Last week I got to attend the “Broadway Sings for Pride” 6th annual Celebrity Gay Pride Charity Concert. It had so many great performers. Meg and I had a chance to chat with a few of them, which was awesome and gave us a greater appreciation of the event.
We first spoke with Trevor Braun. He told us, “Pride is about having and loving who you are and showing that to others, and hopefully then sharing in that love and just celebrating diversity.” He also told us that every year he goes to the Pride parade and it’s amazing to see how everyone comes together in this mutual celebration of love for each other. It’s so simple, but it’s the most important thing that everyone needs to learn in life and throughout the world — just loving each other and loving yourself. People don’t have enough love in the world. It’s nice seeing the whole Broadway community coming together at a time like this, so soon after the Orlando massacre. It’s such a tight-knit community and it’s so supportive; that’s the great thing about the Broadway community — they are really willing to stick behind each other and do whatever they need to do to help out. Trevor performed “Wig In A Box” from Hedwig And The Angry Inch. It was amazing; I wish I’d videoed it.
I asked Enisa, a singer/songwriter: “What does Pride mean to you?” “Pride is just about being confident in yourself and who you are and other people and just accepting everybody and loving everybody for who they are,” she replied. Her agent from Wilhelmina told her about Broadway Sings For Pride, and said they wanted to have her perform. She was so excited. It was one of her first performances as an artist. She started off doing covers on YouTube and will be releasing her first single in the next few weeks — everything is all exciting and new for her. This was going to be her first performance of one of her as-yet-unreleased songs. She is still doing covers on YouTube, but she admitted the new, original material brings its own level of excitement.
Her two top videos are Take Me To Church and Titanium. She didn’t wind up singing her new song in the end, just her cover of Take Me To Church, but her voice is incredible. I asked Enisa if she would ever want to come to Broadway. “It’s really funny, because in high school I did a lot of musical theater and we did all those type of performances like The Wiz, The Music Man — and I was always a part of that, but I am going to stick to pop music for now and we are going to see how that goes, but you know, I never say no to anything.” I hope she makes it soon. Fingers crossed!
Then I got to talk to AJ Shively, who was in Bright Star. I asked him what Pride means to him. “Pride is reinventing yourself and your answers to these questions. No, I have been saying Pride is courage. Pride is freedom. It’s expressing yourself fully. Pride is not apologizing for who you are and what you like to do.”
On a less serious note, I asked a few of my standard Broadway interview questions.
What’s your favorite part about being in Bright Star?
“Oh, it’s got to be the company, the people, the crew, the musicians, the actors. It’s the creative team, it’s a really tight-knit, wonderful group of people, and I am going to miss them a lot.” (The show just closed.)
Favorite part of the show he is not in:
“Oh, man, that I like to perform. Well, I enjoy making up lyrics backstage. Jeff Blumenkrantz and I share a dressing room and he is obviously a Tony‑nominated composer/lyricist. So we have a good time making up lyrics to My Baby, the theme of which is ‘I can’t wait to see your face.’ So there are all sorts of thing we can’t wait to see every day we come up with.”
But what’s your favorite part of the actual performance that you aren’t in?
“The favorite part that I am not in, I watch. It’s “Way Back in the Day”, the scene where Alice Murphy gets transformed to young Alice Murphy. They take off her costume. And when she is leaning out that house like screaming, screaming, and the house is spinning, that’s probably my favorite part in the whole show. I watch that in the wings. That and the porch scene, which is almost the opposite of that. It’s just the quiet book scene between her and her father right at the very end of the show. And the audience goes ‘oh.’
When do they go “oh”?
“Oh, the one I really get to hear is when I pull out the blue sweater. So that’s got to be my favorite.”
I actually interviewed Paul [Nolan] about the show, so it is really upsetting when shows that you really love, the three shows this season that I loved the most, closed.
“They are all gone. Well, you know, it was a really loud season and we were a really quiet show so it makes sense. I am disappointed because I am proud of the simple storytelling. I am proud of the work that we have done so it’s a shame more people didn’t get to see it.”
What is your take on cellphones when they go off? Do you want to grab them?
“No. You know what? It hasn’t happened very much on Bright Star. I had one just a couple of days ago though that was the sound of a doorbell. And it was the biggest — I was going to say a bad word. It was very confusing because I was like, is that the stage door or did a sound effect go wrong? This doorbell sort of chiming.”
That’s really distracting.
“Yes, very distracting. No, I don’t get angry. I am not going to pull a LuPone and stop the show but like turn it off and also don’t check it because your screen is a light and it shines on your face so that’s the only thing we can see. But I love seeing the Fitbits turn on when people clap. That’s really funny. It’s like a sea of stars.”
But that’s good because you are not actually performing then, so it’s probably not distracting.
“It’s true. It’s not distracting. It’s very entertaining though. I don’t know why it tickles me. Makes me laugh, the little Fitbits, even worse than cell phones going off. I guess it’s a new fashion trend that raincoats are reflective. So people, they are like glowing in the dark in the audience. You see like neon yellow. I can see you, I can see you.”
Meg: It’s more crowded and even more of a fair playing field.
“And Hamilton is still going to be going. Who knows what their ticket price will be.”
Joy: Yes, but you know what? Hamilton, though, their leads are leaving so maybe it might go down a little.
“Well, there is not a Hamilton in that season so hopefully — hopefully more people will be able to play longer.”
Joy: I hope so.
Meg: Everyone is going to have their tickets from, like, two years ago for next year.
