Joel Grey Performs in Ridgefield
Legendary actor talks about his career, Jennifer Grey and Alan Cumming
“Money makes the world go around…” sang Joel Grey in his iconic Tony and Academy Award winning role as the lascivious Master of Ceremonies in the play and movie “Cabaret.” Many years–and many stage, movie and TV performances later–he sang “Mister Cellophane should have been my name...” in Broadway’s long running hit “Chicago” impressively transforming himself into the meek character of Amos Hart.
Area residents will have a chance to hear Grey perform these and other famous songs, as well as, listen to him discuss his decades long career in a one night only performance at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Friday, February 19, 2016 at 8pm.
**Exclusive for Townvibe readers, a chance to win two tickets to see Joel Grey perform at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Friday, Feb. 19 at 8pm. To enter just "like" the Facebook post about him. ––A Winner has been selected.
I had the chance to speak with Joel Grey, and after gushing a bit, I had the opportunity to ask a few questions:
Having played the Master of Ceremonies in “Cabaret” in the play and movie, what was the difference between the two?
The play was the original experience of Nazi Germany and Berlin and it was shocking and its going to have its 50th Anniversary in November. The good part is you get to be part of something that becomes part of a history, it is exciting. And then the movie took some of the best things in the play and then Bob Fosse musicalized it and changed the shape which is exactly what was needed. He made a great movie and I was lucky enough to be in both.
How did you get the role in Cabaret?
Hal Prince, who directed the musical, had seen me in a few things and we became friends. He called me one day and said we’re doing this musical and I think there’s a good part for you. (Laughs!)
Is it true that your were having trouble getting into the character and it came to you in a dream?
Yes, yes while I was rehearsing the night before we finished the rehearsal in New York on our way to tryouts in Boston. I had a dream about something that reminded me of something that I saw in my lifetime that gave me the shape of that character.
Your father was in Vaudeville, is your background in Vaudeville?
I came after Vaudeville but I was working in nightclubs and theaters doing a song and dance act for about 10-12 years. I was miserable the whole time because my dreams were anchored in doing theater and it seemed at that time that being a song and dance man was not serious enough for the people who choose people for Broadway shows. There was a kind of prejudice that finally meant nothing and now is totally the opposite.
Do you have a favorite Broadway show of yours?
Actually I do. I have two favorites, one Broadway and one Off-Broadway. The Broadway one is obviously “Cabaret” and the Off-Broadway was at the Public Theater and I played Ben Weeks in "The Normal Heart." And then I directed it 20 years later for a one-night benefit.
Did you like directing?
I loved it. Then I directed it again on Broadway along with George Wolf and we were nominated for a (2011) Tony. I really feel lucky and grateful.
You and Alan Cumming (the TV’s “Good Wife” star played the Master of Ceremonies in the revival of “Cabaret” in 1998) did the W
Yes we did. We opened a show at the Kennedy Center honoring Kander and Ebb the writers of "Cabaret." Rob Marshall staged this great number for the two us.
Do you like what Alan Cumming did with the part?
The whole production had a very different take on the material, which is its right, and people love it. But it is quite different from what we did in the first place but then probably needed to be a after that many years.
Your book “Master of Ceremonies” is coming out on February 16, did you enjoy writing it?
It was a very challenging time to sit and reminisce and relived a lot difficult times and challenges in my live but it also gave me a perspective of how strong I was…and am.
Did you help your daughter Jennifer Grey with her dancing?
No, she helps me! She went way beyond me in the dance department. She is phenomenal. I couldn’t believe what she did on “Dancing with the Stars.” (She won.) I was actually really impressed with the movie “Dirty Dancing” and what she did in that. She used to take ballet but none of us ever knew she could do what she ended up doing.
You do photography.
Yes, I have 4 books that have been done in the last 11 years and I'm working on the fifth. I describe my style as Hyper-Observant.
What should people expect to see at your show at the Ridgefield Playhouse?
The show is a conversation like the TV show “Inside The Actor's Studio.” Also I will sing and there will be a Q&A with the audience. I hope you will come.
You bet I will!