Spotlight on Peter Nelson: Pieces like Playing Hot firmly plant themselves against the grain

Playing Hot performances begin THIS WEEK, on Thursday, April 18. In advance of first preview, we’re thrilled to introduce you to yet another remarkable member of our band. Today we’re featuring Peter Nelson, trombonist and singer, who is playing the sousaphone in Playing Hot. Hear from Peter below, and grab your tickets to Playing Hot today! Prices will be going up when performances start.

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

Peter Nelson: Theatre celebrating one of the most influential unsung heroes of American music is such a special endeavor. The catalogue of American drama in regards to jazz musicians representation has been decidedly one sided, skewed towards the more commercially accessible less socially disruptive narratives. Pieces like Playing Hot firmly plant themselves against the grain as vehicles for the untold stories of creatives that shaped western music and culture for decades to come.

PTC: What is your relationship to Buddy Bolden’s story?

PN: When I think of Buddy Bolden I think of the blues. Building on the rhythmic and melodic sensibilities of Scott Joplin he incorporated the more vocal sounds of the gospel spirituals, making American music forever more a space for improvisation as a communal experience. To me, Mr. Bolden represents a trust in ones own voice in the face of extreme prejudice and civil inequality. It took incredible courage innovate; to find freedom and respite in music’s reckless abandon when the system around him was predicated on bringing him down. That sense of living a life on your own terms in spite of personal tragedy and the constant pressure to conform continues to inspire.

PTC: Talk to us about jazz. What’s your relationship to the music?

PN: “Jazz means I dare you” – Wayne Shorter  — I grew up in a heavily musical city community. Jazz was the natural meeting point for all the things that drew me to music. My relationship to music is similar to my relationship to language. I’m expressing in real time an emotional and intellectual landscape with the intention to communicate to those sharing my space. As a composer, I often write with very specific stories in mind. As an improviser, I’m trying to marry spontaneous creativity with a broader awareness of the energy and humanity in the room. Music is the catalyst through which I personally relate these things. Jazz, in regards to American music, truly laid the bedrock for musicians to explore in so many directions. Without Buddy Bolden, I don’t know what we would be playing. 

PTC: What instrument do you play? When did you first start and what initially drew you to jazz?

PN: I play Trombone, Sousaphone, Piano and I sing. Jazz drew me in as a place to express freely with the people around me. There’s an enticing sense of urgency to playing that, as a teenager, I hadn’t found in other music. Jazz also felt like it had some degree of malleability in its evolution that gave space for many people’s stories while still being firmly rooted in the black American experience. It’s how I relate to the world and will always be the foundation of my musical identity.

Peter has a new trio project coming out on Outside in Music in early July. The project combines contemporary jazz with singer songwriter textures and rhythmic environments. They’ll be performing at festival upstate and in the midwest in early August. For info and updates follow Peter on Instagram or Facebook at @PeterNelsonMusic and visit his website, www.peternelsonmusic.com. And don’t forget to catch him in Playing Hot, April 18 – May 12.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Spotlight on Khrys Williams: You’ll be enraptured in the spirit of having a good time

Today we’re pleased to introduce you to Khrys Williams, a musician (specifically a trumpeter) who has been working on Playing Hot with us since our first workshop in 2016. Learn more about Khrys below, and see them in Playing Hot beginning April 18!

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

Khrys Williams: To me, a huge aspect of art as a whole – and the most fulfilling part of being an artist – is the range of emotions evoked by the content we make. If there ever is a chance I can make a bunch of people feel that sense of fulfillment, I’m jumping at it. I’ve been a part of Playing Hot productions ever since 2016; most of the cast/crew has grown into a family since then. Even though #PlayingHot is inherently a fun time, doing it with this stage family makes it just as fun for us as performers as much as it is for the audience.

PTC: What instrument do you play? When did you first start and what initially drew you to jazz?

KW: I started playing the trumpet when I was 11 or 12; I got into jazz around age 15. The fact that I could express myself any way I wanted through what I played drew me into jazz. Self-expression has always been a kind of life-force for me, and to be able to do it through an art that I love makes everything in my life infinitely more fulfilling.

PTC: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

KW: Be prepared for the theatre experience of a lifetime. The wall between performers and audience is a thin one, and you’ll be enraptured in the spirit of having a good time.

PTC: What is your relationship to Buddy Bolden’s story?

KW: Buddy Bolden was the one who started the rebellious genre we know as jazz by breaking away from standing tradition to put his twist on things. As an artist that plays jazz, I feel that Buddy and I are kindred spirits in that regard. I can relate to the need to break from the status quo and be unique.

In addition to working on Playing Hot, Khrys is part of J-MUSIC Ensemble (@jmusicband on Instagram and Twitter) which he describes as mixing Japanese pop and video game music with jazz. He’s also starting a new project called Khrys Williams and the Red Line Arsenal (@redlinearsenal on Instagram), which will augment our perspective on big band jazz. You can also follow Khriys directly at @khryswilliams on Instagram and Twitter!

Posted in Uncategorized |

Spotlight on Darrian Douglas: Buddy Bolden’s story is a part of the fabric of New Orleans

Playing Hot performances begin THIS WEEK so we’re thrilled to begin the introductions of our incredible band, the folks really bringing the jazz to Playing Hot. Today we’re featuring Darrian Douglas, our drummer. In addition to his work as a musician, Darrian is the executive director of a small New Orleans based nonproft called Second Line Arts Collective. Second Line develops and operates programs designed to teach young musicians how to monetize their artistic creations. Learn more from Darrian below, and check him out in person at Playing Hot. Grab your tickets today, still available for a limited time at the early bird rate.

Pipeline Theatre Company: What is your relationship to Buddy Bolden’s story?

Darrian Douglas: 11 years ago I moved to New Orleans from Mississippi. While in NOLA I learned about the importance of history and legacy. Buddy Bolden’s story is a part of the fabric of New Orleans and ignoring that would have been tragic. So I embraced his legacy as a part of my own.

PTC: What instrument do you play?

DD: I am a percussionist, but my main instrument is drum set.

PTC: When did you first start and what drew you to the music?

DD: I began playing drums in the 5th grade. I attended a performing arts conservatory from 5th-12th grade. At this school the only option for non classical instrumentalists was jazz. The sounds and rhythms of the music drew me in.

PTC: What is your relationship to the music?

DD: The music that call Jazz I call Black American Music. This music literally saved my life. I was introduced to playing and listening to it in elementary school. Music gave me purpose, it gave me something to work towards. Black American Music taught me the importance of mastery, focus, and determination.

PTC: If there were to be an “untold true story” about your own life, what would be the subject?

DD: My life story is one of adventure and intrigue. The power of embracing change would be the subject… The title of my life story is “The Story Within.”

You can keep following Darrian on instagram at @darriandouglas, and you can catch him live in Playing Hot!

Posted in Uncategorized |

Spotlight on Shernita Anderson: Playing Hot is destined to truly bring the heat!

Playing Hot begins performances in just one week! Ahead of our first performance, we’re pleased to continue introducing you to the brilliant artists who are building this boundless production. Today we’re featuring Shernita Anderson, our choreographer. Heard from Shernita below and grab your Playing Hot tickets today!

Pipeline Theatre Company: What is your relationship to Buddy Bolden’s story?

Shernita Anderson: I had actually never heard of Buddy Bolden until a few years ago when I was cast as a dancer in the feature film. I worked on the film in Atlanta for approximately two weeks and got the opportunity to learn Buddy’s story and about what life was like back then. My time on the film has definitely prepared me for my role as choreographer for Playing Hot.

PTC: What’s your relationship ship to jazz?

SA: From a young age, I was always drawn to jazz. There’s a freedom and the beauty to Jazz, that has always spoken to something within me. 

PTC: What is the most important element of this project to you?

SA: To me the most important element is the energy that each person brings to this project. Each person contributes consistent, positive energy with positive intentions which means that Playing Hot is destined to truly bring the heat! I want folks to know that Playing Hot, is more than a play, it is an experience. The should be prepared to laugh, learn and party!

PTC: What type of design do you do? What initially drew you to this type of design?

SA: Movement has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. So naturally, I became a dancer, training and performing in various styles before moving into the role of Choreographer. I enjoy creating beautiful stories through movement as well as empowering others to own their bodies, so of course, the role of Choreographer comes pretty natural to me.

PTC: What has been your approach to bringing New Orleans to Midtown New York? What elements have been important to you to focus on?

SA: During this process it’s been important for me to focus on the authenticity of not only the time and space but specifically the actors. Each actor brings something to unique to the play and I want those unique things to shine through within the various characters they portray.

Make sure to check out Shernita’s choreo this spring in Playing Hot! Follow her on instagram at @ShernitaSoFly #ShernitaBe.

Posted in Uncategorized |

PLAYING HOT: Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Guide

Heading to Theater 511 this spring to catch Playing Hot? Why not make a night out of it? Our trusty neighborhood expert, Morgan Dubin, scoured Hell’s Kitchen for the best dinner, drink, and entertainment options, with a special focus on spots with an extra NOLA twist. We’re pleased to share them with you today:

Bourbon Street Bar & Grille
346 W 46th St
Hurricane cocktails and Cajun eats enliven this Big Easy-inspired pub a few blocks from Times Square, and a ~15 minute walk from the venue.

Victor’s Cafe
236 W. 52nd St
Cuban cooking *and* live Cuban music fuel the festive old-Havana vibe at this circa-1963 spot. Havana Social on 10th Ave is now closed, but Victor’s makes up for the loss!

Dizzy’s Club
10 Columbus Circle
Upscale, intimate jazz club in Lincoln Center serving Southern-accented fare and themed cocktails. You have to time the night right to make this work: prime-time sets are at 7:30pm and 9:30pm each night, but there’s always the Late Night Sessions Tuesday-Saturday at 11:15pm.

Spoonfed NYC
331 W. 51st St
Relaxed spot for Lowcountry Southern fare including weekend brunch with cocktails and live music.

Totto Ramen Hell’s Kitchen
464 W. 51st St
Buzzy nook with counter and table seating known for Japanese noodle soups & pork buns.

Lillie’s Victorian Establishment
249 W. 49th St
Over-sized restaurant and bar with a menu of classic American and British dishes in a Victorian setting.

Black Tap Craft Burger & Beers
136 W. 55th St
Creative gourmet burgers, modern sides, milkshakes and draft beers served in a small, hip space. These are the milkshakes you’ve seen on Instagram.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Spotlight on Emma Meltzer: It feels like I’ve been dancing for four year straight and I never want to stop

We are thrilled to introduce you to yet another remarkable Playing Hot cast member, Emma Meltzer. Like much of the cast, Emma has been developing the show with us since the beginning, way back in 2015. Read more from Emma below and catch her in Playing Hot (April 18 – May 12). Grab your tickets today while you still can!

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot? 

Emma Meltzer: Playing Hot asks a lot of questions I’m really interested in. Questions about success, about fame, about genius. About the experience of being ahead of your time. It asks about authenticity and what that word even means. It asks about love and ambition and how these can fuel us to do great things. And at its heart it asks how it’s possible for this great artist to be forgotten? What are the mechanisms we’re all wrapped inside that made that possible? And then, as theatrical piece- how do you tell a story if it’s been forgotten? 

PTC: When did you first start working on Playing Hot? Tell us about what this journey has been like for you. 

EM: I have been a part of Playing Hot from the very first workshop, which is pretty darn cool. I love working on new plays and this one has been a particular joy. Getting to learn about Buddy Bolden, about jazz, about New Orleans through working on this piece has been an extraordinary experience, and then putting together this piece to share it all, it feels like I’ve been dancing for four year straight and I never want to stop. 

PTC: Tell us about your characters in Playing Hot and where/if you see yourself in them. 

EM: I play a whole lot of characters in Playing Hot, one of whom is Ranger Karen. Ranger Karen is a very real ranger at the very real Jazz National Historical Park that exists and is dedicated to the preservation of jazz history in New Orleans. My character is inspired by her, by her love of New Orleans, her dedication to its history and to sharing it with those who visit the park. That love really resonates with me, at the heart of which I think is a belief in people. A belief in change. A belief that the world gets better when we look outside of ourselves and learn together. I definitely see myself in those beliefs. 

You can hear Emma’s voice in a new animated series for Cartuna called “Yard Sale” and she’ll soon be going on tour with Boomwaggle, a wild musical storytelling piece with Joseph White. You can follow her adventures at @emmameltzer on Instagram. And don’t forget to catch Emma in Playing Hot, April 18 – May 12. Grab your tickets now!

Posted in Uncategorized |

Spotlight on Eric R. Williams: A harrowing story about one of America’s most enigmatic musicians

We’re keeping it rolling, introducing all of the brilliant artists who are building Playing Hot, our jazz concert-party-play hybrid. Today we’re featuring Eric R. Williams, the newest member of the Playing Hot cast. Learn more about Eric below, and grab your tickets to Playing Hot now!

Pipeline Theatre Company: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

Eric R. Williams: This is not your typical night out at the theatre! It’s a literal experience. We’re telling a harrowing story about one of America’s most enigmatic musicians of all time in a way that will stimulate and invigorate the senses in ways we don’t usually expect from the theatre.

PTC: When did you first start working on Playing Hot? Tell us about what this journey has been like for you.

