Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Up Next: Singin at the NYTB in the D-Lounge

While in the midst of developing "Petunia's Coffee House," I'm also performing some of Andy Monroe's songs next Monday July 21 at the D-Lounge at the NY Theater Barn on 101 E. 15th Street.



NYTB in the D-Lounge is New York Theatre Barn’s revolutionary platform for meeting emerging writers, supporting established writers and presenting new musical theatre work. Established in 2007, the series has featured hundreds of writers and performers.

UP NEXT: MONDAY JULY 21 @ 7:30 pm
Doors open at 7pm, Show starts at 7:30pm

$15 General Admission ($10 for students/BMI Members)

2 drink minimum at the bar
MOSTLY SOLOS: SONGS BY ANDY MONROE

Featuring songs from many of his shows (including his Jerry Bock Award-winning musical, DRIVE) along with stand-alone gems and little-heard specialty material, Andy’s new concert shines a spotlight on the solo performer.  Seven singers (Bill Coyne, Laura Daniel Koch, Robbie Fowler, Deborah Grausman, David Marshall, Courtney Shaw, and Tom Stuart) take turns at the mic, delivering songs that are funny, poignant, and brimming with humanity.

Andy and I worked together on "The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun" for the NY Musical Theatre Festival. I won the NYMF Award of Excellence, and Andy later received countless awards for his musicals, including "The Kid." 

Andy has a great pop sensibility, and I LOVE his music! 

I'm singing from a show he wrote called, "Chasing Garbo," which is based on the movie "Garbo Talks." I play Jane Mortimer, a struggling actress who loves old movies and helps the hero in his quest to find Greta Garbo for his dying mother.



Looking forward to singing, "My Best Friend" from Sally Peaches and "The Grand Gesture" from Chasing Garbo.

Another opening, another show!

We unveiled "Petunia's Coffee House" last night in the Colleen Dewhurst room at the Aurora / Friedman building, which is part of the Actors Fund. It was a full house, and there were a lot of laughs.


Elizabeth Bell plays LeeAnn Cumberpatch (L), Wayne Henry plays Petunia Lee Swanson (top right), and I play Darlene Yvonne Kramm, a blast from Petunia's rock n roll past.

LeeAnn and Petunia are trying to open a Bohemian coffee house in NYC, but every stone has been left unturned, and Dar shows up to wreck havoc.

The show is part improv and partially scripted with music from the 80s. We have one more developmental performance on July 28th, and then it's back to the drawing board!

Hope to see you at the Coffee House! ;)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Petunia's Coffee House

I've been writing and developing a show with my friend and UCB alum, Wayne Henry. He created a character named Petunia Lee Swanson, who's had some segments on YouTube, and he wanted to expand her horizons in a somewhat musical way, so Petunia's Coffee House was born!


We started improvising scenes, and then writing them. I've written some pieces over the years: one for the Vagina Monologues, one was a cabaret called "Love in 35 Minutes," and I've been taking writing classes at The PIT.

In "Writing for SNL," Ali Farahnakian talked about the Writers' Table, and with Petunia's, we've definitely been there! I love the roundtable forum. It's been a blast to toss around comic lines , seeing what makes us laugh. A lot of those sessions have ended in laughter through tears, because we've been cracking each other up!

We "open" Petunia's Coffee House in July as a workshop-in-progress. It'll be interesting to see if people want to go along for the ride! I hope so! :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Who put their foot on the gas?

This year has been zoomin by, so blogging has taken a backseat.

I just wrapped playing "Martha" in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf for Susan Aston's acting class. What a RIDE! Greg Connelly, who plays the Osborn butler in The Amazing Spider Man 2 was my George, and it was a delight peeling back the layers of this combustible couple.


In the midst of this, I've been writing and developing a show with my friend, Wayne Henry. We met a few years ago when we were cast in the Off Broadway revival of the 1940's comedy, Johnny on a Spot. While our characters never had a scene together, we just clicked and said, "Let's make something happen!"


He then brought me onto JAWS the Musical, a mini musical he wrote and composed. It was fabulous fun, running 35 minutes.

While he's been fleshing JAWS out, he wanted to write a show around an improv character he created a few years ago named Petunia Lee Swanson.


And so Petunia's Coffee House was born! It's a lesbian love story about a couple trying to open a Bohemian coffee spot in NY. I play Petunia's ex-girlfriend, Darlene, aka DAR, and it's been a blast to develop this wild, dark woman who doesn't care about anything but getting what SHE wants. WHAT FUN!

Most of our initial rehearsals were improvised, but we've been writing as well, and it's been fascinating to feel the piece taking shape. I wonder if Christopher Guest works this way, taking a bunch of improvised larger-than-life characters, marrying them together through story, song, and edits, and then unfolding... something fun. :)

It's been an interesting way to work, and I'm enjoying every step of the way! We "open" Petunia's Coffee House in July as a workshop-in-progress. It'll be interesting to see if people want to go along for the ride! I hope so! :)

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Springin up Dusty, Belles, and Petunia

It's been such a jam-packed Spring! I feel like a bud about to burst!


