We spoke to Carole Demas, the original Sandy on Grease, about The Broadhurst at 100! an epic celebration of a century of shows taking place August 16th at Feinstein’s/54 Below.
What are the challenges of putting together a cabaret song when you’ve done so many throughout the years?
I think you know some of the things you want to do, I find the process to be especially fun for me because along with all the other great things I did, I also did a show called The Magic Garden which was a very successful children’s program. People associate me with that, so when I do a cabaret show, the Garden shows show up and they don’t know I can sing other kinds of material, so it’s a lot of fun to do a show and choose things from all eras. I love the 20s, the 60s, but the 70s was my era, I was in my 30s when I did Grease on Broadway, and that’s a juicy time musically for me. Sometimes I’m in the mood for new things, I like exploring new composers.
So getting to do a show is your way to interact with the songs?
Right, sometimes I talk a little bit about what my association with the song is, other than the fact I just like it. I think sometimes a song is about a certain time in your life, and now it’s always there. I just need to be careful about the intimacy cabaret demands, when you’ve done a lot of stage work you don’t always have the liberty to choose your own keys or songs, you don’t have that freedom. I like to talk about why a certain song means something to me, but I don’t want it to be the “me” show. I don’t want to pour my angst all over the place, I want to be present and make sounds that people want to take home and enjoy. I’m doing the 100th celebration of the Broadhurst Theatre which is where Grease played, so I’ll be doing a song from the show.
Is there a song from Grease you love more than the others?
I even liked the other characters’ songs (laughs) the movie is so different, it has additional songs, I’m fond of “Raining on Prom Night” and the “Sandra Dee” reprise which is where Sandy decides she’s gonna get the guy. I was a late bloomer so it took me all that time to finally get the guy, so it was so much to do Grease.
You did a show called Summer Nights, what do you associate the most with that?
I did the show in a different venue, it was when I sang “Summer Nights” again for the first time since Grease. This year is the 45th anniversary of the show, so singing that a few years ago was such fun, I sang it with Josh Franklin who was the last Danny in the last revival, so it was the first Sandy and the last Danny. We’re going to sing that in the show at 54 Below on August 16, my friend Ilene Kristen who’s very well known, and played the original Patty, will be a part of that too.
Is there a song that you’ve always wanted to include in one of your shows but haven’t been able to yet?
I always wanted to sing Billy Joel’s “I Love These Days” and I did, and I kept it as a very important song to me, that to me is the 70s. I was in California doing a lot of TV, I had a lot of friends who died of AIDS, lots of friends who were into drugs, and yet there was a joie de vivre at the time, so the song reminds me of the joy and passion of that time, and the understanding that you can’t do this forever or you may not live long enough to remember it. Also “Meadowlark” because I was the original Genevieve in The Baker’s Wife, when the show was done for the first time. I’ve been singing that song since 1976 and everytime I do I find something new about it.
For tickets and more information on The Broadhurst at 100! Click here.