Thursday, November 29, 2012

Melissa Hart on Hello, Dolly!

Melissa Hart is an actress, singer, and teacher. She made her Broadway debut in 1966 as an ensemble member in Jerry Bock's The Apple Tree. As Barbara Harris's understudy, she replaced the actress as the various heroines in that musical for several performances. 

In 1969 she took over the role of Sally Bowles in the original production of John Kander's Cabaret; a role she had previously performed in the musical's first National Tour. In 1970 she created the role of Meredith in the original Broadway cast of Tom Mankiewicz's Georgy; a performance for which she garnered a Tony Award nomination. She soon after performed the role of Fran Kubelik in the National Tour of Burt Bacharach's Promises, Promises.

John Oxenford
Melissa has also appeared in two productions of Hello, Dolly! Once in college at Boca Raton`s Florida Atlantic University which celebrated its 25th anniversary with Hello, Dolly in 1989!  
The next time Melissa descended those famed stairs, it was as a professional actress, 1999, at Westchester’s Broadway Theater opposite Walter Charles as Horace Vandergelder.

When Hello, Dolly opened in the ‘60s, it was so much a part of America’s consciousness that it was impossible for Melissa not to be aware of it. 
Out of the Broadway Dolly’s, Melissa only saw Ethel Merman. It would not be until the ’94 revival that she would see Carol Channing in the role. 
More about that production later. Melissa was very aware of the show going in to see Merman’s production. Melissa had not performed it yet. 
Melissa does remember the two “new” songs in the show, she songs that were originally written for Ethel but were cut when she declined to do the show originally.  
Melissa thought they were wonderful.
Melissa moved to New York and worked on Broadway in the days before body miking, she studied voice with Ellen Falls at New York City Opera. Melissa was very interested in resonances and she was very aware, at the St. James Theater that Ethel Merman’s voice literally rang off of the back wall. Melissa was stunned and marveled by that. Melissa had been trained classically and was fascinated by Merman’s sound and presence. The show HAD been originally written for Merman.  It was a really great treat. It would be twenty four years before Melissa would see Carol Channing in the role in her final tour. 
 The first time Melissa played Dolly, it was her Master’s Thesis Role at Florida’s Atlantic University which was celebrating its 25th anniversary. It is a huge institution with a wonderful theater department. She did a lot of research going back to when Thornton Wilder wrote The Matchmaker for Ruth Gordon.  The ORIGINAL version was written for a valet, not a woman. Thornton Wilder wrote it for his friend, Ruth Gordon.  He changed the valet to a woman.
 In changing it to a woman who, at that period in history didn’t have a lot of power, a woman who makes her way in the world doing something that she has “cobbled together”, with great spirit, a widow, he gives her great heft. Then there are the love stories. They are parallel , funny, different. They are just grand. There is such optimism in the piece. Then there is the great music for which Melissa feels Jerry Herman has been underrated, although he finally got a Life time Tony Award AND a Kennedy Center Honor. The melancholy of Ribbons Down My Back sung by a young widow also contributes to all of this being a very universal story.

When Melissa portrayed Dolly in college, she was not a kid. She went back to school as an adult to get a Masters in acting/directing because she wasn’t being considered an actress in Florida, she was a “musical theater actress”. There were many factors that drove her back to get her masters. She had great tutelage with Zoe Caldwell with whom she had studied with for three years in south Florida. Melissa was a wife and a mom and a commuting student. Part of the research Melissa did led her to the original one act from 1835, the John Oxenford play, A Day Well Spent
Ruth Gordon as Dolly Gallagher Levi in The Matchmaker
He was an English dramatist, from Camberwell, London, England. Melissa found the play in the fine arts library at the University of Florida. She was able to make a copy of that and include it in her master’s thesis. That was the groundwork from which all of this came. That was so fabulous. That one act is more about the two young men and the valet. Then Tom Stoppard’s version was called On The Razzle
A big part of Melissa’s research also included screening the black and white film version of The Matchmaker starring Shirley Booth and Paul Ford. Her Dolly is so wonderful. There is so much about Dolly, the character, that is not often present in the musical form. Melissa drew from the straight play, especially Shirley Booth’s portrayal. She did the college performance in the midst of all this research. By the time Melissa did it in Westchester, she really KNEW this woman. 
Poster for the original Royal National Theatre production
She was able to say to the costume designer, for example, that she wanted a boa that was really scrawny. She didn’t desire many costumes. It was perfect. Dolly doesn’t have any money. She lives from hand to mouth. There are all of these resplendent productions where there is no attempt to understand who this woman truly is. She can barely rub two nickels together. She keeps on keeping on with a great sense of humor. Melissa would love to do it again to emphasize these aspects even more so. 
Dolly is a mover. She is Irish. She married a Jewish man. At that time, that was pretty heady. She is now a widow to a man who obviously had a great deal of wisdom. Melissa loves the entire speech to him where Dolly is saying goodbye leading into Before the Parade Passes By. There is a lot of depth in this script. There are all kinds of reasons why Hello, Dolly is still done. When it is done in a way in which the creative team really looks at who Dolly truly is, it is even more triumphant.
Westchester came about for Melissa the old fashioned way, she auditioned for it. Melissa feels that it is time for a Broadway revival. It has been seventeen years since it was last seen on Broadway. She thinks Judy Kaye would make a great Dolly. It also depends upon the director. It would be nice to see a director pull out the “not so beautiful” production. Melissa would really love to see a realistic production. Tovah Feldshuh’s Paper Mill Playhouse production went that route. Check out chapter on Tovah Feldshuh.
Paul Ford and Shirley Booth in the film version of The Matchmaker
What were used for Dolly/Melissa’s dumplings? Tissue over light bulbs.
As mentioned earlier, the only Broadway Dolly that Melissa saw prior to taking on the role herself was Ethel Merman. Although Melissa only saw her on stage once, her take is that Merman was always Merman. She was a force on the stage. “She wasn’t a great actress. She didn’t change. She was Merman.”

Melissa has also played Mama Rose. In order to play either of these roles, the actress taking them on has to have total stamina. At the time of Westchester’s Dolly, Melissa was dealing with some vocal technique issues. She was able to fortify what she knew about breath control when she was dragging Walter Charles as Horace around the stage during the Motherhood March. The Westchester Broadway stage is huge. The hat shop scene was relatively small in this proscenium house. 
Mary Martin, one of the many Dollys

It was a three quarters thrust and Melissa is dragging her co stars around the stage. 
It was very taxing. One of the things that Melissa has been doing for some time with both musicals and straight plays is to learn her shows on the treadmill! 
When she was working on cruise ships, she would go down to the gym while people were eating and sing her show full out. On her days when she did two shows, she does a two mile power walk in Manhattan. This would help her to start to warm up vocally. She would then go up to Westchester’s Broadway Dinner Theater. She would do a matinee followed by a one hour power nap. She would get up, have some protein, and do another two mile power walk and warm up at the end of it. 
That’s how she played Dolly Levi! An actress has to be physically fit in order to act and sing that show eight times a week. She doesn’t consider herself any different from any other actress. She just doesn’t have her personal trainer! She has approached all roles since 1986. She started power walking when she was down in Florida.
Pearl Bailey as Dolly
If she had her life to live over, Melissa probably would have stayed in New York the first time. It was an emotional choice and something she had to do at the time. In hindsight, she is grateful she did. As far as her instrument is concerned, she would probably do nothing different. She was very fortunate to have the voice teacher she did. Working with Ellen Fall was instrumental in Melissa desiring to teach voice and she has done so since 1985. She continued to study and work with Richard Miller at Overland Conservatory. 
She was a part of the New York Singing Teachers’ Association. She has worked with wonderful voice researchers and healthy vocal people. Melissa is still interested in that and how people still sing on Broadway and healthfully. She was truly fortunate.  She played 857 performances of Sally Bowles on Broadway in Cabaret. She never missed a performance and she was never unable to sing. In fact, she has never lost her voice or been unable to sing correctly.

