Call Redialed: Julie Halston: "Life, Death & Filler" at Broadway at Birdland
Julie HalstonI have interviewed Julie Halston multiple times over the years, but this NEW interview is truly the most heartfelt one we have done! Whether acting on stage or performing stand-up comedy, Julie knows how to get the laugh! But even the funniest people out there experience heartache and Julie recently experienced the worst heartbreak of them all - losing her mother, Julia Madeline Gardner Abatelli.
But like any performer, Julie is using her comedic talents to get through the grief. A staple in her one-woman comedy shows, Julie will be paying tribute to her mother in her new show Life, Death & Filler on Monday, November 20 at 7pm at Birdland (315 West 44th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) as part of Jim Caruso's Broadway at Birdland series. Click here for tickets!
Julie Halston, Photo Credit: Bill Westmoreland1. On November 20, you are returning to Birdland with your new show Life, Death & Filler. What can you tell us about this new show? Well it is a mix of new and old material but even the old material is a bit updated. I have a NEW Joan Crawford reading along with some oldies and it is all coming from the perspective of what I have experienced lately which is the death of my Mom and the addition of some new facial Botox! Because when your Mom dies it's good to get Botox! Grief causes lines – get rid of them!
2. What do you think will surprise fans about this show? I think what may surprise people about this show is that I am talking about death so openly – but epic topics are important to address and especially humorously.
3. I am LOVING the different posters you are using to promote the show. My favorite poster thus far is your homage to "What Becomes a Legend Most." How did you come up with the idea to use that campaign for this show? This photo was from an amazing shoot I did with Jim Caruso, Billy Stritch, Natalie Douglas and Klea Blackhurst a year or so ago for a magazine called BLEEP. Our photographer was the divine Bill Westmoreland. That photo came out and Jim immediately picked up on the Legend theme from the 1960's ads for Blackglama -- He created the ad -- It's HEAVEN and people LOVE IT!
Julie Halston4. Life, Death and Filler is your first show since losing your mother just a few months ago. Did you put this show together after her passing as a tribute to her or was this something you were working on prior? I definitely am using this show as a tribute to my Mom. My mother was hilarious without realizing it of course (the best kind). She just said the funniest things so as I said in my eulogy to her -- "Mom I'm NOT retiring you from the act!" I mean this was a woman who after seeing HAMILTON said, "Well it's not Cats but I loved the stagecraft." Crazy huh?
5. What do you think will be the hardest part about performing? How do you think performing will help you move forward with the mourning process? Performing is always hard in one sense because it takes ENERGY – especially Comedy which not only takes a great deal of energy but also PRECISION TIMING IS PRECISE! If you hit the wrong note in music, we will hear that -- It's the same in comedy -- The wrong note (timing) is hit and the laugh crashes.
Performing when you are down or sick or just low in energy is especially difficult -- HOWEVER, I have always found that even when I feel like I have nothing to offer, the audience enlivens me and it helps me to feel better emotionally and physically. Performing will definitely help me move through the mourning process. Also, my Mom loved the theatre very much so every time I get up on a stage, I can in a sense keep her alive!
Julie Halston's Mom, Julia Madeline Gardner Abatelli6. What do you miss most about your mom? What I miss most is calling my Mom and telling her what I’m working on next -- she just LOVED hearing about my work and I feel so sad I can't just call her and tell her my upcoming new gigs! (which I can't talk about yet)
7. Since the show is called Life Death and Filler: How do you approach life today since losing your mom? Did her passing change your thoughts about death? How will you "Fill" the time in between - meaning, what do you still want to accomplish that you haven't? What I still want to accomplish is so many things - Bigger roles, more complex roles, a house in CT (working on that) and some filler on my face (no joke). And of course losing that last five pounds. Getting older means it's getting harder to lose that middle age spread thing and its hideous. Call me deeply shallow but I simply MUST have a certain amount of glam in my life. And that means being a bit fitter and thinner. I'm not trying to fat shame anyone, just myself.
8. I do have a new segment to my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now" where I aim to clear up misconceptions about people. What do you think is the biggest misconception out there about yourself that you would like to clear the air about? I think because I have played some tough divas in my life so people think I might be a big ole diva bitch --- I pride myself on being a team player so that would be something I'd like people to know -- although don't cross me 'cos I am Half Sicilian!
Julie Halston, Photo Credit: Bill WestmorelandMore on Julie:
Julie Halston is one of New York’s busiest actresses. Well-known to theatre audiences, she was recently nominated for a Drama Desk Award for her critically acclaimed performance in You Can’t Take it With You. She was also singled out for her performance in Charles Busch’s The Tribute Artist, and for her performance as "Mother" in the Kennedy Center production of The Guardsman. She has appeared in many Broadway and off-Broadway productions including Anything Goes, Hairspray, Gypsy, The Twentieth Century, (Outer Critics Circle Nomination), The Divine Sister (Drama Desk Nomination), Love Loss and What I Wore, and numerous others. Julie was a founding member of Charles Busch’s now legendary theatre company, Theatre- in-Limbo and has co-starred with him in over ten productions including Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, The Lady in Question, Red Scare on Sunset (Drama Desk Nomination), Shanghai Moon and Olive and The Bitter Herbs.
In addition to theatre, Julie is known to television audiences as "Bitsy Von Muffling" from the smash hit Sex and The City, "Tina Carmello" from The Class and to younger audience members as "Antigone Carruthers" from The Electric Company. Although primarily an actress, Julie has won awards for the solo comedy pieces which she has performed all over the US including Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York. Her SRO solo show was extended five times at NY’s famed Birdland Jazz Club. CBS developed a TV pilot based on her one-woman show, Julie Halston’s Lifetime of Comedy, which she wrote and starred in for over six months off-Broadway. She received an Outer Critics Circle Nomination for her writing. Along with co-author, Donna Daley, she wrote the critically acclaimed book, Monologues for Show-Offs, published by Heinemann Press. It is currently being used by many casting directors, acting teachers and universities as an important resource for actors and is now being developed as a dramatic piece. Her most recent essay, The Greatest Thing I Never Did was chosen to appear in the book, No Kidding, featuring some of America’s funniest women writers. Julie was the recipient of the 2013 Nightlife Award for Outstanding Comedy Performer.