BWW Interviews: The Nutty Professor's AUTUMN GUZZARDI Takes On THE NUTTY FIVE
Opening night of The Nutty Professor Musical, which started previews at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center's James K. Polk Theatre last Tuesday, is only a couple of days away and-judging from the reactions of people who have already seen the show-Jerry Lewis and company have a hit on their hands. We'll let you know Wednesday, after we've had a chance to see the show on opening night (Tuesday, July 31) and have written our review.
To say that anticipation is at a fevered pitch in Music City USA is a definite understatement, and for the next few weeks, at least, we'll be known as Musical City USA, as Tennessee's capital city goes all Nutty this summer in anticipation of sending a great big ol' hit to Broadway.
Since early July, Nashville has been fairly teeming with all manner of creative and talented folks who've made the trip to town in order to bring The Nutty Professor Musical to life. Directed by Jerry Lewis, who is justifiably known as "the king of comedy," the new musical features a book by three-time Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes and music and lyrics by Marvin Hamlisch (who has a Tony, an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy and a Pulitzer on the shelf at home). The production also boasts a stellar creative team that includes choreographer JoAnn Hunter (who got her start at Nashville's iconic Opryland USA), scenic designer David Gallo (who won the Tony for The Drowsy Chaperone), costume designer Ann Hould-Ward (Tony-winner for Beauty and the Beast) and music director Todd Ellison (who's contributed his talents to several Broadway hits).
To be certain, The Nutty Professor Musical has a stellar pedigree-and we haven't even started talking about the cast yet which includes Michael Andrew, Marissa McGowan, KLea Blackhurst, Mark Jacoby and Jamie Ross. And then there's the ensemble, which is made up of some excessively good-looking and exceedingly talented folks-many of who have already made their mark on Broadway, while others are still seeking that brass ring.
Quite frankly, we think they are all future Tony Award winners, so when the company first arrived in the Volunteer State, we inaugurated our column-The Nutty Five-which has focused on all those creative and charming people who are bringing the show to life for TPAC audiences. Articulate and entertaining in their responses to our questions, they've all been open and honest, and so damn charming they're sure to win you over!
In an ensemble filled with triple threats, Atlanta native Autumn Guzzardi is sure to claim her moment in the spotlight, plus she's a brand-new Nashvillian, moving here recently to make our fair city her homebase. We're thrilled she's here and we think your should get to know her, so that when she's waiting for a table at a local restaurant or trying to figure out where the hell Old Hickory Boulevard really is taking her, you'll know who you're talking to…
So be friendly and welcome her to Music City when you bump into her-she's making Nashville just a little more glamorous and talented every single day. And don't forget to make your reservations to see The Nutty Professor Musical before its Nashville run end on August 19.
Read on, gentle theaterati, and get to know The Nutty Professor's Gail, the ultra-talented Autumn Guzzardi…
What was your first taste of "live onstage" theater? My ?rst "live onstage" experience was when I was five and performed at the Sunday school church service. The lesson was on "Fruits of the Spirit" so naturally there were people playing apples, grapes, oranges etc. Only I wasn?t a fruit. I was a monkey, dancing and playing air guitar with my leg between two adult-sized bananas. I don?t recall where in the Bible the monkey ?ts in, but luckily God has a sense of humor, right?
Do you have a favorite pre-show ritual? My pre-show ritual, if we are being completely honest here, is de?nitely a tinkle at five minutes. Nothing worse than getting into the opening number with a full bladder.
What's your most intriguing/interesting/memorable "the show must go on" moment? During the out of town tryout of 9 to 5 The Musical in LA there was some sort of automation malfunction of the vending machine moving off stage at the end of the song "Tattletales," a super fun lunch room gossipy tune. The next thing you know, sparks are ?ying out all over the place, cast members jump out of the way, plastic jello salad is airborne, alongside lunch trays and fake mashed potatoes, and I?m about to run in the other direction with my fork in hand. Just then, Stephanie J. Block jumps in with an ever-so-perfect punch line, picked up a piece of meatloaf and saved the day! Unfortunately "Tattletales" didn?t make it in the Broadway version.
What's your dream role? My dream role is to play Roxie in Chicago. My mom had the record of the musical soundtrack and I?d listen to that over and over again and I?m sure it?s full of scratches now. I swore that one day I?d play that part when I grew up and was on Broadway...hasn?t happened yet, but heres to hopin?!
So what do you like best about Music City? I recently just made Nashville home base and I gotta say the people here are just as sweet as can be. I also love that mac n? cheese is listed as a vegetable at restaurants...Yummy! Only in the South!
- Tickets to catch Autumn Guzzardi and the rest of The Nutty Professor company, doing their best to create the next big Broadway blockbuster, are now on sale at www.tpac.org or by calling the TPAC box office at (615) 782-4040.