By: Debra Wallace
(PCM) Songstress Lea Michele has made an indelible mark on Broadway, on the hit television show “Glee” and she is now celebrating her new music and much-anticipated upcoming tour.
The remarkable 30-year-old singer and actress, best known for portrayal of Rachel Berry on the award-winning show “Glee,” kicks off her limited Intimate Evening with Lea Michele’s North American Tour on May 1 at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia.
Subsequent stops on the tour include: Boston, Ledyard, Connecticut, Toronto, Seattle, and San Francisco, which is something her fans around the globe are thrilled to partake in. There is something about her voice, her presence, and the way she conveys emotion in her music that speaks to her scores of admirers far and wide.
Her new single, “Love Is Alive,” was released on March 3, and her second album, “Places” will be released by Columbia Records on April 28. She first performed the new music during three intimate sold out shows in January, and this tour is a result of the demand from her many devoted fans, who have followed her rich career of music, television and Broadway.
No stranger to live audiences, Michele, who grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey, made her Broadway debut at age 8, after tagging along with a friend to an open casting call. After she spontaneously decided to audition, she was offered the role, and two weeks later she was starring on Broadway.
In 1995, she made her Broadway debut as a replacement for the role of young Cosette in “Les Miserables.” This was followed by roles in “Ragtime,” and in 2004, she portrayed Shprintze, and understudied the role of Chava, in the Broadway revival of the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”
She was nominated for several awards for creating the role of Wendla Bergman in the original company of the musical of “Spring Awakening,” which debuted on Broadway in December 2006.
In late 2008, she received the role of Rachel Berry on “Glee’ and has received many awards for her performance, including the 2009 Satellite Award for best actress in a series, comedy or musical, and Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations. She is also starring on the new Fox TV’s series, “Scream Queens.”
If all of this was not enough, Michele is the author of a charming book called “Brunette Ambition,” that explores her life and career, including fitness, fashion, the spotlight and more.
LEA MICHELE: It’s so funny because I have so many friends in Philly and I’m literally as I’m talking to you, I’m getting texts like, ‘can you get my mom’s friend from Philly four tickets,’ and ‘can we get nine more tickets for your show?’ So I’m like negotiating all my Philly tickets as we speak.
PCM: That’s pretty funny. I am sure these tickets are in demand.
LM: I think it’s because it’s the closest concert to the New York City, and I have a lot of friends there, so it’s very exciting for me to share it with all of them.
PCM: What are you excited about accomplishing with this tour?
LM: I think it was really important for me with this second record to immediately start performing. I’ve already done a couple of performances of this show that I put together back in January, but my goal is to get out there and show everyone that I’m a performer. I grew up on the stage. I grew up performing. I’m a live singer and I think that’s what sort of makes me different from, a lot of other entertainers.
PCM: Please tell me more about this.
LM: Well, even before this album comes out, I wanted to get up on the stage and perform. We’ve put together what I think, is a really great concert with some songs from my first record, [“Louder” released in March 2014], songs from this new album, “Places,” and then some really fun songs also from “Glee,” which I love singing. During the show, I tell stories along the way about “Glee” and about recording my first album and about the meaning of these songs from my second record.
PCM: So what should your fans look forward to during your intimate concert?
LM: They should expect a fun little night and it’s just sort of the beginning of this little leg of all these tours for me. I’m sort of learning as I go. But I’ve really loved it so far, and I can’t wait to travel to different places. Every city has like a different energy, and every audience is unique. I tell different stories each night, and sometimes I get a little too personal when I start giving everyone all of my deepest and darkest secrets; but I’ve really loved it.
PCM: Since your early days on Broadway you have really shined under the spotlight.
LM: Thank you. For sure; I feel the most comfortable on stage.
PCM: Tell me about the new album and the feedback from the first songs you released?
LM: People are really loving the single. We’ve released “Love Is Alive” as well as “Anything’s Possible,” and I think that people really just wanted to hear this type of music from me for a really long time. My first album was a little pop heavy and this album is a little bit more classical and it’s just about my voice.
PCM: What do you mean?
LM: Obviously on “Glee” I did a lot of pop songs, but I also did these really big, belting sort of show stopping numbers and I wanted to branch off of that and create an album that was timeless and that really just reflects a lot of the singers that I grew up listening to, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand, and for me I think this album is just a great representation of who I am as a singer. Not like you listen to it and you go, well that sounds like this person or it sounds like that person. You listen to it and it sounds like me, and I think that it’s something that people could also listen to in 10 years and it could still be relevant.
PCM: What does it feel like when fans say ‘I love Celine Dion, Adele and Barbra Streisand, and in my view you are up there with them?’
LM: Honestly, it feels weird. I think for me, I love singing, but it’s like, it’s difficult and it’s hard. I look at those singers who are still performing, and I feel like I am part of this new generation of singers. I think of what they do as being so effortless, but I imagine it’s the same thing for them as it is for me – a lot of hard work and unwavering dedication. I think they’re incredible, and to even just be in the same sentence as those amazing women is unbelievable.
PCM: Will you go back to Broadway?
LM: I would love to. But right now I really just want to focus on touring. I didn’t have that opportunity with my first record. So it is very important to me to do these shows now, to be on the stage and sing the songs from my album at my concerts. I also love singing the songs from “Glee,” which was such a big part of my life. So I’ve put together the concert and we have this lovely section about “Glee” and so I feel like I need to do this first before I can go back to Broadway, which takes a lot of time and effort. So this is where I need to be right now.
PCM: Is there any other advice that you would give a teenager or young woman who wants a career in TV, or music, or Broadway, or any of these things which are very big goals?
LM: I’ve gotten asked that question for such a long time, and I think for me I worked so hard. I never slacked off. I never was the girl that went to the party or anything like that, because I was working and I had to take care of myself. So being a performer, and being in the industry, it comes with a lot of sacrifices and you have to be willing to make those sacrifices so you have to work really hard. You have to take care of yourself. You have to go to school, and learn your craft. There’s a lot of different elements that sort of lead to success, and for me, I just never really stopped. I never gave up, and I worked really hard.
PCM: I look forward to your Philadelphia show on May 1. Good luck with the tour. It was been a pleasure talking to you today.
LM: Thank you!
For more information about Lea Michele, go to: www.leamichelemusic.com
For tickets to the Intimate Evening with Lea Michele Tour at the Merriam Theater, go to: www.KimmelCenter.org. Or call: 215-893-1999.