BWW Exclusive Interview: CINDERELLA's Fran Drescher Talks Broadway Debut, The Nanny & More!
Beloved by millions as "The Nanny" on the long-running CBS comedy, Emmy-nominated actress Fran Drescher makes her Broadway debut in the role of Cinderella's stepmother, 'Madame' in CINDERELLA. Beginning February 4th, the actress will appear for a 10-week run through April 13th at the Broadway Theatre.
Today, Drescher speaks exclusively with BWW about starring in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic fairytale and explains how 'Fran Fine' has come full circle since her days as the nanny!
Congratulations on your Broadway debut! Has appearing on Broadway been something that was always on your bucket list?
Definitely! I absolutely love theater and I've been able to sneak some in here and there between shooting schedules. So when this opportunity arose, it just so happens that I wasn't scheduled to be shooting anything and I really grabbed the opportunity. To be able to be on Broadway and make my debut in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is just a glorious dream come true and in a fairytale story that I grew up with and I'm sure many, many American girls grew up with as well. It's really a thrill for me, on so many different levels, just pushing my boundaries beyond what I'm comfortable doing, and what the public is used to seeing me do and creating a character, somebody very glamourous, yet somebody who you love to hate, it's something that I'm really excited to introduce to the audience.
And the costumes are being designed for me and they're very big and glamourous with huge wigs and gorgeous head pieces and so I think that it's going to be a very exciting character but also a visual feast!
It's exciting that both you and Carly Rae Jepsen, who will be stepping in as Cinderella, will be making your Broadway debuts on the same night.
I know! I feel very lucky that it's going that way. It's fun for us because this whole rehearsal process has felt less like we're entering a show that's already up, and more like we're starting from scratch, because there are so many actors that are joining the cast for the first time that it almost feels like we are starting from scratch. And then to have an Opening Night that is the two of us together is also going to feel like a real beginning and start of a show all over again.
Have you had a full rehearsal with the entire cast yet?
We are having a full rehearsal with the cast today [January 30] and I'm excited that we're going to rehearse on the stage with the full orchestra for the first time, that will be really thrilling. I did Camelot at Lincoln Center, a limited run for PBS, and I remember when we switched from the rehearsal pianist to the New York Philharmonic, and I must say it was just a memorable experience. And I'm just so grateful to be joining a community of talented people like the Broadway community and that I've been made to feel so welcome.
It's a bit ironic that your character on 'The Nanny', Fran Fine, worked for Mr. Sheffield, who was himself a Broadway producer.
Yes, when we created the show, we created Mr. Sheffield to be a Broadway producer and it opened up such a world of Broadway in this television sitcom that we were actually shooting in California. But it made it so New York and so rich and allowed us to have so much great talent. So it just feels like a natural progression for me to now actually be doing it for real.
You know I've always been a great supporter of Broadway, it was by design. I think that we made that choice to make him a Broadway producer because we felt that Broadway is the definition of New York City and we wanted to support Broadway in that way.
Of course you are so well-known and loved for your comedic talents, but I believe this will be the first time we are going to hear your singing voice.
Well I actually have a song on iTunes called, 'Eye For An Eye,' but yes, this is the first professional theater production that is a musical that I will be in. And I do some singing in the play but I actually have the largest speaking part and probably the smallest singing part (laughing) and I think that's the perfect ratio for me!
What are you most looking forward to when you make your Broadway debut?
Oh I guess hearing the laughs from the audience, and how they receive me. And hopefully going off into the wings and saying, "I did it all right, I didn't screw up!!" (laughing)
Oh I have no doubts that you will be saying that!
Oh, I hope so. You know it's flying without a net, there's no 'take 2'. But that's what makes live theater so important. I always go to the theater whenever I can, as much as I can and often I'll lean over to the person that I'm with and say, 'They're doing this just for us. Just for us. These people, in this house tonight.' And there's something so ephemeral about that and so wonderful and so magical and I look forward to doing that eight shows a week!
Fran Drescher's organization, Cancer Schmancer will be doing an auction for fans to come to Cinderella and meet her after the show.
Visit http://www.cancerschmancer.org/ for more details.
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Facebook: Cancer Schmancer
About Fran Drescher:
Fran Drescher received two Emmy Award and two Golden Globe nominations for the CBS comedy series, The Nanny, which she also created, wrote, directed and executive produced. She most recently starred in TV Land's sitcom "Happily Divorced" as Fran, a Los Angeles florist whose 18-year marriage ends after her husband announces he's gay, yet they continue to live together under the same roof.
Ms. Drescher's numerous film credits include "This is Spinal Tap," (for which she won Esquire Magazine's 'Five Minute Oscar'); "The Beautician and the Beast," which she also executive produced; and countless films with the likes of Robin Williams and Tim Robbins ("The Cadillac Man"), Dan Aykroyd and Billy Crystal, and with such esteemed directors as Rob Reiner, Milos Forman("Ragtime") and Francis Ford Coppola.
A native of New York City, she is no stranger to the stage, having made her debut in The Pasadena Playhouse world premiere of Ronald Ribman's Rug Merchants of Chaos and Off-Broadway in Neil LaBute's Some Girl(s), The Exonerated and Nora Ephron's Love, Loss, and What I Wore. She also performed in a special production of Camelot at Lincoln Center.
Ms. Drescher is the author of two books - ENTER WHINING and CANCER SCHMANCER - both New York Times best sellers. Earlier this year, she celebrated 13 years of wellness as a uterine cancer survivor. A leading health advocate, she was instrumental in getting the nation's first Gynecologic Cancer and Education and Awareness Act passed, and has been appointed as Special Envoy for Women's Health Issues by the U.S. State Department. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including the John Wayne Institute Woman of Achievement Award, the Gilda Award and the Albert Einstein Ccollege of Medicines Spirit of Achievement Award.
About RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN's CINDERELLA:
With its fresh, new take on the beloved tale of a young woman who is transformed from a chambermaid into a princess, this hilarious and romantic Cinderella combines the story's classic elements - glass slippers, pumpkin, a beautiful ball and more - with some surprise twists. More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, the Cinderella of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical now on Broadway is a surprisingly contemporary figure living in a fairytale setting: a spirited young woman with savvy and soul, eager to develop a world view, she doesn't let her rags or her gowns trip her up in her quest for kindness, compassion and forgiveness. She not only fights for her own dreams, but makes the prince, who falls in love with her, open his eyes to the world around him and realize his dreams, too.
CINDERELLA has music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, a new book by Douglas Carter Beaneand original book by Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is directed by Mark Brokaw. Josh Rhodes is choreographer. Music adaptation, supervision and arrangements are by David Chase. Orchestrations are by Danny Troob. Andy Einhorn is music director and conductor.
One of the legendary musical theatre duo Rodgers + Hammerstein's most popular titles, Cinderella was written for television -- debuting in 1957 starring Julie Andrews -- and only this year has made its long-overdue Broadway debut. Along with Cinderella, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's legendary musicals include OKLAHOMA!, CAROUSEL, THE KING AND I, SOUTH PACIFIC and THE SOUND OF MUSIC.
MR. Beane's book for RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S Cinderella blends masterfully with the musical's beloved score with songs including "In My Own Little Corner," "Impossible/It's Possible," "Ten Minutes Ago" and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?"
Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg