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Interview: Triple Threat Jason Graae Always In PERFECT HERMANY

PERFECT HERMANY will be available to stream online through May 2, 2021 as part of 42nd Street Moon’s 2021 Moonbeams season

Interview: Triple Threat Jason Graae Always In PERFECT HERMANY

A co-production of San Francisco's 42nd Street Moon and Long Beach's Musical Theatre West, PERFECT HERMANY will be available to stream online through May 2, 2021 as part of Moon's 2021 Moonbeams season. This homage to legendary Broadway composer Jerry Herman stars the versatile Jason Graae, directed by Lee Tannen with musical direction by John Boswell.

I have known of Jason's comedic talents for years now, seeing him killing it in hysterical musical comedies FORBIDDEN BROADWAY and FOREVER PLAID in the early 2000s. We have shared many a cocktail and hors d'oeuvre at various benefits and theatre openings we've both attended.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Jason!

Well, you know I'm REALLY busy, Gil. I'm doing laundry and I have to walk my dog.

You have a long history with Jerry Herman. Tell us about the first time you met this musical theatre genius.

The first time was when I auditioned for the National Tour of HELLO DOLLY starring Carol Channing. I nailed my audition for Barnaby Tucker. I didn't get it. Starting in 2000, He Walked into My Life, Big Time!

Do you have a favorite Jerry Herman show or song?

Oh, God! So many! "You're My Best Girl" and "Open a New Window" from MAME, "Mrs. Jacobowsky" and "You I Like" from THE GRAND TOUR, "Song on the Sand" and "Put a Little More Mascara On" from LA CAGE, "Dancing" and "World Take Me Back" (which got cut) from HELLO DOLLY. Most every song from MACK AND MABEL and most every song from DEAR WORLD.

What cosmic forces first brought you and Musical Theatre West together?

I played Cookie the tapdancing butler thug in NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT, directed and choreographed by my friends Larry Raben and Peggy Hickey - it was a total ball! I'd seen many great shows there and always wanted to work there.

Interview: Triple Threat Jason Graae Always In PERFECT HERMANY Will this collaboration with 42nd Street Moon be your third (after LITTLE ME and SCROOGE IN LOVE)?

With Moon, I've done galas and benefits and shows, OH MY. I love them dearly. I've done SCROOGE IN LOVE three times there - it won every S.F. award possible! It's a charmer by Broadway legend Larry Grossman, Kellen Blair and Duane Poole. Hoping to bring it to Southern California. How's that for a pitch?

Who gets the credit for the wonderful name of this show PERFECT HERMANY?

Me. You're welcome.

Have you worked with any of the PERFECT HERMANY cast or creatives before?

The director Lee Tannen and musical director John Boswell and I put the show together like 10 or 11 years ago, and John and I have performed it coast to coast. Lee and John are smart as heck, and we all cackle at the same things. I did NICE WORK with the enchanting Kelly Dorney who is one of the special guest singers.

Describe the production process of PERFECT HERMANY? Separate Zooming? Or safely distanced live taping?

We filmed it in the MTW rehearsal hall, and it was very safe and socially distant. Was amazing to sing in the same room with John at the piano.

How long ago did you record your solo CD of PERFECT HERMANY at the Colony Theatre?

2010, I think.

IInterview: Triple Threat Jason Graae Always In PERFECT HERMANY first met you when you were performing FOREVER PLAID. Any plans to bring it back on stage or online?

Did you see our 30th anniversary reunion podcast last summer? MTW produced it. It was surreal and so ridiculously fun to reunite with those Plaidmen and Stuart Ross, the creator. Then we did three PLAIDEMIC concerts at the Ventura Fairgrounds, produced by The Rubicon Theatre. The audience was in their cars, honking and flashing their headlights at us. At first it was off putting, then I craved the honking.

I have seen you at many an Actors' Fund benefit. What causes are you donating your talents to presently?

I continue to do many fundraisers for The Actors Fund. That organization has been invaluable, especially during this past year. I've also been singing for cabarets and theatres that are trying to stay afloat.

Besides singing on the Kritzerland concerts during these pandemic times, what have you been doing to keep safe and sane?

For ten months, I took a Zoom writing class with the incredible Claudette Sutherland who played the original Smitty in HOW TO SUCCEED..., it was a much needed life line and adrenaline rush! I learned so much. Every week we'd write a new story or essay and read it to the class. I stopped in December because I lost my sense of humor. But it's COMING BACK DAMNIT!

You've performed in theaters and venues all over the world. Any place that you haven't that you'd love to mount their boards?

Interview: Triple Threat Jason Graae Always In PERFECT HERMANY I'm sorry - is there a place I'd love to mount on their boards?

SEE I'M FUNNY AGAIN!

Actually, I've never been paid to work at the Taper, so the Taper.

What's in the near future for Jason Graae?

Let's see - walking my dog, watching this virtual PERFECT HERMANY show JUST ONCE, probably while drinking wine, and jogging around the Hollywood reservoir. There's some concerts that I'm hoping to be doing later in the year. I'm hosting a virtual Sondheim cabaret fundraiser in May for the Pacific Residence Theatre. Check your local listings.

Thank you again, Jason! I look forward to viewing your PERFECT HERMANY, and seeing you in person at a upcoming benefit or show.

Thank you so much for talking to me, Gil. If you don't like it, please act like you do.

For viewing tickets for PERFECT HERMANY through May 2, 2021; log onto www.42ndstmoon.org/moonbeams




From This Author - Gil Kaan

      Gil Kaan, a former Managing Editor of the now-defunct Genre magazine, has had the privilege of photographing and interviewing some major divas of film, television, and stage in... (read more about this author)


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