DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Tony Nominee Andrea McArdle

By Andrew Gans
14 Dec 2012

McArdle in Blood Brothers.
Photo by Toni Morgan

Question: What is your daughter up to these days?
McArdle: She's actually been sidelined for about a year-and-a-half now. It's been really tough on her. She'd been in a car accident with her boyfriend… This is her third surgery. She's going in the Hospital for Special Surgery… She has to go in and get this ketamine treatment, where they basically shut your whole nervous system down to try to reboot it, so she can't dance or anything… It's been really tough. She's been writing and recording, but she can't do anything. She did Blood Brothers with me down in Florida, and she was terrific and wants to be doing roles in Elf or Bring It On—she's right for all that stuff, but she can't. She's in profound pain, so it's been really tough…

Question: …With the Les Miz film coming up, I wanted to talk about your experience in the musical since you played both Eponine and Fantine.
McArdle: Well, I did Fantine for a year in the Broadway production—like '93-'94—and I kept begging Cameron [Mackintosh]. [Laughs.] He was like, "You ought to be very happy that I gave you Fantine. Any post-Annie could have played Eponine." He was like, "I did you a favor." I was like, "I know! But I really want to play Eponine so badly." [Laughs.] So I kept bugging him and bugging him, and when they knew it was going to sit down in Philadelphia, and Laurie Beechman's hometown is Philly and mine, and we did our first show—Annie, of course—together, they borrowed [my daughter] Alexis from the New York company and let her come into the Philly company [as Cosette] and let the other kid go to Broadway, and they were happy… I guess it was 16 weeks or something like that. It sat down in Philly, and we did it over Christmas, which was amazing, so I finally got to do Eponine. And, that's my daughter's favorite role. Other than Elphaba, Eponine was [her] dream role. She got very close. She was down to like the last three girls in the revival that Celia [Keenan-Bolger] did, but she was only 17.

Question: Are you looking forward to seeing the film? What are your thoughts?
McArdle: I'll be there on Christmas Day—forget it! And, I mean, just the stuff I've seen with Anne Hathaway, she just breaks your heart. I can't wait!

McArdle as Fantine



Question: Having played both those roles, which one did you end up preferring?
McArdle: I was more suited for Eponine, but by the time I got to play Eponine—I would have rather played Eponine at like 28. I think I was 33. It's such a hard call. I will say that Fantine is more beautiful. It's a tossup. It really is. I really couldn't even decide. But I do think that "I Dreamed a Dream" is probably a better song, as far as just beautiful, but I just loved playing Eponine.

Question: You're also going to be doing Mame
McArdle: I am, yes. In Media and the Bucks County Playhouse.

Question: Have you ever done that part before?
McArdle: I haven't, but I think it's going to be a really, really good fit. I was actually booked to do Hello, Dolly! on a 30-city tour, and then they called me really late in the game and said, "Oh, no, we've cancelled it, and we're using Sally Struthers." I was like, "Okay. Andrea or Sally? There's a very big difference!" [Laughs.] I've seen her do that role, and she's fantastic in the role… I think I'm actually much better suited for Mame than Hello, Dolly! at this point. Maybe Dolly could be like 10 years away, but I'm reading the Patrick Dennis book right now, and I can't put it down.

Question: What's your dream role to do on Broadway—other than something new, of course?
McArdle: Two roles I really, really want to do are… Next to Normal and Sweeney Todd—those are two that I can think of off the top of my head.

Question: Both amazing shows.
McArdle: I think what's so nice about theatre is the best roles for women are for women over 50, which is really an inspiration because you don't find that on TV so much. I'm really wanting to do some straight drama, and I really want to do some television and maybe some film, too, because it just keeps you resilient—different beasts, so to speak. But nothing is more fun than doing a musical. Nothing.

[54 Below is located at 254 West 54th Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue). For more information and tickets, visit 54Below.com.]

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