Posts Tagged ‘joe’s pub’

15 Minutes with Justin Sayre

May 12th, 2017 Comments off
Justin Sayre (Photo: Kevin Yatarola via The Broadway Blog.)

Justin Sayre (Photo: Kevin Yatarola via The Broadway Blog.)

The Meeting* hosted by Justin Sayre — the monthly gathering of the International Order of Sodomites, the centuries-old organization which sets the mythic Gay Agenda — will conclude its acclaimed eight year run this Sunday, May 14 with two performances at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater. Both shows are sold-out but will be broadcast globally online for the first time with Joe’s Pub Livestream, which is available at

The acclaimed comedy/variety show is known for its audacious humor, trailblazing political discourse and button-pushing cultural exploration. Special guests will be announced soon. Lance Horne serves as the evening’s music director. The Broadway Blog had a chance to catch up with Sayre before his final soiree — this is what he had to say…

Justin Sayre (Photo: Ricardo Nelson via The Broadway Blog.)

Justin Sayre (Photo: Ricardo Nelson via The Broadway Blog.)

How did The International Oder of Sodomites come to fruition? And are there any charter members besides yourself? 
The original organization was founded in 1205 as part of the medieval guild system and since then we’ve been behind the scenes manipulating and maneuvering the lives and legacies of the LGBTQIA community.

Back then we were just all sodomites, which seemed easier to say but had perhaps harsh consequences. For many years, I worked with the organization in private and then in November of 2009 we had our first public meeting at The Duplex. We celebrated my patron saint, Edie Bouvier Beale. The membership is wide and extensive, celebrities, people who work with cheese, garbage men, real and figurative, we’re not choosey. Once you say the magic words, “I’m ****something besides straight****” you’re in.

Has honoring a celebrity always been part of the line-up?
Always. It’s a way to get people talking. If you were told you’re going to an event about gay culture and politics, snoozeville. But if you’re told you’re going to a night celebrating Diana Ross, and there will be discussions of politics and culture, I’d say sign me up. It was a way to reach out to the membership and celebrate that which has touched us, moved us, given us strength to be ourselves. That brings all sorts of people together, and that is at the heart of what The Meeting* is, a community event.

What is your inspiration for choosing the season of notables?
We have an extensive list, and we rack our collective brains. We try to mix it up a great deal, selecting artists from all over the map. It’s all about inclusion, so we try to vary the lineup from month to month. The final shows was a grouping of people we’ve loved and always wanted to do. The last show will be my favorites. I think it’s only write after 7 years, don’t you.

In one of your recent shows, which paid tribute to Michael Bennett, there were some terrific guest appearances, including his famous “Turkey Lurkey Time” choreography from Promises, Promises. Have you ever attempted this dance in the privacy of your own home? If so, what might you compare it to?
I’m more of a drunken Fosse girl myself. I love a kitchen into bathroom Rich Man’s Frugue.

It’s the last season of The Meeting*. How else are we to get our fix of hilarity draped in a sensible shawl?
I will still be making shows and still making work at Joe’s Pub. It was simply time to end this side of it. Being the Chairman of The Board has been a rare and unbelievable joy in my life for sometime, but I think it’s time to try new things.

You’re very funny. But you also have a sense of gravitas when it comes to our current political climate. Has this recently influenced your work or have you always drawn inspiration from the end of the world as we know it?
I have always been talking about politics and the way we treat each other as a community. It’s the guts of the show for me.

Can we expect to see you at the Equality March in Washington this June? Do you have some tips for creative signage? Because, as you know, any protest is all about the accessories. 
I will certainly be. But I’m very bad with signs. Just look for the bellowing floor length pashmina and you’ll find me.

Justin Sayre

The Lamentable Tale of a Dog; as told by Beppo, formerly of the Castaglioni company of Padua — Sayre’s new solo work — will debut on Thursday, May 18 at 9 p.m. as part of the High Line “Out of Line” event series. The show, which features sets by Sully Ross, costumes by Allan Herrara and artwork by Adam Michael, will take place on the High Line at 14th Street. Melody Berger is featured on violin. The event is free but reservations are suggested. Visit for tickets and information.



The View From Above: ‘The Outer Space’

March 9th, 2017 Comments off
Ethan Lipton in 'The Outer Space.' (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Ethan Lipton in ‘The Outer Space.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

What happens when life on earth just becomes too much? It’s a not-so-existential question asked by Ethan Lipton in his latest quirky musical story adventure, The Outer Space, which opened March 8 at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater. For more than a decade, Ethan Lipton + His Orchestra (Eben Levy, Ian M. Riggs and Vito Dieterle) have been delivering jazz-inflected story songs to hipster New Yorkers. Lipton has simultaneously established his own career as a playwright. He is an alum of The Public’s Emerging Writers Group, a Clubbed Thumb associate artist, and a Playwrights Realm Page One fellow. His Obie award-winning musical, No Place to Go, was produced by The Public and has toured nationally. So all things considered, life on earth for Lipton isn’t half bad. But that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be better in outer space.

