BWW Interviews: Kate Baldwin Talks Paper Mill's Broadway-Bound CAN-CAN!

Paper Mill Playhouse opened its 2014 - 2015 season with the Broadway-bound, world-class revival of Can-Can., now playing through October 26th. The production stars Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin (Big Fish, Finian's Rainbow, Wonderful Town, Thoroughly Modern Millie) as Pistache, a Parisian cafe owner who decides to feature the scandalous dance the Can-Can in her show, yet her defiance of the law may mean the end of her business and her love life.

This fresh new production features direction by David Lee, choreography by Patti Colombo, and a book by Abe Burrows which has been revised by Joel Fields and David Lee. The musical score features some of Cole Porter's timeless classics including "I Love Paris," "C'est Magnifique," and "It's All Right With Me".

Today, Ms. Baldwin took time out from the show to speak with BWW about starring in this timeless love story!

This production marks your return to Paper Mill. What do you most enjoy about the experience of performing at the Playhouse?

I enjoy the high production values. And the costumes by Ann Hould-Ward are some of the most beautiful I've ever worn. Also, the band sounds great and the backstage crew are top notch.

How familiar were you with the book and music from this show prior to your casting?

Well I was familiar with a few of the songs, such as "I Love Paris" and "It's Alright With Me", but I hadn't sung any of them in public before. I knew nothing about the book before reading David [Lee] and Joel's [Fields] revised script.

This current production has been described as being "updated without being modernized." Can you elaborate on that?

I think what that means is that while the story is set in 1893 and has all of those social conventions, the humor will appeal to a 2014 audience.

What is it about the music of Cole Porter that makes it stand the test of time? Do you have a favorite Cole Porter song?

Cole Porter's sense of fun is infectious. He also takes on naughty subjects in a light, witty way. You can't help but smile. I love "I Get a Kick Out of You." It's always been a favorite.

You portray Pistache, a role which has been played by many legendary actresses before you. How did you go about making the role your own?

I read the script. The previous actresses, who are all marvelous, had a very different book to work with and I'm sure they wouldn't recognize most of what I'm saying and doing onstage. I focused on character: a country girl who succeeded in the big city by using what she had at her disposal: brains, body and loads of charm.

How much fun is it to wear the period costumes from this piece?

I've never felt better about how I look in a costume. Annie is a genius. I'd like her to design my life. Please and thank you.

It has already been announced that the production is Broadway-bound. Does that put any extra pressure on the cast and creative team? Do you know if changes will be made for the Broadway stage?

It certainly gets more people interested in coming out to see the production. That pleases me because this role is unlike any other I've done in New York and I'm excited to show this side of what I can do. I don't know yet what the artistic and producing team have in store for us as far as changes for Broadway.

In your most recent Broadway show 'Big Fish', you originated a new role in a new musical. Do you have a preference for doing that versus taking on the role in a revival?

I truly love both equally. For me, it's the character who is interesting that wins my heart. That happens as easily in new works as it does in revivals.

The show is set in 1893. Do you think the story is still relevant to today's audiences?

Jason Danieley, Kate Baldwin

For me, the story is about reconciling who you are with what you do. And that story is timeless. It asks the question, what would you give up for love? I think we will ask that question until the end of time.

About Can-Can:

Can-Can was first presented at Broadway's Shubert Theatre in 1953 by legendary producers Cy Feuer and Ernest H. Martin. The musical made an overnight sensation of Gwen Verdon. A 1960 film adaptation starred Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra, Maurice Chevalier, and Louis Jourdan.

Can-Can will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wed - Sun. Performance schedule: Wednesday at 7:30PM, Thursday at 1:30PM and 7:30PM, Friday at 8:00PM, Saturday at 1:30PM and 8:00PM and Sunday at 1:30PM and 7:00PM. Subscriptions are on sale now and may be purchased by calling 973.379.3717. Single tickets will go on sale on Monday, July 28, 2014. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680. College students can order $20 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance.

About Kate Baldwin:

Ms. Baldwin returns to Paper Mill following her critically acclaimed performances in Hello, Dolly!, Guys and Dolls and Miss Saigon. Most recently Baldwin starred on Broadway in Big Fish as Sandra Bloom. She also appeared on Broadway in Finian's Rainbow, Wonderful Town, Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Full Monty. Ms. Baldwin received a Tony Award nomination, an Outer Critics Circle Award nomination and a Drama Desk nomination for her performance as Sharon McLonergan in the revival of Finian's Rainbow. Her television credits include Law & Order: SVU and Stephen Sondheim's Passion for PBS.

Photo credit: Jerry Dalia

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

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