SHERIE RENE SCOTT
Sherie Rene Scott is currently nominated for two 2010 Tony Awards for her mostly solo musical journey, Everyday Rapture, which is currently playing Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre: Best Book of a Musical (with Dick Scanlan) and Best Performance By a Leading Actress in a Musical. Both nominations are completely deserved, for Scott is offering what may be the best musical performance of the current Broadway season in a musical that is hilariously funny, deeply touching and ultimately spirit-raising. Scott, whose Broadway credits boast The Little Mermaid, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Aida, Tommy and Rent, spoke with me last week about her latest Broadway outing, which began life Off-Broadway last season at Second Stage Theatre; my interview with the singing actress follows:
Question: Congrats on your Tony nominations.
Scott: Thank you. Thank you very much.
Question: What was your reaction to being nominated for the Best Book Tony? Was that something you had expected or was it a surprise?
Scott: Oh, well, you never expect anything. [Laughs.] No, I would never expect anything at this time of year, but I would have to say that that was just very sweet-tasting in my mouth. Dick and I, we've been writing together for ten years, and it's been one of my most favorite things I've ever done in my life, and I want to keep doing it. So for us to be encouraged in that way is really sweet and good and fun, and I'm glad that we get to go through this process together, from the beginning to the very end. We get to travel it together, and I'm happy for that.
Question: You mentioned that you'd been writing for ten years. When did that start, and how did you two hook up to start?
Scott: When [my husband] Kurt [Deutsch] and I started the record label, Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records, I didn't want to become a recording artist, but I knew I wanted to do an experiment. . . . I had an idea for creating this character [and] the album was kind of a journey of this character. So Dick and I basically met first about him helping me write the liner notes ... We met that way and then, as we began talking about that, we became more interested in other things that we didn't use for that project, and we started writing for other events, because he was the first person to kind of take me seriously [laughs], with all my many ideas, and he kind of got my own personal dilemma, and we found that, even though we're very different, we have a lot of similarities and sensibilities about humor. Anyway, we just kept writing for other things that we had ideas about, and over the course of time, he said, "I think we've got something here," and I said, "I do, too. Let's write it for someone." [Laughs.] And we kept writing and writing. You know, we write all the time, while I'm doing eight shows a week and go from job to job. All my apartments through the city, he's written in, and we've written in every dressing room that I've ever had a show. It's hard to do eight shows a week and have a baby and keep up this writing thing and try to have a normal life, but I really find it gives me more energy and I really love doing it with Dick, so to speak. And, I don't know if I'd like to do it alone. I write alone and bring to him and he'll write alone and bring to me, but for the most part, we do a lot, a lot, a lot of [writing together].
|photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Question: What is the process like when you're writing with another person?
Scott: Well, it's lots of talking things out and sharing things and laughing and then, sometimes there'll be assignments. I find that works good for me. Dick will assign me something that we've talked about, that we're both interested in, and he'll assign me to write it. Then he'll bring it back, and we'll work on it together, or he'll take it away and change it. This show, at least, has come out of that kind of pattern — him taking it away and shaping it, then both of us shaping it, then maybe I'll get another assignment to do it again. He understands time and scheduling, and I don't. [Laughs.] He knows how much time we need to write something. He knows how much time it's going to take, and he's also very good at [realizing that] just because we've written it, it doesn't mean that we can't write more. It's there on the page, [but] are we perfectly happy with it? No, let's keep working it, keep working it. And, that's how it started with the writing, and then the music came in organically, later, after we knew what we were writing about in every section. Question: You refer to the role you're playing as a character even though it's somewhat autobiographical, I imagine.
Scott: Semi-autobiographical — not really autobiographical. I mean, it's semi-semi. It's at least two "semis"-autobiographical.
Question: What is it like for you within the theatre community to be playing this part that is your name and yet it isn't totally you? What have people's perceptions about that been like?
Scott: I don't know, really. I don't know what people's perceptions have been. I've just been busy working. I think that more so now, on Broadway, I get the feeling that people get much more easily that it's a character that we've written. You know, what am I gonna give her, another name? [Laughs.] The dilemma we share is the same, but how Dick and I articulate that dilemma is up to us. We're not tied to any facts of anything, and I wouldn't want to do that anyway. I'm a private person — not that that's bad for other people. I love watching other people do that. It's just, for me, the story is what's most important, and I was always happy to make her kind of an asshole. [Laughs]. You know what I mean? You know, like, I'm kind of an asshole, but just in a different way. [Laughs.]
Question: You start the performance on a very high energy level. How do you warm up or prepare for your entrance?
Scott: Well, I try to do vocal warm-ups as often as possible, and I try to do something active during the day, whether it's yoga or exercise or something to get going. But basically, just being in the theatre and hanging out, there's energy with our amazing cast of people, and they make me laugh, and hopefully I make them laugh, and we just enjoy being together. So it's just kind of happy energy, the joy of being alive, that I try to get going inside of me. But also, I feel safe going out onstage. It's not like this huge fear that I would kind of sometimes have [because of a] lack of enjoyment of it. This character that we've created is really fun to play. Her wrongness is so right, you know? The theatre feels really safe and wonderful for this production, so that's basically it. I try to get my body going and my voice going, and I try to take care of myself.
|photo by Carol Rosegg|
Question: What's it like for you revisiting those parts of the show that are autobiographical?
Scott: Like I said, everything is true — it's the whole truth, nothing but the truth, only better. [Laughs.] So things are true in their essence . . . . I mean, we wrote it, and Dick was very understanding when he wanted to take on this endeavor. We'd been writing — but not this show — for years, when we decided we wanted to write a show, [and] I said, "I'll do it on one condition if we're writing it. If I'm going to be in it, I just don't want anyone leaving knowing one thing about me." [Laughs]. That was [the] criteria, and he understood that. So anything that is factual has been altered or changed enough so that it's put in a context where it's not exactly as it happened. It's been put in a theatrical context, so there isn't anything, actually, that happened exactly as it happened. We put things that were important to us to put in, important politically for us to put in, that happened but also matched this character's journey. And those were things that may be personal, but we've bathed them in this writing that sets them in a different circumstance and has so much creativity around any facts that it doesn't seem like I'm divulging any personal information. Question: I remember you did talk once about a gay cousin. What do you think his reaction to the show would have been?
Scott: Oh, I feel that he would have loved it every night. I wouldn't do it if I [felt otherwise], and it was a big quandary to do anything like that at all . . . Again, [though], the essence is completely true, but the facts are completely different . . . in order to keep people's privacy that are still alive and my privacy and people's privacy in death. That was a big quandary, whether or not to do that, but I thought the story was so important, and of course, Dick did, too. And it's my feeling, and I don't think it's completely self-serving and I don't think it's just a survival mechanism — but it could be for me to be able to do it every night — that his spirit feels good about it. But that's what I'm gonna go with! [Laughs.]
Question: Is there any talk of touring the show or taking it elsewhere? Would you like to do it around the country?
Scott: I don't know what I'd like to do. . . . This has been such a creatively fulfilling experience, and this group of people is so special and the show is so unique, that whatever we do, I want to do it [so] that it feels instinctually right to everyone. When I leave this job, I have another thing coming up, which is why I have to have an end date here. So if anything happens, it wouldn't be for a year, but yeah, I don't know what's going to happen. I know I want to continue writing, and Dick and I want to continue writing, and definitely there's talk of a lot of things — taking it on tour, all sorts of things. But it's all talk until things start to happen, so I'm just waiting to see what falls in line.
Question: Can you talk about your next job? Is it a musical?
Scott: I don't think so. I don't think I can [talk about it] because I think they want to announce it themselves.
Question: Do you have a favorite moment in the show or something you look forward to each night?
Scott: I look forward to seeing the Mennonettes [Lindsay Mendez and Betsy Wolfe] every night, singing with them. Every time they come onstage or I get to deal with them, it's like, "Isn't this a dream come true?" . . . . It's always been kind of a nightmare to me to be onstage by myself [and] the whole reason to do this was how fun everyone was. You know, spiritually, to be alone in the spotlight – it's not something that I dreamt of. I dreamt of doing great work with great people. So when [Mendez and Wolfe] come onstage and when I get to do stuff with Eamon [Foley], you feel this energy come up, which is so needed at the right time. So that's what I look forward to every night.
(Everyday Rapture plays the American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd Street; for tickets call (212) 719-1300 or visit roundabouttheatre.org.) Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.