Stories & Cast Interviews
Meet Neil Berg!
We caught up with TIM & SCROOGE Composer, Neil Berg. We asked him about his collaboration with Nick Meglin and more. Read on for some insights into the persona of this MULTI-Talented man!
In the late 90’s, I was presenting my musical “Witches Tail” at the Irvington Town Hall Theater. Then theater manager, Pamela Rapp mentioned one of the editors at Mad Magazine, Nick Meglin had just written a musical and was looking for a composer. Shortly thereafter, I received a libretto for a new musical entitled “Tim”.
When I read the piece it was very long but had very talented ideas. The story of a young man who wants to forge my own life resonated with me. My parents wanted me to go to law school or go into real estate. My parents were beyond disappointed that I wanted to write musicals.
I recall that during the reading, there was one particular lyric that stood out. It was concise, beautiful, and smart and had a flair for moving the story forward. I wrote the melody instantaneously. It was presented and sung by my wife, Rita Harvey (Fiddler On The Roof, Phantom of the Opera). Nick immediately loved it. The song “Nothing More” is one of the pivotal songs in the musical and is sung by Tim’s fiancé, Allison.
In middle school, I performed in musicals such as “Oklahoma, “Half a Six Pence”, “Camelot” and was the comic lead in “Up The Down Staircase”. I had always had a passion for baseball. In high school, musicals conflicted with baseball and I was forced to choose. I chose baseball and went on to Binghamton University, known for its baseball program.
At Binghamton, I continued to play in piano bars, rock bands, and talent shows. In my junior year, I was asked to write a musical “Ghost Story” which was produced by the University. I was then sought out by the professional theatre in Binghamton, The Cider Mill Playhouse, to write musicals. Good bye baseball, good bye, law school, hello Broadway!
I was accepted into the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop and was trained to write musicals by Skip Kennon and the legendary composer, lyricist, educator and musicologist, Maury Yeston (Nine, Titanic, Phantom, etc.).
Nick and I also wrote the musical version of the hit movie “Grumpy Old Men” which premiered at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.
When not performing, I am an avid baseball fan, I love classic rock music, love food and enjoy being a father and a husband.
Meet The unscrupulous, Mr. Hastings, Daniel Marcus
Daniel Marcus (l) with Spencer Plachy(as Peter Cratchit) and Justin Scott Brown(as Tim).
I grew up in Menlo Park in California which is next to Palo Alto where Stanford University is. My upbringing? My dad was an attorney in San Francisco and being the youngest of 5 in the baby boom era, mom had her hands full with us. I have a sister who's married with grown children and has lived on Kibbutz Eilon up on the Lebanese border for 38 years. My oldest brother, Greil Marcus, is a very well known author, he's a hugely esteemed guy. One brother is no more but was my hero and cheering squad for my becoming an actor through high-school. He was in all the plays and musicals in high school and majored in theatre and then decided to become a lawyer. Bill Marcus. And the other brother Steve is retired and lives near Santa Rosa in California.
What Influenced me to pursue Acting? "Patience" by Gilbert and Sullivan. I was 7 when my parents took me to see an amateur production and that did it. I spent the next 7 years coming home after school and listening to one of the operas by them twice through. This loosened up when Bill (see mentor brother above) suggested we watch something called the Tonys (only the 2nd year of their national telecast). In the midst of the scenes from plays (they did real scenes then like 10 minutes long) "1776" did "Momma Look Sharp" (this is 1969) and the electricity of what was a clear reference to Vietnam when shows like the Smothers Brothers were being censored made me want to find out more about this Broadway thing.
I was (along with Kevin Ligon) in the 1997-8 Broadway revival and if you'd told the 13-year-old me that the next time congress convened on Broadway I'd be one of them I wouldn't have believed you.
Another coincidence ala "1776". Regarding Gilbert and Sullivan-fate put me in Joe Papp's "Pirates of Penzance" (where Kevin Kline became a star) when it moved to Broadway. My first NY job.
Directors who have made a difference in my life? That would be David Cromer, Charles Nelson Reilly, John Rando (I was the original Officer Barrel in "Urinetown") and Hal Prince. Other big directors have been Trevor Nunn, Des McAnuff, Joe Mantello. Lots of biggies.
Great Teachers: Larry Moss, Austin Pendleton, Richard Edelman. Did I mention Larry Moss?
I am the "Tim and Scrooge" dinosaur. Nick Corley and I had done many shows together as actors; ALWAYS teamed as a pair and he called and asked me to do this when it part of a NY festival but I was unable. However, the next time around for a reading, I was and I've been Hastings for the last 9 years of the life of this show. From the only other full production in Queens in 2006, through readings, demos and even concerts. George Lee Andrews joined the "Tim and Scrooge" rep company a few years later than I and we are the actors who've been involved the longest. However, I have him beat a mile.
"Company" is my favorite show with number two (which varies) always a distant second. I don't mean the 'revisals' of the show-I mean the original; Hal Prince's production which I saw 5 times.
My Dream role: in a musical: Tony in "Most Happy Fella". In Gilbert and Sullivan: Jack Point in "Yeoman of the Guard". In a play? I'm not sure I'll say but it's one of the great roles in American theatre and in 2 years I'll be the same age as the character. Terrifying.
When not on stage, I enjoy reading. Playing with my kitties. Enduring the abuse of my 16-year-old son (part of the job). Playing the piano most of all, I'm kind of a whizbang, somewhat concert level guy, who started studying at 5 and I've never stopped playing. My favorite composer? Here's a hint: Gershwin is my son's middle name.
What's on my Ipod? "HAMILTON". What else?
Meet Jacob Marley, Kevin Ligon
Kevin Ligon (r) as Marley with George Lee Andrews as Scrooge.
I grew up in Dallas, TX. I performed in school plays and musicals, and sang at church from a very early age. I always wanted to perform. Movies inspired me because we didn't have that many opportunities to go to the theatre. I would lip-synch records of old musicals for my family. Always performing.
I have not done this show before. The first I heard of it was when Nick Corley, our director called and asked me if I would do it. The minute he said I would performing alongside George Lee Andrews I said yes. George is a friend and a hero.
Playing Nicely-Nicely in the national tour of Guys And Dolls was a dream come true. Also, working with Mel Brooks and Susan Stroman on The Producers and Young Frankenstein was a wonderful time in my life. I'm about to play Adolfo Pirelli in Sweeney Todd for the third time and I love that role. But my greatest experience in the theatre has to be the Broadway revival of 1776.
When I'm not doing a show I am an avid movie fan. You can find me at the Film Forum once or twice a week.
I'm usually doing a show during the holidays, so I always have to get together with family later. Some of my most favorite Christmas memories have been on the road where the cast has to improvise and come up with some sort of celebration.
On my Ipod? Ella, Barbra, Tony, Aretha, Stevie, Sweet Baby James and tons of Broadway.
Meet Mr Scrooge.. George Lee Andrews
I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I have Two older brothers. I went through 12 years of Catholic Schools. High School - chorus, plays and musicals. all normal and fun. I had a great time doing theatre in high school!
When I left high school a cousin hooked me up with Milwaukee’s only little professional theatre for a job in the chorus of “Song Of Norway". The rest is 55 years of my history. Once I was doing it, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else and I was blessed not to have to do anything else.
Directors who kept me working through all those years were my mentors . Especially Harold Prince in the New York years. And the various amazing talented actors and theatre artists whom I worked with over the years - all my mentors.
I was contacted by Neil Berg about doing TIM & SCROOGE as a reading/workshop a few years ago. So I did that reading of it and three others. Enjoying it immensely each time.
I have loved almost every show I’ve done over these years since 1960, and before. I would have to name “Phantom Of The Opera” and “A Little Night Music” because they were so important in my career. But I have loved all the shows in my resume’. That’s what makes it worthwhile, and keeps the work fresh.
My dream role? Scrooge in “Tim and Scrooge” (since I’m dreaming about it now!)
When not on stage, I enjoy listening to music. Reading. Being with my wife, my children and my grandchildren. Hanging out at our lake house loving nature, but also taking advantage of all New York City has to offer!
I like celebrating the Holidays with my family, in any way we can manage to be together. Exchanging gifts and having fun... all the usual holiday traditions.
My iPod has 17,500 songs of the 36,000 songs in my iTunes. I love so many different kinds of music. Right now I’m listening to film music of Ennio Morricone.