STAGE VIEWS: Helen Hayes Award Winner Natascia Diaz

News   STAGE VIEWS: Helen Hayes Award Winner Natascia Diaz Playbill.com's new series features brief chats with Broadway actors commenting on their recent theatregoing experiences, what productions they are looking forward to and more. Here, via e-mail, we speak with singing actress Natascia Diaz.

Natascia Diaz
Natascia Diaz

What show recently impressed you?
Though I have not been able to see all of the productions I have wanted to lately, I will have to say there are two. The first is By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, a hilarious play which I was fortunate to be a part of this year. [Diaz was the understudy for the roles played by both Stephanie J. Block and Karen Olivo.] Having been privy to an earlier phase of its construction was an intrinsic part of why I was impressed with it; it was fascinating for me to join it in its completed state. Along with Laura Benanti and Anika Noni Rose, we read and discussed the play with Lynn Nottage a year prior. When a piece is discovering its tone and style, and we as the actors are trying to understand and realize the author's intent, it is at a very vulnerable phase. As we all know, so much work falls prey to questionable decisions and, like any birth, you want to do it right. I was fascinated and impressed at the outcome of this unabashedly raucous — yet sensitive, thoughtful and pointed — comment on the plight of the black actress in Hollywood in the '30s.

The second is The Boy Detective at Signature Theatre. The deliciously Dali-esque look at the arrested psyche of its lead character, in the genius hands of Joe Calarco, was one of the most pure, fantastical, and yet utterly human musical experiences I've had in a musical in a while. I can only pray that pieces like this continue to be ushered into the world. They are the future. 

What production are you most excited to see?
That would have to be War Horse at Lincoln Center. I am hoping to catch it in the next month. Clearly, it is one of the most salient works presented in the last few years. You can feel the power of its effect on people who have seen it, and I definitely would like to soak in some of that. 

What play/musical would you most like to be revived on Broadway, and which role would you want to play?
Insert literary sigh here: My three top wishes have all been done — West Side, Bye Bye Birdie and Cabaret. What remains is Chicago. Rosie, Sally, Velma, Roxie....these are all roles which would be delicious for me to take on. But there are so many new pieces being born; I believe there to be a perfect fit of a part out there that wants and needs my care. This includes TV series.

What are your current/upcoming projects?
I will be playing the role of Sophie in the world premiere of the musical Brother Russia directed by Eric Shaeffer, written by Dana P. Rowe (music) and John Dempsey (book and lyrics) at The Signature Theatre. She is the romantic lead in the show, and her story (without giving away the details) reflects the journey of The Grand Duchess Anastasia...but not in the way you would think. New music, new work, new ground. Thrilled.  ***

Natascia Diaz has been seen on Broadway in Man of La Mancha, where she understudied and performed the role of Aldonza opposite Brian Stokes Mitchell; Seussical; The Capeman; and Carousel. Her Off-Broadway credits include The Best Is Yet to Come; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark; Jacques Brel; and tick, tick…BOOM! (2006 LA Ovation Award nomination). Diaz took home the 2009 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Musical for her performance in MetroStage's world premiere of Rooms, a rock romance. Her other theatrical credits include Elektra in Agamemnon and His Daughters (Arena Stage), Anita in West Side Story (Kevin Kline Award in St. Louis, Joseph Jefferson Award in Chicago), Aurora/Spider Woman in Kiss of the Spider Woman (Signature Theatre) and Petra in A Little Night Music (Kennedy Center). Diaz can also be seen in the documentary "Every Little Step."

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