Interview: Cortés Alexander Celebrates his 60th with SONGS FROM THE 60'S & OTHER SWELL IDEAS at the Write-Off Room

NY Cabaret staple Cortés Alexander brings his show Cortés Alexander – Songs from the 60s & Other Swell Ideas back to the Write-Off Room September 30th

By: Sep. 15, 2023
Interview: Cortés Alexander Celebrates his 60th with SONGS FROM THE 60'S & OTHER SWELL IDEAS at the Write-Off Room
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Interview: Cortés Alexander Celebrates his 60th with SONGS FROM THE 60'S & OTHER SWELL IDEAS at the Write-Off Room

New York Cabaret staple Cortés Alexander brings his show Cortés Alexander – Songs from the 60s and Other Swell Ideas back to the Write-Off Room September 30, 2023.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Cortés!

Hi Gil! Thanks for taking the time:)

Is this show something you’ve put together before for another venue? Or is completely brand new?

This is the show I wanted to do in lieu of my 60th birthday party. COVID came and dashed those plans, so here we are three years later, older, bigger and did I say older?

What criteria did you use to compile the songs for this show?

Seeing as it was originally intended as a 60th birthday celebration, I thought curating favorites from my childhood might be fun.

With the title of your show Cortés Alexander – Songs from the 60s and Other Swell Ideas, will you be including any songs from your 2008 album Swell?

I know I'll be doing Pilot Bird from my CD. That one has become a staple. Alzheimer's is something that has touched all of us and while not the cheeriest of topics, people always request it which is so lovely.

Who will be backing you for this engagement?

I'm lucky enough to again have David Arana who is Engelbert Humperdinck's music director. I cannot overstate how much I love this guy. It's a special talent to be able to really understand what's going on in my jumbly mind. The only other one who came close was Jason Robert Brown when I had The Tonics. I'm also backed once again by my Swell Girls, Lisa Donahey, Marissa Roberts, and Billye Johnstone who each take amazing solos.

You’re a New York cabaret staple and you’ve been part of many a venue in Los Angeles. Will this be your solo debut in Los Angeles, or have you ever performed solo in Los Angeles?

I've been lucky enough to have been doing solo shows consistently for about 10 years now, but this is my debut in the Write-Off room.

What is your go-to song/s to perform at cocktail parties?

My go-to cocktail party offerings are pretty much any standard you can think of.

Interview: Cortés Alexander Celebrates his 60th with SONGS FROM THE 60'S & OTHER SWELL IDEAS at the Write-Off Room Is there a favorite composer you love to sing?

I love Harold Arlen.

You toured with Liza Minelli as the Cortés Alexander Trio in 1996 through 1999 as part of her worldwide Gently tour. What cosmic forces first brought you and Liza together?

I was singing in New York with my group The Tonics and we made a big splash in the small world of New York City Cabaret. She came down to see what the fuss was, and we just hit it off so fast and easy. You mentioned The Cortés Alexander Trio. That came about in a very Liza way. She invited me to see her show in Atlantic City. We took a helicopter at night and sang Kay Thompson songs on the way. When the show was over, I went backstage, and she told me to write down on a yellow legal pad, my top 10 favorite cities. I asked her if she meant U.S. only, and she said, "No! worldwide, baby!"

So. I wrote down London, Paris, Rome, etc. She told me to give the list to her tour manager, which I did. I was totally confused and had no idea what was going on. She then told me she wanted to do a new show with me and a new group, and call it The Cortés Alexander Trio, and that list was going to be the first round of cities for the tour. And that's how it happened.

How old were you when you first dreamed to be a performer?

Honestly, I can't remember ever not wanting to perform. My entire elementary school career was basically rehearsal for something.

Bring us back to the very first time you took the stage?

I remember in junior high, I played Arvide in Guys and Dolls. I sang "Velvet I Can Wish You", and when it was over, there was what felt like a year of silence and I thought, "Uh-oh..." But then the applause started, and I looked into the wings at my music teacher who had tears running down her face. That felt great.

What were your parents’ reactions when you told them your career choice?

My parents were big on the "fallback plan." After high school, I went to Cal-Arts as an actor, but was already starting to work, so I left and moved home to New York. I went to haircutting school and went to auditions at the same time. I'd leave these poor ladies under the dryer for hours, while I ran to an audition. I graduated, but never took the state board exam, because I got my first Broadway show (Marilyn - An American Fable) which is a whole other saga.

What’s in the near future for Cortés Alexander?

As for the future? Straight ahead.

Thank you again, Cortés! I look forward to hearing your Swell Ideas.

For tickets to Cortés’ one-nighter at the Writer-Off Room September 30, 2023; click on the button below:




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