Linda Lavin explores 'Possibilities' with audiences Monday


PITTSFIELD -- Linda Lavin says she likes to think of her cabaret shows as parties to which everyone is invited.

"It's very informal and I'm drawing the show from my life," suggested the hostess for this party in a recent chat by phone as she was pondering her gathering Monday evening at 8 on the Boyd-Quinson Mainstage.

"Possibilities," the show under discussion and also the name of Lavin's first CD, offers an eclectic mix of Broadway standards and cabaret tunes from the actress' extensive portfolio. And, as she noted, each song is especially significant in her history as a Tony- and Golden Globe Award-winning actress and as an Emmy recipient for her admired work on television.

"These are all the songs I've loved and kind of grown up with, that mean a lot to me in telling the story of who I am," she explained. She cited her title song as one very cogent example: " ‘You've Got Possibilities' was the song I did in my first starring role on Broadway, in ‘It's a Bird, It's a Plane It's Superman.' "

Lavin has one of those voices that best can be described as cute and endearing, one that tends immediately to embrace her listeners. Her skillful musical director, Billy Stritch, takes advantage of that distinctive vocal lilt in his arrangements.

"It all feels very good," said Lavin. "We have a fabulous quintet of great musicians, wonderful arrangements, and also I play the piano. It's a happy, sexy, funny, intimate and joyful evening," she promised.

In addition to Stritch, that quintet on which she lavished praise will include Aaron Weinstein, violin; Tom Hubbard, bass; John Hart, guitar, and Steve Bakunas, the drummer who also doubles as Lavin's husband.

The two were driving in upstate New York one morning last week when we reached them en route to their newly constructed home "in the mountains," as Lavin described it, just off the Taconic Parkway. Although the couple continues to be legal residents of North Carolina, the new house is near the city and also the Berkshires and Columbia County, which Lavin said pleases her a great deal. She has happy memories of a cabaret concert at the Mahaiwe in Great Barrington and, a few months ago, when she and her band took over an evening at Club Helsinki in Hudson, N.Y.

Born in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Lucille (neé Potter), a singer and local radio show host, and David J. Lavin, the owner of a successful furniture business, Lavin has been onstage since age 5, and by the time she was graduated from William and Mary, the proud owner of an Equity card.

Following her appearances in several Broadway shows, including Stephen Sondheim's "The Boy From ," "It's A Bird " and Neil Simon's "Last of the Red Hot Lovers," Lavin was drawn to Hollywood, and its beckoning television opportunities.

After guest appearances on several notable shows she secured a recurring role on "Barney Miller," which continued for two seasons until she was given the lead role of "Alice." The show, a popular hit for CBS from 1976 to 1985, was based on Martin Scorsese's film, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore."

With Lavin portraying Alice Hyatt, the waitress and singer played by Ellen Burstyn in the film, Lavin performed David Shire and Alan and Marilyn Bergman's series theme, "There's a New Girl in Town," which was updated for each of the first six seasons.

Situation comedy appeals to Lavin, she said, and she will be taking on a new assignment, which will begin taping in Los Angeles beginning next week. "Sean Saves the World," which stars Sean Hayes from "Will and Grace," will receive its premiere Oct. 3 in the 9 p.m. Thursday spot on NBC.

"Sean is a young man, the father of a 14-year-old daughter. He is a single, gay man trying to raise his teenage daughter by himself while maintaining his job," explained Lavin. "I play his mother who comes over to help him out."

Lavin is delighted with the show and its underlying theme, she said. "I'm excited. I'm looking forward to the newness of it, and still the familiarity of it," said Lavin. "I like the half-hour comedy format, and I like performing before an audience.

"Connecting with the audience is what I like to do," she explained. "Connecting with an audience is very much like connecting in life. You look them in the eye, and listen to them, too. Spontaneous things will happen at Barrington Stage that we don't know about in advance."

On stage

What: "Possibilities" with

Linda Lavin

Who: Barrington Stage Company

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Where: Boyd-Quinson Mainstage, 30 Union St., Pittsfield

Tickets: $75-$35

How: (413) 236-8888;


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