The Joint was Jumpin’

The Joint is a new musical written by Curtis D. Jones with music and lyrics by Timothy Graphenreed from a concept by Denise S. Gray. Production directed and choreographed by Kenneth L. Roberson

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The story of the Joint is a real time/flashback tale of the golden days of a nightclub in 1947 called “The Joint.”
The owner of the club, Queenie, played brilliantly by Sheila K. Davis, holds a vocal talent show for a recording studio and the winner receives a record contract. This attracts the upstairs neighbors Minister Brinkley (played with grace and power by Erick Pinnick) and his wife Evelyn (Brenda Braxton who captivated the audience) to join in and leads to a victory for Evelyn. Fast forward to 1967 and we find Corrida (played with fine subtly by Crystal Joy), the daughter of Minister Brinkley and Evelyn, has returned from NYC after her dream of singing for a record company fell through. We come to understand that Evelyn was not in Corridas life after her record deal in 1947 this causes tension between her and her father because of the Ministers abandonment issues.

The music enhanced the backstory and helped develop the dramatic tension between the characters in this imaginative tale that respondents both as a period piece and a modern parable.  From Corrida’s “Don’t Know Me At All” to Queenie’s  “Stop!” that reveals her mounting frustration with her current [young] paramour, Buster (a high-energy Albert Christmas). The concept of the band as a permanent fixture was used smartly throughout the performance. It created some sound and audibility issues in the expansive space but that production not product and can be cured with better sound equipment – or a different type of space. Even with that, it didn’t stop the music moving the audience with its rousing score of Jazz, Gospel and Blues numbers.
This initial workshop of “The Joint” had the house jumping and laughing with an energy akin to a Baptist church revival. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Reviews are contributed through various services and freelancers. 
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Nina on LINE: I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me.

14188268_10208896884433178_8509233883462506887_oNikolina Cudic, but you can call her “Nina,” is an actress originally from Croatia but now considers herself a “NewYorker.”  She is part of the new, young, bold, exciting cast of the 50th Anniversary production of LINE opening October 17 at the 13th Street Repertory Theater.

She is part of the ensemble of ‘’Seven’’ the play which combines stories of seven women from around the world who made big changes in their home countries and contributed to their communities by their hard and brave work. Pretty intense … we at Drama-Queens applaud her for it.

She is also a film actress, writer, and producer! You go GIRL!

We spoke with her briefly on life, art, and LINE.

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“In my chosen profession, I want the most to discover, reveal and express the honest, truthful, colorful and raw human nature. 
What inspires me? Many things inspire me. Mostly people. People who are living out their purpose bravely and who dare greatly. Life situations and life itself inspire me. I get inspired almost every day.  Nature. Ocean. Unpredictability of life inspire me. Truth inspire me. Different characters and situations, life’s sense of humor inspire me. I love acting, but I also love and can do other things such as writing, producing, directing, editing, photography, designing etc. My vision for the part [of Molly] is to use my imagination to make it entertaining and honest. I want to be remembered for pursuing my dreams, my heart’s desires, and for daring greatly. But if that never happens, I would probably be designing clothes within our family brand Lisette Vogue from Croatia or would do something else connected to movies, such as producing, directing, writing screenplays, etc.

I would like to end this interview with the quote by Anais Nin who inspires me: ‘I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I cannot transform into something marvelous, I let go.” 

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Wild Words: A Moment with Courteney

 

 

200462_1003005592558_2324_nA singer for multiple decades, Courteney understands the value of diversification. When not preparing to hurl herself over a parapet in Tosca, she is singing showtunes, blues, and jazz. She portrayed legendary blues singer, Bessie Smith, in the original play, The Blues of the Empress. She is thrilled to be working with friend and colleague, Mary Elizabeth Micari (Rev. Mary) again. Courteney is also a featured soloist of the web television series, The Opera Den, soon to be shown on Bric Public Access Television in Brooklyn, and host of the new web talk show, The Diva Report currently in pre-production.
She shared her thoughts on art and life with us:
What is your vision and process for the play/part?
For singing jazz or blues, I usually work to understand the style of the music, the original singer’s style and the words, which can be tricky in these types of songs – especially since words tend to have double meanings. Then I look for nuances in the music – scatting for jazz, bending of notes for blues, for example. Lastly, I want to make sure I understand the actual singing style and try to make sure I’m using that – full throated sounds for blues, smooth sultry notes for jazz, etc.  If I’m singing opera, it’s a completely different and more complicated process.

