BWW Interview: Will Van Dyke & Friends to Perform at 54 Below

BWW Interview: Will Van Dyke & Friends to Perform at 54 Below

When Will Van Dyke hits the stage of 54 Below on Oct. 14 in celebration of his second CD's release, he'll be surrounded by friends and an eight-piece band. The CD, WRITING Kevin Taylor: 2013 CONCEPT RECORDING, is released a day after the concert.

"The concert, Will Van Dyke & FRIENDS, is a celebration of my new album coming out," Van Dyke said. But it won't be a strict replay of the CD's contents. The concert will feature Broadway luminaries showcasing a variety of songs.

"I knew I wanted to do a concert, and having the CD come out at the same time just worked out," he said. The concept album is a lighthearted story about a writer and his relationships. It features Ben Crawford as Kevin Taylor (writer), Lisa Howard as Julia (wife) and Preston Sadleir as Tyler (boy). The musical comedy is about the unlikely friendships and unexpected moments that bring us together, he said.

KINKY BOOTS' Tony award-winning Billy Porter is among those to join the 54 BELOW celebration, Van Dyke said. Others scheduled to perform include singers from THE BOOK OF MORMON, MOTOWN, MATILDA, WICKED and BRING IT ON.

In addition to Porter, the concert will feature Annaleigh Ashford (Tony nominee, KINKY BOOTS), Brandon Victor Dixon (Tony nominee, THE COLOR PURPLE and MOTOWN), Randy Blair (THE ADDING MACHINE), Nicholas Christopher (MOTOWN) and Matt Doyle (THE BOOK OF MORMON) among others.

One of Broadway's most promising composer/lyricists, Van Dyke, associate conductor with KINKY BOOTS, cites his experiences with the show as an inspiration. "It was incredible putting the show together," he said. "Everyone gives 115 percent every performance, from backstage to the band and everything in between." He recalled the day and night of the Tony Awards. "A friend from Boston was in town and we had brunch that morning and had so much adrenaline," he said, "and we didn't have a show that night.

"It was crazy, like Christmas when you're 5! I was actually there at the show with my tux on and when KINKY BOOTS won six Tonys, it was so exciting," he said. "When Cyndi [Lauper] won, it was unbelievable." Van Dyke plans to keep that kind of energy going for the concert.

The concert will feature songs spanning Van Dyke's collaboration with musicians Josh Halloway, Rick Elice and Matt Doyle, and selections from Van Dyke's previous CD, CHASING THE DAY: THE MUSIC OF Will Van Dyke. It will be directed by DB Bonds.

"I've got a big band and I'll be playing piano," he said. "I'm just excited for people to hear the songs and am extremely excited to share the show. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Will Van Dyke will be performing at 54 BELOW (254 W. 54th St.) on Oct.14 at 9:30 p.m.




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Naomi Serviss Naomi Serviss is an entertainment/spa writer whose roots include covering Broadway. She has written for Newsday, The New York Daily News, The New York Times and numerous magazines and websites.