Melissa Etheridge isn’t a stranger to Broadway. She made her Main Stem debut in 2011 with a stint in American Idiot. But now, she’s bringing her own songs and story to the stage.
In the upcoming episode of The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal, Etheridge opened up about the path she took to landing her show, Melissa Etheridge: My Window on Broadway, on The Street.
Growing up in the midwest, Etheridge said that Broadway was always on her radar. “It’s been such a dream for such a long time,” Etheridge said. “The dream of creating something and presenting it on Broadway as a full story was always there.”
Before she made it to New York, Etheridge started her career in California as a singer-songwriter. Over the years, she and her wife, Linda Wallem-Etheridge, had fiddled with numerous collaborations; a few years ago, Etheridge’s one-woman opus took shape. After seeing fellow rocker Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway solo show success, it all clicked. “Watching what he did, seeing it and then understanding how it was done … [provided] a great base and starting point,” Etheridge said.
Using Springsteen as inspiration, Etheridge said her show is more theatrical by nature. She cited the lighting and video production she brought in, and the fact that her wife helped her write the script. “It’s got more of a story and really takes us everywhere,” she said.
The breadth of the story comes from Etheridge’s openness about her own life — a quality she’s cultivated over the course of her career.
“When I first started in the recording business, I was playing in lesbian bars,” Etheridge said. “I was out socially and to my family and everything. This was just music I was making. The mainstream recording industry started coming to see me and it took about 5 years before someone would sign me. The record company said, ‘If you don’t flag-wave then fine.’ Three years later I was flag waving.”
“It was a way to slowly be open about who I was and a few years later I came out,” she continued. “Once I did that, once I had the experience of being honest, there’s a lot of power in that.”
Twenty years ago, when Etheridge received a cancer diagnosis, many people in her life advised her, again, she shouldn’t share so much about her life. But she didn’t stop speaking out.
As Etheridge said, “Once I started speaking truthfully, it’s more comfortable for me to be open and honest in all the ups and downs of my life.”
On this week’s episode of The Broadway Show, correspondent Charlie Cooper walks and talks with Laura Bell Bundy, currently starring in The Cottage. Viewers can see footage from the Harmony box office opening, where writers Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow greeted fans. Paul Wontorek speaks with Pay the Writer star Bryan Batt on a walk through the Theater District. In this week’s Building Broadway segment, Beth Stevens chats with Maria Friedman, director of Merrily We Roll Along.