Just got back from D.C. and I’m on my way to Hartford to present the new season at the Bushnell. If you’re in Connecticut, come on by!
This weekend I went to D.C. to be part of ArtSpeak, which is a great program helmed by Mark Shugoll. He brings Broadway folks to various schools in the D.C./Delaware area to encourage kids to be interested in theatre. Tons of Broadway stars have done it, like Audra McDonald and Patti LuPone, and it’s free to the public. The program has won a lot of awards and I totally think it’s something that should be done all over the place. Go see the next event and start an ArtSpeak in your town!
I Facebook Live’d it and you can watch it here:
Not only was the event super fun, they treated us amazingly well and we stayed in the fabulous Willard hotel, literally a few blocks from every D.C. monument/museum/anything you’ve seen on a postcard.
That night we hooked up with Andrea Martin and Victor Garber and saw Debra Monk and Boyd Gaines star in James Lapine’s Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing. It’s about a woman named Mrs. Miller who sang in a church choir with a, shall we say, classical sound, who then recorded three pop albums…without altering her voice. At All. You’ll see the show thinking “what a fun, entirely made up plot. Surely, none of it happened.” Then, you’ll run home and go to YouTube and see this:
FYI this got onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart and sold over 250,000 in the first three weeks. Anybody? Apparently, everybody. Get tickets to see the show here.
I had the cast of the new musical Joyce Jackson’s Guide To Dating on Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM talk show. Scott Logsdon wrote the book and lyrics, Steve Marzullo wrote the music, and the cast is hilarious. I, naturally, asked about previous onstage mishaps and Lindsay Nicole Chambers talked about one performance during her time on tour with Kinky Boots. She said the script has many lines where everyone is constantly touting the reinforced boots and how incredibly strong they are. And how “even this big, fat guy in the factory can’t break the heel”—and he broke the heel. Today is opposite day? Joyce Jackson’s Guide to Dating is playing Tuesday March 14 at 54 Below.
We’re rehearsing again tomorrow night and I totally want to add a number like “Short’nin’ Bread” (from I Love Lucy) in the show, with Kerry singing something serious like “On My Own” and me, Kevin and Roger behind her. I love this Lucy episode! Watch it here.
I also had Telly Leung on Seth Speaks and he told me that he grew up in Chinatown and his grandmother raised him most of the time. Everyone was only allowed to speak Cantonese in his house because he was with his young cousins and his grandmother thought that if they were speaking English, they were plotting something against her. ‘Natch! My ex-boyfriend is Chinese-American so I know how crazily strict some Chinese parents (a.k.a. mothers) can be. I asked if they had a fit when he decided to go into acting. Telly told me that coming out to them as a gay man was easier than coming out as an actor!
When he was deciding colleges, he visited Carnegie Mellon with his mom and one of the teachers there was also a mother. During their meeting, the teacher spoke mom-to-mom and told her that after Telly graduates he’ll still be young enough to take the MCATs or LSATs if he wants. (By the way, I wrote a note to myself on my phone so I’d remember to put that in the column and my phone auto-corrected “MCATS” to “McArdle.” Yes Broadway iPhone!)
I also had Rachel Bay Jones on the show. She’s starring now in Dear Evan Hansen and loving it. She mentioned she was on the tour of Grand Hotel back in the early ’90s and I asked if she was part of the famous birthday celebration I had heard about from other sources. She was! Here’s the (devastating) story:
One of the women in the cast was turning 30 and extremely depressed about it. Let’s call her “Ms. 30.” Ms. 30 was beautiful and incredibly youthful, yet completely down about the symbolism of turning 30. The other ladies thought Ms. 30 would realize she’s being ridiculous if they got her a special birthday cake. Well, they had a big cast birthday party and presented her with a lovely cake that had the following message spelled out in icing: “Welcome to the twilight of your career.” Thankfully, Ms. 30 thought it was hysterically funny! Actually, not at all. She saw the inscription…and literally broke down in tears! That’s always a fun reaction to know you’re responsible for. Rachel realized now how unaware she was: Rachel and the other girls who got the cake were all in their early 20s, and the image they got for the top of the cake was a “hilarious” sunset. Afterwards, Ms. 30 was seen walking around in dark glasses from all the crying. Places?
I had a brunch get together at my place and I was talking to Beth Malone about funny audience interactions and she told me about the time she did a panel with other Fun Home stars and afterwards a woman gave her a bear hug and told her how much she loved her as Pocahontas. Beth thanked her but then gently told her that she wasn’t Pocahontas…it was Judy Kuhn. I laughed about that woman, thinking how some people just don’t know Broadway at all. Cut to, I was hanging out with Keala Settle an hour later and she said “It’s like the time I gave Beth Malone a big hug and told her how amazing she was as Pocahontas.” I was like…that was YOU!?!? P.S. Keala may not have encyclopedic Broadway info, but man, she is an amazing singer! Watch her in the last Concert For America!
P.S. We just added The Chicago Children’s Choir, and TV folks like Colin Donnell from Chicago Med and Yuri Sardarov from Chicago Fire, plus all the Broadway folks. Get tickets and livestream info at ConcertsForAmerica.com and watch: