Interview: Kate Rockwell of BROADWAY BOOKER AT BIRDLAND at Birdland October 18th at 7 pm

Kate Rockwell and some friends from BROADWAY BOOKER are back on stage and ready to party.

By: Oct. 17, 2021

Interview: Kate Rockwell of BROADWAY BOOKER AT BIRDLAND at Birdland October 18th at 7 pm There was a time when the only way to meet your favorite Broadway performer was to fly to New York and stand at the stage door, hoping that they would come out that way, rather than leaving by another exit, and that they wouldn't be in too much of a rush to get home, so that you could say hello and tell them what their work meant to you. It is important to let the working people of the New York theater community know that their artistry has touched your life - important for them and important for you.

Today, thanks to social media, it is easier than ever to reach out to your idols and role models, and thanks to the internet, it is possible to book a virtual lesson from the artisans of The Great White Way. And thanks to organizations like BROADWAY BOOKER, you can even hire your dream Broadway talent to perform for your events, corporate, personal, or somewhere in between.

Broadway Booker is a company that acts as contact and go-between for some of the most beloved and oft-employed actors working in New York City today. With a computer, tablet, or Smartphone, anybody can scroll through a list of actors working with Broadway Booker, pick and choose an actor (or two) to come play your wedding, retirement party, bar or bat mitzvah, team building weekend, or just a garden-variety birthday... out in the garden. Affordably!

To celebrate the formation of the company and the return to live entertainment, the good people at BROADWAY BOOKER have put together an evening of entertainment at Birdland that will kick off tomorrow (October 18) at seven pm, one that will showcase some of the stellar talent with whom Broadway Booker is working. To make the evening even more fun and accessible, the event will be live-streamed, for all those not in the City of New York; so everyone get an in-person ticket or a virtual one and let's all find out what Broadway Booker is all about, while we get our live-entertainment fix with some of today's best performers from The Great White Way.

In anticipation of the show, I spent a few minutes on the phone with Kate Rockwell, who will be opening the show tomorrow and making sure it's a party anyone would be happy to be at.

This interview has been edited for space and content.

Interview: Kate Rockwell of BROADWAY BOOKER AT BIRDLAND at Birdland October 18th at 7 pm Kate Rockwell, welcome to Broadway World! How are you today?

I'm doing alright! How are you doing?

Well, I can't complain. It's supposed to be autumn but it's still summer!

I really don't know how to get dressed in the morning right now because I keep feeling like it should be jeans and a sweater. And every time I do that, it's leaving me with an identity crisis,

So, we are here today to talk about your upcoming show at Birdland. You are making an appearance with a company called Broadway Booker - for the benefit of our Broadway World readers, tell me what Broadway Booker is, will you please?

I would love to, I could give you this very fancy schtick that Broadway Booker has but I'm just going to describe it in my own words because I think that's probably better.

Broadway Booker is an incredible company that is seeking to make it almost impossible to NOT book a Broadway star for events. They want to be able to allow people to book Broadway singers, Broadway personalities, basically at the click of a button. You would be able to go on an app or a website and be able to hire a Broadway singer for your birthday party or your corporate event or your bar mitzvah, all of the events that people have where they might want live entertainment. Before this company started we were kind of all over the place, there was no centralized booking system to reach Broadway stars; you've got to dig up phone numbers for agents and managers and DM people on Instagram and all those interesting ways that we've been contacted in the past. Broadway Booker is looking to streamline that system and make it super easy for people to hire Broadway people to sing.

Aside from being difficult to reach Broadway performers in the past, one would assume that hiring a Broadway performer to play a private event would be pricey. That's not really always the case, is it?

I think people think that we are this unattainable impossibly extreme financial investment, when in fact we're just artists, we loved to perform, we love to come and be a part of celebrations. What's cool about Broadway Booker is that they really have talent that ranges, financially, all over the gamut: there's a lot of accessible options, and I think that's what people don't realize. Because we love what we do, we aren't some unattainable luxury item, in terms of how to throw an event. We're here and we want to party with you.

And in this day and age of social media and connection, Broadway actors enjoy being able to get to know the public.

I think that's true. I think it's become a part of our job, but also I think, naturally, we are people who like to connect with the people that love what we love. I love what I do, I love Broadway, I love entertainment, and I like talking to people who love it. We have things in common. And so it really works out quite beautifully; rather than hiring some random person to come and work an event for you... it's almost like a social connection as well as hiring entertainers.