The depth of Dolly was so interesting to Melissa because she comes from a place of “less than”, not less than psychologically or physically or emotionally. 
It’s less than because of her economic situation. She has to find things within herself in order to survive. Therefore, she is resilient. She gets a lot of joy out of putting people together. She knows she is good at that. Working on her, Melissa found that everything that she turns her hand to is to help people and to help them find happiness.
Melissa continued to tweak her performance after she opened. She always does.
Melissa’s Horace at the Westchester Broadway Theater was Walter Charles. 
See chapter on him. “He was wonderful!” He was so fantastic. He has a wonderful quality of being a lovely and loving curmudgeon. That is a very special quality. He has gone on to an incredible career since then. Being able to tease and cajole and play around with someone like that on stage is a lot of fun. It IS called a PLAY. She remembers working with him and thinking this is great fun.
The original, Carol Channing
The evolution of Dolly is an interesting journey. She became the central character for a number of reasons. She is a worker among workers. She is humbled in that way. As the song goes, She Puts Her Hand In. She makes things happen but she needs people in order for things to happen. Melissa has been fortunate to do a lot of work on stage. 

One thing that Dolly and Melissa have in common is that Melissa, too, is a worker among workers. 

Melissa will look people in the eyeball and work with them. Melissa has a desire to always be there for others.  
Dolly reinforced that with her. 

Melissa is constantly drawn back to the fact that Dolly is a survivor. 
She is more a survivor than a manipulator. She’s a manipulator in a good way. She’s not a manipulator to hurt anyone. When she manipulates, it’s for their own good. Audiences are drawn to Dolly’s ability to laugh at herself. 
Ginger Rogers replaced Carol Channing on Broadway
When she realizes that she needs to let go and to be let go from her late husband, which is a very important thing. A lot of people have had that life experience.
Melissa has worked in MANY dinner theaters. The worst part of that experience is slipping on the mushrooms when you are rushing through the kitchen to make an entrance.

As mentioned earlier, Melissa saw Carol Channing in the 1995 Broadway revival. Melissa was concerned for Carol as she watched that production. 
She was concerned for her safety. Watching her, Melissa realized the legacy. She was and is respectful of that. Melissa needed to see her do it. It wasn’t her Dolly. Of course, it wouldn’t be. 
It was really hard to have a free look at it because Melissa had a lot of concerns about the production.
As of this writing, Melissa just recently played Big Mama in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Guthrie. She is hired in the Twin Cities more as an actress than a “musical comedy actress.” Because of the Guthrie’s position there, there is more straight theater than musical. 

Martha Raye replaced Ginger Rogers
Melissa believes that Dolly is as grand and as pivotal and as iconic a character as Lady Bracknell, for example. Melissa doesn’t find any difference and her approach is no different with either medium.
These days, Melissa has a private studio. 

She still explores a composer’s writings in terms of the subtext of a song. She is still very interested in all of this. In fact, as of this writing, she is currently involved in a reading of a brand new piece being presented in the Twin Cities. She is also developing her own piece about a torch singer.
Melissa feels that she has an obligation to the next generation to make them aware of the theater tradition that she came through. 
She is now working at a Performing Arts High School having been a college professor in her “other life”. She has been at this performing arts high school in St. Paul now for four years. She is the chair of musical theater. These kids know her resume. She doesn’t let them forgot what came before. She teaches an introduction to musical theater. These are high school kids. They have to know the legacy. Theater students know that it comes from the Greeks. Musical Theater students should all know from whence it came. She wants these kids to know who the composers are, what they’ve written, and why it is so important.
Betty Grable and Max Showalter led the third cast
When Hello, Dolly starring Melissa Hart and Walter Charles closed at Westchester’s Broadway Theater, several of the ensemble received their Equity card. That was very important to Melissa.
When Melissa was in grad school, she was in Josh Logan’s last musical. 
She worked with Howard Da Silva who had been blacklisted during the McCarthy era. It was a production about Huckleberry Finn. This actor played the King. He read a passage about “how this came to be.” This young kid playing Finn said, “Let’s just skip that.” Da Silva responded, “Absolutely not. You have to know what we fought for and why we are here.”
So when these new Equity members emerged from Westchester Broadway Theater, it was really important to Melissa. When she did Dolly at Boca Raton`s Florida Atlantic University , it was a celebration of this theater department.  Over the course of her career there have been so many openings and closings that she no longer gets emotional. 
Groucho Marx visits Broadway's sixth Dolly, Phyllis Diller
That being said, both of these productions are very special to her. At the University, she had this wonderful costume designer who was superb. She had a huge hat with a bird on it. She hated to let go of that. Both productions are now in her memory bank.
Regarding both costume designers, Melissa knows and respects that they have a vision for the piece. Having directed, she is very interested in what their vision is. It is a very collaborative art form.  When she went to the costume designer at Westchester and shared her thoughts on the look and feel of Dolly, it was amazing that he got that right away. It really helped her in playing the part the way she felt HER Dolly needed to be played.
Hello, Dolly, to Melissa Hart, was an enriching experience. That included the ability to play such a rich leading role in a musical in which the character is warm, supportive, and nurturing , and overcoming a lot of odds. Melissa dug deep in the text and research to pull everything out of this woman and out of the character that maybe the audience had not been privy to before and they were better for it! 
The only Dolly Melissa saw on Broadway, the one Hello, Dolly was written for, Ethel Merman!

Thank you Melissa Hart for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating my forthcoming book on Hello, Dolly!
I want this to be a celebration of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you! I am not an expert...I am an enthusiast!

If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
My next blog will be...My exclusive interview with Joel Hatch on Hello, Dolly!

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Richard Skipper,                            
This Blog is dedicated to ALL THE DOLLYS and ANYONE who has EVER had a connection with ANY of them on ANY Level!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Julie Reyburn!

Multi-Award winning singer and recording artist Julie Reyburn brings her acclaimed show, Winter Songs to Urban Stages   Friday Dec. 7th  at 7PM.
Joining her will be Mark Janas as Musical Director with special guest, Joshua Dixon.
 Winter Songs is a show Mark Janas and Julie created along with Lennie Watts for Feinstein's last winter.  The focus was to take the audience on an emotional journey of what winter is all about: family, celebration, tradition, and then the new year.  At the time Julie was 6 months pregnant with her son, Jude so the show took on even deeper meaning for her.
A major portion of this journey was showcasing new songs by New York based composers/songwriters.
A few of the songs were actually written for the show.  Julie gave each writer an idea and it went from there.
The result was so special and really exciting.  It was very special to perform the show with the writers in the audience.

Explore the beauty and joy of the season with classics old and new from Maury Yeston and Comden and Green, to new compositions by New York based composers and lyricists; Napolitano and Ward, Bill Zeffiro, Mary Liz McNamara, Brett Kristofferson and Scott Evan Davis.
Julie and I sat down recently to dig a little deeper and celebrate her body of WORTH! Today, I celebrate Julie Reyburn!
When it comes to a personal creed or motto in her life, Julie Reyburn has so many but the one that rises above all others is, “We believe what we tell ourselves.” It is something she tells herself every day as she tries to live in a positive way telling her that she is important. 
 She is worthy of great things. She is lovable. The time is NOW. She says we all can use all of those affirmations in our daily lives in how we choose to live our lives. She believes we definitely tell ourselves. As a parent, another quote that she loves to live by is that she is basically an observer in her children’s lives. Her job is to guide them but not live their lives for them.  She lives that credo role in her duel role as a an artist and a human being and as a mother. 
It continues. It all started for Julie because of her parents. Her parents were a folk rock duo in the early ‘70s. They were called Brandywyne. Instead of leaving her home with her Aunt Georgie to take care of her ,they had Julie miss kindergarten and they took her on the road with them for the better part of the year when she was six. It was an amazing experience. They would take her on stage with them or they would leave her with the babysitter while they went to do their gigs. 
The bottom line was she got to be with them and tour around the country. It was always in Julie’s mind to be an entertainer. 
Watching her parents do it, it was just a natural progression.

The turning point in Julie’s life that made her to decide to forge ahead took place in 1995. 
She was on a tour of A Christmas Carol with American Family Theater. It was a great group of people and she is still friends with all of them today. They were all trying to get their Equity Eligibility. Back then once one got enough hours and/or salary, they could get their Equity cards. That would allow them all to go to “professional” auditions in New York. Julie was still living in Massachusetts at the time. 
One of the people on the tour knew of a sublet that had just opened in New York. Julie and another girl decided they were going to go for it. Julie quit her job, broke up with her boyfriend, sold her car, put everything she could into the back of her dad’s station wagon, and he drove her to New York City. On March 7th, 1996, she found herself in that sublet on West 48th Street. Ironically, that is directly across the street from her daughter’s elementary school. 
Her dad dropped her off with nothing more than her clothes and her music. The two of them took around midtown, he wished her luck, and he was on his way and there she was.
The most embarrassing thing that ever happened to Julie took place back in Massachusetts. She had a quick change.  She had to get out of one dress and into another. She was to go out, sit on the piano, and sing The Music That Makes Me Dance.
They could not get the zipper up and it was a strapless dress. She had to walk out holding up the dress with her elbows.  Someone had to place her on the piano and she had to sell the song and not show her boobs. It was hilarious and the piano player was trying not to crack up. She was mortified but it was a lesson in focus.
The trajectory of Julie’s career began with singing with her parents, then singing in the choir in school, and doing musicals, taking voice lessons, going to college to be a music therapist and a music teacher.
Julie decided not to go to conservatory because she wanted a liberal arts education. She continued to study voice and continued to do musicals and theater around the Boston area. She then had the opportunity to go to New York as stated above. She went on auditions. As a result, she did tours and regional productions. Ellie Ellsworth of the Cabaret Symposium heard Julie sing at Birdland, after she had won an award from the Singers Forum, and invited her to audition. That is when cabaret came into Julie’s life. She did the O’Neill in 1998.
She worked with wonderful teachers and artists. The art form struck her and it was a good fit for the kind of entertainer she is and she turned to cabaret. It took off. It was the perfect niche for her. From that, she did readings of new musicals and fringe festivals and got higher level auditions for Broadway and off-Broadway. While she hasn’t gotten cast for a Broadway show, her singing and her cabaret work has given her an opportunity to audition for major people which has been very exciting. She has also sung in major rooms in NYC like Feinstein’s.
She has recorded some cds and worked with great musicians. She keeps going, doing what she loves and makes her feels good.
Julie has two young kids at home. There is no such thing as a routine when it comes to working on her craft. She grabs those moments when she can. She also has a full time job outside the business. Her family comes first. She will lull her son, Jude, to sleep by running lyrics. As she washes dishes and other assorted activities, she multi-tasks while running lyrics in her head. For Julie, it takes away the nervousness of “Oh my God, I have to work on my craft.” It makes it more an everyday occurrence. 
Sondheim! — with Molly Pope, Julie Reyburn, Timothy Oliver Reid, Stephanie D'Abruzzo and Lucia Spina.(Photo taken by Phil Geoffrey Bond)

She tries to bring her “real life” into her craft. It makes it stick better and it also makes it more real. What artists do is shed light through the windows of real life. Her job as an artist is to share her journey and have the audience identify with the emotions that we all have as human beings. She walks to work with her IPod on running lyrics and singing out loud. People walking past her think she’s crazy but she has to take it when she can get it. She tries to incorporate her life and art at every opportunity. As a result, she feels she is a more accessible entertainer.

With Scott Coulter, Bill Daugherty, Jack Noseworthy, Julie Reyburn, Carole J. Bufford, Noah Racey, Milla Ilieva and Michael Winther at Feinstein's at Loews Regency The Nightclub of New York.(Photo credit Russ Weatherford)
When it comes to dispensing advice for anyone desiring to follow in HER footsteps is to first of all know who you are, what’s important to you, and what your priorities are, and then try to balance all of that. Only do those things that mean a lot to you in your heart of hearts.
That is basically what your mission statement is. If you don’t have a mission statement, you really need to sit down and think about it. Julie’s is to do good work with good people. She desires to take the talent God has given her to make people happy and to bring about positive change. In that, she picks projects that fit within that paradigm and also picks people to work with that desire to do that as well.
Remembering that she has a family, all of this HAS to be balanced. She admits that it is much easier without kids. One is able to travel more and practice their craft a lot easier in different areas than she can right now. She chose this. She desired to get married and be a mom. She desired to have it all and that was a big goal of hers. She has always been a multi –tasker, that’s her nature. It’s not for everyone!  It is definitely something that takes a lot of work and a lot of prioritizing. Once again, you really have to know who you are and ask those questions of yourself. Is this something you really want to do? Is it going to be fair to you? Is it going to be fair to your kids? Is it going to be fair to your partner? Those are the soul searching questions and all of these questions are based on that one over arching mission statement that you have in your life…as an entertainer, as a human being, as an entrepreneur.
A business plan has to also be in effect. JULIE REYBURN LIVE from Julie Reyburn on Vimeo.
Julie would love to meet Bonnie Rait. Her father was John Rait and she has that experience of being the daughter of an entertainer. She is a great songwriter. She knows about sticking it out and being who she is. She has ebbs and flows, not to mention all those Grammys! She calls the shots. It’s not another record label, it’s not a bunch of corporate suits, it’s her.  

From the musical/theater world, Julie would love to meet Patti LuPone (who happens to be singing in the background as I type these words!). Julie has seen her and even has her autograph. Julie loves her autobiography, as do I! She is another strong willed woman who lives by her own mission statement.
Julie is most proud of the work she has done with Mark Janus, her musical director.
She likes to call him her musical husband. Over the years they have worked on arrangements together and done shows that have lived on. They have been able to pull from different shows and arrangements that are really close and dear to their hearts.
They still continue to have ideas.
My next question is from actress and singer Linda Purl. Who does Julie pray to when she is in trouble? She calls “it” spirit.
The one change that Julie would like to see in today’s industry is the importance of individuality. People in this business on both sides of the footlights are intimidated by individuality. They think it’s not going to make money. When someone comes along that IS a real individual and succeeds, everyone tries to copy that. Artists are bending to try and be like Adele or Amy Winehouse or someone else rather than embracing who they are.

In terms of marketing and promoting herself, Julie has embraced social media. It is easy for her. She can do things quickly, especially with her busy schedule. On her lunch hour, she sends out evites and puts information on Facebook. She can post it on her artist page. There is a site called Reverb Nation that she posts on. That keeps track of her shows, how many people show up, and where they are. She also utilizes Twitter. Hector Coris has created a “web card” for her. She has created a newsletter on Rein uses it for Julie's Marquee Five newsletter...She finds it very user friendly. You can have up to 2,000 on this list.
With Scott Coulter, Bill Daugherty, Jack Noseworthy, Julie Reyburn, Carole J. Bufford, Noah Racey, Milla Ilieva, Michael Winther and Scott Siegel at Feinstein's at Loews Regency The Nightclub of New York.(Photo credit Russ Weatherford)
Photo credit: Russ Weatherford
Once you surpass that, they start charging. It keeps track of who signs up and  it notifies you of out of date email addresses. It is a great tool and Julie just recently started using it. She also is part of the MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Google group. She has hard copy cards that she drops at wherever the gig is and around town. She takes advantage of open mics around town.
She announces from the stage where she’ll be appearing. It’s wonderful when people are seeing her for the first time that she doesn’t know. She tries to get out and do actual appearances here and there.
She gives out cards. These days she can’t get out as much. She really does rely on social media. She sends out press releases about a month prior to an appearance.
 To all my singer friends out there, this is how Julie deals with throat ailments. She learned this from her allergist. Drain the juice of a fresh lemon. Take multi vitamins loaded with “C” and honey down the throat. Julie does that for three days in a row twice a day.

Nine times out of ten, her cold will be gone or it won’t last as long. She concentrates on her breathing and drinks lots of tea. She tries to get as much rest as she can. She finds that if you focus so much on the fact that you’re sick and not being able to sing, you WON’T be able to sing. Mind over matter: “This is something that is just moving through me and I can sing over it.” Everything is going to be fine nine times out of ten. Julie can still sing through a cold. A lot of it is psychological.
What inspires Julie?
 She loves dance. She loves watching dance interpret music. She can imagine lyrics in her head. It adds a new dimension at “looking” at music. She also loves rock and roll and folk music. That is what she grew up with. Her husband, Thor, plays guitar in a Led Zeppelin cover band. They inspire her.  All of this teaches her to be freer on stage and not to be so strict with rhythms, to interpret more, and not to be right all the time.
When putting a new show together, Julie always has a running list of songs that she wishes to sing. She draws upon that list. She brings new music to Mark Janus and they sit down and start going through different ideas. Usually a theme presents itself organically.
Julie and ME!
They then try to stick with that theme or Julie’s point of view in terms of what she desires to say with that show. She brings in a director with a third eye to let her know if it is making sense, the flow of the show, the arc, the journey. The song choices AND the patter has to be important.
She rehearses what she is going to say and then lets it go. The last two shows that Julie have done have been directed by Lennie Watts. Her voice teacher is Bill Zeffiro and he also contributes to her shows. He is also a great songwriter and she has been featuring his songs in a few shows.
Lennie Watts is able to bring out the best in Julie, who she really is. He has this ability to key in on what her strengths are. He brings that out in how she puts a song across.
If it is not coming across as truthful or honest, he will let her know.
Preparing for an appearance, Julie, once again, runs the lyrics through her head. She basically reads everything out like a full monologue with lyrics and patter.

She tries to do that at least two or three times the day of the show.
She tries to get enough sleep which is sometimes difficult.
She now averages between four and five hours of sleep each night.
She tries to get her head in a space to clear it. If she is nervous, she tries to remind herself to use the nervous energy rather than have it work against her. She tries to remember to have fun.
Is there an entertainer that Julie wishes she had seen live?

Yes, a full Rosemary Clooney show, Elvis (especially his Vegas shows), Ella Fitzgerald, Janis Joplin, Sinatra’s 60th birthday comeback concert, the real greats. There is an energy that doesn’t come across on film.
As an entertainer, Julie’s fondest memory is performing with her parents. They shaped her for who she is today.
Off stage, her fondest memories are marrying her husband, Thor, and giving birth to her two children. Those are life changing experiences she would not trade for anything.  
He is the reason she can still perform...his support keeps her going.

Julie Miller (Producer of the 2011 MAC Awards show), Julie Reyburn and Mark Janas
 Wednesday December 5th @ 7pm @ Urban Stages
"Songs from a Wedding, A Penthouse and a Pinocchio"
Julie will be performing excerpts from three original musicals
by Peter Napolitano, Barry Levitt, Mark Janas and Matthew Martin Ward:
Featuring Robert Cuccioli!

Tickets for Winter Songs: 212-868-4444 or
Urban Stages - 259 West 30th Street (between 7th & 8th Ave.).

Thursday December 13th @ 7pm @ Urban Stages

ALSO:THE GOOD GIRL, an original musical by Mary Liz McNamara - in a concert version at Urban Stages as part of their wonderful Winter Rhythms series.

Raissa Katona Bennett
Leo Ash Evens
Ritt Henn
Mary Liz McNamara
Tanya Moberly
Julie Reyburn
Tracy Sallows
James Stephens

Musical Direction by Beth Falcone

THE GOOD GIRL is about family, love and other really messy problems, in the here and hereafter. A daughter is left to care for her impossibly difficult father, as her newly-dead mother watches from that great jazz club in the sky, under the tutelage of a cool-cat Bass Player.

Tickets $25

Thank you Julie Reyburn for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating my forthcoming book on Hello, Dolly!
I want this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!

Do you have any pics to share?
If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
My next blog will be...My exclusive interview with Melissa Hart on Hello, Dolly!

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Richard Skipper,                            
This Blog is dedicated to ALL THE DOLLYS and ANYONE who has EVER had a connection with ANY of them on ANY Level!