How did you get into acting, was there a particular performance you saw that resonated with you?
I’ve been wanting to be on Broadway for as long as I can remember. I think I came out of the womb acting, singing, and dancing. I loved watching old Shirley Temple and Disney movies and my parents took me to see local theatre a lot as a kid.
What has been your favourite role you have played and why?
Honestly, it’s like choosing your favourite child — they all are very special to me for different reasons. Sandy was my Broadway debut; Nellie was life-changing; Hope was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life; Bonnie was the first role I created; Cinderella was magical; Julia was the most fulfilling.
Where did you train?
I grew up taking voice and dance lessons in Minnesota, then went to college for a year at the University of a Wisconsin Stevens Point. I studied musical theatre there, but got offered a job interning at a professional theatre back in Minneapolis for a year. So, I took a year off school and feel like I learned mostly “on the job” through experience. I got another job offer after my internship, and then just kept working. I never actually went back to school.
Can you tell us about your current project?
I am currently touring with a concert series I co-created with my music director, Ben Rauhala, called the Broadway Princess Party. It’s me, Susan Egan (Broadway’s original Belle), and Courtney Reed (Broadway’s original Jasmine), singing the petticoats off every princess song in the book! We share hilarious and heartfelt stories about our experiences being actual Broadway Princesses and fans go crazy for it. It’s such a ball! Visit our website for upcoming holiday tour dates!
Where has been your favourite place to perform on stage and why?
I love Lincoln Center. I did South Pacific there in 2009 and feel like it’s been all downhill since then, hahaaa! Just kidding. Carnegie Hall is also simply magical.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work?
For me, it’s getting to inspire, challenge, or heal audiences through what I do and the story I get to tell onstage.
What’s been a funny moment for you on stage? Any mishaps you want to share!?
So many! I lost my wig during Grease once… it was in the final number when Sandy has changed into her black spandex and big hair. Max Crumm and I had a dance break in the number, where he dips me… and lo and behold, my wig fell off onstage!! There I am in a wig cap, trying to be Sexy Sandy, and he jumps in front of me, dancing with his back to the audience whispering, “Put it on! Put it on!” I swept my dead wig off the floor and flopped it back on my head for the rest of the song. When we took our bow, moments later, Max reached over and put his hand over my wig so it wouldn’t fall off again! 🙂
If you hadn’t have been an actor what would you be doing?
Probably teaching dance at a studio for kids or opening a cupcake truck or bakery!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Listen to music, bake, walk my dog, watch tv or visit new restaurants with my husband, tea/coffee dates with girlfriends, scrapbook.
Can you tell us about your Grease: You’re The One That I want! experience?
That was crazy – I never would have guessed that would be my path to Broadway. I’m so glad I did it, but it was a pretty stressful experience. And we were all so young. All the contestants lived together in a big mansion in Bel Air, and we got along fairly well considering the circumstances, even tho they always tried to pin us against each other. We were handed an envelope with our assigned song to perform every week, we were given nicknames (I was ”Small Town Sandy”) and costume colours, I got my first spray tan — it was all pretty wild.
Do you think more Theatre should be on TV and Screens like Bandstand coming to Movie Theatres?
Yes!!! I think it’s such a tremendous way to share the gift of theatre for people who may not ever get to come to NYC to see a live Broadway show. Many people think it will deter ticket buyers from paying to see a show live if they can see it in a movie…. and maybe that’s true… But I will say, I got more social media comments in one night when Bandstand was in theatres than I did in a month of the Broadway run. There’s something magical about experiencing something live, and I think patrons who love the arts will still buy tickets to see their favourite shows live. And a film version may actually help attract people who aren’t already avid theatre fans.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to get into the theatre industry?
Work hard, be patient, be humble, learn and train, be yourself, and plow your own path. There is no 5-step plan to follow for “success” in showbiz. Everyone has a very different story – dream big and create your own!
Who are your influences and inspirations?
Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, Kelli O’Hara, Sutton Foster, Victoria Clark, Shirley Jones…
What’s your go to song for auditions or just singing in the shower?
Till There Was You or Not For The Life Of Me
Is there a role (regardless of gender) you would love to play in a musical?
Marian Paroo in The Music Man.
Where can people follow your work on Twitter/Facebook/YouTube etc?
And Playbill has this great thing called PlaybillUniverse. Type in my name and get all my upcoming appearances/performances around the globe!