BWW Interviews: Linda Balgord of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA National Tour
Coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center from October 8th-19th is the brand new national touring production of the long-running hit, The Phantom of the Opera, featuring Broadway veteran Linda Balgord in the role of Madame Giry.
Linda has a rich history of performing the works of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber on Broadway, International and National Tours and Concerts in the US and London. She starred as Norma Desmond in the first national tour of Sunset Boulevard (Jeff Award Nomination) and as Rose Vibert in the US and Canadian tour of Aspects of Love (Helen Hayes Award Nomination). She was the final Grizabella in Cats on Broadway, singing "Memory" for the last time at the Winter Garden Theatre, when the show ended its record-breaking run.
On Broadway, Linda also created the role of Queen Elizabeth I in The Pirate Queen for which she received a Drama Desk Award Nomination. Her other Broadway credits include Mamma Rose in Gypsy (Stand-by for Patti LuPone), Marie Dindon in the 2005 revival of La Cage Aux Folles and the original company of Passion. Linda was most recently seen in New York in the world premiere of Death Takes A Holiday as the Contessa and in Myths and Hymns as The Woman. She appeared as Zandra, Irene and The Virgin Mary in Jerry Springer The Opera at Carnegie Hall. At the request of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, she performed "With One Look" from Sunset Boulevard at London's Whitehall Banqueting Palace. Her Regional credits include Now and Forever - The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Drowsy in The Drowsy Chaperone, Fanny in Funny Girl (Jeff Award Nomination), Eva in Evita, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha (Jeff Award Nomination) and Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music.
JK: What were our inspirations for wanting to be a performer?
LB: A friend of mine used to go to the library with me all the time when we were kids, we'd be checking out books, acting them out, it's where I've grown to love being a storyteller.
JK: Seeing that you've done a lot of Andrew Lloyd Webber shows, do you remember your first introduction to the works of Andrew Lloyd Webber? If so, what was it?
LB: The original concept album of Jesus Christ Superstar, I listened to that all the time ever since it first came out. As well as Evita, because I just loved listening to Patti LuPone so much!
JK: And the first time you ever saw Phantom, what went through your mind as you were watching it?
LB: I first saw it in Chicago in the late 80's, a friend of mine was conducting, it was amazing!
JK: How excited are you to be touring in this re-imagined production of Phantom all over the country?
LB: Very excited! This production has much more scenery than the original, where you get to see more of the journey to the Phantom's lair, the office of the opera house, etc. It's been so incredible about how fans of the original production have embraced this new production!
JK: How do you think the die-hard fans of the original Hal Prince production should feel coming into seeing this brand new production for the first time?
LB: I think they should just come in with an open mind.
JK: As a performer, how are you able to keep up with performing eight times a week?
LB: Well, because of the fact that we travel all the time, we're always in different environments, so it really takes discipline to do so.
JK: Do you have any dream roles you'd love to pursue in the future?
LB: Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd; Mama Rose in Gypsy, I only got to cover the role twice for Patti LuPone on Broadway, and I would love to continue with the role someday.
JK: Speaking of which, what was it like getting to cover for Patti LuPone?
LB: I followed her all throughout the run, she was very generous, such a force of nature!
JK: Is there any advice you would like to give any aspiring young performers out there?
LB: Get involved in the theatre as much as possible, whether it would be onstage or backstage crew, anything!
JK: I thank you very much for devoting your time to this interview, and I wish you the best of luck with this show!
LB: Thank you!