Constructed as a series of story songs, narrative, one-off jokes and musical interludes, The Outer Space follows the emotional trappings of a couple who vacate earth for new life high in the sky — orbiting Mercury, specifically. They’ve bought “a charming Victorian craft” in the hopes of rediscovering themselves, their relationship, and perhaps, the meaning of happiness. The wife is happy with their decision, while the husband suffers from space sadness, defined as “a combination of despair, mono, and a shitty attitude.” These nuanced, urban riffs ripple throughout Lipton’s work, set against whimsical scenic and costume designs by David Zinn that set a tone of ‘let’s not take ourselves too seriously.’

And while the subtle jabs and life’s inadequacies ripple freely off of Lipton’s tongue, he questions early on just what sort of potential we have for change:

Have you ever known someone
who said they wanted to do something very different with their life, because they thought it would make them a happier person?
 And have you ever said to that someone,
“Yes! You should totally do that thing!”
all while thinking, I’m not sure it’s going to make you a happier person. Well, you were right. 
It doesn’t work that way.
You don’t just transform your circumstance and get happier.
 Except when you do.

Vito Dieterle, Ian M. Riggs, Ethan Lipton, and Eben Levy in 'The Outer Space.' (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Vito Dieterle, Ian M. Riggs, Ethan Lipton, and Eben Levy in ‘The Outer Space.’ (Photo: Joan Marcus via The Broadway Blog.)

Lipton is sharp-witted when it comes to painting the picture of spacecraft life, which basically equates to small town living amid a colony of 3,100 people in 450 vessels (“with quite a few others in the outskirts”) and equally adept at lyrics in such ditties as “A to Z,” an alphabetical tongue twister about all of the things the couple enjoys together, or “Yoga/Not Yoga,” which mildly pokes fun at our struggles to find internal peace.

Lipton charismatically carries us along this journey in a soft-spoken, NPR kind of way. His baritone vocals won’t blow the roof off of Joe’s Pub, but it’s a soothing, unique delivery that complements his band’s terrific musicality. It is this sum of the parts that has made Ethan Lipton + His Orchestra so unique.

Lipton is at ease under the direction of Leigh Silverman (Violet, Sweet Charity, Kung Fu), who gently guides this mission to outer space and inner exploration. At the end of The Outer Space’s 90 minutes, I’m not sure I was any closer to discovering “the dream of letting go” or “the other dream being just a human being.” But it was still worth the ride.

The Outer Space
Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street, NYC
Through April 9

The Meeting* You Won’t Want to Miss: Justin Sayre

January 28th, 2017 Comments off

by Jon L. Jensen

Justin Sayre (Photo: Ricardo Nelson via The Broadway Blog.)

Justin Sayre (Photo: Ricardo Nelson via The Broadway Blog.)

Justin Sayre’s The Meeting* of the International Order of Sodomites convened again on January 22 at Joe’s Pub. The performance marked the beginning of the final season of Sayre’s hit comedy/variety show, at a time when performances like it could not feel more essential.

Sayre is big in every sense of the word. His bearish looks are matched by a giant wit and intelligence. While many gay performers and icons prize cattiness and cynicism, Sayre is big-hearted, warm and generous. He took the stage at Joe’s Pub two days after the inauguration and a day after the International Women’s March.

“We’re coming in hot,” said Sayre, adjusting his giant amethyst ring, attired in a flowing sweater ensemble, red-sequined pumps and a pink “pussy” cap.

His show featured tributes to two deceased gay icons, George Michael and Debbie Reynolds, but Sayre spent much of the evening processing contemporary events—especially the Women’s March.

Sayre called on the members of his “International Order of Sodomites” to be active participants in a resistance that reaches far beyond the concerns of the LGBTQIA community. Inspired by his participation in the Women’s March, Sayre argued that gays should unite with women, men, people of color and children against America’s new nationalist/isolationist leadership. “We have to come together because it’s too important,” he said.

The Meeting* paid tribute to George Michael who passed away on Christmas Day. Nadia Quinn, channeling a Christian camp counselor circa 1983, sang “Faith.” Julian Fleischer crooned “Kissing a Fool.” And Drew Brody called on the audience to sing back-up for “Father Figure.”

George Michael (Slavko Sereda : Shutterstock, Inc.)

George Michael (Slavko Sereda : Shutterstock, Inc.)

Of all the musical performances, none was as rousing (or envelope-pushing) as Bridget Barkan. The singer came out in an Obama mask and began an electric rendition of Michael’s “Freedom 90.” Soon she stripped of the blackface mask, to reveal a bad comb-over wig and began to sing the song as the new orange-faced POTUS. For the final verse, she stripped off her tuxedo and released her own long, auburn hair—her breasts taped with black gaffer’s tape, the word FREEDOM emblazoned across her chest.

Although the evening would have benefited from more music, Sayre remained the star of the show. He talked warmly of Debbie Reynolds, clued the audience in on this YouTube gem, and sang Reynolds’ “Tammy.”

One of the most poignant moments of the evening, however, came as he teared up recounting his interaction with a small child and her mother at the March. The moment epitomized what makes Sayre such a treasure. Here is a comedian who is not afraid of appearing earnest and vulnerable. According to him, children cannot tear their eyes off of him. “I don’t know if they’re drawn to me out of fascination,” he said, “or an intense fear that they might become me.”

The Gay Agenda - Album Cover (1)I cannot speak for the children, but I share in their fascination with Sayre. This reviewer ended up kicking myself that I showed up to the Meeting* seven years too late.

If you are like me, a little behind the times, do not miss your chance to catch The Meeting*’s final performances at Joe’s Pub. The final shows will tribute:

Michael Bennett (February 19)
The Velvet Underground (March 19)
Patti LuPone (April 23)

The final celebration will be held with two performances on Sunday, May 14 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. You can also download Sayre’s comedy album, The Gay Agenda, on iTunes here , or subscribe to his podcast “Sparkle & Circulate” here.

Jon L. Jensen is a poet and educator. His forthcoming novel-in-verse attempts to give his native Wyoming an epic makeover.




Don’t Miss: Justin Sayre’s Final Season of The Meeting* at Joe’s Pub

January 22nd, 2017 Comments off
Justin Sayre (Photo: Ricardo Nelson via The Broadway Blog.)

Justin Sayre (Photo: Ricardo Nelson via The Broadway Blog.)

The Meeting* hosted by Justin Sayre — the monthly gathering of the International Order of Sodomites, the centuries-old organization which sets the mythic Gay Agenda — has announced the themes of the Winter/Spring 2017 season.

Each month, the I.O.S gathers to honor an artist or a cultural work that is iconic to the gay community. Justin Sayre, the show’s creator, writer and host, serves as the Chairman of the Board of the International Order of Sodomites and brings his singular wit to essential business of the day through such regular features such as ”Letters to the Chairman” and “New Rulings from the Board.”

After seven years of audacious humor, trailblazing political discourse and button-pushing cultural exploration, the acclaimed comedy/variety show is being presented for the eighth and final season at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater, which concludes its run in May 2017. The Winter/Spring 2017 shows are Sunday nights at 9:30 PM and will feature tributes to:

George Michael (January 22)
Michael Bennett (February 19)
The Velvet Underground (March 19)
Patti LuPone (April 23)

The final celebration will be held with two performances on Sunday, May 14 at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tracy Stark serves as the season’s music director. Special guests will be announced for each show.

The Meeting* has been called “delicious and delightfully droll” by The New York Post and “hilarious and sardonic” by The Village Voice. After originally opening at the historic Duplex in the West Village, The Meeting* has also enjoyed successful runs at the Broadway nightclub 54 Below in New York, the Bootleg Theater in Los Angeles and  Oasis in San Francisco. Sparkle & Circulate with Justin Sayre, the official podcast of the International Order of Sodomites, was recently named among “10 Comedy Podcasts You Should Listen To” by Backstage.

Justin Sayre and The Meeting* – known for a signature blend of outrageous comedy, politics, culture and everything in between – were named among the Top nightclub shows of 2013 by Time Out New York, and received the 2012 Bistro Award for “Comedy Artistry” and a 2011 MAC Award nomination for Best Male Comedy Performance.

Stories From an Artist’s Life: Betty Buckley at Joe’s Pub

September 25th, 2016 Comments off

by Ryan Leeds

Betty Buckley at Joe's Pub. (Photo: Sarah Escarraz via The Broadway Blog.)

Betty Buckley at Joe’s Pub. (Photo: Sarah Escarraz via The Broadway Blog.)

“I will feel a glow just thinking of you and the way you look tonight” are the classic lyrics from Jerome Kern and Dorothy Field’s 1936 tune, “The Way You Look Tonight,” but they may might also describe the emotional reaction from an enthusiastic crowd at Joe’s Pub last evening, where Tony Award-winner Betty Buckley is currently performing a seven-show engagement through September 25.

And how did she look? As a “lady of a certain age,” Buckley—dressed casually but smartly in a slate-colored button down shirt with black pants—looked like a sweet grandmother with her thick beautiful hair and kind face. She presided over the evening as though she were taking care of her flock and imbued a caring confidence that everything in the world would be just fine. More importantly, she sounded marvelous as she navigated her varied and interesting material in her new show entitled Story Songs.

Buckley’s sense of assurance came early in the evening with “All Things In Time,” a song written by one of Buckley’s admired composers Jason Robert Brown. “Let’s make a deal: I will be here, waiting with you, Trusting what’s true, stumbling blind, but knowing we’ll find, everything in its’ time.” She later tapped into the Brown songbook with “Cassandra”, a brand new song that is part of a musical-in-progress, and once again with “Another Life” from The Bridges of Madison County. Perhaps if we’re lucky, a role is in the works for a future Jason Robert Brown musical.