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?
The music coupled with the theatrical nature of opera. Everything is big and dramatic, which is right up my alley. I also like the idea of playing a character from beginning to end and the development that happens throughout the opera.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”
To entertain the world, and I mean that literally. I love to sing and I feel that I have a talent that should be shared with as many people as possible. If fame and wealth come with that, I’ll take it, but that’s not enough to motivate me to do this.
Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?
Yes it is. I had a very lucrative corporate career before deciding to sing full time. I had to do this. It is who I am as a person and it defines who I am as a professional.
Along those lines, if you couldn’t do this, what would you do?
I actually do it already. I have a production company which creates web based television programs with operatic themes. The company is also launching a new web television network, Classical Voice Television (www.classicalvoicetv.com) which will broadcast television entertainment including comedies, dramas and lifestyles shows, all with operatic characters and themes.
How do you want [legit] history to remember you?
As a passionate talent, who shared her love for music and singing to all those who were able to hear me.
granny-memes-5Last words?
Come see a different side of my talent,
Blues, at Granny’s Blue-mers at
The Duplex on October 8th at 9:30pm.
You won’t want to miss it.
The singers are great and so are the musicians!!

The Gospel of Reverend Mary

13332748_10208352010410700_3153122507412237728_nMary Elizabeth Micari has her hand in EVERYTHING. She is a celebrated singer with a recently released album; she is an accomplished theatrical artist and artistic director of a prominent New York stage and film company; she is an independent producer; an artist-in-residence at the legendary 13th Street Theater; she’s a Reiki master; herbalist; aromatherapist; sound & music healer; teacher with her own school; and creator of the P.A.T/H. Method (Performing Arts Training – Holistically). Wait a minute let me catch my breath before mentioning more of what she does.

iconsquare3918eaca-a1e7-7bc8-a04d513be4055620In one of her few breaks, she chatted with us about her latest endeavor, Granny’s BLUE-MERS, a musical act at the Duplex in NYC. She has researched and resurrected a gaggle of tunes with risque lyrics, showing her audience what a REAL double entendre looks like! 

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

Life.  I think the uncertainty of it and the shortness of it and the impermanence of all things..even me.  I feel like there is so much to sing, write and do that it will be impossible to do it all in one lifetime.  So, I find what feels best and bite into it…hard. I studied Opera for many years because I just adored it and the feeling it gave me.  Now, as I have transitioned more into Blues and Jazz I have that same feeling. It’s like attaching to a channel much bigger than I am.  Tapping into something huge and old and very powerful.  I think I’d also say that it is that…that big spiritual connection I use as my Muse, my inspiration. I believe that the creator of all we know is female and I revere the Goddess within me and all things.  I sing and create for her on the material plane.

What is your vision for this Act?

This act is full of something called Hokum Blues or just plain dirty blues that were sung in speakeasy clubs and bars during prohibition and after.  Some of these are songs going all the way to the 50’s and the Rock and Roll era.  I want to educate and entertain.  I would like to have the audience become more aware of this music and the people that did it way back then.  Some of these songs are over 90 years old! I just want to have a great time!  I love history very much and adore bathing in old music.  I am working with a group of people who also feel the same way as I do.  Liz, Courteney and Dan all love Blues and older music.

These are songs women sang…back in the day.  They represent the strong desire women have sexually.  This is still a taboo subject! Its women’s power….their sexuality and their desire that has been stinted and sublimated for eons.

I like showing people what that is.  Even if its done in a “more polite” way than we’d do today.

I call it Burlesque for the Ears.

 

 What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

I want to work.  I want to sing.  I want to be happy doing it.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

Nope.  I can do a lot of different things.

I am a makeup and hair artist.  I worked backstage on Broadway while running my own theater company and raising my son.  I minored in Costume Design in College so I have put a lot of that to use as a day job for many years.

I teach voice and piano as well as musicianship. Being an Opera singer one is required to understand both the voice and music.  I teach all genre of music though.  Its all done the same…each is only a style.

I do Tarot and Astrology.  I teach the sacred pagan arts and I am a Wiccan Priestess who teaches that path as well.  I am a Reverend but not one of Christianity.  I work as a Pagan minister and a Reiki Master. I am involved deeply in Reiki and Sound Healing. I have just begun to produce Sound Healing events.  I am going on to do more that have the Goddess at their center.

I am an Herbalist with clients. I create things using aromatherapy as well.

I  LOVE to cook.

I write music and poetry as well as lyrics.  I also write a couple of blogs here and there.

I act…I direct.  I am the Artistic Director of Genesis Repertory Ensemble.

