DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Tony Winner Faith Prince, Star of Broadway's Annie

By Andrew Gans
30 Aug 2013

Prince in The King and I.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Question: That must be rewarding when, after trying it different ways, you finally hit on the one that the audience responds to.
Prince: Absolutely! James said to me, "You know what's funny, you get laughs I’ve never heard. And other things that are sort of normal laughs, you don’t get." And I said, “Well, the goal is to get them all!” [Laughs.]

Question: You’ve now done three shows with a lot of children, The King and I, Annie, Billy Elliot. What is it like working with a lot of child performers?
Prince: Honestly, I think they’re incredible. I think they’re the most present. Billy Elliot was a huge machine with so many assistants and directors. And they would always ask if I had any notes for the kids, and I’d say, "No, that’s not my job." I’m very respectful of that. I mean if there is an issue that keeps coming up, I might go to the assistant and say, "You might want to look at this." But, honestly, maybe once in all of those shows, I said, "Take a look at this. I'm not sure what's going on. I don’t know if it’s me or them." But comedy is the hardest because sometimes the setups aren't right. I mean for myself, too. It's like, "Look at this. I'm not sure what I'm doing or why I'm not getting this." I’m just always open to making it better and finding it, for myself, too. I always have gotten along with kids. I was always the best babysitter in the neighborhood because I used to play show tunes; I didn’t watch TV. I was an RA in college, a camp counselor, and I have a son myself. I’ve always loved kids, and I really treat them like adults. And, I mean that by being respectful. I never talk down to them. I really enjoy it.

Question Were you performing at that age?
Prince: I did a talent show in first grade, but fifth grade I think was my first community center show. I just remember the adults in that were always so good to me, and it meant a lot when they’d talk to me and spend time with me.

Question: You mentioned Billy Elliot earlier. What was your experience like touring with that musical?
Prince: Oh my God, she’s an incredible role. And quite complex. Really dark. That whole show. Her daughter wasn’t talented—here she is going to help this kid, and she can’t even talk to her own daughter. That role you could really, really chew on for a long time. And I enjoyed really being that woman, and I remember Julian Webber, who is sort of in charge of all the companies under Stephen Daldry, is just a fantastic director, too. And once he walked in the room, I thought, "Okay he’s going to really show me who this woman is." And he was just phenomenal; he’s a genius. I mean James is a genius in a completely different way. I just love good directors—I like to be directed. I like to bring a lot to the table, and I come prepared with lots of thoughts, but I really enjoy the collaboration… It was a really good part for me. The cigarette and the toughness, but the only reason she’s tough is because she’s been beaten down. And in that community she was one of the only women that stood up to the men there. She had huge dreams of going somewhere and being something else, and here she is stuck in this town… She has this kid she doesn’t really get along with. To me that was tragic, too. I remember the little girl who played Debbie. I’d say to her every night, “You know, I’m crazy about you, right?” It was hard to get pounded on like that eight times a week. Your body doesn’t know you're acting. So I used to say that to her before or after or during—"You know how crazy I am about you"—because I was just really pounding on her the whole entire show.

Question: How long are you staying with Annie?
Prince: At least until January. I’m really enjoying it. The company is amazing, and can I tell you that Anthony Warlow is just a beaut. We only have one exchange [on stage], but we’re always in each other’s dressing rooms telling stories. I think we may do something together… We've got good chemistry… He’s just so talented… We just come from the same sort of school. We’re kind of wracking our brains because there’s a lot of ways we could go. We could do comedy, we could do an old married couple, we could do Sweeney Todd

Read about Faith Prince's Favorite Things here.

Watch a video celebration of Prince here.

[For more information visit AnnieTheMusical.com.]

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

PHOTO ARCHIVE: Celebrating Tony Award Winner Faith Prince

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Faith Prince in Guys and Dolls
Photo by Martha Swope