By Matthew Blank
05 Apr 2011
She has previously appeared in the Broadway productions of The Addams Family, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Nine.
Her many Off-Broadway and regional credits include Adrift in Macao; The Second Tosca; Camelot; The Sound of Music; Turn of the Century; As Bees in Honey Drown; The Secret Garden; The King and I; Chess; Kiss Me, Kate and Blithe Spirit.
|Full given name:||
Rachel Helene Kasper de Benedet.|
de Benedet is my ex-husband's name. We're still friends, so it's okay!
|Hometown:||North Newton, Kansas|
|Zodiac Sign:||Aries. Although with the new revised Zodiac, I guess I'm a Pisces? Is that right? Who knows.|
|What your parents do for a living:||
My father is the retired Head of Drama and my mother was Professor of Voice at Bethel College in Kansas. She was awarded a Fulbright to start an opera pedagogy program in Asuncion, Paraguay, and they love it so much that they moved there! |
My mom is still teaching voice full-time, and my dad still directs and designs musicals and operas for semi-professional companies and universities in Paraguay.
|Current audition song/monologue:||
Hmm... the last audition song I sang was a cut from The Last Smoker in America by Peter Melnick and Bill Russell, called "How Can I Quit Now?" |
The time before that I used Kurt Weill's "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" from One Touch of Venus. I do an arrangement from Teresa Stratas' album "Stratas Sings Weill."
|Special skills:||I can wiggle my nose. I watched a lot of "Bewitched" reruns after school.|
|Something you're REALLY bad at:||I am TERRIBLE at negotiating different TV and cable remotes. I've been living with mine screwed up for about 3 months now, and I recently screwed up someone else's.|
|First Broadway show you ever saw:||Honestly, Cats. But I would prefer to say my second, A Chorus Line.|
|If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be?||The original cast of Mame or Barbara Cook in She Loves Me.|
|Favorite showtunes of all time:||"How Glory Goes" and "I Get a Kick Out of You"|
|Some favorite musicals:||The Light in the Piazza and Nine|
|Broadway star of the past you would most have loved to perform with:||Raul Julia|
|The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:||The revival of Cabaret two weeks after it opened.|
|Music that makes you cry, any genre:||Almost anything by Adam Guettel. Seriously, I rarely listen to cast albums (especially ones I'm on) but The Light in the Piazza reduces me to a blubbering idiot every time.|
|Your personal vocal idols:||Victoria Clark, Barbara Cook, Carolee Carmello, Kerry Butler, Kelli O'Hara|
|MAC or PC?||MAC|
|Most played song on your iPod:||Roxy Music's "To Turn You On"|
Facebook. Yes, I admit it, I'm addicted. Face it, so are you.|
TheHungerSite.com. No, it's not a diet site, it's a charity.
|Favorite Kardashian:||Khloe, simply because she's married to Lamar Odom. I don't know much about any of them, except for their curvaceous-ness. And I think one of them has a website about shoes.|
|Last book you read:||
"A Gate at the Stairs" by Lorrie Moore. Great book, but it made me so mad that I was almost yelling, and then crying, on a plane. |
Before that, "Super Sad True Love Story" by Gary Shteyngart, which I LOVED, and "The Vagabond" by Colette, which is fascinating for an actress.
I just started "The Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood, which is promising so far.
|Last good movie you saw:||
"Belle de Jour" on DVD|
"The Fighter" in a theatre
|Some films you consider classics:||
"Singin' in The Rain"|
|Must-see TV shows:||
"The Daily Show"
I've recently been loving "Onion News Network," and I'm still in mourning for "Arrested Development" and "Gilmore Girls."
|Performers you would drop everything to go see:||Lyle Lovett, Tom Waits, Victoria Clark, Eddie Izzard (not together, although that would be seriously interesting!)|
|Pop culture guilty pleasure:||"America's Next Top Model"|
|Three favorite cities:||
Besides New York? |
Chicago in the summer and fall, Paris in May, Rome in September and October
- Whatever Dwight Howard plays (basketball)|
- Whoever Dwight Howard plays for (currently the Orlando Magic)
- Dwight Howard
|First CD/Tape/LP you owned:||
LP: Billy Joel's "52nd Street" |
Fun that that's the address of the Neil Simon Theatre where Catch Me If You Can is playing!
|When did you realize you could sing?||
I pretty much started singing when I started talking. I was raised Mennonite, and we all sing. I've never met a tone-deaf Mennonite.|
It's in our genes... along with being able to eat large amounts of sausage and verenike (a Russian-Mennonite boiled then fried dough pocket filled with ricotta-type cheese and topped with sausage or ham gravy) and survive to advanced age.
Those are our skills.
|First stage kiss:||Cinderella (a non-R&H version) for Newton Children's Theatre|
|Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager:||A 6th grade production of A Christmas Carol wherein I got to play Scrooge because none of the boys could act!|
|Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:||Sophomore year of college, sitting in the chemistry lab, making up a mid-term because I had opened a play the night before the real test date.|
|How you got your Equity card:||A regional tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. I actually got my card at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, the tour's second stop.|
|Favorite pre-/post- show meal:||
Pre-show: Schnippers for burgers and salads or Kodama for sushi|
Post-show: Casellula for great wine and cheese plates
|Favorite liquid refreshment:||Coffee... a junkie, if I'm honest.|
|Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:||I have a series of lips/teeth/tongue/voice warm-ups that I do before every performance. It's partly things I learned years ago in school in London, and partly stuff I've picked up thru the years.|
|Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:||
I played Lily in The Secret Garden at the Arvada Center in Denver. There is a gorgeous ballad near the end of the show called "How Could I Ever Know?" that Lily sings to her grieving widower. I was in a tight spotlight (it was just on my face) upstage left, and Archie was in a pool of light downstage right. |
The song was so delicate and floating and sad and my blocking was simply to walk slowly to Archie, in my tiny spotlight. One night I started singing and as I took my first step my right heel caught in my petticoat. I wiggled my foot around as I sang, but as hard as I tried, I couldn't get it free!
Soon I couldn't stall any longer and, as I took a step with my right foot, my head went completely out of the spotlight and disappeared!
Then on the left foot it would reappear, only to disappear again on the next step, all the way across the stage! Not only was it hard to support these soft notes because I was bobbing up and down like a fishing float, it was really hard not to laugh!
|Worst costume ever:||
I'm sure I've had a few horrors, but they're not coming to mind. If YOU have a picture of me in something truly terrible, send it to me!|
I have been amazingly lucky in that I often play characters who have the most gorgeous costumes in the show.
However I made my Broadway debut without a stitch of makeup on my face, in a nun's habit, in the revival of The Sound of Music. It wasn't until later that I took over the role of Elsa, aka the Baroness, for the national tour, and then I got the most glorious costumes! I do love a gown.
|Worst job you ever had:||
My first job when I got to NYC was cocktail waitress at the Charley O's at Madison Square Garden. Talk about an introduction to the city!|
It was really good money, but a lot of squeezing thru crowds of screaming, groping, drunken sports fans and trying to make sure they paid before they went back to the game.
|Who would play you in the movie?||In my dreams: Cate Blanchett or Kristin Scott Thomas|
|Favorite regional credits:||So many! Kate/Lilli in Kiss Me, Kate opposite my friend George Dvorsky for North Shore Music Theatre; Anna in The King and I opposite Lorenzo Lamas at Ogunquit Playhouse; Fiona in Brigadoon at Denver's former Country Dinner Playhouse; Nancy in Oliver! at TUTS; Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre; many things at Sacramento Music Circus.|
|Leading lady role you've been dying to play:||
I would love to play Diane, the Julie White role in The Little Dog Laughed. And Mrs. Lovett. |
Also, I'm waiting to be ready for Phyllis in Follies. I wish I could see Jan Maxwell in it this spring in DC. She's going to devour that role.
|Leading man role you wish you could play:||Sweeney Todd|
|Something about you that surprises people:||That I'm only a little over 5'8". People always think I'm like 5'10" or something. I'm not. Come measure me. I'll stand still.|
|Career you would want if not a performer:||
I was pre-law for my first two years of college, but I don't think law is the field for me. I think I would be a college professor, like my parents. |
I grew up in that atmosphere, and in some ways I think that's still my image of what adults do. I also like to write. I like words. I can read a dictionary for hours.
|Three things you can't live without:||#1 My best friends, #2 Sleep, #3 Coffee (especially when I'm short on #2)|
|"I'll never understand why…"||
... people want to spend so much energy being cruel to others. (Basically, I guess, the lyrics to "Easy to Be Hard.")|
I've seen it first hand this year, and it is baffling, heartbreaking and, frankly, scary.
|Words of wisdom for aspiring performers?||Being in a Broadway show is amazing and exciting and something to strive for, but it doesn't make you a different person. You're still you, you're just you in a Broadway show. And when your show closes, you're you not in a Broadway show. Still you.|