Actress Christianne Tisdale, who starred as Belle in Broadway's Beauty and the Beast, appeared live in a Playbill On-Line chat April 22, hosted by Associate Editor Katia Lundy. The following is an edited transcript.
Tisdale is living a fairy tale life. Many of the roles she has portrayed in the past year have all been in the magical world of fairy tales. Christianne originated the title role in "A Tale of Cinderella" at NYSTI/Time Warner, of which the original cast recording is under Atlantic Records. She swept her way onstage as the Broom in the Broadway company of "Beauty and the Beast." Thereafter she made her Broadway debut as "Belle" in the popular Disney musical fighting off Gaston and ever so compassionately capturing the Beast's heart.
Christianne has also appeared in City Center Encores! production of "Call Me Madam" with Tyne Daly. Regionally, she was Maria in "West Side Story," Christine in "The Phantom of the Opera" (European tour) and starred in the "Sound of Music."
A reformed opera singer, Christianne is a graduate, with distinction from Yale.
Playbill On-Line: Hiya Christianne, welcome to reality, Cyber reality, I should say Christianne Tisdale: hi katia - thanks for having me. I'm not the fastest typist so forgive me, please.
Playbill On-Line: Glad you could be here. Don't worry about the typing.
Christianne Tisdale: And I'm not really big on capital letters...
Playbill On-Line: I see . . . How does it feel now that you are not in the land of magic wands, fairy godmothers and make believe?
Christianne Tisdale: Once upon a time is lovely, but here and now is even better. It's fun playing characters that live and breathe in the twentieth century.
Playbill On-Line: This Q comes from ShanEliza
Question: Hi Christianne. I wrote you. My name is Shannon Joslyn. Do you remember me? Also, what are you working on right now?
Christianne Tisdale: I just finished a reading at Manhattan Theatre Club of a new musical called "The Green Heart" with friends from "Beauty and the Beast." They hope to workshop it soon. I'm also creating two new roles this summer at the Barter Theater...yippee...I remember you...please tell me I wrote back.
Playbill On-Line: This Q's for you from FireyFyre
Question: Hi Christianne! How long have you been studying music and acting? What do you like to do besides performing?
Christianne Tisdale: I've been studying music for about 15 years, and believe it or not I only had one year of acting training and that was as an undergrad at Yale. I love to read more than anything in the world. Second to that is playing with my nephews Kyle and Gavin. If they are not available, any friendly child will do. That's the main reason I've done fairy tale theater. I love children and love to have a positive influence on them.
Playbill On-Line: This question comes from Soner Kay
Question: Hi! I haven't seen "Beauty and the Beast" yet but I hope to soon. What is your favorite part in the show?
Christianne Tisdale: Hi Soner - my favorite part of "B&B" was the library scene. The text and underscoring are perfectly wed and it is the first moment in the play when the Belle and Beast's egos are out of the way and they can become friends and equals. It's absolutely beautiful...
Playbill On-Line: Q from FireyFyre
Question: Who would you most like to work with?
Christianne Tisdale: I really don't know. I adored working with the Beast, Jeff McCarthy, and another old -star of mine named Matthew Poretta from a production of "West Side Story." I would love to work with Hal Prince, Scott Ellis - all talented directors and actors would do for me. I might think of more names later. I've never given that much thought.
Playbill On-Line: RFKC12207 has this to say: Buon Giorno from Albany
Christianne Tisdale: Buona sera. come va? Which "Cinderella" pal are you?
Playbill On-Line: A Q from LchaseW
Question: I'm an Eli, too -- were you an undergrad or Drama School?
Christianne Tisdale: I was an undergrad, but did a show at the drama school cabaret my freshman year. What a treat. I was also box office manager for the Yale Rep and drama school for a bit, so I got to see some amazing theater.
Playbill On-Line: Anakin4 asks
Question: What kind of singing do you prefer, opera or Broadway?
Christianne Tisdale: most definitely Broadway, both to listen to and to sing. I like the fact that you can make an ugly sound in theater music if you're feeling an ugly emotion, but It's never really allowed in opera, and I always found that limiting.
Playbill On-Line: Q from Still49
Question: When did you know that you wanted to be on Broadway?
Christianne Tisdale: Hi Still - I knew four years ago, when I crossed-over from opera to music theater. I'm so much happier now that I have. Very liberating for me.
Playbill On-Line: FuturBell asks this: Was being in "B&B" as much fun as it seems?
Christianne Tisdale: Oh lordy yes, FuturBell. But it was also a lot of hard work. It's a very physical show. I even broke a rib during a performance, didn't know it, so I kept on going. But you cannot top "Be Our Guest" for fun onstage. P.S. that yellow dress weighs about 25 pounds aaah!
Playbill On-Line: From Beckhaine
Question: Does anyone really know how the Beast transformation at the end of the show takes place?
Christianne Tisdale: Anyone onstage at the time knows how it technically works, but I still feel It's Belle's love for the Beast that transforms him.
Playbill On-Line: JoelAroes asks
Question: Have you made any recordings?
Christianne Tisdale: Hi Joelaroes - yup I have. I'm on the recording of "Call me Madam" with Tyne Daly. My favorite, however is "A Tale of Cinderella" on the Time Warner label Atlantic Records. I play Cinderella and it is a wonderful pastiche of styles, taking place in Venice. Great deal of fun, and the video should be out on Warner Home video by Christmas.
Playbill On-Line: This comes from DWWeihe
Question: I have seen "B and B" twice on Broadway, and once in LA, and I have to say that the magic of Broadway and this story go hand in hand...The staging and lighting along with the special effect blew me away...what was the most challenging part as a actress?
Christianne Tisdale: Thank you for that sentiment. The challenging part as an actress, for me, was keeping it simple. Belle is purity, and you can't mess with her. I was first the understudy, so the most challenging part about that was going on after my second week in the show, with only 16 hours of rehearsal. I've never been so focused in my life...before, or since. It was an honor to play Belle, as well as Cinderella
Playbill On-Line: FuturBell is back with this
Question: According to your WSS bio, you worked with Terrence Mann in "Sweeney Todd" -- what was it like to work with him?
Christianne Tisdale: Terry is a lovely human being. Very warm, giving and very intense. I was Johanna to his "Sweeney Todd." That was actually my first professional show. An amazing cast - another honor.
Playbill On-Line: This comes from FireyFyre
Question: Hi again! I just finished playing Cinderella in a school production of "Cinderella," were you in the Rodgers And Hammerstein version?
Christianne Tisdale: Hi FireyFyre. this was a new version of "Cinderella." Composed by George David Weiss and Will Severin, with book by Bill Frankonis. It takes place in Venice and Cinderella has a little more chutzpah then usual...standing up to her evil step-family. But I'm sure your Cinderella was lovely.
Playbill On-Line: Christianne, What advice would you give to someone wanting to star in the "B&B" musical? Or for that matter, a person who wants to be on stage?
Christianne Tisdale: If you really, truly want it pursue it...take the voice lessons, acting classes AND dance classes (something I forgot to do), and if you do get an audition, play the scenes as honestly as you can. That's what they're looking for.
Playbill On-Line: Q from J9 Bears
Question: Were you active in drama as a child, and or music...and did you attend an elem./jr/sr high that emphasized music, drama, etc.?
Christianne Tisdale: Hi J9 - I just went to your regular run of the mill public high school, but we had a wonderful director named Vinny O'Brian, who had been in the original "Boyfriend" on B'way...he was an inspiration.
Playbill On-Line: DWWeihe asks
Question: Does the "Commercialism" Disney brought to Broadway bother you - or do you see it as a way to bring in the next generation to the theater - which some would say would have died had not it been for Disney?
Christianne Tisdale: When you think about it, and producer is there to make money, so Disney is doing nothing out of the ordinary regarding that. the fact that they can bring the new generation in is wonderful. and yes, I think Broadway desperately needs to attract that. I was always very conscious about meeting families afterwards, because you want the Broadway experience to be positive so they keep coming back. GREAT QUESTION!
Playbill On-Line: Q from NFarsi
Question: Have you been approached by any Hollywood agents? What Hollywood actors/actresses do you most admire and why?
