Backstage Babble
Robert Viagas on Good Morning, Olive

Robert Viagas on Good Morning, Olive

November 26, 2022

Today, I am so honored to announce my episode with Robert Viagas, author of Good Morning, Olive: Haunted Theatres of Broadway and Beyond, available here:

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Morning-Olive-Theatres-Broadway/dp/1493064533/ref=asc_df_1493064533/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=564758369972&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4273849164588888770&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9067609&hvtargid=pla-1636952550220&psc=1

You can go back and hear my full interview with Robert from June 2021, but today, he joins me for a late Halloween celebration to talk about theater’s many ghosts! You won’t want to miss this fun-filled and spooky conversation.

Marc Shaiman

Marc Shaiman

November 21, 2022

Today, I am so honored to announce my episode with Tony-winning composer and lyricist Marc Shaiman, writer of the current Broadway smash hit Some Like it Hot. Tune in today to hear some of the stories of his long career, including the joy of working with Peter Allen, the disappointment of bringing Leader of the Pack to Broadway, the musical that started out as an adaptation of Stage Door, the bipolarity of working on Smash, what makes Bette Midler genius, starting out as an underage piano bar player, some of the small but important changes that Harvey Fierstein made to Hairspray, the inspiration behind Some Like it Hot, an unusual request from Rob Marshall, writing additional lyrics for The Music Man, the advice he would give to young writers, and more.

Alfred Uhry

Alfred Uhry

November 12, 2022

Today, I am so honored to announce my episode with Pulitzer Prize Winner Alfred Uhry. Alfred Uhry recently enjoyed great success with a revival of his musical Parade at Encores!, and he joins me today for a conversation about his legendary career, including what it was like being mentored by Frank Loesser, how he met Terrence McNally through John Steinbeck, when John Houseman introduced him to Patti LuPone, how figures from his childhood reacted to characters based on themselves, the art to writing a screenplay, why he admires A Strange Loop and Hamilton, the process of casting Driving Miss Daisy, why Alex Timbers is a brilliant director, the play that was about his parents, why Parade is relevant today, the dance piece that required a lot of research, and so much more.

A Note: This interview was recorded in April 2022, so all viewpoints reflect that time.

Hal Linden

Hal Linden

October 30, 2022

Today, I am so happy to announce my interview with a Broadway legend I’ve been wanting to talk to since I started this podcast—Tony winner Hal Linden. Having recently completed a successful run in Two Jews Talking, Hal joins us today to tell many of the stories of his long career, including: the role that George Abbott let him pick, how he became a non-traditional Sid Sorokin in a non-traditional revival of The Pajama Game, the Alan Jay Lerner musical he turned down, why he’s never played Tevye, the promise Lucille Ball made to him, a lesson from Judy Holliday about upstaging, why The Rothschilds is a problematic show, the dialogue he wrote for The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N, why Louis Jourdan was not right for On a Clear Day, plus stories about Michael Kidd, Sheldon Harnick, Sam Mendes, Ossie Davis, and more.

You won't want to miss this inside view into a bygone era of Broadway.

Tovah Feldshuh

Tovah Feldshuh

October 7, 2022

Today, I am so excited to announce my interview with  four-time Tony winner Tovah Feldshuh, who is currently starring opposite Lea Michele as Rosie Brice in Funny Girl on Broadway. Tune in to hear some of the stories of her legendary career, including what her research process was like for her current role, the classic sitcom that she turned down, the time she was compared to Elizabeth Taylor, why Lea Michele is perfect for “the most extraordinary female role in musical theater history,” the advice she got from Sam Levene, the irony of Rodgers & Hart, the great actress who officiated her wedding, the song that Comden and Green wrote for her, the George Bernard Shaw play she’d like to star in, and what the process was like of penning her successful memoir Lilyville. Plus, she shares her Tallulah Bankhead impression!

You won’t want to miss this fascinating and fun conversation with one of Broadway’s brightest lights.

Joyce Bulifant

Joyce Bulifant

September 30, 2022

Today, I am so happy to announce my interview with star of stage and screen Joyce Bulifant. On Saturday, October 8th, Joyce Bulifant will be performing her solo show, Remembering Helen Hayes with Love, in Rockland County. She will also be doing a conversation with Richard Skipper. You can find tickets to the event here:

https://www.nyackartsfestival.com/helen-hayes-memorial

And you can tune in today to hear some of the stories of her legendary career, including the upstaging techniques of Gypsy Rose Lee, how she got let go from The Brady Bunch, the hit movie that no one on the set was sure was funny, the directing style of Herman Shumlin, balancing dyslexia with a career in the arts, the magic of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the dance she taught Fred Astaire, how she got her part in The Happiest Millionaire, the process of writing her memoir, why Lillian Gish was like a “fairy godmother” to her, and so much more.

Simon Jones

Simon Jones

September 26, 2022

NOTE: This interview was recorded in April 2022, so all mentions of time reflect that period.

Today, I am so happy to annnounce my interview with veteran actor Simon Jones, star of The   Real Thing, Trouble in Mind, Waiting in the Wings, The Gilded Age, and so many more shows. Tune in today to hear some of the stories of his long career, including: a murderous slip-of-the-tongue by Angela Lansbury, the role that Lauren Bacall refused to play correctly, an ungracious invite from Joan Collins, his family connection to Daniel Craig, the rivalry between Rex Harrison and Claudette Colbert, how he knocked his teeth out during My Fair Lady, an alcoholic backstage ritual during Farinelli and the King, the young actor that Lawrence Olivier wanted to punch, the oddness of rehearsing with Nicol Williamson, a cryptic answer from Tom Stoppard, running the theater company TACT, the many reunions involved in The Gilded Age, his strange experience with Covid, and so much more. You won’t want to miss this episode with a delightfully funny gentleman of the theater.

Constance Towers

Constance Towers

September 1, 2022

Today, I am so happy to announce the release of my  interview with star of stage and screen,  Mrs. Anna herself, Constance Towers. Tune in today to hear some of the stories of her legendary career including: the sage advice that John Wayne gave, the scene that George Abbott wouldn’t direct, why Yul Brynner insisted on brown dressing rooms, dealing with “The King” onstage and off, the song that was the hardest to memorize, the role that she turned down, the film director that would shoot off a gun to get attention, how she began her charitable organization Project Connie, why she didn’t think she was right for her role in Showboat, her relationship with Richard Rodgers, the role that she performed the most times, working with Lillian Gish, the genius of John Ford, and so much more.

54 Below: https://54below.com/events/charles-kirschs-backstage-babble-live/

David Jackson

David Jackson

August 20, 2022

I am so happy to announce my episode with veteran performer David Jackson. David Jackson will be headlining at 54 Below on August 23rd. Tickets to see his wonderful show are available here:

https://54below.com/events/david-jackson/

Meanwhile, you can tune in today to hear some of the stories of David’s career, including: bearing witness to the start of the Easter Bonnet Competition, getting to perform onstage with Cyd Charisse, the two people who were supposed to headline La Cage on Broadway when it closed, the different ways that Grand Hotel can be interpreted, why Tommy Tune is a great collaborator, the reason he stopped dancing on Broadway, why his Broadway career made him a good salesman, the process of creating his upcoming show, and so much more!

You won’t want to miss this conversation with a true man of the theater—and you won’t want to miss his show.

Will Roland

Will Roland

August 14, 2022

Today, I am so happy to announce my new episode with  Broadway star Will Roland, who is  currently appearing in the hilarious The Panic of ’29 at 59E59 Theaters. You can purchase tickets for that show here:

The Panic of '29

Tune in today to hear some of the stories of Will’s career, including the changes in the tone of Dear Evan Hansen, the reason why Jeremy Heere is a universally relatable character, why all of social media is a “performance,” why adult audiences were pre-disposed against Be More Chill, the non-Cinderella story of The Black Suits, making a difference in the world through theater with The Bus, the type of comic role that he would like to play next, and more.

You won’t want to miss this honest but humorous conversation about how social media and theatrical success intersect in the modern day, featuring someone who has been part of two fascinating examples.

