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Aladdin Tea w/Clinton Greenspan

If there’s one thing that we can all most certainly agree on, it’s that the magic of Disney’s Aladdin will remain as timeless as the summer sun.

From its thrilling storyline to its underlying messages of love, hope and family to the many, many classic tunes that will always bring the Genie out of our musical bottles….it’s always here and so much more

Just ask yourself…..how many times have you belted out “Friend Like Me” in the shower? And we just have to show our music love to the Kleenex grabbing, Oscar-winning ballad, “A Whole New World.” A gleaming piece of ’90s music which not only holds its place in the film and musical versions, but on the Billboard charts as well, where it became a number-one hit in 1992 thanks to the magical pairing of Regina Belle and Peabo Bryson, with lyrics by the one-and-only, Tim Rice. 

And of course, we just can’t wait to see what Guy Ritchie does with his take on Aladdin when it hits theaters next summer with Philly’s own Will Smith taking on the big, big role of Genie…yes. 

With all that being said, the city should feel so incredibly lucky that we get to have a chance to see the critically acclaimed traveling tour of Aladdin while its gracing its presence at the Academy of Music until July 1st. Of course, that also means that you should waste no time in grabbing those tickets to experience what all of the red-hot buzz is about. Really, why would you not want to when it comes to this show?

But before you set forth on a wild entertainment magic carpet ride (and that you will), get to know Aladdin himself–the most fabulous Mr. Clinton Greenspan. Not only is this Texas born actor a true first class (and highly talented) gentleman, but he straight up took over Philly Mixtape for a ridiculously fun chat about Moms, the Ab Roller, walking into doors after auditions (don’t we all?) and of course, all that it takes to slip into the role of Aladdin every night. 

Get to know Mr. Greenspan below…you’ll be glad you did….and then go see this show!! 

Kicking off our little chat, what inspires you to get into the role of Aladdin every night? I’ve already done the show with this cast for a year as a [Aladdin’s] understudy, so I’ve had moments here and there where I’ve got to go on and experience a little bit of what it’s like to get into the role. I started to use my mother as a huge inspiration for the show [of course] one of the main points in the show is that Aladdin is trying to prove himself and show his family that he can do more. So, I’ll use that before every show and either text my Mom or write a little note out on the dressing room mirror.

Not going to lie, I love that. Although they challenge us on the daily, Mom always knows best…..  .Yes, they certainly do! But you just have to appreciate it. 

Moving on to your background, what made you jump into the world of acting? I was actually more engaged in gymnastics–I did them for about six years. But [I remember] I would go over to my grandparents house and they would always have classic music playing on vinyl or have some musical playing-something featuring Gene Kelly, or Julie Andrews, or opera even. I was always interested in that form of art. But it actually took me a bit longer than other stories may tell. My first actual show was in 8th grade..I did Peter Pan outside the school at a community theater and I just fell in love with it all. I asked if I could do improv classes and basic dance classes and it just grew on me. Each year I learned a lot of new things and kept improving and kept it growing in my heart and I just fell in love with it more and more.

Okay, so….this show. Besides being absolutely mind-blowing, it looks–or it certainly is–very demanding physically. How did you adjust to..it all? I think the biggest challenge was building the stamina for it both vocally and physically at the same time. A lot of the numbers that are going on with me and most of the cast, actually, you’re doing some intense dance or movements while you’re singing, so building the stamina was probably one of the crazier challenges of the show.

Any warm up secrets you do verify each show that you can spill for everybody? I do some basic conditioning, tons of vocal warm ups and I actually try to get at least fifteen minutes of cardio in, as well as simple core workouts before I head on over to the show. I also have one of those things–I don’t know what it’s called but it’s just like a wheel.

I think it’s called the Ab Roller…I think they sold those on T.V. You know what….as self explanatory as it is…that makes perfect sense. Yes! 

Let’s break some music mugs…..who’s rockin’ your world these days? I’m always weak for Red Hot Chili Peppers…they’re my go to band. I love those guys. Actually, I try to stick to some older Motown vibes or some funk, some grooves. I like to listen to a lot of Earth, Wind and Fire…they just kind of get me in the mood, whether I’m just trying to wake up or get into a positive attitude before the show. And I also love me some Fleetwood Mac.

