When fans meet “So You Think You Can Dance’s” most vivacious judge Mary Murphy, the one request that is always asked of her is, “Mary, scream for me!”
The judge is known for her wild ways at the judges’ table – from screaming, squealing, shrieking, hooting and hollering – and, of course, lots of “Hot Tamale Train” hoopla. But as Murphy’s said recently, with her throat cancer operation, she is under doctor’s orders to not whoop it up as much as usual.
That truly hit home for the judge recently when out on the audition trail, leaving her in tears.
We caught up with Mary Murphy for a little one-on-one action to see how she’s feeling – and how she’s feeling about tonight’s season premiere of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
Is it hard to tone down your loud ways?
Murphy: Well, yeah, I’ll be honest with you. There were a couple cities that we did and I tried to give a shout out or I reached over to Nigel [Lythgoe] and tried to scream, ‘Oh just give him a ticket’ and it didn’t come out. That did bring tears to my eyes and I did get emotionally upset about that.
How have the fans and contestants been to you along the way so far?
Murphy: I had a contestant on the trail somewhere turn to me and say, ‘Mary, would you scream for me?’ I was so devastated, I said, ‘I wish I could. You deserve it. But I can’t.’ But it’s coming back. I’m at a medium cooker right now.
I hope you’re putting your health first over being the big show-woman you are.
Murphy: Yes, because I didn’t always. I got myself in trouble with the cancer because I don’t take care of myself and I didn’t do what I was told to by the doctors in the first place. But I’m listening to them now. I am. I am trying and it’s not easy. It’s been hard. I’m trying to change my life, change my diet. I have other cancers in my family that I need to watch out for so this is a wake up call for me. I’m taking it seriously now and I’m trying to make the time.
Do you think your voice will be better by the time the live shows start in June?
Murphy: I will give it full-tilt when we go live and see if I still have it. It might be better by then. We’ll see. I’ll ride the Hot Tamale Train if somebody deserves it.
Nigel hinted that the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am might be on the show as a guest judge. Any word?
Murphy: He is hinting that. I hope so. We don’t know for sure. We’re going to try to make that happen.
Who else would you want as a guest judge?
Murphy: I would love to see Beyonce, Lady Gaga … how cool would that be? I would love it if Madonna would come on our show or Janet Jackson. They’ve been amazing dancers and would have so much to offer the kids.
What does having more contestants with no formal training do to the show?
Murphy: It brings a whole new energy. The dance level last year was so incredibly high. But we had a lot of contemporary and had the same flavor. This year we have lots of different styles and lots of untrained dancers, lots of different flavors.
Will we see Alex Wong back as an all-star maybe?
Murphy: We’re still hoping we’ll see him some time this season. He hasn’t been cleared by the doctors to come back to us yet, but he is back to dancing and he is doing better. I’d say maybe he’s 80% back.
“So You Think You Can Dance” Season 8 premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. on Fox.