Lindsay Mendez: The rise of a fan favorite, still rising
Although not yet a marquee name, Lindsay Mendez sits comfortably atop many Broadway fans’ lists of favorite performers. For those unfamiliar with her, that’s all changing thanks to her well-received performance in this season’s revival of Godspell, as well as her endless lineup of cabaret gigs. In her latest concert engagement, Mendez headlines with her jazz partner Marco Paguia January 18 at Joe’s Pub. Before a performance of Godspell (but not after a day of workshop and concert rehearsal), Mendez sat down with Stage Rush to discuss the endless amounts of energy required for Godspell, singing with her Broadway A-list friend (and former roommate) Sierra Boggess at the ASTEP New York City Christmas concert, and whether she sees above-the-title billing in her future.
This show looks like it’s so much fun to perform. What’s been the best moment so far?
I’d say opening night, just because it was such a mammoth task to take on redoing this show. In the beginning of rehearsal, we all thought this could either be really awesome and fun, or it was going to be really bad. It took a while for it to come together. When we opened, the show was fluid and wonderful.
Since your character is called Lindsay, what qualities of Lindsay Mendez are in the character you play in Godspell?
I think the Lindsay in the show has a lot of joy and definitely wants to go her own way. She’s also very materialistic. I don’t think I’m quite as bad as her, in that respect. But I really like playing her because I get to wear really fancy things. I don’t wear anything this nice. There aren’t many things that differ from her and I and it’s been really fun to have the audience get to know who I really am.
Is that difficult to play yourself?
I feel like I always bring a huge part of myself to any role I play. In Everyday Rapture, I played myself as well, in a way. I’m kind of used to playing myself. It’s not as foreign to me.
This is such a vocally heavy show with sustained energy. How is your voice and energy level holding up?
My body is more tired than my voice. The first couple weeks, the cast was saying there’s no way we’re going to be able to do this. We’re on stage the whole time; we sing every song; we never get water; we never get a break. I had to figure out how to manage. When you’re doing a Broadway show, it can start to feel like jail, in a way. All you do is wake up and hope you have enough of a voice to do the show and that your body feels good enough to perform at night. I’m trying to find the balance of having my own life in the daytime, then coming here at night and doing a great job. It’s an ongoing learning process for me. Read more
Stage Rush TV: Episode 86
- Raul Esparza, Sierra Boggess, and more sing devastatingly beautiful Christmas songs at ASTEP’s annual holiday benefit concert
- Broadway grosses
What do you think, Rushers? Who had the best performance of the night at ASTEP’s Christmas concert? Would you forgo Christmas presents in exchange for hearing Raul Esparza sing (like I would)? What’s your favorite Christmas song that you’d like to see one of these guys perform? (An album of songs featured in the concert is available on iTunes and at Sh-K-Boom Records.) Leave your swooning and inappropriate thoughts in the comments below!
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Concert recap: Raul Esparza, Sierra Boggess rock ASTEP New York City Christmas
Raul Esparza shook his ass, Sherie Rene Scott compared Lindsay Mendez to her right breast, and Seth Numrich showed up to announce he can’t sing. Yes, everyone was in the holiday spirit at ASTEP’s fourth annual New York City Christmas concert at Joe’s Pub December 12. (An album of songs featured in the concert is available on iTunes and at Sh-K-Boom Records.) The evening of Broadway A-listers performing Christmas songs to innovative arrangements proved as solid and gorgeous as ever, mixed in with a lot of good humor. Here’s what went down.
Sherie Rene Scott, Lindsay Mendez, and Betsy Wolfe (previously seen together in Everyday Rapture) kicked off the show with Mariah Carey’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” in such sassy, female rocker fashion, it made me wish the three would form a permanent girl rock group. The bond between the three women seemed strong, as their chemistry flared during their feisty number and between songs, they exchanged playful banter. Scott told a story in which an early scene for Everyday Rapture had Mendez and Wolfe playing her breasts, with character names simply “Left” and “Right.” Scott credited her strong relationship with Mendez saying, “Lindsay will always be my Right.”
VIDEO: Sherie Rene Scott, Lindsay Mendez, and Betsie Wolfe sing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”
4th annual New York City Christmas concert to play Joe’s Pub
When it comes to traditions, I’m the most stodgy when it comes to ones related to Christmas. That’s why I am thrilled beyond comprehension that one of my favorite holiday events is returning again this year. For the fourth year in a row, some of Broadway’s best performers, including Raul Esparza, Chester Gregory, and Sierra Boggess will come together to sing Christmas tunes for ASTEP’s New York City Christmas concert at Joe’s Pub on Monday, December 12 at 7 p.m.
