PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Vineyard Theatre Arlington Star Alexandra Silber

Alexandra Silber stars in Victor Lodato and Polly Pen's new musical Arlington, which begins Feb. 12 at the Vineyard Theatre. The singing actress fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Alexandra Silber
Alexandra Silber

A native of Michigan, Silber graduated from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland shortly before making her West End debut as Laura Fairlie in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman in White. She would go on to play Hodel in The Sheffield Crucible’s 2007 production of Fiddler on the Roof, and its subsequent West End transfer, and portrayed Julie Jordan in Carousel at The Savoy Theatre in London.

Silber made her American acting debut again playing the role of Julie Jordan for Reprise Theatre Company in Los Angeles. She joined Tony Award winner Tyne Daly in Terrence McNally’s Master Class at The Kennedy Center and its subsequent Broadway transfer.

Other work includes The Young Wife in the Transport Group’s revival of Hello Again, Jenny Cavilerri in the North American premiere of Love Story the Musical at Walnut Street Theatre and Amalia Balash in She Loves Me at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts.

She recently made her San Francisco Symphony debut as Maria in concert performances of West Side Story opposite Cheyenne Jackson.

Name: Alexandra Michelle Silber
Where you were born/where you were raised: Born in Los Angeles. Raised outside Detroit, Michigan.
Zodiac Sign: Cancer.

Advertisement


Incidentally, I share a big Broadway birthday with Audra McDonald, Betty Buckley, Teresa McCarthy and Patrick Wilson. Something must be in the water 9 months before July 3.

What your parents did/do for a living: My father was an attorney and my mother a visual artist.
Special skills:

LOOK. Now I don’t wanna brag but… I write amazing lyrics to television-theme-songs-that-don’t-have- lyrics. "Alias," "Bones," "Lost," "Murder She Wrote," "Poirot"... And, did any of you catch all the hullabaloo with Richard Schiff and me last year with "The West Wing Song?" I think someone out there even started a Twitter handle for @TheWestWingSong. Epic.

Something you're REALLY bad at: Tap. I can’t even fake it from the waist up.
First Broadway show you ever saw:

The original cast of Ragtime. The company, the production, the experience itself were all of course beyond articulation. But it was more than that: It was a momentous, emotional trip for my family, one of the best memories of my life. It was Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS week, and members of the cast were holding buckets and selling merchandise in the lobby. I’ll never forget that my mother purchased me a poster signed by the company from Judy Kaye, who spoke to all of us for a little while. My father— somewhere between sheepishly and proudly— told her that I wanted to be an actress and singer. She looked me in the eyes for a lingering moment then said, “…You will.”

Last April, I made my Carnegie Hall debut with the legend that is Judy Kaye, and I’m happy to say that we’ve become colleagues as well as friends, and eventually I shared that memory with her.

Stories like that. That is what theatre is all about.

If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?

- The original 1938 production of Our Town - Tyne Daly in Gypsy

- Uta Hagen’s famous first performance on Broadway of Streetcar (when she stepped in from the touring company for Jessica Tandy), where she went on with Marlon Brando with only five minutes of rehearsal before the curtain went up... yeah.

Fire up that DeLorean!

Current show other than your own you have been recommending to friends: Rachel Bay Jones’ performance in Pippin
Favorite showtune(s) of all time:

Let me begin by saying that I have a very specific definition of what a "show-tune" IS, and believe you me: Anything does NOT "Go." A true Broadway showtune is more than merely a tune from a show—it must have pep, tunefulness, and vigor—it rallies those musical theatre troops in a singularly sensational, glittery fireball of razzle dazzle reminding you that it is time to start livin’. That there is no business like show business. A Show-tune is you and your family singing in the car.
A Show-tune is sung in the shower.

Can we all agree "Epiphany" from Sweeney Todd is not a sing-along in the car sort of number? For this reason: “Sunday,” “One Hand One Heart” and “Will He Like Me?” are not on the Show Tune list, and “Morning Glow,” “Camelot,” “It’s Today,” “There is Nothing Like a Dame,” and “The Lees of Old Virginia” ARE.

Now. LOOK. I don’t regularly have musical theater on my iPod. But whether or not I am rocking out to Mary Martin and her comrades, or have abandoned them for the likes of Johnny Cash, ONE SONG ALWAYS REMAINS. And that song, my friends, is...

"Run, Freedom, Run!"

I was shy about this when I shared a dressing "area" with Hunter Foster last year (doing Inner Voices), because I didn't know how to tell him how for two years the song was my alarm, or how often that tune had “got me going” in the morning, or how many times it had turned a bad day around.

This faux-revivalist-spiritual (complete with a cappella choir, tambourine, monumental modulations and Hunter quite possibly literally singing his face off) has its tongue so deep within its cheek, it has Ran-Freedom-Ran halfway to the Arctic...

Some favorite modern musicals: American Idiot destroyed me.
Some favorite classic musicals:

Classic musicals are my thang so this is tough. [*thinkthinkthink*] She Loves Me, Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly!, Carousel, 1776 and Show Boat.

Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: Mary Martin
Your personal performance idols, living or dead:

I admire many people, including: ⁃ Danny Kaye
⁃ Bea Arthur
⁃ Cate Blanchett
⁃ Maria Callas
⁃ Marcel Marceau
⁃ and Irene Pappas.

But I save the term idol for only one woman, and that is Dame Angela Lansbury.

The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:

WARNING: I’m offering this answer in numerical points to prevent you from having a stroke whilst reading. PICTURE IT:

1. In Seventh grade.
I went along to a
2. middle school production
of
3. The Sound of Music
at
4. Hillel Day School
because
5. my friend Shira (yes, really),
from
6. ballet class
was playing
7. Max Detweiller…
And five seconds after the curtain went up I realized the entire production was…
8. …in Hebrew.
It also happened to be
9. Groundhog Day.

…Scene.

MAC or PC? MAC
Most played song on your iPod: “Heaven When We’re Home” by The Wailin’ Jennys
Most-visited websites:

Hungoverowls.tumblr.com …Hungover. Owls.
[*She lets it sink in…*]

Get into it.

Favorite Tweeters:

Anika Chapin (@AnikaChapin). She is one of the few tweeters that can make me *actually* laugh out loud. Her thread is an uber-smart, super-witty, MENSA- level, anthropologic braniac-splosion of pop culture and musical theater. Just follow her.

Last book you read:

I’m a voracious reader but the last book I finished was "The Trickster’s Hat" by Nick Bantock. Nick Bantock is an author and visual artist (the author of the Griffin & Sabine Trilogies), my lifelong artistic idol. This is his latest book, which is a mischievous and thrilling study of (and guide through) the alchemical art of creativity.

Must-see TV show(s): This lady loves herself some crime drama… the real nitty-gritty vintage stuff. If it "looks like we gotta murder to solve"... I’m IN.
Some films you consider classics:

"What About Bob?" and "The Court Jester" (Cult classics? Are they cult classics if I am the only one in the cult? Dunno.)

Performer you would drop everything to go see: I have dropped everything to see Rebecca Luker.
Three favorite cities: Venice, Glasgow, Detroit
Favorite sport/team/player: All Detroit sports rile me profoundly. I love the Red Wings (hockey), but I’m a baseball lady down to the bone marrow (my dad was a phenomenal left-handed first baseman)- so without question my Detroit Tigers! I get very emotional about it.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: What’s an LP…? #kidding
What are some of your most memorable roles as a kid or teenager and how old were you?

Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker (I was 16) Amalia Balash in She Loves Me (17, in high school at Interlochen Arts Academy—opposite Michael Arden as Georg)

and

MISS HANNIGAN… I was 8. It was most likely an inappropriately accurate, gin- soaked carbon-copy of Carol Burnett’s performance down to the vocal inflection, but still…

First stage kiss:

I don’t remember. But certainly my most memorable stage kiss blunder was last summer in She Loves Me with Santino Fontana (a very old “Dear friend" from summer camp). We ran at each other at the just-wrong moment and totally botched the final kiss. Basically: I broke his face.
There was blood.
Then I apologized to Laura Osnes...

How you got your Equity card: Hilarious. I began my career in the West End for five years before I came to America for what I believed to be a short visit. Because I assumed I would eventually return to London, I didn’t join Equity for the two short projects (Carousel at Reprise and Master Class at the Kennedy Center) I was working on.

Advertisement


But by the time Hello Again at the Transport Group rolled around, I realized that my original 10-week “visit” to America had turned into a-year- and-a-half. Who was I kidding? I lived here. I walked into the Equity building… and ten minutes later I walked out with my Equity card. Okay fine, a touch anti-climactic, but that’s my story and I like it.

Most challenging role you have ever played: Helen in Howard Barker’s The Bite of the Night and Julie Jordan in the last West End revival of Carousel.
What has been the biggest challenge about this project? Aside from it being a kind of performance marathon, Arlington is an incredibly complex piece of text and music which requires me to be in optimum shape in every respect. Combine that with a difficult subject matter (and subsequent emotional gymnastics) and you’ve got a challenge on your hands…
Most fulfilling or fun aspect about the project:

… I love a challenge. Plus, working on it with the creative company I am keeping.

Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: [Sigh… Please see blood-soaked stage kiss above.]
Worst costume ever: Once upon a time I was a “spirit of the wood” in a Christmas pantomime in Glasgow in 2002. I’ll say the words UNITARD and FELT LEAVES and just let your imagination do the rest.
Craziest audition story:

- I have sung all three daughters’ parts of "Matchmaker"… with different voices for each daughter, plus played all the dialogue… with myself. - I have had someone say: “See we're gonna need you to create the physical comedy of the donkey yourself…”

- I have faked being English (in London), only to book the job and have to film it for three days… in New York… trapped in my English accent lie the whole time.

- I have mimed a blind girl being eaten by a werewolf.

But this one takes the cake:

When I auditioned for Master Class I—in utter seriousness—ACCIDENTALLY LOCKED MYSELF IN A UTILITY CLOSET at the studio. I might have missed the audition altogether had the casting director not come to GET ME OUT. True story.

Luckily that embarrassing tale of Sophie De Palma has a happy ending. smile

Mine.

Any upcoming or side projects you can talk about? I was honored to portray Maria in the first full-symphonic performance of West Side Story last year with the San Francisco Symphony (opposite the gorgeous Cheyenne Jackson as Tony). The recording is set to be released later this summer.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Hedda Gabler
Leading man role you'd like a shot at: Captain Hook. [*achem*]— hand down.
Something about you that surprises people: I am an introvert. Or, perhaps more accurately, a "shy extrovert."
Something you are incredibly proud of:

I’m a proud lady from the state of Michigan. I even made up a snazzy Michigan handshake called “Glove Love” (because Michigan is shaped like a mitten or a glove for those of you who might not be aware). It is super intense. I may or may not have Glove Loved with James Earl Jones (who is from Grand Rapids).

Career you would want if not a performer: I am so lucky to already have it: a teacher. I’m a Professor at Pace University and it is one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. I’m “Professor Silber!” Ha!
Three things you can't live without:

Honestly, there is nothing I “can’t live without.” But I really like watermelon, crime drama and red shoes.

"I'll never understand why…"

… Skeeter is in "The Muppet Babies" but not in "The Muppets." (Like: did she DIE?) … Britons say “The Menopause”

… the Snuggie is a thing

… theatres don’t do Ivanov more often?

Words of advice for aspiring performers: Success is not about what you do, it is about how you feel about what you do.