Thursday, November 7, 2019

Spotlight On...Roberto Araujo

Name: Roberto Araujo

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico

Education: Theatre Major in Mexico City

Select Credits: West Side Story at North Shore Music Theatre, In the Heights at GALA Theatre, Evita at ZACH Theatre, Fame International Tour.

Why theater?: When I was about 14 years old, I saw a production of Crazy for You in Mexico City and that was the main inspiration for me to pursue a career in theatre. I have been very fortunate to have been able to make a name for myself not only as an actor but also as a photographer and now video content producer at Playbill. So theatre has been a part of my life in many different forms.

Tell us about Do You Dream In Spanish?: Since I first moved to NYC about 19 years ago, people have always asked me “Do you dream in Spanish?” And I always thought: “What a great title for a show!”. As time went by, I also realized that depending on who and how the question was asked, it would take a very different meaning. We all have dreams and aspirations. Does it matter what language they are in? I first performed Do You Dream In Spanish? as part of the Fresh Fruit Festival where I was awarded Outstanding Performance.  The second iteration of the show came earlier this year at The Green Room 42 and now back by popular demand. Since it is an autobiographical show, things keep evolving and changing. So you might see the same story line, but there will be new stories and more unapologetic honesty than in the previous versions. And little known fact, I will be doing this to celebrate my birthday!

What is it like being a part of Do You Dream In Spanish?: I am very grateful to have the platform to tell a story. It’s a privilege that audiences have embraced the show and that a venue like The Green Room 42 invited me back shortly after my debut in March. My favorite part of being able to tell the story is when audiences realize that we are all connected by the human experience. We all go through heartbreak, disappointments and even health scares. We might look and sound different, but there are more similarities than you’d expect.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Honest theatre. In recent memory of shows I have experienced, I can say that Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop, made me want to make this show absolutely unapologetic. It was very inspiring to experience that show. I am inspired by artist who are in touch with their craft and are able to connect with audiences in a deeper level.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Tough question! I have so many different categories. If I had to pick one, I would have to say, David Yazbek has written some amazing songs like “Island” from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I would love to work with Steven Lutvak, who wrote A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder. I sing a few of his songs in my show and I really connect with them. I would love to work with David Yazbek. His music and lyrics are so wonderful. And I would love to share the stage with Heather Headley. I saw her in Aida when I first moved to NYC and I think she is a brilliant performer. Oh! One more… Sherie Rene Scott. I’ve had the chance to produce a video with her, but would love to sing with her.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would love to play myself, but if I wasn’t able to, I would say Antonio Banderas. And the movie would be directed by Alfonso CuarĂ³n and it would be called ROBERTO. All capital letters.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I would love to see Chita Rivera in West Side Story and Kiss of the Spider Woman. And also Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Sherie Rene Scott.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Currently playing? Oklahoma! What a brilliant piece of theatre.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: “Dancing with the Stars”! I love that the stakes are so low. They are not competing to marry a stranger, or eating bugs or winning money. They win, bragging rights and a mirror ball. Plus, the pros who dance are incredible. And the production value of the show is out of this world! Would love to direct cameras for it!

What’s up next?: A bunch of thing! November 15 is my show Do You Dream In Spanish? at The Green Room 42 and November 22 and 23 I will be starring in Adam & Brian a new play by Craig Donnelly at The Playroom Theatre. November is a busy month.

For more on Do You Dream In Spanish?, visit:

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Spotlight On...Dani Franco

Name: Dani Franco

Hometown: Raised in Colombia Born in Venezuela

Education: Theater major degree In Casa del Teatro Nacional in Bogota/Colombia and acting for film and TV in New York conservatory for dramatic arts, the professional program

Select Credits: Tiny’s House (off broadway-Temple theater, directed by SC Murray) Film ‘Mama eres feliz Selected in the Cityvision film Festival directed by Elias Acevedo. TV series, Rough and Ready. Twelfth Night by Frog and Peach directed By Lynnea Benson.

Why theater?: Because you are risking all the time and that keeps you in the now, the moment you stop risking the performance became plain. Also your naked in front of an audience, they can see if your being honest with them or not, you have to open your heart so much so you can give every single person in the audience a piece of your truth, of your emotions. That takes a lot of energy. In theater you are at the edge all the time and that’s really exciting, also repetition is something that keeps me fresh and playful everytime I get in the scene. In theater the truth is becomes tangible.

Who do you play in  Twelfth Night with Frog and Peach: I Played Curio, A gentlewoman in Orsino’s Court. In the original Play, Curio is play by a Man. So I enjoy to recreate the character, with the help of the director, Lynnea Benson.

Tell us about Twelfth Night: Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare  romantic comedies. Is about a twin brother and sister  who are separated in a shipwreck.the sister viola end it up in a town named illiria, she finds herself alone, she assumes that her twin brother is dead. She dresses as a man working for Orsino the duke of Elyria who she is in love with. But he doesn’t know he is a she.   

What was it like being a part of Twelfth Night: Was great I had a lot of fun, I just can say positive things about twelfth night, I learned a lot from the other actors in the cast who has been working with Shakespeare since years and their work  with the verse and Shakespeare words,  made it seem easy from the outside. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:  I see inspiration in many actors. I grew up watching Pacino, de Niro, Dicaprio Films, and as soon as  I watched On the Water Front and Wild One when I was 15, I got OBSSESED with Brando, and I still am. But I get inspiration everywhere I go, I try to really have that peripheral vision everytime. Poets and writers as Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Julio Cortazar ,Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Dancers as Martha Graham and Pina Baucsh had a really impact on me and my way to see the world and people around me. Also Bertulucci and Almodovar Films feeds my soul. But I think To be inspired you don’t have to go so Far, Im really inspired by the  people close to me who are teaching me not just acting but… Life. And I thing this is the most important thing for an actor.People as My audition Couch... I love her, My cousin, My dance Teacher, A couple of friends that are not actors, other friends who are actors, my dad, other actors who I worked with and who Im working with.Other artists, musicians, visual artists young as me who I got to know recently…. The list can be really long. Im not attached to any type of theater. All of them speaks to me, some in a more positive way than others,  Im very open  and versatile with that. Because I don’t know where the life is gonna lead me to. I Have my preferences of a theater who is based more in the acting and storytelling rather  than the props, costumes and stage designs, I think too many props on stage can get really messy and distracting. But I like theater… from Shakespeare…. to stand up.  I Think the storytelling is the key.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: My dream role to play before I get really old is Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, also I die to play Blanche in a Streetcar Named Desire, Anita in West Side Story, May in Fools For Love By Sam Shepard and Catherine Carbone in A View From the Bridge of Arthur Miller.  Also  I would love to play a serial killer, a gangster or some criminal…. Those roles really catch me.

What’s your favorite showtune?: "Take Me or Leave Me" from Rent and "My Shot" from Hamilton, almost all of Hamilton and "America" from West Side Story. Actually I think this last one is my favorite.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Al Pacino  without doubt. This might sound really ambitious… but I am an ambitious person when is about my career . He is very passionate about Shakespeare as I am, for me he is one of the best’s actors worldwide and he is being my inspiration for acting since I was a little kid back in Colombia. I think working with him would be a master class every rehearsal. It’s one of my biggest dreams, I wanted to point that out, and  Who wouldn’t like a master class with Pacino for free though?...

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: The French actress Audrey Tautou, she is very funny, I think we have a similar humor, and we both play very well with physicality. I would love someone who’s good at comedy in a unique way so it would make a contrast and put a little spice into the drama. I will call the movie... golden waves

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Angels in America. 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Frankie and Johnny with Michael Shannon and Audra Macdonald, and also History for Morons the monologue of John Leguizamo, this one, really touched me It talks about the latino Culture, the immigration and all the struggle that an immigrant has in a new country, with new rules. The persistence and the hope of that dream coming true.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I have a lot… im a Healthy person,  but my guiltiest  Pleasures all has to be with food… maybe…. A cold pina Colada in front of a beach  and a veggie burger with sweet potato Fries and a chocolate volcano cake… with vanilla icecream in the top at midnight. 

What’s up next?: Im going For a coffee, what about you?... I have some films Projects going on next year and also keep working with Frog And Peach in  upcoming  productions

For more on Dani, visit @danifranco8 on Instagram

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Spotlight On...Peter Levine

Name: Peter Levine

Hometown: Brooklyn

Education: B.A., M.A. in History, Columbia, Phd History, Rutgers

Favorite Credits: As an actor, Marc in ART, Willie Clark in The Sunshine Boys, Roy Cohn in Angels in America, and Max Gelman in my new play Apple, Table Penny

Why theater?: I had a first career as a professor of American History at Michigan State University- wrote a lot of books, loved teaching but started acting there with the Theatre Dept’s MFA program and got hooked.  I took an early retirement, moved back to Brooklyn with my wife, got my Equity card in 2002, and have been acting and writing plays ever since.  For me it is a passion – something I crave to do.

Tell us about Apple, Table, Penny?: The play tells the story of Max Gelman, a frustrated Borscht Belt comedian,  who often neglected his roles as husband and father to follow his dream. But now something's wrong. He's been acting strangely and his wife and children are concerned. So is he.Could it be Alzheimer’s? Complete with jokes, the occasional song, and a cast of characters that includes Carmen Miranda and Jackie Gleason, Apple, Table, Penny showcases generational struggles, the special love between a grandfather and his granddaughter, and coming to terms with the inevitable that awaits us all.

What inspired you to write Apple, Table, Penny?: Who knows where inspiration comes from? I try to write what I know best with the hope that concentrating on the specific kinds of people and the worlds they inhabit that I most familiar with, still allows me speak to universal questions and themes.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: My tastes are eclectic. In terms of theatre, always Tony Kushner and Arthur Miller – Paul Simon has been with me since he first began to perform.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: There are so many people I have yet to work with that I wouldn’t know where to begin.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Angels in America

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Gene Wilder, but alas he is dead!

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The original production of Death of a Salesman

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I don’t know about guilt, but spending time with my two grandchildren, Ben and Lily

If you weren’t working in theater, you would ______?: Be the best grandfather ever

What’s up next?: I am writing a play with a friend about the end of the Trump presidency. Hopefully, he will be gone, before we finish it.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Review: Drag in Live Cartoon Form

By Michael Block

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, "The Simpsons" have been a staple in the pop culture lexicon for virtually three decades. The cartoon has become timeless in the sense that there seems to never be a wrong to pay homage through parody. Now at the Laurie Beechman comes The Simsinz, a loving drag send off on "The Simpsons". Whether you’re a loyal fan of the series or simply a lover of drag, there’s something for everyone here.
photo by Michael Block
Previously representing the Beechman through her Amy Winehouse tribute show, Cissy Walken brings a bunch of her pals to the stage to become the iconic yellow-tinted cartoon American family, looks and all. Told through sound clips from the cartoon and music references from pop to Broadway, this edition of the show puts a queer lens on the characters. Is it possible everyone is gay? In Marge’s mind, absolutely. The Simsinz is a wonderfully whimsical, and slightly perverse, spin on the animated classic, littered in pop culture nostalgia. There is a semblance of a plot, though the closer you are to the franchise perhaps the easier it is to find. Marge is on the verge of a breakdown as her husband Homer and three kids, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, aid to the chaos of her life. After a little sniff of bleach, Marge goes on a fantastical adventure as all the characters in the Matt Groening universe appear to be on a journey of self-discovery. There’s a special charm to the show that makes it a special event. The drag is spot on. The theatricality polish can be improved, but hey, it is a cabaret space after all.
The entire ensemble took the iconic characters and brought them to life with the greatest of ease, while still maintaining an essence of their own drag personas. As Marge, Cissy Walken plays the straight man in the scene. Her take on the character, comparatively, is the most grounded. With the show being entirely lip synced, Cissy does surprise the crowd late in the show with a bit of a vocal gag. As Homer, Coco Taylor goes on a fantastical journey through song and dance as Homer tries to discover his true self. Taking on the three kids, Aria Derci, Pussy Willow, and Andy Starling, as Bart, Lisa, and Maggie respectfully, dazzle in their solo moments.  But wait, did you think other characters wouldn’t make cameos? Mrs. Krabapple, Milhouse, and Ralphie all pop by, but it’s Marge’s sisters, Patty and Selma, that steal the show. With a little Side Show to cap it off, Coco Taylor and Aria Derci’s take on the Bouvier twins is one of the highlights of the night. This piece is only as successful as it’s appearance. The costumes by Pierretta Viktori and the wigs by Scott Feigr Curly are major players in Why this show works.
While there is still some tweaking and finessing to do, The Simsinz is a must do at the Beechman. There have been very few shows of this whacky nature to grace this stage.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Block Talk- Episode 136: DragCon NYC 2019 Special

Another DragCon NYC is in the books! I was lucky to get to roam the DragCon floor again and have some incredible interviews with the stars of Drag Race, Dragula, Camp Wannakiki and right here in NYC!

You'll hear interviews with

- Honey Davenport (Drag Race Season 11) and The Vixen (Drag Race Season 10)
- Yuhua Hamasaki (Drag Race Season 10)
- Cynthia Lee Fontaine (Drag Race Season 8 and 9)
- Kennedy Davenport (Drag Race Season 7 and All Stars 3)
- Dusty Ray Bottoms (Drag Race Season 10)
- Iconic Team
- Kahanna Montrese (Drag Race Season 11)
- Akeria C. Davenport (Drag Race Season 11)
- Maddelynn Hatter (Dragula Season 3)
- Coco Taylor
- T. Rex (The Tea podcast)
- Darrienne Lake (Drag Race Season 6)
- Alexis Michelle (Drag Race Season 9)
- Chiffon Dior and Strawberry Fields (
- Monique Heart (Drag Race Season 10 and All Stars 4)
- Ongina (Drag Race Season 1)
- Abhora (Dragula Season 2)
- Disasterina (Dragula Season 2)
- St. Lucia and Violencia ExclamationPoint (Dragula Season 3)
- Jaidynn Diore Fierce (Drag Race Season 7)
- Sugarbaker Twins (Camp Wannakiki)
- Mrs. Kasha Davis (Drag Race Season 7)
- Tammie Brown (Drag Race Season 1 and All Stars 1)

To listen to the podcast, download and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, or Stitcher

Friday, September 13, 2019

Block Talk- Episode 135: Dragula Dracap Episode 3

It's time to recap another episode of Dragula season 3! Seraphim is back to rock and roll all night and tattoo everyday!

To listen to the podcast, download and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!