Chatback with Kara Lindsay

Before Kara Lindsay was giving makeovers in the hallowed halls of Shiz, she was writing headlines for the “Newsboy Strike of 1899.” Now, she can add big-screen movie star to her resume, when Fathom Events and Disney Theatrical Productions teamed up to bring a live filmed version of the Tony Award-winning musical Newsies to cinemas nationwide. The engaging & bubbly Lindsay took time one recent morning to talk about the surprising success of Newsies and her inspirational story of how she proved people wrong but more importantly, proved herself right by getting cast as Broadway’s most pop-u-lar witch.

You originated the role of Katherine Plumber in Disney’s Newsies. What was the journey like from tryouts to Broadway?

Goodness. A lot of surprises. I knew it was a big deal from the moment I had auditioned for the role because it was Disney, Alan Menken and Harvey Fierstein behind the project. It was also a brand new show but they downplayed it because they didn’t expect the kind of response it received. From the tryouts at Paper Mill, performing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, coming to Broadway for a limited run and then an open run, winning Tony Awards and now making the movie – it was all unexpected, which made it all the more exciting! A lot of times in this business they get your hopes up and say it’s coming to Broadway and then it doesn’t. But it was the opposite with this show. The goal at the Paper Mill was purely for licensing so high schools around the country could do the show. It was so neat to go through that journey to where we are today.

And the “Fansies” are pretty hardcore. I’m sure they had a lot to do with the commercial success.

Yes, very much so. They’re absolutely the reason for the huge success of this show. Otherwise, we’d be nothing. Disney is listening to the fans and their voices. And that also mirrors the show. It’s about the newsboys being heard. It’s really cool to have watched that and we feel really lucky to have their support.

Congratulations on Newsies Live! I just read it’s breaking box office records. Were there any differences between the stage and film versions?

Thank you! There’s nothing different with my character. When you’re watching a live Broadway show you can be sitting in the last row and miss certain facial expressions. With the movie you get to see everything up close and personal. So it’s intimacy. Also, with film you’re getting a different take on the scene work. I’d say it stands out in the film production more so than Broadway. So intimacy and scene work are the biggest differences.

How long did you have to prepare for Newsies Live?

Not long. Maybe 2 1/2 weeks? It’s been 3 years since I’ve done Newsies and now I’m doing Wicked, which is an entirely different show. It’s funny though. I did Newsies for 2 years so it was like riding a bike. Once we were on stage with the familiar set pieces that we spent day in, day out with – it all started coming back to us. The thing that was unfamiliar was the rehearsal space because we only spent 3 months between Paper Mill and Broadway but we spent majority of the time on stage with the set pieces. So that’s how things started to come back. It’s bizarre!

Now let’s talk about your current show Wicked. Is working in the production just as magical as it appears on stage?

Oh my god, yes! I think Wicked has been a similar experience to Newsies in terms of surprises. Wicked is iconic. Funny story – I saw Megan Hilty as Glinda, when she was the standby. She and I went to college together. She was a senior and I was a freshman and I always looked up to her. I got house seats to the show and I saw her go on as Glinda. She was brilliant and I’d never imagined being on stage playing the same role as her!

So did Megan give you any tips before you took your first bubble ride as Glinda?

No [laughs]. I ran into her again when I was still in Newsies, right before I got cast as Glinda. I wish though!

How did you get cast in the show?

When I first graduated from college I had auditioned for Nessa. That’s who I saw myself as. I was like “there’s no way I could ever play Glinda. That’s hard.” But Nessa never happened for me. I would get to the final callback and not end up getting it. It’s interesting how life works, right? Once I did Newsies, I asked my agents if they would talk to casting to see if they would consider me for Glinda now that I had more experience under my belt. I thought “maybe they’d be willing to see me in a different light?” They agreed to see me and went in for the tour and I ended up getting cast as Glinda. And that was such a wonderful surprise! I was seen as something different for many years and then getting cast as a character I never thought I would be able to do. Your told you’re one thing in this business and sometimes you can prove people wrong and prove yourself right.

How long does it take to transform yourself into Glinda?

Well, I like to get to the theatre an hour before the show even though we’re only required to be there 30 minutes prior. It doesn’t take very long though. It’s down to a science at this point because we do it everyday. Mary Kay puts my hair in pin curls, followed by the wig. My dresser, Cate helps me get into the costumes. She’s just incredible! And I do my own makeup. They teach you in the very beginning how to do your own makeup so from start to finish 25 minutes tops. But I like to get my head in the game so I get to the theatre an hour before.

Any funny on-stage mishaps at Wicked?

Yes! It’s live theatre so you never know what can happen. We’ve had technical and automation difficulties. There’s been a couple of times when the bubble didn’t work especially when on tour because your loading into new theatres. So we would have to do a no bubble show. Just different glitches that you aren’t expecting. The cool thing about live theatre is that you have to roll with the punches unlike film where you can edit things out. It’s all about how you cope with the situation. But it brings laughter to the audience and makes them feel like their a part of the moment.

I got to interview your husband, Kevin Massey last April when his show A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder played in Los Angeles for 6 weeks. We talked about the hardships of a long distance relationship. Has it become any easier?

It will never be easy. It’s not normal. Nothing about this business is normal [laughs]. We didn’t get into it for the money or stability. But that’s the joy of it as well. The fact that he’s been able to travel the country and I get to go visit him and see cities we wouldn’t necessarily travel to has been amazing. And his tour ends on March 12th so he’ll be back home for a little while. So that’ll be really nice. It has it challenges but it’s been wonderful in so many ways. Now it’s going to be how do we live together since we’ve lived apart for the majority of our marriage with me being on tour with Wicked and then him being on tour with Gentleman’s Guide. It will be interesting [laughs].

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I like to go to Yoga. I enjoy doing things for my mind and body. There’s also a lot of cool concert work that happens on my days off at 54 Below or Birdland. I’m doing a concert tonight with Michael Mott. He’s a brilliant new composer. It’s good for our brains to learn new material. Or I’ll just stay home and do nothing. Whatever I’m feeling that day.

1 Comment on Chatback with Kara Lindsay

  1. Newsies and Wicked are two favorite musicals of mine

    Liked by 1 person

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