“CHICAGO at the Hollywood Bowl” wins Broadway World “Best Special Theatre Event” Award

Last summer, I was flattered and thrilled to be asked to step back into CHICAGO the Musical (which I was fortunate to perform in on Broadway, National and International companies) at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

It was a fun, fast and fantastic experience to be onstage again in a show I always loved being a part of.

Today it was announced that the production of CHICAGO the Musical at the Hollywood Bowl won a Broadway World Award for “Best Special Theatre Event.”

Congrats to the whole cast, crew and especially Gregory Butler who handled the choreographic duties and Brooke Shields who directed the production with insight and professionalism.

You can check out some “behind the scenes” blog posts from the rehearsal period here, here, here, here and here.

The experience was one of the very best of my career onstage.  Everyone was great to work with – some old friends, some new.

Glad to see this chapter close on such a high note.

Hollywood Bowl cast of CHICAGO the Musical with the fab Brooke Shields

Sarah Horn – Hollywood Bowl viral video star – on The Candi & Randy Show

In case you missed my radio show yesterday – I got to interview YouTube and viral video sensation Sarah Horn regarding her amazing duet with Kristin Chenoweth at the Hollywood Bowl last week.

Not only have exciting things been happening for Sarah, but the Hollywood Bowl has already invited her back to sing at an upcoming concert featuring the music of ABBA. Plus, she’s still sorting through calls and emails about more opportunities.

From The Candi & Randy Show:

Sarah Horn thought her evening was going to consist of seeing her favorite Broadway star, Kristin Chenoweth, in concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

Instead, she sang half of what became “the duet heard ’round the world” as Chenoweth brought Sarah up on stage by chance to sing with her. Not only did she sing, she stopped the show!

The YouTube video of her impromptu duet with Chenoweth has had more than 2.5 million views in less than a week.

We talk to Sarah about the duet and what has happened to her in the week since.

Dreams come true. Ask Sarah Horn.

Kristen Chenoweth and Hollywood Bowl audience guest Sarah Horn sing “For Good”

What an incredible dream come true for Sarah Horn. Plucked out of the audience at the Hollywood Bowl and this happens.

Just fabulous…

Here’s another view of the performance that stays more close-up:

UPDATE: Sarah has posted her recollection of how this all happened on her Facebook page in a note. Take a read to see how this happened and what it felt like:

Here’s the story. It is not abridged so I’ll just wait right here while you pop some popcorn for the epic post to come.

… Popcorn ready? Here we go:

I had been counting down to this concert for months. My family and a friend, Mike Kestler, arrived at the bowl with seats in different sections and my dad surprised us with boxed seats. When we got into the bowl, there was ticket confusion with seats and party numbers so we ended up switching boxes with another party and sitting up in the very front, right in front of the pasarel. Count that – two spontaneous moves from where were were originally supposed to be sitting.

The concert was going wonderfully and my party of four raved about the performance during Intermission as we munched on the crackers and cheese I had smuggled into the Bowl in my purse.

Toward the end of the second half of the performance, Kristin wanders on to the pasarel. She held a mic up to a lady in front of me and asked if she knew the song “For Good.” Nope. I took the chance, as I was directly behind Kristin, to stand up and wave and say, “I know the song!”

This is not like me – to jump up and wave my arms like a crazy person and raise my voice at a celebrity. As soon as she turned to look at me, I say right back down… and calmly said, “Hiiiii.”

One of Kristin’s backup singers held a mic up to my face so I could answer some questions:

“What’s you’re name?” – “Sarah.”

“Who’s your favorite broadway star?” I sarcastically hummm as if it’s a difficult question to answer.

“Do you know the song ‘For Good’?” – “Yes. It’s one of my favorites.” This seemed to peak her interest.

After this, she moved down the line and asked a guy if he knew the song and bantered with him for a few seconds. Afterwards, she said something about going back to pick me because I was a girl. Then, she invited me up on stage.

I sat there for a moment, stunned. Then the backup singer motioned for me to get up. I shot up out of my chair as my heart leaped up past my throat and started beating in my ears. I don’t really remember what happened between the box and when I first set foot onstage except that there was now a microphone in my hand.

The first foot I set onstage was my left one. My knee slightly gave way as I realized just what I was stepping into but I caught myself before I think anyone noticed. I walked up to Kristin Chenoweth and the only thought in my head was, “Oh. My. God.” I remember feeling the backup singer push me so I walked faster. I don’t remember anything Kristin said to fill the time it took me to get up there because my heart was beating too loud. And let me just tell you, that is a loooooong stage to walk across.

