PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Cyndi Lauper

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Cyndi Lauper
 
One of the great divas of '80s American pop makes her Broadway debut in the eclectic ensemble of The Threepenny Opera.
Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper

Cyndi Lauper will forever be known to a certain generation as the wildly-clad (and equally-spirited) singer-songwriter whose debut album, "She's So Unusual," provided the top singles "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," "All Through The Night," "She Bop" and "Time After Time."

Now a mother, the still wild-at-heart Lauper jumped at the chance to tackle Broadway in the new Scott Elliott staging of the Kurt Weill-Bertolt Brecht musical. The songstress spoke to Playbill.com about her journey from Broadway fan to Broadway star.

Playbill.com: Was Broadway something you've always wanted to do?
Cyndi Lauper: Yes, I just never could find the right music and the right project and this was the right project, so I was excited to do it.

Playbill.com: I understand you were also considered to play Mrs. Lovett in the current revival of Sweeney Todd.
CL: That music was interesting and I thought it would be fun! I was looking forward to maybe, when I did promotion, going on "Good Morning, America" and demonstrating how to make a vegetarian meatpie. Didn't work out.

Playbill.com: Broadway seems like a natural transition for you, being a singer and having done some acting.
CL: Theatre is different. I didn't know what to expect, you know, you're always waiting for the guy to go "Action!" He does say "Places!" I've found it an extraordinary experience, so I'm happy that I did it. The cast is wonderful and the direction is wonderful because you look at who he cast and [you know] he really thought about it because everyone is perfect for what they're doing. And there's a humanity to it and, in that respect, I think it's an extraordinary thing. Playbill.com: Were you drawn to the character of Jenny?
CL: She's a survivor. She's a madam, a whore, but she's a business woman. I think she became, out of circumstance, what she became and now she'll make the best of it. I think that's what makes it an interesting role for me. I've seen women who find themselves in a circumstance who rise to the occasion because they have to.

Playbill.com: How do you explain your role to your son?
CL: I don't. He's 8!

Playbill.com: So he won't be coming to see mommy on Broadway...
CL: No. Never.

Playbill.com: Your co-star (and fellow pop artist) Nellie McKay had previously opened for you in concert, are you the shepherd and she your lamb?
CL: Aww, my little lamb. I'm very proud of her. I watch her [during rehearsals], I'm not in a scene with her, but she sings beautifully. The way the music is, it's the Kurt Weill original arrangements, so it's really wonderful.

Playbill.com: Tell me about your songs in the show.
CL: They are everything that I wanted to sing. The "Solomon Song" I moved the key a little — to the magical key, the one that had a ring in my voice. I look for that: in the right key, in the right tempo. Because it's just me and the harmonium, so when me and the harmonium guy start to breathe together, otherworldly things can happen. That's what I'm looking forward to. I also get to do a duet with Alan [Cumming — who plays Macheath], which is interesting. And I get to sing "Mack the Knife."

Playbill.com: How are rehearsals going?
CL: There was one point in rehearsal where I actually got a tear in my eye because I remembered when I was five, always listening to my mom's Broadway cast albums — South Pacific, King and I, Sound of Music — and I did all of them. I played the different characters, sometimes I was the man, you know, I was Ezio Pinza! Or I was Mary Martin. Of course, Funny Girl and The King and I got wrecked because I listened to it so many times. I did Streisand better than her at that time! [Laughs.] If I ever met her, I think I might launch into "People" or no, I like "Don't Rain on my Parade!"

Playbill.com: You've obviously played to crowds before, are you nervous to take the stage in this new way?
CL: [Nodding no.] Studio 54?! I performed on that stage. [But] it ain't gonna be like Grace Jones coming down in the cat outfit from the cage!

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