Getting Away with Murder

I’m so freakin excited to share this with you guys.

This summer, I will be heading to New York City to make my Off-Broadway debut in Second Stage’s production of Murder for Two by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair. m42_center

Mixing classic musical comedy with a dash of Agatha Christie, everyone is a suspect in this house of eccentric characters unfazed by the dead body on the floor. But this whodunit comes with a killer twist: one actor investigates the crime, the other plays all thirteen suspects, and they both play the piano! This madcap mystery will tickle the ivories and your funny bone.

I will be playing the young investigator, and musical theatre/Broadway mainstay Jeff Blumenkrantz will play…everyone else.

murderfortwo If you don’t know, Jeff is an established songwriter as well as a Broadway actor.  One of his most famous pieces is “I Won’t Mind”, recorded by Audra McDonald.  Which begs the question…between Jeff, Joe, Kellen, and myself – how many songwriters does it take to mount a two-person show in New York City?  (Also – whoever at broadwayworld.com put Jeff and I shoulder-to-shoulder in that picture is a freaking genius.  Can anyone say Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen solving a murder on the UWS?)

The production will be directed by Scott Schwartz (which adds another songwriter to the mix if you count his father Stephen) and is scheduled to run from July 10 – August 10th.  So DO NOT miss this NYC.  I mean YOU.

For tickets and more info click here.

Extended!

Great news from Burbank!  Falling for Make Believe is a critical and audience success and so the show is extending by popular demand!

Falling Extension

“[Playwright Mark] Saltzman illuminates the self-loathing Hart (Ben D. Goldberg, marvelously invested, if too handsome by half), pulling vintage items from his output with Rodgers (ever-stalwart Brett Ryback) into commentary.”LA Times

“What Brett Ryback as Rodgers and Ben D. Goldberg as Hart lack in comparable vocal power they make up for in melodic, resonant stylings. And Ryback is so convincing at the onstage piano, that it’s nearly impossible to tell if he’s faking it.”Burbank Leader

The singing all by itself is worth the price of admission…It falls to the cast, as brilliant in their character portrayals as they are in their singing, to show us what the party line has withheld.”My Burbank

The play is set to continue to run through the end of June…however, I will only be in it through June 9th!  So before I step out of Richard Rodgers’s shoes, come see Falling for Make Believe at the Colony Theatre!

For tickets call 818-558-7000 ext.15 or visit www.colonytheatre.org.  But Hurry – they are seriously going fast!

Falling Video

Rodgers And Me

Richard RodgersThis April I am stepping into the skin of one of the founding fathers of the musical theatre genre – my genre.  The Colony Theatre in Burbank presents the world premiere of Falling For Make Believe, about Lorenz Hart.  I will play Richard Rodgers.

As iconic as the man’s music is, the man himself almost disappears behind his work – and it certainly was his intention to do so.  He and his estate did (until very recently) their very best to fiercely protect the “Rodgers and…” legacy.

Exactly what he may have been protecting it from is the subject of the play, which opens up a fascinating window to the relationship between two partners who created magic, loved each other dearly, but ultimately couldn’t help the other in the ways they needed.

Come see Falling for Make Believe, by Emmy-Winner Mark Saltzman, directed by Jim Fall (Trick), at the Colony Theatre in BurbankApril 27 – May19th.  For more information and tickets, call (818) 558-7000 ext. 15 or visit ColonyTheatre.org

I’ve Always Depended on the Kindness of Alison Fraser

Alison Fraser sings Tennessee Williams?Fraser_Alison_4_ret

This sounds like a great idea.

I’ve long been a fan of Alison Fraser’s buzzy, unique sound ever since I heard her in The Secret Garden and Falsettos.  I finally saw her onstage not too long ago in Gypsy and then School for Lies (a brilliant David Ives adaptation of Moliere at Classic Stage Company).

And now she’s going to The Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival to perform a one-woman show Only a Paper Moon: A Tennessee Williams Songbook.

As a big fan of Tennessee Williams as well, I SO wish I could see this.

My own experience at the Festival – premiering my one-act play WEÏRD, which won the festival a few years ago – was tremendous.  New Orleans is a town with a beautifully unique personality, and being there is like being right in the middle of a Tennessee Williams play.

 

DARLING wins New Musical Award

Emily Walton as Ursula
Emily Walton as Ursula

The Weston Playhouse Theatre Company is pleased to announce Darling as the winner of its seventh annual New Musical Award.

Written by Ryan Scott Oliver and Brett Ryback, Darling is a coming-of-age story about teenager Ursula Morgan, who leaves behind her upper-class family and finds herself in the seedy underground of Depression-era Boston — a world of sex, jazz and a mysterious drug called….fairy dust.

The piece, which was featured on the “Bound for Broadway” episode of NBC’s The Apprentice, was nominated for Weston’s prestigious national award by Director of Music at Pace New Musicals Robert Meffe who said of Darling: “The rock score is dark, edgy and contagious… The lyrics are intelligent, surprising and original…The book is a wildly different take on the Peter Pan story that will have audiences trying to uncover the allusions every night.”

The Weston Playhouse New Musical Award, the only one of its kind in the country, has become a highly sought-after prize. It supports new work by writers and composers of notable promise, chosen from a group of national nominations. Winners rehearse their work in Vermont under professional musical direction with a cast of exceptional actor/singers. After performing selections from Darling in concert on the Weston stage on March 2, Oliver, Ryback and their cast return to New York to perform at an invited concert and then to record a demo cd under the supervision of Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom Records.

Derek Klena as Peter
Derek Klena as Peter

The Vermont and New York concerts will be led under the musical direction of Chris Fenwick (Giant). The cast of rising Broadway talent includes Derek Klena (Dogfight) as Peter, Emily Walton (Peter and the Starcatcher) as Ursula, Julia Mattison (Godspell), Justin Keyes (How to Succeed…) and Max Chernin (NYMF’s Really Bad Things).

Continue reading DARLING wins New Musical Award

Cultural Swampland

My attention was drawn a while back to an LA Times article discussing a sort of cultural revolution occurring at Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).  Longtime curator, Paul Schimmel – “an artist favorite, seen as a champion of ambitious, intensely researched exhibitions” – was recently fired and replaced by Jeffrey Deitch – “who gained his reputation by creating buzzed-about events that often drew on youth culture, [including recent exhibitions in LA] that revolved around high-recognition names, including Dennis Hopper and James Franco.”  The ousting led to the protest and resignation of many board member-artists, including Catherine Opie and John Baldessari.

The article goes on to include other realms of art interacting warily with celebrity and fashion.

MOCA is not the only artistic institution hosting celebrity versus significance face-off. Theater has been at it for years; Broadway not only remakes big, successful film musicals, now it takes on flops (“Newsies”) and indies (“Once”) while bemoaning the lack of original plays.

Now, there’s certainly nothing new about a clash between the “old guard” and the young, up-start newcomers.  “Established” and “safe” often mean the same, and the “language of the people” is constantly evolving (or perhaps “revolving” is a more apt term), so if one doesn’t at least keep an ear out, one will eventually become irrelevant.

If there are any hard and fast rules about art and fashion they are: Continue reading Cultural Swampland