Posts Tagged ‘Junie B. Jones’

I had the very fortunate experience of sitting down with the one and only hilariously talented Sarah Saltzberg after seeing “Miss Abigail’s Guide To Dating, Mating, and Marriage” (click here for my review)

A comedic genius, Sarah Saltzberg is the actress or writer you need to make sure your show is 100% laughable and enjoyable! On Broadway, Sarah entertained audiences for two years as “Logainne Schwartzandgrubenairre” in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Prior to that she created and developed “Logainne” in “C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E” (upon which “Spelling Bee” is based), which she co-produced at the Theatorium in NYC, and appeared in both Barrington Stage productions. Most recently, Sarah lit up the stage in Off-Broadway’s “Junie B. Jones” at the Lucille Lortel Theater, in “Fat Camp” as part of NYMF, and in her one-woman show “Dear Diary” at Ars Nova as well as throughout NYC as part of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. Sarah also entertains audiences with the late-night Broadway-themed improv show “Don’t Quit Your Night Job,” which she co-created and co-produces and she is the co-artistic director of Stage 13, a theater/production company dedicated to cultivating new and original stage, web, and film pieces.

Be sure to catch Sarah’s latest creation (along with Ken Davenport) “Miss Abigail’s Guide To Dating, Mating, and Marriage” starring Eve Plumb and fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant Manuel Herrera.

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to perform and always been interested in writing. From a very young age I liked to write my own things which I think has been very helpful for me. I’m also a major control freak, so as I got older, I grew very tired of being told what to do. When you’re an actor, you are in a very submissive position where people make decisions for you. It’s very hard to be in the driver seat of your career because you could be very talented and not have the right hair color or you’re too short. And “Spelling Bee” was actually born out of that process. My best friend Liz’s older sister had this idea to do a show about a spelling bee and asked me, my friend Dan Fogler (whom I’ve been friends with since college) and Liz, if we wanted to be involved. We were like okay and we created the show and characters and really wrote it for ourselves. We were like look, this what we do, we’re improvisers and creators, so let’s just do this show and at the very least it will be fun. Honestly with that show there was never any expectation that it would have life outside the three-show run that we initially did. I remember doing the show and after the very first audience learning that we were getting a very wide demographic response. People were like oh this reminds of when I was in grade school and I got out on my spelling bee or this reminded me of when my boss yelled at me. It was then that I knew we had tapped into something and then really moved full steam ahead with it. I produced it early on, before David Stone came on board.  As a performer and a creator I was never like I’m going to change the world with this piece of art. It’s like how can I create an experience for like an hour and a half that is really fun and that people have a good time and maybe they have a little emotional movement as well. For me, it’s never been about life changing, it’s like I want to create an experience that is enjoyable for people and I want to entertain them. That is the same with “Don’t Quit Your Night Job” and this show, “Miss Abigail’s Guide To Dating, Mating, and Marriage.”

2. Who’s the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? I love David Bowie and I love the movie “Labyrinth” and of course in my crazy dream I would create a musical of “Labyrinth” and David Bowie would be my co-writer and we would hang out and he would tell me all about his crazy times in the 70s. It’s incredibly far-fetched I know. I also feel that there are certain iconic people in this world that sort of go beyond musicians or writers and I feel like those are the people that are interesting and I would love to work with. For instance, Ken Davenport, who’s my co-writer of “Miss Abigail…” He’s a writer, he’s a very successful producer, and so he’s able to know like when I throw in some weird-dark joke and he’ll be like that is too weird and too dark for this show. We can not do that. He’s right most of the time. He knows what he’s talking about. It’s a real pleasure to work with someone who’s able to do many different things. He’s very patient and it’s been so great to work with him. I feel honored.

3. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? My parents are both child psychologists and they never really knew why I wanted to be a performer, but they were always super supportive of me and I know a lot of people who’s parents are not so supportive of them when they go into the arts. I was waitressing to pay my bills and my dad was like it’s much better to be a non starving artist. For the first year I was in NY and worked a lot waitressing. It was sort of soul destroying, but I would talk to my parents about the different people I would meet and as I was telling them, I thought if I wrote a play about the different people I met, people wouldn’t believe they existed, but I know they exist. My parents were like, well maybe you could use that. I was like of course I can. Instead of being like oh my gosh I have to go to work again, this sucks, I hate my boss, just being like I’m going to use this as character study. I used it as fodder for story telling because that is what I feel like I do, being a real story teller, and those odd jobs taught me how to retell a story in a susynced way that is also interesting.

4. If you couldn’t be doing what you are doing now, what career would you choose? Well, actually, I already have two careers…In addition to being a writer/actor, I’m also a real estate broker. It’s a full time thing as well and I work in Harlem and I’ve been there almost 10 years and I have a team of about 25 agents that help me run these listings. I do rentals, new developments, and sales. It’s always been important to me to have income that is not from the arts because I create my art from my heart and it’s never about money. It’s great when the stuff makes money, but my real estate career is where my money comes from. It’s interesting work because my worlds collide sometimes…I’ve gotten a lot of places for friends and have learned about the business side of the arts through this other area. I remember when “Spelling Bee” went to Broadway, people were like are you going to stop doing real estate and I was like, no I love real estate.

5. What’s your most embarrassing audition? Don’t worry, I will tell you. It was my first year in NY and I auditioned for “Stomp.” I knew it was an Off-Broadway show and that it was hip and edgy, but I didn’t know too much else. I sent my materials and they called me in and I was like great, I got an audition for “Stomp.” I show up at The Orpheum and there’s a drum kit on stage (Sarah to me: I know we just met, but you can get a sense of who I am and I’m not a drummer). The whole creative team is there and they’re like for some of you guys this is a call back and for some of you this is your first time here, so what we are going to do is have you go up on stage and do your best drum solo and I said to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” So I go up and every other person there has like black cut off gloves and spiky hair and tattered jeans and I don’t.  I’m called up third and we’re all lined up and as I’m in line, I look down the line and everybody has their own drum sticks. I said to the girl next to me, “Did you bring your own drum sticks or did you get them somewhere? She was like, “No, I brought them” and I laughed and said ” Could I borrow them when I go” and she was like okay. So I go up to the stage and the first few people did these crazy drum solos and then it was my turn and I remembered from the ad, “Don’t necessarily need to play an instrument, but you need to have a big personality.” I was like, “they want a big personality, they’re gonna get a big personality.” So I stood behind the drum set and I bang the drum with a boom, boom, while shouting I’m in “Stooooomp.” Nobody clapped and then I shouted “Thank Youuu” and I walk down the stairs to go sit down and remembered I had the girl’s drum sticks, so I had to walk back up the stairs and I whispered “Thank You, Good Luck” to her. That was my  worst/most embarrassing audition. But I said to myself, “Next time I’m going to see the show before I audition because that was a nightmare.” and now it’s just makes a good story.

6. Favorite skin care product? A good moisterizer, especially in the winter. I use Cetaphil, but years ago, I was like only the best, but the best was so expensive (it was like having a cocaine habbit, the best cost so much, and I thought I might as well have the cocaine, but I didn’t want that), and the Cetaphil was only $10 every three months, so I was like Cetaphil that’s what I’ll use.

7. Favorite kind of shoes? I like a very high heel, but I live in NY and walk around a lot, so it has to be very comfortable. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the very comfortable ones are very expensive, like Marc Jacobs, but you can walk around all day in them and they won’t destroy your feet. So, a very expensive shoe is my favorite!

8. Favorite comedian? I love Ricky Gervais, Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara. I’m a big fan of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. I feel “Saturday Night Live” is very hard for women and I feel Amy & Tina were like “nope, we don’t care what anybody thinks, we are doing our own thing.” That was very inspiring to me. I think it’s so awesome that they went onto their own thing.

9. Favorite TV Show? I love “Modern Family” because my friend Jesse Tyler Ferguson is on it and not just because Jesse’s on it, but also because I think it’s an incredibly well written, tight show. Every script is so well done. Every actor is so great, so well cast, and so funny. There’s always just a little bit of darkness and edginess to it and I appreciate that on prime time television. I’m a big fan of “Law & Order: SVU,” which you can tell because of the “Law & Order” music I put in to “Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage.” I also love “Breaking Bad,” so amazing, very dark. I love “Mad Men.” What are some classic shows that you love? Well, growing up, I would always watch “SCTV,” the old “Saturday Night Live,” Thursday night line up: “The Cosby Show” and “Family Ties.” It’s funny because sometimes I go back and watch them now and there were some very edgy episodes. Ken and I were talking about one the other day, I can’t remember what show, but it dealt with child abuse (Me: Oh “Diff’rent Strokes” when Arnold and Sam went to the photographer/bike shop).  I was like, wow, that was the 80s. I also love “The Golden Girls,” a big Bea Arthur fan (Me: I was more of a Betty and Rue fan, but I’m a little partial to Rue because I got to interview her for this blog before she passed away. Sarah: My friend Liz just wrote for Betty’s new show “Hot In Cleavland” and she was like Betty is super sweet. It was a real treat for her to get to write for Betty because she is such a big fan of hers).

10. Favorite website? Other than Facebook, my friend just turned me on to Modcloth, it’s a site with all “Mad Men” type dresses, but they are all around $50 and I’m like this is GREAT! They also have home decorations and I’m so into that.

11. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman.


12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? I enjoy when my dreams are very bizarre and I’m big into analyzing dreams like if you dream about mustard, you dream about…I really think I just dream about whatever I was thinking about before I fall asleep. A more fun thing to dream about would be Johnny Depp or John Hamm taking me out on an awesome adventure.

13. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that nobody knows about? I’m very good at making lanyard bracelets and by very, I mean that was my very first business. I was in fourth grade and I was like “I’m setting up shop. Who wants butterflies with their initials in it?” I had a whole box of materials and made my own patterns. Oh, it was intense. I always felt weird charging for them, so I’d be like “Sweatheart, shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I’m gonna cut you a deal and give it to you for free.” I would do that for everyone and then I was like this not very profitable because I just want to give them to my friends. So, if you ever need lanyard bracelets, Saltzberg is your girl!

Read Full Post »

In 2009, I was introduced to four amazingly gifted and talented singers/songwriters/composers: Scott Alan, Bobby Cronin, Katie Thompson, and Jonathan Reid Gealt, all of whom became “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participants. I have also been fortunate to attend a concert of each of their music.  Tonight, I had the pleasure of attending “The Music of Jonathan Reid Gealt” at The Canal Room. Jonathan’s music is sophisticated, contemporary, and at times quite humorous. He gathered some of the best musical theatre talent to sing his music tonight including the powerhouse vocals of Tituss Burgess (fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participant), Natalie Weiss, Lauren Kennedy, Jeremy Jordan, Bridie Carroll, Quentin Earl Darrington, and Zak Resnick. These performers not only knew how to bring Jonathan’s music to life, but how to knock it out of the park. I was blown away so many times tonight that a smile was kept across my face the whole time. One of the most touching moments was watching his proud mom see her son’s dream come true, especially after one of the songs was dedicated to her. Jonathan is on his way to greatness (he’s currently working on his debut musical “Forward” and a screenplay of his life). The next time his music is being presented, I will be there and hopefully you will too. For more on Jonathan and his music visit: http://www.jonathan-reid-gealt.com, http://www.myspace.com/jrgealt, and TheBestArts.com/jrsongs.

Read Full Post »

Come to “The Music of Jonathan Reid Gealt” in Concert this Monday, January 11 at 8pm at the legendary Canal Room in NYC. His music will be performed by some of today’s hottest Broadway stars including fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participants Tituss Burgess (Jersey Boys, The Little Mermaid, Guys & Dolls) and Katie Thompson (“R.R.R.E.D.,” “Giant”), as well as Lauren Kennedy (Spamalot, Vanities, Les Miserables), Jeremy Jordan (West Side Story, Rock of Ages), Quentin Earl Darrington (Ragtime), Alysha Umphress (American Idiot), Bobby Steggert (110 In the Shade, Ragtime), Zak Resnick (Broadway Boys), Stephanie Umoh (Ragtime), Matt DeAngelis (Hair), Kasey Marino (Hairspray), Michael Mahany (High School Musical, Spring Awakening), Natalie Weiss (Wicked, American Idol), Adam Armstrong (History Boys), Bridie Carroll (Grease), Rachel Potter, and Jonathan Reid Gealt with music direction by Josh Clayton (Finnian’s Rainbow, City Center Encores).

To sample some of Jonathan’s music prior to the concert you can visit TheBestArts.com.

Read Full Post »

Jonathan is currently working on his debut musical, Forward. The Forward demo recordings have gained buzz online and around the city with such Broadway heavyweights as Kelli O’Hara, Liz Callaway, Lauren Kennedy, Shoshana Bean, Michael McElroy, Jonathan Groff, Michael Arden, Lewis Cleale, Tituss Burgess, Max Von Essen, Marty Thomas, and more.

Jonathan’s music has been featured in concerts and venues in Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Manila, Japan, Australia, London, and New York including the Broadway in South Africa Benefits, UNSUNG 2007, Miracle on 13th Street, Performers for Peace, Cutting Edge Composers II, The MNNV series, The Laurie Beechman, The Duplex, The Triad, The Canal Room, and the MAKOR. He also wrote jingles for The Barn Theatre’s 2003 summer season in Michigan.

Jonathan is a performer as well as a composer and some performing credits include [NEW YORK]: Jason Robert Brown: In Concert (Birdland), The Music of Lucy Simon (Joe’s Pub) Unsung 2007 (BCEFA Benefit), The Secret Garden (Hammerstein Ballroom), Rags (The Nokia Theater) and Miracle on 13th St. [NAT’L TOUR]: Junie B. Jones [REGIONAL]: Les Miserables (Atlanta Theater of the Stars, Kansas City Starlight, The Wolf Trap), MameAnnie Get Your GunThe Sound of Music (Saint Louis MUNY), Thrill Me (Stoneham Theatre), CatsJesus Christ Superstar (Barn Theatre). [FILM/TV]: Kidnapped (NBC), Across the Universe.

Jonathan has appeared as a soloist with the Boston Pops under the baton of Keith Lockhart and is a graduate of The Boston Conservatory.

To learn more about Jonathan, his music, his upcoming projects, and to purchase sheet music…check out the following two sites: http://www.jonathan-reid-gealt.com AND http://www.myspace.com/jrgealt. This Monday, January 11 at 8pm come hear “The Music of Jonathan Reid Gealt” in concert at The Canal Room with performances by some of today’s hottest Broadway stars.

1. Who inspired you to become a songwriter? Adam Guettel, Jason Robert Brown, Andew Lippa, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Stephen Sondheim, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, my best friends, and my mom.

2. If you could have anyone perform your music, who would you choose? Everyone! Ha! I’ve been really fortunate to work with some of my favorite singers of all time. However, Steven Pasquale, Gavin Creel, Audra McDonald, Caissie Levy, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, Justin Timberlake, Laura Benanti, Kristin Chennoweth, Christina Aguilera, and Pink are just a few that are way up there.

3. Is there ever a time you thought about quitting? If so, what did you consider doing? Not really. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Although, I did want to be a professional baseball player when I was a kid. Massage Therapy is also great!

4. What’s the best advice a teacher ever gave you? Stay true to yourself and everything you do will be original.

5. Favorite way to stay in shape? Swimming.

6. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer-Briefs!

7. Favorite play/musical? As far as musicals go, I have 3. “Ragtime,” “The Secret Garden,” and “Sweeney Todd.” As far as plays go, “The Pillowman” blew me away. “Reasons To Be Pretty” was incredible.

8. Favorite TV theme song? The Flintstones.

9. Favorite website? Youtube. Is that sad?

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Superman all the way!

Read Full Post »