Could it be more than three years since I, as Herr Schultz, last shared a stage (if nary a scene) with Robbie Turner (as the Emcee) in a production of Cabaret at Second Story Rep? It must be.
Ms. Turner has, in the meantime, launched The Robbie Turner Review at Hard Rock Café, and is just about to unwrap a new 2015 holiday edition for two nights only: December 18 and 20 at 8 pm.
I caught up with Robbie, one of the most hilarious and warm-hearted show-folk I know, this past Friday. Herewith, I give you the fruits of that conversation.
In the stratosphere of Seattle show-biz, how do you like to refer yourself?
Why, as Seattle’s dazzling darling! Now I am sure you wanted something more Beaches, like: “Cee-Cee Bloom feels things DEEPLY….”
Nope I like Dazzling Darling just fine.
It has a kind of vintage flair, and a nice alliteration. It’s cute!
The Robbie Turner Review has become an ongoing series. No two are ever the same, unlike so many artists, whom we won’t name, who keep rehashing the same old thing to the point you want to say: There are other people to imitate besides Eartha Kitt! Will someone tell her?
Is that part of why you keep refreshing your format?
Yes, I felt exactly the same way. I didn’t want the show, for either myself or the audience, to get stagnant. I felt like I owe that to the people who want to see me do different material.
The shows are every 6 to 8 weeks apart generally, so I have time to throw in new material. The shows are roughly 50-75% different, and now that we have been doing it over a year we have so much previous material that was only in like 1 show, that we can bring back numbers that were popular.
I’ve been in many, many shows where it was the same, over and over again. I’m a theatre baby, and even though those shows are scripted to be the same, something always happens to shake things up. I want this to have that same kind of theatrical quality, where you show up, it’s the same opening number like on an old TV variety show, you think you know what you’re gonna get, and then you don’t. It’s like how the old Carol Burnett Show was. She was always a little different at the ending, but she always sang her theme song.
My goal is to revive the variety show in the old style. It’s not base at all, and it’s totally timeless comedy. People crave that stuff and it doesn’t have to be so dirty all the time. Something for the entire family whether you’re 4 years old or 94 years old. I’m hoping that someday or shows can be on television.
What about your theatre side? Anything in the offing or in discussion?
There’s talks about doing Die, Mommie, Die!, but not anywhere in the near future. I know it would be fun, and there are plenty of actors I would love to work with to fill out the cast.
How tantalizing! Clearly you are always working, but not everyone knows where to see you between runs of The Robbie Turner Review.
I work at the bar R Place, at 619 E Pine on Capitol Hill, and I am there every Wednesday with the Playground show, and Fridays and Saturdays with the Lashes Cabaret, besides the Hard Rock Café stints. We have the potential of adding a 3rd December show as we are nearly sold out, and we just started announcing it yesterday!
Is Hard Rock a happy home for you?
I’ve had nothing but good experiences with everyone at Hard Rock. They are really pleasant, and open to my ideas. They are all “Yes. Of Course! How can we help you?” which is not common.
And I know you write all your own material, but working with others on your team like director/choreographer Troy Wageman and your company of actors/dancers is a very collaborative process, I assume.
I usually come to my creative team with 90-95% of the show written down, and say “This is what we’re doing”, and then we adjust from there in terms of placement and so forth. But I am happy to pull in ideas from others. Some of the songs I have included are great numbers I can’t believe I didn’t think of, and we work them in.
Who is in the cast now? Your TV family as it were…
RT: The vets are Tori Spero and Bo Mellinger. Emily Huston has been in the last few, and our newbies on this show are Laura Shelly and Ryan Bohannon.
Looking forward to seeing it! And now my Inside the Actors Studio segment. Feel free to plead the 5th.
Least Favorite Word: Failure
Favorite Musical: The Sound of Music (the film).
Least Favorite Musical: Brigadoon. I just can’t get into it!
Favorite Cuse Word: Fuck. Just a good old standard!
Favorite Old School Drag Queen: Charles Busch.
Favorite Contemporary Drag Queen: Latrice Royale. I have worked with her a handful of times and she is an absolute doll. She is kind to everyone, and has time for everyone.
What do you want God to say to you when you enter the pearly gates: Grab your tap shoes, put ‘em on, show starts in 5 minutes.
The Robbie Turner Review returns to The Hard Rock Café, 116 Pike St in Downtown Seattle, on Friday December 18 and Sunday December 20, 2015. Doors are at 7 pm, and the shows start at 8 pm. Check out brownpapertickets.com for tickets.