BWW Interview: KINKY BOOTS' Jeanna de Waal on Stepping Into Lauren's Shoes!
As BroadwayWorld previously reported, Kinky Boots has welcomed new cast members in recent weeks. Jeanna de Waal just joined the cast as 'Lauren' (replacing Tony nominee Annaleigh Ashford, who left to join the cast of Showtime's "Masters of Sex").
Jeanna most recently starred as Glinda in the national tour of Wicked, and in MCC Theater's revival of Carrie. Previous work includes We Will Rock You (London West End), American Idiot (Broadway), The Rocky Horror Show (The Old Globe). Workshops: Carrie (MCC Theater), The Boys in the Photograph (Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton), Tina Girlstar (Sam Buntrock).
Jeanna recently chatted with BroadwayWorld about making her KINKY debut, how she got the role, advice she got from Ashford and more! Check out the full interview below!
Your first official show was earlier this week! How has it been going since then?
Great. Tuesday was an absolute blast. As you can imagine, with this role it was really hard performing it to an empty house, with no reactions except from the stage manager who has seen it a million times. It was so nice to finally have an audience and to have them to play with. Then yesterday we had two shows. Now I feel like I'm finally starting to work it all out and figure out my beats. The first show I had so much adrenaline and now I have to figure out my moments and take my time.
I'm so excited to do it and ready to do it. There is so much to the character that I'm glad that I get to do it for a while. There's so much to figure and so much to find. It would be really sad if I only got to do it for a week! I'm glad that I have a long time to play with it.
What was your audition process like?
I had three rounds. There was an initial round and then there was a 40-minute workshop. We worked with the scenes and the song and we got to make choices. And then the final round was with the bigwigs- Cyndi Lauper was there... Jerry Mitchell was there...
Was that final round nerve-wracking?
It was, BUT the people who had helped me with the workshop, the associate director DB Bonds and the associate choreographer Rusty Mowery were in the room as well. So I could hear them cheering me on, and that made me feel so good! They were giving me big smiles. I just focused my energy on them and tried not to focus on anything else.
You're joining the cast while there is a lot of role shuffling going on. Does it put you more at ease knowing that you're not the only one that's new to her role?
Yeah! There is one girl that is officially new-new with me, Anna [Eilinsfeld]. They are a really welcoming group of people. I feel like everybody had gone out of their way to make me feel welcome, which is REALLY nice.
You're replacing Annaleigh [Ashford], who got a Tony nomination for this part- did she give you any advice?
She did. She gave me ideas about who she thought the character was when she was developing her. I don't know if you've heard of this, but there is a British term- CHAV. It stands for 'Council House and Violent.' It's a very stereotypical kind of person in England and she originally based her on that idea. She's been classed up and made much sleeker and nicer throughout the process. It was a great building block to know where it all came from. I still have the gold chain that says my name and there are still touches of that idea. It's really interesting knowing that that is where she is coming from.
There's not much on the page with this character, it's kinda up to you to build it, and you can really go in whatever direction you chose. It's wonderful knowing where she came form though- urban, cool, and young. It was great having those guidelines.
Lauren is such a fun character. I'd imagine that it's a part that you look forward to playing every night...
Yes, definitely! Every time that the associate director gives me a note I'm like "Oh Godammit! I want to do it again!" The audiences are unreal, which makes it such a pleasure. It feels so fun, and enjoyable, and entertaining.
"The History of Wrong Guys" is a fan favorite. What's it been like tackling that amazing song?
It's very intimidating because there are some big shoes to fill. Really though, anything with a great payoff is going to be intimidating. It's been so great though and I feel like I'm just at the beginning of getting acquainted with it. I really look forward to seeing how it develops, as I get more comfortable. There are a lot of props in that number and a lot of gags. I always love it, but each night it gets better. I feel more comfortable and relaxed.
You're now the resident Brit in the cast! Are your castmates coming to to you for accent tips?
Everyone's accent is pretty good! And we have a vocal coach, so that's not my job [Laughs]. They are all really good though, Actually, I get notes because they say that I have to be more clear to the American ear. I have to emphasize the accent more than I naturally do. It's very funny!
Is there a moment in the show that you look forward to every night?
It's "The History of Wrong Guys." How could it not be?!
You're now in a show that is still very much the hot ticket in town. Is there an extra excitement that comes along with that?
There is. And there is an ease with that as well. You know that you're gonna have a full house. You know that the show works. When a show is this successful and people keep coming back it's a lot easier to play than when you are scared for your job and scared for closing night. It's really fun to be a part of all of it!
Kinky Boots features a Tony Award-winning score by pop icon Cyndi Lauper, a book by four-time Tony Award-winner Harvey Fierstein, and direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell. The smash-hit musical plays to standing-room-only crowds nightly and continues to break box office records at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre (302 West 45th Street), where it started previews on March 4 and officially opened on April 4, 2013.
In Kinky Boots, Charlie Price has suddenly inherited his father's shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father's legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola. A fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, Lola turns out to be the one person who can help Charlie become the man he's meant to be. As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible... and discovers that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.
Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy