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Interview: Clint Holmes, Will Nunziata & Michael Orland of BETWEEN THE MOON AND NEW YORK CITY at 54 Below

Beloved Seventies singer-songwriter Peter Allen gets a visit from an old friend.

Interview: Clint Holmes, Will Nunziata & Michael Orland of BETWEEN THE MOON AND NEW YORK CITY at 54 Below

Grammy-nominated singer Clint Holmes is one of the industry's most prolific entertainer, returning to the stages of cabaret rooms and concert halls every season with a new show, and the 2022 season is about to get his latest entry, a musical tribute to his late friend, the iconic Nineteen Seventies singer-songwriter Peter Allen. Allen was more than just a contributing creative on songs like "I Honestly Love You" and "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do), he was a defining presence as a pop vocalist, known for his flamboyant fashions, outrageous antics, and endearing personality. Mr. Holmes will explore Mr. Allen's compositions and share memories of their time as as friends in BETWEEN THE MOON AND NEW YORK CITY - THE SONGS OF Peter Allen when it plays 54 Below on September 27th and 28th. The concert, which has been touring the States, was developed with director WILL NUNZIATA, with musical direction by American Idol's Michael Orland, and featuring guest artists at stops along the way - for 54 Below Mr. Holmes will welcome Nikki Renee Daniels to join him for some duet action.

As the days count down to the September 27th opening, Broadway World Cabaret caught up with the trip of creatives in a group email, to discuss the creation of their Peter Allen tribute show, creating a concert over Zoom, and which Peter Allen songs most resonate to each of them.

This digital interview is reproduced without edits, as received from the artists.

Hello Team Holmes! Welcome to Broadway World!

Will: On behalf of Team Holmes, thanks for having us.

We are chatting today about the new Clint Holmes show BETWEEN THE MOON AND NEW YORK CITY. I'd love for each of you fine folks to tell me, in one high-concept sentence, what the show is about to you.

Clint: The evening is a celebration and an exploration of Peter Allen through his music and lyrics

Will: The show is a musical journey of the ebbs and flows of love, loss, life, and hope through the vessel of Clint Holmes and the songs of Peter Allen.

Clint, tell me about your personal relationships with Peter Allen's canon of songs.

Clint: My relationship to Peter's songs grew exponentially as we built this show. I've always loved his music and lyrics but through Will, Michael and my own research I discovered songs I didn't know. Many of them fell into the category of "I wish I'd written that," not because of commercial success, but because I related to them so strongly . A good example of that is a song that Michael introduced me to " SIX THIRTY SUNDAY MORNING " which paints a picture of New York that I know intimately.

Will, when you, as a director, sat down with Clint, the artist, to create a composer-centric concert, what did you both lean into, in order to make it personal, so that it didn't become like a musical Wikipedia entry?

Interview: Clint Holmes, Will Nunziata & Michael Orland of BETWEEN THE MOON AND NEW YORK CITY at 54 Below Will: When Clint and I first sat down to talk about putting this show together we wanted it to feel more like a theatrical concert and to make it feel like not just a musical Wikipedia entry, we both leaned into the reality of the friendship Clint and Peter had. From there, we weaved into the tapestry of the show the songs and anecdotes that told the story of both Clint's and Peter's love of music, family, and life.

Michael, many songwriters are able to place a signature on their compositions, a style that brands their work as their own. How would you describe the Peter Allen style of songwriting?

Michael: I'm a huge Peter Allen fan - going back to the piano bars when i was working in NYC in the early 80's. He even stopped by at Don't Tell Mama when I was playing and I was so starstruck - but they were all of my favorite songs - just loved his chord progressions, and his lyricists he worked with were all amazing - and he was such an incredible story teller that brought it all to life - and he was definitely one of those top 4 singer/songwriters I wanted to be like (including Barry Manilow, Elton John, and Billy Joel).

Clint, as a performer, Peter Allen was broad, bold, and fearless. As a storyteller tasked with telling his tale and your own, is it possible to put all the parts of Peter into the light without sacrificing your own personal aesthetic?

Clint: Honestly this show is expanding my personal aesthetic. I somehow find myself feeling protective of him and at the same time adding his fearlessness to my own. I don't know that I've ever had that exact experience onstage before.

Will, you work with many artists as a director and co-creator: what is your secret to tapping into each person's individuality and intimacy, so that you can bring it to their audiences?

Will: I think it always begins with trust. Clint is someone I have looked up to for close to two decades, and as a Director, I first worked with Clint when I cast him as the lead of an industry presentation of a new musical I conceived and directed around the songs of my late-great friend, Charles Aznavour. Clint had to memorize close to two dozen songs and dig into an array of emotions in a very short period of time. We trusted one another in that process - that led to the development of a shorthand that helped this process run so smoothly. I think as a Director I have the sensitivity, having been a professional performer - I will never have an actor dive into deep waters that I haven't tried or wouldn't try myself. It's a give and take, and Clint is always "game" to "risk it all" and go for it.

Michael, you have played for so many artists during your fabled career, including some who could tend toward being as daring and flashy as Peter Allen. What is the key to Musical Directing a performer whose personality could lead them anywhere surprising during a performance?

