BWW Interviews: Johnny Rodgers
Friday, November 15th, The Absinthe Cabaret will have their first performance in the Grand Ballroom of The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Headlining the performance will be Johnny Rodgers, also called The Ambassador of American Music, and local favorite Stephanie Adlington.
Johnny Rodgers has toured all over the world and has won awards for song writing, performing, and for musical direction. He has also worked with Liza Minnelli, among others, and appeared on Broadway in the Tony Award winning show, Liza's at the Palace.
We were lucky enough to steal a few minutes from Johnny's busy schedule to ask him a few questions about the upcoming performance with The Absinthe Cabaret and his career with performing.
The tag line on The Absinthe Cabaret's website says "Where Broadway meets Country & Gospel meets Cabaret." How do you feel The Absinthe Cabaret is bridging a gap in the Nashville music scene?
Absinthe is about creating an awareness of Cabaret - and mixing in some of the more familiar elements that Nashville already appreciates (Country/Gospel). Nashville has not really had much of a Cabaret scene before. So this is really new to the area - and being recently from New York, I am in position to bring it on!
What is the first theatre production you remember seeing? Did this shape your career choices as you grew up?
I honestly don't remember the first show I saw. My parents took me to a lot. The first show I was in was "The Music Man," in which I did a heartfelt "Gary, Indiana" that I hope would have made Ron Howard proud!
Did you have a moment in time when you knew that you wanted to pursue performing as a career?
I think this was instilled in me by my grandmother - who always wanted to be a Ziegfeld Girl! She would plunk out tunes on her piano with me at her side. Growing older I started performing in piano recitals and then musical theater - I think performing and entertaining was always inside of me. And it still is wanting to come out! Come out to see me on Friday!
From the little bit of research I did on your career, it appears that music and performing has been a part of your life for most of your life. Share with us about your first performance in front of an audience.
It might have actually been my Howard Cosell impression back in early grade school....
Do you have a particular moment in your career that you are most proud of?
I love the moment when a song "just happens" - inspiration strikes. But as for career moments - maybe it was being asked to play piano and tour with Liza Minnelli - or it may being selected for the first time by the US Department of State and Jazz at Lincoln Center to tour for the Rhythm Road - and being able to stand in the footsteps of some of my musical heros like Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck, .... Since that time in 2009 - I have been fortunate to tour with the Department of State as Music Ambassador every year - and am heading back to Russia again next spring for the Triumph of Jazz Festival in St Petersburg and Moscow. Music truly is a bridge between people of all cultures.
This is your second performance with The Absinthe Cabaret here in Nashville. After performing all over the world, what makes a performance in Nashville stand apart?
I look forward to doing the LEGENDS OF AMERICAN MUSIC show in Nashville. Nashville is MUSIC CITY. Being able to distinguish oneself in Nashville is a true accomplishment as the level of talent and musicianship here is like nowhere else. I previously MC'd and performed a couple of songs for an Absinthe show that featured Broadway star Eden Espinosa. So this is my first featured billing for Absinthe. Nashville is part of my musical journey that I am enjoying.
What would you tell our readers to expect if they attend the November 15th Absinthe Cabaret performance with Stephanie Adlington?