For more than 20 years, Steve Ross has introduced cabaret audiences to classic songs from his favorite decade, the 1930s. "I'm very attracted to the beauty and style and wit of that period," says Ross, a natural raconteur who makes his Broadway debut singing and acting in the current revival of Noël Coward's Present Laughter at the Walter Kerr Theatre. During the show Ross plays Frank Langella's Cockney valet; before the curtain and during intermissions, he takes the stage alone to share some of the music he loves best. "The only directive I got was to choose songs that I feel passionate about," says Ross, who promises a mix of Coward, Cole Porter and even some unknown tunes from the period. "I've tried to think of things that deal with relationships in that kind of defiant and romantic way of the thirties," he explains. "This play is about people sleeping with each other and the intrigues and complexities among a group of friends. It's a play with a lot of juice, and this is a very lusty production. It may not be for the vicar."
Always a huge admirer of Coward, Ross reports that acting in one of the playwright's most autobiographical works has been both rewarding and revealing. "A lot of it seems like chitchat, but there is great longing and anger and love being expressed underneath," he says. "The more I hear the play, the more I realize how deep it is."