Well, our Roman epic has come to an end after three short weeks and what a joy it was. The most wonderful company, a great script and, of course, at the head of it all a New York legend, the great Charles Busch.
I know I'll stay friends with all these ratbags, such as the divine Jen Cody and super hunk Joe Zaso.
Lots of celebs came to see us in the tiny Theatre For The New City including Tommy Tune, Bette Midler, Joyce Van Patten, Phyllis Newman, Robert Osborne (host of Turner Classic Movies on TCM), Howard McGillin, Barbara Barrie, Amanda Green, Joanna Merlin, Douglas Carter Beane, and an actress I have absolutely worshipped since I was a callow youth, the fabulous Lee Grant.
After the show we talked for ten minutes before she realized I'd been in the play she just watched. I suppose it's a tribute to my Lon Chaney-esque transformations but strange nonetheless. likewise,
Bette Midler congratulated me on my performance without any sign of recognition that I'd been in PRICILLA, the same show she produced on Broadway. When I told her, she asked me what part I played. I really must stop being so....incognito.
We were also given wonderful caricatures by the gifted John Carter Wolfe
One of my favorite moments backstage was when Charles suddenly remembered he hadn't combed out a wig he wears towards the end of the show. He frantically hunted for a wig stand then suddenly called to Andy Halliday (who played the Soothsayer) to put the wig on his head.
The result was a cross between Edie Adams, Jill St. John and Didi Conn.
Goodspeed Musicals continues its commitment to innovative, thought-provoking works with a bold reimagining of the witty and ridiculous The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd. The tremendously talented cast of four will be Tony Sheldon playing the role of Sir, Caesar Samayoa appearing as Cocky, Michelle Aravena as The Kid, and Gregory Treco as The Stranger.
In a world turned upside down, a rag-tag group relies on humor, song and dance to try to build a new life. But can show tunes and music hall merriment revive the human spirit? On the highway of life, hope is just around the bend in this arresting reinvention of the vivacious Broadway hit. Their world may have ended, but songs like "Who Can I Turn To?," "The Joker," "Feeling Good" and "A Wonderful Day Like Today" echo on, welcoming new love and another dawn. The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd features book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.
Tony Sheldon, the multi-award-winning actor whose unforgettable portrayal of Horace Vandergelder in Goodspeed Musicals' Hello, Dolly! earned him the Connecticut Critics' Circle Award for Best Actor, will play Sir. Sheldon played the role of Bernadette in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert for 1750 performances in Australia, New Zealand, London, Toronto and on Broadway, winning the Theatre World Award and nominations for the Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical, the Drama Desk Award, the Drama League Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. In London he was nominated for the Olivier Award and won the Toronto Theatre Critics Award and the DORA Award as Best Actor in a Musical. In New York he has starred with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Tracey Ullman in The Bandwagon at Encores/City Center, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol with Douglas Sills, and Art & Science with John Tartaglia, and was featured in Broadway Backwards at the Palace Theatre and A Tribute to Audra McDonald for the Drama League.
Michelle Aravena who performed in the Broadway productions of The Jersey Boys, A Chorus Line, and Rocky, will play The Kid. Ms. Aravena recently appeared as Rose Alvarez in Bye Bye Birdie at Drury Lane where she also performed in West Side Story as Anita, a performance that earned her a 2015 Jeff Award. She has also performed in the National Tours of West Side Story (Anita, LA Critics nomination) directed by the late Arthur Laurents, Jersey Boys (Chicago, Vegas, 1st National Tour), LES MISERABLES (Fantine understudy), Mamma Mia (Sophie), Steel Pier (Bette). Michelle's other credits include the World Premiere of First Wives Club (Old Globe), Tigerlily in Peter Pan (Actors Theater of Louisville), and Cassie in A Chorus Line (Olney Theater), among others.
Gregory Treco who appeared on Broadway in Taboo (produced by Rosie O'Donnell) will play The Stranger. Mr. Treco's other credits include the Off-Broadway hit Zanna Don't, where he created the role of Zanna, Miracle Brothers at the Vineyard Theatre (directed by Tina Landau), and the World Premiere of Neil Berg and Robert Schenkkan's The 12 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Gregory was a finalist on WB's television show Popstars. He choreographed/musically staged the international touring hit Broadway Rox. His TV credits include a guest-starring role on the CBS sitcom Whoopi.
This unconventional musical which examines the world of the haves and have-nots will be directed by Don Stephenson who helmed last season's hit production of Guys and Dolls at The Goodspeed. Mr. Stephenson has directed numerous productions regionally including Lend Me a Tenor and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Paper Mill Playhouse, and productions of Titanic at Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall, MUNY Opera, Hangar Theatre and Westchester Broadway Theatre. As a performer he played Peter McCourt in Goodspeed's Silver Dollar and appeared on Broadway in Titanic, Parade, The Producers, By Jeeves, Rock of Ages and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.
Choreography will be by Liza Gennaro who returns to The Goodspeed where she previously choreographed The Most Happy Fella (1991) and Kiss Me Kate. Ms. Gennaro's Broadway credits include Once Upon a Mattress and The Most Happy Fella, as well as Smile for which she served as Assistant Choreographer.
The Roar of the Greasepaint... Set Design will be by Walt Spangler whose designs for Goodspeed Musicals include The Terris Theatre productions of Camille Claudel, The Flight of the Lawnchair Man, Happy Days, Lucky Guy, and The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown. In addition to nearly 30 Off-Broadway productions, Mr. Spangler has designed the Broadway productions of Tuck Everlasting, Scandalous, A Christmas Story the musical, and Desire Under the Elms. Costume Design will be by Tony Award-winning designer Jess Goldstein. His designs for Goodspeed include Butterfly at The Terris Theatre, and The Goodspeed productions of The Most Happy Fella (1991) and They All Laughed. Goldstein made his professional New York debut designing costumes for Sam Shepard's landmark Off-Broadway production of Buried Child in 1978. Other major credits include Jersey Boys (Broadway, West End, and all touring and international companies), the critically-acclaimed revival of On The Town, Disney's Newsies, The Merchant Of Venice with Al Pacino, Lincoln Center's Henry IV with Kevin Kline and The Most Happy Fella, as well as The Roundabout's The Apple Tree with Kristin Chenoweth, The Homecoming with Ian McShane, Tintypes, Enchanted April and Daniel Sullivan's Broadway revival of Julius Caesar starring Denzel Washington. In 2005 he won the Tony for his designs for The Rivals.
Lighting Design will be by Stephen Terry who created the lighting for last season's production of Guys and Dolls at The Goodspeed. Mr. Terry served as Associate Designer for the Broadway productions of Sixteen Wounded, The People in the Picture and Glengarry Glen Ross. Sound Design will be by Goodspeed's Jay Hilton, who is in his 31st season at Goodspeed.
Michael O'Flaherty, who is in his 25th season with Goodspeed Musicals, will serve as Music Supervisor. Adam Souzawho returns to The Terris Theater where he last music directed Stephen Schwartz's Snapshots, will serve as Music Director. Casting for The Roar of the Greasepaint... was done by Paul Hardt of SH Entertainment.
The Roar of the Greasepaint... will run May 20 - June 26, 2016. Curtain times are Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 pm, Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 pm and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are available through the Goodspeed Box Office (860.873.8668), open seven days a week, or on-line at www.goodspeed.org. For show highlights, exclusive photos, special events and more, visit us at goodspeed.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
For over 30 years, The Terris Theatre has been Goodspeed's home for developing fresh, innovative, and original new musicals. Many new and reimagined musicals have been developed in Chester, Conn., before moving on to Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours, and other Regional Theatres. Because this is a developmental theatre, the show can change on a day-to-day basis. New scenes are added, songs are moved, costumes are changed, dialogue is tweaked?all based on audience response and feedback.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Michael Gennaro, Goodspeed Musicals is dedicated to the preservation, development, and advancement of musical theatre. Goodspeed produces three musicals each season at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, Conn., and additional productions at The Terris Theatre in Chester, Conn. The first regional theatre to receive two Tony Awards (for outstanding achievement), Goodspeed also maintains The Scherer Library of Musical Theatre and The Max Showalter Center for Education in Musical Theatre. Goodspeed gratefully acknowledges the support of United Airlines, the official airline of Goodspeed Musicals, and official auto sponsor Hoffman Audi. Goodspeed is supported in part by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development with support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts.
Had a lovely reunion with my Broadway PRISCILLA boys Nick Adams and Will Swenson when Nick hosted a benefit at Birdland (my debut at that legendary jazz spot!) called BROADWAY FOR AFRICA. We closed the show with "We Belong", the first time we'd sung together in almost four years.
It was a splendid group including Julia Murney, Alison Luff and The Skivvies.
Lots of PRISCILLA fans in the audience so there were a few sentimental tears.
And for my solo spot I got to introduce the brilliant Aussie composer Matty Robinson's song "Madness in the Air". U.S. premiere!!
Lovely to be back working in the East Village where I lived for a year in 2011.
Like everything in NYC the area is constantly changing, and to my surprise I found an "Australian/Asian" restaurant on Avenue A. Haven't tried it yet but I must before the show closes.
Only two more weeks of CLEOPATRA which is a shame as it's a total joy to perform, the company is a dream and the audiences are going crazy for it. I knew Charles Busch was a New York theatre legend but it's extraordinary to be onstage for his entrance every night. A full minute of cheers and stamping before he even opens his mouth. I am so privileged.
Joe Zaso as Mark Antony and Charles Busch as Cleopatra
with Jennifer Van Dyck
Larry Bullock, Joe Zaso, Charles Busch, Ashley Morris, Jennifer Van Dyck and Jennifer Cody