A Conversation with Those Girls

| April 24, 2017

A Conversation with Those Girls

April 24, 2017

Those Girls (L-R) Karen Mack, Eve Eaton, Wendy A. Russell, Rachel Hanser
Photo: Ambe J. Photography

The harmonizing quartet Those Girls took home the 2017 MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets & Clubs) Award for Duo/Group this past March. Individually, they are Eve Eaton, Rachel Hanser, Karen Mack, and Wendy A. Russell, each with her own successful solo career. As a group, they meld their distinctive, individual voices into a cohesive sound reminiscent of girls groups from the past. They present their new show at NYC’s Laurie Beechman Theatre May 10 & 17 and June 4.

Cabaret Scenes: You’ve all had individual careers. How did you come together as a group?
Eve Eaton:  Two words: Arrangement Experience! We all had taken Lennie Watts’ class, which focuses on doing creative arrangements of songs around a particular theme. Part of the fun of the class is singing back-up on other people’s songs. And after a few experiences of doing that, we looked at each other and said, ‘We sound good together. Maybe we should do more of this!’ Those Girls was born!
Rachel Hanser: Lennie Watts’ Arrangement Experience workshop is where our ‘blendship’ began!
Wendy A. Russell: Every now and then someone would invariably say, ‘We should do something together!’ I think Karen got the ball rolling and the rest, for me, is musical bliss!

CS: How do you choose material?
Eve: We started out by taking music we had developed in the Arrangement Experience and expanding on it. It grew from there.
Karen Mack
: Anything’s fair game —except apparently “Sabbath Prayer,” which gets the bum’s rush every time it comes to the table….
Wendy: Sometimes a song is chosen because we know it’ll be a great group number, but mostly we choose songs we love. Although sometimes we have to convince others…or not…[cough “Man in the Mirror” cough].
Rachel: It’s a perfectly lovely song. But it was voted off the island! We like to have an eclectic mix of artists and styles. While we’re working on a song, it can morph into a mash-up with something else or it leads to an idea for an entirely different song. We’re always listening for new possibilities.
Karen: Also we love hearing what audience members might like us to take a swing at.

CS: Do you look for a theme to the evening?
Karen: Not so far. We all have different musical tastes as both singers and listeners, so we wanted the freedom to bring in any and all styles of music. So far, our audiences seem to really respond to the eclectic mix.
Eve: For this upcoming show there’s no specific theme beyond choosing music we love, but we’ve made a concerted effort to up our game with more intricate harmonies.

In performance at NYC’s Laurie Beechman Theatre (L-R) Wendy, Karen, Rachel, Eve
Photo: Libby Fox

CS: Girls groups have been a mainstay of entertainment for decades. Are you trying to evoke any of those past groups? If so, which ones?
Eve: From the Andrews Sisters to the Pointer Sisters to Heart, we’re definitely influenced by other girl groups.
Rachel: For example, we did a version of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” in the style of the Andrews Sisters. We are certainly grateful for those groups and what they have done for harmony singing.

CS: You are four distinct personalities. Although you each get your moments to shine, you are definitely a cohesive group. Did that dynamic come naturally?
Eve: We all bring different qualities to the table and have unique voices and personalities. However, we find that when we sing together, there’s a blend that comes very naturally.
Rachel: From the first time we sang together, we knew the blend among us was something special.
Karen: We’re a warm, balanced group of sporadically off-balance women—that’s a recipe for very good times. And Rachel is a super-easy scare at a movie theater. But you didn’t hear that from me.

CS: With your distinct personalities, which role has each of you taken on?
Wendy: I’d say that Eve is the voice of reason and style. Rachel is the organizer and task master —she calls herself the ‘sergeant of arms’! Karen handles the business — monkey and finance.
Eve: I would add that Wendy is extremely good at providing snacks we all enjoy during rehearsal, and she has a car which we take full advantage of. Karen is the master cookie-maker. Rachel keeps us all laughing, particularly if she misinterprets things Lennie says — “I said ‘cross right’ not ‘Christ like!’”
Rachel: Eve has a sharp wit and keeps us laughing on and off the stage. But don’t let these titles fool you—we go down some crazy roads when we’re together!

CS: You work with two of the best in the business: director Lennie Watts and Musical Director Steven Ray Watkins. Is this a collaborative process?
Eve: Absolutely. All of us are the better for having worked together and none of it would be possible without a true collaboration.
Wendy: I don’t think we could work any other way.
Rachel: We are very lucky to have Lennie and Steven on our team. They are incredibly talented and add so much to our performances.
Karen: They are fantastic to work with—open to any crazy thing we want to try. They push us to do more, to think bigger, to do better and be more creative. I like to think we bring some of that to them as well—we’re all always learning.

At the 2017 MAC Awards, where they won for Duo/Group: (L-R) Lennie Watts (director), Wendy, Eve, Rachel, Karen, Steven Ray Watkins (musical director)
Photo: Genevieve Rafter Keddy

CS: You’ve just won the 2017 MAC Award for Duo/Group. What was it like to hear your name called?
Karen: Amazing and truly unexpected! It was a category of serious heavy hitters for sure.
Wendy: It was a blast. Getting to perform for the MAC audience was very cool.
Rachel: We always say we do this for the love of it, but to work as hard as we did on our show and get that kind of recognition from our peers in cabaret is really wonderful.

CS: For your first year together, 2016 was a big one. What are the next things you’d like to see the project accomplish?
Karen: Definitely more performing! We’d love to be considered for the Cabaret Convention, and there are a lot of great recurring series and benefits here in NYC that have guest artists.
Rachel: We also all love to travel, and we have friends and fans in Austin, Seattle, Los Angeles, and the U.K., so it would be great to get some gigs organized out of town. Any takers on that, hit us up, please!!
Karen: And if none of that pans out, we’ll park outside Panda Express on 46th and 9th once a week for whomever shows up.

Visit thosegirlssing.com

Follow Those Girls on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thosegirlsnyc/?fref=nf

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Cabaret Features, New York City, New York City Cabaret Features, Regional

Comments are closed.

Read previous post: