For the past twenty years, actress/singer Lainie Kazan has found a niche in playing the empathetic and at times overbearing Jewish mother on film and television, such as her portrayal of the mother of Bette Midler’s character in the film “Beaches.” Prior to portraying her many Jewish mother roles, her career in show business began as a singer.
Kazan will showcase her music in concert Jan. 31 at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts.
“There is a lot more to me than being a Jewish, Greek or Italian mother on screen or television, so I am looking forward to doing a live concert again,” said the 74-year-old who resides in Los Angeles.
“I am looking forward to singing the standard songs I grew up with when lyrics were more essential to singing than they may be today. I will be singing ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ and many of the songs from the musical theater that are timeless.”
Kazan has poignant memories of many South Florida concerts she performed at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood and the Colony Theater in Miami Beach thirty years ago.
“I remember the days when the hotels in Miami Beach used to feature singers and comedians in glamorous shows of a bygone era. I am glad to have been part of the history of that era and look forward to recreating the magic of the music again in my upcoming concert.”
In addition to her concert, Kazan will also be performing in the comedy “Celebrity Autobiography” through Feb. 1 at Kravis Center, reading excerpts from the autobiographies of Beyonce, Elizabeth Taylor and Ethel Merman that provoke humor.
“Lainie is a wonderful actress and her readings from the books of Liz (Taylor) and Beyonce will leave the audience laughing because her delivery and voice patterns of the celebrities reveal so much of their vulnerability,” said co-star Eugene Pack, who also wrote the comedy.
Born in Brooklyn as Lainie Levine, she loved music and was encouraged by her late mother Carole, whom Kazan describes as “the ultimate overbearing mother, who was artistic and neurotic.”
Kazan received her big break in show business being an understudy to Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl” when she received rave reviews as a substitute for an ailing Streisand for one performance of the musical.
She has gone on to star for the next 50 years as both actress and singer in concert halls, on the Broadway stage and in film and television. Kazan was nominated for the 1994 Tony Award as the Jewish mother in the musical “My Favorite Year” and continued to win commercial success on film in memorable roles as a Jewish mother and other ethnic relatives in 47 Hollywood feature films and five sitcom television series.
Her memorable roles include playing the Greek mother in the film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” the Jewish aunt on the television comedy series “The Nanny,” the Jewish grandmother in the television series “Beverly Hills 90210” and the Jewish mother in the film “Oy Vey, My Son is Gay.”
“The common denominator in all the Jewish and ethnic roles is that the characters all had heart and were expressing feelings about their children and grandchildren in scenes that moved the story,” said Kazan.
The Jan. 31 concert is at 7:30 p.m. at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Dr. in Coral Springs. For tickets, call 954-344-5999 or go to http://www.coralspringscenterforthearts.com.
For more information on Kazan in “Celebrity Autobiography” now through-Feb. 1 at Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach, call 561-832-7464 or go to http://www.kravis.org
Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel