Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Madcap Musical Review

Last week was non-stop musicals for me!

On Monday, I performed in the concert reading of  the new musical, "Merton of the Movies." It's about a young man in the silent film era, who dreams of making it as a "serious" actor in Hollywood, only to discover he's a born comedian! AJ Shively, the recent lead in Steve Martin's and Edie Brickell's new musical, "Bright Star," was our amazing Merton. He cracked us all up! As one audience member said afterwards, "I'll never look at eyebrows the same way again!


I played one of Merton's buddies, Edna, a jazzy comedienne who stars in one of the old pie fight films. My big song was "The Chase," and though we had no props or set, so many audience members said they loved when I pantomimed getting stuck in a trunk, trying to evade the Keystone Cops. It was a BLAST!


"Merton" was composed by the dynamic Doug Katsaros, who also wrote the lyrics, and the book was by my "Sasquatched the Musical" director, Donald Brenner. In fact, the reading was a mini Sasquatched reunion, as I got to play with my old "sweetheart," Patrick John Moran....


And the incredibly versatile Jonathan Randell Silver, who played Harpo Marx in "The Most Ridiculous Thing You Ever Hoid," had a pivotal role as Merton's friend, Elmer, from his smalltown beginnings.


Jonathan's heartfelt performance actually made me cry! He was so sweet!

Our marvelous music director was Jeffrey Lodin (above top L). Patrick and Jonathan are also above, followed by the fabulous Martin Van Treuren, who was hysterical as the madcap film director of the Buckeye Comedies.

The rest of the cast was completed by gorgeous voiced Tony Castellanos, the lovely Loni Ackerman (former Broadway Evita and Grizabella - she had the BEST stories!), Janine Divita as Merton's love-to-be (who also recently played Evita) and Lara Hayhurst, a former Elle from "Legally Blonde."


Everyone was so wonderful, and it was such a charming show! I hope we go somewhere with it! :)

Last but not least, I ended the week with a turn as Blanca Vacuous, a maid of dubious origin in "The House in Beverly Hills." I also recorded demos for "The House in Beverly Hills" on the weekend.

For my next trick, I'm back to the writer's table with Wayne Henry and Roberto Cambeiro, fleshing out "Petunia's Coffee House."


Monday, December 01, 2014

A double-take: Merton of the Movies

One of the first plays I read when I moved to NY was George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly's Merton of the Movies. It's a charming play about a young man who moves to Hollywood to become a serious actor in the Silent Film era. The funny thing is, he's SO dramatic, it's funny!

Jim Parsons (Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory) is doing a reading of the play tonight at Roundabout Theatre's Studio 54, and I wish I could be there!


Parsons hand-picked the play and gave a great interview about why he was drawn to the piece.

Ironically, Next Monday I'm doing a reading of the new musical version of Merton of the Movies based on Kaufman and Connelly's play. It's by Donald Brenner and Doug Kastaros, and it benefits the Abingdon Theatre Company, who's hosting the concert.


It is such a charming show, and the music is so fun! I'd love for the folks going to the Roundabout tonight to come see our show next week! It's like a Double Feature a week later. :)

There are a few seats left! Come join the adventure! :) Tix are $20-30 and are available through Abingdon's website at http://www.abingdontheatre.org/

Thursday, November 27, 2014

So Thankful!

It's been an amazing year, and I'm blown away by how quickly it's zoomed by!

I'm thankful for my family and friends, that everyone is healthy and happy. There's definitely been some health scares for our dads, so I'm glad they're staying strong.

 (my little bro and me with our Dad - love you both!)

I'm thankful for my husband, Robbie, who keeps me laughing and looking for "the funny." You are my best friend, and I'm so glad to be sharing this ride with you!


I'm thankful for my friends who keep me laughing as well, and who've supported all my artistic adventures. I have a core group of 4 friends who've seen every show I've ever done, and I'm so thankful for you: Michael and Carl, Ataman and Jayne! Love you guys!

                                Michael, Carl and me clowning on the beach. :)

A special shout-out to Tina Sams from "The Essential Herbal" who gives me a kick in the pants when I'm feeling blue and reminds me to look back and see everything I've accomplished. She and her sister, Maryanne Schwartz, who makes incredible jewelry in her Torchsong Studio, keep me inspired!


I'm thankful for all the incredible people I've worked with on so many fun artistic adventures! The year started with the international recording of "Roberta." Larry Moore had seen me as a tempestuous spitfire in the Off Broadway revival of "Johnny on a Spot," and asked if I'd like to play a devious debutante, or "debutramp," as Larry called her. Well, who wouldn't want to play that kind of character? ;)


I got the best review on Amazon: "Laura Daniel deserves a special award for bitchiest bitch this side of the Bitchissippi." And I love being on the album cover!

Huge thanks to Andy Monroe for asking me sing his great song, "The Grand Gesture" for the NY Theatre Barn, which was taped for YouTube.

Thanks to Tweiss Productions for keeping the fires of Hell's Belles burning!

Thanks to my Petunia cast and writing team: Wayne Henry, Roberto Cambiero and Elizabeth Bell. Looking forward to seeing what we develop in 2015!

Thanks to my "Sasquatched the Musical" director, Donald Brenner, for offering me the role of Edna in the new musical, "Merton of the Movies." We are going to have a BLAST!

Thank you to my fabulous acting coach, Susan Aston, for challenging me with larger than life characters like Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," and Alexa Vere de Vere in "As Bees in Honey Drown." What a treat to work with you every week!

And to other great teachers, Heidi Marshall, Tim Phillips, and Bonnie Gillespie: you all enrich my world and make think outside of the box! Thank you!

Thankful to everyone who boosts my day in a wonderful way! Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!


Monday, November 03, 2014

Merton of the Movies

There must be something in the air about silent movies. A few weeks ago I played silent film star Phyllis Fontaine in Kaufman and Hart's "Once in a Lifetime." Next month, I play Edna, a comic film actress of the silent film era in the concert reading of the new musical, "Merton of the Movies."


I get to work with the my Sasquatched the Musical director, Donald Brenner, as well as some of my fabulous Sasquatched cast members: Patrick John Moran and Jonathan Randell Silver!



And hello! We're featured in Broadway World!


http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/AJ-Shively-to-Star-in-Abingdons-MERTON-OF-THE-MOVIES-Concert-Reading-Full-Cast-Announced-20141103#


VERY excited! :)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Once in a Lifetime

For my next trick, I'll be playing Phyllis Fontaine in the reading of Kaufman and Hart's "Once in a Lifetime." It's a great play about the movie business in the late '20s, going from silent films to talkies. I play a movie star with a terrible voice. Can't wait!


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My first cast album

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of playing the petulant debutante, Sophie Teale, for the international cast recording of Jerome Kern's "Roberta."


The musical debuted on Broadway in 1933, but it was never recorded in its entirety, so New World Records decided to release a full length musical recording. It was actually done as a radio play, so there are a lot of scenes in the midst of the songs, which is where my character comes in. I get to make the hero's life hell and thus inadvertently push him into the arms of the heroine. Such a blast!


I played a similar vixen in "Johnny On a Spot" Off Broadway, which is where Larry Moore spotted me and told me about the plans to record "Roberta."

When we recorded this winter, I knew it was something special. The music is so lush! Annalene Beechey's version of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" is GORGEOUS! I'm so honored to be part of this recording, and I'm so delighted to say it's my first cast album!

We sold out on Amazon last week, but it looks like they restocked. They also have it a a digital album. Or you can go to New World Records directly to hear some clips: http://www.newworldrecords.org/album.cgi?rm=view&album_id=92994

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"My Best Friend": Another video from the NY Theatre Barn

YouTube posted another video from NY Theatre Barn's presentation of Andy Monroe's songbook. This is me singing "My Best Friend" with David Marshall. It's a song about the dating game. :)