There was a time in the 1980s when most young actresses could not hold a candle, let alone 16 of them, to Molly Ringwald's screen popularity. Now a mother of three, the pretty-in-any-color performer returns to San Francisco to sparkle in a series of jazzy concerts at the Starlight Room.
Born and raised in Roseville, Ringwald credits her mother with "being the first one to notice I could sing" and her father with infusing her with an appreciation for jazz.
A child performer, she hit the road early.
"I was cast in the first West Coast production of 'Annie' and we opened at the Curran Theatre," she says.
Before that, she had already recorded her first album, a Dixieland jazz set, at age 6 with her father's band. It's taken almost 40 years for her to get back into the studio, but this year she released a new album of jazz-tinged standards called "Except Sometimes," the subtitle of Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well."
"I was a little busy," she jokes when asked about the delay between albums. "It was always a dream of mine to get my own band together, but I thought I would do it as kind of a hobby, just because I love this music."
Connecting with arranger-pianist Peter Smith, who co-produced the CD with her, changed her thinking.
"Once we started to work together, it became really clear that this was going to be more than a hobby," she says. "Things seem to happen organically in my life. Also, my voice has changed over the years. The way I sing now is very different from when I was younger, which was mostly belting. My sound now is much more intimate."
The Carmichael title tune is one of 10 tracks on the CD, Great American Songbook standards from film or theater, bookended by Stephen Sondheim's Oscar winner "Sooner or Later" and "Don't You (Forget About Me)," the Simple Minds song that covers the credits of her hit film "The Breakfast Club," directed by the late John Hughes, to whom she dedicates the track.
Surprisingly, she didn't consult with her father on the song selection for the CD, but she did send him tracks to hear as they were made.
"My dad doesn't really give criticism," she says. "Sometimes at gigs he'll tell me that they didn't mic the sax enough, things like that, but he's more a supporter, more like my cheerleader, and that's really nice!"
IF YOU GOMolly Ringwald
Presented by Society Cabaret
Where: Starlight Room, Sir Francis Drake, 450 Powell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 1 and 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $50 to $75
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.societycabaret.com