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INTERVIEW: Multi-Talented Melissa Errico On "A Starry Night," Stephen Sondheim, And More

T.J. Clemente

Melissa Errico is lending her talents to Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts' 29th Annual Summer Gala, A Starry Night. (Courtesy Photo)

Melissa Errico will be one of the talented Broadway stars to perform during this year's Bay Street Gala on Wednesday, July 22, which will be a virtual one due to the Coronavirus. In an interview with Errico, I discovered quickly why Broadway audiences over the years have stood and applauded her performances. I personally enjoyed her Wouldn't it be Loverly from the revival of My Fair Lady. Yet, within seconds of talking with Errico, you instantly know there is so much more to this Long Island raised Broadway star, devoted wife and mother of three girls. Although this interview was about her, she actually spent the first few minutes talking about her husband, Patrick McEnroe and how he was doing so many wonderful things for youth tennis in the Hamptons, safely, during this pandemic. She proudly told me of all the accomplishments her daughters have done via ballet and tennis, and finally, when we started to talk about her career accomplishments, she listed some highlights, but was so humble it was arresting.

There is no doubt that Errico is a huge talent, all you need to do is see her perform and hear her sing. She has the "it" factor, and strangely enough, I believe she doesn't comprehend how much of that specialness she has. She is very frustrated, as are all actors, that their live on stage performing careers are in limbo due to the Coronavirus. Errico has taken this time to perfect a sound studio in her Westchester home - where she can do high quality, live virtual performances. She is proud of her new awareness of tech, but she makes no bones about the fact that she misses the connection between a live audience and the performer. It is a special energy only those who have stood on a stage in front of large crowds understands.

When asked of perhaps one of her greatest experiences that show business has fostered on her life, she replied instantly, "Getting my first email from Stephen Sondheim. It was so special. I had always been a huge fan of his talent; I just could not believe he took the time to reach out to me. Luckily it became the first of many!" For the Bay Street Gala, Errico will be performing perhaps Mr. Sondheim's most acclaimed composition, Send in the Clowns. She said, "You know the song, it's the one Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins had great success with."

Errico's career is filled with a litany of wonderful accomplishments. Such as starting on Broadway at twelve-years old in Les Miserable and being the lead in My Fair Lady, a role causing New York Magazine to write in a review of opening night: "Like a scene right out of a 1930's film, last week Melissa Errico walked on stage, in her debut as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, a Julie Andrews wannabe and walked off Broadway's newest star."

Like for the rest of the world, these last few months have looked very different. She explained, "Once schools were closed, I decided I had to build structure for the girls. A schedule for school, recreation, so that the girls learned discipline and structure right in the home. Then Patrick was diagnosed with Coronavirus and had to stay and live in the basement of our home for a month. I had just seen the movie, Little Women. It was about four women alone in the house!" What she didn't emphasize was that while she was doing that, she was also preparing for the April 26th 2020 production of Take Me to the World, a virtual concert in celebration of legendary Broadway Composer Stephen Sondheim's 90th birthday seen and heard live all over the world by millions of people. It was praised for its content and the quality of the individual performances by world-wide publications.

When asked about which fellow star she enjoyed meeting the most, she said, "I was always a huge Bernadette Peters fan and when I met her I froze. I couldn't talk. It was that way the first three times I met her. She still has an effect on me when I am in her presence. She was wonderful when she sang No One Is Alone in the Take Me To The World show."

Very soon Errico will be loading up the car for the family's summer rental in East Hampton. She mentioned, "Patrick and his brother John have their Tennis Academy in the summer in the Hamptons [Amagansett]. They are picking up the tennis balls in a special way and using safe spacing tennis protocols."

She is proud of her recent essay for The Purist and is excited that on July 10th she is releasing a new double-sided single, Blackberry Winter. And, Errico stressed she is most proud of her special connection with Stephen Sondheim - both musically and personally.

After her latest birthday Errico declared, "I still feel aspirational! I feel good... the Gala is going to be great. Send in the Clowns is one of those songs that's golden and I'm going to give it my heart."

The Gala will begin with a red carpet pre-show at 7:30 p.m.

To register to watch Bay Street Theater & Sag Harbor Center for the Arts' 29th Annual Summer Gala, A Starry Night, visit www.baystreet.org. There is no fee to stream the Gala.

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