Jason Graae

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Jason Graae
Born (1958-05-15) May 15, 1958 (age 60)
Chicago, Illinois
Education Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre (1980)
University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music
Occupation Stage, film, and television actor
Home town Tulsa, Oklahoma
Awards Bistro Awards (4)
Ovation Awards (2)
Joel Hirschhorn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre
Artistic Director's Achievement Award
New York Nightlife Awards (2)
Website http://www.jasongraae.com

Jason Graae (pronounced "grah" [1] or "graw", but not "gray" [2] ) (born 15 May 1958) is an American musical theater actor, best known for his musical theater performances but with a varied career spanning Broadway, opera, television and film. [3] He has won four Bistro Awards, [4] two Ovation Awards, [5] [6] two New York Nightlife Awards [5] [7] and the Joel Hirschhorn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre. [8]

Broadway theatre class of professional theater presented in New York City, New York, USA

Broadway theatre, commonly known as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Joel Hirschhorn was an American songwriter. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song on two occasions. He also wrote songs for a number of musicians, including Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison. Hirschhorn was born in the Bronx and attended the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan. After graduating, Hirschhorn became a regular performer on New York's nightclub circuit, both as a solo singer and as a member of the rock & roll band, The Highlighters.

Contents

Early life

Though he was born in Chicago, Graae was educated in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at Edison Preparatory School where he played the oboe, acted in plays, and sang in the chorus. [1] He appeared in a production of the musical George M! in the seventh grade. [9] Following his passion for music, Graae went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, hoping to become a concert oboist, but did not like his instructor's approach. He transferred to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music only to have his previous instructor move there as well. Taking this as "a sign from the musical gods", he pursued a career in musical theatre instead. [1] He graduated in 1980 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theatre from the now-merged University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music. [10] [11] [12]

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois, as well as the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwest. Chicago is the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, often referred to as Chicagoland, and the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States. The metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States, and the fourth largest in North America and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Tulsa, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 45th-most populous city in the United States. As of July 2016, the population was 413,505, an increase of 12,591 over that reported in the 2010 Census. It is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 991,005 residents in the MSA and 1,251,172 in the CSA. The city serves as the county seat of Tulsa County, the most densely populated county in Oklahoma, with urban development extending into Osage, Rogers, and Wagoner counties.

Thomas Edison Preparatory School is a public school located in midtown Tulsa, Oklahoma serving students from the sixth grade to the twelfth grade.

His mother was a dancer in Broadway musicals who moved to Europe after marrying his father; [9] they fled from the Nazis in World War II and returned to the United States. [1] His father was also musical, playing cello in a symphony outside Chicago in his spare time (while working as a scientist), and his sister is a classical pianist. [2] Graae's first agent urged him to change his surname to "Grey" but he refused, wanting to honour his Danish father. [1] He described Victor Borge, who came to America on the same boat as his father as both fled the 1940 invasion of Denmark, as his main inspiration. [13] In 2007, his mother moved from Tulsa to Los Angeles to live with Graae and his partner. In an interview he said that "life has indeed upheaved as I know it.... We're thinking of starting a new sitcom called 'Two Gays, a Dog and an Old Lady.'" [13] Graae came out to his mother in 1983, an experience recalled in his two-hander production The Prince and the Showboy with Faith Prince. [14]

Victor Borge Danish-American comedian and musician

Børge Rosenbaum, known professionally as Victor Borge, was a Danish and American comedian, conductor, and pianist who achieved great popularity in radio and television in the United States and Europe. His blend of music and comedy earned him the nicknames "The Clown Prince of Denmark," "The Unmelancholy Dane," and "The Great Dane."

German invasion of Denmark (1940) fighting that followed the German army crossing the Danish border on 9 April 1940

The German invasion of Denmark was the German attack on Denmark on 9 April, 1940, during the Second World War. The attack was a prelude to the main attack against Norway. The term Weserübung means Weser-exercise in English, named after the river Weser in northwestern Germany.

Los Angeles City in California

Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L.A., is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood and the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis. Los Angeles is the largest city on the West Coast of North America.

