Jenny Lee Stern
After a three-year absence, the musical revue Forbidden Broadway is Alive and Kicking at Off-Broadway's intimate 47th Street Theatre, and Gerard Alessandrini is once again sending up both Broadway shows and some of its most unique stars, all while introducing audiences to four multitalented actors who portray numerous roles throughout the evening. Heading the current cast of the Off-Broadway institution are Natalie Charle Ellis, Scott Richard Foster, Marcus Stevens and Jenny Lee Stern. I had the chance to chat with the latter, who is called upon to offer her versions of Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters and an especially lively Judy Garland, among others, earlier this week. Stern spoke about her audition for Forbidden Broadway, the show's intense rehearsal process and her marriage to fellow actor Jeremy Kushnier, who returns to Broadway's Jersey Boys next month; that interview follows.
Question: How did Forbidden Broadway come about for you?
Jenny Lee Stern: I first had my taste of Forbidden Broadway [about] 12 or 13 years ago when I went in for a random audition. I auditioned and got called back and didn't really think much of it. And then had some friends go in and out of the show over the years and then a very close friend. So when it was coming around again, I was like, "Oh! Maybe I should try and get in on that," so I got an appointment and went in and did my thing.
|photo by Carol Rosegg|
Question: Had you ever done anything like this before, any impersonations?
Stern: I keep saying no, but then I think my dad would disagree with me, and he'd say that I'd been doing it since I was three years old. Everybody that we'd meet in the grocery store, like the checkout lady at the mall or your grandma or your aunt or the kids at school… I guess I've always just had a knack for mimicry and just have an ear for it, so I say, "Oh, gosh. I've never done impersonations before," but I guess it's the opposite. I'm sure I probably speak in my own voice only 30 percent of my life, and the rest is I'm putting on an act. [Laughs.] But this, this is a completely different skill. Even if I was an impersonator, you're mimicking someone's voice from a movie or a TV show or a recording… But in our case, with the parody lyrics, it changes the vowel sounds of the words, so it's a different skill… As opposed to doing a spot-on vocal mimicry, you're sort of looking for elements of that person that make that person who they are, whether it's a vibrato or a droopy eye or a facial expression or the way they hold their body. It's definitely a different skill than just pulling out Aunt Diane's one-liner or something like that.
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