What better way to spend a summer evening than enjoying hit show tunes sung by two of Broadway’s best? Starring Judy McLane and Philip Hernández, Broadway Favorites: A Summer Cabaret will run July 15-17 and 20-22 at Everyman Theatre in Baltimore and will include high-energy, heart-wrenching music from Broadway’s most-loved musicals.
In advance of the show, we chatted with McLane, the singer and actress who starred in Mama Mia! for eleven years. Here, she talks about her career, her favorite parts of show business and what she’s looking forward to sharing at the Cabaret.
How did you get into Broadway?
I came by way of music. I went to Ithaca College and studied classically there, but I would spend my summers going to New York and I found my teacher, Bill Schuman, who introduced me to the Broadway style of singing. After I left college, I moved to New York and had to re-do my education. [Ithaca] gave me a wonderful background, but I found out that I loved Broadway so much more. But I think it all started from singing in church…if you want to go way back.
What shows have you appeared in?
Chess was my very first show. I was in Kiss of the Spider Woman, with Philip [Hernández, her Cabaret costar] actually. I did Joseph [and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat] where I got to do a duet with Donny Osmond which was incredible. I was the Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods. I did Next to Normal, which is a very intense show about a woman with bipolar disorder. I am getting ready to do Master Class — I’ll be going to North Carolina right after our last Cabaret show in Baltimore. And of course Mama Mia!, over 4,000 shows and two roles, Tanya and Donna.
What are some of your favorite pieces to sing and why?
I love doing pieces from shows I have been in because it takes me right back into the character. It’s so special to be able to experience that again through the song. I’ll be doing a song from Evita at the Cabaret which I am looking forward to. Also a song called “Welcome Home” from Johnny Guitar, that’s got a kind of country sound to it. I love singing all different styles of music. That’s what is so amazing about Broadway.
What are you most excited about for the Cabaret?
I am excited to sing with Philip. We have a great chemistry and it is always a lot of fun. He is the only one to ever play both Jean Valjean and Javert in Les Mis, and I am the longest running lead, so we are bringing our Broadway veteran status together again. Also, Noah Himmelstein is directing us, and he has such a good eye. It is a pleasure to be in the room with him.
What sets Baltimore audiences apart?
They’re warm and also very smart. We had talk-backs when we were performing there in Los Otros and it was great how people made connections to the issues that the show covers and with everything that is going on in Baltimore. Some people talked about how it was eye-opening to them and they were all there with us energetically and dove into the story. I’ve actually performed at the Baltimore Symphony as well, and at the old Mechanic Theatre — can you believe that? We were there on the national tour of Into the Woods. I love Baltimore. I love walking around at the Inner Harbor…it’s just magical.
What are some songs audience members can look forward to hearing in the cabaret?
We’re doing a bit of everything! We’ll have some songs from Wicked, Man of La Mancha, Les Mis, some of the older ones like South Pacific and Annie Get Your Gun and also a newer, more contemporary piece from Bridges of Madison County. It’s a great mix. If you don’t like a song, just wait a minute and there will be something different!