Stars of Tonya & Nancy, Claudio Quest, Deep Love Discuss New Musicals, Stage Mishaps, Coveted Roles

Diva Talk   Stars of Tonya & Nancy, Claudio Quest, Deep Love Discuss New Musicals, Stage Mishaps, Coveted Roles News, views and reviews about the multi-talented women of the musical theatre and the concert/cabaret stage.
Tracy McDowell
Tracy McDowell
Jenna Leigh Green
Jenna Leigh Green

This week's column spotlights five of the women featured in the 2013 New York Musical Theatre Festival, which runs through the end of the month at various venues around the city. Diva Talk posed the same set of questions to each talented artist; their answers, via email, follow. Click here for more information about the annual Festival.

Jenna Leigh Green
Nancy Kerrigan in Tonya & Nancy: A Rock Opera
July 9, 11, 12, 14 and 16 at PTC Performance Space

How did you get involved with this production?
Of course I had heard about the show….word travels fast about something so epic happening, but our lovely director David Alpert first reached out to me asking me to join in the fun, and even though I didn’t know him well at the time, I had a feeling he was going to be my new best friend. The rest is history!

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
I was a part of the staged reading series in 2012, in a show called It’s On that had a score made up of nothing but TV show theme songs. It was a kick! Then in 2013, I had the great fortune to be part of the cast of Standby.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
Well, she’s pretty well known, so I don’t really think a definition is necessary. But I could direct you to Wikipedia.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
C'mon, a musicalized retelling of the knee whack heard round the world? Do you need any more incentive?

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
I am passionate about new works, and being a part of new works. It is crucial in our industry to continue to nurture and support new writers, and I am so excited that I get the chance to help bring their stories to life.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform and why?
Isn’t this a classic? I mean the story is….

What is your most memorable onstage mishap?
I played Little Red in Into the Woods as a teenager. This was community theatre….damn good community theatre, but I was still in charge of my own wig. Obviously I hadn’t mastered the art of pin curls because one night, as the Baker ripped my cape from my shoulders, the hook caught a curl and sent my ringlets halfway into the audience. I had to continue through my big number in just a wig cap. On that night, mine was the scream heard round the world.

What was your most enjoyable theatrical experience of the season (as a member of the audience)?
I would say that Fun Home and Curious Incident blew me away, as they have for everyone lucky enough to witness the beauty onstage. But seeing two of my closest friends, Kate Reinders and Aleks Pevec, shine like stars in Something Rotten! made my theatrical year complete. I laughed my ass off and cried happy tears!

If you could play any role in a currently running Broadway musical, what would it be and why?
Fantine. Dream show. Always has been, always will be.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
As soon as we close this show, I’m headed to Nantucket for some concert work with the Theatre Workshop Of Nantucket. I’ve never been, and I’m looking forward to a little mini break on the island. After that, who knows…I always seem to keep myself busy, and my eyes are always open to whatever comes my way.

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Liz McCartney
Liz McCartney

Liz McCartney
Tonya & Nancy: A Rock Opera
July 9, 11, 12, 14 and 16 at PTC Performance Space

How did you get involved with this production?
I was asked by my agent if I wanted to read the script. I read about ten pages in and said, "Hell, yes!"

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
I was in the three-person show Nighttime Traffic in 2010.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
I play "mom," the best and the worst, that's really all I want to say about her.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
Because there's always a story that you don't know, behind the story that you think you do know. And, it's funny.

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
When I first started out in New York, there were workshops and backers auditions and a flourishing Off-Broadway business. Now it costs almost as much to produce Off-Broadway as on, and workshops seem like a luxury to a production that already has its investors. NYMF and other festivals like it are ways to hear new works and find their producers.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform and why?
I have played quite a few roles on my bucket list, but I've always wanted to play Mama Rose from Gypsy, Margaret from The Light In The Piazza and Mame, Vera and Gooch from Mame.

What is your most memorable onstage mishap?
Well, there is a Broadway website called "I Fell On On Broadway" where I have a delightful story of falling in South Pacific. But my most memorable mishap was going on without my costume in Cabaret. I was playing Fraulein Kost, and I was supposed to open my robe and have a black negligee underneath; instead I had just underwear and a big mike belt around my waist down my leg and around my thigh. One co-star was laughing, the other was completely unchanged — it wasn't until a sailor boy ran in that I realized what I did.

What was your most enjoyable theatrical experience of the season (as a member of the audience)?
Something Rotten! I've seen it three times.

If you could play any role in a currently running Broadway musical, what would it be and why?
Miss Trunchbull. Matilda opened around the same time as Annie, and I thought "finally! A more evil Miss Hannigan! ...wait it's a GUY?!" I think I could still do it.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
I have two musical projects I'm currently writing, and a TV sitcom that I wrote. The sitcom is called "My Baby Boy," starring myself and Sam Buttery (Taboo-London) and directed by Aaron David Gleason. I think you'll see it soon!

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Tracy McDowell
Tracy McDowell

Tracy McDowell
Tonya Harding in Tonya & Nancy: A Rock Opera
July 9, 11, 12, 14 and 16 at PTC Performance Space

How did you get involved with this production?
I am a die-hard Tonya Harding fan, so I pushed really hard to get this role.

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
I have actually never done one. So sad! Hopefully I’ll be back next year. It has been a blast.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
Tough as nails. She is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who happened to have an incredible talent. Unfortunately she gets involved with the wrong people, and the rest is history.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
Because it's a blast!!!! And the talent is unreal.

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
I am all for new works, and NYMF gives new shows a chance to get in front of an audience.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform and why?
Hmmmmm, Sheila in Hair or Peter Pan. . . There are too many!!!

What is your most memorable onstage mishap?
Tripping while singing and having to finish on all fours. HA!

What was your most enjoyable theatrical experience of the season (as a member of the audience)?
Matilda!!!!

If you could play any role in a currently running Broadway musical, what would it be and why?
Hmmmmm that’s too hard. Maybe Matilda. (if I was eight). Or any of the female leads in Hamilton.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
I am working on my second solo! Should be a good old crazy time!

Lindsey Brett Carothers
Lindsey Brett Carothers

Lindsey Brett Carothers
Claudio Quest
July 7, 10, 12, 13 and 14 at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Theatre

How did you get involved with this production?
I met Drew Fornarola two years ago when I was performing in a concert of his songs. One of the songs I sing in Claudio Quest was in the concert, but I actually performed a number from another one of his shows. When I saw that Claudio was coming to NYMF, I reached out to Drew because I love his work, and this project sounded amazing. Then, I got an audition, and luckily everyone laughed at my jokes and now I’m Princess Fish!

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
A concert of student material called Mint’d Inheritance in 2013.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
“A butt-kicking princess” pretty much says it all. Fish wants to be a hero more than anything, and escapes from the castle to go on the Claudio Quest with the bros Claudio and Luis. She is anything but a typical princess like her sister Poinsettia, who is constantly getting captured and doing boring princess-y things. Fish is a fearless, unpredictable ball of energy, and she has the moves to run with the big guys (and teach them a thing or two. A-hem, girl-power!). I feel so lucky that Fish exists—I truly get to be myself, and I’m having the time of my life! This is also the second production I’ve been a part of where I sport some sort of facial hair… so I think I’ve found my actor brand.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
Anyone who has ever played a video game will love this production. Also, anyone who hasn’t played a video game will love this production. Which means everyone will love this production. The cast is incredible, the book and references are hilarious, the songs will be stuck in your head, and John Tartaglia’s puppet expertise works perfectly in the context of a video game world. There is no other show like this. It’s a perfect combination of humanity and humor. We have become such a family over the course of a few weeks, and I think our love for the material will be super obvious—we can’t wait to share it!

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
NYMF is an amazing opportunity to showcase and workshop new material. I truly feel the magic of collaboration at rehearsal everyday, and that’s why I started doing theatre in the first place: to create something with other passionate people and share it with even more passionate people!

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform and why?
Bernadette Peters’ career.

What is your most memorable onstage mishap?
December 13th. My Broadway debut in Bring It On the Musical. Act Two. Truman High’s championship winning cheer routine “Legendary.” About halfway through the song, I went downstage to make a cross while screaming, “TRUMAN’S WHAT?” in my most boastful, snooty, cheerleader fashion when all of a sudden I felt someone come down out of a stunt on top of me, and I went down hard. The crowd literally gasped. It was like a real cheerleading competition instead of a fake, hypothetical, musical theatre version of a cheerleading competition. Then, as I was crawling to the side of the stage on all fours, another cheerleader tumbled on top of me while performing a gymnastics pass. So, I got double-trampled in the cheer routine that was supposed to win nationals. I was feeling a combination of shock and horror, and just popped up as fast as I could and kept going with what must have been the most insane forced smile on my face. All I could think was “IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING” and “MOM, I’M FINE.” When the number was over, the stage manager rushed over to me and made sure I was okay, followed by one of the cheerleader swings who said, “Wow girl, you got trampled — that was like a real cheer routine!” It hurt, but whatever, I was on Broadway, so I got over it!

What was your most enjoyable theatrical experience of the season (as a member of the audience)?
I saw Hamilton at the Public in January, and cried the whole way through because I knew I was seeing something historic (in more ways than one), and I was so happy for the creative team that gave me my first break in this crazy industry. Also, I was blown away by The Lion and sat two seats behind Stephen Sondheim, so I saw his every reaction. I basically watched it through the eyes of Sondheim! How epic is that!?

If you could play any role in a currently running Broadway musical, what would it be and why?
Portia in Something Rotten! I love to make people laugh, and she’s another character who goes against what she’s been taught and follows her heart. I can tell that the company is having a blast every single night and would also love to work with Casey Nicholaw. He’s brilliant!

Do you have any other projects in the works?
I just finished shooting a web series currently on Glamour.com called "It’s Not Ok, Cupid." One of our videos has over 115K views on Youtube! I’m also currently taking improv classes at UCB, and will be working on my acting chops at the William Esper Studio in the fall. I am also a work in progress, so I’ve started exercising regularly and ordered a starter kit of essential oils. So we’ll see how that goes.

Amy Whitcomb
Amy Whitcomb

Amy Whitcomb
Deep Love
July 17, 18, 19, 22 and 24 at The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre

How did you get involved with this production?
I met Jon Peter Lewis and Ryan Hayes when we were all contestants on Season 4 of NBC's "The Voice." They had been building up and producing Deep Love the past four or five years, and once they met me and then heard me sing...they began the recruitment process — haha! They started subtly bringing up the "Rock Opera" they produce and sneaking it into every conversation. I eventually agreed to be a part of it...and had no idea what I was getting myself in to. But I can honestly say that this show has been the absolute best thing to ever happen to me professionally. It got me through an incredibly dark time in my life and continues to set my soul on fire every time I get to rehearse or perform the music with our crew.

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
This will be my first time with the festival! And I am so ready to soak it all in!

How would you describe the character you're playing?
Florence is a bit of a co-villain in the show...but she's arguably the most rational of the characters. Florence is the girl that is shamelessly provocative, jealous and petty, yet constantly masking insecurities with her vanity and rage. No one wants to admit it, but we all can totally relate to her and her story. I've never felt more sexy and fierce in a role!!

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
The music will ignite your soul!! We're talking a huge rock concert that also tells the heart-wrenching and all-too-familiar tale of love and loss. There is something in it for everyone. You've never experienced anything like Deep Love before. And the passion of our crew is unmatched by any other production I've ever seen or been a part of.

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
NYMF is about making dreams come true. Those who possess the rare gift to create and write for the stage have nothing without the outlets for production and exposure the NYMF offers. I am so proud of our writers and producers for believing in this show, growing it and building such a strong team around Deep Love. We can't even believe what an opportunity we have here! And we are forever grateful for the constant support and energy the NYMF has given to the production and progress of new musicals!!

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform and why?
This is tough...but it would have to be "Dolly" from Hello, Dolly!

What is your most memorable onstage mishap?
Oh dear. There are so many. And I try to forget them — haha! Most you can recover from. But wardrobe malfunctions are a different story. One time while playing "Snow White" in a Panto-style production of the show, my skirt came undone in the back...and I was completely unaware of the fact. So there I was, flashing the audience in a scene where dancers were acting as the ghosts of the forest - pulling me and haunting me...but this particular time they were really physical and kind of violent. I was so pumped because they were getting so into it so I followed suit, getting equally as aggressive back fighting them off. Come to find out after the scene...that they had been trying to get a hold of me so they could hook my skirt back together...uhhh woops. Hopefully with the darker, ghostly lighting the audience didn't see too much.

What was your most enjoyable theatrical experience of the season (as a member of the audience)?
This is random. And perhaps surprising...but I recently saw a small production of Peter Pan in a tiny arena theatre back in Utah County. And it was amazing. I've seen the full stage production before...and I couldn't believe how they adapted the show to fit the space and yet lose no enchantment whatsoever. If anything, it was more enchanting.

If you could play any role in a currently running Broadway musical, what would it be and why?
I know it's cliche...but Elphaba is the Queen. And her role is magical. In more ways than one. :) So I would say Elphie...or Roxie Hart from Chicago. "Funny Honey" is one of my favorite showtunes ever.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
I co-host a music and entertainment TV show back in Utah, have just recently released my first solo pop/rock EP, work as a vocal coach, and do a lot of various freelance recording and live performance projects. As far as theatre goes, Deep Love is my one and only right now!

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Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.

Diva Talk runs every other week on Playbill.com. Senior editor Andrew Gans also pens the columns Their Favorite Things and Best in Show.

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