What better title for a show about "gang violence, incest, racial polarization, loneliness, unrequited love, bad dates and the dangers of Lee Press-On Nails" than ...Secrets..., a one-woman show by Renee Flemings opening at Off-Off-Broadway's 42nd Street Collective (formerly Alice's 4th Floor) Oct. 3.
Characters portrayed by Flemings include a 7-year-old girl, a street smart gangsta, a housewife preparing her daughter for her first date; and a sassy "African-American, Puerto Rican Indian Jew."
"Most people think I'm really influenced by Whoopi Goldberg or Lily Tomlin," Flemings told Playbill On-Line, "and I do think they're wonderful. But my real influences were Eric Bogosian and John Leguizamo. I was house manager at the Orpheum Theatre when they did their pieces there, and I thought, `that's the kind of work I want to do.'"
Shaping ...Secrets... has been a complex process for Flemings. "It started as a very dark, nihilistic piece, but that's not where I'm at anymore. I think I was PMS-ing at the time!" Flemings laughed. "So I ended up ripping the guts out of it. But I also lost some of the point of view. So director, Maggie Lally, and I have been trying to put that back in for this run."
Once ...Secrets... finishes its run, the busy Flemings will begin her cabaret show, Bytes, at Rose's Turn in New York's Greenwich Village (Oct. 18-Nov. 8). "That'll be a much more irreverent show, with music," Flemings notes. "I'll do songs going from Gershwin to R&B, and there are comic bits about society's standards of beauty and a nasty take on The Little Mermaid." ...Secrets... runs on Thursdays through Oct. 17. For tickets and information on the one-hour show, call (212)967-1481.
-- By David Lefkowitz