Interview – Alet Oury
Bruce Kimmel: Welcome, Alet Oury, wonderful singer and swell gal, to haineshisway.com and our Unseemly Interview. Before we get too far along, we like to start at the very beginning which is, after all, a very good place to start. Tell us about you, Alet Oury, because you is who we’re interviewing. In other words, if you tell us about Ida Mae Whiffle we shall not care (I mean, I LIKE Ida Mae Whiffle, don’t get me wrong, but who needs it?). We want to know about you. So, where were you born and tell us a bit about your childhood.
Alet Oury: I was born and raised in San Diego, CA (Del Mar, really) – I’m one of four children, the only girl, text book middle child who craved attention and never seemed to feel like she had enough. My father was in the Navy completing his residency in cardiac surgery, my mom a theology teacher, and my brothers prayed for just one day when I wouldn’t sing anything. My mom is (she would say “was”) a spinto soprano and I was told I sang before I spoke. There was always music in our home – The Beatles, Kingston Trio, Elton John, and my earliest memories are of singing “Bungalow Bill” and “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley” with my folks. At 3 years of age, in the middle of dinner usually, I liked to stand on my chair and ask who wanted to hear “Hush Little Baby” and not wait for an answer and sing all 7 verses. I do remember being told that “just because we’re having friends over for dinner doesn’t mean they’ve come to hear you sing,” but I don’t remember being stopped until I unknowingly sang some vulgar lyrics from a Monty Python album my brother owned. I was only eight and I didn’t know what the lyrics meant, just that everyone looked shocked. I didn’t get into trouble very often, a very compliant happy kid, perhaps a little worrisome, but my mom said that was because I was born on a Wednesday. I have the usual complaints about my childhood that often differ greatly from my brother’s complaints – it’s all just the normal dysfunction of a big family. I grew up in a safe, stable home where we were expected to succeed and push ourselves. Everyone in the family is an overachiever and everyone has paid some sort of price for that I believe.
BK: Okay, so there you are, young and cute Alet Oury. When did you first realize you wanted to be a performer and be in the show business?
AO: I saw productions of ANNIE and GUYS AND DOLLS at the Starlight Theater in San Diego and was sure in my little heart that I was supposed to be a performer. I practiced singing listening to my soundtrack of GREASE and later Madonna and Cyndi Lauper because at the time I’d never heard anyone sing that high. When I was in my first production of ANNIE, I realized that if one could sing “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”, it was easy to sing “Hard Knock Life.”
BK: Did you take drama classes in school? Did you take singing and acting lessons? Did you do shows in your home town? You may answer in any order you like.
AO: My mom was in productions of things, but I wasn’t so much. She was downstairs one night rehearsing “Till There Was You” from THE MUSIC MAN and I was upstairs making fun of her – copying what I thought was her silly old lady voice. She came upstairs and said that if I could make fun of her, I could sing soprano – and I think I started taking lessons after that. Mostly voice and tap. I was also a good tennis player, but eventually had to make a choice what I wanted to spend my allowance on. In high school, I was part of a singing group – we called ourselves The Lockets and sang Motown songs at malls all over San Diego county. I learned how to harmonize ( and hold my own harmony), how to sing and dance at the same time, how to keep smiling when no one is listening, what to do when one girl in the group hates the other in the group, how long it takes to pay someone back when you borrow their sound system and then leave it in the rain because you followed some cute boys into Tower Records etc…. We had a tape cassette recorded of the songs we did best and I sent it to colleges along with an essay on my favorite maxim or which person in history would I most like to meet or whatever the college I was applying to requested. I think writing an essay on wanting to meet the woman who invented fire got me into Trinity College and probably not the cassette I sent of my best rendition of “Don’t Mess With Bill”.
BK: So, how was college? Did you do shows there and if so, which?
AO: I chose Trinity College in Hartford, CT because it was the best school I got into and my parents wouldn’t let me go to New York. I told my mom I wanted to pursue theater and she said, “I don’t think you’re that good, sweetie.” At the time, I probably wasn’t, but it made me determined to prove her wrong. Trinity is known for their art history, and there is no musical theater department. But, there was a music director, Gerald Moshell, who love/hated to put on musicals – we had a beautiful theater – and because there was no seniority in casting leads, I played a lead every single semester of college. There were a handful of us who could sing and some hockey players to just stand there and be “the men”. I learned almost everything I know about doing musicals from fumbling my way through full-scale productions. From ANYTHING GOES (Bonnie) and THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (Drood) to INTO THE WOODS (Cinderella) – I faked it until I understood what I was doing. I still remember being “sniffed” in for “Steps of The Palace” because I couldn’t count. When the conductor sniffed, I knew it was time to sing. By my senior year, I hadn’t picked a major and chose psychology because that’s what I had the most credits in and there was no thesis to write. I think I convinced my advisor that a senior vocal recital demonstrated a portrayal of adolescent development influenced by group dynamics or some sort of BULLS__T like that. At the same time, another music professor handed me an application to AMDA in New York City and suggested it might be an easier transition into the business if I was accepted. I thought that if HE thought I should I apply, then I should. I borrowed a friend’s car (mine was irresponsibly missing), drove down, auditioned, and won the Florence Bower Vocal Scholarship. And now I could call my parents and say, “See? Someone wants to pay me to go to their school! OK? Can I please do this now?”
BK: So, there you are, Alet Oury, in New York, New York. Did you immediately start doing the rounds and going on auditions? I mean, there you are, a young, fresh-faced new girl in town, what is it like? Did you have an agent, or were you able to get one right away? Hold nothing back.
AO: I didn’t feel very young and fresh-faced compared to the other students at AMDA because they were all VERY young. I mean, I still felt like I had my whole life ahead of me, but I knew how to find an apartment, get rid of roaches, and pester the landlord until she turned the heat on. A lot of those kids had NO IDEA how to take care of themselves. I don’t have much to say about AMDA – we weren’t allowed to audition while we agreed to be in the program and I was waitressing most nights until 2AM, so I was tired. I just showed up for classes and no one wanted to sit next to me because I smelled like fried food all the time. And no one wanted to be in a group number with me because I never showed up for rehearsals. It wasn’t that I thought I didn’t need rehearsals – there are just so many burritos to serve to make rent, I didn’t have the energy for the CHORUS LINE opening number. I did have an excellent voice teacher who managed to undo that throaty belt I had and replace it with something I could conceivably use nine times a week and a nice High C to boot. Her goal was to help me produce a sound that would get me work, which it did. You know, I just realized, I don’t think I graduated from AMDA. Yeah, I got an “incomplete” because I didn’t turn in my journal – I was supposed to log all my rehearsal time outside of class. I wrote “waitressing” all over my journal and turned it in and it was given back to me with a big “unacceptable” on it, so I blew it off. They never gave me their special certificate. But I was on the cover of their pamphlet for awhile. I think it was hard to go to AMDA after a 4 year college. I’d recommend going before college or during the time after high school when you’re not sure what you want to do. I did get an agent from the AMDA showcase, and although I only free-lanced with him, he got me an audition for City Center’s Encores! ONE TOUCH OF VENUS which changed my life.
BK: Okay, how long did you have to waitress whilst looking for theater work? And did you have to do other jobs, too? If so, tell us about some of the wackier jobs you had.
AO: I waitressed for the next 2 years, sitting on the greasy steps of the VJ booth devouring BACKSTAGE. I’d leave the restaurant to do THE FANTASTICKS in Potsdam, NY or PASSION in Hartford and then come back to the city and ask for my job back. It was always a new manager who had heard I was a hard worker and I always got my job back. That mix of frustration that the latest theater gig didn’t mean the end of waitressing and the relief that I had a waitressing job until the next theater gig. And I played Fosca in PASSION, by the way. I know, if anyone has seen a picture of me – Pollyanna never gets cast as Fosca, but I did and it’s one of my favorite roles I’ve ever played. I don’t know how good I was, but Louisa and Fosca are both fairly obsessive chicks and if you let that happen with the character, no one complains too much. I was too old to play Louisa and too young to play Fosca – but I learned so much and am grateful someone made a mistake and cast me. Wackier jobs? Well, I worked as a receptionist for The Hair Club For Men for a week but that was just sort of creepy. Nothing was terribly cerebral. If you can multi-task well, you will work and people will say things like, “you really should consider this as a career”. Waitressing? As a career? Oh, my heavens, no, I’m an ACTRESS, you see, and although your head might be spinning watching me fill ketchup bottles, mix margaritas, and bang on the register/computer all at the same time, you must know that in MY head I’m playing the game “character asassination” and you have just been killed because – with a menu in your hand – you have asked me if we serve food. So, I went back and forth for about three years – waitressing, CITY OF ANGELS (Mallory), waitressing, PETER PAN (Wendy – the stagehand flew me into a wall, giving a whole new meaning to Neverneverland, or whatever it’s called), waitressing, FUNNYGIRL (Fanny – again, a very WASPY choice for the role, but I wasn’t going to say anything), waitressing, THUMBELINA (ummm – spider, potted plant – move it along, nothing to look at here – oh, wait – I insisted halfway through the tour that I could drive the big truck and drove it into the awning of a Best Western and then got nervous and backed up and took out the whole thing), waitressing, SKIN OF OUR TEETH (Ivy).
BK: Now, you simply must tell us how your first big professional job came about. What was it, were you thrilled, was it what you’d hoped and dreamed it would be, or was it heinous (heinous, do you hear me?)?
AO: NO, it wasn’t HEINOUS. My God, even THUMBELINA wasn’t heinous. I had eight legs and a plethora of pollen on my head and I took out the side of a hotel, but someone was still paying me to perform. My first professional job in New York was City Center’s ONE TOUCH OF VENUS with Melissa Errico and Andy Taylor. I met people in that show that I would work with again and again and audition with and commiserate with and marry. I’d never performed in a theater that large and practically ran to rehearsals every day because I was so excited to be included in all of it. I met Jane Krakowski and ended up playing a pantomime scene behind her because Leonard Foglia thought we were similar looking. Rob Fisher remembered me in that scene and asked me to audition for LOUISIANA PURCHASE. The best part of getting that gig was calling my parents. And my mom cried when I told her they had hired me to sing soprano.
BK: The very first time I saw you, Alet Oury, was when my friend, Debbie Gravitte, insisted that I come to Carnegie Hall to see Louisiana Purchase conducted by Mr. Rob Fisher. I do remember that somewhere between leaving my apartment and arriving at Carnegie Hall I lost my glasses. But, even not being able to see well, there was no way I could miss Alet Oury on that stage. In fact, my eyes were riveted to you the first time you stood up to sing – when the first notes came out of your mouth you were all I watched for the rest of the evening (don’t tell Debbie). After the show, I went to the party they had, and I told Debbie I had to meet you. Before we get to that meeting, tell us how you got the job, tell us what it was like rehearsing for it and then doing your first Carnegie Hall appearance.
AO: First of all, THANK YOU, it’s been a long time since anyone said they were “riveted” to my singing. Rehearsing at Carnegie Hall is as wonderful as you can imagine and if anyone tells you different, they’re already bitter and pretentious. I bounced around the rehearsal hall and irritated the hell out of Debbie Gravitte who might have been amused with me, but in the way one is amused by a hyper puppy. I will never forget that opening night and never forget opening up the New Yorker and seeing my name next to Debbie’s and Judy Blazer’s.
BK: So, at the party, Debbie brings you over to meet me, and I tell you how great I think you were and that I hope you’ll come sing on one of my albums. You look at me as if to say, “Yeah, right” and then you say, “Nice to meet you, I have to go be with my boyfriend.” You really didn’t know me, and you certainly didn’t believe me when I said I wanted you to sing on an album. What did you think?
AO: Did I really say that? I mean, I remember thinking that I needed to make sure my boyfriend was having a good time, but did I really say that? No, I guess I didn’t believe you because no matter what level of performing you’re at in theater, you hear that kind of stuff all the time, and you learn not to get your hopes up, not to have high expectations – because it hurts so much when they don’t come true. Especially when you’re 24 years old. I’m sure it had little to do with you, Bruce, and more to do with trying not to set myself up for disappointment. I wanted it to be true so badly. Sing on an album? My heart skipped a beat, I’m sure. Anyway, I believed Debbie, even if I was skeptical of your sincerity. And the boyfriend thing – well, we co-dependents are a humble bunch, full of self-deprecating thoughts and resentments – we only come out at night when we perceive other people are angry with us – then we jump through many hoops, careful to sabatoge our own happiness lest it feel too good. How’s that? Yes, now I’m positive I told you I had to be with my boyfriend.
BK: After Louisiana Purchase, did you get calls? Tell us about life post concert – did you keep going on interviews, did you do other shows?
AO: “Interviews”? That sounds like my Dad asking me to call him at “half time” midway through a show. Yeah, I got an agent from Louisiana Purchase, but I did go back to waitressing after Carnegie Hall. I also taught music to wee little children at a private school on the upper east side. Lots of parents wanting to know how their infant was doing. I always came up with something that would satisfy their anxieties about – God forbid – raising a cookie cutter child, but I was really thinking, “I don’t know how your child is doing because he’s only 15 months old.” I was always tempted to say, “Now that you mention it, we’re all very worried about Johnnie. His pitch is good, but The Eentsy Weentsy Spider is definitely a challenge for him – most infants his age have mastered the thumb-forefinger handography. Is there anything going on at home that we should be made aware of?”
I did do other shows – hard to remember the chronology – I think it was FORUM (Philia) at Gateway, then 3 more City Center shows (SWEET ADELINE, BOYS FROM SYRACUSE, LI’L ABNER), two more at Carnegie Hall (IRA’S 100th BIRTHDAY, TIPTOES), and, of course, a phone call from Bruce Kimmel. Those were great phone calls.
BK: Yes, the phone call. I remember it well. There I am, in the studio, doing my Peter Pan album. I had cast the album and we had done the first orchestra day, when I got the news that one of my singers couldn’t do the album. I was stuck, in a bind, and it was one of my favorite tracks – I’ve Gotta Crow. I’m sitting there with my musical director, Todd Ellison, and we’re racking our brains and suddenly I remember Alet Oury. Somehow we got your number, and I know you came down to sing for us. You came in and told me that you’d never believed me when I said you’d sing on one of my albums. Then you sang the song for us and started to leave. I said, be here tomorrow to lay down the vocal – and again, you looked at me as if I was nuts. You thought you were just auditioning, but you already had the job when you walked in the door. Tell us your memories of that first recording experience with me.
AO: Yes, I thought I was auditioning – I had no reason to think otherwise. Again, this has more to do with kind of being instinctively wired for disappointment and less to do with anything you were promising. I don’t think I looked at you like you were nuts – I think the feeling of “Really? Oh my God!” hadn’t yet traveled from my heart to my face. I save “are you nuts” for various relatives who want to know when I’m going to get this whole acting business “out of my system”. I was thrilled to be on one of your albums. I crowed all the way home (which you can do on a New York subway, nary a glance from your fellow passengers).
My memories of that recording experience are all kind of that feeling when you wake up as a kid and know it’s your birthday. Todd Ellison was so patient and kind and you were so pushy (in a good way). We were trying to find different ways to crow, laughing a lot (“can you make the crow sound like a question?”) and playing around with the lyrics. I remember messing around with the lyric “play tag on the breeze” and you stood up from you chair and said, “that’s it!” You’re not a particularly animated person, Bruce, so to see you get out of your chair was exciting and I was hoping “that’s it!” would get me on another CD.
BK: And so it did. I do remember saying “You should sound like you’re really playing tag with the breeze, and boy you did something with that lyric that was magical, hence my animation. You went on to do several more albums for me. What were your favorite tracks to do and why? I do remember you were very nervous about Jenny Rebecca, but I thought you did it splendidly.
AO: I was very nervous to do Jenny Rebecca and I think I kind of sound nervous on the track, like I don’t know if I want to be a mother. But, thank you, I won’t disagree with you because no one really wants to hear that, right? Like watching actors comment on the material they’re performing – yes, I’m saying these lines and singing these songs, but I’m not really a prostitute in France and I’m never this dirty, and I sounded better yesterday, I sort of have a cold, blah, blah,blah. The audience really doesn’t want to see or hear your apologies. Anyway, an acquaintance said to me, “Jenny Rebecca? Isn’t that out of your league?” And I believed her and I sang it like it was out of my league. But, you know, Bruce, of all the albums I did for you, that’s the one my Dad listens to all the time.
