Backstage Babble
#81-APPLAUSE Reunion!!

#81-APPLAUSE Reunion!!

September 25, 2021

Today, I am so excited to bring you the audio version of my recent reunion of the 1970 hit show APPLAUSE, which is available in full video with photos included here:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ex5cr3T7ASc

 

Participants include Tony Winner and Broadway Legend Len Cariou, Previous Guests Penny Fuller, Lee Roy Reams, Brandon Maggart, and Susan L. Schulman, 9-Time Tony nominated Lighting Designer Ken Billington, Arranger and Orchestrator Mel Marvin, and dancers Michael Misita, Marilyn D'Honau, and Patti D'Beck.

 

Wonderful stories abound about the creation of this legendary musical.

#80-Julie Budd

#80-Julie Budd

September 13, 2021

Today, I am so thrilled to announce my episode with the fabulous Julie Budd! She started at the age of 11 in the Catskills, and since then has performed at the Kennedy Center, Caesar’s Palace, Birdland, and many other illustrious venues. She also has made many notable appearances on Broadway and in Hollywood. And today, she joins me on Backstage Babble to tell some of the stories of her legendary career, including: conversing with a pantsless George Burns, the advice Frank Sinatra gave her, doing homework in Ed Sullivan’s apartment, the philosophy of Bob Hope, why she thought everyone on Broadway was crazy, getting discovered by Herb Bernstein, Marvin Hamlisch’s odd sleeping habits, why working for Disney was the highlight of her life, and so much more.

#79-Ethan Mordden

#79-Ethan Mordden

September 9, 2021

Today, I am so excited to announce my episode with one of the foremost theater historians and one of my personal heroes, the great Ethan Mordden. You may know his legendary decades series or his myriad other books, but today we are here to talk about his newest release, Pick a Pocket or Two: A History of British Musical Theatre. The book is a must-read and can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Pick-Pocket-Two-History-British/dp/0190877952/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= Mr. Mordden tells quite a few tales on today’s episode, including watching a sedentary Elaine Stritch, a brilliant change by Alan Jay Lerner, a shocking fact about Eva LeGallienne, how Oliver revitalized the British musical as a form, performing his own songs for Richard Rodgers, the differences between Gilbert and Sullivan, how a Madame Tussaud’s wax dummy opened a musical, why he doesn’t conduct interviews for his books, and the shows he classifies as pop operas (some may surprise you). Plus Ivor Novello, Susan Johnson, Charlie Stemp, and more!

#78-Nancy Dussault Part 2

#78-Nancy Dussault Part 2

September 1, 2021

I am so happy to release today Part 2 of my episode with the amazing Nancy Dussault, where she talks about the latter half of her career, including Into the Woods and Side By Side By Sondheim, plus Too Close For Comfort, Good Morning America, and more. The stories abound once again: her quintessential New York experience, hectic times on the sets of Barney Miller and Mad About You, how doing the weather on TV turned into an unplanned comedy routine, why Ted Knight could be very controlling, how she found the character of the Witch, why she forgot where she was one night on the stage of the Martin Beck Theater, her involvement with the show Cabaret, plus Dick Van Dyke, Hermoine Gingold, Stephen Sondheim, and more!

Find PICK A POCKET OR TWO: https://www.amazon.com/Pick-Pocket-Two-History-British/dp/0190877952

#77-Nancy Dussault Part 1

#77-Nancy Dussault Part 1

August 29, 2021

I am so thrilled today to announce Part 1 of my episode with Broadway star and Tony Nominee Nancy Dussault. She’s done it all: from starring on Broadway in Do Re Mi, The Sound of Music, and Bajour, to her memorable appearances on screen in Too Close for Comfort, The In-Laws, and more. In this candid and funny conversation, she shares just some of the stories of her amazing career. Those include a quip from Judy Garland, how Garson Kanin made her cry, why she felt uncomfortable around Richard Rodgers, why it’s so rare to be a Broadway star, the art of putting together a cabaret act, watching her name go up on a marquee, the brilliance of Joseph Papp and John Kenley, the kindness of Lady Bird Johnson, the one project of hers she would love to see a video of, her signature audition songs, compliments from Lena Horne and Jule Styne, plus Liza Minnelli, Marc Blitzstein, Burton Lane, and more!

