The Tony Awards, celebrating the best of Broadway, returned last night after a two and a half year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading “Highlights From The 2021 Tony Awards”
Some news items you may have missed:
• The weather forecast for Friday in Washington DC? 90% chance of rain. See forecast above. How terrible… 😉
• Some of Broadway’s biggest stars – including Tony Award winners Betty Buckley, Chita Rivera, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kelli O’Hara, Jessie Mueller and Billy Porter – will be spending Inauguration Day at a concert in New York City that raises money for human rights organizations.
• Over 50 Democratic members of Congress (53 at last count) will not be attending the Trump inauguration.
• Speaking of the inauguration, scalpers are having a tough time unloading tickets they bought for the event this Friday.
• Team Trump is having such a tough time getting supporters to the inaugural festivities they are using targeted Facebook ads to up free ticket attendance.
• One more inauguration item: don’t miss Randy Rainbow’s hysterical interview with Tony Award winner Jennifer Holliday regarding her recent kerfuffle when she confirmed then cancelled her appearance the “peaceful transfer of power.”
This week on my BlogTalkRadio show, I recap these LGBT headlines and more:
• Tony & Grammy Award winner Jennifer Holliday agrees to perform at the Trump inauguration, then reverses in an open letter to her LGBT fans.
• CMT and iHeartRadio host Cody Alan comes out to fans.
• A new Gallup poll shows the LGBT community in the US growing to the tune of over 10 million.
• Dr. Ben Carson still thinks LGBTs want “extra rights,” and he’s wrong.
• Randy Rainbow parodies Into The Woods as he suggests President-elect Trump consider pulling back on the Twitter.
Broadway star Jennifer Holliday, who surprised many with upon the announcement that she would perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration, has canceled the appearance. Holliday called her decision to appear a “lapse of judgement.”
In an open letter to the public, the Tony and Grammy Award winner apologized to the LGBT community, saying she was “uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history and for causing such dismay and heartbreak to my fans.”
Apparently, Holliday found a change of heart after reading an facile on The Daily Beast story titled, “Jennifer Holliday Will Perform at Trump’s Inauguration, Which Is Heartbreaking to Gay Fans.”
The article expressed the surprise many of her fans felt – that the singer’s decision to participate in the inaugural event was “an act that seems to defy everything her most passionate supporters stand for, and even issues she herself has supported throughout her career.”
In her letter, Holliday shares that she thought of herself as a “bi-partisan songbird” who has previously performed for both Democratic and Republican presidents.
Holliday concludes her letter to fans thusly: “Please know that I HEAR YOU and I feel your pain. The LGBT Community was mostly responsible for birthing my career and I am deeply indebted to you… You have loved me faithfully and unconditionally and for so many years you provided me with work even though my star had long since faded.”
Here’s Holliday’s full open letter via The Wrap:
TO MY BELOVED LGBT COMMUNITY:
Please allow me this opportunity to speak to you directly and to explain why I originally made my decision to perform at the inauguration which was what I had thought would be my simply keeping in my tradition of being a “bi-partisan songbird” having sung for Presidents Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush.
I was asked to sing a song for what was presented to me as the “Welcome Concert For The People”– in my mind I was reflecting on the past times of being asked to sing for presidents and I only focused on the phrase “For The People”… I thought, For America!
I was honestly just thinking that I wanted my voice to be a healing and unifying force for hope through music to help our deeply polarized country… Regretfully, I did not take into consideration that my performing for the concert would actually instead be taken as a political act against my own personal beliefs and be mistaken for support of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
In light of the information pointed out to me via the Daily Beast article on yesterday, my only choice must now be to stand with the LGBT Community and to state unequivocally that I WILL NOT PERFORM FOR THE WELCOME CONCERT OR FOR ANY OF THE INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES!
I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgement, for being uneducated on the issues that affect every American at this crucial time in history and for causing such dismay and heartbreak to my fans.
Please know that I HEAR YOU and I feel your pain. The LGBT Community was mostly responsible for birthing my career and I am deeply indebted to you… You have loved me faithfully and unconditionally and for so many years you provided me with work even though my star had long since faded.
Thank you for communicating with me, I had no idea that I still meant so much to all of you.
Thank you for your posted comments both the good supportive ones as well as the ugly hurtful ones.
With LOVE & Appreciation,
“The Original DreamGirl”
Jennifer Holliday, Tony Award-winner for the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls, has agreed to perform as part of the entertainment lineup.
She has previously sung for Presidents Reagan, both Bushes, and Clinton.
So when the planners of this year’s presidential inauguration reached out to the Tony-winning singer this week to ask if she would sing during a welcome concert the day before Donald J. Trump is to be sworn in as president, she said yes.
“I’m singing on the mall for the people,” she said. “I don’t have a dog in this fight — I’m just a singer, and it’s a welcome concert for the people on the mall.”
Ms. Holliday, speaking during a telephone interview Friday afternoon, said she had not supported Mr. Trump’s candidacy — “I voted for Mrs. Clinton, and they knew that.” But, she said, “if someone wants me to sing a national anthem or something, we think about America, and we go.”
She noted that the Carters and the Clintons, as well as the Obamas, are expected at the inauguration.
“We’ve become such a polarized country — we’re not listening to what the Obamas have said,” she said. “They told us to move forward with hope — they didn’t tell us to stop participating — I didn’t hear that in Obama’s speech.”
A publicist for Holliday confirmed the appearance with The Wrap late Friday afternoon.
Tony Award winner Jennifer Holliday, who shot to fame in 1981 for her scorched earth performance as “Effie White” in the original Broadway company of Dreamgirls will return to the Great White Way in the celebrated Broadway revival of The Color Purple beginning October 4th.
Taking over the role of “Shug Avery” from Heather Headley, this engagement marks Holliday’s first return to Broadway since a two month run as “Matron ‘Mama’ Morton” in the long-running revival of Chicago the Musical in 2001.
“I was deeply moved by this truly uplifting production of The Color Purple and I am highly honored and absolutely thrilled to be joining this extraordinary cast,” said Holliday in a statement. “Nothing compares to performing before a Broadway audience and I can’t wait to return to the Broadway stage, where I started my career over 35 years ago.”
Director John Doyle added, “There is a rich and significant legacy to the line of women who have been part of The Color Purple, and I am very honored and excited to work with another major actress as she assumes one of its iconic roles. I am very taken with Ms. Holliday’s approach to the character of Shug and I look forward to sharing how her integrity and experience will enrich this production of The Color Purple.”
The Houston-born Holliday made her Broadway debut at age 19 in Vinnette Carroll’s 1980 gospel musical Your Arms Too Short To Box With God as a featured soloist. After Dreamgirls she returned to Broadway just twice as replacement Teen Angel in the 1994 revival of Grease, and as a replacement Matron “Mama” Morton in the long-running revival of Chicago for two months in 2001. This is her first return to Broadway since then.
I recently saw Holliday at the terrific 35th anniversary concert of Dreamgirls in Los Angeles where she appeared for the first time in over three decades with co-stars Sheryl Lee Ralph and Loretta Devine. I can attest that Holliday is still a powerful force to be reckoned with onstage.
Celebrating the 35th anniversary of Dreamgirls!
Chris Isaacson Presents in association with Ronn Goswick has announced a Broadway Under the Stars special event, a one-night-only concert starring the original Dreamgirls – Independent Spirit Award-winner Sheryl Lee Ralph, Emmy Award-winner Loretta Devine, and Tony Award and two-time Grammy Award-winner Jennifer Holliday in conversation and song.
This Broadway Under the Stars special event will be at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Boulevard East, in Hollywood, for one performance only on Sunday, July 10 at 8pm. Ticket prices start at $65 and VIP packages are available. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit The D.I.V.A. Foundation and The Actors Fund.
I was a music theatre major in college when the original Broadway production of Dreamgirls opened. During it’s run, I saw the show 14 times at the Imperial Theater. To this day it remains one of the most impactful productions I’ve ever experienced.
These three ladies – Ralph, Devine and Holliday – were the perfect balance of raw power, grace and emotion. The original Dreamgirls taught me that theatre could be THAT real and emotionally open.
If you’re in Los Angeles on July 10th, do not miss this.Ticket info here.
Now, I know these are going around, but this one did make my theater-loving heart laugh…