BWW Interview: Lauren Worsham Talks Sky Pony, Dog Days and Makes an Exciting Announcement!
Tony nominee Lauren Worsham spoke with BroadwayWorld about her new Sky Pony album and upcoming role in Dog Days. Worsham also makes a special announcement about what is in store for her next year!
Lauren Worsham is a Drama Desk Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated actress and singer. She recently completed her run on Broadway in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (2014 Tony Award winner for Best Musical). Other favorite roles include Lisa in Dog Days at Montclair Peak Performances, Fort Worth Opera and LA Opera (dir. Robert Woodruff), Flora in Turn of the Screwat New York City Opera (dir. Sam Buntrock), Amy inWhere's Charley at New York City Center (dir. John Doyle), Cunegonde in New York City Opera's Candide,and Olive in the first National tour of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Other credits include La Perichole at New York City Opera, Carnival (Lili) at Goodspeed Opera House, Into the Woods (Cinderella) at Kansas City Rep, Master Class (Sophie) at Paper Mill Playhouse, The Light in the Piazza (Clara) at Weston Playhouse and The Fantasticks (Luisa) at Emelin Theatre. She is the recipient of a 2014 Drama Desk and a 2014 Theatre World Award for her performance in Gentleman's Guide.
You have a very eclectic career. You do everything from more operatic theatre pieces to indie pop rock with Sky Pony. Were both genres always a part of your life growing up?
You know, I was. I grew up in Austin, Texas, which is known for its Texas blues sound. That's kind of one of the first things I started singing. I started noticing I had an upper-register, so I started singing more classical music. A musical theatre company moved in, and I started doing musical theatre. I always loved it, and I never let go.
How did your band Sky Pony come about?
When my husband and I first started dating...he's a composer and book writer for musical theatre but kind of non-traditional pieces. He's also been in quite a few bands. He basically said something along the lines of, "you weren't called in for this because you can't sing rock music." I got upset about it because I told him I grew up singing rock music. No one thinks I can because all they hear is soprano. It was kind of a challenge to make a rock band so we could explore the rock side of my voice. That's kind of how it started. It just started with Kyle and I, and we expanded and ended up turning it into kind of a party and inviting in everyone we've ever known. It becomes a big sort of cathartic party.
What can fans expect from the new Sky Pony album?
It's got a little something for everybody. I have to say the production values are amazing. It was produced by Michael Tudor who works with Duncan Sheik; that's how Kyle met him. He has worked with great bands; he really leant a great ear to the sound and really honed and refined it. It's a great sound. You're going to get some tunes that are super narrative based, like "Beautiful Monster," which I think musical theatre fans are going to love. You're also going to get some super pop-y tunes that make you want to dance, like "Regret it in the Morning," which I know a lot od people really like. You're also going to get that dark lyricism from Kyle in a lot of the songs. If you don't want to just listen for dancing, you can listen to the words. There is a little something for everybody.
How different is it to perform with Sky Pony rather than some of your other more traditional theatrical projects?
Very different. We are doing a Sky Pony Rock Fairytale at Ars Nova next year. It'll be a different experience for me because I usually just do one-off concerts with Sky Pony: once a month or maybe once every other week. That's at most, so it's more of a party where you can scream and yell and go wild. When we're doing the show, it'll be seven times a week for about two months, so that'll be different. That's usually the deal with any theatre piece or opera piece; you have to learn how to sustain something. It's not a one-time thing. You can't scream at the top of your lungs every night because you have to do it every night. At the end of two weeks, you'd have no voice. That's the major difference, I'd say. On top of that, rock music is...there'll all different. Opera has the most emphasis on the voice, while musical theatre has more emphasis on the storytelling. Rock has more emphasis on showmanship and having a good time. It doesn't matter if I sing a wrong note or if I sound raspy; it's all part of the show.
You're doing Dog Days soon, which is really exciting! Can you talk a little bit about what it is and what can audiences expect from it?
It's pretty wild and dark. It's a new opera. It's a post-apocalyptic piece about a probably nuclear war that has ravished America. This family is left in Middle American dealing with the fallout from that. There is no food left and they begin to starve. My character, the young daughter of the family, befriends this crazy homeless man. He basically believes himself to be a dog; he doesn't speak, he doesn't do anything, he dresses as a dog, and eats scraps like a dog. That's how he's coping with this post-apocalyptic world. The ramifications of that friendship kind of reverberate through this entire family. It goes pretty shockingly dark at the end. The music is amazing. The lyrics are amazing. They're by Royce Vavrek and the music is by David Little. The direction is by Robert Woodruff who is the most wonderful director I've ever had the chance to work with in my life. He did a lot of the Sam Shepard plays originally. He is just amazing. Audiences can expect a really emotional, wild ride. No one hold anything back.
How did you become involved with the show?
I started doing new music probably through Royce Vavrek. I met him through the Cycle 16 NYU graduate musical theatre writing program. I knew another composer through that program, and I used to sing her songs. I met Royce through that and we became friends. I started singing a lot of his pieces, and since then, he has become very big in the new music opera world. I've luckily been taken along for the ride and gotten to do great work.
Do you have a favorite moment in the show you're looking forward to performing?
If you see the piece, you'll see how funny that question is. It's kind of a harrowing experience as a performer. Half the cast ends up covered in blood by the end of the show. Enjoying isn't quite the right word; I find it emotionally exhausting but incredibly fulfilling. I'd say that. I love my act one aria. It goes a nice long ride and emotional arc. I get to sing it to John Kelly, who plays the dog man. He's a downtown performance artist and a brilliant scene partner even though he doesn't say a word. We have this amazing scene together and that's one of my favorite pieces to do.
Do you have any big projects lined up after Dog Days?
We're doing this Sky Pony piece as a co-production between Ars Nova and Play Company. It's called The Wildness. Tickets for that, ironically, go on sale the last day I perform in Dog Days. We will start previews in mid February and run through the end of March.
I'm pregnant, that's another thing that's coming up! That's the project that I'm working on for June. I'll be about seven months pregnant at the end of The Wildness, which will be really interested because I've clearly never performed pregnant before. After that, I'll probably just do some concert work because I'm probably not going to be performing at 8 or 9 months pregnant.
Sky-Pony has built a cult following for its live shows which serve up lush, lyrical, often cheeky indie-pop with a healthy dose of drama. Led by Worsham and her husband, Obie winning songwriter Kyle Jarrow, the raucous Brooklyn-based group is known for its highly-theatrical sets-incorporating choreography, costumes and projections. Their shows are perhaps best described as a cross between rock concert, performance art, and carnival. In the past they've included acrobats, burlesque dancers, beatboxers and full dance squads. The NY Times has dubbed them "an energetic Brooklyn indie band with a penchant for theatrical stagings and choreography" and The Wall Street Journal has called them "tight, fierce, hilarious and out of their minds". Get more info on their new album Beautiful Monster at http://www.knittingfactoryrecords.com/artists/sky-pony/.
For more information on Dog Days click here.
For more information on The Wildness click here.
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From This Author Reilly Hickey