New York's multi-talented singer-songwriter/actress Annie Golden is returning to sing at the Cutting Room Sunday night for the first time in almost three years, the long gap largely due to her ever-busy acting schedule.
"Season Five of Orange is the New Black is in the can and ready to go, and will drop mid-June as always," says Golden, who plays the mute character Norma Romano.
"I'd auditioned for the role of an activist nun, and [Orange is the New Black creator] Jenji Kohan said, 'Let's offer her Norma Romano,' which was a character that hadn’t been written yet! So she wrote it with me in mind."
Although Golden had major acting roles before—most notably in Milos Forman's 1979 film version of the musical Hair--she acknowledges her lucky break.
"How many times do actors audition and the series doesn't get picked up? But this one has taken off in such an innovative, wonderful, positive, female-conscious, colorblind, non-discriminatory kind of a way. It's not just a show, it's a statement, which you couldn't have foreseen."
Her role on the hit series led to her first Broadway "offer" after 35 years in the profession.
"That means you don't have to go in and audition—that they're inviting you to join the cast," says Golden, whose offer was to join the cast of the revival of the musical Violet. "I'd been doing it all for so long, and it finally all came together."
Of course, Brooklyn native Golden has been a New York scene regular since fronting the punk-pop group The Shirts in the mid-1970s. In fact, the band was managed by CBGB’s late owner Hilly Kristal, and was a mainstay at the Bowery’s historic rock club. She focused on acting after the Shirts broke up in 1981 (they eventually reformed without her), landing recurring TV roles on Cheers and Miami Vice, Off-Broadway productions including Dementoes (Marc Shaiman’s first Off-Broadway musical) and The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World (from composer/lyricist Gunmar Madsen, founder of a cappela group The Bobs, who played on a Bottom Line bill long ago with The Shirts), and Broadway shows like Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, Leader of the Pack, On the Town and The Full Monty.
She's also performed in Joe Iconis's rock musical The Black Suits, and most recently, the revival of Roger Miller's hit 1985 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn-based Broadway musical Big River at City Center, and a Presidents' Day "be-in" with Hair cast mates at Joe's Pub where they sang timely songs of peace and love.
Meanwhile, she's set to appear on the forthcoming season of the Hulu comedy series Difficult People, and hopes to mount a Broadway production of the musical Bounty Hunter ("Think Annie Golden as Pam Grier in Foxy Brown!"), which was written for her and performed at the Berkshires last summer.
As for Sunday night's Cutting Room gig, she'll be reprising the format of her Annie Golden: Family and Friends show from last time—reinventing the songs she wrote and performed with singer-songwriter Frank Carillo as Golden Carillo, also songs written by her group's vocalist Lisa Burns and bassist Sal Maida, and songs Golden wrote with others. Her other musicians are pianist Dylan Maida (son of Maida and Burns, "who are like siblings to me, so Dylan's like a nelphew!"), guitarist Paul McKenzie, and her nephew Mick Golden, who replaces his late father Michael on drums.
"Last time it was Michael's triumphant return to performing," Golden recalls. "Before that we had not played together since CBGB's! But our drummer went down on his Harley Davidson and it took him years to return to playing. My brilliant guitarist Paul, who used to play for [Shirts guitarist] Artie Lamonica, was out, too, since he suffered a serious injury at work and was healing—and Artie came and saved the day for me, and the gig was a huge success. So we booked another one for the following November, but my dear brother died suddenly in October!"
Golden says she couldn't do the Sunday show "if Mick didn't consent to learn my 14-song set to honor his father's legacy and keep his aunt's dream alive as the newest and youngest—18--member of Annie Golden: Friends and Family."
She'll also include a song co-written with Lamonica, a collaboration with theater composer Steve Marzullo entitled "Impossible Spring," and her first entirely solo composition, "Hard Lesson," which she wrote following 9/11.
"I'm hoping to do another gig with my band in Brooklyn before I leave to begin Ripchord, a David Lindsay Abaire play, in Boston at Huntington Stage Company," says Golden, who's also now appearing in a star-studded single and video version of the Beatles "With a Little Help From My Friends," produced by the nonprofit Artists for the Arts Foundation to inspire support for the arts in America and protect the National Endowment for the Arts.
"I'll be back in July and should play again before Mick leaves for Boston himself to attend Berklee school of Music!" Golden concludes.