…and make “Lolly” your friend
When did you get introduced to “A Chorus Line?” What was your reaction? If you were young, did it intimidate you or make you fearful of pursuing a career in such a competitive field?
My first true experience in an actual chorus line was in Lyric Theatre’s first production of WILL ROGERS FOLLIES (1996). I was the youngest in the cast, as well as the shortest, I was on the end of the line. It was my first Lyric Theatre show and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I honestly didn’t know much about the show, A CHORUS LINE until 2001, when Lyric Theatre had it lined up for their summer season. I had always heard about it and I knew it was a show that was important in musical theatre history. I also had heard the song, “One,” but I was pretty oblivious to what the show was really about. I remember someone saying there was a song in A CHORUS LINE about “Tits & Ass” and so in the future, when anyone mentioned A CHORUS LINE… to sound like a savvy musical theatre buff , I would say, “Oh, that’s that tits & ass show!” Well, as I learned later, “that ain’t it kid!”
In the spring of 2001, I was in college, and my professor, Tamara Long, suggested that I audition for Lyric Theatre’s production of A CHORUS LINE and that I look at the character of Val. So, I got the Original Broadway Cast recording and found out Val WAS the “Tits & Ass” girl! Leading up to the audition, I listened to that CD over and over again, preparing, and praying, as the lyric suggests: “God, I hope I get it!” I auditioned onstage, like the characters do in the show, and I specifically remember thinking: “I’m auditioning for a show that’s about auditioning for a show. If I get it, remember this feeling!” I felt really good about my audition, and I ended up getting the role of Val!
So, really my first true experience of the show was being IN it! And even though I was young, it didn’t intimidate me or make me fearful of pursuing a career in the competitive world of show-business, because I was hungry for success! Right out of college, I moved straight to New York City, and then I began to learn the truth of the business and the stories in A CHORUS LINE began to make a whole helluva lot more sense…
Do you have a personal connection to the piece? If so, please elaborate?
If I’m really honest with myself, I have a bitter/sweet relationship with A CHORUS LINE. It’s a gritty piece of art. It exposes a lot of truth. And as the old saying goes, ‘Sometimes the truth is hard to hear.’ Sometimes I examine the show and I relate to the character of Al, thinking, “What am I doing in show-business?!” And other times I think, “There is absolutely nowhere else I would rather be than right here on this stage.”
As our amazing musical director, David Andrews Rogers, says, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” A CHORUS LINE is 100% musical, in that it absolutely requires the best dancing, singing, and acting a performer can bring to the stage, which is exhausting, yet exhilarating!
What do you like the most about playing Sheila? /
What’s the biggest challenge related to playing Sheila?
Sheila IS a challenge… characteristically speaking in the show, AND literally to me!
What I like most about playing Sheila is the challenge!
In my career, Sheila is unlike any other character I’ve had to play before, and I love stretching my comfort level as an actress. I enjoy digging for her rich dramatic depth and coming up with a resplendent disaster.
A big challenge in general with all of the characters in A CHORUS LINE is keeping them real. In a way, A CHORUS LINE was groundbreaking for the concept of reality entertainment. These are real people telling real stories, and every role challenges the limits of the singer/dancer/actor to the ultimate. Sheila has been around the block and has a real story to tell layered with drama and heartbreak.
You played the role of Val in a previous Lyric production of “A Chorus Line.” Can you talk about some of the differences in the characters and has playing a different person/point-of-view in the show changed your perspective on it?
It’s not the different character point-of-view that has changed my perspective on the show, it’s the 10 years that have gone by that have changed my perspective on the show.
Since Lyric’s last production of A CHORUS LINE (2001), I’ve lived in & out of New York City 8 years, I’ve gone to countless auditions and classes, I’ve eaten a lot of ramen noodles, I’ve had injuries, I’ve worked temp jobs, I’ve wondered where my next pay check will come from, I’ve questioned my career decisions which were based off of a teenager’s dreams… But, I’ve also performed for thousands of people and traveled to amazing places. I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible artists who have challenged me, encouraged me to grow, and who have enriched my life more than I could possibly know. And ultimately, becoming like family to me! All of this and a passionate desire is what drives home the idea of, “What I Did For Love.”
Simply through time, experience, and age, I relate more to the show now than ever before. And I imagine as time marches on, so will my admiration and understanding of A CHORUS LINE.
Any favorite musical numbers in the show?
A CHORUS LINE is full of musical gems. I really admire Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban for creating a musical masterpiece! I personally really enjoy the entire ‘Montage’ section, which is where every character is flashing back to their childhood, sharing the journey of adolescence & surprise! It’s a fun and energetic part of the show full of 70’s grooves & a cast full of smiles! It makes me happy!
Can you discuss your experiences so far working with David Marquez and the rest of the cast and crew?
David Marquez is an incredibly passionate dancer and was extremely insightful on opening my eyes to the character of Sheila. We were also extremely fortunate to have the assistance of Halden Michaels who performed in 2 touring companies and the Papermill Playhouse revival of A CHORUS LINE. His wonderful knowledge and love for the show is amazing and he has been so delightful to work with in keeping the show true to it’s origins. Our musical director, David Andrews Rogers, is absolutely brilliant. I adore his love and dedication to the music and to the cast. He conducts with such a full heart, and the music flowers up from the orchestra-pit with so much resonating love. And, I can honestly say that I’m always proud to wear a Jeffrey Meek costume! I applaud artistic director, Michael Baron, for choosing this incredible show to wrap up Lyric Theatre’s 2011 summer season, and I’m eternally grateful to have the honor to be a part of it!
Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
I have heard many stories that A CHORUS LINE was the first show they ever saw, or the show that made them want to be in the business, or the show that changed their life forever because it affected them so deeply. This show is truly magical and heartfelt. If you love musicals or you’ve never seen one in your life, I’d say this show is for you.
UPCOMING SUMMER 2011 @ LYRIC THEATRE!
The role of, “EVELYN NESBIT” in
RAGTIME: July 19th – July 23rd
A CHORUS LINE:
August 2nd – August 6th
★ PROMO VIDEO! – (Sooo cute!)
★ NEWS OK – (A fun video podcast!)
★ KSBI Interview w/ Kristy Cates, Kristi Forsch & Lexi Windsor
★ UNCOVERING OKLAHOMA
★ NEWS OK
★ IonOklahoma Magazine
★ OKC THEATRE SCENE
★ The OKLAHOMAN
★ OKLAHOMA GAZETTE
★ LYRIC THEATRE OF OKLAHOMA★
…and one more review 😉
Laugh a lot at ’60s romp
By Joan Gilmore
The Journal Record
Posted: 08:29 PM Friday, April 1, 2011
Boeing Boeing is a 1960s play with a title inspired by the planes that began to take off in that “jet age.” Back then, airlines didn’t have attendants. They had beautiful stewardesses of many nationalities. Put them all together and you have a hilarious comedy. Head for Lyric Theatre at the Plaza and enjoy the fun. The play will be onstage until April 16.The plot involves a handsome American architect, Bernard, living in Paris and “engaged” with and to three airline stewardesses, Gloria, the American; Gabriella, the Italian, and Gretchen, the German. How does he do it? He has the schedules for all three airlines and never lets more than one of them be in Paris at the same time. The fun begins with airline schedules changing unexpectedly. (Aren’t we all familiar with this?).
Bernard has a housekeeper, Bertha, a French woman, and he has an old college friend, Robert, who comes to Paris and visits him. In the original film, Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis played the male roles. When I saw this comedy in New York last year, television and stage star Christine Baranski was hysterical as the housekeeper.
New York actor Matthew Montelongo portrays the bachelor romancer, Bernard. Another Matthew, Matthew Alvin Brown, frequent Lyric actor, is the shy, naive Robert from Wisconsin. The three beautiful stewardesses are Kristy Cates as Gloria, Kristi Forsch as Gabriella and Lexi Windsor as Gretchen. Lyn Cramer, longtime actress and teacher at University of Oklahoma, is grumbling Bertha.
Windsor and Brown stole the show, with Cramer pushing their hilarious roles. Windsor is a true Valkyrie, with strong accent, good physical skills (you have to see it to appreciate this) and true beauty. A veteran of Lyric and Broadway, Windsor strides about, claps the men heavily on their shoulders, hails her strong ways and her ownership of Bernard – until she falls in love with Robert. Windsor is a perfect Gretchen, even showing some softness.
Brown comes on as a young virgin bachelor who doesn’t understand how someone could be engaged – and love – three women at the same time. His puzzlement, innocence and reactions to the three beauties steal the show. He ends up with one of them – but you have to see the show to find out.
Cramer, in maid uniform, a hairdo with dark bangs and a sour mood, draws laughs every time she comes on stage. She puts up with Bernard’s shenanigans, although she’s not really fond of any of his girlfriends.
The three get their schedules changed and, thank heavens, Bernard’s home has five doors – kitchen, bath and bedrooms. There is much in-and-out activity of the bedrooms when all three stewardesses arrive, one right after the other. The potential for all three women meeting head on is exciting.
At first, Montelongo didn’t seem comfortable in his role, but then he almost overacted to the play’s riotous events. Cates is a giggly, cheerleader-type American gal who should wear rose-colored glasses. A true sexpot is Forsch, who exudes her sexuality and hot Italian temper. It is an impressive threesome, but Windsor soared in her role.
Michael Baron, artistic director of Lyric, directed, and worked his cast well. The comedy started off a little slow, but grew in strength and laughter, moving the plot along smoothly. The audience was still laughing when the play ended, as the actors returned to accept their applause – each actor entering from a different door on stage. Great fun.
For tickets, call (405) 524-9312.
Boeing Boeing concludes the season for Lyric at the Plaza. Next up for theater audiences are the four summer productions downtown at Civic Center Music Hall. It’s not too soon to order season tickets for Oliver, Hairspray, Ragtime and A Chorus Line.
March 30th – April 16th, 2011
LYRIC AT THE PLAZA, OKLAHOMA CITY, OK
Tickets & More Information:
I had the honor of attending:
Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Anna Sui NY Fall 2011!
The fashion was amazing, the models super sexy, the celebrity sightings were fun, I ran into some old friends, & met some new ones! T’was a chic night!!!
Check out the videos:
AND, check out NEW YORK MAGAZINE’s awesome slide-show here:
…and ANNA SUI, Front Row: