MEGAN DAVIES TALKS “GIMME”, SOCIAL MEDIA & ARTISTIC INSPIRATION 0 158

Having already earned herself a growing army of followers across social media and seen her music streamed millions upon millions of times on the likes of Spotify and, most notably, YouTube, Megan Davies has achieved a great deal in the last few years. A passionate and creative singer-songwriter, she’s currently in the UK to play four shows on her very first headline tour here, and ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her before the first show in Manchester to talk artistic inspiration, performing for the cast of The Greatest Showman and what the future holds.

TITL: As an artist and an individual, how would you sum yourself up in a few words?

Megan Davies: I would say acoustic – everything started out acoustic for me, even if it was a big pop track I was covering. Raw in the sense that I try to be as honest as possible when it comes to the things I like and what I want to say. Hopefully passionate because I just love it so much.

TITL: Personally and professionally, who are you most inspired and influenced by? How do those influences filter through to the music you make?

MD: I love John Mayer a lot – his guitar solos are really cool. He doesn’t seem to…he always seems to be pushing to be better at what he does, which I find really inspiring. I’m a huge fan of this Brit named Imogen Heap…

TITL: “Hide And Seek”.. a beautiful song.

MD: She’s someone I’ve listened to for a really long time and I think is really inspiring as a female who does as I do; record and produce my own stuff that I post on my YouTube channel, that kind of thing. I remember when I was in high school seeing an article and a picture of her at a huge mixing board at home, in her living room and I was like “That’s so cool.” I think she’s someone who is very inspiring. People like Ed Sheeran – I saw him play a stadium in Nashville where I live just a few months ago and he was just standing up there with an acoustic guitar singing to THAT many people..

TITL: He played the Ethiad Stadium on his last tour here which holds something like 80,000 people. It’s incredible to see how just one guy and a guitar can captivate so many people like he does.

MD: Literally no-one else could do what he does.

TITL: Who would you say you feel most musically connected to?

MD: That changes a lot. I feel very emotionally connected to a lot of different types of music. I’m definitely one of those people who can cry at certain music if it hits me the right way. I remember when I was twelve years old being connected to Avril Lavigne’s record; super emo, but nowadays, there’s so much. I love Radiohead, Coldplay – a lot from the UK. It’s amazing that you can listen to so much nowadays, especially with streaming, so you can make your own playlists to fit whatever you’re going through in life. It’s hard to say just one artist because I feel like I connect with a lot of them.

TITL: You mentioned that you can cry to a lot of music but what’s the one song that can and will make you cry every time you hear it? Is there one?

MD: “River” by Joni Mitchell.

TITL: Mine’s “Everybody Hurts” by REM..

MD: Yes!

TITL: The last time I recall hearing it on public, national radio was September 12, 2001. It was the last song played before the country held a two minutes’ silence.

MD: Oh my God.

TITL: And of course, it’s such a true, honest and relevant song, especially now as mental health is becoming more of a talking point and more artists are starting to speak out about it. The song has such a powerful message.

MD: Of course, yes. I think with “River”, for me, it’s kind of a song that comes on a lot around Christmas time. It’s a sad sounding song and I’m one of those people that isn’t a big holiday person – I’m not super happy over the holidays and that song, I don’t know…it hits a nerve for me. It’s a great song.

TITL: As a singer-songwriter from Nashville, often considered the music capital of the States, do you ever feel any pressure to live up to the success and legacy that the city has thanks to the many artists who have come from there and achieved so much over the decades?

MD: I don’t think so because I’m not a country musician. I think if you’re a country musician, there’s a lot more pressure. I think there’s a lot of great music that comes out of Nashville don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing bands that have come from there, with different styles of music, but I’ve always been on the fringe, I guess. When you’re not in country music, I guess that’s where you are – how can I explain it? You kind of feel like you’re a little bit more on the outside, which I love…creatively not doing what everyone is expecting from you. I personally don’t feel that because it’s SO country. Everything in Nashville is so much country music. I feel like I get to skirt along the outside a little bit.

TITL: You don’t fit into the Nashville norm, as it were…which is and can be a good thing.

MD: Absolutely yeah. I wouldn’t take it any other way for sure.

TITL: It’s like that saying “You were born an original, why die a copy?”

MD: Exactly. I like that.

