Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Karen Akers is Luisa Contini...

Back in spring 2004, I received an invitation from Peter Filichia to attend that year's Theatre World Awards at Studio 54. I graciously accepted and gladly attended - and I have been there every year since. I've noted before that it's one of my favorite events of the entire theatre season, filled with warmth and community, welcoming new talents. One of the fun things about the awards ceremony is that they invite past winners to present and occasionally perform.

Karen Akers was the performer that first year. She won the award back in 1982 for playing Luisa Contini in the original production of Nine, singing "My Husband Makes Movies" and "Be On Your Own," her characters two songs. I wish this video didn't cut Akers' comments between them as she talked about what it was like to work with director-choreographer Tommy Tune. She offered insight, especially regarding the latter song and her difficulty in getting what Tune wanted. His insightful direction, having her stand firm, with legs apart was something she wasn't comfortable. He realized that she was fearing that the the audience would hate her because of the song. Tapping into this fear, he helped her to give a masterful, masterful performance that garnered the singing actress a Tony nomination, as well as this award. For the ten minutes or so she was onstage, all I could think was "I am seeing Karen Akers...live...performing the songs she originated in Nine opposite Raul Julia..."

By the way, in the upcoming film version of Nine, "My Husband Makes Movies" has made the cut. However, for some reason (and I hope it's a good artistic one and not Oscar pandering), "Be On Your Own" has been scuttled in favor of a new solo for Marion Cotillard called "Take It All." Now I know not to judge something that I haven't had the opportunity of hearing, but all I will say is that it better be one hell of a good song to erase memories of the stage original. Enjoy...

2 comments:

robertian said...

Oh, I love her. She radiates such class. Thanks for the youtube clip. It brightened my day.

Have you heard Buckley's version of "Be On Your Own"? It's great, too.

Kevin Daly said...

RivB, I love "Be On Your Own" and I'm still trying to grasp why they're replacing it for the film.

As for Akers, that warm mahogany contralto only improves as she gets older. Really, a class act performer.