Exclusive Interview With Lizzie Markson About Her Role As Sophie In Mama Mia’s Final Tour

(PCM) It is time to say farewell to the well-loved tour of “Mama Mia,” a show that has for decades been making memories for fans of Abba and musical theater.

Front and center in the role of bride-to-be Sophie, is 23-year-old Lizzie Markson, who has fond memories of her childhood and teen years in Allentown, PA., and always dreamt of an opportunity like she is having with the current national tour, The Mama Mia Farewell Tour, which began in October.

Before being chosen for the current tour, which comes to the Merriam Theatre in Philadelphia, for a holiday engagement from Dec. 27-31, she was familiar with Abba’s music, and the movie starring Amanda Seyfried as Sophie, but had not yet seen the Broadway show. Now, she is thrilled to be exciting audiences far and wide. “I had seen the movie, but when the tour came along, I didn’t really remember it,” Markson recently recalled from a tour stop in Vancouver, B.C.

Q: Tell me how this amazing role happened for you?

LIZZIE MARKSON: I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Elon University in North Carolina in May [2016]. I majored in musical theater. My friends urged me to audition, saying they thought I’d be good for it. I also listened to an Abba cover band called “A’Teens,” while I was growing up, so I knew the music.

Q: Tell me about growing up in Allentown PA.

LM: it was a lovely childhood and I really love it there now. This may sound annoying but when I was growing up I wanted to be somewhere else. But now I appreciate growing up there.

Q: Why?

LM: There was great theater, arts, and dance training and a perfect community for me. Parkland High School where I graduated had a great theater department and a wonderful dance studio. It is an inspiring place.

Q: While you are traveling so much through July 30, 2017, on this tour, how often do you get home?

LM: Allentown is a centrally-located place so I went home often. I am going home for five days for our first break.

Q: Who still lives in Allentown from your family?

LM: My parents. I also have a sister who goes to medical school in Philadelphia and a brother in New York. So, Allentown is very convenient gathering place for everyone.

Q: What do you love about theater?

LM: So many things. I love that it let’s people – from so many different walks of life, perspectives, backgrounds and races — come together for two hours and get lost in a story.

Q: What else?

LM: I think that stories are incredibly powerful tools. Stories are able to carry out many functions — heal, start conversations, and ultimately make you feel something. It is super important to keep the arts alive right now, and I think theater has a special way of touching and reaching people.

Q: What about “Mama Mia?”

LM: This show in particular is really special because we get to bring it to so many different corners of the continent, not just the 10 blocks that make up Broadway in New York City. It also lets people smile and have fun for two hours. Especially, with the climate of our country and the election – this lets people escape and have fun and forget whatever else is going on in their lives.

Q: Tell me about how you see your character of Sophie?

LM: Sophie, the bride-to-be. She sets the whole show in motion, and I think I enjoy playing her so much because she has a child-like optimism and hopefulness and thinks everything will go perfectly. Of course it won’t. But she is doing her best to keep all the chaos at bay that she has unintentionally created, but she finds herself unable to do so.

Q: I know theater lovers who have seen “Mama Mia,” many, many times, so they sing along and dance in the aisles, and think of it as an old friend. They enjoy the music, and the characters, and keep going back.

LM: I hear very often that this is a favorite show for many people, and they say they have seen it many times. A lot of people have specific memories of Abba’s music and that’s why they are attached to the show or specific memories of seeing the show on Broadway.

Q: Do you have any favorite fan stories?

LM: Yes. A woman came up to me after the show the other night to say ‘She said this was the first show she had seen with her mother who passed away several years ago; so now she will see the show every year when it tours in honor of her mom and it makes her happy.

Q: What is one of the best aspects of being in this musical?

LM: Well, people really, really, really love this show. People in the show are itching for it to start they are just so excited. So it is really great to be part of a show that people are that excited about.

Q: Do you ever get homesick on the road?

LM: Actually, two weeks ago I started getting very homesick. It’s such a new experience and a big part of it is that things are constantly changing. You have no home base, but it’s in a different sense than I am used to. You are not in the same bed every night, and you have to cart your things around every day or every few days. All of this makes you crave home.

Q: Your career really took off quickly.

LM: Yes, I just graduated earlier this year, and I am having the time of my life. When I get a little tired I can say that it’s easy to crave the idea of home. The cast is really wonderful and now at this point being with all of them feels like a family. I feel comfortable and at home here, even though I often miss my family.

Q: Since you are from Allentown, who is planning to come and see you perform in Philadelphia?

LM: A lot of my really close friends from home and the local Jewish Community Center are taking a bus trip to Philly to see the show. My parents, friends and people I haven’t talked to since high school will be there. I will probably have someone at each of the Philadelphia shows – which is super exciting.

Q: Have your parents seen you in the show already?

LM: Yes, they came to see me in Tucson, Arizona, at the end of October.

Q: When you are not rehearsing, performing or traveling how do you spend your time?

LM: Exploring a new place that I’m in since we are going to some really wonderful places. I enjoy running – it is a nice and visceral way to get a sense of a place and breathe it in. I also seek out yoga studios or funky cafes. I have loved Victoria, B.C. it is cold, but it feels good, and it is absolutely beautiful

Q: Do you eventually want to perform in a Broadway musical?

LM: Well, it’s never been something I was set on. What I want professionally is to feel fulfilled, and artistically stimulated and happy. I’ve never personally felt a super important pull to be on Broadway; so if I am able to continue to do what I love to do, I will be elated.

For information on the tour please go to: http://www.mammamiaontour.com/mm/

For more information about Lizzie, go to: www.lizziemarkson.com

The post Exclusive Interview With Lizzie Markson About Her Role As Sophie In Mama Mia’s Final Tour appeared first on The World Of Pop Culture.

Did The Cast Of Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’ Go Too Far In Calling Out Vice President Elect Mike Pence?

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(PCM) The cast of Broadway’s “Hamilton” recently stirred up quite a bit of controversy when they made the decision to call out Vice President elect Mike Pence, who was attending a performance, on some issues they had regarding his election platforms. When Pence first entered the theater there was a mixture of both cheers and jeers, but that is not that surprising, however many feel that Pence should not have been put on the spot in such a way.

During curtain call perform Brandon Victor Dixon (who plays Aaron Burr in the show) noticed that Pence was about to make his exit from the theater and stopped him with a message from the cast. Dixon explained to Pence that the cast of “Hamilton” represents a very diverse group of individuals that tell this particular American story. He reiterated that they were alarmed by the income administration, people of all colors, creeds, and orientations—and urged him to uphold their “inalienable rights.”

Many felt that this was neither the time nor the place for Pence to be called-out, so to say, on these types of issues, while others feel that the “Hamilton” cast took a brave step exercising their right to free speech. Dixon told Broadway.com,”It was a message from the producers the creative and the cast. If you have differences, say something! What better place than on this stage telling this story with these people? I hope he thinks of us every time he has to deal with an issue or talk about a bill or present anything.” On the other hand, it is hard to even begin to imagine what Pence much have felt like in that moment, as it could be viewed as a form of public harassment. 

President-Elect Trump was not pleased by the entire ordeal and took to his Twitter account to urge the “Hamilton” cast to issue an apology to Mike Pence. Some Trump supporters were even calling for a boycott of the “Hamilton” show.  Pence himself released a statement saying “I know this is a very disappointing time for people that did not see their candidate win in this national election. I know that this is a very anxious time for some people. My daughter and I and her cousins really enjoyed the show. Hamilton is just an incredible production and incredibly talented people. It was a real joy to be there.” He also went on to say that he “wasn’t offended” by the cast’s statement at the curtain call, or the audience’s booing as he entered the theater: “I nudged my kids and reminded them, that’s what freedom sounds like”. 

“Hamilton” actor Dixon appeared on CBS This Morning to further address some of the controversy saying there was nothing to apologize for and the statement was important to them and they wanted it. He further commented “Art is meant to bring people together, it’s meant to raise consciousness. And when you have a platform…I told [Hamilton producer] Jeffrey Seller after the show, I said, ‘I applaud you all for not throwing away your shot, for taking a moment to spread your message of love and unity.” They have also invited President-Elect Trump out to see a show, as they feel it is truly important for everyone to see a show like theirs, as it’s power in truly undeniable. Sounds great, if we could ever find tickets!!  

Do you think that the cast and crew of “Hamilton” went too far by putting Vice President-Elect Mike Pence on the spot, especially in front of his children and loved ones?  Or do you feel that the cast of “Hamilton” used their platform wisely to get a point across?  

 

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Love Is In The Air For An American In Paris Leading Lady Sara Esty

04(PCM) Before her 30th birthday Sara Esty has discovered that dreams do come true. The lovely and accomplished ballet dancer, is playing the leading role of Lise Dassin in the current tour of “An American in Paris,” the Tony-Award-winning musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl, and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war.

Acclaimed director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon brings the magic and romance of Paris into perfect harmony with unforgettable songs from George and Ira Gershwin in the show that earned more awards than any other musical in the 2015 season. With rich storytelling and ravishing and nuanced dance numbers and memorable show tunes, the show is, as the Gershwin brothers would say, simply s’wonderful.The show comes to the Academy of Music from Tuesday, Nov. 22-Sunday, Nov. 27, the perfect time to enjoy this romantic show with family and friends during the holiday season.

The lovely Esty, a former soloist with the Miami City Ballet, received her training at the Maine State Ballet, the School of American Ballet, and the Miami City Ballet School. She received a Princess Grace Fellowship Award for excellence in dance. This accomplished dancer has performed various works by legendary choreographers, including George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, and Christopher Wheeldon.

Q: The current national tour of “An American in Paris” just started. How long have you been with this musical?

SARA ESTY: I have been with the show since the inception; about two and a half years.

Q: Tell me about the early beginnings of this show for you?

SE: I started rehearsals in New York and then we had a two-month trial run in Paris, which was incredible. After that we brought it to Broadway. So, I have seen it in all of its stages of development –- which has been thrilling for me.

Q: Have you had the same part all along?

SE: No. I started in Paris as a stand for the lead, and I had the honor of performing the show a few times in Paris. I went on twice a week and was in the ensemble, and now I’ve graduated to playing the lead; it has been an awesome ride. Ironically, my current leading man in the tour, Garen Scribner, was the alternate for the leading role in the beginning.

Q: Please tell me about your background.

SE: I grew up in a small town Gorham, Maine, which is about 15 minutes outside of Portland. My identical two sister, Leigh-Ann, and I started dancing at the age of three. After high school I had to decide if I wanted to pursue dancing, or college.

Q : Your decision was…

SE: Dancing. Basically, at age 18, and right out of high school I started auditioning for dance companies and was accepted into the Miami City Ballet. I was there for 10 years, and my sister, who is also my best friend, got a job dancing there as well.

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Q: How did you wind up performing in musicals?

SE: I’ve always loved the performing arts and Broadway, and I have also long enjoyed singing. I was in the chorus and chamber choir in high school, but I never knew that I would have an opportunity to exercise all of my passions in one outlet.

Q: How did “An American in Paris” come about for you?

SE: I heard about the great names behind the show. The idea of entering the world of a big Broadway musical really got me excited. I auditioned, and almost three years later, here I am.

Q: Generations of movie musical lovers know the show from the Gene Kelley version. What has this experience been for you doing it live each night?

SE: We really do love doing it. It’s a beautiful and an important story today – especially today when there is so much pain, war, and hate in the world, and so it’s about acknowledging that love is so integral to each of us and that it can conquer all. It feels really good to relay that message to audiences everywhere.

Q: The themes are truly universal; and it appeals to people who enjoy a wide range of the performing arts.

SE: Yes. I agree. I often talk to people who say ‘I’m not much of a ballet person,’ but I loved this show. Everyone has his or her own opinion, but it seems that our story is not only a big Broadway musical, it is telling an important story through movement. It’s so much more than people expect, so people often tell me that they are pleasantly surprised by how much they are captivated by every aspect of the show.

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Q: So what is your sister doing these days?

SE: Happily she is on tour with me.

Q: That’s wonderful.

SE: She stayed with the Miami City Ballet for two extra years, and when I told her they were started auditioning performers for this tour, she said she was ready to leave the ballet company. She auditioned and was given the part of my alternate, so she goes on a couple times a week. I am over the moon that we are back together. We are best friends and one another’s biggest supporters. What they say is true about twins, it is an Indescribable connection. For us to experience that same character in the same show is amazing and remarkable. I love that we are back together sharing this incredible experience.

Q: Have your mom and dad seen this show?

SE: I can’t even count how many times. Both of my parents went to the recent opening in Boston a few weeks ago and I know that my mom is coming to Philadelphia, and that my dad will come back to see it again, soon. I have a feeling they are definitely going to be our tour groupies.

Q: So, why should people come to see the show in Philadelphia and other stops on the tour?

SE: Well, like I was saying, this is a story everyone can relate to in some way, shape or form.

Q: Why do you feel that way?

SE: I say that because everyone has gone through hard times and has had to rebuild after that and they come out of that hardship a better and stronger person.

Q: How do you relate this to the show?

SE: Our characters are rebuilding after a time of no hope, doubt, fear and terror – and they discover that love does triumph after all. We can all kind of relate to that. If you love a big Broadway musical, and a good story, and embrace the idea of love you should come to this show for sure.

Q: How do you spend your rare free time?

SE: It’s so funny because we are just kind of getting into our routine of having days off. So I will try to find local places for a massage, and experience fun local restaurants and markets. We have been to Buffalo, Hartford and Boston, and Philadelphia is next. I want to see as much of cities we are going as possible. I haven’t been to most of them. I know that a lot of our cast members keep journals, and I have been taking a lot of videos so maybe I can put something together on touring unique places.

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Q: How long do you plan to be with this tour?

SE: I signed on for a year, so that takes me to October 2017. The tour is growing. In fact, it is opening in London in March, which is really exciting. There have also been talks about taking it all over the world, because the show is so amazing and everyone – far and wide –seems to really love it.

Q: I hear the excitement in your voice for dancing. Could you imagine a world in which you did not dance?

SE: No, not really. I have often said that it is probably something that I have to do. It is such a big passion of mine, I honestly can’t imagine my life without it. I am the worst relaxer you will ever meet. I do love having a day off here and there, but after an extended period of time I get really antsy. I am always much happier when I am dancing and when I am surrounded by music; it just makes me happy and fulfills me as a person.

Q: So what do you see for your future?

SE: After I am done with this show, I would love to do another musical. I hope to go back to New York and see what’s out there for me. I am enjoying the acting and singing, so I will see where this takes me. I can’t see not having dancing in my life or not being in the entertainment field in general.

Q: Why is that?

SE: It’s just in my bones, in my heart and in my soul. I have to pinch myself on a daily basis to believe this is what I do every day. The work is hard, don’t get me wrong, but – it just feels so gratifying and fulfilling. I love that I get to tell these beautiful stories and help transport us from our daily lives. People call it work; but to me it feels incredible.
For further information about “An American in Paris,” please go to: www.kimmelcenter.org

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Batman Gets A Musical Parody In The Style Of “Hamilton”!

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(PCM) The Broadway musical “Hamilton” is all the rage and of course the recently released “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice” is blowing up at the box office, so it is no surprise that the internet would eventually pair these two juggernauts together, because hey, it’s the internet … why not?

Batman has gotten the musical parody treatment with “Batlexander Manilton” which dead-on mimics the opening song from the Broadway show “Hamilton”. Trust us, this will be stuck in your head for days! The most hilarious part is just how well the parody works out, as both Batman and Hamilton were orphans who were forced to overcome their disadvantages in life by both working harder and being smarter than everyone else.

Enjoy!

The post Batman Gets A Musical Parody In The Style Of “Hamilton”! appeared first on The World Of Pop Culture.

The First Tour Of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” Comes To Philadelphia

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(PCM) Boy meets girl at a Brooklyn high school…and they change music history.

What sounds like an outlandish premise for a Broadway musical is actually true life because the girl was Carol Klein, who later became the music legend Carole King, and the boy was Gerry Goffin, her flawed mate and extremely talented lyricist.

All of this is the story behind “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” which will grace the Academy of Music Stage from Tuesday, March 22 to Sunday, April 3. It is the perfect way to usher in spring with some of our favorite pop songs and love ballads.

This is the first national tour of the smash Broadway musical about the early life and career of the legendary and groundbreaking singer/songwriter Carole King and fellow songwriters Gerry Goffin, Cynthia Weil, and Barry Mann.

“Beautiful features a stunning array of beloved songs that audiences will want to sing along to the whole evening,” said Anne Ewers, president & CEO of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

“Fans will learn so much about Carole King’s rise to stardom, as well the stories of her close friends and fellow songwriters that will show the genesis of some of their favorite songs,” she said.

The show opened on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in January 2014, where it has broken all box office records. The original Broadway cast recording of “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical,” (Ghostlight Records), won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

“Beautiful” features hit songs including, “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “You’ve Got A Friend.” The national tour stars Abby Mueller as Carole King and Liam Tobin as Gerry Goffin.

Mueller is the sister of Jesse Mueller who won a Tony Award for originating the role on Broadway. She has starred on Broadway in Kinky Boots, A Minister’s Wife, and numerous regional productions in her hometown of Chicago, including Into the Woods, The Fully Monty and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

At 26, Tobin, has an impressive list of credits. A native of Newfoundland, Canada, he played Tony in the International Tour of West Side Story, Alferd Packer in Trey Packer’s Cannibal the Musical and the Sound of Music in Toronto. In regional theater he played Lord Farquaad in “Shrek,” Buddy in “Elf” (The Grand), Lancelot in “Spamalot,” Joe Hardy in “Damn Yankees,” Lt. Cable in “South Pacific” (Drayton), Gabe in “Next to Normal” (Manitoba Theatre Centre), Link in “Hairspray” (Charlottetown), and Joseph in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

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Q: Did you do much research into the music?

LIAM TOBIN: I grew up listening to Carole King’s “Tapestry” album through my mom’s love for it. I was attracted to the great story and of course, the great music in the show.

Q: What about research into the real Gerry Goffin?

LT: When you are playing a real person and not a fictional person there are considerations. I watched a few clips that our director had of Carole and Gerry at the piano and I saw how they would interact, so that was invaluable. I really wanted to stay true to the spirit of all of the characters. But in the end, you have to inject a bit of yourself to make it realistic because you don’t want to do an impersonation.

Q: Tell me about your leading lady, Abby Mueller.

LT: Abby has a wonderful voice and a real vulnerability — both when she is on stage and when she is off stage. We get along super well. It is really nice to share the stage every day with someone who is a good buddy – she truly brings the house down for this show!

Q: Tell me about the tour.

LT: We started rehearsing in New York in August and opened the show in mid-September and have been going ever since.

Q: Where and when will your family and friends see the show?

LT: Some of them saw it in Providence and Chicago during Christmas, others will see it next summer in Toronto, a three-hour flight from St. John’s Newfoundland.

Q: Where are you based?

LT: Toronto.

