Telly Leung won over the hearts of Broadway audiences in musicals ranging from Rent to Pacific Overtures to Godspell, and with talent like his, it didn't take long for Leung to land a recurring role on the TV hit Glee. This year, he also had the honor of originating the starring role in the Broadway-aimed musical Allegiance. Now, with the December 4 release of his debut album I'll Cover You (by Yellow Sound Label), Leung is making the exciting leap to recording artist. The lovable actor/singer is previewing the album with a one-night-only concert aptly titled I'll Cover You at 54 Below on December 2. Below, Leung discusses his show and album, why Jonathan Larson makes him cry and his guilty pleasure with "Gangnam Style."
What record/album was your favorite growing up?
So hard to pick a favorite; it's like trying to pick a favorite child! But, off the top of my head, I'd say Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814! Who doesn't love that album?
What concert most influenced you as a performer?
I remember being blown away by Patti LuPone's two-act concert at the Walter Kerr. It was a limited run, and it was a masterclass in performance and stamina. Not only was she entertaining (and showstopping), but I also learned a lot watching that concert.
What is your go-to audition song?
"Being Alive" (from Company); I sang it for both my Flower Drum Song audition and my audition for Pacific Overtures, and that ended up working well for me.
What song are you most excited to perform in your show?
It's such a luxury to get to perform with a string quartet, and on my upcoming album, we have a string-heavy version of Katy Perry's "Firework." I can't wait to recreate that arrangement with the strings at my upcoming show at 54!
If you can invite any performer onstage for a duet at 54 Below, who would it be?
There are many talented duet partners from my previous shows that are my favorite duet partners (Lindsay Mendez from Godspell, Lea Salonga from Allegiance), but...someone I've never done a duet with? I think it would be Liza [Minnelli].
What musical theater performer from the past do you wish you can collaborate with?
I wish I could have worked with Gwen Verdon on a Fosse show!
What’s your favorite love song?
My favorite love song is actually, "I'll Cover You" (from Rent), which is the title of the album. It's one of the reasons I named the album after that song. Jonathan Larson's music has an amazing way of making you smile and cry at the same time.
What song makes you feel sexy?
Anything Robin Thicke.
What is your favorite workout track?
I love a Whitney Houston remix at the gym!
What’s the best hidden gem in on your iPod?
There's an amazing Canadian jazz singer named Holly Cole. I was first introduced to her in college, and whenever I play her on my iPod speakers, my friends always ask, "who is that?." She's not so well-known, but she's an immense talent. Go download her now! I've included one of her songs ("Cry If You Want To") on the album.
Favorite break-up song?
I have so many. I hate breakups, but I love breakup songs. There's a great Michael McDonald song called "I Can Let Go Now." Another one I love is written by my bud Allan Rich (who also wrote "Run To You" for Whitney Houston) and made popular by Oleta Adams named "I Just Had to Hear Your Voice."
What song most makes you smile?
"Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" by Stevie Wonder. That intro is so silly!
What album was the soundtrack to your 20s?
Anything India.Arie. The 20s was a time of introspection and finding out "who am I?," and I love that India.Arie's music makes you do that.
When this song plays, I can’t help but dance:
So many songs, and I'm almost ashamed to admit this... but it's currently "Gangnam Style." Doesn't that song make everyone do that funny dance!? "Hey, sexy lady!"
Check out Telly Leung's I'll Cover You at 54 Below on December 2. Check out Telly singing "I'll Cover You" live in the video below!