Posts Tagged ‘Tony Award Nominee’

No matter the medium, Tony Award Nominee, John Tartaglia is the guy you need to grab your audience. John originated the role of “Rod/Princeton” in “Avenue Q” which premiered Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre before moving to Broadway in 2003 (where it won the Tony Award for Best Musical and John received a Tony Award Nomination for Best Actor). He then went on to star in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” on Broadway as “Lumiere” as well as “Pinocchio” in Broadway’s “Shrek The Musical.” He has been the host of the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concert as well as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ “The Leading Men Concert.” John’s one man show, “Ad-Liberty,” enjoyed a sold-out run at Joe’s Pub in 2005. Prior to theatre, John was one of the youngest puppeteers to perform on “Sesame Street,” starting at the age of 16 and continuing for the next 10 years. He has also starred in “Sesame English,” which currently airs worldwide, is an innovative workshop created by Sesame to teach non-English-speaking children conversational English in a fun, exciting, and interesting context. John created, produced, and starred in the popular children’s show “Johnny and the Sprites” on the Disney Channel as well as appearances on Disney’s “Bear in the Big Blue House,” “JoJo’s Circus,” and Discovery Channel’s “Animal Jam.”

Now John has taken his puppetry, theatrical, and producing skills to a new level of greatness as the writer, creator, and producer of “Imaginocean,” a brand-new live puppetry show for kids (and adults) of all ages. “Imaginocean” is a one-of-a-kind live black-light puppet show which takes the audience on an undersea adventure. Join “Tank,” “Bubbles,” “Dorsel,” and their three best fish friends as they set out on a journey of discovery. What they discover on this magical adventure is the true meaning of friendship! “Imaginocean” plays at New World Stages in New York City (340 West 50th Street).

What makes this interview so special to me is that in 2005, I was fortunate enough to take John Tartaglia’s Master Puppetry Class (co-taught by Leo Diagnault). I literally signed up because I thought how great would it be to take a class taught by John Taraglia. What transpired was being taught by one (actually two, because Leo was so amazing) of the smartest, dedicated, and caring individuals I have ever met. Since starting this blog, John has been one of the people I wanted to interview and after months of planning, it finally happened! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did conducting it!

1.  Who inspired you to become a performer? There are a lot of things that inspire me, but the two strongest inspirations inspirations would be my mom and my grandma because they both are performers and I grew up going to see them in shows.

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? In my regular voice it would be an “A” as far as the highest. As far as the lowest, I’m not exactly sure, but in school, I was trained for a while as a bass, so I know my lowest is pretty low. In my falsetto, I can go really, really high. We did some “Shrek” event and one of the people in the show double dared me to hit a note higher than I ever hit before and I hit it. He told me at the time what the note was, but I don’t remember now, but I know I have a really high rock falsetto and it’s come in handy a couple of times.

3. Who is the one person that you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Oooh, that’s a really great question. Ellen DeGeneres. I adore her. I think she’s brilliant. I’ve been told I have a very similar sense of humor to hers. I just respect her so much for so many things she’s done. I’d also love to work with Betty White.

4. Is there ever a time you thought about quitting? If so, what career would you choose? I have thought about quitting at times. This business is wonderful and amazing and there are so many great parts, but when you are in the public eye, it can really be hard and hurtful when people say things that are really harsh or you just lose your confidence or something doesn’t work out the way you thought it would and you think you’ll never work again, so there’s definitely times I thought about quitting, but I’m glad I didn’t. If I wasn’t a performer, I think I’d be a teacher or work with animals because I’m very passionate about education for kids and I’m a huge, huge animal lover.

5. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I have this weird thing I can do where I can put a plastic bottle cap in my mouth against my teeth and click it and by changing the space in my mouth I can make it sound musical.

6. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Totally Starbucks. I’m kind of obsessed with Carmel Macchiatos, but during the winter my favorite thing is a Gingerbread Latte. I also love the Huevos Rancheros Wrap that they have.

7. Favorite item off the $1 menu? I’m such a sucker for fries. Even when I’m trying to eat healthy, I always find an excuse for fries.

8. Favorite way to stay in shape? I’m one of those people that need to find a reason to go to the gym because I’m just not naturally drawn to it, but the thing I get the most enjoyment out of is swimming because it doesn’t feel like a work out, it just feels like I’m having fun.

9. Boxers or Briefs? I like briefs, though I try to avoid the tighty-whities, but I’m a victim of those sometimes too, I will not lie. I’ve never been able to do the boxers. I think there’s a skill that goes with that.

10. Favorite website? I’m a huge fan of Disney and Disney Theme parks, so I find myself going to the Disney Theme Park nerd website a lot where everyone goes on message boards and talks about what’s going on at the theme parks. The website is called wdwmagic.com. I love it!

11. Superman or Wonder Woman? For the crush factor is Superman, but I kind of love the toughness and kick-ass style of Wonder Woman.


12. Favorite ride at an amusement park? All my Disney friends are going to hate me for this, but, it used to be Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios in Disney, but I just had the pleasure of going on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal. It’s the most unbelievable ride I’ve ever ridden in my life.

13. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve read about yourself and where did you read it? A friend of mine was writing a bio up for me for a show I was doing and he went to my Wikipedia page (I didn’t even know I had a Wikipedia page, but I guess someone made it for me) and he said I think you should go to your Wikipedia page because somebody wrote something about you that I’m not sure is true. I said okay…so someone had gone to my Wikipedia page and wrote that he and I were living together in Hell’s Kitchen and he was my boyfriend of like four years. First I was like “Oh my God” and then I thought that was kind of sweet, but it was very funny.

14. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? “The person who you stand above today is the person you’ll stand below tomorrow.” My mom taught me very strongly and at an early age that you treat everyone the same and you treat everyone the way you want to be treated. I’m glad I learned that and that I apply that because there’s certainly been times where someone was an intern on a show and a few years later they’re producing something and I think Thank God I was kind to them and I wasn’t like oh you’re just an intern or a PA, because those are the people who are going to run the world. I see a lot of my peers not stay true to that and pay for it later.

15. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? It would be my partner Michael. He’s really amazing and been so good to me.

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Douglas Sills is a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominee for his performance in Broadway’s “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” With a stage presence, talent, a big booming voice, and good looks, Douglas Sills is your go to guy! His many other stage credits include the Broadway revival of “Little Shop of Horrors,” Encores! productions of “Music in the Air” and “Carnival,” “On The 20th Century” for the Actors Fund, “Moonlight and Magnolias” at MTC, and BCEFA’s benefit “Broadway Backwards 5.” On the road, Douglas has starred in the National Tours of “The Scarlett Pimpernel” for which he was an Ovation Award winner, “The Secret Garden,” and “Into The Woods.” Regionally, he has been seen in “She Loves Me” (Westport Playhouse), “A Little Night Music” (Kennedy Center), “Much Ado About Nothing” (South Coast Rep), “Mack and Mabel” (Reprise), “Othello,” “Cymbeline,” and “Merry Wives” (Cal Shakes), “The Philadelphia Story,” “Richard II,” “Henry IV”, “Henry V,” and “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.” Television audiences will recognize Douglas from his guest appearances on “CSI,” “The Closer,” “Numb3rs,” and “Will & Grace,” while film goers will remember him from “Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo. Douglas just completed a run as “Captain Hook/Mr. Darling” in Papermill Playhouse’s smash hit production of “Peter Pan” (which co-starred fellow “Adaumbelle’s Quest” participants Nancy Anderson and Zachary Infante). Douglas is gearing up for his next move, so until it’s announced, be sure to keep up with him on Facebook!

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? So many. And I look for fresh inspiration all the time.
An interesting mix Olivier, Gielgud, Richardson, Alec Guinness, Peter O’Toole…..and Al Jolson,

2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? Don’t know. Try not to take notice of absolutes like that. It seems only to enforce limits rather than encourage the spirit of an idea.

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

4. Do you have any rituals that have to do before each performance? How do you decompress after a show? Rituals change according to the demands of the piece.  Sometimes I jog to the theater, or do a recorded warm-up geared to the piece, read historically-related fiction about the period….but whatever it is, it’s generally solitary activity. Decompression also varies depending on the situation….ie: comedy or tragedy, musical or play, near home or long travel afterward,  friends in the show or not. Nothing too routine for decompression. Usually have to get back to let the dog out . She’s been my decompression more than anything….Care of something outside myself. I like to get home and bring something to my partner.

5. What’s your proudest moment? Having my folks attend the Tony Awards at which I was nominated and performed.

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I can dismember a body in 32 minutes.

7. Favorite way to stay in shape? My favorite way would be to eat whatever I like…but that doesn’t work. Ummm working is my favorite way to stay in shape generally. But I like to push myself to try new things….ie: did Bikram for a while. Tried a vegan regimen for a while. I get the feeling yoga is likely the best approach for me.

8. Boxers or Briefs? Boxers around the house. Briefs otherwise.

9. Favorite website? Dailycoyote.net

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Neither. Spongebob, Peter Griffin or Larry David.


11. Favorite quote? “Astound yourself with your personal courage everyday”  -Olivier

12. Favorite way to spend your day off? Strolling a shaded beach with my dog and my partner, looking for sea life in the shallows.

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On Monday, April 19, I had the privilege and honor of talking with the multi-talented, dynamic, and award winning Tovah Feldshuh after watching her host the “2010 Broadway Beauty Pageant.” I only had a few moments with her, so I got in as many questions as possible, but for the few moments I had, she was kind, personable, and eager to answer my questions. Tovah is a two-time Emmy Award winner (for her portrayal of Chezch freedom fighter “Helena” in “Holocaust” and on “Law & Order” for her work as defense attorney “Danielle Melnick”) and a four-time Tony Award nominee for her roles in Broadway’s “Yental,” “Sarava!,” “Lend Me A Tenor,” and “Golda’s Balcony.” She has also won four Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, the OBIE Award, the Theatre World Award, and the Lucille Lortel Award. Her many other Broadway credits include: “Irena’s Vow,” “Cyrano,” “Rodgers and Hart,” and “Dreyfus In Rehearsal.” Off Broadway, Tovah has been seen in “The Vagina Monologues,” “Tallulah Hallelujah!” (which was chosen as one of the Ten Best Plays of the year by USA Today), ” “Full Gallop,” “The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie,” “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” Roundabout Theatre’s productions of “She Stoops To Conquer” and “Mistress Of The Inn” as well as BAM’s “Three Sisters.” Her triumphant one woman show “Tovah: Out Of Her Mind!” sold out London’s West End at the Duke of York’s and culminated in a symphonic concert with Billy Crystal at Los Angeles’ Royce Hall. The Boston Globe named “Tovah: Out Of Her Mind!” as the best one-person show of 2000.

Film and television audiences will recognize Tovah from “Kissing Jessica Stein” (which she won a Golden Satellite Award), “A Walk On The Moon,” “Happy Accidents,” “The Corruptor,” “Brewster’s Millions,” “Friends and Family,” “Old Love,” “Nunzio,” “The Believer,” “Life On The Ledge,” “The Alchemist,” Toll Booth” (for which she won Best Supporting Actress Method Fest 2005), “Lady in the Water,” “Just My Luck,” and “O Jerusalem,” while television viewers will recognize her from “The Amazing Howard Hughes,” “The Cosby Show,” “The Cosby Mysteries,” and “The Education of Max Bickford.”

In 2008, Tovah acquired the rights to “Golda’s Balcony,” which she now takes around the country performing to sold-out audiences. She just finished up a run at the Old Globe in San Diego, CA.  For more on Tovah and to find out where she’ll be next be sure to visit: http://www.tovahfeldshuh.com.

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? I was on the wait list at Harvard Law School and won a scholarship to the Tarun Guffy Theater in Minnesota in acting and I thought the writing was on the wall right there, so I followed my fate.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? Oh wow, there are many. I would love to work with Fred Molina, among others.

3. Favorite way to stay in shape? I’m a runner. I run 4-5 miles everyday. I also love swimming and love yoga, but have not given myself the time to do either here in NY, but when I go to San Diego, I re-inherit a very nearby pool from the hotel I stay in, so I’m be able to run and swim and will be a much happier person and so will the small of my back.

4. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? I went up to a high D with my teacher and I sing to C below middle C well. I could sing that publicly, I don’t know about B below middle C. I would say the three octave range for sure.

5. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Well in my situation, I would say without hesitation Andrew Harris Levy, my life partner.

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With the talent and personality, it’s no wonder Jan Maxwell is a 4-time Tony Award nominee, with her two most recent nominations this current season for “The Royal Family” and “Lend Me A Tenor.” She is also a Drama Desk Award winner (updated: Jan won her 2nd award tonight for “The Royal Family”) and 5-time nominee as well as a 2-time Outer Critics Circle Winner & 5-time nominee. Jan is one of the few performers with the most impeccable comedic timing of our times. When Jan is on stage, the audience is paying attention. She can make your theatre experience one you will never forget! Her other Broadway credits include “Coram Boy” (Tony & Drama Desk Nominee), “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (Drama Desk Award Winner, Tony & Outer Critics Circle Nominee), “Sixteen Wounded” (Drama Desk Nominee), “A Doll’s House” (Outer Critics Circle Nominee), “The Sound of Music” (Outer Critics Circle Nominee), “The Dinner Party” (Outer Critics Circle Award Winner), Brian Friel’s “Dancing At Lughnasa” and “City of Angels.” Off-Broadway, Jan has delighted audiences in Howard Barker’s “Scenes From An Execution” (Drama Desk Nominee) and “Camille,” Anton Dudley’s “Substitution,” “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” (Drama Desk & Outer Critics Circle Nominee), Tina Howe’s translation of lonesco’s “The Bald Soprano,” Jules Feiffer’s “A Bad Friend,” Israel Horovitz’s “My Old Lady” (Lortel Award winner, Drama Desk Nominee), “Opening Doors,” Alan Ayckbourn’s “House and Garden,” and “The Seagull.”  Jan’s television credits include PBS’ “AIDS: Changing the Rules,” “Law & Order,” and “Gossip Girl.” Jan can currently be seen in the 2010 Tony Nominated revival of “Lend Me A Tenor.”

