The 3-minute interview with Charlotte Rae

The 81-year-old singer-actress-comedian, who starred in “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life” and as Mrs. Peachum in the famed 1954 off-Broadway production of “The Threepenny Opera,” will premiere her solo cabaret show, “The Best of Cabaret,” tonight at the Empire Plush Room in San Francisco.

What inspired you to do your own cabaret show? Some people know me as Mrs. Garrett, but I had a whole other life before that. I went from Wisconsin to Northwestern. From there I went on to New York. Theater and Tony nominations, television and Emmy nominations, and film were all before the series. But I actually started out in cabaret and I haven’t done it in 55 years.

What should we expect from the show? I’m bringing back a lot of the songs from an album I made in 1955 that was reissued last year called “Songs I Taught My Mother” and also from “Threepenny Opera.” I talk about some of my experiences and different people I’ve worked with along the way. I’m talking about my philosophy and how I’m still learning that life is one long day at school.

At 81, it’s pretty brave of you to put on your first show. I’m blessed because I can still stand and sing and make people forget the world for a few minutes.

Are you touring with the show? I haven’t decided yet. I would like to play colleges rather than clubs because I want young people to be able to come and they can’t afford to.

Is cabaret experiencing a return? I think it’s coming back because there are a lot of special songs that people want to hear, things from the past. I think that television is great and theater is great, but cabaret is also great. I’d love it to come back.

svasilyuk@examiner.com


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