The Theatre District's swanky new nightclub 54 Below is hosting a slew of Broadway's hottest stars this summer, from two-time Tony winner Patti LuPone to downtown diva Mx. Justin Vivian Bond. Broadway.com decided to ask these talented vocalists to share a few musical memories and tell fans about the singers who molded them into the performers they are today. First up is Tony nominee Brian d’Arcy James, who will take the stage at 54 Below June 26 through June 30. The Broadway favorite shared his love of Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Alanis Morissette and more.
What record/album was your favorite growing up?
I think it would be a tie between Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life and Elton John's Rock of the Westies.
What concert most influenced you as a performer?
It would have to be my first concert, which was Billy Joel's Innocent Man [tour]. I'd never been to an arena concert, and the combination of the setting and the singer were pretty powerful.
What is your go-to audition song?
Well, I used to sing “Ain't Misbehavin'” which sometimes worked, sometimes flopped, but I loved singing it. Then for a while during the early days, when it made sense, I would sing “I Must Be in Love” from Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?
What song are you most excited to perform in your show?
I’m doing a couple of originals, so that's always exciting. But in terms of covers, I'm eager to do a cool spin on the Genesis song “That's All.” And because I'm crazy about the song, I'm looking forward to doing Adele's “I'll Be Waiting.”
What musical theater performer from the past do you wish you can collaborate with?
To sing with David Carroll, to act with Jason Robards, to be produced by Joe Papp, to be choreographed by Jerome Robbins, to be directed by Michael Bennett.
What album was the soundtrack to your 20s?
Great question. Well, Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill got a lot of air play in my apartment. That, along with a band called Toy Matinee, with one of my favorites, Kevin Gilbert. I have to list so many more, I just have to: Harbor Lights by Bruce Hornsby; Babylon and On by Squeeze; Mighty Like a Rose by Elvis Costello; Fat City by Shawn Colvin; Oranges and Lemons by XTC; Ingenue by k.d. lang; Tuesday Night Music Club by Sheryl Crow; Back in the High Life by Steve Winwood and Set by Youssou N'Dour.
What’s the best hidden gem in on your iPod?
Orson's “I Can't Even Dance”
What song most makes you smile?
Stevie Wonder's “Sir Duke ”
When this song plays, I can’t help but dance:
“I Wish” by Stevie Wonder
Check out Brian d'Arcy James at 54 Below June 26 - June 30.