Sally Mayes(Photo: Bill Westmoreland)
Sally Mayes
(Photo: Bill Westmoreland)
I get to interview so many insanely talented people (and some talented insane people) for this page. Some of them I know, some I don't. Nepotism is not dead, though--at least, not at my house. It's always fun to pry into the life of someone I have known for years, and this week's subject falls under that category. I recently had a chat and some nachos with my Texas pal Sally Mayes about her upcoming run at Arci's Place in a show titled Boys and Girls Like You and Me (Tuesdays through Saturdays, November 6-24). We talked about the show itself, the accompanying CD, and our mutual distaste for bagpipes.

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JIM CARUSO: Are you doing a brand new show at Arci's?

SALLY MAYES: Yes! The CD, Boys And Girls Like You And Me, started out as just songs that were cut from Broadway shows. Dick Gallagher and I worked and worked on it, and it evolved into a story--a journey through the many phases of a love affair. Then Carol Hall gave me a new song, and so did Amanda McBroom. For the evening at Arci's, we needed to expand the idea a bit, so we added some comedy. The show is basically a trip through all my past relationships, so get ready!

JC: Yikes! Is _____ mentioned? [I bring up the name of one of Sally's Texas exes.]

SM: Well, I am doing a song called, "Viagra," if that tells you anything! It's about a truck full of Viagra that hits an oil slick and pours the Viagra into the town's water supply...

JC: ...and the fun ensues! Let's talk about the cover of the CD for just a second. It's a total "Kitten With A Whip" thing. What gives?

SM: You just made my day! That's one of my favorite movies. Ann-Margret was my personal role model when I was a child. Actually, that photo was taken by the brilliant photographer Bill Westmoreland. I had my baby, got a trainer, and lost weight. I was so ready to feel good about myself and Bill caught onto exactly what I wanted.

JC: What's your favorite way to find material for your shows and recordings?

SM: A lot of times, I call the composers directly and ask if they have anything interesting. Sometimes, the producer of the album has ideas. I love obscure material--and, although songs are usually cut from shows for good reasons, I feel like we've found some really great ones.

JC: This is your first gig at Arci's Place.

SM: Yes, I'm so excited to sing there. It's also my first time without Patrick Brady as my musical director: He's off doing a little show called The Producers. Can you imagine? My husband, Bob Renino, always plays bass for me, but he's playing in the orchestra for The Producers.

JC: The nerve!

SM: [laughs] I'm thrilled to have Johnny Rodgers on piano and Peter Calo on guitar, though. Johnny is brilliant. And Peter is Linda Eder's guitarist, among other things, so he's obviously wonderful. They'll be doing double duty, singing back-up vocals as well. Lina Koutrakos has taken the helm as director, so I can have someone tell me what is fabulous and what sucks.

JC: You've always loved singing in clubs and doing concerts, haven't you?

SM: Yes, ever since my parents taped a bow to my head when I was three and made me sing, "Ma, He's Making Eyes At Me." I think cabaret is great for anyone who wants to perform in different styles. You can be eclectic. You can have control over what you say and how it's presented. It's hard to give that up.

JC: Many of our readers know you from your theater work here in New York. You've done some great musical roles.

SM: Yes, but I'm really getting itchy to do a straight play. I love singing, of course, but my training is as an actress. Each part of this business is so compartmentalized--so, as soon as you do a musical comedy, that's all you're seen for. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, but it's a constant push to be seen for different things.

JC: This business is all about type.

SM: I know! It drives me crazy. The whole reason I did my last CD and show, The Story Hour, was to show people that I could do a lot of different characters. I want to keep trying new things and new styles.

JC: Sally Mayes: The Polka Album?

SM: Yes! [laughing] It comes out soon and I'm so thrilled! Then, perhaps Sally And Her Bagpipe.

JC: Does anyone enjoy bagpipes?

SM: I'd like to think not.

JC: What's up next for you?

SM: Some television things have come through, which is exciting. I have an upcoming role on The Job with Denis Leary, and I'm doing an episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Plus, of course, putting my little boy on the bus every morning to go to kindergarten. I actually cried like a crazy woman on his first day of school. Don't print that.

JC: I won't. Do you have a dream show that you wish someone would write for you?

SM: I've been saying for years that someone should write a musical about Texas Guinan, who was a Broadway singer, movie actress, and speakeasy owner during Prohibition. She was from Waco, Texas. That would be so right for me! I was also hoping the Patsy Cline musical would come through--she was a fascinating character and I love singing that style of music. I'm writing a play, and there happens to be a role that I'd be just perfect for. Surprise! The trick is to just keep going, keep doing your job, and hope that luck comes your way.

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Click here to visit Jim Caruso's website.