When I got to Kristin, she moved me to her left side and reminded me that I would be singing the part of Elphaba, twice. I needed the reminder. My mind was swimming. I didn’t notice until after I’d left the Bowl that I was wearing a green shirt and a floor length green skirt with straight hair and black rimmed glasses. How much more Elphaba-looking can a regular gal get?

When she had planted me in my spot next to her, I remember bringing the microphone to my lips and breathily quivering, “I’m on stage with Kristin Chenoweth,” still in complete shock. Insert audience laugh here.

She asked me if I did musical theatre and if I liked it, to which I said yes, and asked what I do for a living. I told her I was a voice teacher to which she responded by calling me a “real hero” and giving me a hug. She’s got a strong, hearty hug for such a tiny person.

As the music started, she wrapped her arm around mine. I recognized at that moment that her incredible shortness matches her incredible friendliness so I responded in kind by briefly resting my head on top of hers to let her know I was with her. The audience found that moment endearing and laughed again.

When she was done with the first verse she said, “Still me!” so I’d know not to sing so I pressed my lips together and held my mic down like a good girl until it was my turn. As the time for Elphaba’s verse came, I lifted my microphone to my mouth, looked her straight in the eye and sang the first of my lines. She leaned back and dropped her jaw. She knew I was a voice teacher but didn’t know if I did well in the execution or not. As far as she knew, I could have been tone deaf.

I heard the roar of the crowd during that first line but then it all faded away. I think I’ve seen it done cinematically before but I never imagined my perception of a performance would appear like this. The 10,000+ people of the Bowl faded away. There was no one else there. No noise. No people. I could heard the beautiful music of the orchestra but there was no one onstage, just Kristin and I. I reached my hand out as I sang the word “friend” and she stepped forward and took it. There was such joy, elation, a spontaneous musical spark that we shared in that moment. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced.

As we dueted in harmony at the end of the verse, Kristin throws her head back and says, “Holy crap. Harmony.” and we continue the song, soaring in our independent melodies. It was then that I was once again aware of the crowd. I could feel them traveling along with us in this unexpected musical journey. I was not singing for the crowd as a performer usually does but was singing FOR them, in place of them. I was them and they were me. I was up there doing what every single person in that audience wished they could do. I cannot remember another time where I felt more connected to a body of people and at peace with where I was and what I was doing in a single moment.

As the song got into it’s final lines, Kristin and I looked into each others eyes, held hands once again, and sang the end in perfect unison. Before the last note was finished by the orchestra, she yanked me down into a hug and the audience erupted into thunderous applause, everyone on their feet. Kristin gave me the first bow, told me to take another one, then we bowed together. As I was exiting, the audience was still thunderously applauding and Kristin motioned for me to take one or two more before I blew her a kiss and was whisked off into the wings. I was in shock at what just happened. I remember someone handing me a water bottle and telling me to come backstage after the performance and a man guiding me down a ramp with a flashlight. When I got back to my box, I sat down in shock and looked over at my friend, Mike. Mike Kestler, bless his heart, got the whole thing on video on his iPhone.

Apparently, I missed everything Kristin said when I went offstage. I’m getting what happened next from my parents: It took her a good 30 seconds to recover afterward before she said, “Remind me never to pick someone who sings better than I do. Seriously, people. This voice is teaching our young people.” Mike got that last sentence on video.

After the concert, I was swarmed with people who wanted my business card, wanted to take pictures with me, wanted to know if I was an audience plant because it was just too perfect. People came up to me telling me I’d given them goosebumps, made them cry.

Paul Geller, Production Director at both the Hollywood Bowl and the Walt Disney Concert Hall pulled me aside afterward. He said that the production staff is very picky about the quality of performers that they allow on their stage and that what was produced in that song was better than anything they could have planned. He took down my contact information because at some point during the last three songs, he got a phone call from the LA Times wanting to know if I was an audience plant and asked my permission to pass on my contact information for them to speak to me directly, if needed.

When I went backstage, the first face I saw was that of Darren Criss who started immediately chanting my name. You may know him as Blaine Anderson from Glee. There was a sea of other famous people that all sort of blended together in a smoothie of overwhelming awesomeness. I took a picture with Darren and later with Kristin once I’d made it to the end of the receiving line and was directed to exit out the back. My mind pictured the door as a subtle back exit. Nope. This was the stage door, lined with people waiting to catch a closer look at Kristin. When I exited, I heard an en masse gasp and people calling my name. Apparently, I’m a minor Hollywood celebrity now.

We all eventually made it out of there and now my face hurts from smiling but I can’t stop. The experience was so surreal. I know I will wake up thinking it was all a dream but then I’ll see the pictures and the video and realize that it was really real.

On the walk to our car, my father reminded me that he had prayed 11 years ago that I would one day sing with Kristin Chenoweth. I smiled an even larger smile, grasped his arm, and asked him to keep praying impossible prayers because they just might come true.

Sarah Horn backstage at the Hollywood Bowl after unexpectedly singing onstage with Tony Award winner Kristen Chenoweth

Photo gallery – CHICAGO the Musical in performance at Hollywood Bowl

Last set of pictures from my little adventure back into “CHICAGO-land.” Some backstage snaps and some bits of the show in performance.

Thanks for taking the ride with me.

The cover of the Entertainment section of the LA Times

Ashlee Simpson, Samantha Barks, Randy Slovacek - with a photobombing Stephen Moyer
Backstage with Ashlee Simpson, Samantha Barks and Stephen Moyer,
who I found out is a serial “photobomber” 🙂

Opening day after final dress rehearsal – entire cast and creative team of CHICAGO at the Bowl

With Drew Carey backstage

With the dapper Stephen Moyer backstage
Backstage with the luminous Lucy Lawless

Closing night party pic with the fab Brooke Shields, our director

Michael gets his pic with Brooke Shields

Stephen Moyer and Anna Pacquin with MIchael Caprio at closing night party of CHICAGO
We LOVE True Blood at our house.  Michael was beside himself that he got this pic
with Stephen Moyer and Anna Pacquin at the closing night party

Samantha Barks as “Velma Kelly” in CHICAGO

Courtroom scene of CHICAGO – me “swearing in” Drew Carey

“We Both Reached For the Gun” with Ashlee Simpson and Stephen Moyer

Samantha Barks and company – “All That Jazz”

“Razzle Dazzle” with Stephen Moyer

“After 47 years, a Cook County precedent has been shattered…”

Ashlee Simpson and the men of CHICAGO: “Roxie”

For those folks who’ve emailed asking for clips from CHICAGO at the Hollywood Bowl, here’s a pretty decent video of the number “Roxie.”

I wish they didn’t zoom in quite so much so you got a better sense of the staging, but you get the idea 🙂

Thanks everyone for the support about my participation in the production. Much appreciated.

Variety reviews “CHICAGO the Musical” at the Hollywood Bowl

Photo: Craig Mathew/Mathew Imaging

Variety reviews CHICAGO the Musical at the Hollywood Bowl:

“The impossibly triple-jointed Fosse-style choreography — originally recreated by Reinking, here marshaled skillfully by Gregory Butler — also stands out clearly, requiring less reliance on the ubiquitous Jumbotron views than usual.”

“She (director Brooke Shields) earns kudos for her handling of the ensemble, who prowl hungrily around the action to invest punchlines, caricatures and carny shtick with unflagging relish. Carrying through original helmer Bobbie’s use of the chorus as side commentators, Shields must deal with almost double the stage expanse but pulls off the living environment with utter lack of strain.”

Read the entire review at Variety.

“Behind the scenes” from CHICAGO the Musical at Hollywood Bowl – part 2

I got a few emails about more pics from CHICAGO the Musical I’m doing at the Hollywood Bowl, so thought I’d oblige 🙂
We all jumped in to pose with our director Brooke Shields, who clearly gets the CHICAGO thing.  Having starred as “Roxie” on Broadway and in the West End, we all knew she understood the animal that is “CHICAGO.”  But being “in the room” with her is really a dream.  She has very clear ideas about acting beats, style and pace, and the arc of the show but doesn’t hinder her actors from exploring.  I think she’s just fab.  And so does the whole company. 
I haven’t gone all ‘fan-boy’ on her yet – I’m holding back on embarrassing myself so far. But it’s waaay cool to be working with her.  I think the pic speaks for itself. What a great star.

And while I’m talking “fan-boy” – I’m all “fan-boy” for this entire cast.  What a group of talent to be working with.  I’m seriously inspired to keep up.  Strength, smiles, spirit and passion all around.

Shiny, happy people with our choreographer, Greg Butler (center of this pic).  Greg is doing a great job staging the show in the HUGE space that is the Hollywood Bowl.  The ONLY thing that’s bad about this pic is you don’t get a sense of the amazing work of art his body is. 
Check out this pic from Greg’s days on the “Broad-Way” with CHICAGO.  Yeah, I know; and he can act, sing and dance, too…

Here are a few more from the past couple of days:

Brooke Shields introduces the cast before we perform a couple of numbers for the press:

Stephen Moyer and Ashlee Simpson bamboozle the press in “We Both Reached for the Gun”

Chris Holly was in the first company of CHICAGO I ever did back in
He went on to the Broadway company of the show (and many other
Bway shows, too…).
This is from the Courtroom scene he plays as “Fred
Casely” with Ashlee Simpson.

And this is where this extravaganza will be performed. How about this for a big stage?