ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: How Lena Hall Kept Dancing, Even After She Was Hurt Onstage

By Seth Rudetsky
17 Jun 2014

Lena Hall
Photo by Joan Marcus

Anyhoo, she wound up doing Cats on Broadway, 42nd Street, Tarzan and Dracula. When she got the role of Stark Sands' girlfriend in Kinky Boots she had great scenes at the beginning of the show and her own beautiful Cyndi Lauper song. Well, when the show was out-of-town, they realized that it was taking too long to introduce the audience to Lola (Billy Porter) so all the early Celina stuff was cut down tremendously. Then, they wound up cutting a verse out of her song. She totally understood it was all for the good of the show and told them that without her intro and with part of the song missing, it was probably best to just cut it. As sad as it was to not have that great song, she was actually happy because without having to sing and dance, she was now being considered an more of an actress. When life hands you lemons?

Anyhoo, when she heard about the revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, she told her agent she had to have an audition and if he couldn't get one, she'd go to the open call! She knew she had to be seen for the role. She got the initial audition and went in full male drag. Plus, she brought her own guitarist! She got called back and for the final audition, she had to sing, do all the scenes and improv as Yitzhak, opposite John Cameron Mitchell!

She also wrote her own monologue as the character (!). She tried it out before her final audition for some of the casting people, and it brought down the house. Literally non-stop laughter! She went to her final callback excited for the same laughs. Instead... silence. Actually, to clarify, staring and silence. And occasionally a slight internal chuckle from John Cameron Mitchell. She knew she was bombing big time. But she sang up a storm and when she improv'd with John, she made him laugh numerous times. Long story short, she got the role and won the Tony Award! And her two nails grew back!

By the way, I've started keeping a daily (ish) blog on SethTV.com so go there to read about my "trip" to Virginia for my niece's graduation. (Hint: it was horrific). Come to "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox" this Thursday to see the cast from Here Lies Love. And peace out!!

(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)