Final Bow: Lora Lee Gayer Has Plenty to Be Thankful For With Broadway's Holiday Inn
Who wouldn't want to sing Irving Berlin at Studio 54?
With the holiday season in the rearview mirror, Broadway will soon say goodbye to Holiday Inn, the new Irving Berlin musical from Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54 — but not before audiences across the country will get a chance to see it: The show will be livestreamed by BroadwayHD this coming Saturday, January 14.
Based on the 1943 film, Holiday Inn stars Corbin Bleu and Bryce Pinkham as nightclub performers Ted Hanover and Jim Hardy. Jim buys a rickety old house in Connecticut and gets the idea to fix it up and turn it into the Holiday Inn, a club only open on public holidays.
Lora Lee Gayer plays Linda Mason, a local schoolteacher who gets in on the act. Ahead of Holiday Inn's big final weekend, Gayer took an old-fashioned walk down memory lane to recall her favorite moments with the show.
1. What is your favorite line that you get to say?
There's this line at the end when Jim is proposing to me and he's explaining how he should have done it when the Hollywood producers were at their show. And I say, "Or before that." Every night it gets this huge laugh, especially from the men in the audience.
2. Everyone loves inside jokes. What is the best one from your show?
There was one night when there was this man sitting in the front row and he had this laugh that I've never heard before. It was like a cartoon upper-class Englishman's laugh. And he was laughing at everything. In the quietest moment he would laugh at something and Bryce Pinkham, Megan Lawrence, and I just could not keep it together. Anytime we're about to lose it, it's because we're thinking of this laugh.
3. Every show experiences technical difficulties. What was the worst technical difficulty experienced during your show and how was it handled?
The fly space is relatively small at Studio 54, so the set pieces that fly in and out are very compact up there. It was early in the run, and Bryce and I come out on a pallet with a piano where Bryce is teaching me a song. While we're coming out, there's a new set piece flying in, but it got tangled in another set piece in the fly space. All I can see in my peripheral vision is this other set piece, and it looks like it's going to come crashing down on us. So I handled it in the most dramatic way possible: I screamed bloody murder and I hit the stage. Bryce had a different vantage point and could see that the wires were still intact, so he just kept going with the scene, after I took a dive. So I had to get up and get back into the scene like nothing had happened.
4. What was the most "interesting" interaction you had at the stage door?
There was a girl who made Holiday Inn shoes: They were high heels with glitter all over them. She created these balloons on the toes that lit up. She had us all sign them. Those shoes were pretty impressive. Who doesn't want light-up balloon shoes?
5. Who is the coolest person that came to see your show? (You can't say your family!)
Zac Efron came to see Corbin [the two starred together in High School Musical]. It's cool to see that they're still such close friends. After Corbin's big tap number, "Let's Say It With Firecrackers,'' Zac was up out of his seat clapping and screaming.
6. Is there a holiday in the show that you especially look forward to every night (and does it correspond to the actual holiday you look forward to all year)?
My favorite holiday is Halloween, which isn't in the show. But my favorite number to do is "Easter Parade." I wear this fabulous costume and all the girls in the ensemble have these huge bonnets. I get to do a great diva turn and a long cross downstage. It's a classic Broadway moment.
7. Denis Jones has choreographed some very impressive numbers for this show. Was there a dance step that was particularly difficult for you to land in rehearsal?
Every single one. I'm an actor first and foremost, then I'm a singer, and below that I'm a dancer. Dancing is not necessarily my forte, but Denis is incredible at looking at each individual actor, seeing what works best on their body, and truly making them shine. I can't wait for the next time we work together.
8. When was the last time you stayed at an actual Holiday Inn (as in the hotel chain) and what was the occasion?
Maybe when I was on a travel soccer team as a kid, but I honestly don't remember. We keep saying that everyone in the company should get lifetime free stays at Holiday Inn, but that has yet to materialize.
9. If you could play any other role in the show, male or female, who would it be and why?
I'd play Louise, Megan Lawrence's character. It's such a fun role: Her whole purpose is to do for others and make others happy.
10. Which of your costume pieces would you like to "liberate" and add to your personal wardrobe?
Ooooooh…I have the most fabulous coat in this play. I wear it during Thanksgiving when I'm bringing a pie to Jim and Louise. I also wear it when I'm going into Christmas. It's this beautiful dress coat, and I've already told [costume designer] Alejo Vietti that I'm stealing it.