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‘The Patriot Tour’ Tea w/Taya Kyle

While most of us will never know what it’s like to fight for our country like so many brave men and women from all walks of life have done before us, what we can do is never forget to respect, obey and honor them completely. 

But most of all, when an opportunity arises where we can listen to their stories and how they truly define the word “freedom” for all of us, we should take heed and join them. Tomorrow night we’ll all be able to do just that when The Patriot Tour stops by the Merriam Theater at the Kimmel Center for a one-night only engagement that you simply do not want to miss. 

An emotional and engaging live stage experience, The Patriot Tour not only highlights incredible stories from some truly incredible men and women who’ve had their landscapes profoundly changed by their service and sacrifice for our country, but its a story that will resonate with all of us, especially in today’s seemingly crazy and almost desperate times. 

Among the list of esteemed patriots speaking at tomorrow night’s show are retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell; Executive Director of the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, retired U.S. Army Capt. Chad Fleming, as well as retired Navy SEAL David Goggins.

Also moving the Philly stages tomorrow night will be Taya Kyle, who’s the wife of late U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, American Wife. Some of you may also recognize those above names as part of the blockbuster film, American Sniper, which was loosely based on the memoir American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by the late Mr. Kyle, with Bradley Cooper playing the fallen hero and Sienna Miller taking on the role of Taya. 

But before Taya shares her story with all of Philadelphia, she was gracious and kind enough to stop by Philly Mixtape for an exclusive chat where she talked, well, about it all in one incredible chat below.

For much more with Taya and how you can get your tickets to The Patriot Tour, check this out

First up, Taya, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with Philly Mixtape. How are things with you these days?
Things are always interesting in my world. My children and I have great leaps in healing and we continue to take some hits. I am really focusing on how to find calm in the eye of the tornado swirling around. I want to learn how to sit in the eye of the storm and find peace there.

I want to talk to talk about your book, American Wife, for a moment. As someone who aspires to be a book author one day, tell me a little bit about the process from start to finish and what kinds of emotions you went through while writing it. And how did it feel the day it got published?  I am working on some other books right now. When I finish them, I think I will have a better answer for you from the standpoint of an author realizing a dream or accomplishing a goal. American Wife was a book I wasn’t ready to write. There was interest from the public and the publisher felt it was important to get it done in a timely manner. Fortunately, Chris and I worked with Jim DeFelice on American Sniper and already established a friendship based in trust. Essentially, Jim worked with the publisher and agreed to put my words to paper in a time where I wasn’t able to pull the intensity of the emotions together to write it myself. I somewhat jokingly refer to the writing of American Wife as me emotionally vomiting on Jim DeFelice for months. The truth is, he loved Chris too and we grieved together as we worked on the book. He is the genius behind the organization and presentation of what we talked about during those months reflecting on my life with Chris and my kids and the toll of grief.

Moving on to The Patriot Tour, what is the thing that you hope the audience will take away from the story?  In years past, we have been humbled to hear how individuals have unique experiences with Patriot Tour. People typically see some parts of their own life in our varying stories. As speakers, we bare our souls, and share not just the end results, but the journey riddled with ups and downs. We laugh at ourselves too. Audience members express comfort in the reminder we all struggle. We all need to dig deep to find the strength to persevere. Sharing an evening of truth and determination to fight the good fight even when it seems impossible, tends to leave audience members and speakers grateful to live in a country where we have the freedom to fight our battles with friends, faith and whatever else we muster up in our darkest hours.

What’s it like for you personally to be a part of this journey?  It takes a lot of people working really hard to make Patriot Tour something audience members don’t just attend, but experience. I love the sense of family and teamwork unique to touring with a shared passion and desire to serve.

It’s been such a hard year for all of us. What words of inspiration would you give to anyone trying to make it through hard times this year, whether losing a loved one or dealing with the aftermath of such horrible natural disasters. With Patriot Tour, we see how real change happens in the hearts of individuals as opposed to group mentality which tends to work only in the short term. When we dig deep and get involved on a personal level we change this generation and the next. When extreme views and crises are the focal point of our world view we run the risk of becoming hopeless. I encourage people to bring hope back to their own lives by filtering through the extremes and looking at their own community. Resist the urge to yell and scream about a problem we can’t fix from afar. Instead, lets roll up our sleeves and use peaceful direct communication and hands on experiences to change what we don’t like. Let’s look for solutions. Seek to understand more than to be heard.  More than any words of wisdom, the best help I am able to give is encouragement for a relationship with God where people will find lifelong help and more wisdom than I can ever provide. It starts with a conversation. It’s that simple. Talk to God; the answers are there.

Just to lighten the mood a bit, any favorite or fall T.V. shows that you’re totally obsessed with right now?  (Laughs) I ended up getting so frustrated with social agendas and bickering presented as entertainment, I turned off the television for a while. My kids and I are getting great family time, more time to read and my hope is I will also translate the lack of TV time into more sleep.

Lastly, describe ‘The Patriot’ in 1 word. Inspiring.

For much more with Taya and how you can get your tickets to The Patriot, check this out

To become part of The Patriot Tour Team, volunteer opportunities and sponsorships are available at www.patriottour.com 

 

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‘My Son the Waiter’ Tea w/Brad Zimmerman

Outspoken, outlandish and all together downright hilarious.

Although Jewish comedian/actor/performer Brad Zimmerman didn’t get his career in full ignition until a bit further down the entertainment road when he was in his ’40s while working alongside the likes of late, great comedic legends George Carlin and Joan Rivers, he’s certainly doing his thing now judging by the massive success of his little/big traveling one-man play, My Son the Waiter:A Jewish Tragedy.

And lucky for everyone in and around the tri-state area, the critically acclaimed show is currently in week two of its six week run at the Penn’s Landing Playhouse right here in Philly. 

Labeled as the “story of one man’s struggle to fulfill his dream and ‘make it’ as a comedic actor in New York,” the play can be best described as one part Brad’s on-point standup comedy and the other part his well-crafted theatrical skills, which are mixed together to give all of us one hell of a fun evening of entertainment. 

But since there’s never a bad time to spill some entertainment tea, Mr. Zimmerman took a little time away from the stage to chat with Philly Mixtape where he broke mugs over his influences (or lack there of), what it was like to work with Ms. Joan and why everyone should go see this show that he himself calls “poignant” and “inspiring.”

And no, you don’t have to be Jewish to go see it. Read on to find out more and get to know the many, many talents of Mr. Brad Zimmerman below. 

For your chance to see My Son the Waiter:A Jewish Tragedy while it’s in town at the Penn’s Landing Playhouse until Nov 19th, go here now. 

First up, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with Philly Mixtape, I truly appreciate it. So…..how are you? Things are good! I just finished Chicago and I’m on the longest break that I’ve ever had (we chatted a few days before he hit Philly), which is six weeks ’cause I’ve been doing the tour for four years! So, [I’m] getting used to not performing and getting that energy, which is really good cause I needed it ’cause I did seventeen weeks in a row this year at one time–and it’s six shows a week..it’s grueling. But I’ve been using the six weeks [to work] on the sequel. I’m busting my chops and I would like to eventually sell it…but that takes as long as it takes. Just to write [this one] it took me seven years to get sold. You never know…but the process is fabulous.

Speaking of your lengthy run, how do you keep the material fresh after doing it for so long? What I do is first of all–I’m a pro–so I stay in great shape. I get plenty of rest. It’s very difficult saying the same line for the ten thousandth time, in which the audience has to know that it’s the first time–you want to give them their money’s worth. It’s very difficult when you’re doing that, sometimes you’re just exhausted. You have no choice but to just get out there, suck it up and do it. That’s probably the biggest challenge and that’s one of the reasons why I’m working on new material is to get a freshness. I can still go out with old material, but look, people on Broadway have been doing the same show for eight years. You have to take that you’re not alone in this and that you’re a professional and this is what you do. All of the negative stuff pales in comparison to the positive. So, I’m making a living doing something that I wrote. I have to be honest, there’s very few people who can stick with something until it’s ready for marketability. I know friends who’ve been trying to do this for years and they have the talent but they don’t have the intangibles that go with it.

Do you still get nervous before each show? You’re always going to have a certain amount of nerves. The nerves are lessened by a couple of things. One is being really prepared. [Another is] having the confidence, that’s you know, using a mantra that it’s work…it works. But of course, you never know, depending on where you are what the demographic might be. There’s certain demographics I’ve done where the laughter is remarkable. And there’s also certain demographics where they’re much more reserved and yet they’re still really enjoying it. Another is that sometimes there may be fifty people in your audience–which is depressing–but other times there may be 200 people in your audience. Sometimes you have may audience and get nothing…it’s like pulling teeth because they might be afraid to laugh. Now, I wouldn’t trade that because it strengthens you. If every show is just an A plus you don’t learn anything. But when you’re in the middle of doing a show and some line the night before in some other city kills and you get noting that night, well…

How are the Philly audiences? Philly is phenomenal. First of all, I know the demographic, I live in New York. I opened for George Carlin once in Philly years ago at the Tower Theatre. [There’s the] Jews in Cherry Hill–and I don’t even need Jews–it’s not a question. But I know there’s a lot of Jews in the area and it certainly doesn’t hurt. Remember, Philly’s a cultured area..it’s only an hour and forty-five minutes from New York. It’s an area that has tremendous history. I consider it like a suburb of New York, [so it’s] definitely got the same type of demographic. 

Okay, back to the play. It took you seven long years to write. Tell me a little about the process of…it all. Let me explain how it went. In 2005 I was still waiting tables and I had a guy who’d known I’d done a couple of one-person shows that I never made money off of–I just wrote them and did them. But he knew of my history and said to me, ‘Look, if you ever decide to do another one-person show, I’ll produce it.’ At some point, I said..’Why not?’ So, what I did was something quite unique–I decided to do, like, a hybrid. [This was] where I used the comedy material that I was doing [at the time], and I took the material that was funny and I put it together with the more serious stuff about my Father dying and so forth. So, from 2005 to all the way to 2013 when I sold it, I started doing [the material] on the road and soon, word of mouth became huge and two producers ended up flying down, saw it and offered to buy the touring rights for seven years the following day. It was less writing it in that period, but more performing it and getting it up to snuff. 

Who are some of your comedic and acting influences? Remember, I started comedy when I was forty-two, I’m sixty-three now. I was a consummate late bloomer. The only thing where I was an early bloomer was in sports, actually, and I was really great. But when people ask me who my influences are, I always say..’nobody.’ Doesn’t mean I don’t think there are certain comics who are great, I was more influenced by when I saw John Malkovich in an Off Broadway play called True West–he was extraordinary and remarkable. I knew from the moment he did that show, that I was set for life. I would also say early Pacino, early DeNiro, Meryl Streep, and you know that whole group of people who were doing their masterful work back then. 

I also understand you worked side-by-side with the late, great Ms. Joan Rivers. What was experience like? You know it’s interesting, that weekend she went into the hospital, I was coming to New York for a new [show run]. My producers and my PR guy reached out to her and she was going to do a radio spot as soon after she [got] out of the hospital. And of course, sadly we didn’t, but I would say working with her from the past was a joy because I made her laugh spontaneously off stage. She was a character, a real pro. She loved working, she loved the money. But she always said an empty calendar was her biggest fear…..she didn’t want to stop and, you know, if it wasn’t for this stupid procedure, we’d still be performing. We lost a legend. 

One last moment of truth….why should everyone and their Jewish mother come see you at the Penn’s Landing Playhouse over the next month? I would say, first of all, [the show’s] real. There have people that have said to me-‘I feel like I’m not in the theater, I feel like I’m in your living room when you’re just telling us stories. That’s the highest praise you can get. I think that what people can get from my show is that I’m sharing me in a way that’s raw, unguarded and genuine. Also, everybody will always find something to relate to. There’s something for everyone–you don’t have to be Jewish you just have to be willing to have not just a good time, but an experience. 

