As June 1 rolls around, theatre aficionados enthusiastically share an easily searchable video of Leslie Uggams performing Carousel’s “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” on the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C. The Tony winner makes her way through the song, but not without adding her own gibberish lyrics.
In the video above, Uggams sits down with Playbill’s Seth Rudetsky during a 2012 episode of Seth’s Broadway Chatterbox to discuss what exactly happened during that fated performance.
“Well, it poured like crazy the night before, and then it poured that morning. And so the grass was wet as can be,” Uggams explains. “They start the music, and I’m [singing] ‘June is bustin’ out all over, and all of the sudden the cue cards slip and falls into the grass and he’s gone, and the camera’s still moving and I have to go with the camera.’”
Ever the professional, Uggams continued with the performance, despite her cue cards (and the man holding them) lying in the mud. “I couldn’t think anything except, ‘This is live, and you have to keep going, and whatever comes out, you just say it.’ And so I wound up making up a language.”
The lyrical snafu remained under the radar for a number of years, according to Uggams, until a friend informed her that the video was playing in “every gay bar in America.”
Happy Pride, indeed.
Audiences can catch June bustin' out all over (sans mud) at Broadway's Imperial Theatre, where the Jack O'Brien-helmed revival of Carousel opened earlier this year. Opera star Renée Fleming earned a Tony nomination for her performance as Nettie Fowler, who leads the cast in the Rodgers and Hammerstein tune. The two recently connected on Twitter to commiserate over those tricky lyrics: