BWW Interviews: Debut of the Month - BEAUTIFUL: THE CAROLE KING MUSICAL's Rebecca LaChance
Rebecca LaChance is making her Broadway debut in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. The talented actress is a member of the show's ensemble and serves as an understudy for the lead role of Carole King, portrayed by Tony nominee Jessie Mueller.
'Beautiful' tells the inspiring true story of Carole King's remarkable rise to stardom from being part of a chart-topping songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, hit songs such as So Far Away, It's Too Late and Natural Woman contributed to the soundtrack of a generation.
Today, LaChance spoke exclusively to BWW about making her Broadway debut, meeting Carole King and jumping into the lead role with just an hour's notice!
The show recently transferred from San Francisco where it had a very successful run. Have there been many changes made now that you are in previews on Broadway?
There have been a good amount of things changed since we got back from San Francisco. A lot of bringing in some songs that people were missing in San Francisco and changing around the order of some scenes. And even since we started previews in the past two or three weeks, we've been making tremendous changes during our rehearsal days. So yes, it's actually evolved quite a bit.
That's interesting that you mentioned adding songs. Was that for creative purposes or because audiences were disappointed that they didn't hear their favorites?
Well it's a little bit of both. We have 'You've Got a Friend,' obviously a classic Carole King song, and we had originally had it in a different spot in San Francisco and it just wasn't working. It just wasn't the right place and it just wasn't landing. And so we had cut it out but then people were really aching for the song, people were wishing that it could be there, creatively and audience-wise, and so we were able to implement that since we've got back and we have such a wonderful pocket in the show for it now.
Oh yes, that was such a tender moment when they did perform that number, definitely a highlight. You are working with a wonderful cast of Broadway vets. What has that experience been like for you and what have you learned from them?
It's been absolutely incredible working with these people. Most of the ensemble cast alone, it's been their fourth, fifth, eighth Broadway show, these are like professionals that I am working with, and it is such a blessing because they just know how everything works. You think, 'I know how doing a show works,' but there are so many elements, just in the business end of things and the rehearsal schedule and everything, that I didn't even realize happens, and people have been so great about guiding me through, and helping me. And it's amazing just artistically to be up on stage and just to play with these people who really know how to play, they know how to do it and they know how to do it well and interestingly and excitingly every night.
Can you tell us about your journey with the show? How did your casting come about?
I was brought in by Stephen Kopel our casting director in June to audition for the show. And actually, the whole process happened in like a week, maybe a week and a half, which was amazing. It's just incredible that something happens that quick. I was brought in for an ensemble call and then had some more material for some cover auditions as well, and I think it was four auditions total, including a dance callback, and then I found out the next week. And my whole life has been different since then!
Wow, that is so unusual because sometimes you hear that these things can go on for weeks.
Yes, and I have been in situations like that before. Actually when I first met Stephen Kopel a couple of years ago, it was out of an equity chorus call and he picked me out of there to audition for 'On a Clear Day,' which also starred Jessie Mueller. I was in auditions for that for weeks and that was my first Broadway show I ever auditioned for. It was so exciting and so thrilling and even though it didn't end up working out, the relationship from those first auditions with Stephen absolutely led me to this job, which is amazing.
I know that you are also one of the understudies for Jessie Mueller. Have you had a chance to go on for her yet?
Yes, I actually went on for our very last show in San Francisco which was terrifying and amazing. We had absolutely zero understudy rehearsal.
So how does that work? Do you jump in and hope for the best?
Yes, essentially I found out about an hour before the show that I was doing it and it was a whirlwind of 'wardrobe needs you to try on this shirt,' and 'wigs needs you to try on this wig', and 'you have to go over this with the music director', and 'hope you know your lines!' And I had been doing backstage tracking up until that point, but we were so settled into the groove of, 'we got this,' but all of a sudden it was like every single person in the company, crew, designers and everybody were like, 'Oh, this is going to be a different show today!'
Oh my gosh how nerve-wracking!
It was just a feeling of, 'this is impossible, but I have to do it, so it's just going to happen.' And we were completely
sold out, it was our last show in San Francisco, so it was insane. But it ended up being a huge success and it was absolutely the best day of my life - a real triumph in the end.
I know that you are a musician as well and you have a band called Lucky Sons.
Yes, Lucky Sons is my band. We've been sort of on hiatus now as Broadway has been happening around me, but I play guitar and do songwriting with Lucky Sons and I'm hoping to get back to that once we get out of the craziness of previews.
I read recently that while Carole King certainly supports the show, she has no plans to come and see it because it focuses on a very difficult period of her life. I was wondering what your reaction was to that.
I think a lot of people are surprised when they hear that and I actually explained it to a number of family and friends who have come to see the show and they're like, 'Oh, when is Carole coming, when is she going to be there?' And I actually absolutely understand her hesitance to see the show, because having to watch your life in front of you, that's already a difficult task, but to know that you are in a theater full of 900 other people who are watching you watch your life on stage, I think that is the heavier challenge. And there's no getting around that when you're Carole King and you're at The Carole King Musical! But she actually came to a rehearsal at one point and we got to meet her and that was a real treat and she's just the loveliest, kindest, most generous spirit and we're so grateful and honored to be able to tell her story.
Well said! Were you familiar with her music prior to your casting?
Yes, I actually listened to Carole King growing up, my mom was a huge Carole King fan. But I also came to her music more so through James Taylor. I'm a big James Taylor fan, so my fingers are crossed that he'll come to the show. So, yes I knew some of her songs from him singing them and then once I really discovered 'Tapestry,' it was so awesome to hear her music and her voice. She had such an unusual career in that she wrote so much music for other people and then it was a matter of her taking it back and owning it again on 'Tapestry,' which is really exciting.
It's interesting because that was one thing I kept saying when I was at the show the other night, ''Oh I didn't know she wrote that one!"
Yes, exactly! The whole first act is kind of like, 'really, she wrote that one too? Oh wow!'
It really makes you have even more respect for her. So what has it been like to make your Broadway debut in this wonderful show?
It's sort of a dream still, it just doesn't seem real, even though I know I'm looking out at the audience and I'm looking out at a thousand people who paid to be there to see a Broadway show and I happen to be in it! It just hasn't landed yet maybe. One of the other guys in the cast will sort of remind me from time to time, he'll go, 'hey, you're on a Broadway stage right now. This is the first week of previews for your Broadway debut.' And that is amazing to realize that again and again, it's such a celebration every time. I'm still in awe of all of it.
At what point in the San Francisco run did you know it was coming to Broadway, or did you know from the onset?
We actually knew from the get-go. We knew that the San Francisco run would just be for a brief time and that we would come back and it was really going to happen. But it doesn't necessarily make it feel real. I remember when we did our first walk-through at the Sondheim, I was standing on the stage looking out at the hundreds of crew members and the cables and everyone just there to start getting ready for tech and I got all teary-eyed. I was just really touched by the presence of all these people. It's amazing to me how many people work to make this show happen and to make any show happen. And to feel that I'm participating in that is a real gift.
About Rebecca LaChance:
Rebecca LaChance's New York stage credits include Central Avenue Breakdown, Broadway by the Year and Broadway Rising Stars concerts at Town Hall, Fringe Festival. Regionally, her credits include Williamstown Theatre Festival, Olney Theatre Center. BFA, NYU. For more information visit: www.rebeccalachance.com
Photo credit: Joan Marcus