Emily Skinner: Broadway, Her Way

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Continuing its reputation for presenting some of the best New York nighttime entertainment, the Feinstein's at the Regency concert series is pleased to debut the ever-impressive and bombastic Emily Skinner in her original act "Broadway, My Way" on Sundays, June 1 and 8.

A favorite among the vixens of Broadway, Emily Skinner has garnered a fierce fan-following with star-turns in The Full Monty, Jekyll & Hyde and her Tony Award-nominated performance in Side Show.  She has also enjoyed appearances with Encores! and The Actor's Fund, and kept the laughs "raw" at Town Hall opposite Alice Ripley.

With "Broadway, My Way," Emily pulls some of her favorite (and arcane) tunes from the classic song-book… with the signature Skinner-style twist!

On a relaxing summer afternoon, Emily Skinner spent a few minutes chatting with BroadwayWorld about her up-coming cabaret – and her excitement of directing the season finale "Broadway By The Year - 1979" concert on Monday, June 16…

Eugene Lovendusky: Thanks so much for taking time out to talk with BroadwayWorld. You've always kept your fans on their toes with your sass and spunk and style – and on June 1 and 8, you'll be making your Feinstein's debut with your original cabaret "Broadway, My Way" – what kind of Emily Skinner are audiences in for?

Emily Skinner: [laughs] I've really tried to put together a program that's both funny and sexy at the same time! It's a good, eclectic program. I think an audience should be interested in what they're hearing – it's not going to be just me singing 19 ballads in a row!

Eugene: Who helped you put the show together?

Emily: I put it together myself. It's all me! No one is to blame but myself [laughs] for its total failure or its success. 

Eugene: Your accompanist? 

Emily: Ross Patterson is musical directing – he's a wonderful pianist mainly from the jazz-world – which is one of the reasons I love him so much. He comes to the theatre-world with a really fresh take on things. 

Eugene: Your show is going to include songs from the legends Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, Gershwin… How are you going to transform these classics into Broadway "your way"? 

Emily: "Broadway, My Way" is my take on why I appreciate this material. I tend to gravitate towards more-so the classic material rather than the newer ilk of music – that's the stuff I like to listen to and perform.   

Eugene: Your cabaret is also being described as a "journey through the best of the Great White Way" with shows including Gypsy, Funny Girl, Into the Woods, Nine… And it's not hard for me to close my eyes and picture you in these larger-than-life iconic roles. Is it sort of the same for you? 

Emily: Well that's nice, gosh! I hope I've got some of those coming my way! These are some of the shows I grew-up listening to; and therefore, wanting to get inside and emulate. There's a reason they say: "They don't write 'em like that anymore!" Some of the material in my show (I'll give this surprise away)… Dolores Gray was a big Broadway diva in the 1950s. She did a number of movies as well. She holds the record for a person to win a Tony Award in a show of the shortest length – she starred in Carnival in Flanders which lasted 6 days! [laughs] She was a very interesting woman and I tell a bunch of stories about her, and I do some of her material. She's someone I've always been fascinated with. She had a beautiful voice but she always played arched, stylized, campy women on film and on-stage. I also talk about some of the women performers that I've always admired – and she's one of them! 

Eugene: "Broadway By The Year" wraps-up its 2007-08 season in a few weeks – and you're not only appearing in the concert, but directing! Are you psyched? 

Emily: I am! It's a great year to showcase – 1979! Which included Sweeney Todd, Evita, They're Playing Our Song… a great assortment of interesting stuff! I've got great music and some great people and I'm excited to see how it all comes together.  

Eugene: Any tricks up your sleeve? 

Emily: Well I'm not going to give it away! [laughs] The trick about "Broadway By The Year" is that there is no trick. You pick great freakin' material and freakin' great people to sing it – and leave it alone! I've directed a couple of them before, so I feel like I know those audiences and what they like and expect.  The "Broadway By The Year" audience (as well as the Encores! City Center audiences) tend to be people who really love the classical musical theatre – because it's not out there anymore.  They're always a very grateful audience – which is always so nice for any performer. 

Eugene: You took the words right out of my mouth. They're going there because they're theatre people. 

Emily: Yeah! They grew-up with that music and are kind of sad not to be hearing it anymore. I can't tell you how many times I've done "Broadway By The Year" shows where someone came up to me afterward and said: "I saw the original production of that!" 

Eugene: One really quick question (because I'd be kicked-in the pants for not asking), but do you know anything about the up-coming revival-slash-restaging of Side Show

Emily: [laughs] No, I don't know anything except I have a friend who is doing the workshop reading they're doing right now. They're trying to do it! I think they're shooting for a revival next year, which would be great. It's certainly material that's worth re-looking at! I hope it happens for Henry Krieger and Bill Russell

Eugene: You've found two really great ways to enter the summer, Emily – your cabaret at Feinstein's on June 1 and 8; and directing another great concert on June 16! Break a leg and have fun with both! 

Feinstein's at Loews Regency will present Emily Skinner on Sunday, June 1 and Sunday, June 8 at 8:30PM. Tickets: ($40 cover & $25 min, jackets recommended) are available at 212-339-4095 or visit FeinsteinsatLoewsRegency.com and TicketWeb.com. Feinstein's at Loews Regency is located at 540 Park Ave at 61st St.

"Broadway By The Year - 1979," directed by Emily Skinner with Jeff McCarthy, Terri Klauser, Noah Racey and more, is presented on Monday, June 16 at 8PM at Town Hall (123 West 43rd St). Tickets ($50 & $45) are on-sale now through TicketMaster 212-307-4100 or visit TicketMaster.com

Photos: Emily Skinner; Emily Skinner (2006, by Genevieve Rafter Keddy)

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Eugene Lovendusky Eugene Lovendusky graduated summa cum laude from SFSU with a BA in Writing for Electronic Media and a minor in Drama. Raised in the SF Bay Area, his love for the arts bloomed at an early-age; a passion that has flourished in NYC, where Eugene now lives and works. He is a proud member of the New York City Gay Mens' Chorus.


 
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