KT Sullivan returns to Kansas City -- and brings the Ladies of the Silver Screen with her.

Sullivan's Travels 

KT Sullivan returns to Kansas City -- and brings the Ladies of the Silver Screen with her.

The last time KT Sullivan was in Kansas City, she was taking elocution lessons and playing gin rummy eight times a week as Billie Dawn in Missouri Repertory Theatre's 1990 production of Born Yesterday. "It was a dream come true," she says. "I had always wanted to play that part and probably never will again." She didn't mind giving up her role in Broadway's Three Penny Opera a month early.

She's now taking time off from her off-Broadway Gershwin salute, American Rhapsody, to fill the Carlsen Center with songs from vintage Hollywood musicals, called A Tribute to Ladies of the Silver Screen.

Part of Sullivan's agenda is to keep alive the gilded personae of such dead musical icons as Ginger Rogers, Jeanette MacDonald and Bette Davis. Sullivan's version of Davis' rare musical number "You're Either Too Young or Too Old," is said to be uncanny, but Sullivan points out that she's not a female female impersonator.

"It is a tribute. I don't ever lose a sense of myself," she says, adding, however, that MacDonald's voice is closest to her own. "I talk about the films -- a little trivia, who did the dubbing for whom -- and hope the songs ring a bell and bring back a memory."

She'll sing Doris Day's "Ten Cents a Dance" from the dark biography of Ruth Etting, Love Me or Leave Me; Marlene Dietrich's "The Boys in the Back Room"; and Betty Grable's "Cuddle Up a Little Closer." Although the latest date from which the show samples is 1957, Sullivan says she's not averse to dipping into the contemporary canon.

"I don't listen to rock, really," she says, "but if I'm driving anywhere, I find the country station. Like the classic songs I'll do in the show, they tell such great stories."

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