All of the above, my man. So, one question I like to ask all of my tea patrons is what words of wisdom would you give to any performer who decided right this second to slide into this crazy entertainment business? Have patience and understanding and not have any self-doubt. This business can get hectic and scary and you can get a little lost but you need to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and why you want to go further in what you’re doing. I like talking to the youth about this if I go visit a school or talk to people outside the stage door because even if it doesn’t seem like there’s an impact from our side, they might remember just like a ten second moment of us telling them just keep fighting, just keep working on it and don’t give up. Because as basic as it may sound, it’s so true. It’s a rough business, but if you have the passion for it and you love it you just gotta keep fighting through and never lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing. 

Before we part ways….any totally embarrassing audition stories you’re up for sharing? Actually….one of the auditions I had for Aladdin is. I had a little boo-boo on the lyrics and then afterwards when they had me read and said thank you, I headed towards the door and I for the life of me could not open the dang door..literally could not get out of the room. Any performer knows that after you hit that final note, you want to get out of there. So, the fact that I struggled so hard to pull the handle down was the most embarrassing thing for me…and they were all just laughing. And to this day, I still struggle with doors a little bit. 

Don’t we all. Okay, one last sip……describe Aladdin on one word…… Unbelievable. 

Get those tickets. 

Cover photo courtesy of Playbill 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pride Tea w/ Sandra Bernhard

An actress, author, a fabulous singer and a straight up comedy legend, there isn’t a person in this world who doesn’t know the name…Sandra Bernhard.

First gaining fast attention in the late 1970s with her stand-up comedy routines, Ms. Bernhard would truly skyrocket to fame thanks to her iconic portrayal as kidnapper Masha in Martin Scorcese’s, The King of Comedy. The critically acclaimed role would not only begin to cement Bernhard’s place in Hollywood comedy history, but it would lead her to the recurring role of Nancy on Roseanne (sigh..), for which Bernhard would go on to play the first openly gay character on network television. 

A true LGBTQ icon in her own right, Sandra hasn’t stopped in her crusade to ensure that we are all treated equally, but most importantly that we respect our damn selves along the way. And just in time for Philly Pride Week, Ms, Bernhard will be taking to the TLA stage tomorrow night for a fun stop on her Sandemonium tour, which has been garnering some truly fabulous reviews thanks to the always on point–and certainly on time–comedy stylings of this truly legendary comedy diva. 

But before she lets loose for Philly(get those tickets right here), Ms. Bernhard stopped by Philly Mixtape for a delectable spot of Pride tea where she broke mugs about, well, it all because you show she is, kids and we love it. 

Take a sip alongside the incredible Sandra Bernhard below. 

Kicking off our little spill, how are you these days? Everything’s great! Very, very busy. Very productive. Lot of good things happening and sort of working around the times we’re living in……which can tend to be a little bit–ya know–draining and exhausting politically. I’m always trying to lift up the work I do with good entertainment. [I’ve been doing] a lot on my radio show, Sandyland on Sirius XM on radio Andy(Andy Cohen’s network) interviewing people and having really smart conversations. [That’s] also been a great platform for me to talk about whatever’s going on in my life day-to-day. It’s been a really good incubator to come up with new material for my live shows. So, it’s all happening! And of course, I’m very excited to come back to Philadelphia, I haven’t been back in a while. It’s a great classic American city! 

You’ve also been getting back to acting quite a bit as well. Break some mugs for everyone about your latest venture….I’m [in] Ryan Murphy’s new show Pose. It’s more of a dramatic role, I’m playing a nurse in the AIDS ward in the ’80s, which is the time frame [the show] takes place in. I’m really excited about this. It’s a time I can really relate to. I lost a lot of friends back during the AIDS crisis. It’s supposed to be a recurring role, so hopefully I’ll be back! 

Taking a serious sip for a moment, there’s so much sensitivity these days when it comes ro crossing lines with politics and comedy. How do you personally find the ways to balance it all out? I think there’s a happy medium in a way to balance it all out, which is what I’ve been able to do. It helps you stay fresh and imaginative so you’re not just falling back on the same thing you always fall back on. It kind of forces you to go into new areas of your imagination. It’s a good thing because you have to keep recreating your work as the years go by. 

It’s true what they say…reinvention is the key to life. Absolutely. It keeps it interesting. 

