Entering a New Age Universe, an Interview With Mindy Fradkin
Mindy Fradkin, a.k.a. Princess Wow, has infused her “Smile Revolution” with an irresistible concept that comes straight from her heart. She wants to turn the world around onto the healing power of a sincere smile. She founded, “The Smile Revolution”, in 2005 as a means to begin to share this concept through entertainment to get the message out. Ironically, it was tragedy that inspired her to understand the significance of a smile initially. Fradkin’s father rarely smiled due to a tragedy as a child. The last time she saw him conscious, he gave her a big grin. That smile changed her life for the better. A few days later, while she was performing her one woman show, “Hat’s Entertainment,” with her designer hats she creates, for an independent film, the idea came to her that we need a smile revolution. She launched the idea on the radio on Christmas Day 2005, on Woodstock radio. Within months, she had her own radio show to promote this movement. Celebrity guests included Pete Seeger, Richie Havens, David Amram, Arlo Guthrie, who she met through Roland Mousaa, her husband at the time. Pete Seeger embraced her joyful revolution wholeheartedly. Seeger headlined her first “Smile Revolution” concert in Woodstock, New York to a sold out crowd. Below, we discussed her other solo show, “Ageless Wonders,” currently presented at the 2018 United Solo Theatre Festival. Pat McAndrew: How did you discover theater and, more specifically, solo performance? Mindy Fradkin: I was performing a one- woman improv show to promote my new hats that I designed as props, and would sell them at the end of the show. I would get dressed up in vintage costumes, colored wigs and my hats, and perform an interactive show to delight my audiences with how good they could look in my hats, while telling stories along the way. I received quite a bit of press including New York Times, Good Day NY, and more due to my outrageous costumes, big decorated hat box I carried around in NYC, and a big personality to go with it. I was a frequent guest on a radio show and co-host in Woodstock Roundtable, WDST-FM. Then I started my own radio show to promote a movement about the healing power of a genuine smile which included celebrity guests. I later began developing a TV show to promote The Smile Revolution. It was a long shot, and went to LA for a visit. My actor friends suggested that I do a one woman show and introduced me to my solo coach who became my Director in LA. It’s amazing how one thing leads to the next! So, with all that said, What inspired you to create “Ageless Wonders”? I started writing this show when I got into my sixth decade. People started talking to me differently. “Are you retired? Are you still working?” It was so bizarre, and I felt like I entered a new universe. Why is this piece important for today’s audience? Many people have a hard time getting older in our youth driven society. What is your favorite part about performing “Ageless Wonders”? My favorite part is interacting with my audience, especially with my hat performance. I have no fourth wall. What were some challenges that you faced in developing this piece? Promoting my show and balancing that with rehearsals, as well as memorizing. Promotion is always the tricky part, isn’t it? How does “Ageless Wonders” speak to other work you have done? It incorporates all my talents and other work into this piece. What do you hope the audience walks away with after seeing your show? They have a different perspective about aging for themselves, in viewing others, and smile more! “Ageless Wonders: A Grown Up Kids Guide to Growing Up” Written and Performed by Mindy Fradkin Sept. 26 at 3:30pm, Oct. 6 at 4pm, Nov. 10 at 2pm Photo credit: Philip Seltzer United Solo 2018 Theatre Row 410 West 42nd Street New York City
Pat McAndrew is a NYC-based actor, writer, and consultant. As an actor, he has performed Off-Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, and in various locations throughout New York City, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. His one-man show, REEL, was performed in the 2017 United Solo Theatre Festival and featured in the new documentary, Electronic Crack. Using his background as an actor as his foundation, Pat consults with individuals and organizations on how to communicate effectively and build deep, meaningful relationships in the digital age. He is the Founder of The Low Tech Trek, an organization devoted to discovering a better balance between human interaction and how we use technology. He is a member of Village Playback Theatre, Endless River Arts, and Svaha Theatre Collective. Pat holds an MA in Theatre from Villanova University. Check out patmcandrew.com for more information.