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April 2008 Archives

April 1, 2008

Did you attend Literature to Life on Monday night?

On Monday evening, we presented Growing Up A Slave as part of our Literature to Life Series. This performance was derived from slave narratives transcribed by the Federal Writers' Project in the 1930s. Did you attend? What did you think of the performance and discussion?

April 7, 2008

Q & A with SteveSongs!

Connecticut native and children's music entertainer SteveSongs is performing as part of Family Fun Day at The Bushnell on April 19. Family Fun Day, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., is free and open to the public; however, the SteveSongs performance at 11 a.m. is a ticketed event. Check out this Q & A with SteveSongs!

Q: How did you get your start in the children's music

A: A decade ago I was working at a bank and went down to meet some colleagues for lunch. I was waiting in the lobby and there was a preschool that had a big picture window that opened up into the lobby. It was like a fishbowl filled with children. I saw a couple of kids who were looking at me and I gave them a funny face. They started laughing and brought their friends over and suddenly there were a dozen 4-year-olds. I was making faces at them. They were falling on the floor thinking I was the funniest thing ever. My coworkers came in and I remember literally saying to them "Now that's my kind of audience!" That's where it all began.

Q: We understand that you're enjoying even greater national attention this year. What news can you share about your latest projects?

A: Yes, I'm very excited that I'll be one of the new hosts on the PBS Morning Block starting in May. I'll be playing a number of original songs written specifically to fit in with the daily morning block themes. The song segments will be aired nationally in between the popular television shows Curious George, Dragon Tales, Clifford and Super Why. I wrote most of the songs with my producer Anand Nayak and we found it an interesting challenge to create so many songs that were all exactly 1 minute long. Filming the song segments on the PBS set in New York City was a unique thrill for me. And if that wasn't exciting enough - we did the filming only three weeks after my son Joshua was born. He and my wife Lori got to visit the set, but he wasn't that impressed - he slept most of the time. Another exciting announcement is the national release of my new DVD 'Marvelous Musical Adventures' through Rounder Records in August.

Q: How will new your role as "Mr. Steve" on PBS KIDS compare with the SteveSongs recordings and live shows that we've enjoyed over the last ten years?

A: Actually what I'll be doing as "Mr. Steve" will be the same thing I used to do as a music and movement specialist in hundreds of preschools around CT and MA. While my albums and many big concerts include a full band of instruments along with backup singers and more
- the "Mr. Steve" segments have more of a small classroom feel. There are 3 or 4 children on set with me and the child singing and playing along from home is an important part of the group. I wrote all the songs (along with my producer Anand Nayak) specifically for the Morning Block. The songs are interactive, short and fun.

Q: Many of your songs cover interesting and unusual topics, like Gravity, Ducks Hatching, The Water Cycle, etc. From where do you draw your inspiration?

A: I get inspiration and ideas everywhere; for instance, I did some songwriting workshops with a few 4th grade classes in NJ last week and one of the songs was a really catchy tune about taking a test on the solar system while we are in the solar system. Then just yesterday I was signing an autograph for an audience member. I meant to write "Rock and Roll," but I accidentally added an 's' to the first word "Rocks," so I wrote "Rocks and Rolls" and then I
thought to myself "that's a neat idea, a rock and roll song about rocks and rolls." I walk around with a tape recorder everywhere and when I get ideas I record them. I literally have hundreds of tapes filled with ideas - most of them are probably bad ideas - but some are gems - that's what brainstorming is all about.

Q: Congratulations - we hear you're also a new dad! How has being a parent influenced you professionally?

A: Well, I have much less time to be a professional. But besides that, I must say, one of my favorite things about this job is being able to experience the world like a kid again. The wonder and energy with which they bound through their young lives is just plain cool to see. Having a child of my own has brought that appreciation to a whole new level. My wife and I can't believe that we made this awesome little creature. Every day with my son is an inspiration.

Q: Is there anything new we can expect at your Bushnell performance?

A:Yes - I'll be playing a few of the new songs I wrote for PBS with some brand new verses that I think are pretty funny. I'll also have my new EP available - it has 3 new songs along with a 6 minute sneak peak video of the upcoming DVD. And most importantly I'll be wearing a new red shirt. If that's not exciting, I don't know what is.

April 15, 2008

Special guest blog by one on our Music Man stars, Jason Graae!

What is your role in The Music Man - A 50th Anniversary Tribute?

I play Marcellus Washburn. Marcellus used to be in the con business with Harold Hill, but he wasn't really that good at it and he decided it was time to live a simple honest life so he settled down in Iowa. Too bad, because if he kept going, maybe he could have been the title role of a musical too.

You are rehearsing this week at The Bushnell. What is a typical day at rehearsal?

Rehearsals are always nutty. Usually it takes a couple days to acclimate and get to know everybody, but we open in a week and Phil McKinley, our director, said there's no time to for any of that. He even warned me not to joke around too much, so I'm trying to be good. That's very difficult for me. This is a HUGE show - big cast, lots of wonderful songs and A LOT of dancing. In a week - It's CRAZY! Today, a lot of us were running back and forth between 3 rooms jumping from one scene to another. It was a frenzy not unlike Filene's Basement on Labor Day. I had to sing "Shipoopee" early this morning and I think I pulled an eyebrow it's so high.

What is your life like as an actor?

Oh it's a roller coaster! Except it doesn't make me throw up. Well, sometimes...

Why did you want to do this particular show?

The Bushnell Theatre BEGGED me to do this and when they said I 'd get more $$ than Patrick and Shirley put together, I agreed.

OK Not really- I just love this show and I have worked with Patrick Cassidy and Lisa Vroman and Shirley Jones and they are the absolute greatest. I worked with Shirley last summer in Oklahoma in Pittsburgh.Or was it Pittsburgh in Oklahoma? We had a ball. And Patrick and Lisa and I have done many things together, nothing that I can talk about here. I've also worked with the sassy Peg Hickey,our choreographer, and I've always WANTED to work with Phil McKinley our director, who I LOVE (Ihopehereadsthis). It's quite an emotional experience doing Music Man with Patrick and Shirley, who was so radiant in the film. Yesterday, Patrick and Lisa were singing "Till There Was You" and Shirley, Philip, me, oh heck EVERYBODY in the room was crying their eyes out. I'd love to write more but I'm late to rehearsal and I don't want to be yelled at. BYE!

April 18, 2008

Special guest blog by Music Man star David Coffee!

David Coffee plays Mayor Shinn in The Bushnell's production of The Music Man - A 50th Anniversary Tribute, running April 22-27. Welcome to The Bushnell Blog, David!

Dear Bushnell Blog,

Howdy! This is David Coffee writing to you from beautiful Hartford, CT. (And, it really IS beautiful!) I am here to play Mayor Shinn in the Bushnell's concert staging of "THE MUSIC MAN," but I actually make my home in Arlington, TX.

This is a very special production. It is the first show produced by the Bushnell! It's not a tour. It also incorporates the talents of Edward Cumming of The Hartford Symphony as well as a chorus from the Hartt School of Music! It is also a special reunion for our two stars. Shirley Jones played Marian (the Librarian) in the film, but she told me she had not performed the show since her screen appearance. She is playing Mrs. Paroo in our production. Patrick Cassidy (her youngest son and our Harold Hill) is also seen in the film version; but you have to look VERY closely because Shirley was pregnant with him at the time of the filming. Patrick said he has been waiting his whole life to play this role.

This is the 50th anniversary of the show's debut on Broadway. Personally, I'm celebrating my 40th anniversary of acting this year! I started when I was eleven!

One of the neatest things about being in the Theatre is the people! One may go for years without seeing someone and suddenly, being cast in a show with them, you pick up old friendships like it was yesterday. I am enjoying that experience with several of our cast members. Our fantastic Marian (Lisa Vroman) and I had the pleasure to appear together in Kopit & Yeston's "PHANTOM" in 1992. Lisa went on to perform the role of Christine in Lloyd Webber's "PHANTOM" for YEARS afterward! Her voice is amazing! And when you hear her and Shirley and little Abigail McMillan as Amaryllis sing "Goodnight My Someone" - well, just bring a hankie! It sends a shiver of pride to see three generations on that stage! I am also delighted to be reunited with Kym Chambers (who plays Mrs. Squires), Adam Cates (Ensemble and Dance Captain), Mary Jo McConnell (who plays Alma Hix), Buddy Crutchfield (who plays Oliver Hix) and Florence Sturgeon (who plays Maud Dunlop). Kym and I did "THE WIZARD OF OZ" last summer with our director, Phil McKinley and Adam. We also appeared in "CAMELOT" at Boston's Shubert Theatre (where it played its original out of town tryout). Mary Jo and I appeared in a ten-person production of "MY FAIR LADY" for Portland Center Stage (Oregon) and the Dallas Theater Center. Buddy is also a Texas boy who got his start where I did: Casa Manana's theatre-in-the-round in Fort Worth, Texas. We did "GUYS AND DOLLS" together back in the mid 1990's. Another Casa Manana alum is our marvelous Music Supervisor on this show, the incredible Eugene Gwodz. Florence and I go back even farther. We both attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. (Home of the Fighting Horn Frogs!)

Then there are my new dear friends: My wonderful stage family (the delightful Mary Stout as my wife and Bradley Benjamin and Laura Spineti as my talented daughters Zaneeta and Gracie), great roommate Bob Freschi (who plays the anvil salesman, Charlie Cowell) and my part-time chauffeur, the hilarious Jason Graae (who plays Harold Hill's old pal, Marcellus Washburn).

When you come to "THE MUSIC MAN" (and I strongly encourage you to do so), you'll see a tremendously talented group of people who came together eight days before our opening to begin to prepare this classic for your enjoyment. I hope YOU will see a small midwestern town develop before your very eyes. And, I hope you see what I see: an amazing family (somewhat dysfunctional) of players, performers and staff presenting you with the gift of a memorable evening you will never forget.

See you there,
David Coffee

April 22, 2008

The curtain goes up on The Music Man - A 50th Anniversary Tribute tonight!

Tonight is opening night for the first ever Bushnell-produced concert-style musical, The Music Man - A 50th Anniversary Tribute! Are you coming to the show? Let us know what you think of the show!

About April 2008

This page contains all entries posted to The Bushnell Blog in April 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2008 is the previous archive.

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