Sunday, August 12, 2012

Linda Purl: An Actor's Singer

"There is a certain immortality involved in theater, not created by monuments and books, but through the knowledge the actor keeps to his dying day that on a certain afternoon, in an empty and dusty theater, he casts a shadow of a being that was not himself but a distillation of all he had ever observed; all the unsingable heart song the ordinary man may feel but never utter, he gave voice to.   
And by that he somehow joins the ages. " 
Arthur Miller, The  Essays of Arthur Miller

Happy Sunday!
I hope you had a great week, an even greater weekend, and that next week even tops that! I’m very excited about my subject today. 
I have lived through many emotional nights with her. She probably did more movies of the week than anyone I know.

Linda Purl recently filmed recurring roles on True Blood and Homeland, and she has also been making plans - along with a fabulous team – to record a solo album this fall with a great group of musicians, including a guest appearance by Desi Arnaz Jr. on percussion. The CD will feature classic standards that conjure up the glow of swanky, smoky after-hours nightclubs the ’40s and ’50s, with great music that told stories of love and heartache, stories that entertained and healed and helped make sense of a changing and uncertain world.

Linda's show, with a working title of Midnight Caravan…Travels Through the Great New York Nightclubs, will open in New York City on September 30 at Feinstein’s at the Regency, where they will make the live recording. They’ll lay down tracks for songs such as “Easy Living,” “I Thought About You,” and “My Romance,” to name just a few. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Actors Fund.

You will get to experience all of this live when Linda appears next month at Feinsteins on September 30th. 

I already have my reservations! I hope that you will join me! Think you know Linda Purl? Think again! Today, I celebrate Linda Purl's Body of Worth!
It all began in Linda’s childhood living room. Linda’s father was a businessman, but both parents were artists at heart. They would do play readings. They went to the theater a lot. It was a huge part of this family’s glue and fun.
Linda grew up in Japan with an interest in the theater and could also speak the language. When a part came up for a little Western girl who spoke Japanese, Linda got it. There was nobody else. It started out as a fun thing for her and one thing led to another. 
She didn’t have an “epiphany” or a fabulous “aha” moment that many people have, a moment when they see the light and choose this path. 
For Linda, it was a gradual organic process.
Linda went from the living room to Japan and then to England to study her craft as well as in New York, then working in New York and Los Angeles. Then for a long stretch of time, she was only working in LA. She started working professionally at eighteen in earnest. Now, she seems to have come full circle with ample work on both costs.
Linda admits to me that she really doesn’t have a routine, a time when she works on her craft, but considers it a very good idea. 
It is an ongoing process and one of the things that has really helped Linda in that regard is the cabaret section of her career. She has autonomy. She goes out about once a month, sometimes more, to sing somewhere. That means she has to learn her new songs. She does her sit-ups, puts her lashes and pantyhose on, and get on that stage and throw caution to the wind. So, in that sense, she has found it very healthy, helpful, and a good discipline just to have the privilege of getting on stage with that kind of regularity.
Linda say’s it’s a wonderful life. It’s tough. It will disappoint you. It will take you around the world. 
It will give you the best friends in the world. It will give you the best education in the world.        
When Linda gets “stuck” in her career, she focuses on life.
The most embarrassing thing that ever happened to Linda on stage happened during a production of Romeo and Juliet. 
It was the “morning after” scene. “Juliet” discretely goes behind a draped curtain to change from this sheet that was wrapped around her. She made this quick exit behind a draped curtain. Linda’s business was to drop the sheet and slip into her dress. 
Just as she dropped the sheet, the curtain fell, and she was absolutely “starkers” to the audience. The audience got more than they bargained for that night! The audience knew in a moment what had happened and Linda heard a gasp from the audience that nearly sucked her and Romeo off the stage. The audience felt sorry for Linda. 

She had never experienced that much sympathy on stage before, even when “Juliet” dies, even when Romeo dies, not even both killing themselves! Nothing compared with the sympathy she felt when they came off the stage at the end.
What would Linda would tell her twenty-five year old self? Linda thinks this is a great question. She has a teenage son and what she is seeing so clearly now, with hindsight, is that the choices that he and his contemporaries are making at this stage in their lives, have long term trajectories. The choices that are made on any given Wednesday night, for example, whether or not to do their homework will play out years later. She would tell her twenty five year old self to make value based decisions. 

