Broadway Bullet Interview: Stephanie J. Block

We talk to, and hear from, the wonderful Stephanie Block!  Most recently seen as Grace O' Malley in The Pirate Queen, you might also remember her as Liza Minnelli from The Boy from Oz, with Hugh Jackman.  Add to that a 2006 Helen Hayes award for Outstanding Actress for her performance as Elphaba in the First National Touring Company of Wicked,  Stephanie is it -- what we love about our leading ladies: ever graceful, humble, and sharp as a tack.  Oh yes, and she can sing pretty well, too

We also play songs from two of her shows:  "She Loves to Hear the Music" from The Boy from Oz, and "Woman" from Pirate Queen 

Broadway Bullet:  I'm sitting here in the studio with Stephanie J. Block, who many of our fans should recognize.  She recently starred in the much talked about Pirate Queen on Broadway. 

Stephanie Block:  (laughs) That was very diplomatic of you, "much talked about." That's good.

 BB: There's been much talk about the show.  I'll get into that. She also was in The Boy from Oz --

 SB: Yep.

 BB: And, also for all the people whose stark screaming is done, Wicked as well.  Elphaba, correct?

SB: Correct.

BB: (laughs) So, amongst numerous other things in your career, how is it going?

SB: It's going well.  It's a little quiet now, as we closed The Pirate Queen last month, but things have been good; I've been doing readings here and there, which is great, because for me, without working for about four or five weeks, I do get a little -- I get a little prickly, I get a little antsy.  But, it's been nice, you know, to do two weeks for the 9-5 reading, and then next week I begin -- The Roundabout is perhaps looking to revive Bye Bye Birdie, so we'll be doing a reading of that next week.  So, you know, just enough to keep me busy, and then my personal life is filling in the gaps.

BB: You know, I have to say:  I'm curious, what is this about, doing a reading for an established show?  That seems kind of odd.

SB:  Well, they haven't revived it since Chita Rivera.  So, since it is the 1950's, they think, How is this going to be able to translate to 2007, 2008?  They try to see who in Broadway's community, now, could maybe fit these particular roles very well, and to see if they can get the chemistry.  So really it allows them to sit back, look at the piece from this day and age, look at the new Broadway personalities, and what kind of colors and different personalities they can bring to the roles that have already been created. 

BB: So, you excited, you fully on board with that, if they go -- ?

SB: Oh, yeah, that would be swell.  I mean, really, really, really great.  So, I'm kind of lucky, at this point, just because there are kind of all these little seeds being planted that, hopefully, you know, there will be a nice schedule for me in the next couple of years. 

BB: Now, we're going to get back to some of these upcoming possibilities of rumors, but I would like to get back to you, and talk to you about what we came to discuss today -- we actually have, I don't know if you're familiar with Marty Cooper.  He owns The Colony --

SB: Oh yeah, yeah --

BB: It's the same one on here --

SB: Absolutely, yeah.

BB: Big fan of Pirate Queen.

SB: Ohh!

BB: He's not ashamed in talking about it --

SB: Yeah.  He and his wife showed up several times, yeah.  

BB:  You know, he really felt that the press gave it a real unfair shake.  And I'm wondering what you feel about that whole situation, because, from my perspective, it did seem to be handled rather oddly.  I was trying to talk to you when it was on the show, and all of a sudden, they shut it down -- like, they were afraid of anything bad happening and they wouldn't let me in to see the show, they wouldn't let me talk to you, I mean -- (laughter)

SB:  I will agree with Marty.  I think we got an unfair shake.  I don't think anybody is going to say we had the most perfectly-written show, ever, but there were elements to our show that were extraordinary, and they were completely overlooked.  You know, I feel if critics don't appreciate the music, or this sort of epic musical, if they want that genre to be gone altogether, that's one thing.  But yet, you know, take the time, and say, "These costumes, the craftsmanship, they were extraordinary."  You know, this voice on Hadley Fraser, who, truly, when I heard that sound come out of him, I thought, Wow, Broadway's really going to sit back and take notice, because this voice is just thick and glorious. And really, you don't hear an instrument like that, all that often,.  So I did think that there would certainly be points on both the pros and the cons list.  And, unfortunately, across the board, they all just hopped on the -- Con train.  (laughter)  If that makes sense. And it was kind of like a punch to a gut, time after time after time.  I think everything was condensed, with us opening in April, and then, you know, the reviews coming out, and then shortly after was awards season, and they were so back-to-back, that there was no breathing space that maybe some musicals get to have.  They'll open four, five months before awards season, which allows people to take an exhale, and then go back, and look at the play again, from a different perspective.  We didn't have that opportunity.  It was just, kind of: here's the slug to the right cheek; here's the slug to the left cheek.  And with the imminent speak of Young Frankenstein coming in, that did --

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