DIVA TALK: Chatting With Evita Star Rachel Potter

By Andrew Gans
25 May 2012

Potter (right), with Christine Dwyer, on the Wicked tour

Question: How did your first Broadway show come about?
Potter: …I continued to work as a waitress. I, for a year, was with that agency and went in for every single audition that I could possibly go in for and never booked a thing. That agency ended up dropping me after a while, and things got pretty rough. It was not easy. And then, by the grace of God, I got a job singing with a wedding band in the city, and I think it sort of renewed my confidence, renewed my strength. It was like doing something that I love to do. It wasn't waiting tables. With that, that sort of turned around my audition life and started booking readings and little things here and there, and then all of a sudden, Wicked called. I had been in for Elphaba about four or five times and never quite made it for one reason or another, never got the job. And then they called me to come in for Glinda, and I sort of rolled my eyes… I was pretty much ready to give up hope at that point. I called my family and told them that I've always wanted to do country music, and things weren't happening here. I was having a great time singing with the wedding band, but I was like, "You know, I think musical theatre isn't for me," and I was absolutely ready to give up, and they called me in for Wicked for Glinda, and I was like, "Whatever. Yeah right." [Laughs.] And, went in and booked it that day! They called me that day and said, "You're leaving next week to go on tour."

While I was on tour, I guess my ambition never quit. I never settled in. I never decided that that's where I was going to stay for a really long time, and I started writing country music while I was on the road. We stopped over in Memphis and met up with a longtime friend of mine, who is a Nashville producer and songwriter-guitar player. His name is Justin York. And, we did a songwriting session, and all of a sudden, I was like, "Oh, this is what I want to do. I'm moving to Nashville. I'm going to save money on tour, and I'm going to move to Nashville." But at the same time I [felt] if Broadway calls, that wouldn't be so bad. [Laughs.] I still was auditioning as much as I could, and I got really close to a few things. In between every city — flying back for Catch Me If You Can auditions and Sister Act auditions right before those guys went to Broadway and never got them…and spent so much money obviously to travel like a million times to come back. And then my agents called and said, "They want to see you for Wednesday in Addams Family," and I was like, "No, they don't! I'm not right for that." They were like, "Well, you decide if you want to come." And, I was like, "I don't have anymore money to spend." [Laughs.] "I cannot do this." And so, I called Telsey personally and was like, "Hey guys, I know that you're bringing me in because you just saw me for all this stuff, and you probably feel bad that I didn't get any of it, so you're giving me another shot. But do you really think I'm right for this because I'm tired of flying?" And, they were like, "Get here," so I did, and I just knew in that moment that that was it. That was my job. I don't know what it was. It was just like the heavens opened up, and a light bulb went off in my head. As soon as I finished that audition, I was like, "That's my job." I got in a cab and went straight to the airport immediately after my audition, and then a week later, I got a phone call when I was on tour — it woke me up — and I woke up my entire house and all my housemates, and we jumped up and down. [Laughs.] That's how Broadway came about. That was my Broadway debut — replacing Krysta [Rodriguez] in The Addams Family.

Potter in The Addams Family.
photo by Jeremy Daniel

Question: Do you remember your first night on Broadway? How did that live up to what your expectation of it was going to be?
Potter: Well, you know, I guess I thought, "Oh, this is no big deal." I'd been understudying Glinda in Wicked, so I was playing huge houses as Glinda all over the country, so I was certain that I would be fine. But there was something about being in New York City and being in Times Square. It was just different. And, it was magical. I was so nervous. [Laughs.] My whole family was here, and I went to go meet them at the Olive Garden for dinner right in Times Square. I was so nervous, I swear to God, my shoulders were above my head… I was a wreck, [but] that night was just so magical and so perfect, and I can't imagine anything better. It was really special. Luckily, I had a whole cast that was also replacing, so we all did it together. It was great. It was awesome.

Question: How did Evita come about?
Potter: Evita's an interesting story and I think a testament to when something is meant to be, it's going to just be. There's not much you can do about it. I had auditioned for Evita right around the same time that I had opened Addams Family, and the week after I opened Addams Family, I got really, really sick and had the worst sinus infection of my life. So I was on all of these antibiotics and I get a call for Evita… I was stressed and had just opened the show. The odds were not in my favor for this audition. I go in, and I didn't really know the song. I didn't really know the character. I had never seen the show. I dressed all wrong. I dressed really old. I put my hair up, wore makeup, didn't know the song all that well, I was sick. It was like one thing after the other of why I shouldn't get a callback. And, I didn't. I didn't get a callback. That was fine, and I just figured, "Okay. That's not for me." That was in March. Cut to October. I hear that they still haven't found a Mistress for Evita. It was like a voice spoke to me from the heavens and [said], "That's your job." [Laughs.] I was like, "I think that's meant for me," so I called Craig Burns at Telsey, who was casting it and said, "I was sick the last time that you saw me, and I'd love to come back in. I'd love to have the opportunity if you think it's okay." And, he was like, "What the hell, sure. Why not?" So they brought me back in, and they asked me to come back and dance the next day, and then I danced, sang again, went to do my matinee that Wednesday, and during intermission of the first show, they called and said I got it. I actually found out the news in costume as Wednesday, which I thought was funny. [Laughs.] It was just such a testament to that you can't even get in your own way. If something is meant to be yours, you can even screw it up, and you can still get it. [Laughs.] I thought that was pretty awesome, so that's how that came about. At that point, we knew Addams Family was closing, and it was basically the most impactful timing you could ask for. I was only out of work for three weeks before I started rehearsal.