54 Below

Sandy Duncan

Sandy Duncan

August 2, 2022

Today, I am so honored to announce my episode with legendary Broadway performer Sandy Duncan, the star of Peter Pan, The Boy Friend, Chicago, and so many more shows on stage and on screen. Tune in today for an in-depth interview featuring many of the stories of her legendary career, including the eerie dream she had before the Tony Awards, why she dubs Finding Neverland “Never Never Never Never Land,” the challenges of taking on the role of Peter Pan, the unusual audition song she used early on, her accident during the run of Chicago, a difficult demand from Agnes DeMille, the condition on which she agreed to take over Valerie, what it’s like partnering with Gene Kelly, and the type of role that would make her come back to Broadway.

You won’t want to miss this conversation with one of the most talented triple threats in the industry.

Trivia Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O-Xnecg2ro

Jonathan Hadary

Jonathan Hadary

July 21, 2022

Today, I am so happy to announce my episode with veteran actor Jonathan Hadary, who starred on Broadway in Gypsy, Guys and Dolls, Torch Song Trilogy, and so many more shows. Jonathan can currently be seen in the wonderful play Epiphany at Lincoln Center, running through July 24. Tickets for that can be found here:

 

Epiphany

 

Tune in today to hear him tell some of the stories of his legendary career, including the varying reactions he got to the original Assassins, why his first trip to New York made him think he could be on Broadway, the long audition process for Torch Song Trilogy, a way that Gypsy could be re-imagined, why Epiphany took on more significance during the pandemic, and so many more.

Teri Ralston

Teri Ralston

July 17, 2022

Today, I am so thrilled to announce my episode with Company’s original Jenny, Teri Ralston, whose many other credits include A Little Night Music, The Baker’s Wife, and more. Tune in today to hear some of the stories of her legendary career, including the original problem with the pot scene in Company, why Michael Bennett was an unusual choreographer, the three shows she saw and knew she had to be in, the meaning of the Greek chorus in A Little Night Music, the perfect way to sing the ending of “Send in the Clowns,” how Peggy Lee decorated her apartment, the saga of The Baker’s Wife that ended in a physical fight, the director that made her cry, and so much more.

Barbara Barrie

Barbara Barrie

July 15, 2022

Today, I am so happy to announce my episode with my  second guest this week to have starred in the original cast of Company: its original Sarah, Barbara Barrie, whose other credits include The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Torch Song Trilogy, and Signficant Other. Tune in to hear some of the fascinating stories of her long career, including the battle she had with Hal Prince and Equity over Original Cast Album: Company, the part she turned down but later got to replace as, the Neil Simon show in which she felt her part was undeveloped, the challenges of balancing motherhood and acting, the difference between Art Carney and Hector Elizondo as co-stars, how she landed her Broadway debut, the differences between starring on stage and screen, the “total disaster” that was The Selling of the President, how she almost got held in a mental asylum while researching a part, acting with Tony Randall on The Odd Couple: Together Again, working with Barbara Baxley on A Little Night Music, what would make her come back to Broadway now, and so much more.

You won’t want to miss this fascinating look into the Golden Age of Broadway with one of its most skilled actresses.

Donna McKechnie

Donna McKechnie

July 12, 2022

Today, I am so happy to announce my episode with Broadway legend Donna McKechnie, star of A Chorus Line, On the Town, State Fair, Promises, Promises, and Company. Tune in today to hear her share some of the insights of her legendary career, including the difference between Bob Fosse and Michael Bennett, the replacement of the choreographer in How To Succeed, touring with Ethel Merman, the story of her iconic “Tick Tock” dance, the many versions of Cassie that were proposed along the way, the monologue she had that was cut from A Chorus Line, tricks for surviving New York in the 70s, choreographing Sondheim: A Musical Tribute, dancing on TV in Hullabaloo, and so much more.

 

You won’t want to miss this fascinating conversation with a star whose dancing epitomizes the Golden Age of Broadway.   

Lesli Margherita

Lesli Margherita

July 10, 2022

Today, I am so honored to announce my episode with a Broadway star who I’ve been a fan of as long as I’ve loved theater, the one and only Queen Lesli—Lesli Margherita. Lesli is currently appearing at BroadwayCon through July 10, Broadway’s fan convention featuring unmissable panels and performances. You can find tickets to it here: https://www.broadwaycon.com/

Tune in today to hear her tell some of the stories of her legendary career, including why Matthew Warchus is a great director, the challenges of developing a cabaret called All Hail the Queen, being a positive influence on social media, why Dames At Sea couldn’t attain the success it deserved, the upcoming revival of Dames At Sea, moving to NYC in 2013, auditioning for Kenny Ortega, her go-to audition songs, the Patti LuPone role she would love to play, and so much more.

Ken Waissman

Ken Waissman

July 2, 2022

Today, I am so happy to announce Part 2 of my celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Grease,  featuring its producer, Ken Waissman. In addition to Grease, Ken Waissman’s other producing credits include Agnes of God, Torch Song Trilogy, and more. But before you listen, make sure to purchase Ken’s new book Grease: Tell Me More, Tell Me More: Stories from the Broadway Phenomenon, which can be found here:

 

Purchase Tell Me More, Tell Me More

 

But first, tune in today to here fascinating stories including: the theater on Broadway that Ken named, the strategies he used to launch Grease at the beginning, the process of persuading Harvey Fierstein to bring Torch Song to Broadway, firing Lee Remick, the ways in which The Andrews Sisters tortured each other, ridiculous demands from David Merrick, why Over Here couldn’t go on the road, why he decided to leave the business, and so much more!

 

You won’t want to miss this episode with a true man of the theater.

Tom Moore

Tom Moore

June 26, 2022

Today, I am so excited to announce the first part of my celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Grease with it’s original director Tom Moore. In addition to Grease, Tom Moore’s Broadway credits include ‘Night, Mother, Over Here, and Frankenstein. If you want to hear even more about the creation of Grease, make sure to purchase the recently released book Grease, Tell Me More, Tell Me More: Stories from the Broadway Phenomenon That Started it All, coauthored by Tom Moore, Ken Waissman, and Adrienne Barbeau. You can find it here:

 

Purchase the Book

 

But first, tune in today to hear some of the stories of Tom’s amazing life and career, including: why Frankenstein never got its chance, the stars he thought were dead before he worked with them, his initial hesitance to accept Grease, the art to meeting with Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, why he wanted to revive Once in a Lifetime, the show he feels was the best work he ever did, the idea he never used for the film of ‘Night, Mother, the two shows he thinks weren’t right for Broadway, the perfect pairing of stars for Moon Over Buffalo, and so much more.

 

You won’t want to miss this masterclass in directing peppered with fantastic anecdotes.

Charles Flateman

Charles Flateman

June 19, 2022

Today, I am so thrilled to announce my interview with the executive director of the Shubert Organization Charles Flateman. Charles is also the chairman of the board of NYC and Company, the CEO of Audience Rewards, and the co-founder of Broadway Inbound. Tune in today to hear some of the insights of his great career, including how theaters are assigned to different shows, Bette Midler’s special dressing room demand, what Elaine Stritch was like to work with, the unfortunate case of The Scottsboro Boys, how Broadway ticket prices are set, the “lift-and-shift” process of ticketing The Music Man, how he first became aware of Covid, the reason behind the naming and renovation of the James Earl Jones Theatre, and so much more. You won’t want to miss this fascinating conversation with one of Broadway’s producing insiders.

Jill O’Hara

Jill O’Hara

May 28, 2022

Today, I am so honored to announce my episode with Tony Nominee Jill O’Hara, whose many stage credits include starring in the original productions of Promises, Promises, George M!, and Hair. She shares so many of the stories of her wonderful career, including standing her ground with David Merrick, a funny encounter with Kristin Chenoweth, giving a note to Tom Bosley, the differences between the off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Hair, growing up in a theatrical family, why every copy of The New York Times once had to be taken out of Stockbridge, the song that was cut from Promises, Promises, the new cabaret show she is developing, and so much more.

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