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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. 

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5 Reasons Why There’s Something Very Special About ‘Something Rotten!’

If there’s one thing that you should absolutely do in Philly this week, it’s go see the Broadway smash–and Tony Award winning!!–Something Rotten!, which kicks off its week-long run at the Academy of Music tonight through this Sunday, March 4th. 

Set in 1595, the story trails along with Nick and Nigel Bottom, two brothers who hilariously struggle to find success in the theatrical world, competing with the likes of their contemporary frenemy, William Shakespeare. A roaring romp from start to finish, Something Rotten! has acquired praise from across the globe with the Gazette spilling, “You couldn’t ask for a sillier more satisfying show for theater nerds and anyone who loves shows packed with elaborate dance numbers, double entendres and energy to spare.”

And there’s even some that are saying (perhaps the actors themselves?) that Something Rotten! “….is the funniest show in over 400 years.” While it’s easy to go on and on about Broadway’s daring Tony darling of a show, you must see it for yourself at the Academy of Music this week. 

But first, here’s 5 reasons why–along with some truly fabulous clips!!–as to why there’s just something very, very special about Broadway’s Something Rotten! 

Now, get those tickets. 

1. It was destined to be a hit right from the very beginning…. Originally conceived as an idea conjured up by brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick in the 1990s, the Broadway bound siblings eventually teamed up with composer John O’Farrell to write a few songs and a produce a stage treatment, which soon made their way to acclaimed producer Kevin McCollum in 2010. Although Something Rotten! was expected to have a pre-Broadway trial in Seattle in spring 2015, McCollum felt confident enough that he had a bona fide smash on his creative hands that he opted to open the show without the Seattle tryout when a Broadway theatre became available.  And well, the rest is certainly stage history as the show officially opened in NYC on April 22nd, 2015 to rave reviews and of course eventually…..all of those Tony nominations (10to be exact) with the national tour soon following two years later. And the continuing of the Rotten journey is the reason why you should absolutely catch this wonderful show while it’s in the city until this Sunday. 

2.The cast is all about the Broadway and Philly love…and marriage!  Perhaps one of the best parts about the national tour of Something Rotten! (besides, well, all of it) is that three of its leads are all critically acclaimed theater connoisseurs along with being featured on the show’s original Broadway run. Yes, Rob McClure (Nick Bottom), Josh Grisetti (Nigel Bottom) and Adam Pascal (Shakespeare) have taken the Great White Way by storm and are guaranteed more than ready to serve Philly with their tremendous talents all week-long.

And as lucky love would have it, Mr. McClure gets to be married to lead Rotten actress Maggie Lakis (Nick’s equally hilarious wife, Bea) both on and off the stage! And you’re going to love this…..both Rob and Maggie are from Philly and got engaged right on stage at the Forrest Theatre back in 2008! And while we may not know just how they make it all work since marriage is also a high-profile job in itself, but we’re guessing the hijinks that ensue in this Mr. McClure’s hilariously helmed backstage video might just have something to do with it. Check it out and then get those tickets…now. 

3.It’s got all of the delightful Broadway tunes you need in your life right now….    From the jazzed up opening number, “Welcome to the Renaissance” to “God, I Hate Shakespeare” to fan favorite, “A Musical,” not only does this spectacular stage spectacle have all of the eardrum grabbin,’ toe tappin’ music you could ever want from a Broadway show, but it all adds up to what’s sure to be a fabulous night out in Philly for you and yours this week.  No further statements. 

4.Or how about…..  that time “Hard to Be the Bard” took over the White House?? Priceless. 

5.Do you really need another reason after that? Absolutely not! So, get those tickets (right here!) before you feel absolutely rotten about missing the critically acclaimed Something Rotten! at the Academy of Music this week. 

Okay, here’s one more. See you there! 

Cover photo courtesy of The Kimmel Center for Performing Arts