BWW Interview: 10 Questions with Carrie Compere of Disney's NEWSIES at The Lexington Theatre Company
Broadway powerhouse Carrie Compere will appear as Medda Larkin at The Lexington Theatre Company in Disney's Newsies. Taking a break from a busy week of tech, she was kind enough to answer a few questions about Newsies, her previous work, her background, and her inspirations.
What about this show/opportunity has brought you to The Lexington Theatre Company?
I was initially contacted by our fantastic choreographer, Mara Greer, (who I'd done the 1st National Tour of Shrek with about 9 years ago) she said she had immediately thought of me for the role of Medda. And Medda has always been a role that I've wanted to play, so the decision was easy. I sent in a tape and they loved it and here I am. I didn't know much about The Lexington Theatre Company until then, and I have to say I am so incredibly glad that it worked out. Lyndy and Jeromy Smith, the power team behind this company, are absolutely wonderful. The program here, which consists of education, internship and performance, is awesome. The opportunities and spaces they are giving and creating for these performers, of all ages, are amazing. I'm so proud to take part.
What is your favorite part of playing such an iconic role like Medda Larkin?
I love that Medda is a beautiful, bold, black woman (inspired by real life vaudeville performer, Aida Overton Walker). She gets to hit the folks with an amazing number, kick her heels up and watch the show LOL! I appreciate that a black person, a black female business owner, is being represented in such a powerful and positive way. We definitely need more Meddas on the stage!
Medda makes such a grand impression on the show as a whole, but surprisingly has fewer things to do than a lot of the other characters, what are you planning to do in your offstage downtime?
I have never had so much down time before, so I plan to really enjoy it by playing pranks on Stephen Buntrock! Just kidding. I am actually planning to watch much of the show from my monitor backstage. This cast is spectacular and I really enjoy watching them make magic on stage.
If you could revisit one of your past roles which one would it be? I was lucky enough to see you in both Shrek and The Color Purple and you were just magnificent in every way.
Wow. Thank you so much. I have been extremely fortunate to play some characters that I really enjoy. I have to say I absolutely love Sofia from The Color Purple. If I had to revisit someone I'd be knocking on her door!
What role would you like to tackle, that maybe for some reason or another you haven't had the chance?
If it's a role that already exists...it has to be Ursula from Little Mermaid...hands down. No question! She is the beez knees!
Do you typically follow any kind of routine before doing your show? What does it consist of?
I just depends on what's required of me physically, vocally, mentally. If there's a lot of singing to do I'm definitely somewhere warming up or using my steam inhaler. I like to get myself pretty grounded regardless of the role is dramatic or comedic. If that means being quiet and still, or talking and laughing (within reason), whatever the character/moment needs.
Who would be your dream co-star, dead or alive?
I have quite a few. But the top of my list is definitely my acting heroes Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and Ruby Dee. And anyone who knows me KNOWS I love Angela Lansbury. I am a Jessica Fletcher fan for life.
What do you consider your all-time favorite musical?
I'd have to say it's been Ain't MisBehavin'. I've loved that musical for a very long time. AND I had the amazing opportunity to work with theeee Charlayne Woodard in an off Broadway show earlier this year. She is divine!
What made you want to get into show business? Did you study performance?
I actually always thought I would be a lawyer. Being an actor was not even close to being in the scope of my life. I did have a moment when I thought I would be a music teacher so I went to Westminster Choir College of Rider University for a year. I had to leave because I had a baby to support and plenty of adult responsibilities a little sooner than my, then boyfriend/now husband, and I were prepared for. I did not graduate from college. I got involved in some community theater and realized this was a hidden passion that was manifesting. Although I didn't go to school for what I do, I learned, on the job, from some of the amazing professionals I've been blessed to work with. I've taken independent acting workshops and classes. And I continue to learn, everyday, finding and creating new things. The endless possibilities of performing is just magic!
If you could give one golden nugget of wisdom to those of us trying to break into the business, what would it be, and why?
Be as great as you possibly can be at what you do, don't stop learning, BUT more than that...be an even GREATER PERSON! Be the one they call on, not just for your amazing talent, but also for your amazing spirit. Be a grateful, grounded and good person.
Disney's Newsies runs August 1 - 4 at the Lexington Opera House. Tickets can be found at ticketmaster.com!