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Cabaret

The Interview: The Skivvies Get Wilde

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Interview conducted by frontmezzjunkies

We adore The Skivvies. What’s not to love?

The musical duo, comprised of Lauren Molina and Nick Cearley, has made a name for themselves on stages across the country. Blending pop music and show tunes, all while stripped down to the bare essentials, they’ve delighted audiences for years.

This past Holiday season, The Laguna Playhouse commissioned them to perform and record a radio play version of It’s A Wonderful Life. In honor of St Patrick’s Day, the pair are set to unveil yet another collaboration with the California-based theater: The Importance of Being Earnest. Joined by stage veteran Nathan Lee Graham as Lady Bracknell, and with an adaptation by playwright/actor Michael Raver(who also serves as director), the piece will be available March 8-21. 

How did the opportunity to do The Importance Of Being Earnest come to you? 

LAUREN MOLINA: The Skivvies have a wonderful relationship with the Laguna Playhouse. Since the pandemic, they’ve been reaching out to us to see what kind of content we’d be interested in making virtually for them. They wanted something theatrical to tie in for St. Patrick’s Day.

NICK CEARLEY: After many ideas being bounced around, we settled on wanting to honor Oscar Wilde being an Irish playwright that we all collectively adored. We all love this play and thought it would suit our comic sensibilities and style best.

Is this your first time doing Wilde? 

LM: I have had the pleasure of playing the role of Gwendolen in the musical Earnest In Love which takes dialogue from the play but has added musical numbers. It is extra fun and the material lends itself to musical comedy. I also worked on an incredible adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Michael Raver where I played multiple characters, and the cello. 

NC: I have never done a Wilde play proper. I have read most of them and did a new musical workshop of an adaptation of Dorian by Thomas Hodges a few years back which kicked off my desire to want to familiarize myself with his works and his personal life as well. 

What is it about his work that speaks to you? 

LM: I love his biting wit and double entendre. It never gets old. I also love that he can be so dark, in contrast to his lightness. He brilliantly weaves his own life into his work, subtly or not so subtly. 

NC: I love his style! His innuendos! His flair for the fabulous and flamboyance and not backing away from it, especially for the time period he was writing. And then, of course, with what was going on in his personal life at the time his plays were being written, specifically with Earnest actually, is absolutely fascinating to me. I feel he was so ahead of his time with his commentaries on what he chose to write about as well as how he lived his life at this moment in time. Lauren and I both read Nicholas Frankel’s forward to the annotated adaptation of Earnest, it was so deeply eye opening to references in his own life and how they were sprinkled throughout the play. 

The Skivvies. Photo by Brian Ray Norris.

The Skivvies musical performances have constituted most of your work. Is performing plays something audiences can expect to see more of from you? 

LM: We both love performing in plays. My career mostly consists of performing in musicals, so anytime I can dive into delicious text like Wilde or any of the great playwrights is a real delight. I hope to do more plays and musicals as a duo. Nick and I have been cast opposite each other in the musical The Rocky Horror Show as Brad and Janet, as Lucy and Linus in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and in the Off-Broadway romp Sex Tips For Straight Women From A Gay Man

NC: We are theatrical actors first and foremost. It is always a joy when we get to work together on a play and not necessarily in creating something musically.  Separately, I have done more productions of plays regionally and in NY than musicals, which I like doing very much. We both have very separate theatrical resumes and its always fun to blend the worlds whenever we get the opportunity. Any opportunity where the Skivvies gets to put their signature on something is always a thrill. 

How do you choose your collaborators? 

LM: We often play with our friends, former castmates, and even have people reach out and ask to get involved. When we reach out to new people to collaborate it’s because we want to work with them and create together. We are attracted to open minded, funny people with free-spirited energy and great musicality. 

NC: For me, it’s highly dependent on the energy being cut from a similar cloth as myself. You can tell with artists, like in any relationship, if it’s a fit or if it isn’t. I have always said, “Skivvies is a state of mind.” It’s a mixture of similar sensibilities.

How have you been keeping your sanity during the pandemic? 

LM: It’s really been a rollercoaster of emotions over the last year. I give myself permission to rest when needed. I love to get outside and go for hikes or ride my bike. I also have been creative, making and recording music, The Skivvies recorded their first album with The Rocky Horror Skivvies Show Album. I also recorded another EP with my formerly-active band, The Booklights, which will be out next month. Also, having a partner and two cats around has been a saving grace. I would not do well if I was all by myself all this time.

NC: Creating whenever possible and trying to find new and original ways to do so. I had to escape from NY for a bit because I couldn’t take staring at the same walls any more. That helped a lot. There’s only so much you can do safely in these times. Hanging on to the hope I see right now of everyone having a vaccine by summer has given me so much optimism after coming out of such a dark four years. 

If you could sum the Skivvies up in one word, it would be…

LM: Playful.

NC: Absurd.

The Importance of Being Earnest is available March 8-21. For tickets, visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com
For more information about The Skivvies, visit www.theskivviesnyc.com

Nick Cearley and Lauren Molina of The Skivvies. Photo by Allison Stock.

For more from Ross click here

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Cabaret

Cabaret and Talks For June

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92 Street Y: 1395 Lexington Ave. 6/1 – 3: Wonder of Wonders: Celebrating Sheldon Harnick; 6/11: Daddio: Advance Screening and Dakota Johnson in Conversation with MTV’s Josh Horowitz; 6/15: An Evening with Noah Hawley with Special Guest Jon Hamm and 6/20: Dr. Anthony Fauci in Conversation with Lawrence O’Donnell: On Call.

Birdland Jazz: 315 West 44 St. Every Monday at 5:30 Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks and 9:30pm Jim Caruso’s Cast Party; Every Tuesday at 8:30pm The Lineup with Susie Mosher; 6/1, 8, 15, 22, 29: 6/3: Gabrielle StravellI; 6/3: Gabrielle Stravelli & Billy Stritch “Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other”; 6/10: Susan Mack “No More Blues”; 6/1: Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano: “Sun! Skin! Sin! Sinatra!”; 6/ 18 – 19: Stacey Kent and 6/24: Clint Holmes in “Icons”.

Clint Holmes

Cafe Carlyle: 35 E 76th St. 6/1: Ethan Slater; 6/4 – 8 Rumer Willis and 6/11 -24: Aaron Tveit.

Rumer Willis

Carnegie Hall: 881 7th Ave at 57th St. 6/20: FOLLIES in Concert

Norbert Leo Butz, Christine Ebersole, Santino Fontana, Jennifer Holliday, Norm Lewis, Donna Murphy

Chelsea Table + Stage: Hilton Fashion District Hotel, 152 W 26th St. 6/14: Randy Edelman.

Randy Edelman Photo by Jeff Smith

Don’t Tell Mama: 343 W. 46 St. 6/2: Lucille Carr-Kaffashan.

The DJango: 2 Avenue of the Americas.

Klea Blackhurst

Dizzys Club Coca Cola: Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street. 6/9: Songbook Sundays Johnny Mercer with Billy Stritch, Klea Blackhurst,Gabrielle Stravelli and more.

54 Below: 254 West 54 St.  6/1: Tony Danza: Standards & Stories; 6/2: Lea DeLaria: Brunch Is Gay; 6/6 – 8 and 10 – 13: Norm Lewis: Summertime (Special Tony Edition; 6/14- 15: Gavin Lee: Steppin’ Out With Fred Astaire; 6/18 and 26: Christine Andreas: Paris to Broadway; 6/21 – 25: Linda Eder and  6/28 – 29: Jackie Evancho: My Story

Linda Eder

The Green Room 42: 570 10th Ave. 6/17: Nicholas King; 6/20: Sally Mayes; 6/23: Reeve Carney and 6/29: Corinna Sowers Adler, Marieann Meringolo and Sandra Piller.

Reeve Carney – Photo by Matthew Tammaro

Sony Hall: 235 W. 46th St. 6/2:Paula Cole; 6/14: Eliane Elias and 6/27: Gino Vannelli.

Eliane Elias

Theatre at the West Bank Café: 407 West 42 St. Every Saturday and Sunday Lucky Cheng’s Drag Brunch; 6/12: Craig Rubano.

The Triad: 158 W. 72 St. 6/19: Timeless Songs from the Silver Screen;

The Town Hall: 123 West 43rd Street. 6/3: Let’s Put On A Show! 35 Years Of Irish Rep Musicals! and 6/20 – 21: Samara Joy

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Cabaret

My View: Jimmie Herrod….America’s Got Talent!

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Our table of four “judges” at 54 Below (Steven Reineke, Eric Gabbard, Storm Large, Eda Sorokoff) didn’t have a Golden Buzzer to ring for “America’s Got Talent” winner Jimmie Herrod last night, but we all gave this super singer a standing ovation and a thumbs up at the conclusion of his solo Cabaret debut in Broadway’s Supper Club.

Jimmie’s tonal dexterity, vocal chords that have no limits, and imaginative jazz interpretations of Broadway and Pop standards  thrilled a room full of music lovers.

Not everyone in America has talent, but Jimmie Herrod sure has!

From blowing the judges away as a finalist on “America’s Got Talent” to playing Angel in the symphonic version of Rent at The Kennedy Center, and touring the world as a member of Pink Martini, Jimmie shared his favorite songs and stories in an unforgettable intimate and personal show. 

Alex Boniello (Dear Evan Hansen, Deaf West Spring Awakening) was Jimmie’s special guest

About Jimmie Herrod

Jimmie is a vocalist who brings singular power an expressivity to his global career as a singer, songwriter, and entertainer on stage and screen. As a solo artist with a uniquely high vocal range, Jimmie has appeared to critical and audience acclaim multiple times with the National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center, including on the nationally broadcast “Joni Mitchell Songbook,” and alongside luminaries such as Renee Fleming and Raul Midon.

Recent appearances include solo debuts with the St. Louis, Nashville, and Houston Symphony Orchestras, starring alongside vocalist Storm Large in a weekend of concerts with the Oregon Symphony, and touring the globe as a member of the band Pink Martini.  Herrod first came to worldwide prominence as a finalist on the NBC nationally broadcast television show, “America’s Got Talent,” earning the rare “Golden Buzzer recognition from actress Sofia Vergara and returning the following year on the AGT All-Star series. IN 2024 Jimmie launches his first national tour as a solo artist, in support of his forthcoming full-length album.

JIMMIE HERROD, STEVEN REINEKE, The New York Pops, ERIC GABBARD

JIMMIE HERROD

JIMMIE HERROD

JIMMIE HERROD

JIMMIE HERROD

ALEX BONIELLO

JIMMIE HERROD & ALEX BONIELLO

STANDING OVATION

EDA SOROKOFF, STEVEN REINEKE, STORM LARGE, ERIC GABBARD

STORM LARGE & EDA SOROKOFF

STORM LARGE & STEPHEN SOROKOFF

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Cabaret

Finding Words for Spring 

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And who better to lead a search like this than every lyricist’s best friend, the incomparable Steve Ross!  Dressed all in green like a musical Pied Piper, Steve began our adventure with “Mountain Greenery”, one of the best examples of the verbal dexterity of Larry Hart.  Having arrived in this luscious verdancy, Steve highlighted the ever-clever Alan Jay Lerner by slowing his delivery a tad so we could savor every word in “Hurry, It’s Lovely Up Here”.  Those words, like all that Steve served up, deserved the attention he gave them. It’s amazing that even though one has heard a song many times, a thoughtful delivery can reveal more than had been realized. Johnny Mercer had his moment for admiration with “I’m Old Fashioned”, which curiously has the hallmarks of a lyric by Oscar Hammerstein.   

Mr. H. joined the party when Steve made “Younger Than Springtime” sound so full of yearning yet with a touch of sorrow.  Steve’s patter is always welcome for not only his wry humor but his instructive sensibility. He related how when Oscar Hammerstein declined the opportunity to write the lyrics for Annie, Get Your Gun, the torch was handed to Irving Berlin. He eagerly stepped up to the proverbial plate and in true Berlin fashion grand-slammed yet another terrific score. The contemporary of Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, dropped by with his “We’ll Gather Lilacs”, a wistful song that evoked the hopeful longing of the WW II years. 

A personal highlight was Steve’s rendition of “Send in the Clowns”—not a song evoking Spring, for sure, but one that deals with the complications that can ensue in falling in love.  Steve’s attention to one word in the lyric made the sardonic pathos of the situation almost palpable. (No, I won’t reveal the word—you must hear it for yourself next time!) And such is the magic of Steve Ross. He sprinkled this magical evening with several songs made famous by Fred Astaire and others in films which rounded out the evening beautifully. 

Steve swung into optimistic territory with “Make Our Garden Grow” adding a delicate touch of “‘Tis the Gift To be Simple”– a perfect ending to this show. But wait—there was more! He coaxed us into a sing-along to celebrate Eliza Doolittle Day, May 20. How “Lover-ly” it was! 

Any Steve Ross show is worth the time of any aficionado of the Great American Songbook. This show was especially notable. Each lyric shined under Steve’s masterful interpretation, and the entire room was silent throughout—nary a cough or ice-cube tinkle to be found. We were spellbound. If you are in the market for a spa treatment for the heart/soul, catch Steve’s next show. They don’t call him the Crown Prince of Cabaret for nothing! 

