Undercover Showtunes #3: Gloria Reuben
New York Musical Theatre Festival concludes its first-ever Spring Concert Series with "Undercover Showtunes" on Monday, June 18 at 7PM at The Zipper Factory (336 W 37th St.) in Manhattan.
"Undercover Showtunes" is a unique concert comprised of pop and rock songs that weren't written for musicals, but sound as if they might have been songs that tell a story, create a character, paint a full, vivid portrait as a great song in a musical is meant to do.
For more information on "Undercover Showtunes" and purchase tickets visit the show website at NYMF.org. Tickets are $50 and $90 with post-concert cast party included by calling 212-352-3101 or visiting online. Discounts are available here.
Gloria Reuben ("E.R.", Stuff Happens) is one of the many talented Broadway and screen stars set to appear at "Undercover Showtunes." BroadwayWorld.com's Eugene Lovendusky, based in San Francisco, got the opportunity to chat with Reuben about her up-coming performance and her past and future stage experiences
Eugene Lovendusky: I love the premise of the "Undercover Showtunes" concert. What song will you be performing Monday, June 18?
Gloria Reuben: I'll be performing "Love's In Need of Love" by Stevie Wonder and "Helpless" by Neil Young.
Eugene: Some musical theatre fans feel they simply cannot find anything better than the music, lyrics and orchestrations showtunes provide especially not on the radio. How do you feel about this opinion and what kinds of music do you know of outside of musical theatre (like those presented at "Undercover Showtunes") that might tickle their fancy?
Gloria: I agree that musical theater offers the rare experience of enjoying wonderful music and orchestrations. It's tough to find great music on the radio these days (unless it's satellite!). Obviously musical theater is an incredible visual experience. The only other kind of music that I find equally, if not more visual, is classical music.
Eugene: What kind of music were you raised on?
Gloria: I was raised on classical and gospel (my mom was a gospel singer in Jamaica). I learned classical piano when I was five, and I continue to play today.
Eugene: And what kind of music do you listen to today?
Gloria: I often listen to classical (especially in the morning). I also love jazz; acoustic solo guitar; and classic rock!! I was a huge rock fan when I was a teenager....and it continues today! Anything from Led Zeppelin, to AC/DC, U2, Bruce Springsteen.
Eugene: This is your first experience with New York Musical Theatre Festival. How important is it for you to be involved?
Gloria: I'm looking at it more as being fun than important!
Eugene: According to your website, one of the most exciting moments in your career was singing back-up for Tina Turner's US and Canada Tour in 2000. How much does Turner influence you? Will we see a bit of her on-stage at "Undercover Showtunes" and how do you use what you learned with her in your career today?
Gloria: It was great fun being on tour with Tina. I don't think you'll see any of her on stage, as the songs that I've chosen are much more toned down! Her vision, commitment, generosity and joy for performing were the things that influenced me the most.
Eugene: Tell us about the challenges and demands of portraying such a high-profile political character as Condoleeza Rice in The Public Theatre's Stuff Happens.
Gloria: It was very challenging to portray a woman who is still alive, and whom everyone has a very strong opinion about! I loved every minute of it. Looking beneath the surface of Condi was actually a fun thing to do! Trying to figure out what makes her tick... Actually, I'm still trying to figure that out!
Eugene: Many people know you best for your six-season appearance as Jeanie Boulet in "E.R." How does performing in a studio for TV-audiences compare to a one-night-only concert? What do you enjoy from both? Given your experience with music, stage, TV... any preference?
Gloria: Both experiences offer different things. Being on a series gives you the opportunity to create and expand a character over many years. A TV show can reach millions of people every week, so you can really create something memorable and powerful. But, I do love the intimacy of performing on a stage, and the immediate ebb and flow from performer to audience member.
Eugene: What can fans hope to see (or hear) you in next?
Gloria: I've gotten into the producing world (I executive produced this years Grand Jury Prize winner at the Sundance Film Festival: "Padre Nuestro"), so I'm looking at developing my next TV project!
Eugene: Thanks very much for taking a moment of your time and have fun at "Undercover Showtunes!"
Photos: Gloria Reuben (headshot courtesy www.GloriaReuben.com); Gloria Reuben as Condoleeza Rice in Stuff Happens, 2006 (courtesy www.GloriaReuben.com); Gloria Reuben at the Lucille Lortell Awards, 2007 (by Walter McBride)