Summer/Fall 1997

Dear Friends,

Hello again! Many interesting things happened since I last wrote to you… the most important being J & H finally arrived on Broadway. All through rehearsal at Radio City Music Hall, I still could not shake the feeling that the rug could be pulled out from under us yet again. It had happened so many times before. But the rug stayed put.

The first preview felt like my Broadway debut and, of course, nothing happens as you plan. Two days before that first show, I started to catch the head and chest infection that was going through the cast. Like a bad dream, I felt it attacking my sinuses and beginning to rob me of my voice… my voice, the reason that I had made it here in the first place. We previewed on a Friday night and I lived through the next four days in a haze of fever and medication. I don’t remember much except for the horror I felt. I kept wondering what I had done that was so terrible to deserve this. Well, life goes on. I got well. Little by little, my voice came back, and I lived with the consolation that I was pretty much guaranteed not to have a cold for opening night.

Previews were exciting and the fans made it something to remember, screaming their lovely lungs out and lining up outside the stage door. We were looking like a hit. Opening night came in a blur of cameras and people pulling me in too many directions at once, asking the same questions over and over again. I hardly saw my family and friends until the next day when I had them over for some real time in our apartment. I felt drained and it was slightly unreal. A 10-year goal had just been completed and it was hard to know what to feel without that big carrot dangling in front of our faces any more.

The reviews hit like a cold splash of water, hardly what we could have wanted and yet not really unexpected. It’s hard to be both a popular and critical success.  But the great box office, audiences and lines outside our theatre are making it feel like we have a hit. If the reviews felt like cold water, the Tony nominations felt like a nice dip in the Antarctic. Surprise? The show not being nominated, I will say only that I don’t believe it was right. Apparently many other people didn’t think it was right either and public and private support has flooded the show. Far from being hurt, business has gone even higher. We are back to being the sympathetic underdog that we were meant to be if we had come to Broadway years ago as planned. We are all feeling very confident that we have a hit show and will be running on Broadway long after many other shows have closed. Popularity and people keep shows running and J & H has always had that.

Speaking of things not happening as you plan, I have now appeared on two huge talk shows, ROSIE and LETTERMAN. Last minute cancellations on both shows put me on weeks before my scheduled time. I found out on the days I actually taped the shows. Madhouse! Sometimes I think I’ve just dreamed the whole thing. Rosie was a delight, very warm and friendly, and my appearance broke the switchboard when people started calling in before I finished the final note. Apparently they had never had so many calls for a guest before. Surprising! I thought I was about 50%, but I guess most of the country had nothing to compare my performance to. Thank God!

Letterman’s studio is about 45 degrees on purpose, and I was wearing a tiny dress. I was shaking from cold and nerves, but having Grover Washington, Jr. playing behind me was a thrill. Now there is a truly nice man. I had just sung on the same stage where the Beatles made their American debut. I had imagined taping the Letterman Show for years and it all happened in the blink of an eye.

My new album, IT’S TIME, is doing great business and we are all thrilled because we worked so hard on it. Atlantic Records is giving me fantastic support, and by the time you get this I will have shot the video for the first single, which is “Something To Believe In.”

Life is really busy right now. Doing a Broadway show would be more than enough. With the new album out as well, I am doing double duty with PR on both J & H and Atlantic Records. It often means that I don’t even get my one day off. Last Monday, I worked on the J & H cast album, taped the Letterman Show, and sang at two different benefits that evening. Some day off! I’m not complaining… I’m just a bit tired! It doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon. There are more talk shows coming up… The Tonight Show, Regis & Kathie Lee, and the RuPaul Show on VH1. Also we are getting ready to do my first concert here in New York. It will be at the Supper Club in mid-June with a big band. I’m really looking forward to that because the musician in me is dying to sing something different, to do my own show again. So life, though almost too busy, is good.  I am where I have wanted to be for a very long time. The calendar is full, but there is still time for the weekly game of softball in Central Park. We are now part of the Broadway Show League, and after three games we have won two and lost one. It’s a great escape and a bit of low key competition. Some of the guys think it’s the majors, but most of us know better. My dog, Trilby, is a good cheering section.

Thanks for hanging with us. I hope that you enjoy the new album, and if you find yourself in New York, be sure to stop by
J & H.

I’ll see you at the stage door.

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