Vote for Edith Wilson

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The Midtown International Theatre Festival presents a story of great clairvoyance considering the events of this week.

THE FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT by Keith Burridge, directed by Annie Taft; starring Bonnie Roe. Can a woman run the country? 100 years ago, long before Hillary, Woodrow Wilson’s wife concealed his stroke and took over as the first woman President. (Drama/Solo Show) Performance Schedule: Wed 11/02, 7:00pm; Fri 11/04, 7:00pm; Sat 11/05, 4:00pm; Sun 11/06, 1:00pm

We spoke with playwright Keith Burridge about politics-as-usual.
We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

I am inspired by stories in which an individual (often from history) overcomes a barrier, opposition or prejudice. I want the stories to have an unexpected twist or outcome.

Tell us about why you wrote this and why it’s important.

I wrote “The First Woman President” because I was struck by the story of Edith Wilson and the relevance of her story to the current election. Although Edith came from a humble background and had very little education, she cast a spell on the recently widowed President, Woodrow Wilson, to the extent that, in his pursuit of her, he canceled cabinet meetings and neglected Government business. Within just a few weeks of their first meeting he proposed to her. They were married nine months later and she became his closest adviser. When he suffered a debilitating stroke, she kept this concealed from his cabinet and took over running the Government. So I wrote this play because, like Woodrow Wilson, I became infatuated with this strong woman who shaped history at a time when she herself did not even have the right to vote.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

I want recognition for writing plays that entertain, educate and stimulate their audiences.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

By night I write plays, by day I have another profession – I am research scientist with a research group working in cell biology and cancer research. I was elected this year as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences – for my science, not my play writing.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

If I couldn’t write plays or pursue questions in basic cell biology, I would aspire to being a historian or archeologist. Many of my plays are based on history and characters from history.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

I hope to be remembered both for my contributions to cell biology but also for my plays. I hope people will remember my plays as entertaining but at the same time as stimulating and uplifting.

Last words?

We live at a pivotal time where in a few days we may elect our first woman President. To celebrate this event, come and enjoy this play about an equally strong woman who triumphed over enormous odds and who, although never elected and without the right to vote, served as President while her husband was incapacitated.

autumn-2016-mitf

A Great Night with Some Miserable People

A Bob Greene Rant

Accessibility is not always a good thing. Yes, it creates myriad opportunities, but it also allows for great gems to be hidden under lumps of coal.

Case in point, Robert Liebowitz.

The off-off Broadway movement of the 5os through the 80s produced countless plays and playwrights. Some lucky enough to enter our public consciousness, others pushed aside … unjustly.

The American Theater of Actors hosted a triumvirate of three works by this soldier of the revolution. Some – as press materials relate – harken back to the 80s. And we are the better for this revival.

Liebowitz’ style of writing is fascinating. Somehow he turns profanity, anger, and misery into poetry. He displays for us people on the fringe of the fringe but makes us feel for them and even admire them. We even laugh with them, and in some cases – when things are the most heart wrenching, laugh for them.

img_20161023_153223The first piece of the night was a quickie about oblivion. Grande Grande brings a desolate man (played with Keaton-like sad-clown demeanor by Kevin Hauver) and a modern young woman (Molly Callahan with great caustic wit) together in an effete coffee house to discuss the world. We come away seeing the end of one generation and the reason why the next hasn’t learned from them. A brief moment to get us ready for what’s ahead. Mario Claudio pulled double duty as the comic relief and Greek chorus in the guise of a snarky baristo. Joe Pitzvalty supplied proper timing and effect. While the sexuality between the characters seemed a bit default it didn’t hurt the strong message.

img_20161023_160721The second play’s theme was a familiar one. A couple returning home from an exercision to Atlantic City explore their relationship. We discover that they are not married. Well, he is, to someone else. Bus Ride Home shows us how the pursuit of happiness brings about desirpation. Kathy Noonan-Sturges’ shrill tones coupled with Ken Coughlin’s brilliant comic mugging for the camera – at first glance – give us an old fashioned vaudeville comic turn. This is in part to Ioan Ardelean’s clever use of classical-style direction. But it is these red herrings that made for a twist ending that is genuinely heartbreaking.

