BWW Interview: Jacquelyn Holland-Wright, Dr. Philip Fortenberry And Keith Thompson of ANYWAY at Myron's Cabaret Jazz At The Smith Center For The Performing Arts
Whether you are a fur parent or supporter, people are stewards of the planet supporting furry friends. Actress and singer Jacquelyn Holland-Wright and pianist Dr. Philip Fortenberry will perform a heartwarming benefit concert, ANYWAY, to honor and benefit pets at Myron's Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center on Sept. 6.
Las Vegas composer, director, and co-producer Keith Thompson wrote the title song, "Anyway." Holland-Wright and Fortenberry have wanted to collaborate and create something special for over a decade. The opportunity to support Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine became the catalyst to motivate them to produce and perform together. Thompson became the fire under them, getting creative minds organized while guiding everyone through the process of collaboration with love, insight, and experience.
BroadwayWorld.com caught up with Holland-Wright, Fortenberry, and Thompson about furry fun and vocal delights while helping animals.
Will the show feature animal-themed songs?
Jacquelyn Holland-Wright: The show will feature the right balance of animal-themed songs, and we have some great songs to celebrate all animals. The show is a great balance of songs from Broadway, original compositions, comedy, and heartwarming ballads.
What did the songwriting process involve writing the title song?
Keith Thompson: This was a very easy process. I spent a little time one afternoon with Jacquelyn to discuss the motivation for the show and reflected on my own feelings about being a pet owner and guardian. I went to bed that night, and when I woke up the next morning, all the ideas for the lyrics and the rhymes had come to me during the night as if I had dreamed them. I had fun putting the lyrics to music that morning, and later that afternoon, I shared the song with Jacquelyn. It flowed smoothly and perfectly as if it were meant to be!
Any funny stories you can share about pets?
Dr. Philip Fortenberry: Shortly after I first moved to New York City, one morning, I was getting ready to go out for a run in Central Park. As I tried to put on one of my shoes, my foot wouldn't go all the way in because of something in the toe. After a couple of tries, I shook the shoe, and a mouse fell out and stumbled around on the floor, looking like it had been kicked in the head (which, of course, it had). It promptly scampered away. Having been slightly upset over discovering this unwelcome small guest in my shoe, I thought that if I had a cat, I probably wouldn't have any more mice! That very day I went to the SPCA on the upper east side of Manhattan and adopted a kitten that had just been found with its three siblings. It was love at first sight. I took Thelma Louise home with me, and she was the love of my life for the next 23 years.
Why was Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine was selected to benefit from this concert?
Jacquelyn Holland-Wright: Washington State University was chosen specifically because of Dr. Jon Pennell, who was my dog Gus' vet through his battle with cancer. Dr. P is an alumnus of Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Their program is state-of-the-art with staff and students who have given their lives to help our pets, and their oncology department is unlike any other I have encountered. The program there is world-renowned, and I committed Dr. P and Gus to do all that I could to find the absolute best treatment for pets with cancer.
You have produced and directed so many shows. What makes this one different?
Keith Thompson: Every show is different and unique. Working with these two powerhouse performers is a pleasure. This is a true, first-time collaboration for the two of them on this scale, and I just used my experience having directed shows in Myron's Cabaret Jazz Showroom to help guide and mold them as they went on this journey. Their shared passion for pets and animals, in general, made this experience very special and indeed unique. It has been great fun from start to finish.
You have performed in CATS as a pianist. What do you think about the upcoming movie?
Dr. Philip Fortenberry: The first time I saw CATS on Broadway, I simply didn't get it. I didn't understand what had made it such a big deal and I was certain I'd never play it. However, I did eventually join the national tour of CATS in, of all places, Jackson, Mississippi. I actually loved playing the show and have been blessed by so many wonderful people I met in various productions of CATS. I've only seen a few advertisements for the upcoming movie, and I'm very intrigued by the look of the design and certainly the casting. Having only played or seen live productions of CATS since I didn't see the first movie, this is a film I really do look forward to seeing.
Holland-Wright was born and raised in Kailua, Hawaii and is a 30-year veteran performing on various stages. She currently stars as the character Soap Star in Menopause The Musical, the longest-running musical in Las Vegas.
Dr. Fortenberry's distinguished career has made him one of the most sought-after pianists on the Great White Way. He was the hand and body double for actor Michael Douglas in HBO's biopic "Behind the Candelabra," and has performed on numerous concert stages. This fall he will embark on his second solo, a three-week concert tour of China.
Thompson is co-producer with Fortenberry for PK Entertainment with their hit musical show, The Cocktail Cabaret. His numerous credits include co-composer of Idaho! The Comedy-Musical, musical director of Jersey Boys, and founder and host of the nonprofit The Composers Showcase.
The show is a celebration to honor pets that have been devoted companions through every chapter of life. The show will entertain as well as help make a difference for pets battling cancer. Proceeds from tickets sales will benefit Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine for biomedical and oncology research. For more information, visit www.vetmed.wsu.edu.
Actress and singer Jacquelyn Holland-Wright and pianist Dr. Philip Fortenberry will present ANYWAY, a fur-nominal, heartwarming benefit concert to honor the furry friends in Myron's Cabaret Jazz showroom in The Smith Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6. Tickets are available at The Smith Center Box Office, by calling 702-749-2000, or online at www.thesmithcenter.com.