Christianne Tisdale: No, no Hollywood agents as of yet, but if you know any? My career is completely East Coast at this point. I really admire Annette Bening - great actress, intelligent and a true lady. Emma Thompson for same reasons, and her entrepreneurial abilities on top of that. Boy is my spelling poor today.
Playbill On-Line: If a wonderful sitcom opportunity came your way (in LA) would you go. Keeping in mind that it does not involve music?
Christianne Tisdale: In a nano-second.
Playbill On-Line: From Romeo
Question: Christianne, do find the precision of "B&B" more difficult or easier than a less programmed and less structured sort of musical theatre?
Christianne Tisdale: Can I be your Juliet?
Playbill On-Line: You're such a flirt. I think he's drooling!
Christianne Tisdale: "B&B" is precise for many reasons...one of them being safety. despite its structure, though, the actors do have some flexibility and there is freedom in the scene work. It was great to work with such talented actors...you would start a scene and be comfortable enough with your colleagues to relax and let the scene take you to different places on different nights. Same with the people in "Cinderella," although we were all lucky enough to create those roles, thus having more inherent liberty. Thanks Romeo
Playbill On-Line: Pinballas' Q
Question: What was the reason for leaving opera and moving into what you do now as a performer.
Christianne Tisdale: Hey Pinballass...nice to see you. opera did not give me the freedom I needed as a performer, though I respect my colleagues that do it. I also have a short attention span, and opera involves emotions on a grand and extended scale, which really didn't suit my personality in the long run.
Playbill On-Line: Dweihe asks
Question : Can you tell us your feelings the first time you sat in the audience for "B and B" with a full house.....?
Christianne Tisdale: Sat in the audience or performed for a full house?
Playbill On-Line: ShanEliza wants to know: Where are you originally from?
Playbill On-Line: Oh wait a minute
Playbill On-Line: I think they wanted to know how it felt performing for a full house.
Christianne Tisdale: Hi Shan - I was born on the north shore of Long Island but spent the majority of my youth in Connecticut on the water.
Playbill On-Line: In response to your earlier inquiry, Dweihe wanted to know how did it feel to perform in front of a full house
Christianne Tisdale: Hi dweihe - the first time I performed for a full house a "full" experience. you truly feel as if you are going to burst. And in that huge beautiful theater...yum.
Playbill On-Line: From FuturBell
Comment: I saw you in "West Side Story" in August GA -- you were great!!
Christianne Tisdale: Thanks...I realized after the fact that I didn't address that when I saw "WSS." I had so much fun playing Maria with Matthew Poretta as Tony - a very funny man...and the "Somewhere" ballet was our dancing debut...imagine Jerome Robbins choreography as your dance debut. Thanks again.
Playbill On-Line: From STBWAY102
Question: Hi, I wrote you at the Palace- thank you for the lovely headshot & note! (I am the one who is a friend of Sarah U.'s) Do you have any "dream roles" that you'd love to play?
Christianne Tisdale: Hi - how are you? Of what is out there right now, I would love to play Fantine in "Les Miz," actually any of those roles. Mrs. Anna in "King and I" and I would love to have a stab at some classical theater. I'm at least getting auditions for that now.
Playbill On-Line: We have time for one more question.
Christianne Tisdale: Make it good gang.
Playbill On-Line: This Q comes from your admirer, Romeo
Question: If you were asked to go on a first class tour, with "B&B" or, especially "Cinderella", would you do it. I will if you will, but a show's no fun without good folks in it.
Christianne Tisdale: I'd go anywhere with you Romeo. You are one of my favorite colleagues, and I would pay to work with you again (please don't tell Time Warner).
Playbill On-Line: Thanks Christianne!!
Playbill On-Line: Christianne, now that you have performed as Belle on Broadway, what's next? (And don't tell me you are going to Disney World!)
Christianne Tisdale: I'm creating two new roles down South this summer. I love to originate roles and truly be a part of the creative process. And no, after I finished as Belle I went further South than Disney worlds, to Barbados. A lovely cap for my fairytale year as Cinderbella. Thanks for joining me y'all. Hope to see you again soon.
Playbill On-Line: A piu tardi, tutti
Christianne Tisdale: arrivaderci, bellisimmi!