Monday, July 11, 2016

Spotlight On...Jill Abramovitz and Brad Alexander

photo by Justin Patterson
Name: Jill Abramovitz & Brad Alexander

Hometown:
JA: Morristown, NJ
BA: Simsbury, CT

Education:
JA: University of Pennsylvania
BA: Ithaca College

Favorite Credits:
JA: As an actor - currently in the company of Fiddler and loving the hell out of it. As a writer, having Tyne Daly sing my lyrics (and Barbara Anselmi’s music) every night in It Shoulda Been You.
BA: The Off-Broadway run of See Rock City & Other Destinations (book and lyrics by Adam Mathias) was a major highlight. Tied with that is the opportunity to score five episodes of "Peg + Cat" on PBS.

Why theater?:
JA: I wanted a career with stability so it was a natural fit. OR, it could be the fact that I was an overly expressive and overdramatic child who found herself drawn to this form of storytelling from the time I first had consciousness.
BA: In 1993, the Berkshire Theatre Festival needed an acting intern who could also write music for their children’s theatre. That’s when I caught the writing bug. After two summers there I had done very little acting and written 42 songs. Fate sealed.

What inspired you to write Bread And Roses?:
JA: It’s based on a beautiful movie of the same title by Paul Laverty and Ken Loach that’s wonderfully structured and about issues that really get our blood pumping. And these particular issues seem as relevant now as ever, as the division between the haves and the have-nots is growing starker. Also, it’s about two sisters -  one sister’s true coming of age in a very real way that affects the other sister. And that story kernel is especially compelling to us.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
JA: I love musical theatre that tackles big social/political/artistic issues - Parade, Falsettos, Sunday in the Park, West Side Story. Light in spite of dark. Currently, I’m obsessing nightly over Fiddler. It’s a wonder. Incredibly intimidating how moving and funny and current it is. It's gut-wrenching AND the jokes could have been written this morning. As far as straight plays go, I love absurd comedies (Christopher Durang) and heavy family dramas - A View from the Bridge is I think one of the best things ever created by a human.
BA: I grew up on pop, rock and jazz - Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, The Police, Oscar Peterson. Theatre was secondary but I was lucky enough to have parents who exposed me to a lot of Broadway from a young age, and our hometown productions were pretty wonderful, so I’ve always been around it.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
JA: Jeepers. There are so so so many. I will say that one of the huge treats of being a writer in this city is that many of the musical theatre greats make themselves available as mentors, teachers and friends. So I’ve met and learned from my idols - Lynn Ahrens, Steven Flaherty, Maury Yeston, Bill Finn, Sheldon Harnick, etc. I do still sometimes have “pinch myself” moments.
BA: Collaborator-wise I truly feel I’ve worked with the very best. Performer-wise I’ve also worked with some of the finest talents in the land, but my wish list includes Brian D’arcy James and Brian Stokes Mitchell. They must have three names and start with Brian. Or be Chaka Khan.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
JA: Recently I’ve been recommending a moving and razor sharp play called Incognito. And I hate to overstate it, but Fiddler really is beautiful. Oh, and there’s this little confection called Hamilton that I found just delightful. Have you heard of it?
BA: Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party. I saw the original production - and stood up and cheered with the rest of the audience - at MTC. The score is white hot and timeless. Still one of the best theatre experiences I’ve ever had. Go buy the cast album right now.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
JA: Michelle Pfeiffer. Just kidding. What’s the opposite of Michelle Pfeiffer? The movie would be called "Too Many Bags".
BA: The love child of Paul Rudd and Paul Reiser. If Jill were producing, it would be called "Get Out Of The Bathroom".

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?:
JA: The original Falsettos.
BA: The original West Side Story.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
JA: Real Housewives, Say Yes to the Dress, those Taffy-Lite candies they sell at World of Nuts.
BA: Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. Bar Rescue on Spike TV. Really bad disaster movies.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:
JA: A doctor, nurse, or physician’s assistant - I’m fascinated by medicine and I’m actually a Licensed Internet Doctor (LID). If you need to be seriously afraid of any minor symptoms, call me up and I’ll diagnose you.
BA: A graphic designer or a child psychologist.

What’s up next?:
BA & JA: A project with superb composer/lyricist/bookwriter friend, Barry Wyner. It’s gonna be wacky fun.

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