NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Renee Taylor lays bare some of the more private moments of her life in her latest show and somehow she finds that cathartic.
"My Life on a Diet," which opens at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center on Friday and is presented by George Street Playhouse, is a sometimes funny and often poignant journey through her life, from gleaning diet tips from Marilyn Monroe to marveling at a young Barbara Streisand to collaborating with Mel Brooks to playing Fran Drescher's idiosyncratic mother on the sitcom "The Nanny."
Somewhere along the way, Taylor has made peace with the what-might-have-beens of her life and she's put it all on a leopard skin upholstered stage for us to see.
"It's very healing," she told TAPinto New Brunswick. "What I mean when is say that is who I wanted to be and who I really am. I was going to be a starlet. I was going to be thin. I was going to be perfect-looking. But then, you have to take what you can get. You have to decide at some point you're good enough."
In "My Life on a Diet," she talks about how far she has come since the days she was obsessed with maintaining a Marilynesque figure.
"I talk about being in class with Marilyn Monroe at Lee Strasberg's acting class and about being a young actress and being inspired by her," Taylor said. "I was asking for advice from her, wanting to know what diet she was on and wanting to eat what she ate so I would look like her."
So what did Marilyn eat?
"She ate grapes," Taylor said. "So, I went on a grape diet."
"My Life on a Diet" has also helped heal her heart since her husband of 22 years, Joseph Bologna, passed away in 2017. Bologna was her best friend and her frequent collaborator - they even co-wrote "My Life on a Diet."
"It's very emotional, but I feel like I have him with me every night that I do it," Taylor said. "It feels very good. I go out there to see him, to hear him, to be out there with him.
"It was his idea to do the show. I didn't even think people would have been interested, but he encouraged me to do the show and he was very supportive and he spurred me on."
Doing seven performances a week takes a lot out of Taylor, but she is working on a philosophy she learned from alternative medicine author Deepak Chopra.
"It's about using less energy doing the same thing you always do," Taylor said. "He talked about receiving from the audience rather than giving. So, that's what I've been working on doing because I'm going to be doing seven shows a week. I'm going to be 87 - don't tell anybody."