The one major change that Linda would like to see in this business is for the reality shows to be killed.       
The one person Linda would like to meet above all others is Obama. She would say to him, “Keep going.”
The work that she is most proud of is a movie of the week that she did many years ago called Like Normal People that she got to do with Shaun Cassidy. It is the true story of a mentally handicapped couple. They were remarkable people and very inspiring and Linda learned a lot from them.
Preparing for upcoming show at Feinstein’s, Linda listens to a lot of music. That is how they very gradually arrived at her song list for this CD and engagement. She listened to easily two hundred songs, maybe more. Because it is now a show and not just a CD, there is the matter of the dress! She has rifled through all kinds of images from fashion magazines to those wonderful glam coffee table books just to try and find a look that would also be comfortable. When she can, she also loves to go see other entertainers. She loves the art form of cabaret. 
She believes it is an unusual intimate form. 
She adores Christine Ebersole and Clint Holms on stage.   
Linda does not know how much she succeeds in reaching her audiences in today’s option filled world. What is she doing to combat that? Word of mouth, friends, Facebook, Twitter, whatever the particular venues reach for pulling in their own audiences and subscribers. She just pursues all avenues available.  
For my singer readers, Linda recommends apple cider vinegar, honey, and hot water and lemon when you are battling vocal issues. Mix it all together in a thoroughly disgusting potion.
When Linda is putting a show together, it is an emotional process for her. She doesn’t mean weepy emotional. She means going from your gut. Deborah Grace Winer, who run’s 92 Street Y’s Lyrics and Lyricists, among many other things, has worked with Linda, which Linda considers an extreme privilege. Rex Reed made that connection happen years ago. That’s how Linda met Miss Deb as she calls Debra. That was it. They became friends. She is so smart, so knowledgeable, and has such great taste. 
Linda asked Debra to help her. Debra, in turn, introduced Linda to Mark Waldrop. They became the three musketeers on this project.  As much as anything else and as much as Linda has enjoyed the work, part of the agenda is also having Debra and Mark in her life as her friends. She feels very fortunate on that front. They talk. They listen to a lot of music. They discuss why Linda is drawn to “that particular song” or what it seems to say or Mark or Miss Deb will find some chestnut. It is kind of a stew they are making.  
  Sing, sing, sing is how Linda prepares for her performances. Being in LA a lot of the time finds her in her car a lot of the time and that has become her rehearsal studio. Pilates and time at the gym is another part of the preparation so that she has more tools to play with. Your body is pulled into the process.
Maria Callas
There is a few singers that Linda wishes she had seen perform LIVE, Maria Callas. It’s her passion that touches Linda’s heart. 
Linda has to say that she did get to see Tyne Daly in Terrence McNally’s Master Class
It is one of my biggest regrets that I did not. Linda feels that that is the closest she will ever come to seeing Callas. Daly gave an extraordinary performance. One entertainer that Linda got to see live was Lena Horne. Alas, I missed that one as well! It is so many years later, now, but her brilliant one woman show, The Lady and Her Music still stays with Linda.   
Linda’s fondest memory is giving birth to her son.

Who would Linda like to see a future blog feature on?
Linda suggested Lee Lessack as the subject of an upcoming blog. Linda has done a lot of concerts with Lee and has spent a lot of time with him. She admires him. So do I! He is deeply entrepreneurial. In a world that is constantly changing. Lee has a life gift of propelling himself forward. He doesn’t just do it for himself. He takes other people with him, like Linda! He is generous and understands that it is not just show, it is business and vice versa. He’s got both going on. A man after my own heart.  Lee after you read this, call me!
Better yet, come to New York and join me at Feinstein’s on September 30th. Desi Arnaz will be on congas. It’s going to be silly, ridiculously, fun. Also, Ted Furth, Linda’s musical director, is a jazz genius. If people have not had a chance to hear him play live, you have no idea what you are missing. Linda considers her an actress first and then a singer. Tedd plays the subtext of the lyric in his music. He has it in his hands. Linda doesn’t know where it comes from, but he is an actor and singer’s musical director. Whether he likes it or not!
 Linda Purl with Special Guest Star Desi Arnaz, Jr. at Feinstein's at The Regency
Sunday, Sep 30, 2012:   6:00PM
Monday, Oct 01, 2012:   6:00PM
CLICK HERE for more info and to buy tickets.

Thank you Linda Purl for the gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating my forthcoming book on Hello, Dolly!

I want this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!

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If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
My next blog will be... My Exclusive interview with Richard Leppig (Gornelius Hackl, Dorothy Lamour Bus and Truck Tour of Hello, Dolly!)

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 THE DOLLYS and ANYONE who has EVER had a connection with ANY of them on ANY Level!

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