SiriusXM's Julie James on Showtunes, TV Theme Songs & 54 Below Drinking Games
June 17th, 2014
by Josh Ferri
More fun than a night at Marie’s Crisis, tipsier than Tony party and more insider than The New York Post, The Julie James Show returns to 54 Below on June 21 at 11 PM—back by popular demand. You may love Julie as the host of “Broadway Names with Julie James”on SiriusXM’s On Broadway channel, but you can’t truly adore Julie until you’ve seen her light up Broadway’s living room. Read on as we chat with red-headed wonder woman about showtunes, cocktails and Broadway’s other Julie.
1. The cast recording that changed my life:
Growing up in Ohio, cast recordings were one of the few links to New York City & Broadway, so I binged on Patti LuPone's "I Dreamed a Dream" and fancied myself a Sondheim nut, performing complete, solo versions of Sunday in the Park with George & "Into the Woods in my bedroom or car. But if I'm going all true-confessions, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, I was obsessed with the London cast album of Chess and just couldn't get enough of that popified score, the arrangements, the harmonies...Elaine Paige, come on. It was kind of 1990's "Emo". It's interesting that shows that aren't hits on stage can end up working even better as an incredible album and Chess was that guilty pleasure for me.
2. This song by this Broadway diva could bring me to tears:
Most recently, I was reduced to an ugly cry by "Always Better" by Kelli O'Hara in one of the last performances of The Bridges of Madison County, which Jason Robert Brown happened to be conducting for the final time. There was such true, bittersweetness in that moment, and I felt all the feelings. What the character of Francesca is conveying, that it was better to have loved for those 4 days and lived without it from then on being better than never having experienced that love at all, along with Kelli's exquisite voice and Jason's gorgeous, poignant music and scoring was a theatre memory I really treasure. And I felt there was this additional layer going on in the house and on stage, knowing that the song applied to the show itself—that it is always better to have a art like that created, shared, recorded, even if its life on Broadway doesn't last as long as it should have.
3. My favorite Broadway hangout spot to see a good celeb/hear a great story:
My go-to in the theater district is The Glasshouse Tavern. There are always good Broadway peeps hanging there after shows, and it's a little less obvious than some of the famous post-theater hangs like Bar Centrale. Which is exactly why you might bump into a cool star who is trying to fly a little under the radar. Plus it's chic but casual, has a delish bar menu, serves late into the wee hours and has a stellar staff. Cue The Merm: "Who could ask for anything mooore....".
4. The ultimate TV theme show song:
Ooo—this is a perfect question because in The Julie James Show I talk about my obsession with jingles & TV theme songs and we do this crazy mash-up medley where we jam in as many of them as we can. It's so fun to hear the audience recognize their favorites and try to pick out as many of them as they can! Back then, so many of these songs were on the radio because they were so catchy, and most often really well-crafted. It's pretty tough to pick just one, so I'm going to have to go with a tie between the theme song to Wonder Woman (fightin' for your rights, in her satin tights, and the 'ol red, white & bluuuue).
And "Making Our Dreams Come True" from Laverne & Shirley (we're gonna do it..). They are SO fun to sing along to, and I always try to do the fun backup harmonies too!
5. The SiriusXM interview I was most nervous for:
Wow, there have been a few—but probably top of the list is Julie Andrews. I mean, it's JULIE. ANDREWS. Luckily she is every bit as "loverly" as you imagine in your mind she would be. Kind and gracious, I felt immediately at ease with her, and her love for musicals and the theatre was absolutely palpable. It's such a thrill when you can capture first-hand stories of auditioning and working for legends like Rodgers, Lerner, Lowe, and it's extraordinary to realize that someone is, as far as they know, working hard and "doing their job" long before there's even a glimmer of becoming an icon. She started referring to us as "the two Jules" after we discovered our friends call us by the same nickname—and that's the last thing I remember before I melted into a puddle.
6. The most underrated show tune of all-time:
Just one?! I'm going with "Children of the Wind" from Charles Strouse & Stephen Schwartz's Rags. I didn't get to see it, and not many did since it only played 4 performances (and 18 previews), but the cast recording was marvelous and that song, in particular, was so dramatic and powerful. You could feel all the simultaneous angst and hope from this immigrant mother just off of Ellis Island having escaped the Cossacks in Russia. This is another great example of a show having a secondary life via its cast recording, I certainly would have never known about this show otherwise. It's also why I'm so passionate about SiriusXM On Broadway—we're connecting listeners to the music of the theatre before, during and after a show has its life on Broadway and helping them discover new music and shows they might have missed.
7. If someone ordered a drink called the Julie James, they would be getting:
This is another good question since we actually play a drinking game during The Julie James Show—so you're going to want to get prepared! As a natural redhead, the Julie James needs to contain GINGER! And I love a good margarita, so this drink will get spicy (like me!) and take your regular marg to the next level with a kick! Start with your fav tequila, lime juice, some Grand Marnier, then add a healthy splash of Ginger Root Syrup. A little salt & fresh lime to the rim of the glass and BOOM.
See Julie James in 'The Julie James Show' at 54 Below on June 21 and save 15%.