BWW Interview: Brooke Singer of CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE 90'S MUSICAL at Dallas' Winspear Opera House
Texas-born Brooke Singer is no stranger to the stage. In fact, she's been performing professionally since before most of her peers had picked their first extra-curricular activity. And now, after years of sailing the world playing famous Disney characters like Belle and performing in the world premiere of the stage version of TANGLED, she's got an opportunity to show off her less family-friendly skills by taking the new stage musical version of the nostalgic 90's film Cruel Intentions on the road. We caught up between shows while the tour was stopped in sunny Washington DC. Read more, below:
Name: Brooke Singer
Hometown: "Born and raised in Houston, Texas!"
Role: Cecile Caldwell in CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE 90's MUSICAL
Kyle Christopher West: Let's start with early life in the Singer household. Was your family involved in the arts?
Brooke Singer: Yes! My dad has worked for Playbill magazine as long as I can remember. He also has been working for Broadway Across America in Houston for over 25 years. He used to take me to work, put me in a seat by myself (at age 7), and then tell me "Meet me backstage!" So, I grew up watching shows and being backstage with the actors and whatnot. I grew up in a household where theatre was my dad's passion; my siblings aren't involved in the arts, but it's so nice that my parents get it! Everyone has a respect for [the arts] and is very supportive.
I grew up taking classes at Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), and I actually did the world premiere of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE. It was my first pre-Broadway experience at the age of 12, but unfortunately it never made it to Broadway [laughs]. I played Young Baby Jane, and it was a great experience working with so many talented Broadway actors & it was a blast.
It wasn't until a teacher said, "This doesn't just have to be an after-school thing. You can do this for your career," that I considered doing theatre for a living. I had never really thought about that. I was always performing and doing commercials and voiceover work, but it was never a job until [my] teacher said, "This can be your life." My parents always just said, "Do this as long as it makes you happy."
Kyle: I understand this is your first national tour, but you previously traveled the world performing on Disney Cruise Line. Can you tell me a little about that experience?
Brooke: Well, Disney is so interesting because it's iconic. First of all, being on a ship is a little world of its own! You kind of disconnect from the world outside. [And] doing seven shows definitely challenged me! We'd have a 12-day cruise, so you wouldn't touch a show for two weeks; it really tests your ability as an actor to hold onto these shows in rep. That was super awesome!
Being on tour now, we may drive for a few days, but the show's still in your body, so you can trust it.
Kyle: Let's jump ahead a little to CRUEL INTENTIONS. The movie recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary, so you must have been too young to catch it when it originally came out. At what point did the title gain your attention?
Brooke: Stop it [laughs]! I remember seeing it and feeling super guilty, thinking "Do I have to tell my parents I just watched this?" [laughs] I was in middle school, so it was definitely a bit of an awakening for me. The funny thing is, in 2017, they were doing it at Le Poisson Rouge
off-Broadway, and I took a friend and watched it and said, "This is the greatest playlist ever. This must be so much fun to be in!"
When I got the call to come in, I was like, "100 percent yes! Confirm me!" [laughs]
Kyle: For anyone who may have missed the film, can you talk a little about the plot of CRUEL INTENTIONS?
Brooke: It's about these very wealthy, Upper East Side school students. Think pre-Gossip Girl, pre-Mean Girls. This step-brother, Sebastian, and step-sister, Kathryn, have everything you could ever want...so they're bored. They basically have a bet for Sebastian to sleep with the new girl in school. A lot of this triggers from Katherine being dumped by this guy...I'm botching this so badly [laughs].
Kyle: Tell me a little about your character and how she fits into the story.
Brooke: I play Cecile and she is the innocent girl that Kathryn was dumped for. So, Kathryn decides to mess with Cecile to [indirectly] mess with the guy who wronged her.
Playing Cecile is an absolute blast because she's just so innocent - until she has a full sexual awakening and comes out the other side a little bit stronger and different. It's just a lot of fun!
Kyle: Tell me how you came about landing the job.
Brooke: A fun fact is that I was not originally called in for the role I'm playing. I was called in for the Reese Witherspoon role, for Annette. And, in my head, I thought, "This is not right for me," but of course I went in anyway. It was in my initial audition that the director looked at me and said, "I think you might be funny. Do you want to read for something else?" I've never been so much on the same page with somebody. He told me to step outside and look over Cecile...and that was the moment that I said, "This is it. Stars are aligning." I just got very lucky.
Kyle: With songs by NSYNC, No Doubt, Christina Aguilera and TLC, the musical sounds like a perfect throwback to the 90s. What has the response to the show been like?
Brooke: Oh my goodness, I can't even tell you how fun it is to be onstage while the audience is experiencing the show every night. People have audible reactions...full on singing along...they're blown away by how fluid the story is with all of these 90's songs. It's really incredible what our writers have done!
Kyle: Are you looking forward to performing in your home state? Is this your first time on stage in Dallas?
Brooke: It is! I am so excited: so much of my family is in Dallas! I've grown up driving out to Dallas to see shows and go to the State Fair. I've spent a lot of time in the Dallas theatre scene, actually. This is a huge homecoming; it's right up there with performing in Houston. It's home!
Kyle: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to chat today. We can't wait to see you in Dallas soon!
Brooke: Thank you so much!
CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE 90's MUSICAL runs May 22 - May 26 at the Winspear Opera House. Tickets and more information can be found at www.ATTPAC.org.