Countdown to Cleveland! Yes, I am returning to the city that I flew into many times while I was a piano major at Oberlin (only this time my flight is landing in Akron, cheapskate-style). I'm doing Seth's Big Fat Broadway on April 26 at PlayhouseSquare and it's not only a return to the state of my alma mater, but it's a return to the state where I music-directed Forever Plaid back in the mid-'90s. I have a strong visual image of the name PlayhouseSquare because a few years I was cleaning out an old wallet and found a check from them that I hadn't cashed, ADD-style. Of course, it specifically stated it was valid only for 90 days but I kept looking at the front and back of the check over and over again to see if there was another section that said it was valid for more than ten years. There wasn't. If you're in Ohio, here's where you can get info and tix.
The exciting news of the week began with a Facebook posting. Someone congratulated me about being in Entertainment Weekly. Huh? There's that new "Timeline" thing on Facebook that makes it impossible to tell when a posting was first put up, and I'm constantly seeing news about an upcoming event that I then find out was posted six months ago. It's making me crazy. Anyhoo, I had been in Entertainment Weekly last year so I thought the posting was old and/or the person was one those folks who are a year behind on everything (aka my mother: "I hear they're going to revive On a Clear Day…".) I asked for clarification and he wrote that I was in the Bullseye again. Ah!!! If you don't know, the Bullseye is inside the back cover of EW and it lists "pop culture's hits and misses" for the week. Well, my new book was a hit! There's a photo of the cover of my YA novel, "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," and EW states, "All the awfulness and awesomeness of being a teenager wrapped up in a great young adult novel." So amazing! I took a photo of the bullseye (and here's the Amazon link to the book.)
This week was chock full of fun interviews. First, I met with Corbin Bleu, who's about to star in Godspell as fellow Jew Jesus Christ. I asked Corbin about his name and he told me that his parents were big fans of U-2 and his dad wanted to name him Bullet Blue after one their favorite songs: "Bullet the Blue Sky" (I was completely lost after the phrase "U-2", but I nodded). His mom allowed the "Blue" but not the "bullet," and thus Corbin Bleu Reivers was named. He dropped the last name when the family moved from Brooklyn to L.A., where Corbin studied dance at Debbie Allen's Dance Academy. He said that she has two (!) canes that she brings to class; one named Debbie and one named Allen and when you were doing something wrong, she'd give you a "love tap" (aka hit you). She's old-school. Here she is in a You Tube clip, in the signature "Fame" opening, holding a single cane. I don't know if it's "Debbie" or "Allen." Hmm…maybe it's her one named "cane"? Orfeh?
I asked Corbin about auditioning for In the Heights, and it turns out he was originally brought in for Benny because he's half black/half Italian and not Hispanic. But at his audition, they asked if he spoke Spanish and he told them that he grew up surrounded by his parents' friends, who were Hispanic, so it was very much part of who he was. They ixnayed the idea of him playing Benny and he made his Broadway debut as Usnavi, the part created by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He said that Godspell is the completely opposite in terms of staging. In In the Heights there were so many characters walking in and out of scenes and/or dancing inches away from you that it was vitally important to know your specific placement on stage. There are numbers on Broadway stages that help people know where to be during dances; 0 is in the center and then it goes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 towards the right and the left. Dancers have to know what number they're supposed to be on during songs so they don't block the person in back of them or crash into people etc. Corbin said that in In the Heights, people doing straight acting scenes also had to know what number they were on or they'd have someone crash into them! However, in Godspell, everything is pretty free-form. Throughout the whole show, he's been told to pretty much go wherever he wants. Of course, he's overwhelmed by the lack of boundaries now, but he knows he'll love the freedom once he gets into the run. Here's a section I put together for my show Broadway 101, in which I talk about the importance of being on your number and demonstrate with a little "Music and the Mirror" from A Chorus Line.
Corbin and I talked about "High School Musical," and I asked if he saw the recent pictures of Zac Efron with his shirt off. Corbin laughed and told me that he often has pool parties so he's used to seeing Zac look like that. He then told me I could come to his next pool party. When I awoke from my self-induced coma, we concluded the interview and I wished him luck on his Godspell opening. Speaking of Godspell, my latest Playbill Obsessed! video stars Morgan James who can sing anything!
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