Fans of Margo Seibert – the Broadway star of Rocky and In Transit – may face some unusual competition for tickets to her upcoming concert at Signature Theatre. That’s because metro DC is no touring destination for Seibert. It’s home. And here, Seibert is more than a Broadway star – she’s an old friend with a fanbase of family and colleagues who remember her work here, and can’t wait to cheer her on.
Seibert, a Howard County, Maryland native, was a staple on DC-area stages before relocating to NYC, where she made her 2014 Broadway debut opposite Andy Karl in Rocky. Now, she’s back for one night to launch her new album 77th Street with two concerts at Signature Theatre this Sunday. While here, Seibert plans to reconnect with friends and colleagues – including Helen Hayes-winner Tracy Lynn Olivera – who will appear as a special guest star at the concert.
“These people taught me everything I know,” Seibert said of her DC theater colleagues. “I have never encountered a more supportive theater environment than here in DC, where you can switch from plays to musicals, to children’s theater to producing new work. That is a very rare thing.”
From her early teens, Seibert was a regular on DC stages, including Toby’s Dinner Theatre, where she performed and bussed tables from age 16. She did Of Mice and Men at Olney Theatre Center, Arcadia and Orestes: A Comic Romp at Folger Theatre, and – an experience she will reference in her concert – The Boy Detective Fails and The Hollow at Signature Theatre, two world premiere musicals produced in rotating repertory in 2011.
“That was an incredible undertaking,” Seibert says of the opportunity to develop two brand-new musicals for Signature. “I loved it as a performer, and it bonded the cast in a way that producing other work doesn’t.”
Seibert did not formally study theater or music in college, opting instead for a practical international affairs degree at American University, so she credits her DC colleagues for teaching her industry basics. “Holly Twyford would help me with auditions and monologues,” she recalls of one of DC’s favorite leading ladies. “Aaron Posner put me through the ringer in the best way,” she said, describing her audition for the well-known director’s production of Arcadia at Folger Theatre (Twyford was in that one too). “I felt like I had encountered someone who really saw me and believed in me. Working with someone like that validates you and makes you want to work even harder.”
The DC community was also vital in Seibert’s transition to New York. “I would ask actors I respected to send my stuff to their agent, then I would take the bus up for auditions and come back.” By the time she made the complete move to NYC, Seibert “had the scaffolding in place” to succeed.
That dedication paid off in the form of a Broadway debut as the originating lead in Rocky in 2014. “They made me audition nine times before casting me,” she said, remembering that Director Alex Timbers thought she was right for the part but had no way of vetting her since she hadn’t worked with anyone in NYC before. “Performing in Rocky changed everything about my self-confidence,” she recalled. “I felt like I had been seen.”
By the time her second Broadway show, In Transit, closed, Seibert was a more seasoned New York performer. “I wasn’t totally green by that time, so I knew the next job might not come right away,” she said. The time was right to put out her own album. Since she was in a transition period, the album, titled 77th Street after the street she lived on when relocating to New York, became an “an homage to the in-betweens of life.”
77th Street is a mix of original songs and diverse covers revamped through Seibert’s voice, both literally and figuratively. Fans of In Transit – Broadway’s first all a cappella musical – will immediately notice the a cappella sections that begin and end the album. “That was definitely influenced by my experience with In Transit,” Seibert says of the guttural riffs that open the album’s first song “Make Up Your Mind.” Ten tracks of Seibert’s velvety voice layer over each other creating harmony, rhythm, and depth.
In choosing material for the album, Seibert went for “songs that I adored and that fit my theme” of living with the unknown. “Something’s Coming,” from West Side Story speaks to Seibert as “a positive way of anticipating the unknown,” while Joni Mitchell’s “I Don’t Know Where I Stand” expresses the uncertainty that comes with many romantic relationships. Seibert dips her toes into the world of Grunge rock with an angsty-revisioning of Mitchell’s “Woodstock” and a surprisingly sweet rendition of Nirvana’s “All Apologies.” “The trick with a cover,” she said, “is to bend it in a way that is still accessible and exciting and pays respect to the original,” but is still unique to the artist producing the cover.
The five original compositions on the album hearken back to Seibert’s early days on East 77th Street. She considers her time there “the origin spot for this journey and the home to these feelings,” feelings that found home in five original songs, include rage over broken promises (“77th Street”), dreamlike hopes for the unseeable future (“Vera Bird”), and a heartbreaking tribute to a sister she lost in a car crash (“Whitman”).
Seibert says her Signature show will be a stripped-down version of similar concerts she has put on in NYC. It will just be her and pianist Tedd Firth onstage – with the special guest appearance by Olivera. Audience members can expect to hear nearly all the songs off her album, interspersed with songs from throughout her career: Rocky, In Transit, and, since it is a homecoming after all, The Boy Detective Fails.
Who knows how many of Seibert’s friends and former co-stars will be in the audience, ready to cheer on their friend and reminisce over shared triumphs.
Margo Seibert: In Concert plays one-night-only on Sunday, January 20th, 2019, at 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm at Signature Theatre – 4200 Campbell Avenue, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 820-9771 or go online.
Note: Due to high demand, a second performance has been added at 4:00 pm on Sunday, January 20th. The 7:00 pm performance is sold out.