Fil-Am singer goes from singing ‘I’d Give My Life for You’ to ‘I Poop’
LOS ANGELES—Jennifer Paz, a Filipino-American singer-actress who starred as Kim in numerous “Miss Saigon” productions, and also performed in “Les Miserables” and other musicals, has gone from singing “I’d Give My Life for You” to “I Poop.” And she’sloving every minute of it because “I Poop” is one of the songs she sings with her husband, “American Idol” Season Four finalist Anthony Fedorov in celebration of their son, Julian.
Jennifer and Anthony are performing together in a show debuting their original songs inspired by their 1-year-old (and some covers) from their coming EP, “Every Little Thing.”
“We are excited—and nervous!—to be sharing this new music,” Jennifer said about the show, “The Auraganix—Concert for Families and Kids,” to be held today, 1 p.m., at Rockwell: Table & Stage on 1714 N. Vermont in LA. She added, “It’s an all-ages show. We want to make our event fun and enjoyable for the whole family!”
Jennifer also said her songs with Anthony, who starred in an Off-Broadway revival of “Rent,” started as “silly songs” they made up as they took care of Julian. (For ticket information, visit http://rockwell-la.inticketing.com/events/432784/.)
According to Jennifer, who writes a parenting blog on Huffington Post, the show will be available for live streaming “so folks can log on to watch from the comfort of their home (https://www.stageit.com/anthony_fedorov_and_jennifer_paz_are_the_auraganix/auraganix_live_in_concert_from_rockwell_table_and_stage/38909).
As for their own big day, Jennifer said, “Anthony and I haven’t set a date. We’re waiting until Julian is big enough to be ring bearer.”
Below are excerpts from our interview:
Please describe your transition into a wife and mother.
Surprisingly, the transition has been quite smooth. I worked up until I was eight months pregnant, singing and concert-touring. I returned to work about five months postpartum and brought baby Julian with me.
My first contract back to work was in Texas and my family came and helped me. I was nursing so I’d have Julian in my dressing room, to keep him on his feeding schedule. It was crazy…but we all made it work. I was very grateful to have so much help!
Honestly, the transition wasn’t as hard as I anticipated. Sure, we had anxieties and sleepless nights but you just make it work. Having Julian has enriched all our lives. I feel like I can do anything.
In these times, is it still tough to combine motherhood with work as a performer?
The thing that’s tough right now is scheduling child care for Julian. I hate being away from him and I have passed on some opportunities because they would take me away from him. Anthony and I are very hands-on and if one of us is working, then the other one takes care of Julian…We started taking him to gigs when he was 1 month old. He started flying at 6 to 7 weeks old.
How did you and Anthony come up with the idea for the EP and the show?
This EP is a collection of songs inspired by Julian, and it basically captures our journey as new parents. Anthony has been writing songs for quite some time now. He has a few writing partners.
But our joint collaboration started only when I became pregnant. It was during that time that we started writing and getting inspired by this new life we were starting together. It was a beautiful and fascinating time, just being in awe of all the changes we were going through and imagining what this little human being was going to be like.
Anthony would just sit and strum the guitar while we’d come up with melodies and start singing whatever. It was so soothing for me, too, during my pregnancy.
One of the first songs we started writing is a song called “Baby Boy.” We had only the first few lines written for a while and didn’t finish it until after he was born: “Baby boy/what’cha thinkin’/how I wonder/can you hear my voice/while you’re dreaming/feel my love?” That was the only thing we had written for months. We would start and stop songs and finish them when the inspiration came.
Anthony cowrote most of the songs with his writing partners Bill Grainer and Jeff Vincent. He brought in another writer, Tony Di Giulio, on our current single, “Shine.” And once he got his buddy Bo (Bice, from his season on “Idol”) on our project, things started to really come together. Bo introduced us to Atlanta-based producer Matt Garwood, who did all the music and arrangements.
Also the work of “Sand Story” artist Joe Castillo (“America’s Got Talent”) is featured in our YouTube music videos “Shine” and the yet-to-be-released “Baby Boy,” and “Every Little Thing.” We loved the idea of incorporating illustrations for some of our songs. We plan to release a collection of these illustrations for a children’s book later.
Does Julian exhibit an interest in performing?
He does sing; it’s so adorable! He started imitating us at around 6 months. Especially when either of us is warming up, he’ll start mimicking the sounds he hears. Vocal warmups aren’t always the most pleasant sounds, so my poor kid, he has to put up with Mom and Dad making all these funny sounds.
The one thing I love that he started doing as soon as he became aware of his hands, is clap. On cue. He’ll always clap after we’re done singing. Or if he hears a song on the radio and it ends, he knows to clap. He’s a very polite audience member.
If your son announces that he’d like to join a show like “American Idol,” how would you react?
My gut reaction is “Noooooooooooo!”
But would Anthony say yes?
My guess is yes. But let me ask him…he just said, “Absolutely.”
What musical treats await families who will watch this show?
The entire EP celebrates parenthood and we also cover subjects like doctor visits (“Doc Doc Doc”), self-esteem (“Outside Looking In”) and my personal struggle with conceiving (“Wanted”).
It’s a 75-minute set of originals, including our two singles that are currently out, “Shine” and “I Poop.” It’s all positive, feel-good, sometimes silly, but very personal music.
We are also covering some of our favorite artists like Jason Mraz and throwing in a Disney tune; plus, we have a special guest performance by some of my mama friends. I have these regular play dates with some pretty cool friends from “Miss Saigon.”
We just started playing with the idea of singing together about things that mattered to us as moms. We shot a parody of Lorde’s “Royals” song, but with a mommy twist. It’s called “Rolls Royce” with parody lyrics by Deedee Magno Hall.
We just launched the video a few days ago and it’s been getting a lot of shares…It’s pretty crazy! Deedee Magno Hall, Joan Almedilla, Ai Goeku Cheung and I call ourselves the Mama Bares. I asked them to join us [today] to perform the song live for the first time!
Why did you drop out from Facebook?
It was just becoming so time-consuming to be on Facebook! After I became a mom, my priorities shifted and I wanted to devote my attention completely to my son. Truthfully, I took a good hard look at how I wanted to control my private life and Julian’s privacy. I had a few invasive moments at some of Anthony’s gigs where I had Julian with me and folks would come up to take his picture without my permission. One time when Julian was sleeping on Anthony’s shoulder, this woman just snapped a picture at his face and the flash woke him up.
As for work-related things, social media is a great tool to promote your concerts and latest projects. I like to feel connected so I still have a Twitter account. I believe in moderation.
“Miss Saigon” is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Can you share 10 of your most memorable moments?
1) 1994 – first national tour: Performing at the Kennedy Center for President Bill Clinton and the First Family.
2) Also at the Kennedy Center – Performing for and meeting the actual American soldiers who were the last to leave the US embassy in Saigon and board the last helicopter (that is now one of the most iconic moments of the show).
3) 1993 – Meeting Lea Salonga for the first time post-show in Boston at the Wang Center.
4) 1995 – Ahmanson Theater in LA. While waiting to make an entrance with the child actor playing Tam, she turns to me and says, “I have to go pee.” With no time to run to the bathroom, I offered her my prop satchel that had a cloth in it. I bunched up the cloth on the floor and she did her business. I put the soaked cloth back in my satchel, picked her up and we ran in to do the scene just in time for me to say, “Engineer! Thuy’s dead!” I did the rest of Act I with this soggy pee bag on me.
5) 2008 – South Bay Civic Light Opera (CLO). I had to make an entrance with my Tam that in the scene that introduces him to The Engineer. But the actor playing Tam was nowhere to be found. The child wrangler was still trying to hurry him up in the bathroom.
My entrance music came and I froze in the wings, not sure if I should go on, or wait for my Tam. I felt horrible leaving The Engineer hanging like that. He stood there waiting for me to run in, which I didn’t.
Then a few seconds passed (which feels like an eternity) and out of the blue, The Engineer growled, “Roar! Whaaaat’s happening!? I hate Dreeeeeamland!” in this Scar-like voice from “The Lion King,” which he had previously played. I became fascinated at what this man was attempting to do to stall! It was hilarious! A few more seconds passed and the wrangler ran in with a shoeless Tam in her arms with pants barely pulled up.
6) 2008 – Getting the LA Ovation Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical that year for that South Bay CLO production. This was an incredible honor since it’s a peers-only-voting theater awards.
7) 2012 – Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine. This was a special production for many reasons…particularly because I got to do it with Raul Aranas, my very first Engineer from the first national tour, and here we were 20 years later!
8) 2008 and 2009 – I did two regional productions, which reunited me with a “Saigon” pal from the first national tour, Eric Kunze (Chris). I’ve met a lot of life-long pals on that show. In fact, we still get to sing this score together in a concert version with Boublil/Schonberg’s “Do You Hear the People Sing” concert tour, which Eric and I both joined in 2012.
9) 2013 – My first contract postpartum was for another regional “Miss Saigon” production at Casa Mañana Theater in Fort Worth, Texas. I never ever thought I’d ever be nursing my baby offstage in my Kim costume 20-plus years later since first doing the role! That was unreal!
10) 2013 – I did another production after Texas, outside of Boston area at a theater called North Shore. This was special because not only was Anthony in the show with me, but Julian made a little onstage cameo in the last performance. Anthony carried our sleeping Julian onstage during the very last Exodus scene at the end of Act 1. It was extremely powerful and surreal.
Do Kim’s songs resonate with you on a different level now?
When I did that production in Fort Worth, shortly after having Julian, I went through the score for the first time with our musical director. I couldn’t get through the line, “You who I cradled in my arms…” I had to stop and take a moment.
(E-mail the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/
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