|Photo by Monique Carboni|
Tony Award winner Priscilla Lopez, who created the role of Diana in the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line, is back on The Great White Way in the Tony-winning revival of Pippin at the Music Box Theatre. The acclaimed singing actress recently succeeded Annie Potts in the role of the wise, spirited (and high-flying) grandmother Berthe, the part created in this production by Tony winner Andrea Martin. Lopez, previously on Broadway in the Tony-winning In the Heights, has a long history with the Stephen Schwartz musical, having stepped into the role of Fastrada in the original Bob Fosse-directed Pippin in the early 70s. The celebrated artist, in fact, boasts a lengthy stage resumé that also includes a Tony-winning performance in A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine; a Drama Desk-nominated turn in the one-woman show Class Mothers '68, which allowed the actress to inhabit six diverse mothers of a graduating class of high school students; and roles in Company, Lysistrata, Nine and Pulitzer Prize-winning Nilo Cruz's play, Anna in the Tropics. I recently had the pleasure of catching up with the Broadway favorite, who spoke about her latest stage outing as well as her role in the new drama Somewhere, which was penned by her nephew, Matthew Lopez. That interview follows:
Question: How did this role come about for you?
Priscilla Lopez: Well, I guess, casting was looking to hire someone… through the regular channels – the agents, [and then] I auditioned for it.
Question: Had you seen the production?
Priscilla Lopez: I had not. I was away for some parts of the year and then I got back and I never got around to it. I heard a little bit about it, and I thought, "Well, you know, I could do that." And then, after I auditioned and after I got the role, I went to see the show and I thought, "Holy sh*t! What did I get myself into?!" [Laughs.]
Question: Did you know about the acrobatic stunts?
Priscilla Lopez: I did, but you know what I thought it was? My imagination went, "You know, she probably goes up on the trapeze and swings back and forth and goes back on her knees and swings back and forth and then comes up again." That's what I imagined in my head.
Priscilla Lopez: It's been quite a challenge. I thought, "Well, I'm a dancer. I'm strong." And, yes, I did dance, but I haven't danced in a long time, and I'm not as strong as I thought I was. One, I hadn't been using the muscles I would have been using as a dancer, let alone the ones I needed to do this. So I was in a state of shock. I thought, "I can't believe I'm that weak. I cannot believe I'm that weak." And they kept saying, "It'll be better! You'll get stronger!" And I have! So I'm happy about that.
And, finally, last week I nailed the acrobatic routine — now it will be a matter of consistency. One thing is trying to do it, [another] is understanding how to do it, and in your psyche be willing to do it. It's all of these things that have to come together at once. So, I’m happy to say that during last week's rehearsal, they all came together, and then I did it three times in a row. I thought, "Okay, if I can do it three times, then I can do this!" So I tried to give myself a break and relax and know it's going to be fine. Right after I talk to you, I'm going into the city to continue to rehearse. So first I'll head to Pearl Studios to rehearse the songs and the scenes and the little choreography for the opening, the Entr'acte and the Finale, and then I'll go to the theatre and work on the trapeze, thankfully with my partner who will be doing it with me.
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