Broadway veteran and triple threat Olsen covers all styles
Any aspiring musical comedy performer must be a triple threat — able to sing, dance and act in order to be competitive and employable. And they must do all three very well indeed.
Terri Olsen, who with her band The Perfect Blend, appears next at the Idyllwild Summer Concert Series, is that triple threat, does it all and is happily upbeat about how her career has unfolded.
While studying music and dance at San Jose State, Olsen auditioned for an upcoming musical revue at Marriott’s Great America Theme Park. At age 18, in what would become a pattern in her career, she beat out many other performers to land a professional gig. And she did so even with impediments.
For the Great America audition, she forgot to put her phone number on her audition sheet. Later, when back at college, she got called into her dean’s office. “They’re looking for you,” she was told. That, too, became a pattern in her career, with Olsen being called back to Broadway jobs after being cut in audition.
She credited the discipline of playing five one-hour shows a day, six days a week at Great America as the best career preparation possible. “I was 18, I could do it, but I also learned the importance of discipline,” she said.
As do many fortunate actors, Olsen started by landing commercials in Los Angeles. Commercials led to a featured role in a Hallmark Hall of Fame special, “Stubby Pringle’s Christmas,” starring Beau Bridges and Kim Hunter. Next came an Equity Tour of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” with Howard Keel and Jane Powell.
Soon after, with a move to New York City, Olsen was walking the theater district handing out résumés at stage doors. She walked into the Royale Theatre and was asked, “Are you here for the audition?” She thought quickly, said yes, and auditioned for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” She was cut at the audition but went home happy, having auditioned for a major Broadway show without ever having planned to.
She got back to her apartment to hear the phone ringing. “They cut you by accident,” said the stage manager. “Can you come back at 2 to dance?” She got the job.
She went on to perform on Broadway in “Into the Light” starring Dean Jones, another Lloyd Weber show, “Starlight Express,” and “Jerry’s Girls, starring Chita Rivera. Olsen was a featured performer as well as understudy for Rivera. When Rivera broke her leg in a car crash, Olsen went on for her in the starring role.
She recorded with and for Carly Simon with background vocals on Simon’s hit single “Coming Around Again.”
Olsen is philosophical about her success. “What I’ve learned is what’s meant to be is meant to be,” she said. “If a door closes another will open. It’s just the way it is.”
Olsen brings her regular band The Perfect Blend to ISCS. “This band is amazing,” extolled Olsen. “They are such quality and we do it all — standards, jazz, blues, pop, rock, disco and yes, sometimes some Broadway show tunes. What we do is have fun together as musicians, and with the audience.”
With Olsen are Alex Danson on keyboards and synthesizer, Larry Holloway on bass, Gene Wagner on drums, and Phillip Pollerana on congas, percussion and vocals.
Terri Olsen and The Perfect Blend take the stage at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3. Opening act at 6:15 p.m. is still to be determined.
This is a free concert, presented by Ken Dahleen and his ISCS board for the enjoyment of locals. Donations at the concerts and sponsorships help fund the series budget. Sponsors and donors can contact Dahleen directly at 951-659-2229 or send checks to P.O. Box 1542, Idyllwild, CA 92549.