My Favorite Thing Today: Broadway Star Lee Roy Reams In Concert

Broadway star Lee Roy Reams

What a wonderful treat! My dear longtime friend, Broadway star and frequent ‘partner in crime’ Lee Roy Reams is part of the York Theatre Company’s terrific online cabaret series, Broadway’s Great American Songbook.

Hosted by 5-time Grammy Award nominee Michael Feinstein, the series has also included cabaret sets from Tony Award winners Ben Vereen and Lilias White as well as Broadway veterans Alton Fitzgerald White, Karen Mason and more.

Online performances premiere on Wednesday evenings continuing weekly through Wednesday evening, December 16, 2020.

The series culminates with a York Holiday Cabaret Gala on Monday evening, December 21, 2020 at 7:00PM.

Lee Roy’s career is the stuff that Broadway dreams are made of. Moving to New York City fresh out of college, he quickly began racking up major gigs singing and dancing on Broadway in the original cast of Bob Fosse’s Sweet Charity, Applause, Hello, Dolly! with Carol Channing, 42nd StreetBeauty and the Beast, The Producers and many more.

Lee Roy also directed the acclaimed 1995 revival of Hello, Dolly! with Channing (and me!) which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

Lee Roy asked me to handle the choreography duties for the post-Broadway national tour of Dolly! and since then we’ve staged the show together several times in major regional theatre companies across the country. Each time, it was just as Cornelius Hackl tells his Dolly! sidekick, “It’s an adventure, Barnaby!”

I won’t go on as I want you to hit the play button below and enjoy Lee Roy’s masterful storytelling as he sings his way through his incredible career. Authentic, earnest, captivating and magical – just a few of the superlatives that come to mind after watching this true artist weave his spell.

I was especially moved by the medley from Dolly! beginning at the 31:00 mark.

And can I say – I wish we all could look and sound so good at 78-years-old. #LikeAFineWine

Big applause for Alex Rybeck’s robust and artful musical direction and accompaniment as he does what he does so very well.

Enjoy.

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)

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…

Highlights From Broadway Backwards 2015

Broadway Backwards is the annual celebration where gays and lesbians see their stories told through the great songs of musical theatre, sung by their favorite Broadway performers.

The 2015 edition of the event, held March 9, raised a record $466,717 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.

The sold-out show included 20 audience-pleasing numbers and multiple standing ovations for Tituss Burgess, Lena Hall, Florence Henderson, Norm Lewis, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lillias White and more Broadway favorites, as well as a special appearance by 2014 Kennedy Center Honoree Lily Tomlin.

You can watch highlights of this year’s fantastic evening below.

NYC: Live Onstage – An Interview With Lee Roy Reams

Do not miss your chance to see Broadway’s Lee Roy Reams live onstage to benefit The Spiral Theatre Studio on February 25th.

The evening with Lee Roy will begin with a Wine and Cheese mixer at 7:00 PM (for VIP Patrons), to be followed by an in-depth interview moderated by Hello, Dolly! historian Richard Skipper at 8 PM promptly.

Lee Roy has appeared on Broadway in music theater blockbusters Sweet Charity, Applause, Hello, Dolly!, La Cage Aux Folles, Beauty and the Beast and The Producers. He was nominated for both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards as “Best Featured Actor in a Musical” for his performance in the original production of 42nd Street in 1980.

Lee Roy has worked with practically every major star, director or choreographer who’s appeared on the Great White Way including Tony Award winners Gwen Verdon, Lauren Bacall, Carol Channing, Gower Champion, Ron Fields, Bob Fosse, Susan Stroman, Donna McKechnie, and tons more. Expect many, many stories from on and off-stage.

I’ve known and worked with Lee Roy since the early 1990s and NO ONE tells stories about show business like Lee Roy. A true Broadway star.

Don’t miss this uber-talented insider’s view of Broadway from a true story-teller. Guaranteed to have a FAB time 🙂

Here’s the details:

The Spiral Theatre Studio at 300 West 43rd Street, 6th Floor New York, NY 10036 – 8PM

PRICE: $30 music charge/$40 VIP (Includes Cocktail reception with Lee Roy prior to the interview)
RESERVATIONS: (845)365-0720

Throwback Thursday: Liza Minnelli on the Ed Sullivan Show “Sweet Blindness”

Some friends recently brought up this song  bringing back fun memories of freshman year in college when it was part of a required dance assignment.  So,  I of course had to go looking for a YouTube clip of it.

The recording I had in mind was the most popular version by the Fifth Dimension – it hit #13 on the Billboard 100 in 1968. But then I come across THIS.

Look at Liza move! AND I do believe that dancing stage left of her is Broadway’s Lee Roy Reams!

The things you find on the “interwebs.”

By the way, regular readers know my fondness for “the grape” so what could be more perfect? Wine, college memories, Liza and Lee Roy

I’m posting the Fifth Dimension track also for any purists who want to relive the 60s.

Dedicated to the  fab Linda Sabo.