December 8, 2023
SNL's Ana Gasteyer Realizes Her Dream to Sing with Boston Pops for the Holidays
Steve Duffy READ TIME: 9 MIN.
For some six years Ana Gasteyer was a regular on "Saturday Night Live," showing her comic versatility with celebrity impressions of Martha Stewart and Celine Dion. Prior to SNL, Gasteyer learned her improv skills as a member of the acclaimed LA group The Groundlings and appeared in such sitcoms as "Party of Five," "Frasier," "NYPD Blue," and "Seinfeld," where she played a doomed customer of the Soup Nazi.
Upon leaving "SNL," Gasteyer appeared as Lindsey Lohan's mom in the cult classic "Mean Girls." Many, though, don't know that Gasteyer is also an accomplished musical performer, having appeared in four Broadway musicals, including a revival of "The Threepenny Opera" with Alan Cumming and Cyndi Lauper and as Elphaba in "Wicked," which she first played in the musical's Chicago production before moving to Broadway.
It is that combination of her comic and musical skills that will be on hand when she joins the Boston Pops for a special evening on Wednesday, December 13 at Symphony Hall. Called "A Company Celebration at Pops Concert" featuring Ana Gasteyer, the event is a unique holiday gala that celebrates the extraordinary partnership between the corporate community and the Boston Symphony Orchestra and raises funds to support BSO and Boston Pops programs. Joining Gasteyer will be conductor Keith Lockhart, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. For ticket information, follow this link.
Likely to be part of the program will be selections from her holiday album, "Sugar and Booze," which she described in a statement as "a new Holiday album with a throwback feel. This album is a nod to the swing sound of the '50s and '60s but with a modern twist. It is festive, with a full-bodied sound, that I hope makes people feel joyful, jolly and gay."
The album has been hailed by critics with Billboard calling it "an uproarious homage to Christmas albums of old" and "the magical love child of Astrud Gilberto and Lucille Ball – an unexpectedly perfect combination" by BUST. And the LA Times wrote: "'Were Frank, Dino or Sammy still with us, any or all would pounce on the delightfully swaggering title track" and "'Saturday Night Live' alumna Gasteyer puts her considerable vocal chops to work here to marvelous effect on this ebullient big-band jazz effort."
For more about the album, visit her website.
Gasteyer also collaborated with her former SNL castmate Rachel Dratch on a feature-length riff on Hallmark Christmas movies for Comedy Central. "A Clüsterfünke Christmas" stars Gasteyer and Dratch as owners of a small town inn that is taken over by an ambitious young businessman determined to turn their property into a mega-holiday resort. Along with Cheyenne Jackson, the pair parody virtually every holiday cliché extant.
EDGE spoke to Gasteyer about her Pops appearance, how she can have stage fright, and how she secretly loves Martha Stewart.
EDGE: Tell us about the show.
Ana Gasteyer: Still working out the details, but what I can tell you is that I am so excited to sing with the Boston Pops. There's honestly no greater thrill for a vocalist to be able to perform with a symphony. I do know that I will be performing a collection of seasonal secular favorites, songs from my album "Sugar & Booze," and a few songs from the Great American Songbook.
EDGE: Boston Symphony Hall is such a storied place. Is this your first time performing there?
Ana Gasteyer: Yes, forgive the corny reference, but this has been on my dream board for 15 years. I said one day I will sing with the Boston Pops, so I'm unbelievably excited. And of course, my biggest issue is always what am I going to wear? Because it's a symphony hall for God's sake and it's the holidays.
EDGE: So, a costume change?
Ana Gasteyer: Well, the problem with being a special guest is you only go on for one act. I truly am thinking about how we do a gown change. I don't know that I will be able to accommodate it unless there's a number without me and that would be boring.
EDGE: What was your initial meeting with Keith Lockhart like?
Ana Gasteyer: It hasn't happened yet, and I'm so nervous and excited. Got any tips?
EDGE: I have interviewed him a few times and spent some time with him in his dressing room. He is absolutely lovely and gracious, so don't be nervous. He is a real down-to-earth guy.
EDGE: How do you prepare for a performance like this?
Ana Gasteyer: You sing a lot with a piano and feel inadequate. My biggest nightmare is having to stop in front of the entire orchestra. Luckily, I love and have performed holiday shows. The holidays are my happy place. I'm a bit of a throwback performer. I do have a self-awareness that I'm not nearly as sophisticated a person as they ordinarily would expect to be in front of an orchestra, but luckily, I can sing.
EDGE: Since you are a pro at performing live, do you still get nervous?
Ana Gasteyer: It depends on the venue for sure. If I care about it, I do get nervous. I don't get crippled by it, but if I want it to go well. My excitement is my translation of nervousness. I performed at the Hollywood Bowl a couple of years ago in "Annie." I played Miss Hannigan and I got to perform with the LA Philharmonic. The first time I walked out on stage I almost passed out because it is such a storied venue and I'd always dreamt of performing there. It's an extraordinary place to perform. An audience that attends live music of any kind tends to be an intelligent and adoring crowd. So, they're there to have a good time with you. For some reason, I have a career that has circled the holidays. It's become a recurring theme, which I love.
EDGE: What can the audience expect when they come to this show?
Ana Gasteyer: I'm a good-time gal. I'm here to have a good time. It's a bunch of seasonal, ridiculous, and secular numbers. I love the arrangements. It's a lighthearted and fun show and I believe it is well-suited for the Pops.
EDGE: Did you have any holiday traditions in the Gasteyer household that you continued as an adult?
Ana Gasteyer: Yes, my dad worked for the association that represented the Savings Bank of America. He was a lawyer for them, and he loved "It's a Wonderful Life," not for the sentimentality because everybody's very uncomfortable with feelings in my family, but for the representation of the American Savings and Loan in the film. I love that movie and I do watch it every single year and it never gets old.
EDGE: Your celebrity impressions are amazing and many. Is there one you could live with for the rest of your life?
Ana Gasteyer: I don't feel like I'm that good an impressionist, so it's nice of you to say that. I feel like I'm a funny performer. What always worked for me was locking into what I found funny about the person as opposed to being 100% accurate. Chloe Fineman, who's on SNL, can dial in a way that she becomes another person. Darrell Hammond and Jimmy Fallon are also like that. They are just amazing. I secretly worshiped Martha Stewart a lot. She's hilariously unconsciously funny and just a hell of a tastemaker and terrifying. I love her business acumen. I love that she went to prison and came out the other side stronger and more interesting. Her knowledge base is insane, and her decorative instincts are incredible. Unlike her, I'm never going to burlap my hydrangeas. I could never do it, and I will make fun of anyone who does.
EDGE: Is there anything upcoming that you would like to promote?
Ana Gasteyer: I have my holiday album "Sugar & Booze" that I hope everyone is streaming and listening to. It was designed to be an evergreen perennial holiday record to wrap presents to and make cocktails to. Boston native Rachel Dratch and I wrote the ultimate parody of a Hallmark Christmas movie a couple of years ago. It's called 'A Clüsterfünke Christmas.' Our goal was to try to make a movie with as many hallmark tropes as possible in one single corny Christmas TV movie. It is airing on Paramount+ all month long, so I hope people will watch and enjoy it.
Ana Gasteyer appears in "A Company Celebration at Pops onWednesday, December 13 at Symphony Hall, Boston. For ticket information, follow this link.
Watch Ana Gasteyer sing "Sugar and Booze" on "Late Night with Seth Myers"