Friday, March 30, 2012

Liliane Montevecchi!

Be happy for whatever you have, because if you are always seeking something you do not have, you are unhappy. One of my secrets is I never ask for something I cannot have.
-Liliane Montevecchi

Vendredi Heureux!

Yesterday, I discovered the sunniest spot in New York! Her name is Liliane Montevecchi! She is exquisitely French, like the finest vintage champagne. In her autobiographical one woman show Liliane captivates the audience the minute she steps on stage. 
She truly is a life force to be reckoned with.I have been a fan of hers since I saw her Tony award winning performance in the original Broadway production of Nine. I even had the honor of sharing the stage with her years ago at Marc Rosen's Birthday celebration at the 21 Club. I've only seen Liliane one other time on stage.
It was at the Papermill Playhouse's star studded production of Follies.

She has just returned from appearing on the road with both this year's Bistro Awards Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Kaye Ballard and Lee Roy Reams in the the musical review Doin' It For Love.
Lee Roy Reams, Kaye Ballard, and Liliane Montevecchi
She IS a Living legend, actress, dancer and diva, she is best known for her Tony Award-winning role in Tommy Tune's Nine and in Grand Hotel, Montevecchi's illustrious career spans four decades. Born in Paris, she joined Roland Petit Ballets as a prima ballerina at age 18, spent seven years under contract to MGM, appearing in movies opposite Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando and Fred Astaire, and more.
Her most recent film is How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, with Matthew McConaughey.

To sit and chat and laugh with her is something I will always cherish.
  Liliane Montevecchi is appearing at Feinstein's at Loews Regency in Hi, Darlings! Remember Me? on April 9, 2012 at 8 PM. Ticket prices are $25 and $40 for premium seating.
I will be there and I hope that ALL of my readers will join me!
Paris-born entertainer Liliane Montevecchi first put on ballet shoes at the age of 9. She is now a very proud 80 years young! I was shocked when she told me that. I wanted to rummage her closet to find her "Dorian Gray" portrait! She loves wearing that mantle. She says that because of her accent, when she announces that from the stage, everyone thinks she says she is eighteen, So now, she says she's seventy-nine and a half!  She will be celebrating her birthday on October 13th.

 I cannot wait to see Liliane at Feinstein's next month. I was excited to be  invited to Lilianne's "nest" yesterday to discuss her body of "worth" as I like to call it.

Liliane's mother wanted to be a ballerina. When Liliane expressed an interest in this, her mother encouraged her without being a "stage mother." Her mother gave her the freedom to pursue a career. 

When Liliane was 14, she had started dancing, went to her first audition, and she fell on the stage! They say when you fall on the stage, you will come back!In 2000, she returned headlining.

I asked Liliane if there was one person who had the greatest impact on her life. She says she doesn't know that one person has had an "impact".

There are many people that she admires. Two men who changed the course of Lilian's life were Roland Petit and Tommy Tune. Roland Petit made her a prima ballerina in his ballet company. Tommy Tune led her to her Tony Award in 1982.

Another break came one day when Liliane was singing in the bathroom!
She was in the chorus of the company and the head of the company asked her to come out and sing a song they needed sung in the show and that is how she became a prima ballerina.

Being around as long as she has, she readily admits that many of the people she has met along the way have passed on. In order to make your life long relationships work, she advises always being truthful and respectful. It's a divine combination

I asked Liliane about her thoughts on arts in education. She agrees, as I do, that it is important. Very sad that it has all become so political. Art is the most beautiful thing in the world. It is also truly the only universal language. Liliane admits that she did not have a huge educational background. "But here I am." She says she was a lazy student. During the war, when the sirens went off, she knew she would be going home. That she liked.

The advice she would give kids desiring to go into this business is "Discipline and work, work, work!" You ALWAYS have to be prepared. Never let yourself down. Liliane say she is always ready to go, she is never "fat", she is ALWAYS prepared to say "Yes". Now she says "No" when she desires to say no. She just received a new script to star in a new show in Paris.
It is pages after pages after pages of endless dialogue. She is really contemplating whether or not she wants to commit to such a huge project. As much as she would like to return to Paris with a new play, she is leaning towards not doing it. It's similar in nature to The Vagina Monologues as far as the set-up and structure of the show. It's three women on stage discussing different subjects. Liliane's subject is a farm woman and money. Liliane loves the contact with an audience, that human connection. Talk, talk, talk, blah, blah, blah does not interest her.

I touched upon the subject of Carol Channing receiving the Kennedy Center Honor this year and Liliane's thoughts on this. "Of course she deserves it because of her body of work." Liliane did told me that she did "Hello, Dolly!" in France! (She agreed to a second interview for my book!).

I asked how she chooses the material for her show. Her show came about because of Tommy Tune. He suggested after the success of Nine, that she do her own show. At first, she told Tommy that she was not a cabaret singer.  So together, they started choosing her songs. She went over it again and again. The show she will be doing at Feinstein's is pretty much that show with very minor changes. This was a show that had its premier at the now gone Kaufman THEATER on 42nd Street.

Her two biggest achievements, to her, were becoming a prima ballerina and winning a Tony Award which was very unexpected. She was very grateful and touched that the Tony voters had accepted her.

When I asked her what her greatest lows were and how she surpassed them. She told me she never had any lows. She ignores them.

The biggest change she would like to see in today's industry  is a more balanced "pay scale". Rock stars make millions when other artists are paid very little. Some get paid millions just for making an appearance when other artists are pouring their hearts out and are struggling to get paid. Some are getting paid so much to read tele prompters when others who work at their craft are underpaid. I am reminded of years ago when Larry Hagman was being paid $1,000,000 an episode for Dallas. When asked by one reporter, if he deserved to be paid that much answered, "Well, if they're crazy enough to give it to me, I'll be crazy enough to take it!"

I asked Liliane if she considered what she wears on stage to be regular clothing or costuming, she said in her act, because she chooses it, it is clothing. If she is playing a part, it is costuming.

When asked if she is happy at this point in her career, she answered that she is always happy and she is very grateful. She's got her health, she still looks great, and she can still lift her legs over her head! She is still working and has no desire to retire. However, she still misses her mother and dear friends that have passed away.
 I asked what she does to remain so positive and she answered that she doesn't know. She's in love with the future and she looks around and sees her fine life every day. Trees, flowers, and birds make her happy. She creates her happiness every where she goes. She gets up in the morning, she loves to read.
 She also loves to gamble. She told me she never takes the subway. HOWEVER, one day last week, she got up, took the number four subway to the last stop in the Bronx, Woodlawn Stop, took a bus, and went to Yonkers Raceway Casino, where she gambled the day away literally and figuratively!

 She didn't win anything, but she had a great day. Some days she takes the ferry to Staten Island just to be on the boat. There is always something to do. Go to a lecture, a gallery, anything. 

A genie pops out of a bottle and grants Liliane three wishes. Those three wishes for Liliane would be for her mother and those who have passed to once again be here for her. For her bones to be strong so that she doesn't break anything. The third would be to protect her friends from ill health and unhappiness.

Liliane's favorite song (she was only allowed to pick one) is  "Ne me quitte pas" (If You Go Away). She WILL be singing this at Feinstein's (hopefully to me!). 

I asked what she does to prepare for a performance. She said, "I drink a lot!" After we had a good laugh over this, she told me she was joking! She focuses on what she needs to do, she vocalizes, she warms up her body, her discipline of years as a ballerina. 

The next question comes from Marilyn Wick at Costume World," You create an iconic role. Do you hold on to a famed costume piece as a memento, or do you let it go to a museum for others to enjoy?" Liliane said, "Not at all! I don't hold on to anything.They are things. Let them go."
Liliane is one of the lucky ones. She has always made a living in the arts. She has never had a "survival job".
Please join me April 9th at Feinstein's to celebrate in person Liliane Montevecchi!

Roy Tan
 Press Contact for Liliane Montevecchi: Wayne J. Gmitter
Think Iconic Artists Agency
Phone: 917-209-1148


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!

Tomorrow's blog will be..Amra Faye!

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

  Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

Richard Skipper,
This Blog is dedicated to ALL ARTISTS: Past, present and future and the gifts they give to the world! I WANT YOU TO SUCCEED!

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