Shane Hartke: Travels With The Marvelous Marilyn Maye

June 17, 2023

Shane Hartke & Marilyn Maye – Courtesy of Shane Hartle. Used with permission.

Shane Hartke – Photo by Tom Alvarez.

During my forays into the central Indiana performing arts scene, I often cross paths with the same people I see regularly at shows and concerts. Such is the case of successful Carmel businessman and entrepreneur Shane Hartke, owner-operator of Addendum Gallery with two locations near each other at the Carmel City Center and another at the Keystone Fashion Mall. Offering high-end merchandise, Addendum features an assortment of goods that include tableware, jewelry, home fragrance, lighting, and accessories for the home. Products sold at Addendum are made by artists using exceptional materials. Featured brands include Michael Aram, MacKenzie-Childs, Baobab Collection, Julie Vos, Moser crystal, and many other distinctive lines.

The venue where most frequently encounter Hartke is Feinstein’s at Hotel Carmichael, located directly east of Hartke’s boutiques. I first spotted him two years ago in the upscale night spot when the club opened with headliner Marilyn Maye. Since then, I have seen the genial Hartke there several other times when cabaret superstar Maye performed, most recently in April.  Always seated at the same four top with family and friends in the front row table on stage left, I came to realize quickly that Hartke, based on shout outs from Maye on stage about him, was not only a devoted fan but also a close friend to her.

I wanted to know Maye’s perspective regarding her friendship with Hartke, so I reached out to her by email for a quote, to which she replied, “Shane is the entertainer’s happy dream and the singer’s joy! He loves and understands the performer’s presentation, and he is the kind of listener you want to sing to. He enjoys the message the singer conveys. His enthusiasm and caring gives the performer a reason to perform. He is a gentleman and my valued friend.”

Over time, I came to know Hartke and realized just how much we had in common in terms of our shared friendships and the mutual passion we both have for the performing arts. His friendship with Maye was a story I was curious about and was something I thought my readers would find as interesting as I do.  Surprised that I wanted to interview him, the reserved Hartke nevertheless agreed to meet with me.

Recently, Hartke and I sat down outdoors in front of one of his Addendum shops where we chatted about both his retail career and his friendship with Maye whom he sees at least a dozen times a year all over the country.  Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Shane Hartke & Marilyn Maye – Courtesy of Shane Hartke. Used with permission.

How did your love for the arts develop?

My grandmother and I went to Broadway shows in New York all the time for as long as I remember because she was big into theatre and concerts. I was always exposed to it. My family travelled throughout Europe most of the summer when I was growing up.

Where are you from?

I am from Lafayette and went to McCutcheon High School there, but my mother’s family is from Indianapolis. I grew up between here and Chicago.  I went to IU for two years and then transferred to the University of Las Vegas, where I graduated in 1995 with a degree in hotel administration and finance. I started out at the Four Seasons Hotel in DC and eventually worked for W Hotel in New York and travelled around doing hotel openings around the country for them and in Australia. Then 9/11 happened, and I moved home and that is when I opened my first location on Main Street in 2004.

What accounts for Carmel’s success?

It’s a combination of several things. First, Mayor Brainard who envisioned this and Bruce and Denise Cordingley (Pedcor Companies) who saw that vision and made it come to life. Plus, the customer base is here, which is needed to make this work. Then there are my relationships with my vendors. A lot of customers are used to going to New York and Chicago to shop. Most of what they seek there they can find in my stores.

Who is your customer base?

I have been here for 20 years. A huge bump for us is Hotel Carmichael. You can’t imagine the business that hotel brings in — people from Illinois, from Ohio, and businesspeople who stay there. Over race weekend, racecar driver families stay there, too.

Who buys for you?

Robyn Bragg is my assistant and my right-hand person, but I do90 % of the buying. I travel to Atlanta and New York and Paris twice a year and bring back inventory you don’t normally see and the brands that everyone recognizes.

What is your criteria?

I have to like it.

Where does your taste and style come from? Acquired? Born with it?

I was fortunate to have a mother who influenced me, but I explored on my own. I love to go to new cities and check out the stores and new lines.

What are other influences that inform your aesthetics?

Travel experiences I have had. The arts. All that goes together. The creativity it takes behind what we sell. I was in Prague last year and visited the crystal factories. I was able to see what goes into making the glassware so special and why people love it. I also love museums. I love Chagall and the impressionists, Renoir and Degas. I love the representation but also learning the artist’s history and those experiences they lived that informed their creativity.

Who designs your displays?

Mainly, that’s me. I have a lot of people who have been with me for a long time. They get what I like and what my vision is, and I am lucky that they help me carry that out, so I give them a lot of credit. I am fortunate to be in New York a couple of times a month, and I don’t think I have ever been there without visiting the seventh floor of Bergdorf Goodman, so I do get a lot of inspiration from them. A lot of places mix and match everything, but I prefer to keep it in boutiques, to keep it simpler.  Oh, by the way, I am adding a new concept in the nearby Wren Building, designed by Steve Sturtz.

Marylyn Maye & Shane Hartke – Courtesy of Shane Hartke. Used with permission.

Now, let’s move on to your famous friend Marilyn Maye. Would you say you are her superfan?

I am her friend. Of course, I am fan. I’ll readily admit that. I have known her for over a decade. She is the friendliest, most gracious person to all of her fans. She calls me her bodyguard.  It started out innocently. I met her at Birdland in New York.  I sat behind her at a table. I was at “Jim Caruso & Billy Stritch’s Cast Party,” and she got up and sang and immediately I thought “Who is she, and why do I not know her?” So I started talking to her, and we exchanged numbers and the next time I saw her I said, “You are coming to the Palladium and singing with Michael Feinstein.” And she said, “I’m not coming to Carmel,” so I pulled out my phone and showed her and she said, “I guess I am.” I travel with her on road trips during the summers. I was with her in Minneapolis last week where she did six shows at “Crooners.” We went to the Mary Tyler Moore sculpture. I took her to see “Merrily We Roll Along” in New York where we saw Mo Rocca, who did two profiles on her on CBS Sunday Morning. It’s fun to see guys come up to her to say, “I saw you in P-Town.” I will be joining her in New York, June 12, for the American Popular Song annual benefit where she will be honored.

What is your friendship with Marilyn based on?

First and foremost, I admire and appreciate her talent and her stories. She is also one of the hippest, funniest, connected people I know, everyone knows she is 95 years old. She might as well be 40, and she is my best friend. I don’t see that age when I am with her. She is so with it. I was with her recently at someone performance. This was a very well-known singer who performed a beautiful song perfectly from a technical standpoint. I leaned over and said, “I am just not getting it,” and Marilyn said, “They don’t know what they are singing. They have never lived that life and have never connected with those lyrics.” When you listen to Marilyn, she sings to you not for you. She knows how to convey lyrics and have them mean something to you.

I don’t want to dwell on her age, but she never sits down, she never closes her eyes, never turns her back to the audience. When we were in Minneapolis on Mother’s Day, she did an afternoon show and then we went to dinner afterwards. We got back to the hotel at 12:30 or 1 a.m. A friend and I said goodnight to Marilyn and then as we were going down the hallway, Marilyn opened the door and said, “You are not going back out without me, are you?” She was ready to go for some more. She is so full of life.

She has quite a loyal fan base does she not?

It’s interesting. When I go to Palm Springs, Palm Beach, Minnesota, St. Louis, New York, San Francisco, I see the same people in the audience, and I know half of them in each city and Marilyn knows them all. Marilyn comes out after her shows and talks to them. She is genuinely interested in them.

Does she have an overseas following?

I know she has done Australia and in London, when she got to Crazy Coqs, they told her to prepare for a reserved audience. When she finished her show, she got a standing ovation, and they kept clapping. Later, the owners of the club said that has never happened.

Marilyn Maye & Shane Hartke – Courtesy of Shane Hartle – Used with permission.

What are her demographics?

She was one of the first non-drag queens to do a run in P-Town, but gays are just part of her fan base. She has said, though, that they are the only ones who truly get her. I love going to shows where parents bring their little kids. In Minnesota, this mother told Marilyn that her eight-year-old listened to all her songs on Spotify during Covid, so Marilyn brought the little girl on stage and sang “Put on a Happy Face” to her. Marilyn loves kids and young people.

How was her March 24 Carnegie Hall solo concert “The Marvelous Marilyn Maye?”

It was magical. I was in the front row. She performed with the New York Pops, led by conductor Steven Reineke conducted, Tedd Firth, her music director/arranger played the piano, Tom Hubbard was on bass, and Mark McLean was on drums. Bob Mackie designed her gowns. Warren Buffett was in the audience and so many other people I have met over the decade I have known her. A lot of Broadway and Cabaret people were there. David Hyde Pierce was there. Jim Caruso. Max von Essen. A lot of entertainers were there. They understand her. They want to be her.  She received 12 standing ovations. She got a standing ovation when she made her entrance. One of the stagehands told her that had never happened.

Describe Marilyn’s sense of humor?

Quick. Current. She is just amazing. Some of my favorite times with her are in the car or plane, just talking with her. Nothing escapes her.

Would you say she lives totally in the moment?

She regards every day as a gift.

None of us are here forever. What will y0ur life be like without her?

That is a reality I don’t want to think about. I just want to live in today and enjoy every moment that I can with her. She is my family.

In summary, what have you learned from your friend?

Life’s a party. Enjoy every moment. Wring every ounce of happiness out of your everyday life and embrace every opportunity that presents itself to you. Don’t be afraid.








photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

On the Aisle Team

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