For much more with Brad Zimmerman, check this out. 

Brad Zimmerman cover photo courtesy of Heron Agency 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Experience Motown:The Musical

There comes a time in life when we must not run, we must not walk, but instead just straight up….dance.

And while we’re all on the dance floor of this crazy little thing called life, we must groove it on over to see an incredible Broadway experience in the City of Brotherly Love…and Motown:The Musical has just what everyone is looking for at this very moment in time. 

But in case you need a touch further convincing as to why everyone should experience this Tony Award owning show about Motown Records pariah Berry Gordy and all of the incredible music stars that came along on his wild music tale-Diana! Smokey! Michael!–Philly Mixtape has 5 reasons why (hint..there’s lots of music!) you must grab those tickets to see Motown:The Musical while it’s here until Sunday, June 11th. 

Let’s groove. 

1.All…of…that…music… You don’t need too much truth laid out to know that the main reason everyone should experience Motown:The Musical is for all of those delicious grooves that are laced throughout this incredible show that no doubt still have the ability to take over our worlds from those very first classic beat drops. Let’s see here……”ABC,” “Come See About Me,” “Fingertips Pt. 2,” “For Once In My Life,” “My Guy” (by the way..happy 25th anniversary, Sister Act!), “The Tears of A Clown.” They’re all here and so, so much more…so grab those tickets for what’s sure to be an incredible experience with all of that delightful music that you know you still can’t live without. 

2.The incredible cast…..  Of course, in order to properly serve up all of those irresistible Motown vibes, you need the proper cast to bring the stage heat, and Motown:The Musical is in no shortage of some truly incredible talent from Philly and beyond. From New Jersey based Broadway superstar (and University of the Arts graduate!!) Jarran Muse as Marvin Gaye to fellow Broadway champion Chester Gregory as Berry Gordy (he also portrayed Mr. Gordy on The Great White Way last summer) to Chicago opera diva Allison Semmes as the legendary Miss Diana Ross to Sister Act stud David Kaverman as Mr. Smokey Robinson, there’s no denying that this cast absolutely has what it takes to give you the time of your life…..much like Dirty Dancing did at the Kimmel Center a few weeks ago. For much, much more with the cast—including getting to know eleven-year-old talented genius CJ Wright who portrays a young Michael! Stevie! and Berry Gordy!!–dance it on over right here and then get down with this classic Motown groove. 

3.It’s truly fun for the whole entire family…..   Although the story of Motown:The Musical takes place back-in-the-day and beyond, there’s absolutely no reason not to bring the kids out to experience music when it was music..well, there’s really nothing else to say there. And that’s only the beginning of what will truly be a joyful night out for you and the entire family. Go ahead, you all deserve it..and the kids will appreciate you more than ever. 

4.It will get you all sorts of excited for what’s on the Kimmel Center Broadway horizon….  Finding Neverland, The Color Purple, Kinky Boots, Aladdin, School of Rock, Waitress, On Your Feet, Les Miserables and (pearl clutch!!) ….Hamilton:The Musical. Get ready to have Broadway in Philadelphia palpitations because all of these incredible Tony Awards grabbing shows are all locked and loaded on the Kimmel Center schedule. Which of course for you comes down to four lovely words….grab those tickets now

5.Once again…all…of….that…music. In case the first round of classically delicious Motown grooves wasn’t enough to get you groovin’ over to the Kimmel Center box office there’s also…..”Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Ball of Confusion,” “Dancing in the Street,” “Can I Close the Door,” “Get Ready,” and you guessed it, many, many, many, many more. There’s just really nothing else to say here because you and the entire family just have to experience…it all for yourselves. So, grab those tickets to see Motown:The Musical while it’s here in the City of Brotherly Love until June 11th and the incredible cast, just as equally incredible story and so, so much more will be waiting just for you. Yes, you. So, go.