Advertisement

Archive

Archive for the ‘Theater Buff’ Category

Theater Buff: Transport Group’s David T. Patterson

March 22nd, 2017 Comments off

This month’s Theater Buff offers you a slice of Americana via the good looks and charm of David T. Patterson, currently starring in Transport Group’s ambitious William Inge repertory of Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba.

(Photo provided by David T. Patterson via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo provided by David T. Patterson via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
David T. Patterson

Hometown:
Tampa, Florida

You’re tackling two William Inge plays: Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba. That must have been an intense audition process — what was it like?
The initial audition was just another day at Pearl Studios. But the callback process was a trip. It was a chemistry read with the four girls they were considering for Madge, and it was the scene (spoiler alert) where my character breaks down, kisses her passionately, and then carries her offstage.

I remember frantically googling “do you kiss in a callback” on the J train heading over that morning, ’cause I had no idea what the protocol was for that. In what felt like a truncated episode of The Bachelor, I did the scene twice with each different girl. The scene was so different every time, which I loved, and thankfully I brought ChapStick and Listerine breath strips that day.

David T. Patterson in 'Picnic.' (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

David T. Patterson in ‘Picnic.’ (Photo: Carol Rosegg via The Broadway Blog.)

For those not familiar with Inge’s work, how would you describe these plays in terms of their place in American theater history?
Inge was a contemporary of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, and was actually more initially successful than they were. These plays explore American loneliness, and yearning like no other playwright since. Inge has a beautiful mix of the poetic and the quotidian.

Picnic is a true ensemble piece. There are no set changes and no real breaks in storytelling. Come Back, Little Sheba was also groundbreaking in that it was one of the first plays to ever open a discussion on alcoholism, gender roles and domestic abuse. Both shows have very strong, beautifully written female characters, and Come Back, Little Sheba is told completely from one of their points of views. Inge was way before his time in a lot of ways.

What has been director Jack Cummings III’s approach to these plays?
It’s been all about the text and the acting with these productions, which is so exciting. It’s pared down. Simple set. With a beautiful, original score by Michael John LaChiusa featuring the vocal stylings of our very own Hannah Elless and some really gorgeous lighting. Jack gave the cast a lot of freedom to explore and embody these characters, which is so appreciated. He made a point to honor what Inge intended and focused on the humanity, loneliness, and yearning of the two pieces.

Transport Group

In Picnic, you portray Hal, a ‘drifter.’ If you were to wander off for a few months, where would you head and why?
I’d backpack through Europe. There is so much history and so many cultures to explore, as well as cuisines to try and people to meet. You can be in a completely different world in less than two hours. Also, I’ve always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Make the jaunt up from Georgia to Maine, then roam around New England some. I love being in nature and I love eating lobster. Win-win.

If I weren’t a performer, I would be: 
In advertising. Don Draper, minus the chauvinism, womanizing, and secret past.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
Intermission. The show is under way, those initial nerves are gone, you’ve established a rapport with the audience. Plus, I can go back to the dressing room and goof off with John Cariani.

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
Lillie’s Victorian Establishment on 49th Street in midtown is super classy and near all the theaters. Good Old Fashions, with a cozy Old World feel. And for a solid beer list and a quieter spot to talk, Hurley’s Saloon is a great spot to decompress after a show. Unless it’s fight night.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to: 
Either of New York City’s botanical gardens. They’re both far away, so it’s definitely a trek, but worth it! I’m a big fan of the Orchid Festival in the Bronx and the Cherry Blossom Festival in Brooklyn. I also love Smorgasburg, which is a huge food truck/stand outdoor market. The one in Williamsburg is great because it’s right on the water. And I love the Brooklyn Bridge Park. I’m a park guy. #sorrynotsorry

(Photo courtesy of David T. Patterson via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo courtesy of David T. Patterson via The Broadway Blog.)

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Montana. Near Big Sky. On my own ranch.

My workout “secret” is:
Meal prep. Technically it’s outside of the gym, but the kitchen is where the real progress is made. Making/bringing your own meals isn’t only healthy, but it’s also cost effective. And don’t skip leg day.

(Photo courtesy of David T. Patterson via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo courtesy of David T. Patterson via The Broadway Blog.)

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
A great smile and laugh. A sense of humor is super important to me. As well as good dental hygiene.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
Duolingo. Technically it’s an app, but it’s free and can help you learn a language on the go. Factcheck.org is also a pretty useful site these days, too…

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Was very sickly and scrawny as a kid. Severe peanut allergy, severe asthma, plus lactose intolerant. I was “that” kid. The kid who sat alone in a corner every day during lunch because if I were near a PB&J I’d break out in hives and pass out.

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
Batman.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Batman.

Transport Group’s Picnic and Come Back, Little Sheba play through April 16 at The Gym at Judson. Click here for tickets. 

 

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo

Theater Buff: ‘Big River”s Andrew Cristi

January 20th, 2017 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. We’re sailing downriver this month with Andrew Cristi, who will be appearing in the New York City Center Encore! production of Big River. It’s been more than 30 years since the show first premiered on Broadway and will be directed by Lear DeBessonet.

Andrew Cristi (Photo: Karen Sieber via The Broadway Blog.)

