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Cyndi Lauper just wants to have fun on Broadway
Question of the Day
“The more talented the person, the easier it is to work with them,” he says. “She’s used to having to fight. So the hardest thing for her I think was to say, `Oh, they’re not fighting me. They’re helping me.’”
The daughter of immigrants from Palermo, Italy, Lauper was born in the New York borough of Queens and raised in Brooklyn, acquiring her signature thick accent. She began performing in 1974 with a local Long Island band, then formed Blue Angel in 1978.
After the group’s debut album bombed in 1980, the band split up. Lauper went to work in a clothing store and sang Top 40 tunes at a Manhattan bar. Then came the wild success of her 1983 debut LP, “She’s So Unusual,” from which the single “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was taken.
Her music since then has gone in many directions. On “Sisters of Avalon,” Lauper collaborated with Jan Pulsford, former keyboard player in the Thompson Twins. On “At Last,” she tackled pop standards. And she explored the blues in her recent “Memphis Blues” CD.
That experimentation helped when she was asked to write different styles for different characters in “Kinky Boots.” But Lauper insists she just followed orders.
“I like to make people laugh. I like to make people think and cry. I like the characters to have depth and Harvey writes them with depth,” she says. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I just follow what they wanted.”
Someone wanted a song with the refrain “Yeah!” so she wrote “Everybody Say Yeah.” Fierstein wanted a duet by the two male leads about shaking free from their dads, so she wrote “Not My Father’s Son.” Watching the film “Kung Fu Panda” with her 15-year-old son triggered the song “The History of Wrong Guys.”
She says songs just come to her, whether she’s at the gym or in bed. When they do, she reaches for her iPhone and sings into a recorder. “Sometimes they come in an idea, sometimes they come in a song, sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night.”
Music hasn’t always been able to contain Lauper, who won an Emmy in 1995 for a guest role on the NBC show “Mad About You.” She starred on Broadway in “Three Penny Opera” alongside Alan Cumming in 2006, wrote an autobiography, and last year starred in her own reality show, “Cyndi Lauper: She’s Still So Unusual” on WE.
Now she’s challenged herself with a Broadway score. “I found it fantastic and I think I’m a better songwriter for it, too,” she says before putting a knit cap on and disappearing into the theater to watch the show.
“I gotta go hide,” she says.
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