"Call Me Adam" chats with MAC and Bistro Award winner Scott Coulter about directing Here She Comes Again: 54 Below Does Dolly Parton on July 27 at 9:30pm. This very special evening will feature the music of the legendary Dolly Parton as 54 Below (254 West 54th Street - cellar) pays homage to the talents of a woman who literally changed pop and country music forever. Click here for tickets!
In addition to Scott, featured performers include Lisa Asher, Carole J. Bufford, Tim DiPasqua, Natalie Douglas, Alex Getlin, Mary Lane Haskell, Jessica Hendy, Lisa Howard, Fay Ann Lee, Lucia Spina, Gabrielle Stravelli, and KT Sullivan.
1. On Sunday, July 27 at 9:30pm, you are directing Here She Comes Again: 54 Does Dolly Parton. What made you want to direct an evening of Dolly Parton music? I have always loved Dolly Parton. I was raised in Tennessee (grew up in Nashville) and country music has always meant a lot to me. For my money it's the only music (outside of Broadway) being written today that still focuses on melody and story and of all the country music songwriters Dolly reigns supreme.
2. For over 40 years, Dolly Parton has been entertaining audiences with her music. How did you decide which songs you wanted to feature? The thing I love about Dolly is that while she is a world-famous, iconic entertainer, it's her songwriting that truly sets her apart. In picking songs for the show I tried to choose material that showcased that fact. She's really an underappreciated master songwriter so while "9 to 5" is represented so is a perfect gem like "Down from Dover" which tells the heartbreaking story of a pregnant teenage girl waiting for her lover to return. It's an incredible song.
3. Why is 54 Below the perfect venue for your evening of Dolly Parton music? What does the space offer that another one might not? 54 Below is intimate and elegant and contemporary all at the same time. Dolly's songs are really musical stories and they are going to play beautifully in the space.
4. What excites you most about directing this evening and what challenges do you think you might face as the director? I'm most excited about having some of Dolly's biggest hits presented or heard in a new way. For example, "Jolene" is being sung by Fay Ann Lee, an incredible Asian-American actress. The song is about a woman begging her rival to leave her man alone. The lyric says the singer can not compete with Jolene whose
I think the idea of Fay singing this song will impact the song in a new way. And Fay's version is chilling.
5. How has Dolly Parton and her music influenced your own music? Well I've always been drawn to story songs and songs that take the audience on some sort of emotional journey. Dolly's music does just that.
6. Which Dolly Parton song speaks to you the most? Well, I must say I have always loved "I Will Always Love You." It's so simple and so right. And for me Dolly's version is -- and alway will be -- the best. I love me some Whitney but Dolly owns this song. I also really love "Down from Dover." That's such a killer song.
7. How did you pick the performers you wanted to par take in the evening? Who did you want to be part of this evening that wasn't available? The very first call I made was to Carol Hall who wrote The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I asked her to come sing "Hard Candy Christmas" and was very sorry to hear that she'd be away the night of the concert. I am a HUGE fan of Carol Hall. In fact, to this day the only fan letter I've ever written was to her.
Everyone else I asked said 'yes' so I'm a lucky guy. I asked a bunch of fiercely talented vocalists who know how to tell a story. That's what you need for an evening of Dolly Parton.
8. Since you are directing Here She Comes Again: 54 Does Dolly Parton, what do you get from directing that you do not get from singing/songwriting? What made you want parlay into directing? I guess I've been directing almost as long as I've been singing. I stared singing around four or five and directing shows for the neighborhood kids around six or seven. To me they've always gone hand in hand. I truly believe that every song is a story and it's up to the singer to make sure that story is being told. That's what a director does too. Plus, I like to arrange all the songs musically so I stick my hands in everywhere.
9. Who or what inspired you to become a singer/songwriter? I've just always been singing -- as long as I can remember. And my favorites have always been the ladies: Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, Olivia Newton-John, Donna Summer, Barbra Streisand, Julie Andrews, Linda Ronstadt, Whitney Houston, Oleta Adams, Bette Midler, Trisha Yearwood, Wynona Judd. God, that says a LOT about me, huh? I love them all though. They taught me how to sing. I sang along with them note for note, phrase by phrase.
10. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Dolly Parton. :) And I do love Trisha Yearwood and Wynona Judd.
12. What have you learned about yourself from being a singer/songwriter/director? I've done a lot of teaching over the last few years and I love it. I get to work with young performers -- late teens, early twenties -- a lot and I get excited by the journeys they are taking or are about to take. It reminded me of the path I took to get to where I am and how everything you do leads to the next thing, the next step. It's really amazing for me to look back and trace how I got from there to here. And most of it had to do with saying 'yes' time and time again.
From being a singer I've learned what a gift it is to be able to touch someone and move them in an honest genuine way. Music is such a healing force and I'm happy to be able to share in musical experiences.
13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I would love to fly. For me that's what singing is like and I would love to fly up, up and away.
14. How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as someone who smiled a lot -- and who loved to sing.
For his work in cabaret, Scott Coulter was awarded both the 2001 Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs (MAC) Award, as well as the 2001 Bistro Award for Outstanding Male Vocalist. He received a 1997 Bistro Award for the revue Get Your Tickets Now! and his debut solo show won the 1998 MAC Award for Male Debut. Time Out New York picked Coulter’s Unexpected Songs as one of the "Best of 1999." Coulter’s self-titled debut CD won the 2003 MAC Award for Outstanding Recording and was chosen as the best recording of the year by Scott and Barbara Siegel of Theatre Mania and Jeff Rosen of Cabaret Scenes magazine. He won two 2007 Nightlife Awards including Outstanding Male Vocalist. Scott has appeared at Town Hall in the 1949, 1953, 1954, 1962, 1964, and 1968 editions of the popular Broadway by the Year series and can currently be heard on the Bayview recordings of the 1949, 1953 and 1962 performances. Other Town Hall appearances include Sentimental Journey: The Songs of World War II, From Brooklyn to Hollywood, All That Jazz: A Tribute to Kander & Ebb, and the critically acclaimed Broadway Uplugged. Since 1997, Scott has performed around the country with award-winning songwriting duo Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich in their many revues and tours, and with composer Stephen Schwartz, Liz Callaway, and Debbie Gravitte in the revue Stephen Schwartz & Friends. Scott toured the U.S. as "Jinx" in Forever Plaid and was in the world premiere of Floyd Collins, directed by Tina Landau at the American Music Theatre Festival. His regional theatre credits include Into the Woods, In Trousers, Cotton Patch Gospel, Pump Boys and Dinettes, and As Bees in Honey Drown.
He has directed many shows for the Town Hall in New York, and along with Michael Kerker and ASCAP, has produced Michael Feinstein’s Standard Time at Carnegie Hall. He is a graduate of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.