By Melissa Griegel . . .

Broadway veteran and Tony nominee Brenda Braxton (Dreamgirls, Chicago, Smokey Joe’s Cafe) is launching a new cabaret and talk show at The Green Room 42. Her in-person shows will also be live-streamed and will feature a combination of songs, storytelling, and interviews with guest stars. She launched her first show on March 6 with two-time Tony winner Bebe Neuwirth (Sweet Charity, Chicago, The Addams Family). Both actresses have played several roles in Chicago and have appeared together in the show.

Brenda began her show singing “Shine a Light”, a song sung by Jennifer Holliday on her Feel My Soul album. She then explained to the audience why she wanted to do a Broadway-themed talk show.   “I have wanted to do this forever and ever. I am such a fan of Johnny Carson. And I put a little cabaret in there too, so I call it the ‘cab talk’, kind of like ‘cabaret talk show’.” Brenda got her feet wet during the pandemic by guest-hosting Seth Rudetsky’s Stars in the House. For her new show, Brenda decided to do it in the style of Johnny Carson, writing her questions on large index cards, and having a sidekick à la Ed McMahon. “I got me my best girlfriend. We went to high school together. We have done shows together. We have had a business together. Welcome, Allison Williams Foster!” She and Allison have done Dreamgirls and Jelly’s Last Jam together.

Brenda Braxton – Bebe Neuwith – Allison Williams Foster

When Brenda entered her fifties, she found it was harder to get roles. She and Allison founded a group called Act II: Now What? to help women of this age maneuver through staying relevant in theater and landing jobs. “When you turn a certain age in theater, you become a forgotten a woman, unfortunately.” Having previously been in Chicago, she asked her agent to send her out for an out-of-town production of Chicago and his response was “They are going younger now.” She asked him: “Younger than what?” Needless to say, she fired her agent and has gone on to return to Chicago on Broadway. As an act of triumph, she then graced us with “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (Funny Girl.) Her message for the audience was to not let anyone dim your light.

In introducing her guest star for the evening, Brenda said, “We have an amazing guest; I love calling her my friend. She is wonderful—just so talented—Ms. Bebe Neuwirth!” She and Bebe have been friends for over 40 years. Allison commented that she has worked with Bebe several times, the first of which was in Sweet Charity. Brenda has been such a fan of Cheers and Fraser, that she spent some time asking Bebe about her role as Lilith. She was on Broadway at the time and did a small part on Cheers, not knowing she would eventually be offered a larger role on the show. She was hesitant to leave the theater for the show. “I asked four people for advice—four people I knew who would give me good advice: Mommy and Daddy and also Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. They all gave me great advice and they were all very supportive and said it’s okay, you can do this and then come back to theater. So that was always my thought. I will do that, and then I will come back to theater.”

Bebe talked about how she got involved in show biz in the first place. “I started taking ballet class when I was five. I only wanted to dance. When I was 13, I saw Pippin on Broadway, and I said to myself: I want to do Pippin on Broadway and I want to do that guy’s choreography. At that time I didn’t know who Fosse was, but I just knew it felt like me.”  A highlight of the evening was when the three women sang “I Am My Own Best Friend” from Chicago. The most humorous portion came when Brenda came out dressed as an aging star in 2043 reprising her role in Smokey Joe’s Cafe. There were several audience members from Chicago and from Smokey Joe’s Cafe and the laughter in the room was uproarious.

Brenda sang “Celebrate Love” at the piano, and ended the show with a rousing rendition of “I’m a Woman”. The show was led by Musical Director and pianist Tracy Stark, with Skip Ward on bass, David Silliman on drums, and Andrew Gutauskas on saxophone. Some of the proceeds from the evening went to support the animal rescue organization Asher House. Stay tuned for more dates for upcoming installments of her show on

Photos and by Melissa Griegel