Musical theater lovers, rejoice! Show business has a new star, and you won’t have to fork over a month’s rent paying Broadway-style ticket prices to see her. Not only can you watch her from the comfort of your very own home, but she performs from her very own home, with living room or bedroom as the only set-piece. Forget the fancy scenery; for this actress, the backdrop may be just her bed, a few show posters, or maybe even a sheet, hung up behind her to help with sound.
The scenery, though, doesn’t really matter, once you hear “the voice.” Since 2007, Alex Heinen has been building a name for herself with a YouTube channel, where she goes by the user name “Miss Broadway Dork.” With more than 2 million video views, Heinen is followed by a host of eager subscribers, who highly anticipate her musical theater gems. And they can be quite vocal, freely expressing their feelings in the comment section.
Some fans can’t quite believe that Heinen’s exquisite voice comes out of–well–Heinen. While all videos on her channel posted after 10/12/07 are sung live, prior to that, Heinen would often post videos of herself lip-syncing to a prerecorded tape of her own voice, leading some to speculate that Heinen wasn’t actually singing the songs. This suspicion was compounded, in part, by her physical appearance. No frills when it comes to style, Heinen rarely puts on costumes or makeup to perform; she just pushes the record button. Having struggled with weight issues, Heinen’s physical appearance varies in the videos, and commenters have thrown jabs about her looks, assuming (falsely) that someone who appears as she does could not possibly sing the way that she does.
Heinen pushes aside such bullying, affirming that her passion lies not in the fame, but in the performing. For this “Broadway Dork,” the pleasure lies in creating one’s own stamp on a role, and diving into artistic challenges. Currently residing in central Illinois, Heinen received her B.A. in Theatre from Hampshire College, and recently took time to share with me more about her passion, theater, and her potential next steps.
Kergan Edwards-Stout: Thanks so much for agreeing to chat! Like many, I stumbled upon your YouTube channel one day, and was immediately impressed.
Alex Heinen: Thank you so much!
Edwards-Stout: What inspired you to start your channel?
Heinen: I think it was simply that I love singing. I grew up doing a lot of musical theater in high school, but I got very nervous when it came to singing in public. I had a bad case of stage fright, which led to what I call “goat girl” voice, where my vibrato gets really fast. I thought it might be a good challenge to put myself out there on the internet and see if it helped my nerves. And I guess it did!
Edwards-Stout: In a big way! You don’t seem nervous at all… Where did your love for musical theater come from? (more…)
Posted the evening of the Golden Globes:
I had one of those weird “a-ha” moments just now, when, while cleaning, a wonderful memory returned. One of the best nights of my life, EVER, happened in February 1993. I have been a fan of Stephen Sondheim as long as I can remember, so when I heard they were doing a one-night only, 20th anniversary original cast reunion performance of COMPANY at the Long Beach Terrace Theater, I immediately bought two tickets. My good friend at the time, Cheryl Dolins, was also a Sondheim fan, and we couldn’t wait to go.
Another friend, Gary Kalkin, called just after we’d bought the tickets, and invited me to the Golden Globes after-party; I was crushed at the conflict. He said to stop by afterward, if we could, and at least say hello.
Cheryl and I loved COMPANY, and I was amazed, watching Dean Jones perform “Being Alive”, at how pitch perfect and emotionally charged his performance was, 20 years later. The entire cast was phenomenal, and goes down in history as my favorite night ever in a theater, bar none.
Exhilarated, Cheryl and I rushed back to LA. Walking up the red carpet at the Beverly Hilton, there were a few photographers, trying to figure out if we were “someones” and, to us, we felt we were. When we got to the check in desk, the woman apologized, saying the party was just about over, but if we wanted to still go in for a quick drink, we could. Dejected to have gotten there so late, we still went it, looking for Gary. There were only about 12 people in the entire room. Aside from Gary, there was Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Al Pacino, and Rodney Dangerfield. Cheryl and I were completely beside ourselves, hovering with the others around the few platters of food left, but kept acting as if hanging out with this crowd was an everyday occurrence.
Cheryl and I have sadly lost touch, and Gary died of AIDS just a year or so later.
I hadn’t thought of this in years, but just did. That was exactly 20 years ago. Thank you, brain cells, for reminding me…
Just a few of the brilliant lyrics…
Up on the walls–
“With love” filling the days,
“With love” seventy ways,
“To Bobby with love”
From all those good and crazy people, my friends!
Those good and crazy people, my married friends!
And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
That’s what it’s really about,
I believe that “gay” still means “happy”.
I believe that good will always triumph–Unless, of course, we’re talking “Melrose Place”.
I believe that Latoya Latex could benefit from a nice full-length mirror.
I believe that one day Richard Simmons will rise up and lead us.
I believe in fairies.
I believe that Stephen Sondheim should be deified.
I believe that the Rev. Fred Phellps should not.
I believe in the Golden Rule (and anything else made of gold.)
I believe that rimming is next to Godliness.
I believe that Pamela Sue Martin is due for a comeback.
I believe that O.J. needs a better acting coach.
I believe that Susan Sarandon is the only woman I’d ever sleep with.
I believe that in Newt Gingrich’s next life, he’ll come back as Connie Norman.
I believe that in Mel Gibson’s next life, he’ll come back as a blow-up orifice Ken doll.
I believe that the seven deadly sins should’ve included bad hair.
I believe that no one will ever hand you anything–except a supeona.
I believe that “Saturday Night Live” should have been canceled long ago.
I believe that Calgon can take you away.
I believe that one day there will be a cure for AIDS.
And I believe that I will be here to see it.
I’ve always been creative, even as a little kid. In 2nd grade, I was the one spraying pine-scented Glade into the audience, trying to establish the proper “forest” mood for my production of Snow White. Perhaps, to some, it would’ve been wiser to have spent less time on such “non-essentials” and more time rehearsing the actors. But in my view, it was far more important that our dwarfs actually look the part, with dwarf-like shoes (i.e., slippers), than learn their dialogue. Who cares if little Billy knows his lines, if everyone looks on the stage and still sees little Billy?
For great art, you need the magic, the essence — the scent — more than anything else.
And so it goes with my writing. It may not always be grammatically correct, nor foofy high-brow lit, but if I’m communicating my thought and affecting you in the process, I’m happy.