From 1966-1974, Kurt Peterson and Victoria Mallory were creating theatrical history during this golden age of theatre. They would then not speak for 35 years. Reuniting for one night only, April 29, 2012, at New York City Center in "When Everything Was Possible," this is the story of Victoria Mallory and Kurt Peterson in the present but also the story of New York, 1966 -’74, the last gasp of the golden age of the American Musical, when everything was possible. Following their inner music, two kids came to the biggest city in the world and went to work. They didn’t want to be famous - they wanted to be good. Along the way they sang for Noel Coward, with Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein; hung out with Liz and Dick; sat in the Oval Office and the Apollo capsule; flew the Lunar Lander and crashed on the faux surface of the Moon. And in the summer of ’68, as the world flew apart, these two unknowns held court at the State Theatre at Lincoln Center, captivating audiences as "Tony" and "Maria" in "West Side Story." Together with the talented gangs of "Jets" and "Sharks" they made a statement about the world’s bigotry and violence in a way that only words, music and dance can. They worked, lived, grew close, grew up, made mistakes and finally…parted. 35 years would pass until they would meet again, and they found they still had a few things left to say - and sing.
On, Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 7:30pm at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues), James William Productions and Stephenie Skyllas will present "Kurt Peterson andVictoria Mallory in When Everything Was Possible, A Concert (with comments)" for one night only as a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Click here for tickets!
Victoria Mallory made her Broadway debut when Richard Rodgers and Leonard Bernstein chose her to star as Maria in the first revival of "West Side Story" at Lincoln Center. She went on to play "Lili" in City Center’s revival of "Carnival." For Harold Prince and Stephen Sondheim,Victoria originated the roles of "Young Heidi" in "Follies" and "Anne Egerman" in "A Little Night Music." She also re-introduced and first recorded Stephen Sondheim songs in "Sondheim - A Musical Tribute" and in "An Evening of Stephen Sondheim" at The Whitney Museum. Victoria has starred in the nation’s major theatres including Los Angeles Civic Light Opera, Pittsburgh CLO, St. Louis MUNY Opera, Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars, Kansas City Starlight, Dallas Summer Musicals, Utah’s Pioneer Theatre, and the Irish Rep in NYC, in roles as diverse as "Christine/Carlotta" in "Phantom," "Magnolia" in "Show Boat," "Kate" in "Kiss Me Kate," "Marian" in "The Music Man," "Lily" in "The Secret Garden," "Sarah" in "Guys and Dolls," "Maria" in "The Sound of Music" and "Abigail" in "1776." Television audiences know Victoria as the concert pianist, "Leslie Brooks" from the CBS daytime drama, "The Young and The Restless" and "Dr. Denise Foxworthy" on NBC’s "Santa Barbara." Other TV credits include guest starring roles on "Everwood," "Touched By An Angel," "Promised Land," the female lead in the made-for-television movie "The Unabomber," and three CBS musical specials: "The Emperor’s New Clothes," "Aladdin," and "After Hours." She received an Emmy nomination for "Singin’, Swingin, and All That Jazz." Victoria has been a professional director/choreographer for productions including "The Wizard of Oz," "Joseph…," "Side by Side by Sondheim," and "Yours, Anne," and choreographer for "Oliver," "Nuncrackers," "Mr. Popper’s Penguins," and "A Village Fable." Victoria is a founding member and teacher at The Voice Studio. Most recently, she was seen in "A Child’s Christmas in Wales" at the Irish Repertory Theatre. Victoria is slated to star in the new Broadway musical, "In the Summer of ’68," in 2013. For more on Victoria be sure to visit http://www.victoriamallory.com.
Kurt Peterson began his career when Leonard Bernstein and Richard Rodgers chose him to play "Tony" in the revival of "West Side Story" at Lincoln Center. On Broadway he starred opposite Angela Lansbury in "Dear World" and created the role of "Young Ben" in Stephen Sondheim’s "Follies." Off-Broadway Kurt starred in "Dames at Sea" and "By Bernstein," and appeared in the Town Hall productions of "Knickerbocker Holiday," "Music in the Air," and "I Married an Angel." Kurt starred opposite Patti LuPone in the Broadway-bound "The Baker’s Wife." He also starred in the highly acclaimed Canadian premiere of "Company" and Rob Marshall’s production of "Side By Side By Sondheim." Kurt was featured in the 75th birthday celebrations "Wall to Wall Sondheim" and "Children & Art" honoring Stephen Sondheim and has performed as a leading man in many productions around the country and in Europe. Kurt and his company, James William Productions (JWP), produced the acclaimed "Sondheim–A Musical Tribute," the first celebration of America’s foremost composer/lyricist, helped launch the NY and London productions of Angela Lansbury’s "Gypsy," produced the live tours of WPIX-TV’s classic children's show "The Magic Garden," and the National Tour of Rob Marshall’s innovative "Side By Side By Sondheim." Recent projects include co-producing the New York productions and National Tour of the Stephen Schwartz family musical "Captain Louie," the Off-Broadway production of the play "Capture Now," directed by Larry Moss, and the BC/EFA benefit "Alone At Last" featuring the music of Ian Herman. JWP is currently represented by the Helen Hayes and Drama Desk Award winning play, "Zero Hour," about theatre legend Zero Mostel, now touring the US andCanada. In 2013 look for the new musical "In the Summer of '68." Kurt is the owner of New York City’s The Voice Studio, home to more than 300 students and some of Broadway’s greatest teachers and performers. For more on Kurt be sure to visit http://www.jameswillamproductions.com.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer?
Kurt: Gary Schroeder who played the Prince in a high school production of CINDERELLA in my hometown of Stevens Point, WI. It was the first musical I ever saw. In later years, John Raitt was really my inspiration.
Victoria: My father was a career soldier and band master. I inherited his love of music and grew up inspired by his musianship and discipline. I always wanted to please him. I always knew he was listening. And the slightest sparkle in his eyes let me know I was evolving as a young artist.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to?
Kurt: I would love to work with Adam Guettel. His LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA was brilliant.
Victoria: Meryl Streep. Of course. I also very much look forward to working with my daughter, Ramona Mallory.
3. How did the evening of "When Everything Was Possible Come To Be"? What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show?
Kurt: It began after Victoria and I reunited after a 35 year period of not speaking to each other. During that reunion we discovered we still “got along” and in subsequent meetings we began to feel that our story and our unique perspective as young performers might be of interest to theatre audiences. I hope audiences will come away with an appreciation for the great musicals and talent of that era as well as a heartwarming story of reconnection and friendship.
Victoria: Kurt approached me with the concept. It draws upon a wonderful time in my life. I hope the audience will glimpse, through our reminiscences, what was a remarkable and important time in the history of the American Musical Theatre. And I hope they will agree that the craft demanded of stage performers in that period represented the foundation for a lifetime of artistic expression.
4. What has it been like to work together again? What have you learned from the time apart?
Kurt: It's been great working with Victoria again and I believe we are both still at the top of our game. As Hal Prince, who will be a Guest of Honor at our concert, said recently, "Victoria Mallory is proof positive that time stands still." And from our time apart we have learned what FOLLIES is all about!
Victoria: Great special fun! In the time apart, I learned that there is a rich and satisfying life to be had outside the theatre. The lessons learned have placed many new colors on my palate.
5. You both have performed for some of the most well known composers in musical theatre history. What does it mean to you to have been able to have this experience?
Kurt: We are so fortunate and spoiled to have had the opportunities we did. To have had songs written for us and originated roles in such amazing musicals is an honor and a privilige.
Victoria: Few performers...few people...ever have the opportunity to interact with greatness. It changes one forever. It is impossible for me to separate who I am from those experiences of working with true geniuses.
6. What was it like to have been personally chosen by Richard Rogers and Leonard Bernstein to make your Broadway debuts as "Tony" and "Maria" in Lincoln Center Revival of "West Side Story"?
Kurt: For me, it was thrilling and scary; if it were today, I would say "awesome!" The theatre was so huge and the show so important. In fact, when I was in high school I had suggested to my choir teacher that we do WEST SIDE STORY but he told me we couldn't as he, "had no one to sing Tony." So on opening night of WEST SIDE at Lincoln Center I bought him a ticket - next to Richard Rodgers and Leonard Bernstein.
Victoria: Thrilling. A fantasy come true. Even today, I pinch myself when recalling that great and good fortune.
7. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer?
Kurt: In this business a resiliency and knowledge of self is vital. I have learned the value of true craftmanship and that, whether as a performer or a producer, you have to take 100% responsiblity for your own journey and career, have pride in your work and remain true to yourself.
Victoria: I have learned the importance of living in gratitude.
8. What's the best advice you've ever received?
Kurt: I think it was from my Grandfather, a stonemason, who said, "Whatever it is you love, do it very well."
Victoria: Say Yes to life. Show up. Do the work.
9. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be?
Kurt: In my dream I would be playing opposite my friend Kelli O'Hara in a brilliant and moving new musical - that someone else produces.
Victoria: Future grandbabies.
10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose?
Kurt: I would be FosseBennetRobbins - a drop-dead dancer choreographer.
Victoria: To fly.
Kurt Bonus Questions:
What made you want to move into producing and what made you want to start The Voice Studio? I have always had a business sense and it was natural to segue into producing as a means of allowing me greater opportunities to put forward projects I believed in as good theatre and promote great creative talents. With The Voice Studio I am continuing the legacy of the late Paul Gavert. He taught Victoiora and I at AMDA and we became his first "famous" students. Continuing to foster a home for new talent and craftmanship is important both to me personally and as a means of honoring Paul's legacy.
You produce the tour for one of my favorite TV shows growing up, "The Magic Garden." What made you want to "revive" this show? I was seeing Carol Demas, the original "Genevieve" in THE BAKER'S WIFE and observed a small party she and Paula Janis did as an outreach from their show. The kids were so happy and responsive that I thought why not take their musical stories out to a larger audience? So we did and the show still lives on in their live performaces today.
Victoria Bonus Question:
What was the best part about starring on "Santa Barbara" and "The Young and the Restless"? I loved it. Great variety, great people and steady ever changing work.