DIVA TALK: A Chat With Now and Forever's Linda Balgord, Star of Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard

By Andrew Gans
18 Jan 2013

Linda Balgord in rehearsal for Now and Forever.

Question: What's it like for you revisiting "With One Look" and "Anything But Lonely"—songs that you've done before, but without the other show around it?
Balgord: I think that when you've sung a song for so long—you do a run for two years, a year, nine months, whatever—it really gets in you, in your body. And, there's just like an instant connection. Vocally, some of it is different. I mean, Aspects is 20 years ago… [Laughs.] It's interesting when your voice is not exactly how it was. But they're like great loves or dear old friends. I don't know how to say it, but those songs are, I feel like they're really a part of me.

Question: Is there any Andrew Lloyd Webber role that you'd like to play that you haven't or even a song that you've heard in this that you'd like to add to your repertoire at some point?
Balgord: Well, I do wish that they'd do the ageless Evita. I was reading about Marti Webb—because she recorded "Take That Look of Your Face," and I think she actually did Eva at 50 on a tour in England. [Laughs.]

Question: You also stood by for Patti in Gypsy. Did you ever get to go in that?
Balgord: [Laughs.] I did, actually. I did two shows one Saturday. It was like right before Thanksgiving. I went on those two times, and I think I was there seven months.

Question: What was that like, getting to do that part, because that's another mammoth role?
Balgord: Well, the great thing was that I started in June, and I didn't go on until November. [Laughs.] I had had a lot of understudy rehearsal by then, but I had never done it with Boyd [Gaines] and Laura [Benanti]. I had had a rehearsal with Arthur [Laurents], which was also wonderful… And, I knew that Patti wasn't feeling great, so I was prepared. The matinee—the first show I went on—was actually pretty great because I was there. It was not an out-of-body experience, which can happen in a situation like that. I was present, and that was great. Now, the audience could get their money back, obviously, because it's Patti, and her name's above the title, and they knew before they came in, but the Saturday night show, I just felt the arms crossed over the chests of the people in the audience. [Laughs.] I could feel that, and I didn't feel that in the afternoon. It could have been there, and my attention was just somewhere else. But the energy was different. Everyone was so generous, and I just had such a blast. It was an amazing experience. And, you know how fabulous that orchestra was on stage, and it was an unbelievable experience. It was great.

Question: Would you like to do that role again somewhere?
Balgord: Yeah, I think I would like to do Mama Rose. It's a beast, like some of these other roles we've spoken of, so I think it's daunting to take it on, but yes, I would like to do it. That and Mrs. Lovett… Mrs. Lovett is one I'm so dying [to do]! I would really like to have a crack at that now.

Question: You've been in so many different productions. I'm wondering, when you look back, do you have one or two theatrical experiences that really stand out for you as favorites?
Balgord: You know, it's so hard because they all had their specialness, and the three or four biggies were just… There's been nothing like them. I don't know that we'll ever see anything quite like Sunset Boulevard again. It's just not happening anymore, so to know that you did something that you don't know if it will ever happen again… That certainly stands out as something that was totally unpredictable. [Laughs.] It really was unpredictable. I'm just so grateful that I've gotten to play these great women. So grateful.

[For more information, visit MarriottTheatre.com.]

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