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JULY / AUGUST 2015 Issue • 506

TM

P E E BL

+ RU PAUL’S DRAG RACE BREAKOUT STAR

GINGER MINJ

Cast members from

Hamilton An American In Paris Finding Neverland On The Town

SUMMERon + BROADWAY

THE BROADWAY INSPIRATIONAL VOICES & WE ARE ON THE SCENE AT THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF BROADWAY BARES BLEEP 1


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what’s

n i p e e bl inside: 12

TIM GRADY

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NYC GOES COUNTRY

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GINGER MINJ TAKES MANHATTAN

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SUMMER ON BROADWAY

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THE BOYS OF SUMMER

Tim Grady makes musical theatre audition reels for actors. We caught up with the filmmaker about what led him to making videos for actors and how he keeps them from all looking the same.

Some of country music’s biggest names and most exciting emerging artists took over NYC for three days in the first ever country music festival in the city. We were on the scene at Farmborough 2015.

Millions watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race every week and have made it one of TV’s most fun competition shows. This season’s breakout star, Ginger Minj, may not have taken home the crown, but she did steal the audience’s heart.

The Tonys may be over, but the summer on Broadway is just getting revved up. We caught up with five of the most dynamic performers in four of the summer’s hottest musicals: Broadway’s two most gorgeously dance-heavy musicals An American In Paris & On The Town, the box office juggernaut of the season Finding Neverland and the Broadway transfer of the mega-hit Hamilton. Shot at New York’s G Lounge, they talk about performing on the Tonys, the excitement of Broadway fans and the challenge of being in such dance-heavy shows.

Outfitted in BodyAware swim and sportswear, Dan Fettig and Julius Carter (Broadway’s On The Town) share their favorite parts of summer in New York.

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TM

BLEEP OUR. TEAM. RYAN BRINSON Editor-in-Chief

SARAH ROTKER Business & Audience Development Manager PABLO SALINAS Social Media Associate COVER PHOTOGRAPHER: Michael Young FEATURE EDITORS: Nathan Robins

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BROADWAY INSPIRATIONAL VOICES For some, it’s an experience that rings familiar from the churches they grew up in. For others, it’s a glimpse into a completely different culture of music. No matter what, it’s an experience of the spirit that you are welcomed into.

BROADWAY BARES ALL What began as a fundraiser at a bar has become the sexiest night of the year with the hottest dancing men and women taking it all off to raise as much money as they can to support BCEFA.

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CONTRIBUTORS: Caleb Bollenbacher Rachael Mariboho Hatley Moore Laura Seitter Alex Wright FEATURE CONTRIBUTORS: Florian Hubertus WEB CONTENT: Sheena Wagaman All articles and photos are the property of the writers and artists. All rights reserved.


From the Editor Love is love. That’s been the resounding sentiment across the country this month. With everything that’s wrong in the world today, and more specifically, everything that’s wrong in America, it’s incredibly refreshing to have such a brightly colored statement made both in parades and at a federal level. June 2015 will be known as the month that changed many people’s lives across America. I think that’s wonderful. And that’s all I have to say this month. Yes, I’m extremely proud of this issue. The Broadway artists are incredible both on stage and off (they’re also all incredibly kind and warm, which matters even more than how talented they are). The photographers all captured the artists in such a great way, making them shine even more. From the music of Broadway to the country music out at the Farmborough Music Festival - this issue features and incredible array of the most talented artists working today. But all I can think about is that love is love and that’s what really matters. I’m thankful to be alive right now, in a time where there is such change and such acceptance for all people.

Ryan Brinson Editor-in-Chief

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BLEEPblips SeaWife takes over the Sea Port Part play, part concert, and part environmental experience, SeaWife, presented by downtown theater company Naked Angels, is a modern theatrical event where audiences are invited to raise a glass of ale as they are transported through an adventure following Percy, a young sailor bred within the golden age of the American whaling industry. From haunting folk ballads to rhythmic bluegrass melodies, SeaWife features an original score that weaves lush harmonies and folk instrumentation to create a unique acoustic sound, performed by a team of actormusicians. Naked Angels is committed to developing and producing new work by artists who explore unique perspectives and nontraditional theatrical formats. Formed in 1986 by a group of restless and ambitious artists striving to promote rigorous voices, Naked Angels quickly became known as breeding ground for up-and-coming talent, with early members including Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Marisa Tomei, and Gina Gershon. SeaWife is a limited summer engagement through July 19 at South Street Seaport Museum’s Melville Gallery (213 Water Street) in New York’s historic South Street Seaport district. Photos by Caitlin McNaney

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MIGHTY REAL: A FABULOUS SYLVESTER MUSICAL, the hit musical celebration of the life and music of the original 1970s “Queen of Disco,” Sylvester, returns to New York City for a special one-night-only performance at The Gramercy Theater (127 East 23rd Street) on Friday, July 31st, 2015 at 8 PM. We loved it and this is a show you do not want to miss! Tickets are online at www.FabulousSylvester.com BLEEP 7


REEL LIFE

by Alex Wright

Strong Spines Required “If you want to act that way, you’ll need to leave my class. If you want to stay, you need to respect me; that was out of line.” The room settled down into silence, except for the soft shuffling of uncomfortable feet. Out of my peripheral vision I could see my student’s cross their arms or fold their hands in front of their bodies. Eyes were diverted to the ground, except for the student to whom I was softly and firming speaking. It was my first day teaching graduate students, and this student, after making several sexually inappropriate jokes in reference to things I was mentioning in class, whistled at my butt as I demonstrated to them various ways we can align ourselves and obtain a strong spine. “Look at your alignment in the mirror. Is your tailbone tucked under? Is it pointing towards the ground in a neutral alignment? Do you have a strong spine? Are you sway backed?” And then came the whistle. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve come across this behavior from students. I’m a young teacher. In most instances, I’m younger than most of the students. The first day is full of side-glances and whisperings as I pass out the syllabus: “She’s our teacher?” “What does she know?” And while I’m proud to say that I have built with all of my students and classes a sense of trust and respect, there is always this moment. There is always this warning. There is always this test. Being an actor in Los Angeles is a constant dance of explanation and nuance, and often times, other actors are the biggest culprits of judgment. Who is your representation?

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What casting directors do you know? Have I seen you in anything? Oh, you were in that? Interesting. Not surprisingly, being an actress adds on another layer of sexual demoralization. The fact that actresses are judged more by their appearance than their talent or emotional intelligence isn’t new news, but what is shocking is just how pervasive this thought can be; it leaves the audition room and spreads into every other nook and cranny of your life. I’m not insinuating that this town is a cake walk for men: being hyper masculine, having Thor-like abs, and living the swinging bachelor lifestyle are all pressures that I have heard my male actor friends express. However, sometimes it feels like voicing that I’m an actress is comparable to me voicing that I’m “loose”. Maybe it’s because this town is overrun with actresses, but promiscuity, emotional or otherwise, is assumed, and all of a sudden my education isn’t significant, nor is the knowledge or experience I could share with my students. Instead, what gains significance over intellect are sexuality, appearance, and how far you’re willing to push back your own personal boundaries. “I was just kidding,” “Don’t take everything so serious,” “What a bitch,” becomes the response from the commentator. I’m happy to say that things have since been straightened out with this student, but it doesn’t change the fact that being in this town means treading softly, moving confidently, speaking firmly, and trusting lightly. It requires a thick skin and a strong spine.


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the intersection by

caleb bollenbacher

Hang Onto Your Ego Songs I love when art speaks about art. That’s so often the nature of creation: to imitate life. Even when we write, or sing about fantastic people and places, the starting point is almost always our own reality. We see new things through old lenses, and no matter the context, you can often trace the final product back to something familiar. But when art imitates life imitating art – a portrayal that speaks to the act of creation – there is something that is so undeniably important, so fascinating and educational, especially for those of us who create. “Love & Mercy”, the recently released biopic about two important eras in the life of Brian Wilson – one of the founding members of the Beach Boys, and the true genius of the group – is such a piece of art. For those of you who haven’t seen it (and I can’t recommend strongly enough that you do), “Love & Mercy” primarily concerns itself with the points in Brian Wilson’s life where he is at his highest (the recording of

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the “Pet Sounds” album, which was Wilson’s attempt to outdo the studio innovations of The Beatles) and his lowest (what basically amounts to a kidnapping at the hands of a so-called psychologist). The uniting factor between these two eras is madness, a ferocious drive to create that is so consuming that it made Wilson go crazy. One could argue that there were plenty of other factors leading to Wilson’s bout with insanity – a father who was both emotionally and physically abusive, and the drug consumption that was becoming so commonplace during the revolution-infused 60’s – but I think the devil is in the details. Brian lived so far outside of the box and was so surrounded by a culture – fans, record labels, and even his own bandmates – telling him to come back to safety, that something snapped. Ambition drove Wilson mad. The beauty of Brian Wilson’s life is that there is a happy ending (in the case of “Love & Mercy” I’m not going to feel too bad about spoiling a biopic, especially when the true beauty of the movie is


in the performance and presentation, rather than the plot). He eventually found happiness. He eventually found validation. Eventually, though it took far longer than it should have, the world learned to celebrate his genius. There’s a great scene in the movie that really split my emotions. I couldn’t decide if I should laugh or cry, and I’m still not entirely sure what the verdict is. At some point during a Beach Boys recording session, Wilson’s father swaggers into the studio and hoists a record onto the engineer to play. “I Live For the Sun”, by The Sunrays, begins to play over the speakers, and Mr. Wilson proclaims something along the lines of “THIS is what a hit record sounds like”, as opposed to the new direction of the Beach Boys music Brian is composing. You’ve probably realized the irony by now. The Sunrays, who indeed sound like an early version of the Beach Boys, are a band you’ve probably never heard of, unless you lived in a certain region of California in 1965. The Beach Boys, on the other hand…well, it goes without saying. “Pet Sounds” is widely regarded as one of the best albums ever recorded, and when Brian’s attempted follow-up was eventually released it won a handful of Grammys. But that’s the thing about pop culture. So often it falls into a vicious loop of attempted selfreplication. More often than not, people chase what’s big in the moment; what’s safe; what’s familiar. That’s all well and good for a short time, but in the big picture it doesn’t amount to much. Repetition works towards perfection for a time, and then it becomes the enemy of progress, as everything gains critical mass and folds in on itself. That’s the problem with pop culture. We don’t realize that we want something new until it has fought for and demanded our attention. Wilson’s father might have gleefully boasted about finding the “next Beach Boys”, but the simple truth is that he was operating behind the curve. The thing that makes people like Brian Wilson, like John

Lennon and Paul McCartney, truly great is that they find a way to climb to the top and then keep climbing where other people would just dig their heels in. Wilson could have kept co-writing songs about surfing and cars and girls and ended up with a comfortable retirement plan. The Beatles could have gone on doing sold-out stadium shows and been remembered as the biggest act of the decade. Instead we see a relentless pursuit of art that sends out shockwaves into the present day. Whether born by competition (Wilson created his masterpiece out of a need to “one-up” the Beatles, and their crowning jewel, “Sgt Pepper” was created in response) or just a restless spirit, these artists pushed the envelope into zip code after creative zip code to revolutionize music. The recording industry today is defined by production that sees its origins in works like “Pet Sounds” and “Sgt Pepper”, albums where these composers refused to content themselves with “good enough”. Where recording used to be a process closer to just pressing play and isolating a best take, these albums feature instruments from all over the spectrum, sounds that to an outsider might make no sense but when taken as a whole create something beautiful…music where there was nothing. This is the happy ending that Brian Wilson so embodies, that greatness pushes more greatness. Art pushes more art, and to give in to a desire to just imitate it is true madness. Sure it’s acceptable to do something good, something that you know people will like, but when has art ever been about “acceptable”?

