Spotlight on Marcia Lewis

A veteran of nine Broadway shows and countless stock and cabaret appearances across the country, Marcia Lewis, 1997 Tony Award nominee - her second Tony nomination - for her performance as Matron Mama Morton in the smash Broadway re-staging of Chicago, has had audiences cheering for more than three decades. Her first solo CD, "Marcia Lewis Nowadays," has just been released on the Original Cast Records label.

Marcia made her Broadway musical debut in Hello Dolly playing opposite both Phyllis Diller and Ethel Merman. Her first Broadway dramatic role was in The Time of Your Life at Lincoln Center. Prior to setting the stage alight with her rendition of "When You're Good to Mama, Mama's Good to You" in the current and continuing production of Chicago, she appeared at Playwright's Horizon in Romance Language and Miami, Tommy Tune's Bye Bye Birdie, Fiddler on the Roof with Topol, Orpheus Descending with Vanessa Redgrave, Cabaret with Joel Grey, Roza with Georgia Brown, and Rags with Teresa Stradas. For a year and a half she starred as the mean Miss Hannigan in Annie. Her role in Rags earned her a Drama Desk nomination as best supporting actress. Her appearance as Miss Lynch, the school principal, in Grease won her her first Tony Award nomination.

Marcia's cabaret appearances are legendary, having run the gamut from the prestigious Rainbow & Stars, Jan Wallman's upstairs at the Duplex, New York's famed Upstairs at the Downstairs in Let Yourself Go to gigs at Brothers and Sisters, Barbarann's, Grande Finale, Reno Sweeney's, Ibis, Freddy's, Eighty-Eights, Town Hall, Triad, The Village Gate and the Russian Tea Room. Oh, and she's also performed her one-woman concert at Carnegie Hall.

She's won the Bistro Award for Best Musical Comedy performance, the coveted MAC Award, and the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to numerous television appearances, Marcia made her film debut in the award-winning Night Warning. She has also been seen in Curtain Call, and as The Frog Lady in the MGM science fiction comedy caper Ice Pirates.

Marcia is currently appearing with Chita Rivera and Ben Vereen in the new production of Chicago at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino theatre in Las Vegas.

VJ: So listen Marcia, welcome to Las Vegas.

ML: Hi-i-i-i-i-i. Thank you, glad to be here.

VJ: Are you excited about coming to Las Vegas with the new production of Chicago?

ML: You know, they’ve offered me other companies to go to and be a part of. I kept saying no, no, I’m going to stay in New York, I want to stay in New York but there was something about this one. This voice inside me just said G-O-O-O G-O-O-O! I’ve only played here once before and it was a one-night gig when I started doing my night club act in 1975. We came in and tried it out in a bar, ran in town, did it, ran out of town. And fixed it, you know, so we got an idea of what we had.

VJ: Any chance of doing the nightclub act while you’re here?

ML: I thought about it. Not the first month. I just need a rest right now. I’m going to take my days and just swim and have massages! ... and do Chicago at night. But maybe later in the run, I don’t know ... I’m here for three months.

VJ: How do you feel about working with Chita?

ML: Awwww, I wanna sit on that stage in my little black chair and watch her do "Roxie" every night, like I have for the past going on three years. Yeah, I think it’s going to be magnificent. I’ve known Chita it seems like all my life ... I’m just such a fan. She's phenomenal!

VJ: Does this mean that you’ll be doing this for three months and then are you going back to the Broadway run?

ML: Oh yeah, I’m going back to Broadway definitely. This is just a leave of absence for me to get it open, to get it going and to get a breath of fresh air, you know, just a new company, new people, new adjustments to make.

VJ: They said it was going to be just a 17 week run but it looks like it’s going to be a permanent ...

ML: Open end.

VJ: Right.

ML: I think I’m the only one who’s limited to three months.

VJ: Let’s go back a little bit. How did you get the role of Matron Mama Morton? Were you involved ...

ML: I begged for it.

VJ:: (laughing) Were you involved from the beginning?

ML: Yeah. I was, from the beginning. I was the last one hired.

VJ: At City Center?

ML: At City Center ... because I kept pleading for an audition. I called everybody I knew and they kept saying ... it wasn’t time ... they weren’t ready to cast her yet and lo and behold just before who was picked was announced ... it was said they had a star for the role of Mama Morton. And I said well I guess that’s why I couldn’t get an audition and I accepted that ... and I didn’t work on any numbers or anything. And suddenly the star who was going to do it, Lainie Kazan, got a pilot. God gave her a pilot and at the same time gave me an audition.

VJ: Isn’t that wonderful ...

ML: I auditioned on a Wednesday morning late and by the time I got to my dressing room ... I was in Grease at the time ... I had an offer, but I had to accept it by one o’clock. I had to call my producers and say ‘Will you let me out for four nights to do this at City Center?’ They said ‘NO.’ They weren’t going to let me out. I said ‘even if I got my own understudy?’ ... because it was hard for an eighteen year old ... most of the kids in Grease were young. My understudy was eighteen years old and it just didn’t read for an old teacher.

VJ: Right.

ML: So I asked Dodie Goodman would she do it for me. She said ‘I’ll do it for a week’ so I said take it for a week and I talked to Fran Weissler and she said ‘o.k.’

VJ: The Weisslers were involved with the Encore series?

ML: No. They produced Grease.

VJ: Right. I see, of course ...

ML: And they had to give me permission for missing four shows.

VJ: Uh-huh..

ML: And I called my old friend Dodie who had done it on the road. She said she’d love to do it in New York.

VJ: So the Weisslers didn’t do the Encore series, it was afterwards ...

ML: No. They came to see it.

VJ: Smart.

ML: As a matter of fact the night after they saw it I received a phone call from Fran. She said ‘Who has the rights to Chicago?’ I said I’m really not sure. She said ‘do you have Walter Bobbie’s phone number?’ I said ‘yes I do’ and I was sure he really wouldn’t mind me giving it.

VJ: Right.

ML: But I think four, five or six producers bid on it and the Weisslers got it and I was really happy that they got it.

VJ: You’ve worked with them a number of times?

ML: This is my sixth Weissler show. They have been really good to "Mama."

VJ: Did anybody, during the Encores thing, did anybody there think that it was going to be this big?

ML: I knew it, I mean I didn’t know it was going to be this big. I knew I had to do it And I knew I really wanted to do it. And Fran even said to me ‘why do you want to do that?’ I said I saw it 24 years ago and I want to play that part. And the more we rehearsed it ... we rehearsed it in a week, y’know, but when I saw it I went (gasping for air) ... this is REALLY special.

VJ: How was it?

ML: The opening night I thought the roof was going to fly off the top of the building. It’s the most exciting thing I think I’ve ever been involved in.

VJ: I saw the original production back in ’75 and your performance is different than Mary McCarthy ...

ML: McCarty. We went to church together in L.A.

VJ: McCarty. It seems yours is more cutting-edge if that makes sense ... tougher, just a little, just the way you do it. How did you approach the role to make it your own?

The Girls ML: Walter Bobbie said Mama's biggest quality was the power, the power that she had. And I read a little bit, y’know this is based on a real woman who use to hang up curtains between the girl’s cells and they gave her a little money, you know, and get them things they wanted and they reciprocated ... reciprocity

VJ: Right, right ...

ML: And it’s all about power. It’s all about what she can get, what she can give, for what she wants and it just developed. We had found the rhythm of how it’s got to move along. We found that just before we started previewing and it made such a difference. Yeah, it was great. We had books in our hands when we did the Encore so not until we went into the Richard Rogers theatre the following October in rehearsal ... we were without books so it changed even more than it was in concert.

VJ: You were nominated for a Tony Award for this. But this wasn’t the first time?

ML: No. I was nominated for Grease also which blew me away. I mean, I didn’t expect that and it was lovely. I’ve taken my mother twice with me. She said ‘Marcia, can we go one more time?’ I said I think that’s pushing it a little but we’ll see what we can do.

VJ: Well, how does it feel to be nominated?

ML: Oh, it’s just so thrilling.

VJ: Is it? How does it feel to sit in the theatre?

ML: It’s very nerve wracking. I mean to be a part of that group that sits in those chairs and waits to see ... it’s hard to pay attention to anything else that’s going on because you don’t know if you’re going to have to give a speech, do I still look all right, do I still have lipstick, I mean it’s so nervous and so thrilling and there’s nothing better than when they say the name. I’m sure it would be wonderful if it was YOUR name..

VJ: Right, right ...

ML: ... and then you go and you do it and it’s wonderful. But then that’s almost a good thing and you say thank God that’s over, I can just enjoy the show now.

VJ: Yeah.

ML: ... and there’s a little place in your heart that says oh no’. You know, wouldn’t that be nice to share that ... and those credits do count. But you are always a ‘two time Tony nominee.’

VJ:. Well, that’s right!

ML: That’s a title you always have now.

VJ: A lot of people associate you with comedic roles like Miss Hannigan in Annie and the principal in Grease. Does drama appeal to you?

ML: I’ve done quite a bit you know. I did Orpheus Descending with Vanessa Redgrave on Broadway. I had a little stroke when I was doing Cabaret on the road with Joel Grey ... in Grand Rapids, on stage I had it ... the right side of my face dropped and it took me about six weeks to get it back. And I paralyzed a chord, of course, and I couldn’t sing on pitch but I still kept doing ... I was in the hospital for awhile but I could still keep doing the show and it kind of helped the part in a strange way.

VJ: You were doing Fraulein Schneider?

ML: Fraulein Schneider. But I found that I got a little dizzy doing a musical and my doctor told me not to do a musical for a year. So I did things like Steel Magnolias, and I did Orpheus Descending, and I did you know whatever I could get, a couple of plays at Playwrights Horizon, a whole year of non-musical things. And I enjoyed them very much. It was the best learning situation I ever had. And I was supposed to go into Fiddler On The Roof and I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t spin or anything. And so two other girls played the part on the road, but then I took it into New York. I was able to, so that was my first musical after the stroke.

VJ: What year was the stroke?

ML: The stroke was nineteen no-di-lo-di-lo

VJ: 88?

ML: 88 ... 1988.

VJ: Yeah.

ML: That was the beginning of going out on the road.

VJ: I forget. Who else was in that? What was his name? From television ... Hogan’s Heros. Wasn’t he in that production? ... Strike that.

ML: Oh. Werner Klemperer?

VJ: Werner Klemperer, yeah.

ML: He was in the Broadway revival. This was one that replaced all the principals except Joel and it went out on the road again for a year. And that was mine.

VJ: Aha.

ML: So it was 88 or 89, whatever. And then I did Fiddler in 90.

VJ: In 90. Before the showbiz bug bit you, you lived in Cincinnati and you were a nurse?

ML: An R.N. The University of Cincinnati.

VJ: What made you leave the profession?

ML: When I was in high school I had a counselor that told me that I was crazy wanting to be a nurse ... that I was a natural born performer. And I went home and told my folks what he said (because he had seen me in a little show at school). And they said ‘do you want to be an actress?’ I said ‘well wouldn’t that be funny’, you know, I never really gave that much thought. (dramatically Garbo-ish) I never looked like the actress type.

Waitress ... do you have any pretzels? No? Oh. Okay.

Anyway they say ‘you really want to be a nurse?’ And I say ‘well’, and they say ‘well apply to both’ and I did and got accepted at the Pasadena Playhouse, which he (the counselor) suggested I apply to. And I still decided to do the nursing because I wasn’t an ingenue. Time was not of the essence and to have something solid ... it’s that old New England thing ... I grew up in Boston.

