Celebrating Mother’s Day With Broadway Musical Moms

Four moms from the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen unite for this special rendition of 'Anyone Have A Map?'
Broadway musical moms help me celebrate Mother's Day as four moms from the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen unite for this special rendition of 'Anyone Have A Map?'
L-R Lisa Brescia, Christiane Noll, Jessica Phillips, and Jennifer Laura Thompson (screen capture)

Broadway musical moms help me celebrate Mother’s Day with some totally appropriate tunes from musicals that mine the gold in all kinds of motherly relationships.

Four Dear Evan Hansen moms from the Broadway and touring companies united for this terrific take on “Anybody Have A Map?” from the blockbuster musical. I’m sure a lot of moms out there relate to this.

Liz Callaway really scored with this Act One closer for the 1983 Broadway musical, Baby. The song takes place after Liz’s ‘pregnant for the first time’ character feels her baby kick for the very first time.

From Stephen Sondheim’s brilliant Into The Woods, Broadway icon Betty Buckley served up a show-stopping “Children Will Listen” backed by the Boys Choir of Harlem at the 1992 Carnegie Hall concert honoring Sondheim.

In the 1996 stage musical adaptation of the Tom Hanks hit film BIG, Barbara Walsh played the mother of the lead character who magically grows up and leaves home on an adventure. At the top of Act Two, the mom reflects on how quickly kids can grow up wishing she could ‘stop time’ for just a while.

Just like in life (I’m thinking my own life here), Broadway musical moms take many forms – aunts, godmothers, neighbors, even god-like forces like Mother Earth – who show up at the right moment to help us on our way.

I loved the creative and oh-so-moving 2017 revival of Once On This Island. Alex Newell and company brought the house down nightly with this jubilant and earthy “Mama Will Provide.”

As I recently reported, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and theater producers have announced Broadway shows will begin reopening this September.

News Round-Up: August 5, 2020

Michael Turchin (via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

Instagram: Lance Bass’s hubby, Michael Turchin (above), shares the lovely view from Grand Teton National Park. The mountains, trees, and lake look nice, too. 🙂

The Advocate: Amid the results of Tuesday night primaries, Marko Liias, a gay man, appears to have advanced to the general election for lieutenant governor in Washington State. Transgender woman Stephanie Byers was unopposed in her primary for a state representative post in Kansas and is likely to become the state’s first trans legislator. And openly gay Jon Hoadley won a U.S. House nomination in Michigan and, if elected in November, will be the first out member of the state’s congressional delegation.

EW: Disney is developing an adaptation of the musical Once on This Island. Set in the Caribbean’s French Antilles, the tuner tells the story of a peasant girl named Ti Moune who falls in love with an aristocrat. I raved about the recent revival which deservedly took home the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

Out: If there wasn’t enough nonsense going on, it looks like the Straight Pride folks in Modesto, California, are gearing up for a return. You know, the celebration of cisgender, hetero white men whose organizers once called themselves a “totally peaceful racist group?”

LGBTQ Nation: A violent mob attack on two young gay men at the Joffa Port has shaken Israel as shocking video circulates of a lone man coming to their rescue while hundreds watched and did nothing to help.

CNN: A new ad from the Trump campaign deceptively alters a photo of former Vice President Joe Biden campaigning outdoors in Iowa to make it seem as if Biden is “hiding” in his Delaware basement. The ad also uses two other images in misleading ways: one of Biden at an Iowa house party and one of Biden praying at a Delaware church.

The Daily Beast: Trump campaign senior advisor Mercedes Schlapp Schlapp attempted to defend Donald Trump’s whiplash-inducing hypocrisy, attempting to not only make the distinction between absentee and mail-in voting but also trying to justify why some states’ mail vote is “safe and secure” while others are not. CNN’s Brianna Keilar finally had enough telling Schlapp she was “sowing doubt” and fear into the minds of voters.

“This is just pointless, okay,” Keilar exploded. “This is pointless. I get it, you’re just saying a bunch of crap! Okay. You’re saying a bunch of crap.”

Podcast: 20th Anniversary Of Matthew Shepard, Taylor Swift, Facebook & Broadway’s ‘Once On This Island’

The Randy Report podcast is your source for LGBT political, pop culture and entertainment news via podcast

In this week’s podcast:

• The nation observed the 20th anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard

• Anti-LGBTQ forces in Romania faced an epic fail in trying to outlaw marriage equality

• New Jersey moves to protect transgender students

• The Trump administration requires foreign diplomatic employees’ partners to be married in order to be in the US or face deportment

• Taylor Swift goes political speaking out for LGBTQ rights and Democratic candidates

• Facebook added coming out as a new “Life Event” option as the US observed National Coming Out Day

• New polling shows 70% of Americans support protecting LGBTQ folks from discrimination

• Plus my review of the fantastic Broadway revival of ‘Once On This Island’

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report. Hit the play button below.

Review: The Joy That Is ‘Once On This Island’

I didn’t realize it had been a nearly a year since I’d visited New York City until I planned a recent trip back east.

My bestie for life, Carlye, was being installed as the new Episcopal Bishop for the Diocese of Newark. So I made sure I built in a day to catch up on some Broadway 🙂

And man, am I glad I did.

It took me a year to get to Circle in the Square on Broadway to see the Tony Award winning revival of Once On This Island, but it was definitely worth the wait.

Wow.

It would be easy to run out of superlatives that describe this gorgeous, delightful and supremely creative masterpiece running strong nearly a year after opening on Broadway.

But it’s also just as easy to pick one word to describe this theatrical experience: Joy.

In a world that seems turned upside-down at times, director Michael Arden’s grounded new staging of this musical fable about a boy and girl named Daniel and Ti Moune set in the French Antilles is a testament to the belief that that which lifts us up can conquer darkness.

In that this is theater-in-the-round, the entire show is an environmental experience from the moment you enter the space.

The show begins with the citizens of this island intermittently entering the sandy beach to begin their day. Along the way, there’s trash to pick up (guess where the cast’s props come from?), greetings to make, and goats (live ones) to walk.

But then, a storm frightens a small girl and the denizens of the island take on different roles to tell the story of Ti Moune, sharing the lesson that love can “withstand the storm, and cross the earth, and survive, even in the face of death.”

The winning score by musical theater veterans Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Anatasia) is easily one of the most melodic currently on Broadway. Kudos to music supervisor Chris Fenwick for the undeniably artful singing throughout the show. From lead vocals to the sung sounds of birds and frogs, this is high-end musicality.

And speaking of leads, the casting here is perfection as each actor steps forward to take their turn in the spotlight.

From Alex Newell’s “Asaka – goddess of the earth,” who brings down the house with an exuberant and effervescent “Mama Will Provide;” to Quentin Earl Darrington’s “Agwe – god of the ocean,” who sets the stage for Ti Moune and Daniel to meet with vocal power that’s truly a force of nature (“Rain”); Darlesia Cearcy’s “Erzulie, goddess of love” is delicious bringing the two young lovers together in “Human Heart;” and American Idol alum Tamyra Gray is stunning as “Papa Ge, god of death.”

Tamyra Gray as “Papa Ge” (all photos – Joan Marcus)

Oh yes, you’ll note Newell and Gray take on their roles through gender-blind casting, which works flawlessly.

In Michael Arden’s island world, the temperamental gods are gender fluid.

The beauty here is that once the story begins, the commitment to storytelling is such that we don’t think about gender, just the tale being told – to spectacular effect.

Alex Newell (L) as “Asaka” and Hailey Kilgore as “Ti Moune”

While gods have their power, Kenita R. Miller and Boise Holmes, who play “Mama Euralie” and “Tonton Julian” respectively, bring grounding, vulnerable humanity as the couple that adopts young Ti Moune.

Their goodbye to Ti Moune as she leaves them to journey to her destiny is a heartfelt, emotional highpoint.

Other intimate moments, like the lilting “Some Girls,” sung with charming warmth by “Daniel” (Isaac Powell), allows romantic respite from larger numbers.

And then there’s the fire and grace of Hailey Kilgore, whose Broadway debut as Ti Moune was fittingly honored with a Tony Award nomination for “Best Actress in a Leading Role” and a Theatre World Award.

Her vocal range and artistry, front and center in the joyful “Waiting for Life,” is only equaled by her earthy, ebullient passion on display in “Ti Moune’s Dance.”

And speaking of dance, choreographer Camille A. Brown (Drama Desk nomination) brings a physical vocabulary that provides a visual, human heartbeat throughout the evening in moments big and small.

You may remember the sexy, richly organic staging she brought to the Emmy Award-winning Jesus Christ Superstar Live! earlier this year on NBC.

This isn’t “TV dance competition high kicks and spins.” From storyteller to storyteller, every movement throughout the evening is borne out of characters living in the moment.

Quentin Earl Darrington as “Agwe”

I’m not the only one who’s smitten. The critics fell over themselves when the production debuted:

“A big, bold, ravishing delight! After seeing this imaginative and dynamic musical, you may feel once is not enough!”– New York Times

“Bewitching and beautiful!” – New York Daily News

“A place where magic is possible and beauty is apparent for all to see!” – The Huffington Post

“Impossible to resist!” – NY1

Go see this gorgeous revival of Once On This Island at Circle in the Square on Broadway to feel your spirit refilled.

Once On This Island is intimate, romantic, inspiring, creative, uplifting.

Once On This Island is joy.

GMA: Broadway’s ONCE ON THIS ISLAND Performs “Why We Tell The Story”

The cast of Broadway’s Once on This Island joined Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts to discuss the revival of the musical and perform the show’s finale, “Why We Tell the Story.”

The neat new digital series from GMA, “Dressing Room Reveal with Robin Roberts,” goes backstage to Robin Robert’s dressing room for intimate performances and conversations.

Ah. This gives me life.

Once on This Island unfolds as a group of storytellers, during a nighttime rainstorm, calm a young girl of their village with the story of Ti Moune, a Caribbean island country girl who falls in love with an aristocrat.

I love this show so much: the message, the music, the people.

And speaking of the people I love a lot :)…

T. Oliver Reid, the show’s dance captain, and I worked together in two Broadway shows – Chicago and Follies. As much as I’ve laughed through the years with T, I’ve also always enjoyed his talent and awesome work ethic. When you’re on stage with T, you know you better keep up!

And the wondermous and handsome Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis (Porgy & Bess, Phantom of the Opera, Side Show), who I’ve known for even longer than T., was playing the role of “Agwé,” god of water, when this was filmed.

So, double joy for me watching this clip.

Watch the gorgeous cast of Once On This Island perform “Why We Tell the Story” below and feel your spirit renewed.

Happy Sunday!

Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis and GMA’s Robin Roberts

Broadway: Alex Newell & Cast Of Once On This Island Slay “Mama Will Provide”

One of my favoritest Broadway musicals ever, Once On This Island, is back on the Great White Way in a gorgeous new revival.

Check out Alex Newell (Glee) as “Asaka,” Mother Earth, singing “Mama Will Provide” with the luminous company on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

The role, traditionally cast as a woman, is sung with vigor and warmth by Newell. Score a point for non-traditional casting that totally delivers.

The show tells the tale of “Ti Moune” who is sent on a journey by the gods of the island to prove the strength of love over death.

If you are in NYC, make sure you see it.

My longtime friends Norm Lewis (Tony Award nominee for Porgy & Bess) and T. Oliver Reid are both in the cast weaving their powerful gifts into the tapestry this is Once On This Island.

Watch below.