Thanksgiving Memory: Carol Channing & Company “Before The Parade Passes By”

Carol Channing – “Before the Parade Passes By” on the 1995 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

I originally posted this in 2015, but it came up today while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with holiday guests who didn’t know I once experienced the parade first-hand, so I thought it was worth a repost 🙂


Wow, talk about #ThrowBackThursday!

I can’t believe how time goes by. Twenty years ago today, I made my Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade debut with the 1995 Broadway revival cast of Hello, Dolly! (including the incomparable Tony Award-winner herself, Carol Channing)!

I remember this like it was yesterday. We all had to get up waaaaaaaay early, get down to the Lunt-Fontanne Theater where our show was playing (by 5 am!) to get into costume, and get on a bus to ride about 10 blocks down Broadway to sit in a trailer before we headed out to do “Before The Parade Passes By.”

And it was so cold! You’d never know to look at Carol, though. And what a thrill to be on the most famous and watched parade with the world.

I then headed home for a most fab dinner with (then-boyfriend, now hot hubby) Michael and my bff, Carlye.

During dinner the phone rang, and it was Vanessa Williams calling from the West Coast to say “Happy Thanksgiving!” – and, since she was watching the parade in California – “you look like you’re freezing!” LOL

I still love my Broadway Dolly! family all these years later. What a great memory to find this video today.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

 

 

 

Podcast: Carol Channing, Chechnya, Karen Pence & Gay Club Picture Rules

In this week’s podcast:

• A lesbian couple, together for 40 years, were denied an apartment at a retirement home in Missouri because they are married

• Vice President Mike Pence is deeply offended folks are upset his wife has chosen to teach art at a school that bans LGBTQ kids and parents

• A gay Australian party got into hot water over rude instructions to photographers

• Broadway legend and LGBT ally (and my dear friend) Carol Channing passed away this week at the age of 97

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Broadway Legend Carol Channing Passes Away At The Age Of 97

My dear Carol Channing passed away this morning at the age of 97.

My dear Carol Channing passed away this morning at the age of 97.

I celebrate this Broadway legend and my many years working with her.

What a gift.

Carol and Hello, Dolly! changed my life forever in 1994.

The experience gave me my first Broadway show; I met my husband of 24 years, Michael; supervising the national tour gave me the downpayment for my first home; and I have been lucky to stage almost a dozen major regional productions of the show passing on what I learned from Carol and our director, Lee Roy Reams.

Celebrate our fabulous Tony Award winning, Academy Award nominee (Thoroughly Modern Millie) Carol Channing today. She is, was, and always will be a national treasure.

I originally wrote some of this post years ago to celebrate her 90th birthday, but updated it with a couple more stories. Everyone always asks for the stories… 🙂

You can read more about my journey with Carol and Hello, Dolly! here.

RIP wonderful, Carol. xoxo

**********************************

Back in 2010, I performed with her again (picture below) in the opening number of the Gypsy of the Year competition, which is a major charity event for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  She brought the house down as only she can.

The last time Carol and I danced together at the Gypsy of the Year event in 2010
Thank you, Bruce Glikas, for the photo 🙂

For those that don’t know, I spent two and a half incredible years performing with Carol in the last Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!.  I eventually became the production supervisor, and she would ask me for notes – on how to perform the role of Dolly Levi!

As if I could tell her anything she didn’t already know.

Me with Carol at the 2010 Gypsy of the Year event on Broadway

A quick Carol story: when I was supervising Dolly on tour, one day we had a particularly long and dreadful travel day – two planes, a bus, a train and a donkey or two – to get to what Carol called “a soccer arena” where we would perform the show that night.

In the sound check Carol looked down and realized that the musician’s pit was 25 feet beneath us.  This was the pit that I had to leap over every night in the middle of the Hello, Dolly! number.  For the first time in 30 years of doing the show she decided this was dangerous.

After the sound check she came looking for me to ask if someone could put a net or something between the pit and the stage in case those of us who jumped over the pit happened to fall into it.  At this point, I had 30 minutes before the performance and was taking a long shower to rid myself of the long travel day.  This being a “soccer arena” the showers where open showers in a locker room.

Covered in soap and standing under the water I suddenly heard a very low baritone voice say “Randy”.  I turned and there was Carol, in the open showers with me, smiling.  She waited for me to turn and went into her concerns about the pit, a net and all sorts of other things as I stood there completely naked.

When she finished expressing her concerns I said, “Absolutely, Carol. But right now I’m soaking wet, taking a shower.”

She looked me up and down, smiled and said, “Oh! Yes, of course. (pause) Well, you know, we’re all just show folk,” and then turned and left me to finish my shower.

Nudity was nothing to this old pro who had changed costumes in the wings for decades.