TITL: You uploaded your latest video “Gimme” two weeks ago. How did you come up with the concept for the video and why did you choose that song as a release?

MD: That was a song that was written a little bit ago – early 2018, I think. I was out in LA, working with a producer who was making beats and I was writing to them. It was really fun and that was one song that came out of it. I had just watched this episode of Black Mirror – I was binge watching it, it’s so good – and we were kind of just bitching about social media. There’s that one episode that was all about social media and that was so uncomfortable to watch. It was like so scary and so…he was making this track and I was kind of just writing down these lyrics, putting my guitar to it. We wrote it and recorded it – it was kinda just a fun jam session – and towards the end of the year, I’d been looking at some of the songs I’d been writing and that one just felt so relevant, and I felt that it would be a fun one to put out.

As far as the video goes, I came up with the idea for it in the shower. *laughs* I was running through it in my head I guess and I was just trying to think about what I would do in terms of a video. I ran out of the shower and wrote it all down. I got my laptop and just wrote the entire treatment which ended up beings something like two pages. I started sending it off to all the video people I knew in Nashville asking “Can you help me make this?” We got it done, which was crazy – it’s one of the more ambitious videos I’ve done.

TITL: But it works with the song – and I think once you have a visual that fits with a song, as yours does, then its “pull” can be and is often magnified – it reaches a bigger audience. Someone can listen to a song and like it, but sometimes you need a visual to go along with it to really put the song into context and put out there exactly what you’re trying to convey through the lyrics..

MD: Totally. With this song, sometimes you can be like casually listening to the lyrics and be like “yeah this is a good pop song” or whatever, but once you actually listen to those lyrics, it’s actually very dark and very tongue in cheek. It’s not super happy, so with the video, I wanted to put a sort of scarier video to it.

TITL: Given that you launched your career on YouTube, how do you feel about the dominance social media seems to have over many industries, including music, and people’s lives in general? Is there such a thing as “too much” social media?

MD: Oh absolutely. I have very mixed feelings about it as I think most people do. I think most people have a love/hate thing with it. You wanna totally cut off but at the same time you don’t. I feel the same way. I’m grateful for the internet and everything that it’s brought to my career as I would never be able – or have been able – to do it without that platform, but I can’t lie – it causes me a lot of anxiety; a lot of social anxiety and depression. It definitely affects your mental state. I have very mixed feelings about it but the more I talk to people about it, the more it seems they feel the same way. If there’s anything that ties us together, it’s that aspect of it.

TITL: This is your first UK headline tour. Just how excited are you to be embarking on this new chapter of your life and career?

MD: I am so excited. It’s so cool to be so far away from home and to come here and first of all play music that I created back there, but also see people who’ve been listening to it and who I’ve had conversations with online. The coolest part is meeting people who are so far away, but have been connected to what I’m doing in different ways.

TITL: For those who perhaps haven’t listened to your music or who are coming to see you on this tour, what can they expect from your set?

MD: They can expect some new songs for sure. I’m a big fan of trying out new music before I release it. There’s a song, it’s brand new…just a few weeks old, that I’m going to be playing on this run, and a lot of the new stuff hasn’t been released so I’m really excited to try that stuff out. People will hear some OG Megan Davies too, but there’ll be a good variety.

TITL: You’ve been championed by the likes of Parade Magazine and Music Radar among others, but do you actually care that much about what critics and the like think, or are you more concerned about the thoughts and opinions of those who come and see you, support and follow you?

MD: I definitely care more about the people who are connecting with it, than those who are “forced” to connect with it, like it’s their job to write about it or something. I do care – I don’t want people to not like it – but I’m also the person that doesn’t want to look at it, good or bad. If it’s a great review, that’s fantastic, but I don’t read it, and if it’s a bad review…I’ve gotten this far based on my own creative tastes – I don’t want to colour that too much, you know? It’s definitely flattering when someone does like what you do, but I do like to keep it more between me and the people who are listening in the audience or wherever they may be because they feel a connection with what I do.

TITL: What’s the nicest or best thing someone has ever said or written about you and how do you deal with any criticism directed your way? Do you find it easy to shrug off or does it linger in the back of your mind?