“Well, I am really glad about this year’s scope of the genres, like that electronic dance musical, bluegrass Americana musical.”
Joy: Spring Awakening.
Joy: Deaf West.
“Deaf West came back, and you have gospel in The Color Purple. You have hip hop opera. And then like traditional — Sara Bareilles. You have traditional musical theater team.”
Joy: Everything this year has been, like, so, like, changing.
“It’s great. It’s really exciting.”
Joy: And you are lucky to have been part of it.
“Oh, yes. It’s hard to be sad that it’s closing because we did the album, we did the Tony Awards. I met Oprah. You know, we have had like so many — the response at the stage door and just within the theater — you have seen it a couple of times. People go nuts and that feels really rewarding. So even though you are not profitable, like, that’s the ugly side of Broadway, I guess. Artistically it’s been just a dream come true.”
Joy: And you got to work with Steve Martin—
“—like Steve Martin—”
Joy: who is the coolest person in the world.
“And Edie Brickell and Josh Rhodes.”
Meg: I am very excited to come see it because like I love — I saw Songbird last season and I love bluegrass. I am very into country music, very into stuff like that. So I am very excited to see it. I hate that I had to wait, but it’s like, I am going to see it. See six shows in one week so I can see everything.
Meg: Anticipating it.
“Songbird is kind of — it’s close to what we are stylistically, except we are set in the 40s, so if you think of Songbird as like contemporary indie movie, we are like a 1940s classic Casablanca.”
“It’s that kind of storytelling.”
Joy: It’s really good. I enjoyed it.
“Thank you so much.”
Joy: What song are you singing tonight?
“I Don’t Want To Be by Gavin DeGraw.”
Joy: I love that song.
“Yes, keeping it dirty.”
Joy: One Tree Hill.
“One Tree Hill. You know, I never actually watched it.”
Joy: It’s their song.
“It’s their title sequence, right? It’s funny, I guess, because I had a live recording so I showed up to soundtrack today and trying to sing the song, and I am like ‘what are you guys doing’ because they had the album version and I never heard the album version. I guess I had a live album. I don’t even know.”
Joy: That’s really funny.
“I guess he released his first album twice.”
Meg: Yes. They had the raw version and then they had the in-studio.
Joy: You can tell.
“I know. Good taste.”
I spoke with Danny Quadrino, who was in Newsies on Broadway and now Wicked. Pride means to him:“Just owning yourself and being proud to be who you are and not letting anyone tell you you can’t be you. You know, in high school when people like make fun of you and stuff, it’s always—I like to think back on that now because it’s like I overcame it, and I am in a good place now, and all the people from my hometown are now proud of me. It’s really exciting.”
Who do you play in Wicked?
“I am in the ensemble, and I understudy the role of Bok. He went on about two weeks ago, and I have been on about like 30, 40 times like in the last year, year and a half.”
Were you in Wicked with Kara Lindsay?
“Yes, and we did Newsies together. Newsies was amazing for me.”
You auditioned 23 times?
“Yes. I was in finally when it was in New Jersey, and when it came to Broadway, I kept going in. I took over Garett, and then we got to do Peter Pan together, so it’s nice to work with Garett. A bunch of Newsies did Peter Pan. That was a big joke, like all the Newsies were Lost Boys.”
Danny is doing his own concert at 54 Below on July 23rd at 11:30 p.m. Go — you won’t be disappointed! At the Pride event, he sang “Imagine” by John Lennon and “Rise Up” by Andra Day, and I could watch him sing all night.
Brock Ciarlelli was next. Pride means to him: “Showing this kind of support for anyone and everyone no matter what that means. And making sure that we have each other’s back. I think that’s a very important concept that we need in the world today.
Yes, that’s true, especially after what happened in Orlando.
“I absolutely think it’s stuff like that that makes Pride even stronger, and having those setbacks that are so tragic and so horrific that make us realize what we need to do to move forward.”
You’re on a show called The Middle on ABC. It’s a comedy, right?
“Yes. It’s with Patricia Heaton who won two Emmys for playing Raymond’s wife on Everybody Loves Raymond, and Neil Flynn from Scrubs.”
What do you think of this event?
“I was brought to Broadway Sings. Neal [Bennington, the event’s founder] asked me to come last year, and then he asked again and told me all about our honoree, Ruth [Coker Burks]. I think she is such an amazing person who we need more of in this world. She did something that was very unpopular at a time when we needed her the most. She came and she helped a bunch of people in the AIDS crisis whose families had abandoned them and all that kind of stuff. She was kind of their guardian angel at a time when that crisis was happening. No one even wanted to touch them, but she said no, no, no, you deserve love and compassion just like everyone else in this world. I am so proud to be here kind of honoring her and she is having the time of her life here in New York and the fact that I am able to contribute to her and her celebration, I am all about it.” He tap-danced like a boss and I enjoyed his performance a lot.
Last but not least, Adam B. Shapiro.
What does Pride mean to you?
“Pride means to me, first of all, knowing exactly who you are. And not apologizing for it. Yes. It’s like, I mean, obviously, it’s being proud of who you are but it’s also knowing who you are and being fully confident in who you are.” He sang Happily Ever After from Once Upon A Mattress. Which he was very excited about, because, in his words, “I twisted it a little bit for the occasion and for me, because when I was a kid, I never wanted to be the prince in the fairy tale. I wanted to be the one that married the prince, so I am taking this on as my own.”
Happy Pride Month, everyone!
Interviewed by Joy and Meg | Edited by Sarah | Transcribed by Yaffi | Photos by Meg