BWW Interviews: SEAN MacLAUGHLIN Talks EVITA
SEAN MacLAUGHLIN stars as "Perón" in EVITA. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tony Award®-winning musical returns at last! EVITA tells Eva Perón's passionate and unforgettable true story, and features some of theater's most beautiful songs, including "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" and "High Flying, Adored." EVITA, directed by Michael Grandage and choreographed by Rob Ashford is at Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, March 4-9. Tickets are on sale at Blumenthal Performing Arts Box Office: 704-372-1000 and BlumenthalArts.org.
MacLAUGHLIN was last seen on Broadway, U.S. and Canada as "Raoul" in The Phantom of the Opera. Other Broadway credits include: Bombay Dreams, the original cast of The Woman In White and Elton John's Lestat.
MacLAUGHLIN was engaging, interesting and interested, as he took time away from his family to speak with me.
LAW: Where are you now?
SM: Cincinnati, Ohio. We have a two-week run.
LAW: How long have you been acting?
SM: I had a part in a play on the army base when I was 4 years old. I was also one of the kids in The King and I, and I was in Oliver. My grandfather was the Commander General of that base. When I was 6 years old, I pointed at the TV with a soap opera on and I told my parents that I wanted to be an actor. They got involved in the business to help me and they started performing too.
LAW: You mean your parents started acting because you wanted to act?
SM: (Laughs) I've never thought about it, but, yes, maybe..... My father performed before the army. I don't really know.... I'll have to ask them.
LAW: What was your first professional job?
SM: I did it all. Community theater in Petersburg, Virginia, print, day jobs in movies.
LAW: How did you get this role?
SM: I had 5 auditions. I sang Juan Perón's full songbook. Some of the folks on the production knew my work and some didn't. The folks in London had to see my audition and approve me for the production. I found out that I got the role on July 4th, Independence Day.
LAW: What was your most memorable experience in your profession?
SM: That's a good question.... I would have to say when I moved up to North Virginia to the D.C. area. Theater there was blossoming and surpassing other theater markets. It was a great time to be there, Equity Theater was coming back and starting to explode. I performed in the Signature Theater; I learned so much with the great people I worked with.
LAW: Tell me about Juan Perón, the character you portray in Evita?
SM: Juan Perón was a strong man, but not smart. His principles were great. He aligned himself with people to bring himself up to power to help Argentina. He didn't do it well, though,.... He knew the people. He helped the poor with welfare and unemployment, but he caused Argentina to go bankrupt. The economy crashed, the beef market dropped. He was following the "new deal" in America. He was a pioneer. The people believed in him and elected him again after his exile. Again, his principles were great, but he didn't execute them well.
LAW: What's an average day for you while you're on tour?
SM: Oh,... I get in the car....
LAW: You don't travel with the cast?
SM: No, I'm married and we have a baby. We drive to every performance. My wife [Elaine MacLaughlin] and I met on Phantom of the Opera. We had our son, Quinn, last year. We travel to every show together. I unpack, get to the theater for rehearsal at 5PM, sleep-in the next day, do some shopping at Target and then we see the town. We check out all the restaurants we've seen on the Food Network.
LAW: What's the worst experience you've had on the road?
SM: [Laughs] This trip! This has been the worst terrible winter. We didn't look at the weather reports and we headed out from NY to Cincinnati.... We got caught in that snowstorm, and I got the stomach bug while we were driving. It was bad. We had to stop and stay overnight in the mountains of Pennsylvania. And then my wife got sick. There was snow all over the road. On a good day, without snow, it takes 6 hours to get there. We finally got to the hotel at 4PM and I had to be at the theater at 5PM. I checked in, made sure my wife and baby were okay. I just made it. Yes, that was the worst.
LAW: Do you find there is a difference in the audience depending on what city you are in?
SM: Yes, in a city that's a theater town, the audiences are more loud and boisterous. In Canada, they are more shy. It also depends on the theater acoustics. There are some theaters, even if they're loud, you can't hear the audience. I look out and see the theater filled, but it's quiet.
LAW: Anything you want to mention, that I didn't ask?
SM: This production of Evita is the most beautiful,... visually stunning. The re-conception of the orchestrations are wonderful. Audiences will really enjoy Evita, whether you've seen it before or you're seeing it for the first time.