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? Both my mother and father. My father is quite the ham. He did community theatre in Fargo, ND, where I was born and also wrote sketches and plays. My mother, though, did the leg work for the few opportunities there were for me to experience the arts in the area. She would find theatre and dance programs and tell me about them; then call, sign me up, and drive me back and forth.

2. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? I don’t know. Christopher Guest, Steve Buscemi, Edward Albee . . . too many to list.

3. Is there ever a time you thought about quitting? If so, what career would you choose? Umm . . . I think this business quits you before you quit it.  But I’ve always wanted to be in a lot of different professions. I think that’s why I act, so I can be all those things I want to be:  marine biologist, veterinarian, junkie . . .

4. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Shakespeare – I like epic dreams.

5. What’s the best advice you’ve given someone, but not taken for yourself? Don’t go into acting.

6. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I can tie a cherry stem into a knot in less than 15 seconds.

7. Favorite skin care product? I wish I could find one. I keep trying different ones, which is probably the worst thing you can do.

8. Favorite play/musical? Too hard to choose.

9. Favorite website? Google.

10. “Mary” or “Rhoda”? Mary . . . Hartman, though.


11. Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts? What do you order? Neither. Caffeine is banned after noon. Once, my stage manager, Matthew Melchiorre at Coram Boy, wouldn’t allow me to have it at all. Especially if I have a smaller part. I become a bit obnoxious start trouble backstage.

12. Favorite hobby? Staring at an empty wall (unless I have coffee, and then it’s bouncing off that wall . . . )

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Michael McElory has one of the best males voices on Broadway. His voice has the power to transport you from reality to a heavenly world where all is good. Michael is the founder of the “Broadway Inspirational Voices,” a group of Broadway actors, who come together and volunteer their time and talent to perform traditional American Music with an emphasis on Gospel all around the country. He has been nominated for both a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for his role in the Roundabout Theatre/Deaf West’s Broadway production of “Big River” in 2004. Michael has also belted out in such Broadway shows as “Rent,” “The Wild Party,” “The Who’s Tommy,” “Miss Saigon,” “Patti LuPone on Broadway,” and “High Rollers.” Off-Broadway, Michael has entertained audiences in “Some Men” (Second Stage), “Blue” (also with Roudabout Theatre), “Violet” (Playwrights Horizon), and “Richard III” (NYSF). On-tour and regionally, Michael has been seen in “Big River” for which he won the 2006 Helen Hayes Award, “Sarafina,” “Broadway Three Generations,” “Blue,” and “Angels in America I & II.” On Television, Michael has light up the screen in “Cantebury Law,” “Love Monkey,” “All My Children,” and “Spin City.” Currently Michael can be seen touring the country in “Rent” as Tom Collins (which he also played on Broadway in the final cast, which is available on DVD).

1. Who inspired you to become a performer? I was inspired by my mother. Growing up in Ohio, she would take me to see all the tours that came through Cleveland. I saw the National tours of “Porgy and Bess,” “The Wiz,” “West Side Story,” “Best Little Whorehouse,”…I loved it.

2. What has been your best and worst experience in a show? The Deaf West Production of “Big River” was definitely a highlight for many reasons. I’d never done a show like that. I learned sign language and gained a new perspective through another’s experience.

My worst experience shall remain nameless. The funny thing is I didn’t know it was an awful experience until many years later when I looked back.

3. Do you have any strange or unusual talent that no one knows about? I don’t think so. Does that make me boring? The only thing I can think of is I love to sing off key. Love it.

4. Who is the one person you haven’t worked with that you would like to? I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some incredible folks: Eartha Kitt, Leslie Uggams, Phylicia Rashad, George Wolfe, Michael Greif, Graciela Danielle, Jeanine Tesori, Michael John LaChiusa. Can’t think of anyone offhand that I’m dying to work with. I just take each experience as it comes. I’ve been really blessed.

5. Favorite store to shop in? Macy’s. They have clothes that fit me.

6. Favorite way to stay in shape? Go to the gym 6 days a week.

7. Boxers or Briefs? Hmmmm   pass   lol.

8. Favorite pastime? Cooking for friends.

9. Favorite website? Amazon.com. They love me. I buy all my new books, dvd, music, and electronics on this site. Youtube is a close second. Love watching footage of seasoned and new performers.

10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Wonder Woman. The theme song alone puts her over the top.


11. What’s the best advice you’ve given, but not taken for yourself? Be present. Live fully in the moment.

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