Do I Hear a Waltz Star Melissa Errico Revisits Six Epic YouTube Videos
May 5th, 2016
by Melissa Errico
Melissa Errico returns to Encores! leading Stephen Sondheim and Richard Rodgers' romantic musical Do I Hear a Waltz at New York City Center May 11-May 15. Errico (who made history at Encores! in One Touch of Venus) plays Leona Samish, a New York secretary who uses her life savings for a long-dreamed-of trip to Venice in order to find love and herself. BroadwayBox caught up with the Tony nominee to get the inside stories behind six of her most beloved YouTube clips.
"Wouldn't It Be Loverly", My Fair Lady on the Thanksgiving Day Parade, 1993
This is quite a throwback to see. I was 22 years old when I got cast as Eliza— and I had already dropped out of Yale to play Cosette in the first national of Les Miz, gone back to Yale and graduated, and then made my Broadway debut in Anna Karenina at Circle in The Square! Somewhere in there, I started and dropped out of the famous Yale School of Drama. It was truly a blur of a time, and getting the role of Eliza was the biggest experience of my life, and still stands up there as very defining. I can never quite explain how grateful I feel and how attached I feel to so much of that role and that story of a young woman wanting a new life. When I look at this video, I realize how young I was and how many risks I was getting used to taking! We had recorded that track in Philadelphia during our out-of-town tryout, and we had not blocked it until 4:30AM on the day of the parade. I remember being a little confused that we ended up not in the parade at all, but on the roof of some building at dawn—in the cold and lip-synching. I wanted to see all the crowds and the balloons! The good news is it was always one of my favorite numbers, and I adored the boys surrounding me. We were very relaxed and I think I was too young to comprehend that it was going out on national TV and would follow me for (like this interview!!)...forever. Ah, youth!
"It’s All Right with Me", High Society on the Today Show, 1998
This is a bit bizarre to see. The first thing I remember when I see this is that I was blonde during the out-of-town run. My wig looks dark to me because somewhere in NY previews, there was a decision made that I didn't look like Melissa when I was blonde and no one would know it was me! I'm kind of sorry you all didn't get to see the other look. Anyway, I think this Youtube might be one of the strangest memories because I was asked to sing the song (to a pre-recorded track I had never had time to practice with) where Tracy feels completely alone, and drunk, and decides to cheat on her husband on the night before her wedding. She's also super ... Ummmm what's the most lady-like way to express this..."attracted" to the reporter. She's VERY MUCH in the mood. It's very late at night. And I'm totally alone in the dark singing. So: there I was super early in the morning—in the middle of eight shows a week and late nights, without a swimming pool, without the dark lighting, with cheery tourists and lots of people on all sides of me in the sunlight and all the hubbub of TV morning shows—trying to somehow do the moody I'm lost in the shadows performance from the show. It's just all bizarre and funny! Obviously the people are so nice there and made it fun. In the actual show, at the end of the song, I strip off my dress and race after my lover, (played by the dashing Stephen Bogardus). At least they didn't ask me to do that and then leap over the fence & onto 6th Ave!!
"Meadowlark" at Joe’s Pub, 2011
This was my first time singing the song in public. I had learned it that week. It was always a dream of mine to begin to sing this kind of music and start reaching for more intense and dramatic material. My director was so proud of me that he threw his hat across the room and it hit me! This song is on my Live at 54 CD and DVD, which was made two years later. Since that night, I sang the song in all my concerts from Wolf Trap to Guild Hall to an evening in Singapore to two different week-long runs at 54 Below. I've spent a lot of time with it! I cannot explain how much I love the imagery and the idea of how Stephen Schwartz has this woman recalling a childhood memory of a fairytale and then adapts it to her adult emotions and choices. I guess this YouTube marks my trying new things myself. It's not the best I can do, but I know I'm trying to learn new things and open up my voice to new music. I'm trying to be patient with myself:)!
"That's Him", One Touch of Venus at Encores!
This was not the famous Venus night of 1996—this was an anniversary concert for City Center. I think it was like 5 or 10 years after the crazy Encores! week where One Touch of Venus was so rapturously received. Maybe a YouTube of THAT will appear one day! This is fun to recall anyway. I think I'm a bit wiggly during this, but it's such a great song and a role I just felt tremendous harmony with. I love the language and the wit and the way the song feels in my voice. I sang this role a few times—at Avery Fisher, Symphony Space and even again this year (2016) at Abravanel Hall! (Maurice Abravabel was Weill's own conductor!). A CD (the first complete recording in history!!) was made of Venus at Abbey Road Studios in London with the National Symphony (Jay Records in the UK), and I got to sing the title character. I'm very grateful for all the happiness this Kurt Weill role has brought my life! She's such a naughty flirt.
"Color and Light", Sunday in the Park with George, 2002
I'm glad to see this clip again! And delighted that whoever posted this was kind enough to blur my boobies! I will never forget when Derek McLane (set designer) and I were on the same flight to Washington, DC to begin the incredible Sondheim Celebration that summer. I made a comment that it would be awesome if Dot was in a bathtub in their atelier in Paris, vulnerable and sexy and excited to go to the Follies on the promised "date night" with George (Seurat). Then when George rejects her (to finish the hat) she feels so vulnerable and lost, and untouched, and left behind. I just thought it would feel so sad and intimate. Raul loved it—we like all these sexy things anyway—and we used to call it "the Cuban-Italian SITPWG" LoL!! You may notice there are a few lyric changes that Sondheim made (soap and scent). An amazing experience of a lifetime!!!!!!
"Send in The Clowns", at The Barns at Wolf Trap, 2013
I love this song. And I would love to play Desiree someday. This was my first time ever singing it in concert. It may take me a lifetime to dig into the different ways this song can go, and the depth of emotions stirring in every line. It's about an aging actress, and I guess (I hope!) I'll be one of those until my final bow.
Don't miss Melissa Errico as Leona Samish in 'Do I Hear a Waltz' at New York City Center May 11-May 15.