Call Answered: Isaac Sutton: "Broadway Israel" at Feinstein's/54 Below
When you are Jewish & love Broadway, how can your ears not perk up when you get an e-mail with a show titled Broadway Israel. That’s exactly what happened when I heard that Israel’s very own Isaac Sutton was making a return engagement to Feinstein’s/54 Below this September after selling out the venue the first time around.
Broadway Israel features beloved hits from Wicked, NBC’s “Smash”, The Phantom of The Opera, Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Annie Get Your Gun and many more.
Isaac brings Broadway Israel back to Feinstein’s/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on Saturday, September 29 at 9:30pm. Click here for tickets!
1. This September you are returning to Feinstein's/54 Below with your show Broadway Israel. What are you looking forward to most about this return? I honestly can't wait to reunite with my New York audience. It's no secret that NYC has always been my favorite city in the world. This is the city where I find my inspiration. And also any chance I get to perform at Feinstein's/ 54 Below is coming full circle for me. This venue is my second home away from home. Not only is it Broadway's living room, it's literally my living room! I live just a block away from Feinstein's/54Below and I've seen my all-time favorite singers perform there. So it's truly a great pleasure to return for an encore performance.
2. What are you bringing with you from the first show that will inform this encore engagement? I've always loved sharing the stage with other local performers. At my first show at Feinstein's/54 Below I joined forces with Broadway's Carrie St Louis (Wicked, Kinky Boots, Rock of Ages). We had such a great time together on stage, that we kept in touch ever since and I invited her to Israel to perform together on tour with me.
This time around I'm going to have two very special Broadway Star guests: Rachel Gold (The Phantom of The Opera) and DeLaney Westfall (Kinky Boots, Beautiful, Sweeney Todd). Can't wait to see what happens next!
3. In this show you sing a variety of Broadway songs in English, Italian, French, and Hebrew. How do you decide which songs you sing in which language? I basically try to give some songs a little twist, as most of them have been sung so many times before by so many artists in the same language over and over again. So I do allow myself from time to time to switch languages in the middle of a song and I feel it makes it a more interesting experience overall and more audiences could relate.
Hebrew is my mother tongue, as I was born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel. So if I sing a song from an Israeli musical or a classic Israeli song, it would be in Hebrew.
French I picked up at school and fell in love with the language and the culture. The last musical that I was in, was the French production of Romeo and Juliette. So I may be doing something from that in French.
4. Which song in your set will you never get tired of singing? I do a medley from Fiddler on The Roof, which never leaves the set list. Audiences love it and so do I. I also never get tired of singing selections from The Phantom of the Opera, and this time will be extra special as I get to sing them with Broadway's “Christine” - Rachel Gold.
5. One of your most recent theatrical credits in Israel was that of playing "Bobby" in Sondheim's Company. This is one of my favorite shows and "Bobby" sings one of my all time favorite songs "Being Alive." When have you needed awareness of "Being Alive"? Company is one of my all time favorite shows too! And what a DREAM role “Bobby” is!
Last year, right before my debut at Feinstein's/54 Below, I drove to Pittsfield Massachusetts to see the wonderful production of Barrington Stage's Company, conducted by the wonderful Dan Pardo who is also my musical director at all my US shows.
I feel like we are all currently experiencing difficult times and challenging times in this great country and around the world. At the end of the day, we could all use some awareness of "being alive" and realize that change is needed and is possible!
6. Who or what inspired you to become a singer/performer? The first singer that comes to mind is Barbra Streisand. I remember when I was 15 years old, my dad got home on a Friday afternoon with a video tape (remember video tapes??) of her concert. And that video tape literally was a life altering experience. Listening to those beautiful orchestrations by Marvin Hamlisch over and over again, and hearing all these beautiful songs that I've never heard before sung by this angelic voice truly inspired me to sing and be exposed to the musical theater repertoire.
A few years later I was a soldier in the Israeli army and Barbra announced she would be performing one last time in Las Vegas for the Millennium. I remember buying tickets for that show and not being able to go because of the army! My parents ended up going and I was so devastated. Luckily I was able to see her perform live many times after that...
7. You started singing live at the age of 21 while serving in the Israeli Army (which my grandfather helped gets the Army's first uniforms in 1949). What was the moment, while serving in the Army, that made you go, "Now is the time to sing live"? I was asked to sing live in the army totally by accident! While serving in army, I was always known to be the guy with the radiophonic voice. So one day, I was asked to be the MC at the memorial services for prime minister Rabin. And then one of the singers that was supposed to perform at the event got sick and I was asked to replace him. That was the first time that I ever sang live in front of an audience and I'll never forget standing in front of thousands of people and feeling electricity in the air.
8. What similarities do you see between Broadway in Israel and here in NYC? What are some differences? Whenever I have to create a setlist for my US shows, that's when I realize there are still differences in tastes. Overall, Israelis are more conservative when it comes to the shows they'd like to see and hear songs from. You could say the majority in Israel prefers the more traditional "Old School" musicals.
However, over the last few years, I do feel like Israel has become more open to Musical Theater shows in general and to lesser known musicals as well.
Over the last decade, I've had the great privilege to bring the Great American songbook to Israelis with Broadway themed shows and even though it's still a niche market, the demand is ongoing and seems to be growing.
9. Let's bring this back to your concert at Feinstein's/54 Below. One show you will be performing songs from is Wicked. So let's play with "Defying Gravity" and "For Good." When has there been a time in your life when you felt like you were "Defying Gravity"? Who is someone in your life you could sing the line, "Because I knew you, I have been changed for good"? It was only after I had graduated with an MBA from Tel Aviv University, that I found the strength and the courage to follow my heart, and against all odds produce my first show and try my luck on the stages as a singer/actor. You can definitely say I am a late bloomer when it comes to singing and acting. It certainly surprised everyone around me. But I do feel that having a BA in economics and an MBA in Business, specializing in strategy and marketing, has given me an advantage and has allowed me to be the producer that I am today.
My parents have been there for me from day one and have supported me throughout this journey in ways that I cannot even describe in words. They are my biggest fans and I can't wait to sing for them at Feinstein's/54 Below, as they will be coming all the way from Israel to see my show. For sure, Because I knew them, I've been changed for good.
10. Another show you will be showcasing in your upcoming concert is Fiddler on the Roof. Where have you seen the perfect "Sunrise, Sunset"? That would have to be in my hometown, Tel Aviv. I live not too far from the beach so it's easy to escape to those beautiful sunsets and remind myself time after time how lucky I am to be doing what I love.
More on Isaac:
Isaac’s most recent theater credits in Israel include the lead role of “Bobby” in Stephen Sondheim’s Company, Jason Robert Brown’s Parade at The Jerusalem Festival, the French musical Romeo & Juliette, The Mikado, 1776 and more. Over the last decade, Isaac has performed solo shows such as Las Vegas-Tel Aviv, Broadway & All That Jazz, Tonight A Musical and Shalom Hollywood.
In his career Isaac has been introducing Israeli audiences to the Great American Songbook and performs regularly at Israel’s National Theaters and the region’s top Symphony Orchestras. After successful shows in the US, Europe, Canada, Brazil and across Israel — including The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Habima National Theater, The Cameri Theater Tel Aviv, Gesher Theater Jaffa — Sutton recently performed a duet with Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth at The Mayo Performing Arts Center. He is the recipient of honors from the Ladino International Festival, accompanied by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, and the Israel’s Musical Festival. He started singing live at the age of 21, while serving in the Israeli Army. He was asked to be the MC and singer at Yitzhak Rabin's memorial services. He is an MBA graduate with honors from Tel Aviv University. Isaac got his musical theatre training at Circle in the Square and Manhattan School of Music.