Over the past several months, I couldn't help but follow along as a friend of mine was being rather beaten up in the press. (And by "press" I mean "really stupid online blogs run by people we should not care about.")
The friend is somebody I have spoken about a lot on here, stage and screen actor Cheyenne Jackson. I always reflect back on our random meeting over ten years ago and remember that everything always happens for a reason! I was an enthusiastic little intern working at a Broadway office that came home crying most days. What got me through that entire summer was knowing that when the show I was working on performed at Broadway in Bryant Park, I'd get to stand under the air-conditioned tent with the Broadway performers.
I waited the entire summer for that tent. I knew that tent was going to be magical, and the thought of that tent is what kept me going to work every day.
I must have manifested that tent being special, because, in the end, it was--that was the day I started talking to a very tall, friendly, unknown "chorus boy" that I felt an immediate kinship with and had a feeling that was supposed to become my friend. I was definitely right. So many years later, I love this guy and always call him an older brother figure in my life.
The guy's had a rough year, and I think there's nothing more catty, superficial people enjoy more than to watch somebody successful and well-loved struggle. I kept reading these nasty blogs, and I kept taking them personally. Don't they realize that's my boy they're talking about?!
The best revenge, they always say, is being happy and successful. I think Cheyenne is accomplishing just that. Last week, he performed at Carnegie Hall and opened the evening with "Something's Coming" from West Side Story (my all-time favorite musical!) and yesterday, I was so happy to be able to be at his solo show at Birdland Jazz Club.
I brought along three friends who aren't among my "theatre friends" at all. They came along because it sounded fun, and I was glad they did. And it was. (Fun. Lots of it.)
The night was kicked-off with “Feelin’ Good” (Buble?! Who’s that?) and what followed was an hour-and-a-half of beautiful music, along with some seriously entertaining, funny and poignant story-telling. As he told the audience, Cheyenne’s had a particularly rough year, and channeled those emotions into writing some very thoughtful, poignant song, several of which he sang Monday night.
Cheyenne is definitely a versatile performer, even tackling some Katy Perry with a sensitive rendition of “Teenage Dream.” Christine Ebersole joined Cheyenne for a bouncy (complete with a bit of a cha-cha) duet with “Somethin’ Stupid” and we all had instant flashbacks of his star turn in “All Shook Up” when he sang Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation.” There was even a surprise original Christmas song (“Squeeze Me, It’s Christmas.”) Cheyenne came back for an encore, seamlessly weaving together “What a Wonderful World” and “Auld Lang Syne.”
A special evening of music with one truly special guy. He knows how to work a crowd, but, most importantly, he does what he does best when he’s on stage: he is himself.
While I was watching the show last night, I laughed to myself and thought about how when they say "only in New York", they're probably talking about those times you randomly click with an unknown Broadway understudy in a park and then, after eleven years, you've been his plus one to see the President (no, really) and then you're cheering at his sold-out cabaret at a legendary club. Only in New York, indeed.
Also, I have stopped reading nasty gossip blogs.