Interview with Scott and Barabara Siegel

Read the Siegel'scolumn by going to: www.theatermania.com

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Interview with Scott and Barbara Siegel
by Corine Cohen

www.theatermania.com
Barbara and Scott are the authors of 46 books, including The Encyclopedia of Hollywood and American Film Comedy. They are columnists for Back Stage and Cabaret Hotline Online, and they report on movies, theater, and cabaret on more than 100 radio stations across the U.S., including the "Siegel Entertainment Hour" on the Talk America Radio Network. They wrote the "New York/New York Column" for Drama-Logue for six years and two columns for InTheater. They have contributed to several newspapers and magazines, including The Bergen Record The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, and The International Film Journal. Scott produces the "Broadway by the Year" series at Town Hall and directs the Town Hall Film Seminar Series. Barbara is on the board of the Drama Desk organization and serves as a member of its nominating committee. Barbara and Scott are members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Broadcast Film Critics Association.

Corine Cohen: Scott and Barbara, How did you meet? Was it love at first sight?

Scott and Barbara: Our meeting story is legendary--at least among our friends. It actually takes about an hour to tell so we'll spare you. The extremely short version of it, however, is that we almost didn't meet, but when we did it was for just fifteen minutes and it became the basis of a long distance relationship that culminated in Scott moving to New York from St. Louis. Come to think of it, our meeting story, fully fleshed out, would make a pretty good musical.

CC: When did you realize your passion for theater, cabaret and the business?

S&B: I guess I'm speaking for myself now. I was always a movie nut. Writing The Encyclopedia of Hollywood for Facts on File (hardcover) and Avon Books (trade paper) was what got me and Barbara into the critic business. And it was Barbara who really introduced me to the theater and cabaret. We began as critics on the radio reviewing movies, and eventually we added theater and cabaret, even as we added print outlets like Drama-Logue, Back Stage, InTheater, and then into the cyber future with TheaterMania.com and Talkin Broadway.

CC: How long have you been doing the By the Year Series? How did it start? It is very interesting and you get some of my favorite performers.

S&B: This is the fifth season of Broadway by the Year. It began as an idea created to bring the musical theater audience to Town Hall. The idea for the series was mine. It was Town Hall's idea to have me produce it, which was extremely flattering and nervy of them to do because I had no such experience. I'm very grateful that they had so much confidence in me. And I get most of the performers in the series because everyone who does it seems to enjoy it so much. They tell their friends. So when I call, they're already predisposed. And it doesn't hurt that many of them want to do it over and over again, like Marc Kudisch, Noah Racey, Nancy Anderson, Emily Skinner, etc. That's very reassuring not just for me, but for other performers who are just starting to hear about it.

CC: Speaking of favorite performers, when will you get Brent Barrett again?

S&B: I just talked to Brent. I hope his schedule will allow him to come back real soon. A lot of it is, of course, just pure availability. For instance, I gave Stephanie J. Block one of her first important opportunities in New York when she starred in The Broadway Musicals of 1925. That happened to be the date of the Blizzard of 03. It closed down the City but we went on in front of an audience of about 400 when the show had been sold out. Happily, that's recorded and available on CD. But Stephanie has been incredibly busy ever since with The Boy from Oz and now on tour with Wicked for a year. Happily, though, I did get her back to open my first Broadway Unplugged concert last September. She was awesome. Can't wait for her to come back.

CC: What made you get involved with the Drama Desk Awards? Can you tell me the history?

S&B: We didn't so much get involved with the Awards show as with the Drama Desk, itself. First as members and later, Barbara got on the Board and has been toiling away on the Drama Desk Nominating Committee for a number of years now, including two as its chairperson. I'm simply a voting member but I probably see more than most regular members because Barbara has to see everything as one of the seven nominators.

CC: Do you have a favorite Broadway by the Year?

S&B: That's a tough one. Of course the one I always love most is the one that's right in front of me, which is 1945 on April 4th. Carousel was the most famous show that year, but some of our great talents had shows that year as well, though there were few famous tunes outside of the ones that emerged from Carousel. It will be fun to explore the songs the audience may not know. But the last one (1929) was pretty special because not only was the cast wonderful, the songs were incredible--so many hits came out of that year that it was just a joy to bring all that music back.

CC: Can you tell me some more about the upcoming edition? I hear you have Kerry Butler. She is wonderful. I was really impressed with her in “Hairspray”.

S&B: I don't want to give away any more about the show than I have already. About the cast, I'm particularly pleased that it's so wonderfully diverse. This is the first time I've worked with Kerry and she's a delight. Scott Ailing is a cabaret star and will be a big discovery for our theater audience. This is also the first time I've had Christiane Noll in a BBTY and all I can say is I waited way too long to ask her. Ironically, I met and interviewed her quite a while ago for a movie she was involved with and liked her, personally, right off the bat. Don't know why it took so long to get her into one of these show. Noah Racey has become the unofficial BBTY dancer/choreographer, appearing in his fifth consecutive concert. He never fails to stop the show. I love working with Eddie Korbich (this is his third BBTY); there may not be a more versatile musical theater guy around. Karen Mason would have starred in the very first Broadway by the Year had her schedule allowed for it. That's how much I love Karen. So, you get the picture.

CC: Do you have a favorite playwright?

S&B: Arthur Miller. He's not afraid to deal with the big issues.

Corine Dana Cohen, Associate Producer of the Drama Desk Awards, works as a freelance writer.

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