Playbill Travel is currently sailing the crystalline waters of the Caribbean on the eighth edition of Broadway on the High Seas, the luxury cruise featuring Broadway’s most elite talent performing for and mingling with an intimate group of theatre fans.
Silversea’s Silver Wind departed San Juan, Puerto Rico, February 17 with Tony nominee Melissa Errico, Tony winner Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tony nominee Louise Pitre, Drama Desk nominee Karen Mason, Tony nominee Howard McGillin, Tony nominee Tony Yazbeck, Tony nominee Judy Kuhn, Chatterbox host Seth Rudetsky, Master of Ceremonies Bryan Batt, and music director John McDaniel. The Playbill cruise is also filled with star guests, our ambassadors: Ernie Sabella, Lillias White, Lorna Luft, Kevin Chamberlin, Christine Pedi, Virginia Woodruff, Andrea Martin, and Jack Plotnick.
Though we’re only halfway through the exotic adventure, passengers have experienced once-in-a-lifetime reunions and learned dozens of behind-the-scenes stories about the magic of Broadway and the people who build that community. Here is just a taste!
For opening night, BOHS8 welcomed Tony nominee Melissa Errico to the stage. The soprano wowed the audience with her voice and her humor. The singer also surprised the audience with a performance of two cut songs from shows, including “I Saw Him Once,” from Les Misérables. Broadway’s original Cosette, Judy Kuhn, sat in the audience thinking, “I know this song, but I don’t know from where.”
Brian Stokes Mitchell reunited with Ernie Sabella
Broadway’s Don Quixote and Sancho Panza reunited for the first time since Man of La Mancha closed on Broadway in August 2003. Mitchell traditionally sings “I, Don Quixote” as part of his Simply Broadway concert, but with Sabella on board, he expanded the solo arrangement to the original duet.
The hand in the original Sunset Boulevard commercial isn’t Glenn Close’s
During Seth Rudetsky’s first onstage Chatterbox, guest Karen Mason talked about her time in Sunset Boulevard. Mason was Close’s standby in the original Broadway production and, as it turns out, she was also the actor filmed for the television spot. The hand that wraps around the banister is Mason’s.
Broadway casts need to keep it interesting
As Bryan Batt and Melissa Errico revealed, theatre people love to play and prank each other. In her production of Les Misérables, there was a golden bunny the cast would pass each other onstage, but you didn’t want to be the cast member at the end of the night who had it. (Think Hot Potato.) So someone would hand Fantine some change and there was the bunny! Batt said that Cats did the same kind of thing! He’s from New Orleans, so around Mardi Gras the cast celebrated with a King Cake. The cats onstage would pass around the baby from inside the King Cake until one day the baby fell onto the stage and into the track. That was the end of that.
Photos: Inside the Star-Studded Week-Long Caribbean Fantasy Broadway on the High Seas 8
Speaking of tracking…
Errico also revealed that the bottoms of all of the heeled shoes in Les Miz have a wing out—similar to a wine glass base—so the heels don’t get caught in the tracks of the stage.
Broadway’s original Dancing Queen is a lyricist.
Well, sort of. Louise Pitre, who earned a Tony nomination as the original Donna in Mamma Mia!, likes to do a medley of songs from the show in her solo act, but she never includes “Dancing Queen.” Why? It feels too strange to sing as a single dynamo. Pitre sang the song with rewritten words about being asked to join the Playbill Cruise!
There was a costume mishap in Side Show Alice Ripley will never forget.
Alice Ripley starred alongside (literally) Emily Skinner in Side Show on Broadway as Violet Hilton, one of the conjoined sisters. Contrary to popular belief, there were no snaps or magnets or anything attaching the two; they simply stood next to each other. Long story short, there was a quick change in the show during a dance break by the male ensemble and then doors slide open to reveal the Hilton sisters in a new costume. At the time, Lauren Kennedy was taking over for Skinner during matinees. Kennedy was a size zero; Skinner was not. They began their quick change and Skinner couldn’t get into her dress, it was way too small. It was Kennedy’s costume! The chorus boys repeated the dance break four times so that the dresser could run up to the top of the Richard Rodgers Theatre and get the right dress.
Karen Mason and Howard McGillin reunited after their almost-Broadway show.
Mason and McGillin were set to star in Rebecca together, but the production famously never made it to Broadway. The two presented a double-header, opening with “Anything You Can Do,” and sang such duets as “Friendship” and “Happy Days,” and a brand new concert designed specifically for the BOHS8 stage.
Broadway on the Rhine River in May 2017 is sold out, but Playbill Travel sets sail for Broadway on the Rhine River August 2017 with Faith Prince, Andréa Burns, Terrence Mann, Charlotte d’Amboise, Seth Rudetsky and more exciting talent to be announced. Playbill has also recently announced plans for Broadway on the Danube River for November 17. Visit PlaybillTravel.com for more information and booking.