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Posts Tagged ‘Jim Caruso’

Photo credit: Bill Westmoreland

I first interviewed Jim Caruso in 2009 when “Adaumbelle’s Quest” was just starting and Jim just finished starring in Liza Minnelli’s “Liza At The Palace.” Two years later, it’s a real honor to be able to interview Jim again and dedicating this interview to Cast Party on the heels of Jim Caruso’s Cast Party Benefit at Town Hall on Thursday, February 17 at 8pm, benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Produced by Scott Siegel, this very special edition of Jim Caruso’s Cast Party will be featuring a host of talent! Joining Jim Caruso, will be Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera, Billy Stritch, Lucie Arnaz, Larry Gatlin, Marilyn Maye, YouTube sensation “Miranda Sings,” Tony nominee Christopher Sieber, two-time Tony nominee Sally Mayes, jazz singer Hilary Kole, R&B tenor William Blake, jazz violinist Aaron Weinstein, Natalie Douglas, Klea Blackhurst, acrobat and comedian Rudi Macaggi and the Dueling Fiddlers.

Photo credit: Bill Westmoreland

Jim Caruso recently made his Broadway debut alongside Liza Minnelli in the Tony Award-winning smash hit Liza’s At The Palace!, singing, dancing and celebrating the music and arrangements of the late, great Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers. For his nightclub work, Caruso has won six MAC and two BackStage Bistro Awards for his sold-out New York shows at Birdland, the Algonquin Hotel, and Arci’s Place; and has also performed in runs at the Gardenia and Cinegrill in Los Angeles, The Vic Theater in Chicago, Libby’s in Atlanta, the Colony Palm Beach Hotel and the Connaught Room in London. He sang with the New York Pops in an all-star tribute to Kander & Ebb at Carnegie Hall, and returned to “The Hall” in a tribute to Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, hosted by Michael Feinstein. On the small screen, Jim was seen co-starring with Kathie Lee Gifford on Showtime Television in “Personal Assistant,” and co-starred on the Nostalgia Network variety sit-com, “Café DuArt” for two seasons. Jim and his vocal trio, Wiseguys, were invited to sing at President Clinton’s First State Dinner at the White House, and celebrated Bing Crosby in concert at Carnegie Hall with Rosemary Clooney. He guest-hosted “Broadway On Broadway 2000” in Times Square for a crowd of 100,000 theater fans, hosted the 2000 MAC Awards at Town Hall in Manhattan and has co-hosted the Drama Desk Awards webcasts for four years. For the past eight years, he has hosted a Monday night showbiz bash called “Jim Caruso’s Cast Party,” which was honored with a New York Nightlife Award, as was his Broadway at Birdland concert series. His new cd, “The Swing Set,” was released on January 11, 2011.

1. What made you originally start “Jim Caruso’s Cast Party” and how did you originally come up with the concept for it? I was doing PR for a nightclub that didn’t have much going on, busying myself writing press releases about drink specials. To entertain myself, I threw a Christmas party in the club for my pals. Everyone sang around the piano, and stayed till 3am. The next day, the manager, Lionel Casseroux, asked if I’d do it every Monday. I said no. A few clubs and eight years later, we’re still packing ‘em in and meeting some of the most brilliant, shocking talent in the world!

2. How do you come up with the line-up of talent for each week’s “Cast Party?” Cast Party is an open mic! I don’t come up with the talent at this point…they just show up! Every single week, I have about 30 folks wanting to perform for a packed house! I’m so lucky to be able to do it at Birdland, which is right in the theater district, and certainly one of the premiere music rooms in the world!

3. What made you decide to bring “Cast Party” out to Los Angeles? The Hollywood Cast Party has been a complete gift to Billy and me. I’d heard that The Magic Castle was planning to open one of their rooms for musical entertainment, so I called Matt Patton, who does the booking. He immediately signed onto the idea, and we were off and running! Now, we make the schlep out west every other month!

4. Do you plan on expanding “Cast Party” to any other cities? Yes! It looks like we’ll be taking Cast Party to Chicago and Las Vegas – and there’s a bit of talk about London. Can you imagine? We’re like the Ice Capades! The Jim Capades? I love a capade!

5. Who’s the most interesting person you’ve had perform at “Cast Party” in NY & LA? Who is the one person you were most surprised by showing up at “Cast Party?” Who is the one person who hasn’t done “Cast Party” that you would like to? Well – there’s interesting, and there’s ‘interesting!’ Betty Comden made one of her last public appearances at Cast Party, and sang “One Hundred Easy Ways To Lose A Man,” from Wonderful Town, which she wrote with Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein. Carol Channing spoke of her commitment to arts education, then did the “Ephraim, let me go” monologue from Hello Dolly, and launched into “Before The Parade Passes By.” Last week, Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura on “Star Trek”)discussed her friend and mentor, Martin Luther King, on the night of his birthday – then sang a stunning “Summertime.” There have also been memorable performances of a different kind – the man who yodeled Elvis tunes comes to mind, as does the woman who sang an original song about pollution. They were showstoppers in every sense of the word. I’m desperate to have my two heros – Carol Burnett and Dick Van Dyke – join us. I just know they’d have a swell time, and I’d be in heaven to finally be able to entertain them!

6. When you first started “Cast Party,” did you ever think it would turn into what it has become? I’m in shock and awe that Cast Party has become the entity that it has! I’m thrilled and proud and dazzled by the fun we’re allowed to have every week!

7. What has been the best and most difficult part about “Cast Party?” The best part of it all has been the friendships that have been forged, due to Cast Party. What did I do before? It’s a wonderful meeting-place for theater and music buffs and the people who love them! I’m not sure there IS a bad part, other than having to hear “Orange Colored Sky” a skrajillion times.

8. You’ve been doing “Cast Party” for almost 8 years, what made now the time to do a special benefit show for it? How did you decide which performers would participate? Scott Siegel, who produces a fabulous series of events at Town Hall, called me and asked if we’d like to do a Very Special Cast Party as a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to take our event to a huge stage, raise money for one of my all-time favorite organizations, and have some fun with my friends! It’s a big theater, and I knew we’d have to score some big names to sell tickets, so I just started calling my most fancy friends – and was thrilled that they said ‘yes!’

9. Liza Minnelli and Billy Stritch are two performers that will be performing at your Feb. 17 “Cast Party” benefit. How did you first come to work with them and what has been the best part of working together throughout your career and what have you learned from them? Billy Stritch and I have been best friends for about 30 years, which is shocking, considering we’re both in our late twenties. We met when we were both singing in clubs and living in Texas. We moved to New York around the same time, and have been hanging out, singing and making each other laugh ever since! One night, he met Liza while he was playing piano at a wonderful place called “Bobo’s.” He invited her to his show the next night, and stationed me next to her table, so that I could hear what she thought. That was the beginning of a friendship that changed both of our lives! He started arranging, playing and conducting for Liza, she asked me to open for her, assist her on Minnelli On Minnelli, and finally dance and sing in Liza’s At The Palace! What have I learned from Liza Minnelli? Are you kidding? We don’t have that kind of time! She’s a genius at what she does. Her work ethic is amazing – she will rehearse for eight hours non-stop. Her urge to please her audience is beyond compare. And her musical knowledge is something that might surprise a lot of people. If a clarinet is playing the wrong note in a chord, she hears it. Not surprisingly, she has a huge over-view of how showbiz works, and I love that.

10. What are you most excited for about the Feb. 17 “Cast Party” benefit? I’m most excited to get all of those brilliantly talented people into one room and tell them how much I love them for making this dream come true. We’re going to blow the roof off of Town Hall!

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“Adaumbelle’s Quest” 2nd Anniversary

Photo by Ben Strothmann

I am so honored to be celebrating my 2nd Anniversary here at “Adaumbelle’s Quest.” It has been very exciting to have the continued opportunity to bring my love of entertainment and interviewing to so many people. I’m very humbled by the growth of “Adaumbelle’s Quest” in this second year and hope that this expansion continues.

I may be the face of this site, but “Adaumbelle’s Quest” would not be without each and everyone of you:

Every performer and artist I have had the opportunity to interview. The fact that you took time out of your lives to answer my questions is truly a dream come true for me.

Every press agent who has taken the time to help me get so many of my participants. I would not have been able to interview them without your assistance!

Each and every person who takes the time to read “Adaumbelle’s Quest,” whether it’s on a daily, weekly, monthly, or a whenever I can basis. I’m thrilled to have your support and the reality that I have fans is another dream come true for me.

My many friends who provide me with guidance and support, allow me to talk their ear off about ideas, always there to answer my infinite amount of computer questions, and those who help me with my logos, business cards, and buttons. How would I manage this all on my own? I’m so lucky to have you in my life!

ITBA for your support and giving me a place to meet other theater bloggers.

My family for their constant love and support.

    Photo by Ben Strothmann

So once again, thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart for all of the time, support, and love you give to me and this site. I’m amazed by these two years, not only of the growth of this site, but how this site has affected my personal growth. I’m so fortunate to have it and I don’t take anyone who has ever had an interaction with this site for granted. Thank you for sticking by me and I hope you all continue to do so!

    1. How do you decide who you want to interview? Initially it was artists and performers I have been a long time fan of, but it quickly became an outlet to also promote new talent I’m introduced to.

    2. Who has been your best and worst interview? You’ll have to wait for the book on this one! (hahahaha)…Seriously though, I just feel fortunate I’ve gotten to interview everyone I have because it’s been a dream of mine to be part of the entertainment community and I finally feel like I’m starting to move in.

    3. What are some of the most popular answers? That’s really tough because everyone is so individualized in their answers, but if I had to choose, many people answer Meryl Streep when I ask “Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to?”

    It’s pretty divided between Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts or they don’t like corporate coffee places when I ask “Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts?” It’s also pretty divided between “Superman” or “Wonder Woman,” though every now and then someone gets upset I only give choices for DC Comics. The reasoning behind that is growing up I wasn’t a big comic book fan, so when I watched superhero cartoons on TV, I didn’t know one was DC and one was Marvel. To me it was just a superhero. Plus, when I was thinking of these questions, I thought if two superheros were to have it out, it would be “Superman” and “Wonder Woman.”

    For “Boxers or Briefs”…most people answer boxer briefs, but briefs do seem to win out more over boxes, unless they go commando.

    4. Favorite place to write? My apartment and sometimes on vacation, but anywhere that can just allow me to be with my thoughts and little distraction.

    5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “The impossible is something that hasn’t been tried”–Ernst Bulova. “You can’t get a yes without asking the question.”–Bob Trautman.

    6. What’s your proudest moment? The moment I realized I am finally living the life I always dreamed for myself, just in a completely different way than I imagined.

    7. Favorite way to spend your day off? Sleeping in, going to the gym, catching up on TV shows, hanging with friends, taking a nap, going for a walk, or drinking a vanilla chai tea latte.

    8. Favorite skin care product? Origins…Perfect World Toner, Perfect World for Eyes, Matte Scientist (which they recently discontinued…please bring it back!), Never A Dull Moment, Skin Diver, Checks and Balances, and Firefighter. I also used to love Susan Lucci’s hair care products and her Youthful Essence Microdermabrasion.

    9. Favorite TV Show? I’m sure there are many more, but this is what I could remember. Now: “90210,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Brothers and Sisters,” “Modern Family,” “Glee,” “Cougar Town,” “Mike and Molly,” “Hot in Cleveland,” and “Raising Hope.” Then: “The Golden Girls,” “Family Ties,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Saved By The Bell,” “California Dreams,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Melrose Place,” “Donna Reed,” “Bewitched,” “Punky Brewster,” “Mr. Belvedere,” “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Silver Spoons,” “He-Man,” “She-Ra,” “GI Joe,” “Superfriends,” “Wonder Woman,” “Ellen” (TV sitcom), “The Class,” “Gobots,” “Jem and the Holograms,” “Bette,” “Sordid Lives: The Series,” “It’s All Relative,” “Strong Medicine,” “Any Day Now,” and “The Practice.”

    10. Favorite Comedian? Ellen DeGeneres, Wendy Liebman, Sandra Bernhard, Jessica Kirson, Leslie Jordan, Chelsea Handler, and Julie Halston.

    BONUS QUESTIONS:

    11. Favorite kind of sundae? Cookies & Cream ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.

    12. Peanut Butter: Crunchy or Smooth? Smooth, so it spreads perfectly when I make my yummy peanut butter and cheese sandwiches!

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On November 29, 2010 at 7pm, Jim Caruso’sBroadway at Birdland” will be presenting an evening of amazing talent: “The Roads I’m Taking: the music and lyrics of Bobby Cronin!” Joining Bobby on stage will be fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participants Tituss Burgess, Autumn Hurlbert, Kate Pazakis, Andrew Kober, Erik Sisco, and upcoming participant Jenn Furman along with Gerard Canonico, Allison Case, Katrina Rose Diderickson, Carrie Manolakos, Ceili O’Connor, Dee Roscioli, Andrew Samonsky, David Gordon, Geoffrey Kidwell, Ashley Dawn Mortenson, and PJ Verica.

If you’ve never attended a Bobby Cronin concert, now would be a good time! His music will move you, his words will inspire you, and the talent (both his and those performing) will leaving you wanting more!

So come on down to Birdland on Monday, November 29 at 7pm for an unforgettable evening of music, song, and talent! Click here for tickets!

After Bobby’s concert, double treat yourself and stay for Jim Caruso’s Cast Party–Broadway’s open mic, for you never who might just step up and sing!

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On Monday, November 1, I went to see Gavin Creel at Birdland and gave him a button for participating in my blog last year! He put it on and now it made it onto Broadwayworld’s photo coverage! I’m SOOOOOO EXCITED!!!!!

Thank you Gavin Creel for wearing my button for all your pictures! Thank you Jim Caruso for allowing me to attend last night’s show! Thank you Keith for waiting with me after the show & taking my picture! Most of all, Thank You to my friend Gail for making me my buttons! I’m so grateful to you all!!!

Here are the pictures singled out….All photos by Monica Simoes, except the one of me & Gavin.


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On Monday, November 1, I attended the first of three concerts from Two-Time Tony Nominee and fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Gavin Creel‘s brand new show “Back To New York” at Birdland as part of Jim Caruso’s Broadway at Birdland Series.

Performing both new material, fan favorites and some fun surprises, Gavin is back home and NY couldn’t be happier. From the moment Gavin took the stage, he had the crowd captivated. Focusing primarily on songs from his new EP “Quiet” (which was released this past June), Gavin also performed a bunch of new material not on the album. Gavin’s new material shows his continued growth as a singer, songwriter (along with his amazing writing partner Robbie Roth), and performer. The new songs featured, but not on “Quiet” were “Doing It,” “Beautifully Wrong,” and “Favorite Chapter”  while some of the songs performed off of “Quiet” were “Love Fell Down,”  “Green To Grey,” “Lonesome,” and “Hot Ohio.”

No Gavin concert would be complete without a few surprises…for starters, Gavin brought fellow “Hair” cast members Caissie Levy and Steel Burkhardt up on stage to sing a song they all wrote together called “Flower Children” which is a song from their view of what’s going on in the world and what’s to become of the “Flower Children.” Another delight of the evening was when Gavin spotlighted his friendship Celia Keenan-Bolger (“Olive” from “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”) and performed a song he wrote for her for her wedding called “You.”  It was a beautiful song about finding the one you love.

Gavin ended the night on quite a high with a new song called “Get Up” about standing up for what you believe in whether that be in a personal relationship with someone or in society. Gavin is many things: an actor, a singer, a songwriter, a performer, and most of all, a genuine, kind, and hard-working individual who values life and the people he has in it!

With only two more chances on November 8 and 15 to see Gavin performing his show “Back To New York” at Birdland, I highly suggest you call 212-581-3080 to see if there are any tickets left!

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Be sure to catch Two Time Tony Nominee and fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Gavin Creel in his brand new show “Back To New York” at Birdland on Monday, November 1, 8, and 15 at 7pm as part of Jim Caruso’s Broadway at Birdland Series!

Gavin will be performing new material from his new EP “Quiet” which is an intimate collection of six original acoustic session songs as well as some favorites!

If you’ve never seen this dynamic performer on stage, now would be a good time to come see why he’s so great!

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Everything that has happened with the growth of “Adaumbelle’s Quest” has been a true dream come true for me! Tonight was no exception. Not only did I get to see and interview Kelli O’Hara at Feinstein’s at the Regency in NYC, but I had the very fortunate opportunity to get a picture with five “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participants all at the same time: Billy Stritch, Christine Pedi, Michael Feinstein, Bobby Cronin, and Jim Caruso! It was a real moment in time for me. Thank you Billy, Christine, Michael, Bobby, and Jim for taking the time to take a photo with me. It meant so much! Thank you Dan Fortune and Miller Wright for helping me have this wonderful evening! I feel so fortunate to be able to have moments like this and hope there are more to come!

 

Billy Stritch, Christine Pedi, Michael Feinstein, Bobby Cronin, Jim Caruso, Adam

 

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