09 March 2015

Yep, Still Got It! "In my shows, the songs come first."


This week on drama on the waterfront, Jane Keller, the star of Yep, Still Got It!, delves deep into her creative process and her long working relationship with Michael Nicholas Williams.

Jane Keller, star of Yep, Still Got It!
Q:  Yep, Still Got It! It’s a wonderful title where did it come from?
JK:  Years ago, probably 10 years or so, I saw a greeting card with a flamboyant old lady on the cover.  She had grey hair and she was very round.  She was wearing black fishnet stockings and a purple feather boa. She had stylish black glasses and very red lipstick.  The caption inside the cover was "Yep, Still Got It!".  I thought that would be a fabulous title for a show.

Q:  Where did you get the idea for this show and how much change has there been since its original concept?

JK:  This show has completely changed from its original concept.  I had intended on making a show about aging.  I wanted to explore how some people embrace aging and others completely fight it. I did lots of research and started looking for appropriate songs.  As Sandy Brewer and I started writing and as Michael Nicholas Williams and I started looking at songs, the show moved in a new direction.  I decided that I wanted to embrace my life at 63.  I will make a show about aging, just not yet.

Q:  Does the script come first or the songs?

JK:  In my shows, the songs come first.  I find songs that I want to sing – some of which I know will work into the concept of the show.  Other songs I make to fit by writing appropriate linking dialogue.

Q:  There are about twenty songs in the show - how did you choose which to use?

JK:  We must have looked at over 50 songs.  We chose our favourites and the ones that really tell a story.

Q:  There are quite a few unknown songs – how did you source these?

JK:  I have the reputation of having unknown songs in my show. I look far and wide for these songs. I listen to CDs, look through my vast library of music, and spend hours searching on YouTube. I have written to composers, and gone onto artist's websites to get these songs.

Jane Keller mid-song in Yep, Still Got It!
Q:  Working once again with Michael Nicholas Williams must bring a familiarity and ease especially during the performance.

JK:  Michael and I are a great team. He is so instrumental in the early stages of putting the show together.  He is very good at making cuts in songs as well as linking songs together in medleys. He is very funny and comes up with many great concepts for our shows. He plays beautifully and I know here is always there for me in performance. If I make a mistake, he goes with me.                                  
Q:  This is your fourth solo show – was it is easier or harder to develop?

JK:  This is our fourth show together. It was easier to develop. Michael and I know how each other works.  We have a good track record.

Q:  A favourite song in the show?

JK:  The songs are mostly funny in the show.  There is a medley of four songs in the second half that is serious.  There is no dialogue - the story is told through these four songs.  That is my favourite part of the show.  I love it when someone is so touched by a song that they tear up.

Q:  You are originally from Ohio, USA – how long have you been here and have you returned to the USA to work?

JK:  I have been in NZ almost 27 years.  When I was first here, I went back to Columbus every year to sing with Columbus Light Opera. We were a professional Gilbert & Sullivan company.  I premiered by first show BIGGER IS BETTER in Columbus four days after 9/11.  I have also done DO I HAVE TO GET NAKED? in the US.

Q:  And your next project – any plans?

JK:  I know I will do a show about ageing, but I'm not sure when.  I want to keep honing and perfecting this show.  Then I want to perform it all around NZ and anywhere else that will have me.

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