Isaac Mizrahi — the accomplished actor, host, writer, designer, and producer — returns to Bay Street Theater on Monday, August 26, with his all-new show, “Isaac Mizrahi: Queen Size.” The evening is part of Bay Street’s Music Mondays concert series.
Joined by his band of jazz musicians, led by Ben Waltzer, Mizrahi will perform classics by Leonard Bernstein, Cat Stevens, Jimmy Webb, John Kander, Cole Porter, James Taylor, and Jerome Kern. And no topic will be off-limits. Get ready for politics, sex, prescription drugs, millennials.
Indy caught up with Mizrahi to discuss.
Tell us a little about “Isaac Mizrahi: Queen Size” and what the audience can expect during the show.
The show “Queen Size” is very autobiographical. I was very overweight as a kid and I never got over that body image, no matter how thin I’ve ever been, and it’s a dominant part of my identity. If there’s one issue that defines my life, it’s the struggle to be thin. The show covers a lot of biological ground but always seems to default to my weight issues.
How long have you been performing?
I started performing at a very young age. At eight, I built a puppet theatre in the family garage and created shows until I started high school. When I was 10 or 11, I started doing female impersonations for friends and family and would draw crowds at the beach club or the lobby of temple with my impersonations of Barbra Streisand or Liza Minnelli.
I went to Performing Arts High School in NYC and then started doing cabaret shows in my early 20s and never stopped. I’ve worked at all kinds of little clubs in the city, from a now defunct place called Eighty Eights to Joe’s Pub to, most recently, Café Carlyle.
How do you go about selecting the songs in your show?
The song selection for a show begins very early. Certain songs resonate and become obsessions and relate to stories I want to tell. The ultimate way they get selected is by their suitability to my singing voice and the band’s ability to kill the tune. But really, the ideas for songs come from the ideas about the story telling in the show.
How did you become involved with Bay Street?
Bay Street contacted me last year and we immediately were able to schedule a show there. It was such a great pleasure for me to perform there, because it’s my hometown. I feel like I’m from the Hamptons. I’ve been living here split with NYC since the 1990s.
Talk a little about your recent memoir, “I.M.,” and your writing process.
The memoir began about eight years ago. I had dinner with a friend who said I should think about the idea. It took really about five years to complete, and it’s still a major part of my life. It was very cathartic writing it, and I now feel bereft of this major thing in my life. I think I told honest stories about people in my life and, for the most part, they were all really thrilled.
You’re an actor, host, writer, designer, and producer. How do you balance it all?
I can’t do one thing without the other. My life as an entertainer informs my design work and vice versa. I think it all comes from the same creative force in me that I cannot suppress even if I tried.
What do you enjoy most about the East End?
I split my time between NYC and Bridgehampton these days, tending to be out here a little more than there. It has become a haven for me. I’m more active in the city, more on the go. Here, I write more and read a lot and do phone meetings.
One of the main reasons I love it here so much is because my dogs like it so much. They get really depressed when they sense we’re going back to the city. My husband and I split up a lot in order for the dogs to spend as much time here as possible. In the end, I do most everything for my dogs!
The show starts at 8 PM. Tickets range from $79 to $125 and are on sale now at www.baystreet.org.