The final piece, an award-winner and professional run in previous decades, is an oddly titled COULDA WOULDA SHOULDA. Directed by Allan Smithee, who obviously focused the parable within the material, this power-packed dramedy sermons to us the final hours in the life of a degenerate gambler. Liebowitz brilliantly hands us Damon Runyon gamblers with dirty mouths. We snicker at the colorful language and interaction until the million watt bulb of reality is shone in our – and their – faces.

img_20161023_170524The cast – to a man (literally as there are no women in this piece) – is superb. Anthony J. Gallo as the owner of the numbers club where the action takes place is a perfect slice of character reality. Clever turn of phrase, colloquial hand gestures, and even a few clever takes, serve as an overture to set up this tragic opera. He is joined by Tommy Sturges as a down-and-out and well-forgotten member of the good old days, citing baseball games and union formations. Sturges glorified historical narration allowed us to understand the journey these men took to get here. Michael Romeo Ruocco as an up-and-coming degenerate gambler displayed joyous energy and stage command. His comic timing allowed us to be suckered into his own turmoil shown in select moments. He made us care about his plight. He was entertaining to watch, but we all hoped he’d wise up … and run away.

img_20161023_165323TJ Jenkins and Ted Montuori were superior as the leading tragedians in this play – written in restoration style. Part comedy team, part street derelicts, we watched a George and Lennie of the end of the last century interact. Their boyish banter was engaging and a final scene between them, painful.

 

 

img_20161023_174346The cold water dashed in our faces was that of Jay Michaels as the loan shark Jenkins engages creating the ruination of his life. Michaels characterization was uncomfortable, vicious, pointed, and in other words, perfect. He elicited terror on and off the stage as we, the audience, were afraid to laugh at his humor but dared not insult him by not responding. His faustian rage at the end of the play was like a cymbal crash … over and over.

Robert Liebowitz is heralded as a member of “the movement.” OK, that’s good. Let’s now herald him as a playwright of great vision and storytelling.

I’m heading to the Drama Book store now to buy his anthology to see what I have missed.

The American Premiere of THE COLLECTOR featuring Matt de Rogatis

matt1Matt de Rogatis’ star is on the rise!  NYC audiences met him as Tom Wingfield, Stanley Kowalski… and HAMLET. Not too shabby. Now he lends his talent to an import making it’s bow in this country TONIGHT at 59E59. Here he is in rehearsal with co-star Jillian Geurts. 

American premiere? That’s great! Tell us about the play.

Yes, never been done before here in the states. Exciting. Very. The play is a tale about obsessive love and the division of social class. The character I play, Frederick Clegg, is a lonely, repressed man with very little social skills. He comes from a lower class background but ends up winning the lottery. What he does with his money is set up the capture of a young woman who he has been following around London for years. He buys a remote cottage in the middle of the woods, abducts the girl and keeps her imprisoned in his basement hoping that if he treats her well enough, she will see that he’s not a bad guy and will fall in love with him. It’s based on the novel of the same name by John Fowles.

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you? 

It’s funny I have always been inspired by athletes more than actors. I am sure I am not alone when I say that Michael Jordan has had a profound impact on my life. And it has little to do with basketball.

To me, he is the perfect storm of talent, dedication and will. He put all that together and became the greatest athlete the world has ever known. I have always found that so inspiring. That he made the most out of his talent when so many don’t. He did anything and everything he could to be great. How can you not respect that? How can you not want to emulate that?

There’s a fictional character in a book called The Fountainhead. Howard Roark. I draw inspiration from that too.

