Paige O'Hara...just a Broadway Baby


It was Paige O'Hara's closing night in Las Vegas where she had been guest starring in The Great Radio City Spectacular at the Flamingo Hotel/Showroom. The Rockettes are the stars of the show, of course, but I really went to see Paige perform. Many of you probably know her as the voice of Belle in the Disney film Beauty And The Beast or when she performed the song "Belle” on the Academy Awards telecast, but her roots are Broadway and now she's heading to Hollywood.

On Broadway Paige has performed in Les Miserables, Showboat and Drood. Internationally she starred in London as Venus in the BBC's broadcast of Kurt Weill's One Touch of Venus and was featured prominently on Mack and Mabel in Concert. Just recently, she's back from a tour in Australia where she starred in South Pacific, and earlier this year was globetrotting in Japan as Special Guest Vocalist with The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. A Hollywood producer caught the show at the Flamingo and, as a result, she's landed a role as a cabaret singer in a new film.

Heading over to the Flamingo, it occurred to me that I never had an interest in seeing this show. The Rockettes were never really my idea of a night of entertainment for some reason. Had I known it was choreographed and directed by both Joe Layton and Maurice Hines, my interest would have been sparked. The Rockettes open the show with a precision tap number which of course ends with the kicking chorus line routine. I have to admit, there is something about seeing them "live” that is exciting. I even got a little choked up when they did their famous "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers”. The evening is not all Rockettes, though, as there is also an excellent male chorus which dances with hot feet. It's pretty much a variety show with various acts performing between the big production numbers and then of course there is Paige O'Hara belting with that big voice of hers.

You could tell she was "on” as it was her closing performance and as a result, the house was filled with the electricity this performer generates. The highlight is when she dons a Rockette costume. Looking out of place and about six inches too short, she did a dazzling precision tap number in the line which tore the house down.

Heading backstage after the show, I just had to tell her how much I enjoyed the performance and also her CD, "Loving You ... Paige O'Hara sings Jerry Herman”, which was produced by Bruce Kimmel on the Varese Sarabande label last year. We joked a bit as she packed things up in her dressing room before heading to Hollywood. Her home is here in Las Vegas with husband Michael Piontek (currently in EFX), so the commute won't be so bad. Some fella introduced himself and told me how much he enjoyed Talkin' Broadway. I thanked him and thought he looked familiar. You remember Disco Tex and His Sex-o-lettes?... none other than Disco Tex himself, Monti Rock III. Heck of a nice guy. (Hey Monti! Let's do lunch. Doot dah, doot dah, doo dah doo!)

If you're heading to Las Vegas, you may want to check out this show at the Flamingo. Susan Anton is back as the guest star now. And those Rockettes...well, they simply rock! As for Paige, we wish her the best of luck and even though Hollywood has her now, to me she'll always be a Broadway Baby!

Tidbits: Join us later this week as a very special guest columnist takes the helm. She's the winner of our Jekyll & Hyde package which we auctioned off for charity on ebay.com Her package was 2 box seats to the show, dinner at Sardi's plus a surprise. After the auction was over I informed Connie of the surprise and that would be that she would be taken backstage to meet Robert Cuccioli in his dressing room. Well, wait til you read about her magic evening on Broadway.

See You Thursday!


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