Master of Ceremonies is a memoir of a life lived in and out of the limelight, but it is also the story of the man behind the stage makeup. Coming of age in a time when being yourself tended to be not only difficult but also dangerous, Joel has to act both on and off the stage. He spends his high school years sleeping with the girls-next-door while carrying on a scandalous affair with an older man. Romances with to-die-for Vegas Showgirls are balanced with late night liaisons with like-minded guys, until finally Joel falls in love and marries a talented and beautiful woman, starts a family, and has a pretty much picture perfect life. But 24 years later when the marriage dissolves, Joel has to once again find his place in a world that has radically changed.
Drawing back the curtain on a career filled with show-stopping numbers, larger-than-life stars and even singing in the shower with Bjork, Master of Ceremonies is also a portrait of an artist coming to terms with his evolving identity. When an actor plays a character, he has to find out what makes them who they are; their needs, dreams, and fears. It’s a difficult thing to do, but sometimes the hardest role in an actor’s life is that of himself. Deftly capturing the joy of performing as well as the pain and secrets of an era we have only just started to leave behind, Joel’s story is one of love, loss, hard-won honesty, redemption, and success.
Long before his film career began, Webb was a child actor and later a suavely effete song-and-dance man in numerous Broadway musicals and revues. The turning point in his career came in 1941 when his good friend Noël Coward cast him in Blithe Spirit. Director Otto Preminger saw Webb's performance and cast him in Laura in 1944.
Webb began to write his autobiography, but he said that he eventually had gotten "bogged down" in the process. However, he did complete six chapters and left a hefty collection of notes that he intended to use in the proposed book. His writing is as witty and sophisticated as his onscreen persona. Those six chapters, information and voluminous notes, and personal research by the coauthor provide an intimate view of an amazingly talented man's life and times.
As Cara Mentzel, studied, explored, married, gave birth (twice) and eventually became an elementary school teacher, she watched her sister, Idina Menzel, from the wings and gives readers a front row seat to opening night of Rent and Wicked, a seat at the Tonys, and a place on the red carpet when her sister taught millions more, as the voice of Queen Elsa in the animated musical Frozen, to “Let It Go.” Voice Lessons is the story of sisters—sisters with pig tails, sisters with boyfriends and broken hearts, sisters as mothers and aunts, sisters as teachers and ice-queens, sisters as allies and confidantes.
As Cara puts it, “My big sister is Tony-Award-Winning, Gravity-Defying, Let-It-Go-Singing Idina Menzel who has received top billing on Broadway marquees, who has performed for Barbra Streisand and President Obama, at the Super Bowl and at the Academy Awards. The world knows her as 'Idina Menzel', but I call her 'Dee'.” Voice Lessons is their story.