PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: The "Fräulein Kost" of Broadway's Cabaret, Gayle Rankin

Gayle Rankin, making her Broadway debut as Fräulein Kost in the Roundabout revival of Cabaret, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Gayle Rankin
Gayle Rankin

Other stage work includes Tribes (Barrow Street/Mark Taper), Tony Kushner's The Illusion (Signature) and Brian Mertes' developmental production of The Seagull at Lake Lucille.

Rankin is a graduate of the Juilliard School: Group 40.

Full given name: Gayle Louise Rankin
Where you were born/where you were raised: Born in Paisley, Scotland and raised near Glasgow.
Zodiac Sign: Leo
Current audition song/monologue: The last song I auditioned with was "Love for Sale" by Cole Porter (for Cabaret) and the last monologue I auditioned with was to audition at Juilliard and that was Bedbound by Enda Walsh.
Special skills: Well… the accordion, now.
Something you're REALLY bad at: The accordion? No... I am an accordion beginner (I learned while in rehearsal with Maggie and Patrick, who are my musical mentors and the best teachers and the best in general).
First Broadway show you ever saw: Phantom of The Opera
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? Death of a Salesman
Current show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: Casa Valentina at MTC. I haven't seen it yet but I just KNOW it is going to be brilliant and I have a couple of exceptional friends in it.
Favorite showtune(s) of all time: "Don't Rain on My Parade”… classic. Basically anything from Joseph and Fiddler on the Roof.
Some favorite modern musicals: I read and listened to a lot of The Last Ship and it is very powerful. Also Fun Home.
Some favorite classic musicals: Fiddler on the Roof and Evita
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: Julie Harris, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich
Your vocal idols, living or dead: Judy Garland and Laura Marling
Music that makes you cry, any genre: Leonard Cohen. The more recent recordings of Johnny Cash. Laura Marling. Disney. The songs written by the kids from the 52nd Street Project.
MAC or PC? MAC
Most played song on your iPod: "Where I Live" written by the Artists of Lake Lucille and performed by Gabe Ebert and Yamacabra. Like... Taylor Swift, Iron and Wine.
Last book you read: "Goodbye to Berlin" stories by Christopher Isherwood
Must-see TV show(s): I love "Scandal." So much. I'm not even guilty about it.
Last good movie you saw: "Grand Budapest Hotel"
Some films you consider classics: "Kramer vs Kramer," "Calamity Jane," "Django," "House Boat," "A Streetcar Named Desire," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Allison Janney on Broadway
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Instagram
Three favorite cities: Glasgow. New York. Barcelona.
Favorite sport/team/player: I'm now a Red Sox fan for life. I have a Ted Williams t-shirt.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: The read-along double sided tape of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame." It came with a book and an Esmeralda crown.
First stage kiss: Tyrien Obahnjoko in Picnic in my first year at Juilliard.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Dracula in Dracula Spectacula
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: When I watched "The Wizard of Oz" and knew that I wanted to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" or when I used to stay up late at night to learn my lines for Dracula Spectacula and my mum would help me… and I was very into it. Or when I would force my dad to be my partner for couples synchronized swimming on holiday and took it TOO seriously.
How you got your Equity card: Tony Kushner's The Illusion. I was lucky lucky lucky enough to take over for Merritt Wever.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: (note where) I love Westerly Market before a show to get some soup or a macro meal, a smoothie or a juice maybe. Post-show I usually just go home and eat leftovers. Or if I do go out, Sosa Borella for fries and other things.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Coffee, and vodka soda with lime.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: Accordion practice. I warm up vocally and physically offstage before I go out onstage to warm up in our pre-show.
Most challenging role you have ever played: Most challenging and most fulfilling: it's a tie between two women in the same play Arkadina (my 4th year at Juilliard) and Nina (ongoing production at Lake Lucille).
When did you first see Cabaret? On screen. I saw the movie the night before my audition. I knew the musical and the songs but had never seen it.
Biggest challenge about this current project: Staying calm. I get over-excited and can hurt myself… cigar burns, bruises. I need to be very strong (in all senses of the word) to play this woman, which I know is something that we all need to nurture- that's always in practice and flux.
Most fulfilling or fun aspect about the project: I have great respect for everyone I work with. Everyone takes on a lot of responsibility in this show, we have fun and there is a great deal of support and hard work.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: Just the other day I COULD NOT FIND THE FIRST NOTE OF THE CHORD TO START MY SONG! On the accordion I saw white dots when I looked down at the keys. Eventually I had to take a deep breath and say (as Kost) "I am going to start again." That was scary and thrilling. And everyone's energy was so positive for me and we all got it done. smile
If you could trade roles/tracks with anyone in the show for a week, who would it be? Sally. No question. It is such a tough role and, watching Michelle be so brilliant, it can't help but inspire me to want to tackle the role one day.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Masha in Three Sisters, any of Sam Shepard's women, Little Edie in Grey Gardens, Runt in Disco Pigs
Leading man role you'd like a shot at: Iago in Othello, Pale in Burn This… there are lots.
Something about you that surprises people: I can't tell the time.
Something you are incredibly proud of: My friends. I feel very proud to know so many relentless, honest and talented people and have them close to me. It sounds cheesy but that's the truth.
Three things you can't live without: Aeroplanes, music and reality checks
"I'll never understand why…" … life is the way it is and why people are the way they are. But that's why I do what I do - to try and at least try and illuminate or explore or scratch the surface of understanding what being a human is. We'll keep trying.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Be bold. That sounds general but it's not. Boldness and bravery has helped me on my journey and it is the only thing I think I can offer as advice. The rest of it is doing what you think is right in every circumstance with as much kindness to yourself and others as is available.