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one to watch

Tim Grady makes musical theatre audition reels for actors. “The main goal is for actors to have solid footage on Youtube so they can submit for parts when they are out on tour or in regional shows. Then they can be considered for auditions when they aren’t physically in New York.” We caught up with the filmmaker about what led him to making videos for actors and how he keeps them from all looking the same. Actors have had reels for some time now, but what led you making this specific type of film reel for other actors? I was working a show down in Florida as an actor and my friends in the show kept asking me to put them on film. As I did it more and more, I realized it was something that would be great for actors to have. I came back to New York, and started interviewing casting directors and creative team members to see what they’re looking for. I created a standard format that includes an interview so you get the talent as well as the personality of the actor. What keeps you energized and focused on what you’re doing? I love it. I love helping actors and I love when I hear a success story, hearing someone got a callback, or booked a show, or got an agent because of their reel. It motivates me to keep helping actors. I know the struggle and it’s tough, but with this online presence, people are having success from these videos. If you’ve figured out a format that works, what keeps all of the reels from looking the same? The personality that shines through in the interview. Each person has something different to bring to the table. What goals have you set for yourself? I’m continuing to build the reels so it becomes as standard as having a headshot and a resume. On top of that, I’m always improving with new equipment and better audio on the videos. What inspires you as an artist? My friends who are pounding the pavement every day. They make me want to be better.

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For more and to book your session, head over to www.timgradyfilms.com


Photo by Michael Young

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C S E O G C NY

Dierks Bentley blows the crowd away Friday night.

most d n a s e m a n t s e g usic’s big m y r t n u o c f o e m r three fo So C Y N r e v o k o o t g artists the in l a exciting emergin iv t s fe ic s u m r country e v e t s r fi e h t in s h 2015. g day u o r o b m r a F t a he scene t n o e r e w e W . y it c

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Y R T CO U N Photos courtesy of the Farmborough Music Festival

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Brad Paisley sings through the rain to thousands of soaked fans.

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W

hen someone thinks about music and New York City, country and bluegrass probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But the organizers of the inaugural Farmborough Music Festival knew how many people in the Tri-State area were missing out on the country music festivals the rest of the country has access to each summer. Led by headliners Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley and Luke Bryan, for three days, country music echoed through the streets of Manhattan and Queens from the festival on Randall’s Island. While not short on star power, one of the things the festival did was allow emerging country artists a huge platform to get their music heard. On both the main stage and the Next From Nashville Stage, artists who are only just beginning their moments in the spotlight were able to shine in front of an audience of adoring new fans. We had a blast and are already looking forward to next year. Discover new talent, sing along with your favorite headliners, and be on the lookout for ticket info for next summer.

behind Paisley made for the perfect backdrop to the curtains of rain pouring in front of him. It was a cool and poignant moment for any Paisley fan. BEST OF THE FESTIVAL: It’s true what they say, save the best for last. Luke Bryan, the current King of country music, pulled out all the stops and he danced and sang through his set, the weekend’s big finale. No one was a better choice than Bryan, who brings an energy to country music unlike any other performer.

OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST OF THE WEEKEND ARTIST TO WATCH: One of our favorites was Mickey Guyton, an artist who has recently made a splash with her song “Better Than You Left Me,” and further proved she’s got what it takes when Brad Paisley brought her out to sing with him. BEST SONG CHOICE/RAIN COLLABORATION: Brad Paisley couldn’t have picked a better time to sing his hit “A Perfect Storm.” As the rain poured down over Manhattan, the images of waves crashing

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Cassadee Pope


Joe Nichols

Mickey Guyton has burst onto the country scene and she didn’t disappoint at Farmborough.

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Raelynn


Reigning king of country Luke Bryan closes out the festival BLEEP 19 Sunday night.


Rising star Kip Moore takes over Farmborough.

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Canaan Smith

Maddie and Tae.

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TM

BLEEP CREATIVITY. UNCENSORED.

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Ginger Minj five

questions with

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Millions watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race every week and have made it one of TV’s most fun competition shows. This season’s breakout star, Ginger Minj, may not have taken home the crown, (“No one wants to be Fantasia. Everyone wants to be Jennifer Hudson. I’m perfectly content not winning.”) but she did steal the audience’s heart. What surprised you about your Drag Race experience this season? I didn’t expect to go in and actually care about these people. It’s a competition and a game, but being able to talk and get to know these girls, we actually did create a bond. There are 14 other people who had the same experience as each other so there’s a love there. I had heard of other seasons having something similar but I didn’t understand it until I was in it. How did your new single, “Ooh Lala Lala” come about? There’s a pressure to release music once the Drag Race season is over. The fans want and expect it but I was not going to do it just to do it. I’ve been a singer my whole life so I wanted something quality. I wanted an anthem for everyone, no matter if you’re gay, straight, skinny, fat, purple or pink - do what you want to do. You’ll be alright. We recorded the song and shot the video in a week and a half. I felt like a rock star. You’re bringing your show, “Crossdresser For Christ - The Musical: A Drag Queen Confessional” to NYC this month. It’s a one-woman show about my life from being born to being in drag. It’s about me reconciling my Southern Baptist upbringing with the terrible decisions I make every day - all set to music. It’s cheaper than therapy to sing about it rather than say it. There’s no better audience than NYC so it’s going to be great. How did being a part of Drag Race affect how you perform going forward? I’ve been a performer my enter life, but I felt like I’d reached my peak in Orlando. I just wasn’t pushing myself. Drag Race forced me to open my mind and try. Even if I’m not great at something, I can do it. Now I’m pushing to do things that make myself nervous and take bigger chances. What’s next for you? I have an album that’s going to drop that actually features a duet with Magaret Cho. It’s hysterical and nothing like what you would expect either she or I to do. I have my show happening, then there’s the Drag Race tour after that. Basically, now that I know John Waters is a huge fan, I’m hoping he will write me a movie to come back as Divine’s long lost child. Head over to www.gingerminj.com for ticket info and more. BLEEP 25


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The Tonys may be over, but the summer on Broadway is just getting revved up. We caught up with five of the most dynamic performers in four of the summer’s hottest musicals: Broadway’s two most gorgeously dance-heavy musicals An American In Paris & On The Town, the box office juggernaut of the season Finding Neverland and the Broadway transfer of the mega-hit Hamilton. Shot at New York’s G Lounge, they talk about performing on the Tonys, the excitement of Broadway fans and the challenge of being in such danceheavy shows. Photos by Michael Young

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Photo assistant: Anthony Lee Medina Shoot assistant: Renee Rodriguez On Sasha: David Dalrymple dress www.daviddalrymple.com 30 BLEEP


STEPHEN HANNA ON THE TOWN

How has this show been different from some of your previous works like Billy Elliot or the New York City Ballet? It’s been different because the director and choreographer let us really create what we do. So each character is specific to each individual person. With such a dance heavy show, what is the most challenging It’s been really fun. Yesterday, I had to call out because my foot was hurt and I actually really missed being there. I think that’s a testament to how much fun we have doing it. You performed on the Tonys! It was such a huge adrenaline rush. It was the second time I have performed on the Tonys and it was better this second time because the energy of the cast dancing so full out all together is really unbeatable.

On Stephen: Marek + Richard BLEEP 31 www.marekrichard.com


On Colin: Shirt by Marek + Richard www.marekrichard.com Jeans & suspenders by ManSkins www.manskins.com

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On Nathan: Marek + Richard www.marekrichard.com

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COLIN CUNLIFFE

“I am currently the rollerskating Russian bear in Finding Neverland.” You’ve been working on Broadway for some time now in shows like The Addams Family, Evita and Pippin. How is this experience different than your previous times on Broadway? I think Finding Neverland is different from other shows mainly because it is a tribute to the theatre. It’s a show about theatre, why do we theatre, why we tell stories – to be able to do a show about what we do and why we do it is a treat. The level of fandom that surrounds your show is different than other shows. How does it feel to be the recipient of that energy every night? It feels amazing. I like to tell friends one of the reasons I love doing this show is that its cathartic for anyone. You have little kids on the front row who fall in love with Peter Pan for the first time, you have older people who have been in love with Peter Pan their whole life and to see everyone go through this experience on stage together is really nice. What’s next for you? Hopefully some more work creating with other performers, some new work from our perspective.

On Colin: Marek + Richard www.marekrichard.com 34 BLEEP


On Sydney: David Dalrymple designs BLEEP 35 www.daviddalrymple.com


On Colin, Nathan & Stephen: Marek + Richard 36 BLEEP www.marekrichard.com


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SASHA HUTCHINGS HAMILTON

Hamilton had a huge run at The Public before transferring to Broadway this July. How has your experience so far been? It’s the most original experience I’ve ever had. My first show, Memphis, had already won the Tony and been open for two years. With Motown and Rocky, both were original musicals but were stories or music we already knew. This show is a story that a lot of people don’t know, in a style that no one has seen, so being a part of the process of an original work and an original idea is amazing. Also – it’s not very often that a show asks ensemble to be so present and to be an integral part of the story that’s being told. We really are the foundation of the show and we feel that weight and that responsibility, but we also feel that reward.

On Sasha: David Dalrymple top 38 BLEEP www.daviddalrymple.com

In your opinion, why is this work resonating so loudly with audiences? It’s very rare that you honestly see colorblind casting or that you honestly see non-traditional casting. It’s time for us to let everyone tell stories and not have one look or one type be the standard for normalcy. We need to recognize people’s spirits and not their skin color. This show is a reflection of what people are asking for in life and specifically right now in the US. Being a part of work that reflects that on stage, no matter the medium, is the constant dream.


On Stephen: Marek + Richard www.marekrichard.com

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NATHAN MADDEN

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS An American In Paris is one of the season’s biggest hits. How has it been being a part of an original cast? I was in the workshop for this show while I was in Chicago, my first Broadway show. They’re amazing over there but it opened 18 years ago without me so it wasn’t the same experience. This really feels like my first time. How was your first time at the Tonys? This was my first time performing on the Tonys, being in a show that’s nominated – it’s a dream come true. When I was little, I always wanted to perform on the Tonys. It’s your taste of Broadway when you live in Middle America. I had dreams of coming here. When you grew up other places, what was the inspiration that led you here to Broadway? My parents were in the military and I come from a musical family. Everywhere I went, I was in a ballet company and taking voice lessons – so I had supportive parents and I was always training for this. Now, I love the creative process. I want to eventually be a choreographer and a director one day, but right now, I’m an actor and I’m so happy to be one.

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On Nathan: Marek + Richard BLEEP 41 www.marekrichard.com


On Sasha & Sydney: David Dalrymple designs 42 BLEEP www.daviddalrymple.com


SYDNEY JAMES HARCOURT HAMILTON

What are you most looking forward to with Hamilton transferring to Broadway? Getting to show it to a larger audience. I think it’s a show that needs to be seen by everyone, not just people who can afford a trip to New York and a high-priced ticket. Bringing it to Broadway is the next step in proliferating it out through communities and high schools and giving this gift to people. It’s going to get so many cross-sections of Americans involved in American history. What was the most challenging part of Hamilton? Learning the choreography. I am way more of a singer. I used to dance on Broadway but stopped 13 years ago so I came in thinking I’m in a singer track but I’m not. I’m doing it all. I’m in a room with the best dancers in the world and I’m having to keep up. Where do you draw inspiration from? I don’t think New York is only for those who already have money or those who are only here to make money. I’m inspired by the artists who still move here to discover themselves and offer their art to people. Those who are making art just to share a part of themselves with us.

On Sydney: David Dalrymple designs www.daviddalrymple.com

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EMAIL US FOR DETAILS RYAN@BLEEPMAG.COM

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boys of

summer OUTFITTED IN BODYAWARE SWIM AND SPORTSWEAR, DAN AND JULIUS SHARE THEIR FAVORITE PARTS OF SUMMER IN NEW YORK. PHOTOS BY ERIC PIETRANGOLARE

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DAN FETTIG

VEVO Campaign Manager

“It’s a tech job. Basically I put up the ads you have to watch before you get to the video you actually want to watch.” What are your top three favorite things about New York in the summer? Boys in short shorts. I like that you can just walk around the city, it’s not cold, you can stroll. There’s stuff to do during the summer whether it’s the piers or movies or even going outside the city. It’s New York. There’s always something to do.

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JULIUS CARTER

Performer, On The Town

“I’ve been working on Broadway for about nine years and this is my last year on the stage actually because I’m going to law school in August.” What’s your favorite aspect of On The Town? The music and the dancing. The music has such color and texture and is iconic. When you hear “New York, New York” start, you know what it means, what it is and the time period it’s set in. It’s the most difficult music on Broadway I think. Our orchestra is amazing, the largest orchestra on Broadway, knows how challenging it is and it’s hard for them to find subs because of how challenging the music is. What are your top three favorite things about New York in the summer? Rooftop parties. I love a good rooftop cocktail moment. Sunday, after a show, the best thing to do is put on my shorts and go to a rooftop with my friends. I like to travel a lot so for me, going to Fire Island and the Hamptons is fun. I love being on a beach. People in New York have a dynamic energy. Everyone is out and about, eating outside, running in the park – it’s great.