For the Gypsy of the Year event in 2010, they asked many of the Dolly boys to come back and do the opening number with Carol as a tribute to her. As the number evolved, I ended up partnering with her much of the number.

While we were rehearsing for a few days, the producer of a documentary of Carol’s life asked us if we’d sit and talk about our time with her. About nine of us sat for about an hour and a half reminiscing and sharing.

I only had one particular story about Carol that I knew I wanted to share. As the Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly! was winding down, one of the male dancers in the show (who was very dear to me and to Carol) was dying of AIDS.

I was very grateful my brief story about Carol and Don Ives made it into the film, Larger Than Life.

Watch below.

RIP my dear, wonderful Carol. I am certain there is a standing ovation awaiting you as you enter immortality.

Freezing in the cold but loving life on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Having lunch floating down the San Antonio Riverwalk

Reunited at the Gypsy of the Year in 2010
The cover of Theater Week Magazine just after we opened the 1995 Broadway revival
of Hello, Dolly! A very young me on my knee on the left.

Podcast: Celebrating The Return Of HELLO, DOLLY! To Broadway



Hello, Dolly! is back on Broadway in a brand new, luscious revival starring the effervescent Bette Midler.

In this episode of The Randy Report podcast, I share some history of the classic Broadway blockbuster including how some songs were once cut, and then, restored to the show.

Who knows the songs “Penny In My Pocket,” “Love, Look In My Window,” and “World Take Me Back?” All were once cut from Dolly – guess which one is back in the new revival?

BONUS >>>Listen in as I share Tony Award winner Leslie Uggams’ performance of one of those “trunk songs,” delivered in spectacular fashion, from when she wore the “red dress” in a major production of Hello, Dolly!

Bette & Carol: The Original “Dolly” Meets Broadway’s Newest “Dolly”

Broadway World has the details on the meeting of two icons:

Broadway’s newest Dolly Gallagher Levi met the classic original last week, as the fabulous Bette Midler was introduced to the legendary Carol Channing.

Channing, who is now 95, took Broadway by storm and got a Tony Award, too, when she opened in the original 1964 production of Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s HELLO, DOLLY!, a musical version of Thornton Wilder’s THE MATCHMAKER.

Bette Midler stars in the upcoming Broadway revival, which begins previewing March 15, 2017, with an official opening night of April 20, 2017. Four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks directs and Tony Award winner David Hyde Pierce joins Midler as leading man Horace Vandergelder.

Palm Springs: Carol Channing’s 95th Birthday Celebration

Palm Springs put on a huge gala event last night to celebrate Broadway legend (and Palm Springs resident) Carol Channing’s 95th birthday.

This is just a few seconds from the finale, but Carol can still belt out her long-time theme song’s last line.

What a treasure.

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Finale for Carol Channing’s birthday celebration. Great night for a special lady and friend.
Posted by Gerald Green on Saturday, March 5, 2016

Happy 95th Birthday Carol Channing!

My dear Carol Channing celebrates her 95th birthday today.

Back in 2010, I performed with her again (picture above) in the opening number of the Gypsy of the Year competition, which is a major charity event for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  She brought the house down as only she can.

For those that don’t know, I spent two and a half incredible years performing with Carol in the last Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!.  I eventually became the production supervisor where she would ask me for notes – on how to perform the role of Dolly Levi!  As if I could tell her anything she didn’t already know.

You can read more about my journey with Carol and Hello, Dolly! here.

A quick Carol story: when I was supervising Dolly on tour, one day we had a particularly long and dreadful travel day – two planes, a bus, a train and a donkey or two – to get to what Carol called “a soccer arena” where we would perform the show that night.

In the sound check Carol looked down and realized that the musician’s pit was 25 feet beneath us.  This was the pit that I had to leap over every night in the middle of the Hello, Dolly! number.  For the first time in 30 years of doing the show she decided this was dangerous.

After the sound check she came looking for me to ask if someone could put a net or something between the pit and the stage in case those of us who jumped over the pit happened to fall into it.  At this point, I had 30 minutes before the performance and was taking a long shower to rid myself of the long travel day.  This being a “soccer arena” the showers where open showers in a locker room.

Covered in soap and standing under the water I suddenly heard a very low baritone voice say “Randy”.  I turned and there was Carol, in the open showers with me, smiling.  She waited for me to turn and went into her concerns about the pit, a net and all sorts of other things as I stood there completely naked.

When she finished expressing her concerns I said “Absolutely Carol.  But right now I’m soaking wet, taking a shower.”  She looked me up and down, smiled and said “Oh! Yes, of course.  Well, you know – we’re all just show folk” and then turned and left me to finish my shower.  Nudity was nothing to this old pro who had changed costumes in the wings for decades.

Celebrate our fabulous Carol Channing today.  She is truly a national treasure.

As Carol likes to say, “the first 95 years are the hardest.”