BWW Interview: 6 Questions & a Plug with BROADWAY SONGBOOK's Erin Schwab
If you've read my posts in this space, you probably know by now that I'm in love with the Ordway Center for Performing Arts' very own BROADWAY SONGBOOK series. As a theatre lover and one-time student, as many of you are likely to be, you'll find this a continuing education in all things musical theatre. I'd like to say it's our own little 54 Below with the cabaret stylings and fabulous talent, but it's more than that and different because it's definitely a show and it's a mini master class in the topic of the night.
For many of the past Songbooks, and several other shows around town, I've watched Erin Schwab perform and like most people, find her delightful on stage, as well as a talented vocalist. I finally got a chance to interview Schwab and share some of the insights into this round, BROADWAY SONGBOOK®: HOLLYWOOD TO BROADWAY, in the latest 6 Questions & a Plug.
What's your favorite Hollywood to Broadway show? How about Broadway to Hollywood?
Hollywood to Broadway, I love Legally Blonde, The Color Purple, Newsies and The Full Monty holds a special place in my heart. I also love ALL versions of Hairspray. Movie to musical to movie musical to live TV musical. That is CRAZY! Let's see, Broadway to Hollywood is tougher, there are so many. I would say THE KING AND I, SWEET CHARITY, and THE WIZ are on the top of my list.
Can you give us a couple highlights from the songs you'll perform in the show, or perhaps your favorite, and tell us why you love performing it?
I am singing "Let Yourself Go" from FOLLOW THE FLEET and "Just Leave Everything To Me" from the film Hello Dolly; both are REALLY fun to sing. Wordy, Belty, Sassy Fun! I love singing the arrangement we are doing of "No One Is Alone" from INTO THE WOODS, very sweet. One of my favorite things about the BROADWAY SONGBOOK shows is that we can sing songs we wouldn't necessarily get cast to sing in the actual shows. SO, I get to sing a duet from GREASE with Dieter Bierbrauer and a medley from LEGALLY BLONDE with Kersten Rodau and Yolanda Bruce. You will not want to miss that!
Your career is a bit of a Hollywood to Broadway with lots of sing-a-longs and your TV and radio hosting gigs. What show would you most like to take from film or TV to the stage and star in?
Ooooh,,,,excellent question. I think the movie Soapdish would make a GREAT musical. I would play ANYONE in that musical. I would love to see a musical episode of Law and Order, I will play Olivia Benson and would definitely need songs with Ice Tea, Jesse L. Martin, BD Wong and Raul Esparza and a steamy duet with Christopher Meloni.
Excellent choices! I'd love to see that. When did you figure out that you wanted to be a performer and how did you get started?
I knew from a very young age. Actually, movie musicals are one of the reasons I knew performing was what I wanted to do. I remember watching The Wizard of Oz, Oliver, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, Annie, West Side Story, Cabaret, Fame. I memorized every song, every dance, every line. There were always musicals playing in our house. My parents met in a production of THE FANTASTIKS when they were in college and I always thought that was so romantic. I sort of came into the world singing and entertaining, I did my first show when I was maybe 6 or 7. I was one of the little kids in a high school production of THE KING AND I. From that moment, I was hooked!
You've been in five Broadway Songbook series shows now -- what has been your favorite topic to explore so far, and have you learned about something you did not know prior?
I loved the Comden and Green Songbook. I didn't know much of the music initially and fell in love with the all of it. I also loved the 70s Singer/Songwriter Songbook, such amazing songs and I got to sing and play piano for the Carol King tune "Beautiful." That was a blast! I learn new things every Songbook. Truly, it is one of the reasons I love doing the shows. The Songbooks are incredibly entertaining musical history lessons you don't even know you're learning until the show is over. James (Rocco) and Jeffrey (P. Scott) are so good at selecting the songs and the stories that accompany them. I always get the song list and wonder how all of the songs fit together and then I hear the script and suddenly it all makes sense AND I know things I didn't before.
One of the side highlights of the series is the fabulous dresses you Songbook ladies get to wear -- do you get to go shopping for the most fabulous cocktail dress you can find or does a costumer suit you up?
When we first started out, we went and found things for ourselves, now we are spoiled to have a fantastic costume coordinator/designer, Aaron Chvatal, who is dressing us with an old Hollywood Glamour vibe. Loads of sequins and beads for the ladies and suits for the guys.
Can't wait to see them! (And hope you can keep them!) Now for a chance to plug your next show -- what will people get to see you in after this Songbook?
Well, I will be doing a couple of cabaret gigs at Crooners on May 30 and June 19 (2017). You can find me a few days out the week at The Jason Show on Fox 9 and I am MOST excited to say I will be in the Ordway's upcoming production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR.
ERIN SCHWAB (Performer) ORDWAY: Broadway Songbook: Singers & Songwriters of the 70s, Rock & Roll on Broadway / The First 100 Years of Broadway / Comden & Green / Stephen Sondheim, A Christmas Story: the Musical, 8Track: Sounds of the 70s; National tour host and Ordway host: Sing-a-Long-a Sound of Music, Sing-a-Long-a Grease; Guthrie Theater: Coward's Women; Theater Latté Da: Beautiful Thing, Oh S!$t, I'm Turning Into My Mother, The Rink, Songs for a New World; Producinghouse: Rock Sirenz, Powerballadz!; Hey City Theater: Tony 'n Tina's Wedding. National tours: School House Rock Live!. Music: Honey and Crooners. Official contributor on "The Jason Show" and recurring guest host on and MyTalk 107 FM.
Photo: Erin Schwab, courtesy of Ordway Center.
In its earliest days, Hollywood relied on Broadway talents to bring musical movies to life. In recent years Broadway has become more reliant on Hollywood for source material. This BROADWAY SONGBOOK will look at the effect Broadway and Hollywood have had on each other through the years and features a dynamic mix of songs from AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, THE COLOR PURPLE, LEGALLY BLONDE, 42nd STREET, THE JAZZ SINGER, GREASE, THE LITTLE MERMAID and more.
Now in its sixth season, BROADWAY SONGBOOK® offers a close-up, personal look at the stories behind the songs that created Broadway. The must-see series explores the history, meaning and impact of Broadway on popular American culture through portraits and anecdotes of the writers and performers who created some of the most iconic shows of all time.
Written by Jeffrey P. Scott and James A. Rocco, with arrangements and musical direction by Raymond Berg. Rocco, a Broadway veteran, also acts as the show's host. The cast features Rocco, Dieter Bierbrauer, Yolande Bruce, Kersten Rodau and Erin Schwab.
- Sunday, May 14, 2 p.m.
- Thursday, May 18, 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, May 19, 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, May 20, 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, May 21, 2 p.m.
Theater Venue & Location:
Concert Hall at Ordway Center for the Performing Arts
345 Washington Street
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102
Ticket Office: 651-224-4222
$37, subject to change