In March, I played Dusty Springfield's manager in the reading of the new musical, "I Found My Way." Such great music!



I've also been doing producer readings of Hell's Belles, a musical in which I play Judy Garland and Janis Joplin. I've been involved with the show for many years now, and it never ceases to amaze me how people react to those two icons. It is truly an honor to play them! 


I'm also in rehearsals for "Petunia's Coffee House," an improv-based show with karaoke. It feels very Christopher Guest-y, and has been a blast to write and improvise the story.

Now it's May Day, and I feel like I'm busting loose! It's such a thrilling time!

Happy May Day to you! :)

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Quarterly Business Review

Like many actors in the city, I have a support job. Luckily, my day job is flexible enough that it works fairly well with my acting gigs, and it provides me with some business sense as well. For example, I never would've thought of doing a Quarterly Business Review (QBR) before, but I've been hearing the term so much lately, and it made sense to look at my acting career with that business perspective.

I just did my taxes and realized I made a nice profit within acting gigs in 2013. Looking at the QBR for this year,  I've already surpassed 2013's profit with various gigs in 2014's first quarter! That feels fabulous! I hope I can keep growing! :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

"Roberta" Recording Completed

Had a blast this week, recording songs and scenes for Jerome Kern's "Roberta." It was treated as a radio play with the emphasis on a historical sound and feel of the 1930s. I played Sophie Teale, a devious debutante who makes the leading man's life hell and thus drives him into the arms of the demure heroine.


Patrick Cummings (above right) played the all-American football hero who inherits his Aunt Minnie's (aka Madame Roberta) French fashion boutique. His best friend, Huckleberry Haines (don't you love these names?), was played by the hilarious Jason Graae (above left), who helps steer him away from my naughty little villainess.

The divine Jeanne Lehman (below), who played Mrs. Potts on Broadway, was my mother, Mrs. Teale, and I used a trick from the August Osage County actresses, who listented to Meryle Streep's cadence and observed her mannerisms to ensure they had that "family" feel. I did the same thing with Jeanne, and Larry Moore, our fabulous factotum, was delighted because we had that in-sync sound. I just sounded higher and more like a spoiled brat! :)


Larry and I worked together on the NYMF show, "The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun," so it was a blast to collaborate again!


We recorded at John Kilgore's Studios, which were quite nice! The incredible Judy Sherman was our recording producer, and Rob Berman was our fabulous conductor.

Here's the full Cast List:



Billy Boyden, the band’s manager . . . . . . . . Tally Sessions
Sophie Teale, the debutante . . . . . . . . . . . . Laura Daniel
John Kent, the fullback . . . . . . . . . . . . Patrick Cummings
Huckleberry Haines, the crooner . . . . . . . . . . Jason Graae
Mrs Teale, the mother . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jeanne Lehman
Aunt Minnie, Madame Roberta . . . . . . . . Diana Montague
Ladislaw, the doorman . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eamonn Mulhall
Stephanie, her assistant . . . . . . . . . . . Annalene Beechey
Lord Henry Delves, friend of Madame Roberta . . . John Molloy
Scharwenka, the cabaret star . . . . . . . . . . Kim Criswell
Anna, the fitter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aine Mulvey
Luella LaVerne, the model . . . . . . . . . . Michele McKenzie
Marie, the cutter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Christina Whyte
Sidonie, the presser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mary O'Sullivan
Buyer, Bartender, Cafe Russe Owner . . . . . . . Stephen Cole
The Collegians: Adam Alexander, Kyle Guglielmo, Justin Keyes,
Michael Marcotte, Tim McDevitt, Patrick Mellen, Kevin Vortmann

Orchestra of Ireland
Conducted by Rob Berman
 

The CD will be released on New World Records. I'll let you know when! :)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Recording "Roberta"

This week I go into rehearsals for the international recording of  Jerome Kern's "Roberta." This project is quite special, as it's being done as a radio play with a focus on the authentic sounds of the 1930s.


The European cast recorded in Dublin. Below Larry Moore, our fabulous factotum, with Diana Montague as Madame Roberta. :)


Larry and I worked together years ago on the NYMF production of "The Tragic and Horrible Life of the Singing Nun." He's such a doll and shared some of the pix from the Dublin recording.

Below is Annalene Beechey, who played Roberta's assistant, Stephanie (and Russian princess in disguise!). She sings the famous number, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."


I'm with the American cast, who start recording next week. I play Sophie Teale, a "devastating" debutante who makes the all-American football hero, John, suffer quite a bit. She reminds me of a mix of Scarlet O'Hara, Veruca Salt, and my character, Barbara, from "Johnny On a Spot."


Great fun to dive into this devious debutante! ;)