DIVA TALK: Chatting With Evita Star Rachel Potter

By Andrew Gans
25 May 2012

Potter goes solo at Joe's Pub
Photo by Monica Simoes

Question: Was it at that time when you thought that this was going to be your career or did you know that earlier?
Potter: Well, I always knew that performing would be my career. I just never really narrowed it to what the path would be, but I kind of decided against Christian music because it didn't seem like the right path for my life. When the door opened with musical theatre, I loved it so much, and it was this brand-new world that I didn't really know about, and I think it was a niche that I felt very comfortable in. From the time I was really small, I just grew up in a very Christian household, so everything was very Christian-oriented, but I was still putting on plays when I was three-four-five years old — making my brother dress up like girls. [Laughs.] When I was small, they just happened to be about Mary and Joseph. [Laughs.] At the same time, I was absolutely a musical-theatre kid. I think I just didn't know it. So I think that I had a little bit of a learning curve — a little bit of a challenge when I first began because I didn't have the upper hand like a lot of kids did, where they had class and were learning how to act since they were little. That was something I had to figure out a little later, but yeah, once it started, it just seemed natural to continue with it. I started coming to New York as much as I could to audition.

Question: When did you move here?
Potter: …Well, first of all, I'd come up a lot to audition. I had this sort of ambition that I was going to move for many years before I finished college… And, I was coming up as much as possible to audition for random things and stand in line with the masses — auditioned for Ariel in The Little Mermaid on Broadway… I came up for Catch Me If You Can before it was here. It was going out of town. I auditioned. They didn't even look up. I spent all this money to fly up to New York, and the person behind the table didn't even stop looking at their Blackberry while I was singing. I was so disappointed. And, next door they were auditioning Leap of Faith, and it's funny just to see how it all comes full circle. Now both of those shows have been on Broadway… So I went next door, and I actually auditioned for the role that Jessica Phillips [recently played], which is all wrong for me. And, at the time — this was like five years ago — it was even more wrong for me. I just went in. I [thought], "I'm in New York. I paid all this money to get here. I might as well audition for something else." I went in the room, and Pat Goodwin of Telsey was behind the table… He was like, "You know, girl. Nobody's here. Sing a whole song."

Cover art for Potter's new EP

It was in that moment that things began, I think, for me because he let me sing a whole song, and I actually could show him what I could do. And he, afterwards, said, "I've got to show you to Justin Huff, and I've got to show you to this person and this person." And, he was so excited, and the next thing I knew, I was being called in for the understudy for Next to Normal before it was going to Broadway — when it was going out of town. That led to getting all these callbacks, and I was like, "What is happening?" It ended up being me in the final three, and I got to perform in front of Bernie Telsey of Telsey + Company. And then the next thing I knew, I'm back to Florida. I didn't get that job. I'm back in Florida performing in a local theatre company just doing Sharpay in High School Musical, actually, and they called me at rehearsal one day when we were in tech. And, it was Telsey, and they asked me to be on the Legally Blonde reality show. So I came back up here, and I was on the show for one episode. [Laughs.] And got kicked off! But then when that show aired in the summertime, the very next day an agency contacted me on Facebook and asked me if I had representation. I didn't. I graduated. I said [I didn't have an agent], and they signed me. A few months later, I graduate from college and moved on up with representation, which is kind of unheard of. So that was my big move in 2008. And, you would think everything was sunshine and rainbows after that, but it sure wasn't. [Laughs.] My first job in New York was Hooters. So technically my first job was on Broadway, it was just at Hooters on Broadway. [Laughs.]