Buckley may have a maternal aura about her but she also demonstrates hipness, referencing a fondness for Facebook, Instagram, and the English rock band Radiohead, covering their 1995 hit “High and Dry.” Returning to her musical theater roots, she sang Stephen Schwartz’s “Chanson,” a song that takes us to the French countryside and “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught,” a timeless song from South Pacific that strikes an even deeper nerve at the height of our current political and social chaos.

Betty Buckley (Photo: Scogin Mayo via The Broadway Blog.)

Betty Buckley (Photo: Scogin Mayo via The Broadway Blog.)

Buckley joked that she is past the phase in her life of having certain angst. She admitted that one of the joys of growing older is that there are things you simply don’t care about. After discovering the up-and-coming theater composer Joe Iconis on social media, she reached out to him and asked if he would write a song for her upcoming show. Iconis came back with a few tunes that didn’t exactly fit her temperament, but he finally struck gold with the hilarious but deeply poignant “Old Flame.” It speaks about a woman who seeks revenge on a former lover, but in time, changes her mind after realizing that some relationships can never be snuffed out (in spite of insight from Oprah Winfrey). It is a song that no doubt, is destined to become a classic, but only if left in the capable hands of a legend like Buckley.

The Texas native tapped into her country/folk side with a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Emmlyou Harris’ “Prayer In Open D,” featuring her wonderful guitarist Oz Noy. Buckley’s presence was only enhanced by Noy and her entire band directed by jazz pianist Christian Jacob, Tony Marino on bass, and Ben Perowsky on drums and percussion.

She yielded the spotlight to Jacob, who, along with Tierney Sutton, composed the orchestral score for the new Clint Eastwood film, Sully. Jacob performed the theme song to the movie. Buckley shared that Jacob and Sutton had only three days to write all of the music for the film. Clearly, Jacobs is a master and is not only a great film composer, but is a first rate accompanist.

Buckley’s version of Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson’s “September Song” was a major highlight of the evening as she breathed heart wrenching emotion into the standard. Like all good performers, she left on a high note with Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up,” an anthem of hope and perseverance.

Early in the show, Buckley spoke about how the evening came together with the help of Jacob and other friends who provided input. She remarked that certain songs have a specific emotional connection at different points in life. One only wishes that she had elaborated more on the reasons for choosing her specific songs. Still, Buckley is a gifted and gracious artist who knows the capabilities of her own vocal range and in the final analysis, solidifies her status as a legendary performer.

 Click here to find out where Betty Buckley is playing next!

Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.

Exclusive: 15 Minutes with Betty Buckley

September 14th, 2016 Comments off
Betty Buckley (Photo: Scogin Mayo via The Broadway Blog.)

Betty Buckley (Photo: Scogin Mayo via The Broadway Blog.)

Truth be told, this interview wasn’t 15 minutes. In fact, it was well over 45 and I have a feeling that if I hadn’t had a pressing deadline, the Tony Award-winning Betty Buckley would have chatted with me for more for an hour. Because that’s what happens when you engage a true artist on the subject of creativity: the floodgates open and you better know how to swim.

At the time of our phone conversation, Buckley had just finished a celebrated run of Center Theatre Group’s Grey Gardens and completed a road trip with her longtime assistant back to her ranch in north Texas to “blow the cobwebs out of my mind.” They called themselves the Road Warriors and even posted some of their journey on social media.

It was after 9/11 that Buckley felt the pangs to return to her Texas roots. With decades of studying, performing, recording, and teaching under her belt, she felt visionless and without purpose. Her love of horses and the equine sport of cutting reinvigorated her and this November she’ll celebrate 14 years of life on a ranch.

But ultimately Buckley is a self-proclaimed “working girl” and this fall she heads to the East Coast for 15 concerts, including her latest show, “Story Songs,” which will play seven performances at Joe’s Pub in New York City.

Can you tell me more about the inspiration for your latest show, Story Songs?

Betty Buckley:
At each point in your life certain songs fit and others don’t. This is a collection of songs that I feel at this point—through interpretation and from my vantage point—can resonate with a degree of truth.

I do a new show, generally, once a year. This past Spring, I connected with composer Joe Iconis and he invited me to sing in his show at Feinstein’s/54Below. He sent me some songs and at the last minute he wrote a song for me, “ Old Flame”—it’s very funny and he’s a wonderful writer. It fits me, as a Story Teller, like a glove.

In February I went to Australia to perform “Defying Gravity,” an evening of Stephen Schwartz’s music. It was a wonderful series of concerts with a full orchestra and I sang “Chanson” from The Baker’s Wife and “No Time at All” from Pippin.

And then I reached out to other composers whom I admire—people like Jason Robert Brown. He sent me a few songs, one titled “Cassandra”– from a new show he’s working on. This is the base of the material and then I start to consider what they all have in common. It’s an evening of stories about some interesting characters.

How do you adapt to such vastly different venues? Your upcoming concerts at  Joe’s Pub (9/22 – 9/25) and “Ghostlight” at NJPAC (9/17) are fairly intimate, but you’ve also played Carnegie Hall with a 50-piece orchestra.

