Monday, March 6, 2023

Spotlight On...Joseph Hayward

Joseph Hayward

Hometown: Wolverhampton, U.K.

Education: The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. 

Favorite Credits: This past summer I directed Desperate Measures at Saint Michael’s Playhouse in Vermont. Thanks to the pandemic, we were forced to postpone twice.  Believe me, delayed gratification isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So, to finally get to work on the show--with some of the most wonderful actors and creatives I know--was a gift I’ll cherish always. 

Why theater?: It’s clichĂ©, but from an early age, it’s all I’ve wanted. I started putting on plays for my parents at age 3, and performing professionally by the time I was 9 (I made my debut as an orphan boy in Scrooge at The Wolverhampton Grand.) I was hooked. Now it’s in my blood and, despite “the headaches, the heartaches, the backaches, the flops,” I’m incredibly lucky to be doing what I love. What makes the theater so singular and irresistible to me is that it’s a hand-made, living work of art. It has the power to change people’s lives. I’ve had countless moments inside the theater, both as a director and an audience member, where the experience has been transformative and life-affirming. 

Tell us about Julie Sings Jule: I am over the moon about this. On April 10th, I’ll be directing Julie Benko, the wonderstudy from Broadway’s Funny Girl, in The York’s Spring Gala concert celebrating composer Jule Styne. Many of us have seen Julie’s sensational performance as Fanny Brice, and I can’t wait for the gala audience at the Theatre at St. Jean’s to experience her vast range and versatility. Tickets for the concert, which is followed by a VIP reception and dinner, are on sale now: I hope you’ll come and enjoy the extraordinary Julie--and Jule--and help The York continue “bringing musicals to life!” 

Tell us about your work at The York Theatre Company: I am the Associate Producing Director. My favorite part of the job is overseeing the Developmental Reading Series, where I help facilitate 29-Hour Readings and showcase new work. A core part of The York’s mission is to develop new musicals, and it’s deeply gratifying to play a part in it. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Musical comedy. If I could, that’s what I’d always do. I love watching how a room of strangers can suddenly find themselves in another world, transported by the emotional power of the story, the songs and dances. And, of course, I love the delicious sound of laughter. When that all comes together, it’s electrifying. Having said that, I just directed And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and had an absolute ball, so I think it all boils down to the book, and the opportunity to give an audience a compelling experience. If it’s a great script, I’m excited to work on it. 

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Marianne Elliott. She’s an endlessly creative director – a visionary -- and I’d love to observe her process. 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Life of Pi. My BFF in the U.K. built the life-sized puppets -- and watching them come to life is pure theater magic. It’s a spectacular experience. 

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I can’t imagine anyone would go see this movie (not even me), so we’d need some serious star power to sell tickets. Meryl Streep? And the movie can be called whatever she wants! 

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Ethel Merman in Gypsy

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Andrew Lloyd Webber. 

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be?: A veterinarian.  

What’s up next?: This summer I’m directing A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at the beautiful South Orange Performing Arts Center. I’ve loved the show ever since I saw it on Broadway, and we’ve assembled a dream team of designers to bring it to life. We open in July, and tickets are available on:

For more on Joseph, visit and follow on Instagram at @jcwhayward

Friday, May 6, 2022

Block Talk Guide to DragCon LA 2022!

By Michael Block

After a two year break while the world was in a pandemic, DragCon is making its triumphant return to Los Angeles in 2022! Queens and fans from all around the globe are coming together to celebrate Drag Race and the art of drag! There will be so much to see and do so here’s my guide to help you through the weekend! 

Facts are Facts, Los Angeles! 

DragCon LA 2022 will span May 13th-15th at the Los Angeles Convention Center in the South Hall. The convention runs from 10:00am-6:00pm on Friday and Saturday and 10:00am-5:00pm on Sunday. If you’re one of the lucky VIP All Star Attendees, you get an extra hour of fun starting at 9:00am! 

Before you can hit the show floor, you will need to go to registration in the South Hall lobby. Show your ticket to get scanned and you’ll be given a badge! Don’t lose it! If you’re joining us all weekend, you’ll need your badge for entry. AND please bring your vax card or proof of negative COVID test. You WILL need them. Safety first!  

For all the up-to-date FAQs about the convention, visit

Meet the Stars! 

Stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race and beyond all  across the globe unite at the Los Angeles Convention Center for DragCon 2022! Meet and greet, see them perform on the MainStage, and of course add to your merch collection! The list of attending talent is HUGE so make sure you make a list of who you want to see so you don’t miss out meeting your favs! As I cover ALL of the international seasons, I’m stoked to see the International queens! As a die hard Frock Destroyer Fan, you can bet I’ll be watching Baga, Blu, and Divina hit the mainstage. And I can’t wait to chat with the winners! Those international winners include The Vivienne, Lawrence Chaney, Krystal Versace, and Blu Hydrangea from the UK, Envy Peru and Vanessa Van Cartier from Holland, Carmen Farala from Espana, and Kita Mean from Down Under! And don’t worry, stars from the US will be there like Aquaria, Alaska, Symone, Willow Pill and many many more! 

Shop Til Your Drop! 

If it’s not at DragCon, it doesn’t exist! Stock up your drag collection with wigs, jewels, makeup, and heels! There are over 200 vendors ready to help you splurge all weekend long. I am so excited to see so many of my favorite friends share their goods. Be sure to visit my friends at Amped Accessories, the designers of both Canada’s Drag Race crowns and scepters, Crimsyn’s Creations for all things fashion from Painted with Raven winner Crimsyn, Daftboy for the BEST clack fans out there, Forgot’s Locks, one of NYC’s award nominated wig designers, ISLYNYC, extraordinary accessories from my home away from home, and Loschy Designs for some of the most unique crowns and tiaras you’ll ever see. 

See the Panels!

Stars from your favorite seasons like Drag Race UK vs the World, Drag Race Down Under, and Canada’s Drag Race are reuniting for panels! This is your chance to ask the queens those burning questions! There are so many panels so don’t miss out. Many of your favorite WOW podcasts and shows will be live in the panel rooms like Binge Queens, Fashion Photo Review, and You Brita Vote! Bring Back My Girls will be a new WOWPresents show which will be recorded live featuring the casts from around the world hosted by TS Madison! 


And don’t forget to ask for consent from the queens and fans alike before taking photos! And be nice and be kind. A smile goes a very long way. 

Important Tips

  • Bring a charger! If your phone dies, you’ll miss out on that priceless photo with your favorite queens! 
  • Eat! If you’re planning to stay all day long, make sure you eat! Visit the Compass CafĂ© in the South Hall Lobby or the outdoor food court in the back left of the showroom. 
  • Carry a bag! If you plan on buying merch and goodies, bring a bag with you so you can carry your haul home! 

I am so excited to be reuniting with some of my favorite friends and colleagues and sharing my experience with you on Block Talk! If you’ll be attending the event, please let me know and please be sure to come find me and say hi! I'll be sharing all the fun on my Instagram (@michaelblocktalk)

See you at DragCon LA! 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Drag Race UK vs The World Officially Releases Cast

by Michael Block

courtesy of World of Wonder

The real Olympics of drag is about to begin! World of Wonder has officially announced the nine competitors from across the globe who will be competing in the inaugural season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK vs the World! Nine queens will enter but only one will take home the global crown

Of the nine vying for the title, we have three queens from the UK, two from the USA, two from Canada, one from the Netherlands, and one from Thailand. They are Baga Chipz (Drag Race UK 1), Blu Hydrangea (Drag Race UK 1), Cheryl Hole (Drag Race UK 1), Janey Jacke (Drag Race Holland 1), Jimbo (Canada's Drag Race 1), Jujubee (Drag Race, All Stars 1, All Stars 5, Queen of the Universe), Lemon (Canada's Drag Race 1), Mo Heart (Drag Race 10, All Stars 4), and Pangina Heals (Drag Race Thailand judge).

Judging the international All Stars will be the usual panel from Drag Race UK- RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Alan Carr, and Graham Norton. Guest judges that have been announced include Little Mix's Jade Thirwall, Spice Girls' Mel C, Daisy May Cooper, and Jonathan Bailey, among others. 

RuPaul's Drag Race UK vs The World premieres February 1st at 4pm ET on WOWPresents+ in the USA. 

Be sure to download and subscribe to Block Talk on your favorite podcast platform where we will cover RuPaul's Drag Race UK vs The World, as well as all other international seasons all year long! 


