So much to write about! First of all, the video of the “What The World Needs Now” dance remix is finally out! We all gathered in a studio and filmed together a month ago and then celebs sent in various cameos from all over the place that were blended in. Favorite moments:
1. Ben Vereen and Bebe Neuwirth in slow motion
2. Juli going into a full split
3. Orfeh riffing along with her actual riffs
4. Kevin Chamberlin’s cameo, which was filmed when we were all in Rome at the same time! (That’s in the marble lobby of our fancy hotel.)
5. Sean Hayes and his husband, Scotty Icenogle, looking so cute
6. Hoda and Kathie Lee lipsynching to Jessie Mueller’s big note
So, in terms of the Playbill cruise recap, I’m up to the final variety show. So many highlights! First of all, Brenda Braxton did my talk show on the cruise and talked about rehearsing The Hot Mikado at 890 Studios, and she ran into someone who told her they were having auditions on another floor and were looking for a “Brenda Braxton type.” Seriously! Why didn’t they just ask the original to come in? No one knows. Well, Brenda went to the other floor, poked her head in, auditioned and got the gig. It was Smokey Joe’s Cafe and she also got a Tony nomination for it! The morning she was nominated she was so thrilled and immediately wanted to tell her mom. Well, as they say, a mother knows. When Brenda dialed the number, her mother’s answering machine came on and the outgoing message was “You have reached the mother of Tony Award-nominated Brenda Braxton.” Hilarious!!!
Brenda hung out a lot with our family on the cruise, and one day we all went to Pompeii. Walking through the ruins, she passed by an Italian woman and complimented the woman’s earrings. Five minutes later, the woman who didn’t speak English, ran back to us and gave Brenda her earrings! It was so sweet! Look!
For the final show, she did a sassy version of “I’m A Woman,” one my favorite songs from Smokey Joe’s Café. Here’s an amazing video of the original Broadway production. I love how they’re doing different riffs than what is on the CD, and I also love the one random person who stands up when they hit the big chord. Watch!
Also in the variety show, Charles Busch sang a devastating version of “Those Were The Days,” and there were lots of duets, too! Laura Osnes and Lindsay Mendez sang “For Good,” James and Adam Pascal sang “What You Own,” Chita and her daughter, Lisa, sang “My Own Best Friends.” Jennifer Simard brought down the house with her signature Disaster! song “Never Can Say Goodbye” and then came the finale: the “Tonight” quintet from West Side Story.
Laura Osnes’ husband, Nate, and Adam Pascal were the Jets, James and I were the Sharks (not truly Puerto Rican, but perhaps Sephardic Jews?), Andréa Burns was Maria (which she played all over the world), Peter Flynn was Tony (which he played opposite Andréa in Europe...and then they got married!), and the final role was played by someone who knows it very well…the original Anita, Chita Rivera!
The audience FLIPPED OUT! It was so incredibly thrilling. Here’s a bit of rehearsal. Listen to Andrea’s great high C at the end and notice the one piece of choreography: the last pose!
Last week was a little stressful because I had a big show at NJPAC on Friday, but I had to be in New Orleans on Thursday with Judy Kuhn! I was so nervous I was going to get stuck down there, especially with the hurricane lurking, but I took a 6 AM flight back and got into Newark by 9:30. The show wound up being so great! It was a big variety show with me, Kevin Chamberlin, Kerry Butler and Roger Bart.
Between songs, I chatted with them onstage and loved it. Kevin talked about “second acting” Broadway shows when he was a teenager. He saw Joseph… because he was obsessed with Laurie Beechman (who isn’t?) and because the show was so short, when he got out, it was only intermission for Dreamgirls! He wound up sneaking in and second acting that show…ten times! But literally just second acting it. In other words, he’s never seen Effie sing “And I Am Telling You!” P.S. Speaking of Laurie Beechman, here’s my deconstruction of her amazing voice!
And, speaking of deconstructions, I’m doing Deconstructing Broadway in L.A. on October 29 at Largo! Visit Largo-LA.com for tickets and information.
And this weekend I’ll be at the Smith Center in Las Vegas doing two shows with Megan Hilty, then I’m taking a red eye back to NYC Sunday night so I can be at tech rehearsal for the big Hillary Clinton fundraiser on Broadway. It’s so star-studded I can’t take it! After the Hillary benefit, I’ll be doing Deconstructing Broadway on Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre, and then next month I’m doing Disaster! in London. Get ready, because I have some amazing cast members soon to be announced! On the way back from the Playbill cruise, our plane had a connection in Heathrow, so I took all these British-themed photos to promote London’s Disaster! Here’s a little composite. Blimey and peace out!!