Andrew Cristi (Photo: Karen Sieber via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
Andrew Cristi

Hometown:
Glenview, IL 

Big River reinterprets Mark Twain’s classic tale of Huckleberry Finn. What are some of your favorite books and authors?
The Road (Cormac McCarthy), The Giver (Lois Lowry), and The Last Lecture (Randy Pausch & Jeffrey Zaslow).

Big River City CenterWhat was your audition like for director Lear DeBessonet and choreographer Josh Rhodes?
I sang “Rain Song” from 110 In The Shade. Lear was very quiet and most of my interaction was with casting director, Jay Binder. After I sang Jay said, “You are the first person to ever sing this song at an audition and make it work.” It was a great confidence booster.

Next, I had to read a scene. I was extremely happy to do a Southern accent considering I’m almost never asked to do one. Big River is not a dance show, so the dance callback was very simple. (My favorite kind!) It was all about energy and personality. I can’t jump into the splits, but I will shatter the glass with my chutzpah. That’s Yiddish for “shameless audacity.”

Later that night I told my boyfriend that I was pretty sure an offer was coming. I’m not one to verbalize things like that usually, but sometimes you just know. Chutzpah!

Andrew Cristi (Photo: Karen Sieber via The Broadway Blog.)

Andrew Cristi (Photo: Karen Sieber via The Broadway Blog.)

Huck’s adventures include discovering new regions as he drifts down the Mississippi. How have your own travels—growing up in the Chicago area as well as Thailand—influenced your perspective on life, both professionally and personally?
I have been incredibly fortunate in my upbringing. I went to an international school in Thailand until I was 13. I was surrounded by kids and teachers from all over the world.

We moved to a Chicago suburb when I was in the eighth grade and thankfully, my middle and high school experience was very diverse. I went to NYU for college. All my life I have been surrounded by diversity, which is ironic because I have chosen a profession in an industry that often times is not very inclusive. I’d say my upbringing influenced my advocacy, empathy and support for groups who are overlooked.

If I wasn’t a performer, I would be:
An ASL interpreter! I have taken 3 semesters at the Sign Language Center and I am hooked. I can say all the dirty words.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?
Places! Hearing that overture before the curtain rises is the most exciting thing to me. And it’s the perfect time to harness my chutzpah (OK, I’ll stop now).

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
I’m not a big drinker because I become embarrassingly intoxicated after very little. But I will tell you that the Frozen Pomegranate Margarita at Rosa Mexicano is delicious.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Cristi.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Cristi.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
My favorite restaurants! I will list them for you. Grab a pen!
Pye Boat Noodle
Pure Thai Cookhouse
Rosa Mexicano (18th St Location)
Gato
The Stanton Social
Butter
Jing Fong (Dim Sum)
Marea

And for dessert: Ube bread pudding at Manila Social Club, halo halo at Jeepney, hibiscus donut at Dough, chocolate shake at Bareburger, cinnamon crispies and butterscotch cashew bar at Amy’s Bread.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Anywhere warm and there’s a beach close by.

My workout “secret” is:
I eat what I want when I want.

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
A sense of humor! My boyfriend makes me laugh every day.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
www.towleroad.com

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Pulled a knife on my older brothers when I was about 10. I think it was a butter knife, which makes it even more hilarious. Boys will be boys!

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
Mariah Carey. Sans knife.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Married, 10 to 15 pounds heavier (muscle or fat, I’ll take either), and blissfully content.

Big River plays at New York City Center’s mainstage February 8-12. 

Theater Buff: ‘A Bronx Tale”s Rory Max Kaplan

December 24th, 2016 Comments off
Rory Max Kaplan (Photo: Damian Sandone via The Broadway Blog.)

Rory Max Kaplan (Photo: Damian Sandone via The Broadway Blog.)

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. To finish off 2016,  we’re staying close to home with New York native Rory Max Kaplan, currently appearing in A Bronx Tale. Based on Chazz Palminteri’s play and subsequent film, this streetwise musical will take you to the stoops of the Bronx in the 1960s—where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he’d love to be.

Rory Max Kaplan (Photo:  Lauren Morrison via The Broadway Blog.)

Rory Max Kaplan (Photo: Lauren Morrison via The Broadway Blog.)

Name: 
Rory Max Kaplan

Hometown: 
New York

The ensemble gets quite a workout in A Bronx Tale. What was your audition experience like and how would you describe Sergio Trujillo’s choreography?
It was a blast and it really tested me – but there was a great vibe in the room and all I could think about was, “Dammit, I want this.”

Marc Kimelman (associate choreographer) taught the combination. He possesses a style that makes it easy to embody Sergio’s choreography—and I feel like I’m fulfilling my grandfather’s dream of dancing like Gene Kelly on Broadway. On the hour break we got after learning the combination, I got to meet and hang out with my future cast mate Cary Tedder. That was an unforgettable experience because for some reason I knew I was going to be working with this guy.

The other half of the process involved my auditions to understudy the role of Calogero. Stepping into a room with Jerry Zaks, Robert De Niro, Chazz Palminteri, all the producers and the rest of the creative team, to show them what I’ve got was one of many unforgettable experiences to come.

