BWW Interview: Faith Prince of FANCY FAITH at Hudson Stage Company

Faith Prince has been dazzling Broadway audiences since winning the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her performance as "Ms. Adelaide" in Guys and Dolls. As one of Broadway's best loved leading ladies, Faith most recently starred in The Broadway musical Disaster! Prior to that she was seen in a role she was born to play-the scheming, irascible "Miss Hannigan" in the revival of Annie on Broadway. In 2008, she was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for A Catered Affair. Other Broadway credits include The Little Mermaid, Bells Are Ringing (Tony, DD, OCC noms), Nick & Nora (OCC Award), Jerome Robbins' Broadway (Tony, DD noms), Little Me, The Dead, and Noises Off. She also starred in the world premiere of Terrence McNally's Unusual Acts of Devotion and in the national tour of the Broadway hit Billy Elliott . Faith currently recurs as Joey Lawrence's mother on ABC Family's long running series "Melissa & Joey" and just wrapped her 5-season run as Brooke Elliott's mother on Lifetime's hit series "Drop Dead Diva." She was a series regular on Showtime's "Huff" starring as "Kelly Knippers," the love interest of Oliver Platt, and recurred for five seasons on "Spin City". Other television credits include, "Happy Endings", "Ugly Betty", "Grey's Anatomy", "CSI", "Faith", "House", "Medium", "Sweet Potato Queens", "Monk", "Now and Again", "Welcome To New York" and "Law and Order". Film credits include "Our Very Own", "Picture Perfect", "Dave", and "My Father the Hero". Faith recently completed an Australian concert tour with her Annie co-star Anthony Warlow, which included performances at the Sydney Opera House and the Adelaide Festival. She works often with the Boston Pops, Utah Symphony, Cincinnati Pops, and Philly Pops, and starred in the Orlando Philharmonic's concert version of Sweeney Todd. Faith toured her show "Moving On" in Australia to rave reviews, and also toured in "Over the Rainbow", a concert celebrating the centennial of Harold Arlen. Faith's new album, Total Faith, was recorded at the Royal Room in the Colony Hotel in Palm Beach and was recently released by Broadway Records. Her award winning album, A Leap Of Faith, was recorded at Joe's Pub.

I had the honor of chatting with Ms. Prince about her upcoming performance to benefit the Hudson Stage Company - Fancy Faith.

Okay. Hi!

Hi there! First of all, I saw you recently in Disaster and it was so much fun. I mean, you were a hoot. I couldn't even get over how over the top you are.

I know, I know.

It was so good. It was the best night ever. I thought that was seriously my favorite theater experience this year. I thank you for that.

I know. Oh, absolutely. It's gobsmacking that we didn't make it to the Tonys, you know.

Yes, I was really bummed. There was Musical Theater royalty up there. I couldn't even believe it. I felt like it was ... A scenery of riches up there with all you powerhouses. I was just so excited.

The best people, the best people.

That's great to hear. That's good to hear. You never knowwhat goes on behind the scenes.

Yes.

Yes, so I would have seen it again.

My favorite cast I've ever been with.

Excellent!

My 14th Broadway show, yeah.

Oh my. You know, it's funny, I had heard about you when I was a grad student at Purchase College in opera and a friend of mine, a colleague, had mentioned this alumnae she had gone to Cincinnati Conservatory with, and she had spoken about you before you appeared in Guys and Dolls, so I had heard your name back in the day. You were the real deal, technically trained and it was really inspiring! Now I'm talking to you. I've come full circle.

It's such fun. You were in opera, that's amazing.

Yes, but I also studied musical theater. Me and my brother, Tom Kitt grew up performing musical theater together, admiring people like you from afar. By getting to meet all of our heroes has us pinching ourselves on a regular basis!

It sounds like you have an amazing family too.

Yes, well, we like to keep it real though. That's why I'm still a fangirl. It never gets old!

You know the real secrets.

Oh yes.

I spent my training on other things than the lyrics or the notes. It's like so much goes into that broth, you know?

Yes, yes. How did you get your start?

It's about longevity and being happy and balanced and all that stuff.

Oh yes, oh yes. It can really suck the life out of you if you don't have a good attitude about it. Maybe that's why you're named.

You know, I've thought about that, honestly. I have said to friends at one point, you know like when people say, I need to say this here, and I went, well, my name is . There's certain responsibilities that do go with that name.

Well, it is exciting that you are doing the benefit for the Hudson Stage Company.

Yes!

