Entertainment » Music

Broadway's Judy Kuhn Heads to Provincetown for her Third Visit

Friday Jul 13, 2018

Judy Kuhn's career dates back to the 1980s when the sure-voiced, opera-trained singer and actress was featured in such shows as "Les Miserables," for which she received her first of four Tony nominations as Cosette, as well as the ill-fated American premiere of "Chess," where she played Florence Vassey (and received her second Tony nomination). In the 1990s she originated the role of Betty Schaefer in "Sunset Boulevard," and Amalia in the well-received revival of "She Loves Me" (her third Tony nomination).

More recently she played Sondheim's tragic Fosca in two productions - one in Washington DC and the second off-Broadway, directed by John Doyle. Of her performance, Ben Brantley in the New York Times wrote: "As pale and skeletal as death's handmaiden, she endows Fosca with a directness and honesty that makes her the most sympathetic - and perversely sane - I have seen."

In 2013 Kuhn originated the role of Helen Bechdel in the off-Broadway Public Theater production of the musical "Fun Home." When the musical transferred to Broadway in 2015, Kuhn received her fourth Tony nomination. Over the years she has released three solo albums, including tributes to such diverse composers as Jule Styne, Richard Rodgers, Adam Guettel and Laura Nyro. When she performed Nyro songs in an evening at a New York jazz club a decade ago, Stephen Holden wrote, "she came as close to channeling Ms. Nyro's essence as any performer I've heard, with the exception of Rickie Lee Jones."

Ms. Kuhn returns to Provincetown for her third visit with appearances at the Art House with Seth Rudetsky on Sunday, July 15 and Monday, July 16. (For more information, visit the Art House website .)

EDGE caught up with Ms. Kuhn this week for a Q&A.

EDGE:: What's the show you will be doing in Provincetown?

Judy Kuhn: The show Seth Rudetsky and I do is part chat show and part concert. He will interview me and I will tell tales from my career and sing songs, mostly from shows I have done plus others I love to do. Seth is enormously entertaining and these shows are always fun.

EDGE:: You will be performing once more with Seth. What is your relationship with him like?

Judy Kuhn: I have known Seth for years and consider him a dear friend. I love working with him. We just returned from a Playbill Cruise in Iceland, which was our fourth cruise together so we have traveled together a bunch as well. I always enjoy his company and that of his husband James. They are great people.

EDGE:: Will your material for the show be drawn from the recent Lincoln Center's "American Songbook" concert?

Judy Kuhn: I am not sure. We haven't chosen all the material yet! I usually arrive with a book full of music and we just choose that day what we want to do.

EDGE:: Back in the 1990s, you sang "Colors in the Wind" in the film "Pocahontas." What are your memories of performing that Oscar-winning song?

Judy Kuhn: It was an amazing experience, singing on a sound stage with a 90 piece orchestra was thrilling. The fact that they are great songs didn't hurt either. And of course, being a part of the extraordinary legacy of Disney animation is pretty special.

EDGE:: I was fortunate enough to see you in "Rags" and "Chess," two shows that deserved better fates. Why do you think they didn't catch on?

Judy Kuhn: Who knows why some shows have runs and some shows don't? It is always a mystery to me. Both of those shows were flawed in their original incarnations, but the fact that people continue to listen to the cast albums and mount new productions of them, I think speak to their success.

EDGE:: I also saw you in "Metropolis," (a musical adaptation of the Fritz Lang film that played London in 1989), which was a trip. What was that experience like?

Judy Kuhn: Complicated. It was great to live and work in London tho. I'll leave it at that!

EDGE:: You have played many legendary roles - both Cosette and Fantine in "Les Miz" in two productions, Florence in "Chess," and Fosca in "Passion" (also in two productions.) Do you have a favorite?

Judy Kuhn: I hate picking favorites. All if those shows offered me unique and wonderful experiences, but Fosca was probably the most challenging and deeply satisfying role I have ever gotten to work on. And I was lucky to have done the show twice!

EDGE:: Recently you received your fourth Tony nomination for "Fun Home." What was that experience like?

Judy Kuhn: The experience of being part of that piece, which I was involved with from its early stages, will probably never be topped. It was one of the most creative, collaborative and important piece I have ever had the privilege of working on. And I made life long friends in the process.

EDGE:: One of my favorite CDs is the one where you sang the songs of Laura Nyro. What made her such a great artist?

Judy Kuhn: Thank you! I love her so much. She has such a unique voice (and I mean that literally and figuratively) No one wrote songs like her. They are profound and poetic. And she wrote in so many styles, there is such variety in her work. She was one of a kind and had a huge influence on many singer songwriters that came after her.

Judy Kuhn appears on Sunday and Monday, July 15 and 16 at the Art House, 214 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA. For ticket information, visit the Art House website.)

For more information and Judy Kuhn, visit her website.

Watch Judy Kuhn perform "Don't Rain on my Parade":

Watch this scene from "Fun Home" with Judy Kuhn:


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