DIVA TALK: Chatting with Scoundrels' Sara Gettelfinger Plus News of Mazzie, Skinner and Brightman

By Andrew Gans
30 Sep 2005

Q: Tell me a little bit about your background. Where were you born and raised, and when did you start performing?
Gettelfinger: I was born in Louisville, KY, and spent my time growing up on both sides of the river, in Kentucky and Indiana. I was very fortunate because growing up in the area there was Actors Theatre of Louisville and Kentucky Center for the Arts and Stage One, just an incredible theatrical community. I was actually very well-rounded growing up very into sports and grades came first. I always enjoyed theatre as sort of a treat that you got to do on the weekends going to shows. When it was time to go to high school, I realized it might be something I really wanted to pursue, and there's a youth performing arts school in downtown Louisville that is a wonderful, incredible program. Through that school I was led to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music for college, which lots of folks in the Broadway community went through. I graduated and headed here and have thankfully have had places to show up and rehearse since then.

Q: What was your first professional job in New York?
Gettelfinger: A production in Nyack, NY, at the Helen Hayes Theatre [Company] of Stephen Sondheim's Company. . . . I played April, the stewardess. It was very funny because I'm sitting there for my very first show, [and] I show up to rehearsal, and Norm Lewis is on one side and Donna McKechnie is on the other side. I wasn't Equity yet, so I also drove the van for the commuting from Manhattan to Nyack. [Laughs.] I was thrilled out of my mind. I knew then as I was driving the red van and going to rehearsal with these incredible people that I had really made it.

Q: Do you want to continue with Broadway or would you like to try film and TV?
Gettelfinger: If the right projects presented themselves for television and film, of course I would be open to doing it, but my first love and my first home will always be onstage. That is definitely where I'm happiest.

[Dirty Rotten Scoundrels plays the Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street. For tickets call (212) 239-6200.]


Congratulations to the company of Broadway's Wicked, who produced a star-studded benefit concert Sept. 25 to raise funds for Second Harvest and Quilts for Kids, two organizations working directly with victims of Hurricane Katrina. The evening at the Gershwin Theatre raised over $200,000 for the worthy organizations and boasted performances by Bernadette Peters ("No One Is Alone"), Idina Menzel ("I'll Cover You"), Ben Vereen ("Corner of the Sky"/"Memory"), Liza Minnelli ("New York, New York" and "What Did I Have?"), Julia Murney ("It's Amazing the Things That Float"), Bebe Neuwirth ("And the World Goes Round"), Megan Hilty ("Alto's Lament"), Brian d'Arcy James ("When I Reach the Place Called Home"), Susan Lucci ("Winning Isn't Everything"), Judy Kuhn ("Finding Home"), Shoshana Bean ("Coronet Man"), Patrick Wilson ("But Not for Me"), Shuler Hensley ("You'll Never Walk Alone") and Adriane Lenox ("Ordinary People"). The evening also featured the casts of Wicked ("Conviction of the Heart"), Light in the Piazza ("Migratory V"), Hairspray ("I Know Where I've Been"), Avenue Q ("For Now"), Spelling Bee (an interpretive dance), All Shook Up ("If I Could Dream"), Mamma Mia! ("Beautiful City") and Rent ("Seasons of Love") as well as appearances by Bill Irwin, James Naughton, Phyllis Newman, Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker, Elizabeth Parkinson, Keith Roberts, Jai Rodriguez, Rue McClanahan, Rosie Perez, Patrick Quinn, Jed Bernstein, David Hyde Pierce, Christopher Sieber, the Broadway Inspirational Voices, Jack Klugman, Carole Shelley, Isabel Keating, Phylicia Rashad, Denis O'Hare, Felicia Finley, Nicole Sutherland, Frederick Weller, Daniel Sunjata and Bryan Batt. (To learn more about the charities that benefitted from the evening, visit www.secondharvest.org and www.quiltsforkids.org.)

Congratulations also to the Actors' Fund of America and artistic producer Seth Rudetsky for their fifth fabulous benefit concert. This past Monday evening at the New Amsterdam Theatre featured Douglas Sills and Marin Mazzie delightfully hamming it up as theatrical producer Oscar Jaffe and theatre-turned-film star Lily Garland in the classic Cy Coleman-Betty Comden-Adolph Green musical On the Twentieth Century. Both Sills and Mazzie dazzled with their thrilling voices and wonderful comic timing. Mazzie was especially impressive, her voice soaring on "Never" and "Babette" while offering the most comical performance of her career. The evening also included delightful turns from Brooks Ashmanskas and Brad Oscar as Jaffe's sidekicks, Joanne Worley as "the nut" Letitia Primrose, Christopher Sieber as the square-jawed film star Bruce Granit and Kathleen Turner as the vocally challenged Imelda Thornton. The original Altar Boyz Cheyenne Jackson, David Josefsberg, Andy Karl and Tyler Maynard also scored as the "Life Is Like a Train" porters, who delivered a show-stopping special arrangement of that tune. To date, the Actors' Fund has presented terrific evenings of Dreamgirls, Funny Girl, Chess, Hair and Twentieth Century let's hope this tradition continues next year.

Original Phantom of the Opera star Sarah Brightman will release a second collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes in October. "Love Changes Everything: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection Vol. 2" is scheduled to hit stores on the Decca Broadway label Oct. 25. The 14 track disc features six previously unreleased Brightman tracks as well as duets with Michael Ball, John Barrowman and Cliff Richard. Song titles include "Probably on Thursday," "The Perfect Year," "Love Changes Everything," "Only You" (with Cliff Richard), "Seeing is Believing" (with Michael Ball), "Think of Me" (with Steve Barton), "Any Dream Will Do," "I Don't Know How to Love Him," "Too Much In Love To Care" (with John Barrowman), "The Phantom of the Opera" (with Steve Harley), "Make Up My Heart," "No Llores Por Mi Argentina," "Everything's Alright" and "Whistle Down the Wind."

Side Show Tony nominee Emily Skinner will be part of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' upcoming production of Mame. Skinner will play Agnes Gooch in the Jerry Herman musical, which begins performances at the D.C. theatre Feb. 18, 2006. The actress joins the previously announced Christine Baranski (as Mame) and Max von Essen (as Patrick Dennis). Tickets for the Kennedy Center's production of Mame will go on sale to the general public Nov. 7. For more information visit www.kennedy-center.org.

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

This week's column is dedicated to Michael Wittenberg, Bernadette Peters' husband who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash earlier this week. Donations can be made in Wittenberg's name to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Broadway Barks or Standing Tall. The latter was an organization that meant a great deal to the late investment advisor. A message on the Standing Tall website says, "Mike was the beloved Director and Treasurer of Standing Tall, a program for the most severely disabled and multiply handicapped children. Mike was one of the strongest and most physically able people in the universe. He protected a population of disabled children at Standing Tall that must work very hard just to sit, stand, walk and speak. They are the least physically able in our society. He was Standing Tall's guardian angel. The families of Standing Tall drew from his enormous outward and inner strength to find purpose and hope in their lives. His energy, enthusiasm, vision and kindness will be sorely missed."

There will be a private memorial only for relatives and close family friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with the much loved Bernadette.