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Christine Pedi, KT Sullivan & More Set for A TRIBUTE TO JULIE WILSON at Iridium, 8/13

On Tuesday, August 13th at 8 & 10pm, ScoBar Entertainment will present A TRIBUTE TO Julie Wilson at Iridium NYC. Performers confirmed thus far are Eric Comstock, Baby Jane Dexter, Natalie Douglas, Antonio Edwards, Eric Engelhardt, Barbara Fasano, Terese Genecco, Jeff Harnar, Mark Hartman, Tanya Holt, Sue Matsuki , Marissa Mulder, Christine Pedi, Colm Reilly, Julie Reyburn, Ricky Ritzel, KT Sullivan, Stacy Sullivan, Grace Wall, Lennie Watts & Carol Woods.Accompanying the performers is The Barry Levitt Trio, Barry Levitt on piano, Dick Sarpola on bass & Ray Marchica on drums.

Julie Wilson! Just the mention of her name evokes the essence of cabaret. "I'm Still Here;" it could be her anthem. Long before Julie Wilson tackled that classic Sondheim survivor saga, she was described as "a pioneer who could have become a prima donna." Her own roots are deeply embedded in the soil of her Omaha, Nebraska home & its family values allowing sustaining strength through decades of winning & losing, dizzying heights & the deepest of depths.

A young tomboy with secret dreams of stardom & a fondness for the 1920s pop song "Mary Lou," Julie was barely enrolled at Omaha University when she grabbed at a chance to join the company of the Broadway revue Earl Carroll's Vanities. This led to early nightclub work, the chorus line of the Latin Quarter & finally, the Copacabana. It was wartime; she was making $75 a week & feeling pretty good. After a Copa/USO European tour, she was promoted to a singing spot in the legendary nightspot's lavish production numbers, introducing "They've Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil" ("The Coffee Song").

Club dates in Miami & Hollywood followed, including the famous Mocambo. But New York lured her back & there she fine-tuned her stagecraft in musical comedies like Kiss Me, Kate, replacing Lisa Kirk as Bianca. She repeated the role in the London production, remaining there for four years, appearing in shows such as South Pacific & Bells Are Ringing & enrolling in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. To study there, she had to give up the chance to open on Broadway in the lead role of what would become a long-running hit, The Pajama Game. Ironically, several years later, she replaced Janis Paige's replacement in the very role she had rejected.

Julie returned to Broadway in 1955, appearing in Kismet & touring in Show Boat, Panama Hattie, Silk Stockings & Hi Fidelity. During the 1950's, Julie made several recordings & also some of those wonderful black & white films, like The Strange One & This Could Be the Night, where she played Rosebud, a blonde nightclub chanteuse.

But her niche & her reputation was in the clubs; the glamorous, romantic rooms of the period. There she reigned in the finest rooms in the finest hotels. And there she sang the naughty, torchy, gutsy songs she loved.

Julie is aware that real life is not upon the stage. She married twice, first very briefly. Her second marriage produced her two sons, Holt & Michael, but the marriage ended and the boys went to live with Julie's parents in Omaha so she could work & support them.

Much like a marriage, the aura of a New York nightclub can burst like a bubble, as it did in the '60s, when rock stadiums replaced plush supper clubs & the active nightlife dissipated. In the years that followed, Julie's performances were in the small "unpretentious" clubs that opened around New York City, a world away from the Maisonette. In 1967, she appeared in a short lived Broadway musical, Jimmy. Despite the show's short run, Julie says, "I had great songs." She later had roles in Stephen Sondheim's musicals, Company, Follies & A Little Night Music, growing to love the composer-lyricist's work.

Family responsibilities beckoned & Julie heeded the call of home. By late 1983, her brother & both parents had died & her sons were grown & Julie was ready to once again begin carving out a career. She got a phone call asking if she could be ready to do a Cole Porter show at Michael's Pub in New York.

Julie Wilson's legendary shows of the 1950s were remembered. Cabarets were reviving. The Russian Tea Room, Rainbow & Stars, The Algonquin's Oak Room, venues in California & Chicago all opened up to her. Peter Allen wrote a part for her in his Broadway musical, Legs Diamond, for which she was nominated for a Tony. In 1992, a PBS TV special showcased her cabaret act.

On September 30, 1999, the Mabel Mercer Foundation spotlighted Julie's upcoming 75th birthday with a special evening in her name. She chose all the acts, so everyone was outstanding. Finally Julie herself came out, in glorious glamour & capped the whole show with selections from her then-new Cy Coleman show & added her favorite Sondheim songs, including practically the whole score of Follies!

Julie's understanding of life deeply influences her music. The vampy, flirtatious Porter classics are still a staple, but today there is a depth to everything she sings, so that her life, her views, her grasp of what the lyrics & music are about, are all conveyed to her audience. If the tone is not so clear and pure (she'll be the first to admit that), she can still sustain those notes & the voice is dramatically strong. But most of all, Julie Wilson's down-to-earth attitude toward life, her outspoken views of inequities, her high personal standards, have brought her universal love & respect throughout the industry.

Performing in the 8pm show will be Eric Comstock, Baby Jane Dexter, Natalie Douglas, Barbara Fasano, Terese Genecco, Jeff Harnar, Mark Hartman, Tanya Holt, Colm Reilly, Julie Reyburn, KT Sullivan & Carol Woods. The 10pm show will feature Antonio Edwards, Eric Engelhardt, Terese Genecco, Eric Michael Gillett, Nina Hennessey, Helen Klass, Sue Matsuki, Marissa Mulder, Christine Pedi, Ricky Ritzel, Stacy Sullivan, Grace Wall & Lennie Watts. Speakers will include Jamie deRoy, Sherry Eaker, Peter Leavy, Julie Miller, Arthur Pompesello Michael Estwanik, Adam Feldman, Rob Lester & Scott Siegel.

$25 cover/$10 food/beverage minimum; $5 off for MAC, Cabaret Hotline, Cabaret Scenes, NiteLife Exchange, 802, AEA, SAG, AFTRA, ASCAP, BMI.

For tickets, visit www.theiridium.com, www.ticketweb.com, or call 212-582-2121.


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