1. All’s well that ends well this Saturday when Lyrics &Lyricists presents its final show of the season, “Brush Up Your Shakespeare: The Bard and the Broadway Musical.” The cast includes three 92Y newcomers who are eager to introduce themselves with our L&L Q&A.
Britney Coleman, who has appeared across the country as Deena in Dreamgirls, Rapunzel in Into the Woods and Kala in Tarzan: The MusicalDaniel Breaker, who played the Donkey in Shrek the Musical and the Youth in Passing Strange on BroadwayHeather Jane Rolff, who’s just finished the 25th anniversary North American tour of Les Misérables
What’s your favorite song from the American Songbook?Britney: “My Funny Valentine” by Richard Rogers and Lorenz HartDaniel: At the moment, “Willow Willow Willow” from the musical Kean by Robert Wright and George Forrest. This is such a haunting piece that beautifully compliments the “Willow” song in Verdi’s Otello.Heather: I think my “favorites” change with my moods, but I will always have a soft spot for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg, “Come Rain or Come Shine” by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer and “What’ll I Do?” by Irving Berlin.
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What other artists would you like to perform with whom you haven’t yet?Britney: Audra McDonald!Daniel: If Audra McDonald is looking for an acting partner, please tell her to give me a call.Heather: Bernadette Peters, Martina McBride and Reba McEntire
What is your favorite “guilty pleasure” song beyond the American Songbook—rock, country, hiphop, etc?Britney: Anything and everything Motown. Mary Wells’ “Two Lovers” is a particular favorite. I can never get enough of The Punch Brothers, India.Arie, Janelle Monae and Sarah Vaughan, as well as Blood, Sweat and Tears. You could say I have eclectic taste.Daniel: This list is ever changing. At the moment: “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead. I sang this song at my last concert at 54 Below. People weren’t expecting me to sing that type of song. It’s always a delight to surprise the audience.Heather: I listen to absolutely everything except Heavy Metal!! I especially love all things country, and my “go-to” happy music is singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles.
What was your first professional gig?Britney: My dad is a recording artist in Michigan, and when I was around five years old, he wrote and produced a song called “Stop the Violence.” You can hear me at the end of the track saying, “Stop the violence just for us kids!”Daniel: The Taming of the Shrew in an open air theater in Jacksonville, Florida…in August. A heavy wool costume, a bloody mouth, and a few cases of heat stroke. All in all, lots of fun.Heather: I got my Equity card doing the world premiere of a musical called Meet Me At The Pitkin, about performers in the heydays of Brooklyn’s legendary Lowe’s Pitkin Theatre in the 1930s.
If you weren’t a performer, what would you do?Britney: I would teach. I’ve always been interested in Music Education, so I have no doubt this will happen at some point down the line.Daniel: Two options: (1) Open a restaurant in Sydney, Australia; or (2) become the principle conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. After Simon Rattle steps down, of course.Heather: I would definitely be a professional crafter, scrapbooker and master bedazzler—a mini Martha Stewart, if you will!
What’s your favorite restaurant?Britney: Kashkaval (856 9th Ave) in Hell’s KitchenDaniel: Impossible question. For seafood, Le Bernardin (155 W 51st St). For French cuisine, Buvette (42 Grove St). For Nouveau-Korean, Momofuko Ssam Bar (207 2nd Ave). For steak, Porterhouse at Columbus Circle (10 Columbus Circle, 4th floor). This list just made me hungry.Heather: This is a complicated question to ask someone who just spent the better part of two years touring (and eating) her way across the country. In Seattle, it’s Salumi (309 Third Ave South). In St. Louis, it’s Cleveland Heath (106 North Main St, Edwardsville, IL). In Boston, it’s The Barking Crab (88 Sleeper St) and The Friendly Toast (1 Hampshire St, Cambridge). In Chicago, it’s Hot Doug’s (3324 N California Ave) and Yolk (three locations). My favorite “anytime” place in New York City is 5 Napkin Burger (four locations).
Who’s your favorite Beatle, and why?Britney: I have no business choosing just one, but my mom’s favorite has always been John Lennon because of his focus on peace, acceptance and love in both his music and personal life. I’d say I have to agree with her 100%!Daniel: I would say my favorite is the Western Bark Beetle for its resilience. Also, Ringo Starr is pretty cool, too.Heather: I don’t think it’s nice to play favorites when it comes to The Beatles!!

    All’s well that ends well this Saturday when Lyrics &Lyricists presents its final show of the season, “Brush Up Your Shakespeare: The Bard and the Broadway Musical.” The cast includes three 92Y newcomers who are eager to introduce themselves with our L&L Q&A.

    Britney Coleman, who has appeared across the country as Deena in Dreamgirls, Rapunzel in Into the Woods and Kala in Tarzan: The Musical
    Daniel Breaker, who played the Donkey in Shrek the Musical and the Youth in Passing Strange on Broadway
    Heather Jane Rolff, who’s just finished the 25th anniversary North American tour of Les Misérables

    What’s your favorite song from the American Songbook?
    Britney: “My Funny Valentine” by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart
    Daniel: At the moment, “Willow Willow Willow” from the musical Kean by Robert Wright and George Forrest. This is such a haunting piece that beautifully compliments the “Willow” song in Verdi’s Otello.
    Heather: I think my “favorites” change with my moods, but I will always have a soft spot for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg, “Come Rain or Come Shine” by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer and “What’ll I Do?” by Irving Berlin.

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  2. Jerome Kern, “The Dean” of the modern musical
A new Lyrics & Lyricists show opens tomorrow at 92Y: “The Song is You: Jerome Kern, Coast to Coast.” So a new cast is ready to take on our L&L Q&A series: jazz recording star Karrin Allyson, L&L favorite song and dance man Jeffrey Denman, Broadway’s longest-running “Phantom” Howard McGillin and bi-coastal cabaret celebrity Paula West.
What’s your favorite song from the American Songbook?Karrin Allyson: Today it might be “What a Wonderful World,” but who knows what it might be tomorrow? Jeffry Denman: “The Nearness of You”—music by Hoagy Carmichael, lyrics by Ned Washington Howard McGillin: “All The Things You Are”—it’s just about the most perfect song ever written. I don’t get to sing it in these concerts, but it’s in Debby Boone’s very capable hands. “The Way You Look Tonight,” also by Jerome Kern, is also one of my all-time faves. Paula West: “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel, as sung by Mahalia Jackson.
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What other artists would you like to perform with whom you haven’t yet? Karrin: Bonnie Raitt! Jeffry: Chita Rivera and Sutton Foster Howard: I did a concert of Ragtime recently, and although I worked with Terrence McNally on Kiss Of The Spider Woman on Broadway, wouldn’t it be great if he and Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty teamed up again? Now that would be worth getting excited about! Paula: It would be a dream to perform with Bob Dylan or Cécile McLorin Salvant.
What is your favorite “guilty pleasure” song beyond the American Songbook—rock, country, hiphop, etc? Karrin: “Jolene” by Dolly Parton Jeffry: ‘70s progressive rock: early Genesis (not the Phil Collins Genesis of the ‘80s), Yes, etc Howard: Anything James Taylor. I’m a huge fan. Paula: I never feel guilty about what I listen to. In fact, I listen to “old school” R&B, funk, rock and country more than the Songbook. I love Marvin Gaye, Al Green, James Brown and Fringe.
What was your first professional gig? Karrin: At a restaurant called M’s Pub in Omaha Jeffry: I played Theo in Pippin at Reuben’s Backstage Dinner Theatre in Buffalo. I was 13 years old and making $27 a week—A FORTUNE!Howard: Sunday Mass at the Old Mission Santa Barbara. There was a folk mass every Sunday, and we were a tight little quartet of guitar, organ and two singers. We packed them in, and we had the wedding market in Santa Barbara sewn up for years! Paula: Singing in a Mexican restaurant in the Castro in San Francisco.
If you weren’t a performer, what would you do? Karrin: Some kind of environmental work, or possibly dealing with other languages somehow Jeffry: Either an architect or a comic book artist Howard: I’d teach. I also love carpentry; I love working with my hands and have done quite a bit of it. There’s something so satisfying about that kind of work. Paula: Something to do with the caring and rescuing of dogs.
What’s your favorite restaurant? Karrin: Any place that’s delicious and quiet. Jeffry: Thái Son Vietnamese Restaurant (89 Baxter St) in ChinatownHoward: Gabriel’s Bar & Restaurant (11 W 60th St.)—great food, location, ambience, and excellent service. Paula: Depends on the city: In New York: Bathazar (80 Spring St.), Cave Boulud (20 E 76th St.) and Shake Shack In San Francisco: Slanted Door (1 Ferry Bldg #3), Big 4 (Huntington Hotel) and Dottie’s True Blue Café (28 6th St.)
Who’s your favorite Beatle, and why? Karrin: I don’t think I have just one! Jeffry: Who: John Lennon; Why: “Nowhere Man,” “Because,” “If I Fall”Howard: When I was a kid, it was Paul all the way. Now I see them as a great, once-in-a-lifetime group of musicians who came together at the perfect time to create some of our most iconic musical standards. Paula: John Lennon. He seemed to be the most artistic and political, although George Harrison would be a close second.

    Jerome Kern, “The Dean” of the modern musical

    A new Lyrics & Lyricists show opens tomorrow at 92Y: The Song is You: Jerome Kern, Coast to Coast.” So a new cast is ready to take on our L&L Q&A series: jazz recording star Karrin Allyson, L&L favorite song and dance man Jeffrey Denman, Broadway’s longest-running “Phantom” Howard McGillin and bi-coastal cabaret celebrity Paula West.

    What’s your favorite song from the American Songbook?
    Karrin Allyson: Today it might be “What a Wonderful World,” but who knows what it might be tomorrow?
    Jeffry Denman: “The Nearness of You”—music by Hoagy Carmichael, lyrics by Ned Washington
    Howard McGillin: “All The Things You Are”—it’s just about the most perfect song ever written. I don’t get to sing it in these concerts, but it’s in Debby Boone’s very capable hands. “The Way You Look Tonight,” also by Jerome Kern, is also one of my all-time faves.
    Paula West: “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Carousel, as sung by Mahalia Jackson.

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