Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.
Karen Morrow is perhaps best known as “one of the most flop-prone performers of recent musical-theatre history,” (according to Ken Mandelbaum), having appeared in I Had A Ball, The Grass Harp, I’m Solomon, A Joyful Noise, and The Selling of the President on Broadway. Since then, she has gone on to success as a television star and cabaret performer. Additionally, Karen is a great teacher of performance, currently on the faculty of UCLA’s Musical Theatre program. Karen Morrow appears on the Fynsworth Alley CDs A Hollywood Christmas, Lost in Boston IV, and The Grass Harp.
DL: How did you get your start in show business?
KM: I went to Milwaukee when I graduated from college to teach school. I had five roommates because I was poor – they certainly didn’t pay much to teach school. I would brag all the time about how I could sing and how I had played all the leads in school. There was an audition at the Equity theatre in town for Brigadoon, so my roommates said, “Okay, smarty, if you’re so good, go over there and audition.” I went “Oh my God…” and went over there an auditioned and got the job! I was in the chorus at the Fred Miller theatre in Milwaukee. Then right from there, I did just about everything in town there was to do. There was a revue in a restaurant called “Highlights of Musical Comedy,” and I was in the original group for that. Then I starred in the big show in Milwaukee with the symphony, and then I went to New York and that was it.
DL: So you gave up teaching?
KM: Oh gosh yes! It was grade school – I didn’t have a clue what I was doing! It was just something to make a living. As I do in my act, there’s a whole song Billy Barnes wrote for me… I have this voice and I didn’t know what to do with it. It never occurred to me that I might be able to earn a living using my voice. And suddenly, there I was earning a living. Continue reading