Photo Credit: David Ballard 2018

Richard Skipper Celebrates…
Sally Darling

Happy Monday!
I hope the last seven days have been productive to you and that you have made a point of attending at least ONE Live show this past week. I’m looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead for the next seven days. I’m thrilled to report that Josephine Sanges, the subject of last week’s Celebration had a very successful night at The Beach Cafe on Saturday night. At her request, this week we are celebrating Sally Darling. I am a huge fan of Sally’s and therefore this is a no brainer.


Sally Darling is a 2016 MAC Hanson Award winner, a 2017 Bistro Award winner and a multiple MAC Award nominee. Along with Music Director Matthew Martin Ward at the piano, she brings her latest cabaret show, Sally Darling Sings Beatrice Lillie, to Winter Rhythms. According to Darling, “The show is about the songs Bea Lillie has done, with one she WOULD have done––brilliantly. Lady Peel, as her friends called her, was called ‘the funniest woman in the world,’ and Noël Coward said she was ‘one of the greatest stars of light entertainment the world has ever known.’ Lillie entertained on radio and in television as well as theaters, movie houses, vaudeville palaces and supper clubs in her 50-year career.

Today, I am proud to celebrate Sally Darling!
Sally’s background in theater and related areas is rich and varied: actress, director, coach, narrator, cabaret performer. Her first professional role as an actress was Anna in The King and I with Leonard Graves. (As Yul Brynner’s understudy, he played the King over a thousand times on Broadway.) She has since performed with Barry Manilow, James MacArthur, David Carradine, Katharine Houghton, Sarah Rice, Hal Linden…… She has staged operas, narrated with symphony orchestras, and directed everything from Thurber to Shakespeare. In the 70s she created and staged three revues of the music of Noel Coward and Cole Porter, then created a fourth for the Theater Guild which she tailored for Patricia Morison, Larry Kert, Dick Shawn and Tony Tanner. As a narrator for The Talking Book program of The Library of Congress and for Recorded Books, Sally has over 250 fiction and non-fiction books on tape, including “To Kill a Mockingbird” for Recorded Books, for which she was chosen over more than 100 applicants. She has won awards for her compelling voice and her unmatched interpretive skills.
In 2005 she collaborated with the late Paul Trueblood on a cabaret program, “Noel and Cole”. Since then she has created eleven completely new shows, four more with Paul and now seven (and counting!) with Matthew Martin Ward, with whom she’s found not only a bond but a strong rapport. Paul started her on the cabaret path; Matthew has taken her ever further. To both she is forever grateful.

In a review of her 2013 Christmas performance of “The Way We Are” at Don’t Tell Mama, Bistro Awards wrote of Sally, “Imagine finding a vintage 78 rpm record in a thrift store, taking it home and discovering it to be remarkably free of hissing sounds, crackling noises or skips. That may help to explain what you get with Sally Darling. You don’t often hear a sound like hers these days, but it’s as welcome as the sharp whiff of hyacinth on a cold winter’s day. Though especially suited for classic melodies by Rodgers and Hart, Noel Coward, and Cole Porter, Darling’s shimmering tinsel sound works equally well on songs associated with the likes of Patsy Cline and Toni Tenille.”

TheaterScene described her remarkable ability this way: “She made the lyrics come alive with her great interpretive skills.”

“A worthy interpreter of ‘sophisticated songwriting'” – Marilyn Lester, nitelifeexchange

“Lyrics are delivered with crystalline clarity and light emphasis, she has that rare gift to deliver words to the audience as if they have just occurred to her.” – Bart Greenberg, Cabaret Scenes

‘She’s a wonderful interpreter of song.” – Michael Barbieri, nitelifeexchange

Specific to the Bea Lillie show:

“Sally Darling’s depiction of the Beatrice Lillie oeuvre was outstanding.” – Myra Chanin, TheatrePizzazz

“Bea Lillie is in good hands with Sally Darling, who captured the essence of her subject to the proverbial”T”. – Marilyn Lester, nitelifeexchange

“A perfect match of performer and material. HUGE joy from start to finish.” – Jeff Harnar

When did you realize that you wanted to be a performer and when was the first time you sang and or acted in front of an audience?
I didn’t realize, I just was! I was always singing, always dramatic. My first appearance in front of an audience was in grammar school, lo, these many years ago.

Which is the most memorable experience you’ve had in your singing/acting career?
Playing ‘Anna’ in “The King and I” opposite Leonard Graves (Yul Brynner’s understudy) on three days notice!

Take us back a little bit. How did you get involved in your chosen profession; was there a mentor that inspired you the most?
No mentor. I just got on stage and learned through my mistakes, often big and embarrassing! The people I admired were all character actors like Luis Van Rooten and Agnes Morehead.

