BWW Interviews: Natalie Weiss Talks Houston Workshops and Cabaret Concerts
Continuing with the popular Straight From New York Concert Series and workshops, Tyce Green, in partnership with Bryan-Keyth Wilson's The Wilson School of Acting & Musical Theatre, is bringing YouTube sensation, American Idol alum, and stage veteran Natalie Weiss to Houston, TX. In anticipation of her workshops and cabaret performances, I recently spoke with her about her burgeoning career and her Houston concerts and workshops.
BWW: How did you first get involved in theatre?
Natalie Weiss: I went to a performing arts high school for half a day. Well, starting out, I went to a sleep away camp that did shows. I started out with piano lessons first. I always played sports, so I kind of had to quit sports to take singing lessons and become more serious about it. Growing up, I did maybe one community theatre show and mostly just like high school musicals. Then, I majored in musical theatre at Penn State.
BWW: When did you know you wanted to perform professionally?
Natalie Weiss: I think I always grew up wanting to be a pop star. I realized that you can't really major in pop stardom, so I got into theatre, saw musicals, and saw concerts. I saw a lot of pop concerts growing up, and I realized musical theatre is kind of the route I had to take. I think I realized I wanted to major in it-and majoring in it means you want to perform professionally-probably my junior or senior year of high school.
BWW: You've been involved with hit shows like WICKED and LES MISERABLES. What were those experiences like for you?
Natalie Weiss: Well, WICKED was very short. I was replacing someone who got injured, so I only got to see two cities. I was only doing the ensemble role because there was no time to teach me the other role. That was very quick, but LES MIZ was an almost three year tour experience. I got to start with a new company from the beginning, which was cool. We went through the whole tech process, I got to learn all the tracks, I got to see probably 85 cities, and I got paid to travel.
BWW: What was the inspiration for your "Breaking Down the Riffs" web series?
Natalie Weiss: People would always be coming to me in college and saying, "Help me with this riff" or "Help me with this pop song." A couple of years ago, one of my friends taught me how to learn this really hard Mariah Carey riff-the one in episode two. I was like, "I could never figure that out." He said, "It's easy. It's just in four sections." He, for lack of better words, "broke it down" for me, but it wasn't coined break it down. He just kind of separated the sections into counts, saying "1,2,3,4,5. 1,2,3,4," and he taught it to me. I was like "Oh, that's so easy now."
Then, the Beyoncé "Halo" riff was everyone's favorite riff at the time. A different friend told me, "I can't do it." I said, "Yeah, you can. Let me just count the notes. It's 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 notes." It kind of skips the 5th note in the scale, so it should be 1,2,3,4,6,7,8, but the terminology made more since with 7. So, I told her to tilt her head on the 5th note, and she got it.
I was just going to film one video with a bunch of riffs, and my friend said, "Why don't you do one riff per video?" Then, I asked my friend to film it with an iPhone, and he said, "I have this good camera." So, he filmed it, not knowing anything. I didn't plan anything else out. I didn't know he was such a good editor. It just kind of became what it is-bigger than I thought.
BWW: In Houston, you'll be conducting workshops with local students. What are you looking forward to the most about that experience?
Natalie Weiss: I'll be able to teach a bunch of different groups of students throughout the week. I won't just be making an appearance at one school and then leaving the city. I'll be able to hopefully maybe see them more than once since I'll be there for the week. I don't know if they'll repeat or if I'll see a different group everyday. I'm always excited to teach, in general, and I'm excited to meet people in Houston!