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Posts tagged ‘Lynne Shankel’

17
Jan

Lindsay Mendez: The rise of a fan favorite, still rising

lindsay mendez godspell broadway headshotAlthough not yet a marquee name, Lindsay Mendez sits comfortably atop many Broadway fans’ lists of favorite performers. For those unfamiliar with her, that’s all changing thanks to her well-received performance in this season’s revival of Godspell, as well as her endless lineup of cabaret gigs. In her latest concert engagement, Mendez headlines with her jazz partner Marco Paguia January 18 at Joe’s Pub. Before a performance of Godspell (but not after a day of workshop and concert rehearsal), Mendez sat down with Stage Rush to discuss the endless amounts of energy required for Godspell, singing with her Broadway A-list friend (and former roommate) Sierra Boggess at the ASTEP New York City Christmas concert, and whether she sees above-the-title billing in her future.

This show looks like it’s so much fun to perform. What’s been the best moment so far?
I’d say opening night, just because it was such a mammoth task to take on redoing this show. In the beginning of rehearsal, we all thought this could either be really awesome and fun, or it was going to be really bad. It took a while for it to come together. When we opened, the show was fluid and wonderful.

Since your character is called Lindsay, what qualities of Lindsay Mendez are in the character you play in Godspell?
I think the Lindsay in the show has a lot of joy and definitely wants to go her own way. She’s also very materialistic. I don’t think I’m quite as bad as her, in that respect. But I really like playing her because I get to wear really fancy things. I don’t wear anything this nice. There aren’t many things that differ from her and I and it’s been really fun to have the audience get to know who I really am.

Is that difficult to play yourself?
I feel like I always bring a huge part of myself to any role I play. In Everyday Rapture, I played myself as well, in a way. I’m kind of used to playing myself. It’s not as foreign to me.

This is such a vocally heavy show with sustained energy. How is your voice and energy level holding up?
My body is more tired than my voice. The first couple weeks, the cast was saying there’s no way we’re going to be able to do this. We’re on stage the whole time; we sing every song; we never get water; we never get a break. I had to figure out how to manage. When you’re doing a Broadway show, it can start to feel like jail, in a way. All you do is wake up and hope you have enough of a voice to do the show and that your body feels good enough to perform at night. I’m trying to find the balance of having my own life in the daytime, then coming here at night and doing a great job. It’s an ongoing learning process for me. Read more »

16
Dec

Stage Rush TV: Episode 86

Talking points:

What do you think, Rushers? Who had the best performance of the night at ASTEP’s Christmas concert? Would you forgo Christmas presents in exchange for hearing Raul Esparza sing (like I would)? What’s your favorite Christmas song that you’d like to see one of these guys perform? (An album of songs featured in the concert is available on iTunes and at Sh-K-Boom Records.) Leave your swooning and inappropriate thoughts in the comments below!

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15
Dec

Concert recap: Raul Esparza, Sierra Boggess rock ASTEP New York City Christmas

raul esparza astep new york city christmas concert joe's pub public theaterRaul Esparza shook his ass, Sherie Rene Scott compared Lindsay Mendez to her right breast, and Seth Numrich showed up to announce he can’t sing. Yes, everyone was in the holiday spirit at ASTEP’s fourth annual New York City Christmas concert at Joe’s Pub December 12. (An album of songs featured in the concert is available on iTunes and at Sh-K-Boom Records.) The evening of Broadway A-listers performing Christmas songs to innovative arrangements proved as solid and gorgeous as ever, mixed in with a lot of good humor. Here’s what went down.

Sherie Rene Scott, Lindsay Mendez, and Betsy Wolfe (previously seen together in Everyday Rapture) kicked off the show with Mariah Carey’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” in such sassy, female rocker fashion, it made me wish the three would form a permanent girl rock group. The bond between the three women seemed strong, as their chemistry flared during their feisty number and between songs, they exchanged playful banter. Scott told a story in which an early scene for Everyday Rapture had Mendez and Wolfe playing her breasts, with character names simply “Left” and “Right.” Scott credited her strong relationship with Mendez saying, “Lindsay will always be my Right.”

