The icon that is Brenda Braxton joins Backstage Babble today to discuss her legendary career from replacing in the 1976 revival of Guys and Dolls all the way up to the pandamndemic (as she refers to it). Hear her talk about mass fainting during the filming of The Wiz, learning valuable lessons from Vinnette Carroll, spending her birthday with Tom Hanks, serenading Peter Allen, the moment when she realized she was becoming a cat, and the impetus and interviews for her amazing book The Little Black Book of Backstage Etiquette. Plus: Harvey Fierstein, Mike Nichols, Usher, George C. Wolfe, and more! Ms. Braxton was a total joy from start to finish, and her sparkling wit and charm never fail to come through.
I am so thrilled to announce Part 2 of my episode with the amazing Broadway legend Karen Morrow. Tune in to hear her talk about a cryptic conversation with Michael Bennett, singing a love song with Gordon MacRae, how Ed Kleban begged her not to quit a show, being thrown a birthday party by Joseph Papp, watching Howard Keel flub an important line, last-minute fixes in The Selling of the President, what advice she would give looking back at her older performances, meeting with Sid Caesar under a table, duetting with Joanne Worley and James Brown, asking John Raitt for money, and why she decided to leave the business. Plus stories about Loretta Swit, Jerry Herman, John Kenley, Carl Reiner, Ron Moody, and more.
Today, I am thrilled to be joined by Broadway legend Karen Morrow, star of I Had a Ball, The Grass Harp, I’m Solomon, A Joyful Noise, The Selling of the President, Edwin Drood, and more. Tune in to hear her talk about holding hands with Nat King Cole, dating John Davidson, how Buddy Hackett broke her up onstage, having Frank Loesser as her agent, why she blames herself for Lloyd Richards’ firing, replacing Celeste Holm, watching Charles Strouse helicopter out of the MUNY, and her advice to musical theater students today!! Plus, stories about Richard Rodgers, Luba Lisa, Charles Nelson Reilly, Claibe Richardson, Dick Shawn, and more.
Today, I am honored to be joined once again by the luminous Christine Andreas. In Part 2 of our conversation, she discusses her much-lauded cabaret career as well as her stage performances in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Fields of Ambrosia, La Cage Aux Folles, and more. Hear her talk about collaborating with Frank Wildhorn, overestimating the British, sharing a dressing room with Veanne Cox, embodying Judy Garland, how she crafts a cabaret show, the meaning behind “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” plus stories about Terrence Mann, Kelsey Grammer, and her husband Martin Silvestri.
Today, I am honored to be joined by the radiant Christine Andreas. In Part 1 of our in-depth interview, hear her discuss her legendary career as a Broadway star—you’re sure to fall under her spell and see why she was one of the pre-eminent stars of the 1970s and 1980s, leading the revival movement with such shows as My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!, and On Your Toes. She tells never before heard stories about the backstage politics at Rags, why she dreaded going to work as Eliza every day, turning down George Abbott and Billy Hammerstein, finding chemistry onstage, why she believes in mystical presences, rolling out the red carpet backstage, plus stories about Agnes De Mille, Peter Allen, Radie Harris, and more.
Today, I am honored to welcome to the podcast as the second installment in our Memoirs and Rising Stars week, the fabulous Martin Milnes! Martin is the author of the new memoir Wild Card: How I Learned to Have a Friend, Be a Friend, and Finally Love My Birthday, which can be purchased here: https://www.martinmilnes.com/product-page/wild-card-signed-copy. Tune in today to hear many of the stories of Martin’s life and friendships with older legends: the secret he learned from Stephen Sondheim, why Sandy Wilson could be “very tricky,” getting guidance from Leslie Bricusse and Gyles Brandreth, meeting your idols, and the “divine madness” of the Thursford Christmas Shows!
