By Andrew Gans
25 May 2012
It's been an exciting season for Rachel Potter, the young singing actress who is currently appearing in the Tony Award-nominated Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Evita. The production at the Marquis Theatre marks the first time Potter, who made her Main Stem debut in The Addams Family, has gotten a chance to originate a role on Broadway. The actress plays Peron's ousted Mistress, and her rendition of "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" is one of the vocal highlights of the musical, which also features the talents of Grammy winner Ricky Martin as Che, Olivier Award winner Elena Roger in her Broadway debut as Eva Perón, Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris as Juan Perón and Max von Essen as Magaldi. Potter, who also played Glinda in the national tour of Wicked, has just released her debut country EP, "Live the Dream," a collaboration with songwriter and producer Justin York. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting with the upbeat artist, who spoke about her brief foray into Christian music, her long road to Broadway, her work opposite two different Evas (Christina DeCicco plays the role of Eva Wednesday evenings and Saturday matinees) and more; that interview follows.
Question: Since we haven't spoken before, let's go back to the start. Tell me where you were born and raised.
Rachel Potter: I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and when I was very small, we moved to a little town called Seminole, Florida, which is right between Tampa and St. Petersburg — very close to Clearwater Beach in Florida on the Gulf Coast.
Question: When did you start performing?
Potter: Well, my first solo was when I was three years old on the steps of my Baptist church. [Laughs.] And, my best friend and I — he stood next to me — were in choir robes, and his mom held the microphone for us. [Laughs.] So I guess I've always been performing. My parents were rock 'n' rollers. They met in a rock 'n' roll band. My mom [Tanya Shaw] became a Christian music artist when I was very small, and she started touring. She toured with the Southern Baptist Convention, and I used to sell tapes at her tape table at churches. [Laughs.] I've always been a singer for as long as I can remember. It was a little later that I was bitten by the musical-theatre bug.
|photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Potter: Actually, not until I was almost grown I guess. In high school it just never was on my radar. My mom had actually majored in musical theatre, but she hadn't had the best experiences, so I don't think it was really something she wanted to push me to do. I sang in my church, and then at 15 or 16, I decided I wanted to be a Christian-music artist. I was writing songs, and this local record company in Florida kind of discovered me through church. And, when I was 16, I put out a record of my original Christian stuff… It's on iTunes, but I don't really advise you to buy it. [Laughs.] I was 16. Enough said. [Laughs.] So then, when I was in college, I went over to Orlando to go to college, and somebody [said], "You should go audition for Disney World," and I was thinking, "That'd be a much better job than working at the Gap, which I'm doing right now." [Laughs.] So I auditioned, and it's so funny to look back because I was so incredibly green. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I took a Christian song in as my song. My headshot was a picture of me holding a microphone — just not a headshot. And, my resume was like: "Jobs Worked: The Gap. Job Duties: Folding clothes. Cashier work." My special skills included my type speed. [Laughs.] I had absolutely zero idea what I was doing, and looking back, I'm sure those casting directors laughed so hard the moment I stepped out of the room. But they were really kind, and they still called me back for The Little Mermaid, and that ended up being my first job.
And, it was funny because when they hired me, they offered me my Equity card. And, I had no idea what that was. So I took it because the Equity rep explained to me that it was a great thing, so I was like, "Okay. I'll take it." [Laughs.] Then later on I realized how incredibly blessed I was that somebody just kind of handed me an Equity card. Other people work for years to get that, so it's kind of crazy that that worked out. Then I went on to do Belle in Beauty and the Beast there and Nemo in Finding Nemo the Musical, and I did the High School Musical shows there. I got a huge taste of what musical theatre was like, and I kind of essentially consider that to be a lot of what my musical-theatre training was. It was like musical-theatre boot camp working at Disney. It was on-the-job training.Continued...