Joshing Around: A Tale of Two Joshuas!
So, what happens when you combine two talented young performers (both named Joshua!), a terrific creative team, a lovely special guest star, and lots of great music? Something, I'm sure, to the effect of Joshing Around, which opens on Wednesday, November 9th at the Laurie Beechman Theatre for a four-show run. I recently had a chance to catch up with the two co-stars, Joshua Warr and Joshua DesJardins, and chat with them a bit about the show!Jenna Esposito: Joshing Around! What a fun idea for a show. How did it first come about?Joshua DesJardins: The idea for "Joshing Around" came about when JW and I met through MAC back in 2010. Both of us were featured in a "new artist" showcase, hoping to be nominated for a MAC Award (which JW was). As we began to get to know one another, we both knew a show together was inevitable. Joshua Warr: We knew we had something interesting between the two of us - the fact that we're two VERY different people. We thought it would be interesting to play on the 'Odd Couple' factor of our friendship, with him being 'the Nerd' and me being 'the Diva' - we promise we didn't type cast ourselves! And next thing we knew, we were on our way to developing a show that would display exactly that - our major differences - but also, the underlying similarities between us. We ALL want to create art that is exciting and substantial and have an amazing time doing what we love to do, surrounded by people that inspire us to be better.
JE: I know both of you have done solo shows in NYC. Is this your first joint venture on a cabaret?JD: Yes, "Joshing Around" is our first show together...although I, for one, hope it's not our last! JE: What was the creative process like? Did you find it easier or more difficult to be putting together a duo act as opposed to a solo show?
JW: It has been exciting. There's a nice give and take to our relationship as friends and performers. He listens to what I have to say, honors my judgments, and then if I still haven't convinced him I am right, he's willing to talk it through! Haha! I'm joking, of course. I think this show is exactly half of us both. Though, I think it is best to say that Dessy [Warr's nickname for Desjardins] knows how to deal with my neuroses and issues fairly well...or so he makes it seem! He's a great balance to me, so the process with Dessy was incredibly smooth. I don't believe we ever didn't see eye to eye! I think a group process has its pros and cons. With it being a joint venture, lots of opinions and minds, the rehearsal process can get very heady - "too many cooks in the kitchen!" Each team member obviously wants their opinions and sentiments heard, but they can't always be honored. So that can get tricky. But in learning to work well as a team, common ground can always be found. On the opposite side, it's exciting to see what IS brought to the table when you have more than just a director and solo performer collaborating with the musical director. There's an incredible amount of information brought to every rehearsal. And this definitely helped some of the process that tends to take more time when doing a show solo, like choosing the songs to sing and fleshing out the through line, and publicity and websites. I mean, the list is rather endless when you produce your own work. So it helps to have, well, lots of help! JD: The creative process for this show was long, but very organic. We originally began coming up with a concept for "Joshing Around" very early in the year. Our dear friend, Russ Weatherford first helped us shape the show into what message we wanted to leave our audience with. We then brought on Tony Bradford specifically for his positive and creative energy. So between JW, Russ, Tony, and myself (not to mention Dan Micciche, our musical director, and Karen Musey, our performer in crime), there were a lot of creative juices flowing at once. Sometimes it was difficult honing in on one idea, but for the most part, we are all on the same page. In the long run, it was much easier than putting on a solo show. Having an entire creative team behind you makes you feel truly supported. Heck, our third performer, Karen Musey, even helped build our website for us! As a matter of fact, that's what our show is about--creating art TOGETHER instead of for and by yourself.
JE: Speaking of all of those people you just mentioned, can you tell me a little bit more about the creative team?JW: The creative team we've assembled has been great. Our Musical Director, Dan Micciche is an absolute God on the piano. He also is an incredible singer who occasionally plays Mary Sunshine in Chicago. I must always point this out, because that role is no piece of cake! Dan's ear is so musically fine-tuned; he can whip anything together in a matter of one minute. It is crazy! I tend to know how I feel about an arrangement on which we're working but I may not always be able to express it in specific words - so I occasionally say things like "no, I want that intro bigger"; "shouldn't the middle pop more?";"don't you think the ending is weak?" He literally makes magic from my NOT so specific suggestions! And as you will hear and see in Joshing Around, Dan Micciche has created a musical life to this story of ours that sounds like an entire orchestra! Our Director, Tony Bradford, was a big help fleshing out ideas that were not working and ideas that needed expansion. I even took dance class with Tony during the rehearsal period! So we not only bonded as director-performer, but as teacher-new tap dance student! Yes, we're tapping in this show - though I use the term loosely. We have a fantastic short dance break in the show. I mean, would it BE a Joshua Warr show if there wasn't at least a little dance involved!? But I really must rewind almost a year and give a HUGE thank you/shout out to Russ Weatherford who helped me and Dessy helm this idea into something tangible, which had substance and truth and honored who we are as performers today. And last by certainly not least is Karen Musey, our partner in crime who plays a pretty fundamental role in this show. Karen's a joy to work with. And she certainly held her own in the rehearsal room between the Joshes. She's an honorary Josh now!
JE: How have rehearsals been going?JD: Rehearsals have been wonderfully! They've been extremely organic, and much of our dialogue has come from improvisation and simply our natural instincts/reactions. Why, even last night we added a couple more songs. But at this point, we're ready for an audience. JE: Is there anything in particular you'd like our readers to know about this show?JD: If I wanted our audience to know anything about our show, it would be to expect a FUN cabaret evening where two completely different performers discover life lessons after being forced to work together. I've come to realize that the art I've created between myself and the rest of this team is much better than if I had worked alone on this project. JW: I think it is important to understand this isn't your typical cabaret. We want the readers to come with an open mind, ready to be affected, and wanting to have a great time... and perhaps dance a little in their seats. It's fun, light hearted, and the music is just terrific! I have had an amazing time singing these songs. I feel they really speak to who I am as both an artist and a person. And I do believe this show is the ultimate "Joshua-Off!" It's about the process, not the product. We actually create a show in front of the audience. So the journey is different than let's say my 2009 show, SING NO EVIL. There IS a case of mistaken identity here, so, what happens next? Come and find out! JE: Can the cabaret world expect future collaborations from the Joshuas?JW: I have a strong inkling the Joshes will be back together in the future... and I'm not just joshing you.JD: I hope the cabaret world can expect more from JW and me. A big goal for us is to take this show on the road (or even on cruise ships), so yes, I can only see this show going further. JE: In three words or less, can you let us know what to expect when we see the show?JW: Three words OR LESS? I am rarely a man of few words! But, okay ... 1 - Painting. 2 - The. 3 - Town!!
JD: Lots of joshing!
JE: Sounds like fun to me! Break a leg, guys!
Joshing Around will be performed at The Laurie Beechman Theatre on Wednesday November 9th at 9:30 p.m., Tuesday, November 22nt at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 30th at 7:00 p.m., and Wednesday, December 21st at 7:00 p.m. There is a $20 cover charge + a $15 food/drink minimum. Reservations (strongly recommended): 212-695-6909. For more information, please visit www.joshingaroundnyc.com.