Conversations With Susan
The following “conversations with Susan” have been recovered from Susan’s old fan site for archival purposes and for your enjoyment!
April 19, 2004 - Ask Susan Q&A
Susan, you are amazing, inspiring, and my role model!!! Do you have any advice for those who aspire to follow in your footsteps?
Hi Kelly! I asked the same question when I was starting out! The best advice I ever received was to follow my gut, which sounds easy enough but sometimes isn’t. What I’ve learned is that there are a lot of voices in our head: fear, ego, dreamer, etc. If you can isolate the voice that is your true gut instinct – it’s a great navigator and always knows where you should go. I’ve made many unconventional choices in my life that folks thought strange, but once I arrived at my intended destination, those same folks changed their minds! I can’t always explain why my gut says to do something, but I have learned not to question it!
Do you think that you will come to Los Angeles to do any acting in the near future? We miss you here on the west coast!
Thanks, Erika! I definitely hope to get back to Los Angeles and even work there!! I consider California home and plan to head back West after my MILLIE contract is up in September. Perhaps there will be a bit more TV and film once I get there. What I am definitely doing is booking some concert dates to promote the CD I’m currently recording. It will be released in the fall, and I’ll do some concerts in the Los Angeles area for certain! I miss home!
At my school we are having a musical and we had auditions and I did make it but I’m afraid that I can’t remember all the lines and I get so nervous on stages and I don’t know what to do so could you please tell me how you survive all your nerves? thank you.
Another question in your fan page it said that you slouch (so do I) but when you perform don’t you have to be straight? and when I saw your pictures in Beauty and the Beast you aren’t slouching at all so could you tell me how not to slouch because I keep on doing it and it looks horrible. thank you
Thanks for writing Yukino. Two good questions. Okay. Nerves. I find the more I master the material at hand, the less nervous I am. Its JUST like studying for a test! Tests can actually be FUN if you know all the answers. So I really work on lines (putting something physical [ie: the blocking] with the line helps me remember the words), music, dancing, etc – then go out there and let it all fly. The more fun you have, the more relaxed you and the audience will be – truly! As for slouching – stand UP – shoulders BACK. It helps you breathe – helps the audience to see you – and it keeps that spine healthy!
This sounds dumb but my friend and I are fighting over it. We saw Millie and loved it but in the opening scene during Not for the Life of Me, when you have long hair. That’s you correct? I said it is, my friend says that it is another person- the same person that walks out at the end as a new girl in town. Could you please end this battle? hehe. Thanks. I loved you in Gotta Kick it Up. Do you know the name of the song that was used at the end of the movie where the girls do their final cheer? Thanks 🙂 =Scott
This cracks me up, Scott!! YES it’s me at the beginning. That’s the whole point of the play. [I’m laughing!] Millie arrives in NY (looking decidedly farm-girlish), gets a new “do,” and makes it in the big city. =) At the end of the show another girl arrives – remember Jimmy’s line “Girls like you arrive everyday …” – the play shows the truth of that. So, I know I look a little frumpy and not Millie-ish in the opening moments, but it’s me!! So go tell your friend. =)
And I don’t know the name of the song at the end of Gotta Kick It Up – so sorry. Is it not listed in the credits? Strange as it sounds, we actually filmed the ending with a different song (same beat) and then they wrote this new one and put it in during editing. That’s film for you! Wish I were more helpful! Thanks for writing, Scott!
Hey Susan! My name is Holly and I really love your work. I saw you in Cabaret in October and you were fantastic, and I’m coming to see Millie in May. I really admire your talent, and from reading some things on this site you seem like a really fun, down to earth, and admirable person as well. As an aspiring performer I dream about doing what you’ve done. I’ve just been accepted to a performing arts conservatory in NYC and I start in June a few days after I graduate from my NJ high school. Do you have any advice for someone like me? I would love nothing more than to have a career in musical theatre, and I would really love some words of wisdom from someone like you…any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks Susan! I can’t wait to see the show! Sincerely, Holly:)
Congratulations Holly! I wish you all the best as you wrap up the school year and come to NY! The advice about following your gut [see above] applies here, too. But I would also offer to you this: cherish the relationships you make with your fellow classmates in your conservatory. Because no matter what school you go to your peers will be the folks that you travel with throughout your career! My college roommate, Sarah Uriarte Berry, was my replacement as Belle in Beauty and the Beast! I have friends from college in MILLIE, in agents offices, as casting directors, writers, producers, directors. The group you meet will be running the business and they are your greatest support and resource! Think about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck – yes? =)
Name: Mark Wilkinson
Hi Susan, I just came back from my first trip to New York and I am so glad that I got to see you in Millie, because you were wonderful. I was noticing how your Broadway roles have all been alto (or mezzo) roles, and I was wondering if that was because you just prefer singing in your chest voice? Or do you really have a soprano in you and you just haven’t found the right role to show it off?! I appreciate you taking time to answer this – I know you’re busy. Thank you. Cheers, Mark Wilkinson Kingston, Ontario
Hi Mark! Glad you enjoyed the show. Actually Millie has several soprano moments as well as belt moments, as do Belle, Leonide [from Truimph of Love], Margy [from State Fair], Kim MacAfee [from Bye, Bye Birdie], etc. I am a true second soprano singer – love those A’s below high C! Milie is a very “mix-y” role – which is a healthy one to sing. Some belt, some mix, some head voice. I’ve also recorded many soprano tunes, and the new CD I’m currently doing actually has a lot of Joni Mitchell-type soprano to it. I’m excited about that! The placement of voice has a lot to do with the “moment” the character is in. For example, in MILLIE, when Millie is romantic or stunned as in the song “Jimmy” – it’s all soprano. Then as she grows strong in her convictions like later in “Jimmy” and in “Gimme” she’ll belt it out! Hope that helps.
Dear Susan, You are an AMAZING actress and singer! I hope to be just like you some day! I do singing and acting to, and I was wondering what collage you went to? I hope to be just like you some day! You are my role model, my hero, and my idol! You are the Best! Good luck in the future! Are you coming back to Connecticut any time soon to do a show or concert? Maybe you can talk to your producer of your site and maybe you could have a live chat some time? Thanks – Jill
Jill! Wow – thanks!!!! I went to a high school of the arts in Orange County, California, then UCLA. I don’t have any current plans for anything in Connecticut, but you never know… And I believe you have just given us an idea for hosting a live chat! We’ll see what we can do!
Do have a boy friend or a husband? –Pagie
Hi Paige. Hee, hee. Didn’t know I’d get personal questions! Yes, I do have a boy friend, who one day may become a husband. That is if my vocal exercises don’t drive him away! =)
May 6, 2004 - Ask Susan Q&A
From: Nicholas Marketto
My partner Kenny and I are coming to New York the 2nd week of June and wanted to purchase 2 tickets to your show TMM. Would there be any chance that we could get a photo with you after the show? We saw you (front and center) in Cabaret, and we have loved your work ever since.
Name: Christopher Crinieri
You are my favorite actress. ive seen you in Beauty and the Beast (1995) and Cabaret (2003). I will be going to see Thoroughly Modern Millie this summmer. How would i be able to meet you, to sign and autograph?
Hi Nicholas and Christopher!! I hope you enjoy MILLIE!!! I would love to meet you in person at the stage door. I enter and exit there every show. Sometimes if I don’t have folks visiting backstage, I do get out very quickly (no wig to take off!) at the end of the show. Running home to sleep!! But check with the doorman. The MILLIE stage door is at 211 West 45th Street between Broadway and 8th Ave. It’s hidden behind a big pillar with a MILLIE poster strapped to it! You can also leave a note there that you will try to find me after the show. I can wait for a bit – an extra 15 minutes or so, but try to hurry, my bedtime is 11:30!!! =) Be sure to check my site – which will always have the dates I’m scheduled to miss from MILLIE.
Hello! I had the pleasure of meeting you when you came to ARGS last year, and must express my thanks for all of the advice given by you and the others… it has served me well so far! I was reading about your adjustment from Cabaret to Millie (the happy show!), and it brought up an interesting question… how much do you find your characters affecting you when you do other shows or just in everyday life? Thanks! –Colleen
Great question, Colleen! I didn’t used to believe this, but it has great affect on me! Millie does far more in the show – sings, dances three times as much as Sally Bowles, yet I’m FAR less exhausted doing MILLIE than I was doing CABARET. The brightness of MILLIE, the happy ending, it definitely affects my energy on a daily basis. CABARET was an emotional drain. A wonderful role and story, but it really wiped me out! I did nothing but sleep and do the show. MILLIE, I’m running around, in healthy voice, having fun! Funny, huh?
Hi Susan! My first Broadway show was Beauty and the Beast with you and Terrence Mann! I was 5 then and now I am 16 and an aspiring actress. Seeing that performence really inspired me. I saw Millie 2 years ago and have not had the chance to see you in it, but I am sure you are wonderful. Where you nervous about stepping into this role after Sutton Foster had done it for so long and made it famous? What did u do to make it your own? And, you have played so many incredible roles, which is your favorite and why?
Hi there, Caity! I love how you spell your name!
Great question!! I was excited to come into MILLIE for many reasons. I love the production, I was thrilled to do an uplifting show, I love the family audiences! Sutton was magnificent in the role, but (though its hard to explain) it doesn’t worry me so much that she was so celebrated – in fact, it’s just the opposite! I Love that she was wonderful and loved. I believe success begets success. I was so happy when she won the Tony Award, because she worked hard and made such an impression on the NY community! She’s awesome. Her success is nothing but good! It doesn’t hurt anything, myself included. Just like Natasha Richardson winning a Tony for playing Sally in CABARET didn’t worry me. It means I’m coming into a company that is happy! That’s a wonderful thing! Also as an actress, I can’t do what Natasha did as Sally, or Sutton as Millie – I can only do what is naturally me. Some choices may end up being similar, some different. What made both their performances magnificent was their authenticity!! I can only capture the spirit of their great performances by being authentic myself — bringing myself to the role as they brought themselves. So, while it may sound intimidating to take over for such wonderful actresses, I actually love it. =) They’ve created a wonderful and creative space, that I can now make my own, and hopefully add to it for the next actress who comes in. I certainly hope I created the same kind of space for all those who brought themselves to the role of Belle after I was there. =) We all share these roles together!!
You did a great job as Lin in ‘Spirited Away’. This may be an odd question, but I just thought I’d ask: Were you able to attend the premiere screening at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival? Miyazake was there (I even got to ask him a question during the Q & A!), also John Lasseter and a couple of voice actors from the film.
Oh, and my fiancee Erica and I really enjoyed ’13 Going On 30′! You must’ve been jazzed to do the ‘Thriller’ dance! 😀 I’ve done it myself a few times at that age, if not younger, hehe. Take care – Cerulean_Blu
I didn’t get to go to the Toronto Film Festival – I would have loved meeting Miyazaki!! How wonderful to ask him a question – he is the MASTER!! I worked with John on the film and have never met Miyazaki himself – even now that I’ve done two of his films! Maybe next time! Glad you enjoyed 13 Going on 30 – very silly doing the Thriller dance!
Name: Katie Venezia
Susan, what advice would you give to aspiring theatre actors?
Hi Katie! I’m a big believer in following your own heart – really listening to yourself. I explain in more detail farther below on a question from last month. Check it out and let me know if that answer helps. =) Good luck – I wish you much success and joy!
Do you ever have time to keep up with “old friends” from High School? My mom keeps asking if she will ever get to meet you since were old friends from LAHS.
Wes LAHS Class of 89
Hi Wes!! I’ve been in contact with you more than most Los Al High folks!!! So sad how we all lose touch, yes? I tend to keep my life running at a fever pitch, and spend by bits of free time mostly with family. I’m a definite homebody. But I wish you well and hope your mother is doing well, too!
Name: Lauren Zakich
Susan, you are my all time idol! Believe it or not, this is the girl you met in NY after Millie on March 26 at about 11 at night! I was with my dad and sister and I told you that I auditioned for OCHSA and you signed my Playbill!! I was so happy when I got to meet you! Do you remember me? It’s ok if you don’t. I just wanted to tell you I’m a huge fan of yours!! =). PS. please respond =)
Hi Lauren – yes I remember you!! I remember all OCHSA (Orange County High School of the Arts) connections! I hope your audition for the school won you a spot there!!
I never knew you were such a dancer until Gotta Kick it UP, where did you learn to dance like that, and also, where did the wig for gotta kick it up come from? im a gay guy so i could tell, even i own better ones than that….just kidding, and why did triumph of love flop? thanks john
Yep – got to do a bit of dancing in Gotta Kick It Up – which was great. Our choreographer was Liz Imperio who does J.Lo’s choreography as well! Fun! The wig was part of the deal. I had long jet black hair at the time, so I looked like one of the students. Hence the wig. And Triumph of Love was an interesting situation. The show was actually selling really well – Betty Buckley was awesome at selling the seats!! Lots of fans!! But we were booked into the Royale Theatre which was promised and contracted to be the space for the play ART, which was scheduled to begin loading in 3 months after our opening. SO the musical GREASE was closed at the O’Neill so that we could transfer there. Then the producers realized they did not build the set to move. It would have been another million dollars to rebuild, and though we were definitely selling well, we were considered a soft hit. Adding a million to the budget at that late date would have meant recouping would take another year! SO in essence, we closed because of a mistake in the set. It should have been built to fit both theatres. Our beautiful producer Margo Lion (the mastermind behind HAIRSPRAY) still regrets this turn of events. It was a simple oversight!! Weird, huh?
Of the roles you have played, which character is most like you, which is least like you, and which have you enjoyed playing the most?
There is an aspect of myself in every role I play – I’m my own resource as an actress. A painter has paints; actors have themselves – their own feeling, emotions, philosophies, etc with which to make their creation. So I connect with each character I play. I’m not a drug addict like Sally Bowles, of course, but I have moments of insecurity, which is what leads to her drug taking. Get it? =) So I can’t think of any character I’m most like. I contain aspects of all of them. I read voraciously like Belle, I’m silly and awkward like Millie, I am sometimes down and feel helpless like Sally, I am adventurous and take risks like Princess Leonide – it goes on and on! I loved playing Sally, only because her path was so dark and I usually play positive women. Searching the depths of Sally really helped me better myself as an actress and as a person. =) So for now, she’s probably my favorite!
You have played dark dramatic roles such as Sally Bowles, romantic roles such as Belle, and light dramatic roles like in “Gotta Kick it Up.” Which types of roles and genres of film and stage to you most appreciate? What do you prefer to perform and why?
Susan, you have been in several independant films, and even a wide release (“13 Going On 30”). Are films what you would eventually like to do on a permanent basis, or do you prefer mainly working in live theatre?
Hi Joy and Angie! Thanks to you both for writing.
I love the immediacy of live theatre – the workout – the interaction with the audiences. Nothing compares, but I do also enjoy film and TV because it allows for a more naturalistic acting approach. I think keeping my feet wet in each arena actually helps me grow as an actress, so I hope to keep all three going!
Susan, What are your favorite reality TV shows? Thanks! – Chayse
AHH!! The important questions!! Finally!! I take my TV viewing seriously. My favorite reality show – and by reality I mean non-fictional – is definitely the World Poker Tour games. I’m addicted! Thinking of giving up my stage career, moving to Vegas and playing poker professionally!
Susan, I fell in love with you purely from you being Megara from “Hercules”. I know this is a softball question, but is it wrong to desire an animated character so much? 🙂
I’m not sure if I’m qualified to answer the question, but I think lots of men felt the same about Jessica Rabbit, too. =) I’m glad you liked Meg … to whatever degree you choose to take your affection!!
Dear Susan, Hi i was fortuante enough to see you perform as Sally Bowles in Cabaret! You were amazing and i really wanted to thank you for standing outside in the awful cold talking to me (i was the 19 year old northern drama student from England!) Anyway my question is would you ever consider coming to the West End and if so what musical would you like to do? I think you’d be brilliant in Mary Poppins! The West End booming at the minute and theres plenty of British fans who’d love to see you on the west end stage! congratulations on your fantistic reviews in Millie and all the very best for the future!
Andy!! I remember meeting you – who could forget your beautiful accent! And the standing in the cold! =) I would LOVE to come to the West End, in anything!! It’s hard to make the union thing work out – American Equity and British Equity are always battling that out! I actually played Mary Poppins in high school, if you can believe that. But wouldn’t I be shot as an imposter if I were to play her in London? I mean Rene playing Bridgette Jones was an outcry!!!! =) I can’t wait to see that show, though – it’s going to be marvelous!! Thanks for writing!
Hi Susan. Love your work.
I have to ask… where did you meet Kermit? And what was he like to kiss?
Also, as a personal favour to me, could you concentrate on making CDs, films, and original casts that will produce cast recordings. You know, things that I can actually have delivered to me here in Melbourne, cos I love the music of Millie, but I can’t hear you singing it through the Earth’s core.
That’s not selfish is it? 😉
James – not selfish at all – thanks for wanting to hear more things! I hope you enjoy the new CD, which will be released in September in stores, but in July on line!! I’m just finishing it up now and am sooooo excited for this one! As for Kermit. We met on a very romantic evening when we co-hosted a benefit in Los Angeles. During the press shoot, he whispered sweet nothings in my ear, then kissed me. I kissed him back and will never forget it – it was that good! In this one case I was glad the frog did not turn into a handsome price – Kermit is perfect simply being green.
I saw MILLIE with Sutton, but haven’t gotten a chance to see you in it,…yet! I was just wondering two things: Has any choreography been changed since you entered the show? (do you still dance on the desk during “FATB”?) Also, how long have you been taking tap lessons, and when did you start, etc.? Thank you for your time!
Hi Jared! I hope you enjoy the show if you get the chance to see it again. =) I’m having a blast! To answer your questions: no choreography has been changed – I’m doing every last step and lost 8 pounds in the first two weeks!!!! And as far as dancing on the desk, I’m not sure what exactly you mean. I do stand on the seat of the rolling desk unit, as the girls turn me around during Forget About the Boy, but there is no actual standing on the desk top itself. No one does or has, because it would tip over. But I’m doing the same steps as beautiful Sutton, so maybe that’s what you meant! Hope it helps. =) And I never actually studied tap dancing when I was young. I took 14 years of ballet and had jazz as well, but I didn’t start tapping until I was cast in 42nd Street as Peggy when I was 18! Kind of late compared to most, probably. But I’m loving it! I’ve been told I’m a very loud tapper. The sound guys and the choreographer at MILLIE like it. =) Phew!!
Hi! I had a quick question about one of Susan’s show dates… Since she is going to be out May 10-12 and then has her benefit concert on the 23, and also takes time to record her cd, I wanted to check if she would be playing Millie in the May 22 matinee. My friend and I are planning on coming then and Susan is pretty much our reason of going, so I didn’t want to take the chance of missing her!!! Seeing my favorite B-way performer ever in one of my favorite B-way shows would be a dream come true!
Oh and I love the “Ask Susan” part of fansite!!! I am thinking real hard of a question I could ask. Thanks for putting it there and thanks to Susan for taking the time to answer the questions.
After reading the “Sus Suggests” part of the website, the only question I can think of right now is have you ever read the Mitch Albom books or “Let’s Roll” by Lisa Beamer. If not, I highly recommend them 🙂
Sorry for the long email… I just really appreciate this site!!! And thanks for any help with the show dates.
Hi Diana! The site will always have the dates I’m scheduled to miss from MILLIE. The May dates (5/10-13) are for a family issue in CA. And July 9-11 is a VACATION!!!!! Any additional activities like benefits, recording, etc – I’ll never miss a show for them!! So I should be in the 22nd of May. I rarely (but very occasionally) do get sick – I’m human. BUT I am a workhorse and don’t like to miss many shows, so I plan to be there! The site will always announce planned absences!! Thanks for asking!!
Name: Gina (three emails)
I just wanted to start out by saying that you are my inspiration for singing. My question for you is if the role of “Belle” was offered to you again would you accept it?
So interesting!! I wonder! What I did learn at the 10 year anniversary of B&B a few weeks back is that even now, if I were to go back, I would not be the oldest to play her!! So I guess there’s still time, although now that I’m in my 30’s I wonder if I’d be right for the role! I do love ”Belle” and am so pleased that so many wonderful and diverse women have played her!! I’d certainly LOVE to do a concert version or a short stint, but I don’t think I could do another 2 years!!! =)
Hi Susan, first of all, I want to say that you are totally a role model to me. I totally want to be an actress, and it was really cool to read in the previous questions thing when you said you were a second soprano. I sing second soprano in choir. Okay another thing, I met you at Gallagher-Bluedorn a couple years ago, just wanted to see if you remembered me. anyway, my question is what are your dream roles, or what musicals do you really want to do? thanks –Gail
Hi Gail!!! Dream roles – that’s tough. I tend to love new musicals, so it’s hard to think of something that has yet to be written! But I love smart women in tough situations. Of the shows that are established, I’d like to do “Sunday in the Park,” “The Last Five Years,” or maybe you could give me an idea!!
Hi Susan, first of all I want to ask if you remember me from two years ago at ” Bravo Brodway” at the Gallagher Bluedorn( I was that ” hyper blonde girl” who was the first person to get to the autographs) Anyway, my question is: Out of the characters you have played, who is your favorite, and why?
I DO remember you, Gail! I always appreciate the energy of “hyper blond girls!” Thanks for attending the concert. =)
Picking a favorite character is (a great question) but impossible to do. Honestly. Each character I’ve played has been the perfect role to explore at that moment in my life. I loved Belle because she’s BRIGHT and motivated. I love that she reads and has made reading “cool” for children who admire her. I love Sally Bowles because she’s so lost and damaged. You kind of want to mother her and help her make better decisions. I love Megara (HERCULES) because she has a past! And she chooses to change! Right now I love Millie, because her energy is excitement filled, and I’m enjoying be a part of an uplifting production. I’ve been fortunate with great characters and my heart really embraces each one. They are like good friends of mine at this point! I love them all.
Hi Susan, I know I’ve asked a lot of other questions now, hopefully you get all the ones from me because its practically becoming a constant update from me. Anyway, I didn’t get cast in ” Joseph…Dreamcoat” which is the summer musical at the community theatre. the reasoning this time was once again the ” you look too young” thing… anyway, my question is: basically do you have any stories about auditioning? also what are auditions for Broadway stuff like? Anyway, thanks for dealing with my insane amount of questions, I mean, previous questions, I think this is my fourth time writing submitting a question =) . anyway, thanks. –Gail
Hi Again –Gail. So sorry that Dreamcoat didn’t work out. If it makes you feel any better I get turned down 90% of the time! We all do. What I’ve learned is to not dwell and to move on. Sometimes the things you don’t get are for the best!! For example, I was told for 6 weeks that I had the role of Dainty June in the TV Movie of GYPSY with Bette Midler – then was told they gave it to another girl. I was devastated. BUT if I HAD done the film I wouldn’t have been in town to audition for Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, which I got!!! SO I’m SOOOO glad I didn’t get GYPSY!! Sometimes it’s for the best! Believe that and you’ll be open for something better happening! The folks who dwell, are often distracted when the something better comes along!
Hi. I saw this play when Sutton Foster was in the cast and loved it. I have seen you in so many different things and when I heard you were taking over for Millie, I went crazy! I convinced my friends to go the next day after one of my friends Junior Prom. I was wondering if there was a way to buy backstage passes for after or before the show? (yes I am the same Scott that asked the ridiculous question if that was actually you in the opening scene, haha)
Hi again, Scott. Alas, no there are no “backstage passes.” During our BCEFA drive we do sell (for a pricey $200) a backstage tour and a seat in the orchestra pit during the show – you can even sit on the conductor’s podium! But that’s it. And the money of course goes to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. If you’re interested (so sorry it’s so expensive) I could help arrange that.
Hi Susan, I would like to ask you, of all the places you have been to, whether performing or visited, what is your favorite city? Also, when you were in the Broadway version of “Beauty and the Beast”, you worked with Tom Bosley. What was it like working with Mr. Bosley? Hope to hear from you soon. God Bless you!
Oh! I love traveling!! I couldn’t pick a favorite – but I haven’t been to Peru yet and I think that Machu Picchu may win! I’ve loved Greece, Florence, Amsterdam! Love the diving in Australia and Caymen Islands as well! I long for Egypt and Turkey. I love ruins, ancient cultures … love to travel!
And I adore Tom Bosley! Who wouldn’t!! He took great care of me for the 2 and a half years I did “Beauty.” We still keep in touch!
Name: Brian Dunning
How many glasses of wine does it take to get someone to post pictures of their toes on the web? 😉
Very good question. I’d like to say that it took many, but the truth is I’m pretty weird naturally. It took zero glasses of wine to post those pictures. =)
Ok I’d LOVE to work with you someday. WHat do you usually look for in scripts, writers, actors, etc?
I wish I were so successful that I could be choosey about scripts and the like. The truth is, I’m a working actress, which means I work. Not always on things I love, but I like to work!! BUT if I do get to be choosey for the sake of this question, I’d say I look for authenticity in scripts and actors alike. I’m turned on by new insights into commonplace situations. I just saw “Caroline or Change” for example, and found the production so inspiring! Tony Kushner’s libretto is both creative, articulate, insightful and sooooo honest. The performances – all of them – were dead on. Nothing superfluous – just truthful from the very first moment!! I’d like to do work like that!
Hey Susan! I just saw 13 Going on 30 and it was absolutely adorable. I sort of squealed when you were first on screen (which, I wouldn’t suggest doing in a theater often for credibility reasons). Great job! And I just saw Millie in early March over spring break and it essentially changed my life. It was absolutely memorizing. I am not only now considering my life as a politician, as I had planned, but am looking into moving to NYC upon graduation and doing some auditioning. What I wouldn’t give to just come and “be Millie” for a day. So, Thanks for being so inspirational.
On a completely unrelated note, and born from sheer finals studying procrastination, what was your favorite non-major class in school? And what are some of your quirky secrets that you should be ashamed are, but are oddly, proud of? (For instance, I can perform Sound of Music as a one-woman show word-for-word, and I saw Titanic in the theater 8 times. I hope that actually reminded you of some, because otherwise you are probably backing away from the computer slowly)
Thanks! And enjoy every second as Millie!
Hi Karey! Thanks so much for the kind compliments – wow!! Okay, in humor of your finals procrastination … my favorite non-major class in college actually became my major, when I switched out of theatre at UCLA. I had this amazing anthropology class taught by Prof. Alessandro Duranti. Now it may have been because he was a beautiful Italian man, but I like to believe it’s because the class was fascinating – but I loved the study of modern people: communication/culture barriers, race wars, religious difference. The class really pointed out how similar we are, yet how we cannot see the forest for the trees. But we know all that, yes? What the class concentrated on was … WHY. I loved it! Oh, and strange talents: I can recite all 50 states in alphabetical order.
I’m in college right now and I was wondering if you think it is necessary to get a degree if I want to pursue a career in musical theatre?
Great question, Kathlese – wish there were a straight answer for it!! While no one is going to give you a job on the basis of having or not having a degree in theatre, I do think education can make you a better actor and thus give you more reason to believe you CAN get the job. Again, for acting, jobs are given based on your audition. Folks with no education can win the roles if they are brilliant. BUT the more training you have the more likely you’ll be brilliant, yes? Strong training also helps with confidence and the building of technique. Only you know how and where your education should be advanced. Some learn by doing, some through classes at universities and conservatories. You know yourself best to be able to recognize what is most useful for you. IF YOU WANT TO TEACH at some point, however, the degree is necessary! Hope that helps!
Hi Susan! Quite some time ago I remember you mentioning you were a fan of old movies. Being a moive buff myself, I’ve always wondered, what are some of your favorites? I know how hard that question can be, so name a handful, or as many handfuls as you like!
And to help with Scott’s question (I hope), I believe the song in “Gotta Kick it Up” he is referring to is “Shake” written by Ray Cham and Charlene Licera, and performed by Licera. (This is why I always stay through the credits in movies. Ya never know whatcha might catch!) –Cheers, Eric 🙂
Eric!! Thanks for helping with Scott’s question! And as for old movies, I could sit here for hours and think of hundreds, but here are a few of the top of my head:
Mildred Pierce, Jezebel, Little Foxes, Philadelphia Story, To Kill A Mockingbird. Favorite movie of all time, though is: Ordinary People
Susan,I have two questions.First one is I heard you used to ice skate.My favorite sport which I love doing.Do you still skate? Second question, I tell everyone your song Home fits me well.ever since my family moved to a horrible new city I feel I’ve lost all my dreams, hopes, everything.Ice skating was everything I wanted…now its barely there.I’m so sad!But your beautiful voice makes me feel better.What would you do?Thanks!
I did ice skate and I still do just for fun – especially in Central Park with my nieces. They cling to my legs, so not much chance to do any tricks, but I wouldn’t trade it. I’m glad “Home” touches you. I love the song, because I think we all have times when we feel abandoned, alone. But remember the end of the song is hopeful – you can make anything out of the situation you have – it’s all about how you choose to see it! That’s Belle’s lesson. Your new home may be different, but there might be opportunities there that you can’t yet see because you are focused on something else. I loved ice skating, but not having the right skills to really be great as a skater is what lead me to theatre – little did I know at the time that I WOULD be able to excel in this area, and even more important … I loved it just as much!
Susan, could you tell us your worst audition story? Ya know, falling on your face, the director was an exboyfriend….the worst most horrible audition you’ve ever had. 🙂
Oh Olli!! Okay, I guess the worst would be an audition I had for director/writer James Lapine. Let’s just say I did what I thought (and what has always been for others) a very funny song … no laughs from James. I mean nothing. Dead silence … then a “what else did you bring?” I tell him my other song, he doesn’t want to hear it. Then “thank you.” And it’s over. I know it’s not a disaster story. I have those, too. But I tell you, the WORST is not messing up, or fainting, or crying, or anything else. The WORST is … no response. Nada! =) Good for the ego, though – keeps it in check!!
Hi Susan! I was wondering what is exactly your part in 13 Going on 30? Did you also get to work with Jennifer Garner in the movie? Anyways if you could respond that would be great! Thank you! Keep up the good work! You are so talented!
Thanks for writing Maegan. What exactly IS my part in 13 Going on 30. Still wondering myself! =) I don’t do much in the movie, though I worked for several weeks on it and had an absolute blast. Never thought I’d be learning the Thriller dance in my career! I play one of Jennifer’s co-workers, Tracy – the art director for the magazine POISE – whose husband is having a fling with Jennifer’s character. My story line was cut a bit in editing, but I’m glad to be in it at all! I did spend time with Jennifer — sat next to her for days as we shot the “board room” scenes. She’s marvelous. Once a struggling actress, who appreciates her success fully and remains grounded and genuine. We talked about life, fitness, and musical theatre (she had seen Beauty and the Beast). I gave her my voice teacher’s number as she was about to film a musical sequence for another film! We even tried to play cupid for two friends of ours. I hope her success continues (sure looks like it will!); I love when good things happen to good people!
Name: Liam Fitzpatrick
Hi Susan!! I haven’t even seen you in Millie yet, but from what I’ve heard you’re amazing! In everything!! Two questions. Could you tell me the steps to “Forget about the Boy” and when you and Miss Dorothy, or you and Mr. Graydon, and Jimmy are in the elevator, what step do you do to make it move?
Hi there Liam!! I’m laughing because not only am I not allowed to tell you the choreography – it doesn’t belong to me, but to Rob Ashford the choreographer – but I wouldn’t even know how to begin explaining it!! How do you type rhythms? =) I’m so, so sorry! I know it isn’t helpful at all! But if you are choreographing the numbers, I encourage you to make up your own steps – they’ll be wonderful!! You can listen to the rhythms on the cast album and match them with different steps. You may even get some the same! I’m so sorry I’m not more useful!
You are a beautiful singer! The best! I know you have sung like a million songs, but do you have a favorite song? Thanks! Good Luck and keep up the GREAT work!
Thanks so much, Leslie!! Oooohhhh, favorite song is sooo hard! I mean what’s fresh in my mind is how fun it is to sing GIMME, GIMME from MILLIE. But, say, in my solo concerts I adore story songs — which is reflected on my new CD actually, too. For example, Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich have a beautiful new song called OH HOW I LOVED YOU — I adore that — so I recorded it! But I also dig the really funny songs, like Jerry Herman’s WHERE IN THE WORLD IS MY PRINCE — so I did that one, too! I’m so bad, because I can only think of things I’ve recently had the pleasure doing. But there you go!! My favorite songs to listen to would currently be like Nora Jones tunes. Very beautiful and calming.
July 1, 2004 - Ask Susan Q&A
Well, WOW!! You guys have asked a lot of questions!! I have included every question I received and bunched similar questions together into single answers. I hope the answers are entertaining and helpful — I appreciate you writing in!!!
Hi Susan! Just got back from NYC from seeing Millie on my birthday (June 19th) for the 2nd time in 2 months, just because I loved it that much! My question (after thinking long and hard for a decent one) is what was a crazy/fun/interesting moment you had while performing as Millie up on stage?
Oh, another quick one, what is it like meeting crazy fans (me, for example) who just are so thrilled to actually be in your presence? Thanks,and keep us posted on your next project!
~ Lauryn (possibly known as Prom Picture Girl!)
Hi Lauryn – First off, I LOVE meeting you crazy folks, because I am decidedly crazy myself. I will admit – you were the first to put my headshot in your prom candids, but (as I never made it to my own prom – I was doing a show) I am HONORED and appreciative. =)
Live stage – great for embarrassing moments. The day before we closed in MILLIE, for example, when I did the prat fall in Act II – at the desk – in an effort to “seduce Mr. Graydon,” I fell on the floor, the desk rolled and the skirt of my dress actually went up into the wheel cover of the base of the desk. I mean A LOT of the shirt went up in there (think grocery cart wheels and you’ll have the idea) and I was STUCK. Truly trapped. I guess I was muttering “oh, dear – oh dear!” as I was trying to get free. I’m struggling on the floor – the audience (thinking it’s all part of it) is laughing. I’m looking up at Kevin (who plays Graydon) and his expression is like “Holy, crap.” This was taking soooo long, so I finally just started up with more lines. I’m pulling my skirt, sitting on the ground, saying, “So, Mr. Graydon – what is your opinion of brute force …” I YANK and GET MY SKIRT FREE. Kevin stares and says his line, “I’m not for it, not for it at all. That’s not what women really want. Give them a young man … Tom Sawyer at 20.” I’m still on the floor and it’s too late to try to get back in the desk, so I pose on the floor of the stage as sexy as I can – leg out, head back and say, “I never read Tom Sawyer, was he sexy?” Kevin now looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. “HE WAS 12!” he says. I’m so mortified (the audience is laughing, mind you) that I totally give up and throw away my last line as I sheepishly get back onto the seat, “Well, if you got it you got it.” It was the biggest laugh I ever had on that line.
Audiences react to authenticity. I think the moment worked better than it EVER had (Kevin liked it, too and we cracked up later), because I was REALLY scared! If I rip this skirt off, I have 40 minutes before I exit! I’m thinking – don’t rip it, don’t rip it – I still have the ledge dance with Christian to do!! The fear and embarrassment were exactly what Millie feels in front of Graydon. It was the best prat fall ever, because it was real. =)
Surprise moments on stage don’t always work out that well – like when Terry Mann (the Beast) pulled my wig off accidentally. That worked less well. =) But the MILLIE moment is the most recent!
Hi Susan! I am such a huge fan of yours. I loved you in 13 Going On 30 (I was so excited when you danced to Thriller!) I saw MILLIE in April and I had the chance to meet you after the show and got a Polaroid taken and autographed by you. You have probably met thousands of people through that same situation, but you might remember this more clearly… I was the other girl in the prom picture that was sent to you by my friend, Lauryn – Haha! This question is sort of coming from nowhere, but I saw a picture of you at a Broadway Baseball League event and it looked like you had a tattoo on your ankle. If this isn’t too personal, I was just wondering what it is of? Thank you so much!! =) Ilyssa
hi susan! my name’s katie i’m 20 years young from buffalo, ny. i was recently watching one of the drew carey episodes you guest starred on and i noticed a tattoo on your outside right ankle. i was wondering what it is. i’m into tattoos myself, i have 9 right now and i’m adding to my collection soon lol hope to hear from you ;o)
Hi Ilyssa and Katie!! Hey good eye!! I do have a tattoo (two actually). The one on my ankle is designed to look like a stained glass window and has a Lily (Susan means lily), a Lotus (for spirit) and a Rose (for Earth). The other is a small letter “M” with a heart in the V of the M. It signifies many things for me – Hartmann (my guy’s name), Manhattan (after Sept 11) and “moment” which I try to live in. It’s on my pulse on my left wrist. Remember kids, tattoos are permanent – think long and hard before getting one! I waited until I was 30!
What is you favorite food?
I’m so glad you asked, Rebecca. Pizza and ice cream – Pepperoni and Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch respectively. I’m trying not to eat too much of either.
I saw you perform at Epcot a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the concert. Any chance you will be coming back to Florida soon?
Yes, actually. I have two concerts coming up – both symphony concerts:
The Southwest Symphony in Ft. Myers, February 25 and 26th – and the Sunshine Pops in Boca Raton, March 13th. You can check out all concert appearances on the BUZZ page for more details. Hope to see you there!!
Hi Susan! First off I’d just like to say that I am a HUGE fan :). As an aspiring performer, well, dancer, myself, I’d love to sing as well as you do. You are truly an inspiration. I saw you in Cabaret in October and soon after I rushed out to purchase “So Far…” within the same week. It is absolutely my favorite CD and you should be commended for such amazing work. I had already seen “Millie” with Sutton, and unfortunately did not get a chance to come see it with you as Millie. Time and money ran out, hehe. My question is: whats next? Any upcoming projects or concerts? I love seeing you perform, so keep me posted. 🙂 Another question: is there any way you could send me by mail an autographed copy of a Cabaret playbill? You’re an idol to me, and believe me, in doing this, you’d make one 17 year old girl very happy. 🙂 Thanks for your time, and best wishes in all you do!
Jaimie!! I’d love to make a 17 year old girl happy!! I’m so pleased you enjoyed CABARET, by the way. I do have a few PLAYBILLS left, and I’d be happy to sign one for you and send it off. You can always check out the procedure for requesting this on the FAN site, then click CONTACT US. But I’ve also copied it below. Just remember to remind me that you are looking specifically for a CABARET PLAYBILL. =)
Hi Susan I am a huge fan and my dream one day is to play Belle on Broadway. I am a 16 year old actress and would love to know how you came about auditioning for Belle?
Hi Penny! It looks as thought Beauty and the Beast will be around for quite a while, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you DID play Belle very soon!
I auditioned in 1993 a short time after moving to NY. I was pounding the pavement and singing for every show I possibly could (all of them were agent submitted, if that was your question) – that season it was CAROUSEL, GREASE, MY FAIR LADY, etc. B&B was just another audition, and frankly, I almost didn’t go – I still don’t think I’m pretty enough for the role. But I DID go, thank goodness! I sang “The Story Goes On” from BABY, read the scene they gave me, then learned I was called back for Belle. The callback consisted of THREE days in a row. Day 1: working with the director and musical director. Day 2: Singing for composer Alan Menken (I was most nervous this day). Day 3: 6 hours at the John Houseman Theatre, singing and reading for the heads of Disney (Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg as well as all main producers) and all of the production team. I read with 2 different Beasts (one was Terrence Mann who got the role) and 3 different Gastons (one was Burke Moses who got the role). I arrived that morning at 11am and stayed until 5pm!! They called that night to let me know I had been cast!! I was so exhausted … and so excited!
Good luck to you, Penny!
Name: David Stinson
Hi, Susan. Hope you enjoyed the Meg pin I gave you back at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Thanks for signing that BATB CD for me. Will you be back out there this year?
Hi Susan, I’ve only seen you once, in Beauty and the Beast, in CA. I thought you were wonderful and so very talented. My eight year old daughter, Dani, loves to sing to your song, “Home”. My question to you is, how long have you been singing, how much studying have you done and do you think that a voice can be developed into a sensation or is natural talent a must? I hope to see you again in another musical. Will you be in California any time soon?
HI Karen and David – Thanks so much for your interest! I do still have the pin, David!!!
For all appearances, check out the BUZZ page on the website. I will be in CA, as soon as August 26 in Founder’s Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. One night only to launch my new CD – hope to see you there!
As for voice lessons: I began studying voice when I was 15 and I am proof positive that you can LEARN TO SING. =) I was not a natural – had a very small voice, in fact. I believe singing is like any sport – you can train the muscles with a good instructor. Natural ability will play a part – we’re not all going to be Tiger Woods on the golf course – but we can ALL become pretty darn good golfers if we work at it! Musical theatre doesn’t demand GREAT, GREAT voices – it’s a medium that demands balance – being able to sing well, dance well and act well. I think I work in this area, because I’m pretty well-rounded. Opera is reserved for those who work hard AND have extreme natural talent, bone structure, lung capacity, etc. Make sense? If you have a good ear – can hear and match pitch (even if your voice is weak) – I believe you can work hard to have a pretty rockin’ instrument. Have fun! I do recommend finding a good teacher though, because singing incorrectly can cause damage.
Hello! I just saw TMM yesterday (the Sat. matinee) and I LOVED it! I can’t believe I didn’t come see it sooner! I was the one who, when you walked outside, I said I’d do yoga with you and then I asked you to take a picture for my friend (who’s a big fan) and I got your autograph and stuff. (thank you so much, by the way!) As a tapper, I watched your every move, learned some of the choreography, and was AMAZED at how freely you move, not just while dancing, but while running, walking, etc. Furthermore, I cannot BELIEVE that you went into the role of Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street with no previous tap experience! So, my questions are: did you pick up the tap quickly and how often were you rehearsing? Growing up, did you like ballet or jazz better? Did you ever do pointe? And, despite your busy schedule, do you plan on having any downtime when TMM ends…tonight!? Do you plan on traveling, taking a nap, seeing other Broadway shows, doing yoga or just spending time with your boyfriend? Are you sad it’s over? Would you reprise your role of Peggy for the closing?
Thank you so much for your time! You’re such an inspiration, and I can’t wait to get your new CD and see what I remember of the office scene/desk/typewriting choreography! PS:Once TMM is over, will you ever do triple time steps on an elevator ever again? 🙂
Hi Carly!! I plan to do triple time steps on every elevator I ever encounter from now on – ignoring the nasty looks I’m sure I’ll earn from other riders. =)
Thanks for the sweet compliments. I do move in weird ways – one critic called it an Olive Oyl flounce and that probably nails it. I like to really learn choreography/staging then let go of it and just let my body do it on it’s own. Does that make sense? It’s hard to explain.
I was nervous learning Peggy Sawyer, but have learned that tap (for me) is simply a matter of repetition. Get it so into my feet that my brain doesn’t have to remember it. I did not study tap as a child. I was strictly ballet (and character) oriented at a studio that taught by the conservative Royal Ballet technique. Black leotards, pink tights. I studied for about 14 years and did work on pointe for many of them (one I hit 13 or so). I moved to another, less conservative, studio and then began taking jazz (as a teen) and loved it, too – but ballet was my favorite.
I am having some downtime now, which I love. Spending time in CA, cooking, being lazy, traveling, hanging with the cute boy friend. =) I did gain like 4 pounds in the week after MILLIE closed, so I’m cutting down on the carbs and working out (so sore!). But July is my month for calming down after some crazy months – this last week I finished my new CD, MILLIE, a film, and a bunch of voice overs. Funny how things all end at the same time. Makes room for new beginnings. And yoga. Thanks for the reminder of that!
Name: kara j.
a couple questions from cabaret, I am directing Cabaret this summer and i have a couple questions for you, 1. How is the egg and glass trick acheived? i tried using a sponge in the bottom of the glass but it did not work, 2. how was the lighting acheived in the finale, im looking to do the same doors go up in the end finale with the people in black standing there with no band on the platform, and also, does sally dance in the kick line? i thought and swore i saw katrina yaukey do it on the thirteenth but i could be wrong, and also, do you smoke real cigarettes on stage? because i think ive heard of an herb called lemon grass, what do theatres use? and if you could tell me if that mein heir corssette was lined with flesh colored fabric or not would be great thanks sus
a big fan of your work
Hi Kara or Betty – not sure which. =) Maybe you’re a Gemini!
I can’t disclose all CABARET secrets as they are not mine to disclose and frankly I’m not sure how to explain how the doors fly at the end. BUT I’ll share what I can.
The corset is lined with flesh fabric – no one wants to see too much of a gal’s body while she’s running around! Sally isn’t in the kick line – if Katrina was on for Sally she would have sat the kick line out. The lighting at the end (after the doors fly?) is bright, bright white lights in the back with smoke effect – to make the stage look like the gas showers from concentration camps. Heartbreaking effect. I smoked real cigarettes – Capris – because they burn less hot than the herbals. The herbals killed my chords, but some actors prefer them. The egg: Jennifer Jason Leigh simply drank the egg. I didn’t (can’t eat too many myself). The mug has a clear plexi top glued to half of the top. Like a half moon shape. I keep that side of the cup towards me, crack the egg in the other half, stir, then when I tip the cup to drink, the plexi keeps the egg in the mug. Make sense?
There are no laws that say you have to do anything the way we did it, though. I encourage you to draw new ideas from yourself and try them out!! That’s the discovery that makes theatre great!!! Good luck!
You’ve been one of my favorite performers for a very long time– when I was seven, I got a Disney Princess Collection CD for my First Communion, and ‘Home’ was on it. That was nine years ago, and I’m still keeping tabs on you! I’ve tried to nab all of your recordings, and ‘So Far’ is the CD I warm up with before voice lessons. I’ve even perfected my Meg impression. Imagine how jealous I was when I found out that a few of my friends in California had you presiding over their school (Ruthie & Erik, as ambiguous as that may be)!
Needless to say, I was really excited when I found out that you were going to be doing “Millie” while my mom and I were in New York. I thought maybe I’d have a shot at meeting my idol (or at least seeing her live)– but the show’s closing two days before I get there! So, I thought I’d ask– why’s the show closing on such short notice, and what’s your next project? Can we expect to see you back on the Great White Way anytime soon.
Whew! Sorry for the long-windedness. Please respond! It would mean the world to me.
Why is “Millie” closing so early? I thought the show was doing really well, and if you were supposed to be in it until September, they can’t have been expecting to close it this soon….?
Name: Mary Lee
Hi Susan! I would just like to thank you for the autographs and taking a picture with me! It was so great to finally meet you! My brother and I had an absolutely, wonderful time watching “Millie” tonight!! I was wondering why the show’s run was ending so soon. (I was going to ask you that question before but I was so awe-struck from meeting you that I totally forgot!) Once again, thank you for everything and I wish you the best of luck on your future projects! =) –Mary
Hi Kristie – I’m SO sorry to have missed you in NY – but I hope you had a wonderful time!!! I adore Ruthie and Erik, by the way. =)
Hi Mary – it was great meeting you as well – thanks for the note backstage!
Thanks for writing, too, Kelly!!!
Okay – to all you guys: Why is MILLIE ending so soon? I actually think it was smart to finish the run with audiences still enthusiastic, actually. But Jeanine Tesori – the composer – I think really explains it well. On Broadway, hit revivals have a life of about 2 years. GUYS AND DOLLS which was a huge hit 10 years ago closed right after the two-year mark. That just seems to be the life of revivals. And though MILLIE is a new musical – the perception is that it is not. You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve met who think MILLIE was on Broadway 20 years ago – some remember seeing it!!! Hee, hee. I think the movie really stands out in folk’s minds as having been a Broadway show in the 60’s or 70’s as well. When Jeanine explained this to me, it really made sense. First off, a 2 year run of any show is spectacular – most shows close in 2 months! And a 2 year 2 month run of a show that in people’s minds is a revival is pretty darn great. I also think the producers were wise, knowing that once the show closes in NY, regional theatres and schools will all begin mounting productions. And the more MILLIEs the better!
From: M Morgan
I have been singing for years and am almost 25. Right now I am learning to better my skills with music theory. My teacher says I have potential in music theatre and opera and the thought of pursuing such fields in entertainment is exciting to me. I am well aware of how it is competitive and rejections are non-stop. But my worry is… dancing. I have never been good at it. In fact, I haven’t had any good lessons. I feel that I may be too old for music theatre pieces like Phantom of the Opera or Beauty and the Beast. Or useless since dancing is my weakness.
If I get into trying dancing lessons, what dance is best to learn for music theatre? How many years would you recommend I take?
I envy your position in entertainment. I imagine it was hard work. Though I feel that I am a late start in my age. I would appreciate any advice as I know you have given much to others on your fan site.
Hi Mary! IT’S never too late. A friend of mine started when she was 40 and her kids were grown and is now on Broadway in CHICAGO!! 25 is not too late. And though dancing is a definite asset, there are shows that don’t have much dancing at all! Even in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST there is a singing ensemble that has to move well, but not dance. Still, dancing will increase your odds. I suggest taking Adult Beginning Ballet and Jazz. It will be awkward at first, but you’ll be surprised how quickly your body adjusts and learns!!! Do it! Even if you don’t end up dancing in a huge show (by the way, opera won’t demand this of you!), having more body awareness will help your singing and overall health!!! Do it. Keep an open mind – you may even enjoy it!!
Hi Susan! I loved seeing you in “Millie” you were the BEST person to play the role of Millie. “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is now my favorite Broadway show ever! I saw on one website that you guys are coming to Fort Worth on 9-28-04. Is that true? Because if it is i’m DEFINATLY buying tickets the day they come out. And if you guys are coming to Fort Worth is there any way I can meet you after the show and get a picture with you? And maybe an autograph? You are now my favorite actress! Thank You, ~Kathryn
HI Kathryn – so glad you enjoyed the show. =) I believe the tour IS coming through Fort Worth – it’s a different production with a different cast than the NY production I just did, but you’ll love it all the same. Darcie Roberts is the MILLIE on tour and she ROCKS!! Enjoy!!
Hi! My name is Ashley and I had the privelege of not only seeing you in Millie on June 5, but meeting you at the stage door after the show (I was the one who told you I remembered you from your days on “Nikki.” But this is probably not a useful bit of information.) I have a very random question for you and I hope you will obligingly answer it… how tall are you? (My friend and I have a bet going on this one.)
Ashley (A HUGE fan!)
Oh, Ashley, I want you to win the bet! Hope you do! I’m 5 feet 3 and one half inches. In other words … short.
How are you doing? I saw that Millie was suppose to be done in June is that true? Also, what is your favorite number in that show? Thanks!
Hey Susan! I just saw Millie for the last time this past Sunday (June 13). You did a most wonderful job again. I am really going to miss the show, but this was a nice sense of closure for me. I wanted to thank you for just being so kind at the stage door. I really appreciated the opportunity to talk with you for a little bit and I was so amazed that you remembered my posting a question during my final exams. It really means a lot to me that you still understand how important it is to reach out and inspire others. Theatre can just be such a wonderful escape and you made it a great experience, so thank you again. I certainly hope to remain in contact with you, if you can handle the slight annoyance.
Ok, so on to the question: What do you think you are going to miss most about stepping away from Millie? (and maybe even, what are you not going to miss?)
Hi Nicole and Karey –
Okay, honestly? While I was doing MILLIE I could eat ANYTHING!!!! I mean anything – ice cream, cookies, you name it! The show was such a marathon of activity – I loved that – it actually fueled me and kept my energy really high – and metabolism!! Strangely, it didn’t exhaust me the way CABARET did – I think happy endings and bright colors are good for my mood and energy.
Favorite numbers: Speed Test, by far was my favorite dance and Gimme, Gimme is a GREAT song. I love Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlon for creating a song for women that builds so well! Other favorite: working with one of my best gal pals, Linda Gabler, who was in the cast, as well as working alongside the rest of the group — a truly cool and talented company on and off stage. And Mary Ann – the best dresser in the world. =)
Things I won’t miss: my haircut – now I get to grow it back out!
Name: john Pirroni
hi susan…its me again, i just recently auditioned for the national tour of the lion king this past saturday in boston, and i 1.was wondering if you knew how the call back system worked, you see one girl was telling me that you can get 8 call backs during one year and not get in the show, and also, 2. is there a good site to find auditions in boston and new york, and also 3. is there any site or for that matter any where i can view the cabaret 1998 revival commercial, i know the official website used to have it back when the show was up, but i cant seem to find it any where and finally since tmm is ending/ended, did you ever consider auditioning for “wonderful town”? i think you would do the part of Ruth Sherwood absolutely amazingly aaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnddddddddddd!!!!! you’d utilize that hair cut yet again for a fourth show!!!!!!!!!!! whoo hoo go susan and her never ending page boy hair cut, you are fabulous susan, i only hope to act along side you one day. like a peter alan judy garland thing only you would have aged better, not to say that ms. garland wasn’t pretty, and minus all of the sleeping and caffine pills haha, lots of luve from one of your devoted fans!!!!!!!!!!..hush up dont tel hm hm…………
Hi John – congrats on your LION KING audition. Going to the calls is 90% of it. Just keep going and something will stick!! The call back process can be anything, really. You may have several callbacks or none and still be cast. For a show that is on-going like LION KING, they may keep someone they like on file for years until the spot they are right for opens up – you never know. So just go!! The best way I know to find out about auditions is Back Stage magazine. They probably have a website, too!
As for WONDERFUL TOWN – thanks for thinking of me. I actually read the script and the way they are casting this production, I think I fall between types for the two sisters – I’m something in the middle. =) But it’s a great production!! SO glad Kathleen Marshall won for choreography!!!
Hey susan!! I was just wondering… how many pairs of shoes do you wear in Millie? THanks! You’re amazing!!! Liam
Name: Kelly (again) ;D
Hi Susan! I saw MILLIE on June 4th and absolutely loved it! You were incredible (as always ;P)!!! I wonder if you remember meeting me, I left you a note and then met you at the bottom of the stairs after the show and took a picture with you and you autographed my program!….well, at any rate, it was really a very nifty experience, and thank you so much for that! =D
Anyway, my question(s)…I had my final exam for theatre class the other day; we all had to perform a monologue. The feedback I got after I went was that it was a “wonderful performance”…but too fast. A lot of what I said was lost because of the speed at which I said it. Do you have any advice on how to improve on this; have you ever encountered this problem before? Did you have any problems that you faced when you were starting out as an actress?
I also have a kind of random question. After MILLIE, my mom commented on how many different pairs of shoes everyone wore, and how they all perfectly coordinated with the costumes. How many different pairs of shoes did you wear during the show? Did you have a different pair for each costume???
One last question! I love to read, as do you, and I was wondering if you have a favorite book of all time…well, thanks so much for reading and answering! I know it’s a lot! ;D
Hello Liam!! Thanks for writing, and …
Hey Kelly!! I do remember you, yes! Glad you liked the show/. =)
Shoes: there are 400 pairs of shoes in the show!!! I had 8 pair and was given them all when we closed!!! I am keeping the shoes! It’s awesome, truly!
Favorite book: I have hundreds, but one I’d suggest is THE MISTS OF AVALON if you haven’t read it. It’s the story of King Arthur told from the women’s point of view. The book is far better than the mini-series they made, by the way.
Okay – speedy monologue. This is common in young actors and anyone who gets nervous. The way to slow down is to a) slow down (hee, hee) and b) to really make your point. This is what I say to young actors I am coaching. Make the point. To do so you will have to direct the information (the text) in a way that someone can catch it – like tossing a ball. “Making your point” will keep the speed appropriate – some things will be faster (easier to grasp) than others – thus some will be delivered faster than others. Make sense? But congrats on making it up there and doing it!! That’s the hardest part – slowing down will be simple!
Name: Jacquie Militano
Susan! I just have to say that I think you are fabulous! I know “idol” is a bit of a cliche word to use, but I admire you (I met you after TMM and cried!). I have followed your career, watching you in everything from all the Broadway musicals, Disney movies, etc. I am a theater major, and I beginning to really devote most of my time to auditioning. It is so difficult and stressful, yet it is so enticing and I love it. I have been performing since age 3! Anyways, you have had such great success being an actress/singer/dancer…I was wondering what advice you would give to a girl starting out. I’ve done the college and community theater scene for so long…It’s almost as though I don’t know where to go next. Also, I always check in with your ‘Sus Suggests’…are there any other books you would suggest reading for this summer. I have read most all of the ones on your list! Thanks! Much love…
Hi Jacquie – I’ll definitely update the book list as I post these answers – so hopefully you’ll find a few great reads there!!
It sounds to me that you are at that place in your training and career when I was most frustrated, too!! I’m laughing because your feelings are all too familiar to me!! BUT in hindsight I can say that this period is brief. If you have really exercised all options at the community theatre and school level, I suggest you begin auditioning for bigger things if you can near your home. This doesn’t mean you’ll actually take any of the jobs necessarily (you may have more time at school, I’m not sure) but it gets your juices flowing a little more, and you’ll begin to meet another group of people.
Auditioning is stressful – you are 100% correct. It never ceases to be, I’m afraid. But throwing yourself out there – even for jobs you don’t want or aren’t quite right for – can lead to great things. That casting director may remember you for something else down the road that you ARE right for … and so on. I know this sounds silly, too, but if you have a summer free you might want to pursue a theme park entertainer gig (I have a student doing that now) – it’s a little money and great experience!! Interning is also a wonderful way to get to that next level! Let me know how it goes!
Have you thought about mounting your own production of something as well? Trying your hand at producing, writing, or directing, can sometimes re-inspire you and also give you SUCH an amazing new perspective that will help in your performing, too!
How long have you been acting? And what was your favorite Broadway that you’ve been in?
If you count my humble beginnings, my first play (in school) was in the 5th grade. Then one in 7th, then lots of children’s theatre camps and so on, until college – then I began working professionally.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was a dream come true because it was my first Broadway show and such an amazing experience. I also loved developing TRIUMPH OF LOVE. But CABARET is probably my favorite because it taught me the most as an actress. Thanks for writing Kathryn!
Hi!! I just Saw you in Millie last night on the 11th of June. I absolutly loved it and was glad i got to see you at the stage door afterword. Your performance was wonderful and i was so happy i got the chance to see you before the show ends on the 20th. When i was 4 i saw u in Beauty and the Beast and fell in love with Broadway. I also just wanted to say that it is very nice of you to stay and make sure every single person gets your autograph that wants it. Millie was the first show that i didn’t see stars from the show sign just two or three playbills at the stage door and then rush off. thanks so much for inspiring me. always,
Thanks for the kind words, Sarah!! I’m glad you enjoyed both shows and that you stopped to say hi to us!!
Hi! You are such an amazing singer and I haven’t seen you in Millie because I went with my chior to perform at Carnegie Hall and we saw Lion King, but I am sure you were fantastic. You were wonderful as Belle! I was just wondering what is your favorite movie musical? (it can be any not just ones you performed in). I know these a little bit dumb of questions, but do you like The Sound of Music? Thanks for being such an inspirational person!
I LOVE THE SOUND OF MUSIC and anyone who doesn’t is a fool! =) How’s that?! Seriously, Julie Andrews is one of my idols – I‘ve loved everything she’s done. But my favorite movie musical is probably AN AMERICAN IN PARIS. Gene Kelly – he’s da bomb.
Hi Susan, I was just wondering, I had always wanted to be a performer but I’m sixteen and haven’t done anything besides colorguard. Is it too late to start and how do I start?
It’s NEVER too late for anything!! I didn’t start singing until I was 15, so I only have a few months on you. =) And color guard is great music and dance training! So you may be ahead of me!! Follow your heart, Sara. 16 isn’t too late for anything!!
Name: Nichole Warhurst
Dear Susan, I have trouble at school because al the teachers treat me like I’m some kind of little angel or princess,or something.I’m tired of it,because my(so-called)friends make fun of me and when they want something from a teacher they try to use or involve me to get it,and I don’t know what to do.Please help me!
Just be yourself, darlin. Listen to yourself and do what comes naturally – not worrying about pleasing others (friends or whatnot). Frankly, if teachers like you, I think you must be pretty cool. Relax and enjoy your classes. Be open to meeting new people who might share more common interests with you, and above all … BE KIND TO EVERYONE!!! Everyone. Be kind. This will make you happier than anything and soon real friends, and false friends will become easier to determine. =) Genuine kindness has a way of eliminating people’s mean behavior towards you (though be warned it may take time) and also center you in yourself.
Name: Kayla Muth
I was just wondering if any point in your career if you ever had trouble getting up and going through your daily acting regimend. Somedays I just don’t feel like doing what I know will make me better running wise, and I was wondering if you had any advice to give in your extremely limited spare time. Thanks.
Motivation is always hard. I don’t really want to work out when I get up in the morning, but I know if I do I’ll feel better later. SO find something small to motivate yourself — music that will get your heart pounding – a treat for the end of the accomplishment, etc. You’ll have to change the motivational tidbits to keep it all going, but they can work. BUT also know that sometimes you just don’t want to . Allow room for that in your life, too! Don’t beat yourself up too much. We can’t be passionate 24/7!!
Name: Nicci Hartland
I am not sure if this has been asked before but here goes:
Do you get a chance to see other broadway shows and if so what is your top 5?
Hi Nicci — I haven’t seen many this season, because I was working myself. BUT I have seen and loved CAROLINE OR CHANGE!!! It really moved me!! In the past I’ve seen and loved: THE CRUCIBLE, ANGELS IN AMERICA, NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, and ALL MY SONS (in London). I think I’m moved by serious subject matter, whether it’s a play or musical. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t laughed my behind off at terrific productions like HAIRSPRAY. =)
Hi Susan! I was wondering what kind of dog Willa is? I think she is a beautiful dog! And I love her name to! Keep up the great work! Thanks ~ Jill!
So glad you asked, Jill! Willa is a “dog by committee” which basically means I don’t know WHAT she is. I got her at the pound and I think she’s a 70 pound spaniel/lab mix. She’s lovely, and smelly, and very goofy. She’s named after Willa Cather the writer!
Hi Susan, Millie closes out at the end of june. I was just wondering what, if any, show you plan on doing next.
I had the pleasure to see you perform as Sally Bowles in Cabaret in 2003 and at the final matinee on January 4. You truly are an amazing performer! I was wondering what was up next for you after MILLIE closes on June 20.
Hi Freddy and Rachel – what’s next!! Good question. I have a new CD that will be released on the web mid-July and in stores September 7. I’ll be doing concerts around the country to promote that – mostly after the New Year. Until then, I just finished a film and will begin the process of auditioning for more work!! Ah, the glamorous life! Unemployment! But I will also enjoy a bit of a rest – it’s been a very busy year, and I’ll be sure to post all new projects on the website! So keep tuned! Hopefully there will be much to post!
Susan, you rock and you’re a great actress. Have you always wanted to be an actress?
HI Beca – Actually, no. And I’m not sure I will always be an actress. Do love it for now – the creative self-exploritory aspect. I’ve learned a great deal about myself and others as a result of acting. But I sort of imagine I’ll move onto other things at some point. I adore science and would probably have pursued an area of that (I was an anthropology major in college) if not for the acting. And in the future I’d like to devote most of my time to writing! Novels, I am hoping!! We’ll see!
Hi Susan! My friend Michael and I have greatly enjoyed watching your career! (you might remember him–he’s the funny little Italian guy who brings flowers and/or crispy M&Ms to the stage door). Here’s my question: what is the one stage role you would give absolutely anything to play?
Oooohhh. Hmmm. Probably something from Shakespeare – Beatrice, Portia? I had to turn Beatrice down a few years ago because of scheduling and it just about broke my heart! I adore Shakespeare – probably for me, comedies especially – but I have been thought of as a musical actress. We’ll see if I can change that thinking! Tell Michael thanks for the M&Ms!!!!
Hi Susan! I saw Millie during March of this past year. I just found out today that it was closing…and to tell you the truth, I’m devastated. Even though I’ve only seen the show once, it grew to become my all time favorite. I had planned on asking for tickets for my 21st birthday in September, but I guess that’s not going to work! When I saw the show in March, you were gracious enough to sign my song book and my friend’s playbills. I wanted to thank you for your patience and sincerity when we were there, it really meant a lot to us. You (and the show) made my trip to NYC. (We were the college group performing at Carnegie Hall that week)
You are such a sweet woman and I wish you all the luck and skill in your future.
I guess if I had a question, it would be…are you glad to see Millie come to an end, and what are your future plans after the show comes to a close?
Thanks so much Susan for your dedication to bringing alive a character that has made such a significant impact on the Broadway world.
Thanks so much for the sweet note, Kaylin. I remember your group – the one performing at Carnegie – that must have been an amazing experience.
MILLIE closing was surely bittersweet. I enjoyed doing the show, no doubt, but I’m also (I think because I’ve been in the business for a while now) accustomed to shows coming and going. When I was young I was always really sad when something came to an end, and then I actually saw an interview with Stockard Channing who said that shows closing always excited her – they mark the beginning of the next chapter. I really feel that way now. I’m sad MILLIE is gone – I’ll miss those folks, but the show had a great run, other people will now produce it, I got 144 shows, and now I can’t wait to see what’s next. =)
Thanks for writing, Kaylin!
Hey there, Susan! First of all, I’d like to say you’re an awesome actress, and although I’ve never had the privelage to see you live, I absolutely love your voice and energy! (At least I don’t think I’ve seen you, I saw Beauty and the Beast when I was about 5 or 6 at the Ordway in Minnesota, and I can’t remember who was performing as Belle) I’m actually listening to the B&B cast cd right now! Anyway, I’m a young performer, and I’ve had the privilege to be cast as leads in several musicals performed by community theaters. What is the best kind of preparation for a Broadway career? And secondly, I’m a natural first soprano, are altos more coveted for lead roles, such as Belle? Thanks so much, I hope I get to see you as Millie sometime!
HI Jocelyn – Congratulations on your work!! I talk a lot about advice to young performers in some of the answers from previous months – so check that out below. And no, I don’t think altos are more coveted at all. Belle has to hit an A, for example, so technically she’s a soprano. You do need to be able to balance your chest voice and head voice for musical theatre in general, but usually the ingénues in all shows are soprano based – even Millie. =) The character roles are often belters, but not necessarily altos. Does this help at all?
I’m afraid I didn’t get to do BEAUTY AND THE BEAST in Minnesota (though the Ordway is one of my favorite theatres!! So pretty!), but you may have caught Kim Huber who was the first Belle on the tour – she’s wonderful!
hi Susan..:) If you get this before June 20, I am having the great privilidge of seening you perform. yay! but my question is..(its rather lame, but here goes)was it weird at first having to kiss Christian when you took over the role of Millie..i mean, being Suttons boyfriend and all, or was it moreof a..gotta get the job done, its just acting kind of thing? I was asking this because I was in Little Shop Of Horrors recently, I was Audrey, and Seymour was my good friends boyfriend. and it came to the point where we just hugged. So i was just wondering if someone as talented as you ever felt weird, or out of place on stage..thank you for your time. 🙂 ~Lauren
Lauren! I love your question and wonder why more people didn’t think of it. =) I guess I’ve been doing this long enough now to not be flustered by having to kiss anyone. In fact – you could look at it as a perk!! =) But Millie is a job, and kissing Christian (as pleasurable as it is) is simply part of the job, even if he is Sutton’s guy. I had to kiss Terry Mann (the Beast) and I’m friends with his wife, Charlotte. That’s always odd. But you do it as the character. =) I’ve had to kiss guys who prefer guys. =) It’s all part of it. I’m okay with it – I can keep it all separate – and it’s never a bad thing to get a sweet kiss at the end of a tough show! =) My BOY FRIEND has a hard time with it – but that’s another story!!
From: Anwar Washington
HOW DO YOU GET THE AUDITION TO BE THE VOICE OF ”MEGARA” IN DISNEY’S ”HERCULES”?
WHAT THINGS THAT YOU’VE LIKE TO DO AT HOME, WHEN YOU’RE AWAY FROM THE THEATER?
WHAT TELEVISION PROGRAMS YOU’VE BEEN GROWING UP WATCHING?
WHAT THINGS THAT YOU’VE LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU’RE A LITTLE GAL?
WHERE DO YOU LIVE AT NOW?
AND FINALLY, DO YOU MET COREY BURTON, THE VOICEOVER WHEN YOU’RE AT DISNEY DOING ”MEGARA” FROM ”HERCULES”?
Hi Anwar. I got the audition for HERCULES through my agent back in 1994!! It was just one of hundreds of auditions I go on – that one just happened to stick!
At home I LOVE to read. I’m beginning to cook more as well – trying to eat healthy now!
On TV I grew up watching regular programs “Little House on the Prairie” – that kind of thing. Now I watch HBO and anything scientific and naturally …. professional poker. Go figure!
When I was little I loved being outside! Swimming, running. I also ice skated for many years and have always read voraciously.
And I”ve never met Corey Burton – though he’s done some great work! I recorded mostly by myself but also a few times with Tate Donovan and James Woods. That was fun!
I know MILLIE is a vocally demanding role, how do you keep your voice 8 shows a week…what advice can you give to me to keep my voice?
Name: Kris Lundberg
Hi Susan! I’ve been following your career for a while now and am always amazed the stamina that you put into all your work. I saw you in “State Fair” inwhich your Margie just warmed my heart. As well, this past week I saw you in “Millie” …what fun you must have had playing her! I was wondering what you did to stregthen your voice? I’ve studied with Patsy Rodenburg and other teachers that have taught me vocal technique, but always find myself really exhausted after a show…vocally. You’ve been such an inspiration to me throughout the years and I’ve continued enjoying your work time and time again. Best of luck with all of your future pieces!
Hi Brandon and Kris!! Yeah – stamina is the key, isn’t it? 8 shows a week can be tough. I have two voice teachers – one in NY and one in LA – and they both stress WARMING DOWN after a show. No one thinks to do this, but it really helps keep your voice centered. It’s just like dancing – you warm up and down! I also cut all acid from my diet – no tomatoes, no citrus, zero alcohol or caffeine. It’s also important to know that you can sing lightly sometimes – not every single note in the play is a money note. Sing naturally – like you speak. Just let your voice come out – don’t push every note – make sense? It is possible to do 8 shows a week and not kill your chords!!! Promise! =)
Hi Susan, it’s Olli again. I was just listening to the “All That And More” CD and you (as always and as expected) do excellent work. As an aspiring musical theatre performer (I’m just about to be a freshman in college), I’m wondering if you could share some of your process when analyzing and performing a song. If you have a jumping off point generally or anything you’d like to share….hopefully this makes a little sense and I hope you’re enjoying Millie and everything else!
I think I naturally drift towards songs that I have an affinity with – when I record anyway – so there is something personal invested. But regardless I have never thought of myself as a great musician – I think I’m more of an actor, really. So I always approach material from a character standpoint. Making dramatic choices as the person will determine whether a note is belted or sung softly in head voice. It’s also important to be aware of the story being told. As I said to another questioner, “make the point” as an actor (or singer). The character is saying these things for a reason – what is it? Who are they speaking to? And now “make your point” while your singing it! Throw the meaning just as much as your throw the sound. =) Hope that helps!!!!
Hey Susan 🙂
I saw your very first performance as Millie which was mad fun (for me and I hope for you!). I also saw you running out to greet your public when I was hanging with my man Rey on a recent Saturday afternoon. Anyway, I enjoy your website and thought I’d ask you a question or two.
One: If I come back to NYC before Millie ends, can you teach me Thriller? 😉 Ha, just kidding
Two: My friend Erin and I decided from your website that you are crazy fun and also a little odd. We think you should run around backstage yelling “HORNSWAGGLE!” cause it’s a crazy fun word. Could you do that just once to satisfy us?
Thanks and hooray for your fun site!
Dearest Cristin – I completely agree that HORNSWAGGLE is a crazy fun and very satisfying word to yell … not only backstage but in line at the movies as well.
I’d like very much to teach you the Thriller dance as well, but I have blocked it from my mind entirely. =) Oh, Hornswaggle! See? Works in a myriad of situations. =)
Yes, I’m odd. Glad you are, too!
Hi Susan, Greetings from the West Coast my California buddy! First, I am a Sus News addict-checking for updates weekly!! Let me also offer my absolute devotion as a fan (and I second all the lovely compliments throughout the question page!). But, let me cut to the chase of my (hopefully) origional question: I loved “Nikki” when it was on the WB and miss it!! I was wondering if you keep up with any of your castmates? Or watch their new shows? (Crossing Jordan, Carnival, Las Vegas, etc.) Oh, and did you guys have fun together? Oh, I just love this Q/A page! Fantastic! Let me know 🙂
<3, Jamie (that’s a heart)
**PS Totally off topic-but I read that you have seen and liked Eddie Izzard!!! Oh, Susan, we have so much in common, it’s eerie! He’s brilliant! Your Brillent! Well, fantastic! THank you again! –j
Eddie Izzard is BRILLIANT. I went with the entire cast of CABARET this year to see him at Town Hall in NYC. Awesome. It was actually the costume designer of NIKKI that got me hooked on him – what a coincidence!
I loved, loved the folks on NIKKI. Nothing like an average sitcom to bond people together. =) I have seen Toby Huss (now on Carnivale) several times in LA – our paths seem to cross the most. I’ve also seen Steve Valentine (Crossing Jordan) many times. He and I really bonded at NIKKI because our scenes were always nuts and always together. I also love Brits and he’s one. =) I haven’t seen Nikki herself very much – but I know she has gotten married and that Vegas is going well. Her hubby works in the same business as my guy, so I actually see him more.
And as fate would have it, one of our main directors on NIKKI, Shelley Jensen, just directed the film I did the last few weeks. My role is very Mary Campbell, so he called and offered it to me!!! Very cool.
The only person I have not seen, in fact is Nick Von Esmarch – who I miss!
Hello B&B was my first Broadway show and me and my parents thought it was great! It might be a werid question but what is your favorite Civilizations? mine is Anceint Egypt I LOVE ancient Egypt. Anyways good luck in Millie and I hope I can see you in some shows again!
Great question, Yukino!!! I think I have to go with Egyptian as well AND Mayans. Both were so advanced scientifically!!
In the spirit of ten years of Beauty, I have a question…You played a quirky ingenue as Belle, and now ten years later you’re playing another quirkly ingenue as Millie…what difference does ten years make as to what you bring to “that girl”?
PS-Just saw 13 Going on 30…nice Thriller.
Great question!!! I like to say I’m the old Millie – not because I’m that much older than the other actresses, really, but because I feel I’m so much older than I was when I did roles like this one. Good news – I can still fit the costumes from 10 years ago! Thank goodness. I’m just not sure I fit the rest of the character. It is weird, because I’ve been through and grown so much since the days of Belle. Sally Bowles (and other dramatic characters) happened. Life happened. I hit 30. And I think this time around it was hard for me to be purely innocent. I have grown an edge it seems, and I like the edge, but it may not be right for all roles. Millie’s director, Michael Mayer, directed me in TRIUMPH OF LOVE as well (which was soon after BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) – and he always liked my mischievous slant on things as an actress. He wanted that again as Millie, but then I wondered if it came off as interesting and ruthless in a scrappy way or perhaps as too knowing. The thing is, I think I can still “do” that ingénue thing – just not sure if it holds my interest as much as it used to. I’d LOVE to play someone in their early 30’s – someone my age and with similar life experience. THAT will help me grow as an actress. I loved Millie, don’t get me wrong! I’m so grateful for the opportunity … it was fun to re-visit that kind of role in a show as joyous at this one – especially at the 10 year anniversary mark of BEAUTY. I think Millie is my bookend role for the ingénue era of my life. =) Now I’d like to stretch a bit more in a new direction with the next thing. =)
Name: Todd Wong
Susan–you are my favorite Broadway performer! I live inSacramento and I have seen you at the Music Circus performing in South Pacific and the Unsinkable Molly Brown. Time sure flys! The Music Circus has been transformed to a new theatre with air conditioning, but is still a theatre in the round. I sure hope that you come back one day to perform a Cabaret show like those down in southern California. Will you be coming back to California to perform in any venue this year.
Hi Todd – I LOVE Music Circus! I hope to get back there in the next few years – and experience the air-conditioned theatre!!
I do have some performances scheduled in CA – but nothing as of yet in the Sacramento area. But keep up with the BUZZ page on the website – things may change soon!!
Hey Susan! I live in CANADA :), and I was just wondering if you are planning to ever come to Western Canada anytime. Also, I’m thinking of pursuing a career in Musical Theatre…Do you think that it is necessary to move to someplace like Los Angeles, or New York, or even to Toronto to get lead roles, or even to be in more well known musicals/plays? I suppose the level opportunity there would be higher…but just wondering what your opinion is. Thanks!
Oh, I just have one more question! Sorry! I auditioned for a Performing Arts School in my City, but in the end, decided not to go because the general society of the school is quite negative (drugs, run-ins with the law, etc.) and so I was wondering if you think that attending a Preforming Arts school is necessary (or very beneficial) to become a good actress.
I don’t have any concerts in Western Canada right now, but you never know!! Keep up with the BUZZ page on this site – I’m booking more and more concerts each week for 2005.
As for your personal question: There is no one set path to finding a career in Musical Theatre. I applaud you for choosing not to go to the performing arts school, because clearly you know yourself well and that was the right choice for you. =) Bravo! Performing arts schools can be great, but they are not necessary. I believe you can learn a great deal no matter what school you go to – or what plays you do. Just get stage time! You’ll learn from the audiences!! I do think eventually you’ll need to live in a city like NY or LA or Toronto, but not until you are an adult – and before you go, get as much experience as you can in the city YOU LIVE IN NOW!! I did as much community theatre as I could – really gained experience and credits for my resume before I moved to New York. Just listen to yourself – like you are!!! You’ll know what works best for you! Good luck, Jessica!
Hi Susan! I am a HUGE fan of you! I met you at your concert in New London CT, The Bravo Broadway one, You probably dont remember me, but I was that 13 year old blonde girl with the bright red fuzzy shirt on. You signed your CD for me. And I just wanted to say Thanks SO much! and ask if you remember me? Thanks! ~ Jill
It must sound like I’m lying all the time, but yes I do remember. =) I’m pretty good with remembering if you provide details! And who could forget the snowstorm that night!!! I was amazed anyone made it to the concert at all! I barely did!! Thanks for coming, Jill, and I hope you have enjoyed the CD!!
Hi Susan! I was wondering if you had a Screen name? Like on AIM or AOL? but if you don’t want to give it out thats ok. Thanks
Hello Belle!! I actually don’t. The whole screen name thing is beyond me entirely. Plus, I spend too much time already on my computer!! Give me a screen name and I’d never leave!! Hee, hee!
Name: Dave Fish
My daugther just won her middle school talent show singing Joshua Novek. She’s a BIG fan (As am I!) and wants to know where she can get the sheet music. Do you know? (I also have her performance on video if you’d like to see!)
Hi Dave! Congratulations!! She’s actually the right age to sing JOSHUA NOVECK!! It’s such a great song! Unfortunately there is no printed sheet music for it – I’m afraid you’ll have to have it transcribed from the recording. OR you can do a search on the web for the writers. Maybe they’ve published by now: Douglas Bernstein and Denis Markell wrote the song. All I have is a hand written vocal chart – no accompaniment, but I’ll email it off to you. Hope it helps.
Name: Krystin Mille
Hi Susan. I Cant wait to see Thoroughly Modern Millie although i think Sutton should stay. but your kool too. I have a question…How long have you been dancing and what type of dance did you dance the most??
Sutton was magnificent, but if you love her you have to support her decision to move on to the next thing. =) I did BEAUTY for 2 1/2 years, the same length Sutton did MILLIE, so I know first hand what it’s like to feel you need to move on and give the next gal the role. No sense in staying when your body and mind are depleted – even if you’re still doing well in the show – sometimes it’s time to move on. Part of growing up, I guess. =)
I studied ballet seriously for about 14 years, then jazz, then I learned to tap when I started doing tap shows – I was 18 when I did Peggy Sawyer in 42ND STREET, so I guess by now I’ve been tapping a few years. =) I do love it!!
Name: Lisa Hahn
Hello Ms. Egan, I am a faraway fan of yours, living in western Canada I have never been to New York though I hope to come there one day. I just wanted to say that you have, to me, an amazing career, you’ve accomplished so much. I aspire to do a Voice-Over for a Disney character and I was wondering, were you asked to do the voice for Megara or did you have to audition like everyone else? Also I was curious about Broadway shows that you’ve done, have you had to audition for every role, or again were they offered to you? I would love to see a Broadway show and I hope to see you in ‘Millie’. Have lots of fun with it!
Hi Lisa – I auditioned for Meg in HERCULES. Actually they wouldn’t LET me audition for the role, because they didn’t think I was right for it – I was playing Belle at the time for Disney and that’s how they saw me – sweet — innocent. I had to BEG to get the audition, then when they finally said yes and heard me read, I think they were a little surprised. I was acting as Belle – I pretty much am Meg. =)
And as for Broadway – MILLIE was the first role I’ve ever been offered. I’ve auditioned for everything else. I was so honored to finally get the chance to do MILLIE — I had been offered an early workshop and couldn’t do it back in 1996!!
Name: Jack Sharkey
You seem to manage quite effortlessly a rigorous schedule of eight Broadway performances weekly with concert, motion picture, recording and television commitments plus related personal appearances. Beyond meeting the obvious physical demands, to what do you attribute, spiritually or otherwise, your extraordinary ability to maintain your “centeredness”?
Oh goodness. I guess I just feel so lucky to get work that I can’t say no to anything. And for some reason having demands put on me motivates me and keeps my energy really high. I like the running around! I’m nuts. I am spiritual and I know my being grateful and feeling a sense of responsibility to do a consistent and good job with projects is deeply rooted in that spirituality. I’m constantly amazed that people wait at the stage door, for example, so even if I’m physically tired from a show, I’m totally energized by my gratitude and enjoyment in meeting them. This life (even when it’s horribly difficult or painful) is pretty amazing. I like staying open to it all. Don’t know if this answers your question, but ironically having a spiritual life (and that could mean many things – for me it’s a sense of connectedness to others and our planet) keeps you grounded!!
Name: Kayla Muth
I just want to say that I saw “Millie” on May 5 and absolutely loved your performance and the play. I’ve always been fascinated by anything dealing with the Roaring ’20’s. I was hoping to get a chance to meet you but my group was in a bit of a hurry to get organized to leave, maybe next time. I was just wondering if you have ever been disappointed with some of your performances (things that only you would notice and not the audience)and, if so, how you were able to restore your confidence for the next performance knowing that you could do a little better because you had done so before. (I’m not an actress, but a runner, but advice from any stand point can always help)
Great question, Kayla. Absolutely I’ve been disappointed with my performance!! We all have, and I’d be worried about the soul who never was. =) But the beauty of theatre (and sports) is that there will always be another day. I get to do the show and work to do it better the next day! As I’ve grown older I’ve been less “upset” with myself when I’m dissatisfied with my performance. I found that beating yourself up is counterproductive. Give yourself room to have good days and bad, and you’ll find you have more good ones. Also, trust your technique!! Even if you think you could do better, you have still probably done quite well! There have been many a show when the director comes to my dressing room totally pleased with my performance – he/she didn’t notice any of the things that bugged me – and they are the DIRECTOR!! We are so hard on ourselves. It’s useful to grow, but not if you abuse yourself. Keep it light and flowing and just keep moving forward! The freedom of that will most likely solve most of the glitches!!
Hi Susan! ( again =)) anyway, I recently bought the soundtrack for the musical ” Jekyll & Hyde” and I totally love it. I also just bought the movie version too. I think one of the many reasons I like this show is that it has two good lead female roles. This means two more characters to put on my ” dream role list” Anyway, here’s my question this time. (as the ” J& H” soundtrack plays in the backround). Which character do you prefer, Lucy or Emma? Meaning which one would you say you like more? Right now I say Lucy because she has some of the best songs. Just wanted see your opinion. thanks. –Gail
Hey Gail. I saw J&H with Linda Eder and Chritianne Noll and loved them both. I think I probably fit Linda’s role better now – when I was in my 20’s I was probably more of an Emma. But those two were awesome!!! I think I’ll leave it to them!
I started as a fan through your Disney work (from the B&B OBC) and fell in love with you from HERCULES. I remember seeing you interviewed by Leonard Maltin on ET (still have the tape too) and thinking you must be a wonderful person and very funny. I then bought the OBC of TRIUMPH OF LOVE (couldn’t see it because I don’t live in NYC), and I fell in love with that CD. I also have “So Far,” which I love too.
Anyway, all well-deserving gushing aside, are there any interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits you could share about HERCULES? I’m always looking for interesting insights into the Disney animated classics!
By the way, I think you’d be the perfect Babe Williams if they ever get that PAJAMA GAME revival up and running. Or a great Ruth in WONDERFUL TOWN.
And if your boyfriend ever gets tired of hearing you practice, post it here and I’ll propose as soon as I can. 🙂
Wow – you have everything!! Thanks for being such a wonderful supporter! And I’ll let my guy know – maybe the pressure will help him move things along!
I LOVED meeting Leonard Maltin – that was very cool indeed! Crazy HERCULES stories would have to include working with CRAZY Jim Woods in the studio. I was expecting a very serious actor – I had seen “Salvador” after all! And in walks this manic, zany fast-talking dude – more Robin Williams than Gene Hackman. We start recording (improvising) and I can’t get a word in edgewise. Finally after he’d been talking for a few minutes straight, I looked at the producers in the booth and they threw up their hands and shrugged – powerless to stop the motor-mouth brilliance of Jim Woods. I finally looked Jim in the eye and said with every ounce of sarcasm I could, “Are you finished your oneness?” and they KEPT IT IN THE MOVIE!! He was hysterical to work with. Whenever I hear his voice in any movi,e all I can think of is, “my little Meg, my little Meg-pie, my little Nut-Meg …” He must have had like 40 different names – off the top of his head – for my character. I was so glad he played that role!! It was supposed to be Jack Nicholson – also brilliant – but a little too on the nose, you know? James played Hades like a sleazy Hollywood agent – perfect!!
Name: Victoria Venezia
Hi Susan! How are you? First I just wanted to say that having the opportunity to see you perform in “Millie” was truly a life changing experience for me! You continue to inspire me in so many ways in my own life and career with everything you do. I also wanted to thank you for being so incredibly sweet and gracious to me at the stage door. Meeting and having the chance to talk to you was a dream come true. Ok, for my question (it’s silly and cliche)…ok, if you were stranded on an desert island, what 3 material things would you want to have with you and who are 3 people that you would want to be there with you?
Hi Victoria! The pleasure is mine, always. Okay your question!! Having seen CAST AWAY I can pretty much say I’d like a complete first aid kit, thousands of matches, and a good set of knives. I’d also like to have my guy Rob, my brother, who could survive in the wild easily, and it’s only fair to also have his wife, Pla. =) She’s a great cook with seafood anyway!!!
g’day Susuan, Being an aussie I unfortunately don’t get around to the states much, but I would really love to see your on-stage performances. As such I can only see the cinema susan. When do we get to see you again on the big screen (apart from 13 going on 30)? By the way, I thought you were brilliant as meg, giving depth and attitude to a really outrageous disney character. Cheers, Adam
G’day to you Adam. Love the Aussies! My brother and his wife lived a few years in Sydney and I LOVED visiting them, despite all the deadly life forms that inhabit your large continent. Spiders, crocs, jellyfish, sharks, oh my. My guy lived there, too, for a few years and we just had a terrific visit with his Aussie friends (here in CA) last week.
I did just finish a new film THE THIRD WISH, but it is an independent, so it may take a while to reach theatres. Just keep your fingers crossed I’ll book another film soon! =) No worries, mate!
I JUST LOVED THE MOVIE GOTTA KICK IT UP!!! I recently got to see millie when I came to new york with some drama friends and our drama teacher from Oklahoma ! IT WAS AWESOME!!! I knew you could act, but your singing was just as great! I really am into broadway and I was just wondering if there was any advice you could give me? THANKS!
Shelby — thanks so much!! Were you the group from Oklahoma that I met at the stage door? So glad you liked both shows: GKIU and TMM!
There is endless advice I could give. Check out some of my answers below — from the first and second posting — there’s lots there. In addition, I’d say: train, train, train. Really view yourself clearly and recognize where you need to work. For me I really needed to learn to sing! =) I’m proof that you can LEARN, by the way!! I had been dancing, and acting, but singing was new for me, so at 15 I started to really study. Also, look to the performers and actors (theatre, film, tv) you admire and figure out what about them makes them appealing to you. For me, Meryl Streep — she’s beyond natural as an actress. I believe EVERYTHING about her performances! That helps me critique myself (I fall very short of her talent!) and inspires me to work on that very aspect in my own performances — relax, keep it honest and simple and authentic. Make sense?
September 4, 2004 - Ask Susan Q&A
In looking through the Q&A’s, I don’t see any mention of your high school days at OCHSA. Was going there helpful (more than a “regular” high school) or was it just another place to perform (assuming you DID get into plays there!)
Hi Nolene – Good question. Yes, definitely OCHSA was helpful, but my senior year was the first year the school existed and it was a very small program with about 50 students total! Now of course there are ten conservatories and 1200 students on OCHSA’s own campus! Very different. OCHSA was a good training ground for me, but I really credit the music classes of Dr. Ralph Opacic my first three years in high school for setting me on the path that OCHSA then further developed. Ralph built a huge and wonderful music program at my high school and it was that program which eventually became an official high school of the arts.
Name: Todd Wong
I just purchased tickets for the Coffee House release party in Orange County. Oh, I can’t wait!!!! So, if you see a wild a crazy guy cheering you every song, that’s me! I have followed your career since B & B and have have seen you twice performing at the Music Circus in Sacramento (South Pacific and Molly Brown). After the show, will you be around so I can take a photo with you? It would make my night and make the 8 hour drive to Sacramento a memorable one!
Todd! Can’t wait to see you there! Yes, definitely there will be photo ops after the show. I’ll be mingling, so don’t be shy about coming up to me and introducing yourself! See you then!!! And safe driving!
From: Kyle Cochran
I just want to tell you how big of a fan I am of your work. Your performance in Cabaret was incredible and I especially loved your rendition of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. I have to know do you ever get tired of doing ten performances a week? It is stars like you who keep me coming back to Broadway. Thank you so much!
Hey Kyle! So glad you liked Cabaret and B&B. I definitely would get totally exhausted if I had to do 10 shows a week – so thank goodness we only ever do 8! =) Even with 8 I have to pace myself. But I’m one of those performers that loves repetition. I enjoy the fine tuning of a character and the slight differences from audience to audience. I’ve been lucky to get to really explore that in some long runs of shows. Hope there are more in the future!! And that I get to keep coming back to Broadway!!! Thanks, Kyle!
Hello Susan! Though I am 17 and money impaired, and thus have never had the pleasure of seeing you in person (I can rarely get to New York, though I did get to see Wicked as a birthday present this year), I have been a huge fan of yours for quite a while. I am an actress/singer/attempted dancer myself, and, being 17, I am now looking into colleges. At the moment my favorite prospect is Ithaca’s musical theatre BFA program (my visit there went well, they all seem suitably odd… I find normalcy to be highly overrated). I was wondering if you had any advice on auditioning for college (besides bribing the dean of admissions, of course :P… as it is, I’m quite likely endear myself to them by tripping up the stairs on the way to read my monologues). thkjfodhfdh,sdi (aplogies for the gibberish, my cat just decided to jump on top of the keyboard. I think that was his way of saying hello!)
Well, hello to you and your cat. =) Advice for college auditioning – I think what they are looking for the most is whether your own personality shines through in your performance. They are not looking for perfection – afterall why seek and education if you don’t need one – what they want is someone with skills that can be built upon and an openness in that student to show a willingness to change, learn and grow. I respond to someone who is enthusiastic and serious about their studies. And someone who will be a joy to have in the classroom. Nothing satisfies me more than a student who is dedicated and ENJOYS the learning process!! Keep me posted and good luck!!
Hi Susan! I’m a big fan! I have two questions. 1. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? 2. What are the best and worst parts of being famous? Thanks!
1. Ben and Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Just writing it makes me want some and it’s only 9:45am!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!
2. I‘m laughing because I am nowhere near famous!! I may be recognized every once in a while, but for the most part I’m still trying to explain who I am to most folks in the industry!! So I guess the best part is that you occasionally get to meet someone who shares the same love of theatre – who has been in the same room (theatre) as you during a performance – so you have a shared experience. And the worst is that even after accomplishing a certain level of success, the struggle continues. =)
Great questions, Katie!!
Hi Susan! We met a long time ago when you were playing Belle in LA. I was so nervous it took quite a bit not to pass out! Now I am glad to say I am seasoned stage door hopper. I have a question regarding your new cd. How did you decide what songs you were going sing? I am dying to hear you sing Taylor. The cd is definetly on my birthday list!!! Thank You
Well, Jenny, I hope you like it when you hear it!! How did I choose material? In kind of a haphazard way at first. I’ve been wanting to do a CD from day one that encompassed the kind of music I grew up hearing. Classic rock from the 60’s and 70’s as show to me by my parents and older sibs. “Oh Very Young” is my favorite song of all time, so that was a definite. Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” seemed a natural opening track, and I just love her! Then I started looking at songs I’ve been doing in my cabaret act – tunes by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich – I recorded two: “Taylor the Latte Biy” and “Oh, How I Loved You.” That last one has the most incredible lyric!!!!! I also recently met Georgia Stitt (who married jaqson Robert Brown last year!) – and she is a fantastic composer! I now close my act with her song: “Sing Me A Happy Song” so that seemed a natural final track. I’ve been touring with Jerry Herman in the last few years and have performed “Where in the World is My Prince” live – I think the tune is hysterical, so we put that on the list. And I’ve been wanting to record “I Can’t Believe My Heart” – a song replaced in HERCULES with “I Won’t Say” – since 1996!! So here it is – being a pop song, it fit right in! “Roses,” “French Waltz,” “Someone to Lay Down Beside Me,” and “Wuthering heights” were all suggestions from my producer and friend, Christopher McGovern and I loved them all immediately. I remember “Wuthering Heights” from my early teen years and adore Kate Bush. That was a risky track to do – we felt we’d either be celebrated or slaughtered for doing it! =) Let’s see… “9th Avenue” was written by Chris and I love the sweetness of it. “There Are No Words” was submitted to me when I was looking for concert material a few years ago by lyricist Faye Greenberg and I immediately loved it, but saved it for my next recording – this one! And there you go!!!! Enjoy, Jenny!
Name: Lauren Zakich
Hey, Susan! It’s Lauren Zakich again (second time). Sadly, I did not get into OCHSA. =( But I’m going to try again next year . And I just wanted to tell you that I got your newest CD (Coffee House) and I love it! Your so cool and still my idol! (Lol)
That is the best attitude, Lauren – good for you!! If it makes you feel any better I didn’t get into the show choir (equivalent of OCHSA my freshman year) my first time out, either!! Just keep working and keep the positive outlook! And in the mean time, do plays and take classes at the school you are attending – or in some after school programs!! And keep me posted!!!
Name: Roxanne tiffany benninger
did you love dancing in the movie Gotta kick it up. can you say it for me for Tim please?
I LOVED the dancing in “Gotta Kick It Up!” Our choreographer, Liz Imperio, is the woman who does oa lot of J Lo’s routines and I LOVE her. We really had a blast!
Name: Holly Marie Dunn
Hi Susan! My name is Holly. I’ve written to you before; I’m the one who just started AMDA in NY, which I’m loving!! I just had a few questions that I was wondering if you could answer for me or help me with. I’m working on some songs from Beauty and the Beast for musical theater class, and I’ve had the recording for quite a few years now and loved it. I just bought the sheet music and I noticed ‘A Change in Me’ is in there but not on the cast recording. Why is that? It’s a great song. I heard part of it on your website and it’s beautiful.
Also, I wondered if you could provide me some insight on something else. I read that you started voice lessons at 15, and I just started at almost 19 with AMDA. I’ve basically been singing without them since I was three and have a natural belter voice that’s been carrying me through with lead parts so far and I’m pretty sure it’s what got me into AMDA. I know that I definitely need to refine it if I hope to last eight shows a week in the was wondering what your approach is, if you don’t mind sharing, to singing. When I belt I
don’t ever feel like I’m straining or hurting myself and I never really lose my voice unless I’m sick. My teacher is working on singing from your speaking voice and using the right muscles and all of the usual stuff, however I feel that my belt sounds better, and feels better and easier, when I go back to singing how I always have. I definitely believe that being trained is important though so I have a career sustaining voice. I’d like to hear your opinion on all this because your voice always sounds wonderful and beautiful and healthy to me. Thanks Susan 😉 and congratulations on the new cd! I can’t wait to get it!
Hi Holly – Congrats on AMDA and I’m so glad you are enjoying it!!
First off – “A Change in Me” isn’t on the original cast album of BATB because it wasn’t yet written. =) The song was written a few years after I left the show for Toni Braxton, when she played Belle. It’s a great tune though!! And I did get to be the first to record it on my last CD, SO FAR. I’m glad they have put it into the sheet music!! Thank goodness for Toni Braxton or none of us would have it! =)
Okay, your voice. This is very touchy as I haven’t heard you sing. BUT my gut is telling me you need to listen to your teacher. I have worked with SO MANY folks who sang as children without training and though it may “feel better” and “sound better” to you – I think it may be that you are manipulating your chords to achieve that sound and that is not good for the long run. Because you are used to that feeling and because that has served you well in the past – makes it that much more difficult to give it up, I know. But do it. If you are not connecting with this particular voice teacher go to someone else and get a second opinion. David Hickox in NYC is a good choice. Or Joan Lader – if you can get in – you may want to start with one of her associates. They may be able to say whether your current teacher is right or not, but from what you wrote it sounds to me like they are saying the exactly right thing. BUT someone else may be able to show you the right way a little differently and that may be better. DO NOT gage whether you sing correctly by how long or how tired you get. That is not a good gage at this age. You will be able to survive faulty technique until your mid-20s. Trust the coach. Or find another two to see what they say – then trust your coach. =) I know it is Soooooooo Hard to drop something that works for you, but your instinct to find a way that will give you longevity is the right one. Lose this battle, but win the war!!!!! I wish you endless success, Holly!!
