BWW Interviews: Actress Neile Adams Talks THE LIVES OF ME to Perform at the El Portal, 5/24-25
Night club entertainer extraordinaire Neile Adams will appear May 24 and 25 for two performances only at the El Portal in her acclaimed night club show, fresh from Paris, France. In our chat she talks about her fascinating background, marriage to Steve McQueen and her passion for music.
Tell us briefly about how your background in the Philippines influenced your career as a dancer.
My mother was a huge star in the Far East. She danced and she sang---totally untrained---but they loved her. AS I was growing up she would bring me up on stage --- when I was around 7 - 8. and I would dance with my older cousin. It was "Dancing with the Stars" type dancing but sort of infantile of course. My mother was a beautiful woman and to me she would always say ' Darling you're so cute, Work on your personality , honey." And of course, I learned the Philippine dances. I went to Catholic Schools with the nuns and when the school entertained I was always one of the dancers.
My grandfather was in the Spanish-American War. When that was over he went back to Spain (he was a Spaniard and my grandmother was a German lady) and decided he wanted to go back to Manila. He loved the climate and the fact that he felt he could make a better living there as opposed to back in Spain. Unfortunately my grandfather died quite young and my grandmother died when my mother was only 13. But she and her brother somehow survived by banding together. He became the Ziegfeld of Manila and she his star.
How was Paris last fall? I understand you were a great success with your act there. How so?
Paris was sensational to me.They love Americans and I'm going back in November . They really do love our music. Jazz, standards and musical comedy music. They couldn't fit anymore people in the club if they wanted to and they are waiting for me according to all my emails.
Did you put back stories of your past into the act? If you remember I said in my review that you should not deprive your audiences of the richness of your background.
You'll like this show. It's the best one yet. I had a part of it in Paris and I have expanded it to include my entire life with visuals (minus lovers!!!!)
Your book on your life with Steve McQueen - My Husband, My Friend - has been a resounding success. You gave him so much. Talk a little bit about how your life might have been different without him in it.
I can't imagine life without Steve. He was my first love and we loved each other intensely. With him I had two children and now four grandchildren. One, Steven R. McQueen is doing very well. He's been guest starring in many shows and is a regular on "The Vampire Diaries". He plays the fourth lead as brother to Nina Dobrev. I have a grandson who is a soccer player in England. He's 19 and get this------he is 6 ft. 7 !!!!!!!!! I have two beautiful granddaughters.
Who was the biggest influence on your career?
MGM musicals!!!! Movie dancers like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Cyd Charisse. You'll see a dance number as my opening. Choreographers Jack Cole and Bob Fosse were my idols. If I could do it all over again I would without hesitating. No matter how many injuries come my way.
Tease our readers with what they can expect to see at the El Portal in a few weeks.
The story of my life in song which includes childhood, roommates, motherhood, husbands, children and dare I say lovers (smile!!!); it's me dancer, singer, actress ... with songs very rarely heard but nonetheless unforgettable.
Are Kander and Ebb your favorite composers? You sing their material a lot. What do you like best about them?
Their songs reach me in ways that are extraordinary. I tend to think some of them are written especially for me. It's a purely visceral thing.
What do you think you bring to your act that is different from all other performers? I see a little girl inside of you, full of fun, surprises and excitement. Expand on that, if you would.
I think that's up to the audience to decide. However I will say I am different in that I have a sense of humor, I'm not a pure signer but rather an actress who sings and I think the audience relates to what I say.
Don't miss this petite fireball with the precious childlike temperament at the El Portal for two performances only on May 24 and May 25! Call 818-508.4200 for tickets or order online at
(photo credit: Jean Mulatier)