By Paul Hyde
Kathleen Turner’s cabaret show “Finding My Voice” earned rave reviews in London and New York.
Now the legendary actress with the famously smoky voice is bringing a revised version of the show to Greenville’s Peace Center on Nov. 5 before taking it to Chicago and back to New York.
“I think of Greenville as my out-of-town tryouts,” she quipped, speaking on the phone from her home in New York.
The show is an onstage memoir, with Turner offering anecdotes from her stage and screen career, and crooning standards from the Great American Songbook.
Accompanied by a trio, Turner sings such songs as “Let’s Fall in Love,” “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” and “On the Street Where You Live.”
“The songs highlight what I’m trying to say with the story,” Turner said. “It’s probably two-thirds talking and one-third singing. It’s a full theatrical evening. I love to tell stories and talk about some of the work I’ve done and about some of the commitments and passions in my life.”
Reviewing Turner’s show in London, Claire Armitstead of the Guardian said, “She owns the music. She is magnificent, this battered star with her leonine voice, which unites the personal and the political, taking possession of standards that may have been sung better but never more meaningfully.”
Turner got her start in such films as “Romancing the Stone” and “Prizzi’s Honor,” each of which earned her a Golden Globe Award. Her other movies include “Body Heat,” “Peggy Sue Got Married” and “War of the Roses.” She also supplied the distinctive sultry voice for Jessica Rabbit in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
Turner has a long list of Broadway plays to her credit as well but never sang in a show until relatively recently.
“When I first came to New York, all the leads were sopranos, and I was never going to be able to do that,” Turner said.
But six years ago, Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. asked her to star in “Mother Courage and Her Children.”
“’Mother Courage’ has five songs,” Turner said. “I discovered through ‘Mother Courage’ that I enjoyed the singing. And that evolved into this show.”
Turner put “Finding My Voice” together with director Andy Gale and music director Mark Janas.
The show touches on the good and the bad, including some challenges in Turner’s life, such as her struggles with rheumatoid arthritis.
“It’s a constant factor, but I’m walkin’ and movin’, buddy,” she said.
Her show gets a little political, too. An outspoken activist and longtime board member of People for the American Way, Turner has relished performing another one-woman show, “Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins,” based on the life of Ivins, the liberal Texas firebrand.
Turner will return to that play at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis right before the presidential election next year. The timing is not by accident.
“I’m going to play her (Ivins) right up until the Election Day, babe,” she said.
Paul Hyde, a longtime Upstate journalist, writes about the arts for the Greenville Journal. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.
If you go
- What: Kathleen Turner: “Finding My Voice”
- When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5
- Where: Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre
- Tickets: $65
- Info: 864-467-3000 or www.peacecenter.org