I had the chance to see Uptown Players' Broadway Our Way: Divas Rising last weekend and the show is a hoot. But I had some questions, so afterward I caught up with one of the cast members, Amy Stevenson, by way of email, to find out more about the show that serves as the Player's major annual fundraiser (and winner of a 2010 Best of Dallas award).
What about this Broadway revue is "Our Way"? It is mainly "our way" because we get to sing songs that we would probably not ever be cast to do in the regular show. Men singing women's songs and women singing men's songs.
Was the creation of the show really "Our Way"? (i.e., Did the cast get some say into what songs were in the show and who did what?) Once we are asked to be a part and say "yes," then we are asked for suggestions for songs that we want to sing. These can be solos, duets or group numbers that we may already know. I asked to do "Movin' Out" from the show of the same name. I wanted to do a number that the dancers could be a part of as well and the producers agreed! SO glad, it's my favorite moment in the show!
Why Divas Rising? Are divas really the ones getting their "way" in this show? Not sure about the name this year unless it's because our number rose this year. They added the dancers and gave it such a great new and exciting side! I think the divas get their "way" since we get to ask for what songs we might want to do. There aren't any bad "divas" in this show who make demands or scream and holler, just a group of talented people having fun entertaining!
Does a different guest performer get to do a number their "way" each night? Yes, John De Los Santos was there two shows and BJ Cleveland one. They both add greatness when they are there! John actually directed part of the show as well and is directing The Mikado for the Fort Worth Opera right now! BJ was also directing 13 which opened this weekend. It was nice to have them come in for their special numbers!
I was actually a guest performer last year when I was still recuperating from medical problems. It was fun to come in and still get to be a part of the show even as a guest, but it made me want to be back for everything this year!
Can you tell us a little about the cast's "way"? Past performers? New recruits? One of the great things about Broadway Our Way is that a lot of us keep coming back every year. This show is such fun and we all love Uptown! If there are people who didn't come back they either are in a show or moved away! The new recruits this year were the dancers and they are such a great addition! I've always secretly wanted to be a dancer so I am really enjoying getting to watch them and actually do a little chorusography! I'm NOT a dancer so I don't think I'm doing choreography! Just chorusography -- something between dancing and standing still!
Can you tell us a little about the host's "way"? Paul J. Williams definitely has his own "way"! He is such an entertainer and keeps the audience in the palm of his hand as himself and as Sister Helen Holy. I've seen him perform many times and he never ceases to impress me and make me laugh out loud (even on stage!)!
Which pieces in the show would say are the most your "way"? Well, I am privileged to be in a quartet with three other truly amazing divas! I get to sing the Beatles' "Blackbird" from the Beatles Tribute Show Rain. I love the song and the arrangement that Adam Wright did makes it even greater! Add to it the fact that I get to sing onstage with Denise Lee, Natalie King AND Sara Shelby Martin and it's a dream come true!
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I also LOVE getting the chance to sing "Movin' Out" while the dancers are doing incredible dancing and flying stunts. I have to remind myself not to watch them because I'll forget to sing!
How and when and in what "way" did you first get involved in Uptown Players? I've known Craig Lynch and Jeff Rane for years -- even did shows with them before they started Uptown Players. They are wonderful friends and are doing a remarkable job with this theater! My first show was Ruthless and I've been doing Broadway Our Way every year since they added the women. LOVE THIS SHOW AND THIS THEATER!!!
Why is it so important for people to come out and see this show's "way"? First of all, it is an incredible evening of mind-blowing talent! You won't find this kind of talent all on one stage anywhere else! Secondly, Uptown Players is magnificent and everyone needs to support them! These guys work extremely hard and it shows in every production they do. Broadway Our Way gives you just a preview of the type of talent they bring in and show off. There are only four shows left this weekend and anyone reading this need to be there!
Uptown Player's Broadway Our Way: Divas Rising continues through this week with showtimes at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at Kalita Humphreys Theater. Tickets are $40. Visit uptownplayers.org for more info.