Add Rosie O’Donnell and her daytime talk show to the ever-growing list of rebooted entertainment. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic the outspoken host revived her popular chat fest March 22 for a one-night-only fundraiser for the Actor’s Fund, a charitable organization that assists performers and behind-the-scenes professionals in the Entertainment Industry.
Embracing social distancing the show was live-streamed online and featured O’Donnell, safe in her garage/craft room, interviewing Broadway celebs, also safe in whatever places they keep their computers or iPhones.
In case you missed it, you can catch the show below.
Lasting nearly three hours and thirty minutes, the show allowed for quick interviews and performances from Broadway’s A-Listers; better yet, it also allowed for a Peeping Tom’s look into their homes! As the night progressed, however, it appeared as though many of the evening’s theatrical guests choose to live in rather bland and color-resistant residences.
Here are some of the evening’s highlights, and a few things we learned about some of our favorite Broadway stars.
-O’Donnell is spending her quarantine binge-watching numerous television shows; asking her guests what shows they’re watching soon becomes the night’s most popular question.
-Former producer and band director of O’Donnell’s original talk show John McDaniel kicks off the night with a re-write of “We Need A Little Christmas.” At this point viewers are unaware that tonight’s show will seemingly last until Dec. 25.
-With the series finale taping of “Modern Family” behind him, Jesse Tyler Ferguson is spending his quarantine downtime growing a mustache!
-Tituss Burgess appears to chat with O’Donnell from his bathroom. With two Stephen Sondheim books displayed on a shelf, Burgess also provides the night’s first nod to the Broadway legend’s 90th birthday.
-At nearly 13 minutes into the show Gloria Estefan becomes the night’s first non-LGBTQ guest. She’s a former neighbor of O’Donnell’s in Miami (Rosie really misses that house). Also, O’Donnell hates flan so much that Estefan is wearing a “Flan Hater” t-shirt in her honor. Maybe that’s why O’Donnell moved.
-Patti LuPone has a pinball machine! Ever the diva, LuPone exclaims, “Scotty, I’m doing it anyway,” and proceeds to sing the classic “Smile.” It won’t be long until we learn why LuPone should have listened.
-Disney’s most lucrative princess Idina Menzel is the night’s first guest to curse! While adjusting her computer’s camera, Menzel inadvertently shows that she keeps a bright green dog-tag hanging near the device. Later, a freeze-frame investigation will show the dog-tag is from Camp Canadensis, a Pennsylvania sleep away camp. So if you’re looking for ways your kids to rub elbows with the children of celebrities this summer.
-Neil Patrick Harris is appearing in “The Matrix 4”?!?
-Thanks to Broadway power couple Audra McDonald and Will Swenson’s beautiful duet we discover why LuPone wasn’t supposed to sing “Smile.”
-O’Donnell, Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber all share a birthday, which was just the day before the evening’s show.
-Mini portable wooden tap floors are a thing and Jane Krakowski has one! Her six-seconds-long routine will sadly be the night’s sole production number.
-“Glee” stars have potty mouths: Darren Criss provides the second curse of the night.
-Kelli O’Hara provides one of the saddest laments of the evening, not only for herself but for all entertainers: “I work in front of crowds and right now there aren’t any.” O’Hara admits that she, too, wanted to sing “Smile,” but unlike Patti she refrains from “doing it anyways.” Kelli also has a lot of fun tchotchkes in her house.
-Designer Nate Berkus’ husband Jeremiah sounds like a bossy taskmaster.
-After two soundless attempts to connect, the third time’s the charm with Broadway’s Tina Turner, Adrienne Warren, who appears in her bathtub. Though both technical issues and bath bubbles are now gone, Warren shows why she’s clearly “The Best” to win a Tony this season … if they’re awarded at all.
-Well, hello Mr. Chenowith! As it turns out, “Josh” is Kristin Chenowith’s boyfriend, but he’s hunky enough to make even avowed lesbian O’Donnell take notice. Proving that you can take the girl out of Oklahoma but … you know. Chenowith has used two-inch-wide clear packing tape to hang a t-shirt in her kitchen featuring a picture of her long-time musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell.
-Harvey Firestein helps us learn what we’ve wondered since this show began: that what appears to be paper scraps on the floor in O’Donnell’s garage/craft room are actually specs of paint.
-Dressed in a pink Barbra Streisand t-shirt and pink glitter frame glasses, Billy Porter is the evening’s lone guest to match his wardrobe to his living room artwork.
-While some guests have performed this evening with an accompanist – most with a questionable amount of approved social distance between them – Shoshana Bean sings with an off-camera pianist that appears to be at least six feet away. Ever the musician, Bean’s living room is decorated with a minimum of six mounted keyboards and three guitars, and quite possibly more on the walls we cannot see.
-From his cabin in up-state New York where he has self-isolated, Gavin Creel believes he has COVID-19. After describing his symptoms and the recent diagnoses of some of his fellow “Waitress” cast, we can’t help but agree. Proving the show must go on, Creel still performs a song from the hit show.
-Alleged YouTube star Miranda Sings makes the pointed observation that the koosh balls once popular on O’Donnell’s daytime show look a lot like the coronavirus.
-With most current talk shows on hiatus, project-hawking entertainers are left with few options to promote their latest work. Well, Hakuna Matata, because Matthew Morrison uses his interview to plug his new album of Disney covers!
-Oscar winner Marisa Tomei one-ups Krakowski and hulahoops throughout the duration of her 28-seconds-long pre-recorded plug for donations to the Actor’s Fund.
-At more than two hours and fifteen minutes into the show Lea Salonga is the first guest to mention prayers for COVID-19 victims of the virus. So much for the stereotype of Godless Liberal Elites!
-A likely battle royale between LuPone and McDonald won’t be the only post-show throw down now that Randy Rainbow has appeared wearing the black edition of Porter’s Barbra Streisand t-shirt.
-At just shy of three and half hours, Barry Manilow is the night’s final guest. While O’Donnell makes multiple song requests, they fall on deaf ears, because Manilow’s gonna sing whatever he damn well pleases. Sadly, he also misses a perfect opportunity to re-work one of his most popular hits into “Coronacabana.”
-Most importantly the show raises over $600,000 for the Actor’s Fund, $100,000 of which comes from O’Donnell herself. Donations can still be made at Give.ActorsFund.org/Rosie.