BWW INTERVIEWS: The Leads of CPA's CAROUSEL Take On The Friday Five On Thursday!

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Inspired by BroadwayWorld.com's Friday Six, welcome to Nashville.BroadwayWorld.com's latest installment of The Friday Five: five questions designed to help you learn more about the talented people you'll find onstage throughout the Volunteer state. We realize it's Thursday, but we have a very good reason for shifting the date for this particular edition.

Today, the spotlight falls upon Gabrielle Toldeo, Meg Perdue and Patrick Eytchison, a trio of particularly talented young actors who tonight will open in Carousel at Nashville's Christ Presbyterian Academy. Under the direction of the acclaimed Paula Y. Flautt, who has instructed, influenced, directed and mentored CPA students for the past 20 years, tonight's performance comes on the 67th anniversary of the beloved musical's opening night on Broadway!

Meg Perdue, the senior who appears as Julie Jordan, was named to the All-Star Cast at the TTA Conference in October 2010, when she appeared as Cherry in Flautt's award-winning one-act adaptation of The Outsiders. Her roles at CPA include Penny Sycamore in You Can't Take it with You, Golde in Fiddler on the Roof, a torch-singing version of Feste in Twelfth Night, and Jack's Mother in Into the Woods (the Tennessee Thespian Conference Main Stage selection in January 2009) and Miss Hannigan in Annie. At Bravo Creative Arts Center in Franklin, Perdue played the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella and Sandy in Grease.

Seniors Patrick Eytchison (Billy Bigelow) and Gabrielle Toledo (Carrie Pipperidge) also bring a lot of stage experience, particularly in musical theatre. Eytchison has appeared at CPA as Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof, Martin Vanderhof in You Can't Take It with You, Darry in The Outsiders and Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night; with the Star Bright Players in Franklin, he has played Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Tony Brockhurst in The Boy Friend, Mr. Darling in Peter Pan, The Minstrel in Once Upon a Mattress, as well as featured roles in Oklahoma! Snoopy, Annie Get Your Gun, Music Man, Meet Me in St. Louis and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

At CPA, Toledo has played Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, Alice Sycamore in You Can't Take It with You, Olivia in Twelfth Night, and Tinker Bell in Peter Pan, as well as supporting roles in Hello Dolly!, Much Ado About Nothing and Into the Woods. Eytchison and Toledo were chosen to perform selections on the Main Stage at this year's Tennessee Thespian Conference.

Find out what makes Gabrielle Toledo, Meg Perdue and Patrick Eytchison tick-what keeps them going show after show, role after role-in today's special Thursday installment of The Friday Five and then get yourself to Christ Presbyterian Academy this weekend for a very special performance of Carousel

 

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Gabrielle Toledo (playing Carrie Pipperidge in CPA's Carousel)

What was your first "live onstage" taste of theater? One of the first times that I truly felt the electric "alive" feeling of being on stage was my sophomore year when I was Tinker Bell in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. I had felt that electricity before, but Tinker Bell was my first lead role and for the first time, I felt like, for just a moment, I could hold the whole audience captive. It was in a word, "magical."

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? Oh wow, there are so many! However, almost every show my best friend, Meg Perdue, who will be starring as Julie in Carousel, and I and whoever else wants to, will take each other hand in hand and dance to the beginning music of the musical or whatever music there is, maybe even without any music. It always makes us so happy and reminds us of our mutual love for the theatre and the arts. 

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? Well, I have fortunately not had very many of these moments! However I did have a moment a little like this this past fall semester when we were putting on You Can't Take It with You. Production week snuck up on all of us, and the whole cast seemed to be falling apart. We were all so frustrated and there was yelling, anger and tension, and I truly thought someone was going to quit. Then opening night came around and something happened. We pulled together, pressed on, and the show was better than it had ever been. It was like magic. Everyone set aside their issues and they acted better than I had ever seen them act.

 What's your dream role? Oh, is it not every girl's dream to play Christine in Phantom of the Opera?  For me, she was one of those pivotal characters in life that gave me enough inspiration to try and achieve the impossible, and stirred a longing in me to be a part of something that beautiful. 

Who's your theatrical crush? I am not very educated on all the heartthrobs of the stage world, but I think Jude Law is beautiful, and I hear he did a wonderful job in Hamlet!

 

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Meg Perdue (playing Julie Jordan in CPA's Carousel)

What was your first "live onstage" taste of theater? Aside from church musicals, I landed my very first role as Sandy in Grease at Bravo, a local children's community theatre.  It was so thrilling!

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I love that moment right before I walk on the stage. I shake away all of the anxiety, I take a deep breath, and I focus my eyes on the way my character would; and then, I take that first step. There is NOTHING more exhilarating!

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? When I was playing Miss Hannigan in Annie, one of my cast members completely missed his cue.  While one of the stagehands was frantically searching for him backstage, I decided to play an "evil Miss Hannigan" game with the orphans.  I remember it had something to do with "picking up every speck of dust off the floor!"  When I looked backstage and saw that he was not coming any time soon, I remember thinking, "Well, this should be fun!"

What's your dream role? I am almost always typecast into older characters so I have always looked forward to the day that I can play someone my REAL age. Playing those characters THEN would seem so much richer. That being said, I dream of playing roles like Amanda in The Glass Menagerie, Dolly in Hello Dolly! and even Diana in Next to Normal.

Who's your theatrical crush? Ever since seeing Next to Normal, I have admired Aaron Tveit. This past summer, I saw him on Broadway in Catch Me If You Can and I fell in love!  

 

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Patrick Eytchison (playing Billy Bigelow in CPA's Carousel)

What was your first "live onstage" taste of theater? The first I can remember is the Nutcracker Ballet back in Fayetteville, Georgia. I can't remember how I ended up in it, but my sister Emily and I were both cast as toy soldiers. That was fun, but the problem was, they gave a whole bunch of six-year-old boys cap gun rifles, sent us out on stage and told us, "Do not fire these!" Which, of course, meant that the second we got on stage, "Pop, pop, pop," we all fired the rifles, again and again.

What is your favorite pre-show ritual? When I was with Star Bright Players, before every show, we always circled up and "energized" the theater. The director, Mrs. Milstead, would say, "Send energy to the sound equipment" and we would all shake our hands and throw the energy and yell "Wooo!" We did this for every component of the show, especially the ones we were worried about.

What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? My most memorable and most recent "show must go on" moment was during You Can't Take It with You this fall. First of all, I had aggravated something in my knee in a football game a few weeks before the show and I had to take a couple of games off. So just when I was starting to get better, during a dress rehearsal two nights before opening, I somehow missed the fact that there was a stool in front of me and I slammed the top of my injured knee directly into the stool. I managed to make it through the first act, but was in so much pain I was unable to continue. I went home and iced it, but it was swollen up like a grapefruit. I missed the final rehearsal, and then the day of the show, we reworked all my scenes using a cane--and that included going up and down some very narrow stairs. Fortunately, my character was Grandpa Martin Vanderhof, and so the cane worked with the character. I was in a lot of pain even with pain pills, but it went off, for the most part, without a hitch. In fact, my limping was so convincing people commented on how much I acted like a Grandpa. They didn't know that it wasn't an act.

What's your dream role? Having already played one of my dream roles, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, with Star Bright Players, I would really like to do the Kaufman and Hart play, The Man Who Came To Dinner, and play SheriDan Whiteside, because it's always more fun to be elegant and egotistical.

Who's your theatrical crush? Ethel Merman. I'm kidding. I don't watch enough live theatre to make an informed decision on this, but Sherie Rene Scott is pretty cool. I have a lot of The Last Five Years on my iPod.

 

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Jeffrey Ellis Jeffrey Ellis is a Nashville-based writer, editor and critic, who's been covering the performing arts in Tennessee for more than 25 years. He is the recipient of the Tennessee Theatre Association's Distinguished Service Award for his coverage of theatre in the Volunteer State and was the founding editor/publisher of Stages, the Tennessee Onstage Monthly. He is a past fellow of the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and is the founder/executive producer of The First Night Honors, held during Labor Day Weekend, which honor oustanding theater artists in Tennessee in recognition of their lifetime achievements and includes The First Night Star Awards and the Most Promising Actors. Midwinter's First Night, held the first Sunday in January after New Year's Day, honors outstanding productions and performances throughout the state. Further, Ellis directed the Nashville premiere of La Cage Aux Folles, The Last Night of Ballyhoo and An American Daughter, as well as award-winning productions of Damn Yankees, Company, Gypsy and The Rocky Horror Show, with Ellis honored by The Tennessean as best director of a musical for both Company and Rocky Horror.


 
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