Happy Sunny Saturday!! Are you ready for the next Spotlight coming up this Friday March 16th? I am totally excited and I can't to wait to see you with us at the SPOTLIGHT and I am so excited to share with you all, my next featured celebrity performer, the immensely talented and wonderful Gretchen Reinhagen! I am honored and delighted to have her as our Spotlight featured guest!
For those of you who do not know Gretchen very well, here are some tidbits about her: Gretchen Reinhagen is a multi-award winning artist, receiving the coveted TRIPLE CROWN of cabaret awards in 2010 - the Nightlife Award, Bistro Award and MAC Award - for her show “Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard” directed by Barry Kleinbort, with Musical Director David Gaines. Gretchen has worked with some of the biggest names in cabaret including Steve Ross and Karen Mason. Her shows cover a broad range of material from Musical Comedy to Blues and Rock. Former Back Stage and Citysearch critic Roy Sander said, “Gretchen Reinhagen's shows are marked by intelligence, warmth, a lovely spirit of benevolence, and fine vocals. It is always a pleasure to spend an hour in her company.”As both a singer and an actress, she's performed in a broad range of theaters and concert halls from the House of Blues in New Orleans to the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, Scotland. A few of her favorite professional theater credits include Janis Joplin in Beehive, Louise Segar in Always Patsy Cline, Domina in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the lead role of the therapist in the premiere of Mother Me Therapy at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York, and the Queen Mother in the European premiere of Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.Equally at home as a teacher, Gretchen maintains a private voice studio in New York and is also available for master classes.
I discovered Gretchen way back at the Singers Forum when she was one of the faculty. Occasionally, she would sing at the Singers Forum Open Mic, hosted by John Koprowski and I. The first time I heard her sing, I was floored! Gretchen is the "real deal" all around! Everyone was captivated! Over the years, I've gotten to know her a bit more and Gretchen is not only intelligent but warm, caring, funny and super supportive! I've seen and videoed many shows directed, performed by Gretchen and loved them all!!
For this interview, I had great fun asking her the following questions which I am sure many of you do not have answers for:
1) Can you share with us a couple of interesting facts that most people don’t know about you?
Well, from a completely non-artistic place in my life (although it certainly required its own share of artistry!): I grew up on a horse farm housing anywhere from 30-40 horses at any given time. Over the years I competed in a variety of equestrian styles from hunters and jumpers to reining horses and barrel racers. I equally embraced my inner cowgirl and my snooty fox hunter side. (I’ve never chased an actual fox except away from the chickens.) As a teenager, my family got involved in polo and it quickly became a sport I loved and excelled at. I was named to the Women’s Interscholastic All-Star team in the 80s, which is sort of polo’s equivalent of “All American”… but with a slightly smaller pool of competitors….
2) You are a wonderful entertainer, teacher, director and SO much more. How did it all start? How did you discover your passion for it all and realize that it was what you wanted to do?
Well first – thank you! That really means a lot to me. I love what I do, and I’ve been so appreciative of both the opportunity to work, and the positive feedback.
I’ve actually been a teacher for a huge chunk of my life. Even as a teenager, I taught riding lessons. Both of my parents where public school educators, and after college I taught K-12 music in the public schools. I also directed high school musicals. I started teaching private voice in the mid-90s and then added cabaret classes and direction to the repertoire around 2009 or 10. It’s just a medium I’ve always been drawn to, and if nothing else, I might always be a teacher. It’s one of the most rewarding (and frustrating!) parts of my life.
On the performing side of my life – my father knew I was a singer from a very young age, and while I did sing along with his band as a 5 year, when I started school, I seemed to forget I was a singer and spent a lot of time focusing on instruments such as flute. It wasn’t until I was about 12 that my father broke the news to me that I was in fact a singer. I looked at him like he was crazy, but went ahead and joined the choir anyway, and all of a sudden realized it was everything to me. I’ve been singing ever since. Those are actually some of my favorite kinds of epiphanies. I had a voice teacher in college who never sang until college. She went to school on an accordion scholarship! After she got to school they dropped the accordion program and told her to just sing instead. So she auditioned for the voice department with a polka. She turned out to be a glorious soprano who went on to have a wonderful career. Now, as far as being an actor is concerned, I honestly should’ve known based on my performance as a violinist alone! In my first grade recital, I’m telling you, I perfectly impersonated a violinist who was actually playing!
3) Do you have a couple of particularly interesting stories that you'd like to share with the readers?
Ha! Where do I start! My most recent show was filled with a lot of zany stories. I had many people come up to me and ask which stories where true or which I elaborated on for comic effect. IT WAS ALL TRUE!!! Honestly, I can’t make up the ridiculousness in my life. It just finds me. One of my favorite stories in the show is about sitting at a coffee shop in Grand Central with a friend, when suddenly a topless woman just strolled through Grand Central like nothing was out of the ordinary. Half the people around her didn’t even notice. Then all of a sudden she stopped and pulled out a shirt from her bag and put it on! Had she just forgotten???? AND – I had a dream the night before about running through Grand Central topless! Seriously – who do these things happen to??? Only in New York.
By the way…. You weren’t looking for a profound story, where you?
4) What motivates your creativity and passion for life? Name three things that never fail to put a smile on your face!
The first question is a tough one. I get inspiration from so many sources. Sometimes it’s a song heard in the subway, or a spectacular show. My clients are hugely inspirational to me. Watching them “get it” and succeed is one of the biggest drivers for me to keep going in life. Often, in terms of my comedy, it’s something I witness on the street, in the office, in the studio, etc. Sometimes it’s pain and fatigue. Always it’s love in some form or fashion.
In terms of 3 things that put a smile on my face:
My beautiful wife, when she doesn’t know I’m watching (wait… is that creepy?)
Witnessing something hilarious in my day to day travels, or something hilarious from my Sassy cat, and knowing I’ve just found a new joke
Spending time with friends. (My marriage and my friends are the most important things in my life. Even before my music and comedy which is kind of equivalent to breathing for me.)
5) Share with us what you have in the pipeline for us to be on the lookout for!
First of all – only a fellow corporate day-jobber would ask me about the “pipeline” and I LOVE it! The biggest thing in the pipeline is my new CD. I’m going into the studio this week for the last few recording to-do’s and then the post production work begins. I’m truly excited about this! Originally I anticipated a spring 2018 release, but it will now be a summer or fall event. I expect to be finished by late spring, but the release date will be somewhat driven by availability and venue. I have a huge team that works all the time (because they’re really $%%&! good!!!). I want to make sure they’re all a part of the grand finale of this project. I HAVE to release it by the fall as far as I’m concerned because I’m approaching the 2 year mark from inception to product, and that’s long enough!
In the immediate pipeline are 4 new client shows in the works as well as the MAC Awards at month-end where I been nominated in the musical comedy category. I have clients, colleagues and friends (like you!) also nominated and it’s going to be a wonderful night.
Lastly, I’ll be doing a showcase with my clients and close friends on my birthday, June 7th @ Don’t Tell Mama, and I’m already excited about that!
Are you excited to come see for yourself on Friday? I cant wait! Come join the Spotlight family, share your music and meet Gretchen Reinhagen and Andrew David Sotomayor! I guarantee that you will not regret it!