Judy Kuhn has inspired New York audiences in the musicals Les Miserables, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Rags, Chess, She Loves Me and, most recently, Passion. Now the three-time Tony nominee is taking the stage at 54 Below to perform selections from her latest studio album All This Happiness. Click below to hear her discuss the night Barbara Cook changed her life, her Sondheim mash-up and more.
What album was your favorite growing up?
Joni Mitchell’s Blue.
What concert most influenced you as a performer?
I remember seeing Barbara Cook in her Mostly Sondheim concert at Lincoln Center, and while I was watching a light bulb went on in my head. I can’t even articulate what it was, but a deeper understanding about communicating a lyric.
What is your go-to audition song?
I don’t really have one now, but when I first came to New York I used to sing “Simple Little Things” from 110 in the Shade when they needed something legit. It’s a great acting piece.
What song are you most excited to perform in your show?
Oh, that is such a hard question to answer! I love them all…I like the juxtaposition of singing Sondheim’s “Happiness” and “In Buddy’s Eyes” (which we do as a medley) and then launching into Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love.”
What musical theater track is the most played on your iPod?
For a while it was the ENTIRE score of Floyd Collins.
If you could invite any performer onstage for a duet at 54 Below, who would it be?
Ray Charles. If he is unavailable, my daughter.
What musical theater performer from the past do you wish you could collaborate with?
What album was the soundtrack to your 20s?
Talking Heads’ Remain in Light and Speaking In Tongues.
What’s your favorite love song?
“My One And Only Love” (especially as played and sung by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman). It was the first dance at my wedding.
What song makes you feel sexy?
“Let's Stay Together” by Al Green.
What is your favorite workout track?
Beck’s “Che Onde Guero" (really anything from the Guero album).
What’s the best hidden gem in on your iPod?
Laura Nyro’s demo of “And When I Die,” made when she was 16.
Favorite break-up song?
Another Nyro song that is in my show, “Goodbye Joe” because it’s a happy one!
What song most makes you smile?
“Baby It's Cold Outside” as sung by Ray Charles & Betty Carter.
When this song plays, I can’t help but dance:
“Get Up Offa That Thing” by James Brown.
My Vote for the “song of summer” is:
“Stoned Soul Picnic.” Yes, I know, more Laura Nyro!
Don’t miss Judy Kuhn perform All This Happiness at 54 Below on June 12, and click below for a sneak peek at the new show.