May 31, 2006
New Solo Show
by William Henderson
They are the Stephen's Sondheim, Schwartz, Flaherty, and Foster; the Steve's
Schalchlin, Winwood and Sweeting; the Stevie Wonder; the Cat Stevens -
musical geniuses each of them, and each fodder for the out Will McMillan's
new solo show "Will Loves Steve." There's also Fischer, who
you'd be hard pressed to find on any recording, for he's the Stephen that
first captured McMillan's heart and life 14 years ago and has yet to let
"The title has an extra resonance for my family and friends,"
said McMillan during a recent interview just a few blocks away from his
day job as the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (CCAE) assistant director.
"There is also that phrase that some anti-gay protestors use: Adam
and Even not Adam and Steve. [This] is a way to comment obliquely on that,
McMillan made his solo debut at Scullers in 2000 and has since returned
thrice as part of the "At the Movies" vocal group, twice as
part of Sophia Bilides' Cabaret Festival, and four times with singer Bobbi
"It's become my second musical home, and this year I wanted to do
something to honor LGBT Pride," said McMillan. "When I was performing
in the '90s with Abe Rybeck in Adult Children of Heterosexuals and then
in a band called Q-Set, we did a lot of overtly queer material. I miss
At the time of this interview, McMillan still had six weeks to pull together
his show and final set list. With so many songs from which to choose,
it has been difficult for him and his pianist, Doug Hammer, he said. What
started, essentially, as a catalog of all songs sung by Stephen was first
whittled to a selection of between 30 and 40, before McMillan was tasked
with deciding how best to focus the show. Sondheim and Schwartz songs
were definite, since McMillan has been a fan since his parents bought
the "Godspell" and "Company" cast albums when he was
a child and auditioning for commercials and Broadway shows. He was a standby
in the Broadway run of "Pippin," though he never got on stage.
He was there, though, every night, studying and learning and taking in
the lessons that would become his personal North Star.
And then there are the Stephens - such as Flaherty, Georgiou (the birth
name of who would become Cat Stevens) Sweeting, and Schalchlin - McMillan
expects will be less familiar to the audience, which is part of why he
loves cabaret. Surprise them at every turn, he said. Leave them wanting
more. That's how to keep your audience interested and willing to wait
six years between solo shows, though McMillan hopes the stretch of time
before his next one is shorter.
At the end of the day, when he's home with his personal Stephen, Fischer,
he thinks what he loves best about cabaret is how it can touch each member
of an audience in a slightly different way - whether that be in reminding
them of the first time they heard a particular song or in introducing
them to something they have never before heard.
"When it's done well, cabaret is all about authenticity," said
McMillan. "I'm interested in what's real, and while I love collaboration,
it's really great to go into a show that's solely yours and do it without
McMillan debuts "Will Loves Steve," at Scullers Jazz Club, Double
Tree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston, on Wednesday,
June 7 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18, or $16 for BACA members, and can be
purchased by calling 617-562-4111.