Baga Chipz 
Drag Race UK 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Blu Hydrangea
Drag Race UK 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Cheryl Hole
Drag Race UK 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Janey Jacke
Drag Race Holland 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Canada's Drag Race 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Drag Race 2, All Stars 1, All Stars 5, Queen of the Universe

courtesy of World of Wonder

Canada's Drag Race 1

courtesy of World of Wonder

Mo Heart 
Drag Race 10, All Stars 4

courtesy of World of Wonder

Pangina Heals 
Drag Race Thailand Judge

courtesy of World of Wonder

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Spotlight On...Yulanda Yo-Rong Shieh

Yulanda Yo-Rong Shieh

Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan

Education:  B.A. National Taiwan University - Drama and Theatre; M.F.A. NYU Tisch School of the Arts - Design for Stage and Film

Favorite Credits: The Late Wedding (Directed by Giselle Ty), Pinky Club (Directed by Allison Emma Wang), A Streetcar Named Desire (Directed by Lou-Ying Wu), Journey to the West II (Directed by Tsui Hark)

Why theater?: Because it’s so real and unreal at the same time. You always find fantasy in reality and reality in fantasy. And that it reveals to you a part of yourself you weren’t aware of before. It allows us to find connections with one another in a metaphoric way.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I’m drawn to the stories that show how two extremes co-exist. I’m touched whenever the creators genuinely put all of themselves in the work, when it happens the subsequent healing effect is enormous. I’m inspired by everyone and everything around me. As an artist, I’m dedicated to find beauty in everything. In mundane routines, in tragic events, in all the unexpected circumstances. And of course, beauty does not mean good-looking, it’s an attitude, a way of living. It’s something that touches you and makes you feel alive. 

How have you stayed creatively active during COVID?: I doodled, read, and designed some short films.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Ang Lee!

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The End Of The Fxxxing World

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Lun-Mei Gui, "Midnight Rhapsody"

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Listening to random playlists on Spotify

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A musician I hope!

What’s up next?: I’m currently on a TV Show!

For more on Yulanda, visit

Friday, February 5, 2021

Spotlight On...Drew Larimore

Drew Larimore

Hometown: Louisville, KY

Education: B.A. Emerson College

Why theater?: Honestly, it's the only medium that electrifies me, terrifies me, stymies me, inspires me; it's the closest thing to magic I've been able to find on Planet Earth. Also, it's one of the few places language is really heard.

Tell us about Smithtown: Smithtown is about four characters in a small Midwestern town interconnected through a local tragedy. As the play unfolds, one by one we see how each of them had a hand – directly or indirectly — in the death of a local college student and how they struggle with that responsibility. 

 What inspired you to write Smithtown?:  I'm fascinated with the link between technology and shared responsibility. Ian Bernstein opens the play (perfectly played by Michael Urie) and asks the question: ‘Whose fault is it – all the dominoes in a row or a select few?’ I don't have an answer. And mining that was part of why I wrote this play. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Bizarre yet accessible plays that make it into the mainstream, that really break through and become a part of the zeitgeist. Albee, anyone? 

How have you stayed creatively active during COVID?: Thankfully, I've been keeping busy. I have a few new musicals I've been remotely working on with composers/collaborators. And I'm working on a trilogy of edgy new Southern plays. And some stuff for the screen. 

 If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Margo Martindale. 

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: The sequel to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown starring a hologram of Bea Arthur. 

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The original Sweeney Todd or Uta Hagen in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Weight loss shows. Like, the 600-pound ones. I feel dumber after each episode, but I find it oddly comforting. 

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A diplomat. 

What’s up next?: Two premieres. Boomeranged, a harrowing and irreverent play about gun violence, which I hope will star my muse Constance Shulman. And The Bestest Office Christmas Party Ever, a very adult, very wild new satirical musical about the sadness of the holidays, co-written with composer rock star Billy Recce! 

For more on Drew, visit 

Smithtown is being presented online through The Studio of Key West, starting February 13, 2021. For tickets, visit

Friday, January 15, 2021

Block Talk Ep. 242- Pietra Parker


The lovely Pietra Parker joins me on the latest episode of Block Talk! 

Learn more about Pietra at!

Listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts and more!