Broadway star, writer, actress, wife and mother: Melissa Errico does it all. A woman with amazing talent and a passionate heart for beautiful music, Errico will be at Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater on July 30 to perform her highly acclaimed show Funny, I’m A Woman With Children. It’s the perfect girls’ or date night, Errico says. She talked with us about her excitement for her Bay Street performance, My Fair Lady, what inspires her and why the Hamptons is filled with glamorous Broadway history and spirit.
Was getting to Broadway always your dream?
Yes. When I was 12 years old, I was taken to see On Your Toes on Broadway at the Virginia Theater for my birthday. I sat in the audience and just cried my eyes out. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to know how to get up there. I would’ve given anything to be up there, anything! I identified in a way that’s still impossible to describe. It’s just where I wanted to be. I didn’t need money. I didn’t need to be famous. I wasn’t trying to be a movie star. I just wanted to be a part of it. And 10 years from that day, I opened in that same theater as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. I told the press at the time my story about On Your Toes being when I fell in love with musicals. The stagehand happened to read the article and put the old marquee from On Your Toes in my dressing room, along with all the pictures that are like 10 feet high. So when I came in the one day, the whole room was full of everybody who had inspired me. They were all on my walls. I cried!
I’m aware of the limitations in my voice. I don’t have an opera background, or rock background. There’s a lot of different ways that people come to musical theater. I’m almost like an old-school musical theater actress. It’s clear. It’s pure. It’s talk. It’s a character voice that can go from one scene to another. It’s not a style voice.
What can we expect of your one woman show, “Funny, I’m A Woman With Children?”
One of the little perks has to do with a friend I’ve made recently. A man named Dr. Dominic McHugh who wrote a book called Loverly about the making of My Fair Lady. He has access to all the letters, and all the unpublished songs. A fan connected us, and he’s given me the music from My Fair Lady—songs that were thrown away, but that are wonderful. They were thrown away because Lerner and Loewe didn’t want the story to be too romantic. My show is all about dating, marriage, trying to keep love going, family, and just staying sassy as you get older. It’s about staying alive, and keeping some romance in your life—not just romance with a person, but the romance of living. So the idea that My Fair Lady had all these love songs, and emotional songs—it’s so appropriate to show. So people are going to get to hear songs that Lerner and Loewe wrote that were never published. It’s such a romantic night.
You’re a Hamptonite. How have the Hamptons, and your time out here with Broadway legends, inspired and influenced your career?
I was raised in Manhasset and started coming to the Hamptons in earnest when I was about 26—going way back to a musical called Make Someone Happy at the Bay Street Theater. I was in a musical that was about Betty Condon and Adolph Green. Those were huge Hamptons names. They’re the people who wrote Singing in the Rain and the musical Wonderful Town. They were so alive. So we did that musical out in Sag Harbor and Tony Walton did the sets. I had the best summer of my life. That’s how I became a fixture in the Hamptons. After that summer I never stopped coming. Julie Andrews came to my dressing room one time, and she wrote me a note—“You were wonderful—with love from The Other Eliza.” It was amazing! There was a time in Hamptons history where the New York legends of theater lived out there. They vacationed out there. They did special evenings of theater at Guild Hall. Everywhere you turned you would see a legend in the audience. I started to see that there was a culture of these stars vacationing and relaxing in the Hamptons, and spending their summers out there. And you know, they get bored—they don’t just want to drink wine. They’re theater people, they want to do a show. So in the tradition of all of that, I’m doing a show this summer.
You will be at Bay Street Theater on July 30. What are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to sharing this music, storytelling, and having a good Hamptons night—glamorous but relaxed. It’s a smart, sassy audience—maybe even sassier because they’re on vacation. So my stories might go a little off color or be a little sexier. It was actually in the Bay Street Theater where Julie Andrews wrote me that letter. And, to bring it all full circle, I’ll be performing on the set of My Fair Lady, because there’s a production of the show going on there for the 60th anniversary. My goal in that one-hour [of my one woman show] is to slow everybody down, get them to laugh, to enjoy their time, and give them really dazzling music. And I’m coming to a place that I love. I love the Bay Street Theater. I love the Hamptons. It’ll be interesting to see what I end up wearing because I’ve recently discovered Rent the Runway, so I’m unstoppable. I love it! I want to change clothes every five minutes.
Melissa Errico performs at the Bay Street Theater, 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor on Saturday, July 30, at 8 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets visit baystreet.org or call 631-725-9500