BWW Interview: Melissa Errico And Ryan Silverman Talk Upcoming Concert: A BROADWAY ROMANCE at 54 Below
For two nights only, stage and screen stars Melissa Errico and Ryan Silverman reunite on the 54 Below stage to sing some dazzling love songs, in every sense of the word, in A Broadway Romance. You may have seen the two play opposite each other in Passion at Classic Stage Company, or more recently, in Finian's Rainbow at the Irish Repertory Theatre! They have also done various concerts together across the country, but if you haven't been lucky enough to catch them then, this could be your perfect chance!
I was fortunate to get the chance to talk to them about everything from what to expect in "A Broadway Romance", and how they got their start in theatre, to what keeps them coming back to the stage, parenthood, and more in the interview below!
You two are most certainly no strangers to performing with each other. This will be your first full cabaret together at 54 Below in August! What inspired the two of you to put together A Broadway Romance?
MELISSA: "54 Below" is doing a whole series of duo nights, and the head of the club approached me about being a part of the duo series before I do my CD release there in November. Not only did I think of Ryan right away, but the club has been hoping to get HIM on their stage for years! He has been too busy, of course, but I know he was looking for the opportunity to sing there. We had one spring 2018 date that we had to move because I was shooting a film role. Luckily, these summer dates have worked perfectly, and we can focus on two things we love to do ... making music & hanging out together. Every time we do that, we take big chances and have a lot of fun. It's rare to have a relationship like ours where we can do technically difficult things together but bring out our most relaxed selves. I love Ryan as an artist & as a person.RYAN: We've performed together as romantic leads in both Passion and Finian's Rainbow, so that's our starting point. But the title also represents our love of Broadway musicals, it's rich history and our wide range of tastes and style in the genre.
While you two have been on opposite sides of the country, with Melissa performing in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Ryan performing in concerts and filming from coast to coast, what has the rehearsal process been like?
MELISSA- It's been mostly researching duets and emails. I've been seeking material that shows romance from many angles and eras, and brings us one amazing melody after another. The romantic leads in a show often get the soaring ballads, so we'll do a few of those, we promise! The music rehearsal together begins today and for the next two weeks. We are working with Austin Cook, who is a blazingly fresh new talent, one of the musical directors of HAMILTON, and he has a raw and emotional pianistic style, and a wonderful energy. He can bring something equally bold to a Kurt Weill or a James Taylor song. Ryan & I are excited to have met him and gotten him to join us.
RYAN- Not easy! Thank god for Dropbox! We've been going back and forth with song ideas, who sings what, when, what duets. But I think we're settling in a good place.
You both have had TV/Film careers in addition to tremendous theatrical careers! What is the main thing that keeps you coming back to the stage?
MELISSA - So many things! But usually for me it's the ideas. Someone has a musical, old or new, and when they tell me about it - and how they want to revive it or create it - I can't help but want to collaborate and bring those ideas out. Musicals are a whole you get to do every day. TV & film is created in parts, and I find it fascinating to concentrate on your moment-to-moment life as a character, not worrying about editing, camera angles, or absorbing the whole goal of, say, the entire tv series (how can you?).... you just act intimately and with however many pages you get, straight into the eyes of your costars. On stage, there's a 2.5 hour entirety to look after and shape. And a live audience giving you instant response second by second. It's thrilling like nothing else. Honestly, every art form has its magic. Musical theater has never stopped intriguing me.
RYAN- A live audience is what makes performing so exciting. The immediate connection you have with an audience. And singing live is the most rewarding thing.
How did you get your start in theatre? Were there any people who you looked up to in the biz that inspired you to get to where you are now?
MELISSA - Don't get me started! I have so many stories. In some ways, I started when I was 9, and my best friend got scared of going on stage in our Mexico play for the Girl Scouts. I had to put on her brown wings & antenna and be the cockroach in LA CUCARACHA, our number for the International Day show. I got my first taste of showbiz!!! After that, things like French Woods summer camp & Broadway Dance Center got me rolling along. My life was like A Chorus Line. I was an Italian kid from Long Island with parents from Brooklyn & Jersey, who wanted to join a musical, ANY musical, and be a part of this corner of Manhattan. I went to Yale University (I was something of an academic nerd, yes) and ended up dropping out for a while to play Cosette in Les Miz. I was always ready to join the circus, even if it meant leaving Yale for a year. (yes, I went back to graduate, don't worry!) I have had many mentors along the way like John Mauceri, a renowned conductor, who solidified my love of research and has more theater stories than anyone I know; and Richard Jay-Alexander, the director of the American companies of Les Miserables who taught me so much later in my career about concerts and taking the right risks. He has good stories too! I love being inspired by people who are informed about the textured history of our field & have crazy funny tales to tell! One has to collect enough memories to write a memoir one day.
RYAN - I sort of fell into it. I'm from a small town in Canada, so I had very little exposure to the arts. I intended to go to college to study Radio broadcasting. My grades weren't good enough to get in, but they said if I had some performance background that could help my chances next time. So I auditioned for the theatre arts program and got in. It was there that I discovered how much I enjoyed it.
While you have played love interests onstage, you are both married and have families in real life! How do you manage work, especially when traveling, and being a parent and spouse? Have your careers changed at all since having kids?
MELISSA- all I can say is: Google Calendar.
RYAN- My wife and I have one daughter, so it actually hasn't changed our lives too much. If I have to travel for a concert, I'm only gone for a few days which is great. I do try and avoid any long tours that take me away from my family for too long. If I've gone anywhere for longer than a week I've been able to bring my wife and daughter along which is great. She's going into first grade now so that will be harder to do now.
Since only playing love interests onstage, is there a dream show that you would like to do together where that maybe wouldn't be the case? Is there a chance that it may be featured at your concert?
MELISSA - Every character in every play is a love interest. If it's not obvious, it's just hiding. Love is the blood that flows through every musical. Lost, desired, pursued, flirted with, controlled, released... I say it's always there even if it's us in Sweeney. I don't ever want to lose sight of love. But, as a terminal ingenue, I have no problem with life getting more complicated. Hopefully, Ryan and I will be singing together for a long, long time.
RYAN - I think we'd both be great as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovitts.
After working together on many occasions, whether that be concerts all over the country, or Passion and Finian's Rainbow Off-Broadway, I'm sure you both have loads of memories. Is there one in particular that stands out as a favorite?
RYAN - I think we both look back on our first day of rehearsals in Passion. We knew each other but not well and we dove right in with the opening scene with us wrapped up together on the floor. I think if you can do that together easily then you can do anything. We communicated easily and discovered then that we work well together.
MELISSA - I guess Ryan is quite right here!! The great John Doyle asks for actors to be very egoless, and open, and he develops an atmosphere of total connectedness and willingness. Ryan & I certainly did what Clara and Giorgio must do, and the more intimate we were, the farther we could fall in Act 2. Sondheim has said that Passion begins with an orgasm and ends with an orgasm. So, I hope you get my drift.
What should audience members expect to see during "A Broadway Romance"?
MELISSA -- A midsummer nights music with a brainy girl and a dashing man who love each other, and know a load of fabulous songs. And I'm never short of a little gossip and a fancy dress. Is that enough?
RYAN ... 2 people trying to remember what's next. Ha!
I grew up singing with my family around the piano. I hope we can bring some of that easy laid back feel to the show. As though Melissa and I are just sitting around the piano singing some of our favorite songs.
In conclusion, what do you hope audience members take away from the evening?
RYAN - I know that Melissa and I are going to have a fun night getting to sing the songs we love. I hope we can show how our likes differ in some ways and blend in others. We have a wide range of songs, styles, and eras and I think that's going to be exciting. I've learnt about songs from Melissa that I didn't know before or had never sung so maybe the audience too will be introduced to songs they've never heard or at least a mix of songs they didn't expect.
MELISSA - I don't know, but I'm lucky I know Ryan. I know that feeling of appreciating him and treasuring him means something.
I can feel the brilliance of the night radiating from their responses. A Broadway Romance, featuring Melissa Errico, directed by Robbie Rozelle and music direction by Tedd Firth will light up 54 Below on August 6 and August 7 at 7:00 PM. For more information/purchasing tickets, you can click here as well as calling (646) 476-3551. You won't want to miss it!