BWW Interview: SO NOW YOU KNOW with Christiane Noll
Included in the questions for this column, I ask each performer to send an inspirational quote that they love. This artist sent the following thought, which sits upon an image of a green door, "If it doesn't open, it's not your door." Being a TONY Award nominated actress, this quote speaks volumes about this week's artist, Christiane Noll.
I was first introduced to her voice in the summer of 1997. It was a Wednesday, our day off in mid-July from performing in Dorney Park's Rockin' Country show and one of my buddies decided that we should go to NYC and see if we could get student rush tickets to any Broadway shows. We got to the city, split off and each headed to a theater. I was tasked to stand in line for Jekyll and Hyde, a show I knew nothing about at the time. Luckily, we ended up getting three matinee tickets to Jekyll and Hyde and three evening tickets to The Life, my first double day of shows, and what a lineup it was!
I've always been partial to a clear female voice (look at who I am married to) and a high belt/lot of ping, (depending on your school of thought). Christiane's voice was that to a T. Among other songs she sang that afternoon, I particularly gravitated towards "Once Upon a Dream". Though it is not nearly as dramatic as the other songs in the score, it was so angelic in nature that I couldn't wait to purchase the cd to hear it again.
Fast forward a couple of decades and Corinna and I decide to produce a Gala to create scholarships for our theatre school, NiCori Studios & Productions. One of the first people to agree to perform was none other than Christiane. She has starred in several Broadway shows, concerts, sang on the Tony Awards and was a nun in the Sound of Music alongside Audra McDonald since I first was introduced to her in Jekyll and Hyde in the late '90s, so it was really outstanding that she'd consider singing and inspiring our theatre students.
I find that being a talented performer on stage is equally important as giving back and remembering where you came from. You'll see from Christine's answers below that she easily fits in both of those categories. Knowing which door to open and to holding it open for the next person is one of life's secrets. Thanks for passing that along to the next generation of artists, Christiane!
NA: What has this business given you and what has it taken away?
CN: This business has given me an incredible wealth of experiences and opportunities to meet and work with all sorts of gifted, passionate people, in settings that have allowed countless enthusiastic folks to, for the most part, enjoy what I was doing! I am so lucky that I've managed to sustain a life for me and my family, engaging in something that generally brings joy to people, doing what I love to do. More than not, when I get up to go to work, I'm challenged but excited by what the day will bring! However, being a parent in this business can be exceedingly difficult and presents many obstacles. The time you miss when you are not home for days or weeks or months at a time. The guilt you feel. The exhausting split focus. How to be fully present as a performer and as a parent or a partner? The gratitude you have for a family team that shares the challenge and figures
out how to make it work! But to be honest, don't we realize new appreciation for our lives having lived through and survived, maybe even thrived during our most trying times?!
NA: What is the hour like before you go on stage?
CN: I am quiet. Although sometimes I talk to my family on the phone. Put my hair in pin curls for a wig prep. Apply my make up. I sometimes do a little vocal warm-up but if I've been talking at all during the day it may not be all that necessary. I may breathe, read a book, or listen to a podcast. Exercise. It depends on my energy level. Either trying to bring my energy up or find focus and bring things down. I usually like to be at the theater at least an hour before the show starts. Sometimes I just sit there and just be. Get into my costume as late as possible before heading down to the stage.
NA: What are you most proud of?
CN: My daughter. She amazes me every day! Most of it is her doing but sometimes I look at my husband and say "She was listening. That was us! WE did that!"
NA: Did you go to theater school or camp when you were growing up?
CN: My father was a conductor and my mother was an opera singer. I used to travel and sometimes perform with them. I was backstage a lot as a child so I feel like my life was one big theater camp!
NA: What was the most memorable part of originating the role of Emma in Jekyll and Hyde?
CN: The first time Linda Eder and I sang In His Eyes together with Frank Wildhorn and we found out what kind of car we were driving! It's was thrilling to discover what we were each bringing to the song and how that made both of us better! So exciting!! I still remember the first time we staged the song. I remember the scene that had been set, all the props that were put on my table for me to mess around with if I wanted to, and then the story I created for myself during the song. I have to say, sometimes, the tiny details that others may or may not notice, that you figure out for yourself, that make it yours, that no one else tells you what to do, can be the biggest joys of creating any moment on stage.
NA: What went through your mind right before you were to sing Back to Before on the TONY Awards?
NA: You have performed on Broadway, at cabaret clubs, with orchestras, and on television. If you had to choose only one performance outlet, which would it be and why?
CN: Thank goodness I don't have to choose. I am terrible with a "what is your favorite..." or "what would you choose..." kind of questions. I could answer the same question 3
different ways depending on when or how you ask me. Different times. Different preferences. Hopefully, I will continue to have a variety of performance options.
NA: What was the best gift your year on tour with Dear Evan Hanson gave you?
CN: A few months into the tour we performed the show in front of an audience that was filled with students. Except for their chaperons, it was all middle school and high schoolers. Dear Evan Hanson was their story. Their reactions were stunning, overwhelming at times, poignant and so telling! They were so invested and I felt intensely grateful to help represent this story for them. To remind them that they are loved. That their parents do care immensely. That they are not alone
and that they are enough. The glow from that performance stayed with me throughout the rest of the tour. The Blue fuzzy blanket we got on opening night was pretty wonderful too!