Friday, May 31, 2013

Rejinald Woods of Bending Threads: Breaking the Box

Rejinald Woods, the founder, booking manager and idea man for Bending Threads Cabaret Company, currently lives out of town in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he has been appearing as the lead Noah in NOAH, the musical at Sight & Sound Theatre for three years running to rave reviews, including regarding how he "is in most musical numbers, as well as racing throughout the Ark, up and down ladders, and makes the feat look simple." I am exhausted just reading about that.

How do you balance working so dynamically within two groups across two different states?

"Most weekends I travel into the city to rehearse and perform with Bending Threads. I work as kind of the idea man for the group and am always amazed that when I put a theme or show idea out there that Bending Threads picks it up, runs with it and makes it fabulous. We Wear The Mask, our first show, was actually going to be the title of my one-man show. But when everyone signed on to do the first show, Seasons of Change, with me, everyone liked that theme and name, too, so we kept it and used it for our second show. We'll also just brainstorm, and an idea will come to us and we go with it."

He describes Bending Threads' first-ever three-night cabaret show, Dreamscape, as his biggest idea yet and also, as he confides, "one that I thought the group would turn down immediately. Think about it: we would essentially be putting on three different shows on three consecutive nights. But they said yes."

As the booking manager for the group, what are the top five factors in your selection of show venues?

1. Price Point: The price point for both Bending Threads and the patron is very important. It has to be good quality for what they are receiving. If the venue cost is so high that it forces us to price out our patrons, it's not worth it.

2. Location: The location has to be easy to access by mass transit, and it has to be a location that any of our supporters would feel more than safe walking through. We like to eliminate any reason for a potential patron to be hesitant about attending our shows.

3. Reputation: In this business, reputation is everything and though there are people out there who will complain about anything, venues that have bad reputations have often earned them. We don't take a chance with those venues because we believe our audience deserves better than that.

4. Service: Whether it's door attendants, wait staff, or bartenders, good service is a must. A smile and a kind word goes a long way.

5. Facilities: If it's not clean or pretty we don't even go there. (Editor's Note: Words to live by.)

For his part of the four-piece's upcoming LEGENDS jazz show this Saturday and Sunday at The Underground, Woods will be celebrating Billie Holiday.

"I discovered Billie Holiday when I was 12 years old," he recalls. "I found a cassette tape of her music, and I fell in love. Her ability to turn a musical phrase into an emotional experience for the listener is unmatched. There is a rawness, pain, and beauty in her voice that I immediately attached to. I found out a little later that she had a vast amount of music out there and even a movie about her life starring Diana Ross. I rented the movie and was enthralled. I couldn't believe that such beauty could come from such a broken vessel. I became a her biggest fan and got my hands on anything Billie Holiday related that I could find. I couldn't get enough, so when we decided to do the jazz show featuring the music of our favorite jazz greats, I immediately chose Billie as my artist. I know that it may be a little weird that she is the performer that is my focus in the show because she's a different gender, but it makes sense to me because her music touches me to the very core."

I'll be seeing you...


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