Judy Kaye

Who says Phoenix doesn't turn out winners? Not former Phoenician Judy Kaye, on whose mantel rests a Tony Award for her portrayal of Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera. Along the way, she's appeared in the original Broadway Grease (as a replacement Rizzo) and in numerous film and stage roles. This week, she brings us her portrayal — straight from the Great White Way — of dismal songstress Florence Foster Jenkins in Arizona Theatre Company's Souvenir. But not before ruminating on nudity and bad auditions.

I knew I wanted to be in show business when I saw my first musical, a road show of My Fair Lady that played Phoenix. I then went to New York and saw my first Broadway show — the original production of Damn Yankees with Gwen Verdon!

The worst thing about being an actor is not being in control of your life — something all actors strive for.

The happiest day in my life was the night I won the Tony Award. Let's just say it was amazing!

My worst audition ever was for the road company of Company. I thought I really stunk it up. Years later, Hal Prince asked me if I remembered my first audition for him. I said, "Yes, it was awful!" He replied, "I didn't think so."

The fictional character I am most like is Kinsey Millhone, the character I read for the Sue Grafton "Alphabet" series. I feel like I understand her pretty well.

I am utterly terrified of tornadoes.

I laugh uncontrollably at Woody Allen's Sleeper.

The one thing I absolutely refuse to do on stage is take my clothes off. Nobody wants to see that.

Something I have never admitted to anyone before is something I'm certainly not going to tell you.

Currently I am reading a wonderful memoir written by a dear friend: Sixtyfive Roses: A Sister's Memoir by Heather Summerhayes Cariou.

The first time I got drunk I got really sick!

Like my mother used to say, "Eat your vegetables!"

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela