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MUSIC | Weekend Chat

Singer of 2,000 Charts

Robert Goulet has been a singing, touring star for 40 years. He'd like a shot at another big stage musical--in Las Vegas.


Forty years ago this December, Canadian-born Robert Goulet made his Broadway debut asSir Lancelot opposite Julie Andrews and Richard Burton in the Lerner-Loewe musical "Camelot." His moving renditions of the Lerner and Loewe standards "C'est Moi" and "If Ever I Would Leave You" have rarely been matched.

Since "Camelot," Goulet has headlined numerous musicals including "Man of La Mancha," "Happy Time," for which he won the Tony, "South Pacific" and "Kiss Me Kate." In the '90s, he toured in "Camelot," this time playing the role of King Arthur.

Besides recording numerous albums, the 66-year-old Goulet has also been a favorite on TV, appearing most recently in "Just Shoot Me" and "Two Guys and a Girl." His film credits include "Honeymoon Hotel," "Beetlejuice" and "Naked Gun 2 1/2." Last year, Goulet's booming baritone could be heard in "Toy Story 2," singing "You've Got a Friend in Me."

This Friday, Goulet will be appearing in concert at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, performing such standards as "On the Street Where You Live," "The Impossible Dream" and "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" His son, Michael Goulet, will also perform a few numbers, including two duets with his father.

Goulet talked about his concert, surviving prostate cancer and his upcoming plans over the phone from his home in Las Vegas.

Question: Since your successful prostate cancer surgery seven years ago, you have been very involved in getting the word out that men should be tested for the disease.

Answer: I have done about a dozen shows, from the "Today" show and "Good Morning, America" to three times on "Larry King Live." When I first did it, they said he's doing it for publicity. That's malarkey. You do it to save lives. I talk to everybody when I do a concert. I say, "Look, fellows. They say get tested at 50. [I say] get tested at 30 because people die very young of prostate cancer." I didn't have any symptoms. I really don't spend that much time with it [in concert]. I get it out of the way at the beginning of the program.

Q: You appeared at the Pantages in Hollywood in "Camelot" just three weeks after your surgery.

A: And in tights, which was intriguing. Before the show started, I put on two pairs of extra shorts, and I put half a Depends in there. So when they looked at my crotch from the first 30 rows--the little bodice only comes to your crotch--they saw all of those things in [my tights] and said, "My goodness, gracious." We sold out for three weeks.

Q: Do men thank you for talking about prostate cancer?

A: Out of the woodwork they come. One guy said, "I don't have any energy, but I see you on that stage and you have a ton of energy. How do you do it?" I said, "Have you tried taking a nap in the afternoon?" I'm serious. Years ago, doctors told me you are going so fast and you don't get that much sleep at night, take an hour's nap in the afternoon.

Q: How many concerts do you perform a year?

A: It all depends. Some years more than others. If people remember who the hell I am, they'll say, "Let's call Goulet." If they don't, you do a dozen; if they do, you'll do two dozen.

Q: Do your concerts attract all age groups?

A: There are not too many teenagers there. I don't seem to garner that much of an audience among the teens. If I did something on MTV like Tony [Bennett] did, then it might work out.

Q: How do you choose the songs for your concert?

A: [The programs] change all the time. I have about 2,000 charts in my house right now. I don't look at them too often. Some of the charts were recorded 30 years ago, and I have never heard the recordings, so I don't know what the thing sounds like. I don't listen to myself. Sometimes, I'll be listening to the radio, and somewhere along the line I'll hear a song I know I recorded--I don't know when--25 or 30 years ago, and I have never listened to it. I'll either go, "That's not bad" or "It's awful."

Q: You're singing a lot of Michel Legrand songs one doesn't hear much anymore, such as "Summer Me, Winter Me" and the theme from "The Summer of '42."

A: They are beautiful songs. [Begins to sing:] "What are you doing the rest of your life? . . ."

Wait until you hear my saloon medley. It makes you want to cry. The lyrics make you go back to a lot of [emotional] moments in your life. Everyone has had those moments. I have a lot of pain [inside me] somewhere, and it comes out [in the songs]. That is what performing is all about. You have to bring forth to the audience what you feel and what you went through in life to make you feel that way. They reciprocate because they have been there.

When I watch "The Tonight Show" and Letterman and they have people on singing--first of all, I can't hear what they are singing. Their voices are somewhere hidden in their clothing and they swallow the mike. But if you ever get to hear the lyrics, then you wonder who are they singing to. They are singing to 12- and 13-year-olds.

Q: Your son, Michael, is appearing with you in concert. Does he always work with you?

A: He doesn't always have the time, but I get a kick out of it because he sings so well. He's 6-foot-5, and he's as handsome as can be, and he has a great voice. He's a great cook, and he's single!?

Q: Are you planning on doing another musical?

A: I am talking to some people in Vegas here about doing a project--a full-fledged musical. One of the hotels is very interested. It is something we need in this town because we don't have one.

* Robert Goulet performs Friday at 8 p.m. at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos. Tickets are $52, $47 and $42. Information: (800) 300-4345 or (562) 916-8500.

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