Producing partners and (real-life spouses) Tom and Michael D’Angora are the masterminds behind the audience favorites NEWSical The Musical, A Broadway Diva Christmas, Icons and Naked Boys Singing. This summer, as Naked Boys expanded again from Theatre Row to Provincetown’s Crown & Anchor, NEWSical celebrated a landmark 1,000 performance at off-Broadway’s Kirk Theatre on June 3. Tom D'Angora agreed pen an essay for Broadway.com on how he and Michael have kept NEWSical thriving by attracting celebrity headliners—and their dream for the show's next 1,000 performances.
It’s always a challenge to attract new audiences to a long-running show. As NEWSical was approaching its second anniversary, we had done three new editions, and we felt it was time to change things up and take the show in a new and exciting direction. We knew that rotating celebrities had become popular in other shows, but we wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before—so we came up with the idea of having the show rewritten and tailored to each guest star.
When it came time to start casting and revamping the show for celebs, Hollywood gossip blogger Perez Hilton was an absolute no-brainer. We've been huge fans of his blog for years, and he has always been supportive of the theater community. We reached out to him, and it turned out to be a perfect fit. Having him in the show was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
After Perez's successful run, we wanted to keep things going. We pitched Andrea McArdle with the idea of joining the NEWSical cast while she was without electricity after Hurricane Sandy. Annie’s return to Broadway had her on our minds (and iPods). We sent her clips of the show, and she graciously decided to do it! Listening to Andrea sing our songs with her iconic voice was beyond thrilling. She was absolutely hysterical in the show and got to show a side people don't see very often, which was a delight not only for us, but for our audiences. Having her in the show paired with the opening of the revival of Annie was a real marketing coup.
With Cheri Oteri, we wanted a Saturday Night Live alum on the roster and we really wanted Cheri to be the one. We think her SNL sketches are among the best in that show’s long and wonderful history. Our entire company was overjoyed when Cheri signed on, and even more thrilled that she was such a treat to work with. It was a dream come true for the cast and crew. Carson Kressley was the first special guest who actually saw the show before doing it. He had come to Perez Hilton's opening night, we talked at the after-party, and the rest is history!
Celebrity casting has been the biggest investment of our theatrical careers, but it has paid off tenfold. As far as branding the show, it’s a new world for us. A year ago, anytime we mentioned NEWSical, it was always followed by “No, not Newsies, that’s the Disney show.” Now we only need to correct people occasionally.
Of course, we still have a giant wish list as far as casting goes. We would sell our kidneys if Patti LuPone would consider guest starring in our show! We both worship her. We are dying for Broadway vet Robin Strasser from One Life to Live to do the show. We’ve always thought that Emmy Award winner Jackee is a comic genius—and she sings—so that is definitely an avenue we would like to explore. We would also love to attract a star who is associated with a great charity so we could give back a little of the good luck we have enjoyed. We’re lifelong Fran Drescher fans, so it would be phenomenal if we could convince her to join the show and raise a ton of money for cancer awareness and research. We’d also like to see Fran as Hillary Clinton for our own personal amusement!
The possibilities are endless, and we look forward to a summer of fun for NEWSical The Musical!