Ok! So much to write about. First, let m e finish up my week in L.A. from last week:
There are some more moments in the L.A. Concert For America I must comment about. I mentioned that we did songs from Hairspray and that Paul Vogt reprised his role as Edna, but I forgot that I did an Obsessed with him a few years ago. So fun! Watch:
Also, I can’t believe Laura Bell Bundy showed up to reprise her part as the (original!) Amber Von Tussle considering she was preparing for her wedding…ten days away! She just got married over the weekend and said she did the concert (despite being crazy with wedding preparations) because she loves me and loves America. Yes!
Also, right after we opened the show Christopher Youngsman (who I met when he auditioned and got cast in Pageant more than 20 years ago) and Jane Lynch came out and gave us a proclamation. What was it, you ask? Well, Eric Garcetti, the super cool Mayor of Los Angeles, proclaimed the day of our concert as “Concert For America Day” in L.A.! We felt so official!
One of my favorite/most nerve-wracking moments came from the ultra-charming Wayne Brady. He got onstage right after the Sierra Club section and asked for word suggestions about the environment from the audience. People called out “smog” and “trash” and told him the name of the song he’d sing should be “Mother Nature Don’t Go.” The nerve-wracking part was watching him make up the song on the spot. But I was the only one panicking…he’s so good!
And his voice is delish. Watch:
The multi-talented Rachel Bloom from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend also performed. I can’t take all of her talents: She writes for her show, stars on it, co-writes the songs, and sings up a storm. First, we spoke about one of our sponsors, The Actors Fund. The Actors Fund is very involved in improving the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and making sure people know how important Medicare and Medicaid are, specifically for people in show business who usually don’t make much money. And speaking of The Actors Fund and healthcare, everyone in “the business” needs to use the new Samuel J. Friedman Health Center For The Performing Arts! And I mean everyone!
Here’s the deal: In the past, many artists couldn’t get health insurance so The Actors Fund had the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic that helped all of those without insurance. Well, since ACA, most have insurance so now there’s a health clinic that can serve everyone’s needs. It was created by The Actors Fund and Mount Sinai Doctors (with the help of my friend Lee Perlman). There are top primary care physicians, and they can refer you to amazing specialists for any needs. The reason I say everyone should go is because not only are the doctors amazing, but also because health insurance pays to keep it running! So the more people that go there with insurance, the more they’ll be in business and be able to help those who, for whatever reason, don’t have insurance. It’s located right on the corner of Seventh avenue and 49th Street so it’s brilliantly convenient. Don’t just take my word for it, watch Brian Stokes Mitchell, Ann Harada, and Jayne Houdyshell etc. tout it!
And on June 6 ,13 and 20, there are opportunities to have breakfast and a tour of it you can go to for f-r-e-e! Visit ActorsFund.org.
Anyhoo, after The Actors Fund shoutout, Rachel sang a song (she wrote) about her “pre-existing” condition. Here’s a video of it with special guest Seth Green as her doctor:
Our next Concert For America is in San Francisco with Alan Cumming, Kevin Chamberlin, Faith Prince, Jane Lynch/Kate Flannery, and newly announced mother/son team for Queer As Folk: Sharon Gless and Hal Sparks! Speaking of Alan Cumming, here is doing “Wilkommen” from his Tony Award-winning performance as the Emcee in Cabaret. (Watch it here.) This was on the Rosie O’Donnell show when I was working on it and while you watch, think about the juxtaposition of the sexiness of the number coupled with the fact that the show was live and they all had to be super-sultry at 10AM!
Speaking of sultry, a few days after Concert For America, I did a show with Andrea Martin to help Armenian women. (Andrea is Armenian.) I took this photo right after. Talk about #StillGotIt!
Back in NYC, I did a special talk show called a “Town Hall” at SiriusXM with Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone, the two stars of War Paint. When I interviewed Patti in her dressing room a few weeks ago she (devastatingly) told me that War Paint was her last musical. She said she knows she won’t be cast as a leading again and she doesn’t want to be on the poster in a box (AKA “also starring Patti LuPone”). Of course, I was traumatized and refused to believe her.
The glimmer of hope I got was during the Town Hall event where she mentioned that she’s “retiring from show business.” She then looked at Christine, laughing, and busted herself by saying, “Notice how I’ve gone from retiring from musicals to now retiring from show business.” So, hopefully she was just being ethnically dramatic.
If you don’t know, it’s very Italian and/or Jewish to make sweeping statement that you know you won’t follow through with. Like when my mother would see my Richie Rich comics left out and continually, day-after-day, threaten to “throw them out.” Suffice it to say, I still have them. I asked Patti how she plays roles that aren’t the necessarily characters an audience will warm up to (AKA Evita, Mrs. Lovett). She basically said you have to find the humanity and you have to get the audience on your side, basically by working your sexuality. Right after hearing that, my friend Tim Pinckney sent me this GIF of Patti as Evita which sums up her theory.
My last event of the week, I did a benefit for the Stephen Wise synagogue with Laura Benanti. It was supposed to be with Audra McDonald, but Audra got sick and Laura was the last minute replacement. She was so good and fun-nee. When she entered she told the audience “I know…I’m not Audra McDonald. Trust me, I’m just as disappointed as you are.” Then she was fantastic! Please say you’ve watched the hi-larious Obsessed we’ve done:
Laura talked about when she was cast in Sound of Music when she was 18 years old. She was the understudy for Maria and finally was told she was going on. Everyone kept asking her if she was nervous, but she wasn’t. Until she was literally doing the role. She began the title song offstage (“My days in the hills have come to an end…”) and while she was there she went into a full-blown panic attack. First, she literally tried to pull off her costume, which I’m obsessed with. It’s so baseline panic! Her dresser put it back on her, Laura finished singing offstage and was then about to make her entrance by running down the hill, raising her hands in a Julie Andrews position over her head and singing “The hills are alive…”. Well, right before she ran down the hill, she threw up! ‘Natch! Then she entered singing with her arms above her head. Her arms were visibly shaking. Then, as she sang, she couldn’t lower her arms. She finally did, but at that point, the gray dirndl she was wearing was so completely soaked in sweat that it actually looked black. Suffice it to say, it all worked out for her and she now has a Tony award.
On that note, here’s a deconstruction I did of amazing comedy moments featuring Debra Monk, Forbidden Broadway, and Laura. Watch and peace out!