1. How did you find Rent and decide to audition for it? what songs did you use to audition for Rent?
i had actually auditioned for RENT a year before we opened at NY Theatre workshop. They did a 3 week workshop in 95 and i went in a couple of times for the part of Maureen and didn't book it. At that time the character of Maureen sang WITHOUT YOU about missing Joanne and I had to audition with that song. I'll never forget getting the tape in the mail and rehearsing in my little studio thinking what a cool song that was...anyway..a year later I auditioned for Jonathan Larson for another show downtown and once again...didn't book it! But when NY Theatre Workshop decided to give RENT a full production. I think Jonathan remembered me as well as Jim Nicola (Artistic Director of NYTW) and they pulled me in for the ensemble. I actually sang Tumbling Dice by the Rolling Stones :-) and finally booked it! I was so happy because you could just tell that it was going to be really cool!
2. What were beginning days at Rent like? What was the whole creative process like?
The beginning days were SCARY! I hadn't been in a musical in a really, really long time so I wasn't the quickest music reader but fortunately Tim Weil, our music director, is super laid back and cool so he had a lot of patience with all of us. The process was very open..meaning Michael Greif really let us find our own way with the characters. He was very clear with the structure that he wanted for the play but let us fill in the details. Also I may add that the beginning days were also fabulous as there were hunky guys to look at every day in the rehearsal room!!!! Taye...Jesse...Byron..Adam...Gilles...:-)
3. What song is your favorite in Rent, and which one do you enjoy performing the most?
It changes all the time but I always seem to come back to Without You...it touches my heart. It's so simple and flowing and truthful and Jonathan's soft side. I of course love performing TAKE ME OR LEAVE ME as I still learn new things about singing every time I perform it. And working with Gwennie is so inspiring.
4. What was it like when you first went on as Maureen, were you nervous?
The thought I would die the first time I went on. I wasn't as scared to perform Over The Moon as I consider myself an actor first/singer second so I knew if I screwed up in the performance piece I could cover it but Take Me was very scary...
5. Even though Maureen is an awesome role do you ever get sick of playing it night after night? What techniques dose she use to keep the role fresh and new, allowing you still to have fun with it?
Sure...some nights are harder than others but honestly..once you get out there and the music starts going you can't help but rise to the occasion. And then you see the faces of the kids who've waited forever to check the show out and you have to give 100%. Also, the cast gets along really well so we raise each other up. Plus..you physically can't sing some of those songs unless you're 100% there as you'll hurt yourself otherwise.
6. In what ways do you relate to maureen? are there any ways that you are like her?
I relate to Maureen in a lot of ways..i think all of us want to be the center of attention at some point..the only difference is Maureen wants to be in the center ALL THE TIME!!! I relate to her drive to perform and express her ideas. i love her zest for life and i strive for that kind of energy in my own life. Although I'm a straight woman I can relate to her love for Joanne..her fears of really committing and remaining open.....She is very selfish though...I hope I don't come across that way!
7. What was your most embarassing moment on stage?
I've literally fallen on my ass a couple of times! That's kinda embarrassing Most of the time though when something goes wrong..as long as noone gets hurt...it's more fun than embarrassing!
8. Which show do you feel was the most emotional one for you?
Oh God.....it's hard to describe what singing the show the night after Jonathan died felt like. Suffice to say...I will never experience something like that ever again. It was a tragedy and an honor at the same time.
9. Who in Rent have you most enjoyed working with?
I honestly can't say there is one particular person I've enjoyed working with. i thank God every day i had the chance to work with Jonathan before he passed to other side. And there is a special bond with the original 15 cast members. i keep in touch with some more than others but we're all apart of that experience so it keeps us entwined in this lifetime. Mark Setlock and I went to drama school together so I love seeing him every night. And this new cast is just TOO CRAZY AND FUN!
10. Do you like having a main role now than playing the ensemble?
It's hard to say which role I like better. I still feel in a way I'm filling in for Idina. When you originate a role it's always more fulfulling as you had a bigger part in the "creative process." For this reason I'll always love Mrs. Cohen. Plus...looks are deceiving. In the ensemble role iI was belting all the higher choral parts and running around switching hats. The Role is very demanding but the audience doesn't see that as you don't spend as much time in the "spotlight." Now...don't get me wrong..hanging out in the spotlight surrounded by people and music you love is all good but the little story above proves the cliche "that there are no small roles."
11. Who do you look up to? Did anyone inspire you to be an actress?
Many actors and people have inspired me along this journey...most names you would not know...they were my teachers, fellow classmates and friends. I think my Mom has been my biggest inspiration. But that said...when I was a little girl I was Princess Lea for Halloween about 4 years in a row. Meryl Streep rocks. Cherry Jones inspires me as a person as well as an actor. And I'm in love with Hedwig! If you want inspiration go see that show.
12. Where did you receive your dramatic eduation?
I received a BA in Drama and Classics from Tufts University and then went onto conservatory at American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University.
13. What made you want to pursue an acting career?
I have no idea why I've always wanted to be an actor. I think when we are young we try to find ways of expressing ourselves and in the ways were are most successful we pursue. I was a good student but wasn't headed for a Rhodes Scholarship...I was a good athlete but probably wouldn't end up at Wimbeldon but the school play is where I was "special". That sounds a bit silly but it's the truth. It was the one place I felt most at home in my own mind and body and one of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was when Bill Moyers was interviewing Joseph Campbell (a professor of mythology)...Mr. Campbell said the secret to a happy life is "to follow your bliss." Now following your bliss does not mean life is easy but it's truthful. That is what acting is for me...a sometimes very hard road to bliss!
14. How did you get your first big break in the business?
Did I get my first big break? I'm just a working actor waiting for the next gig! :-)
15. Any advice for other aspiring actors and actresses?
The only advice I can give is to just do it....remained involved with your craft all the time...take classes...do a free reading downtown...play in a band....read plays...go to movies....and don't listen to anyone except yourself. So many people will tell you you can't do it. Smile at them and keep on walking!
16. What's your favorite role that you have played? Are there any roles that you really want to play? Now the standard answer to this question is I loved all the characters I've played for different reasons...yup, that's true...BUT...i really loved playing Anne Frank a couple of summers ago...and I would love to play Juliet before I look too old!
17. Do you have any upcoming projects?
I'm working on some of my own music..which is coming along...SLOWLY!
18. What are your goals right now and do you feel that you have reached previous goals?
My goals right now are to remain open to what's coming next...whatever that means. I would love to do a show where I don't have to sing 8 times a week. I love RENT but speaking softly on a movie set opposite Brad Pitt looks rather appealing!