Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Laurel Kaeferlein, who is performing, as Martha Watson, in White Christmas. Read on to hear what she has to say about her experience thus far! LA: Tell us a little bit about why this particular play interested you?
LK: Just like everyone else, “White Christmas” is a holiday classic to me. Interestingly, though, a huge part of why I tried out for this show is because of Mark (one of my friends). The two of us LOVE to sing all of the songs to this show together, and I couldn’t imagine not auditioning for this show because of that.
LA: For those that are unfamiliar with White Christmas can you tell us about the show?
LK: Typically, stage productions are made into movies, but this one is in reverse: the movie “White Christmas” was released in 1954 (which is what most of the show is set in), but the stage version was only released in 2004.
LA: Talk about the character that you play in White Christmas. How have you developed this character?
LK: Martha Watson is the Innkeeper who helps General Waverly run the Inn, coordinate entertainment, and keeps everything running. She is a busy-body who causes the crisis in the show when she misunderstands a phone conversation, thinking that Bob is going to take-over the Inn. Martha’s character is different from the movie version of her, because in the stage version, she is an ex-Broadway star, a singer and a dancer instead of a spinster. She’s also a little racy in her comments with the General, leading the audience to wonder if there’s something going on between the two of them.
LA: Why should people come and see White Christmas?
LK: Are you kidding? Why wouldn’t people come see it?! The singing in this show is phenomenal! Aside from the principals in the cast, the ensemble’s voices are outstanding!
LA: Talk about your fellow cast members, how do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?
LK: Other than the vocal talents that I mentioned above, the cast has powerful stage presence. Rick Gabriel looks and sounds like the General from the movie, Judy and Phil have huge chemistry and are darling together, Bob and Betty have voices to die for…but what truly amazes me are two of the ensemble dancers: Jon Stiff and Jaquie Dickson. They dance like nobody’s business!
LA: What do you feel are the "wow" elements of White Christmas?
LK: Jon Stiff’s tap-dancing. Holy guacamole, can that man tap-dance!
LA: What is your favorite aspect of the show?
LK: I think it’s the director. Seriously…Becky Rizzio is so enthusiastic that I’ll bet that she hasn’t slept a full night since she started directing the show. She is so invested in the show that she makes me want to please her. I’d do my best without her, but there’s something so wonderful about having a powerful director with a vision and love for the cast members at the same time that makes me want to give something even I don’t know that I have inside of me.
LA: Tell us what is something that you are particular excited about this show coming to together? For example, a certain scene, costumes, set, lights, etc?
LK: We are all anxious to see the set. We haven’t been on the stage yet since Sherlock Holmes is still playing in the theater, so we’re all excited to see how it’s going to fit together on the stage.
LA: Are musicals easier or harder then straight show or comedies? If so, why?
LK: I consider myself a singer who can act, so I can’t imagine doing a show that doesn’t involve huge musical numbers! I love comedies, though…as long as I can sing. ;-)
LA: What is your favorite musical to watch?
LK: Wicked. I imagine everyone else will list that show, but it’s true. Wicked is my favorite. I guess my number 2 show is “West Side Story”.
LA: What is your favorite thing to do around the holidays?
LK: Sing at my church. In fact, in order to do “White Christmas”, I have to cut down my singing to only one service (verses the three I normally sing). My favorite day of the year is Christmas Eve because of the music, the colors (red is my absolute favorite color), the lights and the “Reason”. I’m typically at church from 3pm to midnight on Christmas Eve.
LA: Which do you like better White Christmas the movie or the stage version?
LK: Wow. That’s a tough one. I liked the movie version before I was in the stage version, even though I’d seen the stage version at the Ordway. Now that I’m walking through each of the scenes, I understand the story in a different way. I enjoy Martha’s songs so much that it’s hard for me not to like the stage version better right now!
LA: To date what is your favorite role that you have played and why?
LK: Well, to be honest, I gave up theater after High School because I thought I wasn’t good enough. I’ve been singing for years at church and at other events, but it wasn’t until this summer when I auditioned for “Anything Goes” and ended up with the lead of “Reno Sweeney” that I discovered that theater is where I belong. I was typecast as “Reno”…it was the most perfect role for me and I loved every second of it.
LA: What is your dream character to play on stage?
LK: Unfortunately, my dream roles are cast by 20-something women instead of 40-something women, so I’m going to have to re-think what my “dream roles” are. I would love to be either Elpheba or Glinda.
LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
LK: I am a happy, loving, affectionate enthusiast who thinks that we’d have world peace if everyone in the world learned how to play the tambourine. I sing all day everyday, much to the dismay of my three children (although my husband doesn’t seem to mind it). I am also the infamous substitute teacher known as “Mrs. Ladybug”. (My last name, Kaeferlein, means “ladybug” in German, so I use it as my pseudonym when I sub.
LA: Any other area that you would like to comment on?
LK: Due to my demonstrative, enthusiastic and loud nature, I am often misunderstood among “normal people”. When I got back into theater, I realized where I came from.