Wouldn't you love to see hello Dolly on Broadway with multi award winner Bette Midler? And wouldn't it be even more cool to hang out backstage after the show with Tony Award-winning Gavin Creel? Well, you can do both of those things if you bid for this fabulous package on CharityBuzz.com. Two tickets to Hello, Dolly! followed by a backstage meet-and-greet with cutie Gavin Creel! Click here for more details and to enter.
Today my trip is from Europe to New York. Then I’m going from New York to Provincetown this weekend (doing a show with Tony Award winner Faith Prince!) and then I’m in Atlanta on Monday to do the eighth Concert For America!
Besides Jessie Mueller, Randy Rainbow, and Melissa Manchester, we also have Nora Schell from Spamilton. Her voice is so focused and fabulous. Here she is with JuWan Crawley in the February Concert For America.
P.S. After JuWan did this concert, he got cast in Aladdin as the Genie standby. Broadway debut!
We also just added (Tony Award winner) Lillias White. Am I obsessed with her? Watch this:
Get tickets and/or Meet-and-Greet passes, or watch the livestream at ConcertsForAmerica.com
After the Playbill cruise, this time Broadway on the Rhine River, I flew from Amsterdam to New York and, boy, are my arms tired. Literally! There were shows and rehearsals every day and I played for everyone. It was a lot of work, but the shows were so great. I wrote about Faith Prince’s show last week and I’ll tell ya about the rest:
On Tuesday Terrance, or “Terry,” Mann did his concert, which featured songs from every one of his big Broadway roles. He got his debut because he had been directed by Joe Layton in a big outdoor musical done in North Carolina, where Terry was living at the time. Terry didn’t know Joe was a director in New York as well. Well, Terry decided to move to Manhattan, and was shocked to see there was a new musical being directed by his pal Joe Layton, went to the audition and, after only two weeks in New York, he was cast in his first Broadway show…Barnum!
After he told us that story, he apologized to Faith Prince who had mentioned the night before that it had taken her ten years to get her first Broadway show. Of course, no one tops Betty Buckley who got her first Broadway show on her first day in New York. He’s my deconstruction:
Even though Terry got to Broadway very quickly, he still had to fight for some of his next roles. In the mid-’80s, his friend Dirk Lombard went to London and told Terry that there was a show there called Cats and that Terry was perfect for Rum Tum Tugger. Excellent! Terry called his agent and was informed that the powers-that-be were not interested in seeing him. How was he going to—at least—get a chance to audition for it? Well, through some high-power friends in London, he was told he could be seen…if he came to London. So, Terry flew there (on his own dime) and showed up at the theatre at the appointed time. He walked on to the stage and it happened to be during lunch, so all the dancers/singers/actors/cats were sitting and eating on the stage. The good part was that Gillian Lynne, the choreographer, was there. The bad part was she had no idea why Terry had shown up. He told her he was there to audition for Cats. She gestured to everyone onstage and told him “I think we have enough people already.” He then told her he was there to audition for the Broadway company. She agreed… but then told him that it was lunch break so there was no pianist. Ugh! How many more impediments must he overcome? Not since Job. Anyhoo, Terry told her that he could accompany himself with the piano onstage. She smiled, clapped her hands and said, British-syle, “Everyone! An American is going to entertain us!”
He sat down, played and sang “Take Me To The Pilot” and she told him to go to the New York callbacks and he was indeed cast as Rum Tum Tugger!
Here’s the music video they did in the ’80s. And I do mean ’80s.
There was a moment during Cats when Terry would run into the house and dance with an audience member. Two crazy stories: One is that Santino Fontana was doing a film with Drea de Matteo and she told him she was a major fan of Terry Mann. She then told him that she saw a lot of Broadway opening nights and she went to opening night of Cats. When Terry picked someone from the audience to dance with, it was her! Santino told Terry during the cruise and Terry completely remembered picking a little girl in the audience that night!
Terry also told us how excited he was one night to find out that Bob Fosse was in the audience. He couldn’t wait to have Bob Fosse get up and dance with him! He ran into the house during his number, found Bob Fosse sitting on an aisle and as soon as he approached, Fosse forcefully whispered “Don’t you f***ing touch me.” Brava on the directness! And, in honor of Fosse’s directness that night, Betty Buckley changed the big climax in “Mem’ry” to “(Don’t you f-ing) TOUCH ME!!!!” (That last part was a lie).
But speaking of Betty, I happened to be talking about Carrie with Terry’s wife Charlotte d’Amboise, who played the mean girl on Broadway. Charlotte told me that without equivocation, Betty’s performance in that show was the best performance she’s ever seen on Broadway. Period. If you have never heard Betty’s opening duet with Linzi Hately, here’s my deconstruction!
A few years later, Dirk Lombard told Terry that he had just come back from London (again!) and there was a great role for him in Les Misérables. Terry asked his agent to get him an audition and was told (again) that the powers-that-be didn’t want to see him! A while later Terry was walking down 46th street and ran into one of the casting directors. Terry told him that he desperately wanted to be seen for Javert and finally the casting director agreed to let him audition. But only for Enjolras, not for Javert. His agent called him a little later and proudly told Terry that he got him an audition for Les Misérables. #TakingCredit.
Anyhoo, Terry knew he was wrong for Enjolras so he went to the audition, but instead of looking like Enjolras/singing an Enjolras song, he dressed in black, slicked his hard back Javert-style and sang Jacques Brel’s dark “(In The Port of ) Amsterdam.” While he was singing he noticed he kept checking out the people behind the table and saw Sch-enberg and Boubil (the composer/lyricists) look at each other, mouth “Enjolras?” shake their heads and then nod and say “Javert!” Cut to, this moment.
The next night on the Playbill riverboat was Charlotte d’Amboise. My Dad was so excited because he had seen her father, Jacques d’Amboise dance back in the day. This is Charlotte and her brother paying tribute to their dad when he was honored at the Kennedy Center.
Her show on the Playbill Cruise was the most unique we’ve ever had. She did full out dance numbers…and I mean full out! Plus, we weren’t in a theatre, we were just in a big salon so she was dancing on the same level as the audience, two feet in front of them. She literally did the entire “Music And The Mirror!” I couldn’t find a video of her dancing but I found this Donna McKechnie one. Donna looks/sounds amazing, but it was filmed in 1980 when video editors thought it was cool to double and sometime triple images. Horrific, but amazing!
Charlotte then did “If My Friends Could See Me Now” (from her Roxie Hart days) with new and AMAZING lyrics written by her Raymond Bokhour, who is currently playing Amos in Chicago. It was about the time a few years ago when she was taken out to lunch while she was starring as Roxie in Chicago. The producers of Chicago were the same as the producers of Sweet Charity, so they asked Charlotte if she would stand-by for Christina Applegate—while Charlotte was playing Roxie! They basically explained that if Christina ever had to miss a show, which would never happen, Charlotte would take off from Chicago that night and go on. Well, lo and behold, Christina suddenly broke her ankle and Charlotte had to go on with barely any rehearsal! She took over the role full time for a while and then wound up doing it off-and-on and was always on call.
One night, she was seeing the gypsy run-through of Lennon (which Terry was starring in) and right before the show began she got a call that she had to go on as Charity. Terry saw her sitting in her seat before the show…and then leaving before it began! Another time she did a matinee of Chicago and had to go on that night in Sweet Charity. Two different starring roles in two different shows in one day. It’s a combination of the Chorus Line song “Who am I Anyway?” plus Chinatown’s “She’s my mother and my sister.”
OK…I’m only up to Day Three on the cruise. More cruise recaps next week plus scoop on Concert For America which is happening when, you ask? Monday, August 28 in Atlanta! I forgot to mention that besides Lillias White and Jessie Mueller and Melissa Manchester and Randy Rainbow and Queer As Folk’s Sharon Gless and Hal Sparks, we also have 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Norbert Friedman. He was 20 years old in 1942 volunteered for a labor camp because the Nazi promised to spare the Jews in his community. Not surprisingly, they lied and 50 of his family members were murdered. He himself spent three years in 11 different concentration camps and he’ll be at the concert directly following Richard Cohen, the president to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization at the forefront of fighting hate groups across the country. You can get tickets or donate at ConcertsForAmerica.com. Peace out!