As she wraps production on the ABC comedy, Williams, 46, begins performances this Friday in “Sondheim on Sondheim,” a look at Stephen Sondheim through his music, films and taped interviews. The show at Studio 54 runs through June 13.
In 2002, the actress earned a Tony nom playing the witch in “Into the Woods,” so she’s very familiar with the melodies and lyrics of the composer, who turns 80 on March 22.
Below Williams spoke about her return to Broadway in a Q&A with the New York Daily News:
How do you juggle “UB” and “SoS”?
I’m very organized. I have everything in my BlackBerry, so as soon as I have a break I go and find out: Do I have a fitting here? or Where do I need to be? The bottom line is that everyone’s been completely understanding and accommodating, and it’s been seamless going back and forth between the two shows.
I’m told “Good Thing Going” and “Losing My Mind” are two of your big numbers. What else are you singing?
Another solo is “Smile, Girls,” which was cut from “Gypsy,” and I’m doing “The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” as a duet with Tom Wopat. I’m singing “Every Day a Little Death” with the ladies in the cast. We all do a lot of singing. There’s a lot of company numbers.
Are you a happy camper being onstage?
It’s great to be back home. I love it. The first day, we were sitting around at our music stands learning new music, and I felt like I was back in high school and college. You know, when you get new material for a new show, there’s a sense of excitement that’s like nothing else. It’s similar to reading a new script and not knowing what to expect.
Michael Urie, who plays your assistant on the show, is in “The Temperamentals,” an Off-Broadway play about early gay-rights activists. Have you seen him?
I saw him twice last year, before this transfer of the show. He’s such a well-rounded and brilliant actor – Juilliard-trained. He plays the part of Marc so well, I think a lot of people who watch him have no idea that he’s nothing like that character. I hope it doesn’t put him in a box. He can do drama, accents, anything. He’s one of my favorites.
You have four kids. Any of them following in your footsteps?
Well, my 20-year-old’s a dancer. She’s at the New School and doing beautifully. And Sasha, my 9-year-old, kind of has the acting bug. But she’s focusing on being a student now.
Below, Vanessa Williams as Wilhelmina Slater in clip from “Ugly Betty”