VJ: You were too old for ingenue and too young for leading lady..

ML: And even character.

VJ: And too young for character, yeah, ...

ML: So there was no rush. I thought well I’ll get the nursing and work nights and that’s exactly what I did. I went to New York City, showed up at Mount Sinai with two suitcases ... said I want to work nights with any of your babies, and I went to an Intensive Care unit for sick new babies, midnight til eight in the morning.

VJ: That’s something special to you, isn’t it?

ML: Well, yeah. It’s very responsible. And the babies ... I’d tell them about my auditions, you know, I’d rock them and feed them. I was in charge of three nurseries, the other two had Practical Nurses in it. They were the only people I talked to, the babies, so now I have in my act a baby number where I’m dressing a baby to go home ...

VJ: Aha. Which came first, the cabaret act or acting in stock productions?

ML: No. Stock. And Broadway. I didn’t do a club act, I mean, I ... Dolly was ’69, ‘70, and my next Broadway show was Annie in ’81 so I had a big long time between Hello Dolly and Annie. And in that time I went to California in the ‘70’s to get into television ... and I had so much free time on my hands because you do a job and it’s over in a week, you know, if it’s a sitcom. I decided to write a nightclub act and I did that in 1975. So the club act came after my first Broadway before my big Broadway ... my big Broadway really started in the 1980’s, especially took off in the ‘90’s.

VJ: Your Broadway debut was in Hello Dolly And with ...

ML: Phyllis Diller and Richard Deacon. That was such fun ... only three months.

VJ: And then you worked with Ethel ...

ML: Ethel Merman

VJ: Of course, Merman is legendary. How was it to work with her?

ML: Out of this world. I mean, you really get spoiled when your first really big Broadway show is with a legend, but she was great. We hit it off right away.

VJ: There’s always been talk that she was real tough backstage.

ML: She was tough backstage; the bawdiest woman I ever met in my life.

VJ: What?

ML: Bawdy.

VJ: Oh yeah?

ML: She was ... she loved dirty jokes, loved dirty words.

VJ: Uh-huh.

ML: She said on her opening night at intermission ... we were all back stage ... she says (imitating Merman) ‘anybody seen Clive Barnes? Where’s Clive Barnes sittin’?’ And for some reason I just knew where he was and I said ‘third row on the aisle.’ She says ‘Marcia, you’re just like me. You cry with one eye and count the house with the other.’

VJ: That’s rich! I guess reading about her that I found out what people call tough was that she was really a perfectionist.

ML: Absolutely.

VJ: Someone was watching a baseball game one time ... one of the crew backstage ... and she went over there and turned and said (my turn) ‘turn that fuckin’ set off’.

ML: Danny Loggin, who was playing "Barnaby". He also did the movie Barnaby. He was in a sublet the whole time in N.Y. Merman was in our show and he was there and they were getting ready to do the "dancing" number ... and Danny was saying just before he went on ‘Oh, the show's closing, and I’ve been taking care of this apartment and all the plants have died’ ... just before they made their entrance ... Merman said “Piss on ‘em, that’ll make ‘em grow.’ Everyone heard it backstage, and that was one of those numbers where everyone was laughing uncontrollably. But you don’t expect her to do that. As long as you know her you don’t expect she is going to do that.

VJ: Yeah

ML: We corresponded for years after that.

VJ: She also did some volunteer hospital work too.

ML: Roosevelt, took care of her father ... I don’t know who was first but took care of her ailing parent, and no sooner did that parent die, then the other one went in and she became like a volunteer throughout the hospital.

VJ: I have an old story about her. I had jaundice and woke up in the hospital with Ethel Merman in the same room, you know, doing volunteer work, so it’s an old story of mine.

ML: Wow, that’s a great story.

VJ: Yeah, yeah. Aside from Chicago you’ve done eight other Broadway shows?

ML: Right.

VJ: Which was your favorite?

ML: Chicago.

VJ: Of course. Second favorite?

ML: Second favorite? Well, that’s hard because of Dolly and the Merm. Miss Hannigan (Annie) is a part that I loved doing, a lot of dancing which I don’t get to do in a lot of other things ... “Easy Street” and what have you. And I just like the character.

VJ: You know when they recently did the revival, they used the commercials from your revival even though ...

ML: Not my revival, the end of the run.

VJ: Was it the end of the run? Yeah, the original run ...

ML: I was in it the last 2 years.

VJ: Right ... but they filmed the commercial ...

ML: Then they did a new commercial with Harve Presnell and me 1983, 82, something like that.

VJ: Yeah.

ML: I know, it was all over the New York Post. (referring to herself) "I was that white woman! in the commercial."

VJ: Yeah (laughing) Who was it?

ML: Nell Carter was starring in it.

VJ: Nell Carter, yeah.

ML: And I was that white woman!

VJ: And they were screaming racism.

ML: They’re still using it for the current tour. John Schuck is playing Daddy Warbucks. He’s been doing this tour for two years now. And Harve Presnell is in the commercial. It’s difficult to the ego when you’re the one doing all the work and suddenly somebody’s getting residuals for the commercial.

VJ: Yeah.

ML: But they didn’t want to spend any more money and they can rent it.

VJ: Sure. And it’s very costly ...

I saw Nell Carter here in Vegas and I was talking to her. She’s still pissed to this day.

ML: Oh. I know she is.

VJ: She’s furious.

ML: I know. I don’t blame her.

VJ: Well, let me ask you this then. Which was your least favorite Broadway show?

ML: (thinking) I’ve done Fiddler three times. Me and Neimiah Persoff, Theodore Bikel ... three times ... (pausing and thinking, and then finally) ... and Topol. And Topol did not like me.

VJ: Ah?

ML: And he made it a very unpleasant experience. He wanted to get me fired. He said I would not marry a woman like that. She’s too old, she’s too short and she’s too fat. And I was younger than him and for another thing he didn’t pick me, we were a matchmaker thing y’know.

VJ: Uh huh.

ML: Jerome Robbins picked me for that role and uh ... that’s all I cared about. And I would not ... Fran wanted me to leave it and do Bye Bye Birdie with Tommy [Tune]. And I wouldn’t leave because I didn’t want it to look like somebody had ... that he had pushed me out. In this day and age I just would have said B-y-y-e-e-e-e-e! Y’know, you live with your miserable self, I’ve got other work.

VJ: Yeah.

ML: He just didn’t like me. From day one he didn’t like me at all ... gave no help and would moan under my laugh lines ... I mean, he was just a baby, just a baby. He was wonderful with his family. He was wonderful with fans.

VJ: I can’t see why. I met you ten minutes ago and you’re so ...

ML: I’m so easy, you know, but no ... just didn’t have the chemistry ... one of our reviews said (dramatically) ‘it doesn’t look like Mr. Topol and Miss Lewis have a lot of chemistry. As a matter of fact when they sing the delightful song “Do You Love Me?”, he reaches over to touch her knee as if he were going to touch a Boa Constrictor!’

VJ: (howling) Oh good Lord!

ML: And he did. And I just ... .y’know, ‘get over yourself.’ Y’know, that was me at that time. I didn’t want anybody to think somebody had pushed me out so I stayed with the part longer than I should of ... to the end.

VJ: Between film work, television, Broadway ... you’ve done a lot of work on the cabaret circuit. What is it about cabaret that appeals to you?

ML: (whispering) The intimacy.

VJ: With the audience ...

ML: No fourth wall ... that you could be doing a song and look down and look somebody right in the eyes ... ‘and this is for you baby’, y’know that type of thing?

VJ: Uh huh, yeah.

ML: And when they’re looking at you and it’s, it’s the most personal ... when somebody does a club act, if they’re into truth and honesty by singing songs they like, and wearing what they like and talking who they are. Then the audience comes away feeling like they’ve really got to know them. That’s a big accomplishment.

VJ: Yeah.

ML: A lot of people get glitzy or take other people’s ... ‘you should do that song’, you know. If you don’t feel it in your heart, don’t do it.

VJ: I just had a vision of you at Reno Sweeny. You did do Reno Sweeny’s didn’t you.

ML: (Deadpanning) I did. I did ‘em all. And I closed the Grand Finale. I closed Freddy’s, forget it, Brother’s and Sister’s.

VJ: Tell me about Amazon April.

ML: I met Lindsey Wagner. She use to come to an old English music hall in Santa Monica where I played the first couple of years when I was in L.A. And she was Bionic Woman then ... and she had her wrap party at the music hall ... picked all the songs she wanted us to do that she’d seen us do over the year. And the producer was so delightful ... .and we’re at the bar afterwards and Lindsey said, ‘Hey Ken’, Kenneth Johnson I think was his name, ‘you should have a script for Marcia and me.’ It was like this type of thing. She’s tall and I’m short. Next thing I knew my agent calls and said ‘I got good news, bad news.’ I said ‘what’s the good news?’ He said they’ve written an episode of Bionic Woman for you. I said ‘what’s the bad news?’ He says ‘you’re playing a lady wrestler and you’re filming in August.’

VJ: Was it fun?

ML: Yeah ... it was painful. It was painful but it was fun.

VJ: It’s one of television’s classic episodes.

ML: Nine of the hottest days of my life in a fur costume, downtown, in that gym in L.A.

VJ: When you’re not performing what do you like to do most?

ML: I like to paint. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Finding the time for it is another reason I’m here. I do things I have to do, because of my career so painting takes a back seat but I love to paint.

VJ: Oil?

ML: Acrylics, as a matter of fact, faster drying. I just never learned oils, impatient.

VJ: What type of painting would it be? Landscape or ...

ML: I’ve painted portraits. I’ve painted illustration type things, I’ve painted floor cloths which are usually geometric ... it’s canvas from the turn of the century ... glaze them and you can walk on them ... any kind, anything that suits me ... I made my mother a cane ... by painting a cane and gluing rhinestones ... whatever. I love to paint flowers. Animals.

VJ: Do you cook?

ML: No. Never. EVER! That’s why I don’t want an apartment with a kitchen.

VJ: Right. I’ve heard many people talk about this. Recently Douglas Sills ...

ML: I love Douglas Sills ...

VJ: ... in Pimpernel. We did an interview with him and he talked about doing eight performances a week and my question to you is, how much of a strain is it?

ML: It’s a big strain, especially the weekends. Especially my schedule because we do a Friday night two Saturday, two Sunday. That’s usually what you do on the road, which you can do because you don’t have that much of a life on the road. But when you have a regular work week, during the day going for commercials or whatever, by the time you get to the weekend the last thing you need is five shows in 48 hours.

VJ: Ben Brantley in the New York Times said ‘Is Mama Morton, the proudly corrupt prison Matron Miss Lewis is as vital and deliciously nasty as she was in 1996 ... ’

ML: Isn’t he sweet?

VJ: ‘ ... giving lie to the notion that long runs make stale actors.’ How do you keep it fresh?

ML: Making it new everyday. The audience is different. The cast is different a lot of the times and you just try to find new ways to do it, plus Walter Bobbie comes in and redirects us when it’s time to take out the improvements, y’know. That helps me tremendously. He keeps a real good eye on us. Sometimes it’s a long time between it and ...

VJ: He’s doing the production here. That was him at the rehearsal.

ML: That was him. He’s an actor as well as a director and he has such an eye.

Nowadays VJ: Well, during your free time, you’ve managed to record your first solo CD, “Nowadays.” And the reviews have been great.

ML: I’m so proud of it. It’s like having a baby.

VJ: Was this a dream come true?

ML: Well, you know I’ve never thought of myself as a recording artist. I always thought I had a character voice, and I do. But I started studying, just before I got Chicago I found a great voice teacher, Judith Farris. I wanted to sing better and I started taking a couple lessons a week. And she has helped me find a different voice that I never knew I had. Maybe I always had it, I just never used it.

VJ: Even with all those years of musical theatre?

ML: Uh huh. Because most of my stuff was big belting stuff. But suddenly when you’re in front of a microphone, in a booth. It’s different than a microphone on a club stage where you can take it away. But when you’re right there, it’s the most ... it’s as intimate as a club act without the people there. I mean, when you’re singing in that microphone you know your going to be in people’s bedrooms, you’re going to be in the car. And it becomes a very personal thing.

VJ: Who selected the material? I mean, they seem very, very personal.

ML: Yeah. My musical director Mark Hummel. A director I use a lot, Barry Kleinbort did a couple of special material things that I use. Me. I put a couple together, something I wanted to sing. And then there was the two producers Bruce Yeko and Walter Willison. It’s quite a collaboration and people recommend you should sing this song and I’ll get it and I’ll try it and if it fits I do it.

VJ: And it’s doing well too, isn’t it?

ML: It’s really doing well, on Original Cast Records. Bruce Yeko told me that it’s reprinting, and reselling faster than any CD he’s ever made. It’s selling very well.

VJ: “Anyone Would Love You” from Destry Rides Again is my favorite and it ties in with what you just said about the microphone. Why did you pick this song?

ML: I’ve been doing that number for 20 years. When I first started doing my club act I wrote a monologue of my dressing a baby at Mount Sinai hospital, that they told me she was going home and I had taken care of her for four months. And she was going home. And I was to dress her and the parents were coming by like around 7 in the morning. They had never held her. In those days you didn’t, or you weren’t allowed in with the babies in intensive care. And I handed her over to her parents.

VJ: Uh huh.

ML: And I wanted to sing a lullaby to the baby as I was doing it. Instead of a lullaby we did a love song. And I had a writing partner at the time, Tracy Quinn who helped me put together the first act and he recommended that I sing it.

VJ: How was it decided that portions of the proceeds will be going to BC/EFA? Did you just decide to do that?

ML: I just went to Tom Viola and said I don’t know how this works. He said ‘well make a donation.’ You don’t make much really on a cabaret record but we sold it through Broadway Cares catalogue and they got some from selling it through there and then when we really started getting something back, even before then, I just send in a check.

VJ: That’s great. It’s wonderful ...

ML: We all wished it were more.

VJ: Well you’re flying back tomorrow and you’re going to be back in when?

ML: End of February, the 29th. We open March 2nd.

VJ: Are you going to be doing it in Toronto?

ML: Yes. Going to do it for a month in Canada.

VJ: And then here at the Mandalay Bay for 3 months and during that time we’re going to meet, I’ll teach you how to go online.

ML: Yeah. I’d like that. Then I can get e-mail.

VJ: And we’ll do lunch. Thanks Marcia.

ML: My pleasure.

The keeper of the keys, the countess of the clink, the mistress of murderer’s row, Matron Mama Morton got up and strolled to the casino lobby and I lost sight of her among the myriad slot machines.

I sat there sipping the beer Marcia treated me to. I had to arm wrestle her to get the check. She won. And I guess Marcia Lewis is a winner in more ways than one. We talked about her career highlights here, but I also knew she won her battle with cancer just after Fiddler in 1990 and she’s been a diabetic for over 30 years. So yes, Marcia is as tough as they come, just like the Merm. Tough and oh so deliciously sweet.

And remember ... When you’re good to Mama, Mama’s Good to You!.