Dee Hoty is quite the theatrical chameleon. On Broadway she has been nominated for Tonys for playing Will Rogers' wife (Will Rogers Follies), a small town minister's wife (Footloose), and a Madame (Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public). Her credits also include everything from a double entendre wielding tennis player (City of Angels) to a tap dancing cockney wench (Me and My Girl). I caught up with Dee while she was in Seattle rehearsing Anything Goes in which she plays Reno Sweeney, and she was kind enough to give up her dinner break.
Jonathan: Welcome to Talkin' Broadway, Dee. Did I give you enough time to finish dinner?
Dee: You did … your timing is just perfect, in fact; you stopped me from choking down any more slices of focaccia!
J: This is a ten out of twelve [hours of rehearsal] day for you isn't it?
D: Yes it is.
J: What an awful day to do that to you guys … the day after Thanksgiving when you are lucky if you're even able to move!
D: We're all dead on our feet from tryptophan poisoning.
J: Just the thing you need when you have to do intense tap combinations.
D: Oh my God, Jonathan, you have no idea! I keep telling them "I'm an old woman! You can't make me do that!"
D: It's the 1962 version, which was performed Off-Broadway with Hal Linden and … oh my God … I just blanked on her name … she was the Lisa Kirk of her time. She was a great actress with a whiskey voice. [It was later determined to be Eileen Rodgers ]
J: How does it differ from the original version with Ethel Merman?
D: I'm not exactly sure, because there is no copy of that original script. There are various pieces of the show that were recorded, and a hunk of it ended up in the movie version, but there is no full copy.
J: Which explains all the various versions floating around.
D: Right. David Armstrong, [the director] has said that this book is closest to what people believe the original was like.
J: Is it pretty close to the recent Lincoln Center revival?
D: Not really. The Lincoln Center rewrote the character of Moonface Martin and renamed the gun moll … she went from being Bonny to Irma; it's the same character, but she sings two different numbers. In the Lincoln Center version she just sang "Buddy Beware" and in this one she gets a number in each act; "Let's Step Out" and "Heaven Hop."
J: When I heard you were doing Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes I thought it was quite the departure for you, since I didn't associate you with classic tap dancing musical comedy shows. But then I noticed on your resume you were in Me and My Girl so what do I know!
D: I replaced Jane Summerhays in Me and My Girl, which was my first all singing/all tapping/all acting Broadway musical. And I went from that to what I call 'cheekbone roles;' all those parts where you just stand around looking great, like in City of Angels.
J: At least you got a killer song in City of Angels, the infamous "Tennis Song"
D: I love that number. And it was great doing it with Jim Naughton. I begged Cy for a number in the second act, but ... the show was long enough! (laughing)
J: So there is no cut song?
D: Nope. I just learned when they published the songbook, that there were words for "Alaura's Theme," which was never sung by the pit singers in the quartet.
J: Have you ever heard Nancy LaMott's Christmas CD? I love the way Zippel rewrote "Stay with Me" to make it Christmasy on the album.
D: Yup … My personal favorite Christmas album is … oh, you probably don't care!
J: Tell me! I just did a column for Talkin' Broadway featuring about 40 Christmas Albums, so a new one would be most welcomed!
D: Do you know the Esquivel Christmas Album [Merry Christmas From The Space-Age...]?
J: No I don't …
D: Remember Esquivel, who did that space-aged bachelor pad music that came out in the mid-90's? Well they have a Christmas Album that will just make you scream, it's so funny!
J: My favorite is Blame it on Christmas, and since I wasn't able to put it in the review, I can mention it now (both laugh). It's hysterical … it presents all these mock recordings like The Three Weissmen's "Schlepp the Halls With Loaves of Challah" or "Jingle Bells" done as if by Fiddler on the Roof. Or a high school band's version of "The Silent Night's Spangled Banner."
Now back to the topic at hand … I see on your credits that you were in one of my favorite shows, and one I would kill to do, Forbidden Broadway.
D: I was a replacement for the original cast.
J: In Boston or New York?
D: In New York, when it was being done at 72nd Street. I was doing Patti LuPone in Evita and Linda Ronstadt in Pirates ..., Lauren Bacall in Woman of the Year … I was Ethel Merman to Chloe Webb's Mary Martin … we would switch parts on that one, though.
J: I will have to check and see if you are on the original CD then …
D: I'm not, because they didn't record it until several years afterwards.
J: Is Anything Goes your first Cole Porter musical?
D: Yes, and I am beyond delighted! It's really a lot of fun, mainly because it contains all this classic music. When the orchestra strikes up the first notes you realize that you know the song … even the verses! And we are doing orchestrations which were written for a big Broadway orchestra which is great fun.
J: Have you ever done cabaret work?
D: I have. The hard part is … I've always been fortunate enough to consistently get work on Broadway …
J: And choosing between Broadway and a cabaret club, no matter how grand, is a no brainer!
D: Right. I did Rainbow and Stars and the old Russian Tea Room before they closed. And I've been approached by Arci's to do a show there. The problem is having enough time to put a show together amidst everything else I'm doing, and then booking a date and being able to commit to it. And, quite frankly, it's hard to make a living doing cabaret.
J: The better word is impossible …
D: I remember talking to Julie Wilson, who mentioned that it's not like how it was in the old days, when you would play ten weeks in New York, and then do twelve weeks in Chicago and ten more in San Francisco, and then do Florida and Dallas before returning to New York. And you could make a living doing that. Now most places only want you to stay for a short period of time … we're too used to 192 cable channels and want constant change and choices. So by the time the audience figures out that you're in town, you're already gone!
J: Have you thought about putting out a solo album?
D: I have. But I've not been approached by anyone to do one …
J: Well shame on the proverbial "them!"
D: Exactly! (laughing). A friend of mine was playing on his computer last year and had fun burning a CD that he called "Dee Hoty Broadway" which featured all the songs I have recorded on various cast albums. My mother was visiting and was shocked because she didn't have that album! (laughing)
J: What do you have lined up after Anything Goes?
D: Nothing at the moment. Something will come along; I have lots of irons in the fire. So let's just say that I'm considering several options …
J: … but nothing that you can discuss at present!
D: Right! Lots of pots on the stove, but nothing boiling yet!
J: Well best of fates, and I am looking forward to seeing you tapping your heart out!