ABOVE: Watch Rufus Wainwright practice Cole Porter’s “I Hate Men” during a rehearsal for If I Loved You: Gentlemen Prefer Broadway.
TORONTO — Rufus Wainwright was inside a rehearsal studio at Toronto’s Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Wednesday getting ready for this weekend’s If I Loved You: Gentlemen Prefer Broadway.
The show, at which the Montreal-raised singer will perform love songs from musicals with artists like Boy George, Josh Groban, David Byrne and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, takes place at the venue on Saturday night.
It is part of the Luminato Festival, of which Wainwright’s husband Jorn Weisbrodt is artistic director.
During a break from rehearsing Cole Porter’s “I Hate Men” from Kiss Me, Kate, Wainwright told Global News it wasn’t hard finding male singers who wanted to duet with him.
“I asked people personally,” he said. “All the people who responded immediately were excited and almost came chasing after me, in a nice way.”
Wainwright admitted he’s most looking forward to performing with Koenig.
“He’s a young, handsome pop star so it’s going to be dangerous,” he admitted as he glanced at his husband standing nearby. “But he has a girlfriend and I’m married.”
If I Loved You, which also features Brennan Hall and Canadian singers Stephen Page and Brent Carver, features dozens of songs redefined by Wainwright and award-winning music director Stephen Oremus.
They chose classics from the golden age of Broadway all the way to pieces from Andrew Lloyd Weber musicals of the ‘80s.
“We’re going to try to be somewhat theatrical,” Wainwright explained. “It’s important to acknowledge that these are pieces for the theatre, so we’re going to play with some of those concepts.”
The 40-year-old singer said his biggest challenge on Saturday night will be belting out “There Once Was a Man” from The Pajama Game, which he will perform with Page.
“[It] is really, really high for me,” he said. “So wish me luck.”
Wainwright said he is not surprised there haven’t been many Broadway love songs for two men — even though the Broadway community is heavily populated by gay men.
“Love is love but we’re just on the cusp of discovering all of this new world of being gay and being legally acknowledged,” he said. “So it’s pretty new. It will start to translate into the theatre.”
© Shaw Media, 2014