By Michael Gioia
10 Jul 2014
Although Alice Lee has been seen on Broadway in Spring Awakening and Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark as well as Off-Broadway's Bare and, most recently, Heathers: The Musical, the actress has always loved to explore her pop side in performance. She has offered numerous free concerts at Rockwood Music Hall — where she debuted original material and performed alongside friends — she starred in the concert version of Alexander Sage Oyen's song cycle Moment By Moment (check out her performance of Oyen's moving "The Ground"), and she's created comic, show-stopping roles in Off-Broadway's Bare (the not-so-smart Diane) and Heathers (the oh-so-bitchy Heather Duke). On June 8, she said goodbye to her fellow Heathers and landed two days later in Los Angeles (after a successful audition for "Rising Star" casting directors and executive producer Ken Warwick), where she now competes on ABC for the coveted title.
On "Rising Star" audiences vote (in real time, via a free digital app) for their favorite contestant to move on. A swipe right on the app pushes the contestant a step further in the competition, and a panel of "Experts" (pop star Kesha, country singer Brad Paisley and rapper Ludacris as well as host Josh Groban) offer feedback. In the first round, Lee performed Lady Gaga's "You and I." Although the "Experts" said she may be "too Broadway," she was voted through to the next round and competes this Sunday in a "Duel" against contestant Lisa Punch. Prior to this week's performance, Lee caught up with Playbill.com.
Alice Lee: Yes, I was there yesterday. It was amazing. Basically, we got to be mentored by the three "Experts," so I was in there with Kesha, Brad Paisley and Ludacris — also known as "Chris Lova Lova!" [Laughs.] We sang a couple of our songs, got their advice about how we should do the next show, what we should work on and just kind of hung out and chatted a little bit.
|photo by Chad Batka|
What was your biggest takeaway from them?
AL: Because they told me about being "too theatre" [after my first performance on "Rising Star"] — that was my big note — I think the best thing they said was, "Don't lose that. Don't lose the theatre" — because, obviously, it's a part of me — "but use that to your advantage and create a balance between theatre and that pop world." I think that's really cool because I love the idea of fusing [them] together. Creating that right balance will be key.
That's something that I wanted to talk about with you — the concept of being "too theatre" for a reality singing competition. In your opening video, you introduced yourself as having a theatrical background and coming directly from Off-Broadway's Heathers. Do you think that talking about your theatrical background and/or coming off as a "theatre person" is a hindrance? Does it put us, as musical theatre performers, in a box?
AL: I definitely think, especially with reality shows, there is some specific perception of "theatre," especially if you say it off the bat, but I personally don't think it should hinder me. I take it as a compliment! [Laughs.] I hope I'm part of that group — theatre people are awesome. They're very good at what they do, and they can sing, so I kind of love it, but I still want to make sure that I bring [out my] pop side because I want to show that I can do different things and that I'm versatile. Continued...