BWW Interviews: Talking SONDHEIM With Pamela Myers
Actress Pamela Myers is currently starring as one of eight ensemble members in Great Lakes Theater's production of SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM. This production – a collaboration with PlayhouseSquare as part of their KeyBank Broadway series – is a regional premiere and the first production mounted since the show ran on Broadway in 2010.
SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM is billed as "the revue of a lifetime" and highlights the long and varied career of composer Stephen Sondheim. Featuring over 40 songs from his many musicals (including selections from WEST SIDE STORY, FOLLIES, MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG and more), as well as current and vintage video clips of Sondheim himself, this show is a must-see for Cleveland area audiences.
A veteran of stage and screen, Pamela Myers has starred in several of Sondheim's works, including INTO THE WOODS, GYPSY, SWEENEY TODD and SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. She was also a member of the original Broadway cast of COMPANY, for which she received a Tony nomination. Trained at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Myers also enjoys teaching and has spent the past four summers sharing her knowledge with students in the Cabaret Conference at Yale University.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Pamela Myers a few questions about her role in SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM …
Having been in the original production of COMPANY and the revival of INTO THE WOODS, what sort of relationship do you have with Stephen Sondheim?
I have a very friendly relationship with Stephen. He has been so good to me over the years and I will always be grateful to him for the gift of a wonderful song to sing. I have the original manuscript to "Another Hundred People" that is written in a different key, from the first day of rehearsal of COMPANY when we changed the key.
In SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM you get to perform two very iconic songs – "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and "Send In The Clowns". Is it difficult to develop your own interpretations when some audience members are going to have strong attachments to particular versions?
I am old enough to remember [Ethel] Merman, having worked with her a few times … she will always be in my ear for the sound. I have done GYPSY and have been told several times over the years that I sound like her at times. I have no one in my ear for "Send In The Clowns" because I have heard so many different people sing it. I saw the original A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC so the challenge for me is to take both songs out of context and put them in a revue without the benefit of the story behind them.
What are some of your favorite moments, either to perform or watch other cast members perform, in SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM?
I love the opening of Act II with the film of Sondheim correcting me and then singing "Another Hundred People" and then singing the "God" number. I hated that song in rehearsal but it's so fun to do. I also love all the funny little bits I do throughout the show … and I like watching "The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened" … it always makes me laugh. Also Emily [Walton] in "Getting Married Today" … she is adorable and amazing. In fact, I think this cast is terrific!
Whose idea was it to include "Another Hundred People"? How is it performing the song 40 years after COMPANY debuted on Broadway?
It was Vicky [Bussert]'s idea! She was a wonderful director for this. She had directed me in GYPSY and THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD and knows me well and she's a Sondheim geek too! Singing the song is a pleasure and a great way for me to say thanks to Stephen. It's a challenge for me because it's in a very specific high belt mix place in my voice and singing in a low belt place right after for "Everything's Coming Up Roses" is like shifting gears abruptly … sorry, singer talk!
Have you brought anything special with you to feel more "at home" while you're here in Cleveland?
I always bring things from home when I'm in a city for a few months. I'm a very home oriented person. I love to cook and I bring kitchen items like my garlic press, food processor, coffee grinder, etc. Also photos of my family, throw pillows and quilts, bed pillows. I always have fresh flowers and of course my sweet kitty Lucy Tune!
SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM runs through July 8th at the Hanna Theatre with evening and matinee performances available. Tickets range from $10 to $60. Purchase tickets online at www.playhousesquare.org or by calling the box office at 216.241.6000. The Hanna Theatre is located at 2047 E. 14th Street, in downtown Cleveland.
Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni