The American Theatre, located right in the heart of the historic Phoebus area of Hampton, Virginia and celebrating its 35th Anniversary, is proud to present Hollywood legend Kathleen Turner in her incredible show, “Kathleen Turner: Finding My Voice.” The show is a beautiful combination of behind the scenes stories of her incredible career and a wonderful selection of songs such as: “Let’s Fall in Love,” “On the Street Where You Live,” and “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” just to mention a few, from the Great American Songbook. This show is guaranteed to make every Kathleen Turner fan happy.
Individual performance tickets may be purchased in person at The American Theatre Box Office or the Hampton Coliseum Box Office or tickets may be ordered online at www.theamericantheatre.org
Yiorgo: I had a chance to speak with Kathleen Turner the other day. Why should your fans come to your show Kathleen Turner: Finding My Voice? What will they expect to see and hear?
Kathleen Turner: The show is a very enjoyable experience of stories with songs that kinda come out of the stories. I like to think that it’s about my life, my beliefs, my activism, my hope and my huge affection for the people throughout my life. It is fun and I’ve been told that it is uplifting and a very positive, happy experience. Come and enjoy it.
Y: This is such a wonderful way for your fans to see you. When did you start doing this touring show and what has it been like for you?
KT: We started several years ago, and it has gone through many transitions. That’s also the point of the show, in that I don’t want this show to ever be set in stone. As I have different life and work experiences, the show will change also. I’ll drop out some stories, pick up others, and change the songs as needed. I want to keep it present and fluid and make it as interesting for me as it is for those attending my show.
I had two performances recently. One was at a college near Atlantic City with a young, very aware audience and they were just a joy to perform in front of. When you get those laughs because you want to, oh there is just nothing better. Because of the two year hiatus that we all had to go through due to the pandemic, we all missed live performances so badly. There is an eagerness now on both sides for that live entertainment.
Y: What prompted you to do this show?
KT: It started because Molly Smith, who is the Artistic Director at the Arena Stage at the Mead Center of American Theater in Washington, DC asked me if I would do Mother Courage. It is not a musical obviously but it is a play with songs and numbers. Molly asked me if I could sing, and although I have not made a career of it, actually I really can sing, so she asked me to do Mother Courage. I enjoyed it so much that when I came back to New York, I called up the two men who I have been working with, my pianist and my director and asked them if they would continue to work with me. I really had no plans for it but I wanted to keep exploring what I would do and learn.
Y: What was that process like to get it off the ground and into the venues?
KT: I love telling stories. Then Andy Gale, who is my director, would hear one of my stories and he would say that it reminded him of this or that song. Mark Janas who is the pianist would say, he knew exactly how he would arrange that, and before you know it, we had this whole group of stories and songs and I think it was Andy that said, “You know what? We have a show.” And I was like oh dear. We continued to develop it and we got two young producers from England and we took it to the other palace theater in London for a few months. We then brought it to New York City, we took it to San Francisco, Philadelphia, all before the pandemic. We are now just starting to perform again.
Y: OK let’s talk about you. What was life like for you growing up?
KT: I am one of four siblings and the only one born in the United States. My father was a foreign service officer with the Diplomatic Core so I grew up in Canada, Cuba, Venezuela, Columbia and then England all before college. I had not lived in the US at all. My father died very suddenly just before I turned 18 and we ended back in Springfield, Missouri at my mother’s parents home. That was a culture shock. I learned a lot.
Y: Your early love was theater and you graduated the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
KT: Yes indeed. I came to New York the second I graduated. That’s what I was always going to do. To me, New York was as close as I was going to get to the rest of the world and still be in the United States. So I see it as a doorway but it was always theater. You know, it’s very hard to define talent, especially acting. Sometimes I think that there is a communication gene and some people have it. With a live performance there is just so much to give and take with an audience present. It’s so satisfying.
Y: How did you get into the movies?
KT: I was on Broadway my first year in New York City. There were these three women who were the top casting directors at the time, who had a bet with each other, who would place me in my first film. They had seen me at auditions and on stage and I was put in the movie, Body Heat. I still believe that the best movie people come from the stage.
Y: What was it like working on your first Hollywood film Body Heat?
KT: It was thrilling, exciting, terrifying and I wasn’t alone. Larry Kasdan who wrote and directed and Bill Hurt, he had done one film before but it had not come out and this was my first. We were all of us in the same place learning. We felt as though we were creating a new kind of film and we did in fact do that.
Y: One of my all time favorites is Romancing the Stone. Can you share some memories with Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito?
KT: Yes it was always the three of us. I love those guys very much, we had so much fun together. I had a ball doing Romancing the Stone. We were shooting in Mexico and because I spent most of my childhood in South America, I was bilingual but Michael did not realize that. He had one AD that was bilingual and some of the actors spoke no English, so Michael really, really needed me much more then he realized in hiring me. The filming was tough physically. We did that mudslide five times. Every time I get to work with Michael like in The Kominsky Method, it’s just so easy and so much fun.
Y: When did you know you can have a career in the movie industry?
KT: I always believed I would have a career as an actor. I believe that most people do believe that they will be a success. Acting is the most interdependent art form that we have. I don’t get to go on that stage until the set has been designed and built, the lights, the sound and the costumes are made.
Y: Speaking of theater, since that was your first love, what was one of the plays that defined you and made you want to be on that stage?
KT: For me, the biggest, most important piece that has been through most of my life has been, Edward Albee’s, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf that I did on Broadway when I was 50. I did a national tour, also a run in London, it was thrilling and wonderful, a kind of role that uses everything in you. You have that extra ordinary feeling that you are completely used up, and that’s exactly right. What’s not right is the movie version. Actually, Edward was very angry about it. It’s not about a drunk couple screaming at each other. That is faaaar from the truth. I have always been angry about that and how they butchered it.
Y: Another one of my favorites is Prizzi’s Honor. Can you share a memory or two?
KT: That was a fun movie. Jack Nicholson would laugh when someone would ask him, “Jack, how are you enjoying yourself?” His response was, “What do you mean enjoying? I’m working with an ex-girlfriend and a blanking newlywed.” I was the newlywed. He would growl when he was frustrated.
Another fun memory was that the wedding scene had dozens and dozens of extras and they had piled up all this beautiful food to make it all look right. So to keep people from eating it and to make sure it stayed fresh looking, they sprayed the whole thing with a kind of shellac. I would see extras reach for the cake or something and bite into it and I would say to them oh no, no don’t bite into that.
Y: And of course you were the uncredited voice of Jessica Rabbit in the classic, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
KT: Bobby Zemeckis directed that. It’s an extraordinary work of art and there will never be another one like it. He also directed Romancing the Stone. For the Jessica role, I was very pregnant. As a matter of fact, I missed my last recording day because I went into labor. So I am in the hospital, telling people to call the studio, I’m not coming in today. For me it was perfect because I could waddle in and I could work from home.
Y: How about a pinch me moment?
KT: I can tell you one that comes to mind immediately. Standing at the top of the stairs with John Waters at the Palais Des Festivals at Cannes in Monte Carlo. Serial Mom written and directed by John was the closing night film. We came out after the film, we stood at the top of the stairs looking down into the crowd and the people were shouting, “Je t’aime, Kathlene, je t’aime.” I grabbed a hold of John’s hand and said, don’t ever, ever forget this moment.
Yiorgo is an arts, entertainment and sports writer. A stage, TV and movie actor, he is also a sports entertainer, educator, motivational speaker, writer, storyteller and columnist.