Oh, what a world it seems we live in!
Some of the brightest stars from the New York theater scene will come together next month for one night only to celebrate the music of Grammy-nominated singer Rufus Wainwright, whom Elton John once called “the greatest songwriter on the planet.”
“Touring and recording for three years with Rufus Wainwright was one of the greatest artistic experiences of my career,” says 54 Sings Rufus Wainwright musical director Jason Hart, Wainwright’s former keyboard player. “In the past eight years I’ve been working very closely with Duncan Sheik on his theatrical endeavors, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a number of Broadway’s finest artists. I’ve been struck by how many of them are great admirers of Rufus Wainwright, and that’s how the idea to do this special tribute concert was born.”
Held at Feinstein’s/54 Below, the Manhattan supper club located beneath the legendary Studio 54, the event will feature Wainwright songs sung by Broadway performers who are big fans of the gay trailblazer, including bisexual Spring Awakening alum Andy Mientus and gay Hello, Dolly! breakout Taylor Trensch, who takes over the lead in Dear Evan Hansen in January.
Directed by Thomas Caruso, the lineup also includes Tony winner Alice Ripley (Next to Normal), Dave Thomas Brown (American Psycho), Wesley Taylor (Rock of Ages), Kacie Sheik (Hair), Clarke Thorell (Titanic), Nicholas Barasch (She Loves Me), Krystina Alabado (American Idiot) and Gerard Canonico (Groundhog Day).
Ben Rimalower, known for his candid solo shows Patti Issues and Bad With Money, will host the tribute.
“As a total theater queen, it’s rare that I connect so deeply with a non-showtune,” Rimalower tells NewNowNext. “Just as I was moving to New York in the late ’90s, Rufus was coming to national attention as one of the first always out pop stars—he was never in the closet. I immediately connected with his songs about being young, gay, and free—if full of ennui.”
Wainwright’s latest album, Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets, was released last year. His second opera, about Roman Emperor Hadrian, is set to premiere in Toronto next year.
54 Sings Rufus Wainwright will play October 1 at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York.