BWW Interview: At Home With Avery Sommers
What a career Avery Sommers has had! Early on after arriving in New York City, she was cast as a replacement in the original company of Ain't Misbehavin' on Broadway and this lady has not stopped working since. She has worked on Broadway numerous times, played the road with Broadway National Tours, performed regional theater, and she's worked the nightclub circuit. Spoiler alert: Avery Sommers has no intention of retiring any time soon. She has recently begun traveling into New York from her home down south to do episodes of Richard Skipper Presents, to play The Cabaret Convention, and to debut her solo show For Sentimental Reasons - and New York has fallen in love with Avery all over again. With her growing gang of fans old and new, Avery Sommers is poised for a great New York Third Act.I was excited that my email to Avery asking her to be a part of my At Home With series got me an affirmative answer. The interview, conducted digitally, is copied below exactly as Avery wrote it back, except for the charming emojis she sent me, which did not copy to the Broadway World template. I wish they had.Name: Avery Sommers
First Cabaret Show (Title, Year, Club): My First Cabaret Show Was "YOU'RE GONNA HEAR FROM ME" In The Royal Room In The Colony Hotel. Palm Beach Florida. Summer 2008.
Most Recent Cabaret Show: My Most Recent Cabaret Show Was "WE LOVE BEING HERE WITH YOU" With Rob Russell. In The Beautiful New North Palm Beach Country Club. March 3, 2020.
Website or Social Media Handles: Avery Somers.com... Still Adding To It.
Avery, you are fortunate enough to be quarantined outside of New York City, right? What's it like down in Florida right now?Yes, I Feel Very Fortunate. I Am In West Palm Beach, Florida (My Hometown). So Happy To Be Home. It's Beautiful And Warm. I Love Warm Weather! I Have Noticed That People Are Taking The "Stay Home, Wear Masks, And Gloves Seriously" I Have Been To The Grocery Store Three Times In Three Weeks. (Only Time Out) And People Are Getting In And Out Very Quickly. Wearing Masks And Gloves...Observing The Social Distancing Signs Posted Everywhere. And There Are Very Few Cars On The Streets In My Area.
Just before the lockdown, you were due to perform at 54 Below in your show For Sentimental Reasons, which played The Laurie Beechman last year. This is a very personal show for you, how did you come to create this act?Yes, Stephen, I Was And Still Am Very Excited To Appear In Michael Feinstein's 54/Below.
I Decided On The Title "For Sentimental Reasons" Because That Was My Parents Favorite Song From Their College Days. And I Knew That I Wanted To Include Songs With Beautiful Lyrics. One Day When We Were Talking About The Show, Phil Hinton My Musical Director And Wonderful Pianist Said... Listen To This Song...He Played "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" I Instantly Fell In Love With It. Each Time We Got Together To Talk About The Show, We Made A List Of Terrific Songs. Finally, Phil Told Me About Some Great Songs In A Show That He Thought I Might Like. We Kept Some Songs From That Show And Changed Out Others And Added Stories To Fit Me Until We Created "FOR SENTIMENTAL REASONS" I Love My Show.
Phil And I Have Worked Together For 12 Years.
Without work to distract you right now, are you keeping yourself busy with new things at home?Yes, I Am Staying Busy. I Am Working On A "New Show" With My Fabulous Collaborator Dana P. Rowe Who Lives In New York City. He's Amazing! He Was Musical Director For My Show "FOR SENTIMENTAL REASONS" At The Laurie Beechman Last Year. We Go Back 25 Years To My Very First Show "BUT NOT FOR ME" He Was My Musical Director And Pianist. He Also Wrote A Great Song For Me. That Show Was Produced By Michael Hall And The Caldwell Theater Company In Boca Raton, Florida. Dana And I Talk Every Week. Sometimes Twice A Week And Lately I Discovered FaceTime! And Zoom! WhooHoo!
You travel quite a lot with your shows and you've done some touring in plays, is there a secret to not becoming disoriented when you are on the road a lot for work?That's A Great Question Stephen. Not Sure I Have That Secret. It Wasn't Easy To Not Become Disoriented. Especially When We Were On Tour ( On The Road) For 18 Months At A Time Traveling To A Different City Every Monday. First Doing "CHICAGO" Then Doing "THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS" When 911 Happened, We Were In Michigan It Was Very frightening And Everything Changed And It Became More Difficult To Not Become Disoriented. What Helps Is Talking With Family And Friends. Just Staying In Touch. And My Cat Angel.
You have your own production company, what kind of shows do you like to produce?I Love Working With Young Performers Or Performers Who Are New To Cabaret. I Enjoy Producing Cabaret Shows. I Have Encouraged Several People To Embrace This Genre. I Am A Writer, Director And Voice Coach Too And I Have Singers Who Want Me To Help Them To Create A Show. I Am Looking Forward To That.
Avery, you have been singing your entire life - do you sing around the house? Or have you reached a point where that feels like a busman's holiday?I Do Sing Every day. Especially When I Am Learning A New Show. I Also Love To Dance So I Search YouTube For Favorite Old School Songs And I Dance And Sing-Along.
I understand you started singing in church as a child - have you kept up the faith? Is it difficult, not being able to go to church during the voluntary quarantine?Yes, I Did Start Singing In Church At Five (5) Years Old. My Grandfather (My Mother's Father) Who I Never Knew And My Uncle (Her Brother) Were Both Ministers. We Are A Family Of Deep Faith. My Nephew Is A Fabulous Singer/Songwriter And Minister Of Music Who Plays Piano/Organ Every Sunday In Church. My Faith Is Deep And Strong And Comforting. I Am Glad That I Can Enjoy Church Online.
You are a very social person, are you planning on a big get together with your loved ones and friends when this is all over?Oh, I Love Getting Together With Friends. There Are Four (4) Of Us Who Have Birthdays In April. We Plan To Have A Combined Party. I Suspect It Will Be Big
Your parents were instrumental in your singing when you were growing up. Do you remember what their individual favorite songs were?My Dad Loved Count Basie's Orchestra. His Favorite Was "Jumping At The Woodside"
My Mother Loved "Blue Moon" By Billy Eckstine.
Avery, when you found out that a period of isolation was going to become necessary, what was the food item that you made sure to stock your kitchen with?
I Love Rice And Fruit And Most Veggies So I Stocked Up On Those Items. Especially Rice. I Didn't Know So Many People Love Rice! The Shelves Have Been Almost Completely Empty Since The First Week. Happy I Still Have Some
Stephen Thank You Again For Inviting Me To Be A Part Of Your Wonderful Series. I Enjoyed It Very Much.Continued Blessings To You And Everyone. Stay safe And Healthy. ♥️
Photos provided by Avery Sommers except top photo, by Stephen Mosher