An Interview with Heidi Kettenring, performing in concert on Monday, February 11

Heidi Kettenring Heidi Kettenring

You’re performing in concert at TMTC Monday Feb 11. How do you feel?

I am so excited about this. Doug [Peck], Jamie [Cooper] and I have had some really great rehearsals and I think it is sounding so good.  I feel awesome.

What sorts of songs will you be singing?

I really wanted to cover a lot of the music that I love.  We are moving from Carole King to Frank Loesser to James Taylor to Irving Berlin to Cyndi Lauper to Charles Strouse to Patty Griffin to Leonard Bernstein to Joni Mitchell to Guy Adkins.  It’s a really fun mix.

Why did you choose to perform at TMTC in this fashion?

I have always wanted to do a concert where I got to sing the music that truly speaks to me and as some of it is a little outside the box, I knew TMTC would be a great place for it.  I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this.

Where do you hail from?

I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Nashville, Tennessee.  The whole family is back in New Orleans so trips home are there!

What else are you working on currently?

I am doing a Gershwin concert called The Gershwin Experience with my good pal Kevin Cole all over Florida for a few weeks in February, then I will be in Oliver at The Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace in the Spring.

What brought you to Chicago?

Northwestern University.  Go Cats!

What’s in your coffee?

Half and Half and sugar.

How long do you have?

If I must pick, I’ll give you 5.

What is your favorite doughnut?

The beignets at Morning Call in Metarie, LA, The  Bacon Maple long john at Blue Dot in New Orleans, LA, the jelly doughnut at Fox’s Donut Den in Nashville, TN, the red velvet doughnut at Bennison’s Bakery in Evanston, IL and the sour cream doughnut at Munster Donut in Munster, IN.

What is your favorite color?

Oh lord–blue?

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

Kauai, HI

Highway or take the long way home?

That depends.  In Chicago–highway.  In Nashville–long way home.  So so pretty.

What do you hope the audience takes away from the evening on Feb 11?

I hope the audience can feel these songs in their heart the way I do.  Some of these tunes truly move me–to listen to and to sing.  Music is a very important part of my life and these songs just scratch the surface of that.  I hope the audience can drop the cares of the world for a bit and just let the music take them away.

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An Interview with Peter Kevoian, playing The Baker in The Baker’s Wife in Concert

Peter Kevoian Peter Kevoian

Q: What drew you to the role of Aimable in The Baker’s Wife?

The music! First and foremost, it’s that music! I was introduced to the Paul Sorvino, Patti Lupone recording in the 80’s. It has haunted me ever since.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your process as an actor? Where do you begin?

I think my process is different for different roles. Most often it is absorbing the author’s words, and then allowing them to live in my instrument. Once I am free from the memorization process, it allows me to discover the nuances that might appear as little unexpected gifts.

Q: What drew you to work at TMTC?

Oh that’s easy. Dominic Missimi. When I first arrived in Chicago, Dominic was the first local director I worked for. I enjoyed his style, his ease with the actors. His obvious passion for the musical play. I felt safe, and trusted him completely. I recommend that any actor jump at the chance to work with him. I am beyond elated to have the opportunity to spend time with him again in the rehearsal room.

Q: You have quite an impressive résumé. Is there a role that you learned from the most? If so, which one and how?

I’d like to think we learn from all of our roles. I probably learned more in the ensemble when I had to create full lives for roles that just had a name, or no name. Trying to flesh out a fully realized character from your own imagination, and give them a life that breathes onstage. I know I am always watching the actors in the ensemble to see how engaged they are in telling the story. But, if I had to choose one, it would probably be the role of “Tateh” in Ragtime. A man who has nothing, except the love for his child. He knows when to “Journey On,” and in so doing, creates a beautiful life for himself and his child and those around him. Risk nothing…gain nothing. I love the people who take risks in their lives.

Q: Where do you hail from?

I am a native of Southern California. I was born in Whittier, in 19…blah blah.

I spent my last 12 years in California, in a cabin in Lake Arrowhead. I’d like to return to the mountains someday.

Q: Where do you currently live?

I am currently located in Chicago.

Q: If you were a baker, what would you most like to bake all day?

No brainer…oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Q: Favorite vacation spot?

Hawaii! Aloha!

Q: Do you prefer: a) Crumpet b) Danish c) Sourdough Roll d) Pretzel Roll e) none of the above?

I don’t do a lot of bread.  I know…crazy, huh? Aimable would be
horrified! Perhaps I would take a Sourdough Roll.

Q: Highway or take the long way home?

At the end of a night…it’s usually the quickest route, then relax at home.

An Interview with Dominic Missimi, Director of The Baker’s Wife in Concert

Dominic Missimi Dominic Missimi

What drew you to The Baker’s Wife? 

Having directed a couple of productions of PIPPIN and Godspell, as well as MASS, for which he wrote the lyrics for Leonard Bernstein, I was always reading about The Baker’s Wife. I saw a production of it 30 years ago — and it stayed in my memory. I’ve always assigned songs from the show to my music theatre students at NU because I found them so appealing.

I’ve never been able to figure out why theaters have not produced it so I thought I would find out for myself!  I love the score — I think it will be a wonderful experience for all of us!

How have you been connected with TMTC? What made you want to work there?

Jessica Redish is why I wanted to work here!  Jessica has played leading roles for me when she was an undergrad at Northwestern and I have hired her to direct at NU as well.  She is wonderfully talented and I love her ability to stage.  She did a wonderful Falsettos for us. I saw her PIPPIN at TMTC and enjoyed it immensely. I knew we both had a simpatico for Schwartz’s work so I knew that our little musical would have a perfect home in Highland Park.  Jess and I were talking about shows to present at TMTC and The Baker’s Wife was the first title out of my mouth!

You’ve directed quite a few musicals with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz – can you talk a bit about these experiences? 

In addition to multiple productions of PIPPIN, Godspell and MASS, I’m also very proud of a revue I created several years ago called Even Stephen. It was a combination of the music of Schwartz and Stephen Flaherty, the composer of Ragtime. We discovered that the two composers had a great deal in common and the show was very successful.

I’ve also had the good fortune to meet with him on several occasions. He came to my production of MASS and spoke to the students and did master classes and we honored him with a Mercer Award a few years ago during the American Music Theatre’s Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Project.  He was wonderful working with a group of young songwriters from across the country. I certainly look forward to the day we’ll all be able to tackle Wicked.

What has been your experience directing these pieces? Are there consistent themes, challenges, or things that excite you about his work?

Certainly with PIPPIN and Godspell, Schwartz’s sense of theatricality is always what attracts  me. You can tell he really loves the magic of theatre and writes music and lyrics that are laden with this sense of theatricality. I love to encourage the actors to get lost in his lyrics. I think he is a genuine poet and a total romantic and that appeals to me  immensely. There are certain moments in his shows that never fail to make me cry, such as “All Good Gifts,” “On the Willows,” and “By My Side” from Godspell. The lyrics are sublimely beautiful in “With You” from PIPPIN — the song is used for comic effect, but I always thought that the song could be sung at every wedding! And of course, Wicked is filled with other beautiful lyrics. “For Good,” is my favorite in that score.

Mostly, I love the gentle rock quality of his music. I think Stephen Schwartz’s music really makes the rock musical soar. His music is fun to sing and as they say–“it’s got a good beat!”

Is there a moment in the play you are particularly drawn to, or one that defines the work as you see it or that informs your approach to it?

I love the Baker. He is such an innocent. He loves so totally and unconditionally that he can’t imagine that people–let alone his wife Genevieve–could ever betray him. So in that final scene, when the Baker hides all of his hurt in a speech to the cat Pom Pom, I am always moved. The show is very simple. Old man, young wife. An age-old theatrical convention. But Schwartz and his collaborators weave a charming tale of love and loss, set beautifully in the French countryside, peppering it with a lovely play, full of delightful characters.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the evening?

The addition of another Stephen Schwartz musical to add to his list of wonderful musicals. I hope they will experience a lovely and touching slice of life, and a reminder that love is about goodness, and not just physical beauty.

What’s in your coffee?

Skim with 2 sweeteners.

Do you prefer: a) bagel b) roll c) croissant d) donut or e) none of the above?

e) none of the above

Highway or take the long way home?

41 is the quickest.