Breakfast Of Champions

Flying home after opening Hello, Dolly! starring the fab Lee Roy Reams last night at The Wick Theater in Boca Raton.

Fabulous night. So fulfilling to see Lee Roy bring “Dolly Levi” to life. Instant (and well-deserved) standing ovation.

Fun to be working on Dolly! again but happy to head back home and focus on writing again for a while.

Happy Sunday!

Lee Roy Reams Breaks Ground Bending Gender In Hello, Dolly!

Lee Roy Reams stars as "Dolly Levi" in HELLO, DOLLY! at The Wick Theater
Lee Roy Reams as “Dolly Levi” at The Wick Theater

Regular readers of The Randy Report know I spend half my life as a freelance writer and blogger here at The Randy Report, and the the other half working in the theater as a director/choreographer.

The past two weeks I’ve been deep in rehearsals choreographing Hello, Dolly! at the Wick Theater in Boca Raton, Florida, with my Dolly! partner in crime and Broadway stalwart, Lee Roy Reams. This marks our 8th production of Dolly! together, but this one has a twist 🙂

Not only are we exploring this gorgeous Jerry Herman/Michael Stewart show once again, we’re digging into even deeper levels as Lee Roy becomes the first male actor in America to play the leading role.

In an era of marriage equality and LGBT rights becoming a regular part of the daily news cycle, what could be more appropriate? And to be clear – Lee Roy is very specific in his portrayal. He is not playing a drag queen, he’s playing “Dolly Levi” straight – no winking at the audience.

Photo: Amy Pasquantonio

“Danny La Rue did it years ago in England,” Reams says. “But I never saw that show. In England they are accustomed to men playing women’s roles and vice versa.”

The production and casting come complete with the blessing of Dolly! composer/lyricist Jerry Herman, who won Tony Awards for not only Hello, Dolly! but Mame and La Cage Aux Folles.

“I love this show,” Reams says. “It was my second show with Carol Channing. When I was in ‘Lorelei’ with Carol we became close. When they were doing a revival she called me. That voice. She said, ‘Hello Lee Roy. It’s Carol.’ Like I didn’t know. She said, ‘Look, I want you to play Cornelius Hackl. The director doesn’t know you, so you have to audition. But don’t worry, you got the job.’ “

He has directed Uggams, Madeline Kahn, Michele Lee, French star Nicole Croisille and others in the role over the years.

Reams adds, “Bringing a male perspective to that character will make it more interesting to me. I’ve told so many ladies how to do it and now I’ll find out if what I said works.

“The atmosphere is prime. It’s time. People are no longer being told what they should play. People can play all kinds of roles now, regardless [of] their sexual orientation or ethnicity. I think we’re all more open to that now. And I think (producer) Marilynn Wick is so brave to do this.”

The reviews are just starting to come in, and they are raves. Rod Stafford Hagwood, reviewing for SouthFlorida.com, wrote;

“He (Reams) has given the 51-year-old musical a sense of briskness and brightness with some triumphant choreography by Randy Slovacek and wow-pow moments courtesy of musical director Michael Ursua.”

This isn’t the first time Reams has broken barriers: in 1970 he became the first actor to play an openly gay character in a major Broadway musical. Long before others bravely hit the boards in gay roles, Reams played Lauren Bacall’s openly gay hairdresser & confidante “Duane Fox” in Applause in 1970. One of our great “elder gays,” he has represented the gay community proudly, never attempting to hide who he is.

Beyond the gender bending aspect of this production, Reams adds that the story’s themes are what make the show still relevant today, especially in a presidential election cycle.

“The thing that continues to amaze me is how good a show it is,” Reams says. “The music is just perfect and the book is so strong. That money speech is as current now as it was then. That’s when Dolly says, ‘The surest way to keep us out of harm is to give us the four or five human pleasures that are right in the world… and that takes a little money.’

“And then she says, ‘The difference between a little money and no money at all is enormous, and can shatter the world. And the difference between a little money and an enormous amount of money is very slight, and that can shatter the world too.’

“Now tell me that isn’t what everything going on these days in the news is all about?”

Hello, Dolly! runs through Dec. 6 at the Wick Theatre in Boca Raton, FL. For ticket info, go to TheWick.org.

(source)

News Round-Up: November 2, 2015

Boxer Yusaf Mack comes out as bisexual

Some news stories you may have missed:

• Did you hear the one about the straight pro-boxer who swears he must have been drugged because he doesn’t remember starring in a gay porn? Never mind that he doesn’t address this other gay porn he starred in.

• Sen. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson climb in a new Iowa poll as Donald Trump loses ground.

• Have I mentioned my latest theatrical adventure?

• Did you know big pharmaceutical companies can PAY generic drug makers to delay making those meds available to us, costing Americans $3.5 billion a year?

• Alleged Philly gay-basher Kathryn Knott heads to trial December 9th to defend herself for her part in an attack that left a man with a shattered jaw needing to be wired shut for months.

• “Pawn Star” reality celeb Rick Harrison bemoans the fact that he loses business for supporting anti-LGBT politicians.

• Despite all the moans from Republicans/conservatives, the U.S. deficit just hit a seven year low. #ThanksObama

• Sen. Marco Rubio surges to 3rd in New Hampshire poll after debate performance.

Monday – The Day Off

Me with director (and star) of Hello, Dolly!, Lee Roy Reams

Enjoying having a little free time to get back to blogging today after two full weeks of rehearsals for Hello, Dolly! here in Florida at The Wick Theater.

Last night, we had our final run-through in the rehearsal hall, and tomorrow start tech rehearsals in the theater.

It’s always amazing to me to watch the “magic” show up. The run went well; our director (and star) Lee Roy Reams was a force of nature as “Dolly Levi.”

This marks my 8th production of Hello, Dolly! with Lee Roy after making my Broadway debut in the 1995 revival which he directed. Each and every production is an adventure. I so enjoy not only at Lee Roy’s talent, but when I ask him to tell tales from his storied career on Broadway, he always shares some hysterical chapter from his life. And the laughs don’t stop.

I should be taking more pics but I’ve had my hands full with dance rehearsals. Definitely more to come.

It’s wonderful, also, to be able to slow down today and remember how much I love working in theater. I ask the universe for these “adventures,” and they come.

Thank you.

Before the parade passes by, I’m going to get some life back into my life…

Throwback Thursday: Hello, Dolly! On Broadway

Click on the pic to enlarge

I’m in rehearsals for Hello, Dolly! at  The Wick Theater in Boca Raton, Florida, so I figure it’s time for a little #TBT.

The above pic was from the 1995 Broadway revival of Dolly with Carol Channing (who else?) at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater on West 46th Street, taken during the “Hello Dolly” number. I’m far right in the pic closest to Carol (there in the shadows, but happy to be there).

Below is the end of the very athletic “Waiter’s Gallop.” I’m second from the left with the shish kabob in my hand. Please note my pulled up feet 🙂

Staging the show now, and passing on what I learned with such a beautiful, wonderful company on Broadway always makes me smile.

Just to underscore that, I always share that in 22 months, no one left the company. We were all so happy to be there. That sounds so pollyanna, but it’s true. Trust me – that isn’t always the atmosphere backstage on Broadway.

Here’s to every Dolly past and present!

Sunday Showtune: “Hello, Dolly!”

I’ve been working hard in Boca Raton, Florida, this week where I’m choreographing Hello, Dolly! again with my partner in crime, Lee Roy Reams.

This time will be a little different, though, because Lee Roy is not only directing again but starring – as “Dolly Levi.”

This was the first week of rehearsals and this morning we do a crawl through of Act One. The dancers have been great picking up all the choreography, and working with Lewis Stadlen, James Clow and Susan Powell again on this show has made me laugh all week.

Next week we move on to Act Two, including the “big number” itself – “Hello Dolly.”

So I was in the mood to throw back to 1995 when I did this fab musical wonder with the original legend herself, Carol Channing.

Take a look below. I’m in there 🙂

Happy Sunday!

The Artist’s Challenge – Day Two

Day Two of the Artists Challenge – (For 5 days, 1 post each day, 1pic or several pics or video of your artistic journey so far. Each day nominate 2 people to join).

I have to include my first Broadway show – HELLO, DOLLY! with the incredible Carol Channing. I joke with folks that practically every show I ever went after I never got. And then the incredible blessing that happened were things I never dreamed of. DOLLY was one of those.

The show had been cast for months, but a week before rehearsals were to start one male dancer got a Broadway show (DOLLY was set to tour for a year before coming into NYC). I went to the audition – something like 120 guys were there. One spot available. They taught one combination and cut to 30. I was kept. We did another combination, they cut to 15. I was kept again. It was here that I heard they needed someone 6 foot something because they’d started costumes and the guy was that tall. Clearly – I am not. I went in to sing thinking “I’m so not getting this” so I threw caution to the wind and just sang. I went home and considered how I was going to have to wait tables again for the first time in four years. The call came within an hour.

