Saturday, April 25, 2020

Shelly Goldstein Speaks Out Creatively

Writer/actress/cabaret performer Shelly Goldstein is  very popular worldwide and is in a constant state of motion with a unique sense of humor. In this special creativity interview she talks about just that. Especially wonderful is her advice to everyone to stretch your horizons and reach out to others.

DG: Overall, what are you doing during this horrible Covid-19 period to stay creative?

SG: First of all, Don, thanks for reaching out. One of the positive aspects of this wackadoodle time is the return to old-fashioned phone calls between friends, and emails/texts that are a bit more personal than a typical 6-word message. It’s been great to actually have conversations with people. I didn’t realize how rare such calls had become and I hope they don’t disappear.

Human interaction inspires creativity.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing. Like everyone, I’ve lost a ton of work. Any gig I had on the books since mid-February was either cancelled or put on indefinite hold. That meant a lot of performances and many gala/award show events went away. The biggest disappointment was a gig where I was going to work with Julie Andrews on a lifetime tribute she was going to receive! But such is life. And “life” is what matters now.

My husband and I had a few projects that were in the works before this happened and we’re still inching those forward. There’s a series coming out this year in Europe called COLD COURAGE that we worked on: he wrote & Story Edited. I was a Script Consultant and I actually had the joy of writing a song lyric that is part of a key scene. Can’t wait to hear the final mix as, obviously, we weren’t able to be there as it was finishing post. I think it will air in the US in 2021.

I try to do a vocal warmup for every one of the 4,372 times each day I wash my hands.

DG: Have you been helping create projects online for people to watch or listen to?

SG: Yes! It’s a lifesaver.

My favorite thus far is a song parody I wrote (re-wrote Lee Adams great lyric) and uploaded to YouTube called “How Lovely When News Was Stupid.” It’s a parody of BYE BYE BIRDIE’S song, “How Lovely to Be A Woman”, written by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse.

No production value! I’m just sitting in a chair in my living room. But it’s struck a nerve. It’s gotten thousands of views and shares and online posts. I’ve gotten some very kind emails from people telling me the song caused them to laugh for the first time in weeks. That’s a blessing.

This is the song. Please enjoy and share with anyone who could use a smile!

My friend Mark Evanier wrote a terrific parody about the mess we’re all in and he’s asked me to sing/record. As soon as I learn the lyric, it’s next up.

DG: What about interviews?

SG: I’ve done some online (ZOOM) theatre and interviews and just today was asked to write & perform a piece for a benefit for the Chicago Actor’s Fund.

When John Prine died, I was heartbroken. Loss of a giant. I adored his songs. A couple of years ago I wrote a concert special for the Lyric Opera called CHICAGO VOICES that later became a PBS special. Prine was in the cast and he won an Emmy for his performance.

The night he died I kept crying and singing his songs. I’d done, “Angel From Montgomery” in a recent show and took that clip and put it online. It’s a perfect song and I love singing it. Playing/arranging is the great Doug Peck, who I met when he conducted and was the Music Director on CHICAGO VOICES.

This is that video:

I have so many friends writing songs, recording songs, writing commentary/jokes – I think it’s so vital to have that outlet. I love seeing how singers, actors and writers are reacting to what we’re collectively experiencing.

I was so impressed by the song written by dear friends, Michele Brourman & Hillary Rollins, “While There is Still Time,” sung by another woman I adore – Maude Maggart. (I always say Maude’s is the voice that angels wish they had.) It had a touching video made by Christine Lavin who I’ve never met, but whose work I so admire. A gorgeous effort.

Seeing how other people are speaking out inspires me and makes me stronger. I am unofficially mentoring a few people – We keep in touch and I follow what they are doing.

I probably post much too much online – but it’s impossible not to see the insanity swirling around us and ignore it. I try to do it in a way that makes people smile and think – and I delete any responses that call for violence or cruelty. There’s enough of that in a million other places.

I feel like people are moving to a different place this week. Now that we’re sheltered-in-place for over a month, we’re all looking for the next step. I’ve started to get calls and e-mails asking my availability for writing special material or full shows/acts. I love how many performances are happening online and I’ve always happy to help!

DG: Do you have any recommendations for people on how to extend their creativity? Should they stick to what they know best or venture into unchartered territory?

