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Interview: Catching Up With MARIO 101!'s Sean Patrick Murtagh

"I do my best to support my fellow artists in any and all ways I can and I am open to receiving that support back."

Interview: Catching Up With MARIO 101!'s Sean Patrick Murtagh Sean Patrick Murtagh recently announced that he is recording his first-ever album. After achieving some impressive success for his Mario Lanza tribute show (including some accolades by award), the operatic cabaret singer and actor took his love of Mario Lanza to the internet, by way of a series of virtual concerts that were broadcast during the pandemic. The tenacious tenor (well... at least, when singing Lanza, he is) has had such a great run of luck with Lanza that an album just seemed to be the next step. So, while making appearances around town in a variety of other musical programs, SPM sat down and began drafting out his recording, including the funding, which is being accomplished by way of a crowdfunding campaign - the way that most independent artists make the magic happen.

So, with a new project, a new look, and a new love, Sean Patrick had a lot to talk about during this online q&a with Broadway World Cabaret.

This interview was conducted digitally and is reproduced with minor edits.

Sean Patrick Murtagh, welcome to Broadway World!

a??Hey BroadwayWorld! Thanks for having me back!

Before the pandemic, you were doing your Mario Lanza tribute show. During the pandemic, you did a series of Mario Lanza concerts online, and now you are recording your Mario Lanza album. Will there be a point, do you think, when you'll be ready to move on to something new?

Interview: Catching Up With MARIO 101!'s Sean Patrick Murtagh a??I'm always ready to try something new as a performer. And actually, at the beginning of lockdown, I did indeed step aside from my Mario Lanza tribute - I created an entire series of concerts throughout the remainder of 2020. Not too long after we realized we'd be inside for more than two weeks, I began to get restless wanting to sing for people again. I happened to be approaching my milestone 10th anniversary in NYC and decided I would celebrate with a living room concert. At the time everyone was making jokes about working from home without pants on, and I refuse to be left out of a fashion statement, and thus was born The Pantsless Living Room Concert Series. A new show biweekly with various themes and a cocktail tutorial, since people were learning to recreate the bar at home. The themes included glimpses into my culture - Strong Latina Influence, O Seanie Boy; my theatrical resume from dreams to callbacks that never came to be - Sides By Sides By Seanie, Keep Dreaming, Back to School; and flamboyant fun - Viva to the Diva, (Send Nudes) My Birthday Show, and Caftans, Cocktails, & Cabaret! Every show featured a new setlist and a different cocktail.

a??What brought me back to Mario was his Centennial. Before lockdown, I had a laundry list of show ideas for my next cabaret, but I knew I would have to come back to Mario to commemorate his 100th Birthday. And I chose the "simple" task of presenting 100 songs from his vast discography. It was such an incredible experience, I felt it only logical to capture not just my hard work, but also my growth as a singer because of this experience onto an album.

When it happens, how hard will it be for you, separating from Mario, artistically?

a??I will never fully separate from Mario. His legacy will forever be an inspiration and aspiration for me. But I am an artist separate from this material, so I must create and continue to grow in as many ways as I am inspired to. And believe me, we haven't even begun to talk about my other musical influences... did you know I wrote a book report on Tina Turner in 6th grade? I'm continually making playlists, taking notes, and building my digital sheet music library with everything from Cat Stevens to Nancy Wilson to Adele.

I will always return to Mario when it is right to return to Mario. I have taken it upon myself to do what I can to preserve his legacy and keep his name on people's lips and his music in their hearts. There will never be a "goodbye," just a "see you later."

You were assertively active on social media during the quarantine. Tell me about that journey and what it gave you, personally.

a??Interview: Catching Up With MARIO 101!'s Sean Patrick Murtagh Well, even before quarantine, my presence on social media has always been dedicated to being light and silly. There is enough going on in the world and no shortage of opinions on any given subject. That's not to say that I don't have my opinions, but I truly believe that my contribution has more effect in providing relief from all the "noise." Again, it all started with the assumption that we were just taking a two-week hiatus. So, my roommates and I turned lockdown into a staycation with themed movie binges and brunches. Well, people really seemed to like our brunch offerings, which inspired us to have more fun and be more creative. Of all the brunches we whipped up, hands down, the very best one was our Eliza Doolittle Day Brunch - a full-on high tea at Ascot...in drag.

Interview: Catching Up With MARIO 101!'s Sean Patrick Murtagh

a??It kept us creative with something to look forward to and work on every week. And it provided engagement with our friends and family who we knew we wouldn't be seeing for a while.

a??I also nannied throughout the pandemic, and you know what? Kids actually DO say the darndest things. It was an experience that brought so much joy at such a rough time, I thought it only right to share some of the gems and laughs with my friends on Facebook.

When the stay-at-home order was lifted, you were one of the artists performing the Dinner Music series at The Westbank Cafe. This was a completely different vibe than your Mario Lanza show. How was the adjustment, going from a structured club act on a stage to a casual music set in a dining room?

a??Interview: Catching Up With MARIO 101!'s Sean Patrick Murtagh COMPLETELY different vibe from ALL the performing I had been doing since March 2020. First of all, I HAD TO WEAR PANTS! I felt like Agador Spartacus in The Birdcage (which was also what they called me in high school, but that's a whole other story....). The adjustment was really easy for me. Before I moved to NYC, I worked in San Francisco as a singing waiter at Max's Opera Café. In between serving Reubens and matzoh ball soup, I would sing for guests, accompanied by two of San Francisco's finest - Joan Edgar and Larry O'Leno. What was nice about singing at The West Bank Café is that I didn't have to wait tables! So when I sang "All the Things You Are," by request, there wasn't someone across the room holding up their Diet Coke indicating they wanted a refill as I sustained the most loving and tender Aa?? ever written by a songwriting team. (I also want to acknowledge how difficult is to be answering these questions without inserting in any of the "Ha-has" I overuse in texting friends to provide tone.)

The dinner music set was a lot of fun and you have a great rapport with your Musical Director Micah Young. Might it grow into something bigger?

a??If you know Micah, you know it is next to impossible not to have a great rapport with him. He is just such a lovely human being and a phenomenal musician. Our friendship seemed to bloom immediately, and he is someone I could talk to about anything for hours. He was one of the first friends I met up with during lockdown for our masked, social-distanced outdoor walks. And who he is as a friend is who he is as your music director - thoughtful, sincere, and with you each step of the way.

a??I would work with Micah in a heartbeat on anything, truly. And that's one of the bonuses of having him as a friend -we have nothing but possibility ahead of us.

You did a little outdoor performing, too. With your big voice, did you eschew the mic and just let it all hang out?

Interview: Catching Up With MARIO 101!'s Sean Patrick Murtagh a??Yes, I did do a little outdoor performing! And it was quite the experience. I was asked to sing at Lincoln Center as part of their Restart Stages initiative, bringing the arts back to New York City. Singing at Lincoln Center has always been a major goal of mine. And while I didn't expect to attain it in the middle of a global pandemic, I gladly, and gratefully, embraced the opportunity to perform on the same grounds as so many heroes of mine: Beverly Sills, Leontyne Price, Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballe. And I must emphasize the gratitude I felt and experienced being part of bringing live entertainment back to New York City and especially Lincoln Center.

a??Singing outside is an experience all on its own. And while completely necessary for health and safety measures as we worked our way towards reopening society, is not the ideal space for big legit voices. I tend to never rely on a mic for amplification, but rather for balance. Not all performing spaces are created equally - both indoor and outdoor - so knowing how to work a mic for each specific venue is something each artist has to learn in relationship to our own voices. Stepping back from the mic allows your voice to bloom before it is amplified. Since there are no acoustics with most outdoor singing, amplification provided by microphones and monitors helps provide a freer and fuller sound without pushing. I was also lucky that I was asked to sing on a Sunday afternoon in August... and AFTER a heatwave. For readers who don't live in NYC, Summer Sundays in New York tend to be a little calmer. The hustle and bustle that New York City is known for leaves town on the weekends in August. So I wasn't competing with taxis and traffic. No, "Hey! I'm walking here!" Just a group of people who came to The Green at Lincoln Center for a relaxing Summer Sunday Soirée.

Put a picture in my head of the recording process for the album.

Interview: Catching Up With MARIO 101!'s Sean Patrick Murtagh a??It's not too different from putting a show together, only much more expensive. But ultimately it's not just recording an album, it is about having to record this album. I have to tell this story and I have to preserve it. After learning and presenting 100 songs in just one year, I am compelled to commemorate the Mario centennial, my personal growth as a singer, and my adoration for this songbook in a physical form. So after diving into all this music, which songs best capture the essence, the diversity, and the overall narrative I want to share with people as to who was Mario Lanza and who IS Sean Patrick Murtagh. And I think it is most important to get this part down first. Clearly, you can swap songs in and out as you move forward, but you have to have a reason and a vision to record. Once you know that, then you get your team together - music director, engineer, photographer, graphic designer, etc. You find the people who are the best fit for the story you want to tell. You make a plan with this team and you find out how you can best support them and let them know how they can best support you. You get the prices upfront for how much each track will cost, how much design will cost, how much publicity will cost, and you commit. Get all of that out of the way and have a clear and honest understanding of that side of things, so you can go into the studio and give your undivided attention to the material.

a??I was lucky enough to assemble such a wonderful team with Yasuhiko Fukuoka (Yaz) as my music director and engineer, Robbie Rozelle as my graphic designer and mentor for the album and Gene Reed as my photographer for the album. Yaz and I went through the music and set up a game plan that worked with our schedules to yield the best results. I am still on the early end of it all, so there is only so much I can actually share from my own personal experience. Without a doubt, I will have plenty more to talk about once the album is out.

You are one of the many artists funding your artwork through crowdfunding resources. What are your impressions of the way art is made today, as opposed to only a few years ago when it took an underwriter or a producer or an angel to help get your work out into the world?

Interview: Catching Up With MARIO 101!'s Sean Patrick Murtagh a??I think crowdfunding is a wonderful way for emerging artists to get a break as opposed to waiting for someone to find them or fund them. I have grown up believing and witnessing the old adage: "It takes a village"... And it truly does take a village or a community to come together and uplift one another to achieving goals and making magic. It is that community that shows up to shows, that tells friends how talented you are, and helps you grow your audience and reach.

a??I can't really speak for the way things were done as I am just getting my feet wet as a solo recording artist. But as someone who refuses to let grass grow under their feet, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to cast my net far via Kickstarter and fund this album into reality. I do my best to support my fellow artists in any and all ways I can and I am open to receiving that support back.

a??That mutually supportive community is especially important coming out of this horrific experience in the pandemic, in which all of us artists had our stages, audiences, and paycheck ripped away from us overnight. But it didn't stop us from creating and providing entertainment. In some of the most innovative ways, we as artists provided entertainment, relief, and laughs. Now we ask for all hands on deck in getting us back on stage, back on tv, and back in the studio.

And while we are talking Kickstarter and my album...

HERE is the link.

On a personal note, you found love during the pandemic. Care to share your story with our readers?

a??Oh goodness, my beautiful boyfriend... I could write a book. Yes, I found love at the most unlikely time. At the beginning of lockdown, I won my MAC Award via Facebook, on my couch, eating nachos in sweats; I was asked to make my Lincoln Center Debut in this pandemic; so many amazing wonderful things happening at such a traumatic time, but the icing on the cake without a doubt is my Jeremy.

a??I was heading home to see my family in the Bay Area for the first time since lockdown. I was going home to reconnect, grieve, and recharge with my loved ones. And in walked Jeremy.I was not going to meet up with boys or any of that. This was a family trip, nothing else...but I was curious to see who was still around San Francisco. I dropped a few pins in the Bay Area before returning home and Jeremy's face popped. My dream guy, right there on my phone. I said "Hi," because why not. He probably wouldn't reply because... oh wait, he said hi... and for a month before I went back home, we chatted every day. We agreed to meet for one drink because this was a FAMILY trip, not a dating trip. 5 hours and 2 bars later, we just knew. We planned one more quick drink before I returned to NYC and another 5 hours later we shared a kiss that would last us until his first visit. In the meantime, we had nightly phone calls, virtual Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and finally the first magical visit, making all of this dream of a reality. Long-distance isn't easy, but it sure is fun and rewarding making work and choosing each other every day.

You have come to be known for your fashion sense, indeed, you're rather a trailblazer in a turban. Talk to me.

Interview: Catching Up With MARIO 101!'s Sean Patrick Murtagh a??I guess you can say I have come to be known for it...but please don't tell too much about what people are saying. The caftans and turbans and heels started long before quarantine and lockdown. I'd say around 2015 my apartment became a home and not just three people living together. There was wine, food, music, and a sense of family. "House Unicorn," as we call it, was born through Game of Thrones viewing parties. What started as just a group of us getting together to watch, eat and drink became an event. Each week I had a theme for the menu, the cocktail, and my attire. (Wow, I just realized the genesis of my living room concerts!) Well, between Payless having a plethora of size 12 heels, Deals & Discounts II, and Amazon, my signature hosting look came into being.

a??I come from a big family, so I truly love having my house full and a spread on the table. The "fashion" is a gaudy, eccentric, and fabulous tribute to the women in my life, mainly my Abuelita and her sisters. It's how I discovered my love of bold prints and costume jewelry.

Sean Patrick Murtagh, thank you for visiting with Broadway World Cabaret today. Send us a CD when it's finished!

You can count on it!

Sean Patrick Murtagh's professional photos are by Gene Reed.

HERE is the Sean Patrick Murtagh Linktree

Facebook/ Instagram/ TikTok/ Twitter: @Seanieboysfnyc

YouTube: Sean Patrick Murtagh

Read the MARIO 101! album press release provided in the space below:

Sean Patrick Murtagh Announces The Mario 101! Vol. 1

His Debut Album

Sean Patrick Murtagh announces his debut album, The Mario 101! vol. 1, releasing 12 tracks celebrating the legendary tenor Mario Lanza. Sean Patrick is a two-time BroadwayWorld Cabaret and MAC Award winner. He is also currently nominated for a 2022 MAC Award for Best Male Vocalist. The album comes on the heels of his most recent concert series, The Mario 100, in which he celebrated the Mario Lanza Centennial by presenting 100 songs from the Golden Tenor of Hollywood's extensive songbook over 12 concerts.

No stranger to the studio, having recorded a number of demos for various writing teams in New York City, this will be Sean Patrick's first time recording as a solo artist. With Yasuhiko Fukuoka as his music director and engineer, the two have selected 12 songs that capture the essence of Lanza's extraordinary discography- from Opera to Neapolitan to Broadway and so much more. This album will not only showcase Murtagh's award-winning vocal prowess but also reflect the lasting impact Mario has had on this New York City-based tenor.

Sean Patrick has recently launched a Kickstarter to help fund the album; offsetting the costs through the generosity of his friends, family, and cabaret community. As is true with many industries, artists were hit hard by this pandemic- "our stages, our audiences, and our income was abruptly taken away. Yet through all of this hardship, many artists rose to the occasion to keep creating and entertaining, and most importantly keep people's spirits up." With a conservative and attainable goal of $12,000.00, Sean Patrick is reaching out to his community and beyond to get this campaign fully funded ahead of schedule. The album will have a release concert in both San Francisco and New York City, his two home bases. All contributions will go 100% to funding the album: studio, graphic design, photography, and engineering. Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing website that requires all campaigns to meet their fundraising goal in order to receive the funds. Murtagh says, "there is no amount too small and definitely not too large. I am a firm believer of the adage, 'it takes a village...' My entire career, I have been fortunate enough to receive so much love and support. I make this album now because I have been uplifted by so many people along the way."

