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Interview with Urinetown's Christiane Noll


One of Broadway's brightest songbirds has been having the time of her life. She's currently in the touring company of one of the most bizarre musical comedy shows to hit the stage in years, Urinetown. Ms. Noll's first Broadway role was Emma, in Frank Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde. After that long run, it's pretty much been non-stop for this busy lady. I caught up with Christiane when the tour pulled into Philadelphia for a chat. Here's how it went.

Pati Buehler: Well, the last time we spoke you were in Philly two years ago appearing with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops. Help me get this right, please. Since then you've played in Lizzie Borden, Kept and the Baker's Wife. Any of those roles you'd like to tell us about? 


Christiane Noll: Wow! They were all very wonderful and challenging. Lizzie Borden was a split ending. You don't really know if she did it or not. It was dramatically challenging. It was a wonderful, wonderful role and I lost my mind a little bit (laughing) but it was great, great fun. Kept was just amazing because you had Henry Krieger, Bill Russel, huge legends in the theater business, and I was their leading lady. To have them sit there and say "the opening number we'd originally written is just not working. So, we're going to write you a new song." It was like; this is the song that you inspired us to write! " Oh! Ok.That was just a gift. You don't have that happen today". And Baker's Wife, I've been singing "Meadowlark" for as long as I can remember and finally getting to work with Stephen (Schwartz) was an honor and having him trust me to do it. They're still doing a lot of work on it and they're kicking it around. I hope that they make some sense of it. And, that they still want me to do it is great. I've been really fortunate for the projects that have been entrusted to me.

PB: Yes, you've have been very fortunate and busy. What's been happening with your concert projects? 

CN: I have a steady stream on concerts dates that I will do. This year I got to do The New Moon. City Center Encores finally has gotten to do their first operetta. Myself and opera star Rodney Gilfry were the ones that got to do it. That was something I've been campaigning for, for about three years. I was talking to everyone about it. So that when it happened I actually got to do it, that was a little dream come true for me. They're actually hoping to record it come the end of this year. Concerts are just a wonderful way to get out to different parts of the country.

PB: That great! Get us up to par with Urinetown. What's it like to play Hope Caldwell?

CN: What's it like? hmmm. Well, she's bound and gagged througout most of Act two (laughing). And she's like an ingénue on Ritalin! It's hysterical. It's a trip; a big party as far as I'm concerned. They sing some good stuff and the writers are so wonderful. She's funny. She plays it very strange but very from the heart, completely sincere. But she's wacky! ( laughing). It's seductive and wonderful to do comedy. It's that direct response that you've connected with the audience, when you've tickled somebody's funny bone and they let you know it, you get that feedback instantaneous and I've had a ball! The cast that they have gathered is absolutely amazing. Even during rehearsal, it was a mutual admiration society from day one. People like Tom Hewitt is just flawless and the nicest man on the face of the planet and so funny. Really, everybody is incredible.

PB: Our readers want to know how you can keep a straight face and do this?

CN: hmmmm. I can't. (Laughing). And sometimes I don't! But that's the fun of this show. You really try to be as honest as possible. You might be very serious about something and some people think that's very funny. We're used to the laughs, unless someone has a very goofy laugh and then that tickles us, up there. I don't remember what city it was, but there was one person who had this sort of horse laugh. Actually he sounded more like a donkey (imitates a donkey). The guy just got tickled and we just kept holding for him. It made the rest of the audience chuckle. By this time the cast was completely broken up. Fortunately we were at the end of the show.

PB: You are having too much fun with this! (Laughing). Any new CD's or projects you're working on.

CN: As we talked about, they're hoping to do a cast recording of the New Moon. The piece is about 100 years old but there are no good recordings of it. So I hope that this happens. Solo venture? I've been talking to Bruce Kimmel the producer from my "Broadway Love Stories", and Gershwin album. He wants to get his hand back in the recording industry, so we're batting ideas around again.

PB: Great. Now, have you gotten into and new sports or stunts? 

CN: Well, golf has taken the forefront. It very, very important actually. But I'm letting my clubs sit at home until about February or March. I did hang gliding about a year ago when I did a concert in Rio. That was fun. Oh, you know, kayaking and rock climbing while I was in CA. Hiking and running around the woods. That's so much fun. 

PB: Well, we can always count on you to be having some fun, whether it's onstage or off. I wish you continued fun and success. I can't wait to see the show. 

CN: Great! Thanks, Pati and I hope you enjoy it. 

PB: Thanks Christiane!

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photo: Rodney Gilfry & Christiane Noll in " New Moon"

photo credit: Joan Marcuss

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