OUT ON THE BAYOU
DECEMBER 3,1999 • HOUSTON VOICE
>- Continued from page 15
'Okay, it's your turn—go, girl."
There weren't a lot of rehearsals, either,
"because we're all very busy, th-ank God. We
only rehearsed about a week prior to it,"
"My Favorite Broadway: The Leading
Ladies" was recorded live at Carnegie Hall on
Sept. 28,1998. A portion of the proceeds from
the event and the CD go to Broadway Cares—
Equity Fights AIDS. The war against the killer
virus is close to HoIIiday's heart.
"I think that any organization that is devoted
to AIDS is close to all of us in theater and dance.
In the first major sweep of ail those horrible
deaths, we were affected most—the Broadway
community, the dance community, the arts.
"It got to the point where everyday, every
time the phone would ring, somebody was
dying. So this is a cause that will never go
away for any of us.
"I took up the cause after the director of
'Dreamgirls,' Michael Bennett, died in 1987.
He left money to AIDS research, but he definitely had dreams that we would keep working to find a cure," said Holliday, who noted
that she has "a huge gay following."
Holliday was bom and reared in Houston,
which she left in 1978. She made her
Broadway debut in a revival of "Your Arms
Too Short to Box With God."
Then in 1981 came her big break: The 21-
year-old Holliday created the role of Effie in
Michael Bennett's "Dreamgirls." Audiences
flocked to Broadway's Imperial Theater to
share the joys and sorrows of the Dreams, a
Supremes-like trio of vocalists. The show ran
for 1,522 performances and brought Holliday
a Tony Award.
Broadway composers know that a strong
first act closer is essential for a show's pacing,
Henry Krieger -and Tom Eyen penned a true
roof-raiser for "Dreamgirls"—the defiant
anthem "And I'm Telling You."
When an artist and a song fit so well
together, "it becomes your signature,"
Holliday said. Even today, 18 years after the
show's premiere, it remains the song most
associated with Holliday. And it's the
Holliday selection featured on both the TV
and CD versions of the show. (Holliday also
performed the ballad "If He Walked into My
Life Today" from Jerry Herman's "Mame,"
but this song is not included on the recordings.)
Absent from the recording studio for eight
years, Holliday hopes soon to return and add
to her five-CD catalog. She has also appeared
on "Touched by an Angel" and "Ally
McBeal," where she has a repeating role as the
choir leader at Ally's church.
Though thrilled at making her Carnegie
Hall debut, Holliday was "disappointed" that
the show was not more "intimate."
"I just thought it was too much power, in
terms of loud music, for a place like that. I
would love to go back and have less things,
like me and a piano, a few small things—but
THE LEADING LADIES
not like a whole big old orchestra of as many
as we did."
The large scale of the show, she said, forced
the singers to "compete with the orchestra."
In true Broadway style, there's not shortage
of "sell it to the balcony" vocalizing on the CD.
Minnelli sounds more like Merman (Ethel)
than "Mama" (Garland) as she roars through
"Some People" from "Gypsy." In "I Can Cook,
Too," DeLaria shows why her role as a female
cabby in the recent revival of Bernstein's "On
the Town" made her the talk of the town.
And the CD and TV show both include
Elaine Stritch's electrifying rendition of "The
Ladies Who Lunch" from Stephen
Sondheim's "Company." A tribute to afternoons whiled away in boozy indolence, the
song was covered by Barbra Streisand in 1985
and has long been a gay brunch favorite.
My Favorite Broadway:
The Leading Ladies
Dec. 6, 8:30 p.m.
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