Other theatrical credits include the Kennedy Center’s Side Show (Violet), Chicago’s Wicked (Elphaba), The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown (Mom), Evita (Eva), The Last Five Years (Cathy), A Little Night Music (Petra), Brigadoon (Meg) and Ordinary Days (Claire).
She toured internationally with The Mamas and the Papas, with original members John Phillips and Denny Doherty, for five years.
|Full given name:||Lisa Michelle Eiesland (How many vowels can be in a first syllable?)|
|Hometown:||Born in Sioux Falls, SD. Raised in Milwaukee, WI.|
|What your parents do for a living:||Mom: administrative support for cardiologists; now for a dermatologist.|
|Special skills:||Self-deprecation. And I type really fast (could I be more bland?). I wish I could tell you something more titillating like I can put my feet behind my head or something.|
|Skill/talent you wish you had or were better at:||I wish I could yodel. And juggle. And hula hoop like those professional hoopers with 20 hoops around their ankles and neck and arms. I had to learn some basic hooping tricks for Twyla Tharp’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ and took private lessons. My teacher was extraordinary and performed in burlesque shows; those women know how to handle their hoops.|
|First Broadway show you ever saw:||Les Miserables in 1987|
|If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be?||The Heiress with Cherry Jones|
|Current show you have been recommending to friends:||Brief Encounter, though it just closed. Also, The Merchant of Venice, which was just extended.|
|Favorite showtune of all time:|| It changes all the time. I’ll see a new show or hear a recording and I’m convinced I’ve just heard the best song ever written.
|Three favorite musicals:||This also changes, as there is such beautiful new material being written, even as I write this. Some favorites: 110 in the Shade, Sweeney Todd, The Light in the Piazza.|
|Broadway star of the past you would most love to have sung a duet with:||Michael Jeter. Did you see his featured performance on the Tony’s broadcast highlighting Grand Hotel? I just about died from admiration.|
|Your personal vocal idols:||Eva Cassidy, early Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt|
|The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:||Mark Rylance in La Bete. I’ve never seen anything like it. And it made me realize again how hard actors must work to reach that level of brilliance.|
|Music that makes you cry, any genre:||India Arie touches me. Stevie Wonder and the Beatles make me cry simply from their genius.|
|MAC or PC?||PC. But before all MAC users get their undies in a twist, I’m open to change!|
|Most played song on your iPod:||It’s probably a tie: “Video” by India Arie, and “A Fool in Love” by Tina Turner.|
|Most-visited website:||Amazon.com. But I have to stop! It’s addictive. And getting expensive. And YouTube. I am obsessed with videos of dogs who can sing.|
|Last book you read:||"Crime and Punishment." Glad I got through it, but sheesh, that was brutal.|
|Last good movie you saw:||"Maria Full of Grace" on DVD|
|Some films you consider classics:|| "The Godfather" I and II
"As Good As It Gets"
"The Goodbye Girl"
"A Place in the Sun"
|Must-see TV shows:|| “Damages”
“The United States of Tara”
“The Tudors” (at least the first two seasons before Anne Boleyn lost her head)
|Performer you would drop everything to go see:||Audra McDonald|
|Pop culture guilty pleasure:||"The Biggest Loser"|
|Three favorite cities:||Perth, Chicago, NYC|
|Favorite sport/team/player:||Baseball, Yankees, Mariano Rivera|
|First CD/Tape/LP you owned:||The Carpenters (197_?)|
|When you first realized you could sing:||I guess it was junior high school, when the choir director thought I was special. She was kind, nurturing, supportive, and probably ignited my spark for singing.|
|First stage kiss:||Freshman year, Whitnall High School, Ernest in Love with Chris LoDuca.|
|Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager:||High school production of Godspell (“Day by Day”, “Oh Bless the Lord…”). I had a desperate need for spirituality as a teen, and the process of rehearsals and then performing that show for audiences was my first glimpse at how theatre can literally raise my spirits.|
|Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:||When I saw Randy Graff as Fantine in Les Miserables. Her performance was vocally stunning, but what really moved me was her acting: honest, simple, gut-wrenching. At that moment, I understood the power of live theatre. Ironically, Randy is now a close friend and lives down the hall from me in NJ.|
|How you got your Equity card:||Children’s theatre... wherein I did my best to convincingly portray Christopher Columbus’ mother. The kids seemed to buy it.|
|Favorite ABBA tune of all time:||"Take a Chance on Me"|
|Favorite Mamas and Papas tune of all time:||“Twelve-Thirty (Young Girls are Coming to the Canyon)”|
|How you would describe your approach to, and version of, Donna:||I began by thinking she was quite different from me, but as the months have passed, I’ve discovered she’s more like me than I suspected. It evolves every night, and my favorite shows are the ones in which I’m surprised by her.|
|Favorite pre-/post- show meal:|| Pre-show: Anything light! Have you seen those spandex jumpsuits?