It's really exciting for our little town of Armonk! I heard that you actually did a benefit for them before.

I have. I've just done a couple of numbers. One summer they had a bunch of us kind of do things and it was the first time I had done something with my son. He's gone on to do his own thing, but he does fill in for my act a lot. It's funny, because my husband is a trumpet player and a musical contractor. He was not with me that summer, and so I had Henry by myself. I think he was, I'm going to say, 14 or 15, something like that. Alex Rybeck, my accompanist I usually am with was like, "Well, let's get together and see what numbers you would be good on." We decided to do this tune, "Sweet Kentucky Ham," which I'm going to do at this benefit as well. He just accompanies me on acoustic guitar and there was an interlude part where I had to look at him, and honestly I almost passed out because I was just so nervous. I had never factored that in. He was as cool as a cucumber. You know, we ran it and I said, "You know, if you want to do it down the road," because we had a few other cities and things to do. He said, "No, I'm going to jump in."

How special for you and him!

Photo by Rana Faure

I said, "Okay." We started the number and I turned to him. I mean, I am not kidding you, I almost passed out.

Performing with him?

Yes, just being with him and being onstage with him! I don't know if it's a control thing, you know what you can do and you want your kid ... Is this what it's like? This is painful.

I know. I have three kids myself, so I get more nervous, and they perform as well so I know I'm always having hot flashes when I'm sitting in the audience. It's crazy.

Yeah, I mean, really. Maybe it's because we know what's involved.

Truly!

I really just almost passed out. He was like, "Wow, that was cool. Can't wait to do that again." He had the best time. Amanda McBroom was there. My son says, "This is what you've been doing all this time when you go away to do your shows?" He said, "You've been hanging out with these people?" I'm like, "yes." He said, "Mom, this is cool." You could see him putting this whole thing together. Now he's in LA and he's an interning music producer. He comes up in the summer to play. They have the Sacramento Music Circus here in Sacramento, California, which is a professional summer theater camp, and he played three shows for his dad.

Oh, great.

Photo by Rana Faure

I just will never forget because the Hudson Stage Company was my first experience.

Okay, that's very special. He plays classical guitar or rock or jazz?

No. Well, he kind of plays everything. He went to school for a jazz program, but he left in his junior year because he met all these music producers in LA. He went to Music schools, and he just said, "You know what? What I want to do is in LA. Why would I go to these other schools and then have to start from the ground up?" He really had a plan. He came home last Thanksgiving and said, "Okay, so I have four music producers I can intern for and if I don't walk through this door, I could miss my opportunity." We said, "Okay, you got to do it."

Yes.

You don't need a piece of paper for that.

Right, right. If you can't do anything else, you have to do that.

Right.

I mean, my brother got offered job at Morgan Stanley, right out of college, and he went to my parents and said, "I just can't. I got to try and do this music thing," and my parents said, "Then we will support you."

Yup! My sister-in-law was like, "He's going back, right?" I was like, "I don't think so." She goes, "Well, he's got to go back and finish." I went, "For what?"

Right.

She said, "English, anything." I went, "I don't think it works like that."

Plan B. That's what we were told.

It wasn't that. I'm not saying that you can't have a plan B, but you got to want a plan B.

So tell me about the benefit itself.

Yes, Alex Rybeck is playing for me, who's a wonderful pianist and also composer. I call it "Have a Little Faith" or "Fancy Faith." I always use my name in the title just because I can. It's just my little angle. I love to tell stories and some of the inside stuff. I mean, honestly, it's one of my favorite things. I'm going to St. Louis to teach it and about maybe eight years ago, I was asked to come teach and I was said, "I don't really teach."

I guess that wasn't true!

Of course, they couldn't shut me up. I think I found my calling.

Yes.

I stay performing so I can be current and be in the trenches and never forget what it's like, you know?

Right. I mean, you've had such an incredible career. I have to say, when I was researching the other day, I had forgotten that you were in that movie, The Last Dragon. I loved that movie growing up!

I thought I was doing Medea. I was so committed!

It was such a fun movie, and then of course Falsettos is my favorite also. That just wrecked me that whole show, and you have to do that. I mean, you can go from amazing, over the top comedy, to just heart-tugging drama.

That's what I love. I love turning on a dime. That's why I like Shirley in Disaster. People go, "I can't believe you just convulsed and then when you were dying, you were really dying." I went, "Oh yeah, got to go there."

Yes. Well, comedy is tragedy plus time, right?
What was Shirley's "I Want" number, did you have that kind of moment?

Yes, definitely, and just dilemma. I was telling somebody about I'm "The Greatest Star." We had to do it for this Fanny Brice thing and honestly, I had never done that song. Here I am, what, 50-something, and I started really breaking it down and I thought, oh my God, this is a real dilemma because if you just project confidence and arrogance, nobody cares. If it's a real dilemma, it's like, look, I don't know how to say this, but I am sitting on all this talent and nobody knows it.

Right, right.

It's like, I don't know what to do about it. I mean, really, you should see me. I can make people laugh at the bus stop. Hey, I'm the biggest thing, down at the whatever. I just can't seem to find anybody to let me do it.

Right.

I mean, it opened that song up. It just made it so much fun. Then you pull the audience in and they want you to get what you need.

Yes, I guess you're still learning even with everything you do. I mean, you have to break it down that way. Otherwise it becomes karaoke or something.

Exactly, and especially a classic that Barbra Streisand has done, who am I inside of this, you know?

Yeah.

I don't know. I still like that stuff. I like thinking about it.

Are there any roles you want to do that you're thinking in the future?

I have a lot on my bucket list. Hello Dolly. Let's see. You know, and I mean I don't think it's as good a piece, Mame, but I could be a great Mame, you know? People always want me as Gooch, but I'm so much more. Gooch is fine, I'm just so much more than that in terms of what I have to say. I look at Dolly and I go, wow, I mean, honestly what comes to mind is this woman was a salesman and she could've been a CEO. She was crafty, she was calculating, she was charming. She was looking for the banter, which when she finally found Horace Vandergelder. I mean, I look at things like that. That drives a whole show, you know? Then she got fired, you know? She was like, "I need somebody else to lean on."

Right. Well, I hope you get your chance.

Yes, I mean, I do it a couple times a year at the Sacramento Music Circus and then it just never worked out. Let's see, I did Mrs. Lovett once with the Orlando Philharmonic. That was a fast version. It was a great role for me.

You did Tessie Tura, in Gypsy, right?

Yes, I did Tessie. Yeah, I did Tessie like 29, 30, 31, something like that. An old stripper at 30, okay. I've always been an old soul.

I mean, in general, the fact that you did Anna in The King and I and you did Adelaide. Did you feel like you were typed at one point or you just were like, "I'm going to do my own thing, wherever it takes me."

You know, I think they wanted to, and I tell students this, "It's your choice, not theirs." This kid asked me, "How do you make somebody see you other than what they put you in?" I went, "Your audition material." Give them what they think you are and then turn it on a dime and go the other way. Blow their minds. Kick their heads off.

Did that happen with any of the roles that you've done or that you were completely not even in the mix?

Oh, yes. I used to get so good about my audition pieces and it wasn't like, "Oh, what do they want? What do they need?" It was like, "This is what I got for you today." I just carved my space out. I'm telling you, I would do a big comedy number and then I'd turn it on a dime and do something like "I Think it's Gonna Rain Today," by Randy Newman. I'd just go really dark.

Oh, wow. I mean, that's good to know, especially for young singers who all want to sing "Let It Go" or something from Frozen.

Exactly, exactly. That's the kind of information I get out to people, you know? You take the control.

Well, that is quite valuable. Is there anything you want to talk about?

Oh no. I mean, I'm just always excited to meet with people, to share in any way I can. I mean, really that's probably why I was put on this earth, you know?

Yes, definitely.

Any time I'm living that purpose, I'm a happy girl. People say, Disaster closed so soon. You switch lanes and you use it. You had a great time, you know? You do the best you can, and then you're going south.

Broadway's so fickle anyway. A lot of shows closing right now.

Political and different, and it's always been that way. I've been on both sides of that. You can't take that personally.

Nope. I have seen both sides as well.

Right.

Right. Well, I really appreciate this and we're so excited to see you this month.

Well, I can't wait to meet you and I can't wait to be there. It's my pleasure.

Yes, thank you so much. I'm glad we were able to chat!

Fancy Faith

Tony award winner Faith Prince in concert to benefit Hudson Stage Company.

The concert will be held at Whippoorwill Theatre at the North Castle library on Sunday July 31st at 5:00 PM. Immediately following there will be cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at AMORE restaurant - a short stroll from the theatre with Faith and the company.

Tickets are $125.00 each and tax-deductible to the amount prescribed by law.

All proceeds directly benefit the upcoming season of HSC - a non-profit professional theatre dedicated to producing provocative, affordable and transformative theatre to its audiences



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From This Author Kathryn Kitt