BWW Interview: Harvey Mason Jr. Chats About THE WIZ LIVE!, Working with Shanice Williams and His Upcoming Projects

Harvey Mason Jr. Photo Credit:
Harvey Mason Jr. Photo Credit:

Harvey Mason Jr. has worked with some of the biggest and brightest stars in the music industry. His work transcends generations and this year he became a household name as the music producer for NBC’s THE WIZ LIVE!

For “The Wiz Live!” Harvey Mason, Jr., together with music director Stephen Oremus (The Book of Mormon, Kinky Boots), re-imagined a new hybrid of the show’s classic score. They combined new elements with the original Broadway production. A brand new song written by Harvey Mason, Jr., NE-YO, Stephen Oremus and Elijah Kelley called “We Got It,” will be performed by NE-YO (Tin Man), Elijah Kelley (Scarecrow), Shanice Williams (Dorothy),David Alan Grier (The Cowardly Lion) and The Wiz Live! ensemble.

In honor of NBC re-airing THE WIZ LIVE! on Saturday December 19 at 8/7c, BroadwayWorld sat down with Harvey Mason Jr. to talk about re-inventing the classic music, writing the original song and his upcoming projects!

Check out the full interview with Harvey Mason Jr. below!

THE WIZ LIVE! was such a huge success for NBC. How was it tackling the classic music?

It was an exciting challenge. It was really important that we bring a freshness to the music while still remaining true to the original compositions. Our challenge was to get a lot of music done and do it in a way fans of the original would be happy yet people who had never heard the show before loved the songs and the production

As the music producer for The Wiz Live! what did your role entail?

My role was to arrange, record, produce all the music and make sure it was specifically tailored to the artsy that would be singing it and also to make sure we accomplished the story and dynamic goals of the director. I had an amazing partner in Stephen Oremus as music director

Were there any major changes made to the music for this version?

We did all new arrangements and introduced many different styles of music. We wanted each piece to be rethought and fresh. We took a lot of time to make sure everyone was handled with care. People know these songs so we didn’t want to mess them up

Can you talk a little bit about the new song?

The new song was the idea of our director. He felt we needed to end the act with a bigger moment. He also wanted to see the four friends sing together. We knew what the song needed to accomplish so Elijah, myself and Ne-Yo started putting music and lyric ideas together. Then Stephen Oremus came in and really made it work in the context of the show. I think the new song really added a standing ovation moment


BWW Interview: John Tartaglia Dishes on His Super, New Role as Director of NYMF’s CLAUDIO QUEST!

John Targalia. Photo Credit:
John Targalia. Photo Credit:

Tony Award winner John Tartaglia may be known for his work acting in the Broadway musicals AVENUE Q and SHREK: THE MUSICAL, but this summer he can be seen behind the curtain directing the NYMF musical CLAUDIO QUEST.

Claudio Quest, a super new musical, receives its New York premiere this July as part of the 2015 New York Musical Theatre Festival. With a book, music and lyrics Drew Fornarola and Marshall Pailet and direction by Tony Award nominee John Tartaglia (Avenue Q), Claudio Quest runs through July 14, 2015 at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Theatre. Individual tickets can be purchased directly via NYMF.ORG.

Claudio Quest is a new musical comedy that follows a very super hero, his less super little brother, and one butt-kicking princess, as the three embark on a mission to overcome killer eggplants, a love-starved platypus, and their own 8-bit existential crisis.

Check out the interview with John Tartaglia below!

How did you get involved with NYMF this year and what’s it been like?

It’s been great. It’s been very great. I got involved because of Claudio Quest, the show that I’m directing. I’ve been working on it for a couple of years now and we are really excited to do it at NYMF because we think there is no better place to workshop a show and experiment and really get it in front of an audience and in front of theater goers and see how people react to the show and you get such a diverse audience at NYMF. We just admire so much of what NYMF does so it was a really exciting opportunity.


BWW Interview: Mairin Lee Discusses ROMANCE LANGUAGE and Taking on a New Kind of Role

Mairin Lee. Photo Credit:
Mairin Lee. Photo Credit:

Mairin Lee may be known for her ingénues roles in Shakespearean and 19th Century plays, but this time around she’s switching gears and playing a young corporate lawyer in Romance Language

Romance Language tells the story of a wealthy Manhattan widow who takes up private lessons with an alluring young Italian instructor. During the lessons she learns much more than just a language. As an unexpected romance blossoms, her daughter raises doubts concerning this mysterious teacher’s intentions. The three tangle with art, passion, and even vendetta in Joe Godfrey‘s Romance Language.

BroadwayWorld chatted with Mairin Lee about Romance Language, her special bond with Jared Zirilli and Audrey Meyer, and her amazing Broadway debut in THE HEIRESS. Check out the full interview below.

Can you tell us a little bit about ROMANCE LANGUAGE?

Sure! So the main character, played by Audrey Meyer, is a divorcee who is sort of living a quiet, lonely life. She starts taking Italian lessons and falls in love with her Italian tutor. Her daughter, who is a young corporate lawyer does not approve of him. The three stand in conflict throughout the play.

Can you tell us about your character of Penny and how she melds into this conflict?

