Unmistakable voice

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Wednesday October 18, 2017
Share this Post:

In "Finding My Voice," film and Broadway star Kathleen Turner will take to the stage of Feinstein's at the Hotel Nikko for an evening of music from the Great American Songbook. Turner will also share stories from her celebrated career, which includes starring in mega-hit movies like "Body Heat" (1982) and "Romancing the Stone" (1984), as well as her Oscar-nominated turn in "Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986). She is also a Tony-nominated stage actress, having starred in productions of "The Graduate" and gay playwright Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Turner's most notable small-screen role is that of Chandler's transgender father on the classic sitcom "Friends." She also became somewhat of a cult figure when she starred in John Waters' "Serial Mom" (1994).

Cabaret theatre is a new addition to Turner's impressive resume. She spoke to the B.A.R. about why she's calling her show "Finding My Voice."

"It's a new way of expressing myself," she said. "I'm not just a baritone! I love it, it's a chance to learn something and to test myself. There's very little work I've done that is repeated."

Turner recalls the unexpected origins of her singing career. "I was in Washington, DC, driving around in a VW with Molly Smith of Arena Exchange Theater," she said. "Molly asked if I could sing, and I did 'Since I Fell for You.'"

Work by the great composer Michel Legrand will be part of her show at Feinstein's. "I fell in love with his music," she said. "'You Must Believe in Spring' is a most beautiful song."

The star doesn't think that people are going to be surprised by this latest venture. "People don't comment on the body of my work because my roles aren't the same," she said, noting the sharp contrasts between her various film roles. She expressed a great deal of fondness for John Waters. In Waters' "Serial Mom," Turner plays a gleefully psychotic serial killer who becomes a cult celebrity.

"Sam Waterston, who played my husband, was afraid we were glorifying serial killers," she said with a laugh. "But John Waters and I are great friends - we had fun! I had a great time on the film. It was a delight to play a character who, when you see her eyes change, you say, 'Oh, shit!'"

She accepted her three-episode guest stint on "Friends" because it was in keeping with her history of not repeating herself onscreen. "A woman playing a man playing a woman!" she said. "I couldn't stand the hairspray!"

Turner recalled that her dresser on "Friends" was a gay man who took her to drag clubs. ""It just seemed to me that the humor was hard-edged," she recalls. "The first time we rehearsed I was biting off those lines!"

And now, as Turner prepares for her new role as a cabaret singer, she's faced with the dilemma of what to wear onstage. "I'm not a diva," she said. "I don't like sparkly things. It's got to be comfortable. I'm not out there to advertise a designer. I told my designers that I want designer PJs!"

Kathleen Turner plays Feinstein's on Fri. & Sat., Oct. 20 & 21, at 8 p.m. The Friday show is sold out, but tickets remain available for Saturday ($42-$80). Info: feinsteinsatthenikko.ticketfly.com

Star Kathleen Turner: "I'm not a diva." Photo: Courtesy Feinstein's