When Friendship is More Important Than Being #Famous: An Expose-heyyy on Playbill.com’s Michael Gioia

Gioia To the World (The #Lorte Has Come / #Gioiatress)

The first time I met Michael Gioia, I was upset. I was upset because I had just finished playing the Piragua Guy in In the Heights and since I was seventy pounds heavier at the time, it’s easy to be upset for no reason. Mostly, it’s like a hangry sort of thing, but other reasons can piss you off and you don’t even know why. Well, I do know why. I had been invited to a party in Harlem and it was the first time I had ever driven into New York at night by myself to attend an In the Heights castmate’s house party.

And there was when I saw him. He was a loud, redheaded dweeb who was obviously a theatre nerd, and I was jealous because everyone at this party was screaming: “Michael Gioia! Michael Gioia!” Being that I was recently back in the New Jersey theatre scene and I was belting my face off as the Piragua Guy, I thought everyone should be screaming for me. They did, of course. But, Michael Gioia was drunk and getting a lot of attention and I didn’t know why.

A Note To the Hangry Bitches and Beltresses

I could have easily been an asshole to Michael Gioia, because I’m a jealous #biznitch. However, I didn’t know who he was and it didn’t really matter. I’m a nice person and recognize that I can have a little bit of a jealousy thing mixed with an attitude problem. Also, I’m very shy around new people so it can come off as stank. I am well aware. Resting bitch face. You’re welcome. I’ve gotten into the problem many, many times. Now, when you are first starting your mingling life, you can not be stank. Just be nice. You never know who you’re going to run into a second time. Don’t be that guuuuuurl.

#Antytwerk, turns out that I was more jealous of everyone being drunk and bumping and grinding and no one was even looking at #meh. I sat on my friend’s bed and got to talk with Michael and realized that we had worked at the same theatre company where I had just done Songs for A New World. My castmate from In the Heights said that he loved Michael Gioia (#gioiatress) and everyone that I liked seem to say the same thing. So we sat and we talked theatre and made some crummy jokes, probably about Ms. Lovett’s meat pies, and called it a night.

Making Playbill.com Feels Cool Every Time (#GioiaGioaLordIAdoreThee)

Publicity is super important in this industry. There are several ways of getting yourself out there when you are producing a concert, even, cabaret, et#cetria. Facebook is numero uno. I know it’s annoying, but make a Facebook event and invite everyone and their mother and their baby daddy. Twitter is great for guerilla marketing, which means you can post about it every day. Let the Facebook sit and update it every few days. Post videos. Invite more friends. Make business cards (I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH, IN FACT IT STRESSES ME WHEN YA’LL DON’T HAVE ONE!) or fliers and post them in the studios. But the mecca is PLAYBILL.COM.

During our preparation for our first concert, after we booked Natalie Weiss, Dave sent me a message: “We’re on Playbill.com.” I mean, that was a dream come true. I read Playbill.com every day in high school into college. I was a Playbill.com-a-holic. What is the news? What are the auditions? What’s coming to the B-way? What concert was Kerrigan-Lowdermilk doing? So, to see that Michael Gioia (a #JerseyBoy might I add) was willing to put his neck out there on the line for two kids from across the bridge and tunnel was touching. I will forever owe Michael Gioia for this blessing – for that moment when all my hard work had culminated in something that I could show the world: a press release.

Everyone needs to read a Michael Gioia article. He makes journalism for the theatre an art form. The way he writes is inspiring and touching, and he always connects to the interviewee as a person. I read his articles and dream of days that I can be as #fahncy as the #Giotria but I know that I’ll always have a friend in him. I might have been a hater when we first met but now I’m not. I’m a fan. I’m a #Gioiaholic. I read any and all of his articles just to get the inside scoop in person. Because what’s better than reading a Michael Gioia article? Listening to a drunk Michael Gioia tell the story behind the scenes of the interview. I’ve been drunk many times with Michael Gioia as well. (Shoutout to #MonthlyMusicals, where Michael and I get drunk and sing through a Broadway score with our friends.)

Bitching und Belting & #54Belrr

Michael Gioia is the #producetress and #emcee of one of the best concert series I’ve ever seen in my life. Bitching and Belting at 54 Below is one of the most debaucherous evenings to participate in. While we were off in Rolla, Missouri, Michael asked us to present “Reckless” in the summer’s edition of Bitching and Belting. That is how I met Lauren Renahan (SHOUTOUT!) who killed “Reckless.” Her voice is miraculous. Seriously. Super sexy, so much range, so much commitment. I’m obsessed with her.

Michael Gioia made me feel like the belle of the ball. I watched her perform and may have been intoxicated and stuffing my face with the mushroom risotto. Get the fries. Oh my #grrsh! All the food talk! Michael Gioia not only sings, he carries the show through his hilarious life stories, his #ratchetry, and being able to #embracethetryery of his performers. Because at the end of the day, it’s not always about the performance. It’s about the connection. It’s about the bitching. And the belting. If you meet two of those requirements, you’re safe.

I was fortunate enough to attend the most recent Bitching & Belting: An Anti-Valentine’s Day Extravaganza where I got to work through the #singlemandrought. Yes, she’s still singing and all I wanted to do was go see a concert. Musical theatre is my Valentine’s. Since I was five years old, I’d rather be in love with a musical than a person. (That’s a lie. Sunday in the Park with George does not keep your warm at night. Only some nights. And you’re crying.) The medleys were on point. The persepective was so bitter, you could taste it. The voices were on fire. And there was Michael Gioia, standing center stage, giving an amazing rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “I Told You I Was Trouble,” and carrying us through an evening where you didn’t have to be in the feels because you were solo-dolo.

Thank you Michael Gioia for being a friend. You are worthy. Anytime I see you, I will bow down. You are so sharp, so talented, and so multi-faceted, I wish people could know you away from Playbill.com and get to know you as a person. You are the sassiest, classiest lady who’s brunched all over this town. (#insiderrr) You make me want to be a smarter #producetress, a better #writer, and just a better #human being.

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