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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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
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
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
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
now. Header photo credit: James Jackson.