The Truth Behind the CATS Protest

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You may have seen this flyer circulating Broadway Internet over the past few days. It went viral when New Yorker, Jose Simbulan posted it on his Facebook page after seeing it tweeted by Ryan J. Davis who credited it to where it originated: an Instagram post by Adam J. Thompson, who found the flyer in Brooklyn (I love the Internet). Whether you are a fan of Cats or not, this stunt is effing hilarious. It’s the kind of joke that makes you mad that you didn’t think of it first. Every detail is perfect. The wording. The font choices… The decision to post it on a random bulletin board in Brooklyn… THE E-MAIL ADDRESS.

I was such a fan of it all, I decided to send an email to pleaselordstopcats@gmail.com to congratulate its creator. I was shocked to find out that there was one small detail they forgot to cover: REGISTRATION OF SAID E-MAIL ADDRESS.

Not to be outdone by someone else snatching my wig, I did the only thing a self-proclaimed sole-satirizer-of-the-Broadway-industry could do….

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I STOLE IT.

That’s right. I registered and stole pleaselordstopcats@gmail.com because this is my turf, bitches, and I will Claire Underwood myself into any situation I please. It’s not my fault they didn’t think to take ownership of 100% of their idea. If you wanna make fun of Broadway, you best be covering all of your bases, because I am always watching.

OK, I don’t actually want to take credit for this great joke because I was not raised by The Fat Jew (and I’m still holding out for them to cast me in Cats). I did, however, want to see what kind of emails would be sent by people who thought that the flyer was real. Another reason I am thrilled to own pleaselordstopcats@gmail.com for the next two hours that it is still topical, is because I get to share some of those emails with you!

HERE GOES…

A lot of people showed support!

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Many people wanted to get involved because previous productions of Cats took a toll on their soul…

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 1.11.11 PMI don’t know about this one…

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 1.12.58 PMOne person came up with a fun battle cry to chant during the march!

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Some people felt that the protest was heavenly divine…

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And some did not!

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There was even one Cats enthusiast who didn’t have anything to say, so he just sent me this…

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All in all, I’d say it was a pretty fun 24 hours for Broadway Internet and it no doubt made us pretty stoked for our comp tickets to Cats this summer!


A previous publication of this article cited Jose Simbulan for posting the original flyer. It later came to knowledge that he found it on Adam J. Thompson’s Instagram via Ryan J. Davis’ Twitter.

 

I SWORE NBC ALREADY DID THIS: Annoying Actor Friend’s “Grease Live” Drinking Game

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I seriously forgot this shit was happening. Between NBC’s three live musical events and their 2007 smash hit, Grease: You’re the One That I Want!, I honestly thought it already had. In fact, I am not entirely certain that none of the white people in the photograph above aren’t Aaron Tveit. Alas, FOX’s Grease Live is indeed something we are all going to have to deal with this weekend, and we’re going to deal with it the only way we know how… with lots, and lots of alcohol.

After the well executed The Wiz Live and the shaming that came with hate-watching Peter Pan Live, we have all been itching to #MakeTwitterGreatAgain. NOW IS OUR TIME. Grease Live is an LA thing, so all bets are off! There’s no need to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings because it’s LA and nobody has them!

There are a lot of promising things about Grease Live, so let’s get the pleasantries out of the way first…

1.) DIVERSITY: The only thing whiter than Grease, are the people who love Grease. So props to Grease Live for the diverse casting.

2.) LIVE AUDIENCE: Oh, for the love of fuck, thank God somebody has listened to us and thrown in an audience. Without one, it feels like the cast is bombing.  I’ve gathered from actors who’ve performed in previous NBC musical events that after multiple runs without an audience, the live show feels normal. However, for those of us at home, it still looks like they are tanking, and thus, we feel sorry for them in spite of the FAT CHECK we know they are getting. I look forward to seeing how this works with an audience, and I’m even more excited for how NBC will find a way to ignore the success of it when they do Hairspray Live.

3.) COOL FILMING: Grease Live is not going to be confined to one studio, and will instead be shot in multiple locations that include exteriors. This means it might literally rain on prom night, and I for one, would like to see that happen to Julianne Hough.

4.) ANA. GASTEYER.

***

ALRIGHT! Now that we’ve covered the good stuff, it’s time to grab your favorite beverage, pour one out for feminism, and devote the next three hours of your life to a truly dated piece of theater that proves that deeply-rooted nostalgia will always make misogyny A-OKAY.

WARNING: I urge you to use caution. I have never constructed a set of drinking game rules more dangerous than this one. 

Ready? OK…

DRINK WHEN…

  • you remember that Grease is a terrible show.

Goodnight, everybody!

CLOSING TIME: The “Your Friend’s Show is Closing and You Can’t Deal with Them” Drinking Game

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Shows come and go. Some closing notices are tragic (an open ended run), some are expected (a limited engagement), and some really don’t mean shit (regional theatre). But to the people who are members of the casts that are going not-so-gently into that dark night, a show’s closing can make for a somewhat traumatic experience for you on the Internet. Often, your various social media platforms become plagued with obligatory closing-notice-sobbing, that you literally can’t even begin to even with. That is why in honor of all of the shows that close in January (and throughout the year), I have constructed the:

“Your Friend’s Show is Closing and You Can’t Deal with Them” Drinking Game!

This game is awesome because you can apply it to any time someone you know is in a show and that show is closing (just use caution if it’s a college show, because you. will. die.) All you have to do is crack open some Svedka and your smartphone, and revel in the self-congratulatory-sadness that is your friend’s closing weekend. Apply it to your own show if you’re really jaded!

LET’S BEGIN!

UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED, DRINK WHEN SOMEONE POSTS ANY OF THE FOLLOWING WORDS:

  • family
  • amazing
  • thankful
  • gratitude
  • life changing (drink twice)
  • experience (drink twice)
  • life changing and experience in the same sentence (switch to butt chugging)
  • honored
  • monumental
  • the best show I have ever done (take a shot because it wasn’t)
  • incredible
  • amazing again
  • something about being “the greatest cast/company” (take a few extra drinks for all of the people who have previously done a show with this person and have now been offended.)
  • heart is so full (kill yourself)
  • humbled (finish the bottle and unfollow)

If you don’t know anyone who is closing a show in the near future, try this game during the closing weekend of Spring Awakening!

The Unofficial 2016 BroadwayCon Bar Crawl Route

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This weekend marks the first ever BroadwayCon! I am so happy someone finally created an event like SantaCon, but for us. You see, there’s always one Saturday every December when I feel extremely left out because I don’t live in Murray Hill or work an entry level position at a hedgefund firm, and are therefore not allowed to participate in something quite like the frat-tastic bro-boozefest that is SantaCon…. UNTIL NOW. That’s right! The time has come to take back our right to vomit in the middle of the street and engage in public urination while dressed as a slutty Zaneeta Shinn without the fear of judgment! It’s time to get our BroadwayCon ON!

RULES:

1.) Use the provided map as your guide.

2.) Grab a group of your most obnoxious friends.

3.) Sex up your favorite Broadway character costume.

4.) Chose any of the BroadwayCon dates (Jan. 22nd, 23rd, or 24th), as well as a day or two after to recover.

5.) Make sure to have at least one drink at each establishment.

6.) MOST IMPORTANT: Do not get belligerent and hurt anyone. Remember… you are representing Broadway, and Broadway is anything but a mess.

LET’S BEGIN!

START: Glass House Tavern,  252 W 47th St.

Ideally, you’ll be starting early in the day, so Glass House won’t be slammed with post-show schmooze. After 11 p.m., Glass House turns into the Broadway Hunger Games, where every show sends two tributes to fight for oxygen and career longevity by having to network in a sardine can. If you feel you’re missing out on that by being there so early, don’t worry, there is always time to go back. Enjoy your inaugural BroadwayCon drink here and carry onto…

STOP #2: Bar Centrale, 324 W 46th St.

If you thought Glass House was expensive, hold onto your hat. Bar Centrale is even more buzzy (but like “famous people” buzzy) so the drinks cost more, but it’s OK because one time I stood in line for the bathroom behind Marilu Henner.

The exterior is subtle, and makes up for 50% of Table 46 on Smash. You probably won’t get in here without a reservation, so just go back to Glass House and have a second drink before heading to…

STOP #3: Joe Allen, 326 W 46th St.

Joe Allen completes the second 50% of Table 46 from Smash, and is known for hosting show posters of infamous Broadway flops on its walls. Enjoy a scotch and Instagram a few pics of you and your friends next to the posters of Nick and NoraSpider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, and Nerds. Now, it’s time to journey to…

STOP #4: Hourglass Tavern, 2, 373 W 46th St.

Hourglass Tavern is Glass House Tavern for the unemployed. They have a great happy hour, and you get the feel of being successful because Hourglass Tavern sounds vaguely like Glass House Tavern. The third floor is nice and secluded, and the bathrooms feel homy like an apartment because I think it might actually be someone’s apartment. Anyway, you’ll feel comfortable executing your first vomit of the day here if it’s already come to that. Hopefully not, because your mind is going to be blown when you make it to…

STOP #5: Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ, 321 W 44th St.

Gyu-Kaku is the Hourglass Tavern for the unemployed who has run out of unemployment insurance and still hasn’t booked a job. If you read #GRATEFUL: Everything Happens for a Reason, you know that Gyu-Kaku serves half price drinks in the bar area ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. Their martinis are so cheap that Eileen Rand would lose her fucking shit.

Feel free to stock up on a few drinks here without judgement. Gyu-Kaku is next to the Binder office*, not the Telsey building, so there’s no chance you’ll run into anyone important. Once you’re ready, it’s time to class it up at…

*It has been brought to my attention that Binder moved a year ago and nobody noticed.

STOP #6: Sardi’s, 234 W 44th St.

After the sudden closure of Angus (and up next, the Ziegfeld) you might as well stop into Sardi’s because you just never know these days. It’s possible you’ve timed this out so you can still get the cheap “Actors Lunch” by showing your Equity card–and if you’re non-Equity, I won’t say a word because I still want you to follow me.

After you’ve enjoyed enough time trying to figure out who the fuck those drawings are supposed to be, say a prayer because you’re about to enter Times Square…

STOP #7: The View Lounge at the Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway.

I know you’ll have to deal with tourists and people who are going to see On Your Feet, but I thought the view at the top might be pretty–or at the very least, there are three hundred outlets on the hotel’s various floors if you need to charge your phone. I’d give this place a quick one-and-done, before braving the rest of Times Square…

OPTIONAL DETOUR: Lillie’s Victorian Bar & Restaurant, 249 W 49th St.

If cutting straight through hell proves to be too much, you can take this optional detour. Lillie’s is kind of like the Uptown Glass House, but I’m not sure to be honest, because I haven’t been there since I discovered Glass House.

STOP #8: Rosie O’Grady’s, 800 7th Ave.

You made it through Times Square! Celebrate by making a quick stop at this moderate tourist trap that I only placed on this bar crawl because the Hello, Dolly! revival was announced this week and there’s this part in the show where Ernestina yells something about Rosie O’Grady. They also have a pretty good French Onion soup. Once you’re fulfilled, you can take pride in knowing that you made it to the…

FINISH! New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 6th Avenue.

Apparently a bunch of Broadway people are hitting up this place over the weekend during their own BroadwayCon celebration, and I think it would be a fun gag if after copious amounts of day drinking, you surrounded yourself with a shit-ton of industry professionals. You know, like a cool after party!

***

IN CONCLUSION… as you go forth unto your BroadwayCon, I ask that you play this shit to win. Go full out! Make this first BroadwayCon an event to remember. If I don’t see some dude dressed as Dickon holding back the hair of a Galinda as she vomits onto Sixth Avenue next to a pile of passed out Pippins, then what the fuck is the point? If you’re gonna do BroadwayCon, do BroadwayCon RIGHT.

 

@AndrewBriedis

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by Andrew Briedis

While I remember writing short plays as far back as childhood, it took some time for me to really find my way to becoming a writer. There weren’t any afterschool programs for hopeful nine-year-old playwrights in San Diego, and acting was my first love (an aspiration born out of an unnecessary envy of Joseph Mazzello in Jurassic Park, and child stars in general), so I started performing in youth theatre. When I was twenty-one, I got my Equity card on the national tour of The Boy Friend, directed by Julie Andrews. A mentor of mine said to me, “Julie Andrews gave you your Equity card, and that is something nobody will ever be able to take away from you.” There was caution in his voice, and I couldn’t quite figure it out. Was he warning me that my acting career might not take off after that? I booked the job with a year still left at the Hartt School. I was going to be fine! Skipping out on my senior year, I moved to New York City the day after the tour ended, and never signed another Equity contract again.

Call it a good case of bad luck? I can make up any number of excuses as to why I was an unsuccessful actor, but they’d be just that… Excuses. By the time I hit my mid-twenties, I was coming to terms with having fallen out of love with the business. It’s fair to say we had broken up years earlier. When it came to acting, I never really had the unique skills that drive actors to get up in the morning—and those qualities have always fascinated me. Maybe that’s why two years into flirting with the idea of becoming a writer I was compelled to create a parody Twitter account about the people I had been surrounded by for the greater part of my life. I’ve never been on Broadway. I no longer pursue acting. I’m a personal trainer at Equinox. Annoying Actor Friend could be viewed as an elaborate ruse, but I wouldn’t say that I “pulled one over” on the Broadway community. I just loved writing about them.

My name is Andrew Briedis, and I am Annoying Actor Friend. It’s understandable that it might be strange to discover that I am not an actor anymore (I do still pay my Equity dues so I can vote in elections), but I believe that for any of this to work, I needed to have a lack of emotional connection to the subject matter to be able to objectively analyze it. This experiment has, and will always, be about impartial social commentary on a very specific kind of culture.

Truthfully, Annoying Actor Friend was my third attempt at a parody Twitter account, but the only one that stuck. The first two were geared toward spoofing personal trainers and jaded New Yorkers. They bombed. How’s that for irony? There I was trying to make a clean break from “the business,” and ended up being drawn back in and finding myself falling in love with the industry all over again—but in a much different way.

I admit the entire thing began because I was really annoyed by some of my friends. Social media behavior is tricky, and I’ve sucked at it, too. I was one of the first one million Facebook users, and I guarantee most of my friends hid my profile during some pretty dark days between 2008 and 2011. I mean…I did a Kickstarter for a stolen laptop in 2009, before there were Kickstarters. Now, I guess the only people I piss off on social media must not dig my decidedly heightened obsession with Jurassic Park, or this thing I’m doing where I pretend I replaced the Olsen Twins in Fuller House.

Hate is consuming shit. For me to continue this charade as long as I did, it had to be out of love of the industry. It was a subject matter I was close to, and I think I was able to find some success satirizing it because I can relate to actors without the need to be one. I had found something that worked for me. It might not have been blue meth, but I honestly kept doing it because I liked it. Writing brought back a passion and fearlessness that a long time ago I used to have in the audition room.

When I did youth theatre, my mom would coach my auditions from her chair in our living room. I’d sing “We’re Off to See the Wizard” or “Seize the Day,” and she would encourage me to make bold, if sometimes unnecessary, choices.  One time, for a holiday show, I sang “The Restroom Door Said Gentleman” to the tune of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” There was a lyric that alluded to me being caught in the women’s restroom by mistake, and leaving with a high-heel up my behind. Naturally, I squeezed one of my mom’s mid-nineties patent leather pumps in between my legs and held it for the length of the number, until just the right moment, when I let it drop to the floor as if it were literally falling out of my ass. I was eleven.

My mom passed away when I was in high school, and a little bit of that fearlessness went with her. I pursued musical theatre in a conservatory setting, which led to me thinking way too hard. I started questioning every single note, beat, and step. I have the most painfully contrived back-story for Rolf Gruber known to man. That’s not the faculty’s fault; it’s what I signed up for, and it didn’t work for me. Do we really know what’s best for us when we’re eighteen? Somewhere in college I forgot how to hold my mom’s shoe between my legs and not give a shit. Seriously, there was never a more butt-tight, nervous interpretation of Claude in Hair than me eleven years ago.

I’ve spent my life surrounded by people who are more talented, intelligent, and successful than me. That’s not a bad thing. At first, it taught me how to learn from others and to take the work seriously, but not myself.  Sometime after I moved to New York, I lost that—and it wasn’t until I started writing that I got it back. The new direction reminded me of what it was like to try things, and not be afraid if nobody gets it. It was like being with my mom again. The fearlessness returned. It’s a pretty big cop-out to make this about my mom, but I have to think that my inability to deliver on a dream that led to me pursuing an education costing thousands of dollars comes from some place more than, “I just didn’t like it anymore.” I need to believe that I was supposed to find a different way. A way back to what I had learned from her.

When I first walked into my eighth grade English class, my teacher handed each student a unique key with a card attached that read: You possess the key to your success. I turned to her and eagerly asked, “Miss Mooney! What does this key open?” Without missing a beat, she smiled at me—in that friendly fashion only those rare teachers whom you never forget know how to master—and replied, “You could spend a good part of your life trying to figure that out.”

Of course at thirteen, I took her literally. I wondered how many locked safes, trunks, or doors I would have to try, to find out where my key belonged. Looking back, my naïveté may not have been far off; for me, I spent so long trying to unlock the wrong door with the wrong key, instead of finding out where my key went. I carry the actual key on my key chain to this day.

When it comes to finding success, I think I was just waiting for technology to catch up to my laziness. It’s like I needed immediate validation to kick-start the determination and discipline I had lost. Annoying Actor Friend helped me find it again. If people hadn’t followed me back the first night I created the account, or hadn’t retweeted me, or had neglected to suggest I write a blog and then come up with something to do after Smash ended, none of this would have happened. It makes me wonder if, had I gotten just one callback at the right time, maybe I’d still be pursuing an acting career. I’m so thankful I didn’t get that callback.

Looking back on it all, I’ve learned that the need to be liked doesn’t consume me anymore. Sure, I love attention, because I was an actor, I am a Millennial, and also, I’m a human being—but it doesn’t drive my activity. Our own personal progress shouldn’t be dictated by whether or not people like what we do. We should be doing it because we like it. I’ve had plenty of Annoying Actor Friend experiments completely bomb, and I’d revel in a hundred more failures if they led to just one #Dim4Joan. I am #grateful and #blessed, and all of the things I make fun of, that I didn’t succeed as an actor, because it led me to writing—and being able to accept things when they’re bad, because I know they can be good again.

You might be wondering, “Why reveal your identity now?” While it’s no mistake that this was all carefully planned months ago with such close proximity to the release date of my second book, (there’s actually a mostly honest 20,000 word semi-autobiography that defines my identity hidden in its ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ format) the real reason I felt it was time to end the anonymous aspect of Annoying Actor Friend is because I believe that has run its course. Everything I have ever done as this character has been founded upon calculated social media experimentation—and when the timing is right, those experiments take flight. I could feel a cultural shift within social media during the past year not unlike the one that drove me to create the account in the first place, and it led me to believe that for me, this is the right time. Annoying Actor Friend takes a surprising amount of focus to run, and I’d like to redirect my attention to elevating other things I have written (and the many more things I want to write) but I look forward to finding a way to reinvent it. While some people might be upset because they strongly think that the reason my activism works is due to the power in my anonymity, to that I say, “If this community needs an ‘anonymous crusader’ to ignite and drive conversation, then there is a much bigger problem.”

Ultimately, it was always imperative to me that everyone eventually knew who I am (and more importantly who I am not) so I can show that you don’t need to be what people expect (or want) you to be, to get something done for yourself. There has never been a more accessible time in history to make your own thing than right now, and you can do it without anyone telling you, “no.” Most importantly: You don’t need to live your childhood dream, if you’re led to another one.

I realize that this is all pretty heavy stuff for a guy who had an Anne Hathaway profile picture for almost a year, has photo-shopped a velociraptor onto a picture of Sutton Foster in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and flirts openly with the Smash Twitter account, but for every unserious quality about this silly parody Internet personality, there was just a tiny bit of seriousness behind it. I loved it. I’ll miss it as it was. It changed who I am. Above all, it taught me that you can have an epic passion for something and then one day you might wake up and it’s gone—and that’s OK. Because if you really love it…if it is absolutely a world you’re supposed to be involved with in some way, it will drag you—violently if necessary—back into its arms.

RIP: Workshops. WTF is a Lab?

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In #GRATEFUL: Everything Happens for a Reason, the reader navigates show business from their perspective and their trajectory is decided upon at the start by which class they think they are part of in “Broadway High School,” with freshmen being the most idealistic and seniors the most jaded. In “Broadway Freshman,” you have an opportunity to celebrate booking a new workshop by going to Glass House, where you stumble upon the most cynical of Broadway Seniors, who sets you straight regarding the differences between a Lab contract, and a Workshop contract…


 

In the mood for some risotto balls and attention, you head to Glass House Tavern, because that’s where it’s at. It’s not so much that Glass House Tavern is new, it’s that it’s now. It’s a place to go with friends where you can also network, and, unlike Bar Centrale, it’s much more accessible (i.e. cheaper).

Post-show hour at Glass House is a Broadway fuck-fest potpourri. Someone from everything is there. It’s like God told Stephen Sondheim to construct an arc in the middle of the theatre district where two actors from every Broadway show would flock nightly to evade the flood of Times Square tourists and mass audience exodus. It truly is a location built for the heavenly divine.

While you’ve decided to venture to Glass House alone, you’re confident it won’t be long before you run into someone you know vaguely enough to engage in a conversation where you can casually drop your recent crowning achievement of booking a new Broadway workshop. Your real friends don’t want to know about things like that. Accomplishments are for acquaintances.

After a few minutes of networking and social netwerking (i.e. talking to one of the Platt brothers and then taking a picture with them and posting it on Instagram), you slide up to the bar and order a vodka soda.

While you wait for your drink, you see that the majority of the crowd has cleared out to go to either Broadway Bowling or Anthony Rapp’s poker game, so you strike up a conversation with the person next to you, who is nursing what looks like a whiskey sour. After a few minutes chatting with this person (who is clearly in the business, because they’re at Glass House), you realize by their disposition that they must be a Broadway Senior.

You’ve encountered these rare creatures at auditions, but never in the wild. Broadway Seniors seldom find themselves alone in open venues where they can be exposed to a highly concentrated amount of schmooze. While this Broadway Senior is certainly a downer, you’re fascinated as to why they are here—and since there’s not an average-prospective-theatre-major’s-chance of getting into CMU that they’ll be asking you what you’re working on, you decide to flip the script and ask them.

To your surprise (and delight), you discover they recently booked the exact same job as you!

“I’m doing that workshop, too!” you scream with the glee of the general public during season one of Glee.

“That’s great,” they sigh, with the glee of the general public during seasons three through six of Glee, “but it’s not a workshop; it’s a Lab.”

“Yeah, same thing.”

“No. They aren’t,” they snap with cold eyes. “You know A Chorus Line?”

“Yeah,” you nod, “I saw the revival with Mario Lopez.”

“OK, we’ll get back to that, because I have stories… but, A Chorus Line is where all this shit started.”

Your new friend proceeds to finish their whiskey sour and order a double Johnnie Walker Blue, neat. They must be on one of those government job production contracts.

“In the ‘70s,” they continue, “Michael Bennett rounded up a bunch of his dancer friends after a class and they all sat around talking about the business and their experiences within it. He recorded their stories and then persuaded Joseph Papp to fund a ‘workshop’ at The Public where he could develop a musical about Broadway dancers based off of those recorded tapes. This wasn’t going to be a normal musical-making procedure; A Chorus Line would need a rather unique rehearsal process, with a group of dancers collaborating closely with Bennett to create it. Papp agreed to produce the workshop, and the rest is history.”

You roll your eyes. “Anyone who’s ever owned a starter pair of Capezios knows this.”

“Yeah,” they nod, “and if you’ve ever had your foot traced by Phil LaDuca, you know that because of their contribution, Bennett worked out an agreement with Equity for any of the performers involved—with either the taped recordings or the original workshop—to receive one-half of the one-percent of the weekly box office gross receipts designated for the author. Why? Because not only were the dancers co-creating the show, they were also getting paid a fairly shitty weekly wage in exchange for their heavy collaboration.”

For the most part, this is a lot of information you already know, so you’re thinking, “Ugh, I got stuck with a drunk talker.” I’m sorry.

“This is really fascinating and all,” you smile falsely, “but I just saw my friend walk in. She’s really mad I haven’t retweeted her in a while, so I should probably go do damage control—

Your subtle excuse goes ignored.

“So then sometime around Ballroom—I think maybe 1977? I don’t know, text Jen Tepper—Bennett refined the agreement with Equity so that actors who take part in an original workshop of a production share a separate percent—or ‘point’—of the box office instead of the writer’s, and that more-or-less became the standard contract used until recently.”

“OK, cool,” you nod, “So, like, why are you yelling at me?”

“Because nobody produces under the Workshop Contract anymore!”

“Then what are we doing?”

“I told you, it’s a Lab,” they explain, “Nobody has used a real Workshop Contact since The Book of Mormon. After that, it mysteriously became a Lab, and yet you kids walk around town calling it a workshop instead of calling it what it actually is: a LAB—or, as I call it, ‘Lazy Ass Broadway’ because I swear it only exists because someone wasn’t paying attention.”

“A ‘Workshop,’” they say, using air quotes, “Is now a word that has become branded in the lexicon like Kleenex; a tissue isn’t always a Kleenex—sometimes a tissue is made by Puffs!”

Now you’re confused. “Then, what’s a Lab?”

“It’s the exact same thing as a workshop, but without the good shit.”

“Isn’t the good shit just the joy and personal validation of being allowed in the room with the creative team to help craft a new work?” you ask.

No. The good shit is the dollars,” they say sternly, “not the immediate salary –which is somewhere between $630 and $750 a week—but the dollars that you earn if the show becomes a bigger deal.

“When a new work is presented under a standard Workshop Contract, the company involved splits around one-percent of the weekly gross box office receipts should the show transfer to a commercial run—no matter if you’re in it or not. You also get first right of refusal. That means that if the show moves to Broadway, and the creative team is like, ‘Oh, sorry, we forgot that you’re short,’ and decides to replace you with what I call a ‘Tall Boring,’ then they have to pay you no less than four weeks of production contract to compensate you for them wasting your time and killing your dreams.”

Your eyes widen. “Whoa.”

“Not bad, huh?” they smirk. “Guaranteed royalties and protection, in exchange for your contribution and time spent devoted to the original development? That’s literally why the workshop contract was created—to give actors special benefits in lieu of full salaries during an extended creative process.”

“But, wait,” you urge, “Aren’t we getting a thousand dollars a week for this Lab? That’s more than you said we’d get paid under a Workshop Contract, so that’s better, right?”

“You’re part of the problem!” exclaims the fired up actor, throwing their arms up in the air. “Sure, a Lab is more money on the front end, but if it were a workshop that became a hit, we’d get to split a percent for every single commercial production.”

You sort of see their point, but “One percent isn’t a lot when split between twenty or thirty people.”

Frustrated by your constant combating, the self-proclaimed Leader of the Anti-Lab Movement orders another scotch and proceeds to break down the math for you.

“Say there end up being four productions—Broadway, First National, West End, Second National—and each one grosses half a million dollars a week… If you split that between thirty cast members, your share comes to over twenty-five hundred dollars a month.”

“You know a lot about this,” you admit, surprised by how easily this person is able to do math while completely blasted.

“It haunts me every day,” they say, polishing off their second scotch and ordering a third. Woof. You’d be on the floor by now.

“I guess it makes sense that producers wouldn’t want to lose that money over time,” you say, “No wonder the Workshop Contract is gone.”

“It’s not!” they scream, slapping the bar, “Just like the Full Production Touring Contract, the Workshop Contract still exists, but people don’t use it anymore because there are other options and I’m trying to find out what the eff happened.

It’s at this point that you start to side with your new cast mate. Sure, they are bordering on belligerent, and the addition of the third scotch they just ordered is only going to get them more fired up, but—

“We saw how the tiered touring thing happened!” they continue on with no regard for cutting me off just now, “we watched those contracts devolve over time! In many ways we were able to understand the choices made by Equity because there was a greater fear we’d lose the jobs on the road to non-union actors if the salaries weren’t cut. But like…Where the fuck did this Lab thing come from? AND WHY? Why did someone say ‘yes’ to this? Did a major producer walk into Equity one day and say, ‘So, these Workshop Contracts…I want to do them and all? But like…without all the actors’ rights,’ and then did someone random just say, “YES! We can call them…Labs!” while looking at a picture of their Black Labrador on their desk!?

“What would have been the alternative if someone said ‘NO?!’ It’s not like a producer is going to think they’ll land investors from mounting a presentation of Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead: the musical without a boatload of Broadway talent to back it up. They have the option to go non-union with tours that are launched after Broadway, but it wasn’t like they were going to do the same thing with shows pre-Broadway. This wasn’t one of those situations where producers had another alternative, and yet we gave them one.”

“Huh.” You’re stumped.

“Literally: WHAT. THE. FUCK. HAPPENED.”

“But, I mean, I get it… We don’t write the shows,” you offer, trying to think of a reason this happened, because everything happens for a reason. “We don’t direct them, or choreograph them or—

“HAVE YOU EVER DONE PRE-PRODUCTION?”

“No.”

“More like Free-Production,” they scoff. “Look, I love my choreographers as much as anyone, and I want to continue to work for them, but, I’ve done a lot of unpaid work in an effort to help facilitate a vision that will be used in the actual rehearsal process—often one I’m not even going to be a part of. I’m not asking for much! People would be surprised what a gift card to Outback Steakhouse can get them!”

I’m going to have to butt in here and just say that if there is pre-production pay, it usually comes from out of the choreographer’s pocket; this is an entirely different problem, so I wouldn’t bother getting the Senior started on it because they can clearly lay into a subject when provoked.

“And don’t get me started on this bastard hybrid of a Workshop and a 29-Hour Reading known as an ‘Experimental Staged Something-or-Whatever’ where in ten days you essentially block the entire show and learn fully choreographed numbers, but are required to hold your binders like it’s effing Encores. I did one of those this year, and because we were all so damned stressed trying to get the thing together in that amount of time—and weren’t protected by any kind of first right of refusal—we memorized the entire show in an attempt to impress the creative team so they would actually use us again. The presence of binders doesn’t mean we aren’t contributing to the final product.

“The moment you start to put a show on its feet, it changes. There’s no way to deny the fact that when you move a piece of theatre off the page and hand it to a group of actors, their mark will be made on it in some way. It doesn’t have to be as drastic of an impression as A Chorus Line; sometimes it’s a funny bit a performer made up, or some staging that gets suggested, or a line that is rewritten because the actor found a way to make the structure of it flow better, or a special trick a specific dancer can do that the choreographer finds a way to showcase. Shit like that works its way into the original staging and, eventually, scripts licensed from MTI. However small they may seem, contributions from the actors in original workshops have helped people win Tony awards.

“Look, workshops, and labs—or whatever—die every day. I know the odds that our little show will even get to Broadway, let alone become Hamilton, are about as likely as anything beating Hamilton—but there’s a chance. I’d forfeit the extra couple hundred dollars a week that the Lab provides, in exchange for what I could be rewarded, should what I’m contributing to become a hit. None of us walk into a project assuming it’ll fail, and yet the only people who’ve seemed to grasp this fact are the producers—now that they’ve found a way to save money, should the project succeed. Props to them for doing their job! Seems like the only people not marking on Broadway these days are the producers.

“We’ve been fighting for years to get a percent of grosses split amongst an original Broadway cast, but how do we expect to do that now when we’ve lost it in the workshop? This is all just a further example of how actors are constantly looked at as expendable—just grateful to be there. The workshop contract was forged from a group of artists coming together to create a show out of love for what they do, and they were rewarded for it. The final ballad from the musical that started it all is literally called, ‘What I Did For Love’—the sheer irony that Hamilton performed a tribute to A Chorus Line on its 40th Anniversary at The Public and none of those actors’ contributions were protected under a true Workshop Contract is even more fucked up than when I didn’t book Hamilton.”

All of this interests you, but you can’t let them go on without saying, “I see what you mean, but I feel like there’s too much ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ when it comes to Equity. It’s our union. If we want something in the future, we have to be active now. What good is venting over drinks instead of attending membership meetings or voting in any union elections? We don’t have anyone to blame but ourselves.”

And with that, the Broadway Senior slams back the rest of their third double Johnnie Walker Blue label and gazes at you hazily—their head barely able to sit upon its shoulders. You don’t know what to say, except—

“So unless we’re going to do something, we should be grateful. We get paid to sing, and dance, and live our dreams. Who cares about all the ugly crap? You must always be grateful.”

Fearing they didn’t hear you through their boozy-delusional-fog, you further press them with this important question:

“Why can’t you just be grateful with what you have? I’m always grateful.”


 

#GRATEFUL: Everything Happens for a Reasonthe epic sequel to the 2013 best selling book, #SOBLESSED: the Annoying Actor Friend’s Guide to Werking in Show Business, was released November 30th and is available on Amazon Kindle and Paperback!

NO BAD BOOZE: Annoying Actor Friend’s “The Wiz Live” Drinking Game

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For the past three years, the first Thursday evening in December has been home to a holiday tradition as important as mistletoe, eggnog and bourbon, and watching Mariah Carey attempt whistle tones during “All I Want for Christmas is You” at the Rockefeller Tree Lighting Ceremony. As a culture, we have come to look forward to kicking off the holiday season with a nationally-televised-miscast-train-wreck-of-a-theatrical-event presented by NBC. However, it appears that the network that brought us hot-mess-season-one Ivy Lynn and then had the nerve to replace her with level-headed-season-two Ivy Lynn, has decided to repeat history by casting an actress in the starring role who can actually play it.

Yo, NBC. This is not how this goes. You have to stick with what works! Where do you get off making The Wiz Live good?! THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS TRADITION IS ABOUT. Providing us with a capable lead to carry the entire performance would be like if Macy’s canceled the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Pair this with the fact that Mariah effortlessly lip-synched on the parade last week instead of valiantly soldiering through the live tree lighting ceremony next week, it’s fair to assume that NBC is out to single handedly ruin my holidays. Like… they couldn’t even have given us a Wiz! You’re the One that I Want: The Search for the Next Elle Woods?!

Whatever. I may be seriously bummed that The Wiz Live is going to be good, but I’m writing this drinking game anyway, because it is a holiday tradition that I refuse to turn my back on, UNLIKE YOU, NBC.

SO, EVERYONE! Grab your favorite beverage, and pour one out for all the homoeroticism that will be missing this year; it’s time to ease on down the road that will undoubtedly lead to hugging porcelain Friday morning!

PRE-GAME: take a shot in honor of every actor friend you know who is live tweeting or Facebooking this event on a Thursday night at 8pm, because it probably means they’re unemployed.

NOTE: I trust you’ll be surrounded by friends either in person, on social media, or both, so some of these rules pertain to you and those around you, as well as what you’ll be viewing on screen. 

DRINK WHEN…

  • someone says, “Home.”
  • you’re like, “where the fuck is Laura Benanti?”
  • and then you’re like, “oh yeah, right.”
  • sing Shanice.
  • a set piece breaks or malfunctions.
  • someone tweets about knowing Uzo.
  • you know Uzo.
  • Hamilton manages to make The Wiz Live about them.
  • Neil Meron and Craig Zadan interrupt the telecast to announce that The Wiz Live will be transferring to Broadway.
  • why. is. this. so. good.
  • there are sound problems.
  • someone is really confused by the influences from the original L. Frank Baum novel.
  • you’re the one who’s confused.
  • Neil Meron and Craig Zadan interrupt the telecast to announce that Bombshell will be transferring to Broadway.
  • SING Shanice.
  • the camera cuts to an actor who is not really paying attention.
  • QUEEN LATIFAH.
  • they still haven’t figured out how to fix the awkward silence that follows a musical number.
  • Mary J. Blige takes an acting beat.
  • Neil Meron and Craig Zadan interrupt the telecast to announce something they produced five years ago.
  • one of your friends says, “I almost booked this.” (if you almost booked this, keep drinking until the next commercial break because do you know how much those Lost Men made last year?)
  • NBC stamps an awkward hashtag at the bottom of the screen. #SingShanice
  • someone in the cast is phoning it in like they are doing an open ended run.
  • riffing.
  • screlting
  • screlffting.
  • you change your major to Ne-Yo.
  • Toto walks away with the show like Audra or Kelli O’Hara.
  • Shanice Williams walks away with the show like Benanti.

Since The Wiz is arguably the most honest adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s original work, I’d like to point out that the first sequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written in 1904 and features a transgender character in the leading role, so I’m going to suggest that next year NBC bring us The Wiz 2 by Harvey Fierstein with score by Ne-Yo, Elijah Kelley, Harvey Mason, Jr., and Stephen Oremus, starring Laverne Cox. Or…I guess they could just do The Music Man. But it better be with Audra.


#GRATEFUL: Everything Happens for a Reasonthe epic sequel to the 2013 best selling book, #SOBLESSED: the Annoying Actor Friend’s Guide to Werking in Show Business, was released November 30th and is available on Amazon Kindle and Paperback!

I DON’T KNOW HAMILTON: 9 Things I Know About Hamilton Based Off of Twitter

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I have not seen Hamilton. I have not listened to Hamilton. I have not read one article, nor watched any interviews, press footage, or GIFs. Anything I know about the show, I’ve learned from scrolling through Twitter.

It’s not that I am not interested in Hamilton, it’s just that I know it’s going to take me six years to see it, and I don’t want to know anything going in.

THIS IS WHAT I DO KNOW…

1.) The Show is About Alexander Hamilton: This is self-explanatory, but not to me a year ago…

OK, that was sarcasm, but the subject matter is pretty much the extent of what I know to this day.

2.) There Are Three Sisters: The sisters’ last name is “Schuyler,” but I am not sure if it’s pronounced SHOE-LER (as in Shuler Hensley) or SKYLER (as in Zachary Quinto’s character from Heroes.)