The concert features Broadway A-listers singing classic Christmas carols, revamped with unique arrangements. The delightful Lynne Shankel once again serves as music director and host of the evening, which includes performers such as Esparza, Gregory, Boggess, Lindsay Mendez, Orfeh, Andy Karl, and more.
The evening is one filled with warm holiday spirit and powerful Broadway talent. But here is the top reason to see the concert, Rushers. The arrangements of these traditional Christmas songs are spectacular. The prime exhibit comes from the concert’s first iteration in 2008, when Esparza set the stage on fire with his English-Spanish rendition of “O Holy Night.” Watch the embedded video below and just try not to squirm in sensual delight. Read more
ASTEP New York City Christmas returns for third year
The holiday season truly has begun, because one of my favorite Broadway events has announced its return. The ASTEP New York City Christmas concert will play its third annual show at Joe’s Pub on December 20 at 7 p.m. The brilliant Lynne Shankel will again play host and music director to a night full of some of our favorite Broadway stars singing holiday tunes in creative, new arrangements. If this year is to be half as amazing as last year’s concert (and I know it will), all you Rushers should be buying your tickets now.
From the performer lineup this year, I can tell you the names I’m most looking forward to are Chestor Gregory, Andy Karl, Lindsay Mendez, Orfeh, and Elizabeth Stanley. Stanley is the only actor in that group who has not performed at the ASTEP New York City Christmas concert before. The rest of the spectacular list includes Michael Buchanan, David Josefsberg, Anya Singleton, Sally Wilfert, and Betsy Wolfe. Read more
Broadway Brain: Music director Lynne Shankel risks the Broadway crapshoot, sexifies Christmas
Stage Rush TV: Episode 3, LA Edition
Coming to you from Los Angeles this week! Please excuse the wind interference—we weren’t aware of it until we had finished (low-cost equipment here). I had a real, live soldier of the Hollywood entertainment industry collaborating with me this week—my good friend Michelle Mogavero . Having a “crew” was very exciting.
- Rush FAIL: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
- Upcoming interview with Lynne Shankel, former music supervisor for Company, music director for Cry Baby and Altar Boyz.
- ASTEP’s New York City Christmas benefit concert
- Raul Esparza’s performance of “O Holy Night” (YouTube)
- Broadway grosses
ASTEP’s New York City Christmas at Joe’s Pub
Wherever Raul Esparza goes, I go.
That’s why I was at Joe’s Pub last night for New York City Christmas, a holiday concert featuring some big Broadway stars and benefiting Artists Striving To End Poverty. It was the second incarnation of the concert, which was held for the first time last year at the Zipper Factory (why is that place closed??). Due to the success of last year’s concert, ASTEP produced a recording of the songs performed on Sh-K-Boom Records (actress Sherie Rene Scott is a co-founder), and they decided to do it again this year.
It was a well-paced, dimple-ridden evening, with enough belts and laughter to last the entire year. Big names like Chester Gregory, Sierra Boggess, Sherie Rene Scott, and Orfeh filled the room with fantastic renditions of classic Christmas tunes. Lesser-known names like Lindsay Mendez and Tyler Maynard (both who appeared last year) held their own among the marquee fixtures, and looked ebullient. Mendez, who I want to see more of, two years in a row has made one of the most lasting impressions.
The evening was hosted by Harriet Harris (photo embedded, because I feel she’s one of those actors whose face everyone knows, but few people can attach a name to), who has the ability to induce hilarity with any word she says. Referring to cellist Summer Boggess (Sierra’s sister) who was part of the band, “Summer’s on the cello. I just had to find a way to work that in there and say that,” cooed Harris. But I also have to give huge credit to keyboardist Lynne Shankel, who unofficially co-hosted the event. She served as MC last year, and in addition to being wildly charming, she helped organize the concert (along with ASTEP founder Mary-Mitchel Campbell) and is astonishing with how wide her talents stretch. Where can I see more of her? Does it have to be once each December?
And now we come to Mr. Esparza. Last year, he debuted a mid-tempo, Spanish-guitar arrangement of “O Holy Night,” in which he sings the first verse in English and the second in Spanish. It is a searing performance, memorable in every way, and redefines the classic song. For me, he can do no wrong, and the way his performance makes my mom feel—“I want to claw the skin off my face!” You know, in a good way.
Below is the video of his performance from last year’s concert. I chose to enjoy this year’s without the confines of a lens. I hope you’ll understand.
All I can say is I hope this becomes a Christmas tradition, just as TBS’s A Christmas Story marathon and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”