VIDEO: Sherie Rene Scott, Lindsay Mendez, and Betsie Wolfe sing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

Read more »

8
Dec

4th annual New York City Christmas concert to play Joe’s Pub

Photo: Bitten By A Zebra Photography

When it comes to traditions, I’m the most stodgy when it comes to ones related to Christmas. That’s why I am thrilled beyond comprehension that one of my favorite holiday events is returning again this year. For the fourth year in a row, some of Broadway’s best performers, including Raul Esparza, Chester Gregory, and Sierra Boggess will come together to sing Christmas tunes for ASTEP’s New York City Christmas concert at Joe’s Pub on Monday, December 12 at 7 p.m.

The concert features Broadway A-listers singing classic Christmas carols, revamped with unique arrangements. The delightful Lynne Shankel once again serves as music director and host of the evening, which includes performers such as Esparza, Gregory, Boggess, Lindsay Mendez, Orfeh, Andy Karl, and more.

The evening is one filled with warm holiday spirit and powerful Broadway talent. But here is the top reason to see the concert, Rushers. The arrangements of these traditional Christmas songs are spectacular. The prime exhibit comes from the concert’s first iteration in 2008, when Esparza set the stage on fire with his English-Spanish rendition of “O Holy Night.” Watch the embedded video below and just try not to squirm in sensual delight. Read more »

4
Dec

ASTEP New York City Christmas returns for third year

The holiday season truly has begun, because one of my favorite Broadway events has announced its return. The ASTEP New York City Christmas concert will play its third annual show at Joe’s Pub on December 20 at 7 p.m. The brilliant Lynne Shankel will again play host and music director to a night full of some of our favorite Broadway stars singing holiday tunes in creative, new arrangements. If this year is to be half as amazing as last year’s concert (and I know it will), all you Rushers should be buying your tickets now.

From the performer lineup this year, I can tell you the names I’m most looking forward to are Chestor Gregory, Andy Karl, Lindsay Mendez, Orfeh, and Elizabeth Stanley. Stanley is the only actor in that group who has not performed at the ASTEP New York City Christmas concert before. The rest of the spectacular list includes Michael Buchanan, David Josefsberg, Anya Singleton, Sally Wilfert, and Betsy Wolfe. Read more »

26
Mar

Stage Rush TV: Episode 6


Talking points: 
What did you find most surprising about my interview with Lynne Shankel? Have you seen All About Me? Did you think Michael Feinstein held his own, or was he just one of Dame Edna’s props? Please leave any questions or suggestions for topics in the comments!
22
Mar

Broadway Brain: Music director Lynne Shankel risks the Broadway crapshoot, sexifies Christmas

If Raul Esparza is making audiences swoon with a Spanish rendition of “O Holy Night” or a boy band causes an audience to crack up with their humorous religion-infused pop music, it means Lynne Shankel is doing her job. As a music director, Shankel is in charge of shaping a production’s music into the correct tone, style, and interpretation. Having worked on Broadway (Company, Cry Baby), off (Altar Boyz), and on countless concerts at venues like Joe’s Pub (ASTEP’s New York City Christmas) and benefits around the country, Shankel is a go-to musician for producers and performers who want their shows and showcase concerts to hit the right notes.
The Kansas City native studied piano performance at the University of Michigan, but much to the chagrin of her professors, she soon drifted from her classical studies and gravitated toward the theatrical. Playing piano in numerous college productions, which involved future Broadway stars Hunter Foster and Jennifer Laura Thompson, as well as Vanities composer David Kirshenbaum, Shankel’s passion for musical theater was established. She moved to New York in 1993 and has been working ever since.
Shankel kicks off Stage Rush’s Broadway Brain series, focusing on the behind-the-scenes masters of New York theater. The 39 year old opens up about Broadway’s triumphs and disappointments, nursing a show’s score from start to finish, and keeping the creative juices flowing.
Explaining it to me as if I’m a 3 year old, what does a music director/supervisor do?
The first thing you do as a music director is you work with the cast before you even start with the musicians. You teach them the vocals for the piece. I work on tons of new pieces. When you’re working on something new, it’s not like putting together The Wizard of Oz, where the actors have heard the cast recording and they know how it’s supposed to sound. With a new piece, the score is constantly changing and developing. Even before that, you work with the creative team to develop the piece. For a new show, I develop it through as many readings as we decide to have. Once we get past that point, I work with the composer, director, and choreographer intensely to figure out what the piece is, musically. What is the style we’re going for? From there, we hone in on the vocals and work on not only the sound and the style, but also the interpretation of the lyrics. A big part of what I do is coaching the actors through a song so that it not only has a musical arc, but a dramatic arc as well. Once I get through working with the cast, then it’s time to add in a band. If it’s an original piece, then I also work with an orchestrator, because the music hasn’t been played before. Sometimes there can be a bit of trial and error, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I work out the dynamics, style, and articulations, so that we have a piece that feels cohesive. Then we get into the theater and it’s a whole other ball of wax with technical elements and conducting the show.
***VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP: Lynne Shankel describes her strangest day working in the theater*** Read more »
5
Mar

