Chester Gregory has remained a steady Broadway fixture since making his debut in 2003 in Hairspray. A replacement in the role of Seaweed, the Gary, Indiana native began a streak of supporting principal roles that included Terk in Tarzan, Dupree in Cry-Baby, Donkey in the Seattle tryout of Shrek The Musical, and James “Thunder” Early in the Dreamgirls national tour. Now Gregory is back on Broadway playing (Sweaty) Eddie Souther in Sister Act—the noble police officer who sends lounge singer Dolores (Patina Miller) to hide in a convent from her thug pursuers.
Gregory earned raves in 2000 when he starred in Chicago’s Black Ensemble Theater’s production of The Jackie Wilson Story. When the show toured in New York at the Apollo Theater, Hairspray creators Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were taken by Gregory’s energetic performance and immediately cast him as Seaweed in their hit musical. Since making his Broadway debut, Gregory has earned an adoring fanbase, but his stage journey has had notable low points. Tarzan opened to terrible reviews, Cry-Baby only lasted 68 performances, and the industry buzzed when Gregory was not cast as Donkey in Shrek’s Broadway transfer, after creating the role in Seattle.
Despite these potential setbacks, Gregory plunged forward, giving a well-reviewed performance in the national tour of Dreamgirls and creating a slick R&B/soul solo career. Gregory sat down with Stage Rush in his dressing room at the Broadway Theatre (coincidentally, where the musical about the ogre played) to discuss Sister Act, his history with the Apollo, and what happened with Shrek.
How did Sister Act come into your life?
Sister Act came into my life by way of my son’s mother, Kimberly Herbert Gregory, who is an actress as well [last seen in By The Way, Meet Vera Stark]. She saw the production in London and recommended I audition for it. Read more
- Lucky and The Mick from The Craptacular co-host with me this week!
- Broadway in Bryant Park kicks off with a not-so-stunning set
- Hair returns to Broadway at the St. James Theatre
- Our take on the Broadway shows opening in the fall
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? What new show are you most excited to see in the fall? Did you think the first Broadway in Bryant Park concert of the summer was a dud? Did you catch the re-revived Hair yet? Leave all your Craptacular thoughts in the comments below!
Manhattan’s summer lunch breaks just got extended. There’s only one event that could justify an hour-and-a-half reprieve from the office, and that is the Broadway in Bryant Park concert series that kicked off Thursday afternoon. (Yes, my math is correct. The concert lasts an hour, but attendees should expect to get there at least a half hour early for a good seat.) Despite the gorgeous (if not intense) summer weather that beat down on the Bryant Park audience for the kick off installment, the concert series got off to an underwhelming start.
Cirque du Soleil’s Zarkana was set to perform first. You might be wondering what act could be performed from the super-elaborate spectacle. The answer: not much. A couple minutes of clowns waddling through the sweaty crowd and a quick run across the stage comprised Zarkana’s bizarre performance—if you can call it that.
The women of Baby It’s You! took the stage to show what a performance is really about. The four actresses that play the Shirelles pounded out a medley of the girl group’s hits, with Christina Sajous spunky vocals mixing well with her Rihanna-style cropped hairdo. The cheesy costumes of the 60s were not missed, and the performance demonstrated that the musical works so much better as a tribute concert than a narrative show.
VIDEO: Baby It’s You! performs a Shirelles medley