Stephanie J. Block Has the Best Stories As She Revisits Six Epic YouTube Videos From Her Past
December 14th, 2015
by Josh Ferri
Tony nominee Stephanie J. Block returns to Broadway this fall as the leading lady of the first-ever Broadway revival of Falsettos. As truly a gift for us all, Stephanie J. Block tells us the behind-the-scenes stories from six of her most legendary, fan-favorite YouTube clips.
The Pirate Queen on The View, 2007
Rosie [O’Donnell] is the one who got us on the show because her kids loved The Pirate Queen, and they came back and they came back and they came back. Every time Rosie and the kids came, she would bring them backstage and that’s what got us on The View. I must admit when we heard this particular cut we thought, ‘Oh gosh, how wacky.’ But after seeing the video, I was pretty pleased. The studio audience had a majority of women and when Hadley came on stage and sang with this sick, gorgeous, booming voice it was not about me anymore—it was all about Mr. Hadley Fraser.
Funny Girl Medley at Birdland, 2007
Well the first thing that comes to mind is, ‘Oh God, why am I wearing that dress—that dress has seen way too many performances.’ My relationship with Funny Girl is a long relationship. I did my first regional production of Fanny when I was 20, and I had fallen in love with the film version when I was 14 or 15. I would sing the entire score—I know it backwards and forwards. I’ve played Fanny three different times regionally, and six years ago, when there was a chance that it was coming back to Broadway with Bart Sher, it did get down to myself and Lauren [Ambrose]. I was vacationing in Tuscany (let’s make myself sound fancy) with Alain Boublil and his wife when I got the call that Bart was going to go with Lauren as opposed to my Fanny Brice. It was heartbreaking. At that point I had been in love with the score and the idea of playing the role for twenty years. Even back in the day, I would have dream boards with my Broadway goals and Fanny Brice was always at the top of my list.
9 to 5 at the pre-Tony Concert, 2009
I have such mixed feelings when I see this video. It was so, so thrilling to be asked to represent the show as a whole. We were left out of being nominated for Best Musical, but since Dolly was nominated for Best Score, this is the song they chose to have a nice profile of the show on the pre-Tony telecast. I was there with the cast of Next to Normal and so many different companies and casts that were being lauded and lifted up during that Tony season, and I’m there as the lone solider for such a huge show that we had such great expectations for. Everyone else was in a real celebratory mood and I was there as a warrior protecting my cast, proving that what we had was really special. There was a lot weighing on me and this performance. I really wanted to show the viewership that our show was worth going to see. There was a live audience there that night and they really responded to it, and I walked away saying, ‘Ok, I think I did my show justice.’
Anything Goes on Thanksgiving Day Parade, 2011
From the waist up I felt magnificent but the waist down my knees are still aching. Had I known that Reno Sweeney was coming up in two or three months time (which a lot of times casting is months in advance) I would have prepped my body as well as my voice for this marathon, but for Anything Goes I didn't get the chance. I auditioned, a month or two had passed, I got the call, and a week and half later I was in the show. It was a whirlwind; it was crazy; and I’m so glad I said yes. I didn’t have time to be in my head or make it scarier than it was. I just jumped in, but by jumping I remember the morning of this performance: Sebastian, my husband, was there and my dresser was there and we were icing my knees like mad and I was stretching like mad. I was like, ‘I don't know how I’m doing this.’ I would have physical therapy and acupuncture before shows and from the waist down my hips, my knees, my ankles were in a state of WTF. That morning as I’m getting my hair and makeup done, we are just doing heating pads and ice, heating pads and ice—literally trying to get me into the car to go to the venue to film this and I couldn't get into the car. Three people walked me from my dressing room to the car and I thought, ‘This is it. This is the end of my career. Everyone is gonna see me hobbling along and this is it.’ But somehow the showbiz juices start flowing and I was quite pleased with how it turned out. I felt proud introducing my Reno to the Thanksgiving crowds watching.
"For Good" with Megan Hilty, 2013
Megan and I never did Wicked together and I think in a lot of people’s minds we had done Wicked and then moved on to 9 to 5 together but we hadn’t. There’s only been three times we’ve shared the stage to do this song and this might have been the very first time. It was so special. It was funny too because we showed up in black, strapless dresses with our hair swept up and we were like, ‘girl we checked in with each other,’ but we hadn’t. We had a quick rehearsal the day before with the beautiful choir behind us and we had not known there was a complete choral arrangement that was going to happen behind us when we sang the song. So we started singing and we’re like, ‘Hello big arrangement.’ It’s quite beautiful but it’s completely different than what the Wicked fans know as this very intimate song between two best friends—it’s now a production number!
Beauty and the Beast at Disneyland, 1992
There’s some debate but this video is totally, totally me. I auditioned for Belle in 1991 and they turned me down. I was typecast out at the audition. I was 17 years old and I turned my car around and drove right back to Debbie Reynolds Studio in Hollywood and I waited. I just waited until they saw everyone they wanted to see and I knocked on the door and asked if the casting director would please let me come in and sing, and they afforded me that opportunity. I look at this video and I think I was a very courageous 17-year-old. I hear my voice and it sounds so youthful and hopeful. And I look and think,’Oh God, I used to think I was fat and I was 19 inches of waist!’ I just want to slap myself from here to Tomorrowland. I was the five show Belle; shows were five times a day, seven days a week and you had the five show Belle and the two show Belle. Robert Roth and Matt West, the creative team that did this particular show at Disneyland, moved on to create Disney Theatrical with Michael Eisner and shape this 23-minute production into what became Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, and that was another close call. I auditioned for the Broadway production when I was 19, and after a couple of callbacks in the LA area, I flew out to New York where they were seeing us at 890 Broadway. It was the first time I went to New York and my first major audition. On my way out, I saw Susan Egan coming up the rickety elevator, and sure enough she walked away with the role—but I’ll always have Disneyland. I’m so proud of this video, and, when Vivi is old enough, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will be the first fairytale I’ll introduce to her.
See Stephanie J. Block in 'Falsettos' beginning September 29 at Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre.