Andrea Bell Wolff – This may be surprising but when I was a child my parents took me to see The Fantasticks. Perhaps its because I’ve always been a hopeless romantic that it’s always stayed in my mind and near and dear to my heart. I remember watching the lovely Rita Gardner with her beautiful long blond hair singing “Just Once.” Fabulous.
2. NLE – If you could play any role you wanted to, what would it be and why?
ABW – Well that depends if it’s based on age! There are numerous roles I would love to play but unfortunately those roles have passed me by. However, there are quite a few roles in my bucket list I would love to do and I am suited for them. I would like to play Bertha in Pippin, Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. Of course Seymour would have to be a bit older also. I also could still play Magenta in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’ve always wanted to do that role and I still can rock fish nets and a garter belt!
3. NLE – Do you have an outrageous story about working in Bottoms Up! or in Las Vegas?
ABW – Ah yes, Bottoms Up! What a ride that was. I was doing Hello, Dolly! and needed to move on. It was great but it was enough already after 5 productions. My friend, the late, talented Marcia Lewis, told me her friends from Bottoms Up! were going to be in town playing the Playboy Club. She set up an audition, and I got the job. I was barely 20! My new boss kind of treated me like his new toy as we would drive around in his red convertible with me sitting on the arm rest in the middle of the front seat. No seat seat belts back then. We would crash parties and he introduced me all around town. I felt like a Vegas celebrity! We did two shows every afternoon in the lounge and sometimes we were called in to open up in the big room for Engelbert Humperdinck and the Fifth Dimension. We then went to Australia to perform and do two TV specials. It was a lot of fun. Ok, so here’s a little inside information. I really wasn’t allowed in the main casino as I wasn’t 21 yet. But my girlfriend Alicia worked at night at Circus Circus in the peep show booth. I would visit her and sometimes and take my top off and dance around as I watched the peering eyes of the men who had just dropped their quarters into the booth. They couldn’t see my face, only my boobs!!!
4. NLE – Did Donny and Marie have one ounce of cool? How about Ed Sullivan?
ABW – Donny and Marie just came across as typical young people. They were nice. I basically did my numbers with their younger brother Jimmy. I was put in these crazy costumes where I really couldn’t see anything, because I was working with Sid and Marty Croft who were puppeteers, and not exactly concerned about real eyes. How I did those dance numbers I will never know! I would watch myself as it aired and just shake my head and say “not so good Andrea, not so good.” But it was a paycheck! I did quite a few gigs warming up the audience on the Ed Sullivan Show with a band called Your Father’s Mustache. It was fun. I usually sang the song “LOVE.” I also sang “Mother” while doing crazy contortions, and “Baby Face” was another. Once I looked into the audience and saw Lucille Ball with her young son and daughter. I appeared on the live show once, but I never met Mr. Sullivan.
5. NLE – Favorite all-time gig ever?
ABW – My favorite theater role was playing Minnie Fay on tour and on Broadway in Hello, Dolly! as I believe it to be one of the best character roles written for a woman. My favorite all time experience in show business was the continuing musical relationship with the Marvelous Barry Levitt. We met at a Marilyn Maye workshop three years ago and it was pure musical heaven working with this mensch of a man. It’s like he played the piano with three hands. He would take my simple piece of sheet music and transform it into a miraculous masterpiece. He knew who I was as a performer and always patiently guided me away from some of my over-the-top ways. He knew each and everyone of his clients, or should I say extended family, in the same exact way. He is gone and no amount of tears or thinking of what might have been will bring him back. So I continue on my musical journey anew. I will never be able to replace him, and I’ve also learned in life when one door closes another opens. I know The Great Maestro Barry Levitt would demand I carry on and perform his beautiful arrangements.
6. NLE – What’s on your bucket list?