(l to r) Kelli O’Hara, Lindsay Mendez, Becca Blackwell
The Broadway Blog spoke to some of the best theater professionals in the business in 2019. Some of our favorites included Kristin Chenoweth, Becca Blackwell, Stephen Brackett, Kelli O’Hara, Casey Nicholaw and more. Read them all!
From YouTube stars and Tony Award winners to Broadway directors, we chatted with some of the most prolific theater professionals in the biz. Wondering what they had to say? Check out 10 of our favorite theater interviews of 2019!
YouTube sensation and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” guest judge and choreographer Todrick Hall joined the Broadway company of Waitress for a limited run. “Well, it doesn’t take much enticing to get me to want to come back to Broadway, but I’ve also been a super fan of Sara Bareilles,” said Hall of his reasons for returning to New York City. “I don’t only know her radio hits, but I also know pretty much every single song from her last few albums. I love her, I love the music, and I love that it’s pop and contemporary, but also super witty.” – Matthew Wexler
Tony Award-winner Lindsay Mendez brought her solo show to Feinstein’s/54 Below, and The Broadway Blog caught up with her to discuss breaking through the glass ceiling. “When I moved to New York, I was told to change my last name from Mendez to Matthews, or I wouldn’t work,” she said in her Tony Award speech. “And I just want to say how proud I am to be a part of a community that celebrates diversity and individuality. To all of you artists out there, just be your true self, and the world will take note!” – Cleo Auckland
Playwright, screenwriter, producer, and now feature film director Theresa Rebeck discussed adapting her play Poor Behavior for the screen. She also had another Off-Broadway show this season: Seared at MCC Theater. Despite the uphill battles in the continued fight for representation and equality, not to mention the courage it takes to keep writing from an authentic, honest place, Rebeck advised, “You can’t allow it to shut you down. The ringtone of my phone is that song by Chumbawamba, ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again!’ Sometimes it is very challenging, but you keep writing.” – Lindsay B. Davis
The ever-busy Chenoweth dropped a new album, For the Girls, this year, and took a few minutes to chat with The Broadway Blog about its concept. “”I really wanted to pay homage to all the women singers who have influenced me over the years,” said Chenoweth. “I wanted to make something that men could also enjoy, but this is by the girls and for the girls. These songs have all stood the test of time, and most of them are songs that I grew up listening to.” – Matthew Wexler
Company XIV founder Austin McCormick shared details about his neo-baroque burlesque endeavor Queen of Hearts, inspired by Alice in Wonderland. “I try to create work that I’d like to see as an audience member, and it’s as straightforward as that,” said McCormick of his inspiration. “I make the shows with the audience in mind, and that starts with what I’d be charmed, delighted and challenged by.” – Matthew Wexler
Tony Award-winner Kelli O’Hara chatted about her latest role in the highly anticipated Broadway revival of Kiss Me, Kate for our continuing partnership with ShowTickets.com. “The general public doesn’t know what an actor has been researching or living in, which impacts our decision-making when it comes to career choices. I was ready to laugh and have fun,” said O’Hara of the intense work required of her recent on-camera projects. – Matthew Wexler
Transgender actor Becca Blackwell discussed gender and sexual identity, and how worlds collide in their starring role in New York Theatre Workshop’s Hurricane Diane. “I’m the person you can fuck up with. I don’t have much reverence for what I feel people think they should say. I’ve been around long enough that I’m like, ‘Wow. People are even asking me things?” – Matthew Wexler
Mary Testa chatted about her Tony-nominated role in the explosive revival of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!” now playing on Broadway. “It’s like lifting the rock and seeing all the stuff. This production just illuminates it,” said Testa of the critically-acclaimed show soon to go on a national tour. “These scenes have always been there. Your grandparents’ Oklahoma! had the same themes, but they were just glossed over.” – Ryan Leeds
Tony nominee Casey Nicholaw (Best Director) shared his thoughts about working on The Prom and what it took to bring this heartfelt, high-energy musical to Broadway. “The Prom came completely from an original idea and from things that were in the headlines,” he reflected. “We got two generations together that came from completely different worlds. Characters that wouldn’t know how to see eye to eye or had even met before.” – Matthew Wexler
Director Stephen Brackett discussed the seven-year process of bringing Michael R. Jackson’s musical A Strange Loop to the stage. “It’s gone through a lot of development. For a long time, we were struggling to find the show’s container,” said Bracket of the play. “The narrative wasn’t screamingly apparent. Once we started to buy into the idea that the action and flow were about the pressure of Usher to write a gospel play — not only from his agent and the world around him but his family (and specifically his mother), it helped lock in the arc, culminating in that big gesture. Once we arrived at the idea, the piece started to open up.” – Matthew Wexler