*Back in the day, multi-talented singer, actress and dancer Vivian Reed was one of the A-List stars to easily get beyond the infamous red rope at the storied Studio 54 that separated the “haves” from the “wannabes.” She was tall, talented, and sultry and always a leg above the rest. Plus, she could sing and dance her ass off!
Fast forward to today. Nothing has changed and she can still sing and dance while giving you lots of style and is still a cut above most – including any one of the new breed of so-called thoroughbred singers/dancers. They should ask “Viv” how she’s able to pull off singing and dancing without getting winded – a feat that has amassed many awards for the multi- award winner including two Tony nominations, Drama Desk award, Theatre World award, Outer Critics Circle award, Dance Education of America award and NAACP award – just to name a few
Don’t look for this consummate performer with model looks to be featured on any of those “whatever happened to” shows ‘cause this classy lady is still performing with enough verve to light up Times Square! Right now, the lady with those long, lithesome, wrap-around-legs will be kickin’ up a storm and showing you why she’s still on top of her game at her new solo show One For My Baby on Monday, November 11, 2013 when she headlines a show at 54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club, located at 254 West 54th Street, just below the legendary Studio 54. What is described as a classically designed state-of-the art nightclub in the theatre district that hosts audiences with warmth and style is the perfect venue for Reed, a classic beauty. Doors open 8:00pm. Cover charge $35-$45; food and beverage minimum $25. For additional information and/or reservations call 646-476-3551 or visit www.54below.com.
At 54 Below, look for Reed to showcase her passionate and powerful vocal styling in unique arrangements of an eclectic lineup of R&B, jazz, gospel and musical theater songs. Through selections from her critically acclaimed Broadway performance in Bubbling Brown Sugar, as well as from Three Mo’ Divas, her concerts and international nightclub appearances, pays tribute to the people who have had a profound effect on her career. Accompanied by two pianists, a bassist, a drummer and two background singers, her high-energy show also features special guests and a salute to Harold Arlen, with a preview of songs from One for My Baby, a new Harold Arlen musical in progress with a possible debut in London, England before coming to the United States.
Vivian Reed began formal voice training at the age of eight at the Pittsburgh Musical Institute, later continuing at New York’s Juilliard School of Music followed by years of extensive dance training. She became a polished performer under the guidance of Honi Coles and Bobby Schiffman of the Apollo Theater.
She auditioned for the musical Bubbling Brown Sugar, the first of several popular revues based on music of the ‘20s and ‘30s. Although she was hired immediately, she soon discovered there was no existing part for her, so she created the role of “Young Irene.” The show toured the country to rave reviews before it opened on Broadway to critically acclaim. Her show-stopping performance included a dazzling song and dance production of Sweet Georgia Brown and a unique vocal rendition of God Bless the Child that won her critical acclaim.
After Broadway, Reed went to Los Angeles to open another company of Bubbling Brown Sugar and then on to Europe with the show — touring such countries as England, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Italy and France. While recognizing her own unique talents, Paris proclaimed her “The New Josephine Baker.” This Bubbling Brown Sugarette captured the attention of Pierre Cardin, who booked Vivian into his theater and held her over for several weeks. Through Cardin, she went to Japan for the first time and made her first European TV special. Later, she was invited by the Prince and Princess of Monaco to perform in Monte Carlo.
Reed has appeared on many TV variety and talk shows both nationally and internationally including The Tonight Show, The Today Show and the ABC-TV daytime drama, “One Life to Live.” She has shared the bill with notable performers such as Bill Cosby, Pattie Labelle, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Elaine Stritch, Alan King, Sammy Davis Jr., Quincy Jones, Ashford & Simpson and Charles Aznavour, just to name a few.
Reed’s film credits include “Heading for Broadway,” “L’Africaine” with Catherine Deneuve and “Le Rumba,” in which she portrayed Josephine Baker. Recently she produced and starred in a short film “What Goes Around” written by Angela Gibbs.
The singer has also brought her nightclub act to major gatherings of organization and dignitaries, including Mercedes Benz, IBM, Top Fashion Designers Gala at the Theatre Champs Elysees and the American Film Festival in Deauville. She appeared at the Festival del Vina in Chile, along with other top performers like Laura Branigan, Sting, Mister Mister and Jon Secada. There she received the coveted “Torch Award,” an honor bestowed by the mayor and citizens of Vina for only the most exceptional and stirring performances.
