News Column

Broadway star returns home to Columbus, will perform for the first time in more than 30 years

September 5, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 05--Who would have guessed that young Vicki Morales would become a Broadway and television daytime drama star?

She and former Broadway co-star Kurt Peterson will perform Saturday in the Bill Heard Theatre of the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts for the first time in about 35 years in "When Everything Was Possible -- A Concert (With Comments)."

Morales, who changed her name to Mallory, will be in Columbus this week.

They will perform during a private party on Thursday and then open the 2013-2014 season of RiverCenter.

There were people in Columbus who knew that she would become a star.

One of them was Raymond Campbell, a frequent performer at the Springer Opera House. Campbell was her freshman English teacher at Baker High School. Mallory was then simply Vicki Morales, an Army "brat."

"She was a lovely person," Campbell said. "She was a beautiful and talented girl; very smart, very amiable and sweet. She was so talented. She could play the piano, she sang beautifully and could dance en pointe. And she was a very good student on top of that."

"We did 'The Fantasticks'" together, Mallory said of Campbell. "Charles Jones directed. We did it in the museum. Raymond played my father. I was 13. We did it again; it was brought back by popular demand."

The show that changed her life

"A Little Night Music," a musical about lives of several couples, based on an Ingmar Bergman film "Smiles of a Summer Night" made Mallory a big star.

She got one of her first big roles on Broadway and met her future husband, Mark Lambert.

"Mark played Heinrich and I was Luisa and our characters eloped at the end of the show," she said.

They didn't elope after the show ended its run in 1974. They waited a bit before marrying in 1975.

Then in 1997, their daughter, Ramona Mallory Lambert, who uses the name Ramona Mallory professionally, auditioned for the role of Luisa in the first Broadway revival of "A Little Night Music."

"She came home and said, 'Guess what? I have an audition for her (the role her mother originated),'" Mallory said.

All during the audition process, the producers did not know that Ramona was Mallory and Lambert's daughter.

"After she auditioned, they found out, and they flipped over her," Mallory said. "It was one of those fairy tale stories."

Mallory said opening night was "breathtaking."

"I cried through the whole thing," she said.

After her triumphs on Broadway in shows like "Follies" and the first revival of "West Side Story," Mallory moved to Los Angeles and began a run on "The Young and the Restless" as Leslie Brooks. She later had a recurring role on "Santa Barbara."

Mallory comes to Columbus often, but under the radar.

"I come into town to see my mother, of course," she said. Her mother, Ruby Morales, is a longtime Columbus Realtor. "When I come home, I rarely do anything but spend time with her. I do have a lot of wonderful old friends there in Columbus, but I try to spend as much time as possible with her."

Mallory does summer stock occasionally, and was last in Atlanta's Fox Theatre in 2012 in "The King and I."

Reuniting after many years

After about 35 years of not seeing each other, Mallory and Peterson reunited to collaborate on a Broadway show.

"This is one of those magical stories," she confided. "After 'A Little Night Music,' I left New York City to go to California to be with Mark. Mark and I married in 1975. I had not really seen Kurt (since both were in the first revival of "West Side Story")."

Then Ramona decided she wanted to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, where Mallory and Peterson went to school.

"I called him up (after 35 years)," Mallory said. "He had taken over Paul Gavert's vocal studio."

Gavert was a long-time vocal teacher in New York, teaching at AMDA, and later opening his own studio, "right across from Carnegie Hall."

Peterson started teaching there, and after Gavert's death, took over the studio.

"When Ramona wanted to go to New York City, I called him up and asked if 'I could bring her over to meet you,'" she said. "I brought her into the city and met him. I hadn't seen him in a long, long time. He took her under his wing. He got her hooked up in dance classes and found her a voice teacher. He just adored her. He treated her like his daughter. It was one of those beautiful, sweet things."

Peterson was producing shows, including a children's show that was going to go on tour.

"He gave her her first real professional job," Mallory said. "He took her under his wing and gave her work."

Let's put a show together

While he was working with her daughter, Mallory and Peterson began talking and emailing each other about creating a show.

"The more we were brainstorming this show, the show got put aside and a concert story became the more immediate thing," she said. "When you try to write a show, it takes time."

Finally, Peterson said, "Why don't we do a concert; a concert story."

"We started working on that," Mallory said. "It's a very unique piece. It was something easier to put up with two people."

It starts out with the two of them in their first day at AMDA, and getting cast in their first Broadway shows.

"It's about shows I did and shows he did," Mallory said. "It's not like a play. They're really mini-stories about what it's like coming to New York City as a young person with a dream. It goes forward to where we come back as friends on stage again.

"We're celebrating the joys and thrills of continuing to do what you love. We have both been blessed through song and through music. It's revealed where we are today.

"I cannot even describe it. It's just a joy to do. There are projections of pictures when we were young, working with the geniuses of our time. It's a tribute to Broadway. It's quite a beautiful piece."

Peterson wrote the "book" or the play's script, and he's the producer of the show.

"It touches me beyond words to be coming home to my birthplace (to do the show)," Mallory said. "I'm so excited."

After living in Los Angeles and Park City, Utah, for years, they moved to New York about eight years ago. They now live about an hour outside of the city.

"I go in and teach," said Mallory, now a vocal coach.

"We love it up here. We're close to the city, but not in the city. We have the best of two worlds. And I get to come home to perform in RiverCenter."

Related stories:

Local theaters kick off season

Uptown Columbus launches Foodie Festival, announces event schedule

Professional dancer returns to Columbus to teach

___

(c)2013 the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.)

Visit the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.) at www.ledger-enquirer.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.


For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Story Tools