DIVA TALK: Chatting with Marin Mazzie, "The Playbill Broadway Yearbook" and Casting Evita

By Andrew Gans
02 Sep 2005

Q: What's it like performing onstage with someone you're married to?
Mazzie: It's so great. Last year we got to do two shows together out here [in California]. We did 110 in the Shade at Pasadena Playhouse and Brigadoon at Reprise!, and that was the first time we'd ever played opposite each other since we met. It's really great because it's the person that you know the best and trust the most. We also really know how each other works. Obviously, there's no sort of figuring out how to work with somebody. I can basically say anything to him. [Laughs.] "I don't like the way you're doing that" to "I love that you're doing that." It can run the gamut, which is very comfortable. And, doing the concert has been a great thing for us because it's given us an opportunity to travel around together, travel to a lot of places that we love and perform and be together.

Q: What's it like performing somewhere where you might not be as well known as you are in New York?
Mazzie: I don't really think about it. The audiences are always so wonderful and responsive. And, I think, whether they know you or don't, once you open your mouth, they're excited you're there. We always try and have a great program for wherever we are. I also sometimes find it surprising places that we go where there are people that do know who we are and have seen shows. That's where I experience people that have seen Ragtime or listened to it or been touched by it. That's what I always find amazing and encouraging about theatre — that we're still reaching out to other parts of the country.

Q: Were you able to see any Broadway theatre this season?
Mazzie: I saw Pillowman, which I loved. What a wacky, freaky play. He writes such great things. Light in the Piazza — love, love, love. Spamalot — had tons of fun. Those are the only ones I crammed in. I'm going to hopefully try to see some things when I come back.

Q: Do you have any other projects in the works?
Mazzie: I have a bunch of concerts coming up in the fall and probably some more TV appearances.

[Tickets for On the Twentieth Century are priced $75-$2,500 and are available by calling (212) 221-7300, ext. 133 or by e-mailing ccooke@actorsfund.org. For more information visit www.actorsfund.org.]

Because I had nothing whatsoever to do with either the concept or execution of the first annual "Playbill Broadway Yearbook," I can say this: it's terrifically impressive. I hadn't realized how comprehensive the tome would be. In its 400 pages, the book chronicles every show that played on Broadway during the 2004-2005 season. There are hundreds upon hundreds of photos — not only headshots of all the actors appearing in each show, but beautiful color production photos, backstage photos, photos of the crew and front-of house staff, photos from opening night and anniversary parties as well as photos from such yearly events as the Gypsy of the Year Competition, the Broadway on Broadway concert, Broadway Bears and Broadway Bares.

What I found most enjoyable, however, is the "Correspondent" section, where one person from each show served as a correspondent for the "Yearbook," offering inside information about his or her fellow cast members. Correspondents wrote about opening-night memories and gifts, celebrity visitors, backstage rituals, favorite moments in the show, off-site hangouts, memorable ad-libs, cell phone rings, fan encounters and more. Those who served as correspondents included company managers, wardrobe supervisors and other backstage personnel, but the majority of writers were cast members, including Melissa Errico (for Dracula), Denis O'Hare (for Assassins), Capathia Jenkins (for Caroline, or Change), David Burnham (for The Light in the Piazza) and Maureen McGovern (for Little Women), to name but a few. Here's just a sampling of some of the writings of the correspondents:

Rent's Karmine Alers writes in the "Tales from the Put-in" section: "Erica Munoz was going on for Mimi and had a series of disasters. During her rehearsal with Norbert Leo Butz, the candle set her hair on fire. Then, in the same scene, she brought her head up suddenly and cracked Norbert's tooth. Then, that night, in the performance, when she was coming out of the door to do 'Out Tonight,' she fell over the bar and nearly fell to the stage. She had to hang on and then climb back up onto the platform. This all happened in a single day."

Little Women's Maureen McGovern writes in the "Memorable ad libs" section: "I have been known to render an unusual line or lyric on occasion. We've come to call these 'Marmeeisms.' After learning several versions of 'Here Alone,' one night, instead of singing 'Counting days/praying for news,' out of my mouth came 'praying for rain.' Don't ask me why. Poltergeists, I assume! As I left the stage, some of the crew were doing a rain dance!"

Dame Edna's Gorgeous Ednaette Teri DiGianfelice writes in the "Record Number of Cell Phone Rings" section: "Only two, but Edna confiscates the phone and talks to whoever is calling. Also, if Edna sees someone rummaging through their purse during the show, she will take it and try to find out what was so interesting in there."

Dracula's Melissa Errico writes in the "Accidents" section: "Once, during tech, the automation of my desk was accidentally set to go nine times as far in the same amount of time. In other words, I suddenly was on a set piece that was going 50 mph. I flew off and so did the furniture. I lightened the moment and said to the crew, 'Ah, crazy woman driver!'"

It is truly an amazing keepsake — you will not be disappointed. For more information or to purchase a copy of "The Playbill Broadway Yearbook," visit Click here.

Evita was the show that began my life-long obsession with the musical theatre and its leading ladies, so the prospect of an entirely new production — announced for London in 2006 with direction by Michael Grandage — is extremely exciting. Two names have already been mentioned in the London papers; reportedly, the creative team is interested in Tony Award winner Idina Menzel or Madonna — who starred in the "Evita" film — for the title role, which was created on record by Julie Covington, in the West End by Elaine Paige and on Broadway by Patti LuPone. There are many women who I think would be wonderful in the role, but if I were casting, I'd give special attention to Eden Espinosa and Alice Ripley. Although she wasn't shown to greatest advantage in the recent musical Brooklyn, I became an admirer of Espinosa when I heard her sing two songs at Joe's Pub: "Get Here" and "Meadowlark"; she also thoroughly impressed when I saw her go on as Elphaba in the Broadway company of Wicked. And, then there's Ripley, who could probably deliver the score as excitingly as anyone out there. If her "Rainbow High" — which she sang at a Broadway Chatterbox event a few years ago — is any indication, Ripley would make a phenomenal Eva. Those are my thoughts — e-mail me yours.

Jekyll & Hyde's Christiane Noll will make her operatic debut in September with Washington, D.C.'s National Opera. Noll will be part of an evening titled Trilogy, which features three acts of three famed operas: Act II of Umberto Giordano's Fedora, Act IV of Giuseppe Verdi's Otello and Act III of Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow. Noll will play Valencienne in The Merry Widow opposite the Danilo of Plácido Domingo. The cast will also feature Leslie Mutchler as Hanna and Corey Evan Rotz as Njegus. Heinz Fricke will conduct the orchestra. The Merry Widow will be performed in English with English supertitles. Trilogy will be presented Sept. 24 at 7 PM, Sept. 27 and 30 at 7:30 PM, Oct. 2 at 2 PM, Oct. 6 at 7:30 PM and Oct. 9 at 2 PM. Washington National Opera performs at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. For more information visit www.dc-opera.org.

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