BWW Interviews: Carla R. Stewart From GHOST Tour Answers Our Silly Questions
If you've seen the touring company of GHOST: THE MUSICAL recently, either at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood or its current stop at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa (through August 10), then you'll no doubt recognize the vivacious Carla R. Stewart, who serves up quippy one-liners and sassy comebacks nightly as Oda Mae Brown in the stage musical version of the popular Academy Award-nominated film.
Before playing ghost-whisperer Oda Mae, Stewart has played roles in such musicals as AIN'T MISBEHAVIN', RENT, GREASE, HAIRSPRAY and THE WIZ.
While the tour settles into its final week in Orange County, we thought we'd play 20 (silly) questions with her...
Subject: Carla R. Stewart
Hometown: "I'm a Chi-town native!"
Hi Carla! I hope you're enjoying Southern California! You're currently playing Oda Mae Brown in the stage adaptation of GHOST. What would you say was your most important challenge in approaching the character first made famous by Whoopi Goldberg (who won an Oscar for the role)?
Knowing that this was such an iconic role---with a name like Whoopi attached to it---it was very important to make it my own, so I moved through the rehearsal process by making bold choices, and [doing so] without going back to watch the movie.
What makes Oda Mae such an enjoyable character to play?
I love playing her because she has stretched me as a performer, it being such a comedic role.
Do you yourself believe that ghosts exist?
I can't say that I do but I do suspend my disbelief every night!
Which song do you look forward to performing each night?
Well I have two big songs in the show and it's very hard for me to choose. But as Oda Mae she's so happy in act two after receiving Ten Million Dollars that it makes you want to sing "I'm Outta Here."
Ha ha. Understandable. So, growing up, did you know early on that you wanted to be a musical theater performer?
No, but I always knew I wanted to sing... and I'm glad to have met a woman named June McClain who saw more than a voice and pushed me to act.
Who were some of your idols that influenced your love of the performing arts?
Cool! Okay... time for some lightning round questions! Do you have any pre-show rituals that you do before a performance?
I pray and thank God for this great opportunity and ask that he would bless the show. Also, because I have so much time before [my character] comes into the show, I love singing all the songs from the show.
Awesome! So which actress would you want to play YOU in the musical of YOUR life?
Wow, that's huge! I'm really not sure... but just off the top of my head: Tichina Arnold.
In one sentence, describe the inner monologue that goes through your head right before you step out on a stage?
These are my exact words each performance: "Let's GO!" meaning it is take-off time and there is no holding or going back.
What's the song you love belting in the shower or when you're all alone in the car?
I love gospel music, so I'm always singing something non-specific, but these days... I just sing along to my Pandora Mali music station.
What do you like to do on your day(s) off?
I like to sleep in, hang out with my friends, eat great food and just relax.
Nice! What scares you the most?
What is your guilty pleasure?
Pizza and Tacos.
Yum! What irritates you the most?
What instantly puts a smile on your face?
People who stand in doorways.
And what instantly puts a smile on your face?
A good-looking meal! [Laughs]
If you could trade lives with any one person for one day, who would that person be and why?
I would like to go back in time and trade lives with Tichina Arnold on the set of [the TV series] Martin. It is a dream of mine to be on a sitcom and in the 90's, Martin was a hit and still very funny today.
I loved her on that show, too! Okay, if you weren't a performer, what other career do you see yourself possibly doing?
I'd be a Cosmetologist! I actually had a license and I should probably get my license renewed. I still love it!
Great! Alright, any advice for our young readers in BroadwayWorld who want to be in musical theater just like you?
I would say that this field is for the thick-skinned and you have to work hard, study hard, and always present your best work... so when you leave an audition, you can rest in knowing that you gave your all. And if you don't get it, it won't be because you didn't do the work. There won't always be a "yes" but that's no reason to stop. Keep going and keep working hard because when the yes comes, its sooooo worth it!
Wonderful advice! Care to share with our readers a funny "blooper" moment that's happened to you during GHOST?
Well, in rehearsal, I used to always get caught looking at Sam and that was something to get used to since he's my scene partner and yet [my character] is not supposed to see him... you know, with the whole "Ghost" thing.
Naturally! Alright, lastly, what has been your absolute favorite moment of the GHOST tour experience so far?
I would have to say... traveling our country with great people and making new friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.
Awesome! Thanks for playing along, Carla, and enjoy the rest of your stay in Orange County!
Performances of GHOST - THE MUSICAL at Segerstrom Center for the Arts continue through Sunday, August 10, 2014. Tickets can be purchased online at www.SCFTA.org, by phone at 714-556-2787 or in person at the SCFTA box office (open daily at 10 am). Segerstrom Center for the Arts is located at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa.
For tickets or more information, visit SCFTA.org.