After 52 years in show business, Debbie Reynolds still has no intention of retiring.

"As George Burns said, 'Retire to what?' " Reynolds during a telephone interview with the Deseret News.

And talking with her, you find out pretty fast that she's probably just as busy now as she's ever been in her remarkable career. Or, as she puts it, "About the only thing I haven't done yet is take up rollerblading!"

Reynolds is in Salt Lake City this weekend where she'll perform with the Utah Symphony tonight and Saturday night in Abravanel Hall.

"I started doing live shows in 1962, but it's only about seven years that I've been doing symphony and concert dates. And I can tell you, there's nothing quite as exhilarating as performing with a 95-piece orchestra."

Reynolds' program with the Utah Symphony includes a set of Broadway songs, a medley of movie tunes and some country music. "I also do a comedy and singing impression of Barbra Streisand," Reynolds said.

Reynolds has also added a set of Judy Garland hits. "Judy and I were friends, and I wanted to add some of her songs to my show."

The 69-year-old entertainer has been crisscrossing the country, playing everywhere from Dallas to Boston to Los Angeles. And relishing every minute of it. "I enjoy visiting new places and performing for people. I'm a workaholic and a big ham.

"I'm a variety performer-singer, and there aren't a lot of us out there anymore. Tony Bennett is still performing, and there's Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and Johnny Mathis. But that's about all. We lost someone great when Mel Torme passed away."

Reynolds started in show business when she was 16. "I made movies for the first 20 years of my career," she said. "I also had a nightclub act, and I worked Las Vegas and played in theaters across America and in London."

In the early 1970s, Reynolds went to Broadway for the first time and starred in several smash hits. "I haven't done too many Broadway shows, because it's too damaging to your throat, since you have to commit to eight shows a week for two years."

Reynolds' stage credits include "Woman of the Year" and revivals of "Irene," for which she was nominated for a Tony Award, and "Annie Get Your Gun." "I did each of those shows for over two years," she said. "You end up losing 30 pounds, and you're so exhausted, you can't do anything else."

Reynolds has just finished shooting a movie for Disney, and on TV she has a recurring role on the NBC sitcom "Will & Grace," playing Grace's mother

Reynolds has also been actively involved in a project that's close to her heart. "I've been working on creating a museum in Hollywood for film memorabilia that I've collected through the years. I want to preserve the history of films from the silents to the present. It's taken a lot of time and effort, but we've finally got some ground near Grauman's Chinese Theater for the museum."

Reynolds is looking forward to performing for a Salt Lake audience again. "The last time I was here was nine years ago, when I played in 'The Unsinkable Molly Brown' in the Capitol Theatre."

And Reynolds admits that her favorite thing is to be in front of an audience. "For a performer, nothing is as exhilarating as a live audience and hearing people shout, 'We love you, Debbie!' "

The show starts at 8 both evenings. Tickets are $21 to $41 and are still available through ArtTix by calling 355-ARTS or 1-888-451-ARTS, or in person at the ArtTix outlets in Abravanel Hall and the Capitol Theatre. They can also be purchased online at www.utahsymphony.org


E-mail: ereichel@desnews.com