Random Idle Speculation

Talk about Boublil and Schonberg's stage adaptation here.
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Schmerg_The_Impaler
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Postby Schmerg_The_Impaler » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:56 am

Hey, I just bought the "Side Show" album, and Hugh sounds so ADORABLE on it! It definitely showcased his super-cheesy side-- I kept laughing at his hyperactiveness. :D The cast is fantastic in general, but I think Hugh has the most energy and enthusiasm of anyone on there.
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Postby MllePaula » Fri Jan 09, 2009 5:26 pm

I was going to reply to your thread about Side Show over at BWW, but I've been having a little trouble staying logged in over there.

I absolutely *love* that recording. One of my most listened to albums, I think.

I was totally unfamiliar with Side Show before I met Hugh. I guess I just wasn't paying attention when it opened on Broadway and it wasn't well-promoted.

Well, a few weeks after I got to know Hugh, we were standing at the Majestic stage door and chatting before a matinee. Hugh had arrived early, it was a sunny day, he was in a very cheerful and VERY talkative mood. When he showed up, I felt a bit awkward because I'd already been to the show twice that week. So, I was like, "Um...hi again." Hugh was more like, "OMG HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!"

So, we're standing there and chatting...and people are looking at us funny because he sort of looked like a wino (he didn't have hot water in his apartment for a few days and spent about 15 minutes apologizing for being sweaty and unshaven).

Then he says, "Did you see Side Show?" I told him, no, I hadn't even heard of it until I started looking at his list of credits...but that I'd just gotten the cast album.

At this point, he got really hyper and told me to, um, look for a *coughprivaterecordingcough*

Then he very excitedly asked me if he'd ever told me about his audition for it. Well, I pointed out that since I'd only known him about a month and a half and had only spoken to him on five or six occasions, he hadn't told me about his audition yet.

He then launched into this long story about how he was very down after his divorce. He didn't really want to work or audition. He did a few concerts here and there, but he just wanted to chill. His agent wisely told him he needed to get back to work and sent him off to audition for a brand new role in a brand new show that his friend Alice Ripley had just been cast in.

Hugh didn't want to. Really didn't want to. He was feeling sullen and rebellious and decided he'd sabotage himself to prove to his agents that he DID NOT WANT TO audition.

So, he didn't shave or shower. Didn't comb his hair. Wore ragged jeans and old red Converse sneakers and a shirt that's bad even by his questionable standards. I've seen the shirt. It's that bad.

He went to the audition poorly prepared. He sang.

He got the part.

It was pretty much the same story he tells in the Chatterbox interview clip on youtube...only much, much more animated and downright hyper.

I remember when he got to point in the story where he found out who was cast as his rival, Jake. Hugh had the biggest grin I'd ever seen and said, "AND OMG IT WAS NORM!!!!"

I hadn't actually heard of Norm Lewis at the time, but Hugh was rambling on and on about how Norm has been his best friend for ages and is like a brother to him.

And then he spent a long time rambling about how much he loved Side Show - how much he loved the whole cast and creative team, how they all bonded and worked so well together, how he and Alice would venture out to Times Square to BEG people to come see their show when ticket sales weren't good due to a serious lack of PR, how he still keeps in touch with Alice and Emily and what good memories everyone has on that whole experience.

He basically talked nonstop until some tourist interrupted us - not realizing he was the lead in Phantom - to ask if we were waiting in line for the Avenue Q lottery.

One thing I've learned since that conversation in 2005...Hugh LOVES Side Show and, if he starts talking about it, you can't shut him up. Not that I'd want to shut him up...
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Postby Schmerg_The_Impaler » Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:50 pm

Awww, what an adorable story! And I was laughing at the rivalry between Jake and Buddy when I listened to the album, because, dude it's Hugh Panaro and Norm Lewis!

I remember at ArtSpeak, there was that question saying, "In which show did Hugh play the title role?" and he said, "It was Side Show. I played... the side..." I can't hear the name of the show without thinking of that.

He should get Norm Lewis to come do ArtSpeak sometime... *cough*... (I have, erm, kind of a huge crush on Mr. Lewis...)
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Postby MllePaula » Fri Mar 20, 2009 4:26 pm

Schmerg_The_Impaler wrote:I remember at ArtSpeak, there was that question saying, "In which show did Hugh play the title role?" and he said, "It was Side Show. I played... the side..." I can't hear the name of the show without thinking of that.


That reminds me of something he said at Phantom one night. This was four years ago when I'd just launched his site. And I do mean just launched it because it was probably the night I brought him a print-out of the brand new site so he could see what it looked like without *gasp* going on-line.

(My, how times change...over the weekend, he did a show at the Kennedy Center and he was complaining to Jan and her husband that the internet was broken at his hotel. One, he probably broke it himself. Or, two, the internet died of terror before he got there, knowing how technologically clueless he is. Three, why did he care? It's not like he was going to use it.)

Anyhow, my friends and I had stayed after the show and talked to him for a looooong time in the stage door alley. We actually snubbed Jeff Goldblum that night. He'd been to the show, walked by us in the alley, said hi, and we were like *shrug*

So, we left the alley with Hugh and there were a lot of fans waiting for him at the street barricade. He started signing stuff and, because I was standing right next to him, people figured I was with the show. Flattering, but totally wrong. I can't sing a single note properly. Someone who had just handed her Playbill to Hugh asked me, "And who do you play?" Before I could answer myself, Hugh ever so cheerfully informed the lady, "She...um....understudies the chandelier!"

Well, it could've been worse. He could've said I understudy Piangi's fat suit, I suppose.

He should get Norm Lewis to come do ArtSpeak sometime...


That would probably be a lot of fun.

*cough*... (I have, erm, kind of a huge crush on Mr. Lewis...)


No one's noticed. :lol:

Anyhow, this event was sort of like Artspeak, just smaller. It's a sweet little article and I feel good about it because I helped put the organizers at the conservatory up with Hugh.

http://www.imaginationstage.org/insider ... isits.html
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Postby lesmisloony » Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:09 pm

Paula, you have made me LOVE Hugh Panaro.
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Postby Schmerg_The_Impaler » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:16 pm

Seriously, me too. I didn't even know who he was when I first joined Abaisse. All of your posts made me curious, and I had to look him up. Now he's one of my favorite performers.

Hugh ever so cheerfully informed the lady, "She...um....understudies the chandelier!"

So, uh, I actually laughed out loud at this...
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Postby Frédéric Dumont » Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:55 am

Schmerg_The_Impaler wrote:
Hugh ever so cheerfully informed the lady, "She...um....understudies the chandelier!"

So, uh, I actually laughed out loud at this...


And I just snickered at it. And at the fat suit. :)
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Postby lesmisloony » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:04 pm

Paula, last night I watched the video of Lestat and Hugh was amazing. That was the most Hugh-exposure I've ever had and I really loved him A lot.
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Postby Schmerg_The_Impaler » Sat Mar 28, 2009 1:54 am

I just bought the version of "Tonight" from West Side Story with Hugh and Kristin Chenoweth, and I just had an epiphany-- if a younger Michael Crawford had a good twenty years of intense vocal training, he might sound like Hugh. There's something slightly similar about their voices, except that MC's is more breathy and untrained sounding. Maybe that's why Hugh Panaro was such a great Phantom!
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Postby MllePaula » Fri Oct 30, 2009 1:33 am

Schmerg_The_Impaler wrote:I just bought the version of "Tonight" from West Side Story with Hugh and Kristin Chenoweth, and I just had an epiphany-- if a younger Michael Crawford had a good twenty years of intense vocal training, he might sound like Hugh. There's something slightly similar about their voices, except that MC's is more breathy and untrained sounding. Maybe that's why Hugh Panaro was such a great Phantom!


I have very mixed feelings about this recording. Though I'll admit that my view is colored, in part, by my dealings with the label at the time it was recorded and released.

I was terribly excited when I heard about the recording session for this about five or six months before it was released. I know Hugh always wanted to play Tony in West Side Story and I know people were (and still are) anxious for his own album. So I was glad we'd have this recording to look forward to.

But I found the actual release to be a little disappointing. Not because of Hugh. He sounds as gorgeous as ever and Kristin (his old LA roomie for a time) sounds lovely. But the quality of the recording was a let-down. As a few reviewers pointed out, the orchestra sounds a little "canned." My biggest complaint was the mixing. Hugh is almost drowned out by Kristin at times...and, given how powerful his voice is...that's a major problem. I almost feel like he sounds like background vocals and, since this is supposed to be a duet, that bothers the heck out of me. It's a big contrast to the recording of "If We Were In Love" that was released around the same time. That was recorded by a much smaller label and, while I'm not a fan of Steve Brinberg as a Barbra Streisand impersonator, I love the song itself and both voices hold their own. In fact, despite disliking the faux (or the real one, for that matter) Barbra, it's one of my favorite studio recordings of Hugh.

And, as I said, dealing with the label's PR person was NOT a nice experience. I had to deal with them for about a year and, well, of all the PR people I've communicated with over the past four years, this was one of the two worst.

What really bugged me was the fact that they offered us some video footage of Hugh and Kristin in the studio for the site. I know everyone would have LOVED that and it would have been an excellent little tool to promote the single and the album. They offered us the exclusive video about three months before the release, then less than a week before the release they said the video "wasn't ready yet." A week after the release, it still wasn't ready. Needless to say, it never happened.

When Hugh e-mailed me and told me that I wouldn't have to waste my time dealing with them because he was getting out of his contract to record his own album with them, I was downright overjoyed.

OK...end rant.
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lesmisloony wrote:Paula, last night I watched the video of Lestat and Hugh was amazing. That was the most Hugh-exposure I've ever had and I really loved him A lot.


I'm always glad when someone says something good about Lestat. For all of its troubles, I have so many good memories associated with that show and, while I know that even Hugh has little good to say about it now, he and everyone else in that cast put a lot of heart and soul into trying to make it work.

I was joking to a friend - a wonderful lady I met through Lestat - that I'd like to write a book about Lestat. I have a title in mind...

"It Sucks To Be A Vampire On Broadway"

:roll:

Well, Hugh will be returning to The Walnut...actually, he's already in rehearsals...for Oliver!.

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The wigs look way better than his convict one from last year!
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Postby lesmisloony » Fri Oct 30, 2009 3:12 am

Ooh exciting! I hope and assume you'll keep us updated!

And you may have posted it somewhere else, but... your new avatar? Lol.

As for Lestat, I'm a conflicted fan of the books who has some hatred for Anne Rice but a burning love for her characters and her writing style. I thought Hugh was genius as Lestat but I really violently loathed Drew's Armand. I also don't love most of the music in the show. Or what they did to Marius. But I still kind of like it in a... in a cringe-y way. Hugh was wonderful.
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Postby MllePaula » Fri Oct 30, 2009 3:34 am

lesmisloony wrote:Ooh exciting! I hope and assume you'll keep us updated!

And you may have posted it somewhere else, but... your new avatar? Lol.

As for Lestat, I'm a conflicted fan of the books who has some hatred for Anne Rice but a burning love for her characters and her writing style. I thought Hugh was genius as Lestat but I really violently loathed Drew's Armand. I also don't love most of the music in the show. Or what they did to Marius. But I still kind of like it in a... in a cringe-y way. Hugh was wonderful.


I'll definitely keep you posted about Oliver!. I wasn't really expecting this one, but I knew he wanted to do a show either in NYC or his hometown...so, even though it was unexpected, it's also not surprising.

My new av...ha, that's Hugh around 17 in "My Fair Lady." He used to do a lot of dinner theatre in high school and college. I just got a batch of pictures from the daughter of the original owner of the Huntingdon Valley Dinner Theatre.

I went into Lestat having read the first two books much earlier and, while I liked them a great deal, I wasn't one of the really hardcore fans. So I was prepared to be flexible in terms of changes to characters and cast. Gabrielle, for example, wasn't how I'd personally imagined her, but I love Carolee and she was powerful. I thought the changes to Marius were so silly that they could have just cut him entirely rather than make him so random and ineffective. As for Armand...even before the chaos and unpleasantness started with certain very active fans...I didn't really like Drew in the role at all. I never realized just how much I disliked him as Armand until the end of the run when Sean McLaughlin (wish I could see him as Raoul with the Phantom tour) understudied for him while he covered the title role when Hugh was out sick. Now, it was very obvious that Sean had very little preparation to take over the role on short notice a day before closing and, much of the time, he just did the best he could to copy Drew...but I definitely preferred his voice. Then, a few months later, I was listening to a recording of the early SF preview and caught myself thinking, "Why do I actually LIKE Drew/Armand better right now?" Then I checked the file and it turned out it was Jack Noseworthy as Armand right before he was fired and replaced by Drew.

I didn't say much at the time because there was already too much friction with the problem fans - but I saw Drew cover the title role twice during the final weekend on account of Hugh's bronchitis and, well, I really didn't like him. I'd bought my tickets for both Saturday shows before Hugh called out sick and, while I wasn't so fond of Drew as Armand, I was still curious to see how he'd be as Lestat...mainly because I'm always interested in understudies. I found the matinee to be pretty painful...though I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt because I was very tired and stressed (had to wake up at four a.m. to get the bus, my hotel turned out to be a disgusting rat-trap, and my laptop died right after I checked in). Still, I would have sold...or even given away my tickets to the night show rather than sit through Drew-as-Lestat a second time in one day. I did see the show, though, mainly to avoid any drama.
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Postby MllePaula » Sun Nov 22, 2009 8:50 pm

I normally hate to double-post, but this is something sad and special I have to share.

I've gotten to know a LOT of people since I've been doing Hugh's site. Some of them I've never met in person, but have talked so much that we've become friends. Some of them are people I've met at his shows who've become really good friends beyond things to do with Hugh and his site.

For the past couple of years, I've had an ongoing on-line correspondence with a young woman named Jennifer...first by e-mail, then on FB. She first met Hugh when she was in her teens and he was doing Show Boat on Broadway. Hugh was always very kind to her and, when he was in Phantom, she got engaged...when she and Alex told Hugh, he grinned and cheekily invited himself along on their Disney honeymoon.

Jennifer was just one of the sweetest people you can imagine. I don't think she had a mean bone in her body. And she really loved Hugh. I don't mean in the superficial OMG I HEART HUGH!!! sort of way. I mean the way a very innocent child loves a genuinely good person. He was a great inspiration to her as an aspiring singer and as her health failed.

Jenn had a number of health problems, beginning with juvenile diabetes. In the past year, her health took a turn for the worse. When a kidney transplant failed, her doctors found cancer. Knowing that she might only have about a year to live, Jenn was determined to see Hugh one more time on stage. In August, despite her condition, she traveled from Long Island to Virginia to see him in concert at Wolf Trap and I made sure Hugh knew she was coming so she was able to have a private meeting with him backstage after the show. She would crochet in her spare time and gave him a blanket for his Labradoodle, Soot.

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She was staying in Philadelphia for treatment at the same time Hugh started rehearsals for Oliver! at the Walnut Street Theatre there. The day before Halloween, she stopped by the theatre with her mother and had a chance to talk to him after a costume fitting. She was extremely exhausted from chemo, but really wanted to wish him well and tell him that as an early Orthodox Christmas present, Alex had gotten her a ticket to see the show on January 3. She was looking forward to seeing him as Fagin.

Little things like seeing Hugh at Wolf Trap and looking forward to seeing him again helped give her the strength to deal with her situation. As Alex said the day after she talked to Hugh at the Walnut, "I don't know what it is about this guy, but God bless him, it's something good."

Unfortunately, about two or three days after her last meeting with Hugh, the doctors did a biopsy and found the cancer had spread to her pancreas.

On Opening Night last week, I got a message from Alex by way of a mutual friend. Jenn had passed away late that afternoon. Since she was constantly weak and tired from the chemo, her favorite way to pass the time by watching clips of Hugh on youtube. That's what she and her husband were doing when she passed away.

My friend Jan - who looked after Jenn during the Wolf Trap visit - was covering Opening Night - and got the sad news at intermission. At the party after, she relayed it to Hugh who looked stunned and said, "But I just saw her two weeks ago!!!"

And, after doing one of the usual blogs for the site, he recorded this little video which will be played at Jenn's memorial service.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gO4CZ9_-e3s
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Postby lesmisloony » Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:30 pm

Oh my gosh, that's so hard. It's always the sweetest people who have to go through stuff like that, but what a great thing that she loved Hugh (one of the nicest stars I've ever heard of) to make her life so bright. She's so gorgeous in that picture.
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Postby a_marguerite » Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:10 pm

Oh, no I'm so sorry! D: That must be dreadful... and it's so sweet of Hugh to do that for her. He seems to be such a sweetheart. *hugs* I'm so sorry; Jennifer seems like she was a wonderful person who will be very much missed.


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