Theatre gods, hear our prayer: please make Broadway’s Masked Singer a yearly event. The premiere episode was everything you expect from that other show of a similar name (which has no affiliation to this fundraiser for Broadway Cares): fun and silly with standout performances. The stakes are low (all proceeds go to the non-profit), but the drama is high (who is hiding beneath the mask?! Who will get eliminated?!).
The show kicked off with hosts, producers, and creators Michael Hull and Dylan Bustamante introducing the evening’s panel: Jackie Cox, Christopher Metzger-Timson, Kevin Metzger-Timson, Natalie Weiss, Abby DePhillips, Felicia Fitzpatrick, and Ben Cameron. All of them have Broadway ties, with some having appeared on the Main Stem before, and they brought their A-game with them—along with some snazzy, sparkly outfits.
The Whale sang first, crooning Sam Smith’s Oscar-winning song “The Writing’s on the Wall” from the 007 film Spectre. Guesses ranged from Jonathan Groff to Constantine Mouralis to Aaron Tveit—with a heavy emphasis on the latter. “I thought the voice was so buttery, I just wanted to spread it on a cracker,” said Cameron.
Later on in the show, The Whale’s take on Kristoff’s solo from Frozen 2 “Lost in the Woods” turned literal. The performance found the sea creature floundering on dry land. It also pretty much nixed all of the panel’s original guesses. Instead, panelists focused their attention on the boys from The Book of Mormon, throwing Grey Henson and Nic Rouleu into the mix. Whoever it turns out to be, the contestant raised over $1,500 by the end of the night and currently sits in the top spot.
Next up was The Flamingo, who sang Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird.” In a montage filmed at one of NYC’s piers, the performance featured an A+ character moment in which the long-legged avian tried to make a feathery friend with a goose. Leaning heavily on the clue package, panelists like Playbill’s very own Felicia Fitzpatrick said “she’s wearing pink, she said ‘flew onto Broadway,’ so I was like is it Taylor Louderman?,” referencing the star’s connections to Mean Girls and Bring it On. (The social media director wasn’t too far off, it was revealed later on!)
The Dalmatian took the virtual stage next, offering that they were one of the “last people to bow on a Broadway stage” before the shutdown but have plans to come back—prompting guesses by the panel that the performer might be a star in Six or Jagged Little Pill. The pup’s first song was “Love the Way You Lie (Part II)” from Rihanna's album Loud, followed by a soulful take on “Spotlight,” made popular by Jennifer Hudson.
“This person was very good at emoting through the dog costume,” said Cox. “It was like I was at Disney World, I loved it!” After first round guesses of Adrianna Hicks, Brittney Mack, and Felicia Boswell, the candidates doubled-down on Hicks in a second go around. However, Metzger-Timson did add one more name to the mix as who could be hiding under the “fur-bulous” costume: Frozen star Ciara Renée.
Then there was The Chicken. The first thing audiences learned about this piece of poultry is that they made their big stage debut across the pond. The second thing they learned is that it is, in fact, possible to pull off sexy dance moves while wearing a chicken costume. Their first performance was “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish, and the panelists were all over the place with their guesses, suggesting Eva Noblezada, Samantha Barks, and Willemijn Verkaik.
Completely switching gears, The Chicken brought down the house (coop?) with “To Love You More” as sung by Celine Dion. “Was that a chicken playing the violin to a Celine Dion song? Because you just made all my dreams come true!” said Cameron. Guesses were much more streamlined this time around, with nearly everyone guessing Jessica Vosk. Clues included a pre-Broadway career and a companion always waiting for her at home (Weiss thinks it’s the Wicked alum’s dog, Fred).
In the end, sadly, The Flamingo didn’t get to soar very far. Despite their second performance of “I’m Just a Girl” by No Doubt offering multiple head-banging moments, the star came in fourth place with fundraising totals, meaning they were eliminated. Viewers at home determine the show’s outcome by voting for their favorite performances through donations to Broadway Cares in the name of their favorite masked singer.
DePhillips guessed Kate Rockwell, with most panelists agreeing, thanks to clues referencing Rock of Ages. Finally, the time came, and The Flamingo was revealed to indeed be Rockwell! “Thank you for helping me fulfill my dream of becoming a flamingo, and I hope you had as much fun as I did,” said the Mean Girls star upon being unmasked.
That’s a wrap on episode 1. Four more contestants (The Bee, The Potato, The Shark, and The Elephant) will be introduced in Episode 2, with someone from the first episode going home at the top of the hour and another from the new group meeting the same fate as The Flamingo. It airs April 28 at 8 PM ET on YouTube with the finale set for April 30. In the meantime, you can watch episode 1 here.
How the show works: the first two episodes are split among the eight contestants. After each performer has sung twice in their episode, the contestant with the lowest donation totals is unmasked and eliminated from the competition. At the beginning of the following episode, a second contestant is unmasked and eliminated. Four finalists make it to the third episode/finale, during which a winner is declared.
By the way, each of the contestants filmed four performances in case they made it to the finale—meaning there are two hidden vault pieces from Kate Rockwell as The Flamingo. Stay tuned for more Broadway's Masked Coverage this week.