BWW Interviews: Billy Stritch Gives Us the SCOOP on the 9/23 Reunion of Montgomery, Mayes and Stritch at Birdland!
On Monday night, September 23rd at 7pm, Broadway at Birdland will present a very unique event (just look at the picture to the left!), the return of MONTGOMERY, MAYES & STRITCH. The vocal trio starring Sharon Montgomery, Sally Mayes and Billy Stritch will reunite for one night only in a special celebration and concert, produced by Matt Berman.
Thirty-two years ago, three crazy kids from the University of Houston (Sharon Montgomery, Sally Mayes and Billy Stritch) formed a unique and hilarious jazz vocal trio. Unable to mutually agree on a name for their new venture, they dubbed themselves "Montgomery, Mayes & Stritch," and soon took Texas nightclubs and theaters by storm. Their success led to smash engagements in Newport, RI and on the New York cabaret scene. Since that charmed time, they've each gone on to have very successful solo careers, but for one night only, they'll recreate their special brand of harmony and humor!
We checked in with Billy Stritch to get the scoop on what audiences can expect!
Wow, 32 years! Tell us how you all first met?
We first met way back when we were all studying drama at the University of Houston. We hadn't really planned on forming a vocal group, but one night at a party we got up to sing "Lullaby Of Broadway" and the three of us sort of effortlessly fell into three-part harmony. Everyone at the party suggested that we form a group and about two weeks later we were working our first nightclub gig! I remember we had two weeks to learn three completely different sets of material but somehow we did it!
Why is this the perfect moment for a reunion? Why has it taken so long?
A reunion wasn't really something we were planning, but last year we were asked to sing at a fundraiser back at our old drama school. The night was a big success and I had posted some pictures from it on my Facebook page. Our dear friend Matt Berman had the idea to produce an evening in New York and we agreed that it would be fun, not only for the folks who remembered us from the first time around but also for people who never got to see us then.
Will you be reprising material from your original act or new material?
Yes, it's really a trip down memory lane - mostly material we did originally but with a few new things thrown in. It's amazing to me that even after 30+ years, all the harmonies and lyrics came flying back. Well. MOST of them, anyway!
What was it like making music together again after all this time?
It's a real trip - the three of us have always stayed more or less in touch and these two girls have known me longer than almost anyone! We still laugh a lot and share the same history and I think we all are thankful to have that connection with each other after all these years.
What are some of the songs that we can expect?
I don't want to give too much away, but we will be doing one of our signature arrangements of "I Get A Kick Out Of You", the Andrews Sisters' "Hold Tight", a very fast and wacky version of "Holiday For Strings" and a song I co-wrote for the trio called "Does he Love You", which went on to become a hit single for Reba McEntire and Linda Davis - but these girls did it first!
How would you each say that your approach has changed (or not) given your life experience since then?
I have to say that even though it's been many years and we've all gone through many life experiences, we are still the same three silly kids we were all those years ago! I'm not sure if that's such a good thing, but we really bring out that silliness and joy in each other and it's a great feeling. Like I said before, there's something so special about working with people who have known you for such a long time.
What were some of your abandoned names that led to "Montgomery, Mayes & Stritch" - and how'd you decide on the order.
I can't really recall other names that we were thinking of - except maybe Billy Stritch and the Stritch Marks. Actually, that's a joke - I think we always wanted to use our names and as far as the order goes, I think we just went with what we thought sounded the best. I always thought we could be a law firm.
What would each of you say has changed most about the others over the last 32 years?
It's funny, but when you've known people as long as I've known Sharon and Sally, you don't really see the changes. To me, they are still those crazy, funny gals that I've loved for so long. I mean, we've all gone on to individual successes and through life changes, but when we get together , we're just those three idealistic young kids from Texas!
Is there anything else you'd like to share with the BroadwayWorld readers?
I just want to say how lucky I feel that the group was part of the New York and national cabaret scene back in the heyday of the 1980's and how cool it is that we're all able to be together again, if even for one night! We;re all looking forward to recreating some of the zaniness and fun and I know we're all looking forward to seeing old and new friends!
TICKET INFORMATION: Purchase tickets at: www.BirdlandJazz.com. $30 Side Seating, $40 Center Seating, $10 minimum, September 23 (Monday) at 9:30PM. For more information and reservations call 212-581-3080. Ticket prices will vary by performer. At the tables, there is a $10 food/drink minimum per person in addition to the music charge.