Lift And Be Lifted: Christine Ebersole

Mark Cortale’s 3rd Annual Broadway @ The Nourse | By Jeff Kaluzny

When Christine Ebersole opens her mouth you just listen.  When the two-time Tony award winner walks on stage and opens the second act of  Grey Gardens with only the two words, “Oh, hi!” you just stop your intermission chatter and let her take command of your attention.  When she comes to a playhouse within driving distance to belt some tunes and share some behind-the-scenes tales with the “Mayor of Broadway” Seth Rudetsky — you go!

Christine received virtually every Off-Broadway award and her second Tony Award for ‘Leading Actress in a Musical’ for her dual role as both Edith Bouvier Beale and “Little Edie” Beale in Grey Gardens. Acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, the show was nominated for ten Tony Awards, including ‘Best Musical’, and its CD was nominated for a Grammy.

She will appear in the new musical War Paint which premieres in the spring of 2017 on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre.  She plays the role of Elizabeth Arden, opposite Patti Lupone as Helena Rubinstein.  The buzz on this show is already fantastic.

Broadway legend Christine Ebersole will be making her return to San Francisco on January 7th hosted and accompanied by Mr. Rudetsky in an evening of song and back-stage story-telling to open the third annual Broadway @ The Nourse concert series which will help to benefit Project Open Hand, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus.

<Left> Welcome back to San Francisco.  Can you share how this collaboration with Mr. Rudetsky came about and what we can expect in January?  <Ms. Ebersole>  I was asked by Seth Rudetsky and Mark Cortale.  I’ve worked with Seth many times.  We started off together doing Playbill’s Broadway On The High Seas cruises.  He’s a wonderful performer and raconteur and we put together an evening of Broadway songs from some shows that I have done as well as some songs that we both like.  I have a career which has spanned many decades so there’s a lot of material in there to choose from.

That does include Grey Gardens and 42nd Street, yes?  Yes, indeed!

I know that it won’t be opening on Broadway until the Spring but I was able to see the Chicago run of “War Paint” which you premiered with Patti LuPone this past summer.  Will there be any sneak peeks for us?  No.  Not yet!  <laughing> That all has to be on the down low.  There definitely isn’t going to be anything from that.  We are keeping it contained for Broadway.

Along with the song and conversation the evening at the Nourse is also a benefit for three wonderful San Francisco foundations: San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Project Open Hand, and the San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus.  Have you done work with any of these groups?  No, I haven’t.  This will be the first time I’ve had the chance to do something with them and I’m looking forward to it.

I would be remiss if I would not ask you about your turn on Will & Grace as one of Karen Walker’s nemesis, Candy Pruitt.   Right!  That was one episode I did of Will & Grace.  It was a lot of fun.

It’s hard to think that was only one episode.  That one character in that one episode really stood out and resonated.  Gay men all over still chuckle about “The Year of the Shoulder”.  What was it like to go in and play with that cast?  It was truly a lot of fun.  I went at the last minute because it was originally meant for Joan Collins.  I guess she fell out and so I just got on the plane that night and started rehearsal the next day.

In your Tony acceptance speech for Grey Gardens you stated how you left Hollywood after being told that you were ‘over the hill’ — now you were standing there “with this most distinguished award for what I consider to be the role of a lifetime. I’m over the hill in the role of a lifetime! I consider this to be very encouraging.”  Are you still encouraged?  What are you looking forward to?  <Laughing>  Yes.  Well, right now War Paint is what’s in front of me and so I’m really excited about doing that.  You just never know what opportunities life is going to give you so it’s pretty much about staying open to all of the possibilities.

Don’t miss two-time Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole with Seth Rudetsky in Mark Cortale’s Third Annual Broadway @ The Nourse concert series on January 7th at 8:00pm.  Tickets are available at or via phone at (415) 392.4400.

For over 30 years Project Open Hand is a nonprofit organization that provides 2,500 nutritious meals and 200 bags of healthy groceries each day to help sustain their clients as they battle serious illnesses, isolation, or the health challenges of aging.

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation has been working to end the HIV epidemic since 1982.  Their refusal to accept HIV as inevitable has led to their mission to radically reduce new infections through education, advocacy and direct services for prevention and care in the most vulnerable communities.

Founded in 1978 as the first ever openly gay chorus, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is one of the largest male choruses in the world.  Their 300 members carry the mission of creating extraordinary musical experiences that inspire community, activism, and compassion.

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