You get to play a lot of different characters throughout the show. Do you have a favorite?
I love being one of the four doo-wop guys. The four of us have a serious connection that we really put our hearts into creating. That totally carries over to playing “Handsome Nick.” I love the suit I wear (thanks to costume designer William Ivey Long). If I could have worn it to the opening night party, I would have. 

Did you have a chance to visit the neighborhood that served as Chazz Palminteri’s inspiration? If so, what was your experience?
A good chunk of us cast members took a trip to 187th Street and Belmont Avenue for a whole day. Chazz met up with us and we went to Little Italy where we ate at Mike’s Deli. We also made a trip to Gino’s Pastry Shop. I had the best cannoli and cappuccino ever. We sang some doo-wop under the streetlamp, with our loved ones watching us, which concluded a day truly spent with family. 

The cast of 'A Bronx Tale.' (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

The cast of ‘A Bronx Tale.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

As a native New Yorker, what was it like growing up in the city?
New York City will always be my home. You grow up to develop a different perspective about this city versus someone who moves here having grown up somewhere else. I’d like to say it’s a place just like anywhere else, but that would be a lie. I learned everything from this city. And it’s still teaching me. There was nothing like taking dance classes here or having Broadway as your local theater scene. Not to mention the streets and the people—the best character study there is.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?
“This is your places call! Places please – places for the top of Act I.”  There is nothing like hearing those words.

If I weren’t a performer, I would be:
A music producer.

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
My dressing room.  

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Search the Village and look up where to hear live music. Have yourself a real New York experience—other than seeing a Broadway show, of course.

Rory Max Kaplan (Photo:  Lauren Morrison via The Broadway Blog.)

Rory Max Kaplan (Photo: Lauren Morrison via The Broadway Blog.)

If I could live anywhere else in the world, it would be:
I have yet to see enough places around the world to have a preference, but Canada has been sounding great these days.

My workout “secret” is:
Get really good at throwing women over your head. And catch them as they come down. Please catch them. (Onstage, of course!)

Rory Max Kaplan (Photo courtesy of 'A Bronx Tale.')

Rory Max Kaplan (Photo courtesy of ‘A Bronx Tale.’)

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
Laughter and soul.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
avengedsevenfold.com
change.org

People would be surprised to learn that I…
Had my first motorcycle ride when I was just over a week old.

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
Jim Carrey 

Ten years from now, I’d like to have:
A long career behind me as well as in front of me. Film, TV and still rockin’ the stage, with a wife and family by my side.

A Bronx Tale is currently playing at the Longacre Theatre.

Matthew Wexler is The Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on social media at @roodeloo

Theater Buff: Pilobolus Dance Theater’s Antoine Banks Sullivan

November 16th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month, Theater Buff chassés off The Great White Way and chats with Pilobolus Dance Theater’s Antoine Banks Sullivan.

Renowned for its unique, diverse collaborations that ignore preconceived barriers between creative disciplines, Pilobolus reaches more than 300,000 audiences members each year. Pilobolus Dance Theater plays two programs in repertory at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts from November 16 through December 4.

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

Name:
Antoine Banks Sullivan

Hometown:
Chicago, IL – born and raised!

"Shadowland 2" in rehearsal. (Photo provided by Pilobolus via The Broadway Blog.)

“Shadowland 2” in rehearsal. (Photo provided by Pilobolus via The Broadway Blog.)

How would you personally describe Pilobolus Dance Theater?
Four guys at Dartmouth College founded Pilobolus in 1971. They were non-dancers enrolled in a dance composition class taught by Alison Becker Chase. Over the years it’s grown into the company we are today. Pilobolus doesn’t look for one specific type of mover. My background is in contemporary and ballet, but others come from martial arts, gymnastics, and hip-hop. You end up with different opinions in the room. All the dancers get choreographic credit for the pieces we work on.

Of the pieces that you’ll performing this month at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, which ones resonates with you most and why?
“Rushes” is the closing piece for Program A. It was created in 2007, and when I saw the company perform it some years ago I was blown away. It’s theatrically beautiful—nothing like you’ve ever seen before, balances theater with dance and movement. It’s a peculiar story that I won’t reveal because I want the audience to have an open mind. But I will say that the story was relevant 10 years ago and still relevant today.

“On the Nature of Things” is also a treat to dance. It features three dancers dancing on a two-foot-wide platform above the stage. It’s statuesque, bold and beautiful with heartfelt emotions. It transcends every walk of life. For me as a dancer, it’s also an exercise in living in the moment and staying tuned in—if nothing else than to stay on that platform!

"Day Two," Pilobolus Dance Theater. (Photo: Grant Halverson via The Broadway Blog.)

“Day Two,” Pilobolus Dance Theater. (Photo: Grant Halverson via The Broadway Blog.)

What is the company’s reference point as “theater”?
We want audiences to feel something. A reach in dance—what does it mean? Is it for something or someone? We have to tell stories with our bodies through movement. It’s personal and very special to me. Yet we don’t provide program notes because we want audiences to discover the personal meaning in a piece of work.

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

(Photo provided by Antoine Banks Sullivan.)

In addition to being a dancer, you’ve been described as an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights. In what ways have you brought attention to LGBT issues and causes?
So much has happened in the past week and so much has been on my mind. When I came out I was fortunate to have a strong support system. Not every LGBTQ youth has that. I worked with the LGBTQ Task Force in Chicago to get youth off the street, along with HIV awareness and testing, and I had a great mentor there.

As I’ve gotten older, I see how we can reach the masses through social media. This was particularly important to me after the tragedy in Orlando. My first job was at Disney World and we would often go to Pulse Nightclub. I have so many memories and felt the loss quite personally from this senseless act of violence. Through social media, I dedicated each performance to every one of 49 victims of the massacre. Every performance needed to be my best for those who are no longer with us.

I have volunteered with the Human Rights Campaign in my hometown of Las Vegas. It’s important to push through and keep these issues at the forefront. We become so desensitized… one thing happens and it’s in the media for a week then it’s gone. Even the election will be old news in a few months, but its affects on minorities, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community will be felt long after. This is a country for everyone and something that we need to continue to fight for.

Antoine Banks Sullivan (Photo: Pilobolus via the Broadway Blog.)

Antoine Banks Sullivan (Photo: Pilobolus via the Broadway Blog.)

If I wasn’t a performer, I would be:
I’d love to be a travel blogger. Or a stay-at-home dad!

One of my favorite spots in the U.S. is Savannah, Georgia, which is so quaint and full of old-school American culture. Internationally, my husband and I love Thailand—just chilling by the beach and drinking fun cocktails. I also love Hamburg, Germany. I was there on tour this summer and one of those cities that I just immediately fell in love with.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
Places! I live to be onstage. I live to go in front of the audience. That’s my calling.

Where’s the best place for a cocktail in Vegas?
Being a local, I avoid the Strip. I’d head to Fremont Street, which is going through a great resurgence.

My workout “secret” is:
I lift men for a living! Our work makes us strong, but I also practice Bikram yoga or Pilates.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
I’d love to have a B&B somewhere near Mt. Charleston, enjoying my family and traveling the world with my children… living the dream!

Pilobolus Dance Theater
NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 LaGuardia Place, NYC
November 16 – December 4

 

Theater Buff: Matt Meigs from ‘Holiday Inn’

October 21st, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month we’re chatting with Matt Meigs, who is currently appearing in Holiday Inn, the New Irving Berlin Musical at Studio 54. Who wouldn’t want to dance “cheek to cheek” with this charmer?

Matt Meigs (Photo: Kait Winston via The Broadway Blog.)

Matt Meigs (Photo: Kait Winston via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
Matt Meigs 

Hometown:
Huntsville, Alabama. Oh yeah.

Holiday Inn is a fresh, new musical using the songs of Irving Berlin – do you have a favorite Irving Berlin tune?
“Moonshine Lullaby,” probably.

This is Denis Jones’ second Broadway musical as choreographer – how would you describe his style for this piece?
I am completely in love with Denis’s choreography and leadership. I’m always excited to see what he comes up with. He runs the gamut in this one. We get to tap dance while we jump rope, serve some Latin moves, do a beautiful partner waltz, give a snazzy jazz number, and of course, lovely throwbacks to classic musical theater movement.

The show takes place in Connecticut, away from the bustle of New York City. Where would you go to escape and unwind, and why?
I’ve recently come to adore a sort of no-holds-barred vacationing. In January, I went backpacking by myself without reservations or set plans for six weeks in Bolivia, Perú, Belize, and Guatemala. Next, I want to spend 3 months traveling Southeast Asia. Four shirts, three pants, one me 🙂

Matt Meigs (Photo: Curtis Brown via The Broadway Blog.)

Matt Meigs (Photo: Curtis Brown via The Broadway Blog.)

If I wasn’t a performer, I would be:
I was insanely close to being a computer programmer of some sort. Luckily, one school thought I had the performing chops, and I had to take the leap! 

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
Intermission is my jam. I’ve got a high from the show, but definitely not tired yet.

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
Bea (403 West 43rd Street). They’ve got a nice wine list and plenty of craft cocktails. (The Broadway Blog recommends The Gypsy Load, with aged rum, pomegranate syrup, lime juice and bitters.)

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
I mean, nothing beats the High Line. But maybe that’s too traditional now? So, after that, go to Amateur Night at the Apollo!! 

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Hawaii can take me any day of the week.

Matt Meigs (Photo: Steven Truman Gray via The Broadway Blog.)

Matt Meigs (Photo: Steven Truman Gray via The Broadway Blog.)

My workout “secret” is:
Just get there. That’s the only challenge, really. 

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
A real reader who has a kickass smile. 

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
fivethirtyeight.com has been my entire life for this election cycle. Also, be sure to check out to injusticeboycott.com.

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Lose my keys/wallet probably twice a week or so. 

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
Jennifer Garner in Alias. 

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Married, own a dog, and have a house upstate.

Holiday Inn is playing at Studio 54 through January 17, 2017.

Matt Meigs (Photo: Misha Shields via The Broadway Blog.)

Matt Meigs (Photo: Misha Shields via The Broadway Blog.)

Theater Buff: Ahmad Simmons Debuts in CATS

July 21st, 2016 Comments off

Purr. Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. And with all that fur and makeup, we’re happy to strip down Ahmad Simmons as he prepares for his Broadway debut in the much-anticipated revival of CATS.

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Cheryl Mann via The Broadway Blog.)