Susan, I saw Cabaret soon after your first run, and since then loved to check back and compare/contrast different Sallys and emcees. I think they are some of the few musical roles that really allow for multiple, complex interpretations, so it never became boring to watch. Since I missed you the first time I was so excited to hear you were coming back and when I saw you, I thought your performance was just stunning. It really forced me to seriously re-examine the show in an entirely new way.
I have a question that might be silly, but here it goes anyway. Most Sallys I’ve seen don’t come out and stretch with the chorus in the beginning (I think I’ve only seen two others that do), and I think it makes a significant difference in how we think about the character. My question: what went into your decisions about both coming out for the “pre-show” and the way you chose to interact during that part? You can also tell me if I’m just insane and over-analyzing :-).
You are not insane. This is a great and detailed question!!
I came out for a few reasons. 1. To actually warm up. 2. To interact with the audience a small amount (I did it less than the other actresses, because Sally doesn’t speak German, make sense? She wouldn’t necessarily be able to talk with the crowd. 3. I could wind down from my day and warm into character in a very real way and bond with the cast. 4. I would smoke a cigarette so that when I did in the play I wouldn’t get dizzy – I’d already had my first of the day! 5. Sam was setting the mood with the idea of the pre show and I loked being a part of that mood. 6. If I were a very famous actress, I might not have participated because then it would become about star-gazing for the audience, not building the atmosphere of the Kit Kat Klub – but I’m not, so I did. =) Hope that helps!
Name: Victoria Venezia
Hi Susan! How are you? You have been an incredible source of hope and inspiration for me. I was just wondering who are your sources of inspiration.
Hi Victoria! Carol Burnett, Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn – these are folks who did not stop once they became famous – they applied/apply what power they had for social causes. Meryl Streep does this too. They are down-to-earth people who never became ego-based. I love Oprah. I love anyone who uses what power they have (as an actor, teacher, banker, doctor, janitor, whatever) for bettering their world. =) We ALL, no matter what we do for a living, have the power to do that!
I just finished watching “Gotta Kick it up!” I thought I’d just take a peep to see you and I ended up watching the whole thing… As I watched, I was actually icing the upper inside of my right thigh: I pulled something during ballet this morning (doing that while I watch all this competitive dancing on the T.V.!! Ironic.. huh?). I should have stretched more before starting. Oh well. It really isn’t that bad.
What was it like to be on a film set with sooo many kids? How lucky those girls were to work with you! Maybe someday I’ll have the honor! I feel kind of silly when I tell people that I am interested in being on stage/on screen because I know how many girls about my age are thinking to themselves: I’m gunna be famous! I’m gunna be a star!! haha. But I really am serious about a career. And the thing is I so want to start now! It’s killing me to watch others knowing I could do that too.. or better! My goodness.. I don’t mean to go rambling off on you. I’m sorry. I just think you could relate. But as long as I have the passion that I do.. I plan to continue on my journey…! 🙂
How are you? And Willa? I hope all is well! How does it feel to have wrapped up “Millie”? Any future broadway plans? My mom and I are already thinking of another trip…!
Hey Briana! I have no doubts that you will have the career you want. And if it helps at all – I was SOOO impatient when I was your age, too. I wanted to be working as a kid, but now I’m grateful to my parents for drawing the line. Once I was 16 I could start community theatre and once I hit college I could get an agent. I’m SO glad, First off, I had SO much fun in high school – doing high school things! You never get that time back, and I am so grateful to have it. Now that I’ve been working for 15 years – what do I need with having worked four more as a kid! I’d rather have the memories of having gone to school dances. Those are more special than working once you reach my age. So keep training, yes, do plays in school, yes, but take full advantage of NOT working right now. Make that your goal. You WILL work in the future, that is certain, now make it your job for the time being to simply be your age and fill it with everything you can!!
I enjoyed the kids on the set of “Gotta Kich It Up,” but two missed their own high school graduations to film it. I don’t see any point in that. =)
Hi Susan, You said you ice skated for a while. Who is your favorite skater? Mine is Angela Nikodinov. Do you follow the sport anymore? If you were a man for one day, what musical theater role would you play?
What fun questions! I did ice skate and grew up loving Robin Cousins – do you know him? I loved him because his skating was as much art as sport. I don’t follow it as much as I should now. But the skaters I respond to are the ones who get inside the music, have BALLET TRAINING – I hate bad arms!!! The ones who are connected to what they are doing with their heart. Its hard to explain, but it makes such a difference as an audience member – there is that X-factor that makes someone’s performance just fly when their heart and soul are attached to it!
And if I were a man – I’d love to play Che in Evita. Tevye in Fiddler. ValJean in Les Miz. DonQuiote in Man of La Mancha. There are some great guy roles!!!
Susan, one thing I wondered about was why your hair was dyed so dark for Sally Bowles in “Cabaret”. I noticed that other Sallys (like Natasha Richardson) had lighter hair color. Also, why did you decide to keep it dark when you weren’t doing the show?
PS) I am looking forward to your new CD!
I’m laughing. My hair was so dark because I can’t say no to Sam Mendes. He wanted Sally to have black hair – Jennifer Jason Leigh did it too. I don’t think Natasha was willing to dye hers – don’t blame her she’s a gorgeous blond! Some of the other famous Sally’s have looks that audience know them for. Molly Ringwald was a red-head. Basically if the actresses made a stink or made a deal in their contract they could negotiate hair color. I don’t really care what color my hair is and I LOVED getting inky black so that I could dive into the character.
THEN I got stuck with it, because when I started the TV series NIKKI, I couldn’t go back to being a red-head, because Nikki Cox is a red-head. =) The character I was cast as, Mary Campbell, is a bad girl and I got the role while doing Sally Bowles, so they hired me as a black-haired gal. They wouldn’t let me change it, but I did negotiate for them to let me grow it out! So it got to be shoulder length, then two years later the show was cancelled and I colored it back to a softer brunette, then I do Sally again and CHOP the cycle starts again. At least with MILLIE they lightened it a lot. Now I am on my own again and it’s already getting longer. =)
Basically I have no control over my hair when I’m working, but I like the changes. I LOVE disappearing into a character, fooling people with my changing looks. And at least now I have three sets of headshots – one for each look!!
Name: Chris Crinieri
Hi Susan, i am a big fan and have seen 3 broadway shows you have been in. I saw “Millie” on a Saturday mattinee on 6/5/04. I cant beleive i finally got to meet you! I told you ive seen all of you’re show you been in, and you said i couldnt be older enough yet. Well i guess i ment, all of your broadway shows. Thank you for signing my Millie programe, and haveing a picture with me. I am 17 and loves perfoming in and seeing shows. One day i would like to play “Gaston” in BatB. My question is, how did you know you wanted to be an actress, or perform in a show? Also, i have my fist programe from BatB, is there a way i can have it signed by you?
Hi Chris! First off, you can send your B&B program to my business address:
C/o ML Management
125 West 55th Street – 8th floor
NYC, NY 10019
I’ll send it back signed! =)
Second, I guess I always loved musical theatre, but it wasn’t until I hit high school that I started really training and auditioning for school plays. So keep working, Chris! Gaston is waiting for you!
Name: Roxanne tiffany benninger
did you dance from your heart.
ALWAYS! There is no other way! I LOVE it!
how long have you had your bob haircuts for has i rally like it
Thanks! It seems I’ve had a bobbed haircut ever since I started doing shows that are set in the 1920’s! But it’s a haircut that my hair seems to like, so it’s fine with me. Right now, I’m working on getting back to a ponytail length! Enough with the bob!
Hi Susan, with Sutton making a name for herself and creating the role of Millie, was it hard to take over the role? what did you do to prepare? also, what was it like to work with Christian Borle? you both are very talented, and i would love to see you two together in something again
Hi Amy! Sutton was fantastic, absolutely, but it never really crossed my mind to be nervous or anything in taking over the role. Millie is so similar to so many other roles I’ve done – it seemed pretty natural to do it. I was even offered Millie way back in 1996! So I approached it like all the other character’s I’ve done. Looking at her background, her desires, her strengths and weaknesses and finding qualities inside me that make Millie’s moments natural to me. I saw Sutton do the show once and remember loving her, but I don’t recall specific things she did. What made her show memorable was her honesty, so it’s important for my choices (even if they’re different) to be honest as well. That’s the essence that makes a performance fun to watch. It’s the only way I know how to do this. =) And I loved it.
Christian is a swell guy and so very talented! We’ll all see huge things from him on Broadway – count on it!
How was it to close Millie?
All closings are bittersweet. I am so glad to have had the chance to do the role at all, so I felt lucky. I’m also one who LOVES to move onto new adventures, so I was excited to close one chapter so I can turn the page. But it’s always sad to leave a group of people you love and to say goodbye to something that was wonderful. That’s’ the circle of theatre, though. And I look forward to working with as many of those folks again as possible and what makes it fun is that then you will have had a shared memory with them!!
So, Millie is now over. I hope you had a wonderful time playing her – I had a wonderful time watching you play her. You’ve got a couple of movies coming out soon along with a brand new CD, as well as a solo concert coming up – what do you think will be next for you on Broadway? Are you talking to directors and/or looking for scripts, or are you taking a break from Broadway for a while? (I would love to see Brigdoon revived, and I think you’d be a wonderful Meg Brockie! It’s such a wondeful role!) You do deserve a nice break, you’ve been working so hard at the Broadway aspect of your career. Just don’t take too long of a break…we’d love to see you back on the Great White Way! Cheers.
Thanks Mark!! And Brigadoon is a great idea – I’m surprised it hasn’t been revived!! And I do love Meg. =)
I am taking a bit of a break right now. This year on Broadway was very unexpected. I basically planned to fill in at CABARET for 6 weeks. 6 weeks. Then I came home TEN MONTHS later. =) So I’m enjoying being home. I am doing lots of concerts, so that will keep me a little busy, and promotion for the CD, too. But today I actually got to play tennis!!! I love that! If the perfect thing came along in NY, I’d probably do it. But I’d like to do a little TV or Film this fall, do my concerts, and have a little bit of a social life. =) You can’t do any of those things while doing the 8 shows a week. In 2005-2006 I’ll have a big concert tour, then who knows! Maybe 2006 back on Broadway. =) So call the producers, Mark, and tell them about Brigadooon!!! Cheer to you!
Hi! I’m the same Ashley who wrote last month asking how tall you are… just wanted to let you know I won the bet! (I’m 5’3 1/2″ myself, and I swore you were the same height as me.) At any rate… I have yet another question for ya. Your voice always sounds so on point and so lovely… do you know of any “tricks of the trade” to keeping your voice in shape other than warming up? I have this problem, where I often find that after singing or even speaking for extended periods of time that my voice will become really scratchy and just sound plain gross. Do you recommend anything besides the usual hot tea with honey and lemon that everyone keeps telling me is so great for me?
Hi Ashley – Yea for 5’3 1/2” We rock!!
As for the scratchy voice after singing and speaking. I’m afraid it’s a sign that you are not singing/speaking correctly. I know that sounds crazy, I mean we all know how to talk, right? Wrong. I know from experience. Strangely, I can sing for quite a while, probably because I’m concentrating on technique when I sing, and I don’t get hoarse, BUT my speaking voice is terrible!! My voice teacher spends more time with me on speaking than singing!! Perhaps you are doing what I do … I don’t sit or stand straight, so my breathing is horrible when I speak. My head juts out, so my voice isn’t attached to air, then I just press chords together to talk. After time, this is VERY straining!! It’s SOOOOOO important to speak from breath, not chords. Hard to explain. If you can talk and talk without taking in more air, it’s a sign you’re speaking incorrectly. I do it all the time, because I’m plain lazy!! It may just be your habit. It sounds as if your singing voice is a little manipulated, too. Keep your neck long, body straight and air moving!! Try that. Air should be moving before any sound happens. If you make a sound while your air is trapped in your lungs – not coming out – you need to change your method. Bummer, huh? I hate it!!! I have to work on how I talk every day!! I hate it! =)
Just to start, I think that you are a fantastic actress. Unlike many of these people, I have never seen you perform in a musical… and that makes me very sad : ( But, I loved you as Meg in Hercules. Since the first time I saw it, Meg’s song was always my favorite Disney song. And I saw you in Gotta Kick It Up! in which you were great (I loved the coreography!)
Okay. I have been acting since I was about 8 or 9, and I am 16 now… but I have a weakness. Auditioning. What would you recommend for audition-illiterate high school students like myself? I would greatly appreciate your advice, especially since it is coming from a professional and a fabulous actress. Thanks a bunch!
PS- I read your comment about being 5’3 1/2″ tall. I cheered becuase it shows that short people can be great actresses, seeing as I am only 5’2″. : )
Hi Kayte! Yes, short people can still be successful!! So go!
Auditioning. I talked a bit about this above with regard to university auditions, but it holds true for all auditions – that the most successful audition is when you can impart your own self into the reading or song. Connect to it. That is the key for all acting. Add the third dimension of yourself into the role. Yes, master the material, yes, do your character homework, yes, understand the story and where this scene falls in it, BUT then add the other half – your self. Get inside the material. Put your won instincts, desires, into the scene/song. Does this make any sense?
Susan- You mentioned a passion for writing, and that you may persue a writing career down the road. What kind of themes and ideas have you pondered writing about? Do you write often?
I don’t write religiously, which I should! But I do know to write about what you know. I’d love to set a novel in the Broadway world – no one has yet! Maybe set one in Southern California. Write about teaching, touring, performing. I also ADORE other-worldliness. I have a series of stories that would be fantastical but set on a Hollywood back lot – so a little imagination connected to something familiar. One of these days I’ll be ready to actually do it!
Do you write, Julia?
Hey Susan! I just wanted to say that you are truly an amazing talented person. I have seen two of the broadway shows that you have performed in. Cabaret and Millie. I did actually meet you after Cabaret at the stage doors but when I waited for you in Millie you didn’t come out. Anyways you were awesome of course! I hope you have a great summer full of fun! Are you going to be doing anymore broadway musicals in the future? Or are you going to be staying in Cali? And also that movie Meet Market you were in…is that coming out on video or was that just in a film festival? Well anyways I wish you luck in everything that you do! -Meg-
Hey Meg – I’m so sorry I missed you at the Millie door. I did always exit that way, but sometimes faster than some folks could make it out of the theatre. So weird that theatre – being on the 2nd floor of the hotel!! So sorry.
Meet Market. I actually don’t know if they ever found distribution or not. I do know that it is still in the festival circuit. Independent films are their own breed. And some take quote a long time to get into movie houses. But I’ll look into it and post updates as I get them!! Thanks for asking!!
And as for what’s next – it’s a mystery! =) Lots of concerts, the CD release, and who knows!! One thing about this business is that it is constantly changing!! Seems like every time I book a vacation I land a job that conflicts! =) No complaints – it keeps life very interesting! =) Thanks, Meg!
I was so excited to hear the song “Both Sides Now” is on your new CD. I love Joni, and it is the lovliest song I have ever heard. Which artists and which genres of music do you like to listen to in your free time?
I love folk rock, classic rock – love Joni, love Norah Jones, Sarah McLauchlan – those types. Love ‘em. =)
I’ll also listen in a meditative state to freaky other-world-sounds. A little new-age perhaps in genre, but great for escaping – especially if you’re getting a massage!! I highly recommend that combo – music/massage!
Crazy me- I love John Denver – his voice was so pure. Love Paul Simon, James Taylor. Great guitarists!
What do you like?
Hi Susan! I am soo sad that Millie closed, it was one of my all time favorite shows, saw it a total of 10 times, kind of sad, at the end Ray the Stage Door “gate keeper” even remembered me. I was wondering, since you said you were short and well Sutton is NOT short lol, they obviously had to make you different costumes. my question is what happens to the costumes now that the show closed? thank you for reading and (hopefully)answering the question.
Good question! I know from the Broadway production they now have three sets of Millie costumes, tall (Sutton), short (me), and medium (varoius, marvelous covers). They were packed up and sent to the tour to be used for new covers. Then ultimately they will be stored with all other MILLIE costumes and rented out as a package for productions in the future. So maybe you’ll wear them soon!
I remember when I was in college I did a production of “My One and Only” at a theatre in LA. We got the Broadway costumes, and I decided to wear one piece from each actress who had played Edythe before: One Sandy Duncan (the tux), one Twiggy (the ball dress), one Stephanie Zimbalist (the starfish costume) and one Lucie Arnaz (the torn sweater). I loved it!!
I read in your answer to an earlier question that you would like to write one day. I’m a hopeful writer myself, but I have this terrible habit of letting all my story ideas evolve into musicals 🙂 Which I wouldn’t mind but I should really get good at crawling before I try to fly.
I was curious if you would ever consider applying some of your creativity to musicals. It struck me that very few women succeed in writing for them. Having worked on one of the notable exceptions (Millie), do you have any insights on this?
Great question. I actually worked on “Triumph of Love” which Susan Birkenhead wrote, and Linda Woolverton wrote “Beauty and the Beast” – so including Millie – three of the five Bway shows I’ve done had ladies on board!! That’s cool! Though they don’t get much press.
I love musicals but I never want to write one! Ha! I think when I move into writing it will be a bit more individual. Musicals are such a collaborative medium. I love it as an actress, but what I really want to write are novels. So I think it will just be me at the computer with a cup of tea.
BUT I encourage you to write musicals – we need more!!!!
Okay, I am a 16 year old trying to majorly make it into Musical Theatre. I wanna make it to broadway but I don’t know how to learn about auditions in my area or for kids my age in NY. I feel like I am really good and could really make something out of my talents, do you have any advice how? Thanks so much! You are my idol and I <3 your music so much! I love the recordings of you that I have from Cabaret. Fantastic. Thanks again!
Hi Kateleigh. For auditions in the NY area – even for kids – you should check out BackStage – a publication that gives all the audition details. It’s a great resource!
But I also encourage you to do every single play you can in your school and community – even children’s theatre. Getting that experience will put you heads and shoulders above other kids your age!!! Dance, singing, and/or acting lessons or workshops are also invaluable!!
Hi. I have enjoyed reading all the insane and not so insane stuff that people have asked you and the responses. This is one of the funniest and informative parts of the whole site. Now I read you need details to remember when you met someone so here they are. It was last Halloween at OCPAC. I was the crazy one who decided that I would drive by myself from Phoenix to see you! (Much to my mom’s dismay because my friends all ditched out at the last minute.) I was so impressed by the way you sang Maybe This Time. I always love hearing you sing it. It’s such an emotional song and you find a way to bring it across so beautifully. Okay now I’m gushing and I promised myself I wouldn’t. Anyway my question. The friend who “started performing late” and is now in Chicago, Would that be the equally wonderful Lisa Richard? If so tell her good luck and have fun from me. She was so wonderful and funny in that concert I love listening to both of you . I have driven family and friends absolutely nuts. Thank you for being the kind, talented , and just over all awesom person you are!
Hi ReBecca! I remember you – I was worried that you were going to drive back the same night, but I think I remember you saying you were staying in town another day. Did you ever hit Disneyland? Glad you got home safely!!!
The friend that went into Chicago is actually Belle Calloway. She started professional theatre after her daughter was an adult! And Belle is AWESOME!
Lisa Richard, who also started late as a professional actress – just last year after many, many years as a VP at Toshiba – she’s been doing “Mamma Mia” on the national tour and will go into the Las Vegas production for 6 months starting later this month!!
Both Lisa and Belle show that it’s never too late to pursue your dream!
Hi Susan!! I was reading an interview with you on this massive (holy bovine! I’m lost!) website, and you said you were in No, No, Nanette. I am doing that show right now in My hometown of Syracuse (as one of the tap-happy ensemble members(Roger)) and was wondering if you could tell me some of your fav. memories, which role you played, favorite number… etc. Thanx Much! Liam
Hi Liam — I played Nanette 3 times!! It was the start of my bobbed hair. I love the show because it’s so tongue-in-cheek – almost a parody of the old-fashioned musical. My favorite part was learning to walk on the big beach balls. I also loved that one night I called my “Tom” by his real name, “Nick.” That is the one and only time I have EVER done that – horrible!! It also kind of launched my career – that show – because a gentleman saw me do one production and recommended me to producer Paul Blake who was doing a summer production of NANETTE at the St. Louis MUNY – a HUGE 11,000 seat theatre. After auditioning for Paul I was then cast in his production, got my equity card, and did another show that summer for Paul – “Bye, Bye Birdie.” In BIRDIE I met Tommy Tune, who took me on a national tour and talked me into moving to NY – and that year I got ‘Beauty and the Beast.” So, see? Nanette started the “beach” ball rolling!! Have fun!
October 3, 2004 - Ask Susan Q&A
Which do you prefer, staqe, film or television?
Hey Curtis! Honestly, I enjoy all three and kind of feel I need to keep each foot (and an arm) in each genre, simply because it keeps me from feeling burnt out in either. I LOVE theatre, but 8 shows a week with no breaks is really tough. Working in film or TV offers me a chance to break the pattern and also utilize different skills – more naturalistic styles. I’d miss any of these if I ever cut them completely out!!
Hi Susan! It’s Jessica again, from Edmonton!!! I just wanted to say thank you for signing your picture for me so quickly!Also, where did you get that gorgey dress from for your So Far… liner? It’s so nice, and I want one like that (but in red) for my graduation. Thanks so much for everything, especially your letter! I love your handwriting!!!! What shows are you doing next (if any)? Reply soon!
Hi there, Jessica – so glad you got the picture. =) And HEY – I’m So glad you like the dress on SO FAR, too – no one has ever mentioned it and I LOVE that dress. =) Okay – here’s what I did. I had the corset of that dress made for me by a costume designer friend based on the corset I wore in TRIUMPH OF LOVE. Then she made me two shirts – the big tulle one in the photo a shorter knee-length one for a cocktail dress. Maybe that doesn’t help you a lot, BUT it shows that you can have things made and the price was not bad at all. AND I got to pick the fabric. =)
Umm Hey! I’ve never done anything like this before, so I don’t quite know what to say… but I’ll try! I’ve seen you perform twice already and I really love your work. Some day I hope to be in the theatre. Actually I want to be in the theatre so bad, that I don’t care what I do! I don’t care if I’m an actress or even a stage hand… though I really like to act… The first time I saw you was a few weeks ago at Buster’s Bar, I got your autograph, but I was too shy to come up and ask for it myself, so I got a friend to do it (I really need to get over that shyness thing, especially if I’m going to be in the theatre, but being on the stage is just different from doing stuff in real life…)Do you get what I mean? Well if you don’t I don’t blame you, I tend to talk (write) in circles and no one really pays much attention. Anyway, you are a great inspiration, and have a Marvelous voice! I wanted to tell you that but all I could say was “You did a great job by the way…” as you were walking out the door-(that shyness thing again) u probably don’t remember me. I then saw you at the Hollywood Bowl. Well, I’ve written some what of an essay, when all I wanted to say was that you are an inspiration, and (no joking) the best singer I’ve ever heard, (just writing this made me emotional!) well thanx for reading this, (I hope…)
Hi Fiona. =) First, I love, love your name – it’s one of my favorites!! Second, I’m so glad you enjoyed the little impromptu performance at BUSTERS – I love singing with that band. Please don’t be shy next time and come say hello. I am pretty grounded and love meeting folks. =) I also used to be PAINFULLY shy, so I’m pretty understanding with that, too. If you make it to any concerts coming up in this area, be sure to stop and say hi – and tell me you are the shy Fiona from the Q&A. =) AND as I share your love of theatre, I encourage you to keep pursuing it – we need more folks as passionate as you – on any side of the footlights you desire!
Hi Susan, I am a huge fan and have been for many years. I live in Southern California so I have had the opportunity to meet you a few times at some concerts you’ve done (expect to meet me again on Oct 9!). Anyway, time for my question: if you could have a totally different career, what would it be? PS–Coffeehouse is a fabulous CD! Good job!
What a fun question, Brianna – thanks!! I was just saying yesterday to a friend (who needed some organizational help) that I LOVE designing offices/organizing people’s lives. I’m SO obsessed when it comes to this, and I think I could have made a career of it. I’ve designed several spaces for folks – just did again yesterday – swept through people’s things and lives … SIMPLIFYING and organizing. I love to throw things away. Makes me feel free. =) Other than that I would have loved working in research in the area of Quantum Theory. I’m strange, yes?
Hi! We are holding auditions at my high school for Beauty and the Beast in about a month. Normally, I am pretty good at finding audition pieces, but with this one, I am just stumped…do you have any suggestions of songs in the same era, style, etc.?
