BYE BYE BIRDIE Flashback Interview: Susan Egan
Susan Egan was last seen on Broadway in the title role of Thoroughly Modern Millie; she won critical acclaim as Broadway's (longest-running) "Sally Bowles" inCabaret; originated the starring roles in Triumph of Love and State Fair; and most notably, received both Tony Award® and Drama Desk® nominations for "Best Actress" as Broadway's original ‘Belle' in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Among her regional credits, Egan starred alongside Carol Burnett in Sondheim's Putting It Together, Tommy Tune in the national tour of Bye, Bye Birdie, reprised her role of Belle for the Los Angeles premiere of Beauty and the Beast, and developed works at Yale Rep, Baltimore Center Stage, South Coast Rep, and the Mark Taper Forum.
Susan's film credits include 13 Going on 30, Gotta Kick It Up for the Disney Channel, and countless independent films such as: Meet Market (Sarasota Film Festival), Death and Texas (Seattle Film Festival and Slamdance Film Festival), The Almost Guys (HBO Comedy Festival), The Disappearing Girl Trick, Falling. In Love, Extreme Close Up, and Man of the Century (Audience Award, Slamdance).
In animation, Egan gave the sultry voIce To ‘Meg' in Disney's Hercules, sang the role of 'Angel' in Lady and the Tramp II, and translated two Japanese blockbusters into English for famed animation director Hayao Miyazaki: 'Gina' in Porco Rosso, and ‘Lin' in Spirited Away, which won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Bye Bye Birdie stars John Stamos (Albert Peterson), Gina Gershon (Rose Alvarez) & Bill Irwin (Mr. Harry MacAfee) with Jayne Houdyshell (Mrs. Mae Peterson), Dee Hoty (Mrs. MacAfee) & Nolan Gerard Funk as "Conrad Birdie." The cast also features Matt Doyle (Hugo Peabody), Neil McCaffrey (Randolph MacAfee) and Allie Trimm (Kim MacAfee).
BYE BYE BIRDIE is directed and choreographed by Robert Longbottom with a book by Michael Stewart, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adams. On Broadway at the Henry Miller's Theatre (124 West 43rd Street). Limited engagement through: Sunday, April 25th, 2010.
You of course appeared with Tommy Tune in the acclaimed National Tour of BYE BYE BIRDIE -- tell us about that experience.
Birdie was my first big break -- I got my Equity card working with Tommy on that show, which was a thrill. It was such an incredible cast: Ann Reinking (later Lenora Nemitz), Marilyn Cooper, Marc Kudisch (it was both our professional debuts), Steve Zahn, Belle Callaway ....
Are there any special memories that you have of working on the production?
One of the nuttiest moments was during the 1991 Tony Award broadcast. We were in Seattle, and Tommy was nominated in several categories for THE WILL RODGER'S FOLLIES, but obviously couldn't attend the ceremony in NY. SO, they set up cameras in our Seattle theatre and warned us that should Tommy win, making him the man with the most Tonys in history, they will interrupt our show and cut to Tommy accepting the award via satellite. As chance (and talent!) would have it, he did win, and they stopped Birdie in the middle of my first song, HOW LOVELY TO BE A WOMAN, in which I sing and change clothes at the same time. So, half undressed, I stood aside and Tommy gave his speech -- it was all very thrilling.
ONLY THING WAS, after the extreme excitement of Tommy, our audience, the cast, et al, I had to start our show again, mid-song ... and let me say ... nothing could be as awkward or anti-climatic as trying to pull everyone back from such a high ... and into the world of a 15-year-old (Kim MacAfee) mindset. All I could do was laugh and say, "um .... as I was saying ...." But it was a thrilling night none the less -- Tommy threw a great party after the show! He threw a lot of great parties, come to think of it!
What was working with Tommy Tune like?
Tommy is the most gregarious performer and leader.
And Marilyn Cooper?
Never play cards with Marilyn Cooper ... for money. (I miss her.)
What about Ann Reinking?
Listen to Ann Reinking and her wisdom on just about anything, and watch her hands when she dances!
What was Marc Kudisch like in the show?
Marc Kudisch sweats ... a lot ... so when he goes to kiss you at the end of Act I -- close your eyes ... and mouth. Ah, if only I had bottled it, I could have sold it on ebay years later for a great profit; he's dreamy. =)
Anything else that you learned?
Wear sunscreen when biking in Sacramento -- or You May Go to the emergency room for topical treatment and do the show looking like a lobster (with 2nd degree burns).
Gene Saks (our director) was a comedy genius and is missed.
Only Belle Callaway could play Mrs. MacAfee AND Gloria Rasputin!!! And the audience would never know!
I had the time of my life .... truly.