BWW Interview: Sarah Sirota of CHEERS LIVE Talks Bringing TV's Beloved Classic to the Stage

BWW Interview: Sarah Sirota of CHEERS LIVE Talks Bringing TV's Beloved Classic to the Stage

'Wouldn't you like to get away?'

Television's golden-era classic, Cheers, comes back to life in a hilarious two-act comedy, adapted for the stage! With a month-long run in Chicago's Broadway Playhouse, Cheers Live On Stage makes a pit-stop during its acclaimed national tour. Taking on the timeless role of Carla Tortelli--the show's snappy waitress--is actress Sarah Sirota, who gave Broadway World the inside scoop on the place where "everybody knows your name."

Cheers Live is taking one of the greatest shows of all time, and bringing it to the stage. It's the recipient of Emmys, Golden Globes and other top awards. How does it feel to be reviving this story that people fell in love with?
Oh, it's one of the most exciting things I've ever gotten to do! It has this great 'classic comedy' feel, the writing is hilariously on mark, and it's easy to step into this world and understand these characters.

Obviously, there's a new generation that gets to experience this show. How do you think this production caters to both fans of the original, and people who haven't seen a single episode?
I think it does a great job of creating this sense of nostalgia for those who know the characters. Even younger audiences, who are meeting these faces for the first time, can find something to relate to; it really is a show for people from all different walks of life. Everyone has--or longs for--that place where "everybody knows your name."BWW Interview: Sarah Sirota of CHEERS LIVE Talks Bringing TV's Beloved Classic to the Stage

You play Carla Tortelli! What's it like to embody such a memorable TV icon?
It has been like returning to my roots! As actors, we work on transforming ourselves and becoming someone completely unlike who we truly are. Carla and I have some similarities: I'm a short, Jewish woman and I'm embracing my height and my kooky, curly hair. Carla is very much a modern woman. She speaks her mind. She's outspoken, loud and unafraid.

There's a point during the show when we invite six audience members onto the stage. They get to change into 80's clothes and sit onstage and I serve them drinks (which is so much fun). With this, I get a great opportunity to improvise each night.

Throughout your career, you've performed at a ton of regional theaters and in TV and film. How did you break into this business?
Growing up, my family used to tease me about being overdramatic. I think this was the first red flag! It wasn't until college that I took my first acting class, at Dartmouth, and fell in love with their approach of stepping into characters' different world views. I then studied at Mason Gross School of the Arts, where we worked on the Meisner technique which is all about being in the present moment, and listening and responding to your stage partner. This has built a great foundation for my acting world. I'm actually teaching that when I'm not touring.

And you found your niche in comedy?
In my family, comedy is practically a prerequisite. I'm from a big, Jewish family and we have such a wide range of characters. Growing up, humor was something that was essential to our outlook on life. (Or maybe because lack of therapy? Ha!)BWW Interview: Sarah Sirota of CHEERS LIVE Talks Bringing TV's Beloved Classic to the Stage

It must be amazing to be traveling across the nation for this tour. Do you have a favorite location you've visited, or one you're looking forward to visiting?
Our director, assistant director and writer have prepared our cast so well for this show. Now, we're enjoying having some time to explore all of these great cities. I loved Boston. This is my first time in Chicago and I'm so stoked... I'm all ears for recommendations!

(Writer's Note: I recommended Lou Malnati's or any form of Chicago-style deep dish. Must!)

Last but not least, any projects on the horizon?
I have a few film projects in post-production. For now, I'm focused on this tour and enjoying every moment. I'm excited to get to spend a whole month in Chicago. The biggest highlight, though, is bringing the world of Cheers to a new generation.


Cheers Live On Stage runs at Chicago's Broadway Playhouse from September 20 through October 23. For more information, visit www.broadwayinchicago.com.

Photo Credit: John Halbach & Matthew Pacific

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From This Author Kailey Hansen

Kailey is a Chicago-based writer with a passion for all things theater, cats and coffee. She graduated with a B.A. in English and a minor (read more...)

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