A&E: Broadway Star Sings Favorite Songs, Seeks Signature Role

Tony Award-winner Gavin Creel returns to South Florida with intimate performances of his favorite show tunes. Credit: Matt Murphy

Gavin Creel is one of the biggest names on Broadway: He won an Olivier Award for his performance in The Book of Mormon” on Londons West End and was nominated for Tonys for his performances in Thoroughly Modern Millie” and Hair” on Broadway. He finally took home his own golden statue after starring alongside Bette Midler in the 2017 revival of Hello, Dolly! 

Creel will return to South Florida this weekend for two intimate performances of his favorite songs in Aventura and Delray Beach.

Were gonna sing some songs and make people happy, I hope,” said Creel. I have a great pianist, Chris Kong, and we’re going to do songs from the Great American Songbook, songs I love from the theater, peppered with song from the shows I’ve done.” 

After a pause, the 43-year-old summed it all up: Were going to explore the life of a Broadway performer today with songs from the past.

Creel especially enjoys spotting young people in his audiences. He jumps at the opportunity to offer encouragement from the stage and important insights for success in an incredibly competitive industry.

Judging from his resume, one might expect Creel to relish the sounds of yesteryear, the Golden Age revivals that brought him accolades on stage. 

I appreciate the songwriting from that time and definitely appreciate the great melodies and simple lyrics. I like the challenge of making [those classics] feel sexy and new,” Creel said, but Im also excited by the newer stuff.

Creel particularly appreciates the musicals of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen), Jason Robert Brown (Bridges of Madison County,” “Parade”) and Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and the pressing social issues they raise. Creel, who is openly gay, co-founded Broadway Impact several years ago to advocate for LGBT rights.

In the meantime, Creel is writing and publishing his own material. Hes particularly concerned about many of the recent trends in musical theater—the volume, sound design, bigger and louder pit bands.

Were not adjusting sonically for the singer, were adjusting for the audience. In an era of YouTube and American Idol,’ if youre not wailing and riffing, it doesnt seem to have value,” he explained. Sometimes, I worry that its telling young people you have to be fierce and belt it out. Even though pop music is coming into the theater—and Im excited about it—if were not telling a story, were just screaming.

So, whats next for Creel?

I want one role, that one musical role where Im the title character and carry the show thats contemporary and modern and gayand I want it to be fantastic. I envy Patti [LuPone] for her Evita, Ben [Platt] for his Evan Hansen and those unforgettable actors who landed that iconic role,” Creel said. Regardless, Ill die happy, [and] in the meantime Ill keep writing my own stuff.

Gavin Creel performs in concert on Sunday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center, 3385 N.E. 188th St. in Aventura. Tickets start at $50 at AventuraCenter.org. He repeats the program on Monday, Jan. 6 at 8 p.m. at Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave. in Delray Beach. Tickets start at $60 at OldSchoolSquare.org.