Leading the Pack



Michael Anthony might just be one of the hardest working men in Hollywood. When he's not plugging away at his day job in entertainment news (or one of his side gigs as a lifestyle reporter and publicist) he's co-producing The Village Variety Pack (think Sonny and Cher, but gayer). He and producing partner/co-host Dennis Hensley have made Monday nights in Hollywood a little more vibrant, thanks to their ability to attract a revolving crew of talented singers, actors, dancers, comics and more. As The Village Variety Pack prepares to celebrate its one year anniversary, Anthony talked with The Advocate about the highs, the lows, channeling his inner Gaga and what he and Hensley have in store for year two.

The Advocate: One year is a huge milestone in the theater. How do you plan to celebrate?
Michael Anthony: A huge milestone — you're not kidding. Getting people to see theater in LA is hard enough, yet alone a $15 show on a Monday night that doesn't serve alcohol or feature porn stars. But we've made it 18 shows (one year) and counting. The cast is always amazing, the money goes to a great cause and it really is a great way to kick off your week. As for celebrating, we're going to do what we do each month — put on a great show! We've got indie music acts, TV comedians, off-Broadway singers and a few special surprises... big one. I know I always say it, but our October 4th show really is our best yet — and playing an eclectic, jam-packed 90-minute show is truly how I'm excited to celebrate.

Looking back at your first show, what do you remember most?

I remember... nothing. You see, it's insanity backstage. We have no rehearsals for the show -- just two hours before the doors open to set all the tech, lighting and sound... for 20 people. Working out costume changes, practicing dance routines, checking the mics, building props and rehearsing sketches; everyone wants their time and everyone wants it now. That first show was chaos on steroids, but so exciting. At that moment, I was just so, so, so, so stoked to have a project come to life on the LA stage — it's a hard thing to do.

Over the years, you’ve had many a notable face join you on stage for the Village Variety Pack. Who has been the most memorable?
Jenifer Lewis and Leslie Jordan were both highlights -- they've done so much in their career and really gave the audience (and me) a very memorable, touching, hysterical night. But my favorite thing is to watch artists grow. Singer Matt Alber, comedian/actor Drew Droege, the drag-tastic Willam Belli, the cast of Chico's Angels... I love seeing them on our stage at one point in their career and then, a year later, explode with success!

Any moments you wish you could go back and take back something that was said on stage?
Something that was said? No, not really. But visuals, yes! Me in a toddler's baby doll dress as Hilary Swank. Me in see-through garbage bags as Lady Gaga. Me in an old school girl's uniform as Britney Spears. Sad but true; yes, those are all visuals that I (and the entire audience, I'm sure) wish I could take back.

Who is your dream guest performer?
I've said it before and I'll say it again — Adam Lambert, are you listening?

Tags: Theater