Interview: GREASE's Original Rizzo Adrienne Barbeau Talks THE WORLD TO COME Podcast Musical, Her New Book & More!

Catch Barbeau's premiere episode on The World to Come on Monday, March 29.

By: Mar. 25, 2021
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Interview: GREASE's Original Rizzo Adrienne Barbeau Talks THE WORLD TO COME Podcast Musical, Her New Book & More! From the moment she moved to New York in 1965 and made her Broadway debut in Fiddler on the Roof,
Adrienne Barbeau has been dazzling us from stages and screens. Barbeau created the iconic role of Rizzo in the original Broadway production of Grease- for which she secured a Tony nomination- went on to appear as Bea Arthur's daughter, Carol, in the hit TV series Maude- for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe- and is a best-selling author and recording artist.

Barbeau has starred in over 25 theatrical productions and has more than 450 screen performances to her credit, including appearances in films such as The Fog, Escape From New York, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Back to School, and Cannonball Run. On television she starred as Ruthie, the Snake Dancer, on HBO's Carnivale; Oswald's mom on Drew Carey; Victoria Grayson's mom on Revenge, Venus's mom on Sons of Anarchy, and more.

Her books include the best-selling memoir There Are Worse Things I Could Do, the comedic thriller Vampyres of Hollywood and its sequels, Love Bites and Make Me Dead.

We spoke with Barbeau about her upcoming appearance on the podcast musical The World to Come, the book she is currently working on publishing about the making of Grease, and much more!

Let's start with me asking how you are doing! How have you been during this time, what has the past year been like for you personally and artistically?

I've been fortunate this past year since we all went into quarantine. I started out filling my days with walking the dogs and housecleaning - washed all the windows, organized storage in the basement, cleaned out drawers - and then my voiceover work kicked into high gear. I video caption films and television series for the visually impaired and I can connect with our sound engineer and producer via the internet so I can do most shows from home. Then, a new book project presented itself and I started work on that. And then I went to New Zealand for six weeks to guest on an upcoming Netflix series. That was a real gift, because after my two weeks in strict quarantine, New Zealand was COVID free with no restrictions. And since I've been back home, it's been non-stop writing and recording and I haven't missed being able to go out at all. I'm really very lucky.

Can you talk to me about THE WORLD TO COME musical podcast? Tell me about your role and what the process was like recording for the podcast.

Well, I play Queen Gehenna, whose story is told in flashbacks, beginning with her brokering a marriage agreement between her daughter and the vampire son of the GoreLord, and then leading her Fansci clan in battle against the other genre clans to assume dominion over the Fiveboros.

The recording process was quite simple. Prior to going into the studio to record, I read through the script with the creative crew via Zoom. I wanted to make sure I was giving them what they wanted. Rachel Klein, the director, was a great guide. This is a fascinating world they've created and I was only privy to my episode, so she and the writer, Erik Ransom, clued me in on everything I needed to know.

When time came to record, I was in a studio in Burbank and they were wherever they were on the East Coast. Again we connected visually through the internet and I read my lines as the engineer recorded. I just went speech to speech and gave them two or three readings for each.

Had you ever taken part in a musical podcast before or was this a new experience during the pandemic?

I didn't even know there was such a thing as a musical podcast. Definitely a first for me.

What are you most excited for people to hear when your episode goes live on March 29?

I'm so incredibly impressed with the production values of the show; audio producer Mike Lunoe and sound designer Sean Hagerty have done a remarkable job. And the music! Oh my gosh, Andy Peterson's compositions are matched only by his orchestrations! It's like listening to an entire Broadway orchestra playing live in the pit!

Let's talk about another exciting project you have coming up, your book about the making of Grease! What can you tell us about that?

Well, it was born out of a virtual Grease reunion we had early on in the pandemic. When we finally stopped laughing and crying at the memories we shared during a 4 ½ hour Zoom meeting, I hung up the phone and thought oh, wow, this is a book! Then Tom Moore, our director, called me to say he'd been thinking the same thing for several years. So Tom, Ken Waissman (producer of Grease), and I reached out for remembrances from all the actors who had appeared on Broadway and in the tours that followed. They are priceless. And wait 'til you see the photos!

What is a fun fact or exciting memory from the original run of the show that other people might not know?

Well, I suppose only the people who were backstage the night of my final performance know I had five bare-assed naked butts staring me in the face right before I went on to sing "There Are Worse Things I Could Do." Those raunchy Burger Palace Boys.

Grease has had such an incredible, long-lasting legacy. How does it feel to have been such an integral part of this iconic musical?

Grease was the cornerstone that led to every other step in my career. I am so proud to have been a part of it. And so blessed, because it gave me my closest friends who are to this day like family.

Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?

'Grease! Tell Me More...Tell Me More!' will be published next year, in honor of Grease's 50th anniversary. We plan to donate the proceeds to the Actors Fund to help our theatrical community recover from this devastating past year. And hope by the time it's published, Broadway will be back in all its glory. In the meantime, for a musical comedy experience you can enjoy while staying safe at home, I think The World To Come is just the ticket. How's that for a plug?