Frank Launches New Podcast

Frank DiLella, Spectrum News NY1 theater correspondent and host of “On Stage,” and iHeartRadio Broadway, announced today the launch of a new iHeartRadio Original Podcast, “Show & Tell with Frank DiLella,” beginning October 7. New episodes will be available every Monday via the iHeartPodcast Network. 

With more than a decade’s worth of experience interviewing the biggest stars in entertainment, DiLella will bring his unique style of showbiz conversation to iHeartRadio Broadway through this new podcast. Listeners can join him each week as he goes in-depth and gets candid with some of the theater world’s most recognizable faces and up-and-comers you must know. 

“I am truly excited to be teaming up with iHeartMedia and iHeartRadio Broadway as it expands its Broadway programming,” said DiLella. “As an entertainment journalist for Spectrum News NY1, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the folks who make up the theater community here in New York and abroad. And with this new opportunity, I look forward to bringing my in-depth conversations and commentary with the movers and shakers of the industry to a larger audience.” 

“We’re thrilled to have Frank DiLella join iHeartRadio Broadway with the new ‘Show & Tell with Frank DiLella’ podcast,” said Sarah Jane Arnegger, Director for iHeartRadio Broadway. “Frank has been an integral part of the Broadway industry for years and with his built-in audience, this podcast will serve as an extension of what Frank does best with his comprehensive reporting style and celebrity theatrical interviews.”

Frank on Page Six

“Spotted [at God’s Love We Deliver benefit] were Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, new “Waitress” star Joey McIntyre, author David France and comic Kate Clinton — as well as CEO Karen Pearl, NY1’s Frank DiLella and Ben Loehnen of anticipated Simon & Schuster imprint Avid Reader Press.”

Dear Evan Hansen is coming to a city near you

Dear Reader,
Today is going to be a good day and here’s why: Dear Evan Hansen is coming to a city near you!

The 2017 Tony Award–winning musical Dear Evan Hansen is about to embark on a national tour. The musical — which has struck a chord with critics and audiences alike and is still going strong on Broadway — features a book by Tony winner Steven Levenson and direction by celebrated theater leader and four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif. NY1 entertainment reporter Frank DiLella recently caught up with Levenson and Greif during break from rehearsal to talk about the hit musical and prepping Evan Hansen for the road.

Dear Evan Hansen has been on quite the journey since the show had its world premiere in 2015 at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Are you guys surprised at how it’s been received?

STEVEN: I have yet to be surprised by the way the show has been received. When we began writing the show we didn’t know what we were making; we knew we had a story that we were passionate about and characters we believed in. We just didn’t know if we had an audience for this story. But all along the way people supported us.

MICHAEL: I’m gratified by its remarkable reception. You can’t anticipate anything. I’ve never been involved in something that had greater potential for this kind of success. I just thought this was the most remarkable story and I felt so fortunate to be teamed with such extraordinary storytellers and cast. There was a lot of optimism from the very beginning.

Michael, you told me way back when that you wanted to direct Evan Hansen because of composers/lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. 

MICHAEL: I had met them when I was doing Next to Normal and they were observers into my rehearsal process. I met them and did a little research into their material, and I found them bright and extremely interesting. And I listened to their material and I thought it was terrific. So when I got the call from Stacey Mindich, the show’s producer — “Will you come in and talk about this musical that Pasek and Paul are composing?” — I thought these are really remarkable young talents and I needed to do this.

Dear Evan Hansen won six 2017 Tony Awards including best musical. When did you know you had a hit on your hands?

STEVEN: I remember being in tech on Broadway and walking out into the lobby of the Music Box Theatre and seeing someone in line to buy tickets. And I ran back in to tell Benj Pasek that I saw somebody — who I didn’t know — buying tickets to the show and I was so excited. You go to a Broadway house and you look at all the seats and you think, “Man, there’s no way we’re going to be able to fill this.” And when that started happening, that was amazing.

What’s been the most rewarding experience to date with this show?

STEVEN: I think it’s been cumulative for me. There’s the reward of working on it and getting to know these artists who I work with, and the actors, and introducing new cast members to the show, and to see their take on the material.

