PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: The People in the Picture's Nicole Parker

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: The People in the Picture's Nicole Parker
Nicole Parker, currently starring in Roundabout's production of the new musical The People in the Picture, fills out's questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Nicole Parker
Nicole Parker

Parker made her Broadway debut in Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me and later went on to play Elphaba in Wicked.

Other theatre credits include Rosemary in How to Succeed… (Reprise!) and Juliet in The Second City's Romeo and Juliet Musical (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Jeff nomination).

For six years, Parker was a cast member and contributing writer on Fox’s "MADtv" and recently appeared in the film "Funny People." She is a founding member of Waterwell Theater Company.

Full given name: Nicole Frances Parker
Hometown: Irvine, California
Zodiac Sign: Pisces
What your parents did/do for a living: My mom is a speech pathologist/college professor.
Special skills: Other than the mainstream impersonations I did on "MADtv," I wish I had been able to do my random ones... like Andie MacDowell or Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Something you're REALLY bad at: It is not pretty when I attempt a cartwheel.
First Broadway show you ever saw: Kiss Me, Kate with Marin Mazzie and Brian Stokes Mitchell. I had a standing room ticket. Loved every minute of it.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? Either the original company of Sweeney Todd, Angela Lansbury in Mame or Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl.
Current show you have been recommending to friends: Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Go see it. Phenomenal performances!
Favorite showtunes of all time: "Bill" from Show Boat
"If I Were a Bell" from Guys and Dolls
"Johanna" from Sweeney Todd, to me, is the most beautiful musical theatre song ever written.
Favorite modern musicals:

The Light in the Piazza
Spring Awakening
Into the Woods
Hairspray So many!

Favorite classic musicals: Guys and Dolls
42nd Street
On the Town
She Loves Me
How to Succeed


So many!!

Star of the past you would most have loved to perform with:

Oh man... Madeline Kahn for sure. Jessica Tandy... Jerry Orbach... I think it would have been awesome to have been a guest on one of the variety shows where Carol Burnett or Judy Garland sat down and sang on stools.

Why isn't that done these days? There were always awesome women singing on TV on stools in cute matching outfits. Why isn't that happening anymore??!!!

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

There are a few! I will NEVER forget seeing the Kneehigh Theatre (they just did Brief Encounter on Broadway here at Studio 54) in their performance of The Red Shoes at the Edinburgh Festival years ago. Breathtaking storytelling. Then there is Patti LuPone in Gypsy of course, the entire cast of August: Osage County AND Fiona Shaw in Medea. I saw the final performance. Unbelievable. She was completely unbelievable.

Music that makes you cry, any genre:

Country music can make me cry. "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert? Forget it. I like to listen to Fiona Apple when I'm in a salty mood. But she can make you cry too. So can Sarah McLachlan... when her voice is accompanied in those commercials by overly depressing photos of cats and dogs behind fences.

Your personal vocal idols: Judy Kuhn!!!! Liz Callaway, Fiona Apple (again), Adele and Donna Murphy of course!
Your personal comedic idols: Gilda Radner, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, John Cleese (everyone from Monty Python), Catherine O'Hara, Stephnie Weir, Mo Collins
Most played song on your iPod: Right now it's Adele.
Most-visited websites:

thedailywhat/epicwin Aaaand Playbill! (for real)

Favorite Tweeters: Ike Barinholtz and Michael Hitchcock. I worked with them both on "MADtv" and their tweets are hysterical.
Last book you read: It was either Snooki's "It's a Shore Thing" or "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." They were so similar it's hard to remember.
Must-see TV shows: "Modern Family"
"30 Rock"
"The Soup"
"Top Chef"
And "Deadliest Catch" is the best television there is. There's a musical there...
Some films you consider classics: "Tootsie" is one of the funniest movies ever made. "The Princess Bride," "Singin' in the Rain," "A Streetcar Named Desire," "The Sting"... I could go on!!!
Performers you would drop everything to go see: Harry Connick, Jr.
Bette Midler
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Those Real Housewives keep sucking me back into their world of fancy brunches and confusing fights...
Three favorite cities: Chicago, New York, Amsterdam
Favorite sport/team/player:

I LOVE basketball. Growing up in California I've always been a Lakers fan, but I'd have to say my all-time favorite player was Larry Bird, which is crazy because of the Cetics/Lakers rivalry. But when I was a kid both teams were just SOOO amazing. As a kid, I had a poster of Larry on my wall next to my framed albums of Mame and Fiddler on the Roof. That's how I roll.