What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received and from whom?
A drama teacher told my mother, “ Save your acting for the stage.”!

Have you had any funny or memorable moments on stage?
Oh, yes, many – some embarrassing, some rewarding, all teaching moments.

Where Have You Lived?
I’ve lived in Virginia, Los Angeles (record librarian for KABC), NYC, Toronto and points north. Home now is definitely NYC!

With regard to future shows, how many others do you already have in mind? What are the ways you go about sourcing material for your projects/shows?
One definite one that I’m developing, and one possible …….As to sourcing, if it’s a show about a particular person, such as Bea Lillie, I find out everything I can about the person’s life, looking especially for direct quotes from him/her that I can use. For songs in general, every time I hear a song that appeals to me I make a note of it.

What do you do in your spare time?

When did you realize you had a gift for singing and what were your early influences?
I’ve always sung; it’s just part of who I am. I sing along with everything from Bluegrass to opera.

What was the feeling like the first time you went on stage?
Scary and exciting and welcoming!

What do you do to keep fit?
To keep fit, I work with a trainer three times a week.

Don’t Tell Mama is your home base. How did your first show there come about? Were you nervous? Did you think you really had a chance?
I had performed in a couple of venues and then Sidney Myer welcomed me to Don’t Tell Mama. I’m always nervous before a show, but it’s the good “let’s get ready” kind of nerves. And I wouldn’t go on if I doubted I “had a chance”!

How long do you see yourself performing? Do you have a planned retirement age?
I’ll perform as long as I’m able! Definitely no retirement plan.

Tell us about your career up to this point
In some ways the most challenging part of my acting career was the 250+ books I narrated. I also did quite a lot of film dubbing, which I loved, and worked with several people whom I had admired enormously.

To continue following Sally, please visit her website HERE

A Few Testimonials
-Larry Myers

Sally Darling’s shows are a delight and, for me, show what the best of cabaret is all about. Through her passion for Noel Coward and Bea Lillie (the two of her shows I’ve seen), Sally has used her unique gifts to further my appreciation of these legendary artists. Frankly, I can’t think of anyone who would even think to do a Bea Lillie show, let alone do it so brilliantly and thoughtfully. It’s a perfect match of performer and content. She picks her subjects well and through them, Sally’s talents are highlighted so that she’s not overshadowed by the material. And most importantly, they are just plain entertaining and fun.
-Jeff Macauley

Eighteen months ago I had the pleasure of working with Sally on a show which was titled TOGETHER. It was my idea to bring together the five MAC nominees for best female vocalist from 2017. The title was Sally’s. During that time I was moved by her unbridled enthusiasm and willingness to take on new challenges. In a way, she became the center of our group; always collaborative, never competitive. Sally brings a real sense of dignity and integrity to all she does, you always feel that’s she’s given you a standard to measure up to. For that, I will always be a devoted fan!
-Josephine Sanges

Being in a “Sally Darling Audience” is as if you are spending time with that really talented friend – who is witty, musical and maybe even slightly so suggestive with multiple double entendre . An evening of pure joy awaits and an education which one learns from experiencing Sally, without the “lecture” approach. The material for her shows is always thoughtfully researched and masterfully presented.
-Russ Woolley

Hello my dahling Doris Dear, how is your handsome husband Mr. Darling doing?” … that’s
always what I hear across the room from that absolute dear of a cabaret gift, the one and only
Sally Darling! With her signature short white hair and a scarf around her neck, Sally gives us old
school Hollywood presence unlike anyone else I know. She holds your hand and wants to know
how you are, not tell you about herself. Sally cares.
Then she walks out on stage, the spotlight hits her (ok, some clubs don’t have a spotlight! LOL)
and suddenly Ms. Darling transforms and takes us on a journey. She embodies what I love
about cabaret. She brings us a deep understanding of her subject, whether it be Noel Coward or
Beatrice Lilly, Sally is all of it. Her shows are love letters. As you sit there for the 60 or so
minutes, you are taught and transported to another time or another place. She is our own
“curator of style”. I simply can’t get enough of Sally Darling!
Hugs and love
Doris Dear

I’ve had the joy of seeing Sally Darling perform at The Salon many times, usually performing with her MD Matthew Martin Ward at the piano and often on vocals. Sally is effervescence and wit combined, a wonderful interpreter of lyrics who brings songs heavy on intelligent storytelling to life. Her Noel Coward and Beatrice Lillie numbers and shows throughout the years are particularly fun and uplifting, and harken us back to a time when razor thinking skills and tongue planted firmly in cheek was all the rage. And she’s always supportive and lovely in person, off stage! -Sierra Rein

Till Next Week…Go out and do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return! Treat them to a LIVE show!

Richard Skipper