Kathy Najimy chats about her new DVD, Leslie Kritzer prepares to be Patti, and Donny Osmond hits the wall.
For many fans of funny ladies Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney, the main attraction of their just released two-DVD set The Complete Kathy & Mo Show will be the chance to re-view the duo's two beloved HBO specials, Parallel Lives and The Dark Side. But it's the bonus material that should truly delight the pair's admirers, says Najimy. "There is 25 years of special material that has never been seen before," she says. So much of it was on Beta or reel-to-reel tape, and a lot of it was filmed by amateurs, so sometimes the biggest issue was whether something looked or sounded clear enough to include."
Two decades ago, Najimy -- who now spends a great deal of time on the lecture circuit -- would have laughed if you told her this set would be a reality one day. "When we first started out, I don't think Mo or I had any idea that anyone other than our friends would see us. We basically did our Off-Broadway shows because no one else would cast us," she says. "I was this young feminist with passionate ideas I wanted to share without getting up on a podium. Now, I practically make a living up on a podium."
As for the process of choosing what would go into the bonus DVD, it was a fascinating - and exhausting - one for Najimy. "Looking at all those different outfits and hairstyles through the years was a bit grueling. I think all I really did was stare at my hair," she says with a laugh. "But in the end, Mo and I decided that we couldn't have any pride. If we thought something was important when we did it -- if a song moved one person at Don't Tell Mama -- then we put it in. I'm really glad we were able to include the two new sketches we wrote for our Off-Broadway reunion show at Second Stage (in 2004). They're a little more dramatic than some of our other pieces."
When she's not acting, on the lecture circuit, or recording the voice of Peggy Hill for the animated TV series King of the Hill, Najimy spends most of her time in Los Angeles hanging out with her husband, musician Dan Finnerty, and their 9-year-old daughter, Samia. But Najimy isn't ruling out a return to Broadway, where she was last seen as Mae West in Dirty Blonde. "We're thinking of moving back to New York in a few years; but until then, I like staying in town and being able to pick Samia up from school," says Najimy. "However, if Susan Sarandon or Vanessa Redgrave called me up to be in a show with them, I would do it in a second."
Leslie Kritzer vividly remembers her first reaction to her friend Ben Rimalower's suggestion that she recreate Patti LuPone's famed 1980 cabaret show at the now-defunct New York City club Les Mouches. "I told him he was crazy," says Kritzer. So how come she will now be doing just that in Leslie Kritzer is Patti LuPone at Les Mouches at Joe's Pub on October 4 and December 8-9, under Rimalower's direction? "As I kept watching a video of that show, which Patti gave him, I thought, 'This is really incredible.' It's like a time capsule of the period -- the arrangements, the patter, the famous people in the audience. I finally told Ben I'd do it if we got Patti's permission. So he called her and she left him a voice mail, which I heard. She said, 'Have a blast, it's a fabulous idea.' "
Once she committed to the project, Kritzer decided to go the whole nine yards. "We convinced David Lewis, who was Patti's musical director, to do it with us. He was reluctant at first, but he was so inspired by our positivity that he finally said yes," she says. "I love his arrangements, especially on 'Love for Sale,' although my favorite song is 'Heaven Is a Disco.'" However, Kritzer stresses that she's not planning to impersonate the Tony Award-winning star. "It's more interpretative than an impression," she says. "There is a lot of similarities to our voices, but putting the act together has been a lot about learning where I can put Patti in and where I can put Leslie in."
Kritzer has a lot on her plate these days. On October 8-9, she's appearing in presentations of two shows, Jerry Christmas and Vanities, at the National Alliance of Musical Theatres (NAMT) annual festival. Then, on October 20, she will appear as part of the 2nd Annual Broadway/Cabaret Festival at Town Hall; and she will return to Joe's Pub on November 20 for Places You've Never Been Before, a concert of Vanities' composer David Kirshenbaum's music, alongside such stars as Kerry Butler, Barrett Foa, Hunter Foster, Kaitlin Hopkins, and Terrence Mann. "I love being busy," she says. "I used to think the world would end if I didn't get a lead in a Broadway show, but I've learned to accept that life doesn't always take you where you want to go; it takes you where you need to go."
Donny Osmond's official opening as Gaston in the long-running Beauty and the Beast on Sunday, September 24 brought out quite the crowd to the Lunt-FontanneTheatre and the after-party at Tony's DiNapoli where Osmond's portrait was added to the restaurant's Wall of Fame. On hand to celebrate were Jersey Boys stars Christian Hoff and Daniel Reichard, soon-to-be Grinch Patrick Page and his lovely wife Paige Davis, Tarzan stars Josh Stickland and Jenn Gambatese, Disney Channel star John Tartaglia, The Wedding Singer's Constantine Maroulis, Beauty director Robert Jess Roth (along with his parents), Osmond's wife Debby and son Donny Osmond Jr, and radio host Valerie Smaldone who helped Osmond unveil the painting. Also garnering plenty of attention on and off stage was Osmond's co-star, the extraordinary Sarah Uriarte Berry, a true "Belle" of the ball if there ever was one.