Speaking of the cast, your original Broadway cast was such a family. Tell me about your national tour family.

MICHAEL: I can say that the tour company is fantastic. They’re talented, courageous. We all have the advantage of knowing what the piece is. This group is particularly terrific in accepting things that the creative team has learned over the years; we’re letting this group find themselves in the characters.

STEVEN: We took a long time to put together this cast. We saw the best people and found the best people for the roles. We felt like we wanted to find special and incredible actors for these parts. And the actor we found to play Evan was actually on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre. He was understudying the role of Evan and has been doing that for a few months: Ben Ross. I was at the first read-through the other week for the tour and I was just blown away by the talent in the room.

The character of Evan — it’s such a demanding part. Ben Platt originated the role on Broadway; tell me about Ben Ross’s take on it.

STEVEN: I remember his first audition when he came in to read for the understudy role. There’s something about everyone who’s played this part; everybody has something incredibly unique about them. There’s a quality about all these actors, you can’t take your eyes off of them. And Ben is one of those people. He tapped into so much of the part — the humor, the anxiety, and the pathos — but he also brings with it his own brand of pathos and anxiety and humor.

MICHAEL: I think we saw enormous potential in Ben from the very first time we met him. I met Ben for an audition for a play he didn’t get, but he made such an impression on me that I called [Hansen casting director] Tara Rubin to find out if he could sing, and it turned out he could sing beautifully. And we kept a close eye on him and we all saw enormous potential.

Any changes to the tour vs. the Broadway production?

STEVEN: No. But looking at the script, a few things have crept in over time — little quirks that the original actors created along the way — that have made it into the script.

Michael, you’ve been connected to some groundbreaking work over the years: Rent, Next to Normal, Dear Evan Hansen. Where does Evan Hansen fall when you rank your catalog of work?

MICHAEL: I love that trio and I hope to add to it. But I love that they’re all musicals about serious issues. In some way they’re all family stories. Although the family in Rent is a chosen family, it’s still a family. I really like that there’s been a continuum with the use of contemporary music in these musicals, serious themes that reflect the moment they were written in, and they’ve taken on subjects that haven’t been taken on in musical theater. Mental illness, mortal illness — I think they’re linked in that way — and I hope to remain involved with musicals of the future that reflect their moment as truthfully and as vitally as those three musicals.

Over the course of Dear Evan Hansen, whether he knows it or not, Evan changes the characters he comes in contact with. How has Evan the show changed you?

STEVEN: Beyond the fact that it’s made so many of my dreams come true, the fact that I get to go to 45th Street and stop by the Music Box Theatre and walk backstage eight times a week if I want to — and the fact that audiences are still being moved by the show and the cast is telling that story — it’s a profoundly moving experience. As a playwright, I’ve never had something of mine run more than three months. But the fact that it’s been on for more than three months is magical. On a personal and emotional level, when I started writing the show I wasn’t a parent, and during the show I became a parent. My wife and I had a daughter. And I think there’s something symbiotic about making a story about children and parents and becoming a parent, and I’m not quite sure about the one-on-one of it and how it all works but I’m pretty sure they’re connected. And I’ve learned about the challenges and joys of being a parent by getting to live in the world of Evan Hansen.

MICHAEL: The breaths and the generosity of this material does effect and change me. The care that the writers have imbued in the writing of the characters and playing of the characters and the trust they’ve put in me to manage and guide all those very careful and fragile relationships makes me feel that much more worthy and responsible.


‘Come from Away’ Cast Celebrates NY1 Emmy Win

NY1 On Stage recently won the 2018 NY Emmy Award for ‘Magazine Program’ for Frank DiLella‘s profile piece about Come From Away, which aired last year, and this afternoon the Emmy Award Kissed the Cod at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, where the cast of Come From Away celebrated Frank DiLella and NY1’s Emmy Award win. Check out the photos below!

Revisit the segment here or watch DiLella’s Emmy acceptance speech here.

COME FROM AWAY is the breathtaking new musical that played record-breaking engagements in La Jolla and Seattle. Written by Canadians Irene Sankoff and David Hein, this is the stunning production from Tony-nominated director Christopher Ashley.

In a heartbeat, 38 planes with 6,579 passengers were stranded in a remote town in Newfoundland. The locals opened their hearts and homes, hosting this international community of strangers- spurring unexpected camaraderie in extraordinary circumstances.

On September 11, 2001 the world stopped. On September 12, their stories moved us all.

Mark Ruffalo on Tackling Miller

Three-time Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo has returned to Broadway this season in a revival of Arthur Miller’s The Price. The actor received a Tony nomination for his Broadway debut in Clifford Odets’s Awake and Sing! back in 2006. In The Price, Ruffalo takes on the character of Victor Franz, who is estranged from his brother, Walter (Tony Shalhoub). NY1 entertainment reporter Frank DiLella recently caught up with the actor to chat about his latest project.

Mark, when were you first introduced to The Price?
My first experience with this play was seeing two entirely young actors working on it in a theater class at Stella Adler in L.A., which is where I went to school. And at that moment I didn’t totally get the piece. It was a big scene they were doing, and it was pulled out of context. I was also so young. But finally, getting the chance to discover it like I am now, I just see it’s such an important piece of Miller’s work. It’s probably in some ways his most mature piece. Death of a Salesman has so much flash to it and it’s easy to point out the protagonist — the antagonist — it’s easy to hold on to that play more than this. The Price is much more nuanced; it’s much more of a dialectic between two truths — the rat race and our humanity. Which in a lot of ways I think Miller was struggling with: How can we remain human in a capitalist system?

You kind of willed this role, this play, your return to Broadway, into existence.

I was supposed to be shooting Avengers and it got pushed back four months. So I was asked to direct a film I’ve been trying to get made for a while, but it was too rushed. And a friend of mine said to me, “What would you like to be doing now?” And to be totally honest with you, I said, “My dream of dreams is to be in a play with some really seasoned actors. That wasn’t built around me. That wasn’t an ego piece.” I wanted an ensemble play with a short run and where I could start rehearsal in a week. And lo and behold, look what happened! [Laughs.]

Can you talk about director Terry Kinney’s concept for this revival?

The set is more abstract but the play is still traditional. This play in particular was Arthur Miller’s response to Theater of the Absurd — 1968, where people were breaking free from traditional theater and moving toward avant-garde. What he referred to as “theater without history and plays without history.” And so in some regards he’s digging in his heels against a theater that suddenly had become more about the spectacle and less about the ideas.

In your mind, why is Miller one of the greatest playwrights of all time?

His language is poetic and honest — and working-class — but it’s also incredibly erudite. And in a lot of ways he’s the working-class playwright. And no one captures such big ideas, like the struggles of humanity vs. humanity, more than he does with so much beautiful language. But he also makes it accessible to everyone. This is a theater that’s made for the people.

We’ve seen a lot of Miller on Broadway of late: The Crucible, A View From the Bridge, even Death of a Salesman. His work seems timely, no?

It’s true. And he’s talking about a lot of the problems that we’re facing today, especially with this play. 1968 can easily be compared to 2017 — they were eruption years, culturally, politically — and they’re similar in a lot of ways. One thing that was clear in 1968: Capitalism had run totally out of control and you saw this kind of dystopia developing in our cities, and it was the height of a cultural revolution and civil rights movement. And Miller’s key focus was: How do we stay human in these systems? How do we keep our humanity?

What’s your favorite Miller work?

The Price. It’s become my favorite. I’m a real Arthur Miller fan. But working on it and seeing the quality of the work and the craftsmanship of the piece, I think it’s his masterwork in some ways. It’s his most difficult work as a playwright as well. It’s so mature.

You’re playing Victor Franz in The Price. Any other dream Miller roles?

All My Sons is a beautiful play. Chris was always a part I wanted to play. I might be too old for Biff now, but I would love to play the old man one day in Salesman.

What’s one thing you can’t put a price tag on?

Love. The very thing that is our saving grace in the world and what that entails. I’m not talking about some hippie-dippy idea; I’m talking about what love really means. It’s sacrifice, it’s commitment, it’s responsibility, it’s care, courage, and joy.

You’re a theater guy at your core. In fact, you’ve told me before that if you could do theater for the rest of your life, you would be 100 percent content. Does that still stand true?

It’s been a long time since I’ve been back on stage; I’m definitely a little rusty. [Laughs.] You do sacrifice a little something for something else. But I love acting and I would do it anywhere. But there is something about walking into a theatre and working it out on a stage that just feeds me. I was telling my dad it’s the difference between a flower, which is a movie, and the Sistine Chapel. One is very quick and beautiful and explosive; the other one takes time and thought and design and construction.

Any priceless moments in the theater that you’ve had that you can share? 

[Laughs.] It’s always the mistakes that happen where something seems to be going wrong and it becomes something magical because you’re brought into the present. For example, last night we had a dress rehearsal run-through and we scrambled five pages! It turned into the most exciting on-the-edge-of-your-seat theater for the actors and audience because we were so committed to the play and where we had to go. And so we were all locked into this effort between all of us.


Arthur Miller’s The Price is currently playing at the American Airlines Theatre. Opening night is set for March 16. 

Glenn Close is back on the Boulevard

It’s as if she never said goodbye

Celebrated stage and screen actress Glenn Close returns to Broadway this season as faded star Norma Desmond in Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard. Close won her third Tony for breathing life into the iconic film character on stage back in 1995. The revival — under the direction of Lonny Price — makes its way to our shores after a sold-out run in London in the spring of 2016. NY1 entertainment reporter Frank DiLella recently caught up with Close to chat about her Main Stem “close-up”!

Celebrated stage and screen actress Glenn Close returns to Broadway this season as faded star Norma Desmond in Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard. Close won her third Tony for breathing life into the iconic film character on stage back in 1995. The revival — under the direction of Lonny Price — makes its way to our shores after a sold-out run in London in the spring of 2016. NY1 entertainment reporter Frank DiLella recently caught up with Close to chat about her Main Stem “close-up”!

To quote the musical: “Norma’s back, at last!”
[Laughs.] It feels like a great kind of coming-home in a way, because the last major thing that I did on Broadway was Norma 22 years ago. And a lot of life has gone by since then. My daughter was 6 when I left the show; she’s now 28. It’s thrilling. Lonny Price’s new reimagining — the story and how he’s presenting it — is so powerful.

Can you talk about growing with Norma?

I think during an actor/actress’s life we bank the various characters that we have played. Time, life and a deeper knowledge of craft causes those characters to evolve in our subconscious. Even if I don’t think constantly about a character — when I come back to it — I’m more informed. I’ve done more in life — gone through more ups and downs. I think it has made me more empathetic, perhaps. That’s why I think it’s a great luxury to revisit a character — certianly one as formidable and enduring as Norma Desmond.

I think Sunset is one of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest scores, if not his best. You have so many wonderful moments in the show. Do you have a favorite tune?

When we did it in London, the English National Opera Orchestra was below me when I was on my perch waiting to go on. I would listen to the intricacies of the score and never, ever got tired of it. One of my favorite moments is the orchestration when Betty and Artie walk upstage, after the scene in Schwab’s Drug Store. It’s the “girl meets boy” theme and it’s gorgeous — so romantic.

The beauty of Lonny’s production is that the orchestra is center stage. Forty pieces! This is the largest orchestra on Broadway in more than 80 years!

The orchestra in London became such a seamless part of the show, and it is wonderful watching the musicians, who are used to being in a pit, emotionally engage with the show. Andrew’s score is deeply cinematic — it’s a great movie score — so the orchestra’s emotional engagement is incredibly important.

Andrew Lloyd Webber will have four shows on Broadway when you guys open Sunset Boulevard [including Phantom of the Opera, Cats and School of Rock]. In your mind, why is Andrew one of the most successful artists today when it comes to musical theater?

Because he knows what notes to put at what emotional moments. It’s a chemical thing, having something to do with the chemistry of the human brain – certain notes, in a certain order, always elicit an emotional response. Andrew’s scores do that and again and again. It’s incredibly satisfying for those who are watching. It’s cathartic.

