I heard that you had the idea of being in this show before it was even announced?
Yes! A friend put the song “And They’re Off” on a musical theatre mixtape for me when I was in high school, and I bought the album of A NEW BRAIN when I was 15 or something. I was obsessed with it in high school, and I sang, “I’d Rather Be Sailing” for many an audition. Then last year I went to see TICK, TICK…BOOM! with Lin-Manuel Miranda. I left and was on the train going home and I was like, “Oh my god, I would love to do one of these Off-Center things.” I was dying to do a musical again.
So I was listening to A NEW BRAIN the next day- I sang through the whole score in my apartment. I was obviously still obsessed with it, and then I was like, “Ok, I will wait a week and if I still feel like I really want to do this I will email Jeanine [Tesori] and ask her if they have a schedule for next year, and if not, if they would want to do A NEW BRAIN. This is where it will sound like a total untruth… five days later, without me asking her, she emailed me asking me to do the show. Isn’t that so weird?! So I was like, “Uhhhhh, YEAH!” So we decided that we’d have to meet for lunch, and a couple weeks later we got together and I was like, “This is so crazy, because I was going to ask you to do this exact role in this exact show next summer!” It’s a weird, crazy coincidence. And she said, “Well, it’s meant to be.” And so then, at that time this was sort of an idea in her head and so she had to get Bill to sort of sign off on it. So she contacted him and then we were kind of rolling.
Wow, that’s insane!
So crazy. It’s SO crazy and the way it had all sort of fell, coming together and the cast is so phenomenal and everybody is having a great time and I was excited to do it obviously because I’m a fan of the show, but I didn’t know, really, until the first day of rehearsal. I had lunch with James Lapine two months or so before we started rehearsal and he mentioned that he and Bill [Finn] were sort of interested in looking at the piece again and he didn’t get a lot of chances to work on it when it first happened and there were things that they wanted to do differently and I was like ‘Okay, cool.’ And I had shown up at rehearsal and they had these very clear ideas of it. They had some ideas on how they wanted to change it and in little ways, in small but in big ways. So, I had not anticipated when we started that we were going to be creating a new version of this show, which makes it even more exciting.
Well, let’s talk a little more about James Lapine. Is it intindating working with him?
I’ve heard that. I’ve heard that he’s like an intimidating guy and I think for me, it’s his resume I find intimidating, but from the moment that I’ve met him he emailed me back in January and was like “Hey, we’re going to work together. Why don’t we get lunch?” And he was very low-key and really cool and just excited and you know, he’s been nothing but lovely. They came in two-weeks before we started rehearsal and blocked out the whole show with a group of students to sort of get a leg up on our rehearsal process so they would have a general sense of where we’re walking and who was coming in where and all of that stuff.
So, I just so respect and admire that sort of forethought and that pre-planning and I just feel… I’ve done a couple of one-night only moments before where you rehearse for a week and do it on one-night. Obviously, Encores! has done it a million times and so they have it down but, James coming in with Josh [Prince], our choreographer, two weeks before and sort of planning it all out it just makes us feel so much more secure and safe. It’s like there is a big safety net of them sort of knowing where we are going and where we will advance too. It’s amazing.
Yeah, Encores! is known for the quick process, but you’ve been jumping into all kinds of projects very quickly recently- HAMILTON, HOW TO SUCCEED… Do those experiences make this seem a little less daunting?
I know, it’s so funny to have the last three months be filled with musicals being done in like a week and just perform them. Yeah, because with HAMILTON I had two-days of rehearsal and then HOW TO SUCCEED with a week of rehearsal and now this. I just love musicals and I feel like perhaps my deep hunger and desire of having not done one for a long-time has made it easier for me to digest and jump back in, because I am jumping back in with having been gone for so long. I have a very deep, deep passionate desire to go into it, so there is kind of like a big want to do them. That probably makes them easier to do it so fast.
I try to learn all of my stuff before the first day of rehearsal, which is also super helpful. Just sort of knowing the music and knowing the basic lines, you know, it doesn’t have to be perfect, but just sort of going in and knowing ahead of time. That’s sort of my little trick. Because essentially you don’t have time to rehearse acting moments and stuff, so the more you can come in off book, the better chance you have of finding some of the acting moments. There is less of, “Is my mark here?” and more of “What are we doing here? What am I doing here?”