BWW Interviews: Actress/Singer Susan Egan Talks About March 1 Concert at Arcadia High School
Prolific Broadway singer/actress Susan Egan will perform a benefit concert on March 1 at Arcadia High School. She talks about the concert and other career tidbits in our chat below.
Tell me about some of the wonderful things you are doing in the concert on March 1. You are singing with a children's chorus I've been told?
Yes. The program on March 1 includes songs with the Arcadia High School theatre company. I travel around the world and perform concerts - and what I love in addition to performing concerts, is arts outreach. But what I like most, is instead of just doing a master class and doing a concert I like putting the two together. What you would instruct students to do, in a class, and what you would do to rehearse a concert are very similar. From my experiences, I can often give students more insight, helping them understand the song better. For example, during the rehearsal for the March 1 concert, the Arcadia High School students and I had a long conversation about "Seasons of Love" from Rent and it enhanced their performance. The students and I are doing four songs together. They will also be singing two songs from their upcoming production, Curtains.
I saw you do Putting It Together with Carol Burnett a while back at the Taper and in the non-musical play Amy's View. That showed a great display of versatility on your part, as the two were like night and day. Did you enjoy doing these roles? Talk a little about that.
Yes, they are very different. Putting it Together is a musical revue of Stephen Sondheim -- with a lot for an actor to mine out of the material. I performed opposite Carol Burnett - who is one of my most important role models. I went to college on a Carol Burnett scholarship, so it was even more meaningful to work in a show with her.
Working with her was an experience beyond any and all of my expectations. And knowing her - I am always reminded to continue to be generous and gracious to the performers who are in the next generation. That is why I like working with students so much. It reminds me to think about where I've been and how I can help them in where they are going.
I did Amy's View with Carol Lawrence. In college, I did a lot of plays -- Shakespeare, Chekov, Ibsen, and Shaw -- so this was a lot of fun to get to do. If you can sing, you often end up in musicals because they run for six years, but I love doing plays when I get a chance.
And talk a little about Belle in Beauty and the Beast as well.
It's been 20 years since the opening - so it's time to reflect. The students that I am working with weren't born when the show started - and the show and cast album, still speak to them.
It was my first first Broadway show, and it was the first Disney show. Looking back, it is easy to see that Disney ended up starting a new golden age of Broadway musicals. After Beauty and the Beast, they revitalized the New Amsterdam Theatre, brought The Lion King to Broadway - and ushered in an entirely new, younger, family audience.
A few years later - when I was in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Cabaret, there were huge teenage audiences for Broadway shows - much due to the success of the Disney Shows. And then Universal Pictures, Sony and Dreamworks followed - bringing properties they owned to Broadway.
People complain that musicals are all based on movies these days - but in all eras of Broadway, shows have been based on other materials. Earlier it was plays and novels, because the movies were such a young medium. And now there are lots of movies that are good to base musicals from.