Career

Early Years

Graae made his off-Broadway debut in Godspell with Liz Callaway in 1980, forming a friendship which had them performing together in cabarets nearly 30 years later. [15] [16] He created the role of Sparky in the musical Forever Plaid and was an original cast member alongside Stan Chandler, David Engel, and Guy Stroman when it opened off-Broadway in 1989. [17] It ran at Steve McGraw's for over four years with more than 1800 performances [18] and, as his first hit show, helped him to become increasingly well known. [13] The original four cast members shared a Bistro Award for Forever Plaid. Around the same time, he was nominated for the 1993 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical for Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh . [19] In 1997, Graae starred in the US premiere of Ragtime in the role of Houdini. [20]

An Off-Broadway theatre is any professional venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, inclusive. These theatres are smaller than Broadway theatres, but larger than Off-Off-Broadway theatres, which seat fewer than 100.

<i>Godspell</i> musical

Godspell is a musical composed by Stephen Schwartz with the book by John-Michael Tebelak. The show opened off-Broadway on May 17, 1971, and has since been produced by multiple touring companies and in many revivals. The 2011 revival played on Broadway from October 13, 2011 through June 24, 2012.

Liz Callaway is an American actress, singer and recording artist, who is best known for having provided the singing voices of many female characters in animated films, such as Anya/Anastasia in Anastasia, Odette in The Swan Princess, Jasmine in the Aladdin sequels The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves, adult Kiara in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, and a dancing napkin ring in Beauty and the Beast. She was also the original Ellen in the Broadway production of Miss Saigon.

Overview

Graae's reputation has grown with roles in the Rodgers and Hammerstein revue A Grand Night for Singing , Falsettos , Stardust, Snoopy!!! , and Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? . [3] [21] His voice work in advertising includes as the Lucky Charms leprechaun [6] and representing Western Union Moneygrams, [21] and he performed in the film Home on the Range for Disney. [6] His television roles include recurring appearances as Chad on the Showtime series Rude Awakening and as Dennis on HBO's Six Feet Under . He has guest starred in TV shows including Friends , Frasier , Sabrina the Teenage Witch , Caroline in the City , Living Single , and Providence , [21] as well as in films including The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood! and Geppetto . Graae has released commercial audio recordings including You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile: Jason Graae Sings Charles Strouse , [9] described as perfectly capturing "the mood and atmosphere of the cabaret experience – from the entertaining 'novelty' songs which he infuses with his own apt sense of humor, to the ballads interpreted beautifully." [12] Graae was uncertain about the album's cover photo in which he appears "wearing nothing but a sly smile, a top hat (not on his head) and a cane" – and he "searched long and hard for the biggest hat [he] could find" – but ultimately agreed that it would be intriguing and is glad he did it. [9]

Rodgers and Hammerstein 20th-century American songwriting team

Rodgers and Hammerstein refers to the duo of composer Richard Rodgers (1902–1979) and lyricist-dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960), who together were an influential, innovative and successful American musical theatre writing team. They created a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 1950s, initiating what is considered the "golden age" of musical theatre. Five of their Broadway shows, Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music, were outstanding successes, as was the television broadcast of Cinderella (1957). Of the other four that the team produced on Broadway during their lifetimes, Flower Drum Song was well-received, and none was an outright flop. Most of their shows have received frequent revivals around the world, both professional and amateur. Among the many accolades their shows garnered were thirty-four Tony Awards, fifteen Academy Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and two Grammy Awards.

A revue is a type of multi-act popular theatrical entertainment that combines music, dance, and sketches. The revue has its roots in 19th century popular entertainment and melodrama but grew into a substantial cultural presence of its own during its golden years from 1916 to 1932. Though most famous for their visual spectacle, revues frequently satirized contemporary figures, news or literature. Similar to the related subforms of operetta and musical theatre, the revue art form brings together music, dance and sketches to create a compelling show. In contrast to these, however, revue does not have an overarching storyline. Rather, a general theme serves as the motto for a loosely-related series of acts that alternate between solo performances and dance ensembles.

<i>A Grand Night for Singing</i> musical

A Grand Night for Singing is a musical revue showcasing the music of Richard Rodgers and the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II.

The years 2000–2010

In 2000, Graae was cast in Forbidden Broadway Y2K LA!, an updated version of the Forbidden Broadway franchise of revues which parody musical theatre. [22] The franchise had earlier spawned a spinoff a similar parody of the world of Hollywood in which Graae had appeared. He earned a nomination for an Ovation Award for Forbidden Hollywood and won an Ovation Award for Forbidden Broadway Y2K LA! [5] [6] He is included on the Forbidden Broadway: 20th Anniversary Edition cast album, the sixth in the series. He received an Ovation Award nomination for Anything Goes in 2003 [16] and around the same time was developing his one-man show, Coup de Graae! . He has performed this show in numerous cities including New York, San Francisco, and Hollywood. [21] It was amongst Time Out New York ’s top 10 cabaret acts of 2006. [23] Coup de Graae! includes songs and stories from Graae's life (featuring Rodgers and Hart, Jerry Herman, and the Bergmans), and references to his voice-over work; he is described as "the complete entertainer, giddy, irreverent, mischievous and moving, often at the same time." [21] The Los Angeles Times described the show as "an eclectic banquet of standards, show tunes, pop songs, incisive wit, easygoing charm and a humorous dessert featuring his tale as the voice of 'Lucky the Leprechaun'." [24] The show won a New York Nightlife Award for Graae. [5] He has developed other eponymous shows, including Graae's Anatomy (2007) [2] and 4912 Shades of Graae (2014). [25]

<i>Forbidden Broadway</i> musical

Forbidden Broadway is an Off-Broadway revue parodying musical theatre, particularly Broadway musicals. It was conceived, written and directed by Gerard Alessandrini.

Forbidden Hollywood is the parody show that opened Off-Off-Broadway and was taped live in Hollywood. It was created by Gerard Alessandrini, who also created the ever-popular series of Off-Broadway parodies of Broadway theatre, Forbidden Broadway. But this production, instead of spoofing Broadway, lampooned popular films such as Forrest Gump, Sense and Sensibility, Pulp Fiction, Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz Disney's and Aladdin, and songs featured in them, although most of the score consists of songs from musicals used to comment on the films. It also spoofs movie stars like Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, Barbra Streisand, Ann-Margret and Whoopi Goldberg. A The New York Times reviewer wrote that although the production had funny moments, "the tone that defines the show is a glib disaffection for Hollywood", lamenting that the show missed the opportunity to use more songs from films, and concluding: "It's fine if Mr. Alessandrini wants to see Hollywood as the enemy, but you have to know your enemy to take good aim at it."

Forbidden Broadway: 20th Anniversary Edition is the sixth volume in the Forbidden Broadway Cast Albums. Although there isn't a show with the same title, the CD has twenty-five of Forbidden Broadway's best songs, including eight previously unreleased tracks. It was conceived, created and written by Gerard Alessandrini.

In 2004, Graae took on the one-man play Fully Committed , which required him to perform 30 different roles in 80 minutes. [26] Praised for a hilarious performance in which he plays "low-key charm as well as pile-driving obnoxiousness with equal skill," he earned an Artistic Director's Achievement Award for his performance. [6] [26] In 2005, he won the third of his four Bistro Awards, [4] this one for Best Major Engagement for Coup de Graae! [5]

The Joel Hirschhorn Award is given annually by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle for "outstanding achievement in musical theatre"; Graae was honoured with this award in 2007. [8] In 2008, he starred opposite Constance Towers in the Los Angeles revival of Arthur Allan Seidelman's production of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks ; [27] the play had premiered at the Geffen Playhouse in 2001 with Uta Hagen and David Hyde Pierce in the two roles. [28] Hyde Pierce and Graae worked together as long-lost identical twin brothers in a 1999 production of The Boys from Syracuse . [29]

The years 2011 to the present

In 2012, he worked with long-term friend Faith Prince on The Prince and the Showboy presented at the 54 Below nightclub. [23] The show includes tributes to Jerry Herman, composer of the musicals La Cage aux Folles and Hello Dolly! ; Graae described Herman as "a survivor of the highest degree [who] lives his life as an eternal optimist." [23] The Herman material coalesces around Graae's recollections about coming out to his mother. [14] Prince and Graae won the New York Nightlife Award for outstanding musical comedy performer in January 2013. [7]

Graae performed in Little Me in its original form with 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco in 2013, under the direction of Eric Inman. [30] He received critical acclaim, being described as "stepping into the roles previously inhabited by two of the most versatile entertainers in Broadway and Hollywood history" and as having "boundless energy and a staggering level of comedic talent" as well as a "quick wit (he's a master at ad libbing onstage) [which] came in handy when a fake moustache started to take on a life of its own" on opening night. [30] While collaborating with 42nd Street Moon, he performed in Once In Love With Loesser , developed by the company's artistic director Greg MacKellan as one of his musical tributes dedicated to exploring and celebrating the work of some of Broadway's greatest songwriters. The performance was built around the three stages of Frank Loesser's career: as a Tin Pan Alley lyricist, his work in Hollywood, and finally as a Broadway songwriter. Graae performed Once In Love With Amy (from Where's Charley? ) and The King's New Clothes (from the 1952 Danny Kaye film Hans Christian Anderson ) and was described as having "scored strongly". [31]

In 2015-16, Graae took on the iconic role of Ebeneezer Scrooge in the premiere of a new musical, Scrooge in Love! written by Duane Poole (music by Larry Grossman and lyrics by Kellan Blair), at San Francisco's Eureka Theatre. [32] In a twist on the Dickens classic, rather than being miserly, this Scrooge sees money as a cure-all and takes generosity overboard. His performance was praised as providing an "often puckish Scrooge who alternates between knowing how to sell a punch line and humanizing the old man's neuroses." [32] The San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle nominated Graae for an Excellence in Theatre Award in the category of best principal actor in a musical for his performance as Scrooge. [33]

Graae gave a series of well-received performances in a concert version of the musical The Pajama Game at the Musical Theatre Guild in Los Angeles in 2016. [34] In October 2016, he performed in a concert version of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Merrily We Roll Along , winner of the Drama Desk Award and Olivier Award for Best Musical. [35] In March 2017 he is scheduled to appear with Liz Callaway in Happily Ever Laughter billed as an evening of "love songs, high belting, and hilarity" at Annenberg Theater in the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs CA. [36]

Opera

Graae made his operatic debut with the Metropolitan Opera in Twyla Tharp's Everlast in conjunction with the American Ballet Theatre. [37] He has also sung with the Washington National Opera and the Boston Pops. [21] His Los Angeles Opera debut was in 2001 in the role of Njegus in The Merry Widow . [38] Performing with the Michigan Opera Theatre in the same role earned him a nomination for an Oscar Wilde Award in the category of Best Performance – Opera. [39] [40] He has played the roles of Offenbach in The Grand Duchess , and Frosch in Die Fledermaus with several different opera companies. [35]

Awards and nominations

YearNonminated WorkAwardResultNotes
1989 Forever Plaid Bistro Award WonCast award [4]
1993 Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominated [6] [19]
1995 Forbidden Hollywood Ovation Award Nominated [6]
2000 Forbidden Broadway Y2K LA! Ovation Award Won [5] [6] [22]
2001 Bistro Award Won [4]
2003 Anything Goes Ovation Award Nominated [16]
2004 Fully Committed Artistic Director's Achievement AwardWon [6] [26]
2006 Coup de Graae! Bistro Award for Best Major EngagementWon [4] [5]
New York Nightlife AwardWon [5]
2007Joel Hirschhorn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical TheatreWon [8]
2008 Bistro Award Won [4]
2012 The Prince and the Showboy New York Nightlife Award for Outstanding Musical Comedy PerformerWonJoint with Faith Prince [7]
2015 The Merry Widow Oscar Wilde AwardNominated [39] [40]
Scrooge in Love! San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award – Best Principal Actor in a MusicalNominated [33]

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References

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