Betty Buckley:
That’s not a big deal for me. It’s something I include in my awareness, of course. It’s just a different space. My work process remains the same in every venue and genre.

CATS is back in the limelight with its first Broadway revival recently opening at the Neil Simon Theatre. It’s certainly one of the benchmarks of your career. What do you think is the emotional entry point for the character of Grizabella and what were some of the challenges in bringing her to life?

Betty Buckley:
The job assignment was to “stop the show”. But within that, you have to find in yourself a world of profound isolation and loneliness. Grizabella is in the last moments of her life. As the Glamour Cat in her youth, she lived life to great excess. She was considered a great beauty. And she drank too much, smoked too much, and she was promiscuous. And now in her later years she is no longer desired and has become the pariah of the Tribe of Cats. She longs to be included but the cats shun her and keep sending her away.

The character is only on stage for 13 minutes. (I timed it at one point when I actually got to sit and experience the show for the first time from start to finish. It was the 8th Anniversary Celebration of the show in London.) I kept waiting for Grizabella and thinking, “Where is she?”

Trevor Nunn’s direction was to play pathos, but I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of stopping the show, and I didn’t know that there was a formula for that. I wasn’t “stopping the show” during previews and it was frustrating—they called special rehearsals for me, and there were lots of conversations.

In desperation, I called my voice teacher, the great Paul Gavert. I thought they were going to fire me. He said, “Come over on your lunch break.” He threw a pillow on the floor and told me to hit it. And I said, “This won’t work, teach me how to stop the show.” He said, “Hit the pillow!”

I hit the pillow and started sobbing. And I heard the voice of this little child inside me saying, “I’m here, too. I’m here, too.” I’d forgotten to ask my inner being how she wanted to do the song. From that awareness, I then hit the streets of New York City on a quest. I found this beautiful portrait book of photographs of homeless people, and I began to follow various homeless women around New York City. There were women on the streets at that time that were my age and had eyes like mine.

One morning heading to work I passed woman on the Upper West Side. She was dressed shabbily with white, pasty makeup and smeared lipstick. She moved as if in slow motion with tremendous grace and dignity. I was profoundly touched by this encounter and the connection she made with me in just a few fleeting moments.

Two nights later, the Universe sent me another woman, almost exactly like the first one. We too had that same amazing connection. It took me about two weeks to incorporate all this information into my journey through the show. The creative team kept calling rehearsals. I said, “I’m in transition.” And they trusted me which was amazing and generous of them to do.

These women I observed reminded me, most profoundly, that we often overlook people because of circumstance: Bigger. Better. Best. We are taught to believe that on some level, and it’s not true.

It finally came together a few performances before Opening Night. “Memory” became a song for me about longing—a cry of the heart. And I suddenly understood: To ask for nothing but be willing to share everything.

I see Grizabella as my soulmate. The character is one of my closest friends and I visit her every time I sing her song. I immediately go to that world, it’s a dreamscape, a place that I love. It is a privilege and great blessing in my life.



(l to r) Rachel York and Betty Buckley in 'Gray Gardens.' (Photo: Craig Schwartz via The Broadway Blog.)

(l to r) Rachel York and Betty Buckley in ‘Gray Gardens.’ (Photo: Craig Schwartz via The Broadway Blog.)

Do you see continuity among some of the major theatrical roles of your career: Grizabella in CATS, the title character in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, Rose in Gypsy, Big Edie in Grey Gardens? 

Betty Buckley:
The explanation is soul and spirit. I loved the great actresses of the previous generation to mine: Kim Stanley, Gena Rowlands and Geraldine Page. They told truths in their rawest form. They were my role models and I wanted to become that kind of actress and be able eventually to bring that kind of raw truth to my work in the Musical Theater.

My first Broadway show, when I was 21 years old, was 1776. There were two women in the show and 30 men—mostly actors who could sing but they’d never done a musical before. Howard Da Silva, William Daniels and Paul Hecht took me under their wings. I was an experienced performer but a very naïve girl. I continued to go to acting school and studied hard at the Actor’s Studio, Stella Adler, and with Sondra and Greta Seacat, and my coach Peter Flood.

Then I got the part of the stepmother Abby in the TV series Eight is Enough. We did 29 episodes a year for four years. That’s where I continued to practice and learn my craft and the business of “Big Business Show Business.” On the heels of that came Tender Mercies then CATS. That was my training ground. I had a goal to become a certain kind of Story Teller/Singer/Actress. The Universe collaborates with your truest vision for yourself. If you’re willing to do the work, you’ll be guided how to achieve that vision.

Betty Buckley at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Debby Wong / via The Broadway Blog.)

Betty Buckley at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (Debby Wong / via The Broadway Blog.)

And you’re also teaching a five-day song interpretation/monologue workshop at T. Schreiber Studio (September 19-29).

Betty Buckley:
I share and teach the tools taught to me by great teachers. They have never failed me. The tools are very practical, not amorphous. We, as a Humanity are completely connected. We each of us have a heart that is beating and wants to love and be loved. We have to remember that in our storytelling. You must allow your heart to go there. Each lyric or line must be vivid to the singer/actor. Each word must have a deeply personal resonance. When you’re willing immerse yourself, to do that work, then vicariously your journey becomes something in which the audience can experience their truest selves.  It takes time to learn and a willingness to be that vulnerable.

Don’t Miss:
Betty Buckley at NJPAC, “Ghostlight,” 9/17
Betty Buckley at Joe’s Pub, “Story Songs,” 9/22 – 9/25
Five-day song interpretation/monologue workshop at T. Schreiber Studio, September 19-29).


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

Betty Buckley Returns to Joe’s Pub in ‘Story Songs’

August 18th, 2016 Comments off
Betty Buckley (Photo: Scogin Mayo via The Broadway Blog.)

Betty Buckley (Photo: Scogin Mayo via The Broadway Blog.)

Tony Award-winning Broadway legend Betty Buckley will return to Joe’s Pub at The Public with her new show, Story Songs, for an exclusive seven-show engagement from September 22 to September 25. A renowned interpreter with an eclectic taste for music from all genres, Buckley will share a collection of songs that range from Radiohead to theater greats Stephen Schwartz and Jason Robert Brown. The evening will also include works by the next generation of exciting young theater composers Joe Iconis and Ben Toth. Buckley will be joined by renowned jazz pianist Christian Jacob, her longtime Musical Director and arranger; as well as Tony Marino on bass; Oz Noy on guitar; and Ben Perowsky on drums & percussion.

Buckley recently starred as “Big Edie” Beale in the celebrated Los Angeles production of the musical Grey Gardens, which she first performed at Sag Harbor, NY’s Bay Street Theater last summer. She co-stars in the upcoming M. Night Shayamalan film Split opposite James McAvoy, which will premiere in January 2017.

Buckley will also present Story Songs in Philadelphia, PA (September 18), Port Washington, NY (September 30), San Francisco, CA (October 21-22) and Costa Mesa, CA (October 27–29). She will perform Ghostlight, based on her recent album with T Bone Burnett at NJPAC in Newark, NJ (September 17).

In addition, Buckley will offer Five Day Intensive Song Interpretation Workshop at New York’s T. Schreiber Studio from September 19-29. Auditors are welcome.

Betty Buckley, in an award-winning career that has encompassed TV, film, stage and concert work around the globe, is probably best known as one of theater’s most respected and legendary leading ladies. She won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS. Buckley received her second Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a musical for her performance as Hesione in Triumph of Love, and an Olivier Award nomination for her critically-acclaimed interpretation of Norma Desmond in the London production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, which she repeated to more rave reviews on Broadway. She is a 2012 Theatre Hall of Fame inductee.

Buckley tours in concert worldwide with her ensemble of musicians and recently was featured in the Royal Albert Hall concert of Follies in celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday. She has recorded 16 CDs, most recently Ghostlight produced by T Bone Burnett released in 2014.

Story Songs Starring Betty Buckley
Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street, NYC
September 22-25, 2016


Don’t Miss: Lady Rizo at Joe’s Pub and Beyond

July 26th, 2016 Comments off
Lady Rizo (Photo: Kevin Yatarola via The Broadway Blog.)

Lady Rizo (Photo: Kevin Yatarola via The Broadway Blog.)

You have one more chance (at least this time around) to see Lady Rizo’s new show, Multiplied, at Joe’s Pub before she jumps the pond to take her latest creative incarnation to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.

For those of you yet to experience Lady Rizo, the downtown chanteuse is a vocal powerhouse. Imagine a love child comprised of jazz vocalist Holly Cole, eccentric pop icon Lady Gaga, and through-the-rafter vocals of rocker Janis Joplin. That might come close, but Lady Rizo is an entity unto herself—a quirky product of a theatrically inclined hippy family that raised her to embrace her unique form of creativity.

Multiplied is the latest chapter in Lady Rizo’s life, as she contemplates the wonder of motherhood while still holding onto her nightlife persona. It’s a personal journey yet she manages to make the themes of motherhood universal; evident by the audience at the performance I attended last week, which felt like a casting call for a New York City street scene.

Lady Rizo (Photo: Kevin Yatarola via The Broadway Blog.)

Lady Rizo (Photo: Kevin Yatarola via The Broadway Blog.)

Her set is a combination of familiar songs (she opens with Prince’s “Beautiful Ones”), original compositions (“Loving in Color”) and esoteric discoveries that she transforms into endearing narrative (“I Have Never Loved Someone” by My Brightest Diamond). It is that last number—during which she breastfeeds her son—that Lady Rizo nuzzles the audience into her creatively nurturing breast. That might sound as if we all smoked a peyote peace pipe, but that’s the kind of lyrical, free-flowing vibe she gives off. It’s the juxtaposition of that diva-decibel voice that makes Lady Rizo such a find.

Lady Rizo (Photo: Kevin Yatarola via The Broadway Blog.)

Lady Rizo (Photo: Kevin Yatarola via The Broadway Blog.)

There are a few obligatory moments of shock value spattered throughout: the rubbing of an audience member’s head, kissing another woman on the lips after shoving a scarf down her throat. These sorts of antics are best left to the likes of Bridgett Everett or Pam Ann. A production gimmick that envelopes the audience in a symbolic womb feels a bit awkward (she admitted mid-show that they were ironing out the technicalities) while an onstage costume change under a backlit ameba-like curtain offered the opportunity to improvise about motherhood with an audience member.

Anecdotes like her fight with a fellow customer in IKEA over public breastfeeding keep Lady Rizo grounded in the world of the living, yet her voice soars heavenly upward, aided by her one-man band, Yair Evnine on cello, guitar and electronics. Lady Rizo reminds us through song and words that motherhood will always be entertaining, as long as you know how to tell a good story.

Lady Rizo: Multiplied
Joe’s Pub
July 26, 9:30 p.m.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival
August 16-28


15 Minutes with Lady Rizo

July 19th, 2016 Comments off
Lady Rizo with her son. (Photo: Bill Evans via The Broadway Blog.)

Lady Rizo with her son. (Photo: Bill Evans via The Broadway Blog.)

Raised by theatrical gypsies, Lady Rizo is one of New York City’s powerhouse vocalists. And while those in the know may recognize her from frequent stints at Joe’s Pub and The Darby, Rizo (a.k.a. Amelia Zirin-Brown) has staying power and international recognition, including a duet on Yo-Yo Ma’s Grammy-winning album, Yo-Yo Ma and Friends: Songs of Joy and Peace.

Rizo returns to Joe’s Pub tonight with her new show, Lady Rizo: Multiplied. Eight months postpartum, she digs her sparkling heels into new motherhood. Backed by a choice New York trio led by longtime collaborator Yair Evnine, Rizo rips apart carefully chosen pop songs and presents them among her own stirring originals.

The Broadway Blog’s editor Matthew Wexler had a chance to chat with her while she was getting her hair done at a Los Angeles salon—what any proper diva should be doing on a Wednesday morning!

The Broadway Blog: It’s embarrassing, but I had no idea who you were until I saw you perform at the recent Night of 1,000 Judys benefit for the Ali Forney Center, hosted by Justin Sayre. How did you meet Justin?

Lady Rizo: I met Justin when he first moved to New York City. What a funny fellow… and then I thought—does he really talk like that? He’s completely smart and authentic and hilarious. I spent time with him at a Radical Faerie queer sanctuary in Tennessee. I’ve done his show, The Meeting, a couple of times. I’m happy to be a guest if I’m passionate about the subject.

Lady Rizo's debut album, 'Violet.'

Lady Rizo’s debut album, ‘Violet.’

BB: What was the song you sang? It was captivating.

LR: “Blues in the Night”—a haunting arrangement I created with music director Tracy Stark. I wanted something pastiche, beautiful, dark, and haunting. I’d been practicing it all night, singing it to my infant son as I put him to bed.

BB: You have a strong sense of theatricality when you perform, did you study theater?

LR: I come from a theater family. I was raised on the Oregon coast by a group of theatrical hippies. Their passion was theater—Shakespeare and Brecht in barns and basements. This artistic community I grew up in was incredible rich. I started really early. I was in a Chekov play at two (I didn’t have a speaking role.) Then I studied at Cornish College of the Arts, they offered a merit-based full scholarship.

BB: Was there a point that you could identify a shift from musical theater to your own unique cabaret style?

LR: I was always encouraged to look at art individually and radically, but after graduating I was trying to be a working actor and taking a lot of different gigs. Being cast in musicals, I firmly felt that it wasn’t my place even though I could sing, dance and act.

Then I started to get cast in straight plays with music, and finally it was the evolution of my own shows. I moved to New York City to start over again with this demeaning process. It makes sense: supply and demand—there’s a power dynamic but I had a special breed of insanity and pride that I wasn’t going to do that. So I created a show.

I was married to a beautiful Colombian man at the time and I created [“Lady Rizo”] with him. That was his last name. I didn’t take his name legally. It’s ironic that it’s had more staying power than the marriage.

Lady Rizo (Photo via Twitter.)

Lady Rizo (Photo via Twitter.)

BB: Do you have a desire to return to the stage in a more traditional theatrical setting (doing the same show eight times per week). If so, are there existing roles that you’d like to put your stamp on?

LR: There was a cool movement when there was a discussion of reviving Funny Girl and Michael Musto wrote a column about me. I love the freedom of making my own rules but I’d love my career to mimic the arc of Bette Midler that transitions back into acting.

BB: I assume your new show, “Multiplied,” is at least—in part—inspired by the birth of your son. What can audience members expect?

LR: This life change… it’s a very strange tug. I’m so happy and love with my beautiful son. He’s charming and sociable—that means a lot to me. It’s how I identity myself. But it takes so much brain space to raise a baby if you aren’t someone who farms out the job to caretakers. I don’t have daycare and nannies. His father, a lighting designer from Sydney, is incredible.

