DIVA TALK: Chats With NYMF's Catherine Cox, Michelle Federer, Anika Larsen, J. Elaine Marcos, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Melissa van der Schyff

By Andrew Gans
06 Jul 2012

Anika Larsen

Anika Larsen
Baby Case at the Pershing Square Signature Center
July 16-22

How did you get involved with this production?
Anika Larsen: Our director, Jeremy Dobrish, asked me to do a reading of it a few months ago, and I was captivated by it.

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
AL: I did a show several years ago called How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes.



How would you describe the character you're playing?
AL: I'm playing two women who really lived, which is a first for me and a thrilling challenge. I play Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of Charles and mother of the kidnapped baby, and Anna Hauptmann, wife of the man executed for the crime. The women are, in a sense, different faces of grief, both dealt the devastating blow of the loss of one they hold most dear. But Anne Lindbergh was a wealthy ambassador's daughter, famous and beloved, and Anna Hauptmann was a poor German immigrant, obscure and dismissed.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
AL: First of all, the Lindbergh kidnapping is an utterly fascinating event in American history. When I first read the script, I couldn't believe everything in it really happened. It is gripping and deeply moving and horrifying. Not just the events themselves, but the role of the American public and the media in exploiting and commercializing and obsessing about it. That's something we think of as a particularly modern phenomenon, but the circus surrounding public tragedies and court cases today is much the same as it was in the 1930's.

But people should come see Baby Case because beyond the appeal of the story itself, it is so elegantly and deftly told by the show's writer, Michael Ogborn. I continue to be awed by the way he has managed to distill this epic, multifaceted, many-charactered story down to its essence. And he does it through gorgeous music that takes my breath away.

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
AL: It seems so dishearteningly difficult, expensive and risky to get new musicals made. NYMF is one of the few ways that new shows can get a chance to prove themselves in New York City, the mecca of musical theatre, and get a real shot at a future life.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform?
AL: I've spent the bulk of my career pop/rock belting, and it's only in the past year that I've been getting to play more legit roles (thank you, Baby Case!). I would dearly love to do anything Rodgers and Hammerstein. Maria in The Sound of Music would make me dizzy with delight.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
AL: Recently, I played a nun with a gambling addiction and a heart of gold in Seth Rudetsky's Disaster! There are murmurs that it's going to come back this summer, and I hope it's true because that show is funny in all the right ways and all the wrong ones!

Read more about Anika Larsen in the Playbill Vault.

J. Elaine Marcos

J. Elaine Marcos
Flambé Dreams at the 45th Street Theatre (Mainstage)
July 9-17

How did you get involved with this production?
J. Elaine Marcos: I got involved with this production after West Hyler had contacted me and asked me if I was available and interested. We had met many years earlier in San Diego at the Old Globe Theater when I was doing Lucky Duck. After listening to some songs and reading the script, I knew I would love to play the parts.

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
JEM: A few years back I was in a song cycle written by Tim Huang.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
JEM: Desiree is a prostitute. A lovely... prostitute. A great friend with good advice but nevertheless a prostitute. And DiDi is a woman who is desperately looking to date a man of her dreams. And by that she means a maître d'. That's her main requirement. Everything else is optional.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
JEM: I think audiences should attend Flambé Dreams because it's a fun show with heart and hilarious songs and scenes.

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
JEM: I think NYMF is really important because there is a journey in which a show needs to go through to eventually becomes a full Broadway musical, and being part of this prestigious festival helps to put potential shows on the map. I'm always impressed by those shows that go from this festival and onto the next stage. It's inspiring and exciting.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform?
JEM: If I had my wish, I would love to play Lucy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
JEM: In the fall I will be part of the Broadway revival of Annie playing the role of Lily St. Regis.

Read more about J. Elaine Marcos in the Playbill Vault.

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