What is your process for creating a character?

matt2It’s a slow burn. Real slow. I like to give myself alot of time. I like to analyze the character from a psychological perspective. Diagnose him. Research the diagnosis, add those elements to my character. I love to educate myself on the time period that play may be taking place in. If it’s modern day, what part of the country? I like to read lots of books and watch documentaries that will assist me in creating the character. How does he speak? Walk? I’m essentially creating a life and so it takes time. I create a biography on the character. The first biography I ever did on a character was three pages long. Now my biographies are near 150 pages. It’s alot of work but I really enjoy it although it is exhausting. But my philosophy is to try and become so deeply immersed in the character that it all seems so real to me and I don’t need to rely on any “tricks” to get me where I need to be.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

I think it’s real dangerous for an actor to be motivated by money or fame or to say thats what they want most. I don’t think those people last very long in the industry either unless you get a one in a million break. If I was motivated by money I would not be an actor. There are hundred million ways to make more money so I’d probably be doing one of them, haha. All that I truly want is to be the best actor that I can possibly be and to make sure that I am growing and getting better. All that other stuff is fluff. Good fluff. But fluff.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

Yes.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

The only thing that would prevent me from doing this would be me and if I ever came to that place where I wouldn’t want to do this anymore, I think there would be such a profound sadness that it wouldn’t even matter what I was doing. Look, things change, who can predict? But I don’t know what real satisfaction I’d get out of my life if I wasn’t doing this. So again, if it wasn’t this, what would it matter what I was doing?

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

Well, I think if you’re asking Matt the actor, I would just want people to remember me as a guy who worked his ass off and did everything he could to be the best he could.

Last words? 

Come see the show. http://www.59e59.org/moreinfo.php?showid=264

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SAVE THE ROBOTS… SAVE THE ROBOTS… SAVE THE ROBOTS … NOW! um… it’s a musical … and it’s at MITF

save-robotsSAVE THE ROBOTS by Jacques Lamarre, Clark Render and Rob Susman, lyrics by Clark Render, music by Rob Susman and Hagatha, directed by David Rigano; starring Matthew Dyer, Kaila Galinat, Olivia Hoffman, Alexander Kass, Lindsay Lavin, and Sandra Lee. The Earth is being menaced by a government controlled by an evil corporation that may, or may not, be under the influence of cannibal alien forces.  Can a narcissistic professor, a sexy scientist and their robot clones save the planet from certain doom? (Sci Fi Musical Comedy) Performance Schedule: Tues 11/15, 6:00pm; Thurs 11/17, 7:30pm; Sat 11/19, 1:45pm

Jacques Lamarre says a few words on saving robots…

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

I mainly write comedies, so I am drawn to things that are silly, dangerous, and just plain stupid. I guess I just admitted that Donald Trump is my muse. 

Tell us about why you wrote this.  

I was approached by a team that had been working for years to use the music of legendary New York New Wave-punk band Hagatha into a show entitled SAVE THE ROBOTS, which was a notorious after-hours underground club. They wanted to use the spacey lyrics and synth sounds to create a cult sci-fi musical comedy. My love of the 1980s and camp films made this a perfect project for me. Why is it important to become a musical? It isn’t, but it’s hella fun.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

I think all playwrights want to see their work onstage. I also want to hear the audience laugh and respond. Finally, I want to get free drinks at the cast party.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

No, I can do a lot more. Wish I could baton twirl, though.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

I’m already doing it. I work in events and marketing. I could also try my hand (or other body parts) at being a low-wage sex worker.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

As being skinnier than I am.

Last words? 

Taco platter, please.

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More MITF Monsters

shes-noanyShe’s not the Bride of Frankenstein Anymore by Elaine Alexander, directed by Amy Bennett; starring Anna Rand, Cesar Cova, Pierre Hawley, M.L. Josepher. A newly “single and loving it” Bride Of Frankenstein goes speed dating but soon discovers that the bar scene is a nightmare.

Let’s hear it from the author…

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I find comedy in the everyday collisions between people’s desires and the limits of reality. I tend to write what I see around me as a woman who lives in the suburbs. There’s a lot of dissatisfaction in the suburbs behind the Pottery Barn perfect exteriors.

that I like to exploit for comedic purposes. So I live amongst these dissatisfied suburban types and take my secret notes. I am kind of like a spy.

I wrote She’s Not Frankenstein’s Bride anymore because I thought it would be fun to spend some time with the Bride and see her as a single 21st century woman. I would like to explore this one act play as a film. How much fun would it be to see The Bride of Frankenstein dealing with the craziness of today’s dating scene. I’d like to see this play that takes place at a speed date bar expanded to show her as a 21st century woman with a bad hairdo dealing with all the nonsense that women these days have to contend with. I think it would be a fun, family friendly romantic comedy.

What do I want most in your chosen profession? I would like for people to say “It’s Elaine Alexander play” as a way of recommendation for a fun, laugh-filled experience at the theatre. And because so many of my plays classify as parody, I would like for them to see the truths that I am trying to expose through humor. It may mean the madness of trying to be the first mom in carpool at pre-school or the perhaps see a few unpleasant truths exposed in a humorous way.

If you couldn’t do this, what would you do? Work as an organic vegetable farmer in the middle of some pastoral paradise. But then again, I’d probably still write. I’m sure I’d find some inherent comedy in misbehaving bees or hummingbirds having anxiety attacks.

Any last words? Be thankful for the rude people. They give you the best dialogue. And oh yeah, it is possible to write in the fall without yoga pants, pumpkin latte and a cat, but why would you want to?

It’s All Good

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The Midtown International Theatre Festival presents The Good Life by Joe Hoover; directed by Tom Paolino; and produced by Joe Hoover & Tom Paolino as part of their Autumn Arts Series. Visit midtownfestival.org for more details.

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Joe Hoover’s dramedy took nearly 20 years to be produced. Written in 1999, this character study focuses on a fiery young woman struggles with her fears and insecurity about settling down and getting married–especially to a man who seems too good to be true. Morality is examined amid witty prose and parables.

 

We spoke with the creative team: Joe Hoover, Playwright; Tom Paolino, Director; and two of the performers, Jessie Ruane and Chelsea Rodriguez on the production: 

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

Joe: As a writer, it comes from all over the place. Reality, real people living their actual lives, the odd little things people say and do that just kind of wake you up. On the street or at dinner or raking the lawn in Oak Park, IL.

Jessie: I would definitely say that most of my inspiration comes from watching other actors. When I see a performance (film or theatre) that is so unbelievably real/touching/complex, I immediately want to figure out how I can create a performance that can wow someone else in the same way.

Chelsea: Real people living their lives around me. That’s one reason I love New York so much.  All of these little dramas happening around me every moment of every day.

Tom: What inspires me is the sacred energy of the theatre.

Tell us about why you wrote this play?

Joe: This play just sort of came out, the first draft did, in 1999 when I wrote it. It must have been one of those subterranean works that dealt with things I had been thinking about—relationships, sexuality, sports as life analogy, and so on—and didn’t even realize it. I carried the play around with me for years and always felt it had potential. Over the past year or so I got actors together and read it and revised it to where I was ready to put it up.

I wrote “The Good Life” as a play and did not originally think of it as a film. I think though it could be an interesting film as it gets into the moral quandaries that drive our lives–but does so in small and nuanced ways that I think could be picked up nicely on film,

What is your vision and process for the play/part?

Jessie: I haven’t had the opportunity in a while to really get to sit down with a long script and complex character. I’m just really excited to dissect the play and my role and discover new layers every day throughout this process.

Chelsea: My character, like most of us, is doing her best to navigate her way through some pretty complex thoughts and emotions.  She’s trying to figure out, through her confusion, what she really wants.  I’m happy to go on this ride with her and bring as much of myself and my own discoveries to the part.

Tom : I want the audience to laugh out loud several times throughout the play, but also emotionally support them to inventory their own moral character.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

Joe Hoover: As a writer I would like to create works that, basically, say everything I want to say, as best as I can say it. I don’t know if I could ask for much more than that. As an actor I’d love to do Shakespeare in Central Park again, (with lines!) and simply continue to grow as an actor–particularly in the classics.

Jessie: I’ve always imagined myself as a Film/TV actor, who finds my way back to Theatre throughout my career. I feel like I’m accomplishing that already, and am excited to do it on a bigger scale as time goes on.

Chelsea: To surround myself with people I connect with creatively and make work that I’m proud of.

Tom : I want to redefine the role of a theatre and film artist to include being a spiritual leader.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

Joe: Pretty much. I mean, I can make cornbread, also.

Jessie: Literally all I can do, and all that I want to do.

Chelsea: I’ve got some other skills and interests but I’ve definitely spent the most time and energy on this one. Acting has never ceased to excite me.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

Joe: I am a brother in the Jesuits, a Catholic thing. so I would do what I have also done in the Jesuits: write creative non-fiction, teach, spiritual direction, social justice work and so on.

Jessie: I love cooking… So I’d probably just try to make money doing that.

Chelsea: I write a blog and manage social media for a Brooklyn based company.  Writing about events, new openings and happenings around Brooklyn.  I enjoy that.  I’m also a mom and am learning American Sign Language.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

Joe: He said true things—things we couldn’t turn away from if we tried. He was a good friend. He wore white t-shirts to devastating effect.

Jessie: A fantastic actress who played exciting roles.

Chelsea: I want to enjoy my life.  I’m totally cool with not being in the history books.

Tom : I want to allow $100,000 per year acting, writing, directing and producing.

Last words?

Joe: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

Jessie: COME SEE OUR PLAY!

Chelsea: The Good Life! Come out and see us!

Tom : Follow your bliss!autumn-2016-mitf

 

 

 

 

Men on the Brink: Kevin Hauver & TJ Jenkins

THREE BITES OF THE APPLE:
A Rep of plays by Off-Off B’way leader, Robert Liebowitz
October 19 – 30; Tuesday – Saturday @ 8:00 p.m.; Sundays @ 3:00 p.m. American Theatre of Actors, 314 W 54th St, New York City. Email JMAE.Events@gmail.com for tickets and additional information.

Liebowitz’ plays each feature a man on the brink. Life has pushed them just so far.

Bus Ride Home (two Brooklynites explore their dysfunctional lives); Grande Grande (young lesbian medical student vs. angry old man); Coulda Woulda Shoulda – Liebowitz’s flagship play, celebrated with awards and a legit off-Broadway contract run in 1997, depicts the last few weeks in the life of degenerate gambler Allie Neiterman. A character based on his father. 

Kevin Hauver faces the future of the world in Grande Grande
Ken Coughlin looks death and life [in that order] in the face in Bus Ride Home
and TJ Jenkins stands at the edge of the cliff watching a tiger head straight for him in the classic, COULDA WOULDA SHOULDA. 

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We spoke with two of these three
(Ken is the technical director of the
American Theatre of Actors complex
and couldn’t get off the ladder):
 

 

 

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

Hauver: I think my becoming an actor is directly related to listening to rock and roll records on vinyl when I was a kid. I think then the seed was planted that I wanted to be on stage in my life as well. So listening to those Kiss records on my stereo as a youngster influences me to this day. That and the immediate sense of approval, or disapproval, that comes with live theatre something I crave.

Jenkins: The inner voice  that inhabits my soul &   the inspiration of the written word”

Tell us about your play … 

Hauver: The character I play certainly speaks to me. The thought of existing in a world that was once mine, or so I thought, and having it slip away through my fingers is something I am certainly all too sensitive to. I suspect I am not the only one in that regard.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

Hauver: Love, romance, human connection, life. And fame and wealth.

Jenkins: The embrace of an audience.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

Hauver: I am actually the kind of person that can participate in a wide variety of things to some degree. This has been a great blessing, although it has contributed to my not being the most focused person on the planet.

Jenkins: Hell no-There a a myriad of things  to do, mostly concerning the advance of humanity.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

Hauver: With regard to my having a large variety of interests, and I hope a few talents, perhaps I am in the perfect profession. Even if I can’t decide what I want to be when I grow up, as an actor get to be all these things at least for a little while.

Jenkins: Further help for the homeless particularly American Veterans

Last words? 

Hauver: If you are still playing the game, you are winning.

Jenkins: Love-Peace☮

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Eddie Shields gives us a HOT August… Strindberg that is… with a new eroticly charged version: JULIE

julie_2Julie is a new work inspired by August Strindberg’s Miss Julie. The play takes place in a kitchen on a hot mid-summer night.  Necessity knows no rules. Eddie Shields is a NYC/Boston based Actor/Director currently living in Brooklyn, with credits that include Playwrights Horizons, Actors’  Shakespeare Project, Berkshire Theater Festival, Midtown International Theater Festival and  many more theaters across the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eddie Shields (Writer/Director of Julie& Sarah Elizabeth Bedard (Actor; Julie)

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

E:  I’m consistently inspired by this generation of artsits.  We are the most diverse and progressive   generation in Herstory.  A lot of the well known classic female characters are so complex and   beautiful! I’m always trying to surround myself with Intelligent, complicated, odd people.

The other two actors in Julie are exactly that.

Maria Jan Carreon (Kristine) is one of the most honest actors I know.  She can make you laugh like   you’ve never laughed before and then in the same moment bring you to tears.

Sarah Elizabeth Bedard (Julie) is the perfect Julie.  She’s fearless and a true athlete on the stage.    She’s one of my muses.  Julie  will be our 13th show in the last 5 years together!

 

Tell us about why you wrote this and why it’s important enough to become a film?

E: It was important in 1888 (and initially censored and banned), and see how relevant Julie is today is    scary.  Although the play is considered classical the issues and dilemmas in Julie are extremely modern.

 

What is your vision and process for the play/part

S:  I see the character of Julie as more like a contemporary woman living in this world than  she’s usually thought of as. Is she self-indulgent and impulsive sometimes? Absolutely. But so aren’t we all. Julie lives in a world in which taking action based on that ever common self-indulgence and impulsiveness has dire consequences—and women today still face life-threatening consequences  for making such bold and whimsical choices like wearing an outfit that makes us feel sexy or having the audacity to have abundant self-confidence or take the risky chance to walk home alone at night in a city that we love. I want to bring Julie home and into the lives of everyone who is in the theatre.

 

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

S:  I want to never stop creating and being a part of art that means something to me and can change      the world around me.

E: Freedom

 

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

S: I’m afraid this is it.

E:   Who’s Sally Field?

 

Along those lines, if you couldn’t do this, what would you do?

S: I’d find a way back in.

E: I would do lots of Drugs.

 

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

S: I want history to remember me as an artist who never stopped striving for better—better art, better   world, better self.

E: Something to do with Chekhov…

 

Last words? 
S: I wonder what’s next.

E:  Hopefully a 14th show for Sarah and I…

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MITF AUTUMN ARTS INTERVIEWS: David De Almo

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MITF AUTUMN ARTS INTERVIEWS: David De Almo
October 26 – November 20, 2016
The Jewel Box @ The Workshop 312 W 36th Street, NYC
www.midtownfestival.org

Performing Tues 11/01, 9:00pm

 

David De Almo: David De Almo is Occasionally Employed by David De Almo, directed by Max Friedman; starring David De Almo. From a Lortel Award-Winning producer of Mike Birbiglia’s “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” and “Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King,” and the star of that “Monsters Inside Me” episode where that amoeba eats that girl’s brain, comes the unlikely story of a data analyst who gave up comfort in suburbia to become a Theatrical Producer overnight. (Comedy/One Man Story Telling) *AEA


We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

I’m inspired constantly by the guys whose shows I produce.  Mike Birbiglia, Colin Quinn, most recently Chris Gethard – It’s impossible to be around these guys every day and not want to go home and write.

Tell us about why you wrote this?

