Molly’s jazz moxie
Published on March 18th, 2014 | by Des Moines Register
The many roles of Molly Ringwald include 1980s teenage film queen, worried mother of a teenager and lingerie-clad Sally Bowles in the Broadway revival of “Cabaret.”
Her latest gig — touring for her album of jazz standards “Except Sometimes” — comes with a side job: teacher. Ringwald is scheduled to perform at 7:30 p.m., Friday at the Temple Theater in Des Moines.
Chances are, the crowd will be composed of fewer jazz enthusiasts, but more people who remember Ringwald for her roles in the late John Hughes films “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink.”
And that means the actress is exposing legions of her fans to the music she grew up with. Ringwald is the daughter of accomplished jazz pianist Bob Ringwald, and her earliest credits were in musical theater. Now she’s taking her voice on the road in a kind of goodwill tour for America’s original music form.
“I feel like we’re kind of ambassadors for jazz,” Ringwald told The Des Moines Register in a telephone interview in advance of her appearance. “They come to the show because they know me from a movie or something, and we’ve had this incredible response to the music. I usually sign CDs after shows, and I have people come up to me and say they didn’t know anything about this music but they love it now and want to know more.”
She added: “That feels like victory, because it’s really music that I love.”
Ringwald originally wanted to be a jazz singer, but the money was in movies. And from 1983 to 1986, she was the muse of director Hughes, whose vision of teenage angst-ridden suburban youth became iconic visions of the ’80s.
But Ringwald, a 46-year-old mother of three, said she always kept singing and jazz in her life.
“I never really stopped singing — I just didn’t sing professionally,” she said. “I continued to perform with my dad throughout the years. Once in a while, I would perform with friends of mine. It’s something I kept doing all along.”
In 2004, Ringwald was doing a play with actor and musician Peter Smith. Halfway through the show’s run, they both discovered their mutual love for jazz. Four years later, they started working together and eventually assembled a band.
The collaboration resulted in “Except Sometimes,” a collection of jazz standards. As she worked, she shared the unfinished pieces with her father, who was, of course, pleased his daughter was taking up jazz.
“I think he’s incredibly proud,” Ringwald said. “I think he wanted me to do something with music and with the singing for a long time. Although, you know, my dad is not in any way pushy. He figured I would just do it when I was ready.”
The album and the show include one nod to her most famous period. Ringwald covers the song “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” the theme from “The Breakfast Club” made famous by the band Simple Minds.
Hughes died in 2009, and Ringwald was thinking about him a lot while working with Smith on her album. One night at the end of a rehearsal, she asked Smith if they could cover the tune as a jazz song.
“I started to sing it and he put these beautiful chords behind it,” she recalled. “I don’t think there’s one original chord from the pop song in the way we do it. It sounded really interesting. I thought it would be a nice tribute to John and also like a bridge between my work that I’m most well-known for and what I’m doing now.”
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Where: Temple Theater, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines