Happy 2018! I ju-u-u-ust got back from Montana and I’m heading to Florida this Friday! Yay! And that’s a real “yay”, not my usual “yay” that I haul out after something devastating happens. I can’t wait to be in a little warm weather for a few days. I’m going down to Florida with Jeremy Jordan to do a show at the Parker Playhouse this Saturday. It’s the first time I’m doing a full show with him. I did a benefit for the Trevor Project with him and a Chatterbox and some radio shows, but never a full hour with tons of music, so I’m very excited. His voice is so glorious.
Here he is at Seth Speaks, my weekly SiriusXM talk show and please save all your insightful ‘the piano is too loud’ comments that you want to post under the video. Jeremy is using a mic but it doesn’t amplify his voice…it goes right into the what’s being recorded for the radio. And the camera mic right next to the piano so the balance is completely off. So yes! I know it’s too loud because the camera mic is literally right next to it! It’s so much work to have to keep deleting all the know-it-alls who have the amazing hearing to realize the most basic fact: the piano sounds much louder than his voice! I get it!
Here he also is singing the big Act 1 finale from Newsies. It’s on the stage of the Nederlander where he first did the show but it’s from when the Nederlander was hosting Disaster!. Someone in the audience bid money to come onstage and have him sing “Santa Fe”! It was during the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids fundraising period and he sounds great! The only thing is, it had been a few years since the show and the lyrics weren’t as readily accessible to him as when he was singing it eight times a week. But he stills sells it! And I love that when he sings “Who’s to say you gotta live and die here?” he references Max Crumm who played Scott and died at the beginning of Act 2 (spoiler alert?).
So last week James, Juli, Jack Plotnick and I all flew to Bozeman, Montana and then got driven to Big Sky because we put on Concert For America twice. First of all, we were staying in the Yellowstone Club, which is a stunning ski resort, and we had three houses between us. We were in the largest along with Vanessa Williams and family, Carrie Manolakos, and Andrea McArdle (a.k.a. the original Annie). It was so fun! Basically summer musical theatre camp in the dead of winter. We were there because we were recommended by our friend Barbara Baekgaard (who co-founded Vera Bradley) and her daughter, Joanie. They were the impetus and—together with John Zirkle who runs the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center where we performed—made it all possible. We were asking Joanie about her mom and Barbara’s mom (whose name was actually Vera Bradley). Joanie said that Vera was a sassy entrepreneur as well. At one point she had a business selling linens to restaurants and a restaurant owner chose linen that Vera didn’t think was right for the room. He insisted upon that style and she told him he was making a mistake. He replied, outraged, that he’d never made a mistake in his life. She then replied “Yes, you have…starting with that toupee!” Brava honesty? And losing a customer at the same time?
The concerts wound up being so great with numerous highlights. The number that got the most attention was Carrie’s rendition of “Hallelujah.” It basically stopped the show. She performed it in our first concert on Inauguration Day 2017 and since this was our last concert of the year we wanted some symmetry. Here she is last January…holy cow, she’s amazing:
We auctioned off the chance for an audience member to be onstage and have Vanessa Williams sing “Save The Best For Last” to them…and we wound up raising $12,000 total! Vanessa sounded great and was so hilarious with the audience person….especially at the lyric “I wondered what was wrong with you?”
Andrea has such a signature voice and sounded great on all of her songs, including two that she sang in the TV film “Rainbow.” Listen how fantastic she sang even as an early teen:
Andrea may look innocent in the clip, but she definitely was a prankster. We all wound up talking about Henry Winkler (natch) and she told us that he came to see Annie. Well, there’s a moment in “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” right at the end where little Molly is in the middle doing the classic knee-knee-up-up and the other girls are opening the arms to the side. When Henry a.k.a. The Fonz came to the show, Andrea told the orphans to do the final step a little differently; instead of an open palm, she insisted the do it with their thumbs up a la “Ayyyy!”. And I do mean “insisted.” She admitted that she was their leader and the they would do whatever she told them. I’m sure The Fonz loved it. And choreographer Peter Genarro didn’t. Here’s the actual number sans les pouces from the fanstastic Tony Awards performance. The moment is right at the end!
Jessie Mueller opened the show with “I Feel The Earth Move” and we put her first because it was the text she sent to us after the election that gave us the encouragement we needed to start Concert For America. Her sister Abby Mueller joined the concert for the first time and, wow, she’s got such a beautiful voice. The two of them did a duet at one point and, afterwards, Vanessa Williams insisted they do an entire album together. Their blend is so beautiful, it’s crazy! I’m going to have Abby on Seth Speaks this week so tune in to hear more from her and then next week I’ll post clips from the concert.
The end of our stay was very scary but we’re back home safe now: On the way to the airport, we took three cars. The second one had me, James, Juli and Jack driven by a kind woman from the theatre. It was snowing and, around ten minutes into the ride, a car coming the opposite way spun on the ice and we had a crash on the mountain. Holy cow was it frightening. If our driver hadn’t stopped the car the way she did, the other car would have crashed into where Juli was sitting in the back seat and/or we would have gone over the side of the cliff. Both Juli and James had to go to the ER but we were able to fly home that night. It was a good reminder to appreciate what you have and wear a seatbelt!
OK! Let me cleanse the palate and end with a video Jack made at the theatre; backstage was literally a school and Jack used the art supplies there to create a very passive/aggressive art teacher. I love it!! Watch and then peace out!
For more from Seth, watch his Deconstructions like the one below!