An Interview with Broadway’s Carter Calvert , Starring in Viva La Diva! at Algonquin Arts Theatre This Saturday!
Broadway meets pop, jazz, blues, and country at Manasquan, NJ’s Algonquin Arts Theatre this Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 when acclaimed Broadway star and recording artist Carter Calvert appears in her original production, Viva La Diva! The Music of Carole King, Barbra Streisand, Patsy Cline, Peggy Lee, Aretha Franklin (and many more)!
In Viva La Diva!, Calvert provides a hilarious yet heartfelt take on “making it in the biz” and the divas who inspired her along the way, thus creating an evening of entertainment certain to delight audiences of all ages.
Ms. Calvert is best known to New York City audiences for her role in the Tony-nominated It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues on Broadway, about which The New York Times wrote, “Carter Calvert effervesces: her voice echoes chimes in the night” and “her smoldering grip on ‘Fever’ is positively dangerous.”
Other New York City credits include the original cast album and touring productions of It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, Forbidden Broadway: Comes Out Swinging — for which she received rave reviews — and the original cast of The Thing About Men at the Promenade Theatre.
Ms. Calvert also toured Europe in Smokey Joe’s Cafè, played Grizabella in the national tour of CATS, appeared in the World Premiere of Forbidden Vegas, and additionally performed the title role in Always, Patsy Cline, opposite Emmy-award-winner Sally Struthers.
As a recording artist, Calvert’s latest CD, It’s a Man’s World, is currently climbing the charts.
Spotlight Central recently had a chance to chat with Ms. Calvert — who talked about her upcoming show at The Algonquin Arts Theatre, revealed some of her childhood musical memories, and also told us about a recent experience where she had the privilege of seeing one of her all-time favorite musical divas live and in person.
Spotlight Central: So what should concert-goers expect to see and hear in your new show, Viva La Diva?
Carter Calvert: Well… first of all, they’re gonna hear the greatest band! Eugene Gwozdz is an established Broadway pianist and musical director, and he’s one of the best I’ve ever worked with. And we have the amazing Jim Donica on bass and Mike Wilson on guitar. Also, my fabulous husband, Roger Cohen, is on drums… so I’m being backed by the greatest band ever!
The audience at The Algonquin is going to be taken on a ride to experience the various divas who inspired me and my career and there will be little tidbits and interesting stories about how each of these artists came to me.
Also, there will be a wide variety of musical styles from pop to jazz to Broadway to rock to R&B — just about every imaginable style and every imaginable diva.
SC: And specifically which divas’ music will the audience get to enjoy?
CC: Well, we start out with Whitney Houston and Chaka Kahn…. and then we move on to so many more including Patsy Cline, Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Olivia Newton-John, Linda Ronstadt, and Billie Holiday. Also, there’s Carly Simon, Judy Collins, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Peggy Lee, Ethel Merman, and Bette Midler, not to mention Patti LuPone, Fleetwood Mac, Roberta Flack, ABBA, Betty Buckley, and Gloria Gaynor.
SC: Wow! So how did you first become familiar with the music of these various artists?
CC: Oh, my goodness! Back in my day, you stayed in your room and listened to records. And I think the first time I became aware that I really loved music is when my next door neighbor — when I was visiting at about the age of 6 or 7 — was playing a Tony Orlando record, “Tie A Yellow Ribbon.” And I begged my neighbor to let me take that record home. I played it over and over and over and I just realized that I LOVED music.
Then, I started spending my allowance on Barbara Streisand records and records by Donna Summer. And records also became the gifts I’d get at Christmas — like the latest Whitney album. I’d just stay in my room and listen constantly.
And I just realized that this truly was a passion of mine. I mean… I became a huge fan of Patsy Cline at the age of 7 — and I think, at 7, I just knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: I wanted to be like these amazing divas whom I listened to constantly.
SC: So here’s a very hard question: What are your personal favorite songs from these artists to either listen to or perform?
CC: Well, I love performing “Don’t Rain on my Parade,” by Barbra Streisand, from the Broadway musical, Funny Girl. I love performing Patsy Cline. I performed in Always, Patsy Cline opposite Sally Struthers and I’m a huge fan of Patsy’s. I love Aretha Franklin. I love Carole King. There’s not one person on my set list who I’m not crazy about! The amazing part about writing your own show is that you get to sing what you want to sing. But I also appreciate that my audience is of varied ages and varied tastes, so I really tried to find something for everybody in this show.
SC: Have you ever had a chance to see any of the women whose you music you celebrate in person or meet them?
CC: Oh, good question! My husband, for my birthday in September, bought me tickets to see Barbra Streisand at the Barclays Center! And I’m not kidding — I’m actually tearing up thinking about that, because she was someone who inspired me at an early age. I was so appreciative of her instrument — her ability to tell a story through song — and to get to see her live in person was one of the great joys of my life. I just had to pinch myself — I couldn’t believe it! And I was really surprised at the emotional reaction I had to seeing her because she made such an impression on me as a young girl.
SC: I have to tell you that we love your latest CD, It’s a Man’s World — we think it’s the best album of its type since Herbie Hancock’s The New Standard. So the question is: Do you have any new recording projects in the works?
CC: Well, not as of yet… but, maybe, the Diva idea would be a great one for a recording — you know, taking these great divas and their songs and doing what we did with It’s a Man’s World where we reimagine them. I think that could be a really fun idea.
SC: Yes, and our readers heard it here first! So, in conclusion, is there anything else you’d like to say to folks who are reading this and thinking about coming to see Viva La Diva! at Algonquin Arts?
CC: Well, first of all, there is no lovelier place in the world than The Algonquin Arts Theatre. I love the area — I love the restaurants and I love the shopping. In fact (laughing), my mom flew in for this and I’m pretty sure that her reason for coming is about 70% the town of Manasquan and about 30% my show — because she loves this area so much! She’s been here to see everything at The Algonquin from Evita to Annie Get Your Gun, because she’s such a fan of the area.
And I would just say, too, that it’s going to be a great night of entertainment. I’m so proud of the band. I’m so proud of the song selection. And I’m excited to share little tidbits — little known facts — that people might not know about these amazing entertainers. So it’s gonna be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see everyone there!
Viva La Diva! starring Carter Calvert takes place this Saturday, Oct. 15, at 8pm at The Algonquin Arts Theatre, 173 Main Street, Manasquan, NJ. Premium tickets are $36 for adults, $33 for seniors and $27 for students; regular tickets are $29 for adults, $26 for seniors, and $20 for students; and tickets for groups of 12 or more are $25 for adults/seniors and $20 for students. Tickets can be ordered at seatadvisor.com or purchased at the door. For more information, please call 732–528–9211.