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BWW Interview: Pamela Bob Discusses HAT, HAT CHAPEAU at 54 Below

Pamela Bob, from the cast of the Tony Award-winning "Best Musical" A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, will perform a solo show at 54 Below on Monday, October 6 featuring the songs of Ellen Mandel and Michael Lydon. Directed by DJ Salisbury, the theatrical evening, entitled Hat, Hat Chapeau will tell the story of three women through jazzy ballads, lyrical settings of modern poetry, and bluesy funk. Pamela will also go on in the role of Sibela in A Gentleman's Guide for the full week leading up to her performance at 54 Below.

Pamela took the time to share her some of thoughts about creating her solo show, taking on the role of Sibela, and more with BroadwayWorld. Read below for the full interview!

How did this show come to be? What was the process of creating it like?

Ellen, Michael and I met over 10 years ago during a summer at Peterborough Players in New Hampshire. We were not involved in the same productions that season, but every weekend there was a cabaret, and it was there that I would hear their incredible songs. We immediately had a mutual admiration club going between us, and I wanted to sing their music any way I could. Getting to know them, I learned about their incredible backgrounds--Ellen has composed music for over sixty plays for the Mint, Jean Cocteau Rep, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, and Riverside Shakespeare in New York, many regionals and even film scores. Michael was a pioneering rock writer and founding editor of Rolling Stone Magazine, interviewed Janis Joplin, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, B.B. King, and wrote Ray Charles: Man and Music, the definitive biography of the Genius. From there, we eventually produced a concert version of their songs in downtown NYC, and at the New Gallery Concert Series in Boston, MA. Although it was a fantastic program, I always knew it had the potential to be much more than just a concert. My goal was to develop it into a theatrical piece sung through, because the music takes you through such journeys as an actor and as an audience member. It was a no brainer to ask my dear friend DJ Salisbury to help me with this vision. He is a genius at understanding the greater overall picture of creating a complete piece, and he is just so damn smart! Once he came aboard, the ideas just started flowing.

Your upcoming solo show will feature 'jazzy ballads, lyrical settings of modern poetry, and bluesy funk.' What do you like most about the music in this show?

Ha! I actually really love that description, because it is so accurate! I love love love this music for a few reasons. Michael Lydon's songs are these precious gems--they are comparable to the Great American Songbook songs from the bluesy, jazzy 20s-40s eras, but of course, they were written today. So it feels like I have discovered these old wonderful, timeless classics that have never been heard before--but I'm the lucky gal who gets to sing them, and hang out with the composer! Ellen Mandel's music comprises of many art songs, and more contemporary jazz tunes, as well as some quirky and hilarious off beat songs! Many of her songs are musical adaptations of great poets, like E.E. Cummings. They are so beautiful and haunting, and not at all what you expect--and yet, completely accessible to an audience.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?

I really want the audience to leave thinking, "Who is this girl?! Who are these people and how have I never known them before!?! I want more!" Ellen and Michael's music deserves to be heard by a greater audience--they are such hidden treasures! And I believe that through them, I am able to artistically fulfill what I do best. I want to expose and exploit us all in the best way possible! Maybe you could call me a musical Pimp? Ha! I hope the audience is as moved, and as deeply affected by their music as I am, and experience something completely different than they would normally experience, especially at a venue like 54 Below.

You've been with the cast of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder since it opened on Broadway last fall. What has been the best part of your experience with this Tony-Award winning production?

Yes! I am such a lucky girl! How I love this show! I would say the best part of this journey is being a part of a show that was the "dark horse" of the season. We were really an anomaly for Broadway--no Hollywood star, no pop culture reference, no recognizable title or story, and no contemporary pop musical theatre music. People had NO idea what we were, and it took until the Tony Nominations for the general public to really give us a shot--we were running for about 7 months just by word of mouth up until then. And then, of course, winning the Best Musical Tony, among the other awards we received was such a validation that great, original theatre still is what people want to see, and should be produced and developed!

Next week you'll be going on as Sibella! What is your favorite part about playing the character?

She's amazing! It's like living out your inner little girl fantasy! Besides wearing the incredible costumes and the beautiful blonde wigs that transform me into Sibella, what I love about playing her is her real intricacies as a woman. She is a complete narcissist, yes, and vein, and self absorbed. But she truly is also a victim of her time--in order for women to advance in Society during that era (and even today?), one had to marry above their status. She thinks money and wealth will complete her. But when she realizes that perhaps there is "something in marrying for love", it is a fine balancing act between her complete self-absorption, and her real human weaknesses. Of course, she's feisty, and funny and sexy as that ain't too bad, either.

Off-Broadway, Pamela played the lead in Silence the Musical (P.S.122, Elektra Theatre) and was also seen in How to Save the World... (New World Stages), The Extraordinary Ordinary (Clurman Theatre), People Like Us (NYMF--Talkin' Broadway Best Actress). Regional: Cincinnati Playhouse, Asolo Theatre, Peterborough Players, Barrington Stage Co. Education: M.F.A. from University of Cincinnati CCM.

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From This Author Anna Bencivengo