KT Sullivan


San Francisco Examiner


Cabaret singer KT Sullivan: Legally blonde and loving it!


February 7, 2009

by Robert Sokol

KT Sullivan basks in Colored Lights at The Rrazz Room

A breezy, bubbly KT Sullivan – short for Kathleen, so no dots please! – can’t wait to see The Rrazz Room. “I’ve been to the Nikko which is a gorgeous hotel, but haven’t seen the club yet. I love San Francisco and really want to build an audience there. My brother-in-law promises to bring twenty of his friends…but the rest is up to me,” she laughs. “You have so many wonderful local gals – Paula West, Terese Genecco, Andrea Marcovicci was at A.C.T. for a few years, and I think Mary Cleere Haran is from there as well, and of course, Wesla Whitfield! I’m a big fan of Wesla!” says the native of Boggy Depot, OK.

In addition to regional theatre credits, Sullivan had a brief flirtation with television before staking claim in musical theatre and cabaret, where she has built a solid career. She regularly partners with singer Mark Nadler for songbook shows from the canons of the likes of Irving Berlin and Dorothy Fields, as well as flying solo as she’ll be doing here. “Colored Lights is one of my most recent shows and it’s my most autobiographical. I’m singing songs from shows I’ve been in and songs that have meant something to me throughout my life. It follows some of my ups and downs on Broadway and Off-Broadway. Hits and misses along the way, shows that never made it and shows that lasted only a minute, and how I’m still following my dreams.”

Sondheim and Herman and Kander & Ebb songs are just a few of Sullivan’s favorite musical things and she promises a taste of each in her show. “I did a musical called Heartbeats with Amanda McBroom in Los Angeles and there’s a wonderful song called ‘Dreamin’’ which is on my first album, so I’ll do that in the show as well.”

In addition to cast recording and compilation albums, Sullivan has recorded eight CDs – either solo works or in collaboration with Nadler. “Tell me about it!” is her response to the ongoing fragmentation of the music industry. “You need angels these days to make CDs. I sell mine at shows where I can sign them for folks – that personal touch, you know! - and they’re available online, but brick-and-mortar stores are carrying less and less of this kind of music.”

On her opening night at The Rrazz Room, she will make a mad dash across Union Square after her show to appear in All You Need Is Love. The benefit concert, produced by The Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation, will also feature Rita Moreno, Wilson Cruz, Jo Anne Worley, Loretta Devine as well as Bay Area treasures like Billy Philadelphia and Meg Mackay, Sony Holland, Shawn Ryan, Tim Hockenberry, Sharon McNight and more.

Sullivan’s theatrical resume invokes some major blonde icons such as Carol Channing, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Holliday in shows like Born Yesterday, Sugar – the musical version of Some Like It Hot, and, of course, Gentleman Prefer Blondes. “Barbara Cook was a blonde and she was the person who made me believe that I could do cabaret,” says the fair soprano working in a frequently alto genre. “I always thought of nightclub singers as having low voices. Then someone played one of Barbara’s CDs for me in the ‘80s and it opened up the whole concept for me. I’ve done a lot of her material since then. I fact,” she giggles “one of my early reviews, back when I was a baby, noted: ‘Sings too many Barbara Cook songs!’”

She let’s the blonde jokes roll off her. “I was on the road with Annie Get Your Gun with Cathy Rigby and I dyed my hair red so that I would look different from her, but it really didn’t work. I guess I just have sort of a blonde personality!” she says. “I do run deep, but there’s a lightness to being blonde. It’s refreshing. It cheers people up. I don’t play the ‘cabaret as therapy’ line. That’s not me. No wrist slashing, thank you! So I guess you could say I’m legally blonde!”

Among Sullivan’s extracurricular activities is being president of the Dutch Treat Club, an association of creative people in literature, art, media, music and drama. “We meet every Tuesday from October to May at the National Arts Club and I’m the first female president in its hundred year history. We just had a lecture by Amy Asch, author of a new book on the lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II, and Oscar was once a member of the club! It’s a great tradition of artists getting together for lunch.”

She is also a not-at-all-wicked stepmother to five children. “I married my husband ten  years ago in November. The youngest was nineteen, so I sort of figured they were all grown. Then I found out children never grow up. There was one three-year-old grandchild and he was ring bearer at the wedding. He’s thirteen now and I have four other step-grandchildren! So there’s a song in the show called ‘My Husband’s First Wife’ that I think people will enjoy! Life is rich. There are many levels!” she says, with a now slightly wicked chuckle.

WHO: KT Sullivan           WHAT: The Rrazz Room at Hotel Nikko
WHEN: Monday & Tuesday, February 9-10 @ 8:00 PM     WHERE: 222 Mason Street, San Francisco
: $40  |  Phone: 866.468.3399  |  Online:  Ticketweb