On Saturday, September 12, New York City’s Metropolitan Room will present “The Music of Madeline Kahn” as part of its “Gone Too Soon” series. Produced by Joseph Macchia and directed by Peter Napolitano, the tribute will feature music from just about every phase of Madeline’s career. I’ll be the host, and afterward I’ll be signing copies of Madeline Kahn: Being the Music • A Life. Because this book hasn’t required me to do nearly enough crazy things yet.
So far, the cast includes several of Madeline’s colleagues:
• Walter Willison and Joan Copeland, co-stars of Two by Two, the Richard Rodgers–Martin Charnin musical in which Madeline had a featured role (1970–71). After our event at the Drama Book Shop in June, Joan took me and a friend aside and sang her solo from Two by Two: she’s 93 now, and believe me, you’re in for a treat.
• Michael Cohen, music director of the revues Madeline performed at the Upstairs at the Downstairs club (1965–67). He’s also the composer of the brilliant Weill parody, “Das Chicago Song.” I wrote about Michael’s opera here.
• Lawrence Leritz, who started as a Madeline fan and later worked with her when he guest-starred on Cosby (1999).
I interviewed all of these people for Madeline Kahn: Being the Music • A Life, of course, and Lawrence and Walter (who was pretty much on 24-hour call for seven years to provide me with his memories and advice) were especially helpful to me. Having them along for this ride is a tremendous comfort to me — besides which, they’re terrific performers.
We’ll also feature performers inspired by Madeline. From Broadway, Ann Harada, of Avenue Q, Cinderella, and TV’s Smash; and Sarah Rice, the original Joanna in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. I wrote about Ann’s wonderful show Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve here, and about Sarah’s beautiful Ivor Novello tribute here.
From opera, sopranos Janice Hall and Rosa Betancourt. I’ve written often about Janice and her fascinating career, which also encompasses cabaret and spoken theater — here, here, here, here, and here (for starters). And Rosa was the marvelous Musetta in Fort Worth Opera’s La Bohème in 2013.
And from cabaret, Adam Shapiro, Hanna Burke, Minda Larsen, and Julie Feltman. Adam and Julie have knocked my socks off in everything I’ve seen them do — and I’m looking forward to getting to know Hanna and Minda, about whom people rave. (In the good way.) I note that Hanna is working up a Madeline Kahn tribute of her own, and that Minda — in addition to winning the Metrostar competition recently — was a finalist in the Lotte Lenya Competition not long ago. They’re obviously my kind of people. Our music director is Jeff Cubeta, who has quickly earned a reputation for being able to tackle any kind of music — just the guy we need!
Doors open at 3:30, and the show starts at 4:00. The Met Room is a terrific venue, and you can make your reservation by clicking on this link or by calling (212) 206-0440.
Please join us! For one thing, Joel Grey, Madeline’s co-star in Marco Polo Sings a Solo (1977) just called to say that he’s finishing his memoir and won’t be able to participate. This means I’ll be the only Emcee in the room. Oh, well. That’s show biz, kids.