This is my fourth— the first was The Piper, in 2007, by Grammy-winner and wonderful soul Marcus Hummon, in which I played a polio-stricken adolescent girl in 1890s Boston, the second was the superfun Popart, by Daryl Fazio and Aaron McAllister, I played an outcast visual art student moving to NYC, and last year was The Kid Who Would Be Pope, by the lovely Jack and Tom Megan, I played a singing, cartwheeling novice nun with whom the protagonist fell in love. I also did a reading of the fantastic Dan Martin, Michael Biello, and Ted Sod’s The Cousins Grimm for NYMF’s reading series. Wow. That’s alot when I write it out like that! I’ve killed people by playing an instrument, dumpster-dived, met the Pope, eaten paint, transformed into a speaking duck, fallen in love with my mother’s boyfriend, referenced Willem de Kooning, sung to a pigeon, and twice played someone’s hallucination of Julie Andrews, all in the NYMF ;o)
2. How did you become involved with Flambe Dreams?
I was working with the wonderful Kristin Maloney when she recommended me to Matthew, who needed a very last-minute replacement for a reading of Flambe, then called The Thing About Joe. In 48 hours, I learned the score, rehearsed once with Randy, Matt, West, and Shelley, managed to acquire bronchitis, and performed the show! I had a wonderful time, fell in love with kooky Gloria, and was thrilled to meet everyone involved. Since then I performed in the production at the Iguana last year, sang “New Jersey” at a few benefits and concerts, sang through some other tunes from the show in their nascent stages with Randy and Matt, and clowned around in a variety of other projects with West and Shelley. Flambe’s been the gift that keeps giving!
3. Tell us about your favorite line from your signature ballad, “Everything You Long For (is in New Jersey).”
My favorite line is “Can you hear her call you? ‘Here am I, your special state!’” modeled after the line from Bali Ha’i in my fav musical South Pacific, which is just utterly ludicrous and therefore right up my alley.
4. Have you ever aspired to be a Pharmacist?
I haven’t aspired to the pharmacy specifically but did dabble in some med courses in college which is perhaps inherently similiar?? I definitely have a thing for articles about medical anomalies, prescription research, and scrubs/ lab coats. And I spend alotta time at the pharmacy? Big fan of post-holiday reduced-price candy.
5. Do you have a favorite flaming desert?
I…*gulp!*… have never actually eaten a flaming dessert!? Does a creme brulee count? Probably not as it doesn’t ignite sur la table but I do love those. Perhaps I’ll get on that for…uh…creative research. I mean I wouldn’t NORMALLY look for a great excuse to order a plateful of fired-up sticky crusted gooey goodness, but I would NEVER want to compromise the validity of my creative relationship to torched sweets. I mean it’s all about the craft with me. I’m a very, very serious artist.
Jillian Louis plays Gloria, your caring, neighborhood Duane Reade Pharmacist. Check out Jillian singing “Everything You Long For (is in New Jersey)” from Flambé Dreams.
Welcome to our first installment of “Meet the Flambé Dreams Team.” We’ll be introducing you, one by one, to our talented, star-studded, hard-working cast and creative team.
First up - Director WEST HYLER!
How did you get started with Flambé Dreams? How many productions have you directed? How will this one be different, and what are the challenges?
I first worked on “Flambé Dreams” (née “The Thing About Joe”) when I co-directed a reading of it with my wife Shelley Butler for Ground Up Productions, a NYC based theater company. The reading went incredibly well and the audience was rolling on the floor by the end of it. True laugh-inducing musicals are hard to come by and I immediately grew very affectionate towards the show, and of course towards Matt and Randy.
A year later, I directed a workshop presentation of the show in the upstairs space at the Iguana restaurant on 52nd street. Placing the show in a cabaret setting, with audience drinking and dining within the action of the show, was illuminating, and really taught us what little we need to bring the show to life. We had fantastic audience response and played to a sold-out crowd each performance. The York Theatre Company then invited us to present in their Developmental Reading Series. Again, guts were busted and LOLs were texted like mad.
Those experiences proved that the show works as well on a stage as it does in a cabaret room, and during each presentation Matt and Randy have polished, tightened and improved the script and we’ve learned more about character and rhythm and story and all incredibly grateful to all the audiences whose laughter taught us what to rewrite and what to set in stone.
Going into NYMF I feel confident that the show is in a fantastic shape. The greatest challenge will be simply to not screw it up! It’s really funny. I mean really, really funny. I can say this, because I didn’t write it- I just fell in love with it.
What’s your favorite scene/song from the show, that you’re most looking forward to staging?
My favorite song is “New Jersey,” and nobody does it better than Jillian Louis (who’s worked on every reading and workshop I’ve done), and I love every time I get to hear her sing it. But what I’m most looking forward to staging is “Perfection,” the big Act One Finale. It’s a hysterical production number in which Joe is shaved, pomaded and dressed in a tux all during a high note that the amazing Kevin B. McGlynn sustains for a supernaturally long time. That’s exciting to figure out.
As Associate Director of Jersey Boys, you’ve mounted productions all over the world - which has been your favorite city/country, and why?
Well, you aren’t going to trick me into saying that any city is better than New York City, the capital of the world. Everywhere I go, people talk about and dream about New York City, and we get to live here! But all the places I’ve been fortunate enough to travel with the show have been amazing. Sydney is one of the most beautiful, picturesque cities in the world. Every day is like living in a cinematographer’s vision. Melbourne is a great urban center, with back alleys full of wine bars and cafés and people huddled beneath canopies discussing culture and arts, like San Fran in its heyday. London is of course a metropolis steeped in history, and holding an architectural icon on every corner - not to mention the best place for men’s fashion that exists. About Toronto, I’ve heard it said, it’s like New York, but clean! It has everything one needs, and is very nearly spot.less. And New Zealand…ah New Zealand…well, it’s just indescribably gorgeous.
Does your two-year-old son Dashiell have aspirations to work in theatre like his Mother and Father? We’re hoping Math and Science for the D-man. :)
On Thursday, May 31st, West is throwing a LAUNCH PARTY for the writers at the Helen Mills Space on 26th street! Featuring a sneak peek at the NYMF production, and celebrating the end of our Kickstarter campaign. Please join us! Free food, drink and mingling with the cast and creative team. Click here for more info.