PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Emmy Winner Bruce Vilanch, Star of Aladdin and His Winter Wish

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24 Dec 2013

Bruce Vilanch
Bruce Vilanch
Photo by Clarence Alford

Bruce Vilanch is currently starring as Widow Twankey in Aladdin and His Winter Wish at the Pasadena Playhouse. He fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Vilanch performed at the Pantages in Hollywood and on Broadway in Hairspray and has written for the Tony Awards. The Emmy Award winner has also contributed material to the Academy Awards and "Hollywood Squares."



Full given name: Bruce Vilanch
Where you were born/where you were raised: New York, NY and Paterson, NJ. Home of champions.
Zodiac Sign:Sagittarius, just like Miley Cyrus
What your parents did/do for a living:Optometrist meets wedding planner who plans wedding
Special skills:That thing with your tongue and the cherry stem
Something you're REALLY bad at: Getting meat out of crab claws
First Broadway show you ever saw: The Vamp, starring Carol Channing. A flop to everyone but me.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? Noel and Gertie in Private Lives
Current show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: Buyer & Cellar, by Jonathan Tolins, starring Michael Urie
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "There's No Business Like Show Business"
Some favorite modern musicals: Hairspray, Avenue Q, Drood
Some favorite classic musicals: Guys and Dolls, Forum, Gypsy, How To Succeed, Jamaica
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: Zero, Merman, Coward, Bert Lahr, Gleason, Mae West, Harlow, Judy
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Donald Sinden in Present Laughter
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Anything, with enough wine
MAC or PC? Tom toms and the occasional smoke signal
Most played song on your iPod: Hey, is that dirty?
Most-visited websites: Anything with HUGE in the title
Favorite Tweeters: I twat not
Last book you read: My smartphone manual
Must-see TV show(s): Anything where somebody is trying to sell a house
Last good movie you saw: "Tillie's Punctured Romance." It's been awhile.
Some films you consider classics: Anything by Billy Wilder or Joe Mankiewecz
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Bette Midler
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Show business memoirs where people write about dead people they slept with
Three favorite cities: Los Angeles, New York, London
Favorite sport/team/player: Anything where they wear very little clothing and don't hurt themselves
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: The original cast album of The King & I -- Gertrude Lawrence!
First stage kiss: Greg Louganis, in a staged reading of Valley of the Dolls. He was Tony, I was Jennifer.
Some favorite or most memorable roles as a child or teen: Luther Billis and/or Alfred P. Doolittle
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: The day I found the bathroom mirror
How you got your Equity card: Hairspray!
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: (note where) Frankie Bradley's cheesecake in Philly
Favorite liquid refreshment: Joan Crawford water, otherwise known as vodka
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Uncorking the Joan Crawford water
Most challenging role you have ever played: King Lear in my bathroom mirror playhouse production
What drew you to this Aladdin production? Pantyhose and wigs... and the fact that Ian McKellen loves the role
Biggest challenge about this current project: Three shows a day. Is this Ringling Brothers?
Most fulfilling or fun aspect about the project: The audience is in on the joke
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: My skirt fell off on stage during a performance of Hairspray on Broadway, revealing my fat suit over my own natural fat suit. I turned to the audience and said, "Now you know why I spent six years in a square."
Worst costume ever: A heavily rented cowardly lion suit with several different families of several different species making a home within.
Worst job you ever had: An assembly line, packing vaginal cream
If you could trade roles/tracks with anyone in the show for a week, who would it be? Ben Vereen, but he cannot have my monogram
Any upcoming or side projects you can talk about? A revival of Cole Porter's Dubarry Was A Lady in San Francisco at 42nd Sreet Moon April 30-May 18. I get to play the Bert Lahr role.
Something about you that surprises people: If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise
Something you are incredibly proud of: The money and awareness I've helped raised for people with AIDS. Please don't stop giving.
Something you're embarrassed to admit: I was the same weight in third grade.
Career you would want if not a performer: Idle billionaire
Three things you can't live without: The Andrews Sisters
"I'll never understand why…" … I'll never understand.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Save!