I am a huge Dolly Parton fan! She is one of my top 3 favorite artists. Her music speaks to me in ways other artists' music doesn't. It's because of her song "Just The Way I Am," that I am comfortable in my own skin. Her movie roles also resonate with me, especially in the movie Straight Talk. It was because of that movie that I wanted to go into the entertainment industry and have my own radio show. Her live concerts are a unique experience, always leaving a smile on my face, and it's because of her fashion style that every time I did stand-up comedy, I made sure I was always dressed up in some kind of outfit that would make people talk.
So when I found out that celebrity impersonator Jason CoZmo was doing Dolly: Coat of Many Colors at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, I knew I had to be there, and get an interview with Jason to find out more about the man behind this country legend! In Dolly: Coat of Many Colors Jason recreates an intimate, authentic live Dolly Parton performance, lipsynching to many of Dolly's original hits and stage monologues. He is so convincing that in 2011 Dolly Parton herself was shown Jason's photo on Good Morning America and thought it was actually a photo of her.
Dolly: Coat of Many Colors will play at The Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 West 42nd Street, in the basement of the West Bank Cafe, between 9th & 10th Avenue) on Sunday, July 26 and Sunday, August 2 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!
1. Your show, Dolly: Coat of Many Colors will be playing at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on July 26 and August 2. What are you looking forward to most about this show? Thank you so much for taking this time to talk to me about my show! I'm so grateful to bring my show "Coat of Many Colors" to the Laurie Beechman Theatre. I've done this show for audiences from the shores of Fire Island, to conservative Salt Lake City Utah. It's been so fun and interesting to perform it for such diverse audiences. Dolly Parton's fan base is literally men, woman, children, gay, straight, liberal and conservative. I hope to have the same demographic. And what better place to do that then Time Square?
2. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of Dolly songs out there, how did you narrow down to the ones you wanted to do for this show? It was not an easy task! She has such a huge library of music, and it took a lot of time to narrow it down. I wanted to try and cover most of Dolly's genres. Music she wrote, covers, Country, Pop, Christmas, Patriotic, Gospel, Movies, Broadway. The show is set up into four sets. Starting with 70's into her huge hits from the 80s. The second set covers Gospel, some of her more recent motivational songs, and covers of classic Americana. Set three covers Christmas and an interactive song from "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." Set four sums up the whole show with some of her famous songs about her family and life from the Smokey Mountains. I think one of the best things about Dolly Parton's music is it is relatable to everyone!
3. If you could give people one reason as to why they should come see Dolly: Coat of Many Colors, what would that reason be? SO MUCH FUN!!! The show is positive and upbeat from start to finish. You will be surprised how many songs you know. It's a toe tapping, uplifting, evening full of laughs and love.
4. In this show, you chose to lip sync to her songs and stage monologues. What made you want to go this route as opposed to singing the songs yourself? It's not so much that I chose this, this is what I do. I am an actor, not a singer. There are different types of impersonators, some are vocal, that's not what I do, and I do not choose to lip sync as a cope out, it's the art form. I have studied everything about Dolly Parton, the artist, the business, then the physical. How she moves, gestures, body language, facial expressions etc...I have chosen songs and material that are very true to me. So even though I am portraying her I am telling my personal story. The art of lip sync has had a really bad reputation. So many people consider it cheating or the easy way out, and so many assume if someone is singing live it's "good" or "better." In all reality people want to see a good entertaining show. When I am an audience member I don't care if you're singing live, lip syncing, dancing, or jumping through fire, just entertain me. Let me escape into your art. In this particular case I feel using Dolly's voice and vocals is the ONLY way to go! It captures her heart and soul in a way no one can ever recreate.
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Dolly: Coat of Many Colors? I hope people will walk away from the show with an even bigger love and appreciation for Dolly Parton. She is one of the most positive, influential, and beautiful artist of all time. Everyone should have more Dolly in their life, the world would be a better place! She's like vitamins for life. I hope people will walk away knowing more about me and my message. My message and Dolly's throughout the show is diversity, humor, family, self worth, and most importantly Love.
6. In addition to Dolly, you have impersonated Liza Minnelli, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and Julie Andrews. What is it about Dolly Parton that made you want to create a whole show around her? I love and adore all of the stars I impersonate. It was most natural for me to tell my story through Dolly and her music. As I mentioned before, her library of music and art are bigger and more diverse then anyone I can think of! What other show could cover all of these generes with one person? I will also be showcasing seven different costumes and four different wigs. As Dolly's costumes, hair and image have been just as famous as her music. Out of all of the characters I've done, my "Dolly" gets me the most attention and appeals to a huge demographic. The gays and straights love it, liberals, conservatives, rich or poor, her art and hopefully mine will speak to all walks of life. People of every generation have some memory of Dolly, whether from music, movies or just her celebrity that spans over 50 years and going strong.
7. What is your favorite or one of your favorite Dolly Parton songs and why is it your favorite? I love "I Will Always Love You." I think it's one of the best songs ever written. Another favorite would have to be "Coat of Many Colors." It's Dolly's personal favorite song. It's a beautiful true autobiography of being different, individual, and staying true to one's self. Also the endearing relationship with her Mother. I can completely relate to this song. Although my mother never made me a homemade coat, I have always been very different and quite the black sheep. I have fought my whole life to be myself and for what I believe. I come from a loving, supportive family, and I'm very close to my Mother. She's my biggest fan! It's a song EVERYONE can relate to. It's also why I named the show "Coat of Many Colors," it's about diversity, pride, and love. It's one of my favorite monologues and songs to perform. There's a lot of depth and substance that is so true for Dolly and myself.
8. In 2011, what was it like to find out that when Dolly Parton was shown a picture of you on Good Morning America, she thought it was herself? It was INSANE! GMA called me the day before and asked if they could use my photo. Said they'd found it online and thought it was the best. I was nervous because the last thing I wanted was for Dolly to see it and say something bad. That would have broken my heart. But the next morning my cell phone and Facebook blew up! It was crazy! It is the highest form of validation for the person you're impersonating to give you their blessing. So to have Dolly mistake me for her on national TV was awesome! It helped open a lot of doors. I've also met Liza backstage after her concert in Vegas and got her blessing. I would do anything for Dolly to see my show "Coat of Many Colors" live. It would be very nerve racking, but so surreal, and hopefully extremely rewarding.
9. Have you ever met Dolly Parton? If so, what was that meeting like? What went through your head during this moment in time? If you haven't met her, what do you think it would be like to do so? I have yet to meet her. She is so difficult to get too, next to impossible. I think it's way overdue now! I've been impersonating her for a living for 15 years and Dolly has been my full-time "9 to 5" for the past 6 years. My Dolly has been honed and fine tuned since the photo she saw in 2011. I hope she would be honored and pleased with my interpretation of her. I was booked this past May to go to Tennessee to be the headliner for the official Night of 1000 Dollys', and perform at the Fan Club and Collectors Dinner. It's the grand opening of Dollywood that time of year and Dolly does parades in the park and in the town. All of the major fans come in town from all over the world. I serendipitously met one of Dolly's personal assistants and designers at my hotel. He came to see my costumes and wigs. He was impressed with how some of my costumes are replicas of his designs. I was fortunate enough to have him come watch my performance. I was thrilled when he approached me after my show and told me that I was the best interpretation he'd ever seen! I was freaking out inside. So, I've yet to meet her, but I am one degree away!
10. What's the best advice you've ever received? First thing that comes that comes to mind is a saying a great acting coach taught me when someone asked a question about what to do for an audition. She said "always show them what you can do, not what you cannot do" I've found that to be true not only in show business but life in general. I try to challenge myself, but I always try to showcase my strengths. It's important for me to be genuine to myself and my craft, it seems ironic that someone who's made a living impersonating others I strive to have my own esthetic and brand, while being true to the stars brand. Someone criticized Dolly Parton once saying she wasn't the greatest actor, she simply replied with "I am no Meryl Streep...and Meryl Streep is no Dolly Parton!" No matter what you do, be the best you.
11. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Once again, it may seem ironic that someone impersonating others would be telling his own story, but I do. I realized it more so just recently when a friend of mine said to me after a show "Your impersonations are spot on, from the lip sync, costumes, to the make up and gestures…but we leave the show knowing all about you." I have always told my message, and made my statements through the characters and material I choose. The people I've chosen to impersonate, the specific music and material I choose to perform are not random. When I capture an audience's attention I want my message to be well thought out. When impersonating very famous people you really have to know how to hon. People know them inside and out, so I have to be two steps ahead. It's one of the most fascinating art forms there is, being able to recreate people and moments that so many know, while being true to yourself and sending your personal message.
12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To fly! Totally Peter Pan me out!
13. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? It would be a "CoZmo of Many Colors" With a Wild Berry top shelf vodka, various citrus juices, and the martini glass would have lights in it so it would continually change colors.
Jason CoZmo performs all over the USA and makes his living as a female celebrity impersonator for the past 15 years. Some of his most popular impersonations include Liza Minnelli, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and Julie Andrews. But Dolly Parton has become his 9 to 5! Growing up in Salt Lake City Utah doing musical theatre, then off to California where he performed at Disneyland, and continued theatre as well as film. He hit the ground running when he moved to NYC in 2005, performing in all the posh clubs, cabarets, summers on Fire Island. Dolly soon became his staple as he was cast in professional Impersonation shows in Bermuda, Lake Tahoe, Atlantic City and NYC. When asked why he put this show together, Jason said "It's a very personal project. Dolly, being who she is and what she stands for are "Gospel" to me. Not only outspoken, and over the top in her look and humor, but most importantly she has been a front runner for Diversity, Equality, Spirituality, and Love! These are all things that I stand for as well."