We talked with Sara Bareilles moments before she rehearsed for her Macy’s Fourth of July Special, airing on NBC. She’ll be opening the show with “What The World Needs Now Is Love,” as a riff on her feature in the “Broadway for Orland” recording. We were in a room filled with various aged Bareilleses (Bareilli?) because she was in the middle of a family reunion in NYC. Her sisters, nieces, father, etc. were all around as we chatted.
Seth Rudetsky: First of all, tell me why you’re singing the song for the Fourth of July?
Sara Bareilles: Well, this seems like the most fitting message for this moment in time, coming off of this incredible project based in the Broadway community…doing “Broadway for Orlando” with all these amazing community members and supporting the LGBT Center in [Florida] that's giving care and need to victims of this terrible tragedy. I feel if there's one thing I want to say to the world right now at this moment in time it’s “what we need is love.”
I agree. Now I know you're doing a different version of the song, but I hope there's going to be some belting and riffing. Please make it not just a mellow version.
SB: [Taken aback] Girl! I do not do mellow!
I know you don't. And I'm going to tell you how I know: During the Tony Awards there were these little performances on the street based on Ham4 Ham. You were in a group singing “Tomorrow” and you got to sing the main chorus. OMG! I've never heard more amazing belting in the mask!
SB: [Laughs] Alex Lacamoire, who music-directed that part, told me at rehearsal I was not allowed not to belt!
Yes! Did you grow up listening to Andrea McArdle?
What? Didn't you listen to the original Annie cast album?
SB: Yes! Don't ask me specific things!
Oh! So you grew up listening to “the girl who played Annie.”
SB: Yes! That's more where I exist.
I know you’re from the pop world, but you’re now in the the Broadway world!
SB: [Laughs] Yes, I'm trying! Clearly I'm getting hazed! I don't have an encyclopedic brain anyway.I can barely remember the names of my family members as you're seeing 19 of them run around. I'm learning. I'm a student of the world.
OK, we’ll start easy…What's [star of Waitress] Jessie's last name?
Close enough. Back to “Broadway for Orlando.” What was it like when you came into the recording studio?
SB: Overwhelming. Emotional. Exciting to share space with space with so many legendary human beings. First of all, I was so moved by you and James and by the incredible amount of work and coordination that was taken to put it all together. And then to step in that room and know that every one of those incredible human beings put things on hold to come and show up for this cause. I was really moved. It was amazing!
Who were you flipping out the most to meet?
SB: Well, I was standing next to Whoopi Goldberg! Who, by the way, kept saying she wanted to sing with the men.
Yes, she was singing down the octave, wasn't she?
SB: [Laughs] Yes, she was!
Did you like having the very first solo in the song?
SB: I liked it because I was like “I know this part of the song!”
I know! The melody for the middle section is hard! Did you watch the video yet?
SB: I loved it! I love how it was spliced together. I thought it was so well done [by Playbill’s Mark Ezovski]. I thought the video came out beautifully, telling the story of the day but also the story of the event. I thought that was really special.
Now that you are a Broadway composer, are you going to compose another Broadway musical? Perhaps called Waiter? Starring a fast-talking Jewish pianist…
SB: [Laughs] Yes! Written for Seth!
What is next?
SB: First a little bit of a break. Then I would love to write something else. I just don't know what it is yet. I'm still reeling from all of this. I'm just coming back down to planet Earth.
Now, rumor has it that Jessie Mueller is taking a vacation and you're taking over for a week.
SB: Uh… that's not what I heard.
Well, I literally made up that rumor right now just to see how you'd react.
But wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t you want to play the part a little bit?
SB: Well, never say never, but not today. I don't want to do it today.
What was the last role you played? Do the words “Little Mermaid” mean anything to you?
SB: Yasss, queen! That was living my dreams! It was every childhood dream I ever had coming to life!
Your next dream role would be what?
[Slowly sounding out Evita] E-vi…?
SB: [Sounding it back] E-ve-ry rose has its thorns?
SB: Evita? I don't know! Can I think about that and write you an email?
You may. Stay in touch! And thanks for helping with “Broadway for Orlando!” Every cent goes to help the victims in Orlando!