BWW Interviews: The Nutty Professor's CARLY BLAKE SEBOUHIAN Takes On THE NUTTY FIVE

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In the past week, the city of Nashville has gone kind of Nutty with the arrival of the cast, crew and company of The Nutty Professor Musical who have come to town in anticipation of opening night of their new musical, based on the beloved 1963 film comedy. With a musical score by Marvin Hamlisch (one of only two people-the other is Richard Rodgers-to win a Tony Award, an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and The Pulitzer Prize) and book and lyrics by Rupert Holmes (the three-time Tony Award-winner's musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood will be revived on Broadway later this year), Jerry Lewis-aka "the king of comedy"-directs the project, which is a longtime dream he's shared with the show's leading man Michael Andrew, who takes on the roles of Professor Julius Kelp and his smooth, suave and sexy doppelganger Buddy Love.

With the decision to launch the show's pre-Broadway life in Music City USA, the local theater community is filled with all manner of faces new and fresh and personalities winning and notable as the talented people of The Nutty Professor company make our fair city their home for at least six weeks. What better way to introduce them to Nashville than via our Nutty Five? That's five questions designed to let you get to know these amazing performers, which will hopefully make those awkward moments when you meet them face-to-face less embarrassing.

Obviously, my mama raised me right-and what better way is there to welcome these newcomers to our midst than with the public airing of some of their most embarrassing moments and the admission of their long-held dreams. Among those enormously gifted artistic types is ensemble member Carly Blake Sebouhian (who fairly drips stage presence in her performance-we got a sneak preview of a few numbers last Wednesday), whose ever-growing resume offers an account of her impressive theatrical experience. Her charm and lovely spirit are sure to set her apart to gain the attention of Nashville audiences who will see her onstage in The Nutty Professor.

Here's your opportunity to get to know Carly before you bump into her while you're both waiting to tour The Ryman Auditorium-we'll even provide you with some informative details to help make your conversation move along without any awkward pauses…

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What was your first taste of "live theater"? My first live theater experience as a little girl was the Broadway production of The Secret Garden. Little did I know, years later I'd be performing in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway with some of the people I was awed by that evening. 

What's your favorite pre-show ritual? When I'm performing in New York, I pass Junior's on my way to the theater every day, and treat myself to one of their famous black-and-white cookies which helps give me my energy for the show. I know, not your typical dancers warm-up! 

What's your favorite memory of a "show must go on!" moment? When I was a young teenager I performed in an opera of Amahl and the Night Visitors at Lincoln Center. In one of the big celebratory ensemble scenes, my partner and I were doing a lift center stage, while the opera ensemble surrounded us and rejoiced. As my partner lifted me, he accidently unhooked my skirt, which fell in a pool around ankles as soon as he put me down. As horrified as I was, without ever looking down I stepped out of my skirt, my partner threw if offstage and we continued as if nothing had happened, except that the cheers from the singers had turned to "ooh la la's".

What's your dream role? At some point in my life I'd love to play Roxy in Chicago

Have you ever been to Nashville before? If so, what's your favorite memory? If not, what do you really want to see or do while you're in town? I've never been to Nashville before. One thing I definitely want to see is the Ryman Auditorium. I'm a huge Neil Young fan, and years ago he did a concert at the Ryman where he premiered songs from a new album which was coming out at that time. The concert was filmed and turned into a movie, and since then I've been totally obsessed with eventually getting here to see it. As soon as I have time I'm going to take a tour. 

  • Tickets for The Nutty Professor (previews start July 24 in the run-up to a July 31 official opening night at The James K. Polk Theatre at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center) are now on sale at www.tpac.org or by calling the TPAC Box Office at (615) 782-4040.

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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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