The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to be in show business?
Tami Stronach: I was one of those kids who right from the start just wanted to perform. I loved the connection with the audience. It felt like a great thing for me to pour my feelings into something productive. I was also one of those kids who had ‘a lot of feelings.’ So, when you have that combo of sensitive, and also craving the spotlight, you get a performer. Actor, dancer, I really didn’t distinguish. I just knew I wanted to do it.
TDQ: Who was your favorite musical artist growing up?
TS: When I was little, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel. And Abba. When I got a little older David Bowie, Annie Lenox, Bobby McFerrin. Pink Floyd, U2 and Michael Jackson. Pretty normal 80s kid.
TDQ: What was your favorite fantasy film growing up?
TS: Not sure if it’s quite fantasy, but I loved ‘Brazil.’ Brilliant–Still resonates today.
TDQ: What is the best advice you have ever gotten?
TS: “Trust your gut.”
TDQ: What is the worst advice you have ever gotten?
TS: “Put on a mini skirt and strut around the office”, but a close second for ‘worst’ would be, “Everyone else thinks about it this way so you should too…”TDQ: Who are your influences?
TS: Bold visual choices always get me. I love it when the style of a work tells the viewer as much about what is going on in a story as the content. In film anything by Terri Gilliam– I also loved “Blade Runner.” In art I’ve always been drawn to surrealism, Frida Kahlo and the whimsy and romanticism of Chagall. In high school I read everything by Ursula Le Guin, and books like “The Island of Doctor Moreau”.
TDQ: What is your favorite memory of making “The Never Ending Story?”
TS: My favorite memory is when I came into the studio for the first time and saw the set of the ivory tower. It was so beautiful it just swept me into the story.
TDQ: How did you form your family-focused brand, Paper Canoe Company?
TS: Well, when I had my daughter, I think a shift started happening in how I think about stories. For me, having a little girl brought me back to my own childhood. For kids, a story isn’t just a story. The imagination is literally just as important as reality. There is something amazingly joyful about connecting with an audience that actually wants to bring their full selves to the experience. So we started making stories that families can enjoy—and this is the key for us—together. It’s not like, “Oh, here is something for my kid that I’m going to have to put up with.” We want to make stuff that you love just as much as your kid does. That’s the goal. I’m putting 30 years of acting, dancing, teaching, singing, performing, and telling stories into it. It’s always a lot of work to start your own thing, but in the end, it’s the most fulfilling thing you can do. Our creative team is really talented and motivated, so I’m incredibly excited to see what we can make.TDQ: Tell us about your newest project, the folk rock opera album, “Beanstalk Jack”
TS: It’s a really fun thing. Jack and the Beanstalk with a girl meets boy twist. Jack’s this kind of silly country boy singer songwriter. He goes up the beanstalk and steals the heart of Harmony, the giant’s daughter who is a rock star in waiting. So he’s a little bit country. She’s a little bit Rock and Roll (I sing that part). The giant’s a greedy big shot meany, so it just worked out that it is kind of a great story for the moment we’re in. Its ridiculously fun, and the music is classic Americana. We’ve had a lot of great reactions to it as we’ve gotten ready for the release on Saturday.
TDQ: You’re also performing a live theater version of “Beanstalk Jack” this weekend. What can you tell us about that?
TS: Yes this week we get to finally perform it live. We’ll be adding theatrical elements to the show over time as we get a sense for how the audience engages, but this is the official launch party, so we are really excited to play, and we are doing the show in an incredible venue, National Sawdust in Williamsburg. The whole point is to bring families together, to celebrate through music and let the songs get the imagination going. It’s a great ride. There are some tickets still available for Saturday morning, and it’s going to be a blast, so I’m counting on some of those 80s kids to come out and bring the family.