"Cabaret is near and dear to my heart"
Written by: Mark Edward Wilows
"An entertainer that loves to entertain," is how Eileen Fulton, who plays Lisa Grimaldi on As The World Turns, describes herself.
'You know I really am. I love the draw of the audience. I like pulling them in, and they pull me in,' Fulton said from her hotel suite in Chicago. 'It's just being on stage and performing. That's what I live for. It's also making contact with people. It's the sharing and giving. It's a circle.'
When Fulton is not playing the glamorous Lisa on As The World Turns, a role she has savored for 46 years, you will find her performing regularly in New York and on the road.
Fulton was recently in Chicago for The Mabel Mercer Foundation, bringing entertainers together for a Chicago Cabaret Convention, which was held at the Palmer House Hilton. The sold out black tie affair was held in the world famous Empire Room, where booth one once belonged to Hollywood giants like Marylyn Monroe.
Created in 1985 as a not-for-profit arts organization, The Mabel Mercer Foundation serves to both perpetuate the memory and spirit of its legendary namesake and to stimulate and promote public interest in the fragile and endangered world of cabaret.
'I have to tell you....cabaret is near and dear to my heart. It is a form of entertainment that people love and I love,' Fulton said. 'I'm so happy to be a part of this, and see people become involved. Also, I'm overjoyed to be singing in the Empire Room and Chicago. My last visit here was 30 years ago when I sang at the Playboy Club.'
When Fulton walked out on stage in her dazzling gown the audience took a heap of breath. Singing a Sondheim medley consisting of A Good Thing Going and Send in the Clowns, she also had the audience in a spell with Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.
Longtime Fulton fan and fan of As The World Turns, Mary Blonker traveled from Madison Wisconsin on the dreary raining evening just to see her favorite star.
'I was at home cooking and over the radio I heard that Lisa from As The World Turns was coming to Chicago. I dropped everything,' Blonker said. 'I called the radio station to get the lowdown and here I am.'
Soapdom wants to know was it worth it? 'Dare you ask! She is just as lovely and gracious as one would expect. And can she sing,' Blonker added. 'She's a vision of loveliness. I can't believe how beautiful she is.'
As a reporter I usually don't put in my two cents, but I have to agree with Blonker. Sitting with Fulton in her hotel suite, her beauty is not only flawless, but she is a person of enormous strength and character.
I met Fulton in the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton. She had to come get me because she was on a private floor that I would not have access to. We went up to the room only to find out that she couldn't get into her room. The key card was demagnetized. Was Fulton ticked? Oh yea! For a moment I saw a side of Lisa!
We went back to the desk on the floor. The concierge informed Fulton that she demagnetized the card because of something in her purse. Fulton apologized, and the gal said, 'you look familiar.' Fulton responded 'I'm on TV. And I hate these xxx cards.' It just was a moment that you would of had to be there to understand.
Fulton became involved with the Mabel Mercer Foundation after being personally invited to come to Chicago by Donald Smith, executive director of the foundation.
'I have been blessed to hear Mablel Mercer sing many years ago. Let's just say, I was taken,' Fulton said. 'Mr. Smith came to hear me sing, and I was invited. I'm so touched.'
Donald Smith said that upon hearing Fulton sing he was taken by surprise. 'I had no idea that she can sing so well. She's very good,' he said. 'That's how we operate looking for talent, and talent Eileen has it.'
Fulton has been singing since childhood. Her father was a Methodist preacher. She sang in the church choir in her hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. Singing just came naturally, and she grew to find a profound love of it. She went on to college majoring in music, and as they say, the rest is history.
She has established a musical scholarship in her late father's name at Brevard College in North Carolina and a fine arts scholarship in her and her mother's names at their alma mater, Greensboro College.
Fulton, along with her longtime arranger Bob Goldstone, studies every song in detail, and she picks her own music.
'Oh absolutely. I do research, study and go over everything to a tee,' Fulton said. 'It's not...
...just about singing, but about singing something with a meaning.'
Fulton admitted that she'd never quit her day job (ATWT), but does enjoy the presence of people and going out saying that she will go sing anywhere as long as there is an audience.
