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Sherie Rene Scott: You May Now Worship Her

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Once in a blue moon, musical theatre provides a window for a few very talented and very special actors to rocket from one iconic role to another, garnering acclaim and a wide and wonderful fan-base along the way. And any musical theatre fan will tell you – we worship our icons!

Looking at her impressive New York track-record, Sherie Rene Scott is certainly a viable candidate for the pedestal. 

However – in spite of portraying a fashionista princess in Aida, a lesbian rocker rebel in Rent, the con-girl with a Colgate smile in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and currently the eight-armed sea-witch in The Little MermaidSherie Rene Scott doesn't quite consider her performing career as a "career."

This Monday, March 31, 2008, Scott will concoct an experiment in truth-telling and ask the question: "Why worship?" in her new and original one-woman show You May Now Worship Me.  The one-night-only concert at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative.  For tickets and information visit www.BroadwayCares.org

BroadwayWorld chatted with Sherie Rene Scott to learn more about You May Now Worship Me and the joys of portraying a notorious Disney villain…

Eugene Lovendusky: Congratulations on your new show! What are you looking forward to most on Monday?

Sherie Rene Scott: I would say "getting to see everyone" but I'm not going to see anyone. It's just shapes in the dark. I will be working and hopefully fully present – meaning, not intoxicated [laughs]. I'm hoping to do good work to make everyone glad that they forked over some money to the Phyllis Newman Foundation and gave up their night off to see me.

Eugene: You May Now Worship Me is being billed as Sherie "telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth." What exactly are audiences in-store for?

Sherie: It's actually "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – just better." [laughs] If it were just the truth, that'd be boring.  It's an evening of stories and singing, with lots of laughter and exploring the concept of worship and the need to worship. I call it a performance piece because it sounds pretentious – and it probably is.

Eugene: How has the show changed and evolved since May, when you performed at the Zipper?

Sherie: Last May, it was more like an invited-dress. Dick Scanlan and I have been writing this over the course of a few years. It evolved into a first presentation, though we didn't have a director. I just had a perverse need to do this performance-piece and get it up on its feet. From that, we had a lot of interest from directors. Fortunately, Michael Mayer was incredibly enthusiastic to help us out. We acquired some producers. So when Broadway Cares saw the show, they were interested in doing something different with their benefits. Since this was something already conceived and in-motion, Tom Viola (BC/EFA Executive Director) thought would be a great idea to do this show as one of their benefits instead of a series of people getting up to sing. 

Eugene: As co-founder of Sh-K-Boom Records, is there any chance this concert is going to be recorded?

Sherie: I don't know. Sh-K-Boom recorded In The Heights last weekend and in a few weekends, we're going to be doing Passing Strange. We're doing a lot of smaller shows and individual projects – so I haven't even gotten around to thinking about recording it. I'm more into designing and writing it. I think if we were to record it, I'd be interested in video.

Eugene: Switching gears for a moment… Your New York track-record has let you shine in some pretty incredible roles and garnered you an impressive fan-base.  At the same time, you're juggling eight shows a week and being a mommy. How has your perspective on your performing career changed over the years?

Sherie: I was always interested in having a healthy life. However my performing quasi-career figured into that was good. I wasn't interested in making huge sacrifices. It's not really a career. "Career" is a funny word for an actor – because we're not dentists! It's whatever job sounds interesting and whichever one I'm fortunate to get. And then there's the jobs you have to do to make money. I always keep that in perspective. What's important to me is to have a life. I have a great husband and always had a great life.

Eugene: Do you have a favorite moment or song on-stage in The Little Mermaid?

Sherie: Every time I'm on-stage, it's pretty choice! As Ursula would say, it's "meaty." I enjoy every time I get to go out there. It's going to be difficult to find another job after this one because I can see what it's like to look-forward to going on stage every single day. I haven't missed a show – that's luck. But I love the people I play with. Every time I go on-stage with Sierra Boggess or Tyler Maynard and Derrick Baskin – they are all great actors and so fun to play with. This is an incredibly enjoyable time. Also, the audiences – how diverse they are age-wise and ethnicity and income. It's not just a bunch of rich old people.  We get all sorts of enthusiastic people.

Eugene: Do you think being a mother helps you enjoy this musical more?

Sherie: I've always liked kids. The thing that annoys me is the parents. [laughs] That's how I've always been. What's great is that my kid's friends can come see the show and can come backstage. That's fun. It's also the first time my son is old enough to come play with me in-between shows. It's a dream situation of being a working-mom and having your kid come see you at work. I wish every mom had that opportunity.

Eugene: You boast one of the most gorgeous and shocking costumes in The Little Mermaid. Can you walk me through the steps of the physical transformation of turning into Ursula?

Sherie: I think it's 40-pounds of stuff on me… They don't really tell me and I probably wouldn't want to know! The truth is, I've worn more uncomfortable shoes in shows than this entire costume. They've made it incredibly comfortable. It's easy to get on. My dresser, Mel, does not have to carry it up the stairs of the Lunt-Fontanne. It's in its own little chamber stage-left.  At hour, I disrobe and the make-up and hair people come to my dressing room. It's about 20 minutes to put on the wig, and while they're putting on the wig, they're putting on the make-up.  Then I get about 20 minutes before curtain, I'm done and get time to gather my thoughts, text, do some emails, warm-up my voice. About five minutes until places, I start to get dressed. I walk down in my "fanny" – my big heavy butt. I ever-so gingerly walk down the stairs, go stage-left and they put on my tentacles.  Then I bounce up and move out. They take off my tentacles every time I come off-stage because they can't fit through doorways, so I'm actually very unencumbered. It's not always this easy, but it's Disney! And they're very interested in making the form also functional. They're goal is to make it look beautiful and wearable.

Eugene: You're helping two wonderful causes, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative…

Sherie: For me, I have to not do so many benefits because I'm a mom – I like to give my time to my family. But at the same time, I want to serve the community. Women's health is very important to me.  So You May Now Worship Me allows me to do that!

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS presents Sherie Rene Scott in You May Now Worship Me. Conceived and Written by Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott, Musical Direction by Tom Kitt, and Directed by Michael Mayer.

A benefit for The Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of The Actors' Fund on Monday, March 31 2008 at The Eugene (230 West 49th Street). 8:00 PM Performance. 10:00 PM Post-performance VIP Party.

Order Tickets Online at BroadwayCares.org or call 212-840-0770 ext. 268.

Photos: Sherie Rene Scott (headshot); Sherie Rene Scott as Ursula (by Joan Marcus, 2007); You May Now Worship Me BC/EFA Poster

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Eugene Lovendusky Eugene Lovendusky graduated summa cum laude from SFSU with a BA in Writing for Electronic Media and a minor in Drama. Raised in the SF Bay Area, his love for the arts bloomed at an early-age; a passion that has flourished in NYC, where Eugene now lives and works. He is a proud member of the New York City Gay Mens' Chorus.