My favorite track hands down was “If I Can’t Take It With Me” from Goldilocks (Lost in Boston). I can hear myself smiling when I listen to it. I was happy to be asked to do a 2nd album, I understood and liked what I was singing, and we told many a dirty joke recording that song. Growing up in a household of men, I didn’t know that nice girls don’t tell dirty jokes. Someone had to tell me. I decided that nice girls do tell dirty jokes, it’s just that uptight people don’t like to hear them because they wish they could tell dirty jokes too.
BK: Alet Oury, there you are, still in New York, still trying to get jobs. Is it difficult to keep a happy face when there’s so much rejection on auditions. How did you deal with it?
AO: I’m still auditioning because my love of performing makes the rejection worthwhile. That’s not true for some people. It’s very hard to figure it all out – and there are definitely days when I don’t want to give one more person I don’t know my headshot. You are the commodity that you sell and it’s hard not to take it personally. A teacher, very early on in my career, told me what my strengths and weaknesses were and also told me how pretty I was and how pretty I wasn’t. It’s important to be receptive to this type of advice when it’s sincere. It helps when you get yet another call from your agent who says, “They loved you. Great audition. They went with someone else.” Some of the rejection I could analyze away. When it’s between me and one other girl for the role of Magnolia in SHOWBOAT, it’s really not a matter of who’s better. We both have the High C, we both read the sides like we’ve waited all our lives to be kissed, we both look virginal and hopeful – but the director likes her hair better, or her dress, or I remind him or someone who used to make fun of him in high school – he just can’t quite put his finger on it, so….we’ll go with the other girl. It’s whimsy. It’s beyond anything I’m capable of controling. I sound like I got the rejection thing handled, but I don’t periodically, and I didn’t for a long time and I anesthetized myself until it didn’t hurt. I drank and drank and drank all those feelings away. And the light in me started to go out.
BK: You are one of my favorite people, Alet Oury, so it is not easy to ask the next question, but ask it I shall: I know you went through some tremendous emotional difficulties and I know it sometimes affected how you conducted yourself. You were originally supposed to do The Stephen Schwartz Album for me, and you dropped out quite suddenly three days before the sessions. Tell as much or as little about what was going on in your life then, and how you finally overcame your travails.
AO: Oooo, scary question – but answer it I shall (always fun to talk Yoda with Bruce). Okay – I’m a recovering alcoholic and have been sober a little over four and a half years. It’s hard to put all this in a nutshell, but I will try. If breaking my anonymity helps one person than it’s worth it. I drank like my parents drank, then with my friends and then without my friends, and then I had no friends. This is over a ten year period and alcoholism sneaks up on you until you’re by yourself, unable to stop, despite all forms of willpower and character strength and it leaves you baffled and scared with lots of apologies to make once you decide to stop. The week I was supposed to record the Schwartz album, other people who loved me decided to help me stop, scheduled an intervention, and when I agreed to go, sent me to a rehab in New Jersey where I stayed for 10 months and 8 days. This was and has been the hardest thing I have ever been through. Worst than childbirth. Having a baby is CAKE after DETOX. I’ve remained sober since I went to rehab because my life has been more worthwhile sober than drunk. It’s an important distinction. Drinking is fun and it made all my problems go away. I was so afraid to grow up. Oh, dear. This is hard to talk about.
Rehab, unless you’re at a spa rehap, is a frightening place. I wasn’t like a lot of the other girls there, had never done drugs, I looked somewhat healthy – and as soon as I started to feel better, I became my usual perky self. I bugged the shit out of everyone. A lot of people get sober to figure out they have clinical depression. I got sober and became very happy, very quickly. There were lots of angry, recovering people there and sometimes I got caught up in it. I was punched and pushed by a girl and threatened by others. But I survived and will continue to survive. I am forever grateful to the counselors of that place. They helped me make all my amends and pointed out the long line of alcoholics in my family. The shame was slowly removed.
And everyone has their demons, right? Mine sort of slapped me in the face. Fortunately, I got sick at a very young age and the damage I’d done to myself and to others could be repaired. For the most part. There are still a few people who don’t want to hear from me. My advice to anyone who thinks he or she may have a problem is to say it out loud to someone as soon as you can and don’t be fooled by your high tolerance for alcohol. It’s not something to boast about – it’s the worst kind of adaption your body makes.
BK: Thank you for being so frank. So, there you are, healing yourself, and on the road to recovery. How did you and your soon-to-be-betrothed, Mr. Andy Taylor, hook back up?
AO: Andy and I worked together doing ONE TOUCH OF VENUS and four years later doing TIPTOES, but didn’t hook up until May of 2000 because he was married and well, I was in rehab. No one really thought it would work considering my new sobriety, but Andy and I knew it would and the worse things got, the more we laughed. He was living in Los Angeles, sharing joint custody of his FABULOUS son Dashiell, auditioning, booking commercials and I moved in with the two of them and got a job. That’s about all I could handle at the time. We played Connect Four and Monopoly with Dash and giggled at night about how no one in LA gave a rat’s ASS how many concert readings we had done in New York.
BK: Tell us about your wedding. Was it like The Sound of Music? Did you do anything wacky? And where did you honeymoon?
AO: Oh, you mean did we sing to each other? We were trying to have a nice, normal wedding because everyone had already seen me do wacky things while I was drinking and they were scared when I was even the least bit effusive. It was like The Sound of Music in that I inherited a kid, and he liked to put things in my bed and play tricks on me. And he can sing. We like to watch American Idol together and the both of us just sob when someone gets voted off. Anyway, we had a lovely wedding in Montana, Dash played a Bach tune on the piano, and all our guests marveled that Andy and I met in New York and found out our parents lived 30 minutes from each other in Montana (my folks moved up there in 1990).
We honeymooned on Flathead Lake in Polson, Montana at a McMansion that one of my Dad’s cardiologist friends owned and loaned us for a week. We floated around the lake – I got stung by a bee on my butt – and we read poetry to each other and watched lake birds commit suicide on the windows of our McMansion. The windows were enormous and these birds would fly right into them until Andy went to the local taxidermist and bought some stickers that were supposed to “warn” the birds. Love and death on the lake. Oh, birth, too. I got pregnant in a New York minute like a month after we were married. Dashiell was thrilled and we were thrilled and nervous because the actors were on strike and we were running out of money.
The best part about getting married was when Dashiell got down on one knee and asked me to be his stepmom.
BK: How come Andy and you decided to stay in LA?
AO: Dashiell’s mom and stepdad live in LA. He was 5 when his parents divorced and got remarried and it was a bit much for his little heart. We thought it was best for his sense of security and self-esteem if we provided a consistent environment between two households while he went to one school. And we wanted him to be close to his sister who was on the way sooner than we expected. The four of us parents have a very amicable uneventful, relationship and take care of the children well. Not much drama to speak of. Dash’s emotional development seemed infinitely more important than our careers. But it was hard – Andy and I were theater actors mostly and in LA, theater is a means to an end (it seems) – a way to move on to other things. In New York, it’s possible to make a living doing theater.
BK: Now, I happen to know this is true so do not deny it – I know that you, Alet Oury, worked in Los Angeles at Victoria’s Secret. How did that come about and why did they keep promoting you and promoting you. Also, tell us about the two people you ran into that have been regulars in the Kimmel Rep Company of singers.
AO: OH FINE. Andy and I were down to our last can of beans and Dash was eating old Halloween candy and I was pregnant, so I got a job at Victoria’s Secret. They made me a bra specialist (I didn’t know there was any expertise to this, either. The answer is, there isn’t unless you have a 32EE walk in the door and then you have to explain to her that God doesn’t make tiny rib cages and BIG BIG TITS and that’s why she’s having trouble finding a bra. Does her plastic surgeon have any suggestions?), and then they made me and advanced bra specialist, then a manager, then a director of a store in Beverly Hills in charge of my own managers and bra specialists.
I think they kept promoting me because I showed up every day for work, never called in sick (even pregnant) and was articulate. Many of the women I worked for were younger than I was. I didn’t tell them I was secretly afraid of not showing up for work, fearful that someone would find out and send me back to rehab. I was still having nightmares of my rehab roommate screaming at me “get out of my face, you Prozac fuck!” This is only funny because I was never on Prozac.
As I mentioned before, I was a good multi-tasker and a quick study. And we had a mortgage to pay. The two people you’re referring to, Bruce, are Jane Krakowski and Alice Ripley. Jane I helped briefly with an outfit she had to wear to a party and she was happy to hear about me and Andy. I didn’t recognize Alice because I wasn’t looking at any of the customers I was helping. A huge, frightening woman had just called me a “punk-ass bitch” for not returning her nasty lingerie and I wasn’t all that thrilled to be at work. I did check Alice’s ID and then sort of blurted out, “Oh, Alice, we did Li’l Abner together and now I’m ringing up your lingerie.” She grabbed my hands with hers and said, “HI! I might be asking you for a job one day so get over it. How are you?” She was so kind.
I think the other Victoria Secret stories I’ll have to save for the musical I’m writing that I will make Bruce produce. It’s not everyday you meet a woman who nurses her dog.
BK: In one of those great bursts of luck that happen, Mr. Andy Taylor hit gold and got cast in the tour of The Producers – not just cast, but playing the leading role of Leo. How has this impacted your life?
AO: We paid the IRS back! Really, we’ve just paid back everyone who loaned us money before Andy got the job. When we got the phone call that “they” wanted to see Andy to audition for this role, I was eight and a half months pregnant and they wanted to see him in three weeks – the week the baby was due. We didn’t really have a choice, financially, so we pawned my jewelry and bought him a ticket to New York. The doctor assured us that even if I started to go into labor while Andy was gone, he should make it back to catch the kid because, after all, it takes a long time to give birth. Apparantly not. The morning of Andy’s audition, I woke up my mom who had flown to be with me, and called Andy and the doctor and told them all I had been having contractions all night and that we had to go to the hospital. When we got there, the doctor got on the phone with Andy and said, “I’m sorry, son, but this baby wants to come out now and you’re going to miss it and the next time your wife has a baby, she better RUN to the hospital.”
Lucy was born an hour before Andy auditioned. He didn’t get the job then, but was told he was on the “short list of replacements”. Six months later, they called him in again and he got it. We were just about to sell our house. My mother-in-law says babies bring their own money. We’ve been on the road since May of 2003 and have loved every minute of it. The cast has watched Lucy learn how to walk and adores Dashiell when he’s able to visit. And we bought my jewerly back. The guy at the pawn shop never sold it because we were “good kids who would be back”.
BK: Tell us all about your beautiful daughter Lucy.
AO: She’s a very happy, busy little thing – plays hard, sleeps hard – and sings an awful lot but doesn’t say much (that we can understand). She calls me “a mom”. She loves her brother tremendously as well as all Aunties in the show who love to buy her outfits and pretty shoes. The women in the cast like her, too. Like a good little girl, she’s picked up a virus at every Children’s Museum in every city we’ve been to and has recovered nicely. And she’s very agressive and dramatic. She’s what they call a “gift of sobriety” and I love her so much it makes my stomach hurt.
BK: So, here you are today, Alet Oury, on the road with Andy and Lucy, and ready, willing and able to get back to what you do so well. What do you hope the future holds for you? And do you have any advice for our younger readers who are performer hopefuls?
AO: I hope the future involves being a working actress again, and I hope I continue to be a good mom and stepmom and wife and I hope someone reads this and learns something valuable. I hope I never have to use my expertise as a bra specialist again, nor my waitressing talents – but I’m prepared to do either if it keeps my family fed and the bills paid. I hope I get to stand on stage again at Carnegie Hall and I hope I can keep telling dirty jokes. Thankyou for listening. Thankyou Bruce for wanting to talk to me again and allowing me this opportunity. I’m grateful to have been on your albums and grateful for your friendship. I have to go – Lucy needs a grilled cheese sandwhich and Barny’s on.
BK: Thank you, Alet Oury, and we salute you with our favorite beverage, Diet Coke.