Ira Lee Collings has come a long way from the tiny rural town of Kingsbury, Indiana (population, 250). The 83-year old octogenarian has become a cabaret sensation in these later years, garnering a 2018 Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC) nomination for best “musical comedy performer” as well as receiving the prestigious MAC Hanson Award in 2017 (the award is given to a performer in recognition of a body of work well-done over an accumulation of years). In 2018, Ira Lee, the “Gay Geezer,” is already at work creating his next show, to be announced.
The irrepressible Collings has been singing nearly his entire life, starting at a rabbit hutch in his childhood home. The bunny audience, housed in a make-shift barn – actually a converted garage – enjoyed the child Ira Lee singing to them whenever he could. And according to Ira Lee, they never criticized!
After finishing high school, Ira Lee moved to Chicago where he studied with the great Russian teachers, David and Bella Atkin, at the Goodman Theater. He found a niche in musical theater in the Second City, with The Stage Manager in “Our Town” being his favorite role while.
But it was the Big Apple that called to Ira Lee most. After three years in Chicago and working at the Goodman, he moved east, working in a variety of theatrical jobs, including many turns in Dinner Theater. For his work in “Pajama Tops,” critic Lane Crockett said, “Collings is a standout! – he walks away with the play!” In “Play It Again, Sam,” critic Alan Moore said, “Next to Woody Allen himself, I can’t imagine anyone better in the role of Allen than Lee Collings.”
In addition to theater, Ira Lee sang at open mics, taking the opportunity to keep his voice in shape and to perform, perform, perform. But, as all good things often do, Ira Lee’s forays into show business came to an end. He opted to pursue a career in business with its “perk” of a regular paycheck! It was a hiatus that was to last 25-years.
In 2013 Collings felt the call of the stage once more. He returned to performing, concentrating on Cabaret. Over these last few years, Collings, using his full name, has emerged with all “Gay Geezer Power” guns ablaze. He looks forward to continuing to sing and entertain well into this century, wowing audiences who appreciate him even more than his beloved rabbits of all those years ago.