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|
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!
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.
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.
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!"
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!
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!
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Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com