The Naked American Songbook
From WNYC Studios, the folks who bring you RadioLab, Two Dope Queens and Meet the Composer, comes The Naked American Songbook, the show that dares to ask: What Makes the Great American Songbook so damn great? Host Julian Fleisher deftly and hilariously helps his guests unburden themselves of all sorts of layers of musical clothing. Seasons 1 and 2 featured such guests as Chris Noth, Martha Plimpton, Mo Rocca. Rachel Dratch, Isaac Mizrahi, Edie Falco, Molly Ringwald, Tonya Pinkins, Ana Gasteyer, Lea DeLaria, Alan Cumming, Zachary Quinto, Ari Shapiro, Darren Criss, Sheldon Harnick, Stephen Merritt, Rachel Bloom and Ira Glass.
44 Charlton: A Variety Show at The Greene Space
A love letter to the city it adores, 44 Charlton is a live, monthly talent and variety show by, for and about New York City. The first Friday of every month is date and the address is, well, 44 Charlton Street -- otherwise known as The Greene Space, WNYC and WQXR's fabulous, street-level performance studio. Each month, musicians, singers, dancers, comics, magicians, performers, chefs and folks we cant quite qualify gather together to put on a show. Host Julian Fleisher is your docent through this cavalcade of Only-In-New Yorkers who remind us, on the regular, why NYC is still the wildest, wooliest, weirdest and most wonderful place to catch a shooting star.
Ana Gasteyer: I'm Hip
After a year music directing Ana's cabaret show "Elegant Songs from a Handsome Woman", Julian got behind the console of one NY's finest recording establishments and produced "I'm Hip" the swingingest, sassiest, most moxie-filled debut recording from one of Entertainment's most entertaining entertainers: Ana Gasteyer!
Check out the official video for the album's opening number, One Mint Julep, an then head to your favorite music service to hear the whole remarkable package.
The Drag Queens of New York: An Illustrated Field Guide
“Read it! Memorize It! Lip-Sync it!” — The Village Voice.
“Simply put, The best book of it’s kind.”— CNN.
"You go, Girl!”—Vanity Fair.
"Fleisher has expertly combined the descriptive rigor of an ethnographer, the wry enthusiasm of a seasoned tour guide and the empathetic heart of an old friend to paint a deeply revealing portrait of not only an extraordinary demi-monde, but also of its bizarre relationship to the world at large. He also wisely leaves plenty of room for the queens to relate their own experiences and ideas, while gently guiding both them and the reader to look beyond the hoary canards that characterize almost all discussions by and about drag. The portraits are lovely, the format clever and the final result is illuminating, hilarious and very humane. Read it." – Amazon
In 2012, Julian was invited to play the lead role of George Davis in the new musical February House, the first commission in 20 years from New York’s legendary Public Theater. Composed by Gabriel Kahane, written by Seth Bockley and directed by Davis McCallum, February House was adapted for the stage from the book of the same name by Sherril Tippens and tells the remarkable, true story of a ramshackle Brooklyn Heights brownstone that housed such cultural luminaries at W.H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, Carson McCullers and Gypsy Rose Lee in the late 1930′s and early 1940′s. This remarkable rotating roster of literary and musical legends was curated and cultivated by the strangely forgotten George Davis, writer, editor and talent whisperer, for whom the house was a kind of professional last stand.
“With his gliding falsetto and runaway panache, Mr. Fleisher makes George Davis the inarguable, indelible hero of the household.” wrote the New York Times in their review of the World Premier which began it’s life at The Long Wharf theater in New Haven.
The Hartford Currant raved “Not since “Sunday in the Park with George” does a musical so dazzlingly explore the role of art, artists and the “real” world in which they live with such creativity, intelligence and heart. Julian Fleisher anchors the evening with his special brand of charisma,”
New Haven Theater Blog wrote ” …applaud the casting of Julian Fleisher as George—he has the bonhomie, the knowing looks, the den-mother coddling, the grade-school teacher cheer, the man-of-the-world theatricality, the self-deprecating humor of a man with a great idea and the personality to pull it off. He’s so vividly rendered you believe he might walk off the stage and, if you’re lucky, invite you to a Forties soiree—and you would go with him most anywhere. Fleisher’s singing voice is less than overpowering, but his songs in the show are the kind that make you lean forward and listen. He’s a major strength of this production. You would be glad of the chance to spend time with him even if his housemates weren’t famous writers.”
The original cast recording of February House, produced by the composer, is available here:
Julian Fleisher & Martha Plimpton
Ok, so it didn’t last forever. But during their brief run on the boards Julian Fleisher and Martha Plimpton had ‘em lining up for more. After a couple of one-offs in the trenched of NYC, this daring duo headed to LA, scene of many of Martha’s greatest triumphs. A one month run at Tim Robbins’ Actors Gang theater, quickly became the hottest ticket in town, grabbing rave reviews and selling out every seat in the house.
“Intoxicating…Fleisher and Plimpton make an irresistible team, with unerring chemistry, obvious regard and fabulous voices, her delicate belt a perfect fit with his soaring instrument…a triumph of intimate spontaneity.”
— The LA Times
“For once,the publicity is accurate…they play off each other with reckless, almost magical precision” — LA Weekly
“Delightfully bizarre…two spectacularly large and soulful voices” — Backstage West
“The most unique and polished duo in town…fun in this upbeat, slyly wacky way” — CurtainUp.com
“This seemingly unlikely pairing of the nightclub entertainer and the award-winning actress…could end up with the dynamic duo becoming the next Steve and Eydie” — Theatermania.com
“It’s terrific…There’s enough energy and adoration between the two to light up the Hollywood skies. They captivate the audience.” -- Hollywood Reporter
“Priceless.” — Variety
Elevator Repair Service: The Select
After the success of February House, the new musical in which he starred at The Long Wharf Theater in New Haven and the Public Theater in New York, Julian was asked to join the legendary Elevator Repair Service — one of New York’s most innovative and storied independent theater companies. Under the direction of fellow Yalie John Collins, Julian joined the cast of The Select, the company’s sprawling adaptation of Ernest Hemmingway’s literary classic The Sun Also Rises.
Having met the company when they shared dressing rooms at The Public Theater, Julian joined the cast first at the Dublin Theater Festival in Ireland and then toured the show to Portugal, Australia and then for an extended run at Princeton University’s McCarter Theater.
The Music of "Almost, Maine"
Playwright John Cariani’s Almost, Maine is an indelible portrait of one cold night under the vivid skies of rural Maine. Detailed, magical, poignant and hilarious, this baker’s dozen of interlocking 2-person vignettes is now the most frequently produced play in America, beating out A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the first time ever! Read the fascinating piece about this play’s unprecedented success in the NY Times.
Cariani (himself a performer whose portrayal of Motel the Taylor in the Broadway revival of A Fiddler on the Roof won him a TONY Award nomination) asked Julian to score the show…a job which yielded over 30 minutes of music that itself was published along with the play.
Kiki & Herb: Recordings
Legendary downtown performers Kiki & Herb, whose manic evenings of song styling-cum-gestalt therapy have attracted an enormous and rabid following, have gone from the bars of the village all the way to Carnegie Hall and now Broadway. Their shattering and ingenious interpretations of pop songs both old and new have been written about in countless articles, reviews and even a dissertation or two. Along the way, Justin Bond and Kenny Mellman (as they are often and otherwise referred to) recorded two full-length CDs – both of which are produced by Julian.
The first, the essential Christmas album Kiki & Herb: Do You Hear What We Hear, is a pristine and twisted account of many holiday favorites (and more than a few shocking surprises) and features special appearances by some of the duo’s favorite friends including Debbie Harry, Alex Gifford, Molly Ringwald, Lilly of the Valley, Isaac Mizrahi, the Eerie Institutional Gospel Choir.
The second, Kiki & Herb Will Die for You at Carnegie Hall, is a 2-CD record of their storied concert at the world’s most prestigious concert venue and is a much a testament to the passion of their fans as it is to their own monumental talent.
Information about both CDs can be found at the Kiki & Herb website.
Coraline, A New Musical
With songs by Magnetic Fields super-genius Stephin Merritt, adapted for the stage from Neil Gaiman’s instant classic by downtown luminary David Greenspan, directed by wunderkind Leigh Silverman and starring theater royalty Jayne Houdyshell, MCC Theater’s production of the new musical Coraline at the Lucille Lortelle Theater was the summer’s hot ticket. In a coup of counter-intuitive casting, the pivotal role of the Cat went to Julian Fleisher, about whom the critics had to say this:
“But for me the most completely drawn character is a cat. Portrayed by Mr. Fleisher, who isn’t remotely feline-looking, this yawning, stretching Cat (who plays an important role in Coraline’s deliverance) has all the compelling self-containment and capriciousness of his species.” — Ben Brantley, New York Times
“Julian Fleisher is a knockout as the slyer-than-sly cat who befriends Coraline. Mr. Fleisher, a theatrical novice, is a not-quite-lounge singer whose smoothly ironic cabaret act is familiar to habitués of the nightclubs of downtown Manhattan. I didn’t know he could act, but he does a first-class job in “Coraline,” and I expect we’ll be seeing more of him on stage.” — Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal
“When Coraline returns home to find her real mother and father missing, she enlists the help of an inscrutable black cat — a sublimely disdainful Julian Fleisher.” — David Rooney, Variety
“Still, some of the songs do stand out, such as the Cat’s solo number — terrifically delivered by Fleisher” — Frank Sheck, Hollywood Reporter
“Absolutely the best cat I have ever seen onstage” — Michael Feingold, The Village Voice
Music from "The Performers"
The Performers, starring Henry “The Fonz” Winkler, Alicia Silverstone, Cheyenne Jackson, Ari Graynor, Daniel Breaker and Jenni Barber was playwright David West Read’s Broadway debut. A hilarious, charming and surprisingly sweet look at the world of adult movies, it was directed by Evan Cabnet and featured music by Julian Fleisher. Eschewing the predictable “bow-chicka-bow-bow” so closely associated with the world of porn, Julian’s music was a jazzy, Vegas-tinged tribute both to the boulevard sex farces of yesteryear and the setting for the play’s hijinks, two adjoining rooms in a Las Vegas hotel room.
Sadly, The Performers ran headlong into a force of nature even greater than a bad review in the New York Times: Super-Storm Sandy. The fledgling show couldn’t withstand the battering that nature dealt during the week of it’s opening and it closed soon thereafter, much to the chagrin of the many folks who caught it in previews and told their friends to run, not walk, to the beautiful Longacre Theater to catch it. Happily, though, the music lives on and you can hear it here,