Posts Tagged ‘t.j. mannix’
Musical improviser, gifted actor, and flat-out handsome man, T.J. MANNIX stops by the podcast to talk about pursuing his dreams in NYC, the craft of acting, and the upcoming New York Musical Improv Festival [NYMIF]. This is our 60th episode and we’re excited to share it with one of Magnet’s beloved instructors and long-time performers. T.J and host, Louis Kornfeld, discuss T.J.’s wide range of experience as an entertainer, everything from DJing for college radio to getting the right take on Law & Order, and of course, Louis opines on NYC’s romantic appeal. Give it a listen, kiddos!
Hear about T.J.’s time spent as a middle-of-the-night college radio DJ and about how Louis didn’t start listening to music until college. Find out what Louis’ first two cassette tapes were and what songs kept T.J. connected to English while studying abroad in Germany. Plus, Louis talks about his years in “local local broadcasting” on Staten Island.
T.J. moved to NYC in 1997 from North Carolina, where he had lived for a few years. He was working for Blockbuster Video and acting on the side, but was finally convinced by visiting actors from New York to give his dream a shot. He subsequently moved to NYC and got a job at the Jekyll & Hyde Club, which he explains was a very different place when he worked there. He talks all about all the fun the staff had and what it was like having it as his first gig in New York. Louis gives his thoughts on surveys, which we know you want to hear.
It’s been about 10 or 11 years now that T.J. has been a performer without a “day job,” so Louis wants to know, “What is it like to be a working actor?” Amongst the advice T.J. bestows, he says you’ve got to “9-to-5 it” because you’re the CEO of your own company. He gets into the life of a working actor and he and Louis end up disucussing NYC neighborhood culture. Next, Louis wants to know, “What’s the strangest job you’ve had in recent memory?” You’ll get to hear all about that, but [spoiler alert] it wasn’t playing Santa Claus at Radio City Music Hall, but he talks about that fun experience as well, even giving away some Rockettes stage secrets.
Without a doubt, T.J. loves the process of acting. He talks about learning on your feet as an actor and tells of his experience working on Law & Order: SVU. He embraces and cherishes the challenge of just about any acting job and recognizes both the strengths and weaknesses in different kinds of actor training. He and Louis talk about small moments on stage and dealing with auditions. Plus, T.J. gives a great tip for playing villains.
Finally, the episode concludes with a discussion of the upcoming 7th Annual NYMIF, Oct 15-18 at Magnet Theater. Working with co-producers Robin Rothman and Michael Lutton, the festival is in its 7th year and has 215 performers coming to the stage. T.J. talks about what the festival has meant to the musical improv community and he shouts out some returning favorites that he’s looking forward to seeing!
- Jekyll & Hyde Club
- Law & Order
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet theater podcast
- magnet training center
- Michael Lutton
- musical improv
- musical theater
- new york
- new york city
- new york musical improv festival
- NY Film Academy
- Radio City Music Hall
- Robin Rothman
- t.j. mannix
- TJ Mannix
- working actor
GAY BOMB: THE MUSICAL will be having its final show this Friday night, June 29th at 8:30pm at the Magnet Theater. Tickets are going fast, so get them now before the show sells out! Psssst … if you want discount tickets for $7, use the code “POTUS Felching” when you buy your tickets HERE.
Directed by Michael Martin, with music by Frank Spitznagel. Book and lyrics by Chris Friden and Steve Whyte.
Starring: Andrew Fafoutakis, Dreagn Foltz, Ben Jones, Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders, TJ Mannix, Oscar Montoya, Dave Tomczak and Woody Fu.
In case you’ve missed the earlier installments of the Magnet Blog’s interview with GAY BOMB co-writer, Steve Whyte, here they are: Part 1 and Part 2. And now, our third and final installment of the interview.
GAY BOMB: THE MUSICAL opened to a sold-out crowd last Friday, May 4th. The plot was full of twists and turns that we cannot divulge, and the action was so hot that we were unable to obtain pictures of the show from the actual opening night. Instead, an anonymous source supplied us with clandestine photos from a secret GAY BOMB dress rehearsal.
Here is Part 2 of my interview with GAY BOMB: THE MUSICAL co-writer, Steve Whyte.
Magnet Blog: How do you and your co-writer, Chris Friden, know each other?
Steve Whyte: Chris and I met at UC-Berkeley. A couple of years after we graduated, we started a weekly comedy/sports TV show on Cal Football and Basketball. It ended up getting picked up by SportsChannel (now FoxSports), and going national. We ran for three years and won an Emmy, and since then we’ve both been involved in various aspects of video production.
MB: Did you find that your musical improv skills came in handy while writing Gay Bomb?
SW: Absolutely. I think it definitely guided the rewriting of the screenplay to fit the musical format. Additionally, before we started the rewrite, we ran several improv sessions with members of the cast. Almost everybody in the cast has come up through all of the Magnet’s musical improv classes. So improvising both scenes and songs was something that comes naturally to them, and something that they do every week. It was helpful to see what elements might work well by improvising them first, before sitting down to do the rewrite. It also gave the actors time to get familiar with their characters, so that they had a head start in that department when finally getting a chance to work with the book.
