Songstress talks about move to 'Tennessee'

MARIAH CAREY survived her childhood, but it wasn’t easy. A miraculous singing talent saved her from hum-drum obscurity and possibly much worse. Today Mariah is at the pinnacle of a career that has seen some amazing pinnacles already. I know Mariah. She is sweet and funny. She used to be the girl next door, before fame came knocking, but now she doesn’t try to pretend she’s not, as she puts it, “the diva next door.” … Recently she spoke about the possibility of having children, and said that even the idea of giving birth, would leave her “feeling violated.” She cites her upbringing, her parents constant fighting. And she added, “I don’t think I could properly educate a child right now. Maybe in the future, but I actually haven’t thought about it.” … Saturday, at the Tribeca Film Festival, Mariah’s movie “Tennessee” bowed. Produced by Lee Daniels and directed by Aaron Woodley, this is a touching tale of two young brothers — Adam Rothenberg and Ethan Peck — trying to re-connect with their father. (Ethan is the grandson of film legend Gregory Peck.) This indie puts Mariah back where she was before “Glitter” pulled her down. Carey had displayed considerable promise in her first film, “Wise Girls” with Mira Sorvino, but the overwrought “Glitter” shoehorned her in a typical high-camp showbiz rise and fall story. In “Tennessee,” Mariah plays against type as a drab waitress with musical aspirations who joins up with the boys on their road trip. She is also escaping an abusive marriage. This is a natural, effortless performance. Nothing grand or showy. I think she just wants to be a good little actress, who can connect emotionally with an audience; to make people love her in a different way. … When pressed about marrying again, Carey says: “It would have to be somebody who would take care of me emotionally and make the effort to understand me deep down. To know who I am, not what I am.”

I DON’T want to get silly here but must confess that seeing the incredible “South Pacific” revival at Lincoln Center is akin to having a true spiritual experience. I was never a big Rodgers/Hammerstein fan but this time I was felled with emotion and appreciation. Everything about this production is perfect, including Bartlett Sher’s direction and the sets of Michael Yeargan. The music is more stunning than ever. When it became the only musical to win all four Tonys for acting back in 1949…when it was nominated for nine Tonys and won all…when it went on to nab the Pulitzer in 1950…when it ran for five years — I was indifferent. Not anymore. This is a masterpiece. I salute one and all but especially Kelli O’Hara as the navy nurse Nellie Forbush. I also loved the magnificent Paulo Szot as the French planter Emile de Beque.

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