Over the year, people have pressed musical comedy star Faith Prince (Guys and Dolls, Little Me) to put together a cabaret act, but the Tony-winning actress could never find the time. Well, this past summer, Prince passed on three projects in order to construct "A Leap of Faith: Faith Prince in Concert," currently playing through Sept. 28 at the Public Theater's Joe's Pub. With a natural ease which belies her lack of experience in the field, Prince breezes through familiar tunes ("The Other Side of the Tracks," a scat version of "Adelaide's Lament") and obscure selections (the heartwarming "Sweet Kentucky Ham," the singularly bizarre "Animal in the Pit"), while leaving enough time in between to tell a few war stories, including the early summer stock version of On a Clear Day, where, during a duet with Prince, co-star Jack Jones forgot all of his lines. Prince took a few minutes before her Sept. 20 show to discuss her current gig and her [possible] return to Broadway.
Playbill On-Line: This is your first solo cabaret gig. How are you liking it?
Faith Prince: I'm loving it! It's one of the hardest things I've ever done, though. You're the whole show! You don't get to go off and then somebody else comes on for a couple of scenes and then you get to come back on. You keep going. It's very different.
PBOL: How long did it take to put together?
FP: We started in May. We did the Public for two nights in July, then took it out to Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor [Long Island]. We've been taking numbers out, putting new numbers in. So, Sept. 13 was the first time I had done that particular show.
PBOL: You seem to be concentrating on your cabaret act these days. Any reason for the emphasis?
FP: Because I had never done it. People had asked me to put something together for a long time. I had been wanting to do it, but it seemed I could never clear the schedule. You really can't be doing something else while you're doing this. I put aside three jobs this summer to concentrate on it. I just wanted to be able to tour it if I wanted to, elongate it. I just needed a good section of time to see what I needed. I'm hoping it's the kind of thing I can do on and off.
PBOL: The night I came, Adolph Green, Betty Comden, Phyllis Newman and Kitty Carlisle Hart were in the room. That's a pretty good audience.
FP: I'll say. They're amazing. [Comden and Green and I] formed a friendship when we did Bells Are Ringing last summer at the Kennedy Center. So, I'm close to them. And I did their tribute [at Carnegie Hall, Sept. 16-17]. PBOL: Yes, you starred in Bells Are Ringing in DC and included a song from the show in your act. Would you like to do that show in New York?
FP: Yes. We're trying to work it out to have the show come in [to Broadway] next fall. The music is just so great and nobody's ever revived it since Judy Holiday first did it. It's for a very specific personality. But, what a great piece.
PBOL: Any other dream roles?
FP: The Apple Tree, as far as revivals. Anything with Barbara Harris in it. I like On a Clear Day, obviously -- I do material from that in the show. Anything where there is a crossover between leading woman and comic actress.
PBOL: Is Barbara Harris an actress you admire?
FP: Oh! I just think she's genius.
PBOL: In these interviews, we usually ask people what is the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to them onstage, but it sounds like that Jack Jones thing probably takes the cake. Was that in fact the strangest stage experience of your career?
FP: [Laughs] I could tell you a couple others. Once when I was doing the Encores! series, with Fiorello! -- it was the beginning of that whole thing. "Hold your script, etc." By the third night, I was feeling pretty comfortable and I thought, "I know this song," and I closed the book and started to sing -- and I went up big time. I was right in the middle of "The Very Next Man" with a 30-piece orchestra behind me. And my husband was playing trumpet. And I could hear [conductor] Rob Fisher behind me going, "She's at 56. No, she's at 62. No, 66." We were headed for a huge train wreck. And my husband instinctively knew what I had done and I suddenly heard his trumpet go, "Ba Da BA!" and I sang the next lyric and I got right back on. He saved me.
--By Robert Simonson