When I heard Michele Lee was bringing her cabaret show Nobody Does It Like Me, The Music of Cy Coleman to Bucks County Playhouse, in collaboration with the RRazz Room, I set my compass to provide Michele the perfect coordinates to talk about this show. But as usual, I took us slightly off-course first Knots Landing then to telling the Tale of the Allergist's Wife next to talking about the life lessons she's learned from the Cy Coleman songs she's performing, and then how she hopes to improve her life by one percent better. We even went on a shopping spree that will make you feel like you're on a housing makeover series!
Nobody Does It Like Me, The Music of Cy Coleman is part of "The Visiting Artist Series at Bucks County Playhouse," which will be presented on Friday, October 14 at Bucks County Playhouse at 8pm in New Hope, PA (70 South Main Street New Hope, PA 18938). Click here for tickets!
1. On Friday, October 14, you will be presenting your show Nobody Does It Like Me, The Music of Cy Coleman at Bucks County Playhouse in conjunction with the RRazz Room. What are you looking forward to most about bringing this show to New Hope? What do you get from performing your cabaret shows that you don't get from acting? Performing cabaret is a much more intimate experience with the audience for me. It's like inviting people into my living room and just having fun. I love to laugh. This show in particular is dear to my heart. Cy Coleman helped shape me as a singer and I have incredible memories of our time in our business. Great stories to tell.
2. You are launching the new collaboration between the RRazz Room and the Bucks County Playhouse. What does it mean to you to be the debut performer for this new joint venture between the two venues? Doing this show at Buck's County Playhouse is bringing back all the wonderful memories I have as a young actor in New York. I have watched the most brilliant actors doing wonderful works in the playhouse's hay day. And now to see it in all its glory again is emotional in so many ways.
3. Out of all the composers out there, why did you want to focus on the music of Cy Coleman? What is it about his music that resonates with you? Well, first of all he is a great and respected composer. His Broadway musicals are ours to keep for all time (SWEET CHARITY, BARNUM, WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, etc). I did a musical with him on Broadway in 1974, SEESAW, and we stayed friends through his lifetime. Many people don't realize that he was a jazz pianist and had a famous trio. He studied classical piano at four years old and splayed Carnegie Hall when he was 6!!!
4. One of the songs you will be performing is "Nobody Does It Like Me." What is something that nobody else does like you? I would say nobody belts out a song on Broadway the way I did when I was a kid on Broadway. When I first sang on THE TONIGHT SHOW they called me a young Ethel Merman. I've got the pipes to fill a theatre with sound...from the old school days, before actors wore microphones.
I don't know if NOBODY does this LIKE me, but I definitely give my all in every production I have ever worked in. Of course now my performance has changed. I use that big sound when I need it BUT...there is nothing like the warmth or pain in a ballad.
5. You are also going to be singing "It's Not Where You Start." What is something you've learned along the way that it doesn't matter where you start, there are different ways of getting to the end? Ah...this is truly a life lesson. And that doesn't necessarily mean financial success. I've learned that life is a series of learning, making mistakes, understanding them, and growing. So it's not where you start.
6. You will also be doing a medley of Cy Coleman songs that include "Big Spender" and "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life." What is something you just love to go shopping for? and Who is somebody or what situation have you laughed right out of your life? Doughnuts!!!! No seriously, I think I really enjoy shopping for accessories, furniture, and plants. I love to find the beauty in the small things.
My family is one that was taught from an early age to laugh. We do it well. Life is too short to be bitter, but tell that to a 20 year old. Eventually we learn how to mend fences, or love from a distance.
7. What strengths do you think you've gained from being a performer? What challenges do you still struggle with? How to trust the team I'm working with. Being good enough. Pleasing others. I just want to put on a great show and take people away from their worries for a few hours.
8. I can't do an interview without asking about these next shows. I'll divide them into two questions. One is Knots Landing which you spent 14 years on. It is so rare for a show to have a 14-year run these days. Looking back, what did you enjoy most about your time on the show? What do you wish you appreciated more about being on Knots Landing that you didn't at the time because you didn't have the life experience to appreciate it then? The gift of having a 14-year run and the stability of working in Los Angeles while raising my son. The friendships that developed through the show. The love shared between actors/creators/writers. When it was over it suddenly hit me how much I missed my character "Karen." It became very difficult to leave her.
- My purple lace bra
- My purple lace bra
- My purple lace bra
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I've always worked hard to keep myself in optimal health. I just added a hill to my daily walk. I get a little better at it every day.
Michele Lee has starred on Broadway, in feature and television films, performed in concerts and variety specials with legends of the entertainment industry. She is known worldwide for her Emmy-nominated role as "Karen Fairgate MacKenzie" in the landmark CBS series Knots Landing. (Knots is now the third-longest running prime time dramatic series in history). Michele appeared in all 344 episodes setting the American record for the greatest number of consecutive appearances by a leading actress in an hour-long prime-time dramatic series.
Michele's career began on the stage when discovered as a teen by producer David Merrick. At age 18, Michele starred in Bravo Giovanni with Metropolitan Opera's Cesare Siepe, which led to her breakout role as "Rosemary" in the original How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying opposite Robert Morse. In 1974 she starred on the Broadway stage in Michael Bennett's musical Seesaw. Her performance won her a Tony nomination, the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Award for Best Actress. In 2002 Michele completed her long run in Charles Busch's Broadway hit, The Tale of the Allergist Wife opposite Linda Lavin and Tony Roberts. For her performance as the mysterious and enigmatic "Lee Green" she earned rave reviews and a Tony nomination.
Michele has starred in and produced numerous films for television, including CBS's Emmy-nominated Big Dreams and Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story, When No One Would Listen, and Scandalous Me: The Jacqueline Susann Story. Other television films include Dark Victory, Bud and Lou and Neil Simon's Broadway Bound. In 1996, Michele became the first woman to produce, direct, co-write and star in a motion picture for television. Color Me Perfect made its debut as an "event presentation" on Lifetime Television. Michele and her film were honored with the prestigious Christopher Award, which recognizes works of art in literature, film and television that "affirm the highest values of the human spirit." Additionally, Color Me Perfect and Michele were honored with the Gracie Allen Award presented by the American Women in Television and Radio.
Michele was named the NATO Star of Tomorrow for her debut in the movie version of How to Succeed..., starred with Dick Van Dyke in Carl Reiner's cult classic The Comic and in the world-wide Disney favorite The Love Bug. She was last seen in Universal's Along Came Polly opposite Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston.
Michele opened her rave reviewed musical act at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York City and continues her concerts in performing arts venues across the country. Steven Holden of the New York Times declared, "Her show belongs to the old school of knock-'em-dead entertainment embodied by Liza Minnelli, Sam Harris and Patti LaBelle. Once you're on the stage, it isn't enough to seduce or enlighten; the only goal worth pursuing is total conquest." In January, 2010 Michele opened in New York in Love, Loss & What I Wore written by her favorite writer-director Nora Ephron and her sister Delia. Carnegie Hall followed in February with an evening performance with Michael Feinstein.
Much of Michele's time and talent are devoted to community endeavors. She co-founded and sits on the board of The Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) in the early '80's to bring the influence of the entertainment industry to bear on health and social issues. She is also a member of the Artists Committee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Michele was recently presented a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.