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Broadway Bullet Interview: Sessions: The Musical

We profile the new musical "Sessions" and talk to writer Albert Tapper, and actors Amy Bodner and Trishia Rapier who perform two songs from the show in-studio accompanied by musical director Fran Minarik, "It Feels Like Home" and "I Will Never Find Another You."

Albert Tapper is a writer, composer and lyricist having written three off-Broadway musicals. He wrote his first musical while still in college in which he was paid the unheard of sum for that time of twenty dollars. Since then he has written special material for regional productions and has produced two albums of his own songs. He composed the ballet The Seduction of Bathsheba whose premiere performance at Mechanics Hall was presented by the Central Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra. His Off-Broadway show, Imperfect Chemistry for which he composed the music and created the story, opened at the Minetta Lane Theater in New York in April of 2000. From Where I Stand, a musical revue, opened at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in March of 2003. Al has written five books on humor that were published by Andrews McMeel and Company and MJF Publishing. The books are titled, A Guy Goes Into a Bar; A Minister, A Priest, And a Rabbi; A Guy Goes Into a Doctors Office; A Guy Goes Into a Gym; and Flunked. His stage play Bettinger's Luggage has been adapted as a film to be shot in New York in 2007. He has just completed a new non-musical play titled, Conversations with Max. Al produced the award winning film Broadway: The Golden Age.

Amy Bodnar appeared on Broadway as Laurey in Trevor Nunn's revival of Oklahoma!, Ragtime. Nat /Canadian Tours: Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sunset Boulevard. Regional: Louise in Ace (world premiere), Cincinnati Playhouse & Rep Theater St.Louis ,The Actress in Between the Lines (world premiere), Luna Stage; Giraffe in Just So (American premiere), Chester Theater at Goodspeed; Martin Guerre(American premiere), Guthrie Theater; Jenny Starhaven in Maury Yeston‚ Hans Christian Andersen (world premiere), Amneris in Aida, Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde, Laura in Swing, Ellen in Miss Saigon at Maine State Music Theatre; Babette in Beauty and the Beast, Theater Under the Stars and Theater of the Stars; Amalia in She Loves Me, Riverside Theater; Grace in Annie and Annie Warbucks, Walnut Street Theater Television: ‚As the World Turns.

Trisha Rapier appeared on Broadway in The Boy From Oz (Liza Minnelli u/s and performed). Off-Broadway: Her Song (Trisha) currently playing at the world famous Birdland, Shout! The Mod Musical, Nerds:// A Musical Software Satire (Myrtle), Newsical (Trisha), Golf: The Musical (Trisha), Pirates of Penzance (Mabel), Forbidden Broadway (Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand, etc.). Tours: The Who’s Tommy (Mrs. Walker u/s and performed), Forbidden Broadway, Forbidden Hollywood (Marlene Dietrich, Nicole Kidman, etc.). Regional: Evita (Eva), Cabaret (Sally Bowles) Miss Saigon (Ellen), Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey), Guys and Dolls (Sarah), Agnes of God (Agnes). Opera: The Magic Flute (Pamina), The combat of Tancredi and Clorinda (Clorinda). Awards: Carol Burnett Award, Spotlight Award of the Los Angeles Music Center. Graduate from the University of California at LosAngeles. www.TrishaRapier.com

For more info and for tickets to "Sessions" click here.

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You can listen to this interview and many other great features for free on Broadway Bullet Volume 119. Subscribe for free so you don't miss an episode.

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Broadway Bullet Interview: The new Off-Broadway Musical, Sessions

 BROADWAY BULLET: Sessions is a new musical with book, music, and lyrics by Albert Tapper. And we have a couple of the cast members, along with Albert and the accompanist, in the studio today to talk about the show, and they will grace us with a couple numbers. How's everybody doing?

ALL: Great, thank you for having us/Good/Yeah, we're awake!

BB: First off, everybody take a quick second to introduce yourselves so our listeners can identify your name with your voice.

ALBERT TAPPER: I'm Al Tapper, and I shouldn't be too hard to identify because everybody else is a woman here.

TRISHA RAPIER: Except for Fran --

FRAN MINARIK: [who is not a woman] Thanks a lot Al!

 (laughter)

FM: I know I got the [female] name --

AT: Can I do that again?

BB: No, that's perfect!

FM: Wasn't easy growing up with that [name], and you're not helping! I might have to go to a session!

(laughter)

TR: (ba-dum-bum) I'm Trisha Rapier, and I play Mary in Sessions.

Amy Bodnar: I'm Amy Bodnar, and I play Leila.

FM: And I'm Fran Minarik, and I'm the conductor and musical director.

BB: What is Sessions about, and what drew you to write this?

AT: Sessions is about a man who is a therapist, but with a certain amount of humanity -- he makes mistakes, he struggles with trying to help his patients as best he can.  He also has problems in his own life, and ultimately, the patients reverse the patient-therapist relationship, and they help him through some of the difficulties that he's having. So it's pretty true to life, in a sense that we all tend to put our therapists up on a pedestal, but the therapists know that our own health pretty much depends on getting them off the pedestal, and we kind of knock Dr. Peterson off the pedestal a few times in the show.

BB: So how long has the process been for you, writing the show?

AT: Exactly two-and-a-half years. I started to write this show on -- I took my children on a cruise, and while they were playing, I sat with a blank piece of paper in front of the ocean, and I said, "Gee, it's about time that maybe I wrote about something that I had some experience with." And of course, therapy came to mind right away.

 (laughter)

  AT: Since I had had that a number of years! So it started off, and then it was written pretty much in chronological order, starting off with the therapist singing about himself, and as the period went by, a lot of songs were changed. There's probably been about forty songs written for the show, of which twenty are in.

BB: You've got a pretty amazing, experienced cast with you for this show, including two of the lovely young ladies that are here today.

AT: Awesome cast. I mean, I am surrounded by two beautiful women with two incredible voices, and I have to tell you, this, I am -- a lot of people say to me, "Al, go write 'em, but don't sing 'em," because I can't sing. Or, I think I can sing. My brother thinks I sing really well; he's the only one who --

BB: Family always thinks you sing really well.

AT: Even my kids don't think I can sing! But when I hear these two women -- great performers -- sing songs that I wrote, it brings out something in the songs that I don't think I created, I think they did. So it's pretty wonderful to hear it. I never get tired of hearing them sing.

AB/TR: Thank you.

BB: Well, before we go further, why don't we hear one of the songs here live in the studio? What one would you like to perform first? Do you want to set it up?

AT: The first song would be "Feels Like Home," because it comes pretty early on in the show, and one of the characters, Mary, is an abused woman. Her husband abuses her, but she has a difficult time with that abuse because she's used to it – she was abused by her father, and ultimately by her husband, and she still loves him. She realizes that -- there's a line that says: "Love doesn't end with a back of a hand," so she's asked to explain to everybody else what it -- what she would say to her husband if she had the opportunity. And she sings this song.

BB: And this is sung by Trisha?

TR: Yes.

AT: This is sung by Trisha, and it's called "Feels Like Home."

BB: All right.

Listen to a Performance of "Feels Like Home" in Broadway Bullet Volume 119

BB: Trisha, what's some of the stuff you've done leading up to this show? Because you have quite a resume.

TR: Yeah, well, I've done a few Off Broadway shows; quite a few Off Broadway shows. I've been affiliated with Golf: The Musical, some of you might remember that one (laughs) that ran a few years ago. I also have been in and out of Forbidden Broadway over the years. I just recently did Shout! The Mod Musical, that ran at the Julia Miles Theater. But my favorite show I've been affiliated with is The Boy From Oz. I had the wonderful pleasure of working with Hugh Jackman, and a fabulous, fabulous cast. I was the understudy for the Liza Minnelli character.

BB: Is Hugh Jackman as nice as everybody says, or is he really secretly like, this tormented, evil person?

TR: Oh, no, he's a dreamboat. He's like, one of the most professional, most talented people I've ever worked with, so it was just -- and he's as charming and charismatic off stage as he is on stage. So everything you hear about him is absolutely true. He's a wonderful man.

BB: Fran, the piano arrangement is fantastic. I imagine you must have a lot of fun in the show.

FM: I have a great time playing this music, and I do have to say that I'm so impressed and thankful that Steven Gross did such beautiful music supervision and orchestrations. There is such a cinematic quality that he's given to the music --

BB: Well, should we hear one more of the songs? Are you ready to sing another one and set this one up?

AT: This is a song that comes near the end of the show. Dr. Peterson has been essentially seduced -- at least emotionally seduced -- by this beautiful woman named Leila, who has her own problems, her own issues, and she finally has somebody that's listening to her, as opposed to just staring at her. And what she really doesn't see, of course, is that Dr. Peterson's job is to listen to her. But she falls for him, and he is having some issues at home – he's been married for fourteen years, he has some problems, he's not getting as much at home as he would like, to say it in the vernacular – but he does realize that this would be the biggest mistake of his life, if he ever, ever crossed that line with a patient. And he comes to that reality, and he calls Leila. He meets her at the boathouse restaurant in Central Park, and he tells her that he can't possibly go on with this – that he finds her incredibly beautiful and wonderful, but that she needs a man that really appreciates her, and he can't be that man. He leaves, and she sings this song, called "I Will Never Find Another You." She genuinely feels a lot of affection and love for Dr. Peterson.

 BB: And Amy, you'll be singing this one?

 AB: That's right.

Listen to a Performance of "I Will Never Find Another You" in Broadway Bullet Volume 119

BB: Amy, tell us a little bit about your background. You also have quite a resume underneath your belt.

AB: Thanks!

 (laughter)

AB: Let's see --

BB: Are you shy? Do you not want to talk about it?

AB: Oh, no, I appreciate the compliments! Well, I played Laurey in Oklahoma! on Broadway, opposite Patti Duke. When Patti Duke came into the show, I became Laurey, I replaced Josefina Gabrielle. And I played Marguerite in the national tour of The Scarlet Pimpernel, opposite Douglas Sills, and then after Douglas left, opposite Ron Bohmer. And I've been involved, actually, in quite a few new things -- in the past, I would say, five or six years. I recently did the world premiere of Ace, which was at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and the Reportoire Theater of St. Louis. So I've been lucky. I've been busy.

BB: Sessions is going to be running for twelve weeks?

AT: Yes, it's going to run through the middle of August, and hopefully it will then move somewhere else, into another theater. I think that all depends on those people that we call critics. We like them – we love them, by the way.

 (laughter)

AT: We adore them. We wouldn't be able to live without a critic review. So, if the reviews are what we hope, I think the show will continue on, beyond the middle of August. But at least, we run until the middle of August.

BB: Al, you were also involved in a little PBS special that a lot of our listeners are probably familiar with.

AT: Yes, I produced Broadway: The Golden Age, now on DVD, and it did play on PBS, but it also played in the theaters for about a year. And then it played all over the world. It played in Japan, it played in Australia. And it was about the Golden Age of Broadway -- the 40s, 50s and 60s – when nobody was allowed to photograph anything, so if you wanted to see Angela Lansbury in Mame or Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly!, you never really could, unless you saw them on The Ed Sullivan Show, or some other television show. So we were able to interview these people, and they were well into their 60's, 70's and 80's, and 90's. We had Fay Wray, before she died; we had Kitty Carslile, who just died. We had a hundred and ten interviews for this movie, taken over about five years, and about twenty-five percent of them have passed away since the movie was released just a few years ago. So we think we've saved memories that we never would've had, because Rick McKay, who directed this, did a remarkable job. And now he's working on Broadway: The Next Generation, but --

BB: Is that like Star Trek?

 (laughter)

AT: Yeah, it is a little bit like that. Fortunately, they're still alive, though. The ones from Broadway: The Golden Age, little by little, we're losing them, and they're such tremendous talent, and so valuable to us, that it's nice to be able to have them and remember them this way. 

BB: Well, and people get to make some new memories with your great new show. And let everybody know where you can get the tickets, where to go, and all that great information.

AT: Well, you can get it at Ticketmaster or any other place that you can get tickets, or you can e-mail www.sessionsthemusical -- or you can call the box office, or you can call me!

 (laughter)

AT: I'm happy to get you tickets!

 (laughter)

TR: We're at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater on 42nd Street, at the Playwrights' Horizons Building between 9th and 10th, and we're there Tuesday through Sunday.

BB: Well, thanks so much for coming down and talking with us about the show, and for your great performances.

AB: Thank you.

TR: Thank you.

AT: Thanks.

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You can listen to this interview and many other great features for free on Broadway Bullet Volume 119. Subscribe for free so you don't miss an episode.

 or MP3 Feed with XML

 



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