The evolution of mankind took over. It turns out I am a breeder. Part of what I’m grappling with is the resignation of that term. I identify strongly as a queer person and have always in my adult life circled around that and so I’m struggling with my own boundaries as a perceived heterosexual breeder.

Gender is the frontier that we’re at – and something fun to keep in mind when raising a son. What is it like to raise a white male? One can hope he’ll be a homosexual. All I can do is dress him in peach. (I have an aversion to pink.)

The core of my uncomfortability is that I feel like the voices of parents are still so hetero-normative and it becomes so loud. You don’t really hear alternative parenting voices in the media because people that have a problem with society aren’t vocal breeders. We need more artists and free thinkers to fill our population if we don’t want to have it completely hijacked.

Will this be the same show you intend to perform in Edinburgh?

LR: Yes, it’s a show that I started making in London in March. I loved performing pregnant. It lowered everyone’s expectations. They were just happy that I was standing in heels. I didn’t have to work as hard. But it’s good to reflect on that time.

BB: What artists do you listen to and can we expect any new collaborations?

LR: I listen to My Brightest Diamond and Tune-Yards, but so much of what I listen to is pre-1964.

I just recorded my second album at Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s seen some of the legends like Al Green and Isaac Hayes and a lot of the same components of the studio during that time are still there. I’m hoping to release it in the fall.

BB: Beyond music, your social media feeds show solidarity with the LGBT community, women’s rights, and gun opposition. How important is it for you to use your notoriety to shed light on some of these important issues?

LR: Why else do what I do? It’s interesting to hear how people get angry when artists respond to the world around us. I’m not interested in a neo-Nazi loving my singing voice. I’d much rather reach someone who’s thinking humanity more holistically through my voice.

It’s the way I was raised. Overt power and sensuality on stage can be considered radical. Slut shaming is really high. It only takes a moment reading the Internet to see that anonymity breeds contempt. We’re living in a patriarchy. We can accept that, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t voice opposition to it. Misogyny affects everyone—including men—because it denies the feminine inside the man.

If people get excited about my music, it allows me to explore these deeper causes.

Lady Rizo: Multiplied
Joe’s Pub
425 Lafayette Street, NYC
July 19, 9:30 p.m.
July 20, 9:30 p.m.
July 25, 7 p.m.
July 26, 9:30 p.m.

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







Migguel Anggelo: A Venezuelan Phoenix Rises

April 15th, 2016 Comments off

by Ryan Leeds

Migguel Anggelo in 'Another Son of Venezuela.' (Photo: David Andrako via The Broadway Blog.)

Migguel Anggelo in ‘Another Son of Venezuela.’ (Photo: David Andrako via The Broadway Blog.)

There’s plenty of Latin passion beyond Broadway’s On Your Feet! Just head downtown to The Public Theater for an evening with Migguel Anggelo, where Joe’s Pub may have to raise the ceiling in order to contain this larger than life personality.

Anggelo’s show, Another Son of Venezuela, may well be one of the most entertaining and heart-breaking concert acts I’ve ever seen. He began with an energetic, hip-swiveling, original number, “Pop and Mambo,” backed up by fellow immigrant performers, Filipino-born Joanne Jovien, and Michelle Walter from Guatemala. He then talked about the 13-year challenge to obtain his green card before performing the song, “Green,” by his music director Mau Quiros.

Later, Anggelo displayed his uninhibited side with two numbers that he once performed in the streets of Colongne, Germany: “Malambo” and “The Lonely Goatherd.” The latter is a familiar Rodgers and Hammerstein ditty from The Sound of Music, but “Malambo” is a lesser-known entity, originally made popular by Yma Sumac, who possessed an eight-octave range. Anggelo not only did a flawless rendition—he performed it in a red bird costume!

Migguel Anggelo in 'Another Son of Venezuela.' (Photo: David Andrako via The Broadway Blog.)

Migguel Anggelo in ‘Another Son of Venezuela.’ (Photo: David Andrako via The Broadway Blog.)

Anggelo continued with a simple and beautiful Spanish interpretation of the Disney classic, “When You Wish upon a Star” and spoke about the difficult relationship he had with his “machismo” father who frowned on Anggelo’s homosexuality. He also discussed the painful experience of watching his father die before his eyes.

It’s hard to musically categorize Anggelo, as he jumps from Mambo to Broadway and even tackles opera with Puccini’s “Nessum Dorma”. George Michael’s “Freedom” and some of Angello’s original compositions were also part of the program. He ended the night with the classic “Cucurrucucu Paloma” by Tomas Mendez.

Anggelo’s vocals are astounding and his style could be compared with Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, and Freddie Mercury. One thing is certain: He was born to be on stage and delivers a performance with incredible honesty, humor, and flair. Along with his magnificent band, Anggelo forces his audiences to think and feel—and ultimately connects with them in a way that leaves an indelible and remarkable imprint.

Another Son of Venezuela
Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street
April 21, doors open at 6 p.m.; show at 7 p.m.

Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.