New York politician Bella Abzug will play Marlene Dietrich in a new show premiering at Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY, Aug. 31. Abzug, a forer Democratic Congresswoman and a political voice for women's issues for over 30 years, will play film legend, Dietrich (The Blue Angel) in this tribute to strong women of the ages.
Actually, the main focus of the show will be singer/songwriter Lesley Gore, a 1960s icon who turned to the cabaret circuit in 1994 (at NY's Rainbow & Stars) and has found a second career ever since. This latest concert performance is titled, When Women Run The World.
Gore's career took off in 1963 -- when she was 16 years old -- and a recording studio engineer named Quincy Jones helped her record a tune called, "It's My Party." The song reached #2 on the pop charts and netted a Grammy nomination for best rock and roll record. Other hits included "You Don't Own Me" and "Out Here On My Own."
Bruce MacPherson will serve as musical director for When Women Run The World, which will feature Scott Miller on drums, Ted Whitmore on bass, and Bruce Gatewood on guitar. Lorraine Ferro and Althea Rodgers will provide back-up vocals. "The Magic Touch," an cappella group, will open the show.
Asked about the show, Gore told Playbill On-Line (Aug. 26), "The title comes from a song I've extrapolated from an animated feature I'm working on. That's been a long, extended process, so in the interim I'm interested in getting audience reaction on this material. This is new material I've written over the last year." Other tunes include, "But I Could Be In Love," and (possibly) "Go Girl." The latter is a rap number; jokes Gore, "I'm thinking of calling myself `Lesley Big Puff' or `LL Big Puff.'" But where does Abzug come in? "I've brought in a number of friends to help on the show, people who inspire me to make music," Gore said. "Bella is one of the people who inspire me. I became friendly with her back in the early 1980s. The work she does for women, her concerns for the environment and breast cancer -- it's work I aspire to. Plus she'll always take another risk. She's never too old to do so."
And before you imagine Abzug will simply offer a dry recitation of Dietrich dialogue, think again -- she'll be singing. "She does a fabulous imitation of Dietrich," said Gore of Abzug. She sings -- vu den? [what else] -- "Falling In Love Again." And she'll wear the cutaway and the top-hat. This is something she's done at private parties for friends. I thought it would be fun." Gore has no plans to bring the one-night show onto the cabaret circuit, but she also says that's not out of the question. Her other current plans include the development of a new musical: "It's a little bizarre and a little early to talk about," Gore said. "But it's based on my true-life situation of having been stalked by someone. I've dramatized it, and what it did to me and how it affected my life and musically. In real life, the problem came to an end just this April after three years."
Gore says she'll probably collaborate with several different writers on the songs and will set the musical in a recording studio, "so I can keep a band on stage at all times."
--By David Lefkowitz