PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: The Mystery of Edwin Drood's Shannon Lewis

By Matthew Blank
12 Feb 2013

Some films you consider classics: "The Bandwagon," "The Natural," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "The Shawshank Redemption," "All That Jazz," "Waiting For Guffman."
Performer you would drop everything to go see: My husband Marc Kudisch!
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Not a fan of the housewives shows or "The Bachelor"… but I think the way "The Soup" makes lighthearted fun of them is hilarious.
Three favorite cities: Only three?

NYC, Toronto, anywhere in Maui.

Favorite sport/team/player: Tennis! Rodger Federer, Nadal, Williams sisters are some of my faves!

I also love watching gymnastics- including rhythmic gymnastics. I was a serious gymnast until my teens and I am amazed at where the sport has gone now.

First CD/Tape/LP you owned: My first cassette tape was WHAM! And I loved it. My second was Duran Duran and I loved it too. Not embarrassed to admit it.

Side note: My parents owned an 8 track of Harry Chapin that I used to choreograph to and put on shows for my friends. Yup. Apparently my lyrical solo to "Cats in the Cradle" was very moving.

First stage kiss: I am realizing that I have had lot of kisses onstage. Can't remember the first! Haha I can tell you that in my current show, we just did a student matinee for 1000 high school kids and the onstage kisses and sexual situations in the opium den ballet was like being at a pep rally. Hilarious.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: I have been performing since I was very young as a dancer but, at age 10, I made my musical theatre debut as "Brigitta" in The Sound of Music and I am told she was very saucy.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: It seemed like the most natural thing. I never made that decision... I was always performing- you couldn't keep me off the stage!
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Here's the truth, I usually go home and ice my body while hanging out with my dog and hubby BUT-- every now and then you can find me at Bar Centrale or Landmarc with friends having my favorite "wine and fries." Perfect meal in my opinion.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Dirty martini or Supa Dupa Greens from Juice Generation... I strive for balance.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I do 20-30 mins of yoga before every show and I always find a quiet corner and do a little focus exercise before I hit the stage.
Most challenging role you have ever played: My track in Fosse - including "I Gotcha" -- was the most physically demanding role I have ever played hands down. Playing the "Wife" in Contact was emotionally challenging and remains one of the most cherished moments in my career.
Craziest audition story: I was in a very important callback once and the casting director had his/her lunch delivered during my audition while I sang. I finished and the delivery person applauded. Really.

I got the job, so I guess all's well the ends well?
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: I had a costume mishap when I was playing "The Wife" in Contact… I wore this large flouncy skirt with many layers. In the first fantasy section when she dances for the first time, I stood up from the table I had been sitting at and realized there was a large hole in one of the ruffles. I accidentally stepped through it and it started to unravel, becoming longer and longer until I had a 6-7 foot "tail" dragging behind me.

As the "Wife" you don't leave the stage for almost 40 minutes so I ended up twirling it and wrapping it around my body and using it like a feather boa at one point. I had cast members trying to pull it off as it danced by and I believe it finally ripped off near the end of her story. I was told after that stage management was close to stopping the show because it was so terrible, but they thought I was making it work so they didn't. Longest 45 minutes of my life.

Worst costume ever: I admire and adore all the costume designers I have had the honor of working with... but there is a certain pink onesie that I was happy to never wear again. I should note that in the same show, I wore one of the most beautiful costumes I have ever worn.
Worst job you ever had: Working as a living mannequin in store windows and then at corporate parties from age 15-17. Awful and uncomfortable. And to the people who think it's fun to try to make the living mannequins laugh.... it's not funny.
A show you would love to star in opposite Marc: I think it would be fun to play Lola and Applegate in Damn Yankees or Adelaide and Nathan in Guys and Dolls.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Spider Woman in Kiss of the Spider Woman. A girl can dream...
Something about you that surprises people: That my mom's side of the family are Mennonites!
Something you are incredibly proud of: Being on Broadway for 20 years.
Three things you can't live without: Laughter. Yoga. Possibilities.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Don't ever let anyone tell you who you are and what you are capable of. Have a strong center and know who you are outside of everyone else's opinion. Be open to criticism and use rejection to learn and grow but never, ever let it define you.