I’m an Italian and my emotions are just under my skin…. There’s just a purity and rawness in her singing that goes straight to my heart and my gut and it always has. There’s such expression in her voice.
I grew up on Long Island … and they used to show old movies on television at 10 and 1 o’clock. I saw Busby Berkeley musicals and Bette Davis movies. Davis wasn’t the most beautiful actress but she was the most courageous at the time. I was maybe 8 or 9 years old when I first saw her. I used to cut school and feign illness just to see Davis. My mother never knew this because she was off at work.
We started working together in 1976. I learned more from acting for him than four years at Juilliard. There’s a simplicity and paring down, a stripping away of control. I love it when he directs me because it’s his material.
He’s a task master when it comes to pitch and what is considered Broadway singing — no bending of the note, no swooping. I was in “Company” this year at the New York Philharmonic — at the after-party, he gave me a note and I wanted to smack him. Well, I didn’t want to smack him. But this was two hours after the production closed…. Basically, [he said] I was slurring two words and that I recovered. It’s his music and his lyrics so of course he’s going to notice…. It takes a lot of concentration and discipline to sing him as written. When I see musicals in New York today, I usually don’t know if I’m watching “American Idol” or a Broadway performance. It should be as precise as an operatic aria.
Photo: Viva Vivanista – photo by Rob Rich © 2011 robwayne17aol.com