DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Closer Than Ever, Wicked and Wild Party Star Julia Murney

By Andrew Gans
03 Aug 2012

Murney and Brian d'Arcy James in The Wild Party.

Question: That's got to be, in the moment before you figure out what you're going to do, sort of scary—to open your mouth and not have the…
Murney: Not only is it scary and awful, it's also now, in this day and age, in my brain, probably step number three after [thinking], "Oh, shit! Oh, what am I going to do?" Then step two is "Calm down and tell the story." Step three is "Someone is taping this." This is going to be in the hands of strangers as soon as this is over. And, that part is really hard. And, that's the part about the bootlegging that's really upsetting. I think it's a generational thing to a certain degree. It's a totally prevalent thing. The younger generation, they just see it as their right. They know it's "illegal," but they don't care. And, I get it, and I understand it, and I understand they want to preserve it and all that sort of stuff, but the part that gets really distressing is that they don't care if, when they tape you, you're busted or having a bad night or whatever it is—they'll put it up anyway. They don't go, "Oh, she doesn't sound so great. Let me just destroy that or keep that private." And, that's the part that's so hard. I try to not go in to [the] comments [section] because the bad ones will stay in your head forever.

Question: I think performers should definitely stay off the chat boards.
Murney: Oh! Those are the worst. I call them "The Devil's Tool." Stay away from them. But I do go onto YouTube every once in awhile just to see what's there because I like to know… There is a video from one night of me doing Evita where, for reasons I will never be able to explain to you, I go so flat at the end of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina." [Laughs.] It was so shocking because when I saw it, I went, "Oh my word. Did I do that every night?" I called one of the cast members, and I was like, "Did I do that?" He said, "I don't know what you're talking about," but it's there. For me, I want to know that it's there. Does that make any sense? I remember years ago—I don't know if you remember this—before YouTube, there was an audio clip of Colm Wilkinson singing "24601"… He's in performance, and he goes, "Who am I? 24601." And instead of the "1," he goes, "Wahh!" And, he can't get it out, and he keeps trying, and it's so devastating, and you hear this banging, and it's the judge's gavel that you usually never hear because he's not hitting that note. And, that recording got sent to me by somebody. I don't know Colm Wilkinson. There's no reason for it to be sent to me other than, "Oh my gosh, listen to this." And, I think of "24601" all the time, and I think "I know I have 24601s out there." I would rather know about them and beat people to the punch. I was walking on Columbus one day, and these two young guys walked by me, and they were like, "Hi, we're fans." I was like, "Oh, that's nice." And, they were like, "We were just listening to you sing Evita." And, I was like, "Is that the one where I go completely flat at the end of 'Don't Cry for Me, Argentina'?... Don't worry. I know about it." I don't want to feel them behind my back, "You know the part where she goes flat." I'd rather just know!

Murney in Evita.
photo by Charr Crail

Question: And, you know today everything gets recorded because the devices are so small. There's no way to stop it anymore.
Murney: We're supposed to have some sort of control over our image, but frankly, we don't… And, it's also complicated because the truth of it is, without YouTube, I would never have Petra in Croatia writing me a letter. And, there is a Petra in Croatia, who I've actually met, who became a fan—but she became a fan off of a bootleg. And, that's lovely—what a lovely thing. I never thought someone from Croatia would know anything about me—how nice. [Laughs.] I'll get letters that say, "I've never seen you in person, but I loved blah, blah…" It's all taped.

Question: There are pros and cons of it.
Murney: To bring back the Olympics, it's a balancing of negotiation and figuring that out. And, you just have to let go of it and just do your job. All I can say is I beg of people, if you're going to do it and know it's illegal, please be smart and cover the light because I can see the light. It's dark where we're looking, and you can see the red light or yellow light or whatever it is. Please put tape over it. Just don't distract me in the moment! [Laughs.]

[Tickets are priced at $67.50 and are available online at yorktheatre.org, by calling (212) 935-5820, or in person at the box office at the York Theatre at Saint Peter's (entrance on East 54th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue).]

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.