It takes a brave woman to step in for the powerful pipes of Broadway's Linda Eder. But that's exactly what Emily Skinner had to do back in 1997.
During previews of "Jekyll & Hyde," which showcased Eder, the actress lost her voice. At the last minute, Skinner was asked to sing some of Eder's big numbers from backstage while Eder mimed to the audience.
In general, that kind of trickery is frowned upon — but the show must go on, as they say.
"It was a very bizarre scenario," Skinner recalls with a hearty laugh. "I'm some sort of Broadway history, in a weird way."
She has nothing but kind words for Eder.
"She's a lovely person. At the end of the show, when she took her curtain call, she pulled me up with her. It was so last-minute, they hadn't made an announcement to the audience so I'm not sure they knew what was going on."
Skinner, Tony nominated for her role in the musical "Side Show," is a headliner at this year's Orlando Cabaret Festival. She takes the stage Friday through Sunday, April 26-28.
Stories from her career are part of her show, titled "Broadway Her Way" — but she's not spilling the beans on what she'll chat about or, for that matter, what she'll sing.
"I don't want the audience to know until I do it," she says. "You've got to keep them in suspense."
But under relentless grilling — OK, a friendly chat on the phone — she gives some clues:
"I talk about things that people ask me, how I started, who I've worked with," says Skinner, 42. "I just answer them during the show."
As for the music, Mad Cow's publicity mentions Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim and Kander and Ebb, among others.
Don't expect to hear songs from "Side Show," in which Skinner played half of a pair of Siamese twins. For one thing, it's a solo show. For another, Skinner says she's run her course with them.
"When you're doing something that often, you've sung those songs ad nauseum," she says. "The last thing you want to do is sing those songs again."
Skinner has worked with Disney and starred in other high-profile musicals, such as "Billy Elliot," which closed on Broadway last year. When she took on the role of Mrs. Wilkinson, the title character's dance teacher, it marked the first time she stepped into a part she didn't originate.
"I was nervous about being a puppet and doing what the person before me had done," Skinner recalls. "But they wanted me to do my own thing, to find my own way. I loved it so much. 'Billy' pushed me past where I thought I could go."
And she's not just talking about the acting or learning the tricky northern English dialect.
"I had to do cartwheels across that stage eight times a week!" she exclaims.
Ah, she's telling stories again. Can I get her to share more details about her show?
Well, she tells me what her show is not.
"I tell personal stories, but they're not therapy," she says, laughing. "I'm not one of those people getting up and saying, 'And then I fell in love and …'" She cuts herself off with a laugh. "I'll tell you stories that will entertain you."
• What: Performing 'Broadway Her Way' at Orlando Cabaret Festival, which features multiple acts and runs through May 12
• When: 8:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 26-27; 3:15 p.m. Sunday, April 28
• Where: Mad Cow Theatre, 54 W. Church St., Orlando
• Tickets: $35; $45 for premium seating
• Call: 407-297-8788
• Online: OrlandoCabaret.comCopyright © 2015, CT Now