BROOKLYN BUZZ: Brooklyn Impersonator brings Peggy Lee to life

March 31, 2011 Heather Chin
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Playing dress up isn’t only for kids.

Just ask Robert Carlsen, a 71-year-old retiree from Bay Ridgewho, for fun, impersonates celebrities of all genders and decades,from Michael Jackson to Lady Gaga.

My life has been a party, about having a good time, saidCarlsen between rehearsals for his next show, where he will dressup and sing as famed American singer and actress Peggy Lee. I dothe present as well as the past. I try to keep up to date withthings, but mostly popular figures in the celebrity field. I findit fun to imitate what they did.

His rehearsals are for a Tribute to Peggy Lee that will be heldon Sunday, April 3 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Bethlehem LutheranChurch on Ovington and Fourth Avenues. The tribute is being hostedby the Scandinavian East Coast Museum, an organization founded in1996 to celebrate the contributions and cultural heritage ofBrooklyn’s Scandinavian-American population.

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According to museum President Victoria Hofmo, the idea for theevent originated when she discovered that Lee, who is famous forher multi-faceted singing, composing and acting career throughoutthe latter half of the past century, is of Scandinavianancestry.

As soon as I discovered that Peggy Lee had Scandinavian roots,I wanted to produce a tribute to her and her work, said Hofmo. Iwas most familiar with her sultry song ‘Fever’ and also knew thatMiss Lee was the inspiration for Jim Henson’s ‘Miss Piggy.’

Hofmo then took her idea to James Martinelli, a dance instructorin Brooklyn Heights, who she says was immediately interested.

I explained that we had limited funds and therefore could notpay the performers, added Hofmo. He said, ‘Don’t worry. Peopleare going to want to do this.’ And, he has been proven more thancorrect.

Sunday’s tribute will include around two dozen musicalperformances, light refreshments and a Peggy Lee ImpersonationContest.

Some of Lee’s most recognizable hits include her rendition ofFever, her early song What More Can a Woman Do, Mañana andpart of the soundtrack to the Disney movie Lady and theTramp.

Born Norma Deloris Egstrom in 1920 in North Dakota, Peggy Leebegan her career as a vocalist on local radio stations – where shegot her stage name – before moving to Chicago at 17 to perform atvarious clubs. It was here that she was noticed by King of SwingBenny Goodman, whose band she went on to perform with for twoyears.

Lee is famous for her range in popular music and American jazz,and is cited as a mentor to the likes of Judy Garland, FrankSinatra, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler and Madonna.

Tickets are $35 and include entertainment, light hors d’oeuvres,two glasses of wine, dessert and a coffee. To reserve a seat,contact Victoria Hofmo at 718-748-5950.

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