Post-show: Cereal, at home, with my man and my dog.
|Favorite liquid refreshment:||Chai tea latte|
|Most embarrassing or spectacular flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:||As Amneris in Aida. I couldn’t say the words “neglecting me” –it came out: “niglecklick, niglecklick, niglicking me!”|
|Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:||
The crew laughs at me because I get to the theatre an hour and a half to two hours before the show. You know, the usual physical workout (it varies... workout videos, yoga, pilates), hot steamy shower during which I do a vocal warm-up, fix the hair, beat the face. I like to send up a prayer asking for blessings on the cast, crew, orchestra, staff and audience. Additionally, before making a breathless entrance early in Act I, I do 35 push-ups in the wing, again sometimes drawing a response from the crew. I’ve tried other means to “be” breathless at the beginning of this scene, but nothing works like the real thing.
|Most challenging role, vocally, you've played:||Evita vs. Elphaba... it’s a draw.|
|Worst costume ever:||Ugh!!! In Jesus Christ Superstar (the 2000 revival), a strappy number which consisted of three small leather triangles and a strap up my butt. This was my first Broadway show, before I knew I could say: “Umm... I don’t know that I should be seen in this outside of this room.”|
|Worst job you ever had:||I was painted bright red from head to toe for a pharmaceutical industrial film. When we wrapped, they forgot I needed to get clean and they all went home. I was alone in the dimly-lit bathroom with the pink soap in the dispenser and paper towels. It was a long night.|
|Who would play you in the movie?||Ha! Well, someone just wrote me a message on my website that said that Uma Thurman should play me in the movie. Hilarious. I don’t know... Danny DeVito? Can you tell this question makes me uncomfortable?|
|Leading lady role you've been dying to play:|| Nora in A Doll’s House
Diana in Next to Normal
Theresa in Circle Mirror Transformation
|Leading man role you wish you could play:||Puck in Midsummer Night's Dream|
|Dream Shakespearean roles:||Portia in The Merchant of Venice, Olivia in Twelfth Night|
|Who have you played on "Law & Order"? What edition?||
Welllll, I’ll have you know that I played the estimable role of the argumentative, jogging girlfriend of an Ambassador who discovers the body of an androgynous stabbing victim on "Criminal Intent." I have approximately 20 seconds of screen time, and every couple of months a residual check shows up in my mailbox. Sweet.
|Career you would want if not a performer:||This is the question we all wrestle with at 3 AM when we’re out of work! I think it would be some sort of mental health professional, perhaps specializing in young women with eating disorders.|
|Three things you can't live without:||A community of people to love, a sense of humor, serenity (or the search for it)|
|Something about you that surprises people:||I curse like a longshoreman.|
|"I'll never understand why…"||...people think they sound smarter when they’re being negative and critical of art, when it’s much more challenging (and demonstrates a much higher intellect) to articulate what works about it.|
|Words of wisdom for aspiring performers?||
Keep studying. Never stop working to get better. Figure out what is standing in the way of your professional and artistic progress, and then work on it. Is it a lack of confidence? Lack of some skill set? Issues with overeating, alcohol or detrimental relationships? Don’t lie to yourself and don’t be afraid. Good luck.