many favorites and will want to sing them too. The songs are so amazing!  There are fast list songs to slow moving ballads, story songs and everything in between!  I can't wait for you to hear them all!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

     Corey Fogelmanis, “Farkle” on the Disney Channel’s mega-hit TV show Girl Meets World, has been involved with theatre from a very young age; and this year was honored to receive an Arts Advocate Award for his dedication to community theatre.  Staitman and Fogelmanis have been close, longtime friends and, together, have performed in numerous stage shows and on TV and in films.  Because of their shared passion for musical theatre, Corey lent his support to Welcome to My World by not only agreeing to be a part of the musical’s upcoming Kritzerland Records’ CD Cast recording and singing a special bonus track titled “Everything Is Gonna Be Alright”, but will appear opening weekend at a private Meet & Greet event for fans who donated to the production.  For more information about the CD, visit  www.GetTheCD.com.

         Tell me about your Disney Channel show and the character "Farkle" whom you play. Do you sing in the show?

        Currently, I am working on a show for Disney called Girl Meets World. It’s a sequel to the hit 90s show Boy Meets World. Basically, the show follows the daughter of Cory and Topanga, Riley, and her friends as they make their way through life. In the show I play Farkle, who is part of a group of four close friends. He is very smart and likes school and values the friendships he has. I do not sing in the show.

      What other kinds of roles have you had a chance to play - on TV or stage? Do you prefer musicals?

       I spent a good amount of time on stage before I started television and film. Some of my favorite roles that I have had the chance to play on stage include 10 year-old Tommy in The Who’s Tommy, Bugsy in Bugsy Malone Jr., and Young Don in Singing In The Rain. I like to perform whether it’s on tv or on stage.

       Tell us a little about the song you sing on the CD without giving too much away. I understand it is a different version of one Sami is singing in the show?

       The song I’m singing on the CD is called "Everything is Gonna Be Alright". It’s about not giving up and holding on because in the end everything will work out. I’ve added my take on it and I’m excited for it to come out.  

     Previews: Thursday, September 10 at 8pm; Friday, September 11, at 8pm/Runs: Saturday, September 12 – Sunday, September 27.  Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 2pm Tickets:  Gala Opening Night September 12.  Thursday – Sunday: $25./Telephone Ticket Reservations: Plays 411 - (323) 960-7787 or reserve online at www.plays411.com/world

No comments: