The showbiz veteran, who made her Broadway debut in the 1980 musical Barnum and shared a stage with Liza Minnelli in Stepping Out at Radio City, spoke with Playbill.com about the roles she'd love to play, her latest album, the ups and downs of show business and her new life with her wife Donna Barnett.
Welcome back to New York. You recently moved to L.A., correct?
Terri White: Yes! It's crazy. You leave, you think you've moved away, and here I am less than a year later! [Laughs].
When I first moved to New York, I became familiar with your performances at Rose's Turn, where you performed just feet away from your audience. Since then, you've made a Broadway comeback and played to large houses with Finian's Rainbow and Follies. What's the dynamic like, returning to an intimate space like 54 Below?
TW: When I perform, I always feel that I'm performing one-on-one, so that I feel like I'm speaking to each person individually through song. Being able to go through emotions – not everything is hunky-dory, and not everything is sad – being able to take people through a little bit of my lifetime and share in theirs. There are times during a song I see people in the audience nodding their heads like, "Yeah, I understand." That's the type of thing I like to portray.
One of my favorites is "Everything Must Change." I know you have a new show, but is it one of those songs you can't not sing?
TW: I still do it. It's kind of like my "New York, New York." If I don't do it, people always say, "You didn't do it!" I have a couple of staple songs and it's just appropriate, and I think it is every day that something changes. Even with gay marriage, it's another change. You can't stifle yourself and stay in one place. It's about progression, about things having changed.
You chart some deep emotional territory with that song. Is that something that has always come easy?
TW: I like to share my emotions. I take down the fourth wall. Especially with an act of your own, it is a personal time in which you share and get a response back from the audience, and whether it hurts or not - whether it's painful and I cry - it's a moment that we share.
The last time New York audiences saw you in a solo show was at Feinstein's. You've since taken the evening on the road. What can New Yorkers expect this time around?
TW: I've changed a few songs since Feinstein's. I feel like I've really cleaned up the show. This time it flows. I think I finally got it right.
You have a new album out as well.
TW: Yes, it's called "Upon Request." It's all songs that over the years that have been requested. I couldn't put them all on, or it would be about 12 CDs [laughs], but I really love what happened to this one. We put a lot of work into this.
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