Alan Menken – the composer of B&B – has written so much material! I suggest finding other songs by him (Pocohontas, Hunchback, Little Mermaid) perhaps. You can also look at Ahrens/Flaherty music – I’d suggest the song they wrote from ONCE ON THIS ISLAND – the “I want” song the leading girl sings – very Belle like in her desires. =) And same vocal range!! I also love LION TAMER a song by Stephen Schwartz from THE MAGIC SHOW
Hey Susan!!! I have two questions what’s your favorite food and whats your favorite color?
Right now … In-N-Out cheeseburgers. I find that chocolate milkshakes go well with them, by the way. And though traditionally I have loved purple and green (see SO FAR CD cover) I now love burgundy and honey-golds. But wait five minutes and I’ll say pizza and turquoise. =) I am forever looking for new things to try and love. =)
How do you get started in acting? Do u need to know the right people? Does it take talent?Or do u just have to live in a big city
Hi Asher! No, and some, and no. NOT BAD, right?! I simply believe you need the heart and the mind to work hard to improve whatever amount of talent you have. I also strongly believe that you can work on this ANYWHERE. Community theatres and local acting/singing classes are ideal!! Do as much as you can in the place you live now – take advantage of everything you can find!! MASTER it. Then if you want to take the next step you will probably have to locate yourself in a region that produces the kind of genre you like. But it’s not just NY and LA now-a-days. Film is shot all over the country and theatre is in every major city – and so is the ability to make a living doing it. =) Good luck!
You are such an inspiration to all of us! I cannot believe that you consistantly answer our silly questions, you are a truly kind person. I am 18 and studying art in school, and wanted to know, looking back on your life, what advise would you give yourself at my age, now knowing what you know about being young and persuing a career based on physical talents.
Hi Kanane – great question. I was just discussing insights with a friend yesterday. My biggest suggestion is to LISTEN TO YOUR HUNCHES. In every area YOU will know what needs to come next. We so often get caught up in other people’s opinions, but only you know the best path, and I mean not even consciously. =) Listen to your gut, instincts, higher voice – whatever you call it. I like to think it knows the divine path like the back of your hand. It will inform you about what opportunities to take, what training you should look into next what places and people to trust. Keep your conscious mind open – don’t JUDGE – and see if another voice starts talking a little louder. I know this isn’t what you expected. Perhaps you expected me to say – protect your body and talent – look for the longevity of staying healthy, I don’t know. But see what you EXPECTED you already knew inside yourself. =) You didn’t need me to say it – you already had that info. What I say is TRUST IT. Look inside for answers.
SUSAN! I saw you in Cabaret and you were absolutely phenomenal. How much work did you do with Rob Marshall, and what was he like? He has such a vision with his projects, and is truly one of a kind. I am working on his upcoming movie, which is such an honor. Did you consider working on Chicago? Many of the dancers in the cast had come from Broadway, and you would have been fabulous in the film. Will you tell me about working with Rob, and about his directing qualities, techniques and styles.
Congratulations on working on Rob’s next film!! He is the most wonderful down-to-earth gentleman. Clear, talented, nurturing, etc. I didn’t get the chance to work with Rob until about 6 months into my first run in CABARET – I worked primarily with Sam Mendes. Rob was in LA shooting ANNIE, but when he did come back to NY he was marvelous to work with – he even re-choreographed for me a bit. He is smart in taking advantage of the unique talents of his performers – tailoring his direction – which makes his work so authentic to an audience. Cast CHICAGO with anyone else and it would have been equally great and totally different. =) Nothing generic about Rob’s eye for detail. To answer your other questions – CHICAGO was a potential opportunity, but it shot in Canada and I was working on a TV show in LA during the shoot – so not possible. My loss! =) Have fun!!
Hi susan, Have you been reading scripts and going on auditions, now that you are back in LA? I love that you work on indies, they are really the most creative type of films in the industry now. ALSO, do writers/directors persue you for their films, or do you persue auditions on your own via your manager?
Hi Erika – Great question. =) It’s actually a little of all of this. I do read scripts that (if I like) I’ll then audition for. AND sometimes (for smaller indie-type work) I’ll simply get an offer. I’m also ensconced in concert work right now – which is so different from tv/film!! And with COFFEE HOUSE out, I’m doing quite a lot of press and promotion. Often it’s a matter of timing. What am I available to do/audition for/book. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, the scheduling and often it’s my calendar that is the deciding factor!!
Hi Susan! I saw you in TMM in June, and became an instant fan! My question is, what is the best vacation you have ever been on? Have you ever been to Ireland? If not, you should come, you’d be made very welcome! Thanks!
MJ!! So glad you enjoyed TMM. My favorite vacation, huh? Probably one I had as an 11 year old – when my family went rafting down the Colorado River for 8 days. The Grand Canyon high on either side – the beautiful landscape and stars at night, the roller coaster rapids!! I loved it. But I’ve also really enjoyed my journeys in Europe: Italy, Holland, Greece, France, England and YES IRELAND. I’m Irish after all!!!
hi susan! i am a big fan of yours and i think that you are very talented. ohhh and i also have a weird question for you…i am in a play at school and im supposed to kiss this guy. i am very nervous about it because i have never done that before! can you give me tips or something on how to do a good on stage job? sorry this is a weird question, but i am very nervous about having to do this and i thought you might know a little and know what to do! 🙂 thanks very much, your fan, maddie
The age old question, Maddie!! I think its easiest to start off giving the (lucky) guy a quick peck kiss. This will get that “first” kiss out of the way quickly. Then it’s just on to being your character – perhaps they are nervous too? Or perhaps they are feeling other things? Get into those emotions. And then I say – heck! Enjoy it!!! =) And laugh good-naturedly – it IS awkward – admit it, shrug it off, smile and jump in!
Name: David Boroff
Susan: It was so amazing to see you in Orange County. It was my first time ever in the OC, and you made it an amazing experience! I also will see you in Hartford and Manhattan over the next couple of months, and I am sooo looking forward to it!
I am sure you’ve been asked this before… but I was just wondering: what character would you most like to perform (that’s either currently on Broadway now or not) that you haven’t yet?
Thanks so much, David!! I hope you are enjoying the (very) different venues and material! =) How about that Lord of the Rings, huh? =)
I am sometimes asked this question of yours and the answer for me is that I love working on new pieces. So I suppose the role I long for the most has not yet been written!!! But I read a lot and am always looking for a character I think I could inhabit – and who knows, maybe I’ll think of it myself and then convince someone to write it!!
Hey Susan! Im only 13 but I think your awesome your like my idol 🙂 Im trying out for a performing arts high school In February and I never relized how hard it was going to be I have to take voice lessons twice a week and dance lessons twice a week and I also have to worry about my grades but this is something I want so im willing to do anything to get in :)Maybe someday i’ll be lucky enough to meet you…You rock!!!
Oh Sarah!! You’re at the most exciting part – discovery!! Enjoy it! The classes are a challenge but so rewarding, and do keep up with your academics – good actresses are smart actresses!!!! So much of what you learn in history, English, and even math (ability to analyze) will be SO necessary in your artistic work!! Have fun!!
Susan: Hello my dear! First of all, I want to let you know that although this is my first time bummin’ around your site, and although I haven’t ever seen you live (I’m actually a wee bit depressed about this because I just found out you were in Salt Lake City, my hometown, performing in ’02, and I didn’t know!! Make sure you come perform here again in the future), I have been a fan since HERCULES. Now, my question is, I’m sure, pretty different than the average bear. I know that you have/will be performing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of L.A., and considering that you come from a background that is thick in gay culture (I mean, C’MON!–Cabaret?!), I wanted to know what you think about the “new” hoopla regarding gay rights and marriage, the decision by the California Supreme Court to ban San Francisco’s marriage blitz in February earlier this month, and everything in that controversial, yet progressive (*wink*) category. Thanks for your time, beautiful!!
What a great question, Bobby! But first – I will be back in Salt Lake singing the LORD OF THE RINGS symphony!! Not your typical Broadway show tunes I should warn you, but I’m thrilled to sing with your symphony again and to gaze at the mountains!!
You are correct that I am surrounded with gay culture in theatre, so for me it doesn’t seem strange – just a part of my world. My friends are my friends and I’ve been around it all so long that I don’t think in terms of gay or straight. Honestly I don’t notice fat or thin, black or white or green either. I spend time with individuals. But I also know that my situation is very unique and that most folks live in a bit more secluded/consistant environments. I travel weekly on planes meeting new people. It’s not the norm. =)
But here’s what I think about it all. Government should not dictate morality. We should, each of us, do that in ourselves. I am neither Republican nor Democrat and am amazed by the seeming hypocrisy of both parties. Republicans want small government and power at state level but then they make sweeping political moves. Democrats want acceptance for all, but then strongly judge anyone who is conservative. =) Funny. I like them all, but have very specific feelings. I believe we should live our lives doing the least harm possible. How does a relationship between two men 1000 miles away from someone in the mid-West affect that Mid-Westerner’s marriage? If someone is so threatened with the idea of someone having a different kind of marriage (or whatever they want to call it) the problem is inside the person. Their idea of marriage should not be so easily threatened by another’s choices. It’s like does all ice cream have to be peppermint? I believe the word marriage (which I have used to describe pairings other then people) can mean anything. And that we each can decide what it means for US. =) We should concern ourselves with our own behavior, not the behavior of others. Obviously harmful deeds should be punished. I’m not an idealist. I just believe this whole ordeal about gay marriage is a ridiculous display of meddling. And that government should not dictate something which is a spiritual/religious ceremony. Let the religions do that. Let people love the way they are built to love and let them call it anything they want. Arguing semantics is a losing battle. No two marriages (between a man and woman) are the same. Some are so bad in fact that I sometimes wonder why gays want to call their union a marriage! But I do believe it is their right to “pursue happiness” as much as any other group and to call it what they want. It will not affect me as I someday (hopefully) make my own vows to a man. We cannot dictate by law sacredness. It is too personal. I have probably offended every group out there now. I just believe that love should not be our battleground – we have enough else on our plates in that arena. =) And I believe this ordeal is based in fear. And I don’t chose to engage in fear-based arguments. =) I bless everyone.
As someone who also grew up in Southern California but now lives in New York because of a job I couldn’t refuse, I get VERY frustrated and hurt by the elitist attitude some New Yorkers have toward Southern California. Our time on this earth is too precious to get caught up in such silly rivalries but it seems whenever I reveal where I’m from, the cynical remarks start flying my direction. There is so much wonderful theater in SoCal but it seems as if some people (not all of course!) from NY like to make themselves feel superior by dismissing our wonderful theater community. I will always be a SoCaler at heart but it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the NY scene either. I wish more people could appreciate what both coasts have to offer instead of making it a competition. Were your roots ever a problem for you? Do you ever find yourself biting your tongue too? ;-)Anyhoo I’d like to thank you for always remaining so proud of your Southern California theater background. We are equally proud of you. ;=)
Hi Katie. Being from Southern California has never been a problem for me. I’ve never encountered the attitudes you are describing. Though this may seem tough on you (I don’t mean it that way) I wonder if you might look at why you are engaging in these attitudes. Even by disagreeing with them, you are making them more real by throwing attention that direction. The moment you let go (of perhaps your resistance to others? Your own feeling about being from SoCal and how you <think> others will react to it) I would bet the problem disappears. What I feel about SoCal, the theatre here, and my love of living here cannot be at all affected by others opinions; my experiences her just ARE. Simple. I’ve never had to bit my tongue. I’ve never had to argue the worth of my home. =) I am proud. You can simply say to folks, “hmm, that’snot my experience.” You don’t have to defend anything. AND I bet one you let go of it being a problem, the problem will let go of you. =) And cheers to you, my fellow SoCal gal!
hey susan! ok just wondering…do you read your own reviews like from shows and your cds and stuff?
Sometimes. I shouldn’t, but I do. I’m just too darn curious!!! The good ones don’t affect me much, and the bad ones (that are fair) actually help me grow. The only ones that are tough are the bad ones with an agenda (ie: they have to disagree with the prior critic at the paper to establish their own voice, etc). I would like to be the person who TRULY cares nothing. But I’m not. =)
Dear Susan, Just discovered that Gary Beach and Roger bart are slated for the motion picture version of “The Producers” and I am so jazzed! I know the part of Ulla is cast, but if you were offered a part in this flick, would you do it?
Hi, my friend!! I can’t imagine what the part would be. =) I’m not right for any piece at all in that musical and so I’d question someone actually offering me a role. I’d think they were nuts and so I probably would avoid working with them. =) hee, hee. BUT since no one HAS offered me a role in the film, I imagine they are very SMART and thatteh film will be wonderful! I’m so glad Rog and Gary will be in it!
Hi Susan! You have been one of my favorite singers and actresses since I saw Hercules. I just saw 13 Going On 30 and it was so cute, you did very well in it. I loved Nikki when it was on too. I graduated from high school this year and sang “Home” for my Theater Arts II final project. It’s one of my favorite songs and I’d love to play Belle on Broadway or even just be involved in the show some way.
I have a couple of questions. My first one is what’s your favorite song from any show or movie you’ve been in, and my second is what do you recommend to prepare for auditions or get involved with community theater.
Thank you very much!
Hi there Carlee! Congratulations on your graduation!! And so pleased that you‘ve been enjoying my goofy stuff. =)
My favorite song: right now it’s OH, HOW I LOVED YOU by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich. The lyrics blow me away. (I just put it on my new CD, I love it so much!) And songs for auditions: I think everyone should find a range of material from different eras. Get a great Gershwin, Porter, or Berlin tune. One Rodgers and Hammerstein or Rodgers and Hart – or Lerner/Lowe. Something modern (in the last 15 years) and one pop tune. If you can get a ballad and up-temp in each!!! You’ll be prepared for everything!!!
It’s been two months since you up dated your questions.. whats taking soo long??
We corrected this and thanks so much for telling me. I had turned in answers literally a month before you emailed me and never checked to see if they got up there!!! So anyway. We put them up and then I’ve waited a bit of time for this batch. =) Keep us on it, Rachel, if you notice anything again!!! Thanks!
Name: Emily Anne
Hey Susuan! I’m a 16 year old actress from Long Island, only a train ride away from the wonderful theater district. In a previous Q&A, you mentioned the importance of “warming down”. I was wondering how that is done. Thanks!
Great question. It’s really the opposite of warming up – where you take your speaking voice into the woder range of your singing voice. Okay warming DOWN, you want to take that wide range (start at the top) and bring it back down into the register you speak in. Do scales coming down, then mid range exercises – sing VERY easily – no pushing. Think of it as a kind massage and reward for your chords. End with a bit of simple, limited range mid-range- speaking-voice range humming. Like soft velvet humming. A massage. =) Make sense?
Do you get compared to Jodi Benson alot?My family thought you were her.
I’m great friends with Jodi – but never been compared to her really. =) I love her and would consider any comparison a compliment!!
Hi! I’m soon to be 16 and just starting to be in theater myself altnough i’ve been dancing for about 13 years, and i was so shocked when i found out that you didn’t start singing until you were 15 either. You have no idea how much more confidence that gives me in knowing that it is possible to start out late and still be able to have an awesome career! :o)
Ok, i have 2 questions- First, what is your favorite food? Also, i know your friend terrence mann was in les mis as javert, and i was wondering if you’d ever been in les mis before, and if you had or hadn’t, who did/would you want to play if you had the opportunity(it’s my favorite musical).
Thank you so much, you seems like such a genuinely nice person and i wish you the best!
CINDY!! Definitely not too late to start. Have fun!!
I did a bit of favorite food in an answer above, so check that out. But as for Les Miz – I was supposed to do it in NY a few years back and scheduling just didn’t work. The role was Fantine and I would have loved doing it – sing a killer song, make the audience cry when you die, read a great book in my dressing room for 2 hours, come back and sing a killer song! What a great role!! =) And I love that show, too!
Hi (again) Susan! Sorry for asking yet another question, but the aspiring journalist in me felt compelled to do so! We have a lot of the same taste in reading (thanks for the Time Traveler’s Wife recommendation – I loved it!), and I was wondering if you ever considered writing too. Not that I want you to give up performing, but has writing ever interested you as something to do in the future? Thanks so much for your time!
YES!! I imagine I will definitely write in my future – I’d like to work on novels. =)
First of all just let me say that you are incredibly talented. I didn’t get a chance to see Thoroughly Modern Millie, but i catch Cabaret in December. You have such a strong voice. I have been riding around with your second CD, and was wondering, do you get to pick your own peices? If so you do a great job. Also do you have anything coming up on broadway in the near future? I have to make sure i get tickets!
Hey Jamie – so gla dyou like the CDs. Yes I do get to choose the material (with my producers) – which I love!! No plans for Broadway again this year. I’m concentrating on concerts for the next year (not accepting NY auditions right now)—I think I need to balance out the 8 shows a week I did this last year with some other kinds of performing! And I love to travel!!
Hey Susan! I saw you a few months ago in Cabaret, a few days before it closed. You were so great, I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited when I found out you were in it, I’ve been such a big fan of yours for years, and I never thought I’d actually get to see you perform live. I wanted so much to wait for you after the show, but I don’t live in NYC and I had a train to catch, so I had to rush right off. Well anyway, I guess I’m just wondering what it was like performing in that show, how it was different from the others you’ve been in? I’m a big fan of Adam’s too, may I ask what it was like working with him, and the other cast members? Well, there’s a lot more I want to say, but I guess that would be better to put in a letter/e-mail. So I’ll probably write you a little later on tonight – hope you don’t mind. 🙂
I never mind – thanks for writing, Elle. I’m glad you got to see CABARET – I just love Sam and Rob’s production so much – it was an honor to be in it. I actually talk a lot about it in previous Q&As – you may want to check that out. But as for Adam – what a joy! So grounded and talented. I was thrilled that he came in to close the show with me. I have been a fan of his since RENT and was so excited to work alongside him!! He is everything you could wish for – hard-working, talented, dedicated, great energy backstage, supportive, kind, and of course gorgeous inside and out. =) You have great taste to be a fan of his! And the entire cast was equally tremendous!
Susan, Hey, I just wanted to let you know that you are wonderful!!! You really do inspire people, and actors do generally be nice and charasmatic towards others, I myself, am going for my b.f.a degree at UMD in minnesota. You don’t by chance visit minnesota often, per say mall of america, do you? hmmm, one more thing, what are things that you look for in a guy? and what do you like most visually in a guy, I know it’s a silly question, but hey, curiousity gets the best of us.
I’m a little odd in that I don’t really have a physical type that I go for in men. =) I really respond to clarity in their eyes and actions and words. Humor. Lightness and ability to enjoy moments. Sincerity. A willingness to look at themselves and grow and the ability to give me space to do the same. =) To let me strive, and to sometimes make mistakes. I’m very forgiving and know that I need someone to be the same. I’m also pretty intense in my philosophy and actions and truthfully not many guys like that. =) So I guess I’ll have to be patient!
Well I have a suggestion. You read a lot, me too. I always check out your Sus suggests page to see what nifty new books you have read, sometimes I read them too. Since you like to read often you should consider reading something from Gregory MaGuire (if you haven’t already), his books are very interesting. He wrote Wicked (now on broadway, it was great) and a few others. He puts a great spin on fairy tales. I hope you consider and enjoy these books.
Thanks for the suggestion. I have read his books and LOVE them!!!!!!! Thanks, Jamie!
Hello Susan, you crazy crazy girl.
I recently had the extreme good fortune of ducking into a little theatre bookstore to find you were having a CD signing that afternoon. I, of course, came back armed with a Millie poster (courtesy of my man Rey at Millie who says you rock, btw) for you to sign. I give my hornswaggliest promise to purchase your CD as soon as I get me some bling. So you can count on one more sale.
I was listening to it in the bookstore and noticed you have a bunch of fun songs (including one of my personal favorites, Taylor the Latte Boy… should you ever go to 5 points in Birmingham, AL, there is a delectable Starbucks employee I like to call Ricky the Mocha Boy… totally worth the trip).
Annnnyway, my very longwinded question is how do you choose the songs for your CD and what one song would you never ever record even if a really hot dude promised to be your willing slave and bring you the chocolate donuts with sprinkles EVERY morning???
Excited to see your answer… Hornswaggly yours, Cristin
You put your questions so interestingly. I might be willing to sing anything at all for chocolate donuts brought to me by a handsome someone. BUT I think I could skip singing EYE OF THE TIGER (theme to Rocky II). How ‘bout you. And I slave over selections for concerts and CDs. I research for a LONG LONG time. I can only do songs that I really connect with and I also love new things. So I call on all my writer friends and bug them until they give up some tunes. =) I find it works!
Thanks for the questions folks!!
September 1, 2003 - Lisa Richard and Susan Egan
Lisa Richard and Susan Egan at Applejack’s Diner on 55th and Broadway
S: Lisa, thank you for joining me today.
L: Yeah, I found some time in my busy schedule to be here.
S: What did you order?
L; I am getting my favorite diner breakfast food, which is a fried egg sandwich with American cheese and bacon on a toasted hard roll.
S: Now when did you know to order the roll? ‘Cause I’ve never thought to order the roll.
L: It actually came from a man I knew in New Jersey, who introduced me to this at a diner. It’s our breakfast of choice every Sunday morning,: New Jersey Star Ledger – egg sandwiches – North Caldwell Diner – fun.
S: There you go.
S: And a side of fries.
L: And a side of fries, and a diet coke. He would always get his fries burned.
S: Ah. I knew a guy once, a New Yorker, many years ago – in fact in this very restaurant – I would eat here when we rehearsed for Bye, Bye Birdie, He introduced me to fries with gravy, which is a very New York thing.
L: I don’t know about fries with gravy. I know some people get fries with mayonnaise – not my thing.
S: No, no to that.
L: No to that
S: I think no to that.
L: But I never used to have fries with ketchup, and now I want ketchup all the time.
S: I love ketchup.
L: There you go.
L: What did you order?
S: Um, well, I ordered some pancakes with some eggs, and an orange juice, which I’m drinking now, which I shouldn’t be drinking.
L: It means we need comfort food.
S: Yeah, I never order pancakes.
L: Well you need the fuel today.
[Susan opens back in CABARET tonight. She’s not sure pancakes will help. She just likes them.]
S: Um, so you’re taking a couple of days off?
[Lisa is currently on the Broadway National Tour of MAMMA MIA – covering the three lead roles!! She has performed them BEAUTIFULLY, this reporter might add. She did, in fact, add.]
L: Took a couple of days off to come visit my best friend, Susie, who is premiering in her grand re-opening of CABARET, which I will be there for.
S: Yeaaaaaa. But YOU’RE doing [she sings] MAMMA MIA.
L: Yeeesssss, I flew in from Chicago. This is my first personal day ever as an Equity person.
[Actor’s Equity is the union for stage actors. Under a production contract, you are allowed a certain number of personal days off from the show.]
S: I’m so honored you spent that on me. Thanks.
L: Isn’t that cool? I didn’t know how to do it either. I had to go in and, uh, I was like, so how do I ask for time off? And they looked at me like I was a big fat idiot.
[This reporter would like to acknowledge, that while Lisa can sometimes be an idiot, it is always intentional and played for laughs, and she is not in any way fat.]
L: So they gave me the form – here’s the form. And I had to have a reason.
S: So what was your reason?
L: To go see my friend’s big opening!
S: Get out! They bought that? I tried to get a personal day from BYE, BYE BIRDIE to see Paul Simon is his Central Park concert and they said no.
L: Well, it was close, but it’s because I never ask, though. I don’t miss shows.
S: See – you gotta lie about the reason. You really do.
L: I think they think I am lying – that I’m coming for an audition.
S: They’re assuming you did, because everyone does lie. So you have to lie, so they take you seriously. Let’s come up with a really good lie for next time.
L: I’m having lipo.
S: Ah, that’s not a one day thing, lipo.
S: Several weeks.
L: There was woman who worked for me at Toshiba, who lied to me and told me she needed to be out for “female problems.” And I found out later she was getting lipo and she was afraid to tell me, and it was all ego because we’d been talking about lipo for years.
S: What are you talking about? Lipo is a female problem. That’s totally legitimate! Just because you thought it had to do with ovaries and such –
L: No, she lied .. she lied. And so when I called to check on her, her husband was like, “she’s fine – wha—“ like he couldn’t believe she had lied to me. And then when she was back in the office, I’d flip up her skirt so her pressure garments would show, and I’d be like – how’s your ovaries?
S: I can’t believe you’re not sued for that kind of behavior.
L: She lied. I mean she could have told me.
S: Okay, so lipo is not the excuse you would use.
