From NBC's Mad About You, "Call Me Adam" chats with Broadway and Television actress and writer Anne Bobby about her upcoming 54 Below show, entitled The Songs That Came In From The Cold, on Tuesday, March 4 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!
Gathering discarded gems from thirty years of workshops, out-of-town tryouts and black-boxes, plus a few new favorites, Anne will sing songs from Alan Menken to Randy Newman, Marc Blitzstein to Bruce Springsteen, as well as should-have-been-hits from Steven Lutvak, David Spencer, Jimmy Roberts, Keith Herrmann, Daniel Maté and more. She'll be joined by special guests Alice Ripley (Next to Normal), Evan Pappas (My Favorite Year), Laura Dean (Chicago), Frank Vlastnik (The Sweet Smell of Success) and Shannon Ford (Chaplin).
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Mostly, it was the only place I wasn't picked on. I was pretty much a loner as a kid - I had four real friends growing up, with two of them being my siblings and another being a cat I fed. This isn't a pity party sort of thing - I was a nerdy kid who found her interior life a hell of a lot more interesting that what was going on around me. Other kids caught on to that pretty quick, and I got teased for it, but performing was my refuge. I think it was the one place where my interior world met with the outside. Thank God I had parents who not only nurtured that part of me, but also knew not to stop me when I had the opportunities to perform, though it must have been stressful as hell for them. I don't know how they did it - I think it's one of the reasons I've never wanted children; I don't think I could survive raising a kid like the one I was. My heart's not strong enough.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Anyone who is still learning, who is still growing as a person. Honestly - I could rattle off a wish list, but the people I admire, who I most want to work with, are people who love what they do and love how it informs their life. I'm spoiled in that I've worked with so many great people who lived - continue to live - with that mindset.
If I was really pressed for a short list? Oy - I'd say Michael Mann, David Eagleman, Vanessa Redgrave, Mark Rylance, Naseeruddin Shah, Tim Minchin, Elizabeth Warren, Banksy. They're not as disparate as they sound - they're all so passionate about their work, such inspirations in their chosen fields. They're certainly already a huge part of my life - I'd love to find a way to collaborate with them.
3. On Tuesday, March 4 at 7pm, you will be making your solo cabaret debut at 54 Below. What excites you about this upcoming concert? Spending time with songs that have become like friends to me, playing them with people I love so much, sharing them with a community that's been my family since I was thirteen...what's NOT to be excited about?
4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing you at 54 Below? A lot of the songs in my show go back twenty, twenty-five years. They come from shows that very few people got to see - a few of them never had public performances at all! It would be amazing if spotlighting these songs for a night leads to renewed interest in the people who created them.
5. Why is 54 Below the perfect venue for your show? The short answer is the brussels sprouts, but the longer answer is that - I don't know...maybe it's that I was such a nerd as a kid, maybe it's that I've always been challenged and grateful for my close friends, but I seek out friends and family wherever and whenever I can. 54 Below is a place where I find I'm most comfortable, surrounded by people who love what I love...And I'm not just talking about exploring musical theatre, or cabaret - I'm talking about exploring OURSELVES, through song, and exploring how the music in our lives shapes us. Helps us grow. Makes us better people.
To say nothing of the fact that Jennifer Tepper sets the standard for Musical Theater nerds everywhere, and has provided a home for all of us to not just enjoy each other, but to be challenged by each other. If you think of Broadway as a university, 54 Below is a collaborative sort of Independent Study, where the Grad students get to hone their craft and challenge each other.
And the brussels sprouts really are amazingly good.
6. Your show is titled The Songs That Came In From The Cold. How did you come up with the concept and title for the show? I knew I wanted to do the show when we were past the worst of winter. Given the winter we've been having, I probably should have scheduled this for Memorial Day Weekend, but who knew that back in November?
I also thought about the songs I always said I would do if I had an opportunity like this - I've got a lot of years of workshops and gigs and auditions under my belt, and in those years I've collected some songs that never saw the light of day. Songs that have been lost, or forgotten, from shows that never quite got as far as I would have hoped for them. And I started to think of those songs as just sort of hibernating, waiting to come out of their deep freeze and into the light I've always held them in.
Some of these are songs that are kind of hiding in plain sight, too. There's a great song I'm singing that I've been doing at auditions for years, and it never ceases to amaze me that people are forever asking me who wrote it - because it's actually off what is considered by most people one of the best albums ever made. It's just a song people...sort of miss, I guess. It happened just the other day, actually - someone asked me why _________ never recorded it, and I was like, "Um. He did." (I won't tell you what the song is, it's a surprise - a good one!)
7. You made your Broadway debut at 16 years old. Looking back, what did you enjoy most about this time? What went through your head on opening night? I always knew to never not be aware that I was living an absolutely magical life. I'm so glad I had that foresight, because my memories of that time are vivid, actually, indescribably so. It's hard to talk about a whirlwind in a sentence; it kind of has to be felt that way.
There were scary moments, hysterically funny moments, painful moments. And always, always the precision of doing the show, saying the lines, hitting the marks, hearing the laughter. And then getting on the bus back to Jersey. In New York. On Broadway. In 1984. I've actually started writing a Young Adult book series about it. The first book's nearly done; soon as I finish the script I'm working on now, I'll get back to it.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? In a lot of ways - most ways, actually - I'm still that nerdy kid with the interior world. Performing has continued to be a welcome outlet, but over the years it's been informed by all the other ways I've found to thrive - my books, my plays, my animals, my friends...my life.
I've always said that there's a sort of theorem to acting, and performing in general. Actors recreate life; the more you live, the more experiences you have at your disposal to recreate, the better your chances of being a great actor.
Every part of my life informs my performing. Every part of performing informs my life. It took a long time for me to catch up with myself, but I'm glad I finally did!
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Never use soap on your face; makeup comes off with hot water and moisturizer. And there's no such thing as not enough money for a good book.
10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? What a great question! Growing up, I used to wish for the power to instantly know the answer to any question I had. Over time I learned how the acquiring of knowledge is just as satisfying as the obtaining answers - kind of how I feel about rehearsal, by the way; I could rehearse forever, I swear. Now...? I'd say what I would wish for was the ability to take away shame; too much suffering in the world comes as a result of it.
Anne Bobby made her Broadway debut at 16 and a year later starred in Marvin Hamlisch’s cult classic, Smile. She is known for roles on TV's Mad About You, Cop Rock, Law & Order, and As The World Turns as well as such films as Happiness, Born on the Fourth of July, and Nightbreed.