Lesli Margherita, making her Broadway debut as Mrs. Wormwood in Matilda The Musical, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
She received the Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in Zorro the Musical in London’s West End. A
California native, her national tour/regional credits include Kiss Me, Kate; Show Boat; Man of La Mancha; The Grönholm Method; Little Shop of Horrors; Spamalot; Grease; Aida; West Side Story and See What I Wanna See.
Her nightclub act All Hail the Queen has played to soldout crowds in NY/L.A.
Full given name:
Lesli Michelle Margherita
Where you were born/where you were raised:
Born in San Jose, CA, raised in Fremont, CA. Woo Hoo Cali!
Taurus. Total. Taurus.
What your parents did/do for a living:
My dad is retired, he was a masonry contractor. He actually built the
theme park theater I performed in during high school. My mom is an
awesome stay-at-home/proud stage mom.
3 older sisters. Lisa, Lynn and Lora. I knowÖ the L thing.
Current audition song/monologue:
I will do anything humanly possible to get out of singing my own song at an audition. I like singing from the score.
But, since it never
seems to work, I usually sing "Gorgeous" from The Apple Tree and
"Umbrella" as a ballad. Yes, the Rihanna one.
At my first Matilda audition, they looked through my book and had me do the end of "My Strongest Suit" from Aida, which range-wise is close to "Loud."
Fantastic, now Iíve just given away my songs. Thanks, Playbill.
Seriously, I have none. Wait- Iím an amazing online shopper. Oh, and
I bedazzle. I can bedazzle anything. And do. Judge away.
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Anything domestic. My poor husband. I canít cook, and canít clean. I
once put laundry detergent in the dishwasher. True story. The dishes
smelled nice, though.
Did you have any particular mentors or inspirations when first
My ballet teacher Yoko Young gave me whatever technique I have
today, and gave me a strong work ethic. Later, it was Kenny Ortega,
who gave me my first TV job and taught me about performing for the
camera, as well as being grateful for every job you get. Even if it's a
First Broadway show you ever saw:
Jerome Robbins' Broadway. I LOVED it. An entire cast of triple
threats. I wanted to be them. Jason Alexander (who won the Tony for
it) has directed me now a couple of times in L.A. It was so cool to tell
him how much that show meant to me.
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
The original cast of A Chorus Line. They WERE those people.
Current show other than your own you have been recommending
Book of Mormon- Matt Doyle is a phenom.
Newsies- those boys are
Iím also telling peeps to look out for First Date: The Musical
this summer. I workshopped an early version, and itís really really funny.
Some favorite modern musicals:
I was a total Rent-head. The Producers, Spamalot. Love Wicked.
Some favorite classic musicals:
Man of La Mancha; Kiss Me, Kate. I know they arenít totally old, but
Evita and Dreamgirls are my faves.
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
Carol Burnett, Madeline Kahn, Lesley Ann Warren. I mean, come on.
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead:
Donít laugh. Iím a Celine freak. Iíll NEVER sound like her, Iím just
saying publicly that I love her.
The one performance Ė attended - that you will never forget:
In keeping with the mortifying Celine theme, my husband surprised
me and we flew to Vegas to see her concert. I kid you not, she took
one step on stage, and I started bawling. Loudly. My husband could
not have sunk down in his seat further.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
Reggae. I hate it so much that I will cry if itís playing anywhere.
MAC or PC?
What's a PC?
Most played song on your iPod:
It started as a joke but if I needed a boost before something big, I
played "Eye of the Tiger" loudly. During previews, Iíve needed it a lot,
D Listed for celeb gossip that makes me scream laugh.
Divatress (you read that correctly) for the insane amount of extra hair
Last book you read:
Iím a bookworm, bookworm, stupid little bookworm (see Matilda). I
read a ton, and Iím also a proud YA (young adult) fan. Just finished
the last in the "Maze Runner" series. I recommend. "Hunger Games"-ish.
Must-see TV show(s):
"Game of Thrones"
Oh yeah, and "The Vampire Diaries." Go ahead, judge me again. You canít
go wrong with hot Vampires. Just saying.
Some films you consider classics:
MY classics: The ORIGINAL "Star Wars" Trilogy. "Tootsie." All of the
Brat Pack films of the 80ís. The Indiana Jones movies (the first three,
the last one was a little boo).
Performer you would drop everything to go see:
Bette Midler. Who is at the theatre next to ours. She is literally steps
away from me. My stalking possibilities are high.
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
"Dance Moms," "Drag Race," "Toddlers and Tiaras" and yesÖ The
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
The first LP I ever had was "Barry Manilow LIVE!" I loved him. HmmÖ
says a lot about me, really.
What are some of your most memorable roles as a kid or
teenager and how old were you?
From about 10-12, I screlted ďTomorrowĒ in every Annie production I
could. I then moved on to playing Peter Pan a bunchÖ until I looked
like I was smuggling two lost boys under my shirt. I went from Peter
Pan to Peronís Mistress in 6 months.
First stage kiss:
I was 15, playing Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street. The guy opposite me
was in his 20s. I thought my father was gonna go ďGodfatherĒ on
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
I saw Annie in San Francisco when I was 7. I remember one of
the orphans messed up a step, and I was like, ďUgh. Seriously? I
wouldnít.Ē Hahaha. (Side note: I have since messed up MANY. Karma.)
How you got your Equity card:
I was a freshman in college, and I did a show at Disneyland that
gave it to me. Toontown gave me my card. Fitting.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal:
Well, I've never lived in NY before this, so I'm still finding
places. In London, I became a Pret A Manger junkie. I have
continued the tradition here. I canít eat a ton before a show, or I
will barf during "Loud."
After the show, I love Bar Centrale for the people-watching, and I love Becco for the spaghetti. (Iím Italian, I gotta.)
Favorite liquid refreshment:
Wine. Umm, I also like wine. Oh, and wine.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:
I warm up with the kids in the show. Most of us do, actually. Itís
I canít believe Iím admitting this- I have a life-size Robert
Pattinson cutout in my dressing room (long story). Before I go
onstage, I have to touch him. WaitÖ this doesnít sound rightÖ
thatís not what I meanÖ
Most challenging role you have ever played:
There are two. Aldonza in La Mancha, and Inez, my role in
Zorro. It is a marathon. When I would (spoiler alert) get shot near
the end, I would crumple onstage (center, of course) and say ďoh
thank GodĒ because I could rest for a minute.
What are you most looking forward to, making your Broadway
debut after working so extensively around the country and
This has been such a long time coming. Iím a sap about it all.
My entire cast has been so amazing about it. They filmed me
going into the stage door for the first time (and crying), standing
onstage for the first time (and crying)Ö you get the picture. Lots
of crying. Iím looking forward to everything, signing up for all the
Broadway community events, being a Bway dork, honestly.
How did you get involved in this production?
A friend of mine in London sent me a message saying he had
just seen the show, and there was a role I needed to play. I knew
it was coming to Broadway, so I bought the cast recording.
I heard the song "Loud" once, drove to my friend's office, burst in on
her workday, and said, "I'll die if anyone else does this." (I'm not
dramatic or anything).
I basically went after it like a rabid dog. I
auditioned in NY and LA. Jim Carnahan and his casting office
were rock stars. It was a really long process over a few months. I was willing to do anything to get it. Rabid. Dog.
Were you familiar with the book previously?
Oh yeah. I am a big Dahl fan. I had read the book numerous times.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect of the
We are gonna need more space. I know I hit the performer
jackpot having this show be my Broadway debut. This team, and
this cast are EVERYTHING. I've never been in a show that I
have been completely in awe of as well.
Also, Iím very Mrs.
Wormwood-esque (the good parts), in that I love sparkles, big
hair, makeupÖso getting to play her is a dream, ha. I get to keep
my acrylic nails.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:
Ooh, so many.
1. I was doing a staged workshop, and we all entered behind a
scrim. As I walked behind it, my tights were a little twisted, so I
hiked my skirt up around my waist and tugged them around quite
violently before putting my skirt back down... nobody told me the
scrim was fully lit and see through.
2. The very first day of rehearsal for Zorro in London we were
doing choreography. Everyone was there and I raised my hand
and asked loudly, ďSorry, but is there any way to get me a
rehearsal skirt? I just canít wear pants when I dance.Ē There
was deafening silence. In Britain, ďpantsĒ is the word they use for
If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be?
Any member of the adult ensemble who gets to do "Revolting
Children." I peek from the back of the house every night and cry,
itís so good. I've just outed myself to stage management, haven't
Leading lady role you've been dying to play:
Velma in Chicago. Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Fred in Once
Upon A Mattress.
Everyone says it, I know, but I have to- Iím
dying to play Evita- although I thought my friend Elena Roger
Leading man role you'd like a shot at:
Please. There is no way I could play a man. There isn't enough
duct tape in the world to tape me down.
Something about you that surprises people:
I am a "Star Wars" fanatic. I had Stormtroopers at my black tie
Something you are incredibly proud of:
My nightclub act, "All Hail the Queen." (yeah, total plug. Deal with
My closest friends and I created it, and it will always be us
having a blast. Always. We have been nothing but true to what
weíve wanted to do onstage, and that is all that's important.
Write and create your own stuff. Even if you are scared to. Not
everyone is gonna like it, I guarantee. Everyone's a critic. But
who cares? You took a chance and created something, they
didn't. (Sticks tongue out, makes raspberry noise).
Career you would want if not a performer:
Writer. Although after reading this, you may disagree...
"I'll never understand whyÖ"
Ö some actors complain so much and call out of their shows when
they just don't feel like doing it. Boo. You work your whole life to
get to Broadway or wherever, you have to be grateful you get to
live your dream.
Donít you dare give anything less than 100%,
and be kind to everyone. Your reputation precedes you, and it's a
small business. Seriously, you are one bad attitude (or diva
tantrum) away from being the Hello Kitty in Times Square. Donít
Words of advice for aspiring performers:
Have a life. Show business is not your life. Itís what you do.
These are very different things.
Also, donít read message
boards. Especially when drinking. You will go down a shame
spiral no one can bring you back from. Well, maybe hot