Making their first appearance at Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael, the cabaret that bears the name of the entertainer who brought them together 12 years ago, are Scott Coulter and Alex Getlin. Accompanied by sought after music director-pianist, John Boswell, the pair will appear at the urbane, upscale room on Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18, in “Rock ‘N Radio” a revue of chart-topping hits.
The backstory of how Getlin and Coulter began their collaboration actually goes all the way back to when Getlin was eight-years old, and she met Michael Feinstein after singing at an annual Thanksgiving gathering hosted by Judith Sheindlind, aka Judge Judy. A longtime friend of Alex Getlin’s parents, respected journalists Josh Getlin and Heidi Evans, Sheinland is also close to Feinstein and his spouse Terrence Flannery, and it was she who introduced Feinstein and Getlin. Click here to read Getlin’s story regarding now he discovered pop culture icon Sheindland.
Later, when Getlin was 16 and attending the LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts in NYC, Feinstein became her mentor and invited her to perform her solo show, “You’re Going to Hear from Me,” at Feinstein’s, then at the Hotel Regency. He selected Coulter to direct his protégé’s cabaret debut, which received glowing reviews. Previously, Coulter had directed Feinstein’s “Standard Time” series at Carnegie Hall.
Ever since Getlin’s graduation in 2016 from Northwestern University where she majored in musical theatre, she and Coulter have performed in theaters, nightclubs, and with symphony orchestras under the auspices of his concert events company, Spot On Entertainment.
Recently, in a Zoom call with Coulter and Getlin from their NYC homes, I spoke with them regarding their debut at Feinstein’s club in the elegant Carmel boutique hotel. The venue just happens to be located directly east of The Palladium where the grammy-nominated Feinstein serves as artistic director and where The Great American Songbook Foundation, which he founded, is headquartered.
Below is an edited transcript of my conversation with the gregarious duo:
Tell me about “Rock ‘N Radio.”
SC: This show is called Rock ‘N Radio, and it’s music’s biggest hits including songs that were at the top of the pop charts and those that were the biggest pop songs of all times. For example, “Mack the Knife” is in the show. It’s still the number three billboard song of all time, which is sort of incredible to think about. It’s a walk-down-memory-lane musical for everyone. It speaks to all ages. Alex and John Boswell do a phenomenal “Shallow” from “A Star is Born” to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire.” The show is chock full of extraordinary music which has been the soundtrack for the last six decades of our lives. Michael (Feinstein) is a big proponent of the Great American Songbook, as are we, but it continues to evolve and grow. It’s any song that stands the test of time and all of these songs do that. Because of the way people consume music these days, through Spotify, or playlists or satellite radio stations, we keep hearing these songs from the last 50 to 60 years. Everybody on the planet is hearing the same music, which is cool because it used to be that it was only in vogue when it was current before things moved on. Now we are in that same listening pot. It’s a fun night and Alex takes the roof off the place. Her voice is just volcanic.
AG: This is really a special one for me in particular because splitting the bill with Scott is the greatest joy one can ever experience. Scott created this incredible company with Spot On Entertainment, which I have been a part of. We have all gotten to have this extraordinary music journey under his wonderful guidance and collaborating with him. Scott and Michael are two of the greatest music mentors and are responsible for my formative experiences of how to interpret songs, and getting to split the stage with him and singing iconic songs are both such a pleasure and a thrill.
Describe your chemistry?
SC: There is a mutual respect and a lot of trust. Alex was very young when we started working together, and I made suggestions to her about material and performance style that were foreign and new to her, but she was very trusting and went with them and just soared. And because of that there is a trust. I can call her and say, “Alex, I need you to sing this song,” and she’ll do it and knock it out of the park. It’s a really good relationship to have a singer you can throw things at knowing they are going to be incredibly successful but also to have a singer who knows you have their best interests at heart. I won’t ask her to do something that is not going to work for her or put her in an awkward position. Not only are we friends, at this point we are family, so our working relationship is based on trust in both directions.
AG: Scott is very easy to trust. He has such an aptitude for knowing what works for people. From the very first moment we worked together, I not only felt enthralled with the songs he chose, but also his guidance and teaching. I felt myself grow as a performer under his wing. From the beginning, he has become my number one confidant. How can one not trust him? I love the performer I have become because of Scott.
Alex, the story about your singing at Judge Judy’s home resulting your discovery by Feinstein has become part of show business legend. You have certainly benefited from that encounter, have you not?
AG: No one has benefited from Karaoke on Thanksgiving more than I have. It was wild. He had heard me sing over the course of a year and by the time I was 16, he made this incredibly generous offer when he asked me to sing in one of his shows. It was an evening that changed my life.
Alex, I understand you were in a production of “Godspell,” the first and only live theatre that took place during the pandemic lockdown. What was that period like for you, Scott?
SC: The first five days after lockdown people were posting videos. My company started a contest called “Give My Regards,” and we invited people from around the world to send a video of them singing. We had a celebrity panel of judges who picked the top six. I flew the top six to NYC to appear at 54 Below where they performed for another panel of judges and a live audience, and they picked the grand prize winner. The grand prize was to make your debut with a major American symphony. The first year was a girl named Chelle Denton, and she sang with the Pacific Symphony in Orange County, CA, just last year. It was so successful we have continued the contest. The winner this year was Bryson Jacobi Jackson, and he just got cast in “MJ,” the Michael Jackson musical on Broadway. As far as performing, we got lucky. The world shut down in 2020 and Spot On was back on the road of October of 2020, just six months into the pandemic. I think we were the first people to perform. We did a concert with the Jacksonville Symphony where every member of the orchestra was behind plexiglass. We stood in front of the plexiglass and plexiglass in front of us and the audience. and we wore masks. It was the craziest thing, and there were only five hundred people allowed in the audience a 2,500-seat hall. It was one of the most magical nights ever. Everyone was weeping, and it had been so long since there was a night like this. We worked pretty consistently from that moment on, all through the pandemic.
AG: I performed in Jacksonville too in front of that plexiglass. It was a wild experience. The enormity of the emotional response was undeniable.
Are you still experiencing audience’s gratitude about attending live performances?
SC: I am still experiencing it. It is still emotional for me. There are still people who are still seeing for the first time since the pandemic. We do not take it for granted that we have been able to do it for the past three years. We really got lucky. We were only sidelined for about six months. To sing is always a gift, but now it is only more so—to have the opportunity to sing and to have people out there listening. There are still places where people won’t go, and you have to wear a mask because they don’t feel safe, and there are places where people won’t go if you have to wear a mask because they have to prove a political point. Just the act of attending a concert is so courageous on so many levels.
Scott, are you continually producing shows?
SC: Yes, we have close to 30 shows that go out regularly. Alex is in most of them because she can sing anything. But every now and then we’ll get a crazy idea. We’ll be in the car talking or at the airport, and it will turn into a show. Everything at Spot On are original creations. It’s not that I wouldn’t take on someone else’s show, but the company has become a family, people that we love and trust, because the business can be a little shady. Some nights we have three or four shows throughout the U.S;
Alex, I presume you and your family are still close to Judge Judy?
AG: We are still family friends. She reached out to me recently when she celebrated a birthday, but I couldn’t go because I am happily employed by Mr. Coulter. We see them multiple times a year. They are doing great. It’s wild how much influence that woman has. She has so many friends. My parents brought me back a hat from her birthday party with this image of her on it, and I can’t tell you the number of times people stop me on the street to ask, “Is that Judge Judy on your hat?” Everyone is just so aware of her. It is such a gift to know her and a gift that keeps growing.
For tickets to Scott Coulter, Alex Getlin, and John Boswell’s “Rock & Radio” visit feinsteinshc.com.