I do handicrafts now and then and I am really thinking I need to paint and sew better.

Oh …I forgot….I worked in Veterinary medicine for a very long time when my son was young…about 10 years as a practice manager and caretaker.  I have also done a bunch of cat sitting!!!  I adore animals. I also do Reiki healing for animals.

When you are in the business of being a performer you need to have handy skills to make money. I have been lucky to find very interesting pathways to do that.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

Any of the above and I do that all now too!  I was faced with losing my voice when I became ill about 5 years ago.  Most of the healing modalities I am engaged in came to the front because I dedicated myself to healing myself. That led to using many of these things (have been doing much spiritual work in art since college) in my own performance work, in my directing work and in my singing as well as in my teaching. So now, they all seem interchangeable which, was one of my aims.  I know it sounds weird but I see everything I do as one thing.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

Long enough to remember to come to my next show! LOL…also as …I guess a Renaissance Woman!  I like that phrase.

Last words? 

Is all about love and fun.  I am here to bring whatever divinity I can to earth.

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THE RISE OF LEIGH CURRAN AND “WHY WATER FALLS” She’s Back in NYC with her AMAZING One-Person Show.

 

 

leigh-curran-jacket-0039-borderless-credit-cardLeigh Curran’s stirring one-woman show, WHY WATER FALLS, currently enjoying a successful run in California, returns to New York as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival on September 30 @ 9:00 pm on Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street, New York City.

We did get a chance to interview Leigh last time, but happily, we – and you – get another chance to hear from this amazing woman and see her brilliant one-person ride through life, career, and progeny.

Why Water Falls – Click Here to View Commercial

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We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

The struggle to become whole – to embrace one’s authenticity.  In one way or another all my plays are about the fears, joys, eccentricities and challenges that arise when connecting with truths that can no longer be ignored.

 

Tell us about your play … and why you wrote it?

I’d always wanted to write a solo show about a writer who doesn’t like to talk about herself.  I started Why Water Falls in 1997 in a solo workshop and performed the first 10 minutes to an enthusiastic response.  Then it got buried as work and life rolled over on me.  Occasionally it would surface and I’d find myself wondering what it was the writer didn’t want to talk about – then I’d shrug my shoulders and go back to the task at hand.  Finally, in 2013 I wrote a personal essay about my ambivalence about having children, the abortions that ensued and the journey that lead me to motherhood at 70.  Almost immediately I realized that that was what the writer didn’t want to talk about and I began the task of knitting my solo show and my personal essay together.  I’d also always wanted to write something that was non-linear.  Why Water Falls moves back and forth between real life, memories and the inner voices that push the writer out of her comfort zone and into a deeper experience of the choices she made as a young woman and the acceptance that comes when there’s nowhere to go but up.

 

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

Respect.  Greater recognition.  And an agent and/or manager would be nice.

 

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

I never thought of it as all I can do but, in the sense that everything I’ve ever done has involved writing and performing I guess it is.  In addition to being an actor, a published playwright, novelist and poet I was also the Founder/Artistic Director of the Virginia Avenue Project for 22 years.  The Project used long term, one-on-one Theatre Arts mentoring to give struggling children life skills.  It plays a pivotal role in Why Water Falls.  And while I never dreamed of starting a non-profit or being a leader – I’ve been lucky to have had a very varied career while earning a living doing what I love.

 

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

I have really had to think about this question.  I’d like to be in one of the giving back professions.  I was a hospice volunteer for five years during the AIDS crisis in New York City and am about to start volunteering again at a hospice in Los Angeles.  I like working with people who are nearing the end of their lives.  They have no time for small talk and neither do I.  People used to say: How do you do that – isn’t it depressing?  I always found it an uplifting, moving and deeply human experience.  I could happily work at the admin level in a hospice while continuing my involvement with the patients.

 

Last words? 

Thanks for focusing on Women in Theatre.  There is much untapped humor, tenderness and wisdom there.  My hope is that, through readings, festivals and theatrical productions our work will continue to erode the resistance to the female perspective.  I have been lucky in that The Lunch Girls, Alterations and Walking the Blonde have been produced usually to favorable notices but I had to drop out of sight in 1997 in order to earn a living.  Why Water Falls has been my re-entry into theatre in New York and Los Angeles.  I know it is edgy, bold and can make people uncomfortable.  I hope in the days to come, the risks women playwrights take – and the discomfort their exploration of the human condition can generate – will be taken seriously, valued highly and enthusiastically celebrated.