SG: If there ever was a time to venture into unchartered territory – it’s now! We are flooded with emotions right now – fear, uncertainty, impatience, vulnerability, anger, gratitude, love – if that doesn’t inspire a song or a script or a joke or a dance or a painting or an opera or a concert…WHAT WILL?

This is a rare moment of stillness, although it’s impossible to be still in this political climate. We’re all feeling a ton of stress and anxiety. It’s helpful – emotionally, psychologically and physically – to challenge yourself.

One practical thing I need to learn how to do is add more production value to my videos. The days of just singing to camera aren’t enough anymore. I don’t have a green screen and don’t know how to do it…YET. But I am going to learn.

I finally got pulled onto Instagram – I’m GroovyShelly (and at Twitter - @GroovyShelly) Follow me! I’ll follow back.

If I’m not creating, the only options left are worrying/crying/obsessing – or eating carbs. I spent 3 years carb-free and that has gone out the window. I can attempt many things of value during a pandemic. Giving up pasta and bagels is not one of them!

There is so much literally at our fingertips right now. Go online. People are giving classes, sharing shows, major theatres and cabarets are streaming past productions. Take a class – then teach a class. This is a great time for bartering. What can I learn from you? What can I teach you?

No one knows how or when we get out of this, but when we do – I hope it’s with more of a sense of compassion and community. If we don’t learn it now, we never will.

DG: There are so many lies out there. It seems that we have to make our own truth and that is scary. Do you have any predictions on how and when this whole nightmare will be over?

SG: Wow. We must, must, must fight to keep the truth alive. We must dig for it and we must counter that dangerous lies that we face every hour of every day.

Right now, the single most important thing is to listen to the experts and leaders like Governors Cuomo, Newsom, Pritzker, Witmer, Inslee. We also need to STAY AT HOME! Yes, there are a million other places we’d like the freedom to go right now. Be patient. Tough it out. If you don’t want to do it for any other reason, do it to show respect for the medical personnel who are working superhuman hours to keep people alive. It’s literally the least we can do. We must “Stay the F Home!”

We all see how hard the medical first responders are working. The best way we can help them is to flatten the curve. Which means staying home. Another great way to help them is to send food to your nearest ER.

If a friend is alone or vulnerable, send them a GrubHub gift card or find out what you can send them.

I have no idea when this will be over – or even HOW it will be over. I know it will not absolutely end in one single day. But I can’t fathom what the stages will be that will put us on the road to “normal.”

I think it’s important to say, “I don’t know” when you don’t know. People don’t like those 3 little words and they also don’t like, “I was wrong.” The inability of some of our leaders to honestly say those 2 phrases when needed is one of the things that got us into this mess.

Spread facts. Spread science. Spread art. Spread love. Spread kindness & compassion – and a healthy heaping of dish. Keep washing your hands.

And to quote that great philosopher, Dolly Gallagher Levi (by way of Jerry Herman) – “Whatever you do, for God’s sake, KEEP BREATHING!”

TWITTER follow me @groovyshelly
INSTAGRAM - GroovyShelly

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Joshua Finkel Creativity Interview

Actor/director/producer/teacher Joshua Finkel does not let Covid-19 get in the way of his work. In our discussion he gives us examples of the projects he is most proud of and is totally insistent on marching forward in spite of the odds.

Are you still working during Covid-19? If so, for whom?

Right now I'm just working for California Lutheran University. Everything else that would be extracurricular or master classes or whatever has shut down so that is my ongoing semester gig

After I get over some work pile with that, learning how to segue all that info online-- which is a definite trial-and-error learning curve, I might do some free online classes for clients just to keep people creative, because I know people are out of work and they can't afford to pay me for stuff like this most likely. So it's a really tricky catch-22 and I'm grateful for the University right now.

But that is the only place I work aside from New Musicals Inc where I am not doing master classes because we have to maintain social distance, 
Plus there is no reason to need to audition for anything right now because everything is shut down.

My directing projects at California Lutheran also got shut down.
It we can, we will remount those shows in the fall if some of those people are still there.
It's a weird bubble as you know.

When yoiu work with a client, do you encourage a new interpretation of playing a role or adding something innovative?

If I am teaching my cabaret class or I am working with a client to build a one person show, it's always about finding a fresh angle or finding a subject matter that is less explored, but that they have a very close and personal relationship with.