First CD/Tape/LP you owned:

Honestly the first two CDs I bought with earned money were the soundtrack to "The Little Mermaid" movie and the soundtrack to "Top Gun." Just listen to "Highway to the Danger Zone" and see if you don't get motivated to go do your next activity really hard.

When you first realized you could sing: At my first recital for an acting class I took at age seven
First stage kiss:

Corey Blue, sophomore year of high school. He was Lysander, I was Hermia. It was also my second kiss ever in life. Typing that out was more depressing than I thought it would be.

Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager:

I remember playing Betty Parris in The Crucible at South Coast Repertory in California. The cast was incredible, so I learned a lot from just being around them. But I had to be asleep in a bed for about twenty minutes on stage for some very intense scenes. I got spit on a bunch. I also have to say playing the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods in high school was a blast... until one night when I pulled Rapunzel's hair, and the poorly-made tower fell over with Rapunzel in it.

She passed out, I ran over to her, the sound guy got her off the stage, and the paramedics came... all while the show continued. And then she finished the show! That was definitely memorable.

Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: Actually it was the same recital where I realized I could sing. I just remember hearing laughter and that immediate exciting response from the audience and I realized that's where I wanted to be for the rest of my life.
How you got your Equity card: I got my Equity card in a children's production of The Magic Flute in Burbank. I played Pamina. Paul Vogt from Hairspray and "MADtv" was in it with me!
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: I do love VYNL and Eatery, and I love Sosa for a post-show drink!
Favorite liquid refreshment: The Pomtini at Sosa is pretty great, but a cold Stella always does the trick. Other than that, I love nothing more than plain old water.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: A little yoga and a vocal warm-up, and I like to get to theatre early to hang out with people.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap:

This happened recently, and I have NEVER done anything like this before so I'm super embarrassed. Last spring I was playing Rosemary in Reprise's How to Succeed, with Josh Grisetti, who was fabulous. It was our final show, in the second act. The first number is "Cinderella, Darling," and after it there is a tiny scene with Ponty and Rosemary that I always had to remind myself about.

Well, Vicki Lewis, who was Smitty, is awesome, and we would always come off stage together and we were particularly involved in a conversation about something that had happened at intermission so much so that I followed her back to our dressing room, and started to change into my NEXT COSTUME.

All of a sudden, the door flew open with about three panicked crew members yelling, "Nicole!!!! You're on!!!!"

Meanwhile, Josh had been out on stage in his office just killing time by making fake phone calls to his secretary saying, "Can you please send Rosemary to the stage please?" The audience was loving it, but I am horrified this happened. I was so panicked I ran out the stage without shoes and without being zipped up in the back.

Worst costume ever:

I think it would have to be a children's play I did as a teenager, about a little girl who was a genius that went on adventures around the world like Indiana Jones. I was not the genius girl, I played a bunch of the crazy characters she ran into. The worst costume was literally the tentacle of a giant squid, whom she fights in the ocean. It was made from a gigantic blanket-type thing with a giant stick inside, that I had to sway back and forth to "fight" with her.

I am positive the material had asbestos in it. The worst was when I watched a video of it, I had shuffled the tentacle too far onto the stage, so that you could see it wasn't attached to anything. I was just a disembodied tentacle waving about on stage. Memorable.

Worst job you ever had: Probably nannying on the Upper East Side. It just depressed me. Not as much as the cats and dogs you see when you hear Sarah McLachlan.
Who would play you in the movie? Ellen DeGeneres. It's only fair, right?
Celebrity impersonations you are most proud of:

I think I did a pretty good Ellen DeGeneres, Celine Dion, Nancy Grace and Julie Andrews. But I was most happy with James Blunt, when they put me in a prosthetic male chest and a beard and we did his "You're Beautiful" video. I looked so weird and freaked out all the crew guys when I tried to hug them dressed like that.

Favorite "MADtv" character you created: Probably Disney Girl, a crazy girl who lives in a bad part of town, but she dresses like Snow White and lives in her own special world where the gang members and hookers are her friends.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, Mother in The Who's Tommy and someday I'd love to play Edie in Grey Gardens!
Leading man role you wish you could play: Tommy in The Who's Tommy, Sweeney Todd, Max Bialystock.
Something about you that surprises people: People are horrified when they see how many emails have gone undeleted in my inbox. They act like I'm a hoarder.
Career you would want if not a performer: I think being in development for television would be fun, because you get to make decisions and still be creative. I also think being a college professor would be pretty great.
Three things you can't live without: My fiance, my dog, the "Top Gun" soundtrack
"I'll never understand why…" ... people can't be happy for one another more often.
Words of wisdom for aspiring performers? Every experience, good or bad, is a learning experience. Just always do your job, know your stuff, be kind to your colleagues, and commit!
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