A Conversation with The Wedding Singer's Felicia Finley
With reality-TV star Constantine Maroulis joining the cast of The Wedding Singer shortly and some other recent cast changes, it seemed like the perfect time to check in with one of the show's most popular stars, Felicia Finley for the scoop on that and lots more
How are things going with the show?
The show is in great shape! This company has always seemed to me from the get go, and I hate it because this is not the right word, but we seem like an acting troupe
I think that 'troupe' is the right term
It's a fun group, because we're all around the same age and when we're out there on stage and it's just amazing this group of talent. It's like everyone is a star in their own right, individually and including the ensemble. It's been like we're taking class every night, so it's really amazing. Rob Ashford has been working with us for the past 2 days, since he just got back from working on Curtains. He's back and we've been working hard and now Constantine is coming in and he's really, really, stoked. We're all stoked to have him and he's just the "real thing." He graduated from Boston Conservatory with an acting degree and before American Idol ever started, he really had serious acting chops going on. He did Rent before American Idol, and he's really excited to get back on stage. It's cool, and we're so excited to have him.
Do you know how his casting came about?
I think what happened is just that we're trying to find the right audience. Smokey Joe's (Café) took a while for it to find its audience and once it did, it exploded. We're the same way I think, we just have to get that audience and that following. We now have what's called the "Wed Heads", did you know that?
I think that's hysterical, and I love it. It's an addictive show, it's a fun show, and there's so much talent on stage, that you really can learn from it by just watching it.
There's been rumors, online and off about other folks coming in to audition...
Yeah, I'm just going to stay positive about the fact that Constantine is coming in, that it's all that's happening and we're really excited to have him.
Word has it that you recently broke a rib as well?
Well, I hurt it the night of the Tony's during the actual performance. I didn't know it was as bad as it was, until, honestly a couple of days later, cause I was in shock. I couldn't believe that I had hurt it, and I'm doing a lot better now, so it only hurts when I sneeze. I was talking to Rob Ashford actually yesterday, and when he was doing Guys and Dolls, putting that show up, he broke his rib a year ago.
And Tom Hewett, broke his rib at a show so I've been commiserating with my broken rib friends. You know, it's Broadway, we're out there hoofing it, and it's bound to happen. Angie Schworer, who's in the Producers, tall beautiful Angie and I were talking about it during this event for the Actor's Fund at Bryant Fund two weeks ago. She told me that when you do a step over and over again, that the area gets sensitive. So, eight times a week, if you're not using the right muscles, it's already sensitive and so just one little move can just make it go over the edge. And that's exactly what happened, because it was during this "layout" I was doing, and I just did it too many times and with all the adrenaline, I think it just went. Oddly enough it wasn't during my Linda stuff at all, isn't that funny? It was during my imposter moment in the opening.
As long as it's getting better
Amen, brother! It's better, so I've been able to commiserate with others that have broken wrists in the Broadway world. (laughs).
One of my favorite terms!
It's absolutely funny that it just came out that way!
Is it normal for a director to come back in like Rob Ashford has?
Yeah, you always have a clean up. You have to get back to your core and your roots, as much as possible. You know we were doing Aida, Robert Falls would come in and just give us an overhaul and when I was doing The Life, Michael Blakemore would come in and give it an overhaul. Depending on what the scenario is, you sometimes just have got to let the teachers come in and go "guys, you got to dig deeper," or "it looks speculator, let's just upgrade it." I look at it like in the technical world, you're just upgrading your files. Sometimes you have got to upgrade your phones and the computer, well, so does a show! You got to stay on it, and you have to stay fresh or else you can get out in front of 2000 people, so it's kind of fun to get messy again.
How long is he working with you guys for?
Well in addition to Constantine coming in, we have Andy Karl coming in for 5 weeks because David Josefsberg is taking medical leave, so we're having a lot of cast changeovers. Andy is amazing, we're so excited to have him, he'll be playing Josefsberg's part, but you know with this show, everybody holds serious weight. Right now Josefsberg is on for Matt Saldivar and just kicking it out - he's on all week. Our seconds are phenomenal though, they're all stars, and unbelievable. That's what I meant before, it's like it's a real team effort, like it's a troupe. It's really fun because I love the show so much.
How do changes like those, and Tina Maddigan taking over for Laura Benanti affect the show as a whole?
I'm a positive minded person, so for me, any time, especially with art, art is always changing and evolving and being creative. That's what's great about having Tina on; she brings a new energy to the show and she's still finding her character which is so much fun and so the show is growing exponentially because of that. Because of all the changes, we're having amazing growth. Because we're giving it 1000 percent, and we're out there, as a pure Broadway company, it's pure Broadway. Constantine was Broadway before American Idol so it's fun to have someone like that come on board, even if it's for two months or six weeks or whatever his contract is, it's still, it's great to have that energy.
Have you begun working with him yet or has he not started rehearsals?
Yeah, he's been at rehearsal already, working his tail off. He's really great, I'm excited to have the opportunity to play with him.
Glad to hear it, and what do you do backstage during the show, I know you get a couple of long absences there?
I'm like a mascot back stage because you have to understand that I feel kind of comfortable back stage, because I was a cover for so long, and so that was kind of my gig for a couple of years. I feel very comfortable hanging out with swings and crew guys. So I have a good time and I do business and I'll run up my cell phone bills, make my phone calls to Hawaii, talk to my brother.
Catch up on correspondence and stuff?
Yeah, and I definitely use that part of my day to be as constructive as possible, It's fun, I love it, I love having it all. I also watch the show a lot, because I love the show, and I'm not kidding - you can ask anyone I will sit in the wings and do everyone's choreography and everyone is so funny, so I have the best time watching them, I really do. I sit right in the wing, and I watch "Casualty of Love" the most, because that's my favorite one. I sit with the crew guys and make fun of people sometimes, it's fun.
It sounds like fun. There's been a lot of chatter about your show on the Internet, (and pretty much about all shows these days), is that something you follow yourself?
I don't really follow it because I don't really have time. I wish I did, because it's interesting. I think that the Internet is so powerful nowadays and that you have to really consider that as a major source of communication. Whether people want to just look at it or not, it's here to stay like television, it's here. When something gets a little out of control, my phone starts to ring, my friends call me, and then I'll go on and will look at it, and go "oh okay." To me, I just take it with a grain of salt because opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.
I wonder if I can print that
You can bleep that out if you want, but you know what I mean.
You're welcome to say it, and that's exactly how I feel about it. People have their opinions and that doesn't mean that their opinions are wrong or right. Also life is not personal, people sometimes on their internet boards make it personal and I just don't have time to get involved. I'm too objective to worry about it. With Katrina in the background and having it be a really hard year, I'm very busy these days. Also, I'm recently engaged and so we're planning the wedding.
You're still involved with real estate?
Yeah, I do real estate. Right now I'm doing mainly referrals and helping people because of the show and the amount of work it is for me. I love learning about it and working with it because it's a passion of mine. Also as a result, I'm a notary and so I've been notarizing things for people backstage in my Linda costume, it's very funny. I've notarized like 10 things back stage, one was for a NYC cop!
It's funny because I did it in my Linda costume where I look like a hooker!
You're going to have fans at the stage door asking you to notarize things now.
No, I can't. They have to make an appointment for real.
Well we'll make sure to specify that. Tell us about the new fiancée
Oh Paul Stancato, he's my sweetie! We met on The Wedding Singer and we knew right away. We're the same age and we want the same things and he asked me on July 3rd. Everyone is happy, my company is happy, my mom is elated, my family is elated. We've met each other's families and it's just been one of those things that we just knew. I always felt when people said, "you'll know when you know," like giving them the middle finger because it was so patronizing, but I get it now. It's a good thing, and we've got a big love so we're really excited to join our life together.
And what was his role his on The Wedding Singer?
He was with the SSGC program and Rob Ashford interviewed him and he was chosen to assist Rob as an observer ship. So he assisted Rob on The Wedding Singer, and now we're getting married. I've been thanking Rob for introducing me to my husband. Now he's the East Coast Resident Director of The Lion King.
Oh one organization I know you've done a lot for is Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids What does that organization mean to you?
Well, I lost my cousin back in '95, he was 33 years old, Vinny, and he's got an identical twin, that's still alive, Kenny. They were both my best cousins, which we have in the South, and it doesn't mean that they're your first cousins or second cousin, but they're your "best cousins." We lost Vinny to AIDS in '95 He went through abone marrow transplant with his identical twin brother in Seattle and it was successful, but what happened was during the bone marrow transparent, he contracted AIDS. That happened in 1988 and so, he lived with AIDS for a long time and it was just horrible to watch your best friend, your best cousin, leave this planet so young. He's just been my beacon so I dedicate everything to him, you know, and I choose Broadway Cares because he's my angel. So it started for personal reasons, but now I'm so connected to them and also as a result they just became a family to me. Because their intentions are just so beautiful, I'll do anything for them. They just do wonderful things and Tom Viola, Frank Conway and the rest of them are just amazing people. They're just great people and when it touches home like that, when it's family, it changes your life.
Definitely understandable, and sorry to hear about your loss. Is there anything else that you'd like to add for our BroadwayWorld.com readers?
Nope, just to please come and see the show and thanks for helping spread the word!
For tickets and more information about The Wedding Singer, visit www.theweddingsingerthemusical.com.