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Posts Tagged ‘Bernadette Peters’

On Saturday, November 27, 2010, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing cellist Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf, direct from the pit of “A Little Night Music.” What makes this interview so special to me is that I’ve known Mairi since I was 15, when we met at Buck’s Rock Camp in New Milford, CT, at which time her kindness and friendship meant a lot to a boy trying to find his way. It was quite exciting for me when we reconnected in 2002 as I saw her exit the stage door at “The Boy From Oz.” And now to be able add this kind of dynamic to our friendship is a real treat for me. Mairi has been a fixture in Broadway orchestra pits since her debut in “The Boy From Oz.” She has played in the orchestra pits of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” “LoveMusik,” “Sunday In The Park With George,” “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” and currently “A Little Night Music” which is running through January 9 at the Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street, between Broadway & 8th Ave).

On Sunday, December 19 at 8:30pm at Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Corneila Street, Greenwich Village, NYC) you can catch Mairi playing cello in “Joni and Johannes” (the music of Joni Mitchell and Johannes Brahms) along with Simon Mulligan on piano, and Randy Landau on bass with special guest vocalists Jessica Molaskey (“A Man of No Importance,” “Parade,” “Tommy,” “Crazy For You,” “Les Miserables,” “Cats,” “Sunday In The Park With George,” etc) and Mary Beth Peil (“The Good Wife,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Nine,” “Sunday In The Park With George,” “Women On The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”). For just $15 + one drink minimum, you will get a real opportunity to see accomplished musicians and performers live up close and personal! For reservations call 212-989-9319.

1. Who or what inspired you to become a cellist? It was my cello teacher in high school, Nancy Green, who I also went on to study with in college. I went to a music boarding high school, so I was away from home and lonely, and her style of teaching was so expressive. She taught us about the connection to every note, the vibrato, the tone, what you were trying to say, what the emotion was, what part of your body the note came from – were you trying to sound like an alto voice or a tenor? With all the different types of tones and voices, I often came up with a storyline to go with what I was playing. Discovering what I could do by holding one note on the cello was exciting, and cathartic. I often think about that time in my life when I play “Miller’s Son” here at “A Little Night Music” because that first “B” that you hold for a long time is like yeah, this is what I dug about cello when I was fifteen. I moved to the US for graduate school and had another phenomenal teacher, Judith Glyde, who gave me the confidence to go out and actually work. Then I started playing shows and it all made sense…that emotional story telling feel.

There’s a masterclass of Sondheim teaching “Later” that was filmed at my undergraduate school (some time in the 80s, I think). It’s odd to know that so many years after being there, I’d be trying to express the quality he’s talking to the singer about in “Later” and I’d be trying to bring that to “A Little Night Music.”

1a. What was your first Broadway show that you played here in NYC? “The Boy From Oz” although I moved here to play “The Last Five Years,” which I had played first in Chicago. Me: I had no idea that you played that show, I saw it quite a few times, but it was “Boy From Oz” that I saw you at the stage door and we reconnected. Mairi: Yeah, it’s an amazing community that we are in because we see each other again and again, even though it’s nerve-racking when the shows keep closing… but the energy keeps going!

2. Who’s the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Joni Mitchell, although even saying her name makes me a little breathless so I couldn’t imagine working with her! But that would be incredible. Me: You never know…whenever I ask this question I always put the person’s name in the tag so you never know who from Joni’s team might see this. Mairi: During that time in undergrad it was the music of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, Sting that I listened to when I wasn’t practicing. It was such an aggressively competitive classical environment, that I spent my downtime listening to their music. I actually worked with Sting recently and got to tell him that without “Soul Cages” I don’t know that I would be a musician.

3. If you couldn’t be doing what you are doing now, what career would you choose? That’s hard because I really like this. I guess I’ve thought about law every now and then. I was in graduate school for a really, really, really long time and at some point in that process I realized I could have gotten a law degree…hahaha.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? So much…There was a line in “Cast Away,” which I thought was in the movie, “You never know what the tide is going to wash up tomorrow,” although I’m not sure he ever actually said that! The idea is that you’ve just got to have faith that something good is going to wash up tomorrow. This gig, “A Little Night Music” is a spectacular job and it’s hard not to get depressed that we have only 6 more weeks – to believe that there will be something just as great. You see where we are and how much space we have. It’s such an incredible environment, not to mention playing for Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch every day. I have a little TV screen on my stand so that I can follow Hunter (Ryan Herdlicka) when he’s playing the cello on stage. Plus it’s run for over a year and I’ve never had a show run that long. You just gotta hope that there will be something else!

5. What’s your proudest moment? Anytime I get to play with my husband. He’s a saxophone doubler. Me: Have you ever played a job together? Mairi: Yeah, he’s played here at “Night Music”. We haven’t had a show together, but we’ve played shows together when one of us has been subbing. Outside of shows, we’ve done various gigs together. It’s fun, ’cause he works in the ‘other side’ of the orchestra (reeds/brass), so I’ve gotten to know a lot of those guys through him.

6. Favorite place to rehearse on your own? Somewhere that is cushiony with carpeting and tons of pillows. Anything that soaks up the sounds so I can hear everything, so when I go and play, I won’t be surprised by any little sound. To be honest I don’t like to practice. It’s a necessary evil. There are some people who want to practice every day, but I never felt that way.

7. Favorite way to spend your day off? At home, sleeping, watching TV, knitting, eating, and hanging with my husband.

8. Favorite skin care product? Cetaphil and Shea Butter (in the winter). I sadly don’t use any of those fancy skin care items.

9. Favorite website? Facebook. I’m hooked on it. At this point I have friends all over the world and it’s pretty cool to be able to keep in touch with them so easily and see what they are up to.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman of course!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? I can be an archer (you know with a bow and arrow). Me: Like Geena Davis. Mairi: Sure, but I don’t know that I have her strength. Those bows are heavy and super tension-filled, and my elbow sticks out a bit so it’s tricky when the string comes back after you release the arrow…

12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Dreaming at all would be great. Last night I watched the PBS Sondheim Gala before I went to sleep and oh my gosh, they had those six incredible women come on stage in those stunning bright red gowns: Elaine Stritch, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, etc. One after another they stood up and sang and after watching that special I was wide awake until 5:30am. I’m looking at 2 shows today on 4 hours of sleep…haha

13. When one of the cast members are out during a show, how does that affect you as a musician in the show? It depends. Sometimes if there’s a different key, we’ll pull out a different part depending on their range, but as to the timing, it’s all up to the conductor because they are the ones leading and making those choices. The great thing about this show, particularly with Elaine Stritch, is that you get a different theatrical performance each time and I love that.

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Christina Bianco has a voice that when heard, takes you to another place where all is beautiful. It’s full, rich, and most of all soulfully powerful! From theatre to stage performances, Christina sings her heart out! Her Off-Broadway credits include: “Forbidden Broadway Goes To Rehab,” for which she received a Drama Desk nomination, “Forbidden Broadway: Dances With The Stars,” “Tony and Tina’s Wedding,” and the recent run of “NEWSical the Musical,” (produced by fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Tom D’Angora and co-starring fellow participants Christine Pedi and Rory O’Malley). Christina originated the title role in the national tour of “Dora The Explorer Live!” Her regional credits include: “Rent” (The Weston Playhouse), “Beehive” (Riverside Theatre), “Evita” (Westchester Broadway Theatre), “Jesus Christ Superstar” (Helen Hayes PAC), “Candide” (Cunegonde), “A New Brain,” “Finding Nemo” (workshop), “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and “Raffi on Broadway” (Gershwin Theatre). Christina also performs as a soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and sings with her band “Brother Joscephus.” For more on what’s happening with Christina be sure to visit: http://www.christinabianco.com.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Many artists! Bernadette Peters, Bobby Darin, Martina McBride, Keely Smith, Ann Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson. The original inspiration though, was definitely Judy Garland. I was one of those little girls who saw The Wizard of Oz countless times and sang “Over The Rainbow” every chance I got. Then I found out she was 4′ 11″ like me and my love for her only grew!!

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? The highest note I can sustain is a high E. (I can trill to an F) My lowest note is also an E, but it’s not pretty.

3. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Hugh Jackman! Who doesn’t?

4. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? I’m a Dunkin’ girl!! I get a medium iced coffee when it’s warm outside. If I cheat at Starbucks, I get a chai latte.

5. Favorite way to spend your day off? I love walking around the city with my husband and my dog. I love people watching, finding a restaurant or store we’ve never noticed before and meeting other cute dogs on the street! The outing would have to end at ‘Sundays and Cones’ on 10th st cause they’ve got the best ice cream around.

6. Favorite skin care product? Clean and Clear ‘acne spot treatment.’ I keep it with my at all times. It saves the day!

7. Favorite store to shop in? BCBG Max Azria!!! I call it ‘the official outfitter of Christina Bianco’ because I’ve worn a BCBG dress to every major event I’ve attended.I can’t shop there often cause we all now how much ‘the biz’ pays, but I absolutely love the styles, designs and fabrics.

8. Favorite play/musical? My favorite musicals are “Into The Woods,” “City of Angels,” & “Evita.” I also thought the revival of “Damn Yankees” was musical theatre perfection! My favorite plays are by Shakespeare.

9. Favorite website? Gofugyourself.com It’s so much fun! I could kill hours laughing at the strange things celebrities wear and the commentary is usually very clever.

10. “Saved By The Bell” or “Beverly Hills 90210”? “Saved By The Bell.” But I was never a total freak about it. At that age, I think I was busy watching “Perfect Strangers” & “Full House.” TGIF on ABC ruled!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite scented candle? You can’t get it anymore, but Illuminations ‘eggnog’ candle.

12. Favorite hobby? Reading (I particularly love Jane Austin novels and re-read them all the time) and cake decorating. I’m not great and have no training, but I just love it!

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To be able to make someone laugh can be a challenge, but to make someone laugh for an hour consistently is a talent few have. One performer who has the wit & skill to do that is four time Mac Award winner & fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” partricipant Julie Halston. On Sunday, April 11, 2010, I got to see Julie’s new one woman show “The Cocktail Hour/A Reality Show” at Birdland, one of NYC’s most famous cabaret spaces. Julie’s show was presented by Jim Caruso’s Broadway at Birdland series. From comedy to song, Julie can do it all. She can take the most simplistic task, like reading an email about cookie sharing, a phenomenon sweeping the nation where people exchange cookie recipes, and turn it into the funniest thing you’ve heard by using her gift of inflection & storytelling.  Her punchline is that the people hosting these parties are probably the ones that shouldn’t be eating all these cookies, in fact they should probably become bulimic. At times Julie can be a little dark with her humor, but it’s all in good fun. One classic Julie Halston shtick is when she talks about how she was anorexic while living in Hollywood. She says there is nothing funny about anorexia, but if you don’t die from it then it’s not such a bad thing & you are incredibly thin. Julie also did a hilarious bit about kids and that if you can’t afford a babysitter, you probably can’t afford to have kids.

After Julie entertained the audience for a while, she brought up a very special guest, two-time Tony Award nominee & fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Alison Fraser who delighted the audience with a hilarious song about how she’s never been cast in “Law & Order”, but has been on “Law & Order: SVU.” Alison then treated the audience to a very touching moment when she sang “The Green Heart,” a song written by her late husband Rusty Magee from the show of the same name written by Magee and Charles Busch. There is an effort to bring this show back to life, so let’s hope it happens. If that treat wasn’t enough, Alison & Julie then graced the audience with a duet of “Gotta Have a Gimmick” from “Gypsy” which both have starred in, Julie in the 2003 revival with Bernadette Peters & Alison in the 2008 revival with Patti LuPone.

One other touching moment came towards the end of Julie’s show when Julie talked about her dad who passed away last year on Christmas Eve and she reinacted how her mom would read the hospital dinner menu to her dad, selecting what his dinner choice would be. When Julie came to visit him and asked how dinner was, her dad would say “Great! I payed the nurse $30 to go to Applebees and get me a burger, ice cream, and soda. I love this place.” Julie delivered this bit with emotion, sincerity, and that style of delivery only Julie can give.

Most comedians can make someone laugh, but it takes a special kind to keep that going.  Julie Halston knows how to keep the laughs coming with skill, style, and most of all humor! Next time Julie Halston has a show, I would highly recommend going to see it!

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Bridie Carroll is an award winning performer to be heard! She can belt the roof off a building and has the personality and stage presence to keep you captivated! Bridie has traveled the country regionally in North Shore Music Theatre’s “Disney’s High School Musical” and “Hairspray” (for which she won the Irne Award), Arundel Barn Playhouse’s “I Love A Piano,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” and “42nd Street,” The Boston Conservatory’s “City of Angels” and “The Rivals,” New London Barn Playhouse’s “The Music Man,” “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” “A Chorus Line,” “Annie,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers,” Aurora Theater’s “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” and “Godspell,” Mercyhurst College’s “The Apple Tree,” “Assassins,” and “The Fantastics,” and Conventry Conservatory’s “Anything Goes” and “Oklahoma.” Bridie has also been a soloist with the Boston Pops and currently she can been seen in the First National Tour of “Grease” as “Jan” alongside American Idol Winner Taylor Hicks through May 23. For more on Bridie, be sure to visit www.bridiecarroll.com!

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Every musical I listened to as a little girl! I never really knew who anyone was I was just attracted to the music and the lyrics! I lived in Hong Kong so wasn’t around to know who and what was popular. It was just the thrill of performing! Today it’s Audra McDonald, Marin Maize, Christiane Noll, Lisa Howard, Laura Osnes, Lauren Kennedy, Christine Ebersole, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Quentin Earl Darrington, Brad Bass, Adam Armstrong, Jon Gealt, Ben Roseberry, Alice Ripley, Debra Monk, Bernadette Peters, lets be honest my list could go on and on and on.

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? I think a low E flat to a high E flat… but not sure it sounds good! Currently I sing to a high E flat in the show.

3. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? Just my silly Minnesotan accent, which I think everyone knows about 🙂

4. What is the best advice you’ve given, but not taken for yourself? Oh gosh…well if you ask my friends I give a lot of advice! And I should practice what I preach! We all deserve the best and to be patient because everyone has their own journey in life. Everyone’s individual path is unique and special and we should stay focused on our own journey and not wish we were on someone else’s.

5. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Well it used to be Starbucks! But I am no longer allowed coffee or caffeine! So I am now a tea drinker, and I love TeaVana!

6. Books or Magazines? Books.

7. Favorite TV Show? Currently…..LOST and The Biggest Loser.

8. Favorite play/musical? “Follies,” “Man of LaMancha,” “Aida,” The Deaf West Theater’s production of “Big River!,” “August: Osage County.”

9. Favorite website? Facebook.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? um…..the perfect man? Whoever that is? Does that even exist….maybe just in my dreams!

12. Who do you consider to be your hero? My parents.

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