LONG ISLAND, NY – Long Islanders are in for a real treat. This Friday, January 16th 2015 “Two Tickets To Paradise” will be premiering at the Madison Theater at Molloy College. Directed by Long Island’s own John Blenn is an original play based on Legendary Rocker Eddie Money’s true life story. It follows Eddie Money and his working class family on their journey together as Eddie rebels against them in order to fulfill his dream of becoming a rock star.
The play features seven new recordings as well as many of Eddie’s smash hits. Through his original songs and classic hits, Eddie portrays excitement, fear and finally freedom. I had a chance to chat with the cast this past weekend including the original rock star himself Eddie Money.
My first interview was with Actor Matthew Burns who play a young Eddie Money.
Actor Matthew Burns who plays a young Eddie Money with TV Host and Entertainment Journalist Cognac Wellerlane.
TV Host and Entertainment Journalist Cognac Wellerlane interviews Actor Matthew Burns and Actress Helen Proimos who are both starring in “Two Tickets to Paradise” about the life of Legendary Rocker Eddie Money at the Madison Theater at Molloy College on beginning January 16th through the 25th.
I am here with young Matthew and he is going to tell my audience what this musical production is really all about.
Matt: Hi Cognac it is a pleasure to meet you, “Two Tickets to Paradise” is the musical adaption of the life of Eddie Money. The play talks about his beginnings. Coming from and born and raised in New York, Long Island and then making the move to California at the height of the 1960’s, “1969 Summer of Love,” his beginnings from there trying to create his career. He talks about the origin of a lot of his songs especially “Two Tickets to Paradise.”
Yes one of his very famous numbers that he received critical acclaim. It is a wonderful song.
Matthew: My favorite actually, a lot of people’s favorite.
That’s not my favorite. I like “Take Me Home Tonight,” I love that song. That’s my favorite song. I want to get more into you as an actor. Tell my audience how you found out about this particular role.
Matthew: Well that goes back to actually my college years. When I went to Five Towns College over in the Dix Hills area, when I was there that was the first time “Two Tickets to Paradise” was going to be shown. That was back in 2009. I was there present at the time. I wasn’t in the show then. I was good friends and he was also my teacher, John Blenn.
Oh the director!
Matt: The director, yes he worked there as well and I knew him very well and then what happened that show in 2009 came and went and
So they were kind of testing it out already.
Matt: Right, right, they were testing it out and it went very well and then what happened was I kept in touch with John over the years. Basically when I talked to him a couple of months back he was telling me about the show. He said “Do you want to come down to the audition?” and I said “Absolutely.” So basically that is how it went. So I went and did my best and here I am.
And here you are. Was the audition process difficult? Did you have to go through many audition processes before you got the role?
Matt: Well I went through about two auditions.
It was pretty simple. I have heard actors tell me that they went on ten auditions before they were actually told that they got the part. I interviewed Karen Lynn Gorney, the actress that was in “Saturday Night Fever.” She told me that she went through many audition processes before she got the role, something like ten audition processes.
Matt: I believe it and I myself worked for Disney Cruises for a good nine months.
I was just about to ask you about your past acting experiences.
Matt: Yeah, when I had gone to that audition it was like a good four auditions to get hired for that so I believe it.
That is like so frustrating. You go through all that and then you don’t get it maybe and then it’s even worse. That’s the life of an actor, Right?
Matt: Yeah, it is true.
So tell my audience why did you want to get into show business? Was it a life thing that happened to you that made you want to become an actor?
Matt: That is a great question. I guess I would have to say In a way I always have been performing. My parents would tell me stories that I would watch TV and I would watch movies and imitate the characters very well. I would hear music and start humming in the back seat and my parents said I could carry a great tune and everything.
So you sing too?
Matt: I act, I sing, I dance.
So you are a triple act.
Matt: I try to be. I do as much as I can.
Back in the day. That was the deal. You had to be a triple act. You had to sing, dance and act to be in show business.
Matt: It’s still that way.
Yeah, pretty much.
Matt: To get as many jobs as you possibly can, your going to have to be a triple threat.
Triple threat, that is the saying. You see a young man like that, he still knows those old fashioned sayings. They stand the test of time. Now where can we go to find out more information about you as an actor. Do you have a website? Do you have a facebook page?
Matt: I do have a facebook page. You can find me at Facebook/Matthew Burns
I had the pleasure of interviewing Actress Helen Proimos who told me about the Musical Production “Two Tickets To Paradise” and helped me arranged the interviews. Helen portrays Dottie Mahoney, Eddie Money’s mother.
Welcome back darlings, I am Cognac Wellerlane and I am here with Actress Helen Proimos and she is also starring in the musical production “Two Tickets to Paradise” at the Madison Theatre at Molloy College and she is playing Eddie Money’s mother. What a fabulous role.
Helen: I know. How lucky am I! I am playing Dottie Mahoney.
Dottie Mahoney. Mahoney is actually Eddie Money’s real name. Tell my audience how did you find out about this role?
Helen: Well John Blenn had an ad online and I went to the audition and read for it and I didn’t hear back. So I really kind of forgot about it and then I received a message sometime later to come to a meeting. I wasn’t really sure what it was about if it was just a meeting or a call-back. I didn’t know. I went and I wasn’t sure if Eddie would be there or not and I said well you know maybe Eddie Money will the there too so I was going to go no matter what.
Was your heart pitter pattering because he was a sexy rocker in his day? He is still sexy.
Helen: I didn’t know if he would be there or what the situation was but it was an acting job and there was a message to come to the meeting. Ironically I was there early sitting in my car and said to myself, “I am going to go in even if I am early,” and when I went in I was actually late because everybody was there. So I sat and took the closest chair and sat down next to Eddie Money and I saw John Blenn at the head of the table. He said, “I will fill you in quickly about the meeting,” and long story short John said “I think you have the role but we didn’t hear you sing Helen. Could you sing something for us right now.” So here I am thank you very much John Blenn sitting next to Eddie Money and I have to stand up and sing a song. What do I know by heart. I know a lot of songs. What would be good for right now? I love Petulia Clark. So I did a Petulia Clark song and got the role.
Fabulous. How exciting for you to play this role.
Helen: I am on cloud 9.! Let me tell you the music in the show. This show is a performers dream because not only do you have Eddie Money’s hits, the rock music, but you have his new songs that are wonderful. You know they are Broadway style but there still hip and the whole story is so with it. It’s the story of his life. It’s the American dream. He took a shot. He loved his whole family, that’s the thing. He really loved his family and when he left to pursue this dream you know it was hard for him. It was a really a tug of war and he did struggle and he did it. He is the American dream.
He certainly is. I want to know the role that you are playing, his mother, how much are you like the real Mrs. Mahoney? Are you blond like her? Is there similarities? Is there a reason why they chose you besides your acting ability?
Helen: I think there is a similarity in my appearance. I do look something like Eddie Money. Although Matt Burns who is playing the part of the younger version of him but I think it probably has more to do aside from the look is the love connection, the emotion and the chemistry playing that out.
Now Helen I heard that you are going to be singing a fabulous new song that no one has ever heard before. Tell my audience what that song is?
Helen: Yes it is called “Always Want The World For You” and it really explains Eddie’s situation of him leaving going off to California, the way about his parents felt about him leaving, the way about him leaving his sisters and how the mother loved him so much. She always wanted the world for him. Plus she had an older son that was in Vietnam. So here the woman is losing Eddie to go off to follow his dream and has a son in Vietnam as well and she is not happy about any of this.
Did you find the role challenging?
Helen: The role is very challenging because it is very emotional. She calls to Eddie. “Please come home I can’t take this, your brother is gone and I am worried about you. Your father is upset you left the police department and please come home to me, your family and your little sisters.”
I want you to tell my audience where we can go to find out more information about the play. what is the website?
Helen: The play itself, I don’t know if it has a website but you can see a lot of information about it on my website that have from my public access TV show that I have Stage and Screen and in between with Helen.
You can also go to Eddie Money’s website www.eddiemoney.com
Afterwards I spoke to John Blenn who is the Director of “Two Tickets To Paradise.”
TV Host Cognac Wellerlane interviews Director John Blenn and Legendary Rocker Eddie Money about his Musical Production “Two Tickets to Paradise” about the life of Legendary Rocker Eddie Money at the Madison Theater at Molloy College on beginning January 16th through the 25th.
Mr. Blenn is going to tell my audience how he became involved in this production. tell my audience how did you get involved and why did you get involved?
John: Well I started with is particular production in 2009. I directed it the first time when it was done in Dix Hills at the Five Towns College and Eddie had come to me with the play via a friend named Gordon McKay who is a producer attached to the project at the time and Gordon had been a writer of mine. He started out in the business writing for me and he called me up and said that Eddie had written a play would I be interested in looking at it because I had done about sixty plays out here on Long Island myself before that and even though I hadn’t done musicals before and I said “Yeah, I would be very interested in looking at it.” Eddie and I had about a thirty year history because I was a journalist for many years
I heard about that.
John: I had interviewed Eddie back in 1985.
John: Yeah. We crossed paths over the years. I was the General Manager of the Westbury Music Fair for four years. He played there a couple of times when I was the GM there. So we kept crossing paths and we had a professional friendship up until that point. When I saw it I was really impressed by Eddie’s writing.
So he wrote this himself?
John: Completely. He also wrote original songs for it that weren’t in his catalog.
Yeah. I heard that there is seven new songs that will be premiering in the production.
John: There certainly is. He wrote songs that drove the storyline into the plot that you would see in every classic Broadway Musical. So he really put a lot of thought into it and he obviously worked most of his hits into it. Eddie has the unique problem on doing a musical like this and the fact that he has so many hits there is not enough room for all of them.
Do you have a favorite song?
John: I think probably my favorite song by Eddie or actually ironically is not in the play. They are not huge hits of his but he has a song called “The Wish” which was on his “Playing For Keeps” albumin and he had another song called “Life For The Taking” which was on his second albumin that he put out that was on his second track which are both very emotional tunes that connected to me at the time I heard them. I was a friend of Eddie’s way back to his first albumin when it came out on Columbia Records and saw him at the Nassau Coliseum the first time he played there touring with Meatloaf for his very first tour. So I always had a connection to Eddie being a Long Islander like he is. I grew up in East Meadow. He grew up in Island Tree an area of Levittown, so we are neighboring towns. I had a brother ten years older than I am which makes him exactly his age. My father was a Nassau County Cop, his father was a New York City Cop.
Oh that is funny. That is hysterical. So the camaraderie starts from all the way back with the similarities of both your lives.
John: Absolutely and I think the fact that my father was like his father. Both wanted us to go into civil service or follow in their footsteps as police officers and both of our mothers said “You want to be artistic you should follow your dreams.” When I was in my twenty’s I was a screenwriter in college and I wanted to do that. Finally now in my fifty’s I have a film in development besides working on this project.
Tell us about your film.
John: It’s called “George Bailey.” It’s about eight friends that went to college together to become actors or work in the television and movie profession and they all kind of didn’t follow their dreams with one exception and as they are about to turn fifty they kind of of come up with the realization that you hit that part of your life you either chase your dreams or you don’t and they decide to make their own independent film. That’s in development and should probably be shooting later this year. Actually when I turned fifty I directed this play for the first time. You never know when the opportunity is going to come.
Out on the Island we have done about eighty projects. It’s called Middle Class American Productions and we just do original works. That was the thing I also really enticed me about working with Eddie. This was a big brand new piece that nobody had ever seen before. I loved the music and I love working with him and doing something that has never been done before. That is much more appealing than trying to be the next great Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” or do the stage version of “The King And I.” That has been done a lot. Done by very good actors and it will continue to be done by very good actors but I am always drawn to doing brand new things.
Tell my audience where can we go to find out more information about obtaining “Two Tickets To Paradise?”
John: Well they can certainly contact the Madison Theatre at Molloy College. They have a wonderful website; http://madisontheatreny.org.
How long is the play going to be at the Madison Theatre?
John: The plan is just to do the five shows on it right now. We are eventually going to move it to Broadway.
Finally I sat down with Legendary Rocker Eddie Money who revealed his story to me.
Legendary rocker Eddie Money poses for a photo op with Cognac Wellerlane.
Tell my audience a little more about this production and why you decided to do it. I understand you wrote it as well.
Eddie: Yes, I did. well I tell you the truth. I led a very interesting life because I am the son of a New York City police officer. My dad was a cop, my grandfather was a cop. It’s like growing up in New York, if your father is a painter your son is a painter that kind of thing. I grew up in a very strict Irish Catholic background and it really was about when I was in high school. I was in the rock band, a very popular rock band and it was all about wanting to grow your hair long.
Yes darling, I came from that era. I know all about it.
