DIVA TALK: Holiday Chats (Part I) with Blackwell, Champlin, Fowler, Fraser, Michele and Murney

By Andrew Gans
12 Dec 2008

Lea Michele
Lea Michele, the striking young actress who created the role of Wendla in the original workshop as well as the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of the Tony-winning Spring Awakening, says her favorite holiday memory concerns last year's New Year's. "I celebrated in Central Park with my family and [Spring Awakening co-star] John Groff's family. Both our parents ran in the Central Park midnight run. There were fireworks and music in the park — it was beautiful. Then at midnight the race started. His mother and brother took 28 minutes to run the 5K, while my father took an hour! It was so much fun that we're doing in again this year!"

Michele, who also received raves for her work in this past summer's starry Les Misérables in Concert at the Hollywood Bowl, says her top holiday tunes include "Silver Bells" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "particularly the original Judy Garland version."

This season will find the actress "spending Christmas with my family in the Hamptons and New Year's in Central Park. Even though I live in L.A. most of the year now, I have to spend the holidays in NYC." Michele is especially thankful this year for her family, "for their endless love and support."

Michele says she is excited for the New Year, having just finished filming a FOX pilot with fellow Broadway actor Matthew Morrison entitled "Glee." "I anticipate working on it more in '09, and I'm also filming a movie in the beginning of January called 'Holy Rollers' with Jesse Eisenberg."

And, Michele's New Year's resolution? "[I plan to] buy a dictionary so I stop asking my boyfriend how to spell all the time!"

Julia Murney
JULIA MURNEY High belter Julia Murney, who spent part of the past year being Saved Off-Broadway and another portion as Eva Peron in Evita, says, "I just love the season and its aromas and music and aura."

Murney, who will be spending the season "with family and dogs," says she is particularly partial to "the entire [holiday] album of John Denver and 'The Muppets: A Christmas Together.'"

The actress, whose Broadway credits include Lennon and particularly thrilling work in Wicked, says she was thankful this past year for her "friends and their infinite patience and love...and that Beyoncé 'Single Ladies' video and all of its parodies!"

"My [New Year's] resolution is always to travel somewhere I've never been before," Murney says, "and to have a better year than the last one...and maybe I'll figure out what I want to be when I grow up!"

Murney fans will be able to catch her as Mrs. Walker in a production of The Who's Tommy at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma in February 2009. "I think I'm doing another solo concert in March at the Zipper," she adds.

Ellen Greene in "Pushing Daisies"
photo by ABC
The vocals of Broadway favorites Ellen Greene and Kristin Chenoweth will be heard on the new "Pushing Daisies" CD. Varèse Sarabande will ship the "Pushing Daisies Original Television Soundtrack" on or after Dec. 23, according to the label's official website. In addition to the music Jim Dooley penned for the series, the 35-track disc will also boast vocal performances by Greene and Chenoweth, including "Morning Has Broken" (Greene), "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (Chenoweth) and "Birdhouse In Your Soul" (Chenoweth and Greene). For more information visit www.varesesarabande.com.

Chicago's "Talkback Tuesdays" series, the monthly post-show discussion series that launched in September, will continue in January. Following the Jan. 6, 2009, performance of the long-running, Tony-winning revival of Kander and Ebb's Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre, actress Melora Hardin will take part in a discussion and question-and-answer session. Hardin, as previously announced, will step into the role of merry murderess Roxie Hart Dec. 29. The series, according to press notes, is designed to "provide theatregoers with an exclusive, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of Chicago." Tickets for the Jan. 6, 2009, "Talkback Tuesdays" performance are available by calling (212) 239-6200 or by visiting www.telecharge.com. The Ambassador Theatre is located in Manhattan at 219 West 49th Street. Visit www.ChicagoTheMusical.com for more information.

Luba Mason, who was most recently on Broadway in the Tony-winning revival of Chicago, will release her latest solo recording next month. Entitled "Krazy Love," the new disc is scheduled for release Jan. 27, 2009, on the Sunnyside Records label. The single CD, according to press notes, "combines contemporary crossover jazz vocals with [Mason's] passion for the music of Brazil." On the new recording Mason is backed by Renato Neto on piano and keyboards, Jimmy Haslip on bass, Cassio Duarte on percussion, Sandro Albert on guitar and Marco Costa on drums, with guest performances by Hubert Laws and Mason's husband, Ruben Blades. Song titles include "Krazy Love," "From Me to You," "Lovely," "A Summer Night," "E Com Esse Que Eu Vou," "Olhos nos Olhos," "This House," "Gorgeous Fool," "Reunion" and "Xmas in July." For more information visit www.lubamason.com.

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.