3.) One Sister is Ugly: I think? Her name is Peggy — and I guess she’s undesirable, or plain, or just not who you want to get on that BuzzFeed quiz. Twitter basically says she sucks.

4.) There is a Room, and Something Happens There: Originally, I thought the “room where it happened” was just a really douchey way of bragging about being inside the Richard Rodgers Theatre on opening night, but I guess it’s a line in the show? Maybe even an entire scene takes place there? Whatever the case, there’s a room, and something happens there, that’s for certain.

5.) King George (the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd): By the time of the Tony Awards, no less than three actors will have played the part of King George, so I’m guessing it’s a taxing role?

6.) Satisfied: I have gathered that this is a power ballad.

7.) My Shot: I called this song,”one shot” for weeks, until my friend corrected me.

8.) Aaron Burr: He is in this musical and is played by Leslie Odom Jr., who was on Smash, and is also the only Hamilton cast member who I have noticed ‘favorite’ any of my Hamilton tweets — so based off that fact alone, Aaron Burr is the best character in Hamilton.

9.) Tickets Are Hot: Since papering for this show never happened, I dropped the ball when it came to buying tickets, and it’s going to be 2017 before I get one. It took me over a year to see The Book of Mormon, two years for Matilda, and a decade to get to Wicked. I like a show to settle… It’s why I’ve never seen any production of Cats.


 

THANK YOU FOR READING AND NO SPOILERS PLEASE.

Why #Dim4Kyle is Important

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The following text was written earlier today under the assumption The Broadway League would announce that they would dim the lights for Kyle Jean-Baptiste on Tuesday, September 1st. They instead chose not to make a statement at all.


 

People will argue against dimming the lights of Broadway for Kyle Jean-Baptiste. “He was only twenty-one.” “It’s an honor saved for those with long, illustrious careers.” “Are we going to dim the lights for everyone now?” To those who are opposed, I have to tell you: It’s bigger than all that.

The tragic loss of Kyle Jean-Baptiste has been felt far beyond the Broadway community — it has affected the hearts of young aspiring theatre people and theatre lovers around the world. His story struck a chord that moved thousands to cry out for this tribute. Bestowing him with this honor is a message to the future generation of theatrical performers and innovators that their voices can be heard. That they can evoke change. That not only was Kyle’s contribution to the community acknowledged, it reconstructed what is expected of Broadway beyond his historical debut in Les Miserables. The League’s decision to dim highlights what can be achieved when chances are taken on risky, unknown, or unconventional choices. It starts a larger dialogue.

I hope this single act can be replicated annually. I would like the Broadway League to take September 1st, Kyle Jean-Baptiste’s anniversary, and dim the lights in honor of every person lost within the community that year, no matter the extent of the career. A minute for the Joshua Parks and Victoria Mallorys, the stagehands and the press agents, the chorus members, production assistants, writers, associate choreographers, keyboard players, casting directors, producers, and anyone who has contributed to this art form that entertains, inspires, and most importantly: evolves.

At some point in the life of a person who has worked in the theatre, they have changed the life of someone else for the better. Not only did Kyle Jean-Baptiste make history, but he is a symbol for how great the future of Broadway can be.

Introducing Chelsea Nachman as Laura Benanti at 54 Below

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Twitter sensation, Chelsea Nachman, has captured the hearts of anyone with a social media pulse, and we are ecstatic to announce that she will be making her New York stage debut as Laura Benanti in #SOBLESSED: Live! at 54 Below on July 27th, 2015 at 9:30 p.m., benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS!

We caught up with Ms. Nachman this week to ask her a few questions about what is bound to be the most important theatrical event of 2015, Hamilton.

How did you prepare for your audition for the role of Laura Benanti?

I literally did nothing to prepare.

Was Laura in the room during your audition or callback?

She’s Daisy, I’m Violet. We’re never apart.

Did you read with Patti LuPone or just a reader?
I took out my phone to ask Siri to just call me Laura Benanti, and Patti walked out.

How did you feel when you heard you booked the role of Laura Benanti?

Excited. Well, excited and scared.

Ms. Benanti made her Broadway debut as third nun from the left in The Sound of Music. How does it feel to be making your New York stage debut in a much bigger part?

In lieu of flowers, please send bottles of rosé to my private dressing room wait what do you mean

How does Laura feel about all of this?

SHE’S THRILLED but please do not ask her this directly just take my word for it thank you.

Are you familiar with Laura’s cannon of work?

Linney? Of course. What is this, amateur hour? #themothmanprophecies

Are you a fan?

She’s the best there is. (We’re still talking about Linney, right? JKKKKKKK LOVE YOU, BOO)

Are you nervous to portray such a prolific performer as Laura Benanti?

LOL (like used ironically, please never say ‘lol’ to me in any genuine capacity)

How do you plan to make the role of Laura Benanti your own, yet stay true to the character?

You’ll have no idea which one of us is actually up there.

Would you consider this your Meryl Streep moment?

More like my Jessica Chastain moment hey @jes_chastain do u want 2 come to this concert r u avail

Who will you be wearing?

No spoilers.


Hosted by Lesli Margherita (Matilda), #SOBLESSED Live! will feature performances by Christine Dwyer (Wicked), Chris McCarrell (Les Miserables), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown), Kate Shindle (Legally Blonde, AEA PRESIDENT!), Alex Wyse (Deaf West’s Spring Awakening), Chelsea Nachman (Twitter), and TWO MORE AWESOME PEOPLE WHO WILL BE ANNOUNCED LATER. The evening will be music directed by Drew Wutke.

TICKETS