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Archive for September, 2009

Ann HaradaJudas & MeBe sure to catch fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Ann Harada in the New York Musical Festival “Judas and Me” through Sunday, October 11 at the American Theatre of Actors. This show also stars theatre favorites: Leslie Kritzer, Nikki Snelson, Dennis Stowe, & Jennifer Laura Thompson. For tickets and showtimes visit: “Judas & Me”

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Billy StritchBilly Stritch is an award-winning composer, arranger, vocalist, and jazz pianist. He’s worked with the greatest in both music and theatre including Liza Minnelli, Reba McEntire, Linda Davis, and Christine Ebersole. Since the age of 12, Billy has been delighting audiences with his skill, humor, and showmanship. During his time at the University of Houston, Billy created the musical group Montgomery, Plant, and Stritch. This jazz vocal group started out playing in local saloons, but before they knew it, they were crooning in some of the best supper clubs around the country. These gigs led the group to the JVC Jazz Festival where they got paired up with Mel Torme at Carnegie Hall which took them to becoming regulars at the Newport Jazz festival and toured Italy for four years with the North Sea Jazz Festival. The group did eventually disband and Billy made the leap to New York City. One night he was playing in a piano bar, when Liza Minnelli walked in, heard him play, and instantly hired him to arrange for her “Steppin’ Out At Radio City” extravaganza. This amazing pairing took Billy all around the world and continued with Liza asking him to associate produce her CD “Gently,” which earned two Grammy Award Nominations. He was also co-arranger with the great Marvin Hamlisch for “Minnelli on Minnelli” at the Palace Theatre in New York City. In 1994, Billy and Nashville writer Sandy Knox, wrote the Grammy Award-winning country song “Does He Love You?,” which was recorded by country superstar Reba McEntire and Linda Davis and has sold over four million copies nationwide. “Does He Love You?” has also appeared on Patti LaBelle’s CD “Flame” and most recently was performed on “American Idol” by Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson. A new path opened for Billy in 2001 when he was cast in the Broadway revival of “42nd Street” as “Oscar,” the piano-playing crooner. This is where he met the one and only Christine Ebersole and eight nights a week, they got to perform their show-stopping number “I Only Have Eyes For You.” Their enjoyment of one another led to many future collaborations together including their nightclub act “In Your Dreams” which they performed in 2004 at Feinstein’s in New York, The Cinegrill in Hollywood, and Manhattan’s famed jazz club Birdland. Their act led them to releasing a CD of the same name in November 2004. Their latest release together, “Sunday In New York”, also stemmed from their nightclub act at The Metropolitan Room in New York City. From solo CDs to guest appearances on many others, Billy is your go-to guy for a defining sound that will rock your soul. Billy can currently be seen in Las Vegas at the MGM with Liza Minnelli  in “Liza at the Palace” until October 1 and then they go down under for Liza’s Australian tour through November 3. Be sure to catch these two legends together…and you certainly catch more of Billy at http://www.billystritch.com.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? My Grandmother used to take me to see all the shows that came through Houston (my hometown) when I was between the ages of nine and 12. Those experiences greatly influenced my desire to be onstage; seeing Ginger Rogers in “Mame”, Barbara Eden (!) in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and my favorite Debbie Reynolds doing her nightclub/concert act. So it really wasn’t one particular person who inspired me, but rather all of those childhood experiences that worked together to ignite my desire to be a performer.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Hard to name just one, so I’ll name a few: Cher (duh), Patti Austin, Streisand, Sting, Trisha Yearwod and Martina McBride.

3. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I can’t think of one, but if I did I would probably keep it a secret!

4. What has been your most embarrassing on-stage moment? Luckily, because I am usually seated at the piano, there haven’t been many. But when I was in the revival of “42nd Street” on Broadway (in the small but pivotal role of Oscar the pianist) I was talking to a few of the dancers offstage, just chatting away, until I realized that I had totally missed my entrance in the “Lullaby Of Broadway” number. I was supposed to enter onto an elevated platfrom via an offstage staircase and instead had to just sneak on from stage left with a clump of people. Since I was just one person in a cast of 54, I don’t think anyone noticed – except the Stage Manager, who gave me a note after the show!

5. Is there ever a time you thought about quitting? Quit and do what? I’ve always felt that my talent was a God given gift and that I was meant to develop it and share it. I can’t imagine doing anything else – certainly I can’t think of another business where you get to sleep late, socialize in nightclubs, meet celebrities AND get paid for it!

6. Favorite website? I love Mental Floss (because I am a trivia and quiz geek), and I am an All That Chat voyeur, for sure. Also, Playbill Online gets checked at least every other day. You Tube is terrific, but I only go there if I have a few hours to kill, because one clip surfs you to another, and another, and another……

7. Favorite musician/singer? Pianists I love: André Previn, George Shearing, Bill Evans, Lee Musiker, Bill Charlap. Singers I love: All the ones I work with – Christine Ebersole, Marilyn Maye, Liza, Klea Blackhurst – and ones I don’t work with – Patti Austin, Cleo Laine, Mel Tormé, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, the list goes on….

8. Favorite play/musical? “Sunday In The Park With George” affected my deeply when I first saw it in the 80’s, also “Sweeney Todd”, “42nd Street”, “City Of Angels” and everybody’s favorite “Gypsy”.

