PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Matilda's "Mrs. Wormwood," Olivier Award Winner Lesli Margherita

By Matthew Blank
16 Apr 2013

First stage kiss: I was 15, playing Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street. The guy opposite me was in his 20s. I thought my father was gonna go “Godfather” on him.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: I saw Annie in San Francisco when I was 7. I remember one of the orphans messed up a step, and I was like, “Ugh. Seriously? I wouldn’t.” Hahaha. (Side note: I have since messed up MANY. Karma.)
How you got your Equity card: I was a freshman in college, and I did a show at Disneyland that gave it to me. Toontown gave me my card. Fitting.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Well, I've never lived in NY before this, so I'm still finding places. In London, I became a Pret A Manger junkie. I have continued the tradition here. I can’t eat a ton before a show, or I will barf during "Loud."

After the show, I love Bar Centrale for the people-watching, and I love Becco for the spaghetti. (I’m Italian, I gotta.)

Favorite liquid refreshment: Wine. Umm, I also like wine. Oh, and wine.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I warm up with the kids in the show. Most of us do, actually. It’s great.

I can’t believe I’m admitting this- I have a life-size Robert Pattinson cutout in my dressing room (long story). Before I go onstage, I have to touch him. Wait… this doesn’t sound right… that’s not what I mean…

Most challenging role you have ever played: There are two. Aldonza in La Mancha, and Inez, my role in Zorro. It is a marathon. When I would (spoiler alert) get shot near the end, I would crumple onstage (center, of course) and say “oh thank God” because I could rest for a minute.
What are you most looking forward to, making your Broadway debut after working so extensively around the country and London? This has been such a long time coming. I’m a sap about it all. My entire cast has been so amazing about it. They filmed me going into the stage door for the first time (and crying), standing onstage for the first time (and crying)… you get the picture. Lots of crying. I’m looking forward to everything, signing up for all the Broadway community events, being a Bway dork, honestly.
How did you get involved in this production? A friend of mine in London sent me a message saying he had just seen the show, and there was a role I needed to play. I knew it was coming to Broadway, so I bought the cast recording.

I heard the song "Loud" once, drove to my friend's office, burst in on her workday, and said, "I'll die if anyone else does this." (I'm not dramatic or anything).

I basically went after it like a rabid dog. I auditioned in NY and LA. Jim Carnahan and his casting office were rock stars. It was a really long process over a few months. I was willing to do anything to get it. Rabid. Dog.
Were you familiar with the book previously? Oh yeah. I am a big Dahl fan. I had read the book numerous times.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect of the experience? We are gonna need more space. I know I hit the performer jackpot having this show be my Broadway debut. This team, and this cast are EVERYTHING. I've never been in a show that I have been completely in awe of as well.

Also, I’m very Mrs. Wormwood-esque (the good parts), in that I love sparkles, big hair, makeup…so getting to play her is a dream, ha. I get to keep my acrylic nails.

Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Ooh, so many.

1. I was doing a staged workshop, and we all entered behind a scrim. As I walked behind it, my tights were a little twisted, so I hiked my skirt up around my waist and tugged them around quite violently before putting my skirt back down... nobody told me the scrim was fully lit and see through.

2. The very first day of rehearsal for Zorro in London we were doing choreography. Everyone was there and I raised my hand and asked loudly, “Sorry, but is there any way to get me a rehearsal skirt? I just can’t wear pants when I dance.” There was deafening silence. In Britain, “pants” is the word they use for underwear.

If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be? Any member of the adult ensemble who gets to do "Revolting Children." I peek from the back of the house every night and cry, it’s so good. I've just outed myself to stage management, haven't I...
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Velma in Chicago. Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Fred in Once Upon A Mattress.

Everyone says it, I know, but I have to- I’m dying to play Evita- although I thought my friend Elena Roger was stunning.

Leading man role you'd like a shot at: Please. There is no way I could play a man. There isn't enough duct tape in the world to tape me down.
Something about you that surprises people: I am a "Star Wars" fanatic. I had Stormtroopers at my black tie wedding.
Something you are incredibly proud of: My nightclub act, "All Hail the Queen." (yeah, total plug. Deal with it).

My closest friends and I created it, and it will always be us having a blast. Always. We have been nothing but true to what we’ve wanted to do onstage, and that is all that's important.

Write and create your own stuff. Even if you are scared to. Not everyone is gonna like it, I guarantee. Everyone's a critic. But who cares? You took a chance and created something, they didn't. (Sticks tongue out, makes raspberry noise).

Career you would want if not a performer: Writer. Although after reading this, you may disagree...
"I'll never understand why…" … some actors complain so much and call out of their shows when they just don't feel like doing it. Boo. You work your whole life to get to Broadway or wherever, you have to be grateful you get to live your dream.

Don’t you dare give anything less than 100%, and be kind to everyone. Your reputation precedes you, and it's a small business. Seriously, you are one bad attitude (or diva tantrum) away from being the Hello Kitty in Times Square. Don’t forget that.

Words of advice for aspiring performers: Have a life. Show business is not your life. It’s what you do. These are very different things.

Also, don’t read message boards. Especially when drinking. You will go down a shame spiral no one can bring you back from. Well, maybe hot Vampires.