Alex K. Shayne is Palm Springs’ prodigal daughter. Born into a family of entertainers – her parents Antheny and Judy Shane performed (together and separately) in the valley in the 1960s and ‘70s – she fled show business and the city of her birth only to return to it 30 years later.
Shayne’s return places her on stage Oct. 2 at Hotel Zoso in Palm Springs, where she will present and star in Palm Springs Born and Raised, a one-woman cabaret show that pays tribute to her parents and Palm Springs by tracing the path of her journey through song, storytelling, music, and family photos.
“I’m in the fortunate position of being able to bridge the gap between the nostalgia of Palm Springs in its heyday – the music, the celebrities, the ‘scene,’ and the reality of what it was like to grow up and live through it,” she says.
Artistic director Rob Reistad adds, “The star of the story is not Alex, her parents, or the celebrities. The star of this story is Palm Springs.”
Her father Antheny was a crooner, a cross between Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. Her mother Judy was a trained coloratura soprano. They moved to Palm Springs in 1962 and together, under their own names and the names Marc and Karen Tanno, performed their act in nightclubs throughout the valley.
At the time, Palm Springs was a glamorous destination where celebrities could escape the spotlight and be themselves. The Shanes were the performers who entertained them. Frank Sinatra often dined at Sorrentino’s where Antheny Shane sang. Liberace would come to their home for dinner (always bringing his two pet poodles). Sometimes, “Lee,” as they called him, would pick them up in his Rolls Royce and chauffeur them around town. Other friends included comedian Red Skelton and actor Robert Wagner.
Alex K. Shayne made her professional debut at 5 years old. “Growing up in an entertainment family meant you were expected to sing,” she says. “I sang my first song at 21 months.” It also meant keeping rather unconventional hours. Her parents went to work in the evening and returned early the next morning. “Noon to 2 a.m. were house hours,” Alex says. “If you needed something at 8 a.m., you were on your own. “
Alex’s father, Antheny Shayne, earned a spot on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.
“I’m in the fortunate position of being able to bridge the gap between the nostalgia of Palm Springs in its heyday – the music, the celebrities, the ‘scene,’ and the reality of what it was like to grow up and live through it.”
— Alex K. Shayne
After graduating from Palm Springs High School, Shayne moved to Los Angeles and continued her career as an actress and voice-over artist. Seeking a change of both career and scenery, she moved to Celebration, Florida, where she became the city’s spokesperson, then to Boston and eventually to New York City.
It was in New York City that she first presented Palm Springs Born and Raised in 2013. It was also in New York in January of 2016 that she heard a voice while meditating telling her it was time to go home. She ignored it. It persisted. Six weeks later, she had sold everything she owned and flown back to California. “I cried over 21 states and three time zones,” she says. Seeing that she felt somewhat adrift in the desert, her father urged her to return to singing. She agreed on the condition that he served as her vocal coach, which he happily did. Nine months later, he died. “The time we had together was invaluable,” she says.
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Alex’s parents, Antheny and Judy.
Shayne has realized that by running away from the family business and Palm Springs, she was running away from who she really was.
“Now that I’ve stopped fighting and embraced who I am, I want to do the only thing my family has ever done: make people feel good,” she says. She also believes that her parents’ style of entertaining – where the performer takes the audience on a journey and forges a personal connection with them – is a dying art. Like the midcentury modern architectural preservation that is currently occurring in Palm Springs, Shayne feels that she, too, is preserving history, if in a slightly different fashion.
“My father left a mantle when he passed away,” she says. “I had to pick it up.”
Palm Springs Born and Raised will be performed one night only at 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Hotel Zoso, 150 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9676; eventbrite.com