ALEX FRANCIS TALKS ED SHEERAN, TOURING & THE POWER OF MUSIC 0 700

Having opened for the likes of Stereophonics and with a number of as yet unannounced festival dates for the summer coming up, singer-songwriter and guitarist Alex Francis is starting to make waves. While supporting US music YouTuber Megan Davies on her first headline UK tour, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with him after the first night show in Manchester to chat favourite songs, future plans and his admiration for Ed Sheeran.

TITL: Guitarists have long since been a staple of the music industry, but what is it about the instrument that makes you connect with it so strongly?

Alex Francis: That’s a great question. When it comes to outside my voice, it’s my instrument. Guitar playing has always been a vehicle of sorts for me I guess. I didn’t go into music just to play guitar – my brother plays really well and he’s developed an amazing style – but I came into guitar playing later on. I like it and I was interested by it, but I was never on a quest to learn “Stairway To Heaven” or anything like that. I started singing from a young age and I decided that I needed an instrument to be a vehicle for that. It could have been the piano; I’m trying to chase that path as well at the moment. My sort of genesis of guitar playing, stylistically…I like the idea that I have a feel for how I do it. I don’t really know how best to describe what that is. I just use it as a vehicle to carry what I’m doing.

TITL: There’s a very Ed Sheeran-esque sound and tone to your voice, particularly when it comes to certain songs in your set…

AF: I love Ed Sheeran..

TITL: Given how he’s, I’d say, easily the most modern, successful guitar player in the world right now, do you ever feel any pressure to sort of live up to that and find yourself maybe one day selling out a stadium like Wembley or the Etihad, like he has?

AF: I think what Ed Sheeran is doing is phenomenal. Being able to do that – sell out shows at Wembley and here in Manchester as you mentioned – is incredible. What makes him so admirable, when I think about it is the fact that he’s presenting those songs in their most basic format. Now I’m all for production, I love all that stuff and I do it with my own records, but that guy can present his music in such a bare bones kind of way and it’s the truth and the power of a strong melody and great lyrics. When I think about him, it fills me with great hope that you can be a great songwriter with your lyrics and your narratives, your melodies and it’s still strong enough to connect with people on that scale. I’m a great admirer of Ed Sheeran; I think he’s doing a great thing not even just for a genre but music as a whole; the way he writes such great songs that people are receptive to – there’s a power in that.

TITL: I’m assuming you’ve played bigger shows than the one you did tonight, so taking that into account, how do you personally feel about playing smaller, more intimate venues like this one?

AF: I’ve been very lucky to play some really big theatres and arenas and to go out with other acts that are doing that but to be truthful, I get a kick out of every single version of a venue. Like tonight, for example, it doesn’t and didn’t matter to me how many people were here; we had a cool crowd tonight. I’m just want to connect with people, like I have with you. We hadn’t met each other until tonight, but we connected, and I’m glad to be able to talk to you about this. For me, I guess I’m looking for connection. There was a fella I was talking to just now and he asked me what it was I wanted from this and what I wanted to do…I’m just happy to give my art out to people. I want to be able to connect; that’s the only thing I really want. I like to give this out, I want it to be public and I just want to connect with people..on any level.

TITL: It’s been said over time that many things can bring people together and connect them with one another, but I guess music is a key part of that. Music has stood the test of time whereas many other things and ‘ideas’ per se haven’t..

AF: You can trace music back…it’s primitive. You can go back to a caveman hitting a club against the side of a wall because it meant something and people responded to that. I believe in the power of music. I’ll say this as well, sometimes playing in front of a really, really big crowd is sometimes much, much easier than playing in front of a small one because you don’t have such a level of attention that maybe you’d hope for, when compared to large audiences. We’re stripping these songs really far back, and as you were saying about Ed Sheeran earlier, you give people the bare essence and if that’s strong enough, then hopefully you’ve got something good. I wouldn’t speak for Megan but I’m sure she would come from the same place.

TITL: Megan mentioned earlier that it’s the connection to her music that she cares about most when it comes to people’s reactions, and that she once got a message from a soldier overseas who listened to her songs to help him sleep.

AF: Oh wow. People respond to the power and the connection, primitiveness of music.

TITL: Speaking of the connection so many of us have to and with music, which song do you personally feel most emotionally connected to?

AF: That’s a great question. Do I only get one?

TITL: Yes.

AF: You can’t do that to me!

TITL: I can…I did it to Megan earlier…

AF: I tell you what, I’ll give you one song but it won’t be the only one I can think of. I would say…maybe “Case Of You”. Actually, let me scratch that one. Let me think…I love “Man In The Mirror” by Michael Jackson. I love that song – there’s something really ethereal about that song. It puts the hairs on my arms up every time I think about it. He accesses something in that track. I’m not talking about him…I mean he was an artist, but there’s something in that song…a message. It’s a message that people try and do a lot; it’s been tried in other songs and been done well, but I think the message in that track is incredible.

TITL: Just in case you wanted to know, Megan chose “River” by Joni Mitchell..

AF: Ah! And yours?

TITL: “Everybody Hurts” by REM.

AF: Incredible…incredible.

TITL: I can come back to that song at any time, no matter what mood I’m in, but especially when I’m feeling a little low, and the message of that song – the reminder that I’m not alone, really touches me. And I think it does for a lot of people.

AF: It’s a beautiful song. Michael Stipe has such a beautiful turn of phrase to his lyrics. It’s such a relatable lyric, isn’t it? It’s one of those songs…kinda like one of those Motown tracks from back in the day when they were so simple but so profound.

TITL: It’s proof that you don’t need heavy instrumentation or production to get a message across or make a song connect with an audience. If the lyrics are honest and heartfelt enough..

AF: I’m really into those kinds of songs. I feel like we’ve got a common thread here; we’ve been talking about Ed Sheeran, “Man In The Mirror” and now “Everybody Hurts”…they’re songs that just give you the message straight up and down.

TITL: There’s something almost therapeutic about the message in those songs..

AF: Exactly and we understand what it means to have a connection to a song in that way. Some people do, some people don’t. It’s like that Bob Marley quote: “The greatest thing about music is that when it hits you, you feel no pain.” It’s a great way of putting it.

TITL: So how did this run with Megan come about?

AF: I have a great agency who work wonders for me in the UK and do the same with Megan. I met Megan for the first time tonight. We’ve been talking and conversing via social music. I listened to her music and my agent pitched it in, saying he thought it’d be a really cool fit. For the last few months, I’ve been going out with artists who are trying or starting to break through over here, which is very much what we’ve been trying to do with my music. I love what she’s doing and I love the way she approaches her own music, the songs that she covers. She’s got a really individual style of doing that. It’s really cool, the way she blends all the music and the rest of it. I was like “yeah, let’s do it..let’s get on board.” Any opportunity to tour. I was just talking to Kelsea (Megan’s manager) earlier and saying the same thing. I love being on the road, wherever I am and the same goes for Gee my guitar player.

TITL: How have you found audiences to be different or similar when playing shows here and elsewhere in Europe or in the States?

AF: As far as the US is concerned, I’ve done literally a handful of shows over there. I haven’t done a massive amount. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Europe in the last 18 months. One thing I have found is that in my experience, being a relatively new act to a lot of people, I tend to feel like, especially in Northern Europe, they’re very receptive to music that isn’t perhaps on their radar. In the UK, I think we’re quite choosy about what we like, but I’m the same. I was born in Hampstead; I’m as English as it gets. You kind of have to ‘earn’ it a bit more over here – don’t get me wrong, I haven’t got a problem with doing that, and that’s part of the path we’re on. I feel like people can get on board with your music for a little bit less in Europe, but at the end of the day, I just want people to connect with the songs. As for the US; I’m dipping my toe in…I’m going to be in Austin next month playing SXSW. Excuse my French but it’s a bit of a clusterfuck of opportunity…so I’m gonna try and be in as many places, meet as many people as I can.

TITL: So aside from this tour and SXSW, what does the rest of 2019 have in store for you?

AF: We’ve got some pretty tasty ones in the diary for the summer festival circuit. Some of it’s still unconfirmed and I’ve been sworn to secrecy, so if you’re sniffing for an exclusive, I’m hard pressed to let the cat out of the bag. There’s going to be festivals all summer and then I’m going back to Germany in September; doing a little run of headline dates there. We actually rejigged the dates because the Megan opportunity came up, so I’ll be there in September and then I’ll be in New York that month too. I should probably mention too that I’ve got a single out right now called “Whatever Happened..”

TITL: Go on, give it a plug..

AF: It’s out now on Apple Music, Spotify. We played it tonight. And, we have another one dropping on May 3rd so keep a look out for that. There’s a video dropping in a few weeks. Social media is AlexFrancisMusic..check it out.

TITL: Looking further ahead, and given, as you’ve said, that you’re a relatively new artist, what’s the long term goal? What’s the big ambition?

AF: It’s actually really hard to know. It’s kind of tricky to pin down quite what that should be or what that is. All I can really say is that I’m going to try and keep developing what I’m doing. I want to try and become more familiar to people. I’m not trying to conquer the world, I’m not trying to get 10 million listeners on Spotify…I just wanna keep playing shows and have people connect with the music. This is so cool because you didn’t know me from Adam today and I just met you, and you were like “I wanna hear what he has to say”…sometimes I ramble and talk crap, but this is so much of the reason I want and wanted to come out and do this kind of tour with Megan and again, I don’t want to speak for her, but I think she would vibe on this as well. You want to access people, you want to meet people and talk to people. I got a really lucky opportunity to go out with Gee and the rest of my group and open for Stereophonics in Europe. This time last year we were still out…and it was cool. Sometimes it felt like a film…being whisked around all sorts of places, and it was so exciting to do it. We had such a blast every night and we got to get my music out there to people, hoping they’d connect with it.

TITL: I asked Megan the same question and she said, very much as you have, that her ambition is to get her music out there and have it connect with people.

AF: Exactly – for me, the connection is what matters. And, if I’ve got an end goal, it’ll be to do this until I can’t do it anymore.

Check out “Whatever Happens” below and for more information on Alex Francis, visit his website, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter. Header photo credit: James Boardman.

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ANDREA EVANS TALKS ‘ROCKING THE COUCH’ & UPCOMING PROJECTS 0 109

Having been in the entertainment business since she was 10 years old, Andrea Evans is no stranger to the highs and lows of Hollywood, but the events of recent years involving the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and the ever growing #MeToo movement have now seen her add another bow to her already impressive resume, as a producer of the new documentary Rocking The Couch. The documentary features interviews with many victims of Hollywood sexual assault, as well as several individuals who were involved in the Wallace Kaye case of 1992 and takes a long hard look at the cases both past and present and the valuable lessons that, for the most part, still haven’t been learnt. With the documentary proving to be a huge success, ThisIsTheLatest spoke to Andrea about why she got involved, whether she might one day move into directing and where and when fans can see her on screen next.

TITL: Rocking The Couch is largely fuelled firstly by the case, led by twelve women who were brave enough to speak out, brought against Wallace Kaye in 1992. For anyone who is unaware of the story, could you sum it up for me and explain ultimately how it’s impacted this documentary?

Andrea Evans: A lot of documentaries tend to follow their own path and that’s exactly what happened with this one. My co-executive producer, friend and director Minh Collins and I were first only going to interview people from the past few years or thereabouts and build the documentary around that, but then my husband brought to my attention the case brought against Wallace Kaye, as you say, in 1992, in Hollywood. The fact he had to bring this to my attention is kind of the whole point – I was an actress, living in Hollywood in the 1990’s and I’d never heard this story, or anything to do with it. The story itself is led by 12 young, aspiring actresses, interviewing with a talent agent at the time who then sexually assaulted each of them. They went to their unions to complain, the unions told them to forget about it and then finally, one of the actresses, who wasn’t with a union, called the police who got involved, and these women took him to court and won.

You would think that that would make news, and that there would be a lot of attention about it, but there never was. When I started interviewing people about the case, they were shocked because I was the first person who had ever contacted them. That became sort of the main feature, the meat of the documentary was this case – how did it happen and why, and also why didn’t we hear anything about it.

TITL: As an actress yourself, is the behaviour and attitudes towards women addressed in Rocking The Couch something you’ve experienced yourself or is it something you just feel passionate about enough to have done something to help stand against it and spread the word?