Thank you Lee Roy Reams for the amazing gift that is DOLLY. It was a wonderful family. In 22 months no one left the show. We all loved what we were doing.

I ended up handling choreography duties for the post-Bway tour and have done something like 9 productions since. Oh – and I should mention that DOLLY (like a good matchmaker) introduced me to my husband, Michael Caprio. We’ve been together over 20 years. Can you ask more of a Broadway debut?

I’m second from the left in the Waiters Gallop pic below – please note the pulled up feet 🙂

NYC: Opening of HELLO, DOLLY! with National Asian Artists Project

For the past two weeks, I’ve been in NYC splitting my time between The Randy Report and rehearsals for a “staged concert” production of HELLO, DOLLY! for the National Asian Artists Project spearheaded by my long time friend Baayork Lee.

NAAP is a community of artists, educators, administrators, community leaders, and professionals. It is a not-for-profit organization that recognizes the need to build bridges between the work of artists of Asian descent, and the many communities that the work can serve, from underserved primary school students to seasoned arts patrons.

The National Asian Artists Project cast of HELLO, DOLLY! takes a bow

The show opened this past Monday (I’ve been recovering and catching up from the last minute rush of opening) and I have to post some of the pictures of the beautiful and talented cast from the show and the reception afterward.

One of the things I love about theater is we all seem to find each other again eventually. Hang out in the business long enough, we’ll see one another again.

Take a look at the pic below – from left to right:

• Zoie Lam (founder of NAAP, who I performed in A CHORUS LINE with in the 80s)
• Baayork Lee (founder of NAAP, who cast me in 2 national touring companies of A CHORUS LINE in 1989 and 1991)
• Christine Toy Johnson (our “Dolly Levi” who performed with me in CATS from 1986-1988) 
• Lee Roy Reams (our director, who cast me in my first Broadway show and made me the “designated choreographer” for HELLO, DOLLY! all these years). 

So many people from so many different productions of my theater career, all of us coming together again for this great event.

Zoie Lam, Baayork Lee, me, Christine Toy Johnson, Lee Roy Reams
and music director Kevin Ferrell

A wonderful experience all around, here’s a few more pictures from the evening…

“Dolly Levi” leads the company in ‘Hello, Dolly!”
Photo by Eric Bondoc Photography

Alex Chester (“Minnie Fay”) and the men of HELLO, DOLLY!
(JP Moraga, Daniel J. Edwards, Rommel Pierre O’Choa, Aaron Komo)
Photo by Eric Bondoc Photography

Christine Toy Johnson (“Dolly Levi”) and me

Jaygee Macapugay (“Irene Malloy”) and Karl Josef Ko (“Cornelius Hackl”)

Karl Josef Ko (“Cornelius Hackl”) and me

Me with 9 time Tony Award winner Tommy Tune, who was very gracious
in complimenting my choreography! Wow! An out of body experience…

My husband Michael Caprio, Christine Toy Johnson and I

Director Lee Roy Reams, Christine Toy Johnson and
9 time Tony Award winner Tommy Tune

For more information about The National Asian Artists Project and their mission, head to their official website by clicking here.

National Asian Artists Project presents HELLO, DOLLY!

I’m very excited to be asked by Baayork Lee to be part of an upcoming staging of HELLO, DOLLY! in New York City with my partner in DOLLY crime, Lee Roy Reams. As we always say at the beginning of each production “It’s an adventure, Barnaby!”

Plus, I’ll be working with my former CATS cast mate, Christine Toy Johnson, AND my fab Production Stage Manager from two national tours of A CHORUS LINE.

Here’s a little more info on the production:

National Asian Artists Project presents a Rediscover Series production of the Broadway classic, HELLO, DOLLY!, by Jerry Herman (music/lyrics) and Michael Stewart (book). This fully-staged fully-costumed presentation is directed by Lee Roy Reams, director of Carol Channing’s last Broadway revival in 1995, when it was last seen in New York (which was my Broadway debut).

This limited two-nights-only event will take place at the brand new Frank Gehry-designed Pershing Square Signature Center on 42nd Street in the heart of New York City’s theatre district.

The evening is a benefit fundraiser for National Asian Artists Project (NAAP), whose mission is to bridge the work of professional theatre artists of Asian descent with the many communities they can serve, from minority communities and primary schools to seasoned arts patrons, as well as providing opportunities for professional theatre artists to grow. Founded by theatre artists Baayork Lee, Steven Eng, and Nina Zoie Lam, NAAP strives to be a leader in this often unheard community. For more info on NAAP, go to: www.NAAProject.org

Click here for ticket info.