BWW Interviews: Broadway Geek Michael Hughes talks MICKEY & JUDY at Fringe
Michael Hughes is a theatre geek. By his own admission, he always has been. The great thing about Michael, is that he wears his geekiness like a badge of honour. A badge he is now getting to show with the city of Toronto when he debuts his one-man Fringe show Mickey and Judy this week at Toronto Fringe.
There was a time not too long ago (i.e. pre-Glee) that growing up with a passion for theatre generally meant a youth full of ridicule and torment at the hands of "cooler" peers with passions for things like sports, cars, shopping, movies and "popular" music. I myself was one of these geeks and will openly admit that high school was not always a very friendly place. With the success of the TV show Glee, many kids are now embracing their inner theatre geek and letting it shine, and it's becoming more socially acceptable to grow up loving the arts.
But pre or post-Glee, a life dedicated to having a passion for theatre will always be the path less traveled, and therefore more than likely result in more than a few bumps, bruises and (hopefully) humourous stories. And that's what Michael's new show is all about. A self described "love letter to music theatre and all the music theatre geeks (you and me) who grew up in an era before GLEE made being a geek cool."
Michael was kind enough to sit down and talk with me about his show, and about why BroadwayWorld readers should choose to see it amidst all the great Toronto Fringe picks! As he so enthusiastically put it, "us theatre geeks have to stick together!"
Your show at Toronto Fringe has an emphasis on Broadway which is perfect for our readers! Be honest, just how much of a Broadway geek are you?I would say that I am 95% Broadway geek, 5% "other". I am such a geek that I can't watch, listen to, or read about anything Broadway related after 10pm or I stay up all night. It's like giving a kid a can of coke before bedtime.
You talk about this show being something for all the theatre nerds out there, all the kids who feel a bit like they don't belong or who have had a hard time because of their love for theatre. Can you pinpoint a moment when you learned to just embrace your geekiness instead of feeling bad about it? It took until college for me to fully embrace my geekiness. Finally, I was able to surround myself with like-minded people and all the Broadway trivia and tidbits came in handy. In fact, I was popular BECAUSE of how much I knew. It was the complete opposite of high school.
And now that you are older (and hopefully wiser) what would you say to the kids out there that love Broadway and potentially feel excluded because of it? I would tell them that they may feel like they are all alone, but that there are hundreds of kids just like them who love Broadway and Music Theatre. Find them. Friend them. These are your people!! You don't need to be friends with someone who would exclude you because of your love of Broadway. That person is lame.
Can you give us a taste of what you will perform at your show? Are you going to take any audience requests? I will be performing some popular songs from the Judy Garland songbook and songs from Broadway musicals: The Apple Tree, West Side Story, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Crazy for You, Singing In The Rain, Annie, and 42ND Street. I won't be taking any requests this time around, but I may invite the audience to sing along. You never know!
Finally, let us indulge the geekiness for a minute and do a Top 5 - What are YOUR Top 5 Showtunes and why?
This is the musical theatre geeks equivalent of Sophie's Choice! My number one will always be the same, but the other four depend on the time of day and how I am feeling.
1. Soliloquy from Carousel (Rodgers and Hammerstein) .One of the best songs written for musical theatre. Ever. It's seven minutes of singing, and at the end you see Billy Bigelow as a different man from the one he was when he started. I get chills every time I hear it.
2. The entire score of West Side Story is an actual masterpiece. But if I have to pick just one song, then it's going to be the Tonight Quintet (Bernstein and Sondheim). It is so intense, everyone is belting their faces off, I love singing along.
3. The Sound of Music from The Sound Of Music (Rodgers and Hammerstein). It was one of the first shows I ever saw, and judging from the Oprah reunion, I'm not alone when I say that the movie changed my life.
4. Don't Rain on my Parade from Funny Girl (Styne and Merrill). What an amazing Act One closer. The lyrics are empowering, the music is exciting.
5. You Can't Stop The Beat from Hairspray (Shaiman and Wittman). It is not my favourite Broadway musical, but when I hear the start of that song, I just feel like dancing. It's a perfect Monday morning song. You will dance yourself out of bed.
When and Where?
Mickey & Judy
Starring Michael Hughes
Musical Direction by Chris Tsujiuchi
Presented as part of The Toronto Fringe Festival at The Tarragon Theatre Extraspace, 30 Bridgman Ave.
Performance ScheduleFriday July 8, 5:45pm
Saturday July 9, 7:00pm
Sunday July 10, 10:30pm
Tuesday July 12, 10:30pm
Wednesday July 13, 4:00pm
Thursday July 14, 1:45pm
Sunday July 17, 3:30pm
TICKETS: $11 in advance, $10 at the door
For information on Mickey & Judy visit the official website: www.mickeyandjudy.ca
For more information on the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival please visit their official website: www.fringetoronto.com
Photo courtesy of House of Madjus