(Image by Matthew Murphy for Broadway.com/JayArmstrongJohnson.org)
Beautiful out singer Jay Armstrong Johnson just released his latest album, Jay Armstrong Johnson—Live at Feinstein's/54 Below(Broadway Records)—and he's celebrating with a bash at the titular venue in NYC on October 30. Word is it will be Halloween-themed, which is right up the Hocus Pocus fanatic's alley!
Jay's also an actor (you may recognize from Quantico) who's just been cast as the straight guy in a sitcom version of the popular Web series My Gay Roommate.
Check out my interview with the talented crooner and actor below ...
Oh, I've definitely lost fans. I've been fired from Women of Faith. The haters online and on social media are there. But I don't know... I think I've gotten tougher or somethin'.
She also recalls the time a gay fan touched her deeply:
The second record I made was a Christian record (2005's As I Am). So, I was doing one of those talks—one of those moderated talks. After it was over I did a meet and greet, and I was signing the album and a guy comes up to me—he was probably about 35 and he was so cute and kind—and he just said, “I want to thank you for helping me. Just recently you helped save my life.” And I was like, “Wait, whoa, what?” And he just said, “My whole life I've been told I was going to hell. And I'm gay and I love God and I'm Christian and I was able to show my family that, 'Look at this girl. She made this album and she thinks I'm okay.'” That was 10, 12 years ago. That really affected me and stayed with me. One I really remember.
Ryan Raftery's Watch What Happens—Live on Stage! will have its final perf in NYC on October 7.
(GIF via Bravo)
From a press release:
Ryan Raftery, creator and star of the nationwide smash hit Anna Wintour musical Ryan Raftery Is the Most Powerful Woman in Fashion returns home to Joe’s Pub to premiere his newest show, Ryan Raftery’s Watch What Happens—Live On Stage! This jukebox musical tells the (not-quite-true) story of a young Andy Cohen who moves to New York to pursue his two obsessions—television and Anderson Cooper.
Featuring cameos from The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Nene Leakes, The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Teresa Giudice, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Kim Richards, and Mr. Cooper himself, one thing is certain…you’re going to love Andy.
Scott gave us his best Bobby Kennedy meets Bobby Van. (All images by Matthew Rettenmund)
Rushed over to Scott Nevins's 49 Days Till Herstory Hillary Clinton fundraiser at Industry last night just in time for the VIP meet-and-greet, at which I was happy to see Scott, chat with Nick Adams and his biceps (Nick did most of the talking, his arms are the strong, silent type), the incredible Randy Rainbow (who recognized me by my “cute” face, blush) and Broadway superstar Laura Benanti.
Benanti mock-fumed that a friend chatted with her for 20 minutes without realizing she as pregnant.
I raved to Laura about her performance in Gypsy, as well as her Melania Trump impersonation. No surprise, that impersonation because the centerpiece of a lively evening. (I'm hoping to receive my pic with her from a photog who was on hand.)
Scott 'n' Matt
I can't get enough Nick!
Oh, Randy—he came and he gave without takin'.
Inside, Shayna Steele kicked things off with a stirring national-anthem belt-fest:
Scott had some funny words about how we all know Donald Trump, and how he came to be a Hillary fan in an anti-Clinton household:
Edward Albee, probably America's most esteemed living playwright, died Friday at 88 at his home on Long Island.
Albee's greatest works included the Pulitzer Prize winners A Delicate Balance (1966), Seascape (1975) and Three Tall Women (1991), and of course his pop cultural atom bomb Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the 1962 Broadway masterpiece turned into an equally impressive film starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Woolf? was criticized at the time for its crude language, and at least one critic sniffed that its central couple—male and female—were stand-ins for a bitchy gay couple.
RIP Edward Albee, towering playwright and creator of this monumental literary line of dialogue: https://t.co/AE5A9DrMMW
Last night, I did something new after 24 years in NYC—I went to Staten Island, the fabled most conservative borough.
I was lured there by a siren's song: Miss Sophia Loren was making an unusual appearance on her Q&A tour, An Evening with Sophia Loren. I find it odd that she would appear on Staten Island, but I think the tour is economically driven (she wants the money, not just remind us of her fabulousness) and the venue—the St. George—was probably much cheaper than anything in Manhattan. It certainly felt cheaper—it was frankly like the event had rented it out and the venue provided little more than a skeleton crew to move things along.
She's actually appearing in Detroit next.
Getting there wasn't half the fun, but it wasn't too much of a bother, and the ferry ride cooled me off. You may have heard that New York was stultifyingly hot recently. I went in and got my VIP pass, which was the very first moment I was notified that Sophia would not sign autographs at the $400 photo op. That seemed pretty stingy to me. I went back outside and spotted some autograph hounds by the stage door, listening in as one guy bent the ear of a security guy who could not have cared less as he talked about the various celebrity encounters he'd had in his life. I decided to hang there on the way, way off-chance that she would be accessible upon entry since only five or six guys were waiting and I had a nice pic for her to hopefully sign.
If you gotta be 81, you wanna be 81 and look like this.
Her manager walked by us, never mentioning the inevitable—that she planned to be driven straight into the building and would enter without anyone laying eyes on her—until he was finally directing her SUV into the back entrance. At this moment, these pigs who hadn't been waiting at all physically pushed past us to get closer, but they got no more a glimpse of her than we did. My motto is to try, because I'd rather have her autograph than not have it, but I wasn't going to lose sleep. I think the nice guy who had roses for her might have.
When you get an opportunity to interview Bruce Vilanch, one of the most celebrated comedy writers in history and a way-out gay man to boot (and boots go with anything), you do not pass it by.
Vilanch spoke with me last week about a cause close to his heart, the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation and the great work it does and will continue to do thanks to the bucks it seeks to rake in from a one-night-only Help Is on the Way cabaret benefit: the Broadway touring cast of Beautiful will perform in Motown & More on Monday, September 12, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. at the Marines' Memorial Theater in San Francisco.
(Image via Help Is on the Way)
The highly anticipated show will be co-hosted by Vilanch and operatic drag diva Katya Smirnoff-Skyy. Get your tickets here.
Vilanch's career took off when a friendship with Bette Midler (before she was Bette Midler!) led to him writing for her 1974 Broadway show Clams on the Half Shell. He's collaborated with her many times, and has written for a dizzying array of TV shows and performers, from Donny Osmond to Elizabeth Taylor, and for some of the funniest people of our time: Robin Williams, Roseanne Barr (she really did used to be funny), Billy Crystal, Lily Tomlin and more.
Help Is on the Way performers speak out about the charity:
Somehow, Vilanch has been able to be a part of the best and worst of pop culture, writing for the Oscars for 27 years and counting, and also counting The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (1976-1977) and that infamous Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) among his credits. He is the nuclear cockroach of HA!, and always the best thing about whatever project he's tackling.
Vilanch survives in any milieu because everyone knows he knows from funny. He's beloved because, unlike some very funny people, he also has a sense of humor about himself, and a sense of duty toward the gay community and people in need.
Read on for my chat with the most hilarious person in the room, because the room is usually filled with people delivering lines he's given them to say ...