By Ben Rimalower
07 Feb 2014
Theatre journalist Eddie Shapiro's new book, "Nothing Like A Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater," is released Feb. 7 by Oxford University Press. The 384-page hardcover boasts extensive candid interviews with Elaine Stritch, Carol Channing, Chita Rivera, Donna McKechnie, Angela Lansbury, Leslie Uggams, Judy Kaye, Betty Buckley, Patti LuPone, Bebe Neuwirth, Donna Murphy, Lillias White, Karen Ziemba, Debra Monk, Victoria Clark, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Sutton Foster and Laura Benanti.
Shapiro knew some of the women, or had at least interviewed them before, but it was his early coup of convincing Chita Rivera to participate that helped him woo such an impressive group of subjects. These great ladies of the stage offer a funny, warm, informative and dishy look at the experience of life on Broadway.
I am astonished by how frank these conversations are. Did the women have a chance to edit or review their chapters?
Eddie Shapiro: Yes. And it's their words, so I wanted them be able to make changes and cuts. And some did. Or in some cases, I would say, "Are you sure you want me to print that?"
Did you see themes consistent in many of their experiences?
ES: It's so interesting. They've all gotten to the same place, but they all took such different routes to get there and they all experience being there in such different ways.
I read in the book that you interviewed Patti LuPone at her beach house and spent Thanksgiving with Elaine Stritch? Did you have to jump through any weird hoops to get to any of the women?
ES: I mean, with Patti and Elaine, I was thrilled. Those weren't hoops. They're all different, though. Some will just call me or email me. And then with others, it's always through an assistant or manager, some I met at their agent's offices. Once I'm there with them, it's always hugs and kisses, but some are more guarded, have more walls to get to that point.Continued...