By Byrne Harrison
Name: Melanie Gall
Show: My Pal, Izzy – The Early Life and Music of Irving Berlin
How did you first get involved in theatre?
I have always performed. I started with a local Children’s Theatre troupe in Canada, and the St. Albert Kiwanis Festival, where I won first prize for school vocal solo for six years running.
Who are your biggest influences?
This is not exactly theatre-related, but one of my biggest influences is Israeli paratrooper Hannah Senesh. She was continually willing to risk everything in her life to do what she considered the right thing, and I only wish I could be as idealistic.
Tell me a little bit about your show.
My show is about the early life and music of Irving Berlin. Berlin’s story is told through his fictional childhood friend, vaudeville performer Rebecca Rosenstein. Using Berlin’s music, Rebecca tells about what it was like to grow up in New York in the early 1900s. She talks about Tin Pan Alley, and how even a poor, unknown boy could achieve astronomical success. The story is compelling, and a lot of the lyrics are hilarious. From the sage advice in ‘Don’t Take Your Beau to the Seashore’ to the admonition ‘If You Don’t Like My Peaches, You’d Better Stop Shaking My Tree,’ these songs are still very relevant today.
What inspired you to write it?
Last spring, I was hunting through the performing arts library, looking for some Bizet songs for a concert I was doing. Suddenly, I came upon three huge volumes containing the early songs of Irving Berlin. There are hundreds of songs, and they are just hilarious. After playing through a bunch of them, I started reading about Berlin, and decided that this often-overlooked early music and his story was just too good not to be told.
Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?
My pianist is very talented, and my director/set designer, Karen Gall, is amazing. Karen has worked with me on several shows, including Europe, A Savvy Girl’s Guide: The Musical, which will be playing at the Saskatoon Fringe this year.
What's next for you after FRIGID?
Next I am jetting off to The Czech Republic, to sing in the American Spring Festival in Prague. Then I’m touring within that country and possibly Hungary, then flying to Bogota, Colombia for more singing. After that, I take Izzy on the road, starting with the Orlando Fringe. 7 Fringes in 4 months will be a little crazy, but hopefully there will be time to change clothes or for a shower or two in between the performances.
And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?
Come to my show, and bring the family! The songs will make you laugh (and maybe even cry), and the story will teach you something about the history of music in our great city.
My Pal Izzy: The Early Life and Music of Irving Berlin
Written by Melanie Gall & Directed by Karen Gall
Presented by Sisterscene Productions Brooklyn, NY
The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street)
Thu 2/24 @ 6pm, Fri 2/25 @ 7pm, Sun 2/27 @ 2:30pm, Wed 3/2 @ 9pm, Thu 3/3 @ 7:30pm, & Sat 3/5 @ 4pm