If you've ever been cast in a musical, then you are well aware of a backstage phenomenon that no one in the audience has any idea about: actors, as a coping mechanism against the occasional boredom and/or punch-drunkery that comes from hours and hours of rehearsal, sing their own versions of the songs being sung out on the stage. They're usually really, really dirty, incredibly tasteless and wrong, and any line that ends with the word "luck," well, you know what the rhyme will be.
It's one of the most fun things about doing musical theater.
Thanks to Jeremy Stevens, you can hear some of it when he presents Wrong Way Broadway 2: Even Wronger as part of SummerStage.
"The show is geared towards the idea of what we do to songs backstage during a show -- the actors' versions of songs that never get sung," he said. "That's really what this is -- bring those versions of the songs out from backstage."
This is a sequel to Stevens' show last year, returning after rave reviews.
"We had such great response from it last year, so we thought we'd just bring it back. We had a lot of people who said, 'Do you think you'll apply to do it again?' I was like, 'I guess I will,' and lots of people were excited about us bringing it back," he said. Both shows took inspiration from a similar show that's been running for 30 years.
"I got inspired by Forbidden Broadway, and I thought surely there's something we can do here in Tulsa that wouldn't be so obscure, because a lot of the references in that would only be known by people who go see lots of Broadway shows," he said. "The whole idea was, 'Alright, if we're going to poke fun at people, we should be able to poke fun at ourselves."
SYNDEE WINTERS (NALA FROM THE LION KING) AND JELANI REMY (SIMBA)
The show is filled from start to finish with Broadway classics, old and new. And given the recent trends on Broadway, some songs didn't really need any changing.
"Some of the songs have been rewritten," Stevens said. "We start off singing 'My Favorite Things,' but it goes really badly really quickly. Like the first person sings the first verse normally. But the second sings about being an alcoholic."
But then there are shows like Spring Awakening, featuring a really catchy tune called "Totally Fucked."
"There's no point in rewriting that. It's already really offensive to a lot of people, so there's no reason to change it," Stevens said with a laugh.
And really, that's the point of the whole show: laughter and entertainment.
"The entire show is meant for people to come, have a good time, laugh, and then leave humming something we've done," he said.
As far as rewrites, Stevens said he wanted the singers to make their own changes to the lyrics, since that's what they all do anyway.
"If I didn't like the key something was in, or if I didn't want to do all of a song, I did most of that myself," he said. "But where we rewrote lyrics, I had the actors who were singing the songs rewrite their own verses so that would be theirs. I gave them free reign."
Actually, freedom with guidance. It's not like it's a let's-sing-"fuck"-just-because-we-can sophomoric display.
"Like we're doing a song from The Life called 'My Body' that is about prostitution. And after that, we're doing 'Grow For Me' [from Little Shop of Horrors]," he said. "I thought rather than being about a plant, since it's following 'My Body,' it would be about penises and boobs. So with that, I told them what I was thinking, and told them the context I was after and just turned them loose."
Stevens said that the comedy extends beyond dirty words, good-naturedly mocking all sorts of musical theater conventions, even throwing in a tap dance number.
"But I didn't say it was good tap dancing," he said. Wrong Way Broadway 2: Even Wronger runs this weekend, June 22 at 7:30pm and June 23 at 2:30pm in the Charles E. Norman Theater. Tickets to all SummerStage shows shows are available at in person at the Second Street box office, by phone at 918-596-7111, or online at tulsapac.com.
Workin' on a Full House
Cindy Cain and Pam Van Dyke Crosby are cut from the same cloth. It makes sense, then, that the two jazz divas would combine forces for a SummerStage cabaret called, aptly, Two of a Kind.
"We're two of the same sort, but just a generation apart," Cain said. "She's my role model."
And the setlist forms a somewhat-autobiographical show that tells the story of their friendship.
"We met when I was a teenager, and then I went off to college and off to the Peace Corps. We both circled back and ended up back in Tulsa," Cain said. "We're just charting that path. I took a voice lesson from her, and then in 2001, I saw her at the Greenwood Cultural Center. I saw her and said, 'You're not going to remember me, but...' and we've been singing together ever since."