MB: Neither you nor your co-writer, Chris, identify as LGBTQ. As straight allies, what compelled you two to write GAY BOMB?
SW: Being a white, straight male, try as I may, I have no idea what it’s like to deal with the injustices that others go through on a daily basis. While both Chris and I have close family members and friends who are LGBTQ, and we try our best to empathize, we don’t truly know what it’s like to experience life as an oppressed minority in a prejudiced society. However, I don’t think that should stop one from trying, and I certainly don’t think it should stop one from speaking out and doing what they can to address these faults in society.
With regards to casting, I cast the people that I thought would fit the roles best, and who were exceptionally funny and talented. There was no thought put into trying to cast all straight or all gay or a certain percentage mix of cast members. As it turns out, I think our cast is close to 50/50. I think it has been nice to have this mix of performers, as it provides helpful feedback and input for the piece from various viewpoints. Interestingly, four of our gay actors play straight characters, and at least two of our straight actors play gay characters. At the end of the day, it’s a bunch of funny, talented improvisers who have been performing together at the Magnet for years, and who are just looking to put on a fun, funny, entertaining, and perhaps even meaningful show.
Thanks, Steve! We’d like to think that GAY BOMB was one reason why President Obama finally decided to support marriage equality. Go, President Obama!
Catch GAY BOMB on select Mondays and Fridays in May and June at 8:30pm. Tickets can be purchased here. Use the code “POTUS Felching” to get half off the regular ticket price, for all shows, including tonight’s! The code is only good for today, so buy those cheap tickets now!
Fridays: 5/11, 5/18, 5/25, 6/15, 6/22, 6/29
Mondays: 5/21, 6/11, 6/18
Directed by Michael Martin, with music by Frank Spitznagel, and book and lyrics by Chris Friden and Steve Whyte. Starring Andrew Fafoutakis, Dreagn Foltz, Ben Jones, Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders, T.J. Mannix, Oscar Montoya, Dave Tomczak and Woody Fu.
If you are unable to attend the show, or wish to offer continued support, please consider donating to the GAY BOMB kickstarter fundraiser. The creators of the show have accrued significant debt to put this show together, for set design, costumes, rehearsal space, and many other necessities that arise as the show continues its run. The hope is to raise $2,000 more dollars in a week, for a total of $7,000. Please go to the GAY BOMB kickstarter page for more information on the excellent pledge perks.
Stay tuned for the next installment of my interview with Steve Whyte!
Photo credits: Steve Whyte and Woody Fu
GAY BOMB: THE MUSICAL is landing on the Magnet Theater, with only a few seats left for this highly anticipated opening night tonight! Directed by Michael Martin, with music by Frank Spitznagel, and book and lyrics by Chris Friden and Steve Whyte, this musical comedy is inspired by an actual proposal by the U.S. military (in 1994!) to build a bomb that would make America’s enemies gay.
Starring Andrew Fafoutakis, Dreagn Foltz, Ben Jones, Michael Lutton, Jen Sanders, T.J. Mannix, Oscar Montoya, Dave Tomczak and Woody Fu, the show premieres tonight, and will run on select Mondays and Fridays in May and June at 8:30pm. Tickets can be purchased here.
Fridays: 5/4, 5/11, 5/18, 5/25, 6/15, 6/22, 6/29
Mondays: 5/21, 6/11, 6/18
Here is Part 1 of my interview with GAY BOMB: THE MUSICAL co-writer, Steve Whyte.
Magnet Blog: What motivated you and your co-writer, Chris Friden, to create GAY BOMB?
Steve Whyte: We often hear of absurd policies from our government, but this one really seemed special. It’s simultaneously hilarious and sad. Sad that a room full of educated, grown men (no one knows who was in the room, but I would wager that, yes, they were probably all men) would have a set of values and beliefs that could allow the serious consideration of a “Gay Bomb.” This didn’t happen in the 1950s; this was 1994. Hilarious, I suppose, for the same reasons. It’s low hanging fruit – easy to make fun of. At the same time, it’s an opportunity for some commentary about stereotyping, prejudice, politics, and power.
MB: Have you and Chris ever written a musical before?
SW: Neither of us have ever written a musical. We actually wrote a screenplay of GAY BOMB about a year ago, and then figured it would make a fun musical. I learned a lot about musicals and what makes them tick from the musical improv classes at the Magnet. Then, when we decided to do this, I read a shitload of books on the subject, took a “musical writers bootcamp” workshop at Davenport Theatrical, and bent the ear of fellow Magnet improviser and librettist Justin Moran (POPE!, Nightfall on Miranga Island).
MB: Any advice for folks who might want to write their own musical, but don’t know how to start?
SW: My number one suggestion would be: Get help. Surround yourself with talented people. Be willing to give up control and have others help.
