It took an unemployed Broadway talent to dream up a revue that, one day, New York’s theater divas would fight to be a part of.
Three years later, 20 of Hollie Howard’s “Broadway Dolls” shows are touring the country, bringing Broadway’s best music and performers to the masses.
GIVE MY REGARDS
“When I left the role of Penny Pingleton in ‘Hairspray’ on Broadway, I was at the height of my career, and wanted to conquer the world,” said Howard, an MSU alum and the Dolls’ president. “Well, I didn’t work for a year and learned very quickly the downside of the entertainment business.”
Howard regrouped and started a company that would create work for her, instead having to rely on Broadway casting agents. She got some friends together and started singing harmonies with them in her apartment.
“We quickly found ourselves traveling the world and performing,” she said. “I found this type of work just as creative, innovative, and fulfilling as being in a Broadway show.”
NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE
With the Broadway Dolls having just won a Best of Manhattan Award for Special Events, Howard’s risk paid off.
“Boy, have we come a long way since the days of sitting around on my living room floor,” she said.
These days, the Dolls are in demand both as performers – and by performers.
“Every time we have an audition, the top Broadway females come and battle it out for a spot in the group,” Howard said. “All the leading ladies love the idea of the Dolls, because it gives them a fun new show to work on while they are doing the same Broadway show eight times a week. And the Dolls are steady work between Broadway shows.”
New Dolls are put through a rigorous singing and dancing routine at their audition, where personality rates almost as much as talent.
“It is important for us to all like each other so that we can have fun in our performances,” Howard said.
THE GLAMOUROUS LIFE
Of the five Dolls that will be appearing soon at the City Opera House in Traverse City, two have direct connections to Michigan.
“Chelsea Packard went to school at U of M, and spent a summer at Interlochen,” Howard said, “and Nicolette Hart, [who] played the Opera House with the Christmas show for the past two years … has been raving to all of us about how amazing the theater and community is in Traverse City.”
The show is divided into singing and dancing vignettes that include Broadway tunes, a tribute to 1960s girl groups, romantic music, and spotlight moments in which each of the Dolls gets a turn on stage.
Pop music gets a turn with Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” to round out the show.
“The Dolls’ show is the equivalent of seeing 10 different Broadway shows all in one evening,” Howard said. “And it accurately represents the behind-the-scenes view of what it takes to make it on Broadway, in addition to flashy production numbers.
“You’ll be amazed by the talent on stage.”
The Broadway Dolls will be performing at the City Opera House in Traverse City on Fri. April 11 at 8pm. For tickets and more, visit cityoperahouse.org and thebroadwaydolls. com. Several Broadway workshops will also be offered in Traverse City in conjunction with the Dolls’ show. Register at masterclass@ thebroadwaydolls.com or call (646) 537-1708.