Q: Tell me about the early years, the details of becoming an actor.

LT: I had a group of friends one summer who were in a community theater production of Peter Pan when we were in 9th grade. I kept coming to rehearsal and loved what I saw. I auditioned for the next show, Beauty and the Beast, and was hooked. I was in the ensemble playing a candlestick and a fork at one point and I remember that I had the time of my life. I felt that if I could make a living doing this I didn’t see how I could do anything else. So I took it from there. I always gravitated to the rehearsal room.

Q: Why?

LT: Theater changes people and brings out all sorts of magic. I had never had so much fun as I did with those eccentric, crazy actors.

Q: Which musicals do you love?

LT: I love them all. Musicals have always seemed to speak to me. But this one in particular is a little different from a traditional musical. Most of the songs are performances instead of furthering the plot per se. So we say, ‘Hey is our new song let me play it for you.’

Q: What is life on the road like – the good, the bad and the ugly?

LT: It’s really great. I get to see the whole country. We’ve had some short stays and some long stays. I like that ever week you get to explore a whole new town or a diff part of the country. We try new restaurants and museums.

Q: Is there any down side?

LT: Sure. Living in a hotel without a kitchen can get a little frustrating, because sometimes I want to make my own food. It’s also hard to be away from family, but you do get a surrogate family of sorts. I’ve made some new, amazing close friends.

Q: Is every show different?

LT: Yes. We get different reactions from various audiences. It is interesting to see what jokes they react to.

Q: What are you doing on the road when you are not rehearsing or performing?

LT: I got my pilot’s license this past summer; it’s a big hobby of mine. I love to hop on a plane and do some sightseeing.

Q: How long did it take you to become a pilot?

LT: Four months — all day, every day. I managed to get it done before I moved to New York for rehearsals. It is something I always wanted to do if I had the time, so I figured if not now then when would I do it?

Q: Anything else you enjoy?

LT: I love to read. I play video games so I brought my X-Box on the road with me. I am an avid guitar player. Luckily, these are things you can still do on the road to stay sane.

Q: Is there anyone in the family who is an actor or performer?

LT: Nope. I am the lone one.

Q: What do your siblings do?

LT: I have two older sisters – one is an accountant and the other is in sales with a tech company.

Q: Could you have pursued this brilliant career without family support?

LT: No, not at all. It was something they weren’t familiar with, but they were always in my corner. They always come out to do every show I do. I love having my family around. It is rare these days being around to get to see them; it’s quite a treat

Q: Do you have favorite musicals?

LT: I played Tony in a tour of West Side Story in Europe in 2012 for two and a half years. I was able to see most of Europe during the tour. There was a giant orchestra. I remember this one time in Naples, Italy when we had a 40 piece orchestra – so we were very spoiled with our band

Q: Are there musicals you are hankering to do?

LT: I’ve always wanted to be Cinderella’s prince and the wolf in Into the Woods – I thought that would be fun. I saw the movie and thought it was one of the better versions of a movie musical that has been around for a while.

Q: Do you think there will be a movie of “Beautiful: The Carol King Musical?”

LT: I’m not sure. If they have plans to make it, they haven’t told me.

Q: What are your favorite songs in this show?

LT: I love “Up on the Roof,” and I get to sing a little bit of it and then see the guys The Drifters do their version. I also love to watch them sing “On Broadway” from the wings. It is high energy, it sounds great and the guys are fun to watch. I love the arrangement of “You’ve Got a Friend.” You really can’t stop humming everything – there is not a bad tune in the whole show.

Q: How do you see your character of Gerry? Do you judge his mistakes as a husband?

LT: It is difficult to play a man if you were to judge him like that. I believe that Gerry was at his heart a good person. Yes, he made mistakes. He wanted to be a great husband, father, and friend but he couldn’t seem to do that and he spiraled further down the rabbit hole. The way I tried to play Gerry was not as a villain per se, but more of a kind of a troubled guy who is trying to make his life work out the way he saw it happening, but can’t seem to make the pieces fit together.

Q: How do you see your future – 5 or 10 years from now?

LT: Who knows? Hey, who wouldn’t want to be on Broadway? I couldn’t say. Because if you asked me five years ago. I’m not sure what kind of answer I would have given you. So I try to let things unfold. I also try not to put a whole lot of pressure on myself.

For additional information, please visit www.BeautifulOnBroadway.com.

For tickets go to The Kimmel Center Box Office: Call the Box Office at: 215 893-1999, or visit www.kimmelcenter.org. For group sales or 10 or more call (215) 790-5883.

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Be Charmed By The Timeless ‘Sound of Music’ At The Academy of Music

soundofmusic1(PCM) Nineteen-year-old Kerstin Anderson was a student at Pace University when she decided to audition for the leading role of Maria in the new national tour of “Sound of Music.”

After auditioning hundreds of lovely young actresses, the show’s director, Jack O’Brien said he had always believed the role of Maria Rainer was a ‘star-making’ part, rather than the leading role everyone remembers from the movies.

Anderson was looking for experience in auditioning and put her best foot forward, not expecting to land a major role. The director says that he had his sights on just the right young woman for this leading role.

“So I went looking for someone with star-making magic,” O’Brien explained. “In through the audition door one day walked Vermont native Kerstin Anderson, still studying at Pace University in New York. With her tomboy persona and country girl appeal, she opened her mouth, she sang, and the tears welled up in my eyes.”

While this is the first tour and many other firsts for the now 21-year-old charming musical theater actress, the show, and the film of the same name, has quite an impressive history. In fact, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the film version, which continues to be the most successful – and beloved — movie musical in history.

The lavish new production plays at the Academy of Music from March 15-20, before continuing on its whirlwind tour.

“The Sound of Music,” is one of the most successful and celebrated movie musicals of all time,” said Anne Ewers, president & CEO of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. ”It’s the perfect way to pay tribute to the beloved songs and story that fans have grown up with.”

The production features music by Richard Rogers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and a book by Howard Linsay and Russel Crouse. The national tour stars Ben Davis as Captain Georg von Trapp (Broadway’s Violet, A Little Night Music, La Bohème), Ashley Brown as The Mother Abbess (Broadway’s original Mary Poppins, NBC’s The Sound of Music).

Before going on tour with “The Sound of Music, Anderson played Clara in the Pace production of “Light in the Piazza,” directed by Victoria Clark. Her other Pace theater credits include: “The Visit,”(Annie, Dir. John Doyle). Her regional theater credits include: “My Name is Annie King,” (Mav, Scene Space); and “Best Little Whorehouse.” (Shy, The Forestburgh Playhouse).

Her supportive family in Vermont is cheering her as she makes her way across the country in this beloved musical.

Q: So Kerstin, where is the tour today?

KERSTIN ANDERSON: Atlanta, Georgia.

Q: Where did the tour begin?

KA: We opened in L.A. in September.

Q: Tell me about this amazing audition process and finding out you were going to play Maria

KA: I was just finishing my sophomore year at Pace University and got an appointment to audition. I grew up watching the movie and knew the beautiful music. I was really just cutting my teeth going to auditions and had been on a few professional ones before this. I went to go and learn – I did not expect anything. I went and sang “The Sound of Music,” and got one call back and then more call backs. I was doing it for the producers and soon after they asked me if I wanted to see the country. It was unbelievable!

Q: Sounds a little bit like the plot for 42nd Street.

KA: You could say that.

Q: So who from your friends and family has seen the tour?

KA: My family has seen it and that was wonderful. There is something very special when people you love see the work you care about – it seems so real. I loved it! My friends will probably come to Philly since many of them live in New York.

Q: What do you love about the character of Maria?

KA: First of all I grew up in Vermont, so I knew the legacy of the story and have always appreciated “The Sound of Music.” I had seen the movie many times and several stage productions. I grew up about an hour away from the actual Von Trapp Family Lodge, so I also knew quite a bit about the family. We studied them in school; it’s very familiar to me.

Q: What was it like growing up in Vermont?

KA: I am an outdoors person. I may be the only Vermont native who doesn’t ski. But I like to hike and we used to go ice skating in my friend’s back yard pond, when I wasn’t in rehearsal for school productions.

Q: Are there any surprises in this production?

KA: This production has two additional songs, “How Can Love Survive,” and “No Way To Stop It,” they are songs for Elsa and Max. So some people are surprised to know about that. We’ve also put the song “Something Good” in the gazebo.

Q: Tell me your history as a singer and musical theater actress?

KA: I first started when I lived in Ireland for a year and my older sister took an interest in the theater. But I didn’t take it seriously as a career until high school. I studied voice and acting and musical theater at Pace. Then I ended up here – right where I want to be.

Q: Will you return to college when the tour is over?

KA: I hope so. I think so. This is happening for a year and I left school for a year I can pick up where I left off. I really loved being a student.

soundofmusic2Q: Tell me about life on the road.

KA: It has its difficulties. Mostly, it is fun and exciting. There is a new city every week I make sure to talk to my family and friends. It can be both monotonous and chaotic at the same time. You do the same things every day, but you do them in a new city which makes it very exciting.

Q: Any perks?

KA: Yes, I am coffee shop hopping across America.

Q: Sounds like a great name for a travel blog; don’t you agree?

KA: Why not?

Q: How is Atlanta?

KA: We got here yesterday and I have to find my coffee shop, a place where you can sit and do work. It has to have crunchy granola, good coffee and home-like vibe.

Q: Are there tricks you employ on the road to make it feel more homey?

KA: Yes, when I am not working I explore the towns and cities. I have been trying to find a museum in each town. In Atlanta, I will go to the aquarium and look for culture and history that are specific to the towns that we are in. I am looking forward to spring because everything will be in bloom

Q: Have you been to Philadelphia before?

KA: No, I never have. I love the historical cities. I can’t wait.

Q: What is the dream you had of a career versus the reality?

KA: The dream is the reality. I am doing it. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with all of it.

Q: What is the most surprising aspect of the tour?

KA: Before this I had never done a show for more than 14 performances. So I am thrilled and surprised that I actually have the capability to do a show eight shows a week for weeks on end. Through ups and downs and crazy life on tour, the show is like going home; it’s the best part. So, I have felt I truly made the right career choice.

Q: Do you have career advice for young actresses at any stage in their career?

KS: The best two pieces of advices I ever received were: First, to be unafraid to be uniquely you, and secondly, to just work hard. Being willing to share all the odds and ends of who you are — the good the bad and the ugly — so people will see the truth on stage. So be unique and work hard.

Q: Why should people come to see this production of “The Sound of Music?”

KA: It’s a wonderful production. It takes an old classic and breaths life into the scenes. Jack has brought it back to life. It was a little like another classic, “Sleeping Beauty.” No one dared to touch it in a long time. It feels like the piece is fresh and the songs are lovable. The movie is always there and is beloved. And it’s live theater, so that’s also a wonderful thing. What I love about a live production is that it will never happen the same way twice. Coming to see the live production is worth it!

Q: Your director, Jack O’Brien, said he found you charming, saw you as a star in the making and that your heart-felt musical audition made him cry. So how do you respond to that?

KA: When I read his kind words I had to hold back the tears. Then I ran and called my dad and read it to him. I feel so honored and grateful that I get to be here doing something that I love every night. It is a real gift.

For tickets or information about “The Sound of Music” at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia go to: visiting www.kimmelcenter.org, go to the Kimmel Center Box Office or call. 215 893-1999. For tickets for groups of 10 or more call 215 790-5883.

For more tour information, please go to: www.TheSoundOfMusicOnTour.com.

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