If you are a regular reader of this site, you undoubtedly already feel acquainted with Susan Blackwell. The witty co-star of musical cult favorite [title of show] has been Broadway.com's special correspondent for a handful of industry events. Now the talented star has landed her own show on this website: Side by Side by Susan Blackwell, which premiered today. We dished with Blackwell about the exciting new venture, her dream guests and her penchant for licking people. Ready to get side by side with her? Read on!
What are you serving us with Side by Side by Susan Blackwell?
What am I serving you? Don’t throw my words back in my face! [Laughs.] Just teasing! Side by Side by Susan Blackwell is basically just raw wish fulfillment for me. I feel like I won a contest because I get to spend time with people who really excite me. The viewer gets the vicarious thrill of being along for the ride.
So it’s partly like you’re friends and partly like you’re a fan?
Totally. I get to ask them—they don’t have to answer—anything I’ve ever been curious about.
What is the concept exactly?
It’s a fantastical day: There’s a morning segment, an afternoon segment and an evening segment. In each segment, we do an activity with one of my fantastical friends. In the first episode, I have breakfast in bed with Sutton Foster in the morning. Then in the afternoon, I take a carriage ride through Central Park with Jonathan Groff. And then in the evening, I have dinner with Laura Benanti at Hooters. The show is like a friend date with really excellent people.
Who are your dream guests?
This is a really good question. Here we go: Hugh Jackman and his oaky thighs. Paul Rudd would be a wonderful guest. Liev Schreiber would be really fun. I saw the interview with him on Broadway.com, where he coined the word “bonerable” and I thought, “He would be the perfect guest!” David Hyde Pierce, Angie Lansbury… Who else is coming to Broadway?
Denzel Washington. I think you and Denzel could have nice breakfast in bed.
Word. How about Cathy Zeta-Jones? Peanut Chenoweth? People that I just think are great, like Justin Bond. Dame Edna—that’d be a dream. And Danny Radcliffe! I want to just put that in the universe: Daniel Radcliffe! These are the hard-hitting questions, by the way.
Here’s a really hard-hitting question: What’s up with the licking?
I don’t have a good explanation for it. When the muse strikes, I just say yes to it and follow through. I’m not going to lick everybody. I don’t want people to think that if they come on the show that they’re going to get licked or that they’re guaranteed that. I’m not making that promise to anybody.
That’s kind of a relief, especially for potential guests.
I’m not promising that I will lick or not lick anybody. No confirmation or denial. Next question, Senator.
OK, let’s dish. Tell me about your first three guests.
I love all of them so much, I really do. The thing I loved about them is that they were all so game. There was this moment with each of them in their interview where I could tell they completely forgot that the camera was there. I was like “the tingle means it’s working.” I have nothing but good things to say about them. I enjoyed their willingness to be licked—not that they had any choice in the matter.
Tell me about the catchy song at the start of the show. I can’t get it out of my head.
Did it make you want to kill yourself? I just wanted to write something that really captured the concept of the show. I wrote it in about five minutes. There was kind of a sound I was going for that I knew I couldn’t produce myself; my friends have a band called The Mighty Weaklings, and they recorded it. Then my husband engineered it. It’s either extremely catchy or tipping into extremely annoying.
The opening credits are fabulous: What a lineup!
It’s a parade of Broadway stars. I had a vision for these opening credits where I originally wanted to do it on a sit ‘n’ spin. You know that childhood toy? And with each rotation of the sit ‘n’ spin, a new person would be there—like a really, really low rent version of Michael Jackson’s “Black or White” video. We did it on a rotating stool. Everybody was fun and feisty. Shooting it—we did it all in one day—was nutrageous. Just a cavalcade of stars coming in, and the directive was to behave as if they were a 12-year-old girl alone in her bedroom singing into their mirror. I feel like you definitely get that vibe from the opening.
What else is up with Susan Blackwell?
So sweet of you to ask. I’m getting ready to teach a kick-ass workshop at the Vineyard Theatre on January 2. It’s called the "Die Vampire Die" workshop, and it deals with creativity, writing and performance. If you want to rock into 2010 with a boost to your creativity, it’s a really fun way to do that. I am also getting ready to do a new musical, but it’s not been announced yet.
Anything new with the [title of show] family?
Hunter Bell and I are writing a new piece with the [title of show] collaborators. The working title is And Now This Is Happening. I’m excited because I just found out that Hunter and I have been granted a residency at the MacDowell Colony in 2010, and we’re going to be up there and sit in the woods and work on that new show. That’s big. All of the [title of show] people are all doing all sorts of exciting crazy shit, but we’ll find our way back to each other and make something new for the people.
Right now, this show is what’s new for the people?
Yes! It’s pure, whipped fun. It is. It’s like frappéd fun. We take a day full of fun, put it in a blender and then pour it into 10 minutes on Broadway.com. It’s delicious.