B.S.M.: Oh, I'd have to say Mama Rose.
C.D'A.: Well, she is a virile female character.
B.S.M.: Oh yeah, I mean "Rose's Turn" is a fantastic song. I think Gypsy is one of the most perfect musicals ever.
C.D'A.: What was your favourite Broadway flop?
B.S.M.: I've seen a few but I've gotta say Carrie.
C.D'A.: Oh, hello... love it.
B.S.M.: Oh yeah, Betty Buckley was incredible as always. I loved her in Triumph of Love... ah, her voice... her presence, she's a great artist. I also saw Shogun, The Musical; it had a great opening number and some wonderfully artful touches.
C.D'A.: What gives you strength when things aren't going so well?
B.S.M.: (hesitating) That's an interesting question. It's funny because things seem to be going so well for me. Mostly it's my frame of mind, there have been lots of times when things aren't going well but I don't dwell on that... you know, you move on. I know that hey, today may suck but tomorrow will be better.
C.D'A.: Were there any roles you regret not having taken?
B.S.M.: No, I'm such an acting whore... I'll take them all... though I've taken some that I wished I hadn't.
C.D'A.: Which back stage visitor were you most impressed by?
B.S.M.: Boy, there have been a few! Coretta Scott King is certainly at the top of the list. We talked for quite a while, then an informal receiving line formed in my dressing room. She greeted everybody with such grace... really a true lady. I know the show must have been quite painful for her to watch with all of the parallels. Teddy Kennedy came by the next day. Other favorites have been Lauren Bacall, Jessye Norman, Gary Oldman, Candace Bergen, Jeffrey Katzenberg... it goes on.
One of the most incredible things about doing this show has been the seemingly never ending parade of incredible people that come to visit me! Here are people I have admired for years, and now they are coming backstage to me and saying the most incredible, emotional, complimentary things! I started keeping a guest book, and boy am I glad I did... other than Mrs. King, the next most terrific was Sidney Poitier... and he gave me the greatest compliment I think I will ever receive... however, I can't tell the story without embarrassment, so if you want the scoop you'll have to ask my brother, John.
Oh, and I met President Clinton and the First Lady... Audra and I did "Wheels of a Dream" at this year's Kennedy Center Honors... of course I didn't meet them at the theater, I met them at their house. And I must say, they have a lovely house.
C.D'A.: So I hear... what scares you more, Anthrax, the biological agent, or Anthrax, the rock group?
B.S.M.: (laughing) I think they were an acid rock group weren't they? Oh, I guess I'd have to choose the biological agent. Anthrax, I don't think I've heard any of their songs.
C.D'A.: Be grateful... who do you feel has made the strongest contribution to Broadway as far as choreography?
B.S.M.: Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins. I think Fosse more than anyone because of his distinguished style. That pelvis tilting out just a bit, that heel and flexed food turned in a bit. Graciela Daniele is a brilliant choreographer as well.
Speaking of which, I have to say that I can't believe some of the things I've read lately... things like, "Graciela Daniele is credited for musical staging, whatever that is." "Whatever that is?" It means that if there's a musical number, she staged it... and in Ragtime that's a pretty big chunk of the show. Her work is so natural and organic. "Sarah Brown Eyes" is such a simple number that most people wouldn't even say "that's choreographed." The baseball number... so creative and funny... the opening... one of the best opening numbers ever created... now, there's a number about 'tribes'! Her choreography threads the music and drama together seamlessly. I think that's one of the things that defines great art... that seamless, Zen-like combination of disciplines.
C.D'A.: What is your favorite number that you perform in Ragtime?
B.S.M.: Probably "Sarah Brown Eyes." It's so simple and pure.
C.D'A.: What do you think of The Lion King?
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