Besides her international success as an actress and entertainer, she has also been featured in the world’s most read and influential news and fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Paris Match, People, Ebony, Jet (cover) and Time Magazine. Her personal style and taste for designer clothes have won her a place on Mr. Blackwell’s Best Dressed Women List and she was selected by People Magazine as one of the ‘25 Most Intriguing People of the Year.’
Reed starred in New York at the “Rainbow and Stars” in a rhythm and blues revue and the Supper Club in a swing revue. She received critical acclaim in major productions of “Sophisticated Ladies,” “Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd,” “Blues in the Night,” “High Rollers,” “Show Boat” in which she portrayed the role of Queenie and Tintypes. Her recent plays include “Blues for an Alabama Sky,” “Crumbs from the table of Joy,” “Pork Pie” and “Cooki’ At The Cookery.” She was featured in the highly anticipated “Marie Christine” at Lincoln Center. She also portrayed Lena Horne in a new piece, “More Than A Song” with the Pittsburgh Ballet Company at the Benedum Theater in Pittsburgh.
Reed contributed her talents to the Lena Horne Awards Show hosted by Bill Cosby honoring Rosie O’Donnell and Quincy Jones at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in New York. She appeared in “Three Mo’ Divas,” the follow-up to “Three Mo’ Tenors” at the San Diego Rep and Arena Stage in Washington, DC and, as an actress, received critical acclaim for her portrayal as Gloria Franklin in “The Second Tosca,” written by Tom Rowan. She sold out at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Room in Paris several years ago followed by a return engagement recently.
Reed has also given back of her talent by teaching nearly three years at Berklee College of Music in Boston where she created a performance class teaching the many aspects of performing and also establishing a yearly concert event called Singer’s Night. The singer’s singer performed as a guest artist in Sondheim Unplugged at 54 Below, and will be co-starring in a showcase of a new musical, “The Countess of Storyville,” in January 2014.
When not performing, Reed uses her spare time to design beautiful scarves and is now the owner and designer of her own scarf line that she launched in memory of her mother. She’s quick to add that “all scarves are handmade” and credits her beloved mother with getting her started in the scarf business. “I definitely got my creativity from my mom. She was an amazing seamstress and taught me how to sew at an early age. Sadly she passed away in my arms in 2012 and I think about her every day, every stitch. Every scarf you see in my shop I made myself. I was encouraged by my friend Bryan to open a shop on Etsy because he thought it would be the perfect market place to introduce them. I am so happy to be a part of this incredible and talented community. I now get to offer to the public what I so enjoy.”
“There is a scarf for everyone in my collection. Some are elegant, some are funky and some are dramatic and every scarf makes a statement. I have scarves to fit and wear for every occasion. My scarves are going to bring out the DIVA in you so be prepared. You will feel goooood wearing them. Trust me. I make and paint every scarf myself with no more than two or three of the same pattern and fabric. Making them is a lot of work but it’s work that I enjoy. From time to time I will need to put my shop in vacation mode because I need to work on inventory or I might be doing a show that demands a lot of my attention but I will do my best to meet the orders and respond to messages. I am sure that my mom would be proud of me because I am carrying on what she taught me which was truly her gift……how to sew.” Visit VJR Scarves at www.vjrscarves.etsy.com and www.sochicnyc.com.
About 54 Below
54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club, offers an unforgettable New York nightlife experience, combining performances by Broadway’s best with world class dining in an elegant setting. 54 Below has become Broadway’s living room; a home away from home for Broadway professionals and audiences alike. And with pre-theatre dinner offered nightly from 5pm, 54 Below has set a new culinary standard for New York City entertainment venues. Steps from Times Square, 54 Below has undergone a complete reinvention by multiple Tony Award-winning producers Tom Viertel, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel and Steve Baruch (Hairspray, The Producers) who have brought together Broadway’s and NewYork’s most creative artists and designers as well as top food and hospitality professionals to launch and oversee this only-in-Manhattan, matchless nightspot.
Designed by multiple Tony Award winners John Lee Beatty (restaurant design) and Ken Billington (lighting), sound designer Peter Hylenski and architect Richard Lewis, 54 Below’s creative team includes Tony Award winner Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Smash) as Creative Consultant, and MAC Award winner Phil Geoffrey Bond as Director of Programming.
New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets. Contact her via: [email protected]