Already a hit in Australia, New Zealand and London, the three Divas jumped aboard the show last summer in Toronto as it prepared for its Broadway run. It has been a little Americanized, with a Kylie Minogue tune giving way to one by Madonna and some lingo changes. But the joy remains.
“I do this for free at a karaoke bar,” says Arnold.
Arnold and McCleskey auditioned together and got the word from their agents that they’d both nabbed the Diva roles on the same day, which was a good thing since they’ve been roommates for eight years in New York.
McCleskey has been on Broadway before, with roles in “Hair” and “Tarzan,” but for Arnold, it’s her big debut. “I am like a kid in a candy story, for real,” she says. “I really cannot express how incredibly humbling and fortunate I realize that I am to have this as a Broadway debut.”
Spencer was on Broadway in “Grease” and “Hairspray” but this will be the first time she’s originating a role. She almost didn’t get it: Two other actresses cast as the third Diva pulled out.
“They did a great job of bringing in the right people for this job. We’re all a little coo-coo, loco _ but in a good way. We like to have fun,” says McCleskey. “As you can tell, the three of us joke around a lot.”
Stephen “Spud” Murphy, the arranger and musical supervisor, says he found in the three exactly what he wanted _ a trio of “full-bodied, up-front, in-your-face” singers who could blend their voices as well as sing solos. And they’re quick studies.
“They’re great. Any time I wanted to change anything, they’re so fast. They just lock into each other. There’s no extra need to work on the blend,” Murphy says. “They think as one now, which is absolutely fantastic.”
The three Divas recently enjoyed a rite of passage for Broadway stars: posing with the billboard for the show in Times Square. Tourists spotted them looking at themselves and began furiously photographing the trio.
“It freaked me out, just a hair,” says Arnold.
The three actresses say the message of the show _ tolerance and respect for all people, gay or straight _ is something that attracted them to the show, along with the chance to belt out great songs.
“I hope America is very accepting of the story and I think the music is definitely going to help people relax, and take a step back and calm down and just listen and watch,” McCleskey says.
Arnold agrees, and also points to the theme of reinvention that runs through the musical. “It’s truly about being able to come into your own and what that means to an individual,” she says.
“She’s deep!” McCleskey says, teasingly.
“That was deep,” Spencer agrees.