from the archives of: www.newyorkcool.com

NYC.COM: WAS THAT PART OF THE GOAL IN PUTTING THIS TOGETHER, TO APPEAL TO 5 YEAR OLDS AND 95 YEAR OLDS?

Rene: I don’t know if I had an age range in mind, I knew that I wanted it to have mass appeal. I wanted it to be compartmentalized so that there would be sections in it, so that you could take out a section that wasn’t strong and put in a section that was and move things around. That way you have an evening of very strong individual numbers that come together to build a show but those individual numbers would be completely different from each other, from one moment to the next.

Shalisa: And all of our backgrounds are so different. We each appreciate different styles of music so much that the show is a wide variety and a real mix of different styles of music

NYC.COM: I DO WANT TO TOUCH ON THAT. IT DOES RANGE FROM JAZZ TO RAP TO ROCK. WHAT ARE YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUNDS? DID YOU ALL STUDY IN THE SAME WAY?

Paul: We come from all different backgrounds

Shalisa: Michele is a vocal jazz person - scat singing, lots of Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme. Rene has a theatre background - largely musical theatre. Paul is a great mimic! We were introduced to him when he was a pup singing Doo-Wop. I was one of those session singer kids and studied music in college but was primarily a pop and gospel type of singer.

Jeremy: Paul actually got a music scholarship. My grandmother wouldn’t pay for college unless I got a business degree! But every chance I got I was in choir and music classes and doing a play or a show.

Rene: It’s not just the level of education, but that we came at it from a lot of different angles. Music, performance, theory. There are a lot of different ways we were approaching our music backgrounds

Shalisa: Rene has a background in directing theatre, even prior to this show. He directed all of us, except Michele, in different productions that were book productions. I had a theatre background, Michelle has a theatre background, so that helps us a lot in our arranging skills.

Toxic Audio
Toxic Audio

NYC.COM: PAUL, I WANT TO ASK YOU WHERE THE PHYSICAL COMEDY COMES FROM. YOU MOVE IN A WAY THAT MOST PEOPLE SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE THE ABILITY TO.

Paul: I was a martial arts teacher. That’s where some of the physical aspects, like the back flip comes from. I was in gymnastics. Basically what I brought to the table, other than doing a back flip to close the show, was I was in a break dancing troupe and was used as a human jump rope. But singing was always my first love. I can bring all of the things I love - martial arts, break dancing, and singing - and put them to use.

Jeremy: I think the cool thing about this show is developing material over six years! Getting to know each other and getting to know our own strengths, we fell into these niches in the group so we built the show around our strengths. The first year we were together Michelle didn’t scat at all. Then one day we were playing around and suddenly out this came and whoah! There it was and we had to put it in. The same with Paul. Like the coughing sneezing thing.

(Here we are talking about a show stopping number that will bring out the 12-year-old boy in even the most sophisticated of theatre goers. In short, a base line created with sneezes, coughs, hiccups and any other phlegm induced noise they can think of. Masterpiece Theatre it is not, but when combined with Paul’s Chaplin-esque gift for physical comedy, it is theatrical gold!)

NYC.COM: I WANT TO ASK ABOUT THAT!

Rene: Some people are shocked at where we are willing to go for our humor. We know you can’t please everybody but we know what the kids walk away with and we know that we have to reach them too!

NYC.COM: SO DID IT COME ABOUT BECAUSE SOMEONE CAME TO REHEARSAL WITH A COLD?

Jeremy: That was one of the first bits we came up with.

Shalisa: We are an ever-evolving work in progress..

Rene: The very first Fringe show, there was a segment we called “The Doctor Is In.” It was basically creating a vocal rhythm with those coughing and sneezing and hiccupping noises.

Jeremy: It was originally from the movie Ferris Beuler’s Day Off.

Shalisa: We did it for the first Fringe Festival then we raised the bar and said “Can we cough on somebody and then he gets all the symptoms.” Then we played around to see what Paul could do with that and then we added a song. It is a work in progress!

NYC.COM: IT LOOKS EXHAUSTING!

Paul: Oh, it is!

Jeremy: One time we had to do it for a New York television station from three different camera angles and we had to perform it three times in a row. I think Paul was ready to throw up!

Paul: The thing that sells that number is the physical comedy, the physical aspect. I can just sit there and vocally create the rhythm (he demonstrates ala Michael Jackson) but...

Jeremy: You gotta fall all over the stage!

Shalisa: And you have to be savvy enough to get out of his way.

NYC.COM: I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT!

Paul: I almost take Shalisa out!

NYC.COM: I WANT TAKE SOME TIME TO DISCUSS THE TECHNICAL ASPECT. (to John Valines) I CONSIDER YOU TO BE THE SIXTH PERFORMER HERE.

Entire cast: So do we!!!

NYC.COM: DOES IT FEEL THAT WAY TO YOU? DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT’S A PERFORMANCE FOR YOU EVEY NIGHT EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE BEHIND THE SCENES?

John: In the sense that some of the bits were just ideas that we had to bring to life. A lot of the spotlight gags were a result of me just playing with them (the cast). They were so into it and so receptive and they said, “Yeah, keep playing with it like that.”

Paul: John is also a gifted director and is a great improv comedian. So to have him up there as the sixth performer, on the fly, always doing improv comedy with lighting and sound cues, is like having an extra arm.

Jeremy: As we discovered bits and punch lines he grew with us and discovered those things from a technical aspect.

Rene: For us to say we do this show with out musical instruments, that we just use our voices, the reality of it is that we are using our microphones in various ways to capture different sounds that our voices are doing. We kind of use them as an instrument. Then John is up there on a board using it as an instrument because he is fading the sounds, he is panning them around the room, he’s being musical in the way he interprets the technology. The origin is vocal, but it is all being manipulated through technology.

John: Just like an actor looks for motivation, I look for motivation for sound. If Rene says he wants a particular sound, I ask him what the motivation is for it. We work on it together and ask if it makes sense. We really explore the origin and reason for the sound.

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