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by Michael Portantiere



    ROSIE, CHRISTINE, DAPHNE, CAROLEE, ANDREA, LILLIAS...AND BARBRA?

    No, Barbra Streisand did not sail on last week's R Family Vacations cruise to Canada and New England; such an occurrence would have been about as likely as George W. Bush joining Mensa. But if Babs wasn't aboard the Norwegian Dawn in the flesh, she certainly was there in spirit on "Barbra Night" and throughout the week, as Broadway stars and other super-talented performers covered a slew of her songs among the great many that were sung in a smorgasbord of great entertainment. Here are some pics!

    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    Rosie O'Donnell, the big name (and financial muscle) behind R Family Vacations, made a big entrance in the all-Barbra show on the first night of the cruise.


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    Rosie didn't tackle an entire Streisand song, but she did sing snippets of a few of her idol's more obscure numbers, including "Queen Bee" from A Star is Born.


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    The concert headliner for the week was a real blast from the past: Sheena Easton, still looking and sounding gorgeous. She did not cover the Streisand repertoire, instead offering an SRO concert of her own hits, such as "For Your Eyes Only" and "[My Baby Takes the] Morning Train."


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    Among the many other talents who sang Streisand and non-Streisand songs during the cruise: Two-time Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole...


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    ...the fabulous Carolee Carmello, who was granted some time off from her starring role in Mamma Mia! (the show, not the movie) to be on board for the first few days of the cruise...


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    ...Josh Strickland, who played Tarzan on Broadway...


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    ...Forbidden Broadway veteran and Sirius radio personality Christine Pedi...


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    ...the golden-voiced James Wesley, from whom we all will be hearing much more in the future...


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    ...and the one and only Lillias White.


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    Seth Rudetsky, the cruise's entertainment coordinator, presented a shipboard version of "Chatterbox," the popular interview series that he hosts weekly at Don't Tell Mama. One of the interviewees was Miss Lillias White herself, who held nothing back in telling tales of Dreamgirls and such.


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    Andrea McArdle, Broadway's original Annie, made the cruise a family affair by bringing along two of her kinfolk...


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    ...her brother, Michael McArdle, who could absolutely have had a singing career if he hadn't decided to become a yoga teacher instead...


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    ...and her 20-year-old daughter, Alexis Kalehoff, who has already been on Broadway (in Les Miz)...


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    Here and below are The Broadway Boys, an exciting group founded by Jesse Nager (far left in the following photo).


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    The boys were a big hit on the ship, singing ultra-cool pop arrangements of great Broadway songs.


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    How many other cruises present tab versions of musicals featuring actual Broadway performers, including some who've appeared on Broadway in the very same show? That's par for the course for R Family. This year's offering? Chicago, with Brenda Braxton recreating the role of Velma Kelly, which she has played for several stints in the still-running Broadway revival of the Kander & Ebb classic.


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    "No, I'm no one's wife, but...."


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    "...oh, I love my life!"


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    The amazing cast of Chicago also included Lillias White, who has appeared as Matron Mama Morton on Broadway...


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    ...Daphne Rubin-Vega, Rent's original Mimi, as one of the merry murderesses of the Cook County jail...


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    ...and Andrea McArdle as lawyer "Billie" Flynn.


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    David Sabella, who played Mary Sunshine in the original company of the Broadway revival, recreated his performance of "A Little Bit of Good" -- in half-drag but in full soprano.


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    In this gender-blind production of Chicago, the role of Roxie Hart was played by R Family team member Michael Lee Scott.


    Photo by Michael Portantiere

    And, in a real show-stopper, Klea Blackhurst and Christine Pedi performed "Class" in the personae of Ethel Merman and Liza Minnelli. Oh, it's heaven nowadays!

    Monday, July 21, 2008 at 6:51 AM | Item Link


    Michael Portantiere comes to BroadwayStars with more than 30 years' experience as an editor and writer for such media outlets as TheaterMania.com, InTHEATER magazine, and BACK STAGE. He has also contributed articles and reviews to AfterElton.com, Playbill, and Stagebill, and has written notes for several major cast albums. Additionally, Michael is a professional photographer whose pictures have been published by THE NEW YORK TIMES, the DAILY NEWS, and several notable websites. (Visit www.followspotphoto.com for more information.)
    He can be reached at michael@broadwaystars.com


    The last five columns written by Michael Portantiere:

    07/13/2010: Presidential Material

    07/04/2010: Hardy Boy

    06/29/2010: High School Stars

    06/21/2010: Falling in Love Again

    06/17/2010: A Meeting of the 'mos (and Their Friends)

    For a listing of all features written by Michael, click here.

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