Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Interview: Misty Cotton Takes on the Mother of all Mothers in CARRIE THE MUSICAL

Last week we introduced you to Emily Lopez, soon to be playing Carrie in the revival of Carrie the Musical at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Today we meet Misty Cotton, the other powerhouse actor who will be leading the cast as the mother of all mothers, Margaret White. Misty appeared on Broadway as Ellen in Miss Saigon and also originated the role of Missy in Roger Bean’s The Marvelous Wonderettes, playing it Off-Broadway and in numerous regional theaters around the country. The petite actress with the big voice has also toured in Les Misérables and starred opposite Donny Osmond in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She most recently appeared in The Troubadour Theatre Company’s production of The Snow QUEEN in Los Angeles.

A day off from rehearsals gave Misty a chance to catch her breath and tell us a little about her road to Carrie and what it’s like stepping into this iconic role.

Was there anything unusual about how you were cast or was it a straight ahead audition situation?

It was a pretty normal audition situation however my first time auditioning for this creative team was about a year and a half ago when they were first going to produce it. Then I got called in for it when this co-production with La Mirada was seeing people. Interestingly though, I had auditioned for the Off-Broadway production after having worked with the director Stafford Arima on Miss Saigon at Sacramento Music Circus. He thought I was right for it and had me come to N.Y. and audition. So I have been aware of this new version and the material for a while.

Carrie is based on Stephen King’s well-known horror novel and even if people don’t know the musical they definitely know the Brian de Palma film with Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie (who was downright scary!) Does that present any specific challenges for you in creating your version of the character?

Piper is not only scary but genius in the role! It earned her an academy award nomination. I actually had the pleasure of working with her last winter on a production of A Little Night Music at The Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara. She’s an amazing lady and is really looking forward to seeing this production. The biggest challenge is coming to terms with the fact that this can’t be like the movie. The role is written differently for the musical and many of what would be dialogue scenes for me are now songs. There’s actually one scene where it’s a bit of a hybrid of two scenes in the film. The roles in the movie have become so iconic that the challenge is to make the role my own with what is written for the musical. People shouldn’t expect to see the movie on stage. That being said, the hashtag for the show is #experiencecarrie so they are sure to experience things that they only can in this live version. 

The show deals with all kinds of high school issues: bullying, peer pressure, religion, suppression… How does this revival handle them, and are they all secondary to the fact that it is a “horror” story? 

From what I understand, in the 2012 Off-Broadway production they really shone a light on the bullying aspect of the story. I have been able to watch some of the scenes with Carrie being bullied and it is just heartbreaking. It gives the story a conscience and heart. I’ve always felt Carrie was so much more than a horror story. To me it’s more a psychological thriller dealing with many issues. 

Would you talk a little about the style of music in this revival? Does it lean more toward rock or does it vary based on who is singing?

I wouldn’t call the music rock but more pop. At least some of it. Magaret’s music is very different stylistically compared to what the high school kids sing. She is in a different world so it makes sense that her music would reflect that. I really love listening to this score. I mean look at the pedigree of the award winning creators [Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford]. They know how to write a song!

Other than the obvious, why did you want to be part of the show?

It just isn’t every day you get to play a character like this. It isn’t every day you get to have the lyricist, Dean Pitchford, come to rehearsal and give you firsthand gems of why something was written and how you can use it. It’s a show that has musical theatre cult status and is making its Los Angeles Premiere so that doesn’t happen every day either. This show hadn’t been licensed for over 25 years since it closed on Broadway so this amazing character of Margaret has not only been a coveted role, but one not played by many. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do so. 

What has been the biggest surprise for you as you’ve gotten further into rehearsals?

Margaret’s got to be in shape! The first number out of the gate really is a heart rate raiser. I guess the creative team told the director Brady Schwind to make sure he cast a Margaret who could handle physicality. I’m answering this while I’m at the gym on a treadmill. 

By the way, do you like scary stories?

I do like scary stories. I tend to like more psychological horror than blood and guts. But that can be fun too. 

* * * * * * * * *
CARRIE THE MUSICAL
Music by Michael Gore, Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
Book by Lawrence D. Cohen
Based on the Classic Horror Novel by Stephen King
Directed by Brady Schwind

Cast: Emily Lopez as Carrie White, Misty Cotton as Margaret White, with Kayla Parker (Sue Snell), Jon Robert Hall (Tommy Ross), Valerie Rose Curiel (Chris Hargensen), Jenelle Lynn Randall (Miss Gardner), Garrett Marshall (Billy Nolan), Bryan Dobson (Mr. Stephens and Reverend Bliss), Michael Starr (George Dawson), Adante Carter (Dale Stokes Ullman), Ian Littleworth (Freddy “The Beak” Holt), Kimberly Ann Steele (Helen Shyres), Rachel Farr (Norma Watson), Teya Patt (Frieda Jason) and Carly Bracco, Lyle Colby Mackston, Kevin Patrick Doherty, Chris Meissner and Amy Segal.


The creative team includes Stephen Gifford (set), Adriana Lambarri (costumes), Brian Gale (lights), Cricket S. Myers (sound), Jim Steinmeyer (illusion design), Brian Kennedy (music director/conductor), Adam Wachter (music supervisor), Michael Donovan (casting), and Buck Mason (general manager). The Production Stage Manager is Heidi Westrom.


Carrie the Musical is produced by La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (Brian Kite, Producing Artistic Director), Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, and The Transfer Group; Associate Producers: Joe Everett Michaels, Robb Nanus, Lisa Reich, Jane Lynch.


Performance Dates: March 12 - April 5, 2015 with opening night set for Wednesday, March 18 at 8:30 pm. Tickets are available at www.lamiradatheatre.com or by calling the box office at (562) 944-9801 or (714) 994-6310. Student and Senior discounts are available. For more information on the production, visit www.experiencecarrie.com.


La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is located at 14900 La Mirada Blvd. in La Mirada, near the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue where the 91 and 5 freeways meet. Parking is free.


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