RED BANK – Hollie Howard has had leading roles in hit Broadway musicals, but she’s a little jittery when it comes to her upcoming performance on Saturday, April 5, at the Count Basie Theatre.
Howard will be appearing with The Broadway Dolls, a performing company that she formed a few years ago. The show features Howard and four other Broadway veterans singing songs from the musicals they have appeared in, as well as pop favorites and girl-band standards. Her parents will be in the audience at The Basie performance, as well as the friends of the new man in her life, Ryan Fouse of Colts Neck.
“This is our first performance in New Jersey, and there will be a lot of new friends I met this past year through my guy,” she said. “It’s exciting but I’m a little nervous.”
Howard appeared in the original casts of “Hairspray”and “Mamma Mia” and was later in “Annie Get Your Gun” with Reba McEntire. She left “Hairspray” to “become a star,” and when she didn’t get any roles for a year, Howard decided to take matters into her own hands. She developed The Broadway Dolls, an all-ages song and dance concert featuring the best of Broadway, Motown and rock ‘n’ roll.
She has 20 women on her roster, but each show features five singers, each with impressive backgrounds. The Count Basie show features Tracey Beazer (“Hairspray,” “Memphis”), Emily Padgett (“Legally Blonde,” “Rock of Ages”), Nicolette Hart (“Rent,” “Million Dollar Quartet”) and Chelsea Packard (“Promises, Promises,” “Wicked”).
The Broadway Dolls started out doing shows at corporate events and now appear at performing arts centers across the country. They have traveled to places as far as China and Dubai to put on their fun-loving show.
“This has been a really exciting time for us,” Howard said. “We’ve done 10 shows in the past four weeks.”
Howard said all the women on her roster are current Broadway stars in between gigs, not has-beens. To be a Broadway Doll, they must be able to sing, act and dance equally well.
“These are the Broadway girls who are in high demand,” she said. “It’s really interesting working with that caliber of talent. We set the bar very high as far as their skill set goes.”
Howard grew up in Missouri, where she started dancing at age 2.
“At my first recital, when everyone in the audience clapped, I knew I wanted to do this forever,” she said.
She majored in theater performance at Missouri State University and right after college, she was hired as a dancer at Walt Disney World. Soon after, she was selected to be part of the European tour of “Fame, the Musical.” It wasn’t long before Howard landed her first role on Broadway, performing with country music star Reba McEntire in “Annie Get Your Gun.”
“It was my first Broadway show and coming from Missouri, Reba McEntire was one of my idols,” she said.
These days, Howard focuses on The Broadway Dolls, for which she creates and promotes the show, books the venues, sews the costumes and brings the sets.
“I’m like a one-man band,” she said.
She is also in the process of moving from New York City to Colts Neck to be near her man, confident that he will produce an engagement ring soon.
“I’m old-fashioned,” Howard said. “I’m not going to move my high heels in until I get a ring.”
Still, Howard is excited to be moving to Colts Neck.
“It’s so lovely,” she said. “It reminds me of Missouri with the land and the horses, and the culture and arts in this area are amazing. I feel lucky to move into a community like this, so close to New York City and with so many attributes.”
The Broadway Dolls show begins at 8 p.m. Doors open at 5 p.m. for a VIP shopping boutique featuring clothing, cosmetics and housewares vendors, as well as cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a dance lesson from the Dolls. There also will be a meet-and-greet after the performance.
“We want it to be an entire experience,” Howard said.
Readers of ***ITALThe Two River Times***END can receive a 10 percent discount on tickets by using promo code DOLLS.
Vibe writer Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.