On As The World Turns, she said that she has the national audience which is a big help of bringing people to come out and see her when she performs in person.
Fulton originated the flamboyant role of Lisa and was named Best Actress in 1970 by Daytime TV magazine's reader's poll, and she remained in the top ten of this category for 58 of the first 80 issues.
In 1991, she was recognized with Soap Operas Digest Editor's Award. She was inducted by Soap Opera Weekly into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame, and in 2004, she was honored at the Emmy's with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Fulton also has appeared on and off Broadway and has done several movies. She is a prolific writer who has co-authored two autobiographies, and has written six murder mysteries.
Soapdom need to know, how do you do it? 'Like I said, I love what I do. I have no intentions of stopping. I have goals to do more Broadway and movies,' Fulton said. 'I'm not a believer in never saying never.'
Fulton is always up to the challenge of whatever comes her way, including storyline on As The World Turns. Her ultimate -- story if she got to write the script -- would be to become involved with several crooks, saying that she'd love to see how Lisa would handle it. If not, she'd settle for putting on a robe and slippers, and let it all down.
She loves her current story of being involved with the kids. 'I do. I think Zach Roerig (Casey), Jesse Soffer (Will), Jennifer Landon (Gwen), and Alexandra Chando (Maddie), are remarkable. They're so talented,' Fulton gushed. 'You know...around the set I'm known as Miss Eileen by the young crowd.'
Fulton has seen it all in the soap world. She said that soap's today don't have the audience of yesterday. When she began, Irna Phillips, creator of As The World Turns, became involved in the characters. It was real. People would actually borrow a cup of sugar. Adding that she is so glad that now Executive Producer Chris Goutman is trying to bring back those realistic stories and doing an excellent job.
Away from the biz, Fulton lives in a gorgeous fashionable New York apartment over looking Central Park. She has, as she described, an 'excellent housekeeper,' but she enjoys spending time in the kitchen and cooking anything Italian. Then, there are those parties!
'Oh you have that right! I have parade parties because I see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade out my window,' Fulton laughed. 'I'm like in the movie 'Miracle on 34th St'. But I enjoy celebrating a lot of things. I'm a party person.'
Fulton adores spending time with her three pooches, Geraldine Page, Ella Fitzgerald, and Rosemary Clooney. She refers to them as 'my babies.'
Fulton enjoys socializing with her As The World Turns co-stars, and would love to do more if she could find more time. She recalled a time when there was an ice storm and she invited Colleen Zenk-Pinter (Barbara) to stay over and spend the night. It was just a girls night out.
'Was it ever. We had a little pajama party. It was wonderful,' Fulton said.'
Fulton attributes her great looks from good genes from her mom. She enjoys taking care of herself, but said forget about the gym.
'I have a physical trainer. A handsome man. I work out once or twice a week. It's more about keeping up my strength.'
She would love to paint and draw in her spare time. She said that she has the acrylics, crayons, and brushes, but only needs to get them out of the closet.
Saturday, March 25 and April 1, 2006
The Hideaway Room at Helen's
169 Eighth Avenue (between 18th & 19th)
New York City
Reservations: 212.206-0609 (After 4:00 pm)
SHOWTIME: 7:00 P.M.
$20.00 Entertainment Charge plus 2-Drink Minimum
($10.00 Entertainment Charge for MAC and Cabaret Hotline Online members)
For additional information visit: www.helensnyc.com
Friday, July 14, 2006
"Standing Room Only Cabaret" at the Wadsworth Museum of Art
600 Main Street
Reservations: (888)239-9992 or ticketweb.com
Tickets: 22.50 - $50.00
For additional information visit: www.michelentertainment.com
Friday and Saturday August 11 and 12, 2006
274 South River Road (Route 32)
New Hope, Pennsylvania
Reservations: (215) 862-3000 (After 4:00 pm)
SHOWTIME: 8:00 P.M.
$22.50 Entertainment Charge/Food & Drink Minimum $10.00 additional
For additional information visit: www.odettes.com
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