Arts & Culture

For the love of the spotlight

Tonight won't be the first time Madonna Muller sings "Everything's Coming Up Roses" for a live audience.

The Hilton Head Island resident remembers singing and dancing to the Broadway song years ago in the first show she performed as one of the Bob Arlen Dancers. But this time Muller will be performing the song as a member of the Hilton Head Choral Society. The group will present a "Summer Song" pops concert at 8 p.m. tonight at First Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island.

Muller, who has been a member of the society for the past 11 years, is happy to say she still is doing what she loves.

"I never wanted to be a star," she said. "I just wanted to dance and sing and entertain."

That is exactly what she's done all along. Muller said she started taking voice lessons at age 7 and took her first ballet class a couple of years later. She discovered jazz dancing at about age 13. She sang in choruses, got into musical theater and eventually majored in dance at Butler University in Indiana.

After college, she worked as a choreographer, and at age 21 she left her small Indiana hometown for the Big Apple.

It was the 1960s, and Muller quickly landed a job as a Bob Arlen Dancer, performing at fancy nightclubs in the area. In the 1950s and '60s, Arlen and Buster Burnell were well-established choreographers. Clubs would hire their dancers for events.

"It was great," she said. "I just loved seeing people have a good time."

Muller said she got the opportunityto work with some of the big entertainment stars of the era: Jack Jones, Al Martino, Sophie Tucker, Harry Richmond and Joe E. Lewis, some of whom performed vaudeville acts on Broadway, in films and in clubs.

"It was just a very exciting time for me," Muller said.

She also danced with the Buster Burnell Dancers, performing at posh spots such as the Town and Country nightclub in Brooklyn and the Imperial Room of The Concord Hotel, a place where she said all the top entertainers played at the time. And though she never got to do a Broadway show, she did perform in off-Broadway revues.

Fast forward a few decades, and you'll find Muller still dancing and singing her heart out.

She continues to play an active role in the choral society. The second soprano board member handles all the membership for the group and designs backdrops for their performances.

And over the past few years she has taken up ballroom dancing at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bluffton.

"I've always believed that if you're a creative person, you need to constantly nourish your creative soul," Muller said. "And to me there is nothing like learning new things and still nourishing that creative soul at the same time. And that's what choral society does for me."

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The Hilton Head Choral Society

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