One of my favorite results of that was with Roslyn Cohn, who let us know that she had been a member of the church of Scientology for 27 years and had gotten out.
This was a few years back, before the "Going Clear" film had come out and really no one had a clear understanding of the breakdown and blow-by-blow of the Scientology organization

So we built a cabaret act that she had filmed at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal. I helped with everything from the poster design to the title to the choreography to the structure and the content.

Her goal was to make it accessible via YouTube and inform folks who are considering going into the church that they should not, as well as inspiring and supporting those trying to get out of the church.

After she posted it, she received so many international invitations to perform it at festivals and venues around the world.

Because it is such a painful journey for her to go through emotionally,  though of course it has a lot of comedy in it, she turned it down ...because she did not want to have to go through it again. But she was thrilled that it has gotten all of that attention and is helping folks around the world.

That's a great story. Ros Cohn is a talented lady, and I am sure she made the right decision for herself at that point in her career. Any other cabaret clients with interesting happenings to relate?

Yes, another set of cabaret clients not only did their show in Los Angeles but also at 54 Below a New York, and that was an exciting journey. Two Broadway teens who knew each other during their year on Broadway working in separate shows Matilda, and Annie, came together at last

What do you feel are your most effective strategies in coaching your students?

I often try to help people give the best possible audition: best vocals in the correct style, clear emotionally full acting choices that also stay within the genre. But if they are going 'outside the box' we practice choices that way too, so in case they are asked for an adjustment, they are ready as well and have explored options.

Many times when we are building a part my client booked after coaching/callback coachings, we go through the role and I give them the system to look at it both as an actor, and also as a director to help come up with the smartest and most well rounded choices.

I did that with Sandy Bainum prior to playing Mame back east
and just with Talya Sindel to build Esmeralda in Hunchback, which of course got postponed/cancelled due to Corona.

So, right now, I'm weekly coaching my students at California Lutheran University on Cold Reading and Acting and Monologue Prep, plus teaching some voice lessons on line and also teaching Tap to my online dance students at CLU.

I am doing live teaching with supplemental training videos I create so the students can drill from those as well between our sessions.  I record the sessions in the cloud and share those sessions with the students as well for further study.

Whether already accomplished or yet to come, the projects of Josh Finkel are never ending. For him and his students, creativity most definitely goes on....
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Josh is still hoping that all postponed work will return:

1. Next to Normal  P3 Theatre Company opening August 13 in Long Beach

2. Hollywood Revisited returns to the Greystone Mansion August 25

3. Czech Musicals at the Hollywood Fringe Festival October 2020

4.In the meantime folks can enjoy the cast album of one of the award winning shows which dropped in The Wedding Night on CD baby

All info at

Joshua Finkel, MFA
Director, Actor,
Acting Coach

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Tiffany Bailey 3

Actress/singer Tiffany Bailey has many talents. She also happens to be a behavioral therapist for children with autism. I laud her for that. Last spring 2019 she released an album entitled "Jazz with Pop" and her cabaret show was very well received. In this interview she updates our readers as to the success of the CD and talks about her other projects for 2020.

How has your CD been selling since your concert last spring?

TB: The Jazz with POP CD has been selling ok. People seem to like the disco inspired groove of Twilight Tone and the soft haunting feel of True
Colors the best. More people are hearing about Jazz with POP, so that is great! I have it listed on all music platforms: Itunes, Spotify, Amazon, CD Baby! I also have it available on my website:

When is your next concert appearance and where?*

TB: I’ve got a few private gigs coming up in January and February. Next public gig is set for Thursday: April 9th at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s. This is one of my favorite venues. I have some cool things planned.
Lots of exploration in 80s/90s pop, musical theater, epic songs that have theatrics, a little Jazz, and comedy! Another gig I’m excited about is:Thursday: June 26th at The Gardenia Lounge. with my friend,
Francesca Amari, who is a popular cabaret singer in Palm Springs. Two very different shows. Both incorporating: comedy, cabaret, and some musical
theater, mixed with pop.

Are you changing what you will sing for the next series of concerts?

TB: In some ways yes. I will always have my Jazz roots. But, I’ve really
been exploring the comedy of Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball. Also
finding some great musical theater I like; some pop influenced songs,
and a little Lawrence Welk, if you can believe it.

Tell our readers again about growing up with a musical father and
how it motivated you to want to sing professionally.

TB: Growing up with a father who plays music has been one of the greatest
blessings in my life. When it came to learning about cool artists. My
dad was steeped in the jazz world, so I learned about and listened to
Chet Baker, Diane Schuur, Charlie Parker. But he also introduced me to
the Bee Gees, Captain & Tenille, Ray Charles, Hall & Oates, The
Carpenters…the list goes on. Even now, dad is always sending me links
to music I should listen to. We have a lot of fun chatting about it.
And he really understands my musical tastes, so I listen to a huge
variety of music.

Are you embarking on essaying other styles of music, or do you feel
more comfortable staying with jazz and pop?

TB: I feel very safe with and love singing the jazz standards and pop
music, but I’m definitely exploring new music genres in the last few
years. I’m wanting to bring in a funk component to some of my
arrangements; I’m also exploring adding a theatrical element to my
shows, so I’m listening to a lot of show tunes, both from the Golden
era of Broadway and contemporary shows. I’m really attracted to songs
that tell a story, and I want to translate that to my shows:
storytelling with music, words and lights. I want my audiences to feel
“full” when they leave my shows. I want the music to speak out,
loudly. And I want them to really understand the stories behind the
songs and feel the passion I do about the music itself.

What other projects are on the horizon or more specifically in the
near future?

TB: I’m exploring more acting and voiceover work. I’ve gotten my headshots
done for commercial film and TV. I’m trying to put myself out there to
get a feature film. I love using my voice in fun ways and exploring
what I can do as an actor. Recently, I’ve started to figure out how to
perfect Carol Channing’s unique speaking style. It’s a tricky one; she
was such an incredible talent.

I’m also looking to get more involved in directing cabaret shows and
theatrical productions. I have a background in music and art therapy.
I truly enjoy working on shows and being involved in the writing and
development process. I think I bring something valuable to other
artists, including adding the component of fun, organization,
creativity and collaboration.

Tell us again who your favorite singers are, old and new.

TB: My idol, Karen Carpenter is number one. Others include Lea Michelle,
Sharon McNight, Esperanza Spalding, Casey Abrams and Melody Gardot.
Lately, I’ve been really intrigued and enamored with Billie Eilish –
both as a person and performer.

Do you wish to add anything?

TB: I decided this past year to really follow my passions, so I have been
taking piano lessons, which has added so much joy to my life. My goal
was to accompany myself at a show, and I’m happy to report that I will
be doing that! I just want to immerse myself in the entertainment
world, from music to directing to cabaret to voice work and acting.

* This concert has been cancelled due to COVID-19. When things get back to normal, the concert will be rescheduled.

When I asked Tiffany Bailey what she is doing to stay active creatively, she had the following to communicate with us:

TB: Haven’t rescheduled yet. So hard to know when to do it. Probably looking at early next year, or end of this year. Just continuing to work on projects and stay musically moving & grooving. 

We were so excited to be doing our show : The Tiffany Zone in April at Feinstein’s. But, safety is what’s most important. We are looking forward to rescheduling. The Tiffany Zone, directed by Keri Kelsey, is going to be a blast to the 80’s and 90’s, quirky stories, heartfelt ballads, and lots of music you can celebrate with. We are even bringing back actual high school show choir friends from my high school (Erin Rivlin & Crystal Keith)! Both ladies are exceptional musicians. We will have some great moves too. My special guest will be jazz musician:  Jeffrey Gimble. Featuring Emile Hassan Dyer as well. Musical Director: Jamieson Trotter!
Info about upcoming dates can be found at:

During this time, I’ve been staying sane by: Playing piano 2 hrs a day, taking a sight singing class with Jazz singer/teacher Sandra Booker, working on shows with Karen Celeste Kruz, and Francesca Amari Sajtar.  Dancing every day & learning new moves. Having creative conversations with friends and family. Acting silly, taking risks (videos, live streams, writing), virtually making crafts with my niece. Finding resourceful ways to connect with people. Taking time to appreciate the space during this scary time. Funny how suddenly doing the dishes, has become more enjoyable. Especially to music. Grateful to all who are helping to burn this pandemic out. 

Visit Tiffany bailey at: