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BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Lindsay Mendez

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Lindsay Mendez
Lindsay Mendez

Today's subject usually lives her theatre life on a Broadway or Off-Broadway stage in NYC. You might have seen Lindsay Mendez in Godspell, Everyday Rapture, Dogfight or as the 10th anniversary Elphaba in Wicked, but on Jan 13th at the Lisner Auditorium we will be lucky enough to have her in our area for a very special event.

Don't Rain on my Parade 75 Years of Streisand is exactly what the name suggests. It's a salute to arguably one of the greatest talents of our time. Besides Mendez, the concert boasts such Broadway talents as Laura Osnes, Amber Iman and local favorite Bayla Whitten. The event is hosted by TV and film personality Fran Drescher and features the American Pops Orchestra under the direction of Luke Frazier.

As you will read, Mendez loves performing the work of new writers. One of her proudest experiences was with Dogfight. For her work on that show, Mendez received a Drama Desk Nomination, Outer Critics Circle Nomination, and a Drama League nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her performance as Rose Fenny. The writers of that show are Benj Pasek and Justin Paul whose Dear Evan Hansen is now on Broadway after a tryout engagement here in DC at Arena Stage.

Lindsay's concert work includes performing as part of the Lincoln Center American Songbook, and with the Annapolis Symphony, and the Hartford Symphony. Some notable New York venues where she has performed include Feinstein's, Birdland, Subculture, the Delacorte, Joe's Pub and 54 Below. Last year, she was a featured singer at the Library of Congress helping to induct Marvin Hamlisch's music into its collection.

She debuted on Broadway in Grease working under the Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall and has also been seen Off-Broadway in The Marvelous Wonderettes.

She frequently performs with jazz pianist Marco Paguia and together they have released a cd entitled This Time.

You might also remember her from her work on the musical theatre based NBC TV show Smash.

Her non-musical credits include The Rose Tattoo at Williamstown Theater Festival, The Winter's Tale at Shakespeare in the Park's Delacorte Theatre, and 21 Chump Street as part of This American Life LIVE at Brooklyn Academy of Music.

When not performing onstage, Lindsay is a renowned voice and acting coach for artists around the country. With composer Ryan Scott Oliver, she co-owns and runs Actor Therapy, a NYC- based musical theater master class series that mentors artists navigating the performing arts industry.

January 13th is going to be a big night and Lindsay Mendez is one of the reasons why. If you have seen her before, then you already know what a talent she is. If January 13th is your Lindsay Mendez indoctrination, then you are in for a treat.

Were you a musical theatre kid growing up and what was the Broadway musical that made you say "I want to do this for a living?"

I most definitely was one growing up. Like 100%. It was the screen, actually. The movie The Wizard of Oz and the classic MGM musicals are what did it for me.

January 13th is going to be a big night as you will be performing with the American Pops Orchestra as it celebrates Barbara Streisand. Without divulging too much, can you please give us an idea what audiences will hear if they come to the concert?

All of the influential classics or at least an attempt to do all of them. It's such iconic music. I am looking forward to hearing the arrangements sung by the eclectic talent we have assembled. I'm really excited.

Everyone has a favorite Streisand song. What is yours? Please explain your choice.

Definitely "Don't Rain on My Parade." The triumph of that song and the way it's written makes it so exciting. It has lots of tension and Streisand's version rings through every time.

You've been involved in a bunch of shows by up-and-coming writing teams. Kooman and Diamond and Pasek and Paul are two examples of this. What do you enjoy the most about performing the work of these young writing teams?

It's been a huge honor to collaborate and create new theatre with new writers and to create theatre that will last after my lifetime. It's been in the most truthful way possible. It's my favorite thing to do.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Lindsay Mendez
Lindsay Mendez as Rose Fenny in Dogfight. Photo by Joan Marcus.

You were one of the leads in Dogfight by Pasek and Paul. Can you please talk about the experience of working on that show? Was there a particular reason it didn't transfer to Broadway?

That was my all-time favorite experience because of the people involved; plus it was a fabulous role to create. I got to see what that role did to the audience every night with help from the director, Joe Mantello. I'm just as stumped as you are as to why it didn't transfer. It got huge responses from the audiences nightly and I had stage door conversations about the story with the audiences. Dogfight holds a special place in my heart and I try to sing the songs whenever I can.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Lindsay Mendez
Lindsay Mendez as Elphaba in Wicked. Photo by Joan Marcus.

You played Elphaba in Wicked. Can you please tell us about the process of being put into a long-running Broadway musical? How much time was there from your first rehearsal to first performance?

I had four weeks to learn the show. Yes, it is very different to be put into that show. It's like being a hamster in a maze with lots of playing by the numbers. I did have lots of freedom from Joe Mantello [the director] to have my own journey with the character and not copy someone else's interpretation.

What do you have coming up in 2017?

I'm very excited to be doing my first Broadway play. It's called Significant Other. It will be at the Booth Theatre starting on Valentine's Day after an engagement at Roundabout Theatre Company. It written by Joshua Harmon who will be making his Broadway debut with this show along with the director, Trip Cullman. It's a new challenge for me and a chance to go in a different direction without having to sing eight shows a week.

Special thanks to the American Pops Orchestra's publicist Dan Fortune for his assistance in coordinating this interview.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.

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