Interview: Clint Holmes, Will Nunziata & Michael Orland of BETWEEN THE MOON AND NEW YORK CITY at 54 Below Michael: I have to say that I have been blessed with all the people I've gotten to work with onstage - and one of them is Kristin Chenoweth and another is Marilu Henner and i can now add Clint Holmes to that list - the ability for an artist to be "in the moment" on stage and to be themselves - and to be so real and to be so honest and to just sing the song and to just live the lyric and to let us feel everything they're singing about and to be able to breathe with them onstage every time you work with them - and it can be different every performance - that's the greatest thing to me - so it can always be a surprise - but I'm always ready for anything - I don't ever want to go into autopilot - and that's a gift that a performer has that an audience gets to have the greatest time at a show and I get to be the luckiest music director and pianist being in that moment with them.

Gentlemen, show business remains as transient today as it has ever been, but with the overly abundant usage of Zoom and Facetime, people are finding it easier to put shows together long distance from separate locations. What's the view from where each of you stands regarding the creation of Between The Moon and New York City?

Clint: We all worked through Zoom and Facetime as a matter of necessity, since we literally live across the country from each other. Both Will and Michael are easier with these tools than I am, but they guided me through the process and that work was the groundwork that allowed us to be spontaneously creative when we came together. I was very impressed with us .....mainly them :)

Will: Clint and I built this show from the ground up over Zoom for four months. When the genius Michael Orland was brought on board, we were Zooming him in from Los Angeles, Clint in from Vegas, and me in from NYC. Zoom is a tool that allowed us to be "in the room" with one another without having to actually "be" in the room with one another!

Clint, this concert is touring, and you have special guests joining you for various shows. When it comes time to pick a guest for a show, what are the considerations you have to add to your meditations on casting?

Clint: Obviously, I want someone who I believe will connect to the material. Since the duets are a trio of love songs that, we feel, tell the story of unexpected new love, love that has to end before both people are devastated, and love that ends up in friendship, he or she has to be an actor as well as a singer . The three singers we are using in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and New York are incredible artists who inspire me. Christine Shebeck, Jane Monheit, and Nikki Renee Daniels are all brilliant.

Will, when touring a concert like this, what are the demographics that have to be gauged to determine the places that the show will play, most successfully?

Will: I truly believe that if a show is constructed right, it should be able to play anywhere. What I loved most about putting this show together is seeing how universal the themes are - and how the power of human connection and the need for it, now more than ever, seems to resonate within the fabric of the show - and hopefully the audience as well.

Michael, how does one take iconic songs like those of Peter Allen and arrange them for an artist like Clint? Where does a Musical Director decide to leave something alone and when to try something new?

Michael: It was really interest putting the show together on zoom with Will in NYC and Clint in Las Vegas and me in Los Angeles and all over the place touring with lots of different singers and zooming in from everywhere - but it all really came together (literally came together) in 2 days when i got to go to Las Vegas and Clint and I (along with talented music director and co-arranger Bill Fayne) sat in a room together around a piano and it just flowed out my hands all these ideas - and Clint started singing all these ideas - and Bill would say "How about this" - and we literally came up with everything we hadn't touched upon. Of course after my 16 years on Idol - i never wanted the show to be a karaoke version of anything Peter Allen did - and neither did Clint or Will - so we just wanted to be respectful of the gorgeous library of this beautiful music but getting to put Clint in the music and in the arrangements - and after our first show in Vegas - it just all came together and felt so right and so new and so perfect - and it all felt like we all knew Peter would approve.

Interview: Clint Holmes, Will Nunziata & Michael Orland of BETWEEN THE MOON AND NEW YORK CITY at 54 Below

Boys, I am really looking forward to seeing you all at 54 Below on September 27th, and I am really grateful to you all for doing this interview with me. Before we part, I have to ask the obvious question: What is, for each of you, your personal favorite of the Peter Allen songs, and why?

Clint: Really hard to pick just one but right now I'm loving 'ALL THE LIVES OF ME "

Why ?......... "All the games are gone, we face each other naked, stripped of all disguises. love is being made, and if I make you happy after knowing all you know is really only all that you see ....it's all the lives of me "

Will: Right now it's Quiet Please, There's A Lady Onstage. It's a song that was written for a particular woman close to 50 years ago, yet a song that could have been written for women across the country and around the world today.

Michael: I have always loved a very obscure Peter Allen song called "Six Thirty Sunday Morning" which I was beyond excited to introduce to Clint and when he heard it for the first time he knew he had to include it in the show - and I was so thrilled with that. and thanks so much Stephen - and so appreciate all the amazing work you do to promote so many shows - and a really funny story of how I even started working with Clint - i was doing a few weeks filling in for my dear friend of close to 40 years - Susie Mosher's Line Up at the Birdland - which I love playing for so much - and she told me Clint Holmes was one of the guests - and I begged her to tell him not to bring his music director with him - didn't even know who he was working with at the time - and didn't know either that he was actually in town looking for an m.d. for his new Peter Allen show - well, as luck would have it - he came in that night and it was just a musical match made in heaven - and he asked me right after the show to be his musical director for the new show - and of course i've been a fan since the old days of "My name is michael i got a nickel shiny and new"

Ha..... just wanted to share that. Stay well - so excited for you to see this show - it's beyond - if i may say so myself.

Thanks again, travel safely, and see you at 54 Below!

Will: We are all really looking forward to having you in the audience.

Clint Holmes BETWEEN THE MOON AND NEW YORK CITY will play 54 Below September 27 & 28. For information and reservations visit the 54 Below website HERE.


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