L: Right. One day excuses are hard.
S: I mean a pipe could burst in your house, but I guess you couldn’t say that two weeks ahead of time.
L: (laughing) Uh, yeah, [as if in the Stage Manager’s office] a pipe will burst in my house on Monday, September 1st.
S: Because I’m Joan of Arcadia and little voices are telling me “you have to be home on September 1st.”
L: Joan of Arcadia.
S: I wish I had come up with the idea of Joan of Arc – adia.
S: What’s your favorite thing about Mamma Mia.
L: Favorite thing is at the very end of the show when we’re doing the “Dancing Queen” reprise and the audience goes koo-koo.
S: Are you just so excited to get to wear jumpsuits? Like when jumpsuits were originally “in” did you like them?
L: Noooo! I never thought I had like a jumpsuit body. But the good thing about these jumpsuits is they’re so strong., because lets face it, they are made for women …
S: They’re like a support garment!! You could probably do the show having had a lipo, because the jumpsuits are supportive enough.
L: That’s exactly what it is, because they’re used to making them for women in their forties and fifties, you know? So they want to hold it all in, baby. And so for me, I have like a waist and my legs look about nine feet long.
S: You have such long legs.
L: It’s cool to see the audience out there waving their arms and doing all the dancing in the aisles. Old people and kids dancing in the aisles makes me tear up – an 80 year old guy going like “Dancing Queen …” – it’s the best!
S: Now you do some charity work for Mamma Mia, don’t you?
L: I’m very proud of my charity work. We have established a sub group in Mamma Mia called the Mamma Mia Black Woman’s Caucus, of which I’m the vice president.
S: So you’re the Caucasian part of “caucus” in that group?
L: Yeah. So in Chicago there’s this wonderful organization called Rainbow House that helps get women out of abusive domestic situations, and we’re doing a benefit for the Shiners Hospital September 8th.
S: What are you gonna sing?
L: I’m gonna do “Love Me With a Feeling” – kind of neat – it was my audition song actually.
S: Oh get out!
L: Yeah, and it’s got all this irreverent Sophie Tucker kind of humor, and I’ve got three of the chorus boys to be my boys.
S: What’d you have to do to get them? What’d you have to give them?
L: Nothing, I just went in and I said, “I need three boys.”
S: You have power.
L: And then another one of them was mad that I didn’t pick him. But you have to have three – that’s the magic number. Should be fun. AND we’re doing it with the Lion King people. It was great to see them come in and learn our “Dancing Queen” choreography – these awesome black people showing us just how white our choreography is. (she laughs).
S: Sometimes it takes black people to show us how truly square we are. I like that.
L: Okay now, come on I want some Susan questions.
S: Okay … then for a moment … pretend I’m not Susan.
S: Okay … what do you think of Susan?
L: (laughs) Could that be more general?
S: Are you avoiding answering the question, Lisa?
[more Lisa laughter]
S: You know I don’t think Susan would be very happy to know how long it’s taking you to answer this question.
L: I’m trying to decide whether to give a real or a fake answer.
S: Does it need to be fake for you to answer in front of this interviewer? Okay, fine … what’s it like to work with Susan?
L: The good thing about Susan … is …
S: I don’t like where this is going. I know what happens after this – the flip side.
L: Well, first she’s really mean. I mean, you want the opportunity to work with her, but you have to pretend you don’t know how mean she is, which I’m really good at, because I’m a good actress, so she has no idea –
S: She may have some idea now.
L: – just how miserable I am to get up and get on a stage with her. But the audience loves it – it’s good publicity for me, so you know, I bite my tongue and I go through it. But I hope someday someone has the guts to tell her she needs to shape up her act.
S: All right.
L: I mean it is a lot of work.
L: She’s the worst.
S: Uh huh.
L: She’s nice to old people and puppies and that’s really important.
S: Okay, now I’m back to being Susan. So Lisa, I heard you said some things about me, I really … I really … I’m sorry I’m such a pain in the butt.
L: For what? I don’t know what you mean. What did you hear?
S: Oh, never mind.
L: Honey, I love you, I would never say a bad word against you to anybody. And believe me, if I had a problem with you I’d come right to you with it. So you have nothing to worry about.
S: That’s what I really love about our friendship.
L: Me too!
Susan and Lisa finish breakfast then go and shop for what kind of cigarettes “Sally Bowles” will smoke in that evening’s show. Lite Capris. What great friends.
November 9, 2001 - TV Guide Online Chat
TV Guide Online: Tonight we are chatting with Nikki star Susan Egan. Thanks for coming tonight Susan!
Egan: Hi everybody.
Question: How did you get the part on Nikki?
Egan: I was doing a Broadway show called Cabaret. They were looking for actor dancers for this new sitcom to play Vegas showgirls, which made me laugh, cause I’m 5’3” and I could never be a showgirl. But it’s television.
Question: A few years ago it seems that you made an intentional choice to try to break your “ingenue” image. The led to roles as the bad girl in Cabaret and Nikki. Do you have any specific goals for what type of roles you would like to play next?
Egan: Very perceptive. Yes I wanted to break that Disney image, not that I couldn’t play those roles. Of course, now I’m cast as a bad girl and I’d like to break that image. I did a TV movie over the Summer where I was a wholesome blonde girl. That’s called Gotta Kick It Up and it will be on the Disney Channel this February.
Question: How was it working with Drew Carey on Nikki?
Egan: I love Drew. I’ve done 2 episodes with Drew Carey. We have the same producer, Bruce Helford. Cause I was on Drew Carey. I caught the attention of Bruce. I played 1 character 3 years ago and a crazy pregnant woman 1 year ago. So when we did the show it was like seeing an old friend. I’m glad he’s okay now.
Question: Would you ever want to do Whose Line?
Egan: I know Wayne Brady cause we used to live in the same apartment building. What he does with music is incredible. I’ve only had to make up lyrics when I forget them. I don’t think I could place myself in that kind of situation. It’s incredible nerve wracking.
Question: Who choreographs all those great numbers you have to do on the show?
Egan: Different choreographers. We’ve worked with a core of 6 of them. Nikki and I have our favorites. There is a guy Barry Lather. We have a couple. These incredible video choreographers really keep Nikki and I on our toes. Nikki and I aren’t doing this every day like the dancers they bring in. It definitely encourages us to stay away from the craft service table.
Question: Are you happy with how Mary has developed this year?
Egan: Yes. The continuing of that development is looking pretty good too. She can be the sarcastic one. I like that. I definitely wanted her to have a few more dimensions. That’s the process of a sitcom. You get to know the characters a little more each week. She can be very dark and cynical and then something wise can come out of her mouth.
Question: Do you have any plans to put out a cd?
Egan: Yes! As a matter of fact. Yes this March I have a CD coming out called So Far… Basically it’s everything I’ve performed so far and have never recorded. It has music I’ve done in Broadway shows and that I’ve performed in Orchestras. The cool part is I recorded it at Abbey Road. It will be out in store in March 5.
Question: Are there any other tv sitcoms you would like to be in…..or are in? Who are your role models?
Egan: Role models tend to be people who have achieved a certain amount of success and then give back. Audrey Hepburn is a great example, Paul Newman. I worked with Carol Burnett. These are people that too the positive in their life and tried to expand it to as many people as possible. Yeah. I recurred on a sitcom called Almost Perfect with Nancy Travis for Paramount. From the creators of Cheers. I’m working with Bruce Helford. I’d probably like to do a completely professional character. Like Murphy Brown, for a complete change of pace. Next time. Frankly, I’d really love to do an hour drama. Something that is completely different.
Question: Do you have any input into Mary’s character on Nikki or do you just follow the script given to you? They do some pretty crazy things, do you ever get to say that’s going to far, or were those your ideas?
Egan: There are some crazy things on the show. We have some crazy writers, but they are also great writers. They look at what the cast does well and write for that. For example, Mary works in a lounge where she sings. What makes it funny is that it’s the cheesiest lounge in Vegas. So I get to sing and be a comedienne. I have ideas. There was an episode last year where Nikki and I were competing in a Showgirl of the Year competition. The writers told me about it. I said I would love to be the Tonya Harding of the competition. I tried to sabotage very girls competitive edge. Try to demolish the girls one by one. Then the police cart me off. That was my idea. He he he.
Question: Is it REALLY going to be released this time?
Egan: Oh yeah. The cd got backlogged because of the jobs I kept getting. I’m considering myself really lucky. I was supposed to do it 2 years ago. I got Cabaret, then Nikki. I couldn’t get to London for time off. It is done and mixed and at the printers for a March 5 release.
Question: Are you coming back to Broadway any time soon?
Egan: I was just talking to a producer today about a new musical about Amelia Earhardt.
Question: What were the worst jobs you had to deal with before becoming an actress?
Egan: I don’t know if they’re horrible jobs. They certainly weren’t my dream jobs, but I folded shirts at the GAP. I fold a mean t shirt. I worked as a hostess at the Olive Garden. At the GAP I actually sold jeans to Tom Hanks once. It’s really nice. Someday I can’t wait to meet him and say I know what size you wear.
Question: Susan, are you going to be doing any charity work relating to September 11th?
Egan: As a matter of fact, yes. I’m starting a company called America’s Kids. The idea of the company is to empower children by creating an active role for them to play in the healing of our nation. See adults can give blood, we can give money, but we haven’t given children a voice. We’re going to film a 1/2 video of 10 patriotic songs sungs by children. It will look like an MTV video and we’ll film it commercially for kids ages 2 to 8. To raise money for a 9-11 Relief Fund. Organizing this is actually how I’m spending time in my dressing room.
Question: Susan tell us about that 76 gasoline commercial you did. I loved it.
Egan: LOL. Yes. Thank God for that commercial. That commercial helped me through a year of unemployment. It was fun to shoot cause I got to drive a real Nascar. I’m surprised they recognized me from it cause I had short red hair.
Question: What is coming up on this weeks episode?
Egan: Actually, it’s the one episode this season that I’m not in. But that’s okay. It’s about a new neighbor of Nikki and Dwight’s who moves into the building. And she’s played by Jenica Bergere. She’s a great gal and you might remember her from the Drew Carey Show. She played Drew’s girlfriend for 2 years. And she did 2 episodes for us. We hung out the following week. She’s very cool and came to one of my concerts.
Question: Do you enjoy doing voiceover work? Any more cartoons that you’re working on?
Egan: I’m not scheduled to yet, although I’d like to. I’ve recently become good friends with Tara Strong and she’s the voice of everything, including the voice of Bubbles, and Lil and The Little Mermaid’s daughter. She’s such a crackup cause she’ll go into all these voices mid sentence.
Question: WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME? AS IN FUN AND RELAXATION.
Egan: I don’t understand spare time. What does that mean? My spare time is actually taken up right now with producing the American’s Kids video and next week I’m doing a reading of a new play with Joanna Gleason. I’m very excited to work with Joanna cause I’ve seen her in lots of Broadway shows. I’m a little nervous to be directing her. GULP!
Question: Are you planning any more concerts in the near future?
Egan: I have a concert December 1st and 2nd in Montana. A Christmas Concert with an 85 piece orchestra. Very cool. Another one in April in San Diego. My website has the details.
TV Guide Online: Thanks so much for coming!
Egan: Thank you guys for coming.
TV Guide Online: Make sure to tune into Nikki on Sunday night on the WB! And for more info on Susan, concert dates etc… visit www.susanegan.net.
2000 - Talking with Susan: More conversation with Susan...
More conversation with Susan…
Q: Okay. Now tell me what else is in your dressing room.
A: Actually it’s not that interesting because I cleared a lot of it out when I left for six weeks. So my big bulletin board that had all sorts of pictures on it is now at home…I’m looking at it now. I’ll have to get another bulletin board for there. But I have my little tables from my dressing room at Triumph of Love. I have a little storage unit that was in my hotel room for Cabaret. And a computer table.
Q: You spend an awful lot of time in there.
Q: Are you bored yet?
A: No. And what I’m doing now is, they set up a ballet barre in the hallway…and it’s a really wide hallway, like six feet. So I can do yoga and exercises and stuff out there. I do that a lot. And I’m getting a lot better at staying away from craft services.
Q: I was just going to ask. What’s up with your craft services table?
A: I’m doing pretty good. I’m trying to cut out breads…and as much sugar as I can possibly cut out.
Q: You’re a better man than I. I could do sugar but I could never do bread.
A: I know. I’ve done pretty well. Today I had a hot dog, which was a big thing. I was starving, I had to have it. But I really haven’t had bread.
Q: I can’t imagine the willpower that takes. And you guys have a scary craft services table. We were just talking about that…the difference between craft services on different TV shows.
A: Oh, God. I just…I mean, donuts! Krispy Kremes all over the place. And bagels, chips, crackers…
Q: And you’re there with nothing else to do.
Q: Have they found out that you’re stealing clothes yet?
A: They’re just giving them to me now. I’m wearing a pair of jeans from the show right now. They’re cool, they’re frayed on top and around the pockets…they’re really neat. And I liked them so much I said, “Can I buy these?” And they said, “Oh, you can just take them.” And I got a cool pair of shoes from the Drew Carey episode I did a couple weeks ago.
Q: Tell everyone how you ended up getting on the Drew Carey show.
A: Well it’s the same producer as Nikki…Bruce Helford. And he produces Drew Carey. So he called me up…no, actually I guess I was working on Nikki. And he said, “Hey, do you want to do a Drew Carey episode, too, if we can work out the scheduling?” And I said, “Hmmletmethinkaboutitokay.” And they figured it out…so basically I ran between stage 26 and stage…I think it’s 14, maybe 17…all week. Like, in the morning I’d be with Nikki and in the afternoon I’d be with Drew.
Q: Did you eat or sleep?
A: I ate a lot. Because you think craft services on Nikki is a lot? Multiply it by 40. Seriously. Drew Carey has the biggest craft services in the industry. It’s known. Like, on shoot night? Two turkeys, two hams, a big roast beef, three kinds of potatoes, two kinds of stuffing…umm, a whole dessert table. It’s huge! It’s huge. So I ate a whole lot at Drew Carey which is part of the reason I’m on a diet now. And of course I was playing a pregnant woman, so you know, it didn’t show…
Q: Now, what is it about a psychotic pregnant woman that made Bruce Helford think to himself: Susan Egan!
A: Uh, you know, that’s where I’m a little weirded out. Because Bruce is, like, “Oh, we wrote the script and I thought of you! You’re perfect! Oh my gosh, this should be Susan!” And I had just seen Drew a couple nights before at a party, so Drew says “Hey, I just ran into Susan! Let’s use her…make it work!” So they made it work, and I read the script, and I thought “Wow. Okay, I don’t know if that was a compliment.” And it was neat because, you know, I’d done the Drew Carey show before, but now because I look different I got to play a whole other role.
Q: Is black hair your career now?
A: Yup. I can’t get rid of it. I mean, seriously I can’t. Bruce won’t let me. But I am growing it out. I can get it into a ponytail now. But for the movie I wore a wig, and it looks like my old hair.
Q: Which is blond?
A: Actually, reddish. What my hair looked like in Birdie. Back in ’92.
Q: But as soon as you dyed it black it’s like, “She’s a vixen!”
A: Kind of! Yeah. Oh, here’s a cool thing that happened the other day. This little boy, who was on our episode this week, but I wasn’t in a scene with him…he was watching a scene that I was doing. And I only had a couple of lines in that particular scene. But we went through it a couple of times and he was just watching. And afterwards…I think he’s, like, six, and his name is Kyle. And he holds up his hand and motions with his finger, saying “Come here, come here.” And he said “Were you the voice of Meg?” And I said, “Yeah!” and I figured somebody on the set had told him. But he turns to his mom and says “See?” And she said “Yeah, he kept trying to tell me…he recognized your voice!” Just from the couple of lines in that scene. How cool is that?
Q: He must have listened to the movie so many times.
A: But of course, basically I’m playing Meg, too. All my lines are kind of low…
A: Sarcastic. Yeah.
2000 - Talking with Susan: Kermit The Frog... and More!
Well, it had been a while since I talked to Susan, though I kept meaning to call her. You know how it is when you and a friend are both busy. (Also, I hear, she’s been having roof problems. Most of the time, her brand-new roof works fine, but when it rains, it tends to rain in her bed. Refreshing, but not particularly restful.)
Anyway. One day, she sent me the following email:
“I MET KERMIT THE FROG!!! He’s the biggest celebrity I have ever met and I was more knock-kneed in front of him than I was with Warren Beatty. He is sooooo beautiful. Well, they both are, certainly, but Kermit…….who needs a prince when you can have the frog?”
That did it. I called her up instantly, of course, and we had the following conversation:
* * *
Q: What was he wearing?
A: (Dreamily) Green. I got home and Karen [Susan’s assistant] was up in L.A. that day and I said “Karen! Oh my God, I just met the biggest celebrity I have ever met in my entire life and you have twenty questions.” And she’s like, “Okay, is it a male?” “Yes!” “Is he Caucasian?” “No.” “Is he African-American?” “No.” “Is he Asian?” “No.” “Is he Hispanic?” “No.” The thing is, she went about it all wrong. She could never figure it out because she never said “Is he green?”
Q: Well you have to admit that’s not the first question you usually ask about somebody…is he green?
A: No. But then she got to, okay, he’s done film but he’s really known for television. “Is he on a major network…ABC?” “No.” “CBS?” “No.” “NBC?” “No.” Finally, it was like “PBS? I don’t watch anything on PBS.” And I said, “I guarantee you’ve seen this show over a hundred times.” She never got it.
Q: Kermit rocks. Who’s cooler than Kermit?
(Long pause while we consider Kermit’s coolness)
Q: Okay. So tell me how Nikki’s going.
A: Nikki’s going great! We’re back…we had six weeks off, and the show was picked up for nine more episodes, so we’ll have twenty-two this year. We’re on episode sixteen…
Q: Now, did we or did we not see you on television the other day dressed up as a dancing cockroach?
A: Yes. You did.
Q: Was that part of your UCLA training?
A: Yeah. No, actually that was part of my living in New York on 107th Street training. My first apartment in New York trained me for that part.
Q: You knew all about them…
A: ALL about it.
Q: That just cracked me up, by the way. That I know someone who’s played a cockroach on TV.
A: Not your average sitcom.
The likeness is uncanny (and frankly, a little disturbing). You’ve gotta give it up for Emmy-winning costume designer for Nikki, Jane Ruhm!
Q: What’s in your dressing room…what have you brought over to make it feel more like home? You spend a lot of time in there.
A: That’s a good question. I take my computer a lot, as you know because you can’t get a hold of me. [Note: It’s a long story.] I catch up on all my emails, I do a lot of shopping on the net. I get a lot of stuff done…just silly things…drugstore.com. I’m loving Smith&Noble.com because they make blinds and things for your windows and they come in four days. I got steel. Steel? Well, gray.
Q: What’s up with your eBay addiction? Have you gotten over that yet?
A: Yeah. Over it. [Note: It’s another long story, but we were worried about her for a while there.] Over it. But if I’m looking for something now, I will go look for it on eBay. Like, my friend Lisa had a party over at her house and I wanted to give her a thank-you note. And she has a jukebox…a genuine vintage jukebox that works. And she has all of her favorite albums on it but the one she could never find, that she loves, is “Downtown.” And so I got on eBay, and I needed a 45 of “Downtown,” and there was one in London. So I bid on it and I got it, for seven dollars, to give to my friend Lisa.
Q: How much did you end up making when you were selling stuff?
A: Oh, a couple hundred dollars. More than that. Some of my CDs went for, like, $80.
Q: That was so funny. You’d come running in saying “Guess what I just sold!”
A: Yeah. My hair and makeup people thought I was crazy.
May 2000 - Talking with Susan: In Susan's dressing room at Cabaret
So our roving reporter happened to be hanging out in Susan’s dressing room just before one of her very last performances as Sally Bowles on Broadway. Flies on that wall heard the following:
* * *
Q: So, are you in packing hell?
A: Well, I mean, packing is never fun. And yeah, most of my stuff is in L.A. but I’ve been here for a year, I’ve accumulated things, and I’ve got all my winter clothes and all my summer clothes ’cause I’ve been here for both those seasons. And all my computer stuff and my printer. And two humidifers and a steamer…this is what a singer travels with! Those are big.
Melba (Susan’s dresser): Uh, two humidifiers is a little much.
A: I know. And then I bought a little bit of furniture that’s coming with me.
Q: Did it suck to live in a hotel for a year?
A: No! You get room service, you get towels…
Q: It must be cool to have people come in and clean. But you can’t cook.
A: I had a little kitchenette. I mean, when I’m doing eight shows a week I don’t cook anyway, ’cause I work at night. So I tend to have my cereal in the mornings, which you don’t need a stove for, and I never cook. I cook all the time when I’m not working at night. But…
Q: That was actually one of my questions…Susan, you sing, dance, act, write, direct, produce, and teach. Can you cook, too?
A: I’m trying to get better at it. My sister’s one of those that can look in the cupboard with a bunch of bizarre ingredients and make, like, four-star meals…
Q: She’s got, like, ketchup and garbanzo beans and all of a sudden it’s three courses…
A: Yeah, yeah. (Pause.) I like to call them chick peas.
Q: I’m sorry.
A: (Magnanimously) That’s okay. Something about garbanzo beans…it just sounds like a Muppet. Doesn’t it sound like Gonzo?
Q: I can picture it now. So what do you cook?
A: Well, Melba and I have discovered this magazine called Real Simple and they have some pretty good recipes that I’m gonna cut out. And then we had this other magazine…it might have been InStyle…that had a really good sea bass with this fruit salsa…easy and healthy.
Q: When you go back, what’s your shooting schedule like?
A: Monday through Friday.
Q: Twelve hours?
A: (Cracks up) No! Not for sitcoms! Hour-long shows are like that. Sitcoms are like, you have your read-through day which is maybe two hours and then the next day you block for, like, eight hours…and the next day you block and run through for the producers. And the next day you camera block. And the next day you finish camera blocking and then you shoot that evening with a studio audience. That’s a longer day, the shoot day.
Q: That’s cool…you’re going to have…what are you going to DO with yourself? You’re going to have to learn to knit.
A: Uh, no. I don’t think so. I’m going to write! Screenplays…I’m going to write with my boyfriend, Morgan…
Q: Why do you only date men whose names start with M?
A: I don’t know, but this one’s much better than “Michael,” isn’t it? There are too many Michaels in my life.
Q: You’ve got a brother named Michael.
A: Brother. Agent. Director. Business partner. Three boyfriends.
Q: Co-star. Two co-stars!
A: Everybody’s named Michael. Now my agent’s name is Mitchell and my boyfriend is Morgan.
Q: You must just be attracted to that M sound.
A: I don’t know what it is! I do not ask for this in my life, it just comes…
Q: …the weird little synchronicities….
A: …and I embrace it.
* * *
Q: So what do you HAVE to travel with? I mean, I know you have to have your lava lamp.
A: Oh, yeah! I have a whole box of cool things like that. I just packed it yesterday. And in that box, it has my lava lamp—which has two separate boxes, you have to take it all apart—and my Crock-Pot, that’s in there…oh, my Broadway globe, which is the Equity Fights Aids snowglobe, it has all the Broadway shows. And this bowl is going. (Holds up glazed bowl) My nieces painted this for me.
Q: What are you going to miss about New York City?
A: You know, I don’t miss things. Because I always sort of like where I am at the time.
Q: Okay then, what’s your favorite place in New York City?
A: Oh, God. I love Central Park. And today I had lunch at Brasserie, which is on 53rd, and on a sunny day like today you get to sit in the outdoors and that’s neat.
Q: Do you like Central Park better in winter or summer?
A: Summer, probably. Fall is beautiful. But I don’t like being cold. It’s beautiful in winter, but snow wears off. The novelty of that wears off. Now’s a good time.
Q: So what’s it like having to leave the show?
A: It’s weird. I guess, I’m ready…
Q: You’ve been doing it for a year.
A: Yeah. I’m tired. I’m not tired of the show, I’m not bored. But I’m tired. The schedule is what really kills you…we have that five-show weekend. So I’m ready to have weekends and evenings off. But I’m going to miss everybody…and I’ve learned so much here as an actress.
Q: You learn something from every show, every experience you have.
A: Yeah, on so many levels. I mean, I really got to stretch myself as an actress to do a role like this. I got to show New York City that I’m not Belle. And then just doing it day in and day out, this kind of emotional show, that’s training. Really learning how to use my voice in a way that–I don’t have to worry about doing eight shows a week, even if I’m screaming, which was good for me. I love doing scenes with Michael Hayden. I learned a lot from him as an actor. He keeps me honest. There’s nothing superfluous in his acting. He doesn’t pause. So you’re forced to not become indulgent, yourself, but just be real, be in the moment.
