DIVA TALK: Chatting With NYMF Stars Susan Blackwell, Annie Golden, Rachel Stern and Allyson Tucker

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05 Jul 2013

Susan Blackwell
Susan Blackwell

News, views and reviews about the multi-talented women of the musical theatre and the concert/cabaret stage.

This week's column spotlights four of the women featured in the 2013 New York Musical Theatre Festival, which runs July 8-28 at various venues around the city. Diva Talk posed the same set of questions to each talented artist; their answers, via email, follow.

Susan Blackwell
Volleygirls at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center; July 15-27

How did you get involved with this production?
I did a reading of Volleygirls a few months ago, and I completely fell in love with the whole project--the creative team, the cast and the material. It brought me so much joy! And all that Volleygirls joy led me back to NYMF!

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
[title of show] played in the 1st Annual New York Musical Theatre Festival! Now, ten years later, I’m back with Volleygirls! It feels like coming home.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
Kim Brindell was a volleyball superstar in college. She made it all the way to the Olympics finals before making a terrible error during game point against Russia. She has lived in shame ever since--hiding her light under a bushel basket and teaching high school English. Volleygirls tells the story of how Kim and her team are freed from those fears that keep them guarded and small--all via the miraculous healing power of volleyball!

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
Because I have excellent taste in material! If you like my esthetic, I’m betting you’ll enjoy this show as much as I do. It will make you feel like you’ve ingested fizzy lifting drinks!

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
Because any organization that fosters new musicals and creates a forum for people to get their creative work into the world is super important in my book. Of course, I am biased.

Blackwell previews Volleygirls.
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform and why?
When I was in high school in rural Ohio, I used to lock myself in my farmhouse bedroom and put on Len Cariou’s makeup from Sweeney Todd. Picture me as a 17-year-old girl, face powdered, eyes bruised with shadow, holding a curling iron above my head, screaming 'At Last — My Arm Is Complete Again!!’ In summary, I think I’d be fantastic as Snoopy in Peanuts.

What is your most memorable onstage mishap?
Take your pick. I’ve peed myself on stage in front of an audience, broken both my arms, fallen down a flight of stairs during a curtain call. I’m the embodiment of elegance and grace onstage.

What was your most enjoyable theatrical experience of the season (as a member of the audience)?
I just saw The Explorers Club at Manhattan Theatre Club and I laughed my face off. Super Bonus: Lorenzo Pisoni, Jennifer Westfeldt and David Furr are superhot nerds--I plan on going back just so I can look at them for two more hours. Also, Pippin completely made my month--it was so full of life! Gypsy Snider’s circus work in that show blew my ass right off my body. Fun fact: did you know that Lorenzo Pisoni and Gypsy Snider are siblings? That’s one talented family, and their work has brought me great enjoyment this season.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
Why, yes! I recently started Susan Blackwell & Co. I’m partnering with likeminded, compassionate artists and thought leaders to deliver inspiring educational offerings aimed at freeing people’s creative self-expression. We’re traveling the world, teaching people to slay their creative vampires, yo! Get into it!!


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