It's probably not that different for you because it's my understanding that you are teaching virtually as well.

I do - most people, I think, do. Broadway Booker does have virtual lessons and Q and A's and all that good stuff, where you can book me to work on a voice lesson, or sit and hang out and shoot the shit about Broadway. Am I allowed to say that?

(Both laughing)

Yes, you will not be censored here!

We're available virtually, which is such a cool thing that I really appreciate that came out of the pandemic - accessibility, virtually, for people who maybe don't have options. We can find a way to work together, talk together, connect through the magic of zoom and the internet.

So tell me about the Broadway Booker at Birdland event that's happening on Monday. How did that come about, what was the thinking behind that?

I think it was just an idea of celebrating, first of all, the return of actual live in-person entertainment because I think that's what we've all been waiting so fricking long for - to be able to sing, not only together (most of the artists that are performing on Monday are friends of mine, so it was fun that we get to perform together), but also to perform for an audience in the room with us. So in one sense, it was just about celebrating the fact that we can do that safely and come back together and enjoy art together, communally. I also think that it's about showcasing the kind of talent and the range of styles of performers that there is at Broadway Booker that you can hire. What's neat is they're doing streaming tickets for the event as well, so there will be a live audience that we are selling tickets to at Birdland, but there's also an option to stream the concert from home. So even if you can't be in New York on Monday, or if you can't get down to Birdland on Monday, you can still get a streaming ticket and you can still watch the concert and see everybody's performance and get to be a part of it that way.

You just mentioned that a lot of the people at Broadway Booker and at the concert are already friends of yours. Do you have a big sense of community here with the Broadway performers?

It's such a small world. It really is. And there's a lot of us, but there's also not that many of us. One of the things that I think, when Broadway is portrayed in the media or portrayed in other facets of entertainment, it sort of looks like this giant competition. And that's just not the case. Most of us have a really wonderful working relationship, if not a really wonderful friendship. We bond over the fact that we have a lot of the same interests and our lives are unconventional and we like that, we relish in the unconventionality of it... and that brings us all very close together. Most of the people that I've worked with in the past 15 years that I've been working here on Broadway - they're friends of mine, good friends of mine; so when we come together for these events, it's really like a reunion and a celebration of that too. - it means that it's less like work and more like fun. (Laughing) We also work our butts off, which is something we're all very proud of.

Broadway, as a place where art is created and where artists create, can tend to be very generational and you are a member of a new generation of Broadway. What was it like getting to associate and work with the members of the generations that have come before you?

I'm a little bit of a transitional person because I had the pleasure of doing my very first show back in 2009, and work alongside Michael Rupert, and I've had the opportunity to get to know people like Donna Lynne Champlin and people who've been doing this for a long time. And now I sort of operate as someone who is getting to work with the newest generation of artists, like the people who came into Mean Girls with me, when I was there, as sort of a senior member of the high school community. So it's kind of fun because I get to bring some of the old-school style work ethic (which I think is something that I was trained in and was raised with) in the Broadway community, especially when I first started working here. I get to be part of the leadership group that sort of gets to impart that to the next group and to help people learn how to adjust to the lifestyle and the work schedule because it is hard... but it's also beautiful. It's been lovely. I really enjoy getting to operate in both worlds a little bit and be familiar with those people that I respect and admire and have been watching my whole career, and be a part of that community, and then also get to work with all of the newer, younger people that are coming up and moving here every day, I get to speak with a lot of them as well because of my work with companies like Broadway Booker. So it's been fun. I feel like I'm a little bit of like the glue that holds generations together.

It's like when the mentee becomes the mentor.


You've done five Broadway shows and all throughout the time that you've done them, they have been modern-day musicals, and out in the provinces, you do classic musicals like Rogers and Hammerstein and Disney. What's it like for you, getting to have one leg in one era and one leg in the other?

It's really beautiful, honestly. And I so appreciate that you just commented on that because that is actually what it feels like. I feel like I am so blessed to get to bounce between eras, in different worlds. In the Broadway World, I get to be a little bit more in the contemporary styling, and then, when I (laughing) - I love that you call it "The Provinces" - when I go out into the provinces, out in different communities, I get to experience what it feels like to do those more classic, very iconic pieces of theater. It gives me such respect for both styles of art, of the theater, because I think they're very different, I think they serve very different purposes and the intent of the art is to do very different things.

Doing a Disney show has a very different message and a very different purpose for the audience than doing a show like Hair. They are meant to communicate different themes and communicate different ideas and affect the audiences in different ways. Because I've done a little bit of both, I get to really appreciate both sides of what it is to be an artist, which is to entertain, and to educate, to expose. I think art can do both things beautifully, and having an awareness of what both of those feel like makes me a better artist in both mediums.

Actors are, more than ever, really taking their destiny into their own hands and creating their own work. Will you be putting together a nightclub act or something for yourself that we can look forward to?

You know what, I have one! I created a show a couple of years ago that I've done a couple of times in New York and I actually released a studio album of the show itself, it's called Back to My Roots. We had a couple of performance opportunities (pre-pandemic) around the country that the show was going to get seen in different places outside of the city, and my hope is - now that venues across the country are starting to reopen safely, I underscore the word safely, I really hope that that's still something I'll be able to do. I would really love to bring the show out of Manhattan and into other parts of the country. As far as cabaret acts in the city, I don't have a new one that I'm working on quite yet - we've been toying around with some ideas, but we haven't put anything all the way together yet.

Do be sure to let us know when it happens so we can come!

Thank you. I will.

What we can expect on Monday at Birdland?

I can only speak for myself because I don't know what other performers will be singing but I'm actually bringing back a song that I used to sing a little bit around the city in concerts and I haven't done in probably four or five years now, that I hope will be received as very exciting... actually I think I might be opening the show and I do think that it will be sort of a celebration of being back in the room with everybody. And let's just say that I want to treat the event like a party and I intend to be the life of it.

Message received. I know my musical theater references, and that's a good one. So tell me what is your go-to audition song?

Oh my gosh. That's such a good question that I don't know that I can answer. I haven't had a real musical audition in so long. I love to sing Jason Robert Brown for auditions if the show is contemporary because I think he creates such fascinating, crazy characters and music and I have a lot of fun singing his music, it's really fricking hard and I like hard, I love challenges. Then, when we're talking about something that's a little more classic, I Get a Kick Out of You is one of my favorites. I did a production of Anything Goes way back when I was in college and just fell in love with that piece of theater. And while I'm not really positive anyone will ever want to watch me tap my way through Anything Goes, I do love that role - I love her music and her story. So I use that song a lot.

On the topic of roles you'd like to play - if you could write your own ticket, who would you like to be?

It doesn't have to be right now. I'm dying to be Mrs. Lovett, that's a dream role of mine. I understand and respect the fact that I have to wait probably another 20 years to do it, but that's fine, I'm patient. I've always wanted to play Trina in Falsettos, I'd like to believe that's in the near future, and then Ms. Lovett. I feel like probably I've missed this one, but I'll say it out loud anyway because maybe someone will let me do a concert of it. I want to play one of the sisters in Side Show. I want to sing that score very badly.

If they do it at The Muny, you're totally in.

Absolutely. As long as you're, you know, 50 to a hundred feet away, you'll never know that I'm not 19.

I think that we've reached a time where, and I mean this genuinely, people sitting behind the table for casting can have a little bit more gray area. I think age and gender are becoming grey areas, just as color has been doing, these last couple of decades.

I hope that's true. I think there's some real beauty in finding people that are deeply connected to an age-related experience, but I also think there's real power in, once you've survived an experience, you can look back on it with a little bit more clarity. I sometimes think that it's a benefit and not a detriment to be slightly older than your character is, but I do respect the idea that we're really at right now that a lot of times casting is focusing very much on authenticity. So I respect that I am not 19, but I also did survive being 19. So I can connect to that.

19 is something that must be survived.

It really truly is.

Well, Kate, I am the reviewer covering your show on Monday, so I can't wait to see you guys.

I'm so excited that you're going to be with us in person! I'm so excited to get back! And this will be my first cabaret since the shutdown. We're so pumped, all of us are excited, but I personally am really excited. First time back in a club!

I know, right!

It's crazy to think about it though. I did my show at Birdland last summer, but it was just for a camera guy and he was a great audience member, but that was a lot of responsibility on his shoulders to laugh at all my jokes. So I'm looking forward.

I promise to laugh really loudly.

Thank you!

Tickets for BROADWAY BOOKER AT BIRDLAND can be found HERE.

Visit the Kate Rockwell website HERE.


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