MD: It definitely lingers – I’m a deep thinker, for sure. It’s honestly why I take breaks on and off from social media. I try not to spend so much time on it because it can kind of get to you. The nicest thing anyone’s written about me…there’s been a lot of great things. Just on the personal message type side, I’ve had some really amazing stories shared with me. I had a soldier in Afghanistan who reached out and said he was listening to my covers at night to help him sleep. I thought that was pretty cool. It’s things like that that I remember the most rather than a straight forward compliment – it’s nice to get those for sure – but I love hearing those types of stories from people, who my music has helped through a difficult time or something. I’ve definitely had my share of terrible things written about me on the internet and it kind of stings a little bit. I’ve gotten better at pushing it off, but there’s always that stuff – the good and the bad of the internet. This is the job – it’s all part of it and can be – is – one of the not so great parts.

TITL: Your career has given you many amazing opportunities, including, perhaps most notably, performing for the cast of The Greatest Showman. As someone who loves the film and saw it twice in the same night, I have to ask, what was that experience like?

MD: Twice in one night?

TITL: A friend and I saw it and loved it so much, we went to the screening straight after it..

MD: Wow. There were two components to that whole experience. The first was that I got to go and meet the cast, visit the set and film the video that I have on YouTube, and sing for them. That itself was very surreal. I hadn’t seen the movie yet – I had the song, but that was it. I didn’t really know if this was going to be a huge film or not, at the time..

TITL: It turns out the answer was yes…

MD: It was six, seven months before the movie came out, and just to meet the cast, Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, was pretty mind-blowing. Then I got to go to the premiere. That experience blew me away just because I had never experienced anything like it. Nashville’s not a movie town, it’s a music town. To see such a huge premiere with the red carpet, and see so many people and be drinking champagne, was like…it literally felt like a Cinderella moment. It’s hard for me to even explain it to people; friends and family back home – it feels like I’m describing a dream. It was so surreal. I got to watch the movie with the cast and crew around me which was super cool and everyone applauded after like every song. It was an experience I will never forget.

TITL: I still don’t know how “This Is Me” did not win the Oscar for Best Song, but the soundtrack has a Grammy now so there’s that..

MD: It was on the Billboard charts for forever…I had a feeling when I was on set that the film was going to be pretty amazing, and then when I saw it I just thought “Wow, it’s going to be huge.”

TITL: The soundtrack broke the record for the longest time an album held the number one spot here a while ago; the record that used to be held by The Beatles Sgt. Pepper record..

MD: Good for them! That’s amazing.

TITL: You’ve also collaborated with the Red Cross and American Cancer Society. How important to you is it to be able to use your platform to benefit and support such organisations and those less fortunate? Would you like to see other artists – and perhaps people in general – do the same?

MD: I don’t judge people for what they do – people support different causes for different reasons and in different ways – but those two approached me, and when you build a following online, that’s something that happens a lot. Charities, brands…they all tend to reach out, and the Red Cross and ACS…those two were no brainers for me. Of course I’ll spread the word about having a plan for your family to get out of the house if there’s a fire – things like that are important and we did little PSA’s, things like that. They’re both causes I feel super passionate about.

TITL: Aside from this tour, which after the UK you’re taking around Europe, what does the rest of the year have in store for you?

MD: At the end of this tour, it’ll be mostly focused on releasing some new music. Like I said, I try a lot of new songs out when I’m on the road. I have some YouTube videos that I need to work on and that involves me not travelling. I spent a couple of days in London before we came up here to start the tour and I really enjoyed it so I’ve been thinking about going to London…I like going to different places and writing; being creative.

TITL: Finally then, taking into account all you’ve done and achieved so far in your career, what other goals and ambitions do you still want to fulfil? What’s the ultimate goal?

MD: So much. For me, since I’ve built so much of my audience on covers, I really want to develop as a songwriter and performer. I still feel like I’m always trying to get better at what I do; I’ve a lot more to give as a creator and musician. That’s my focus more than the numbers…it’s cool when you get really big numbers or a reaction, but yeah, I think that’s more my goal at the moment. You’ve gotta explore…I could probably just do covers for a long time, but that wouldn’t be satisfying to me. I want to push myself creatively and I feel like I’m meant to do more.

Check out Megan’s latest video, “Gimme” below and keep up to date with her and her music by visiting her website, following her on Twitter, giving her page a like on Facebook and subscribing to her YouTube channel.

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ANDREA EVANS TALKS ‘ROCKING THE COUCH’ & UPCOMING PROJECTS 0 110

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.