Broadway star Loretta Ables Sayre talks story, in a two-part “Long Story Short With Leslie Wilcox,” with Part One airing tonight (July 28) and continuing this week, on PBS Hawaii. Part Two follows next week.
It’s quite a revelation, with Ables Sayre sharing private elements of her life before “South Pacific,” where she is in her second year as Lincoln Center’s Bloody Mary, for which she earned a Tony Award nomination.
“The only thing I ever wanted to be was a singer ... the only thing I could ever do,” says Ables Sayre, as Wilcox chats with the jazz singer-turned-Broadway luminary. She used to emulate Dinah Washington, the jazz icon, searching the depths of her soul to find that emotion. The acting came way later.
Among other disclosures:
• Her mom, who was 15 when she married a 40-year-old Philippines laborer, had been in an abusive domestic situation, so the marriage was a passport to freedom. The age difference, however, led to a divorce.
• Her stepfather, who was seven years younger than her mom, helped maintain a normal family life.
• Her California roots, devoid of Island-style pidgin and barefoot schooling, made her entrée into Pearl Harbor Elementary a challenge; but she adapted, becoming local in every respect, at Aliumanu Intermediate and Radford High.
• At Radford, drama teacher Patrick Dickson encouraged her to pursue her dream to sing.
Ables Sayre says she has had no formal voice training, maintained a professionalism at her club singing gigs at such resorts as the Halekulani and the Kahala for fear that she could easily be replaced, and credits Andy Bumatai for his kokua in enabling her to sing and thus bask in the Waikiki limelight when he was working with Keola and Kapono Beamer at the Reef Hotel.
“The next morning Keola Beamer called,” offering her a job in the Beamer show. Then Bumatai tapped her to join him in his Royal Hawaiian Monarch Room show.
Thus, for Ables Sayre, the journey has been all about acceptance, credibility, and chasing dreams — with the dream still continuing.
Part Two will be about meeting her husband David Sayre and auditioning for the biggest challenge of her life, the Great White Way.
'LONG STORY SHORT
WITH LESLIE WILCOX’
Featuring Loretta Ables Sayre
Part 1, life before “South Pacific,” at 7:30 p.m. July 28, 11 p.m. July 29, 4 p.m. Aug. 2
Part 2, meeting husband David Sayre and auditioning for Broadway, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4, 11 p.m. Aug. 5, 4 p.m. Aug. 6
PBS Hawaii, Oceanic Cable 10