KAREN AKERS Bio
Cabaret singer and actress Karen Akers was born Karen Orth-Pallavicini in
Akers initially aspired to be a folksinger in the 1960s, but she also began auditioning for Broadway shows, and by the 1970s was leaving her acoustic guitar behind as she appeared in nightclubs. By the start of the 1980s, she had achieved sufficient prominence on the nightclub circuit that PBS gave her her own special, Presenting Karen Akers, which in turn was released in audio form by
Akers made her Broadway debut in Nine, a musical directed by Tommy Tune and based on the autobiographical Federico Fellini film 8 1/2, playing the part of Luisa Contini, the wife of promiscuous film director Guido Contini, a role that allowed her to sing the Maury Yeston-penned songs "My Husband Makes Movies" and "Be On Your Own." The show opened May 9, 1982, and had a successful run of 732 performances, closing February 4, 1984. Akers won a Theatre World Award for her performance and was one of three actresses in the show nominated for the Tony Award for Featured Actress in a Musical, losing to her fellow cast member Liliane Montevecchi. Nine was recorded for an original Broadway cast album released by
In 1983, Akers gave her first concert at Carnegie Hall. She made her film debut in Woody Allen's comic fantasy The Purple Rose of
Akers starred in another PBS special, Karen Akers: On Stage at Wolf Trap, which was released as a home video by View Video in 1989. She then returned to Broadway in Grand Hotel, a musical adaptation of the novel and film, again directed by Tommy Tune with a score by Robert Wright, George Forrest, and Maury Yeston; Akers played Raffaela, the confidante to the Countess, singing the songs "Twenty-Two Years," "Villa on a Hill," "What She Needs (What You Need)," and "How Can I Tell Her?" The show opened November 12, 1989, for a successful run of 1,018 performances through April 19, 1992, and was belatedly recorded for an original Broadway cast album released by RCA Victor Records in 1992.
Meanwhile, she had recorded her third album, Unchained Melodies, for DRG Records. Meanwhile, Akers ascended to the highest ranks of cabaret performers, appearing regularly in such prestigious venues as the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel in
In 2002, she was given the Board of Directors Award from the