AE: I think pretty much every actress in Hollywood – and a lot of actors too – we don’t want to leave men out of this, I think it’s a very big issue with and for them as well, particularly with gay men – but yes, we all have stories. My stories, thank goodness, were not as traumatic as some of the stories we feature in the documentary. We did interview me, as well, as one of the subjects, but my stories were not that good in comparison to other people’s so I had to put myself on the cutting room floor – something that I never thought I would actually do, or say I’ve done. We also bring up the fact that, I think we have some interviews with Carrie Mitchum, the grand-daughter of the famous actor Robert Mitchum, where she discusses how we all knew this was going on and that’s true – we all did. If you heard from celebrities who said they were blind-sided or didn’t know about it, they’re lying, because we all knew, and we all saw it. It was definitely something that needed to come out into the light, needed to be addressed and needs to stop.

TITL: Exactly how shocked are you that lessons weren’t, and, as proven by the scores of recent cases made against a number of men in the industry, haven’t been learned in the more than two decades that have passed since the Kaye case?

AE: I think society is changing and that’s why you and I are having this conversation. I think the way society looks at sexual abuse and sexual assault, certainly in the workplace, is changing. And maybe social media has something to do with this, but I think as a society, we are now finally starting to actually pay attention to the victims, to listen to what they are saying. You’re a woman and I’m sure you’ve heard these things before, you know ‘dress appropriately’ ‘You don’t wanna do this…’ It shouldn’t be the way that a woman dresses that makes her the victim of a crime. But yet, so many women, who have been a victim of these crimes, are accused are bringing said crime upon themselves, because there’s something in or about their behaviour, and I think as a society we’re finally looking at that, paying attention to what happened to these women.

My favourite instance I bring up about how society, in more recent times, is how we look at all these instances in the Catholic church. Priests have been accused of abusing young boys, and we never asked these young boys the sort of things that have been asked of women over the years – we took them at their word. Why wasn’t that the case with the women who spoke out? Why weren’t they taken at their word, for all these decades? That’s the more interesting question.

TITL: You’ve said in the past that this documentary presents a “realistic view of what happened” and that it includes “things that (you don’t think) the mainstream media did.” What exactly do you mean by that?

AE: Certainly when we were bringing to light the Weinstein case, I don’t think the mainstream media paid much attention to the struggle undertaken by actresses – and actors – trying to get into the business, and that, to my mind, is where most of the abuse happened. Abuse often happens to the most vulnerable, and because there’s no real path towards becoming an actor or actress, much like becoming a lawyer or doctor, there have been a lot of people who’ve taken advantage of that – people anxious to get their foot in the door of the industry. They’re eager and anxious…and that’s where and when the majority of these people end up in trouble.

It’s easier to get a film about A-List celebrities who are being abused or to get that on the evening news, because we all like to hear about celebrities, but that’s not the case for the majority of these cases. They’re people who are just trying to get into the industry.

TITL: If for instance, the #MeToo movement hadn’t started up and women hasn’t started speaking up, do you think you’d have still made this documentary and released it, or is it something you were ultimately spurred on to do as a result of the outpouring of outrage that came with the accusations and cases made against the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby?

AE: I would love to think that I would’ve made this movie anyway because I do feel strongly about this issue, but I also know that when the Weinstein and Cosby cases first came to light, my partner and I were just having coffee and got to thinking about how someone should really look into this, and could make a great documentary out of it, and we sort of looked at one another and both had the same idea – ‘Why not us? Let’s do this.’

I was inspired by the #MeToo movement and driven to tell what we feel is the true story, and to try and show it from several different angles, including Carrie Mitchum’s remarks that we all saw it. I saw instances in my working career of women that were being approached and maybe took producers up on their approach – I certainly saw that – and said nothing, as did many people. I’m glad now that we can get it out in the open and tell what’s really been happening.

TITL: You co-produced this documentary with your director from The Hit List Minh Collins and Jerry Sommer. What would you say you each brought, in creative terms, to the documentary?

AE: Minh was the director and obviously, having directed before, he was able to pull it all together and put into the shape it is now. Jerry did a lot of the filming as well and the editing. I know from my own part, that it was extremely important to have a woman on board and I went to every interview, even if I wasn’t asking the questions – I wanted to be there to show my support for every single woman, and so that she would feel more comfortable and know that there was someone there who would understand her point of view. They were being brave enough to tell their story and I just wanted to be there to help, in any way I could, to make telling that a little easier for them.

I also sought out a lot of the people you saw and see on the air – I was the one that got in touch with them, and I don’t want to say ‘convinced’ because a lot of the people that came forward, even the people on the Wallace Kaye case – the lawyers, the victims, the very brave policewoman who went in, knowing she would probably be assaulted, but wanted to be there for those women and without her, the case would never have come out – they were all very anxious to tell their story. They wanted the truth to come out and I think it was therapeutic for them. Hopefully, my being a woman helped them with that.

A huge part of why I got involved with this is that I am loaning my celebrity to this movie, in publicising it and trying to get it out there so people pay attention. There are so many good films and documentaries that go completely unnoticed, that don’t get the attention they deserve and that’s a big part of my contribution to this film.

TITL: How has the reaction been to the film so far and, what do you most want those who see it to take away/learn from it?

AE: I have been thrilled with the reaction. Here in the States, it’s been really big – it keeps growing and growing. We’re now being distributed, with Amazon, to pretty much every country that speaks English, and the interest in the UK has been steadily growing as well, which I am very happy and pleased to see. It’s very gratifying – I’ve never been a producer really, I’ve never had this experience of creating something from the very beginning and taking it out to audience and getting their response. I hope the viewers in the UK will check it out, look at it and see our work and let us know what they think. Amazon has been so happy we’re now talking about an addition documentary, so any comments people have, any ideas, I would love to hear them.

TITL: Is there anything you can tell me about this potential second documentary or are you still sketching out ideas etc. for now?

AE: We’re still sketching out the ideas for it, so I can’t really tell you anything about it, but I would love to talk to you about it when it is released. I’m so thrilled that I’m even able to talk about it and that this one has been so successful – that kind of blows my mind, having been a first time producer in particular.

TITL: Looking to the future, do you think the likes of the #MeToo movement can, as we’ve seen make an impact, but one big enough to actually eradicate the sort of behaviour that the documentary focusses on? What more can and needs to be done to ensure incidents like those so many women have spoken out about in recent months never happen again and that those who are actively involved in such are punished in a suitable way?

AE: We’ve yet to see how big of an impact all this has and that’s gonna take some time. Hopefully our daughters and grand-daughters won’t have to deal with this kind of subject, which brings to mind another reason and part as to why we did the documentary. My daughter happened to be on break from school when we were fifteen and she wanted to come to the set. I was a little wary about that – she is not quite fifteen – and I wondered whether or not I wanted her to hear these stories. She wants to go into the entertainment industry so I thought ‘yeah, she should hear these stories’, because the really only true way to prevent these kinds of situations is to truly do everything in your own power to prevent it. Even if the #MeToo movement has a HUGE amount of success, even if it reduces these sorts of problems by 90%, there will still be that 10% where things happen. So the best way for people to eliminate it is to protect themselves and I hope that men and women who want to go into the entertainment industry will watch this documentary and use it as a bit of a cautionary tale. My daughter said she learned a huge amount from watching it, like how to minimise your risk by doing things like not going out for drinks with someone who’s trying to help you break into the industry. Minimise the risk as much as possible, and hopefully that will help that 10% I referred to earlier.

TITL: Where do you go from here then? Do you maybe want to move into the directors’ chair next time or are you happy where you are, producing and giving your name and status to a cause or a film you’re passionate about and eager to help get the word out about?

AE: I really enjoyed the producing. At some point yes, I would love to try my hand at directing and might have a little go during the next documentary just to see how I get on, but my main bread and butter is my acting career. I love it and I love the industry – it pains me to have to do documentaries about such a negative aspect of a business that I’ve been in since I was 10 years old, and that has been very good to me – so hopefully I can help it, and help maintain some of the integrity of this business in my own little way because I really do love it.

TITL: Finally then, in terms of your acting career, have you got any projects in the pipeline you can tell me about?

