Regional Reviews: Seattle
Interview with Mary Gordon Murray
Murray, an '80s daytime soap heroine of ABC's "One Life to Live" (as county yokel turned country music superstar Becky Lee Abbott), has performed such diverse Broadway leading and featured roles as Queenie and Rosamund in The Robber Bridegroom, Monica and Cleo in I Love My Wife, Belle in the 1982 revival of Little Me, for which she received a Tony Award nomination, The Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, and most recently as Virginia in Hands on a Hardbody. We spoke a few days before Cabaret set up shop in Seattle.
David-Edward Hughes: Pardon a fan boy moment to start with, Mary. I used to watch you every day on "One Life to Live" as you sang and suffered through three turbulent marriages as Becky Lee Hunt Jackson Abbott Buchanan from 1979-1986.
Mary Gordon Murray: Oh my god!
DEH: And what a great distance that was from what you are doing now, as the tender but tough Fraulein Schneider.
MGM: It's a great role I have done several times over the years in different versions of the show. From the Joel Grey revival retake version, which I did with Marcia Milgram Dodge in the 1980s, to this radically rethought Sam Mendes version which I am doing now. The early ones had much less skin and were much less dirty ... but always, always I have played the role of Fraulein Schneider.
DEH: To me yours is the go to role to have. Those songs ...
MGM: Her songs are wonderful. Without question my favorite is "What Would You Do?" as it is a culmination of what the piece is all about. I stand there in a very presentational way, and I get to speak the truth. It's pretty phenomenal.
DEH: Are you sweet on your co-star who plays your star-crossed lover, Herr Schultz?
M-G-M: Oh my goodness yes! His name is Scott Robertson, and he was actually a cover in the 1990s version at Studio 54. He's wonderful, and thank goodness, as we're on the road, which can be difficult. But yes, yes, yes, we have a blast!
DEH: How long have you been out on this tour?
MGM: I joined it after the first six months in California, which is convenient as it is where I live, so that was last August, and I'll be doing it through this August, when we're done, so it will be a full year.
DEH: So you live in California, but you have been here before with the national tour of Footloose. I met you briefly at a soiree they threw for the Seattle premiere.
MGM: That was a while ago!
DEH: I really thought that musical was a sleeper, and I was not a fan of the film it was based on. But I was lucky enough to have seen you shine in the first Broadway revival of Little Me, one of my very favorite of all musical comedies.
MGM: That really wasn't there that long, only a couple of months. It always gets to me how many folks say they had seen it! That was while I was on the soap. Jimmy Coco was so wonderful, and we sang a duet, "I Wanna Be Yours," which was written for and only in that version of the show. That was pretty special.
DEH: And then, when you had your son, you moved to L.A.?
MGM: For a better life. Not so much going out of town, more stability. My son's name is Patrick Nichols, and he is a really good guy. Now he's 21, so I could actually go out with this tour.
DEH: And a few years before Cabaret you were a featured star in Hands on a Hardbody with Keith Carradine and Hunter Foster. Good reviews, written by Amanda Green, Trey Anastasio, and Doug Wright. What derailed it?
MGM: It was a fascinating, wonderful piece to work on and yet it never took off. We had more Drama Desk Award nominations than any show that season. It is a really marvelous piece of work based on real people that had inspired a documentary. I was so thrilled to be back on Broadway, after being a mom and spending a long time doing movies and TV and theatre in L.A. So sad that it didn't last longer. But it is now done all over the country, and gets amazing reviews and response. The authors did a great job. There'll be something else down the pike for Amanda, for sure, and Doug already has War Paint.
DEH: Well, there better be something else down the pike that brings you back to Seattle and maybe keeps you here longer. Wonderful to speak to you, Mary, and may you have many more lives to live, all of them rich in memories!
MGM: Oh, thank you, David, same to you!
Cabaretperforms at the Paramount Theatre through June 25, 2017. For tickets or information visit Seattle Theatre Group online at www.stgpresents.org. For more information on the tour, including future dates, visit www.cabaretmusical.com.