With Prince, Wopat Warms up His Pipes

Special Features   With Prince, Wopat Warms up His Pipes Tom Wopat and Faith Prince will join forces in February for an evening of love songs at Feinstein's.
Tom Wopat
Tom Wopat Photo by Aubrey Reuben

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Though romantically attached to others offstage, in their new duet show, Let’s Fall in Love, Broadway stars Faith Prince and Tom Wopat plan to make some beautiful music together when they hit the stage of Feinstein’s at the Regency in Gotham for a two week-run, opening on Valentine’s Day.

How these performers found each other—and the composer their show salutes, Harold Arlen—was, Wopat admits, “pretty prosaic.”

Approached by their managers to couple for a concert tour three years ago, Wopat and Prince agreed and began the process of shaping a show. That’s when Wopat says he discovered Arlen. “I was looking for a follow-up to 'Still of the Night,' which is the first standards album I did for Angel Records. And, you know, I wanted some product with me on the tour,” he says with a rugged chuckle. That sophomore album, 'Dissertation on the State of Bliss,' would exclusively feature Arlen.

“At first, I was actually worried if I could make a varied and interesting album of just his material,” Wopat recalls. “But once we got into it, the harder thing was to decide what to pair it down to!” Best known as the composer of the music from 'The Wizard of Oz,' Wopat insists that “it is just some of the most beloved music of all time. But I think he is truly an under-appreciated composer. He’s one of those guys where people know the songs, they just don’t know that he wrote ’em.” Among the composer’s more well-known tunes are “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “Last Night When We Were Young,” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” “Blues in the Night,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “My Shining Hour,” “What’s Good About Goodbye,” “If I Only Had a Brain,” “Over the Rainbow” and “Stormy Weather.” Although the Arlen tribute that Prince and Wopat eventually created played an astounding 33 cities in six weeks last winter, Wopat says, “At Feinstein’s it’s gonna be a whole new show.” With a song list that includes Arlen highlights, the performer—who is still widely recognized as the hunky star of the eighties TV show “The Dukes of Hazard”—says he and Prince will be nodding to their Broadway hits as well.

“Faith is just an amazing comedienne and a wonderful singer. We’re doing ‘Sue Me,’ which should be a lot of fun," he says, referring to a number that helped Prince win a Tony Award as Miss Adelaide in the 1989 revival of Guys & Dolls. As for Wopat—whose Broadway resume also includes roles in Chicago, 42nd Street, I Love My Wife, Carousel and City of Angels—look for a duet from his Tony-nominated work in the 1999 revival of Annie Get Your Gun, which co-starred Tony Award winner Bernadette Peters.

One wonders what it’s been like for Wopat to return to his musical roots after surprising audiences and critics last season with his sensitive portrayal of a doomed milquetoast (and nightly victim of Liev Schreiber’s attacks) in the award-winning Broadway revival of David Mamet’s testosterone-fest-of-a-play, Glengarry Glen Ross. “I bless [director] Joe Mantello—very often,” he laughs. “Just for the opportunity he gave me of making that kind of discovery.” And now, serenading and swooning with Miss Prince? “Hey,” Wopat sighs, “I welcome what comes next!”