BWW Interviews: SUNRIZE and Shine: One-Woman Musical Gives Baltimore a Great Show, April 26


She's all legs, has a blazing bouffant hairdo and an incredible pair of ... lungs. For one night only, Sunrize Highway shines on stage in Sunrize: The Musical at Creative Alliance, Friday, April 26. Highway (also known as Joseph Ritsch, associate artistic director at Baltimore's Iron Crow Theatre Co.) pays homage to the great divas of contemporary musical theater, dappling it all with "whimsical reflections, winsome musings, sage advice and insightful showbiz stories." Special guests from Baltimore's boylesque, drag king and vaudeville scenes will open the performance. had a chance to catch up with Sunrize, who shed some light (ahem) on the upcoming performance.

Q: That's an interesting (and beautiful) name you've got. Is that your given name?

A: Oh, thank you, Giordana, it is quite beautiful, isn't it? Well, I was born Sunrize Sunset--Sunset is my maiden name. I took my husband's name when we married; his name is Montauk Highway, Monty for short--which he is, only 4 feet, 2 inches tall. And I love every inch of him!

Q: Describe your performance in three words.

A: Musical, magical and thought-provoking-ground-breaking-state-of-the-art-brilliance. That last one is one word, right?

Q: What's your favorite stage ever to have performed on?

A: Wow, Giordana, that is a tough one. Hmmmmm. I would probably say the cocktail lounge at the Howard Johnson in Portsmouth, N.H.

Q: You've performed throughout the country; what about Baltimore attracted you in the first place and then keeps you here?

A: I performed in Baltimore years ago, and just fell in love with it. I am a New York City girl tried and true, but it's a tough city. I like that Baltimore has an edge like NYC but it has a much less chaotic pace.

Q: Where and how did you get your start?

A: At the Five Towns School of Dance and Fashion Runway Movement in Roslyn, Long Island, N.Y.

Q: Who do you consider "the great divas of contemporary musical theater," and who among these queens has inspired you most?

A: Well, being a heterosexual woman in the entertainment industry, there are soooo many inspirations: Liza, Chita, Gwen, Shirley--the list could go on and on.

Q: What about show biz can you simply not stand?

A: Oh, Giordana, I just love this business we call show! Everything about is just as I had always dreamed of as a child. Well, except for the stalkers, but due to a current legal situation, I am not allowed to discuss that topic. Sorry.

Q: What do you do in your free time?

A: Answer fan mail.

Q: Who does your nails?

A: My nail girl, Natasha. I travel with her at all times. I found her on Craigslist through a Russian orphan adoption agency.

Q: What's the most important piece of advice you offer during your show?

A: I guess if people want to know that answer, they'll have to come to the show!

Q: Why should Baltimore audiences come out to your one-night-only performance at Creative Alliance, April 26? What can you promise them that no one else can?

A: I promise you an amazing evening of laughs and insights, stories and song and not just from me! I have some very special guests opening for me, including Adam Cooley, The Warren Sisters and Diesel, all talented young performers who are sure to deliver.

As for Sunrize: The Musical, the Baltimore crowd will see a lot of leg, a great big head of red hair and a heart of gold!

Sunrize Highway stars in Sunrize: The Musical, 8 p.m. Friday, April 26, at Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore, MD 21224. Tickets are $15 or $10 for members; purchase them online.

photo courtesy of Joseph Ritsch

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Giordana Segneri A writer, editor and communications professional for her entire career, Giordana Segneri is now the associate director of communications and marketing at the University of Baltimore in UB Midtown. She has lived in Baltimore--and enjoyed its rich, vibrant arts and culture scene--for better part of a decade, following a three-year sojourn in Italy, where she dedicated herself to traveling unexplored territory (preferably by motorcycle) and then writing about it. Her work has been published in Baltimore magazine, The (South Florida) Sun Sentinel, mental_floss magazine, Complete Woman, Knot Magazine, University of Baltimore Magazine, CMA Today, TravelGirl and various local newspapers and online magazines.

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