Stage and screen actress Linda Emond, who was previously Tony-nominated for her performances in Life x 3 and the recent revival of Death of a Salesman (opposite the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), picked up her third nomination this season, her first for her work in a musical, the 2014 revival of Cabaret. Emond, who plays German boarding-house owner Fräulein Schneider — and has been acclaimed for commanding the stage in the John Kander and Fred Ebb tunes "So What" and "What Would You Do?" — chatted about her Tony-nominated Cabaret co-star Danny Burstein, embodying Fräulein Schneider and her love for LGBTQ projects.
Tell me about finding out you were nominated.
Linda Emond: Yesterday was very exciting. My dresser, Kelly, called me and told me. [She] woke me up to say, "You've been nominated!" [Laughs.] She was really excited, and then the phone started ringing with emails and texts just flying in. It's very exciting. I was very disappointed Michelle [Williams] wasn't nominated, I have to say… She's one of my dearest friends, and it didn't really make sense to me, but sometimes these things don't. But I was very excited about Danny, and I'm so proud of the show. The show is awesome. People [are] screaming every night. They're just having a great, great time, so it's a great experience doing this show period.
I loved your portrayal of Fräulein Schneider. She starts out so strong, and we really see her vulnerable side in the second act. Where did you begin in creating her?
LE: You know, I really began with the music. I was a little stuck at first, so one day I told myself, "I'm just going to sing the songs — just try to sing them and feel the singing of them." And, to John Kander and Fred Ebb's great credit, some stuff just made sense — some of that strength in her was very clear from "So What" — the way she worked through life and made it through, but also her disappointments and how hard that's been. In "What Would You Do?" there's a sense, to me, of her great vulnerability — her struggle with these things, so that helped me a lot. That gave me bookends to work with.
Tell me about your relationship with Danny Burstein and sharing the stage nightly. You have wonderful chemistry on stage, and it really shines through.
LE: We just loved each other from the first minute. In fact, I sent him an email when he was cast and said — because I've met him a number of times, and I just loved his work — how excited I was that I would be able to get to fall in love with him eight shows a week, and he wrote me right back and was really delighted. From the first moment, we just have really adored each other. You get lucky sometimes, you know, and we got lucky. Playbill will alter its logo to celebrate LGBTQ Pride next month, so can you talk about being proud of oneself?
LE: I'm really proud, in fact, of a movie I just shot in the fall called "Jenny's Wedding," [with] Katherine Heigl. I play her mom, and Tom Wilkinson — the great Tom Wilkinson — is my husband, and it's a really great story, in fact, about a woman who comes out later in her life in her 30s. This person who we all thought was her friend all of these years was [her partner], and they ultimately get married. It has a great gay wedding at the end, which I'm really excited and happy [about]! And, a lot of work I have done in the past has been with [gay] themes. I'm also very proud to say that for a while I was known as the "'Law and Order' Lesbian" because I played a lot of lesbians on "Law and Order"! [Laughs.] I'm so excited about what has been happening in this country — the fact that reasonableness, sanity and compassion and love is winning out over fear and hate — and frankly that's a big part of the play that I do every night right now. Cabaret is about that, and I certainly wanted to make sure, in terms of playing Fräulein Schneider, that people understand that the choice she makes is a really big mistake. She makes a choice out of fear — [it] may be reasonable in some way — but that her life is lost because of it.
(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)