BWW Interviews: For Chelsea Williams, A Big, Crowded Greek Wedding
After playing Sophie in the Las Vegas production of Mamma Mia! last summer, Chelsea Williams rejoins the touring company, which performs for Broadway San Diego from April 3-5, 2015. Thrilled to be back on the road with a starring role in the eighth longest-running show in Broadway history, the Boston-educated Williams dishes about singing, dancing, and her identification with her spirited character.
EM: Tell me about your background. When did you first start to sing? Was dancing also a part of that equation?
CW: I grew up a total athlete. I remember when I was very young, my parents wanted to expose me to any extracurricular activity in which I might have expressed the slightest interest. I sampled ballet and the clarinet, both of which I tried and didn't have the attention span for, and was even offered to be taken to community theatre auditions. I was petrified and refused. T-ball and the soccer field were the places I felt like I could shine. Singing came later, though it was always a part of me. I sang in many choral groups from middle school to college, and somewhere along the way picked up voice lessons, where I finally gained the courage to audition for a production in high school. Everything moved pretty fast from that point on, sports slowly dropping by the wayside and acting taking its place, leading me to musical theatre training in college.
EM: You went to school in Boston. What about that city makes it a great place to study and pursue your education? Did you enjoy being there?
CW: Boston will always be one of my favorite cities because of its big city history, architecture, and opportunity combined with the small town vibe of its people. It felt like the perfect stepping stone for getting to New York. I found that I was able to gain experience outside of the classroom in Boston's regional theatre scene, which expanded and reinforced the training I was getting in school.
EM: What's it like to play a starring role in a musical that's been a smash hit on Broadway and on the silver screen?
CW: It's an absolute dream to play Sophie. I know that there may be pressure to appear as she does in the movie or in the many stage incarnations seen for years on Broadway and the road, but I really take delight in making her my own character. When I started rehearsals, I had never seen the show before, and that gave me an interesting perspective that is (hopefully) completely my own.
EM: Tell me about your character, Sophie, and her relationship with her mom and possible fathers. Is there a moral to the story?
CW: Sophie is an energetic spirit with an earnest heart. She's had an interesting upbringing without a father, though there's never been a lack of love from her mother and fiancé. That puts her in a tough position with the one who raised her and the one she loves the most - how do you explain to those people that there's still a piece missing from your life? She does the best she can as a 20-year old bride-to-be with a wild plan unfolding before her eyes. To me, the moral lies in understanding and communication. Though the paths she and her mother take are seemingly unconventional to one another, they have to find peace in knowing they've always done the best they could, and that is enough.
EM: Could you comment on the family values portrayed in MAMMA MIA?
CW: I believe that MAMMA MIA! shows the immense love that exists in families who may be different from what we expect in a functioning family dynamic. It takes work and compassion for any relationship to function well, and though Sophie grows up without a father, she comes to understand the choices made by her mother.
EM: Which of ABBA's hit songs do you enjoy singing the most?
CW: Thank You For the Music. Hands down. I find the sentiment of that song so beautiful.
EM: There is a lot of talk about love and romance in MAMMA MIA. Do you believe in love at first sight?
CW: Personally - no. I fall in love with people's minds and hearts, so what I see upon first meeting them doesn't mean much. Shoes in a store window, on the other hand...
Photo Credit: Kevin Thomas Garcia