Another week and it was time for another instalment of The Seth Concert Series; the concerts which moved online as a result of the pandemic have become essential viewing for musical theatre fans, with Seth inviting close friends and Broadway stars to join him for 90 minutes of music and chat. This week’s guest was Broadway trailblazer LaChanze, and with such a long list of Broadway credits there was plenty of material for the pair to get through.
For anyone who’s joined Seth for one of these concerts you’ll know that they are broadcast live on a Sunday night from Seth’s East Coast home (the guest joining virtually from their respective location), and then repeated on a Monday for international audiences. The quality of the stream is incredible, especially given the physical distance involved, and the set up has needed little improvement since the concerts began.
LaChanze told us about growing up in Florida with aspirations to become a dancer, a summer job in Atlantic City led to a Broadway transfer of the short-lived Uptown…It’s Hot!. Goofing off backstage got LaChanze noticed as a singer and a couple of lines in the show, something that would lead her to land a role in the International tour of Dreamgirls.
Seth does enjoy springing the odd surprise on his guests, so an impromptu ‘It’s All Over’ where Seth and LaChanze sang all the roles was particularly good fun. Another spontaneous moment saw LaChanze’s daughter join the concert to accompany her mother with ‘Waiting For Life to Begin’ from Once On This Island, the show that started to get her recognised on the streets of New York.
One of LaChanze’s latest roles was in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, so we were treated to a fantastic performance of ‘She Works Hard For The Money’ and an equally wonderful version of ‘Your Daddy’s Son’ from Ragtime, another show that helped LaChanze build her career.
‘Another 100 People’ was proceeded by a truly wonderful story about auditioning for Stephen Sondheim for a role in Company. The role had traditionally been played by a white actress, and this led to LaChanze to talk about her work as a founding member of Black Theatre United.
Back in 2014, LaChanze starred alongside Idina Menzel and Anthony Rapp in the fantastic If/Then (a show I was lucky enough to catch at The Richard Rodgers Theatre) so it was fascinating to hear stories of backstage antics topped off with a heart wrenching rendition of ‘You Learn to Live Without’.
LaChanze ended with fantastic stories from behind the scenes of The Color Purple, and some very touching stories about her time spent with Alice Walker. It was the role of Celie that won LaChanze her Tony Award, so it seemed most appropriate that she should be joined once again by her daughter, Celia Rose Gooding, herself nominated for a Tony this year, for the final stunning number.