Yeah. So, the thing I love about Penny is that she is tough and she is very much a corporate lawyer. She feels very comfortable in that world and feels comfortable using elements from her work in her personal life. Like, she will speak legally to her mother sometimes. The thing that makes her so fascinating and nuanced is that she’s extremely sensitive still. She is still really morning the death of her father, who died a few years earlier from cancer. She’s really still angry about that fact that her mother and her father got divorced very late into their marriage. Penny holds a grudge against her mother for not treating Penny’s father the way that Penny would’ve liked her to treat him. She has this very soft core and she’s almost a raw nerve in a lot of ways about her Dad and her Mom that she has this very thick armor over that. So, it’s really fun to sort of play with the balance of that. The lawyer in her and the daughter in her, who wants love and acceptance and just wants to end old wounds but she can’t quite figure out how to do that.


BWW Interview: Kerry Butler Prepares to Fly, Fly Away to Feinstein’s/54 Below Later This Month

Kerry Butler. Photo Credit:
Kerry Butler. Photo Credit:

Broadway veteran Kerry Butler is hitting the Feinstein’s/54 Below stage for the first time alongside longtime friend Seth Rudetsky. Their new cabaret show will be performed on October 15,16 and 21st and Kerry and Seth have a lot of tricks up their sleeves.

Kerry Butler checked in with BroadwayWorld to talk about what fans can expect from her new solo show and the thrill of bringing the show to New York City for the first time.

Check out the full interview below.

You are coming to Feinstein’s/54 Below for the first time with your solo show, how did this come about?

They’ve been asking me for years to do it and I’ve always been busy. Then I became available and Seth [Rudetsky] and I have been doing our own show and it’s been REALLY fun. We grew up together so we do numbers from when we were kids together and it’s just been a blast and it’s been so much fun. So, I thought “Alright, if I do that show with Seth that’s like simple.” We got a great review when we did it before, so I thought “Alright, I can do that in New York.”

You are making your debut at Feinstein’s/54 Below and it’s become such a big venue for Broadway stars. What are you most excited about to be performing there for the first time?

You know what, I’m really excited about the 11:30pm show I get to do. I just feel like it’s going to be really, really fun. I’m not sure how crowded it will be or anything because people have told me that the late shows sometimes don’t sell that well. So, Seth and I are just going to let loose and tell stories we’ve never told before. I might do a few different things. It’s going to be so different for me because I’m always doing my Disney songs.


BWW Interview: Ali Rose Dachis Chats About THE WEDGE HORSE and Her Experience in FISH IN THE DARK

Ali Rose Dachis. Photo Credit:
Ali Rose Dachis. Photo Credit:

Ali Rose Dachis is making a splash in Fault Line Theater’s latest play THE WEDGE HORSE. Written by Nick Gandiello, The Wedge Horse tells a beautiful story you will have to see to believe.

Dachis recently chatted with BroadwayWorld about the beautiful play and her experience in FISH IN THE DARK last Broadway season.

Check out the full interview below!

Can you tell us a little bit about THE WEDGE HORSE?

It’s a play about three teenagers out on Long Island in 2003 who are dealing with a major lock in the family. There are two siblings and they have lost another sibling and then a friend. It’s basically about dealing with grief and revenge and trying to kind of survive what that means as a family and what that means as human beings. In that there is a greater structure of kind of the American predicament after 9/11. It’s a small representation of a much bigger story.

How does your character fit into the story?

Maddie is awesome! She’s strong and brash and she has a huge heart. What’s so amazing about this journey is that the family itself is decided whether or not to put the brother’s name on a bomb that will then go over and hit Iraq. This huge decision is basically placed on the shoulders of these two teenagers. Maddie is someone who fights for justice and kindness, more so than revenge. That has been a very exciting thing to tap into, especially with someone who is probably not as educated as a lot of the characters we see on stage and as a teenager, who is still trying to figure things out.


BWW Interview: Nicholas L. Ashe Chats About KILL FLOOR and the Remarkable Text by Abe Koogler

Nicholas L. Ashe. Photo Credit:

Nicholas L. Ashe is currently turning heads in the debut of the brand new play KILL FLOOR at Lincoln Center. Ashe defies expectation and is having a career-defining moment in the new play by Abe Koogler.

In Kill Floor, Andy (to be played by Marin Ireland) returns to her hometown after three years in prison and takes a job at the local slaughterhouse, while trying to reconcile with her 15 year-old son, B (to be played by Nicholas L. Ashe).

Nicholas L. Ashe recently sat down with BroadwayWorld to talk about working with Koogler’s text, the tight knit cast and learning from his surrounding in Kill Floor.

Check out the full interview below.

Can you tell us a little bit about Kill Floor?

Yeah, it’s a tricky question. Kill Floor is about a lot of things. It’s a unique set of characters all working through connection and identity and family and struggling to come to terms by any means necessary.

Who do you play in Kill Floor? And how does your character fit into this unique story?

I play Brendan or B. He’s an esteemed vegan. At the top of the show, his mother has just gotten out of prison. She’s been away for five years. Kill Floor follows them as they try to reconcile their relationship. Five years is a very long time, especially with how old he is. She was gone from the time he was 10 to when he was 15, so she missed a lot. They are catching up on one another. The on going track of the story is that she accepts a job on the Kill Floor of a slaughterhouse where they kill cows. She is meeting this young vegan at the same time so that all comes together in Kill Floor.

**Note: These are not all my published interviews**