Stage Rush TV: Episode 3, LA Edition

Coming to you from Los Angeles this week! Please excuse the wind interference—we weren’t aware of it until we had finished (low-cost equipment here). I had a real, live soldier of the Hollywood entertainment industry collaborating with me this week—my good friend Michelle Mogavero . Having a “crew” was very exciting.





Talking points: 

  • Rush FAIL: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno 
  • Upcoming interview with Lynne Shankel, former music supervisor for Company, music director for Cry Baby and Altar Boyz. 
    • ASTEP’s New York City Christmas benefit concert
  • Broadway grosses 
Please leave your thoughts, questions in the comments below!
15
Dec

ASTEP’s New York City Christmas at Joe’s Pub

Wherever Raul Esparza goes, I go.

That’s why I was at Joe’s Pub last night for New York City Christmas, a holiday concert featuring some big Broadway stars and benefiting Artists Striving To End Poverty. It was the second incarnation of the concert, which was held for the first time last year at the Zipper Factory (why is that place closed??). Due to the success of last year’s concert, ASTEP produced a recording of the songs performed on Sh-K-Boom Records (actress Sherie Rene Scott is a co-founder), and they decided to do it again this year.

It was a well-paced, dimple-ridden evening, with enough belts and laughter to last the entire year. Big names like Chester Gregory, Sierra Boggess, Sherie Rene Scott, and Orfeh filled the room with fantastic renditions of classic Christmas tunes. Lesser-known names like Lindsay Mendez and Tyler Maynard (both who appeared last year) held their own among the marquee fixtures, and looked ebullient. Mendez, who I want to see more of, two years in a row has made one of the most lasting impressions.

The evening was hosted by Harriet Harris (photo embedded, because I feel she’s one of those actors whose face everyone knows, but few people can attach a name to), who has the ability to induce hilarity with any word she says. Referring to cellist Summer Boggess (Sierra’s sister) who was part of the band, “Summer’s on the cello. I just had to find a way to work that in there and say that,” cooed Harris. But I also have to give huge credit to keyboardist Lynne Shankel, who unofficially co-hosted the event. She served as MC last year, and in addition to being wildly charming, she helped organize the concert (along with ASTEP founder Mary-Mitchel Campbell) and is astonishing with how wide her talents stretch. Where can I see more of her? Does it have to be once each December?

And now we come to Mr. Esparza. Last year, he debuted a mid-tempo, Spanish-guitar arrangement of “O Holy Night,” in which he sings the first verse in English and the second in Spanish. It is a searing performance, memorable in every way, and redefines the classic song. For me, he can do no wrong, and the way his performance makes my mom feel—“I want to claw the skin off my face!” You know, in a good way.

Below is the video of his performance from last year’s concert. I chose to enjoy this year’s without the confines of a lens. I hope you’ll understand.

All I can say is I hope this becomes a Christmas tradition, just as TBS’s A Christmas Story marathon and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”