Sullivan Rolls Around In Young Frankenstein
I still remember seeing this great movie in the theatre when it was released...why do I keep coming close to revealing my age? OK, I admit it...I am a huge Mel Brooks fan and was asked to speak to the lady who would be taking over the role of Inga in Young Frankenstein. I guess this puts me in the six degrees of Mel Brooks game now and it was more than a pleasure on my part to talk with Kelly Sullivan.
Sullivan's Broadway credits include the Tony Award-winning show Contact and Bells Are Ringing. She appeared in and was the assistant director for Broadway Under the Stars, held annually at Bryant Park in NYC and broadcast live on CBS. Her TV/Film credits includes "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," The Producers and the upcoming My Father's Will, Winter of Frozen Dreams and Greta (with Ellen Burstyn). She most recently played Shelby in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Steel Magnolias. She also has her own website at www.kelly-sullivan.com.
TJ: You're playing Inga in Young Frankenstein! Congratulations!!
SULLIVAN: Thanks! It was such a wonderful gift. I am so grateful...I'm still pinching myself. It's so much fun. I love working in Stroman creations. I am having a blast up there. I just love it...I LOVE IT!!!
TJ: What a nice job to have. Now, this is your first lead on Broadway?
TJ: Did you go to an open audition for the role or what were the circumstances surrounding this?
SULLIVAN: I was doing a production of Steel Magnolias at PaperMill and my agent called. They said I have an audition for Young Frankenstein for Inga. The day of the audition was the first day after my show came down at Papermill. So, I went to the audition and sang for Susan Stroman and Patrick Brady, the music director. They called me back a week later and Mel Brooks was there and a couple of other people in the room and Susan Stroman again. And a couple of weeks later, I came back a third time and I was auditioning with Roger Bart. It looked to me like there were 150 people in the room, when there was really only about 10. I mean all the people...the producers, all the people on board were there. I sang with Roger and a couple of weeks later, I got the job. It was just a special, magical moment for me.
TJ: What did you do to celebrate?
SULLIVAN: Oh gosh. Okay, well, when my agent called me, I was teaching Pilates. I was with a client...that's sort of my other job. I love Pilates! My phone rang and I sort of had the feeling it was them. I answered and my agent said, "You got the job!" I still had 15 minutes of my session. I finished up and went outside and called all my friends. Then we went out to dinner and toasted. I feel like I celebrated that whole week because every night was just going out with another friend...another dinner, another restaurant.
And then, I had another month to five weeks till I started rehearsals, so it was a great time for me to see all the Broadway shows I could see and I think I saw like 8-10 Broadway shows. That was my treat to myself.
TJ: Had you seen Young Frankenstein before your audition?
SULLIVAN: I did. And what was so funny was that when I saw it, I never realized how difficult it was going to be until then. Sutton Foster...I have so much respect for her. She just makes everything look so easy. When I did Contact, I saw the show and remember thing that this was going to be so difficult to learn. And then, when I saw Young Frankenstein, I remember thinking that this is going to be so much fun and it's going to be OK. I am not in over my head.
I started rehearsals and thought to myself, "You've got to be kidding me. This is so hard...I don't know how I am going to do this and make it look so effortless." And that was a big challenge for me. But I love challenges and it was a wonderful thing for me as a goal of mine.
SULLIVAN: I did! I did the Springtime for Hitler section in the movie. I was on the set and there was a lot going on. I remember seeing him, he had his chair, and I saw him from a distance. I never had the opportunity to speak with him. But at my audition, we did communicate in the room and he was just really fun and made me feel comfortable and made he laugh. He made the experience really tangible. I remember feeling very welcomed. And Susan Stroman the same thing. They both instantly made me feel like I was sitting in my apartment singing for a friend. I am so thankful for that experience because you walk in there thinking, "I am singing for Mel Brooks! I want to be funny. I want to be good!"
TJ: This is a great thing to happen to you right now, especially since I hear that you are getting married this year as well?
SULLIVAN: Oh my god! My other part time job this year is the wedding. And I'm not getting paid for that. You get out of it what you put into it. My family is all in Seattle and Brian and I decided to get married here. Thank God I have a couple of really good friends. When we decided to get married in October, it was obviously before I got this job and it's very exciting. There are actually a couple of girls in Young Frankenstein getting married before me and then I'm getting married. It's just been amazing and wonderful.
It's funny because we went and bought our wedding bands from Michael C. Fina. I was sitting in a chair and this wonderful woman was selling me my ring. She asked me what I liked to do and I told her what I do. And she said, "You're in Young Frankenstein?!! Oh my God! Michael C. Fina has collaboration with Young Frankenstein. Anybody who buys a wedding band from us gets 2 tickets to see Young Frankenstein!" And I said, "Well, how about you take off the price of the tickets for me because I am in the show!" [laughing] Yeah, it's been great. I am so excited!
TJ: Is your future husband in the business?
SULLIVAN: No, he's not in the business. He's an attorney and it's awesome because we have such a fun time sharing our lives and each other. He loves what I do and is so supportive and enamored with it. It's a fun thing to share with him.
TJ: I understand that you're an animal lover and have a pug named Guinevere? Are you a fan of Camelot?
SULLIVAN: [laughing] Well, I always loved that song, [singing] 'Guinevere, Guinevere. And when I saw my dog at this pug animal rescue, if you can believe they have one in existence, I just saw her sitting there with this look on her face. I just said, "You're name is Guinevere." It was such an oxymoron for her. She is very much a Lady Guinevere to me. She's been in two shows of mine, Private Lives and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and she was mentioned in both reviews. She's quite the diva.
Well, the best to you, Kelly, with the show and the upcoming wedding and many thanks for talking with us. And you can catch this talented lady, sans pug, in Young Frankenstein, The Musical, now playing at the Hilton Theatre on 42nd Street at 7th Avenue. For tickets, call (212) 307-4100 or visit the Box Office at the theatre. And as always, folks, ciao and remember, theatre is my life!!
Productions Photos by Paul Kolnik