The artist formerly known as Debbie Gibson -- Deborah Gibson, if you please -- feels that folks have it all wrong, thinking she came to Broadway from the pop world. "Theatre actually was my first love," she confesses. "When I was sending my pop records around to record companies, the most common feedback I got was, 'Get the Broadway out of your voice.' Most people don't realize it happened in reverse. I pulled myself out of the theatre world to go after my pop career." The teen fave rang up ten Top Ten hits ("Foolish Beat," "Lost in Your Eyes," et al.) before she debuted on Broadway, stepping into the Eponine role in Les Miz and triggering a whole new marketing concept of using celebrities in ensemble roles. Now, another first: the first star to headline Beauty and the Beast, essaying the Beauty part, Belle.
In between she did two Grease! spots -- Sandy in London's West End and Rizzo in the national tour -- and an abbreviated tour of Funny Girl, which she hopes to bring in "even if I have to pay for it myself."
Meanwhile, her Belle-ringing will keep her busy. As a mood-setter, before starting rehearsals, she took in Disneyland. "I love the way Disney makes it hip to want to be a kid again," she says. "This show is really what Broadway is all about -- a timeless story, great music, all the bells and whistles that excite audiences." Ooops! there's that Broadway-in-her-voice again.
-- By Harry Haun