#76-The Cast and Creative Team of THE SIXTH REEL

#76-The Cast and Creative Team of THE SIXTH REEL

August 19, 2021

I am so happy to be joined for today’s episode by the cast and crew of the new film THE SIXTH REEL: co-writer, co-director, and star Charles Busch, co-writer and co-director Carl Andress, and actor Doug Plaut. The movie premieres at OutFest in LA today, August 19th, and streams online through the 22nd. It is a fabulous movie which you can find tickets for here: https://outfestla2021.com/the-sixth-reel/. But before you watch, listen to all the behind-the-scenes stories only on Backstage Babble. They talk about the rocky road to getting the movie produced, how the idea evolved from 2012 until now, ideas from other cast members, how they explain the positive response so far, the way they all got interested in classic movies, hidden easter eggs, Covid precautions, virtual casting, the editing process, and more. You can also find stories about cast members Margaret Cho, Julie Halston, Tim Daly, and Heather MacRae, plus Edie Adams and more!

#75- Brandon Maggart Part 2

#75- Brandon Maggart Part 2

August 16, 2021

I am so happy to announce Part 2 of my episode with Broadway legend Brandon Maggart. He discusses the second half of his amazing career with me, including: how he almost missed a performance of Lorelei, the machinations of Carol Channing, the reason One Night Stand didn’t play well to audiences, the most touching audience response he ever received, how a nightclub performance led to Sesame Street, the TV show he almost originated (hint: it happens every Saturday night), playing a trick on Howard Keel, and the Broadway show he contributed to. He also opens up about his struggle with addiction and the loss of his daughter. Brandon is inspiring, thoughtful, funny, wise—-truly one of a kind. You can’t miss this!

#74-Brandon Maggart Part 1

#74-Brandon Maggart Part 1

August 9, 2021

On August 4th, Backstage Babble celebrated its 1st anniversary. And I can’t think of a better way to kick off Year #2 than my conversation with Broadway legend Brandon Maggart, of Applause, Lorelei, and so many more. In Part 1 of our conversation, he tells some of the stories of his long career, including: his unusual audition for Kelly, an accident at Radio City Music Hall, why Lauren Bacall did not get along with stagehands, obnoxious comments by Leonard Sillman and Robert Klein, the starring role he turned down, a moving moment with Anita Gillette, an onstage mistake by Arlene Dahl, how Lee Roy Reams covered for him at the Cherry Lane, having to fire his future wife, plus stories about Helen Gallagher, Karen Morrow, John Cullum, and more! Through the lens of his own career, Brandon also offers helpful insights for young performers.

#73-Alan Bergman

#73-Alan Bergman

July 26, 2021

As Backstage Babble approaches it’s year anniversary, I will be airing some of the episodes that best exemplify what I have been trying to do with this podcast. And certainly my conversation with the legendary Alan Bergman fits in that category. At 95, he was able to offer incredible wisdom and stories that are a must-hear for younger generations. He shares the secret to movie scoring, how Fred Astaire made an exception for him, Frank Sinatra’s nickname for him, the unusual prompt that led him to “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?,” which comes first: the lyrics or the music, the secret to his long-lasting partnership with his wife, Marilyn Bergman, how the idea for Something More! Came about, his musical influences growing up, and the two books every young songwriter must read. Plus: Norman Lear, Barbra Streisand, Michel LeGrand, and more!

#72-Christine Pedi

#72-Christine Pedi

July 19, 2021

After a short break, Backstage Babble is BACK, and I am so proud to present my episode with the extraordinarily talented singer, actress, and comedian Christine Pedi. With a career spanning three Broadway shows, a daily radio show on Sirius XM, long-running stints off-Broadway in two hit parody shows, several York Theater revivals, appearances on quite a few hit TV shows, and an ever-growing cabaret career, how could she not have stories to tell? Tune in to hear her talk about how she surprised her parents with her role in Chicago, the Forbidden Broadway skit that she suggested, the magic of Alvin Colt, the advice Jerry Herman gave her, getting compliments from Helen Gurley Brown, imitating Suze Orman to Suze Orman, the logistics of putting together a radio show, how Act One affected her Father, and what she hopes everyone will have learned from Covid. Plus: Angela Lansbury, Gerard Alessandrini, Rick Crom, Fran Weissler, and more!

#71-Ken Page

#71-Ken Page

July 1, 2021

For the last episode of Backstage Babble’s Pride Month, I welcome Broadway legend Ken Page, star of Cats, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Guys and Dolls, and more, as well as a regular actor at the St. Louis MUNY for over 25 years. His on-screen appearances include The Nightmare Before Christmas, Torch Song Trilogy, and Dreamgirls. On July 1 (because Pride should continue to be celebrated throughout the year), hear him share some beautiful words about his coming out journey and what the concept means to him. Plus, lots of showbiz stories: the moment in Cats that he created, what was missing in the revival of Ain’t Misbehavin’, the joke that Abe Burrows taught him how to land, how a cabaret medley got him a role in The Wiz, getting an early lesson on how to cry, the favorite award he’s ever won, being introduced by Gillian Lynne, plus Harvey Fierstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Nell Carter, and more!

#70-Steven Brinberg

#70-Steven Brinberg

June 27, 2021

For the penultimate installment in Backstage Babble’s Pride Month, I could not be more thrilled to welcome the amazing Steven Brinberg. As the premiere Barbra Streisand impersonator, he has performed in such venues as the Kennedy Center and Avery Fisher Hall, plus on Broadway with the concert of Funny Girl. Today, he joins me to tell some of the stories of his amazing career: how he edited Terrence McNally, making quips and eating ice cream with Marvin Hamlisch, competing offers from Barbra and Bette, a disappointing appearance with Rosie O’Donnell, writing a song with Stephen Sondheim, how Barbra sometimes takes his suggestions, what his dream show would be (hint: in Las Vegas, and directed by the lady herself!), and what makes Barbra a gay icon. Plus: Diana Rigg, Lainie Kazan, Jerry Springer, and more!

#69-Jason Graae

#69-Jason Graae

June 25, 2021

Today, I am so excited to welcome the extraordinarily funny Jason Graae to the podcast. He has put smiles on the faces of anyone who’s ever seen him perform, be it on Broadway in Stardust and Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up, off-Broadway in Forever Plaid and Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, or on screen! Tune in to hear him talk about his legendary career, including: a cryptic comment from James Lapine, his two favorite Friends, getting comedy advice from Jerry Herman, how Jose Ferrer messed up his debut, the show that Vicki Lewis misjudged, teasing Thommie Walsh, imitating Ken Jennings, changing the plot of Camelot, and more! Plus his imitations of William Finn, Karen Morrow, and Valerie Cherish!

#68-Lawrence Leritz Part 2

#68-Lawrence Leritz Part 2

June 21, 2021

I am so happy to be joined again by the legendary Lawrence Leritz. In the second part of our conversation, he discusses his choreographic and singing career, including getting career tips from Patti LaBelle, a call from Jimmy Carter, being manipulated by Berry Gordy, speaking Hebrew with Herschel Bernardi, setting up a dance between Beverly Sills and Peter Martins, and doing comedic dancing with Harvey Keitel and Carly Rae Jepsen! Lawrence is a man of the theater through and through, and you can’t miss his enthusiasm about or dedication to his craft.

#67-Lawrence Leritz Part 1

#67-Lawrence Leritz Part 1

June 20, 2021

I am so happy to be joined today by the amazing dancer, choreographer, actor, and producer Lawrence Leritz. With the amount of varied and prestigious projects he has been a part of, it’s no wonder that our conversation turned into two parts! Tune in today to discuss the movie that Bob Fosse got him, his brief involvement with the American Dance Machine, Alvin Ailey’s wild lifestyle, yawning in front of Alexandra Danilova, the problem with the Uris/Gershwin Theater, getting picked from a dance class by Sir Frederick Ashton, bonding with Tommy Tune, and more!

