“A Father/Daughter Broadway Adventure”

Melissa Tennille Boettner

NYC Trip-My Students on Broadway-Boettner Vocal StudiosWhen Andy discovered that two of his students were going to be starring on Broadway in February, I (being the wonderful wife and mother that I am) insisted that he take our 13-year-old-daughter Cathryn (an aspiring Broadway star herself) to New York to see their shows and celebrate Valentine’s Day together in that exciting city. I am happy to say they had a fabulous time together and regaled me with many wonderful tales when they returned from their whirlwind weekend in the Big Apple. It was such a great adventure that I thought that I would BLOG about it so that people can get to know a little more about some of the fabulous people Andy has had the privilege to work with.

My Students on Broadway

Nicole Parker as Elphaba in Wicked

Nicole Parker in her role as Elphaba in “Wicked”

Nicole Parker, the multi-talented comedic actress and singer from MADtv fame, has been a student of Andy’s since she was at University High School in Irvine. Nicole is an amazingly focused and hard-working person, who is always striving to improve her craft, which is one of the big reasons she is so successful in whatever she tries to do. It is this disciplined work ethic that is a common thread in all seasoned professionals.

Sometime in Mid-August of 2008, Nicole stopped in to see Andy to help her work on the role of Elphaba as she had just landed an audition with the San Francisco production of “Wicked”. I happened to walk into Boettner Vocal Studios right at the time Nicole was singing Elphaba’s signature song, “Defying Gravity” in Andy’s studio and was blown away by what I was hearing. Andy loves playing and teaching that exciting role, so he was playing the piano with as much joy as Nicole was singing it! It is always a joy to hear the pros work because they only have to be told once what to do to improve something and then they JUST DO IT! When Nicole and Andy had finished with her coaching session and walked downstairs, I had to give her a hug and tell her that there was no doubt in my mind that she would nail her audition. Nicole was charmingly self-effacing, but I could tell that she knew she had a big chance to win the role. Her audition was set for a few days later and she called us afterwards to say that they had listened and had sent her off with that famous phrase, “Thanks, we’ll get back to you”.

Two months passed before Nicole heard anything about her audition, but she had been busy wrapping up filming her part in the new Adam Sandler movie, “Funny People” and so was able to put the “Wicked” in the back of her mind and not worry about it too much. Then the call finally came to say that they did indeed her as Elphaba, only not for the San Francisco show, but for the Broadway cast!  Nicole’s proud mom, Dr. Dee Parker, a dear friend and colleague of Andy’s, called to give us the news and the dates Nicole would be performing if we wished to fly back to see one of her performances.

Actor - Graham Phillips - Evan in 13 on Broadway

Actor, Graham Phillips

One of Andy’s former students, Graham Phillips, was already starring in Broadway show entitled, “13”. Graham studied with Andy from ages 5-11 years old and is a very talented singer and performer, so Andy really wanted to see this show, too. Unfortunately, it would be closing before Nicole’s show was up. We talked a little more about making the trek but didn’t seriously begin to make any plans.

All that changed when we got a call from Lee Ferrell, movie star Will Farrell’s charming father, about booking a lesson for Will to help him prepare for his upcoming role of George W. Bush in his Broadway show, “You’re Welcome America”.

Will Ferrell-Youre-Welcome-America-Broadway-Show-Boettner Vocal Studios Student

Will Ferrell as George W. Bush in “You’re Welcome America” – Broadway Show

The show was to have a short run from early February to mid-March and Will was hoping to get some ideas to help him maintain his voice during the grueling performance schedule that is part of all Broadway performers’ experience. Andy had taught Will’s sister, Rachel, while she was a student at Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana. Even though it was a non-singing role, Andy thought that he could help Will, so Lee booked a lesson for the next day.

When Will and his dad arrived, he and Andy got to work right away on accessing what Will would be required to do vocally for this show. He asked Will to speak in the voice that he would be using to mimic the former President and noticed right away that the pitch Will was using was going to get him into trouble as it was too low and would tire out his voice very quickly.

Andy’s studio is state of the art and he has many different tools at his disposal to utilize during the lesson, so he told Will that he would access YouTube and get a clip of Bush to listen to his voice and compare it to what Will was doing. They sat together and accessed a few clips of his speeches and immediately Will could hear the difference between the pitch that he was using with the pitch of the president’s voice. Andy showed Will that he was speaking at the interval of a sixth too low and how that would cause his voice to tire much more quickly. The lesson was a success and Will was an absolutely attentive and thoughtful student. That’s what I’m saying about true professionals. They listen and then do what you tell them to do without question.

At the lesson Andy asked Will if he thought it was a good lesson, he gave Andy a big smile, shook his hand, and said, “No, that was a great lesson!” –Will Ferrell

Music to Maestro Andy’s ears!

So now, there were going to be two students that Andy could go and see and who both had invited Andy to come backstage after the show and visit. When we discovered that, our dear friend John Bucchino, (the incredible pianist, songwriter, and Broadway composer) was going to be in town during that time – it was time to book the trip. I worked out an itinerary and things were all set for their whirlwind trip to NYC. John had recently received wonderful reviews for his score to the Broadway show, “A Catered Affair”, whose cast also included one of our friends, Heather MaCray. Interestingly, it was John’s encouragement to his fellow friend and composer Stephan Schwartz to start the whole “Wicked” phenomena.

Andy and Cathryn Boettner at Gershwin Theatre to see Wicked

Andy and Cathryn Boettner at Gershwin Theatre to see “Wicked”

They arrived safely in New York, and after a lovely Valentine’s dinner at the West Bank Café on West 42nd, they were off to the Gershwin Theater on West 51st St. to see, “Wicked”.  Andy and Cathryn were captivated by the entire spectacular show, but Andy said afterwards that it was Nicole’s performance that was truly a showstopper. They were escorted backstage afterwards and got to give their congratulations to a tired, de-greened, but glowing Nicole!

Nicole Parker and Cathryn backstage at the Gershwin Theater

Nicole Parker and Cathryn backstage at the Gershwin Theater

Read a great interview with Nicole about what it’s like to have a major role on Broadway at Broadway.com. Type in “Nicole Parker” and enjoy reading this fun and many other very informative articles. Nicole ends her run as Elphaba on July 19th and will be replaced by Dee Roscioli.

Andy and Cathryn Boettner, and John Bucchino enjoying brunch at Marseille Restaurant

Andy, Cathryn, and John Bucchino enjoying brunch at Marseille Restaurant

On Sunday, after a fabulous brunch with John Bucchino at Marseille Restaurant on 9th Avenue, it was time to see Will Ferrell’s, “You’re Welcome America” at the Cort Theater located on 48th St. in New York City. Lee Ferrell had given Andy the fairly complicated instructions as to how to get backstage (secret password, photo ID’s etc.), so he and Cathryn were set to go backstage. The show was just a rocking roller-coaster ride of ribald humor and sight gags (you HAD to be there!) and a good time was had by all.

Will Ferrell, Cathryn Boettner backstage at the Cort Theater after Will’s performance of You’re Welcome America

Will Ferrell, Cathryn Boettner backstage at the Cort Theater after Will’s performance of You’re Welcome America

At one point in the show, Will (as President Bush) asked a question of the audience about what it is they wanted to study in school. As fate would have it, he called on our daughter and then proceeded to insult her about her choice (all in good fun, of course)! Backstage after the show, Will was incredibly warm and friendly commenting to Andy how much their lesson together had helped his voice stay strong during the run. Andy then introduced him to Cathryn and said with a grin, “And this is my daughter Cathryn. She’s the one you called on and insulted during the show.” Andy said that Will was actually embarrassed that it had been her who he had insulted! “Oh, I’m so sorry!” he said. “The lights are so bright that I can’t see a thing!” It was really a moment to remember!

The intrepid travelers returned to their hotel and spent the rest of their time resting and relaxing before the early morning flight the next day. It had indeed been a marvelous trip – and one Valentine’s Day this father and daughter would remember for a long time!

“The person you are is a thousand times more interesting than the best actor you hope to be.”
–Konstantin Stanislavsky

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