Q: It’s still interesting every night.
A: Totally. And it’s totally different every night. We’re really good partners.
Q: You guys are great up there, it’s amazing. Even when no one’s talking, it’s so interesting.
A: We have a long relationship. We hit it off when we were doing our first play
together, we were playing brother and sister, and that’s really how I feel about Michael. You know, he comes up here and shows me gifts he gets his wife and says what do you think, and I absolutely feel like his sister. And that’s a perfect relationship to mirror as Sally and Cliff. A genuine affection for each other, but it’s really platonic.
Q: As an audience member, I can see that affection for each other. And that makes it so much better…and so much sadder!
A: It just adds depth to things. Because the love story happens offstage in this play, and the scenes are always about what’s in between the lines, not what they’re saying, because neither of them will say anything outright. You know, she never says she got an abortion, he never says he loves her. But it’s understood. The acting between the lines.
Q: What’s the most fun thing you’ve ever gotten to say onstage? I love in Triumph when you turn to the audience…
A: “I love me in this!”
A: I like in “Mein Herr,” if the guy I’m sort of flirting with in the front row—I’m in a suggestive physical position—and sometimes it really embarrasses the guy, or sometimes the wife of the guy cracks up, or sometimes it’s a teenage boy whose father’s sitting behind him. And if they’re particularly funny, if they do something funny, then I’ll talk to them about it in the moment, and it usually gets the audience to laugh pretty hard. Some guys are so uncomfortable with what I’m doing that they’ll, like, look around and they don’t know what to do so they’ll take a sip of their drink so I’ll comment (Sally voice) “That’s right dahling. Take a sip of that drink.” And everyone will laugh. And sometimes they’re busy looking at Helga or somebody else and I’ll, “Hello. Dahling I’m over here.” Or “Is that your father?” And I usually get to pull one out a week, if they do something funny, and I love doing that. And people backstage always love that. “What’d she say, what’d they do?” And the audience can see them just as much as they can see me, ’cause they’re in the spotlight too, that front table. They get really nervous, they’re so shocked with what I’m doing and they’re so glad they’re not in that hot seat. I love doing that. I love improvising, I love when things go wrong.
Q: So this is a cheesy question, but tell us a “something going wrong” story.
A: Well, you know I’m a klutz, so one night “Don’t forget to leave your number,” to Cliff, you know, in the dressing room, and then I go to exit, “Toodle-pip!” and I open the door and I leave. Only I open the door into my head. So I just said “Ow!” But I said it with a British accent. But it was like, “Toodle-pip—slap—ow!” And Hayden’s just standing there shaking his head, going “what is her problem?” And the two guys offstage who are standing there waiting to make their entrance are looking at me like “what are you doing?”
And sometimes I get my costume caught in the door, so that’s really funny. The other night my boots weren’t onstage—I’m supposed to put them on and then I have this really fast change but they weren’t there. Or things fall over, or the egg explodes. Or if I knock the ashtray over. The ashtrays are filled with sand. And my “Perfectly Marvelous” number is followed by “Two Ladies,” which is a heavy dance number, so I’m thinking, “well, that’s a soft-shoe now.” But they’re crawling around on the floor and I’m thinking, “their poor knees!”
I had a hard time last week with my lyrics for “Don’t Tell Mama.” That was hysterical. I kept singing—two days in a row I sang the second verse first. So the whole first verse I sing by myself, and the girls join in on the chorus. And the second verse and chorus we all sing together. But for some reason—the lyrics are all similar, it’s your uncle your brother your mother your father—so I sing, I’m out there and I’m doing the motions for the first verse and I’m singing the lines from the second verse and I’m thinking noooo…and I couldn’t jump back because then nothing would rhyme. So I knew I was going to have to repeat all those same jokes. So in between the lines I’m yelling “Oh my God!” and still singing and still singing, and Linda’s cracking up and Vicki’s looking at me like, “what are you doing?” So then when we get to the second verse I say “ONE MORE TIME!” and they just lost it. When I make a mistake I make big mistakes. I just embrace it and let the world know that I know that I made a mistake. And then I’m thinking, it’s not “Impossible Dream.” It’s not, like, “Memory,” where everybody knows the words. Who knows the words to “Don’t Tell Mama?” Nobody knew. But then I did it the next night…what is that about? So the following night Vicki sang the one line that kept leading me off.
(NOTE: Interestingly, the lyrics to “Don’t Tell Mama” are written on the wall in Susan’s dressing-room loo.)
Everything’s gone wrong. One night—in the Cliff/Sally scene they fly in just a naked light bulb, that’s the light in our room—and they flew in the wrong lights and all of a sudden it looked like we were in a bordello. They were these big red velvet lamps that SO do not belong in Cliff and Sally’s apartment. They kept pulling my focus because they’re so big and they flew in so far. And I just wanted to say it so badly—it was in the second act—and I wanted Cliff to come home, and I’d go “Cliff, did you get a job? I bought lamps!” (Considers) It could have been worse. It could have been the pineapples.
Q: How do you pull that off?
A: “I bought pineapples!”
* * *
Q: So what’s the TV show about?
A: Nikki Cox is the lead. She plays a Vegas showgirl, Vegas dancer, who’s married to a guy named Wayne who is a wrestler. And they live in Vegas. So the side of the show that deals with him is all about the World Wrestling Federation and what’s it’s like to be, like, this wrestler-in-training and all these big guys beating you up. And Nikki is the dancing thing, so I’m in her storyline. I’m basically a thirty-year-old Bebe Neuwirth, this sort of jaded, cynical dancer, Mary, who they don’t particularly like. But she gets the good lines. So I have, like, five lines a show and that’s it. Easy job. But we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to having some time.
Q: What are you going to do?
A: Read. Write. Knock down walls in my house. Spend time with [friends’] babies. Maybe head in that direction myself someday.
Q: You’re talking about a real life!
A: It’ll never be normal. It’ll always be kind of strange. (Pause) It suits me.
* * *
Q: You know, I’ve been crazed and I haven’t really had time to prepare and write down interview questions. So can you just be witty and entertaining?
A: I use Lady Speed Stick. And my favorite kind of Lady Speed Stick, the only kind I use, is Soft Lilac. It smells like lavender. I guess it smells like lilacs. But I don’t wear any perfume ’cause I like the smell of my deodorant. Sometimes I get compliments.
[Editor’s Note: Uh, sorry about that. We’ve learned our lesson…next time, we’ll bring questions. On the upside, we’re happy to report that Susan went on, twenty minutes after this interview, to electrify yet another audience and earn a standing ovation. We’ll miss ya, Sally.]
February 2000 - Talking with Susan: After her February 2000 Concerts
So we were back on the phone with Susan the other day…
* * *
Q: So how did the concerts go?
A: The concerts went great. They really did.
Q: What’s the difference between the hometown crowd and the regular crowd?
A: I don’t know! I couldn’t tell you, ’cause I’ve never done a concert not in California.
Q: But I mean, you’re doing stuff in New York.
A: Yeah, but it’s a different venue. I mean, I’m playing a role, and it’s a story, as opposed to a cabaret act…so I think the difference is probably more between audiences of a cabaret act and a show as opposed to hometown and New York.
Q: Does it take more energy to be a character?
A: It’s just…different. They both take a lot of energy. But with Sally I get breaks in between my scenes, and in a club act you don’t. But. It’s also two and a half hours as opposed to an hour and a half. Or two hours, I guess the concerts are two hours.
Q: I was just wondering if it’s easier to go up there when you’ve got the script and have this character that you’re going to play.
A: It’s just different. I mean, then you have other stresses…you’ve got other players playing with you, you have this character or the accent or the choreography or whatever. You can’t ad-lib as easily as you might in a cabaret act. However, in a cabaret act, I’m responsible for every aspect of the show. I’m not just responsible for my role, do you know what I mean? I have to choose the music, I have to write the patter…it’s just different kinds of stress. They’re both high level stress, actually.
Q: A lot of people don’t know this, but you pretty much did the equivalent of two shows a day while you were out there.
A: More. More than a regular two-show day. Just because…well, you know, you walk out and it’s just me, then, for ninety minutes.
Q: Well, I think it went really well.
A: Yeah! All the venues have invited me back, so that’s a good sign.
Q: And you got to go home. How long has it been since you’ve been home?
Q: When you did the Hollywood Bowl concerts.
Q: Did you get to go look at your house?
A: I was there for fifteen minutes.
Q: Really? Were you like, “ohhhhh…?”
A: No. I’m not attached to things like that. I’m not attached to anything. I mean, there’s nothing in my life, that’s a material possession, that I couldn’t throw it away and never think about it again.
Q: That’s a good quality to have.
A: I just don’t care about them. (Laughs) In fact, I feel bogged down if I have too many things! So, you know, I love the house, it’s great when I’m there…I don’t really think about it much when I’m not.
Q: What did Willa do when she saw you?
A: Willa? I think she forgets about me. I don’t think dogs have memories, I think they just live in the present, you know…that’s why you can give ’em a treat and then five minutes later they think they need another treat. So I think when I come home, Willa’s like, “Oh yeah! Oh yeah, you! Wag, wag, wag. Hi! There’s you, I forgot there’s you, and now you’re here.” But I mean, for all she knows, I was there the day before. I think that’s how dogs think. I mean, I think there are some dogs that are people-dogs, dogs that sort of have human intelligence, and then there are dog-dogs. Willa’s a dog-dog. I love her…I miss her immensely.
Q: She’s the one material possession?
A: She’s not a possession! She’s a soul! She’s a friend.
Q: And I guess you can’t have her in New York, where you are.
A: Well, I got her in New York. But I think she’s grown used to having a big house, coming in and out whenever she wants, as opposed to a studio apartment on the 18th floor.
Q: Can we do a day in the life of Susan? ‘Cause I bet most people think, you’re on Broadway and you go to work at eight p.m. So you probably get up around noon, sit around in your fluffy slippers, watch the soaps, have an early dinner and trot off to the theater at seven. I think that’s a misconception a lot of people have.
A: I usually have one day a week where I get to choose what I want to do. But sometimes I don’t even have that.
Q: What’s a normal day?
A: Today I’m editing a video all day, and then I have a meeting…at four, and then I’ll go do the show. But I usually…you know, my day off, I went to some auditions for voiceovers, I’ve got two pilot auditions next week but I don’t know when we’re going to squeeze them in because I’m rehearsing from 10 to 6 every day…
Q: What are you doing, now?
A: A new Alan Menken musical called Big Street. We’re workshopping it.
Q: When does that go up?
A: It’s just a workshop, so we have two weeks of rehearsal and then a reading.
Q: And how’d the book-on-tape thing go?
A: It went great…oh yeah! That’s what I did last week. So every day I was up at eight, got to the studio by ten, and that’s, you know, having gone to bed at three. Up at eight, studio by ten, left the studio by maybe four. And either had a Pilates class or a voice lesson, or came home and slept for an hour. And then ate something and went to the theater.
Q: So let it be known you’re not lounging around in your jammies all day, waiting for your call.
A: No. I wish! I’m lucky if I get to do that once a week. And most people have a weekend, to do that, you know, but then, starting Friday night I’ve got five shows in forty-nine hours.
* * *
Q: Okay. Random questions. Are you ready?
Q: You’re hosting the Letterman show. Who are your guests, and who’s your musical guest?
A: That’s a hard question. It’s hard because I mean…if I’m hosting, I’d probably have Dave on and interview him. You know?
Q: That’s such a good idea!
A: I mean, we’ve never really heard that side of things. But I guess the whole point of a guest host is Dave gets the night off. So I don’t know. Maybe we’d visit Dave at home.
Q: I think you should do it! You’d be a great host. Okay…and?
A: And then maybe I’d bring, like, Adam Guettel on, you know, get something funky musical theater on, maybe Michael John or somebody like that.
Q: Peanut butter. Crunchy or creamy?
A: Umm, it depends. On sandwiches I like crunchy. And I like boysenberry jam. On white bread. And I like a lot of both of those things on it, not just a thin layer. But then, sometimes I chop up green apples, or Gala apples, and then I like to dip it in creamy peanut butter.
Q: Because you don’t want the crunch going on with the…
Q: While we’re on the subject, what’s the deal with that company that puts the peanut butter and the jelly in the same jar? I don’t know, I just feel wrong about that. How do you feel?
A: I, uh, I’ve never had such a dramatic reaction to that. But I also don’t like it. ‘Cause it’s grape jelly.
Q: Have you ever cheated on a test?
A: Have I ever cheated on a test? No, actually. No. The thing is, a lot of things that I don’t do…it’s really, I just feel guilty. I have tremendous amounts of guilt in me.
Q: So you punish yourself. You don’t need anyone else to do it for you.
A: Exactly right. I’m much harder on myself than anybody else. I’m trying to think…I’ve never even stolen a piece of candy. Like from one of those big bins.
Q: It sounds like you had an exceedingly boring childhood.
A: No, no, no.
Q: No petty crime? Come on, we’re trying to do the exposé here.
A: Yeah, but no crime.
Q: Who’s your favorite Muppet?
A: Oh. That’s really hard. That’s too hard a question. Because I like…well, Kermit has the greatest personality. I mean, as a person, wouldn’t you love him?
A: Well, I love him as a frog. And then…I mean, there are so many…I love Animal. I love Janice. (Does Janice impression: “Yeaaah, toootally.”) But there are so many that I love. In fact, I can’t think of a Muppet I don’t love. Even the chickens that Gonzo is always after. I like them.
Q: You’re right. ‘Cause now I’m thinking about that question…is there a Muppet that you don’t love?
A: There is no Muppet that I don’t love.
Q: Okay. Best Hostess product?
A: Well, I used to like to eat Ding-Dongs and pick off all the chocolate on the outside first and then eat the cake and the middle part.
Q: So did I.
(NOTE: Didn’t we all?)
A: But I also like Hostess cupcakes.
Q: But then do you have to pick off the frosting?
Q: Isn’t that weird?
A: Yes. (Thinks) I’m not into those strawberry-coconut things. What are they called? Sno-balls. I don’t like those.
Q: Well, on the subject of food, what food do you hate?
A: See, hate’s a very strong word. Foods that I prefer not to eat: I’m not into lima beans because they’re kinda chalky. I love vegetables. You know what I hate? I hate sort of fishy-fishy-fish. Fish that tastes like the bottom of the ocean. But I do like fresh fish. I like sushi, but I don’t like mackerel sushi. Very fishy.
Q: When it’s got that fish-oil thing going on?
A: Right. No. None of that.
Q: Okay. Would you rather be a Bond girl or a Spice girl?
Ursula Andress as Pussy Galore
A: Bond girl! The thing about the Bond girls that’s so marvelous is that they’re beautiful, and you’re like, yeah, okay, so they’re just stupid…and then they’re brilliant. They’re all, like, scientists or they’re sort of La Femme Nikitas, they know how to use a gun, or they can do karate and all that stuff. That’s the thing about Bond girls, is they’re not just beautiful.
Q: If you were a rock star, who would you be?
A: I saw David Bowie in the elevator the other day.
A: I saw David Bowie on the elevator. So you say rock star and that’s who comes to my head. I like David Bowie, actually, because he’s sort of theatrical. He sort of re-invents himself. I like Sting as well. (Thinks) I would be Lestat.
A: The vampire Lestat.
A: I thought he made a great rock star. You know, that sort of Goth look, and people didn’t really realize that it was actually real, that that’s actually who he was.
Q: I’m wondering about the psychological implications here.
A: I think I’ve got the Goth look going on. I look like a vampire right now…I’ve got black hair, pale skin, and I only come out at night.
Q: Okay. That’s the end of the random questions.
A: Bagels or English muffins?
A: For you.
Q: For me? Definitely bagels. I really like English muffins, they’ve got that whole cranny thing going on, but they scrape the roof of your mouth if you toast them…so I’m all about the bagels…what about you?
A: English muffins. Just don’t over-toast them.
Q: Thanks for the tip.
* * *
There you have it, kids…cooking tips from Susan. Enjoy!
1999/2000 - Talking with Susan: The first Conversation
Q: So what’s it like to be Susan Egan right now?
A: Quiet. It’s a very quiet existence. I talk more in this show than most people talk in a whole day, so it’s like, I don’t get to talk for the rest of the time—in my life.
Q: You’re kinda busy though…you’re jetting all over the place.
A: Yeah! They’re keeping us pretty busy because they have these, sort of like, sales presentations all over the country and they’re flying us…I went to Nashville last week and I’m going to…where am I going to next? Alabama…Birmingham.
Q: For, of course, the Birmingham company of Cabaret….
A: Right. No! For another sales meeting. For the people who book tours to New York City. It was kinda fun in Nashville because Beauty and the Beast was also there doing a presentation…so I was all dressed up as Sally Bowles with my track marks…so I took a picture with all the Beauty and the Beast people, all those wholesome, wholesome people and me with my track marks and my drug addict…
Q: So this is what I’ve noticed about your career. You started out doing all the little innocent roles and now you’re slowly, like, taking off all your clothes. Is this by accident?
A: No. This is planned. This was in my five year plan, five years ago.
Q: That you wanted to be naked on stage.
A: Yeah! I’m almost there! I mean, you know you’re in a cool show when you have an actual bruise on your leg that looks disgusting and you’re like, yeah, that’s right, I’m not going to cover that up, I’m not going to put makeup on that! You know, ’cause you ran into your coffee table or something the day before…
Q: It’s like, that’s perfect! Yes!
A: There you go! And you know, it’s even weirder when you’re looking at the colors so that you can recreate it later. We have our own bruise kit.
Q: But is it an accident, how you’ve been slowly been evolving through all these roles?
A: I don’t think anything’s an accident. I mean I think there are lots of paths and I’m choosing this one. I’m very happy with it.
Q: Talk about the gap between your person and your persona.
A: You mean the difference between how people perceive me and how I really am?
A: Well, why don’t you tell me how people perceive me.
Q: I always thought you were a very cerebral person. But then the whole Belle thing…
A: I am pretty cerebral…I don’t think that people know that.
Q: Right, but the whole Belle thing put you across as very cute and innocent…
Q: And I was just wondering, is that changing, now that you’re Sally? Like, the way people see you?
A: Well, I think to make a role honest you have to use parts of yourself in the role, so there are aspects of Belle, not necessarily Belle but of my performance of Belle, that are very much me. That sort of feeling odd, feeling…I mean I think every teenager goes through that.
Q: How many times have you answered this question?
A: Um…a lot! I mean…I love to read, you know I’m sort of feisty and opinionated and I like that in Belle, I like that she was—she wanted so much to be a really good daughter but she was sort of stubborn, really—and I liked that, it made her an interesting ingenue, you know, as opposed to those sort of saccharine things.
Q: So do you feel like, now that you’re Sally, people are looking at you differently?
A: Well you know, I mean, Meg was that. I mean people who didn’t know me said, ‘That’s not Susan Egan,’ and people who knew me well said, ‘Oh my God, that’s the first time you’ve ever sounded like yourself.’ I mean that’s my real voice.
Q: Isn’t it weird? The only way that most people can know about you is through the art that you put out there, so that’s the only thing they know about you, and they form this whole character assumption about you.
A: Yeah, right. Brad Pitt, Paul Newman: Famous Movie StarsWell I do think that people round that out and make that into your whole person. But really that’s just a very small slice of who you are. I mean take somebody really famous, like Brad Pitt or Paul Newman. I mean, with those two, I think women look at who they play in movies and think—or hope!—that the character they’re playing in the movies is who they really are, and so they make that true for themselves, when I’m sure that’s not at all who they are.
Q: Okay, if you and Sally got into a cage match, who would win?
A: I think I’d win.
Q: How come?
A: She’s not a thinker. She flails and sometimes she gets lucky, but her luck will run out, and I think wiliness and intelligence wins out. But I don’t think Sally would necessarily want to win…I think she’d just want to put on a good show.
Q: She’d want to look good as she went down.
A: That’s right!
Q: Is it going to be hard to quit all those cigarettes?
A: I love the cigarettes! I smoke Nat Sherman “Phantom” cigarettes…and they’re expensive but the show pays for them and I love them. But it’s funny because everybody loves them and Worth, who is our prop woman—she’s marvelous—she keeps having to hide them because people steal them.
Q: What’s so great about them?
A: They’re so smooth! They’re those really narrow ones, they’re very long, they’re from England, they just taste good.
Q: We’re going to turn this whole web page into a big pro-smoking advertisement.
A: DON’T SMOKE! IT’S VERY BAD FOR YOU!
Q: I was just looking at that interview you did where you mentioned Marin Mazzie. And that week I was talking to a friend of mine who also knows Marin Mazzie, and she was saying, you know it’s really weird, her personality totally changed once she got naked on Broadway.
Q: She was pretty reserved before, and all of a sudden it’s like, what do you want to do now? She was all over the place.
A: It’s true! You know, Michelle Pawk—who played Fraulein Kost before I got in there, but she was Betty’s cover in Triumph, so you know I, I kissed her, eight shows a week, often—so she was telling me that there’s nothing that forces you to become more comfortable with your body than Cabaret. You know, than stamping around in your underwear with no tights.
Other Things That Jiggle
Q: You’re big on the no tights.
A: It’s a big difference. Dancers, who’ve worn tights, they know what they do to your body. I mean they suck everything in, your legs won’t jiggle, all that stuff. Not so in this show.
* * *
Q: Hey Susan, what IS your bowling average?
A: Um…I’m very inconsistent. I bowl like Sally. I just throw it down the lane and sometimes I get lucky. Sometimes I’ll bowl, like 120! And sometimes I’ll bowl 80. So there you are.
Q: What’s your favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s?
A: Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, but it’s now called Toffee Coffee Crunch.
Q: What’s in your CD player?
A: Hmmm…let me go check. Okay, Kate Rusby, an album called Sleepless. She’s an Irish folk singer.
Q: Do you now or have you ever played a musical instrument or a team sport?
A: Played piano. Played softball—we lost every game in our entire season.
Q: When was this?
A: I was in fifth grade.
Q: What position did you play?
A: First base!
Q: Who’s cooler, Barry Manilow or Neil Diamond?
A: Oh! That’s difficult to say! I like Neil Diamond’s voice ’cause of that raspy thing. But Barry Manilow used to accompany Bette Midler before either of them were famous and I think that’s cool.
Q: Kelsey Grammer or David Hyde Pierce?
A: David Hyde Pierce! He slays me. Although I really like Kelsey Grammer. But I think if I were to go to dinner with either of them I’d much rather go with David Hyde Pierce.
Q: Do you now or have you ever owned a bike with a banana seat?
A: Yes. But it was a hand-me-down from my sister.
Q: Okay. How do you feel about hummus?
A: I love hummus, I’ve got some in the fridge.Hummus
Q: You’re pro-hummus.
A: Pro-hummus. But if you’re going to be kissing anyone, make sure they’re eating hummus too.
* * *
Q: How’s the movie doing?
A: The movie’s doing great! You know, what wacks me out is how many people have seen it. It’s like Triumph of Love, you know? “I saw Triumph of Love!” “You’re kidding! Really?” Because so few people did. And I just figured that this is this independent film and who’s going to see it? But a lot of people have, and I see people at the stage door, and it’s not people who went because I was in it, it’s people who went to the movie because it sounded good and were pleasantly surprised that I was in it. So that’s pretty cool.
Q: For what it was, I really liked it.
A: Well I think what I’m loving is that critics don’t compare it to American Beauty, do you know what I mean? Critics critique it for what it is—is it good for what it is? And I think it’s quite good for what it is. Because other young people with that money, I think they’d make something ordinary. And this is so unique and marvelous. I think the writing’s great…I think it’s really pretty hysterical.
Q: What’s up with the CD? I know everyone wants to know this.
A: Taking my time. I’m just going to take my time. I don’t want to do anything that I don’t want to do. Now I have nine songs I like. I need fourteen. And I think I don’t want to record it while I’m doing Cabaret, because I want to really be able to do vocal gymnastics and this show is exhausting.
Q: And you’re with the show through the spring?
A: I think I’m going to stay till July. Although! I just recorded—and this is how “Meadowlark” happened too, the night before, I get a phone call from Bruce Kimmel at Varese-Sarabande—I got a call from John Such, who is co-producing with John Yap, to come in and record “I Dreamed a Dream,” which I did, so I don’t know when that’s coming out, but look for it!
Q: Wow, for what?
A: It’s on JAY records, and I think it’s called Bravo! Broadway, and it was with the London Symphony Orchestra, so that’s pretty cool.
Q: I feel like I should be asking you really deep questions.
A: Yeah, but how often are you really deep?
Q: Not often, let me tell you.