DIVA TALK: Chatting With Mamma Mia! Star Felicia Finley

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14 Sep 2012

Finley in The Wedding Singer.
photo by Joan Marcus

Question: What's it like for you as a performer doing the encore as the rock stars?
Finley: Well, my head's not right. I'm a New Orleans girl… Richard Simmons is [also] from Louisiana. Now, I know him because he does stuff for Broadway Cares, so I've worked with him before, and the reason I'm bringing him up is because… [Laughs.] I always say when we're bowing—because it's the longest bow on Broadway I'm convinced. It's a British bow—you bow and bow and bow. There's a silent bow, and then you come out and bow some more, and then you bow by yourself—bow, bow, bow, bow, bow. So then on our final bow, I always tell everybody, "It's time to sweat to the oldies, and Richard's coming out any second!" [Laughs.] Because Richard Simmons would fit there perfectly—in the middle just jumping up and down. It really feels sometimes like I'm "Sweating to the Oldies." And, I love it because it cracks me up! It is another show. It is not the show. It's another show. It's an addendum show. I can't explain it! [Laughs.] It's an addendum show, and I'm waiting for Richard Simmons to show up. It is the craziest thing I've ever done—ever—but it's a show. By the time I'm done with that part of the night, I have sweated all over again. That's why it's sweating to the oldies because you put on those big costumes and those platform boots on a rake like that, you're ass is going to sweat! And, you have to remember that we're doing a rock concert again. It's unbelievable.… They're two shows. It's like two different shows. And, it's good. I mean, I remember seeing it before I auditioned, and I was like, "That was worth the price of admission." It was a dessert I didn't expect. It was like the chef came out and said, "Which one do you want?" And, I go, "Okay, I'll have that one," and he goes, "It's the best one…" You know what I mean? It was a surprise… I actually love doing it. And, people's faces… When we come out of the floor, that slow rise out, there's not a better job in the city! There isn't. You're coming out on an automation on the back of a rake in the Winter Garden, and you've got a tri-spot—three pin-spots on you—and that audience jumps up… Every night I have hair on the back of my neck stand up—every night. I wish you could be in that costume with me! I mean that because it feels like, "Wow. This is what Elvis must have felt like." [Laughs.] You know what I mean? You can't believe. It's everything that you wish a Broadway show would do… When I did The Wedding Singer, all of a sudden I remember John Rando going, "We need to have air just hit you…" And, a Broadway show can do that. You can't do that regionally. Regionally, I'm sure Linda has like a fan on her. But Broadway can go there. And, it was probably the most expensive thing they did in the set—this combustible air pin that came out of nowhere and just hit me. I was joking—I said, when we were in rehearsal, "I should have the air." He's like, "Yeah, we'll make it come out of the floor," and I was like, "Yeah, right!" [Laughs.] And then, when they did it, I was like, "Oh! Okay… That was a lot of money." And, that's Broadway. You want to have that experience on Broadway, and that is the payoff at the end of [Mamma Mia!]—coming out of the floor. Coming out of the floor—it's a rush! It's a rush.



Continued...

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