PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Once Cast Member Katrina Lenk
By Matthew Blank
January 28, 2014
Katrina Lenk, who currently plays Réza in the Tony-winning musical Once, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Lenk has appeared on Broadway in The Miracle Worker and as Arachne in Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark.
Other stage work includes Last Dance (York Theatre), Camille (Bard SummerScape), Lost Land (Steppenwolf Theatre), iWitness (Mark Taper Forum), Elemeno Pea, Cloudlands, Caucasian Chalk Circle (South Coast Repertory) and the title role in Lovelace: A Rock Opera (L.A. Weekly and Garland Award winner).
Where you were born/where you were raised:
Illinois, Iowa, then Illinois again.
What your parents did/do for a living:
My dad was a systems analyst for several computer companies, and now runs his own home inspection business. My mum was/is a part-time secretary, and an all-around genius.
One brother, who is a music aficionado and accountant.
Current audition song/monologue:
Oy, that depends on the situation. Though I really appreciate getting to prepare material from the actual project.
I get a kick out of doing all kinds of dialects, dork dork dork.
Something you're REALLY bad at:
Going to sleep before 3 AM.
First Broadway show you ever saw:
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
It wasn't on Broadway, but I would've loved to have seen Judi Dench in Cabaret.
Current show other than your own you have been recommending to friends:
Pippin and Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
Favorite showtune(s) of all time:
Erm, I don't have a favorite but I'm a sucker for any old school stuff- Cole Porter, Gershwin, Bernstein... and then there's Hedwig and the Angry Inch, particularly "Origin of Love." Gets me right in the sternum, it does.
Some favorite modern musicals:
Well, Once, of course! Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Sweeney Todd.
Some favorite classic musicals:
On the Town, West Side Story, 42nd Street, Top Hat, American in Paris (can't beat those old movie musicals), Guys and Dolls, yes even Ooooooooooooooklahoma…
Broadway or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with:
Gene Kelly. Fred Astaire. Frank Sinatra. Rosalind Russell. Buster Keaton. Jimmy Stewart. Vincent Price, weeee!
Your personal performance idols, living or dead:
Marlene Dietrich. Sir Ian McKellen. Gene Wilder. And come to think of it, everyone in the cast of Once, as well as in Spider-Man. To get to watch professionals everyday, every show, turn in a spectacular heartfelt performance is constantly inspiring.
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget:
Mark Rylance in Twelfth Night several years ago in Los Angeles. And Mikhail Baryshnikov dancing in his White Oaks Dance Project. Greyhyyargh!! I wanted to tape my eyelids open so as not to miss a moment of either of those.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
Aaargh, Damien Rice, that bugger. Also, usually Ravel, some Borodin, or Tchaikovsky will do the trick.
MAC or PC?
Most played song on your iPod:
There sure is a LOT of Radiohead on my iPhone. Also really digging Cesaria Evora these days.
Last book you read:
"12 Years a Slave" (Psst. Better than the movie.)
Must-see TV show(s):
"Girls," "Orange is the New Black," "Mob City," "Walking Dead"
Sometimes I look at the discarded People magazines in the greenroom. Why god why?!!
Three favorite cities:
New York, Chicago, London
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
Oh jeysus who can remember back that far? Might have been that German band Nena ..."99 Luftballons." When are THEY making a comeback?
What are some of your most memorable roles as a kid or teenager and how old were you?
Goody Proctor in The Crucible when I was 16 (I had no idea what "I cannot judge you, John" meant, though I really tried).
Also memorable was my high school musical West Side Story wherein I passionately wanted to play Maria and was instead given Anita- oh how I wept! But the free-wheeling, sexually-liberated woman was born. Hallelujah! Wait, what?
First stage kiss:
Same West Side Story as mentioned above. I was Anita (me, weird girl) and I had to kiss Bernardo (him, popular boy) in front of the entire school. Over 2,000 teenagers. Sigh.
Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living:
I can't pinpoint this moment. It has just always been there, I think? Oh my poor parents.
How you got your Equity card:
I worked for a long time acquiring points doing Equity theatre in the midwest. I think it was a production of La Cage in Chicago that finally put me into full union status. And full drag status. Did I just say that?
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: (note where)
One that doesn't give me GAAAAASSSSS.
Favorite liquid refreshment:
Water. Jeez that's boring. I also really like whiskey. And scotch. And red wine. And tequila. And a martini. Thanks.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:
I haven't got anything ritualistic. Save for trying to get my damn face on in time for places.
Most challenging role you have ever played:
Linda Lovelace in Lovelace: A Rock Opera
Craziest audition story:
Well I haven't got a crazy story but here's a stupid one: auditioning for a spy in a dramatic film. Eastern European director, with accent and utmost seriousness, in a black leather jacket: "Can you move eyes more like spy, move them left and right, like this?" (moving his eyes left and right, like a Felix the Cat clock). And I DID.
What has been the biggest challenge about this project?
Hmm. The biggest challenge I'm finding in every project is wrestling with my own head- add to this the complication of playing an instrument, and oh lord help me.
Most fulfilling or fun aspect about the project:
Getting to play with a bunch of fiercely talented musician/actors who have also become some of my favorite people.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:
One time in a production of Cabaret, as Sally explaining Ernst's whole smuggling business, I blanked, lost all motor control, cracked an entire raw egg by mistake into Cliff's glass, and hollered the word "HORNSWOGGLED!" in such a confident way that it must be sufficient to end the story. I was devastated and Cliff had to guzzle the raw egg but no one seemed to notice. Which in a way is kind of worse, isn't it?
Worst costume ever:
'Twas for a dance number in a Christmas music revue. And I say this with much love. We were clad in shiny white lycra unitards (unfortunately unintentionally see-thru) that had flying-squirrel-like extra fabric between the arms and legs in an attempt to make us look like snowflakes.
Also, I believe we had gold wrapping paper bows attached to said unitard. And top hats. At one point we had to scoot on our butts in this dance. We did not look like snowflakes. But boy did we laaaaaaugh.
Worst job you ever had:
I've kinda lucked out here. The worst one was maybe cleaning toilets at a movie theatre. But I was so glad to be getting a paycheck I didn't really mind that much.
Any upcoming or side projects you can talk about?
Well, there's my solo music project, which is constantly morphing, but these days is kind of like a sung-thru one woman show thing. I dunno. It's called Moxy Phinx. I write, produce, record and arrange all the music and design the "costumes" and direct and perform it all solo so I weep every time I am in preparation for a gig: Whose idea was this anyway?! Oh right. Mine.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play:
Mary Queen of Scots
Leading man role you'd like a shot at:
Richard III. Also, James Bond.
Something about you that surprises people:
I have an often crippling battle with self-doubt. Sigh. But maybe that's not surprising to anyone at all. More than likely, people would be surprised to hear that I think they would be surprised to hear that I often have a crippling battle with self-doubt.
Something you are incredibly proud of:
That I finally finished this questionnaire!
Something you're embarrassed to admit:
That it took me a week to finish this questionnaire!
Career you would want if not a performer:
Three things you can't live without:
Laughing. My best friend. Music.
Words of advice for aspiring performers:
Try to be a good person as much as you try to be a good performer.