We're baaack!!! Well it's been almost two weeks since our last update. We'd like to think that maybe the extra time off would make you all pine for another update. I said "we'd like to think" but of course we don't believe that! But we do think it was worth the wait because we are proud to announce that as of this writing, between the pledges online and the checks in hand, we are at: $55,997.52! We are oh so close to our goal. We are so shocked and awed by the response to our Kick Starter campaign that we are expecting scud missiles to hit us at any minute. We don't want to jinx ourselves because we are still not there yet, BUT let's play the what if game. IF we hit the $60k goal of ticket sales we are now looking at a two-week run in late March/early April. We thought November was going to be an option but that was only if we made the $60k in the first week (I know, what were we drinking). We don't know the exact two weeks yet but you will have ample time to choose dates from the 12-14 shows we'll be performing (again IF we hit our goal). We are heading into the studio this week for a marathon recording session to complete the "Hereafter Musical" demos that we guarantee you will love. The term demos is misleading because the fact is this will be the most awesome demo CD you will ever hear. And it will be a collector’s item for sure because we are only producing a limited amount. IF we hit our goal they will ship mid to late October (along with the T-shirts). If we don't hit our goal then Frankie and I will flick the CDs like Frisbees at each other's head until we're both numb from the realization that we have a thousand singing coasters!
Roll Call Tease For Week Six
One of these people slept with Frankie and didn’t like it…in fact they said it was sleeping with a corpse. One of them almost kept me from marrying my wife. One of them had an intimate moment with President Bush that involved him doing a "reach-around" on her (there's video proof) and one them has regular sessions with Frankie and I where he gets paid to be extremely graphic with us!
Last Weeks Addendum's & Corrections!!!
Dana Diver - In last weeks roll call we didn't know who she was. Then she sent a sweet note reminding us. I’m an idiot (again) because of course, now I remember her. I should have remembered just from her cool name! Dana Diver could be a private eye in a Mickey Spillane novel with a name like that. Thanks Dana...it was only a few times but I DO remember!
Helen, Brian And The Awesome Rafferty Family - Helen, what are you doing!! Your doubling your ticket pledge!!! Do you know something we don't? Is it the “red wine-free style”!!! Are we really that good? Damn we better be now.
Heather Tobin – Heather puts the “chic” in “Psychic”! She just doubled her pledge from a few weeks ago. She can see into the future and she predicts a hit!!!
Mario Rupps – Mario was one THE first person we didn’t know who pledged for tickets. Now he has just doubled down! Can you imagine what he’ll do when he finally meets us?!
Maria Pope - True story. Maria was the last person in the honor roll last week because I do them in the order they come in. And for some reason, a lot of last week’s pledges were colleagues I had worked with for many years. So I went for the running joke type thank you instead of the touchy feely kind with her. Now in my defense I was tired (have you seen the number of people pledging!). So a few days ago I was in a meeting with Maria and Sheila (who also pledged last week). And Maria stops the meeting to announce that I was all gushy over Sheila and my acknowledgment of her was pre-functionary at best. And she was right. I hemmed, I hawed, I groveled and then I remembered she wrote a check. She was one of those cookie people who could stop a check in a heartbeat!!! And her check was size-able...she bought enough tickets to take the Chilean miners to opening night! I recovered long enough to promise her the best write up ever (which also gave me enough time to cash her check)! So how do you solve a problem like Maria? Here we go.... Maria was born in a manger (wait, no that's too biblical). Maria, I just met a girl named Maria (nah that's too Sondheim). Wait, I've got it. And this is true...no joking! George W. Bush once cleaned his glasses on her pashmina (behind her back...I swear.... click on this link to see for yourself!). She is an awesome mom but I think her kid’s afraid of me! Stay tuned for next week's roll call and pray that you don't see her name here again (unless of course she ups her pledge!!!!).
Meet The Cast - Meet The Characters [Part 4]
Meet Frankie Keane[Anita] - Ok, big revelation here.... a HUGE revelation. There are TWO Frankie Keanes!! And I'm not talking about the fact that she's one of the leads in the show AND also one of the co-creators (sorry I mean creators!) Apparently Frankie had a life BEFORE "Hereafter Musical"!!! I am stunned. I thought her life started when we met in 2008 (I know that would have meant she was one tall infant) but that's not the case! Maybe there are two Frankie’s because she comes from Chicago (the second city…get it…twos!!!). She's accomplished so much for such a young girl (she insist she’s twenty three) that we'll have to save all of her “Hereafter hosannas” for when we do our creative team bios in a few weeks. But for now let's see what this Frankie kid's been up to.
When I first heard Frankie’s voice I swear I thought she was African/American. No surprise when you consider her background. With influences in Gospel, R&B and rock, Frankie is a multiple threat as singer/songwriter; composer; lyricist; instrumentalist (piano); and accomplished stage/film actress. She made her debut Off-Broadway in director David Tobin’s acclaimed review, "Pure Gospel America" and toured with the musical "If This Hat Could Talk" directed by Tony Award winner George Faison (where she co-starred with the legendary Carol Dennis). In Chicago, Frankie was chosen as The Cotton Club’s “Best Young Vocalist”. She has recorded with Universal artist Malik Yusef appearing on his 2003 debut album, “The Great Chicago Fire” alongside artists: Kanye West, Common, Twista, Ron-E-Ron and more. She has been a featured opening act for legends: Koko Taylor, R. Kelly, Isaac Hayes, Bernie Mac, Dennis Miller, Danny Boy, Ashford and Simpson and more. Her own music has been featured on the soundtrack of a number of films and she’s also co-produced along side R. Kelly.
When she’s not performing for the masses she’s singing in the “masses”. For the past twenty years she has performed with her mentor Dr. Lena McLin. Lena is a sought after composer and her work has been performed worldwide. She is the pastor and founder at the Holy Vessel Baptist Church in Chicago where Frankie is an active member of the church and the choir (she is ALWAYS finding reasons to go back). And consistent with this “two Frankie’s” mishegoss (that’s Yiddish for crazy, to all you folks from Chicago!) she performs around the NYC area with her side project Blue Soul. She and Dennis Moriarty, her OTHER music partner (I DON’T like the sound of that!) play regularly at Ashford & Simpson's Sugar Bar. I can’t be jealous though because he is one of (if not THE) best harp players in NYC and the sweetest guy. You can check them out in this clip.
[Dig these photos! There are soooo many of them. I guess Frankie does have a life outside of the show! Roger Waters, Tim Robbins, Monk, The White Shadow and Vinnie Favale...I'm in some good company. ]
Frankie on working with Vinnie;
“Ahhh...where to begin...our torrid musical affair began over the phone while I was shopping at Marshalls. Of course I didn't SAY I was shopping ...I may have said I was at my agent’s office, I don't really recall (I don't have an agent, by the by, so if you know anyone, don't be shy.) ANYWAY, he said he got my picture/resume off backstage and I "Fit" the profile he was looking for.... I think it was at that point I called my boyfriend and asked him to do a background check, whereupon I discovered he was not in the FBI database, and indeed was a respectable individual with a REALLY great idea!! We must have been on the phone for three hours and found we had SO much in common in our lives it was scary weird. It was at that point; I think we both realized we were going to be working together. It was such a whirlwind, that that day, Vinnie invited me to come to his home that weekend in the Hamptons (ok...now I'm just outright lying!), I mean the Jersey Shore. Now I realize, he REALLY did that to see if I still looked like my headshot and to see if the weight on my resume was accurate. Thankfully, I'm somewhat truthful on my resume, after all, I am 23 and honesty is very important to me. So from then to now; 3.5 years and counting. Amazing. Amazing. His Family? Amazing. His friends? Amazing. His Talent? Amazing. Our fights? AMAZING! Our collaborations? This is where YOU say, "Amazing!!" My life is truly better for having met Vinnie P. Favale. His generosity of talent, spirit and self.... well, if you listen to the music, you can hear for yourself. I need not brag on his talent-it does it on its own. I can just brag on everything else. Just ask me. I won't shut up. Ask anyone.”
Frankie on working with the cast;
When I first met Shea, it was on video. She was radiant. She literally glowed. And her voice was as pure as spring water. I could feel her personality off the video and could NOT wait to meet the siren I had seen singing songs that I would be singing and arranging soon. She is as warm and amazing as she is talented. She’s a selfless, generous performer who I am so proud to call friend. We are SO lucky to have her.
I met Paul on another musical project where he was the calming presence who was quick with a kind word, a smile, and advice.... pretty much all that is good! I knew that if I had anything to do with it, I would work with him again. He is an immensely talented man who is as genuine and engaging as he is talented. How blessed I am to have met him.
Can Ilene she ever stop smiling?? I swear, when she enters a room, bubbles start forming and floating up to the ceiling. She is the happiest, most infectious young lady I have ever met. She can turn a cloud into a rainbow. And is super talented to boot. She is a drug, the drug of happiness. I knew I could stop drinking after I met her. (I AM just kidding there...kind of...)
When Pierce walked in and I knew it was over for everyone else. After the first week of working with him, I realized, he was as twisted as I was, and his talent ...well, at the risk of making him impossible to work with, is SICK...(But the good sick...street sick...). AND he keeps me laughing. A lot. It's surprising he's so humble after all his years as an underwear model for Calvin Klein, but that just speaks to his rock hard character (and abs).
Carolyn and Ilene must come from the same gene pool. In fact, I'm going to go on Ancestory.com to double check as her smiling and infectious personality makes me wonder that they don't have some great, great, great, super great, aunt in their bloodlines...She is the epitome of sunshine. Her warmth, laugh, and giving nature makes her the closest thing to a "theatre mom" I have ever met. Her endless giving to the cast and her character make her a shining gem...I almost feel guilty hording her to ourselves!
With Deborah, I am at a loss for words, but at the same time, am full of feelings that have no words. Working with Debra has been nothing short of a ride I don't want to get off. She is exhilarating, hysterical, flexible (literally and figuratively!). She is; loving, giving, generous, thoughtful, inspiring...I can go on. What she has done for me as a friend is endless. What she has done for "Hereafter" is the same.
God smiles on me. the song..."Heaven, must be missin' an angel" pops into mind when the name Alma is spoken. We are SO lucky she came into our lives. A talent who doesn't take herself too seriously, but yet takes the character to a plane that only she can do. I LOVE her laugh, her jokes, her quirks, her everything!!! Stylish and sassy, fun-loving and giving. Alma Cuervo; a name for the ages.
Here are two musical sides of Frankie; a beautiful music video she did for her cover of “Many Rivers To Cross” and THE most popular video on our Youtube Channel; “The Heart And Soul” with Danny Aiello.
"Many Rivers To Cross" - Frankie Keane
"The Heart & Soul" - Danny Aiello & Frankie Keane
Meet Paul Blankenship[Jason] - When I first met Paul I knew had to have him (in the show.... in the show!!!!!). And when I first heard him sing, "Talk To Me" I was blown away. There are some pretty great versions of that song and Paul delivered and his stands among them! He is an absolute joy to work with. His experience both on stage and behind the scenes makes him invaluable to us. Paul has appeared Off-Broadway in “If This Hat Could Talk” (where he co-starred with Frankie Keane), A Doll’s Life, Elizabeth and Essex (York Theatre Company), Colette Collage (Theatre at St Peter’s Church.) The Fantasticks, Café Society. Regional; The School For Husbands (Westport Country Playhouse) The Bungler (Long Wharf Theatre) Wonderful Tennessee (McCarter Theatre) Mirette (Godspeed Opera House). The Buddy Holly Story, My Fair Lady (Cleveland Opera). The Grapes Of Wrath (Cleveland Playhouse). Romeo & Juliet (Alley Theatre); Othello, All’s Well That Ends Well (Shakespeare Festival Of Dallas); A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, As You Like It (Houston Shakespeare Festival). Tours: Jesus Christ Superstar.
Paul On Working With Frankie:
“Frankie and I had worked on another show together and when she asked if I’d be interested in working on Hereafter, I jumped at the chance. I didn’t know anything about the project but I knew I’d have fun with Frankie! She just brings out the joy in people. When she introduced me to Vinnie and Bill Hindin, I truly felt that I had “come home”. Within an hour I was suddenly laughing and relating to these “strangers” as if we’d known each other for a lifetime. That’s what makes this musical magic. I feel that my whole life has been a path leading me to this experience!”
Here are two beautiful performances from Paul; "Talk To Me" and his duet with Frankie on "Space & Time"
"Talk To Me V2" - Paul Blankenship [Lofish 070611]
"Space & Time V2" - Paul, Frankie & Bill [Lofish 051311]
Meet Anita and Jason - Jason (70s) is psychic who shuns all publicity. He does readings in his Middletown, New Jersey home for desperate folks who are looking for closure. Unbeknownst to the three women who have come to see Jason today, he too is desperate to make contact with someone who has passed; his fiancee Anita who died fifty years ago on this day. Anita was a B movie actress during Hollywood’s golden age. Jason gift of communicating with the spirit world is very real but he can’t help himself the way he can help others because he doesn’t control it, the spirits do. In his ballad“Talk To Me”, he sings about his frustration of not being able to make contact with her after all of these years. Anita has been by his side since the day she died but she has refrained from making contact. Over the years Anita has witnessed that as other spirits that have communicated with Jason, they disappeared into the Hereafter. Fearing the unknown of what the Hereafter may hold, she has decided to wait for Jason so that they could crossover together because, “that’s what soul mates do…they wait for each other”. And while Jason tries to manage the expectations of the women in the reading, Anita tries to alleviate the tension among the other spirits by sharing the story of her rather colorful life in Hollywood. She was a struggling B movie actress who “made the best career move by dying young”. In her solo number, “Larger Than Life”she sings about the irony of all the spirits being appreciated more in death than when they were alive.
Anita Moriarty and Jason Richards
ROLL CALL OF THANKS FOR WEEK #6
Sue Kiley - Sue has played such an important part of the early development of some of the songs from the show.... especially the title number "Hereafter". In fact, she was the first person I sang it to (her ears are still hurting). She has a beautiful, crystal clear voice. She also did an awesome job at our second concert. She's part of a large, loving family (her son Eddie even sang for us). I hope she doesn't realize that she could have received free tickets for all the hard work she has done over the years!
Andrew Budkofsky - Andrew has been voted salesman the year for the past decade...well not really but I know he's really good. He’s so good that when he we worked together at Comedy Central he actually found a sponsor for our “Dead But Not Over The Hill” tribute to the late Benny Hill (yes, Comedy Central once ran Benny Hill!!!!!).
Shelley - Here's another one of those one-named pledgers who we may or may not know. What makes it even more complicated, it can either be a he or a she...hmmm. It can't be Shelley Winters cause she is dead. Remember when we saw her underwear in the “Poseidon Adventure”?! I couldn't wear ladies underwear for like a month after that. Shelley...reveal yourself!!!!
David Epstein - I can count on one hand the funniest people I know and Dave occupies the middle finger! He's four years younger than me but knows more about pop culture (especially TV) than I do, and I know a lot! We once spent a memorable weekend in Vegas together. We lost a lot of money until we found these awesome slot machines. I think they were called atms. Amazing...all we had to do was put in our credit cards and hundreds of dollars would come out. Some day we're going to go back and visit all of the money we left behind.
Jean Candiotte - I recently re-connected with Jean after almost thirty years. We both worked at MTV in the early days…actually she did all the work; I’d just watch the Buggles videos on the monitor. We were both there when Madonna felt like a virgin. But the thing that really makes Jean special is that she read our blog updates! And how do we know this? She added .52 cents to her pledge in homage to our “52” themed blog from last week!
Diane Leung - Diane is one of the most talented piano and violin players (Julliard trained) in the world. She has a very special place in our hearts. She was a big part of the work shopping of three songs from the show; “Talk To Me” "Hereafter" and "Goodbye". Watch how elegant she plays “Hereafter”...its like slow motion. She's in Canada these days. She’s now playing with the prestigious Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Our dream is that she comes back and does a recital for us. She is unbelievable. Love you Diane.
Samuel Zanger - You may not know Samuel but you know his work. All of the beautiful and detailed illustrations that you see on the videos and art work comes from this gifted man. Here is just a small sample of his work. There will be more on Sam in a future update. Thanks Sam.
Tiffany McDermott - Tiffany is a colleague of mine from the Count Basie Theatre. It's a non-profit so she has to raise money all the time. And now she’s giving money to another non-profit…us!!!
Joseph Anselmo and Mariel Larsen - What an incredible couple. Thanks to Joe, we were able to work with genius arranger Dani Donadi whose work on "Talk To Me" is still a huge favorite. And his wife Mariel is one of the best jazz singers out there today. Check her out here...an amazing voice. Thanks guys!
Kathryn Mavrikakis - Kathy is one of my favorite people. And this is a person that I have to sometime do battle with (if your definition of “sometime” is every other day). But she's so damn good at her job that you can’t get mad at her. Plus her last name is worth like fifty points in Scrabble!!
Paula Chagares - Who knew that Paula was such an entrepreneur? Who knew I could even spell entrepreneur! By day she makes sure that every penny is accounted for at work and by night she is one of the proprietors of the super popular “GRAB” in Brooklyn which has the city’s best selection of cheeses (I’m not saying which city). Something tells me she does the books there as well!
Leslie Boghosian - This is one cool broadcaster. You can see her on HD NET. You can hear her on WFAN. And she sat through one early version of our show that went on for so long I think it's still playing. Thanks Leslie, this one is much shorter!
Lauri Mento - At first I had no idea who Lauri was. Then I did some extensive research (I typed her name in Facebook) and discovered it was a classmate of mine from the famous St Finbar grade school in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. We went from kindergarten to the 8th grade together! Then we broke up cause we wanted to see other schools. And apropos to our musical, it was her dad who turned me on to Broadway! Actually, the catholic schools version of Broadway! Mr. Grasso did an amazing job bringing the arts into our lives when most of our time was spent on Jesus and pasta. When I told my wife that Mr. Grasso had put me in "Guys & Dolls", she asked whether I was the guy or doll! No respect. Thanks Lauri and Mr. Grasso for getting the whole ball rolling!
Joanna DeMartin - Joanna is as cool as her name sounds. She always has my back (I lent it to her years ago and it's been drafty ever since). Thanks Joanna, can't wait for you to see the show!
Laurie Pimentel - This name sounded familiar. I didn't want another Zachary Zelma situation so I did a time regression session. But the therapist took me back too far!!! He took me to a past life...it was medieval times and I was an unfair maiden (I fixed all the jousting matches) and there was no Laurie Mimentel there! And I didn't have a ride back to modern times. Thank god the alarm went off (they charge by the our). And when I woke up it hit me, I was at a wedding in Sinoma last year with Lauren and her beautiful family. Thanks so much Laurie!!!
Cathy - We had a sneaking suspicion we knew who this Cathy was because of the amount of tickets she bought. I won't say how much but put it this way, she has enough tickets to bring the Kardashians, the Osmonds and the Jackson Five to come see our show! She's Frankie's sister and has two of the CUTEST kids (Zach and Alex) and a super husband, Mohsen. Irony is that now there is no room for her family cause the Kardasians are taking up more than their allotment of seats! Thanks Cathy xxxxo
Heather Maidat - Heather is a great writer. We met at a bar mitzvah. It was not a religious ceremony, but an actual bar called "mitzvah". They made their own beer there and calked it HE-brew! Two great things about Heather; if you are a little drunk, her name almost spells Hereafter. Even cooler, she was like ten months pregnant and about to deliver when we did our last showcase and she still intended to come (but her baby had other plans). We are thinking of having the bris on opening night...thanks Heather.
Troy Bonar "The Samurai of Success" - We only know Troy through Kickstarter and from what we’ve read on his website. And we like what we see (and not just because he’s buying tickets!!!) He is a true supporter of the arts and is backing several other Kickstarter projects. On top of that his website is very intriguing and someday when we come up for air I look forward to finding out more about this Samurai!
Tina - Ok here's another one name ticket pledger! What the heck is going on here?! And it's all lower case! I have an idea but I know two tinas (I like to say that "two tinas" "two tinas" "two tinas"). Oh what to do! Come out tina and if your nice we'll even capitalize the first letter of your name!!!
Diane and Brian O'Leary - We met these guys through mutual friends but love them like they are our own. And thanks to them we met the Wheeler family (who you will hear about in a future update).
Vida Mulec - Every time I get an email from Vidal, seeing her name gives me flashbacks to my baseball loving memories from the early seventies and of Vida Blue. Vida was a legend. And this Vida is pretty special herself. I know her through her tireless charity efforts (and “Hereafter Musical” is one of them!). Thanks Vida!
Anonymous - This man (uh I mean woman, no I mean person urgh) chooses to remain nameless. It not because he (damn I give up) is embarrassed to be associated with our show. In fact he loves our show! The sad truth is that he lost his first AND last name in a tragic clerical error at the DMV. It’s so sad, now when the "Name Game" song comes on the radio he runs from the room. He can't stand Jim Croce because he's always singing, "I got a name". When we sing happy birthday to him we have to sing "you" four times instead of the traditional three. So as a special thank you to him we are going to get him a horse with no name for Christmas.
Donna Diciccio - We haven't seen Donna in ages (literally ages, she and I go back to medieval times in another life.) Can't wait for to see her at the show!
Lewis Surrey - Lewis is one of my oldest friends. And through some weird fluke of the cosmos, I never would have met Debbie if he had been at his desk instead of me the day Debbie called. Come to think of it, I wonder if he had been at his desk, would Debbie have married him? But it's not like Debbie would have married just about anyone who would have picked up the phone that day...or would she? But I digress. Lewis is so cool; he was a deadhead before the band even formed!!!! He is an EXCELLENT photographer. Check out these amazing weather shots. And here is a totally awesome shot of the two of us in our MTV days…. make your choice Debbie!
Grace Reilly – Grace is one of the sweetest women who work with my son Jonathan (she’s his biggest fan!). Now she is our biggest fan! And she also reads our blog because she also used the number “52” in her pledge for tickets!!!!! Thanks Grace!!!!
Tatiana Auster – The greatest thing about the real Hereafter is that, in theory, it will bring together long lost friends. And the same goes for our show! And even though we know exactly where Tatiana is, we never have the time to see each other (those damn tolls are to high). But we are SO excited that we’ll be seeing her at the show! Thanks Tatiana!