BWW Interviews: LMNOP's Madeline Trumble Talks MARY POPPINS, Actor's Survival, And The Importance Of Being Nice
Based on Mark Dunn's successful book, Ella Minnow Pea, the musical LMNOP will open at TUTS Underground on April 7. Actress Madeline Trumble plays Ella Minnow Pea, a passionate, rabble-rouser of a teenager who's not afraid to stand up for what she believes. With music by Paul Loesel and book and lyrics by Scott Burkell, LMNOP is about freedom of expression and personal liberties, wrapped in a refreshing package of romance and word play. A fellow native Californian, Trumble gave me the scoop on what it's like to play Mary Poppins, work on Broadway, and survive in the cut-throat world of theatre.
Broadway World: LMNOP is an original production. What are the benefits of playing a character that is new to audiences, versus playing a part that's well-known?
Madeline Trumble: This is the first time I've gotten to perform a role no one's met before! I've only ever performed in classic musicals, in well-known roles. No matter what, there's always something unsettling about taking on a role that everyone knows; for which they have standards and expectations. I'm so excited to be the first Ella audiences in Houston get to see! To know I will be the first person they hear this story from is incredibly thrilling and slightly nerve wracking. I'd better have REALLY clear diction!
It's also exciting, as an actor, to get to play a role that's new to me. When I do the show, I won't have an original broadway cast recording playing in my ear or that scene from the movie going in my head! It's going to make the final product so personal- so me!
BWW: You play Ella Minnow Pea. What is she like?
M.T. : Oh man! She's a tough cookie. First of all- she's brilliant. She comes from a community that values, almost worships, language. They take pride in the power of their brains. Ella is a lover of books and uses them as an escape from what she thinks is a boring life on her island home of "Nollop". She's also a teenager. She's just graduated from high school, so she's experiencing all the teenage feelings of rebellion, passion, yearning and of course- all that teenage angst. She also shows incredible compassion for the people and things she cares about. Possessing these intense feelings along with her incredibly powerful brain creates quite the complex and fiery little lady. With her passion and smarts, she ends up leading her island on their journey to reclaim what they hold most dear. And all of this at the age of 18! She's definitely someone you'd want in your corner. She would win any argument and then, after she annihilates you, she'd make sure you're ok and didn't hurt your feelings too badly. It's an honor to play such a strong woman who cares so deeply about her family and her values. I'm learning more and more from her every day.
BWW: You were in the cast of Newsies on Broadway. There is so much competition in your profession- How do you handle it? Have you ever been really disappointed about not getting a role? What advice would you give struggling actors?
M.T. : This is such a tough question. Because it's such a tough life! I'm still figuring out how to navigate it. Actors face rejection every single time we put ourselves out there. And 99 times out of 100- we are rejected. It's like one break up after another. Truly! Ouch. But at the end of each day, when you're facing yet another heart break, you have to know that you are a good person. A talented person. A worthy person. And then you have to forget about it and move on. We also MUST have other interests and passions besides performing. It was such a rude awakening going from having musical theatre as my hobby (I was always in a show growing up) to being in college and graded on it! No one had every graded me on my singing ability or my turnout! And then what was even harder was when performing became my job. I felt so totally lost. If performing was work for me, what was I supposed to do for fun? I pretty much DON'T get jobs every week. Literally. And no matter, it always sucks so hard. There are definitely a few I still think about with a heavy heart. But there are also a lot I've totally forgotten about. They weren't meant to be!
We as actors, have a weird complex about apologizing. Especially as women. We've got to stop this. If you mess up (and you WILL mess up) own it and move on. Also- please please please, be kind to everyone. I think this is something that is forgotten far too often in our business. Be nice to each other. Be nice to yourself. Learn the names of the prop guy, the fly guy, your dresser. Always say "thank you". People will remember you if you're kind. They'll also remember you if you are unkind! And never ever ever forget that everything really does happen for a reason. Sometimes, that reason takes a long time to show its face- but it will! And if you truly believe that it all happens for a reason, you are unable to live your life with regrets! Isn't that fantastic!?! It all happens unable to live your life with regrets! Isn't that fantastic!?! It all happens how it is supposed to!
BWW: You played Mary Poppins in the U.S. National Tour. What a great role! What qualities could you relate to in that character?
M.T. : I get this question all the time! Mary Poppins is everyone's dream woman. Dream nanny, mother, friend. She truly is "practically perfect in every way". Let's just get this out of the way- I am maybe the most imperfect person... ever. I've never faced such a difficult acting challenge IN MY LIFE! But I will say that, above all else, Mary Poppins is caring and kind. All she wants is to improve the lives of those around her. She's also got a great sense of humor. All I truly want is to be happy, make people happy, and laugh. What's better than that? But other than that- we couldn't be more different. I am clumsy and ungraceful (I spent many a rehearsal hour practicing how to stand and hold my hands and feet in the Poppins way). I've got quite the sailor mouth, I've got a cavity that needs filling, my socks never match, and my face definitely sweats too much. So yeah- acting challenge OF A LIFETIME!
BWW: If you could play any role in musical theatre, what would it be?
M.T. : My favorite question! Also the hardest! I'll give you the abbreviated list. The roles at the tippy top of my dream list are- Eva in EVITA, Marian in THE MUSIC MAN, Cathy in THE LAST FIVE YEARS, and Mother in RAGTIME. But like- the list is as long as I am tall. Which is five feet and seven inches.
BWW: When you have down time, what do you like to do for fun?
M.T.: Is it cliché to say I love hanging out with my friends? (It is and I do.) I just have the greatest friends! I love being around people who make me happy and make me laugh! My mom is for sure at the top of my list. I love vintage shopping. I love the hunt for the best bargain. I'd say it's my "guilty pleasure" but I find the coolest clothes at the best deals so I never feel guilty! I love fitness classes. Spinning or yoga are a daily must! You can't leave a SoulCycle class in a bad mood. I also just moved into a new apartment, so I'm obsessed with decorating it. Definitely not the cheapest hobby, but it's fabulous! I also think living in New York City is the best extracurricular activityone can have. There are always new things to do, exciting places to go, interesting people to meet! I cannot wait for it to get warm again so I can spend my time wandering the streets of the city. New York City is the love of my life.
LMNOP runs at the Hobby Center (Zilka Hall) from April 7-19. For tickets: http://tutsunderground.com/LMNOP
Madeline Trumble Photo Credit: Courtesy of TUTS
Show Image: Courtesy of TUTS