Contributions to the album can be made by going to Linktr.ee/seanpatrickmurtagh and clicking on the Kickstarter tab or directly: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/seanpatrickmurtagh/sean-patrick murtagh-the-mario-101

Sean Patrick was first introduced to Lanza's music back in San Francisco while studying with Richard Nickol at the San Francisco Academy for the Performing Arts (SFAPA). Nickol, who made a name for himself in the Bay Area opera scene for his tributes to Lanza, heard something very early on in Sean Patrick and set him on his own journey of devotion to the golden tenor. "Don't try to mimic him," Nickol would say, "but listen, just listen to him- what is he doing? How is doing it? How can you discover this in your own voice." Though career opportunities took Murtagh on many different roads as a performer, the one constant thing was Mario as a grounding force and as an aspiration.

In 2019, Sean Patrick made his New York City cabaret debut with, Mario! A Salute to the Great Lanza, for which he won the 2020 MAC Award for Best Debut- Male and cemented himself as a fixture in the NYC Cabaret Scene. As he was gaining momentum, the pandemic hit, and lockdowns forced everyone to stay home and performance venues to remain closed indefinitely. Not one to sit still and let the grass grow under his feet, Sean Patrick began a series of virtual concerts, The Pantsless Living Room Concert Series, taking part in the 'work from home with no pants on-trend,' this was a biweekly presentation with a new theme, new setlist, and a cocktail tutorial each show. He brought the entertainment and the bar right to your living room via Facebook and YouTube. The series was nominated for a 2020 BroadwayWorld Award.

As New York City began to open again, Sean Patrick committed to another year of living room concerts- this time with pants on: The Mario 100! Deciding to keep the presentation virtual, as the vaccine roll out unfolded and venues reopened, it was important to him to keep music flowing amid varying levels of individual comfort in returning to in-person venues. Separate from the living room concert series, Sean Patrick Murtagh made appearances at WEST BANK CAFÉ with Micah Young as music director, returned to San Francisco for his annual Holiday Test Drive concert with Dee Spencer on piano, and made his Lincoln Center debut with a brand new concert, Summer Sunday Soirée, with Ben Kiley on piano.

Sean Patrick Murtagh is an actor and singer based in New York City, originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. His work has been seen on theatrical and cabaret stages on both coasts, Off-Broadway, and on TV & Film; Investigation Discovery Channel's HOMICIDE CITY: Philly, The Bachelors of Broken Hill Farm, Barrio Boy, and Night Disclosure, directed and produced by AJ Mattioli. Sean Patrick made his LINCOLN CENTER debut as part of the Restart Stages initiative with his concert, Summer Sunday Soirée. He is the 2020 MAC Award Winner for his cabaret, Mario! A Salute to the Great Lanza and the 2021 BroadwayWorld Award Winner- Best Vocalist & Best Special Event, Solo. Sean Patrick Murtagh is currently nominated for a 2022 MAC Award for Best Male Vocalist. He is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association and is represented for the stage by ATB Talent Agency.

Follow Sean Patrick Murtagh on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/ TikTok: @seanieboysfnyc Subscribe on YouTube: Sean Patrick Murtagh

"The splendor of Sean Patrick Murtagh cannot be denied. With his kind, open face and his rich open sound, I just wanna curl up in his lap and have him sing to me all day." - Susie Mosher, The Line Up at Birdland Theater

"Everything you've heard is true. Sean Patrick Murtagh is, indeed, matinee-idol handsome. The lyric baritone-cum-tenor does, in fact, sing in ways that make you wish you had a hand to hold while listening. He is entirely deserving of the praise and the attention he is garnering at the moment" - Stephen Mosher, BroadwayWorld.com

"What makes his show so wonderful - in addition to his flawless vocal technique - is the funny, often intimate, and always heartfelt commentary in between his numbers. If you ever get a chance to see him perform, please do!" - Sally Hogarty, East Bay Time

"His resonant tenor and thoughtful phrasing takes us home, wherever that is." - Alix Cohen, Woman Around Town


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