This week we talk to the amazing Julia Murney, who is currently starring as Elphaba in the hit Broadway musical, Wicked. We also listen to two songs from her CD, I'm Not Waiting: The title track, "I'm Not Waiting" by Andrew Lippa, and "Perfect" by Tom Kitt.
Julia Murney previously appeared on Broadway in Lennon. She starred as "Queenie" in Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party at Manhattan Theatre Club. At MTC, she also appeared in Time and Again, and A Class Act. Other credits include The Vagina Monologues, Crimes of the Heart, and First Lady Suite. On TV, she's appeared on all three "Law & Orders", "Ed," and she enjoyed some raw food on "Sex and the City." Julia is also one of the most charitable people around, having lent her fabulous voice for many the benefit concert, including the Actors' Fund benefit performance of Hair.
Her first CD, "I'm Not Waiting" is available from Sh-K-Boom or Amazon .
Broadway Bullet Interview: Julia Murney
Broadway Bullet: The Muppets used to say: "It's not easy being green."
Julia Murney: Yes.
BB: And with eight shows a week, I would think Julia Murney might attest to that statement being true.
JM: It is true. It is the truth. (laughter)
BB: Julia Murney is currently appearing on Broadway [in Wicked] as Elphaba. (pronounces it El - faah - buh)
JM: It's El – phuh – buh.
BB: Oh, okay.
JM: It's okay. I thought it was pronounced El – faah – ba when I read the novel ten years ago, but actually it's El – fuh – ba. And it's taken from the author of The Wizard of Oz books, L Frank Baum: El [from the L]– Pha [from the F in Frank] – Ba [from Baum].
BB: That's right.
JM: How do you like that little piece of information? (laughter) Oh, sure I'm filled with all kinds -- What you want to know about John Lennon? I got it, I got it.
BB: Besides that, you've got this fabulous new solo CD, "I'm Not Waiting".
JM: It's true, it's true.
BB: So you got a lot going on.
JM: I guess. (laughts) Yeah! I'm too tired to notice. But I recorded [the CD] right before I went on the road with Wicked. And it came out, I think -- last May, was when we finally got it finished.
BB: You worked with a lot of different composers on here.
JM: Yeah, well, I didn't really work with a lot of -- Yes, Joni Mitchell and I, old friends. (laughter)
BB: Well, did you work with Andrew Lippa?
JM: Yes, he produced it.
BB: He produced it, so that's good.
JM: He wrote the song, "I'm Not Waiting" for me. So, hence, [his song] got the title of the whole CD.
BB: Who are some of your favorite composers?
JM: Well, I am very partial to Mister Andrew Lippa -- you mean of the new guys?
BB: The new -- of the new crop out there.
JM: I'd have to honestly say I feel so blessed that I've gotten to work in some capacity with so many of them, that -- and they're all so different, and they're all so ridiculously talented, you can't even pick one. It's like, to me -- I was talking about the Tony Awards the other day, and how do you say Mary Poppins is better than Curtains is better than Grey Gardens is better than Spring Awakening. They're four, so totally different pieces, and like all those composers, between Michael John LaChusia and Jason Robert Brown and Andrew Lippa --
BB: Everybody loves a contest.
JM: I don't like a contest. -- It's so thrilling to get to be in a room with someone who's written the song, and they're sitting there, playing it, and you get to put your spin on it. And that's as opposed to: you're learning a song that Mary Martin sang on the original cast album, which is great as well, but it's just such a different -- it's such an honor to get to do [the former]. It really is, and [the composers] have all been wonderfully kind to me, and I love singing all of their songs.
BB: Now, is there a theme you're going for, putting all this together? Because you have some great choices. You blend "A Thousand Beautiful Things," an Annie Lennox song that I love, with "Beautiful Day", from U2.
JM: That was my random idea that I came up with one day. And I went to Tom Kitt, who music-directed half of the album. And we were doing a solo show, and I said: "Okay Tom, If I wanna put these two songs together, will you make them go?" I said, "I want this part to land here, and this part to land there," and then he made it be so.
BB: It worked great; it was a total surprise because I actually wasn't looking at the CD when I was listening; you know, it was on my iPod, and I go: "Oh, 'A Thousand Beautiful Things,' Annie Lennox song. Love this, love this." Then, all of a sudden it started kicking into "Beautiful Day," and I'm going: "Oh, this is very cool."
JM: Yay! I'm so glad you like it. It took me a number of days to actually approach Tom Kitt with the idea, because I came up with the idea, and I was like: "No, that's stupid, forget it." Then I went: "Well, let me just ask him." And it was fine. It's funny, I've had a number of children of friends of mine -- and my friends have the CD -- it's their kids' favorite [song on the CD]. They love The "Beautiful Day" song. I don't know, maybe it's because they can hop around to it, I'm not really sure. But yeah, there was not really much by way of a theme. I was, at one point, going to call the album: "Stuff I Like to Sing" (laughter) There wasn't like -- I didn't want to make a theatre song album, necessarily, because I sort of based this on the solo shows that I've done, which are not -- they have some theatre songs, certainly, in them, but a bunch of these other songs as well. So I just thought: Well, you know what, it's a vanity project; I'm doing it myself, I might as well just record what I want to record. And the one thing that Kurt Deutsch -- who's the head of Sh-K-Boom Records, who I went to college with -- said to me was: "You have to do a song from Wicked," because I was about to go on the road. I was like: "But…" he said: You have to; it's the hook." So I said that I don't want to sing any of the big, histrionic, singing songs: a) because I didn't have an orchestra, and b) because I just felt that out of context they -- I didn't know how to play them in my head. So, "Not That Girl" was sort of the one, I thought: Let's take that out, and Stephen Oremus, who is an old friend and the music supervisor for Wicked, kind of rearranged it, and gave it a little -- I don't know what, kind of -- esque spin, something spin.
BB: I think we should let our listeners hear a song from this.
JM: You go right ahead.
BB: My personal favorite off the album, I thought it was very fresh and innovative: "I'm Not Waiting", the song you said was written right for you.
JM: Andrew Lippa, yes. There's nothing cooler than having a composer go: "I wrote this for you." "You did? Cool!" That's nice.
Listen to "I'm Not Waiting" on Broadway Bullet Vol 119