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Cheryl Mann via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
Ahmad Simmons

Home State:
Texas

CATS is a Broadway legacy — when and where did you first see the show and what was your reaction?
My obsession with CATS started back when we performed a part of the opening dance recital with Dian West back home in Texas. I think I was a freshman or sophomore in high school and had just started at the studio. I got the VHS and watched it to see how to paint a unitard to look like a cat but then watched it every night for about a year. I remember playing the jellicle ball over and over again… I couldn’t get enough of it.

Ahmad Simmons (Ryan Lowry via The Broadway Blog.)

Ahmad Simmons (Ryan Lowry via The Broadway Blog.)

Tell us about your audition for the show and your role of “Alonzo.”
When I first saw the audition notice I freaked out. I actually was on a little layoff between tours with Parsons Dance so the timing was perfect. I went to the open call and was immediately terrified. It was actually my first big Broadway audition. The waiting room is my doom… There were over a hundred men. They all seemed to know everything about everything.

My main focus was just to be seen by Andy Blankenbuehler. He is my favorite choreographer. I kept thinking, “no matter what happens, you were in the same room with Andy.” When I got the email saying I was called back I flipped. Then four more rounds later, my life changed! I love playing Alonzo. He’s got a distinct look and gets to really dance a range of emotions. This particular version allows him to be more gritty and aggressive. 

This is your Broadway debut… what has surprised you about the rehearsal process?
I was pretty prepared for what the schedule would be from doing some summer stock during college. The most surprising thing to me was the amount of people involved to make a Broadway showhappen. Every department has at least five people in it. That was new for me; especially coming from a concert dance background where it’s normally just the dancers, a choreographer, a composer, and a lighting designer.   

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

There were some harsh words reported in the media about original choreographer Gillian Lynne’s reaction to Andy Blankenbuehler’s additional choreography, telling The Stage, “It makes me feel like I’d like to murder.” How do you think his vocabulary of movement is going to improve upon a classic?
Andy is a master of creating brilliant movement that furthers narrative, bleeds intention, and narrows focus. Those are the main things that make a show like CATS even better that it was before. He has such respect for the original body of work and is treating it with the utmost reverence. Our generation is able to access this story at a pace that suits the audience of today. The expectations are higher so our job is even harder. Loyalists will be able to recognize the CATS they fell in love with while feeling its weight and relevance in today’s society.

Which is your favorite: Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
Definitely places. Hearing the audience respond the overture gets me so hyped!

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
My new favorite place for a drink is Tanner Smith’s. The drinks are worth the price and the atmosphere is fun. OH, and the nachos are bangin!

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Chelsea Market. Because who doesn’t love a ton of options for food and a sample sale.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Probably Italy. I’ve never been but the people are beautiful, the language is beautiful, and I love carbs. 

My workout “secret” is:
This makes me feel guilty because I haven’t quite found my way to the gym since moving here in August. But… I swear by good vitamins and good natural ingredients.

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

Ahmad Simmons (Photo: Jason Ratigan via The Broadway Blog.)

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
Creativity! I don’t need anything extravagant but it’s nice to be surprised with an experience that’s more than just dinner and a movie.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
Right now I’d say Wayfair because I just moved and all I ever want to do is shop for furniture online. 

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Won the gold medal at the World Choir Olympics in Bremen, Germany in 2004 with a professional boys choir I spent 10 years singing in. Texas Boys Choir, represent!

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
My great-aunt Yolanda Smith. She was the director of all of the choirs at my church. I used to lock myself in the bathroom, put a shirt on my head (for hair) and wave my arms at the mirror as if I was her directing my own gospel choir. How did it take me seven more years to come out?

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Giving a new generation of dancers opportunity to realize their dreams in the arts.

CATS
Neil Simon Theatre
250 West 52nd Street
Opening night: July 31

Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook at @roodeloo

Theater Buff: ‘Fuerza Bruta”s John Alix

June 15th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine.

This month we’re heading downtown to rediscover the electrifying Fuerza Bruta and one of its sexy leading men, John Alix. Hold on… it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

John Alix (Photo by Steven Gabriel Bosque via The Broadway Blog.)

John Alix (Photo by Steven Gabriel Bosque via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
John Alix 

Hometown:
I grew up all over the U.S. until my family settled in the Washington, D.C. area when I was about 14. My family still lives there. 

How would you describe the Fuerza Bruta experience?
It’s a high-energy, immersive theatrical experience, but everyone has a very personal takeaway and a very different interpretation because there is no narrative. You get to take everything in and relate your own personal experience. Everyone always leaves in a great mood, feeling energized. As a performer, it’s so satisfying to see the journey that the audience goes through, really becoming a part of the show, releasing inhibitions, and enjoying the environment. It’s powerful.

John Alix in 'Fuerza Bruta.' (Photo courtesy of Fuerza Bruta via The Broadway Blog.)

John Alix in ‘Fuerza Bruta.’ (Photo courtesy of Fuerza Bruta via The Broadway Blog.)

What was your audition like?
Auditioning for Fuerza Bruta was probably one of the most intense processes that I have ever been through in my career. Usually, in theatre auditions, you have a dance call, they ask you to sing, you have a callback, and then you book the job. Fuerza is not like any other show, so the audition process was a lot more involved. There are so many specialty acts in the show that they really put you through the ringer when looking at actors.

