What do you get when you take two Broadway vets, a piano, and a super cute restaurant in the heart of the Theater District? XO Broadway: a date night that’s about 10,000 times better than binge-watching Netflix (no shade to Netflix). Performers and partners Jelani Remy (Simba in The Lion King) and Jesse Corbin (Danny in Grease) co-created XO Broadway to offer theatergoers and music lovers a chance to mingle with the stars of Broadway in a boutique cabaret setting.
Unlike a traditional Broadway experience, XO Broadway gives the audience the chance to get to know the people behind the performances on a deeper level and hear them sing music that is special to them. By design, every XO Broadway night is truly one-of-a-kind, though they’re all full of diversity, variety, and a ton of good vibes – oh, and there’s one coming up June 22 at 10 p.m. at PS Kitchen, specifically to celebrate PRIDE(!)
Broadway Spin chatted with the creators to hear more about how this came to be, their approach to balancing a personal and professional relationship (full disclosure: They’re a couple), and where they go from here.
Broadway Spin: Where did the idea for XO Broadway come from? Was it an “aha” moment?
Jesse & Jelani: For a while, we were desiring to express ourselves in a way that also showcased other amazing artists in our community. After getting some experience on other projects, we felt ready for more. We discovered PS Kitchen and felt it was the perfect spot to bring a new vision to life. As we connected with the owners and staff, it confirmed to us that this incredible space was the right location to make our ideas a reality.
BS: Working with someone you have a personal relationship with can definitely have its ups and downs. How has it been for the two of you?
Jesse: It definitely has challenges 🙂 We have to be sensitive to each other as collaborators AND as partners! It’s important our creative projects don’t become divisive to our relationship. Overall, working together on XO has been a wonderful experience and has brought us closer together! We understand each other better and get to watch one another shine in new ways.
Jelani: This question made me instantly smile. Ultimately, it is so fulfilling to create something so positive and effective with someone you love. Also, I get the opportunity to see him perform (which is how I fell in love with him in the first place)! Working closely together definitely has its downs, whether it be deadline stresses, other performance gigs, or even personal life qualms, but have figured out the rhythm in putting our show together and more importantly, love doing it.
BS: What’s the best thing about performing in a Broadway or off-Broadway show?
Jesse: I loved the consistency of doing something I was passionate about and getting to see faces who would return for second and third shows because they enjoyed the story so much!!
BS: What’s the toughest thing about performing in a Broadway or off-Broadway show?
Jelani: Staying healthy! We have a demanding schedule of eight shows per week, on top of extracurricular performances and events. Our bodies and voices are our money-makers. Overuse and injury can happen so it is an art to maintain yourself and make sure you take care.
BS: What’s a dream role you’d love to play? Jesse: So many! Fiyero in Wicked is a long running role I’m dying to do; Cinderella’s Prince or Baker in Into the Woods is a dream; Huck Finn in Big River (someone please revive it!) and I am also hoping to see a musical I write onstage someday so I can be in my own show 🙂
Jelani: One that hasn’t been written yet! LOL – but really, I would say The Leading Player in Pippin.
Broadway Roulette has teamed up with XO Broadway to offer one lucky winner and a friend a special package to the June 22 event at PS Kitchen that includes: 1 free drink and 2 free raffle tickets for each of you + a $100 donation made to the Trevor Project in your names. For details, please check out our Instagram @broadwayroulette!
PS: Admission to the June 22 PRIDE benefit show at 10 p.m. is free! All raffle sales support The Trevor Project — so even if you don’t win our giveaway package… GO!