To hear Julie Garnyé tell the story of just how influential Seth Rudetsky was in her career, you might think it is one of those cases of being in the right place at the right time.
And it could have been except that the two first met nearly twenty years ago—quite by chance—which led to an invitation by Rudetsky to hear her sing. It was during that initial session that he urged her to consider the songs of Liz Callaway and everything that Jason Robert Brown ever wrote.
As much as we all make our own luck, Garnyé must have made a sizable impression all those years ago. In June 2003, following the National Tour in a little show called CATS and as Garnyé was completing a run of BAT BOY at the Southern Repertory Theatre in New Orleans, Rudetsky called and invited her to return to New York to help develop a new musical project. That project would eventually become the hit show, LEGALLY BLONDE.
The experience was the pivot point that launched the singer/actor into numerous development projects, major concert appearances and industry benefits, a long run in the original cast of Disney’s FROZEN: Live, and for most of the past year, as an ensemble member in the North American tour of COME FROM AWAY, currently playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through August 18.
Just how that part of the story unfolded is one of many highlights in an engaging conversation with the passionate and exceptionally talented Julie Garnyé. PODCAST
FROZEN: Live at the Hyperion… “This was sort of the precursor to the Broadway show. Disney wanted to do a one-hour version of the film in their incredible high tech theater at the Park, at California Adventure at Disneyland in southern California. And they wanted it to be Broadway quality. They wanted it to be of the highest quality. They hired Liesl Tommy to direct it. While we were in rehearsal for it, she was Tony-nominated for the play ECLIPSED. She had directed the play ECLIPSED on Broadway. Just an incredible team of people from New York. Clint Ramos did our costumes, also Tony-nominated that year for costuming(ECLIPSED). Just an incredible group of people. … I was hired to be a part of the original cast of FROZEN: Live. It's been running now for over three years. ...the Broadway musical is a lot longer. There are more songs --13 new songs in the Broadway show. So, it is a very different show than what we do at Disneyland, but it is a very, very special thing to have been a part of. … for a normal Broadway show, you rehearsed for four weeks, tech it for a couple of weeks and then start previews. For FROZEN: Live we actually rehearsed it for three months. … I will never have that experience again.”
BlackTrax lighting technology… “It's these little nodules. They look like tiny little marbles. Really small marbles and they're attached to wires and these wires get threaded through your costume, sometimes a wig as well, but mostly costumes. And then the two little marbles basically stick out of your costume usually at your shoulders. They are GPS locators. There are GPS trackers in those little nodules. And the entire lighting system is then designed to your character. So, every actor wears a little BlackTrax box. … We wear two microphone packs, one microphone that we're using constantly and one as a backup, if your first mic goes out. And then you also wear this BlackTrax pack, which is a transponder, so you're wearing three transponders underneath your costume. Every time you do a costume change, your next costume is wired up with those, with that wiring and nodules, and it gets clicked into that transponder. The lighting grid, the lighting design, all the lights are smart lights basically… they follow you around wherever you go.”
“Come From Away and 9/11… “I find that this show is very healing for those of us who were in the United States when it happened. I also was a New Yorker when it happened. I was not in New York at the time. I was actually on tour, but I was living in New York. My stuff was there and my friends were there and my world was there. My best friend was in Tower One when it happened. There is one moment in the show that does sometimes bring it back for me. I'm a standby on this show, so I'm not on stage every night. And when I'm not on stage, I'm either working on my material, backstage, my lines or my choreography or my musical staging or I'm watching the show. I don't want to give it away in case someone hasn't seen the show. But there's one particular moment that if I'm having a particularly emotional day, I break down crying every time. … I've had conversations with two people, dear friends of mine, who both were in the towers at the time. And when they found out that I booked this show, they said we can't come see you. We love you, but this is not something that we are ready to see. … And to both of them, I said, I think you're going to find this very, very healing for you.… And my best friend has seen it now multiple times. And he has found it very healing.”
What’s Next… “I'm actually working on a new project centered around Eydie Gorme and Steve Lawrence that I'm really excited about. I've been working on it for a long, long time and was actually sort of on the cusp of really getting things going when “Come From Away” happened. I also have a new album that I'm working on. It's all original music, some of which has been written, but not heard in 30 or 40 years. Sort of been sitting in composer’s trunks. It's called “Ampersand” and it's just basically me and someone. And the premise of the album is that I pick 11 of my favorite composers that I've worked with in the past, writers that I've worked with and they also are musicians. So it's their job to pick the song that they want me to sing and then they get behind the piano or guitar and we record the song together. … I'm letting the composer say, “Oh, this is a song that I love that you would sound great on. Let's do it together.” PODCAST
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