BROADWAY BABIES: Currently wowing them on the Great White Way in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, veteran song-and-dance man Eric McCormack says he’d love to do another musical on Broadway, and would have
played Che in the current revival of Evita if they’d asked him. Unfortunately Ricky Martin got there ahead of him. Meanwhile, McCormack is onstage doing drama, while his Will & Grace partner Debra Messing is starring in a lavish new weekly series about building a Broadway musical. Can McCormack see himself doing a guest stint on Messing’s new series Smash? “Sure! I could go on the show in character, as Will Truman, lawyer. She could meet with me to discuss getting a divorce from her husband, Brian D’Arcy James. And then just as she’s leaving my office she could get this puzzled look on her face, as if she knows she knows me from somewhere but can’t remember where.” What happens then? “She leaves, and I get to do a big song about divorce!”
Messing, in the meantime, has been going through her own life-imitating-art-imitating-life drama. On Smash she cheats on her schoolteacher husband (the aforementioned Brian D’Arcy James) by having an affair with a Broadway leading man played by Rent star Will Chase. In real life she’s split with her hubby, screenwriter Daniel Zelman, and is spending most of her time with, ta-DAH! — Will Chase, who has also split from his wife.
Meanwhile, Smash scene-stealer Megan Hilty, the buxom Broadway belter who desperately wants to play Marilyn Monroe in the fictional musical in the series, is actually playing the Marilyn Monroe role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes this week on Broadway (the real Broadway.) And yes, I know, Carol Channing was the first and remains the most famous Lorelei Lee. But just to cap it all, on tonight’s episode of Smash Anjelica Huston makes her much-anticipated debut as a singer – and not with just any old song. Ms Huston sings a classic ballad from a classic, 74-year-old Broadway musical, Knickerbocker Holiday.
The timeless tune she warbles is September Song, introduced to audiences in 1938 by her grandfather Walter Huston. Now that’s show business!
QUOTABLE QUOTES: “Mike Nichols was the director and I had a great audition. Tommy Tune personally taught me to tap, and everyone was really happy, except Lee Gershwin, Ira Gershwin’s widow, who said, ‘Over my dead body will that whore be in the show.’ That was when it changed for me and I thought, ‘Oh, this is not going to be easy, it’s not just about talent.’ She had no idea of who I was, what I had accomplished up to that point, and all the shows I’d done. That was an ‘aha!’ moment for me.”
The speaker? Vanessa Williams in conversation with Broadway.com, describing her failed audition for My One And Only, one of several juicy morsels in her new autobiography, YOU HAVE NO IDEA: A Famous Daughter, Her No-Nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other), co-authored with her mom Helen Williams.
SHE’S STILL HERE: After she finished her stint in the revival of Follies on Broadway – not to mention her first New York concerts ever, at Lincoln Center no less — British SuperDiva Elaine Paige treated herself to a “heavenly” holiday in Barbados. “I just lazed around, swam, read my book and caught my breath,” she reports. “Barbados was such fun and I managed to catch up with a couple of pals, Cliff Richard and Cilla Black. Both of them have places there and we went for a drink. The next day Cilla flew home to the UK and upon arrival realized she’d left her mobile phone in Barbados – guess who became the ‘phone courier’? I safely brought it home to the UK and ensured it was returned to her.” La Paige is currently in L.A. doing Follies at the Ahmanson with Broadway cast mates Jan Maxwell, Danny Burstein and Ron Raines. (Tony Award winner Victoria Clark has replaced Bernadette Peters.) Meanwhile, Follies leads Maxwell and Burstein are both nominated for Tony Awards. And guess who’s nominated for a New York Drama Desk award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical? Ms. Elaine Paige. Which certainly won’t hurt Hollywood box office sales for Follies.