THE BEAT OF SONG AND DANCE
Oh my God, I loved it! I smiled so loudly through the whole thing; you can’t help, but feel joy watching it. – Joey Panek
What you don’t know is this show is the premier of me singing as a soloist. – Frances Bradley
If you were at the Opening Night of Noah Racey’s Pulse, you were more than likely tapping your feet or clapping your hands. “Everything in life is a rhythm, ” says Noah Racey from the stage, “even the beat of your own heart.”
The long-awaited World Premiere of Pulse was worth the wait and the hype created prior to the opening. The Asolo Rep Theatre packed with people of all ages enjoying the show. Audience interaction is something you don’t see very much at the theatre, yet this show made sure you had a Pulse.
Going into the show I wasn’t sure what to expect, I was just happy a dance number was taking the stage to break up the normal theatre style plays. It was tap dancing and so much more. Each individual performer opened up and gave you a glimpse into their life through a song, dance and vocalizing something personal, like Lauralyn McClelland who shares from the stage the moment she and her mother knew dancing was her destiny, “I potty trained myself because my mother told me a leotard wouldn’t fit over a diaper.” It gave a personalization allowing you to get to know each cast member.
From the musicians on a riser in the background to the cast, no one was excluded from being a part of the show. Each cast member has more than one talent and Pulse intertwines everyone’s individual talents into the show making it fun and exciting for all.
Normally I leave the theatre around 10:30pm on Opening Night, however I didn’t get out of there until 11pm, which shows you the energy level and excitement in the room at the post party. What I learned from everyone I spoke to about the show after is quite intriguing. Stephanie Shaw and Cheryl MacLaughlan, Co-Producers take responsibility of feeding the cast while they are in town over a period of time. They thoroughly enjoy the time they are able to spend with the cast either at their home or out and about and say what they receive back is invaluable.
Frances Bradley one of the performers not only is dancing on a bad knee, but is debuting her first solo singing for the first time on stage. I take you behind the scenes with individual interviews from cast, crew and audience members you can only read here.
Margaret Wise Thought it was fabulous. I think it’s got Broadway legs and it’s better than Stomp. Felt like you got to know each one of the performers, you felt like you knew them. It had variety; singing and dancing. Refreshing!
You’ve most likely seen Jaszy around Sarasota; she is very involved in the community. At the Asolo, once a show is launched and moving along, anything special she can do to help get the word out in the community is what she focuses on.
Jaszy McAllister – Promotions Associate Having seen the show from its beginning stages, rehearsal to now, how it’s grown, I am overwhelmed, so amazed, happy and proud of them. They are such good people. This show should go straight to Broadway and that it launched here in Sarasota is amazing that they chose our location. We are humbled. It’s nice to see a younger crowd, I’m glad to see families, because it’s such a wonderful family show and its summer time, they should bring them to see this. You can’t sit still, you’re probably going to want a dance lesson afterwards – it’s far reaching.
Maurizio Colucci – Theatre Goer
I think it was a fabulous show. My opinion, I think it needed more zest like music, maybe some Latin in between.
Michelle Tetter – Theatre Goer
Thought it was fantastic, you tapped your toes, you clapped your hands, you danced in your seat and it’s appropriate for all ages, very entertaining.
Joey Panek – Theatre Goer What did you think of the show? Oh my God, I loved it! Dayle, I smiled so loudly through the whole thing; you can’t help, but feel joy watching it. – Joey Panek
Joey turns around the question and asks me, “Did you love it?” I say, “I did and I had a perfect view of you, so I was watching your reactions.” (If you know Joey Panek he loves being on stage or in any spotlight for that matter –www.howboutjoey.com). Joey: “You did, oh I was smiling the whole time.” Dayle: “Did you feel me staring at you.” Joey: “No, but I was hoping somebody was because I was having such a good time I felt someone should have seen it.”
What did you think of the costuming? I loved it, there was contemporary and then classic, they kept alternating back and forth and sometimes mixing the two. It was really great, you almost felt like (whether it was true or not) you got to know their personalities by their costuming, how they came out and spoke and how each one got a solo.
Did you feel like you should have been up there with them? I wished that I was at the level that I could’ve been up there with them. It made me wish I could sing and dance all day.
Will you take the Master Tap Class? I wasn’t going to until I saw this, so now I want to.
Have you ever tapped? Yes, I was a taper, not this kind of taper. I can shim sham like nobodies business.
Susan Yanetti –Public Relations Manager Noah Racey’s number is really resonating with all the audiences seeing the show. It provides the emotional connection to Noah Racey and explains where his genius talent comes from. It reminds us that not always is it just something that is taken for granted, but it may be the odd ball or the kid in the corner that you were making fun of that one day will be the genius that was on center stage. It’s a beautiful thing.
Do you think the Asolo took a risk with the show? Of course, it’s brand new material, an original idea something that’s never been done before. This is no template for it. We took a lot of faith and belief in the talent and I am so glad we did because it’s paid off in such a big way.
I saw a post on the internet about someone who said they weren’t interested in going, but once they did they loved it and encouraged others to. Even the woman I sat next to in the theatre stated she didn’t want to come, but by the time it was over she was applauding and smiling.
Yes, and now there glad they did! Were hoping everyone will tell two friends and they tell two friends because we have thirty shows to go. We want everybody that can come see it to please come see it, you will love it. How can you not like song and dance, it’s an International language it doesn’t matter how old you are, what cultural background you come from or what language you speak because there’s rhythm and music, it crosses every barrier there is.
Jeremy Gulotta – Sound Guy I was on stage and every time they had a microphone problem, I was right there. There weren’t many tonight, maybe one or two getting mixed up on the costume somewhere so I had to go there to fix it.
Emarie, my friend and photographer who sat in the mezzanine saw more detail than I sitting in Orchestra, she brings up the shoe microphones, so I ask how many there are. There are one on each foot including the percussionist and drummer as well, and eight microphones underneath the floor.
Do they get damaged on the bottom of the shoe? At first we had a couple of issue, but we moved them so they are more out-of-the-way.
Kevin Kennedy –Sound Designer Rarely is it an easy process; however the end result tonight was everything that I thought it could be. I thought it was perfect. There were a couple mini things that I am picking –adjust this, adjust that, but everything clicked. Jeff the director was right in saying, “Were not going to peak too early,” and we peaked on opening night which is a good time to. I thought the show was amazing, the cast, and the band all amazing.
Will you tweak anything else for future performances? No, traditionally Opening Night is the last night the creative staff perfects the show.
Jason Yudoff – Percussion Tonight was the World Premier of Pulse, how did you feel about the show and the audience’s reaction? Great reaction and crowd, we had two previews this week. Monday night was really good and our first time in front of a live audience, Tuesday was a let down, because it wasn’t the first night, so it was nice to get back here and get that extra energy and now it’s all for real. You can’t start out being perfect; I thought everybody did really well. We are going to just keep working and develop this. My testimonial tonight was worked into the show just three hours ago. We are making changes on the fly, were trying to keep producing and making it better. We are cutting things, adding things –were going to keep mixing it up until we leave here and hopefully go somewhere else. You surprised me when you came down and started dancing as well, you do everything. Your piano playing caught my eye; it’s amazing; fast and passionate. Share with me something you didn’t get to tell people on stage that you think they should know. I don’t any read music at all; I pretty much taught myself how to play everything. Jon Lennon once said, “Give me a tuba and an hour and I’ll get something out of It,” that’s sort of how I look at myself. If you left me alone in a room with a saxophone for an hour, I will come up with some riff that we can sample on a drum kit and turn into a hip-hop song, that is what I love doing the most. That is why I am so glad to be in this show where I get to do so many things. Obviously I’m not in the same category – I wouldn’t call myself a dancer, but I worked with tapers long enough. I did a show called Tap Dogs way back when. You work with a bunch of tap dancer friends; eventually start picking things up. For me it opened my eyes to a whole different form of rhythm. I grew up in NYC and didn’t really hang out with dancers – I played sports and was into music. I didn’t even know about tap dancing. It wasn’t until I did a show with tapers and now the culmination. I’ve known Noah Racey for fifteen years, Christopher Erk I’ve toured with and known since he was fifteen years old. What you see us bantering on stage is for real, we all know each other. Chris and Anthony are best friends, Noah and I are best friends – we’ve all worked together in different venues, we’ve all toured together in different places. We do bring a familiarity to each other on stage and hope that comes through on stage.
I heard a lot of responses of people speaking that they can see Pulse on Broadway. Well, there are a lot of shows good enough for Broadway that never makes it. There are so many random things that have to happen; we have to draw good crowds here, we have to get great reviews, have an open theater and have enough people who want to put money behind it. It’s too much to say, “Oh gosh, I hope we make it to Broadway. Of course we want to, but it’s not anything we spend a lot of time talking about. Would we all love to be there, absolutely it’s the grand scale we can perform for more people. We can’t say if we don’t make it to Broadway that this is a failure, it’s still a great experience.”
Anthony J. Russo – Performer This was one of the most fun shows I’ve been a part of. Being a part of a show from the creation to the reveal on stage, I’ve been a part of three or four now, but this one has the most value to me as far as what I am being able to do on stage, what is being asked of me –everything I can do, I am doing on the stage here and it’s not always the case. You were one of my favorite performers; you caught my eye out of all of them. What’s your inspiration? I look at what everyone else has done and I try to do it for today. I can name a dozen names that really inspire me, people who I reference that I go back and watch footage from 1930’s -1950’s. I take a look at what they did and try to combine it with what I can do today – bring it back with the flavor of 2013. Were you always a performer? At what moment did you know you were going to do this for a living? Yes, always a performer. I was three years old at a dance recital and the only boy in the class and on stage at the end of the routine I bowed about fifteen times and they had to physically remove me from the stage. I think at that point, both my Mother and I knew I that was going to be the case.
Any thoughts on the audience reaction you can share? It was everything we could have hoped. A lot of the comedy and things like that you can only do so much for an empty room. To finally do it for an audience and get that human response, that’s what we were waiting for and I think we’re doing okay.
Lauralyn McClelland – Performer You’re so petite and tiny, I loved your story. How does the audience play a part in your performance? They were very generous. I think they really loved it, I could see it and I know I loved it. After Baby I’m A Fool, I get my robe on and tell my testimony and just the love and applause, somebody yelled out, “You’re amazing.” Well you were absolutely incredible, especially with your solo (Eet), so unexpected, but it was beautiful. You hit every note you sparkled and when they lit the back light you could see through the dress a bit, it was very sexy. That’s my Jessica Rabbit dress.
What’s your favorite part of performing; dancing or singing? I grew up dancing since I was in a diaper, so it’s my first love. Singing I started doing more when I was sixteen and loved getting into that more and more as I’ve gone along. The fact that I get to do both in such a featured way in this show is such a gift. To dance with Noah, he’s my Fred Astaire and I get to be his Ginger Rodgers and that’s a dream come true. How do did you prepare for tonight’s show? I took a nap between rehearsal and the show; we’ve been having rehearsal everyday along with our previews and just making fixings to the show making it perfect for tonight, so our bodies are tired. How will you unwind tonight? We will probably get a drink together or do something together as a cast and then I most likely will conk out from exhaustion, but will call my boyfriend and my Mom and tell them I love them and thank them for the flowers I got today and then conk out because I need more rest.
Noah Racey – Written, Conceived, Choreographer and Performer Thank you for entertaining us. What are you thoughts? My thoughts are tucked somewhere in the back of my head. It went great, the audience was wonderful, I didn’t fall down or forget my words, I was really pleased. I am working with a group of people who make it insanely fun to come and create and do things wrong and get better which is really the crucks of what we do here. It’s all rhythm, timing, the jokes are about rhythm the song – it’s all about Pulse. That’s why having someone like Jeff Calhoun the Director at the helm because he is immeasurably good because he understands how song and dance needs to roll and how spoken word needs to go to movement and how movement comes back to spoken word, it’s not easy. Your spoken words were amazing. The song you were talking about with your ticks brought a tear to my eye and I think it did with a lot of people. The message resonated; I could hear it in the audience and feel it. Where did you come up with that is that your original song? I wanted to be ballsy! I wanted to share something that was a bit raw and exposed. I had that idea in me for a while. I had the idea of putting together all the sounds into something that I can then use which is what I did in my life. A Speech Pathologist came up to me and said, “Have you ever worked with kids,” we had a neat talk about just taking all the chaotic energy that was in me like theatre and drumming – it gave it this structure. That is really what people who deal with stutters or vocal stuff, being human is chaotic and that’s why in the rap I say ‘Every single one of us feels this, some are just closer to the main frame.’ Some of us are just so lit and plugged into this stuff that people who stutter, there are too many thoughts too many feelings, it’s just extraordinary to be human. That was really what I felt I wanted to touch at, universality it’s just hard to doing this.
Noah catches me as I ask him a question and says. you just stuttered saying “and it’s it’s it’s.” You had a lot of ideas, a lot of thoughts, but your mouth hadn’t caught up yet, and you didn’t know exactly what you wanted to say? We all do it, I used to I, I, I, I, like that. Some have it really bad and can’t get past the bubble of emotion and feeling where the word comes from. It’s really weird, it’s it’s (see – like that). That’s what I wanted to touch at, take it out of the hands of the bullying, and take it out of the idea that this is so weird. How do you feel when the audience reacts like that? Oh, happy, happy, happy, it makes me feel happy! Were you happy with the entire show today being the World Premiere? Yes, it felt amazing to do today. It felt really, really moving for me. Some of these numbers I’ve worked on for ten years. Some of these numbers I’ve had with me. A lot of its very new, but a couple of numbers my buddy Jason the percussionist, the man in the audience Ross Paterson who arranged all these pieces with me. We worked on these a while back, this was a dream that started with wouldn’t this be fun to put these on. I’ve been friends with Jeff for many years and Jeff said, ‘Let’s do this,” and here we are. How many years did it take to get to the stage? 42 (laughs) I put together a few numbers three years ago just to have numbers to go overseas with for my company; New York Song and Dance Co. and then it started growing from there. Then in earnest, we were going to be here last season, and then I got a job that pulled me away and that was eventually cancelled. It’s been about two years in the works. If someone wants to be in your shoes, what should they focus on? Just do it, do, get involved, sing, go and dance, burn the ego. Go and get in the dance circle, go and take a voice lesson, feel uncomfortable and burn the ego – the ego will keep you from doing anything. Open yourself up to what challenges you and what scares you.
Frances Bradley – Performer How did you feel about your performance tonight? Felt great, I’ve been challenged a bit because of my knee. I have a dislocated patella which the doctor told me to stay off of, but the show must go on. The feeling of being on stage and being amongst so many great beautiful spirits and Noah and the cast is priceless. Will you make it through thirty more shows? Yes! One of my favorite numbers of yours is when all the men are following you around in; I’ve Got You Under My Skin. Tell me about that. What you don’t know that this is the premier of me singing as a soloist. Before I did this show I auditioned and said hey I’m going to sing. So nobody knows this is my first time singing by myself. It’s a breakthrough for me, I feel so accomplished, blessed and so happy.
What I found amazing is you started breaking out in this fast tap dance and you had on a bustier, I wondered how you stayed in it! That’s when you have to give it up for wardrobe. They made sure I stayed in. What are you looking forward to in Sarasota? My first time here, I’m looking forward to the beach and my parents come in from Michigan tomorrow. I look forward to showing them around and spending more time around the area.
With summer approaching and the kids out of school, take the whole family to see PULSE. Tickets range from $20-$72. and can be purchased by calling (800) 361-8388 or online at http://www.asolorep.org. Pulse closes on June 16th at 2pm so get there as soon as you can!