Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When I Met Gene Wilder

I was so sad to hear about Gene Wilder's passing. He had a big impact on me as a kid, and I was so honored to meet him as an adult.

While other girls lusted after Tom Cruise, I had a major crush on Gene Wilder. His acting and his movies represented the height of humor and passion to me. My parents practically raised me on Mel Brooks' movies, so I learned all about Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein ("It's pronounced, 'Frahnkensteen.'") But some of my favorite Gene Wilder movies were the ones he wrote and directed like "The World's Greatest Lover," in which Wilder played an actor named Ruddy Valentine who's hoping to impress his wife, the young Carol Kane (LOVE her in "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), into believing he can be the next Valentino:

"I am unique!!!"

And Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother ("That's SHEER LUCK!"):

I also loved "The Woman in Red" where he worked with his wife (and one of my comedy idols) Gilda Radner:

So when I met Gene Wilder a few years ago, it was magical! I was at an audition at Chelsea Studios, and I'd heard he was there, rehearsing a play. I saw him in the halls, followed about by a troupe of young men. His cast, I presume. But I didn't want to bother him, so I focused on my work, and when it was time, I got into line to go into the audition. I had set my music book down by the wall, and bent to retrieve it. When I stood up, there I was: face to face with Gene Wilder.

He smiled at me like he recognized me, which seemed impossible, and he said, "Well, hello!"

I smiled back, and said, "Hello!"

Then he was jostled off by his troupe.

I wish I could have said more.

I would've thanked him for all his great work, for inspiring me and countless others to bring their heart and humor to the table. I would've told him that he set the bar - HIGH - for any man who came into my life: Not only would they have to be passionate, they would have to be FUNNY.

I love a man who makes me laugh, and I am so fortunate to have found that in my husband, Rob.

So thank you, Gene Wilder. As Goldie Hawn wrote, "You are free to grace the heavens with your light that lifted us all."

Thank you.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Pageant Princess the Musical

A few weeks ago, I saw a post for an audition about a new musical that looked hysterical! "What if Christopher Guest's classic Waiting for Guffman and the reality TV show Toddlers and Tiaras had a musical love child in Texas? Pageant Princess the Musical, that's what!"

Unfortunately, the audition slots were all taken, but the creative team wrote back to me and asked if I could come anyway, because they'd love to try to fit me in. Well, they sure did, and we had a blast! I made it through all the callbacks and got the gig!

Fast forward to this week and last week where we've been in rehearsals for the truncated version of the show. Each musical has to be cut to 23 minutes to fit into New York New Works Theatre Festival, which is hosting 49 mini musicals in 9 days.

We perform Wed. Aug, 31st at 7 PM at The Elektra Theatre, where I last played Judy Garland and Janis Joplin, and Lady Godiva in Hell's Belles

This time I'm Miss Clarabelle, the judge of the pageant:

My brother says I look like our great-aunt Gladys, who was quite a lady, so I'm going to take that as a compliment. :)

Tickets are $23, and the address is 300 W. 43rd Street on the 2nd floor.

The show has some improv elements, so if anyone wants to enroll as a prince or princess, we'll be taking submissions at the door. I can't wait to see your glamour and glitz!

See ya at the Pageant!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dick Cavett's Watergate

Last night I caught "Dick Cavett's Watergate" on PBS, and it was fascinating!

I knew Cavett from my research on Janis Joplin. They had lovely interviews together - very charming and funny! - which I used as reference when I played her in Hell's Belles the Musical.

I also got to meet Dick Cavett when I sang for The Abingdon Theatre Company's annual gala a few years ago. He hosted the gala, which was in honor of actress Frances Sternhagen, and the two were very cute, clowning around:

Being in that same room with him, Frances, Cherry Jones, Nancy Opel... and getting to sing the opening song, "Swingin On a Star" as a solo... well, it was a magical night!

So coming back to last night, watching Dick Cavett dig into the Watergate scandal, it felt so important to understand this piece of history, especially as we navigate these tumultuous times.

Be tenacious in your quest for the truth.