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Posts Tagged ‘Billy Stritch’

Happy Anniversary! I am really excited and honored to be celebrating my one year anniversary! “Adaumbelle’s Quest” is a dream come true for me. I would like to take this opportunity to send a big, huge “THANK YOU” to  everyone that has given their time to “Adaumbelle’s Quest” over this past year…from my participants to the press agents who helped get some of my participants to my dedicated and wonderful fans to those who helped get “Adaumbelle’s Quest off the ground which I could not have done on my own. I have thoroughly enjoyed this first year of “Adaumbelle’s Quest” and look forward to the coming year.

To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to interview myself for this special day and let my fans and participants learn a little bit more about me.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer/blogger? Every actor, artist, and performer I’ve ever been a fan of, plus every participant of “Adaumbelle’s Quest” (after all if they didn’t inspire me, I probably wouldn’t have interviewed them). Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to entertain people. I never really knew how I would do that, I just thought it would happen, but eventually I learned. I always enjoyed making people laugh with my stories and parody lyrics. The comedians that inspired my style of comedy were Ellen DeGeneres, Sandra Bernhard, and fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Wendy Liebman. It wasn’t until an open mic night while volunteering with AIDS Action in Boston in 1999 that I thought about pursuing comedy as a potential career. That night was magical with all of us volunteers performing, including fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant CeyJay Jumo-as. After 7 years of trying to make it as a comedian, I took what I thought was going to be a hiatus, but instead turned out to be a retirement. During that time I sure did miss entertaining people on-stage and thought very hard about what my next move would be. It wasn’t until I attended fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Gavin Creel’s concert at The Zipper Factory and heard him sing “The Upperhand,” that I knew something was going to come my way. The song is all about letting “The Upperhand” guide you and that is just what I did. You see, as a theatre lover, I would read all the interviews on Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, and Broadway.com and thought to myself, I would love to interview the artists and performers I admire and ask them what I consider to be the everyday burning questions. One day at work, I was sitting in the lunch room with some of my coworkers and we were talking and I was telling them my thoughts and next thing I knew we were rattling off questions and potential titles to call my blog. I immediately thought of “Adaumbelle” because of the history behind the name (which you can read by clicking on the “Adaumbelle’s Origin” tab) and “Quest” came out of the fact that I’m on a quest to get answers to my burning questions.  With the help of a lot of people, I started researching blog sites and decided to settle here at WordPress.com. With the popularity of Myspace and Facebook, I started “friending” the artists and performers I wanted to participate, sent them e-mails asking to them be part of “Adaumbelle’s Quest” and next thing I knew, I started getting responses and “Adaumbelle’s Quest” was born into reality.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t interviewed that you would like to? That’s not fair to make me single out just one person I still want to interview, so I will list a few…Dolly Parton, Liza Minnelli, Cyndi Lauper, Joan Rivers, Cheyenne Jackson, Lynda Carter, Cher, Chelsea Handler, RuPaul, John Tartaglia, Tyler Maynard, Kathy Griffin, Stephanie J. Block, Betty White, and so, so, so, so many others that I could spend all day listing names.

3. Who do you consider to be your hero? My parents and grandparents.

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? My grandparents, so I can spend more time with them and update them on what’s been happening since they’ve been gone.

5. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Vanilla Chai Latte with Skim Milk. Most of the time it’s Starbuck’s, but if I could go to an independent coffee shop I would. Oh how I do miss The Factory (they used to be in the West Village in NYC), not only did they make the BEST vanilla chai latte, it was just a great place to hang out.

6. Favorite way to stay in shape? By watching what I eat, and by watching I mean watching it go from my plate to my mouth. When that doesn’t work, I enjoy going for a walk to get a vanilla chai latte and lifting the cup to and from my mouth for that extra bit of exercise.

7. Boxers or Briefs? Briefs because they accentuate the positive.

8. Favorite website? Besides, “Adaumbelle’s Quest,”  Olivia Newton-John.comDollymania.net, Amazon.com, and Facebook.

9. Favorite TV Show Theme Song? “Wonder Woman,” “Patty Duke,” “Mr. Ed,” “Punky Brewster,” “Jem and the Holograms,” “Beauty and The Beast,” “Family Ties,” “Silver Spoons,” “Sister Kate,” “Diff’rent Strokes,” “The Facts of Life,” “Saved By The Bell,” “California Dreams,” and “Sordid Lives: The Series.”

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Best holiday gift ever? My signed and framed picture of me and Olivia Newton-John swimming with dolphins.

12. Favorite play/musical? To pick one is very, very difficult, but I will say the one musical that really changed me was “Tommy” because it was a show I had no desire whatsoever to see and afterwards I left the theatre singing and dancing. That experience is what I consider to be “The Power of Broadway.”

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Two-time Tony Award Winning Actress Christine Ebersole knows how to entertain whether it’s Broadway, cabaret, television, or  feature films. On Broadway, she has won two Tony Awards for “Lead Actress in a Musical” for “42nd Street” & “Grey Gardens” and was nominated for “Lead Actress in a Play” for “Dinner At Eight.” She made her Broadway debut in “Angel Street” in 1976. Other Broadway credits include “I Love My Wife” with Joanna Gleason & James Naughton, “On The Twentieth Century” with Kevin Kline and Imogene Cocoa, Agnes de Millie’s revival of “Oklahoma” (where she put her signature on the role of “Ado Annie”), “Camelot” with Richard Burton, Stephen Sondheim’s “Getting Away With Murder,” “The Three Sisters,” “Steel Magnolias,” and “Blithe Spirit.” Off-Broadway, Christine has been honored with an Obie, Outer Circle Critics, and Drama Desk Awards for “Best Actress” in a Musical” for “Grey Gardens” (before it moved to Broadway) as well as an Outer Circle Critics & Obie Award for her performance in “Talking Heads.”

In addition to theatre Christine has delighted audiences on television for over 20 years. During her one year tenure on ABC’s “One Life To Live,” Christine received an Emmy Nomination for her role as “Maxie McDermott.” She also starred on “Saturday Night Live” from 1981-1982. Her numerous guest starring and recurring roles include USA’s “Royal Pains,” “Samantha Who?,” “Cashmere Mafia,” “Lipstick Jungle,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Will & Grace,” “Related,” “Rachel Gunn, R.N.,” “Ally McBeal,” “Crossing Jordan,” and “Murphy Brown.” Her TV movie credits include “Mary and Rhoda”, “Gypsy” with Bette Midler, “Dying to Love You,” “The Dollmaker” with  Jane Fonda, USA’s “Unexpected Family” and “Unexpected Life”  (both with Stockard Channing) as well as “Double Platinum” with Diana Ross.

Her feature film credits include “Amadeus,” “Tootsie,” “Thief of Hearts”, Billy Cosby’s “Ghost Dad,” “Folks!,” “Dead Again,” “My Girl 2,” “Richie Rich,” “Black Sheep,” and ‘Til There Was You.”

As if theatre, television, and movies weren’t enough, Christine also entertains crowds with her sold-out cabaret shows (many times performing with the one and only Billy Stritch, who is also a fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant). She has performed in such legendary cabaret venues as Birdland, Feinstein’s At The Regency, The Metropolitan Room, and Cinegrill. Her CDs include: “Live at the Cinegrill,” “In Your Dreams,” and “Sunday In New York” (both with Billy Stritich).

You can catch Christine and Billy in concert together from December 2-5 at Birdland in New York City performing their holiday extravaganza “Town & Country Christmas,” featuring seasonal classics from their past shows as well as some brand-new material. They are sure to sell out fast, so get your tickets now! For more on Christine Ebersole, be sure to visit: http://www.christineebersole.com.

1. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? Lowest is a D below middle C.  Highest is an E above high C.

2. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I play the nose trumpet, but everyone knows that.

3. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Alan Rickman.

4. Who do you consider to be your hero? Luke Rudkowski.

5. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Paris.

6. What was your first fan encounter like? I don’t remember.

7. If you couldn’t be doing what you are doing now, what career would you choose? Wealthy.

8. Favorite play/musical? “Grey Gardens.”

9. Favorite website: www.wearechange.org.

10. “Mary” or “Rhoda”? They are both friends of mine.

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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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