Shout!'s 'Green Girl:' 10 Questions for Erica Schroeder

A bright and melodious time warp, Shout!: The Mod Musical has brought the '60s to the stage of Off-Broadway's Julia Miles Theatre.

That sexy, swinging and subversive decade is reflected through a spectrum of lives—those of five young British women (identified by the color of their outfits) whose stories are illuminated by such '60s standards such as "Downtown," "Son of a Preacher Man," and "Diamonds Are Forever." Erica Schroeder--who is American despite her appearance in a thigh-baring Union Jack minidress--plays the resident good time girl of Shout!, "The Green Girl."  With her vivid red tresses and flirty vivacity, Schroeder's Green Girl might be said to be the Ann-Margret of Carnaby Street.

The actress, who has previously appeared on Broadway in Jane Eyre, Off-Broadway in After the Fair, and regionally in such shows as Cinderella and Phantom, is a talented and insightful performer who thinks of her "life and career as a patchwork quilt, colorful, diverse, unique, and imperfect, with one square representing my husband, one my musical theatre experience, one my performance in plays and so on. Shout!: The Mod Musical is the newest patch and perhaps one of the most colorful yet!"

MC: Please tell us a bit about your character...the "Green Girl." How would you distinguish her from the other four?

The Green Girl loves a good time...if you know what I mean. She has a great sense of humor. Basically, she's "the most lovable slut you'll ever meet." All the women in the show have a great arc. Even though the show is about the songs and the stories and events behind them, it's also about these women coming of age and figuring out what their role is in society from the early '60s to when the '70s begin.

MC: Had you been a fan of 60's music and mod fashion before going into the show?

ES: I definitely appreciated '60s music. My uncle and I used to take long road trips to visit my grandmother when I was going to NYU. We'd listen to Petula Clark and other 60's music and sing at the top of our lungs the whole time. I also used to listen to '60s music with my mother when I was in high school in our big-ass red dodge conversion van (my mothers handle on the CB radio was "Big Red Mama"). My mother liked to sing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" with me--counterpoint and all.

As far as the fashion of mod 60's goes...I've always loved it. I bought a mod dress while still in college for an audition I had for Marsha Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie. It may have been a little too mod for the American 60's, but I think it worked just fine. I ended up wearing it a lot and it became one of my favorite pieces. I have to admit (fast forward several years) I was a little terrified of wearing the mini's in the show...and I do wear one of the miniest of the minis. What better motivation is there to get in better shape than imagining your thighs exposed, watusyin' and a shimmyin' all over the stage. I was use to wearing things that accentuated and flattered my bust and waist (just shakin' what my mama gave me) and definitely not my thighs.

MC: Your character is coming of age in a pretty eventful time! Did you do a lot of research for Shout!?

ES: I definitely did some research. I concentrated mostly on the women who sang these songs because I didn't really know what was going to be in the script until a few days before the rehearsals began. I studied what was going on in their lives when they were at pinnacles in their careers. I also looked at what was going on around the world and in England when these songs were being written and seeing how they reflected the society they were springing forth from.

I listened to a lot of the music to get an idea of the sounds. Every decade has a completely different sound not just musically but vocally. I would go so far as to say there are definite vocal trends for every generation as well as accents and I'm not talking about regionalisms. For example, in the 40's the Andrew Sisters sounded like they were chewing taffy and kissing while they sang (at least that's how I can describe it). I haven't read anything about this, it's just the way I break down the sounds of the times.

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Maya Cantu Maya Cantu recently graduated from Virginia's James Madison University, where she majored in theatre. She is very excited about starting her MFA in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale School of Drama this fall. Maya was once a performer, and played roles ranging from eccentric mediums (Blithe Spirit) to slain noblewomen (Macbeth) to founding fathers (1776). While she hasn't been to an audition in ages, Maya still delights in belting showtunes - sometimes on key - at piano bars.