Eddie: I was singing really good but there was no such thing in those days about becoming a rock star like the Beatles or the Rolling Stones if you didn’t have long hair. I was torn. I went into the police department because my brother was in Vietnam at the time and my mother wanted me to have an occupation.
Back in those days that was how it was. I come from an old fashioned Italian family. they wanted me to become a secretary, get married and have babies. They didn’t want me to become a movie star. That’s what I wanted to be. You wanted to be a rock star and I wanted to be a movie star.
Eddie: And here we are.
And here we are today. You achieved your goal of becoming a rock star and I interview very, very famous people.
Eddie: Yeah, I have seen your show and I am very fond of it and thank you so much for having me on it.
Your life was so tenacious. You have done so many different wild things. How difficult was it to rebel against your family’s idea of you becoming a cop and starting his rock career?
Eddie: To me it was just a way to date the pretty chicks in high school. If you were too skinny to play football you had to be in a rock band.
“Two Tickets to Paradise” is one of your hits. Why did you name the play that? Is it because it was your favorite number?
Eddie: When I first started writing songs I wrote a lot of tunes but when I started getting serious about it I wrote “Two Tickets to Paradise.” Everybody identifies with my career with “Two Tickets To Paradise,” You think “Two Tickets To Paradise” you think Eddie Money. It goes hand in hand. I have done commercials about it. It’s been a big part of my repertoire.
Is it your most famous song?
Eddie: Not really. “Take me Home Tonight” was very popular.
That is the one I love. Tell my audience why you wrote that song. What inspired you to write it?
Eddie: I think that’s a great song. You think about about it, it had two choruses in it. It has “Take Me Home Tonight” and in the second chorus there is Ronnie Spector’s big hit “Be My Little Baby.” With a very catchy first part of the chorus and they play that song when everybody leaves the clubs all over the country still to this date.
I know that is why I love it. Did you know that it was going to be a hit song when you wrote it and they were going to play it in all the clubs at the end of the night?
Eddie: I had a feeling that was going to happen.
Oh so you are psychic too?
Eddie: I don’t know if I am psychic but putting Ronnie Spector in the video was a great idea and it was really a fantastic video. My record label, Columbia Records, they were really behind the song. Bill Grahmn, he was into the tune and it exploded. It revitalized my career not that my career was falling a part.
But it made it even bigger and better.
Eddie: It made it bigger and better. You know when you write a great song like that you put it in a set list. A lot of people don’t realize that I had fourteen or fifteen songs in the top one hundred.
Do you still keep in touch with Ronnie Spector?
Eddie: Yes I do, her and her husband Jonathan. She is such a great lady. Ronnie has a heart of gold. The first thing she did when she got on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on TV and everywhere was thank me for revitalizing her career. She did not have to say that or do that. She is just a real sweetheart.
I understand that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the tickets will be donated to a very worthy charity. Tell my audience all about that.
Eddie: Thank you so much Cognac. I am glad you brought that up. We are supporting the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
What is that all about?
Eddie: It is a non political charitable organization. They have two facilities one in San Antonio with about one hundred ten beds and they just built another facility in Maryland with about thirty beds. It’s for those kids. I shouldn’t say kids. Men and women coming back in uniform all over the world with head trauma injuries whether they be psychological or getting banged up. I very much am into supporting our veterans. I am not saying the country doesn’t care about our veterans but people should be more aware of the fact that how much they do and how much we would be lost without a strong service. I run into a lot of parents on the road, a lot of veterans I feel like the least we can do is donate.
What is the website:
Eddie: That would be http://fallenheroesfund.org
Tell my audience where we can go to find more information about Eddie Money. What is the website?
Eddie: Thank you Cognac, www.eddiemoney.com Thank you Cognac for having me on your show and I want to thank Helen who plays my mother and I would also like to thank Matt Burns for doing all this and a very good friend of mine, a great director and production manager, he is also everybody’s psychiatrist. I am talking about John Blenn and we are going to give everybody a great show this weekend.
From left to right, actress Helen Proimos, rocker Eddie Money, Host Cognac Wellerlane and Director John Blenn pose for a photo-op.
“Two Tickets To Paradise”- The Musical, traces Eddie’s life from his years as a police officer to hitting the big time! The 7 new songs highlighted throughout the show include: “These Are My Guys,” “Out To California,” “I Only Want The World For You,” “California Here I Come,” “No More Goodbyes,” “This Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore” and “Girls Get Up.”