Tonight (Monday!) is my show with Kevin Chamberlin, Kerry Butler, and Roger Bart at Feinstein’s/54 Below at 9:30PM. We’re doing it again on Thursday and, P.S., I love performing with them. We decided to do an all-comedy show because we were always laughing up a storm stage right before the opening number of Disaster! At our show tonight we’re going to talk about Roger and Kevin doing Triumph of Love, which was at one of those Broadway theatres that shares an alleyway with the Majestic where Phantom of the Opera has been playing for years. Kevin said that he and Roger would always take a break outside around 8:15PM and it wound up being during the part in Phantom where Meg (the young ballet dancer) sings to Christine. However, the girl playing Meg at that time seemed to have an excess of spit and a lack of phrasing knowledge because she’d always swallow in the exact same spot. He said it sounded like this:
“Where in the world have you been hiding?
Really, you were (swallow) perfect.”
Was the saliva build up that unbearable that it had to be swallowed at that moment? Couldn’t she have lasted one more word? The answers are “yes” to the first and “no” to the second. Click here for tickets to come see us.
I had the wonderful Ruthie Ann Miles on Seth Speaks, my SiriusXM talk show and she was so fun as usual. She’s currently in Sunday in the Park With George and in her last Broadway outing, she won the Tony Award for playing Lady Thiang in The King And I. However, perhaps she would have lost if the voters had seen an early performance she told me about: Ruthie said that when previews first began, the floor in the backstage area still had sawdust and possibly nails, so it wasn’t safe to walk around barefoot. Well, one night she came out onstage as the regal Lady Thiang and she forgot to be barefoot. She was instead wearing her offstage purple fuzzy slippers. She realized as soon as entered but then had to do a full stage cross. She was mortified. Thankfully, her beautiful period dress went down to her ankles. She simply lowered herself so the dress covered her slippers and did the entire cross with crazy bent knees. For those who go the gym, she basically did 64 small walking lunges. I got to interview Ruthie (and a bunch of other amazing Broadway stars) right after they won their Tony Awards two years ago. Here’s a video Lily Claar made, including the moment I called Ruthie Ann’s mother to see if she was (finally) proud of her! The answer? Sort of.
We’ve announced some of our amazing line up for the April 18 Concert For America and so far we have Barry Manilow, Vanessa Williams, and LaChanze! Buy tickets ASAP at ConcertsForAmerica.com. Here’s our fabulous promo video:
At the Chicago Concert For America, we had Yuri Sardarov from Chicago Fire speak. He’s originally from Azerbaijan and told an amazing story about how his family escaped and all the strangers that helped them on their journey. It’s harrowing, yet so moving. And, amazingly, it wasn’t until he was asked to do the concert that he asked for details and actually heard the story for the first time. Listen!
As I mentioned last week, we had Chicago Children’s Choir and they’re so good! I was so impressed with their professionalism (they were completely silent during rehearsal). I’m constantly chit-chatting-joking-not-knowing-what-measure-we’re-on-losing-my-music-getting-yelled-at etc, but they were all completely focused. And listen to how phenomenal they sound!
I want to have a group like this in NYC!
Speaking of Chicago, the city and the show, I was chatting with Chita last week in Chicago and she was talking about how much she loved working with Gwen Verdon. First of all, I love how people who originate roles have different names for songs. Like the time I was doing a show with Patti LuPone and she looked at me and asked “Do you wanna do B.A.?” (meaning “Buenos Aires”) and when Chita was recently telling me about “My sister and I” meaning “I Can’t Do It Alone.” Anyhoo, in the number, Velma (Chita) shows Roxie (Gwen) an elaborate vaudeville routine she used to do with her sister in a ploy to get Roxie to join her. Roxie sits and stares at her, unimpressed for the entire number. Well, after a while, Gwen really wanted to show how uninterested she was, so while Chita was singing and dancing her face off, Gwen sat there eating. A full spaghetti dinner! Gwen started to bring various meals onstage to sass Chita, but Chita said, “I got her back by showing up for the number in a big, red wig!” I love the idea of these two Broadway titans entertaining each other. Here’s some footage from rehearsal of the original Broadway show. You can see Chita doing her desperate vaudeville number around four minutes in!
Last weekend I went down to East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania to watch Notre Dame High School do their final performance of Disaster! It was so amazing! First of all, the production was excellent (they totally got the style of comedy, choreography was so ’70s, singing was wonderful, costumes so fun etc) and second of all, it was so cool to see the show done with kids. And for it to get so many laughs! Juli, James, James’ mom, Lacretta (the original Levora) and I all took the road trip together and, at the end, Naomi Naughton (the choreographer) called us onstage. The kids were so sweet and flipping out. Both Lacretta and I thanked everyone for doing such a great job and talked about how cool it was to see the teenagers doing what he had just done last year on Broadway. No joke, we were literally crying the whole time.
It was so full circle. I began doing school theatre and now a show I co-wrote is being done by schools. I mentioned that Naomi Naughton was the choreographer and she’s someone I’ve know for a really long time. We did the European tour of A Chorus Line back in the ’90s and she’s also responsible for me wearing a seat belt in the back seat. Why? Well, she was doing Cats on Broadway, she decided to “treat herself” and take a cab to the theatre. The “treat” wound up being the cab in an accident and, because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt, she fell forward and broke her nose! She’s also the reason I hate insurance companies because they constantly fought her on paying for her broken nose medical bills with amazing questions like “How do we know your nose wasn’t broken before the cab accident?”
Speaking of school shows, I got a beautiful e-mail from Scott Schauman, who recently directed Disaster! for Canandaigua Academy in New York:
“We are done with the show. I can’t tell you how great our run was. The response was over-whelming. So many people have told me it’s their favorite show they have ever seen. It’s a great show for high school students. The kids loved the characters and they all wish we could do many more weekends. Usually they want the show to end and move on, but they would have loved to keep sharing this over and over. In this day and age, humor and laughing is desperately needed. Thanks for making a show like Disaster!” It made me, Jack Plotnick, and James so happy!
This Friday night I’m in New Orleans with Audra McDonald and then Saturday I’m in Ft. Lauderdale with one of my comedy idols, two time Tony Award winner Andrea Martin! Here’s one of my favorite Andrea Martin videos. So hilarious!
And because this is how I spend my time, you also must watch this amazing belt compilation of the wonderful Josh Colley. His voice is crazy! The spin! I can’t take it!!! The first high note is an F! Watch then peace out!