My Gay Toronto - 416 Scene

The neon lights
are bright on Broadsway
or Six Degrees of Ethel Merman

Christmas music is everywhere. It floods the airwaves and assaults the ears. This creates a dilemma for those who love Christmas music, particularly those who love to perform during the season. The broads of Broadsway - Diane Leah, Heather Bambrick and Julie Michaels - are all accomplished musicians and entertainers, and they intend to make the season musically magical. Leah laments that indeed the world is inundated with carols and saccharine. "If you stay out of stores, never listen to certain unnamed radio stations, you are quite safe anywhere," she says. "Except in  church after December 1."

Bambrick is more specific and references their upcoming shows, "We add our own Broadsway touch. We add a lot of humour, some songs come complete with barnyard animal sounds. We definitely reinterpret things. We've taken "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and have added a theme of "It's the Most Wonderful Time to be Queer," complete with a verse lamenting being Jewish at this time of year. I can't say we're irreverent.  We actually like this music, so we try to treat it with the respect it deserves, but with a nice dose of humour interspersed throughout."

Christmas music is only a minute portion of the Broadsway repertoire. "When we began," says Bambrick,  "We wanted to focus on musical theatre. That's was our launching point. There is always a connection to theatre, even the Gaga tune we do can be linked back to theatre. It's like a big game of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" but with Broadway. Maybe "Six Degrees of Ethel Merman?" The standards that we know and love today come from shows like South PacificFinian's Rainbow and Brigadoon. We wanted to take the repertoire of musical theatre and add the improvisation and freedom of jazz. We're three broads doing theatre our way: hence, Broadsway!"

The broads are happy to be broads but don't call them divas. "A diva is high maintenance and precious," says Bambrick. "She may have the talent, but she's simply a pain in the ass to deal with at times. A broad has the talent and attitude, but is willing to get down in the trenches - or the gutter - with the best of  'em. A diva demands attention. A broad COMMANDS attention."

In an intimate room like The Flying Beaver Pubaret, the Broadsway broads should have no trouble commanding attention, they've incinerated much larger venues. "The point is to elicit an emotional response - whatever it may be," says Brambick. "If you can move audiences, you know you've done what you were supposed to do. I can honestly say that we elicit tears and laughter in almost every show. That makes me very happy and very proud and quite honoured."

"Tears and laughter, they come from the same place," chimes in Leah. "Broads are happy to inspire both and we do. Often. It's impossible to tone down our broadness." 

Broadsway performs A Broadsway Christmas on Thurs, Dec 12 at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, 10268 Yonge St, and, Sh-- It's Christmas on Fri, Dec 13 and Sat, Dec 14 at The Flying Beaver Pubaret, 488 Parliament St.