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BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Tracy Lynn Olivera

Today's subject Tracy Lynn Olivera is currently living her theatre life onstage at Signature Theatre as the stalwart countess Charlotte in Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Tony Award-winning musical, A Little Night Music. The production runs through October 8th in Signature's Max Theatre.

Tracy's versatility as an actress makes her a DC theatre force of nature. Consider some of Tracy's credits and you'll see my point. She's played a raunchy barmaid belting out a song called "Vodka" in Brother Russia at Signature Theatre and the matriarch of a turn of the century family in Ragtime at Ford's Theatre. She's entertained your kids singing about "Cookies" and how Toad looks funny in a bathing suit in A Year with Frog and Toad at Imagination Stage. In a non-singing turn, she came on stage the last third of Bachelorette at Studio Theatre as the bride-to-be and all was right with that show.

That is only a very small sample of how Tracy has been impressing and delighting area audiences over the years. Some other performances you might remember include The Last Five Years at MetroStage; 110 in the Shade (Helen Hayes recipient); Hello Dolly at Ford's Theatre; Les Misérables at Signature Theatre; Rancho Mirage and The Sound of Music at Olney Theatre Center; Passion, Merrily We Roll Along, and Sunday in the Park with George at Kennedy Center as part of the Sondheim Celebration, and The Comedy of Errors at Ford's Theatre. She also appeared on Broadway in the revival of Ragtime that started at the Kennedy Center in 2009.

She is an accomplished jazz singer and frequently performs with Grammy Award-winning pianist Lenny Williams. Her solo cd is entitled Because.

Tracy is married to the hilarious and oh so talented performer Evan Casey. The couple are the parents of a son named Oscar Linus and a Saint Bernard named Beasley.

Tracy Lynn Olivera is a rare breed of performer to be sure. If her name appears in your program, there is nothing to worry about. Her performance in A Little Night Music is no exception. Check out Tracy and a cast headed by Holly Twyford and Bobby Smith. It will give you a smile on a summer or early fall night. You will leave uplifted and waltzing out of the theatre. Grab your tickets while you can for a delightful "Weekend in the Country" compliments of Tracy Lynn Olivera and company and Mr. Sondheim, of course.

You trained at Catholic University of America (CUA) under the dearly missed Jane Pesci-Townsend. Would you say she had the greatest influence on you becoming a performer, or were there others that also played a role in it?

I already knew I wanted to be a performer when I met Jane, since I did go to school for performing - to train to be a performer. But Jane definitely had one of the largest impacts on HOW I perform today, as well as how I teach and interact. And live. She touched my life in many ways. Fun fact: Jane directed me in A Little Night Music when I was a sophomore at CUA.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Tracy Lynn Olivera
One of Tracy Lynn Olivera's earliest performances at Signature Theatre with their production of Allegro. Photo by Scott Schulman.

How did you first come to Signature Theatre?

I did the 1999 production of Sweeney Todd led by Norm Lewis and Donna Migliaccio.

You have performed in a bunch of Stephen Sondheim musicals at Signature Theatre over the years. What do you consider to be the most challenging Stephen Sondheim score that you have sung? Please explain your choice.

I think Passion is probably the trickiest one, musically, that I have worked on. (I did that at the Kennedy Center Sondheim Festival in 2002.)

Along the same line, is there a Sondheim musical that you have already performed in that you would either like to revisit in the same role or a different role?

One of the greatest things about Sondheim musicals is that you can revisit them at different times in your life, and play different roles. I played Joanna (in Sweeney) when I was 21--someday I'll be a kickass Lovett.

You are married to the crazily hilarious Evan Casey. How did the two of you meet and how many shows have you performed in together?

We met doing Allegro at Signature (in the garage space in 2004). We actually have only done a few shows together, sadly. Besides Allegro, we did The Boy Detective Fails, The Hollow, and Company at Signature, and Meet John Doe and Shenandoah at Ford's. That might be it. Not enough. We will be playing opposite each other in On the Town up at Olney Theatre Center next year though, and I'm psyched about that.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Tracy Lynn Olivera
Tracy Lynn Olivera in one of her many cabaret appearances at Signature Theatre. Photo by Weslie Woodley.

Many of us have seen you perform in cabarets either as a solo artist or with another performer. I rather enjoyed the one you did with Bobby Smith a few years ago. Have you ever considered pursuing the cabaret scene as a full-time career, or will theatre always be your first love?

That would be delightful, if it were possible to make a living as a cabaret performer. I would love to make more money doing concerts and "appearances," but sadly, cabaret doesn't pay much.

After A Little Night Music, what does the 2017/18 season hold in store for you?

I'm doing the world premiere TYA musical, Me... Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of Young Jane Goodall at the Kennedy Center Family Theatre and On the Town (with Evan) at Olney Theatre Center next summer.

Special thanks to Signature Theatre's Deputy Director of Creative Content and Publicity James Gardiner for his assistance in coordinating this interview.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.

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