 

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Cabaret

My View: Julie Wilson Honored By The Mabel Mercer Foundation at The Pierre Hotel

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Cabaret luminaries, supporters, and officers of The Mabel Mercer Foundation gathered at The Pierre Hotel last night to celebrate the100th anniversary of the birth year of cabaret legend Julie Wilson.  Julie’s dominant presence in the cabaret world over the many decades led her to be called “The Queen of Cabaret”. Cabaret’s current guiding light, KT Sullivan, the artistic director of The Mabel Mercer Foundation hosted the evening’s celebration which included a gourmet buffet followed by performances from some of cabaret’s most beloved artists and friends of Julie Wilson.  Entertaining the Gala audience of music connoisseurs and honoring the legacy of Julie Wilson were: Karen Akers, Carole J. Bufford, Melissa Errico, Jeff Harnar, Sue Matsuki, MOIPEI ( Mary, Maggy & Marta), Sidney Myer, Craig Rubano, KT Sullivan and Amra-Faye Wright…. John Weber (piano) and Steve Doyle (Bass).

An especially emotional moment of the evening was actor Holt McCallany (son of Julie Wilson) paying tribute to his mother and singing “I’m Becoming My Mother”.

HOLT McCALLANY (son of Julie Wilson)

KT SULLIVAN, artistic director The Mabel Mercer Foundation

KT SULLIVAN

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

CAROLE J. BUFFORD

MELISSA ERRICO

MELISSA ERRICO

JEFF HARNAR

JEFF HARNAR

SUE MATSUKI

SUE MATSUKI

CRAIG RUBANO

CRAIG RUBANO

KAREN AKERS

KAREN AKERS

SIDNEY MYER

SIDNEY MYER

AMRA-FAYE WRIGHT

AMRA-FAYE WRIGHT

HOLT McCALLANY

HOLT McCALLANY

HOLT McCALLANY (son of Julie Wilson)

MOIPEI

MOIPEI

PATRICK McENROE, KT SULLIVAN,MELISSA ERRICO,MOIPEI

HOLT McCALLANY & CAROLE J. BUFFORD

MOIPEI & HOLT McCALLANY

EDA SOROKOFF & ELIZABETH SULLIVAN (Happy 94th Birthday)

MELISSA ERRICO PATRICK McENROE, KT SULLIVAN

JEFF HARNAR & MOIPEI

HEATHER SULLIVAN, HOWARD MORGAN, Chairman of the board Mabel Mercer Foundation, ELANOR MORGAN

KT SULLIVAN, ELIZABETH SULLIVAN, HEATHER SULLIVAN,Dr. Patrick Sullivan

KT SULLIVAN

KT SULLIVAN, PETER HANSON, Linda Hanson

EDA SOROKOFF & CRHRISTEL IBSEN

MONAH GETTNER,KT SULLIVAN, ALAN GETTNER

BRIAN KALTNER, Board Member Mabel Mercer Foundation & DEBBIE DAMP

HOWARD MORGAN, KT SULLIVAN, CAROLE J. BUFFORD,MOIPEI, MATHEW INGE

PATRICK McENROE & MELISSA ERRICO

KT SULLIVAN & STEPHEN SOROKOFF

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Cabaret

Karen Mason and Louis Rosen

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Karen Mason and Louis Rosen met back in the 70s in Chicago. Karen was a young singer accompanied by a the incomparable pianist-songwriter Brian Lasser. He was close friends with guitarist, pianist-songwriter, Louis Rosen. Mason and Lasser moved to New York and two years later Rosen was there as well. A little over ten years later Lasser died of AIDS. Rosen and Mason have made sure that Lasser’s music is remembered.

Karen Mason

Louis Rosen

Mason and Rosen are back together again celebrating nearly 50 years of collaboration and friendship. The evening is stripped down bare with Rosen on guitar and piano and Mason and Rosen on vocals. Most of the material is Rosen’s songs many from his most recent albums, but added are a few selections by  Lasser, that make you know he died way to soon.

Karen Mason

Louis Rosen

Rosen’s music is what singer/songwriters use to write, full of blues riffs, uplifting swing, folk melodies, jazz cadences and soulful powerful lyrics. It is like an old soul left their words to impart. This night so made me want to hear his newest album “Love and Ashes”. Rosen is a musicians musician.

“A master interpreter… Mason produces a depth of sound and brilliance of color that converge in the work of very few singers!” (Chicago Tribune)

Mason has an authenticity to her voice. She is a storyteller, rich in tone and truly excels on Lasser’s music. She is a belter at heart, but Rosen’s music has her venerable and exposed, which is a new side to her art.

It is always wonderful to watch two artists collaborate,

Luba Mason and Karen Mason

Louis Rosen

Karen Mason and Louis Rosen: Ages Since the Last Time: Chelsea Table + Stage, 152 West 26th Street.

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