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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-09-06



Britney Coleman keeps Company
by Jerry Nunn

This article shared 1893 times since Sun Aug 27, 2023
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Company is coming to Chi-town on tour with a fresh take on the classic musical that has already garnered five Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival. The original material in 1970 was nominated for 14 Tony Awards and took home six.

Stephen Sondheim's classic tale covered life and the pursuit of happiness in the world of dating, marriage and divorce surrounding the 35th birthday party of a 35-year-old bachelor named Bobby. In 2018, Bobby became Bobbie with a gender swap presented to the West End public and starred Rosalie Craig and Patti LuPone.

Performer Britney Coleman is leading the North American tour after understudying Bobbie in New York. Other roles from the University of Michigan musical theatre graduate include Lucille in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, where she opened the first national tour, and Heather in Sunset Boulevard.

From singing with Pride choirs to being Barbara in Beetlejuice, Coleman displays a range that is pitch-perfect—and makes her one to watch in the years ahead.

This talented songstress met up backstage at the Broadway In Chicago Summer Concert in Millennium Park to discuss her career and upcoming projects.

Windy City Times: Hi, Britney. You are from Michigan?

Britney Coleman: Yes, Ann Arbor.

WCT: That is where you studied in college?

BC: Yes, I received my bachelor's degree in fine arts and musical theater there.

WCT: Did that lead to auditioning in New York?

BC: Yes, The University of Michigan has a program where there is a senior showcase at the end of the year. I graduated and started my journey to New York right after!

WCT: What was your first gig?

BC: I did a show in Brooklyn in the Dumbo neighborhood at the old St. Ann's Warehouse, before they tore it down and built a beautiful new complex. It was called Stop the Virgens by Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It was wild, and I haven't done anything like it since!

WCT: I didn't know Karen O. ever made a musical. I saw her last year at Riot Fest, and she rocks!

BC: It was from an album she wrote that was turned into a rock opera. It was me and seven other girls onstage with 50 girls in the audience as a chorus. There were amazing costumes and it was crazy.

WCT: That's a really impressive first job. Do you have a favorite musical instrument that you play?

BC: I studied violin classically for eight years. I have used that in a couple of shows but not anything lately. I really miss it.

WCT: I read this is not your first time singing Broadway tunes in a park.

BC: I did Broadway in Bryant Park for Tootsie. I was just at the Cadillac Palace Theatre with Tootsie and now I will return with Company. It is really familiar to me and will be a homecoming.

WCT: Do you have a favorite musical overall?

BC: Anything that Adam Guettel has written is a favorite. I didn't get to see Light in the Piazza at New York City Center Encores! and I am so sad. I would have loved that show.

WCT: Talk about the musical version of Beetlejuice.

BC: I am finishing out my last week there next week. I fly out right after this appearance. I will run out of here after singing to catch a car to get to the airport and make my show tomorrow. As of next Sunday, I will be done. This is after being on the road for almost 10 months with Beetlejuice.

WCT: That sounds like an emotional goodbye for that show.

BC: Yes, it has been a time to reflect. That show is awesome to tour with. Beetlejuice has such a strong and crazy fanbase. This is the right time for young adults to see this show.

WCT: Their parents must want to come with them too.

BC: Yes, there are many fans of the movie that don't know the musical or fans of the musical that haven't seen the movie. We have a lot of mixed audiences that are fun. It is doing really well.

WCT: While you are touring with Company will Beetlejuice be around also?

BC: Yes, both shows will be in Chicago the very first week of November. Beetlejuice is at the Auditorium Theatre starting on November 7 and Company ends on November 12 at Cadillac Palace Theatre.

WCT: How long have you been involved with Company?

BC: I was with the Broadway version pre-pandemic in the fall of 2019. That was the beginning of my journey with the show. They brought me in because they lost someone for the role of Susan then they gave me every role except for Susan. I covered Bobbie, Jenny, Sarah and Bobbie's double in New York.

WCT: Has the touring version started rehearsing yet?

BC: No, our rehearsals begin in a couple of weeks.

WCT: The role of Bobbie was played by men in the past?

BC: Yes, it was written for a man. One of the most fascinating things about this revival is that very little was changed in the script. We changed some pronouns and updated some of the New York references because it is very much a love letter to New York City, but other than that it is almost entirely intact and still works.

It is more relevant today than ever and really special. I am very excited for the country to see it and I am curious as to how they will respond.

WCT: Are there LGBTQ+ cast members in Company?

BC: Yes. We have some serious powerhouses in this show!

WCT: Do you have a favorite Stephen Sondheim song from Company?

BC: It is pouring right now here in the park and that reminds me that "Marry Me a Little" used to have rain in the show for about three months before it started tearing up the stage at the Jacobs Theatre. I love that number so much.

WCT: What's a good Patti LuPone story?

BC: [laughs] We all have them! There were a couple of nights where we had to hold the show for some tech stuff on the stage. The cast would take turns entertaining people in front of the curtain. It was usually Greg Hildreth and Christopher Fitzgerald who had to be professional clowns onstage, but one time Patti came out and sang for the audience. It was so nice.

Patti came from the West End production as Joanne. I watched her sing "The Ladies Who Lunch" and she never got up from the chair. This woman was sitting there in a mink fur jacket with a full martini glass and singing this powerful song. She's incredible!

WCT: Describe your experiences with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus as well as The Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus

BC: That was part of their spring concert gala and we pulled some songs from Andrew Lippa's Unbreakable. It was a beautiful recording with them. We had prominent LGBTQ+ people from each decade represented and Andrew Lippa wrote a song for each of them. There was the chorus along with four soloists taking turns and passing the baton. That was a really special highlight of my career for sure.

WCT: How did you become involved with these choruses in the first place?

BC: Andrew Lippa made a phone call and I jumped to do it. I was doing a show with Carolee Carmello that was featured in The New York Times at the New York City Center Encores! that Andrew saw me in. He is also a University of Michigan alumni like I am and just called me out of the blue. He thought I would be good with the group.

WCT: Shouldn't it be called an LGBTQ+ chorus rather than a "gay men's chorus" to be more inclusive?

BC: Yes and the choruses I have been involved with are entirely that, not only gay men, but much more. I get emotional when thinking about that. I miss singing with choirs like I did when I was growing up. Both of those choruses just adopted me with open arms into their families. It was great!

WCT: Solo singing was hard for me but when singing in choirs I felt protected and safe growing up.

BC: It is so much more than singing too. It really is a family.

WCT: Any plans for life after Company?

BC: I plan on not going on tour for a very long time. By the end of Company I will have toured with two different shows for two years. I will need to sit down for a minute!

WCT: What is one thing in your career that you would still like to accomplish?

BC: Being back in Chicago reminds me of all the work we put in for the out-of-town Tootsie trial run when we were changing so many things all the time. It was really building something from scratch and putting it together. I would love to try another brand-new show like that!

Catch Coleman in Company at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 West Randolph Street, from October 31-November 12, 2023. Look for tickets for the Sondheim and George Furth hit musical currently on sale at .

Follow for more from this phenomenal vocalist.

This article shared 1893 times since Sun Aug 27, 2023
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