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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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‘The Sound of Music’ Tea w/Jill-Christine Wiley

If there’s one thing that remains true in today’s rapidly changing (and a tad bit crazy) world, it’s that The Sound of Music will remain as timeless as they come. 

A huge Broadway smash thanks to the talents of the incredible Mary Martin and the legendary production prowess of playwrights Rodgers & Hammerstein, the show would also go on to find phenomenal success on the big screen as well (hey there, Ms. Julie Andrews), raking in $158 million in 1965, which adjusts to a whopping $1.3 billion in today’s dollars.

Let that pop culture fact just blow your mind for a moment….

Based on matriarch Maria von Trapp‘s autobiography, The Sound of Music, tells the tale of a rather sugary sweet story involving nuns, Nazis, seven ridiculously cute children, and of course, lots and lots of fabulous hills. However, there’s just something about that dear sweet music when it comes to this ever lasting show, and with such classic tunes as “Climb Every Mountain,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi” and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” you know you’re going to be more than ready when all of these numbers come alive inside the Merriam Theater beginning tomorrow night through this Sunday, April 29th. 

But perhaps even more grand than all of the Music magic that will be taking over the City of Brotherly Love this week, are the many, many talents of leading actress Jill-Christine Wiley–dancing! singing! acting!–and she was gracious enough to stop by the Philly Mixtape entertainment tea table to spill about it all before she dazzles the city with her take on the iconic role of Maria. 

Of course, it may come pretty easy for Jill being that she’s already has a portrayal of another cherished character on her impressive resume–that of Belle in the national tour of Beauty of the Beast. So, now that you’re completely convinced to take the whole entire family to go see The Sound of Music while it’s in Philly this week, get those tickets right here……

…………but first get to know the lovely Jill Christine-Wiley below as she breaks mugs about, well, it all

Hey, Jill, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with Philly Mixtape! Kicking off our little spill, how does it feel to be playing the iconic role of Maria in ‘The Sound of Music?” It’s truly been the most wonderful experience! Getting to step into Maria’s shoes each night is such a privilege. Of course there have been so many talented women who have portrayed this role, such as Mary Martin, having originated the role on Broadway, to Julie Andrews in the film, not to mention the two other incredibly talented women who have led this tour before me. I think it’s also important to remember that Maria was a real person – the first thing I did was go right to her autobiography. I wanted to “get to know her” as best I could. I’m not only storytelling on stage each night, I’m “truth-telling.”

How many times have you seen the original? I think, having grown up watching the film it’s safe to say that I’ve lost count. It’s been a few months (dare I say even more) since I last saw the film….when you’re “living” it each night, it isn’t the first film you go to watch while out on the road…maybe this summer I’ll watch it again for fun!

Moving onto the stage for a moment, what are some personal rituals you do to relax and dive into each show before every curtain call?  I have a pack of Daily Affirmation cards – each card as one word to serve as an “intention card.” Before each show, I will draw a card and use that word as my intention for that performance. Last night, I drew the word, “truth” so I use that performance to really focus in on being truthful. Having that word intention set each night really helps keep me grounded and focused in my show.

There’s simply no denying that we’re in some really truly tough times right now, so we need those future entertainers more than ever!! What words of wisdom would you give to any aspiring actor or actress who decided right this very second to step onto that stage for the very first time? Embrace the mistakes. As performers/artists, we are always evolving, and no work is ever a finished product. Try not to self-edit or judge your work too harshly. We are in an industry where we are always looking to better ourselves – keep working, keep learning, keep growing.

Okay, let’s spill about the show! What can Philly fans expect from this production of ‘The Sound of Music?’ This is a classic and, at the end of the night, you’re going to leave the theatre humming the tunes you all know and love. This story has so much depth, it’s a story for all ages. It’s about the love of family, love of music, finding new love, the political aspects and fighting for what’s right and what you believe in.

How would you sum up it all up in one word? CAPTIVATING!

One last sip…..who are some of your favorite music artists that you simply can’t live without?  I can’t seem to get enough of The Civil Wars, Sara Bareilles or Damien Rice. Pre-show tunes, I can always go for some Barbra Streisand, Nat “King” Cole, Whitney and of course my personal favorite, Celine Dion!

For much more tea with the fabulous Jill-Christine Wiley, check this out…..

……and to get your tickets to relive and revel in ‘The Sound of Music‘ while it’s here in town until this Sunday, follow those hills to the box office right here.

Cover photo courtesy of the Kimmel Center






 

 

 

 

 

CAPTIVATING!

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‘Rain’ Tea w/Steve Landes

If there’s one thing that we can all agree on as time (quickly!) flies by, it’s that the sound, style and legacy of the Beatles will remain timeless for all of music eternity. 

Not only did the Fab Four change the entertainment landscape for which we lay our headphones upon into a brighter, bolder place, but they also provided us with a soundtrack that is still very, very, very much celebrated today just the same as when they stole our hearts appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show all the way back in 1965. 

Remember? Of course you do. 

In music fact, one of their most celebrated records, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is celebrating fifty years of captivating our lives this year. So, to commemorate this truly golden occasion, members of the critically acclaimed stage show, Rain:A Tribute to the Beatles, have incorporated the entire album in their standout act.

And guess what?

They’re taking it to the beloved Academy of Music stage this Friday for a limited engagement that’s not to be missed…seriously. 

Yes, get those tickets and join Paul Curatolo(Paul McCartney), Aaron Chiazza, (Ringo Starr), Alastar McNeil  (George Harrison) and Steve Landes (John Lennon) as they not only deliver a show full of that one-of-a-kind Sgt. Pepper life and legacy, but a night out that any Beatles fan will never forget anytime soon. 

And as fabulous luck would have it, the multi, multi-talented Mr. Landes was kind enough to stop by Philly Mixtape for a hearty spot of Rain tea, where he broke mugs about his favorite tunes, what he wants the audience to take away from the show, and of course, just how he came to play the legendary John Lennon. 

It’s all here and so much more. There’s really nothing else to say except….get ready, Philly. 

Okay, first up….how does it feel to be a part of such a legendary show like Rain? It feels really great to be performing this particular version of our show, with the whole Sgt Pepper album included in our performance. The songs on that album were really groundbreaking at the time, and they hold up. This album really could’ve been made this year, and not 1967!

Tell everyone the story of how you came to play John Lennon…. My parents and my older sisters were Beatles fans back in the day. So by the time I came along, years later, The Beatles’ records were still some of the albums my family would play regularly. So The Beatles were always a part of my life. From there, I sang around the house as a kid, and wanted to learn to play guitar. My parents bought me my first guitar for my 10th birthday, and some of the first songs I learned to play were Beatles songs, of course! From there, I came to connect to John Lennon, his music, and his message of peace & love, more so than the other Beatles, so when the chance came up to do this sort of thing onstage, it was he who I wanted to portray. Studying the recordings & videos, reading all of the books I could get my hands on, just doing as much research as possible to him embody his character onstage, was, and is, an ongoing process.

Besides the Beatles–obviously!!–what are some of your personal musical influences? One of my favorite artists outside of The Beatles is New Zealand singer/songwriter Neil Finn, of the bands Split Enz & Crowded House. But growing up in the Philly area, I was really immersed in the Philly sounds growing up, from listening to Fifties and Sixties music on Oldies Station WFIL, to all the pop-soul stuff going on as I was growing up, like Hall & Oates, and the Philly Soul sound. I think that really helped shaped my tastes and musical styling. I love everything in that rock/pop/soul vein, from Marvin Gaye to Adele.

Speaking of Philly, as well as audiences everywhere, what is the one thing you hope they take away from this production of ‘Rain?’One of things I hope, when they see us performing the songs live, is that people realize what a great band The Beatles were. I feel that they’re still underrated as musicians (except – maybe people realize what a great bass player Paul was). But they were all incredible rock musicians, and really just a good solid rock band altogether. Also, the message of John Lennon’s and The Beatles’ music is one of positivity, and hope – Give Peace A Chance, ‘take a sad song and make it better’, All You Need Is Love. These are important messages, and I think we need them now more than ever. I hope audiences take that hope, positivity, and peace, love, & happiness with them after seeing our show. I know The Beatles’ music has the power to do that.

What has doing this show meant to you personally? Personally, this whole experience so far has been a dream come true, a real labor of love. The rest of the original Rain band members and I created the show, so seeing some of the things I suggested actually get used as a part of the show was exciting, and seeing what the other guys had come up with to create the show was equally exciting. It was quite the creative process for all of us, and we continue to add new elements to it all the time, such as the Sgt. Pepper album this time out. So that side of it is exciting for me, and I’m sure for the other guys as well.

What words of wisdom would you give any young dude or diva out there who decided right this second to enter this crazy music and entertainment business? If you find something you love to do, and it makes you happy, like singing, acting, playing guitar, or creating something — do it, do it, do it, do it, do it!! People can be negative sometimes – Don’t let anyone or anything keep you from doing it. Keep your options open, be willing to listen & pay your dues. And in the words of Del Paxton from “That Thing You Do”, “Watch your money; you’ll land on your feet”.

One last spot of tea……describe ‘Rain’ in 1 word….  LOVE. Audiences love The Beatles, what their music means to them, and how the love and brotherhood of those four guys affect them. We do what we do because we love the music, we have an admiration and respect for what The Beatles accomplished musically, and have a passion for recreating it live onstage.

For much, much more Rain tea (and to get to know the talents of each of the guys), check this out

Cover photo courtesy of The Kimmel Center

Get those tickets.