Friday, March 22, 2013

Pamela Kalt: Irene Molloy, Carol Channing Tours of Hello, Dolly ’81 and ‘82

Pamela Kalt today with one of her students (Courtesy: Pamela Kalt)
A classically trained musician in piano and voice, PAMELA KALT has been teaching solo piano since her graduation from SUNY Fredonia (B.A. Applied Music), where she studied with Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, acclaimed author, concert pianist and recording artist, the late Claudette Sorel.

Pamela Kalt started out on the Ed Sullivan Show as one of the Ed Sullivan singers his last two seasons on TV. From there, she cut her teeth at Radio City Music Hall as one of the New Voices of ’74. From there, she was lucky; she started to get jobs in theater: summer stock, regional, and her first Broadway effort was Hello, Dolly’s rival for longevity, The King and I. This was the 1977 revival.  Pamela was cast as the understudy to Tuptim.She was also in the chorus.  She was with the show for one year. During that time, she was asked to understudy Constance Towers. She understudied her for six months. From there, she started getting leading parts in shows. Her chorus days were over “which was a nice thing.” She paid her dues. She played Magnolia in Showboat with Forest Tucker and Butterfly McQueen at The National Theater in Washington, DC. She played Hodel in Guber and Gross’ summer tour of Fiddler on The Roof starring Theodore Bikel. She played Oh, Coward at the Cohoes Music Hall in New York and The Drunkard at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Florida.
(Courtesy: Pamela Kalt)
Then, Hello, Dolly came along.
It was not a show that she ever thought she would be in. She wasn’t sure if she was right for it. She had never even seen it, as a matter of fact. She knew the music. It just happened to be one of the auditions she went to thanks to her agent. She auditioned for director Lucia Victor and musical conductor, Terry LaBolt.  They were only concerned that she might not handle the comedic aspects of Irene Molloy very much. After a while, she proved to them that she could handle it. 
Pamela luckily got it and it turned out to be one of the loveliest experiences of her career. She compares it to her Broadway experience with The King and I which was not always a happy experience backstage for various reasons that don’t need to be discussed here! Yul Brynner was not a well man at that time and was not very happy. He was in a lot of pain and was “cranky” sometimes. His misery created a trickledown effect to the entire company. Hello, Dolly was just the opposite.
There aren’t that many people who haven’t seen Dolly. It is such a warm feel good show. It was also a complete “love-in” with the cast. People also loved to watch Carol Channing as Dolly. She IS larger than life. Word of mouth contributed to people going time and time again to see it. Different generations also saw Carol do it over a thirty year period.
The entire company was enjoying it so much. It was summertime. Once they got settled in, it was fun to meet Jerry Herman. It was such a wonderful thing and he was a lovely person. He was kind, sweet, and so generous. 
He was very much hands on with that production. He was at most of the theaters they played.
Pamela appeared with Carol Channing for her ’81 tour of Hello, Dolly and most of her 82 tour as Irene Molloy. Her Cornelius Hackl was the late Patrick Quinn. There were two Horaces, Max Showalter in the summer of 81 and Tom Batten in the summer of 82. The summer of ’81 was a stock tour. They did Valley Forge, Latham, Westbury, among other cities. It stopped and regrouped again the following summer. That became more of a National tour. This tour started in Dallas and many of the chorus members were picked up there. They continued with the tour.
The major change was from Showalter to Batten.  
She had an arrangement whereby she wasn’t going to do the summer 82 tour beyond Los Angeles. She can’t remember where they started, but she does remember playing Dallas and Seattle, Carol Channing’s birthplace. They then went on to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in LA where she dropped out of the show. The National tour continued without her. The reason she dropped out was because she was already scheduled to sing with the Cincinnati Opera. She did stay throughout the summer. The Dorothy Chandler was a great homecoming for Carol. Her FIRST national tour officially started here. This was a big deal for her.  A lot of Carol’s friends were going to be there for that opening and she desired consistency with no upsets for that particular city. She didn’t want any cast changes.
Her agent worked it out so she could leave to fulfill her obligations. Carol was really insistent that Pamela be in LA with the cast. Some shows are deep and unsettling. They churn the audiences up. Hello, Dolly is gentle and sweet. It has a beautiful message which Pamela frankly did not know it had when she started rehearsals. It grew on her. It was also such a wonderful cast. That can’t always be said about a show experience. Some people don’t get along, things like that backstage. Everyone got along; they had a wonderful time. It was glorious. The show went very well. They were received very well. On opening night, Patrick Quinn brought Pamela over to Rock Hudson. Rock Hudson then introduced Pamela to Elizabeth Taylor. She looked up at Pamela with those violet eyes. Dick Van Dyke was another among the celebrity packed room.
When it comes to Carol Channing, there should not be an age limit on Dolly Levi!
There wasn’t much interaction with Carol and Pamela off stage. There was one incident in which Carol called Pamela into her dressing room. She was in her dressing robe sans wig. Pamela got to see how beautiful she was, “really beautiful, a natural beauty” which people rarely saw because of the heavy make-up and wigs. It was really delightful to see her “off guard” and casual and Pamela enjoyed that.
That first summer, they all ended up at the Kennedy Compound. It was an unbelievable experience for the company. They were invited to Sargeant and Eunice Shriver’s home for brunch. They had done a benefit for the Special Olympics which Carol Channing was very involved with. 
They all ended up on the sailboat. Some of them didn’t have sea legs and turned quite green. They all dressed up to go to this brunch. The Shrivers ended up ransacking their closets for sailing attire for everyone. As soon as their sailing experience was over, there was a mad dash for phone booths to call their families to share their excitement. 
It was a memorable day and par for the course in working with Carol Channing.

Pamela is now far removed from those days. Her perspective, however, on her time with Dolly has not changed. 
She understood how wonderful it made people feel. The message was/is to get back into life. 
Dolly has this relationship with her deceased husband. She receives messages from him to stop the mourning period and rejoin the human race and to live life to the fullest. That has stayed with Pamela. 
It is part of her now. She is very grateful she did that show. It was a lovely experience.
Deborah Jean Templin as Dolly
Beyond Carol Channing's Dolly, the only other Dollys that Pamela has seen is the movie and Deborah Jean Templin at the Walnut Street Theater  directed by Frank Anzalone.

Of course, the movie is very different. It is a good movie and she liked it, but she is partial to the show she did. Pamela did not see any of Carol’s subsequent revivals. She loved Deborah Jean Templin in the role and thought she was perfectly lovely. She got it.

Pamela doesn’t know who she would like to see play Dolly in a revival, but it wouldn’t be Patti LuPone! She loves her but doesn’t feel she would choose her for Dolly. She doesn’t know why!
The highlight for Pamela was getting to sing Ribbons Down My Back. She also loved the courtroom scene and singing It Only Takes a Moment with Patrick Quinn. There were no low points.
Patrick Quinn (
Pamela was/is one of Patrick’s biggest fans. He was a wonderful performer and friend. He was a wonderful singer, a good actor and he was a great Cornelius. He had the energy of ten people. He was a body in motion at all times. He was constantly performing practical jokes backstage and loved to make people laugh. He also had his serious moments. He was just a joy to work with. He was a great co-star. He used to say to Pamela, “Pick up that dress!” He was always running behind her going offstage and a few times they did it in theater in the round, especially in Hyannis. She had a dress that he was worried about tripping over.
Max Showalter was another great person. He was just the best. They don’t make them like that anymore. He was a great veteran of stage and film. In the movies, he was billed as Casey Adams in Niagara.
Tom Batten also was a well established actor. He was a different type of Horace. He was quite good. He was also wonderful to work with, no problems at all.

ORIGINAL production
It was a difficult thing to leave this company. Everybody treated her so nicely. The chorus kids sent more love to her than she has ever experienced on any other project. She loved them to. It was a mutual admiration society. They had a big party for her at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. They presented her with gifts. While she was in Cincinnati, they continued to write to her. 
She had never had that happen before.
She did not maintain a relationship with Carol after this. Carol gave her a silver Tiffany dish that said “Carol Loves Pamela.” It still sits on Pamela’s desk in her living room. That meant a lot to Pamela.
She had only a week before starting work in Cincinnati. She immediately started working on arias. She was actually a little behind when she got there and had to work extra hard.
Courtesy Pamela Kalt
Pamela is no longer in the business but she is working harder than she ever has. She now has a piano studio and teaches piano. That was actually her major in University. There are times when she does miss the business. She hears the music that she has sung in her career all the time. It is either on television or on the radio. Wherever it is, she is so fortunate that she had so much beautiful music to sing.
The music, playing Irene Molloy, the songs she sang, the people she got to interact with, being in a show with Carol Channing, and all that that meant; coming in contact with the people she knew, watching her and learning from her. Watching how she did it time and time again at not exactly a young age with the energy she utilized was a real education. She was a gracious performer and gave great curtain speeches. She was tireless. Pamela did get to see how she husbanded her energy so that she could do what she did. She showed what a TRUE professional does. They don’t party all the time. They keep quiet. They go to their room. They do what they have to do to be able to get out there and do the right thing for their audience. Pamela Kalt learned a lot from Carol Channing and Hello, Dolly!  

Thank you Pamela Kalt for the gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give!

 With grateful XOXOXs ,

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Lee Roy Reams is doing a rare evening at 54 Below on April 3rd! 7PM.This show WILL sell out so RESERVE TODAY! Maitre D' 
Reservations: (646) 476-3551. To purchase tickets visit or call (866) 468-7619 54 Below - 254 W 54th St, Cellar - New York, NY

Carol Channing. Juliet Prowse. Gwen Verdon. Bob Fosse. Richard Rodgers. Lauren Bacall. Gower Champion. Those are just a few of the legendary performers about whom you'll hear loving tales when Broadway royalty Lee Roy Reams steps onto our stage for one special performance only. His ten Broadway credits run the gamut from Sweet Charity, Applause, Lorelei, Hello, Dolly and 42nd Street to La Cage aux Folles, Beauty and the Beast and The Producers. In Song & Dance Man, expect tunes from those hits (including Lullaby of Broadway, Put on Your Sunday Clothes and 42nd Street), to gems such as Pretty Women and Real Live Girl. Come get the theatrical tales from a fellow who was there to see it all, from Dolly's lashes to Billy Lawlor's well worn tap shoes.

Please call me if any questions! I hope to see you on April 3rd!

Richard Skipper 845-365-0720

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 Nick Ziobro:  2012 Winner of the Great American Songbook High School Vocal Competition currently on tour with Michael Feinstein.

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

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

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Richard Skipper Celebrates

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1 comment:

  1. Great blog, Richard. Always upbeat, informative, and most importantly, positive!