DONNABLOG #22 – OPENING NIGHT

OPENING NIGHT.  Aahhhh!!!

Wow, everyone.  It was a bit surreal.   So much buzzing.  It was a crazy night, y’all.  It started with a really cool tradition called The Gyspy Robe.  Before every opening of a musical on Broadway, a robe that is adorned with some sort of art representing the shows that have gone before (all the way back to when the tradition was started and I’m not sure when that was), is presented to the chorus person who has done the most Broadway shows in that company.  It is presented by the last person who got the robe.  Our person receiving was our amazing dance captain, Eric Sciotto.  We were so proud and so was he.  It’s a real honour in the community.  This is a shot of Eric with Gavin and I after the ceremony.

Our dressing rooms and backstage areas were crammed with stuff – gifts, flowers, people.  I had so many cards and presents.  Our producers gave us each a bottle of Veuve, plus posters and little thank yous.  Our dressers (I mean the two guys – Herb and Tom – who dress our room) gave us Champagne as well to have after the show and expensive chocolate.  It was gorgeous.   Everyone was so excited.  The show went really well, actually. Smooth.  The cast was so pumped but it didn’t go overboard.

The party was crazy. There were so many people there.  And so many celebs.  I didn’t even get to meet most of them, the room was so huge and full.  The party was at Chelsea Piers so it was basically a huge pier that was all decorated.  There were ping-pong tables (and for those of you who know the show, you know why) and a shoe chandelier made by Manolo Blahnik who is one of our sponsors. Oh I guess I should show you what I was wearing.  There is no shot of my shoes which were these amazing red John Fluevog’s as my nod to Canada.  The shot below is when I just walked in the door and the gentlemen are all but one of my dressing room mates.  From left to right – Jeff Metzler, me, Gavin Lodge and Mike McGowan.  I love these boys.

Here is another shot of my fellow cast members. The ladies are Esther on the left and Ellyn on the right.

The shots make it look like I’m wide in the jacket but let me assure you, I looked all cinched. That’s right, snnnap!

And here are our leading “men”

And our leading divas

I had a rather cool moment.  The last “story-telling” song in our show is We Belong, the iconic Pat Benatar hit that is a really moving, thematic, story-wrapping up, last message moment in our show.  I got to meet Dan Navarro who was one of the co-writers of the song.  He was so sweet and so genuinely happy about the show and about his song being used  . . . and not just because he was getting some kick-ass royalties for it.

And, of course, I had to get a picture with my new best friend,  Joan Rivers.  Love her.

This is our wig designer, Richard Mawby, who became a buddy on the show.  I don’t know why I always seem to become pals with hair and makeup people but I love them.  And Richard is hilarious. He’s from England and is really quite a superstar.  He did La Cage here in New York and in London, the revival of Evita that started in London and is now coming to New York with Ricky Martin, Hairspray in London, on and on.  Great guy.

Our wonderful makeup designer, Ben Moir, who’s an Aussie who’s been in London for years, came back for opening.  Where do I begin? Ben is the most incredible makeup genius. To illustrate that, let me show you his own before and after.  This is what Ben looks like in life.

And this is Ben’s alter-ego, Vanity Fair, at the opening night party.

Come on!!

And Ben wasn’t the only “Lady with a little xtra” on the Pink Carpet.  Miss Flotilla DeBarge

Logan Hardcore

Bianca Del Rio (who looks a bit like Nick Adams in drag, I have to admit – but it’s not)

Courtney Act

Gusty Winds

And last but not least, Miss Sherry Vine

And then we had the celeb-celebs.  Renee Zellweger, Barbara Walters (who, apparently raved about the show on the View the next day – Thank you Miss Walters), Miriam Margolyes (played the nurse in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet).  And what was very cool, especially since he has never seen the musical, Guy Pierce – the original Adam, was at the show and loved it.

He stayed for the whole party.  Here’s a great shot of he and Nick Adams – the Felicia Chronicles.

Okay, here go on the Priscilla Opening Night Celebrity Photo Tour.

Bette Midler, of course.

Christie Brinkley

Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman, writers of score of Hairspray among many other things.

The beautiful Audra McDonald, who also happens to be dating our leading “man”, Will Swenson.

Lee Daniels, director of Precious

Kathleen Turner and her beautiful daughter, Rachel Weiss

Jerry Mitchell, choreographer of Hairspray, the Musical and director/choreographer of Legally Blonde, the Musical

Roger Rees, who has taken over for Nathan Lane in The Addams Family

The hilarious and brilliant Bruce Vilanch (love the T-shirt)

And finally, and I love that she was there but I would have loved to have met her, Charlotte Rae. Yes, that’s right, Mrs. Garrett from The Facts of Life.

My people, it was a crazy, fun, night.  I was so thrilled to have my dear pal, Micah, and my best friend of 27 years, Krista, there to share it with me.  And, I guess vicariously, all of you who are sweet enough to keep reading about this grateful Canadian’s journey South of the border.   Now we enter a new phase of the experience – life after opening.  So much to explore.

Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 3:45 pm  Comments (2)  

DONNABLOG #21

Well, here we are.  The day of my Opening Night Debut on Broadway.  It’s all a bit surreal, I have to admit.  I’ve been thinking about this day/moment from the second I was told I got the show.  What would it feel like?  Would I be scared or happy or joyous?  Would the world stop turning for a moment?  Would I be disappointed or surprised?

It’s 9:10 AM and I’m lying in bed getting ready to start the day.  Two of my favourite people are here to experience Opening Night with me and they’re still sleeping.  I want to savour every moment of today.   It still feels like any other day but I know that in 12 hours, I’ll be getting ready to go to one of the most remembered moments of my life, when I got to go to my first Broadway Opening party of a show I’m in.  I feel calmer than I thought I might, which is actually really nice.  I feel at home here in NYC. People have been asking me how it hasn’t happened sooner.  I have to admit, that’s a bit of an odd question to answer. It’s not like I turned down “so  many offers to come before” or something like that.  The timing just wasn’t right.  I had so many other lessons to learn before I got here, I think.  And it was just the right time now.

I love how people are loving our show.  They are out of their minds by the end.  I love my dressing room of boys.  Mike, Gavin, Tad and our token “young’n” Jeff.  They are funny and loving and kooky and mature and immature and supportive.  It makes going in to work a joy for me and I look forward to seeing them every day.  I feel like all of the years of work and sweat and stress and play has lead me to this and I can sit in it and feel like I belong here.  I don’t have any of those “I feel like I’m a faker” feelings I’ve had in years gone by and which many performers can have from time to time.

It’s an amazing thing when you can just allow yourself to be present . . . without planning ahead of the moment or judging.  I saw a friend’s quote today on Facebook,

Remember to never hide who you are. Then you can start to make life better!

Isn’t that the truth?  And what a perfect statement for Priscilla.  Living one’s life with respect for yourself and for others, and filling your life and everyone else’s life you touch with joy.  In my opinion, there is no great legacy.

Chookas!

Published in: on March 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm  Comments (3)  

DONNABLOG #20

How perfect that as we reach the landmark 20th DONNABLOG that I have this to share with you. As of today, (whew, I can barely contain my joy) I am on an original Broadway cast recording.  The cast recording of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert launches today at the theatre.  It will only be available at the theatre from today until Apr. 5 when it launches worldwide. 

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This has been a bit of fantasy of mine since I was young . . .  even though I didn’t think I was going to be in musicals then.  But it’s apparently a time and, hopefully, a life of “first-times”. 

Live it and love it, y’all.

Published in: on March 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm  Comments (1)  

DONNABLOG #19

I thought you might like to actually see the delicious cupcakes.  They are amazing, everyone.  If you are in New York, run-don’t walk to Magnolia Bakery and try this tasty treat.  Or any other treat for that matter.  I hear their Banana Pudding is a taste of Nirvana. Or, apparently, come Spring, you can have their tasty treats shipped to you.  I’m not sure if you can get them in Canada or not but in America anyway.

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What a crazy couple of days.  There has been such an insanely positive response to the cupcake tour.  (I feel all Evita Peron, doing my own “Rainbow Tour”)  I’ve gained about 30+ more Twitter followers, including . . . (take a breath  and drumroll) Joan Rivers.  Suddenly my world just got a bit sparklier.    I’m still floored by how ‘present’ she was.  In her crazy busy schedule, this is just another publicity op and she was interested in how the show was doing and who I was and what the audience response was.  I’m saying it here . . . Joan Rivers is a class act.   I hope I get to meet her again on opening night.  In case you read this Joan, I’m in the white crucifix wig in the funeral and the Scottish drag tourist at the end of Act 1 (along with the cupcake and paintbrush and showgirl, etc.).

Anyway, the pics from Tuesday are all over the internet and in papers and a picture of Joan and I ran in the Daily News and publicity told me they rarely run theatre stuff in the gossip section.  And there is a great photo montage on Broadwayworld.com.

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So great to have had a day off.  And then yesterday, apparently, Susan Stroman and Frank Wildhorn were at the show.  And so it begins.  They didn’t come backstage though.  Ah well.  Hopefully they still liked the show and will tell everyone to come see it.

Oh, here is a photo Tony Sheldon took of a few of us in our new costumes for the opening number.  I don’t have my coat on which is fierce (although you can just see a bit of the faux-fur collar in my hand) but I love the whole costume.  It’s awesome.

Okay, that’s all.  Things to do, my children.  More soon.

Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm  Comments (1)  

DONNABLOG #18 PART 2

So to continue from DONNABLOG #18 PART 1.  We jump back to the second celebrity.  Andy Cohen, the Executive Vice President, Original Programming and Development at Bravo.  He hosts the network’s reunion shows (like the Housewives of New Jersey, etc.) and their topical weekly show Watch What Happens Live.

We went to his office high up in . . . . wait for it . . . in 30 Rockefeller Plaza.  What???!!  There was so much security there, you’d think we were at the White House.  Anyway, he was really great.  Totally game, friendly.

Then were were off to Liz Smith’s.  (Who I told you about in Part 1.  Remember, I’m working backwards).

Which brings us back to the first person we saw.  The celebrity I’ve been holding on telling about until last, even though we saw her first.   We did the photo shoot in the lobby of her apartment because we didn’t think we’d get the costume in the elevator.  There are no words.  Well, here I am in the lobby of her apartment, waiting for her to arrive.

And after just a little wait, she arrived.

That’s right, people.  JOAN RIVERS.  She arrived with her daughter Melissa and COULD NOT BE MORE GRACIOUS.  They were both so warm and friendly and excited to be part of this shoot and to see the show.  Now these are not the official pictures, remember.  These are shots that were taken with my camera from the side.   But here is the three of us together.

Then Joan and I.  Teehee

After we had done the official picture, we were all just chatting – that’s right, hanging with Joan and Melissa Rivers – and Melissa (I call her Melissa :O) joked how it would be funny if I had one of Joan’s (I call her Joan, we’re like that now) broaches from her jewelery collection on my costume.  So Joan took off her necklace and put it around my neck  and started joking about being on her show and saying, “see, it goes with everything.

All in all, my children, it was an awesome day.  Thank you to the Priscilla team, Magnolia Bakery, Joan, Andy, and Liz for making my first month in New York a real doozie.

Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

DONNABLOG #18 PART 1

Oh my God, everyone.  I waited until I had done it to tell you about it.  Let the crazy New York/Priscilla adventures begin.  So last Friday or Saturday, our publicity guru, Joe Perrotta comes rushing up to me at intermission to ask me if I would play cupcake again.  But this time it’s to launch the new cupcake designed especially for Priscilla by the famous New York bakery, Magnolia, then got to the home or office of three celebrities in New York and be photographed presenting them with a cupcake.  Of course, I said yes.  Magnolia has created this AMAZING (I know cause I got to taste one) pistachio cupcake with green icing that matches our costumes.  It all happened this morning and you better believe I got pictures to show you.  I don’t have shots of the launch unfortunately but I have the other shots.  First of all, Hagen, our assistant wig/makeup head did my make up.  She kicked it.

I got made up at the theater.  We knew we wouldn’t have any place to get into costume at Magnolia and we knew it was only a few blocks from the theater so I got into costume and walked there.  It was hilarious.

People were waving and taking pictures of me/with me.

We got to Magnolia and there were a slew of photographers.  And our wonderful head producer, Garry.  He’s a doll. They handed me the tray of cupcakes and I was holding them and trying to tip the tray a little to show them better and, damn, if about 4 of them didn’t slide off . . . and onto my costume – 2 on the costume 2 on the floor.  What could I do?  I said, “5 second rule”, they all laugh, we cleaned up and kept taking pictures.  It was great.  Then lots of shots outside the bakery.  I’ll show those when they start to pop up.

Then off we went (I took off the costume between shots, of course).  I’m not going to go out of order for the celebrities.  Actually, I’ll go backwards.  The third person we saw was the adorable, sweet, darling Liz Smith, legendary New York columnist.

She was hilarious and lovely and if you look below, you can see she had some sass in her.  Look at her work that cupcake like it’s a full-time job.

Love her.  I even managed to crack her up a couple of times.  Gold.  So much fun.

I have to get to work now so I’ll finish telling you who the other two celebrities are after my show.  Stay tuned.

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm  Comments (1)  

DONNABLOG #17

Well we lived, y’all.  It was a really good sized house – almost full but holy crap, they were so full of craziness.  Right off the top, they were screaming.  They were the best audience we have had so far, including Toronto.  The show was a bit of a tough ride. We all were riding hard and a little high in the energy department.  It was just pitched a little high; a little overexcited.  I screwed something up in every number.  I covered it because . . . well, because I’m a trained professional.  😉  But it was kooky.  I was glad to find out I’m not alone in my kookiness.  Many folks had an over-energized show.   Don’t get me wrong, it was a good show.  And the crowd lost their minds.  A literal jump to their feet.  Quite a thrill for my first performance on Broadway.  And then there was lots of poster and program signing after the show.

Today we had rehearsal to look at a few things and around 3:00, I noticed our producers with a woman out in the auditorium. Her form didn’t look familiar with the lights in our eyes.  A few minutes after I noticed them, our Australian producer, Garry, and our director, Simon, came up the steps to the stage and introduced us to this lady – yes, folks, the Divine Miss M herself, . . . Miss Bette Midler. The woman, the legend was standing on our stage, not 10 feet from me.  She tiny, y’all.  And she couldn’t have been sweeter.  She told us how great the show looked and was and how she is so proud of it. She also assured us that she’s been working behind the scenes and giving notes and things, which we knew.  She was very gracious and excited about the show.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of her.

In fact, she was at the show on Monday and after today’s rehearsal, she came to the show again tonight and had a notepad in  her hands.  We could see her sitting in the front row of the balcony.  How crazy cool is that???!!!  I hope my opening night gift is good. 😉  So she’s real and this is real and . . . oh, the show was waaaaaayyy better tonight, by the way.  Everyone had settled down a little bit. There are all kinds of little flubs as we are still changing and improving the show. Love that.

Oh, last night after the first preview, one of the many producers on the show invited us all to his penthouse apartment for a party.  This place was so outrageously beautiful.  Beautifully designed, beautifully appointed.  And huge.  Right downtown overlooking the city.  All I kept thinking is, what are all of these people doing in MY apartment?  If this is the kind of living we’re going to be doing in this show  . . . bring in on.

Published in: on March 2, 2011 at 8:14 am  Leave a Comment