The first day was hundreds of people waiting to be seen, and we learned the Murga, which is the Argentine street dance that is part of the show. They made cuts based on this movement, but luckily I made it to the second day. The men then had to get on the treadmill and put on a harness, and run at various speeds.

The next day was on the treadmill as well, while trying to keep placed furniture from falling off the back, mimicking part of the actual show. It was stressful to say the least. The last act they had us do was a part of the show called Cortinas. This is where we hang from the ceiling and fly around the walls of the room, doing slow, structured choreography.

Finally, we had to do everything again on the last day for Diqui James, the creator and artistic director of Fuerza Bruta. It was intense, but getting that call from my agent that I had booked the show after about four weeks of callbacks was one of the greatest moments of my career.

Will you be participating in Broadway Bares again this year? If so, what can we expect to see? (Or not see!)

Yes! I’m excited to be working on Broadway Bares 26: On Demand this year… my ninth year in a row! This year is going to be something very special. We will be taking over Hammerstein Ballroom on June 19 and hundreds of Broadway and Off-Broadway performers have been rehearsing for weeks to give a one-of-a-kind burlesque show with a Broadway twist.

Our theme this year is all about television, and the numbers are out-of-this-world fun! I’m proud to be choreographing again this year. I’ve been on the creative team for a few years now, and working with director Nick Kenkel and creator Jerry Mitchell has been such a great learning experience. Working with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has become my favorite part of my year, and this year, you don’t want to miss anything. It’s a great mix of sexy and fun. Get your tickets now, because it always sells out!

John AlixAre you working on other choreography project right now?
I’m always trying to work on theatre projects in some capacity. The best part of being in New York is that there are always artists who want to collaborate, or just help out. Some days I’ll just ask a handful of friends to come to a studio, and we will just play for a few hours and see what we can create together.

Sometimes it leads to a performance down the road, but it’s beautiful to just be surrounded by the healing energy of dancers/actors. I couldn’t see my life without it. As far as specific projects, I’m working on a couple videos that I’d like to see produced, and filling up my teaching schedule as much as possible. 

If I weren’t a performer, I would be:
That’s a tough one because theatre has become my life. If I wasn’t on stage, I would definitely like to be inside a theatre or on a set somewhere behind the scenes. I’m addicted to the magic of it all. It makes me happy. I still get goose bumps every time the house lights go to half, and I’m about to be taken to another world. I suppose if I had to leave the entertainment world all together, I have a serious addiction to HGTV, so I think I’d find some interest in home design or flipping houses. I love the idea of making things beautiful in whatever way my brain can work it. 

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?
PLACES—I love going on the journey!

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
My absolute favorite place for a drink is on a Sunday evening, after the show at FLY on the rooftop Monarch Hotel in the summer. They have this great rum punch that they serve in an oversized cup. It’s delicious, and you have an incredible view of the Empire State Building and all of midtown as you watch the sunset, surrounded by a crowd of great people. It’s my happy place.

John Alix (Photo: Jeff Eason via The Broadway Blog.)

John Alix (Photo: Jeff Eason via The Broadway Blog.)

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
There are so many options when looking for interesting places to visit in NYC. My suggestion would be to experience all the incredible performance art that is only available here. There are so many experimental shows that are happening all over this city, and the price tag won’t break the bank. Shows like Sleep No More and Then She Fell will leave you questioning what theater can be, and they are exciting! You can’t see them anywhere else in the world, and they are definitely not traditional.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
I have a love affair with another city. New York will always be my number one, but for the past eight years, I’ve taken a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It’s my little piece of paradise. One day I’d love to move there to retire. It’s a small town, with great energy, great food, and a beautiful sunset. 

My workout “secret” is:
Just GET to the gym. If I can just manage to convince myself to just get there, I can have a good workout. Getting the motivation to walk over to the gym is always the hardest part for me. After being in a show that is so physical, I can be extremely exhausted during the day. I always feel so good once I’ve finished the workout, and I’m glad that I went, but my brain just wants to watch The View on the couch with my cup of coffee.

John Alix (Photo: Steven Gabriel Bosque via The Broadway Blog.)

John Alix (Photo: Steven Gabriel Bosque via The Broadway Blog.)

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
The best thing about dating is figuring out the other person and how they tick. The thing that attracts me most is someone who is up for anything! Spontaneous and exciting are characteristics that keep me interested. I like everyday to feel like an adventure, even if it’s just a small change in my day-to-day life.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
I love the TodayTix app. They have online lotteries that make it SO much easier to see Broadway shows at a discounted rate. I have yet to win one of these lotteries, but one day it will happen!

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Used to be a part of an organization called “Children’s Express” when I was a kid. It was an international news outlet for kids age 8-18. I spent about five years working out of the D.C. bureau, reporting news that affects everyone, but told from the perspective of youth. I traveled all over covering political conventions, interviewing world leaders, and learning so much about diversity in our world. It was an enriching and beautiful experience that I am thankful for everyday.

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
I wanted to be just like my father when I was a kid. He was a radio DJ, but above that, he was a showman. I loved going with him to promotional events and watching how he interacted with the crowd. I’d go with him to the studio and sit and watch him broadcast to the country. He was a great man who taught me a lot and helped to shape my future in the entertainment industry.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
I hope to still be working in the entertainment field. I’d love to be working on a Broadway show as a choreographer/director. I’d also love to work more in TV/film. About three years ago, I started taking acting classes, and as I grow as an actor, I’d love to work more on straight plays. It’s a challenge, but one that I’m very interested in. I want to continue this journey of making art. It challenges me and I love it.

Fuerza Bruta is currently playing at the Daryl Roth Theatre, 101 East 15th Street. For more information, visit www.fuerzabrutaglobal.com/nyc.

 

Categories: Theater Buff Tags:

Theater Buff(s): ‘Paramour”s Andrew and Kevin Atherton

May 18th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month we’re seeing double with aerial artists Andrew and Kevin Atherton, who appear in Cirque du Soleil’s first venture on Broadway: Paramour.

Andrew and Kevin Atherton in Cirque du Soleil's 'Paramour.' (Photo: Matt Beard via The Broadway Blog.)

Andrew and Kevin Atherton in Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Paramour.’ (Photo: Matt Beard via The Broadway Blog.)

Names:
Andrew and Kevin Atherton

Hometown:
Wigan, Lancashire, United Kingdom. [A county to the north and west of Manchester.]

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Greg Gorman via The Broadway Blog.)

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Greg Gorman via The Broadway Blog.)

You’ve been performing with Cirque du Soleil for more than 16 years — how is Paramour different than the previous shows?
Andi and Kevin: Paramour combines musical theater with Cirque du Soleil and is a blend of the two otherwise very separate worlds. With Paramour we follow a very clear, linear story, told with lyrics, text, dance and acrobatics. This is something very different from our previous shows. We feel privileged and proud to be part of something like Paramour.

You famously performed in Varekai for more than 3,000 performances without ever missing a show, but what happens when one of you gets sick? Is there a hidden triplet to step in?
Andi and Kevin: There’s no hidden triplet to step in! Yes, we have been sick on numerous occasions during our time with Cirque du Soleil. Our passion for the stage and performance, along with a good adrenaline boost once we enter the stage, has meant we’ve been able to work though these obstacles. We honestly love every part of what we do, and we’d miss it if we weren’t able to perform for any reason.

(Photo provided by Andrew and Kevin Atherton, via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo provided by Andrew and Kevin Atherton, via The Broadway Blog.)

If I weren’t an aerialist, I’d be:
Kevin: Fat and hairy.

Andi: Fatter and harrier.

Which is your favorite? Places, Intermission or Curtain Call?
Andi: All of the above. I love to perform.

Kevin: Places. I love the energy backstage before the show begins. Especially at Paramour. It’s electric.

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Dawn Bowery via The Broadway Blog.)

The Atherton Twins (Photo: Dawn Bowery via The Broadway Blog.)

Our favorite best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
Andi and Kevin: The New York Beer Company. It’s near the theatre and has a fun, relaxed atmosphere. It’s a great place to meet friends after the show.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Andi and Kevin: The High Line. This elevated parkway offers many great views of the city.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Andi: On a beach somewhere.

Kevin:  I’m a West Coast kind of guy. I love Los Angeles, so I’d probably live in the hills of West Hollywood.

Our workout “secret” is:
Andi and Kevin: Never lifting weights that are too heavy to compromise your technique. Doing so will only risk injury. We always concentrate on our form no matter what exercise we’re doing.

Our favorite website that you may not have heard of is:
Andi and Kevin: Houzz.com — It’s a favorite of ours, as we both love interior design and architecture.

People would be surprised to learn that we . . .
Andi and Kevin: Drink beer and eat burgers.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Andi: Happy, healthy, and surrounded by my family.

Kevin: A father!

Paramour opens May 25 at the Lyric Theatre. Click here for ticket information.

(Photo provided by Kevin and Andrew Atherton via The Broadway Blog.)

(Photo provided by Kevin and Andrew Atherton via The Broadway Blog.)

Matthew Wexler is the Broadway Blog’s editor. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @roodeloo.

Theater Buff: ‘American Psycho”s Anthony Sagaria

April 20th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. We’re losing our minds over this month’s sexy buff, Anthony Sagaria, now appearing in the highly anticipated musical American Psycho.

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Jordan Matter via The Broadway Blog.)

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Jordan Matter via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
Anthony Sagaria

Hometown:
Centerville, Ohio

Do you think Broadway is ready for a musical bloodbath?
Completely. This show is dark, hilarious, bloody, and certain aspects are eerily relevant to today’s society. It’s the perfect time for this show to be making its way to Broadway.

You’re covering five roles in American Psycho — what was the audition process like and do you have a favorite?
The audition process wasn’t too bad actually. I read for one role, got called back to dance for a different role, and then at final callbacks read for both of them. All of that took about a week, and then a month and a half later, I got the call. As for a favorite part, they are all incredible in their own way. The P&P boys (Patrick Bateman’s friends) are probably my favorite, though.

American Psycho is set in the late 80s / early 90s – what is some of your favorite music from that era?
So much good music was being written at that time—from Queen to Michael Jackson, Tears for Fears to Genesis, Radiohead to Run-DMC. The list just goes on and on.

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Lindsay Hoffman via The Broadway Blog.)

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Lindsay Hoffman via The Broadway Blog.)

American Psycho’s lead character, Patrick Bateman, is known for his materialistic tendencies. If you had unlimited funds to fill your medicine cabinet with grooming products or closet with high-end fashions, what might we find?
A closet of well-tailored, good looking suits with ties, cufflinks, dress shoes, and shirts. A well-tailored suit can get you in just about anywhere.

If I wasn’t a performer…
I would be in marketing using my creative side to convince you to buy things you might not necessarily need.

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Brittney Callahan via The Broadway Blog.)

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Brittney Callahan via The Broadway Blog.)

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
Places. The energy backstage while waiting for the house lights to dim is incredible.

The best post-show cocktail in New York City is at:
It’s a toss up between Glass House Tavern on 47th Street and Betti Bar at the Hourglass Tavern on 46th Street.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
The Thirsty Koala, in Astoria, which has incredible Australian food or Black Tap in SoHo for the craziest milkshakes you’ve ever seen.

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Italy or London.

My workout “secret” is:
Simply get to the gym. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, those 10 minutes will eventually turn into 20 and then 30 and so on. Getting motivated to get off the couch and go to the gym is the hardest part.

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
Confidence and originality. If you’re happy with who you are, the rest comes easy.

My favorite website to visit that you may not have heard of is:
You’ve probably heard of it, but as a music lover it is Pitchfork.com.

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Damon Condon via The Broadway Blog.)

Anthony Sagaria (Photo: Damon Condon via The Broadway Blog.)

People would be surprised to learn that…
I am an amusement park fanatic. Nothing’s better than getting a group of friends together and going to Six Flags, Cedar Point, Disney World, etc.

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
My dad. He has a gorgeous voice, can figure out how to fix anything, and is one hell of a hard worker.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Still acting and giving people reasons to support the arts.

American Psycho is currently playing at Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 West 45th Street.

Theater Buff: ‘Trip of Love”s Brandon Leffler

March 16th, 2016 Comments off

Every month, a fabulous actor/singer/dancer fills out editor Matthew Wexler’s nosey little questionnaire and offers a glimpse of what he looks like from a bit closer than the mezzanine. This month we get trippy with Brand Leffler, now appearing in Trip of Love.

Brandon Leffler (Photo: Travis Magee via The Broadway Blog.)

Brandon Leffler (Photo: Travis Magee via The Broadway Blog.)

Name:
Brandon Leffler

Hometown:
Mayfield Heights, Ohio

If you could go on a “Trip of Love,” where would you go and whom would you take with you?
Well, if there were no limits, I would probably go back in time to the 1960s and experience the decade of love for myself! James Walski, our director and choreographer, has given us so many details and stories about the 1960s. It was such an incredible time. Hmm, I would probably bring my grandmother, Gloria. She has firsthand experience with the decade and would make an excellent companion and tour guide. Sound good, Grandma?!

Brandon Leffler (Photo: Sean Turi via The Broadway Blog.)

Brandon Leffler (Photo: Sean Turi via The Broadway Blog.)

What are some of your favorite moments from the show?
One of my favorite moments in the show is “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” Dionne Figgins, who plays the role of ‘Jennifer,’ is absolutely incredible in this number and the dancers are killing it as well. There are constant intricate costume changes throughout the number. It is really a sight to be seen.

If I weren’t a performer, I would be: 
As a kid and to this day I have always been fascinated by the ocean. Growing up I really wanted to be a marine biologist, which then turned into the dream of being a dolphin trainer at Sea World. After the Blackfish documentary came out a few years ago, I was happy with my choice to be a Broadway dancer instead.

Places, Intermission or Curtain Call? 
I’m going to go with places. A fresh start every night.

After you’ve hit all the traditional sites of New York City, you should totally go to:
Eataly or Chelsea Market.

Best pre- or post-show meal:
My current favorite spot to chow down is Bocca Di Bacco in Hell’s Kitchen. They have an incredible dish made with squid ink pasta and all kinds of delicious seafood goodness called Taglierini Neri con Grancho. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be:
Possibly Greece or Italy. I have some Grecian heritage that I have never explored.

Brandon Leffler (Photo courtesy of Brandon Leffler via The Broadway Blog.)

Brandon Leffler (Photo courtesy of Brandon Leffler via The Broadway Blog.)

My workout “secret” is:
I do go to the gym a couple of times a week, but my main workout is dance. I dance in the show at night, teach dance and take class when I can. All dance all the time and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I’m looking for a date, nothing attracts me more than:
Someone that can look me directly in the eye and speak freely, honestly and open.

People would be surprised to learn that I . . .
Have a crazy fear of heights! The only reason that’s surprising is because in every show that I’ve done I am attempting some incredible feat high above the earth. Not just tumbling, but also stilt walking, surfboard balancing, monkey cage climbing and understudying an enormous giant also on stilts.

(l to r) Kyle Brown, Kelly Felthous and Brandon Leffler in 'Trip of Love' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Kyle Brown, Kelly Felthous and Brandon Leffler in ‘Trip of Love’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

When I was 10, I wanted to be just like:
Paula Abdul.

Ten years from now I’d like to be:
Shaping and molding the next generation of incredible dancers and performing artists.

Trip of Love is currently playing at Stage 42, 422 West 42nd Street, NYC.