Celebrates 2nd Anniversary of his Podcast at 54 Below Featuring Broadway Legends
by Linda Amiel Burns . . .
There was a full house at 54 Below on September 6, 2022 to celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of 15 year old theater maven and phenom Charles Kirsch’s podcast Backstage Babble. Charles has been documenting the stories of Broadway since August 2020 and interviewed over 120 guests who have worked on shows from 1943 to the present day. Many of those Broadway legends, Tony winners and nominees, came to perform at the live show hosted by Charles who opened the show with the Backstage Babble theme written by Charles and Tom Judson. Renowned Music Director Michael Lavine beautifully accompanied each of the performers.
First up on stage was David Jackson (Grand Hotel, My One and Only) and David White (Five Guys Named Moe) who sang a lively duet of “Maybe My Baby Loves Me” from Grand Hotel (Music & Lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest) and talked about how they met in the show and became good friends.
Charles Busch (The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, Die, Mommie, Die!) said that he was never in a Broadway musical, but wrote and starred in many of his own shows. He treated the audience to a tender rendition of “In Buddy’s Eyes” from Follies (Sondheim).
Meg Bussert (Brigadoon, Camelot) talked about the many versions of Phantom of the Opera being produced. She got to play Carlotta in Maury Yeston’s Phantom and sang “This Place Is Mine” from that show.
Beth Fowler (Baby, Beauty and the Beast) performed a terrific “Patterns” from Baby (Maltby/Shire) that was unfortunately cut from the show. Jill O’Hara (Promises, Promises, George M!) was having vocal problems and wasn’t able to sing but talked about her career and her admiration for Jerry Orbach.
Kurt Peterson sang a medley from some of the shows that he has been in “I Like Me” (Dear World/Jerry Herman), The World’s Full of girls” (Follies/Sondheim) and “The Bakers Wife” from the show by Stephen Schwartz.
Brad Oscar (The Producers, Something Rotten) donned his helmet to sing his solo from The Producers by Mel Brooks “Haben She Gehort Das Deutsche Band?” John Rubinstein (Pippin, Children of a Lesser God) accompanied himself on the piano and sang “Growing Up” from the reworked Merrily We Roll Along by Sondheim.
Christine Pedi (Forbidden Broadway, Newsical the Musical) gave us her usual incredible performance singing “No Time At All” from Pippen. As Charles called out various singers like, Bernadette Peters, Joan Rivers, Julie Andrews, Cher, Liza, Elaine Stritch, etc, Christine imitated each one perfectly to the delight of the audience.
It was great to see Len Cariou (Sweeney Todd, A Little Night Music) singing again as he has had a straight role on the hit TV series, Blue Bloods for many years. This Tony winning star was in Teddy and Alice (Music: John Philip Sousa, Lyrics by Hal Hackady) and quietly sang a tender “Can I Let Her Go?” as Teddy Roosevelt talks to himself before his daughter Alice’s wedding.
To close out this terrific evening, the one and only Lee Roy Reams (42nd Street, Hello, Dolly!) told us about his successful audition for 42nd Street, and then belted out “Lullaby of Broadway” as only he can. He also mentioned that he had worked with everyone who appeared in this show, and that is one of the reasons that the evening felt like a warm Broadway reunion of old friends getting together and sharing their memories. Remarkable that a young man like Charles Kirsch, who loves Broadway, has put together a popular podcast for the past two years along with this live show at 54 Below, giving these talented and legendary singers the opportunity to reminisce, perform, and share their experiences and talents.
Featured Image:Kurt Peterson with Charles Kirsch
Special Thanks to Stephen Mosher for sharing his always exquisite photos!