ERW: This is my first tango with Playing Hot. My journey has encompassed all of five days right now and I am loving it! Its been insanely educational, eye-opening and has already stretched me as an actor. I can’t wait to further develop this story and bring it to NYC as the Spring begins to roll on in.

PTC: What is your relationship to Buddy Bolden’s story?

ERW: Right before I left Atlanta to go to college, there was buzz around town about a biopic being made about Buddy Bolden. Dancers were being sought to audition and participate in the film, to appear as patrons in various club scenes and dance sequences. The movie Idlewild was fresh in the minds of many and this new Buddy Bolden movie was slated to be in the same vein. That was the first time I heard about the legendary Buddy Bolden and I was so excited to see what was going to come of the project. Spoiler alert: It never got off the ground. For me to have the opportunity to be apart of telling his story these many years later feels full circle in a way that I can fully appreciate now.

PTC: Talk to us about jazz. What’s your relationship to the music?

ERW: My parents surrounded my little brother and I with jazz – car rides, around the house, birthday parties, you name it. I didn’t grow to appreciate it until I was a teen, but growing up with those sounds in my periphery informed my musical sensibilities in ways I wouldn’t discover until I began training for my BFA. As a singer, I was always partial to the vocal styles of the music, so hearing artists like Dianne Reeves, or those who were influenced by Jazz, like Anita Baker, Dionne Warrick or Luther Vandross only supplemented my musical tastes. Jazz, as a whole, has proven to be like acquiring a taste for wine & I am a sucker for a nice glass of wine.

You can catch Eric in the short film “Introvert’s Guide to Activism” which is currently making it’s festival run. You also might spot him in Mastercard’s Priceless Surprises commercial, opposite Camila Cabello. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @AllFreshAiric and see him in Playing Hot this April 18 – May 12! Grab you tickets here.

Posted in Uncategorized |

Spotlight on Roi King: Thanx to my Dad, Mother, her brothers, Billie Holiday, and Tower Records

Throughout March and April we’re introducing you to all the remarkable artists who are working together to bring Playing Hot roaring into reality. Today we’re featuring Roi King, an entertainer in the truest sense of the word who has been developing Playing Hot with us since 2015. Read more about Roi below and grab your tickets to Playing Hot today!

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What drew you to Playing Hot?

Roi King: Other than the obvious reasons of it being a brilliant, beautifully written story that needs to told for jazz? History. It’s one of the most “woke” pieces of work I have had the pleasure and blessing to be a part of. 

PTC: Talk to use about jazz. What’s your relationship to the music?

RK: I was raised listening, learning about, and loving Jazz. Thanx to my Dad, Mother, her brothers, Billie Holiday, and Tower Records. It always been constant staple in my life. 

PTC: What’s the most important element of this project to you?

RK: Through Playing Hot, people will learn and come to understand the origins of Jazz. This is another part of black America’s history that needs to be told so we know who we are as a people here in these Americas. 

PTC: When did you first start working on Playing Hot?

RK: I think I started in a workshop reading in 2015. Boy!! Has it been a wonderful journey of growth for the work and myself as an actor. The many incarnations and characters I play, I believe I played or read almost every character.  It has been an amazing opportunity to experience as an actor. Thanks to Kevin and Jaki!

PTC: Tell us about your characters in Playing Hot and where you see yourself in them.

RK: OK! So there was:
WESTMORE: a fun loving, hard working family man. My likeness – the love for family and the need to leave something for the son he loves, like my Dad wanted for me. 
DOOKY: sidekick co-signer in da Barba shop. My likeness – I’m the co-signer for most of my friends. “Right Roi?”  Me: yup!
ROBICHAUX: a fly-Ass “success” that’s too kool for school. My likeness – I’m already fly I’m working on “success.”

Roi is currently in the writing stages of a one-man show based on his experience being a teenage Black Single father in NYC. He’s also working on a poetry-short film. To follow his progress on these projects you can visit his website, www.roiking.net and follow him on both Instagram and Twitter at @roiking. And don’t forget to catch him in Playing Hot, grab your tickets here!

Posted in Uncategorized |

Spotlight on Cristina Pitter: Our body is rocked with the resilience and brilliance of black people and black music

With just over two weeks to go before our first performance of Playing Hot, we’re pleased to continue introducing you to all the incredible artists who are bringing you to life. Today we’re profiling Cristina Pitter, interdisciplinary artist and storyteller, Pipeline ensemble member, and Playing Hot cast member. Learn more about Cristina below and grab your tickets to Playing Hot today!

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project?