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broadway inspirational REACHING HIGHER voices THAN EVER BEFORE

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“I grew up in church,” Michael McElroy said when we talked to him in 2012 for our BLEEP cover feature, “I grew up singing this music and I knew that the music itself, separate from religious doctrine, was powerful. I wanted to bring it, in some way, to the theatre community.” The Broadway Inspirational Voices was born and with it, a new experience began taking place in New York. For some, it’s an experience that rings familiar from the churches they grew up in. For others, it’s a glimpse into a completely different culture of music. No matter what, it’s an experience of the spirit that you are welcomed into.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRENT DUNDORE

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“It is easy for me to get overwhelmed with the state of our world at times. BIV uses the healing power of music to lift spirits, bring communities together and celebrate what is GOOD in our lives. I am made better by the Broadway Inspirational Voices.”

Gavin Creel

(The Book of Mormon, Hair) “BIV reminds me to slow down and be grateful for all the blessings I have in my life. The world we live today can get you down, you can be distracted, and the choir’s message, music and members always lift my spirits and make me hopeful.”

Antonia Gianino-Hoekstra (The King) 56 Lion BLEEP


In 1994, Michael McElroy wanted to do something to bring hope to a community that was being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. He wanted something that was spiritual yet all inclusive. He began the Broadway Gospel Choir, and in 1999, the group was reincarnated as the Broadway Inspirational Voices. We caught up with McElroy for a preview of what’s happening with the choir this fall.

our first parlor night fundraiser for our Outreach Program. It was hosted on the UWS and friends and choir members performed for an intimate audience. We had Telly Leung, Tituss Burgess, Adriane Lenox, Gavin Creel, Steve Lutvak, Tom Kitt, Alysha Umphress, Norm Lewis, Eden Espinosa and Brian Stokes Mitchell. The concert was hosted by Renee Elise Goldsberry and Mario Cantone. We have a very high profile event coming up in September, we have our holiday concerts in December, and of course [we have] to finish the CD to have available by fall of next year. We also have another parlor night coming up before the end of the year.

The choir has been around for 20 years now. What’s different about it now? What’s stayed the same? From the beginning our mission has all been the music. When I started the BIV, it was about sharing the music to offer healing and joy at a time when our community was reeling from the devastation of AIDS. That was 1994. In 2009, we wanted to continue the mission of utilizing the music to offer healing but in a different way. We started the Outreach program at that time to offer the music to children and youth without arts programs or access to arts in their community. You’re in the process of putting together your second holiday album. What do we have to look forward to? I’m very excited about this CD, “Great Joy II: Around the World.” I did a bunch of research and found some of the most popular Christmas and holiday songs from around the world. I then set about the task of translating and creating Gospel arrangements of these songs. On the CD, we have songs from Germany, Italy, France, Canada, and England, plus a Native American song, and a few traditional American songs. It’s a varied group of music. After so many years, what keeps you going? Like any organization we are still growing and changing. I love the music and what we say as a choir of performers from all backgrounds, races, beliefs etc. The music continues to touch people and the Outreach Program is just beginning to grow. There’s a lot to do still.

For concert info and how to support BIV, head over to www.broadwayinspirationalvoices.org

What’s next for BIV? We have an exciting fall coming up. We just had

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“So much of our talent is spent chasing fortune and fame, but we are called to use every gift to serve. Broadway Inspirational Voices gives its members the opportunity to walk in our calling. And in the times that we live, the need to serve is greater than ever. In a world that can be shockingly intolerant and ignorant of the beauty inherent in difference, we celebrate our diversity. We heal ourselves and our community by praising God without diluting His message and without distorting it. In today’s environment, it feels controversial to speak openly about matters of faith. We sing about it! Loudly, and in harmony! It is a beautiful thing.”

Renee Elise Goldsberry

58 BLEEPThe Color Purple) (Hamilton,


“In our world today, being social is communicating via our electronic devices, being cultural is being caught up on our TV viewing and being political is watching magazine formatted news broadcasts. None of these things require physical interaction. But BIV is a hands-on, very present, organization that cares about the developmental, creative growth and wellbeing of our community! The greatest gift from God is love and all He asks in return is that we love one another. BIV is love!�

Marva Hicks

(Caroline, or Change, Motown the Musical)

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“So much of our talent is spent chasing fortune and fame, but we are called to use every gift to serve. Broadway Inspirational Voices gives its members the opportunity to walk in our calling. And in the times that we live, the need to serve is greater than ever. In a world that can be shockingly intolerant and ignorant of the beauty inherent in difference, we celebrate our diversity. We heal ourselves and our community by praising God without diluting His message and without distorting it. In today’s environment, it feels controversial to speak openly about matters of faith. We sing about it! Loudly, and in harmony! It is a beautiful thing.”

Renee Elise Goldsberry

60 BLEEPThe Color Purple) (Hamilton,


“After 18 years as a member of BIV, I look at this group of amazing singers and actors and realize how powerful the image is. We come from all walks of life, we represent many races and religious practices, but have a common goal: to spread love through service and music. I am honored to be part of something so special.�

Shayna Steele (Hairspray)

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“As a person trying to live in the world today, we are called to respond to things outside of our understanding and even comfort zones on a daily basis. As artists, we are further called to respond and reflect what is happening in the world. BIV affords us the opportunity to fire HOPE and LOVE into a world that is hurting in ways deeper than any of us could have imagined. Negativity and pain is spewed from outlets everywhere we go all day long, and it so fulfilling being side-by-side with my fellow peers pouring in positivity and healing in an undeniable way. Through music. Through togetherness. Through the children who will ultimately reap the benefits of what we create or destroy.”

Marcus Paul James

(Motown the Musical, In the Heights)

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“BIV is a visual reminder that we can change the world if we work together. I always get a little nervous when I hear people say “I see no color, we are all the same.” That is not true. We as a people are many shades of colors, with different lifestyles, different religious backgrounds and from different parts of the world. That is the beauty of EVERYONE sitting at the table together. We have so many different ways to praise our God that the world starts to pay attention to us and say “What is that joy they have, I want that!” And we do it in all of our differences, together!”

Tasha Michelle Smith


“I think BIV is important in today’s environment because it’s a unique, multi-ethnic and multidenominational, choir that celebrates diversity in its members and its musical selections. The choir up lifts all who hears it while encouraging unity through the great universal power of music. In this present time where so many feel alone and insignificant, BIV reminds them through song, they are indeed seen, strong and special.”

Alvin Crawford

(The Lion King, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess)

“When we come together to share our voices, whether in rehearsal, in concert, or standing in the living room at the Ronald MacDonald House, the power of our creative collaboration overwhelms us. So much so, that we become one voice that seeks to truly bless the life of another, not call attention to ourselves, but to share the gift of transformative love that comes through the sounds of human voices united in harmony. It’s never about us or being fabulous. It’s not even about performing, yet the talent level is unprecedented. It is about how we can use our gifts for the benefit of others. It changes us. It offers grace to others. It inspires us to give back to hurting people who might grow because of what we can uniquely give.”

Lisa Lynne-Mathis

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BROADWAY BA 25 years ago, Jerry Mitchell wanted to raise money to help the fight against the onslaught of HIV/AIDS in the Broadway community. What began as a fundraiser at a bar has become the sexiest night of the year with the hottest dancing men and women taking it all off to raise as much money as they can to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. We were on the witness the celebration of 25 years of raising support unfold.

PHOTOS BY KEVIN THOMAS GARCIA

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BLEEP Magazine 506  

Our July/August Summer on Broadway issue featuring performers from Hamilton, On The Town, Finding Neverland, An American In Paris, The Broad...

BLEEP Magazine 506  

Our July/August Summer on Broadway issue featuring performers from Hamilton, On The Town, Finding Neverland, An American In Paris, The Broad...

Profile for bleepmag