Throwing down | Inquirer Entertainment

Throwing down

By: - Columnist
/ 12:10 AM February 01, 2018

Two Leas: The author (left) with “Glee” star Lea Michele

NEW YORK—The music industry’s biggest night was celebrated here on Sunday, Jan. 28 at Madison Square Garden. I’m talking about the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.

Hosted by last year’s host, James Corden (whose parents also made a cameo appearance), it is one of the awards nights that I look forward to. But because I had a show happening at the same time, I set my DVR to record it. And for the most part, it didn’t disappoint.


There were amazing performances by Childish Gambino, Lady Gaga, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, Pink, SZA, Alessia Cara, Kesha, Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Rihanna, DJ Khaled, Khalid, the Resistance Revival Chorus (in a powerful number introduced by Janelle Monae that brought attention to the #MeToo movement), Kendrick Lamar (who opened the show with U2 and Dave Chappelle), and the biggest winner of the night, Bruno Mars, who took home the awards for Album, Record and Song of the Year.

However, as a musical-theater performer, I was looking forward to the tributes to theater giants Leonard Bernstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber, with performances by Tony winners Ben Platt and Patti LuPone.


Facebook and Twitter are rife with everyone’s opinions on their individual performances. Yes, it was their cup of tea (or not), the performances were fantastic (or not) and there were a few wondering why they were chosen. I can only surmise why but, at the same time, I ask, why not?

Ben has had the most incredible 2017, still high from his success as the title character in the Broadway smash hit, “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Being that he’s one of Broadway’s most high-profile performers at the moment, and that his show has resonated with this generation of pop-music listeners, it isn’t surprising that he was picked to represent our community.

With only a guitar and cello to accompany his vocals, he sang a rendition of West Side Story’s “Somewhere” that felt current and relatable.

At times, especially when he would turn to the more inhuman aspects of his phrasing, I found myself having to catch my breath and wipe away a few tears.

At this moment in time, Broadway did not feel dated or (perish the thought) old. Actually, Broadway is never old, and is probably one of the most difficult mediums to master. And a master was about to take the stage right after Ben was done.

With a full orchestra on hand to support her vocals, Patti LuPone stood on a set piece that resembled the Casa Rosada balcony to belt out Evita’s “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.” The first thing that hit me was, “Wait … that’s the show key … hang on … is she actually … you’ve got to be kidding me!”


Nearly 40 years after she took the stage as Eva Peron, Patti was about to throw down at the Grammy Awards by singing this song in the original key!

This is something not a lot of older performers do, but she did. Granted she is now close to 70 years old, but talk about showing these younger whippersnappers just how it’s done. Emotional commitment and “mad-tastic” vocals. And let’s not ignore her raw power.

I can only hope to be able to do something like that when I turn 70.

To Ben and Patti, thank you both for representing the Broadway community in the way that you did. Millions of people were watching, and you did us all proud.

Lea and Lea

It was a meeting that I thought I’d never see. I actually got to meet Lea Michele when she visited us on our “Island” not long ago.
She was accompanied by her mother Edith, and they were both really lovely. (Lea was the costar of our Asaka, powerhouse Alex Newell, during their time in “Glee.”)

It isn’t often that I meet a namesake (in spelling only; the pronunciations are different), but perhaps this was an introduction that was bound to happen—and not just because of Alex.

We are connected, thanks to “Les Misérables” and “Ragtime,” musicals that will always remain near and dear to my heart.

Dear Lea, thank you for your visit, and we hope you come see us again. With love, Lea.

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