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A Quick Q&A with Julie Garnye

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As a last minute replacement for Idina Menzel in the Hair Actors' Fund Benefit Concert, Julie Garnye brought down the house, singing "Walking in Space." We checked in with this talented up-and-comer for the scoop...

How did your involvement in the HAIR concert begin?

Seth Rudetsky (Artistic Producer / Musical Director of The Actor's Fund Concerts) has been a huge supporter of mine since even before I moved to New York 14 months ago. When I finally made the move here in July 2003, Seth invited me to be a part of the CHESS Concert. Over the course of the last year, I have worked with him on a number of projects. Seth asked me to be a part of the HAIR tribe about 6 weeks ago.

When did you find out you were going on for Idina Menzel?

Well, technically, I didn't find out until about 1/2 hour before our final tech rehearsal. The tribe arrived at The New Amsterdam at around 9 o'clock on Monday morning and we walked through some of the staging (that amazing crew had been up most of the night, getting the set ready for us!). We got a break around 11am and were told to return to the theatre by 12:30. When I got back, Chris Gattelli and Dev Janki (who shared direction and choreography duties for the concert), were in the house. They told me that I was going on for Idina and, at first, I thought they were joking. When I realized they weren't kidding and that our final rehearsal started in less than 1/2 hour, I raced to the dressing room to grab my score and learn the lyrics!

Had you learned the material in advance? How prepared were you?

Yes and no. Seth had warned me in rehearsal 5 days before the concert that Idina might not make the show and to learn the first verse just in case. I never had my heart set on doing it - I mean, Seth has his pick of the Broadway community! At a couple of rehearsals, I had sung only the first five lines of the song. The other parts were divided between other people in the tribe. But I was told before the weekend that I definitely would not be doing it. So I never knew how the whole song sounded as a featured solo (I wasn't very familiar with the HAIR score until we began rehearsing for Broadway in Bryant Park).

When I was told I would be doing it that day, I had never actually sung the entire song (as Idina would have). So learning it, figuring out when I was singing into the mic and when I was singing with the tribe...all of that got figured out during our final tech. I rehearsed the song with the cast once in tech, then again with Seth just after the tech and then had to rush off to hair and makeup. It was all very fast.

What was the actual experience like on stage?

It was empowering, humbling and, as Seth would say, AMAHHHZING! I really enjoyed every second. It was also very surreal. Sure, I was terribly nervous (someone I know says that if you don't get nervous, something is really wrong). I felt a great responsibility to Seth, the tribe (who have all been so supportive), the show and the song's placement in the show. "Walking In Space" begins a section of the show that is often very moving for many people. I wanted to do it justice.

How have people been reacting?

All day long, I was being called "Peggy Sawyer!" It was so sweet. The entire company couldn't have been more supportive. Everyone was thrilled that I would be doing it. And they all seemed genuinely happy with the work I did.

How'd you celebrate?

After-party, of course! The HAIR after-party at John's Pizzeria was a blast. Then, my husband and I went to Jim Caruso's Cast Party at Birdland, where you can find me on most Monday nights. You never know who's going to be performing at Cast Party, but there's usually a great group of people there. It's been a Monday night staple for me since I came to New York. A group of us from Cast Party then did our weekly middle-of-the-night breakfast at a local diner. I had eaten only breakfast that morning during our break and the adrenaline was still pumping hours after the show, so I couldn't even imagine eating at John's. By the time we got to the diner at 2:30am, I was starving!

 

What's next on your plate?

"PIPPIN" in Concert to benefit The National AIDS Fund at the end of November. I was involved in their first benefit last year. We did "Children of Eden" and it was wonderful. I was a soloist in "At The End Of A Perfect Day." Like last year, it is being co-produced by Kate Shindle and Jamie McGonnigal and I've been told that Stephen Schwartz will be involved again too. Details haven't been released but I should have more information on my website (www.juliegarnye.com) as soon as I know more.


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