Art Works Blog

Crazy with Thanks

In preparation for the next issue of NEA Arts—our first-ever issue focusing on a single production by a single organization—we’ve asked everyone working on Signature Theatre’s production of The Gershwins®’ & Ken Ludwig’s Crazy for You® tons of questions: "How do you describe your job? What did you study to get your job? What’s your favorite part of working on a musical? Hey, what’s with the rubber ducks?" So we thought in anticipation of the issue's mid-December arrival, we’d ask them one more question: "Which artist(s) are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving?" Here’s what they had to say….

“I don’t know how to answer this question without sounding pretentious or trite, so I’ll go with both choices. Pina Bausch because I find endless inspiration in the work of this genius. Even for something as non sequitur as Crazy for You, I find myself looking to her for inspiration. And Beyoncé because she’s so much more than a pop star. I know Lemonade was released in 2016 but it is an unforgettable and important work of art.” — Matthew Gardiner, Associate Artistic Director

I am grateful for this quote by Leonard Bernstein: “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” — Jon Kalbfleisch, Music Director

For the last 50 years I've been most grateful for my high school band director, Warren S. Mercer, Jr. Simply, the best. — Harry Winter, actor, Crazy for You

Two artists who consistently inspire me by showing the good that can be done with visibility: renaissance man Lin-Manuel Miranda and music director/orchestrator extraordinaire Mary Mitchell Campbell. Lin funding scholarships for artists of color at the O’Neill and raising money for Puerto Rico and Mary Mitchell’s organization Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) that helps underserved youth around the world make me want to do better and remind me that we have a responsibility beyond what happens in our rehearsals rooms and on our stages. — Joe Calarco, Director of New Works and Resident Director

Rachel Bloom and the creative team behind Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for gleefully but good-naturedly picking apart every cliché in popular media, and helping spark what I hope is a healthy revival in on-screen musicals; as well as writer and comedian Lindy West, who is aggressively funny and completely fearless when it comes to fighting trolls and harassment online and in the public sphere. — Erin Shannahan, Box Office Manager

Bette Midler. Her Twitter account is to die for. I love her mind as much as I love her divinity on stage—her Dolly is heaven. All hail a luscious old school musical and a sharp, witty, courageous female. — Kelly d’Amboise, Resident Casting Director

I am grateful for W. Kamau Bell. As a socio-political comedian, his work is not only entertaining but informative and important. His podcast, Politically Reactive (with Hari Kondabolu), has profoundly changed the way I view my country and the world. — Jessica Aimone, graphic designer

Lizzo, the R&B singer and rapper whose anthem "Good as Hell" has gotten me through a lot of rough mornings, has been giving me life this year. Her EP Coconut Oil has six perfect jams that emphasize body positivity and self love—which feels radical coming from a plus-size black woman. She intentionally uses her public platform to inspire people to make positive change in the world, and she has a killer voice to back it up. She inspires me to be better every time I listen to her music. — Krystle Kline, Digital Media Manager

For me, the most inspiring performance I saw in DC this year was by Ed Gero in (the reprise of) The Originalist. The subject matter appealed to the lawyer in me, and the play provided both an appreciation of Justice Scalia’s judicial philosophy and an exploration of its limitations. All this delivered most forcefully and convincingly by Ed Gero. More generally, I am grateful for the courage of the performing artists who risked their careers and reputations by exposing the sexual abuse they experienced at the hands of the most powerful people in the entertainment industry. We can hope that this will result in a long overdue change in attitudes and behavior, healing for the victims and appropriate punishment for the abusers. — Bob Hebda, Box Office Associate

Seeing Paul Klee’s The Dancing Girl in the Art Institute of Chicago will always be one of the foremost aesthetic experiences in my life. I thought and felt that nothing could be more joyful, and I think of that work every time I need to remember to live life with abandon and positivity. I have been especially grateful for that needed reminder this year. — Jennifer Buzzell, Director of Marketing

Which artist or work of art are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving? Let us know on the NEA Facebook page


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