In December 2016, I was lucky enough to attend Orfeh & Andy Karl's concert Legally Bound at Feinstein's/54 Below. Then it was announced that these concerts were going to be made into a live album by Broadway Records. I was beyond excited. The end result is an album that really captures the essence of the evening, from their powerhouse vocals to the fun and excitement of seeing them live.
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" to describe just how thrilling it was to speak with Orfeh about the making of Legally Bound: Orfeh & Andy Karl Live at Feinstein's/54 Below. She really gave me a piece of her heart, opening up to me about her life with Andy! This is one "History" lesson you don't want to miss!
1. You and Andy just released your live recording of Legally Bound: Live at Feinstein's/54 Below. What made you want to make this concert into a live album? We've been planning on doing a recording together for some time now as it's the one thing we have not done previously. At the time of the concerts, Andy was about to go into Groundhog Day & I was very busy with a few projects and we just felt this would be the perfect time to make this recording. These concerts get booked so far in advance and you just never know when the next opportunity for our schedules to align would come up, so we took advantage of this moment together. Plus, we were very proud of the performances and material.
2. What is the recording process like for a live album as opposed to a regular album? The process is really difficult, but we had a great team working with us. I produced the album with Broadway Records President Van Dean along with Steven Jamail and Michael Moritz & Robbie Rozelle. Steven & I come from the world of pop music while Robbie, Michael, & Van Dean are more musical theatre, so it was great to have all our expertises joined together.
The challenge of making a live CD is getting the right balance of capturing the live experience and not making it sound like mush. You want to be able to hear the harmonies, background vocalists, the bass at a certain time, etc. It's not easy to get it perfect, but we had so many great people helping, which made the process a lot easier.
Me: Well, the album does sound good. I've been listening to it since it's release and you did a great job with the mixing of it all. You hear a little bit of the plates clinging together, but it's so subtle, that you hardly notice it and it allows you to hear your vocals really well.
Orfeh: One thing we really strived for with this recording is to give it a feel, that if you weren't able to be in the audience for any of our shows, you can still capture the live experience of the nights.
Me: I definitely feel you did that. I was lucky enough to come see Legally Bound, but after listening to this album, you definitely capture the fun of the evening and how great & powerful it was to hear you and Andy sing. I love both of you individually, but hearing you two sing together with your powerhouse vocals was insane!
3. Were both of you equally invovled in organizing the concert or did one of you take the lead in putting it together? It was definitely 50/50. You've got to make it comofortable for both of you. You know, Andy & I sing in such different stratospheres and keys so, when we were doing the opening Motown Medley, we had to choose songs that would work for both of our voices because our vocals then have to blend on the harmonies as well. Those songs are so harmony heavy that it’s very important to pick songs that make sense vocally.
4. One of my favorite songs that you did was Whitney Houston’s "I’m Your Baby Tonight." I liked how you said, at the show, that this is a song everybody knows, but it’s not a song done very often. You did it so well. Out of all the songs in Whitney’s music catalog, what was it about that song that made you go, this is the song I want to sing? ? It’s my favorite Whitney song. It’s such a catchy, first-listen hit, that no matter what the audience is like (whether they be rock-heavy or Broadway-heavy), it’s going to be a major crowd pleaser, if you do justice to it.
Whitney made her songs seem so effortless to sing, but they are actually very complicated to do. There was no voice like Whitney before her and there will never be a voice like hers again. I got to meet Whitney a few times and she was so nice to me and the people around me. I love her so much & miss her terribly.
I never wanted to do a concert and say, "Well, I’m going to sing Whitney now because she’s gone." It's like with Prince, I’ve been singing "Kiss" for years and I decided to add Whitney in because I am finally at a place vocally, where I feel I can do the song correctly and not have a melt down in the middle of it.
5. What was your favorite duet to perform with Andy? We really enjoyed performing "Make Like A Nail"/"If Can Dream" (from The Great American Trailer Park Musical & the Elvis Presley song). Somehow you would never think these songs would make any sense together and somehow they do. We’ve done it in the past and I just think it works really well and I think the audience enjoys it, so again, you are hitting on all cylinders.
I also think, oddly, which no one expected us to do, is "History" by One Direction. I feel like this is the best track on the album. It’s such a great song, such a catchy melody, but you’d never think the two of us would do it. We loved singing it. The back-up singers enjoyed singing it. The band loved playing it. It’s one of those songs that will definitely be a keeper in the set.
I come from the pop world, I had a pop hit years ago, but randomly, here we are doing a Broadway-esq cabaret show with pop songs including a One Direction song, which we made a video of for Broadway.com, and I often hear from fans or read on Twitter people saying they like this version better than the One Direction version. Some say it’s their favorite track on the CD. Here, we get to introduce this song to an audience that may not be One Direction fans and they instantly like it. I think that is the point of music. Good music is good music and that’s universal.
6. Was there anything, now that the album is out and you’ve had time to look back on the concert, you wish you did a little bit differently? I don’t think I would do anything differently. I’m very happy with how everything turned out and the choices we made.
7. Since the show was called Legally Bound and that is the name of the album, what is your secret to a successful marriage with Andy? I guess, according to the entertainment world, we’ve been married for like 110 years [laughs]. A long time ago, a girl I knew had a very successful/happy marriage and I said to her, "What’s the secret to your marriage?" and she said, "I married my best friend." Recently, I was having this same conversation with someone and they asked me the same question and I said, "Andy is my best friend. The best person I know on the planet." I know it sounds cliché, but that is a very major ingredient. Prior to Andy, I had some ridiculous boyfriends, so I sort of came to the party with the knowledge of what I didn’t want in a relationship. That made things easier because I was able to go, "This I don’t want, this I don’t want, and this I don’t want," and then you meet someone who’s not suffering from those issues, who happens to be the most wonderful person out there. And Andy’s a really good person. We kind of matched instantly and while we are very different people, our core values are very similar, so it just really worked out.
Because of our schedules there’s a lot of time apart, which in it’s own bizarre way helps because it gives us our individual space and time. But what it really comes down to is that I like the person I love. When you like the person you love, it’s very, very, different and I like Andy more than anyone on this planet.
8. Just to go back in time a little bit. You and Andy met during the Broadway run of Saturday Night Fever. How long after you met, did you feel like he’s the one? We got married six months later [laughs]. It was truly love at first sight. It was one of those moments that you only think are complete nonsense when you hear about them happening to other people or you see them in movies or on TV. It’s a fantasy, but then it happened to both of us and we still look at each other and say, "Did that really happen to us?" [laughs]
Andy came into Saturday Night Fever in July and we got married in January. There are some people to this day who don’t know we’re married, but certainly, the cast/crew of Saturday Night Fever had no idea. It was just one of those moments. It's like trying to explain catching lightening in a bottle. It really was love at first sight. Nobody thought it would last, but, you know, they were wrong. And he’ll be the one forever and ever!
9. What’s next for you and Andy together, career wise? We’d love to do some film/TV together. I don’t have concrete dates yet, but I definitely think there will be more concerts in the not so distant future. The goal would be to wind up in some project together.
Broadway: "Paulette" in Legally Blonde: The Musical (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award nominations, Broadway.com Audience Award), Saturday Night Fever, Fascinating Rhythm, Footloose. Off Broadway: Love, Loss, and What I Wore, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Love, Janis. TV/Film: Sleeping with the Fishes (with Gina Rodgriguez), Across the Universe, Film U, L&O CI, Sex and the City, Chappelle's Show. She has performed at Lincoln Center with her husband, Olivier Award winner and Tony nominee Andy Karl, and in numerous Broadway benefits including Hair for the Actors Fund (Grammy nomination). Her extensive recording career includes music with the '90s pop group Or-N-More, she has performed with many music icons from legends the O'Jays to Cissy Houston. Her solo CD, What Do You Want From Me, latest single, "Forget My Name," and live album Orfeh & Andy Karl: Legally Bound – Live at Feinstein's/54 Below are available on iTunes.
Winner of the 2017 Olivier Award for "Best Actor" in a Musical for Groundhog Day, Andy was recently seen on the NBC series Law & Order: SVU as "Sergeant Mike Dodds." Andy has also won the Outer Critics Circle Award and has been nominated for Tony, Drama Desk and Drama League Awards for his starring role opposite Kristin Chenoweth in the Broadway revival of On the Twentieth Century. For his critically acclaimed performance as "Rocky Balboa" in the Broadway musical Rocky, Andy was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards. Other Broadway credits include the revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Jersey Boys, Wicked, 9 to 5, Legally Blonde, The Wedding Singer and Saturday Night Fever. Off-Broadway/NYC credits include Chita Rivera: NOWADAYS at Carnegie Hall, Annie Get Your Gun (City Center), Altar Boyz (OCC Award), Slut and Saturday Night. His film and television credits include Forever, And So It Goes, Joyful Noise, and Legally Blonde: The Search for Elle Woods.