Q&A with Lea Michele, Featured in Paperback Edition of "Theater Geek"

PlayBlog   Q&A with Lea Michele, Featured in Paperback Edition of "Theater Geek"
 
"Theater Geek," Mickey Rapkin's inside look at the popular theatre camp Stagedoor Manor, will be released in paperback Feb. 15. The paperback edition will feature 10 Q&A interviews with stage and screen stars who went to Stagedoor when they were younger. Below is a Q&A with Lea Michele, the star of "Glee" and Broadway's Spring Awakening who attended Stagedoor Manor for three summers – and never landed a lead role in her time at the camp.


The paperback edition of "Theater Geek" will be available from Free Press. Read what Michele had to say in the book about her time in the Catskills below:

Name: Lea Michele
How you know her: In 2006, she created the role of Wendla in Spring Awakening Off-Broadway, and then opened the show on Broadway; later scored a best actress Golden Globe nomination for her work as the overachiever Rachel in Fox’s "Glee."
Summers at Stagedoor: 2000-2002
Memorable roles: “Pinball Wizard” soloist in The Who’s Tommy

You’d been in Les Miserables on Broadway as a kid, playing young Cosette. But then you came to Stagedoor in 2000—and you didn’t get a lead! Were you upset?
I’d also done Ragtime on Broadway. I went to school in New Jersey but was living in Manhattan. I was basically in Broadway shows from when I was eight years old on.

And yet!
I didn’t expect them to automatically give me a lead role. I wasn’t like, “I’ve been on Broadway! Give me the lead!” I didn’t really care. I didn’t want the pressure of being a lead. I appreciated the normalcy of being in the camp.

Normalcy? I don’t think I’d use that word for Stagedoor. What did you audition with?
I sang “On My Own.”

Cliché alert!
It’s so funny. I thought I did a great job. Then, on the third day, we were sitting in the lobby. When they were going to announce the shows, Konnie [the head of the camp’s casting committee] came out on stage and said, “Raise your hand if you auditioned with ‘All That Jazz’ or ‘On My Own.’” I threw up my hand. And she said, “You should never audition with one of those songs. Those are the typical Broadway songs.” I felt so ashamed.

Why go to theater camp if you were already working? What did you take away from the experience?
I was uncomfortable with my singing. I was in the Our Time Cabaret—

The camp’s all-star touring troupe?
Yes. And everybody was so talented. I looked up to the older kids. Going to the hotels to perform? We felt so cool!

Did you have a solo in the Cabaret?
My second year, they needed someone to sing the solo to “Tomorrow.”

From Annie?
Yes. I remember being in the back of the room and I just raised my hand. I said, “I can do it.” I was a legit soprano. I’d auditioned for Annie in New York and never got it. They told me, “Your voice is too sweet.” I don’t know what it was about that moment. But I sang “Tomorrow” in front of the entire Cabaret and I discovered I could belt. I had a chest voice! My voice changed in that one minute, and I never went back. That was my turning point. It’s still one of my proudest moments. It’s really good. I have it on video.

You were born to be on "Glee." What was your first show at Stagedoor?
I was in a revue, Side by Side by Sondheim. Then I was in Tommy. I sang the “Pinball Wizard” solo. I remember looking up to the older kids. Julie Kleiner—she was Mrs. Walker in Tommy. She was totally confident with her talent. She was everything I wanted to be.

You really weren’t upset to not have been a lead at camp?
My third summer I was supposed to be in Sweet Charity at Stagedoor. I was supposed to be one of Charity’s friends. Then I booked a job in New York. It was the workshop for Spring Awakening. The camp said, “You have to come back!” I was like, “No, I have to do a real job.”

That was the only reason? Because it was a real job?
A job where I made money.

And?
And I got to play the lead.

Speaking of Spring Awakening, your co-star in that show was Skylar Astin. He’s another Stagedoor alum. Had you been at camp together?
No, we just missed each other. I was at Stagedoor with Sebastian Stan.

From "Gossip Girl."
He was the cutest boy ever. He wouldn’t remember me. I was a lot younger. He wouldn’t have looked at me.

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