As of this writing, there are less than 80 tickets available for our annual concert to help older foster kids find homes! It’s this Thursday, February 6 at 7PM at The Town Hall starring Kelli O’Hara, The Broadway Boys, America’s Got Talent star Luke Islam, Andrea Martin, Santino Fontana, Jenn Colella, Anika Larsen, and Ta’Nika Gibson, who will be singing (without rehearsing) with Brian Stokes Mitchell! Why?
Well, she is a former foster kid who just made her Broadway debut in Ain’t Too Proud! She’s going to her story at the concert, but suffice it to say, she’s always wanted to sing with Stokes and James and I thought it would be amazing for her to end her segment by performing “Wheels Of A Dream.” But we thought it would be even more exciting if the first time she sings it with him is at the actual concert, so they’re not going to rehearse it!
Watch Ta’Nika talk about going from foster kid to Broadway actor in this great piece that just aired!
Here’s a link to the remaining tickets. (Use the code YGB for $10 off.)
Last week I had the pleasure of seeing the opening night of The Confession of Lily Dare directed by Carl Andress and written by and starring the amazing Charles Busch. Back in 2010, Charles told me that he wrote himself the role of Mother Superior in The Divine Sister because he thought he should age up a bit from playing the ingénue. Well, that was 10 years ago, and in The Confession of Lily Dare he begins the show as a teenager! And it’s fabulous! It’s such an extremely enjoyable evening and, even though I never saw his early plays performed at the Limbo Lounge in the East Village, this show has the spirit of what they must have been like. To sum it up: It makes you love seeing live theatre!
I’ve interviewed Charles so many times and he has always so many wonderful stories about his career. For instance, in the mid-'90s he was hired to write a film for Disney about witches. He wrote a treatment about a young witch going to witch school (this was before Harry Potter) and after they read it, they told him to “be Charles Busch.” He responded, “I am Charles Busch. If this were a play, I'd be playing the young witch.” They still rejected it. Next, they asked him to write something that took place in ancient Egyptian times. He wrote about a young princess like Cleopatra, who had a Scarab (beetle) that spoke to her. The Disney people called him and said it was cute but they wanted him to lose the beetle. Charles told them that the beetle was adorable and a big part of the story. They told him, in no uncertain terms, “Beetles don't talk.” He immediately said, “Hold, please. I’m getting a call. There’s a teapot on my other line.” The end of the story is: he feels he lost the job because of his need to make a sassy quip. P.S. He later found out that in the world of Disney, a beetle can talk to a dragonfly, or a teapot can talk to a plate… but, as they say in 12-step meetings, there is no cross-talk. Who knew? Besides Angela Lansbury?
On Monday, I did my concert series at The Town Hall with Patina Miller. She can BELT!
As a matter of fact, she sang “Fabulous Baby” from Sister Act and afterwards I told her I could not believe how rude it was to write a song that ends on an E vowel (notoriously difficult to sing) AND on a high E! Well, Patina then informed everyone that the song used to actually end on high F! A half step higher! I could not believe it…. And then made her sing it. Turns out, she sounded amazing! So, to be clear, I felt bad that Patina had to high note on an E…and then I made her sing it even higher. #PassiveAggresive
Speaking of E vowels, here’s my deconstruction:
Patina told us about playing the Leading Player in Pippin and how one day they suggested to her that, since it was a circus theme, she descend to the stage from high above it. Turns out, Patina is crazily terrified of heights, but she forced herself to do it. One of the things she did to combat her fear was work out like a demon. She felt that if she were strong she’d somehow be able to save herself if she fell? I guess she’d be able to grab onto a rope and hold her body up if she lost her balance.... And she was right! One night, she did make a mistake and, instead of plummeting to her death, she caught herself and, instead of sitting on the trapeze on the way down, she held herself “like Jesus on the cross” as they lowered her from above. Check out her fitness regime!
Weirdly, Andrea Martin, who did a high flying trapeze act in Pippin, is also afraid of heights! When Andrea was in the film Club Paradise with Eugene Levy, Harold Ramis, and Robin Williams, her character parasails above the ocean, and Andrea actually did the parasailing herself. However, the wind shifted while she was parasailing and they could not get her down. Here’s the scene:
She’s been terrified of heights ever since.
But when she was in Pippin she counteracted her fear by doing her own version of method acting and deciding since her character wasn’t afraid of heights, she wasn’t afraid of heights. Just crazy enough to work? End of story: Both she and Patina never plummeted and they both won Tony Awards.
I recently had the current cast of Forbidden Broadway on Seth Speaks my SiriusXM talk show. The creator, Gerard Alessandrini, told us that when the show first opened, Mary Martin came (!) and brought Carol Channing! There was a song about Mary Martin—instead of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” it was called “I’m Larry Hagman’s Mother”—and then a duet between her and Ethel Merman that began with Ethel asking the audience “How’d you like to hear me sing a duet?” Afterwards, Carol Channing’s husband contacted Gerard and told him there should be a song about Carol Channing! Gerard immediately wrote one, which I’ve always loved. It was about how Carol was constantly playing Dolly Levi—sung to the tune of “I put My Hand In There”:
Call on Carol!
She’s the one producer’s recommend when they’re producing Dolly
Either Broadway or summer stock
She’ll play Dolly Levi…from 7 to 12 o’clock!
Anyhoo, the amazing Jenny Lee Stern performed her big number from the current show where she plays Judy Garland critiquing the film Judy. Such power to her voice! And, P.S., such a great Renee Zellweger imitation in the middle!
Then, she totally surprised me after the song. She had seen an Instagram post of mine about how I never saw a keychain/mug/sticker etc. with the name Seth on it my entire childhood. So, she bought me a gift: a personalized book all about my name. In the book, various animals pick the letters of my name. Like a skunk picks the S, an emu picks the E, a toucan picks the T….and it’s for my first AND last name! I love it!
P.S. What the hell animal would pick the X? Like in Max? I should buy it for Max Crumm just to see.
On that note, peace out!
Charles Busch has been a special guest on Playbill Travel’s Broadway on the High Seas cruises. Cabins are now on sale for Broadway in the Great Northwest, Playbill Travel’s first domestic cruise featuring Kate Baldwin, Tedd Firth, Aaron Lazar, and Beth Leavel (April 26–May 4, 2020), and for Broadway on the Mediterranean (August 31–September 7, 2020), featuring Audra McDonald, Will Swenson, Gavin Creel, Caissie Levy, and Lindsay Mendez, and for Broadway on the Nile (December 27, 2020–January 7, 2021) and Broadway on the Caribbean (February 15–22, 2021), with performers soon to be announced. To book a suite or stateroom, call Playbill Travel at 866-455-6789 or visit PlaybillTravel.com.