This has been another banner week for “Hereafter Musical” (G-d we hope the show is as good as this week was). We are getting responses from people we’ve known for ages, people we’ve just met and even from people we don’t know. We still haven’t heard from the people who need people because I guess they are the luckiest people in the world and don’t need us. You will see more details on our growing fan club in the weekly “roll call” below but just to tease: one of them co-wrote the funniest movie of all time (when I tell you the film you will agree); one of them has an intimate relationship with my mouth (sounds worse than it really us); one of them has a father who also has an intimate relationship with some of my other body parts (you really have to trust me]; one of them works very closely with one of the greatest bands of all time [again you’ll agree]; one of them breast fed me [as bad as it sounds] and two of them have covered my songs!
Real Feel Numbers
So you know how those weather folks have that new way of telling you what the weather is like by referring to it as the “real feel” temperature? I hated that expression till this week when I realized that our Kickstarter dollar ticker is NOT accurate. Thanks to the growing amount of checks from some of the “cookie people” (you know who you are) and folks like my Mom who emails the old fashioned way with stamps…our “real feel” dollar amount is actually: $36, 880! We have 34 days to hit our goal of $60,000 and we’re more than half way there so keep this clicks and checks coming in (cookies be damned!!!)
Meet The Cast - Meet The Characters
This is the first in a series of little bios that will introduce you to our amazing cast; the characters they play (who in some cases are also actual people) and the creative team behind the show.
Meet Deborah Tranelli [Sypie Fishman]. Deborah is the queen of all mediums. Her shining talent has graced the little screen (eleven seasons on “Dallas” as Bobby Ewing’s loyal assistant Phyllis Wapner!!!]; “Law And Order”, “Three’s Company”, “Hart To Hart”, “Circus Of The Stars”!!!!! etc. She’s graced the stage [most recently as Velma Von Tussle in “Hairspray”] preceded by a long run off-Broadway in “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime”. She graced the big screen while recently starring in the independent short film “Pas D'Un”. She’s played with the NY Pops at Carnegie Hall and AND her CD “A Lot Of Livin” received many wonderful reviews and won the Backstage Bistro Award. I HIGHLY recommend this CD. It’s an excellent collection of songs including “Rewriting History” by non other that Stephen Schwartz [“Godspell”, “Pippin”, “Wicked”). Stephen is such a fan that he personally played a dozen songs from his catalog for Deborah for her to choose from and graciously contributed a liner note!
Our time spent with Deborah has been nothing short of amazing. Her two songs stop the show. In the “The Toe Tag Tango” (which was written with Frankie Keane) Deborah kicks the show into second gear and brings Act One to its cliff-hanging ending. And in “That’s My Life”, she brings the house down, as her character looks back on a wonderful life of milestones against a backdrop of old 8mm projections of home movies. When you watch the video you’ll notice that Deborah tears up near the end. Deborah; "This is a touching song describing Sypie's life in flashback memories. The lyrics in the chorus ‘You can take my breath away but not my memories’ struck a very deep emotional place as I suddenly felt that I was not only singing for her but for my father who had passed away a couple of years before that. He, like Sypie, had lived a full and rich life in the ways that matter most (family and friends), and I suddenly missed him so very much. I also truly believe that our souls are forever connected to those we love and that death cannot sever those bonds."
Deborah Tranelli Performs "That's My Life"
Deborah Tranelli Performs "The Toe Tag Tango"
Meet Shea Hess
[Debbie]. Shea has been with the show from the very beginning (2007). Lots of times it was just the two of us in a small rehearsal space [Shetler!!!] work shopping not just her songs from the show but also everyone else’s songs (because there was no “everyone else” yet!). We were so lucky to have someone with her talents be the voice of the show in that crucial first year. At that point she had toured as Maureen in one of my favorite shows [“Rent”] …including a series of shows in Japan. She’s appeared in NY/Regional productions of: “Cabaret” (Rosie), “Brunch” (Brandi), “Quiet Cry” (Emma), “Metropolis” (Jade). She’s been a regular on VH!’s “Best Week Ever”. But I think one of our favorite Shea roles (next to that of Debbie) is as the host and co-creator (with her insanely talented husband Raphael) of "Hungry In Brooklyn". She sings, she cooks, she’s beautiful…is there anything this girl can’t do?
Working with Shea has been a joy. Shea had a blind faith in the story and the music and in a process that was pretty unorthodox. Shea; “Working with Vinnie has been the most unique and rewarding experience. His creativity is amazing and his spirit infectious - the first time we ever rehearsed the song "Lost," it was just with a lyric sheet and Vinnie humming me a melody a cappella. The music continued to evolve, and then Frankie came along and breathed even more life and melody into this already gorgeous music. I am inspired by Vinnie and Frankie everyday and believe in them and this show with my whole heart.
Shea Hess Performs "Lost"
Meet Sypie and Debbie
While “Hereafter Musical” is billed as fiction, there are more real life elements in the show than you might think (notwithstanding the singing spirits)! And even though Frankie and I have infused many of our life (and death) experiences in each of our characters there are several that are based on actual people which is the case here with Sylvia (Sypie] Fishman and her daughter Debbie. Sypie is based on my mother-in-law and Debbie on my wife. And they couldn’t be in better hands than Deborah Tranelli and Shea Hess.
Debbie Slotin Favale With Her Mom Sylvia [aka Sypie]
In the show, Debbie is a thirty something “mother to be” who lost her mother Sypie three months ago. Her mom gave her everything she could ever want in life and she feels guilty that she let her down in the end. Sypie is a sixty something, funny and sassy Brooklyn born real estate entrepreneur who ended up in Savannah Georgia raising three kids on her own. Debbie is desperate to make contact with her mom. She is one of the three women who is part of the group reading with the psychic Jason Richards. This the first time that she has ever been to a psychic and is convinced that Jason holds the key to unlock the mystery of life after death. She just barely made it to her mother’s side when she died and is hoping that her spirit comes through so that she could say a proper goodbye. As for Sypie, she is still overwhelmed by “this whole ghost thing” and is struggling with trying to find a way comfort her daughter while also moving on herself.
ROLL CALL OF THANKS FOR WEEK #3
Barry & Holly - Holly is a new BFF. We just met recently through some very close friends in that we have common (now we have each other in common!). And thanks to Holly we have her incredible mom in our lives (Dolly, our number one fan). Barry is pretty great too! Now can you imagine if they we're related to me...hmmm Holly and Dolly Favale...has a nice ring to it!
Andrew Donchin - We started as colleagues but we quickly upgraded to friends! Andy is a big fan and supporter of what we’re doing.
Sara Matheu & Jon Harris - Old friends from the Stern K-Rock days who now are both HUGE players at Sara Lee (yep she is THAT Sara ;). And on top of that, Jon was one of the first people I turned to, to sing some of the songs from the show. He has an amazing voice, which you can witness for yourself on this early demo of "Take My Life" from the show.
Tim Kennedy - I have been in a dark room with Tim for one hour every day for the past 15 years! Relax there are women in there too…. and it's not Scores! It’s in the control room of the Late Show where Tim is the Emmy winning tech director.
Rich and Peggy Bonapace Gelfond - She is a force of nature. I think she's taking True Blood because she has the boundless energy and drive of a small vampire army. Her daughter Rachel is hands down one of the coolest girls I know and her husband Rich runs a little company called IMAX. IMAX is such a big company they invented ALL CAPS (at least that’s what I read on the internet)! Thanks guys.
Robyn Stecher - Another powerhouse....we once spent a beautiful night at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (totally legit I swear). Thanks Robyn!
Jonathan Klein - Jon is a great writer, a great friend and of all the Jonathan Kleins in the Manhattan phone book is by far the most entertaining! I see big things for this Klein kid…"stay tuned"!
Cliff and Christine Hansen - Cliff and I were a couple long before his beautiful wife Chris came on the scene. In the mid 70s we were in a 80s rock band! Cliff is the stud in the front!!!
Jeff Gross - I've only been in the same room with Jeff twice but somehow he's loomed large in three music milestones in our life. He co-produced one of the best versions of "Restless, Restless" by Frankie Doll; he produced a song I co-wrote that was a musical intervention we did for Brittney Spears (also performed by Frankie Doll) AND he engineered the session that yielded this amazing vocal from Carol Dennis on the song "Someday" from the show (Carol is the second woman on the video). Jeff is three for three...can't wait to hear what we do next!!
Kelly & Carolyn Favale-Curtis - Here's the answer to that "Greatest band" tease. Carolyn is my impossibly sweet and beautiful cousin and Kelly is my cousin-in-law and the wind beneath the wings of one of music's greatest bands.... Pearl Jam. They are rock & roll’s first couple! Don’t miss the documentary coming out soon, directed by Cameron Crowe, that celebrates Pearl Jam’s 20th anniversary.
Rohit Sang – He is a brilliant writer, animator, producer, editor, Webmaster, damn handsome and one of the nicest guys we know...sorry girls he's taken! And if that's not enough he introduced us to Shea (who you just met if you've been reading this in order!).
Barbara Abseck - A long time friend and colleague with impeccable tastes...we must be good!
Angelique O'Neil - Another new BFF. She walked into my office one day and enveloped me in her halo of energy (sorry I've been reading too many new age books). Trust me, you’ll know what I mean when you meet her.
Kim and Gregg Hess - Besides being two of the sweetest people we know, they are also happen to be Shea's parents. They have been part of all of our milestones and are as proud of our show as they are of Shea!
Mom - Yep that's her...she goes by one name. Just like "Cher". She's the inspiration for so much in this show...more than I can put into words. And in spite of everything she's been through in life she can still make us laugh.
Victoria Ashby – She is such a fan of the music that she DEMANDED her CD RIGHT AWAY…she used all CAPS so she REALLY MEANS IT! Who are we to argue. Hey Victoria; the CD is ON THE WAY!!!
Eileen DeNobile – Eileen and I spent a memorable night on a battleship (it’s true…the Intrepid). But we survived it and we are much closer because of it!
Dave Cooner – David is a lot like me…he gives up much of his valuable time for a non-profit. His non-profit is the beautiful Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. Mine is the unintended non-profit known as “Hereafter Musical”.
Jeff Stillman – Jeff has the honor of finishing in the top three of the “Restless, Restless” contest that was featured on the Howard Stern show (where he performed his version of the song!). He gave Robert Goulet a run for his money! He is also a pretty damn great songwriter himself.
Norman Steinberg – This man not only co-wrote one of THE funniest movies of all time (drum roll) “Blazing Saddles” (see I told you) he also co-wrote another classic “My Favorite Year”. He has new show on Cinemax After Dark called “Chemistry”. That’s right…After Friggin Dark…how cool is that? And he’s as funny as his work!
Kratka Family and Adela Silver – Longtime supporters of our show. They’ve come to the concerts, the showcase and now this! Thanks guys for always being there!
The Moran Family – Another family of longtime supporters, they were there in the beginning when we just had the germ of an idea. They encouraged us when there wasn’t much to go on beyond some very rough demos.
Sharon Burns – Ok, I know you’ve been dying to know which one of these folks has an intimate knowledge of my mouth…and yes it’s my dental hygienist Sharon! She’s the best and can amazingly understand EVERYTHING I’m saying while I’m drooling with my mouth open wide!
Wayne Seigel – We met through the world of Howard Stern and have had some amazing times together. He’s a great guy, owns the best car dealership in Long Island and he’s SINGLE!
Ellen Field – We go waaaayyyyy back to the early days of MTV (when they played videos). We also share a birthday (we alternate it from year to year).
Tina Santomauro – We spent a great time together at SXSW where we met when we both on a panel. I saw her more in Texas then in NY, which is where we both work! That will be rectified shortly!
Michelle Torres – I am pretty sure we know her because the name is familiar. I hope we don’t because I’ll be real embarrassed if I have to be reminded by her. Michellle Torress, identify yourself!
Harvey Kaish – I’m pretty sure we don’t know Harvey. In fact I think the name is made up! Harvey Kaish, (if that’s your real name) identify yourself!
Joann Petz – We spent an afternoon together with Paul McCartney! Yep it’s true…it was Joann, Frankie, myself and about ten thousand other people!
David Scotti - He is a talented actor and writer. He starred and wrote a great movie called “Docs And Robbers”. And his dad is the answer to the mystery of my body parts. True story…Dave’s dad is my Dr. and one time when he was examining me we were making small talk about recent Broadway shows we had seen. Small talk is crucial in these moments so that we’re not focusing on the elephant in the room (the snapping of the glove as he puts it on his hands). I was just about to profess my love for a certain show when his finger went into that most intimate of places and I ended up squealing “I love Gypsy”
Grace Hanlon – When Grace is not busy being a mother of two, or helping me organize the screening of our 9/11 documentary “Rebirth” for thousands of people on 9/8, she’s New Jersey’s Executive Director of the Division of Travel and Tourism! And on top of that, Grace and her fiancée Bob are big supporters of our show. Where do they find the time?
Jay Johnson – Jay oversees the super cool Late Show website with his colleague Walter. He’s also my TV and pop culture soul mate! Everyday, we co-host a 15 minute show with our buddy Kim. Right now we are our own audience but I see syndication in our future.
Kevin Rhoades – Kevin is a writer/director/producer who has done some great work. Here’s a trailer from his movie “Resurrection Mary” (based on the Chicago legend]. And the movie stars “Hereafter Musical” co-writer (and co-star) Frankie Keane with her super talented boyfriend David Cooper!!! She also plays a ghost here. Watch it Frankie, you’re going to get type cast! And here is another great piece that Kevin directed. It’s a beautiful music video starting a very much ALIVE Frankie!
Sheryl Zelikson – This woman has the BEST ear for music in the business. And when you factor in the other ear, well, you really have something! She has personally turned me on to more great music than just about any other music lover that I know. And she does it for a living as the head music booker for the “Late Show With David Letterman”.
Joanne Wheeler – Joanne and her entire family (Dennis, Erin, Ali and DJ) are such an essential part of the existence of our show that I cannot do it justice here. In fact, one of our upcoming blog updates will feature their story. Suffice it to say that they are a very special family and what they have been through gets right to the heart of what we are doing with the show and WHY we are doing it.