Co-hosted and Co-Produced by Scott Nevins and Ryan O’Connor, When it comes to keeping things humming every week, together, this duo compliment each other’s very contrasting personalities and hosting style, becoming “Musical Monday’s” own answer to Abbott and Costello! A self-confessed avid lover of the musical genre, O’Connor acknowledges “Musical Theatre is the closest thing to church I’ve ever had in my life. I am never happier, more at peace, or more content than I am when in the theatre.” Not surprisingly too, this sentiment extends into working on stage as well. “Nothing beats performing live on stage. It’s my hands down favorite. But Scott and I have a really effective yin and yang dynamic that makes MC-ing really exciting on Mondays.” Little wonder he names “Cabaret’ as the one number that best describes his out look on life.
Nevins too, bears a deep love for the theater and those who pursue a career in it. In addition to touring with his one-man show, he continues to make regular appearances throughout LA. at the likes of Hollywood’s Magic Castle and Show-At-Barre Cabaret (at Silver-lake’s Vermont Restaurant.) Then again, Scott maintains his love for all things theatrical goes all the way back to when he was a small boy growing up in Flushing New York and his aunt took him to his very first Broadway show. “I was 4 years old and we went into the city on a cold winters day, and scored 4th row seats to see “42nd Street.” He details. “I still remember that moment when the curtain rose to reveal what I thought were 10,000 tap dancing feet. I swear it was the moment I got bit by the bug for real–I can still remember that feeling!” Wonderfully, that same child-like excitement–the type that only someone who has waited nervously in the wings to make their big entrance knows–remains with him to this day. Maybe that’s why he counts the philosophy expressed in the lyrics of “Some People” from the Blockbuster “Gypsy’ as most near to his own “I’ve always been insanely driven when it comes to my career and could never understand how people can just sit at home and let life pass them by without getting out there and making their mark!”
That’s where O’Connor first saw the show, and was immediately inspired to introduce something like it to LA crowds too. “When I got back, I made contact with Rich Grossi, the owner of Eleven who loved the idea,” he declares. As excellent timing would have it, Nevins himself was preparing to make his own move the Los Angeles to be on the hit show “Smoking Gun Presents” on Tru TV. “Ryan approached me about creating a west coast incarnation” he explains; “Eleven already had VJ Keith Jacobson–who is still our VJ–spinning theater videos on Mondays, and so we joined the night and turned it into a full experience with the live shows by Broadway guest stars.”
This new version–specifically designed for “The City Of Angels” –officially bowed on April 27th, 2009. “Our first live guest, was Shoshanna Bean,” O’Connor enthuses referring the dynamic star of such hits as “Wicked“ and “Hairspray“. Since then, attendees have enjoyed numerous show-stopping talents, from touring productions like “Legally Blonde” and “Young Frankenstein”; “If it was up to me, everyone would be singing stuff from the ‘Golden Age’ of Broadway,” Nevins laughs. “The more important thing though, is to know what your audience wants, and a lot of them love these new musicals, I think because a lot of our younger members may know them better and feel like they’re a part of them. Still, for me, if someone gets up there and sings ‘If he walked into my life‘, or ‘His is the music that makes me dance‘, then I’m a happy!” “There have been a couple of moments that really blew me out of the water,” agrees his fellow impresario, recalling the time when Eden Espinosa, the star of ’Wicked’ sang there. “That was such a thrilling energy–it was the first time we hit capacity in the bar!”
As for the challenges the pair face when it comes to booking each week, “There’s a certain ‘trust in miracles’ attitude that you have to have“ admits Ryan. “There’s been times where talent has cancelled on us or we just haven’t been able to book anyone until the last minute.” Yet in keeping with that grand tradition that states “The Show Must Go On”, he stresses that the local theater community has never let them down! Indeed, Monday has proven to be especially advantageous timing-wise, considering the evening is customarily one where the theater is “dark”. This allows visiting guest artists to appear without any worry of a conflict. Likewise, it often enables them to showcase their versatility by doing numbers they might not otherwise have the chance to do. In this way, dancers can be singers, “kids in the ensemble” can be stars, and ballad singers can let loose with something that really rocks! Better yet, it provides an incredible opportunity to promote their latest project (–often the show they’re appearing in–) to those most eager to see it.
While outstanding acts are simply par for the course, so are the occasionally side-splitting situations that are bound to occur given so much audience participation. “We’ve also had some incredible “you had to be there” moments with our ticket giveaway contests,” smiles O’Connor, regarding the way many weeks feature some kind of special give-away. On one recent night, tickets to “Rent” at the Hollywood Bowl were awarded; however, in order to win them, hopefuls were required to croon a verse of their favourite song from the show. Comic Bruce Vilanch–a stage veteran in his own right, was even called upon to be a tie-breaking guest judge.