AE: I don’t know what airs in the UK, and that’s a problem, but I am in series available on Amazon Prime called The Bay – which is so much fun to do. I’m working with a lot of people I’ve worked with before in other situations, and I just came on in season four as a real troublemaker and I believe I will be making a lot of trouble in season 5 which will air next year. People can watch me there.

Rocking The Couch is via all VOD platforms including Amazon and Vimeo now. To keep up to date with Andrea Evans, follow her on Twitter.

DOREEN TAYLOR TELLS ALL ABOUT HER OFF-BROADWAY SHOW “SINCERELY, OSCAR” & LOOKS TOWARDS A VERY BRIGHT FUTURE 0 201

Doreen Taylor is no stranger to dreaming big. With two music and performance related degrees under her belt, an array of theatre production credits to her name and a successful career as a solo artist, she’s ambitious and not afraid of people knowing it. After her production “Sincerely, Oscar”, which she created and produced herself, had a successful run in Philadelphia last year, the show has now moved to New York and is currently undertaking a 14 week run at Theatre Row, Off-Broadway. In between shows, Doreen kindly took the time to chat to ThisIsTheLatest about the creative process behind the show, her memories of opening night and where Sincerely, Oscar might go in the future.

TITL: First of all, for those unfamiliar with you and your background, can you just give a little insight into your music and performing career? 

Doreen Taylor: I’ve been performing for many years now, and having earned myself degrees in both opera and voice performance, I consider myself very fortunate to have been a part of some fantastic theatre productions including Robert Ward’s The Crucible, in which I played Abigail Williams, and Christine in Phantom Of The Opera. In terms of my music, I released my first album Magic back in 2012 while my latest album Happily Ever After has received great reviews and is to hopefully become an Off-Broadway musical in the next couple of years.

TITL: You’ve been pretty busy lately with your off Broadway show, Sincerely, Oscar, after a successful run in Philadelphia last year. How does it feel to know you’re working on the same streets and around the same venues as some of the biggest and most popular musicals and shows in the world? 

DT: It is pretty surreal. One of the very first musicals I starred in when I was just a kid was “42nd Street” and now here I am all these years later starring in my very first show I have written in an iconic theater on 42nd STREET! It is pretty amazing how life can just come around full circle and give affirmations that I have been on the right path all along. I guess the most amazing part is that the shows that we are honoring by the great Oscar Hammerstein all opened on Broadway within one mile of where we are performing “Sincerely, Oscar” now. That is a pretty humbling feeling!

TITL: You created and produced the show yourself – what is it about this particular show that made you want to bring it to life in the way that you have?

DT: It’s weird… I was busy working on my mainstream Adult Contemporary music career writing, producing and performing my own music and this opportunity came out of nowhere at a music video premiere that I was hosting. I was lucky enough to meet the grandson of Oscar Hammerstein and his lovely family at this event and we instantly hit it off. I felt a strong calling to use my talents to bring recognition to Oscar and help honor this iconic Broadway legend. I created the previous iteration of the show and debuted it in Philadelphia and we did so well that I wanted to bring it to the heart of Broadway. I worked for over a year and a half developing “Sincerely, Oscar” and am so proud at the finished product. It is truly like my child and I feel as though I have nurtured and loved it every step of the way.

TITL: Did you have any prior creative/production experience prior to this or was this project something you felt so passionately about you just had to give it a first time try? 

DT: I always have had a hand in producing my solo mainstream concerts that we have toured around the US, and even some of my music videos, but this is the first time I have written and produced something of this colossal size and importance on the theatrical stage. I feel so lucky that I have been given such a great opportunity right out of the gate!

TITL: Can you talk me through the creative process for the show? Where did your first ideas come from and how did you expand them over time to the point you realised you could make your thoughts and ideas a reality? 

DT: I think the most incredible achievement in the creative process of this show was the way we created the role of “Oscar Hammerstein” himself. Early on, I got it stuck in my mind that I wanted to do something unique and totally “out of the box” for his character. I had just visited Las Vegas and caught a Michael Jackson tribute show at Mandalay Bay where they had created Michael as a hologram and he interacted with the other performers. It blew me away and never quite left me. I wanted to be the very first to bring this technology to the NY stage and I never really let go of that idea – even when others said I was crazy! And now, here we are, being the very first production ON or OFF Broadway that has used this 3d holographic technology in a theatrical production. It is really quite stunning and impressive and I am so honored to be the one to pave the way for this new technology. Sure, there has been some blow back from purist critics who don’t believe in bringing this kind of technology to the theatrical stage- but I have news from them—like it or not, it’s coming and “Sincerely, Oscar” is living proof of it. You can’t stop progress.

