Aug. 29--One reason the members of the Girls Singers have success, their leader says, is because the audience gets to know them.
The Girl Singers are making a fourth visit to Aberdeen next week, when Colleen Raye brings two other singers to the Capitol Theatre for "Broadway's Best."
"We're very natural when we're onstage," Raye said in a phone interview, explaining she tells the singers to be themselves. "I want people to feel like, if we step offstage, they know us from our performance."
Raye, who lives near Ellsworth, Wis., spent 18 years performing in lounges with her husband and, sometimes, their children. During those shows, the entertainers are in a room with 100, 200 or 300 people "and you're connecting personally with every one." She tries to bring that connection to the Girl Singers shows.
"We're all one big happy family in that room. Everybody's involved," she said.
"Broadway's Best" is the Girl Singers' newest show. Its world premiere will be at Capitol Theatre.
Raye and her cohorts weren't planning on doing the show until October. But in a phone call with Aberdeen Community Theatre's Jim Walker, he asked what she thought about bringing the show to Aberdeen in September.
Raye responded, "Heck, yeah."
That's the reason Raye, Debbie O'Keefe and Katie Gearty will be singing the music of Broadway beginning Wednesday in Aberdeen.
During the evening, the ladies will sing music from "Phantom of the Opera," "Les Miserables" and "West Side Story." They're also singing fun songs, she noted, such as "Little Shop of Horrors" and "My Fair Lady."
"We're doing 'Steam Heat' from 'Pajama Game,' " she said.
The show opens with "Be Our Guest."
"Only I did different words to it to apply to our show. Some of them are a little funny, I think," she said. "We don't know. We've never done this before."
Raye, O'Keefe -- who is her sister -- and Gearty brought another Girl Singers show, "Sirens of the '60s," to the Capitol in 2012.
Raye and O'Keefe also were involved in two Girls Singers shows at the Capitol in 2009 -- "Girl Singers of the Hit Parade" and a Christmas show.
People who've seen the previous Girl Singers shows "know that we bring entertainment," Raye said. The new revue is "a fun show like the rest of them are. But this one, I believe, takes it up a notch. The music is more demanding and it's just more varied, too."
It's different from singing music of the 1960s or '50s because the performer must carry more emotional content, she said.
"You can't sing 'Phantom of the Opera' music without having your heart and soul in it," she said, noting each performance must bring a little character and the feel of the show its from. But imitation is not part of the repetoire.
"We're doing it our own way. But you want people to understand the story of the lyric even more so when you're doing something from a Broadway show."
The singers have recorded a CD of the "Broadway's Best" music, which will be on sale at the show.
Raye is a little nervous how the audience will react.
"I've done this so many times and I've been in this business for 40 years," she said. "I have a really good sense of what's going to work. But you don't know exactly how it's going to work until you do it with the people. Then you fine-tune it."
A musical career
Raye, 61, is doing music full-time. She's involved in six shows -- four with the Girl Singers and two of her own.
"And that doesn't include the family show that we do at fairs and then the smaller things that I do," she said.
She and a jazz pianist perform a cabaret show, which will tour this fall on a schedule put together by Allied Concert Services. Raye also performs the music of Patsy Cline.
This will be Raye's fifth time performing at the Capitol Theatre. In 2008, she was a singer in a show that presented the music of Nat King Cole.
At the Capitol, the singers will be backed by three musicians, including musical director Norton Lawellin, a frequent collaborator with the Girl Singers, who will play keyboards. The other two are Lars Johnson, drummer, and Doug Rohde, who plays keyboards and keyboard bass.
Follow @JeffBahr_AAN on Twitter.
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