Spotlight on Jeffery Miller: The spirit of a true New Orleanian runs deep

We have just about one week left in our run of Playing Hot and we’re excited to end things the way we started: by celebrating the incredible artists who have worked together to bring this little bit of New Orleans to midtown Manhattan. Today we’re pleased to introduce you to Jeffery Miller, one of the trombonists in Playing Hot. In addition to being a trombonist, Jeffery is a singer, composer, and arranger, and is one of several members of our team who was born and raised in Louisiana. Learn more about Jeffery below and snag your tickets to Playing Hot today! We close on May 18, so act fast!

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

Jeffery Miller: I didn’t hesitate to say yes when Marcus asked me to be a part of this project! I get to play with great, spirited musicians!

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

JM: I play trombone primarily. I also sing, and play tuba, baritone and piano. I grew up singing around the house and a bit in church. I started playing trombone around age 10 or 11, thanks to my middle school music teacher Keith Hart.

PTC: Will you share a bit of your personal history with us? Where in Louisiana did you grow up and what brought you to New York?

JM: I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana; more specifically the Westbank (Algiers). I literally used to live off of Mardi Gras Blvd, haha. I decided to come to New York in 2014 when I got accepted to Juilliard. Since I’ve been here, I’ve had so many awesome experiences such as touring Europe and Abu Dhabi with Wynton Marsalis and playing a sold-out Madison Square Garden with Preservation Hall and Arcade Fire. I’m excited for what’s coming next.

PTC: What has it been like for you to bring New Orleans to New York through Playing Hot?

JM: I’m always excited and willing to rep my city wherever I go. I’m so proud to be from New Orleans, and it’s the best feeling when I can make people feel that with the sound of my trombone.

PTC: What parts of New Orleans do you feel it’s most important to represent through this story?

JM: The spirit of a true New Orleanian runs deep, and I believe it’s of utmost importance to capture this in the story. And we obviously have to stay true to the integrity of the music. It’s deceptively difficult to play it correctly. I cannot stress this enough.

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

JM: Papa John Joseph was my great-great grandfather. He was a New Orleans bass player who grew up playing with Buddy Bolden early in his career. Later in his life, he played in the Original Tuxedo Orchestra and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Apparently in 1965, he dropped dead at Preservation Hall after playing a crazy rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In”! Ironically, I grew up playing in the Preservation Hall Junior Jazz Band (I didn’t even know he existed back then)! They even took me to Carnegie Hall when I was 15. Music is so powerfully deep.

You can follow Jeffery on Instagram at @thejefferymiller, on Twitter at @imjefferymiller, and keep an eye out for Jeffery’s debut album, Songs About Women. Until then, you can catch him on stage in Playing Hot (now through May 18). Grab your tickets today, while there are still tickets to grab!

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Playing Hot Has Extended by Popular Demand!

We are pleased to announce that Playing Hot has extended by popular demand through May 18. We’ve added 6 more performances to the run, including late night performances on May 17 and 18. That’s 6 more chances to experience this raucous, heart pounding, utterly singular event. Grab your tickets now! (Photo by Marcus Middleton)

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Join Us for Our Summer Toast Benefit

Our milestone 10th anniversary season is coming to a close this summer. With it we send off one of our fearless leaders, Ari Schrier, as she makes her way onto new adventures. We’re saying goodbye in the truest Pipeline fashion, with a big and beautiful party.

We invite you to join us on Wednesday, June 5, for our Summer Toast Benefit. We’ll toast Pipeline’s past decade of bold theatre as well as Ari’s steadfast dedication to making Pipeline a home for artists to dream wildly. Oh, and did we mention it’s on a boat overlooking incredible NYC views? With an open bar? And dinner?!

PURCHASE TICKETS

Enjoy good eats, booze-a-plenty, and the sweet company of our nearest and dearest Pipeline supporters, artists, and dreamers (that means YOU!) as we sail off into the summer sunset.

Boarding begins at 5:45PM at the Skyport Marina. We’ll set sail on the Jacana at 6:15PM and return to dock at 9:15PM.

Help us ring in our second decade of ambitious and groundbreaking new work, and help us make this a send off to remember.

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Spotlight on Jim Petty: I think the music is going to speak for itself

With Playing Hot off and running, we’re excited to continue to introduce you to the incredible team of artists who have made this all possible. Today we introduce Jim Petty who, together with the whole team at Five OHM Productions, is making the incredible sound of Playing Hot possible. Learn more about Jim below and snatch up those Playing Hot tickets today!

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

Jim Petty: I designed a few musicals last year with both Pipeline and Jaki Bradley so I am very excited to be working with them again and to be a part of this team. 

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

JP: The show is about the birth of jazz in New Orleans! How can you not be excited about that? 

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

JP: I do sound design. I have always been involved with sound in one way or another. Many years ago my wife brought me to see my first Broadway musical and I thought that this was something I would enjoy doing. 

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

JP: I got into jazz through hip hop, deejaying and discovering samples. As I started to make my own sample based music I was buying all the jazz records I could find. My approach to music lately is heavily influenced by jazz improvisation.

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

JP: I think the music is going to speak for itself. My focus is to bring a little voodoo magic to enhance the soundscape.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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