What's New on the Rialto
Put a Little Love in Your Mouth
by Jonathan Frank
To state that Amanda Green has show biz coursing through her veins is a bit of an understatement. While one must acknowledge her theatrical pedigree (her father was the late and greatly lamented Adolph Green, who, with Betty Comden, was responsible for the lyrics to such classic shows as On the Town and Bells are Ringing, and her mother is actress Phyllis Newman), Amanda is also an award-winning performer and songwriter. On March 17th, Amanda will be celebrating the release of her latest CD, Put A Little Love in Your Mouth, with a concert at Second Stage Theatre where she will be joined with a plethora of guest stars.
Jonathan Frank: Good morning, Amanda! Have you and Adam Guettel considered forming a support group for children of songwriters who end up being songwriters themselves?
Amanda Green: (Laughs) Yes! He and I get together with Daisy Prince and Emily Loesser every other week! No, we don't but that's a funny idea ...
JF: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a songwriter?
AG: I always knew I wanted to do something in the theater. While I always wrote poems and songs for my family, it wasn't until later that the idea of being a songwriter came to me. I started out as an actress and everybody knows how frustrating that is and how little control one has over one's destiny. And then when you do get a part, you don't get to say what you want to say or be creative in the way you necessarily would like to be. So songwriting provided me a creative outlet.
JF: Was your mom sorry to see you forsake her career for your dad's?
AG: Yes (laughs) She was bitter and angry and we still haven't made up. (Laughs) Just kidding.
JF: One of the loveliest and most poignant songs on your CD is "Daddy's Shoulders." Are you going to be performing it in the show?
AG: I don't think so. I have to retire that song. It was hard enough singing that song when my dad was alive. I sang it at his memorial, which about took it out of me. I will sing it again someday, but I have to put it away for a while.
JF: Very understandable. I'm sure he's thrilled that you are keeping the family songwriter tradition alive.
AG: He was very proud of me and my writing and got a big kick out of it.
JF: I know you are active as a performer in the cabaret world. Do you still act in theatrical shows at all?
AG: I do when they fall into my lap. I was involved with Avenue Q for several years ... unfortunately I didn't make the final cut. I was playing Gary Coleman, which was really fun. I love acting and I love singing, which is why I do these shows with these incredible people and stick myself in them!
JF: Speaking of which, how have rehearsals been going for your gala on the 17th?
AG: Very well. It features an incredible group of people. It's an embarrassment of riches, actually, having all these talented people singing my stuff.
JF: So far, who is lined up to join you?
AG: At this point it's twelve or thirteen: Mary Testa, Jessica Molaskey, Billy Stritch, Kim Lindsay, Jonathan Dokuchitz, John Pizzarelli, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Norbert Leo Butz,, Phyllis Newman ...
JF: How did you ever get her? (Laughs)
AG: I have connections! (laughs) ... Julia Murney, Clarke Thorell and I think Mario Cantone. So it's an incredible group of people. A majority of them are on the CD.
JF: I saw you perform at the New Mondays series at The Duplex last year, at which you primarily showcased your comic material. Your CD, however, has several beautiful and poignant numbers.
AG: Thank you. You can't be funny all the time, you have to have a mix ... otherwise it gets tiresome. I actually didn't start out writing comic numbers. My early songs were these mopey ballads about the terrible relationships I was having or not having. It took a while before I found my lighter side (laughs). But comedy is really fun to write and even more fun to perform.
JF: You've gone about as far as you can go in comedy land territory with "The V Song," which is basically a list song of terms for female genitalia.
AG: I have a funny story about that song. Joan Hamburg [who works for WOR radio in New York] is a friend of mine and wanted to talk about my CD on her radio show. She asked the engineer to put on a cut and he put on "The V Song" without listening to it beforehand. Apparently there was havoc in the halls of WOR! (Laughs). There were people in the halls yelling, "Turn it off! Turn it off!" A friend of mine's father called me up to say, "I was filling up my car at the gas station and I heard your voice singing a song about vaginas!" I think that was the first and last radio airing that song will get.
JF: "The V Song" is from a musical, correct?
AG: Yes. It's from a show called Up the Week Without a Paddle, for which I wrote the score with Curtis Moore. The book writers are two women from LA, Lauren Bowles and Lauren Cohn, and it played out in LA a couple of years ago where it did extremely well. It has not been done here in New York or elsewhere, which is a shame. I also wrote another musical with them called Once Upon a Prime Time, which was also produced in LA. I'm working on a couple of musicals that hopefully will be produced here in New York.
JF: Especially since you are a native New Yorker.
AG: I am a total New York girl, born and raised.
JF: You won two MAC Awards in 1999. One for Outstanding Musical Comedy Performer and one for your song, "Every Time a Friend Succeeds."
AG: I did. I also won a Bistro Award for the song as well.
JF: Of course the sentiments of the song, namely that every time a friend succeeds a little bit of us dies inside, is not at all applicable to us!
AG: Never! I wrote it about a friend. (Laughs)
JF: Well, hopefully your show on the 17th and your CD will provide a similar 'little death' in a multitude of people.
AG: Thank you ... I think! (Laughs)
The release party/show of Amanda Green's CD, Put a Little Love in Your Mouth, will take place on Monday, March 17th at 8pm at Second Stage Theatre (307 West 43rd St, New York City). Tickets are $25 ($20 for subscribers and students) and can be purchased by calling (212) 246-4422.
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