#66-Tony Sheldon Part 2

#66-Tony Sheldon Part 2

June 17, 2021

Here it is: Part 2 of my conversation with the brilliant Tony Sheldon! Tune in today to hear him discuss his New York career, including roles in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Amelie on Broadway, Charles Busch’s Cleopatra, and The Band Wagon at Encores. Stories abound: A false promise from the Weisslers, giving suggestions to Charles Busch, how Beth Leavel helped him at the Tony Awards, his cut number from Priscilla, an odd backstage visit from Cloris Leachman, the Encores! show he had to turn down, why he thought Amelie on Broadway was a mistake, and living in Audra McDonald’s basement. Plus: Roger Rees, Jordan Roth, Jerry Mitchell, Shirley MacLaine, and more!

#65-Tony Sheldon Part 1

#65-Tony Sheldon Part 1

June 15, 2021

I am so happy to be joined for the latest installment in Backstage Babble’s Pride Month series by international musical theater star Tony Sheldon. His immense body of work in Australia including starring roles in productions of TORCH SONG TRILOGY, I HATE HAMLET, INTO THE WOODS, PRIVATE LIVES, FALSETTOS, MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, COMPANY, THE SISTERS ROSENSWEIG, NOISES OFF, ONCE IN A LIFETIME, and more. Today he talks about all of that and more in Part 1 of the in-depth conversation. Hear him talk about singing on TV at the age of 7, growing up with performing legends Toni Lamond (his mother) and Helen Reddy (his aunt), how he accidentally exposed the homophobia of a major casting agency, why it took a bomb scare to meet Harvey Fierstein, Cyd Charisse’s unexpected shortcoming, why The Producers was “a nightmare,” the basic history of Australian musical theater, plus stories about Yvonne DeCarlo, Bob Fosse, Mel Brooks, and more.

#64-Peter Harvey

#64-Peter Harvey

June 12, 2021

For the second episode of Pride Month, I welcome the designer of the original production of one of the most seminal gay works, The Boys in the Band. Among his numerous other credits include Dames At Sea, The Mad Show, Johnny Johnson, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, and more. Tune in to hear him talk about why Lotte Lenya wouldn’t fire Jose Quintero, how Joe Papp ruined a show in Philadelphia, how Shelley Winters tried to sabotage Carol Kane, how Mart Crowley came to appreciate his set, creating the iconic design for Dames at Sea, the hardest Broadway theater to design for, why Lee Strasberg had no creative vision, plus stories about Richard Gere, Tallulah Bankhead, Bernadette Peters, and so many more.

#63-Celebrating 500 Episodes of BEHIND THE CURTAIN

#63-Celebrating 500 Episodes of BEHIND THE CURTAIN

June 7, 2021

Today, I am honored to present to you the interview I did with Rob W. Schneider and Kevin David Thomas, hosts of the hit theater podcast Behind the Curtain (https://broadwaypodcastnetwork.com/podcast/behind-the-curtain/) to celebrate their amazing accomplishment of having over 500 episodes now available for listening. They are certainly masters in the field of podcasting, so I was a little intimidated to turn the tables on them, but it turned out to be a LOT of fun! Listen to the episode above or on their podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/podcast-crossover-backstage-babbles-charles-kirsch/id1080144159?i=1000524446082

 

And then go hear their interviews with Nathan Lane, Lainie Kazan, Matthew Broderick, Charles Strouse, Victor Garber, and so many other musical theater legends.

#62-Grover Dale

#62-Grover Dale

June 4, 2021

This is the first episode of Backstage Babble’s Pride Month, a series of enlightening conversations with LGBT artists whose careers span over 60 years of gay Broadway history. And what better way to kick it off than an interview with a legend like dancer/choreographer Grover Dale. He has lent his talents to such shows as West Side Story, Sail Away, The Magic Show, Li’l Abner, Rachael Lily Rosenbloom, and more and he discusses it all today on Backstage Babble. Hear him talk about dancing with Gene Kelly, the Broadway hit he almost turned down, the Jerome Robbins’ Broadway that never was, volunteering to swim with Esther Williams, getting a dressing room visit from Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich, playing poker with Tommy Steele, plus his relationships with Elaine Stritch, Anthony Perkins, Anita Morris, and Larry Kert. You won’t want to miss this.

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