The theater 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 Justin Vivian Bond. Broadway.com is asking these talented vocalists to share a few musical memories and tell fans about the music that molded them into the performers they are today. Next up is groundbreaking actress, singer and comedian Lea DeLaria. The first openly gay comic to break the late-night talk-show barrier in 1993, DeLaria has appeared on Broadway in The Rocky Horror Show and On the Town, and now she stars in Last Butch Standing: Chronicles of an Old School Butch in a Post-Ellen, Modern Society at 54 Below on August 6. Below DeLaria shares her eclectic taste in music, including Bette Midler, show tunes, jazz and rock.
What record/album was your favorite growing up?
Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall
What concert most influenced you as a performer?
Bette Midler’s “Clams on the Half Shell Revue”
What is your go-to audition song?
Whatever song they ask me to sing. I am past the point where I have to bring a song. I have always wanted to do “Cell Block Tango,” doing six different characters. I wonder how many they would let me get through…
What song are you most excited to perform in your show?
“I Can Cook Too” [from On the Town]: It’s been a long time since I have done that on stage in NYC, and people just love it.
What musical theater track is the most played on your iPod?
That’s hard. Spring Awakening or Rent, I guess. Although I do love to listen to older shows like the original cast recording to Gypsy or I Love My Wife. It’s about time for a revival of I Love My Wife with me playing the mover.
If you could invite any performer onstage for a duet at 54 Below, who would it be?
Living? Dianne Reeves. Dead? Betty Carter.
What musical theater performer from the past do you wish you can collaborate with?
Betty Hutton…she was hilarious.
What album was the soundtrack to your 20s?
The Clash's London Calling.
What’s your favorite love song?
John Coltrane playing “Say It (Over and Over Again)”; in fact, the entire John Coltrane Ballads album.
What song makes you feel sexy?
“Chic C’est La Vie” by the Countess LuAnn.
What is your favorite workout track?
Um…Have you seen me?
What’s the best hidden gem in on your iPod?
Jonathan and Darlene Edwards doing “A Train”…although their version of “Staying Alive” is also pretty wonderful.
Favorite break-up song?
Harry Nilsson’s “You’re Breaking My Heart”
What song most makes you smile?
The De John Sisters’ “He Loves Me”
When this song plays, I can’t help but dance:
“Never Say Never - Sunset Girls Must be Discreet (I Might Like You Better If We Slept Together)” by Romeo Void.
Check out Lea DeLaria in Last Butch Standing: Chronicles of an Old School Butch in a Post-Ellen, Modern Society at 54 Below on August 6.