They say the third time's a charm and that couldn't be more true. I have interviewed Lane Bradbury, Broadway's original "Dainty June" in Gypsy twice before about her upcoming one-woman show Let Me Entertain You, Again, but this time around, we really got deep into the heart of this show, Lane's struggles, her freedoms, and most of all, the backstage drama of Lane's time working with Ethel Merman & Jerome Robbins in Broadway's original production Gypsy!
Written by Doug DeVita and directed by Elkin Antoniou, Let Me Entertain You, Again is a highly personal tour of how Lane Bradbury went from being an Atlanta Debutante to a performer on "The Great White Way" during the Golden Age of Broadway. Songs include "Gee, But It's Good To Be Here," "Corner Of The Sky," and "Another Hundred People," among others, as well as four songs from Gypsy: "Broadway," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "If Momma Was Married," and, of course, "Let Me Entertain You."
Let Me Entertain You, Again played it's first return engagement on June 6 and will now play it's second performance Thursday, June 29 at 7pm at Don't Tell Mama in NYC (343 West 46th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue). Click here for tickets!
1. This June you are bringing back your one-woman show, Let Me Entertain You, Again to NYC, but this time you are performing it at Don't Tell Mama. What made now the right time to return with this show? I got an amazing manager by the name of Stephen Hanks and this was the first thing we did together, so that's why now.
2. Why did you want to do this run at Don't Tell Mama? It's a classic place. I love the intimacy of the venue. I mean "Don't Tell Mama," the title alone just sounds so enticing and it adds a little bit of sweet wickedness to that name. And I've seen other cabaret shows there, so I just felt the venue was perfect for me.
Me: Also since you created the role of "Dainty June" in Broadway's Gypsy and you had "Mama" in that show, "Mama Rose," maybe there's a little tie in there with "Don't Tell Mama."
Lane: You just put that together, [laughs], but "Mama" sure does stand out.
3. What do you hope to gain from this return engagement that you did not get from your previous mountings of this show? I would like to keep the momentum going and get more engagements of Let Me Entertain You, Again because it's so much fun to do.
Me: Well, it's a lot of fun to watch.
4. This is the third production of Let Me Entertain You, Again that I will be coming to see. Where do you hope this show will take you/your career? I would love to do another Broadway musical. That would just be the perfect icing on the cake. I would love to do a play too, but prefer a musical because I love music.
5. Which part of the show, Let Me Entertain You, Again, is the hardest for you to perform? Which part is the most fun? There is no hard part, just fun. I talk about this in the show, but I came back to this show with a lot of fear, so much so that it paralyzed me. I would get sooo furious when I got something wrong, but after working with my daughter Elkin Antoniou and her husband film director Bobby Garabedian, they really got me me to loosen up and absolutely fall into freedom and joy and let the mistakes become okay. I've known this from acting, sometimes the best moments are the times when you make a mistake and then something real takes over. You go into your unconscious and something wonderful comes out. That's just a great thing to know and to try to live by. Elkin and Bobby really showed me that.
6. In our very first interview back in 2009, I asked you "What was your worst experience in a show?" At that time, you had said "Working with Jerome Robbins in Gypsy was your worst experience." If Gypsy were being mounted today with you, Ethel Merman, and Jerome Robbins as director and choreographer, how do you think Lane Bradbury of today would handle those big personalities as opposed to Lane Bradbury of yesterday? I hope, with Jerry, from the experiences I've had and the years I've got under my belt would help me not become so paralyzed by his personality and that I would say something like "You know you want a good performance from me. I want a good performance too. The best way to get that is to be positive with me and encourage me, rather than put me down because, now, I have to rise above all your negativity and that's just really hard to do. So you are making your job and my job harder."
With Merman, I don't know how you communicate with somebody who doesn't communicate. Unless, in the interim, she had grown some or exerpienced something in life that would have changed her, I would probably do the same that I did back then, just do the best performance I could do and pretend I was working with someone else, rather than actually working with her. That's one of the things we learn to do in method acting, if the character or the other actor in the scene doesn't work for you in the way they should, then you think they are someone else so it doesn't hang you up. It makes it real for you.
Me: That says so much about the struggle you went through at the time and it's great to hear how much stronger you are now and rise above it all.
Lane: I sure hope so. As artists there is something very delicate and exposed about us and that needs to be protected. That was something Jerome Robbins, I don't think really understood, although he went to the studio, so he was taught that, but a lot of people that know the method seem to have something about their personality where they just can't be as positive as we would like them to be. As artists we have to adjust the best we can and somehow be able to use whatever they are giving us to be better and not let ourselves go down into that negative place where there is no getting back from.
Me: Well, I think you would be able to do it.
Lane: I think I would too. [Laughs]. But I'm looking back over the road at how difficult that was.
Me: Sure and at the time you were just a teenager.
Lane: I was 17. Until that time, I had never come across that negativity. My ballet teacher was an angel and the most positive being in my life. Then when I did Ondine, they just encouraged everything I did, so when I got with Jerry Robbins, it was such a shocker, just something out of the blue.
Me: Especially after coming from such a positive reinforcement with your ballet teacher to go to his negativity, I'm sure it was quite a shock.
Lane: It was. Truly, truly, truly.
7. With your dream of coming back to Broadway, if you could be put into any show currently running on Broadway or coming next season, which show or shows would you like to be part of? I don't get into Manhattan a lot to go to the theatre, but I'd love to play "Diana" in a revival of Next To Normal (even though I'm probably too old for the part, I could pull it off). That would be the pennacle role for me.
Me: I think you could pull it off. I remember in one of our previous interviews you mentioned wanting to work with Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey and how you'd love them to write you a musical about "Diana" after she gets out of treament. So, let's put this out there again for that to happen.
Lane: Yes, lets. And the other show I'm really really right for would be Pippin. While I was doing Let Me Entertain You, Again in LA, someone said to me, "Lane, you should play 'Madame Rose'" in Gypsy. I thought, I could do that, even though I feel my size would work a little bit against me, my voice would work for me. I wish I knew more of the current season, but I'm hoping Let Me Entertain You, Again, will put me in a better position to see more shows.
8. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I would still love to drop away the negativity that comes into your mind when something doesn't go right and replace it with the magic and wonder that is positive. I know to do that, but it's so easy for the little dark thoughts to invade us, but the quicker we can get over those, shed them and put something positive in there, the better off we are. It's a habbit we need to do.
Me: You have to consciously work at it, to put the postive in your mind and not let the negative take over.
Lane Bradbury created the role of "Dainty June" in Broadway's Gypsy starring Ethel Merman. Her other stage credits include J.B., The Night of the Iguana, and Marathon '33. Her film credits include Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Hawaii, The Barony, and Consenting Adults, and her TV work includes In the Heat of the Night, Kung Fu, The Rockford Files, The Partridge Family, The Waltons, and The Mod Squad.