Happy February! I began the week at BroadwayCon doing Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM radio show. There were so many fans there. Really exciting! My first guests were Lilla and Savvy Crawford, two fabulous Broadway child stars. Lilla played Annie in Annie and Savvy is about to play young Amélie in Amélie. Apparently, when they joined Equity they stipulated that they will only play title roles. And so far, it’s worked! Lilla ended the live segment by singing her Little Red Riding song “Into the Woods.” I love her vibrato on “…but he seemed so nice.”
I also had Keala Settle who left Waitress because she’s filming the new Hugh Jackman film about PT Barnum. She plays the bearded lady and showed me a picture of herself in the movie. Turns out, she looks stunning! Seriously!!! The make-up combined with the beard is a perfect combo. I’ve never been interested in guys with beards, but now I realized I should have looked for a lady with one. I can’t wait to see the film which, turns out, is a musical and has a score by Pasek and Paul of Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land. Keala’s first big audition was in Las Vegas for the national tour of Hairspray. She investigated the songs and the show and knew she’d be perfect for one of the roles. Let’s just say she was almost perfect; yes, she could sing it, yes, she could act it, yes, she could dance it…but she didn’t quite take in the fact that she is not, nor ever has been, a black woman. That’s right, she auditioned to play a Dynamite. They basically said “You’re not a black woman” which, no joke, is also what they said to John Tartaglia when he showed up at the audition for Rafiki. If you don’t know that bizarre story, please read this column ASAP.
Anyhoo, they called Keala back (not the role she came in for) and, after eight auditions, she became the standby for Tracy Turnblad, eventually taking over the role. She finally quit the tour because she was tired of being too age-inappropriate to play a 16-year-old. Here she is showing off her amazingness—with a special appearance by Ramin Karimloo.
And speaking of the two of them, they’re both appearing at the next Concert For America on February 25 in NYC! Tix start at $30 at Concert4America2017.org. Speaking of cheap tickets, we were INFURIATED to find out, a ticketing agency is selling tix to our concert…a CHARITY concert, mind you…and exorbitantly marking up the ticket prices! And I mean really marking up. They’ve changed the $55 tickets to… $288! That’s the reverse of what I do when I say my waist is 30. When you google “Town Hall” and “Concert For America,” MULTIPLE links come up for these scammers before the real link for tickets. And all the sites that come up above the real ticket link are selling tix up to 500 percent marked-up. So, if you’re a-coming, make sure you go to Concert4America2017.org and follow those links for tix!
And look who’s performing!
Back to Keala: She ended her segment by singing a very belty version of “Bring on the Men.” WERK!
At Seth Speaks, I also interviewed Eva Noblezada, who’s about to star in Miss Saigon. A few years ago, when she was 18, she auditioned (in America) for the London production of Miss Saigon and got cast. She assumed she was an alternate Kim and would play the part once in a while. It wasn’t until she was literally signing the contract that she looked at what it said and found out she was cast as Kim! I saw her do it on the West End and she was amazing. I’m so happy she gets to play it again here in her Broadway debut.
Speaking of Broadway debuts, my other guest was Michael Xavier, who’s starred in many shows in London, including the recent Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close. During rehearsals in London, a producer told Glenn that the production should play London and then come back to Broadway. She immediately grabbed Michael and said, “I’m not going without him!” Cut to: He’s now starring in Sunset Boulevard on Broadway! He sounds amazing in the show and, speaking of sound, the production has a 40-piece orchestra. It’s so delicious to hear all of those lush string lines played by actual strings. If you don’t know, I’m obsessed with the violin and devastated that full string sections are now being reduced to quartets on Broadway or, often, just a synthesizer. Here I am deconstructing one of my favorite violin concertos…and sort of, not really, playing it on the violin.
Back at the actual SiriusXM (not BroadwayCon), I had Danny Rafinejad. (Kevin Chamberlin had introduced us and we became friends.) His parents emigrated here from Iran, and he Danny grew up in San Francisco. When he was a kid, he heard the Judy Collins version of “Send In The Clowns,” so he went to his local library to get the album of the whole show. He said his parents had Iranian values so he was not allowed to carried a backpack because carrying stuff on your back is what lower class people did. So he had to carry an attache case. So, he showed up at the library, age 9, carrying an attache case, and asked for the cast album of A Little Night Music. The librarian took in Danny’s request, looked him up and down, put his hand on Danny’s hand and stated, “You’re not ready for Sondheim.”
He eased Danny into cast albums by first giving him Sweet Charity. Naturally, Danny became hooked and being one of the producers of the Disaster! was a dream come true! He also helped us with the Broadway For Orlando recording of “What The World Needs Now Is Love.” Speaking of which, we were asked to sing it at the big rally next to Stonewall on Saturday. It was a small but sassy group of singers: James, Lindsay Lavin, Paul Castree, and Judy Kuhn. I divvied up the solos that morning and Judy wound up having the solo during the modulation. Suffice it to say, she belted the D for “WHAT the world needs now” and got applause from the crowd. I told her it’s the first D she’s belted since Chess and she then revealed she had no idea it was a D! It’s always easier when you don’t know what note it is. The video I made came out so good. The crowd was so big and the Village looks so pretty. However, as you watch it, be aware that it was SO cold out. Lindsay’s teeth were visibly chattering while she was waiting to go on! LOOK:
Anyhoo, I had Danny on the show because—since he speaks Persian—he’s been very involved volunteering to help with immigrants/refugees since the ban happened. He said it was very chaotic at JFK because no one really knew what was going on: He had to tell detainees basic things like they were allowed to ask for water and/or go to the bathroom. If you want to help in any way, go to RefugeeRights.org.
And if you wanna read some of his great/hilarious writing, click here.
This week, James and I head off to L.A. because Cornell Brooks, the president of the NAACP who spoke so amazingly at our first Concert for America, invited us to the Image Awards! #Fancy. Peace out til next week!