Cristina Pitter: Playing Hot is wild and ridiculous experience that I have been in love with since it’s first workshop in 2016, so naturally I had to make sure I was in the full production. To be in a space with a team that has so much joy, love, and boundless imagination is a beautiful gift.

PTC: Tell us about what this journey has been like for you.

CP: Playing Hot is a show that I will never be tired of doing. Until my knees give out of course. It has been a beautiful journey of hilarious antics, growing friendships, and an astounding drive to make the impossible happen. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with Playing Hot since its first showing and want all the glorious life for it’s future.

PTC: What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

CP: I’m thrilled at the opportunity to bring to life such a unique piece of theatre that is both thrilling and heartbreaking, while honoring the spirit of New Orleans and jazz.

PTC: What do you want the folks reading this to know about Playing Hot?

CP: What strikes me most about Playing Hot is the passionate standard of authenticity that is upheld in every aspect of this production. Messy truths of history and modern day are reckoned with while our body is rocked with the resilience and brilliance of black people and black music.

PTC: Talk to us about jazz. What’s your relationship to the music?

CP: Growing up, I was blessed to always have all kinds of music around me so jazz was as much of a mainstay as salsa, house, hip hop, rock, and classical music. Jazz has always moved me on a soul level, but not that Kenny G shit. I’m talking Ella, Miles, Duke, Billie, Sarah Vaugh. And to see the influence of jazz in so many other musical genres is incredible.

Following a residency with Mabou Mines SUITE/Space, Cristina Pitter is currently working with The Ashè Collective on her solo show “decolonizing my vagina.” You can follow her on Instagram at @lavidbrujeria and on Twitter at @lavidagypsy. And you can catch her in Playing Hot, April 18 – May 12. Grad you tickets today!

Posted in Uncategorized |

Spotlight on Dante Jeanfelix: All of your favorite things about live performance in a single night

Playing Hot will perform April 18 through May 12 at Theater 511. In advance of the start of performances, we’re introducing you to all the remarkable artists involved. Today, we’re pleased to feature cast member Danté Jeanfelix, who has been with the project since we first started developing it in 2015. Hear from Danté below and grab your tickets today!

Pipeline Theatre Company: Why are you working on this project? What is most exciting to you about being part of Playing Hot?

Danté Jeanfelix: From the first time I read this script, I knew there was something magical and truly special about this show, that I just had to be a part of. It tells an important story about one of the most important contributions to American culture and examines how time has treated it. I am honored to be helping to tell this story.  What I am most excited about, in doing this show, is the way in which we are telling this story. This play works like a great piece of jazz, it will excite you every moment with its twists and turns, but it will also hit you in ways you may not expect.

PTC: When did you first start working on Playing Hot? Tell us about what this journey has been like for you.

DJ: Playing Hot has meant so much to me over the years. I have been working on this play, since the beginning, so over three years.  I am thrilled to finally bring this show to a whole new level. It is the most fun I’ve ever had doing a show and this team has truly been like a family to me, so to do this show is a dream! 

PTC: Tell us about you characters in Playing Hot and where/if you see yourself in them.

DJ: I play multiple characters in the show, which has been an absolute blast. There is nothing like playing a full scene as one character and then completely transforming, two minutes later, into a totally different character. It may sound crazy, but it actually gives you so much freedom as an actor, because you can’t think about your character, you just have to dive head-first into every character you portray.  One of my favorite characters, would have to be Manuel Hall, the man who introduced Buddy to the cornet.  Manuel is a neighbor of Buddy’s and a cook, who has such passion for what he does. He is someone that could have only come out of New Orleans, in his manner and approach to life. It is that enjoyment of life, as well as passion for what you do, that I aspire to achieve.

PTC: What do you want folks reading this to know about Playing Hot? What’s the most important element of this project to you?

DJ: This is not going to be your typical night of theatre. We are bringing all of your favorite things about live performance and putting them into a single night. You are never going to know where the story is going to go or how we are going to tell it, so prepare for everything and anything. The most important element of this whole experience is that we are bringing you, the audience, along for the ride. We are inviting you to join us for a night in our little slice of the Big Easy, so be ready to party!

PTC: If you were to write a tagline for Playing Hot, what would it be?

DJ: In our little slice of New Orleans, we play it fast, we play it loose and we play it HOT!

In addition to Playing Hot, Danté is currently writing and developing a new play based on the early life of Sammy Davis Jr. You can follow him on instagram at @dantejeanfelix. And don’t forget to catch him in Playing Hot, April 18 – May 12. Grab your tickets here!

Posted in Uncategorized |