BWW Interviews: NASHVILLE Stars on Their Upcoming One-of-a-Kind Concert in Park City
Five stars of the critically acclaimed musical television series NASHVILLE will perform in Park City this Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the unprecedented Nashville Café concert at Deer Valley Resort's Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater. For tickets, or for more information, call the Park City Institute at 435-655-3114 or visit bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org.
Clare Bowen (Scarlett O'Connor), Chris Carmack (Will Lexington), Charles "Chip" Esten (Deacon Claybourne), Lennon Stella (Maddie Conrad), and Maisy Stella (Daphne Conrad)--all series regulars--will be taking a break from filming in Nashville, Tennessee, for their visit to Utah.
Bowen, Carmack, and Esten were part of a NASHVILLE concert tour in New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia earlier in the summer. This Park City concert, however, will be completely different. It will be a unique, one-night-only show that has never played anywhere else.
BroadwayWorld was given the opportunity to speak with both Bowen and Esten about the upcoming concert, being a part of NASHVILLE, and how musical theatre has helped shaped their careers.
Esten said he is looking forward to performing with his costars in Park City. "I love these people I work with, and I love making music with them," Esten said. "I'm thrilled just to watch them, let alone be a part of it."
Bowen said she loves performing in and around Nashville, but she also loves being able to take the music to fans of the show outside the area who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity. "NASHVILLE has led to me being able to go to so many places, like Utah, which I'm really excited to come to. I've looked at photographs of the area where we'll be singing, and it looks so beautiful."
"One of the things I really love is the people that come to our shows are not strictly Chip Esten fans or Deacon Claybourne fans," Esten said. "They love these characters; they love these stories. It's the show that they're really loving."
He said that performing live is a very different experience from being on set, often on a dark soundstage. "It's always great to see the level of devotion from the fans, to feel their love and energy, and to give them our gratitude. I don't take it for granted."
The concert's set list will include a mix of songs from the show and originals. Each artist will perform their own set, with a few crossover duets included.
"I get to play the songs that Deacon does on the show, written by the best of Nashville's songwriters," Esten said. "'A Life That's Good' is a favorite of mine, about those things you need in life. It turns out there really aren't so many. It's written so beautifully and so well."
Bowen also enjoys working with Nashville's songwriters on songs like "Free," which she will perform in the concert and will be on her upcoming album. "It's about all the people who believed in me," she said. "I didn't have a lot of people who believed in me in Australia, except for my family. But I do in Nashville. It's not a fame thing there, it's a support each other thing. They all attend each other's concerts at the Opry. It's about an element of family."
One of her biggest supporters in Australia was two-time Academy Award-winning Cate Blanchett, whom Bowen met while playing Wendla in SPRING AWAKENING at the acclaimed Sydney Theatre Company.
"She is the artistic director, and she was involved in the casting and was so supportive," Bowen said. "She's very busy, so we were grateful to her for that. She said, 'Have you ever thought of coming over to LA,' and I was terrified."
But she trusted her mentor and made the move, which soon resulted in her landing her NASHVILLE role and moving again, this time to the show's namesake city.
"I've never felt like I belonged anywhere, and I feel like I belong in Nashville," she said. Since arriving there, she has learned a lot about stage presence as a concert performer from the many professionals she's worked with.
"I really never used a microphone before," Bowen said. "We used them in SPRING AWAKENING, but they were dummy mics, of course." She said she laughs when she sees pictures of the production and realizes how wrong she held hers.
"I'm classically trained, but you're not exactly taught to be comfortable onstage in opera class," she said. "Being onstage was something that was really frightening, but now going up there, seeing all those happy faces, and if they're not all happy, changing them so they are--you can change somebody's whole day."
Bowen said that music was her first love, and she especially relishes integrating it with storytelling. "There's nothing like going up in front of your audience and sharing a story," she said. "I feel very blessed."
Esten is also a musical theatre vet, having played the role of Buddy Holly in BUDDY--THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY on the West End and tour for more than two years. He said that BUDDY and NASHVILLE are great bookends for his career because both have utilized his musical abilities along with acting.
"I got BUDDY when I just started out," he said, explaining that he'd been in a band for five years in college but had only been acting for about a year. "I got to use what I was good at--playing and singing--and there's no better acting lesson than being on stage. It was a real pivotal, crucial role in my life. It allowed me to go to LA with more security and more confidence."
And now after a long, varied career, he has found NASHVILLE. "This is the sort of job that's combined everything I've wanted and prepared for," he said, citing the years he's spent acting, singing, and writing music since moving to Los Angeles. "It meant I was ready when it came along."
Esten said that singing on a musical television show is much more intimate than performing for a large audience in a stage musical. "You have a microphone that catches the smallest whisper and a camera where you fill the screen," he said, explaining that it's like the difference between playing the Bluebird Café and an arena. But the way music propels the story and fleshes out characters is the same.
"NASHVILLE doesn't differentiate between the musical performance and the acting performance," he said. "The songs are not buttons on the fabric; they are part of the fabric. They are like monologues within the scene. A character like Deacon, who's kind of gruff, not a man of many words--give him a guitar, and he'll tell you anything you want to hear."
Esten is looking forward to singing a song he co-wrote with Deana Carter in a live broadcast that will be seamlessly integrated into NASHVILLE's season premiere episode on September 24. "It's just an honor on every single level," he said. "I hope everyone can tune in and join me."
Bowen said she couldn't divulge anything else about the new season of NASHVILLE, but she added, "I read some of the scripts that are coming, and they are amazing." To find out more, we'll have to wait until September. It's a good thing we have Nashville Café to tide us over until then.
"I'm kind of grateful that as actors we're finding out what will happen just a little before everyone else," Esten said. "It's like this concert in Park City. I won't know what it's like until I'm there experiencing it with you. I have great, great high hopes. It's going to be a magical night unlike any we've ever had before."
"You should probably wear your dancing shoes," Bowen said, laughing.
Photo Credit: L-R Charles Esten and Clare Bowen, ©Bob D'Amico/ABC