TITL: Were there ever any days or times that you questioned or doubted what you were doing, or were you 100% committed to?

DT: Every. Single. Day. It would be weird if I didn’t occasionally doubt my creative choices- especially when you have to deal with ridiculous opinions from people who are afraid of the technology or of the advancement. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have changed anything and I am so proud at what has been created. I sometimes sit back while I am performing in the show and absorb the incredible audience response and feel a huge sense of pride that I am here and I am able to live out this incredible dream!

TITL: How did you bring the production’s cast/crew together? Were/are they friends of yours or did you put out a casting call? When did you know you’d found the right people for each part of the show? 

DT: A little of column A, a little of column B. In the case of my gifted director, Dugg McDonough, we had worked together years ago in several productions at Temple University as well as Des Moines Metro Opera Company. I immediately thought of him when I was creating this show and asked him to return to collaborate on this project. As for the rest of the cast and crew, most were hired from referrals and casting. One of the hardest parts of creating any new production is finding the right people to work on it. I can honestly say that in all my years of performing professionally, I have never worked on a show where I truly like and respect every person that is there. This is the first time I can say that. We have become like a family and we all look out and protect each other. It is a really wonderful thing.

TITL: What can you recall of the infamous opening night? Were you nervous or just buzzing and raring to go? 

DT: It went by SO fast! I can say that I am a little nervous before every show I do. That never really goes away and I am actually glad that those butterflies are there. I never get complacent or “phone in” a performance. Every show is like opening night to me. The party was a blast and we really had one amazing night celebrating this great success together!

TITL: Given that Broadway is typically considered to be more of a man’s world, how proud does it make you feel to know you’re proving yourself to be just as good as your male counterparts when it comes to putting on a successful production? 

DT: To be honest, I still feel there is a lack of support and respect for women creators/producers in this industry. While it is admittedly a lot better, there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done. I am really honored to be a strong woman voice out there creating good, commercial theater in an otherwise male dominated industry. It is so sad that in this #metoo era we don’t embrace more female voices attempting to create on the theatrical stage but I think there are more of us out there that will brave the storm and keep pushing the boundaries, regardless if we are always embraced or not while we do it! However, that being said- women need to start supporting women colleagues in theater more. Sad to say that some of the harshest critical voices out there are from other women. That has always baffled me. Trying to blow out the candle of another does not make theirs burn any brighter.

TITL: What advice would you give to anyone out there who has an idea that they’d love to see brought to life on a stage such as one on or off Broadway? What traits might you say they need in order to keep pursuing that idea/dream until it becomes reality?

DT: I would say that dreams can come true and I am living proof of that. However, set your sights with reasonable goals. Start small. Test the waters. People don’t usually wake up one morning and decide to have a show open on Broadway next week. It takes a long time of work, dedication, financial support and most of all- thick skin, to navigate this industry. There will be enormous sacrifices that will need to be made and there will be a lot more tears than laughs at times. But after all that is said and done, there is no greater joy than to see your creation brought to life by fabulously talented people each and every day and I truly feel blessed to have this opportunity.

TITL: Finally then, now that Sincerely, Oscar is proving to be a hit, have you thought about any other productions you might like to work on, or is all your time and energy focused on this for the time being? 

DT: Right now I am focusing on this limited engagement run at Theatre Row in NYC, but I would be lying if I said I am not looking to the future for what is next. I believe we have even bigger and better things in store for “Sincerely, Oscar” coming in the near future. Maybe it will be a national tour, maybe an international tour, or maybe a residency in Vegas? There has been a lot of buzz as to where this should go next… and right now the sky is the limit! I am just excited to see where this remarkable journey will go!

For more information on Sincerely, Oscar visit the official website. You can also keep up to date with Doreen via doreentaylormusic.com, or by following her on Twitter and liking her page on Facebook. Her latest album Happily Ever After is available now. Header photo credit: James Jackson.