Theater | Music Interview: DEBBY BOONE (Appearing in “Broadway & Beyond” for REAF at the Marines Memorial Theater)

Post image for Theater | Music Interview: DEBBY BOONE (Appearing in “Broadway & Beyond” for REAF at the Marines Memorial Theater)

by Chuck Louden on July 4, 2024

in Cabaret,Interviews,Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area


On Sunday July 14, the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation (REAF) is celebrating 30 years of producing Cabaret Concerts to fundraise for HIV and AIDS with Broadway & Beyond at the Marines Memorial Theater in San Francisco. Among the talent expected to perform will be the cast from the upcoming Broadway cast of Mrs Doubtfire and annual favorite singer Debby Boone. In addition to being known for her 1977 chart-topping hit “You Light Up My Life” (10 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Charts) she has continued to perform and crossed over to country music where she had a Top Ten hit in the 1980s. She has since gone on to record four Top Ten contemporary Christian albums, winning two Grammys. Debby’s last album release was her thirteenth studio recording, Swing This, music that is evocative of the golden age of Las Vegas. She continues to act in musical theater productions and has co-authored several children’s books with her husband Gabriel Ferrer, the son of Rosemary Clooney and actor/director Jose Ferrer. Debby met with Stage and Cinema, and talked about her career and all her accomplishments.

Stage and Cinema: With your family legacy around music and performing, was it your choice to go into show business?

Debby Boone: Actually my father [singer-actor Pat Boone] had my three sisters and me come along on a tour of Japan with him and The Osmonds when I was 14 years old. We performed as The Boone Sisters. He thought we’d see what grueling work being on tour was and that it would discourage us from wanting to be performers. It had the opposite effect though because we loved it and did it for several years.  When I was 21 and two of my sisters had gone off and gotten married, I was given the opportunity to sing and record “You Light Up My Life.” It obviously catapulted my career to stardom.

S&C: Decades later of course the iconic song has become a part of pop culture.  As you’ve gone on to do other things, have you wanted to put some distance between yourself and “You Light Up My Life” or do you feel obliged to sing it in every venue that you perform in?

Debby: I was young in my career of course and after a while wanted to try other things but it was/is what I’m most known for. The song has special significance for so many people as they look back on special memories, anniversaries. etc associated with the song. Fans would come to a show expecting to hear it performed and be disappointed if I didn’t sing it. Eventually I learned to embrace people’s love for the song and all the joy it continues to bring people.

The Boone Sisters in 1971: Laury, Debby, Lindy, Cherry (Michael Ochs Archives)

S&C: As this is the 30th Anniversary of REAF’s variety shows, those of us of a certain age remember the stars and celebrities that have participated year after year including yourself. How did you come to be involved?

Debby: I grew up with a Christian and conservative background. My long-time friend, director David Galligan (the current director of REAF), asked me if I’d be willing to help with the REAF benefits. I immediately said yes of course but educated myself on HIV and AIDS and now of course always come when I’m asked. I always have a great time and even if I’m just singing one song, I love meeting and interacting with all the performers.

Kicking off the 99th Redlands Bowl Summer Festival (solyartphotos)

S&C: I have to cover the “local” angle. What do you like to do when you come to San Francisco?

Debby: Unfortunately I’m usually just in and out. But when I’m here for a longer period, I honestly like to walk. The hills in particular are steep but all have gorgeous views. One of my favorite places to visit is Grace Cathedral and The Labyrinth. I have one particular memory of colorful ribbons hanging down from the ceiling. It was a beautiful and spiritual experience.

S&C: I can’t believe that you and your husband are empty nesters now. What’s next for you?

Debby: Our four tremendous kids are all nearby. We are excited to recently welcome our fifth grandchild. We both feel blessed and are grateful. It’s been on the backburner for a while but I’ve been meeting with some songwriters and co-writing some songs. I’m exploring the idea of doing a CD or concert as a tribute to the works of my Grandfather [country music star] Red Foley. Stay tuned!

6:30 pm
: Limited silent auction in theater lobby
7:30 pm: Performance
9:45 pm: VIP After party with the cast at the new
450 Powell St. at Sutter (formerly The Drake)
for tickets or additional info: REAF-SF
$39 – Reserved, Performance only/ Balcony tickets
$59 – Reserved, Performance only/ Dress Circle tickets
$150 – Reserved, Performance & VIP After Party/ Orchestra tickets
$500 & up: – VIP & Gala Individual Sponsor Tickets 

JASON BROCK Top 10 from X-Factor / cabaret star
DEBBY BOONE Grammy Award-winning recording star
 Broadway Star (Light in the Piazza, Wicked)
SAM HARRIS – Broadway (Grease, The Life, The Producers) / Multi-platinum recording artist/author
FAITH PRINCE Tony Award-winning (Guys & Dolls) Broadway Star
LISA VROMAN Broadway Star (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miz)
JENNIFER LEIGH WARREN Broadway Star (Big River)
PAULA WEST Jazz / Cabaret Star
BRUCE VILANCH Broadway (Hairspray) / TV Star Comedian
Featuring Rob McClure hosting as Mrs. Doubtfire
Musical Director MICHAEL ORLAND
Honorees: BRUCE VILANCH, Performer Lifetime Achievement Award

Leave a Comment