Harry Connick, Jr. has fond memories of his time on Will & Grace. “Working with such an amazing group of writers and that fantastic cast, I loved it,” says Connick, who played Grace’s husband Dr. Leo Markus for four seasons of the groundbreaking, gay-focused sitcom.
“It was a great challenge,” he says. “It was a very fast-paced production. Things changed all the time — when you learned a script, they’d hand you a brand-new script the next day. It was just a thrill to be a part of.”
Left to his own devices, however, the acclaimed and genial performer is more of an off-script kind of guy. Take, for instance, his first concert tour in two years, which just got underway.
“There’s no formal setlist,” he says. “Each show is going to be different, just because that’s the way my tours usually go. It’ll be a collection of songs spanning the last 30 years. And I’ll play songs that I haven’t recorded before, even some songs that’ll come to me in the moment on stage.”
Connick’s last major live show was Harry Connick, Jr.: A Celebration of Cole Porter, a fully staged tribute featuring a 25-piece orchestra, which ran in a limited engagement on Broadway in December of 2019. “Hopefully I’ll be able to bring that show on the road once we get through this pandemic stuff,” he says, adding that Porter was “a real genius in many, many ways, and it’s a thrill to sing his stuff.”
This December, Connick is set to star in NBC’s Annie Live! As Daddy Warbucks opposite Taraji P. Henson, who will take on the role of Miss Hannigan. “It’s such a great musical with such great songs. And Daddy Warbucks is such a fantastic character that I’m excited to get started on that,” he says. “The show’s musical message of love and hope couldn’t come at a better time.” But first his band is taking on a summer tour of outdoor amphitheaters.
Time To Play! stops at Wolf Trap on Friday, Aug. 20. “I’m excited to get back out there,” Connick says. “We’re going to go out and have a good time, and play songs from different albums and base the show on the audience’s response. It’ll be a very relaxed, kind of impromptu show that just celebrates the return to live music.
“I know it’s a tough time,” he concludes. “And the people who are deciding to come out to hear us play — well, we’re just happy to play for them.”
Harry Connick, Jr. appears Friday, Aug. 20, at 8 p.m. at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, Va. Tickets are $44 to $97. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit www.wolftrap.org.
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