Annaleigh Ashford. Wow, is there anyone who doesn’t love her? How could there be? Of course, she is talented. She is a Tony-winner (You Can’t Take It With You), but beyond that, her personality is like a friendly embrace. Witness the musical theater roles she has conquered including Glinda in Wicked and Margot in Legally Blonde. Couple Annaleigh with Music Director/Arranger/Orchestrator, Will Van Dyke (Pretty Woman), and what do you have? Live From Lincoln Center! “Un-Block The Music” caught up with these two stars as the show is about to air this Friday night, May 17 on PBS.
It’s not the first time this duo has worked together. Will jokingly says, “We met as infant children, on the first National Tour or Wicked! We were both fresh out of college. Annaleigh then left to do Legally Blonde and we met up again in the off–Broadway revival of Rent which lead to Kinky Boots.” Working together on a Cabaret is a natural for the two friends. Will says, “whenever we have put together a show, it has been a throwback to real Cabaret.” If the term Cabaret is new to you, let “Un-Block The Music” explain. It’s a more personalized concert, performed in a nightclub type atmosphere. It’s relaxed and usually the audience is sitting at tables eating and drinking. If you want to read about the history of Cabaret, it’s really a fascinating look at American entertainment. Check out https://www.musicals101.com/cabaret3.htm
In the meantime, Annaleigh says the success of television shows like Glee and movies such as The Greatest Showman have shown the entertainment industry how much this new generation, and the world in general, is craving music in their storytelling. During the Lincoln Center Cabaret, “we do a lot of live storytelling and I offer a lot of elements of standup comedy which is common to the original form of Cabaret which I happen to love,” Annaleigh says.
Live From Lincoln Center offers an opportunity for kids of all ages across the country to get a peek into this other dimension of musical theater on Broadway, Annaleigh explains. As the daughter of an elementary school teacher, Annaleigh knows how teachers struggle to offer a well-rounded curriculum which includes music. She says, this is not a criticism, it’s a reality. Lincoln Center is doing a lot more of these Cabarets with its series Stars in Concert. “These shows are such an important piece of documentation, not only for the musical theater community, but they are an important thread for the ever-growing love of this genre in the new generation,” Annaleigh says.
“Un-Block The Music” has set the DVR. This show promises to be worth more than one view! Check your local listings for showtimes. Comment on this story after you watch!
And, if you want to find out more about Will Van Dyke, check out “Un-Block The Music’s” interview: