1. We heard you just had a baby! Congratulations! What has motherhood been like so far?
I love him so much it hurts. He’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
2. You recently released an album called Sing You to Sleep, where did you find inspiration to pick the songs to cover for the album?
I knew I wanted the music to be for everyone, including kids & their parents to be able to listen to together. I wanted this record to be sophisticated, because I think we should play for children the music we want them to love, not music dumbed down for them. My kids are all going to be raised listening to Stevie Wonder. This CD includes Bruno Mars, Sting, Bob Dylan and so many more.
I thought culling through the list of great songs would be hard, but it actually wasn’t. Dan (the producer) said make a list of the 20 songs you “have to sing” and then we narrowed down from there. The final twelve made themselves known pretty easily. They had to have lovely, soothing melodies, happy imagery, and I wanted them to come from a diversity of styles. And lastly, I wanted them to start at a faster tempo and little by little get slower as the album went on. An old trick from my babysitting days.
3. Did you have a favorite part about creating the album?
How easily it all went! Because everyone was so lovely and talented and on their game. From my producer Dan Watt, to the head of Yellow Sound Label, Michael Croiter, to my magnificent music director David Cook, everyone did their job happily and excellently, and there was no suffering in the process. Also, I really loved watching my husband Freddie, a trumpet player, record his stuff. He is a genius, and listening to his solos and licks are my favorite part of listening to the album.
4. We know you recorded a song with your past co-star, Jessie Muller, what was that like?
She’s the loveliest thing you can imagine. It was easy, fast and fun to record with her. And that song, “You Can Close Your Eyes,” is hands down my baby son’s favorite song on the album. Sometimes when we’re in the car and he’s fussing, it’s the only thing that will soothe him.
5. Do you have any other songs that you would have loved to record with other friends/co-stars that you would have put on the album if you could?
Looking back, I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to record, “Somewhere Out There” with Jarrod Spector, since it was originally a duet and since we were playing the writers of the song, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, together on stage every night. Mystified as to why that thought never struck me.
6. Most recently you have been keeping busy by starring as Cynthia Weil in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical on Broadway. What has that experience been like since you have been doing it for quite some time now?
Now I enjoy it mostly for the people I work with. The cast and crew on this show are fantastic people, fun, smart, funny, supportive. It’s one of the happiest backstages I’ve ever worked in.
7. Now that you’re back in Beautiful after maternity leave, what was it like going back into the show?
Now it’s about balancing work and baby. And that has worked out quite nicely. I bring him with me to the theater sometimes, where he is like the mascot of the show. Everyone there is watching him grow up, and he is beloved and spoiled.
8. Many actors get asked how they keep a character fresh after performing it eight times a week for over a long period of time. So how do you keep the character fresh?
You keep it in the fridge over night. Just kidding. Life is change, and everyday something is different, the audience, the weather, perhaps the cast onstage, and I am a day older and therefore a day different. So if you’re sensitive to those changes, it helps you to be in the moment and experience everything like it’s for the first time.
9. Going back, when you found out you would be playing Cynthia Weil, what type of research did you do to prepare?
I read a few books about these writers, watched a documentary, listened to a lot of her music, did a lot of scouring the internet. And then ultimately I played the Cynthia Weil who is on the page, which is a distillation of the essence of Cynthia. It’s the Cynthia Weil in our show, so I play her like any other character in any other script I’ve worked from.
10. You were nominated for a Tony Award for your role in Beautiful, what was that moment like when you were nominated?
Everything about awards and competition in the arts makes me kinda uncomfortable.
11. How did you get your start in performing? Was there a point where you were bitten by the acting bug?
I have 9 brothers and sisters, and I realized early on that I would get attention if I sang loud, so I just kept doing it.
12. What are you going to be doing post-Beautiful?
My husband and I work opposite schedules, which is wonderful for childcare and miserable for our relationship. We tell each other we miss each other at least once a day. So I am going to enjoy him—we are still basically newlyweds, after all—and enjoy my son!
13. To close off, what has been your favorite part of your performance journey so far?
A Look Back