9. Favorite TV Theme Song? This is even before MY time, but I love the theme to the old “Patty Duke Show” – I wish they’d bring TV themes back, but when you have to knock out an entire 30 minute show in 22 minutes, I guess a full theme song takes up too much time. It’s a shame, because now when we think back on shows from the 50’s to the 80’s, what do we remember most? The theme song!

10. “Mary” or “Rhoda”? Mary, of course. Actually though, Sue Anne Nivens was my fave. I love Betty White and have met her many times. She’s a delightful lady!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite kind of shoes? Prada.

12. Boxers or Briefs? I love Boxers, but personally I have a Border Terrier named Ivy who I’m hopelessly in love with. Is that what you meant?

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Liza at the PalaceIf you’re in Las Vegas from September 25-October 1 be sure to catch Liza Minnelli, along with “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participants Jim Caruso, Cortes Alexander, and Billy Stritch at the MGM Grand performing in “Liza At The Palace.” You’ll get to hear Liza sing her hits and pay tribute to her Godmother Kaye Thompson. The September 30 & October 1 shows are being taped for  distribution to Public Television and eventually DVD. This is your chance to see a true legend live on stage! Don’t miss out…

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“Memphis” Review

MemphisHockadoo…“Memphis” is a fantastical fresh new Broadway musical that entices you from the start! A musical that shines it’s light brightly on Chad Kimball who plays “Huey,” Montego Glover who plays “Felicia,” Cass Morgan who plays “Mamma,” & Derrick Baskin who plays “Gator.” David Bryan (keyboardist & founding member of Bon Jovi) wrote the lyrics and music to some stand-out songs: “The Music of My Soul,” “Colored Woman,” “Someday,” “Say a Prayer,” “Love Will Stand When All Else Falls,” “Change Don’t Come Easy,” “Memphis Lives in Me,” & “Steal Your Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Inspired by actual events, “Memphis” tells the story of “Huey” a young white radio disc jockey who shakes things up in an already shaken up time, by playing African-American music on his radio show and teaming up with “Felicia”, the African-American girl he’s been listening to for years. This ignites not only the Golden Era of early rock-n-roll, but a powerful story about love, passion, and breaking down walls. If you’re looking for a fresh new musical, this is the one to see, so get out your dancing shoes, find your soul, and get to the Shubert Theatre on 44th Street in NYC and go see “Memphis!”

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Hedda LettuceBe sure to catch fellow “Adaubmelle’s Quest” participant Hedda Lettuce this Wednesday, September 23 at 7:30pm at Comix in NYC for the live taping of her debut comedy CD. This is going to be a night of laughter like you have never laughed before. Come be a part of comedy history with the one and only Hedda Lettuce!

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Lee Rosen

Theatre, Film, and Television star Lee Aaron Rosen is delighting audiences in “A Contemporary American’s Guide to a Successful Marriage (c) 1959 at the Actors Playhouse in Soho until September 27. Other New York theatre shows: “Wet” (Summer Play Festival, Samuel Beckett Theater) and “Frankenstein” (La MaMa ETC).  Regionally, Lee has been seen in “The Matchmaker” (CenterStage),  “Mary’s Wedding” (Westport Country Playhouse), “The Member of the Wedding” (Ford’s Theatre), “The Game” (Barrington Stage), “Once in a Lifetime,” and “Loot and G-d of Vengeance” (Williamstown Theatre Festival).  On television, Lee has been seem in “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,”  and “Guiding Light.”  He has also lit up the big screen in such films “Company K,” and “Saving Private Ryan.”  You can hear his voice in several Rockstar Games titles, including “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” and “The Warriors.” When Lee is not performing, he can be found volunteer hist time at New York’s 52nd Street Project.  He received his MFA from NYU’s Graduate Acting Program.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Honestly, it’s impossible for me to pick one single person.  There are, of course, many famous people who’ve inspired me over the years, some more famous than others…and just as often, the people who inspire me are actors who aren’t famous at all, but stun me always with the quality and beauty of their work.

2. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? That no one knows about…?  Not really, but people who don’t know me well may not know that I’m pretty good at crossword puzzles.  New York Times puzzles, no matter what day of the week, are almost never a problem, but I particularly love cryptic crosswords—they’re more of a challenge.

3. If you couldn’t be doing what you are doing now, what career would you choose? I’d probably be writing and/or drawing comic books.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve given someone,  but not taken for yourself? “Don’t buy trouble from the future.”  I got that one from Richard Feldman, one of my acting teachers at NYU.  Why worry about a problem that hasn’t even arisen yet?  It’s easy to say to other people, but not so easy to practice (for me, at least).  I tend to worry a lot about the future, though I try not to.

5. Favorite way to stay in shape? I love rock climbing and yoga.

6. Boxers or Briefs? Actually, boxer briefs!

7. Starbuck’s or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Starbucks always…the words “tall skim chai latte” just roll off the tongue at this point.

8. Favorite website? www.avclub.com.  Comprehensive pop-culture criticism.  There’s a certain “house style” to their criticism…I love the way most of them write over there.  I don’t always agree with their reviews, but I respect, and can relate to, the way they think about their subjects.  They do great interviews, too.

9. Books or Magazines? Books!

10. “Gobots” or “Transformers”? Transformers!

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