Wednesday, March 18, 2009

So sad...

I didn't know Natasha Richardson, but I spoke to her a bunch of times when she would call my office...I'd always mimic her gorgeous accent when I'd let my boss know she was on the phone..."It's NaTASHa RICHARDson."

There are so many photographs of them like this one...look at how adoringly they look at each other.

This is very, very sad...a loss of a great stage and film actress, but what I think about the most are the two little boys that just lost their somebody who also lost a young, 40-something parent as a teenager, I know a bit about their pain right now...and it's the worst.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Now I'm going to get mobbed by soap fans wherever I go!!!!!

Thanks to my Broadway doppleganger's new soap opera role!

IN THE HEIGHTS star Mandy Gonzalez is set to play Lauren Hoffman, a representative from a drug treatment center on the ABC soap opera "One Live To Live" beginning March 26th. The actress is currently set for four episodes as drug counselor Hoffman on the fabled daytime drama.

Mandy Gonzalez made her Broadway debut as Princess Amneris in the Tim Rice/Elton John musical AIDA. She appeared in the musical Lennon, based on The Life of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and she also starred opposite Michael Crawford as Sarah in Dance of the Vampires. Mandy is perhaps best known for her OBIE Award-winning performance in the Off-Broadway production of Eli's Comin', the musical based on the lyrics and music of songwriter Laura Nyro. She headed the Korean tour of Jekyll and Hyde:the Concert. Workshops include In the Heights dir. Tommy Kail, Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater's The Nightingale, Wicked dir. Joe Mantello, The Color Purple dir. Gary Griffin, Best Little Whorehose in Texas dir. Joe Mantello, Beehive on Broadway dir. Debbie Allen, When You Wish dir. Tina Landau and Warm dir. Scott Schwartz.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


You know those moments when you are talking to a close friend, and they say something, and you think, "And THAT is why we are such good friends..."

My friend talking about her snooty neighbor, whom she snapped at that day because she was so agitated with her:

"YOU KNOW WHAT SHE'S LIKE? She's like one of those rich ladies on The Titanic that wouldn't want to rescue more people because she'd rather use the space in the lifeboat for her ballgowns and furcoats!"

So random, and yet so specific.

(How come SO many things can be related to The Titanic?)

And THAT is why we are such good friends...

Diana Rissetto

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It was a week full of my favorite New York City theatre boys...

I love the New York City theatre community, and I love the people that are in it.

On Monday night, I attended Cheyenne Jackson's New York City cabaret debut at Feinstein's Regency. (Like I would miss it.)

I met Cheyenne shortly after he moved to New York City. I was interning for the show Chicago, and he was an ensemble member/understudy in Thoroughly Modern Millie. My internship was stressful, exhausting and quite unpaid...however, one thing got me through that summer...knowing that I would get to stand under the tent at Broadway in Bryant Park when Chicago performed.

The thought of that tent kept me going.

Chicago and Millie were performing on the same day. I got to carry a stack of feathers over (for Billy Flynn to sing "All I Care About" with). Susan Eagen was singing "Gimme Gimme", Millie's 11:00 O'Clock number. I said, out loud to anybody who would listen, "I always get so upset when I see this number performed! I'll never do that!"

Some very random (and very tall) guy put his arm around me and said, "Oh, don't say that! It will happen some day!"

And that was Cheyenne Jackson.

You never know who just might tapdance (literally!) into your life...because six years later, that random understudy is one of my favorite guys in the world.

Which means, of course, that I spent that evening at Feinstein's, as Cheyenne shared stories of his life since he moved to New York City, crying a lot! (I cry at everything. I know that. But I was genuinely moved to tears!)

It's crazy and a bit surreal to know that place was sold-out with people paying a lot of money (for tickets and the food/drink minimum...oh, I have had my share of expensive club sodas in this city!) all for Cheyenne Jackson...

I am proud.

(Highlights: )

On Thursday night, I went to the final dress rehearsal for the Hair revival.

I brought along one of my best friends from high school...we remembered those songs from chorus in junior high...the year we did a 1960's concert...but neither one of us were familiar with Hair as a whole.

Before the show:

Me: Oh, Gavin Creel is in the show! I forgot to tell you!
My friend: I didn't know that! I have never seen him in a show!
Me: Yeah, he plays the son...
Me: Oh, in Let the Sun Shine In?

(Which made me disappointed that Gavin Creel really wouldn't be dancing around in a giant sun costume...I think they should write that in. It would be awesome.)

Since everybody in the theatre is connected to each other, Cheyenne Jackson was Gavin Creel's understudy back in the Millie days. I love watching Gavin in musicals (although he hasn't, very tragically, been on Broadway in four years), and I have also seen him solo several times. One thing that stands-out about Gavin is that he is just a happy happy happy, bright, sunny little soul...and Hair is a perfect fit for him.

And he's cuter than Tiny Tim.

(And, wow, he was really amazing as Bill the Singing Waiter in Eloise at Christmas. )

I think it takes a really spectacular voice to distract you from the fact that everybody else on stage has just gotten naked.

And that is exactly what Gavin did.

"Ahhhhhhhhhh, what a beautiful voice...hold on...and nobody up there has any clothes on..."

It's a fantastic production, and I have a lot of confidence that it's going to be a great hit...especially since Broadway has been a couple of stars dimmer with the closings of Spring Awakening and Rent.

The cast walks-out into the audience several times, and since I had an aisle seat, I had the extra-special bonus of having Will Swenson grabbing onto my hair and walking a few steps with it clutched in his hand. (I have a lot of hair. I guess it was inevitable.)

(He's really lucky I didn't have extensions or a wig. That would have been embarrassing. For both of us.)

During the curtain call, the cast rocks it out on stage and brings-up audience members and everybody dances.

I think that's how all shows should end from now on.

Last night, I went to go see the new show Happiness at Linoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theatre.

Seven years ago, my mother and I went to go see Rent.

As we were leaving, she noticed a rumpled young man sitting against the theatre and said, "Oh, there's the drug dealer! Go talk to him!"

I went and talked to the "Drug Dealer", who had been played that day by "swing" Sebastian Arcelus.

It is not very often when your mother encourages you to talk to a drug dealer...and I'm glad she did.

Over the years, I have seen Sebastian in Rent (playing several different roles...not all at once), Good Vibrations (the Beach Boys musical), Jersey Boys, Wicked and various other smaller shows.

He's an extremely talented and versatile actor, with a beautiful voice, and while he's done a wonderful job in everything I've seen him in...

Happiness wins.

By far.

I've had a rough past few weeks. I had a loss in my family, and have been crying over fabric softener commercials.

I should have gotten the full plot of this show before I went to see it and given it a few more weeks.

I needed a towel.

I cried my heart out.

It is an original, funny, touching, beautiful show about a bunch of people who are hanging in between life and whatever comes next...but before they move on, they have to remember the time when they were the happiest, which is where they will go forever.

(It reminded me of that Robert Downey, Jr. movie Heart and Souls...which rates very well on my list of all time biggest tearjerkers.)

It's an excellent show, and I hope it extends and/or transfers, because it's really too wonderful not to. I hope more people get a chance to see it.

After the show, I wept to my former drug dealer, and he actually said to me, "I'm so sorry I put you through that!"

But it was was a good kind of cry...and the kind of cry that reminds me why I want to write...I want to be able to stir-up such emotions and questions in people.

Great guys, great week...

Diana Rissetto