Driving My Own Heart
Debra Wanger It started in Chicago, where she wrote and sang original musicals for her stuffed animals when she was very young. Debra began an illustrious theatrical career starring as Toto in a summer camp production of Wizard of Oz. Barely surviving head-to-toe fur in sweltering July heat, she already knew how to suffer for her art. She studied acting at the nationally-acclaimed Piven Theatre Workshop with such talents as John Cusack, Joan Cusack, and Jeremy Piven. Her vocal training began at the Northwestern University vocal department while still attending high school. She declined an opera scholarship to Oberlin Conservatory in order to study musical theatre at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM.) She took a quarter off to work for a few months in live theatre. Fifteen productions later, she returned to school and graduated magna cum laude from Tufts Universityand received a Masters of Fine Arts in musical theatre from San Diego State University, where she graduated Phi Kappa Phi as a Marion Ross Scholar. Debra has performed in regional theatres and cabaret clubs across the country, most frequently in Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, and South Florida. In Professionally Speaking at the Off-Broadway, The Miami Herald hailed her "a comic sparkplug." Her role in Triumph of Love won a KPBS-TV Patté award. Her one-woman show My Nights With George, Kurt & Cole, (co-written and directed by comic genius, Phil Johnson) was featured at various venues throughout Southern California and won Best New Play and Best Actress at the 2003 San Diego Actors Festival, and the San Diego Playbill Billie Award for Best Actress in a musical. Debra took hiatus from performing to explore the "other side of the table." As a talent manager and at Creative Artists Agency, under world-famous super-agent Michael Ovitz, she helped to guide the careers of such actors as Donald Sutherland, Patrick Dempsey, Halle Berry, Alyssa Milano, and Antonio Banderas. Having been yelled at by some of the most powerful players in Hollywood, she decided that performing was just as difficult, but a lot more fun. Her diverse career has also included work as a director, producer, professor, disc jockey, law intern, arranger, choir director, radio producer, writer, announcer, teacher, coach, housewife, last but exhaustingly not least, mom. She plays the guitar, harp and piano and spends any free-time (ha!) dabbling in cooking, aromatherapy, yoga, interior decorating, and chocolate. She lives in San Diego with her husband, their two children & a black lab. DRIVING MY OWN HEART: This CD began shortly after Debra learned that she was pregnant, as an expecting mother's gift to her kids. It grew (as did she) into a bigger, greater project. The working title was So Many People. Not only is the Sondheim song lovely, but 7 songs were recording as Debra's twins (!) tapped their toes in her womb. So many people indeed. The project was temporarily halted because she was too pregnant to make it up the stairs to the studio. This collection of 14 songs (17 actually) features some of the best contemporary composers & lyricists writing today. Stephen Sondheim, John Kander, William Finn, Stephen Schwartz, Randy Newman, Jason Robert Brown, Alan Menken, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Lynn Ahrens. Two very special new songs are included. "I Want to Live Out Loud" was written by cabaret staple and luscious baritone, Todd Murray. This inspirational song is an 11 o'clock number to rival any of them. "Driving My Own Heart" was written for this CD by Rayme Sciaroni (Naked Boys Singing, The Daddy Machine.) It is a great opportunity to highlight such an exceptionally talented composer and pianist. So many brilliant people. So many great songs. So many great moments. And from now on, she's driving her own heart.