Music icons from the ’80s and Broadway stars put on a performance that embodied the heart and imagination of the decade.
The Improper chatted about everything ’80s with Maroulis and an assorted group of guests that walked the pinkcarpet Sept. 16 to mark the Canal Room’s special anniversary. Here’s what they had to say:
Favorite ’80s music: My brother and sister are much older, so I grew up with their tastes first, which ranged from Bauhaus, to Echo and the Bunnymen, to early U2 and The Smiths and all that.
Canal Room Kicks Off 10th Anniversary
Because I was an MTV kid, it changed my life. I loved everything from Billy Idol to Bon Jovi to Guns N’ Roses to Nirvana. I like the pop too. I love Tiffany and Madonna.
On being a part of the New York theater community: It was always my dream to be on Broadway as a kid. Sure, I wanted to play center field for the Yanks, be a big rock star one day, or something like, but there was something always about the Tony’s and the magic of Broadway and watching movie musicals with my family. There’s something about a company coming together to put on a show, no matter where it is. Sure, Broadway is the pinnacle, but there’s something about putting on a big show, and the whole rehearsal process, the grind, going through tech, the camaraderie, there’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like walking to work when you’re in a great show and knowing there’s a couple thousand people waiting for you. I’m flattered by that. It’s great in between shows to use some of my strengths with the 80s to celebrate ten years with the Canal Room to relaunch the Back to the 80s Show, so I’m really excited. We hope to take the show national, and keep rockin’ for a long time.
Gregory Jbara (Billy Elliot, CBS’s “Blue Bloods”)Favorite 80s music: Maybe an Aerosmith or Van Halen. I grew up in the ’80s, so the entire decade sort of identifies who I am. If I had to perform it, I would choose Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You.” That was a highly pivotal time in my life. It was when I was transitioning out of a relationship with a woman that I moved to New York with, and into my own independence. I equate that song with that time in my life. I felt that New York City was much bigger than I ever understood. When I got here I realized that this poor woman who moved here with me didn’t stand a chance because the city is so much bigger, and there’s so much more that I have to explore. Unfortunately, she was going to end up being left behind. But seriously, that was the journey.
On the fate of his character, Garrett Moore, on Blue Bloods: I actually get to do scenes with Will Estes, who plays the youngest son on the show. We’re alone, which is really big and different. We have a new term for my character now: It’s called, “Garrett is off leash,” which means, I’m not in the office, I’m not with Tom Selleck; my character is out rogue, doing things on his own, and we’re exploring that in a big way this season. It has been a lot of fun.
Joe DiPietro (playwright, Memphis)Favorite ’80s music: Probably “Every Breath You Take” by Sting. That is a genius song. What I love about that song is that it’s about obsession and love and the fine line between them. I don’t know what I was doing, but I remember the first time I heard that song thinking, ‘That’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard.’ I was admiring it and wishing I had written it.
On his favorite memory of himself in the ’80s: I had more hair than I have now! I loved the ’80s because I went to college at the time. I was a youth in the ’80s. In my music memory, the first thing that comes to mind is “Thriller.” You can’t underestimate when that came out, how big of an album that was. When it came to stars, there was Michael Jackson and then everyone else. He was the biggest star I think I’ve ever been aware of in my lifetime.
On writing the screenplay for “Memphis:” I’m very excited about it. It’s funny that the musical is actually structured like a movie, which I didn’t quite realize when I was writing it. I think you’re going to see that what people loved about Memphis on stage is going to be in the movie. It will be cinematic and rocking, and it will open a whole new audience.
On the musical he is writing with “Memphis” collaborator, David Bryan: Chasing the Song is about a woman who owns a music publishing company in the early 1960s. And, she works in the Brill Building. It’s about writing songs and creativity; what it’s like to be a woman working at the time, which was very controversial. It’s about what it’s like to create music, and it ends when The Beatles come along in 1964 and change the entire business which was just seismic. It was an amazing time.
Tiffany (’80s pop singer)Favorite 80s music: “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi.
On advice from Constantine, when it comes to performing: I’m always weary of advice because I think people just have to be themselves and find their way and go through experiences. You either enjoy the ride or you don’t. I say have fun and be yourself as much as possible when you’re in the public eye because it’s easy to be swayed. Keep your really close friends and family at heart, because it’s going to matter in the long run.
Montego Glover (Memphis, CBS’s Hostages)Favorite ’80s music: My favorite ’80s song would probably have to be “Living On a Prayer” or “Love Is a Battlefield” (Joan Jett).
On shooting Hostages with Dylan McDermott: I’m having a great time. It shoots in the city, and I get to be home and do this awesome show. We’re all sworn to secrecy about the story. Dylan is really gorgeous and gracious! I think everybody’s really excited about the writing on the piece.
Nick Adams (Priscilla Queen of the Desert)Favorite 80s music: “Only in My Dreams.” I remember my babysitter in the 80s, because I was born in ’83. She would rock out to those songs and play them around the house.
On his next stage appearance in New York: Next month I’m performing with Liza Minelli and Lorna Luft for The Actors Fund and the Phyllis Newman Health Initiative, because Lorna just beat breast cancer. It’s sort of her party to celebrate. She asked me to sing, so I’m going to sing with her. There’s me, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Jim Caruso, so I’m very honored that they asked me to come and sing a tune.
On secrets about his old college friend, Constantine Maroulis: He was not a ladies man in college. He totally emerged after Idol into this heartthrob. He was a goofy musical theater guy!
The Canal Room is located at 285 West Broadway at Canal St. For more information about the “Back to the Eighties Show,” or to purchase tickets go to canalroom on the Web.