So, here we are, right in the kick off of Pride month! What words of wisdom would you say to all of those fabulous kids out there who are just finding their true selves and are ready to celebrate? I think the most important thing is to stay educated and go to college and experience everything that anybody would experience and not limit and define yourself to your sexuality. I think that’s what’s kept my life interesting is that I stayed open and got to spend time and meet people from all different walks of life and cultures. I think that when everything’s defined by your religion, gender or sexual preference, you sometimes cut off a lot of experiences that can really enrich you and help [you] become a more complete person. That’s always my best advice is to just keep things very open and throw yourself into a lot of conversations and different ways of seeing the world. 

Moving on to your fabulous stage show. How would you personally best describe it? My work is always very personal so [the show] is like taking a little road trip with Sandy through my day-to-day life! Some things are sort of fictionalized and I just kind of bounce all over the place. It’s kind of hard to describe because my shows are never like one idea. It’s very stream of consciousness–I go from one kind of thought and woven insights [mixed in with] music and songs that are very eclectic. It’s fast paced and at times its introspective. You get to know me and see the world through my lens. 

So, let’s talk music. Who’s rockin’ your world these days? A lot of the stuff that I’m listening to was recommended to me by my daughter who’s a sophomore in college. I don’t really listen to albums anymore because the way of listening to music is so different–I just pick up a song here and there–Childish Gambino, Fleet Foxes. I certainly try to stay on top of it! There’s a thousand new performers and so many great songs out there. 

I guess it certainly helps having a teenage daughter around! It is good because otherwise I end up listening to a lot of stuff I’ve been listening to for years. It’s kinda cool because she likes a lot of that stuff too, so we go back-and-forth. It’s a nice bonding experience. 

One last sip…what does the word “pride” mean to you? It’s having your own identity and being clear who you are as an individual. I think it’s always great to have the support of the crowd behind you and be part of a group. But I also think that you also have to break away and walk through life and navigate your way around wherever you are. Be able to stand on your own. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Music Tea w/The Values

If there’s one thing that Philly is absolutely fabulous for (besides cheesesteaks and Super Bowl rings, of course), it’s that its local entertainment scene is truly like no other.

Whether you’re a performance artist slaying in the FringeArts festival, a DJ serving up deep house at one of the many, many nightclubs around or a drag queen serving the runways of the Gayborhood, all walks of entertainment thrive on the City of Brotherly Love dance floor. 

Another performance genre that is certainly soaring in Philly (although some of you kids might not know how big it truly is), is that of the “basement” genre. Or, we can think of it as a small intimate musical gathering in the basement of your Mom’s house, designed for bands with a darker, edgier sound who’re built for more intimate crowds for their talents to be seen and their voices to be heard…and that they most certainly are. 

Thanks to venues like The Barbary and “house party” hot-spots like The Waiting Room and Hubris House, the basement genre is more alive than ever before, which is why Brooklyn based duo The Values are finding no trouble fitting into it all

With their eccentric mix of pop, indie and thunderous beats, The ValuesMason Taub (vocals) and Evan Zwisler(synths & the rest of it)–have not only made a name for themselves on their native NYC local entertainment scene, but right here in Philly while creating an ever-growing fan base that follows their every move.  With Ms. Taub’s dark, defining vocals on top of Zwisler’s pulsating production, these two certainly know how to serve up the heat while keeping it all light and groovy. 

Speaking of keeping things light and groovy, Mason and Evan stopped by Philly Mixtape for a spot of music tea, where they broke mugs about their humble beginnings, recording sessions and everything else in between….including their love for The Boss. Take a sip and enjoy! 

And for much, much more tea with The Values, check this out. 

Hey, guys! Thanks for stopping by the Philly Mixtape music tea table!! First up, spill for everyone about how The Values came to light…..Mason:When I met Evan in 2014, he was already working on the first iteration of The Values with some friends of his from college. He actually invited me to their first show that was happening the next day. We started dating and eventually I joined the band, and since then we’ve gone through lots of changes, learned a lot, and seem to have found our best sound yet as a duo. Evan: Every iteration of the band before this really didn’t feel right. I feel that when it’s just the two of us we have the freedom to really make and perform the music that’s in our heads. I’ve never been more excited to write new music.

Okay, let’s break some mugs about your unique sound. I’m feeling a lot of genres with it……a little EDM, a little new wave, and perhaps a touch of goth vibes? How would you kids best describe it? M:We usually put ourselves under the umbrella of synthpop, but there are lots of influences that we each bring to the table. My vocals certainly don’t sound like a lot of synthpop bands out there, and we slip in some rock and post-punk stuff in a few of the songs with Evan’s guitar. E:Sexy synth sounds that make you want to move your booty. Mason also writes amazing lyrics that are so vivid. It’s one of the reasons I love her so much.

Which musical artists inspire you both? M:I feel like the best way to answer this is with some of the music we listen to on the road: there’s a lot of Prince and Bruce Springsteen, LCD Soundsystem and Donna Summer. I also definitely find myself inspired by female pop artists like Janelle Monae, Grimes and Robyn. E:Recently it’s been a lot of Prince, I think he’s so bad ass. I think the sound design in Maggie Robert’s hit song ‘Alaska’ is really good and I think Lorde is just killing it, ‘Green Light’ is one of our favorites. Bruce Springsteen was the person who taught me what it means to be American and his music has helped get us home when we’re driving back from a road gig after one am. Other members of our One AM Club include: Sly Stone, Holy Ghost!, LCD Soundsystem, and Slyvan Esso.

You guys have also played quite a bit in Philly. Which venues have been your favorite places to rock out at so far? M:We’ve actually played a lot of Philly house shows, which is an incredible scene. We love Tralfamadore! In terms of above-ground venues, The Barbary also treated us really well. Shoutout to their bouncer Bear, who helped keep an eye on our mini pitbull and tour pup, Honey while we played! E:We love the house party scene in South Philly. In the coming months we’re going to play Tralfamadore, The Waiting Room, and Hubris House to name a few. There’s something about playing a basement packed with thirty or so other people all shoulder to shoulder that’s just electric.

What do you both think is the one thing that you think any new artist should keep in
mind when they first hit the scene? M:Things will change, whether that’s your lineup, your musical interests, whatever, and to be ready to handle that with as much grace as possible. E:Don’t be a dick. Most people are pretty nice so in addition to that I’d say that there are a ton of amazing bands in Philly so try to do something unique that you’re passionate about. People are super accepting and supportive in Philly so if it’s your dream to perform operatic baroque pop music performed acoustically with only your voice and a ukelele, go for it!!! People would rather watch you struggle to make something amazing, unique, and personal than have you do the same thing they’ve seen 100 times.

Spill a little about your recording sessions. What’s the general mood like? What do you do if there are any disagreements? That is, if there are any….M:We try to make recording fun for us, which isn’t too tricky because we’re both kind of music nerds. Some of the first recording sessions we ever did we had a bunch of friends over hanging out in the control room. Evan and I are pretty good at keeping the vibe upbeat and respecting each other’s ideas and trying things out when we’re recording or mixing. It’s just not productive for us to be at odds when there’s so much to do. E:The mood [is] good! We both love being in the studio so it was pretty great. I gotta give major props to Oliver Ignatius and Holy Fang recording. He really helped us get great synth sounds from his amazing collection of synths. We used an Oberheim Matrix 6 for a lot of the pad sounds on ‘Mass Destruction’ and it sounds fucking sick. Oliver knew exactly where to As far as disagreements go, there was only really one time I got upset. We were starting to record our cover of ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and Mason and Oliver decided to basically to scrap our demo and go for a much moodier take on the song. I felt kind of blindsided and was totally thrown off balance. I didn’t yell or scream like a psycho, but I wasn’t thrilled to change our demo which was working, but thank god we did. Pretty quickly into working on the new version I realized that what we’d been doing was pretty bland. We really wanted to drive home the ennui and frustration the lyrics conveyed. I trusted Mason and Oliver, I think they’re far better musicians than I am, and while there was friction I think the song was galvanized into something much stronger.

One last sip……..the one album that each of you simply cannot live without would be…..
M:This is a really tough question for me! Maybe….LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver.
E:Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen. Great Album, great album artwork (love me some of that Brucey Booty)

Cover photo courtesy of Mixtape Media, LLC

Get down with their hot-to-headphones cover of “Dancing in the Dark” right here!