Well folks, I had a fun time recently visiting the iconic artist/musician Allee Willis, on two different occasions. On St. Patrick’s Day, Willis performed her show “The Color Green” which she calls “a musical and social experience in Kitsch,” at the charming Vitello’s E-Spot Lounge in Studio City. As Willis said, “It featured more green than you ever thought possible in one place.”
Since Willis recently won the Grammy and Tony Awards for the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, the sing-alongs, green bingo, special green drinks, and green thrift shop mentions, couldn’t be more fitting. There were many celebrities attending The Color Green, including comedian Laraine Newman, singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb and composer Mike Post.
Willis is a songwriter extraordinaire, and besides writing lyrics for the musical The Color Purple she has won Grammys and penned such hits as Earth Wind & Fire’s “September” and “Boogie Wonderland” and the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance” to name a few. She was born in Detroit and wrote the song “The Big D” featuring famous Detroiters to be officially launched this spring.
Flash forward to April Fool’s Day (April 1st): I attended a party for Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit at “Willis Wonderland” in Valley Village, the 1937 MGM house, which is home to Willis, and a famous location for memorable parties. To quote People magazine “She throws parties that are works of art in themselves…the campiest hot tickets in L.A.”
Mosaic Youth was founded in 1992, when Detroit was facing one of its most challenging moments. Because of “White Flight” and the economic downturn of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Detroit area teens were being denied access to many important opportunities. In spite of these challenges, Mosaic Youth Theatre is now celebrating its 25th Anniversary, and many of its kids flew out to Valley Village to perform live at Willis Wonderland.
Mosaic alumni have gone on to perform in Broadway and have worked in television, film and the recording industry, with Mosaic alumni also becoming successful lawyers, teachers, social workers, bankers, designers, professors and non-profit administrators.
The three hosts of The Detroit Party, were famous Detroit natives Willis, Lily Tomlin (who has collaborated with Willis since the 1980s) and songwriter Lamont Dozier. The host committee included Mary Wilson (Supremes), comedienne Sandra Bernhard, music producer Don Was, songwriter Valerie Simpson and others. And those joining in the merriment at Willis’ legendary home were Tomlin, Paula Abdul, Freda Payne, Ed Begley Jr., Buck Henry, Telma Hopkins, Jenifer Lewis, Pamela Adlon, Stan Zimmerman, Tony Goldwyn, Charles Pheonix, Karen Sharpe-Kramer and yours truly.
It was a splendid way to celebrate April Fool’s and raise money for a worthy cause, especially in light of the current challenges facing arts cuts in the schools nationwide.
For more information visit MosaicDetroit.org.
Live your dreams…….
Katharine “Kat” Kramer is an actress and daughter of legendary filmmaker Stanley Kramer and actress Karen Sharpe-Kramer. She was named after her godmother, iconic actress Katharine Hepburn. For information on Kramer’s current projects visit KatKramersFilmsThatChangeTheWorld.com.