I wrote it as a challenge to myself, to see if I could self-produce something and follow it all the way to fruition, but I think it’s important enough to keep working with because of people’s reaction to it so far.  People really enjoy listening to stories about my colossal failures along the way.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

I want it to be my only job, and I think most artists would agree with me.  It’s a special person (or a person with extraordinary means) who can say it’s about prestige or furthering art or winning awards.  Of course every artist would like those things, but for me, it’s about making enough money from these projects that it can be my sole undertaking.  I’ve done day jobs before – it’s not a sustainable lifestyle for an artist.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

That’s tough.  there’s a lot of things I could do, but nothing that would make me nearly as happy as I am when I’m on stage or behind the scenes, creating.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

I’d probably have been a history professor, languishing in an adjunct position because the tenure system is broken.  I have lofty dreams.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

History aside, I’d like to make an impact on just a few people.  I did a show the other day and I talked about how expensive food is in the city but you put up with it because your friends like the frozen margaritas at blockheads and you don’t wanna be left out, so you buy the stupid expensive burritos.  And an audience member came up to me and said that really resonated with them.  And I was like…it’s a burrito joke.  But as long as someone leaves my show with something that resonated, I’m happy.  One of my favorite Broadway shows is called “Title of Show,” and there’s a line that says “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing, than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.”  That totally governs what I do.

Last words?

I’d like people to come see the show so they can laugh at my pain, and ultimately, so that I can keep doing it!

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GRANNY’S BLU-MERS: Dirty Words are Good Clean Fun.

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There was a time when people actually cared about what came out of their mouths. So much so that censorship also was actually taken seriously. So performers had to figure ways around linguistic prohibition. The ways that they did it – in some cases – were ingenuous. Reverend Mary (otherwise known as celebrated vocalist Mary Elizabeth Micari) and a group of talented singers and musicians send us back to that era, presenting us with a cacophony of insinuative tunes written by a few memorable music makers but mostly unknown artists just out to have a good time. Little did they know that their music would – in this clever racy revue – be remembered and enjoyed almost 100 years later.

14711530_349618932046727_1754697665900469146_oWe first meet the Reverend herself, decked out like a vaudeville lady in high style. Her glittering gown catching the light like the good old days of the kinescope concerts on television; blonde hair to match her boa, Rev. Mary begins with “Mighty Tight Woman.” Mary has a voice that shook the rafters of the legendary village cabaret, the Duplex. Clear as a bell and perfectly pitched, you can either cheer her great tone or roar at her clever use of humor within. She also plays a great washboard … no kidding.

 

Next we met Liz Rabson-Schnore. Ms. Schnore’s gravel-toned deadpan delivery hypnotized the crowd while her exquisite ukulele playing was both fascinating and totally toe-tapping.  Her lady-tux costume worked perfectly with her Steven Wright style delivery.

The triumvirate of talented titillaters then spent the next hour shocking the crowd.  Songs like “A Guy What Takes His Time” and “Sugar in My Bowl” showed off Rev. Mary’s range while “Sam, The Hot Dog Man” and “It Ain’t the Meat it’s the Motion” allowed us to laugh and gasp when we found out what they meant. It seems if you can’t take you tunes to the bedroom – get to the kitchen.

Ms. Rabaon-Schnore sang and played a joyously infectious “You Stole My Cherry.” Just infusing the word “tree” into this insinuative tune made it clean to the listening public.

14717325_349619978713289_3235904940903397376_nPianist Dan Furman even joined the sing-a-long as a randy repair man in “Telephone Man.” Nori Naraoka played a mean bass AND served as perfect mood-setting, complete with Sinatra tuxedo and porkpie hat.

The group came together with several tunes including the finale…  “Wild Women Never Get the Blues, which was a great finale and an anthem.

The playbill completed the night with – are you ready – a glossary of terms for what the double-entendres actually meant. Example: Many songs dealt with Sam. Was he a shared lover, a local lothario… nope… SAM: a Sexy Attractive Man … or An Erection.

The entire package – playbill glossary and all – make Granny’s Blu-Mers a unique and thoroughly enjoyable event. This makes a great night in the theater or a viable tour of concert and music venues. I expect to see a portrait of the three sassy ladies on The Duplex’s wall of fame very soon.