PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER With Michele Lee, Going From "Knots Landing" to 54 Below

By Ben Rimalower
26 Jan 2014

I'm curious about the revue, Vintage '60 — your Broadway debut — because they don't do shows like that anymore.

ML: I auditioned for it before I graduated high school. My father was a make-up artist, and he brought home one of the trade papers, like Variety or the Reporter, and because I wanted to be in the business, he said, why don't you go to this audition?... You'll see what it is to be turned down, and... the difficult road that you're going to have. And so, I went to audition for the show... of course, at that age, you have absolutely no idea that you have to make a living. You have no idea that there's going to be critics and reviews, and things that are going to say: You're good! You're bad! You're lousy! You're too fat! You're too thin! and I was very good — in fact I was excellent — in fact I was beyond excellent because I had no idea... So they stood up and applauded, really. I came home, and the phone rings, and it's the producers of the show, and they say I got it. So my father had to eat his make-up sponge. Anyway, David Merrick saw the show and took it to Broadway.

You've worked with so many of the greats of several different generations. Personally speaking, I was so excited that after your long run on "Knots Landing," you chose to come back to Broadway in, of all things, a Charles Busch play, The Tale Of The Allergist's Wife.

ML: Charles is such a good friend. We're still very, very close. I just talked with him a couple of days ago.

It was such as thrill to see you in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife. You were so terrific in that. And I wonder, did that you whet your appetite to be back onstage after so many years away from Broadway?

A: No, actually, it didn't really whet my appetite. It was always whet!