///By Michael Todd (Publisher)
///Photo by Troy Smith
For more than 25 years, Debbie Gibson has proven she’s an entertainer of immeasurable talent. From singer, songwriter and musician to actress and dancer, she embodies what it truly means to be an entertainer. A music prodigy, Gibson exploded on the Billboard Pop Charts at the tender age of 16 with the self-penned “Only in My Dreams.” The “Original Pop Princess” quickly became the youngest person ever to write, produce and perform a #1 hit song, “Foolish Beat,” a record she still holds today in the Guinness Book of World Records. To date, Gibson has sold more than 16 million albums worldwide, performed for British Royalty and hosted “The American Music Awards,” produced by friend and legend Dick Clark.
After conquering the pop world with three consecutive albums and world tours, she set her sights on the theater. Gibson took a star turn in the Broadway production of “Les Miserables” as Eponine. She broke box office records in the London West End production of “Grease” as Sandy. She then took the stage in the U.S. Broadway tours of “Grease” and “Funny Girl,” playing Rizzo and Fanny Brice. Gibson also wowed critics as Belle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Gypsy Rose Lee in “Gypsy,” The Narrator in the national tour of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Cinderella in the national production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” with Eartha Kitt, Velma Kelly in “Chicago,” and, most recently, Sally Bowles in the Broadway revival of “Cabaret.” Continuing to dazzle with entertainment magic, Gibson bridged the gap between pop music and Broadway with her one-woman show “Pop Goes Broadway.” During her sold-out summer run in 2008 at The Concert Venue at Harrah’s, critics agreed it was “the best show Atlantic City has seen in quite some time…it’s totally entertaining.” Phil Roura of the New York Daily News said, “She has mastered her craft to the point where she just doesn’t perform a song – she embraces it and delivers it with her own special stamp of approval.”
In 2010, Gibson made her debut in the world of orchestration for Dr. Rutledge’s documentary “3 Billion and Counting,” about malaria prevention in third-world countries. She collaborated on the score and the powerful closing credits song “Rise,” which was shortlisted for an Academy Award nomination. Gibson also guest starred in “Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy” at MGM/Foxwoods. Gibson then released a new album, “Ms. Vocalist,” from Sony Japan that was top 10 on the Billboard charts, and the first single, “I Love You,” hit #1, and she headlined a sold-out tour. To fill her passion of mentoring and fostering young performers and songwriters, she created “Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth,” a series of performing arts camps and music boot camps. In addition, she formed the “Gibson Girl Foundation,” a non-profit organization that awards scholarships and musical educational opportunities to underprivileged children who display talent and have a desire to participate in performing arts programs. As a spokesperson for Children International, she spent time in early 2011 in impoverished villages in Manila. For more than 20 years, she has been a child sponsor and advocate.
In 2011, Gibson starred with Tiffany in the SyFy hit “Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid,” which led to a joint sold-out tour as well as a performance on GMA’s Summer Concert Series. She also appeared in Katy Perry’s hit music video for “Last Friday Night (TGIF).” In 2012, she raised more than $50,000 for Children International on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” made a cameo in the film “Rock of Ages” as part of Russell Brand’s Rocker Posse, released “Electric Youth Reloaded” in 3D as an exclusive on The Jace Hall Show and became a brand ambassador for Hooplaha.com, a positive news and inspirational website. Currently, Gibson is recording a new U.S. album. From #1 hits and platinum albums to starring roles on Broadway, film and TV, Gibson is a true entertainer with timeless talent and charisma.
Get Out! magazine caught up with Gibson to discuss her career and her upcoming performance at Long Island Pride on Saturday, June 8, in Huntington, NY.
You will be headlining Long Island Pride this year. Have your gay fans been supportive over the years? Do you have a special message for them?
I started in gay clubs and theater, and I have found the gay community to be the most loyal fans, so a big THANK YOU, and here’s to many more years to come!
You have performed at Gay Prides before. What do you like about these events?
It is a celebration of oneself, authenticity and being true to who you are. I cannot think of a more festive event!
Which of your songs is your personal favorite and why?
It varies day to day, but “Foolish Beat” to me stands the test of time, and I will be debuting a new version of it at PRIDE! First time EVER performing it anywhere. Cannot wait!
You have performed in a number of musicals on Broadway and London’s West End (Les Miz, Grease, The King and I, etc.). What do you like about performing on the theatrical stage? Which was your favorite musical?
Les Miz was special because it was the first, Gypsy may just be the best-written musical ever, and I loved sharing the stage with Betty Buckley, but Cabaret stretched me in ways I did not expect and stands out as being my fave!
You made it pretty far on last year’s season of Celebrity Apprentice. Any behind-the-scenes anecdotes that you wish would have made it on air but didn’t?
Ha! Well, all I can say is anytime I was running around the streets carrying heavy objects and sweating it did not make it to air so they could peg me as being precious! Also, Lisa Lampanelli and I did a very funny parody of “Lost in Your Eyes,” which became “Lost in Your Thighs” about a visit to the OB/GYN. Needless to say, it did not make primetime! [laughs]
What are your feelings on musical reality TV shows such as American Idol and The Voice? Do you watch them? Are they legitimate ways to launch a career in the business?
I think if someone has the goods and is ready to take the ball and run like Carrie Underwood, then it is nothing but a great thing!
Tell us more about your charity, Children International. What does this cause mean to you?
Children International is about helping kids and women in impoverished nations. I saw first hand the devastation and lack of education and resources. CI literally takes kids from rags to riches in the form of medical care and education. It is a remarkable charity. I also started the Gibson Girl Foundation, which my mother now runs. It provides scholarships to families below the poverty line, and we send them to arts camps and programs. We have helped many children right here on Long Island!
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
So many things stand out: playing Carnegie Hall with Liza Minnelli in a tribute to Kander and Ebb, winning ASCAP songwriter of the year award, Elton John and Billy Joel inviting me to play piano and sing with them…”It was only in my dreeeeeeams”…but, not; it is my life. I constantly pinch myself!
Are you working on any new music? What else can we expect from you coming up?
I am! I finally have a wonderful, personal love about which to write, and the songs are pouring out. At the right emotional moment I will record them. I also just wrote and produced two new songs for a 60-piece orchestra for CIRQUE MUSICA. A 17 year old named Ali Isabella will be performing them live on tour this summer, and my arranger David Andrews Rogers orchestrated them. I also just joined the team of “Sing Your Face Off,” a new ABC show soon to air in which celebs impersonate icons. Darrell Hammond is my counterpart/judge.