BWW Interview: Raven Justine Troup of ELF THE MUSICAL at TUTS
ELF, the musical has become a traditional holiday favorite in the Bayou City and we are excited to see this whimsical story made popular by the movie starring Will Ferrell. ELF the musical has music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin and is based on the New Line Cinema Film written by David Berenbaum. This production is directed and choreographed by Dan Knechtges
This week we had the pleasure to snatch Raven Justine Troup away from tech rehearsal to talk about the show and her life as a working actress in H-town!
BWW: First we want to thank you for taking the time out of your crazy schedule to talk with us! It's tech week so I know it's getting crazy! Where did you go to high school/ college?
RJT: I attended Jack Yates High School for my first year of high school, but graduated from Incarnate Word Academy. I ran off to NYU for college, and majored in musical theater at the Tisch School of the Arts (CAP21).
BWW: How has your training prepared you for this role?
RJT: It's prepared me as much as it's prepared me for any other role. I'm able to breathe through nerves, focus on my scene partners, and maintain enough spontaneity and flexibility to role with whatever Quinn may throw at me-which could really be anything, he's a ham.
BWW: We all know that an actors' life has its ups and downs, how do you maintain the stress as a theatre performer?
RJT: I kind of operate in a perpetual state of stress and nervousness. But it's not a terrible thing! You learn to harness that very high energy that comes with the stress and the nerves, and you use it to power through whatever is challenging you.
BWW: Houston is an interesting theatre market. How do you maintain a living as a professional actor?
RJT: I definitely have to keep supplemental income flowing-I have a normal day-to-day job as well as other random odd-jobs that present themselves. But I mostly try to keep auditioning as much as possible, because the odds will be much more favorable if you throw your hat in the ring as often as you can.
BWW: What is your daily routine?
RJT: I like to start my day with a vocal warm-up in the shower, because the steam is extremely soothing on a tired, morning voice. I also only drink water and hot green tea throughout any performance day. Keeps everything nicely lubricated.
BWW: Are you still taking classes and vocal coaching?
RJT: I'm not taking any classes, but I wish I wish! I haven't had much time (or money, for that matter) in recent years to take any classes or seek out any coaching. But I find that performing is the best way to learn performance, so that's been the closest thing to a classroom I've had of late.
BWW: When doing a long run of a show; how do you keep it fresh?
RJT: It's just a matter of staying invested in the material. I try to never let anything become routine, I change up inflection and intention, and I always absorb whatever energy I receive from my scene partners.
BWW: Do you have your hopes set on Broadway or other theatre cities?
RJT: I definitely do plan to make some trips out to New York soon. I haven't been back in the city since college, and I certainly wasn't Equity at that point, so auditioning for anything was generally a full day's work. But I'd love to make a visit in the near future to see how auditioning out there goes at this point in my life.
BWW: Elf has become a favorite during the holidays and has a cult following, how does this particular show differ from the movie with Will Ferrel?
RJT: The show was written cleverly, so that it was different enough from the film to not feel like a knockoff. It's got the same core, but it moves at a different pace and has its own identity apart from the movie. Along with that, the cast is brilliant and has been making everything their own, so it feels like a stand-alone piece.
BWW: What would you like to tell someone who's never seen the musical version before?
RJT: I would tell them not to expect the movie, because that would be setting oneself up for failure. Go in with fresh eyes, because it's something new and vibrant.
BWW: Tell us about Jovie.
RJT: Jovie is definitely someone who leans into the jaded New York lifestyle, and doesn't really feel comfortable letting people see her vulnerability. She seems hardcore but secretly craves that cheeriness she gets from Buddy's giddy attitude. What have you done to make this character personal to you? Honestly, Jovie is pretty much who I am, right down to the tall, ginger partner. I kind of just slipped right into the character because it's not a far leap for me at all.
BWW: I know we hate the comparison to the film, but what were some of the bits that you took from Zooey Deschanel's performance in the movie?
RJT: I drew from her dryness throughout, but I primarily tried to steer clear of any influence from the film. I want to try and put my own stamp on Jovie, since I'm probably not the standard version.
BWW: Why should we come see Elf, the musical?
RJT: Elf is just Christmas cheer in musical form. You won't be able to help smiling through the whole thing. Even rehearsing for it has kept everyone in very high spirits, because that's just the heart of the show. It's going to make you feel like a kid again.
BWW: What's next for you?
RJT: I have a few upcoming projects with Stages and The Alley, though I can't say specifically what yet. So keep your eyes out!
BWW: What advice would you give a young actor who wants to work professionally?
RJT: I would say that performance is the best way to learn how to perform. You'll never figure out how to entrance an audience without being in front of an audience. And along with that, I strongly advise every young performer to find what is unique about you. Theater is very "type" heavy, which made me feel inadequate for a long time, because I personally go against my standard "type." But once I started treating that as a strength, rather than a weakness, I became a much stronger performer. What makes you unique is what's going to make your career.
BWW: In three words what does the Houston theatre community mean to you?
RJT: Love, acceptance, and family
BWW: We want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. We are so excited to see our homegrown talent on the stage at TUTS! Break a leg!
You can see Raven and brilliantly talented cast of ELF, the musical December 7-22, 2019 at the Hobby Center. For tickets and information visit: www.tuts.com or call 713-558-8887.