There are several books on the subject, a couple of which lay out the fundamentals pretty well. I found The Musical Theatre Writer’s Survival Guide by David Spencer and Writing the Broadway Musical by Aaron Frankel to be particularly helpful. Watching and re-watching a lot of musicals helps, especially ones that resonate with you. For me, that’s anything by Parker and Stone—Team America, Book of Mormon, the South Park movie (there are also several South Park episodes that are mini-musicals). And again, the musical improv classes also provide a great foundation in what moves a musical forward.
MB: Any last words to end Part 1 of this interview, Steve?
SW: We’re honored that the Magnet has included us in their effort to showcase more scripted material at the theater. This production draws very heavily on the Magnet community. Everyone in the cast and crew has taken many classes here, and has been in many shows. Our director, Michael Martin, is the director of the musical improv program here along with Frank Spitznagel, who is our musical director and composer.
Please stay tuned to the Magnet blog for future installments of my interview with Steve. See you at Opening Night of GAY BOMB! Stay for the after-party at Smithfield, the new bar at 215 West 28th Street!
The Magnet Theater is sending 4 teams out to the Chicago Improv Festival next week. A represenative from TimeOut Chicago attended our CIF showcase at the beginning of the month and had some nice things to say about The Cascade, Chet Watkins, FACE and Hello Laser.
Duo Rick Andrews and Jennifer Dunne have a compelling form on their hands… this duo played it smart and patient, and I’d watch them again. (The Cascade)
These long-form practitioners have a secret weapon: fearless women. The men aren’t half bad either... All in all, impressive. (Chet Watkins).
It’s awesome to hear instrumentation besides a piano, and the musicians rotate frequently (including new ones in Chicago). Also, this group embraced the entirety of the stage in a big way and offered solid callbacks. (FACE)
This quartet of goofs is a C.I.F. visiting favorite and, having now witnessed them on home turf, it’s easy to see why… If the C.I.F. were a competition, we know where we’d place our bets. (Hello Laser)
So maybe you can’t go to Chicago just to see your favorite
Magnet Teams. You can, however, get a preview of the teams accepted to CIF 2011 all weekend:
FACE Friday at 7pm
Chet Watkins Friday at 8pm
TJ, Megan, Desiree, Rick, Louis, and Rocco…
Hired by The Second City?
It’s no surprise that our auditioning instructor had such a good audition that he got hired by Second City to perform in their ensemble at sea which sends top improvisers on Norwegian Cruise Line ships to the Caribbean. Congrats to you, TJ Mannix!
And Congrats to Magnet’s outstanding Level 1 Instructor and super funny Junior Varsity member, Megan Gray. She was also hired by Second City after they conducted their first ever New York audition for their cruise ship ensembles.
Let’s not stop there, though – –
Congratulations to Louis Kornfeld, our wicked smart Level 2 Instructor, House Manager, and most bearded member of long-time house team, The Boss. You deserve all the success in the world, Louis!
And Desiree Nash, painfully funny member of Ransom Family and a musical improv heroine! Congratulations, Desiree. Send us photos, please.
And Rocco Privetera, who stars in this hilarious video, produced by the Magnet Media Engine (with TJ Mannix, Adam Taylor, and Shawn Amaro). Rocco will be taking his magical fingers to the ocean as a Musical Director for a a Second City cruise ship ensemble. Yes. The fingers are magical.
Let’s not forget Magnet’s Rick Andrews who was also offered a spot on the big boat. Rick is a tall grad school drop-out and all around wonderful person who is currently teaching at Magnet. He is also the co-creator and co-star of The Cascade with Jennifer Dunne Monday nights at Magnet.
While getting tan, they’ll be performing classic Second City scenes, improv sets and teaching workshops. Basically it’s like the nerd version of Dirty Dancing without the sexual awakening. Have fun. Represent America and Magnet well, please. When you get back to the island of Manhattan, we’ll be here waiting.
FACE is tonight at 7pm! Treat yourself, this show is awesome.
“…Comedic, dramatic, and jazz improv so surreally compelling that by the end, you leave wishing you could see what they come up with next.”
—Daniel Kelly, www.nytheatre.com
“What differentiates this show from any other I’ve seen is the stunning collaboration between the actors and a live jazz trio onstage. The strength of FACE is their extraordinary ability to tune into each other, thereby keeping the audience enthralled by both the unique concept of the show and its execution.”
—Katherine Heller, www.newyorkcool.com
“…the cast is clearly having fun, and the pace never lags for long…FACE is a breezy, amusing diversion.”
—Vanessa Anderson, Time Out New York
“FACE is improv at its most beautiful.”
—Katherine Heller, www.newyorkcool.com
“FACE Improv’s performance at the Galapagos Art Space screamed of talent overload, with music, laughter and spontaneity pouring out the door of the tiny space…as the musicians embellished each minute of the show with their equally theatrical and relevant jazz.”
—Jennifer Pelly, The Fordham Observer