Fynsworth Alley: Liz Larsen

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.


Liz Larsen

Liz Larsen

Liz Larsen is perhaps best known for her role as the forensics specialist on TV’s Law and Order, or perhaps for her role as Cleo in the acclaimed Broadway revival of The Most Happy Fella. She has also appeared on Broadway in Starmites, Damn Yankees, and Fiddler on the Roof, off-Broadway in A New Brain, Little By Little, and The New Yorkers, as well as in regional theaters across the country. She has appeared on several Fynsworth Alley releases, including Lost in Boston The Ultimate Collection and Prime Time Musicals, on which she sings a duet with her husband, Sal Viviano.

DL: How did you get your start in show business?

LL: I grew up in New Hope, Pennsylvania, and in those days there was the Bucks County playhouse was sometimes used as a Broadway tryout house, but it was a really summer stock place to work. Also, across the river was the Lambertsville Music Circus – it was a really big tent that played musicals during the summer. My mother was press agent on and off for both of those theatres. So, my first show was The King and I at the Music Circus when I was three. I was the youngest kid, and Elaine Stritch played Anna. She gave me a kick one night – during the death scene. Anna wears those big hoop skirts, and I decided on opening night that it would be really funny to see if I could beat my sister to get my entire body underneath the skirt. I guess I got there faster than my sister and said, “Ha ha, Karen,” (that’s my sister’s name), and I got a big kick in the ass from Elaine Stritch. That was my introduction to show business. Other than that, you know, I would be a kid in a lot of their shows, but mostly I saw all of these shows twenty or thirty times. My mother would just sit me in the balcony and I’d watch these plays over and over. I remember when I was six watching The Lion in Winter over and over with George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst. I don’t remember it at all, except he was really intense. And I remember seeing James Earl Jones do The Emperor Jones. All I remember from that was “The drums, the drums.” I think I was four. So I saw all these things, and even as I grew older, after school I would go to the Playhouse, and I remember seeing Cuckoo’s Nest twenty-four times, and 1776 over thirty times, and Tea and Sympathy… Just a lot of great plays with a lot of really great people in them.

DL: So was it a foregone conclusion that that’s what you wanted to do when you grew up?

LL: I guess it was, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I just knew I loved to watch it and to be there. I guess I just kind of went into it without thinking about it. It wasn’t really a decision.
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Fynsworth Alley: Brad Ross

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

Brad Ross is the composer of Little By Little. Two of his songs, “Kicks” and “Watching The Show”, are featured on the Broadway Bound album. In addition to his musical theatre work, Brad has written an album of children’s songs as well as symphonic pieces that have been performed by orchestras across the US.

DL: How did you get involved in writing musicals?

BR: I was always a musician from a very young age. I always played the piano, and when I was very young, I also played the clarinet and later the bassoon. But I was always playing other people’s music. There was a point when I was commuting for a summer job from my folks’ house into New York City. I was sitting on the train every day, and on the way back, I got sick of reading the newspaper, so I took one of my father’s music sketch pads and started sketching out melodies from my head. When I got home, I’d go to the piano and play them. I liked the way they sounded, and that got me off on writing my own stuff instead of playing other people’s.  Continue reading

Fynsworth Alley: Guy Haines

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

The enigmatic Guy Haines has finally burst forth from simply being one of our repertory singers, finally releasing his very own solo album, Haines His Way. For more information on Guy’s history and background, you can read this interview from last June.

Guy HainesDL: How did you first meet Bruce Kimmel?

GH: Well, let’s see… How does anyone first meet Bruce Kimmel? He just sort of shows up and insinuates himself into your life and then he never leaves. We’ve been friends for as long as I can remember, ever since we were young boys. We used to sing show tunes together and do performances for our parents. One of our great successes was the two of us doing the entire “Dance At The Gym” from West Side Story. Amazing, really, as neither one of us can dance a whit.

DL: Bruce Kimmel has mentioned that your first appearance on one of his albums [Unsung Musicals] was a happy turn of fate involving another singer’s inability to record. How did Bruce approach you for the album? Did you have any time to learn the song? Do you have any idea why he asked you to step in rather than someone with Broadway credits?

GH: Well, that is an interesting story. I guess the original singer of “Her Laughter In My Life” was not feeling well during the sessions and was having vocal problems. I know that Bruce tried to put together a usable vocal out of the ten takes he did, but it just wasn’t working. I happened to be visiting the studio when all this was happening and finally, in desperation, he turned to me and asked me if I’d do a new vocal. Since the song only has a range of about five or six notes I felt comfortable doing it and besides I’d been hearing the thing for three hours in a row and it was already in my head. I’m sure he would have preferred someone with Broadway credits, but frankly I was the only game in town. Continue reading

Fynsworth Alley: 10 Questions with Doug Haverty

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

10 Questions with Doug Haverty

Doug Haverty is a graphic designer and playwright. He’s designed many Fynsworth Alley albums, including Cole Porter’s You Never Know, The Stephen Sondheim Album, and Brent Barrett’s Kander and Ebb Album.

inside outYou are both a graphic designer and a songwriter. Which did you get involved with first, and do the two world ever meet?

I started writing plays in high school. I started doing graphics in college. The two worlds met occasionally when I designed flyers for my own plays, but they really merged when I art directed the CD package for my musical (written with Adryan Russ), the Off-Broadway/Cherry Lane Cast Recording of “Inside Out” with Ann Crumb, Kathleen Mahoney-Bennett, Harriett D. Foy, Jan Maxwell, Cass Morgan and Julie Prosser.

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Fynsworth Alley: Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens

Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.

Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging QueensI’m sure that many of the people involved in last night’s benefit performance of Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens looked on the event as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not me. I hope this is but the first of many future projects that I’ll be able to take part in that bring together so many talents for the purpose of making a statement about the values of our community, and to benefit those in need of some extra help. Clearly, this was not your run-of-the-mill benefit performance. I’m willing to bet that almost everyone involved in the show has been touched in some way by the AIDS epidemic, but the real point of coalescence for me was that our performance not only raised money for AIDS-related care, but the content of the performance itself paid tribute to those who have gone, those who survive, and those who support. Powerful stuff. During the dress rehearsal, when I heard most of the monologues for the first time, I was brought to tears countless times… the elderly lady who contracted HIV through a transfusion and learns to overcome her own prejudice to die with grace alongside a drag queen… the couple whose families are incredibly supportive until the first partner dies… the street punk drug user who finds an unlikely friend in a gay social worker… and on and on. The songs have never sounded better, surely, but I hope the final album product will be able to convey at least a taste of the scope of this work – gay, straight, bisexual, nonsexual, black, white, Latino, old, young, and unborn AIDS deaths.  Continue reading