Today, I am honored to be joined by Samantha Hahn, author of On The Roof, the recent book about Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish. In addition to playing Beylke in that production, she has also appeared in Nella the Princess Knight, and the virtual Mystery of Edwin Drood. Tune in today to hear her talk about all things Fiddler, why Joel Grey was very smart, the most exciting celebrity visit she had, learning Yiddish phonetically, plus stories about Jackie Hoffman, Sheldon Harnick, and more! Buy her book here: https://www.amazon.com/Roof-look-inside-Fiddler-Yiddish/dp/1784658642/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=on+the+roof+Samantha+hahn&qid=1618858466&sr=8-1
Today, Backstage Babble is not crazy for YOU but crazy for the wonderful Karen Ziemba, today's guest! Tune in to hear her talk about her legendary career including her long professional collaboration with Susan Stroman, how Jerome Robbins made her cry, the compliment Woody Allen gave her, playing a nun, being directed by Hal Prince, the off-Broadway show she wishes could have transferred, plus stories about John Kander, Debra Monk, Michael Bennett, and more.
Today, Backstage Babble is excited to welcome Robert Viagas, the editor of the newest theater magazine Encore Monthly. Created specifically as the premiere lifestyle magazine for theatre lovers nationwide, Encore Monthly will connect readers to the stage and to each other, with features covering what happens onstage and in the wings as well as all the places theatre fans come together - in the aisles at intermission; in living rooms and dorm rooms; and on laptops and cell phones across the country - and what fans enjoy when not sitting in their theatre seats. Robert also talks about the other aspects of his illustrious career, including an all-night phone call with Donna McKechnie, what went wrong with the musical Metro, the inside story of what it’s like to be a Tony Awards nominator, what makes a great Broadway star, disastrous interviews, and more stories about Jerry Orbach, Charlotte St. Martin, Baayork Lee, and others.
Today, I am honored to welcome legendary artist and illustrator Hilary Knight to the podcast. Tune in to hear about designing a costume for Elaine Stritch, why he had to fly to Rome for Kay Thompson, the children’s book series he didn’t enjoy working on, his three exotic influences, where the design for Eloise really came from, painting a mural for Tommy Hilfiger, Eloise’s real life room at the Plaza, plus stories about George Abbott, Irene Sharaff, Andy Warhol, and more.
The legendary and groundbreaking musical FOLLIES is celebrating its 50th Anniversary Tonight. Catch the reunion only on Backstage Babble. Featuring: Ted Chapin (Production Assistant/Historian), Kurt Peterson (Young Ben), Marti Rolph (Young Sally), Susan L. Schulman (Press Agent), Mary Jane Houdina (Assistant to Michael Bennett, Young Hattie), and Michael Misita (Young Vincent).
Tune in to hear the great stories of the original production: which song was changed but the choreography remained the same? Who always missed "places"? What were the problems with the raked stage? How did the book EVERYTHING WAS POSSIBLE come to be? Who was originally supposed to be the star of FOLLIES?
You can find the video on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGVv540I9qI&t=4577s
What better way to celebrate Backstage Babble's 50th Episode than an in-depth conversation with Broadway icon Chita Rivera, who discussed creating her leading roles in such shows as West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, and more. The stories abound: why she thought "The Telephone Hour" would never work, how Jerome Robbins stopped a standing ovation, sitting on the floor with Judy Garland, why she ended up thanking Liza Minnelli every night, almost being killed by a panther during Merlin, the way Carol Channing opened oysters, the advice Gwen Verdon gave her, and stories about Bob Fosse, George Burns, Jerry Herman, Dorothy Loudon, Elaine Stritch, Tommy Tune, Fred Ebb, Antonio Banderas, and many more! Plus, she takes us behind the scenes of some of her 9 tony nominations, a number which makes her the most Tony-Nominated actress in history.
Today, Backstage Babble is honored to sit down with Broadway actor James Dybas, star of Pacific Overtures and Do I Hear a Waltz? In this episode, hear about his friendship with Elaine Paige, why he got tripped up onstage by a guillotine, how Betty Grable insulted Ann Miller, how he ended up creating the iconic song “Someone in a Tree,” speaking Spanish with Rod Steiger, teasing Herbert Berghof, and his most treasured items (a book signed by Uta Hagen, and more.) Plus, stories about Hal Prince, Frank Wildhorn, and everyone in between!
Today, Backstage Babble is honored to sit down with Broadway actor James Dybas, star of Pacific Overtures and Do I Hear a Waltz? In this episode, hear about the fib he told to land Do I Hear a Waltz?, how he ended up fearing for his life on a hanging platform above the Uris Theater, what went wrong during his Victor/Victoria audition, why Sergio Franchi stopped him from eating garlic, why his role in George M! required sitting down to dinner with a dog, the time he streaked behind John Raitt during Camelot, what it was like being part of Jerome Robbins’ Theater Lab, plus stories about Joe Layton, Elizabeth Allen, Arthur Laurents, Pat Birch, and more.
Today, my guest is Broadway dancer Carolyn Kirsch. Tune in to hear her talk about how Elaine Stritch gave her a hotel room, why she didn't like Hal Prince, why she wouldn't dance with Bob Fosse, Jerry Orbach's poker game, how she ended up playing two roles in A Chorus Line on the same night and more stories of Michael Bennett, Gwen Verdon, Katharine Hepburn, and just about every musical theater star you can imagine!
Catch Carolyn AND I on tonight's BB trivia #2-
Tune in today for Part 2 of Barry Kleinbort. Today, we focus on his career as a cabaret writer and director, in addition to his many upcoming projects. Hear him talk about why a tape was called a “Hamlisch,” how he avoided a potential trap when working with Len Cariou, what he discovered about Irving Berlin, why he ended up writing a song about Martin Charnin, why the Barry Sisters should be more remembered today, and other stories about Kaye Ballard, Tony Roberts, Jo Sullivan Loesser, Karen Mason, and everyone in between!
TRIVIA LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCxkBNFDslg
Today, I am joined by Ed Kleban Award Winner Barry Kleinbort. In Part 1 of our conversation, Barry discusses the many musicals he’s penned including 13 Things About Ed Carpolotti, Was, Angelina, The Rat Race, Metropolita(i)n, Second Avenue Rag, Big City Rhythm, and more. Hear him talk about what he learned from Harold Rome, how he decides a property should be musicalized, why you should never assume anyone knows who you are, why he made Frank Gilroy forget the ending of his own play, and why he ended up having two months to write a show to be performed in a barge on the Seine! Plus, more stories about Penny Fuller, Joseph Thalken, Barbara Harris, Tina Landau, and others! Also, throughout the episode you can enjoy never before released performances of Mr. Kleinbort’s songs by Danny Burstein, Howard McGillin, Roger Bart, Rita Gardner, and other great artists!
Today, I am delighted to announce my episode with one of Broadway’s best comedians, Brad Oscar. Tune in to hear him talk about running through the Lyceum with a lit pumpkin, why Mike Nichols made an example of him, crying on the closing of Big Fish, how he developed “A Musical,” and more stories about Mel Brooks, Trevor Nunn, Casey Nicholaw, and everyone in between!
Today, my guest is Broadway star Cass Morgan, writer and star of Pump Boys and Dinettes. Tune in to hear her talk about re-staging a show in a day, the dangers of doing Mary Poppins, how a cathartic trip to Ireland was the basis for her solo show, and more stories about Paul Simon, Debra Monk, Kelli O'Hara, and more.
Also, hear her discuss what it was like being part of the original productions of Violet, Floyd Collins, Memphis, and more.
Thanks to logo designer and theme song orchestrator Tom Judson for setting up this interview.
Broadway's sheet music expert, Michael Lavine, is on the podcast today! Tune in to hear Michael talk about his friendships with Stephen Sondheim, Adolph Green, Hugh Martin, and more, as well as preparing Patrick Page for his Spiderman audition, helping Kristin Chenoweth prepare for Rosie O’Donnell, and what makes the perfect audition song. THEN, stick around to hear a 6-song concert which will include a song from Sondheim’s college shows, cut songs from Wildcat and She Loves Me, and more.