Broadway Actress and Mom Valerie Wright Cooks Up Show-Tune-Flavored CD for Kid Market

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16 Oct 2003

CD cover art for
CD cover art for "Green Beans on the Floor."
Broadway actress Valerie Wright, a fiery Lola to Jerry Lewis' devil in the Broadway and touring revival of Damn Yankees, is dancing to a new tune as a singer and writer of children's music.

Wright has released a new 10-song CD, "Green Beans on the Floor," featuring her on lead vocals, and backup vocals by actress pals Linda Romoff and Brigid Brady. The disc is aimed at the family market, specifically kids 2-6, and features show-tune-worthy songs in styles ranging from calypso to French waltz to jazz and blues and doo-wop.

Titles include "Menagerie" (an animal list song), "ABC" (a teaching song using animals), "Little Teeth," "Keep It Clean" (about hygiene), "Military Drill" (telling a day in the life of a child), "Toute Suite Ballet" (the lullaby waltz), "Sticky Little Fingers," "Travel Song" and "Foodie" (with a hook that admonishes, "Keep your food on the table!").

Wright told Playbill On-Line she would never have called herself a songwriter (and is still reluctant to), but tunes and lyrics started pouring out of her after the 2000 birth of her son, Luca. While spending the day and night with Luca (and when husband Mark Lotito was off doing a show — he's now in Broadway's The Producers), Wright would create little ditties that mirrored their activities.

"A lot of it took place at feeding time, when he was in his high chair, or at bath time or bedtime," Wright explained. "At that age there is not a lot of interaction, so I think a lot of it came out of he and I being alone a lot and me talking to him. I just started singing silly tunes and lyrics based on everything he was doing — teething, throwing his food everywhere. A friend would come over and I would say, 'Listen to this.'"



Friends thought her songs were fresh and fun, and they encouraged her to put them down. She enlisted Larry Yurman, associate conductor of Thoroughly Modern Millie, to create musical arrangements. The two had met working on the musical, 3hree. The "Green Beans" disc was recorded and mixed over many months.

"This did not come out of a plan to be a songwriter," Wright said. "I never even dabbled that way. But it was thrilling because it was creative...and it was my only creative outlet at the time."

What Wright was — and remains — is a musical theatre actress who appeared in Broadway's Cats, Songs and Dance, Sally Marr and Her Escorts, Steel Pier and Annie Get Your Gun (in which she played Dolly and understudied Bernadette Peters).

Friends and colleagues have encouraged her to explore the songs as a possible basis for a stage show for the children's concert-and-theatre market, but for now it's one step at a time. She's simply hoping her disc (billed on the cover as "musical whimsey") has a life after catching the ears of kids and parents.

Wright and Lotito's second child is due in March 2004. Who can say? Maybe a second disc will result.

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"Green Beans on the Floor" is produced by Linda Romoff (known for her work in Broadway shows , including Thoroughly Modern Millie).

The disc is available at Manhattan specialty shops such as Bank Street Bookstore and is expected to be available at the Scholastic book store in New York City. For information about "Green Beans on the Floor," e-mail lumaval@juno.com.