DIVA TALK: Glory Crampton, Leslie Kritzer, Julie Reiber, Josefina Scaglione, Natalie Toro and Rachel York's NYMF Chats

By Andrew Gans
July 13, 2012

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



This week spotlights six more women who are featured in the 2012 New York Musical Theatre Festival, which runs through July 29 at various venues around the city. Diva Talk posed the same set of questions to each talented artist; their answers follow.

(To read last week's interviews with Catherine Cox, Michelle Federer, Anika Larsen, J. Elaine Marcos, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Melissa van der Schyff, click here.)

Glory Crampton
Foreverman at the PTC Performance Space
July 24-26

How did you get involved with this production?
Glory Crampton: I got a call from my manager for an audition for the project.

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
GC: This is my first.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
GC: Anna is humorous, determined and loving. She knows she is dying, and is trying to make sure the people she loves are ready for her to go, and taken care of....both emotionally and financially.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
GC: I think there are many themes in this show people can relate to. Understanding the cycle of life, living the best life you can, loving unconditionally, forgiveness, making choices we regret, consequences of having others make decisions for us, testing fate, love that is much bigger than us…

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
GC: I think it is important that we always celebrate new writers, and NYMF gives so many people the chance to work on, and see what they have envisioned come to life onstage. It gives them the chance they may not otherwise have had to have their work seen and heard. There is something about this process that is so gratifying for me as an actress to know that I am helping with that process. It's different than doing a show that is already being fully produced..... so much of the writers hearts are invested here, you can feel the excitement in the room.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform?
GC: Hmmm? I don't know, but a role that is smart, mischievous, sexy, spirited and funny. Any suggestions?

Do you have any other projects in the works?
GC: I am in negotiations right now for something, which I can't mention yet... I recently did a Mufti musical called The Game of Love at The York Theatre by Tom Jones & Nancy Ford. I have a lot of concerts booked for my one-woman show I am touring with, which is based on my new CD "Unusual Way" which was recorded with the National Symphony. I was also a part of the cast of Death Takes a Holiday at The Roundabout, which just received 11 Drama Desk nominations.

Leslie Kritzer

Leslie Kritzer
A Letter to Harvey Milk at the Pershing Square Signature Center
July 23-28

How did you get involved with this production?
Leslie Kritzer: I have been working on this show for a few years now. Ellen Schwartz had asked me to do a reading of another show of hers for the Fringe festival back in 2002, and we have been friends ever since. When this show came about, she thought I would be perfect for the part and wanted me to do it.

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
LK: Judas and Me.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
LK: I play a Jewish lesbian writing teacher. She is warm, funny and wants to know more about her past including her hero, Harvey Milk.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
LK: I think there have been a lot of things written about Harvey Milk, but this is completely different. It's not just about him. It's about friendship between two people that under normal circumstances would probably never meet and create the bond that they do. Harvey Milk is part of the bond that brings them together. In doing so they uncover things about themselves.

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
LK: I think it's a great way for new writers to get their work seen. It's difficult to get musicals produced unless it's a big commercial show. This allows writers to show their work and have audiences come and enjoy it without it necessarily having the pressure of a major production. Then they can see where the show is at, continue to work on it and then hopefully get future productions of it done.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform?
LK: Well, there are a few, but the first one that jumps out is Fanny Brice in Funny Girl and Dot in Sunday in the Park with George.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
LK: I'm doing my Jule Styne concert Hello Gorgeous up at Barrington Stage Company July 30. Come and see me!!!

Read more about Leslie Kritzer at the Playbill Vault.

Julie Reiber

Julie Reiber
Stealing Time at the PTC Performance Space
July 15-16

How did you get involved with this production?
Julie Reiber: My friend Eden Espinosa, I've worked with [her] in Brooklyn and Wicked, had to bow out and referred them to me. Anything she is doing is worthy of doing for sure, so I was happy to jump in.

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
JR: I've wanted to do something in NYMF, but I've always been busy with other projects, so I'm happy to say this is my NYMF debut!

How would you describe the character you're playing?
JR: Maya is a woman who is going through the motions in her life right now. Her relationship has lost its love and support and is somewhat emotionally abusive. She's lost her way with herself and who she is. She's known she needed to move on for a while, but has not had the strength and has wanted to stay for her child. When she meets Ben, she not only falls in love, but is re-inspired to her own life. Motivated again to live for herself as well as others and gains the strength to make choices she needs for her life to be full again and move forward.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
JR: Well, the music is wonderful and the cast is stellar so that can't hurt. But even more so, I think the story and content is important. The topic of infidelity touches a lot of folks, but isn't talked about so much. But this show is about much more than that. It's about people finding themselves again and making the right choices for themselves so they can be full again in life, themselves and love.

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
JR: We need now, more than ever, new, unique, thoughtful musicals. I love me a movie musical, but I much prefer a brand-new idea from brave, talented writers that are willing to put ideas out there and take that risk. So I hope NYMF only gets bigger and stronger with more and more new musicals evolving from its doors.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform?
JR: Ah. Well...new musicals and creating roles is my favorite thing to do, but I would still love to play Evita someday. What an incredible woman/character to portray.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
JR: I'll be doing a one-night reading of one of my favorite pieces, The Last Five Years, on Aug. 3 in the Hamptons. I'm working on a demo for a new musical called Dillinger, and I'm also most importantly hard at work on my own new project of creating a human! I'm five months pregnant and so excited about my new role of Mom... so I'd say that will be taking up most of my time in the immediate future.

Read more about Julie Reiber at the Playbill Vault.

Josefina Scaglione

Josefina Scaglione
Hungarian Nights at the 45th Street Theatre (Upstairs)
July 24-26

How did you get involved with this production?
Josefina Scaglione: I got involved in this production by the hand of the wonderful composer Cheryl Kemeny, whom I had the pleasure to meet through my dear friend Kyle Brenn, who worked with me during our West Side Story run on Broadway.

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
JS: This is the first NYMF production I am part of, and I have to say I am very excited about it.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
JS: Illona is a passionate, curious and vibrant young woman.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
JS: The music is fantastic and the story invites us all to dream about passion, rebirth and endless love.

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
JS: Because it supports and develops new visions, new ideas. It's a smart and wonderful way of connecting people.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform?
JS: Sally Bowles in Cabaret or Maureen in Rent.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
JS: I recently participated in the movie "Hairbrained" directed by Billy Kent, which should be coming out soon. We'll see what comes next!

Read more about Josefina Scaglione at the Playbill Vault

Natalie Toro

Natalie Toro
Zapata! The Musical at the Pershing Square Signature Center
July 24-29

How did you get involved with this production?
Natalie Toro: My agents called me with an appointment to audition. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the breakdown for this character. Her age was 60 years old. I went in for the audition, and I felt like it went really well. I called my agents afterwards and asked if this was where my career was going? We had a good laugh, and then I booked it!

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
NT: This is the first time I ever auditioned for NYMF.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
NT: Well, we pretty much started rehearsals a little more than a week ago. We learned music the first few days, then the director, Elizabeth Lucas, came to rehearsal. I walked over to her and asked her in my meekest voice and for those of you who know me, that's unusual, and asked if I was really playing a 60 year old. And, she said absolutely not. You play your age. Cool!

Senora Espejo is the mother of Zapata's wife, Josefa. And if you don't know who he is, he was a real person. Lived in a small town of Morelos, Mexico, in the early 1900's and became the revolutionary for the people to gain back their land that was stolen. He was like the "Eva Peron" of Mexico. The arc for this mother starts out liking him and is filled with joy seeing how her daughter is completely in love with him. As they are courting, all this drama does down. To protect himself and the army of men who follows and fights with him, he becomes wanted by the law. This changes everything for Senora. She is very protective of her daughter, after all, it is the 1900's and now there is a war. During the war, Senora realizes how gentle of a man he is to his daughter after a certain tragedy and changes her mind and actually becomes a Zapatista herself, a female soldier, and joins him and his fight.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
NT: First, it's an epic piece in a full production with a lot of passion and folkloric dancing. It's a piece that inherently still deals with a lot of today's issues, human rights and equal rights. The play starts out in present day, and then we go back to Zapata's time and we see that humans still haven't really evolved. I think what people will get out of this musical is that the fight is for "what you love" and not for "what you hate."

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
NT: Being a "newbie" to NYMF, I really didn't have a clue to the impact of what NYMF really was until I did the press conference on July 3rd. Yeah, I knew it was an opportunity for new works to be developed and such. But the passion of the people starting from the execs at the top to all the people that make a production a production, blew me away. I mean, the bottom line is it's about the work. And the daily commitment I see all around me, not only in my rehearsal room but other NYMF shows that are rehearsing in the same building, makes me feel blessed to be a part of this new experience.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform?
NT: I would love to be Dolly in Hello, Dolly! And, also in Gypsy and Once Upon a Mattress, as the leading lady, of course.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
NT: Just booked In The Heights in Salt Lake City, Utah, and filming two episodes of a webseries called "Child of The Seventies" out in L.A.

Read more about Natalie Toro at the Playbill Vault

Rachel York

Rachel York
Stealing Time at the PTC Performance Space
July 15-16

How did you get involved with this production?
Rachel York: Tor Hyams, the composer of Stealing Time has been a friend and collaborator for many years. He produced my first solo album, "Let's Fall in Love." In fact, one of my favorite tracks on the album, "Too Good To Be True," is an original composition written by Tor. When he called and asked me to be involved in Stealing Time, it was a no-brainer.

What other NYMF productions have you been a part of?
RY: Last year, I took part in a musical called Ghostlight, which was my first NYMF production.

How would you describe the character you're playing?
RY: Early on in her life, the character I'm portraying, Maya, had a successful modeling career. She has the inherent ability to fill a room with light, charm and positivity. In her early twenties, Maya gave up her career after meeting Thomas (her future husband). Thomas wasn't supportive of her modeling career as it conflicted with his vision of where their lives should go. Now, 13 years later, she deeply questions her decision. Where there was once an abundance of confidence, her husband's controlling behavior has contributed to Maya's low self-esteem. Maya feels trapped and unable to grow as a person. When she meets Ben, she finds love, inspiration and awakening. This is her journey.

Why do you think audiences should attend this particular production?
RY: I find the subject matter to be a window into the human condition. There will be those in the audience that can relate to Maya's struggle to regain her self, and consequently, appreciate her emotional journey towards self-realization and the growth that ultimately ensues.

Why do you think NYMF is so important?
RY: NYMF is an important vehicle for courageous writers to develop new works that otherwise wouldn't have a platform. It gives writers, actors, designers and audiences an opportunity to take risks and experience theatre in an organically raw setting.

NYMF celebrates new musicals, but which role in a classic musical would you most like to perform?
RY: I would welcome the opportunity to play Anna in The King and I again. I had the opportunity to take on the role last year in a beautiful production at The Walnut Street Theater and enjoyed the experience immensely. A role that is not in the cards for me (for obvious reasons), but one that I have always loved and appreciated, is Maria in West Side Story. As much as I enjoy the classic musicals, though, I find creating roles in new musicals, the most fun and fulfilling of opportunities.

Do you have any other projects in the works?
RY: I am excited to be playing Reno Sweeney in the first national tour of Kathleen Marshall's Tony Award-winning revival of Anything Goes, which kicks off in Cleveland this October.

Read more about Rachel York at the Playbill Vault

Visit NYMF.org.

Well, that's all for now. Diva Talk will return July 27. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.

Photos from the NYMF Opening Gala:

View the Entire Photo Gallery
Natalie Toro, Enrique Acevedo and Maria Eberline
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN