I must admit I’d always thought of Wayne Brady as a television guy – and there’s no doubting his long list of small-screen credits, including as one of the hosts of the CBS television game show Let’s Make A Deal and as a regular performer on the US version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? But there’s also a love of musical theatre that has existed in Brady since childhood. Growing up, he saw episodes of Great Performances, a PBS television series about the performing arts that has broadcast, since its inception in 1972, plays, concerts, ballet, opera, musicals and documentaries. Shows like that rather irritated his siblings, who were into other types of programming.
His father was a military man, which meant, by the nature of the occupation, long periods away from home. He didn’t see Brady perform on Broadway before he passed on, much to Brady’s regret, but he did at least see some of his TV work. It’s where the money is, Brady mused, implying that he started out in television mainly to pay the bills, his real love was always the stage. This concert found a way of bringing the two career strands together, in the form of an improvised number. The online audience was invited to send in suggestions for a music style, then a setting, and some words or phrases that should go into the song – the result, without giving too much away, was something quite glorious.
Making his Broadway debut in 2004 in Chicago, Brady had substantial first-night jitters, partly because his family were in the audience, such that members of the ensemble immediately saw the state he was in and found ways of subtly guiding him around the stage, so he never lost his place.
Looking back, it was a good way of learning how vital every member of a production’s company is to a show’s continued success. And so, the stories and anecdotes continued, told with such fascinating detail that the concert’s host, Seth Rudetsky, seemed to suggest there were musical numbers cut from the setlist in order to accommodate all these recollections.
His daughter, Maile (pronounced ‘mile-ee’), encouraged him to join the Broadway cast of Hamilton. When he found himself going through several rounds of auditions, he carried on, motivated by a desire to please his daughter as well as do something he genuinely desired for himself. Then there was his time in Kinky Boots, and the audience was treated to a poignant rendering of ‘Not My Father’s Son’ from that show, and details about coping strategies to get through eight shows a week in stiletto heels.
Presumably at least partly thanks to his extensive television experience, Brady performs to camera with the right sort of poise and confidence, thoroughly engaging but never hammy or overdoing it. A masterclass in both singing and storytelling.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Wayne Brady (performing January 10) is known across America as host of the iconic CBS game show, Let’s Make a Deal, for which he earned two Daytime Emmy Awards – Outstanding Game Show Host and Outstanding Original Song – as well as a 2020 NAACP Image Awards nomination for Outstanding Host. For The Wayne Brady Show, he also earned two consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Talk Show Host. Brady was also nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards – winning one – for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for his stellar work on the improvisational comedy television series, Whose Line Is It Anyway? In 2004, Brady teamed up with Dave Chappelle in the now classic Chappelle’s Show sketch spoofing the film, Training Day, one of the most popular sketches in the history of that show. His additional television credits include an Emmy nominated role on The Bold and the Beautiful, recurring roles on the USA Network’s Colony, SyFy’s Aftermath, CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, and guest appearances on Key and Peele, Everybody Hates Chris, and 30 Rock. A talented vocal artist, Wayne Brady has lent his voice to Nickelodeon’s The Loud House, the Disney animated series’, Sofia the First and Phineas and Pherb, Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken, and Seth MacFarlane’s American Dad. On stage, Wayne made his Broadway debut starring as Billy Flynn in the long-running hit musical, Chicago. In November 2015, He starred as Lola in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Kinky Boots. His interpretation of the lead role was so popular, he was asked to return for a limited run in spring 2016. In January 2017, Brady assumed the lead role of Aaron Burr in the Chicago production of the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton for three months. In Fall 2019, he reteamed with Lin-Manuel Miranda, for several appearances in the improvisational hip-hop spectacular, Freestyle Love Supreme. Long an accomplished singer and performer, Wayne was named the winner of season two of The Masked Singer and also earned a Grammy nominee for his debut album.
WAYNE BRADY with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, January 10th at 8PM EST
Monday, January 11th at 3PM EST