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Posts Tagged ‘“Pirates of Penzance”’

Max von Essen is one of those performers who has it all…the voice, the talent, and most of all the personality. When Max von Essen sings, you never want it to end and when he’s on stage, he’s the focal point of the action. Starting his career off with a boom, he was a back-up singer on tour with the one and only Liza Minnelli and his star has continued to shine brightly. On Broadway, Max has starred in both the original and revival of “Les Miserables,” “Dance of The Vampires” starring Michael Crawford, and the 2000 revival of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” He also starred in “Jerry Springer: The Opera” at Carnegie Hall, “Finian’s Rainbow” at the Irish Repertory Theatre, and “The Fantasticks” at the Sullivan Street Playhouse. Max has been in regional productions of “The Baker’s Wife” at the Paper Mill Playhouse and “Mame” at The Kennedy Center. Other theatre credits includes productions of “Girl Crazy,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Dorian,” “Pirates of Penzance,” “My Fair Lady,” “Hair,” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” When Max is not performing in a show, he’s dedicating his time to many charities close to his heart including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Matthew Shephard Foundation. Currently, Max is skating around the country in the national tour of “Xanadu” as Sonny Malone, so be sure to check him out when he rolls into your town. For more on Max, be sure to check out his website http://www.maxvonessen.com.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? All my teachers (and old movie musicals!!!)

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? Haha, my range? Well, I’m a baritone so I have like a low G and then I can sing up to an A above middle C. But I have an odd falsetto and have played “Mary Sunshine” in “Chicago” and “Tremont” in “Jerry Springer The Opera,” so I’ve had to go up another octave and sing high A’s and B’s in the soprano range.

3. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Oh god, there are so many! I’d love to work on broadway with Brian D’Arcy James in something and in a movie someday with Meryl Streep. I mean, could you imagine?

4. What’s the best advice someone ever gave you? “Follow your bliss.” An older friend told me that when I was a teenager, and it guides me constantly.

5. What is your proudest moment? That is such a difficult question. My proudest moment is simply every time I feel like I’m living my life as a decent human being. That may seem cliché but it’s true. It’s not about booking the next big job or anything for me, but at this point in my life, I just strive to be a good friend, son, brother and uncle.

6. Favorite way to stay in shape? Eight shows a week. Other than that, I hardly work out. I hate it!!!!

7. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer Briefs. Although now that I mostly wear skinny jeans, I usually wear briefs. 🙂

8. Favorite skin care product? Haha, good old Cetaphil cleanser, Kiehl’s Eye Alert, and Mac Studio Fix! Must haves!

9. Favorite website? None that I can tell you about. Well, other than Facebook and Twitter. (I’m slightly obsessed).

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

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Books or Magazines? I love magazines. But I really should read books more. Grrrrr.

12. Favorite TV Show Theme Song? Easy…The Nanny!!!!! Love it!

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Alix KoreyI had the pleasure of sitting down with the always funny and insightful Alix Korey after seeing her in “Inventing Avi” at the Abingdon Theatre. It was a real joy to talk with not only a great comedic actress and powerful singer, but a genuine, passionate, and down to earth woman. On Broadway she has been seen in “All Shook Up,” Neil Simon’s “45 Seconds from Broadway,” “Triumph of Love,” “Ain’t Broadway Grand,” and “Pirates of Penzance.” She has also delighted audiences Off-Broadway in “The Wild Party,” “No Way To Treat A Lady,” and “Suburb.” She has released two award-winning solo albums and has been in numerous films and prime-time TV shows. For more on Alix Korey, visit: http://www.alixkorey.com.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? My mother. She was a frustrated opera singer and I was always taken to the opera/theatre from a young age. I don’t remember not being in theatre. I’ve always loved watching performances, especially Eddie Hodges in “The Music Man.” Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Karen Marrow also inspired me. I got to work with Karen in 1981 and I called her after “All Shook Up” ended and I said to her, “How many flops have you had?” She said, “Six.”  I said, “I just beat you with my seventh. I’m leaving NY and moving out to L.A.”

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? In my act “Glitter & Be Gay” I can hit the D and the E I can scream it on key, just not sing it, so I guess you could say an ugly E flat. The lowest note I can sing is below G or below middle C and I have to record those mid-morning, that’s the best time for my lowest notes.

3. Out of all the people you have worked with, who did you learn the most from? I learned about acting and teaching acting from my mentor Aaron Frankel. I’m an unabashed thief. When I did “Pirates of Penzance” with Kevin Kline, I learned about total commitment to something. I never got to work with her, but I love Maggie Smith, watching everything she does, I learned lessons in timing and about the tragedy of comedy. Working with Marian Seldes in “45 Seconds From Broadway” taught me about a total love of theatre. She loves theatre so much that every night when she was not on stage, she’d either be stage right or left listening to the show, whereas most actors when they are not on stage are in their dressing room waiting to go back on, but she loves theatre so much. She’s a very genuine and warm person. I’ve learned to respect actors a lot and how to function in this business. Actors are some of the most giving people out there.

4. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Denis O’Hare. He is brilliant. I got to meet him once and I was completely tongue tied. He is one of those actors that if he read a menu, I would go watch.

5. What is the best advice you’ve given someone, but not taken for yourself? Trust your instincts of what you need and want because everyone has advice for you and most of it applies to themselves and not you. That is one of the things I love about teaching – nurturing confidence back into young people who have been told “no” so many times and teaching them that there is no one answer or path to take. If you don’t trust yourself you will make the wrong choices.

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I’m a great Bridge player and crossword puzzler. My chiropractor taught me how to crack backs.

7. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Oscar Wilde. I could read his stuff and quotes forever. He’s always one of my three people I choose if I could have anyone over for dinner.

8. Favorite play/musical? Favorite that I’ve done is “Funny Girl” because it’s a fantastic book, wonderful journey, and good songs. Favorite that I’ve seen (and would love to do) is “110 in the Shade.”

9. Favorite way to spend your day off? Playing bridge, watching taped TV shows, being with my husband and dog.

10. Who do you consider to be your hero? My dad. He just passed away on August 26, 2009. He was an extraordinary man, with the best laugh. There was a joke I just heard that he would have loved. He would have loved seeing “Inventing Avi.”

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