"I met her through her mother because she wanted to sing," Crosby said of Cain. "I did nightclubs and gigs, and I retired for a few years. I had been doing a lot of commercial singing, and then I came back, I did a lot more jazz. And Cindy showed up and we clicked."
Together, the pair has been active on the Tulsa music scene and even released a CD, with a few of those tunes making an appearance in Two of a Kind.
That said, fans of each singer will be treated to material they've not heard them do before.
"But they fit the show," Crosby said. "And a lot of duet material that fits where it's supposed to be. But there's a lot of songs that people have never heard from us before."
And that will bring stylistic variety to the show.
"We really have a little bit of everything," Cain added. "We've got pop songs like 'My Cherie Amour' and 'On Broadway.' And we've got Broadway tunes -- 'All that Jazz,' things like that. It's not just all jazz tunes."
The one-night-only Two of a Kind plays in the Charles E. Norman Theater June 21 at 8pm.
The Lioness in Summer
Apparently feeling eight shows a week as Nala in The Lion King just wasn't enough work while she's here for the run of the show, Syndee Winters took it upon herself to find a band and a venue to play a gig that's decidedly not an Elton John-Tim Rice-Disney joint.
She will take off the Nala makeup and step in front of a band at Blu, 111 N. Main St., on Sunday, June 23 at 10pm, joined by fellow castmates Tshidi Manye (Rafiki) and Jelani Remy (Simba).
She'll sing some original tunes and some R&B covers while being backed by some pretty salty names from various Tulsa music scenes, including Dan Wootton of Carbondale Assembly of God Church and a sometime-guest conductor for the Signature Symphony on keyboards.
Winters' band will also involve a Tulsa musical reunion of sorts, with solo artist Eric Himan and Jimmy Dean Adams --currently playing drums for breakout band We The Ghost -- rekindling their connection from their Eric and the Adams days. And the bass player is a total badass.
The night of what Winters calls "Neo-soul" is free, but considering Blu's capacity of 118, you'll want to get there early, as management expects a full, SRO house. The music starts at 10pm.
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Simunye (We Are One)
In keeping with the we're-in-town-so-let's-do-stuff vibe of The Lion King's Nala, five cast members will perform a benefit concert at the Greenwood Cultural Center at 322 N. Greenwood Ave. On tap are performances of traditional South African stories and music.
Admission is a $15 donation to the Greenwood Cultural Center (though they'll accept fatter wads of cash if you're so inclined). Seating is limited; RSVP by calling 918-596-1020.
Petronel Malan in concert
Tulsa Camerata welcomes South African-born (and holy crap, is she beautiful) Petronel Malan in a piano performance benefitting the performing arts group. She'll perform selections by Schumann and Liszt, among others. Malan will play in Tulsa Camerata's concert home in the Patti Johnson Wilson Hall at the Philbrook Museum of Art at 2727 South Rockford Road on Sunday, June 23 at 3pm. Tickets to the benefit are $35 and available through tulsacamerata.org.
The Boys Next Door
Sand Springs Community Theatre takes a break from its somewhat-nomadic existence and sets up shop at the PAC in its SummerStage production of The Boys Next Door, a dramedy about four dumbasses trying to make their way through life. Aren't we all? June 21-22 at 8pm and June 23 at 2pm in the Liddy Doenges Theater.Fifth Annual Tulsa Awards for Theatre Excellence
Recognizing nonprofit, non-equity theatre companies in Tulsa, the TATE Awards will present awards for Outstanding Theatre Production and Outstanding Youth Production among others, in addition to the Mary Kay Place Legacy Award and the Distinguished Artist Award to Wes Studi on Sunday, June 23 at 7pm at the Cascia Hall Performing Arts Center at 2520 S. Yorktown Ave. Tickets at online at myticketoffice.com, by phone at 918-596-7111, in person at the Tulsa PAC Ticket Office. Tickets at the door are cash only.
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