Can you talk about Lonny’s concept for Sunset Boulevard? This production is a lot darker than the original.

Lonny’s concept is that all of this is conjured up in the mind of Joe Gillis — the murdered Joe Gillis. The stage is an empty series of platforms or scaffoldings on a big Hollywood soundstage. As Joe explians what happened — why this particular character ended up floating dead in a Hollywood pool — the story unfolds in front of your eyes. I think it’s mesmerizing. You don’t need a lot of “stuff” to tell this story, which is arguably the best example of Billy Wilder’s genius. It is timeless and will never lose its relevance.

Your principal castmates are all making their Broadway debuts with this revival — including Michael Xavier, who is playing your leading man, Joe Gillis. 

I’ve not seen all productions of Sunset but I think each of them [Michael and company] in their own way are giving definitive performances. We had such a strong and new chemistry that the show became a phenomenon in London, so the point was to share that with New York. Not to go back to the drawing board and construct new chemistry with new actors, but to start from where we left off in London and build on it in New York. For me, there was no point in doing it without them. I wanted to bring over to Broadway what was incredibly new and fresh in London.

This show has a fan following. In fact, the night I saw it in London, the London Gay Men’s Chorus serenaded you in “Norma turbans” when you walked out of the stage door. What’s the appeal of this piece?

Norma Desmond is one of the greatest characters that has ever been written for a woman. And the fact that she’s of a certain age makes it more powerful and poignant. I don’t think the story has lost any of its relevance — the isolation people are feeling as we are supposedly all connected by this new social media thing that has sprung up since the 1950s. It’s about dreams, it’s about isolation, it’s about love, it’s about belief — all things that are kind of at the core of the human spirit and I think it speaks to people in many different ways.

What’s the first memory that comes to mind when you think about your time in the original production?

Driving down Sunset Boulevard on my way to rehearsal, vocalizing in my car and trying to decide at each stoplight, Do I have the courage to keep vocalizing? Because people may look in and think I’m a crazy person. I learned how to sing thanks to Sunset. When I first started, I was the worst singer in the company. There were many moments when I would ask myself, Can I deliver? I was jumping off the cliff every performance and finding my wings.

What do you want to take away from this experience? Creating Norma 2.0?

I hope my show pumps life and love and excitement and empathy into everyone who sees it. We actually evolved to have empathy… which can be undermined by all the stress and information and the disturbing things that are going on in the world. And I think the pathos of a piece of art like this is to remind us of our common humanity. How important it is to notice those next to us, to walk in each others shoes, to have empathy for and understanding of the human condition. It’s about survival.

Sunset Boulevard starring Glenn Close begins previews at Broadway’s Palace Theatre on February 2. Opening night is set for February 9. 

To quote the musical: “Norma’s back, at last!”
[Laughs.] It feels like a great kind of coming-home in a way, because the last major thing that I did on Broadway was Norma 22 years ago. And a lot of life has gone by since then. My daughter was 6 when I left the show; she’s now 28. It’s thrilling. Lonny Price’s new reimagining — the story and how he’s presenting it — is so powerful.

Can you talk about growing with Norma?

I think during an actor/actress’s life we bank the various characters that we have played. Time, life and a deeper knowledge of craft causes those characters to evolve in our subconscious. Even if I don’t think constantly about a character — when I come back to it — I’m more informed. I’ve done more in life — gone through more ups and downs. I think it has made me more empathetic, perhaps. That’s why I think it’s a great luxury to revisit a character — certianly one as formidable and enduring as Norma Desmond.

I think Sunset is one of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest scores, if not his best. You have so many wonderful moments in the show. Do you have a favorite tune?

When we did it in London, the English National Opera Orchestra was below me when I was on my perch waiting to go on. I would listen to the intricacies of the score and never, ever got tired of it. One of my favorite moments is the orchestration when Betty and Artie walk upstage, after the scene in Schwab’s Drug Store. It’s the “girl meets boy” theme and it’s gorgeous — so romantic.

The beauty of Lonny’s production is that the orchestra is center stage. Forty pieces! This is the largest orchestra on Broadway in more than 80 years!

The orchestra in London became such a seamless part of the show, and it is wonderful watching the musicians, who are used to being in a pit, emotionally engage with the show. Andrew’s score is deeply cinematic — it’s a great movie score — so the orchestra’s emotional engagement is incredibly important.

Andrew Lloyd Webber will have four shows on Broadway when you guys open Sunset Boulevard [including Phantom of the Opera, Cats and School of Rock]. In your mind, why is Andrew one of the most successful artists today when it comes to musical theater?

Because he knows what notes to put at what emotional moments. It’s a chemical thing, having something to do with the chemistry of the human brain – certain notes, in a certain order, always elicit an emotional response. Andrew’s scores do that and again and again. It’s incredibly satisfying for those who are watching. It’s cathartic.

Can you talk about Lonny’s concept for Sunset Boulevard? This production is a lot darker than the original.

Lonny’s concept is that all of this is conjured up in the mind of Joe Gillis — the murdered Joe Gillis. The stage is an empty series of platforms or scaffoldings on a big Hollywood soundstage. As Joe explians what happened — why this particular character ended up floating dead in a Hollywood pool — the story unfolds in front of your eyes. I think it’s mesmerizing. You don’t need a lot of “stuff” to tell this story, which is arguably the best example of Billy Wilder’s genius. It is timeless and will never lose its relevance.

Your principal castmates are all making their Broadway debuts with this revival — including Michael Xavier, who is playing your leading man, Joe Gillis. 

I’ve not seen all productions of Sunset but I think each of them [Michael and company] in their own way are giving definitive performances. We had such a strong and new chemistry that the show became a phenomenon in London, so the point was to share that with New York. Not to go back to the drawing board and construct new chemistry with new actors, but to start from where we left off in London and build on it in New York. For me, there was no point in doing it without them. I wanted to bring over to Broadway what was incredibly new and fresh in London.

This show has a fan following. In fact, the night I saw it in London, the London Gay Men’s Chorus serenaded you in “Norma turbans” when you walked out of the stage door. What’s the appeal of this piece?

Norma Desmond is one of the greatest characters that has ever been written for a woman. And the fact that she’s of a certain age makes it more powerful and poignant. I don’t think the story has lost any of its relevance — the isolation people are feeling as we are supposedly all connected by this new social media thing that has sprung up since the 1950s. It’s about dreams, it’s about isolation, it’s about love, it’s about belief — all things that are kind of at the core of the human spirit and I think it speaks to people in many different ways.

What’s the first memory that comes to mind when you think about your time in the original production?

Driving down Sunset Boulevard on my way to rehearsal, vocalizing in my car and trying to decide at each stoplight, Do I have the courage to keep vocalizing? Because people may look in and think I’m a crazy person. I learned how to sing thanks to Sunset. When I first started, I was the worst singer in the company. There were many moments when I would ask myself, Can I deliver? I was jumping off the cliff every performance and finding my wings.

What do you want to take away from this experience? Creating Norma 2.0?

I hope my show pumps life and love and excitement and empathy into everyone who sees it. We actually evolved to have empathy… which can be undermined by all the stress and information and the disturbing things that are going on in the world. And I think the pathos of a piece of art like this is to remind us of our common humanity. How important it is to notice those next to us, to walk in each others shoes, to have empathy for and understanding of the human condition. It’s about survival.

Sunset Boulevard starring Glenn Close begins previews at Broadway’s Palace Theatre on February 2. Opening night is set for February 9. 

NY1 relaunching ‘On Stage’

NY1 is revamping its theater program, “On Stage,” beginning with a two-part show filmed at Chez Josephine to air Saturday.

The relaunched series will be set at a different theater haunt each week, we hear.

Saturday’s show includes host Frank DiLella — with Roma Torre, Julie James and Patrick Pacheco — “running into” nine fixtures of the upcoming spring Broadway season, including Andy Karl of musical “Groundhog Day,” Laura Osnes of “Bandstand” and “Dear Evan Hansen” scribe Steven Levenson.

“It’s a huge production,” DiLella told us of the two-part show. “It’s a six-camera shoot with a live pianist the whole time, and all these stars.”